I love God's Word. Within its pages are the greatest stories ever told - not just entertaining or informational but life changing. Take the next passage for instance -
"After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained." - 1 Samuel 5:1-4
Can you imagine the scene? After celebrating a great military victory the Philistines carry the Ark of the Covenant (think Indiana Jones) into the temple of their idol Dagon as an offering. The next day to their dismay they find their false god face down (an act of worship) in front of the ark. Oops, better prop him back up. Fast forward another 24 hours and the scene repeats except this time poor old Dagon breaks his neck and both wrists. A fatal blow.
So what's the lesson? Most of us don't have a metal/wood/rock figurine that is the object of our worship so we're good right? Maybe and maybe not. At it's core an idol is anything we put ahead of God. Our personal 'Dagon' might be something like a house, car, career, relationship. etc. We are consumed with greed, fear, anger, pride and self.
The solution is God's presence. That is what the ark represents. In God's presence things happen. In God's presence idols come crashing down. In God's presence we are forever changed. By continually pursuing God's presence we can overcome whatever we are facing once and for all. Never underestimate the power of his presence!
Monday, January 14, 2013
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
As the holidays wind down I want to hit the Christmas story from a little different angle. Mother and Child seem to take center stage and rightfully so, the angels and shepherds and wise men all have there time in the spotlight but what about dear old dad?
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." - Matthew 1:18-19
Can you imagine for a moment the sheer sense of betrayal that Joseph felt in that moment? He must have been completely overwhelmed! A man who had determined in his heart to get it right and honor God by waiting to have sex until marriage. What good did that do him? How would any self respecting man feel when his (soon too be) wife shows up pregnant and he KNOWS that he isn't the father? Crushed, furious, ashamed, homicidal, suicidal...?
The first thing I want to point out is that Joseph didn't REACT to the situation.
"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:20-21
Reacting in the heat of the moment rarely if ever works out well. Take a breath, take a moment and take it before the Lord.
"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." - Proverbs 13:3
God may have a completely different perspective than you do and regardless of what you are facing he has a plan and a purpose.
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." - Matthew 1:22-25
Joseph chose to RESPOND and found himself in one of the leading roles of the greatest story in human history. We have all been betrayed, or thought we have been. Either way it hurts. There is no getting around it. The question is will we allow God to write the story of our lives or will we go off script? Will we allow betrayal to define us or drive us deeper into God and forward in his plans for our lives?