Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bringing Down the High Places by Jan Darnell

Week 18--May 2-8
Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 6-25; Psalm 61-64
Key passages for this devotion: 2 Kings 12:1-3

Only when Israel followed the righteous ways of God, would they be victorious and find blessing, favor and prosperity. This is a clear principle that occurs repeatedly throughout the eras of the patriarchs, prophets, judges and kings. It is impossible to read of God’s history with Israel and miss it.

Some of the kings such as Joash in 2 Kings 12:1-3 would do what was right in the sight of the Lord yet refuse to remove the high places of idol worship. Joash and other kings would direct the people to “worship” the false gods according to the custom of the nations where they had been deported from (2 Kings 17:33). What a sad contradiction to the holiness of God, offering Him respect without honor, sacrifice without obedience.

Such a scenario is strikingly similar to the Church age of today. We are willing to respect God but few are willing to obey God’s principles of righteousness, turn from sin and refuse to worship in America’s idolatrous high places. We go the distance with God when it comes to sitting in a church pew or even serving on mission fields yet shrink back at removing the high places of worship around us. I speak to myself primarily but if you can relate, let these chapters from the Word of God speak to you as well. God wants the high places of idolatry around us removed.

When we fail to remove them, we find our enemies prevailing over us. Jesus defeated these enemies on the cross but we must live by His righteous ways in order to walk in the reality of that victory. I guess we have to ask ourselves, “Are we willing to allow our enemies to prevail over us or would we rather trust the righteous ways of God?” It is a struggle, isn’t it!

Be encouraged by passages such as 2 Kings 13:22-23 that speak of God’s dedication towards us despite our spasmodic lack of full devotion to Him. Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz, but the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned toward them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was not willing to destroy them. Even now He has not banished them from His presence. Thank God that He is a faithful Rock and knows no other way to be! God committed Himself to the descendants of Abraham and will not renege on His promises or fail to fulfill His Word. The Church is part of the house of Abraham through Jesus Christ (Ro. 2:28-29). Praise God!

God allowed Israel to be defeated by their enemies when they sinned. The Church of Jesus Christ is no different. Sin is sin and God’s love has not changed the definition. Sin is unrighteousness (1 Jo. 5:17) – the actions and attitudes that contradict the righteousness of God. Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia specifically about the fleshly lusts that oppose the Spirit of life. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance as I told you before that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).

Our culture today dictates to everyone a “tolerance” of sin and places of idolatrous worship. And do you know what? Just like in the days of 2 Kings, the Church praises God in the sanctuary yet tolerates the high places of godless, idolatrous, vain worship in compliance.

We don’t think twice about watching the violent movies that Hollywood produces, therefore supporting the perversion of their pursuits. What if the Church of America stopped doing that? God would bring those high places of violent behavior down. What if the Church of America stopped her drinking in order to still the tide of a drowning nation? God would close the bars and liquor stores. What if the bride of Jesus Christ determined to throttle the rivers of immorality now engulfing our families through the television, internet, pornographic novels and periodicals? Maybe, just maybe we would see the high places of sexual pursuits and worship begin to crumble by the power and for the glory of God! The Church of America must not part ways with God’s laws of righteous living. They are the laws of His Kingdom that protect true life, love and liberty. God will never part with them and neither should we.

Jan has been a Bible student and teacher for 30 years. She and her husband Barry have raised seven children. Her Biblical training has been primarily though the inductive Bible studies of Precept Ministries International, working alongside Kay Arthur in research and writing.

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