Talk about presuming upon tomorrow! I had intended to write this yesterday, however the Lord had other plans for me. Perhaps one day I will learn! The best way I can learn is to stop presuming and start preparing myself spiritually for the future. These will not be the 10 easy steps to holiness or whatever your local Christian bookstore is selling. These are going to be four solid scriptural steps we can take beginning immediately. And as God always seems to have it, the most difficult step is first so we will rely upon His grace. Following the outline in my Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, letâ€™s begin.
Step One: Abandonment of Idols
Oh shucks Bro Dave, thatâ€™s easy…I donâ€™t have any idols. Goody for you; weâ€™ll see you tomorrow, or you can just stick around and eavesdrop on the rest of us. You just might identify an idol you overlooked. Idolatry has been around since Adam and Eve left the Garden. The Prophet Samuel informed Israel:
â€œThen Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, â€˜If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.â€™â€ (1 Samuel 7:3)
If we want to spiritually prepares ourselves for revival, which is the Lord visiting us to bring us back to life, then we must remove all objects of worship that steal from our devotion to God. This list of possible idols is endless, but it can include fame, fortune, power, politics, pornography, family, friends, work, recreation, sports, music, television, Hollywood, just to name a few.
What gets your attention? On what does your mind dwell during the day? Are you at the point in your Christian walk that all you do, you do for the glory of God? Do you measure yourself by the light of Scripture or by the worldâ€™s standards?
Whenever we dwell on the things of this world, we forget how it is we obtained anything we describe as â€œblessings from God.â€ it is important that we be reminded that regardless our possessions or even amongst them, we have to remember that God is in control and not us. Again Samuel reminds Israel of such at no less a place than Saulâ€™s coronation as king:
â€œThen Samuel said to the people, â€˜It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers: When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. Then they cried out to the LORD, and said, â€œWe have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.â€ And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety. And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, â€œNo, but a king shall reign over us,â€ when the LORD your God was your king. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.â€™â€ (1 Samuel 12:6-15)
Uh, uh, uh! Go back and read that again, slowly this time and let it soak in. Thereâ€™s way too much happening there to skim over.
I could develop a college course in American History comparing this Bible passage with our country. God sent America, not perfect men, but men no greater than Moses and Aaron, fallible men who nevertheless acknowledged their dependence upon God. Read the words of George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, and George Mason to name just a few, but our founders knew we were blessed by God and had been rescued from Britainâ€™s tyranny by the Lordâ€™s providential hand.
This is the reminder Samuel is giving his people. He also reminds them that God brought a revival to them after they repented of their idolatry and cried out to God to rescue them. The American Church is constantly claiming Godâ€™s promise found 2 Chronicles 7:14, but we need to turn our Bibles to the preceding chapter and also remember Solomonâ€™s prayer of dedication to God for the newly built temple:
â€œOr if Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and their fathers. When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.â€ (2 Chronicles 6:24-27)
Go back and read the entire sixth chapter of 2 Chronicles and see what a true leader of a nation looks like. Would to God that our elected leaders and pastors would pray this prayer! Instead, we sling 2 Chronicles 7:14 around like some magic incantation without ever considering tearing down our Ashoreth poles and Baal statues. We approach the throne of grace with our filthy rags and almost demand that God bless what weâ€™ve so graciously done for Him. Shame on us!
Oh that we would cry out to the Lord and confess to and petition God: â€œWe have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.â€
Beloved, you and I had better get on our faces before Jesus and ask Him to show us our Ashoreth poles and Baal statues so that we can not only abandon them, but also we can destroy them so that they return to us nevermore.
Once we get them out of our homes, then we can began by clearing out our churches.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright Â© 2011 David Jeffers