Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Finishing Well

Oh my goodness! I'm so old my baby picture is in black and white! Argh! Well, we're illustrating a point here, so I'm taking one for the team, okay?

I've been convicted lately that I've become spiritually soft. By "lately" I don't mean days. I mean years. I can remember early in my salvation when I spent literally hours in the Word of God. I couldn't wait to open the Book. I can also remember a time when a problem sent me directly to my knees. Not so, now that I have all these years of wisdom to my credit. Now, I seem to believe I possess the ability to work things out for myself. Ha, isn't that a laugh?

Unfortunately, I'm not the only sprinter in this marathon God calls a spiritual life. It's a pattern often repeated in Scripture, a tragic ending to every life affected by this spiritual malaise. My daily devotions these days are in 1 & 2 Chronicles, so I'm reading a lot about the Kings of Israel and Judah. You may think it's boring, but let me tell you - it's better than any soap opera!

  • David - faithful shepherd, anointed king, trusted God to save his life while he ran from King Saul and fought Philistines. But later in life, when he grew successful and soft in his spirituality, he stayed home from war, which led to his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). And at the end of his life, he counted Israel's fighting men, which got him in BIG trouble with God (2 Sam. 24).
  • Solomon - started like gang-busters! When God asked him the $1,000,000 question, he answered perfectly and received wisdom beyond all men. He completed the Temple his father always wanted to build and dedicated it the LORD. Beautiful! Solomon accomplished many things, but Scripture tells us, "As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (1 Kings 11:4).
  • Rehoboam, Solomon's son, was a loser. But his son, Abijah relied on the Lord, and when Judah went into battle against Israel, "the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers" (2 Chron. 13:18). Good job!
  • Asa, Abijah's son, took it up another notch. He sincerely, wholeheartedly sought the Lord, and God gave his kingdome peace for 10 years. When he did go to war, he relied fully on God, and the LORD sent a prophet to tell Asa a profound truth:

"The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you" (2 Chron. 15:2).

Unfortunately, late in Asa's life when Judah was faced with war, he'd become soft spiritually, and instead of relying on God, he relied on a treaty with another kingdom. Bummer. (2 Chron. 16)

  • Jehoshaphat, Asa's son, also started out like gang-busters for the LORD, and then - you guessed it. Crashed. Married one of Ahab's daughters and later made another "unholy" alliance. Mixed and mingled with the wrong people. Argh. Later life - spiritually soft. (2 Chron. 20:31-37)

Wow, depressing, huh? No. That's part of the reason I love to read the Old Testament. It's so full of non-examples! I figure - for crying out loud! I can do better than that through the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in me! Praise the Living God! It's everything BUT depressing!

Take another look at that black & white picture up there. That baby has learned a lot in her forty-something years. But life experience can't replace God's power and intervention in my life. Lord, let me alway remember - I'm never too old to need You. I choose to be WITH YOU, so that You will be WITH ME. Amen.

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