Cover to Cover…It only takes a single misstep…

It feels like it has been months since I last posted a cover to cover recap…even though it has only been a few weeks…I  feel out of practice and how do I wrap up a week that was yet another busting at the seams kind of week?

This week, we finished reading Ecclesiastes chapters 7-10, read I Kings 11-19; II Chronicles 9-20; Psalm 73, 88 and 89.

This is what lingered with me this week:

  • “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women…” (I Kings 11: 1)  The Lord had told Solomon that he should not intermarry with any foreign women because they would turn his heart after their gods.  “Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.” (I Kings 11:2)  Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines…the sheer number seems unfathomable…and that he loved them.  But yet how many things do I daily say that I “love”?  The Word says that these women did indeed turn his heart after their own gods and that he built high places for all the different gods of his women.  1000 women…1000 high places…1000 hearts took away Solomon’s heart from the Lord…but it only would have taken one. The number makes it evident that Solomon was very busy with all his women and it would have been difficult to put God first in his life and affairs.  Where is my heart today?  Is there something the Lord has told me not to be entangled or else my heart will be turned away from His?  I would venture that everytime I choose something other than the Lord as first in my life…it is like intermarrying with something foreign…erecting a high place in my life in which to worship…What in my life have I held fast to in love that God wants me to release?
  • Psalm 73 is one of my all time favorite psalms…it is a great antecdote for the above point:

           “Yet I am always with you;
            you hold me by my right hand.

           You guide me with your counsel,
           and afterward you will take me into glory.

           Whom have I in heaven but you?
           And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

          My flesh and my heart may fail,
          but God is the strength of my heart
          and my portion forever.

         Those who are far from you will perish,
         you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
        But as for me, it is good to be near God.
        I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
       I will tell of all your deeds.”

       Psalm 73: 23-28

  • Because of Solomon’s disobedience to the Lord, the kingdom was taken from him…because of David, one tribe would remain.  Israel is now a divided kingdom…Israel and Judah…Israel under the leadership of Jeroboam to Nadab to Baasha to Elah to Zimri, Tibni, Omri and Ahab all did evil in God’s eyes.  Judah’s kings included Rehoboam and Abijah and they both did evil in God’s eyes as well and along came Asa…”Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done.” (I Kings 15: 11)  He expelled all the male shrine prostitutes, got rid of all the idols his father had made.  He even deposed the queen mother because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole…he cut the pole down and burned it.  The Word says that although he did not remove the high places his heart was fully committed to the Lord.  The account in II Chronicles says that Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord…he removed the foreign altars and high places, he smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherahpoles, he removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah and he commanded Judah to seek the Lord.  The kingdom was at peace under him.  He built up the fortified cities of Judah.  No one was at war with him during those years for the Lord gave him rest.  When we are seeking the Lord…we can be at rest and God will give us peace.
  • Read this wonderful prayer of Asa’s:
    “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty.  Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army.  O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”  (II Chron. 14: 11)
    Asa knew where his help came from…the Maker of Heaven and Earth…and the Lord struck down Asa’s enemies.
  • The Spirit of the Lord came upon Azariah and he tells Asa:
    “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin.  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…But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”(II Chron. 15: 2, 7)  When Asa heard these words he took courage.  He removed the destestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured.  He repaired the altar of the Lord in front of the temple.  He assembled people from Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon and they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord withall their heart and soul.  Whoever would not seek the Lord whether small or great, man or woman was put to death.  All Judah rejoiced because they had sworn  wholeheartedly to seek the Lord eagerly..and the Lord gave them rest.
  • The Word says that Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life even though he did not remove the high places in Israel.  There was no war UNTIL the 35th year of Asa’s reign.
  • It only takes one misstep…in the 36thyear of Asa’s reign, Asa decided to make a treaty with the king of Aram, Ben-Hadad to prevent the king of Israel, Baasha from dominance.  He took silver and gold from the Lord’s temple and his own palace and Ben-Hadad broke his alliance with Baasha.  Hanani, a prophet confronts Asa on his failure to seek the Lord and move in his own ways.
    “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.  You have done a foolish thing and from now on you will be at war.” 
    “II Chron. 16: 9
    Asa is furious with Hanani and throws him in prison…he also begins to brutally oppress some of the people.  Three years later he is afflicted with a disease of his feet and even though the disease is severe, he does not seek the Lord only his doctors…2 years later he is dead. 
  • What happened?  How did a man that was so committed to seeking the Lord begin to set his heart against the Lord’s counsel?  It is puzzling to me.  It is also a scary thought and scenario.  Pride is the spark that can ignite a fire in ones life and leave devastation in its path.  Asa had sought the Lord on so many occasions and seen the Lord move and establish victory, peace and rest…had Asa sought the Lord in repentance he many have known more rest than misery in his final days. 
  • The week ended with the well known Elijah (I Kings 17-19) living in a time of drought…as he listened to the Lord…the Lord had ravens feed him bread and meat morning and evening… as he listened to the Lord…he aided a weary mother in witnessing a miracle that saved her starving son and herself…and Elijah…all through a bottomless jar of flour and jug of oil…as he listened to the Lord, he summoned up boldness to confront the gods of the day and confound them by showing them the power of the Almighty God…as God consumed a water drenched altar and Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal…and then it began to rain…then he began to run with all his might even beating Ahab’s chariot…he was afraid and he was tired…he prayed that he would die and then he fell asleep.
  • When life gets to be too much no matter the victories…wouldn’t it be nice to wake up and find:
  1. an angel gently touching you
  2. a freshly baked cake
  3. a fire
  4. a jug of water
  5. sleep arriving again
  6. the angel touches you a second time and says…this journey is too much for you…
  • Once again, he listened to the counsel of the Lord and Elijah was strengthened and traveled for 40 days and nights until he reached Mount Horeb…the mountain of God and he found a cave.  Then the unimaginable happens…I can’t paraphrase it justly…so here it is (I Kings 19: 9b-18):

    And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

  “He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

  The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
      Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
      Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

  He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

  The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.  Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholahto succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.  Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

How I love the tenderness of God…He doesn’t get angry with Elijah for running and hiding…for being fearful or even tired…instead He ministers to him by appearing to Elijah and shows him His glory.

God asks us each that same question…What are you doing here?  So…what are you doing here?  Are you seeking God with wholehearted devotion…when this life is over, will it be obvious that our lives have been fully committed to Christ?  If not, maybe we need to heed what the Lord said to Elijah and “go back the way we came”…return to our first love…Jesus…get things right with the Lord first and then maybe we need to assemble a few faithful ones to walk out this life with us…who can go before us and fight off the attackers…

But first the Lord told Elijah to go and stand on the mountain…in the presence of the Lord…when our perspective is obscured…when we are tired…afraid…despairing…go stand before the Lord…because in His presence we will be changed…and we can start over once again…go right back to walking in His ways…not our own.

This week revealed to me the speed at which a single misstep can occur and the downward spiral that can ensue if we let our actions remain unchecked.  It can be a single action that turns into a repeated pattern thousands of times…it can be one poor judgment and allowing pride to create a barrier to God’s grace and mercy…or finally our steps can become labored and shaky…but in admitting our weaknesses before the Lord, we just might be those that witness His glory…because we listen and hear His voice.

I don’t want to miss His glory…

Help me Father, to order my steps and align my heart with You.  Help me to listen for Your voice and follow You…and only You.

Amen!

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Cover to Cover…It only takes a single misstep…

  1. There were so many things you shared in this post that grabbed me…one in particular was …”assembling a few faithful ones to walk out this life with us…”. Yesterday our pastor spoke about doing this life “together” as the Lord intended. A lot easier, and so much more rewarding. Thank you for this, Helen.

    P.S. I just read an article about Elijah and the ravens feeding him.

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  2. Welcome Back Helen! I missed you!
    I just loved how you put it into perspective—one mis-step and our choices could be like Asa not relying on his God but on his mastermind plan to protect his territory. I loved everything you wrote about! Thanks so much for bringing this to us this Monday morning!

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  3. Missed you Helen! How I needed to hear the question “What are you doing here?” tonight. Because honestly, it isn’t relying on the Lord my God. It is fretting about the circumstances and the perceived deepness of the hole that so many (myself included) feel they are in and are looking at the climb and not God. Thank you.

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  4. I have missed you, Helen. I am so glad to read another of your insightful recaps. In all the times I’ve read Elijah, I hadn’t put myself in his shoes, picturing waking up to a fire, a cake, some water, and an angel ministering to me! I love that thought. I, too, pondered how Asa who got so much right didn’t seek out His God in the end. I have so been there. I hope to finish well and pray for you this morning, as you walk this journey out with your beautiful heart for Him.

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  5. I have really loved this past week of readings…I love reading the Word chronologically…it just makes more sense…so often I would get confused when the text would seem to jump around…now I get it…
    I just love the tenderness of the Lord…aren’t we blessed…Lord help us to continue to cling to every facet of Him.

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  6. kimz says:

    helen, I got up this morning and felt i needed some encouragement. I thought well lets see what Helen has been writing lately. (My favorite devotional writer) I loved this posting it definitely needs to go in the book. Wow i woke up today sick, groggy, overwhelmed and a little discouraged by the vast army in front of me and now i feel ready to confront the day!!!!. I also loved how you tied the two stories of Asa and Elijah together, contrasting each man’s life. Sometimes when we read the word it is easy to judge the person on the page and think of course i would never do that. I love how you break it down to make the people on the page real. I have always loved how the Lord spoke to Elijah when he was being so whiney and full of fear. I love the tenderness of my God in how he ministers to Elijah’s needs and also encourages him with His words.
    Love to you dear friend, kimz

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