Friday, December 30, 2011

Lebab Shalem

Psalm 119:16(MSG)I relish everything you've told me of life, I won't forget a word of it. being that I'm approaching the half century mark on this here planet earth, to boldly proclaim that "I won't forget" something is farther than I am willing to go!  On some mornings, I awake and have to spend at least a good minute or two just to remember what day of the week it is.  The thoughts go something like this as I stretch and approach the edge of the bed to disembark....."Let's see, today is ....wait...what is today and where am I supposed to be right now?  Am I late?!  Oh no....!!!"  Usually within a few seconds, I come back to reality from my slumber and can shake the fog away, but rest assured that it is not a good feeling.  Anyone else have this occurrence?

So, having said all of that, I am going to see what the NIV translation has to say in this verse.
Psalm 119:16(NIV)
I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.

"I will not neglect Your word."  Yes! That I can say with confidence!  I might not be able to always remember the words, but I can commit to study and read the Word of God and attempt to memorize it.  I can return to it constantly day in and day out.  It doesn't seem a coincidence to me that  I read the story of King Asa a few days ago.  Powerful words of encouragement and valuable lessons about life lie within the verses of 2 Chronicles chapter 14-16 as the life of Asa plays out on the pages. 

King Asa was the son of King Abijah and succeeded him to the throne over Judah in Jerusalem.  It is written in 2 Chronicles 14:1 that Asa "did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God."  (I would certainly love to have that said about me....wouldn't you?)  Anyway, when this king came into power, the country was experiencing a time of peace.  God  gave Asa a powerful word through the prophet Azariah.  The prophet said,
(2 Chronicles 15:2)MSG "God will stick with you as long as you stick with him.  If you look for Him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he'll leave you."  

It goes on to say that when the people saw that God was with Asa, they came to him in large numbers.  At that point they made a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul.  In the Bible's original Hebrew translation we would have read the words  "lebab shalem", which means to have whole hearted devotion.

They chose not to neglect the Word of God.  King Asa followed through on this and for thirty-five years there was no war in the land as the king cleared out every distraction and thing that did not glorify the Lord....including the dethroning of his grandmother the queen who made an Asherah pole and shifted her focus to idol worship. 

The sort of sad part to this king's story, however, is that in his last years he must have gotten off track a little.  The story finishes up in chapter 16 where King Asa slips in his trust and devotion to the Lord and relies on men for the deliverance of his country.  When afflicted with a severe foot disease in these later years, the Bible records that King Asa ends up seeking  physicians for healing and forgets to turn to the God who has sustained him through incredible hardships in the past!  I conclude that  the king lost perspective.  Rather than going before God and asking for direction which may have led him to physicians for healing,  (God can and often does use the hands of His people to restore health to our bodies) King Asa relied on men.
The ending to King Asa's story concludes with his burial with honors in the land of his people.  Yes, God's grace overcame Asa's lack of follow through, but the way his walk with God ended left a sadness within my heart.  It jarred my mind into a reflective mode.   

This is what I thought after I read King Asa's story.  With the approaching new year, I want to look ahead and see where I am going.  What are my priorities?  Am I still completely relying on God for all things?  Where am I leading my children?  How am I being a help mate to my husband?  Am I simply looking back at yesterday's victories and enjoying them as though I have no work left to do and the best is behind me?  Or, am I looking to the future with hope and rolling up my sleeves to rely on God even more than ever before? 

II Chronicles 16:9 (NIV) says, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."  I want God to see me living out a life of whole hearted devotion to Him!  I need His strength to fulfill the purposes He has designed just for me to complete!  It is exciting to think about the future and the hope that we have in Him!  As our pastor frequently says, "The best is yet to come!!"

Looking at the future through the cross gives hope and peace.
Thank You for a message of hope and grace despite our sometimes faltering faith.  Your love for us is written throughout Your word!  You are a strong tower of protection and our error free navigational system for a life filled with direction and purpose.  I am trusting in Your words and listening to Your voice for every step of this year!  I will not neglect Your word.  I am praying today that You will fill our hearts with devotion to You.  Speak softly to those tonight who might be fearful of the future and infuse them with Your gentle words of encouragement and love.

In Christ's name,

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