Thursday, October 31, 2013

Worship and Watch

In my devotional reading this morning I came across this cool story from 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.  Read the whole thing if you get the chance, but here's the jist.  Jehoshaphat, King of Judah is very afraid because he's getting triple-teamed by three kingdoms from the east (Moabites, Ammonites, and some Meunites).  So he assembles people from his whole kingdom to gather before the Lord and seek his help. 

He begins his prayer by reminding God who God is.  He's the God of heaven - the God of all kingdoms and nations.  In other words, this little problem of having three kingdoms and nations planning an invasion of Judah isn't a problem for God, because God's the God of all kingdoms and nations.  He also reminds God of the promises that he made to Abraham and how he had allowed Israel to take possession of the land.  Was God going to renege on his promises?  He reminds God that God has promised to save them when they seek him.  Will God honor this promise?

Here's Jehoshaphat's final plea, "O our God, will you not execute judgment upon them?  For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."  Don't you just love that last line!?!  We don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you.  Remind you of Hebrews?  Remind you of your own life a little bit?  It does me.  I think a lot of us right now are in this very position.  We have armies waging war against us - ready to attack us - we're a little scared - we don't know what to do.  That's okay, but where are our eyes fixed?  Are they on the Lord?  I want my eyes to be on him.

Well, what happens?  Does God answer them?  You betcha (to quote Sarah Palin)!  A guy called Jahaziel receives a message from the Spirit saying, "Listen, all Judah...Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God's...This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf...Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you."

It's great to hear an encouraging word, but is there any action on God's part to back it up?  Again, you betcha!

I won't spoil the story for you completely.  You can go back and read it for yourself, but essentially after the people take their position, they begin to sing and pray and worship saying, "Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever."  It is while they are busy worshiping and praising God that God is fighting on their behalf.  After witnessing God's deliverance, the people take the spoils of war and return to Jerusalem and continue to worship God. 

I hope this story encourages you as much as it is encouraging me (and I pray, will continue to encourage me throughout this day and in the days and weeks to come). 

So let's go out, take our positions (whatever that is for each of us), worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I believe we will witness his victory.  That's my prayer for today. - Shay 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Across Time and Space

Ashlyn and I woke up at 6 am and gave Roger and Mary Beth McCown a lift to the airport.  They arrived to Dublin on Saturday, but had been in other parts of Ireland traveling around since October 2.  Although their time with us flew, it was good to have them here for a few days.  Last Friday, the day before the McCowns arrived, Ashlyn and I gave my cousin Brent a lift back to the airport.  He had flown into Ireland four days prior to that.  It was a short trip, but it was good to see him.  A couple of days before Brent landed in Dublin, Ashlyn and I were at the airport (with Juli), but this time it was the Smith family who were being picked up.  We were arriving back from Italy from a one week holiday.  Thank God for airports and airplanes - they dramatically shorten time and space and make it possible to fellowship with people we would otherwise be absent from.

But even before the advent of air travel, Christians have had the ability to transcend space and time with each other through communion.  When we partake of the bread and the cup, it's not only Jesus who is present with us, but our brothers and sisters from around the world join us too.  And it's not only those who are presently alive who share this symbolic meal with us.  We are united with the faithful of all times and places -  past, present, and future.  The coolest thing that our family experienced in Rome were the catacombs.  It was amazing to walk around the final resting place of our brothers and sisters in Christ from 2,000 years ago.  So when Roger prayed for Christian unity on Sunday evening as our North Dublin Christian Community shared in Christ's meal, I was reminded that not only was I communing with fellow believers back in Austin, I was fellowshiping with all the believers who have come before, including some of those whose bodies are awaiting the resurrection under the city of Rome.  It also helped me to anticipate that banquet in the age to come which will replace the symbolic presence of our distant relatives with their actual presence.  And not only will we be present with the saints of all ages, we will eat and drink in the glorious presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  That's a meal worth living for. - Shay