Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm afraid of not knowing what's next.

We live our life looking through a peak hole. Think about it. We see only what is right here with us, and we have to trust God with what we can’t see. Sometimes this is so very hard.

I would say I have been very blessed. One way is each time we had another child we moved. I know this seems odd to say, but the very process of moving helped us with the huge change of having a new person in our life. I think when the entire picture gets shook it’s easier to deal when things are different. But when it’s just part of the picture, things look wrong and so much harder to deal with.

The past two-ish years we have dealt with a lot of change. Our picture was picked up and shook. But as it was set down I got used to the new look. Now we are facing change again.

I feel like Ahaz running to someone… anyone… who can help me face this battle. The graciousness of those gone before me is mind blowing. The sweetness of those around me is comforting. My problem is as wonderful as they are, they can't help me know what comes next and how I should handle it. I am learning the only One who can truly help me walk this path of adjustment is God. He will direct me to the best people, and allow me to be sweet to those around me.

He sees beyond the peak hole. My view allows me to see my son taking the next step in his life, and then we will all settle down to a new normal. My God can see beyond that. He can see how everything we are going through will be used for good.

I don’t want to fight Him as He does this, so I struggle not to follow Ahaz anymore. I don’t want to trust in others when I am not trusting in God. He is the only one who truly knows what’s beyond this week.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The fear God isn't enough to help.

Isaiah 7:4
Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid.
Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood –
because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah."

Isaiah had much more to say to King Ahaz aside from this small segment. It is worth it to read the entire stories found here, 2 Kings, and 2 Chronicles to get a bigger picture of what is going on. This is no king who had called on God in his moment of fear. On the contrary, he ran to Assyria, asked for their help, and began to worship their gods.

Can you imagine Isaiah’s thought process as he headed towards the aqueduct where he was to find King Ahaz? Shear-Jashub went with them to reassure the people. Regardless of King Ahaz’ behavior and mistakes a remnant would remain.

The first thing Isaiah is told to tell Ahaz is “Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid.” Have you ever noticed when fear has hold of the heart we have a tendency to panic. We do what might seem to make sense, or seems the easiest route, or possibly the quickest alternative. In this situation Ahaz went to Assyria for protection against the two countries, Syria and Israel, who were coming against him. The two countries wanted to depose him, set one of their men in place, and then combine all three armies to go against Assyria. It seemed to work out for no one.

Ahaz did not call to God in his fear, yet God went to him anyway.
Ahaz had already searched out the Assyrians for help, yet God offered him hope anyway.
Ahaz had in that moment the ability to change course, yet he ignored God again anyway.

Question 1: Have you ever made wrong choices then felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit trying to redirect your course? Did you follow Him at that point or stay hard hearted? God is full of grace and mercies and is constantly calling us back to Him. Regardless of what we have done we can always change course and begin again with God.

Question 2: Have you ever been tempted to look for help somewhere other than God? Many times the choices we make become part of our downfall. God can direct us the best way, and to the best people, with wisdom far beyond our own.

Dear Lord,
We walk so blindly at times
Thank you for calling us back
Thank you for keeping close
Help us to turn to you first

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ahaz's Fear

Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah, but they couldn’t have been more different. You can read Ahaz’s story in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. We are in Isaiah 7 where God sends Isaiah to comfort Ahaz, even though Ahaz has turned his back on God and has not called to Him in his fear.

Isaiah took a deep breath. This was not a mission designed by him, and he was at a loss as to what would be said. He was grateful God would give him the words, for the words he would choose for this errant king would not be full of grace or mercy. God told Isaiah to head to the aqueducts where King Ahaz could be found.

King Ahaz was consulting with his military officials. The aqueduct was a problem which needed to be dealt with and these men were who he was counting on. As they walked around assessing the situation, consulting the wisdom of each other, one of the servants noticed the two coming towards them. First panic struck. Was this an envoy from one of the two armies marching against them? As time brought them closer Ahaz could see it was Isaiah and his son Shear-Jashub. Ahaz’s first reaction was shame. He had never consulted Isaiah or even considered it. Then Ahaz switched to anger. He had no reason to consult them, after all they had done nothing for him up to this point. As Isaiah was within earshot he began:

“Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid.”

Ahaz thought Isaiah must have lost his mind. Who did he think he was talking to? Ahaz was the king, and he was doing what was necessary to protect his land and people. Why would he tell him to be careful? He was doing what was necessary.

“Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood – because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah.”

Ahaz paused a moment at how Isaiah described the two armies he was facing. He looked from the prophet to his son and considered the path he had taken. God had not been with him before, why should he expect it now? He had called to the Assyrians for help. Stubs of firewood or not, they would be taken care of by the very army they were trying to rebel from.

Isaiah’s last words to Ahaz at this meeting: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Unfortunately Ahaz ignored the fact his faith needed to be in the Lord Almighty rather than the King of Assyria.

Isaiah 7:4

Say to him, "Be careful, keep calm and dn't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood -- because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah." (NIV) and say to him, 'Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remmaliah. (NAS) And say to him, Take heed and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted because of these two stumps of smoking firebrands -- at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and of the son of Remaliah. (Amplified)

2 Kings 16
2 Chronicles 28

Believer's Bible Commentary:
"stubs of smoking firebrands" - on the verge of being extinguished
Ahaz is trusting in Assyria for protection.
Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign out of mock piety and humility

Zondervan Handbook to the Bible:
Ahaz defies God (2 Kings 16) and in consequence kis kingdom came under attack from all quarters. When he refused to joing the Israel/Syria alliace against Assyria they attacked Judah. It is at thsi point Isaiah goes to him with God's message.

Matthew Henry:
God is often found of those who seek him not, much more will he be found of those who seek him diligently. He speaks comfort to many who not only are not worthy of it, but do not so much as enquire after it.
The more we have an eye to God as a consuming fire the less reason we shall have to fear men, though they are ever so furious, nay, we shall be able to despise them as smoking firebrands.
The very thing Ahaz thought most formidable (Assyria) is made the ground of their defeat.

Asbury Bible Commentary:
Clearly Isaiah wants Ahaz to act from a position of faith and trust in God. He must not be threatened by Ephraim and Syria. God would see that they were taken care of. Thius there was no need for Ahaz to run to Assyria (as he unfortunately chooses to do) for help. If he could simply trust in God and not in the power of men then he would stand firm. But alas, Ahaz knew no such firmness of faith.