Friday, April 09, 2010

Removing The High Places

"Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa's heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life." 1 Kings 15:11-14

I was reading through parts of 1 Kings yesterday, reading about all the kings who did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and then I came to Asa. Asa was a breath of fresh air, as he made the right choice, and chose to follow in David's footsteps and worship and honor God. Of all the kings who followed Solomon- in both Judah and Israel, only Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. And yet, Asa still missed something very important. He left the high places. The high places were places of worship, places to sacrifice burnt offerings, but they were not the Lord's. They often had stones and idols at those high places representing other gods. They were called high places because they were, in fact, in high places. On hilltops or mountains or other high points in the land. People who made a pilgrimage would go from high place to high place, offering sacrifices at each one. But these high places were not for God alone. Asa overlooked the high places, and as a result, even his goodness could not bring Judah back to the favor of God.

What are our high places? I think this goes right along with the passion I spoke about yesterday. Is our high place our job? Is our high place our finances? Is our high place our house or other physical material? When we sacrifice ourselves- why do we do it? Many of us sacrifice of ourselves each and every day for the sake of a job, which brings in income, which we all know does many things. But WHY do you work. That is the high place that needs to be examined. I don't work outside the home, but my husband does, and every day, when he goes to work, he is sacrificing time away from his family, his home, and often times he sacrifices other things because he has to work such long days. Where for him, it used to be all about the paycheck, it isn't anymore, he's had a shift in his thinking and has cast down that high place. He no longer goes to work to earn a paycheck. Instead, my husband goes to work every day at his mission field. Every day he asks God to bring him opportunities to share his faith, or to show God's glory. Monday through Friday Andy goes to his mission field where he works his absolute hardest and best, and at the end of the week, his reward is a paycheck. Sometimes he also gets the pleasure of having a great conversation with someone about God's provision.

Getting rid of that high place, the sacrifice for a paycheck, has made a profound difference in faith in our household. Because Andy has trusted in God completely, to not only provide a paycheck, but provide for his family, he's seen that faith rewarded. God does provide and meet our needs- every single time! When we throw down what distracts us from God, it increases our faith and draws us closer to Him.

A high place can be anything that distracts us from God. Anything that takes our adoration away from Jehovah and places it on something else is a high place that should be removed. When someone goes to work everyday with the idea of making money so that they can take that incredible vacation later in the year- the vacation becomes a high place. As I'm thinking on high places, it seems to me that they can spring up on their own sometimes, and we don't even realize they are there. Actually, as I think on this a little more, I think that in light of the recent recession, a lot of people have developed high places without realizing it too- so many people have discovered the art of savings, and they become a slave to their savings account, because they're supposed to have so much in savings as a cushion in case of disaster or sudden unemployment. I'm certainly not saying that savings accounts are bad at all- they are a wonderful resource, but when your focus is on bringing in money to add to that account, your focus is in the wrong place.

A high place takes our focus off God and places it on someone or something else. Let us not be like Asa. Let us look closely at ourselves and see the high places for what they are and remove them.

May we focus on Him and Him alone, because when we do that, everything else will fall in line just as it should. Our focus should be on God.

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