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Saturday, September 28, 2013

DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND


2 Kings 18:5 (NIV)  Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 

Coming from the great state of Texas, and not too far from the famed Alamo, I taught Texas state history for many years, along with other courses as a teacher.  

I taught geography with my famous land formation projects to help the kids visualize the land and water features of our state.  We divided into groups studying regions, Native American tribes, settlers, cowboys, and of course the famous Texas Revolution against Mexico where we won our independence from Santa Ana.

Several movies have been made about the men, women, and events of the Alamo.  One scene that stands out to many is when William B. Travis tells his men that no more reinforcements will be coming other than the thirty-five. He informs them that if they fight against the Mexican army, there will be no survivors.  Slowly and deliberately, Travis took out his sword and drew a line in the sand. Travis invited any who wanted to stay and fight to the death, to cross over the line as an indication of their willingness to stand firm against the enemy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgkkTGdEBjM&ytsession=eqdPnQY4R4JgPOoh-f3bXpSEBqSOwSp9zMg_ZczEvJqyHAqMaSoaXKG9R_Za50HCYITQKS3FrnFQXyQ5pfbG3MZedr8a6Xe1H6M9FM3emJyjLvkgFGRVzzOwTS50_xoZtmfzujF_OImUKGXWU-DsbeLCyD1XsqEBEd5USKYac9aVkyfx3dKmFHCBQ8NBKdNEpLphQjN-jg-dajVP6pnULtRxsNk_nOTCM_jCQ4aKZibP8TPBDNirHc1APs2Qs1Km4eUCJvYKGNHRDSrqKLgfxgCjlEywRoC3txco1vTSFxWNyByzLJJwdsGFi-vK9phYiybBBmy3EMy2uYwahuBdVRFd815EXxpu7lqE7l1Rtx9JPpwtALfODlHE6AWi0kPESwPep0Fy0EFQ9nSswDNY2IFwo7ceyipcfNoSeuK4h0SiJfXsyUdPfNooS2jtFtXGIUJ9EBLSQHFm3VHvvv4mUTPfg5_U5_cRbKus3kktQVF_1Lxe_TnWYxGsZXr7IBRpOod2ycHN941QgDEPQuB_VKZ393mDM1yL_0R9FVtRIHhco68ztCPfH7X2TGPuJTYj-EhS-WG15yJns-sirCaUb0zQ6TRQvSaT (YOUTUBE scene with Travis drawing the line.)

These brave men courageously offered their lives in an attempt to weaken the troops from Mexico; slow them down. This would give General Houston the time to recruit more volunteer militia in hopes of a stand that would stall out Santa Ana.  

A few days later, the dust settled; the battle was over.  Nearly 200 defenders of the Alamo died at the hands of the Mexicans.  Before they died, the Texans and other defenders killed over 600 out of nearly 5,000 in the Mexican army who waged the assault on the mission fortress.  

This was quite a feat of bravery; to whittle down this enormous opposing army.  Yet, after this battle, all across Texas, when they faced the Mexican army, the people shouted, "Remember the Alamo!" bolstering courage from the memory of these heroes.  

Their example spurred on many others to volunteer, join, fight, and remain in service until Santa Ana was captured at San Jacinto.

In the Old Testament, there is another story about a man who made a stand against an army that was going to annihilate his country.  Hezekiah, King of Judah, goes down in the books as quite the man of principle and faith in God.  It is quite an accolade when the Bible states that there was no king in Judah like him; before or after.

Hezekiah daily conversed with God.  He reformed his country by destroying pagan shrines and shutting down sex-related deviant religions and stopped all infant and child sacrifices. He led by example and continued to follow God without wavering and without sin.  He kept all the commands that God gave Moses.  

This man was special because the favor of God was on him.  Hezekiah prospered because he loved and reverenced God.  He experienced God's favor and was successful in WHATEVER HE ATTEMPTED TO DO!  Not many have this written down in their bio.

This one time stands out, when Hezekiah rebelled against Sennacherib, king of Assyria.  Hezekiah refused to continue paying tributes to Assyria.  He knew that Israel (the northern kingdom) and Samaria were attacked by the Assyrians and their people were taken into captivity, then deported into Assyria for assimilation into the pagan culture to prevent another uprising.  Israel over and over fell away and was disobedient to God. Over and over they fell into idolatry  refused to respond to God's warnings and his expressions of love for them.  

The attacks on Israel and Samaria occurred in Hezekiah's 6th year as king of Judah (the southern kingdom).

Eight years later, Sennacherib attacked all the cities of Judah to collect the tribute owed over the years.  Hezekiah went into the temple in Jerusalem and emptied the treasury of silver, and gold to comply.  He and even removed the golden doors from the temple to appease the Assyrians and to prevent the slaughter of his kingdom.  

The Assyrians' field commander, Lachish, went to Hezekiah and his advisors. He delivered a message that all of Judah would still be destroyed.  He even turned and yelled in Hebrew, so that all the people could understand. In an attempt to divide and weaken Hezekiah's influence, Lachish spoke to the people of Judah and declared that Hezekiah's God would not be able to deliver them from the sword!  He recounted how no god of conquered country had delivered them from the powerful Assyrian army and certainly Judah's God would be no different. 

The Assyrian commander next promised that each family would own their own plot of land with grape vines, fig trees, and cisterns if only the people would separate themselves from their king and make peace with the king of Assyria.

Now, before the enemy came into the kingdom, the people had been told by their good king Hezekiah not to say a word in response to the Assyrians when they spoke.  It is amazing that not one person made a reply; not even with all of these tempting "carrots" that were dangled to tempt them to betray their God and their king. 

King Hezekiah, upon hearing these accusations against God and his power tore his robes and put on sackcloth.  He went directly into the temple and cried out to God. He asked Him to strike out at the Assyrians for their disrespect and ignorance.  He implored God to defend Himself from the insults of the Assyrians to demonstrate that Jehovah was indeed the one true God.

Notice, Hezekiah did not pray for peace.  He did not pray safety.  Rather, he prayed that God would show up in all of his glory and prove that the foolish talk of God's powerlessness was all rubbish.

The prophet, Isaiah also received a long prophesy from God.  In the first part, God declared who He was. Then the second part was directed toward the Assyrians.  God heard their insolence and He was going to put a hook in their noses.  

Concerning the siege, the prophet declared that not one Assyrian arrow would even be shot into the city.  The enemy would not enter the city.  God had declared that he would defend the whole city and save it from ruin. 

The line was drawn in the sand.  Hezekiah and Isaiah inflamed the Assyrians with their refusal to surrender.  But they remained firm in their trust and faith in their magnificent God.  When the circumstances were screaming, "Disaster!"  God gave them a view of the greater reality and peace reigned in their hearts.

That night, the people of Judah went to sleep.  ONE ANGEL of God was sent during the night to attack the Assyrian's!  It only took one angel to destroy 185,000 of this invading army.  

The next morning, the city awoke to find the thousands of Assyrian corpses. What a glorious deliverance.  Fabulous!

So, whatever you are facing today, stand with the one true God who loves and protects those who believe and stay in fellowship with God.  

Today, draw the line in the sand.  When the enemy tries to get you to doubt or give up, cross the line courageously-- never looking back.  Be loyal and you will prosper with a sound mind, balanced emotions, sound body, and an empowered spirit.  

No matter what seems to be staring you in the face!  All hell may be breaking loose with no conceivable way out.  

Remember the faithfulness of God.  Let this world see His kingdom come on this Earth and His will being done by us, just like it is done in Heaven!  


*Check out the 10 character tests we need to pass in order to move from our Dream to our Destiny, go to http://.www.gatewaypeople.com then look under toolbar MEDIA go to the bottom to The Blessed Life then click on Dream to Destiny, where you will find the 10 tests of character discussed.  Start with The Pride Test.
   
**Read more about Hezekiah in 2 Kings chapters 18-20. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ALL MY TOMORROWS




Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB)  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.

All my tomorrows flew off in a grey mist,
Somewhere beyond the reach of my palm.
Beaconing me, but too shattered to dare,
I believed that my dreams would soon disappear.

Catching a glimpse of You from out of my eye,
You called out, casting furtive glances my way.
Perhaps due to second thoughts about being spotted,
I shuddered that I almost waved your Divine self off.

My brow wrinkled.  I wondered if I viewed a mirage.
So many friendly faces changed growing distant or sour.
Did this kindly phantom know the depths of my heart?
Could you feel me so deeply?  Could you ever comprehend?

Would I repel you with my earnest desires for truth,
Or for principles and dreams to which I aspire?
The depth of my innermost passion has always been,
To reach fulfillment of all that God created in me.

My lofty pursuits, the desires of my heart
Have given my suitors quite a rough start.
Am I truly odd then, how may I then know
If there are others with this ache, a yearning to grow.

Years have passed by with only occasional clues.
Just what have you put me here on this Earth to do?
Tarnished and dented, I stumble on through.
You haven't forgotten, or discarded me, true!

Tentatively I stretched my arm through the haze.
In return, you enclosed and warmed my chilled hand.
Kind words massaged and soothed my heart once again.
Strength germinated within. You just wouldn't let go.

You never despised, when doubts arose with a fright.
In the middle of heartache, fresh healing you brought.
You hovered and covered and caught those shed tears.
Abiding love stilled the tempest.  Peace and joy tuck me in.

I started this poem in 2004 and I just ran across it in an old notebook this week.  After some brushing up and a few verses more, I think I will let you take a peek.  

We have all struggled through the "pits" in life.  I am enjoying THE BLESSED LIFE study from Gatewaypeople.com (under media on their toolbar).  It is a study on 10 character tests we have to pass in order to move from dreaming dreams to fulfilling and living our destiny here on Earth.  I want to pass these tests, don't you?

Looking back at my life's ups and downs, it is easy to see how God was there encouraging me on and hoping I would "get it" and move on to the next lesson in becoming a warrior child of his.

I am thankful for such tough love that never fails me.  Love so amazing and so cherished.  I am living a perfect life with an awesome God.  The ups and downs are still with me, but the filter and lenses he has given me allow me to see that there are better things in store everyday.  I just have to become aware of what is really going on and to trust that each part, with the good and the bad, that it is all part of my life's tapestry he is weaving.

Note:  The photo at the top are my pride and my joy!  These are my six lovely children gathered rather miraculously for a reunion, which was encouraged and orchestrated by my beautiful daughter, Audrey, who has a heart of gold.