In a passage of scripture concerning the future of Jerusalem there is a picture given of a way of God I have not seen before. In Zephaniah 3:11 it says the people will speak a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent.
The day will come when they will not be ashamed of all their doings and transgressions becuse He will take away from the midst of the city all who are full of pride and rejoicing. The haughty will have no place in His holy mountain.
God will leave in the midst of the city a people that are afflicted and poor, and they will trust in the name of the LORD.
What a contrast to what I have been taught, and from what I want to hear; that God's desire is to shower me with blessings and wealth! I turn on the television when my eyes begin to hurt from either reading or working in the yard and I see some preacher like Joel Olsteen, whose teeth must be whitened again before each broadcast is aired saying that all I have to do is speak it, read it, and believe it.
Whose side do I want to be on? Am I a capitalist Christian from a Western democracy that thrives and strives for wealth above all else? Or do I desire to be in the class of the afflicted and poor people that trust in the name of the LORD? I cannot have it both ways.
Which is it?
My decision reveals my heart. I cannot run from the issue.
If I make the right decision, not only verbally but in my daily lifestyle and decisions, then, and only then, the rest of Chapter 3 in Zephaniah kick into gear:
" In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem,
Fear thou not and to Zion,
Let not thine hands be slack."
" The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
(He is the mighty one, not me!)
He will save,
He will rejoice over thee with joy/
He will rest in His love,
He will joy over thee with singing."
All true Believers want to "tap into" that river that flows from the throne of God; not sometimes, but all of the time. As water always does, it runs and follows the lowest places on this planet. The lower the landscape, the faster the stream flows. This is a fact of nature; is the spiritual fact any different?
The Bible says to humble yourselves under, yes under the mighty hand of God. Then, He will exalt you in due time. Christ the Messiah is our example. He poured Himself out even unto death and this was acceptable unto the Father. He did not do His own will, which infers that He must have wanted to do things differently if He could, but He did not.
Are we different?
Recently, I have been put in a position to be on the receiving end of charity. This runs against my grain; we are givers, not receivers. We have supported missionary works from Israel, China, Egypt, New York City, Martinsburg, WV and Vietnam. Last evening I visited my elder Pastor friend, Rev. Cooper who is getting ready to have his 88 birthday, and after praying for our situation regarding a 13 year old child "dumped" on our doorstep, he slipped me two twenty dollar bills. I tried to give the money back but he turned his head and started humming something or other! I was embarassed when he would not take the funds back.
The Spirit of the LORD spoke softly to me and reminded me that He knows our emergency needs and He was providing for them; not for an entire week or month so we can relax, but for that one trip to Walmart to purchase banana's, apples, milk and vinallea wavers the children and my wife love to snack on.
He spoke to my spirit softly and calmly and asked me to try to imagine how the great, mighty prophet Elijah felt when he was instructed to go to a widow's house in the midst of a great famine and ask for a meal of oil, cake and wine. How did Elijah feel?
How did Naman feel when he was told to dip himself in the dirty Jordan River to be healed of leporsy?
How did Christ feel when He was spat upon and beaten almost senseless by those He came to save?
We need to prepare for days of great need and do not be embarassed if God removes the protections we feel we have made for ourselves and our families. He will "pull our skirts high" and expose our nakedness for all to see; the nakedness and shame will be that we were never really dependant only on Him in the first place.
I am ashamed that it has taken me 55 years to learn this basic way of God.
There is great hope though! As we learn and live humility, He who promised is faithful and true and He will rejoice over us, His children, with singing and joy!
Learn the lessons quickly! I want God the Creator of all things to be happy over me!!!