Monday, August 27, 2012

High Places

"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."
Matthew 4:10

There are tall, skinny weeds that grow
at their own will, seemingly...
all over our yard.
Unfortunately, they grow at a much faster rate of speed
and much taller than our grass.
They are also stubborn and hard to cut.
We usually have to mow over them more than once
in order for the lawnmower blades to flatten them to the ground.

Many times, I think I am finished mowing in a particular area,
when lo and behold,
I see a high-growing weed sticking up like a sore thumb.
The rest of the lawn looks manicured and even,
but the look is marred by the tall weed still needing to be removed.
If I don't go back and mow it down,
it will be even taller and harder to mow the next time.

I guess the solution would be to go around with weed killer
and pour it over every weedy area.
This would take a lot of time and money and energy.
So, we just keep dealing with the problem,
and each time we mow,
seeing the full-grown weeds in their usual spots
comes as not even the slightest surprise.
We've never really killed them...
or removed them by their root....
we've only chopped them down....
even with the ground.

They will inevitably and definitely grow back.

When we are finished mowing,
everything looks uniform and even...
but it doesn't take long for the weeds to take off
and begin growing again.
Soon, we are needing to deal with the high weeds....
scattered randomly over our yard...
once again.

The root of the problem is never dealt with.
So the problem remains....
and continues to give us trouble.

In Old Testament times,
high places represented places of worship.
Many times, they were areas designated
for heathen forms of worship to false gods.
Hideous acts were committed in the heathen high places,
such as the sacrifice of firstborn babies to heathen gods.
These acts were abominable to the one, true God, Jehovah,
and He commanded His chosen people, the Israelites,
to completely destroy the high places
they found after they entered the land of Canaan.
God knew that if they didn't utterly destroy them,
they would create a snare of temptation to future generations
and threaten to turn their hearts away from worshiping Him.

"And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah...and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem...
and he walked in the ways of Asa his father, and departed not from it,
doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord...
Howbeit the high places were not taken away:
for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers."
2 Chronicles 20:31 (KJV)

Jehoshaphat was, in some ways, a good king.
But, he failed to follow ALL of God's commands.
He didn't remove the high places.
He was influenced by the people and failed to exert his God-given authority
to completely eradicate the thing God hated.
The root of the problem was not dealt with under his reign.
This made it easy for heathen worship to continue
and be perpetuated with little effort on the part of the people....
and it was very displeasing to God.

When God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments,
the very first one He mentioned was,
"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me....
for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God."
Exodus 20:3, 5

Do you know there can be "high places" in our lives that
compete with our single-minded devotion to God?

Things that we choose to put ahead of God.
Things that we worship instead of God.
Things that are dearer to our hearts than God.
Things that have proven detrimental to our Christian walk,
but we refuse to utterly destroy and remove from our lives.
We may not bow down and actually worship these "things",
but in essence, they become our god and the thing we put above and before Him.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, 
"Casting down imaginations, 
and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, 
and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ"

Every high thing.
Every high place erected.
Any thing that is exalting itself against our knowledge of God...
and what we know He wants us to do.

Your "high place" may be the complete opposite of mine.
Some people put their career ahead of God.
Some love money more than Him.
Others worship a person...
and have them on a "high place" pedestal.

There are many things that possess the potential to turn our hearts away
and become a "high place" in our lives.
The world is full of things of interest,
things that are eye-catching,
many that are completely innocent of and within themselves...
but within them lurks the temptation to over-indulge...
to over-partake...
and the innocent is subtly transformed into an exalted "high place".

Satan doesn't really care how he does it.
He'll use the lure of something beautiful...
prestige, glitter, glamour, fortune, fame....
or horribly ugly.....
bitterness, unforgiveness, animosity, revenge, hatred, a grudge....
it matters not to him.
Just so a high place is erected and maintained.
Just so the root remains...
untouched and alive.
He knows if the root is there,
the problem will eventually and consistently come back....
and he will have the advantage.

No wonder the Bible warns of the root of bitterness and  how the love of money is the root of all evil.
Roots are important.
They sprout, and they become high places.
High things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
That take God's place as number one in our lives.

In essence, a high place is anything that comes between us and God.

What keeps you from serving God wholeheartedly?
What would you rather do than spend time with Him in prayer?
What draws you away from His presence and pulls at your heartstrings...
enough to cause you to neglect Him and His work?
What or who do you love more than Him?

What has He asked you to lay utterly destroy from your life...
that you are still leaving in place and holding on to?
That maybe you've cut down,
but the root is still there...
lurking under the surface....
ready to sprout at any time?

If He says "no", there is a valid reason.
Most likely, He knows that "high thing" will cause us to slip somewhere down the line.
Chances are, it has caused us trouble in the past.
As long as the root remains,
as long as we make allowances for it,
it will continue to vex us and trip us up....
and come between us and God.

God's love...
His grace...
His mercy.....
provides the ultimate root killer.
The blood of Jesus is the most powerful force on earth.
It can cleanse even the deepest sin.
It can trump the highest, most exalted place in our hearts.
It covers all....
because He paid all....
everything He had.

Why not follow Him....
with everything you have?

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