High Places


     "And Jehoash did right in the sight of the Lord all his days in which Jehoida instructed him.  Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places."  2 Kings 12:2-3  It's remarkable how many times a believer can read that scripture and walk away believing it has no relevance for us.  For the record, high places were elevated places or raised altars that were erected for the purpose of worshiping the idols and false gods of the nations surrounding Israel.  It was a snare the Israelites were constantly being entangled in. They were very willing to offer worship to the Living God, but they clung to those high places, those other "gods and idols" that they had welcomed (yes, welcomed) into their lives.  The high places are mentioned almost exclusively in the Old Testament, and therefore, we, who tend to only focus on the new covenant in Christ, tend to believe they have no meaning for us today.  We would be, we are, wrong.  We are saved and kept by His grace in Christ, but that doesn't mean we haven't reserved the right to keep our own "high places," places where we offer "worship" to other "gods" in our lives.  
     We can erect a high place just about anywhere, especially in "the church."  We can make a high place out of a person, be they our spouse, our children, a relationship, a friend.  It can be our profession, our favorite entertainments, sports, and yes, ministries, and that which we believe we are doing for Him.  The high place in our life is anything or anyone who has taken our heart in any way and to any degree from Him.  The Bible called it giving glory to something or someone other than the Father.  In Old Testament times they were highly visible, but they've become a great deal more subtle today.  We can find them in our home entertainment center, our IPads, laptops, fantasy leagues, recreation, relationships, careers, and especially in the church office and building, and everything that might go on there and beyond there.  It can be something good, very good, but it isn't God, and it's become a high place, and we're "burning incense" on it every day.  We are worshiping it, them, and not Him. Our hearts are divided, and so, not fully, really His.  The end of it will always be weakness and defeat.  It was so for Israel, and it will be so for us.  Good will always fail us.  God will not.
     We may deal with all these kinds of high places in our lives, and yet still be held captive by one whose presence can be the most deceptive of all, but will always seek to supplant His glory.  Our pride.  It lurks everywhere and seeks to overthrow Him in every place.  It comes disguised in many forms, including what looks like service and humility.  But the motive is not to bring attention, honor, and glory to Him, to Christ, but to ourselves.  We are not trying to point to Him, but to us.  It's the power of the self, and can only be destroyed by a surrender of that self on His altar, and a willing tearing down of all other altars that we've erected around Him.  Do we have the courage to allow His Holy Spirit to expose where in our heats these "other altars" are found?
     Some years ago I saw a "reality TV" program where the mother of a small girl held a birthday party for her that cost $50,000.  Part of the expense was in hiring a songwriter to compose a "theme song" for the little girls life, and band to sing it that day.  Absurd?  For sure.  Yet, don't we, in how we live our lives also compose a theme song?  We will, and it will be either all about us, and our desires, or all about Him, and His. Each of us today is writing one.  Is it about us or all about Him?  We will write the first at one of our high places.  The last can only be written at His cross.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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