He Reminds Us His Ways Are Not Ours, But Better

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2011

We have entered Holy Week – a time commemorating a week in history which only makes sense when considered with hindsight.  Just as in times of great difficulty, personal pain and challenge in our own lives, how confusing Holy Week (the last week of Jesus’ earthly life) must have been to all who knew Jesus. 

On the first day He was finally swarmed by the people waving palm branches and acknowledged as king.  However, just a few days later this same population demanded (and received) his death. They had Him killed!

With the exception of John, Jesus’ mother and a few of the women, all the disciples fled and abandoned their Master and Lord, hiding in fear. The world must have seemed to have been falling apart!  Jesus, the One they had come to believe was the Son of God, who had performed miracle after miracle, including raising the dead back to life had allowed Himself to be put to death as if a criminal. 

The sky darkened.  The earth shook and the veil on the temple’s Holy of holies ripped in two.  Even a Roman soldier present at the crucifixion recognized “Surely this man was the Son of God!”  (Mark 15:39 NIV)

And yet, Jesus was dead.  How could God being God let this happen!  Wasn’t Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One who was to save the world?

The picture of this confusing, desperate, horrendous time only becomes  clear with hindsight following the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost, precisely because Jesus was (and it) God.  “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9 NIV.) Jesus never was an earthly king meant to rule on earth and die.  He was and is King over heaven, earth, the universe and all creation FOREVER.  And despite this position of authority He humbled Himself, pouring His very life out in love to redeem us to have the right to be with Him eternally. 

Jesus’ death had not made sense and yet now it does.  Likewise, each of us will encounter ugliness, evil, and things that don’t make sense or seem to need to be during our own lifetimes.  We will have difficulties and suffer and agonize as we watch those we love experience their own times of difficulty and suffering, and yet when considered from the view of eternity, just as the cross, we will rejoice in what God did with what seemed Satan’s victory and God’s defeat.  This remains earth not heaven – there is no perfection here and it will not be fair.   There is only One God.  His ways are not our ways, but higher and better.  No matter what it looks like now, stay the course and trust in Him.  Our Lord reigns!

All Scripture except where noted excerpted from the Amplified Bible.  For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org  For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org   Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation.

God Desires To Bless Us With His Strategy

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2011

God is calling His people.  He is calling you and He is calling me.   He is calling all of us – the various, integral parts of His Body to know Him well enough to know that He is worthy of worship above and before all else.  We live in a society where we tend to turn to God last.  We make our plans and ask God to bless them.  But we our plans and thoughts are merely mortal.  God’s are higher and better.  If He truly is our Lord, then we should be resting in His promises, adoring Him because we trust in Him and seeking His will instead of our own because He is God and we aren’t.

The lesson was brought home strongly this morning when “randomly” opening my Bible my eyes fell on a passage in 2 Chronicles 15 and 16.  The story begins with Azariah son of Oded going out to meet Asa, King of Judah.  And the prophet says to King Asa say, “…’Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you while you are with Him.  If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you; but if you [become indifferent and] forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chron. 15:2b)  Azariah continued with his proclamation:  “Now for a long time Israel was without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law.  But when they in their trouble turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and [in desperation earnestly] sought Him, He was found by them.  And in those times there was no peace to him who went out, nor to him who came in, but great and vexing afflictions and disturbances were upon inhabitants of the countries.  Nation was broke in pieces against nation, and city against city, for God vexed and troubled them with all sorts of adversity.  Be strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weak and slack, for your work shall be rewarded.’”  (2 Chron 15:3-7)

“And when Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage and put away the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim; and he repaired the altar [of burnt offering] of the Lord which was in front of the porch or vestibule [of the house] of the Lord.  And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin and the strangers with them out of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon, for they came over to Asa out of Israel in large numbers when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. So they gathered at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.  And they sacrificed to the Lord on that day from the spoil which they had brought – 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep.  And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to yearn for Him with all their heart’s desire and with all their soul;…They took an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets, and with cornets.  And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him [yearning for Him] with their whole desire, and he was found by them. And the Lord gave them rest and peace round about….And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.”  (2 Chron. 8-12,14-15,19)

So when Asa heeded the prophet’s advice and called the nation to put God first, God gave them peace and rest in their lives.  Until that time they were vexed and agitated with all sorts of adversity.  Now came the next challenge.  Another kingdom began to advance against King Asa’s Judah.  “….Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built (fortified) Ramah intending to intercept anyone going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.” (2 Chron. 16:1) But instead of going to God to seek His strategy, Asa decided to entice the king of Syria to be his ally. “Let there be a league between me and you, as was between my father and your father.  Behold, I am sending you silver and gold; go, break your league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” (2 Chron. 16:3)

Initially King Asa’s strategy seemed to work.  “And Ben-Hadad hearkened to King Asa and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.  And when Baasha heard it, he stopped building Ramah and let his work cease.”  (2 Chron. 16:4)

Thus with the king of Syria’s help, the king of Israel stopped his aggravated assault on Judah.  King Asa’s objective was achieved.  Or was it?  It looked like Asa’s strategy to use Syria against Israel had won!  Yet in reality it came at a great price.  It was the beginning of his downfall.

“At that time Hanai the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, because you relied on the king of Syria, and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.   Were not the Ethiopians and Libyans a huge host with very many chariots and horsemen?  Yet because you relied then on the Lord, He gave them into your hand.  For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him.  You have done foolishly in this; therefore, from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chron 16:7-9)

Now because Asa had sought help from Syria instead of from the Lord, the Lord removed Himself and the people no longer dwelt in peace and rest.  King Asa did not like the seer’s admonition, so he put him in prison and oppressed the people.  But God’s purposes cannot be thwarted;  His way simply is (and no human temper tantrum or show of power can change it.)  There is no human way around God’s consequences except to repent before God and re-dedicate oneself to seeking God’s strategies and following at all costs.   

But King Asa chose not to bow to God as Lord again.  Three years later, all his earthly power and authority could not save him.  “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet – until his disease became very severe; yet in is disease he did not seek the Lord, but relied on his physicians.”  (2 Chron 16:12)  King Asa died.

The message in this story is not to avoid doctors!  Often it is precisely through these men and women in the medical community that physical healing comes so we can continue in the work God has for us on earth until He calls us home to heaven.  The message of the story  is to remember that God is God and  always go to Him, seeking His strategy first; then follow His strategy exclusively.

Despite all of Asa, king of Judah’s earthly power, authority and influence (through his position), in the end he was in control of nothing.  However, if we will acknowledge our inferior humanity to the superior Godhead and seek our strategies from Him, He promises to bless us beyond measure as we obey.  When we seek His strategy and only follow it, then our actions show He is indeed our God.  When not, we have allowed something or someone else (sometimes ourselves) to take His place as Boss, Master, and Lord. 

The world in which we live has encouraged us to deaden ourselves to God’s voice, subtly convincing us that if He is God and invisible, then we can’t hear Him, therefore His strategy is obscured from us.  But Scripture reveals the Truth.  God does speak to us; we can hear Him; He will teach us if we seek it.  Let us seek God’s strategy at all times for every moment of our lives.  He will surprise us in magnificent ways and we will dance in delight like carefree children, safe in the love, strategy & provision of the One True God who can.

All Scripture excerpted from the Amplified Bible.  For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org  For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org   Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation.