Sunday, February 12, 2017

Warning Sirens

               Tornado sirens are made for the sole purpose of warning people when danger is coming. Growing up in Iowa, when you heard that siren go off you would take cover and run to the cellar if you could. You knew there was destruction on its way and you did what you had to do to keep safe. Don’t you sometimes wish that you had a siren to warn you in your daily life? A siren to let you know when you are beginning to stray from the Lord, a warning to keep you on the narrow path. A warning to tell you when you are headed into sin? My friend, may I remind you that you do have a warning siren, an alarm sitting right beside you, it is your Bible- the Word of God.
            Written within its pages are promises, and prophecies; stories of faith, hope, our salvation, our future and warnings for what is up ahead. Warnings to remind us how easily we can fall away. I was experiencing some great success in the business. Everything was going well. It seemed like everything we did brought more and more success. I was considering expanding, growing and increasing in my coverage area and had started to make some plans. I had a nice little cushion in the bank and the foundation that I had been working on was set, the company was becoming established. Everything was coming up roses.
            “And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His rules and His statutes, which I have commanded you today, lest when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart will be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,”
Deuteronomy 8:10-14 ESV
            In 2 Chronicles 10-12 we read the story of Rehoboam. He was the son of Solomon and took over the throne after his father passed. Rehoboam was not a righteous king. He took after his dad. He had some desire to seek God, but not enough to leave his sins for Him. Rehoboam did not heed the warnings God laid out in His word for the children of Israel, nor did he learn from the example of his fathers. Instead it says that he did evil and did not set his heart to seek the Lord. (2 Chronicles 12:14)
            It is easy to turn your heart to self when success follows you wherever you go. It is easy to turn from the Lord when you are on the mountain top. My company was doing very well, things were going good. I admit I dropped my guard. I started to be lifted in success and lost my focus on the One who created the success. The children of Israel were in danger of forgetting God when the days of plenty came upon them. When life was a blessing they were in greater danger of falling away then when the days were constant struggles. You are more in danger of turning away from God in the increase then you are in the drought.
            As soon as Rehoboam was established and his kingdom was strong what did he do? He leaned back in his throne and became prideful. He saw the success and patted himself on the back. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for now it will be exceeding apt to grow secure, proud, and earthly; to see a man humble in prosperity, is one of the greatest rarities in the world.” (A Saint Indeed, by John Flavel, First Season) It was then, when things were going well, when the Lord was growing and blessing Rehoboam that he forgot to heed the warnings and found himself facing destruction. We are most vulnerable when we are successful and increasing then when we are facing struggles, sorrows and tribulations. We are in more danger on top of the mountain then when we are in the valley, because once we reach the top of the mountain, we look down at where we came from and forget that we did not make this climb on our own.
            Look at the examples that are written for us in His Word. The warnings that are written down for you and me. God knows your heart. He knows what you can handle and what you cannot. My success is not dependent upon me, it is not dependent upon my work, my ability or my desires. It is dependent upon my God, and my God alone. He knows how much I can handle and what it will take to bring me back to my knees.
            This life example of Rehoboam and the children of Israel serve as not only a reminder, but a warning as well. You are always in great danger of forgetting God amid your success. As my company grows and strengthens, as we become more and more established and increase, there is a very real danger for me to get prideful, puffed up and secure in my own flesh.
            Paul wrote similar words of warning in Philippians 3:4-7. Paul had every reason to be confident in his abilities, and in his own genealogy. If anyone had a right to boast about themselves, it was Paul. But remember what he said about that? “But whatever gain I had, I counted it as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7) Nothing in Paul’s life was worth the risk of turning away from Jesus Christ, and neither should it be for you and me.
            You have because God has given it to you. You are because God has chosen you to be. You are where you are today not by your will, but by His. As you increase, as you grow; as the Lord multiplies you, your silver and your gold; heed the warning siren and turn your heart to Him. Keep it with all diligence. For me, personally, these verses are humbling and they give me great comfort. I am humbled because they bring me back to my lowly state of utter dependence upon God and give me comfort to know that He is not done with me yet. I am encouraged to keep pressing forward, to keep moving ahead and trust that He will lead me through the increase up ahead.

            May the Lord God establish you and strengthen you in humble submission to what He has prepared for you ahead. In Jesus Name, Amen.