Hiding the Word:
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!
My kids have been asking me all week, “What are we doing for St. Patrick’s Day?” They are imagining a holiday full of parties, gifts, special programs, and elaborate meals.
I answer, “Wear green. That’s what we do.”
On a whim, I did ask if anyone wanted green eggs and ham for breakfast, fully expecting the response of “EEEEWWWWW, disgusting, no way!”
Amazingly, only one daughter opted for a Pop Tart over the green concoction I cooked up on the stove. Lesson being—only offer to make green eggs and ham when you actually intend to cook it. Fortunately I had the necessary food coloring to make good on my word.
My middle daughter insists on calling this Leprechaun’s Day and I’ve been correcting her every time. I know what she’s doing; she’s trying to spice up this otherwise bland holiday with some fun and folklore. She is a child captivated by stories and attracted by the imaginary.
So, I called my daughters to the computer this morning and we talked about how this all started anyway. We wear green and eat crazy meals of green food and the cabbage most people avoid the rest of the year all because of a missionary.
Really, that’s the bottom line. Patrick, a young teen living in Roman Britain from the 5th century, was kidnapped and enslaved in Ireland for years. After escaping and returning to his family, he felt that he had to return to the land of his enslavement, where Christianity had not reached and where people didn’t know about God. It was his bravery as a missionary pioneer that we celebrate today.
It seems fitting, then, that our verse for the week centers on missions. I hope you’ll join me in meditating on this verse all week long, praying over it and perhaps even memorizing it:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15).
For the history fans among you, I found this video on the history of the holiday. Enjoy!
A Matter of God
Originally Published 03/17/2011
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you”
2 Chronicles 20:12, NIV
I am a contest-enterer, but only very rarely a contest-winner. About one-and-a-half years ago, I participated in the adult summer reading program at our local library. Every month that I read some books (only one of my most favorite things to do in life!), I could place my name in the hat for a prize drawing. Then the day came when the librarian called me on the phone and said I had won. I was ecstatic! When I picked up my little trinket of a prize at the library, it didn’t even matter that it was only worth about $5. I felt like I had won the lottery!
Even when I play board games, I usually lose, and I certainly lose if the game involves rolling the dice, having the highest card or getting the ice cream princess in Candy Land. I think my kids like playing games with me because I don’t let them win, and yet they always win despite my best efforts.
Since today is St. Patrick’s Day I was thinking of how I am so very unlucky, but I am so very blessed. I’m thankful that my life is not at all dependent on luck, but is instead dependent on God’s mercy, love, and strength. The Psalmist told God, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me” (Psalm 31:15, NIV). I can have full confidence that my times are in God’s hands–my every day, my moment by moment, all entrusted to Him.
In my devotional time recently, I’ve been reading 2 Chronicles, which is one of my most favorite books of the Bible. There is a clear, unmistakable trend in this book about the kings of Judah and Israel. Almost every one of the kings had a life-defining moment when the nation was surrounded by a massive army that was better-equipped and more experienced than they were.
Every time a king fought the enemy in his own strength, either by amassing a defensive force or by making treaties with other nations, he was defeated. Yet, when a king turned to God and prayed for His intervention and help, he was miraculously saved. Often, the enemy troops would become confused and fight amongst themselves or they would simply run away in terror without ever engaging in battle.
Luck had nothing to do with it.
One of my favorite examples is King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. Like many other kings, he faced a vast enemy army. The Bible tells us, “Alarmed, Jehosaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3).
He was alarmed. He was emotionally distraught about this seemingly impossible situation. All the circumstances told him that he was about to be defeated and his people slaughtered on the battlefield.
So, with all of his fear of certain defeat, Jehoshaphat turned it all over to God. The whole nation fasted and then he prayed with them publicly. In his prayer, he said, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NIV).
Oooh, that verse sends chills up my spine. In so many of our life situations we have no idea what to do. We’ve worked everything out on paper and still come out short. There is just no physical, tangible way for us to defeat the enemy we are facing.
Those are the very moments when we need to look to God, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
That’s what Jehoshaphat did and God answered his prayer, saying: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). The next morning, instead of sending out his best troops against the enemy, Jehosphat “appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness” (2 Chronicles 20:21, NIV). The singers lifted up their praises to God and the enemy was totally annihilated without Jehoshaphat’s army raising a spear. All they had done was worship God.
Scripture tells us they named that battle site the Valley of Beracah or the Valley of Praise. Ultimately, “the fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for His God had given him rest on every side” (2 Chronicles 20:29-30, NIV).
Are you in a valley, surrounded by circumstances that will most certainly defeat you? Your survival isn’t a matter of luck, it’s a matter of God, and our God is trustworthy, dependable, faithful and mighty. Resolve to fix your eyes on God and not on your physical “reality.” Resolve to transform your valley into a valley of praise. That is when God is glorified and we find rest.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King