Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dealing with the "Ites" in Your Life

Some of my favorite stories from the Bible are the battles. My father, who served in Vietnam, instilled in me as a young child an interest in war. I have seen most of the war movies with some of them being pretty gruesome. Perhaps it’s not the most “girly” type of movie to enjoy but I do anyway.

The battle stories in the Bible serve as lessons in the battles we face today. I’m not talking about a physical battle but the spiritual battles we wage war with. In one of the first battles the Israelites would encounter after leaving Egypt, they were about to embark into the Promised Land.

In Deuteronomy 7 God begins to inform the Israelites of the victories they will have. It’s a bunch of “ites” that He points out are…”greater and mightier” than they are. We all have a lot of “ites” in our lives that are greater than our own will power or our desire to do better.

Yet it is God who works in us to conquer and destroy them, just as He promised would happen to Israel. However God knew Israel’s weaknesses and so He gave them some warnings about not intermarrying with them, showing them mercy or making covenants.
As we begin to see the “ites” be delivered from us, we sometimes want to hold on and intermarry or make a promise. “God, if you don’t make me give up this relationship, then I promise I will do such and such.”

Yet for us to experience real deliverance, we have to be willing to take this battle all the way. It’s going to get ugly, uncomfortable and it may get gruesome but it is necessary.

Why did God ask the Israelites to not intermingle with the “ites”? He knew the outcome. He knew it would cause their children to turn away from following God and they would in turn, follow other gods. This is a good lesson for any parent. In your pursuit of hanging onto your “ites” are you wiling to sacrifice your child for it?

In your justification to “just have one beer,” are you willing to risk that your child may end up one day becoming an alcoholic? Is your “ite,” whatever it is really worth it? Now please don’t accuse me of being legalistic. This is about fighting those “ites” in your life that if they aren’t dealt with, can end up affecting your children.

God also told the Israelites that they needed to put some action into their decision to conquer the “ites.” They were to destroy their altars, break down their sacred pillars, cut down their wooden images and burn their carved images. There was to be no trace of them left.

Every remnant of their “ite” was to be utterly and completely destroyed. Yet it’s interesting because later on in this portion of scripture He says “and the Lord Your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you” (verse 22).

So while God had this plan to destroy the “ites” in their life it wasn’t going to happen at once. I have found this very thing played out in my life as a Christian. Just as an example when my husband and I got married we were not living as believers. I wouldn’t come to know the Lord until almost five years later and he would be yet another year past that.

We were dealing with a lot of serious “ites” in our lives. Not one single person we knew thought our marriage was ever going to make it. I don’t think we thought it was going to make it. But with God’s help, once we came into a relationship with Him we had new hope.

Our “ites” didn’t disappear overnight. Little by little He has been dealing with the “ites” in our marriage. Here I am, almost 20 years later and only now feeling like we are finally getting to the end of those “ites” that had crept into our marriage so many years ago.

It can be a disappointing fact to face for those who first come to know the Lord. They think everything will be okay. They don’t realize that choices they have made and the way they have lived is going to take some work to get through. Little by little…but like the Israelites, we are never alone. This battle is not ours but the Lord’s.

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