Men who climb mountains are referred to as “Mountain Men.” It is estimated there are some 60,000 serious mountain climbers in the United States. But in the upper escutcheon of serious climbers is a small elite group, known as “hard men.” For them, climbing mountains and scaling sheer rock faces is a way of life. In many cases climbing is part of their whole commitment to life. Their ultimate experience is called free soloing. Climbing with no equipment and no safety ropes. John Baker is considered by many to be the best of the hard men. He has free soloed some of the most difficult rock faces in the United States with no ropes or any safety equipment of any kind. His skill has not come easily. It has been acquired through commitment, dedication, and training. His own wife says she cannot believe his dedication. When John isn’t climbing, he is often to be found in his California home hanging by his fingertips to strengthen his arms and hands.
Where are the hard men and women for Jesus? Where are those who will bring all of their energies to bear for the sake of Christ. As he walked to the screen door the mailman saw a small boy practicing the piano. The mailman tapped on the screen and asked, “Is your mom at home?” The boy never looked up from the piano, but said, “What do you think?”
Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah went to him and said, “Put your house in order because you are going to die.” PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER! In the Old Testament, to put your house in order was always a preparation for death. We still hear it used that way today, when the doctor comes in and says, “Get your affairs in order.” In the New Testament, to put our house in order was a spiritual quest.
How does one put his or her house/life in order? Joshua said to the people “…as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” For Joshua, to have your house in order was to put God first. Putting our lives in order must always begin with putting God first. If God isn’t first then the foundation isn’t strong. (Matt 7:24-27) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Paul writes about leaders in the Church. Certainly to be a leader certain standards are to be set since that person would influence many of individuals. But there is a theme that emerges from all of these standards to be an overseer in the Church. They are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. What is that theme? Self Control!
Obedience! Judg 2:17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’s commands. 1 Sam 15:22 Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Self control is a big issue in scripture. The control of our desires and of our lives. Just because we feel like doing something doesn’t make it right. That is the beginning of wisdom and satisfaction.
“Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” Hezekiah is saying, “My house is in order.” And God says, “you are right.” “Go and tell Hezekiah, I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.”
The fifth commandment “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you,” implies that the benefit for being obedient to our parents is a long life. In scripture, especially the Old Testament, one of the rewards for faithfulness and obedience to God’s word, was longevity of life. Why should this surprise us? Research shows that people who are happy live longer than those who are not happy. Happy in our marriages. Happy having a pet. Or happy because of a prayer life with our Heavenly Father.