I’m back

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It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve posted. (Don’t judge). Some good things have happened–I got a new Bible! But after 3 weeks of not being in the Word, things began to degrade in my spirit.

A feeling of unrightness.

A progressively bad attitude.

Depression.

Uncharitable thoughts which led me to a crisis of faith, not in God, but in leadership.

Fortunately, we met with some of our small group members yesterday afternoon, and I got clarity on the root of my issues. For me, it comes down to whether I can accept the limitations of others. The answer is that I can, once I realize what they are. Since I had no clue what was bothering me, I couldn’t make a conscious decision to let it go and redefine my boundaries. All vague, I know, but there you have it.

The biggest key, however, is refocusing on Jesus and getting back in God’s Word. A feeling of rightness restored. Peace in my spirit. An improved attitude. Hope. Charitable thoughts towards others.

Blessings on your day, my friends.

 

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1 Kings 11: Jeroboam, rhymes with Rehoboam

Things that make you go hmmm…

Rereading 1 Kings 11 this morning, I realized that like David, God sent a prophet to Jeroboam to tell him he would become king of ten of the tribes of Israel (the northern ones). In fact, God made the same promise to him that he made to David and Solomon:

If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you.” v38

I always thought it was interesting that Jeroboam (king of the northern tribes) rhymed with Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and king of Judah. If for no other reason that it makes it easy to memorize. Who were kings when the nation of Israel split? Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Nice pneumonic there.

Unfortunately, neither -boam does a good job obeying God and so begins the end of the monarchy of Israel. It will take a long time to fall, but Solomon’s refusal to follow God with his whole heart was the beginning of the end.

What can we learn from Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam? For me, this morning, I think it’s to not squander the opportunities God gives us. Don’t spurn the blessings of obedience. What is God asking you to do today? Will you do it?

 

1 Kings 10: The Queen of Sheba

One thing I never realized until reading Tosca Lee’s book The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, was that historians believe Queen Balkir’s son was sired by Solomon. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since he clearly had numerous wives and concubines, what was one more? And the romance…a dashing King, a legendary Queen…

But seriously. It is notable that she came over 1,200 miles to visit him for the purposes of making an alliance (between countries). Apparently, testing his wisdom was a way to determine whether a foreign monarch could be trusted to remain loyal and to make the correct moral and tactical considerations.

What is notable is that by visiting with Solomon, Balkir correctly recognized that it was God who provided wisdom to Solomon. As Dr. Thomas L. Constable observes, “In her visit we see Israel fulfilling its God-given purpose of bringing the Gentiles to Yahweh.” God set apart Israel as His holy people. It was by their example others were supposed to recognize that God was GOD and worship Him. Just like people are supposed to know God because of our words and actions.

Someone – I can’t remember if it was a pastor or a Christian radio DJ – put the question to his listeners, if someone were to hang around you for a day, how long would it take them to figure out you were a Christian without you telling them?

Be blessed, friends, and let God’s light shine through you in every word and deed as you go about your way today.

Psalm 136: His faithful love endures forever

 

I couldn’t get this song out of my head this morning while trying to read this psalm. And then when I did, I kept putting the words of the psalm to the song. LOL.

So enjoy this throwback for today.

Twenty-six times in Psalm 136 (once for every verse), it says

His faithful love endures forever.

Amen?

Psalm 136

2 Chronicles 7: Why is it so hard to obey?

So God answered Solomon’s prayer with conditions. Much like we do as parents, God gave Solomon (and the nation of Israel) two choices.

  1. Obey (or repent and obey) and things will be wonderful.
  2. Disobey and serve other Gods and things will be horrible.

Easy, right?

Wrong. This is the same choice God gave the Israelites over and over in the Old Testament. “Serve me only and obey my commands.” Yet over and over again, the Israelites chose to disobey.

Why is it that it is so hard for people to choose the better option? I don’t think it’s that we think option 2 is better, it’s just that we can’t clearly see the consequences of our actions. I don’t wake up in the morning and say to myself, “Time to sin!” I just get busy doing things and forget about God. Or I fool myself into thinking I’m doing what he wants me to do.

I think this is the appeal of Amish fiction. (Stay with me here). For those of us who live in an age of technology and hedonism, the Amish way of life seems simple. I think in the back of our minds, we think that if life were less complicated, choosing option 1 would be easier.

I’m pretty sure it didn’t get any easier than the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve? They chose option 1. Which tells me we need to fight our human nature tooth and toenail, no matter what.

We still have two choices.

  1. A relationship with Christ Jesus.
  2. Burning in the pit of hell for eternity.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

2 Chronicles 6: Hear and Forgive

Still reading about Solomon’s dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. He prayed this massive public prayer (anyone notice that no one prays that long anymore?) and I thought what he asked for was interesting. This is the verse that first caught my attention:

May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive. ~2 Chr 6:21

It grabbed my attention because Solomon is asking for God to watch over the Temple and listen to his requests and the requests of the people of Israel. I expected him to ask God to grant the requests, but instead the first thing he asks is for God’s forgiveness.

This request sets the tone for the rest of the prayer. Solomon asks God to

  • Hear and judge (v23) – when someone claims innocence
  • Hear and forgive (v25) – when Israel is defeated because the nation has sinned
  • Hear and forgive (v 27) – when there is drought because the nation has sinned
  • Hear and forgive (v 30) – when there is famine, plague, locusts, or the nation is besieged
  • Hear and grant (v33) – foreigner’s requests
  • Hear and uphold (v34) – when there is war
  • Hear and uphold, forgive (v39) – when Israel is conquered and in exile

Solomon’s prayer is part prophetic because all of these things come to pass, and probably based on Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 where God delineates the punishments for disobedience.

It makes me think of how many of our prayers are “hear and grant” when they should really be “hear and forgive.”

1 Kings 8: Massive animal slaughter

When I read accounts from the Old Testament about offerings it makes me cringe.

There before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count! ~1 Kings 8:5

The the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices to the LORD. Solomon offered to the LORD a peace offering of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. ~1 Kings 8:62

It seems like a waste that so many animals would be slaughtered. Today I went back to Leviticus 7 and read about peace offerings. I’m guessing these for the temple would fall under the heading of voluntary offerings.

If you bring an offering to fulfill a vow or as a voluntary offering, the meat must be eaten on the same day the sacrifice is offered, but whatever is left over may be eaten on the second day. And meat left over until the third day must be completely burned up. ~Leviticus 7:16-17

So really, the dedication of the Temple was a huge tailgate. Over the course of 14 days, all Israel gathered and had the biggest barbeque anyone could imagine in honor of the LORD. They ate some of the meat, parts of it went to the priests, the fat was burned up, the blood was spattered, and anything left over was completely burned.

A two-week national holiday where most of the food is supplied by the government sounds like the Super Bowl on steroids.

Isn’t it just like God to provide for us while we sacrifice to Him?

From now on when I read about animal sacrifices, I won’t see it as a senseless waste. Like tithing, these offerings were meant to support the priests (church) financially while also blessing the givers. A fiscal means to make God a priority in our lives. And like Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, a means to draw us closer to God.