Archive for May, 2010


Stolen water

May 28, 2010

Scripture: “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!”  But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.” Proverbs 9:17

Observation:  The ‘S’ word!  Sin.  What is stolen, forbidden, not allowed, seems so much sweeter.  Ask Eve.  Whether the money or the ‘honey’ is not yours, the allure is stronger.  Ask King David.  Al-lure.  Once the hook is set…, the fire is in your lap; the noose has been stepped  into.  You will not go unpunished Proverbs 6:29 reminds us.

Application:  Why do I (and the rest of human-kind) feel this way?  Eve and Adam may have been the first perpetrators, but evolution doesn’t seem to have made me (us) smarter.  Sin – lusting for what is not mine.  Craving forbidden sweets.  Obsessing over another’s _____ (wife, car, home, cash, job…).

Why?  It’s in my spiritual D.N.A. (what theologians once called “original sin?”).

I can’t stop birds from flying over my head, but I don’t have to let them build a nest in my hair.

Prayer: LORD, give me wisdom to smell stolen sweets for what they are – a ruined mess that will sicken, and even kill.  Help me recognize the camouflage of hidden delights – and walk away.  May I assess the song of the Sirens for what it truly is – a death dirge to be sung at my funeral.

May I always want what You have for me – the wife of my youth, the meal I have earned, the refreshing drink of water from my own well.

In Jesus’ name, I pray.

May 25, 2010

Scripture(Solomon’s) heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God….

So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely….

1 Kings 11:4, 6

Observation: Solomon had everything.  Gold, power, weapons, empire, wisdom, royal wives (and beautiful?).  He had the approbation of God.  However, something was missing.  Self-control?  Ego control?  Heart control?  He had it all.  However, his wives had him by his…ego.

The kingdom begins to crumble – from the inside out; from Solomon’s half-hearted devotion to, and his weak-kneed following of, the LORD.  He had it all.  And it will be torn from his hand following his death.

Application: I am, by the standards of the world, rich.  However, like Solomon, I have mistresses who lead me astray.  Mine may be comfort, or being liked, or avoidance of pain, or fear.  But, they turn my heart from full devotion as surely as seductive wives/concubines ever could.

Prayer: LORD, I want to love You more than gold or silver.  I want You to be my heart’s desire.  I want to want You more than anything.  Help me to do so.

In Jesus’ name, I pray.

May 24, 2010 

Scripture: …we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3

Observation: Rejoice in suffering?  Not unless I’m masochistic.  No pain, no gain?  Not in my book.  For me, no pain, no pain.  But, there is a benefit (or can be—it’s not automatic) in suffering.  Suffering produces perseverance.  Perseverance produces (strength of) character.

Application: So, the benefit, for which I can rejoice, is what God will do in me when times are tough.  Suffering is like working out for my soul.  It takes off the spiritual flab and toughens me for the faith journey.  I get stronger, harder, leaner—in preparation for the mission.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me rejoice in what You are doing in me in tough times—growing and strengthening me to better be able to serve You.

In Jesus’ name.

However

Scripture: 1 Kings 7:1  It took Solomon 13 years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.

Observation: We have already been told that it doesn’t get any better than this.  There is a chicken in every pot and a camel in every garage.  Things look so good.  But, there is the creeping disease of self-serving, and the ever-expanding ego of the King.  It took 7 years to finish the Temple of God.  It took 13 years to complete Solomon’s palace.  Like the powder-post beetles at a friend’s church, it all looked good on the outside, but inside was riddled with holes, making the structure dangerous, and soon to be condemned.

Application: Don’t I have the same disease?  Don’t we all?  I want it my way.  I have my wish list.  I have an I-disease.  It is through these “words of God” (Romans 3:2) that I am able to see through a clear mirror the state of my soul and the reality of things.

Prayer: Lord, help me want Your word, Your perspective, as much as I want food, water, air, comfort.  I want Your glory, honor, and peace.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

Scripture: 1 Kings 4:20  The people of Judah…ate, they drank and they were happy.

Observation: It doesn’t get any better than this.  Times are good.  The empire is big.  Bellies are full.  There is peace and prosperity.

Then comes chapter 11:1 — “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women….”  The music in the background changes.  One tiny, but ominously dark, cloud hangs on the horizon of this new dawn.  Israel’s soul will be required.  Solomon’s choice will haunt the Kingdom and imperil Israel’s future.

Application: Things can look so good.  I can rock along with all going smoothly.  But faithful living, and wise choices are required of me.  Seeing the will of God, and obeying that will, are still necessary, if I don’t want choices to haunt my future and imperil my legacy.

Prayer: Lord, make me mindful of how much I need Your voice, Your guidance, and Your strength.  I want to be holy in heart and life.  I want to be faithful.  I want to be fruitful.  Help me, I pray!  In the name of Jesus.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

Observation: Paul writes about the twin pillars of our life in Christ-faith (trust in God revealed in Jesus Christ for our salvation) and love (how we treat one another for Jesus’ sake).  The church at Thessalonica had more faith and love when Paul wrote than when they first began.

Application: Do I have that kind of faith?  Do I show love by my actions?  I have more faith today than when I started this journey with Jesus as a teenager.  Yet, I am not where I need to be-where God wants me to be.  Am I more loving in my actions?  Toward family and friends, yes.  Brothers and sisters in Christ?  I believe so.  Toward the world?  The poor and the marginalized?  Not so much.

Prayer: Lord, break my heart for the people and things which break Yours.  In Jesus’ name.

May 14, 2010

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 22:11-13

11 “Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. 12 May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Observation: David’s prayer asks for the right things: God’s presence, success at building the house of God, discretion, understanding, strength and courage.  Even though Solomon would be a king at peace, strength and courage would be necessary to lead God’s people.  And the presence of God would be necessary.  Discretion, in order to know what to do and what not to do, would be required.  And, always, there would be the need for understanding of their circumstances, the right timing, the people, and their abilities and passions.

Application: As does anyone who would lead, I need discretion (discernment), God’s presence, understanding, strength and courage.  I cannot do this alone.  God’s people need more wisdom and strength than I could ever possibly possess by myself.

Prayer: Lord, I pray this prayer for me.  Please give me Your presence.  May I build Your church-deep and expansive.  Give me discretion and understanding.  Make me strong and courageous.  In the name of Jesus.