Monday, April 16, 2012

Route 66: Just Crossed the Border into 1 Kings

Whew!  I didn't think I'd make it after being stuck in 2 Samuel so long but here I am. David's reign has come to its end and he wants to put his successor in place. But would the real king please step forward. When all is said and done Solomon would find the crown firmly placed on his head and with David's marching orders in his ears to "Clean House!" he takes his position as leader of the country.

Then, in a life changing moment God appears to Solomon and says, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” [3:5] Boy, is this ever a loaded proposition.  "Whatever you want..."  Our minds start to run over all the possibilities. I wonder if Solomon's did too before came upon the correct answer or had God already prepared his heart for this very moment. Whatever the case, when it came down to it he knew what he was going to need to fill his father's footsteps--

  “Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.  So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” [3:6-9]

A discerning heart and a discerning mind. Out of all the things that can be asked of God these two things perhaps are the most useful.  Solomon knew he needed God's wisdom- His heart and His mind- to lead the people entrusted to his care. Good choice considering he could not successfully rule over God's people without God's ways.

Life whether moving through our own or leading others is a whole lot easier in general when lived according to God's heart and God's mind. Today, none of us every have to wonder what God's mind is about things. We have it written down for us in the Bible and more than one copy can be found in most of our homes as well as on the Internet. And if you "have hidden [his] word in [your] heart" (Psalm 119:11) and  "meditate on it day and night" (Joshua 1:8), you will have instant access to it anywhere you go.  The Holy Spirit will also reminds of what God has taught you and the ever important action of asking God for his wisdom also works. See, you are never far from a discerning heart and mind.

I can't leave you without mentioning a couple other verses I love about 'asking God'. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us to, "‘Call to [Ask] me and I [God] will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." and Matthew7:7  says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." In the Matthew passage its say,"everyone who poses a question, seeks an answer and knocks for the door of understanding to be opened will receive what they need so we should never hesitate. Yes, when God says, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” it is a loaded proposition.  Depending on your request, it could be one whose answer will lead you to the best life possible- one that pursues God, his heart and his mind. Perhaps you should consider Solomon's choice.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Route 66: I Think I See the Tow Truck!

One last thought before, I leave 2 Samuel. Sometimes when you are stuck in a rut, you have to throw it in reverse to get out so that is just what I am doing. We're going to back up to chapter 23 where it says, "Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors." Don't ya love it! Exploits and mighty men. How exciting is that?

The story is about David hiding out in a cave and his thirst was getting the best of him. He says in his dehydration induced stupor,  “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”  Really? Risk your life for a drink of water?! How about a drink for a well on our side of the front? How about that? But off his mighty men go to serve their king.

This is a beautiful thing really, how diligent these men were to please David. There may have been a bit of adrenaline rush for these fellows who loved exploits but the outcome would be the same. David would be honored with their service. David would however "refuse to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD" as an offering because he was so totally overwhelmed by how these men could risk their lives for him.

At what level do you serve your King? As these mighty men ready at any moment to please the Lord? Or do you hold back looking for a way that wouldn't cost you quite so much? The choice is yours.  I kind of like the words mighty and exploits so I guess you know what I'll choose. I never want to turn down an opportunity for a great adventure! ;-D

Route 66: Still Digging Out of 2 Samuel

Today, I am that person who when visiting a museum they are found lagging behind the rest of group reading all the info on each display driving everyone who just like to browse crazy.  I usually am on the side of the casual observer of exhibits keeping up a quicker pace but I can't move on yet. David's song in 2 Samuel 22 has caught my eye and my imaginings are in overdrive.

If you were ever in doubt that God has got it covered when it comes to the enemies of your life then you need to take time to read it. It says who God is-a rock, a fortress, a deliverer, a stronghold, a refuge and a savior-and is very descriptive when it tells us just what he is willing to do on our behalf if we choose to allow him to deal with it. Be sure to read this with the most dramatic voice you can muster.

“In my distress I called to the LORD;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9smoke rose from his nostrils;
   consuming fire came from his mouth,
   burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the LORD,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

What a picture. Have you ever imagined such power is being exerted toward those things that are laying havoc in your life. Many times we picture people as our enemies but the truth is it sin that wages war with our spirits and our lives. Look at how God responds when call out for help against that which hurts us the most. He is on it with both barrels seeking to annihilate our opposition. It is explosive and powerful and the best part is He wins!


 17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Did you see that? The reason he confronted the enemy? Out of delight for me. Wow. That brings tears to my eyes.

Some synonyms to delighted are blissful, glad, gratified, happy, joyful, pleased, tickled and satisfied. Tickled is what I feel each time I see my grandchildren learn a new skill or grasp a lesson that will help them in life. It IS very satisfying wouldn't you say?

I think the key here is, what we decide to do when we are overwhelmed with sin.  Do we ignore the battle raging around us?  Do we hide the sin for fear the Lord will be displeased, sweeping it under the rug or making excuses? Or do we say, “In my distress I called to the LORD?"[vs. 4] Is that what delights him? Our call for help? Verse 28 holds the answer. "You [God] save the humble." Yes, our acknowledgement of his power to rescue us gets his attention and his favor.

And trusting him with our lives is an act of righteous. We see evidence of this in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans-

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed ... Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,  but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." Romans 4:18-24

 Again with the "Wow, did you see that?"

"The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness" for our belief in him. [vs. 24] If your still not convinced, Hebrews 11 has a long list of flawed people who had much in their lives to be ashamed of yet they were seen by God as righteous because they chose to put their faith-trust-belief in him.

The rest of the song tells of God's actions toward the righteous. My favorite part-"He sets me free from my enemies." If you are struggling against the enemy of sin today perhaps its time to call on the Lord who will "soar on the wings of the wind" with smoke raising from his nostrils shooting his arrows and scattering your oppressor. Choose to let God rescue you from the thing you seem so powerless against. Trust the Lord. He gives great victories.


For all who read this morning's post before it was complete, my apologies. Please visit again and receive the fully updated version.

Route 66: Stuck Somewhere in 2 Samuel

Earlier this week I had a lovely evening with my youngest granddaughter, Hero. She about a year old and the spitting image (why do the call it that?) of her mother. It is so much fun to watch her stiff-legged steps as she attempts to maneuver from place to the other with her new found skill of walking. She is so like her mother at the age not only in looks but she resembles her spirit as well- sweet, giggly and vivacious. The time I spend with Hero not only is enjoyable because of this precious little child and her antics but I also get to remember her mother's childhood because she so closely carries her likeness.

In 2 Samuel 6, we see another idea about "bearing one's image" only this will not have such a pleasant outcome although a strong reminder of who God is will be in apparent before it is all over. David has decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant home to his city and he is going to do it in grand fashion. He has called up thirty thousand troops and a marching band to accompany him along the way. This procession will have everything! Can you just imagine it? And no parade is complete without a Grand Marshall and who will fit the bill but the Lord Almighty Himself. What's more, the delivery of the Ark will be stepped up a notch and they will add a 'float' to the celebration. It will be fantastic!

Right up to the fatal mistake, that is. One man, Uzzah will reach out and do the unthinkable. He would touch the Ark with his hand and that would be the last straw for God and he would keep his word as he always does. Death would be God's response to Uzzah for the disregard of God's Law. Harsh, you say? Yes, it is but should not have come as a surprise.

You see, rules for transporting God from place to place were laid out in detail in the 'handbook' of the Law and Uzzah would have or in any case, should have known the regulation. He was the Lord's representative after all, the keeper of the Law, and the example of spiritual attitude of obedience others should follow including the king. Yet, here he was changing the law up a bit to fit some extenuating circumstance. The Ark should have been transported by the priests, lifted up to their shoulders by poles that were threaded through rings that were attached to its corners. To me this is a picture of God glorified and the priest's submission as they carried him. Somehow the oxcart just doesn't portray that same feeling.

We do not really know for why David and/or the priests decided that the ark would ride rather than be carried but we do know God would not subjected to change by the priests and his answer would devastate a family and a king who so wished the Lord would reside within his city. The parade of celebration was over and a funeral march of sorrow would be put in its place.

Such a sad state of affairs. David's plan was to bring God closer, to celebrate and honor Him, in a way that seemed right at least in his estimation so how could it go so wrong? His intentions were good after all. What made this such a big deal? The problem was that God is not one who will be changed to fit our sensibilities. He has standards and they are not up for discussion. They are what make him who he is after all-Faithful and True-so we can depend on him. That's why it was important that God's agents, the priests, should carry him according to his instructions and not try to make him compromise with what they wanted. They represented him.

For each of us it is equally important to be mindful of how we carry God's image into the world. Is it an accurate portrayal of who God really is or has he been pushed and pulled it out of shape to fit your desires? Think about it. Have you asked God to go outside his word with you on something because you have a special set of circumstances? If you have you are running the risk of giving those around you a false impression of who God is. The truth is, as seen in this story, He'll have none of it. He doesn't work that way. He will not be manipulated. And for those who try to make him fit into their schemes, they like will find themselves like those in Israel on that terrible day devastated and full of sorrow. If we are to take on the task of carrying God, be his image bearers, we need to conform to him and his ways. That's what life is all about after entrusting it to God, learning to live it the his way. We need to become his 'spitting image'.

So we are back to that. Let me shed some light on that saying. The English phase-spitting image-comes from 'spit and image' which was a shortened version of 'spirit and image'. Ah ha... Now, we get it and that is just what we need when we carry God into the world. Just as my granddaughter looks so like her mother, our friends and our families and the world at large must see that God is our strongest feature. We need his spirit and his image to reside in our being as we take our rightful position, lifting him up for all the world to behold his glory.

"Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever."
-Psalm 86:11-12

Friday, April 6, 2012

Route 66: Day 97; 1 & 2 Samuel

This has been a whirlwind of a week for our family. Spring has sprung and spare time, if there is such a thing, has been taken to make prepare and plant a garden that will hopefully be in full bloom on our daughter's wedding day.  Needless to say, I have fallen behind in my Scripture reading and summarizing and I can sure  feel it. My spirit actually starts to grumble when I have been out of the Word for a few days. It's a bit like hunger pangs. I even start to get a bit testy as if my blood sugar is dipping. Luckily yesterday day I was able to have a long luxurious 'meal' as I spent time catching up on Saul and David.

Now these two guy are really something.  One plagued with insecurity. The other enormous self confidence.  Taken to the extreme these opposite traits both would have adverse effects on the people around them. Saul would be a self-focused and distracted in is campaign to crush his seeming competition leaving his country at risk from the enemy while David would go about the countryside taking whatever he wanted to the point of possibly becoming "obnoxious to his own people." [1 Samuel 27:12]

There were a couple of things that stuck with me throughout the reading. Maybe because it is an election year my thoughts were drawn to the parts on leadership. The first was about how to choose a leader for a nation or should I say, "How not to choose a leader."  As we see in this story, it is a bad idea to make this decision based on stature or let's say visibility. Just because someone is literally 'head and shoulders above the rest', and has the best chance of winning the election doesn't necessarily mean he would be a 'winner' when it comes to running the country. If we want to choose successfully,  what matters is what he's got going on on the inside. God tells Samuel that very thing when sets off to find a replacement for the very tall and good-looking Saul. [1 Samuel 16:7]

Secondly, I am impressed with how David, aside from a couple practical jokes, acted with respect toward the position Saul held as king even when Saul had lost his mind and was passionately pursuing him with the purposes of murdering him. Over and over, David repeated the fact, 1 cannot "lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” David respected the fact that God approved the choice of Saul as king and he was not going to question that. He also led by example calling others out when they were tempted to act against the king and even instructed the nation to honor him in death.

We have so many freedoms in this country. We can choose to say what we want and exercise our right to vote by wisely selecting the one who will  lead us.  I believe that the examples God has included in his story here in the books of Samuel should give us something to at least consider on how to conduct those choices. 

Now, on to the rest of the story of David as king. I hope you are keeping up in the reading through the Bible. Don't let yourselves become ravenous with hunger for the Word. No calorie counting here. This is one time you can 'eat' as much as you want and become fat and satisfied.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16