Monday, May 27, 2019

"The Fruit of Accomplishment"

2nd Kings 19.30-31 NASU

“The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors.

The zeal of the Lord will perform this.

Enthusiasm for a project will only get you so far. At some point your excitement must turn into energy if you expect to make the idea a reality. Not so with the Lord. His zeal for a project is enough. Somehow, if the Lord God supports a plan, it just happens. He spoke and everything I have seen, known, or could possibly imagine, simply came into being.


“By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word...” 
Hebrews 11.3 “The Message”

That doesn’t work for you and me. We aren’t God. Our projects require both our hard work and God’s creative power. My success in any project begins with a vision and enthusiasm for that vision. I am then required to press into the assignment with all my might. I must become grounded and rooted in my resolve to accomplish the mission. Eventually the good fruit of accomplishment is born. The fruit of accomplishment is the evidence of the God’s hand of blessing in any endeavor.

I want the “zeal of the Lord” working on my behalf. His enthusiasm for the work I do guarantees its success. If the Lord has passion for my project, then without question, it will “take root downward and bear fruit upward.”

It does not work for me to come up with an idea, then ask Jesus to bless my efforts. The better questions for me are… 
What is Jesus passionate about?
What is He zealous to perform?
What makes the heart of God beat faster?
What causes heavenly enthusiasm and stirs Him to action?

I should be involved in whatever that is.  
_______________________

The album "Fruit Tree" is a 2003 production of beautiful instrumental piano music by artist Jeremy Morris on Jam Records label. For review and purchase information, go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/jeremy4.

Friday, May 24, 2019

"Surprises, Yes! Secrets, No!"

2nd Kings 17.9 NASU

“The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the Lord their God.”

We always had a “no secret” rule in our home. I kept no secrets from my wife, and she never asked the children to keep them from me. I never hide pertinent business information from my clients. The practice of secrecy enables people to form unholy alliances. Those possessing ‘secret’ knowledge profit from the ignorance of others. Secret societies create division and promote class distinctions. Secrets keep those who deserve to know out the information loop. Secrets impart power to their holders and advance agendas outside of God’s will. 

We always taught our young children if asked, “Can you keep a secret?,” to respond automatically with, “No, I cannot. Whatever you tell me I will tell my mom and dad.”

We do make a distinction at home between secrets and surprises. Surprises are short term events and with happy endings. Surprises are kept private for the benefit of those from whom we keep information. Secrets are about what I can gain. Surprises are about what I can give. For example, if I buy a gift for my wife’s birthday I may ask the children to help me wrap it, reminding them with during this teaching moment: “Don’t tell mom. It’s not a secret
It’s a surprise!” Hopefully, Mom will be feel loved when we celebrate her birthday and present her “surprise.” 

Surprises are fun and exciting, but nothing good comes from keeping secrets. In our home surprises are encouraged, secrets are exposed. Surprises make others happy. Secrets would hurt them if they knew. We must face the consequences and reveal our secrets.

Except for promoting secret times of personal and private prayer (Matthew 6.5-6), Jesus was anti-secret. He taught full disclosure. The Lord hid nothing from the world He came to save. His life was an open book. 

“I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in
the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.”
John 18.20 NASU

We cannot hide and keep secrets from God. Adam and Eve tried and failed. No secret you try to keep will be kept that way.

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be
 known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and
 what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.
Luke 12.2-3 NASU

“The sons of Israel did things secretly” forming unholy alliances and creating a spiritual chasm between themselves and “the Lord their God.” They never got away with the secret plans they hoped to pull off. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Stick-to-it-ive-ness"

2nd Kings 13.18b-19 “The Message”

“Elisha... said to the king of Israel, ‘Strike the ground.’ The king struck the ground three times and then quit.“The Holy Man became angry with him: ‘Why didn’t you hit the ground five or six times? Then you would beat Aram until he was finished. As it is, you’ll defeat him three times only.’”

Perseverance by Thomas Kinkade

You get out of life exactly what you put into it. If I want a good relationship with my kids, I must invest emotionally in their lives. If I want success in business, I have to work hard and remain dedicated to my clients. If I want to learn the Bible, I must take time to read and study it. If I want my wife to respect me, I’ve got to show her, in practical ways, how much I love her. If I want to be close to Jesus, I get to spend time in prayer talking with Him. If I want to be an accomplished musician, I have no other option but to practice, practice, practice!

If I want to be proficient at any endeavor, I am required to give, practice, work, pray, study, and invest with passion and perseverance.

The king of Israel lacked passion and perseverance. He wanted to defeat his oppressor Aram. Elisha promised it would happen, but it did not. Elisha was a “Holy Man.” He spoke for God. What went wrong?

Prophetic words do not act in a vacuum. They require cooperative effort from the person for whom their message is intended. If a true prophet of God says, “You will be a great leader in the body of Christ” and you do nothing to hone your leadership skills, his prophecy will not come to pass.

The next time you are called upon to exercise your divinely appointed gifts, don’t go halve-sies. Finish the job. Gather some passion and perseverance. Show some stick-to-it-ive-ness. Go all the way. Invest yourself with total abandon. “The king struck the ground three times and then quit.” Don’t make that mistake. “Hit the ground five or six times,” or more! It takes faith to work, pray, study, prepare, give, practice, and invest your life but Jesus will give you the strength. 

Trust Him and don’t give up. Do whatever it takes to get the job He’s called you to do... done!
__________________

The beautiful painting above is entitled "Perseverance" by Thomas Kinkade (1958-2012). 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Wimps Need Not Apply"

2nd Kings 9:20; 10.17 NIV

“The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi — he drives like a madman.” “When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of the Lord spoken to Elijah.”


Jehu was a madman, and he drove like one. The guy was brutal and had no fear. Jehu assassinated both kings of Israel and Judah. He ordered Jezebel thrown to her death from the top of the royal palace. He called for the heads of Ahab’s seventy direct descendants, placed them in baskets, and dumped them in two piles at the city gate. “Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel… until he left him without a survivor” (2nd Kings 10.11).

He slaughtered every follower of Baal and, after destroying their temple, Jehu “made it a latrine to this day” (2nd Kings 10.27). Jehu single-handedly eradicated false worship in Israel and served justice to the house of wicked Ahab. In so doing, he fulfilled “the word of the LORD which He spoke to Elijah” (2nd Kings 10.17).

Mad though he was, Jehu commanded the respect of those around him. He ruthlessly fulfilled the mission of the Lord. Nothing stopped him. Jehu was anything but politically correct. He cared not one bit of what others thought of him. He was fearless and focused.

The American church could use a dose of the Jehu spirit.
Many modern Christians are more concerned with making a good impression than with making a real difference. ‘Being nice’ ranks right up there with serving Christ. The common church-goer is more dedicated to etiquette than ethics. Doing things the right way has superseded doing the right things. Being liked is often more important than being Christ-like.


Getting man’s approval at any cost is the modern form of Baal worship... and it’s rampant in the pews. 

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” 
Luke 6.26

“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 
2nd Timothy 3.12

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” 
Galatians 1.10

“Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” 
James 4.4

Only God’s approval matters. The people whose approval you think you need really don’t matter at all. We have a mission to fulfill. It’s the Great Co-mission issued by Jesus and recorded for all time in the book of Mark, chapter 16, verse 15: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” That’s the believer’s job description and it’s not for the faint of heart. Wimps need not apply.

We need a dose of spirit of Jehu. We must drive “like a madman” to that sacred place in our souls called the Temple of Public Opinion. This is where we make daily offerings to the god of people-pleasing. We must get tough (maybe even go a little mad) and destroy that temple! It is impossible to cling to the opinion of others and serve Christ with total abandon. It’s time to kill and bury for good our need to be liked.

The Christian man or woman must develop the force of character to violently eradicate all remnants of the pursuit of human approval. We need only the approval of God to take His kingdom on earth by storm. We need a dose of the spirit of Jehu.


“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of
heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
Matthew 11.12 NASU
__________________

Image above is a character from "Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People" from Telltale Games. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"Chariots of Fire"

2nd Kings 6.15-17 NIV
angel (Hebrew)
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. “‘Don't be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’

“And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

In my business I am constantly confronted by an opposing “army of horses with chariots.” Challenges, obstacles, and complications make my pursuit of a livelihood and the advancement of my mission, a real venture of faith.

I often begin my day with a question for Jesus: “Oh, my Lord, what shall we do?” The answer is inevitably and always the same: “Don’t be afraid.” I have nothing to fear. God is on my side. No matter how many demonic forces are stacked up against me, God and me form a majority.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?”
Romans 8.31 The Net Bible and “The Message”

angel (Greek)Jesus reminds me, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” I want to believe but, like Elisha’s servant, I need eyes of faith. Jesus intercedes for me before His Father’s throne: “Oh Lord, open his eyes so he may see.”

“Therefore, being always of good courage, we walk by faith, not by sight.”
2nd Corinthians 5.6-7 NASU

Seeing with eyes of faith enables me to “walk by faith.” What do I see in faith? I see “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around.” It is an amazing angelic vision, imparting the assurance of ultimate victory for me and the people I love. I can overcome my small problems because Jesus daily comforts my troubled heart…

“You… have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
1st John 4.4 NASU

Monday, May 20, 2019

"Holy Dirt"

2nd Kings 5:17 NKJV

“So Naaman said, ‘… please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord.’”

An uneasy relationship existed between the nation of Aram and Israel, whose king Jehoram lost his father in a battle with Aram a few years before. The king of Aram heard of the power of Elisha and sent his valued commander Naaman to be healed of leprosy by this great prophet of Israel. The commander received his healing and in gratitude offered to pay Elisha. Elisha refused payment but granted Naaman’s request to bring “two mule-loads of earth” from Israel back to his homeland in Aram.

It was apparently Naaman’s plan to return home and erect an altar on dirt brought from the land of the one and only true God, the Lord God of Israel. Naaman would worship the God of his newly found faith on newly collected holy ground. Naaman may have been superstitious, or perhaps he thought it wise to keep a physical reminder of his new-found devotion to the Lord.

Naaman’s plan is not that unusual. Orthodox Jews prefer to be buried with dirt gathered from the Holy Land. Followers of Mohammed collect stones from Mecca. Some American Christians save water in a vial from the Jordan River where they were baptized. Relics of these kind can carry special meaning for a follower of any faith.

When Moses stood before the God of Israel at the burning bush in the wilderness of Horeb, the Lord commanded him, “...remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3.5). Anywhere God displays Himself is “holy ground.” 

I stand on “holy ground” every day and depend on divine encounters to sustain my faith.  I meet God when Jesus is revealed in my practice of PB & J (regular Prayer, Bible reading, and Journaling). This is the substance of my faith. It is my “holy ground” event. I need a couple “mule-loads” of holy dirt with me at all times to remind me of the God I serve and His purpose in my life. ---

Friday, May 17, 2019

"I Am as You Are"

Wounded Friend by Maxo Vanka2nd Kings 3.6-7 NASU

“And King Jehoram... sent word to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, ‘The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?And he said, ‘I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’”

Jehoram king of Israel received tribute, an ancient form of taxation, from the conquered king and people of Moab. After the death of Jehoram’s father Ahab, Moab rebelled. Jehoram sought the assistance of two other kings, Jehoshaphat of Judah and the king of Edom. Together this newly formed three nation alliance agreed to subdue the Moabites. Their alliance was strong and Jehoshaphat made a promise of loyalty to Jehoram:

I will go... I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”
2nd Kings 3.7 NASU

Seven days into their journey to pursue Moab the three nation army could not locate water. The king of Israel lost his courage, but his ally Jehoshaphat remained resolute... “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here?” (2nd Kings 3.11). They found Elisha who prophetically confirmed the success of their mission and water miraculously appeared.

Jehoshaphat was one of the few good kings in Judah and proved to be a very good friend to Jehoram. Jehoram solicited Jehoshaphat for help to complete a difficult task. Jehoshaphat agreed. When things went wrong, Jehoram wanted to quit but Jehoshaphat remained strong. He was true to his word even after Jehoram lost confidence.

A true friend is willing to fight for his brother’s cause even when his brother wants to quit. A friend’s role extends beyond the basic terms of his agreement. He enters the deeper realm of the spirit with the other man. A real friend not only agrees to the mission (“I will go”), he also promises to become one with his companion (“I am as you are”). When his friend falters, he is there to prop him up.

I want to have and be a friend like that.
_________________

"Wounded Friend" by Croatian-American artist Maksimilijan Vanka (1889 – 1963), also known as Maxo Vanka.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

"Man-Boy"

1st Kings 21.4 NLT

“So Ahab went home angry and sullen because of Naboth's answer. The king went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to eat!

King Ahab never grew up. He offered to pay for Naboth’s vineyard but Naboth said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers” (1st Kings 21.4). Ahab could not have what he wanted so he “went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to at.” His wife, Jezebel catered to the king’s  childish demands and promised to get the vineyard for Ahab. To make Ahab’s wish come true, she had Naboth falsely accused and killed. Ahab was the worst king ever…

“Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do
evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.”
1st Kings 21.25 NASU

Ahab should have listened to Mick Jagger instead of Queen Jezebel…

“You can't always get what you want,
  You can't always get what you want,
  You can't always get what you want;
  But if you try sometimes you just might find
  You get what you need.” [1]

The spirit of Ahab is alive and well. This spirit displays itself in the form of a tantrum when a child does not get what he wants. Ahab was a little boy inside the body of a man. He was a man-boy. A man-boy’s fits of poor behavior are better disguised than those of a two-year-old. Adult tantrums are less of a spectacle. They go inward. Like Ahab, a man-boy easily becomes “angry and sullen.” He turns “his face to the wall” and refuses to communicate with those around him. He wants mommy Jezebel to reach inside, find and fix the ‘owie’ so he can have what he wants and have it now.

The boy inside a man’s body doesn’t care about consequences. He just wants what he wants and convinces himself he won’t be happy without it. The difference between a man and a boy is this a man’s ability to delay gratification. A boy cannot do that. and falls apart when he can’t get what he wants. A real man fully understands and graciously accepts that “you can’t always get what you want.” He is learning to become free from the bondage of childish desires. A man of God places his faith in Christ and believes “you get what you need” when you need it.

Lord, deliver me from the spirit of Ahab and my carnal desire to remain a boy inside the body of a man. I will not be a man-boy. Make a real man of me.
_____________________

[1] The Rolling Stones released the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on their 1969 album Let It Bleed. It was written by lead singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards and named the “100th greatest song of all time” by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004. It features the London Bach Choir helping to bring the song to its amazing crescendo.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"So-Called Brothers"

1st Kings 20.32-33 NIV 

“Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, ‘Your servant Ben-Hadad says: “Please let me live.”’ 

“The king answered, ‘Is he still alive? He is my brother.’

“The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. ‘Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!’ they said.

Ben-Hadad was no brother. King Ahab should not have called him one nor believed the son of Hadad when he claimed to be one. Ben-Hadad was the drunken pagan leader of Aram who started, but could not finish, a war with Israel. With his tail kicked and firmly wedged between his legs, the defeated leader of Aram crawled to Ahab hoping for mercy. Ahab made a serious error by referring to his enemy as “my brother.” Ben-Hadad’s people capitalized on Ahab’s poor judgment and “were quick to pick up his word.” They presented their fallen king of Aram as “brother Ben-Hadad.”

A sister or brother is a family member. By faith in Christ, I belong to the family of God. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10.9). That profession enacted by faith alone makes you my brother or sister. If someone pretends to be a “brother,” I am commanded to keep my distance...

“...I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is
an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard,
or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.”
1st Corinthians5.11 NASU

Don’t trust everyone who calls himself a “brother.” Ben-Hadad was not a brother to Ahab. He was an enemy of Israel who pretended to be part of the family to save his life. Ahab was just stupid enough to believe him. Eight years later Ahab lost his life in a battle against “brother Ben-Hadad.” That’s how the king of Israel was repaid for showing mercy to a so-called “brother.”

Jesus called false brothers “ravenous wolves” in “sheep’s clothing.” Beware of these liars...

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances
are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Dont be impressed with charisma;
look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.”
Matthew 7.15-16 “The Message”

Be careful who you call a “brother.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

"The Prayer of a Salesman"

1st Kings 17.14 NIV

 “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’”

I’m a salesman. I wake up every morning unemployed. I must sell more if I hope to get another paycheck and feed my family. Paul warned the early church “If you don’t work, you don’t eat” (2nd Thessalonians 3.10). In my case, if I don’t sell, I don’t eat... and neither do my kids! For some salespeople, this fact creates undue pressure rendering them incapable of the very thing they must exhibit... sales performance.

I’ve worried about my next sale, especially early in my career. But through the years I’ve become a believer in the miracle of divine multiplication. I’ve always had enough. My family never missed a meal. The kids always had a roof over their heads. There were lean and hard times, but we always managed. When I first moved to Portland in the mid-80’s, I had nothing except my wife, three kids, and a beat up car. I wondered how I would find an income in this community. I was the widow of Zarephath…

“I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar;
and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for
me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
1st Kings 17.12 NASU

There were a few nights when I thought we were consuming our last meal. But there was always more the next day. Even in my darkest hours following a difficult divorce and disastrous custody battle, God provided for my children, their mother, and me. For a short time I was homeless, living in my car, yet God still proved faithful and provided amply.

The journey from then to now was rough but, by God’s grace, and the miracle of divine multiplication, I got here. Today I have a beautiful home, seven great kids, seven amazing grandchildren, a vibrant career, two cars, a couple dogs, and a piano. For over twenty years I had the woman of my dream. My marriage to Adonica was the best thing that ever happened to me. Leukemia took her life nearly four years ago, but my life is enriched today because of her. I am truly a blessed man.

How did I survive? Did I always work hard? Did I tithe on every penny of my small income? Did I give God all the glory all the time? Was I fully faithful with the little I had? Did I do anything to deserve the prosperity I now enjoy? No, no, and no. I tried to implement a few basic principles of financial success, usually without notable results. I cannot give myself credit in any way. Nor can I offer a testimonial-type formula that would make sense to others in financial straits. I find some solace and comfort in the record of Job’s writings...

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1.21

If it were not for the abundant and providential grace of God, I could be the guy standing at the freeway entrance with an “every little bit helps” sign. I’ve been homeless with nothing to my name. Today I have a home and the gift of a family and friends and steady income. Today it’s easy to say “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

I am a salesman. I woke up unemployed about an hour ago. I trust the same Jesus who multiplied the fish and loaves and fed thousands of hungry followers in the first century A.D. He will feed my family and me today. I choose to approach this day with confident expectation: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6.11). I know the God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50.10) can give me another sale. I believe in the miracle of divine multiplication.

“The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry.”

“My cup runneth over!”
Psalm 23.5

Monday, May 13, 2019

"Don't Believe Everything You Hear No Matter How Credible the Source"

1st Kings 13.17-19 NLT

“For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, ...’ 

“But the old prophet answered, ‘I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: “Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.”’


But the old man was lying to him. “So they went back together, and the man of God ate and drank at the prophet's home.”

Did you know that God can speak to you? You must listen and discover His word. Once you’ve heard God’s word do not forsake it. Don’t trust anyone who gives you a message contrary to what you heard, not even someone who claims to hear from God. The prophet from Judah heard from God: “You must not eat or drink anything while you are there” in Bethel of Israel. Another man persuaded the prophet to violate the command of the Lord. How could that happen?
  1. The man was older. The younger man deferred to his elder.

  2. The older man was a prophet. The man asserted, “I am a prophet, too, just as you are.”

  3. The older prophet claimed to hear from an angel. The young prophet decided an angelic revelation trumped his personal beliefs. 
The man from Bethel was older, he was a prophet, and he heard from angels. The younger prophet weighed the apparent facts and made a decision, the wrong one! He had not banked on one important piece of undisclosed information which cost him his life: The older prophet who spoke with angels was a liar!

The young prophet from Judah failed to trust the word of the Lord in his heart. Paul warned us against false reliance and blind faith one thousand years later:

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other
than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
Galatians 1.8 NIV

Don’t let anyone talk you out of what Jesus told you is true.

Friday, May 10, 2019

"A Second Visit in Your Old Age"

1st Kings 11.4, 9 NIV


As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” 

The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.”

From his death bed David publicly proclaimed his son Solomon as the next king when the boy was about eighteen years old. Even as a young man, Solomon was a decisive leader putting to death his father’s defectors and strongly establishing his position of political power. God appeared to Solomon twice during his lifetime, the first time within the first few years of his young reign. In a dream God offered Solomon any wish…

“Ask what you wish Me to give you.”
1st Kings 3.5 NASU

Solomon humbly admitted “I am but a little child” and asked for wisdom in his new role as king of Israel…

“So give Your servant an understanding heart…
to judge this great people of Yours”.
1st Kings 3.7, 9 NASU

God honored Solomon’s request. During the next twenty years the king completed a massive Temple and Palace building project and became known as the wisest (and wealthiest) man in the known world (1st Kings 10.23). Somewhere around the age of forty God made His second appearance to Solomon offering him a conditional promise…

“…if you will walk before Me… in integrity of 
heart… then I will establish the throne of 
your kingdom over Israel forever.”
1st Kings 9.4-5 NASU

The king did not fulfill his end of the bargain. In direct opposition to God’s command, Solomon intermarried with the pagan nations to form strategic alliances with neighboring countries. Taking on no less than a thousand wives and concubines, he extended his powerful realm at the cost of forsaking the God of his youth. Solomon became shamefully self-absorbed in the last twenty years of his life and failed to leave the glorious legacy God intended.

God’s second appearance to Solomon was as critical as the first. The king completed his building project. He achieved incomprehensible success and was at the political apex of a brilliant career. Now, more than ever, the king would need to refocus on his calling to serve the Lord and make his golden years count for something eternal. Instead Solomon took the easy path and failed to finish well.

It’s common to slip up spiritually in the latter years of life. We’ve built our careers. We’ve raised our kids. We’ve paid off our houses. We’ve finished our Temple and Palace projects and earned our rest. We deserve a few hedonistic pleasures. Right? Wrong!

Like Solomon, God now pays you a second visit. In this visitation , He reminds you that your life is not over. You’ve done a good job so far but there’s so far to go. Your latter years count for something more significant than you imagine. Don’t quit. Jesus expects you to finish well.

______________

King Solomon's life may be roughly divided into three 20-year periods... Solomon's youth, his early reign from approximately eighteen or twenty years old until about the age of forty, and his final twenty years. Some sources state that Solomon lived until about the age of eighty. But according to 1st Kings 11.42 and 2nd Chronicles 9.30, Solomon reigned as king for forty years. If we start from the premise that Bathsheba birthed Solomon when David was in his late forties or early fifties, then Solomon would have been in his late teens or early twenties when he assumed the throne after his father's death at the age of seventy. This calculation puts Solomon's death somewhere around the age of sixty. 

Thursday, May 09, 2019

"What a Woman!"

1st Kings 8.18-19 NIV

Femme et enfant au bord de la mer (Woman and Child on the Seashore) by Pablo Picasso, 1921
“But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart.

Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood — he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’”

King David tried to show his great respect and love for the Lord by building a Temple in His honor. God chose David’s son Solomon to build the Temple instead. This was not to discredit David. In fact, he was commended for his desire to please God: “…you did well to have this in your heart.”

Apparently, it was not the finished product that God cared about. He didn’t need a Temple. But David needed to have a Temple project in his heart. He needed to love God enough to want to build the Temple. That was all. In King David’s case, it wasn’t the action but the thought that counted.

Of all the mothers I have ever known or heard of, clearly my wife, Adonica, was the best. She was supremely giving and loving. Every decision she ever made was with the best interest of our children and me in mind. She was intelligent, college educated, and successful in her career. However, when the children were born my wife placed her professional pursuits on hold to be at home with the kids. Adonica suffered from Leukemia and valiantly fought for her life for ten months before finally succumbing to this dreadful disease. The kids and I, and her entire community of faith stood with her in the battle. I highly revered my woman, and I still do. She was everything the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31 ever dreamed of being.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”
Proverbs 31.10 KJV

I found “a virtuous woman” and for that reason I (like Solomon) was (and still am) the richest and luckiest man on earth.

Unfortunately, I was never able to find a gift good enough for my wife. If I bought her a present, she normally returned it explaining, “We need the cash. Don’t spend that much on me.” She wouldn’t take flowers… they gave her allergies and cards are “a waste of money.” At Christmas, Adonica bought her own presents and gave them to me to wrap. She was not fond of surprises and would almost never accompany me on a date without the kids. She preferred to stay at home and eat a dinner she prepared for us. She would not sit still for a video unless it was “G” rated and entertained our children. Her idea of a perfect evening was dinner at home, table talk, board games, and to early bed. I could never seem to give her anything. The kids and I were all she ever really wanted. Adonica paid the bills, mowed the lawn, raked the leaves, got the groceries, prepared our food, and changed the kitty litter box. She not only cleaned the house, but selected the land, found the contractor, designed the floor plan, negotiated the deal, and bought the house. My dear wife truly was the original “virtuous woman.”  

It was always in my heart to give my dear wife tokens of my love and appreciation. I would have spent all our money on her, if she let me. I assume she secretly thought, “…you did well to have this in your heart.” That my heart wanted to honor her was good enough. She knew I loved her. Apparently in Adonica’s mind, it was always “the thought that counts,” and that was good enough. 

Sunday would have been her special day. Happy Mother's Day, honey! I shall always love you.

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"Femme et enfant au bord de la mer" (Woman and Child on the Seashore) oil on canvas 1921 by Pablo Picasso on display at The Art Institute of Chicago.