Saturday, June 20, 2009

The "Must Be At" Event

Obama's inaguration was a "Must Be At" event. People all over the country were cashing in favors, paying money and doing whatever they could, to make sure they were at that historical event.

In the Bible reading today, there was a "Must Be At" event for the Israelites.
Solomon had spent 7 years building this magnificent building called the Temple. God was pleased, and had promised to be their God, and lead the people.
11 -13 The word of God came to Solomon saying, "About this Temple you are building—what's important is that you live the way I've set out for you and do what I tell you, following my instructions carefully and obediently. Then I'll complete in you the promise I made to David your father. I'll personally take up my residence among the Israelites—I won't desert my people Israel."
The date was set. The invitations went out. Everyone who could be there WAS there.
1 Kings 8
1 -2 Bringing all this to a climax, King Solomon called in the leaders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the family patriarchs, to bring up the Chest of the Covenant of God from Zion, the City of David. And they came, all Israel before King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month, for the great autumn festival.
3 -5 With all Israel's leaders present, the priests took up the Chest of God and carried up the Chest and the Tent of Meeting and all the holy vessels that went with the Tent. King Solomon and the entire congregation of Israel were there at the Chest worshiping and sacrificing huge numbers of sheep and cattle—so many that no one could keep track."
It was lavish worship of God almighty. It was the presentation of a significant offering to God, simply recognizing His grandeur, His power, His transcendence.
10 -11 When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn't carry out their priestly duties because of the cloud—the glory of God filled The Temple of God!
God demonstrated His pleasure at being honored and obeyed, and also His awesome power and presence.
12 -13 Then Solomon spoke:
God has told us that he lives in the dark
where no one can see him;
I've built this splendid Temple, O God,
to mark your invisible presence forever."
Later he prayed:
22 -25 Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took a position before the Altar, spread his hands out before heaven, and prayed,
O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your personal word. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!
Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, "You'll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel's throne, on the condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have." 26 O God of Israel, let this all happen; confirm and establish it!
27 -32 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built. Even so, I'm bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I'm setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, "My Name will be honored there," and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place."
This was the crowning achievement of the life of Solomon the king.
What is MY mark going to be, on the world I am living in?

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Newly Minted Multi Billionaire

We are fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous. Perhaps because in all of us there is this fantasy - "What would it be like?"

Let's go backwards in time to King Solomon. He was raised in wealth. Pampered as one of the children of the king.

So here he is - a very young king. He is held in high regard, becuase his father was venerated. All the countries around had been dominated, and were regularly bringing in huge taxes to the treasury. God had given him great wisdom to rule well. I think he also had high intelligence, with a restless, curious mind, and a bent toward the philosophical. He was incredibly handsome - his mother a beauty queen, his father "bright-eyed, good-looking." (1 Samuel 16:12)

Later he would write an entire book about his experience with life.

Ecclesiastes 2
4 -8 Oh, I did great things: built houses, planted vineyards, designed gardens and parks and planted a variety of fruit trees in them, made pools of water to irrigate the groves of trees. I bought slaves, male and female, who had children, giving me even more slaves; then I acquired large herds and flocks, larger than any before me in Jerusalem. I piled up silver and gold, loot from kings and kingdoms. I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song, and—most exquisite of all pleasures— voluptuous maidens for my bed.
9 -10 Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day's work!

Today we look at his activities...

He built himself the most magnificent castle to live in.

1 Kings 71 -5 It took Solomon another thirteen years to finish building his own palace complex. He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. There were four rows of cedar columns supporting forty-five cedar beams, fifteen in each row, and then roofed with cedar. Windows in groupings of three were set high in the walls on either side. All the doors were rectangular and arranged symmetrically.
6 He built a colonnaded courtyard seventy-five feet long and forty-five wide. It had a roofed porch at the front with ample eaves.

In fact, there was an entire series of government buildings - all of them magnificent!

7 He built a court room, the Hall of Justice, where he would decide judicial matters, and paneled it with cedar.
8 He built his personal residence behind the Hall on a similar plan. Solomon also built another one just like it for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had married.
9 -12 No expense was spared—everything here, inside and out, from foundation to roof was constructed using high-quality stone, accurately cut and shaped and polished. The foundation stones were huge, ranging in size from twelve to fifteen feet, and of the very best quality. The finest stone was used above the foundation, shaped to size and trimmed with cedar. The courtyard was enclosed with a wall made of three layers of stone and topped with cedar timbers, just like the one in the porch of The Temple of God.

A pretty dazzling array of wealth, success and power!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Life's Work

The "Taj"
An enduring tribute to one man's life and love.
For 26 years I worked very diligently to build an estate. I was used to working 12 hour days, and being "busy". I had accomplished a lot. Thought I would retire very comfortably in 2008. However, these last three years all my estate got wiped out. In fact, I did not go to zero. No, I kept going until I was at a million dollars UNDER zero! Imagine! And my income went away at the same time!

So it has been a time for a lot of reflection. What is my life all about? Why do I do what I do? What do I want to accomplish with my life? In my case, I probably have 22 good years left. How do I want to spend those years?

If I didn't have obligations to fulfill, I think I would change direction right now. But that option is not available to me. I have to do well, the profession I have mastered - for at least three more years.

Your story may not be quite as dramatic as mine. But the questions are the same. What is your life's work?

Today's story is about Solomon's life work.
5 -6 "Now here is what I want to do: Build a temple in honor of God, my God, following the promise that God gave to David my father, namely, 'Your son whom I will provide to succeed you as king, he will build a house in my honor.' And here is how you can help: Give orders for cedars to be cut from the Lebanon forest; my loggers will work alongside yours and I'll pay your men whatever wage you set. We both know that there is no one like you Sidonians for cutting timber."
7 When Hiram got Solomon's message, he was delighted, exclaiming, "Blessed be God for giving David such a wise son to rule this flourishing people!"
This was a BIG project!!
13 -18 King Solomon raised a workforce of thirty thousand men from all over Israel. He sent them in shifts of ten thousand each month to the Lebanon forest; they would work a month in Lebanon and then be at home two months. Adoniram was in charge of the work crew. Solomon also had seventy thousand unskilled workers and another eighty thousand stonecutters up in the hills—plus thirty-three hundred foremen managing the project and supervising the work crews.
4 -7 The interior was gold-plated. He paneled the main hall with cypress and veneered it with fine gold engraved with palm tree and chain designs. He decorated the building with precious stones and gold from Parvaim. Everything was coated with gold veneer: rafters, doorframes, walls, and doors. Cherubim were engraved on the walls.
Solomon did many things in his life.
But his enduring legacy, his life's work - was the building of the Temple.
What's yours?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reputation, your intrinsic value and more...

Proverbs 22

Today there is commentary on:

1 A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.

Your intrinsic value;
2 The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
God made them both!

Risk management;
3 A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

Value of character and reverence;
4 The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.

Difficulties of the wicked;
5 The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick;
if you know what's good for you, stay clear of it.

Coaching for child rearing;
6 Point your kids in the right direction—
when they're old they won't be lost.

The problem with being in debt;
7 The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
so don't borrow and put yourself under their power.

Results of sin and anger;
8 Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
and bullying anger sputters into nothing.

Blessing of generosity;
9 Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.

Tips for leaders;
10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
you need a break from bickering and griping!

Benefit of good character;
11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.

Good information vs. deciet;
12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
but he'll have nothing to do with deception.

The excuses of the lazy;
13 The loafer says, "There's a lion on the loose!
If I go out I'll be eaten alive!"

The instability of youth culture;
15 Young people are prone to foolishness and fads;
the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.

and much, much, more...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Cool Thoughts...

It is hard to summarize 3 chapters of the Sayings of the Wise, or Proverbs, as we commonly know it. Here are some more great sayings...

Proverbs 19
If You Quit Listening

1 Better to be poor and honest than a rich person no one can trust.

2 Ignorant zeal is worthless;
haste makes waste.

3 People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
so why does God always get blamed?

4 Wealth attracts friends as honey draws flies,
but poor people are avoided like a plague.

5 Perjury won't go unpunished.
Would you let a liar go free?

6 Lots of people flock around a generous person;
everyone's a friend to the philanthropist.

7 When you're down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
yes, even your best friends wish you'd get lost.
If they see you coming, they look the other way
—out of sight, out of mind.

8 Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor;
keep a clear head—you'll find a good life.

9 The person who tells lies gets caught;
the person who spreads rumors is ruined.

10 Blockheads shouldn't live on easy street
any more than workers should give orders to their boss.

11 Smart people know how to hold their tongue;
their grandeur is to forgive and forget.

Each wise saying triggers an "aha..." a story or a memory of how that was so true.

I think of the book called "No One Left to Lie To" about Bill Clinton's time in office.

Or how MC Hammer had lots of friends when the money was abundant, and how so many left him when the hard times hit.

More cool thoughts...

Ahhh Wisdom... Timeless Wisdom

What beautiful words today!

Wisdom like this has guided people for thousands of years. First the Jews, then all Christians (in addition to Jews) and eventually - all of Western Civilization.


Timeless wisdom...

23 The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.
24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.
26 Curses on those who drive a hard bargain!
Blessings on all who play fair and square!
27 The one who seeks good finds delight;
the student of evil becomes evil.
28 A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.
29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air;
common sense tells you it's a stupid way to live.
30 A good life is a fruit-bearing tree;
a violent life destroys souls.

Drink it in.

Let it settle deep within.


Timeless wisdom...