Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Relationships are complicated...


Relationships are complicated...
Whether with a spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend, children,neighbors, co-workers, friends.
Relationships are complicated...

Here is an inside look at one man's relationship with God almighty...

8 "So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai,[g] the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night."


(God does quite a build up to talk to Elijah. Couldn't He just have had a friendly chat back home???)

"But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

(What do you mean, what am I doing here? You sent me here - with no food for 40 days and 40 nights. I am in the middle of the desert - all alone. THAT is what I am doing here...)

10 "Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

(Elijah understood the question was much bigger than location. So he pours out his heart. He is pouting. Discouraged. Frustrated. Confused...)

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

(Same question. Same answer)

14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

(God doesn't reprimand him. Doesn't contradict him. Doesn't condone his pouting, or throw it in his face. He lays out a path for Elijah.)

15 "Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. 17 Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! 18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”

(Elijah - I am not done with you. I am not done with the poeple of Israel. Your life has value. Has meaning. Get up and grow into the full purpose I have for you.I am not saying it will be easy. But I am with you...)

Relationships are complicated...

God cares for you...


Here is God's prophet...

Exhausted.

He is worn out by the death sentence he has been under for 3 years.
He is worn out emotionally.
He is worn out spiritually by the confrontation with the king, the people of Israel and the prophets of Baal and Ashterah.
He is worn out physically. It says he killed all 850 prophets. If he himself chopped off each of their heads, he was worn out doing that.
Then he ran for 20 miles. Then he fled for several days.

Now he is lonely and alone.
Exhausted
and Depressed...

Read on.

5 "Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai,[g] the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night."

God met him in his weakest hour.
In his greatest need.
In his worst moment.

God met him there...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Mighty Victory - followed by Depression

King Ahab is a study!
He spends three years comitted to killing Elijah the prophet.
Now he is obeying him like a eager puppy dog!

Elijah Prays for Rain

41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”

42 So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.

43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.”

The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.”

Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. 46 Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt[f] and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel."

This is amazing on every level. God told Elijah there would be rain before there was any. Elijah goes up to the mountain top to pray for rain. Why? If God told him it was coming, why did he pray for it to rain?

Then he runs for 20 miles after the busiest, most emotionally and spiritually taxing day of his life!!

1 Kings 19

1 "When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

After all Elijah has been through, he is NOW afraid and flees for his life! But he had been fleeing for his life for the last 3 years! Why is he now afraid??

At the end of the story we see Elijah in physical, spiritual and emotional exhaustion.

He is wrung out.
And depressed...

The Contest

There is a fight a brewing.
King Ahab and the prophets of Baal
Versus:
Elijah and God.

Who wins?

1 Kings 18
The Contest on Mount Carmel


1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!” 2 So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.

Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria. 3 So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. 4 Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “We must check every spring and valley in the land to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules.” 6 So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

7 As Obadiah was walking along, he suddenly saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and bowed low to the ground before him. “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” he asked.

8 “Yes, it is,” Elijah replied. “Now go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

9 “Oh, sir,” Obadiah protested, “what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab? 10 For I swear by the Lord your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time he was told, ‘Elijah isn’t here,’ King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim. 11 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ 12 But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the Lord all my life. 13 Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me.”

15 But Elijah said, “I swear by the Lord Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab this very day.”

16 So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”

18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. 19 Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.[a]”

20 So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 23 Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. 24 Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed.

25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood.”

26 So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.

27 About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself.[b] Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”

28 So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. 29 They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response.

30 Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel,[c] 32 and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons.[d] 33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.

Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”

34 After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,[e] prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”

38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded, “Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there."

This is one of the most dramatic stories of the entire Bible!
Lots of humor.
Lots of irony.

One of my favorites is when Elijah says, "Call louder! Maybe your god is asleep! Maybe... Maybe... he went to relieve himself!!"

It is also a powerful reminder of the purposes and plans of God when we are down... A severe famine. Elijah is hounded for his life. A hunted man. But his faith is unwavering. He wants the contrast between the power of the true God, and the powerlessness of the phony gods - to be remarkable. Strong. Amazing.

"Dig a trench"
"Fill it full of water"
"Lord - show these people your power..."

Monday, June 28, 2010

It can be dangerous to tell the truth!


After a series of mostly bad kings, Elijah bursts on the scene.
He delivers God's word to a truly bad king - Ahab.
Then he has to hide!

1 Kings 17
Elijah Fed by Ravens


1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”

2 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 3 “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. 4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”

5 So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land."

In this time of intense famine and the accompanying financial distress, comes this tender and amazing story of God's provision...

The Widow at Zarephath


8 "Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

17 Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. 18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. 20 Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”

21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! 23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”

24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

This happened at the time of a bad king.
Bad economy.
Bad times.
But God was still faithful, even in the little things!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Great Divide



We are following a series of bad fathers.
Solomon was no better.
The son of wisest man on earth showed himself to be foolish.
Foolish indeed:

1 Kings 12
The Northern Tribes Revolt

Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt,[a] for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. 3 The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. 4 “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

5 Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.

6 Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

7 The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. 9 “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.

16 When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded,

“Down with the dynasty of David!
We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Back to your homes, O Israel!
Look out for your own house, O David!”

So the people of Israel returned home. 17 But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.

18 King Rehoboam sent Adoniram,[b] who was in charge of the labor force, to restore order, but the people of Israel stoned him to death. When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. 19 And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.

20 When the people of Israel learned of Jeroboam’s return from Egypt, they called an assembly and made him king over all Israel. So only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David."

Rehoboam gets fantastic advice from the old men. He rejects it out of hand.
He goes to the punks he grew up with. The ones who always had everything handed to them on a silver platter.

Their advice was terrible.
He followed it.
He lost most of the kingdom in a matter of days...

Be careful whom you listen to!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Power of words

We all know the childhood chant:

Sticks and stones will hurt my bones
But words will never hurt me...

Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is what Solomon said:

18 "Telling lies about others
is as harmful as hitting them with an ax,
wounding them with a sword,
or shooting them with a sharp arrow."

Three visual images to hammer home the message. Words can wound and hurt. Be careful what you say.

What you DO say, and what you DON't say are sometimes equally important.
Here is Ogden Nash on the subject:

“To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it; Whenever you're right, shut up”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

20 towns for 20 years


Solomon inherited a kingdom that was "top dog" in the area. Taxes were flowing in. No one dared go to war with Israel. It was a time of peace and prosperity.

He set about to build some amazing structures.

Here is an interesting story about one of his main suppliers of raw materials and skilled labor - Hiram.

Solomon’s Agreement with Hiram

10 It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace. At the end of that time, 11 he gave twenty towns in the land of Galilee to King Hiram of Tyre. (Hiram had previously provided all the cedar and cypress timber and gold that Solomon had requested.) 12 But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the towns Solomon had given him, he was not at all pleased with them. 13 “What kind of towns are these, my brother?” he asked. So Hiram called that area Cabul (which means “worthless”), as it is still known today. 14 Nevertheless, Hiram paid[a] Solomon 9,000 pounds[b] of gold.

Your "gift" to me?

In a word - WORTHLESS !!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

If - Then

A lot of computer programming follows the sequence "If-Then"
God deals with Solomon (and us) the same way.
If you do this and this and this - then this will follow.
On the other hand, if you do that and that and that - then that will follow...


1 Kings 9
The Lord’s Response to Solomon


1 So Solomon finished building the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do. 2 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had done before at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him,

“I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.
4 “As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 5 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
6 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 7 then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 8 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads in amazement. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
9 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them.’”

Of course, we know the end of the story for Solomon.

What will we choose to be the end of the story for us???

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Living under a just, fair government


God's ideals for government are sprinkled throughout Proverbs. Here are a few snippets from todays reading...

Proverbs 16

10 The king speaks with divine wisdom;
he must never judge unfairly.

11 The Lord demands accurate scales and balances;
he sets the standards for fairness.

12 A king detests wrongdoing,
for his rule is built on justice.

13 The king is pleased with words from righteous lips;
he loves those who speak honestly.

14 The anger of the king is a deadly threat;
the wise will try to appease it.

15 When the king smiles, there is life;
his favor refreshes like a spring rain.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
and good judgment than silver!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wise Words and Money Sense

Snippets of wisdom from Proverbs 13-15

4 Lazy people want much but get little,
but those who work hard will prosper.

7 Some who are poor pretend to be rich;
others who are rich pretend to be poor.

8 The rich can pay a ransom for their lives,
but the poor won’t even get threatened.

11 Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;
wealth from hard work grows over time.

18 If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace;
if you accept correction, you will be honored.

19 It is pleasant to see dreams come true,
but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.

21 Trouble chases sinners,
while blessings reward the righteous.

22 Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren,
but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.

23 A poor person’s farm may produce much food,
but injustice sweeps it all away.

25 The godly eat to their hearts’ content,
but the belly of the wicked goes hungry

4 Without oxen a stable stays clean,
but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the godly will flourish.

20 The poor are despised even by their neighbors,
while the rich have many “friends.”

21 It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor;
blessed are those who help the poor.

23 Work brings profit,
but mere talk leads to poverty!

24 Wealth is a crown for the wise;
the effort of fools yields only foolishness.

31 Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but helping the poor honors him.

32 The wicked are crushed by disaster,
but the godly have a refuge when they die.

6 There is treasure in the house of the godly,
but the earnings of the wicked bring trouble.

16 Better to have little, with fear for the Lord,
than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.

17 A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
is better than steak with someone you hate.

19 A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers,
but the path of the upright is an open highway.

22 Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
many advisers bring success.

27 Greed brings grief to the whole family,
but those who hate bribes will live.

32 If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

33 Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;
humility precedes honor.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Wise and the Wicked



A lot of contrast between the wise and the foolish,
The godly and the wicked...

The Proverbs of Solomon


1 The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise child[a] brings joy to a father;
a foolish child brings grief to a mother.

2 Tainted wealth has no lasting value,
but right living can save your life.

3 The Lord will not let the godly go hungry,
but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.

4 Lazy people are soon poor;
hard workers get rich.

5 A wise youth harvests in the summer,
but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.

6 The godly are showered with blessings;
the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.

7 We have happy memories of the godly,
but the name of a wicked person rots away.

8 The wise are glad to be instructed,
but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

9 People with integrity walk safely,
but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

10 People who wink at wrong cause trouble,
but a bold reproof promotes peace.[b]

11 The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;
the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.

12 Hatred stirs up quarrels,
but love makes up for all offenses.

13 Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding,
but those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod.

14 Wise people treasure knowledge,
but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortress;
the poverty of the poor is their destruction.

16 The earnings of the godly enhance their lives,
but evil people squander their money on sin.

17 People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life,
but those who ignore correction will go astray.

18 Hiding hatred makes you a liar;
slandering others makes you a fool.

19 Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

20 The words of the godly are like sterling silver;
the heart of a fool is worthless.

21 The words of the godly encourage many,
but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

22 The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich,
and he adds no sorrow with it.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of Wisdom



Chapter 9 starts with wisdom calling a sumptous banquet. Gathering all who would come.

Then advice as to the response received from correcting someone.


7 Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return.
Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.
8 So don’t bother correcting mockers;
they will only hate you.
But correct the wise,
and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise,
and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
and they will learn even more.


Then this jewel of insight...

10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

11 Wisdom will multiply your days
and add years to your life.
12 If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit.
If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.


Words to live by...

Wisdom!



Here are four friends you want to hold close...

“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.
I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.

Proverbs 8
Wisdom Calls for a Hearing

1 Listen as Wisdom calls out!
Hear as understanding raises her voice!
2 On the hilltop along the road,
she takes her stand at the crossroads.
3 By the gates at the entrance to the town,
on the road leading in, she cries aloud,
4 “I call to you, to all of you!
I raise my voice to all people.
5 You simple people, use good judgment.
You foolish people, show some understanding.
6 Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you.
Everything I say is right,
7 for I speak the truth
and detest every kind of deception.
8 My advice is wholesome.
There is nothing devious or crooked in it.
9 My words are plain to anyone with understanding,
clear to those with knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction rather than silver,
and knowledge rather than pure gold.
11 For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies.
Nothing you desire can compare with it.

12 “I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.
I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.
13 All who fear the Lord will hate evil.
Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance,
corruption and perverse speech.
14 Common sense and success belong to me.
Insight and strength are mine.
15 Because of me, kings reign,
and rulers make just decrees.
16 Rulers lead with my help,
and nobles make righteous judgments.

17 “I love all who love me.
Those who search will surely find me.
18 I have riches and honor,
as well as enduring wealth and justice.
19 My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold,
my wages better than sterling silver!
20 I walk in righteousness,
in paths of justice.
21 Those who love me inherit wealth.
I will fill their treasuries.

Take a lesson from the ants



6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
7 Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
8 they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

Talkin 'bout ants...
When we used to watch my granddaughter, she and I would sit on our front porch and follow the path of the ants wandering around.

Now we get to watch our grandson. He and I also sit on the front porch (occassionally). He doesn't want to just WATCH the ants. He wants to ...
Just watch the video...


Teach people wisdom and discipline



How do you pick your way through a dangerous and treacherous life?
Seek wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1
The Purpose of Proverbs


1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
knowledge and discernment to the young.

5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
Let those with understanding receive guidance
6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

A Father’s Exhortation: Acquire Wisdom

8 My child,[a] listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck.

10 My child, if sinners entice you,
turn your back on them!
11 They may say, “Come and join us.
Let’s hide and kill someone!
Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave[b];
let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
13 Think of the great things we’ll get!
We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
14 Come, throw in your lot with us;
we’ll all share the loot.”

15 My child, don’t go along with them!
Stay far away from their paths.
16 They rush to commit evil deeds.
They hurry to commit murder.
17 If a bird sees a trap being set,
it knows to stay away.
18 But these people set an ambush for themselves;
they are trying to get themselves killed.
19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
it robs them of life.

Sex



Sex and sexuality.
Grace beauty and romance.
Hearts beat and poetry flows.
Ahhh the beauty of love...

Song of Solomon 4
Young Man

1 You are beautiful, my darling,
beautiful beyond words.
Your eyes are like doves
behind your veil.
Your hair falls in waves,
like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are as white as sheep,
recently shorn and freshly washed.
Your smile is flawless,
each tooth matched with its twin.[i]
3 Your lips are like scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is inviting.
Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates
behind your veil.
4 Your neck is as beautiful as the tower of David,
jeweled with the shields of a thousand heroes.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies.
6 Before the dawn breezes blow
and the night shadows flee,
I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of frankincense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
beautiful in every way.

8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Come down[j] from Mount Amana,
from the peaks of Senir and Hermon,
where the lions have their dens
and leopards live among the hills.

9 You have captured my heart,
my treasure,[k] my bride.
You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes,
with a single jewel of your necklace.
10 Your love delights me,
my treasure, my bride.
Your love is better than wine,
your perfume more fragrant than spices.
11 Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride.
Honey and milk are under your tongue.
Your clothes are scented
like the cedars of Lebanon.

12 You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride,
a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.
13 Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates
with rare spices—
henna with nard,
14 nard and saffron,
fragrant calamus and cinnamon,
with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes,
and every other lovely spice.
15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of fresh water
streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains.

Young Woman

16 Awake, north wind!
Rise up, south wind!
Blow on my garden
and spread its fragrance all around.
Come into your garden, my love;
taste its finest fruits.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Psalm 119.
The longest chapter in the Bible.
Full of rich phrases.
Eternal wisdom in a nutshell!

97 Oh, how I love your instructions!
I think about them all day long.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are my constant guide.
99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers,
for I am always thinking of your laws.
100 I am even wiser than my elders,
for I have kept your commandments.
101 I have refused to walk on any evil path,
so that I may remain obedient to your word.
102 I haven’t turned away from your regulations,
for you have taught me well.
103 How sweet your words taste to me;
they are sweeter than honey.
104 Your commandments give me understanding;
no wonder I hate every false way of life.


Lots of songs have sprung up from different parts of this Psalm. Here is one that WE have sung a lot over the years...




105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.
106 I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:
I will obey your righteous regulations.
107 I have suffered much, O Lord;
restore my life again as you promised.
108 Lord, accept my offering of praise,
and teach me your regulations.
109 My life constantly hangs in the balance,
but I will not stop obeying your instructions.
110 The wicked have set their traps for me,
but I will not turn from your commandments.
111 Your laws are my treasure;
they are my heart’s delight.
112 I am determined to keep your decrees
to the very end.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New King vulnerable - God pleased



1 Kings 3
Solomon Asks for Wisdom


"Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city. 2 At that time the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship, for a temple honoring the name of the Lord had not yet been built.

3 Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. 4 The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. 5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

6 Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

15 Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where he sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he invited all his officials to a great banquet.

Kingdom changes - blood flows

Politics is dirty business.
Don't think it was any better in Bible times.
The first kingdom transition, from Saul to David, the entire army was out to kill David.
When Absolom tried to take the kingdom from his father, 20,000 soldiers died!
The second kingdom transition, from David to Solomon, also had lots of bloodshed...

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed onto the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[g] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip."

One day the Prince of Peace will rule, and the bloodshed will stop...


Psalm 72
A psalm of Solomon.


1 Give your love of justice to the king, O God,
and righteousness to the king’s son.
2 Help him judge your people in the right way;
let the poor always be treated fairly.
3 May the mountains yield prosperity for all,
and may the hills be fruitful.
4 Help him to defend the poor,
to rescue the children of the needy,
and to crush their oppressors.
5 May they fear you as long as the sun shines,
as long as the moon remains in the sky.
Yes, forever!

6 May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass,
like the showers that water the earth.
7 May all the godly flourish during his reign.
May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more.
8 May he reign from sea to sea,
and from the Euphrates River[a] to the ends of the earth.
9 Desert nomads will bow before him;
his enemies will fall before him in the dust.
10 The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands
will bring him tribute.
The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba
will bring him gifts.
11 All kings will bow before him,
and all nations will serve him.

12 He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.

15 Long live the king!
May the gold of Sheba be given to him.
May the people always pray for him
and bless him all day long.
16 May there be abundant grain throughout the land,
flourishing even on the hilltops.
May the fruit trees flourish like the trees of Lebanon,
and may the people thrive like grass in a field.
17 May the king’s name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun shines.
May all nations be blessed through him
and bring him praise.

18 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does such wonderful things.
19 Praise his glorious name forever!
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen!

20 (This ends the prayers of David son of Jesse.)


Psalm 145
[b]A psalm of praise of David.


1 I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.
2 I will praise you every day;
yes, I will praise you forever.
3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness.

4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
5 I will meditate[c] on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.
6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

8 The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 The Lord is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will praise you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
they will give examples of your power.
12 They will tell about your mighty deeds
and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.

The Lord always keeps his promises;
he is gracious in all he does.[d]
14 The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
but he destroys the wicked.

21 I will praise the Lord,
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
forever and ever.

It appears that Psalm 145 has inspired a lot of artist ferment. I chose this upbeat and happy video, because I think it embodies the message of this Psalm very well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

God in Battle

David's primary job was to do battle.
That is how he became king.
That is how he gave peace and prosperity to his nation.
That is how he (and the country) became very wealthy. First defeat your enemies in battle, then tax them to the max. Money flows in to the coffers. Keeps them poor and you strong.

Like every Christian before me, and certainly every Christian who is ever called to be a soldier, I wrestle with war - and its demands of killing as many people as possible - and the teachings of the Bible.

David had no such ambivalence.

God helped him become a great warrior.
God helped him in battle.
God was helper in aggression.
God was defender in military defense.

Interesting!!

Psalm 144
A psalm of David.


1 Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
He trains my hands for war
and gives my fingers skill for battle.
2 He is my loving ally and my fortress,
my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
He makes the nations[a] submit to me.

3 O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?
4 For they are like a breath of air;
their days are like a passing shadow.

5 Open the heavens, Lord, and come down.
Touch the mountains so they billow smoke.
6 Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies!
Shoot your arrows and confuse them!
7 Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
rescue me from deep waters,
from the power of my enemies.
8 Their mouths are full of lies;
they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.

9 I will sing a new song to you, O God!
I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp.
10 For you grant victory to kings!
You rescued your servant David from the fatal sword.
11 Save me!
Rescue me from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.

12 May our sons flourish in their youth
like well-nurtured plants.
May our daughters be like graceful pillars,
carved to beautify a palace.
13 May our barns be filled
with crops of every kind.
May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands,
even tens of thousands,
14 and may our oxen be loaded down with produce.
May there be no enemy breaking through our walls,
no going into captivity,
no cries of alarm in our town squares.
15 Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My depression deepens...



"my depression deepens"

Did you ever think you would read that in the Bible?
David, the warrior/king, was also very much the artist.
He could feel things deeply.
He could express himself articulately.
He found parchment and quill to scratch his prayers on, record his poems, keep track of his songs.

In today's song he is discouraged. Depressed.
"I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear."

It doesn't get more real than that!!

Psalm 143
A psalm of David.


1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.
2 Don’t put your servant on trial,
for no one is innocent before you.
3 My enemy has chased me.
He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
4 I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear.
5 I remember the days of old.
I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done.
6 I lift my hands to you in prayer.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.Interlude

7 Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
or I will die.
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.
11 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies
and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.