I Want God’s Box with My Name On It
Year Number 63
I Samuel 8:7 But the Lord told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king.”
I started my week off in my study of I Samuel 8, not knowing the long-reaching decisions that would occur in our world later in it. Succession, a break, the freedom to make our own decisions, I’m not sure exactly how to label Britain’s decision to leave the EU at this point. Clearly, this is what the people wanted, and I’m not saying what should have been done one way or or another, but if I could have transported this scenario from I Samuel fast-forward 3,000 years, change some names and some faces, it’s almost like we’re sitting in the very same spot.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways: now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
I’ll admit it, this political season, recent world events and the fear that is threatening to grip our hearts in light of these tragedies has me scratching my heading and throwing my hands up, but when I started my study off, we began with this passage of scripture in Romans 13:1-7
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you wan to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you own them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
So, maybe this post isn’t really about what happened on Thursday, maybe, it was my excuse to get us to examine what’s in our hearts: is It lust, greed or the desire for control, or it simply the desire to see that things are just and fair? God is a God of justice, blessed are all who wait for him (Isaiah 30:18b). Let us, as believers, never forget who our King truly is. Are we walking toward God or away from him? How are our political decisions reflecting this?
This is what God is asking from us. Again, this is not my partisan, highly opinionated soap box, hiked-up-waistline-‘cause-I’m-ready-for-a-fight coming out, I have just printed what the Word of the God says and here I stand. I know, you’re chaffing, but what if the pilgrims, what if abolitionists, what if separatists…? I know. Seriously, I know. But we are talking about governing authorities that build our schools, our roads, hire police officers that come to your door at 1:00 a.m. looking to arrest someone by the name of “Smith”*(yeah, that happened this morning) doing what they can to preserve the peace and well-being of the people under their reign.
Right now, more than any.other.time. we need to be on our knees in prayer, thanking God for godly authority that he has place over our lives, whether those are our pastors, our Bible teachers, etc., praying that God will continue to lead and guide them in integrity as they are messengers for what a Holy God wants us to hear.
Filter EVERYTHING through scripture, asking God for his wisdom as we make our decisions, not based on what everyone else has/is doing.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
My parents and I were trying to parse out some scripture this morning over the phone re: salt and light and for some reason my thoughts floated toward Jesus’s faith in God. I think it started when my dad mentioned Jesus’ holy attributes as well as his human ones. Jesus was the Word, but he still had to memorize it. Jesus, by nature, was all-powerful, yet had to subjugate himself to human authority: his parents, instructors, the government. He was the very source of all life and health, yet all around him people were sick and dying and calling on his ability to heal. He even got tired, became angry, was hungry and thirsty, all very, very human. But what stood out to me this morning was that faith factor. How else could he calm the waves with a word, call a dead girl, “just sleeping,” or deliver a man from a legion of demons? This took bravery. It took authority, and it took faith. How can we trigger this faith? By doing exactly what Jesus did:
1) Spending time alone with his father
2) By listening to what He says
3) By reading what He writes
4) By observing the things that bring Him joy
How do we practically do each one of these things? I believe items 1-3 are largely covered by reading scripture. That leaves #4: What brings God joy? We do. We humans do. I know it’s unbelievable when you factor in how terrible we can be at times. But He does. Case in point, He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He loved spending time with Moses, speaking with Him face to face, watching his face shine. I know he loved this (and us!) so much that he sent his own son so the He could speak with us face to face, so he could touch us tenderly on the shoulder as he offered us living water, he could break open pieces of bread and fish and divide them among a couple of thousand to make our tummies full. He could call our dead bodies out of a grave and he could offer us the very best wine at our own wedding. See, it wasn’t the super spiritual mountain-moments in Eden or at Sinai only, it was the mundane, the food and water, the touching and healing and the driving out of bad things to make room for the good.
One of my very favorite pictures is one of Jesus that I don’t see around much anymore, is a bearded man in a robe with a beautiful little lamb draped around his neck. Do you think that lamb could hear his heartbeat and vice versa? Most likely.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will carry the lambs in his arms and gently lead the ewes with young. (Isaiah 40:11)
Yes, Jesus is holy and just, and like him we are called to be holy. But do we have to be holy for God to start loving us? Absolutely not, in fact, I had this discussion with a little girl in our Sunday school class recently. She asked, “God love us when we do good things, right?”
Me: “Yeah, he certainly likes it when we do good things, but that’s not why he loves us. Think of your mommy and daddy. They love you without conditions. Even when you do bad things, they never stop loving you. Yes, they are happy when you help with the trash at home or clean up after your pet, or when you’re nice to your brother or sister, but no matter what, they always love you.
Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
It was now the first year of the reign of King Darius, the son of Shasuerus. (Darius was a Mede but became king of the Chaldeans.) In that first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from the book of Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. So I earnestly pleaded with the Lord God [to end our captivity and send us back to our own land].
As I prayed, I fasted, and wore rough sackcloth, and sprinkled myself with ashes, and confessed my sins and those of my people.
“O Lord,” I prayed, “you are a great and awesome God; you always fulfill your promises of mercy to those who love you and keep your laws. But we have sinned so much; we have rebelled against you and scorned your commands. We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, whom you sent again and again down through the years, with your messages to our kings and princes and to all the people.
O Lord, you are righteous; but as for us, we are always shamefaced with sin, just as you see us now; yes, all of us–the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, and all Israel, scattered near and far wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. O Lord, we and our kings and princes and fathers are weighted down with shame because of all our sins.
But the Lord our God is merciful, and pardons even those who have rebelled against him.
O Lord our God, we have disobeyed you; we have flouted all the laws you gave us through your servants, the prophets. All Israel has disobeyed; we have turned away from you and haven’t listened to your voice. And so the awesome curse of God has crushed us–the curse written in the law of Moses your servant. And you have done exactly as you warned us you would do, for never in all history has there been a disaster like what happened at Jerusalem to us and our rulers. Every curse against us written in the law of Moses has come true; all the evils he predicted–all have come. But even so we still refuse to satisfy the Lord our God by turning from our sins and doing right.
And so the Lord deliberately crushed us with the calamity he prepared; he is fair in everything he does, but we would not obey. O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by removing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. LORD, DO IT AGAIN! Though we have sinned so much and are full of wickedness, yet because of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn away your furious anger from Jerusalem, your own city, your holy mountain. For the heathen mock at you because your city lies in ruins for our sins.
O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead! Let your face shine again with peace and joy upon your desolate sanctuary–for your own glory, Lord.
O my God, bend down your ear and listen to my plea. Open your eyes and see our wretchedness, how your city lies in ruins–for everyone knows that it is yours. We don’t ask because we merit help, but because you are so merciful despite our grievous sins.
O Lord, hear, O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen to me and act! Don’t delay–for your own sake, O my God, because your people and your city bear your name.”
God’s a lot like us as parents, He just wants cheerful obedience, He was compliance because He wants to see our joy,
We’re deep into Hosea this week in my Bible study group and it’s been beating me up, from the inside out.
Being a friend, a spouse, a family member means continually reaching out, expecting nothing in return. I love my daughter because she is my daughter, but I have to say, it’s easier to love her when she is obedient, pleasant, compliant…it’s those times that she is disobedient, sassy, selfish or just plain lazy that I have have a hard time
I celebrated a birthday a few days ago and it was pretty low-key, cupcakes at a good friend’s house and a hotel stay in Charlotte on our way back from up North. The lady at the hotel asked if I had any big plans for my birthday, I turned to little A and said, “I think hot chocolate is on the agenda.” And indeed it was, as well as a little jumping on the bed-c’mon it’s my birthday!
Almost every time I tell people my birthdate, they get this kind of sad, empathetic look in their eyes and question, “Is it hard to have your birthday that close to Christmas?”
No way, man. It’s awesome as a matter of fact. Here’s the way I’ve started to look at it the last two years and it makes it beautiful in fact: with it being some close to Christmas and the New Year, I look at each birthday as a brand-new start, a way to have totally new start, and it’s makes me that much more excited to celebrate it. Getting older has also made me cement some things I’ve suspected about myself:
1) I hate shopping. If I’m in a store other than the grocery store for more than twenty minutes, there’s a good chance I’ll be hiving up (pretty sure this term is in a medical dictionary somewhere) and experiencing shortness of breath. You will not find me shopping on my birthday on my own volition. Give me the quiet loneliness of a Dollar General isle, the laid-back atmosphere of a Goodwill or the library checkout line–I’m telling you, I’m a cheap date.
2) I prefer being outside to most anything. There are no checkout lines in the great outdoors.