Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Could You Be?

1 Kings 4:29--And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

You are probably familiar with Solomon--famous king of Israel, son and successor of David, builder of the temple, penman of proverbs, the wisest man in all the earth--but have you ever considered him for the human he was? That's right. Solomon was a human just like the rest of us, sinful, prone to make mistakes. In fact, for the latter part of his life, he was steeped in sin. He used no indiscretion with women, turned to idol worship, amassed wealth and power for himself, relied on human means instead of God's, and was the reason Israel divided after his death. Yet, before all that, God blessed him.

In the above verse, a simile shows us how. God gave Solomon amazing wisdom and understanding, the attribute he is probably most famous for. The simile in the verse above compares his knowledge to "the sand that is on the sea shore." That is phenomenally huge! If you've ever picked up just a handful of sand, you know you can't even count the grains in that tiny portion. And there are beaches full of sand around the world. But the scripture says Solomon's wisdom was that vast. So how does this affect you?

Well, like I said earlier, Solomon was human, just like you. He was born, he lived, and he died. You are no different from Solomon. You too can have amazing blessings from God.

"Wait a minute!" you say. "Hold on. I'm not as good as Solomon. He was David's son, chosen by God to rule over Israel. He was special."

Yes, Solomon was special, but only because he allowed God to make Him that way. And you are special too. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He loves you and wants to bless you and use you just as much as He did Solomon. You just have to let Him; you have to surrender to Him. It could possibly be painful, but it will be the best thing you ever did, and it will be more than worth it.

So how do you go about obtaining these blessings from God? Let's look at Solomon's example:

1. Love. 1 Kings 3:3--And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. The first step is to love God. A desire to please God will naturally flow from loving Him, and your desires must be in line with His will in order for Him to bless you. If you ever want to succeed at anything, it has to be in accordance with God's will. If you don't have a relationship with God, it's easy to start one. He is waiting on you. All you have to do is humble yourself,  admit your sin, and ask God to forgive you. Just accept through faith the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary for you. That will be the biggest blessing of your life. Now, if you are already saved, maybe you aren't as in love with Jesus as you should be. He needs to be the focus of our lives. Our will needs to be perfectly lined up with His. We need to be wholly submitted to His plan for our lives. After all, He did die for us.

2. Ask. 1 Kings 3:5, 9--In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee....Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy great people? Then, we simply have to ask. That's it. Once we desire to please God with our lives, what we ask of Him should be in His will, and He will give it to us. It's as easy as Jesus said: "Ask, and it shall be given you" (Matthew 7:7). For some of us, we may already know what we want to ask for. Solomon knew he needed wisdom. For others, it may be unclear yet. But be patient and pray for God to bless you in the way He best sees fit, and He will reveal His will to you. Just never stop living for Him.

3. Use. 1 Kings 4:32, 33--And he spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. This is sort of a summary of all the ways Solomon used his wisdom, but the point is that he used what God gave him. All of us have talents or gifts that God has given us, and He wants us to use them. You may know what yours is, or you may not, but you do have one, or most likely several. If you don't know, as said above, pray for God to reveal it to you, and He will. If you do, ask God to bless it and allow it to grow so you can use it for His glory. And that's the most important part: Use it, and use it for God. Don't let what God has given you go to waste, and don't use it the wrong way.

4. Continue. 1 Kings 11:9, 10--And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. Here is where Solomon failed. With all the wisdom he had, he chose to use it the wrong way, which isn't very wise at all. Don't be like this. Use your blessings for God, and never stop. Don't turn your heart from God as Solomon did. If you use what God gives you for Him, it will lead to more blessings, so much you'll be overwhelmed. But don't do it for the blessings; don't do it for personal gain. Do it out of love for God, the first step. Always do it to please Him because you love Him.

So, as we've seen, Solomon was a great man. The simile in 1 Kings 4:29 does a wonderful job of describing the multitude of blessings God gave him. And God wants to give blessings like that to you too. He has them ready, and He is waiting to give them to you. God has a plan for your life; He has a future for you. You just have to surrender to Him and ask Him to lead you into it. You have more potential than you can ever imagine. With God, you can do amazing things you never thought possible. For Solomon, it was becoming the wisest man on earth. For you, only God knows. What could you be?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Question for You

Job 38:1-4--Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man: for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare if thou hast understanding.

Rhetorical questions can be powerful, when used right. They can pose a question to which there is no exact or complete answer, or they can indirectly bring up a point that is so obvious it doesn't need to be stated. Either way, the rhetorical question remains unanswered.

In the book of Job, chapters thirty-eight through forty are almost entirely composed of a list of rhetorical questions, with a few in the beginning of forty-one, too. I have just put the first few of God's rhetorical questions here, but there are many more he asks Job. All of these are used to remind Job that he has no right to question or judge God. These questions serve to emphasize God's power, wisdom, and authority over everything.

We, as Job, have no right to question God's sovereignty either. God is God, the rightful Ruler of everything in existence, natural or supernatural. Nothing is beyond God's control; nothing is hidden from God; nothing is greater than God. Whenever we have hard times in our life or we see something that seems unjust, our fleshly minds tend to ask, "Why, God? Why would You do something like that? How could You allow that?" But we have no right to ask that. God is God, the almighty King of kings, the ultimate Authority, and He can do whatever He wants. He intrinsically has the right to reign simply because of who He is. This should instill both great fear and hope within us.

In light of God's magnificence, we are nothing. He is so much greater than anyone can ever come close to imagining. This should cause every one of us to humble ourselves before Him and admit how small and sinful we are. We should respect and revere God, and this is what He desires. Whenever tough times come along, we shouldn't question God and become bitter. We should accept what He has put in our lives and ask for His help through it all, ask for His grace to get through it, ask what it is God wants us to learn from this experience, and ask God to draw us closer to Him through it. In fact, the Bible says we should always rejoice (Philippians 4:4) and that we should give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Fail a test? Rejoice and give thanks. Lose your job? Rejoice and give thanks. No matter what happens, rejoice in the Lord, not in your circumstances, and give thanks, because God is always good. And that's where the hope comes in.

God is perfect. God is righteous. God is holy. If you have Him as your Savior, He is always with you. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). That means whatever we go through, we have the Creator and Ruler of the universe at our side! How wonderful is that? And Romans 8:28 gives us the glorious promise that, if we love God, He is working everything to our good. No matter what is going on in your life, if you're His child, God is working it to your benefit. He loves you unconditionally, more than you can understand, and He will never do anything wrong to anyone. God is perfectly just. Everything He does is right and moral, no matter how we view it. This should comfort us. Who better to have running every event that ever has or ever will happen in the universe? Who better to have ruling the entirety of existence than One who is perfect, just, righteous, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, eternal, who never makes a mistake and is never off timing? That sounds pretty good to me.

There are many things to be gleaned from God's rhetorical questions, but this is what the Lord directed me to write. I encourage you to make time and read through these chapters yourself, thinking on how great and wonderful our God is. Try to learn everything you can about Him. And that's another great thing. There are volumes to learn about God, but no matter how long we live and how much we devote ourselves to the task, we will never learn everything about Him. When we get to Heaven, there will still be much, much more to learn about and experience from our wonderful Lord and Savior.

But for now, take comfort in the fact that the God who controls every atom of existence (and whatever makes up the supernatural side of existence) is a God who loves you. Respect His authority; don't question His actions or allowances. We should humble ourselves as Job did after being asked these questions. "I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42:2, 3).

Thank You, Lord, for controlling the universe and my life!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Song in the Dark

Song in the Dark

It is dark yet.
The birds sing.
The sun is not yet risen;
in the shadow of itself
the world lies shrouded.
No light,
no sun, no stars--
but song.

From hidden harps
drift silvery notes,
the chimes of angels
flown to earth
with velvet wings
and silken voices,
soft and soothing to the heart.
Each fluted song lives
with lambent ambience,
power born of the simple act,
color to the darkened world,
visible to those with
ears to hear.

It is dark, yet
the birds sing.
They refuse to rest,
to still their song,
to check their joy.
They let nothing
hinder their harmony,
not even the night,
for through the darkness
they see clear.
Even in blackest night
the bird can sing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Rough-Hewn Field

The Rough-Hewn Field

He scraped across the rough-hewn field.
Face-to-face the battle reeled
against his flesh and struck him hard
with every spike and sharpened shard.
A hand not his had placed him here
to fight the field with fiery fear.
The same hand made what he tried to cross,
the cause of such great pain and loss.
Each hook dug in to claim his skin,
to claim his head, to claim the win.
But on and on he persevered,
the destined end so far, so near.
He did not run. He did not swerve.
He knew they toward his purpose served.
He knew the hand of ease frames few,
and so the maker did know too.

At last his head with fire did leap.
The match was struck—fulfilled, complete.