May 22; Spectacular

I Kings 5:13-18, 6:1-38, 7:1-12, 9:15-16, 20-23; 2 Chronicles 2:2, 17-18, 3:1-17, 8:7-10; Psalm 127

Whenever I read the description of Solomon’s Temple I am amazed at what must have been a beautiful structure. All the gold details, the intricate carvings. I can imagine the look of the chiseled stonework, and the scent of freshly cut cedar. It took seven years of hard work, but the result must have been spectacular.

Paul, in I Corinthians 3, reminds us that we are God’s temple. You and I, as believers in Jesus are together building His Church. The foundation is Jesus Christ. Each of us are building on that precious foundation using a variety of materials: gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. (vs 12)

I’m pretty sure none of the walls in Solomon’s Temple consisted of stacked hay bales. It probably never crossed Solomon’s mind to use anything less than the best building materials for that Temple. Why would anyone choose inferior building materials for God’s Church today?

I think that if I’m trying to build God’s Church with good works: church attendance, honesty, charity, mowing my neighbor’s lawn, I’m using inferior building materials. Good works aren’t good enough. It would be like trying to build a wall using filthy rags. Really?

If I preach a gospel other than Jesus Christ, I’m building a house of straw even if I have thousands of followers.

I want my life to be built on the sure foundation of Jesus, built up by the gold of His Word, decorated with the jewels of submission and obedience. And I want to contribute to the building of His Church with the souls of people who come to Him because I invested myself in their lives for Jesus’ sake.

Solomon’s Temple must have been spectacular. It’s what he thought God deserved. I think God still deserves spectacular.

May 21; Answer The Door

Song of Solomon 5-8; Psalm 45; I Kings 5:1-12; 2 Chronicles 2:2-16

She’d just gone to bed when she heard her lover at the door. “Really?” she thought, “I just put on my PJ’s. Does he expect me to get dressed again at this hour? I washed my feet, and they’ll just get dirty again if I go to the door. Can’t it wait until morning?”

She laid there for just a minute or two before her heart began to beat with the anticipation of seeing him again, of being in his presence. She got up to greet the one she loved.

He was gone.

Some people may recognize how much God loves them and want to have a relationship with Him, but they are comfortable in their lives. They think, “I’ll give my heart to the Lord when I’m a little older, after I live a bit.”

Some Christians have a relationship with God through Jesus. But they hesitate to fully surrender because they are comfortable with an arms-length relationship at the moment. “Can’t it wait until morning?”

God doesn’t stay where He’s not wanted, and He never forces Himself on us. It’s up to us to go to Him, to open the door.

The good news for these people is that God will always forgive a repentant heart. He will welcome them with open arms whenever they come to Him through Jesus. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in..: (Revelation 3:20)

The bad news is, they will never get a repeat of today. If they ignore Jesus today, they will miss out on what God has for them today.

When we ignore God’s call on our lives we forfeit something truly amazing. And, let’s face it – we aren’t even promised a tomorrow.

I don’t know if you’ve been a Christian for decades, or whether you’ve never given your heart to the Lord. But I do know He is knocking at the door. He wants to forgive you, to fill you, to bless you more than you can imagine.

Why hesitate? You’ll never have this exact moment ever again.

May 20; Living In His Embrace

Psalm 50; Song of Solomon 1-3

There is so much imagery here in the love poem Solomon wrote. I hope you’ll read it with your relationship with your Savior in mind. Today, I am filled with praise for the great love God has for me, and for the privilege of being His.

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. (2:3-6)

That’s where I want to be living. I want to rest in my Savior, to be strengthened and nourished by reading His Word to me, because I love Him so much. I want to be living in His embrace.

He wants that for me, too.

May 19; What if?

I Kings 2:13-3:28; 2 Chronicles 1:1-13; Psalm 72

How would you describe God? What do you believe about Jesus and the cross? In your experience, would you say the Bible is absolutely true, mostly true, a book of suggestions for living, or a book of fiction? The answers to those questions will determine your answer to the following:

If God promised He would give you anything you asked of Him, what would you say?

Solomon heard God say, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Can you even imagine? Solomon replied, “Give me whatever I need to accomplish Your will.”

Solomon understood who God is. He understood that nothing is more important than being a servant God deserves. Solomon not only wanted to do what God asked of him, he wanted to do it well, with his efforts empowered by God.

What if God told you you could have anything you want? Would you ask for health? Happiness? World peace?

Or do you love Him enough, fear Him enough, desire to serve Him enough to make your request about Him? Not my will, but Thine be done.

How would you describe God?

 

May 18; Clinging To The Altar

I Kings 1:1-2:12; Psalm 25: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; I Chronicles 29:23-30

Warren Wiersbe said something about this passage that has me thinking today. (With the Word; Oliver-Nelson Books, 1991; page 197). David was old and dying. God had told him Solomon would succeed him as King of Israel.

However, another son, Adonijah, had other ideas. Adonijah gathered support, including some of David’s top men, and made himself king before David died, and before Solomon was anointed in their father’s  place.

As soon as David heard what was happening, he took matters in hand and made Solomon king in a very official, very public way. Then he had King Solomon sit down on his throne in front of the world.

When Adonijah and his cronies heard the news, they panicked and ran for the hills. I’m sure the words “treason” and “death” were ringing loudly in their ears. Adonijah ran, too. But he didn’t run for the hills, he ran to the altar of God, grabbed hold of the horns of the altar, and stayed right there. He wasn’t there to offer a sacrifice for his sin. He wasn’t there to meet God. He was there because he thought the altar was as safe a place as any. Surely Solomon wouldn’t kill him while he clung to the altar of God, would he?

Wiersbe likens this to people who cling to their religion. “Adonijah fled to the altar for safety, not for sanctity.”

Some people feel “safe” if they attend church, write a check, volunteer at the church’s food kitchen or clothing closet, if they take communion, or pray a row of beads, if they’re baptized, or sing in the choir. They cling to the horns of the altar without letting the altar do its work in them, to change them, to deal with the sin in their lives.

I want to ask you a question today. Are you religious? Or do you have a personal relationship with God through the blood of Jesus? I’m asking myself the same thing.

May 17; March Offerings

I Chronicles 27:1-29:22; I Kings 1:1-27

King David had arranged to purchase everything needed to build the temple – from the sturdy foundation to the eating utensils – including hiring skilled workers in every area. Then he did something that spoke to me today:

He reached into his own pockets, took out his personal checkbook, and gave treasures of gold and silver; 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver to be used for the finishing touches of the temple. Not from the nation’s treasury. From his own pocket.

Then he challenged the nation’s leaders to give, too. The result was that the leaders, the commanders, officers and officials, reached into their own pockets and followed David’s example. They gave over 5,000 talents of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze, 100,000 talents of iron from their private funds. Then, on top of that, they threw in the precious stones they had lying around their houses.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord… (I Chronicles 29:9)

Now I know that we are very private givers these days. We quote the account of the widow’s mite and, with Jesus, condemn the showy, public giving of the rich. But it occurred to me today, the widow’s offering was every bit as public. In fact, Jesus drew attention to the dollar amount she gave.

I remember the occasional March Offering when I was a kid. The congregation, usually singing a familiar hymn, would get out of our pews, and form a line, following one another to an offering plate at the front of the sanctuary, where one at a time, we’d all put in whatever God laid on our hearts. No one announced individual dollar amounts like Jesus did. But the act of public giving was celebrated. The total dollar amount received, usually for a special project or mission, was announced at the end of the service, followed by praise and thanksgiving.

I recently heard someone reject that idea for their congregation because “that only tempts prideful giving and jealousy.” This person has a general negative view of people anyway, but I wonder if that congregation missed out on something here.

The people we read about in I Chronicles 29 got excited about giving when they saw David giving. I know for myself, as a young girl in my church, those march offerings spoke to me. I watched an example of giving by my elders. And I remember the first time I marched around the sanctuary and put in my own  offering, a dollar I’d earned babysitting. I didn’t feel bad about the small amount. I wasn’t jealous that someone else was able to give more. I was excited to be a part of the giving.

I’m wondering if we’ve become too private in our giving. If no one knows that I give, they don’t know that I don’t. And yes, what I give it is between me and God. But are we missing the opportunity to be an example of giving to others?

Are you a church leader? Do people in your fellowship know you tithe? Do they see you denying yourself certain things in order to give a bit extra? Are you a parent? Do your kids know you give, how much you give, and why? I think they should know.

Let’s be an example of joyful, sacrificial giving to our families and our church fellowships. Let’s not make giving such a taboo subject. It’s a responsibility to give. But it is also a privilege, and a blessing. Maybe others, if they see our example, will want to give, too.

May 16; How Far Will It Go?

I Chronicles 6:31-53, 25:1-26:32

I love that the names of the men assigned tasks in the ministry of the temple (not even built yet) are listed here. Most of these men are unknown, regular guys – except for this one thing. Most of these men aren’t listed with kings, or warriors, or prophets. Yet their names are being read today, thousands of years after they’ve gone.

Why?

They served God.

I also love the fact that so many fathers and sons worked side by side in their ministries. I would think nothing could be sweeter for Christian parents than to have their children serving God alongside them. What a blessing that must be!

There is something else that I noticed here in these lists: Accountability.

All these men were assigned duties, and with that we read about the supervision of their fathers, or the commanders, or those who were “in charge.” All the men were given jobs, but none of them did their “own thing.” Even those with authority still answered to the king.

This is a great picture of the inner workings of the Church, isn’t it? Ordinary people working shoulder-to-shoulder in various ministries, some with the responsibility to oversee, to ensure the works gets done to the glory of God, and ultimately, all are accountable to the King of Kings.

You and I might be just regular people, working behind the scenes in ministry of some kind. We might never be lauded or applauded in this lifetime. The men whose names we read today probably weren’t, either. But here we are so many years later, talking about them. I guess we’ll never know how far-reaching our obedience in ministry will go, either.