Monthly Archives: June 2016

June 21 – First Love

I Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9

My sister Kathy and I were talking yesterday about the passages in Ecclesiastes I’d been reading. We were remarking about how Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, he was the richest.  And as far as I can tell he was the most self-indulgent person on record, too.

Solomon had it all. And it became his ruin.

Kathy said something that has me thinking today as I read about Solomon’s turn from God. She wondered how the same man who wrote The Song Of Solomon, the man who was totally devoted to his first love, and who was loved like that in return, could end up with 700 wives and 300 more women he had sex with. How did he go from that precious first love, so pure, intense, and exclusive, to such a mind-boggling disregard for that love?

The answer is in the chapters I read today. It happened gradually. One day, one step at a time.

Most likely some of the women were gifts from neighboring kings. But Solomon welcomed them into his home. And he allowed them to bring their detestable idols with them. Everything God had warned him to avoid.

I don’t think Solomon woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll worship Ashtoreth today.” But Scripture tells us eventually Solomon became a worshiper of that Sidonian god, and a worshiper of other imaginary gods as well.

Did it start out with curiosity? Solomon seems to be a man who loved learning everything he could. Maybe he thought observing his wives go through their pagan rituals was a learning experience, would help him understand his wives better. I don’t know. The Bible just says this about King Solomon:

For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (I Kings 11:4)

That makes me sad. The Bible seems to indicate that Solomon kept his first wife, his first love, separate from the others. Built her a better house. Maybe spent more time with her than with the others. Probably gave her roses on their anniversary or a box of candy on Valentines Day. But the reality is he had something else going on, too. And that something else ended up turning his heart away from God.

The Bible takes it a step further:

Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. (I Kings 11:6)

Solomon who built that incredible temple, who was so gifted with wisdom and power and material wealth. Solomon who represented God to the nations around him. Ended up being remembered for doing evil in the sight of the Lord.

Fast forward a few thousand years. What would God want me to take away from Solomon’s life? I find myself checking my relationship with my own first love.

The early church in Ephesus was a vibrant, busy congregation who persevered, did not tolerate sin, even called their preachers out when the preachers weren’t speaking the truth. But Rev 2:4 reports what God says about that church in Ephesus:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

That’s where God is nudging me this morning. I can think about Solomon and wonder about his fall, but there is a more important truth to consider. And that is my own heart’s condition before my Lord.

The question I need to answer today is this: Is my heart “wholly devoted” to God? Or have I tolerated a bit of sin in my life? Have I begun to take those steps away from God that I consider no big deal at the moment? Do I serve Him out of love? Do I nurture that love, think about Him, talk about Him, spend time with Him? Is God the focus of my life or not?

Solomon is going to be required to give an answer for his heart’s condition before the same Holy God I’m going to give an account to. What will my answer be?

God, I want to love You like You deserve to be loved. I want to keep You the focus of my thoughts and actions. I want to walk with You, include You in every minute of every day. And I want to forsake all others, keep myself only for You, resist the devil. I want to serve You out of a heart of love and devotion. It’s You and me, Lord. Just You and me.

 

 

June 20 – Parenting 101

Ecclesiastes 7-12

Just reading over these chapters doesn’t do justice to the wisdom here. I find the book of Ecclesiastes to be one I need to read slowly, and take time to digest it all. I don’t have the time, or even the desire, to dissect every verse on this blog. But I would like to share one verse that God used to get my attention today.

Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I guess I am still thinking about parents and parenting. Here is God’s advice for parents, given through Solomon in 8:11:

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to evil.

1) Don’t do that. 2) I told you not to do that. 3) How many times do I have to tell you to stop? 4) If you do that again, I’m going to spank you. 5) Do you want a spanking? 6) Did you hear me? 7) I’m tired of telling you to stop. 8) Stop!

Sound familiar? Your child willfully disobeys you. Not once, eight times in this example. And what you’ve taught your child is that they can break your rules eight times before they have to obey. Sometime your child learns they never have to obey because your threats are meaningless.

WHAT YOU ALLOW, YOU TEACH. Not only does the guilty child learn that lesson, so does everyone within hearing distance.

Look at the crime rate here in the US compared to countries that hand down swift and harsh punishment for breaking the law. What you allow, you teach.

Parents, it is your responsibility to raise children who are not “given fully to evil,”  as Solomon says. How you discipline your child for disobedience makes all the difference in the world.

And it’s a lesson your child just might take into eternity. It’s that important.

 

June 19 – We All Worship

Ecclesiastes 1-6

Years ago I worked with a man who was very dedicated to his job as high school band director. He spent many after-school hours in his office, working on halftime shows, giving private lessons, repairing instruments. The man could do it all. And he did it well.

He had three children who never spent much time with their dad, until they were in the high school band themselves. I remember the junior high band director, also a father of three, talking to our co-worker and encouraging him to go home and play with his kids. I don’t think he ever did.

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that jobs and wealth and success and education and partying and things are all worthless in the end. A chasing after wind.

In Sunday School today we were talking about serving two masters. It’s impossible to give 100% to more than one. One of the ladies said we, as beings created to worship God, end up worshiping SOMETHING even if we reject Him. Some worship careers, or family, or self, or wealth, or even education. Ask Solomon what he thinks about any and all of the substitutes he tried.

Today is Father’s Day. And may I say thank you to those of you incredible men who love God, love their wives, and who love their children. Thank you for the time you spend with them, for the hugs and giggles. Thank you for the discipline and the direction you give to the ones God has given you. I pray that they are learning what their Heavenly Father is like by living in your home.

Here’s something you probably already know. When you die, your money stays here. Your car, your job title, your bank account, your toys stay here for others to use, abuse, ignore, or sell. When you die, you relinquish control, even if you think you have an airtight will.

The only things that you will take with you into eternity are the souls of those with whom you have shared Jesus. And I can’t think of a more important soul than that child who calls you Daddy (or Mommy, ladies. Same is true for us) Are your children ready to meet their Creator because of the influence you’ve had on them? Are they living for the Lord because they see that living for the Lord works for you?

What are your priorities? Is it that job, or more money, more prestige? Or is it obeying God and worshiping Him according to Scripture? Your children are watching you worship every day.

What is it they see you worshiping?

June 18 – This Could Be The Day

Proverbs 27-29

A dear lady who lives in the condo complex where I live in Georgia stepped outside her front door today to take her dog for a walk. She’s been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Her daughter and son-in-law are missionaries in Bosnia, and are home on furlow. My friend hasn’t seen them in over a year, including her newest grandson. They’d flown into Atlanta, rented a car and were driving the five hours to the island for their happy reunion.

I know you probably guess there was an accident. And there was. But I doubt you could guess the nature of the accident.

My friend stepped onto the sidewalk in front of her condo, and the palm tree in front of her place cracked, and fell on her. She died instantly. It wasn’t storming. The tree just fell.

The reunion between mother and daughter will take place at a funeral home instead of at the condo. This daughter will plan a funeral instead of planning outings with her mom.

I share this after reading these chapters in Proverbs today. I read these and wonder why any of us spend a minute being angry or contentious, or career driven, or dishonest, or foolish? Why do we waste time playing with religion instead of worshiping God as He deserves? Why put so much effort into things that don’t mean a whole heck of a lot in light of eternity?

This life is all we have this side of eternity. And none of us know if today is the day a tree might fall on our head.

June 17 – Acting And Reacting

Proverbs 25-26

I think I’ve shared with you that I relate to the young disciple Peter. Peter lived half his life with his foot firmly planted in his mouth. Peter acted and reacted often without putting much thought into the situation. And I’ve been known to do the same.

Solomon tells us, “Do not go out hastily to argue your case; otherwise, what will you do in the end when your neighbor humiliates you?” (25:8)

Yep. Been humiliated a few times myself.

I watched the NBA finals game last night. A star player from Golden State got ejected after committing his sixth foul, then proceeded to throw a bit of a temper tantrum. There is a reported history of bad blood between that player and the star of the opposing team, the Cleveland Cavs.

So after the game, a reporter interviewed the Cavs’ star, and asked him to comment on the behavior of the ejected Warrior. Emotions run high, and maybe in his younger days the Cavs’ player might have taken the bait and unloaded on his opponent. Instead, he chose to praise the talent of that opponent, and talk about how great a team Golden State is.

He did not go hastily to argue his case.

Seeing that last night, and then reading this proverb today has me examining myself. There are definitely times to stand up for ourselves and for causes important to us. But I want to do so carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully.

Otherwise I’ll end up looking like a fool.

June 16 – Cabul

I Kings 9, II Chronicles 8

Hiram appears to be generous. The king of Tyre gave Solomon an abundance of wood and gold for the building of the Temple, and for Solomon’s own home. I Kings 9:11 says Hiram gave everything Solomon desired.

But when Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in Galilee in return, Hiram was not pleased. In fact, he called the cities Cabul, which means “as good as nothing.”

I don’t know what the terms of the agreement were between the two kings. It sounds like Hiram didn’t think it was fair.

Hiram’s reaction has me thinking about my own life. Do I attend church so God will keep my healthy? Do I put money in the offering plate so God will give me that promotion at work?

I never want to look at the blessings God gives me every day and call it Cabul.

Lord, help me to remember that I deserve nothing from You. You owe me nothing! Help me to be grateful for every heart beat, every breath, every morning. I want to follow You because You are worthy, not because I want You to reward me. 

June 15 – Praise

Psalms 134, 146-150

These psalms are all about praise. And as I read them I hear the author say God is worthy of our praise. More than that, the reality of who He is demands our praise.

All nature praises God. The sun and moon, angels, water, wind, mountains, trees… He is worthy of praise because of who He is, what He has done, what He continues to do. It’s all about Him.

I am challenged to live a life of praise, by the choices I make, my resolve to obey Him, to include Him in every minute of my day, to talk to and about Him, to walk with Him. I want to see Him in the summer rain that’s pounding against my window right now. I want to hear Him in the song of birds, recognize Him in a rainbow, the hug of a child, holding the hand of an elderly person, my beating heart.

I want to be truly grateful to the One who loves me and died for me. It occurs to me that when I make praising God a priority, it doesn’t leave much room for self pity or anger.

God deserves my praise.

 

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness. Praise Him! Praise Him ever in joyful song!

May my life be a life of praise to my Creator, my Savior.