Category Archives: Christianity

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.

May 15; Building The Church

I Chronicles 23-24, 6:16-30

I’ve shared that my church is in the middle of a building project. We are excited about moving forward, to laying a foundation now that the land is cleared, to see walls go up, and to eventually move to the north end of the island. The drawings of our future home are beautiful. Not ornate. But you’ll definitely be able to identify it as a church, unlike the remodeled garage we worship in today. It’s so exciting.

David was excited about his building project, too. We saw yesterday how he did the prep-work, buying materials and hiring skilled workers. David even went one step further, an unimaginable step, when he made Solomon king in his place. A king just didn’t do that. Death was the only thing that removed a king from a throne, or maybe an enemy victory. Never a willing abdication in favor of a son.

I imagine David was hoping he’d live long enough to at least see the temple built, even if God had told him Solomon was going to be the builder.

But, and here’s what spoke to me today, David wasn’t only concerned about the physical building of the temple. Oh, he wanted it done right, with the best materials. He wanted it to be the most beautiful building in the world. But David was not satisfied with a  beautiful structure. What use would it be if there wasn’t ministry happening there?

So, even before the foundation of the building was laid, he assigned people to be gatekeepers, musicians, officials, judges, bakers, dish washers, as well as priests. David doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the outward appearance, and not with what was to happen inside.

It’s nice to worship in a beautiful building with state-of-the-art technology, comfortable chairs and air-conditioning. But if there isn’t ministry happening in there, what good is it? The size or appearance of our churches are meaningless if God isn’t finding willing workers inside.

There are vital, beautiful churches that meet huddled together in someone’s living room, or in buildings with holes in the roof, and dirt floors. There are amazing churches meeting in store fronts, in tents, or barns where people are gathering together to worship, and grow, and then getting out there and making disciples.

Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on the physical, how our churches look, from the size of a steeple to the look of a stage, from how the landscaping looks to how the worship service looks, we neglect the ministry opportunities and responsibilities.

Let’s take care of our buildings, make sure the bills are paid and the lawn is mowed and the toilets flush. But let’s also remember why we have those buildings in the first place. Are we using them during the week for ministry, or only on Sunday for a couple hours? Are we who meet on Sundays sharing the Gospel when we leave those four walls, or are we only there for an experience?

You know the Church is not a building. It’s important to take care of our meeting places, but the Church is you. It’s me. Building God’s Church doesn’t involve hammers and nails, but men and women who are out there serving, ministering, people who are involved in the lives of other people, and leading them to their Savior.

I pray that we will have the same singular focus on growing the Church as David had in seeing that temple built. Let’s build the Church one redeemed soul at a time.

 

May 15; A Bucket List

2 Samuel 20; I Chronicles 22; Psalms 30 & 140

It’s a popular concept these days to have a “Bucket List.” It sounds fun, fulfilling, to check off all the things you’ve always wanted to do before you die. Skydiving? Check. River Cruise in Europe? Check. Broadway play? Check. Meeting a famous person? Check. Whatever you’ve dreamed about doing, do it before it’s too late.

Having a Bucket List is especially appealing to people who believe this life is all there is. Enjoy it before you turn into nothingness. It also seems to appeal to people who are their own priority. Me first, you know.

David had a different kind of Bucket List. We read that David wanted to build a temple for God. It was a longing, a passion of his to create a place worthy of God’s Presence. But God told him, “No.” Solomon would be the one to built the temple.

So David got busy. He drew up plans, hired workers, purchased materials, mentored Solomon. David’s Bucket List was full of ways to assure that temple would be built, even if his name wasn’t going to be on it. David’s Bucket List was about furthering God’s work.

I don’t read where he took even one trip to Disney. David’s Bucket List was all about God.

So I’m asking myself what it is I want to do before I die? Do I want my final push to be about me? Or do I want a Bucket List that looks like David’s, one that is full of things I can do for God before I meet Him?

I’d like my Bucket List to include the names of people I’ve influenced toward having a relationship with God through Jesus, rather than a lot of things I did for myself. I want my Bucket List to include things that glorify God – not me.

If I have the means to travel Europe on a luxury cruise ship, I have the means to take the Gospel to children in Haiti, or to build a well in Africa in Jesus’ name, or buy Bibles for Chinese Christians, or support a missionary in Romania, or give school supplies to kids in poverty in my home town. If I can put effort into meeting my sports hero or music icon, I can put effort into sharing Jesus with a homeless person, or my neighbor.

Now, please. I am not condemning anyone who goes on a European river cruise. I’d love to do that myself. And I’m not telling anyone how they should be spending their money. I’m just suggesting we take a look at our priorities and find out how God can be honored in our lives while we still are able.

Having a Bucket List might be a good thing. I think what is in our Bucket Lists are between us and God. Whatever we do, let’s do it to the glory of God while we still have time.

 

May 13; The Truth Hurts

Psalms 64, 70, 84, 141, 143; 2 Samuel 18:19-19:43

Absalom is dead. The son who did everything in his power to steal the throne from his father, David, was killed in a battle he was fighting with the intent to destroy David. David wished he’d been the one to have died instead.

Now, I dealt with a lot of middle school parents who thought their precious children could do no wrong, even when presented with evidence to the contrary. But David takes the cake.

David went into a very public, very agonized mourning over the death of his son. I’m not saying he was wrong to be sad. He was a father. But David’s mourning went to the point his own soldiers – those who had been loyal to him when his own son betrayed him – were ashamed to have fought the battle. The solders went into mourning.

So Joab, the leader of the army, went to the king and shook some sense into him. We, of course, can’t hear Joab’s tone of voice. But we can read his words. And it doesn’t appear that he was joking. These are some harsh words. Truthful words. But Joab doesn’t seem to be worried about hurting the king’s feelings.

David was wrong. David acted badly. And he had to be told in no uncertain terms.

I’m not a very good Joab. Confrontation is not my strong suit. Oh, I can write a script in my head. I can imagine what I would say to someone I think needs to hear the truth. But actually saying those words out loud is not something I do.

God is convicting me about that today.

Joab realized that what David was doing was hurting other people, and jeopardizing David’s kingship. I can watch a loved one making similar choices, choices that perhaps hurt others, or worse – jeopardize their relationship with God and eternity.

David needed Joab’s firm honesty. My loved ones need mine. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But sometimes the truth hurts. I don’t want to lose a relationship with them by making them upset with me. But God is asking me if their liking me in this lifetime is worth their eternity without Him?

Man! I do NOT like what God is saying to me today. But He speaks the truth.

And the truth hurts.

May 12; You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty

Psalms 55, 58, 61-63; 2 Samuel 17:24-18:18; I Chronicles 2:17

I’m going to be honest. Mother’s Day is not my favorite holiday. My own mother has lived with Jesus since 1996, and I miss her. I am glad that after all these years of only memories of her, those memories no longer hurt. In fact, I take great joy in remembering this sweet, gentle spirit who I was blessed to call, “Mom.”

I will admit to a hint of jealousy toward those of you who are able to hug your mother today, even those of you whose moms can’t remember who you are. I’d love to wrap my arms around my mother today.

Mother’s Day is also a reminder to me that I’m not one. I’ve never been, “Mom,” to anyone, and most days I’ve come to grips with it.  But ever since Mom died, I chose to make this one day a year my personal pity part. I did not go to church on the second Sunday in May for decades. I reserved this holiday as one day to feel the hurt and disappointment, and to wallow in my sadness. (Poor me.)

Now I have responsibilities at church that make playing hooky difficult. So I’ll go to church today, a bit reluctantly. And wait until I get home to feel sorry for myself. Or maybe I’ll decide to not feel sorry for myself at all.

I know that many women hurt worse than me on Mother’s Day. I’ve never buried a child. I don’t have a child living with addiction, or running from God. I don’t have a child in jail, or refusing to speak to me. Those situations must magnify the hurt of being a mother whose heart is broken on a day when motherhood is celebrated.

It might be easy for those of us who hurt to be resentful of those of you who have your children around you today. But let me say this:

Happy Mother’s Day!

This day is not about “womanhood.” This is a day to celebrate you who have the blessing and responsibility to raise babies to adults, to nurture and care, to discipline and hold children who God knit together inside you. It’s also for you women who love and raise children not your own, step moms, grandmas, adoptive moms.

We celebrate you. Don’t think you have to throw out how important we childless women are. This day is not about us. And don’t feel guilty if some of us can’t hide our disappointment, and sadness. You are certainly not responsible for how we feel.

You are being honored today for your position as Mother, as you should be. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. You are blessed. And not allowing yourself to celebrate for fear of hurting someone’s feelings might be diminishing what God has done for you. Don’t worry about us. Most of us can say we are blessed in so many other ways.

David says this in Psalm 62:

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

Today is a day to celebrate Moms. And you will be rewarded accordingly for loving and raising the children God gave you. What an honor! What an awesome reason to celebrate!

The rest of us will be rewarded according to what we do, too. May God find us faithful.

So, again I say, Happy Mothers’ Day, Moms! Enjoy your day to feel pampered, spoiled, appreciated, loved. May God bless you and make you a blessing to those who call you “Mom.”