Tag Archives: representing God

(2 Kings 12) Integrity

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Any day, really.

Let me set the scene:

Scripture tells us there were repairs going on in the temple. The contractors and workers were paid with silver that came into the temple by way of the offerings from worshipers. The high priest and his secretary weighed, then bagged the offering silver.

“Then they would give the weighed silver to those doing the work – those who oversaw the Lord’s temple. They in turn would pay it out to those working on the Lord’s temple – the carpenters, the builders, the masons, and the stonecutters – and would use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the damage to the Lord’s temple and for all expenses for temple repairs.” (12:11-13)

It sounds like it would have been an accounting nightmare, especially without spreadsheets and Microsoft Office on their computers.

But listen to this. This is what struck me today:

“No accounting was required from the men who received the silver to pay those doing the work, since they worked with integrity.” (vs 15, emphasis mine)

Have you ever had any remodeling done in your home? How did it go? You hire a contractor who hires workers to do the actual remodel, plumbers, painters, carpenters, tile workers. Or maybe the contractor actually does the work himself. Were you happy with the finished project? Was the job completed on time and within budget? Was the work done to your satisfaction? I bet some of you have horror stories.

Like my sister who, after she and her husband shelled out almost $30,000.00 for a remodeled bath and laundry room, continue to discover problems:

a toilet set too close to the wall

faulty (and dangerous) wiring

shower floor not caulked

closets without doors because they were mis-measured

a sump pump clogged with mortar dust because the worker emptied his bucket in the sump pump with water containing the dust from sanding the new drywall

Oh, there’s more. But you get the idea. My poor brother-in-law is outside digging a hole in their front yard, hoping to replace or reroute the pipe from the clogged sump pump before it rains today and ruins their new carpeting.

Integrity? I’m not seeing it here exactly. But here’s my point:

are any of us doing our jobs with integrity?

I play the organ at church. If I tell myself that if I hit a wrong note here and there no one will notice, am I playing with integrity?

If I teach a Sunday School and think, they’re just children so if I am not as prepared this week it’s no big deal, am I teaching with integrity?

Are you parenting with integrity? Are you working at your marriage with integrity? Representing Jesus with integrity? Driving your car, paying your taxes, being a neighbor, caring for your parents, serving on a committee at church, whatever… Are you working with integrity?

Do you need someone standing over you to make sure you are doing the job well and honestly? Or can they throw away the spreadsheets, like they did here in 2 Kings, because you do your work with integrity?

May each of us, no matter how big or small the task God gives us to do, be men and women with integrity. Then may we do the job as unto the Lord.

Integrity might be something we don’t see every day. But it should definitely be seen in you and me who know Jesus as our Savior.

Every day.

Causing Fear (Esther 6-14)

I always thought the result of Mordecai’s stand was twofold: the enemy was destroyed, and God’s people were saved. That in itself is enough to celebrate! But there is something more to this I hadn’t considered before. And it might be the most important lesson of all.

In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them. (8:17) (emphasis mine)

People not born Jewish were converted and became Jews by choice. Yes, God’s people were saved. Yes, their enemy Haman was executed. But let’s not overlook the fact that people came to God because of it!

That is worthy of praise!

God blesses His children. God answers prayers of the faithful, and the enemy is defeated. But what is our ultimate goal? A virus-free world? No abortion clinics? Fat bank accounts? Filled pews? A care-free life?

People came to the God of Truth because fear of the Jews had seized them! Shouldn’t unsaved people fear Christians, too? Shouldn’t they be fearful of disrespecting God’s children? Shouldn’t the thought of God’s intervention on behalf of His children give them pause?

I wonder if unsaved people don’t fear God because they don’t see us taking Him seriously, either. I wonder if they don’t think twice about disrespecting Christians because we disrespect each other, and them. What is it about us that would cause an unsaved person fear the God they should fear?

The celebration that was happening here in chapter 8 wasn’t what drew the people to God. Makes me wonder if we aren’t making Christianity look like a party instead of what it really is, commitment, obedience, fighting battles, humility, and surrender to a Holy God. Yes we have reason to rejoice and I hope we are the ones who are the most joyful, the most fun, the most loving people in the group.

But I hope we are causing fear in the hearts of unsaved people, too. The truth is, without Jesus they have every reason to be scared out of their minds. The people in Esther’s day got the message. Are people getting that message through us today?

2 Kings 11-13; As His Father Did

As we are introduced to one king after another in the northern and southern kingdoms of the Jewish nation, we are told whether they were good kings or bad. And very often we find out whether or not they followed in their fathers’ footsteps.

There are a lot of things about my own dad I would like to exhibit in my life. His quick wit and generosity, his love of God’s creation and his sense of adventure. But there are also some things I don’t want to model, like his quick temper and critical spirit.

When I take inventory of myself, I see a lot of Dad in me, both the good and the bad. It makes me stop and consider what influence I am having on the little ones in my life. Would it be a good thing or a bad thing if they did as Aunt Connie did?

One of my nephews has a birthday today. He’s a daddy himself, with four precious children who will have to decide one day whether they want to  follow in his footsteps or not. I hope they choose to be like their father who loves God and follows Him unashamedly. Happy birthday, Ryan. I have tears of joy in my eyes as I remember the past thirty something years, watching you grow into the man you are today. I wonder what kind of influence I have been on you, your brothers and sister, your cousins, and now the next generation of people I love with all my heart.

When I read about Elisha here in 2 Kings I see the kind of influence I’d like to have myself. Elisha was a godly man, a man who never compromised his faith, a man everyone knew as a man of God. And when Elisha died, his influence didn’t die with him. Touching Elisha’s bones brought life.

I have Steve Green’s “Find Us Faithful” running through my head.

You see, this life I’m living isn’t just about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. As a Jesus follower, my life is about Him, and the impact I have on my world in His Name. It’s living a life that would inspire my loved ones to live lives doing what is “right in the eyes of the Lord” because they saw that in me.

Even after I am gone, I want the fire of my devotion to continue to light their way, my footprints to lead them to believe in Jesus as their Savior.

I hope you’ll go to You Tube and listen to “Find Us Faithful” today. May it be the prayer of your heart, as it is the prayer of mine. And may we live lives that would please God if our children did as their father or mother or aunt did.

My dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my parents and the influence they still have on me today, years after they’ve gone to live with you. God, I want to be gentle like my mom, to pray like she prayed, to love You like she loved You. I want to be self-sacrificing like Dad was, and to be uncompromising in my belief the way he stood firm. God, I want my love for You to translate into something my nieces and nephews want for themselves. And I pray my sweet great-nieces and nephews will see Jesus in me, and be drawn to You. Find me faithful, Lord. Find us all faithful.

September 2 – God Reveals Himself

Ezekiel 20-21

Everything that happened to the children of Israel happened for one reason. Many believe things happened because they were God’s chosen people, people He loved best and blessed most. I’m not so sure about that.

God makes it clear that the things that happened to Israel happened to reveal Himself to them and the world. (20:5,9,12,14,20,22,26,37,41,44,48)

Everything that happened to Israel happened because He loves you and me, because He wants us to know Him. I read Ezekiel and hear God say, “Connie, I love you. See me. Obey me. Know me.”

I believe the same holds true today. Everything that happens to us happens in order to reveal God to the world. So, if you have a minute, I’d like to share how God has revealed Himself to me this past month.

I’m actually writing this on Saturday September 3. It’s been quite a week.

I shared with you a while back that I was selling two condos in order to buy a house on the island where I have had a vacation home for a few years. My prayer was that God would open and close doors as He saw fit. I promised I’d not push on any door He closed, and that I’d walk through the open ones. Not my will, but Thine dear Lord.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to share all the details of my journey (nor would it interest you) but here are the highlights:

Both condos sold the first weekend they went on the market. That threw me into panic mode as it would leave me homeless as soon as they closed. One was a cash offer, so I had some flexibility there. The buyer agreed to rent to me for two weeks after we closed. She even let me name the price. Blessed!

I began an urgent search for houses. My realtor goes to my church and worked hard to find what I was looking for. I thought he’d succeeded, and put a bid on a cute little house in a neighborhood I liked. I walked through that open door.

They rejected my offer. I countered. They rejected the counter. My realtor felt they were asking $50,000 over what the comps showed. I walked away from that closed door. And looked at about twenty more homes.

I had to go back north to take care of my Ohio condo. So I left my realtor and a dear friend, Mary Jo, in charge of house hunting for me. The next Friday I got a call from Mary Jo. “Connie,” she said. “You’ve got to see this house. I would buy it myself. And I don’t think it’ll be on the market long.”

Another open door? I immediately started packing for the thirteen hour drive. I called my sister who said she would go with me. She was at work, and rearranged her schedule. We’d go down Friday, see the house on Saturday, and head back to Ohio on Sunday because she had obligations on Sunday night. We braced ourselves for a grueling weekend.

We were about two hours down the road when she got a frantic call from her daughter. Something was up, and she needed her mom. After several minutes of trying to figure how that was going to happen, I pulled into a Comfort Inn. My sister would call her husband to come get her, and I’d go to Georgia on my own.

I got to Georgia at about 1:00 on Saturday and went straight to the house where my realtor and Mary Jo were waiting for me. It was perfect! It was close to everything. It had been remodeled recently. And I loved it. My realtor put a call in to the other realtor with my offer. I felt God had opened this door for me to go through.

While they were on the phone, the other realtor got another call from someone with cash. Long story short, the owner asked us both to give us our last best offer. They would decide which offer to accept on Monday. I put in my offer. Open door, you know.

I went to my vacation home (it was still mine as closing hadn’t happened yet). I was set to go north the next day, Sunday, when I got a call from my realtor. He said there was an open house on Sunday he thought I might want to see in case the house I was waiting on didn’t go through. I really had no pressing reason to hurry back north, so I said I’d stay and go to the open house.

Ok. Are you still with me? This house is on the north side of the island. I’d been looking on the south end. It’s in a nice neighborhood, but it’s seven miles from my desired area. But I didn’t want to miss an open door. Remember I’d promised God I’d continue to walk until He closed the door.

Sunday after church, we pulled into the drive at the open house. Cute! We walked up to the front porch. Perfect! I walked through the front door and immediately fell in love. I told my realtor I like this one better than the one I had put an offer on just the day before. It was bright, and open, and I could immediately see my furniture in there.

Needless to say I put an offer on it. My realtor went right to work putting together the necessary papers, dot.looped them to me and the seller, and by 10:00 Sunday night I had a home ($35,000 less than the house I had an offer on the day before).

We withdrew the offer on the other, more expensive house.

Now here is where I see God reveal Himself. If my friend had not seen the house on the south end of the island and called to tell me about it, I would not have gone to the island that weekend. If my sister had indeed gone with me I would not have been available to go to the open house and see the home I eventually bought.

He revealed Himself in the quick sell of two properties, through the realtor who gave up his Sunday evening to get this done, through timing, timing, timing. He even revealed Himself in that, the house I traveled thirteen hours to see is still on the market after the inspection revealed several serious issues.

 

Now it all hasn’t been smooth sailing. I closed on this house Monday, moved my furniture in on Wednesday, and was welcomed by Hurricane Hermine on Friday. The large oak tree in my back yard blew over, damaging a fence and my new neighbor’s enclosed porch. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

I could tell you that one of the tree guys I spoke to said, after looking at the root system, that this could have just as well demolished my house and the neighbor next door. I could tell you about the guy who is painting my house, who was able to clean up the tree in my yard and my neighbors today, the day after the storm, when the tree guys had me on a waiting list.

Right now I am sitting on my back porch, listening to the happy sounds of children in the pool of the family who found my tree in their back yard. The sun is shining, and the humidity is thankfully low. And I know God is in it all, because everything that happened revealed a God who directs our paths when we let Him, and who wants everyone to see Him in me, in us who know Him.

Because He is not willing that any should die without Him. Let’s allow Him to continue to reveal Himself in the details of our lives, and let people know Who it is that directs our steps.

May 9 – Making A Name For Ourselves

2 Samuel 8&9, I Chronicles 18

Scripture tells us David made a name for himself. (2 Sam 8:13) He had soundly defeated his enemies, and news of that traveled far and wide. David was a warrior. David was a mighty king. David honored God and was blessed by God. Don’t mess with David.

My nephew’s high school senior class did the traditional, “Best Smile,” “Most likely to succeed,” “Best Athlete” thing this year. But, like many high schools, they threw in some “funny” ones, like “Goofiest Smile,” “Most likely to procrastinate,” “Biggest Ego.”

I hate this tradition! I mean, who wants to be remembered as the worst procrastinator or the person with the most annoying laugh? It’s not funny to most of them today, and it certainly won’t be funny twenty years from now.

The truth is, we are all making a name for ourselves. You may be identified on your job as a hard worker, or someone you never want to be stuck on a project with. Your friends might identify you as caring and honest, or a gossip and self-centered. Your family might identify you as loving and nurturing, or cold and way too busy.

God has me thinking about the name I am making for myself. Is it a name that honors Him? Is it a name I even want? What is it people really do see when they look at me?

May God be pleased with how I live my life, my reputation, and may people identify me first and foremost with my Savior. God and I have some work to do.