Did Solomon Ask for the Wrong Gift?

1 Kings 3:5-12
Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39
Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

 

When we read about Solomon in the Bible, we see a king and a kingdom of power and wealth. Indeed, the years of David and Solomon saw the Kingdom of Israel reach its greatest zenith.

But, when historians compare that Kingdom with surrounding kingdoms, it is like comparing Costa Rica to the US. By any physical measure, Israel was small. Yet, its presence was large. Those two kings managed to remain independent while sandwiched between Egypt and Assyria, either of whom would have considered gobbling up Israel a light snack.

That is not to downplay the importance of David and Solomon, but we must always remember that God chose to work through a small, insignificant band of nomads to prove His point that nothing good comes without the power of God. He topped off that point by sending His Son to live a completely human existence without the assistance of angels or any of the trappings of kingship.

God of Power does not work in this world through the power players. God works through the poor, weak, suffering, downtrodden; through the day laborers, the migrant harvesters, those who cannot read but know the Word of God, those who give up the world’s riches to gain His presence.

Those are the people who hear Jesus speak of a mustard seed and know that it is not about the large plant that comes out of the tiny seed. It is about the mighty power of the Word of God that can work in any life that will accept it. The people carrying around mustard seeds do not appear all that exceptional—they have no shrubs growing out of their ears. It is the power of God that gives the seeds their expansion.

Solomon was wise, but he forgot that all that wisdom came from God. He forgot to use it for God’s plans.

Perhaps he should have asked for the faithfulness of Abraham.

See my comments on the New Testament portion of today’s scripture from July 27, 2014 here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Teach Me Your Way Lord

Isaiah 44:6-8
Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

 

Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name
ESV

We live in a world that gives little thought to God, or even gods. We live every day struggling to satisfy as many desires as possible. We seem to believe there is nothing else but to fill the day with whatever happiness we can grasp.

Many of us wonder if there might be more. Many of us have been fortunate enough to meet Jesus and at least to see another Way. Many of us have decided to follow Jesus. But, it is easy to find ourselves bumped from that path.

We lose sight of the road signs amid all the earthly clutter of work, family, entertainment, money, responsibilities, and the physicality of our lives. We find ourselves in that field of wheat, trying to see through the weeds.

How can I fulfill the words of Isaiah? You are my witnessNJB How can I testify that God is real, that He is the only God that has ever existed, that He is my Rock?

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever
ESV

An image I carry with me comes from a novel I read too many years ago to remember its title. The story is about a black country preacher who towers before the congregation Sunday morning, preaching the Word of God, filled with the Holy Spirit. As his family walks the dusty road home, the preacher slowly begins to shed that powerful presence and arrives at the house just another hard-scrabble share-cropper.

It is at first look a depressing image, but consider that he rises to that Spirit filled power every Sunday. And there is for us an answer. I may be a stalk of wheat surrounded by weeds, but I am still wheat. I may be beaten down for a few days, but I can revisit Jesus and be refreshed. The Devil may win a few rounds, but my turn is coming.

 

For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol
ESV

Once I choose to become a follower of Jesus, I will face obstacles. Many will be the result of my ignorance, and some will be placed before me by the Evil One. But, I should always remember the words of Paul, you have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, “Father, my Father.” Phillips And, if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his gloryCJB

See my comments on the New Testament portion of today’s scripture from July 20, 2014 here.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

God Within

Isaiah 55:10-13
Psalm 65: (1-8), 9-14
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

 

For just as rain and snow fall from the sky and do not return there, but water the earth, causing it to bud and produce, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so is my word that goes out from my mouth —it will not return to me unfulfilled; but it will accomplish what I intend, and cause to succeed what I sent it to do. CJB

This is a powerful statement by God. The Word of God will always succeed.

Before Yeshua, there were two kinds of people in the world—Jews and Gentiles. Since Yeshua, there are two kinds of people in the world—those filled with the Holy Spirit and those who are not.

The Holy Spirit is not new, not an invention of Yeshua. The Holy Spirit was a part of the Creation. In our terms of understanding, the Spirit has been around as long as God has been around. The Spirit is God. Yeshua reminded us to expect the Spirit in our lives and to pay attention to the way the Spirit leads us.

This is the core of being Christian. The Good News is given to us, but we each take it in based on our situations and inclinations. I may try to follow in The Way, but I have many obligations in this world that take up all my time. Or I don’t have enough trust that I’m hearing God right. Or I don’t think God would really ask me to do that.

There are many reasons why God’s Word falls on rocks, or among weeds. Yet, it is never too late to clear the rocks and pull the weeds. We can always rededicate ourselves to following in The Way.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in usPhillips

Embrace what the Spirit is doing and go along for the ride.

See my comments on the New Testament portion of today’s scripture from July 13, 2014  here.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

My Yoke is Easy

Zechariah 9:9-12
Psalm 145:8-15
Romans 7:15-25a
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

 

Does Jesus give us permission to sin?

Yes and no. When I sin, I have turned away from God. In that sense, the answer is no. But Jesus redefined sin. He gives us comfort when we ask for it. He helps us understand the difference between what our society thinks is sinful and what God finds offensive.

Few Christians would say that murder is acceptable, but we do accept self-defense as a loophole. Killing people in war is not considered murder. We rarely remember that Jesus said, anyone who is angry with his brother must stand his trialPhillips God does not want us to kill people.

If having a nasty thought about a person is evil, what hope is there for any of us? With Paul, we say, For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ESV We live in a sinful world, but we also have sin within us. We can do the Pharisee thing and isolate ourselves from other sinners, but that does nothing to reduce our own sin.

Jesus does not want us to sin. He does not give us permission to sin, but he comforts us when we do sin. He is like a sponsor in AA; Jesus helps us through the sins we commit and does not beat us up for failing.

Again, with Paul we say, Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and doesMSG

This was the promise made centuries before Jesus was born. In Psalms we read, Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full of faithful loveNJB God’s love is so great He loves us even as we sin. What’s more, He has a plan that will put an end to sin so that we can live with Him as Man and Man’s Companion did in the Garden.

Zechariah wrote God’s promise about the Messiah this way: Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkeyNJB

The Messiah, Yeshua, Jesus, came to save us from ourselves. I can choose to follow him, but I cannot stop sinning. I can sin less, but never be free on this side of the New Jerusalem.

See my comments on the New Testament portion of today’s scripture from June 29, 2014 here.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence