God's giving

God is great.

God is great.

Esther 10

In the New International Version of the Bible, the tenth chapter of Esther bears this heading: The Greatness of Mordecai. With such a title, it’s surprising that the chapter is so short. Just three verses! But the third verse is of particular interest: "Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews." (vs 3)

God offers satisfaction.

God offers satisfaction.

Esther 5

Perhaps the theme of the 1965 hit by the Rolling Stones is apropos to this chapter—I can’t get no satisfaction. Poor Haman. That was his problem. It seems that no matter how "good" things got for him, it wasn’t enough: "Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 'And that’s not all,' Haman added. 'I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.'" (vs 10-13)

God's giving inspires our giving.

God's giving inspires our giving.

Nehemiah 12

When all the people came together to dedicate the temple, it was a day of great pomp and celebration. There was feasting and music, with dozens of instruments and two huge choirs. Nehemiah says the "sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away." (vs 43) When these Israelites threw a party, they apparently made sure everyone knew about it!

Ransom {ex30:12}

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Imagine having to pay for your life
the way you pay for your heat
the way you buy your electricity
the way you purchase water and sewer.

Perhaps if we received
a monthly bill for
"Life-Services Rendered"
     breath and
     blood and
     heart beating and
     neurons firing and
     general suspension of the return-to-dust clause

we would remember that
life is a utility we can't generate
and be immune to
the otherwise-all-pervasive plague
of self-sufficiency.

 

God sometimes says no.

God sometimes says no.

Nehemiah 6

I was recently engaged in a conversation about whether God really answers our prayers. A question had come up regarding the passage where Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mk 11:23-24) and we were discussing the merits of "name it and claim it" theology.

God wants to have a strong bond with us.

God wants to have a strong bond with us.

2 Chronicles 27

One of the few accomplishments of King Jotham that is recorded in the Bible is this: "Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the Lord and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel." (vs 3) Of course, any time anyone in Judah had regard for God’s temple, that was a good sign, but Bible scholars suggest that working on the "Upper Gate" of the temple means that Jotham rebuilt and restored the link between the temple and the palace in order to have free access from his house to God’s house.

God can give us more.

God can give us more.

2 Chronicles 25

Amaziah—like his father—started out well as king. Later, he too strayed from the ways of the Lord, but as kings of Judah went, he was a pretty good one. (Which is, I think, a sad commentary on the kings of Judah!) Before he went astray, however, he had a habit of listening whenever the Lord talked to him. One such occasion was recorded in this chapter:

God gives us rest.

God gives us rest.

2 Chronicles 14

I loved this verse from chapter 14: "Let us build up these towns," [Asa] said to Judah, "and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side." (vs 7) The Israelites in Judah had not yet forsaken what they had learned in Egyptian captivity—that God is the very best King there is.

God's gifts can be squandered.

God's gifts can be squandered.

2 Chronicles 10

Today’s chapter reminded me somewhat of the story of the Prodigal Son—you know, the foolish boy who squandered the riches of his father’s estate. And since we looked yesterday at what an outrageous giver God is, I thought it might be prudent to add a P.S. today—that all of God’s gifts come with freedom. That means, if we are foolish enough, we can squander them all. What God gives, He doesn’t force us to keep or use wisely. We are free to do with His gifts what we want.

God always gives more.

God always gives more.

2 Chronicles 9

There’s no doubt about it. The Queen of Sheba was totally smitten with Solomon. Everything about him and his kingdom took her in—the palace, the temple, the banquet, and especially his wisdom. She had been expecting to see great things on her visit to Solomon, but she wasn’t prepared for what she actually found when she got there: "She said to the king, 'The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard.'" (vs 5-6)

God gives specific gifts to specific people.

God gives specific gifts to specific people.

1 Chronicles 27

To me, there is a troubling trend in modern Western society. I see it happening in schools with children, as well as in the general workplace with adults. I’m not sure what has caused this trend to appear in our culture. Perhaps it has its roots in the feminist movement or the civil rights movement. Regardless of where it came from, however, the trend has become that everybody must be seen and considered as equal in most every way.

God wants us to trust Him.

God wants us to trust Him.

1 Chronicles 22

Just before Solomon ascended to the throne, his father made all the necessary preparations for the building of the temple. David had wanted to build the temple himself, but God had decided that Solomon would build it instead. This was because Solomon would not be a warring king, as his father had been. In fact, Solomon’s very name was related to the Hebrew word for peace. It seems that God wanted the idea of peace to be an integral part of His dwelling place on Earth.

God is the parent.

God is the parent.

1 Chronicles 17

I think it means a lot of different things to say that we are created in the image of God. I believe that includes things like having freedom of choice, having the power to create little people in our own image, and being able to think intelligently. However, I also think it can point to other, more minor, characteristics or character traits, such as the example we find in this chapter.

One-Hit Wonder {ex17:1-6}

exodus-gods-graciousness-one-hit-wonder.png

"Israel drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them,
and that rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4

God gives.
He doesn't know how to do anything else.
He gives rain to the righteous
        and rain to the wicked.
He gives water to the grateful
        and water to the complainers.

God is good.
He doesn't know how to be anything else.
If you are good to Him,
        He will be good to you.
If you are evil to Him,
        He will be good to you.

Moses struck the rock
with his rod at Meribah
and life-giving water flowed out.

We strike the Rock and
Life is still the thing
that gushes out after us,
a flood of grace
        to meet our anger,
a deluge of mercy
        to defy our shame,
a surge of good
        to repay our evil.

 

Mundane Manna {ex16:11-12}

Photo © Unsplash/Evi Radauscher

Photo © Unsplash/Evi Radauscher

In Egypt
God's people ate their fill
of meat and bread.
And in the wilderness
God's people ate their fill
of meat and bread.

For forty years
—14,600 days and nights—
God revealed to the Israelites
not that He could feed them in the desert
but that it was He
who had fed them in Egypt.

For God, the manna wasn't miraculous.

It is no harder for Him
to make bread rain from the sky
than it is to make
wheat stand in the soil or
dough rise in the bowl or
the crust appear in the oven.

God miraculously provided
for His people in the wilderness
no more or less
than He had in Egypt.

We should stop wondering
why God no longer works miracles and
start asking why we still consider
anything in this life
mundane.

 

God gives us all the right things.

God gives us all the right things.

1 Chronicles 4

About 20 years ago, author Bruce Wilkinson made two verses of 1 Chronicles 4 famous with his book, The Prayer of Jabez. Who knew that a genealogical chapter of the Bible could produce something so lucrative? I remember the book well. Though I never actually read it, I remember the firestorm it caused in the Christian church. Many people were excited about it—going to their weekly group study about Jabez to learn how to garner some extra wealth from God. And an equal number of people were extremely opposed to it, shocked that any Christian should ask God for more.

God can restore everything.

God can restore everything.

2 Kings 8

Since I didn’t end up commenting on her in chapter 4, I’m glad the Shunammite woman is back again. You remember her: She was the gal who (along with her husband) built a room in their home for the prophet Elijah. And, in order to repay their kindness, Elijah told the childless couple that they would have a son. This obviously delighted the woman, but it was clear that she didn’t want to get her hopes up. What I really loved about her, though, was what she did when her son died of a head injury several years later. The woman went immediately to Elijah and said, "Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn’t I tell you, 'Don’t raise my hopes?'" (2 Kings 4:28)

God has no problem with wealth.

God has no problem with wealth.

1 Kings 10

Did you notice that as you read through today’s chapter? Whoa! God certainly has no problem with wealth! I was amazed by the fact that Solomon had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. Who needs 12,000 horses?! And this was just in addition to his palace and all the other things he acquired over the years as his fame spread far and wide. In the description of Solomon’s palace, the Bible says "nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom." (vs 20) Solomon was, by far, the richest man in the world—probably in the history of the world!

God wants us to have it all.

God wants us to have it all.

1 Kings 3

Wow! This chapter started out with God coming to Solomon like a genie in a bottle: "At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you.'" (vs 5) I had to wonder what I would say if God ever approached me like that. If you believed you were talking to someone who could give you anything, what would you really want?