God's way

Blind Spot {ex21:23-25}

exodus-mercy-blind-spot-poem.png

Ghandi once said that
an eye for an eye
leaves the whole world blind.

Yes, but it also
leaves the whole world alive.

If the previous rule was
your hand for my eye
and then
my child's life for your hand
and then
your whole family for my child's life
and then
and then

and then
an eye for an eye
is not revenge,
but mercy;

pandemic blindness
a blessing,
compared to
the alternative.

God is to be praised.

God is to be praised.

1 Chronicles 23

Of everything written in this chapter of 1 Chronicles, this stuck out to me the most: "[The Levites] were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening and whenever burnt offerings were presented to the Lord on the Sabbaths, at the New Moon feasts and at the appointed festivals." (vs 30-31)

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 not exclusive.

God is not exclusive.

1 Chronicles 19

When reading through the Old Testament, it’s very easy to jump to the conclusion that God is an elitist, exclusive kinda guy. After all, it seems He chose a nation (Israel) for Himself, called them out of slavery, and worked very hard to try to give them everything He could. On such a cursory reading, it could be easy to conclude that God loved and protected Israel to the exclusion of all other nations.

Delegation Abdication? {ex18}

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Exodus 18 has been
the jumping-off point
for many a sermon on delegating.
But I wonder if delegating
was what Moses was supposed to do.

He listened to his father-in-law,
but it doesn't say
whether he consulted God
on the newly-proposed
hierarchy.

On one hand,
Jethro's idea took a heavy burden
from Moses' shoulders
and broke it up into smaller
more easily-managed pieces.

On the other hand,
maybe God had intended
Moses to carry
the Israelite Cross.

On one hand,
the people could
get their disputes resolved
without having to practice
so much patience.

On the other hand,
the
plan
added
yet
another
layer
of
bureaucracy
between
the
people
and
the
God
who
had
longed
to
speak
with
them
face
to
face
as
a
man
speaks
to
his
friend.

Perhaps Moses did
the right thing.

But if he had been on
the sure path to
burnout,
why didn't the God
who was in the habit
of speaking with him every day
tell him so
Himself?

 

God cares about the process, not just the results.

1 Chronicles 15

After a few months, David went back to (once again) retrieve the Ark of the Covenant and bring it back to Jerusalem. This time, however, he had a different method in mind: "Then David summoned... the priests... and the Levites. He said to them, 'You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.' So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord." (vs 11-15)

Photo © Unsplash/Jungwoo Hong

Photo © Unsplash/Jungwoo Hong

To me, this signaled that God cares about how we do things, not just that we do them. It wasn’t just a matter of bringing the Ark back from Philistine exile, but it was important to be done in the right way. God had given specific instructions about how the Ark was to be handled, in order to preserve the respect and awe of being in God’s presence. It was important that this process was followed—so the Israelites would be more inclined to take God seriously, especially after they had ignored Him for so many years!

Sometimes, the process is just as important to God as the results. He’s not just out to get to any end at any means. How things are done matter to Him. For that reason, just as David learned, they should matter to us, too!

Photo © Unsplash/Suzanne D. Williams

Photo © Unsplash/Suzanne D. Williams

Water Main {ex15}

Photo © Unsplash/Jeremy Bishop

Photo © Unsplash/Jeremy Bishop

There's water at the beginning
and water at the end
and water all over the middle

Spirit brooding over the deep
a rush from the Rock
precursor to wine
hushing the waves
Red Sea at attention
floodfloodfloodflood
strolling the waves
streams in the desert
rivers from the Throne

If we could recognize
the One who meets us
at all our broken-down cisterns
we would realize
that true life is a frolic
at the center of
a Forever Fountain

 

God delivers the impossible.

God delivers the impossible.

2 Kings 19

Well, this is certainly a drama-filled chapter in the Bible! Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, has gone around the region, conquering everyone and everything in sight (including Israel!), and now, he was sitting on Jerusalem’s doorstep with 185,000 soldiers, ready to capture Judah as well.

God wants to give you rest.

God wants to give you rest.

2 Kings 16

As I read this chapter, I felt so bad for Ahaz, didn’t you? "Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree." (vs 2-4)

God thinks differently than we do.

God thinks differently than we do.

2 Kings 4

Well, this whole chapter was about how God worked miracles through His prophet Elisha. The one that really stuck out to me, though, was the very first story about the widow, her two sons, and the olive oil. Just before creditors were going to come and take her boys into slavery because of their debts, Elisha told her, "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side." (vs 3-4)

God's ways are everlasting.

God's ways are everlasting.

1 Kings 12

What a beautiful little nugget there is tucked away in this chapter of 1 Kings. Solomon has died, and his son Rehoboam has taken over the throne in Israel. The people—who had endured hard labor under Solomon—came to Rehoboam and asked him to ease up on them a bit. After asking for some time to think it over, Rehoboam consulted his father’s advisers. This is the advice they gave him: "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants." (vs 7)

God doesn't do anything halfway.

God doesn't do anything halfway.

1 Kings 8

One of the best lessons I learned from my father was that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing all the way. I don’t think this was anything he ever sat me down and told me. Rather, I learned it from watching him. Whatever he undertook, no matter what it was, he did to the very best of his ability. There was no "halfway" with him. There was no mediocre. Everything he did, he did it to the fullest and the finest. Even the little things, the kinds of things that most people would do halfway and then say That’s good enough.

God's way brings peace.

God's way brings peace.

1 Kings 4

At least starting out, Solomon did things the right way. He had a heart for others. With his newfound power, he was more worried about having the wisdom to judge his people fairly than he was worried about accumulating wealth or honor. And here, we see that God was true to His word: He gave Solomon what he asked for... and everything he didn’t ask for.

God doesn't get what He wants by force.

God doesn't get what He wants by force.

2 SAMUEL 4

What made Rekab and Baanah think that David would rejoice over their murder of Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth? Didn’t they remember how David reacted to the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul? In their zeal to secure the throne for David, they did something very foolish... and paid for it with their own lives.

God works in unexpected ways.

God works in unexpected ways.

2 SAMUEL 2

So, now that Saul is dead, it’s time for David to ascend to the throne of Israel, right? He even asks the Lord what the next step is, and the Lord tells him to go to Hebron (vs 1). David has been waiting so long... you can almost sense his relief and enthusiasm as he addresses the men who had been loyal to Saul and praises them for all their service to the Lord’s anointed.

Underdogs {gn48}

Photo © Unsplash/Matthew Henry

Photo © Unsplash/Matthew Henry

The last shall be first,
and the first, last.

If Jesus was praised by any
for uttering such
revolutionary ideas,
they unwittingly
exposed
their own ignorance
of Scripture.

The dance of the
last and the first
didn't begin in the Gospels.
It began in Genesis with
the subtle passing over
of the older for the younger,
the giving way
of the greater to the lesser.

Isaac and Ishmael.
Jacob and Esau.
Joseph and his older brothers.
Ephraim and Manasseh.

God must love
a good heel turn.
Blessed are the underdogs,
for they shall
have the last bark.

 

God will take care of us.

God will take care of us.

1 SAMUEL 26

David was God’s anointed man for king. The problem? There was already another man in that position. The "logical" thing for David to do would have been to figure out how to get Saul off the throne. After all, as long as Saul was still king, David couldn’t assume his rightful position as God’s anointed. And I wonder what thoughts and emotions must have run through David’s mind as the saga with Saul dragged on and on and on.

God does not retaliate.

God does not retaliate.

1 SAMUEL 24

In this chapter, we see a beautiful picture of God shining through David, the one who was later called "the man after God’s own heart." David has been on the run from Saul for a very long time. Then, suddenly, in a reversal of fortune, Saul enters a cave where David and his men are hiding. David could have easily ambushed Saul; instead, he cut off the corner of his robe. (And even that got to his conscience later on.)