God's way

God reveals our hearts.

God reveals our hearts.

Ezra 4

I was recently discussing the topic of The Judgment with some friends. I think this is a widely misunderstood concept. I believe that when most people think of The Judgment, they envision some sort of heavenly court where we are each going to stand before God and hear Him pronounce a verdict about us. Are we wicked? Are we righteous? He will make His decision and bang His gavel, and that will be that.

Temple Tailor {ex26}

exodus-sanctuary-temple-tailor-poem.png

Measurements specified
down to the inch—
linen curtains
crossbars
acacia-wood frames

Accessories requiring
a wealth of resource—
bronze clasps and
gold hooks and
loops of blue yarn

When God sets out
to build Himself
a temple,
He leaves
no corner untouched,
no detail unplanned.

We so casually declare
our bodies to be
the temples
of this Holy Spiriting God
while intending
to satisfy Him with
our present accommodation.

Take note:
the God who deigns
to live in you
is not planning to
make Himself
at home.

He is planning to
make Himself
a home.

 

God reasons with us.

God reasons with us.

2 Chronicles 36

I probably should have titled this blog God reasons with us (or at least He tries to). That was the story with this last chapter of 2 Chronicles. We finally got to the end of the history of Israelite kings, and it reminded me of a tailspin... right down into Babylonian captivity.

God is orderly.

God is orderly.

2 Chronicles 35

As a church musician, I have always been intrigued with the somewhat-common idea (amongst musicians especially) that letting the Holy Spirit work means preparing very little (or not at all) ahead of time. Have you ever encountered that attitude? I actually worked with a group of musicians once who steadfastly refused to rehearse in the belief that leaving themselves totally open "in the moment" would allow the Holy Spirit to control and direct all their music.

God puts His heart into His work.

God puts His heart into His work.

2 Chronicles 31

Today’s blog will center around the last verse of this chapter: "In everything that [Hezekiah] undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered." (vs 21) This is the key to prosperity and success in God’s universe—working for God with your whole heart, no matter what you do. This is what God does.

God doesn't always protect us.

God doesn't always protect us.

2 Chronicles 24

I heard a very good sermon recently about how God sometimes protects us in an ultimate, eternal sense by not protecting us physically in the here and now. This, of course, can be a very difficult concept for us to understand and grasp. We tend to want that "instant gratification" sort of protection, and quite often, we’re shocked and grieved when we don’t get it.

God dethrones evil.

God dethrones evil.

2 Chronicles 23

The wicked queen Athaliah had ruled over Judah for six years, and I bet it was an awful six years. Just imagine living in a land where the person in charge had arrived at that position by murdering her own family. If she could treat her own relatives with such cold brutality, how do you think she would treat strangers? The fact that "all the people of the land rejoiced" after Athaliah was killed would suggest that they were very happy to be out from under her thumb.

God's power structure is based on submission.

God's power structure is based on submission.

2 Chronicles 21

Over the last several chapters of 2 Chronicles, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. See if you can spot it in this passage from today’s chapter: "Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time, because Jehoram had forsaken the Lord, the God of his ancestors." (vs 5-6, 8, 10)

God knows what to do.

God knows what to do.

2 Chronicles 20

This chapter contains what has to be one of the most moving expressions of trust in God to be found in the Bible, contained in the middle of Jehoshaphat’s prayer: "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you [God] would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." (vs 10-12)

God needs you.

God needs you.

2 Chronicles 17

One thing I noted about this chapter was the number of devoted people who were in Judah at the time. King Jehoshaphat was, of course, devoted to the Lord. The text points out that he even "removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah." (vs 6) Then there were the Levites who traveled through the nation, teaching the people about God from the Book of the Law. And then, toward the end of the chapter, there was mention of all the fighting men who surrounded the king, including "Amasiah son of Zikri, who volunteered himself for the service of the Lord." (vs 16)

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.

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)

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.