selflessness

God is secure.

God is secure.

Esther 3

My, my. What a startling portrait of insecurity in the third chapter of Esther: "When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes." (vs 5-6)

God makes personal sacrifices.

God makes personal sacrifices.

Nehemiah 11

Once the temple and the walls had been rebuilt, Jerusalem was in need of a population. But it seems like there weren’t too many people eager to live there. The beginning of chapter 11 tells us how the city was settled: "Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem." (vs 1-2)

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 is a song.

God is a song.

2 Chronicles 29

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on music. Particularly this verse: "Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the Lord began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel." (vs 27)

God's love is not passive.

God's love is not passive.

2 Chronicles 28

In this chapter, there is a wonderful example of God’s principle of returning good for evil, inspired by leaders of Ephraim who urged the people of Israel to release the captives from Judah they had defeated in battle: "'You must not bring those prisoners here,' they said, 'or we will be guilty before the Lord. Do you intend to add to our sin and guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel.' So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder in the presence of the officials and all the assembly. The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow Israelites at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria." (vs 13-15)

Dinner Guest {ex24:11}

Photo © CreationSwap/CreationSwap

Photo © CreationSwap/CreationSwap

What kind of God is this,
who issues an invitation
to a personal dinner,
an intimate feast?
Just a little get-together
for seventy of His
(I-hope-you'll-choose-to-be-My)
closest friends.

Indeed, one gets closer
as the courses proceed.
For this mountaintop banquet
was just the amuse-bouche on God's menu
of spiritual nourishment revelation.

None of those seventy elders
could have imagined
the truth about the God
who stood on the veranda of
brilliant blue lapis lazuli,

that His invitation
to feast with Him
would eventually become 
an invitation
to feast on Him,
that His offer of dinner
would soon be
an offering of Himself.

His body and blood,
our bread, our wine,
our life.

Has it not always been so?

 

God is beautiful on the inside.

God is beautiful on the inside.

2 Chronicles 3

All I saw in this chapter was gold, gold, gold. Gold on the floors, gold on the ceilings, gold on the walls. Gold, gold everywhere. It must have been something to walk into that dazzling temple, with every surface sparkling and shining. It must have been incredible to walk into the Most Holy Place (if you were the high priest) and see the wings of the sculptured cherubim spanning the room from wall to wall.

God is the greatest.

God is the greatest.

2 Chronicles 2

After Solomon became king, the first thing he set out to do was build a temple for God. As you might remember from the story in 1 Kings, Solomon enlisted the help of Hiram king of Tyre for building materials and skilled craftsmen. He wanted the temple to be the most glorious, most elaborate sanctuary ever built for a god on the face of the Earth—and indeed it was.

God exalts others.

God exalts others.

1 Chronicles 29

1 Chronicles 29 recounts the story of David’s "passing the baton" to his son Solomon. In his final speech, he challenged Solomon and the people to remain true to the Lord, and then there was a large celebration with music, feasting, and joy. But tucked away into the description of the festivities was, I thought, a very important lesson about God.

God rules with service.

God rules with service.

1 Chronicles 11

What is, hires more. Have you ever heard that saying? Basically, it’s one way people comment on their bosses. Sometimes it’s a compliment. If you think you’re a brilliant person, you might say that your boss hired you because he is also brilliant. Or if you’re disappointed with the poor quality of your coworkers, you might say that only a lazy, stupid boss would hire lazy, stupid people. (Of course, you better be careful with that way of thinking if you work there, too.)

God uses the subtle witness.

God uses the subtle witness.

2 Kings 5

I had a hard time titling this blog. I knew exactly what I wanted to convey, but couldn’t really think of a good way to communicate it in a title. So, I hope by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll understand what I had in mind.

My thoughts about God and the subtle witness are based on two portions of this chapter. First, this: "Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, 'If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.'" (vs 2-3)

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'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 isn't above His own law.

God isn't above His own law.

1 Kings 2

Throughout history, there’s probably been at least one thing that set a king apart from his subjects: He didn’t have to abide by the same rules as his fellow citizens. That’s one of the "perks" of people in power—they tend to be (or at least see themselves as) above the law. They aren’t held to the same standard as everyone else.

God doesn't coddle His difficult children.

God doesn't coddle His difficult children.

1 Kings 1

Several years ago, I did some substitute teaching at a local school. Boy, had it been a long time since I was in elementary! It seemed that some things have certainly changed. The first day I subbed, I noticed that two children in the classroom were carrying what I can only describe as little, wireless keyboards. At the top was a small digital row where they could see what they were typing. When they were finished, they would print out what they had typed on a printer in the hallway. They would go to the printer, retrieve their assignment, and return to the classroom to hand it in.

God is not afraid to say the hard things.

God is not afraid to say the hard things.

2 SAMUEL 13

What a sad, sordid chapter. It’s hard to know where to begin. Amnon, eldest son of David, somehow got it in his head that he wanted to have sex with his half-sister, Tamar. Once she became aware of his desire, she begged him to make her his wife instead of just using her and throwing her away like a piece of trash. But he wouldn’t listen. He went ahead with his disgusting plan to rape her, and in the end, he "hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her." (vs 15)

God is a servant.

God is a servant.

2 SAMUEL 5

So, finally David is inaugurated as the new king of Israel. And something very short and simple in this chapter stuck out to me: "All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, 'We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, "You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler."'" (vs 1-2)

Radical Religion {gn45:7-8}

Photo © Unsplash/Joshua Earle

Photo © Unsplash/Joshua Earle

this—
this!
is what I
long for:

a faith so strong in God
that I could
dream the dreams
brave the slave auction
endure the dungeon
and not let the
power and
position and
prestige
go to my head

a life so lived for God
that I could
suddenly find him
incarnate in me
when I come face to face
with those who have done me
wrong

a joy so complete in God
that I could revel
in my power to save
the very ones
who had wanted me dead

a heart so close to God
that in every evil act
I could see
only his goodness

only his goodness

 

A Change of Heart {gn44:33-34}

Photo © Unsplash/Fadi Xd

Photo © Unsplash/Fadi Xd

as the years had come and gone
since selling Joseph like a pawn
Judah'd had a lot of time
to contemplate his clever crime

but watching how his father grieved
had been much worse than he'd conceived
it wore him down, right to the bone
he reaped much more than he had sown

until at last, a broken man,
he lived a different master plan:
a willingness to be the slave
to sacrifice, and thus to save

redemption needn't seem so strange
even dirty hearts can change