Monday, May 30, 2016



[Paianting of King Solomon]

So God said to him [Solomon],
“Since you have asked for this and not
for long life or wealth for yourself, nor
have asked for the death of your enemies
but for discernment in administering
justice, I will do what you have asked.
I will give you a wise and discerning
heart, so that there will never have
been anyone like you, nor will there
ever be. Moreover, I will
give you what you have not asked
for—both riches and honor—
so that in your lifetime you will
have no equal among kings.”
—1 Kings 3:11-13

Solomon began his reign as king with a humble heart. He was seemingly aware of his own frailty and the enormity of the position which his father, David, had left him.

The Lord had appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him to ask for whatever he wanted from God. This sounds so much like the “genie in the bottle” theme of three wishes. But, it’s not.

God seriously wanted Solomon to take on this new task of king with all the resources that he needed. And, in order to rule well, Solomon asked for a discerning and wise heart. The Scripture says that this pleased God. So, God fulfilled His promise and gave Solomon the discernment and wisdom for which he had asked.

Then, right in the middle of God’s response to Solomon’s request, we see the word, Moreover. Far beyond what Solomon had asked, God added riches and honor to the gifts He gave Solomon that day. Now Solomon would be able to showcase the glory and splendor of his God to the whole world.

You see, God gives abundance to His children, to those He knows have the right heart attitude and will use the gifts He gives them for His glory. So, it is no surprise that when Solomon chose to ask for qualities that would help him rule justly, God gave Him those qualities and also showered Solomon with even more.

But, what about us? Should we expect the same abundant gifts that God gave Solomon? Not necessarily, but we can expect Him to give us an abundance of His grace, which comes in a multitude of ways to His dearly loved children.

In Jesus’ teaching about Himself as the Good Shepherd, He states in John 10:10:

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly].

Much like the plain and simple water that Jesus turned into a splendid and special wine at the wedding at Cana, God intends to turn the ordinary things for which we ask Him into blessings we can give back and manifest His glory. He will always be known as the God of Moreover—the God of abundance and lavish blessing.

Let’s look at our lives and our prayers through the eyes of Solomon and through the eyes of those people at the wedding at Cana. What “above and beyond” blessings has God given to us on top of those things for which we have asked? Then, let’s praise Him and glorify Him through all He has given to us!



Monday, May 23, 2016

Shut Up!


[Photo of a woman covering her mouth]

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good
for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—
one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
(He did not know what to say, they were so
frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and
enveloped them, and a voice came from the
cloud: “This is my Son, who I love. Listen to him!”
—Mark 9:5-7

I love Peter! Impetuous, he always wanted to help. And sometimes, he spoke without doing much thinking. Maybe we today, eager to please God, speak out entirely too often or too soon.

The scene of the Transfiguration almost makes us laugh. Three frightened fishermen, two patriarchs of the Faith, and the Son of God meet on a mountain. Jesus was clearly the star of the moment with dazzling clothes, brilliant on which to look. This was the sight Moses longed to see when he walked the earth. God told Moses he would never look on His face. But now, Jesus made that possible.

This moment deserved the kind of “fall on your face” worship that Isaiah gave to the Lord in his vision of the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, with the train of his robe filling the temple from Isaiah 6:1. Instead Peter began babbling about building huts to live in!

Sometimes when we don’t know what to say, wisdom would dictate we say nothing! Sometimes we attend worship services like this, too. Our minds race ninety miles an hour thinking of tasks to be done, people to talk to, or ideas to help in some situation that has developed. We do not take the time to be quiet before God and listen.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 gives us sound advice.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.

Teachers of elementary students (and parents) know that excited children often prattle about nothing when they are excited. They do not want to sit still. They do not want to listen. We act much the same way before God and we need to repent and change our response to Him.

Unlike Peter, we need to take the time to rehearse in our minds Who we worship and Who we serve. We need to allow those thoughts to humble us in such a way that we bow in humility and wait on Him to speak to us.

We should listen to His voice in the Scripture, in prayer, in songs, and in the nature He has created. Once we have heard His voice and see Him high and lifted up, only then can we respond in true worship and have anything to say to Him.



Monday, May 16, 2016

A Place at the Table


[Photo of a single table setting]

“Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem,
because he always ate at the king’s
table, and he was crippled in both feet.”
—2 Samuel 9:13

Have you ever arrived late at a large party or reception wondering where you will sit, only to find someone you know waving a hand in your direction and inviting you to a place near them? I admit to having experienced this moment of discomfort, and then immediate relief. What a blessed relief to know I had a place to “belong.”

In King David’s day, he wanted to remember his good friend Jonathan, who at various times had intervened to save David’s life from Jonathan’s father King Saul. Jonathan, humble and with no designs on a future as king himself, had given his full allegiance as a true friend to David.

Upon his death, and that of Saul, David asked whom he might honor of Saul’s family. When introduced to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, David immediately bestowed on him the royal treatment. And, David promised to continue this treatment for the rest of Mephibosheth’s life. David was offering Mephibosheth a place of belonging at the table of the king—a place of great intimacy.

When God looks at us, he sees friends of Jesus. And, because of Jesus—not for who we are of what we might have done—God finds a forever place for us at His table.

Here’s how the authors of one book described this amazing gift:

When we walk into the crowded excitement of the wedding feast of the Lamb, with the sound of a thousand conversations, laughter and music, the clinking of glasses, and one more time our heart leaps with the hope that we might be let into the sacred circle, we will not be disappointed. We’ll be welcomed to the table by our Lover himself. No one will have to scramble to find another chair, to make room for us at the end of the table, or rustle up a place setting. There will be a seat with our name on it, help open at Jesus’ command for us and no other. 1

No doubt Mephibosheth had physical features like those of his father’s that reminded David every day why this poor, disabled soul sat at his table. It was because of David’s love for Jonathan. And because, through faith, we carry the resemblance of Jesus, God the Father saves us a place at His table.

If we have accepted the covering of our sins through faith in Christ, we can be assured of a forever place there—a place of belonging through no merit of our own. Praise His holy name!


1 Curtis, Brent and Eldredge, John. The Sacred Romance. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997. Pp. 182-183.



Monday, May 9, 2016



[Photo of a hand gathering manna]

“These [all creatures] look to you to
give them their food at the proper time. When
you give it to them, they gather it up; when you
open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. ”
—Psalm 104:27-28

I usually buy groceries once a week. We, in America, generally like to “stock up,” so that we can feel sure we won’t run out of anything. Some like to visit the warehouse food stores to save money by buying in bulk. Some people even stock freeze-dried food and have large underground shelters full of provisions for any upcoming catastrophe.

Contrast all of this with the Israelites that trekked across the wilderness for 40 years. Not only did they not have room for stock piles of food, they had no food to store. They literally lived hand to mouth. Every day they went out. Exodus 16:4, 12 tells us:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions… In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

I’ve come to realize that our Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus, wants us to come to Him daily for the provisions we need for the day. We can’t “stock up” for the future. We must come often.

When we gather physical food, we provide ourselves with all the nutrients we need for good health. We get calcium, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals of every kind—all to strengthen us for the day. Not only that, God gives us the capacity to enjoy our food with various tastes and smells.

Just so, we also need to come to our Lord for the spiritual food for each day. He has all the nutrients we need: strength, grace, peace, guidance, help, and much more. Along with those, He gives us the capacity to enjoy His provisions. Just as the frosting on a dessert blesses us with delight, His joy comes as a spiritual frosting on top of the other spiritual blessings He so lovingly provides.

God tests us to see if we can trust Him for our daily food. He will not give us grace for those future days we tend to worry about. But, He will grant us all we can gather up each morning.

Please join me, as we use our imaginations every morning, whenever we gather the abundant provision God has for us. And, in the evening, let us enjoy the remembrance of the tasty day He has afforded us!



Monday, May 2, 2016

Stop the World!


[Photo of a woman crying]

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would flee far away and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
—Psalm 55:6-8

I remember seeing the musical, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off! when I was a high school student.

The show focuses on Littlechap, from the moment of his birth to his death. Each time something unsatisfactory happens, he calls out 'Stop the world!' and addresses the audience…He allows his growing dissatisfaction with his existence to lead him into the arms of various women in his business travels as he searches for something better than he has. He becomes rich and successful, and is elected to public office. Only in his old age does he realize that what he always had—the love of his wife— was more than enough to sustain him.1

Littlechap’s life could be summed up in the phrase, “The grass is always greener…” He could never be satisfied, nor could he completely rid his life of troubles. Neither can we!

For example, King David came under frequent attack from Saul and his armies. He called out to God over the anguish, fear, insults and abuse he suffered from the hands of his enemies.

All of us have times in our lives when we feel we can no longer cope, when the troubles have piled up to such a degree that our strength is sapped and our faith weakened. We cry with King David, “Oh, that I had wings that could carry me away!” Yet, in Psalm 55, David demonstrates to us the proper response to this kind of agonizing trouble.

King David calls out to God, listing the complaints he has. He reaffirms his knowledge of God’s ability to see his suffering. He rehearses God’s character, His love, His care. And, then, David recommits himself to God’s care. To us, in Psalm 55:22, he says:

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

When we feel we can no longer “hang on,” when we have nothing in ourselves to help, and when we just want to “Stop the world,” we can have the assurance that God’s strength, His hope, His love, His mercy, His grace will never fail us. Our extremity is His opportunity!


1 Stop the World! I Want to Get Off! cited in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified March 19, 2016.