May the Force be with you

In honour of the fourth of May—what many have come to know as Star Wars Day, let’s talk about the Force.

The act of living generates a force field, an energy. That energy surrounds us; when we die, that energy joins with all the other energy. There is a giant mass of energy in the universe that has a good side and a bad side. We are part of the Force because we generate the power that makes the Force live. When we die, we become part of that Force, so we never really die, we continue as part of the Force.

George Lucas describing the Force.

In the Star Wars films, the general farewell between Jedi knights is, “May the Force be with you.” In Christian terms, “Go with God.” While George Lucas’ epic story between good and evil, light and dark isn’t a Christian story, it doesn’t mean that we can’t look at them through the filter of Word of God. We can liken the Force to the Holy Spirit. But rather than we become a part of it, the Spirit becomes a part of us.

When the construction of the temple was complete, Solomon dedicated the building to the glory of God. He goes on to bless the people of Israel.

Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.

1 Kings 8:56-61 (NIV)

In short, “May the force be with you.” Solomon’s prayer was like Yoda reminding Luke to trust the Force, to feel and see the Force in everything around him. Solomon encouraged Israel to remember who brought them to the place where they now stood and to fully commit themselves to the One who caused it all to happen.

Solomon’s prayer is one that we can pray for ourselves, our families, and our churches every day. Turn to God. Walk in His ways. Keep His commands. Fully commit to the Lord. All of this is made possible through the aid of the Holy Spirit which was sent to us for that purpose. The Spirit, like the Force, is there for our benefit. He makes great power available to us and helps us to do that which we are called to do.

So go out, walk in God’s ways. Get yourself in tune with the Holy Spirit.

May the Force be with you.

Read: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56

Not in it

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” The Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was a such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

How often do we look for God in the storm, the quake, and the fire? He can and has appeared in those things, but He also comes in a gentle whisper. Too often, we get so caught up in watching for the big and loud that we completely miss out on the soft and quiet. On a daily basis, we’re so surrounded by sound we would never hear a whisper unless we were intent on doing so. Yet Elijah heard it—even after the noise of the storm, the quake, and the fire died down. With all that noise ringing in his ears, he would have had to be listening closely to hear the gentle whisper.

It wasn’t just that Elijah was listening for the whisper, he’d put himself in a place to do so. I’ve seen people stumble into church fifteen minutes late, frazzled by the effort it took just to get there, and then walk out in a huff because they didn’t get what they wanted from God.

Prior to the mountain, Elijah was on the run. Jezebel had made a solid threat to end his life, so he, like any other sane man, ran from the crazy lady. He planned to die in the wilderness, but God had other plans and sent an angel to feed him.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

1 Kings 19:7-8 (NLT)

Elijah’s mountaintop experience didn’t just happen. He wasn’t taking a scenic hike when God just decided to interrupt him. He was there on purpose. It took him forty days and forty nights to get there. We act like God should shower great blessings on us just because we managed to make it to church before the service ended and here, Elijah travelled for forty days and nights on two meals.

It doesn’t take any effort at all on God’s part to reach us no matter where we are, but I firmly believe that He is looking for great effort on our part to reach Him where He is. Our response to Him is often akin to Elijah had he politely declined the food and water the angel brought to him. No thanks, I’d rather die in the wilderness than eat this miraculous food because I know God will ask me to do something I’m probably not willing to put in the effort to do.

After forty days and nights of travelling, Elijah could have given up when God wasn’t in the the storm. He could have started back down the mountain when He wasn’t in the quake (be honest, would you stay on a mountaintop after an earthquake?). He could have seen the glow of the fire from a distance. And he would have missed the whisper entirely.

When we put in the effort we think is required of us to hear from God, our patience can often run thin. We get to where God wants us and then expect Him in the storm and check out because God was not in it. In reality, it is our hearts that are not in it.

In his weariness from the long journey, having almost been swept away by the storm, tossed down the mountain by the quake, and consumed by the fire, I’m sure the only thing Elijah could hear was his heart. Pounding in his ears. But he stayed where he was. Maybe he was frozen in fear and couldn’t move, but when God finally spoke, he was listening.

The next time you’re ready to walk away because you don’t see God in it, check your self. Make sure you are in it. Then wait. Listen closely for the sound of a gentle whisper.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 19-20, John 2

Grab it by the horns

If you’ve read through the first two chapters of 1 Kings, perhaps you were as confounded as I at the talk of grabbing the horns of the altar. This is an odd occurrence—one I had not seen before now. There are several references to it, so it was time to dig into the commentaries.

It appears from this and some other instances, that it was now become a custom among the Israelites, though by no divine law, to flee to the altar of the Lord, as to an asylum.

Benson Commentary

Image result for child hiding behindThis is the picture in my head. When we were kids, behind Mom was the safest place to be when the rest of my siblings were after me. Yes, I’ve just likened my mother’s skirts to the horns on the altar of the Lord.

While this practice wasn’t law, it was highly symbolic and, in many cases, effective. Like a kid running to a parent, by clinging to the horns of the altar, salvation may be found.

As soon as Adonijah discovered David was after him, he rushed to the sacred tent. Likewise with Joab. Now, I understand than neither of these men were spared—their evil deeds had already sealed their fate, but what if we, like them, ran to the sacred place when we are being chased by our enemies? What would happen if we ran to God instead of whining or complaining to family, friends, or Facebook? If we would only cling to the altar, perhaps we, too, could find salvation.

Unlike Adonijah and Joab, when we grab the horns of the altar, we will find salvation. Over and over, God has proclaimed Himself to be faithful if only will we come near to Him. Run to Him. Rush to Him. Grab on to Him and don’t let go. As much of a shield of protection as your mother’s skirts could be, the presence of God is so much more.

The next time you hear the phrase, grab life by the horns, keep this in mind. Be reminded that to hold on to God is to hold on to your salvation.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 1-2, Luke 22:54-71

Defeated

One of my favourite Old Testament stories growing up was that of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Truth be told, it’s still one of my favourites.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a little back story: Israel has had a long line of kings each one more evil than the last. The prophets of the Lord have gone into hiding and Elijah was nowhere to be found. The king of the day, Ahab, had married an evil woman, Jezebel, and built her temples and altars for her pagan gods. Israel had turned completely from God.

At the word of God, Elijah makes his return to the king and seeks audience with him. The land has been taken by severe drought and the prophets of Baal have had no success in bringing the much-needed rain. Elijah requests that the pagan prophets be gathered for a contest of sorts.

Once everyone has gathered on Mount Carmel, Elijah lays the ground rules. The prophets of Baal will build an altar and slaughter a bull.Without setting fire to the altar, they will pray that their god consume the offering. Elijah is to do the same.

The prophets of Baal get to work. They shout and call out to their god and cut themselves until the ground around the altar is muddy with blood. At this point, Elijah is obviously amused. He calls out to them and suggests that their god may be on vacation or perhaps taking his time on the toilet. The prophets of Baal pray harder with no result.

Elijah’s turn. He rebuilds the altar to God with twelve stones – one for each tribe of Israel. He sets wood and the slaughtered bull on it. Then he digs a trench. Then he drenches the whole thing with water. Three times. The sacrifice is thoroughly soaked.

Elijah offers a simple prayer:

O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.

1 Kings 18:36b-37 (ESV)

Fire came down and not only consumed the wood and the bull, but the entire altar and all the water that had been poured on it.

I love that God came in an all-consuming fire. He proved himself to Israel yet again just like He had been doing for centuries.

I sometimes find myself wishing that God would show himself like that again. And then I wonder what the response would be. I doubt it would be met with an entire nation turning to Him. People would be sceptical and assume it to be some sort of trick or hoax.

How then, does God show himself in our generation? What do we have that Israel did not? We have the Holy Spirit living in us. That very same power that brought fire down from Heaven is available to us all the time. Yet we often choose to ignore it and continue to pray for fire much like the prophets of Baal.

If we changed our prayer from the constant pleading for signs and just asked God to show himself real to us in a single moment, how many more people would turn to Him? If we simply obeyed the Word of God and allowed Him to work through us as Elijah did, I imagine we’d me more effective in our own lives and in drawing others to God.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 16-18, John 1:29-51

For the sake of my servant

Do you ever take the time to wonder how your actions will affect the next generation? I’m going to hazard a guess and say not much. Those with children may think about it a little more often than those of us without.

Did you know that blessing and curses are generational? They don’t end when you end, they keep going.

Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.

1 Kings 11: 12 (ESV)

This phrase repeats itself through the rest of the chapter. Because of David. For the sake of my servant David. Because of David’s heart toward God, his offspring was spared further down the road long after he was gone. The affect of his loyalty to God was felt centuries after his death. God honoured David’s line because of David.

The end result: Jesus. Because of one man’s faithfulness, God was able to bring forth a saviour.

What will your legacy be? Will generations after you be blessed because you are faithful?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 10-11; Luke 24:1-35

Not one word

Blessed be the Lord who had given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.

1 Kings 8:56 (ESV)

I wish I could say that none of my words had ever failed. But, I’m human. I can’t. My words fail. My words fail more than I’d like to admit.

Do you ever find yourself comparing God to human standards? You know you fail and you know those around you fail so you just assume that God does, too.

He doesn’t fail. Ever.

How do I know that God never fails?

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:8 (NCV)

 

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:8a (NKJV)

God is love. Love never fails. God never fails.

The next time your tempted to compare God to your own standards, take a moment to reflect on these verses. Just as Solomon declared that all God had promised to Moses came to pass, all God has declared over us already has or will come to pass.

Remember, just because people have let you down doesn’t mean that God will.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9; Luke 23:39-56