Close the gap

For thousands of years there have been gaps between generations. The younger ones always assume that the older ones have never gone through what they’re going through. They’re all alone in their experiences with no one to guide them through it. But if every generation feels that way, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they actually know exactly how you feel?

My younger friends poke fun at me all the time because most of my social circle is made up of women at least twice my age. While one can’t help but see age when you’re looking at wrinkles and white hair, I see more. I see myself surrounded by people who have lived. They’ve experienced. They’ve learned so much more than I have and possibly ever will. Each person has a different life experience, but we can learn from all of them. When I’m sitting in a room full of old ladies and spinning wheels, I’m in a room full of centuries of lessons learned. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of them.

A long time ago, there was a young king who failed to see the wisdom in listening to the counsel of his elders.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his life time. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “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.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

1 Kings 12:6-8 (NIV)

Rehoboam, a young king, foolishly rejected the counsel of the men who had advised his father, Solomon. He chose not to follow the words of the men who had worked closest to the wisest man to ever live. Instead, he chose to take the advice of his buddies—probably as excited as Rehoboam to flex this newfound power.

If you are of a younger generation, do not scorn the advice of your elders. They may not have lived through the exact thing you are living through right now, but they have lived. Some things don’t have to be experienced directly for wisdom to be gained. Spend time with, listen to, and ask questions of those who have lived longer than you.

If you are of an older generation, don’t write off the kids and young punks. If you don’t teach them, who will? It is the responsibility of every generation to teach and train the ones to follow. The simple fact that you have lived means that you have something to give. So give it. Keep communication open between you and those younger than you. You may even learn something yourself.

Read: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 24:36-53

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

First

What’s the first thing a ruler does when he/she comes into power? They make sure that everyone knows who’s the boss. They make statements and interviews. They get on the cover of as many newspapers and magazines as possible. Social media lights up with their feeds. Back in the day, they built statues, commissioned art, and distributed propaganda. They let the world know who they are.

Solomon was the first king in Israel to inherit the throne. Through a series of rather unfortunate events, many of his brothers did not outlive their father. Solomon, however, grew into adulthood and was even given the throne before David died. We know that he was a wise man. When God offered to grant him anything, he asked for wisdom above all else. A wise move for a man claiming to need more wisdom. So when Solomon took over the throne with the wealth of David behind him, he built himself a grand palace. But not before he built a temple for the Lord.

In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spend seven years building it.

It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.

1 Kings 6:38-7:1 (NIV)

Solomon had near endless resources at his disposal. He could have used them to cement his place as ruler of all Israel, but he instead chose to build a place of worship. He build a place to house the ark of the covenant. He made building a house for the Lord a priority over building a house for himself.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Solomon’s wealth is still spoken of today. So is his wisdom. So is the temple he built. Not so much his palace.

When we, like Solomon, make God’s kingdom and His house, a priority, God will ensure that everything else is taken care of. While his palace was grand, it was the temple that Solomon was remembered for.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Read: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38

30K Giveaway

Yesterday, I made an attempt to win $30,000 from a local radio station. For several weeks I’ve been listening half-interested for three specific songs played consecutively in a specific order. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would miss those three songs while I was at work or in a meeting or at church. That is, until I heard all three songs played consecutively in the correct order while I was on my way home from work. Once I pulled over (it’s not legal here to have a phone in your hands while driving), I dialed the number, several times, and was met with an automated voice each time telling me the number I had dialed was not available. I listened while another caller won the $30,000.

Then I got to thinking. What would I do with $30,000? As it turns out, $30,000 wouldn’t really last very long. With record high gas prices, I suppose I could fill up my car once or twice… While it would be great to be $30,000 wealthier, it wouldn’t really launch me into a new life.

In a dream, God gave Solomon a choice. A big choice. Ask me for anything. Anything. Solomon could have asked for all the riches in the world. He could have asked to conquer the world. He could have asked for the world. But he asked for wisdom.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “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 3:10-13 (NIV)

Like Solomon, we have been invited to make requests of God.

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 14:14 (NIV)

James then tells us what we should be asking for.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who give generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5 (NIV)

Sure, we could ask for health and wealth, but like the $30,000, where will that get us a month, a year, a decade from now? Because Solomon asked for wisdom, God gave him everything else. With wisdom comes the ability to make the choices to keep us healthy and make us wealthy.

Wisdom is in low supply. If what is perceived as wisdom is not coming from God, where then does it come from? We have the ability to ask for and receive wisdom, yet how many of us have actually taken advantage of that offer? Instead of asking God to rectify a situation, why not ask for the wisdom to fix it ourselves? Then the next time we find ourselves in a similar place, we’ll be able to repair it ourselves, or perhaps we won’t find ourselves there at all.

Like Solomon drew people from all over the known world, the world should be drawn to godly wisdom. But it has to exist to draw people. So go ahead, ask God. See if He doesn’t keep is word.

Read: 1 Kings 3-5, Luke 23:1-26

In conclusion

As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, some may be left with the idea that, since nothing seems to really matter, we should just live our lives in pursuit of personal pleasure.

“All is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NLT)

There’s nothing like a bit of encouragement from the Teacher (largely presumed to be Solomon) first thing in the morning. If everything still to come is meaningless (11:8), why bother trying to do good? Why should we help other people when we can help ourselves? Because it is our duty—not as Christians, but as human beings.

Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT)

As soon as someone tells me that I have to do something, I suddenly don’t want to do it whether it’s good or not. Words like fear and obey are often not see in the best of light and we tend to not want to comply when they’re thrust at us. If you’ve been following along in your daily Bible reading, though, you’ll have already come across hundreds of reasons why fearing God and obeying His commands are really good things.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom…

Proverbs 15:33 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge…

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord leads to life…

Proverbs 19:23 (NLT)

Life. Wisdom. Knowledge. Who doesn’t want those? We should fear the Lord. And not just out of duty, but because we want to.

And what about obedience?

Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT)

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

John 15:10 (NLT)

Joy! Love! We could go on all day about the benefits of fearing God and obeying His commands. It may be our duty, but it is also to our benefit to do so. If the wisest man who ever lived concluded that we should do these things, perhaps there’s something to it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

The former generation

“You don’t understand.”

“These are different times.”

“It’s not the same as it was for you.”

As young people, we probably all said this to an older person or two. If you’re not so young anymore, you’ve probably heard a phrase or two like this. There are a great many things that change with each generation, but what young people never seem to realise is that there are also a great many things that never change.

To some extent, we all want to feel as though we’re the only person who’s ever gone through what we’re going through. We want to be special. We want to be alone in the situation. If we admit that someone else may have gone through it before, it would mean we’d have to listen to that person and, suddenly, we’re not as special and unique as we thought we were.

Job, in his great trouble and misery has spent a lot of time complaining—and justly so! A few of his buddies came to try and talk some sense into him.

Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

This is kind of slap in the face to Job hearing a friend tell him to suck it up because he’s not the only person who’s ever lost everything. There were others. Learn from them.

I get made fun of a lot because the majority of my social circles include people at least two decades older than me. Most of my friends are old enough to be my parents, if not grandparents. As much as it would be nice to hang out with people my own age, I wouldn’t trade my friends for anything. When I sit in a room full of ladies who have lived full lives, I am surrounded with centuries of life experience. Anything I could possibly go through, one of those women has probably gone through it. Their generosity in how they are willing to share from their experiences often astounds me. There is so much to learn. And I don’t understand those who don’t see the benefit of sitting with and learning from someone older than they.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was one of those young people who refused to listen to the advice of the older generation. He scorned the advice of his father’s advisors and listened to his young friends instead. His legacy was much less than that of his father’s.

But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 12:14 (NLT)

Don’t allow yourself to go through life believing that there is nothing to be learned from generations passed. If you are young, seek the wisdom of the old. If you are old, don’t be stingy with sharing your experience.

Times may change, but wise council does not. This world may be full of knowledge, but it is lacking in wisdom. We must all be willing to both seek and share wisdom if we are going to see change.

Daily Bible reading: Job 7-9, Acts 7:44-60

Be strong

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.”

1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

We, the Church, have the great task of building the Kingdom of God. We are to go into all the world preaching the Gospel and making disciples of all nations. That is a sizeable task. It can be daunting if we take the entire work upon ourselves as individuals or even individual churches.

But it is not our responsibility alone. While we should feel a great sense of responsibility to carry out the Great Commission, the pressure to complete it does not rest on any one individual, but the Church as a whole.

Jesus said that he would build his Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. If he promised it, he will perform it.

Like David instructing Solomon on building the Temple, Jesus instructed us on building the Church. David’s words to his son are as applicable to us in our endeavour to build the Kingdom of God as they were to Solomon in his to build the Temple.

We must be strong and courageous, and do the work. God is with us. He won’t fail us. He won’t forsake us. He has called us to work with Him and will equip us with all we need to complete the task as we need it.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 28-29, John 11:47-57

Plant or water

David had begun to make plans to build a great temple to house the presence of the Lord. He wanted to honour God and give Him a permanent residence just like God had given Israel a permanent residence in their own land. But David would not be the one to make his plans a reality. The prophet Nathan reported to the king that it was not his job to build the temple, but that task belonged to one of his sons.

David had a couple of ways he could have responded here. He could have thrown a tantrum and built the temple anyway. He was the man after God’s own heart, after all. Why shouldn’t he be the one to build it? David was the one who’d made all the plans. It was his temple.

Another option—the one he chose—was humility. Rather than be disappointed that he wouldn’t be the one to build this grand structure honour his God, David rejoiced that God had chosen his lineage to be established forever.

Then King David went and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, O God, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving me a lasting dynasty! You speak as you I were someone very great, O Lord God!”

1 Chronicles 17:16-17 (NLT)

David understood that there was far greater glory in what God would provide than anything he could accomplish on his own. He understood that the plans were as important as the building. He understood that there is a much importance in the planting as there is in the watering and harvesting.

The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

1 Corinthians 3:8 (NLT)

While David would not build the temple, he left his son, Solomon, with everything he would need to complete the task. Both David’s obedience and Solomon’s diligence were rewarded.

God may have given you some grand plans, but not the go-ahead to accomplish them. Don’t let that get you down! There is honour and reward to be had every step of the way. While you may be the one to plant the seeds, another may be called to water and yet another to harvest. Your job is to be obedient in what God has called you to do no matter what step He’s called you to.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 17-19, John 10:1-21

 

Engines

Let me start by saying that I am no Bible scholar. I’ve been to Bible school and I read my Bible. I love history and archaeology. I love learning. Today I learned something new.

I’ve heard it said and even said myself, that Christians should be at the forefront of science, industry, and creativity. We should be the ones paving the way with new discoveries, inventions, and art. There also seems to be a direct correlation between faithfulness and invention. What does being faithful have to do with any of that? Everything.

When God’s people are close to Him, He blesses them. It’s that simple. If you think about it, it is not difficult to imagine that the closer we are to the Creator of all things, the more creative we will be.

King Uzziah was close to God.

He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.

2 Chronicles 26:5 (ESV)

Do you think he prospered like magic? Or perhaps God gave him ideas on how to more efficiently govern? We know that Solomon was considered to be the wisest man to ever live. He was also the richest. God made him wise. His wisdom made him rich.

In the account of Uzziah in Kings, we don’t see much. He lived. He got leprosy. He died. But in 2 Chronicles, there’s one verse that leaped out at me.

In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.

2 Chronicles 26:15 (ESV)

He made what? Engines. Some translations say machines. Now, of course I had to check this out. In the Hebrew, the words used to describe these devices is vague. Almost as though the writer wasn’t even sure of what he was describing. Loosely translated, they were inventions made by inventions of inventors. So we can assume that these engines were not common. But what were they? Trebuchets? Catapults? Uzziah reigned several hundred years before catapults became mentioned in history. Some theorise that there were spaces on the tower for archers and people to drop “murder rocks” on unsuspecting foes.

Take what you will from this little history lesson. I choose to believe that, in his faithfulness in serving God, God blessed him with the wisdom to reign and the ideas to reign well – including mechanisms for defence. After all, 2 Chronicles said that Uzziah was marvelously helped, till he was strong.

So what is my point exactly? My point is this: as long as Uzziah sought God, God made him prosper. What revolutionary ideas does God want to give you? How can you change the world you live in? Stop using the excuse that you’re “not a creative person”. God is The Creator and you were made in His image. You’re creative. Seek God. You never know what ideas He may supply you with.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 26-28: John 17

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