Getting What You Ask For

“Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them”. 1 Samuel 8:1-22  I remember when I was young, for months my sister and I talked my mother in to buying Lucky Charms cereal. She knew we wouldn’t like but we were so certain that it was the cereal we wanted. She finally gave in and bought the cereal. We both hated it. The cereal sat until it went stale. There’s an old saying “Be careful of what you ask for – you just might get it.” The people of Israel wanted a king. Samuel knew it to be a bad idea, but after conferring with God Samuel anoints Saul. True to God’s warnings, Saul’s kinship was a disappointment. The people of Israel wanted a king because they wanted to be like other nations. The problem was that they weren’t like other nations, they were anointed. Through Christ we too are anointed, protected and cared for by the one true King who gives the desires of our heart, even sometimes, when our heart is misguided. We may forget that God is King, he never forgets that we are his anointed.

When they were few in number, 
of little account, and sojourners in the land,
   Wandering from nation to nation 
and from one kingdom to another,
   He let no one oppress them 
and rebuked kings for their sake,
   Saying, “Do not touch my anointed 
and do my prophets no harm.”      Psalm 105:12-15

I’m Not Special

The righteousness of your decrees is everlasting; grant me understanding, that I may live. Psalm 119: 144  Once I started a new job and for days I asked God for mercy that I may make it through; that my days would be light and without issue. Initially the mercy I asked for was granted. Then one day someone complained about my work and I asked God, “What happened to the mercy?” After a while, things neither got better or worse. Even though the work was hard and ultimately it wasn’t what I wanted to do, I had settled in to the job along with everyone else.  I realized in this situation I wasn’t special. We were all deserving of mercy. The job was what it was; some days light and some days heavy. It changed from day to day. God had no more taken the mercy from me than he did from anyone else. I stopped asking for mercy and began to thank God for giving me strength and the strength of my co-workers.

Been There

Understand …He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath. Psalm 94:8-11 I am reminded that as a child it never dawned on me that the infinite wisdom my mother shared with me, concerning puberty, peer pressure and relationships, was coming from experience. As I grow in to my own spirituality I understand more and more of God’s understanding of me. Futile thoughts cause us to forget this. Rest assured, where ever we are, God’s been there. He knows us and has plans for us.

Clear Paths

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  Isaiah 40-1-11 Sometimes what we see are clouds but the rains that break through actually waters the earth preparing it for new growth. Receiving it with an open heart will clear a path for the brightness of the sun that is waiting to shine on our faces with the renewed life of Christ within us; strengthened for the journey ahead. Don’t ever stop listening for the voice!

OPA – Other Peoples Agenda

“Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:19-26 I heard a conversation from some young ladies about how their boss treated everyone as if they could be replaced. While I understood their frustration the unfortunate reality is that it was true. Their bosses agenda doesn’t have to be their agenda. Just do the work they were hired to do and you don’t get replaced. Keeping in mind that we don’t always get to work in the best environments. Whatever we do, our work, is always done for the glory of God. In this way what we do becomes a ministry in which God’s favor and grace falls on us for our faithfulness in his desire to see us through the situation. That’s God’s agenda!

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Don’t Size Me Up

“If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him… Luke 7:36-50  When Jesus said “I know my own and my own no me” It was people like this woman with her alabaster jar, to which he was referring. Jesus didn’t need to be a prophet to know who she was, what kind of woman she was, from where she’d come, or what she’d done or had done to her, which caused her to seek him out that day! And by her actions a prophet certainly wasn’t what she needed. What she needed was healing. What she needed was freedom from the bondage of the Law. What she needed was access, protection, salvation and ultimately what she needed was forgiveness. Jesus, knowing her, isn’t concerned with who she was before she pours out her story with that alabaster jar. That’s the good news about Christ! Before we get to the place of the woman with the alabaster jar, Jesus already knows who we are and receives us anyway. Under ordinary human circumstance what we know about others causes us to turn away from one another and we end relationships before they have a chance to begin. God’s knowledge of us is only the beginning, the foundation and the core of our relationship with him. Every time we find ourselves sizing up one another we do well to remember that only God knows the plans he has for each of us none of which is based on the mistakes or even successes of the past. Because, just like the woman and the alabaster jar, it’s what we do today in the name of Christ that really matters. What”s in your alabaster jar. Maybe today it’s time to pour out your testimony. God is waiting to receive you too.

Featured image; Painting by benedict edet©

Who’s In Your Ear?

You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Luke 19:11-27 I’ve always found the parable of the ten pounds a bit odd. The nobleman that no one likes is actually quite generous with his money and his trust in ten of his slaves, with the expectation that they will do right by the gift. One of them however is simply afraid and chooses to do nothing. He ultimately ends up paying a heavy price for what he believes to know about the nobleman based on what the other citizens of the country have said against the nobleman. So many times I have hindered myself with fear because of what I thought I knew based on what someone else believed. Many people speak against God when in fact he has been quite generous with the gift of his son Jesus Christ, redemption, salvation, forgiveness, everlasting love and the Gospel. These are the things we ultimately have to remember when other people are in our ear telling us what is contrary to the truth. Regardless of what other people may say, God has given each of us a gift that we can use for his glory. Even in fear he encourages us to be faithful; to love not hate, wish well and not begrudge, build up and not tear down.

Good News – Priceless

Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.  Matthew 10:7:16  The Gospel can’t be bought or bartered! It has already been paid for and lived out by Christ and is today upheld by the Spirit of the Living God. Sharing the Gospel with others has its own reward. We don’t need gold or silver because when received, good news from the heart, is in many ways, a prayer that is answered.

As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Matthew 10:7-16