Monday, May 20, 2019
Saturday, May 18, 2019
1 Samuel 22:1-23:29
I had an interesting conversation the other day with a Christian sister who was vehemently opposed to the current administration, and was convinced the president was an evil person. She was afraid for the country. I told her I was afraid for the country as well (both this, my adopted home, and my first home), but for very different reasons. This led me to ask myself an old question: how big is my God?
If I indulged a feeling of despair at everything happening today, it would be like saying God didn't exist, or He couldn't do anything. That God would not be pretty small.
So instead I used to pray that God change things to how I thought they should be. Then I realized that if I had a better version of the world than God did, then that God would be pretty small too.
What I find difficult is living the conclusion I am led to: that God has dominion over all situations. That everything that happens, good or bad, He will have permitted. The death of the 85 priests in today's OT reading, at the hands of a sinner-king God had already decided to remove? The collapse of the fortunes of David, who went so very quickly from the insignificance of tending sheep to being the Lord's anointed and killing Goliath, only to fall right back down again, fleeing for his life and a rag-tag band of comrades? Yes, even the suffering of His Son at the hands of Pilate? As difficult as it is to accept, yes - all of this. God will have permitted.
What then is a big God? The God who can take David's fall from grace, the murder of the priests, even the suffering and death of His only Son, and turn what we see as inexplicable tragedies into unimaginable victories.
We don't know how He might do that. And our understanding is no prerequisite, even less so our approval. What's left to us is to choose: do we trust Him or not? Do we trust Him when we do not understand, when we cannot possibly imagine, how something might be good? How big is our God?
Friday, May 17, 2019
May 17, 2019
1 Samuel 20
Oprah Winfrey dedicated one of her TV shows to the struggles of widowers. She had 5 widowers talk about the loss of their wives and the importance of support groups for grieving people. Then as a show biz gimmick, they asked women to write in if they would want to go on a date with any of the men. What they didn't anticipate was that in one week they would receive 40,000 letters from interested women, children sending in photos of their moms, and whole classrooms championing their teachers.
My observation is first, that these men were popular because they were highly committed in their relationships and second, we live in an incredibly lonely world. The extent of loneliness in our society is epidemic today. Even though we are more connected than ever, we are lonelier than ever.
One of the reasons we are so lonely is because we don't know how to build friendships. There is no better example of friendship than Jonathan and David. It was an unlikely friendship because Jonathan was the heir to the throne. What made their friendship work was the ultimate friendship both men had with the living God. Without a first-hand knowledge of God, we won't have the strength to build friendships. Jesus said in John 7 that we have a thirst in our soul that only he can quench. From this satisfied heart, both men shared in common interests, made sacrifices for each other, encouraged one another, and did life together, opening up their hearts to the struggles they faced. As a result of their hard work in relationship building, they enjoyed one of life's greatest gifts- friendship.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
May 14, 2019
I Samuel 15-16, John 8:1-20, Psalms 110, Proverbs 16:8-10
Growing up my family didn't have a lot. We never needed for anything, but we also didn't have many luxuries. My mom stayed at home with my brother and I, and I remember there being right and frugal times (that I'm very thankful for.) I remember being in elementary school and on the way home we begged my mom for a doughnut (a luxury and treat) from Dunkin Doughnuts. She gave Lucas and I $2-$3 to buy ONE doughnut each. We were inside (as she waited in the car) and when we were getting ready to pay, the cashier informed me that we had enough to get 2 doughnuts each! Woo! Score! With out a second thought or doubt, I said YES! We returned to the car and I was very proud of the great deal we just got and we showed my mom our "victory" of the four treats. Her reaction was NOT what I expected. She was mad/frustrated/displeased with my decision. I didn't get it. She repeated to us that she told us just to get 1 doughnut each. I disobeyed... I took things into my own hands and did what I thought was best, and then showed it off to my mom.
Granted this is a somewhat innocent thing for a 8/9 year old to do. We weren't punished or anything like that, but whenever I pass that Dunkin Doughnuts, I still remember that scene from my childhood. I never understood the problem until much later, and it may not even be why my mom reacted that way. Maybe she didn't want us to have all that sugar, or it was before dinner, or maybe all the above.
Reading I Samuel 15 brought these memories back to me. Of course the scales are totally different, but what Samuel said to King Saul rang true to my doughnut-loving self. "What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22
God calls on us to be obedient. That is all he wants. Saul took matters into his own hands and he totally justified all he did. He was making his kingdom richer, was going to bring great sacrifices to God, and spared a great ruler (much like himself). He thought he was doing well, but was in total disobedience to what God commanded. Samuel's words are like a hot on the head: Obedience is better than sacrifice, or things, acts, the extra stuff we may do. We just need to listen and obey. Saul's actions came with grave consequences- he was rejected as king by God. I don't know what could be worse. Because of Sauls decision to disobey (even if intentions were good,) the course of Israel's history was altered and a new King would soon replace him...David.
The course of a nation was altered by a couple extra doughnuts being bought, but I will always remember that lesson- my decision, disobedience, and consequences, just knowing I didn't do the right thing. God calls us to obey his commands and trust in His sovereign plan.