Wise Enough to Know We are Not Wise Enough on Our Own

1 Kings 3 9

Yesterday, we looked at the relationship between King David and Bathsheba that led to the birth of Solomon.  When King David died, Solomon became king.  “Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” (2 Chronicles 1:1)

God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what he would most like to receive.  Solomon could have asked for remarkable good looks, great bravery in battle, a large loving family, or great riches.  However, Solomon instead asked for wisdom and knowledge.  God replied to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you.”  God was very pleased that Solomon chose wisdom as the gift he most wanted to receive from God.  So, He not only agreed to give Solomon wisdom, but He also said, “I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”  (2 Chronicles 1:11-12)   Later in that same chapter we read that Solomon had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses and that “he made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones”. God blessed Solomon not only with wisdom, but also with fame, riches and prestige.

Especially during the beginning of King Solomon’s reign, he used his great wisdom and discernment to help govern his people.  One such instance is recorded in 2 Kings 3:16-28.  Two prostitutes came before Solomon asking him to solve a dispute.  Both women claimed to be the mother of the same baby boy.  Solomon said he would cut the baby in two and give each woman half of the baby.  One woman quickly offered that the baby should be given to the other woman.  Solomon determined that the woman who was willing to give the baby up, rather than have him cut in half, must be the true mother for she loved the son too much to have him harmed.

Today you may be contemplating important plans for your future.  Maybe you are struggling with how to deal with a difficult person in your life.  Or possibly you are dealing with a family crisis. When you are faced with difficult choices in your life, how reassuring to know that the Creator of the universe can grant you the wisdom and discernment needed to make sound decisions.  Will you ask Him to? Will you search out the wisdom He has already shared with you in the Bible?

Jill McClain

Never Too Messy for God

INTRODUCTION to PROVERBS

1 Chronicles 22 9

Solomon, who is he and why should I know that name?  First, let’s review the salacious story that led up to the birth of Solomon.  It was Spring, a time when most of the kings in the land would go to battle, due to favorable weather conditions and plentiful food.  However, King David, decided for whatever reason to send his soldiers out to battle, but he himself stayed back in Jerusalem, which certainly went against the warrior king’s typical protocol.  On one of these fine Spring evenings, King David took a walk out on his roof top. As he was strolling around he gazed upon a beautiful woman bathing.  David inquired who the gorgeous bathing beauty was, and was told she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.  King David invited Bathsheba to join him in his bedroom….which lead to…..can you guess?  I’ll give you a hint.  A short time later Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant, with his child.

Upon hearing that Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, King David twice tried to convince Uriah, one of his fiercest warriors, to come home to be with his wife, hoping it would appear that Bathsheba had gotten pregnant by Uriah.  When both of those initial plans failed, David concocted an even more sinister scheme, this time to have Uriah killed.  King David ordered that Uriah be sent to the front line of the fiercest battle, and then instructed that the rest of the soldiers fall back, leaving Uriah alone to face the enemy.  Just as planned, Uriah met his untimely death in the battle that ensued. Following Uriah’s death, Bathsheba moved into David’s home and became his wife.

Not surprisingly, God was very displeased with David for taking Uriah’s wife and then sending him out to die.  David had to face the consequences of his sins.

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you (David) king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms.  I gave you all Israel and Judah.  And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?  You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.  You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now, there, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’  This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you.  Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.  You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” (2 Samuel 12:7-12)

After God delivered this message to David the child born to David and Bathsheba became ill.  David was full of remorse and pleaded with God for forgiveness and for his son’s life.  God forgave David, but his first son with Bathsheba died.

David and Bathsheba had a second son, and they named him Solomon.  Solomon means peaceful.  Solomon went on to become King and his reign was one of peace as foretold in I Chronicles 22:9, “But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side.  His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father.  And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” God loved Solomon and told the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah, which means beloved of Jehovah.

There may be consequences to pay for your sins, but if you seek forgiveness God can still work through your “mess” to accomplish great things. After all, from David and Bathsheba came Solomon.

-Jill McClain

 

(If you’ve been reading with us all year you know we have been working on reading and discussing one chapter of the New Testament everyday – with some FREE THEME days added in to round out the 365 days.  For the month of October we will be reading one chapter of Proverbs a day – the 1st chapter on the 1st of October, 2nd chapter on the 2nd, etc…  It’s a great book to help us all gain a lot of wisdom.  Then, in November we will cover the book of Revelation, and finish off the year with the last gospel we saved for December: Luke.  Keep reading His Word!)

Keep Running

FREE THEME

Hebrews 12 1 (2).png

 At our house, fall Saturdays (and several summer Saturdays, too) are all about cross country.  My son is a senior and has been running cross country since 6th grade. And this momma has grown to love watching the boys compete.  I wonder how much more our Heavenly Father loves to watch, encourage and cheer on His children who are giving it their all out on the course. 

Perhaps the writer of Hebrews was a runner himself, or had been to the games to cheer on his runner.  He wrote, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1). There are indeed so many parallels between the sweaty, tiring, exhilarating, physical sport of cross country racing and the spiritual race we are all in – for even when we are hunkered down, unmoving – the race is going on around us.  

First off – it is most important to know that the race isn’t just what is done on Saturday morning on the course.  It is all week long, all season long, all the training – effort – preparation – dedication – time – perseverance – discipline.  Likewise, if your spiritual race consists solely of an hour or two at church on Sunday morning, it will not be a very impressive race.  God desires more. The daily workouts – Bible reading. The high protein snack after a work-out – digging deeper into Scripture study. Hydrating daily throughout the week – prayer.  Avoiding the ice cream, pizza and pop – staying away from negative and harmful influences, entertainment and activities.  There are disciplines to follow to be a great runner – just as there are disciplines for being a follower of Jesus.  

Paul also got some good mileage from the racing metaphor.  He wrote to Timothy, “Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5)  On the cross country course it goes without saying that you actually have to run the assigned, mapped out race and follow the rules in order to compete.  Yet, in our spiritual race so many times we try to create our own course or our own rules.  

One thing I didn’t know about cross country 6 years ago was how much it is a team sport.  Sure, every runner wants to compete their best, finishing the race in a shorter time than before.  However, a team won’t win if they have just one or two top finishers. Their team score is compiled by what place their first 5 racers take – and the lowest score wins the meet.  So, it is in the best interest of every member on the team to run the best race they can – while at the same time helping and encouraging and motivating their pack of runners to finish well.  Similarly – the spiritual race is not an individual event. We are called to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25), look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4), build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), gently restore one caught in sin (Galatians 6:1), and of course, love (lots and lots of verses, including John 13:34).  How can you help a fellow runner better prepare for a strong race this week?

It’s God’s course – run it well according to His rules.  

Jesus makes an awesome coach – he’s run the race and knows what you need to succeed on the course of life.  Keep your eyes on him.  

Be disciplined – daily.  Your race requires dedication

Help your fellow runners.

 

Keep Running with Perseverance,

Marcia Railton

 

 

 

 

Growing Love

FREE THEME – Loving through Service

Matthew 22 39

This past week I went to Love Grows, a weekend youth retreat focused on growing your love for others through service. Throughout the weekend we were striving to follow Jesus’ teachings when he told us the two greatest commandments: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).  This is so important to live by daily. If we love God then we will love others. We need to express unconditional love to everyone, always. By doing this we can train ourselves to see God’s work that needs to be done. Ask God for courage to step out of your comfort zone to do His work. Thankfully, God has given us spiritual gifts, talents, and passions to serve those around us. So use them.  

 

One easy way to show love to others is to serve them. As Christians it’s our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Thankfully we can look to the best example of a servant’s heart. Jesus. The most exciting part is that there are so many different ways to shine and serve.  It could be as simple as giving someone a hug or a high five. Or even easier, smiling. Whatever it may be, take a minute of your time to invest in someone else’s life. Compliment. Listen. Encourage. It’s amazing how big of an impact a little kindness can have. We just have to keep our eyes open for opportunities. 

 

 I want strangers to be able to know that I am different. I want people to see God in me. And I hope you all have similar goals. The only hitch is that it has to be more than just a goal. We need to act in order to make it reality. We should make it a priority. Jesus called us to be different. Be the change. We have a higher calling. Higher standards. Higher expectations. Jesus is calling you to love. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Transforming your Mind

FREE THEME – Romans 12:9-21

romans 12 2 (1)

Every morning when I wake up I try to have my first thoughts be, “Thank you, God, for another day of life and the blessings you will give me today.” Unfortunately, often, my first thought is, “I have cancer” and I have a sinking feeling in my heart. I have to intentionally then redirect my thoughts to the first statement, put a smile on my face, remembering God’s goodness and mercy. I may have cancer, but God sent Jesus so I can be made right with him and live forever with him in his kingdom. That is worth far more than anything this life has to offer. 

But I have to keep reminding myself of this because the things of this life bring so much pleasure and that is what I know and want to keep knowing. I love my family, friends, church, God’s beautiful creation, vacations, sewing, art, … And it can go on. And now I am a grandmother as well! 

But even with these things that I love and know first hand, I don’t always appreciate or treat them in a way that would honor or please them or God. I have to be reminded again and again about having the right attitude, treating people right, and living intentionally. That is what Romans 12 helps us do.

 

Romans 12 is a chapter in the Bible that we as Christians would be wise to read every day. It reminds us of the practical, and yet profound, attitudes and actions we are to have in our relationship with God, fellow believers, and everyone we come in contact with. The following passage is verses 1-2 and then 9 and following. Read them carefully. 

 

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

  • “Let love be genuine. 
  • Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 
  • Love one another with brotherly affection. 
  • Outdo one another in showing honor. 
  • Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 
  • Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 
  • Live in harmony with one another. 
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. 
  • Never be wise in your own sight. 
  • Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
  • If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 
  • Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1-2, 9-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

You may not have to deal with all of these on any given day, but every day you will be faced with some of them. In keeping these instructions in our minds we will be ready when a situation faces us and we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, respond in a way that will please and honor our God and Maker. The bonus is that not only will the situation turn out better, but you will be happier, with an inner peace and joy, as you grow and mature into the person God has called you to be. 

Beth Mattison

Don’t Just Save Yourself

Deut 6 7

FREE THEME – The rest of the story in Deuteronomy 6

Yesterday we looked at the beginning of Deuteronomy 6 and saw God’s blueprint and purpose for spiritual education: God makes the rules and sends Moses to teach the people so that they will obey and receive God’s blessings.  God’s people need to be learners who study what is right and do it – not just once or twice – but continually.  Are they really God’s people if they don’t believe and act like it?  And how can they believe and act like it if they haven’t truly learned what God requires?  And, not just what others say God requires, for there are many who distort God’s Words and have not learned from Him.  God’s word needs to be a vital part of us – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” (Deuteronomy 6:6).   It is our connection to God Almighty.

But, it is not enough for you to be connected and learning.  Your next job – is to be a teacher.  For Moses continues, “Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ” (Deuteronomy 6:7).  It’s not enough for me, or for you, to be full of God’s Word – just for our own health and benefit and blessing.  It must be shared.  It must be passed on to others – and specifically to the next generation.  They need to know about the One true God.  They need to know about His love and faithfulness and also His requirements and even His anger.  They need to know about the blessings and curses He laid out for His children – so they can choose wisely.

Further along in Deuteronomy 6 Moses reiterates – be sure to follow God’s laws for your life so you will “do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you.” (6:18).  But, it’s not enough to save yourself.  In 6:20 we are to have an answer for our son (perhaps a teenager – or a college student) questioning why we live the way we do.  We are to tell about God’s goodness and faithfulness and the promises we have seen Him keep.

We see this over and over again in Scripture.  Learn – and teach.  Listen – and speak.  Live it – and Give it.  In Psalm 78 we read:

Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children,
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

The battle is real – and it is for the lives of our neighbors, our children, even the children yet to be born.

If your excuse is that you don’t know enough – see part 1 from yesterday – be a learner.  Get into God’s Word and then pass it on.  But don’t wait until you think you know everything (never) – start with what God teaches you today – and share it.  And don’t be surprised when you learn even more as you seek to share it with others.

 

Keep Growing – and Helping Others Grow

Marcia Railton

 

A Lifelong Learner

FREE THEME – Deuteronomy 6

Deut 6 6

Go ahead give it a read – even if you are pretty familiar with the chapter of Deuteronomy 6 already.  It is the well-known home of the Shema – a declaration of the oneness of God.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4).  But, it doesn’t start or end there.  Let’s look at the rest of the chapter, too.

First off, the word Deuteronomy means “repetition of the law”.  Moses had already written down the events of his own life and the commands of God in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.  Now, close to his own death and the time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land led by Joshua, Moses uses the book of Deuteronomy to retell what is MOST important for God’s people to remember and live by to receive His blessings.  It’s a great book for God’s people today as well.

Deuteronomy 6 begins with Moses telling the people that these are the laws and commands that 1.) were God given,  2.) which Moses was to teach,  3.) so the people and their descendants would fear and follow God and 4.) thus experience blessing from God.  The blessings come to obedient people who listen to the teachers who teach what God requires.  This sounds like a great description of Christian Education – as designed by God.  But, sometimes we don’t do such a great job of following what God designed.

God’s people were – and are – to be learners.   They need to be hearing God’s Word (daily Bible reading, sermons, Sunday School classes, youth group, small group Bible studies, email devotions, etc…).  I am so thankful for those who have taught and are still teaching me God’s Word and the importance of knowing who the one true God is and how to follow Him and His Son.  I immediately think of my parents, pastors and Sunday School teachers as those who have poured God’s Word into me faithfully and consistently.  I am certainly still learning and correcting and learning some more.  It is a lifelong task to be a learner of God’s Word and His way.

Verse 18 says, “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you…”  God’s people can only do right when they know what is right.  And, unfortunately there is a whole lot of confusion and mixed messages in the world about what IS right.    We need to be wise enough to know who to listen to – who is speaking the words of the one true God and what He requires – and who is a false teacher.

Sometimes the false teachers look pretty smooth and appealing and gain a popular following, all while twisting and perverting God’s Word.  They quote Scripture and try to make it say all sorts of ungodly things – even that abortion and homosexuality is approved by God (Does that sound familiar from any presidential candidates you know? Or, maybe a college professor, or a friend?)   And Satan smirks and cheers.  And God, I can only try to imagine, perhaps the sadness, anger, jealousy, patience and love mingled together as He watches and waits.  His judgment will be coming.

So, God’s People – will we be ready for His judgment?  Is it perhaps time to wake up?  Look in God’s Word and read the whole thing!   See who God really is – and isn’t.  Don’t be led astray.  What does He require?  What does He love?  What does He hate?  What is God waiting to teach you today?  Look in His Book.  Seek out wise teachers.

What is on your heart today?  How about some more of God’s Word.  It brings blessings.

Marcia Railton

(Tomorrow let’s continue in Deuteronomy 6 – there’s a lot more there.  Give it a read and I will see you tomorrow.)