We Turn from God…

Have you ever worked so hard on a project and brought it to fruition?  Then when it was time to hand it over to the next person it seemed that all your work was destroyed?

In 1 Kings 11:41—12:11, 17-20, King Solomon, who was King David’s son has died.  Even though Solomon asked God for wisdom to lead his people, he lost his way and began to follow the ways of the people instead of the ways of the Lord.  Now Solomon’s son, Rehoboam is next in line to lead God’s people.  However, because Solomon lost his way, Israel is in a mess.  Does this sound familiar today?  No one in Israel now followed the ways of the Lord that King David worked so hard to get the people to obey God.

Imagine how God feels every day when those He loves so much do not obey Him.  God has done everything – including sending His only Son to bring His kingdom to fruition, but yet we still do not obey and we turn from Him.  It seems that no matter who God sends to help us follow Him, the people fail to follow His ways.   But yet, God still never gives up on us.

Let us pray…Gracious God, help us to turn to you for your guidance, grace, mercy, and love. You offer everything that we need to be happy in this life, but yet we still fail to follow your ways. Please Lord, help us to see that your Son, Jesus Christ will lead us into a new life that is truly life.  Amen.

Disappointment

Disappointment comes in all forms.  But, what causes us to be disappointed?  For me, it is the expectation of a certain outcome and for whatever reason, the outcome doesn’t happen the way I hoped or dreamed.  For example, all of us most likely disappointed our parents at one time or another.  Our parents have hopes and dreams for us and then as children, we often fail and do not meet up to their expectations or what they had hoped for us.

In 1 Kings 11:1-3, I am disappointed in Solomon.  He was King David’s son and full of promise as the King of Israel.  In fact, Solomon is the king that when God asked what he could for him, Solomon answered that he wanted wisdom to guide God’s people.  Solomon had promise of becoming a prominent king!  But, he had a weakness.  He loved women, even women who were not Israelites and they turned his heart away from God.  The foreigners did not worship God, but worshipped idols.  “So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done” (1 Kings 11:6).  I’m so disappointed!  And, can you imagine how God must have been so disappointed?

Solomon was punished by God, but still respected his father David.  God doesn’t tear the kingdom from Solomon or during his lifetime, but makes his son suffer and carry the weight (v.12).  Because of Jesus Christ, God doesn’t act in this manner any more.  We may suffer from our consequences for our wrongdoings in this world because of the law, but we will not suffer because of God.  We may disappoint God, but because of Christ, we are forgiven, and given new life to try again!  Jesus never disappoints us!

Let us pray…Gracious God, I cannot imagine my life if it were not for Jesus who came to save me from myself.  Help us to give thanks and praise for your Son, Jesus Christ who forgives us even when we know we disappoint you.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Hearing God’s Voice

It was just before I was to go into my last year of seminary at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.  My husband and I were debating when we should try to put the house on the market.  We had decided to wait until we returned in the Spring.  However, one evening I received a phone call on my cell from an unknown caller asking me if I would be interested in selling our house.  Within 30 days, we had moved out of our house.  I knew then without a shadow of a doubt, God was calling me somewhere else to do ministry.

In 1 Kings 5:1-12, Solomon, King David’s son, is now the new king of Israel, following his father’s death.  The Lord favored him greatly and gave him ‘wisdom’ over God’s people.  God had told him that he was to build a Temple for the Lord God.  Solomon heard his instructions and once he had gained peace on all sides, he began the construction for the Temple.  God continued to bless Solomon and give him wisdom to rule His people.  The construction began with cedars and cypress timbers (v.8).  I wonder if Solomon even knew how to build a Temple?

Obeying and hearing God’s voice is not easy.  It takes discipline and the willingness to open our hearts to hear.  Solomon loved God with all his heart and God spoke to him.  I wonder how many times God tries to reach out to us and we just aren’t paying attention?  Selling our home with no game plan in sight was risky and scary!  What is God calling each one of us to do today?

Let us pray…God, help us to open our hearts to your voice and give us the willingness to do what you want us to do.  Give us the courage to be willing to drop what we are doing so that we do nothing but your will – no matter how hard it may be.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Wisdom

You know the saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  We can always look back and see the mistakes that we have made.  However, often one thing will lead to another and before you know it, you are sliding down a very slippery slope. I have seen people get themselves in a mess through bad decisions, doing things they shouldn’t be doing, and even poverty and homelessness will sometimes lead to decisions that otherwise one would not make in different circumstances.  I have been in those dark places before and wondered, “How did I even get here?”  It is usually in these times that we begin praying.  We begin praying for a way out!

In 1 Kings 3:3-14, Solomon who is King David’s son is now the King of Israel.  Just before his dad died, he told Solomon to always be with the Lord and to follow the Lord’s ways.  And, Solomon does.  He loves God and wants to do the right thing.  Solomon has a dream.  In his dream, God comes to him and says, “Ask what I should give you?” (v.5).  Wow!  What would I say if God were to come to me and ask me that question?  Here is how Solomon responds, “Give me an understanding mind to govern your people; able to discern between good and evil…” (v.9). Solomon asked God for “Wisdom!”  Solomon wanted the ability to know right from wrong so that he would never head down that slippery slope of bad decisions and getting himself in situations in which, he did not know how to get out!  What if…We all had the gift of wisdom and the ability to discern right from wrong?  I wonder if all we need to do is ask for it?

Let us pray…Gracious God, give us the gift of wisdom.  Give us the ability to discern right from wrong.  Give us the ability to stand strong when wrong is being done.  Lead us into your ways only.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

What is Important?

My mom, who is now 80 years old, broke her back last week.  She is not even sure how it happened.  I have decided that old age is not something to look forward to.  She even told me that the golden years are all a myth.  Preparing for our retirement and our end days on earth are so difficult.  So many to things to think about – Will I have enough money to sustain me until I die?  Where will I go when I can no longer take care of myself?  How will I pay for care and where will I live?  Who should I instruct to handle all of my affairs?

In 1 Kings 2:1-10, King David knows he is about to die.  He has already appointed his son, Solomon to be King in his place.  Before he dies, he gives his son, Solomon instructions: “Be strong.  Be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statues, his, commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies…”  I wonder how many of us would give that instruction to the ones we are leaving behind?  Because I am thinking I would say something like, “Here is all my bills; here is the deed to my house; and here is my life insurance policy, etc…” I wonder if being a godly person is to have our minds and hearts on godly things – not earthly things?

Let us pray…Dear God, help us to set our minds on you and what is important to you – not what is important here on earth.  Help us to prepare for our death by understanding your heavenly realm.  We pray this in your name.  Amen.

Tell the Story!

Story is the way that we are able to relate to the world in which we live.  In fact, if you think about it, it’s the reason we enjoy movies, TV shows, and reality TV.  It’s human nature to enjoy hearing the stories of people’s lives.

In 1 Kings 1:28-40, God uses story to demonstrate the life of Jesus Christ.  In this story, there is foreshadowing of what is to come.  We have the story of King David who turns over his kingship to his son, Solomon.  Read this story!  “Solomon rode on King David’s mule and led him to Gilhon…where he was anointed with oil…and the people shouted, ‘Long live King Solomon!’”  If we know the story of Jesus when he rode the mule into Jerusalem, we can know that this is foreshadowing of the ‘real’ King!  When I was in seminary and took the history of the ancient days, I knew the answers to the test because I knew the story and could tell the story!  We can put our lives in perspective through the story of the Old Testament and the story of Jesus Christ!

Let us pray…Gracious God, help us to know your story.  Help us to understand that when we know the Old Testament stories we can see the prophecy of the King that was and is to come.  We love you so much.  Amen.

Let Mutual Love Continue!

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me? (Hebrews 13:6)

At one point in our marriage, we considered adopting a little girl.  I had someone say to me, “You will have a special place in heaven.”  I was taken back by that statement because I don’t believe that just because I was considering doing something potentially good, I get to go to heaven and have a special place. Unfortunately, the little girl had bigger problems than we could handle without some sort of training.  We always pray for her, but were unable to take her in.  So then, does that mean that now I do not have a special place in heaven?

There is a reason I love the Lutheran faith.  The theology is beautiful.  We believe that we are saved by grace and justified by our faith.  What that means is that you and I do absolutely nothing for our salvation!  Jesus did it all for us!  The reason we do good works is a response to our love for Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us.  Because Jesus died on the cross it is therefore, I have salvation.  Not by anything I have done – but what Jesus did for me!  However, our response to our love for Christ does matter.  Just because we are saved by grace and we are covered by grace, does not give us the free will to sin.  Our actions do matter!

In Hebrews 13:1-16, we get a whole list of do’s and don’ts.  However, I believe what Paul is saying here is how hard it is going to be to hold ourselves above reproach as Christians.  He states, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me? (v.6).  Here is the thing…How we conduct ourselves in this life reveals who we are as a person in Christ.  What we are looking for is the city that is to come (v.11).

Let us pray…Jesus, be with us each day to do what is pleasing to you.  Hold us above reproach so that all will know of our love for you. Let us do what is pleasing to you in service and the way that we treat others.  In your name we pray.  Amen.