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“And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:14

“Why can’t you be more like…”

Remember how much you hated hearing that? Maybe it was comparing you to a sibling, a relative or the class valedictorian. It’s fun to compare ourselves to others when we have better gifts and skills. It’s not so much fun to be compared to someone who obviously has their life together better than you do. What would it be like to be compared to someone who lived a life that was below your standards? How would it feel to not only be compared to them, but encouraged to be like them!

That was the situation Solomon found himself in. His father, King David had just died and the kingdom was now securely in Solomon’s hands. God came to him and offered him whatever he wanted and Solomon wisely chose wisdom.

Then, God says to Solomon, (look out, here comes a personal paraphrase), “Ok Solomon, here’s the deal. I want to bless you more than you can imagine because I love you and you love me. So, what I want you to do is to follow the example of your father, David. He was a man after my own heart who followed all my rules.”

I have to wonder if Solomon didn’t take a momentary double-take on that.

“Wait! Like my father David? Most Holy God, do you remember how his affair with mom and how he killed her first husband? Do you remember when his daughter was raped by his son and he did nothing about it? Do you remember how he constantly did his own thing and had to come to you time and again, repent and ask you to forgive him? Wait. That’s it isn’t it God. Dad made plenty of mistakes but he always came back to you. I get it now.”

Maybe it didn’t happen that way for Solomon, but it certainly does for me. If you feel like a failure. If you wonder if you’ll ever get it right? Remember there are many examples in the Bible of men and women who failed miserably and yet, they were used mightily by God.

PRAYER: Lord, I’m constantly reminded by others and my own conscience of my failures. I’m weak, stubborn, rebellious and selfish at times. Yet, even then, I love you. Thank you for always waiting with open arms to welcome me home. Amen.

Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Ecclesiastes 7:11

Small town logic is brutal but often true. This was made evident to me path of wisdomduring a conversation I had at a local coffee shop. Our discussion turned to a local tragedy. A young adult had been killed in a single-car rollover. Reports were that the victim was under the influence at the time of the accident that claimed his life.

One of the men sitting at the table asked the name of the deceased. When he was told who it was, he shook his head and responded something like this, “Yeah, it’s a tragedy, but you know, his father was a drunk.”

His statement bothered me at first. It didn’t seem fair to minimize the accident by pointing to something that happened to someone else in the past. The more I thought about that conversation, the more I realized that while my feelings of injustice were true, the reality was, the reaction of the older gentleman at our table also carried truth to it.

Like it or not we are, in a sense, victims of our past. We’ve learned certain habits, thoughts and tendencies from our parents or others that went before us. We really have two choices in life. We can learn from those who have gone before us, or we can fall victim to the negative things we’ve gleaned from them.

There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

King Solomon said it a different way. “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.” We all hope to leave our children a big inheritance. We want them to be better off than we were. But the reality is, leaving them an example of Godly wisdom will be of a bigger benefit in the end.

Don’t just spend your entire life striving to provide your children with an inheritance that can be easily squandered. The wisdom you leave them will be of far greater value than any material possession you have.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine the kind of inheritance you are preparing for those who go behind you:

  1. What do you worry most about? Spiritual growth or physical/financial health?
  2. Where do you spend your time? The golf course or your knees in prayer for your kids and grandkids?
  3. Will those who come behind you remember you for being an encourager or a judge?
  4. Do you talk about the weather and sports more than you do topics of faith and grace?
  5. Does your Bible suffer from dust or worn pages?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to strive daily to leave an inheritance of wisdom that others will be able to use to guide them through life. Amen.

If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 1 John 3:14

the power of loveThere’s a bunch of dead people around. Zombies are fictional characters that are ‘dead’ people walking around as though alive. If a Zombie touches you, you may become one yourself. The real danger with Zombies though is that they look human until it’s too late.

Although Zombies themselves are fictional, they often show up at church. Christian Zombies so to speak. These are people who, by all outward appearances have Christ in their lives. They do all the ‘right’ things Christians do. They go to church. They may teach Sunday School or hold a home Bible Study. They may even be pastors of thriving organizations…er…uh…ministries. The problem is, Christian Zombies have no real life.

They have no blood flowing through their veins. Their eyes stare straight ahead and fail to focus on what’s around them. As a result they are unwilling or unable to see the needs of those around them. They spend so much time worrying about this rule or that rule they miss the story of grace. They spend so much time seeing what’s wrong in the world they fail to see what’s right. They label people according to their faults and sins and miss the fact that for all their bruises, everyone is created in God’s image.

These Zombies have the appearances of life but lack the life-giving flow of blood, the blood of Jesus. The Spirit of God has never been allowed to flow freely through their veins. Unfortunately, like the fictional Zombies, they can infect those around them with the same poison.

The best defense against becoming a Christian Zombie, and the best way to defeat a Christian Zombie, is with the magical power of love. Love destroys every evil part of the Zombie’s life. Love can never be defeated. Love never sees a person’s faults but always sees their potential. Don’t be overtaken by Christian Zombies. Rely on the love of Jesus to defeat any opposition that comes your way.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your love that conquers anything that may try to attack me. Empower me with the life giving ‘blood of the Spirit’ to love and to overcome anything and anyone that tries to get in my way. Amen.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, John 10:27-28

good sheperd 10.19.15Have you ever been in a large crowd of people and heard a voice you recognized. They weren’t shouting to be heard above the crowd. They weren’t trying in any way to get your attention. In fact, they may not have even been talking with you. But you heard their voice and your attention was turned to the sound at least in your mind, if not physically.

I find that happening often with my wife when we are in a situation where we are in a large gathering but not necessarily together. It might be her laugh that catches my ear. It might be just her voice. But when I hear it, even if it doesn’t change the conversation I’m in, I am comforted by her presence.

When we are in tune with someone spiritually and/or emotionally it’s like that. There may even be times we aren’t in the same place, but we hear a voice in our heads that reminds us of the one we love.

I would imagine that’s what Jesus was likening his teaching to in John 10. He is in the middle of a discourse in which he likens himself to a good shepherd and his followers to sheep in his flock. The sheep grow so accustomed to the voice of their shepherd that when he calls them they automatically respond.

In the hill country of Israel, shepherds would often join together to watch over the sheep in the middle of the night. When morning came, they would call their sheep, many of whom had intermingled with other flocks. When they heard the voice of their own shepherd they would respond because they knew him. His voice was the voice they knew to provide them with cool streams and green pastures. His voice was the one they recognized as being the calming voice when they passed through the valley of the shadow of death. His voice was the one they relied on when they were helplessly and hopelessly surrounded by the enemy.

The same is true for us today. Are you in the midst of a crowd of struggles and temptations that have separated you from your faith? Has the darkness of worry, frustration or broken dreams caused you to lose sight of the one you once relied on for strength? He’s still calling for you, you know. He’s not calling you out of anger or disappointment. Your failures aren’t a surprise to him. He’s calling you as a loving Father, a concerned friend, a compassionate lover. Nothing you have ever done will snatch you out of his hand.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I confess to you that I’ve lost your voice in the crowd of voices that desire to pull me away from your protection and destroy my faith in you and myself. Draw me into your arms. Empower me to hear your voice above the din of this world. Thank you for loving me enough to seek me out. Amen.

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October 2015
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