If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Light !

Solomon’s temple was probably the most beautiful building in the world at the time of its construction even standing up to structures built in more modern times. Most of wood used in the temple construction was ultimately overlaid with gold. When the complex was completed the rising sun would have reflected bright light into the eyes of people walking in view of the magnificent structure. This glare would have caused travelers to protect their eyes or shield their faces from the bright orange hues spilling out and over the white limestone blocks. Like a Devine artist using the earth as His palette the temple complex would have indeed done its best to convey the infinite glory of our Almighty God!

Solomon, like his father David, got a great start out of the blocks. He kept his relationship with God a priority in his life as he jumped over hurdle after hurdle eventually crossing the finish line. Soon he began collecting all the prizes due the winner of a great Olympic foot race. Fame, fortune and an overflowing amount of God given wisdom was earning him honor and prestige around the known Mediterranean world. As the world began to shower Solomon with gifts and praise he began to lose sight of the Almighty God who was the One that was providing for him and his people.

“But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites - from the nations of whom the Lord had said ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.” 1 Kings 11:1-11.

So Solomon did not ultimately follow God. Instead he turned and began sliding away from Him, building high places for the gods of his wives burning incense and sacrificing to them. This truly is a remarkable thing how Solomon was able to forsake the One, True and Living God, the God of his father’s Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God had even pre warned the fledgling nation of Israel while still living in the desert even before a single step was taken into the Jordan River. In the scrolls written by Moses; Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God warned them that this exact sequence of events would unfold in the lives of Israel’s kings if they did not follow His commandments. He cautioned them to always look to Him, remembering His great deliverance from Egypt and all of His provisions for them while wandering in the wilderness of the Sinai. 

But now, as Solomon is being puffed up by his perceived individual success, pride begins to lure him away; enticing him towards all the worldly lusts that lurked just out in the darkness.  Eventually, God speaks to Solomon “Because you have done this, and not kept My covenant and My statues, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.”

You see, when we don’t follow God’s instructions we end up reaping a cornucopia of heartache, hopelessness and a sense of worthlessness. All the gold in the world can’t buy us God’s favor. A palace full of women can’t satisfy the human heart’s need for true love and companionship. All of mankind desperately needs to be in a loving relationship with their Creator. 

There is actually a hole in our DNA that can only be filled by surrendering our will to our Creator. He alone holds our destiny in His hands being the author and finisher of our salvation. God is light, pure light  and while existing outside of time, He is able to see our universe as a completed thought. He is the beginning as well as the end. Fortunately, we He gave us the instruction book for life complete with all the correct answers to life’s final exam.

The answer, in a word, is Jesus! While Jesus was dying on the cross, our mortal enemy believed that he had finally defeated God at His own game. The truth is the death of Jesus on a cross was God’s greatest triumph. The blood, shed from the spotless Lamb of God, is a gift to us, a cleansing agent more powerful than anything in this universe. So while the glitter of sunlight off the gilded fa├žade of the temple was blinding to all passersby it will be nothing compared to the glory that will emanate and shine from our Father in heaven. Remember, we are the temple of God, so let your light so shine that people will see the glory of God as it shines through you!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A box

A box has four sides, a top and a bottom. They come in all shapes and sizes designed to contain something important for storage, protection or travel. We put all sorts of things in boxes from breakfast cereal, diamond rings to enriched plutonium. But when it comes to an almighty, all-knowing, always present creator how does one go about containing that kind of glory in a box made by hands?

King David built for himself a very large and beautiful palace. His residence was so incredible that he felt guilty about living in it while God only had the tabernacle or tent of meeting to dwell in. David decided to build a house or temple for God to live in but with all the blood on his hands God did not allow him to be the one to complete it. So David’s son Solomon became the builder of one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

I would not want to be the one who was chosen to build a box to put God into. How or better yet why would we want to put God into a box to begin with? Having said that putting God into a box is what most of us try to do on a regular basis. We either put limitations on what we believe God can accomplish in our lives or we come to our heavenly Father as one comes to a magic lamp rubbing it to summon the genie waiting inside.

So it begins in the 480 year after the exodus from Egypt during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel that construction begins on the first temple in Jerusalem. In 1 Kings 6:7 it says “And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built.”

It’s important to pause and ask ourselves why this fact was mentioned before moving on to the actual construction. Let’s look at one other verse in Deuteronomy 27:5 “And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them.”

This command was from God right before the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River and into the Promised Land God was providing for them. Key word here is “that God was providing for them.” First remember who it was that released them from the iron grip of Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea and provided for them during forty years of desert wandering. 

God is our provider. He is the source of our existence and He is the author and finisher of our salvation. God puts a hint here as he commands the Israelites to set up stones to whitewash and write all the words of the law and then instructs them to build an altar with whole stones instead of using iron tools to carve and shape.
Iron was a metal that man discovered how to manufacture and forge. The use of iron tools, to build an altar to the Lord, would have focused and pointed their attention to what man can accomplish and not to what God had already done for them. It was the same idea when it came time to build the temple in Jerusalem so the stones were cut, quarried- tooled away from the building site then delivered to the building site.

We are now under the New Covenant through the work of Jesus Christ, who once again paid our sin debt in full and bought us with a price. No iron tool or cleverness of man has had any part in our salvation, but rather God is the sole provider of our redemption. Interesting though, the only man-made thing we will witness in heaven will be the holes in Christ’s hands and feet. Holes that were made by iron nails pounded in by iron tools intended to put Jesus to death. That will be a humbling time for all of us who have chosen to receive our salvation through God’s limitless grace and mercy. To see and realize what the ingenuity of man did to God’s Son when He came to redeem His creation. 

So man might have moments of cleverness and invention, I’ll give you that, but when it comes to putting God into a box we had better leave the lid off that idea. So remember when we come to worship let’s leave the iron tools behind and worship God in spirit and in truth. Because worship does not take place on this mountain or that mountain or in this church or that church but begins only in the center of our being that is our heart!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One wish

There is an old children’s tale about a young Arabian street urchin who finds a magic bottle and discovers there is a genie inside. The child is very poor and has grown up alone on the streets without the support of his parents. Suddenly, all that is changed! He is granted three wishes by the ethereal form spilling out of the neck of the bottle.  Carelessly, the boy frivolously uses up his first two wishes on a magic carpet and a banquet hall feast that included every culinary experience imaginable.

Stuffed to the gills and now down to his last wish the boy carefully calculates his best options for his last wish. So what would be your last wish if given the opportunity to ask for whatever you wanted? Some would try and tempt fate by asking for more wishes but that is not allowed. Others might crave for great wealth, power or glory but those too fall short of the importance of that one final wish.

King Solomon got just that opportunity one night when God appeared to him in a dream and spoke “Ask! What shall I give you?” And to which Solomon replied “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1Kings 3:4-14.

The bible instructs us to ask God, our heavenly father, for the desires of our hearts, without putting   limitations on our requests other than asking within His will. If we think about it, there are no limits to what an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God can do! Do you believe that? Keeping in mind that the only parameter that needs to be considered when making a request is, are you asking within the will of God? The only way to know what the will of God is to study and search through the bible. All the answers to life’s questions are hidden away on the pages, just waiting for us to discover them.

Solomon’s answer pleases God. “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you. And I have also given you what you have not asked; both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statues and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

The half brother of Jesus wrote “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5. It’s one of those truths in life comparable to the sowing of seed and reaping the labor of what you have sown that if we ask for anything in God’s will then it will be given to us. 

So do you know what the will of God is for your own life? Both David and Solomon knew and at times made choices outside the will of God.  Our free will allows us to make choices and to reap from the seeds we have sown. God isn’t a disciplinarian who is just waiting for us to mess things up, but rather He loves us and has given the answers to the test within the bible. It saddens Him to see us make bad choices. But we all must choose to walk with God or walk away from God.  Jesus instructed us to “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12:31.

Remember, we can’t take riches, power or anything else with us when pass on through the veil to the other side. So make your one wish to do the will of God.