Credit where credit is due

Success can do weird things to people. The same people who previously depended on others now claim to be “self-made.” They get lost in the riches of success. Pride overtakes their soul. They become elite, above others, and self-entitled. Now, that certainly does NOT describe every successful person. I have heard many an athlete, actor, business owner give credit to those that got them there. I love it when someone wins an award but gives the real credit to the person behind the scenes who did the hard work.

According to the Bible, David was a successful man. He had great wealth. He was king over the land. He had a great army, great loyalty, and great leaders. Near the end of his life, he handed off the task of building the temple to his son, Solomon. But he did more than just hand it off; he gave a large amount of his personal wealth to the project. He used his success for Solomon’s success. You see, David never got weird about his success. He was grounded in the truth.

1 Chronicles 29:16 Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.

David recognized an important truth: It all belongs to God. This is a man who had built great wealth throughout his life, but never did claim credit for it. He recognized that He was anointed and appointed by God. He recognized that God was his provider. He knew that his wealth came from the Lord. David gave credit where credit was due.

How about you? When you think about money, resources, and things, do you hold on to them with white knuckles? Do you live in fear that you won’t have enough? I want to challenge you today to trust God as your provider. Throughout our lives, there are times of lack and times of abundance. We must give credit where credit is due. As David said, “It all belongs to the Lord.”


Math is from the devil

I was always pretty good at math. That is, until my freshman year of High School. It was a tough year for me when it came to math. I had always got A’s in math, but this year would be different. I stayed after school almost every day to get help with the homework and I barely squeaked out a B-.  My confidence was shot and I started to question my ability to succeed in this area.

The subject was geometry. No longer could I relish in the concrete solutions for the letter x. Now I had to memorize theorems and postulates. I had to figure out areas and angles. It was like math mixed with art… and I was pretty sure it was from the devil. Math is supposed to be black and white. Math is a fact, not a theory. What is this geometry? Get behind me, Satan!

1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

See! I told you math was from the devil! Do you know what a census is? It is counting people by groups and then adding them together. And here in 1 Chronicles 21, Satan made David do math. Okay, I’ll admit it – that’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe math isn’t really from the devil. So why was this census such a bad idea? Why did God explicitly instruct David NOT to take a census?

The problem with the census was that it would cause David to put his confidence in his resources rather than in his God. David wanted to know how many fighting men he had in case he was attacked. He wanted to calculate his odds at winning a battle. Even though God had consistently fought his battles for him, David still had this need to discover if what he had was enough. Unfortunately, this math experiment turned into a giant disaster for him. Math did him in.

Don’t we do the same thing that David did? We let anxiety and worry lead us to our calculators. We fret over all the possible alternatives and the inevitable outcomes. We lose sleep over the fact that no matter how hard we have thought about it, 2+2 simply does not equal 8.  We are short on resources and it looks like we are gonna lose this one.

God isn’t intimidated by math. He doesn’t worry about geometry. Not enough resources? No problem. Having a hard time getting all that you can gather to add up to 8? He doesn’t need 4+4. He can make W+S=8 if He wants to. You just bring the W and He will bring the S and it will all work out. What is the W you ask? It’s your weakness. The S is HIS strength.

Your God has all the resources you will ever need. You don’t need to put your trust in math. You can simply put your trust in Him. He has always been the one to fight the battles. He has always been the God who provides. He will not let you down. In the words of Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Mountain Climbing

Genesis 22:13-14 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ramcaught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

mountain_climbingMountain climbing: something that I’m not all that good at.  Well, actually, I haven’t tried it, but the thought of it isn’t appealing to me.  All I can think of is high altitudes, sore muscles, and steep cliffs.  Danger!  Climbing the mountain is hard work.  Climbing the mountain without all the supplies is even harder.  Imagine going on a multi-day mountain trek with no food or no tent or the wrong shoes.  Imagine climbing the mountain with no water. I am getting thirsty just thinking about it.

Abraham climbed a mountain.  He climbed a mountain to offer a sacrifice, but had no sacrifice.  He was willing to give his son to the Lord as a sacrifice, although God had another plan the whole time.  He found Abraham to be faithful and provided a ram.  Abraham didn’t know that, however; he just climbed the mountain in faith.  He knew that somehow, someway, God would be faithful.  Provision was at the top of the mountain.

We have mountains to climb, too.  We get ourselves all packed up and ready to go, but God says to leave the providing up to Him.  So off we go without water, only to find a spring at the top of the mountain.  This is the faithfulness of God.  He will provide.  It says in Genesis 22:14, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”  So if it is provision you seek, climb the mountain of the Lord.  Go on a hike toward His presence.  Spend time climbing to the highest heights with Him.  On His mountain, it will be provided.  Now set out toward Him and find all that you need.

*Need provision today? Keep on climbing toward your God… He will provide!

I prefer the coast guard ship

Jonah 1:17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah was in a heap of trouble.  God gave him an assignment and he ran the other way.  As he traveled by ship, the seas grew restless while he took a nap.  The boat was going to capsize and there was no hope in sight.  That is… until the sailors threw Jonah overboard.  The sea chilled out but Jonah started to drown.  It seemed like he was doomed to die due to his disobedience.  Instead, the Lord sent the coast guard to rescue him.  No?  How about a life raft or at least a large piece of driftwood?  No, the Lord sent an enormous fish to swallow him.

Am I the only one who didn’t see that one coming?  The first three words of verse 17 are: “But the Lord provided.”  That statement gets me excited, makes me think about God’s great power and might.  Maybe God will even reach down from heaven and pull Jonah out of the sea.  The Lord is about to provide, Jonah.  Hang on – this is going to be awesome!  Chomp.  Down the hatch he goes.  Inside a giant fish or whale of some sort.  That’s provision?  That’s provision.

When God says that He is my provider, maybe I have put that statement in too small of a box.  I think that means a paycheck, the means to live comfortably.  I doubt Jonah was comfortable inside that fish.  Imagine the smell.  Barf-o-rama.   But it was the Lord’s provision, even if it didn’t look like a coast guard ship.  You know, the Lord promises that He will provide for His people.  He promises that He will take care of us.  Look, I prefer the coast guard ship, but I have found that He sometimes provides in unconventional ways.  It’s not about money, it’s about Him taking care of us.  He might send the life raft, but He also might send the fish.  Do you need the Lord to rescue you today?  Call out, but brace yourself for whatever He sends your way.  It might look strange, but it will certainly save the day.

A punch in the gut

Hosea 2:8  She does not recognize that it is I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil. I lavished silver and gold on her, which they used for Baal. 

Here’s the picture:  A man loves his wife so much that he wants to show her.  One payday, he hands her two $100 bills and tells her to spoil herself.  He grins at the smile on her face as she receives his gift.  He can’t wait to see what she is going to do and buy.  But his wife doesn’t buy any new clothes; she doesn’t spoil herself with a day at the spa.  Instead, she uses the money to go out on a date with another man.  What!?!

This is how God felt about the nation of Israel.  He treated her like a good husband would treat his wife.  He lavished blessings on her, took care of her, and provided for her.  It says here that He gave her grain, new wine, and oil.  He even lavished silver and gold on her.  However, she didn’t even acknowledge that all of this was from Him.  She didn’t return to Him in praise.  She took His gifts and ran away to another lover.

You see, Israel took what God had given them and used the resources to worship other gods.  They took His gold and honored Baal.  What a punch in the gut!  Is this how you thank the very one who is meeting all your needs?  It shouldn’t be!  And even today, we receive God’s blessings and provision and squander them away.  We turn to things that satisfy the flesh and in turn serve them with our hearts.  We give over our devotion to created things rather than living a life devoted to the creator.  If we would just learn a lesson from these words to Israel, we might just start turning all our worship toward the Lord.  We might even stop punching Him in the gut.

My camel is thirsty

2 Kings 3:16-18 16 and he said, “This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches. 17 For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you. 

We all have our fair share of financial struggles from time to time.  Things like: I can’t pay the mortgage, I need money for new clothes, I’ve got to pay the bills, and my camel is thirsty.  Well, maybe you haven’t experienced that last one, but these guys in 2 Kings 3 sure understood it well.  They had marched out across the desert to go to battle but they ran out of water and all got really thirsty.  They needed water to drink or they were going to die.  One problem: they were in a desolate place.

Have you ever found yourself in a desolate place?  You may feel like your well has dried up and you have no idea where the next meal is coming from.  I have some good news for you: God’s provision is not based on our available resources.  His provision is based on His power.  In 2 Kings, He told them to dig ditches and the water would show up.  Now that couldn’t have made any sense.  You need rain if you are going to make mud puddles.  It was a far fetched idea; it was out of the box.

Sometimes God provides for us in a way that is out of the box.  In our thinking there are only two solutions: more income or less expenses.  But God isn’t limited by our wisdom, or lack thereof.  His ability to provide for His people is unlimited.  If we could just grasp that, we would be far less anxious about our situation.  So look to Him today as your provider.  He will give you all that you need, even water for your camel.

That’s one shiny temple!

1 Kings 7:45-47  All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the temple of the LORD were of burnished bronze. The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan. Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined. 

This was one ornate temple that Solomon built.  Our text in chapters 6 and 7 are very detailed as to what went into it.  We have silver, gold, and …. pomegranates? I guess they were a big deal back then.  Everything was measured carefully.  We know its height, length, weight, and shoe size.  But we will never know about the bronze.  There was just too much of it.  Now that’s one shiny temple!

There were so many bronze pieces that it was nearly impossible to measure, we read.  While that statement may not seem that significant, it tells us something about the provision of the Lord.  You see, as Solomon set out to build the Lord’s temple, he had very specific instructions.  Basically he needed a whole lot of supplies.  And here’s the thing: God supplied all of his needs.  He supplied them to the point that he could no longer keep track of how much provision there was.

As we walk in the Lord’s will for our life, I believe we will discover the same thing.  God will pour out His blessings on us to the point of not being able to keep track.  That may look like an overflow of money or maybe an overflow of peace.  Shoot, I have friends with an overflow of kids.  I’m not sure how they keep track! 🙂  But God will overflow in our lives as we pursue Him.  I have experienced His goodness and want to shout it from the rooftops!  So let’s pursue God with our whole lives today and ask for HIS overflowing provision.

Happy National Materialism Day! (aka. Black Friday)

Luke 12:31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  We do a weird thing here in the U.S. after Thanksgiving.  It’s something called Black Friday.  You’ve probably heard of it unless you live in an underground bunker.  Here’s how it works.  We spend a day with family and friends being ever so grateful for all that we have.  We sit around a table and share a grand meal, thanking God for His provision on our lives.  Our hearts and stomachs are full.  We are content; all that we have is enough.

Then we wake up early the next morning (this year it actually starting Thanksgiving evening) and set out to buy as much stuff as possible at amazing prices.  Somehow we have stuffed not only a Turkey, but contentedness and acquisition of mass quantities of electronics and other stuff all in one amazing weekend.  This is irony at it’s finest.  And yes… I am still proud to be an American.  But we are missing something, don’t you think?  We determine our peace of mind by our stuff and the security of our stuff.   We worry about having enough stuff and wonder if the stuff we have is as good as other people’s stuff.  It’s all about the stuff to us.  

Jesus said it should all be about the kingdom of God. We should seek that first.  If we would just get our eyes on that, he would give us all the stuff we need.  If he would truly become our peace and our security, he would make sure that we would be provided for.  We’ve got it backwards.  We tell him that once we have ourselves in a good secure place, we will give to him.  He said pursue His kingdom and he’ll give to you.  He didn’t say that you have to give it all up so you can suffer.  He just wants your focus right so it can all be added to you.  Priorities, my friends, priorities.  Enjoy your Black Friday shopping; don’t feel guilty.  Just make sure that your heart is where it should be – seeking FIRST His kingdom.  He’ll take care of the rest.