1 Kings 8, 9:1-9

Read 1 Kings 8, 9:1-9

In these chapters we get a glimpse of what we might call a “ribbon cutting ceremony,” or a “grand opening.” The temple, God’s house, is finished and the ark is being placed in it. And from the descriptions provided in the text, clearly, God’s temple was a big deal. 

Afterall, this was a place for God to dwell. It was a place to meet with Him, and offer sacrifices. The text explains the importance of the temple, its purpose, and even its holiness. We also know the temple was incredibly beautiful. But there’s more to this temple than what the text says. There’s a twist no one, at the time, could ever imagine.

In chapter 9, the Lord tells Solomon, “One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.” 

That descendant is Jesus. 

So, what’s the twist? Those knowing this promise were expecting an earthly King to sit on the throne of David. 

But, when Jesus came, He didn’t come as an earthly king. He came as king over everything and changed the way we communed with God. The people knowing God’s Word at the time would not have foreseen this turn of events.

Because of Jesus, we no longer must go to the temple and make sacrifices to be with God. For those that choose to follow Jesus, He has made His temple in us.  Let that sink in.

The glamourous, holy temple Solomon built for God as a place for us to meet with God—Jesus does away with the building and makes His home or temple in His believers.  

The Holy place and the very presence of God, dwells in us. Incredible.

Blessings

1 Kings 3, 6

Read 1 Kings 3, 6

“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

That has nothing to do with much of anything, except that it points us toward the topic of today’s devotional: wisdom.

If you’ve sat through enough children’s Sunday School classes, you probably know that King Solomon is widely regarded as the wisest man that ever lived (outside of Jesus, of course–but Jesus is also God, so that’s a bit of a competitive advantage).

But no one is born wise. Interestingly enough, apparently even a younger Jesus had room to grow in wisdom (see Luke 2:52). The question, then, is where does wisdom come from? Where does it begin? How do we become increasingly wise?

According to 1 Kings 3, wisdom begins from a posture of humility. God asks Solomon what he would like to receive from God. Just so we’re on the same page, this is the God who spoke creation into existence, the authoritative Ruler and Sustainer of the heavens and earth. He literally had the ability to give Solomon anything he might ask for.

So what did Solomon ask for?

“I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in…Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people.” (1 Kings 3:7, 9)

The wisest man to ever live came to be the wisest man to ever live precisely because he acknowledged he was not all that wise to begin with. In humility (“I am but a little child…”), Solomon knew he didn’t have what it took to govern God’s people. He didn’t have all the answers–if this whole deal was going to work, Solomon knew he needed a lot of help. So, in humility, he asked. And from his surplus, God supplied.

Despite what we seem to wish our social media feeds would lead others to believe, we don’t know it all. We could all use a healthy helping of wisdom. The good news is that the God who supplied wisdom to Solomon has also promised to supply wisdom to his people, giving “generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5). But a prerequisite to obtaining said wisdom is asking God for it–or, to put it another way, humbly admitting that you are not what he is: all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, and always in control.

1 Kings 2

Read 1 Kings 2

1 Kings 2:4 “… if your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul….”

What an incredible charge/responsibility/privilege we have as parents. This is why parenting is so scary and why more often then not, after an extended conversation with a parent, they will often say in jest or in desperation “I don’t know what I am doing!” Because the higher the stakes, the higher the likelihood we will feel less than confident that we are doing the job well. This is why David, as he drew near to the end of his life, so strongly reminded his son, Solomon, to continue “walking in his (God’s) ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules and his testimonies…”

This is our call as parents, to lead our children in the ways of God. Some times that feels like a joy, as they jump up in excitement about going to “their class at big church” and sometimes that feels worse than chore as we have to drag them pouting to church and force them to go to their life group. But remember that God is with us providing for us the patience and endurance we need to run the race of parenting. One thing I love about 1 Kings 2 is the way Solomon responded to David’s words. He listened to his father. What are our words and actions telling our children and how can we continue teaching them better?

Psalms 148-150

Read Psalms 148-150.

Have you every played the tambourine? It’s tremendously fun. When you hold a tambourine, you can’t help put shake it around and try out some rhythms. They’re loud, they’re fun, and they make music more exciting. Some people even bring their own tambourines to church.

In these three psalms, we see a clear theme: Praise the Lord! These psalms encourage all of creation to praise God with everything we’ve got.

Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150:3-6, ESV

Trumpets! Strings and pipe! Lute and harp! Loud clashing cymbals! Tambourine and dance!

I do not think this is an extensive or exclusive list of tools we can use to praise our God, but it is a great frame of reference for how we should approach worship. Worship should be exciting and celebratory because God is worthy of that response and so much more. The references to praising Him with tambourines in Psalms 149 and 150 give us a great parallel for our worship today. When you’re holding a tambourine, you can’t help but play it. When you behold the glory of God, you can’t help but praise Him.

Psalms 119:129-176, 139

Read Psalms 119:129-176, 139.

Is it too early for a little bit of music theory? I guess there’s only one way to find out. I promise that this is going somewhere. Theme and variations is a form of musical composition and performance where an initial theme is played and then altered in subsequent repetitions. The melody might change slightly, the rhythm might shift, or the accompaniment might differ to name just a few examples. There is a consistent theme throughout the piece, but each variation serves to highlight or illuminate something different. That seems to me to be a lot like what is going on in Psalm 119. The 22 stanzas offer a number of variations, but each one carries the same theme–the goodness of God’s law as a guide for life.

In Psalm 119:168, that theme takes this form, “I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.” While continuing to celebrate the goodness of God’s guidance, the psalmist also acknowledges the reality that God knows us fully, a theme expanded upon in Psalm 139. Many have had the idea that God sees all they do used against them as a weapon of fear and control, but David–in Psalm 139–celebrates this idea in verse 3, “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” It leads him to wonder at God’s constant presence and continued protection before pleading in verse 24, “And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” In David’s variation on this theme, he not only celebrates God knowing all his ways but invites God even closer.

How is this theme playing out in your life? Are you able to celebrate the goodness of God’s guidance? Does God’s knowledge of your ways lead you toward fear or toward faith? What David had discovered is that God knew him fully and loved him relentlessly. That theme holds true for you, too.

Psalm 119:49-128

Read Psalm 119:49-128

Often, when we pray, we come to the Lord with our list of requests. We seek Him to heal a sickness, or to open a door for a promotion. “Lord, please do…” and we can fill in the blank with endless possibilities. 

But, when I read through the book of Psalm, I’m encouraged to think a little different about the way I pray. 

In fact, everything about the way I’ve thought about prayer changes. 

It moves me from a place of only needing or making my requests known, to a place of gratitude. A place where I’m intentionally being thankful for God and who He is. 

Reading through Psalm 119, verses 49 – 128 in particular, the Psalmist reminds of the confidence we can have in our Lord. It’s His word that sustains us. We can thank Him for that.

We’re reminded of how God’s Word revives us even in our suffering. And we’re reminded to seek God’s Word and go to Him with all that we are. 

We have a God who is for us, who wants to be with us, who wants us to seek after Him. He’s just so good.

No matter our situation or circumstance, we can thank God for who He is and all that He’s done, doing, and will do in our lives. 

Blessings

Psalm 119:1-48

Read Psalm 119:1-48

I can remember school assignments for which the requirement was to write a certain number of pages on a single subject. I can also remember frequently thinking something along the lines of, “How in the world am I going to write that many pages about that?”

Today’s reading makes up part of the longest chapter in the Bible and, even though David’s writing spans 176 verses, it’s all about a single subject: God’s good and perfect law.

How did David write about God’s Word at such great length? 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon offers this response:

“All human books grow stale after a time; but with the Word of God the desire to study it increases, while the more you know of it the less you think you know. The Book grows upon you; as you dive into its depths you have a fuller perception of the infinity which remains unexplored. You are still sighing to enjoy more of that which is your bliss to taste.”

As you read David’s words today, whether from a device or a page, remember that he is writing about the very Word that you hold in your hand. This Word has been breathed out by the living God (2 Tim. 3:16) and, as such, is living and active itself (Heb. 4:12). You could give the rest of your life to reading and studying it and yet never fully mine it for all the riches contained within. 

Nevertheless, I hope you will give the rest of your life to reading, studying, and applying the good and perfect law of the Lord. And as you do so, I hope it elicits the same response in you that it did in David–one of devotion to God and desire to know his Word all the more.

Psalm 1 & 19

Read Psalm 1 & 19.

Have you ever noticed that when you are spending an inordinate amount of time watching Hallmark movies over the holidays that you tend to see all the possibilities for happily ever after endings in the world around you? Or when you get sucked into a crime drama you suddenly start sensing the dangers lurking in the shadows? I don’t know if this is true for you; maybe it’s just me. What I do know is that what we meditate on has a direct correlation to the condition of our hearts and our perspectives on the world. It impacts the way we relate to others, how we engage with the world, and how we view our Creator King. These two wisdom psalms remind us of the importance of walking in the way of the Lord and recognizing the glory of His handiwork and Word.

We have a multitude of options to choose from when it comes to pastimes…most of which are wonderful in moderation. However, as the psalmists reminds us, there is one thing that we should meditate on day and night, in which we should delight…the law of the Lord. We are blessed to have the ability to witness the glory of God in all His creation around us, if we just take the time to open our eyes and hearts. We are provided with the gift of His Word, if we just take the time to become students of it. As we set out to meet the goals we’ve set for ourselves in this new year, let’s take the time to truly evaluate the priority we place on spending time in the Word, to growing in our relationship with our Father, and delighting in His glory. That we would view the world around us with the filter of His grace and mercy, finding opportunities daily to rejoice in the gospel and share it with others. That this would be our most prominent goal.

2 Samuel 24, Psalm 24

Read 2 Samuel 24, Psalm 24.

Reading through Psalm 24, I was drawn to these verses:

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Psalm 24:3-6, ESV

These are great questions. Who can approach God? What are the requirements to be with Him? David writes in the psalm that it requires clean hands and a pure heart, and that with those things we may receive blessing and righteousness. But our hands are not clean; they are stained. Our hearts are not pure; they are contaminated and deceitful.

Who possesses these qualities? Jesus is the only one. His death on the cross was payment for our sins. Because of His sacrifice our hands are clean and our hearts are His. It is only because of Jesus that we have any hope to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place. It is only through Jesus that we will receive blessing and righteousness.

Psalm 51

Read Psalm 51.

Happy New Year! What better way to celebrate than with a psalm about sin! I’m sure you had it on your playlist as you rang in the new year. Yeah, probably not, but would it be the worst new year’s anthem? That answer probably depends on what we think this psalm is about. Is it really a psalm about sin as I suggested earlier? Yes, David sings about his sin as one who is broken over his transgressions, but I’m not sure that’s what the psalm is about. It isn’t, at least, where the psalm begins.

From the opening line, there is another theme of this psalm–the mercy and grace of God. David sings this song, not just because he recognized how he sinned, but even more because he trusted that God’s mercy was more abundant than his transgressions. David’s heart was broken and contrite, but the reason he sang was because he had hope. He believed that God was able to renew and restore what sin had broken. He trusted that his departure from God’s path did not mean that God would depart from him.

As we look back on the year that is gone and look forward to the year ahead, this may be just the song we need–a song about a God who can restore and uphold those who have fallen.