1 Kings 4 – Here and Now

“It doesn’t get any better than this.” It’s something we say when things feel good, worries seem to evaporate, and all seems right with the world. Maybe you’ve said it on the beach, during a vacation, at your favorite restaurant, or just someplace with your feet kicked up.

It’s a statement that fits 1 Kings chapter 4, because in this chapter…

It’s easy to assume all of this just happened; that it was just the “luck of the draw.” But remember, 1 Kings chapter 4 is preceded by 1 Kings chapters 2 and 3. The foundation for this current prosperity and peace was laid through a past pursuit of God and a willingness to make difficult decisions for Him.

The “here and now” is a product of the “there and then.” And this “here and now” is the preparation for a future “out there.” One stream flows into the other. A future of prosperity and peace depends on a present pursuit and dependence on God…and the willingness to make the difficult decisions that will align us with Him.

If the future is to be a time when we say, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” we must pave the way in the “here and now” by pursuing God and making difficult decisions for Him…now!

1 Kings 3 – If You Could Have Anything You Want

It’s the age-old question: “If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?”

As kids, we dreamed about the answer to that question. Even as adults, we’ve looked longingly at those people in the world who have the ability to have whatever they want and wondered what that would be like.

In 1 Kings chapter 3, Solomon is actually given the opportunity to have whatever he asks for. And of all the things he could have asked for, he asks for the wisdom to lead and serve the people well. This selfless request so touches the heart of God that God not only gives Solomon the wisdom he asked for but also all the other things he didn’t ask for – riches, honor, fame, etc.

This story is not intended to be a lesson on how to indirectly get God to give you everything you want. Instead, it’s a lesson on being the person God desires. It’s about having a full heart, rather than full hands. 1 Kings 3:3 says that Solomon loved the Lord, was obedient to Him, and was grateful to Him. So, when it came to making his request, Solomon put others ahead of himself. Simply put, he loved the Lord his God and loved his neighbor as himself. (Matt. 22:37-40)

Could this be the reason God doesn’t give us the same opportunity to ask for whatever we want? Would our request really honor God and others, or would our request be more selfish than selfless? (James 4:3)

May God give us a stronger desire for hearts that are full of Him than for hands that are full of stuff.

1 Kings 2 – Loyalty, Alignment, and New Leadership

Every four to eight years, our country goes through a historic transfer of leadership from one president to the next. When a new president comes into office, they immediately make changes to the status quo, establishing themselves as the new leader.

It’s important that a new, incoming leader firmly establish their position and authority as a leader. They need to make changes, not just for the sake of change, but to quickly establish and align things to fit their personality and calling.

You see this in 1 Kings chapter 2. After his father David’s death, Solomon must establish his place and authority as Israel’s king. Though some of his steps seem brutal and vengeful, Solomon is addressing issues of loyalty and alignment in order to firmly establish his leadership. (1 Kings 2:12,46)

Loyalty and alignment are key to reaching goals; whether you’re a married couple, a family, a company, a church, or a nation. (Amos. 3:3) That loyalty and alignment do not always have to be achieved by force (as was Jesus’ example,) but they do need to be achieved.

This is why 1 Kings chapter 2 begins with David’s charge to Solomon to observe the requirements of the Lord. David charges Solomon to be loyal to following God’s laws, commands, regulations, and ways. Because loyalty and alignment with God bring about the goals of God’s administration.

The same is true when it comes to our walk with Christ. The more we are loyal to and aligned with the heart and ways of Christ, the more we will achieve the goals He has for us. For we are following more than a president who’s here for 4-8 years and then gone. We are following the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Whose rule and reign will never end.

1 Kings 1 – Rivalry

Two different factions, each trying to get the upper hand on the other. Each trying to gain control. Each trying to be on top.

This is the story of 1 Kings chapter 1…and of 1 Kings as a whole. The book begins with one brother (Adonijah) trying to grab the kingdom from the other brother (Solomon.) Adonijah is aggressive. He tries to stake first claim, and it looks like he’s going to gain the power. But then the whole thing reverses. Solomon become king, and Adonijah is left out, afraid of losing his life.

This theme is not just a theme for ancient kings. This theme of two different factions, each trying to get the upper hand and be on top, continues to play out today…in countries, in political parties, in marriage, in sibling rivalries, on the sports field, and in life in general. One person or one group trying to get more, be more, or do more than the other.

Within each of us wars two factions…the part of us that wants it’s own way and the part of us that wants a better path. And this is certainly true for those of us who have given our lives and allegiance to Christ. The Holy Spirit, Who resides within us, calls us to pursue God’s desires. But our flesh calls us to pursue our own desires. (Romans 7:15) It’s the great internal rivalry.

As you see through out 1 Kings, the key lies in our character. When we allow God to craft our character with truth and goodness, our conduct leans toward truth and goodness. Life, leadership, and legacy comes from the inside out. Allow the Spirit, rather than the flesh, to win the reign of the internal. Then God will win the reign of the external also.

2 Samuel 24 – Righting Your Wrongs

Have you ever done something you knew was not right? Maybe others even told you it wasn’t wise, but you did it anyway. Then afterwards, things began to unravel. Your conscience began to trouble you. Your situation got worse. And you began to realize you needed to right your wrong.

Oddly enough, God ends the book of 2 Samuel with just such a situation. In 2 Samuel chapter 24, Israel has sinned and David falls to temptation, taking an unnecessary and uncalled for census. (1 Chronicles 21:1) Perhaps David’s act of taking a census was an act of pride and arrogance, but afterwards David knows he has done wrong. God, being just, brings judgement on the sin of David and Israel…graciously allowing David some say in the judgement.

Then, in mercy, God relents. He tells David to offer a sacrifice at the very place where David experienced mercy.  Though the owner of the land, the oxen, and the wood needed for the sacrifice offers it all to David for free, David insists on buying them instead…knowing that by its very nature and definition, a sacrifice must cost us something.

Why would God put such an account at the end of 2 Samuel? Why would He conclude the story of David in such a way? Perhaps its a reminder to us that no matter how much God blesses us, we should never get “too big for our britches.” Perhaps its a reminder to listen to wise counsel, no matter how successful we’ve become. (Proverbs 13:10) (Proverbs 21:11) (Proverbs 11:14) And perhaps it’s a reminder that God will not ignore sin…no matter who you are. (Numbers 32:23)

We must not forget that how our story ends will depend on whether we heed these same reminders and remain humble before the Lord.

2 Samuel 23 – Superheroes

Over the years, superhero movies have made a comeback. When I was a boy, I read superhero comic books and dreamed about what it would be like if they really existed. I wondered what it would be like if you could watch their mighty acts and see them use their powers.

What it would be like if I could be a superhero?

In 2 Samuel chapter 23, we read about men who were the superheroes of their day. These men did extraordinary things and were heralded as heroes among the people. And they were not just fantasy, science fiction characters. They really existed!

No, these men were not able to fly, shoot beams from their eyes, or see-through walls. But they did have special characteristics that made them superheroes.

What were those characteristics?

  • Loyalty.
  • Willingness to face difficulty.
  • Belief in what they were doing.
  • Unwavering trust in God.
  • Persistence.
  • Complete commitment to their goal.
  • A refusal to give up.

These are the qualities that turned ordinary men into superheroes.

So what I dreamed of as a kid is possible. It’s possible to have real live superheroes in our midst. More than that, it’s possible for me to be one of them. Not by having extraordinary outward abilities, but by having extraordinary inward qualities. These are the inward qualities that lead us to extraordinary actions.

You don’t have to have a cape to be a superhero. You just have to lean on the power and might of the Lord. (2 Sam. 23:10-12) (Zech. 4:6) (Zech. 10:12)

2 Samuel 22 – Thinking About God’s Goodness

As I was out walking one morning, I was struck by how pleasant the morning was. It was a little cool, a little breezy, and just right. And so, I started thinking about how good I really have it. I thought about how much God has blessed me and how far He has brought me. His goodness came flooding in on me.

That’s what’s happening with David in 2 Samuel chapter 22. At a time when things are good, David thinks back on all that God has done for him. He thinks about the places to which God has brought him and he’s flooded with the realization of how good God has been to him. David is so overwhelmed by all that God has done for him that he sings and compares it to Moses’ Red Sea crossing.

When’s the last time you found yourself thinking about God’s goodness. How long has it been since you have rehearsed God’s leading, rescues, provision, and protection?

Things might not be all that good for you right now, but it’s funny how rehearsing God’s past goodness to you can change your perspective on your present situation.

Try it. I dare you!

2 Samuel 20-21 – There’s a Time for Everything.

According to the 60’s rock group, The Byrds, there is a time and a season for everything. (Actually, that idea comes from Ecclesiastes chapter 3. The Byrds just borrowed it.) Sometimes it’s time to heal, and sometimes it’s time to kill. Sometimes it’s time for peace, and sometimes it’s time for war. I guess the key is knowing which time is which, and when one time will actually lead to the other.

The theme of 2 Samuel 19 was mercy and forgiveness. But in the next 2 chapters, the theme or season changes to punishment and avenging.

David sends his army to squelch a revolt led by Sheba. It ends in Sheba having his head cut off and tossed over the wall of the city in which he was hiding. Joab takes back his position of leadership by killing his cousin (who had been given the job,) and David turns over seven relatives of the former king Saul to be executed by the Gibeonites for crimes against them carried out by Saul.

It can feel a little like Jekyll and Hyde when you compare 2 Samuel chapter 19 to 2 Samuel chapters 20 and 21. And I admit, I’m not sure I have the contrast figured out. But it seems that all the actions taken in chapters 20-21 are for the purpose of restoring peace and unity.

So, perhaps the lesson is this…the goal should always be peace and unity. If that goal can be attained by extending mercy and grace, we should do so. If not, we may have to pursue more “aggressive” options…but only for the purpose of maintaining peace and unity.

And we must diligently seek God for the wisdom to know which option is called for.

2 Samuel 19 – Become a Kinder and Gentler You

There are some things in life that can change a person.

  • Going through a war.
  • Having a stroke.
  • Being victimized.
  • Going through a divorce.

Things like these can impact a person to the point of changing how they see and react to people and life.

In 2 Samuel chapter 19, you see a changed David. There, rather than exercising military might, David offers kindness and mercy to those who had rebelled against him.

What was it that prompted this kinder, gentler David? Perhaps he felt he had brought on their rebellion because of his actions with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 12:11-12)

But perhaps David was keenly aware of the undeserved mercy he had received from God, and it prompted him to be more merciful to those who had wronged him and were undeserving of mercy.

We’re told that of those who are given much, much is required. (Luke 12:48) We’re also told that those who have been forgiven much should love much. (Luke 7:36-47) David knew how much God had forgiven him. He also knew how much mercy God had shown him. This awareness led him to be more merciful and forgiving to those who had rebelled against him.

When’s the last time you stopped to think about how much God has forgiven you, or how much mercy He has shown you?

If you make a habit of remembering God’s mercy and forgiveness toward you, it will change how you respond to others; especially those who have wronged you.

The Greatest Two-Minute Truth

Each week, I post a two-minute truth from Scripture hopefully is personal, practical, and helps you through your week.

But on this week of Christmas, the greatest two-minute truth I could post would be this…God loves you! It may not feel like it right now. It may not look like it right now. But God loves you so much He has already given you the greatest gift He could give you…the gift of His Son, Jesus.

When you reach out and take this gift, it will change your life. It may not change things externally, but it will change you, internally and eternally.

I hope you will accept God’s gift of Jesus this Christmas. It’s a two-minute truth that will not only change your week…it will change your life and your eternity!

Merry Christmas!