Flirting with Faith

“Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, ‘John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he sought to see him...

“At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’”

“When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.  The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.” Luke 9:7-9; 13:31; 23:8-12

Herod was a man who gloated in his power and relished being titillated and entertained. He did not like being put on a spot about any personal belief or conviction, and shrank from being called to account. He much preferred to skim along truth’s surface where he could flirt with curiosity and gloss over real meaning- anything, including befriending a former enemy, to avoid having to make a faith decision about Jesus. (Luke 8:25)

It is one thing to want to know about Jesus, and entirely another to desire to know Him. Our world offers a full menu of opportunities to read and learn about the Lord, and wide is that road. But to get to know Him, personally and intimately, is an exercise of faith many eschew. We dance around the truth of who Jesus is with partners who share our inquisitiveness but coerce us into avoiding any commitment, any decision that instills accountability or requires a change of heart or habit. We might recognize the Spirit’s quickening, then unwittingly surround ourselves with nay-sayers, attempting to be placated and gain approval by rejecting the truth. Flirting with faith is a dangerous practice; God will not be mocked. (Matthew 7:13; Galatians 6:7-8)

Do we settle for superficial acquaintance with “Christians,” name-dropping from a conference attended or book read, but have no pulsing passion for Christ or measurable stride of faith to show? Are we all shallow talk and no depth walk? What evidence is there, looking back over the year, of significant transformation of our understanding, our temper and temperament, our attitude toward others, our exercise of faith over fear or peace over worry? How is growing faith shrinking old habits and prejudices?

When the Spirit moves us to surrender and we cease flirting, and fall in love with Jesus, we will not be able to get enough of Him. There will be no turning back in our quest to know Him, obey Him, honor Him, and glorify Him.

Father, may I never settle for shallow faith and cursory living. Drive me deep with You every day, and compel me to go deeper still and so be transformed from glory to glory until I see your face. (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:2)

Let Justice Roll (and Begin with Me)

“Seek the Lord and live,
    lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
    and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
O you who turn justice to wormwood
    and cast down righteousness to the earth!

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness into the morning
    and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name…

“They hate him who reproves in the gate,
    and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
 Therefore because you trample on the poor
    and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
    but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
    but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions
    and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
    and turn aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
    for it is an evil time.

“Seek good, and not evil,
    that you may live…
Hate evil, and love good,
    and establish justice in the gate…

“I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings..,
    I will not accept them…
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Amos 5:6-8,10-15, 21-24

The powers of the world are formidable, but God’s is greater. (John 8:44; 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:55-58; 1 John 4:4) The enemy relentlessly distorts, deceives, and destroys, but God is Victor over him, his minions, and every strategy and tool of his trade. In situations where injustice rules and wickedness wins, we can know this is not the ultimate ending, but what to make of present evil?

Could it be that the injustice we see- that cracks open our hearts and contorts our sensibilities- is intended to prompt us to action? What do we do with our angst and anger? Are we learning God’s way of turning it to earnest prayer, of imploring the Righteous One for intervention, exposure, justice? What would change in my attitudes and impulses if I asked for the Lord’s eyes in seeing others? (Luke 19:41-42; James 5:16; Revelation 6:10)

Could it be that the Lord intends for me to thread His shining, unexpected grace here and there through my culture? If the time we spent on ‘show’ and our man-made efforts to please God were replaced with genuine, merciful acts of kindness toward others, we would know true living in the grace and power of His name. Where and in what specific ways can I establish justice in my speech and manner of living? How can I spread good, and sincere love, in my treatment of others?

Could it be that the injustice we see- that seems ubiquitous as it spreads its universal cruelty via people and systems driven by pride and ill-filled agendas- is intended to awaken in us a longing for our heavenly home? There all will be well, we will have no tears. (Revelation 21:1-8,22-27)

Lord Jesus, faithful and just to forgive me, help me honor You by pouring heavenly justice and righteousness through this dark world. (1 John 1:9)

The Latitude and Altitude of Beatitudes

“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles

“And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people… And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

He went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'” Matthew 5:1-11; Luke 6:12-13,17,19

There is a wide sense of depth and breadth and height in Jesus’ beatitudes. He climbs a mountain to pray, alone with His Father, and we imagine a myriad of praises, thanksgivings, petitions, bound up in love and expectant dependency. He descends to meet His people, those who follow, those who need, those who absorb His teaching, those who are desperate. Then He ascends again, this time to give out broad and cogent teaching by way of a list of blessings. We are there, as disciples, receiving this fresh rain that soaks into every area of life.

From on high, He lifts His loving, all-knowing eyes on His children, then pronounces His benevolence into the depth of our soul need, the wideness of our hearts’ hunger and pain, the breadth of our relationships. The Son of Man who is acquainted with grief blesses that of His own, promising comfort, fulfillment, mercy, and a heavenly inheritance. He assures that now we are citizens of heaven’s kingdom, and one day will be rewarded there. (Isaiah 53:3-4)

To realize the reach of Christ’s blessings to us is to be thankful beyond expression. To realize that He who sees all things has set His eyes and His affection on us is to fall humbly before His throne in adoration. To recognize the vastness of His love and concern for all that concerns us fills us with unshakeable hope. Would we set aside lesser pursuits to come to the mount and listen to His voice, to sit under His adoring gaze and receive His blessings of promise and favor? What keeps us away, and why is it more important? (1 Chronicles 17:16-18; Psalm 138; Ephesians 1:3,11-14)

My Lord, keep me climbing ever higher to be nearer Thee. Pull me ever closer to feel Your heartbeat and synch with its pulse. May my open arms receive and extend Your wide mercies, and my lips bless others in Your name.

How Contrary Should We Be?

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious...

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless,.. that you may obtain a blessing. For

“’Whoever desires to love life
    and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
    let him seek peace and pursue it.’”
1 Peter 3:1-4,7-11

Giving in to peer pressure can veer us not only into danger as individuals, a church, or a nation, but away from God’s distinct plan. When we live according to the Scriptures, we will be seen as counter-cultural in many places. But God has beneficial and sanctifying reasons for His commands, and we are indeed blessed when we follow them. The world may never understand our satisfaction in Christ, or taste of the eternal riches we daily enjoy, but we can make them attractive by the way we live as they watch. Emulating Christ, we will stand out and apart from and contrary to the world. (Ephesians 1:3,7-8)

The world seldom esteems respectful submission, purity, mutual honor, prayerfulness, and valuing inward gentleness and a quiet spirit over outward adornment. Considering what we spend money on, what we choose for entertainment, and all that is advertised and promoted in media, biblical instructions for husbands and wives seem far-fetched, if not subversive to our me-first mentality. What do my manner and behavior tell about what I value most?

In our interactions with others, particularly those with whom we have disagreement or a different view, how common is it to work for agreement, show sympathy, brotherly love, tenderness and humility? To do so is unexpected, and may not even be well-received, but it honors the Lord and opens possibilities for His light to shine in darkness and opportunity to tell the reason for the hope we have. What we do with our tongues when we hold back lies, retribution, and blame, and instead bless and speak calmly and kindly, may both surprise and irresistibly draw those who long for something more than the world’s fare of deceit, crassness, criticism, and complaint. (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 3:15-16)

Where do I need an adjustment toward contrariness? What steps can I take to be lit from underneath and inside to show forth His character?

Lord, give me boldness to stay contrary to the world and aligned with You. So fill me that my different way of living makes a difference to those I encounter, for Your sake and glory.

Legacy of Heart and Hand

“Then David said, ‘Here shall be the house of the Lord God…’ David… set stonecutters to prepare dressed stones for building the house of God. David also provided great quantities of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for clamps, as well as bronze.., and cedar timbers… David said, ‘Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands. I will therefore make preparation for it.’

“Then he called Solomon his son and charged him to build a house for the Lord. David said, ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood… Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest… He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.”

“‘Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God. May the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep [his] law… Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. I have provided… gold, silver, bronze, iron… timber, stone. To these you must add.  You have stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The Lord be with you!

“‘Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary… for the name of the Lord.’” 1 Chronicles 22:1-16,19

David was a man of many talents, and burning holy desire. The Lord had honed and implemented his skills for the good of Israel, and near the end of his reign, led him to prepare his son Solomon to carry on His kingdom work. David’s priorities as a parent, in this case, are admirable: he pointed Solomon first to the Lord, encouraged his fidelity to God’s word, then supplied much- but not all- of what he would need. He knew that being given everything could emasculate Solomon and steal his opportunity to develop as a leader, to grow in faith and dependence on God, to work hard at his distinct assignment.

When desires are held out to the Lord, He will direct our paths forward with them. David could have bemoaned God’s “not you”, yet he willingly accepted it and proceed accordingly. ‘If that’s not what You want, then lead me to what you do want.’ Shouldn’t this be our submitted position with every passion, no matter how ‘right’ it is? (Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:1-3)

How indicative is our behavior of the fact that our relationship with the Lord is completely integrated with our work? With those for whom we are responsible, do we balance spiritual instruction with practical advice, godly wisdom with material supplies? Are we committed to teaching and emulating the intertwining of truth and talent, heart and hand, that our lives are from God and to be lived for Him? (Isaiah 49:3; Acts 17:28; Colossians 1:16)

Father, order my efforts to reflect Your pattern, so the instruction and legacy I leave reflects Your priorities and supremacy.

The Asterisk on Good Intentions*

“David consulted with the commanders, [and] said to all the assembly, ‘If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God,.. let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.’  All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people...

“So David assembled all Israel ..,[and] went up to Kiriath-jearim to bring from there the ark of God… And they carried the ark on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.

“And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.  And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And David was afraid of God that day… So David did not take the ark home into the city of David...

“Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark… And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark to its place, which he had prepared for it... He said to them,.. ‘Consecrate yourselves, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.’ The Levites consecrated themselves… and carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord... God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant.” 1 Chronicles 13:1-13; 15:2-3,12-15,26

*They must be done God’s way.

The best intentions fall flat and can even be destructive when not carried out according to God‘s commands. David learned the hard way that eager zeal to do for God resulted in death, shock, sorrow, and fear because of his impulsive, thoughtless action. Means are important when it comes to our (and God’s) ends. Direction and provision for follow-through will always accompany Spirit-prompted action. (2 Corinthians 8:11; Titus 2:11-14)

When the Lord plants an idea, our flesh can grab the baton and run without considering His best way to go about the action. While the Lord is pleased at our honorable intentions and desires to please Him and others, He also cares that we submit our desires to Him for His approval. He may say ‘wait,’ or use us to do the preparation work for another. (1 Chronicles 17:1-15; Psalm 37:4)

What good intentions have we left undone because we resist the Lord’s pace or method? Are there desires we let grow into impulses that drive us ahead of the Lord? Would we pause to seek God’s call and direction? In what specific commands are we tempted to evade God’s way to charge ahead in ours?

Lord, inspire, clarify, and define my every good intention, and lead me to accomplish them in Your best way and for Your glory.

Appointed Thanksgiving

“And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.  And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord  and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.

Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel… Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!..
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered…

He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
Remember his covenant forever…

Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods.
 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness…
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”
1 Chronicles 16:1-4,7-10,12,14-15,23-29,36

David has been established as king, and sets many priorities in his kingdom aright, especially that of worshiping God and giving the ark of His presence a revered place. He sees to proper sacrifices, and blesses God’s people from the bounty their generous, faithful Lord has supplied. Then he appoints a distinct day, a time set apart, to give thanks, as well as individuals whose regular job this would be. His kingdom would continually thrum with a rhythm of gratitude, keeping sights high and heavenward, and pride at bay.

When we are humbled by His greatness and all His spiritual gifts, the Lord is in His rightful place in our esteem, our hearts, and our offerings. We live within a framework of thanksgiving that affects all we perceive, think, and express.

Are we anxious, uncertain, lonely? Thank God for His omnipresence! Are we angry at injustice? Thank God for His pure and certain judgments. Is truthful information difficult to discern? Thank God for His immutable word.

What would change in our atmosphere if we thanked God for His cross and manifold good deeds instead of complaining and recounting difficulties? How might our attitude toward family and neighbors change if we intentionally thanked God for their good qualities, and what they teach us?

Good Father, keep me consumed with Your splendor and singing thanksgiving all the day, for You are uniquely, majestically worthy.

Lessons from Celestial Lights

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:1,3-9

A perfect circle is faintly stamped in the black pre-dawn sky, with white paint thick only on its lower edge, like a fingernail just above the horizon. So many stars twinkle across the black canopy I cannot count or decipher all the constellations. I am agape. A shooting star, now another, streaks its white trail that quickly disappears. This moon, and a bright planet, hold my gaze. What is man, Lord… Who am I, that You would care for me? That You would place these celestial lights before me to make me wonder?

Yet, You have made me, immeasurably smaller, but intricate and in Your image. You know my name, and have set Your limitless affection upon me. You created the heavens to declare Your glory and teach me to exult in all You are. (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 19:1; 139:1-6; Isaiah 49:1)

I learn from Your celestial lights…

… of Your power to create and uphold all things with precision and might, maintaining their balance with gravity, in orbit; suspended, yet held. You are infinitely mighty and strong. (Amos 5:8; 9:6; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3)

… of Your order, Your perfect design and plan that reflect the precision and beauty and serenity of Your character. All is well with You. You have fashioned creation to teach about life, renewal, fidelity, eternity. You designed the stars to be signs of time and seasons. You are an exquisite and remarkable Architect. (Genesis 1:14-18)

… of Your creativity, Your divine tracing of light and shape, twinkle and shine, and the curve of spheres. The skies reveal whimsy and humor and the delight You take in the act of Your craft of making. You are marvelous, and the Purveyor of inexplicable wonder.

… of Your love, the benevolence You hold for Your own. You spread this vast array for the pleasure of our senses, for intellectual marvel, exploration, and discovery. Your faithfulness in spinning our earth, and setting stars for pictures and in place that return again and again, teaches of your steadfastness, Your unconditional love, Your finished work on our behalf, Your fresh and dependable sameness, Your glory. You are a consistent Lover that knows no bounds, and You keep secure and in perfect peace Your beloved children. (Psalm 36:5; 103:11; Isaiah 26:3; Hebrews 13:8)

Lord my Lord, keep me marveling at the heavens, above and immeasurably beyond which You reside and rule. Cause them to continually remind me how tiny I am, and how great You are and always will be.

The Word Reaches Even Kings

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying,‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city… And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, ‘Let… man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.’1When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.Jonah 1:1-3; 3:1-10

“I must preach the good news..; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

God’s word is a fire, powerful and transformative, yet the soil on which it falls determines the effect it has on us. When it first came to Jonah, his stubborn sense of justice held it at bay, and he ran. But in the belly of the fish, Jonah came to his senses, and the next time it was issued, it prevailed, compelling him to obey; now it was the Ninevites’ turn. (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 13:1-9,18-23)

Marvelously, in Ninevah it was irresistible, penetrating the vilest and hardest of hearts. The people of this wicked city, and even their godless king, were humbled and forever changed by its formidable truth and conviction. There is no place, and no person, God’s word cannot reach.

Am I willing to confront the ‘kings’ of pride, sloth, and resentment in my own life with the gospel of change and freedom? What personal attitudes or habits do I shelter from the Bible’s influence? Where have I deemed myself “fixed,” “the way I am and always will be,” un-amendable, or beyond sanctification? Where do I need the word’s refinement? What will it take to expose my hidden places to its holy light, and let it burn and have its way?

Do I write off particular individuals, judging that there is no way they would turn from their idols to believe in Jesus? Do I relegate, even subconsciously, the worst, the most famous and important ‘kings of this world,’ beyond redemption, irreversibly beyond the word’s reach and effect? Would I consider earnest prayer for them, then expectantly commit time and attention to it?

Lord, pierce my heart with Your word that never returns void. Accomplish all You intend in and through me, daily, by Your living and active word. May I proclaim it clearly so it has its effect in all my interactions and reach, for Your redemptive sake. (Isaiah 55:10-11; Hebrews 4:12)

Sober Judgment and a High View

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:1,3-4

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant. For your servant’s sake, O Lord, and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears... And now, O Lord, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O Lord, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:16-20,26-27

“By the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

There is so much about David that is admirable and attractive and worthy of emulation. Certainly he made some gross errors in judgment and let emotions dictate choices to grave sin, but from early on, when God had him in the sheep fields, he learned a high view of his God. It captured his heart, saturated his thinking, and colored his view of everything, including his understanding of himself and where he fit in God’s plan. (1 Samuel 17:32-37, 43-50)

He was a man, like us, who never lost sight of his Master, the only true Lord. He was ruddy, handsome, and brave, yet delighted in the beauty and strength of God. He was a brilliant and successful king, yet regularly acknowledged his dependence on Almighty God who had called him. (1 Samuel 16:12; Psalm 25:1-5; 27:4; 31:14

Understanding who we are by soberly assessing ourselves is a good way to begin plumb the depths of God who made and redeemed us. And contemplating Him in His infinite splendor helps us to see ourselves soberly. The seesaw of this regular meditation is healthy and instructive for our outlook on others, the ideas that bombard us through media, and world events.

Where are we caught up in the tangle of comparisons with other people- strengths, looks, achievements- and so blur our sight to a realistic view of self and the true authority of our King of kings? What have we allowed to cloud our vision? Taking a long look at the clear night or deep blue sky will sober and realign us.

Lord, I want my Father’s eyes. I want to see as You see, both myself, and Your royal splendor. Grant me honest, holy vision for Your kingdom and Your kingdom’s sake.