Ask for Wisdom

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”  And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today.  And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted.  Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” – 1 Kings 3:5-9 (NRSV)

Wisdom is one of those characteristics that defy social boundaries.  It is the scepter kings rule by, the beacon that draws the child into adulthood and the soundness of thought that pulls our attention regardless of where the voice is coming from.  For Solomon it was the defining characteristic of his life, and where his father wrote songs and psalms, Solomon wrote on wisdom.  But we don’t hear much about wisdom today.

There is much being said about people who are intelligent, savvy, smart or insightful, but not much on people who are wise.  God, however, is not as interested in us being savvy, smart or insightful, as He is in us treasuring wisdom.  Unfortunately wisdom doesn’t get talked about much today.  The world is more interested in information and acquisition than wise words; more attentive to changing opinions than clearly state truth.  It is one of the reasons that wisdom stands out when we see it or hear it.

There is a lot of information out there for parents.  Much of it is intelligent and savvy, but there is one thing parents should seek with far more diligence and passion and that is wisdom.  We can read articles, study books and listen to TV shows, but godly wisdom will outdo them all and help us sort through all that information with more clarity and discernment.

Lord, grant me wisdom to raise my children in righteousness and truth.  Help me to seek wisdom each day in thought and deed and put a hunger in my children’s minds for Your wisdom. Amen 

A Lesson in Sacrifice

That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”  Following Gad’s instructions, David went up, as the LORD had commanded.  When Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming toward him; and Araunah went out and prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground.  Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the LORD, so that the plague may be averted from the people.”  Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood.  All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God respond favorably to you.”

But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.  David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being. So the LORD answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel. – 2 Samuel 24:18-25 (NRSV)

Sacrifice requires at least one element in order to qualify as sacrifice: it must cause us a deficit of some kind.  For David, it would be easy to assume that his deficit was the cost of the threshing floor, but the real deficit for David was his reputation. By purchasing the threshing floor from Araunah, David was declaring the place of sacrifice as his and his alone.  David was living out his own words, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalms 51:17)

In today’s society, going without cable or eating out less are considered sacrifices, but they are not the ones that get us closer to the heart of God.  The kind of sacrifices that we need to teach our children about will cost us something.  They need to see in us the willingness to put our reputations, our careers, even our lives at stake for the sake of being right with God, our family and our community.

It is interesting to note that the threshing floor and the surrounding hill became the building site of the temple.  This place that was a billboard for David’s sin would become the dwelling place for God and the place of worship for His people.  This is what sacrifice does for His people – it expands His residency and gives us opportunity to worship.  Teaching our children to sacrifice like David will take time, but it will increase God’s living space in their lives and room to worship Him.

Lord, help me to be a man of sacrifice.  Give me the tools to conquer pride and selfish ambition so You can overcome the unconquered areas of my life.  Let me be an example of godly sacrifice to my children for Your name’s sake. Amen.

A Child of Your Servant

As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

“Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him. David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.” – 1 Samuel 17:57-58 (NIV)

I love the way David answers Saul.  There is a feeling that David expects Saul to know who Jesse of Bethlehem is, and maybe Saul did know of him, but pride in who David’s father is still comes through.  David’s heritage is part of his identity and he is not afraid to share it, even with the king.  This is another theme that runs through scripture, the individual identifying himself as one in a continuing chain.  While the people we read about in scripture are distinct individuals, they invariably are identified as sons and daughters of mothers and fathers.

This connectivity is falling apart in our society today.  We have so elevated individuality that the bonds of fidelity and family have eroded.  Children are becoming more and more egocentric and society is supporting this shift.  Everything is personalized, customized and individualized.  It is no longer the me generation, it is the ME GENERATION.  This is where we have to step in as followers of Christ and overcome society.

I can’t honestly say that if someone asked my daughters who their daddy was that they would answer, “I am the daughter of Chris Yeager of Redding” and think that was enough.  However, I also don’t think they have any qualms about identifying themselves as my daughters and I hope I never give them reason to.  I hope that I live in such a way that my children can introduce themselves as my children and feel good about it.  I hope that I am getting across how valuable they are to me and that they are very much part of who I am.  I hope they know I love to introduce myself as their father.  And most of all I hope that they will grow to have the same relationship with God.

Lord, help me be the kind of father that my children will respect and honor.  Bind us together with your love and grace.  Let us love one another with greater capacity every day.  Help families find wholeness and strength in one another through your mercy and truth. Amen.

Describing God’s Wonders

Due to an amazing lightning storm that passed through our area, I spent about three hours troubleshooting our internet connection.  That said, I will be posting today’s post tomorrow.  However, I did want to share an experience I had with my daughter on our drive home last night.

Due to the normal juggling of rides, schedules and available drivers, I was bringing my oldest daughter, Keely, straight from her volleyball game to my writer’s group.  This would present her the possibility of finishing up some homework and staying up past her bedtime.  Unknown to us, a storm moved into the area during our meeting and we walked to the car gaping at the lightning scattering across the night sky.

While we were driving home, it was clear that Keely was a little unnerved by the quantity and quality of the lightning.  I tried to explain how we were safe since the rubber of the tires insulated the car and that most of the lightning was in the hills or travelling from cloud to cloud.  These scientific statements did not comfort her, and then it struck me. (horrible lightning pun intended)

I told her we were going to play a game that went like this: I would begin with a word beginning with the letter “A” that described lightning.  She would then have to come up with a word beginning with the letter “B” to describe lightning and so on until we reached the letter “Z.”  This seemed to help her focus less on her fear and more on the lightning.  Although she did use the word horrific for the letter “H.”

God can be scary and beyond comprehension, but when we take the time to concentrate on His character instead of on our fear, we begin to see Him differently.  We can appreciate the beauty of His power instead of worrying about how tiny we are in comparison.  This is why worship is so important – it gets our eyes off of us and our worries and on Him and His amazing qualities.  What is your alphabet description of God today?

Listening to God

The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.

So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” – 1 Samuel 3:8-10 (NIV)

Listening to God is something we learn to do.  Our ears – and more importantly, our souls – are not tuned to His voice when we are born.  Our feet our not moving to the beat of His drum, our hands do not play the harmonies to His melody and our mouths have yet to learn the words to the song.  If there was anything written about Eli that was commendable, it was his wisdom in helping Samuel listen to God.

My oldest daughter is getting an ear for God’s voice. Her feet are taking her in the right direction, her hands are doing the work He has set before her and she is learning the words to His song every day.  She is learning how to listen to God.  I am not always the best help with this as I have my off days with God’s voice, but I often find that the quickest way to unplug your own ears is to help others listen for His voice.

Lord, help me teach my children to listen for Your voice.  Give me the wisdom and words to call them to sing Your songs.  May they say to You, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Amen.

A Family of Our Choosing

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”  When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. – Ruth 1:16-18 (NIV)

Family is a funny thing.  While blood is supposedly thicker than water, Ruth proves otherwise.  It was her commitment to Naomi despite blood that gained her a reputation among the Jewish people.  It was her entrance into a family of her choosing that set her apart as honorable and noble.  It was her decision to stay with the family she adored that placed her in the lineage of David and Jesus.

We all have two families; the one we are born into (or adopted into) and the one we chose to be part of.  The family of man and the family of God.  As our children grow in their life with God, they will need to choose to be a part of God’s family.  It is not something they can inherit or marry into; it is something they must choose and keep choosing.  However, it is the responsibility of the family by blood to prepare them for the spiritual family.

This is why it is so important to be part of a community of believers.  It is hard to know how to live with family if you aren’t spending time with them.  Children need to be involved in prayer, worship, service and fellowship.  They will need to learn how to get along with their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our children are also God’s children, with family responsibilities.  A life with God’s people should begin at home, but it culminates everywhere else.  Hopefully, in this way, we can raise our children to not just to play well with other, but pray well with others.

Lord, help me to raise not just my child, but your child, that they would call you Father and have fellowship with their brothers and sisters.  Help me to love my family into Your larger family.  May all we do as a family fit us for Yours. Amen.

It’s All About the Right King

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. – Judges 21:25 (NIV)

Throughout the period of the judges, the people of Israel were a ship with a constant change in command.  One would lead them to calm waters and peaceful shores while others steered them to the worst of the storm and barren lands.  They were a people adrift with torn sails, a broken rudder and inconsistent leadership.  They needed the right king to captain their ship.

Unfortunately they would even make a mess of the king thing as well, only proving that there is only one right king – the Son of God.  The world we live in today is much like the people of Israel – adrift, torn sails and broken rudders.  We need the right king and our children need to learn the beauty of being His subjects.  There are too many young people in the world today that live in the only kingdom they care about, the kingdom of Me.  They have a view of the world, religion, politics and their place in the mix of it all that is self-referenced.  They are the kings and queens of their lives, but they are poor rulers with no authority or power.  God is the king they need.

If we don’t want our children to follow that same path, they need to be educated on the life of a subject to the king.  It is a life of service and sacrifice.  It is marked by faithfulness and obedience, secured by prayer and humility and promotes thoughtful action motivated by compassion, mercy and grace.  It is rooted in love and flourishes in the midst of struggles and suffering.  It is a life overflowing with the blessings of God and is only experienced by those who submit to the ruler of heaven and earth.

We who call on the name of Christ are kingdom people, subjects of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Let us school our children on kingdom attitudes and kingdom ideas.  Let us lead them into meaningful service and powerful encounters through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Let us engage them in the life of the kingdom from the moment they enter into this world, not waiting until “they are old enough to understand.”  The world does not wait until our children are grown to try to claim them by its warped philosophies and false gods, so why should we wait to train our children in the ways of the kingdom?

Lord, help us to be people of the kingdom in word, deed and thought.  Help us to have the will and the ways to lead our children into kingdom living, raising warriors for your truth.  May they know the greatness of Your kingdom even at a young age.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done. Amen.