Archive for the ‘2 Samuel’ Category

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GIVING THE BEST OF OUR TIME – Feb. 1

February 1, 2013

“…I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing…”  2 Samuel 24:24b

February 1!  How did that happen?

Hourglass Shadow

Hourglass Shadow (Photo credit: Bill David Brooks)

I find the realization of that date rather troubling.  One-twelfth of 2013 is already gone and I still have to make a conscious effort not to date documents 2012.  I know that it will not seem that long and I will be packing Christmas decorations back up stairs as 2013 is coming to a close.  Blink and 2013 will be gone.  We realize how precious time is when it is gone or we don’t have enough of it.   We feel its flight when we look back at pictures whose time-stamp doesn’t match up to our internal clocks.

There are whole professions established to protect our assets.  Banks have large vaults to protect our valuables.  There are financial experts to guide us to the investments that have the best opportunity to cause our assets to increase.  We can get security systems to help protect our house and vehicles.  What about our time?

Time is our most valuable asset.

The lawn-care industry exists because people don’t want to spend the time mowing their own lawn.  It is preferable to pay someone else to do that job so they can have time do something more preferable.

Most of us are not independently wealthy.  Therefore, we have to work a job.  When we go into work we are making a transaction for our time.  We are willing to sell our time to an employer in exchange for money.  I am not going into work unless my employer is willing to buy my time.  My time has a value.

The problem with these transactions is that they are not reciprocal.  You can sell your time but you cannot buy more of it.  You can spend money and time to live healthy and active but that is merely stretching time.  Time can be used to reclaim lost money but money cannot be used to reclaim lost time.

An asset is valuable only if it is scarce.  Gold would not be valuable if it was in everyone’s backyard.  Diamonds would not be valuable if we were digging them out of the treads of our shoes.  We all have a limited number of days – no one knows what that number might be.  That makes time a very scarce resource.

Our time is a scarce resource, which makes time our most valuable asset.

What are you giving God of your most valuable asset?

David understood that worship of God should never be cheap or careless.  God wants our best.  He deserves our best.  He is worthy of our “first fruit.” A person who loves God with all that they are will want to give God their best.

Proverbs 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Thinking about the number of our days makes us invest our time wisely.  I have heard and used the many excuses about conserving my time:

“I can’t find time to read my Bible.”

“I can’t find time to pray.”

“Our Church has paid staff to serve those people.”

“I don’t want to give up vacation time for that.”

The tendency is to give God the blemished part of our time – to spend time with Him when we are exhausted and about to fall asleep – to be so busy with other things that there is not time to serve Him and His sheep – to help out only when it is convenient.    That is all time that doesn’t cost us much.

That is our blemished time. 

I will agree that giving blemished time is better than nothing at all but does anyone of us really want to be making that argument?  I want to be worshiping God with my best.  I want to be gratefully worshiping God with my most valuable asset – my time.  I can think of no wiser use of my time than giving it as an offering to my King.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not giving you my best and first-fruit of my time.  Father, help me to be wise about how I spend my limited time on this earth.  Give me a heart that is generous with my time.     Amen

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COMPLEXITIES OF LIFE AND R2-D2 – Jan. 16

January 16, 2013

“Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.”  2 Samuel 7:11b

R2-D2 hugI remember going to watch Stars Wars (Episode IV) in the movie theater.  It was almost more than my nine-year brain could take.  I remember walking out of the theater and looking up into to the sky for laser streaks of  epic space battles.  I was not detoured from my fascination with Star Wars due to the absence of intergalactic cruisers above me.

My wish list became replete with Star Wars requests.  I wanted all things Star Wars.  I was part of the first generation that made George Lucas very rich.  I had Star Wars action figures, light sabers and x-wing models.  I even tried to build my own R2-D2.

I conceived my R2-D2 design during one sweltering summer night.  My room was on the second floor of an old farm-house with air conditioning that consisted of an open window.  Sleeping when the temperature gets down to 85 degrees Fahrenheit is difficult.  However, the heat was not a problem on this night.  My imagination was having the effect of a double dose of caffeine and sugar so sleep was not possible.  I rolled through my plans to build myself a robot.  This was going to be great.  I could not wait for the morning.

At some point, I did fall asleep because the morning sun woke me up.  My parents were probably shocked at the speed at which I got my chores done and disappeared into the workshop.  I was on a mission.  My plan was to have a functioning R2-D2 robot by the end of the day.  I could not wait for everyone to see how my robot would follow me around, beeping and chirping, and doing “things”.

As you might imagine, I ran into an immediate problem creating my robot.  I did not have a clue  how to build a robot; all of my daydreaming about having a R2D2 like robot had focused on “having” the robot and not very much on building a robot.  The first challenge was how was I going to make it move.  I didn’t have any electric motors that I could use.  The only electric motors in the shop were my Dad’s tools and they all had cords.  I didn’t want to have to plug-in my robot ; R2-D2 didn’t have a cord.  Thankfully, that eliminated the retrofitting of my Dad’s tools into my robot.  I shutter to think how bad that would have gone.

I decided to leave the concerns of propulsion to a later time and moved on to the structure.  I ran into another problem.  I did not have any R2-D2 like shells that I could use.  The best I had was an old, dented, galvanized bucket.  I figured that would have to work.  Now, how to make it move?  I needed wheels.  I was wise enough to know that scavenging wheels off of the lawn mower, wheel barrow, or cart was a good way not to see the light of day for the rest of the summer.  So, I dove into a couple of boxes of dust and junk.  My reward was four casters of three different types.  A robot has to roll, so they were going to have to work.  I set to work with my supplies in hand.

I finished my robot in about three hours.  My robot debut was to the summer sun, my dog, and a passing cat.  The reviews were very lackluster.  My robot was a metal bucket turned upside down, nailed to a piece of scrap plywood with four wobbling casters beneath, pulled by three pieces of bailing twine, knotted together.  I pulled it around for a little while with great disappointment.  This was nothing like my dreams of the previous night.  However, I learned a very important lesson.

Building a robot is really hard.  Its complexities far exceeded my nine-year old technical capabilities and the supplies of a dairy farm in rural Idaho.

This experience would not be the last for me.  I have many times overestimated my own capabilities.

“That doesn’t look that hard”.                    “Just hit it harder.”

“Yeah, I really need to do that; this is how you do that”.

“If we just follow this list, then it has to work.”

                                   “We need to get a longer bar.”

“Google it – then you can figure it out.”

To the consternation of my wife, my first inclination is still to try to “figure it out”.

This “figure it out” attitude has caused me all sorts of problems when I have misapplied it in my spiritual life.  I have often been like David.  David saw that the he was living in a house of cedar but the ark of God was in a tent.  David thought it would be a good idea to build a house for God.  That sounds like a good idea to me.  Let’s figure it out.

I don’t know what attitude David had about building God a house but given God’s response, I don’t think it was quite right.

David might have had the “poor God; He needs my help” attitude.  Poor God is in a tent.  Therefore, He needs me to build Him a house.

It could have been guilt.  I am living in this really nice house while God is in a tent.  I don’t feel good about that.  God needs a house to make me feel better.  Therefore, I am going to build a house for Him.

He could have been focused purely on the material.  Building God a house is a “no brainer”; I need to build a house. Therefore, I need timbers, stone, craftsmen, etc.

David did not understand the spiritual complexities of building a house for God Almighty.  God dwelling in a building is a task beyond the ability of man.  It is a task similar to a nine-year old building a robot.  It was beyond David’s capabilities.

God reminds David that He doesn’t need him.  David needs God.  God reminds David of all the things that God has done for him: took him out of the pasture, defeated all his enemies, made his name great, and given His people peace.  That was all God.

God tells David that He is the one who will be building a house for David.

Just like David, God is the one behind all the things that we accomplish in our lives.  So often, our “figure it out” attitudes have us trying to build a house for God in that God shaped vacuum in our hearts that Blaise Pascal identified.  It is beyond our capabilities to build an environment within our own hearts for God to live.  There is no amount of housekeeping that will make it suitable.

God is the one who builds a house within us.

We need to remember that all the “good works” that we endeavor to undertake are beyond our capabilities.  We cannot “figure it out”.  The spiritual complexities are way beyond our capabilities to even comprehend.  All of the spiritual fruits that come from everything that we get the privilege to participate in come from God.  God is behind it all.

God is merely calling us to be obedient to him. He is the one who is doing the real work.  We just need to recognize that and give Him the glory that he is due.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the reality that you will be the one who completes the good work that you have started in me.  Father, I know that my sanctification is not something that I can figure out.  Thank you for your Spirit working in my life.  Lord, I acknowledge that anything of any good in my life is due to you and the work that you are accomplishing.  Father, please continue that work.  Don’t leave me like I am.  Lord, teach me how to be an obedient servant that is reliant upon you and not myself.  Teach me how to have a life full of “good works’ that are to your glory.  Amen

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