What would you ask for?
It's the age old question... 'If you were given one wish, what would you wish for?' I'm not sure why that question always made me feel insecure. I guess I often hesitated giving my answer because I knew someone would say something more clever like, 'I'd have wished for more wishes.' But would they really?
Because in the heat of the moment, if it were God showing up on the scene asking, like He did to Solomon, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you,' I'm just not so sure, any of us would be feeling very clever. (1 Kings 3:5)
So Solomon asked for wisdom.
Now we say that, but in actuality, if you read 1 Kings 3, you'll see that Solomon was humble in his place as the new king and was asking for help. His request was for a discerning heart to distinguish between right and wrong. I get the idea that he was a dude in over his head and somewhat afraid of the power given to him.
So maybe it's the timing of the question that matters most.
Because there's another king who makes a request like this of God. Now I don't know if God approaced him the same as Solomon. But this king makes a migthy bold request.
Two things I ask of you, Lord
Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:7-9 NIV
This is a prayer to emulate.
How lovely our world would be without deception... all emptiness and deceit gone. We could be rid of fear and doubt. We could let go of shame and guilt. And we could walk in freedom, knowing that nothing and no one... including ourselves was intent on harming us.
Then to have our daily bread... just as Jesus included in the prayer He taught His disciples. Not too much to swing the pendulum to pride, denying Him. Not too little to swing it back to poverty, causing dishonor to His name.
It makes me wonder what was going on in this king's life to pray such a request to God. Because the timing of the question matters most, pointing us to the motive... to the circumstances he was facing. Was he surrounded by deceit and doubt... fear and deception?
What would cause him to cry out with such a raw and sincere heart?
Am I willing to be so bold?
Do my circumstances point to prayer like that?
Let us turn our hearts to the Lord.
Let us make a petition for
the extreme desires of our heart.
I have a fear of praise.
There, I said it. It sounds a bit strange, that what I crave most is what I also fear. I guess it's because I know in the past when I've received too much praise. I've let it go to my head. Like I'm 'all that.' Like I accomplished it all on my own, tip-toeing myself to the top of a high pedestal where I teetered and tottered, fearing the long fall.
Praise will test your character.
Like a finicky woman at the market seeking the perfect piece of fruit. She inspects each one, only wanting the best. She is not looking to judge, just wanting the sweetness of the best harvest; the juice of the ripe and good. So what kind of juice will flow when you are squeezed... when I am squeezed?
Will it be virtue or vanity?
Maybe you're a person who simply hears praise and feels good for the moment, letting the words fall in their proper place. That is wholesome and good, because It's not wrong to enjoy praise. Words of affirmation are often how others give and receive love.
But if we grasp them and hold them too tightly, clinging to them as our identity, they ferment into pride... ruining the harvest of our good works.
Where then, does praise belong?
What is the proper balance, and how do we find it?
This is the best example I've found...
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me."
John 8:54 NIV
Jesus, of all humans, was the only one who could have handled all the praise. And yet, He handed all of His over to the Father God in heaven. He let God get the glory for whatever people praised Him for on earth... He passed it on... He pointed heavenward.
Praise is to be pointed.
So if I follow Jesus example, I shouldn't fear praise. Because I'm not going to hold onto it. I'm going to receive it with open hands and then lift that same praise, immediately to God... letting it go.
But it'll have to be practiced.
It'll have to be intentional.
It'll have to be habitual.
If I am going to overcome my prideful ways and push past my fear of falling, I will have to set my mind that in all things I do which receive praise, I will immediately and openly give it to God. My life for His glory.
Isn't that what He's wanted all along?
Isn't that why He put light into me in the first place?
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NIV
Thank You, Lord for the test.
Thank You, Lord for the answer.
Help me, Lord in the future...
give ALL praise and glory unto YOU!
Hezekiah was a good king.
That sounds like a simple statement to make. But the truth is, he was the first good king in a lineage of many corrupt kings. His father, Ahaz had committed many evils and had led the people of Judah away from God. So far away, in fact that he closed the temple which Solomon built.
And, there was no place for God.
In effect, God had been banished from a land He had given, to a people He had chosen. Can you imagine? What if you gave someone a house to live in, but you were never welcome there? I mean, like what if you custom built a house for them, and paid for it. And it was a place you expected to hang out with them. But then they boarded it up, moved out and chose not to live in it. How ungrateful would that be?
So I imagine Hezekiah growing up in that culture with a boarded up Temple of God and all sorts of idols and altars built for worship to foreign gods all around him. But he had a heart to seek after the God of Israel... the God of his ancestors. So on the first day of the first month that he was king, he reopened the temple. And he sought to educate and restore the people to God.
And God was welcomed home.
Even though many of the people had been raised without knowing God, many were eager to learn. So they came to the festivals, they brought their offerings, they did the best that they could no matter if they knew all the 'rules' or not.
Although most of the many people
who came from Ephraim,
Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun
had not purified themselves,
yet they ate the Passover,
contrary to what was written.
But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying,
“May the Lord,
who is good, pardon everyone
who sets their heart on seeking God...
the Lord, the God of their ancestors
even if they are not clean
according to the rules
of the sanctuary.”
And the Lord heard Hezekiah
and healed the people.
2 Chronicles 30:18-20 NIV
And God healed the people.
Because of the prayers of Hezekiah, an entire nation was healed. They didn't have to know how to act. They only needed someone to lead the way... someone to pray for them and encourage them. They needed someone bold enough to show them what righteousness was all about.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV
Let us pray for one another.
For there is much healing that we need. We may not always know all the 'rules' of God, but we don't have to. We simply need a right heart... one that desires to know Him. And if we will pray with that heart to Him, seeking wisdom, seeking change, seeking healing... He will answer.
Hezekiah didn't come from a perfect family that always did things right. He had to just stand up one day and make a change. He had to go against the grain, against the culture, against the societal norm. And I'm sure it wasn't easy at first. But an entire nation was changed because he opened the doors to the temple... because he prayed.
Let us open the door
If we too will be bold enough to go counter culture, we can open the door for someone else who needs to find their way to God... someone who needs healing. It doesn't have to be some grand gesture. It can be a simple act.
So let us open the way
with our words
with our prayers
with our influence
with our instagram
with our smile
with our work
with our service
with our posture
with our praise!
Sometimes I say foolish things.
Out of anger, stressed by circumstance, impatient in the wait,
But not one of God's words fails!
Each and every WORD of God is pure.
They pass the test.
They rise to the top.
They are as valuable as GOLD.
We can't always depend on the word of others, but on God's word, we can fully rely. For there is no falsehood in Him. Every part is holy, true and good. His promises never fail. His works are mighty and His salvation is sure.
The weight of the evil one would certainly have crushed the earth and all it's inhabitants if the Lord had not redeemed us; if His love had not given the gift, the sacrifice, the payment for our sin.
So let us proclaim Him as
our Shield of Refuge.
Is there a way for our finite minds
to wrap around this truth?
Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in His hands?
Who has bound up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name,
and what is the name of His Son...
if you know?
Proverbs 30:4 HCSB
He does not expect us to fully understand.
And still He gives us more than we can absorb.
His WORD is always worthy.
Let us seek to know it more.
Let us ask Him to reveal it's truth.
Let us allow it to change us from within.
Let us stand firmly on it's foundation.
Let us find safety in Our Shield of Refuge!
Let us set aside anxious thought regarding the direction of our world, our nation, our leaders. For our God has, since the beginning of time, influenced and directed the hearts of those whom He has placed in power.
Everything He has created is under His dominion... His sovereignty. He is grand enough to hold the streams of our hearts in His hand, directing them as He chooses.
He will guide, He will navigate, He will carve a path for us to flow. Let us not resist His nurturing. Let us not resist the rocky bend or the diverted stream. For these are allowed by the Director of Hearts to keep us flowing toward our purpose; to keep us from becoming stagnant.
Trust in the Lord for His direction.
Float in the grace of His hand.
from my heart...
I write as an overflow... an expression of my true love for God and with a deep desire to encourage others in their day to day lives. For we can only find peace, joy, and satisfaction when we yield to the One who yielded His life for us.