Everybody likes to be an exception to the rule. No exceptions. This paradox seems especially true for individuals who are exceptional. Like Solomon. (And like you and me.)
“I have given you a wise and discerning heart,” God told Solomon, “so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). Talk about exceptional!
And yet Solomon became the exception to the wisdom of Solomon. How?
It started with two small compromises that we can avoid.
If you think about it, King Solomon never started out to build pagan shrines. It was his failure to deal with the tiny spiritual cracks in his heart that produced a life of compromise and dissatisfaction.
(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)
The backwash from Solomon’s life reminds us how we only kid ourselves when we think we can have a healthy walk with God and still keep our hidden life of compromise on the side.
The good news? We don’t have to.
I always get a kick out of the road tests automakers perform on one another. As objective as the tests claim to be, the goals remain clear. GM tests Ford to show Ford’s weaknesses. GM tests GM to show its strengths.
When Ford does the testing, however, the purpose completely reverses. (Funny how that works, you know?)
Actually, this type of testing is biblical. Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives.
But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?
A couple of months ago I noticed the “maintenance” light come on in my car. That meant the oil and filter needed changing. I thought, Yeah, I’ll do that soon. Right.
About a month went by and I thought: You know, I need to deal with that. I forgot again. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later I finally got it changed. I put it off because I’m a busy guy—and hey, oil and filters can always wait another day.
But then another warning light went off. This one was serious.
I had to smile when I read what Jason Kidd said after the Dallas Mavericks drafted him years ago: “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees!” Life often feels like that, doesn’t it? A lot of effort with nothing gained.
At times, the Bible seems like a history book in which God makes and fulfills promises to the ancients, but the words somehow lack immediacy to our struggling lives. And yet, it’s funny how the anxieties that overwhelm our lives seem identical to those that biblical people struggled against.
Even though Scripture provides assurance of God’s promises, assurance doesn’t negate the stressful circumstances that force us to trust God.
Truth doesn’t make the hard parts of life go away. We still have to trust God with that truth.
Do you have a buffer zone between you and what can harm you? I’m talking about putting a safeguard between you and evil influences that can cause compromise in your walk with Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, this concept of defense didn’t originate in the New Testament. We see an illustration of it throughout Old Testament history in an unusual place.
Between the Philistine plain and the Hill Country where God’s people dwelt lay 10 miles of low rolling hills. This buffer zone was known as the “Shephelah.”
The hills of the Shephelah were a geographical buffer that represented a spiritual barrier. You have a Shephelah in your life as well.
Here’s a lesson on how you can guard it.
As a teenager, I knew everything. You could even say I was omniscient. I marveled at the incompetence of adults on the simplest issues. They just didn’t get it. And then I grew up, and something strange happened. I discovered that as an omniscient person, I still had a lot to learn.
So many times I stood so sure of myself only to discover how woefully ignorant I was.
- I knew a lot about the Bible until I went to seminary. It turns out, the more I learned, the less I knew.
- I knew everything about marriage until I got married. But matrimony is course in art, not science. I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.
- I was an expert on parenting until I had kids. Parenting offers a long course of study on your own selfishness.
I’ve learned a lot since I became omniscient. But you know where that omniscient teenager resurfaces the most in my life? The same place it shows itself in your life.
When we’re talking to God.
My favorite Jewish carpenter other than Jesus is Norm Abram. I’m a weekend woodworker, and the hobby has done more than just save me money and provide a healthy diversion for my mind.
It’s more than sawdust and saw blades. For me, it’s also spiritual.
(Photo: Completing a recent project)
During the many hours I’ve spent woodworking, I’ve come to realize how much of the craft relates to our walk with God. I’m not alone. The Shakers of the 19th-century viewed the craftsmanship of their unique furniture as an extension of their worship of God.
I want to share with you 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms the spiritual life. I’ll do this in two posts.
For fun, I’ll also show you some pictures of stuff I’ve built.
Would you like to hold a grudge with God’s blessing?
I mean, wouldn’t it be great to know exactly how much of the same guff you had to take from someone until you no longer had to forgive?
The problem with forgiving is that the debt is real.
- Your parents neglected or even abused you.
- Your spouse betrayed your wedding vows.
- Your best friends backstabbed you.
- Someone hurt you so deeply you feel you may never recover.
The debt is real. And in order to forgive, you must give even more than has already been taken.
And this is hard. Very, very hard.
But if we want God to forgive us, it’s essential.
The good news? Scripture shows us how.
Tough circumstances of life always change our minds about God. They either tempt us to doubt what He’s promised, or they draw us closer to Him in faith. But we never stay the same.
God’s plan for your life is revealed and tested in times of struggle.
If you’re struggling today, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for you.
Joseph shows you how.