Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PSALM 133 - Dewdrops in the Desert

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded blessing, life forevermore.  (Verse 3)

Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he or she it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me, you can do nothing.  Jesus   John 15

Speaking of what the unity of Christians is like. Soothing like the anointing that flowed down the beards of the priests. Now it's like the dew that falls on Mt. Hermon, a high, snow-capped mountain in northern Israel. Refreshing and necessary for the growing vegetation in the dry seasons.

Dew is created when the heat of the day gives way to the cooler temperatures of the evening, particularly a calm, windless night where the refreshing drops can form atop the leaves on vines and grass and sink into their veins. Grape clusters need this kind of temperature in order to prosper. Hot days--cool nights. That's why California is such a great environment for vineyards. An abundant crop of grapes needs the harshness of the heat and the refreshing of the cool, damp nights.

Jesus wants us to grow in clusters. To experience the heat of life together and to be refreshed in relationship when the evening calm brings refreshing. To be a lone Christian is to miss the joy of the dew, the companionship of taking the mutual heat of the struggle. It is also to be severed from the Vine that flows through the veins of each branch and into the whole. We are to be refreshed as a community by each other, to be soothed as a group by the dew that settles on us as we fellowship, sweet and encouraging, making facing the searing sun the next day bearable to all.

July 19 was the deadline for Iraqi Christians to leave the ancient towns of Mosul and Nineveh or face execution, the renunciation of their faith or payment of a crippling tax. The understanding among them, however, was they should leave or be killed. Once a city with well over a hundred thousand Christians, it's estimated that at the time of the edict there remained only a few thousand in Mosul. They left their homes, which were red-tagged by the Islamic extremists and taken over. Without their belongings, homeless and in fear, they lined the highway out of their city awaiting permission to cross over into Kurdish territory. Fleeing separately, they are finding refuge in their community on the other side of the border. A dew settling on them in a calmer environment. Just being together, branches of the common Vine, gives them strength to cope. Perhaps it will make them even stronger, as it did the early church. Left penniless and homeless by the declaration of their faith in Jesus, they have only their common hope--and prayer. I'm sure as they hold each other's hands and invite Christ to soothe their grief, it is good and pleasant, like the dew in the mountain after a scorching day.

We need each other. We branches. It's not God's desire for us to pump out grapes from branches that aren't bursting from the Best Vine. And we would do well to remember that there are those days when the impossible heat of living withers our hearts and tests our souls and we need the refreshing dew of fellowship, praying together, grape against grape, soaking in the balm of fresh anointing, resting for a while in the cool, still air of His Presence. It's the only way we will make it through what is surely before us all.


Monday, July 21, 2014

PSALM 133 - Little Old Me

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes.  (Verse2)

The anointing you have received abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie--just as it has taught you, abide in Him.  1 John 2:27   Italics, mine

"Take the finest of spices," the Lord told Moses, "liquid myrrh, sweet smelling cinnamon, aromatic cane and cassia and mix them with olive oil. This will be the holy anointing oil. With it anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony and all the altars and utensils in the temple. They will be consecrated to Me and most holy. Also anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they will serve me as priests. It shall not be poured onto the body of an ordinary person, and you are not to make another oil like it. It is holy and shall be holy to you."

An ordinary person made holy by the anointing. That got a WOW out of me this morning as I read it. The difference between a child of God and the rest of the world is the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. And I shed my mundane life for the extraordinary because, like Aaron, the Holy Spirit enters my life and flows into my bloodstream, lodges in its marrow, cuts into my thought patterns and pierces my heart, exposing its thoughts and intentions. The Great Counselor sets up His office in my tabernacle and speaks. I am no longer my own, but belong to the Father Who adopted me into His Presence. Who has a dream for me that I could never imagine on my own. Ordinary goals, hopes and dreams are now replaced by the extraordinary will of God for my life.

For example. I was teaching high school. But in California, the state mandated that I go back to school to get classes in Reading then go on for a degree in either counseling or school administration. Neither subject interested me. Besides, I had three school aged children, I was establishing a speech and debate team for the high school and had very little time to devote to extra schooling. So, when the five years mandatory time for getting the classes ended, I left teaching, though the administration graciously offered to extend the opportunity for me for another two years. Left jobless, I was hired by a local learning center to be the director. Within the first six months on the job, the learning center was sold to the prominent market leader. Bill and I began to pray about what was next. I still needed a job, my daughters were about to enter their expensive college years and we needed a plan. The new company offered me the opportunity to purchase the local centers...for lots of money. "No, thank you." Then they offered them for less money. "Maybe." Then, one Saturday afternoon, the CEO of the company called. "What would it take?"

"I'll buy the territory for $20,000," I heard myself saying. I didn't have that kind of money. "But you have to enlarge my territory to include the abutting community."

"Sold!" she nearly shouted. She loved me is why. Favor I couldn't have engendered for myself.

The problem was, $20,000 was the same as $500 for us. We didn't have it. The offer I blurted out, once settled in the room when I hung up the phone, was ridiculous. But I took the steps to the downstairs room, where Bill was playing with our son, one at a time, thinking, thinking, thinking. We can do this. Only God could give me such a thought. Such a confidence. "I just bought the center for $20,000," I told my husband, still in wonder.


I repeated it, a little less confident.

"Uh, Kay...we don't have $20,000." Just a fact.

"God does."

And He did. It was miraculous how the provision was made. An anointing for what He wanted me to do. Owning a business that ultimately put the kids through college and blessed the lives of countless kids who needed help. I'd never imagined such a thing. I was an ordinary teacher living an ordinary life when God decided to make it extraordinary to accomplish His will.

Holiness is what makes us out of the ordinary. A precious setting aside of our lives by God for His purposes. His sweetness for our debauchery, His love for our strife, His joy for our depression, His peace for our discord. A holiness that has nothing to do with our own particular goodness. It is proffered, freely, by the precious blood of Christ which flowed from His hands and feet and sides. A new anointing oil that doesn't simply cover our exterior, but which changes our entire lives by flowing in us. It is the only thing like it, made of particular components that can never be duplicated, precious beyond all telling. That anointing makes me God's possession. A holy instrument of His will. Precious to Him. It should call to me to come closer. It should lead me in the right paths. It should make me yearn for my God. It should make me love my brother. Ordinary me. Washed in the oil of God's favor. Priceless like the oil that anointed Aaron as priest. Set him aside to do a thing for God. Bathe me in it today, Father, that even in my most mundane tasks, I can do the extraordinary for Your glory.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PSALM 133 - Just Give Me A Little Peace!!

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  (Verse 1)

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Romans 12:17

I've been challenged to choose recently. Between what I know in my heart God told me, called me to do, and what other Christians I love perceive differently. It's an excruciating dilemma. My question to God was/is: "How can you be telling us two different things?" I raged for a bit, so certain of my convictions, knowing the hours I'd spent before God getting things just right. Hours on my face in the middle of the night. Miles of walking the beach and straining with Him over what seemed like an irony of spirit. It caused a breach. Over what is essentially His. What to do. What to do. Eventually, I understood the unmistakable voice of Jesus say: "Love them. That's the more important part."

Of course, that meant giving up a thing that cost me two years of my life and a need to see it through to the end. It meant saying to Jesus that whatever has been rearranged and changed that kicked my gut with a palpable grief wasn't as important to Him as loving my brothers and sisters. The rest is up to Him. Even now as I write this, I have to take a deep breath and let it all go again. But that is what He's called me to do. It might be that I was right all along, I don't know. Don't care anymore. I just don't want to be on the wrong side of God on this issue or any other. So far as it now depends upon me, I want to live in peace with those I love.

But...there have been times when living in peace with a Christian brother or sister isn't possible. Peace at any price is not what Jesus is talking about. I've been so betrayed by another Christian that, though I forgive, having relationship with the person isn't possible. Women who've been abused by a "Christian" husband aren't commanded to stay at any price. Peace is a thing given by the indwelling Christ. I think it's really only possible in relation to Him.

When we were first married, my mother became so offended by our perceived behavior that she decided she never wanted to see us again! At barely twenty-one, my daughter heart was devastated. We hadn't done anything wrong, really. We bought a Mustang Mach I she couldn't sit in, we didn't keep my sister over night in our one bedroom apartment...little things she thought were about not wanting her in our lives. "You are the most selfish people I've ever met!" We were simply in love and oblivious. We were about to move for three months to California from Texas and I couldn't bare my mother's broken heart. Daddy came to the house for lunch after Mother's meltdown, had ham sandwiches, pickles and chips and tried to come to some solution with me. Prayer. That's all we could come up with. Later in the day, Daddy called. "Please come to the house tonight around 7. I've told your mother that we are going to pray. She's not keen on the idea, but she'll be here."

Sick at my stomach, holding the hand of my new husband, whose own heart ached, we approached the front door to my parents' house. "I've told your mother she can't say anything until we first talk to Jesus. The same goes for you two," Daddy said, gently. Mother looked shriveled. I'd never seen bitterness so obvious on someone before. Like an acid that ate away her joy. She wouldn't look at us. When we sat down, she started to say something. "Flossie," began Daddy, "I told you we aren't talking until we talk to Jesus first."

We sat around their round maple table in the kitchen and bowed our heads. Where to start? Who? Daddy began. Got tangled up in words. Stopped. Then, after like what seemed an eternity, Bill's tear-filled voice struggled to pray. "Jesus, I'm so very sorry that I've hurt Flossie. I don't know what we did, but it was never meant to bring her pain. Please help her to forgive me for being insensitive. For saying wrong things." Bill wiped the tears pouring from his eyes. "Jesus, please let her know how much I love her."

It was up to Bill to bring peace that night. Not because he'd done anything to purposely harm my mother, but because she needed peace. Not many men would've done what my man did. But it melted my mother. That's what she needed to know: that Bill loved her. Wasn't wanting to leave her out of our car or our home or our lives. "Why did you say those things, Bill?" My mother needed some clarification. Bill didn't know. Wasn't exactly sure what things Mother meant. "I guess I'm not very silver-tongued, Flossie. If I say something to offend you again, please just tell me in the moment. I will never be intending to be mean."

Forever after that, until her death in 1985, Mother didn't question for one second Bill's love for her. He became her son that day. It wasn't until my father's arrest for child molestation that we understood the fullness of Mother's insecurities and heartbreak. All the years of her marriage she felt unloved and insufficient for Daddy. It had carried over to us. As I listened to her grief for the months after the arrest, it was clear that way back then, even, she was building up a wall against feeling emotionally abandoned by her daughter, too. We never know the depths to which peace is necessary. The gift it is when we do all we can on our parts to bring it to another.

At the last dinner He had with His best friends, Jesus challenged them to live in love. And when the one who couldn't dine in peace with them, Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was gone to do his dealings with the priests, Jesus prayed over the disciples who remained. "Make them one as We are One." What joy it must give our Lord for us to love each other. To give up for each other. To care for another more than we care for ourselves. To wash each other's feet. In so far as it's up to us, that we keep peace. Not with a Judas. But with our brothers and sisters who love Jesus as much as we do, but who might just disagree with us.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

PSALM 132 - He Gets To Do Whatever He Wants!

For the Lord has chosen Zion. He has desired it for His dwelling place: "This is my resting place forever. Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions. I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David. I have prepared a lamp for My anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on Him His crown will shine."
(Verses 13-18)

It's always God's choice whether we like it or not. He's God and gets to do whatever He wants. In light of that, God chose where He wanted to dwell on Earth. In a temple above the ark in the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem, which is also called Zion. But Zion is only a type--a picture of the eternal city of God. I marvel at the mind of God. When He threw the earth into space, He clearly decided to make it resemble in form and beauty, heaven, where there is a luscious garden through which a river pounds and fruit-bearing trees hang heavy with fruit. Earth was peopled first with perfection, and God walked there in holy fellowship with man and woman. We are not the preeminent and heaven a type. It's the other way round. Which means that from before the before, God chose a thing. To create humanity for fellowship with the Godhead. Made us body, soul and spirit--a triunity, like He is (Genesis 1:26). Of course, He knew what we would do with that kind of power. Had redemption to the real heaven in mind when He asked the man and the woman why they were hiding from Him after their rebellious act of crunching into sin. But our Father is stubborn. "It will be what I declare it to be!" And the Son knew He'd come to Earth to pronounce the will of the Father to be that we live forever with Him in the real Zion.

The divine plan promised a "horn" to rise up in Zion. A sprout from the seed of David. This powerful ruler would wear a shining crown and decimate His enemies. Who knew He'd be born in a manger and die on a cross? A strange choice. But God has desires. Think about that. Our God has yearnings like He created in us. Our hearts entwined with His aren't far from the passion that is the percussion of eternity--beating for us, thrumming His love. Our Father has chosen us out of His desire to be with us. And that is what Jesus came to with us.

Zechariah was the priest chosen by the casting of lots to enter the Holy of Holies to plead for the sins of the people and burn incense. The glory of God was there. An awesome responsibility. Holy fear accompanied each priest who entered the holy place. The presence of God is enough to throw a man on his face. Kill him, even. So, with some trepidation, Zechariah approached the altar. Did he dare ask God for a son? His wife was barren. This was the one time in his life he would be in the Holy Presence. Perhaps he did, for suddenly, a mighty angel appeared at the right side of the altar. As Zechariah stood trembling with fear, the angel said: "Don't be afraid. Your prayers to God for a son have been heard. Name him John. He will be full of the Holy Spirit from the womb and he will prepare the way for Messiah." Zechariah doubted. He was made unable to speak until the birth of his child, John. God chose to do it this way. But when the priest could speak at the birth of his son, he knew what God had chosen: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David...that we should be saved from our enemies and all those who hate us, to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear (Luke 1)." At this dedication of John, Zechariah's infant son, the prophet raised the baby up to God: "And you, son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways." And so God answered the prayer of a fatherless priest at the same time He changed the course of history.

A few months later, Mary lay in a manger in Bethlehem where the horned sheep and goats rested on the hay that was scattered about her birthing room and delivered a Lamb. The same Lamb Who later walked into the throne room in the real Zion covered with the blood of His redeeming sacrifice. Heaven was waiting breathless. There was more redemptive work to be done. There was the rest of God's plan to be carried out. But there was no one in heaven worthy to do it. The Son, gone to Earth, was vacant from His place in Zion. Then an angel declared to John, the apostle who recorded this sight, to stop weeping and wailing because no one could be found to open the scrolls that record the story of the rest of earth's history. What would become of the planet after Jesus. "Weep no more. Look!! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered!"(Revelation 5) At that moment, a Lamb was standing there. And He looked as though He'd been slain as a sacrifice. It was He who took the scroll from the hand of God. Then heaven let loose! Sang a new song of praise. And Jesus took up the work of reigning over the rest of time.

As the rest of history plays out before us in our calamitous and amoral world and in our own little worlds, it's comforting to know that God has a plan. For me. For the world. For eternity. And it revolves around His choice to dwell with us in His kingdom forever. All that happens in the interim is about bringing us to the Holy City where He's chosen to reign forever. Down to the tiniest detail, God's sovereign will is worked out for us. The world in which we live is the surreal. The City to which we are destined by His love to inhabit is the real, the everlasting, the true Zion of which we are only a shadow. This God Who is in control of all of history, this God Whose will is the only thing driving the events of our planet, this God Who knows how it will all go down, this God loves me.  This must be why Zechariah declared we would be able to "serve Him without fear." As the temple lamps were never extinguished, so heaven's Light, Jesus, illuminates the Holy City as it does the temples of our bodies in which He lives by the Holy Spirit. A lamp that never dims, showing us the way home. The Lamb now sits majestic on His throne in heaven, His crown reflecting the brilliance of the emerald rays of light that circle around Him. His resting place forever.

Monday, July 7, 2014

PSALM 132 - In Between Promises

For the sake of Your servant, David, do not turn away the face of Your anointed one. The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which He will not turn back: "One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your sons keep covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne."  (Verses 10-12)

For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why through Him we utter our Amen to God for His glory.  2 Corinthians 1:20

Ever remind God of His promises? Especially when your hope seems shattered. Things aren't working out as you planned. Expectations blocked by circumstances beyond your control may just bury your longings in a shallow grave.

I had early morning thoughts yesterday about the cross of Christ. About failed expectations and devastated hearts. What would I have believed as I saw my Savior hanging shredded on the cross of His death? For centuries the Jews hoped in a Messiah. The ruler Who would take the throne of His ancestor, David, and rule benevolently over them forever. I would've watched Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry, forgive the sinful and free the demonized. I'd know beyond the shadow of a doubt Jesus was the Promised One. Every time I looked into His face, I'd wonder at the timing of God. Finally! Our salvation has come! So what would I do with the bloody cross? Soldiers stabbed Jesus of Nazareth in the side. I'd have seen Jesus was really dead. How could this be?

I know me pretty well. I think I'd question God. Wonder if He was just toying with us by sending one who looked like Messiah, but wasn't. I'd want to know how God could let the world win that way. I would, like Adam and Eve, at least partially succumb to the notion that God isn't really good. I mean, if He is, how could someone like Jesus be dead along with all our hopes and dreams? For three days I would mourn, weep and wail, not just at the death of Jesus but at the death of hope. How in the world do I go forward now? After Jesus

But heaven is always abuzz with destiny. Working round the clock for the fulfillment of God's dreams. He's not in a hurry. He knows everything. And though I know it grieves our God for Him to see us so miserable in our temporary confusion and heartache, it's never His intention to leave us there. God promised a Messiah to sit on David's throne forever, and He delivered. But it didn't look like we thought it would! It was gloriously better than we could imagine! A miracle of miracles. A resurrection that foretold and promised our own. No human could sit on the throne of David forever. But Jesus does. Risen by His very own Spirit to empower us toward our ultimate hope--heaven.

On a much more mundane level, it reminded me of when we told our kids we were going to go to Disneyland on Saturday. When they were really young, Saturday had no context for them. Disneyland did, though. So every day, all week, they would say, "Is it Saturday yet?" Heaven forbid something should come up that put that trip off. And it did on occasion. Tears. Crushed hopes. "We're never going to get to go to Disneyland!"  "Of course, we are! Dad and I promised." And they waited impatiently for the promise to work out. It always did.

We can be assured that if our God promises us something in His Word, He will do it! It might look much different from the scenario we imagined or be forestalled by all the events that must take place in between the promise and it's arrival, but God is sure. Christ is the best example in all of history that our God will be faithful to what He said. Our Christ, Savior, Deliverer, Shepherd, King and Salvation reigns so that all the promises of God can be trusted. They are YES! to us. Wait on God in your in betweens. Enjoy the journey. The story ends very well!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

PSALM 132 - Cleaning Day

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. Let's go to His dwelling place. Let us worship at His footstool. Arise, O Lord, and go to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and let Your saints shout for joy. (Verses 6-9)

Thus says the Lord, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What is the house that you would build for Me? And what is the place of My rest? All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be," declares the Lord. "But this is the one to whom I look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word." Isaiah 66

Deep in the tabernacle built by Solomon was the Holy of Holies where God dwelt in shekinah glory, a brilliant sphere of light that hovered over two cherubim whose wings touched. The cherubim were gold and were set on top of the Ark of the Covenant, the holy relic of God's presence in the wilderness. In the Ark were the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved, a golden urn holding some manna, and Aaron's rod. Symbols of God's protection, rule and leadership over Israel. Solomon dedicated his massive gift to God kneeling on a bronze altar and crying out, "Now arise, O God, and to go to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might. Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed in salvation, and let Your saints rejoice in Your goodness. O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed one! Remember Your steadfast love for David Your servant."

Solomon had barely time to finish the cry for the presence of God when fire came streaking out of heaven and consumed the massive bloody sacrifices the people of Israel made to dedicate the house of God. In a rush of glory the people and priests couldn't stand before, The Almighty God entered the dwelling place built for Him. With their faces to the pavement and awe humbling them before His Presence, the people worshiped and gave thanks to God. From that day forward, it was assumed God would live there, in Jerusalem, forever. Confined to His new home. In time, the Israelites became lax in their service to Him. Thinking He wouldn't leave, they felt immortal, almost. Nothing would happen to Jerusalem while God lived in the temple there. Accustomed to His living in their midst. Forgetful of the former glory of His dramatic entrance into the tabernacle. And so...God left. (Ezekiel 10)

The Jews were dispersed to Babylon for seventy years. Their glory days over. It was time to await Messiah. For it was not enough for them that God dwelt in a temple made with hands. The new covenant promised our God would live in our hearts, each one of us a holy vessel of His shekinah glory. "I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31)." No longer does the one who knows Jesus have to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to be near the Presence. When we ask Jesus into our hearts to sit there on the throne and rule over our lives, the Presence rushes in, consuming our sacrifice and setting up an altar over which His glory brightens and illuminates our souls. It is palpable. Life changing. Awe inspiring. A rush that pushes out the darkness. As inexplicable as the fire streaking out of heaven to consume the altar sacrifices of the thousands of people gathered in Jerusalem when the earthly dwelling was complete. The king cried, "Arise and enter Your dwelling!" Just so, the same God, mighty and wise, collides with our sinfulness and washes us clean. Making for Himself a new tabernacle in us.

Have you forgotten? Is the Spirit of God so at home in you that the place is a mess? Cobwebs around the throne? Dirt hidden under the rug? Has the home of God in you become littered with all the stuff of your hoardings? Is it hard to find Him there, the light dimmed and the darkness creeping back in? The God of All has deigned to rush into our hearts and minds, vacuuming our filthiness into the depths of His mercy, cleaning up the messes we've made in order to have a fitting place to rule. If you've made Him too small a place to inhabit, perhaps you have some cleaning to do.

Revelation 21 records the end of all things, a new heaven and a new earth. The new Jerusalem comes down, bright and perfect, and the Lord God looks around to see the city and us, His beloved children, and God says, as if declaring His will finally to be accomplished: "Look! The dwelling place of God is with man! He will dwell with them and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God." He is with us now...the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead lives in those of us who know Christ (Romans 8). Oh, let's give Him the mansion He deserves, bright and clean, where He can live large and rule in splendor. I'm going to get out the dusk cloth and the broom. I've got a little work to do today.


Monday, June 30, 2014

PSALM 132 - I've Made A Terrible Mess Of Things!!

Remember, O Lord, in David's favor, all the hardships he endured, how he swore to the Lord and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, "I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob."  (Verses 1-5)

It must have been so disappointing to David when God told him he wouldn't be the one to build a temple for his God. "You have shed much blood and waged great wars. You shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood before Me on the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name. He shall be My son, and I will be His Father (I Chronicles 22)." After all the years of the traveling tabernacle, David wanted the God he loved so much to have an extravagant, world-renowned temple in which to dwell. He just had it in his heart to do this for the mighty God Whose favor rested upon him. But God had other ideas. Counter intuitive and ironic ideas.

From the rooftop across the way from David's expansive castle a woman was bathing herself in the twilight. No doubt David had seen her before. Perhaps it was the reason he walked around the parapet that night. Just a look. Nothing more. She was beautiful. Bathsheba. David knew she was alone. Her husband, Uriah, away fighting a war David chose to sit out in the season of fighting. And so he called for her. No one will know. Just this once. And David took another man's lovely young wife to bed.

He'd probably forgotten about the whole thing by the time Bathsheba sent word to the king that she was pregnant. With his child. And the man after God's own heart brought Uriah home from war in a manipulation worthy of a reality show. But Uriah, it turns out, was the better man. Wouldn't sleep with Bathsheba if the men fighting with him couldn't come home to their wives. We know the story. David had Uriah killed. To cover his own rear end. To save face with the nation of Israel who thought their king could do no wrong. The grieving bride of Uriah became the pregnant wife of a king. David pretended the nation couldn't count to nine as her pregnancy progressed quickly to completion. But Nathan, the prophet, spoke to David, calling the king on his sin...and Bathsheba's baby died in her arms as David lay prostrate before his God pleading for his newborn son's life.

Solomon was the child born to Bathsheba as God's comfort in the aftermath of all her loss. His name means peace. The child of an adulterer and his concubine. And this was the son God chose to build His temple.

It seems like God would want the child of a holy union. Not the son of such sin. The Lord not only forgave the sins of the son who made His eyes dance, but turned the sin into absolute glory! David's repentant heart and God's sacred prescience turned the shame of an adulterous relationship and subsequent murder into a story of redemption and restoration! Who of us would've chosen the son of that hussy, Bathsheba, to take on the task of building a suitable house for our Lord?

David knew his death was near, so he called thousands of workmen together. The king ordered iron, bronze and timber, and had stonecutters prepare massive numbers of dressed stones for the building of God's house. "Solomon, my son, is 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 preparations for it." And the Lord let the one always after His heart guide Solomon in the thing David had in his own heart to do.

We all fall short. All the time. And if we think that means we can no longer be used by God...loved by God...we err. Our God was crazy about David. From the time he was a little shepherd boy equally in love with His God. The Lord watched the ruddy little kid play with sheep, anointed his aim to kill a lion and a bear, enlarged the kid's faith to foil an army and slay its giant. God wasn't about to give up on this boy of His. And He's not about to give up on you and me. David accepted the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba, but that didn't change God's mind about who He was going to use to build His sanctuary. Remember, God told David who Solomon would be before the sin with Bathsheba and the death of Uriah. We don't catch God off-guard with our falling short. What He wants is our acknowledgment that we've broken His heart and His laws. "Deliver me from my bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Your rightness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it. You will not be pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51)."
What David knew was that God loved him no matter what.

Where is there a God like ours Who can use even our sin for His eventual and eternal glory? Don't run away when you've messed up. Run toward Him. Your God will never turn you away, and you might just be surprised what He can do with the mess you've made of things.