— 1 Chronicles 16:34-36
— 1 Chronicles 16:34-36
— 1 Chronicles 16:31-33
Most of us know that we should never call someone else an idiot. However, we’ve heard these words said many times in situations that were mostly private. The words are nearly always said in frustration about someone who has blown his or her opportunity in life because of something very unwise that he or she had done. Sometimes, we have even used the phrase, “What an idiot!” to describe our own behavior when we were frustrated or deeply disappointed in our personal choices.
“I’ve never met a long-term Christian whose knowledge of the Bible did not exceed her or his obedience of it.”
I remember the first time I heard something like this. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it much, but the more I reflected on this statement, the more it bothered me because it was so true!
“And the foolish man’s house went crash!”
I’ve heard these words in songs so many times I cannot count them. I’ve sung them many times. All too often, I am afraid I haven’t connected these words to Jesus and his closing thoughts in the Sermon on the Mount.
[Jesus called his disciples to him and taught them saying:] Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Many of our efforts as followers of Jesus can focus on acquiring more knowledge about Jesus, Christianity, and truth. No one can argue with a passion for knowing more about what Jesus said and did. No one can argue with a passion for knowing God’s word. But we are called to be so much more than just a thumb drive full of biblical information. Church is not a data dump from God to his children, but a training base to prepare people to leave on mission to bring God’s Kingdom to a broken world.
The Holy Spirit’s goal was never to merely inspire the words of Scripture, but to fashion us through the Scriptures for godly living (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit longs to work in our lives through the Scriptures to transform us to be like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit’s goal for the inspired Scriptures is to produce the fruit of character and compassion: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So as disciples of Jesus, we are not called to be admirers of the word or hearers of the word, but doers of the word (James 1:22).
No one epitomizes the failure of using the Scriptures wisely quite like Solomon. He is the ultimate foolish man in Jesus’ story at the end of his Sermon on the Mount. Solomon was considered one of the wisest men to have lived in ancient times. He made Israel a nation of strength, beautiful architecture, opulent royal living quarters, and great wealth. People came from all over to see if the rumors of his great accomplishments were true.
God lavished grace upon us to not only save us, but also to call us to be different and to make a difference.
In the middle of this wise man’s accomplishments was great foolishness (Nehemiah 13:26). He traded away righteous character for lavish experiences and forgot compassion in his mistreatment of others. He sold out marriage to making treaties by marrying many wives of foreign leaders. He compromised the worship of God alone to the idolatries of his wives and their children. He built his great kingdom on the backs of the poor and laborers he mistreated and the general population he taxed to pay for his extravagance. Solomon built his great empire on the sand and like the foolish man in Jesus’ story, it all came crashing down in one generation after his death.
Jesus said very hard words to his disciples about the importance of obeying God and not just knowing the teachings of God:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23).
If the sad example of Solomon doesn’t capture our attention, then hopefully the words of Jesus will. God lavished grace upon us to not only save us but also to call us to be different and to make a difference (Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus is not looking for admirers, but for real followers. He is looking for true disciples who are willing to obey what he has taught (Matthew 28:18-20) and emulate how he lived (Luke 6:40).
O nations of the world, recognize the LORD, recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong. Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. — 1 Chronicles 16:28-30
Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the LORD made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. — 1 Chronicles 16:25-27
Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin… (Zechariah 4:10).
But somewhere deep inside us, our own voice of doubt mocks us:
I see what others have done with their lives and before I even get started — I’m discouraged. What can I possibly do that God isn’t already doing through someone else?
Against a towering giant, a brook pebble seems futile. But God used it to topple Goliath. Compared to the tithes of the wealthy, a widow’s coins seem puny. But Jesus used them to inspire us all!
All were used by God.
What do you have?
Much more than you might think!
God inhabits the tiny seed.
God empowers the tiny deed!
Never discount the smallness of your deeds!
The LORD turned to him [Gideon, a reluctant man from the weakest clan and the least in his family,] and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14).
“A Tiny Seed, A Tiny Deed“ by Max Lucado is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Heartlight encourages you to share this material with others in church bulletins, personal emails and other non-commercial uses. Please see our Usage Guidelines for more information.
I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But I don’t know as much as I’d like to know about how the different manifestations of the One True God interact with each other. If I ever unravel that mystery, I’ll then try to understand what role each member of the Godhead plays.
The hymn writer captured perfectly the concept of intercessory prayer when he wrote about our “Redeemer… who ever prays for me.” I wish I understood that better, but maybe it’s enough just to rejoice and be grateful for the Savior who defends us, intercedes for us, and prays for us — ever prays for us.
Will You Come and Pray?
Being a chaplain volunteer at our regional medical center was an obligation I needed to shed. A little over a year ago when Mary Margaret moved to a nursing home, I moved to a nearby apartment. The limitations of age and health demanded attention. But, I loved the chaplaincy too much to give it up and asked to be placed on “inactive” status. So, I was surprised when my caller ID showed an incoming call from the hospital.
The nice lady apologized over and over:
So sorry to bother you… know you are inactive… can’t reach any of the other three chaplain volunteers… a man is dying, his family is gathering, they’ve requested a chaplain. Could you possibly…
“Hey,” I interrupted, “It’s ok, you’ve caught me at a good time (small fib), I’ll be there in a few.” Living two miles from the hospital has its advantages.
The patient was terminally ill, but his death was not imminent. He was alert enough to carry on lucid conversations with his family and me. After a few getting-acquainted minutes, the conversation went something like this:
I began with a personal observation and an invitation to talk, “Tell me about the medallion you are wearing.”
“That is the blessed Virgin Mary,” he responded, “sainted mother of our Lord and Savior!”
“Would you be more comfortable if I called a priest?”
“No, I’m not a member of a local parish, and, besides…”
“I’ll be glad to call,” I suggested, “I have the number right here in my phone.”
“This priest that you might call, does he pray better than you do?”
“Well,” I answered, “I’m not the one to make that judgment.”
“Does God hear you when you pray?”
“Yes, he has promised to do that.”
“Then,” the patient said, “let’s pray!”
Who Would I Want to Pray for Me?
As I was leaving the hospital, I wondered, who would I want to pray for me if I knew death was near? My family? Friends? Preacher? Shepherds? All of the above, plus One.
A friend who grew up in a church environment similar to mine made an observation about an old hymn we had both grown up singing. I like the Fred A. Fillmore 1917 version because the male voices echo the female voices. I could pretend to be a basso profundo even when my adolescent vocal cords wouldn’t cooperate:
I know (I know) that my Redeemer lives,
and ever prays (and ever prays) for me…
He doesn’t just say a prayer and leave. He prays and stays — stays with us to the end and beyond.
My Redeemer — Jesus — prays for me?
He ever prays for me?
I remember that Jesus went off by himself to pray, taught the disciples to pray, prayed for strength to carry out the Father’s will. Someone has counted 38 times in the Gospels when Jesus prayed. I haven’t verified that count. But the count that really matters most to me is that he ever and always prays for me!
The apostle Paul had a vision of Jesus, at the right hand of God, interceding for us (Romans 8:34). The Holy Spirit reminds us that “he [Jesus] always lives to intercede“ for those who come to God (Hebrews 7:25). And John, concerned as always for his “dear children”, wrote them with a specific purpose in mind:
[S]o that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
It means a lot to have friends pray for us, but even more to have the One who ever prays for us. He doesn’t just say a prayer and leave. He prays and stays — stays with us to the end and beyond.
A few years ago, as I was preparing a message for my brother-in-law’s funeral, one of his sons recalled something his father had often said to his family and friends:
My fondest dream is to get to heaven, have Jesus take me by the hand, lead me to the Throne, and say, “Father, this is Mack. He belongs to us.”
We are His, precious in his sight! He not only paid an awful price for us at Calvary, but he continues to speak in our defense, intercede for us, and pray always for us.
What a Prayer Partner!
These Encouraging Words from Phillip Morrison are drawn from more than 60 years of ministry and life as a husband, father, grandfather, editor, and writer. A devoted follower of Jesus, Phillip has tried to bring encouragement throughout his life and ministry. He was the founding
managing editor of both UpReach and Wineskins magazines. He and Mary Margaret have been married over 50 years moved to Lakeway, Texas to be near their children and grandchildren.
Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the LORD. Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given … — 1 Chronicles 16:10-12