Day Two

On the following day he sent the people away. They Blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all of the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel. 1 Kings 8:66

Day Two of any event looks different. Day One is full of excitement and anticipation; it can fulfill expectations or disappoint. Day Two’s a reality check. We take stock of what happened and decide whether it was worth the effort and investment.

Here, on Day One, Solomon dedicated the temple. On Day Two everyone went home happy. They were elated because they’d experienced God. We can too. He doesn’t live in buildings anymore, He lives in our hearts and provides joy and gladness minute-by-minute, not just Day Two, Three, Four, etc. He’s always worth the effort and the investment!

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Stand Your Ground

While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and Blessed them. 1 Kings 8:14

Standing up is a show of respect.We do it when someone deserving of honor comes into view. In some cultures, people stand up when anyone new enters the room; in others, standing up is reserved for dignitaries. Children have to be taught when it’s appropriate. Kneeling is even more rare. Protestants very rarely kneel, and Catholics kneel many times during Mass. It’s all a matter of what that culture demands.

Here, everyone was standing while the Ark of the Covenant was placed in Solomon’s temple.  They were showing respect for God. Whether standing, kneeing or sitting, the point is to honor and love God.  He’s much less concerned about our posture than our attitude. He demands a spiritual perspective not a physical position.

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End Game

God will Bless us and all the ends of the earth will fear Him. Psalm 67:7

We’re always seeking security. We plan for retirement. We vote for candidates who will keep us safe. We do everything to keep our children from harm except dressing them in bubble-wrap. Our national defense budget is huge, as is the cost of police and fire protection. We pay insurance premiums in case of a catastrophe. But Christ is our only real security.

Here, God not only promises to bless us, but to make us and all the ends of the earth fear Him. Whether this happens during our lifetime or on Judgment Day isn’t clear. We’re all writing our life stories, but God gets to write the ending for each of us. Let’s do our best to make sure it’s a happy one.

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Food Fight

“Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his Blessing before he dies.” Genesis 27:10

We need food and will die without it. Now, for the first time in history, we spent more money at restaurants than grocery stores. We often enjoy it too much, which means we also fight it. The dieting industry takes in billions of dollars annually.

Here, Jacob used food to deceive his father Isaac into giving him the blessing, not Esau, Isaac’s oldest son. It was God’s plan. God was punishing Esau who had chosen food (spicy stew) over his right to lead God’s people. The lesson is that God brings good out of bad all the time. He’ll also return at a time we don’t expect. We’ll never know when we just enjoyed our last meal!

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Any Questions?

After Abraham’s death, God Blessed his son, Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi. Genesis 25:11

Life and death seem to be opposites. Life is positive and exciting. Death is depressing and sad. But they’re just different ends along the same spectrum. Which is where family comes in. We’re born into one that’s always imperfect. Our relationships within it are sometimes complex and frustrating. When step-families are created, the dynamic changes even more. Grandparents die, kids grow up and grandchildren are born.

Here Abraham had died. God blessed Isaac because his father successfully passed down a love of God to him. It didn’t matter who his father was, it was Isaac’s faith that counted. It doesn’t matter what family we’re born into either. If we have faith, we’ll be blessed with eternal life. If we don’t, death awaits. Any questions?

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Share and Share Alike

People curse a man who hoards grain, but Blessing crows him who is willing to share. Proverbs 11:26

Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street” said greed is good. Our economic system encourages it. Even Solomon observed that the desire for “more” motivates us. That desire is innate. We sometimes hide our pursuant of riches by saying that we’re doing it for our “family” when we’re really doing it for ourselves.

Here, Solomon complains about someone who doesn’t share with the needy. Paul didn’t say that money was the root of all evil, but it’s the love of money that’s sinful, for two reasons. First, we need to depend on God, not money; He’ll provide. Second, loving our neighbor requires that we share with others. Having is different than hoarding. What we’ve got, we’re to share. It’s as simple as that.

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Pile It High

When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the Lord and Blessed His people Israel. 2 Chronicles 31:8

We never know when we’ll be blessed. God likes it that way. He knows what we need, when we need it, and how to deliver it. He knows when our faith needs stretching, and when a healthy dose of humility is in order. Unfortunately, there are no “magic words” that we can recite. Prayer is personal. Written or memorized prayers may help us focus, but it’s what’s in our hearts, not our mouths, that matters.

Here, God blessed Israel because they finally followed His commands after years of neglect. Which should give us comfort. They sinned and we sin. They  prayed and obeyed. Now it’s our turn. Despite their past, He blessed them. It’s never too late for us either.

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Family Resemblance

It is as if the dew of Herman were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His Blessing, even life forevermore. Psalm 133:3

God sometimes refers to physical places when He talks about blessings. His favorite is Jerusalem; Mount Zion is another name for it.  No one’s sure why God picked Jerusalem. It’s not located near a river, it’s not on the way to anywhere important, and there have always been more attractive cities.

Maybe that’s His point. God never selects people who have it all together either. They don’t “need” Him. They think they’re in control. The rest of us know we’re  lacking in physical, financial, emotional or spiritual resources. That’s why He blesses us. We know we need Him and He likes to be needed. All of His family members have been humbled – learn to like it!

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Wild-Eyed Radicals

Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving  freewill offering in proportion to the Blessings the Lord your God has given you. Deuteronomy 16:10

Of all the things that require faith, giving may be the hardest. It means taking our hard-earned dollars and not using those to cover our bills or to pay for a well-deserved vacation. Gifting means that it doesn’t get set aside for college or for retirement. Once it’s gone, the money’s completely out of our control. That sounds radical. It can be.

Normal people donate what they can spare. Radicals give without restraint. Jesus commended a widow for giving two coins because that was all she had – a radical widow! Will Jesus commend us for that kind of faith? Jesus’ death is His gift to us. What are we giving away today?

 

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Justice Delayed

The Blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, with in the house and in the field.  Genesis 39:5

It would be great to be blessed and for those blessings to be showered on others we know too.

That’s what is happening here. Potiphar bought a Hebrew kid named Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers at 17. Joseph was blessed and that blessing was on Potiphar too. But Joseph didn’t realize his blessing for 13 long years. God sometimes keep us from seeing His blessings until He’s ready to reveal them. He is working in our lives, but it’s only when we look back that we see His hand.  Look back. What has He done that only now is clear? Thank Him for that. Remember that justice delayed isn’t always justice denied. We’ll see His blessings – when He’s ready.

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