God forbid

“God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if you shall still do wickedly, you shall be consumed, both you and your king.” (I Samuel 12:23-25, the prophet Samuel speaking to the nation of Israel after anointing Saul as their first king.)

I watched the inauguration the other day and some of the festivities surrounding it. All the media hoopla reminded me of a coronation rather than an inauguration, sort of like the old footage I’ve seen of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

It was pretty, but I was a little sad as I watched. I remember being on that Mall when I joined hundreds of thousands of people for the first March for Jesus in the early 1980’s. We were there praying for our nation, not trashing the place. One hundred tons of trash were left on the Mall the other day, did you know that?

The people of Israel were having problems, social, religious, economic and military problems. They wanted a king instead of only religious leaders, some of whom had been scandalous. They were tired of being different, being “holy.” They wanted to be like their neighbor nations, and they especially wanted a leader who would “fight our battles.” (I Sam. 8:20).

They were warned that a strictly human head of government was a bad idea, but God let them have what they wanted.

I Samuel 8:10-18, the prophet Samuel’s warnings, are a real eye opener.

The new king would put lots and lots of people to work – not for themselves, but in the government. Then of course he would increase taxes to pay all those new workers. Um, um, um.

Israel got a tall, handsome man, experienced in his family business of raising animals but not experienced in politics. And before long the people would be wishing they’d never heard of him. “And you shall cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” (I Sam. 8:18). They would be stuck, because they gave the king the authority to be king and do all that in the first place.

That’s sort of where I see America these days. God is letting the people have what they wanted. I’m grateful we don’t have a king; that might be worse.

And I’m glad that when we pray, God does listen to our prayers, and if we pray His will in the first place, we give him permission to do what He wants in our lives and our country.

God forbid that we cease to pray for our new President and all the elected officials. Pray that God will “fix their thinking” wherever it’s wrong, and give them whatever they need to do a good job.

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Magnify the Lord… how

Psalm 34:3 says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me…”

How? How can you make the Lord bigger than he already is? That question popped into my head the other day for some reason, when I was thinking about the little chorus based on that verse.

The creator of the universe and everything in it, and everything outside of it – how big is he?

Not very big in some minds. Not big enough to care about little things. Like a parking space. A cell phone signal. A sale on groceries.

Or caring enough about the bigger things. Like a job. Or a heart attack. Dishonest banker. Crooked politician.

God doesn’t need magnifying in his person, he needs magnifying in our thinking.

He is big enough to design the most beautiful artwork in the galaxies, in a starfish, in a baby’s smile, and caring enough to listen to any believer’s prayer. I believe that, but some folks don’t.

We need to magnify his grace, his mercy, his compassion, his power, his patience, to the world.

It would be good to magnify him in the hearts and minds of his own people, too, who sometimes think he’s not paying attention to our hurts and lacks.

Today is a good day to start.

In the beginning

… was the Word, says John 1:1. Why? Why not say, In the beginning was the power? Or the love? Or the truth?

My meditations sometimes run in odd directions and this was one. I wasn’t studying John’s gospel or epistles, I was actually thinking about communications and relationships, the way we connect with each another.

I was in a theater when this train of thought began. A preview for an upcoming movie was on the screen, with one woman lamenting to another, Now I can be rejected in seven different technologies! You know, phone calls, voice mail, email, instant messaging, texting, facebook, myspace, etc.

Her point was that to have a relationship, communication is required. Two-way communication.

When John calls our attention to his writing, he points out that God communicates. He says things, and desires a reply.

Not all communication is verbal, of course. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and God’s most important and essential communication with us, his Word to us, was Jesus.

Jesus: the image of God and God himself in a form compatible with earth. The communicator of God’s thoughts, power, love, truth, holiness, humor, creativity, imagination, determination, plans, all contained in that one Word.

Fascinating way for John to begin his own communication of the gospel, don’t you think?