What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Good Life

Did David live a good life? As I studied 1 and 2 Samuel, I saw how rocky David’s life was. He was hot or cold for God. He obeyed and disobeyed God’s Laws. He did what God instructed or he took matters into his own hands. Saul chased him all over the countryside as he sought to kill David. Other enemies, including his own son, Absalom, attacked David. He suffered the loss of children. He suffered separations from wives. He was moody and often depressed. He was indecisive leading to continuing troubles. Eventually, like all of us, he grew old and feeble. This sounds like a rocky life to me.
1 Kings 1:1 says, “King David grew old, the years took their toll, and he couldn’t get warm even when they covered him with bedclothes.” Commentator, Tom Bradford, indicated that David might have been “prematurely old” due to a lifetime of stress, living in the wilderness, and consequences of his lifestyle. “Grew old” can also be translated, “lost his vitality.” However, Bradford also says that “toll” has a positive connotation that indicates that David lived a “meaningful life.”
It’s not a matter of living a long life that really matters. A person can live a long time but have only a few noteworthy days. David’s life had many noteworthy days, although not all for positive reasons. He lived a full life in the time he had. He may have become prematurely old because of his struggles in his soul. He may have had a “soul sickness” due to living in frequent disobedience to God. He was still recognized by God as a man after God’s own heart, but David’s choices led to many stresses that ruined his vitality.
This is true for many people today. Even though they profess to be Christians, their hard lives due to their choices leads to a soul sickness that ages them beyond their years. I’ve known many people who are alcoholic and profess to know God, but who continue to make the choice to drink. I understand it’s a disease and quite possibly genetic, but there’s still a choice about whether or not to pick up that first drink. Those who continually make the harmful choice suffer many losses and live with much stress. Many of them look much older than their chronological age.
It is not for me to judge how their hearts are with God. Looking at David’s life, it is hard to see how he was committed to following after God. Why and how could a person who professes to love and serve God live such a miserable life? I don’t know the answer to that; what I know is that it is possible. All we have to do is look at David.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Feeling Blue

We all have days like this. Disappointments. Frustrations. Everything is running late. Hopelessness. And more frustrations. That’s the kind of week I’ve had, so I’m having trouble determining something to say for my blog article.
To remind myself, and maybe giving you ideas, I’m going to compile a list of the ways I think and the activities I do to keep my balance during such days.
·      Praise God and recognize that His will shall be done.
·      Pray according to Philippians 4:6-7. Lay down my anxiety, present my requests to God, and enjoy His incomprehensible peace.
·      Contact a friend for a spiritual conversation that will remind me that God is in charge.
·      Dive into God’s Word. I do that in several ways. Daily devotion and Bible reading. Thorough Bible study of a book of the Bible. Memorize verses.
·      Choose to do activities with gusto that are the opposite of the way I feel.
·      Take care of myself with a nice cup of tea, listening to soothing music, or petting the cats.
·      Write, in my journal using a pen on paper. Write about the emotions, write about a recent event that brought joy, write an encouraging note to someone. Write.
·      Go for a walk.
·      Watch an entertaining movie or television show, preferably uplifting. Or watch silly cat videos online.
·      Practice relaxation techniques and/or deep breathing exercises.
·      Color pictures in a coloring book, or create pictures of my own.
·      Focus on one thing in the moment – maybe a task that needs to be done that I don’t feel like doing.
·      Read a book for fun.
·      Play a game; with someone else is the best, but on my phone is good too.

Wow! I had forgotten there are so many ways to live through disappointments. Many of them have lifted my mood at one time or another. And this evening, until bedtime, I’m going to watch some television with my family. I feel better just making that list and recognizing that there’s so many ways to handle anxiety. I just have to choose to do so.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

1st and 2nd Kings

Today my Bible study partner (Kris) and I began (actually continued) studying about the Kings of Israel (and Judah). Last week we left 2nd Samuel with David still being David, a man who runs hot and cold towards God – just like we do at times. As we start 1st Kings, we review some key insights from 1st and 2nd Samuel. And we take a look at the overarching theme of the two books of Kings.

A key reminder is that originally the books now titled 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings were one very large book. The divisions were made over time. Even as Christ came on the scene, these books were grouped together. Josephus (an early New Testament theologian) indicated that the Old Testament contained only 26 books versus today’s 39. This is not because there were books added over time, but because several books were originally grouped together (For instance, all minor prophets were in one book, Nehemiah and Lamentations were one book, Judges and Ruth were one book).

Also, we are reminded that the now 4 history books we are studying tell us about 3 different groups of people that ruled Israel: 1. Prophets, 2. Kings, and 3. High Priests. This is significant because these seemingly unimportant distinctions were all leading to one person. Jesus embodies all three roles. He’s the only one who does. He is prophet, king and high priest. That will be made totally clear during His rule on earth when He returns. Yet, it is also true now.
Looking forward to 1st and 2nd Kings, one commentator (from the NavPress Lifechange Study of Kings) summed up the focus of these two books, and much of Scripture actually. It said that 1st and 2nd Kings systematically dismantled Israel’s confidence in everything but the omnipotent mercy and patience of God. So, as we study these books we are going to look for incidences where this is shown. We made post-it notes to move from our notes from one chapter to the next with the following question on it to remind us to do so: “Where is God dismantling Israel’s confidence [in their beliefs, behaviors, and themselves] and showing His omnipotent mercy and patience?” I will be pointing out those things as I write my blog articles going forward. At least that’s the plan right now.
I hope you continue on this journey through the history of Israel with me. I’m looking forward to seeing how these books all tie together and why they were originally one book.