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 2 Corinthians 13 & Psalm 101

Today we have a contrast in passages. The Psalmist in Psalm 101 describes what it is like to walk with integrity before the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul is admonishing the church in Corinth to start walking in integrity. I wonder if Paul was thinking of Psalm 101 when he wrote this closing passage to the church. As an aside many times I hear people say it would be great to get back to what the early church was like. My answer to that is which church. I’m not sure I would have wanted to be a part of this church in Corinth (that’s for another day).  

Psalm 101 lays out the marks of integrity before the Lord:

  • Singing praise to the Lord, v. 1.
  • Meditating on God throughout the day, v. 2.
  • Wasting time with useless endeavors is not part of a person’s focus, v. 3.
  • Being kind to neighbors is important, v. 5.
  • The company you keep will be with people who also have integrity, vv. 4 & 6.
  • Always being truthful is another mark of someone who has integrity, v. 7.

Where is our focus today? Is it on personal holiness and integrity or the sin of church politics and pride? Let’s read this short Psalm everyday till we see these marks of integrity being played out in our lives. For some of us we are finished and moving on to the next Psalm. If you’re like me, you’ll need to read it over several more times. God bless you real good!


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I Kings 4-5; 2 Chronicles 2

Largeness of Heart

I am not the brightest bulb in the pack; in fact, when it comes to riddles or jokes, out of frustration, you will ultimately have to explain to me the solution or punchline. Yet, I consider myself a good counselor when it comes to containing the stories and complications of the lives of others. What I find is that I often experience that “aha” moment, that instant of clarity and knowledge which allows me to be of help. There are many times when my education or what I have experienced is not enough to demonstrate God’s everlasting love in the therapeutic relationship. Where does that wisdom come from? My faith and belief are that God is enlarging my heart with understanding, increasing godly compassion, and sparking the curiosity of lifelong learning that enables me to offer a glimpse of God’s love and acceptance to the hurting.

When I read, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore,” I was struck with the words “largeness of heart.” (I Kings 4:29) Solomon was a young man, probably in his early 20’s when he became king over all Israel. His judgments, inventions, poems, and sayings were renowned. His reign and influence legendary. Solomon prayed for and God answered his prayer to have the wisdom to rule God’s people. Solomon knew, as is evidenced in the Proverbs he wrote, that just having intellect did not equate with wisdom. He acknowledged by His request for wisdom that He would need more than smarts and experience to be a good ruler. And God enlarged Solomon’s heart to contain the real-life issues of His people so that Solomon could settle disputes, negotiate treaties, and expand God’s kingdom on earth. I am not so foolish to think that I sit with the greatness of Solomon, but I am humbled to know that God is willing to take thought of me, too, when my prayers align with His will to speak godly wisdom when counseling others.

If you have never participated in talk therapy, you may find my words strange or find it hard to relate to the importance of establishing a trusting, non-judgmental relationship with another human being. Counseling is not just getting someone to talk about something bad that happened or getting a confession that leads to catharsis. The sessions are mutually momentous and forever memorable for both the counselor and the one seeking counseling. I often think of this quote by C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Therapy is not the only place where largeness of heart is needed. God considers every human being important; therefore, every relationship is an opportunity to share the serious business of godly love. And just like the edict above, our relationships should reflect joy knowing that we are considered equal in God’s eye. How we relate to others will be our testimony to the understanding and wisdom born out of acceptance that we are here but a short while living among immortal souls. Should we not make the most of our time together meaningful spirit to spirit?

Dear Lord God, You are to me the reason for this life, this time in my life, this placement in Your plan. Let me remember how little my needs and preferences are in comparison to the importance of what You have stored up for me. I thank You for all the blessings and tender mercies in my life. I thank You for all the experiences that have brought me closer to You. And I welcome Your future for me, knowing that You will enlarge my heart even more as may be needed to bring others nearer to You.


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1 Kings 3, 2 Chronicles 1, 2 Corinthians 12, Psalm 78

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’  And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you.  And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day.  And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child.  I do not know how to go out or come in.  And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.  Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (I Kings 3:5-9 ESV)

Solomon could have asked for power, money, longevity, etc. but we chose well and unselfishly.  He chose wisdom.  And God was pleased.

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.  And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word.  Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.  I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.  And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 Kings 3:10-14 ESV)

God honored Solomon’s good choice by also blessing him with things that he did not ask for.  He loves to lavish on us abundantly when we follow Him.  And Solomon’s wisdom was put on display when two women appeared before him, both claiming that a baby was hers.

“And the king said, ‘Bring me a sword.’  So a sword was brought before the king.  And the king said, ‘Divide the child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.’  Then the women whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, ‘Oh my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.’  But the other said, ‘He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.’  Then the king answered and said, ‘Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death, she is his mother.’  And all Israel heard of the judgement that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.” (I Kings 3:24-28 ESV)

Like Solomon and his wisdom, let it be my daily, life long goal to please God and show His love and power through the testimony of my life.

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.” (Psalm 78:4 ESV)


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1 Chr. 22-25; 2 Cor. 9

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-9 [ESV])

During COVID shutdown when we couldn’t go to church we started watching other worship services online. We would watch ours first and then usually Discover Church in Orlando, FL. They have a tradition that when the offering is announced everyone breaks out in applause. And the service leader quotes verse 7 above that God loves a cheerful giver. They enjoy giving and speak of it frequently there at Discovery.

It can be a hard thing to do, to give cheerfully. The Apostle Paul writes earlier that when we give we are given more… not so we can spend it on ourselves, but that we have more for his kingdom work. So this passage is pretty straight forward and it boils down to this. God even gives freely to the poor, so if you are not poor today you know he is giving to you. If you are poor he is giving to you. What are you doing with what he has given you? Are you giving a portion back to him or are you spending it on yourself? How much do you give to kingdom work? Well that’s between you and God.

My application for you is to get alone with the Holy Spirit. Ask him what should I be giving to kingdom work. Then sit in silence waiting patiently for his answer. It will come in a still small voice. And when you realize it is coming from him – the God of the universe – that will make you a cheerful giver. Try it. See what happens.

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2 Samuel 21-23; 2 Corinthians 7; Psalm 55

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 ESV

Godly grief.

As I ask God to search me and know me, to bring to mind areas of weakness and error, he stirs a grief that leads to repentance. This is not the same as the shame-filled guilt that Satan uses to drag us into depression. The fitting outcome is joyfully repentant restoration not isolating self-condemnation.

David lives this out as he pleads to God for the cause of a famine and drought that has stretched into multiple years. This time the cause is not a personal sin, but a national oversight, a political action is needed.

 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

2 Samuel 21:1 ESV

When God revealed the cause of the judgment, David didn’t curl up in a ball and call himself names, he went to work to make it right. He drew out the pus that had been allowed to fester since before he was even king. His resolution might chafe against our modern-day culture, but at the time it brought peace and resolution even as the grief climaxed before resolving.

But I call to God,
    and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
    I utter my complaint and moan,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
    from the battle that I wage,
    for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
    he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
    and do not fear God.

Psalm 55:16-19 ESV

David knew how to pray. Maybe that is why I love using the Psalms as patterns for my own prayers, reframing the words for my situation, whether painful or joyful. He knew God, and received responses from God, to a depth that I crave as well and as a result was both brutally honest and at times uncomfortably vulnerable.

His faith carried him from his birth as the youngest of a lot of boys, to isolation as a shepherd, to the victory over Goliath, to the throne room of a united Israel, to his deathbed as a victorious military leader and political ruler. Yes, there were many mountainous bumps along that road. And, he had to wrestle with his human sinfulness time and again. However, he showed a relentless desire to follow God’s heart and prune sin and wrongs from his life.

Loving Father, thank you for David’s transparent example of a heart for you. Expose my sin and areas needing resolution as you did for him. If anything stands in the way of fruitful service for you, open my eyes to that and give me the boldness to seek wholeness. May I also come to you with such regularity and humility that my heart may similarly be completely interwoven with your own. Thank you for pursing me, drawing me, transforming me. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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