Special Tools

Special Tools

Isaiah 45:5

I am the Lord, and there is no other,
    besides me there is no God;
    I equip you, though you do not know me

This is God talking to King Cyrus.

In this verse God is reminding Cyrus where his power and authority come from.  God reminds Cyrus not to get too full of himself and start thinking of himself as a god.

As king of Persia, Cyrus conquered Babylon which was a great power at the time. So Cyrus was a pretty powerful king to conquer such a powerful nation. Continue reading

Selfish Expectations

Selfish Expectations

Hosea 13:5-6

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
    in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
    they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
    therefore they forgot me.

These two verses touch on a number of themes. There is the balance of the universe, times of  little and times of plenty.  And the subject of how we tend to pray like crazy when things go wrong, but when times are good, we don’t give thanks or realize what we have.  But today these verses brought to mind the arrogance of man.

The arrogance of man, the pride and selfishness to believe that we are the universe.  The arrogance of our expectations.  If the outcome doesn’t fit our expectations then all that happens throughout the universe are just random acts that have no rhyme or reason.  So we believe that we are not responsible for the consequences of our actions.

Verse 5:

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
    in the land of drought;

The Jews were lead out Egypt by God.  They wandered in the wilderness, and even though they were presented with miracles, they turned away from God.  During their times of hardship some thought it might be better to return to slavery. At least they would be given just enough food and shelter to survive.

Their arrogance and expectations not being met, made them willing to sacrifice their freedom for the comfort of the known.  The Jews were willing to abandon God just to be taken care of by an oppressor, even though it would be a sorrowful existence.  They were willing to abandon God because they did not like the consequences of their actions.

God wasn’t meeting their expectations.  The Jews must have thought; when we signed up for this freedom we didn’t think it would be this hard and require such a commitment.  To the Jews, slavery was better than dealing with hard times in order to get to the good times.  Their expectations were not being met and so God was to blame.

Their fortunes did turn around.  The good came after sticking it out for forty years.  But did they realize that through their work and the consequences of their actions, that the balance of the universe came into play?  Did they remember what brought them to the land of milk and honey?

No, they abandoned God in the good times.  Why think of God and give thanks for your blessings when you are not in want?

Verse 6:

but when they had grazed, they became full,

they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;

therefore they forgot me.

When things are bad we like to blame someone else, but when things are good we credit ourselves, admire our work and abandon God.  At that point we feel we have no need for God.  This is our arrogance and selfish expectations.  We fail to see the balance, the bad that will get us to the good, and the good that will take us to the bad.

What God has given us through prayer, thoughtful, honest contemplation and an open heart, is the ability to deal with and survive both the good and the bad, as we seek God and the path of righteousness.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

God’s Offspring

God’s Offspring

Acts 17:21-31

Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

I read this story and was intrigued by the twenty first verse that talks about the Athenians and foreigners who “would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new”.

I assume the writer is trying to convey to the reader that these were opened minded people and willing to listen to anything they hadn’t heard before.  This was fertile ground for Paul to spread his words.

Paul tries to enlighten them and what he says about God is how I felt for years. Continue reading

A Pot Among Earthen Pots

A Pot Among Earthen Pots

Isaiah 45:9-12

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
    a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
    or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
    or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”

Thus says the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
    will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth
    and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
    and I commanded all their host.

Before I sat down to write this post I read some commentaries about theses verses, in order to get a better understanding of what Isaiah is saying, and to whom these words are directed.

Isaiah is speaking to the Jews who are grumbling against God.  They are complaining about how God has allowed them to be taken into captivity before sending them salvation.  Some of them are wondering why God didn’t just cut out all the drama and turmoil of being enslaved by foreign invaders and just save them from being captured in the first place. Continue reading

Special Tools

Special Tools

Isaiah 45:5

I am the Lord, and there is no other,
    besides me there is no God;
    I equip you, though you do not know me

This is God talking to King Cyrus.

In this verse God is reminding Cyrus where his power and authority come from.  God reminds Cyrus not to get too full of himself and start thinking of himself as a god.

As king of Persia, Cyrus conquered Babylon which was a great power at the time. So Cyrus was a pretty powerful king to conquer such a powerful nation. Continue reading

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Ezra 4:11-16

(This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) “To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”

I found this letter to be interesting because it confirms what I have said about protests and symbolism.
Protest accomplish nothing. All of the signs, speeches,demonstrations, catchy little phrases and hash tags, don’t make a difference. They just make you feel better about yourself. You say; See, I did something, I wore this color, I wore this wristband, I stood or I kneeled with my hand in the air.  I did my part.  I’m helping. I’m special. Continue reading

Prides Destruction

Prides Destruction

Daniel 5

I wrote a note to myself after I read this chapter and what I wrote was, “Daniel 5, the part about becoming proud”.

I looked at this note a couple of days later. I was looking for some post ideas.  When I looked at it I wasn’t sure why I wrote it down or what I meant so I placed the note in the back of my journal.

Over the next couple of weeks I kept bypassing this note.  I would look at it, not get what I meant by the note and move on to another one.

Finally as I started running short of new ideas I decided to go back and re read Daniel 5 and see if I could figure out what it was I wanted to say when I wrote the cryptic note. Continue reading