Perfecting Imperfection

Our journey through Hebrews continues this week as the writer again makes the case for Jesus’ superiority as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. He points out the futile efforts of the human priests, who can’t make a dent in the sin problem, and the single sacrifice made by Jesus that wipes out sin forever. 

Hebrews 10:11-18 (Common English Bible)

11 Every priest stands every day serving and offering the same sacrifices over and over, sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right side of God. 13 Since then, he’s waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for his feet, 14 because he perfected the people who are being made holy with one offering for all time.

15 The Holy Spirit affirms this when saying,

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them.
After these days, says the Lord,
I will place my laws in their hearts
and write them on their minds.
17 And I won’t remember their sins
and their lawless behavior anymore.[a]
18 When there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer an offering for sin

In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, verse 14 reads like this:

 “It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people” (Hebrews 10:14 The Message). Preach it, Eugene! We are indeed some very imperfect people. The Holy Spirit affirms our condition of imperfection and points us toward a new plan. This new covenant will be placed in our hearts and written on our minds. Thanks be to God!

The imagery of God’s new plan being written in our hearts goes a long way toward a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s plan. God desires this covenant to be engraved not just on our hearts, but in our hearts… in other words, the deepest, inside part … of our hearts. God does not desire a superficial relationship with us but wants us to present the most inner part of our souls. We are invited to love God from the “inside-out.”

 Let’s take this in a different direction now. If God provided the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, can we really be unforgiving toward each other’s sin? And if we continue to hold grudges and refuse to forgive one another, what does that say about the power of the cross? It seems to say that our stubbornness is greater than the blood that was shed there. Everyone loves to be forgiven but we sure can be measly when it comes to forgiving others. Does that make sense? In this passage, God promises to not remember our sins and our lawless behavior anymore. This is the way we are to respond to one another, even in those situations where the offender has not asked for forgiveness.

 God calls us to forgiveness and Jesus made it conditional in the Lord’s Prayer when he said, “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” The phrase “as we forgive” means that we must give as good as we have gotten. And sometimes that is very, very hard.

 Is God calling you to forgive someone today? Remember that often the burden of unforgiveness is hardest on you, not the one who hurt you. Jesus’ perfect offering wiped your slate clean. Maybe it is time for you to wipe clean all the other slates in like manner..

Old Buoy by Michelle Robertson

Where East Meets West

 I live on a small island off a narrow strip of land known as the Outer Banks in North Carolina. These barrier islands are so narrow at parts that you can easily see the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pamlico Sound to the west without turning your head. At its most narrow part, the “east” is separated by the “west” by only 150 yards. When a storm hits, east waters meet west waters and close down the narrow two-lane road, cutting off the southern part of the island from the rest of civilization. This area may be one of the only places on earth where “east meets west” as it were.

The reality of east meeting west of course is that it never happens. If you travel east, you will continually be heading east around the globe. Such is the basis of David’s metaphor in our psalm today, as he celebrates that fact that “As far as east is from west—that’s how far God has removed our sin from us” (verse 12).

Psalm 103 (Common English Bible)

God won’t always play the judge;
he won’t be angry forever.
10 He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin
or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
11 because as high as heaven is above the earth,
that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
12 As far as east is from west—
that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
13 Like a parent feels compassion for their children—
that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him.

Our sins have been banished to a place that doesn’t exist; thus we suffer them no longer. This reminder of the infinite nature of God’s saving love is a blessing when we have strayed from God’s will for our lives. David’s beautiful psalm is a strong assurance of the power of the cross to obliterate our sins. The price that Jesus paid with his life is our guarantee that past sins won’t inform our present relationship with God. As David says, God won’t be angry with us forever and doesn’t deal with us according to our sin. Indeed, God deals with us according to the measure of our confession and repentance. The power of the shed blood of the atonement is the criteria upon which we will be judged … thanks be to God! Mercy reigns.

But do we believe that, or do we cling to past sins and use them as a way of beating ourselves up over and over again? It is so easy to lay our sin at the foot of the cross and then pick it up again the next day. Repeated self-condemnation of past transgressions becomes the devil’s playground, as he whispers in our ears that we aren’t worthy.

God’s faithful love says otherwise. As far as heaven is above the earth, that is the measure of God’s forgiveness and love for us.

If you are caught in a cycle of unforgiveness of your past, ask yourself this: is your sin actually greater than Christ’s crucifixion? Do you really have that much power? Isn’t holding on to past regret a form of arrogance?

God invites us to truly let go of our past and walk cleanly into the future with hope for which his Son died. Anything less diminishes the cross.

As Far as the East is to the West by Amanda Williams

Happy Are Those

Here is what not to do next time you are traveling. Do not put your heavy laptop in your checked baggage. I realize most of you know this. I struggle with the weight of my laptop in my carry-on, so on a recent flight I changed my routine and put it in my suitcase so I wouldn’t have to lug it around the airport. It was a direct flight … what could go wrong?

All was well until my checked bag decided to take a trip to Buffalo, N.Y. Unfortunately, I got off the plane in Norfolk, VA. Because of the lateness of the flight to Buffalo, my suitcase could not be returned to me for another day. Lesson learned.

It is hard to carry heavy things. Isn’t it lovely when you find a way to set them down?

David knew all about carrying heavy things. His many sins weighed heavily upon him. If you run a checklist of the Ten Commandments, he broke almost every one. But David also knew the joy that comes with forgiveness after you lay that heavy sin at God’s feet and repent:

Psalm 37 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silent, my body wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I have admired the sacredness of the confessional booth. While protestants do not follow a practice of confessing sins to a priest, the visual example of that ornate box while sitting in a worship service must bring comfort to Catholics during mass. It is a visible, tangible reminder of the nearness of forgiveness.

All you have to do is come.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

Therefore let all who are faithful
    offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
    shall not reach them.

God is our hiding place, where we can take our sins into the sacredness of his presence and be assured of redemption. God hears us when we confess and delivers us from the harm that sin brings.

You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

Are you carrying a burden of sin that is just too heavy to keep lugging around? The “confessional booth” of God’s heart is always open.

Happy Are Those by Michelle Robertson

Complacently Pleased

Have you ever met someone who “thought more highly of themselves than they ought”? We all know someone who is conceited, arrogant, braggadocios, and perhaps even narcissistic. They are in our family, in our workplaces, and in our church. On the one hand, it is good to have a certain measure of self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem. But folks who carry that to a new level and think they are better than everyone else are hard to take.

Jesus had the same problem. In a wonderful parable told in the book of Luke, Jesus calls out the showy and self-absorbed Pharisees:

Luke 18 (The Message)

9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

First, we have to admire Eugene Peterson’s choice of words in The Message. I laughed out loud at the phrases, “complacently pleased,” “looked down their noses,” and the notion that the Pharisee “posed” to pray. What vivid pictures these words conjure up! We get an image of a totally insufferable religious hypocrite.

Next, Jesus introduced a tax man as the foil to the puffed-up Pharisee. This meant a lot to the hearers of this story, because tax men of the time were the lowest form of humanity, the dredge of society, and the dirtiest scoundrels around. Like politicians, some might say.

13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

So, the folks listening to the story were shocked that the tax man was the hero of the tale, and the religious man was the villain.

Jesus’ point here was the level of humble sincerity we must bring to the altar. When the tax man asked for mercy and forgiveness, acknowledging that he was a sinner, he was speaking for all of us. We are that man slumped in the shadows with our faces in our hands. That is where God meets us with his saving grace.

The show-off went home not being made right with God because the show-off couldn’t be honest about his sin. Even though he ticked the boxes of tithing and praying, his heart was insincere, and his offering was shallow.

God desires more from us. He invites us to “simply be ourselves.” What does that say to you today? We can boldly come to his throne just as we are, without one plea, and be forgiven. That level of honesty with God is all that is required to be made right. Where is God calling you to come clean and be real? It’s time to come home.

Looking for a new devotional book? Psalms by the Sea makes a great Christmas present.

Coming Home by Michelle Robertson

Come to the Table

Several decades ago, I had an interesting conversation with an older gentleman who was leaving my church. I respected the fact that he set an appointment with me to give his reasons. I wasn’t prepared for the answer, though.

A young couple had joined the church the Sunday prior. As was our custom, we printed their names and address in the bulletin for people to add them to their church directories. This gentleman was leaving because we allowed them to join. He said that the fact that they had two different last names and one address was an indication that they were “living in sin” and he was shocked that the church allowed them to join. He saw that as the downfall of the church, the denomination, and Western civilization as we know it.

I carefully explained that the church did not have a policy that prevented anyone from joining. I mentioned that everyone who joins comes with some measure of sin, as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” I even tried joking with him that “you have to catch the fish before you clean the fish” and assured him that every member has come to church to be cleansed of their sins and grow closer in their understanding of God.

As I expected, my explanations fell on deaf ears and he and his wife left the church.

Jesus’ teaching is very clear that there is no hierarchy of sin and that the mission of the church is to make disciples of everyone. He had to explain this to the Pharisees at one point:

Matthew 9 (Common English Bible)

10 As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table.

11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 When Jesus heard it, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 13 Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

The Pharisees were well known for making the public sacrifices that their religious rituals called for, but for harboring hate toward others in their heart. Jesus was radicalizing a new idea here: drop the meaningless rituals and offer mercy toward your fellow man instead.

They couldn’t do it.

Can we?

Look around. There are people in your community who live on the margins who need to be invited to Christ’s table, and maybe even to yours. Christ welcomes all to his table: the immigrants, the homeless, the kings, the addicts, the LGBTQ community, the prostitutes, the CEOs, the unwed mothers, the prisoners … he would not turn a single one of them away.

Neither should we.

Come by Alice Rogers

The Sluice Box

A few years ago, we took our grandchildren to a place called Dinosaur World. The day was highlighted by a stop at a gem-finding place. It was one of those venues where you purchase a bag of dirt and pour it into a tilted sluice box. Water runs through the box and washes away the dirt to reveal the hidden gems. Rose quartz, red jasper, amethysts, and other beautiful stones emerged with each washing. The kids were thrilled with their new treasure!

We are like that in a way. Every time we go before the Lord to confess our sins, we are washed in the sluice box of his forgiveness. The beauty of our potential is revealed through repentance. We emerge from this experience as humbled, forgiven people who reflect the light of Jesus in every sparkling facet.

Today’s psalm uses a powerful image of God as the Rock of our salvation. It is fitting. In the bag of rocks at the gemstone place, each gem is a small piece that was broken off from a bigger rock. To realize that God is our Rock is to acknowledge that he is our stronghold, our place of origin, and our constant source of strength and rescue. We are but small pieces, made in his image.

We are invited to come before our Rock with joyful shouts and singing:

Psalm 95 (New King James Version)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

God’s greatness is our hope. Everything in heaven and on earth is his.

For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

There is nothing for us to do but bow down and worship.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

Do you need to present yourself before the Rock and find his salvation once again? Are you feeling broken, separated, small, or fragile? Do you need forgiveness to wash over you like the running water in a sluice box?

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. In HIS hand is everything we need to make it through one more day.

The Rock of Our Salvation by Kathy Schumacher

When You Forgive, You Love

One of our New Year’s traditions is to watch TMC’s annual tribute to the actors, writers, and directors who passed away in the previous year. It is a sentimental overview of each one’s life and contribution to the movie arts. Every year it makes us sad, but appreciative. This year there was a very brief tribute to the great Hal Holbrook that caught my attention. They showed a clip from a Jon Krakauer movie called Into the Wild. Holbrook was talking to a young man and said this amazing line: “When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.”

As we say in my industry, that will preach.

It occurs to me in this first week of the new year that many of us are going into 2022 with the same grudges we carried in 2021 … and perhaps longer. There is a certain hypocrisy in that for believers. We fully expect that God will forgive our sins … in fact, we are counting on it. We know that Christ died for our sins, and we believe that when we approach the throne of grace with repentant hearts, our sins will be forgiven. This is the Gospel promise.

But when it comes to forgiving others, we sometimes set a higher standard than the one God sets for us. We hold onto hurts and offenses like they are oxygen masks on a plane that is crashing. We tell them over and over to anyone who will listen. We hurl them in the face of the one who inflicted the pain every chance we get. We rarely let a new argument pass without bringing up these ancient wounds, using them like a weapon to re-inflict pain back into the relationship. But rather than give us life, grudge-holding and unforgiveness only take us down in flames with the burning plane.

Listen to the wisdom that Proverbs 17 offers:

Proverbs 17 (Names of God Bible)

Whoever forgives an offense seeks love,
    but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.

This is a hard lesson today. It will require some soul searching. When an offense has become a comfortable blanket in which we wrap ourselves as a defense against the coldness of the offender, we can easily forget that God calls us to a higher account. We are reminded to forgive, even in those awful moments where forgiveness is not being sought. We are reminded to stop throwing the sin in the face of the offender.

We are reminded to seek love.

But truly, God’s direction to forgive is really for your own benefit. When you forgive, YOU are released from the offense. When you forgive, the memory of it can finally be given over to God and you don’t have to carry its heavy burden anymore. When you forgive, the prison of hurt, anger, and pain that you were trapped in is finally opened wide. You were the prisoner of the offense, not your offender, and only forgiveness can make you free.

This is not a call to forget. Remembering the source of pain helps us avoid it the next time. No one is supposed to remain in an abusive relationship after forgiveness. That is not God’s plan. Forgiving and walking away without holding onto the grudge is the best way to set ourselves free.

Are you holding onto a grudge? Do you bring up old hurts when you argue with someone you love? Do you dwell so much on past offenses that you can’t see the beauty of today?

Set yourself free. Forgive the offense and seek love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.

God’s Light Will Set You Free by Michelle Robertson

Clean Slates

Our journey through Hebrews continues this week as the writer again makes the case for Jesus’ superiority as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. He points out the futile efforts of the human priests, who can’t make a dent in the sin problem, and the single sacrifice made by Jesus that wipes out sin forever:

Hebrews 10 (The Message)

11-18 Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.

You just have to love Eugene Peterson’s creative writing ability in this passage. ”It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.” Preach it, Eugene! We are indeed some very imperfect people.

The Holy Spirit confirms this:

This new plan I’m making with Israel
    isn’t going to be written on paper,
    isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;
This time “I’m writing out the plan in them,
    carving it on the lining of their hearts.”

Again, the imagery of God’s new plan being written on the lining of our hearts goes a long way toward a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s plan. God desires his covenant to be engraved not just on our hearts, but on the lining … in other words, the deepest, inside part … of our hearts. Peterson reminds us that God does not desire a superficial relationship with us, but wants us to present him with the most inner part of our souls. He literally wants us to love him from the ”inside-out.”

He concludes,

I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.

Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.

Let’s take this in a different direction now. If God provided the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, can we really be unforgiving toward each other’s sin? And if we continue to hold grudges and refuse to forgive one another, what does that say about the power of the cross? That our stubbornness is greater than the blood that was shed there? Does that make sense?

God calls us to forgiveness. Jesus made it conditional: ”Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.”

Is God calling you to forgive someone today? Maybe it is time for you to wipe clean all the slates.

Blustery Day by Michelle Robertson


Have you ever been betrayed? Few things in life sting the way a betrayal stings. The wounds left behind can feel raw and open for a long time. Whether it happens in a professional setting or a personal one, even the memory of someone turning against you can cause pain. I know a woman who was terribly betrayed decades ago by a former boss. The boss used her position and power to undermine and derail my friend. She ended up resigning just one step ahead of an unfair dismissal. Her career never recovered. When she talks about it even to this day, you can feel her anger and grief as though it happened yesterday.

We know that our Lord suffered many betrayals in his lifetime. He was rejected by his own people and lied about by men “in charge.” His daily skirmishes with the Pharisees were a constant irritant as they rejected him over and over. The refusal of the high priests to acknowledge his messiahship was a constant attempt to undermine his divine authority. Even the disciples were confused and dull in their understanding of his mission. And then, of course, came the ultimate betrayal:

John 13 (Common English Bible)

21 After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.”

Do you suppose it helped that Jesus knew it was coming? I don’t. This translation says that he was “deeply disturbed.” My heart breaks for Jesus in this moment. You and I have been in that place of being hurt by someone we loved and trusted. This pain is real.

22 His disciples looked at each other, confused about which of them he was talking about. 23 One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was at Jesus’ side. 24 Simon Peter nodded at him to get him to ask Jesus who he was talking about.25 Leaning back toward Jesus, this disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?”

Poor Simon Peter! His love for Jesus and his loyalty made it hard for him to hear that one of them was about to betray the Lord. Imagine how it felt to realize that this tight team of men, who had lived and worked together for three years, was about to be obliterated by one man’s actions. They must have felt helpless at this news. All of them, of course, except the betrayer:

26 Jesus answered, “It’s the one to whom I will give this piece of bread once I have dipped into the bowl.”Then he dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. 27 After Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

The scripture makes it clear what happened. Satan entered Judas. It was a demonic possession. Judas is now being employed by the devil himself to finish Jesus’ ministry. This is being done to fulfill all of the prophecies about the messiah that foretold that Jesus would suffer and die so that everyone might be raised up with him into eternal life.

So who used who? Certainly God’s purpose is now being met by what Judas is about to do. God had the ultimate authority over Satan’s futile attempt to derail and undermine the power of Jesus. Jesus’ power only grew stronger through the crucifixion and resurrection. In this way, Judas was only a pawn…not of Satan, but of God.

Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 No one sitting at the table understood why Jesus said this to him.29 Some thought that, since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus told him, “Go, buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So when Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night.

Judas had been accepted into the group and was considered to be trustworthy enough to “hold the purse.” He was a person of noble character. He was a follower of Jesus. He was an important member of the team right up until the very end. Yet his guilt over his actions that night led him to take his own life after receiving his thirty pieces of silver for his heinous deed. Perhaps in the moment when Satan released him, he couldn’t bear living with what he had done.

Let’s turn this around now and consider times when we were the betrayer. Have you ever gossiped about someone, spoken a word against someone out of jealousy, or actively undermined someone for your own personal gain? Have you betrayed a confidence or repeated a falsehood to make yourself look better? Did you ever cheat on a relationship? Are you guilty of betraying God? I imagine we all are. I am a betrayer. I bet you are, too.

If God is dealing with you on this issue, it’s time to come clean. Confess your actions to the person you have hurt and confess your sins to God. All of us carry some kind of “Judas guilt,” but we don’t have to let it take our lives as well. Thank God, you can be forgiven and cleansed of your betrayal!

Is it time to seek forgiveness? God is ready to hear you. Are you ready to speak?

Come Clean by Michelle Robertson

Turned Hearts

What tempts you away from the good things that you know you should be focusing on? Is it food, wealth, possessions, laziness, your neighbor’s spouse…the list is endless. All of us have a weakness for something we want that we know we shouldn’t have.

With Solomon, it was women. Perhaps it was wine, women, and song, but mostly it was women. (As in, over 1000 women.) He was the son of King David, who also had a weakness for women that weren’t his to enjoy. Solomon was a huge womanizer in a culture that thought little of women. His conquests were staggering, and his appetite was insatiable.

God loved Solomon and warned him about intermarrying with all these foreign women, but Solomon ignored every word:

1 Kings (Common English Bible)

11 In addition to Pharaoh’s daughter, King Solomon loved many foreign women, including Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. These came from the nations that the Lord had commanded the Israelites about: “Don’t intermarry with them. They will definitely turn your heart toward their gods.” Solomon clung to these women in love. 

Had Solomon clung to God, the rest of this story would have a better ending. Instead, he clung to these women in love. But I have to stop here and ask, what are YOU clinging to that threatens your relationship with God? Are you also turning away from God’s words of warning?

He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred secondary wives. They turned his heart. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods. He wasn’t committed to the Lord his God with all his heart as was his father David.Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the detestable god of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and wasn’t completely devoted to the Lord like his father David. 

“They turned his heart after other gods.” Our mamas warned us about running with a bad crowd. When you hang out with reprobates, you are likely to become one yourself. Mama was right.

On the hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a shrine to Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and to Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. The Lord grew angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from being with the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 The Lord had commanded Solomon about this very thing, that he shouldn’t follow other gods. But Solomon didn’t do what the Lord commanded.

Have you ever failed to do what the Lord commands? Sometimes temptations are so great they blot out everything else. Godliness, decency, moral living, and proper behavior are often the victims of a temptation to which we succumb.

11 The Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done all this instead of keeping my covenant and my laws that I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. 12 Even so, on account of your father David, I won’t do it during your lifetime. I will tear the kingdom out of your son’s hands. 

The punishment is pronounced, but notice that even in anger, God’s love for both David and Jerusalem results in a measure of grace being extended. But Solomon’s actions result in the loss of a united Israel. After his death, the kingdom divides and grows weaker and weaker. Eventually even Jerusalem falls.

13 Moreover, I won’t tear away the entire kingdom. I will give one tribe to your son on account of my servant David and on account of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Solomon the Wise turns into a King of Fools when he succumbs to his temptations. His strength becomes his weakness as he goes from following God to actually building detestable idols in his own backyard. We can see in his story that having wisdom is not a panacea against the wiles of evil. Being smart does not equate to having strength of character.

Where is God calling you to outwit your temptations? Have you stepped aside from God’s will for your life as you have chased after idols? Has someone or something turned your heart?

Through the grace offered by the shed blood of the atonement, you can turn away from those things and come back to God. Forgiveness is the blessing that is always available to the repentant person. Softly and tenderly, Jesus calls us to come home.

Come Home by Peggy Bryson