Today: Psalms 77:1-9; Acts 15:1-21; 1 Kings 9:10-28; 1 Kings 11:1-13

Psalm 77

“I cried out to God with my voice …and He gave ear to me.” Psalm 77:1

Over and over we see this pattern in the Psalms. The Psalmist begins with a lament. This is a difficult life full of troubles and sickness. But we can cry out to God and know that He will “give ear” to us. His answer may not always be what we would prefer, but He hears us and cares about us.

Acts 15

Acts 15 describes the first big dispute in the early church. The disagreement was whether circumcision was required to be saved.

Some of the Jewish Christians were still stuck in the old physical law mindset of their ancestors. I am happy that the Jews listened to Paul and Barnabas who advised not to “test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.” (v.10) Believing in Jesus Christ is a state of the heart and soul “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” (v.11) not of our physical bodies.

The debate still rages today: legalism vs. act of faith… rules vs. freedom.

Here’s contemporary high profile example. Remember when the performer Kanye West started publicly professing a belief in Jesus Christ? He held worship services and indicated in many other ways that God was obviously doing SOMETHING in his heart.

So wow… I found it so exciting that such a famous celebrity would courageously stand up for Jesus. I’m sure many of his fans considered this Jesus Christ for the very first time because of Kanye’s witness. I prayed for Kanye and for the Holy Spirit to work mightily through him. What an amazing opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work on a grand scale in our young people!

But from a lot of Christian leaders I saw only condemnation and judgment. I read one argument from a well-known preacher who said that Kanye had no business holding worship services. He said Kanye first needed to be discipled by solid Christian teachers until he had a better understanding of the gospel. That could take years, he said. He argued that until Kanye had been properly trained, he should keep his mouth shut about Jesus so that he didn’t lead anyone astray…

Excuse me, what? I think that preacher has a controlling, legalistic viewpoint. He is like the Pharisee who couldn’t see that God has healed a blind man, but only obsessed over the man picking up his mat on the Sabbath. I don’t think we should try to shut down the Holy Spirit’s work. We have to release people’s necks from the yoke of law and trust the Holy Spirit.

God working through us dumb humans will always be a messy imperfect business. Kanye displays all the odd ideologies and eccentricities that most people in such a position of extreme wealth and fame possess (kinda’ reminds me of King Solomon). He says and does a lot of things that make me cringe. And yes, in a perfect world he really should submit to discipleship under a trained Christian teacher. But this isn’t a perfect world and I can tell ya’ right now, that is not going to happen. Kanye listens to no man. But he is evidently trying, albeit imperfectly, to listen to the Holy Spirit. And news flash: we ALL respond to the Holy Spirit imperfectly.

So for now I rejoice to see the Holy Spirit working in such a grand fashion, performing “many miracle and wonders” and I continue to pray for ‘YE!

1 Kings 10-11

God had blessed Solomon almost beyond belief. He had great power, wealth and wisdom. He built amazing cities and buildings. Leaders traveled from all over the world to view his accomplishments.

But Solomon fell away from God in his later years. I think it is no coincidence that “the weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents…” (v.14) That old familiar number of the enemy hints at the evil that was creeping into Solomon’s heart and turning him slowly away from the God of his father.

Ultimately Solomon was led away from God by lust; he “loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharoah, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites — from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them…” (v.1) Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. WOW. He really loved the ladies. And in the end, it was his wives that “turned his heart after other gods.” (v.4)