2 Samuel 9–The Power of Friendship

David never forgot his promise to Jonathan. After he settled the kingdom and established himself, he sought out any living relatives of Saul. Jonathan’s son was left.  David immediately had him brought to Jerusalem, he restored Mephibosheth with all his families Lands and wealth. He brought the young man to his table and assigned him servants for the rest of his life. He did not do any of those things because he had to, he did them simply because he promised his friend Jonathan.
 
It is great when we see such friendship and devotion.  In our lives, we are all blessed with friends and should always be ready to pour our lives into them as well.  We never know the impact our devotion to others will bring. But the investment of our lives into others can and should yield loyalty that lives long past us.  We are here to live with purpose and leave a legacy.  We should be devoted like Jonathan was to David; and, like David was to Jonathan’s son.  Father Help me to be that kind of friend.
 
God Bless You

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

“Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So, King David, had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandsonmay be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

I Samuel 14 Part 3–Man Made Rules

Things were going so well.  Jonathan had listened to the Lord and as he followed God, He routed the Philistine army.  His faith inspired the army and Israel enjoyed a great victory.  Saul decided to call a fast for all the men.  He imposed the fast until the evening.  Sadly, Jonathan did not hear about the fast and ate some honey.  Immediately God withdrew his blessing.  The king imposed a rule on God’s behalf, and now his son violated it.  So, as a result the Israelites had to stop the route and go home.
 
I am sure Saul meant well, but, He forgot to seek God before imposing a fast in the middle of a battle.  Had he sought the Lord, God would have said–this is not the best time, your men are expending a great amount of energy fighting–they need food.  None the less, Saul’s rule caused his son to sin and ended Israel’s victory.  Jonathan was mad, Saul was grieved and God was silenced on that day.  
 
In our lives, we have to be careful about imposing self-made rules to show God how religious we really are.  God looks at our hearts.  If we submit to Him and He molds is into His image–the Lord will lead us to actions that are necessary to become more like Him.  God does not need our help to make ourselves more religious.  We simply need to trust God to lead and follow that lead each day.  In Colossians 2:20-23 Paul says it best,”Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
 
God Bless You

Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.

25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[c] 28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”

29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”

Numbers 27 Part 2–End of Mission

It was a heart rending moment, I am sure, for Moses when the Lord said–it is time to go. He had led the Israelites for over 40 years and now at the edge of the promised land, he had to die. There were many days that Moses wished he had simply honored God’s command–but, he knew this day would come and he met it bravely and thoughtfully.  As a great leader, his first thought was not to beg for a second chance–it was to make sure the people had a worthy leader.Joshua had been with Moses since Egypt. He had always honored Moses and God. He was one of the spies that said,”Lets do this!”  He was ready to lead the people.  So God transferred the authority of Moses to Joshua through God’s priest Eleazar. Moses laid hands on Joshua and commissioned him to lead the people into the promised land. At that, Moses had completed the mission God had given him. It was a daunting mission, and clearly it took an amazing servant to complete it.  Moses was that servant.It is the prayer of my heart to be that kind of servant. To follow the Lord’s leadership and commands.  To walk faithfully to the end of the mission.  It is often thankless, frustrating and daunting. Still, we are assured that God is with us and will lead us throughout the amazing journey.God Bless You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin,both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things,appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him,as the Lord instructed through Moses

Matthew 9 Part 3–The Harvest

 ​As Jesus continued His ministry, He worked to touch as many lives as He could. Each group Jesus came upon, reminded Him of the purposeless existence that sin and the world had spread among the people. The crowds moved through their days like tortured prisoners or aimless wanderers.  Jesus came to bring back that purpose. While His mission was one of sacrifice, Jesus was compelled to show love, mercy and restoration to everyone He could. Like the Father, Jesus could not bear to see people suffer–when He knew that He could help.

So, as Jesus moved from town to town, He touched and healed the sick. He freed the ones who were demon possessed. He loved the loveless, blessed those that were cursed and even raised the dead. Jesus was never trying to impress people, He simply could not help but love those God the Father had entrusted to him.  He was committed to showing His disciples, those that would build the Church, that “the Church” was about these people. 

In our world, like in the Savior’s, folks are walking aimless and purposeless through life. They are sick, sad, entrapped and ensnared. They are seeking something…anything to provide peace and purpose. The great news is that Jesus is just as much the answer today as he was those days when he walked among us. Jesus loves us just as much, and He wants nothing more than to restore, guide and complete us; so, that we can live a purposeful life here and an eternal life with Him in Heaven.  Our world is ripe for harvest–just as His was–Jesus calls us to be the harvesters. He asks that we bring the people out of emptiness and into a life of meaning. Please join Him in the compelling mission–of loving those that are unloved, and seeking to save that which is lost.

God Bless You

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Psalm 136–His Love Endures Forever

This has to be one of my favorite psalms.  The psalmist wrote this psalm as a compilation of the things Israel could be thankful for.  Here, the God of the universe–time after time, took matters in hand and cared for those He loved.  No issue too small, no matter too hard, no time too early or too late! God, our Father was there to love and care for His chosen people.

The best part of the psalm is the refrain–“His Love Endures Forever!!!!!” (with emphasis).  That phrase acts like a life vest in a storm.  It keeps us afloat in the worst of times.  Like the psalmist, we need to grasp, that while things in our lives may change, one thing does not–“His Love Endures Forever!” That promise brought Jesus from Heaven to earth in human form to show us God’s true nature, and to restore the relationship between God and people.  What a great gift, and a beautiful picture of the fact that His love truly endures forever.

Our response is simple–follow His lead, seek His face, and trust the fact that not only does His love endure forever–it endures forever–FOR US! We are the reason that He gave His life, sent his spirit to guide us and prepared a place for us in Heaven.  In short, one thing remains clear–“His Love Endures Forever!!!”

God Bless You

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

Psalm 109–God is Our Vindicator

One of the hard lessons in life we all learn, is that mean people, do mean things, even when we are nice. Each of us have encountered those that lie, cheat, abuse, accuse, berate, frustrate and seek to end our friendships, our reputations and even our lives–if possible.  They have no other reason to do so–other than “that they can.”

In recounting the life of David, he had several people like that. Saul, Absalom, Doeg, Ahithophel and many other enemies had one goal–to find, destroy and ultimately kill God’s dear friend. They didn’t have real cause to harm him, except for their personal gain realized from David’s demise. So David, a man after God’s own heart–went to his knees; and, took the task of vindication to the same God that had taken on all his other battles.

David had no where else to go! He was, at various points–hiding in caves, running for his very life, leaving his palace, or hiding in enemy territory. He did not have a local advocate, a media outlet or a 1-800 number to call for relief–He ONLY HAD the creator of the universe!!! History tells us that was all he needed. God did vindicate David. He prepared, protected and provided all David needed to be the greatest king in Israel.

He provides those same resources for us! We have no better outlet or resource for our preservation and vindication; than God Almighty. Life and those in our lives throw curve balls intended to up-end and destroy us. We want so badly to retaliate and avenge our wrongs. David reminds us that we need to look to our Father in Heaven for all things–even vindication–because, God can and will do it better than anybody else!

God Bless You

My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship…

Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to your unfailing love.
27 Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, Lord, have done it.
28 While they curse, may you bless;
may those who attack me be put to shame,
but may your servant rejoice.
29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;
in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.

Psalm 98–Keep it Fresh and Keep It Real

The psalmist’s theme this week is to praise God for who He is and for what He has done. All week, we have looked at the different aspects of God’s greatness; and have seen that no matter our opinion, He is God; and He still reigns.

Today, the message is simple, “Keep it fresh!” Sometimes, we become so involved in the routine that we lose sight of the purpose. That is exactly what the writer is warning the reader about.

We need to look at our relationship with God daily.  We need to recognize each day his glory, greatness and provision in our lives.  As we do, His power and majesty registers in our day, and we never lose sight of who He is and who we are in Him.  If we do, however, lose sight–then we begin do our lives as a religion and not a relationship. At that point, we start worshiping the rituals and not the creator.  So, that is why the psalmist reminds us to sing God a new song–make your worship about Him and not about the discipline of worship.  As we do that, we are engulfed and embraced by a power and a peace that transcends understanding.

God Bless You

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
    and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
    and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.