2 Samuel 2 Part 2–Civil War Stinks!

Now that Saul and Jonathan were gone, there still remained a sharp division between Saul’s people and David’s people.  What started out to be a discussion of an amicable solution, ended in a bloody civil war that cost the lives of over 400 soldiers. While the great majority were of Saul’s house, it was still a sad state of affairs.  Finally, when Joab’s brother was killed, both sides said enough.
 
The anger, the resentment, and the division had not ended–but the futility of killing each other became apparent. Both sides turned and went their separate ways. 
 
In our lives, we are put in positions that cause hurt and bitterness.  In that, if not dealt with reasonably, things can escalate to civil war in families.  Lives are damaged, relationships ended and families destroyed. Sadly, by the time all realize the devastation, it is often too late.  As a church, we have to exercise grace. None of us are perfect and all of us can forgive as we have been forgiven.  If we will, we can avoid life-changing civil wars and relationship killing altercations.  As God showed David, vengeance is God’s, and the Lord will repay evil against His chosen–so let Him!
 
God Bless You 

Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.”

“All right, let them do it,” Joab said.

15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.[a]

17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men.

18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“It is,” he answered.

21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”

23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.

24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.

26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”

28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

2 Samuel 1 Part 1–David Learns of Saul’s Demise

Truly, the death of Saul was a counter-intuitive event for David and for the Amalekite that brought news of Saul’s death.  There is little doubt that the messenger thought he would be the bearer of great news.  David’s nemesis and chief adversary was now gone and David could gain his throne…Isn’t that good news?  Well for David, his heart was for Israel. As God’s anointed king, David was deeply saddened by the death of another anointed king.  He was also saddened by the death of his friend Jonathan.  Mostly, however, he was saddened that the Amalekite servant was glad to see Israel’s king killed.

It is sad to see things go bad.  Even when we may benefit from another’s loss, our hearts, when focused on the Lord, can never rejoice when others pay a great price for it.  David was not selfish or narcissistic. He truly mourned the death of Saul.  David would now complete the mission, but, truth be told, David would have rather approached the throne as a welcome king, not a conquering one.

We need David’s heart.  We should seek God. He should be our primary concern.  As we do, the Lord deals with the circumstances that intervene. The way he protects and provides may be baffling to us, but as we trust him, the Lord makes clear that He is working His plan in our lives.  We will have to trust God to keep His word.  We can never underestimate God’s power, planning, or timing to address our needs and our lives.  We must seek the Lord with our hearts and trust Him with our lives. If we will do that, God promises to make our paths straight, to restore and heal us, and to add all these other things to our lives–that seems like a fair trade to me!!! (Matt 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

God Bless You

After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. On the third day, a man arrived from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.

“Where have you come from?” David asked him.

He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”

“What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”

“The men fled from the battle,” he replied. “Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’

“He asked me, ‘Who are you?’

“‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.

“Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’

10 “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”

11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I am the son of a foreigner, an Amalekite,” he answered.

14 David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”

15 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

I Samuel 26 Part 1–Honoring God is Always the Right Answer

It was very simple. David was being protected by God as King. Saul, on the other hand, was being deceitful, murderous and acting in direct rebellion to God. No man would have ever blamed David for killing Saul. David gave Saul countless opportunities to stop the hunt and allow David to live his life in peace. Still, Saul persisted. Now David had Saul’s life in his hands once again…but, David again trusted God and let Saul live.  It was never easy, and I am sure it frustrated his men, but, God was leading David and David had grown to trust God at all cost.
In our lives, we are faced with trials and issues that make us want to take over and try to run our own show. The world encourages it and everyone else seems to be doing that very thing.  In our effort to remain faithful, it looks futile and even those we love, wonder why we would not simply take matters into our own hand.  Like David, we must stay the course and trust that God will prepare us, protect us and provide for us–no matter what the world does.   If we will do that, God will show himself to be faithful and true.  We can never lose hope in God’s faithfulness. If we will only trust him, He will make our lives full and meaningful–just as he promised.
God Bless You

The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?”

So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David. Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there,he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.

Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.

David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?”

“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.

So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.

Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

I Samuel 24 Part 2– It’s not You, It’s Me

David did the only thing possible in his situation; step out in faith and speak the truth.  Saul had no real reason to hunt  David, David was loyal and great for the kingdom. Still, Saul had abandoned God and allowed his fear of losing everything to drive him crazy.  So there Saul stood, robe in view, knowing that if the tables were turned He would have killed God’s anointed in a minute.  At that moment Saul uncharacteristically admitted defeat and went home.
 
David made a great case for whom God would bless and curse–Saul simply grasped the obvious.  So on that day and at that time, Saul admitted David would be king and that his pursuit was entirely unwarranted. He also humbly asked the future king to spare his family once David ascended to the throne. If that was the end of the story, that would be an acceptable outcome–sadly, it was not the end of the story. For David and his men, for that day, it was the end of that chapter of the story–a day of reprieve. For Saul, it was a day of reckoning, where he had to come to terms with what he had become.
 
In our lives, things keep moving forward. There are times when God places us in a position to recognize where we are in our journey. We have days like the one David and Saul had at the cave. In those times we have to look hard and long at who we are and who we are serving.  If we are serving God–we cling to that and trust him to resolve our struggles and provide a reprieve. If we have abandoned him, then we face our lives, repent and start following the Lord again.  We must remain aware that even after such epiphanies, life still remains a struggle and trials, temptations and curveballs still pass our way. 
 
Like David we speak the truth, take the reprieve and enjoy the day. Then, we start a new day ready for battle and committed to following God closely.
 
God Bless You

Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today.20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Matthew 22 Part 1–The Wedding Banquet…

Jesus told the parable of the wedding banquet. A king prepared a lovely and amazing wedding for His son.  He invited all his chosen friends–but , they ignored the invite’ and some even abused the messengers.  So the King had his servant open the invitation and invite all. Many came and were welcomed; but, then there was one who entered without being properly prepared–he was summarily tossed out.

The principles in the story are quite clear–God sent Jesus to the earth to restore the relationship between God and His people.  His people, for the most part, ignored God’s great gift, and even persecuted the prophets and leaders that tried to announce the coming of the Messiah. God’s response was to open up salvation to the world, through Christ.  Many have since believed, and were reunited with the Lord. Still, some tried to be a part without being properly saved. They expected their own actions and religion would be enough to restore the relationship–God clearly and emphatically says NO! One can only have a relationship with God on His terms–not by ones own religious practices.

In our lives, we have been enthusiastically invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. He loves us, and asks that we confess with our mouths that he is LORD, and believe with our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead–then we will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10)  We are not to come to God wearing our religious practices and beliefs as a robe to cover our sin; but, we are only come to Him and accept the lovely gift the LORD has provided Christ, as our savior.  

God Bless You

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.

Matthew 19 Part 1–Marriage and Divorce

The Church has struggled to deal with broken lives in so many contexts. One of the most difficult is the break up of families. In a society that sees half of all marriages ending in divorce, the repercussions are devastating. It has grown so confusing, that the Supreme Court has even thrown up their hands, succumbed to political pressure and announced that marriage and family is pretty much what ever you want it to be.

God was not nearly so inclusive. He made marriage a union of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Men have failed that model throughout history. Polygamy, homosexuality extra marital relationships either before marriage, during or after marriage–were  never part of the plan God designed for family.  God allowed men to do as they would–not because he liked it, but, because people are stubborn and sinful.

So when the religious leaders were trying to trip Jesus up with questions on divorce, He was not amused.  He simply stated the facts–painful as they were.  Funny thing is, the facts are more painful today.

I am not here to judge. I am grateful for my marriage and my family. I believe in marriage as set out in the Bible. We have raised our children to know–at our house; that marriage is a covenant! Through good times, tough times and in the dark times when marriage takes all our emotional and spiritual energy to continue; we rest in the same hands that protect, prepare and provide for us in every other way, the Lord’s hands. The strength of a nation is, in major part, tied to the strength of its foundational principles–respect for life, liberty, family and authority. As a church, we must stand strong on these principles so that the next generation can embrace the commitment to life and family that will carry our way of life through trials, wars and tribulation.

Help us Lord, to trust You, and honor the principles for families You have set up for us!

God Bless You

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 14 Final–Walking on Water

Danny Gokey, country and Christian music artist recorded a song called I Believe, in it, he sang “I never met a man who walked on water, but I will still believe!” The miracle of walking on water was a high point of the faith discussion.  Jesus, mind you, had just finished feeding over 5000 folks with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He ministered to the crowd, and then sent them home. Jesus loaded the Disciples onto a boat, and sent them out onto the water; and promised to join them later.

Jesus, with a moment of privacy, went off to pray. The disciples were stranded  by  a storm and could not retrurn to get their master. All of the sudden they watched the master stroll out on the waves on foot to meet them.  They were freaking out–Jesus is walking on top of the water!??! First Jesus calms the disciples–Fear Not! Next Peter, his buddy, says I want to walk on water too! Jesus says, Sure! Hop out of the boat! Peer does it and does start walking on water. BUT, like most, he remembered, “People can’t walk on water!” he looked around, and saw the waves, and began to sink. Jesus grabbed him, they climbed back in the boat, and Jesus calmed the storm. Just another day with Jesus.

Here are a few Friday observations. 

1.  Jesus had established his authoriity of many aspects of life…healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons and cleansing lepers. But, after praying and recharging, he literally took authority over the very earth he created. He walked on water, calmed the storm, and helped peter to walk on water as well. Pretty much takes any doubt away that he is God. 

2. Jesus did take time to recharge and pray–even as the Son of God, He knew He could not do this stuff on His own. He needed the Spirit’s power and direction–to build what the Father sent Him to build.

3. Peter had amazing faith. Faith to ask to walk on water, to walk on water, and to cling to Jesus when he sank. Many question Peter’s faith because he sank, but, truth is He was the only one to trust Jesus enough to get out of the boat.

4. Despite his faith, when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the circumstances; his faith shrank and he sank into the water. Our lives often look just like that. We see God do great stuff in our lives, and then just as we are in sinc with Him; we allow life’s circumstances to overtake us, and we begin to sink. But, like Peter, we can rest assured–that even then, we can count on him to pull us up and bring us to safety. The we can watch as he calms the storms of life.

Walking on water is the miracle that can define Jesus Diety. He prayed, walked on water, saved Peter and calmed the storm–pretty impressive from any perspective. That kind of power, at least, should help us to join Peter in asking Jesus to let us join him in the Amazing Journey, Don’t You Think!!!!!

God Bless You

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.