Philippians 1 Part 3–To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain

As Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, He was in prison in Rome. He lived chained between two guards. The one-time world traveler now was awaiting his final fate from Rome. In the midst of the hopeless situation he faced, Paul was able to continue to preach the Gospel through his letters. What’s more, others were preaching the Gospel loudly and spreading the message even beyond where Paul had reached. But, at the end of the day, Paul knew that life on earth was not comparable to eternity in Heaven.   As he languished in prison;  beaten, broken and blind—Paul longed to be home with Lord.  Amazingly, it was that longing that drove Paul to preach the Gospel all day every day.
 
Paul, more than most, understood the deception of a rules-based religion. As a Jew of Jews, Paul learned from the best and performed religion as well as anyone. But, when he had his encounter with Christ, It changed Him. He realized he would never be worthy in his own power. He also learned that God’s grace was sufficient to meet his needs. From there, God brought him to a place that made him a true ambassador for God and showed him that Christ alone was all anyone needed to have a relationship with God.  Paul was driven to get that message out to everyone. So until God brought him home, Paul would spread that message to all who would listen and all who would read the letters he drafted.  Paul Had come to a place that valued Christ above all. So wherever he was Christ was the most important thing.
 
In our lives we have to come to a place where we also can say to live is Christ and to die is gain. Each of us faces trials of various types. In those trials, we can become distracted from what is important and what is not.  If we can move forward with a grateful heart and follow His leading, then no matter the circumstances we face our response can remain grateful and hopeful. Only with a grateful heart is this life bearable. Otherwise, we become like the Israelites in the desert;  complaining when God is in their presence literally dropping food from heaven each day.  Treasure the joys of our life here–but, know to live is Christ and to die is gain.
 
God Bless You

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

1 Samuel 25 Part 3–Vengeance is Mine

After Abagail repaired the relationship with David and his men, she went home and prepared to tell her husband what transpired. Sadly, he and his buddies were drunk and could not comprehend the gravity of what Nabal had done. So Abagail waited until the next morning after Nabal was sober.  Then she told him the whole story.  The reality of his stupidity hit him like a train. He had a heart attack and died 10 days later.  David was avenged, Abagail was free from her awful husband and David–who had his wife Michal taken away by the king–now made this superhero woman his wife.  It was a great day for the fugitive king and for Abagail.
 
Life is funny. Often things happen in the normal course of events that vindicate those that follow God.  It seems strange, but they are blessed without having to raise a finger in anger or protest.  The Lord has told us throughout his word that if we will trust in Him, follow Him and depend upon him–then He will avenge and He will repay.  He also promises to make our paths straight. He will always be our greatest advocate and most avid support.  In Romans, Paul tells us that whatever our trials are, they do not compare to the rewards that await us. Romans 8:18.  We, like David, can always cling to the ultimate truth that our Father loves us and will be our advocate, protector and if need be, our avenger! What an amazing thing to know!!!
 
God Bless You

Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

36 When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. 37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”

Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”

41 She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.43 David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives. 44 But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel[d] son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

I Samuel 25 Part 2–Abagail, A True Superhero

There are few stories more amazing than the story of Abagail. She was the wife of a selfish man. Nabal, while wealthy, was mean and short-sighted. He insulted David and his men after they had protected his workers and their sheep.  David was angry and was ready to wipe the man out. When Nabal’s wife heard what had happened–she dived in and literally saved the day.  She made provisions for David and his men’s efforts, she made an apology for her husband’s behavior and she made peace with the future King of Israel.  She was not directed to do so by her husband–in fact, she did all this despite him.

 

David was amazed and accepted the gift and apology. He forgave Nabal even though Nabal had not changed one bit. David was a gracious man and saw that despite Nabal’s idiocy, he had at least married a great woman that should not be punished because of him. She was a superhero.

 

In my life and many lives of men I know, we would be lost without the great wives God gave us.  They work tirelessly to make our houses homes. They raise our kids to be ladies and gentlemen and to have lives that matter and are great. They make sure we look and act our best and prepare meals, holidays, vacations and life events. The most amazing part is that they do this for little or no recognition. They perform a labor of love that truly leaves a legacy of greatness many generations after they are gone.  Thanks, Lord, for giving me and my children a superhero mom. 

 

God Bless You

 

 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs[b] of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. 21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. 22 May God deal with David,[c] be it ever so severely if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belongs to him!”

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

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.

I Samuel 22 part 1–David on the Run

With nothing in hand and nowhere to go, David headed into the land of Israel’s enemies. 1st David escaped to the King of Gath–(Goliath the Giant from Gath).  He hid out in Gath for a period, knowing Saul would not hunt him there.  Next, he headed to Moab–the place where Saul first made his name by wiping out several people.  David tried his best to go where he would not be attacked and where spies would not chase back to Saul and get him captured.  One can imagine the humbling experience that David faced standing before the leaders of lands he helped to defeat.
 
The good news was that as he was on the run, he was beginning to gather a group of men to command. It was a ragtag crew, but they would be what he needed as he faced the days ahead.  One can be sure as David started this phase of the journey, it looked nothing like what he would have ever hoped or dreamed.
 
In our journey, so many of the choices we make and directions we are pulled seem nothing like we expected in our youth.  It drives us crazy, it tests our faith and it slowly refines us into the people God calls us to be.  There is no easy way to become your best. It requires discipline, it requires training and it requires adversity, spiritual warfare and a long term (eternal) vision of life.  David would never have signed up for the anointing as king if he had known what God was going to take him through to be the greatest king Israel ever knew. He did, however, face each day, each trial and each disappointment fully relying upon God. Like David, we must look beyond what is and reach for what God has planned. We must remain grateful, humble and faithful no matter how difficult the journey becomes.  Help me, Lord to remain faithful in trials, grateful in blessings and humble in submission to Your lead!   
 
God Bless You

That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”…

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

I Samuel 19 Part 1–Saul Does Not Get It

Jonathan understood–David was God’s man and what David did for Saul and Israel was making the nation a leader again.  But, Saul saw that God was with David–Saul was afraid of losing his kingdom, He was afraid of God and he was afraid of David.  So, while David was doing everything Saul could hope for, Saul wanted David dead. David tried to remain loyal and faithful, but Saul continued to seek to have him killed.
 
The world is very similar.  The Lord gives everyone the opportunity to be saved from their sin and cared for by God.  It is a simple choice to submit to God’s lead or to try to do life independent of God. Those that choose to live independent of God–loath those that follow God’s lead.  Even in circumstances where the world benefits greatly from God’s people and their contributions, they would rather see Christians dead. They are forever plotting and planning on ways to wipe any influence of God and His people from the face of the planet.  
 
God’s chosen still follow Him and trust Him, and, while the world makes every effort to destroy us, we continue to watch the Lord guide and protect us from the world’s attempts to make us public enemy #1. It is often difficult and sometimes seems hopeless–but, like David, God always cares for His own. 
 
God Bless You

Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”

Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”

Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.”

So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.

Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him.

But an evil[a] spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

1Samuel 17 Part 3–I Come Against You with The Lord God Almighty

David never had any illusions about who he was.  As a shepherd, he faced lions and bears without fear. He was able to do that because of his faith and trust in God. Now as he left the presence of King Saul, He walked to the battle line to meet Goliath.  He left the premier armor, tunics, and weapons that Saul possessed–David knew that those things would neither save him nor would they carry the day. David marched forward with his shepherd’s staff, sling, and a bag of rocks.  Truth be told, he did not need the staff. 
 
David faced Goliath with the only weapon any Israelite warrior ever needed–faith in God Almighty. He had long before realized that it was God’s battle to win, not his. So as David charged and launched the stone from his sling–the young warrior knew the battle was over. Sure enough, Goliath went down in a pile and David drew the giant’s weapon from his belt and finished the battle–One dead giant and one mighty victory for Israel.
 
We will never be able to win the spiritual battles we face without God’s intervention. Each day, the war rages and the Lord calls us to simply trust and follow Him.  As we do, God provides everything we need to win the battle.  It becomes so obvious that it is His battle to fight and win, that we grow excited and expectant to face the attacks each day.  Still, in the midst of those battles, we have to remain focused upon the Lord and not on the giants facing us. When we do, we can rest easy knowing that God will carry the day.  It has always been, and still is, a step of faith in our God that is all-powerful, all-knowing and in all places and times at once.
 
Thank you, Lord, for being the author and perfecter of our faith.
 
God Bless You

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.