Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

Kindness Spurned

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

“It happened … that the king of the people of Ammon died…. Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.” 2 Sam. 10:1,2

Last time we saw how David extended kindness to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son who had two lame feet, based on David’s generosity, and not  on the basis of any merit of Mephibosheth.  As a result, Mephibosheth reacquired lands, servants, moved to Jerusalem and ate daily at David’s table.

In the next chapter we find Nahash the king of Ammon dying and David desiring to extend kindness to his son Hanun. But where Mephibosheth gratefully accepted David’s kindness, Hanun spurned it.

I use the word “spurn” because Hanun not only rejected David’s offer, but did so in an insulting and disrespectful, way.

The outcome wasn’t pleasant. The people of Ammon—the Ammonites, quickly realized David was taking the insult personally, wasn’t happy, and sending troops. In response they hired a Syrian army to defend them. Soon, what had started as an effort to show kindness became mortal combat. Lives were lost. Where there could and should have been a positive relationship, everything soured.

What happened?

Unfortunately for Hanun, some of the Princes of his country questioned David’s motives and whispered lies in Hanun’s ears. As a result, instead of welcoming David’s messengers, Hanun shaved off half their beards, cut off their garments in the middle of their buttocks, and sent them away in this most shameful way.

As a result of rejecting David’s generous offer, and adding insult to injury, where there should have been a time of enjoying David’s kindness, Hanun and his people bore the brunt of David’s anger.

We have to wonder what motivated the people who insinuated that David had sinister motives? Lack of power if Hanun and David got along too well? Loss of influence?

As I read this I was reminded of Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

In Hosea’s day, the people had prophets and much knowledge.   But individuals claiming to be prophets had misled them, and therefore they came to have “no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in the land,” Hosea later warned “You shall stumble in the day; the prophet also shall stumble with you in the night.”

Today, God is extending his kindness to you. Will you accept it? The danger is that someone will come along and whisper negative things in your ear like they did to Hanun, and you will reject what was offered in kindness. And the results may be just as negative!

Among other things His kindness includes His daily presence, His Word, the ongoing help of the Holy Spirit, His messengers, His way of doing things, his way of living, his way of relating to others, and of course most of all His gift of salvation—as Jesus put it, “living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

In too many cases God’s generous offer of kindness is being rejected. Of course that includes His offer of salvation. But another more subtle rejection prevents God from doing a great work in and through His children: the almost universal rejection of His Word, or at least portions—sometimes it seems like much—of what is in His Word. I find it hard to believe but it is true. In many cases, the things recorded in the Old Testament are supposedly only binding on the people who lived at that time. The prophetic books are either past history, or only speak of events coming in the future. We are left with little that applies in our day—and even that is being watered down.

Wouldn’t you agree that God wasted a lot of time and effort to protect the Bible if only a tiny portion of it applies to our day?

Speaking for myself, I take the whole Bible. That way I don’t have to do any spiritual gymnastics to explain what it means and to whom it applies.

In terms of my personal experience, speaking of prayer and obtaining answers to prayer, it was only when I took EVERYTHING the Bible taught on the subject seriously, that I finally began getting answers.

Notice what Hosea goes on to say: “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Could this lack of knowledge explain the declining conditions in society in our day? Could it explain the deplorable state of our families?

So how is it with you? Today God is wanting to show you kindness. You can either accept it, like Mephibosheth, or spurn his offer like Hanun. God wants to show you kindness in giving you the gift of eternal life in His future Kingdom; he also wants to show you kindness in experiencing a transformed life now. Both of those offers come by way of His Word: the Living Word AND the Written Word—regarding the latter, starting in Genesis, which speaks of how the world began, and continues all the way through to Revelation, which explains how human history will close and God’s eternal kingdom will begin.

I hope you will trust God’s motives, accept His gracious and generous offer, continue to move ever closer to Him, and enjoy the rich food that comes when one discovers that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

So did you spend time with God today? Did that time translate into your talking about God with someone else? I hope so!

Father, bless my friend today. Might my friend accept your offer of kindness. Might he or she trust you enough to say “yes” even if everything isn’t necessarily fully understood. Show that You can be trusted. You know the burdens that are being carried today. Take over those burdens, bringing clear and decided direction and help. I ask all of this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Kindness Accepted

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

“Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Sam. 9:1

After subduing the land and putting into place his administration (2 Sam. 8:15-18), among the first things David did, was to seek someone of the family of Saul to show kindness to, in memory of Jonathan.

There was a candidate: Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth happened to be a son of Jonathan but he was lame in both feet—he had been dropped when family members had hastily fled the palace upon hearing that Saul and Jonathan had died (2 Sam. 4:4).

In showing kindness, David responded out of the generosity of his own heart, not on the basis of Mephibosheth’s merit!.

David restored to Mephibosheth the lands and servants that formerly belonged to Saul. He also invited him to eat at his table—which necessitated Mephibosheth living in Jerusalem with David.

Mephibosheth responded in amazement: “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” He had good reason to be amazed. He was from Saul’s family—didn’t David have reason to hate any family member of Saul? He had no property to offer—at least when David first called for him. And he had two lame feet—he could do nothing productive to act out his appreciation. To all appearances and in his own mind, he was nothing better than a dead dog!

I often hear from visitors to path2prayer.com and readers of the newsletter who lament their inability to serve God as they wish. They are only too aware that earthly blood flows through their veins and characters, and as hard as they try change, they find themselves doing what they don’t want to do, and not doing what they want to do (Rom. 7:19). They mourn their “lame feet” so far as changing anything goes, and see nothing worthy to approve themselves to God.

Fortunately for Mephibosheth, David’s offer was based on his generosity as I said, not Mephibosheth’s merit. All Mephibosheth could do was gratefully accept David’s offer, live in Jerusalem, and enjoy the food from David’s table.

In writing this I am reminded of Eph. 2:5-7 “Even when we were dead (slain) by our own shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; (He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for) it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved….” Amplified Version

Today, like Mephibosheth and other unworthies since—individuals like Manasseh come to mind (2 Chron. 33:10-13), we need to gratefully accept God’s generous offer, live in His presence, and daily eat from His table.

We also need to stop thinking of about our “lame feet” and all the things that have contributed to them being lame. Mephibosheth had not chosen to be dropped, but he was; we didn’t choose to be born in Adam, but we were. He could not change his circumstances of himself; neither can we. He could never adequately show his gratitude, neither can we. But he accepted the offer and made the necessary changes to receive the blessings of that offer, and so should we!

His part was to move to Jerusalem, then remain in Jerusalem and enjoy the food offered at David’s table. Which of course raises the question: Did you linger in the King’s presence and eat from his table this morning?

Finally, the next chapter tells about David wanting to show kindness to the son of the King of Ammon who had just passed away. Instead of responding positively, this boy questioned David’s motives, rejected his offer, and realized a very different outcome. More about that next time.

Father thank you that Your love and attention is not based on our good behavior or our bad behavior, but on what Jesus did for us on the cross. Thank You that out of Your love to Jesus, You want to show us kindness today. Help us to accept Your kindness, move into a closer relationship with You, and help us to enjoy the food from Your table. We need Your help with our families, some of which are not accepting Your generous offer of new life. We need Your help with our jobs, because though we may be spiritually living in Your kingdom now, we are still physically living in Satan’s earthly kingdom. Some of us need Your help with our physical health. Others need Your financial help. Whatever the case may be, thank You that Your offer to us is based on Your generosity and not on our merit, though we have to take advantage of Your offer. So bless the one reading this today, and might the time spent in Your presence and eating from Your table be sweet; and might Your presence be with him or her in all that goes on. Might Your blessings be known continually even if there are frequent reminders, so to speak, of “lame feet.” I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have a blessed day!