Archive for October, 2010

Spiritual Thirst and Vulnerability

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah, and I have taken the city’s water supply. Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called after my name.” 2 Sam. 12:27-28

Two thoughts are inspired by 2 Sam. 12:27,28.

(1). If a city’s future is endangered by the loss of its water supply—note the water  supply was the first thing taken by Joab when attacking the people of Ammon, isn’t our spiritual future endangered if we lose our daily supply of the water of life by way of neglect or compromise?

(2). Notice next that Joab rightly recognized that the loss of water made the townsmen particularly vulnerable to any invading army. As a result, he urged David to quickly come and take the city lest he—Joab—take the city and receive the honor as the conqueror! We live among people who are thirsting for the water of life. They are particularly vulnerable to the next scheme of Satan. We also need to make it a matter of urgent priority to reach them before he does.

It goes without say, these verses speak to our need to spend time with Jesus. Did you schedule time with Him this morning? Did you take time to read at least a verse and kneel by your bed and send up a prayer before retiring? Were you at least praying for the people you come in contact with? Maybe God has someone He needs you to speak with.

Read more about David on Dan’s page of writings.

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Sin is No Respecter of Persons

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

“Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.” 2 Sam. 11:25

The Bible often presents lessons by pairing up stories, or pairing up people. 2 Sam. 9 and 10 speak of kindness received and kindness rejected. 2 Sam. 11 reminds of Jesus’ warning to watch and pray, and shares the sad story of David succumbing to temptation in a careless moment, and successfully covering up his sin at the expense of Uriah, a wonderfully loyal soldier and husband.

1 Sam. 11 opens with Israel at war. Directing the battle were David’s commanders; within the army were disciplined and loyal soldiers. David surprisingly chose to remain at home.

David, who survived the attacks of Saul, endured the rigors of the wilderness, overcame shortcomings so far as associating with the enemy went, and was so wonderfully generous to Mephibosheth, suddenly took a spiritual tumble of epic proportions: he committed adultery with Bathsheba and got her pregnant; then  worked to cover up the unbecoming event, eventually resorting to having Uriah killed in battle. He even later took Bathsheba as his wife and thought no one would know.

I don’t think David planned any of the things that took place, they just happened. I don’t think we necessarily plan the mischief we get into; it just happens. For David there was first the unguarded moment, then the furtive lingering glance, then the foolish inquiry, then open seeking, then sinning. Various desperate attempts to cover up the deed followed, culminating in the successful bloody coverup!

Unfortunately for David, Uriah was so faithful and so committed to the urgent demands of the battle going on, that he refused to tarry with his wife, preferring to sleep at the door of David’s house. So David finally had Uriah placed in a vulnerable position in the battle, where David knew he would be killed; soldiers died in combat all the time, no one would know otherwise—at least that is what he thought.

Thus when a messenger reported the battle’s outcome and the death of Uriah to David, David’s self-absorbed response was: “Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.”

Of course it was David who was not displeased, and he was right: the sword kills indiscriminately. But he forgot that sin is also no respecter of persons, and indiscriminately devours and brings down a person—even a strong person—as easily as another.”

Here are some things that strike me.

(1) Only some of our enemies appear in human form (Eph. 6:12). David may have mistakenly thought that with Saul dead and the Philistines quickly submitting to his armies, he was going to be free of enemies, and accordingly gave himself permission to let his guard down and stay in Jerusalem. Sadly he failed to realize that his GREATEST enemy was unseen, and was busily working to bring him down. That unseen GREATEST enemy is working against us too.

(2) Satan has many ways of getting us to tumble spiritually (1 Peter 5:8). What he cannot accomplish by way of difficulty, he will seek to accomplish in other subtle ways that we don’t anticipate. It isn’t a matter of whether he will try to bring us down, it is only a matter of when and how he will try. David was undoubtedly not anticipating such a temptation when he was wandering on the rooftop.

(3) We must always be on our watch (Matt. 26:41).  Great Christians uniformly had quality time with Jesus EVERY day. Every day they sought to serve God wherever they found themselves; every day they sought the Holy Spirit’s protection against Satan’s wiles. We must do the same.

(4) Strong men and woman are no match for temptation in unguarded moments, if they are not watching and praying (Prov. 7:26)—which begins with the unguarded look or the unguarded thought (James 1:15). This is frighteningly true. We overtly see this in Samson and David, but it also played a role with Solomon the wisest man who ever lived.

(5) We are just as vulnerable in good times as in bad times, perhaps even more vulnerable in good times since we tend to let our guard down (Luke 17:27-29). The latter may not seem to make sense, but I believe it to be true.

(6) We need more prayer, in some ways, when things are going well, than when they are going badly, and some of those prayers need to be “defensive” in nature (Matt. 6:13). When things are going badly, we are highly motivated to pray and ask our friends to pray for us. But when things are going well, we go along on our merry way, little realizing that Satan is quietly conjuring up “designer” temptations that are perfectly suited to our vulnerabilities.

(7) We tend to flippantly respond to spiritual and moral failures and minimize their impact when we are involved (Jer. 5:22), when we would be highly critical of someone else.

(8) There are preferred ways of dealing with our problems. David shows us a bad way; we should choose better ways, which ALWAYS begin with returning to the Lord (Isa. 55:7).

(9) Bad things happen to good people (Job 2:3-6; Heb. 12:1). Even though Uriah was a Canaanite, he was a godly man from what we can tell. Though he probably never understood what went on, God apparently saw that Uriah could witness more through death than through a normal life. There are things we won’t understand until we get to heaven. In the meantime we need to be faithful and obedient, trusting God no matter what is going on.

David’s careless attitude was manifested in his flippant, “Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.” I think we are wired from Adam to take a similar attitude to our challenges, and the only thing to combat such an attitude, to say nothing of preserving us from similar foolishness, is a constant connection with God that is only possible as we are reading and praying.

So, how is it going with your daily time? I hope you are lingering and savoring your time with Him every day, if not several times every day.

Father, if Satan was clever enough to bring mighty David down, he is certainly clever enough to bring us down. You warned us about the need to “watch and pray,” and taught us to say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Help us to take Your admonitions seriously, and not only pray, but also live those words. Keep my friend in this regard. Put an angel guard around and around all those who are near and dear. Drive Satan far away. Make my friend’s life one of great joy and blessing, for Jesus’ sake, for my friend’s sake, for the associated family’s sake, and for those who, in observing Your radiant joy, will want to know You as well. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you, Dan

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!

So the Lord Preserved David

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

“So the Lord preserved David wherever he went.” (2 Sam. 8:6)

As a person reads through 2 Samuel there is a distinct progression that is almost always present in serious spiritual growth.

Faithfulness in daily life: David first learned to be faithful as he served his Heavenly Father in serving his human father as a shepherd. He also learned that God was faithful to him.

Call and anointing for greater work: Then He was called to an important future work and anointed for that work—though he didn’t realize what he would go through in being prepared for that future.

Enduring necessary “wilderness” learning experiences: Then the Spirit took David into his own wilderness experience as he endured the ongoing attacks of Saul. There he learned to trust God and do the right thing even though there were constant suggestions to get rid of Saul by his companions.

Early, more self-centered victories: Then Saul died and through a variety of experiences David was made King. He even won some important victories, but they were mainly self-centered defensive victories to survive and consolidate his power.

Obeying in the slightest details: In gratitude David zealously tried to bring the ark home, but his zeal was not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2), and Uzzah died, and the ark ended up at Obed-Edom’s house. David had forgotten that what was genuine respect from the Philistines, was rebellion when he knew better—or at least could and should have known better. The ark finally made it home, though his wife Michal was not living up to the light she should have had, and begrudged him and ended up bringing a curse upon herself (2 Sam. 6:23).

Submitting cherished plans: David was grateful to God, and wanted to show his gratitude by building a house for God. God had never asked for a house, and I think appreciated what David wanted to do, but in spite of Nathan the prophet giving a quick, non-prayed over “go for it” response, David soon learned that it wasn’t God’s plan for him to build that house, no matter how sincere his motives were. Though 2 Samuel doesn’t explain why David’s magnanimous desire was refused, 2 Chronicles (22:8-10) states the prohibition came due to David being a man of war. Men of war are not the people who build great houses for God—not then, not now! Rather, his son Solomon, a man of peace, a man who was a living demonstration of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and who at least for a time wanted God’s wisdom more than anything else, was given the task. Still today, great spiritual advances are achieved through godly peacemakers, who announce and encourage peace with God and encourage peace between humans.

Grateful submissive obedience: Instead of becoming angry and building the house for God in spite of instructions otherwise, David humbly submitted and happily obeyed the ongoing leading of God.

Zealous victories according to knowledge:
Notice the phrases taken from 2 Sam. 8:1-14:
“David attacked the Philistines and subdued them.”
“Then he defeated Moab.”
“The Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.”
“He defeated Hadadezer… and recovered territory….”
“He put garrisons in Demascus….”
“So the Lord preserved David wherever he went.”
“David took the shields of gold….”
“…took a large amount of bronze.”
“Toi King of Hamath…sent Joram his son to David… brought with him articles of silver, articles of gold, ….”
“David dedicated these to the Lord.”
“David made himself a name….”
“All the Edomites became David’s servants…”
“And the Lord was with David wherever he went.”

David was doing an amazing and wonderful work for God. Why? Because God was with him wherever he went! And why could God be with him wherever he went? Because he was God’s man, doing God’s work, God’s way, on the throne God had placed him on!

If you want to know the same level of blessing in your life, be faithful, accept the wilderness experiences—apparently God sees they are necessary, be zealous according to knowledge, seek to know and do God’s will, submit, and obey. Then rejoice and prepare for God to use you in a great way!

So, are you reading? Are you zealous according to knowledge? Are you trusting God in spite of attacks during wilderness experiences? Are you submitting even if fond plans are being deferred—perhaps even being given to someone else? We are all on a journey. If we trust and obey (Matt. 4:4) we shall see the unmistakable evidences of God’s blessings in our lives.

Father, give my friend a heart to know and love you today. Carefully orchestrate all the circumstances and events in his or her life, such that he or she will be perfectly prepared for whatever work you have in mind. Might there be a willingness to ask, to submit, and to obey, so that you can be present, and bless, in all that is going on. And might every blessing accruing be seen as coming from you, such that all might be dedicated to you. I ask this for Jesus’ sake, and for those you are wanting to reach through my friend today. Thank you in advance, Amen.

Learn more about how to grow spiritually at path2prayer.com. Read how God raised up godly men and women on the famous Christians page.

Proximity and Activity PLUS Obedience!

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

“And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.” 2 Sam. 6:11

All Israel had rejoiced when the ark had been returned by the Philistines on a new cart, pulled by oxen who had been mysteriously directed by an unseen hand, with golden gifts to show respect. The submission and showing of respect by the Philistines was a great triumph for God.

David also wanted to show respect, and arranged for the ark to be transported on a new cart, accompanied by the two sons of Abinadab who were priests, and even recruited 30,000 “choice” men to sing and celebrate.

Unfortunately the oxen stumbled, one of the men, Uzzah, tried to steady the ark with his hand, and was immediately struck down.

David reacted with fear and consternation, and left the ark with Obed-Edom, the Gittite.

Obed-Edom didn’t know what to expect and probably viewed the coming of the Ark with fear and trepidation. But it turned out to be a blessing: “The Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.

It isn’t easy serving God in this day and age. Busy schedules, trials dished out by the devil, limited time, distractions, relationships, financial hardships, even facebook and the internet, etc., combine to make it hard to have quality time with God. But God will bless us for doing so.

In writing I am reminded of a time when George Muller was visiting a  man who was so poor and busy that he did not have time for personal devotions. Muller chided the man and told him that if he took time with God, he would have more time. And so it was.

So do you regularly spend time with Jesus?

But there is a sobering reminder in the story: not only do we need to spend time with God, but we need to also follow what we read. Uzzah had not prepared for taking the ark, nor had he pointed out that the ark was being transported the wrong way—neither for that matter had the 30,000 choice men. So when the Oxen stumbled and Uzzah tried to steady it, he was struck down—proximity and activity with the things of God are good, but not good enough if they are not combined with obedience to the Word of God.

Quoting Muller,

If God does bless us in reading His word, He expects that we should be obedient children, and that we should accept the Word as His will, and carry it into practice. If this be neglected, you will find that the reading of the Word, even if accompanied by prayer, meditation, and faith, will do you little good. God does expect us to be obedient children, and will have us practice what He has taught us. The Lord Jesus Christ says If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” And in the measure in which we carry out what our Lord Jesus taught, so in measure are we happy children. And in such measure only can we honestly look for help from the Father, even as we seek to carry out His will.

Read more of what Muller said on a page at path2prayer.com

Loyalty

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

2 Sam. 3:38 “Do you not know that a great man has fallen this day in Israel.”

When one thinks about David’s relationship to Saul, one word comes to mind: loyalty Though David had his faults, loyalty wasn’t one of them. He was  completely loyal to Saul even though Saul was continually trying to cause trouble and take his life.

To his followers, David’s loyalty probably seemed misguided at times. More than once they offered to take Saul’s life, but David deferred. Saul was God’s anointed, and David defended Saul at every turn even though Saul was unworthy of that loyalty.

After Saul died, the champion that rose up to defend Saul’s name and honor was Abner. Though he may been misguided at times, yet David recognized in Abner a loyal subject of Saul. As a result, when Abner died, though he had raised up a competing monarch and caused other mischief, David still recognized him as a “great man.”

I wonder, if I was being hounded and my life was in constant danger like David’s, would I be as loyal to the one causing the trouble, even if he were the anointed one in my life? Would I respect others who were also loyally serving that anointed one?

Is this loyalty a matter of obedience or a matter of dying to self? I suspect it is more the latter.

Father, I have great difficulty being loyal. I tend to have negative thoughts about other people before I have positive ones. There are times when I am critical. Sometimes the very fact that they are in anointed roles means I dislike them. Sometimes I also think too highly of myself. Sadly, I forget that you are in charge and working on many fronts, and that though people may seem flawed, yet you have placed them in various roles and are depending on them. This is really hard for me Father. Please help me to think and act in relationship to other people in a way that will honor you at ALL times. Give me wisdom with this as well. Maybe the one reading this also struggles with the same thing. Please do a mind and heart transplant for both of us, so that relationships will not hinder the great work you are wanting to do in us and through us. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have a blessed day!

Dan

Tarrying With Jesus

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Luke 24:25 “But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.”

To the disciples walking to Emmaus, Jesus was only a stranger initially, and an uninformed one as well. As they put it to him: “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” Then they shared the dispiriting events of the weekend and expressed their disappointment that Jesus had not been the one hoped for either.

Jesus responded by opening the scriptures about Himself to them, starting with Moses. Needless to say it was probably one of the most complete Bible studies ever given on the topic, and made for an interesting journey

Concerned for his wellbeing, they invited him home. It was only when they were sharing supper that it suddenly dawned upon them that the stranger was their beloved Master!

Two things strike me: (1) Apparently it is possible to hear from God directly without it affecting our hearts. (2) Apparently God will only share some information with us, if we especially invite him to tarry with us—if we take more personal time with Him! I am guessing that some days our busy schedules seem to preclude such tarrying. It goes without saying that we are poorer for our hurry.

So, did you spend time reading your Bible and praying this morning? Did you also tarry to hear from him and enjoy that intimacy where He was able to share Himself with you? I know you want that and so do I. As we take time day after day, we will increasingly have the kind of “supper” moments described above.

Father in heaven, I could stand to have you give me a few Bible studies. I would love to better understand what is going on in the world right now, as well as how to live for you in such a way that all will want to love and honor You. But I want you to touch more than just my mind, but my heart and everything else too. Please do the same for the one reading this. You know what the day holds for him or her. You know the challenges that need to be prepared for. You know the things Satan has been doing to discourage. We come to you together this morning, asking that you would be the GREAT priority in life. Please send angels and help in whatever ways are needed, that every demand of truth and of duty might be met. Please do this for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Have a super day!

Hanging Out With the Enemy

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Isa. 35:3,4 “Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

1 Sam. 29 finds David hanging out with the enemy Philistines, and marching to battle against the army of his own Jewish people. Immediately ahead of David was Achish, the pagan king who had taken David into his trust, and was believing that David had become his loyal subject. The Philistines were not as convinced of David’s loyalty, and insisted he return home. David loudly protested his dismissal, but I think he was also breathing a sigh of relief.

We’ve all had moments when we were hanging out with the enemy, and marching to his drumbeat more than God’s! Sometimes our plans haven’t worked out, regardless of how we justified our actions, and we’ve found ourselves mercifully dismissed. Deep down we have also been sighing in relief.

That’s where I was going to initially stop reading. Then I ventured to the first verses of 1 Sam 30 where I read of another enemy—the Amelakites—swooping in while David was away with Achish and not keeping a watch on his own family. Taking advantage of his absence, the marauders took David’s wives and children, those of his men, all of their possessions, and also burned their city. Nothing was left.

A lesser man might have thrown in the towel at that point. As it were, David and his men wept, and for good reason. It appeared they had lost everything near and dear, and there was no reason to believe anything would change—they were weeping the consequences of their behavior. I wonder if they were also weeping for their foolish absence when they were marching with the enemy—weeping for their personal responsibility in what had happened? I wonder, do we grieve more for the consequences of our waywardness, than our responsibility for that waywardness?

David more than mourned, however, the Bible says “He encouraged himself in the Lord” (1 Sam. 30:6) In spite of his personal chaos, he recognized that God had once again intervened in rescuing him, perhaps so that he could go and rescue his own family.

Have miseries come into your family due to distracting forays with the enemy? Are you too friendly with those who are opposed to God? Please don’t take my questions the wrong way, but it is possible, and important to consider. As a single parent with a less than ideal relationship with my kids, I confess it is a question I ask myself at times. I can point to many “reasons” for what is going on, but I know there is more below the surface and I seek to know God’s opinion on the question, regardless of how unsettling His response may be.

Fortunately there is hope! Like David we need to encourage ourselves in the Lord. Your life may be going to custard right now. Things may seem entirely out of control? But God is still working behind the scenes and He is working ALL things for your good (Rom. 8:28).

As we continue further through the story, we find David asking God very specific questions as to what he should do. He was having personal time with God and His Word. Fortunately he trusted God and obeyed in pursuing the captors.

So the question comes, are you spending time in God’s Word? Are you asking Him the hard questions? Are you asking in order to obey? Your families will thank you if you do.

In David’s case, the story concludes by telling how David attacked the marauders and how not even one of them survived the battle. The enemy was history. Praise God, enemies can become history when we are working according to God’s plan.

It also says David “recovered all that the Amelakites had carried away, and David recovered his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them. David recovered all!” (1 Sam. 30:18,19). Another huge praise God!

Let me say one more thing. Looking back I am convinced that the only safe way to go through life is to go forward in the center of ALL of God’s will. Jesus said under similar distressing conditions, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Living by less than “every” word was the great temptation then; it is still the great temptation in our day.

Father, again I come from Your word in awe that you don’t give up on wayward children. If you didn’t lose hope for David and walk away from his circumstances, than there is surely hope for those reading this and for me. Help us to take a hard look at our lives, to assess in what ways, and to what degree, we may be walking with the enemy. Help us to be sincere and open to your answer. Help us then to take decided steps back to you, and help us to do so today. Thank you that the same victory over the enemy won in David’s day can be won in our day. Thank you that the losses can be recovered somehow as well. I ask this in Jesus’ name, with much gratitude in advance, Amen.

Dan

He Made Everything A Matter of Prayer

Monday, October 4th, 2010

I send out a short note to encourage accountability and prayer and Bible study almost every day. I am going to try and send it to my blog as well so that others can also read it who are not on the direct mailing list. Please write if you want to be on the list directly.

Good morning!

I confess to being distracted by a biography of Louis Harms this weekend. I’ve been reading right along, but Harms accomplished amazing things, and thus I have found it hard to take the time to write the daily note. Please forgive me.

Like Muller, Harms made everything a matter of prayer. He was absolutely convinced that God would come through, and God never disappointed him. He was the pastor in a poor district in Northern Germany. His members were farmers and tradesman. Spirituality had at one time been of such a low ebb in his church that his members had been caught passing a bottle of alcohol from member to member during the preaching. So he prayed. God answered by bringing an awakening that lasted 17 years. He also began organizing his church to do mission service since he was convinced that mission service would maintain the spiritual health of his members. First he bought a farm on ten acres to use as a training institute since he knew he would have to prepare his members to go out as missionaries. Later he had a ship built since God directed him that way–the educated people around thought he was crazy, and reminded of his lack of funds. Eventually he began sending out trained self-reliant missionaries–first to Africa, and later to other continents. He also began a ministry for ex-convicts and began a missionary publication that soon had 13,000 subscribers. Not bad for seven years of effort.

When needing wisdom he prayed. When lacking funds he prayed. God responded every time. Like Muller, Harms didn’t let others know what was needed since he was opposed to beggars of any kind. He also accepted God’s providential leadings in his life, which often included pain since he developed rheumatism early in life. In this regard, he commented: “It is true that I suffer much everyday,” he said, “and more every night. I do not wish it otherwise. My Savior is my physician. I love to lie awake the entire night, because I can then commune with Him.”

From what I have read of Harms, I am pretty certain he would have said that daily Bible study and prayer were the key to God’s blessing in his life. So how are you doing? Did you spend time reading the Bible today? Praying? Is God responding? Are you obeying God’s promptings? I hope so.

Father in heaven, if you were able to do such a work in and through Louis Harms, can’t you do the same in and through me? Can’t you do the same in my friend? I am convinced you can. Please bless my friend this day. Prompt Bible study, prayers and communing with Yourself. Then prompt directions. Help my friend to respond in obeying. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

You can find more about him at the Louis Harms page at path2prayer.com.

I will shortly have audio and other resources from my most recent trip to the South Pacific. I believe the series presented were greatly blessed of the Holy Spirit.

God bless you today!