Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Gospel in the Words of an Ancient Woman

“We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” (2Sam 14:14 ESV)

These are the words of the woman who was sent by Joab to King David, when Absalom had been banished from the kingdom. They are strikingly prophetic, and have application to the human race. This morning, I just want to "squeeze" each phrase, and make some comments.

We must all die: In one way or another, this is true about all of us. Unless the Lord comes first, we will all die physically. But at one time we were all dead spiritually, because of our sin.

Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Those who do not repent of their sin, will die the second death and forever be separated from God, and the redeemed.

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev 20:14; 21:8 KJV)

we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.

This illustrates the impossibility of our being restored and saved through human means. We cannot possibly gather water up after it has been spilled on the ground. But thank God even though are restoration is impossible with men, with God nothing is impossible.

But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.”

It is not God that takes away life, it is sin! God has made a way for those who are banished to come back to Him and be restored. We do not have to be outcasts any longer, we can come back through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christs and what He accomplished on the Cross for us!

Eph. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Relationships--Vertical and Horizontal

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:15 ESV)“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”” (John 13:20 ESV)

What a startling thing it is to realize that in John 13:15, the Lord Jesus Christ is commanding His disciples to treat one another in the same way that He has treated them. They are to do for one another the same things that He has done for them!

One of the first thoughts that comes into my mind when I think about this is, "Yeah, but He is supernatural--He is God Himself. How can I be expected to do for others what He has done for me?" Then the Holy Spirit reminds me that His Spirit is in me, to do through me what I cannot do myself.

The immediate context of this command is the washing of the disciples feet. But it would be unwise to limit this command to that act alone, since that act served as a symbol of the love and care that His disciples are to have for one another.

What has the Lord Jesus Christ done for His disciples, that they should also do for one another?
  • He has loved them. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)
  • He has forgiven them and been kind to them “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph 4:32 KJV)
  • He has sacrificially supplied their needs according to His ability. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” (1John 3:16-19 KJV)
We could spend much time expanding on this thought, but time is getting away and there is one more thought that I want to point out in this post. Not only are we to treat one another the way He has treated us, but we must realize that how we treat one another is how we are treating HIM!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”” (John 13:20 ESV)

There is no way to separate our relationship with Christ, from our relationship with His disciples. May the Lord help us to apply these truths in our relationships with each other!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Illustration of How to Treat One's Enemies

“David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing.” (2Sam 2:5-6 ESV)

There are people in this world who don't like me. They speak ill of me. If they had the opportunity to do ill to me, they would. I would like to think that I am an enemy of no one. I don't want to speak ill of any one, and I can honestly say that in my heart I don't desire to do ill to anyone. There are some people that I would rather they just left me alone.

In this text from 2 Samuel, David illustrates for us how to treat our enemies. His greatest enemy at that time was none other than his king, King Saul. Saul had tried to kill him on a number of occasions, and even hunted him, and would have killed him if he could have caught him. David had two opportunities to kill him, but refused. He recognized Saul as the Lord's anointed, and therefore refused to do harm to him.

When David heard that Saul was killed, he mourned. He then blessed the people who had blessed and been loyal to Saul.

May we learn a lesson from this. May the Lord help us to be gracious and kind to our enemies, instead of vengeful and bitter. Isn't that what the greater Son of David commanded us to do?

“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.” (Luke 6:26-30 KJV)'

Dear Lord,
Forgive me for the bitterness in my heart towards others. Help me to forgive them, and treat them graciously no matter how they treat me. Thank you that when I was your enemy, you poured out your grace and forgiveness on me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

God is Sovereign on the "bad days"

“And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul,* each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” (1Sam 30:3-6 ESV)

Someone has said that there are some days that it is not worth getting out of bed. If David had such days, surely the ones described in 1 Samuel chapters 29-30 had to be some of them.

In his effort to escape Saul, David went into the land of the Philistines. It would appear that he actually was on friendly, and comfortable terms with them. So much so, that he was prepared to fight along side them against the nation of Israel! It would appear to me that David's willingness to fight with the Lord's enemies against the Lord's people was indicative of David's spiritual condition. He was not trusting the Lord, but in a backslidden condition. The fact that He left his family in a vulnerable position is also indicative of his not thinking clearly and correctly.

In such a state, God could have just allowed him to go the way he wanted to go, but the Lord had other plans. I am so glad that God doesn't just let us go! He works many times against our will to bring us back to where we need to be. In this case He used the distrust and the lords of the Philistines to thrust David back where he needed to be.

It was a good thing that David and his men came back to Ziklag when they did. The Amalakites had come and burned the city and took both David's and all of the families of the men with David hostage. Wow, you talk about hard times! They wept and his men were on the verge of stoning him! But David turned back to the Lord: "But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”

David's turning back to the Lord was a turning point in his situation! He received assurance from the Lord that he would recover all! He not only recovered his family, their belongs, and that of the men that were with him, but a bunch of spoil as well!

No wonder he wrote:“I was pushed hard,* so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORDdoes valiantly, the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORDdoes valiantly!” I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” (Psa 118:13-18 ESV)

"Father, thank you for working against our will, when we are living against yours. Thank you for bringing us to the place where we are trusting you, and then delivering us from our enemies. Help us to rest in your sovereignty even during the bad times. May we endure your discipline, and grow from it." In Jesus Name I Pray!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Taking Risks

1Sam. 14:6 ¶ Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.”

The words that really "stuck out" to me in this verse are, "It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.”

Jonathan could have been satisfied just to be under the oppression of the Philistines, but he stepped out in faith, and took action. In so doing he took a risk.

"It may be that the Lord will work for us." It could have also been that the Lord would not work for them. What he did could have been disastrous. When they discovered themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, they could have been killed immediately on the spot. If it had not been for the Lord's mercy, in delivering them, the would no doubt have been killed on the spot.

I have noticed that God seems to honor those who are willing to step out on faith and trust Him. He seems to delight in those who are willing to take risks in dependence upon Him. He seems to help those who put themselves in a position in which if He doesn't help them they will face disaster and failure.

How many of us find that we are unwilling to put ourselves in a position like Jonathon and His armor bearer did on that day? Are we willing to put ourselves in a position to where if God doesn't help us, we will fail, and maybe even face disaster and destruction.

May God help us to step out and take the kind of risks that honor Him, and give Him opportunity to display His glory.

Friday, May 9, 2008

It is never sufficient, but always enough!

“Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii* would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.” (John 6:5-13 ESV)

Though I have read this account many many times, yet this morning, I find fresh encouragement in it.

The Lord's requirement of His disciples was greater than what they could deliver with what they had on hand. They were facing an inadequacy! I have been thinking the last couple of days about my inadequacies. I don't have enough money, I don't have enough time, I don't have enough ability, I don't have enough discipline..... I have a little of all of the above, but not enough! This passage helps me to see that it is not what you have, or how much you have, but what you do with what you have that makes the difference.

They simply did what the Lord led them to do with what they had, and The LORD is the one who took what was not enough and made it sufficient. This is what it means to live by faith--doing what God says, with what He has given you and watch him take what is not enough and make it sufficient!

We must not allow our insufficiencies, our inadequacies to paralyze us and drive us into discouragement, and depression. Rather, we must look to the Lord for direction, and by faith step out to do what He is leading us to do, trusting him to take the inadequate and make it sufficient!

The Lord will never give us so many resources that we no longer have to trust in Him!

"Dear Lord, help me to be a good steward of my loaves and fishes, doing with them what you command me to do, trusting you to take what could never be sufficient in and of itself, and make it enough. Help me to realize that what you give is never sufficient, but with your power is always enough."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who needs a Pool, when You have the Creator?!

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”” (John 5:6-8 ESV)

Though God often chooses to use means to work out His plan for our lives, it is not always necessary. Evidently, God had used this pool, at the stirring of an angel many times to bring healing to the sick and afflicted. It was this means in which the paralyzed man was hoping. Little did he realize that the one who called the world's into existence was right there before his eyes, and could simply command his healing!

Let us be careful that we are not hoping in the means that God uses, rather than in God Himself! God may not be using the means that we are praying that He uses, but may chose to bring the real desire of our hearts another way. May we trust Him, and never become frustrated because He isn't doing things the way we expect Him to.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Our God, Our Refuge

Ruth 2:12 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.

Prov. 14:26 In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.

In the passages of Scripture above there is a phrase that has "stuck out" to me, and that is the phrase, "a refuge" Boaz said of Ruth that she had come to take refuge in the LORD. The writer of Proverbs declared that the children of the Lord will have a refuge.

The dictionary defines refuge as:
a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble;something providing such shelter.

The concept of trust is implicit in the phrase, "take refuge" One comes to trust in whatever they are taking refuge. The character of humility is also implicit, because one realizes that they are no match for whatever the danger is. And of course it is obvious, that there is some kind of danger from which we need to be sheltered or protected.

Over and over again, we find the scriptures referring to God as our refuge:

Deut. 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
2Sam. 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
Psa. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psa. 46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Psa. 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Psa. 48:3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.
Psa. 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
Psa. 62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Psa. 62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Psa. 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Psa. 94:22 But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

Ruth illustrates some characteristics of those that have made God their refuge:
  • She worshiped her redeemer. "Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him..." (Ruth 2:10a)
  • She exhibited humility and amazement at the grace of her redeemer, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10b)
  • She exhibited love for others who had taken refuge in the LORD. “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me,"
  • She was willing to forsake the natural refuges in her life. "and how you left your father and mother and your native land"

God is the only suitable refuge in which we must trust. All other refuges are fleeting, and idols.

Oh Lord, Thank you for being my refuge. Help me to consciously rest beneath your wings this day in everything that I do.