Archive for November, 2005

6 So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the LORD lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until now, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. 7 Turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”

8 “But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

9 Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’ 10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.” – 1 Samuel 29:6-10

We often think of God’s protection in terms of the bad things that happen to others, but don’t happen to us. We also need to think of God’s protection as it relates to those things we think we should do, but God still stops us from doing. By earthly standards, David should have been fighting with the Philistines. They had allowed him to live in their land which essentially protected him from Saul. David did the right thing by agreeing to go to war. However, God
knew that it would be hard for David to soon be King over a people he had just helped defeat in battle. God knew that the people would not trust him. God also knew that David was going to have to defeat the Philistine in war and once again be their enemy. God protected David from doing what seemed right, but was not.

The question is, “How often does this happen in your own life.” I know there have been things I wanted to do and even things I thought I was suppose to do, but they did not work out. Now I am able to look back at the great “opportunity” and just be glad that God protected me from making a mistake. Fortunately, God is still protecting me each day from making more and
greater mistakes.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Sometimes, I have a hard time seeing or understanding what you are doing in my life. I want things to go one way, but you have something better in mind. Help me to be patient and wait on you. Help me to see missed opportunities and times of protection. I love you Lord. Amen.

22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David; you will do great things and surely triumph.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home. – 1 Samuel 26:22-25

Verse 23 says, “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.” These are words we can take to heart to give us encouragement to continue in our pursuit of God and his ways. Considering they were said by David when his life was being sought by the King of Israel, they should give us even greater encouragement. If you think about it, what was David’s reward to this point? He had formerly been a favored one of Saul’s. Now he was an outlaw and an outcast. He had to literally move out of Israel and join up with its long time enemy, the Philistines. He was the leader of a ragtag band of rebels, many of whom had pasts that would not engender trust. Yet, David knew God and he knew he would be rewarded for his righteousness and faithfulness. We should be the same.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You have promised to be with us, guide us and use us. You have promised to love us, provide grace and mercy to us. Thank you. Often times, I question this love, this grace and this mercy, yet you continue to give it anyway. Thank you. Help me to serve you with what my heart knows first and with what my eyes see second. I love you Lord. Amen.

5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. – 1 Samuel 24:5-7

For some reason God keeps talking to me about those he has chosen for leadership and how we are to treat them with respect. What keeps on striking me more and more is that these leaders can even be rejected by God, but we are still to show them respect until they are removed from power. This raises questions in my mind such as what constitutes respectful dissent? How are we to honor those we disagree with? How are we to serve our leaders, yet remain true to ourselves and God?

David continued to respect Saul as long as Saul was King. David definitely did not follow Saul and respect his bad decisions, but he still respected him as his King. I wonder if the answer lies in how we dissent. For instance, dissent in our country is most often filled with lies and half-truths about the person in leadership. Might God be telling us to dissent with integrity? Might God be saying our dissent should be above reproach just as our support should be above reproach?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me to respect those you have put in leadership whether it be our President, my direct supervisor or another. Help me to dissent with integrity and show proper support where appropriate. Most, Lord help me to serve you. I love you Lord. Amen.

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’ ” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. – 1 Samuel 20:42

With thanksgiving just past, I have been thinking a lot about those things for which I am thankful. I find that I am more and more thankful everyday for those friendships God has placed in my life. Some of these friendships are people I have not met in person and my never meet. They are people I have met through the blogosphere. Others are friends that God has placed in my life to be in close proximity. It really does not matter if a friend is right next door or thousands of miles away. What does matter is that they are there for you when you need them. I am blessed to have a best friend who shares many of my interests. Bill is a pastor who just took his first church and will be preaching his second sermon tomorrow. My wife is a friend closer than no other. She is there for me and always cheering me on to succeed. Then there is Jennifer and Chris. While I have never met either of them in person, I have quickly found them to be people worthy of calling friend.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You brought Jonathan and David together in a friendship that spanned their lifetimes. It was a friendship with a purpose. I want to thank you for also bringing people into my life who I can trust and count on. Thank you for creating us as people who need friends to be healthy and whole. I love you Lord. Amen.

Family Day

Oh, who would guess? Who could have seen? Who could have possibly known?
All the roads we have traveled, the places we’ve been. Would have finally taken us home?
So it’s here’s to you and three cheers to you! Let’s shout it, “Hip, hip, hip, hooray!”
For out of a world so tattered and torn, You came to our house on that wonderful morn,
And all of a sudden this family was born. Oh, happy Adoption Day! – John McCutcheon

In our home we have a special day called Family Day. We celebrate this day three different times per year – Once for each of our daughters. Family day is the day that each of them came home to be with us and we became a family. Some families tell their children about the day they were born. We tell our children about the day they came home on Delta Airlines.

It is actually kind of funny. It took quite a while before our daughters understood that not every child comes home on an airplane. Every time we would tell them one of our friends had a baby they would ask when they were coming home from the airport. Some mothers are even jealous of the relative lack of pain Megan experience in giving “birth.”

Megan and I are truly blessed to have three wonderful daughter. The three exact daughters God planned for us.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down [a] until he arrives.”

12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” – 1 Samuel 16:6-12

These words from 1 Samuel should give us great joy. The should give us a reason to celebrate our relationship with God. We live in a world that judges people largely by what they see on the outside. We are judges by how good we look or don’t look. We are judges by the cost of our homes, car and other treasures. We are judges by our position and rank. However, God makes it clear in 1 Samuel 16:6-12 that he does not judge by these things. He judges us by our hearts. If our heart are right with him he is happy with us. If we are doing his business in this world he is happy with us. If we live a life that express his love to our church, our community and our world he is happy with us. What makes it even a greater reason to celebrate is because we know it is not about being perfect. We know that later David would make many very public mistakes, but God would still call David a man after his own heart.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am truly grateful that you look at the inside and not the outside. I am truly grateful that you care nothing about my bank account, house or car. I am truly grateful that you only care that I follow you. Help me to continue to serve you with everything that I am. I love you Lord. Amen.

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD ? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD ?”

20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”

– 1 Samuel 15:17-23

If Saul had a good start to his time as King over Israel he definitely did not have a good ending. He began his time as King by hiding from those who wanted to place him in charge. He was rightly afraid. However, he soon began to like the trappings of power and decided he did not need to turn to the Lord for guidance and direction. Saul simply did not want to obey the rules. He figured he was King so he could offer the sacrifices that God has said could only be offered by the priest. Saul thought he was above the rules. I am afraid this is the greatest leadership failing we see today in this country and around the world. Why do we hear of politicians be investigated, charged with crimes and sent to jail so often. I believe the answer is simple. These are people who believe their position of power and influence allows them to ignore morality and law. The have effectively lost their sense of aughtness (I love that word so I just had to use it.) I am becoming more and more convinced the most important leadership trait is humility.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that you would make me humble. Make me humble beyond belief. I even ask that I become so humble that some will think I am weak. I don’t care. I only care to serve you, love you and become more like you. I think I am beginning to understand to some small degree what it must have been like for you to humble yourself to die on a cross.

Once again, I want to pray for leaders of our nations. Help them to be humble before you and before the people they are suppose to serve. I also pray for our Christian leaders. Help them to be humble. The world and many of your followers are listening to people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. Help each of these leaders be humble in everything they do.

I love you Lord. Amen.

14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?”
“Looking for the donkeys,” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”

15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”

16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”

20 When Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” – 1 Samuel 10:16-22

Saul had already been told by Samuel that he was to be the King of Israel. When it came time to present him before all of the people he was found to be hiding in the baggage. It is possible to look at this as the first sign of cowardice that Saul displayed. However, I would suggest that we look at it in a different light. I would suggest we see this as a good beginning for Saul. He knew he was to be King, but he was afraid. He knew he was chosen, but he was not sure he was up to the task. Saul began his Kingship with humility. As we read on about this reign we soon see that he lost this initial humility and it eventually brought his downfall. It seems to me this is a great lesson for the leaders of nations in our world. Can you think of a humble national leader who is really known on the world stage? I think about George W. Bush, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Tony Blair, Jacque Chirac, Vincent Fox and many others. I don’t see humble leaders. Instead I see prideful people. What would our world be like if our elected (and not so elected) world leaders were truly humble people?

Dear Heavenly Father,

In your Word it says that you have selected the leaders of this world. Sometimes it is hard to see that. We see pride get in the way of progress. We see wars that seems to do more with saving face than protection. We see help from natural disasters being refused because of old hatreds. Lord you also say to pray for our leaders. So Lord, I pray for George W. Bush, Fidel Castor, Hugo Chavez, Tony Blair, Jacque Chirac, Vincent Fox and the many other leaders in our worlds. I pray that they would humble themselves and seek your face. I pray that you would be their guide. I cannot pretend to understand why some of these people, or even any of them, are in power. I only know you say to pray for them. I only know you say they have been put there within your plan for this world. Help me to dissent with humility and pray for them even when I don’t agree with them. I love you Lord. Amen.

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. – 1 Samuel 8:1-3

Being a father has changed my life and my perspective on what is important (I know most people would consider this an obvious observation, but hang in here with me.) One of the most important ways it has changed my life is my concern for my children’s spiritual life. You hear story after story of how children who were raised to believe in Jesus have failed to follow him. You hear stories of children are indifferent to faith or those who have completely rejected the faith of their parents. Samuel, one of the greatest judges of Israel, had the same problem with his own children. It seems like no matter how much we pray, teach and try to show our children Christ’s love many of them are going to turn their backs. This makes me wonder if there is something I could be doing better, or more of, or less of, etc. I know in the end children make their own choices, but I want to make sure my wife and I give them the best foundation we possibly can for their spiritual journey.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Let me begin by thanking you for the blessing me with three wonderful children. I know that I could never ask for anything more or better. Help my wife and I be truly be examples of two people striving to follow you with everything that we are. Help us to show them your love through our lives. Thank you for using my father as an example for my life. I love you Lord. Amen.

Rest – Psalm 62

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.

2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Selah

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Selah

9 Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

10 Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,

12 and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

– Psalms 62

Today is a day to be encourage. It is a day for faith to rise up and take charge. It is a day to renew confidence in our God. Psalm 62 says:

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.

2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

What amazingly wonderful words. We know in our minds that we can count on God, but sometimes our hearts do not believe it. Those are the times you need to turn to Psalm 62 and be reminded that God is God regardless of what we are thinking or going through. God is God regardless of what is going on around us or in our minds. We can have confidence in God. All we need to do is rest our soul in him. The times when it is hardest for us to rest our soul in God are the exact times we need to do it. I am commiting to rest my soul in God today.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this wonderful reminder of your majesty and soveriegnty. Thank you for reminding us that you are God regardless of what we think you are. Thank you for giving us a place of refuge and rest for our souls. Help me to constantly place my rest in you. I love you Lord Jesus.