Archive for April, 2020

Don’t Forget (Psalm 103; 119:1-48)

April 30, 2020

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits, Psalm 103:2

Honest confession, I so needed Psalm 103 this day.  For the sake of context I share with you about my early morning.  As I got up immediately I felt the weight of my humanity.  The flow of life and the struggles of so many were in my heart and mind.  But then I came to my quit place to meet with God around His Word.  Psalm 119: 2 “blessed are those…who seek Him with all their heart.”

As I opened God’s Word I was immediately lifted in my spirit.  I considered God’s Word.  Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from your Word.”

Before me, in Psalm 103, were no less than 12 benefits that come with being God’s Child.  I was so moved by what I read.  I found myself reading Psalm 103 over and over today.  Psalm 119: 28 “My soul melts away from sorrow, strengthen me according to Your Word.”  With each verse of Scripture my spirit lifted and I was lead to even greater faith in God.  Psalm 119: 33 “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.”

Brothers and sisters should not we always remember God’s blessings in our lives?  Psalm 119:37 “Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

I want to encourage you to focus on Psalm 103 this day.  Please do not just read it once.  Read Psalm 103 throughout the day.  Psalm 119:48 “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments that I love, and I will meditate on your commands.”

I will not forget all Your benefits oh Lord!!!

The Only Way to live (Psalm 1; Psalm 19)

April 29, 2020

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Several months ago I spent almost two weeks in Egypt with brothers and sisters in Christ.  It was a joy to get to know how they lived their lives for Christ in their particular context.  One of the things that I was impressed with was their commitment to God’s Word as well as their commitment to God’s worship.  These two things governed the way they lived.

Question:  What is the best way to live?

I ask the above question because Psalm one gives us two choices in how one can live his or her life.  There is a God-ordained way which the Bible describes as the righteous way of life.  But there is also the God-less way which the Bible describes as the unrighteous way of life.

If you were to take Psalm one and create a chart you would be able to see the contrasts between the two ways to live.  Here are two examples:

  • The righteous walk in God’s counsel while the unrighteous reject the counsel of God choosing to walk in the counsel fo the wicked.
  • The righteous separate themselves from the path of sin while the unrighteous set themselves in the midst of sinful pursuits.

While in Egypt my focus was on encouraging the church so we did not have much interaction with the church’s mission field.  But I did notice as we drove from place to place the people who lined the streets.  I could see the fear in their eyes and I could see the hate in many eyes.  Mostly I could see the dryness of spirit.

The Psalmist helps us to see the end result of both ways of living.  The righteous flourish no matter where they are subjected to live.  The unrighteous falter no matter how much of the world they accumulate.

I wonder, which path are you on today?  You may be on the right path, but struggling to see the merit right now because it all seems so difficult.  Let me point you to Psalm 73.  I have included the text in the bottom of the blog.

Before you read the Psalm, I just want to challenge you to know, God will see you through.  You are on the right path with God.

73 Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
    my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pangs until death;
    their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
    they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
    their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
    loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
    and their tongue struts through the earth.
10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
    and find no fault in them.[a]
11 And they say, “How can God know?
    Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the wicked;
    always at ease, they increase in riches.
13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
    and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken
    and rebuked every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
    I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
    you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
    swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
    O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
    I was like a beast toward you.

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength[b] of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

 

What the Lord said to me (II Samuel 20-24; Psalm 24)

April 28, 2020

17 “He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters. II Samuel 22:17

This day I want you to know that I do not consider myself of any more value than any other living soul.  I want you to know that I am well aware of the great value and significance of every Child of God (I Cor. 12:7-23).  I say these things to you so that you will understand my heart as I write this day concerning what the Lord said to me.

As you know our daily readings finish out the story of David’s life.  These chapters give us not only the overview of David’s life (II Sam. 22:1-23:7) but also one particular mistake David made as king (II Samuel 24).  If you have not read the chapters, pause here and do so before continuing to read.

Here is what God said to me:

  • David was a great leader because of God and God alone.

“This God Is my strong refuge and He has made me blameless,” 22:33.

“For you equipped we with strength for battle,” 22:40.

In these verses and others David gives praise to God for His mighty acts in and through his life.  David praised God for rescuing him time and time again.  Above everything David lifts the name of God for placing His own righteousness in David, (22:21-23).  David was who he was because of God and God alone.

  • David was a flawed leader who made costly mistakes.

We see and example of this in chapter 24.

I believe the Scriptures are clear, David loved his nation and he loved God.  But sometimes sin clouded his thought process.  This very day I know without God’s presence, power, and plan fully in my mind and heart, I will make mistakes that cost others.

With all my heart I want to live honoring God before the people He has entrusted into my care!!!  Please pray for me and for all who are entrusted with such leadership (I Tim. 2:1-3).

For one moment, can I ask you a few questions:

  • What has God said to you today about your life?
  • Would you consider yourself wise in God?
  • Are there things you need to get straight with God and others?

Just know He loves you and He stands ready to lead you every day!

Have Mercy On Me (II Samuel 13-15; Psalm 51)

April 27, 2020

Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

To be honest, mercy would have been the last thing on my mind, if I had been in Absaloms place.  His half-brother Amnom had raped his sister Tamar.  For two years, the anger of the act kept building.  Finally Absalom anger found retribution in the murder of his brother.  Such is the path of a merciless world.

One might ask, where was David in all of this?  He was their father.  I have written about David’s lack of leadership in the home in previous blogs.  But today we look in a different direction.

Today, our readings include Psalm 51 which tells the story of David’s own sin and His being reconciled to God. Please take time to read Psalm 51.

As you read the Psalm it becomes clear that David was crushed by his own sin (Vs: 17).  David longed to be cleansed from his sin (Vs: 2-7).  David wanted to be changed (Vs: 8-12).

The question we must consider is this:  What would David do from this point forward?  David longed to walk again in sweet fellowship with God.  David wanted to be free from his sin.  David wanted to be able to once again  witness of the goodness of God.

Here is the key-David knew repentance was as far as he could go in approaching God.  The rest was totally up to God.  Would God forgive and would God restore?  We know the answer:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Now back to the story of David’s two sons.  Amnon sinned and sought not repentance.  Abalom hated and sought not repentance.  Both brothers ended theirs lives in destruction.

Now lets turn our attention to our stories.  Where are we with God?  Where are we with others?   God intends for us to repent (Rom. 2:5) so that His forgiveness would be extended to us.  God intends for us to give others mercy so that His forgiveness would flow between us and all men!!!

Late One Afternoon (II Samuel 10-12)

April 24, 2020

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. II Samuel 11:1

I knew it was coming and honestly, I dreaded the moment when I would have to own up to the truth once again.  I did not want to even consider the fact that one of my spiritual hero’s had fallen into sin.

My hero’s story mirrors that of Adam.  You remember Adams story from Genesis 3?  Adam was greatly blessed by the Lord.  But one day, when Satan placed sin before his eyes, Adam wanted the sin and he took sin.  You know the rest of the story.

This was the same path my hero of the faith took.  One day he began to place his spiritual life In idol position.  He began to linger and to look toward the old nature that now was ignited once again in him.  The lust that was in him came rushing out and he committed a sin that lost people would have considered to be the character of a lost man.

Because of my hero’s sin, the rest of his life was altered.  Brothers and sisters, I ask, do you know my hero?  His name is King David.  The Bible records that he was a man after the very heart of God (I Sam. 13:14).

Each time when our reading plane comes to Second Samuel 11-12 I cringe because his story happens so often in our world today.  If there is one thing I am always called back to when I read David’s “late one afternoon,” it is this truth from I Corinthians 10:12

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

How does one take heed?

  1.  He or she must heed the warning from God-sin does not only come at us at night.  Sin comes at us when we have a dark spot in our heart.  Sin loves to work under the darkness of a believer who has gotten out of fellowship with God.  We are to run to repentance so the light will again be in every part of our heart, I John 1:5-10.
  2. He or she must always engage in the warfare of faithOur Christian existence is not a pie in the sky cake walk.  It is a daily grind fought on the beaches of our hearts.  We must put on the armor of God each day, Ephesians 6:10-18.

Brothers and sisters, heed the warning today.  You can have victory in Jesus, I John 5:18-19.  David’s one afternoon does not have to be your story.  Yours can be the story of one who fights a good-fight and lays hold of eternal life (I Timothy 6:12).

Room At The Table (Psalm 18; II Samuel 8-9)

April 23, 2020

 13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet. II Samuel 9:13

Just before I left home, Sherry and I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast together.  I was in such a hurry that I failed to have prayer for the food.  As I stand at my writing desk I must pause and give thanks for the Lord placing food at my table!

This morning I want to turn your attention to another table.  Look closely at II Samuel 9.  I point you to the kings table.  Do you recognize the king, his name is David.  David sits at that table being the envy of all kings in his day.  David sits there as the beloved leader of his nation.  David sits there knowing it has been God who placed him in this position (Psalm 18:39).

But notice around the table.  We see leaders and we see his family.   But wait we also see one who most would not expect to be there.  yes, it is true, Saul’s grandson is sitting at the table.

Why did David allow such a thing to happen?  In Psalm 18 David writes in Vs: 25 “with the merciful you show yourself merciful…”  God had been merciful in David’s life and now David is extending the kindness that had been extended to him.

This grandson of Saul was the son of Jonathan, David’s covenant brother.  David had promised to honor Jonathan’s house when he became king (I Sam. 20).

I wonder, does anyone see the great picture of redemption in this story?  The Bible teaches us the story of when the Son of God came to this earth to purchase our redemption.  God was extending mercy to humanity. The Bible teaches us that God the father accepts people at His table because of the kindness of Jesus ( I John 2:1-2).

This day I am moved to get back on my knees to praise the one who brought me to His table in 1974.  I am moved to great praise in thanking God for having a seat at the table since that day.  I am even more moved to praise when I consider the day when I will get to sit at His table in Heaven (Rev. 19:6-9).

Question:  Do you have a reservation at God’s table?  If you do, rejoice today for all the blessings that are yours at the table.

Take time to consider if you have missed sitting at the table because of so much activity. Do not do as I did this morning,  It is true I was eating while on the run.  Please spend time at the table with Jesus today.

If you have not accepted the invitation to come to the table.  I plead with you to do so today.

Why do we celebrate? (II Samuel 6-7)

April 22, 2020

 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.  II Samuel 7:22

One cannot escape the fact that II Samuel six and seven has a lot of celebrating in their verses.  In chapter six David celebrates the Ark of the Covenant (representing God’s presence) being carried to Jerusalem.  In chapter seven the Prophet Nathan and King David celebrate the goodness of God.

Question:  Are you celebrating today?

This day, some people are celebrating because of the news of the possible lifting of the stay at home order in our state.  Still others are celebrating because soon sporting events will be happening again.  Many people are celebrating in anticipation for what they think they will get to do?

I wonder, does the Child of God celebrate any different that the world? I wonder do we know what is really worth celebrating and what is not worth celebrating?  As I scanned back through chapters six and seven (after I had taken time to read the chapters the first time slowly) I came up with no less than six reasons to celebrate God:

  • God has redeemed His people from bondage.
  • God has given His people peace with Him.
  • God has given His people true purpose in life.
  • God has meet every need for His people.
  • God is preparing a home for each of His people.
  • God has given His people a spiritual family.

Brothers and sisters, these are awesome reasons to celebrate God.  However, there is one more that eclipses all the above reasons.  We celebrate the very presence of God in our lives!!!

During our shelter in place, He was and is with us.  During other seasons both good and not so good, He was and is with us.

Brothers and sisters, I will celebrate when we get together.  But as David danced before the Lord, my greatest celebration is reserved for God alone!!!

Do You Know? (II Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23)

April 21, 2020

12 And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. II Samuel 5:12

Someone recently said, as a joke, “what you do not know cannot hurt you.”  I have heard this statement so many times in my life and I have even said this many times.  However, it’s not a true statement.  Here is one example, if I had cancer and did not know it, it would hurt me.

Brothers and sisters, there are things that we do not know that we need to know.  I think about the one thing that David seemed to always keep in focus as he lived his life.  To me that one thing was “the love of God in his life.”

When we read Psalm 23 we are brought face to face with God as the Loving Shepherd who provided for all the needs that David had.  But it was not only David, our loving shepherd provides for all the needs we have.

When I think about what I know, three verses stand out to me:

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

This loving God is:

  • the author of all that is good in the world.
  • unchangeable in His character.
  • the only one who deserves the praise for all that is good in the world.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matt. 6:25

Our Shepherd:

  • Leads us to live without anxiety because He is fully able to meet our every need.
  • Leads us to focus on Kingdom Life because He has all this life under control.

 

 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

Our Lord favors us in the worst of situations in this life.  In II Samuel 5 David becomes king of all Israel.  His reign would last for 40 years.   I truly believe David would have never become king if he had not grasped the truth, God loved him.

This very day, you and I need to grasp the truth of how much we are loved. Here is our take away from Psalm 50:14-15

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,[b]
    and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Caring for the Fallen (II Samuel 1:1-2:7)

April 20, 2020

12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. II Samuel 1:12

I know its Monday and I know you would rather be reading headlines of good news and there is good news in the gospel.  But the reality is, people are dying all over the world this day.  Also, this mornings focal text is II Samuel 1 which tells the story of how many had fallen in battle as King Saul had led the armies of Israel to defeat.

One might comment, but good came out of this, David would become king.  Yes, Romans 8:28 is being fulfilled here.  But at the same time God shows us in David’s heart attitude how we are to be compassionate toward those who have fallen.

Back in I Samuel 31 the Bible says, “The archers found him (referring to Saul)” Vs: 3. 

Surely you know the arrows of death will some day find you or someone in your family.  It could be the arrow that finds those who are close to you.  Here is a proven point:  The more you care for others, the more you will be cared for.

David was not faking in caring for Saul and he was not simply leveraging an opportunity to further himself.  David loved Saul, (his enemy) Jonathan (his blood brother) and all of Israel (his countrymen).

Brothers and sisters, everyone who has died in CV-19 fits in one of the above categories in your life and mine.  God has called us to come along-side of others today!!!

David teaches us to mourn, to pray, and to care for the families that remain.  By the way, so did Jesus:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 22:37-38

The parable Jesus told in Luke 10 drives us to ask the question:  Do I care for people like Jesus teaches me to do so?

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

One Who is Precious (I Samuel 26-31)

April 18, 2020

 24 Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” I Samuel 26:24

Question:  What is precious in your life?  If you use the word as an adjective, it’s something like an object, substance, or resource of great value;  to not be wasted or treated carelessly. But if you use the word as a noun it would be to described a beloved person.

David speaks about his relationship with God as one in which God considers David to be precious (26:24).

On this special Saturday edition I ask the question:  Do you feel precious in anyone eyes?

David was in a very crucial point in his life.  He was still on the run from king Saul, but it would not last much longer.  For the second time, David could have ended Saul’s life.  But he did not because Saul was precious in God’s sight which meant that he was also precious in his sight.  But at the same time David knew He was precious in God’s sight.

This is really important.  Do you and I consider people precious?  Our God does.  This is why Jesus came (John 3:16).  There is a chapter in the Bible which teaches us how to correctly treat those we consider as precious.  Here is the chapter and the verses:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.  I Cor. 13:4-8a

May the Lord lead us to consider all people precious.