Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Incredible Relationship

Good morning students,

Yesterday's blog was a bit of a challenge for some of you. Some of you made a valiant effort and did well; others did not even try. "I do not know what to write" is not a valid response. What that says to me is "I do not see the value of this exercise so I am not going to bother to try". All of you left off the part about how the lesson from yesterday is applied in your life. We are going to repeat the exercise to give you another opportunity.

We often talk about the Lord being our strength. We encourage people to seek God for answers. When people have faced sorrow and disaster we comfort them with the truth that Jesus is with them. Yet, what does all this mean? How do you visualize it? What is our condition in comparison with God's greatness?

Read Psalm 27 to see what David considered concerning his relationship with God:

Psalm 27

Now watch this video and answer the questions that follow:


  • How does this video depict our relationship with God?
  • How do you think we must look like to Jesus? Why would we look like this to him?
  • Describe how this impacts the way you see your relationship with Jesus now?
  • How do you understand this verse different now?

Mystery verse

May the Lord's activity in your life be clear to you today! May he prove to be your strength.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Do They Have To Do With Each Other

Good morning my friends,

Okay, so I am tired of the regular way of doing the devotions. I enjoy much more the interactive stuff so here is what we are going to do. I want you to read Psalm 24, then watch the video I have included. After this I want you to comment on how these are related to each other and how they apply to your life. It should only take you 30 minutes, tops.

Psalm 24


Enjoy. I am looking forward to reading what you come up with.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Note To My Students

Good morning students,

Unfortunately my internet at home was not working properly so I have run out of time to complete the devotions. It is a bit of a rushed day as I am in Gatineau doing teacher training there. However, there are a few things a did want to share with you this morning.

The first is that I want to encourage you not to give up. I know that there are less than 4 weeks left in the school year and some of you are not looking forward to 3 weeks of summer school (last year it was 4 weeks) but I encourage you not to give up. How you end this year makes a difference. I would have preferred that all of you had done well all year long but it just did not work out that way. There were many factors for this including the change to Social Studies and the adjustment to all the computers, yet you should not look for excuses for your failures.

What you can decide to do is give it your full effort and end the school year well. Sure you may not be able to finish everything but you will end the year feeling good. It is better to end with a good experience than to feel you are sneaking out having completely "bombed" your year. In this I ask you to trust my experience. It matters. It matters to you, it matters to me, it matters to your parents. It means you will return next year feeling better than you could have felt.

The other thing I wanted to share is that some of you will be facing changes over the next year. Some of you will not be returning to us for various reasons and others will be shifting from one level of study to another. Change is hard. It is hard on everyone. Change is what you will have to face for the rest of your life. The statistics say that you will have 14 to 18 different jobs before you are 38 years of age. Change is always happening. The one constant in all of this is Jesus. You need him, more than ever because he is the only one who can make sense out of all of this.

Yet again, change is not an excuse to sit back and not put in your best effort. If you are leaving us then go out on a good note. Go out giving it your all. Go out with your head held high knowing that you did your best work in the last three weeks. It matters. I am telling you that when you look back it will matter to you.

Some of us have known each other a number of years now and we have grown to know each other well. I cannot imagine some of you not being here next year. But change happens, and it is just as hard on me as it is on you. Believe it or not I will miss you. I will even miss you guys over the summer. You know, regardless of what kind of year it has been for you I am very proud to call all of you my students. I promise you that I am not going to slack off in these last few weeks. Please make the same promise and let's end this year on a high note. God bless you today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What Is Man ...

Good morning my friends,

When you were a child did you ever find yourself lost? Perhaps you were out shopping with your mom and while you were distracted by something she went down an aisle you did not see. You turned around and she was gone. Panic filled your find. You could not see because you only came up to everyone's knee. The shelves were way to high to see over. You did not know what to do so you started running and crying. Panic is a horrible feeling and more often than not or reaction to it is to run.

In some cases it is good to run when you are panicked; it is a survival thing. In the devastated area of China a rumour spread quickly that another earthquake was about to hit. The photos show large crowds of panicked people running out of the towns and cities. Their faces showed the horror they lived through and the panic they now felt. It is instinct to run but unfortunately panic also shuts down our ability to reason and think so we are left with only a reaction.

David had found himself in many situations where panic could have over-ruled him. I am not sure that it did not when he first ran away from Saul. Yet, in most cases David kept a very level head and was able to think through the situation he faced. He was able to devise a plan and carry that plan out to a successful conclusion. The reason was because he had learned from experience that the best thing he had going for him was God. We are fortunate to be able to glimpse into the heart of David. This is how he saw his God:

My shield is God Most High,
who saves the upright in heart. (Psalm 7:10)

David learned that when he faced the lions and bears as a young shepherd that brute strength would not win the day. When he faced Goliath he knew that his only hope was God. In every case he had victory because he had confidence in God and thus avoided panic. When he faced his challenges he did so with boldness because his strength was his relationship with God who had proven himself a faithful shield time and again.

Keep in mind that a shiled does not prevent the attacks but instead protects against them. God is not going to hide you away in some kind of paradise. He has you face the battles so you can become a season warrior, a person who he can use in various situations. He wants you to gain experience and strength. His training ground is not always easy and you must have a strong bond with him to survive it. If you ever have any doubts then do what David did, reflect on teh glory of God:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [c]
and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:3-9)

God has designed you for greatness. Do not panic. He is your shield. Put your trust and confidence in him. Enter the battle and discover his greatness.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Peaceful Sleep

Good morning my friends,

So how secure do you feel? If we look at Psalm 4 we will discover why David was the way he was the majority of his life. He felt secure:

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

It is the same security that Jesus offers us. It is the security that is found in a solid relationship, when we know that Jesus is occupied with our lives and that he desires nothing but the best for us. By best I mean those things that will develop us and prepare us for eternity. This security assures us and allows us to live a life where we are filled with peace, even when everything seems to be going wrong. So what is the opposite of this?

If peace is the fruit of security what is the fruit of not being secure? David gives a hint of that:

In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent. (Psalm 4:4)

Uncontrolled anger is often the result of a sense of insecurity. We all get angry from time to time but a person filled with the peace of God finds a constructive use for that anger. People who often feel insecure do not know how to use their anger in a constructive manner and often hurt people, either with their tongue or with their fists.

Often for students their source of insecurity relates to their future. As they get closer to leaving High School they begin to have much more anxiety about what they will do and who they will become. Their future can look very dark and lonely. However, this changes in the security of their relationship with Jesus. If they have a real relationship with him they are able to accept some facts:

- Jesus loves them and wants nothing but the best for them
- he has a plan for their lives
- they have a purpose that was knit into them from birth
- Jesus has promised to be with them forever

As the Bible says, If Jesus is for us who can be against us; and, Greater is he who is in us than he that is in the world. It is time to let go of your fear and anxiety that are produced by your insecurities. Discover what real peace is by resting in the Lord. He hold syour future.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Its Very, Very Messy

Good morning my friends,

The question is did Joab do good or evil toward the king?

In today's reading we find Absalom setting up his household in Jerusalem. He would have solidified his power by killing his father but king David's spy managed to give bad advice to protect the king. When Absalom finally mounted an attack against his father David had enough time to rally a good size army to defend himself.

Now David was a kind and compassionate man, most of the time. He disliked bloodshed even though his life was filled with it. Here he was facing his son, his eldest son whom he loved dearly. Perhaps that is hard for some people to understand but it is amazing the capacity parents have to forgive the worse actions of a child. Parents always hope that children will change and live up to their potential. So it is not unreasonable that David would tell his army to protect his enemy for his enemy was his son.

Joab had a much different character than David. I believe that Joab loved king David and part of the reason for what he did was to protect him. But he was also arrogant. He thought he knew better than David so he ignored the order of the king and he personally killed the king's son. Why would he do this? Was there any personal gain in it? Remember that Joab tended to see things in a way that would benefit him. As long as David was kept from his throne Joab would also be kept from his position of power. Absalom was a continuing threat to David. He rebelled against him once so who's to say that he would not do it a second time. As long as Absalom was a threat to David he was also a threat to Joab. So, did Joab kill Absalom for the preservation of David or himself?

Regardless, Joab went against the king but David was so grief stricken that he could not deal with Joab. I also think that David feared Joab. Did David's compassionate heart strengthen him or weaken him as king? Was it a good part of his character or did it lead to problems? We all have our ideas of what a good leader is and what character he should possess. However, aspects of our character can be like a double-edged sword. In one instant it can make us a good leader and in another it can bring us harm. It is wisdom and discernment that allows us to know when and how to use different aspects of our character. We need the guidance of the Spirit because it is not always simple.

In the case of David and Absalom it is clear that David loved Absalom. However David put this love above his responsibility toward his people. He put a family matter ahead of the kingdom he was given to govern. He made it clear to Joab that he would continue to make mistakes as far as Absalom was concerned. This was wrong of David. It is not to say that he should have killed Absalom but David needed to show greater strength and resolve to take the matter in hand and deal with Absalom. In some ways he left Joab no choice, even though I disagree with the actions of Joab.

This is life. Life is not always so cut and dry. Life is messy. We are so desperate for the direction and support of the Spirit, especially in matters of the heart. We can try it on our own but there will always be decisions that we make that will bring more harm than good. Sometimes we may wonder about this even when we are directed by the Spirit. Yet with the Spirit we can be assured that God is working it all out to be good. It comes down to the fact that life is to complicated to try it without God. It really comes down to one question: do you believe this or not? Are you willing to allow the Spirit to be your guide and counselor or are you going to try to go it alone?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coward, Wise or Anointed?

Good morning my friends,

Was king David a coward or a good king? It seems that whenever David faced opposition he ran. Was this from cowardice, or was it a means to avoid unnecessary bloodshed? Was this directed from God or did David decide this on his own? It is hard to tell without being there but we do have some clues to help us make up our minds.

The first clue is the quality of people who stood with the king. There were warriors who had dedicated their lives to king David, strong, brave warriors. When he released them this was their response:

"As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be." (2 Samuel 15:21)

Not a response that a warrior would give to a coward. It was the same when David told his servants they had to prepare to flee:

"Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses." (2 Samuel 15:15)

Despite all his faults David still had the anointing from the Lord to lead his people. There was something about his character and the anointing that caused the godly men and women of the nation to rally around him.

Remember that David was a shepherd and possessed a sense of responsibility for the people he was anointed to protect. Look at his reasoning for leaving this well fortified city:

"Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword." (2 Samuel 15:14)

He could have held out for a long time but eventually Absalom would have taken the city and probably kill everyone who was loyal to the king. So David's retreat also preserved the city and her people. When Absalom arrived he simply marched in and again David avoided bloodshed. This appeared to always be David's preferred course of action, to preserve life. It was his strength but many saw it as his weakness. In fact, it sometimes led to indecision which caused this problem with Absalom to rise in the first place.

However, we can see in his plans that David did not plan to be gone for long. He left people to look after the palace, he left the ark along with the priests, he even had a spy set in place to frustrate the council given to the king. He was planning to be back. If you truly want to see David's heart then read Psalm 3 and 69 which will allow you to see the private thoughts of the king at this time.

I wonder how often we are willing to swallow our pride in order to avoid conflict for the sake of others. When David left he left humbled and humiliated. He was jeered by people who had no clue. Would you be willing to be jeered at for the sake of others? Could you carry such a mantle of leadership, willing to put the safety and feelings of others ahead of your own? Well, Paul said that we always have that responsibility as Christians. We are told that the strong must look after the weak and we must consider the needs of others more important than our own. That is a challenge in a world that finds it difficult to think like that, yet it is what we have been told to do,

If we allow ourselves to be possessed and controlled by the Spirit then we will find it quite natural to respond with such a character. However, it is hard to respond with a Christ-like character if we are not possessed by this character. Christianity is not about conformity but about character. Are you being transformed by the Spirit or are you trying to live by an impossible code? Remember, the Spirit of God was on David as the anointed king, but he wants to be in you as a child of God.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Natural Consequences

Good morning my friends,

Those of you who have been following the reading may believe that David got away with what he did with Bathsheba and her husband. That is because the consequences to people's actions are not always evident at first. God's love and forgiveness are wonderful but they do not stop the natural consequences of what we have seeded by our sin. Through his sin David introduced a destructive element into his family which we can see in today's reading.

In his sin David saw something he wanted and he took it. It did not matter that the woman had a husband. It was a minor irritant that David took care of very effectively. Do not think this would have escaped the notice of his children. Things rarely escape the notice of our children. In fact Amnon followed in his father's footsteps. He saw what he wanted in the form of his half sister Tamar. He took her, violated her and then cast her out. That act alone would lead to civil war within David's house. That act would lead to murder and produce the seeds of rebellion.

Now look at the ineffectiveness of David as a father. He heard what Amnon had done and he was enraged but he took no action. His inaction lead to one of his sons taking revenge later on. I am sure this inaction caused disgust in Absalom toward his father to the point he tried to take the kingdom from his dad. Why would David not have taken action against Amnon? Could it be that his sin had left him feeling he could not correct because he was no better? Was he afraid of what Amnon would say back to him? Is this why Amnon felt he could get away with such a thing? Except for the revenge of Absalom, Amnon had gotten away with it. David had lost control over his children. He may have been king but he was a king who could not deal with his own family.

David's sin would continue to effect his family and the kingdom. After his sin he remained as king but his leadership and the kingdom were on a downward spiral. He was forgiven but the seeds had been released. No man, no woman and no child is an island. Whatever sin you decide to enter in upon will not only effect you but also everyone who has any connection with you. I think this is one of the great schemes of the enemy, when he convinces people that their actions will effect no one else, but it isn't true. No person is an island and for every action there is a reaction. It is more than a physics statement, it is a spiritual reality.

God's mercy, grace, love and forgiveness are wonderful but avoiding the sin in the first place is the best thing anyone can do. A rebellious teenager effects the whole family, the relationship between the parents and all the children. A drunk driver can cause more harm than just to himself. An abusive dad is sowing seeds of abuse for generations to come. A cheating student is going to seed far more than he can possibly imagine. We need to think these things through. Reflect. Imagine. See the results before you take the action that you will regret for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oh The Burden Of It All

Good morning my friends,

As we read Psalm 32 this morning there are many things that vie for my attention, not the least of which is the torment of unconfessed sin. Some would call it guilt and I would never deny the power of guilt but unconfessed sin is something quite different. It is that burden of having done something wrong, knowing that God knows but not being willing to take ownership of it. We figure as long as we do not admit to it then it won't stick to us. The result is as David wrote:

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)

The Lord does not keep his hand heavy upon us because he is a vengeful God or because he is full of malice. His hand is heavy upon us because he wants us to be free from the burden, free from the sin so we will not be lost. It is sin that separates us from what we were born to be. We should rejoice that our God loves us enough to even care that we confess to these things. If his hand is not heavy upon you, if you do not feel the burden of the unconfessed then you are really in trouble. If we become insensitive to the sins we try to bury then we have become separate from God and can no longer feel his hand upon us. This is a scary place to be because we have joined the ranks of the wicked and we are lost to him. We can't let ourselves get to this place.

Look at how simple it is:

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)

He already knows. It is like a parent who has received a phone call from the neighbour about their broken window. Before little Bobby walks through the door dad already knows what he has done. Yet, he waits for Bobby to tell him first. Dad wants to see the remorse and repentance to know he is sincere in that repentance. Our Father wants to know that we are sincere in our seeking of forgiveness, that it matters to us and that we understand the wrong that we did.

See what David then writes:

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him. (v. 6)

"While you may be found" is key here. When you refuse to confess then a separation begins. God does not go anywhere but you do. You move further away from him. Your character changes. You hear him less. You sense him less. Godly things take on less importance to you. Suddenly things that were no acceptable become acceptable. Then you can't find God any more even when you need him. He is there but you can no longer even sense his presence.

The mighty waters that David speaks of is the finality of death. Do not let it get to that point. Confess it so you may be free from the burden. Step into that place that David longed for:

Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

One last word. God warned us not to be stuborn about this matter. He must have been writing to some young people I know:

Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him. (vv. 9-10)

Friday, May 9, 2008


Good morning my friends,

David's greatest weakness was the men he had surrounded himself with. When he ran from Saul a strange thing had happened; all the criminals and outcasts identified with him and came to him. He had some good men but a great many of them came with the character that had made them criminals and outcasts. David was not like them. He had God's sense of justice and of correct action.

David admired Abner and from the little we know of his character we can understand why. David would have fought under Abner's command and would have known him well as Abner would have known David well. Let us consider the little we know.

- he stood by his duty in the same sense of Jonathan. Even though he knew the kingdom had been given to David he stood by his duty of installing and protecting a descendant of Saul.
- his honour was important to him. When it was questioned for no legitimate reason he lost respect for the king and his belief in his ability to rule
- he was not hungry for blood. It seemed he only fought when necessary. He tried to avoid killing Joab's brother.
- he was a man of peace. When he accepted that the kingdom had to be brought under David he did it politically to avoid war.

Joab would go on to prove to be more trouble than he was worth for David. All David could do was sincerely mourn Abner's death in a way that greatly honoured David.

It seemed no matter how hard David tried there were always others to make sure that his throne was based in bloodshed. Under Abner's direction things had progressed to the point that David could have easily have assumed control over the united kingdom. However, two men took it upon themselves to kill the king of Israel in a way that David found disgusting He dealt with them in the same way he dealt with the man who said he had killed Saul.

David is one who believed that the end did not justify the means. David understood that God has his way of dealing with things. Any time we try to improve on this or rush it we only make a mess of it. These men who tried to rush David's kingship laid a foundation of trouble for David's kingdom. David would never know peace. This is a good example for us that we need to allow God to do what he has promised and not to rush things. The end never justifies the means. Cheating will never help you. Lying will never help you. Corruption will never help you. As Joab will discover much later on, all these things will catch up with you. Trust God. Be patient. Wait.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Totally Missing The Point

Good morning my friends,

We must be careful of our perspectives and what we assume. We read today how what one man assumed ended up costing him his life. He was an Amalekite and he was at the last great battle of king Saul. According to his story he was there when Saul was wounded and the enemy was pressing hard upon him. According to his story it was him who Saul had asked to kill him which, according to his own words, he did. Yet, that is not what we witnessed yesterday. So why would this man lie about such a thing?

Most likely he happened to come across the body of the king before the Philestines had found it and did the evil things they did to it. He saw an opportunity and took it. From his perspective David would be pleased with anyone who brought news of the death of his "enemy" and also brought him the crown. He probably saw a reward or possible career advancement. He assumed this would be good news. He completely misread the whole thing.

Imagine how confused he must have been when the whole camp of warriors started to mourn. Imagine the shear terror of seeing armed warriors ripping their tunics and screaming out in pain. Imagine the mix of confusion and terror as he was rewarded for this news by a sword through his body instead of coin in hand. At least the confusion did not last for long.

This was the difference between the perspective of those raised on the ordinances of God and those raised on self. The Israelites understood the importance of honouring God's anointed and allowing God to bring discipline to those he has called. Today we have lost much of that. We see pastors and elders more like businessmen. We do not understand the thing about the anointing. We do not understand about the respect due, not because of the man or woman, but because of God's choosing. We do not understand that God brings discipline to those whom he has called. We want it to be a man made discipline, bordering on revenge, but God's discipline is so much more effective.

We need to be careful not to assume and we need to be careful that we have a Kingdom perspective, based on the ordinances of God, and not a perspective of self. This is a tough thing especially for young people raised on the standards of this world. However, we have been given the Spirit who teaches us the difference between the holy and the common.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Right Stuff

Good morning friends,

Today we read about the tragic end to a life of unfulfilled promise. King Saul did not want to be king or feared to be king and yet became a great leader. He led Israel well even after his falling out with God. However, the king represented the wisdom and strength of God to the people and Saul had decided to disobey God. He took himself off the list of "servants" and put himself on the list of enemies. It could not end well. However, regardless of what Saul was not, he was the king.

It is very interesting to see the respect that was given to Saul simply because he was the king. Even though Saul was trying to track David down to kill him, David would not touch the king even when he had opportunities to kill him. King Saul's armour barer refused to follow the king's order to kill him to keep him from being "abused" by the enemy. Why? Because he feared to raise a hand against the king. He did not fear for his life because he took his life after the king took his own. His fear was of God. The valiant men of Jabesh Gilead risked their lives to rescue the bodies of king and sons from the public display of humiliation, because Saul was king. They buried the bones and then mourned for 7 days, because he was the king.

Most of you know that I continue to be move and impressed by the decision and actions of Jonathan in this matter. He knew the kingdom had been given to David. He knew that his father was wrong. He knew that his dad would be defeated at some point. He knew this but he also knew that he was the son of the king and the place of the son of the king was by his father's side. He knew this decision would be certain death but it was his duty. It did result in his death but this decision continues to testify to the character of Jonathan over three thousand years later.

Doing the right thing is not always easy. In our age of liberal thinking, when the individual's will and wants reign supreme over everything else, it is a hard concept for us to understand. It was not easy for David to do the right thing. It was not easy for the men of Jabesh Gilead. It was not easy for Jonathan, but it was the right thing to do. This is what makes people instruments of valour when facing terrible odds and difficult decisions. This is what causes individuals to rise up into acts of great heroics. It is what causes some leaders to become great leaders. It is when we understand that we only have one choice and that choice is to do the right thing. Not right according to the individual but right according to God's morality and standards.

In an age when we change our morality and standards according to what we want it becomes increasing difficult to live by a higher code. This is one reason why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us to always choose to do what is right according to God's standards of right.Whether it wants to recognize it our not this world needs more Jonathans and men of Jabesh Gilead, men and women of valour. Will you be one?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hatred Is A Blind Force

Good morning my friends,

Did you know that hatred causes blindness? It is true! Hatred will make us completely blind to the truth and allow us to do things we would never think of doing in our proper frame of mind. Hatred has been know to provoke people to murder. This is the reason Jesus taught that we should never allow ourselves to be provoked to anger. He taught us that if we have anything against a brother or we know that a brother has anything against us we must deal with it quickly.

Hatred led king Saul to become a mass murderer. Sure, he was not the one who used the sword but he was the one who give the order. He ordered the wrongful death of 85 unarmed men and then it spilled over into the death and destruction of an entire town.

It all happened because priest had given David some supplies when David had come by to inquire of the Lord. The priest was not involved in the politics of the day so he had no idea that there had been a falling out between the king and David. All he knew was that David was highly favoured of the king, the Captain of his body guard. It was normal for David to drop in and inquire of the Lord. It was Saul's hatred that blinded him to this simple fact. It was logical. How would a priest know of the sudden demise of David?

Put it in perspective. There are 85 men on trial in Montreal for treason and terrorism. The judge who is also the mayor has taken their supposed actions personally. He completely ignores the clear facts that these men are innocent of the charges and orders their immediate death. How do you think that would look in the news headlines? "Mayor Kills 85 Clergy As Pleas Of Innocence Fall On Death Ears".

This act of Saul's makes no sense except in the context of his hatred of David. In his inability to lash out at the one he hates he lashes out at anyone who appears to support him. We can hear the anger of Saul toward his son Jonathan. I am surprised that Jonathan survived with his life. Of Course Saul would not even notice that Jonathan had chosen to stay with his father instead of standing by David's side. Hatred never allows us to see the good things, only the bad.

Remember the moments of anger you have experienced. Were you able to take everything into consideration or did you focus on that one single act that caused you to be angry? Were you able to take into consideration your entire relationship with that person or did everything get forgotten except for that one single act? Hatred blinds us to all the facts except for the perceived offense against us. All other things are set aside and forgotten so that we can put all our energy into that one thing; hatred.

Jesus told us not to allow it to get to the point of anger. Deal with it before it gets there:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Mathhew 5:21-26)

Hatred should never be found in a child of God. Deal with it before it destroys someone.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oh You Foolish People

Good morning my friends,

The friendship of Jonathan and David is an interesting study on character and the bonds of friendship. Here were two young men who could have been great rivals. Jonathan was a warrior long before David arrived on the scene, having already put an entire army to flight. David was a brass young man with the nerve to challenge and stand against a mighty warrior, and win.

Jonathan was the son of the king, thus a prince and heir to the throne. He had proven himself to be a staunch worshiper of the one true God and a great defender of the nation of Israel. With only his sword barer at his back he had put an entire army to flight. He appeared to be a well educated young man. He was a man of his word, a man of conviction, a man of faith and a true friend.

David was a passionate young man. He loved the LORD God and had complete trust in him. He was a staunch defender of Israel. He was not a prince but he rouse through the ranks and soon became a popular commander. He does appear to have been rash and as a shepherd he would not have received a great education. He did not appear as refined as some and his character certainly seemed to be lacking in areas. Could you imagine Jonathan lying to a priest or pretending to be insane to save his own skin? Just because it is recorded in the Word does not mean it is something that is approved of God.

Of the two young men Jonathan would have made the better king. However, God's choices are not made based upon the same things that our choices are made. In fact the Word tells us that God purposely chooses to use the foolish things of the world:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

The only advantage that David had over Jonathan was that David had the only thing that mattered; the anointing of God. Jonathan recognized this and it again speaks well of his character. He did not grow jealous of David. Here was this young, brass shepherd boy who would take his place as king and they became the best of friends. Everything Jonathan did spoke highly of his noble character. Not so with David but David had been chosen of God for the task of leading God's people.

David was sincere in his love and devotion to God, however his character would need to be refined and developed. There is nothing like losing everything, being on the run and hiding out in the desert to develop character. Just as God had sent Israel out into the desert to develop its maturity as a nation so God did with David. Just because God chooses the foolish things does not mean he will leave them that way. There is a refining process and it is rarely gentle.

These two make a fine character study and there is much to learn from them both. However, the greatest lesson is that it is God and God only who makes the decisions concerning whom he will place where to do his work. It is not something that is merited but simply God's choice. We need to stop judging God's choices based on our own understanding and allow his work to flow as it is meant to be. If we did we may find a lot more foolish things bringing God the glory he deserves.