Saturday, March 31, 2012

2 Samuel 12 - God Sees

Looks like the house of David will always be at war with someone (12:10). As much as David tried to hide his sin against Uriah, the LORD saw. There is nothing that we do or say or think that we can hide from God. And, there are consequences, tragic consequences, for David's sins.

Earlier this morning, I read Rev. Antti Lepisto's (President of Suomi Conference) sermon for the funeral of Rev. Melvin Johnson (former President and Vice President of Suomi Conference). I was once again reminded of God's promises and His presence with us. For sure, he knows all that we say and think and do. But, even more importantly, His very presence brings us peace.

Friday, March 30, 2012

2 Samuel 11 - David and Uriah

Now this story of David and Uriah is just about the most sublime illustration of how men (and women), with power, manipulate others to get what they want and still look good; look just in the eyes of the masses. Just amazes me that a king would have one of his most faithful servants killed in battle so that his subjects would not know that he's been sleeping with the man's wife. But, that's exactly what this highly exalted King David does. Lesser men would have been put to death for his acts. But, not David.

I like the contrast of faithfulness in this chapter. Uriah is faithful to his people, to his king. David is faithless. While his men are at war with the Ammonites, David is busy with one of their wives and then even busier trying to cover it up. Uriah, who is faithful, dies in battle, for a king who has faithlessly set him up to die.

And where is God in all of this? David is still His anointed king of Israel, but the thing that David has done displeases the LORD. Tomorrow, we will read just how displeased the LORD is.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2 Samuel 10 - More War - Where's Peace

Again with the fighting... Will they never learn? Will we never learn? Has there ever been a time that the whole world lived without some kind of war going on? Will there ever be?

After a couple major battles, one in which over 40,000 Syrians die, the Syrians decide they should make peace with Israel. The Syrians become subjects to Israel. But, is that really peace? Is it peace when we have to be subdued by another, when we become beholding to another for our lives?

In this world, I think that there can only be peace within ourselves as we are reconciled to God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray for peace for the whole world daily, but as long as our sinful human natures exist there will always will be strife. Peace does not come by man. (No matter how much the politicians and lobbyists and all others try or pretend to try) Peace is a gift from God. Jesus said on more than one occasion. "Peace be with you." It is a blessing.

May you be blessed with the peace of God this and every day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2 Samuel 9 - Keep Your Friends Close - Enemies Closer

2 Samuel 9
Love your brother, your neighbor, your potential enemy... There's an old saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Out of the blue, David starts asking if anyone of the house of Saul has survived. He'd like to do them some kindness, for the sake of Jonathan. Jonathan's crippled son, Mephibosheth, is brought to David, by a former servant of Saul. And... David is extremely kind, giving him all that had formerly belonged to his grandfather, including the former servant of Saul to work the land. David will ensure that Mephibosheth is cared for all the days of his life.

So why do I question David's motives by implying that this chapter is about keeping our enemies close? There is nothing particular in this chapter that implies it - except that - the servant Ziba was Saul's servant. Except that - Mephibosheth is the grandson of the former king, who for years had pursued David and wanted his death. Yes, Jonathan loved David. But, this is Jonathan's son and Saul's grandson. Who can say where Mephibosheth's loyalties will lie? What about Ziba's loyalties? And... if they are not with David, maybe David will win them over with his generosity and kindness. It is good to keep those who are potential enemies close beside you so that you will know what they are doing. Strategies... of politics and war.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer... Be kind to each of them.

Proverbs 25:21-22 (generally credited to be written by David's son, Solomon) reflects this negative or defensive thinking of mine:

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you."

And who can tell, by your kindness, just maybe your enemy will become your true friend.

And Jesus told us to: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt 5:44)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2 Samuel 8 - David the Warrior

Justice and equity... David rules over all of Israel with justice and equity for all his people. (8:15) After reading about the 10's of thousands killed at the hand of David and his army, I would not expect to read about justice and equity in the next paragraph. But, note that this justice and mercy is administered to David's people. Of course, "David's people" are growing. With every battle, more land, more subjects, more servants...

Ok, I shouldn't be so down on David. I just don't think he's the cute, curly headed, little, shepherd boy that is so often and only taught about in so many Sunday School classrooms. He's the innocent little boy who had slain that awful giant of the Philistines. Let's tell the truth... David for a few years of his life was a shepherd. For most of his life, David was a warrior! A major battlefield strategist! Shepherd, warrior, king, administrator; he was a lot of things and he was good at them. No, it was not really David who was good at these things. He succeeded in them when he listened to the LORD. Without the blessings of God, David would have continued to shepherd sheep all the days of his life. But, with God, he protected and prospered his people. He fed them and cared for them. With God, David led men to victory.

Note: I am also kind of wondering if the Philistines learned anything about letting their enemy hide from their other enemy in their own land. See you all tomorrow - off to the office - still not use to this Daylight Savings Time and sleeping in and rushing - so hope that I'm not making a mess out of the food for thought I offer and you can make some sense out of it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2 Samuel 7

"...Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God..." (7:18-19 ESV)

Following Worship at Zion yesterday, Howard and I jumped into the car to make the 2-1/2 hour drive to Bark River to Rev. Paul Strom's installation at Salem Lutheran. Since there are only 2 North American Lutheran congregations in the U.P. (Upper Michigan), I had wondered who would be doing the installing and how many clergy would be able to be there to witness the installation. I know his congregation so I knew the house would be full otherwise. When I walked into the sacriste, I was overjoyed to see that our first Bishop, Paull Spring, had made the trip to preach and install Pr. Paul. It was also very good to see that some of our LCMC (and other) clergy friends also were there to Worship and affirm Paul's call to serve in the community.

As Paul faced Bp. Spring, affirming his promises to serve God and the people, I was struck by this very tall man looming over Bp. Spring, yet, humbly vowing to serve, with the help of God. I knew most of the clergy there and recalled the trials that they have gone through to serve God and the community of God faithfully through the years. It has not always been easy. But, more than their faithfulness, I wondered at the faithfulness of God to serve through us, through men like Pr. Paul Strom or Bp. Paull Spring.

Who after all are we, that the LORD should have brought us so far?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2 Samuel 6 - David Dances

I like to fly kites. When I was a child, I would get a kite as a gift just about every Easter. It's almost Easter, so the other day, I asked my granddaughter where my kite was. Her response was something like: "Don't you think you're a little old to be flying kites?" You see, there are those in my family (and friends) who think I am either too old to have fun or maybe because I'm a Pastor they expect me to act in a certain way. I am not suppose to do anything that I might find enjoyable; especially not if it involves running across swamps looking up at the sky instead of where I'm going :) Grandmothers are suppose to cook, clean, do the laundry, help with school work, pray, take grandchildren shopping (or wherever they want to go), buy lots of gifts, listen to all their complaints, comfort, and most of all forgive children who start out their conversations with things like "Aren't you too old...?" But, have fun? Heaven forbid!

And what is expected of a king? You may have heard the story about David dancing in the street naked as the ark of the covenant was brought into the city of David? This is the chapter, but I'm not so sure David was naked from the reading. He was wearing a linen garment or ephod as he danced through the streets. Michal is embarrassed by his actions and I think it entirely possible that when nakedness is spoken of here, it is a metaphor for David having stripped himself of his royal dignity. He his dancing and rejoicing in the streets for the ark of the covenant is being brought into the city. God's presence is among them. Michal might be just a bit put off that her husband is rejoicing with the people. He is rejoicing in God's presence. He is acting like an excited child rather than a king or at least what Michal thinks a king should act like. David is not acting like his wife would have him act. He has been unmasked. He has shed the garments of propriety and dances like a child before God and all his people.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2 Samuel 5

Here's the first heading in this chapter: "David Anointed King of Israel."

My memory is poor but not that poor... Did not God, through Samuel, anoint David as king over Israel way back in 1 Samuel 16?

So what's with these people, that they did not believe it and accept David as king then? Why did David and Saul have to fight so many years in order for the people - all of the people - accept David as king? Was God's word through his prophet Samuel not enough? Was the Spirit of the LORD rushing upon David and being removed from Saul not enough? Did Saul and Abner and oh so many others really have to die for the people to finally accept David as the king that God had chosen for them?

In the church in order to have a call, we must first be called by God and then that is to be verified by the people whom we are called to serve. Well, all I can think this morning is that it sure has taken the people a long time and a lot of people had to die to verify David's call by God.

Soften our hearts, LORD, that we might receive all whom you send to serve. Soften our hearts, LORD, so that our own dreams and goals don't thwart the mission of your servants.

BTW - they are still fighting for property and power...

Friday, March 23, 2012

2 Samuel 4 - Ishbosheth Murdered

I am still thinking about David's righteousness when it comes to the death of Saul's family. Who can know the motivation of man? They've been warring on and off for years and when the enemy, Ishbosheth, who just happens to be the brother of Jonathan and Michal whom he loved, is killed, David takes vengeance and has the murderer put to death.

I guess I do get it, but, I also think I understand why exactly Rechab and Baanah thought this was a good thing. They certainly would not have expected for their king to hang them over it. What was the alternative? That David, as their king, would have their armies (their families and friends) continue to be killed and to kill others in battles with Saul's house? You can kill the common people, but not the king?

Who can say why David really did anything? I certainly can't. I've seen enough family feuds in my day, to know there really is no rhyme or reason to most of it. But, maybe the killing is over for awhile - at least amongst the Israelites.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2 Samuel 3 - Truce is Over

OK.. Truce is over and a long war ensues between the house of Saul and the house of David. Ishbosheth (Saul's heir)insults Abner, the commander of his troops, over a woman, a concubine. Abner's a little irritated, so he figures he's going to show Ishbosheth who really has the authority and power and it's not Ishbosheth. After all wasn't it Abner who set Ishbosheth up as a king in the first place? Abner goes to David proposing a covenant. Now that he helped to divide the people, Abner's going to bring them together under David this time. They strike a bargain again verifying that what Abner wants or orders is what Abner gets. Abner promises to ensure that David is finally accepted as king over all people of Israel and he gets him his wife Michal (Saul's daughter) back as well - much to the disappointment of her new husband.

The annointed King David and Abner, the commander of Saul's house, make peace and Abner departs.

Well, there is another commander to contend with and he's been out on a raid while David and Abner were conferring. He's been left out of the negotiations. Joab is not happy! Abner had killed Joab's brother and now it is Joab's time to avenge his brother. He kills Abner.

David's angry and curses Joab. But, with all this war and peace and war and peace, I can't help but wonder what David's motivation for being angry with Joab really was.
1. Was it really because Joab struck Abner in a time of
2. Was it because David recognized Abner's power and
authority with the people and needed him so that he
could win over all the people and be genuine king?
3. Was it because of sentiment, because of Abner
delivering his wife, Michal, whom he loved, back to
Lots of stuff go into the decision making process of a leader. Abner was surely loved by many, but there are just too many factors to make me think that all of David's grieving over Abner was because of his love of Abner. Rather, I think he knew deep down that it was politically advantageous for him to grievously grieve for Abner, in order to win Abner's followers to him. For this great man, Abner, had in fact divided the house of Israel. Abner had led an army against David and David's followers killing many, including the brother of David's commander, Joab.

Politics and war and peace... notice that this whole mess is pretty much about politics and not faith. It seems to me that God has been conspicuously quiet lately. It is about what men want and not so much about what God wants and it is a mess. When men (and women) start manipulating others to get what they want - to show their power and authority - it usually ends up in a mess.

Not our will, Lord, but yours be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2 Samuel 2 - Back At It Again - Fighting That Is

It's hard to believe, but they're fighting again! Saul has just died at the hands of the Philistines and now the Israelites are fighting again - this time with each other! Will they ever stop?

When David is annointed as King, Abner defects. He defects and makes Saul's son, Ishbosheth, king. In the end, after many causualties of Abner's men, Abner finally requests a truce. And... they all depart from the battlefield. Hopefully this truce would last for awhile. But, don't hold your breath!

Seems there is always something to fight about. Sure will be nice when there is no more war and we all live in peace.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2 Samuel 1 - David Grieves

So begins the second part of the book of Samuel with David hearing of Saul's death. He grieves for both Jonathan and Saul. He grieves for the man who pursued him and wanted him destroyed for so many years. Love is certainly strange.

In spite of all that Saul has attempted to do to David. David has been devoted to Saul. He loves him.

Too often that is how it works... Families, friends, become divided. Yet, it does not mean that they hate one another. The love is always there. Even when we go in opposite directions; even when we do not like what the other has done or is doing; even when...; no matter what; we still love them and we will grieve when their days on earth are ended.

David grieves even as he is about to become king of Israel.

Monday, March 19, 2012

1 Samuel 31 - Saul Returns to the Dust

The final chapter of 1 Samuel and Saul's last chapter as well. He has committed suicide in order to avoid torture by the enemy. All the same, he was annointed by God. He was the king of Israel and the valient men of his people honor him by retrieving his and his sons by sneaking in by night and retrieving what is left of the bodies. They are burned and their bones are buried under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh where Saul had once won his first victory over the Philistines.

I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 1 and all being vanity and from Genesis 3 "for dust you are and to dust you shall return." How sad that a man should turn his back on God and spend his whole life fighting with not only enemies, but friends as well.
How sad that from dust to dust a man should live with so much suffering brought about by his own actions or inactions.

May God help us (all who are chosen and called) to live abundant and fruitful lives according to His good will.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

1 Samuel 30 - Strategy

LOL... Now that's some kind of strategy. Not real well thought out strategy, but still interesting. While the Philistines and Israelites are busy fighting each other, the Amalekites are busy taking their property and then celebrating. Unfortunately for them, they hadn't counted on David not actively participating in the war.

After retrieving all of their property (wives and children included in that property) with interest, the spoil is shared. David insists that the booty be shared even with those who had been too sick or tired to go and get it with them. Not everyone is happy about this "share and share alike" attitude.

I think it's kind of interesting, as well, that even though David (just a chapter back) had been willing to go and fight alongside the Philistines, David is now sharing these latest spoils with his friends, the elders of Judah.

David definitely has a strategy all his own...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

1 Samuel 29 - The Philistines Watch Their Back

No matter how much Aschish trusts David, it does not matter. The rest of the Philistines do not trust this one who at one time killed ten thousands of them. The other commanders of the Philistines do not allow David and his men to join in battle with them against the Israelites.

I'm afraid I'd have to agree with the other commanders. David is an Israelite and the Philistines are the enemy of the Israelites. It would be like living in a den with a lion. Not many of us would survive an experiment like that!

If you read verse 2 again, you'll see that David had been in the rear. If you were a Philistine, would you want David covering your back? When and if you go to war with someone, you really want someone with you that you are confident will watch your back, and not someone who might thrust a spear through it. We do battle every day - against our own sinful natures - against the wiles of the devil in this world as he strikes out against our neighbors, our families, the world. Thanks be to God that we have one with us who has definitely got our backs. Thanks be to God for our Savior, Jesus the Christ!

Friday, March 16, 2012

1 Samuel 28:15 - Saul and Medium of Endor

Well, I could tell from the heading of this chapter that Saul was going to be in trouble.

He's already in trouble for the LORD will not talk speak to him either by prophets or dreams. But, I guess it's not enough for Saul. In spite of the fact that God forbids bringing people back from the dead in order to consult with them, Saul goes to a medium who raises up Samuel up from the dead for him. Course then again, we cannot be sure if the spirit that was raised was actually Samuel or another spirit as it does not sound like Saul actually saw Samuel, rather the medium gave him a description of what she said she saw. (vs. 13-14) Saul for some reason thinks Samuel might give him a message from God. Samuel does not. Saul received only a repeat of the last words that Samuel said to him before he died with the additional warning that tomorrow he and his sons will be with Saul. Simply put - they will die.

Conjuring up spirits that may or may not be dead relatives or friends is forbidden by God and will bring you nothing but trouble. Please, stay away from fortune tellers and mediums, for your own sake. If you need answers to the direction you should go: study His word, and listen to the Word. You will find all you need in Him. Don't be like Saul, adding one misstep upon the other.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

1 Samuel 27 - Allies

Is there anything new under the sun?

It was a bit tedious this morning reading about how David was given a city by Achish as though they were allies and how David went about raiding the other border cities in the land of the Philistines. Sounds a bit like the way countries today still work their politics. One can never know who their true ally really is. Allies come and go as sure as the seasons change and sometimes just as fast! One day we're arming and training another country's military and the next our sons and daughters are being killed by the same. Will we never learn?

Apparently Achish doesn't have a clue that trusting David could turn out very non-beneficial for his people. Achish actually trusts David in spite of the fact that David had previously killed "ten thousands" Philistines in the past. Achish leaves David alone in this border city of Ziklag.

May the LORD help us to deal honestly with our neighbors and they with us.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1 Samuel 26

Another opportunity to destroy the one who pursues him. He sneaks in to Saul's camp and takes his spear from beside his head. Can you imagine, the courage, the audacity? But, David will not lay a hand on the LORD's anointed. He will not kill Saul even though Saul has come out against him, again.

Again, the two depart in peace and go there separate ways.

Another awesome example of loving even your enemy.

"On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'" Rom 12:20 NIV see also Prov 25:21-22

If we could but all have the courage to love and to show mercy as David did. David is not afraid of his pursuers. He stops and stands and confronts them. He is not afraid. The LORD is with him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

1 Samuel 25 - Happily Ever After

Samuel is dead, apparently of old age.

Nabal's does not get to live out his natural life span. He is an old (maybe not too old) crank who thinks only of himself. He is ill-tempered and disrepectful to David. David seeks to kill him when he hears of Nabal's disrespect. But, Nabal's wife, Abigail, goes to David and intercedes for Nabal and Nabal's life is spared. But, the LORD avenges David. By the hand of the LORD Nabal dies.

I often wonder when I read or hear this story if Abigail goes to David to spare her own life or the life of Nabal or both. Usually, my answer is both. After all, if Nabal dies, who will care for her? Maybe, David understands this and because of Abigail's pleas, has mercy on her and spares them both. But, the LORD has other plans. The LORD avenges David, releasing Abigail from the marriage to Nabal by striking him dead. Abigail marries David and lives happily ever after. Well, not so sure about the happily ever after. But, she is now married to one who can protect and provide for her.

Not many of us get to live the happily ever after. The only real happily ever after is in the kingdom of God - united (reunited) with God our Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Here's the union that will bring true peace and joy - the happy ever after... And from this relationship, all other relationships will fall into a peaceful place..

God's peace be with you... this day.

Monday, March 12, 2012

1 Samuel 24 - Momentary Peace

Saul still pursuing David to destroy him... But, David shows mercy to God's annointed. He does not kill him. As Saul enters alone into the cave to relieve himself, David who has hidden himself with his men in the cave, sneaks up on him and cuts off part of Saul's cloak. David will not kill him. Rather than kill him, he pays homage to Saul. Saul goes home. They depart in peace.

I'm thinking this is what Jesus meant when he said we are to love even our enemies. (Matt 5:43-45) I am quite sure that the very positive action of David not killing Saul has not brought an undying love to either of their hearts for the others. But, it has brought them peace, reconciliation, at least for the time being. At least for now, there will be no killing.

And... may the peace of the LORD be with you all.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

1 Samuel 23

Seems to me like Saul and David both spend an awful lot of their lives fighting or running or hiding. Just doesn't sound like real good stewardship of their time! Wish they'd get along already.

I am sorry that I'm late with the post today. I was with a group of people who were intent on enjoying life. No fighting... It was good. We spent the weekend at the best youth retreat I have ever attended. Thanks to Gloria Dei Lutheran, Tomah, WI for organizing it! It was awesome! For the first time ever we actually did mission at every break away rather than just talk about it. We made dresses for little girls in Haiti, heart pins for the Tomah Area Cancer Support Group to support area cancer patients, and book marks and hair ribbons to along with care packages to a bus ministry in Wilmer, Al. Plus - they spent hours in Worship with Peder Eide leading - not to mention hours in a waterpark as well. We had a great time! Hopefully, I will be back on track tomorrow morning with David saving Saul's life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

1 Samuel 22 - Happy youth

Focus is pretty off this mmorning... At Three Bears Lodge (a waterpark) with some of our Jr. High and High School Youth. Really nice place. Unlike David, who is surrounded by people in trouble or owed money or generally unhappy, I am surrounded by happy - happy and talkng people. Although it has been mentioned that the music could be sped up. Afraid I can't focus enough to write any more - please read Chapter 22 anyway...

Friday, March 9, 2012

1 Samuel 21

Well, what was David thinking!? He has killed tens of thousands of Philistines and now, on the run, he has it in his head to go and hide out at Gath, a major city of the Philistines. I don't know, maybe he was planning to defect. Did he think that maybe no one would recognize the great and famous David?

Well, they do recognize him and he's got to come up with something quick. He gets a little anxious. Scripture says he was much afriad. So David defends himself in a most unusual (but, not so uncommon as some might think). David defends himself by acting like a madman, a lunatic. If you're afraid of someone and you are out-numbered what can you do? The best defense in this case might be a good offense. But, how can one man intimidate (scare) a whole city? Unfortunately, even today, most people really don't know what to do with those who have serious mental health issues so they steer clear of them. So, David uses their own fears against them. He acts the madman.

I remember one young man that I worked with years ago. He was much smaller, at least in height, than most of the teens his age. He had some serious emotional issues. He also had serious behavioral issues. The behavorial issues were symptoms of the emotional. His behavioral problems were actually his only defense against the world. What he used to protect himself because up 'till that time no one else had. He had been neglected and abused. He acted out and was sent away by the judge. I ended up as one of his caregivers. When I first met him, he put on a real good show. He went to a lot of trouble to try to intimidate me and acting as though he was totally insane. He was not. He used David's tactics. To protect himself, to keep from being hurt by anyone else, he "acted the madman" as David had. In reality, once he began to learn to trust a little, this young man was caring and giving. He would not intentionally hurt anyone. He was just alone and afraid.

I can't help it; when I see children really acting out, I often wonder, what are they trying to protect themselves from? What are they afraid of?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

1 Samuel 20 - David and Jonathan's Love

I hope that yesterday's posting didn't confuse anyone. Seems, I got things a little out of order. Hopefully, I am back on track today.

Jonathan was a bit confused, it seems, too. Because of his love for David, at first he could not fathom the possibility that his father, Saul, would want David killed. But, he does. Saul wants David dead so that the kingdom will be inherited by his own son, Jonathan. But, then he tries to kill his own son by throwing a spear at him. He misses - thanks be to God. But, Jonathan's eyes are opened. He sees that his father's lust for power has driven him a bit bonkers.

Can you imagine a love, a faithfulness as great as Jonathan's? He does not care about ruling over kingdoms. He cares about his relationship with David. He puts the first thing first. David, in return, loves this son of the man who wants him dead.

Jonathan risks a lot in protecting David. What, I wonder, would we do to protect those whom we love from being persecuted at the hands of others?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

1 Samuel 18-19 - Jealousy

Well, here goes for the second time this morning. Lost everything the first time! Don't know what's going on with the internet. It's something I can do nothing about.

There are certain things that none of us can do anything about. There were certain things Saul could do nothing about, either. God had chosen David to replace him and David succeeded in everything he attempted while Saul failed. Although his children, Jonathan and Michael loved David, Saul's jealousy of David turned to anger and fear. And... when fear struck he attempted to make sure that David would die.

When I teach the 10 commandments, those ones about coveting seem to be the hardest for young people to comprehend the whys of it. Why is it so bad to be want the things that others have. Because... wanting - jealousy leads you down a path of destruction. It can be be destructive to you as well as the person whose things you want. Jealously, as it grows within a person, can lead even to death, if not of the body (which in fact does happen) but of the spirit.

Saul's whole life ends up one of pursuing the death of David. What a way to live: pursuing death instead of life!

May God help us to support our neighbor to keep all that he has accumulated, all that God has given us and to live lives in thanksgiving for what we have received, for the very life we have been given in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

1 Samuel 18

Saul's jealousy turns to fearful awe to just plain old fear. Saul, it seems does not understand the concept of doing for the good of all people. He's a jealous man, a jealous king, looking to be #1 in the eyes of the all the people. He has an ego and that ego is telling him that David is stealing his parade.

So in jealousy, Saul tries to kill David with his spear twice and then by sending him out to kill 100 Philistines with the hopes that they will kill David. All of this to no avail. The Spirit of the LORD is with David and David succeeds in all that he does. The people love David. Saul's children Jonathan and Michal love David.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1 Samuel 17 - The Rock That Saved

Not with shield and sword, but with a rock, with a tiny rock the mighty Goliath is overcome. Hopefully, you've all read this story this morning. You probably all remember it from before. It's a good story. No, it's a great story. The army of the Philistine's is super intimidating. The Israelites under Saul's leadership are pretty much shaking in their boots. No one dares enter into combat with the mighty Goliath, who towers over all at over 9 foot tall.

No one dares but the one who has been annointed to be their king. David, who has had the power of the Spirit of God poured out over him, dares. His faith tells him that the LORD, God will deliver Goliath into his hands. And He does.

As I was reading, a few other verses from scripture came to mind so I'm sharing them with you this morning.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Monday, March 5, 2012

1 Samuel 16 - Servant/King

The Spirit of the LORD departs from Saul and is upon David. It is just amazing how all things work together for good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28) Everything just seems to slide into place. How? God just kind of works things out. It is all worked out so that the one who has lost favor with God comes to be served by the one who has found favor. David eases Saul's spirit by playing sweet music to refresh him and restore him to health and wholeness.

Since most of us know the rest of the story, we remember that David becomes a servant/king just as our Lord, Jesus Christ is a servant/king - a king who died that we might too might be might be healed and be found in God's favor. And... that not in order for us to be high-handed and demanding to be served by others. But, as servants following in the way of Jesus Christ, we live in service to God and to our neighbor.

We thank God this morning for his only begotten Son, who was willing to serve His Father in heaven and all of us who repeatedly put our own desires before the will of our Father, by giving His life for us at Calvary.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

1 Samuel 15 - Interesting but Tough

Wow! Some of these old testament stories sure are tough! They are interesting, but tough! I thank the LORD that He has made a new covenant with us through Jesus the Christ! For under the standards of the old covenant, we would all surely fall.

Saul is rejected for not having killed the choicest animals or Agag when God commanded him to. Course then his motivation was probably not to sacrifice the animals to God, nor was it to spare Agag because he liked him. Rather, it was more likely to show him that he could if he wanted to. Saul wanted to show his authority and power. And... that is what God objected to. God is God. Saul is not.

I love Samuel! So... in your face. He does not let Saul get away with his feeble excuses. He calls his actions for what they are. He tells it exactly like it is. "Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." (vs.23). So matter of fact. But, on the other hand it also reminds me to thank God that He has made a new covenant through Jesus the Christ, our Saviour and LORD.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

1 Samuel 14 - Rash Vows

Most of us have made them - vows in haste - vows made without thinking. But, what was Saul thinking? He declares a fast for this multitude of men and threatens them with a curse if they break it! Maybe, the new found authority and power he had went to his head as he didn't bother to think that somone among these people would break it without thinking.

The LORD's hand is with Jonathan as he overthrows the band of Philistines. Yet, Jonathan is condemned by his own father's rash vow. Thanks be to God - the people interceded for Jonathan and "ransomed" him so that he was allowed to live. We too have been condemned by the rash words of our lips. Yet, there is one who intercedes for us. Thanks be to God - for Jesus the Christ who on the cross ransomed himself for us; who died that we might live.

Friday, March 2, 2012

1 Samuel 13 - Waiting for Clergy

Lots to think about in today's chapter. This having to wait around for Samuel makes me just a little uncomfortable. In my own congregation, I know that if I were to be late, they would begin worship without me. They were trained by the Pastor before me to do that. They were at one time a two-point Parish and sometimes the Pastor got delayed. I think, that I have always made it on time, sometimes it was a close one, but always made it. There have also been times when we have had pulpit supply and the clergy either forgot (Wednesday Lent Services) or got lost since we're so remote. When and if the clergy show up, they take over from wherever the congregation is. The congregation here just has this idea that worship doesn't depend on me or any other clergy. They are correct. If we're late or forget - it should still happen - with or without us.

When the Finnish congregations in the mid-west of this country were first formed by immigrants, many worship services were lay led. Some parishes had 5 and 6 and even more congregations. The few clergy could not be everywhere. I believe it is the same in Russia (I mention this because I know that there are a few hits every day to this blog from Russia). It has been about 10 years since I was able to visit some of the Russian congregations, but I do recall that some were lay led because of lack of clergy. Mission, evangelism, spreading the good news of the kingdom is what all members of the Body of Christ are called to do. It is good to have clergy to lead us, but you can't wait for us to show up when something needs doing - when the Gospel needs proclaiming - when the people are gathered and desire to bring their offerings of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

1 Saumel 12 - Keep on Praying

Ever get tired of praying for someone? After a few decades you begin to wonder if they will every repent - if they will ever turn to the LORD and receive the blessings He so graciously has given them?

Samuel warns the people. They have been evil in asking for an earthly king and he warns them not to forget the LORD. He tells them, "..Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless. For the LORD will not cast away his people..." (12:20-22) Even though we sin against God, even though we've turned our back to Him, we can be assured that He loves us, and desires that we should turn around and love and serve Him.

God never gives up on us nor should we ever give up on others. In fact, Samuel considers it a sin against God to stop praying for others. "Morevoer as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you..." (12:23)

Can you imagine as a parent giving up on your children? Can you imagine ceasing your prayers for them? I know there are a few in this world who could care less about their children and would indeed give them a snake rather than a fish. (Luke 11:11) But, most of us would not. We desire good things for our children, the best life, just as God our Father desires the best lift for all of His children.

Let us not quit praying for all our sons and daughters, for all our neighbors, that they may be saved and serve the LORD with gladness as His beloved children. That all might know and receive and live in His blessings.