Monday, April 30, 2012

1 Kings 18

Wow!  Elijah is way cool... Not that I'm idolizing him or anything...  I sure hope none of you are skipping reading 1 Kings 18.  God takes care of those prophets who are worshipping and leading the people to worship false gods.  Note, God doesn't actually defeat the false gods.  He defeats the false prophets.  After all, what false gods were there to actually defeat?  Baal is nothing.  Baal cannot hear the false prophets and so Baal cannot answer their request. 

Now, if we are honest with ourselves, we're probably not so unlike those people of two-minds; "limping between two different opinions" (18:21)  For example:  which false god were you bowing down to yesterday?  In the morning when many were at worship?  Where were you?  What were you worshipping?  What about the rest of the day?  What was it you were worshipping?  Since, I get to encounter issues with gambling quite frequently, let me ask you ask (if you're a gambler):  "How is that going for you?  Has that metal god answered your prayers?  Has it heard your cries for love, for protection, for guidance?  Or, has it taken much from you as you made your offerings to this clanging steel god? 

Time to quit limping between two different opinions.  God is God.  Baal is not.  There is only one God!  Look to Him, for in Him there is life and salvation. 

BTW:  How'd you like to be able to run like Elijah?  Ahab left for Jezreel in a carriage before Elijah left on foot.  Elijah got to Jezreel first!  The hand of the LORD was on Elijah! (18-46)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

1 Kings 17 - Elijah

Ahab, the most wicked king to date is in charge of Israel.  That would be trouble, I believe for everyone concerned.  He has set up an altar to Baal and he and his wife Jezebel worship him - that is Baal.  Bad news for Ahab.  Bad news for the people.

God sends a prophet and a drought.  No water.  No rain.  No dew.  And... it is not any prophet, but Elijah.  Of course, Elijah is probably not that well known at this point in the story.  But, he will become one of the most well-known in history. 

Elijah is an interesting character in that he appears to trust God so completely.  If God says go and say this, he says it.  If God says go and hide near the brook so that you will have water and I will send ravens to feed you, does Elijah question Him?  No, he does not question God.  Elijah just does it. 

And when Elijah speaks what God has told him to speak, others listen.  The woman and her son are about to die of starvation.  But, when Elijah says, the Lord said to feed me first and he will provide for you throughout this drought, she listens and feeds Elijah first.  She gives all that she has, trusting in this word from the LORD and she is provided for. 

Finally, the breath of life left the widow's son.  Simply put, he is dead and Elijah calls upon the LORD to give the son life once again and it is done.  In this story, we are reminded of the power of God to resurrect the dead.  It is not so unlike the story of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter; however, Jesus only had to say the word for the daughter to be raised.  (Luke 8:40-53) Elijah had to call upon God and implore the LORD to give the child life. 

The final words in this chapter by the woman to Elijah are interesting.  "Now I know that you are a man of God,a nd that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth." If she did not believe this before, why did she give him her last meal?  Hope, charity, love?  These of course are great things, but, understand it took a resurrection for her to have faith.

May you be blessed with an abundance of faith.  God's Peace - Pr. Judy

Saturday, April 28, 2012

1 Kings 16 - Going Thru A Lot of Wicked Kings

The list of wicked kings in Israel goes on and on....  I can't help but wonder what God was thinking putting them in that position in the first place.  Nevertheless, He doesn't leave them there for long.

Asa, of Judah, is still hanging in there, though.  He is the king who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and got rid of all the idols that his fathers had made.   Asa reigned for 41 years.  His reign over Judah spanned the time-period of seven kings of Israel.  Unfortunately, in the 36th year of his reign, near the end of his reign and life, Asa began to trust men more than God (2 Chron 16).      

I wonder how often we trust in humankind rather than God?  How often do we make bargains with the world to preserve those things which we hold dear in this world? 

May God grant you the faith to trust in Him above all others; that it may be well with you as you follow in the path that has been set before you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

1 Kings 15- Too Many Kings

I can see it's going to be a challenge to try to keep track of all the kings from both Judah and Israel.  It is a sad thing that they have divided as it has brought about way too much division and war. 

In recent history of the Lutheran Church, many members and congregations have left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and joined other denominations.  Many did this because of what some would call their bound conscience.  Some say they are bound to the Word of God and to the sharing of the Word with others.  That, they felt was no longer happening in their former denomination.  It was felt, by some, that there were way too much politics going on - that the tenet of separation of church and state was being eroded and not just by the state, but by the church as well and that this was restricting time and opportunities for evangelism.  Regardless of reasons, in many cases, there has been somewhat of a war going on.  Those who left are persecuted in some corners of the country by some of those who have stayed.  And... some of those who have stayed are persecuted by some of those who left. 

It ought not be.  The tribes of Israel are divided and some shall disappear into nothingness.  What shall become of you if you continue to persecute and war with your fellow Christian?  What shall become of the church if we spend our time engaging in battle with each other rather than battling the spiritual forces in dark places?  How will the church grow if we give up on sharing the Good News and Worshipping God, hearing His Word, receiving His Sacraments? 

Jesus did not come for political power either in the world or in the church on earth.  He came that all people might be saved through faith.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

1 Kings 14 - Misdirected Love and Worship

The results of worshipping false gods...  It is not good.... I just don't get it.  God had delivered the people time and time again.  One would think the Exodus from Egypt would be enough.  He has blessed them abundantly.  Yet, the people turn from Him.  The kings he has chosen for the people turn them away from Him.  Should they not be rejoicing in the God who saved them and saves them from themselves?

Should not we set aside our false gods and give thanks daily, minutely, to God for all that He has done; for sending his Son, our Saviour, that we might be reconciled to God, our Father?  I don't get it.  How can our hearts be so hard?  Our minds so stubborn, that we could turn our backs on one who loves us so much? 

Oh, I just remembered how!  We are sinners, through and through!  I just remembered the multitudes of homes and families where love is one-sided.  Where one person will give their all to love and serve their children or spouses or parents and that love is not returned.  Rather they are neglected or abused instead.  The love they so desire is given to others - those who do not love them in return.  So, it seems it is with God.  Loving us so deeply that He would give His owns Son that we might live in a loving relationship with him. 

"...God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8

Yet, He does not receive our love in return.  The love and faithfulness that belong to Him is given to other gods. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

1 Kings 13

Do we listen to the warnings?  Jeroboam didn't.  We will see what consequences will fall on him and those who follow him and his false gods.  Even the man who prophesied against the altar did listen and stick to God's warnings.  He attempted to, but he believed a false report of the LORD's word from a prophet and he did what the LORD had told him not to do.  He believed the prophet who lied and he died.  

Nothing will happen.  Don't worry about it.  Everyone does it.  Because, just about everyone you know worships false gods, does not make it right.  It does not make it good for you.  There is only one God.  Worship Him and Him only!  Don't be listening to friends that will advise you that God hasn't directed something that He has.  Don't be listening to friends that will advise you that there are no consequences for worshipping other gods.  If you purposely turn to other gods, you purposely turn away from the one true God who is the way and the truth and the life!

It is very sad indeed to consider how many "Christians" I know and to also know who their gods really are.  It is too much to think about for very long periods of time.  Just a very sad thing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

1 Kings 12 - Israel Divided

Solomon has gone to "sleep with his fathers" and Rehoboam, his son, is now king.  Apparently, Israel was not so enamored with King Solomon's power over them as one might suppose.  The people go to Rehoboam and ask him to lighten the yoke upon them.  But, King Rehoboam, in his arrogance will not.  Instead, he increases their yoke and the people rebel. 

The promise, the threat, that the LORD made to Solomon to divide the kingdom under his son's rule because of Solomon's disloyalty to God is fulfilled.  Israel is divided.  Rehoboam reigns in Jerusalem.  Only the tribe of Judah follows him.  Jeroboam becomes king over the rest of Israel. 

But, what is it that these kings with worshipping idols.  Jeroboam doesn't want the people to go to Jerusalem to worship because he's afraid their hearts might turn to Rehoboam.  So what does he do?  He builds 2 golden calves, 2 false gods, for them to worship.  Not good!  So what's to become of Jeroboam?  What's to become of the people who follow after him and his false gods?

Monday, April 23, 2012

1 Kings 11 - The LORD gives and takes away.

The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away... For all his wisdom, what was Solomon thinking?! 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines! They turned Solomon away from serving the LORD his God fully. In his ego and desire to please his women, Solomon builds high places so that the false gods of his foreign wives can be sacrificed to. Did he forget that he was blessed because God chose to bless him? The land has enjoyed peace, but, that is about to end. God is not pleased with Solomon's backsliding and Israel is about to be torn asunder. But, not quite, yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

1 Kings 10 - Solomon as Good Steward

The legendary story of the Queen of Sheba.... We don't get to know her name. We just know that she went to Solomon to see if the stories about his wisdom and wealth were true. She sought his wisdom and she gave him many gifts of gold, spices, and precious stones.

Last Wednesday at another Bible study, we discussed where Solomon had gotten all that gold, that was put in the temple, from. One of the options we came up with was that maybe some of it was left to him by David. But, probably not. Here we get at least part of the answer. It was gifts. Kings and queens sent him gifts of gold! Solomon also did a lot of trading with kings from other areas.

Solomon was wise, indeed. It reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the 10 coins. When the master returned as king, he found that the first servant had invested and used his coins wisely. Because he had used the king's property wisely for the king's benefit; the king told him, "Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities." (Luke 19:17)

Solomon was wise and he was blessed. But, he was also wise because he was blessed. May God help us to be as wise as Solomon, and to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given us.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

1 Kings 9 - No Other Gods!

No other Gods! The LORD's name will dwell in the temple forever. His eyes and are heart will be there for as long as Solomon, and Solomon's children and their children, will keep the covenant that was made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. The LORD promises and at the same time warns Solomon that as long as worship of the one true God continues faithfully, God's name will abide in the temple. When they turn aside and worship other gods, then this temple that Solomon built for the LORD will be destroyed.

Where is the temple of God today? We know, like Solomon, that there is no one place that contain God. His temple could not. (1 Kings 8:27) God is much greater, much more, than anyone can begin to imagine. He expanses the universes - all that is! And.. He alone should be worshipped. There is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6)

So what is it we should be learning from Solomon this morning? Maybe, that we should worship no other gods before the one true God? (Ex 20:2-4; Deut 5:7) God is good. He has blessed His children, Israel. He will bless all who worship and serve Him. He will bless who love Him. But, for those who will serve other gods, He will remove his name from the temple - that temple will be destroyed.

Today we hear good and bad news - law and gospel - in one lump (as we do quite often). It is the law to those those who have turned their backs to worship other gods and it is the gospel to those who believe. It is good news to those who would worship the one true God.

I pray that hearts would be opened, that eyes would see, and ears would hear the good news of the kingdom of God given for all, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Not going to ramble any longer today... I could, but not going to... May the peace of the LORD be with you all...

Friday, April 20, 2012

1 Kings 8 - God Gets The Glory!

The temple is complete. The ark of the covenant resides there. The people celebrate. Who gets the glory? We would do well to remember this... God gets the glory. Solomon directed the construction of the temple. The hands of many multitudes of people built it. Yet, Solomn gives God all the glory! Now, that is a wise man, indeed!

God has fulfilled His promises! It has taken a couple of generations, but the promise is a promise and it is fulfilled.

Solomon's prayer of dedication is just awesome. He lifts God up in prayer, praise and thanksgiving. He highly exalts Him. God is bigger than any temple can contain, he says. It enough and more than enough that the name of the LORD shall dwell in the temple and that the LORD's eyes shall always be upon it. Solomon thanks God, that from His dwelling place in heaven, the LORD will hear the prayers of the people who direct them to His Name that resides in the temple.

It's a good prayer. It's a great prayer, as Solomon reveals his faith in the LORD. His trust is in the LORD to deliver on His promises, to hear the prayers of the people, and answer. He thanks God. He rejoices in God, for God is good and has been good to David and to the people, Israel. (vs.66)

That being said, now remember what the Israelites lives were like under David. Remember all those wars to gain and retain their land? But, still, Solomon confesses that the LORD has been good to David and all of Israel. They trusted in God's promises. God was with them. God is good. He is with us always. Even in times when things don't seem like they're so good to his children, we can know peace. We can know the peace that surpasses all understanding as we trust in His promises for us.

Ok... that's enough :) I could rattle on and on about the goodness of God, about how He is faithful. Yet, I'm not sure how faithful we are to trust in things of this world before we trust the LORD, God. But, it is spring time and I have a burial this morning - a chance once again to remember that our lives are eternally in God's hands.

God's Peace be with you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

1 Kings 7 - Solomon's Palace - Solomon's Treasure

My granddaughter and I had a whole lot of errands to take care of yesterday. In one town, there are these huge houses. They are actually old mining houses that use to house 2 or more families. The homes have been renovated to house 1 family. They are impressive and owning one is a temptation as they are relatively inexpensive for the amount of footage. She was really excited about the possibility of one day living in a house the size of some of them. Then we talked about the job market in the area which at the present time is about nil. We talked about if she would really like to live in a large town with neighbors on every side or out in the country or in the woods. She thought neighbors aren't so bad when you can live in houses like that, but she also likes her privacy. So the temptation of a huge house, at least in that town, disappeared for her.

Did you notice in the reading today that Solomon's palace is larger than the temple? And... it took much longer to build the palace than the temple? Priorities! I guess if you're king, you can live any where you want and you can order anyone you want to build anything you want. It's notable that Solomon directed the building of the temple. But, I personally would think that if our focus is truley on serving God, we would spend more time and energy building up God's temple rather than our own.

Where is our priority? Is it in building up the Body of Christ, the temple of God which will last eternally? Or... is it in building up our own little palaces that will rot and blow away with the wind? Yes, we need shelter. We need homes to live in and to serve from. But, how do we balance what we do for our own selves (not our needs, but wants) and what we do to glorify God?

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." (Matt 6:21 and Luke 12:34)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1 Kings 6 - Smells of the Temple

The description of Solomon's Temple always boggles my mind. It is hard to actually imagine what it actually looks like from just reading the description.

The first thing that comes to mind; though, is not what it looks like, but what it smells like. I love cedar trees! I live in a swamp with at least a few cedars standing around. I love walking down the path just to be able to breathe in their aroma.

But, I wonder if once the offerings and sacrifices were begun in the temple, if that cedar scent remained in the temple or did the smell of burned fat and flesh overwhelm the building so much that the sweet smell of cedar was a thing of the past?

What an amazing building this temple must have been! So many offerings went into the building - so much of the people's time, talents, and gifts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1 Kings 5 - Peace and Glory

There is peace in the land; therefore, Solomon's begins to build a house for the LORD's name. Would it, could it, also be said: Solomon begins to build a house for the LORD's name; therefore, there is peace in the land? Are both true statements?

The people of God have been at war since Israel and are still at it today. If we spent more time proclaiming the name of the LORD, would peace subsequently follow? Just wondering... It may or not bring world peace - probably not... Jesus did say he came not to bring peace, but a sword. But, I do think that if we were truly about giving glory to God's name, we would know peace within ourselves and a greater peace within the church on earth, among God's people.

God's peace be with you all..

Monday, April 16, 2012

1 Kings 4 - Solomon

All those names to remember! Two Azariahs even! I know I won't be remembering them; therefore, an earmark so I can refresh my memory when I need to know who is who in Solomon's court.

"Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea" under Solomon's rule. And...exactly how huge is Solomon's household? Take a good look at how much it took to feed his household each day: 180 bushels of flour, 360 bushels meal, ten oxen, 20 cattle, 100 hundred sheep, besides a whole lot of wild game. Course then, he probably had to feed those who slaughtered and cooked all these animals, as well. And, who gets to wash all those dishes?

Solomon leads the people with wisdom and they live in peace. It's about time!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

1 Kings 3 - Who's Your Mother

First question that comes to mind this morning, is why are they sacrificing in "high places?" What happened to that huge tent that they carried through the desert?

While at Gibeon(I'm thinking this is the last place the tabernacle was located - but - going to be late for Worship today if I try looking it up) offering sacrifices, God speaks to Solomon in a dream. God grants Solomon his request for the wisdom to know what is right. The chapter ends with the familiar story of the two women fighting over one child. Solomon in his wisdom discerns the woman who will protect the child's life is the mother. He grants her custody.

Who is your mother? Today so many people are raised by people who are not their birth parents. It is confusing for children. They want to be loved by their parents. Who is their mother or father? The ones who love them so much that they will care for, provide for, and protect them.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

1 Kings 2 - Peacetime Killings & Biases

David is dead and his son, Solomon reigns. In time of peace, Solomon has his political enemies put to death. Solomon has Joab killed for killing (avenging) 2 men in a time of peace. Both of these deaths, at the hands of Joab, took place while David was in charge. Yup! Makes sense to me. Sorry, I am not sure why I think I need to focus on defending Joab. I just can't seem to help it. Seems to me he has done his best to do what is right for the people. David and Solomon had biases against Joab. I have a bias that favors him.

Joab has given much - at least that's my opinion - which reminds me to remind you that this blog is here to help those who are reading the Bible from front to back to keep on reading, one or two chapters at a time. Much of what I write is gut reaction. It will sometimes reveal my biases - my opinions - which are not necessarily truth. Do NOT take everything I write as gospel. But, hopefully what I write will help you to think a little more about what you've read and maybe recognize some of your own biases in understanding what you read.

Friday, April 13, 2012

1 Kings 1 - Kings Alone

David is near the end of his reign. He appears to be quite elderly. He can't seem to get warm. So who do they send in to the king to keep him warm? One of his wives? No, a beautiful young woman goes in to keep him warm. Maybe having so many wives is not so good after all? Might be a nice status symbol, but where is the relationship.

And... what kind of relationship does David have with his sons? It's about time for one of his sons to take over as king. Will it be the older one, Adonijah. No, it is the younger brother Solomon who has David's favor. The younger is chosen over the elder brother. That sounds like a setup for more family dysfunction - maybe a family feud.

David does not seem to handle relationships real well. As a warrior king it seems he has missed out on genuine caring and trusting relationships - always a struggle. Such a large family, yet he seems so alone. That may just be the price to pay for power - the price to secure the kingdom.

There is yet another kingdom and king to consider. How alone was Jesus when he hung on that cross ushering in the Kingdom of God? How alone is he? Do we truly love him or just grateful that he died for us and brought us that kingdom? Thank you Jesus for dying for me, now let me go do my own thing? Is that it? Do you really love Jesus, the Messiah, the King?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2 Samuel 24 - Counting

Joab's still around... He's apparently not one of David's favorites, but, he's still hanging in there serving him. David is still using his skills as a commander.

David wants Joab to count all the people of Israel. Joab warns David against that. David orders Joab to count them, anyway. Turns out, David should have listened to Joab. God is not happy about the counting of the people and sends a pestilence on Israel that kills 70,000 men. It doesn't say how many women and children may have died.

David purchases some land, builds an altar, and makes burnt and peace offerings there. This appeases the LORD and the plague is over.

The other day while searching for the order of service for Maundy Thursday in Zion's email inbox, I ran across the congregation's annual report that was suppose to be filled out. I don't normally check the mail at the church, so it was fortunate that I ran across it. I really dislike annual reports! I got stuck on the first page. What year was the congregation formed. I looked it up yesterday in the files at the church. Zion's Articles of Confederation were approved by members on January 31, 1893. So now I can finish the first page of the report and go on to the second which I'm pretty sure is going to be sending me back to the archives for numbers I could've and probably should've looked up yesterday. But, I didn't think about it. The way the program is set up, I wasn't sure if I checked out the second page if I could get back to the first page :) Anyway, we keep good track of our members and of attendance... But, after reading this chapter, I wonder if we should be counting people at all! It takes very little time to count our attendance at Worship. But, I wonder about the stewardship of time in keeping track, of counting, members. Membership rosters take a whole lot more time than the 3 or 4 minutes counting attendance. From the reading on David's census, seems to me God would prefer we spend the time worshipping him rather than counting people.

Unfortunately, the counting and tracking of voting members will have to continue. It is not for the sake of the church, but, because of our constitutions, required by the state, to be non-profit organizations. So we'll keep counting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2 Samuel 23 - David's List of Favorites

David has a long list of valient men here. But, one is missing. Joab, his commander, is missing. He has fought valiently for David, for Israel. But, there were a few things that he participated in that David would not have him do. 1. He avenged the blood of his brother. 2. He had David's son, Absalom, killed when they found him hanging in a tree; subsequently, securing David's role as king once more. Now, I'm saying that Abner was righteous. He did, also, have a hand with David in Uriah's death. But, when one decides they are going to make a living at war, they should probably understand that as they take the sword against others, it will also be turned on them, not even always by the enemies, but by those they might consider a friend and ally.

But, David's decision to leave Joab out still doesn't make sense to me. Even kings chosen by God seem to make bad decisions. That is they did until we come to the time of Jesus. At that time, our King, decided for God's will and not his. Instead of taking lives for his kingdom to grow, he gave his own life. What a turn around from previous kings!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2 Samuel 22 - David's Song of Deliverance

David's Song of Deliverance... David rightly gives credit to God for all his successess. He praises God who is his rock and fortress and deliverer. And ours...

Whenever we are in distress, we can trust that the LORD is with us. We can lean upon Him. He will protect us. He will deliver us from all evil.

Let us all praise the LORD! "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation."! (22:47)

Monday, April 9, 2012

2 Samuel 21 - Enough Bloodshed

The Israelites are starving and God apparently wants an offering of blood from Saul's house for the lives of the Gibeonites that Saul had taken. The Gibeonites only want 7 of Saul's sons so that they can hang them in payment for the blood that was previously shed. Saul has been long dead, so have most of his sons. Here go 7 more. I wonder if he has any more who can pay the penalty for this king's, this father's, sins?

I can not really understand this need for justice - that so many end up dying for the sins of one man. But, then I suppose more were involved in the deaths of the Gibeonites than just the king.

Thanks be to God for our Saviour, Jesus the Christ, who willingly paid the penalty for our sins. It is not quite fair, it seems, that Jesus should die for our sins. But, I thank him for that sacrifice so that multitudes of generations will not have to die for sins committed by not only themselves but their fathers and their fathers' fathers.

Enough bloodshed. Let there be peace - the peace that only Jesus can give.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

2 Samuel 20 - Warrior King and Prince of Peace

Amasa is finished. Joab takes care of that. Joab is in charge once again - no question about that. Amasa is dead.

Sheba is also dead. The rebellion is over (I wonder for how long). A wise woman had the people in the city take his head and throw it over the wall to Joab in order to avoid having the city taken by Joab and his army.

David's reign has been up-to-date quite full of rebellion, of trickery and treachery, of warfare. King David has certainly not reigned the people in peace. Yet, David is the LORD's chosen. And.. the LORD restores the throne to David reminding us of God's promise to raise up, through David, a son, who would be the everylasting Prince of Peace. That promise has been fulfilled.

It is Easter morning. He is Risen! Our King reigns!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

2 Samuel 19 - Rejoice or Mourn

Absalom is dead, David has regained the city by the hand of his servants. Instead of rejoicing over the victory and thanking those who helped David get back what was his, David grieves for Absalom. He weeps so openly that his followers are ashamed to rejoice themselves. Their rejoicing has turned into mourning. Joab rebukes David. He tells him that you're acting like you wish Absalom, your son and enemy, were still alive and all of us who have followed you and saved your kingdom were dead. Joab tells David to straighten up and let his servants know that they are appreciated. So David goes and sits in the gate and all the the peple came before the king.

But, not all. The kingdom is still divided. David forgives his enemies in order to reconcile the family. He reconciles with Mephibosheth, whom Ziba may or may not have lied about. In my opinion Mephibosheth is sincere as he had been as one grieving since the day the king had left. He had not trimmed his beard or washed his clothes.

David gives Amasa, Joab's position as commander of his army. I have a feeling this was definitely a bad move for someone. Seems David may have already forgotten the rebuke Joab just gave him about showing gratitude. Or maybe David didn't and resented his servant speaking to him in this manner. Whatever, buying an ally with someone else's position doesn't sound like it will end favorable.

To sum it all up: David's loyalties seem pretty messed up, again. Will he ever learn that it's not always about the blood-line or genealogy. Sometimes, family has nothing to do with who sired us.

"There is a blood that is thicker than blood. It is the blood of Christ, shed for you."

Friday, April 6, 2012

2 Samuel 18 - Absalom Dies

David's son Absalom is dead. He would still be alive if he had not tried to destroy his father. He would still live if it were not for his own greed for power. But, he and his army pursues David's servants, in order to do away with his father. Absalom fails. He hangs in a tree and is struck through by Joab's armor bearers and dies.

Rebellion and wars for personal gain never gets a person anywhere. It may seem so for awhile. But, in the end, those who seek their own glory will fail. They will fall.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2 Samuel 17 - Jesus is the Truth - Listen to Him

Who exactly speaks God's word and will and how can we know which is the truth when the word conflicts? Both Ahithophel and Mushai give advise to Absalom. Ahithopel has a reputation of counsel so good that is was as if it was from God, Himself (2 Sam 16:27). Hushai's advise is not to listen to Ahithopel's advise. Who to listen to? Who is giving the best advise? Both of these men had been friends of David's. Ahithopel had deserted him. Hushai had pretended to get the goods on Absalom.

But, Absalom, believes the lies of Hushai and decides not to follow the advise from Ahithophel, in spite of his long record of good advise. Absalom listened to the wrong person. He believed a lie and it will end in his harm. According to 17:14, "..the LORD had ordained to defeat the good gounsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom."

So who should we be listening to? How can we know the way?
"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the only way. Jesus is the truth. Listen to him.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2 Samuel 16

I am still wondering where Mephibosheth's loyalties lie. He has stayed behind in Jerusalem as Absalom takes over the city. On one hand he is reported to have said, "Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father." But, on the other hand, whose fruit and bread and wine was it that Ziba brought to David in the wilderness? Would it not have been Mephibosheth's, Ziba's master's provisions?

And, we have David sparing Shimei's life even as Shimei is calling him out for the bloodshed that David has caused in the past. David is reluctant to harm Shimei. It appears that David is concerned about the truth in Shimei's words. David is concerned that maybe it was the LORD who instructed Shimei to curse him.

And Absalom, hears the promises of David's friend Hushai to be loyal to him. It appears that Absalom is believing the lies.

Words can really be deceiving. I have been trying, for as long as they have lived, to teach my granddaughters to not only hear with their ears, but with their eyes and all their senses. Watch how they sit or stand, watch their facial expressions, look into their eyes (if they let you), listen, as well, to the tone of their voice, and you will hear a much fuller story than the one you hear only with your ears. They tend to think I am a crazy old woman who is over protective and usually overbearing. They think I assume too much. They don't get that I am actually hearing and not just listening to them. And, I think that they have may be listening to me, but not hearing. Hearing requires more than the work of the ears...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2 Samuel 15 - Who is my Brother? Who is my Son?

David and Absalom's stories are sounding pretty familiar. Drama... drama... drama... Father and son fighting, mother and daughter fighting, familes fight... There comes a point that they that maybe they should recognize that if all they are going to do is conspire against each other and fight they should separate.

Recap: Absalom had laid in wait for just the right moment to kill his brother who raped his sister. He ran from his father's presence to escape his possible rather. David later accepted Absalom back into the family.

And it seems immediately, Absalom begins plotting to take over his father's kingdom. And now, David is on the run, with his household. But, he's not really separating himself from all the chaos. He's plotting too. He's sending spies back into the city so that he will be able to know how to take it back. I can see it all now, another battle, more drama.

Finding yourself in another battle with your family? Drama getting a bit much, again? There is only one way to do without it. Step outside of the drama. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into the games that have nothing to do with our Father's will, only the self-serving of others. You're not going to change how others play. But, you don't have to play if you really don't want to. Sometimes, though, that will mean stepping way outside of the circle of family.

Jesus told the people around him: "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12:48-50 NIV)

Monday, April 2, 2012

2 Samuel 14 - David's Compassion for Absalom and Joab!

David finally shows compassion, but not without the aid (conniving) of Joab and Tekoa. Joab is lucky to have his head for planning the return of Absalom to Jerusalem. Apparently, David had, already been desiring within his heart, to have Absalom return or he would not have been so generous with Joab.

Verse 14 is quite interesting. "We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast." I am wondering what Tekoa bases her words, "God will not take away life." She must be speaking of someone in particular for hasn't God condoned, supported and even encouraged the taking the lives of Israel's enemies? So I am thinking this is just another ploy she uses to get David to allow Absalom to return. Maybe she is speaking directly about Absalom's condition. He is still alive. God has not destroyed him. It is God who is using Joab and me to get you, David, who has been hard-hearted, to allow your son, Absalom, to return. So God is now behind Joab and Tekoa's actions. Now, that's a lot of conjecture on my part, but that's what this blog is about...

Just a reminder... this blog is just to get you thinking about what you read in the daily chapter. It is not meant to be the final word, just a beginning to help you consider what you have just read. You may agree with what I write and you are most welcome to also disagree. I don't have all the answers, just a lot of questions. God's Peace be with you...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2 Samuel 13 - Consequences Suffered By All

The rape of Tamar, a horrible sin... But, it does not go without consequences. Two years, Tamar's brother Absalom waits to avenge his sister. I'm not sure why he waited. It's not as if he was planning to keep this a secret. If he was, he didn't do a very good job of planning. And one man's lust brings hardship and consequences to his whole family.

Tamar is shamed. She lives a desolate woman in the house of her brother, Absalom. David is angry, but he doesn't do anything about it. Absalom commits murder and ends up running away (for 3 years) to avoid those consequences. David has now lost 2 sons because of Amnon's lust. But, David does nothing. He just sits there missing them.

There are consequences for sin. Our sin affects the people around us, the people whom we love and the people whom we don't love. Today is the Palm Sunday/the Sunday of the Passion. At the beginning of the service we sing Hosannah's and by the end we will have crucified him. It is a reminder that we are sinful beings and that this Jesus, who loved us, was willing to pay the price for our sins. He forgave us and was willing to accept the consequence - the sentence of death - for us - for our sins.

I woke up this morning wondering who I would see participating in the liturgy this morning. I had a nightmare about some lost sheep. I wondered if those sheep who have gone astray have any clue of the consequences of their wandering. I wondered if they understood that Jesus died because they would - we would - all go astray. Jesus paid the penalty, yet, we find ourselves immersed in negative consequences because we have strayed. The Body of Christ given for you has been rejected by those who have strayed... We become as desolate as Tamar... Out of fear, we run like Absalom, not so much from anyone but to the world which has its own set of consequences... And, when we run off, we neglect to hear the story, the promises of what God grace through Jesus Christ, and what is more, our children never hear about how much God loves them. If they hear the stories at all, they hear them through a secular view, not from a scriptural view, not through the lens of the cross. So what consequences do parent expect will come from that? We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. If our children do not know Christ then in whom do they believe?

Ok, I recognize that I have a definite bias at times.. so I must admit that prior to being a Pastor, my last position was a substance abuse counselor who practiced cognitive behavior therapy (as well as 12-steps) and so sometimes I look at thinks with that bias, especially when it comes to consequences. Could also have something to do with working in a Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division Office when I was younger, oh yes, there was that time I was a legal yeoman... Have a blessed Sunday. Remember who it is that loves you enough to die for you... Jesus Christ, our Lord and King.

Enough rambling for this morning... See you at Worship!