The Dishonest Amalekite

June 11, 2019

2 Samuel 1:1-16 NLT

 

After the death of Saul, David returned from his victory over the Amalekites and spent two days in Ziklag. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s army camp. He had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head to show that he was in mourning. He fell to the ground before David in deep respect. 

3 “Where have you come from?” David asked. 

“I escaped from the Israelite camp,” the man replied. 

4 “What happened?” David demanded. “Tell me how the battle went.” 

The man replied, “Our entire army fled from the battle. Many of the men are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” 

5 “How do you know Saul and Jonathan are dead?” David demanded of the young man. 

6 The man answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear with the enemy chariots and charioteers closing in on him. 7 When he turned and saw me, he cried out for me to come to him. ‘How can I help?’ I asked him. 

8 “He responded, ‘Who are you?’ 

“ ‘I am an Amalekite,’ I told him. 

9 “Then he begged me, ‘Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.’ 

10 “So I killed him,” the Amalekite told David, “for I knew he couldn’t live. Then I took his crown and his armband, and I have brought them here to you, my lord.” 

11 David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day. 

13 Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, “Where are you from?” 

And he replied, “I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land.” 

14 “Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” David asked. 

15 Then David said to one of his men, “Kill him!” So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. 16 “You have condemned yourself,” David said, “for you yourself confessed that you killed the Lord’s anointed one.” 

 

The dishonest Amalekite soldier believed that David may have praised him for killing Saul. After all, it was Saul that had made him a fugitive. It was Saul that had caused David to hide in caves, fearing for the life of his family. Saul was the only thing standing between David and the throne. Surely, David would rejoice at the death of this man, but what is David’s response?

David says, “Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” David’s mind immediately goes beyond himself and on the Lord’s work. 

Followers of the Lord think differently. When the Apostle Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” in Romans 12:2 it reveals that we should perceive life differently. When we look beyond ourselves, it is amazing how much happier we become. C.S. Lewis often would write that the pursuit of happiness in this world was futile because we cannot be happy in the things of this world. 

When we look beyond self and beyond the temporary, we are able to see the eternal. We see that Jesus’s love is where our joy and hope rests. We see that brokenness is for but a season. We see that our lives are for more than temporary pleasure, but we were made for eternal purpose. 

I believe one of the unique characteristics of David that allowed him to be called, “A man after God’s own heart,” was his ability see God’s will above his own. This Amalekite soldier did not understand that David cared for God’s will above his own, even though God’s will wasn’t as easy as David might have hoped. 

Judgment Will Come

May 28, 2019

24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 

29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 

30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31  And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. 

 

— Daniel 5:24-31

 

In this passage of scripture, Belshazzar is at a great party in Babylon, and a mysterious hand without an arm appears and writes the phrase Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 

Daniel interprets it as a warning that judgment has come. That very night Belshazzar is killed. 

 

 

A day of judgment is coming. It is as certain as the sunrise and the tides. Judgment is coming. It will come not because God hates man, but it will come because God is just. 

Since God is perfect, wrong must be righted. Wickedness cannot go unpunished. Evil cannot go unchecked. If it did, it would go against the very nature of God. 

Therefore, God is going to judge. It will be a once and for all judgement, an eternal one. God is going to measure us up in one of two ways: 

It will be weighed by my works, my sins, and my righteous. My works are not good enough for the kingdom of Heaven. My righteousness is as filthy rags for God x-rays my wicked heart  and knows that I’m not righteous. My sins are numerous. My list of sin is too large to write down. 

If I am judged in this first way, I am certain that I will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. I am certain that I will be cast into eternal punishment in a place called Hell, if I am judged by my own works, sin, and righteousness. 

Then there is a second way. We call it the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word gospel means “good news.” The good news is that Jesus paid for it all. If I accept him as the way, the truth, and the life. If I accept him as my Lord and deliverer from my sin, then God will judge me not based on my own doing, but on what Jesus did. 

Since Jesus fulfilled the law. Since Jesus lived the life that I failed to live and took my punishment, I can be counted righteous. I can enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

For Belshazzar, judgment had already come and it was too late. Belshazzar met his doom, but there are many in this world who still have an opportunity. Let us live out the gospel today. Let those we encounter today know that we have GOOD NEWS. 

 

May God work through you today. 

 

Blessings 

May 20, 2019

Recently, I planted 13 trees in our backyard. They were only about 24 inches tall and they were healthy trees. I noticed when I was digging the holes for the trees that the ground was hard and rocky. I hit a rock digging just about every hole, but all the trees seem to have taken root but one. One of the trees is dying. I watched the little tree go from green to almost totally brown. 

I’m no gardener. In fact, I’m amazed that 12 of 13 are alive! But I do know that rocky, hard soil can be difficult for roots to grow. In the parable of the sower, Jesus also told us of this truth:

“ Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.”

— Matthew 13:5-6 ESV

Every believer in Jesus Christ should have a passion to grow in their faith. We live in a time where strong roots in our faith are vitally important. Healthy trees have healthy roots. 

It is therefore what God is doing beneath the surface of your life, the things we cannot see, that will have the largest impact on what is above the surface; the things we can see. 

I want my trees in the backyard to be 20 ft. tall and beautiful, but if they don’t have roots to support that height, they will fall. The growth that is happening now beneath the surface is important for the growth that everyone will one day see.

What is God doing beneath the soil in your life? 

 

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

— John 15:4

For the One

May 13, 2019

LUKE 15:1-10

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 

 

This passage really spoke to my heart yesterday and I wanted to share it. The passage is a reminder of the perspective of God. The first parable reflects on a shepherd that searches for the lost sheep despite having ninety-nine that are safe. First, how good is God! He pursuits each of us when we wander away. He loves us. He chases after us. He came down from Heaven to find his lost sheep. What a wonderful God!

Second, what a great perspective! Rejoice at the one! If God gives us one more day, rejoice in it! If God blesses us with one more meal, rejoice in it! If God gives you one person in your life to pour into as your ministry, rejoice in it! Rejoice at the one, and it will bring value to each day. 

Finally, heaven is filled with sinners saved by grace. Luke 15:7 is a reminder that self righteousness is blinding. It blinds us to our need of repentance. I think it is always important to remind ourselves that we were all lost before the Shepherd found us. We need Him. Salvation is by His grace. 

 

I hope each of you have a wonderful day. God bless you.

It Is Finished

April 23, 2019

 

John 19:30

30 “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” [1]

 

During my time at Anderson University, I had a professor ask the class to write a one-page paper on the most important words Jesus ever said in the gospel. I struggled with the assignment because Jesus spoke the most important words of all time. How are we to choose which ones are greatest? After many hours of wrestling with what words I would choose, I picked the words that I thought might be the most significant words ever uttered. “It is finished.” 

Jesus finished the work. Everything in his life, prior to the moment he died, rested upon the moment of finishing the sinless life and finishing the death of a perfect sacrifice. Aren’t you glad we have a God who doesn’t stop half way? 

Abraham stopped half way in Haran while journeying to the land that God had showed him. Jonah went the other way when God revealed His calling, but Jesus went all the way. God finishes his work. 

There is a house just above Lake Wateree that was started many years ago but never finished. The home looked to be a big and beautiful build. It had potential to be of great value. It had potential to house a family for years, and its walls could have held sweet memories for years to come. Instead, the job was never finished. Years passed and the home left undone. Today, the home has begun to rot, never having been used. 

When things go unfinished, the potential is never reached. The goal is never accomplished. All that will ever be is the “What might have been.”

You never have to worry about your God not finishing the work he started. God is faithful. Jesus finished the job. So know that the work he has started in you is not left undone. It is in progress. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[2]

So here is the assurance: God will complete a good work in you because he always finishes his work. Here is the challenge: Don’t stop half way. Complete the assignments you believe God has given you. An unfinished work is unreached potential.

 

God bless you.

 

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 19:30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 1:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Easter Week

April 16, 2019

 

John 19:1-4

“Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”[1]

 

For our devotional this week, let us turn our thoughts to what founded our faith. When I was a teenager, I remember opening my grandmother’s Bible, the first Bible I preached from, and I would read the words above. My heart still sinks when I read them. 

First, they flogged him. With every swing of the whip, my Savior endured for me and you. As the soldiers pressed the crown of thorns into his head, my Savior endured for me and you. As they put him in a purple robe and mocked him, my Savior endured for me and you. As they slapped Him, my Savior endured for me and you. 

When I would lose my focus, I would read this passage. It put everything into the picture for me. When I felt like I did not know who I was or whether I had a purpose, I would go back to John 19. Here, in the passage, Jesus claimed me as his, if I would trust Him. This broken life can be put back together again, but it can only be done by nail pierced hands. 

Please don’t lose sight of what God is doing! God is at work. This week, do not let the devil distract us. He is trying. Let Jesus be our focus. This is victory week for the Christian because of the Christ. Give Him all glory. Give Him your focus. Let the attacks of the enemy fall upon shield of faith (Eph. 6:16). Hold fast. 

 

John 19:16-18

“So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.”[2]

 

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 19:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 19:16–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Set Your Mind

April 9, 2019

Romans 8:5-6

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.[1]

 

“Set their minds” is a piece of the verse that makes me pause and reflect. When we wake up in the mornings, we “set our minds.” If the first thing I do is spend time with God, I am setting my mind in a direction for my day. 

The flesh is inward. It seeks only selfish, inward desire. Galatians 5:19-21 outlines what the flesh produces. Then Paul’s epistle compares what the flesh produces to what the spirit produces. The spirit produces: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.”[2]

When I “set my mind” on the Holy Spirit of God, I know that it will produce what the Bible says in Galatians. Imagine that our life becomes filled with the spirit and our hearts overflow with love, with joy, with peace, with patience, with kindness, with goodness, with faithfulness, with gentleness, and with self-control! 

When I was a little boy, I played baseball. I loved it, but I wasn’t very good at it. One time, I remember dad telling me the secret to hitting and catching. I was expecting some profound teaching or some secret that was hidden among the baseball legends. But the secret wasn’t so secret. He said, “Son, you gotta keep your eye on the ball.” 

In other words, I needed to “set my mind” on the ball if I wanted to hit and catch. If I was focused on impressing the other players, or focused on what kind of bat I was using, my likelihood of catching and hitting was going to drop. 

If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can expect to see the fruit of Jesus in our lives, and that’s a game changer!  

 

I’m grateful for each of you. You’re a blessing to my family. Have a great day. 

 

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:5–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:22–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Peter's Low Point

April 2, 2019

John 18:15-18

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” 

“No,” he said, “I am not.” 

18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself. [1]

 

Peter was no coward. Just a few verses before the passage above (John 18:10), Peter slices off Malchus’s ear, the slave of the high priest. Peter was willing to fight to save Jesus from those who came to take him, but in just a few hours, Peter cannot find the courage to identify himself as a disciple of Jesus. 

What happened to Peter?

Where did the boldness of Peter go?

As Peter stared in the flames of that fire, I wonder what went through his mind. Peter, the rock, denied the Lord. 

First, Peter was alone among the world.Christians need other Christians (Ecc. 3:11). When we are alone we are vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Second, Peter focused on the circumstance rather than the purpose. Jesus had already warned His disciples that this moment would come, but Peter could not embrace the truth. 

If you find yourself feeling alone and focused on the broken things in life, know that you have become vulnerable to saying and doing things you would not normally do. I have just a short word of encouragement for you today: You are not alone and what is broken in your life is not the summary of what God is doing. Hold tightly to His promise. God bless you.

 

[1]Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation(Jn 18:15–18). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

March 26, 2019

In God's Hands

Exodus 4:1-3

 

But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lordnever appeared to you’?” 

2 Then the Lordasked him, “What is that in your hand?” 

“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.[1]

3 “Throw it down on the ground,” the Lordtold him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back. [2]

 

Moses is looking for problems in God’s plan. Moses is looking for reasons why this calling that is being placed upon his life will not work. Then God very simply asks, “What is in your hand?”

First, the shepherd’s staff did not end up in Moses’s hand by accident. It was God that led him out of Egypt to this moment. God showed him the life of a shepherd because he knew that one day He would have Moses shepherd his people. God was doing a work in Moses through everyday life.If you are able, spend some time looking at Moses’s life this week. See how the hand of God worked in Moses’s life, and then think about what God is doing in you. 

Second, God asks Moses what is in his hand for Moses’s benefit. God knew what was in Moses’s hand. Moses needed to realize that God can use what you have. Moses had a stick. Yes. God used a stick. It is kind of hard for us to look at what God has put in our hands as inadequate when we compare this example. 

Moses felt unqualified. It could have been his past. It could have been his speech problem. It could have been his introverted personality. I don’t know what happened in Moses’s mind, but I know that God called him to do a great work. Do not let the devil disqualify what God has qualified! If you are a child of God, you have a great purpose and you have a great means to fulfill that purpose. God will use what you have to do great works.

The devil has a great attack plan. He wants us to focus on what we lack. If you focus on what you don’t have, you will never have what you need. BUT DON’T FORGET GOD’S QUESTION TO MOSES: “What is in your hand?” 

Finally, I believe scripture reveals one more piece to the puzzle of “doing God’s calling.” God showed Moses that what He had was enough, but then God asked Moses to do something. “Throw it down on the ground.” In other words, surrender it. We don’t get to see God do great things without surrender. What you have in your hands is enough, but if you can’t place it before God, you’ll miss the miracle. 

God wants to take our abilities and lay them at his feet. Moses’s staff was a stick in Moses’s hand, but in the hand of God it became a piece of Israelite history.

Trust the Lord with who you are. Trust the Lord with the work He is doing in you, today. God may not allow you to walk through parted seas, like Moses, but He will walk you through the valleys of life. 

 

[1]Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation(Ex 4:1–2). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[2]Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation(Ex 4:3). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

March 19, 2019

Meaningful Distractions:

 

Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” [1]

 

The world is filled with Marys and Marthas. Some people have a laid back, care free spirit, and some people have a hands on, goal driven personality.  We need both types of people in the world. 

As we look at the passage, try to figure you which sister you can relate to more. Are you more like Mary or Martha? If you are more like Mary, then you can probably connect with Mary’s actions in the story. Mary wants to hear what Jesus has to say, and the house work is the least of her concern. Mary sits at His feet and is wowed by Jesus’ teaching, while in the background Martha is clanging dishes and closing cabinets. 

If you’re a Martha, then you immediately feel pity for Martha in the story. You probably ask, “Why is Mary not doing anything?” You are thinking about the practical: someone is going to have to fix a meal and feed the Lord who has come to your home! Everything needs to be clean, neat, and in place. 

Marthas get things done, and Marys keep life balanced. Both are absolutely necessary, but sometimes both have weaknesses to deal with in life. In Luke 10, Jesus reveals one of those weaknesses in Martha. Martha gets distracted with good things. Scripture says she was, “distracted with much serving.” 

I think we all agree that serving the Lord is a good thing. Often times, life is filled with “meaningful distractions.” There is not always a demon on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Sometimes you do not have to make decisions between good and bad; it is between good and best. These are the hardest decisions. 

Examine your life. Do you feel overwhelmed? Martha did, that is why she asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. You may have your focus spread over many good things, but maybe it is time to refocus on the best things. This is harder to do than it is to type, but evaluate your life. You may need to make some decisions between “meaningful distractions” and the best thing. 

 

Have a wonderful week!

 

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 10:38–42). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

March 12, 2019

Revelation 3:14-16 (ESV)

 

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 

15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

 

In Revelation 3, Jesus finds the church of Laodicea guilty of being “lukewarm.” The city of Laodicea was located near two other cities, Colosse and Heirapolis. Colosse was nestled against an 8,000 ft. mountain, and it became known for its cold, clean drinking water from the mountain. Heirapolis, located just 15 miles away from Laodicea, had hot springs that were not known for the taste, but their healing abilities due to natural minerals in the hot water.  

Archaeological evidence has taught us that Laodicea’s water was nothing like its neighboring cities. Mineral deposits in the aqueduct systems had given the water a terrible taste, on top of it having a warm temperature. In John’s day, late first century, people would have known how terrible the taste of the water in Laodicea just like we know how bad the air smells around Bowater. 

Though this city, Laodicea, was wealthy and self-sufficient, their greatest physical necessity, water, was terrible. Despite the city’s wealth, they could not purchase some necessities. Jesus uses this to point out that they could not purchase a close walk with Him. They could not earn it with their gold or their deeds. They could only obtain it through repentance and faith. 

Jesus told John that the church at Laodicea disgusted Him. The church at Laodicea disgusted Jesus because it had built its confidence in its own abilities not God. God hates this. God hates it so much! 

In the Old Testament the Israelites constantly insulted God by trying to cut Him out of the picture. They wanted deliverance from Egypt, but they didn’t want dependence on God. They tried to hoard manna, but God wanted them to see they needed Him. So, it spoiled. They wanted to govern themselves. So, they got a king. One king after the other ripped their nation apart. 

The point is this: God is not interested in leaving you alone. God wants to be your Savior. God wants to be your Guide. God wants to be your intimate Friend. God wants you to recognize you need Him. 

We as Christians should include God in everything, but the sad reality on modern Christianity is that we are very much like the Laodiceans. We want to show what we can do, but we should be far more concerned with what God can do in our lives. We have to let Him in! It is not about us! It is about God working in us! Look at the final part of the message of Jesus to the church at Laodicea:

 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”[1]

—Rev. 3:20

 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! 

 

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Re 3:20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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