Saturday, January 31, 2009

Radical idea

26 When David arrived in Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, "Here is a present for you from the plunder of the LORD's enemies."

 27 He sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; 28 to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa 29 and Racal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; 30 to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athach 31 and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where David and his men had roamed. 1 Samuel 30:26-31

Yesterday's blog was about "the church" being the body of Christ and sharing so that no one had need. Look at these verses:

16 This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer [a] for each person you have in your tent.' "

 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. Exodus 16:16-18

34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Acts 4:34-35

13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." 2 Cor 8:13-15

I know that is hard to grasp
a church doing that in today's culture, but I want to push it a lot further…what if the churches did that with each other?

Think about what David did in the passage above. He sent some of "the plunder" to friends and elders in other places, to people who were his kinsman.

What if the church did this today?

What if we saw ourselves as "brothers" and not competitors? What if we saw ourselves as connected to Christ instead of independent? What if we realized when one of us suffers, the "body of Christ" suffers?

I think the church takes way too much credit for what God is doing and therefore feels it has a right to gather more manna. As we gather more, there is the tendency to rely on "our work" for security; think about how many churches have huge "stockpiles" for the "just in case".

Do we not trust in God for our manna, our "daily" bread?

May God turn our hearts to His ways!

57The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, 58that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. 59Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, 1 Kings 8:57-59

Friday, January 30, 2009


16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, "This is David's plunder."

 21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Ravine. They came out to meet David and the people with him. As David and his men approached, he greeted them. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David's followers said, "Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go."

 23 David replied, "No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike." 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. 1Samuel 30:16-25

If it only worked that way today…"All will share alike."

Sound familiar?

42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-47

Why don't we continue this today?

Probably the same reason they didn't want to, their pride.

They thought the provisions were a result of their work, but think about this.

Did they do anything to convince the 4 commanders to send them back to Ziklag?

Did they provide the guidance to pursue the Amalekites, or was it God?

What about God's provision of the Egyptian slave in the middle of nowhere?

What did they do to get the Amalekites fat, drunk and scattered?

What did they do in helping the Amalekites raid other villages so their "spoils" would be greater?

This was not their victory, it was God's!

We do this in "the church" all the time; we take credit for God's work. We may have taken part in it, but it was what God has done.

"But at least we did our part!"

Ok, think about when the 200 said we can't go any farther. Don't you think it helped them out? They could leave all their stuff on the other side of the ravine; they could travel lighter and faster and be fresher for battle.

The church is a body and everyone plays a significant role, no one is unimportant, but we forget that.

21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Cor 12:21-26

    "…made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this."

When did we become exempt from this?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


11They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, 12and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13And David said to him, "To whom do you belong? And where are you from?" He said, "I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire." 15And David said to him, "Will you take me down to this band?" And he said, "Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band." 1 Samuel 30:11-15

Did you miss it?

Maybe you didn't even know you missed it. We have a tendency to go through life focused on the big things, the major things
in life and often we miss it.

Over the last few years I'm learning how God works in the small, the mustard seed, the yeast, etc. But, we are so focused on the big we overlook the small.

Ok, so what does that have to do with this passage…everything.

Think about it, David and his 600 are probably emotionally spent at the loss of their homes and families; they are physically exhausted because they are so focused chasing after their attackers that 200 can't go anymore.

How easy would be to overlook that one lone, homeless, hungry boy?

"We don't have time, our families are at stake? We must be about God's will, he told us to pursue them!"

They didn't miss the small, the seemingly insignificant. They also offered compassion and gave him food and water that he so desperately needed.

It was in the small that David finds the specifics and God's provision. In the big, he only knew a general direction in which to go after the Amalekites, but in the small he was able to focus and pursue God's will.

My calling is to plant seeds that future generations will harvest, that's the big general direction, but it actually happens daily in the small, private, seemingly insignificant conversations that I have daily with the people God brings into my life.

Look for the little, seemingly insignificant things today, who knows, you might find God in them!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the ephod." Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?"
      "Pursue them," he answered. "You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue."
1 Samuel 30:7-8

Would you?

You come home and your village has been burned to the ground and your family taken; would you stop to pray about whether you should go looking for them?

Would you
trust God's answer?

What if God's will was determined by "rolling dice"?

Would you keep rolling them until you got the answer you wanted?

Or, would you trust God's sovereignty?

Tragedy always seems to turn David's heart back to God. He hasn't used the Ephod to determine God's will since chapter 23, nor has he mentioned the name of the Lord since chapter 26.

At a time like this we would cry out to God to save our families, but he is turning to God for direction, His will for David.

I hear a lot of people say, "I just want to know God's will for my life".

Would you trust in getting an answer the way David did?

Here's where the "rolling the dice" thing comes into play. Look at the verse again, David asked for the Ephod, no not an iPod!

The Ephod was an apron type garment worn by the priest to consult God. In the book of Exodus you find that it had a breastplate where you would find the Urim and Thummim. These were used to cast lots.

So, David at the point of tragedy, wondering if he should go after his family, basically trusted God in what would appear to us as "drawing straws" or "rolling the dice".

Have you ever seen that in a church business meeting? Seriously, stop and think about the business meetings that you've been a part of; didn't all the questions have to be all answered rationally before you took a vote?

It seems to me that we have removed the mystery, the awe, the reverence, out of the ways of God so that we can rationalize or justify it; so that we can get our minds around it.

God is so much bigger than that!

David trusted even when it didn't make sense…I think we call that faith.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Look, is that smoke?

1 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

 3 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David's two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:1-6

Can you imagine the scene?

You were just spared from fighting against your own people and no loss of life, no shame; the emotions are running high and you're "high fiving" each other!

Then you see it, the smoke, your heart sinks and you start running to your families. But, they're not there, nothing is left.

You go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

You weep until there is nothing left of you.

Then, the questions; "why?", "who's responsible?"

"David! He brought us here and had us bring our families! He's the one that ticked off the Amalekites! He's the one that inducted into the Philistine Army!"

"Our families are gone, he deserves to die!"

Here's what I was reminded of today.

David had not been seeking the Lord's guidance for awhile now and was taking God's grace for granted. They were apparently not asking God to go
before them in battle, so I assume that they weren't asking for God's protection over their families either. The enemy loves to attack in the places we are most vulnerable, so I must pray daily for God's protection over my family.

When God tells you to do something, you better do it. Saul was told to "wipe out" all of the Amalekites, because he didn't it had devastating consequences for others.

Your sin cannot be hidden and has consequences. God will not be mocked and you will reap what you sow. David was careless, arrogant and did not seek God before he ran to safety and protection in the land of the Philistines.

It always should cost more for the leader. I changed that because I do believe that are some in leadership who won't pay the price. Here is what I'm getting at, leadership is tough, and most people want the position
without the responsibility. I forgot who said it, but I've used this phrase for some time now, "Leadership is about making decisions other people choose not to make." Every decision you make is for something and against something else, and usually you will leave a good number of people unhappy about your choice. If your choice turns out bad, well you guessed it; you might have people picking up stones! I must ask for wisdom and guidance on everything! Really, everything? Yes, it always turned out bad for them when they thought they could handle the battle!

Accept responsibility for your sins and turn back to God for strength. This is what separated David from Saul; David found his strength in the Lord, Saul consulted a witch; David repents, Saul doesn't.

Those are the things that God reminded me of, what about you?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Divine Comedy

 1 The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. 2 As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. 3 The commanders of the Philistines asked, "What about these Hebrews?"
      Achish replied, "Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him."

 4 But the Philistine commanders were angry with him and said, "Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master's favor than by taking the heads of our own men? 5 Isn't this the David they sang about in their dances:
       " 'Saul has slain his thousands,
       and David his tens of thousands'?"

 6 So Achish called David and said to him, "As surely as the LORD lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until now, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don't approve of you. 7 Turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers."

 8 "But what have I done?" asked David. "What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can't I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?"

 9 Achish answered, "I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, 'He must not go up with us into battle.' 10 Now get up early, along with your master's servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light."

 11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel. 1 Samuel 29

Divine Comedy, wasn't that a poem written by Dante?

Yeah, but that's what I thought of while reading this passage, let me explain.

Here's the comedy part:

There are 5 Philistine lords consolidating all of their forces to attack Israel and who is in the rear? David and his men!

The forces that were put in the rear were usually the bravest, most highly skilled
warriors to protect from enemy forces attacking from the flank. Who's there David, the future king of Israel!

Well, the other lords are not happy with this and insist that David and his men be sent home. Ok, there is a poem here…

" 'Saul has slain his thousands,
       and David his tens of thousands'?"

Can you imagine what the other lords are saying about Achish? "Has he lost his mind?"

Achish, a pagan, uses "church talk", which is pretty funny. Terms like Lord, actually Yahweh, that means one true God and angel of God.

What's up with him?

He is enthralled with David. Little does he know that David has been deceiving him all the while, for well over a year.

David protest, really?


Then , it's as if he tries to talk them out of their decision.

So far this is a really bad comedy!

Here's the Divine part:

David is rescued from an improbable situation; he is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Think about this; David would have had to fight against his own people, his king, and his best friend Jonathan, who he loved more than life itself.

What seemed like a good idea, fleeing from Saul to the land of Philistines has now put him into a tough spot.

God rescues David through and unlikely source, four Philistine commanders.

Where will your rescue come from?

Will you look back and laugh?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get a cup of coffee, this is a long one

14 "What does he look like?" he asked.
      "An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said.
      Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

 15 Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"
      "I am in great distress," Saul said. "The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do."

 16 Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy? 17 The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. 19 The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."

 20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel's words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night.

 21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, "Look, your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way."

 23 He refused and said, "I will not eat."
      But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

 24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left. 1 Samuel 28:14-25

It's really easy to get lost in this story; did your mind wander as you read?

A witch; the images of the old man; Samuel being called back from the grave; his harsh words; the "I told you so" statements; Saul's fear; where did your mind take you?

Hopefully you are able to look through the story to see the message.

This is the story of us, the children of God, like Saul we were chosen not because of anything we did (Deut 7:7-8); God raised us up to set things apart for Him; we were called to trust in God and keep His commandments; not to imitate the world; but like Saul we live in consistent rebellion.

But if we stubbornly rebel, He will not listen to our prayers, He will cease disclosing
Himself and His will to us, and we will begin to wander.

2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-13

Like Saul then, we start grasping at straws, and looking for "the ways of God" in anything. From the story above we saw what happened to Saul; here's what could happen to us:

3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Tim 4:3-4.

The whole message of 1 Samuel is about total obedience to God. In fact we are told that partial obedience is disobedience; if that's the case is partial truth, non-truth?

Here's what I see; we live in the rebellious culture like the one in 2 Timothy. To make us feel better about ourselves we go looking for the "things of God" that make us feel good. We want to hear about a god who is so loving that he is totally okay with my continued rebellion…sounds good, right?

Would that make Him just?

I used to be a person who prided himself on seeing the "grey areas", but God has been teaching me that there is only "black or white"; it is either true or false; it is either for God or against Him; it is either of the Kingdom or of the "world".

I know for me I didn't look long or hard enough to find truth or when I did see truth, I thought I was smarter and could see "another side" to it. What I was actually doing was trying fit God and His ways into my rebellion or making others feel better about their own rebellion so they would like me.

Why is it, like Saul we look for anyway other than the ways of God? Do we think we know better than our Creator? Do we think His ways are not "just"? Do we not trust that He loves us?

Dang, we are a skeptical, hard headed, stubborn, prideful, rebellious bunch, aren't we?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Out of my box

7 Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her."
      "There is one in Endor," they said.

 8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. "Consult a spirit for me," he said, "and bring up for me the one I name."

 9 But the woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?"

 10 Saul swore to her by the LORD, "As surely as the LORD lives, you will not be punished for this."

 11 Then the woman asked, "Whom shall I bring up for you?"
      "Bring up Samuel," he said.

 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!"

 13 The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?"
      The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground."
1 Samuel 28:7-13

I lived a sheltered life for the first 40 years…not in the way most would think…I have been blessed to have experienced a ton of stuff. But, I'm coming to understand how sheltered I was spiritually during that time.

Maybe, I'm still leaving you scratching your head about what I mean. Think about the verse above, mediums, spiritist, spirits, seeing the dead, I mean, come on! That stuff doesn't happen…I'm sure we never covered this verse in my Presbyterian Sunday School class!

Things like this I would have tried to explain away or say "that was a long time ago, it doesn't happen today".

Before I even got to this verse this morning, my prayer was one of confessing how I've put God in a box that I could understand and comprehend. If you know me I pride myself on thinking "outside the box"…but this seems to blow the box up! What Saul was experiencing was not of God, but what God directly opposes, I must take that for what the Bible says even if I can't explain it.

Here's what I'm learning:

  • I can't explain everything, nor do I have answers for everything…that's arrogance and pride!
  • I don't get a vote in truth, truth is truth based solely on God's word.
  • I don't get a vote on what God is like, he didn't ask me and I don't think he asked you. When I try to make God in an image I can understand that's idolatry. He is much bigger than my thoughts or imagination.
  • His ways are not my ways, yeah, we've all heard that, but think about how many times we want an explanation.
  • I can't explain the verse above so I won't try.

I am coming to understand the truth of this verse though:

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Gal 6:10-12

Because I can't explain something doesn't make it false. Evil is real. Saul turned to witchcraft for help, he disobeyed God's command of not consulting the dead (Deut 18:9-14).

As a Christ follower I don't live pretending there is no such thing as demons and evil spirits because they are mentioned throughout Scripture. I live with the reality that there are forces at work that affect human beings that I cannot explain. But I live with the full conviction that the devil and those evil forces
have been conquered!

4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

The battle is real and our God is greater
than anything!

Fear nothing but Him!

If you have trusted Christ and surrendered to Him, He who lives in you is Greater!

Go conquer evil with good today!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No signal

3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

 4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 1 Samuel 28:3-6

We live in a wired world (yeah, it's weird too), we are always connected these days.

What would happen to you if you lost your connection?

What if you lost your connection when you needed it most?

No cell, no e-mail, no internet, no TV, no text, no facebook, nada, nothing!

That's where Saul is, it's the worst day of his life and he has no connection.

The Philistines have gathered all their forces (the numbers are staggering) and are about to attack; their plan is to cut Israel in half!

Saul cannot count on all of his forces either!

One of his best warriors and his men has joined the Philistines! Not only is David one of his best, but Saul's been trying to kill him, don't you think he might be a little ticked?

Scared, you bet! It's Saul, he was scared looking for his father's donkey, he was scared about being king, he never imitated any attacks against the Philistines, and he has been racked with fear since about chapter 16! He is literally scared to death!

To make it worse, he has lost his connection!

…but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.

Not by prayer, not by word, not by preacher, not by phone, not by text, not by e-mail, no signs, nothing!

Samuel, whose prayers opposed their enemies, was dead!

David, the "national champion", you chased into a foreign land and has sided with the enemy!

You let Doeg kill all the priest!

The chickens have come home to roost!

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Gal 6:7

Man, he is reaping some bad seed!


Monday, January 19, 2009

But, he’s our hero

 1 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, "You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army."

 2 David said, "Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do."
 Achish replied, "Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life."
1 Samuel 28:1-2

Ever been stuck in a situation like this?

Maybe you're thinking what situation?

The Philistines are constantly at war with Israel. David was once the armor-bearer for Saul, king of Israel, and now Achish says I'm taking you with me to fight against your people.

How'd he get in this position?

He got here because he had doubts about God's provision and took matters into his own hands.

What does he do?

Our hero David, a man after God's own heart, responds by drawing his sword and killing the enemy…WRONG…he brags about how good he is!


But, David is our hero! Exactly the problem; we should have one hero, Jesus, yeah, that may sound like a "church answer", but it's true.

God does not want us to worship men or make them our idols; He wants us to worship Him.

Here's what I see, as a culture we don't like to do the hard things, so when we see anyone with courage or fortitude we put them up on a pedestal…we make them our heroes, we worship them.

When it comes to the "things of God" we are the same way, just like we've always been…

"…they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die…The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was." Exodus 20:18-19, 21

Then the people who follow us put us up on a pedestal. Then, what happens…think about it, how many "Godly men" have let you down? They are not perfect and when they fall our faith is crushed.

Here's what happens when we start worshipping the created, instead of the creator:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:21-25

David was just like you and I; like Elijah:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, James 5:17

Human nature is very weak. What we become in God's hands is totally by His grace, not our strength. David got weak in his faith.

That's why we should learn from David, but not make him or anyone other than Christ our hero. In fact, Jesus warned against this:

"Don't let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don't let anyone call you 'Teacher,' for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12

We have one Rabbi, one Father, one Teacher, and only ONE HERO…He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No, he isn’t?

5 Then David said to Achish, "If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?"

 6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. 7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.

 8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.

 10 When Achish asked, "Where did you go raiding today?" David would say, "Against the Negev of Judah" or "Against the Negev of Jerahmeel" or "Against the Negev of the Kenites." 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, "They might inform on us and say, 'This is what David did.' " And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, "He has become so odious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant forever." 1 Samuel 27:5-12

Is it just me, or does sound like "24"?

"David's a terrorist now, working with another government, killing men, women and children?"

Surely, not!

Look close, it isn't too far from last night's episode, where we find out…stop reading if you haven't watched it yet…Tony isn't the traitor we first think he is.

But David is raiding all those villages and killing all those people?

I can't explain that, nor will I try, but here is the thing I do want you to get…God is good on His promises.

Let's start with Ziklag…what? Not a what, but a town, Ziklag was one of towns in the Promised Land that was given toJudah (Joshua 15:31). For whatever reason Ziklag was in the hands of the Philistines and God was giving David back a portion of his inheritance that He had promised.

Remember the Amalekites…

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."  Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." Exodus 17:8-16

God said He would wipe them out:

22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23
My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.
Exodus 23:22-23
(Also Numbers 21:3; Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Judges 1:17)

David maybe fulfilling God's promises, but it wasn't for the right reasons; he was just providing food and clothing to his people.

Stop and think about that for a moment…

God's promises are true and they will come about, even if God accomplishes them through self serving men who do so unknowingly.

Here's the lesson for me; in the eyes of the world I might fail, I might be a fool, and my actions
might be questioned, but His plan, His promises

If it's about my glory, well, I'll have a hard time with that. But, if all I'm concerned about is His glory, then I'll be up for whatever!

Look through every situation and see how God is bringing about His good.

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

To Him be the glory!

Monday, January 12, 2009

No threat

2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maoch king of Gath. 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him. 1 Sam 27:2-4

As a leader this is a very scary and convicting passage for me.

Remember David had not consulted God about going to Gath; he did it trying to secure his own safety. Not only did David go out of God's will, he had probably a couple thousand go with him.

Saul quit looking for him because he was no longer a threat.

To me, and maybe just me, this seems like the "church" today, as leaders we have looked for safety, security, comfort, justification, identity, whatever and gone off on tangents without asking for divine guidance and we are no longer a threat to the evil one.

I now can look back and see where I've done this. Those decisions were not done in rebellion, and at the time I thought I was doing what we should be doing. Remember Satan is the great deceiver and if he can get you just a step or two off the path by the time you realize it you will be miles from the intended destination. You are not confronting evil head on so why should he consider you a threat.

Here's what scares me…how much time and energy do we devote to getting people to follow us, to listen to our teaching, to hear our worship, to grow our church, to come to our experience, to gather and convene at our place?

But aren't these good things?

I was reminded this weekend how good is the enemy of great. Think about this, we spend so much time, energy, and resources trying to keep people coming; so much time creating the experience that we have very little time to disciple people enough to send them out.

What if you were told your small group had one year to get ready to plant a church?

Would your discipleship look different?

We felt certain we were called to Tallahassee to start a movement, not just start a church. The movement is to equip and send.

Can we raise up disciples to be the church where ever they go? Can we raise up leaders who can plant more churches so that our city, our region is transformed by the Gospel?

We have led people to safety, instead of sending them to places where they have to cry out to Christ Jesus; places that would require
His power to do things that are greater than they could ever imagine; places that would require His word to truly saturate their lives; places that would require them to pray like they've never prayed before; places they would have to be fully dependent on Him for their daily bread!

Look in this whole chapter; do you see then word "Lord" or "prayer"? No, they didn't need to cry out because they were safe!

We have led people to something that doesn't require God; all they have to do is show up and settle into just going
to church, settle into a weak Christianity!

We are called to be His witnesses, His ambassadors, His sent ones to our communities, our workplaces, to our homes, to equip them with the expectation that maybe they will be the new band of brothers and sisters that start churches in their neighborhoods to saturate our city with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Does that scare you?

Good, because it scares the crap out of me when I realize I've gotten off the path and been deceived!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Lost your mind?

1 But David kept thinking to himself, "Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe." 1 Samuel 27:1

David maybe a "man after God's own heart", but he's jacked up, he's crazy, seriously!

The first time he ran to Gath he had to pretend to be crazy because he was afraid of Achish the king, but seriously he's just out of his mind this time.

"David, this is the land of the Philistines, did you forget your battles against them? Did you forget that the last time you were there you did escape, but you were so afraid you had to pretend to be a lunatic to get out of there?"

Wouldn't that be one of those times you'd say "I'll never do that again"?

What happened to the warrior, the man who had spoken so boldly, acted in such faith? Now he's full of doubts, to the point of saying Saul's going to kill me one day.

He's forgotten all the goodness the Lord has shown him.

Fear got to him. That's a lesson for us; fear can get to the best, even the best warriors, and the best of God's men!

Both times David ran in fear to Gath, he was trying to protect himself and looking for safety. Both times he didn't wait on divine guidance.

He had simply had enough, his troubles had become overwhelming. Looking for safety he didn't take into account how his life would be living among the Philistines; all the lies and the deception he would live in.

Notice that in this whole chapter (27), 16 months of David's life, there is no mention of the Lord or of prayer. This great man of God doesn't seem to be walking with Him. That has got to be horrible for David.

What causes a man to move from a great man of faith and waiting upon the Lord to provide and fight his battles, to
being overwhelmed with anxiety thinking he's going to perish?

David is not the first or the last; Elijah did it; Peter did it.

Here's what I was reminded of today; whatever I become in God's hands is always by His grace, not my strength.

5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

And when my strength fails under pressure, it is only the grace of God that will preserve me.

The antidote to fear is faith: put everything into His hands and remain in Him!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Flea collar

The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains." 1 Samuel 26:20

I think we chase after a lot of fleas!

Really think about it.

How much energy, resources, and time are devoted to issues that are really insignificant?

Think about it in terms of Christianity today.

How much money is spent on keeping people "comfortable"?

How much money is spent on making sure we can worship God how we want to? (Instead of how He wants us to)

How much time is spent on arguing over "colors" in the church?

How much time is spent on arguing who gets to use the church building, or classroom, or bus?

How many resources are devoted to answering the question why? (As opposed to just saying yes, and Amen to whatever God ask you to do.)

All the while justice, mercy and faithfulness get neglected.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23

to you literally means we have grieved God when we do this and He denounces us.

Dang, I've got to get some flea repellant!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Driven out

They have now driven me from my share in the LORD's inheritance and have said, 'Go, serve other gods.' 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the LORD. 1 Samuel 26:19(b)-20

We are likely to dismiss this statement today, but for someone in the OT this is huge! Here is a very brief explanation:

When God created Adam and Eve He put them in a special place, the Garden of Eden. When they sinned they were driven out of this incredible place to somewhere "east of Eden".

When God chose Abraham, He told him to go to a land in which He chose and He would dwell among them. Jacob's deception virtually forced Israel to leave that special place. In fact, God spoke to Jacob in a dream to remind him that Canaan was place that God
dwelt in a special way.

David knew of God's command as they entered into the Promised Land.

5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.

 8 You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit, 9 since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the LORD your God is giving you. 10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. 11 Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD. 12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. 14 Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. Deut 12:5-14

To David this pursuit
drove him away from the land (inheritance) that the Lord had given. It forced him to flee from a place God had provided for men to worship Him. Basically it was like telling David "
Go serve other Gods". To a man after God's own heart this would be the greatest punishment!

What drives you away from being in that special
place with God?




Your past?


Don't you think it's time to come home?

Maybe you've never been there. God told Abraham to get up, to go, and to leave and He would show him where to go…seek
after Him and He will show you that place.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why are you?

17 Saul recognized David's voice and said, "Is that your voice, David my son?"

      David replied, "Yes it is, my lord the king." 18 And he added, "Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant's words. If the LORD has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, men have done it, may they be cursed before the LORD! 1 Samuel 26:17-19

I had to really try hard to put myself in David's shoes to get anything out of this. It's easy to become bored with the persistent pursuit by Saul and to just read over this. But stop and ask God to reveal what it is He wants you to see.

Here's what I see…think how David feels constantly being pursued by Saul. Wouldn't you want to know why Saul keeps up? So, he asks.

Have you ever confronted your enemy, your accuser and asked why?

David humbled himself enough to ask first if it was something he had done. David wanted to know the sin he committed that might have caused God to send Saul after him. Wow, I don't think even in Christian circles we would ask that question today.

Notice he doesn't say he will ask Saul for forgiveness, he says he will offer a sacrifice to God. This is HUGE…we tend to think about the sinned against and asking for forgiveness, but when we sin, our sin is against God first and foremost, first and foremost, first and foremost.

What he is saying is that if God finds his offering acceptable, then Saul you need not pursue this, you have no right to. Wow, stop and sit on all that for a minute…I hope it changes your thinking on sin and forgiveness.

David then asks if not my sin, who is accusing me, who is whispering in your ear, who is stirring up trouble?

Would that be a question you would ask of your enemy?

This again is huge:

He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15

An abomination…may they be cursed! Be careful what you say!

David was humble enough to ask first if it was his sin, then he asked if it was the sins of others, he doesn't blame Saul.

More tomorrow…

Monday, January 5, 2009

On watch

13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, "Aren't you going to answer me, Abner?"
      Abner replied, "Who are you who calls to the king?"

 15 David said, "You're a man, aren't you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn't you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the LORD lives, you and your men deserve to die, because you did not guard your master, the LORD's anointed. Look around you. Where are the king's spear and water jug that were near his head?" 1 Samuel 26:13-15

I'm not really sure what to think about this passage.

Why did David call out to the army and Abner and not Saul?

Sure seems like David is just mocking them doesn't it?

Here's what I do know;

Abner is the commander of Saul's army and later switches loyalty to David.

Abishai, who went with David, eventually became commander of David's mighty men. He was a warrior, who would have no objections to killing Saul. In fact, David uses this to say "I stopped an assassin from killing your king."

So, what is it here?

If the primary theme is one of obedience is this a test for Abishai?

Is this a chance for Abner to see the heart of David so that God might use him later?

May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the LORD promised him on oath 10
and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David's throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba."

2 Samuel 3:9-10

Or is this a lesson for us
not to take our responsibility lightly;

Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the LORD lives, you and your men deserve to die, because you did not guard your master, the LORD's anointed.

These guys were supposed to be "watchmen", to report what was happening on the outside of the circle and to protect what was inside. And they failed in their responsibility. God's word has some strong things to say to us who have been appointed watchmen.

17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18
When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for [a] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

Ezek 3:17-19

10 Israel's watchmen are blind,
       they all lack knowledge;
       they are all mute dogs,
       they cannot bark;
       they lie around and dream,
       they love to sleep.

They are dogs with mighty appetites;
       they never have enough.
       They are shepherds who lack understanding;
       they all turn to their own way,
       each seeks his own gain.

Isa 56:10-11

I now know what I'm supposed to take away from this passage; how about you?