May 24th, 2019
I love reading the Psalms.
I picture David,
a shepherd turned king,
pouring out his heart to God through writing.
I imagine other men and women through the years doing the same thing.
As a writer, I love knowing the stringing together of words
has been a way of connecting with God since the beginning of time.
I love words.
And I love when they come together to create,
I think of John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
Is that what the Psalmist meant when he wrote,
Lord, your Word is forever;
It is firmly fixed in Heaven.
Like a planet in orbit,
God does not change or shift.
And neither does His Word.
It’s just as true today as it was thousands of years ago,
and it still has the power to do what it did then.
Your Word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path.
Darkness has no power over God’s promises.
His Word somehow lights my way,
and keeps me on track.
When I do stray,
His Word has the power to bring me back.
No road is too long for His Word to find me.
No pit too deep.
No valley too wide.
No mountain too high.
Opening a Bible invites God back into my journey.
No matter how lost I feel,
His Word finds me,
and like a staff,
gently pulls me back to Him.
I wander like a lost sheep,
seek Your servant,
for I do not forget Your commands.
When storms come or fiery arrows head my way,
I need not fear.
My protection and my hope
are tucked in the pages of this Book –
this one Book that has stood the test of time.
Allowing God’s Word to sink deep into my bones
brings more protection than the safest hiding place or the strongest armor.
You are my shelter and my shield;
I put my hope in your Word.
I’m so thankful for the power of His Word.
Before the sun rises,
I know God is there.
He hears my cries.
He brings me Hope.
He lights my way.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I put my hope in Your Word.
Opening a Bible invites God into my day
and His presence changes everything.
(The last few days’ readings have been from Psalm 111-118; I Kings 1-2;
Psalms 37; 71; 94; Psalm 119:89-176; I Kings 3-4; II Chron. 1; and Psalm 72.)
May 20th, 2019
David’s life is nearing an end,
but he doesn’t stop working.
He doesn’t slip into a royal recliner and say,
Instead, he spends his last days organizing the tribes of Israel
and gathering supplies for the building of the temple.
If there’s one thing David has learned,
it’s that God’s presence is worthy of nothing less than the best.
This temple would surpass anything built by human hands.
God’s tent-dwelling days were drawing to a close.
He would finally have a home fitting of His presence.
Royal in every way.
In many ways,
David’s attention to every detail of this temple
reflects God’s attention to every detail of ours.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
David paved the way for Solomon to build a glorious home for His Father;
and every time a woman is with child today,
God paves the way for the creation of one more home for His presence.
God is with us.
Not in buildings made of stones,
but in bodies made of flesh and bones.
How different would my Monday look if I truly believed this?
Treated my body like a treasured dwelling place of the Lord of Heaven and Earth?
What would I eat?
What would I drink?
Would my hands be more gentle?
My steps more intentional?
My words more loving?
My thoughts more pure?
If God is in me,
then the things I do and say reflect my view of His majesty.
David knew the tent had to go in order for the glorious temple to be built.
What needs to go in me?
God knit me together in my mother’s womb.
What have I done since that time to keep His temple fitting for a king?
Is my temple made of gold, silver, and bronze?
Or am I treating my temple like a tent made of stakes covered in fabric?
My prayer today is that I would see myself and my life through the eyes of God.
Fearfully and wonderfully made
Knit and woven together
Ordained before one day came to be
My prayer is also that I would see every person I encounter in the very same way.
Royalty deserves special treatment.
And as Christians, we carry with us the King of Kings –
the Prince of Peace.
Because of this, our tent-dwelling days have to go.
God is with us.
No matter our age,
may we continue to create for Him a home fitting of a King.
(Today’s reading was from Psalm 108-109; I Chron. 23-26; Psalm 131; 138-139; 143-145; I Chron. 27-29; Psalm 68.)
May 17th, 2019
It’s grey and rainy this morning.
The wind is moving through the trees outside my kitchen window as the branches bend to the right and to the left.
Even though I went to bed early last night,
every part of me wants to curl back up and sleep a little more.
With hot tea in hand, I begin reading,
determined to stay awake and see what God has to say as the sun tries to wake up the earth.
But this morning, even the sky seems sleepy.
I’ve been sitting here an hour,
and it’s still as dark outside as when I first crawled out of bed.
I want to read until something stops me,
catches my eye and my heart.
This morning the stories of David and Joab ( and what seems like a hundred other men with strange names) don’t move me.
The Psalms don’t even stir me.
I’m more drawn to the rain falling outside than I am the words I’m reading inside.
Verse after verse.
Chapter after chapter.
The sky has opened up but my heart feels closed.
I refuse to write about words that haven’t stirred me.
So I keep reading.
More men are murdered,
more mistakes are made,
and all the while,
the rain falls and my dryer spins.
David’s life is nearing its end,
the consequences of sin have turned his life upside down over and over again,
and he’s ready to hand the kingdom over to his son.
Like any good father, David wants to give Solomon a head start on the tasks assigned to him,
so he begins collecting supplies for the building of the temple.
He orders all the leaders of Israel to help his son.
He then speaks these words,
“Determine in your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”
I Chron. 22:19
Finally, twelve words stop me after hundreds have not.
“To make a strong decision.”
Seeking God is always a choice.
A choice we are free to make…..
And David knows it won’t always be easy.
So he begins this sentence by telling Solomon he will have to decide…..
and then decide all over again…..
every single morning.
I hear the words of Joshua to the Israelites,
“Choose this day whom you will serve.”
It’s always a choice.
Determine yours today,
whether the sun is shining or rain is falling.
Who will you serve?
In your mind and heart.
It’s one thing to know God is worth seeking.
It’s another thing to feel it.
David tells Solomon he must choose both.
The knowing and the feeling.
David knew doubts would sometimes rise and life would sometimes hurt,
so he wanted Solomon to remember………
no matter what might happen in his heart or in his mind,
God would never change.
Seek the Lord your God.
There’s no need to seek something that’s always in plain sight,
and David, of all people, knows firsthand that God’s presence isn’t always easy to feel or find.
He wants Solomon to know this too.
There will be times when the only way to find God is by seeking Him.
“Determine in your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”
I Chron. 22:19
This morning, I was sleepy.
I wanted to curl up and sleep a little longer.
The rain fell.
My dryer spinned.
I didn’t “feel” like reading,
but I “knew” I needed to,
so I determined to keep turning the pages of my Bible.
Verse after verse.
Chapter after chapter.
Until both my heart and my mind found what I needed.
I’m so thankful I did.
David knew what Solomon needed thousands of years ago,
and he knew what I needed this morning.
That’s the thing I love most about the Bible.
It’s alive and active,
and it always wakes me up if I keep reading.
Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
(Today’s reading was from II Sam. 19-21; Psalm 5; 38; 42; II Sam. 22-23; Psalm 57; Psalm 97; 99; II Sam. 24; I Chron. 21-22; and Psalm 30.)
May 16th, 2019
According to www.reference.com,
Americans spend about 37 billion hours each year waiting in line.
This doesn’t count the hours we spend waiting in the doctor’s office
or any other kind of office where we’re at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.
This also doesn’t count the hours we spend stuck in traffic
or waiting for a movie to begin at a theater
or waiting for classmates to finish an assignment so our teacher can move on
or waiting for results of a medical test.
Waiting is as much a part of life as anything else we choose today.
But there’s the difference.
We usually don’t choose to wait.
Maybe that’s why it’s so hard.
We have no control while we’re waiting.
We can’t rush a line
or a doctor
or a line of cars in construction,
and we definitely can’t skip the previews in a theater clicking of a remote
or ask our teacher to move on to the next lesson just because we’re ready
or tell a pathologist to hurry.
There’s plenty of things,
from the time we’re very small,
that teach us the importance of having patience as we wait.
After all, no amount of frustration or sighing can change most situations in which we’re stuck.
That’s why it helps to carry a book to read
and learn to enjoy the sights and sounds around us as we travel down the road.
Part of a happy life is accepting the fact that we can’t escape the world of waiting.
Our spiritual journey is no different.
God, like any good parent, doesn’t jump every time we make a request,
frantically trying to meet our every need.
He knows character is built in seasons of waiting,
and He’s all about our character.
So, there will be times when we find ourselves in places we’d rather not be.
Times when we cry out,
wondering if God hears us.
David surely spent a lot of time crying out
as he ran from his own son
who wanted nothing more than to overthrow him as king.
And when he heard this very same son had been killed along the way,
Scripture says as he walked, he cried,
“My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you,
Absalom, my son, my son!”
David, a man after God’s own heart,
spent much of his life in a pit,
waiting for God to hear him.
But he learned something along the way I want to learn too.
Even from the pit,
God heard his cries.
And eventually, God turned his way.
Every single time.
Lifting him from the slime,
God set his feet back on a rock
and put a new song in his mouth,
a hymn of praise.
As the people watched this happen,
they put their trust in God too.
If I truly believe God hears me,
even from the pit,
I have to learn to wait patiently too.
He will turn my way.
He will lift me out.
He will put me on a rock.
He will give me a firm place to stand.
He will put a new song in my mouth.
In His time.
He is faithful.
Even while I’m waiting.
Life is going to be filled with seasons of waiting.
And the only part of waiting I can control,
whether I’m waiting for an important phone call
or sitting in a doctor’s office
or crying out from a slimy pit,
is how I act as I do.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
(Today’s reading was from II Sam 16-18; Psalm 26; 40-41; 58; 61-62; and 64.)
May 15th, 2019
Have you ever started something and eventually wanted to quit?
It’s not that I want to stop reading the Bible.
It’s just that I’ve reached a tough place in blogging through its pages.
So much of the Old Testament is depressing.
I don’t like the way women are treated.
I don’t like the constant mention of war.
I don’t like the way family members turn on each other.
To be honest, if it weren’t for an occasional Psalm mixed in with the story line,
I would lose this Book most days and turn to something more uplifting…..
like the morning news.
And that’s when it hits me.
Things aren’t any different today.
Countries unable to get along
Families falling apart to the right and the left
There’s just one difference.
We don’t have the option of closing this book –
the one in which we’re the main characters.
So I can’t close the Bible either.
There has to be a reason God allowed so much bad news to be saved on scrolls…..
and then chose for it to be passed from one generation to the next.
There has to be a reason He isn’t afraid (or embarrassed) when we open it every morning
and read of another scandal,
He knows what we need to know…….
every single day.
He was there.
He was working for good when every single thing seemed bad.
He was weaving a way to Jesus
even when the men and women who held the thread
And He’s here today.
Even when the morning news seems hopeless,
He’s still weaving a way to Him.
The thread of Hope that began stitching lives together thousands of years ago
is the same thread stitching us together today.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
When I reach places where the Old Testament is hard,
I have to stop and remind myself of something that changes every word I read:
The New Testament is coming.
With every painful chapter
I have to remember,
God is moving through history,
making a way for His Son.
His timing is perfect,
and Jesus won’t arrive until this world is ready for Him.
So this morning as I read of Amnon’s defiling of his sister Tamar,
and Absalom’s carefully-crafted revenge followed by an attempt to dethrone his own dad,
I have to remember the same thing that makes the morning news somewhat bearable.
The New Testament is coming.
And Jesus is too.
God is working in spite of evil.
He isn’t wringing His hands,
wondering where He went wrong.
He knew free will would have its not-so-good consequences,
but He also knew any kind of forced will would eliminate the chance to choose Him.
And love is always a choice.
So this morning I pause as I read Psalm 3:3,
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
God wants to be our shield.
The Lifter of our head.
I’ve sat with women in jail
and children in therapy
and longed to do the exact same thing –
Lift their heads
Help them see what I see
Feel what I feel
Know what I know-
No matter how tough life gets,
or how messy it seems,
there is always room for Hope.
There is always a reason to look up.
The One who weaved His way through the Old Testament until Jesus appeared on the scene
is weaving His way through our painful stories, too.
And He won’t stop until Jesus appears.
So this morning if your head is hanging a little low,
or life seems tough
and answers aren’t coming easily
or mistakes seem unable to be erased,
please remember this:
God is right there.
He holds the thread of Hope and never stops weaving it
in and through and around your tangled mess.
And this morning,
even if you’re fighting the thought of a thread of Hope,
it can’t be removed from the tapestry of your life.
Hope is here.
And it’s here to stay.
Holding us all together.
Until Jesus appears again.
His timing is perfect,
and Jesus won’t return until this world is ready for Him.
So I won’t stop blogging through the Old Testament,
because this morning I’ve been reminded
no string is too tangled for Hope….
and no string is too tangled for Him.
(Today’s reading was from Psalm 32; 86; 102-103; 122; II Sam. 13 – 15; Psalm 3-4; 13; 28; and 55.)
May 14th, 2019
“In the spring when kings march out to war……..David remained in Jerusalem.”
II Sam. 11:1
He had to know.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And good rarely happens in these moments.
So why does the Bible include this story?
God chose David,
and the Bible calls him,
“a man after God’s own heart,”
yet we find him here,
sending all his men to war while he stays home.
That was bad enough.
A leader choosing not to lead.
But David stoops even lower in the very next verse.
From his rooftop he sees a beautiful woman
and decides to invite her to the palace.
It doesn’t take the gift of prophecy to know what will happen next,
and David finds himself in a complicated mess.
Women don’t become pregnant while their husbands are at war.
So David somehow finds a way to stoop even lower,
trying to trick Bathsheba’s husband into coming home and spending the night with his wife.
Does David really think covering up a sin is enough to take it away?
When his plan fails, he removes the obstacle,
having Uriah placed on the front lines and killed.
With her husband gone, Bathsheba is now free to become David’s wife.
And life can go on…………….
with no one even knowing.
Talk about sweeping a lot under the rug.
David used a huge broom,
but he forgot only so much can go under a carpet and remain unseen.
Time passes and God sends Nathan to open David’s eyes to the fact that what the world may have missed,
He has seen.
Every detail of his deception,
from skipping out on the season of war to sleeping with another’s man’s wife to committing murder.
The man who was after God’s own heart was also a sinner.
And God wanted him to know.
Seeking God is important,
but obeying Him is too.
I think David knew he had stepped off the “straight and narrow.”
He surely tossed and turned in bed at night
as he planned ways to cover up his bad decisions.
I hope he did anyway.
I hope he didn’t feel above the law,
as if being king gave him the right to do what no one else could.
God wasn’t happy.
And eventually, David paid the price.
His baby died and God said,
“the sword will never leave your house,”
God took his punishment even further and said,
“You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.”
David got caught.
And the whole world would know.
For centuries to come.
The Bible could have left this story out.
Saved David’s reputation.
God chose David to be king,
and wouldn’t the story look better if God’s ability to choose remained as perfect as He was?
But for whatever reason,
He chose to let us know.
We know David stayed where he shouldn’t have stayed.
And while he was there, he did what he shouldn’t have done.
We also know he tried to cover up his mistakes by making even more.
David was a mess.
And his pride had made him even messier.
As I read these parts of Bible history,
I can’t help but think of my own life.
I know when my steps lead the right way,
and I know when they don’t.
I know when the words I speak bring life,
and I know when they don’t.
I’m well aware of my flaws,
and yet so many times,
I’ve embraced them.
Kept walking or talking when a dead end was in sight.
And then spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to do a u-turn without making a scene.
Life is messy.
And I’m so glad the Bible lets us know David’s was too.
I’m thankful for a Bible that refuses to sweep under the rug what man tried to hide.
This story reminds me of something I don’t ever want to forget.
God is watching.
There’s nothing I can hide from Him.
And no matter how hard I seek Him,
I too can fall if I find myself wandering to places I shouldn’t be,
doing things I shouldn’t do.
Thank goodness His mercy never ends.
Because like David,
I can easily forget,
seeking God is important but obeying Him is too.
(Today’s reading was from Psalm 65-67; 69-70; II Sam. 11-12; I Chron. 20; and Psalm 51.)
May 8th, 2019
Pages turn in my Bible just as they do in the life of David.
Battles are fought.
And battles are won.
At the same time, kindness is extended to enemies.
Some, like Mephibosheth, accept the invitation to eat at the king’s table;
while others, like the Ammonites under the rule of Hanun,
question motives and reject the kindness sent their way.
All the while,
pages continue to turn in the life of Israel’s king.
As time moves on,
so does David’s pen,
and the book of Psalms grows longer just as like the years of David’s life.
David’s done a lot of living since his early days of tending sheep,
and thankfully, he takes some time in the middle of this living,
to slip away and record his thoughts.
As a writer,
I get it.
David needs a way to release his questions
while singing praise at the very same time.
David needs a way to remind himself of what he already knows.
“Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses,
but we take pride in the name of the Lord our God.”
Sitting at his table,
watching Mephibosheth eat,
David surely sees reminders of Jonathan,
Mephibosheth’s dad and David’s best friend who had died years before.
Does he see reminders of Saul too,
Mephibosheth’s grandpa and the man who had wanted him dead.
The angle of his smile
The sound of his voice
The look in his eyes
David chooses to sit at the table every single day
with reminders of deep love and great hate rolled into one person,
right next to him.
David has a complicated soul.
He is drawn to doubt just as often as he chooses to trust.
One day he is filled with hope.
The next day he is overcome with despair.
The conflict in David’s heart comes to life every time he sits down to eat,
watching Mephibosheth pass the butter and chew his food.
When he learns of the death of one of his greatest enemies,
the Ammonite king,
David sends representatives to console his son.
David walks the fence of hating his enemies while loving them at the very same time
and risks rejection in order to make peace all along the way.
His writings are no different than his actions.
One minute he confidently leans back into the arms of God;
and the next,
he struggles to find these very same arms worthy of trust.
But he writes anyway………….
And he invites the enemy to his table
while extending a hand of grace to another.
David makes me feel normal.
I’m complicated too.
I’m so thankful that in spite of all the conflicting emotions David brought to the table as the pages of his life turned,
he was still remembered as
“a man after God’s own heart.”
I Sam. 13:14
I mess up often.
But I love God all the while.
And I pray I’ll be remembered as someone after God’s own heart too.
(Today’s reading was from II Sam. 8-10; I Chron. 18-19; Psalms 20; 53; 60 and 75.)
May 7th, 2019
“When the king had settled into his palace
and the Lord had given him rest on every side from his enemies,
the king said to the prophet Nathan,
“Look, I am living in a cedar house while the ark of God sits inside tent curtains.”
David’s entire journey to becoming king had been filled with war.
He had literally fought for his title all along the way,
moving the ark of the covenant several times as he battled his way to the throne.
But when the dust settled
and his reign was secure,
David’s eyes were opened,
and what he saw bothered him.
There’s something about being still
that allows us to see things like we’ve never seen them before.
And David, from the comfort of his throne,
saw something that made him uncomfortable.
He was living in a palace.
But God was living in tent.
It’s almost impossible to imagine today.
God’s presence limited to an area wrapped in fabric walls.
But while David sat on the throne,
God dwelt in an ark.
This bothered David.
He wanted to fix this discrepancy –
Create the proper kind of home in which the Lord of Heaven and Earth could dwell.
But God said, “No.”
David’s desire was not wrong.
But his timing was.
Later in David’s life he recounts this memory,
“I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD
and for the footstool of our God,
and I made preparations for building.
But God said to me,
‘You may not build a house for my name,
for you are a man of war and have shed blood.”
I Chron. 28:2-3
Even though the battles David had fought were for God,
and even though the blood he had shed was in the name of God,
he had lost his right to be build the temple.
God gave this job to David’s son Solomon,
and peace filled the kingdom during his reign.
David could have questioned God’s “No,”
justifying the battles and making sense of the wars.
After all, God was the one who had led the way,
wanting all nations filled with false gods
completely removed from the land.
But David doesn’t try to reason with God.
He does something else instead.
Something that affirmed he truly was “a man after God’s own heart.”
David went to the tent,
the place where God’s presence was dwelling,
and sat with Him there,
“Who am I, Lord God,
and what is my house that you have brought me this far?”
David didn’t question God’s, “No.”
Instead, he humbly sat with God and wondered why God had allowed him to come so far.
David took a “No,” and turned it into a time of praise.
He laid down his own desire in exchange for God’s.
No tearing down of his own worth
as God went on to say the one who would build the temple would come later.
David chose to take this time to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.
“This is why you are great, Lord God.
There is no one like you, and there is no God besides you.”
David accepted God’s “no,” and at the very same time,
praised Him for it.
I’ve experienced some “No’s” in my own life.
Times when I felt sure the thing (or the healing) I desired would bring more glory to Him.
But for whatever reason, God did not.
My timing was not His.
I’m sure I’ll experience many more “No’s” along the way.
How will I respond?
I want to be like David.
I want to have enough trust in God’s view of my life to join Him exactly where He is in it.
Not where I think He wants or needs me to be.
When He says, “No,”
I want to sit with Him right there,
in the middle of all my questions,
and praise His name for what He’s already done…..
and what He still has to do………
or through someone who will come long after me.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Today’s reading was from I Sam. 7; I Chron. 17; Psalm 1-2; 33; 127 and 132.)
May 6th, 2019
Thanks to King Hiram of Tyre
David finally has a royal place to live.
Scripture says that after the palace was complete,
David finally “knew” God had established him as King of Israel.
I wonder how many times he looked from a window of this new home
to the fields in the distance and reflected on his years as a shepherd?
After years of running for his life,
a young sheep herder had officially been seated on the throne.
I’m sure there were many things about those early years in David’s life that were hard and scary –
Protecting sheep from wild animals in search of food
while keeping them away from the edges of cliffs
was no easy task.
But no matter how hard he may have tried,
no amount of royal living could take away the memories of how his life began.
Don’t we all have memories of our beginning?
I know I do.
I remember getting up early,
even on the coldest mornings,
just to ride with my grandpa through his fields in the panhandle of Oklahoma.
With the truck in the lowest gear possible,
Grandpa would leave me in the passenger seat and climb into the bed of the truck
where he would work to leave a trail of hay
for the cattle following along behind us.
I can still see my grandpa’s breath hitting the cold air and billowing out like smoke
as his weathered hands gripped his pitchfork,
slicing each bale of hay into sections like a knife cutting butter.
Grandpa sustained the life of his cattle through many brutal winters.
They trusted in him, and because of this,
they followed him without question.
It’s been a long time since those cold mornings when I bounced along in the cab of a truck
watching my grandpa out the back window
as he did his morning work.
But when I close my eyes,
I’m right there.
The cold leather seat under my little legs
and the oil-covered dash in front of me,
stuffed with what seemed like every bill my grandpa had received in the year before.
This was one of my most favorite places to be.
And I felt at home with my grandpa in sight.
I think David had the same feeling in the field with his sheep.
Maybe that’s why, after years of ruling a kingdom,
he chose to write a Psalm filled with all kinds of allusions
from his years as a young boy,
He knew what it took to keep sheep alive.
Constant searches for green pastures in a desert-filled country.
Paths that stayed near a safe source of water.
And the right tools, a rod and a staff, for protection
when a journey through dark valleys was unavoidable.
David cared for his sheep.
With the same confidence,
he knew God cared for him.
On the good days and the bad.
My grandpa’s cattle trusted him
just as sheep trust their shepherd……
and David trusted God in the very same way.
Because of this,
he feared no evil.
He had the courage to face whatever came next in life,
because he knew who was leading the way.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I don’t know about you,
but I need a shepherd.
I need a guide.
I need someone with a rod and a staff
leading the way,
protecting me from the enemy and
pulling me back when I roam too far from safety.
What’s the secret to not fearing evil?
It’s remembering He is with me.
Every step of the way.
In green pastures,
by quiet waters,
through the darkest valleys.
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one
. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Today’s reading was from II Sam. 5:11-6:23; I Chron. 13-16 Psalm 15; 23-25; 47; 89; 96; 100-10
May 2nd, 2019
Being anointed doesn’t always mean you’re loved,
and David learned the hard way that becoming king would take much more than the words,
“God chose me.”
The entire first half of First Samuel tells of David’s attempts to run from Saul,
who wanted him dead………
Even after Saul’s life ends,
David finds himself in great danger.
His very own son, Absalom,
tries to overtake the throne,
and David finds himself on the run again –
hiding in caves all along the way.
Yes, David was the king,
but much like people in high profile positions today,
he needed body guards –
men who would risk their own lives to save his.
Benaiah had made a name for himself as a great warrior;
and because of this,
he was chosen to lead all the men who had been selected to keep their king safe.
Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada…………………..He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty…….And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
II Sam. 23:22-23
What did Benaiah do to stand out in such a mighty way?
What set him apart from the other men in the very same chapter who had done great things?
Josheb had killed eight hundred men in one battle. (vs. 8).
Abishai took the lives of three hundred men just by lifting his spear. (vs. 18).
When David became thirsty,
one group of men risked their own lives sneaking into enemy camp for a glass of water (vs. 16).
Yet out of all of these men,
David chose Benaiah to lead.
Maybe that’s why there is such a vivid description of what he had done.
After all, any of the men above could have surely killed a lion after all they had done.
But right before Benaiah is selected for this honorable position, Scripture says,
“Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada,
the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds,
killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab.
He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.”
2 Samuel 23:20
In the King James Version, this verse has more meaning.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lion-like men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow.” KJV
The Hebrew word for “men” (ariyel) used in this verse is only used one other time in the whole Bible,
and it is in I Chron. 11:22 when the same story is retold.
This word literally means “lion-like.”
Benaiah, after killing two men who were literally like lions,
was able to go into a pit on a snowy day and actually take down this very kind of animal…….
all by himself.
Pits are scary.
Getting out is nearly impossible,
and a lion that has fallen into one is probably not the happiest animal to join.
Add cold weather, slippery conditions, and low visibility from snow,
and this pit experience was a challenge not many would be willing to accept.
But Benaiah, who had already been successful when up against two lion-like men,
entered the pit
and faced a lion
on a snowy day.
One tiny verse holds such a big message.
There will be days, maybe even weeks or years,
where we feel as if we are in a pit on a snowy day.
No way out.
Feet on slippery ground,
with a distorted view of God because of all the things
falling down around us like snow.
In these seasons of life,
it’s easy to forget we’re not alone
because a pit seems like quite enough to handle,
but Peter warns us,
“Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
I Peter 5:8
Isn’t this the way it goes?
Just when we think we’ve reached our limit,
the last straw,
the end of our rope,
we turn around to find ourselves up against even more.
Doesn’t the devil love to attack when we’re in our most vulnerable position,
trying to face already-dark days?
Maybe we’re grieving and the wrong words are said by a friend or family member.
Or we’re at the end of a long day at work,
and an email arrives that pushes every button in our soul.
Or we’re feeling incredibly lonely just as we scroll through photos of an event we weren’t invited to attend.
The list goes on and on.
The enemy works from a low-grass perspective.
Why go after our head when he only needs to reach our heel?
There are all kinds of pits we can fall into as we walk through life.
The pit of fatigue.
And Benaiah reminds me this morning of something I don’t ever want to forget.
I will sometimes have to face even more in these pits than the darkness,
because I have an enemy who loves to meet me in these very places
where my power feels limited,
my footing is unsteady,
and my view of God is blurred.
In these moments,
I want to remember what Benaiah knew.
Even at my weakest,
I can successfully face the strongest spiritual attacks.
You, 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.
I John 4:4
And I have the only weapon I will ever need………….
no matter the depth of the pit or the conditions in it.
“For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
(Today’s reading was from II Sam. 5:1-10; I Chron. 11-12; and Psalm 133.)