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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Glorious Unfolding

436 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 4:4 Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth. What a tragic day for this family. They lost their grandfather, (Saul) their father,(Jonathan) and now the lone surviving son is crippled in an accident when the nurse who was carrying him dropped him. No ER, no hospital to go to, no doctor to set the bones. Mephibosheth is crippled for life. Where are You God in all of this! It's not fair! Whatever happened to those verses in the 91st Psalm? You know, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Were the angels on a holiday? These are questions that we often find ourselves asking when tragedy befalls us. It's okay. God's not afraid of your honesty. He just asks that we continue to trust Him, and He will turn our situation into eventual good. As we read on in 2 Samuel, we will see how God used Mephibosheth to paint an everlasting picture of God's grace. So stay tuned. Steven Curtis Chapman sings a song called “Glorious Unfolding” and I think the lyrics are appropriate here. “Don't try to figure it out, just listen to what I'm whispering in your heart. “Cause I know this is not, anything like you thought, the story of your life was gonna be. And it feels like the end has started closing in on you, but it's just not true, there's so much more of the story that's still yet to unfold. And this is going to be a glorious unfolding, just you wait and see and you will be amazed. You've just got to believe the story is far from over. So hold on to every promise God has made to us, and watch this glorious unfolding. God's plan from the start, for this world and your heart, has been to show His glory and His grace, forever revealing the depth and the beauty of His unfailing love. And the story has only begun. We were made to run through the fields of forever, (Was he thinking about Mephibosheth when he wrote that line?) Singing songs to our Savior and King. So let us remember this life we're living, is just the beginning of the beginning.” ….great song! So persevere in your situation, brother, sister, and know one day there will be a glorious unfolding for your story as well. Put that mental picture of Mephibosheth running through the fields of heaven for all eternity, singing praises to our Savior and King. In the long run, it's the only reality that matters.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Troubled Hearts: Breeding Grounds For Unwise Actions

435 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 4:1-3, “When Saul's son heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost heart, and all Israel was troubled. 2 Now Saul's son had two men who were captains of troops. The name of one was Baanah and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin. (For Beeroth also was part of Benjamin, 3 because the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have been sojourners there until this day.) (2 Sam 4:1-3) The story of David's ascension to the throne of Israel continues with the introduction of two more characters. Baanah and Rechab were Benjamites who had high standing in Ishbosheth's army. The royal family of Saul was not in good straits at this time. Ishbosheth had lost all heart when he heard the news about Abner's death, and with a cowering leader, all the rest of Israel was troubled as well. Israel was in a state of fearful agitation. Fearful, troubled hearts are breeding grounds for hasty unwise actions. It was fear that caused Abraham to try to pawn Sarah off as his sister (Gen 12:12) It was fear that caused Saul to give in to the people and take spoil that God had forbidden ( 1 Sam 15:24) It is fear that often causes us to ignore God's instructions in His Word, and take matters into our own hands. No wonder we see the phrase “fear not” so often in Scripture. No wonder Jesus reminded us to not be troubled. Joh 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Joh 14:27b, “ Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Yes, there will be circumstances in our lives that will produce a fearful unrest or agitation. When they occur, try to remember these words of Jesus and look at things from an eternal perspective. The Bible promises that even if we are troubled in this life, the day is coming when the faithful will receive their rest. 2Th 1:7 says, “ to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,” Father, give the troubled the heart to wait on You in their troubled times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Help For Spiritual Bullying

434 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 3:38,39, “Then the king said to his servants, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 "And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me. The LORD shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness." (2 Sam 3:38,39) David is fasting, mourning the death of Abner. Fasting is a powerful spiritual tool that God has given to His church, and Jesus made it clear that when He left this world, His disciples would engage in fasting. Referring to Himself in Mt 9:15b He says, “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Jesus would no longer be walking side by side with His disciples, and they would need something to protect them from that bully, the devil. Now, here's the power behind fasting. We take nourishment for our physical strength. If you don't eat, you will become weak and eventually die. So our fasting, is meant to be a declaration of our own weakness. It is saying to God, the angels, the demons, ...all spiritual beings, “I can't do this, I am calling on the help of God.” Fasting is a picture of what the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Paul in, 2Co 12:10b, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” So David, in fasting on this occasion, is admitting that he is not strong enough to take on Joab and his clan, He'll let God take care of the matter. "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. (Rom 12:19) What sort of spiritual battle are you currently engaged in? What besetting sin, keeps coming back to haunt you. What is causing you to be mired down in your spiritual walk? How is the devil bullying you? Have you tried fasting? Have you tries skipping lunch? Declare your weakness before the spiritual world in this physical manner and call on God to be your strength. Call on God to give you the eventual victory. Father, again we thank You for this powerful tool, give us the desire and the strength to use it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fasting To Find Favor

433 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 3:35-37, “And when all the people came to persuade David to eat food while it was still day, David took an oath, saying, "God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else til the sun goes down!" 36 Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people. 37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's intent to kill Abner the son of Ner.” Let's spend a little time today talking about fasting. It's one of the three spiritual disciplines of the Christian that Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount, the others being prayer, and giving to the poor. (See MT 6:1-18) Most of the time our fasting should be done quietly and privately, but there are times when it is appropriate to fast publicly. In this instance, those attending the wake for Abner seek to persuade David to have something to eat, but he refuses, announcing that he is fasting until sundown. This fasting tells everyone that the death of Abner mattered to David. He was genuinely sorrowful over his loss. His fasting had a powerful impact on all of Israel. They could see clearly that it was not David's intent to slay Abner. But I think there is more at work here. We are told TWICE in this passage that the people were “pleased” with David. The Hebrew word means that he was pleasing to their eyes,” in other words, he found favor with the people. This is not an isolated example of such favor finding due to fasting found in Scripture. When Esther desired a favor from the king, she asked the people to fast on her behalf, guess what happened when she approached and made her request? He replied, "Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said." (Est 5:5) Are you in a situation where you need to find favor? Maybe it's a job interview, or a situation with a landlord, maybe even a relationship that needs shoring up. Have you tried fasting? Have you tried denying yourself food for a short period of time, in order to invite the persuasive power of God into your situation? Father, thank You for this powerful tool of fasting that You have made available to your children, may we learn to use it wisely.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More On Forgiveness

432 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 3:30-34, “So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle. 31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes, gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner." And King David followed the coffin. 32 So they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 And the king sang a lament over Abner and said: "Should Abner die as a fool dies? 34 Your hands were not bound Nor your feet put into fetters; As a man falls before wicked men, so you fell." Then all the people wept over him again. ( 2 Sam 3:30-34,) The motive for killing Abner is made clear. It was a family revenge killing and Abishai is lumped in with Joab as the culprits. This was a very critical time for David in the political arena. If there is no sign of sorrow over the revenge killing of Abner, the other tribes would likely resist the idea of David ruling over them. So David orders Joab and all the people who were with him, (perhaps those who felt that he had acted justly in the slaying of Abner) to make a public display of sorrow over the death of Abner. This would serve as an outward sign of repentance for committing the deed. Then to demonstrate that his government was genuinely sorry for the death of Abner, the king himself, follows the coffin to the grave. Then David, ever the composer, weeps, and sings a lamentation over the body of Abner. The meaning of his song can be summed up with these words. “Why was Abner treated like a wicked man in his death. I had sent him away in peace, his hands were not bound, he was not fettered. He was free and at peace with me, but then a man with wicked intent killed him.” Can we learn from this? I think so. Abner came to David seeking peace, David granted it. Even if Abner's motivation and sincerity were skewed, he was forgiven by David. Let God judge the sincerity and the motivation of Abner and others like him. How many times must Abner be forgiven by Joab? By you and I? ? Seven? No, Peter, Jesus said seven times seventy” Or as often as they seek it. Dear Christian brothers and sisters, let us learn to forgive as Christ forgave us. Father, help me to have a more forgiving spirit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don't Let Sin Fester

431 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 3:28,29, “Afterward, when David heard it, he said, "My kingdom and I are guiltless before the LORD forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 "Let it rest on the head of Joab and on all his father's house; and let there never fail to be in the house of Joab one who has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread." (2 Sam 3:28,29) David washes his hands of this cold-blooded murder carried out at the hands of Joab. One has to wonder, why he didn't do something about it. This shepherd boy had taken down Goliath in battle, yet he claims he is too “weak” to deal with these “sons of Zeruiah.” (v 39) This weakness was not a personal weakness but rather David felt that he did not have the political power to pull it off. I guess we can just say that David is only human. This lack of fortitude on his part in dealing with Joab would come back and haunt him later on, as Joab would commit further grievous acts. David never forgot this ruthless act of Joab's and one of his last instructions to his son Solomon was to execute justice in this matter. We read about it in , 1Ki 2:5 "Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed. And he shed the blood of war in peacetime, and put the blood of war on his belt that was around his waist, and on his sandals that were on his feet. 6 "Therefore do according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace.” As Joab did not honor the peace that David had bestowed upon Abner, David commands Solomon to not allow Joab to die in peace. The lesson for all of us is twofold. First of all we must not be like Joab, unwilling to forgive others, lest God not forgive us. Jesus said in Mt 6:15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Secondly we must learn to deal with that great disrupter of peace in our own lives.....sin. If we don't it will continue to rise up and bite us causing more problems for us and those around us. Take your sins to the cross today and every day. Let Jesus deal with them so you can live in peace now and forever. Father, help us to not let sin of any type fester in our lives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Refuge! Refuge!

430 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 3:26,27, “And when Joab had gone from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner, who brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it. 27 Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there stabbed him in the stomach, so that he died for the blood of Asahel his brother. Joab acting without the permission of David, hauls Abner back to Hebron and avenges the death of his brother Asahel. What makes this crime even more despicable is that it occurs in the gate of the city of Hebron, which was a designated city of refuge. Long story short, a city of refuge was a place where a man who was the subject of a revenge killing could flee to for safety. There were six such cities designated by God for the Israelites. These cities were so important that the roads leading to them were extra wide, they were to be as level as possible with nothing hindering the traveler from reaching the safety of the city. Every intersection along the way was to be clearly marked, “Refuge! Refuge! as to make sure the traveler would not make a wrong turn. If you haven't figured it out by now, Jesus serves as our cities of refuge, and it was John the Baptist who paved the way for us to find Him. Mt 3:1-3 says, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.'" John prepared the way to Jesus by calling people to repentance, and when Jesus arrived on the scene John pointed to Him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Which is another way of saying, “Refuge! Refuge!” We are all guilty of sin and deserving of death, and that fact is our call to repentance, but Jesus is our city of refuge! Flee to Him today. The way is prepared as you realize your need for forgiveness, and you are safe the moment you put your trust in Him. Father, thank You for providing a refuge for us in Jesus.