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Monday, May 4, 2015

In the Midst of tragedy

Today, we are all numb. Those senseless acts of violence that happen in other places, has hit very close to home. The shootings on the Trestle Bridge early Sunday evening in Menasha Wisconsin has given us all a grim jolt of the reality of the existence of evil in this world. Evil that shows up even on what is called the “friendship trail' a walkway over the waters of Little Lake Butte Des Mortes that connects Neenah to Menasha. A place where families and friends often find themselves strolling on warm evenings just enjoying each others company and their placid surroundings. It is a throwback picture to more innocent unhurried times, but that innocence was shattered abruptly by fatal gunshots on this warm Sunday evening. In the 23rd Psalm, David reminds us that we all walk through “the valley of the shadow of death,” and what he meant by that is death can come upon any of us as sudden as a flash flood in the dried up river beds know as Wadi's which are common to Israel. And with this backdrop he writes: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This is our blessed hope for the victims who knew and were known by Jesus, may it be a very real source of comfort for those left behind: Oh Father God, how our hearts break for the families of all the victims. We pray now for the aftermath of this tragedy. Be with the counselors, be with the teachers, be with the students, be with the first responders, be with any and all who are personally involved in this event and help them through the turmoil that must come in the days ahead. Help us all to treasure our loved ones anew, realizing that every day we have with them is a gift. And thank You Lord for the blessed hope we have through faith in Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Yield Your Tongue To Jesus

608 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 20:1,2 “ And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, (Bik' ri) a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: "We have no share in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!" 2 So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king. (2 Sam 20:1,2) What? Another rebellion? This time from a Benjamite! The tribe that gave us King Saul and Shimei, (the curser of David when he left Jerusalem the first time) now gives us another brash rebel named Sheba. Once again we see the seed of bitterness and unforgiveness brewing and growing in the hearts of men. The removal of Saul from the throne has left a burning ember of hatred and disdain for David in many a Benjamite, and the cruel words of Judah was the spark that set off a raging fire. All the Israelites (who felt that they had been slighted by David) join in the rebellion. Unwieldy tongues are a great problem for all, but it should not be so for followers of Christ. Listen again to what the Holy Spirit says in Jas 3:5-12, “ Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. Take heed here my friend, “No man came tame the tongue.” It can only be tamed by Jesus. Maybe we should always start our day with a prayer that yields our tongues to Jesus, asking Him to help our words to be a source of continual blessing, rather than cursing to others.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Family Feuds

607 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 19:40 Now the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. And all the people of Judah escorted the king, and also half the people of Israel. 41 Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, "Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David's men with him across the Jordan?" 42 So all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, "Because the king is a close relative of ours. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we ever eaten at the king's expense? Or has he given us any gift?" 43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, "We have ten shares in the king; therefore we also have more right to David than you. Why then do you despise us-were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?" Yet the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel. Some petty jealousy has broken out among the people. Half of the ten tribes that made up what is called Israel were left out of the triumphant procession celebrating the return of David. They were hurt by this and let the people of Judah know about it. Quick reminder for all of us to beware of hurting the feelings of others by not including them, and at the same time a reminder to those who are left out to not take it as the end of the world. You will survive this social snub. When we exclude others unnecessarily, or overreact to being excluded, we set the table for future problems that flow from hard and unforgiving hearts. Look what happened here. Unloving words were exchanged between the two parties and it led to serious trouble. The exchange of words escalated to the point that Judah's words were described as “fierce.” The Hebrew meaning of the term is cruel. Cruel, harmful words, spoken to souls that matter to God because neither side could drop it. My brothers, my sisters, don't let similar circumstances snowball in your own life. Remember the words of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Ro 12:18, “ If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” And in ALL circumstances seek to bridle that tongue that James says is capable of kindling roaring fires. Jas 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ask Anything In My Name

606 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 19:37 "Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you." 38 And the king answered, "Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you." 39 Then all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own place. ( 2 Sam 19:37-39) Chimham is likely the son of Barzillai, and Barzillai asks that David bestow his blessing on him. “Do for him what seems good to you.” Notice how David turns the request around and says, “I will do for him what seems good to YOU!” Then he adds “whatever you request of me (for Chimham) I will do for you! Barzillai then returns to his own place. Barzillai then “returned to his own place.” I cannot help but think of Jesus and how He came to this earth and poured out kindness and compassion on the people during a time when they needed it. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, (Gal4:4) to give us what we needed. Then Jesus departed, “returned to His own place,” but before He left He told His disciples in Joh 14:12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” David is like our Father God here, and Barzillai like Jesus and we like Chimham. Because of the obedience of Jesus in dispensing mercy and compassion to us, He now sits at the right hand of God forever interceding on our behalf, and if we ask anything of the Father in His name, He will do it, just as David promised to do for Chimham! Chimham was the beneficiary of the goodness and compassion of Barzillai, and we are the beneficiaries of the goodness and compassion of Jesus. And we have this assurance that as we ask Jesus to do what is good for us, and are prepared to trust that He will grant whatever is ultimately good for us, we will receive it from the Father. Father, let us learn to pray with surrendered wills.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Passing the Torch

604 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 19:31-36, “And Barzillai (bar zil' la I ) the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan. 32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man. 33 And the king said to Barzillai, "Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem." 34 But Barzillai said to the king, "How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 "I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? 36 "Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? (2 Sam 19:31-36) Barzillai the Gileadite was an aged loyal subject of David. He did not let his age keep him from showing his approval of the king. He traveled all the way from Mahanaim and crossed the Jordan just to make that public statement. This trek with David said loud and clear to all witnesses, “I believe in this king!” David invites him to stay and serve in his court, but Barzillai graciously refuses, citing his waning faculties that came with old age. He would be more of a hindrance to David and his kingdom than a help. I think about this often in relation to my own service in the kingdom. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work as a radio announcer at a Christian station for many years, but quite frankly there will come a time, when my voice will become feeble, my senses dulled, and perhaps a little out of touch with a youthful audience. There will come a time when my being on the air will actually be a hindrance. (Ah ah ah ah...don't go there!) I pray that I will have the grace of Barzillai and know when to get out of the way. May it be enough for me to finish my years, expressing my approval of my King in all that He gives me to say and do. I also pray fervently that God would raise up spiritual children that this radio ministry may have produced through the years, and that this next generation would pick up the torch and fervently keep it burning on the airwaves. This ministry of the broadcast Word is vital because as Scripture says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! Father, raise up anointed heralds, that Your Good News may continue to go forth in power and purity.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Balm In Gilead

604 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 19:31-36, “And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan. 32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man. 33 And the king said to Barzillai, "Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem." 34 But Barzillai said to the king, "How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 "I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? 36 "Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? (2 Sam 19:31-36) Barzillai the Gileadite was an aged loyal subject of David. He was also wealthy and had provided supplies for David and his men over and above what they needed when David was running from Absalom. When I think of Gilead, the old hymn “There Is A Balm In Gilead comes to mind. “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There's power enough in heaven to cure a sin-sick soul.” Barzillai was that Balm to David when he needed it, Jesus is that balm to us. But still another aspect of Barzillai that I want to touch on is his understanding of simply doing his duty for the king. Though blessed by the Lord with power and wealth, he subjected himself to the king. He understood well the relationship between servant and master. He knew his generosity was “just doing his duty. As Jesus said in Lu 17:7 "And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? 8 "But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? 9 "Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'" Let us adopt the attitude of Barzillai, and stop patting ourselves on the back or expect immediate rewards for our good deeds. Rather let's just spend our days in generous gratitude and servitude to our great King Jesus.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Let it Go

603 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 19:25-30, “So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, "Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?" 26 And he answered, "My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, 'I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,' because your servant is lame. 27 "And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes. 28 "For all my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?" 29 So the king said to him, "Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, 'You and Ziba divide the land.'" 30 Then Mephibosheth said to the king, "Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house." Now we get the story as to why Mephibosheth did not join with David when he left the city the first time. He had ordered Ziba to saddle a donkey for him, but Ziba took that donkey and gave it to David as a present. Then he slandered Mephibosheth, claiming that he had thrown in with Absalom. Taking the donkey of a lame man, and then making a pretension of benevolence to the king, and then slandering his master! How despicable is this Ziba. I don't know about you, but this stirs up anger in me, and I want this Ziba character to be punished. But He isn't! David simply restores the land and the relationship between Ziba and Mephibosheth to what it was before! We never hear about Ziba in Scripture again. What can we learn from this? First lesson is to understand and believe that God says in Ro 9:15, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." This was good enough for Mephibosheth, and it ought to be good enough for you and me! Mephibosheth was thrilled just with the fact that the Lord had returned and welcomed HIM into His kingdom. He was willing to forgive all the wrongs done to him, and to let all his goods go, content to just be with his Lord when he returned. How about you? Are you ready to let go of material goods and unforgiveness, content just to be a part of His kingdom? I am reminded of stanza 4 from Luther's A Mighty Fortress: “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever.” A forever kingdom is far better than anything we could hang onto on this earth. Father, help me to seek first Your kingdom.