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Friday, January 30, 2015

We Can't Hear It Enough

548- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 14:15-17 "Now therefore, I have come to speak of this thing to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. And your maidservant said, 'I will now speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his maidservant. 16 'For the king will hear and deliver his maidservant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the inheritance of God.' 17 "Your maidservant said, 'The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.'" (2 Sam 14:15-17) Kind of a clumsy and bulky couple of verses here, but what I'm picking up on is a sense of fear in this widow and a deep desire to be comforted with the words of the king. In the preceding verse she spoke of her certainty that God has provided “means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” But in these verses she paints a picture of someone who struggles with doubt. Let's suppose the people that are making her afraid here are represent agents of the devil. Wittingly or unwittingly they are causing her to doubt the security of God's pledge to deliver through His means of grace. She pleads with the King for renewed assurance for both her and her son to be delivered from the hand of the man who would destroy them and seek to keep them from the inheritance of God. Here, let us think of this man as the devil. The “Word of the Lord her King” should cause us to think of the Scriptures, in particular, 1Jo 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,” And the “angel of God” should cause us to think of those messengers of God who bring the Good News of peace and safety to our ears. (pastors, evangelists, etc) “The words of those angels bring comfort to the doubting soul, and need to be repeated and heard often. That's one of the main reasons we attend worship services! We are like sheep....forgetful, and we need to be constantly assured of God's love for us, and His certain promise of forgiveness through faith in Jesus. It is only through this faith that the one who would destroy our souls is rendered powerless. God, help me to never forget the gospel message. Let me hear the words of absolution often. The ears of my soul can't hear it enough.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Means of Grace

547- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 14:14 "For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him. ( 2 Sam 14:14) One of the things I love about the reading the Word of God is stumbling across gems like this. I don't know how many times I've read this portion of Scripture, but I've never paid close attention to this verse until now! And what a treasure it is! The widow speaks about the inevitability of death echoing Ec 3:20, “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” Then she says two beautiful words, “Yet God.” You see the wages of sin is death. And all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Since sin cannot dwell in the presence of God we are all under the curse of banishment. “Yet God,” does not desire for us to be banished. He loves us and so He has devised “means” to deliver us from banishment. In Lutheran circles we love to talk about the “means of grace.” Most notably God's Word, (which is the primary means of grace,) and the Sacraments (which are subsidiary means) Now lest I be misunderstood here, let me emphasize that Christ alone saves! The Bible has not saved one soul and neither has any of the Sacraments. But the Bible is the primary “means” by which Christ is brought to the soul. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17) These “means” are the methods in which God delivers His grace (the forgiveness that is in His heart for the banished) We need this grace to be saved! Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Take heart from the words of this widow. God has ways to bring Christ to our souls and He will use whatever “means of grace ” He can to bring a soul back from banishment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Prison of Unforgiveness

546- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 14:12-14a, “ Therefore the woman said, "Please, let your maidservant speak another word to my lord the king." And he said, "Say on." 13 So the woman said: "Why then have you schemed such a thing against the people of God? For the king speaks this thing as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14 "For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. (2 Sam 14:12-14a) The widow has set the trap that was cleverly laid out by Joab, and now she springs it. How is it that the king is quick to pardon the widow's son for murdering his brother, and so slow to pardon Absalom for the murder of his brother? The widow's son pardon would not affect the nation of Israel nearly as much as the pardon of Absalom, for he was the heir to David's throne! How could Absalom possibly become a king if he was banished? The widow was asking David to rethink his position! Maybe some of us need to rethink our position on forgiveness in our own family. The widow makes a point to the king that you only go around once and life is short: She says, “For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” Indeed, life is too short to turn it into a breeding ground for bitterness! Heb 12:14,15 tells us: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” I greatly regret my own struggles with forgiving my parents after their divorce. It took years before I forgave my father, and my mother didn't hear me utter those words “I forgive you,” until she was on her death bed! I am not proud of that. To see the look on her face when I said those words is too precious for words, yet it was a crushing blow to my own soul as I realized for the first time what I had robbed her of for all those years. Are you harboring unforgiveness? Please learn from my mistake before it's too late. Unforgiveness is a prison for all involved. Ask Jesus to help you forgive. He can set you free from this prison as you learn to forgive one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:32)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

He's the Only One Who Can Grant Pardon

545- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 14:8-11, “Then the king said to the woman, "Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you." 9 And the woman of Tekoa said to the king, "My lord, O king, let the iniquity be on me and on my father's house, and the king and his throne be guiltless." 10 So the king said, "Whoever says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall not touch you anymore." 11 Then she said, "Please let the king remember the LORD your God, and do not permit the avenger of blood to destroy anymore, lest they destroy my son." And he said, "As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground." (2 Sam 14:8-11) It's interesting that the woman is not satisfied with the king's first response to her request. He has given his word that she and her son would be left alone, but she wants more than the promise of the government. (Hmmmm distrust of the government? When did that start?) She wants a little more certainty and she asks David to bring the Lord into the situation. She doesn't want to appeal to the mercy of the government, rather she would base her appeal on the mercy of God. When you think about it, this is the way it should be. In this case, her son's guarantee of safety must come from someone higher than the government, and that Someone is the Lawgiver Himself, the Lord God Almighty. He made this Law concerning murder, and He is the only One who has the authority to grant a pardon. Good government, should follow God's guidelines for civility, but what if government were in charge of carrying out punishment for our sins? We would all be dead! No, our only hope must come from the Supreme Merciful Lawgiver! It is only he who can grant clemency to sinners. In Rom 9:15 we read, “For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." And rather than avenge us for our sinful ways, God has chosen to offer mercy to us through faith in Jesus Christ. His justice was served by the death of His Son on the cross, and His mercy comes to you and I through His grace. Appeal to the higher authority of God for your sins, receive His mercy and be saved!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Justice AND Mercy

544- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 14:1-7, “So Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was concerned about Absalom. 2 And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman, and said to her, "Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel; do not anoint yourself with oil, but act like a woman who has been mourning a long time for the dead. 3 "Go to the king and speak to him in this manner." So Joab put the words in her mouth. 4 And when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself, and said, "Help, O king!" 5 Then the king said to her, "What troubles you?" And she answered, "Indeed I am a widow, my husband is dead. 6 "Now your maidservant had two sons; and the two fought with each other in the field, and there was no one to part them, but the one struck the other and killed him. 7 "And now the whole family has risen up against your maidservant, and they said, 'Deliver him who struck his brother, that we may execute him for the life of his brother whom he killed; and we will destroy the heir also.' So they would extinguish my ember that is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the earth." ( 2 Sam 14:1-7) It's not easy working for someone who is perpetually moping, and that seems to be the case here. But David's right hand man, Joab, takes the bull by the horns and decides to do something about it. This David is not the warrior he originally signed up with! So he devises a plan where a widow will feign her displeasure with the current legal system that required the death of her only surviving son who had killed his brother. Nu 35:19 'The avenger of blood himself shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. To carry out this sentence would kill the family name and leave the widow without any financial support. In a sense she is asking David to allow mercy to triumph over judgment. (James 2:13b) And who are you or I to argue with that? Think of what we have “gotten away with” because of the decree of our King who said, “place your faith in My Son and I will forgive your sins.” “But what about justice God?” And God says, “My justice was meted out on My Son. Sin has not gone unpunished, and if you think that My mercy gives you license to sin, then you just don't get it, and you remain a candidate for My final justice. It all boils down to this, all sin must be accounted for. Those found in Christ on the last Day will be judged innocent, and those not in Christ will serve their time in the eternal torment of hell. Justice AND mercy will be fully served by God.

Friday, January 23, 2015

God Is Waiting For You

543- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 13:37-39, “ But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. 38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead. ( 2 Sam 13:37-39) Absalom flees to his grandpa's country for safety. There were no provisions for willful murderers to escape the death penalty in Israel. Ex 21:12-14 says, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 "However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 14 "But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.” David had grieved the loss of his son Amnon, but now found himself longing for his wayward son Absalom every day. But he knew that Absalom would face the death penalty should he return. This longing and mourning for Absalom went on for three years! It makes me wonder about the father who is mentioned in the parable of the prodigal son. How long did he wait for his wayward son to return? We don't know. We just know that the father waited. Let's pick it up in Lu 15:20 "And he (the wayward son) arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.', But you know the rest of the story the father overjoyed to see his repentant son again, restored everything and threw a huge party. His son who was as good as dead as long as he held onto his sin, was now fully alive! Beloved, don't you see the heart of God in David? Sin separates us from God and carries a death penalty, but God is waiting for you, longing for you to come to repentance and life saving faith in Jesus, who paid the price of your sin! No need to flee anymore! Come to Jesus and live! Father, help us all to see Your deep longing for us, Your wayward children.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Put A Sock In It

542- Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 13:34-36, “Then Absalom fled. And the young man who was keeping watch lifted his eyes and looked, and there, many people were coming from the road on the hillside behind him. 35 And Jonadab said to the king, "Look, the king's sons are coming; as your servant said, so it is." 36 So it was, as soon as he had finished speaking, that the king's sons indeed came, and they lifted up their voice and wept. Also the king and all his servants wept very bitterly. (2 Sam 13:34-36) Here we have Jonadab (the Eddie Haskel of Scripture) tooting his own horn. “See your highness, I told you your other sons would be okay!” Yes, they are all right physically Jonadab, but how about paying attention to the emotional state of all involved. This is not the time to be bragging about your own cleverness Eddie. Their brother was just killed in front of their eyes and they had to hightail it out of town for their own safety, and this was a sad moment for the family. Have you not heard, to every thing, there is a season! And this was a season of weeping and mourning! As Ec 3:4, says, “A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;” Some more advice for Jonadab is found in Pr 15:2, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” The words of Jonadab show us exactly what kind of person he is. He speaks only for his own self-interest and inflated ego. Let us learn from this and seek to use our tongues rightly. Prov 15:23b says, “a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” And in Eph 4:29 we are admonished to: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Jonadab's words added nothing of value to the situation. He would have been much better off saying nothing at all. Hmmmmmm. Father help me to measure my words and learn to us them as vessels of grace.