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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Perfect Storm

491 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 11:1 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. (2 Sam 11:1) Once again we are introduced to a portion of Scripture with the words, “It happened.” These words always tell us that some important events are about to take place. Some very important lessons are about to be taught. Pay attention whenever you see the phrase, “It happened” in Scripture. Even the time of the year is worth mentioning in this instance. First and foremost it was in spring that armies went out to war. The impossible conditions of winter, now passed, armies could move about freely and array themselves for battle. Yes, spring was the time when kings went to war. But, let us not forget that spring is also a season when “Love is in the air.” The sights, the sounds, the aromas, of nature are noticeable everywhere, except on the battlefield. It's when we learn about the birds and the bees just by observing God's creation. Amore is ever placed before us and consequently, thoughts of romance are easily stirred. “But David remained at Jerusalem.” Away from the battlefield and left alone with his thoughts, David is about to become a willing participant in the perfect storm. Conditions are ripe for a nasty fall. Sexual temptation is all around us. It needs no help from the seasons, but there are some steps we can take to guard against our own nasty falls. First of all, don't isolate yourself. The devil roams around like a lion seeking those who have separated themselves from the herd. Keep connected to fellow followers of Christ. Talk with other warriors about those perfect storm conditions that give you trouble. This will help you to more readily identify them, and flee from them when they occur. Decide to remove yourself from those environments that cause you to stumble. Do not be a willing participant in your perfect storm. Get on your horse David and flee sexual immorality! Connect with the troops. Open up to them and find out that you are not alone in your struggles. Then pray up! And let the Lord provide the help you need to overcome! Father, help those today who are fighting sexual temptation. Help them to overcome.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sin Has Consequences

490 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 11:1a “It happened in the spring of the year,” (2 Sam 11:1a) Today we begin one of the most noted accounts in all of Scripture. We begin the account of David's sin with Bathsheba. The Bible never sugar coats it's heroes. Even David, “the man after God's own heart,” was prone to temptation and sin. His sin would have devastating effects on very real people. There would be serious consequences in his family, in Bathsheba's family, and even in the families of his subjects. May this account help us to realize that our sin has far reaching consequences in the lives of others. And may it act as a curb to our own behavior, before we cross that line and bring ruin and pain to those whom we claim to love. It's true, not all of this account is bad news. For even in this situation, we find God working to redeem it. David's accounts of this incident, it's results on him personally, and the joy he experienced when he received the forgiveness of God are all recorded for us in various Psalms that we will visit in the days ahead. This is great news for those who have fallen into sin. There is hope! But it doesn't remove the fact that our sin has consequences. The end result turned out well. What the devil meant for harm God turned into good, but let us not use that as an excuse to give place to sin on our own lives. As the Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ro 6:1-4, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The ripple effect of sin is inevitable, but we can prevent that effect, we can avoid the pain, by learning to live in the newness of life that comes with faith in Christ. Father, help us all to embrace the newness of life we have in Jesus. Guard our hearts from all manner of worldly lust.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jesus The Victor!

489 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 10:13-19, “ So Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. 14 When the people of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled before Abishai, and entered the city. So Joab returned from the people of Ammon and went to Jerusalem. 15 When the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered together. 16 Then Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the River, and they came to Helam. And Shobach the commander of Hadadezer's army went before them. 17 When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in battle array against David and fought with him. 18 Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen of the Syrians, and struck Shobach the commander of their army, who died there. 19 And when all the kings who were servants to Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians were afraid to help the people of Ammon anymore. (2Sa 10:13-19,) What do we have here? Joab defeats the Syrians, Abishai defeats the Ammonites. The Ammonites retreat to their fortress and Joab returns to Jerusalem. But the Syrians aren't done, they amass for more warfare with Israel. When David heard that the Syrians were ready for one final battle, he gathered his troops and annihilated them, and the commander of the Syrian army was “done in.” Then all the kings became subject to Israel. I am reminded of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The devil tried to defeat Him with three temptations, but like the Syrians and the Ammonites was defeated. But we are told that the he backed off and waited for another opportunity. Lu 4:13 says, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” Another opportune time came in the Garden of Gethsemane but Jesus prevailed again and went on to crush the enemy on a hill outside Jerusalem called Calvary. On that day, the devil was “done in.” And as followers of Jesus the devil no longer has power over us. The accuser has been cast down! And one day our conquering Savior will return and remove the enemy once and for all! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let's At Least Agree To Call Sin, Sin

487 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 10:10-12, “And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, that he might set them in battle array against the people of Ammon. 11 Then he said, "If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12 "Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight." (2 Sam 10:10-12) What a picture of Christian responsibility in the area of spiritual battles. When a brother or sister is in the midst of spiritual battle and they are being overcome by the enemy, we need to come alongside them with prayer, exhortation, and loving correction when necessary. Joab encourages his troops to “man up” and be strong not for themselves but for the sake of the people and the cities of our God.” The people and the cities of God is just another way of saying “the Church.” Do you get this? We need to be strong in the face of the enemy for the sake of God's Church. Again, this speaks of a unified front in prayer, exhortation, and loving correction. Let's, (like the Israelites,) “ get on the same page and see what God will do.” We see this same exhortation from the Holy Spirit in Paul's instructions to the Corinthians in 1Co 16:13,14, “ Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.” It is imperative that we seek to guard all aspects of faith in our individual congregations, for the sake of God's church at large. And we are to do it with love. This includes taking steps against moral laxity as the Corinthians were instructed to do. The biblical commentator Lenski says that “faith is always endangered when the eye is sleepy or dulled against wrong conduct.” There will always be doctrinal differences in the church, but can we at least agree on calling sin....sin, and then deal with it in accordance with the Word of God......courageously, and with love. Father, help us to be loving and strong for the sake of Your church. In Jesus Name, Amen

Monday, October 27, 2014

Strength In Unity

487 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 10:10-12, “And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, that he might set them in battle array against the people of Ammon. 11 Then he said, "If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12 "Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight." (2 Sam 10:10-12) What a picture of Christian responsibility in the area of spiritual battles. When a brother or sister is in the midst of spiritual battle and they are being overcome by the enemy, we need to come alongside them with prayer, exhortation, and loving correction when necessary. Joab encourages his troops to “man up” and be strong not for themselves but for the sake of the people and the cities of our God.” The idea of being strong here is that of fastening onto something and that speaks of unity. Joab is saying, “let's get on the same page and see what God will do. This fully aligns with that beautiful message in Ps 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing-Life forevermore.” God loves a unified front in His church and commands a blessing wherever He finds it. Jesus emphasized this truth in His priestly prayer found in Joh 17:20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. So God not only commands a blessing for unity in His church, but this display of unity or strength is a great aid to evangelism! More on this subject of unity next time. Father, help us to develop this kind of strength in Your church, that the world may better know Jesus.

Friday, October 24, 2014

We Don't have To Wring Our Hands, Just Fold Them

486 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 10:7-9, “ Now when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men. 8 Then the people of Ammon came out and put themselves in battle array at the entrance of the gate. And the Syrians of Zoba, Beth Rehob, Ish-Tob, and Maacah were by themselves in the field. 9 When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel's best and put them in battle array against the Syrians. 2 Sam 10:7-9) Warfare is warfare, whether it be physical or spiritual. The people of Ammon and their hired thugs the Syrians, serve as a type of the the forces of our great enemy.....the devil. Eph 6:12 reminds us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is but one weapon that men of flesh have against spirit beings and that is prayer. When Joab saw that the battle was before him and behind him, he chose Israel's best warriors to meet the attack from behind. These warriors could be likened to the Christian prayer warriors of today. They are those who, moved by the Spirit, stand in the gap. They know full well that the enemy's greatest threat is from behind. His attacks are more subtle than frontal, and often catch us off guard. Eze 22:30 reminds us that God is looking for mighty men and women of prayer in His church! “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land,” As Christians we are all called to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) and even if we don't not know how to intercede, we can always appeal to Jesus Christ, our great Intercessor, who has defeated death and the grave. Heb 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Christians in Muslim dominated countries today, are facing tremendous persecution. Unspeakable acts of violence are being carried out against them and even their children. How helpless we often feel in this situation. What can we do? Well, because of Jesus Christ, we don't have to wring our hands........ just fold them in prayer, and come to the True Seat of Power asking for His intervention. Father,we are helpless to come to the aid of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please Jesus act with power on their behalf.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Stench of Sin

485 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 10:6 “When the people of Ammon saw that they had made themselves repulsive to David, the people of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth Rehob and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand foot soldiers; and from the king of Maacah one thousand men, and from Ish-Tob twelve thousand men. (2 Sam 10:6) I like the way the King James puts v6, “and when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David.” These people were a stench in the nostrils of David! In my teen years I worked at a diner, and there was a regular customer who would come in for a meal after his shift at the local rendering plant. We lived downwind from that plant and I can still remember the putrid smell that would waft our way. But this man just reeked of the renderings, and the smell clung to his clothing. He was oblivious to it all, because he was used to it. But I literally would have to hold my breath when I approached him to take his order and deliver his food. It was a retching odor that I remember to this day. This is the way it is with sin. It reeks in the nostrils of God, and one of the dangers we face is we get comfortable with it. We forget how offensive it is in the nostrils of God, and unless we do something about it. The smoke of our sin clings to us and wafts up to God. Isa 65:5 says, “Who say, 'Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day” A holier than thou attitude is pride, it says to God, “I don't stink!” This attitude is repulsive to God! So what do we do about it? Well Jesus came to this garbage dump of sin, and touched the reeking lepers. He cleansed them and offers to cleanse us as we receive Him as Lord and Savior. Beware of becoming comfortable in your sin. Make it a practice to regularly wash yourself in the promises of God's Word. 1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, (admit that we reek) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Father, thank You for cleansing me from the stench of my sins.