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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Agent of Refreshment

583 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Sa 17:24-29, “ Then David went to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25 And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 So Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead. 27 Now it happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the people of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds, 29 honey and curds, sheep and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him to eat. For they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness." (2 Sam 17:23-29) All these names, all these places, (the majority of which I grossly mispronounce) yet the inclusion of them all serves as a reminder that these were not fairy tales. Real people, real places, that hold real meaning for the early readers of this Book, the Bible. Mothers, fathers, cousins, cities, regions, even the supplies brought to David are painstakingly noted. While the Bible should never be used as a pure history book, it contains enough of history to add to it's credibility. A credibility that seems to grow with every new archaeological discovery. In this portion we are again reminded of how much this revolt of Absalom's was a family feud, and we are reminded of the kindness of the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, who came out to meet David and refresh him. Later David, on his death bed, would instruct Solomon to show special kindness to the sons of Barzillai for this act of love. Let that be the major lesson we take home today. I know that even as I write this devo, there are people like the sons of Barzillai who are providing meals for people in crisis. The kindness of the sons of Barzillai was noted in Scripture by the Holy Spirit and your kindness is well noted too. Why, just providing someone with a cup of water in the name of Jesus is noted in heaven. Ga 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” How might you be an agent of refreshment for others today?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Baffled Ambition

582 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 17:21-23) Now it came to pass, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well and went and told King David, and said to David, "Arise and cross over the water quickly. For thus has Ahithophel advised against you." 22 So David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed over the Jordan. By morning light not one of them was left who had not gone over the Jordan. 23 Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father's tomb. (2 Sam 17:21-23) The spies report to David and he crosses the Jordan and not one of His people were left behind. This should cause us to remember the high priestly prayer of Jesus on His last night on earth, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (Jn 17:12) Jesus was speaking of Judas as “the son of perdition,” who like Ahithophel, committed suicide when his plans did not work out according to what he had envisioned. The biblical commentator Paul E. Kretzmann called Ahithophel's suicide, a “suicide of baffled ambition and despair.” That may seem a little simplistic in the complex matter of suicide, but it should cause us all to consider one of the major tactics of the devil, whom Jesus described as a murderer and a liar from the beginning. (Joh 8:44) To baffle as a verb means to confuse, or cloud one's thinking, “Did God really say?” as a noun, a baffle is something that restricts flow. The devil continually seeks to block the flow of God's grace and truth to us, he ever seeks to extinguish hope. When Jesus was laid in the tomb, His disciples were baffled. All hope seemed lost, but it wasn't! Because on the third day He rose again from the dead. Hope is alive! He is risen! He is risen indeed, and with His resurrection hope is alive! Pro 23:18 says, “Indeed surely there is a future hope, And your hope will not be cut off.” When life baffles your ambitions, when despair comes knocking at your door, seek to cling to the truth of God's Word. He really did say! He really does have plans for your future and they include a future with a hope! (Jer 29:11) In those dark times seek to stick with Jesus as the people stuck with David, He like David will get you safely across the Jordan.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Love Life

581 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 17:17-20, “Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed at En Rogel, for they dared not be seen coming into the city; so a female servant would come and tell them, and they would go and tell King David. 18 Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom. But both of them went away quickly and came to a man's house in Bahurim, who had a well in his court; and they went down into it. 19 Then the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth, and spread ground grain on it; and the thing was not known. 20 And when Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house, they said, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" So the woman said to them, "They have gone over the water brook." And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. (2 Sam 17:17-20) This whole scene is reminiscent of the time that Joshua's spies were sheltered and hidden by Rahab in Jericho. In this scenario, the spies were told to not go into the city but to wait by the town laundromat on the outskirts of town. (En Rogel was the place where clothes were washed) A woman brings the message to the spies but unfortunately Absalom has a little rat fink nearby who tells Absalom what he saw, and so Absalom sends men that were hot on their tail. The woman very cleverly hides them in a well and then lies to their pursuers, enabling the spies to escape. This in no way is an endorsement of lying, but it is an endorsement on the importance of protecting human life. Rahab received special commendation for her protection of the spies. We read of it in Jas 2:25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? Further, were not the midwifes commended for lying to the Egyptians in their attempts to save the newborn? “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives,” (Ex 1:20) I think of others who have lied to protect human life such as those involved with the underground railroad in America, and those like the Ten Booms, hid Jews from the Nazis in Germany. The Ten Booms were prompted to action by Ps 122:6 which states, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. They loved, and for the sake of the Jewish lives, they lied, and as we read in 1Pe 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." Little children, in all things let love be your guide.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Message For Liars

580 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 17:15,16, “Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, "Thus and so Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so I have advised. 16 "Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, 'Do not spend this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily cross over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.'" What is Hushai doing? Wasn't he aware that Absalom has decided to follow his advice rather than Ahithophel's? It's possible that Absalom's decision was made behind closed doors and Hushai and Ahithophel weren't aware of the plan, in which case Hushai would need to warn David of a worst case scenario and tell him to put as much distance between he and the Absalom's troops as possible. I'm more inclined to believe that Hushai just didn't trust that snake Absalom! Snakes are more into quick strikes than long drawn out campaigns, and snakes personified are liars. You just can't trust them. Absalom, serves as a type of devil here, and this is one thing we know about the devil. He is a liar. Jesus said in Joh 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. Unbelievers, (children of the devil) lie. It's in their DNA. Hushai knew this and the Holy Spirit here reminds us to proceed with caution when dealing with liars. Children of God, on the other hand, seek to tell the truth, it's in their spiritual DNA. Ps 51:6 says, “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,” A funny thing happens to converts to Christianity. They become truth tellers, but because of their past record of lying it often takes a long time to rebuild that trust among believers...and rightly so. Hushai proceeded with caution and so should we, lest we get burnt. For the habitual liar, who has truly become a follower of Jesus, let me say this. The only thing you can do to restore trust is to build a track record of truth-telling. How long will that take? It doesn't matter. When you sign on with Jesus you sign on with truth. Get on with it and patiently wait for the results. As a new convert remember this word from the Lord in Pr 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.” Do you want to bring delight to the Lord? Then become a truth-teller.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

That's Why It's Called His-Story

579 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 17:14 So Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel." For the LORD had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring disaster on Absalom. (2 Sam 17:14) History gives us some great examples of “good advice” defeated or ignored. Many cases simply defy all logic and should cause all to ponder the Sovereignty of God. Napoleon and Hitler both rejected the advice of advisers who urged them not to open up a two front war by attacking Russia. This was a fatal mistake for both men. In 1940 Hitler missed two major opportunities to defeat Britain when it was weakest. In June, when allied defenses in France and Belgium collapsed, he ordered his tanks not to attack the British force of 338,000 soldiers besieged on the beach at Dunkirk. So the most powerful units of the German army had to idly watch from short distance as the core of the British army was allowed to escape from a hopeless situation. Three months later, in the peak of the Battle of Britain, when the German Air Force was getting close to breaking the smaller British Air Force, Hitler changed the objective of the German Air Force from defeating the British Air Force to killing the people of London in an air bombardment campaign. The result was that the British Air Force could then recover, keep fighting effectively, and win the battle, keeping Britain from invasion. Hitler, Napoleon, Absalom, it makes no difference, kings can only advance as far as the Sovereign God allows.....that's why it's called His Story. So why does God allow them to advance in the first place? Many times, it's a matter of giving us what we ask for. Take Hitler for instance. He came to power on the heels of the eugenics movement championed by Margaret Sanger of Planned Parenthood. Hitler showed us the hellish destination of unchecked eugenics. You'd think we'd learn! We tend to wring our hands over the decisions made by those in power, but very often, we are just getting what we ask for. No need to fret. God is in control and they can only go as far as He allows for Pr 21:1 says, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tearing Down Strongholds

578 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 17:12,13, "So we will come upon him in some place where he may be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground. And of him and all the men who are with him there shall not be left so much as one. 13 "Moreover, if he has withdrawn into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city; and we will pull it into the river, until there is not one small stone found there."(2 Sam 17:12,13) Hushai continues to play to the pride of Absalom, painting a picture of utter annihilation of David and his forces with the sheer numbers of Absalom's loyal followers. David and his forces would be overwhelmed just as the grass is overwhelmed with morning dew. And if David is holed up in a fortified city, then let us bring ropes and tear the city down one stone at a time and throw them into the river. This dismantling of a city was usually done for the purpose of showing others not to mess with the conqueror. Again Hushai played to Absalom's pride. By the way, this strategy of “pulling down strongholds” is mentioned in 2Co 10:3-5, “ For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” Remember your arguments against God? Remember how you exalted your knowledge and wisdom over the knowledge and wisdom of God? You had built fortifications of resistance and fleshly reasoning against God and His Word. What happened? You were overpowered by the Spirit of God, by the Word of God! Stronghold are basically, “wrong thinkings,” wrong reasonings if you will. And it is the preaching or proclaiming of the Word of God that tears down strongholds. The preaching of God's Word brings us to repentance and to repent is to “think differently.” And so as the Word penetrates our spiritual ears, by the grace of God, our wrong thinking is overpowered by the One who is greater than he who is in the world, and we come to the one true faith. Faith in God and His Word tears down strongholds, and it comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Feeding the Animal of Pride

578 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 2Sa 17:9-11, "Surely by now he is hidden in some pit, or in some other place. And it will be, when some of them are overthrown at the first, that whoever hears it will say, 'There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.' 10 "And even he who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt completely. For all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and those who are with him are valiant men. 11 "Therefore I advise that all Israel be fully gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, like the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. (2 Sam 17:9-11) Hushai seeks to buy David some time by thwarting the advice of Ahithophel. He reminds Absalom of David's past battlefield strategies involving ambush. David was a master at guerrilla warfare and even now was likely holed up in a place where he would be able to spring a surprise attack on any unwitting enemy. Hushai has already thrown out words like a mama bear protecting her cubs and now uses the word valiant to describe David and his men. This would stir up memories of past battlefield exploits of David and send a few chills down the spine of Absalom and his men. Then Hushai plays to Absalom's pride. Why not go after David with all the men of Israel, and YOU lead the way. Imagine the press clippings as you move out from Jerusalem with such a massive army of loyal soldiers led by their new king. Pride. The chink in the armor of Absalom, and a huge chink in our armor as well. The Bible has much to say about pride: For instance we know that, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, (James 4:6) and Pr 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.” Ps 138:6 says, “Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.” And in Col 3:12 we are admonished to “clothe ourselves in humility.” Pride is an animal easily roused and easily fed, our flesh always wants to think more highly of itself than it ought. Resist the flattery of the flesh and remember that “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov 16:18) Father, guard our hearts from pride.