Don’t give up

John 16:21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

There are things in this life that we pray for, wait for, believe God for. We shed many tears and lose many hours of sleep.  Sometimes we feel like giving up….like we can’t hold on for another moment.

But what if we knew that breakthrough was right around the corner?  If you knew that it would only be a little while longer, could you keep holding on?

One day….maybe very soon…. that which you have waited for in faith, you will see with your eyes. All the pain, the tears and the sorrow will be forgotten…for the joy over what has been gained.

Hold on just a little while longer my friend.  One day soon you will be so glad that you did.

Leaving everything for a king

I have always loved the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. She was obviously an amazing woman having suffered through marriage to a man like Nabal…. a wise woman, able to disarm the anger of an offended David….. and a humble woman willing to take the blame for the act of a foolish husband for the sake of her household.

1 Samuel 25:2 Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.

Nabal wasn’t just rich. He was very rich. Abigail enjoyed a comfortable life with all the luxuries that wealth could afford someone in those days. She lived in prosperity (25:6) The day that David’s servants came to Nabal, he was holding a feast and was very drunk so Abigail told him the next day everything that had happened and how shamefully he had treated the servants of David. Apparently Nabal immediately had a heart attack and died ten days later.

While Jewish inheritance laws may not have given Abigail complete possession of Nabal’s wealth (and we do not know whether there were sons), she would have been well provided for by the estate. She would have continued to have a comfortable life. But when David sent an offer of marriage to her she didn’t hesitate or reason whether she wanted to leave the comforts she enjoyed for a life that would involve wandering the wilderness of Israel with David and his army. She simply walked away from everything.

1 Samuel 25:40-42 When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, “David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.” Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife.

Even though David was a fugitive at this time, she knew that he was destined for more (25:30). So she left everything for the promise of a kingdom that was to come and a relationship of intimacy with the king. Life would have become more difficult for her, less comfortable. Those who knew her may have through she was crazy. He didn’t seem to be much right now except a fugitive. But she saw the reality that was to come and who this man was to be and she was willing to give up everything to be with him and to be part of his future.

Let’s learn from Abigail. Can we not respond with the same level of abandon to a much greater King? Walking with Him may not always be the most comfortable life….but THE KING! We get to be with THE KING! Wealth, prestige, power and everything the world has to offer will all fade away. But the kingdom of Jesus Christ will endure forever. He picked up His cross and came for you….now pick up your cross and follow Him. You may not see the glory of His kingdom now, but one day…soon…that glory will fill the whole earth.

Using God

1 Samuel 4:3 And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.”

1 Samuel 4:5-8 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

Israel apparently saw no need to consult God regarding their battle plans prior to engaging the enemy. However when their efforts failed they (the elders of Israel) blamed the Lord and then went to get the ark to ensure their future victory – something He had not told them to do. They didn’t want His guidance, they just wanted His power at work in the course they had determined to pursue. It’s almost as though the ark was some magical object, as though they didn’t recognize the awesome presence associated with it. There seemed to be no real reverence for the holiness of God…”let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us”….they wouldn’t go to Him for guidance but wanted Him to come to them for victory.

What a shout they gave as the ark came into the camp, but was it merely the shout of those who felt certain that their victory was now assured and not a shout of praise to the Lord God? How tragic that He actually seems to be more reverenced by the heathen than His own people.

God is not the means to our end. He is not some useful object to help us get what we want in life (even the religious things we want in life). He is Almighty God and He will not stoop to serve the agendas of men. If you are found to be using God for your own selfish gain, don’t be surprised to find yourself defeated before your enemy.

Give me a man

The Philistines are first mentioned in the book of Genesis in connection with Abraham, but we don’t really see any conflict with them until Isaac had to re-dig the wells that Abraham dug because the Philistines had stopped up the wells by filling them with earth. The Philistines made themselves an enemy to the son of promise and remained at enmity with Israel from that time forward.

Saul was king of Israel when Goliath of Gath, a Philistine, issued this challenge:

1 Samuel 17:10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

The entire Israelite army was dismayed and greatly afraid for Goliath was a giant (estimated to be at least 9 feet and possibly over 11 feet tall). Day after day, for forty days, Goliath issued his challenge and it remained unaccepted. This was more than just the challenge of one man to another man, but it was the challenge of one people to another. The freedom of an entire people rested on the outcome of this battle. On one of these days David was present. I love his response to the words of Goliath…..” who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

And so, after being approved by King Saul to accept the challenge, David gathered his weapons for battle….

1 Samuel 17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

Nothing fancy or elaborate here. Nothing seemingly very powerful. He is so unimpressive that Goliath disdained him because he was only a youth (17:42). He was just a boy. We are familiar with the story from here – David’s mighty victory and the beginning of his fame. But as amazing as his victory was, there was always another battle to fight and another enemy to conquer.

The enemy demanded a man. Saul sent a boy. The victory was incomplete.

The enemy (Satan) is still demanding a man. For multiplied thousands of year, he has been demanding every man. And he has won so often because there was no champion to defeat him, and thus he makes slaves of men. Slaves to sin….slaves to depravity…slaves to lawlessness….slaves to self-will.

But heaven watched on…..a plan already formulated. A body was prepared for THE MAN who would defeat this powerful enemy for all time. No other battle would be necessary.   The enemy raged…”give me a man”. And God did just that.

John 19:5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”

And just as David, he chose no elaborate battle gear or wartime weapons. He defeated the enemy with a cross.

Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The uncontested champion of time and eternity – Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Behold the Man.


Carriers of the Presence

2 Samuel 6:1-3 Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.

David’s desire to bring the ark to Jerusalem was indeed a good thing. But a good thing can be done the wrong way. When the Philistines returned the ark to Israel, they returned it on a new cart (1 Samuel 6:7). They had no way to know what God required concerning moving the ark so they did what they thought best. And now when David was ready to bring the ark to Jerusalem he also used a new cart to transport the ark, even though he had God’s law which gave instruction as to how the ark is to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites.

Maybe David hadn’t looked into it and just assumed that because it worked for the heathen it would work for him. But God never intended us to follow in the footsteps of the worldly and especially when related to the sacred things. His way should have been sought out so that the holy things would not be handled carelessly….for when that happens, lives are affected.

Deuteronomy 10:8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day.

Numbers 7:9 But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.

There were three divisions of the Levites and each was assigned specific duties related to the Tabernacle. It was the sons of Kohath who carried the most holy things…including the ark of the Presence. Why were they chosen from the three? I wonder if their very names give us a clue…

Gershon means “exile, a refugee – someone forced to live outside of their own country”. This represents believers who live as foreigners in the kingdom of God. They call Jesus king but their allegiance is divided because they feel more comfortable in the other kingdom and secretly long for its pleasures and comforts, yet realize that they cannot indulge in such lest the king become angry and banish them. It’s very possible that these Gershonites fear hell more than they love God.

Merari means “bitter”. This represents people who are loaded down by their resentments and unforgiveness, and maybe even just the sorrows and disappointments of life. They have become inwardly focused….rehearsing and nursing their wounds leaves them no time or inclination to carry the Presence.

The name Kohath means “to ally oneself”. To ally means to join together, to unite, to cooperate. This represents those who are “all in”. United with King Jesus and His kingdom purpose, having no other allegiance, they have joined themselves to this King and delight to be part of His work in the earth.

While Gershon, Merari and Kohath were unable to change their assignment, we are. Today’s Merari can be tomorrow’s Kohath. God’s way is for us to be carriers of His Presence. That is His way for all of us….He is no respecter of persons. But not everyone will be a carrier of the Presence. Many people are content with the new carts of religious activity which offer nothing life giving….for them or anyone else. Perhaps that is because being a carrier of the Presence requires something of you. It is an investment of your life to seek the face of God and dwell in His Presence. But the benefit of it….Oh the benefit!! What greater privilege could we have than to live with Him so much in the secret place that the sweetness of that fellowship is carried into every public place?

We only have a few short years on this earth. Don’t waste it with new carts. Be a carrier of the Presence of God.

The error of the hasty man

Matthew 1:20  “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The word “thought” (Strongs 1760) means to ponder or deliberate, but the root word has the meaning of passion, anger and heat. So Joseph’s musings were probably not a calm reasoning through of the situation but rather an emotionally charged review of what had happened. He must have felt so hurt and betrayed. Thank God he didn’t react in the heat of passion assuming (as anyone naturally would) that he understood what had happened. He didn’t understand what had happened, and had that man acted rashly in the heat of anger (which was actually fueled by righteousness) he would have missed the privilege of a lifetime.

Don’t think you always understand what is happening just because you know certain things by your senses. There are spiritual realities at work all around us that we might just miss out on for lack of thinking….pondering….wondering….if there might be a greater reality than what we have observed. Turn aside and see….stay still and listen….make sure you don’t miss out on the glorious thing God wants to do just because it doesn’t make sense to you.


Seeing sons a great way off – Part 3 – The rest of us

Returning sons are rarely a pretty sight. Often they’ve made a mess of things and our first inclination can be, at least in our heart, an “I told you so” or maybe “you should have known better”. However, let’s remember that it is not honorable nor spiritual to usurp the role of accuser of the brethren. We may commend ourselves for our “ministry” to them if we pray a nice prayer or buy them a hamburger. But the returning sons need the faithful sons to walk with them, encourage them, and remind them of the Father’s heart for them. They don’t need our things….they need our life, our time and our love. How many returning sons never made it all the way back home because of the disapproving looks of those who couldn’t forget the shame they brought to their Father’s house.

Don’t be ashamed to love them even if others disapprove. The Father isn’t ashamed of them and neither is Jesus. They are His brothers and He rejoices in that.

If necessary, bear the reproach of those that don’t understand and let God sort it all out in that day. It’s okay to be misunderstood. It’s okay to be wrongly judged. But it is not okay for your love to fail. Love them all the way home.