Bless the Lord

2 Samuel 7: 1 – 2             NLT

When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!”

One of the most outstanding things about David is that God calls him a man after His own heart (Acts 13: 22). When I read passages like this, I understand why. David had God on his mind.

Picture, if you will, David sitting in his palace. He has the finest home in the entire land, not just in Jerusalem, not only in Israel, but as far as the eye can see there is no finer home. He is surrounded by every luxury, the finest clothes drape his body, priceless jewels are plentiful, goblets of gold and a servant for every need. What more could a person want? None the less, David had another want, another desire. While sitting on his throne, he was thinking of Yahweh, his friend and God. Clearly, though, Yahweh had become much more to David than a remote deity. David loved God and love makes you want to do things for the one you love.

God took a young shepherd boy and turned him into a king. God vanquished all his foes and gave him riches beyond measure. So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did David love and honor God because of all God did for him or did God prosper David because of the love and trust David walked in. I believe it was the latter.

David showed remarkable faith in God’s willingness to deliver him and indeed, all Israel from a young age. Remember how incensed David was that Goliath insulted the God of Israel? There is also a great story from 1 Chronicles. David was to build an altar and make an offering to the Lord. He offered the man that owned the land full price, but the man offered to give David the land and a bull and wheat for the offering. David refused, though, saying that he would not offer to the Lord that which cost him nothing (1 Chronicles 21: 24). Wow! David showed honor and respect for the Lord. And God was faithful to David. They had (and have) a wonderful relationship and when I say God prospered him beyond measure, it is a literal truth. David passed on so much wealth to Solomon that Solomon didn’t even count the silver. There was too much too count so he only concerned himself with the Gold.

So, let me ask you this? Do you ever have the feeling that you too would like to do something for God? What would you do? He doesn’t need a new temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. What is within your power to bless God? I think you might have fun thinking through this. I hope you find something to do for God because I know it will be fun and bring joy to your heart. Have a great day!

Healed to Help

Matthew 5: 44                         (King James Version)

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. 

These are the words of Jesus from early in his ministry. We see him taking his own advice at the cross when he prayed to his father from the cross to forgive those who crucified him. Jesus knew something that we are hopefully all learning. When people act out, they are really revealing their own brokenness. When we are healed and walking in our office and authority, then these people’s offenses become an opportunity for ministry rather than a time for us to be offended. I am learning that people can do things that are prime stimuli for me to lose my peace but that it is really my decision to allow them to steal my peace or not. The stronger and more complete my healing, the less their stuff gets on me and the less it offends me. You begin to see that the people who strike out at you or attempt to hurt you are really only exhibiting their own emotional damage. As God heals their wounds, they will not feel the need to strike out at others or hurt others. Their language will correct itself and they will be able to become others centered instead of being so selfish and self-centered. We can help these people. First, physician, heal thyself. Allow God to do a work in you so that you are not susceptible to other people’s problems. Then, learn to sincerely pray for these people. Help them. Also, as you grow and people do not so easily offend you, when someone does something that once had the power to upset you, you will find that you can meet them at their point of need right then and there and minister to their need.

Reluctant Warrior

Luke 6: 32 – 35

And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Fore even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

You can know that God did not choose me as the editor of His book because had he, this section of text would have been edited out. This is Jesus speaking and presumably he is teaching from a position of understanding and wisdom. Whatsmore, everything Jesus teaches us is for our own good even though sometimes it is hard to see the spiritual law behind the command.

I suppose everyone has a thorn in their flesh and thorns are usually people. The worst part about it is that the person Jesus is speaking about above is someone you know. I hope it is not your spouse but it likely is someone in your family or church. It is usually someone close to you. That is what makes this so difficult. You can’t get away from them. Maybe it is someone you work with. No matter what a jerk they are you still have to practice your grown up Christianity. That means that we have to love the jerks even though it is to us that they are being unkind. And guess what. You really don’t even get to call them jerks. Verse 36 says for us to be merciful and verse 37 says “Do not judge.” I have to make a judgment in order to conclude someone is a jerk. 

Did you see the part about loving our enemies? How about doing good to them? What!? Are you kidding me? Now I will tell you honestly, you may be a bigger person than I but I cannot love them in my own strength. I feel strong, negative feelings bubbling up from deep within me and I want to give voice to them and they are not nice. That is me in the natural. If I am going to love them and be nice to them then it is going to have to be through the love of God within me. I am going to assume most of you are like me, still struggling a little with the flesh when you are injured. This is where we have to dig deep. We have to fill up on the love of God. We need Jesus to step out front. 

The first thing is not to let the junk come out of your mouth. Your will can help you with that but it really requires the strength of the Lord. Then start praying for the offender. You aren’t going to want to but do it anyway. Jesus wants you to pray blessings over them. It is crazy. Here is the part that is so hard. You pray for God to bless them and because God honors your prayers, even though that person is not walking in the light, they get blessed. Then they act ugly to you and Jesus wants you to pray more for them. “Look Jesus, I was already gagging on the last blessing they got and you want me to bless them more? Did you not see and hear what they just did to me?” That is what my flesh is screaming but then I am reminded of Jesus’ walk on the earth. One of his beloved betrayed him. That had to hurt. Others disappointed him but through it all he remained the picture of grace, love and blessing. And then I am challenged. I say I want to walk in this earth as did Jesus. Well, here is my opportunity. What will I choose? Shall I rant and rave and tell of the injustice done me? Or will I pray? “Okay Lord, you win, I will pray for them but you must help me as it catches in my throat.”

I imagine everyone can relate to this scenario. We have all been through it, haven’t we? So, you pray but a half hour later you find yourself angry again. Stop right then and forgive them and pray for them. Then when it rises up in you again in an hour, forgive them again and pray again. This is a battle but we are not unwise children. We have the might and the wisdom of our Lord. We’ve got to tag him and let him jump in the ring for us. He has already defeated the enemy and given us power to win. Our victory is in Jesus and in taking his advice. If we will let him be our strength and humble our wills before him, we will come through these battles victoriously.

And don’t miss the end of the passage – great will be your reward and you will be honored as a child of God.