Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bitterness is lethal


2 Samuel 17:1-4 Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose 12,000 men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only one man’s life that you seek. Then you will be at peace with all the people.” This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.


King David is being run out of the palace and place of authority by his own son. Absalom covets his dads authority and position. He also has anger and bitterness towards his dad.  He had gone to a great effort to act on his bitterness and hatred towards his dad.  He had horses and chariots, runners, and an entourage. 

It is possible that having a chariot and horses and an entourage of fifty runners could be construed as official language for status as either a king or the heir to the throne. The chariots featured two yoked horses with one or two others harnessed beside. Two spoked, wooden wheels on a rear axle supported a small platform occupied by a driver and rider equipped with bow and spear. The sides only went up to midthigh on the standing occupants. The word used here suggests an ornamental chariot of the sort used both in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The luxury transportation of the day, these were typically gilded with all variety of gold, lapis lazuli and precious stones.

Those who run before chariots proclaim the presence of the king or prince and protect his person. In Hittite texts the gods are said to run before the king's chariot leading to victory. The men who run before the king's chariot function as heralds. Fifty was a regular unit within the military. Having such an entourage gave Absalom a bodyguard as well as the rank of captain. Wherever he went, his fifty runners would have raised attention and given credence to his claim to his status as heir apparent.

When a prince wishes to displace his father the king, it is inevitable that he will attempt to undermine the king's authority with public statements about corruption or governmental malpractice. For example, the Ugaritic king Keret is denounced by his son for not hearing the cases of widows, the poor or the oppressed. Absalom employs this same strategy, taking advantage of a lack of leadership on David's part (failure to appoint judges) and of growing discontent among the northern tribes. In addition to offering them a model of efficient administration of justice, Absalom also plays the “common man,” not allowing supplicants to bow to him but kissing them as an equal or friend.


Bitterness, covetousness, unforgiveness and anger are very dangerous and can be lethal to relationships. It is hard to imagine that Absalom was so full of bitterness that he approved his own dad being murdered. 


"Lord, please help me be aware of any and all areas of unforgiveness and bitterness in my life. Search me oh God, and know my thoughts I pray. See if there be any wicked way within me. In Jesus' name, amen"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Receiving more than we ask for

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6 NLT)


Peter and John were going into the temple to pray as was their usual custom. On the way into the temple, a lame man began to beg for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said to the man, "look at us". The Bible says the man looked expecting to receive some money.

Peter told the man we do not have any money for you, but I have something that I will give you, and Peter reached out his hand to the man and said rise and walk. The man reached out his hand grabbed Peter's hand, and began to walk.


Peter had to have something before he could give it. He didn't have money to give to the man, but he had something much, much better...a miracle. This beggar no doubt got up that morning hoping that he would receive some money to help him buy some food, or whatever else he may have needed. But instead he received a healing, where he could walk and work without having to beg anymore. He received much more then he asked for.

James says that we have not because we ask not. May we not be afraid to ask the Lord for whatever we have need of, regardless of how large and impossible it may seem to us.


"Lord, thank you for this lesson from your word today. May I be like Simon Peter and always have something greater than money to give to people. May I walk in your blessing, favor and anointing. I want to always ask in spite of how large or impossible my situation may seem to me. Lord you are the God of the impossible. Thank you for this word of encouragement that has lifted my faith and given me hope. In Jesus's name, amen!"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Whose in charge?


Mark 4:37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 


The "lake" is the Sea of Galilee, a body of water 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills. Winds blowing across the land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms. The disciples were seasoned fishermen, who had spent their lives fishing on this huge lake, but during this squall they panicked. 

The Christian life may have more stormy weather than calm seas. The disciples needed rest, but they encountered a terrible storm. As Christ's follower, be prepared for the storms that will surely come. Do not surrender to the stress, but remain resilient and recover from setbacks. With faith in Christ, you can pray, trust, and move ahead. When a squall approaches, lean into the wind and trust God. 


I would like to share with you some thoughts from Max Lucado on this subject: 

When the restaurant waiter brings you a cold hamburger and a hot soda, you want to know who is in charge. When a young fellow wants to impress his girlfriend, he takes her down to the convenience store where he works and boasts, "Every night from five to ten o’clock, I’m in charge." We know what it means to be in charge of a restaurant or a store, but to be in charge of the universe? This is the claim of Jesus. 

There are many examples of Jesus’ authority, but I’ll just mention one of my favorites. Jesus and the disciples are in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. A storm arises suddenly, and what was placid becomes violent—monstrous waves rise out of the sea and slap the boat. Mark describes it clearly: "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped" (Mark 4:37 NIV). 

It’s very important that you get an accurate picture, so I’m going to ask you to imagine yourself in the boat. It’s a sturdy vessel but no match for these ten-foot waves. It plunges nose first into the wall of water. The force of the waves dangerously tips the boat until the bow seems to be pointing straight at the sky, and just when you fear flipping over backward, the vessel pitches forward into the valley of another wave. A dozen sets of hands join yours in clutching the mast. All your shipmates have wet heads and wide eyes. You tune your ear for a calming voice, but all you hear are screams and prayers. All of a sudden it hits you—someone is missing. Where is Jesus? He’s not at the mast. He’s not grabbing the edge. Where is he? Then you hear something—a noise … a displaced sound … as if someone is snoring. You turn and look, and there curled in the stern of the boat is Jesus, sleeping! 

You don’t know whether to be amazed or angry, so you’re both. How can he sleep at a time like this? Or as the disciples asked, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" (Mark 4:38 NIV). 

The very storm that made the disciples panic made him drowsy. What put fear in their eyes put him to sleep. The boat was a tomb to the followers and a cradle to Christ. How could he sleep through the storm? Simple—he was in charge of it. 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples,"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:39–40 NIV) 

Incredible…Is it any wonder the disciples were willing to die for Jesus? Never had they seen such power; never had they seen such glory. It was like, well, like the whole universe was his kingdom. 

It’s only right that they declare his authority. It’s only right that we do the same. And when we do, we state without question: The ruler of the universe rules our hearts. He truly is the Master of not only the wind, but of the universe! 


"Lord, I am so thankful that You are not only the Master of the wind, but of every situation that I face. I choose to stay close to You today through prayer, Bible study, and meditation. Help me to remember this Word and story as I face whatever this day holds. In Jesus' name, amen!"