Godly Collusion

After recent hearings in Washington, I am amazed by so many politicians that openly exhibit political motives going against someone or thing compared to those who are trying to do what is right and good. I am not naive to the fact that many people do things out of self interest at whatever cost to those with whom they don’t agree, but it never ceases to amaze me how far people will go to disparage someone else they see as a competitor. In a competition, someone needs to win and someone needs to lose and therein lies the the problem.

David and Saul were supposed to be on the same side. They started out on the same side, but as time went on Saul continued to move to attack David. He followed after him doggedly obsessed with him. Saul was Israel’s king. He was supposed to be looking out for the welfare of Israel. David always seemed to be looking out for Israel, so when Saul continued to chase after him, he made all his decisions based on the fact that Saul was King of Israel. Dave had opportunity to kill Saul, but didn’t. Saul actively tried to kill David, but God protected David.

A clear example of David’s heart is found in I Samuel 23. The Philistines attacked Keilah, a city of Judah. Saul was busy chasing David.  David was concerned about Keilah and asked God if he should go there and fight the Philistines.  God told David to go and that he would rescue them from the Philistines.The 600 men with David were afraid but in David’s mind it was 600 men to 1 God. God won in David’s mind.

For Saul, Keilah was the place he might catch David. I don’t think Saul was thinking about the Philistines. David somehow knew what Saul was up to and asked God about staying in Keilah and whether the people of Keilah would turn him over to Saul to save themselves even though David had rescued them from the Philistines. God told David they would give him over to Saul. So David left Keilah and then Saul was no longer interested in going there.

Leadership is defined in many ways by men according to their own motives, desires and needs. I have heard people talk about ‘natural leadership ability’ as requirement for position. I’m really not sure what natural leadership ability is, but as I think back through the Old Testament, we can look at Moses as a leader, or Joseph and David and many others.  The families and people around these men did not quite think of them as leaders in the worldly sense. Their lives, however, were connected to God.  Moses was the meekest of all men (Numbers 12:3). Joseph was a ‘man in whom the spirit of God is’ (Genesis 41:38). David was a man after God’s own heart’ I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). Their leadership ability lay in their dependence and love for God and many wonderful things happened because of it.

The greatest example today is Jesus Christ. The world was not kind to him, even his family at times doubted him, religious leaders criticized him, and political leaders didn’t know what to do with him. He listened to God and led back then and continues to still lead today to bring people to God.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:20-21

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Wisdom and Spiritual Understanding

The Colossians of the New Testament were faithful believers and, although Paul may not have traveled to Colosse, he had heard about their love in the spirit from Epaphras a ‘fellow-servant ‘of God. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he expressed his hearts desire for them. What a great vision he had for them! God had put that desire in him.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; Colossians 1:9

The greatest thing you can believe and pray for in people is that they are filled to the brim with the knowledge of God’s will. Many people have a knowledge of God and what he can do, but a smaller number of people really see God’s will. The word ‘will’ is translated from the Greek word ‘thelema’ and has to do with God’s love and his desire for the best in the lives of people.

Practically applying God’s word in our lives rests and continues with wisdom and spiritual understanding.  Wisdom is skill in using knowledge and it involves spiritual understanding. Wisdom is mentioned many times in the book of Proverbs.  Solomon, who wrote Proverbs asked God for wisdom and wisdom he got!

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

The book of Proverbs is loaded with tremendous practical application of God’s love in the daily challenges of life as we relate to others and how we function as human beings. So often when I am having difficulty in understanding situations, the book of Proverbs comes to the rescue in getting to the bottom of what is going on.

I have met many people who know and recite the words of the Bible verbatim, but have little understanding as to how it really benefits them. They can recite and teach the great ideas in the Word but without wisdom and spiritual understanding the words of the Bible are just words. Too often, people quit their pursuit of God and fall back on emotion, feelings or other diversions to add juice and meaning to their lives. They miss out on the greatest resource that has ever been available for mankind.

The word of God is living and was never meant to be dull theology.  It is exciting! God has given us the gift of holy spirit to ensure that the ‘eyes of our understanding can be enlightened’ (Ephesians 1:18) when we look to God’s word. The gift of holy spirit was made available to all who believe after the ascension of Jesus Christ to his highly exalted position as the head of the Church of God.

10 That ye might walk worthy (translated from the Greek word ‘axios’ conveying balance in regards to weights) of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: 11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Colossians 1:10-19

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Behaving Oneself Wisely

In I Samuel 18, the words “behaving oneself wisely” appear several times as describing David’s actions working during Saul’s reign as king. David’s wise behavior benefited Saul for a while until Saul started eying David as a competitor and fear started to take a hold on his thinking. The more Saul was afraid, David’s actions was described as ‘behaving wisely’,’behaving very wisely’ and ‘behaved more wisely’ in chapter 18.

28 And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him. 29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually. 30 Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by. I Samuel 18:29-30

God worked in David.  At times Saul tried to kill David and at other times he tried to trap him:

20 And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain. 22 And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law. I Samuel 18:20-22

Wise thinking is different than overthinking. Saul was a perfect example of overthinking. Fear was involved and it grew and motivated him.  David’s actions were a result of trusting God (yes, there is active thinking in trusting God) and having a lack of fear.

So many times in life we have to deal with negative things and puzzling human behavior. We all, at times, allow emotional feeling to take control of our thinking. The puzzling behavior may indeed be real, and sometimes emotions may alert us to that fact, but it is our response that divides the rubber from the road. David was dealing with some dark situations but he believed and trusted God. Read through the Psalms written by David. You will find some great prayers recorded by David there which are great examples of David pouring his heart out to God.

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Finding God

Recently, a question came up as to how a person can really get to know God. With more than 24,000 denominations around, where do you go to find truth? How do you know it is true? Usually, in the groups that I have been involved with through the years, I have found differences in doctrine and beliefs. The lack of unity among Christians can be quite discouraging. God, however, is far from discouraging.

It is not hard to see God’s imprint on one’s life. By imprint, I mean things like peace, joy and love that have completely bypassed understanding.  God is definitely a God of miracles and signs, things we can see, but He really inserts Himself much deeper in our hearts than we can see by our five senses.

I used to think finding truth was an insurmountable task. It is not really, but I think the culture around us might make it seem that way. The minute we start on a truth quest, God is quick to open his heart and we begin to start developing trust in who He is. When there is even a little bit of trust we can have patience as we are spurred on to learn more.

But where and how do we learn about Him?  For myself, I look back on the different teachers and groups that I have been involved in and, in hind sight, I can see what they contributed and why at a certain point I got to a place in each where it was time to sometimes sadly move on.

For me, there have been two constant companions in loving God: the Word and the gift of holy spirit. In these two entities lie the open door to truth. The Word is the story of God’s heart and though we can’t see God because He is spirit, the main topic of the Bible is the the revealing of His human son and what that means for a person who believes. Jesus Christ is the way to God. There is an Old Testament (before the birth of Jesus Christ) and a New Testament (after his birth). God remains the same throughout the Bible. The birth of Jesus Christ brought a new dynamic to man’s relationship to God. The gift of holy spirit (God is The Holy Spirit, holy spirit is His gift) unites all those who believe. Jesus Christ is the head of this group. He is Lord.  The words ‘lord’ and  ‘god’ are titles indicating authority. He is the authority to the church. This means he has authority over his sphere of influence, the people who have responded to God and are connected through the spirit.

So where do you start? In order to understand anything about God, you have to take a look at His Words. You go directly to the source.  I think there are great people who teach the Bible, but our faith should not be based on an organization, or people. We have a leader in Jesus Christ and we personally have God’s word and communication through holy spirit. That’s the New Testament!

The Bible is not just printed pages. With a humble approach to its contents, it is a source of life! People I have talked with claim that there are too many versions and translations for it to be right. Actually, I read the King James Version and that probably the hardest one to read. I’m no genius but through trusting in God and staying at it, the spirit of God enlivens that book like no other. Having the King James Version incredibly inspire me is a testimony in and of itself!

It is obvious that God created the heavens and the earth.  We can see that everywhere we look! So why not start in Genesis chapter 1 and start reading. Ask God questions and be patient. If you don’t understand it, don’t worry about it, let Him work in your heart.  The Old Testament is chock full of men and women who stood for God and yet had many flaws and indiscretions. They did great things. So don’t let guilt, shame and condemnation stop your search either.

There is a God of this universe that created the beautiful blue sky, sunsets, sunrises, trees, flowers, stars and the human body.  When you look at a tree you don’t see all the magnificent things going on inside it until you start examining it closely and asking questions like: “why are the leaves flat like they are?” If you start looking at the Word in the same way, you will be amazed! It is the most important thing you’ll ever do.

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Drawn Because Of Our Love For God

The fact that David is called ‘a man after God’s own heart’ indicates that David’s nature had a God-centered personality. This would draw people to him for different reasons. After the defeat of Goliath, David got a lot of attention, including the King of Israel, Saul:

58 And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite. 18 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. I Samuel 17:58 – I Samuel 18:1

Jonathan, the son of Saul, was also drawn to David. A further read into the depth of these relationships shows different reasons. Jonathan and David’s relationship is later describe as having a ‘covenant of the Lord’ (I Samuel 20:8).  Jonathan was drawn spiritually to David as a man who loved God. Saul’s relationship moved in another direction toward viewing David as a competitor after seeing how people reacted to David:

9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. 10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God (it wasn’t from God, but because Saul had waded into the spiritual mud so to speak and he was getting dirty)  came upon Saul, and he prophesied  in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. 12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.

Jonathan’s recognition of who David was protected David from Saul.  The love of God was involved.

Saul had become senses orientated and was looking at what David was doing to his reputation. He allowed evil to dominate his thinking.

As people who love God, the same thing happens in our lives. Some people will like us and some people won’t. We have been equipped with holy spirit to  recognize the difference so that we can still operate in love toward all and not let evil control our relationship with God.  Evil will always try to do this so sometimes we have to draw the line and be wise in the way we handle our relationships with the love of God.

 

Note:This section  in John came to mind in regards to Jesus Christ’s life in light of how some are drawn to Jesus Christ and not others:

61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can (dunamis -stored power) come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father (with the revelation of the word and the gift of holy spirit). 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. John 6:61-66

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Thankfulness IS Believing

A good yardstick for believing is one’s degree of thankfulness. Being thankful to God means there is a good amount of believing going on. There is so much around us to remind us of God’s goodness.  Just as no amount of darkness can ever cover light, God’s love always outshines the evil that exists in this world.

As I read through chapter by chapter and book by book (I and II Samuel, Chronicles, Psalms and several more) of David’s life and his heart for God, thankfulness pops up everywhere. David got it done for God. He was able to get through all the hard things and do big things, because he really acknowledged the goodness of God in his life. His worship was not a religious exercise, it was heart-felt devotion and true.

The world is in dire need of a good dose of thankful living. It is the greatest thing we can teach to our kids. The way we teach it not necessarily by telling them to be thankful, but by reminding them of the great things God has done, and teaching them to remember all the ways in which God has poured his heart out, and how God loves them and shows his love everyday. There are plenty of things to point out. God’s handiwork is everywhere.  Sometimes I think we do too much for our kids and don’t leave room for God to bless them himself.

I think we can do that to ourselves too. We go out roaring to take on the world’s pressures sometimes, and all we really need to do is stand still and wait on God. The Israelites in the Old Testament faced off against many enemies. In one such battle God told them he was going to handle it:

17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.2 Chronicles 20:17

When we see God step in like this it is mind blowing! It says in Romans that it is the goodness of God that leads a heart to God. We learn to love God not by being told we should love God, we love God in response to his love. I John puts it very simply:

We love God, because he first loved us! (I John 4:19)

I am so thankful to God for this very reason.  Even on bad days, he is even more lavish with his love if I let him. That is, of course, unless on that particular day I like being miserable. Usually when that happens I start wondering who turned out the lights because miserableness is just plain miserable. Many times when I’m having a rough day, he leads me into a giving situation and that fires me up and out of the mud.

God has got a lot of love up his sleeve to help out. We just have to get rid of the condemnation, guilt and shame and access righteousness, which he gave us long ago in Christ. That is what believing is all about! When we see the results of this powerful love over and over we build more and more thankfulness into our heart which insulates us against the next negative that comes along. Hey, if he raised Christ from the dead; how simple it must be to rescue us from the negative mind doldrums with the word!

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After God’s Own Heart – Offer Righteous Sacrifices-Psalm 4:5

In I Samuel 9-15 is the record of the rise and fall of Israel’s first king, Saul.  Israel had demanded a king to rule them. God was not all too excited about the idea, but knowing where their heads and hearts were at, he had Samuel anoint Saul. Samuel reminded the people about what it was like when God was recognized as the king in chapter 12. He reminded them of all God had done to take care of them in the face of enemies and he pointed out the fallacy of appointed a king instead of having God as their ruler:

And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. 14 If ye will fear (reverence) the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:. I Samuel 12:12-14

In chapter 13, the heart of Saul was exposed when he did not wait for Samuel to come to make offerings to God as Samuel had instructed him(I Samuel 10:8). Instead he made the offerings himself. His foolishness in doing this was not about him making the offerings instead of Samuel. Instead of trusting God in the escalation of pressure that was surrounding him, he decided to handle his anxiety through his own urgency instead of trusting God.

12 therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. 13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. 14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. I Samuel 13:12-14

The word ‘forced’ is indicative of his mindset that Saul had. God was looking for a man after his own heart. David has been called a man after God’s own heart. Throughout the 70 Psalms that David wrote, there are wonderful examples of that kind of heart such as in Psalm 4:4-5.

4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.

Sometimes it is hard for us to stand still in the righteousness that God has given us, but that is where trust takes abode.  It is in righteousness we can effectually serve our God, not in dead, ineffectual  religious zealous works which we feel forced to do to be right.  Rightness is given by grace, it is ours for the trusting.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons in life that we can learn is not to push too hard and learn to enter into the rest that God has provided us.

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