Put On Your ‘Nike’

If David had been a Facebook user, I wonder how many friends he would have had. Reading through the books of Samuel, Chronicles, and Psalms, there are records of many difficult times in his life. There were  times he didn’t have a lot of friends. He was oftentimes counted as the enemy for many. Even some of his family were critical of his zeal.

24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Popularity depends on many factors, many of which have to to with with fitting into the culture and holding popular views. In order to have many friends, a person has to be friendly in a non-offensive way. The ‘friend’ talked about in the second part of Proverbs 18:24 is a rare find. This friend is a person who stays with someone through thick or thin. David had such a relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s son.

A good friend is a friend by their own choice. Jonathan chose to be a friend of David.  He was loyal, truthful and risked his life to help David against his enemies.  Jonathan’s father, Saul was after David and Jonathan helped him several times to evade his father’s attacks.

True friendship like that of Jonathan and David is a rare blessing.  It is one that should be treasured, respected and fully appreciated.  It is more than just having something in common or being useful to someone. We often develop connections in jobs, neighborhoods, school, religious groups, coffee shops, business, bars and any place where people gather together. They may be lasting relationships or short-term.

Friendship with things of the world are very short-term. The current fad fades away. Connections based on worldly philosophies, ideologies and usefulness fritter out. We make many mistakes in this life, the world is not an easy place. True friends encourage us to be overcomers; not resigners and bellyachers. We will be known by our victories.

4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh (from the Greek word ‘nike’) the world: and this is the victory (nike) that overcometh (nike) the world, even our faith .5 Who is he that overcometh (nike) the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? I John 5:3-5

Jonathan helped David lace up his ‘nike’. In one sense Jonathan’s life foreshadows the life of Christ. David was defined by his victories because God was his friend despite David’s faults and imperfections. Jonathan was a true friend to help him. Jonathan warned David about his father. There is a man who is a friend, Jesus, that encourages us about his father.

15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. John 15:15

Jesus Christ has torn down the enmity between God and man through his own life when he walked the earth and now as he exists at the right hand service of God. He is collecting the friends of God together as God’s church.

We too can be defined by our victories not our mistakes as we look to the author and finisher of our wholeness, completeness and peace, Jesus Christ, the son of God (Hebrews 2:2).  He is our ‘nike’ or victory in living this life!


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God’s Heart’s Desire and His Deliberate Determination

God’s word contains his deliberate reasoned counsel or resolve (boulema) and his heart’s willingness (passionate desire) (thelema) toward people which is his good pleasure (eudokia). God is pretty smart and he is also passionately willing.

 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh (energizes) all things after the counsel (boulema) of his own will (thelema):Ephesians 1:10-11

The Greek word “thelema is used 7 times in Ephesians (1:1,5,9,11 ;2:3; 5:17; 6:6). Ephesians is a great book to read to see the love of God at it’s apex in the wonderful grace administration period that we live in. E.W Bullinger, in describing the difference or relationship between ‘thelema’ and ‘boulema’, said “the natural impulse is stronger than the reasoned resolve’. Ephesians is addressed to God’s  engaged church, his people.

I have two kids and four grandchildren.  I love them to the moon and back (and more)!  It is not good if I don’t exercise reasoned resolve in relating to them, while at the same time have a passionate heart’s desire for their well-being. I don’t want to spoil them and yet at the same time I enthusiastically desire for them to have the absolute undeniable best.

The ‘best’ from God put forth in Ephesians is like no other book!  Things like ‘all spiritual blessings’, ‘understanding being enlightened’, ‘the exceeding riches of his grace’, ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’, ‘strengthened by his spirit’, ‘to know the love of Christ’, ‘Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly’ are just a few of God’s passionate nuggets contained in its pages. The whole book is an unveiling of God’s willingness and passionate desire.

God wants us make every effort to commit to our own wholeness by committing to him. We are to respect ourselves and strive for that which is beneficial  and godly for our lives. As we love ourselves we can love others and that is pleasing to God:

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will (thelema) and to do of his good pleasure (eudokia). Philippians 2:13

When God works in and through each of us to do his good pleasure, he inspires us from within to accomplish the task. His ‘thelema’ becomes our ‘thelema’ and that benefits all.

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The Goodness of God

There are so many verses that tell us about how much God loves and has provided for us. He is the Father of lights and there is no darkness in him:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. I John 1:5 

 There are no shadows, darkness, and no variableness with God. He is faithful and stands by his word. God is good always.

In the sixth chapter in II Samuel, there is a record that might seem to contradict the above verses. David wanted to get the Ark of God to the city of David. The Ark in the Old Testament was where God met with his people. Later it was the temple and in the New Testament it is in people’s hearts through the gift of holy spirit.

And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. II Samuel 6:3

There is no indication that David went to God to ask about this endeavor. God had given clear instructions in Exodus 25 and Number 4:15 that the Ark was to be carried in a certain way by Levites:

And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. Numbers 4:15

The use of the cart was a new man-made plan to get the Ark back to where they wanted it . For all intents and purposes, this all seemed like a good idea. However, when  God gives certain specific instructions(as in the verse above), it is for a reason. God knew how the Ark was best taken care of and he knew of the problems that could occur when plans were altered.

Men like to make wonderful plans to accomplish things for God, but that doesn’t mean they are always the right plans. The Old Testament doesn’t mention the devil very much but he was active and influencing everything he could to block God’s people. The believers in the Old Testament were not fully aware of how the devil worked. The adversary wanted to mess with the Ark as it connected man to God.

One of the men tending the cart that was carrying the Ark, reached out and touched it to steady it when the oxen pulling it shook the Ark.  Uzza was killed as he touched the Ark. God has reasons why he didn’t want those bearing the Ark to ‘touch any holy thing’. In verse seven of this chapter, the word says the anger of the Lord was kindled and that God smote Uzza for his error. This is a Hebrew figure of speech called Idiom of Permission. God had to permit this action.  He doesn’t control anyone.

Believer’s are given free will choice to follow God or not.  Since God is all good, he doesn’t cause evil. This is how the devil’s actions become exposed.  If we are not cognizant of the operations of the evil around us, God can help us deal with things wisely to protect us if we ask him or look to the word to learn more about keeping evil at bay. Jesus Christ came to reveal the adversary to God’s people. It is the gift of holy spirit that turns on the light spiritually and physically which helps to avoid darkness.

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.I John 3:8

When you really understand the Idiom of Permission in Hebrew, it clarifies so many records and contradictions disappear. God loves us and doesn’t harm us.  When you read through the Old Testament, there are so many examples of this idiom.  It becomes very clear in the New Testament, that God does not want us ignorant about evil:

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. II Corinthians 2:11

This is how we stay free. ” The same sun melts wax and hardens clay.”(Origen On First Principles 3.1.11) Our hearts can  be hardened by evil that disguises itself as good when we don’t understand or care to understand what is going on  or even acknowledge that the devil exists.  When we know God, our hearts can be softened by the love of God. We have  a choice:

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. I John 4:16

(I John is a great read in light of the topic of the goodness of God! )


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Trusting God and Prayer

In II Samuel 5 we read about two different battles David had with the Philistines after he became king of Israel. David was in the habit of consulting God before he went into battle and in these two instances he received two different sets of instructions. In the first battle, God told David simply to go ahead and that he would win. In preparation for the second battle, God had some different instructions:

23 And when David enquired of the Lord, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. 24 And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the Lord go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines. 25 And David did so, as the Lord had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer. II Samuel 5:23-24

David was told not to go. Instead he told them to circle behind the Philistines near some mulberry trees and when David heard a sound in the tops of the trees, it was a signal to decide to move. God would go out in front of them and the Philistines would be defeated. (I Chronicles 14:14)

God could have handled this all himself or he could have said “ditto” from his previous instructions. He could have made the Philistines disappear in a split second. But that is not the way God handles things. Throughout the Old Testament, there are so many records of God giving different instructions to his people on how to handle problems and enemies. This specific chapter shows two specific seemingly identical incidents that happened within a relatively short time period.

Often, as we tackle things in life and see great victories, it is very easy to fall into the trap of complacency. Sometimes when we have a great victory, we think God has deposited more power in our spiritual savings bank so that when the next thing comes along we declare to God “I got this God!”  The other thing that can creep in is to transfer the praise of God onto ourselves. Both scenarios are can be big trouble.

Problems involving our thinking, people and various circumstances never stop. The older I get, the more I realize what the power of ‘praying without ceasing’ is very real. Praying without ceasing doesn’t mean living constantly on your knees and reciting prayers over and over. Communication with God is on-going and it is with great joy and peace that we can go to him in every and any situation. We cannot afford to become complacent. Why not trust the creator of the universe with everything that comes across our path. It is not an exercise of weakness, it is an exercise of power!

Recently I had a text come to my phone to which my mind reacted very quickly on how to handle it. I shut down the reaction and put it on hold and gave it to God. The next day I read it again and I knew exactly how I should respond. This is a very small simple thing but very practical. In this day and time when we live in media chaos, twitter and Facebook-type apps, instant messaging, and instant reactions, praying without ceasing has reached a top priority:

16 Rejoice evermore.17 Pray without ceasing.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. II Thessalonians 5:16-18

The great words of Proverbs 3 stand out in this regard:

3 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:1-6


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Politics and God

The earliest form of the word ‘politics’  comes from the Greek word pertaining to the activities of the the city. The Greek word for city is the word ‘polis’. In the Bible, the first mention of a city being formed, was organized by Cain (Genesis 4:16-17). Cain was one of Adam’s sons who murdered Abel, his brother. It was to be a city of protection and self-governance. It is also was a city credited with the origins of polygamy.

When a group of people ban together and set up a governance system, it is subject to the vision of the people that form it.  A great example is recorded in Hebrews 11:

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:8-10

God was meant to be the governing force in our lives. A nation that bases its governing principles on God’s word would be a very blessed nation indeed! The power, love and sound thinking that any nation that looks to God to govern it, is beyond what the human mind can fathom.

America was founded on principles that allow for freedom of beliefs, so it is not really a pure theocracy.  People have the freedom to worship or not worship whatever they wish as long as natural laws are not violated. Our Constitution is specifically designed to protect our freedoms.

As exhibited by Cain, human nature can dictate relationships to other people. Self-governance can be quickly taken over by self-interest. In the post-garden of Eden era, evil entered the world giving humans an opportunity to look to self-interest rather than to God. With the introduction of evil and fleshy self-centered thinking, evil pushed to exert its influence everywhere it could get a foothold. Its tools were and are gossip (even seemingly harmless gossip), lies and innuendos. God’s power is based on love. Evil is based on the opposite of love. Groups became breeding grounds for self-interest as mob thinking gained a foot-hold. It is in the group that lies and gossip flourish. Gossip and lying need at least two people in order to succeed. They are the  negative culprits in communities, friendships, families, religion and, needless to say, politics.

In today’s political dynamic, it is easy to detect partisan thinking, but the line between good and evil is often blurry.  It is because people don’t know God and they know even less about evil (the devil). The result of this mixture is crystal clear:

6 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. James 3:16

God’s power is readily available to every person who knows, believes and loves him. Envy is not a product and neither is strife. God’s power generates spiritual and mental order which generates genuine strength. Mental and spiritual order and peace comprise a good measuring stick of the motives and intent of power-users. People who misuse power may appear genuine, but eventually the basis of their power plays its hand just as it did long ago. God’s wisdom and knowledge can cut through naiveté and ignorance to keep people who love him in peace.

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Turn On The Lights!

It seems that the country is spinning out of control and with that, many people are feeling futility in  attempting to make sense of it all. It is a bunch of noise and chaotic spin. Deception, lies, emotional bribery and just plain evil is at the roots of the miasma.  It is not easy to drown it all out.

Due to the internet and 24/7 cable news, the mob mentality is alive and kicking running around perverting the culture. Things are said over and over to capture and twist the thinking of those hearing their message. Yes, evil exists in this world but we can rise above the muck and the mire that is being spewed out everywhere by holding forth the love of God. God’s word needs to be spoken:

My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Deuteronomy 32:2

How refreshing and cleansing is the gentle rain that falls in a dusty dry season!

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
5 Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Psalm 40:1-6

David saw many extended difficult times.  Psalm 40 records how he dealt with a tough world around him.. His trust was in God, not the false madness and arrogant belligerence of the world.  He did not succumb to it. Instead the he sung about the wonderful works of God. They are everywhere. If we made a list it would go on and on and on.

People need to hear the truth about God. Light dispels darkness.  A dark room is not easy to navigate. Even if you light one little match, it helps. If you use a floodlight darkness runs.  There is no greater joy than speaking about God’s love and seeing futility flee.  Lets have at it this week!!!

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God Is No Respecter of Persons

 For all of us that have at one time  sought validation from God, the New Testament is really good news! God loves every human being that has ever walked the earth. There are no exceptions.  God doesn’t care whether you are old, young, black or white, male or female, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. We don’t need to seek validation from him. We only need to be humbly available to him and allow him work in our lives.

There can be unity among those who love God when we understand what true unity is. In Ephesians 4:4-7, unity among God’s people has some specific aspects that we are encouraged to know and believe:

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Ephesians 4:4-7

‘One body’ means one body. The body of Christ is one in God’s eyes. I Corinthians 1:1-13 is a great record. Is Christ divided?

‘One Spirit’ means one spirit:

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

God is a Spirit.  He has provided the gift of holy spirit to all people who recognize Jesus as Lord (title imparted to him by God) and believe in their OWN heart that God raised him from the dead. (Romans 10:9) It is through this wonderful gift that we can have fellowship with God AND his son.(I John 1:3-4) The spirit doesn’t take the place of the resurrected Christ, it connects us to him. This is the ‘one baptism’:

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

The written word integrates with this connection too. Sometimes a verse just pops up in my head out of seemingly nowhere and usually I know it is there for a reason and I know where it came from. As we read more and more of God’s word, the efficacy of this results in reinforcing our believing and our peace.

Christ is present, not absent, and he is active, not just sitting around on God’ right hand.  ‘God’s right hand’ is a figure of speech to give emphasis to what Jesus Christ is doing now. He is active and doing a whole lot of stuff! Why wouldn’t he be building the church God gave him to have authority over. God’s church is made up of human hearts not bricks, communication is vital! There is ‘one Lord’ over this group, not 2, 100, 5000, or 25,000. God has placed Jesus Christ in charge; that’s what the title, ‘One Lord’, indicates.

It is with the heart that people connect to God and his word and really get to know what he means to their life. ‘One faith’, one hope naturally are wrapped up with this.

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: Romans 3:22. 


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