Who Really Believed that Overgrown Underground Rodent Anyway?

As I recall Phil said there was going to be six more weeks of winter on February 2nd. You know…that groundhog in Pennsylvania.

So why are we in the 70’s and 80’s here in Texas already? I’ve even seen where it’s in the 70’s back in Michigan…and it’s only the middle of the month.

I drove to Houston and San Antonio this week and can decisively report that the Redbuds (with their purple flowers) and the daffodils are blooming.

The redwing blackbirds are warming up their vocal chords for their mating songs.

We’re either entering an early spring or those folks who tell us what that fat rat says were totally off this time or we’re in for an extremely rude awaking some morning and some dead purple flowers on red trees.

As you can tell I’m totally confused, but that’s quite normal for me these days…or is it daze?

To add to my malady of mix-uppedness the president’s wife just read the Lord’s prayer in public. Can she do that?

Okay, I’m pretty sure she can since she actually did, but why does that seem un-normal?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled she did it. I just wish that simple act of reverence to God wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Either The Donald has been completely transformed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ that he’s a new man from who he used to be, which is so like Jesus to do that to a fella, or he’s bamboozling everybody for a rude awakening some morning.

I’m believing the first case is correct.

The liberal leaning media folks don’t know what to make of such a transformed individual or his wife. But that’s okay. Let them squirm for a while while God sets things back to His track of biblical responsibility.

As I recall Jesus’s disciples were more than a bit confused more than once in their time with Him.

Their most confusing time came after Jesus died on the cross.

All of their predetermined dreams of a kingdom ruled by the Messiah were shattered. The bitter taste of death lingered that whole Sabbath…until Sunday morning broke with the most unprecedented news anybody will ever hear.

The tomb was empty.

Jesus was not there.

Did they dare remember Him telling them He would come back to life?

They sat in their shock and wonderment and confusion…until the room brightened and the smell of burial spices filled their noses.

The war for the souls of mankind took a decisive turn that day. The Savior had accomplished His task.

His death was the sacrifice God demanded of us all.

The war goes on. That’s why the Lord’s Prayer is still causing an uproar when the first lady reads it in public.

The Messiah will reign on the throne. But more people must be touched by the news of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Rodents don’t determine the future. God does.

The media can’t control how often we tell someone about Jesus. We can.

This war is far from over, my fellow soldiers.

Let’s not let up on our efforts just because the leader of this country is a Christian.

Large scale victories don’t need to be won. Win souls one at a time.

Keep marching on our knees to the battle.

Don’t worry. I’ve read the end of the Book.

Our side wins.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Where Has My Country Gone?

I love the United States of America.

I love the fact we claim the most freedoms of any country in the world.

I love the work ethic I share with most of our citizens.

I don’t like where I see our great country heading.

Our democratic society is being derailed by non-democratic power hungry liberals.

The vast majority of us still worship God through the cross of Jesus Christ. Too many of us have become silent to the detriment of all we stand for.

Enough people in the government power center are in a position to remove our best freedoms to appease a slim minority of our citizens.

American citizens still in their mother’s womb are the first ones censored of all their freedoms. The Supreme Court is maintaining that stance.

Herod the Great’s massacre of innocent babies in Bethlehem that first Christmas looks tame compared to our modern society’s butcherings.

When Satan gets another victim of his to kill several people with a gun the news media explodes with calls for removal of that basic right our forefathers set for us.

More people are killed by cars than guns. Why don’t we hear chants to remove vehicles from the roads?

The primarily liberal public education system promised an end to racial tension when I attended several decades ago.

Why does there seem to be more hatred now, especially when law enforcement individuals are involved?

Responsibility has been replaced with entitlement.

Character used to be a huge factor in determining who the best person would be for our next president.

Charisma is more the watch-word today. Any type of novelty factor only helps decide for most voting citizens.

Why do we allow stores the “right” to let mixed up men use a restroom built for women with no thought about the repercussions of who else will take advantage of such lunacy to feed their pedophilia?

Throughout history the greatest nations have been in existence an average of 200 years. Today we celebrate 240 years for the USA.

Witnessing the decline of such a fabulous governmental experiment with democracy is heart breaking at best.

I’m not saying it’s too late to bring us back to greatness. I’m not saying it’s not. Frankly, I don’t know.

The Vietnam War was going on while I attended school. I still remember seeing people being air-lifted by helicopters to ships to safety as that one ended.

I didn’t trust my government to make good decisions then. That was a huge factor to me for not joining the military out of high school.

I loved my country enough to do that instead of going to college. I wish I would have followed that loyalty now.

I only know there’s only one true hope for us. Jesus Christ.

We’re too quickly coming to the point of a loyalty to Jesus becoming a death sentence. In many parts of the world it already is.

I cannot waver from that loyalty. I never will.

A return to greatness will not come from “free” health care or an annihilation of all guns.

God is the One who determines which nations will rise to greatness and which ones fall into obscurity.

I still don’t trust my government, not the one led by people.

I only trust the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ.

My total allegiance is to Him. His government is just and right.

Jesus gave His very life just so I can reign with Him for eternity.

What that will look like I can’t say. I trust He’ll do what’s best for every inhabitant of His kingdom.

If we acknowledge our dependence on God to guide us then I know America can be great again.

I don’t know if enough of us will do that.

I only know I have done that and I cannot turn back from that commitment.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

CAPITAL CITY

David looked at each man in the room. Every one of them was mighty, God definitely blessed him there.

“It’s time to move out of Hebron. The city is too vulnerable to attack.”

Abashai stepped forward. “Where do you propose we relocate the capital to?”

David smiled. “I want Zion.”

A murmur rose in the room, along with a whistle.

Joab stared into David’s eyes. “There’s not a finer city to have as the capital, but it’s impenetrable. How do you propose we get in there? I don’t know of any Hebrew whose ever been inside it.”

David held up two fingers. “I know personally of two who have seen it from inside.”

The room was silent. Joab looked at his brother, then back at David. “Who?”

“My Abba and I took some sheep there, along with wool for trade. I was ten. He said the sheep obeyed me better than my brothers. That’s why he took me. It was a grand time, just the two of us for a week away.

“The king was friendly and talkative. He showed us the whole city. Nothing was off limits. We saw it all. This was before my anointing. I noticed one gaping hole a man can come through.”

Abashai pulled Joab back. “Where…how?”

David paced about. “There’s a natural spring just northwest of the city. They’ve dug a shaft under the city to tap into that water supply. They can last a long time on top of that mountain against an enemy. It’s ingenious.

“The following summer I took the flock up there to graze. The entrance of that shaft is covered with stones. The men in this room could uncover it in short order.

“We’ll go as a group and encircle the city. While I keep their attention south of Zion you will uncover that shaft and enter it from under their noses. The first man to enter and lead us to victory will be my general.”

****

David watched the gate of Zion close as they approached. Joab and Abishai tussled for position as they led men to his right behind the stronghold. More men filed in to his left.

David didn’t wait long for the king of Zion to appear on the top of the wall. “I can tell by the way you’re dressed you haven’t come peacefully. What do you want?”

David held his hands out from his sides. “Our LORD God has given us this city as our capital. You can come out quietly or we’ll take it by force. The choice is up to you.”

The king of Zion laughed. “You think you can just come here and move us out. The lame and blind can keep you at bay from here. You cannot have our city. You may as well search elsewhere for a new capital.”

David watched the king spin around. A loud roar sounded from inside the fortress. A section of wall fell a few minutes later. David led his men up the hill to finish off the inhabitants.

********

Zion would take on a few names in the following days and years. “The City of David” became it’s nickname because of David’s audacity to conquer such a stronghold.

Part of today’s name holds an interesting base for it’s title: shalom. The City of Peace could be a translation of Jerusalem, even though it has known very little peace in several decades and most of its existence.

We aren’t told how David knew of the water shaft dug under the city. This post is merely my writer’s imagination pounding out one possibility. He was wise enough to exploit that weakness to his advantage. The men inside those walls felt extremely secure by this threat around their city.

I can’t help but think how Satan deals with us the same way. He studies us to find our vulnerabilities. He does his best to lead us to places that will exploit a weakness we have to take us down so we’re less effective for God.

If a person is doing all they can to become financially secure he may guide him/her to an unwise business venture that promises great gain only to remove a lifetime of savings quickly.

Loneliness is a favorite weapon of his. How many leaders have been removed from their position because of marital infidelity? The seduction began in a small way most of the time.

Spiritual empires have been built on the stilts of a television followings only to come tumbling down in ruins when the person in charge lost their godly bearings. Their pride was a prime target.

How does someone protect themself from spiritual attacks? I can think of a few ideas. I’m sure there are others.

Pray for protection and wisdom. This is the last piece of spiritual armor listed in Galatians 6, but it’s the most effective in this battle we’re in. Ask God to show you where you’re vulnerable and how to avoid falling into that trap.

Study the Bible for guidance. A regular intake of God’s Word in your life will do wonders to show you what steps you need to take. Israel’s history would have been different if David hadn’t walked on his roof that fateful night.

Build an accountability group. Ask a few trusted individuals of the same sex to come alongside you to help you see your shortcomings and to ask you how you conducted yourself on your last trip away from your family.

That last one is the one I plan on implementing fresh in my life. God has brought some men to mind who I’m sure could use the same assistance in their lives. Each of us are embarking on God-given ministries in our mid-life years. If they’re under anywhere near as much attack as I’ve felt I’m sure they’ll jump at this chance for assistance from a fellow soldier.

With wisdom, knowledge and accountability as protection pieces Satan will have a much harder time breaking through to God’s people.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

ISRAEL’S KING

David paced the roof of his home. His thoughts were of his nation’s future. A prayer came to his lips.

“LORD, I need You now. My heart is heavy for Your people. We’ve been at war with ourselves. I know that must break Your heart. Shall I remain king of just Judah, or has the time come for unification?”

His scan of the northern horizon showed a vast army coming closer. The hairs on the back of David’s neck stood up. “LORD, I need You now more than ever.”

Abishai and Joab got David’s attention from the street. “The elders of Israel have come to talk with you. Their men are coming to serve you, too.”

David stared at the approaching army. They were close enough now he recognized the flags of some of the tribes. He let out a breath and looked down. “Tell them I’ll be right down.”

The group of mostly gray-haired men was assembled in the town square. They all faced David as he approached.

“We are all of the same flesh. All of us have descended from Jacob.”

“Even when Saul was the king you were the man who really led the army.”

“The LORD even said, ‘David will shepherd My people.'”

An elder stepped forward. “What we’re trying to say is: David, you are destined to lead God’s people. We are ready for your guidance. Will you rule us at this time?”

David looked at each of the men, then at the army assembled around the outskirts of Hebron. He sent up a silent prayer before he spoke.

“I will conscript your best sons for my army. We must rid the land of Gentile influences. They may not all survive.”

The elders nodded.

“I will take your daughters as my own for duties at the capital of God’s nation. Some may be my concubines.”

They nodded again.

“I will take the best from your flocks to feed the troops and priests.”

The head elder placed his hand on David’s shoulder. “We are ready for a great king to lead us. You are that man.”

David stared deep into his eyes. “The LORD must lead His people. No man can take that role as his own.”

The elder nodded. “That is why you are the only man for the job. Lead us today.”

David stuck out his right hand. The elder took his hand and they shook them together.

David smiled. “The LORD has been preparing me for this day. I’ll do the best I can.”

********

The day finally came. The day Samuel pointed toward when he summoned Jesse’s youngest son to come in from the sheepfold. The day Saul tried his best to make sure never happened. The day Jonathan wanted to share with David but couldn’t.

A united nation of Israel’s descendants led by one man.

This giant slayer had a monumental task ahead of him. The land God led His people to still had inhabitants that needed to be gotten rid of. A pure nation with no influence from foreign gods was the ultimate goal.

Egypt was still weakened from loosing all those slaves at one time. Assyria and Babylon were growing into the nemesis they would become. The time was ripe for Israel to be a great power.

God would ultimately be the force behind that greatness. David was merely God’s human face and voice to carry that mission out.

God is still in need of people to be His voice and hands and feet.

Are you willing to be such for Him?

“But, I’m not anointed like David was.”

I hear your objection. I refute that response. David was set apart by having God’s Spirit alive within him. That was rare in his day.

Since Jesus returned to heaven the Holy Spirit has been active in all of God’s spiritual children. You have the same power available to you that David had.

You have something at your disposal that David didn’t have: other believers who have the same Holy Spirit indwelling them to come alongside you to help build God’s kingdom.

The end goal is still the same: set God’s people apart with a limited influence from outside forces.

The means for accomplishing that end is what has changed. Annihilating people is not the objective. Inviting them into the flock is.

With God’s grace as our guide we’re to love people into fellowship with the Creator of every person alive today, even those who insist all Christians must be annihilated.

Many of God’s children will loose their earthly lives in this current battle. The casualty count will only increase.

Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

That was part of the instructions Jesus gave His closest followers before He sent them out for the first time without Him. Do you think any of them swallowed hard when they heard that sentence?

Keep that in the forefront of your mind when you decide to serve Jesus today. We’re closer to that being a reality in our lives than I ever thought I’d witness in my lifetime.

Jesus’ ultimate kingdom is much closer today than it was in David’s lifetime.

The battle for souls is only intensifying.

The time is now for courageous men and women who are willing to die to their own selfish desires.

According to 2 Chronicles 16:9 God’s eyes are searching the whole earth so He can strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

We’re destined to rule with Jesus in His kingdom.

Our mettle is being tested in this life.

How we rule will be determined by how sold-out to Jesus we are now.

Are you willing to give away what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose?

David went through some tough tests to prepare him for his kingship.

Don’t let these tests you’re going through be wasted.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

CIVIL WAR

“Is the time now for my kingdom to start?” David stared at the ephod Abiathar wore.

“Yes.”

“What city shall I go to?”

“Hebron.”

David stood and faced his men. “We’re going to Hebron.”

The cheer was deafening.

****

After David and his men settled into Hebron and its surrounding towns the elders of Judah came for his anointing to become their king.

An elder approached. “The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul after the battle.”

David pointed at one of is young men. “Take two men with you. Go to them. Give them this message: ‘As the new king over Judah I add my blessing to the LORD’s for your showing this kindness to Saul by burying him with dignity. Be strengthened and blessed.'”

David spent the next two years in Hebron enjoying the women he married as his right became as the king. Six sons were born to him there.

****

One morning Joab came in from a battle with Abner and Israel’s army. His clothes were torn. His head was dust covered.

David placed his hands on Joab’s shoulders. How bad was the fighting?”

Joab glanced into David’s eyes. “Asahel is dead.” He let out a few sobs, then looked back at David. “We lost nineteen other men, too. They lost 360.”

****

One day some messengers arrived from Israel. “Abner would like to meet with you to discuss turning the entire country over to your control as king.”

David smiled. “Tell him he will not see my face unless my wife is with him. I earned Michal with one hundred Philistine foreskins.”

****

A feast was held a few days later when Abner showed up with twenty of his men. A covenant was established to make David the king over all Israel. Abner was sent home satisfied and in peace.

****

“You did what? How could you even think of talking with Abner. He’s was here checking out your defenses so he can overpower you and set himself up as king. He can’t be trusted.” Joab had just returned with his men from a raid.

David gripped the arms of the throne and leaned forward. “Abner is an honest man. His allegiance is to be expected for Saul. Things have changed for him. He is being used by the LORD to set me up as king over the entire nation. You shall leave him alone.”

****

When the news of Joab’s murder of Abner reached David he stood and tore his clothes. “I and my kingdom shall be guiltless of this deed. May there always be a cursed individual in Joab’s line from this day forward.”

He stared at Joab and his men. “You will wear sack cloth and morn this death.”

David refused to eat anything that entire day, even when others tried to convince him to.

When the people saw that response they fell in love with him all the more.

****

A few days later two men brought the head of Ishbosheth to David. “Here is the head of your enemy, my lord. You have nobody in your way to be king of all Israel.”

David stood and tore his clothes. “How do you expect me to honor you for committing such a treacherous act?”

He pointed at his men nearby. “Take them out and execute them now.”

********

Such was the two year stand-off between David and the last vestiges of Saul’s claim to the throne. A civil war that David seemed to steer clear of the entire time.

That was an extremely unusual response for a king in those days. Power was the way kings set themselves up back then. The typical first act of a new king was to wipe out the entire line of the old king’s heirs.

David was the Holy Spirit indwelt exception to that rule of a ruler. His response at this point in his life was to trust God in making him the king over the entire nation in God’s timing.

He waited for Saul’s son’s rule to implode for lack of God’s anointing. It took two years for a united Israel to know David’s strong rule.

While he waited David enjoyed time making his own heirs to the throne while he ruled in Hebron. The Bible records six sons by six different women. That precedent was not within God’s laws, even for a king. The results would come back to haunt David in his later life as king.

This imperfect man who was anointed as a teenager for this post was now on the throne. The lessons he learned in ruling were lost to him as a father. His legacy would prove to be marred.

How well have you established your legacy?

What you put your efforts into most will become what you’re remembered for. Many men regret investing so much time in the company they worked for on their deathbed.

Your children are your most enduring legacy. God has anointed you as their dad for a reason. Invest in them with your whole heart so the regrets aren’t taken to your grave.

Fathers are a vital part of a family unit. Studies show how less likely kids are to get in real trouble who have a dad who spends real time with them.

Make the time to let them know you care. Take the time to let them know you really love them.

Society will thank you for making the wise choice of personal attention as a dad.

David would spend the next couple of decades ridding the land of the inhabitants Joshua began to clear out. When he took a break from fighting he slipped back to his propensity for lust, even at the expense of one of his best men.

Guard your hearts, men.

Keep your priorities pure.

Keep your eyes fixed on God’s calling.

Stay true to His Word by investing serious time in the Bible.

Set your goal to please God in all you do.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

FATAL NEWS

David stepped out of his house and into the morning light. Men were fixing houses destroyed by the raiding Amalekites a few days earlier.

Abishai approached. “Shalom David. Ziklag is nearly rebuilt. Today should about have it done.”

David smiled. “Very nice, I’m grateful so many men put my roof on first. I didn’t expect that after the stones they held against me recently.”

Abishai grabbed his shoulder and shook it. “There’s talk of building you a palace after our victory to get our families back. How did you sleep last night?”

David shook his head. “Not well, I’m concerned for Israel. The battle should be over by now. I wonder how Saul fared.”

Abishai’s eyes widened. “You may not wonder much longer.”

David spun around to see a man carrying a sack running toward him. His dusty head and torn clothes didn’t bode well.

The man fell at David’s feet. Abishai picked up the sack.

David knelt down. “Where are you from?”

The man lifted his head. “From the battle with the Philistines.”

Abishai looked in the sack. “Umm…David…”

David grabbed the man’s shoulders and lifted him to his feet. “Tell me how it went. I want to hear all the details.”

The man looked at David’s hair. “People ran everywhere. Many are dead, including Saul and Jonathan.”

David shook the man. “How do you know Saul is dead?”

“I was near when Jonathon fell. His brothers did, too. I ran back to Saul to tell him. An arrow flew over my head and struck my lord through his armor. The chariots were closing in on us. He told me to kill him so the Gentiles wouldn’t sport him about. I did as I was told and brought the crown and king’s bracelet to you, my lord.”

David looked over at Abishai. He was pulling Saul’s crown out of the sack.

David grabbed his clothes and tore them open as he released a roar of anguish that came from his soul.

Work stopped for the day as the news spread. Everyone fasted in sorrow for the fallen.

****

David stood with his men around a fire as a meal was being prepared that evening. The man who brought news of the battle approached.

David looked in his eyes. “Where are you from?”

The man smiled. “I’m an Amalekite. I came to fight with Israel.”

David stared. “Why were you so quick to kill the LORD’s anointed?”

The man’s mouth dropped open.

David pointed at a young man wearing a sword. “Execute him.”

The young man ran his sword through the rib cage of the Amalekite and pulled it back.

David continued to stare at the Amalekite. “Your own words have condemned you.”

The Amalekite dropped to his knees, then fell face down.

********

John 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

We know from reading the account of the battle this Amalekite wasn’t the person who killed Saul, but David didn’t know Saul fell on his own sword.

Had the Amalekite told the truth he would have lived to see another day. He didn’t follow David’s line of thinking because it was a totally foreign concept to him.

David held to God’s standard of truth and sovereignty in establishing leaders. Protecting Saul was his top priority.

The Amalekite came from a background of the strongest rule. He knew he’d be rewarded for removing this obstacle to the throne for David.

This lesson from an Amalekite should echo in our ears today. He thought he was going to be promoted in David’s service for ending the life of his predecessor. Instead, he was executed for supposedly assassinating a king.

How often have you stretched the facts to make yourself look good, or someone else look bad?

When was the last time you rationalized an action away so you could get away with something you know shouldn’t be done?

Where have you been that you know a child of God has no good reason to be seen in?

Don’t worry, I have fingers pointing back at me as I ask those questions. None of us is perfect. If we were then Jesus wouldn’t have had to come to earth to die for us.

Have you danced around the edge of truth so long you aren’t exactly sure what truth is anymore?

That scenario isn’t as far fetched as it first appears in today’s culture. Truth is such a vague topic these days. Everybody has there own version of what is right. Wrong is hardly ever determined now.

We’re so concerned about the truth hurting someone we don’t even keep score at our children’s games. Everybody gets a trophy at the end of the season. They’re all winners by today’s standard.

Billboards tell us we deserve luxury, either in the car we drive or the place we live. Budgetary constraints shouldn’t play a role in our decisions, apparently.

About now some of you are wondering if there is a standard of credible truth available today.

I give you a resounding, YES!

If you want a product you bought repaired your best bet of getting it fixed right is to take it back to the manufacturer. After all they’re the ones who made it, they should know all the ins and outs of how it works. Right?

This same principal holds true for discovering real truth. God is the Being who made all we see.

He designed everything to work together to sustain life. So, the best place to find answers on how best to live is to find His way of design.

Truth is found in the Bible. I can’t spell it out any plainer than that.

The most serious Bible scholars rely on the versions of the Bible that stay the closest to the original language it was written in so they find the least polluted reading of God’s preserved truth for us to live by.

God’s truth is the ultimate standard to live by.

Live by His truth today.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

MERCY, JUSTICE AND GRACE

David led his men to the banks of the Brook Besor at a jog. The water was high from the spring rains.

A few of the men dropped to their knees. One man passed out.

A young man grabbed David’s arm. “I can’t go on. We need to rest here and eat.”

Joab grabbed David’s other arm. “We need to get our families back.”

David placed his hand on Joab’s shoulder. “I fully intend on getting our families back.” He turned and faced the crowd. “The LORD has guaranteed success in battle. He whittled Gideon’s troops down at a river. He’s doing the same now. For those of you who can’t cross the water stay here and guard the supplies. Everyone else follow me.”

Four hundred men crossed with David. Two hundred stayed behind.

****

An hour later some men carried a young man to David. David gave him the remainder of his fig cake and some water.

The young man looked at David a minute later, then at the men around him.

David crouched down. “Where are you from?”

“I’m a slave from Egypt. I was left here three days ago when I got too sick to travel. We raided some villages and burned Ziklag.”

David lifted the young man by his shoulders to his feet. “Can you take us to these marauders?”

The young man swallowed. “Promise me you won’t kill me or turn me back over to my master and I will.”

David smiled. “I don’t expect you master to survive the day. You’ll be free to go then.”

****

A southern breeze carried the smoke to David and his men. They spread out and crested the hill to find their families huddled in the midst of a party scene.

The sound of Goliath’s old sword being removed from it’s sheath broke the silence. Other men followed suit. David held his sword in front of him and gave a loud yell. The massacre continued through the next day. A few men escaped on camels.

****

David took longer to lead his family and flocks back to the Brook Besor than when they left the men there. He praised God nobody from their families was killed.

When he crossed the brook an argument was taking place.

One of the men who fought valiantly stood toe-to-toe with one of the men who couldn’t go on earlier. “You shall have no part of the spoils of war. You can have your wife and children, but that’s it.”

David grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. “NO. Those who stayed with the supplies served a vital function here. The spoils will be distributed evenly. As a matter of fact I plan on repaying some of the villagers we begged food from before.”

********

Once David got his bearings back by leaning on God’s guidance he emulated Christ in marvelous ways here. I see three major themes in play.

1. He showed mercy to the Egyptian slave. When they came across a cast off from the raiding party revenge wasn’t taken on him, even though he was likely an accomplice. David displayed mercy by feeding him and letting him live.

2. He exacted justice on the Amalekites. We don’t often think of Jesus’ justice being played out because it hasn’t taken place, yet. But when it does there will be no mistaking it. It will be fatal and final.

3. He extended grace to those who couldn’t fight. For the men too tired to cross the river David shared the spoils of war. Perhaps he realized if he had left some men behind when they left for the first war their families may have been left alone.

Have you been holding back on showing mercy to someone? Is there someone at work, or church, or a family member who wronged you in some way who you need to forgive. No, they may not have it coming to them, and they may have injured you greatly, but haven’t you let that weight hold you down long enough?

That poison of bitterness isn’t affecting them as much as it’s working against you and your relationship with God.

Release it now. Lay it at the foot of the cross and tell that person you forgive them. Your walk will be sweeter.

Is there a blatant law that’s been broken that you haven’t had the fortitude to enforce? There are times to make someone pay for a crime they’ve committed. If you let them go they’ll continue to do it to someone else. Consequences are necessary for wrongs done. Seek guidance and assistance. Then do the right thing.

God will comfort you in remarkable ways when you come out the other side. Then you can comfort others going through the same ordeal.

Take that step now. Notify the proper authorities and stop the actions of a selfish person. Your spine will be stronger.

Can you think of someone who needs total grace from you today? What they did may have been malicious on their part. They may have ruined your reputation by spreading a rumor. Maybe they took something from you that can never be restored. Can the grace of God shown you at the cross be mirrored to them at this time?

The relationship that will be made strongest will be between you and God.

That person may have never been accepted by anyone before. Your act of grace can show them the love of God like nothing ever will.

I know what you’re thinking now: “How do I know when to do each of these attributes of God for each circumstance?”

If we had an ephod, like David did, we could more easily have an answer. But, since we don’t, I have a few suggestions.

Get familiar with your Bible. God shows us examples of each one laid out.

Get godly advice from godly people. Your pastor or trusted Christian friend should be able to help.

Get advice from the source of wisdom. Pray for God’s guidance.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

NOT TO WAR

“Achish is here to see you.”

David stopped chewing his lunch. “Achish..he’s never come to see us at Ziklag. I wonder what’s up.”

He glanced at Abigail as he stood. She shrugged her shoulders. David walked out to see a stern Achish waiting for him.

Achish barely smiled as the two men greeted each other. “David, you and your men have been the best thing that’s happened to me. My wealth has increased as has my standing with the other Philistine kings. There’s a matter of urgency that’s come up.”

David motioned toward a bench next to his house. They sat down. “You’ve been so kind to take us in and give us this town for our families. You know I’ll do whatever my lord asks of me.”

Achish stared into David’s eyes. “We’re amassing our troops for war. I want you and your men to fight next to me.”

David smiled. “You know what we’re capable of.” He stood as Achish stood.

Achish hugged David. “I shall make you my general, David. Be in Aphek three days from now ready for battle.”

Joab walked next to David as they watched Achish leave. “What if they fight against Israel? Will you defend the LORD’s anointed in battle if he’s the enemy?”

David kept staring ahead. “I shall seek God’s will in all I do.”

****

David chose the fountain of Jezreel to camp near with his men. His beloved nation of Israel lay to his back.

Achish approached and greeted David. “We’ll be passing before the kings for them to review the troops. Fall in behind me and my other men.”

David bowed his head. “As my lord wishes.” He tried to swallowed the lump in his throat.

Abishai leaned next to David as they watched the Philistine armies from the distance. “That looks like at least twice as many men as Saul had last time we saw them. Do you think he stands a chance?”

David looked up. “If the LORD is with him these punks don’t stand a chance.” He turned around and waved his arm over his head. “Let’s fall in, men.”

When they finished David was close enough to hear the conversation between Achish and the other kings. “What are these Hebrews doing here? What’s to keep them from turning against us in battle? What are you thinking, Achish?”

Achish stepped up to the group. “David defected to me over a year ago. He’s raiding his people’s villages. I trust him with my life.”

One of the kings stood and motioned toward David. “Is this the same David they sang about killing ten thousand to Saul’s thousand? He most certainly won’t go into battle mixed in with our men. He set you up for just this purpose. Our decision stands. He’s not going with us to war.”

Achish’s shoulders slumped as he approached David. “They say you can’t fight with us.”

David tried to make eye contact. “When have I ever let you down? Your enemies are my enemies.”

Achish placed a hand on David’s shoulder. “I’m over-ruled here. Please, take your men back to Ziklag at first light.”

********

Do you ever wonder how that battle would have turned out if David had been in the mix with the Philistines? I’m curious, but I know why he wasn’t allowed to fight in this particular war with Israel. This was the battle where Saul and his sons all lost their lives. If David had been there a big question mark would have forever been over his involvement in Saul’s death.

David had no way of knowing Saul had just consulted a medium to get a word from God through Samuel. All he knew was his master, Achish, called him to fight so he prepared to fight. Then, he was told he couldn’t fight when the other Philistine kings saw him in the gathering.

There would come a day when David would decide who would fight and who would not, but now he had to follow rank and step out of the picture. I’m pretty sure he was relieved he couldn’t fight against his own people.

I often wonder if they never told him who they were planning on fighting until the last minute. Why else would he agree to go to war with his nation’s enemy against his nation?

We see what David faced all the time: open doors and closed doors are a way of life for everybody.

How often have you had a door open to you only to have it close as you stepped on the threshold your toe was on?

Yeah, those hurt the most.

How you handle those situations shows your character and maturity.

I see three main ways people deal with closed doors:

  1. They try to push against that door to get it to open anyway. If this has been a long-term dream it’s hard to accept it coming to an end so abruptly. Forcing your own agenda against God’s will is never wise.
  2. They turn around and go home never to follow another dream. The pain of having a dream die is too much for some to bear. Instead of going through that agony again they close their shell and remain safe inside.
  3. They step back, pray and see what God has in store for them elsewhere. The wise person takes stock of the circumstances, looks to God for further guidance and moves forward to another dream or waits for God’s timing for this one to come to fruition.

God has three answers to our prayers: yes, no and wait.

Waiting is often the hardest one to accept.

Patience is a virtue we love to see lived out in other people, but are too seldom willing to develop in our own life.

That’s why God gives us that reply so often. He knows we need to develop that trait and this is the best way to learn it.

This is a time to follow God’s rank, assess your options and carry on.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

UNEXPECTED LOSS

Abishai walked next to David and matched his pace. “Are you glad we aren’t fighting against our own people?”

David kept looking forward. “Of course, this whole time with the Philistines has been an experience I never imagined I’d ever have. Almost a year and a half of not looking over my shoulder wondering if Saul is coming for me was nice. But…”

“So, what’s next?”

“I don’t know. We all just need to rest for now. A soft bed will be good for everybody.”

David’s mouth dropped open when he saw Ziklag from the top of the hill. Nobody was there. Even the animals were missing. The stone walls of the houses were there, but their wood roofs were burnt.

He froze on that hill while the echoes from his men rose in his ears as they filed past.

He felt more hollow with each step closer to his home. What became of his wives? He stepped into the bedroom filled with sunlight. Abigail’s scarf was half-burnt. He lifted it to his nose and inhaled…nothing but wretched smoke.

“How can this be, LORD? I’m doing all I can to follow You. Why?”

The sound of footsteps outside became silence too quickly. David looked out a window. His men circled the house. Each one held a stone.

“‘Let’s live with the Philistines,’ he says. ‘Let’s fight against God’s chosen people,’ he agrees to. Now we’re paying for your stupid decisions, David. It’s time for a new leader. Come out and stand up for yourself.”

David rushed to the front door. He found the priest standing behind the men. “Abiathar, the ephod, bring it to me. Quickly!”

He looked at his men. “You’re right. I have made some foolish decisions. I thought they were best for all of us, at least some of them. I’ve learned my lesson. From now on I’ll inquire of the LORD for guidance.”

Abiathar pushed past the men and came up to David wearing the ephod.

David stared at the gems on it. “LORD, shall we pursue the men who took our stuff? Will we get our families back?”

The voice was clear. “Go, pursue, you will get them all back.”

David stood and faced his men. “Every man get his sword. Victory is assured.”

Everyone dropped his stone. Those who’d removed their sword went to retrieve it.

David led his men south of Ziklag.

********

The Day Ziklag Burned is what we could title this episode in David’s life. This place the Philistines had given them to reside. Their home for more than a year. They had roots here until they left to fight with their enemy.

Grief has a way of dulling the senses and making judgments twist in bizarre ways. The knee-jerk reaction of these saddened soldiers was to blame their leader. The fact God had chosen him to be their next king vanished from their minds.

They had pain wracking their bodies and they needed an outlet for that misery. Stoning David made perfect sense to them at that moment. The consequence for that option didn’t matter to them then.

Seeing that anguish in so many men’s eyes got David’s attention. We aren’t told he used the ephod for guidance as to whether to move in with the Philistines, or to fight with them against Israel. Survival and human reason seem to have been his watch words in those decisions.

Losing everything unexpectedly is one of God’s ways of getting His children’s attention.

It’s a severe test to prove where a person will lean when there’s nothing else to hold onto.

David quickly turned back to God for guidance. What about you?

It shouldn’t take literally loosing everything to see if you’ll pass this test.

You can take stock of your life right now to answer that question.

Look around you now. What, and who, do you see that would devastate you to lose? You can choose to give those to God this very moment.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be extreme grief when a loved one dies, or a fire or storm destroys your home.

But, there’s a deeper question you must ask yourself. Am I holding onto this world so tightly that I’m weighed down in living for God’s glory?

That doesn’t mean family heirlooms won’t be precious. I brought some home from my Mom’s funeral recently.

That doesn’t mean your love will grow cold for your spouse or children. Seeing how this impacts them as well should strengthen that bond.

It also doesn’t mean you should neglect caring for what you have. We still have a stewardship responsibility we’ll be held accountable for.

What this should do is make you evaluate your focus and priorities in your life.

Is what you have and what you do bringing glory to God, or is simply meeting your pleasure? Don’t get me wrong. You can glorify God and enjoy things at the same time.

We’re told to take a day each week to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

What God is really attempting to do is getting our focus on the eternality of life.

What will last beyond this moment? Who will be in the kingdom with you?

As God’s child, chosen from many to be His one, your eternity with God doesn’t begin when you step past the pearly gates of heaven. No, your eternity with God begins at your conversion into God’s spiritual family.

Your relationship with God needs to grow every moment you’re alive here and now.

Loosen your grip on the stuff around you. It won’t last.

Lighten your hold on the lives you can’t control. They must answer for themselves.

Lay your burdens at the foot of the cross. Jesus died for that purpose, don’t waste that opportunity for selfish motives.

Share your love of God through Jesus to as many people as you can. That’s what will make an impact that will echo throughout eternity.

Turn to Jesus for your source of hope in this life, and beyond.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

ENEMY HIDEOUT

“You did what?!” Joab choked on his bagel.

“We walked right up to King Saul and took his spear and water jug. Nobody woke up. It was amazing.” Abashai tore off a chuck of his bagel and chewed.

Joab swallowed. “I know you know how to use a spear. You taught me. Tell me he’s dead.”

David grabbed Joab’s arm and stared in his eyes. “He is the LORD’s anointed. Even if you don’t respect the man respect God’s choosing as your king as long as he lives. It isn’t up to any of us to bring that time to an end.”

Joab nodded. “Okay, so, what do we do now?”

David paced. “We gotta get out of Israel. Saul will be back for me. I’m tired of running.”

Joab’s arms hung at his sides. “Where do you suggest we go? We’re kinda low on options.”

“Achish.”

Joab threw his bagel in the fire. “The Philistine…have you totally lost your mind? That’s a suicide mission.”

“That’s exactly why Saul won’t follow us there. Achish is a fair man. He’ll take us in. Do you want your wife and children sleeping under the stars every night? Wouldn’t you rather they knew the security of living in a house?”

“Yeah, but why Gath? You still have Goliath’s sword. Don’t you think somebody will want revenge?”

David patted the sword. “All of our swords came from the Philistines. Feel free to set a guard around us at night. We have Achish’s respect and that of his people. It’s the only hope I have right now.”

Abashai stood next to Joab. “What are we going to do become their slaves?”

David shook his head. “No, we’ll raid some nearby towns and bring the spoil to Achish. I’ll lead him to believe we’re attacking Hebrew villages. He’s loyal, but not too bright. I think we’ll gain his respect and devotion that way.”

Joab grabbed David’s sleeve. “What if a survivor from one of the towns informs Achish about what we’re doing?”

David stared in his eyes. “That’s why we can’t leave any survivors. We’re to begin to finish the task God told Joshua to perform. This land is promised to God’s people. All of the inhabitants are to be removed so we don’t intermarry and follow their gods. I don’t like the killing any more than you do, but it’s the LORD’s will for us. We’re the generation that will bring peace and security to God’s people in the land promised to Abraham.”

Joab stuck his hand straight out in front of him. “Then let’s do this.”

Abishai placed his hand on top of Joab’s.

David set his hand on their’s. The three men shouted. “To the glory of God!”

********

No, I don’t like the thought of genocide being God’s will any more than you do, but it was. I’m so glad I was born on the grace side of the cross. Aren’t you?

David and his men didn’t have that luxury. They were the ones to rid the land of Gentiles so the Jews didn’t co-mingle and follow foreign gods.

Under David’s leadership the task given to Joshua was revived and performed. The extermination of anyone who didn’t wish to join the Hebrew nation’s worship of the One true God was carried out. It began in earnest during this time of exile in Philistia.

This was David’s major accomplishment while he ruled God’s chosen people. Not the Psalms he composed, as wonderful as they are; not the gathering of material to build the temple in Jerusalem, as important as that was; nor the establishing of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as strategic as that was. The annihilation of Gentiles from this God-ordained piece of land brought a peace that Israel has yet to experience since David’s and Solomon’s reigns.

This, ironically, is the reason David wasn’t allowed to build the temple during his lifetime. This shedding of blood made him too impure to claim that building as his accomplishment.

Sometimes carrying out God’s will brings limitations with it. The people who are standing up to Islamic militants by refusing to deny Jesus as their Savior are freely giving up their right to further God’s kingdom by dying rather than living longer to tell of His love and grace.

Actually, by doing what they’re doing they are spreading the gospel far and wide. When others see the fortitude they have to give up their right to life by dying for God it sends a message of truth no sword can finish off.

Where do you stand on this life and death issue?

Are you willing to die for Jesus if it came to it?

Are you willing to stand out at work by being the only person who doesn’t go along with the crowd and do those dishonest acts or immoral behaviors?

You see, there is more than one way to die for Christ. A physical death is one thing. A professional death is another animal all together.

Jesus gave up both of those on the cross at the same time. Yeah, He could have saved Himself and began His earthly reign then. If He had I wouldn’t be capitalizing the pronouns I’m using for Him.

In order for us to be able to carry out God’s will completely we need to have an eternal view of life.

This world and all we see will be destroyed quicker than you can sneeze. The new Heaven and new Earth will last forever. Those who focus on that reality will reign with Jesus in His eternal kingdom.

The only death God commands His followers today is dying to self. Yeah, like Jesus did.

One phrase I hear in my head frequently is: “It’s not about me.”

When have you reminded yourself of that fact?

So many problems in this world would disappear if more people would catch that simple truth.

Too many folks buy into the lie that this life is all about their happiness.

Don’t be one of those people.

I’ll see you later.   Wade