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TUESDAY May 23, 2017

Continue God’s Work

Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.

Nehemiah 5:16

Nehemiah feared the Lord and did not live off the people, he used his own resources. Instead of taking from the people he gave of himself to the people. His focus was on the needs of the people, on their welfare and not himself. As their leader, he set a good example and continued to work alongside them.

Jesus is always interested in the people needs. When Jesus came to Capernaum, He looked out among the multitudes and was moved with compassion. He saw people who were, weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). When Jesus came from heaven to earth; He came to serve mankind. He came to give and not take. The Lord was among the people, teaching, preaching and healing the sick.

Later, James and John asked the Lord if they could to sit next to Him in His glory––in heaven, Mark 10:37, which displeased the other disciples. Jesus called the disciples to Himself and explained about servanthood:

“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:420-45).

Jesus taught his disciples contrary to their thinking and showed them through His example how they were to continue the work of the ministry. They needed to place the people’s needs above their own. They were not to become great for their own benefit, but to serve the people in humility.

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
~Acts 20:35~

MONDAY May 22, 2017

Having the Fear of God

Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God.

Nehemiah 5:14-15

Notice the key to Nehemiah’s successful leadership; he feared the Lord. Under the service of the King Artaxerxes, he was an appointed governor over the people in Judah. During his twelve years of being in power, he never took advantage of the people. Nehemiah trusted the Lord for his provision. He never looked to the people to meet his needs.

Yet, the previous governors had selfishly taken provisions away from the people and used their money to make their lives more comfortable. They had even given their servants authority over the people. The governors were corrupt. Nehemiah, as a leader, did not do what everyone else was doing. He did not act corruptly or compromise his integrity. Why? Nehemiah knew that eventually he would have to stand before God. Then he would have to give an account of his life for everything God had given to him. The fear of the Lord in his life made him a righteous leader.

The fear of the Lord is a key factor in our lives as Christians; we must not be like everyone else. Just because everyone else is acting corruptly does not mean that we should follow along. We must have the fear of the Lord in our lives and resist compromising our integrity. Understand that one day we must give an account for our actions and words. As a leader we should not make ourselves comfortable by living off God’s people. We are called to serve God’s people and minister to them.

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them.
~Psalm 62:10~

SUNDAY May 21, 2017

Shaken Out

Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

Nehemiah 5:13

Nehemiah was very expressive in the way he addressed the leaders and priests. Through his action of shaking out his garment, he basically told them, “If you do not keep your word, may God judge you, and shake you out like this garment!” He wanted them to understand that God would empty them––they would lose everything. The Lord touched the leaders hearts and they agreed with Nehemiah. They saw Nehemiah was for real––he meant what he said.

When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to the spiritually lost people of Israel, He told them to tell the people, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In Jesus’ name they would heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and even raise the dead (Matthew 10:5-7). Jesus Christ was the people’s Messiah. He could either be accepted or rejected. The disciples were instructed to act in accordance to the people’s response:

If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:13-14).

Those who foolishly reject the Gospel message will remain empty and lost, without God’s salvation. If they stay unrepentant they will face eternal judgment, even worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15).

When offered God’s free gifts of salvation do you reject it or accept it?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 6:23~

SATURDAY May 20, 2017

Keeping Your Promises

So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

Nehemiah 5:12

Notice how the leaders came under full submission to Nehemiah. They did not resist him, but promised to restore to the people what was taken. These men respected Nehemiah’s word because he gave them godly counsel. The leaders saw the undeniable anointing of God in his life––I like that. Nehemiah also addressed the priests for their injustices. They were also at fault because they had ripped off God’s people.

Nehemiah had called the priests and required an oath from them. In the Old Testament, if a person gave a promise––a vow it was taken very seriously, especially a vow given to God. He would hold them accountable and expected the vow to be kept. In Deuteronomy 23:21, Moses instructed God’s people concerning vows to God:

When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.

However, in the New Testament, Jesus did away with vows and simplified how we should agree with each other:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool… But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’

It is important to be a man or a woman of your word. Be true to what you say. Ask yourself, “Do I make good on the words I give to people?”

Men many times eat their words, but God will never eat His.
~Thomas Brooks~

FRIDAY May 19, 2017

Required Restoration

“I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”

Nehemiah 5:10-11

Notice how Nehemiah took from his own resources to help those without food. He wanted to remain blameless and not be a part of the leaders’ plots to take advantage of the poor people. Instead Nehemiah became such a good example to them of how God’s people should have been treated––fairly. As a leader he took care of the situation.

Nehemiah knew these problems had divided the people but they needed to be united to build the wall. So, a full restoration should be made for all wrong they had done. Nehemiah commanded the leaders to stop charging high interest. Then they needed to restore the people’s lands and property, and give back anything else they had overcharged them. Only then would peace and unity come back to the people.

If we have acted unjustly in any way towards a person in the body of Christ then the only way we can have peace is to restore what we have taken and make things right. God’s ways are not our ways. He is always restorative, and as His people, we should always seek restoration between each other.

Zacchaeus was a rich, unjust, tax collector who made a profit from the people. Jesus came to stay at this sinful man’s house. After a time with Jesus, Zacchaeus had a change of heart, he repented for what he had done and said to the Lord: “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” Zacchaeus wanted to make things right. More importantly he wanted to be in a right standing with God.

“Today salvation has come to this house, because
he also is a son of Abraham…”
~Luke: 19:9~

THURSDAY May 18, 2017

Walking in the Fear of God

Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?”

Nehemiah 5:9

Nehemiah reminded the leaders in his strong rebuke to walk in the fear of God. Why? They were already suffering because of their enemies. They were making matters worse! Had they forgotten God’s Law?

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).

David, at times, failed to walk in the fear of the Lord. When this happened he committed adultery with Bathsheba. She then became pregnant with his child and David had her husband killed in battle. The Prophet Nathan confronted David, and told him the consequences of his sin: However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die” (1Samuel 12:14).

Joseph’s story helps us to understand how to walk in the fear of God. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. He had the opportunity to sin but he said to this brazen woman: “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he [Potiphar] kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Walking in the fear of the Lord means we should stand in awe of who God is and to seek to please God in everything we do. At times we fail, but He is gracious towards us. King David knew God’s character and penned: The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. Oh how we need to fear the Lord!

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants
of the world stand in awe of Him.
~Psalm 33:8~

WEDNESDAY May 17, 2017

An Authoritative Rebuke

And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

Nehemiah 5:8

Nehemiah’s questions to the leaders would remind them of their bondage endured under the Persians. Yet, here they were placing their own people back under bondage themselves––think about that! Nehemiah tried to get them to really think, “Are you going to sell your own brethren?” He rebuked the leaders because they were the ones in command. Even the priests were guilty of taking advantage of the people (Nehemiah 5:12).

In response, they had no defense and could not answer Nehemiah a word. Why? These leaders knew what they had done was wrong according to the authority of the Law of God (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).

Nehemiah had questioned their wisdom and understanding as if to say, “Why have you not learned your lesson yet? Where is the wisdom in your decisions?” The Lord spoke clearly through Nehemiah. The leaders were convicted before the Lord for their wrongdoing.

Here is a key lesson for us to learn from this whole situation. Because the parents did not obey the Lord in building God’s house when they returned to the land, they did not prosper (Haggai 1:3). So, as a result of their disobedience, their children became slaves––how sad. Understand that parents who do not place God first, compromise and choose to live for themselves, will cause their children to suffer tremendously. Remember sin affects not just us but those we love around us––our children.

As Christians we need to be wise men and women. We should be able to handle and judge matters of sin in the church, or between each other. (Matthew 18:15-17). The Bible tells us, we shall judge angels! How much more then, should we be able to resolve problems that arise.

Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more,
things that pertain to this life?
~1 Corinthians 6:3~

TUESDAY May 16, 2017

Charging Unfair Interest

After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them.

Nehemiah 5:7

Nehemiah did not speak or act irrationally; he was a leader who was not ruled by his emotions. He wanted to make sure he had time to think over the whole situation before he took action. Then, he decided it was necessary to rebuke the nobles and the rulers for their injustice of exacting usury––the people were forced to pay high interest on the amounts they had borrowed. Nehemiah, in an attempt to get his point firmly across to them, gathered a great assembly of witnesses against these leaders. What they were doing was not right––it was unlawful:

You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest. To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).

As the wealthy Jews took advantage of the poor they had brought oppression among the people. Instead of helping each other they created an internal problem. They had caused disunity as the brethren were against each other. Think about it––they placed their own brethren under bondage. There is a well know phrase: the richer get richer and the poor get poorer––that should never happen. But it had happened in Israel.

What about us? In our lives are we ruled by our own greed for money and desire to accumulate wealth? Where is our heart of compassion towards brothers and sisters in the church who are less fortunate than ourselves?

God gave us wealth, not that we should be hoarders but dispensers.
~Thomas Manton~

MONDAY May 15, 2017

Great Injustices

And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.

Nehemiah 5:6

The way the wealthy Jews unjustly acted towards their poor brethren made Nehemiah very angry. He was upset because of all the issues and abuse that had carried on among the people. Nehemiah knew the leaders were guilty of great injustices against the people and it created within him a godly anger. He had a righteous anger, just like Jesus’ anger against the unjust, religious leaders in Jerusalem. They had taken advantage of people buying sacrifices in the temple by raising the prices to make for themselves a nice profit. (Matthew 21:12-13).

Throughout the Scriptures we are given insight into God’s character and how He acts justly. God’s character is just. Deuteronomy 10:18 tells us: He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 32:4 also acknowledges God is just: He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.

Job knew God’s just character and declared: Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice (Job 34:12). Psalm 140:12 shows that King David had a deep understanding of God’s justice: I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.

What about us? As Christians we should reflect God’s character in our actions––they should be just. Leaders are called to take care of the people who come to church. So many people come with personal problems and burdens. They have major physical, spiritual and financial situations in their lives. As they ask counsel of us we should be able to give them godly answers according to the Word of God.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
~Micah 6:8

SUNDAY May 14, 2017

Mother’s Day

What, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.

Proverbs 31:2-3

Proverbs 31 begins with a mother’s wise advice to her son King Lemuel. Many theologians believe this to be Bathsheba who spoke with her son Solomon, the next king of Israel, after the death of his father, King David. However, we do not know for sure. She told her son about the dangers of wayward women and wine. She taught the young king not to spend his strength on sensual lusts or to waste his time drinking and getting drunk. As a monarch he would become a bad witness to his people.

Lemuel’s mother also reminded him of his responsibilities to rightly oversee the people. The king was exalted to this privileged position by God. Therefore, he must champion the cause of justice and have a good moral witness. What a great mother. She gave her son wise counsel.

What about the mothers God has given to us? A mother will spend a great deal of their time and effort giving their children godly advice. But do their children listen? Think about the endless hours mothers have spent before the Lord in prayer, tears, and fasting for each of their children. All mothers want their children to succeed in life. They desire blessings to be given to them from the Lord as they chose to live a holy life before Him.

Proverbs 31 continues to describe an industrious wife and mother, one who is not idle, but busy, tending to the needs of her husband, children and even reaching out to the poor and needy. May we honor our mothers today, and in some special way, thank them for all they do.

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
~George Washington~

SATURDAY May 13, 2017

Power to Redeem

“It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

Nehemiah 5:5

Nehemiah continued to hear the complaints of God’s people. They had to mortgage their properties, to buy food. They even sold their children into slavery. There were laws of redemption in place in Israel and they should have the right to redeem them back. The law stated:

If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; [Leviticus 25:9-17] and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession (Leviticus 25:28).

Boaz was willing to become a kinsman redeemer to Naomi and Ruth. He would purchase back the land of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband and her sons who had all died in Moab. Boaz would take Ruth as his wife but he first gave a closer relative the opportunity. He decided not do the act of redemption (Ruth 4:6). Why? Ruth was Moabite; from a nation God had a cursed (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). So Boaz became Naomi’s and Ruth’s redeemer. In Ruth 4:9-10, Boaz addressed the elders and all the people:

“I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife…

Incredibly Jesus Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer; He is the only One who has the power to purchase our souls from sin (Galatians 4:4-7).

Jesus came not only to teach but to save, not only to reveal God to mankind, but also to redeem mankind for God.
~John R. W. Stott~

FRIDAY May 12, 2017

The Rich and Poor Alike

There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery…”

Nehemiah 5:4-5

Nehemiah heard the complaints and cries of God’s people and he knew the wealthier Jews were oppressing the poor. The Lord is no respecter of persons. There is no difference between the rich and the poor with Him. God always listened to the cries of the poor when they were oppressed.

In America class distinction between the rich and the poor are not so pronounced. However in other places, especially in the third world countries, you will find it is very different. One thing I have learned about is the oppression of the lower class people by the upper class.

I have traveled to South America and seen how the upper classes act towards the lower classes. Even between the middle class and the upper class you still find that they will not mingle together. The upper class can be very snobbish. They have big homes, luxury cars, and expensive clothing. They always look down on the middle and lower classes––that is just the way it is. They use the lower classes to serve them, and they do not see anything wrong with it.

In Chile, the people do not cross the lines of social classes. It is very hard to break the barriers between them. Even within the churches, the upper classes will not fellowship with other classes. Why? They feel the lower classes of people are beneath them. When you become a Christian there is no difference between the rich and the poor. All Christians are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

The rich and the poor have this in common,
The LORD is the maker of them all.
~Proverbs 22:2~

THURSDAY May 11, 2017

The Debt Difficulty

There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”

Nehemiah 5:3

Nehemiah listened to the different problems and situations the people had in their lives. The rich were guilty of exploiting the poor, even to the point of placing their own people under bondage. This injustice was against the law of God (Leviticus 19:10,15).

This internal crisis impacted the people in different ways. Everyone needed food (Nehemiah 5:2). Some of the people owned land, vineyards and houses but they had to mortgage their assets, again their priority was to buy food (Nehemiah 5:3). Then other individuals had complained because their taxes were so high and they were forced to borrow money to pay those taxes (Nehemiah 5:4). All of these people were in a no win situation. The rich had no compassion or conscience they were greedy for money––it was every man for himself. Nehemiah was going to deal with all these difficult problems and situations (Nehemiah 5:5).

Many people today are well acquainted with the problem of debt. Most families have a house and a car, but they have no extra money flow, everything is tied up. It becomes a very difficult situation because there is no money to buy necessities––food. You may have material things but when the economy is not flowing, it really means nothing, because you are not able to afford the basics. What do you do? Sometimes it is a question of living within your means and getting out of credit card debt because of the high interest. But often there are loan sharks just waiting to take advantage of these situations among the poor.

As a believer we must never take advantage of the poor. It is important to consider others and be sensitive to their needs. Remember God is the one who is going to judge each of us so we need to fear the Lord.

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker,
But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.
~Proverbs 14:31~

WEDNESDAY May 10, 2017

The Art of Solving Problems

And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”

Nehemiah 5:1-2

Nehemiah, at this point, had to solve the problems of oppression between his own people, among the rich and the poor. In Nehemiah 1:1 we hear the great outcry of the people. What had happened? The rich were taking advantage of the poor––which was usually the case.

Nehemiah 5 describes different types of people that had problems, mainly those who did not have anything and those who had a lot, but wanted more. The poor among the people could not pay their taxes, or even supply for their own needs. So the rich took advantage of them and took possession of their lands. The rich even went as far as to place their own people under bondage.

Nehemiah would counsel with the people of God and address this problem. What they had done was against the law of God. He would rebuke those who had a lot of money and were into materialism. They should have never taken advantage of the poor but they should have feared the Lord because He would judge them.

James, a servant of God, who was considered to be the half-brother of Jesus, gave wise council to help solve problems in the early church among the Gentile believers (Acts 15:13-29). In James 1:5 he gave advice on how to help solve the problems we may have, he said: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

As a leader in any capacity, in your home, workplace or your church, are you prayerfully asking for God's wisdom to help you?

Wisdom must be from God, because it can be found
only in relation to him.
~Edmund P. Clowney~

TUESDAY May 9, 2017

The Bare Necessities

So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.

Nehemiah 4:23

Notice that Nehemiah, as a leader, led the people––the people did not lead him. He was their example and they followed their leader. Nehemiah and the people were so dedicated to do the work of God, that they did not even change their clothing! While working day and night, they made it through using just the bare necessities. God’s work was so important to them that nothing else mattered.

Nehemiah’s life leaves to us another good lesson for leadership. A leader must be led by the Lord. A leader has to make sure that the people he is called to lead do not end up leading him. As a leader receives instructions from the Lord he must first be obedient to Him. Then they can take those commands to the people and, in turn, the people will follow him.

God must be first––the top priority. A servant of God must accomplish the work of Lord. Why? Because the Lord expects you to finish the work He has given to you. This can only happen as you make yourself available, submissive and accountable to the Lord. The Christian life is a walk of obedience to His will, in whatever way He wants to move in your life.

We can take this important principle with us from Nehemiah 4, we must have a mind to work, a heart to pray and eyes to watch. God will take care of everything else. Remember, He is the One who started a work in you and He will complete it––not you.

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ
~Philippians 1:5-6~

MONDAY May 8, 2017

Laboring in the Work Together

So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. At the same time I also said to the people, “Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day.”

Nehemiah 4:21-22

Nehemiah knew exactly what he was doing; he made sure everyone was laboring in the work together. He unified the work and brought oneness between the people. They all had a mind to work with each other from daybreak into the night, they even worked around the clock, they never ceased––imagine that!

Nehemiah also arranged for the people to sleep inside the city walls so there was no longer any danger in the fields. These men could also be stationed as guards at night, their defenses would never be let down. God’s people did not give any opportunity for the enemy to attack them.

The Apostle Paul explained how we labor together with God in the work of the Gospel. He used terms that were understood by the people:

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9-10).

It is important to know that we are God’s fellow workers and that Christ is the foundation of the Church. Knowing that Christ has won the victory on the cross means that we can labor for the Lord from the stance of victory.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord.
~1 Corinthians 15:58~

SUNDAY May 7, 2017

Rally the People

Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Nehemiah 4:19-20

Nehemiah was a good captain; he was a godly man who followed the Lord. He was able to see the gaps in the wall that had made them vulnerable to the enemy. So, he gathered the people closer and tightened the ranks to make sure all the openings were filled. God continued to instruct Nehemiah in the work. He encouraged and impressed upon the people not to look to him, but to look to God. The Lord was the One who would fight their battles. He leads, guides, protects, provides and keeps their souls––it was all God––God––God!

A spiritual leader can always see the gaps where people are separated in the work of God. The leader must know how to strategize to fill those holes in the ministry, that way God’s work can be completed. It is always the leader’s responsibility to gather the team and keep them together.

When the people heard the sound of the trumpet in the city it could declare to them a feast, a time of praise, to gather them together or warn them of their enemies approaching. So when the watchman on the wall sounded the trumpet, it would rally the people to rush over to where they needed to be. Then they were able to be in a position of readiness because they had the time to prepare and get ready for battle.

As a leader it is good to be in the trenches with the people as you work alongside them fighting the battle. How are your leadership skills?

A leader has been defined as one who knows the way,
goes the way and shows the way.
~Anonymous~

SATURDAY May 6, 2017

Excellent Management

Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

Nehemiah 4:17-18

Nehemiah was an excellent manager and closely supervised the work. He made sure of His strategy; everyone was armed but half of the people watched and protected the city against attack, while the other half worked. This way they were aware of everything that was going on around them in case the enemy attacked. They did not all go to sleep at the same time, they took turns, so they could get the work accomplished.

Notice, Nehemiah was not just commanding and demanding; he was a leader who became a part of the workforce. He knew what he was doing––so neat.

Joseph is another good example of a leader, who also had excellent management skills. When his brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt, Potiphar made Joseph his house manager:

Then he [Potiphar] made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake… Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand… (Genesis 39:4-6).

However, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph and falsely accused him of rape! Joseph was placed in jail, but even there the jailer put him over the other prisoners. Finally, Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh. Then the Lord exalted him next to the Pharaoh in power (Genesis 41:25-32, 39-41). Joseph administrated Egypt’s food supplies during seven years of plenty to survive a seven year famine and, in the end, saved his family.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much…”
~Luke 16:10~

FRIDAY May 5, 2017

The Power of Strategy

And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.

Nehemiah 4:15-16

Nehemiah was a strategist; as he saw the discouragement among the people, he reassembled them by families. He set them up in positions of defense and made sure they are next to each other. Half of them watched for the enemy while the rest worked at constructing the wall. He gave to them a powerful strategy so they could be encouraged in the Lord.

I think of so many people whose homes are being totally wiped out by the enemy––Satan. Homes where the husband is not leading, and taking on the responsibility to be the head of his home––he is often too busy.

Fathers should be the prayer warrior of the home, the one called to watch over his wife and children. He needs to be a loving husband and father teaching the Word of God to his family. It is his responsibility to lovingly take care of his family and provide for them. Fathers, you cannot be too busy, even if you are working two jobs––you need to make time for your family, it is so important in these days.

I have to say to you fathers, “The enemy will come against you as the head of your homes.” Sometimes he will see that there are gaps, holes and openings in the wall of your home––spiritually speaking. This is when the family becomes separated from one another. When that happens the enemy will come in like a flood. He will begin to discourage your wife and your children. As a father prayerfully ask the Lord how you can strategize to bring your family back together in your home and in serving Him.

A home is not a building; it is a relational structure.
~Stephen Olford~

THUSRDAY May 4, 2017

National Day of Prayer

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May. This day has been designated by the United States Congress. Each year since its establishment, the President has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray. During the observance, the Church should pray for President Trump, his administration and the United States Congress. We should openly and unashamedly pray to God for our nation, our troops, police officers and our first responders.

On February 2, 2017 at the National Prayer Breakfast, Donald Trump said: So I want to express clearly today, to the American people, that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land. . . . America will flourish, as long as our liberty, and in particular, our religious liberty is allowed to flourish. . . that is what our people want; one beautiful nation, under God.

So long as we have God, we are never, ever alone. Whether it's the soldier on the night watch, or the single parent on the night shift, God will always give us solace and strength, and comfort. . . . For us here in Washington, we must never, ever stop asking God for the wisdom to serve the public, according to His will.

Vice President Mike Pence is a Christian who also gave a speech on February 23, 2017 at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He asked the conservative community to give President Donald Trump and his administration their prayers. Seriously, this is what America needs, for our nation and its people to be directed back to God.

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
~George Washington~

WEDNESDAY May 3, 2017

Remember the Lord

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Nehemiah 4:14

The people were tremendously afraid of their enemies and they were discouraged in the work of the Lord. Nehemiah placed the people’s attention back onto their God. They should not be afraid of their enemies, as the Lord would fight for them! Who is bigger than God? Who is greater than Him? They needed to remember the battle was not theirs, it was the Lord’s.

If you are in distress and afraid because of your circumstances, you may ask, “Who is going to fight for us?” It is the Lord! He will fight in your defense for your wives, your children, your grandchildren and anybody else. He is not going to let you down––do not be afraid. God is faithful.

In the book of Lamentations, the Prophet Jeremiah who saw terrible times of war and devastation, called to his mind God’s faithfulness. God in righteous judgment had allowed the Babylonians to come against Judah. Many of Jerusalem’s population were slaughtered. But Jeremiah renewed his hope in God:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

It is true that life can be very discouraging but we need not lose hope. We must recall to our minds God’s mercy and compassion in our lives from the past to the present. Then as we see His faithfulness we will be greatly encouraged and our hope will be renewed.

I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
~Psalm 77:11~

TUESDAY May 2, 2017

Families that Fight the Enemy!

Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

Nehemiah 4:12-13

Nehemiah was the kind of leader who knew how to encourage the people. He went into action and strategically placed the families in positions to defend the wall as they continued to build. Interesting––everybody lined up together side by side, husbands and wives, with their families with their weapons in their hands.

When we have identified Satan’s strategies against us then we have to defend ourselves against our enemy. God did not leave us to fight empty handed. Christians have been given a full set of armor to stand and fight against the enemy. Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to: Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

It is very important to understand that we do not fight in carnality––with our flesh; we must fight with weapons of the Spirit. Why? Our battle is a spiritual battle and the Lord has provided us with spiritual weapons:

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:14-18).

As a family do you read God’s Word and pray together? If you do, you will defeat the enemy together.

The Christian needs his sword as well as his trowel.
~William Gurnall~

MONDAY May 1, 2017

The Enemy in the Midst

And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”

Nehemiah 4:10-11

This was a situation where Judah––the kingly tribe, and the ones who were the fighters, were down by the wall and gates, digging in the hole day and night. They had difficulty getting all the rubbish out. There was no time off from the work, they grew physically tired and spiritually they had become drained and discouraged.

Meanwhile the enemy had surrounded the city of Jerusalem and placed pressure on the people. The Jewish people were terrorized by their threats, and that was exactly their adversaries’ intent, to place fear in their hearts. Their enemies had become very persistent in their intimidations and threats to attack them and finally they had become very discouraged.

Notice how Satan attacks you––it is usually when you are physically and spiritually weak. When you are discouraged it is never good to make important decisions that you may regret later in life. When you are oppressed, depressed and discouraged you need to wait on the Lord before you make any decisions. Allow God to speak to your heart first so you can encourage yourself in the Lord and then strategize a plan for whatever the situation may be.

David, the future king of Israel, was in great distress, some of his family and those of his men were taken captive by their enemies. His men even spoke of stoning him because they were all grieved and discouraged. When everything seemed to be against David what did he do? …but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6).

If you wish to be disappointed look at others; if you wish to be disheartened, look at yourself; if you wish to be encouraged,
look to Jesus.
~Anon~

SUNDAY April 30, 2017

Failing Strength

Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

Nehemiah 4:10

The strength of the people was failing; there was so much rubbish that the work had become difficult. It was hard to continue and they slowed down to a halt. The people had it tough and their enemies knew it. So they continued to discourage them and they wanted to destroy them.

What about the flock of Jesus? His people struggle at times to even get to church. They are often harassed by those people in their lives who are like Sanballat and Tobiah. Sometimes they must feel like their strength is failing them. Many fathers and mothers have to work and there is no supervision in the home. Parents not being home all the time––now that is a problem. Children can become insecure and perhaps they struggle in school. These are the areas Satan will attack the families in the church.

People in the world do not have it easy either. I think about everything that people go through in their lives without God. Imagine those who have to drive every day in the traffic into Los Angeles, that is a trial in itself. Think about what people go through daily––so much stress.

I knew a police officer whose wife, at thirty three years old, died of cancer. He was left with three children to raise. He began his shift at ten in the evening until six in the morning. He worked all night long. Afterwards he would go home, cook his children breakfast, and take them to school.

Then he would go to sleep, get up at about one o’clock and later return to work again. At times he would have to do a double shift and the children would have to go with another family member.

Now tell me, if you think you have got it tough? Seriously, we need to pray for God’s strength and depend on Him for everything in our lives.

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31~

SATURDAY April 29, 2017

Watch and Pray

…and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

Nehemiah 4:8-9

As Nehemiah and God’s people began to do the work of the Lord, obviously they were not going to have peace; they faced opposition and war. Collectively, Nehemiah’s enemies had made plans to attack Jerusalem. They knew the weaker the walls remained, with more gaping holes, the easier it would be to attack and cause confusion in the city. So what did Nehemiah do against the enemy? He set a watch.

Christians are called to build the kingdom of God, defend the faith and accomplish His purposes. As you step out to do the work of God there will be opposition and spiritual warfare, it is a part of the Christian life–– get that fact in your mind. But I want you to realize that opposition and spiritual warfare will also cause you to grow in Jesus Christ.

Understand that once you have become a Christian, you can never just kick back in the kingdom of God––it is never easy to work for the Lord. It is one of the hardest things you will ever do. If you are seeking holiness and righteousness––you have not seen anything yet. The enemy will launch rockets against you, your family and everything else you possess. You have to watch from all around you because of Satan’s missiles––his attacks can come from any direction!

Jesus said to His disciples: Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation… this is still an important exhortation to the Church today.

In spiritual defense do you only stand and watch once in a while? No! God’s people must keep watch twenty four hours a day––my friends. How? We must continue to watch and pray. Watching for whom? We must have discernment with all the different people around us. We must watch for the enemy in the camp––for those opposing Jesus Christ and His work.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
~1 Corinthians 16:13~

FRIDAY April 28, 2017

Angry about Accomplishments

Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry…

Nehemiah 4:7

Sanballat, as an enemy of the Jews, never stopped his mockery against them. He had a lot of anger in his heart; so did the other enemies from different nations who had united with him. Sanballat came from the north, Tobiah came from the east, as he was visiting the dignitaries in Samaria. Then Geshem the Arab with the Arabians came from the south, while the Ashdodites came from west. Incredibly the Jews were being attacked and ridiculed from all four corners of the earth, and all because of the work of God that was being accomplished.

In Hebrews 11, we can read about the different heroes of the faith. They went through so many different attacks. They also endured being mocked (Hebrews 11:36). In times of persecution, Christians were tortured, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, cut in two, slain with the sword and destitute (Hebrews 11:35-38). Historically, they were thrown to the lions, burned with fire and even dragged apart by horses!

Sanballat in the Scriptures is a type of Satan. It is important to know that whenever you begin to get your life together and you rebuild the spiritual walls around your life, Sanballat will be there to mock. He might put into your mind comments such as, “Who do you think you are? You are just a self-righteous person, do you think you are better than everyone else?”

Discern the enemies’ attack and understand that those who hate you really hate God and are angry because of how the Lord is using your life (John 15:18). But that is between them and God. Despite the enemies’ attacks, are you accomplishing what God has called you to do?

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
~2 Timothy 4:5~

THURSDAY April 27, 2017

Having a Mind to Work

So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Nehemiah 4:6

After Nehemiah prayed, he took action––together with the people he built the wall. The whole purpose behind the mockery of Sanballat and Tobiah was to stop the work of God. But Nehemiah and the people continued to build the wall and they completed it halfway, as the people had a mind to work––beautiful. The Lord always unites those who have a common vision. He will move them to accomplish the work of God.

However, in the days ahead, not everybody was unified. There were those who had their own agenda, and God would take care of that problem. I like what Alan Redpath said: “In the building of a work for God, are you serving Him or are you opposing Him?” In past years we have had people oppose us in the work of God. When you have people like that you have to get rid of those people. Why? They will discourage God’s people––you have to get rid of the cancer as it will infect others.

Alan Redpath also asked: Are you on the Lord’s side or on Sanballat’s side? Are you for God or are you working for Satan? Whenever you come against the work of God you are on Satan’s side. Alan Redpath also wrote this quote: May God give us the grace to change sides and get onto the side of triumph and victory; and have a mind to work, a heart to pray, and an eye to watch.

Seriously, no matter what happens, you cannot stop the work of God––you cannot, I do not care what it is. We need to have a mind to work and come alongside others who fear the name of God.

I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those
who keep Your precepts.
~Psalm 119:63~

WEDNESDAY April 26, 2017

God is Provoked

Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

Nehemiah 4:5

When it was Tobiah’s turn to give his speech, he completely united with Sanballat. He started his address by ridiculing the work of God. It was the same way with King Herod Antipas and the Governor Pilate, they used to hate each other, but they became united against Christ and His followers (Luke 23:12). King Herod had already killed John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-9). When God was at work among his people these types of enemies were always united together––interesting.

In response to this reproach, Nehemiah turned to the Lord and prayed––that was his weapon. He did not pray for God to destroy these men but for God to honor, protect and divinely watch over him. He asked God to fight for him and he prayed according to the will of God. Notice in Nehemiah’s prayer that he states that these enemies had provoked God to anger––not Nehemiah.

These are common tactics of our enemies that can be used against anyone of us. All of a sudden our enemies can become close friends as they unite in opposition to defeat us. Then, we need to think about what we would do to oppose our enemies’ mockery and threats?

Seriously, when our enemies are yelling at us and we feel that we are at the end of our rope; we need to do exactly the same as Nehemiah––turn to the Lord in prayer. After we have prayed, we must continue with the Lord’s work, no matter what happens, we cannot stop the work of God.

Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.
~Proverbs 16:3~

TUESDAY April 25, 2017 Mocked by the Enemy Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Nehemiah 4:4 Sanballat and Tobiah continually mocked the people of God. It is not unusual for enemies to insult the servants of God. Jesus, a Servant to mankind was mocked by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31). Jesus was also ridiculed and mocked by the rabble when He was crucified and in excruciating pain. Once the people had praised Him, but at His crucifixion they mocked Him: And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:39-40). Seriously, people can turn against you––crowds are fickle, one day they are cheering you and on the next day they are stoning you! In the Old Testament, Goliath mocked young David as if to say––you little shrimp! Seemingly he had no real weapons––a sword, shield or heavy armor. David was a shepherd boy but he was not afraid. Why? His confidence was in the Lord. How did He respond to the Philistine giant? “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). David put a rock in his sling and begun to swing it around, and then he let the rock go! God directed the stone right into that giant’s forehead. Sometimes our problems and trials look like a Goliath. But remember it is God’s battle my friends. “Do not be afraid nor dismayed… for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” ~2 Chronicles 20:15~

MONDAY April 24, 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today we remember one of the most horrific genocide accounts recorded in history. During World War II which spanned from 1939-1945, an estimated six million European Jews were systematically murdered. This was the result of one mad man’s hatred for the Jews––Adolf Hitler, who also believed in the Darwinian theory of natural selection. He wanted to create an elite race of humans––the Aryan––master race. In doing so he would seek the annihilation of weak and inferior human beings––namely the Jews, along with other minorities.

In many areas of Europe Jews were marked by a yellow star of David with the word Jew. Men, women and children were herded into box cars by freight train to extermination camps. On arrival, dehumanization of prisoners began when they were stripped of anything personal. Women’s heads were shaven. In these dreaded camps Jews were driven to slave labor, tortured or gassed––mass murders were commonplace. After the war ended, those who endured the brutality, were liberated. In remembrance, a plaque at Auschwitz reads: Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity where Nazis murdered about one and a half million men women and children mainly Jew––from various countries.

I have visited The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, the Jewish people’s memorial to each Jew murdered in the holocaust. Today Israel, who became a nation on May 14, 1948, has many enemies surrounding her boarders. Israel is an armed nation, ready to defend herself. The Jewish people remember the past and say Zachor, (Hebrew for “Remember”). It happened, it is recorded in history, and it must never be forgotten. What are the sentiments of Israel’s people today? Never again!

All we can do is wait, as calmly as possible, for it to end. Jews and Christians alike are waiting, the whole world is waiting,
and many are waiting for death.
Anne Frank’s Diary

SATURDAY April 22, 2017

Be Steadfast

But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Nehemiah 4:1

As we take a closer look at Nehemiah 4, be open to the Holy Spirit, and see how He wants to speak to your own heart. Nehemiah showed God’s people how to be steadfast despite their enemies’ tactics against them. God’s people could have been easily discouraged as they heard the constant bombardment of insults. But they did not have to be afraid of their enemies. Nehemiah, through God’s power, knew how to defeat them.

Often Satan will use people to discourage you, especially when they come against you to mock and insult you. In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul reveals an important insight: Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. Think about that, Paul made it known that believers should be aware of Satan tactics. We are not to be ignorant of Satan. We should be aware that he is after us in anyway he can––so we have to prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare.

However, when people criticize me or have something to say against me, I do not place a shield up and tell them, you are wrong and I am right. I have to act in humility as I examine my heart, because I may be wrong. First, I ask myself if what they have said is true or is it false. If it is true––God will convict me and I will have to make it right. But if the enemy is trying to ridicule me, or come against me, then I have to trust that God will take care of me.

One thing I have learned in my life is that, I am not pleasing man, I am pleasing God. So, the best thing any of us can do is to keep our eyes on the Lord.

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
~Colossians 1:10~

FRIDAY April 21, 2017

Beautifully Blessed

Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”

Nehemiah 4:3

Sanballat and Tobiah continued to mock the Jews endeavors; these evil men believed Nehemiah and the people were too feeble. They were intent on destroying their plans to rebuild. Yet, Nehemiah’s life and work were beautifully blessed by the Lord. God continued to provide the laborers, and all their supplies. The wall continued to be constructed at a fast pace. Seriously, no one can fight against the work of God.

When God called me to serve Him, I was able to see how the Lord beautifully blessed us as a church. Over the years I have seen people, who want to serve in ministry, but immediately they want to build their own kingdom––even to the point where they mock, lie and cheat.

Yet they have not been here from the beginning, when we started a Bible study in our home for five years. Later, we moved to a building, and at that time in ministry, I would walk to the church at 5:00 in the morning. Our family only had one car. Then there were times when food was left on our front door step––it was very humbling. There was not much to live on in the beginning. God has beautifully blessed us now but I remember the times when I cried with my wife.

In the times we live today we have among us a selfish generation. Why? They have not had to struggle and have not experienced poverty. This generation has had everything handed to them and they often demand things from their parents. They do not realize it takes hard work, time and sacrifice to purchase a new home, car and the other things that God beautifully blesses us with. The main priority is to seek God first.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
~Matthew 6:33~

THURSDAY April 20, 2017

The Waves of Warfare

And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”

Nehemiah 4:2

Nehemiah in the face of great opposition from his enemies remained steadfast and immovable. He would finish God’s work with the people despite the constant waves of warfare––he never resigned himself to failure. He would not be hindered, confused, discouraged, threatened or stopped.

Listen, if you are going to be in the ministry––expect trials. Jesus went through trials in His ministry; are we any better than Him? Seriously, as a leader if people see you give up––then they will also give up. Paul encouraged believers in 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

It is important to remember that walls––spiritually speaking are for protection. Satan does not want you to be protected; he may place ungodly friends around you to destroy your walk with God. Satan can even use your friends and family members to destroy the work of God in your life. So you have to be able to choose your friends wisely––especially in ministry. Surround yourself with godly men and women.

Jesus warned us about Satan’s evil character in John 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” He is not going to mess around, he is your enemy–––your worst nightmare. Understand Satan will never give up his assaults on your life. His tactics are like waves, at times, a constant flow of attack.

Satan does not work haphazardly but attacks systematically.
~Thomas Cosmades~

WEDNESDAY April 19, 2017

Seasons of Spiritual Warfare

But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Nehemiah 4:1

Nehemiah 4 through 6 can be taught as one combined unit. In these chapters Nehemiah described at least nine different tactics of the enemy. Nehemiah went through some heavy pressures as he continued to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, while his enemies tried to stop the work of God.

First, Sanballat and Tobiah attacked the Jewish people with a major weapon––ridicule (Nehemiah 4:1-6). Second, there were plots of war with the intent to create confusion (Nehemiah 4:7-9). Third, these attacks came from within, among the Jewish ranks. When they faced difficulties, there were those who brought discouragement into the camp (Nehemiah 4:10). Among the people were those who did not have the same vision or have a mind to work. They did not want to glorify the Lord or help complete the rebuilding; instead they had their own agendas.

Fourth, the enemy brought fear into the camp (Nehemiah 4:11-23). Fifth, in Nehemiah 5, the whole chapter deals with selfishness. Sixth, Nehemiah’s enemies tried to destroy him through compromise (Nehemiah 6:1-4). Seventh, the enemies’ tactic was to try to destroy Nehemiah by slander and discredit the work of God in Nehemiah’s life (Nehemiah 6:5-9). Eighth, they tried to threaten his life so he would flee (Nehemiah 6:10-14). Then ninth, they attacked with intrigue (Nehemiah 6:17-19). None of these nine devices worked because Nehemiah was solid and focused––the wall would be built regardless of their attacks.

The way Satan attacks me is through seasons, there can be weeks and months where I think,” Where did Satan go? But then there are times my friends, when I have to lock myself in my office! Seriously, I can identify with the Psalmist when he wrote my steps had nearly slipped (Psalm 73:2). Like Nehemiah, I go through heavy pressures as a man of God––that is why I need the grace of God, and we need to pray for each other.

Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him [Jesus] until an opportune time.
~Luke 4:13~

TUESDAY April 18, 2017

Importance of Doctrine

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:

Titus 2:1

Before we move on to Nehemiah 4, I want to touch on the importance of doctrine. There are seven major doctrines in the Bible that we need to know. As we read through the Bible we will touch on each of the doctrines. This will keep us in balance and harmony with the Scriptures.

There are four main, basic doctrines in salvation: regeneration––the new birth, being born of the Holy Spirit. Justification–– trusting God by faith and being in right standing with Him. Sanctification––holiness, being set apart by God daily. Glorification––our future perfect state, in God’s presence when we have our new bodies, and we no longer have our original sin nature.

When dealing with doctrinal conflicts there are three basic questions to prove whether something is sound doctrine: Can you find it taught in the Gospels? Is it taught in the book of Acts and can you find it written in the Epistles? If not, then we do not accept it––we only accept those things that are written for our examples. So, we really do not have to argue about doctrine.

Jesus, in His ministry was teaching, preaching and healing. There was no pattern when He healed someone. In a church service the elders should lay hands on the people (James 5:14), and God does the healing––it is His sovereignty. Nobody should get the credit for anything; it is all the power of God.

We are so fortunate to have been taught by Chuck Smith. As men of God it is really important to give to others what we have learned and to follow the model of Calvary Chapel––to pass on the vision that God gave to him. It is our responsibility to pass on the stories in the Old Testament as we teach God’s Word line upon line to the next generation.

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
~2 Timothy 2:2~

MONDAY April 17, 2017

Completion of the Gates

After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the Nethinim and of the merchants, in front of the Miphkad Gate, and as far as the upper room at the corner. And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:31

Previously in our study of Nehemiah we have spoken about the rebuilding of six of the ten gates around the walls of Jerusalem. Now we will move onward to the last four gates. The Water Gate in Nehemiah 3:26, led from the old city of David, near the Gihon Spring, towards the Kidron Valley. This gate symbolically speaks of the Word of God in the life of the believer. Psalm 119 emphasizes the importance of God’s precepts––His Word, which is what we need to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Horse Gate in Nehemiah 3:28, stood north of the Water Gate near the temple area. The horse stands for power and endurance––as used in battle. It symbolically speaks of the believers’ spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Then mentioned in Nehemiah 3:29, we find the East Gate, also known as the Golden Gate, which leads directly into the temple. According to Ezekiel 43:1-2, this is where our Lord and Savior will enter Jerusalem during the second coming––amazing!

The Gate of Miphkad––meaning appointed place or inspection is the last gate named in Nehemiah 3:31. It was located north east of the city. This gate, speaks of the judgment of Jesus Christ. When He returns, a Christian’s work will be evaluated and given rewards at the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Romans 14:10). There will also be the gathering of the nations, for a forty five day judgment before the millennial kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 25:32). Just as there is completion of the walls and gates in the days of Nehemiah, God will complete His work in our lives!

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
~Philippians 1:6~

SUNDAY April 16, 2017

A Day of Appearances

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

Matthew 28:5-7

Early Sunday morning, before sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome and Joanna were on their way to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body. Before they arrived there was a great earthquake. An angel had rolled back the stone from the tomb and inside it was empty. Jesus had resurrected from the dead! (Matthew 28:2).

This was a day of appearances––Jesus would appear to many different people. First, He appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:16-18). He also was seen by Mary, the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna (Matthew 28:9). Then, in Luke 24:34 the Lord appeared to Simon Peter. Also that evening He also showed Himself to the disciples (John 20:19-20). After eight days, Jesus appeared to the disciples again, this time Thomas was with them. Jesus told Thomas: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39).

Later, Jesus was seen: by over five hundred brethren (1Corinthians15:6). Saul, whose name was changed to Paul in his conversion, had also seen the Lord (Acts 9).

Easter Sunday is a perfect time to consider these infallible truths of Jesus’ resurrection. The Scriptures reveal Christ to us––He is our risen Savior. Do you believe this? If so, ask Him to forgive you of your sins today.

…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
~John 20:31~

SATURDAY April 15, 2017

A Day of Anticipation

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly.

Mark 8:31-32

There was a divine time for Jesus to die on the cross. He had so clearly spoken about His death and resurrection to His disciples but they were not paying attention. Why? Their mindset was on themselves, they were more concerned about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:33-37).

The disciples expected that once Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He would clear out the Romans, set up His kingdom and they were going to rule and reign with Him. They were not thinking about His death and resurrection, so Jesus had to teach them. On one occasion Peter took Jesus aside and reprimanded Him. The Lord had to firmly rebuke Peter––he was not mindful of the things of God but of men (Mark 8:32-33).

Jesus, after His transfiguration, had commanded Peter, James and John: “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9). When the disciples had stayed in Galilee, Jesus told them: “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” Then the disciples became very sorrowful (Matthew 17:23).

As Jesus and His disciples went up to Jerusalem, He had once again predicted His death and resurrection:

“… the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matthew 20:18-19).

After Jesus was arrested, condemned to death and crucified, the disciples should have had a day of anticipation––awaiting His resurrection but they were full of sorrow instead. Death brings much sorrow––but we have hope in the Resurrection!

“After three days I will rise.”
~Mathew 27:63~

FRIDAY April 14, 2017

A Day of Agony

And He, [Jesus] bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:17-19

Jesus has been betrayed, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His disciples had fled––they scattered (Matthew 26:56), even though they said they would never leave Him (Matthew 26:35). Pilate, under pressure of the Jewish leaders, and the crowds, released to them a robber–– Barabbas (John 18:40). They rejected Jesus and shouted for His crucifixion: …they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Then Pilate took a basin of water and washed his hands in front of all the people and said: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person…” (Matthew 27:24). But Pilate was guilty––the whole world is guilty! So many times we blame the Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion, but if we had been in the crowds, without knowing Him, we too would have cried out, “Crucify Him!”

This was to be a day of agony, for Christ. He was taken by a bunch of bitter, angry human beings and humiliated. They mocked and scourged Him. Then soldiers placed a crown of thorns on His head and a purple robe. Thorns, about three inches sharp were rammed into His skull, as they struck Him and mocked Him as the King of the Jews.

The Roman soldiers had already scourged Him with a leather whip that had attached animal’s teeth and pieces of metal. As they struck His back the whip wrapped around Him and ripped off His skin. He received thirty nine stripes––the number of mercy, forty is the number of judgment. By the time He carried His cross and got to Calvary He did not even look like a human being. He is my Master, my Lord, my Savior, and my King! He did this for us, for the sins of the world––Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16~

THURSDAY April 13, 2017

A Day of Arrest

Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

John 18:3-5

Christ is the faithful one––our High Priest and He had begun to pray for His disciples in John 17. As we move into John 18, we read a tremendous part of Scripture. Jesus had left the upper room, walked through the Valley of Gehenna over to the Kidron Valley, and into the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, James and John joined Jesus, as He had asked them to pray with Him. Going a short distance further Jesus prayed for His Father’s perfect will––to go to the cross to redeem us from our sins so we can have eternal life!

Judas, one of Jesus disciples betrayed Him in the upper room. Satan entered Judas as he left the room (John 13:26-27). Judas went to meet with the chief priests who gave him thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal.

Jesus, innocent of any crime, faced a day of arrest––His time had come. It is believed about six hundred men came with torches, swords and clubs. Judas led the Roman and Jewish pack, he is the one that would betray the Lord with a kiss (Matthew 26:48).

I believe with all my heart that everyone of us have a time when we are tested. Our hour will come–spiritually speaking, not only in death, but when God wants your will to be in full submission to His. We are by nature selfish, strong headed, and often we do not listen. We do many foolish things that eventually hurt us. Instead, we need to be like Jesus, prayerfully our hearts and lives must be fully submitted to God––Thy will be done. Then by His grace, God can do whatever He wants in our lives.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…
~Ephesians 1:7~

WEDNESDAY April 12, 2017

A Day of Anointing

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

John 12:3

Jesus often came to the house of Mary and Martha in Bethany. They had a home of hospitality, as their friend, Jesus was a welcomed guest on any occasion. On one instance Martha had complained to Him about Mary, she was not helping her but sat undistracted at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word (Luke 10:38-42).

Mary was a woman of spiritual discernment and understood Jesus’ suffering and death was approaching. This would be a day of anointing––as she took an alabaster box, broke it and anointed her Lord with its contents. It was spikenard, a very costly perfume. It was one of the most loving acts of devotion she gave to her Lord. The perfume filled the whole house––she had done what she could.

Notice Judas, the Lord’s betrayer, he instantly complained against Mary’s sacrifice and influenced the other disciples to criticize her: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He had spoken with a hidden purpose in his heart, as he was a thief (John 12:4-6; Mark 14:4-5). The Lord immediately stopped the complaint started by Judas and said:

“…Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could: she has come before hand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-9).

Her sacrifice was an acceptable act of worship given to Him. It would become a memorial every time the Gospel was preached (Mark 14:9).

Spirit-directed giving is depending only on the
Spirit of God to direct the gifts…
~Lewis Sperry Chafer~

TUESDAY April 11, 2017

A Day of Argument

Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”

Luke 20:1-2

After Jesus had gone into the temple in Jerusalem and dealt with the money changers who were fleecing the flock of God, He continued to daily to teach in the temple. He took the opportunity to preach the Gospel with great authority to the people who intently listened––Jesus was evangelizing.

However, the Pharisees, the Scribes––the religious leaders of the day, confronted Jesus and challenged His authority. They did not respect Him and even though they had witnessed His miracles, they did not believe He was the Son of God. They became irritated and jealous of His life and wanted to kill Him (Luke 19:47). Why? The people were following Jesus and not them.

The religious leaders hoped to entrap Jesus with their insulting questions. Jesus in His infinite wisdom gave them a direct question in return: “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:3-4). Whatever way they answered, Jesus had turned the situation around and entrapped them. The leaders believed, if they answered from heaven, Jesus was validated; if from men, the people would be enraged and stone them (Luke 20:5-8).

What is the Gospel? Simple, Jesus came, died and rose again. Every person needs to make a decision whether to accept or reject the Gospel message. I cannot convert anyone, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit's ministry to bring the sinner to the Saviour
and to make the sinner like the Saviour.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY April 10, 2017

A Day of Authority

So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.

Mark 11:15-16

The temple in Jerusalem was a sacred place of prayer, where the people met with God. But what had the money changers made of it? A den of thieves! You see, the people needed to bring an animal sacrifice, without blemish as an offering, but these deceitful men raised the prices ten times above the fair value! They abused the temple worship, made a handsome profit for themselves and took advantage of God’s people.

When Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem, the Lord went into the temple. He was filled with righteous anger as He knew they were ripping off the people. Then gentle, sweet, loving Jesus forcefully turned over tables and began to grab the money changers. So, with a whip in one hand, He beat these crooks out of the temple. I like Jesus––He did not mess around. Jesus gave these evil men a strong rebuke. These men were upset and angry with Jesus. The real reason––He had hurt their pocket book.

Jesus had quoted from Isaiah 56:7and Jeremiah 7:11, these two prophecies, were spoken by prophets under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Historically they go back five hundred years, now Jesus had fulfilled them both.

It is upsetting to me when I see people beg for funds and weep to fleece the flock of God. Many times I feel like Jesus, filled with righteous anger because these kinds of people especially prey on poor little widows––so sad. I have always believed where God guides God provides––so simple.

“Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.
~Jeremiah 7:11~

SUNDAY April 9, 2017

A Day of Acclaim

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13

Palm Sunday marks the day when Jesus of Nazareth entered Jerusalem. Jesus moved from the area of Galilee towards Jericho and then up to Jerusalem. He had traveled there every year for the Passover, but this year would be different––Jesus would give His life for the world.

Jesus’ fame had widely spread, and crowds of people took palm branches and went to meet Him. Palm branches, in the Scriptures are symbolic of strength, beauty, joy and salvation. The Jewish religious leaders did not know what was going on but the common people, the women and the children, were waving these palms––Jesus was their King.

This was a day of acclaim–– the peoples’ voices shouted out Psalm 118:25-26 “Hosanna––save now. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” and this prophecy became fulfilled. Their expectation and hope was to be saved right at this very moment.

Imagine, there were 2.5 million people in the city for the Passover celebrations as Jesus–––the Prince of Peace, entered Jerusalem on a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Interestingly a king who came into a city to make war; always entered the city on a white horse; but when they came in peace, the king would enter on a donkey. Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Yet the Jewish religious leaders missed it!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!
~Psalm 118:26~

SATURDAY April 8, 2017

Christ’s Passion

… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:10

Many Christians celebrate Passion Week. They follow the different events of Christ’s life that lead up to His death on the cross and His powerful resurrection. Jesus’ mission was to die for the sins of the world. Christ’s passion for mankind was expressed through His sacrificial death.

Jesus’ plan to die existed before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He came down and took human form; He was God in human flesh, (Philippians 2:1:1-11). As a Servant to mankind, He taught, healed and constantly ministered to people. Jesus rose to fame within three short years of His ministry. He became popular with the people who constantly thronged Him.

Yet He was hated by the Jewish religious leaders, who wished nothing more, than to see Him dead. They wanted to rid themselves of His authority, His rebukes, and His seemingly blasphemous doctrine. These religious leaders were nothing more than blind guides to the people.

The Pharisees continued to seek opportunities to entrap Him but Jesus did not place Himself into His enemies hands, not until His hour had come––the time of His great suffering. At the age ofthirty three––as a young man, in the prime of His life, He faced the cross––His hour had come.

Passion Week fulfilled many prophetical Scriptures concerning Christ. During this incredible week, examine these truths, as you walk closely with us on His path of suffering. May your life and walk with Christ be renewed as you reflect on the meaning of His resurrection this Easter.

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
~John 12:23~

FRIDAY April 7, 2017

The Gates of Jerusalem

After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling.

Nehemiah 3:30

Yesterday we discovered the symbolic meanings to three gates of Jerusalem: the Sheep Gate, the Fish Gate and the Old Gate. Now we have come to the location of the Valley Gate in Nehemiah 3:13. It was situated in the south west corner of the city. This gate speaks of a believer’s trials and sufferings (2 Corinthians 1:3-5), and everything that a Christian goes through as God tests their heart, in the Kingdom of God.

The Refuge Gate in Nehemiah 3:14, was a very significant gate. It was placed in the southernmost tip of the city, near the pool of Siloam. In the Old Testament times it used to be called the Valley of Hell. It was an area where the people burned their trash and also where they burned their children to the god Molech. It speaks symbolically of the carnal believer––a person who walks in the flesh and who are not fully submitted to God.

Then the Fountain Gate in Nehemiah 3:15, was located on the east wall just north of the Dung Gate. The Fountain Gate speaks of the Holy Spirit, and His work in the life of the believer (John 7:37-39). This was where Jesus spoke, at the Feast of Tabernacles, about the Spirit of God which would become as living water overflowing from a believer’s heart.

The symbolism behind these three gates can relate to us as Christians. We will go through valleys––a time of suffering, but God is always with us: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4). We are warned that those who live a life in the flesh––according to their earthly appetites, risk eternal judgment: For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6). We understand that the Christian life is lived through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
~Galatians 5:16~

THURSDAY April 6, 2017

Building Stations

Beyond the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:28-29

Nehemiah organized the people and he placed them at certain stations, like the Sheep Gate, at the north-east corner of the city. Interestingly there are ten different gates that are mentioned in the city. Each one of them has a symbolic meaning––spiritually speaking.

The Sheep Gate in Nehemiah 3:1 was where the animals––goats, sheep and lambs were taken through and brought into the temple to be sacrificed. Symbolically speaking, this gate reminds us of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29; John 5:2).

The Fish Gate was located on the west side from the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:3). It was positioned after the tower of Meah, a Hebrew word for hundred and the tower of Hananel, which means in Hebrew God is gracious. The Fish Gate was not only where the fish were brought into the market place, but it speaks of a Christian who has become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). Incredibly the Fish Gate, in typology, speaks of soul winning, our evangelism––as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

An interesting gate was the Old Gate recorded in Nehemiah 3:6, it was stationed in the northern quarter of the city, this gate symbolically speaks of reckoning the old man to be dead (Romans 6), whereby our old sinful nature is crucified.

As we begin to study the symbolic meaning of all these different gates, it would be good to ask ourselves these practical questions: Have you accepted Jesus Christ sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins? As a Christian are you sharing your faith with others? Are you living a crucified life?

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me…
~Galatians 2:20~

WEDNESDAY April 5, 2017

Leading a Combination of Workers

Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower. After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel.

Nehemiah 3:26-27

Nehemiah led a mixed group of people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Among them were leaders who set a good example for the other workers. In the Old Testament a person’s name often meant something; it could be that their name stood for what God was doing or a certain situation. If you look up their individual names in a Strong’s Concordance, it is interesting to see what each name means––it is incredible.

Within the different groups of people there were those who would not work at all, they just wanted to make trouble. They tried to get in the way of those who wanted to work and they hindered the plans. It is interesting to read of people who were able to do more work. These people went out of their way to do more than anybody else, and they gave all the glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

It is important to understand that in ministry everyone is not the same, we all have different levels of energy. But what really spoke to my heart, is all the various people that God uses to do His work––it is not just a few people. It shows us as leaders that we need to involve many other people in the work of God. We must teach, lead and guide them into what we want them to do.

God will be able to do a tremendous work if we remain good examples as leaders. He will use each one of us how He fully intended. However, if we get full of pride, or think we know it all and have the wrong attitude, then how can God really use our lives? It becomes impossible. Seriously, we need to stay simple and humble before God.

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking God uses only “special” people, the strong, the intelligent, the beautiful. We don't think He has a place for the rest of us. We are so wrong!
~Chuck Smith~

TUESDAY April 4, 2017

God’s Representatives

Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the buttress, and on the tower which projects from the king’s upper house that was by thecourt of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:25

More important than the maintenance of the city’s walls, and beautifying the house of the Lord was to be a leader, who represented God to the people. Nehemiah genuinely cared for the people and he showed God’s compassion towards them. They could tell by his actions that he wanted to help them rebuild their lives.

At Rephidem, God’s people contended with Moses because there was no water to drink (Numbers 20:2-5). God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out so the people could drink. Moses misrepresented the Lord to them as an angry God, when the Lord was not angry with His people:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).

We are God’s representatives to His people and whatever actions we take towards them is what they will keep in their minds. Parents bring their children to church so they can learn about God, but how do we greet them at the doors? In ministry how do we answer the phones or as a leader approach someone who is misbehaving or has a problem?

In every situation, God has called us to represent Him to the people. We are to love the Lord and love His people, no matter how contentious they may be. If He loves them so should we.

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
~1 Peter 5:2~

MONDAY April 3, 2017

Who Gets the Glory?

After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress, even as far as the corner.

Nehemiah 3:24

As Nehemiah set about to complete the reconstruction of the walls he was concerned about one thing––the glory of God.

Let me ask you this question, “How is God getting the glory from your life?” You see, whether you sing, play an instrument or preach, people should not be in awe of you, they should give God the glory. People should not be coming to you and lifting you up. Instead they should speak about how the Lord is really shining through you! Then you can know for sure that your life is bringing glory and honor to His name.

If people are talking more about you than the Lord it is time for you as a leader to check yourself out––spiritually. Is there pride developing in your life? I would bring to your remembrance what happened to Satan. Pride caused Him to be cast out of heaven like lightening (Luke 10:18). Why? Satan had attempted to lift himself up above God:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

If you want to guard your heart from pride, ask yourself, am I stealing the glory from God? When you exalt yourself remember it is a very long way down. I would also remind you that God can use a donkey! When the Lord wanted to rebuke the Prophet Balaam, what did God do? He used Balaam’s donkey to speak to him (Numbers 22:28-30).

Pride was the sin that changed angels into devils.
~Thomas Manton~

SUNDAY April 2 2017

Making a Survey

And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs. After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah,made repairs by his house.

Nehemiah 3:22-23

It is interesting to make a survey of the wall of Jerusalem as Nehemiah continued his work to rebuild. Nehemiah 3:1-5 describes the northern wall of the city and those associated in the repairs. Nehemiah 3:6-12 describes the west wall of the city, to the Valley Gate were Nehemiah passed through, at night, to inspect the city’s walls.

Then Nehemiah 3:13-15 describes the work on the south west wall, from the Valley Gate to the Pool of Siloam, on the southern slope of the city of David. During our trips to Israel we have been there many times. The work between the south east Fountain Gate and the Water Gate is described in Nehemiah 3:16-27. Finally, Nehemiah 3:28-32 describes the west Horse Gate to the Sheep Gate.

There were thirty eight individual workers mentioned in Nehemiah 3 and forty two different people groups identified. The word build is used six times, the word repair––which means to make strong or firm, is use thirty five times, and the locks and bars are mentioned five times.

All the different cultural people involved in the work, relate to us, that God uses all kinds of people, with unique personalities, and temperaments. It would be chaos if we tried to do that in the world; only God can bring unity among us––we are one in the body of Christ.

I would encourage any believer, to go to Israel with us and survey the city of Jerusalem for themselves. It is incredible as you walk into the city and see all the different sights. You will never read your Bible the same way, everything will come to life––it’s amazing!

Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
the city of the great King.
~Psalm 48:2~

SATURDAY April 1, 2017

April Fools’ Day

…I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?”

Luke 12:19-20

Today is April Fools’ Day and although not a legal holiday, it is celebrated across the world. It is believed to have begun in 1700, Britain, when some young pranksters began to play tricks on each other. April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. Others believe it came from Geoffrey Chaucer’s book The Canterbury Tales from 1392.

However, God’s Word has a lot to say about fools. Proverbs 14:1 tells us: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. The side effects of drinking alcohol will make a fool out of you: Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (Proverbs 20:1 KJV). A fool never learns from their mistakes: As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11).

Jesus often taught the people around Him by parables––stories that would relate to them. The Parable of the Rich young Ruler is found in Luke 12:13-21.It tells the story of a rich man who stored away much treasure in life. He had the worldly philosophy of take your ease; eat, drink and be merry. What he did not know was God would require his soul that very night! He may have been rich on earth but he had nothing to show for himself before the Lord––he was spiritually bankrupt.

Many people today live by this foolish philosophy: eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die! But this is not the only life a person has––we have an eternal soul and after death we can go into an eternal life or eternal death. Do not be a fool in this life, be wise and make sure you know where you will be going in eternity.

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
~Matthew 16:26~

FRIDAY March 31, 2017

Ascribe to the Lord

After him Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully repaired the other section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz,repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.

Nehemiah 3:20-21

As Nehemiah and the people built the walls of Jerusalem, the people surrounding the city must have stood in awe. The work was incredible to see and they would have to attribute the work to the Lord––God alone would get the glory. The people that watched the reconstruction would be left with no other explanation than to declare––there is a God in Israel!

God’s name would be lifted up amid His people and among the other nations. Once the walls were completed, God’s people could worship the Lord in safety, in the most important place of the city, the tabernacle–– their place of worship. Our Lord is worthy of worship:

For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the LORD in holy attire; tremble before Him, all the earth (Psalm 96:4-9).

Remember God does not share His glory with anyone. He declares to us: I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another… (Isaiah 42:8). Do you give the credit to the Lord for all He has done in and through your life?

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
but to Your name give glory.
~Psalm 115:1~

THURSDAY March 30, 2017

No Burn Out!

After him their brethren, under Bavai the son of Henadad, leader of the other half of the district of Keilah, made repairs. And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the Ascent to the Armory at the buttress.

Nehemiah 3:18-19

Notice how the people worked tirelessly. They were unstoppable in their work to repair the walls. Their unified momentum can only be explained as a work of God. The wall was not built by the people’s strength or power. The Lord had empowered and enabled them.

All the work you do for God is not to be done with your own energy; otherwise you will be defeated and discouraged. It has to be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. People who say they are burned out are trying to do God’s work in their own strength. They simply do not trust the Lord. Chuck Smith did not believe that a person could ever burn out; there is no evidence seen in the Scriptures.

If people get overtired physically and walk around with long faces, that may become a sign that they are not relying on the Lord for their strength or His power for ministry. Jesus taught us to abide in Him. Why? Without His power and strength we can do nothing (John 15:5). Underline these helpful Scriptures in your Bible as a reminder that it is God who enables you: Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5). “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

You see, God has given us the way to accomplish His work. It is through prayer and the Word––as we meditate on the Scriptures. We must trust in the Lord. Why? He has given us a way to enter a spiritual rest (Hebrews 4:10), and He does the work through us. Philippians 2:13 tells us: for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…
~Psalm 37:7~

WEDNESDAY March 29, 2017

Eternal Perspective

After him the Levites, under Rehum the son of Bani, made repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah, made repairs for his district.

Nehemiah 3:17

Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the people worked on the walls diligently. Their focus was to complete the work of the Lord. They let nothing distract them; no obstacles or problems were too difficult to overcome. Even their enemies’ provocation and mockery could not dissuade the people from accomplishing their end results. They would continue to build until the walls were finished.

It is important to know your mission in life and remain focused so you can finish the work God has given you to accomplish. We need to keep a passion for the things of the Lord. Many times your eyes can focus on something else, it could be a problem or distraction, and pretty soon you have begun to lose the vision God had given to you. Remain open to the Lord’s plans. Stay in tune and follow along with what God wants you to do. Keep an eternal perspective, this will help you to persevere, and you will find that no matter what happens, you will accomplish the vision.

It is important to understand that as we rebuild our lives our eyes should be focused on eternity. If your heart is not for eternity, then I feel sorry for you because you will be miserable. Do you not realize, the work of God will continue with us or without us?

Jesus was given a mission to accomplish, he told His disciples: “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). Jesus stayed focused on His eternal purpose––to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). He set His face like flint because He knew He faced the agony of the cross (Luke 9:51). Before Jesus died, He said: …I have finished the work which You have given Me to do (John 17:4). Jesus had an eternal perceptive, do you?

…Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:2~

TUESDAY March 28, 2017

Daily Spiritual Maintenance

After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the tombs of David, to the man-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty.

Nehemiah 3:16

It is important to understand that once Nehemiah and the people had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, that these walls would need to be maintained. We call the church building, the house of the Lord. The building takes a lot of oversight and has to be daily and continually kept up. If the building is neglected it will fall into disorder and disrepair.

As Christians, we must rebuild our lives every single day. Why? We still sin every day. In our personal relationship with the Lord, we must keep short accounts. We must confess any sin committed against Him daily. First John 1:9 tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In maintaining our daily, spiritual walk with God we need to often take spiritual inventory of our lives. We need to learn from King David who came before the Lord to ask:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

God is all knowing–– omniscience. He can see into our hearts and minds. He knows our real motives. The Prophet Jeremiah revealed God’s omniscience in Jeremiah 17:10: …I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

Have you examined your life before the Lord recently?

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the
inner depths of his heart.
~Proverbs 20:27~

MONDAY March 27, 2017

Submitted and Successful

Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.

Nehemiah 3:15

Another reason Nehemiah was so successful in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was because of his submission. He had first submitted to God and then to King Artaxerxes. How had he submitted himself to God? He mourned, fasted and prayed. Then in humility he remained accountable to the king in his venture, he sought his permission to leave, and gave him a time frame for his return (Nehemiah 42:4-6). Nehemiah became an example of a spiritual man to the king, his brother and God’s people.

It is important to understand, in the call of God, some people go and others stay behind. There are those who are called to be doers while others stay and become prayer warriors. We need to listen carefully to the voice of the Lord for His direction. King David prayed to the Lord and asked him: Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10).

Once you have discerned his voice, like Nehemiah, you should submit to His leading. Then you should remain accountable and submissive to those leaders He has placed in authority over you. God is a God of order. Always remember that you will never succeed if you try to do your own thing. First Peter 2:13-15 instructs us:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors… For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Is your life fully submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, your church leadership and the just laws that govern where you live?

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
~1 Peter 2:17~

SUNDAY March 26, 2017

The Anointing on the Forehead

Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.

Nehemiah 3:14

Nehemiah gave a detailed account of the city’s walls reconstruction. He was very careful in his oversight of the project. Nehemiah was a man who took the labor of God seriously. He knew rebuilding the walls was a work of God and not a work of man. His written words in the book of Nehemiah became his lasting memoirs.

Although the building of the city’s walls was vital, Nehemiah understood that his most important responsibility was to rebuild the lives of the people who lived in distress in Jerusalem. Nehemiah could take charge of the people because they could see the evidence of his anointing. God had anointed him to do the work He had planned for him.

It is God who sets a person apart and anoints them by the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work of God. The Apostle Paul establishes this truth in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22:

Now He [God] who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

God has called His people to be builders––not destroyers. We are to help build each other up in Christ and we are not to tear each other down.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up... We can only build up other peoples’ lives through the God given anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Christian phrase, anointing on the Forehead is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s power and work in the life of a believer. Can people see the anointing on your forehead?

But the anointing which you have received from Him
[Jesus] abides in you.
~John 2:27~

SATURDAY March 25, 2017

No Man is an Island

Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate.

Nehemiah 3:13

Notice all the people that came together with Hanun, in a joint effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem–– the entire people of Zanoah, a city in Judah (Joshua 15:34). It did not matter if there was a small or large portion of the wall to be rebuilt. The builders worked together in unity.

If there was no unity or harmony between the different people in the city, the work would have come to a complete stand-still.

Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, had gained ground after every single battle. The Lord had given them great victories. As Joshua continued to go to battle in the Promised Land, one man’s sin affected the whole camp. All of a sudden they experienced a disheartening defeat and Israel came to a humiliating stand-still. Why? One individual had his own agenda; he disobeyed and took spoils from the enemy’s camp. He hid them under his tent. When he was found out, he, along with his family suffered tremendous consequences (Joshua 7).

At one time in my life, I was privileged to do chapel services for a famous baseball team. Once in a while, there was one thing I saw, one player all by himself. This famous person had separated himself from the team. He enjoyed his own secluded area with all his luxuries surrounding him. That is not being a team player––you really cannot win like that. In a team you should not just have one hero, all the players are essential.

No man is an Island––a person with their own agenda and with no accountability. Those types of people will not remain within any corporation. Why? They will usually end up causing a division. There is no fame in the ministry. Jesus Christ should be the only one to receive the glory and the honor.

…to Whom [God] be glory forever and ever. Amen.
~Galatians 1:5~

FRIDAY March 24, 2017

A Sure Calling

Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens. And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:11-12

Nehemiah had a great interest in the lives of other people; he really made such a difference. As the walls of Jerusalem were being rebuilt so were the people’s lives being rebuilt. Compassion for other people is the key in ministry. He was also a leader of great humility and kindness, which is a notable benefit to a godly leader. He also cared about each individual family. Those who joined in the work where not only the fathers, but their sons and the daughters, families worked side by side to accomplish the work of the Lord.

The ministry is about taking care of people––it is serving the people, and taking an interest in their lives, this was exactly what Nehemiah did. The people of God have to be taken care of spiritually, that is the key. If you do not have an interest for people, then in all honesty, you are not going to do well in ministry.

I want to remind people interested in ministry that it has to be a call of God––it is not a job. If you do not have a call of God, you become like so many students who attended college, who take their general classes, major in a subject but still remain undecided in what they want to do––they wander from one subject to another and never become effective.

Those students who give themselves fully to a subject, and stayed focused, later become a professional. They succeed in their endeavors.

In ministry you have to know that you are called and you need to be sure of what God has called you to do. As you rise up to do the work of God, stay focused. As you minister to God’s people you will make a difference––big time.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call
and election sure…
~2 Peter 1:10~

THURSDAY March 23, 2017

Glorious City of God

And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabniah made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:9-10

Jerusalem is where God had placed His name: Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there… (2 Chronicles 6:6), and where the Shekinah glory of God dwelt. This holy city was a place where Jews would go on a pilgrimage, they came before the Lord during the year to offer their sacrifices (Deuteronomy 16:16). In Jerusalem was the temple, the house of the Lord, where God met His people. Psalm 46:4-5 describes the city of Jerusalem:

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King. God, in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold.

As Christians, it is important to understand that God dwells with in us.

1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 2 Corinthians 13:5 also states: Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? 1 John 3:24 also informs us: Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Even though God dwells within us; we must come to house of the Lord to receive from Him. He will speak to us as we listen to the message given by the pastor; and we are to serve the Lord and joyfully give to Him.

Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah.
~Psalm 87:3~

WEDNESDAY March 22, 2017

A Unified Effort

Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.

Nehemiah 3:8

Notice, there was a unified effort between Nehemiah and God’s people in the work of the Lord. Certainly there was no possible way Nehemiah could have done this great work on his own. The people, with their different gifts and talents, all joined together to help with the repairs. It did not matter if they were goldsmiths, perfumers, leaders, priests or from a different district of Jerusalem, they all worked together, as one, in complete harmony. At a later time, Nehemiah gave credit to the people who had helped him rebuild the walls (Nehemiah 4:6).

Jethro knew Moses could not lead the people of Israel by himself. He had the same wisdom as Nehemiah. Jethro knew he could not do the work on his own, so he approached Moses. Jethro suggested establishing a chain of command. Place men over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens so they could judge the people’s problems. Then Moses could use his time sensibly in prayer and the Word. Only the difficult problems needed to be brought to him. Otherwise Moses would wear himself out (Exodus 18).

These examples remind me of 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-13. Christ is the head of the Church––the body of believers, and He uses every believer as a hand, foot, eye or ear in the building of the body of Christ.

He has given each of us gifts and talents to be used in the work of God. As we serve the Lord, He enables us to be in harmony as we work together.

Are you a gifted and loyal person, one who can lift up your leader’s hands, as you work alongside of them?

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
~1 Peter 4:10~

TUESDAY March 21, 2017

A Tremendous Work

Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars. And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the residence of the governor of the region beyond the River.

Nehemiah 3:6-7

Nehemiah, Chapter 3 contains one of the most detailed descriptions of Jerusalem in the entire Bible. If you pay close attention you will notice how Nehemiah described the walls, gates and towers that make up the whole city in detail. Jerusalem becomes so picturesque when you study each one of these areas. Interestingly each gate symbolizes something. Even today the Jews in Israel continue to do their business at the city’s gates––amazing!

As we examine this tremendous work of God, it really reflects the phenomenal, organizational skills of Nehemiah. Many people who looked at the city’s devastation may have thought, “Can anything good come out of all this mess?” But somebody had a vision––Nehemiah.

Often our lives can become such a mess, people may stare and think there is no possible way this person can rebuild their life––they are done. But God can take a broken life and restore a person––fully and completely. God can do a tremdous work in our lives as He builds us spiritually–– He beautifies us. Psalm 90:17 tells us: And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.

Is your life in a mess? The answer to your distress is to ask the Lord to rebuild your life––so He can use your hands to build His kingdom.

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.
~Psalm 149:4~

MONDAY March 20, 2017

Dealing with Strife

Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs. Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shouldersto the work of their Lord.

Nehemiah 3:3-5

Notice how Nehemiah recorded the problem he had with the nobles–– they had refused to help in the work of the Lord. There was a lot of physical and strenuous activity needed to rebuild the walls, but these nobles would not lend a hand or shoulder any of the burden.

Nehemiah not only faced opposition from without but also from within. His enemies on the outside had received important information from those cooperating with them from the inside. There were people from the inside who had spied out the work of God, and had given a full report of how the plans were proceeding to Nehemiah’s enemies.

In the Corinthian Church there was much carnality, sexual sin and strife. Believers not governed by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25), will become carnal people. These carnal Christians from within the church, had caused deep division, and hindered the work of God. Believers began to follow after a certain person’s name––what teacher they liked best.

In 1 Corinthians 3:3, the Apostle Paul exhorted these carnal Christians for their worldliness: For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? We cannot have the philosophy of the world in the Church. It is good to examine our lives daily to make sure we are not being used by the enemy as a tool of division and strife.

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
~1 Corinthians 1:10~

SUNDAY March 19, 2017

The Faith Key

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

Nehemiah 3:1-2

Nehemiah, in Chapter 3, recorded the names of many different people who helped him to rebuild. He also named the city’s gates. Nehemiah began his work at the Sheep Gate and moved counter-clockwise as he rebuilt. He approached the task with immense dedication. Nehemiah was faced with a great challenge, as he began to rebuild the walls, but he was a man of great faith. Nehemiah knew he served a great God; this wonderful perspective was the key to his faith.

In Jewish history, the tabernacle was a place where the children of Israel, met with God. The tabernacle was portable and went with them as they moved location. It traveled with God’s people when they began their great Exodus from Egypt, and as they conquered the land of Canaan. It was not until they settled in Jerusalem that the tabernacle was permanently built.

Faith was the key to move our church from West Covina, to our Diamond Bar location. We used to get lost in this massive building––it is so huge. As we have rebuilt, the congregation can sit down on comfortable chairs and enjoy the nice carpet, but many of the people have no idea what it took to get here––five years of sweat and dedication. In unity, our hearts were determined to build this place––an earthly sanctuary for God’s people to come and worship.

When God challenges us to do a work for Him, we need to have great faith. Faith is the key to our success in whatever God has called us to do. Without faith we will be defeated. It is important to understand that we are constantly on the move in this life, but when we get to heaven, we shall be there forever, worshipping in the presence of God.

Faith is the master key of the Christian life.
~Ronald Dunn~

SATURDAY March 18, 2017

Arise and Build

So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

Nehemiah 2:20

Nehemiah told Sanballat, who was most likely a Moabite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem an Arabian that they had no relation with the Jews––they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Even though they were chief men among the Samaritans (Nehemiah 4:1, 7), they had no authority over them. As a leader Nehemiah stood up to his enemies and he reminded them they were of no importance.

Nehemiah, in the face of opposition, would arise and build with his Jewish brethren. God had already provided the means to rebuild, so they would continue with confidence––the Lord would prosper them. As God’s servants, they were unified, with one mind and one heart to complete this epic work–– to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

It is important to realize that we only have one life to live. There are people who sit in old folks’ homes, who have not fulfilled what God intended for their lives. They have wasted their years, when they could have been used mightily by the Lord. Now they are unable to anything, except to look back on their wasted lives. So many people miss out on the opportunities God had given to them. Can you imagine their torment?

Seriously, you can never get back the time you waste now, especially as a youth, the clock just keeps moving forward and time will pass you by. It is vital to discipline your life so that every minute counts for the Lord. Be careful to focus on what the Lord wants you to do. That is the only way you are going to gain ground. Chuck Smith said, “If you cannot govern your spirit now or take care of your problems now, it might be that you could become a regretful person one day.”

No reserves. No retreat. No regrets.
~William Borden~

FRIDAY March 17, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

Matthew 28:19

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Patrick was born into a Christian family but had no interest in the church. As a boy, he was captured by slave traders and taken to Ireland. It was a place filled with magicians and pagan practices, the people were in spiritual darkness. He believed God was chastening him and would pray night and day. It was in Ireland, through trials and suffering that Patrick came to know Christ personally.

Finally, Patrick escaped and found a ship that carried him back home. He began to study for ministry when in a vision God called him to go and return to Ireland to preach to the people who had enslaved him. He traveled across the Irish countryside bringing the Gospel to the hostile pagan Celts. Patrick wrote a poem of faith and trust in God which he named the “Breast Plate”:

"Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."

He brought the light of Christ into the spiritual darkness of Ireland and laid a good foundation for Christianity. In obedience to God’s call to go to Ireland, he was able to plant 300 churches. His ministry lasted 29 years and 120,000 Irishmen were saved and baptized into the Christian faith. He lit such a fire in Ireland as he faithfully preached the Gospel.

Any man touched by Jesus Christ is good publicity for the gospel.
~Vance Havner~

THURSDAY March 16, 2017

Keep Your Eyes on the Lord

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”

Nehemiah 2:19

Other people began to hear of Nehemiah’s plans to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Both Sanballat and Tobiah began to mock the plans, they sought to oppose and discourage the Jews. But Nehemiah, in his heart was fully convinced, on what God had called him to do. He kept his focus on the Lord and was not easily distracted by their words of mockery. He was able to remain steadfast and in tune with what God wanted him to do. Nothing moved Nehemiah and he continued to unify the people even in these times of opposition.

Peter was a man who needed to learn to keep his eyes on the Lord. During a storm, the disciples were on a boat in the middle of the Galilean sea (Matthew 14:22-23). The Lord walked towards them on the water. At first they were afraid, but Jesus called out to them and reassured them to not be afraid. Peter recognized the Lord, answered Him: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (Matthew 14:28).

Jesus beckoned to Peter to walk on the water towards Him. Peter, by faith, got out of the boat with the high waves all around him, and began to walk on the water. As Peter kept his eyes focused on the Lord, he stayed above water, but as soon as he placed his eyes on the wind and waves around him, he immediately began to sink. Peter called out to the Lord to save him! Jesus caught him and calmed the storm (Matthew 14:29-32).

When the enemy stirs up people to come against us, it is important to keep our eyes on the Lord. If we cloud our minds with doubt and listen to his lies, we start an internal storm in our hearts and begin to sink in discouragement.

The Christian's chief occupational hazards are depression
and discouragement.
~John R. W. Stott~

WEDNESDAY March 15, 2017

Rebuild Wall––Restored Status

Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.

Nehemiah 2:17-18

Notice, Nehemiah was a good leader; he placed himself in the same distressful situation as the people. He was with them together, for the long haul––no matter how much time it would take to rebuild. Think about it––Nehemiah did not need to be in this difficult place, he could have stayed secure in a nice palace. But he heeded the call of God, and left everything behind to become joined with God’s people––that is the ministry.

Nehemiah began to instill hope in the lives of the people. He encouraged unity and gave them a renewed purpose––to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. In doing so, Nehemiah made them understand they would regain their status. Once they begun the work to rebuild the walls together, their enemies could no longer mock or harass them. They would be respected as a nation. Nehemiah, spiritually speaking would also rebuild the walls of the people’s lives––that is so important.

As Nehemiah brought them a good report, he was able to reassure the people. He relayed how God’s hand was on his life, as the Lord had given him great favor with King Artaxerxes, who had given him abundant provision. Nehemiah continued to unify the people so that they would be able to stand with him, to do the work of God. The people were greatly encouraged by Nehemiah’s leadership. But despite Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the walls, they would face strong opposition from their enemies.

Are you prepared to face opposition when doing the work of the Lord?

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
~Ephesians 6:10-11~

TUESDAY March 14, 2017

Bird’s-Eye View

And I [Nehemiah] went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.

Nehemiah 2:13-16

Nehemiah proceeded to give an in-depth description of Jerusalem’s city’s walls. Nehemiah first needed to gain a bird’s-eye view of the scope and magnitude of what God had called him to do. He still remained silent and did not speak a word to anyone about his good intentions. God’s people were already depressed––if he had told them, they might have responded, “There is no possible way.” So, he prayed and waited on the Lord for the perfect time to let them know, what he was going to do.

Nehemiah would have to rely on the people to help him accomplish the work of God; he could not build the walls by himself. He would need faithful and loyal people to help undertake the task. As I get a little ahead in the story, how long did it take to complete the wall? It took only fifty two days to finish. Why? The reason the wall was accomplished so rapidly was they worked together in harmony. Everyone had a mind to work; they were unified; as the Spirit of God worked among them.

Loyal people are needed to accomplish the work of God. Nobody can have their own agenda. God will bring together a unified team with one vision and purpose––to get the job done!

If ten men are carrying a log — nine of them on the little end and one at the heavy end — and you want to help, which end will you lift on?
~William Borden~

FRIDAY April 14, 2017

A Day of Agony

And He, [Jesus] bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:17-19

Jesus has been betrayed, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His disciples had fled––they scattered (Matthew 26:56), even though they said they would never leave Him (Matthew 26:35). Pilate, under pressure of the Jewish leaders, and the crowds, released to them a robber–– Barabbas (John 18:40). They rejected Jesus and shouted for His crucifixion: …they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Then Pilate took a basin of water and washed his hands in front of all the people and said: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person…” (Matthew 27:24). But Pilate was guilty––the whole world is guilty! So many times we blame the Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion, but if we had been in the crowds, without knowing Him, we too would have cried out, “Crucify Him!”

This was to be a day of agony, for Christ. He was taken by a bunch of bitter, angry human beings and humiliated. They mocked and scourged Him. Then soldiers placed a crown of thorns on His head and a purple robe. Thorns, about three inches sharp were rammed into His skull, as they struck Him and mocked Him as the King of the Jews.

The Roman soldiers had already scourged Him with a leather whip that had attached animal’s teeth and pieces of metal. As they struck His back the whip wrapped around Him and ripped off His skin. He received thirty nine stripes––the number of mercy, forty is the number of judgment. By the time He carried His cross and got to Calvary He did not even look like a human being. He is my Master, my Lord, my Savior, and my King! He did this for us, for the sins of the world––Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16~

MONDAY March 13, 2017

Seal the Vision

So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.

Nehemiah 2:11-12

Nehemiah took some personal time to look around the city of Jerusalem. His survey of the city probably took him three days because he had never seen the full extent of the damage for himself. As Nehemiah observed the work that needed to be accomplished, he most likely thought to himself, “Lord, no wonder you spoke to my heart and I had such a great burden.” He knew rebuilding the walls was going to take a lot of work!

Then Nehemiah arose by night, with a few other men to examine the destruction of the walls as they went around the entire city. As Nehemiah viewed the repairs needed to be made, the devastation sealed the vision of God in his heart––the Lord totally confirmed what Nehemiah was called to accomplish. But he still had not told anybody, he had kept the plans to himself. Perhaps he would have been misjudged by these men he took with him? But he was excited to see what God was about to do.

God can speak to each one of us personally, about a work He desires for us to accomplish, but we need to go forward and take steps of faith to begin that work. As we pray and ask the Lord for wisdom, He will continue to give us confirmation. Often, God will give us confirmation through His Word, circumstances, a certain situation or through a person, who is in tune with the Holy Spirit, to speak to us.

Seriously, God can use any of these things to help seal the vision in our hearts. He gives to us a blessed assurance––a confidence that we are in line with His plans and purposes.

The inward testimony of conscience, the sealing of the conscience, the sealing of the Spirit ... far exceeds all the evidence of the senses.
~John Calvin~

SUNDAY March 12, 2017

Strong Opposition

When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

Nehemiah 2:10

God had gone before Nehemiah and he would enable him to do a tremendous work in the city of Jerusalem––the doors were open for him and everything was proceeding as planned. But the people were in such distress they did not know what to do anymore. They had grown comfortable even in their difficult state and they needed a leader. God raised up Nehemiah and he had come to seek their well-being.

However, as Nehemiah unified the people, his enemies Sanballat and Tobiah opposed him. They became jealous and were upset about plans to do the work of God. They were selfish and self-centered, evil mockers, who depressed the people, and liked to keep them under their thumbs––they tried to lord it over God’s people.

Sanballat and Tobiah thoroughly set themselves against Nehemiah. They wanted the rebuilding of the city’s walls to be hindered. If possible, they would slow down Nehemiah’s vision to rebuild, so it could not be enhanced or continued. Tobiah was a rat and, as kin to the high priest, he readily leaked information to Sanballat and the others who were concerned about this new venture (Nehemiah 4:1-2). Sanballat and Tobiah would deliberately attempt to destroy the work of God. They hoped Nehemiah’s plans to rebuild the walls would just break apart. Then they could mock him further and say, “You tried but you failed.”

Satan is never happy when you try to do the work of God, especially if you are seeking the well-being of God’s people. Satan hates it––he is not happy at all. He will do anything in his power to slow down the work of God. He uses people like Sanballat and Tobiah, to fight against God’s people and hinder the plans of God.

Satan has no constructive purpose of his own: his tactics are simply to thwart God and destroy men.
~J. I. Packer~

SATURDAY March 11, 2017

A Straight Path

Then I [Nehemiah] went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

Nehemiah 2:9

Nehemiah became like a statesman. When he left the presence of King Artaxerxes, he had a straight path to do the work of God––he could move through any territory he traveled. The Lord had given Nehemiah traveling mercies, and the king had ensured that Nehemiah had all the provisions he needed; everything necessary to do God’s work. He never had to beg for anything, the Lord had gone before him––so cool.

Nehemiah was given large amounts of timber to build and divine protection. The king had sent his very own captains and horsemen along with Nehemiah. As Nehemiah arrived in the city of Jerusalem, the Lord had given him divine protection from any threatening assailants. God is not the author of confusion––this is exactly how the Lord works.

Understand, when God opens the doors to do His work, He protects us, and provides for all of our needs. Psalm 84:11 tells us: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians, when he said: And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

God leads and guides our lives; He gave to us this promise: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye (Psalm 32:8-10). Each and every step of the way we must trust the Lord to direct us.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

FRIDAY March 10, 2017

By Divine Appointment

…and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

Nehemiah 2:8

Nehemiah knew God’s hand was on his life. He began to see all these doors open––God was providing for Nehemiah’s journey and he would be sent to Jerusalem by permission of King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah had the Lord’s assurance in his life, he could move forward, unhindered in his call to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

It is important to understand that whatever town or city we live in, we are there by divine appointment. We have to remember that God does not make mistakes; we are placed there at the right time and at the right place. But we have to be in tune with the Lord and what He wants to accomplish. God has a work to be done there and He expects us to submit our lives to Jesus Christ. If we do not yield to be used by Him, then He will use somebody else––plain and simple.

The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippian believers when he wrote to them. He said: being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

God is at work not only in our personal lives spiritually as He transforms us, sanctifies us and eventually completes our glorification, when we are with Him for all eternity; but He desires to accomplish His plans for us on earth.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~Jeremiah 29:11~

THURSDAY March 9, 2017

Absolutely No Compromise

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 1:8

Daniel, at about twelve years old, was chosen along with his friends, and taken to Babylon as captives. Daniel became a key person in history; he was at the right place where God would use him. Daniel and his friends would be trained in Babylon, but they were never influenced by the Babylonian culture. Daniel, even though a young teenager, purposed in his heart not to eat the king’s food and drink. He would not compromise––he was determined to keep the Jewish traditions.

The Jews, even today, persist in their traditions. When it is time for prayer no matter where they are, they will put on their shawls and phylacteries as they face towards Jerusalem and pray. It shows their commitment and dedication to God; even though they do not recognize Christ as their Messiah.

Notice, when people want to change a culture they begin by changing the minds and hearts of the young children––that is how communism was accomplished. But Daniel left us a good example, of being in a foreign place where it would have been easy to compromise but he chose not to do so. It really proves that a person can live in an ungodly culture and not be changed. The Apostle Paul gave us this view of Christians in society:

that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15)

As Christians we can live in a corrupt world, in spiritual darkness but still purpose in our hearts not to compromise. How is this accomplished?

…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,
to fulfill its lusts.
~Romans 13:14~

WEDNESDAY March 8, 2017 Biblical Count Down Triggered! Nehemiah said, “…and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me. Nehemiah 2:8 Interestingly the first eight verses, in Nehemiah 2, were a trigger point to one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible––the seventh week of Daniel. In the past we have spoken about Leviticus 26; and Deuteronomy 28-30, where, the Lord, spoke about blessing and cursing to the children of Israel. God foreknew that the nation of Israel would enter into sin and apostasy. Israel, because of their disobedience, suffered and had gone into seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Then, as we reach Daniel 9; the seventy years of captivity were just about over, and the seventy week prophecy of Daniel was about to begin. The seventy week prophecy of Daniel 9 represents 490 years. This prophecy began with the command of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1. This command was given on March 14, 445 BC. According to Daniel’s prophecy after 483 years Messiah would be cut off. 483 years in their calendar would be 173,880 days. Counting 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC puts us at April 6, 32 AD, which was the Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem. What an incredible fulfillment of Bible prophecy! But there is one final week––the seventh week of Daniel, the 7 year period known as the Tribulation, which leads to the end of the world. Nehemiah was the one chosen to trigger the beginning of this prophecy––this amazing countdown! God also used Daniel. As the prophetic calendar unwinds, consider the condition of your spiritual life? Are you ready for the return of Christ? Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” ~Luke 21:28~

MONDAY March 6, 2017

Requests Fulfilled

Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Nehemiah 2:4-5

Artaxerxes––the heathen king recognized that Nehemiah was not depressed; He had discerned that it was something more, deep inside Nehemiah’s heart that was troubling him, which prompted him to ask: “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2). Nehemiah spoke and got right to the point. He told the king of the entire situation in Jerusalem. Then the king immediately responded and asked Nehemiah what he requested.

Notice, before Nehemiah even answered the king’s question, he continued to pray silently, in his own heart, to the Lord––as God knew all their needs. Nehemiah trusted that God would continue to go before him. Prayer had laid the ground work, and after four months, God opened heaven and answered Nehemiah’s prayer.

Once the king offered his assistance, Nehemiah knew a door of opportunity had been opened to him. Nehemiah was fully prepared to speak with authority, and share his heart with the king. The Lord had given Nehemiah favor and King Artaxerxes was touched by Nehemiah’s words.

The Lord works the same way today as He did in Nehemiah’s time. He moves on people’s hearts through prayer. God honors a person’s steps of faith as they move forward into the direction He has called them to take. Understand we do not need any new gimmicks in the Church or in our lives to do the work of God.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD,
Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
~Proverbs 21:1~

SUNDAY March 5, 2017

Open Doors of Opportunity

Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid, and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”

Nehemiah 2:2-3

Ever since Nehemiah had heard what had happened in Jerusalem, he had begun to pray. The walls were broken down, and the enemy was able to come in and destroy, the people of God, at will. Nehemiah’s concern for the people had caused him to pray, this was Nehemiah’s priority in life.

Nehemiah knew he would need huge amounts of money, resources and also man power to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. So, he continued to give himself over to prayer and fasting. He continued to pray for four months and his sadness was seen by the king, it was written all over his face. As a cupbearer to have a saddened countenance in the presence of the king could mean death.

Now, as we look at Nehemiah’s personal life again, we see how God began to answer his prayers. Circumstances around him were changing as the king asked, “Why is your face sad…” Nehemiah replied, “May the king live forever!” He reassured the king there was no conspiracy against his life. God, through prayer, had gone before Nehemiah; he was given an open door to speak to the king. Nehemiah spoke with authority about Jerusalem and the distress of the people.

Notice how Nehemiah had committed all these needs for the city and its people to prayer. He believed in the same philosophy of Calvary Chapel– “Where God guides God provides!” Maybe the reason God has not answered our prayers, and given us open doors of opportunity, is that we have failed to make prayer a continuous priority.

We dare not limit God in our asking, nor in His answering.
~John Blanchard~

SATURDAY March 4, 2017

Are You a Risk Taker?

And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.

Nehemiah 2:1

Nehemiah, during the month of Nissan––the first month of the Jewish year, stood before King Artaxerxes with a sad countenance, he had placed himself in serious danger. When the king observed Nehemiah’s face and saw how sad he had become, he could have thought something was wrong. The king may have thought, why is Nehemiah not smiling–––could there be a plot? Despite the imminent danger Nehemiah trusted the Lord’s direction to do His work. Nehemiah was a man of faith; he believed in God and took the risk.

Joshua and Caleb were both risk takers. Following the command of Moses, they went to spy out the land of Canaan with ten other leaders. Even though the land was very fruitful, ten men came back with a fearful report. Giants were in the land and they felt like grasshoppers before them (Numbers 13:26-28; 31-33). God had promised the children of Israel the land (Exodus 3:17), and Joshua and Caleb trusted by faith, God’s promise. They gave a report that encouraged God’s people:

“The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

What kind of leader are you? Are you a risk taker––someone full of faith, which has fully placed their trust in the Lord?

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him.
~Hebrews 11:6~

FRIDAY March 3, 2017

Send Me

“O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah, in his petition asked God for specific help. He needed God to bless his endeavors. Nehemiah prayed for the king’s heart to be turned favorably towards him as the king’s cup bearer and that he would be granted provision from the heathen king. What was Nehemiah ready to do? Nehemiah was willing to step out by faith, trusting God for His mercy, and that the Lord would prosper and provide for all of his needs.

Notice Nehemiah was not praying alone. He mentioned there was a remnant of people, who feared God’s name, also praying to the Lord for Israel’s spiritual restoration. According to Nehemiah 2:1, Nehemiah stayed silent for about three or four months. Nisan is the first month of the Jewish calendar, in the spring, which coincides with March and April.

Nehemiah’s humble prayer closed with an expression of confidence. He would wait on God’s perfect timing to bless him. Nehemiah, was neither sad nor depressed, he kept the joy and peace of God in his life while he waited. He was a straight shooter––an honest and forthright person who showed himself faithful in the small things. Now God would give him the greater things––an incredible mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

What about you and me, have we been faithful in the little things? Jesus after teaching a parable taught this important truth:

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities (Luke 16:10 NLT).

When we have been faithful in the little things, only then can God entrust us with His greater projects.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
~Isaiah 6:8~

WEDNESDAY March 1, 2017

Return to Me

“Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’”

Nehemiah 1:8-9

After worship and confession Nehemiah’s prayer turned into a time of humble petition. Nehemiah reminded the Lord of His words He spoke through Moses in Deuteronomy 4:27: And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. Also in Leviticus 26:33 and Deuteronomy 28:64-68, God had given them fair warning of the consequences of their disobedience.

Israel’s long list of blessings was conditional (Deuteronomy 28:3-14), they were contingent on their total obedience to God’s Word. The Lord had also warned them of the curses that would come upon them if they chose to disobey Him (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). So now once again, we understand clearly that the terrible circumstances they were experiencing were due to their disobedience. What God warned was exactly what He said would happen. Nehemiah, in his prayer, reminded the Lord of His promise given to His people to gather them and return them to their land:

Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." Ezekiel 11:17

Notice, God never intended to cast His people away. He promised them restoration. If you are in a backslidden state, know that the Lord loves you and desires that your life be fully restored. Why not return to the Lord today?

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.
~Zechariah 1:3~

TUESDAY February 28, 2017

Pray to Make a Difference

We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.

Nehemiah 1:7

As Nehemiah continued his prayer; he honestly acknowledged Israel’s sins and placed himself with the people’s offenses. Had Nehemiah acted corruptly? No––of course not, but in his petition he identified with the people and never placed himself above the people. Nehemiah, as an intercessor stood in the gap for Israel. God would answer Nehemiah’s petition and do a great work––amazing.

First, Nehemiah had praised God’s awesomeness and greatness. Second, he understood why the children of Israel were in such a terrible state and confessed: …we have sinned (Nehemiah 1:6). Many things Moses had instructed them from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, had been disobeyed.

God help us to learn from Nehemiah’s sincere and penitent prayer. We too can become a man or woman, who through prayer can make a big difference in the lives of so many other people. Seriously, when we hear of difficult situations in people’s lives, we would pray and petition the Lord on their behalf. As we continue to intercede, we must wait on the Lord to answer, knowing that He will direct us in a plan of action to assist them.

When should we pray and intercede for situations and other people?

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us: pray without ceasing––which means to pray incessantly without intermission. In doing so you will need to find a time and place where there is absolutely no interruption. Why not make a determined commitment to pray unceasingly, at a specific time and set place each day?

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.
~ Corrie Ten Boom~

MONDAY February 27, 2017

Entering into Confession

And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.”

Nehemiah 1:5-6

We can learn so much from Nehemiah as he was a man of prayer. He began his prayer with worship as he acknowledged the greatness of God and not the greatness of himself––so important. Then Nehemiah entered into a time of confession before the Lord. He prepared his heart as he humbled himself before God and confessed Israel’s sins.

In Nehemiah’s prayer, it is clear that he understood God’s covenant and mercy. He acknowledged that through disobedience God’s people had broken His agreement. Nehemiah placed himself, with the people, when he confessed Israel’s sins; which was exactly how Daniel prayed (Daniel 9:3-5). It is so beautiful how this prayer developed in the mind and the heart of Nehemiah. He had entered into a continual time of prayerful confession day and night as he waited on God to answer his prayer.

In Nehemiah’s contrite confession, we see another important fundamental truth––the only person that can truly worship God is a person who is obedient to the Lord. The Samaritan woman, even though she had religious knowledge, needed to be a true seeker of God. Jesus directed her into the place of true worship; God must be worshipped in spirit and truth. She needed to deal with the issues of sin in her life (John 4:23-24).

Consider your own life––it is important to get your heart right with God through humility, and honest confession. Then learn to be persistent in your prayers until God answers.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,
and it shall be opened unto you.
~Matthew 7:7-8~

SUNDAY February 26, 2017

Resting, Weeping, Mourning and Fasting

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4

Before Nehemiah did anything about the situation in Jerusalem he first went to the Lord. Nehemiah was a spiritual man; he sat down before the Lord, not because he was depressed but because spiritually-speaking, sitting––is a position of resting in the Lord. Nehemiah knew God would do the work through him. Second, he wept before God for the people. Nehemiah was a man of tears.

Nehemiah reminds me of the Apostle Paul, who prayed and wept for three different types of people. Paul’s tears were for the carnal person, the non-believer and for the false teachers. Third, Nehemiah mourned––he lamented. Fourth, Nehemiah fasts––he abstained from eating food. He realized that if this work of God was to be accomplished, he had to be stripped of self, there was to be nothing of himself.

Notice the different steps of spirituality as Nehemiah sought God’s perfect will. He prepared his heart completely before the Lord. Why? Nehemiah, as he poured out his heart and soul before the Lord, wanted to enter into a time of unhindered communication with God––to be an open channel to the Lord. Nehemiah was able to express his heart and petition honestly.

We can learn from Nehemiah, how to pray to the Lord. When was the last time you sat down before the Lord to weep, mourn, fast and pray out of a sincere love for a person? There are those who are no longer involved in the ministry. It should break our hearts to see their spiritual gifts and talents, wasted. We should desire to see them accomplish a work for the Lord. Weeping comes when you genuinely care about the work of God and restoration of those who have strayed away from the Lord.

Fasting is the voluntary denial of a normal function
for the sake of intense spiritual activity.
~Richard Foster~

SATURDAY February 25, 2017

Undertaking the Work of God

“The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:3

Imagine, in starting the work of God, Nehemiah took on a big undertaking. He would have to count the cost of being a leader. After he had heard Jerusalem was broken down, and its gates were burned with fire, he was willing to lead the people––they could not grow spiritually on their own. God had chosen Nehemiah, just as He had chosen other leaders in Israel’s past history, men such as––Jeremiah and Isaiah.

When God chooses leaders it is not so they can “Lord” over the people. A leader’s main objective is to guide others to the cross. This is where they will learn to grow and mature. Ministry can be very tiresome––every single day, you have to study, teach and sometimes travel. When the weather is beautiful and there is an opportunity to go to the beach often you have to deny yourself to study. In ministry you have to count the cost––that is the heart of a shepherd, even though exhausting––I love it.

When people come in for counseling there is a major problem. It soon becomes obvious that their house––the walls of their spiritual life are broken down. Why? They do not read their Bibles, pray or fellowship with other Christians. It does not matter what the sin issues are because their situations can all boil down to those three areas of their spiritual life.

If you are in church, listening to God’s Word and fellowshipping with other believers then you will remain, accountable. The Word of God will convict you of sin and as you pray your life is realigned with the Lord. If you are not doing those three important things, then what has replaced them? Who are you now fellowshipping with? Are those friendships pulling you away from Christ? Or are they leading you to the power of the cross––that is important. In rebuilding the walls of your life––God has to be first.

The cross is the resting place for sin, the tomb for self
and the throne for our fears.
~Harold St. John~

FRIDAY February 24, 2017

The Call of God

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4

There is something in the book of Nehemiah for every Christian. God desires to use each and every one of us. Understand, people in ministry are no different than the common folks––God is not a respecter of persons. Ministry is a call of God and it is a great responsibility but I believe with all my heart, everything that we do in life is a call of God. A call of God can fall under your profession: a lawyer, doctor, mechanic, dentist, blue collar worker or whatever it may be––everyone has a call.

An occupation not only provides for the needs of your family, but it isa place where God has called you to be a major influence. If you are an employer you have to oversee and take care of your employees. So, seek to please God in whatever place He has you––it is a great responsibility. The Apostle Paul, in biblical times, addressed both the employer and employee. He gave them a good standard of Christian work ethics to live by (Ephesians 6:5-9); the key is to do …the will of God from the heart.

God is unique in that He calls those who, in the eyes of others, may not be that special or who they may consider weak, but God values everyone and uses the weak and insignificant:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty… (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

Can you comprehend the obvious reason why? So God gets the glory.

…that no flesh should glory in His presence.
~1 Corinthians 1:29~

THURSDAY February 23, 2017

Got Vision?

And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:3

Nehemiah––had a true vision from the Lord. Once he had heard the report from his brother of the people’s distress, and the terrible condition of the city, from that point on, he began to discern what God had called him to do. Nehemiah’s task was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem––how was this to be accomplished? God began to mold and shape the vision of Nehemiah and gave him a master plan of action. Nehemiah started to set the vision in motion with prayer.

In your own personal life you may have questioned, “How do I receive a vision–– a specific work from the Lord?” As in the life of Nehemiah, God has to speak to you––a specific ministry comes from Him. Once you have a vision for a task, then you will need a plan of action. How are you going to accomplish what God has called you to do? Completion of any vision must be planned and strategized, it just does not happen overnight.

In your master plan to do God’s work, you have to count the cost. If you were to build a house, you would have to research to see how much it would cost to accomplish the task. How are you going to accumulate the needed resources and building materials? Are you prepared to overcome the problems and the situations that will happen?

Make sure you know exactly what God has called you to complete; then fulfill the ministry He has given to you. Remember, God chooses a unique man or woman, to be in the right place at the right time––it is not by coincidence that you are in a certain area for His master plan. If you have a vision and are called to fulfill a task in God’s kingdom, then Jesus Christ must be the foundation of that work. Otherwise you have no vision.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
~1 Corinthians 3:11~

WEDNESDAY February 22, 2017

George Washington’s Birthday

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits,the God of our salvation! Selah

Psalm 68:19

Psalm 68 is a song of praise to the God of Israel. His people acknowledged and expressed their gratitude to the Lord who provided, protected and in His divine providence led them. He was their God and they were His people (Deuteronomy 14:2). The Jewish nation was to be a spiritual light to the surrounding nations. God in His love and providence provided a way for all nations to come to know of His salvation: I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).

Christianity began with Christ: …the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The Gentiles––heathen nations, were shown the grace of God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ––amazing! Through receiving salvation, they became grafted into a Jewish lineage (Romans 11:11, 17). The Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom and Christianity spread. America became founded upon Christian principles and our first President––one of the Founding Fathers, George Washington was a Christian.

The United States has been blessed by the Lord. We need to continue to acknowledge the Lord for His provision, protection and His divine providence in leading this nation. We must never forget that He is the God of our salvation. Seriously, we also need to be diligent as parents and grandparents to pass down to our children and our grandchildren the knowledge of God, His infinite character and His ways to them. Why? Sadly, the knowledge of God is no longer taught in our schools––can you believe that?

What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ. It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favors.
~George Washington~

TUESDAY February 21, 2017

In the City of Our God

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God,in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge.

Psalm 48:1-2

If you want to get the full picture of the beloved city of Jerusalem, there are psalms that are very descriptive and expressive of not only the city’s beauty but its devastation. In Psalm 48:12-13 the beauty of the city was encouraged to be viewed; what was seen was so magnificent that its glorious description should be passed down to the next generation:

Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following.

Imagine the glory of the temple in the time of Solomon. The smoke you could see from the temple mount as the sacrifices were made and the beautiful Shekinah glory as the Lord came to that place––amazing. But in Psalm 79 we see the opposite depiction of the city’s full destruction:

O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps. The dead bodies of Your servants They have given as food for the birds of the heavens…Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to those who are around us.

People reflect on past glories–– but they are not doing anything currently. What is God doing in your life today? Has the enemy laid waste to your life and you find yourself in need of restoration?

O LORD God, invincible warrior, restore us! Smile on us!
Then we will be delivered!
(Psalm 80:19 NET Bible)

MONDAY February 20, 2017

Survivors in Great Distress

And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:3

The people of God were greatly distressed. Even though they lived in the city of Jerusalem, they were not right spiritually and the city remained wasted. Nehemiah was used like a type of the Holy Spirit. He came to assist and help rebuild the peoples’ lives. First, we see there was a remnant in Jerusalem ––about fifty thousand Jews had returned to the city––a relatively small number. Second, we see the ruin––the city was such a mess. Third, the people suffered reproach, their condition was one of constant shame and disgrace––they were despised by their enemies.

Before the people were taken captive they were farmers but in Babylon they had become infected by the world system. They became excellent business people and lived comfortably with all their wealth. God wanted to restore the place of worship in Jerusalem but as they returned to their homeland, their priorities were messed up. As they sowed and reaped from the land, they became more concerned about making money.

Remember, through the prophet Haggai, God reminded His people to consider their ways––the Lord allowed their money to blow away as if a hole was in the bottom of their money bags. They needed to realize that from sun up to sundown they were not gaining ground financially. Then God used Zerubbabel to stir the people to rebuild the temple and Ezra to bring spiritual reform. Now God would use Nehemiah to rebuild the wall.

Life can be hard––many people are in great distress. They try to survive, often living from pay-check to pay-check. But it is good to examine our lives to see if spiritually our priorities are on track. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts, comforts and assists us in rebuilding our lives.

It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince,
and then to comfort.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY February 19, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events

…and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:2

According to biblical prophecy, Jerusalem was a very important capital. The Babylonians made three sieges against Jerusalem, and then took God’s people into captivity. Seventy years of judgment was determined against Israel. These series of unfortunate events, take us back to Deuteronomy 28-30, where we find the reason for these seventy years and why they needed to be fulfilled.

God’s chastisement also came because God’s people failed to keep the Sabbath years––their hearts were greedy. The people were to work the land six years, and then on the seventh year, they were to let the land rest. In doing so, the land would not be over worked and the poor could eat (Exodus 23:10-11). Over a four hundred and ninety year period they had not kept seventy of the Sabbath years. They had also worshipped other gods––which God had warned them not to do (Judges 2:11-15). Due to their direct disobedience they went into captivity for seventy years.

God had warned both the Southern and Northern Kingdoms of Israel but they did not listen. In 722 B.C. the Northern Kingdom first went into captivity; and then two hundred and twenty years later, the Southern Kingdom also went into captivity. Now, both Jerusalem and the Jews were desolate. There was no place for their feasts, and their enemies went in and out because they had no walls of protection. The people had to come to a place where they understood they had sinned against God.

This whole scenario gives to us a picture of the life of a person who has left their God. You see, their spiritual walls are broken down and they are left unprotected before the enemy. It is important to understand that we must first acknowledge and confess our sins, before God can rebuild our lives. Only then can He wash and cleanse us from sin and do a brand new work.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
~1 John 1:9~

SATURDAY February 18, 2017

A Sincere Inquiry

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

In order to understand the book of Nehemiah, you must read the books of––Ezra, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. These books go hand in hand with Nehemiah’s book. They help us see the whole picture of what happened in God’s master plan. As we return back to the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah, we see that Nehemiah was in Shushan, the citadel–– the capital city of Persia.

The book starts in the month of Chislev––which corresponds with November and December, in the twentieth year, during 445 B.C. which is a very important date. Why? The date aligns itself with April 6, 32 A.D. in the book of Daniel. This period begins the four hundred and ninety years that God spoke about. Chronologically, everything has to do with the seventy week of Daniel; along with the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. Understand that Nehemiah is not just another book; it ties up everything in the Old Testament and the New Testament prophetically.

Hanani, enters the city, with other men of Judah. It is believed that he was Nehemiah’s actual brother. Notice Nehemiah’s sincere inquiry, he wanted to hear about the city of Jerusalem and how his brethren were doing. He wanted to be informed about their welfare. Why? He cared about their lives.

As Christians we should not be so concerned about our own comforts but look to other people’s welfare. When was the last time you made a sincere inquiry about another person to see how they were doing?

Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
~1 Corinthians 10:24~

FRIDAY February 17, 2017

Are You Getting Involved?

“O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah was different than most people because as he heard from his brother of the people’s situation in Jerusalem, he became moved with compassion. As compassion filled his heart he was ready to go––send me. Notice, right then, from the hand of God Nehemiah received His ministry. From that time forward, Nehemiah prayed that God would open the door and move the heart of the King Artaxerxes to send him and provide all he needed (Nehemiah 1:11).

Nehemiah realized the seriousness of the situation, accepted the responsibility and took on the task. He then did four major things, he mourned, wept, fasted and prayed––interesting (Nehemiah 1:4). He became immediately involved in the work of the Lord; ready to fulfill his mission fully and completely.

Do you ever think about believers who are uncommitted today? People just do not want to get involved, but God has called them to be involved with Him in the work of God. How about you? Do you have that sense of responsibility to do what God has called you to fulfill? Have you realized the seriousness of situations around you? Do you have compassion like Jesus when He saw the weary and scattered people? (Matthew 9:36).

Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes and ears to the needs of people and as God speaks to your heart get involved. Do not miss out on what God intended to do with your life. The heart of God––is what we need.

We are fit for the work of God only when we have wept over it, prayed about it, and then we are enabled by Him to tackle the job
that needs to be done.
~Alan Redpath~

THURSDAY February 16, 2017

Let us Build the Wall

“Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”

Nehemiah 2:17

Now, as we leave the short survey of Haggai and return back to the book of Nehemiah, we will see that the main primary motive of Nehemiah, as he returned to Jerusalem, was for God to give to him the capacity of leadership. The whole key was for God to use him as a leader to build the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s journey to Jerusalem was not just to view the city or to make for himself a name. The whole purpose was for God to accomplish His work.

Nehemiah would rebuild the wall so that the people could immediately return back to the priority of worship and they could have safety from their enemies. Nehemiah sincerely cared about the people and had a burden from the Lord to begin and finish the task of rebuilding the city’s wall.

Jerusalem was an important place for the Jews––it was a place where God met His people. In captivity, as they experienced deep sorrow in their remembrance of the city, they sung this tearful song:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion… For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song… “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? …If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy (Psalm 137:1-6).

Earlier, Daniel, in Babylon opened his window; faced Jerusalem and prayed three times a day. Both Daniel and Nehemiah had their priorities right before the Lord. Once again, is God the first priority in your life?

[Daniel] in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
~Daniel 6:10~

WEDNESDAY February 15, 2017

The Cost of Living

“Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:10

Imagine, everything the Lord did was to get His people’s full attention. He withheld the rain and all the earths plenteous produce. God was the One who brought the drought, famine and their bankruptcies. Why? The temple of the Lord was in ruins and they had not prioritized their lives.

If you are experiencing problems in your life it may be that God is trying to get your attention as if to say, look up, keep your eyes on Me and worship Me––God desires to establish His priorities in the life of the believer. We often get ourselves in trouble when we take our eyes off the Lord.

In the future Tribulation period, there will be the same kind of anguish and problems that the Jewish people were having, at this time in the book of Haggai. Christians will be taken in the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), but those left behind have not seen anything yet––they will begin to feel the rising costs of living. Financially things will continue to get out of control just as God said it would happen.

There has to be a world-wide financial catastrophe that will give way to the Antichrist, and the establishment of the one world government. The Antichrist will manipulate and control the world. The reason God brings the Tribulation period is so people will look up and worship God. But He will continue His work through the Jewish people and those who will be saved during the Tribulation period (Revelation 6-19).

Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
~Revelation 6:6~

TUESDAY February 14, 2017

Valentine’s Day

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

John 15:13

Historically, Valentine’s Day or as some still refer––Saint Valentine’s Day, has its first origins in a historical account of martyrdom. The story is told of a Roman priest named Saint Valentine. The Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius II, banned soldiers from marriage if they had not fulfilled their military duties and persecuted Christians. Valentine assisted them both; he performed marriages against the order of the state and aided Christians.

Valentine was then imprisoned, tortured and beaten. Finally, he stood before the Emperor and refused to renounce his Christian faith. Valentine was beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D. Since then, the Christian Church has set aside February 14, as a day to commemorate Saint Valentine.

However, it was thought that Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet from 14th century England was attributed with modernizing the version of Saint Valentine’s Day to express romantic love. During this medieval period when men treated women with chivalry and courtly love, on Valentine’s Day they gave them love notes and flowers. Valentine’s Day has spread all over the world to become a happy occasion in which love is still expressed by the giving of cards, candy and flowers.

Yet, God has ultimately showed us His divine love through the sacrifice of His own Son––Jesus Christ: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus Christ, for our salvation and forgiveness of sins, died a brutal death. The Romans tortured, mocked and crucified Him. Knowing that Jesus demonstrated His love towards you in such a sacrificial way, what do you think should be your response towards Him?

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
~1 John 4:10~

MONDAY February 13, 2017

Gone With the Wind

“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house…”

Haggai 1:9

God, through the message given to Haggai, gave a clear reason why His people had continually failed to prosper: Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. The priorities of the people of God were all messed up. Now we can see a clearer picture of why everything was such a mess in Jerusalem.

Remember when Nehemiah’s brother came to him with the distressing news? He had told Nehemiah that even though the people had returned from captivity they were not worshipping the Lord, and to make matters worse every day they were being harassed by their enemies––there was absolutely no protection (Nehemiah 1:3).

Now, mark this important phrase in your own Bible––I blew it away.

Consider how much you work, almost all your life and you try to save and place the money away in the bank. But in the end it all blows away and becomes nothing. Understand that when your priorities are not right and your focus is on making money––God blows your finances away! Why? The problem is worship; we are not in tune with the Lord; we place our own interests before the Lord’s.

Also take into consideration that if your priorities are a mess then you will become an open target for the enemy to attack. Why? There is no protection from the enemy without a spiritual life. Again, consider your own life; are you being harassed by the enemy? Then take a look at your spiritual life.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves
through with many sorrows.
~1 Timothy 6:10~

SUNDAY February 12, 2017

Lincoln’s Birthday

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

Psalm 33:12

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He later was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1861. Interestingly––Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to win the presidency over an immensely divided Democratic Party. He won despite only receiving forty percent of the popular votes.

Abraham Lincoln hoped that he would be used by God to bring a divided nation together under one Union, the Constitution and the freedoms for which the people had endured this great civil struggle. On February 21, 1861in his speech to the New Jersey Senate, President Lincoln said:

“…I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.”

Today in America, despite the obvious division from within the Democratic Party, Donald J. Trump, is the 45th President of the United States of America. He will need our prayers to lead this great country. It is important for our children and grandchildren that the Constitution, our country’s freedoms and Christian liberties be upheld. We must never forget that men and women have fought and died to keep our nation free.

Many hope that under the Trump administration, our ties with Israel would be strengthened. They are after all, God’s chosen people and as such, we should bless them with our support, prayers and loyalty.

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
~Genesis 12:3~

SATURDAY February 11, 2017

The Peace of God

…the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet…

Haggai 1:3

What do Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel and Haggai have in common? They all served the Lord with the knowledge that God had spoken to them by His Word or He had placed a burden on their hearts. Each one of them knew exactly what God had called them to do. They had the peace of God as they obeyed Him, despite any opposition. God’s mission––His purposes in their lives became their greatest priority.

Priorities are so important in the life of the believer. Therefore, I have to repeat the same questions that I asked earlier “Are you in the center of God’s will in the place where God wants you to be?” Also, “What task has God called you to accomplish in your lifetime?” One way to know and be sure you are in God’s perfect will is to ask yourself, “Do I have the peace of God?” So simple, I love it. If you do not have any peace given to you by the Lord, then again, examine your life.

It is so important to understand that before you have the peace of God you must receive the grace of God. Notice how the Apostle Paul, in His greeting, addressed the Christians in the church at Corinth: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Why does Paul mention grace before peace? In the New Testament we have received grace through Jesus Christ; we are not under the Law––God’s covenant with His people. God, through Jesus Christ has established a new covenant of grace: For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Do you have God’s grace and peace in your life? If you accept Christ into your life, then you will be given both.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God
and of Jesus our Lord (KJV).
~1 Peter 1:2~

FRIDAY February 10, 2017

A Repetitive Rebuke

“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

Haggai 1:6

Notice, God’s people were working all day long but their bank accounts were empty. The more they spent on themselves the less they had. Imagine that––a bag with holes. Why? God let them know the reason; the whole thing was their priorities. They were neglecting the work of God. The Lord instructed His people in what they should do and then stopped to repeat the same repetitive rebuke:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD (Haggai 1:7-8).

For the Lord to be honored and glorified the people needed to have the right priorities. What about the Church today? Are we, as God’s people placing Him first on the list of our priorities? So many people earn and spend so much money but in the end they say their money is gone. They do not understand where it has all disappeared to. They have money to eat but it is barely enough to cover all the bills. Perhaps in some cases families are spending above their needs? Instead of overspending do we know how to be content?

Seriously, we need to rethink our priorities and place God first even in our finances. Every person needs to consider if they are being obedient in tithing to the Lord. The Lord promises to maintain us (Malachi 3:10). Otherwise, if we choose not to be obedient in our giving, the faster we earn our wages the faster it will disappear.

….for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
~Philippians 4:11~

THURSDAY February 9, 2017

Consider Your Ways!

Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!”

Haggai 1:5

Notice, Haggai does not respond to the people with his words, but he waits on the Lord to speak. God through the prophet asked a legitimate question: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (Haggai 1:3). Do you think it is right for you to have everything you want but neglect the most important thing––that is, My house? Therefore, God called them to consider their ways.

God, through asking this question, desired to align His will with the will of His people. Think about it––they would have to stop and think about the question God had asked them. It gave them the time to think, meditate, concentrate and then they had the opportunity to answer the question. Why did God allow them this time? The Lord had caused them to examine their lives––there was no way of getting around it, they had to.

In Revelation 2:21, God spoke to the Church of Thyatira: And I gave her space to repent… God had given a space of time to repent from sin. God always gave a space for people to repent. I can see that space of time, right here, in this question that God gave to His people in Haggai 1:3.

God’s thought provoking question can apply to us today (Haggai 1:3). Man is always interested more in himself rather than the things of the Lord. We are also called by the Lord to consider our ways. When was the last time you took an honest inventory of your life? As you examine yourself, see if you have been neglectful in your relationship with the Lord. Meditate and concentrate on Isaiah 55:8-9. God has given us a space of time to repent of any ways that are contrary to His Word.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts
than your thoughts.
~Isaiah 55:8-9~

WEDNESDAY February 8, 2017

Sending a Wake-up Call

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

Haggai 1:3

God sent Haggai to give a wake-up call to His people. Why? They could not see that their priorities were distorted. All that mattered to them was their money, wives, children, and the comfort found in their beautiful paneled houses. All those earthly comforts blinded them from what mattered most, the place of greatest importance––God’s house, which lay in ruins. Once set free from captivity the people were to build their temple, a place of worship but it was neglected and totally torn down.

When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, He taught His disciples to have the right priorities. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Notice, that in context, Jesus had basically given the exact message as Haggai. Jesus spoke about not being anxious for food, clothes and all their earthly necessities in life.

Then the Lord focused the disciple’s attention on what should always be their first and right priority––God’s kingdom and true worship. Jesus taught the woman by the well that: God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

It is so important that we understand this concept of worship. Our lives are not to be spent with the main priority of building our own kingdom but building God’s kingdom. How can we be the people of God’s kingdom when we do not make the time to worship our King? Check your priorities by answering this question: “Where do you prefer to be every Sunday morning, in God’s house to worship the King? Or do you prefer to remain in the comfort of your own home?” Understandably some people have to work, but if not, your answer should tell you where your true priorities lie.

Let us go into His tabernacle;
let us worship at His footstool.
~Psalm 132:7~

TUESDAY February 7, 2017

Called to Worship God

…I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.

Daniel 9:16-17

In Daniel 9:16-17, once again, we find the main reason why God allowed His people to be taken into captivity. The consequences of their sin had caused them to be so far away from Jerusalem–– their center to worship their God. How they must have wept and cried, they could no longer meet with God in the temple. The whole situation was centered on the worship of God. Now, Daniel earnestly prayed to the Lord and said:

We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land (Daniel 9:5)

Notice how Daniel identified with the people’s sins and included himself; as he confessed the people’s sins. Daniel continued his prayer to the Lord. He asked the Lord to forgive and have mercy towards the city of Jerusalem and its people (Daniel 9:6-19).

Incredibly, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells Christians where God dwells in their lives: do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? When you put this truth into perspective, examine the walls of your own life. Is your temple in total collapse, desolate and in desperate need of repair?

…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.
~1 Peter 2:5~

MONDAY February 6, 2017

A Rebuke to Carnal People

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

Haggai 1:3-4

In the first return from captivity about fifty thousand reentered the land; but notice how easy it was for them to return back to their same routine and forget God. Those wealthy among the people were living in their beautiful paneled houses. This became more of a priority to them, than the urgency to build God’s house. The people had become selfish, and when that happened the rich got richer and the poor became poorer.

Imagine, as they resettled in Jerusalem, they quickly forgot the hardships they had suffered as a captive in Babylon. Those that had plenty of food and prospered chose to forget about their God. The Lord had already warned them about the loss of this first priority once they prospered (Deuteronomy 8:11-20). Amazingly––Haggai, at this time in history, became the man of the hour who God had called upon to proclaim a strong rebuke to His people.

How many times do we see people who do not want to rebuild their lives in the Lord? They have become carnal people, living for their own benefit as they yield to their fleshly desires. These people have become like the Corinthians, who were carnal and not spiritual. The Apostle Paul needed to rebuke them. He hoped that his epistles to the Corinthian Church would cause them to repent of their carnality (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

It is important to know that if you choose a life of carnality you will be wiped out––spiritually speaking. I urge you to read over Paul’s two epistles written to the Corinthians. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any carnality. Then begin to rebuild your lives according to God’s Word.

For to be carnally minded is death,
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
~Romans 8:6~

SUNDAY February 5, 2017

Are You A Team Player?

In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’”

Haggai 1:1-2

The book of Haggai takes us back to the first return of the people from captivity. We can learn so much from what the prophet Haggai has to say even though the book has only two chapters. Within the first verse, the prophet Haggai gave to us the background dates of when God began to fulfill this prophecy. Previously, I had mentioned that this book is all about priorities and how God’s people did not have their priorities in order.

The Lord heard what the people had said and spoke to His prophet: “This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.’” God’s people gave themselves an excuse for not building God’s house. They were completely disobedient to what the Lord had originally called them to do once they were back in the land––build the temple of the Lord.

Notice, how each of the men mentioned in Haggai 1:1-2 were called of God to play a big part in the work of the Lord. God had aligned these key people to create a dedicated team together. Each person had a specific task. God’s prophet received a message from the Lord and communicated it to the people; the priest encouraged the people in their giving to the work of rebuilding, and the governor established the political policies for the people. God set a chain of command to accomplish everything He intended to do for Israel.

Can you be counted on to be a good team player as you join with other men and women called by God to build His kingdom?

Winning teams have players who make things happen.
~John C. Maxwell~

SATURDAY February 4, 2017

Aligned with God’s Purposes

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

This was the third time the children of Israel had returned back from captivity and resituated themselves in Jerusalem. In the book of Ezra we read how they began to rebuild the temple and fortify the city. But even then, the people were still not completely in submission to the will of God.

However, Nehemiah like Ezra was a man in complete submission to the will of God. He immediately and quickly aligned himself with the Lord’s purposes––he did not waste any time. Even though Nehemiah had not been to Jerusalem to see with his own eyes the situation in the city, he knew God had called him to the task of rebuilding the city’s walls.

When we do not align ourselves with God’s purposes nothing will get accomplished. This is never God’s fault; any failure is due to a man’s disobedience, by not aligning themselves with the Lord’s purposes. Yet, God never loses out––we lose out on what God had intended to do through our lives. God always finds another man or a woman to use. He will wait until that person becomes obedient to His call.

I often remind people about the elderly sitting in rest homes today. They know God, but in their minds they struggle with the knowledge, that they never accomplished the purposes of God. Think about yourselves, if that was you, when you get old, just sitting in a rest home. What if you did not accomplish what God had called you to do? Sadly, you will suffer a lot of guilt and regret, knowing God could have tremendously blessed you as He used your life. Why not align yourself with the purposes of God today?

I delight to do Your will, O my God,
and Your law is within my heart.
~Psalm 40:8~

FRIDAY February 3, 2017

A Man with Priorities

…that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:1-3

Nehemiah was born in Persia he had never been to Jerusalem. His own brother, as an eye witness, told Nehemiah what had happened to the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem when they returned from captivity. He gave Nehemiah such a distressing report—details of everything the Jewish people were experiencing. Nehemiah, from that time forward became a man with priorities. He was a man with a mission, aligned with God’s plans in this particular place and period of history.

Nehemiah’s character is very important to study because we must relate what we have learned to our own lives practically. In fact, there is a very important and practical question for each of us to answer, “What has God called you to accomplished and fulfill in your life time?” Once we have become born again (John 3), we become a part of God’s kingdom. God calls each of us to accomplish a task in ministry for a specific purpose.

This is why it is important to understand the significance of being a man or a woman with priorities. Without priorities in your life you will never accomplish your God-given mission. While there is still opportunity you should align yourself with God’s schedule. I have spoken to people in rest homes who live with the constant regret because they did not accomplish what God has called them to do. Do not miss out on what God intends for your life––He desires to use and bless each and every one of us.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
~Matthew 6:33~

THURSDAY February 2, 2017

Ready for the Rapture?

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

We have now completed a thorough, historical background study of the book of Nehemiah. We began in the book of Exodus, when Israel made an exodus from Egypt, until to the rebuilding of the walls, in the book of Nehemiah. Then we continued our study through to the book of Malachi and reached the four hundred years of silence. We carried on into the book of Matthew and reviewed the genealogies that weaved throughout biblical history up until the birth of Christ.

Now we are returning to the book of Nehemiah; where we find Nehemiah, in the winter palace of Persia, taking care of the king Artaxerxes as his cup bearer. Historically when King Artaxerxes gave the commandment for Nehemiah to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, on March 14, 445 B.C. that event began the development of the whole prophecy of the seventieth week of Daniel.

What is the seventieth week of Daniel? This period of history is the last seven years of earth’s history in the future––the last days. Once the fulfillment of the time of the Gentiles ends (Luke 21:24, 25), and the rapture of the Church happens––these prophetical events lead into the seventieth week of Daniel, also known as the Great Tribulation period. This period begins with a peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27), and the Anti-Christ is revealed (Daniel 11:31). Millions of Jews will be murdered. The rest flee to Petra and the Lord protects them (Matthew 24:15-22; Revelation 12:6). This time period ends with the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). The rapture is the next prophetical event to happen. Are you ready for when the Lord returns for His Church?

…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
~1 Corinthians 15:52~

THURSDAY March 2, 2017

The Redeemed

Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.

Nehemiah 1:10

Israel, at the time of Nehemiah, had forgotten the primary importance of worshipping their God––who had redeemed them. Nehemiah reiterated the sense of belonging; these were God’s people, His purchased possession, who served Him. Nehemiah voiced their miraculous history. God, the great I AM, by His mighty power had rescued them from their cruel bondage in Egypt. Psalm 136:10-15 describes God’s mercy towards His people in His great deliverance of them from Egypt:

To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, for His mercy endures forever; and brought out Israel from among them, …with a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm… to Him who divided the Red Sea in two… and made Israel pass through the midst of it… but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea…

It is very important to remember where the Lord has taken us from and to reflect on what He has done for each of us. Think on your own life before you accepted Christ as your Savior; when you lived a life of sin and bondage. How did the strong and mighty hand of the Lord redeem your life?

I believe with all my heart that we need to take the necessary time to thank the Lord for what He has done. As we live our lives, we need to continue to glorify Him. He has given us spiritual freedom (John 8:36).

Therefore we should not only remember what the Lord has done for us but pray for opportunities to share and tell others of His redeeming work in our lives.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story––those he redeemed
from the hand of the foe.
~Psalm 107:2 NLT~

WEDNESDAY February 1, 2017

Compassion Brings Revival

…hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You.

Nehemiah 1:6

In our introduction to the book of Nehemiah, I had mentioned how Nehemiah cared for the people. It is important to fully understand what transpired through Nehemiah’s heart of compassion. Through his compassion God brought about a revival among His people.

Nehemiah was a man well acquainted with God’s character. Historically He knew how God showed compassion towards His people in their past:

…in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst… (Nehemiah 9:19-20).

Before God starts a new work, he will choose a person who has compassion for people––through this person God can begin the work of a true revival. God will raise up a compassionate man and place a burden on his heart––a call to do a special task in ministry.

God will use a person to build His Church if they are compassionate towards His people. If you really do not care about God’s people or the kingdom of God, He will use somebody else. Is compassion a lacking quality in your Christian character? If so, do an in-depth study of God’s compassion found in the Scriptures. Humbly ask the Lord to give you a heart of compassion. Then God will use you to build His kingdom.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23~

TUESDAY January 31, 2017

The Lord of History

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

Daniel 2:20-21

Malachi prophesied during or shortly after the time of Nehemiah. After Malachi’s prophecy the Old Testament comes to an end. Then begins the four hundred years of silence, where the Lord does not speak to His people through His prophets. During this period the Medes and Persians ruled and governed Israel. After these kingdoms the Grecian king Alexander the Great conquered the world. After his reign the Romans ruled the ancient world for centuries.

It is interesting historically to break down the different years these kingdoms ruled. First we see that Babylonians ruled for seventy years. Secondly the Grecians arose and become conquers for another two hundred years. Thirdly the Medo-Persians ruled and occupied Israel for another two hundred years. Fourthly came the Romans; they ruled for a span of about fifteen hundred years.

The story of the Gospel is incredible; it weaves its way through all these historical kingdoms of the ancient world, into four hundred years of silence. God breaks this silence when He sent the angel Gabriel to speak to Zacharias and Mary. After all these years, God was going to do a new work among His people––the Messiah, Jesus Christ would come.

The New Testament book of Matthew begins with genealogies that lead to the Christ. Interestingly, five women are written in Jesus’ lineage, it shows to us God’s grace and redemption. Historically, Jesus Christ has made it so easy for us to understand the Gospel.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. ~Matthew 1:17~

MONDAY January 30, 2017

Wait on the Lord

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1

While Ezra began to bring reform to God’s people, Nehemiah was still in Persia as a cup bearer in the king’s court. Nehemiah was willing to lay down his life for the king by tasting his food and drink. If anything was poisoned he would be first to die (Nehemiah 1:11). Nehemiah’s position next to the king was a trusted place of preeminence. It gave him much responsibility and authority. He was in a place where he could hear everything that was going on within the kingdom.

Nehemiah, from his own brother, heard a distressing report concerning the Jews in Jerusalem. As I mentioned previously, Nehemiah was a man who cared for the people in distress. What did he do with the information he just received? Nehemiah kept the news to himself. He did not tell anybody of the concerns that troubled his mind and heart. He stripped away self as he fasted, mourned and prayed.

God heard Nehemiah’s prayer and the Lord touched the heart of king Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was able to share his heavy burden with the king. Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah financial aid, his protection and the necessary time to complete the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s life is an amazing story for all of us to learn from how God works in a person’s life. If only we would pray and wait upon God. Then the Lord will accomplish the desires He has placed in our hearts––God will lead you into His perfect plan for your life––amazing, amazing.

Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation;
My God will hear me.
~Micah 7:7~

SUNDAY January 29, 2017

Prepare for Reform

And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Ezra 7:8-10

The Prophet Habakkuk is concerned because he cannot see anything happening in retribution for the sins of God’s people (Habakkuk 1:1-4). God told him that Chaldeans from Babylon (Habakkuk 1:6-11) were going to invade as an instrument of God’s chastisement and fulfill His purposes. Habakkuk went up into the watchtower to see what God was going to do (Habakkuk 2:1).

In Ezra 1-6 the Jewish captives returned to the land of Israel. God then raised up Ezra, a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses to help bring reform to the people (Ezra 7-10). Artaxerxes king of Persia granted Ezra leave. Before setting out to accomplish this great work for the Lord, we see Ezra as a man who first prepared his heart and sought the Lord. The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra, he continued his ministry for about thirty years. He continued his ministry alongside Nehemiah who had arrived to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra relied on the Lord and was able to accomplish God’s will.

Ezra’s character is a good role model for husbands and fathers. Is your home in need of spiritual reform? Men, as the spiritual leaders of their homes must prepare their hearts to seek the Lord. Then God can use husbands and fathers to make spiritual reforms in their own homes. God will enable them to minister to their wives and teach their children God’s Word. Then they can also become great role models for others to follow. When should they begin to reform? Why wait? Like Ezra, just do it!

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for
Me with all your heart.
~Jeremiah 29:13~

SATURDAY January 28, 2017

Business as Usual

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!”

Haggai 1:3-5

Under the authority of King Cyrus of Persia, about fifty thousand Jews returned back into their land. But there was a big problem––their lives became business as usual. Haggai was written to these people and is a book of priorities. The people had forgotten their first priority––God. They had no desire to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Instead their first priority was to rebuild their own beautiful paneled houses. It was obvious that rebuilding the temple was on the bottom of their list. Where was their desire to build a place to meet with God and have true worship?

In Babylon the Jews had become great business people. Making money was their main priority. But it seemed the more they made financially the more it disappeared. It was as if God had placed a hole in the bottom of their money bags—their money just flew away (Haggai 1:6).

America is a very prosperous nation and many people have become successful and gained much wealth. There is nothing wrong with having money but what kind of stewards have we become with our finances? Is our first priority to spend our wealth on ourselves? What about the house of the Lord–our place of worship? Biblically, giving to the Lord is an act of worship and a test of our obedience. Malachi 3:10 prioritizes tithing:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse… try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”

If you are not giving to the Lord consider changing your priorities.

If we would have God open his treasury, we must open ours.
~Thomas V. Moore~

FRIDAY January 27, 2017

A Word to the Wise

O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision…

Daniel 9:22-23

Daniel was a wise man of understanding and in his old age, while he prayed and studied the Scripture passages of Jeremiah, he realized that seventy years of Israel’s captivity was just about over (Daniel 9:1). Incredibly, the next biblical event to happen was for God to release his people. At this time, God’s people were still in captivity under the Persian Empire, as the Babylonian empire had fallen––defeated by Persia.

In biblical history what nations did God use to chasten His people? It was the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian and the Roman Empire. These were the major nations of the world to chastise the people of God. Interestingly, in the last days––end times, God is once again going to use the revived Roman Empire (Daniel 7-8). Everything in Scripture fits perfectly together like a puzzle––it is just a matter of time.

Daniel was steadfast and fervently prayed to God. He interceded for Israel. Daniel not only confessed the people’s sins, but in humility, identified himself with the sins of the people. He understood that because of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to the Lord, they had been scattered near and far throughout the nations (Daniel 9:7-16).

Daniel prayed for God’s forgiveness and waited upon God to answer. The angel Gabriel came and told Daniel what was going to happen in the fulfillment of the seventy–week’s prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27). Already God had in His heart to prepare a man to help His people and rebuild the city of Jerusalem––Nehemiah. God will reveal to you the deep mysteries written in the Scriptures as you become a person of the Word and prayer.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
~Jeremiah 33:3~

THURSDAY January 26, 2017

The Cream of the Crop

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

Daniel 1:1

During the first siege of Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar picked the best from among the Jewish people––the cream of the crop, to take captive for himself to Babylon. He took young men who were wise and intelligent, to train them in the ways of Babylonians and to help prosper his kingdom. Daniel was one of those young men; he may have been thirteen years old at the time of his captivity:

Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:3-4).

During the second siege, King Nebuchadnezzar went into the temple and took all the beautiful cups and utensils. In his final siege, the city of Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the people taken captive for seventy years, but he allowed some of the poor to remain in the city.

Interestingly, as we go back to the book of Deuteronomy 28:64-65, what God said did come to pass. The Lord, at this time, judged His people. God would now use Daniel, his three friends, and the Prophet Ezekiel to speak to His captive people in the kingdom of Babylon.

During this time in history, God is choosing His best to be used in His kingdom for His purposes. Are you ready to be used by the Lord?

…be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master,
prepared for every good work.
~2 Timothy 2:21~

WEDNESDAY January 25, 2017

.

Suffering for Righteousness

Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, shared and begged the people of Israel to listen to the Lord. He had such a miserable time dealing with their rebelliousness. They not only persecuted Jeremiah with their words they imprisoned him in a cistern where he sunk into the mud:

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire (Jeremiah 38:6).

Imagine, as Jeremiah continued his ministry as the prophet to Israel, he questioned the Lord, as if to say, “Why am I here?” The Lord reminded Jeremiah of what he was told from the beginning of his call (Jeremiah 1:6-8), the people would be hostile towards him––it would not be easy.

God called Jeremiah to bring a message of judgment to His people. After he preached the Babylonians came. The Assyrian king Sennacherib conquered Israel and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar made three sieges against Jerusalem within a three year period, conquering the city. King Nebuchadnezzar was used to fulfill God’s judgment on His people.

It is important to understand that when Christians become carnal, fleshly and rebellious they can become a real problem. Believers not walking in the Spirit can offend and hurt other Christians by their actions. Those walking in righteousness can suffer at the hands of those not walking with the Lord as they should. What should a Christian do in such cases?

Seriously, the best thing you can do is pray for them as God will convict them and chasten them if need be. Christians need to speak the truth in love and forgive those who have offended them. (Matthew 18:15; Ephesian 4:15, 32). It is important to keep your eyes on the Lord and not on the people, or you will become stumbled by their bad behavior.

…You follow Me.
~John 21:22~

TUESDAY January 24, 2017

Imminent Judgment

…the LORD has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.”

Isaiah 1:2-3

God continued to show His love and mercy to Israel but the people of the Lord had left their first love. Israel did not want to listen to the Lord; so after one hundred and sixty years had passed––judgment came. The Lord allowed the Assyrians to come upon Israel and through them, God chastened His people.

The Assyrians had the worst reputation in war because they committed brutal atrocities against their captives. They would strip their prisoners to shame them and then separate each person from their families. The Assyrians systematically dismembered their captives, a hand, toe or tongue would be cut off. Hot irons were used to stick into their eyes and up their noses. Other captives were taken and buried up to their mouths or noses, eventually they would slowly suffocate.

Surviving captives had a hole drilled either through their nose, lip or ear and a chain with hooks placed through the hole to drag them off into captivity. Most nations at war with the Assyrians, rather than being taken captive, preferred to commit suicide. During the invasion some of the poor people of Israel remained and intermarried with the Assyrians. These people later became the Samaritans who were treated with contempt as half breeds and hated by the Jews with pure ancestry.

Many believers in the Church today are guilty of not placing the Lord first in their lives. Revelation 2:4 is a written exhortation to the Church of Ephesus. The words of Jesus still exhorts the Church today: nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. If you have strayed from the Lord, why not return to your first love––Jesus Christ and serve Him before His chastening comes?

Remember therefore from where you have fallen;
repent and do the first works…
~Revelation 1:5~

MONDAY January 23, 2017

Heeding the Message

Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”

Jeremiah 18:11

There were many prophets that God used to speak to his people. Among them were Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. At times they would warn God’s people of His coming chastisement if they continued down a path of disobedience. In response the prophets often experienced persecution because of Israel’s outright rebellion. This was Israel’s reply after the prophet Jeremiah gave them a warning from the Lord:

Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.” (Jeremiah 18:18).

When Stephen accurately retold Israel’s rebellious history to the Pharisees––the Jewish religious leaders, their attitude had not changed (Acts 7:1-50). Notice what Stephen tells them, before he was killed, about their treatment of God’s prophets:

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One… (Acts 7:51-52).

When God speaks to you by His Word and convicts you by the Holy Spirit, do you heed His warnings? Do not have the same reaction as the men Jeremiah warned or the Pharisees that stoned Stephen (Acts 7:54).

… we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”
~Jeremiah 18:12~

SUNDAY January 22, 2017

Given Fair Warning

Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples… and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.

Deuteronomy 28:64-65

Moses was a prophet to the people of God; he led the Children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt towards the Promised Land. But because of Israel’s disobedience and lack of faith, a journey of a few weeks turned into forty years of wandering in a great and dreadful wilderness. After that time, another opportunity came to enter the Promised Land. Joshua was chosen to be the new leader of the people (Deuteronomy 34:9-10).

God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land but he was given the liberty to look at the land from a distance (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). Moses, before his death, warned Israel, not to fail to observe the law or fear God’s name. Otherwise the Lord would scatter them among the other nations. In a foreign land, they would find themselves spiritually destitute, trapped in servitude to false gods of idolatry. Israel would be without a place to call their own, physically weakened and in emotional anguish.

After Joshua’s leadership ended, Israel was led by judges, then came the period of the kings. God spoke to these kings and Israel through the prophets. The Lord in His kindness, continued to give fair warning to His people through the prophets, before chastening them. They had enough time to repent. In Exodus 34:6 God declared His character:

…the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

Are you testing God’s patience by continuing in a life of sin?

God's love for sinners is very wonderful, but God's patience with
ill-natured saints is a deeper mystery.
~Henry Drummond~

SATURDAY January 21, 2017

Contingent Promises

But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight.

1 Kings 9:6-7

King David’s son Solomon was the wisest man in the Old Testament. He was called to build a house––a temple for the Lord. God had blessed him immensely with wealth and wisdom. He began his reign in great humility, dependent on the Lord who answered his prayerful request:

…see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor…So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days (1 Kings 3:12-14).

Notice, Solomon’s blessings were contingent on his obedience. In his greed he became more interested about his own royal house. Sadly, his heart was turned away from the Lord when he married foreign women––the king had become an apostate (1 Kings 11:4). Ironically, Solomon, although wise became a fool.

Solomon in his lifetime wrote the book of Proverbs, Song of Solomon and towards the end of his life, the book of Ecclesiastes. Despite the adversity God would send because of his disobedience (1 Kings 9:9), Solomon came to one final conclusion: …Fear God and keep His commandments… (Ecclesiastes 12:13). It would be wise not to wait until the end of your life to come to that important conclusion.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
~Proverbs 9:10~

FRIDAY January 20, 2017

For King and Country

I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

Acts 13:22

God has a plan for Israel and it continues despite man’s failure. Notice throughout all the books of the Bible, when man failed the Lord looked for someone else. He raised a man or woman to accomplish His work. In

1 Samuel, God established the work of His kingship. A reign of kings began with King Saul, it continued with David and his son Solomon.

After Solomon’s reign, the kingdom split. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the Southern Kingdom, were ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom of Israel now consisted of ten tribes and was ruled by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). Throughout Israel’s history, different kings governed these kingdoms. Most kings in the Northern Kingdom were evil in the sight of the Lord. But some good kings in the Southern Kingdom feared the Lord and some kings partially served God.

Under the reign of King Josiah, who was only eight years old at the time (2 Chronicles 34:1), Israel was spiritually reformed. King Hezekiah ruled well but then asked the Lord to extend his life. God granted his request and gave King Hezekiah fifteen more years to live. However, I believe the king should have gone home to be with the Lord. Why? During his extended lifetime, he had a son––Manasseh. He was one of the wicked kings in Israel’s history. He even killed his own sons as he worshiped the pagan gods (2 Kings 20:1-6; 21).

As we continue to survey the Old Testament books of the Bible as a historical background to the book of Nehemiah, it is important to see the grace of God extended to Israel and its kings. Even King David and Manasseh repented and God was merciful to them (2 Chronicles 33:12-13; Psalm 51). If you need grace and mercy from the King of kings you only need to repent and ask.

Grace is omnipotence acting redemptively.
~Geoff Thomas~

THURSDAY January 19, 2017

Getting off the Sinful Cycle

Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers…

Judges 2:11

Moses recounts Israel’s history, but then within Deuteronomy 28-30, especially in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Moses presented to Israel the possible blessings of God through obedience and the cursing, as a result of their disobedience. In the book of Judges, we find that the people of Israel were going around in a sinful cycle, as if on a roller coaster ride. Judges 21:2 tells us their mindset: …everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This is the philosophy of the book of Judges.

Yet, God in His faithfulness gave them judges, who led them spiritually and delivered them from their enemies. But when any judge died, Israel fell back into the same repetitive sinful cycle. They stubbornly continued to choose to live sinful lives with no real spiritual change. Judgment came from the Lord because of Israel’s spiritual apostasy and from a lack of obedience.

As we look around our world today we can see a parallel––we see a generation who does not honor God or man. Man without God desires to govern himself, be in control and have his own way. We have a generation who refuses to worship God, willfully rebels, disobeys and has no respect for life. Why? Our children and young adults do not know God’s Word. Parents have failed to teach them God’s principles and morals. Most children do not even know God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Seriously, there is no fear of God today!

Sadly, today’s generation is not experiencing God’s blessings; they are trapped in a terrible cycle of sin, suffering the consequences. What about yourself? Do you need to repent from a life of disobedience? Ask the Lord to help you break your sinful cycle so you can enjoy God’s blessings.

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
~John 13:7~

WEDNESDAY January 18, 2017

People of Apostasy

Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!

Joshua 24:14

In understanding the book of Nehemiah, we must continue to survey the Old Testament. The book of Joshua is where God demonstrates to us through Joshua, a type of Jesus Christ. Joshua was Moses’ servant; Jesus became a Servant to us (Mark 10:45). But also in the book of Joshua we see Jesus as the Commander of the Army of the Lord (Joshua 5). He was with Joshua as he entered into battle in the Promised Land.

Joshua, as a leader to God’s people, established a life of obedience and set a good model and example for them to follow. Joshua, near the end of his life, gave the people a strong charge (Joshua 24:15), they must choose who they were going to serve, the false gods or the Lord. But as one generation passed; another generation came:

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).

The reason for the children of Israel’s apostasy was a lack of knowledge about the Lord. The great grandparents and grandparents faithfully taught the children of Israel the history and works of the Lord. But the parents of the next generation failed. They neglected to do what God told them in Deuteronomy 6-8. The Word of God became so watered down after each generation, until there was nothing left. As a result, the people became ignorant of the Lord and easily fell into apostasy––they abandoned the Lord. This was the reason why Israel came under God’s judgment.

You can recognize if you are slipping into apostasy when you begin to think like that apostate generation.

…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
~Judges 21:25~

TUESDAY January 17, 2017

Complete Biblical Doctrine

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16

When you study biblical history, understand that from the book of Genesis, God began to establish all systems––the government and religious systems. In Exodus, He redeemed a people to Himself. Then in the book of Leviticus, God used the Levites––priests of the Lord to teach the people to worship. In the book of Numbers, God being a God of order, taught the people order, and what He expected of their lives as they journeyed in the wilderness.

Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy in around thirty days, which became a constant, written reminder to God’s people of what the Lord required of them. So literally, the whole doctrine of God in the Old Testament is established in the first five books of the Bible, Genesis––Deuteronomy, called the Pentateuch or the Torah. Both the survey of the Old Testament and New Testament is very important in regards to complete, sound biblical doctrine.

As we come to the New Testament, the four Gospels and the book of Acts; Pentecost comes and fulfills what Jesus taught in the Gospels. James and Peter were not trained theologians like Paul. This is one of the reasons why God saved Paul, to bring a good balance of theology to the New Testament. He wrote fourteen New Testament books to establish the basic biblical foundation of the Church.

I love the Old Testament; there is much life in its content. These books teach us what God intended to do through Jesus Christ our Lord in the New Testament.

The doctrines of the Bible are not isolated but interlaced; and the view of one doctrine must necessarily affect the view taken of another.
~A. A. Hodge~

MONDAY January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered today. He lived his life in accordance with his message. But his message of freedom had a high price––his life. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. He stood on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee when a sniper shot him. He died for what he believed, preached and dreamed could happen when people would accept each other regardless of the color of their skin. His legacy of life and his bold speech, Let Freedom Ring should never be forgotten.

More importantly, the Gospel message, the heavenly hope of eternal life was given to all people (Luke 2:10-11). Christ won the price of our freedom from sin and death. It cost the high price of His blood (1 Peter 1:18-19) shed on the cross. Our spiritual freedom is something that can never be taken for granted. It must be guarded.

As ludicrous as it may seem, many people choose to give up Christ, their freedom from sin and their eternal life over such sins as: an adulterous affair, greed for money or the material things this world can offer. Satan, can use these things to entangle and enslave us once again into sin. The Apostle Paul reasoned with Christians:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death (Romans 6:20)

Why then would you want to lose such a precious freedom found only in Christ? Do you not know how to protect yourself from temptation, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life? Simple, obey the doctrine of God’s Word.

But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
~Romans 6:17-18~

SUNDAY January 15, 2017 The Bloodline of Redemption Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6 The book of Nehemiah establishes biblical history. As you go back and begin to study the thirty nine books of the Old Testament you will find it is incredible. Why? Because you will begin to see and understand how all the different types and shadows of the Old Testament make complete sense in the New Testament, especially in the book of Hebrews. In the Old Testament, the bloodshed from animal sacrifices was a covering of sin. But it was a type, a shadow of things to come when Jesus Christ would die and His blood would take away our sins once and for all. The Apostle Paul explains this truth clearly in Hebrews 10:12-14: But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Since the beginning of creation, you will find the promise of redemption in the book of Genesis, with Adam (Genesis 3:15). Adam’s bloodline weaves its way through many biblical patriarchs: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and King David further onward. Why are theologians interested in this bloodline? Because they, or anyone else studying the Scriptures; can follow this blood line to the Messiah––the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1-17). God’s work of redemption was accomplished by the Messiah. Jesus paid the full purchase price for the forgiveness of our sins––His blood. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. ~Ephesians 1:7~

SATURDAY January 14, 2017

A People Chosen to Worship

Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

Israel’s history has another significant aspect not to be overlooked. God desires to establish a people to worship Him. When King David brought back the ark into the city of Jerusalem, he appointed Levites––the priests of the Lord, to thank and praise God. Levite singers and those who played all kinds of stringed instruments, harps and cymbals of bronze joined together to worship the Lord (1 Chronicles 15:16-22; 16:4-6).

David’s Song of Thanksgiving gives us insight into the importance of worship, especially among the other idolatrous nations:

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples… Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods… (1Chronicles 16:23-25).

It is interesting to see the difference between Ezra, a Jewish priest who instilled back the value and necessity of worshipping the Lord and Nehemiah, who was called to build the walls of Jerusalem. There was no possible way the people could have their time of worship in the temple, without the safety or protection of walls built to surround the city.

It is the same with us; the walls of our lives are spiritual. How can God accomplish His work of worship in our lives if those walls are broken down? There has to be a rebuilding of the walls in our lives––spiritually speaking, so we can lift up our hands to worship the LORD.

Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the LORD.
~Psalm 134:2~

FRIDAY January 13, 2017

Suffering Consequences?

We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations…”

Nehemiah 1:7-8

Incredibly, the more I study the book of Nehemiah; the more gold I discover––those rich spiritual nuggets. The book of Nehemiah not only speaks to my own life personally, but it locks into my mind the history of the Old Testament. These short, thirteen chapters actually build a solid foundation and background into the reasons why God had to judge his people and why the walls of Jerusalem were torn down.

In fact within the history of Israel, there are many twists and turns that can cause people to miss the main point––historically, of what the Bible speaks about from the book of Genesis through to the book of Zechariah. In these books, many people overlook the purpose of the Messiah and they also neglect to see the important references to His birth. It is very easy to get confused; for instance, why was there four hundred years of silence between the book of Malachi and the Gospel of Matthew?

However, it is in the book of Deuteronomy where God’s judgment of Israel is referenced. Moses had already warned the people about the terrible consequences if they chose not to obey God’s Word:

Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known... (Deuteronomy 28:64).

God always knows what is ahead of us and warns us in His Word. If only we would pay attention, then we would avoid suffering the consequences.

Obey God in all things today! Drive out the enemy! Lay the ax to the root of the tree, and the capacity for Jesus Christ will be increased tomorrow.
~Alan Redpath~

THURSDAY January 12, 2017

Jerusalem, Sin City

Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan.

Nehemiah 13:30

As we look at the outline of the thirteen chapters of the book of Nehemiah, we shall see Nehemiah as a man of great concern (Nehemiah 1:1-4). Then we see him as a man of construction; as he began the rebuilding process of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2-3). He was a person who dealt with conflicts (Nehemiah 4-6), and a man who took seriously the consecration of God’s people (Nehemiah 7-12). Lastly, Nehemiah was a man who would cleanse the city and the temple of every pagan sin (Nehemiah 13).

Nehemiah would bring reform into the lives of God’s people. He would not give any room for compromise. Seriously, he did not allow them to bring in anything pagan into the temple. He would even separate them from their pagan wives. At one point he contended with some of the Jews by pulling their hair and striking them in the face (Nehemiah 13:25). Nehemiah would remind the Jews of King Solomon’s sin, when he took for himself pagan women, as wives (Nehemiah 13:26-31).

It is important to cleanse our lives of sin daily (1 John 1:9); then we can begin the process of rebuilding the spiritual walls in our lives. As we have seen the plan of God in Nehemiah’s life, we can ask the Lord, “What do you intend to do with my life?” As you read God’s Word, He will speak to your heart. The Lord will use a man or woman, anointed by the Holy Spirit, with their abilities, gifts and talents to build the kingdom of God.

I hope that this year is the beginning of a changed life, heart and ministry, so that we can all work together in perfect harmony.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
~Philippians 2:1-2~

WEDNESDAY January 11, 2017

Shedding Tears

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4

Nehemiah was a man who wept for the people in Jerusalem. Once he had heard of their terrible distress, the state of the city’s walls, and the gates burned with fire, he set himself apart to pray and fast. He mourned for many days, as he felt a deep grief over his brethren’s sad condition. His tears were shed in complete sincerity and truth.

The Apostle Paul, in Acts 20:19 also wept. There were four types of tears he shed. First, for the non-believer––those who had rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, for those who were carnal––believers who were continually overcome by their fleshly appetites. Third, for false prophets–– teachers who tried to corrupt the simplicity of the Gospel through their false teachings. Fourth, he wept for the Church of Jesus Christ.

Paul, through his godly jealousy selflessly cared for the churches. He spoke of his true commitment as a minister of Jesus Christ. Think about what he went through on behalf of others:

…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often… in journeys often… in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often… besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

What is your commitment to ministry like? Seriously––we need to weep in the presence of God for others. When was the last time you cried over somebody’s spiritual condition?

Jesus wept.
~John11:35~

TUESDAY January 10, 2017

Do You Give a Care?

…Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?

Nehemiah 2:3

Nehemiah was a person who cared for people––it was seen in his countenance. Caring, is very important in the character of a good leader. He not only cared for the present needs of the people before him but the traditions of the past––the biblical principles that were taught by Abraham, Jacob and even Moses. He showed genuine concern over the people’s hopes for the future. He may have asked himself, “What would be the future of the city and its people? Would everything continue after I am gone?”

Nehemiah cared about his ancestral city and his heritage but most importantly he was mindful about bringing glory and honor to his God. Nehemiah revealed his care in different ways. He did not stay silent, he inquired about his brethren, (Nehemiah 1:2). Then he travelled to Jerusalem and felt the people’s hardships himself (Nehemiah 2:11-17). Nehemiah, in his concern for the people, became open to whatever God wanted to do through him. He never became comfortable in the courts of King Artaxerxes and set his face to pray for God’s wisdom for the crisis.

What about us? Sometimes we do not care for others like Nehemiah. Instead of being open to what God has for our lives, we think only of ourselves. It may be time for you to leave the secure, comfortable position you have and do what God desires for your life. Will you commit yourself to prayer and ask God to provide for all the necessities?

Do you care about your Christian heritage? Will you be prepared for the future in prayerfully raising qualified people whom God has anointed––to carry on the vison and work of the Lord for when you have gone?

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.
~Psalm 90:17~

MONDAY January 9, 2017

The Character of a Godly Man

…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Titus 2:7-8

Throughout the book of Nehemiah we find that Nehemiah was a patriotic man (Nehemiah 1:1-4), a prayerful man (Nehemiah 1:5-11), a man of perspective (Nehemiah 2:1-18, 20), and a man of persistence (Nehemiah 4). Nehemiah was also a person of great persuasion (Nehemiah 5), and he proved to be a person who had pure motives (Nehemiah 5:14-19).

When Nehemiah went to spy out the land, with some other men, as they looked at the rubble of the city; God confirmed his vision to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11-14). Nehemiah showed himself to be a man of great perseverance, through every affliction, trial and temptation (Nehemiah 6). As a man of God, he was steadfast and always moved ahead with God’s plans. He never quit because he knew God was on the throne.

It is important to start out in ministry with the right heart motives. Do not be concerned about your own interests or seek to build your own kingdom. Otherwise God may never show you the vision He intended for your life––the Lord always checks our hearts. Even if you do get to see what God wants to do and you get excited about the vison; if you place yourself above others, He will not allow you to be a partaker of the work.

When God calls a person to do a great work for Him they must be obedient, with the right heart. Ask yourself, “Am I a person who is persistent, who perseveres and has pure motives to work for God?”

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the hearts.
~Proverbs 17:3~

SUNDAY January 8, 2017

Facing the Realities of Ministry

…endure hardship...fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:5

The subject and purpose of the book of Nehemiah, is to historically record the Jewish people’s return from captivity, for the third time, and to document the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem. The scope of the book is about twelve to fifteen years. The Lord would begin to build His government among His people. God, in using Nehemiah, would cause a unifying submission of the leadership to restore the city’s stability.

In Nehemiah’s book we also see the opposing enemies of Israel; those who came against the work of God. Despite their hostility and antagonism, the leaders and people of Israel would remain steadfast. They not only had God’s mind they had a mind to work together––in complete harmony. Every person labored with one hand and held a weapon of defense with the other hand (Nehemiah 4:17-18).

First, it is important to understand that in ministry you cannot get away from authority, order or submission––it is inescapable. You must ask yourself, “Do I have a mind to work for God, in unity with the leadership?” That is called being like-minded, with the same vison.

Second, ministry is not doing what we want to do with our lives. When God restores our lives, He gives to us faith, which not only protects us but enables us to have victory over the enemy. Then we are equipped to minister and work for the Lord. God’s servants are called to build people up not to tear them down. Seriously––if we are not rebuilding we are tearing down. Disunity and even slothfulness can slow down the work.

Third, face the realities of ministry––hardships; know that one of the things you are going to face in life is opposition. Especially as you align yourself with the purposes and plans of God––believe me, you cannot escape conflict; it is going to be there all the time, you will have enemies.

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.
~C.S. Lewis~

SATURDAY January 7, 2017

Broken Down Walls

…The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.

Nehemiah 1:3

Notice, Nehemiah, was given a troubling report. The Jewish people were in great distress, completely vulnerable to their enemies, as the walls were broken down and the gates burned with fire. The people were dreadfully oppressed and depressed. There was absolutely no defense for the city and no watchmen to warn the people when their enemies would approach the city’s walls.

At this particular time, the city and its occupants had no order; their enemies just came in and out as they pleased. Yet, the Lord found one man––Nehemiah who would stir up the people; under his leadership, the city would have order restored. He would once again bring peace to God’s people.

Interestingly, Zerubbabel––a priest and scribe, was used of the Lord to help rebuild the temple, to restore the Jews place of worship. Nehemiah’s emphasis was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the temple was built. He would be in charge of replacing the walls of protection around the city.

Under God’s authority and power, these godly men unified the people. They worked hand in hand for the same reason––to bring glory and honor to God in everything they accomplished.

Many times God wants to do a great work but there are those people whose only desire in leadership is to gain power and authority. They resist being under authority. But how can God give them authority and power when they are not obedient to God or submissive to work in unity with others?

To be a man of authority you must be a man under authority.
~Raul Ries~

FRIDAY January 6, 2017

A Leader’s Integrity

As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,and set me before Your face forever.

Psalm 41:12

Nehemiah, as a leader was a man of great integrity. When he took on the responsibility to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; he would become accountable both to God and His people. He was already found trustworthy by King Artaxerxes; he had been placed in a tough position as the king’s cup bearer. Despite his own life being threatened, he acted loyal to the king. Nehemiah faithfully took the first drink from the king’s cup to ensure that his drink was not poisoned.

King Artaxerxes, saw something different in the life of Nehemiah compared with other men. He saw a man of quality––he stood out as a man of great character. The king held Nehemiah in high esteem as a man of integrity. Some theologians believe he was not only the king’s faithful servant as a cup bearer but he would have held a high office as the king’s advisor and trusted confident.

It is very important that people see you as a quality leader––a person under the anointing of the Holy Spirit who is in full submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. Integrity is an essential quality in ministry or any area of your life. Remember people will see you for who you really are as they observe your actions. Are you aware that other people are watching your life?

I believe with all my heart that you have to ask yourself this crucial question, “Can both God and man trust you with great responsibility because they can see you are a man or a woman of great integrity?”

The integrity of the upright will guide them…
~Proverbs 11:3~

THURSDAY January 5, 2017

Receiving Mercy to Rebuild

“The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls,and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you,but in My favor I have had mercy on you.

Isaiah 60:10

Incredibly, we shall see, how the book of Nehemiah fulfils the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah 60:10; and Zechariah 1:12-17 but especially the fulfillment of the building of the walls in Jerusalem according to Daniel 9:25:

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.

Daniel’s words combine the prophetic calendar for the later return of the Messiah—Jesus Christ with the current events to rebuild the walls. After Jerusalem was destroyed and many of its people taken into seventy year captivity in Babylon, God would have mercy on His people and restore the city of Zion. Psalm 102:13-14 tells us:

You [God] will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust.

God would now use Nehemiah to rebuild the walls. The Lord had placed him in the presence of King Artaxerxes, a foreign king who would help in the endeavor. He would even give Nehemiah the permission to oversee the vast project––amazing! Examine your own life; is it time to ask God for His mercy, so He can help rebuild the walls of your life?

Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, that I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation…
~Psalm 106:4-5~

WEDNESDAY January 4, 2017

Called to Intercede

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

Notice, God had found a man in whom He could anoint for ministry. His heart was close to the heart of God and to the people of Jerusalem even though he was so far away. Nehemiah was in Persia, as a cup bearer, under the authority of King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1).

He had never been to Jerusalem but God had spoken to him about the needs of the Jewish people there. Why? Because of the Holy Spirit Who interceded on behalf of those people (Romans 8:26). Concerned for the people, Nehemiah enquired of his brother, about their welfare. He would soon hear a vivid report of the gravity of the situation in the city of Jerusalem and the state of its people.

We shall see that Nehemiah was a man of silence and a man of prayer. He never told anyone what was heavy on his heart; until God impressed on the hearts of others, the needs of the people––that is how God works.

God can make us intercessors like Nehemiah. Imagine, we can be praying for any place in the world––China, Chile, Colombia or Arabia through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we pray before we even speak; we shall learn how God will lead and provide for situations. Will you be committed to intercede for people whom God has placed on your heart, those who are far away in a foreign country?

He [God] saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
~Isaiah 59:16~

TUESDAY January 3, 2017

Nehemiah Introduction

A good name is better than precious ointment…

Ecclesiastes 7:1

Nehemiah had a good name that reflected his leadership abilities. Now, if you lived in this time period and had a Hebrew mindset, you would know his name was very impressive. In Hebrew it literally means comforted of God, which is the similar definition of the Holy Spirit. In the Greek––the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity is the Parakletos––the Comforter, Who comes alongside the believer to comfort and help them; especially when they go through times of trial or persecution (John 14:16-17).

Seriously, Nehemiahs––those who comfort others are needed in the Church today. This is what leaders are supposed to do; they are to bring comfort to the body of Christ. So whether you are a teacher, evangelist, musician, or janitor you want to become a comforter like Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was a lay man and a business man––interesting. As we begin to study the book of Nehemiah, I believe with all my heart that God is going to take us through business school. Why? Because the principles we are going to receive in these thirteen chapters are not secular, they are biblical principles on how to run the church, take care of the people and lead them––so neat.

The book of Nehemiah is about principles in which God’s people can learn great leadership skills. God desires to build men and women of good character to be leaders. As we go through the book of Nehemiah together this year, it would be good to get a journal and see how the Lord will speak to you personally. You can begin by asking yourself this important question, “Do I have a good name in my church and more importantly, outside the church?

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
loving favor rather than silver and gold.
~Proverbs 22:1~

MONDAY January 2, 2017

The Book of Nehemiah

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah…

Nehemiah 1:1

Nehemiah is an autobiography and history of God’s people. It is one of my favorite books; it is essential for leadership and we will discover what God intends to do with our lives. First, we will see how God looks for a man to do His will. Second, when He finds that person He anoints them by His Holy Spirit and gives to them a ministry to fulfill.

Third, it is important to understand that God will also give to that person the ability, gifts and talents to accomplish that call of ministry. We learn from 1 Corinthians 12, that Christ is the head of the body––believers in Christ. Each part of the body is sustained and moved by our Head. The Lord sees the needs in the body of Christ and He will speak to a specific person and place them accordingly.

Then fourth, a Christian has to be pleased where the Lord has placed them within the body of Christ. The reason the Church is so weak, is that people want to do something else other than what God had intended for them. God has not called us to compete with each other. Christians, not content with their own gifts will resist submitting to the Lord. These types of people will create division in the body of Christ and we will never accomplish anything for the kingdom of God.

Finally, a believer needs to step out by faith in obedience to do God’s will. Then the Lord will give to them the wisdom, knowledge, ability and strength to accomplish that work. Are you the kind of man or woman God can use to accomplish His will? If you want to be used by the Lord, you must set yourself apart from the world, to be fully consecrated to Him.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
~Romans 12:1-2~

SUNDAY January 1, 2017

New Year’s Day

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

Acts 2:1-4

A New Year opens with great expectancy as if a new chapter has begun in your life. Perhaps you will pick up a pen and begin to write an introductory, contemplating your goals and desires you wish to be accomplished, over the next twelve months. However, what about getting on your knees to prayerfully ask the Lord what He wants to do with your life this year?

Imagine, what God could do if the body of Christ––individual believers, would seek Him diligently. God has given us gifts and talents to be used for His glory in the body of Christ. Christians must obediently make themselves available to the Lord and willingly take on the tasks He desires for them to do.

If only the Church––believers in Christ, would unite together they could be used to build the kingdom of God––not their own little kingdoms. Then the Lord could send a fresh fire and baptize the body of Christ with the Holy Spirit. As in the book of Acts; the Church would be emboldened to share the Gospel and people would be saved (Acts 2).

God is always looking for men and women He can use. What has the Lord called you to do this New Year? Will you prayerfully seek Him for the wisdom on how you can accomplish the ministry He has given to you?

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those
whose heart is loyal to Him.
~2 Chronicles 16:9~

SATURDAY December 31, 2016

New Year’s Eve

In Him [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…

Ephesians 1:11

Most people celebrating New Year’s Eve do a great deal of reminiscence. Memories from the past twelve months bring to their mind moments they have enjoyed and cherished. While other people may have endured a difficult year and for the most part, they are glad it has finally ended. Whatever has transpired during the former year, may we be thankful for the good times and the bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us: …in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

You may question, “Why should I do that? Can I really give thanks to God for my sufferings this past year?” It is important to understand that God works all things out for good, even the most painful of times in your life. Romans 8:28 gives to us this strong consolation: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

When suffering happens we need to look to the cross––Christ’s death on the cross worked all things together for our good. God’s will meant suffering in the life of Christ but His suffering brought about eternal life for those who would accept Him as their Savior. John 3:16 simply explains: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Through Jesus’ submission to His Father’s will to die on the cross, we have gained an eternal inheritance. God had a plan––our salvation. Trust the Lord and believe that any suffering God has allowed in your life is for a greater plan for good.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

FRIDAY 30 December, 2016

God’s Guidance

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

Matthew 2:19-20

Notice, how God continued to give His guidance to Joseph and Mary; an angel, in a dream, told them it was now safe to return to Israel. Herod who had tried to kill their Son was dead. It is amazing to see the hand of the Lord direct their lives. We can reflect back and see how God’s guidance influenced them. The Lord chose Mary to conceive the Son of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).

In God’s perfect timing; Elizabeth had been barren but was now six months pregnant. Mary journeyed to see her aged cousin, and stayed there for three months (Luke 1:39-40; 56). Meanwhile the Lord had spoken to Joseph in a dream, not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

In God’s sovereignty a world-wide census was taken, Mary, even though great with Child, had to take a difficult journey with her husband to be registered in the City of David––Bethlehem. There was no room in the inn, Christ was born in a lowly stable and laid in a manger for his bed (Luke 2:1-7).

Even when Herod was determined to see the young Child killed. God’s guidance kept them safe. The Lord directed Joseph to escape to Egypt. Later, Joseph, guided by the Lord returned to Israel. Once again, Joseph heeded yet another dream given to him by the Lord and turned to the region of Galilee. They all settled in the city of Nazareth (Luke 2:22-23).

Each step of the way Scripture was being fulfilled, the events fit together like a perfect puzzle––amazing! Now, do you trust God to guide your life?

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye
~Psalm 32:8~

THURSDAY 29 December, 2016

Refusing Comfort

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:17-18

Herod, the King of Judea was greatly troubled when he heard the news of a new King born in the region he ruled. His reign would not be shared with another. Secretly, he had inquired as to the time the star appeared to the wise men. Herod asked them to bring back word when they found the Child. Why? He supposedly wanted to worship Him (Matthew 2:3-7). But he was incredibly insincere and blatantly lied about his motives.

Herod had murder in his heart and worship was so far from the truth. All he wanted was to destroy the young Child. God warned the wise men and they did not revisit Herod but returned to their own country another way (Matthew 2:12). Joseph was warned by an angel of the Lord in a dream to take Jesus and his mother Mary to flee into Egypt (Luke 2:13-14).

Herod, in fury and anger at the wise men not returning to him, devised an evil plan to insure the destruction of the young Messiah. He would exterminate the One––named King of the Jews. He determined the possible age of the Child from the wise men. Then he ordered the horrific slaughter of all the male children from the age of two years old and under in Bethlehem, including the surrounding districts (Matthew 2:16).

We live in a world opposed to Christ. The Bible tells us that man’s heart is desperately wicked (Jeramiah 17:9). Even today, innocent people suffer horrible atrocities because of those who are evil. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one due to acts of violence can be hard to console. Only God can soothe their grief. He is the God of all comfort.

"Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us…”
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4~

WEDNESDAY 28 December, 2016

Come to Worship Christ?

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

Wise men––Magi from the East often traveled in a large caravan of people for security. These wise men studied the stars using the natural science of astronomy. They had seen a sign––the star of a King and had followed its path into Judea. Once there they began to inquire among the people: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”

Why had they traveled so far? What was the purpose of their long journey? With all sincerity, these men had come to worship the newly born King. The star had gone before them and stood right over the place where the young Child was. Their long journey was rewarded; when they came into the house and found Jesus with Mary His mother.

Immediately these wise men fell down and worshipped Jesus. In an act of obeisance they brought precious gifts for the King, gold––represented His deity, frankincense a most exquisite fragrance, and incredibly expensive myrrh, both related to His coming death (Luke 2:9-11).

Jesus is worthy of our worship. He is our King, should we not adore Him? Psalm 95:6 tells us: Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. During Christmas many people will reflect on the birth of Christ and attend church but is their worship sincere? Is their yearly attendance more of a family tradition?

It is important to understand that only those who know who Christ as their Savior and King can truly come to worship Him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~John 4:24~

TUESDAY 27 December, 2016

Those Who Look for Redemption

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age… and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Anna was only married seven years before she was widowed. Since her widowhood, she faithfully served the Lord by fasting and praying in the temple, both during the day and night. Notice that old age and widowhood never stopped Anna from serving her God. As Simeon, in the temple spoke his prophecy about Christ, then Anna, a prophetess entered.

Even though Anna was elderly she remained spiritually alert. Like Simeon, she also recognized the Child and acknowledged Him as the Messiah. In that very instant she gave thanks to God and spoke prophetically about Him. Anna must have been well known among the people, they would have regarded her prophetical words about Christ. Christ was born and for those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, that time had surely come––amazing!

What is redemption? In the Old Testament, the word simply means, a ransoming from imprisonment for debt or slavery. But the redemptive work of Christ redeems an individual from the penalty of sin. What is the penalty for our sin? Romans 6:23 tells us: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Seriously, knowing the just penalty and the payment due for your sins–– death, what should be your main concern in view of eternity? Are you one among the many who are looking for your needed redemption?

…but with His [Jesus’] own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
~Hebrews 9:12~

MONDAY 26 December, 2016

Consolation of Israel

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke 2:25

Simeon was known as a man of great character. He was just––his life was conformed to God’s high standard of justice. Therefore in the eyes of God he was deemed righteous. He was also strongly devout; he displayed a godly respect for the things of God. Simeon was a true example of a man who feared God.

Simeon patiently waited on the Lord for the ‘Consolation of Israel’––a name used for Christ, the long awaited Messiah. We do not know how long he had waited but we see him being led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the perfect time and place to see Jesus Christ.

Soon, Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ parents, brought the Child into the temple to present Him to the Lord according to the law (Luke 2:22-24). Simeon’s, greatest desire in life was now before him––the Lord’s Christ. He held in his arms the Child He knew was destined to comfort Israel. God had kept His promise to Simeon; elated and empowered by the Holy Spirit he said:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon, prophesied that not only was the Christ Child given for the comfort and salvation of Israel but He would be light to the heathen nations ––the Gentiles as well. All people are blessed by the Messiah’s light, knowledge of salvation that has come through God’s chosen people––Israel.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
~Isaiah 40:1~

SUNDAY 25 December, 2016

Finding Christ in Christmas

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Luke 2:15-16

The shepherds believed the angel’s words. The Lord had revealed to them that––Christ the Lord was born! In unison they agreed to leave their fields and flocks to go into the crowded city in search of the Child. They found the Babe, lying in the manger, just as the angel had told them.

After they had seen Jesus, they publicly made know what was told them about this Child. Those who heard marveled. Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered all these sayings in her heart. As the shepherds returned to their flocks of sheep in the fields they glorified and praised God, not only for what they were privileged to hear but Who they had found. They had found the Babe––Christ the Lord. They had seen Him for themselves with their very own eyes (Luke 2:17-20).

Perhaps, this Christmas Day, you find yourself melancholy and alone. All you seem to do is spend your days and even your nights, in some field of work. You may feel empty, unfulfilled and this question might come to mind, “Is this all there is to life?" But you have yet to discover the glad tidings of the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloth, lying in the manger.

If you search for Christ the Lord in the Scriptures you will find Him. The Lord will make the significance of Christ’s birth and His amazing purpose He has planned for your life known to you personally. This Christmas Day could be the very day you find Christ! Then you too will praise and glorify God for the birth of His Son––the greatest gift He has given to you.

… [Search] the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
~Acts 17:11~

SATURDAY 24 December, 2016

While Shepherds Watched

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Luke 2:8-9

While shepherds faithfully watched over their sheep, outside on this dark night, all of a sudden an angel stood before them and the glory of the Lord illuminated the darkness all about them. They were in awe at the heavenly sight. Maybe they covered their eyes to shield themselves from the brightness or stared at the angel completely speechless. The angel spoke to them:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11).

Can you believe that? These insignificant shepherds were chosen to hear about the birth of Christ. Contained within these good tidings was His purpose for coming. He was to be the Savior––for all people. For confirmation of the angel’s words, they could go and find the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger in the city of David.

Then instantly the night sky was filled with a multitude of heavenly host––angels praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). It is important to understand God’s heart towards mankind is for good. He desires for everyone to rejoice at this good news; not one person has been excluded from the opportunity to find His peace and salvation through Christ.

For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples…
~Luke 2:30-31~

FRIDAY 23 December, 2016

No Room for Jesus

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

The streets and inns were occupied with people who had traveled into the city of Bethlehem for the worldwide census. Everywhere Joseph and Mary looked for a vacant room to find rest was full to capacity. They must have knocked on many doors and inquired to see if there was a place. But there was none available, the only location left open was a humble stable, where animals where kept.

Then, Mary, went into labor, she had no midwife to help her give birth to her Son. She wrapped him in the swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger. Our Savior, the King of kings was born and laid in a humble manger used to feed the animals. Jesus, Creator of the world became created, He was both human and divine:

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth… (Colossians 1:15-16).

It is important to understand that even though God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16), most people were oblivious to the miraculous event of Christ’s birth. What about today? So many people during Christmas time fill the streets of cities as they shop in stores for gifts. Yet do they stop to think about the greatest gift––God’s Son?

When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart will you let Him in? Why not make room for Jesus in your life this Christmas and accept Him as your Savior?

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
~Revelations 3:20~

THURSDAY 22 December, 2016

A Difficult Journey

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

Luke 2:4-5

Under the Roman rule of Caesar Augustus, a decree was issued that the known world should be registered. This census took place while Quirinius was governing Syria (Luke 2:1-3). Some believe that this was done for the taxation of the people. Joseph would have had to leave Galilee with Mary to travel to Judea, to the city of David––Bethlehem.

Imagine how difficult this harsh journey must have been for Mary. She was near the time of giving birth to her Son. She was described as being great with child (Luke 2:5 KJV). Joseph and Mary would have traveled about seventy miles over the rough and rugged terrain.

Yet they both believed what God had spoken to them and trusted Him for the outcome. This difficult journey was a part of God’s perfect plan; just as the Prophet Micah foretold:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me

the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old,

from everlasting (Micah 5:2).

Sometimes, God will allow different situations in your life to happen. These events may take you on a difficult journey. It is important to stay committed to the Lord and believe His Word. Through your submission to His plans, even in the most arduous times, your faith will grow stronger.

Belief is not faith without evidence but commitment without reservation.
~Leighton Ford~

WEDNESDAY 21 December, 2016

A Light in the Darkness

Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

The Jewish nation was heavy burdened under Romans rule. They endured a harsh existence in a land no longer freely theirs. A Roman soldier could tap anyone on the shoulder and they would be forced to carry his gear for a mile. The Jews were forced to pay taxes; which funded the Roman army who occupied them. The Romans were cruel; a person could be sentence to death by crucifixion, for their crimes.

As Zacharias concluded his prophecy, there was a glimmer of hope among the dark days of oppression. Their Messiah would come as a light––a dawn in the darkness. He was their Dayspring, to bring to His people peace. War had brought their enemies into their gates––the Roman presence in Israel was such an unwelcomed intrusion.

It is important to understand that our own lives have an enemy––death. Because of sin we all sit in death’s shadow. We live in the fearful knowledge that each new day could be our last. Death is something we cannot control, it is an unwelcome intrusion. But who can help us?

Our Dayspring––Jesus Christ, visited us like the dawn that ends the darkness. As Mary’s child He took upon Himself human flesh. He was able to destroy death’s hold over us when He died on the cross:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.
~Isaiah 9:2~

TUESDAY 20 December, 2016

Prophet of the Highest

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.

Luke 1:76-77

As the child John grew, the hand of the Lord was with him, he became strong in Spirit. He would live in the area of the desert until his ministry began. Zacharias, in his prophecy gave an explanation of his son’s ministry. In biblical times, when a king visited, a herald would proclaim his coming. The people would prepare the way by removing all the rocks and trash from the roads to make them as smooth and straight as possible.

Likewise, when a man, John the Baptist, as he preached, would herald, Jesus the King of kings––the king of the Jews and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. John would give a strong message to repent. His words would convict the people and they would see their need for the forgiveness for their sins. The people’s hearts were made ready––for their coming Messiah.

As John ministered to the multitudes of people, he was questioned as to whether or not, he was the Christ? He left this testimony in Scripture:

...when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:19-20).

When Jesus began his ministry, He asked John to baptize Him. John before his Lord, took a position of humility and said: “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:27). It is very important to notice John never pointed people to himself he always pointed them to Christ. Who do you point others too, yourself or Christ?

…I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
~John 1:34~

MONDAY 19 December, 2016

A Priest of Praise and Prophecy

Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…

Luke 1:67-71

Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, not only praised the Lord he also prophesied. He spoke of God’s visitation among His people—Israel. Their Messiah, the horn of salvation, would come through the household of David (Psalm 132:17). Zacharias praised God for his nation’s redemption, salvation and rescue from their enemies. God’s promises had been spoken through His prophets, since the beginning of the world.

Imagine, the people were very familiar with these ancient spoken promises. God in His mercy would perform the oath He swore to their father Abraham. It was the great hope of the people of Israel; to be delivered from the hand of their enemies, so they could serve the Lord without fear, in holiness, all the days of their lives (Luke 1:72-75).

Now the time had come to see the prophecy’s fulfillment. John would be used of the Lord for the sole purpose to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was to be a witness to His true Light:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:6-9).

Do you prefer to live your life in the darkness or in the Light?

…Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
~John 3:19~

SUNDAY 18 December, 2016

What Child is this?

Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:65-66

Imagine, all the people who lived around Zacharias and Elizabeth were in awe of what was happening. They began to discuss the miraculous events surrounding the birth of this new born child––John. At first Zacharias was mute and the people perceived he had seen a vison in the temple. Then Elizabeth in her old age conceived and gave birth to a son! Now, after the child was given the unexpected name of John, by his father, Zacharias began to speak. As the people discussed these unusual events, news began to spread throughout all the hill country of Judea.

What did these extraordinary happenings mean? Clearly the people were aware that God was doing something even though they could not understand the full picture of His plan. So, for the time being, they kept what was spoken in their hearts. They were left with a probing question in their minds, “What kind of child will this be?”

Imagine, among all those people in the hill region of Judea, who had heard what had transpired, was there any who could truly perceive what had happened, according to the Scriptures, concerning John and his ministry in relation to Christ?

Notice, it is the same today. How many people will not understand the spiritual significance of Christmas? Instead they will enjoy a commercialized holiday. But perhaps family members will ask you about the babe in the manger, saying “What Child is this?” Will you be able to answer them, “Christ our Savior” and tell them the Christmas story?

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
Who is Christ the Lord.
~Luke 2:11~

SATURDAY 17 December, 2016

Birth of John the Baptist

Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:57-58

Mary had stayed with her cousin for three months; then came the time for Elizabeth to deliver her baby. The Lord in His mercy had taken away her shame of not being able to have a child. Elizabeth had a time of seclusion but now her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had blessed her. He had given her a son––everyone rejoiced (Luke 1:56-58).

The miracle of Elizabeth giving birth in her old age was not the only wonder to happen––on the eighth day, those present expect the baby to be named after his father but Elizabeth had said no, his name would be John. Confused by an unfamiliar name not found in their family lineage, they looked to Zacharias for further confirmation (Luke 1:59-62).

Zacharias motioned for a tablet and in their amazement he wrote the name––John. Immediately his tongue was loosed and he could speak, just as the angel had said (Luke 1:20). Notice, the very first words to come out of his mouth were pure praise to his God (Luke 1:59-64).

When Zacharias had heard the angel Gabriel’s message, at first, he had spoken words of unbelief. He could not even imagine the possibility of a child being born to him in his old age. But now, when what was spoken had taken place, and he had obediently called the child John, he praised God, fully and completely.

It is very important that we examine what comes out of our mouths. Do we question God’s Word in unbelief? Or do we believe His Word and have nothing but praise on our lips?

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. ~Psalm 34:1~

Rejoice in God my Savior

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

Luke 1:46-49

Mary, responded to all that had been spoken to her by the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth, her cousin. She spontaneously began to magnify the Lord in her sweet song of praise. Mary had indeed been made to rejoice; God who is mighty beyond measure, had done great things. Mary was blessed and she praised His magnificent holy name.
Imagine, Mary, in humility recognized that she was a lowly maid servant to be used in God hands. Her life’s story, as the mother of Jesus, would be remembered for all generations. It is important to understand, this holy Child she carried would not only be Savior of the world, He would be her own Savior. Mary, although pure, needed salvation herself, although blessed among women; she was not sinless like her Savior.
Mary saw herself in the correct light; she understood the profound truth of her insignificance, compared to the greatness of God. But do we? Imagine, we are but a speck of dust in this vast universe, but God in His love and affection for us, is mindful of us and gave us dominion over His creation:
What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…(Psalm 8:4-6).
When was the last time you worshipped the Lord for His magnificence, His Salvation and all the great things he has done in your life?
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.
~Psalm 126:3~

Mary, Blessed Believer

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:42-45

Mary hastened to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Who spoke, by the Spirit, as the baby leaped in her womb, to give a confirmation of what the angel had already told Mary. She was chosen by God to be the mother of her Lord––blessed among women. Elizabeth assured Mary that those things spoken to her would be fulfilled. Notice, how Elizabeth said: my Lord… this Child would become her personal Lord and Savior––she was so humbled, by Mary’s visit and commended her for her great faith.
Imagine, Mary, found encouragement and friendship as she stayed with Elizabeth. She had someone within her own family that completely understood her situation. Elizabeth was in tune with God’s purposes. Mary may have felt alone as a young, unmarried, pregnant teenager; she found solace with Elizabeth, an older woman who embraced her.
Do you realize just how blessed you are? Jesus left heaven to come as a baby to accomplish His mission––our salvation. Jesus made that perfectly clear when He said: I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Mark 2:17). Have you embraced the truth of the Gospel message? Who is Christ to you personally? Have you repented of your sins and asked Him to become your personal Lord?
If you do this day, the Christmas story will take on a whole new blessed meaning. Imagine, you will join the family of blessed believers in Christ.
Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people,
~Luke 1:68~

According to Your Word

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:36-38

The angel Gabriel greatly encouraged Mary; the Lord had already been at work in the life of her cousin Elizabeth. She had been barren and yet God through His power had miraculously given her life––a child was conceived in her lifeless womb. God can do the impossible and He would also touch Mary’s life. Then Mary, moved by faith, willingly agreed to be used by the Lord and voiced her full submission to God’s Word.
Mary’s reaction to the angel’s words revealed her heart of faith; which was very different from Zacharias the priest. When he was told by Gabriel, that Elizabeth was to have a child, he questioned the possibility; they were too old to have children. Zacharias was rebuked by the angel for his unbelief. But Mary by faith, delighted to do the will of God.
In Psalm 40:8 David expressed his attitude towards doing the will of God, he wrote: I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart. This Psalm was also prophetical; it spoke of Christ and His willingness to do His Father’s will. Jesus said to the people who followed Him: …I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me (John 6:38).
What was the Father’s perfect will in the life of Christ? He was to die: “…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).
Do you delight to do the will of God, no matter how impossible it seems?
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin…
~Isaiah 53:10~

Holy One––the Son of God

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Luke 1:34-35

In awe and wonder, Mary inquired how this miracle of conception would happen. She questioned, but never doubted, God’s Word in unbelief. The angel answered her finite minds curiosity. The Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the trinity, would come upon Mary, and the power of God would overshadow her. She would carry the precious Seed within her womb. Jesus, the Son of God would be born of Mary.
God the Father is holy (Exodus 15:11); Jesus, God’s Son, the second person of the trinity, is holy (Acts 3:14); and the Spirit, as the third person of the trinity is called the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the trinity has the same divine attributes. On one occasion an unclean spirit–demon, recognized the supreme power of the Holy One and said: “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34).
Only a holy sacrifice could suffice for the sacrifice of our sins. John confirms that Jesus had no sin in 1 John 3:5: And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Jesus met the requirements to be a sacrifice for our sins:
knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The demons know the authoritive names of Jesus, do you?
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…
~Philippians 2:9~

Son of the Highest

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Luke 1:32-33

Notice, the angel proclaimed that the birth of Jesus would eventually fulfill the prophetic promise given to King David during his life. God, the Father, will give to His Son the throne of David to secure His kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:16). Jesus, the Son of the Highest, God coming in flesh (John 1:14), was born into the earthly bloodline of King David:
concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:3-4).
Jesus has two natures, earthly and divine; He is the Son of the Highest–– God supreme, the Lord who is high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1). But He is also deity in human flesh, Immanuel––God with us. A troubled demon used Jesus’ title of––‘Son of the Most High God’ when he addressed Him:
And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me” (Mark 5:7).
Jesus, Son of the Highest, came for one purpose––to die on the cross, so that we could be forgiven our sins and spend eternity with Him (John 14:1-3). Hebrews 2:9 plainly tells us the reason He took on mortal flesh:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Christ was God, not because he was virgin born.
He was virgin born because he was God.
~Robert Clarke~

His Name is Jesus

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

Luke 1:29-31

Mary was troubled––unsettled in her thoughts but the angel reassured the trembling woman. Mary had found favor with God. Then the angel told her the most amazing message, Mary would conceive in her womb, a Son, she would name him––JESUS. This miracle would be a fulfillment of Scripture found in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel––God with us.
Imagine, Mary, a young teenager, had been chosen to carry Jesus in her womb. The Jewish people knew the Scriptures and understood, by them, that the Messiah would be born. They fully expected Him to be their Savior and save them from their oppressive enemies. This was the great hope of the Jews, suffering under a Roman occupation––that the Messiah would deliver them and set up His kingdom on earth.
Mary’s child was to be called JESUS. The Hebrew meaning: Yehoshua, shortened to Joshua, means Yahweh saves or Yahweh is salvation. What was the purpose of His birth? The name JESUS, relates to us His mission––for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). But Jesus is not only Savior to the Jewish nation. God has shown His love, by giving His greatest gift––His Son, for the salvation of the whole world!
This Christmas season, are you mindful of God’s plan, to bring about your own salvation? The birth of Christ shows God’s great love towards you.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
~John 3:16~

An Angelic Announcement

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Luke 1:26-28

Gabriel, during the six month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, was sent by God to give another incredible message. This time, the angel went into a city in Galilee, Nazareth, to a young virgin, Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph and must have been surprised, even shocked to be approached by an angel with such an amazing salutation!
The angel reassured her that in God’s sight she was highly favored; His holy presence was with her. Mary was blessed among women––the good news soon to be told to her, would make her rejoice. But how would she be blessed? God had a plan for her life––more than she could ever imagine.
Even though, at this time, Mary did not fully understand the reason for the angel’s visit. Her encounter with the angel was in accordance with the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. She was a human vessel, chosen among all the women on earth, to perfectly fit into God’s plan. Everything was about to fall into place, she would soon understand.
Most Christians do not have encounters with angels; our life changing experiences are purely based on God’s Word. He transforms our lives (2 Corinthians 5:17), and then begins to use us to do His will on earth. God, in His wisdom, often does not show us His entire plan for our lives––He takes us on a journey of faith one step at a time. Even if we do not understand the path God is leading us on, we must simply trust in Him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

God’s Word Comes to Pass

Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Luke 1:24-25

Zacharias, performed his duty, burning incense in the temple while the people worshiped and prayed outside (Luke 1:9-10). They began to marvel that he took so long. When he came out he could not speak––the people supposed he had seen a vision in the temple as he gestured to them but remained speechless (Luke 1:21-23).
Then, in God’s time, what the angel Gabriel had told Zacharias came to pass, Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept herself hidden for five months, with the wonderful knowledge in her heart that God had answered her prayer for a child. In Biblical days, it was a shame not to have children, others may have looked down on her but not anymore that reproach was completely taken away. She could rejoice in the miraculous things God was doing in her life.
Imagine, as Elizabeth and Zacharias continued to serve God faithfully, obediently walking in all the Lord’s commandments, God’s plans and purposes were being fulfilled in their lives. Not only were they chosen to become the parents of John, they would hold a special part in the story of the Saviors birth. John was Jesus’ cousin and he would herald––the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
It is important to know that God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. As we walk with God in obedience to his Word; His plans will naturally unfold in our lives. We each have an important part in the proclamation of the Gospel. Are you open to the unlimited possibilities of God working the impossible in your life?
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

Unbelief in Glad Tidings

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Luke 1:18-20

Zacharias, even though he served God as a priest, questioned the possibility of having a child; both he and his wife were elderly. He thought it very unlikely that it would happen as the angel had told him. Gabriel had a rebuke for the priest. He was an archangel who stood before the presence of God and had come from the presence of His holy throne room, as His messenger, to give Zacharias glad tidings.
As Zacharias heart of unbelief was revealed by the angel, he was told that he would remain mute until the time that the things told to him would come to pass. The Bible is God’s infallible Word. There are many prophecies given in the Old Testament concerning the certain events surrounding Christ’s birth and the actual birth of Jesus Christ, that were fulfilled in the New Testament.
The odds of God’s Word coming to pass are impossible by human terms, but 2 Peter 1:20-21 assures us of the Scriptures infallibility:
…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Despite all the evidence, how many people choose not to believe God’s Word and the glad tidings of the Gospel message He brings to us?
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…
~2 Peter 1:19~

Make Ready a People

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

John, even from within the womb of his mother, was filled with God’s Spirit. When Mary, pregnant with the Messiah, visited Elizabeth, we read of his incredible reaction: And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). John was likened to Elijah, a bold and powerful prophet, yet Jesus told His disciples: For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).
As a man he would take upon himself the vow of a Nazarite; he would drink no wine or strong drink––he was set apart to God (Numbers 6:1-21). He preached in the wilderness of Judea and baptized many in Bethabara––beyond the Jordan. He was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; John 1:28). What was John’s compelling message?
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight’” (Matthew 3:2-3).
Imagine, over the years, this same message is preached to the multitudes. Have you responded to the message and repented of your sins? Are you ready to meet the Lord, the one who sits on the throne of David?
Never will Christ enter into that soul where the herald of repentance
hath not been before him.
~Joseph Hall~

The Silence is Broken

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

Luke 1:13-14

In the days of Herod––the most vile and wicked king, Zacharias the priest served God in the temple. His wife Elizabeth was barren and there was little hope of a child being born to the aged couple. They were both described as being righteous and blameless before God; walking in all the commandments (Luke 1:5-7).
Four hundred years of silence spanned between the pages of Malachi and Matthew. Although the Lord had not spoken through any prophet for some time; the stage was being set for the entrance of a King, but not just any king. Before His royal birth, a fore runner would prepare His way. Earlier, the Prophet Isaiah prophesized about John:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together… (Isaiah 40:3-5).
In God’s perfect timing, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in the temple. Zacharias became afraid but the angel told him he had come in answer to his prayer. Elizabeth would have a son, and he was instructed to call the name of the child, John (Luke 1:8-14). Never doubt God’s times of silence, He is at work behind the scenes of your life fulfilling His plans.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
~1 Corinthians 2:9~

Peace without End

…Of the increase of His government and peacethere will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:7

Solomon’s reign was peaceful but after his death his kingdom became divided. Rehoboam, his son, ruled over the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah, while Jeroboam ruled the other ten tribes (1 Kings 12:16-17). Sadly, later in history, Solomon’s temple and the walls of Jerusalem would be destroyed. The people of Israel, along with Solomon’s riches, would be carried away into a long Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24-25).
With this unthinkable devastation, how would God accomplish His promise to King David? Who would sit on the throne? Would there ever be a lasting peaceful reign in the future? It is important to understand that throughout the history of Israel’s kings, the royal bloodline of King David continued. In fact, the scarlet cord weaved its way gracefully through the lives of five women. Tamar, who acted as a prostitute, Rahab a prostitute by trade, cursed Moabites Ruth, the wife of Uriah and then a young virgin maid named Mary (Matthew 1:1-5,16).
Mary, poor and humble, lived in an insignificant town of Nazareth. She was betrothed to Joseph, a humble carpenter. Both Mary and Joseph’s families were linked directly to the lineage of King David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would be born of Mary. He is God, the King of kings who will establish the throne of David forever.
Imagine, there are still so many wars troubling our world today. But, let us not be distressed; at the end of the age, Jesus Christ will reign and there will be peace without end (Isaiah 2:4).
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
~Luke 1:32~

A Lasting Legacy

So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David. The period that David reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years. Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

1 Kings 2:10-12

David, declined in strength as his death drew near––his servants saw his weakness and requested a young maiden to tend to his needs:
So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him… (1 Kings 1:3-4).
David, during this time, administratively set the kingdom in order for his heir––Solomon. Then David, a man after God’s own heart, the beloved king to the nation of Israel––died. He was buried in the City of David––Jerusalem. David, from his famed youth to his old age, left a lasting legacy in history as one of the greatest Biblical heroes that ever lived.
Imagine, God exalted a shepherd boy, zealous for His name, to take down the giant Goliath. War, hardship and persecution shaped his character to become the next King of Israel. He became an incredible warrior––a man of blood. His great downfall was his adultery with Bathsheba. His sin tarnished his good reputation and separated him from his God, until he repented. Yet, God’s goodness and mercy became the silver lining to the constant storms of life he endured (Psalm 23:6).
David left a lasting legacy during the forty years he reigned. He would always be remembered as ‘The Sweet Psalmist of Israel’. What will be your life’s lasting legacy––what will people remember you for?
…King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.
~1 Kings 2:45~

Guilty as Charged

And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood.”

1 Kings 2:8-9

David, was a man of his word, he held to his oath and did not kill Shimei. He deserved death when he cursed at King David––the Lord’s anointed. Shimei, was a Benjamite and his allegiance lay with the family of King Saul. Abishai, one of David’s men, would have gladly silenced him but the king, in his mercy, withheld his sword (2 Samuel 15:9).
David, cautioned Solomon to use wisdom when he dealt with Shimei. He should hold him accountable for his sin. Shimei was guilty as charged and after David’s death, he would need extended mercy. Under Solomon’s reign, he was back in danger of judgment––as Solomon had made no such oath to further protect him. Later, Solomon did graciously prolong his life under one strict condition, he told Shimei:
…“Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there anywhere. For it shall be, on the day you go out and cross the Brook Kidron, know for certain you shall surely die…” (1 Kings 2:36-37).
After three years, the day came when Shimei made a fatal mistake. He traveled outside the bounds of Jerusalem to retrieve two runaway servants. Solomon gave judgment saying: “You know in your heart all the bad things you did to my father David. So the Lord will return your sin upon your own head.” So the king swiftly ordered Shimei’s execution.
God will give the rebel what he chooses and what he deserves.
~Simon Austen~

Rewarded with Kindness

But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for so they came to me when I fled from Absalom your brother.

1 Kings 2:7

David continued to advise Solomon, he balanced his justice towards those, like Joab, who needed retribution for their actions and those who were to be repaid with kindness. Barzillai, the Gileadite, a wealthy, very aged man, had assisted David in the wilderness, as he fled from Absalom. Barzillai had come to his aid with no strings attached, only to freely and willing help the king:
…Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds, honey and curds, sheep and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him to eat (2 Samuel 17:27-29).
David, on his return to Jerusalem, brought Chimham––Barzillai’s son, back with him. His father Barzillai, being old, had decided to return home to his city where he would die in his old age (2 Samuel 19:36-40). Chimham would greatly benefit from his fathers kind actions towards David. He gained an inheritance with the king in Jerusalem. Solomon was told to show kindness to the sons of Barzillai; they were to be honored as they eat at King Solomon’s table.
Imagine, we all have benefited greatly because of the mercy and kindness of God. Jesus Christ, His Son, on our behalf, willingly sacrificed His life on the cross. He has gained for us an eternal heritance: to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you… (1 Peter 1:4). Sinners only need to repent of their sins to gain their inheritance with believers (Colossians 1:12).
…not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
~Romans 2:4~

A Day of Reckoning

“Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed. And he shed the blood of war in peacetime, and put the blood of war on his belt that was around his waist, and on his sandals that were on his feet. Therefore do according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace.

1 Kings 2:5-6

David’s final words gave a stern warning to Solomon concerning Joab. He reminded his son of his murderous acts, when he had killed two of his commanders––Abner and Amasa. In his evil ambition, to remain as David’s chief captain, he eliminated his competition. Innocent blood was spilled. Solomon was urged to use wisdom in dealing with him. Joab, known for his ambitious character, he would become a threat to him.
Prior to David speaking with Solomon, and as David’s death approached, his fourth son, Adonijah, the younger brother to Absalom, exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” Like Absalom, he was good-looking and prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. David did not name him his successor but neither did he stop him, he had remained silent.
Adonijah had spoken with Joab and Abiathar the priest and they both agreed to follow him (1 Kings 1:5-7). Later, Solomon would take his father’s advice; Benaiah was told to strike Joab down. Joab fled to the tabernacle of the Lord (1 Kings 2:29-34). Imagine, this would be a day of reckoning for all Joab had done. Solomon justified his execution in 1 Kings 2:31-32:
…take away from me and from the house of my father the innocent blood which Joab shed. So the LORD will return his blood on his head, because he struck down two men more righteous…
For the LORD of Heaven's Armies has a day of reckoning…
~Isaiah 2:12, NLT~

A Common Contingency

…that the LORD may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me[David], saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He [God] said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

1 Kings 2:4

Through the Prophet Nathan, David had initially received a promise from the Lord. When his life ended, the establishment of the throne of Israel would continue through his son. Furthermore, the Lord would establish the throne of Israel forever. Instead of David, Solomon was chosen to build a house for the Lord and God foretold of His relationship with him:
I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him… And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:14-16).
Solomon’s reign was magnificent, in the beginning he followed the ways of the Lord, but his wives caused him to have a divided heart. He allowed other gods to be worshipped and failed to be fully loyal to the Lord (1 Kings 11:1-8). As God’s chastisement came, Israel became divided between Solomon’s son Rehoboam and Jeroboam––a widow’s son. Jeroboam’s reign was also contingent on his obedience to the Lord:
…if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments… then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, …and will give Israel to you… (1 Kings 11:38)
God desires to bless our lives but it is contingent on walking with God in truth, with all our heart and soul. Can you say that of your walk with God?
…O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.”
~2 Kings 20:3~

Keeping the Charge

And keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn…

1 Kings 2:3

David passed on to Solomon a serious charge––he must shoulder the responsibility, to govern as the new King of Israel, in accordance to what was written in the Law of Moses. I am sure David wanted Solomon to learn from his father’s many mistakes. He desired to see his son succeed; in his life he must keep the charge of God.
A similar charge was given by the LORD to Joshua––Moses’ successor. The Lord had said to him:
…be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).
Joshua’s success hinged on his obedience to God’s Word:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).
It is important to understand that we can have a successful Christian life if we keep a disciplined devotional life. Christians need to be in the Word daily––early in the morning and before they go to sleep. The Word of God will transform their lives. God’s will––His plans for their lives, will succeed.
…And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
~Romans 12:2~

Prove Yourself a Man

Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man.

1 Kings 2:1-2

David had grown old, he faced the inevitable and he knew his days on earth would be few––he would soon die. Solomon, the son of Bathsheba would become the next king. He was believed to be very young and obviously inexperienced. David gave some important last words to his son, to help him, as he would soon assume the responsibilities of the throne. He encouraged Solomon to be strong and to prove himself a man.
The Apostle Paul gave wise advice to fathers to help them raise their sons to become godly men: …fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). How else are fathers to set a good example for their sons? Paul told the men to provide for their families: But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1Timothy 5:8). Paul also gave the principle of hard work: …we told you that if a man does not work, he should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10, NLV).
A father’s influence over their son’s lives is invaluable. They have the ability to shape the lives of their sons as they teach them how to become godly men. Fathers must pour into their young men wisdom––gained from walking with the Lord. As a Christian father, what kind of role model have you become to your sons? Can they follow in your footsteps?
In fact, Paul addressed all Christians concerning their faith when he said: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, and be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13, KJV). Have you grown to become a mature Christian?
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
~1 Corinthians 13:11~

Answered Prayers

And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.

2 Samuel 24:25

David’s prayers and offerings were accepted by the LORD. His intercession on behalf of Israel averted further disaster and spared the remaining people from God’s judgment. The plague was stopped and the land was healed.
The Prophet Jonah, told the people in Nineveh, that in forty days their city would be overthrown––destroyed (Jonah 3:4). When the word reached the king of Nineveh he quickly responded: …he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes…(Jonah 3:6-8), proclaimed a decree throughout all Nineveh to fast and repent from all their evil and violent ways.
The king gave hope to the people when he said to them: Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Would God show them mercy? When God saw their true repentance, He relented and did not bring the destruction on them (Jonah 3:9-10).
America is guilty of many violent and evil acts; especially towards the unborn. As a result, what has God allowed to plague our country? California has endured a long season of drought. Elsewhere storms and floods have created chaos and loss of life. Could these catastrophic events be God’s judgment on our land? As a nation, founded upon Christian principles, we need to pray and repent. Only then, will the Lord be gracious to us and heal our land.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
~2 Chronicles 7:14~

That Which Costs Me Nothing

Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

2 Samuel 24:24

Notice, David was a man of great integrity; he kept to a strong principle when he gave to the LORD. He would not offer ‘that which cost him nothing’. Whatever David offered to the Lord was always given sacrificially. David accumulated great quantities of wealth: gold, silver, bronze, iron, marble, wood and all kinds of precious stones. But it was not to enrich himself––these precious materials were gathered to build the temple of the LORD. First Chronicles 29:3 reveals to us David’s heart:
Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver…
David’s affection for the Lord overflowed in worshipful giving. He set an example that influenced his leadership and the people. First Chronicles 29:6-9 describes how they all joined their king in giving to the work of the Lord. As they gave they received a blessing themselves––joy.
Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly… Then the people rejoice… because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD…
Imagine what we could do for God’s kingdom if only we, as God’s people, gave to God what belongs to God. He promises to bless those who give.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…and try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
and pour out for you such blessing…
~Malachi 3:10~

Acceptable Sacrifice

Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.”

2 Samuel 24:22-23

Araunah, willingly sold David the land for whatever price he would give and freely offered to give to him any oxen, to make a sacrifice on the altar. He also made available the wood to burn from his oxen’s yokes and the implements he used for threshing. He hoped David’s sacrifice would be acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
On this very same place––Mount Moriah, Abraham, in obedience to the Lord, took his son Issac, to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Abraham’s son said to his father: “My father!” and he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Incredibly Abraham told him: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:7-8).
The Lord had told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. The lad willingly placed himself on the altar. Abraham raised his hand to kill him but the Angel of the Lord stayed his hand. He had passed the test; God provided a ram in the thicket for the necessary sacrifice (Genesis 22:2, 9-13).
Imagine, two thousand years later––on Mount Moriah, Jesus willingly died on the cross for us. He was an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. God provided Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). It was His innocent blood that paid the price of our redemption––amazing! Have you accepted the Lord’s sacrificial provision for your sins to be forgiven through His only Son, Jesus Christ?
The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day,
“In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
~Genesis 22:14~

Thanksgiving Day

…I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118:28-29

David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, had a heart of praise towards God. In every season of his life, no matter what he faced, he wrote Psalms of worship, adoration, and thanksgiving. David wrote:
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:1-3).
Imagine, if we all had a heart of thankful praise like David! Too often our prayers include our wants, desires and needs––of course, God encourages us to pray for those necessary things (Matthew 6:11), but what about thanking God for all He has done in our lives? Psalm 34:3 challenges our hearts to join in with David and praise the LORD!
During Thanksgiving we have an excellent opportunity to thank God. As we gather around to eat our bountiful Thanksgiving dinner, each family member can share with gratitude what they are most thankful to God for. Then, we would have magnified and exalted God’s name together. President Abraham Lincoln, in his Thanksgiving proclamation said:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come…
He then attributed these blessings to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. Can you bless the Lord continually and at all times?
…in everything give thanks…
~1 Thessalonians 5:18~

Disaster Assistance

Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”

2 Samuel 24:20-21

Imagine, David had seen the Angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. In response, David interceded for the people and the elders clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces (1 Chronicles 21:16). Interestingly, as Araunah was threshing the wheat he had turned and seen the angel of the Lord for himself. His four sons, being afraid, hid themselves but Araunah continued to thresh the wheat (1 Chronicles 21:20).
King David arrived with his servants and asked Araunah for his assistance. He requested to purchase the threshing floor––to build an altar to the LORD. By following the Angel of the Lord’s command, he hoped the disastrous plague would be stopped (1 Chronicles 21:18).
When the people of Israel spoke against the Lord and Moses; due to their sin––fiery serpents were sent among them; those bitten died. Moses was told by the Lord to make a fiery serpent and raise it up on a pole. Those who looked up at the pole were saved and did not perish (Numbers 8-9).
It is important to understand that sin is like a plague––it’s not only the cause of physical death, but spiritual death as well. Sin will always bring disastrous results but God has made a way of deliverance for us. God, who is rich in mercy, gave to us His Son, Jesus Christ. When you look to the cross of Jesus for salvation, you will be saved and not perish.
…as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish
but have eternal life.
~John 3:14-15~

Obedience to God’s Word

And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.

2 Samuel 24:18-19

After chastisement; David prayed and repented. Gad was sent in answer to David’s intercession. He was to go up onto the threshing floor belonging to Araunah and build an altar to the LORD. Notice, the fruit of his repentance was full obedience to the Lord.
When we disobey God, as a loving Father, He will chasten us. Hebrews 12:6-9, tells us why we should endure our heavenly Father’s discipline:
For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons…but if you are without chastening…then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
Notice, God’s discipline is a part of a loving relationship with the Lord. When He punishes us He always has our best interest at heart:
For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
Are you currently being chastened by the Lord? Although it is never pleasant to be disciplined by Him, understand He loves you and it is for your own good.
…no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
~Hebrews 12:11~

Contrite Intercession

Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”

2 Samuel 24:17

David’s conscious plagued him with guilt. He became contrite and confessed his sin and wickedness before the Lord. He began to intercede for the people; who were before him as sheep. David as a shepherd boy, watched over his father’s sheep. He had done everything to protect them, even to the point of killing a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36).
David, as the king of Israel, did not treat his people as his subjects to rule over, he tenderly referred to them as helpless sheep. The Lord had placed him in his kingly position to watch over His people as a shepherd:
Also, in time past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over My people Israel’” (1 Chronicles 11:2).
It was King David’s responsibility to watch over God’s people, to protect them. He had failed––now, because of his sin, he watched helplessly as seventy thousand men perished. He pleaded their innocence by asking for God’s anger to be redirected towards himself and his family instead. What would appease God’s wrath? David would wait for God to answer.
The Apostle Paul prayed for his Jewish brethren. He was zealous for their souls saying: For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh (Romans 9:3). There is a need for intercessors today––as we fall on our faces to confess our sins before the Lord, then we can stand in the gap to pray.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel
is that they may be saved.
~Romans 10:1~

Judgment Restrained

And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

2 Samuel 24:16

As the angel continued in a path of destruction––with His hand was about to destroy Jerusalem, but God in His mercy restrained Him. The allotted judgment period was over and the angel of the Lord remained by the threshing floor of Araunah.
Araunah’s threshing floor was on an elevated plateau. It was a place where the chaff was separated from the wheat. Later, David’s son, Solomon chose the site to build the temple of the LORD:
Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan [Araunah] the Jebusite (2 Chronicles 3:1).
Both in the New and Old Testaments, the threshing floor symbolizes judgment. Notice how David prayed to the Lord concerning his enemies:
Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me. Let them be like chaff before the wind… Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them (Psalm 35:4-6).
Who else is described as chaff? Psalm 1:4 tells us: The ungodly…are like the chaff which the wind drives away. John the Baptist used this familiar picture to warn the ungodly of God’s judgment.
His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.
~Luke 3:16-17~

Plagued

So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.

2 Samuel 24:15

Imagine, during the three days the LORD sent the plague throughout the land of Israel, seventy thousand men died. God has used many types of plagues as a judgment or chastisement on either individual people or nations. Remember the ten plagues in the land of Egypt?
The Pharaoh of Egypt enslaved the children of Israel and heartlessly commanded their male babies to be thrown into the river (Exodus 1:8-22). God desired to see His people free from their cruel bondage. He heard their cries and Moses would be sent as their deliverer (Exodus 3:1-10).
Moses spoke to Pharaoh, telling him to let God’s people go but Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by the Lord. In judgment, ten plagues were sent upon Egypt. Finally, God’s people were released to worship the Lord in the wilderness (Exodus 12:31-33). What was the main reason God brought ten plagues on Egypt? The Lord told Moses His purpose:
...I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Exodus 7:3-5).
Although God’s chastisements and judgments bring great adversity, God uses them for good. The Lord not only wants His people to repent but by demonstrating His great power, He desires all people to know He is God.
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
~Isaiah 45:5~

Let Mercy Fall on Us

And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

2 Samuel 24:14

The choice of God’s punishment needed to be made and the distress of the situation weighed heavy on the heart of David. He had well considered the three options given to him: the seven years of famine, the three months of fleeing before his enemies or the three days of plague in the land. David intimately knew the mercy of God; it is the character of the Lord. David had asked God to show him mercy when he had willfully sinned with Bathsheba:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2).
David would rather fall into the hands of God who was ready to show mercy on a repentant sinner than fall into the hands of men. His enemies would certainly not show mercy to David. They would be happy to kill him and, just as they had done to Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 21:12–– hang him from their walls to gloat in victory.
Therefore, three days to endure a plague was far better than seven full years of famine. David thought the plague would be the most merciful punishment and committed himself and the people into God’s merciful hands. Whatever our situations, as God’s people we should praise God for his mercy: Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You (Psalm 33:22). Need mercy? Come to the Lord and ask.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
~Hebrews 4:16~

A Difficult Choice

So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”

2 Samuel 24:13

As we read through these awful choices God gave to David it is hard to imagine what he would choose. Seven years of famine would cause the slow starvation of many people in his kingdom, bringing suffering over a long period of time. At this time in his life would he choose three months of being humiliated and hunted by his enemies? He had also experienced the hardship of many years on the run while King Saul pursued him. As a mighty warrior, David had remained undefeated.
Then there was the third choice, three days of plague in the land. The horrors of the plague would sweep the land and the people would fall like flies––dead. Imagine, the heavy weight of responsibility that David felt for those who would die; knowing that it could have been avoided. If only he had listened to the wise counsel of those who tried to speak with him.
Once again contemplate the terrible consequences of David’s sin and learn from his mistakes. In your own life are you planning to do something that is in direct opposition to what you know is right in God’s Word? It may be an unequally yoked relationship? Moving into a home with a partner without being married? Or even to continue in an adulterous affair?
If you have shared those plans with godly people, have they attempted to convince you not to go forward with your plans? Avoid the consequences of your sin by stopping to consider the other people you will hurt. Will you listen to the counsel you have been given?
Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
~Proverbs 11:14~

Freedom to Choose

Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.”’”

2 Samuel 24:11-12

David sincerely repented and God in His mercy once again forgave him. God had spoken to the prophet Gad––one of David’s personal counselors and gave David counsel––when Saul pursued him, to leave his secure stronghold, believed to be in Moab and move to Judah. David took his counsel and went into the forest of Hereth (1 Samuel 22:5).
Now Gad, his trusted counselor came to David once more with a message from the Lord. Notice, he did not address his sin; as David had already repented. But he would be told of three different penalties for his sin. David would have to make the hard decision to choose one of three things he would describe. God gave David the freedom to choose his punishment.
Imagine, God has created us with the ability to exercise free will. We can either choose to disobey God and sin or live a life in obedience, in accordance to God’s Word. Joshua, the leader of Israel, presented to the people of Israel the freedom of choice when he said:
…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
In the case of our eternal destiny, once presented with the Gospel message we are left with two very important choices. Those who choose Christ to be their Savior will enter heaven (John 14:3). Hell was made for the devil and his angels (Mathew 25:41), but if we choose to reject God’s salvation through Jesus Christ then He will honor that choice.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 6:23~

A Heart of Condemnation

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

2 Samuel 24:10

David should have never counted the people––instead he should have trusted the Lord. David’s heart became full of condemnation. So he took the right action and sought the Lord’s forgiveness. Immediately, he repented but it was too late to avoid the consequences. David’s decision to number the people would cost him the life of his men.
David was not perfect; and neither are we. In our lives we make a lot of foolish decisions. When we think about our sins and failures the enemy slips right in to bring condemnation into our hearts––but we have to remember this truth: condemnation will always lead you away from the cross––but conviction will always draw you to the cross.
Often times Satan, through others, will bring up the sins from our past and throw them into our faces. When we feel condemned, discern this common spiritual attack and use this helpful verse to ward off the enemy: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
Examine your Christian walk with God. Are you are feeling condemned because you have been walking in the flesh? Even though you will suffer consequences because of your choices, come back to the Lord in full repentance and He will accept you. The blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse you from your sin (1 John 1:9).
For if our heart condemns us,
God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
~1 John 3:20~

A Man’s Request

So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

2 Samuel 24:8-9

Joab fulfilled his king’s request––it took a total of nine months and twenty days––imagine that! What a waste of time and resources, there was no point or benefit from the journey taken––it was unfruitful and sinful. Yet Joab obeyed his king rather than God. Do you stand for righteousness when being told to do something against God’s Word?
The new Pharaoh of Egypt commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys born to the Hebrew women to curb their growing numbers. Pharaoh feared they would grow stronger and rise up with their enemies against the Egyptian nation. The midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, made their decision to fear God above man and would not kill the Hebrew male babies (Exodus 1:8-10, 15). They took a stand for righteousness.
Exodus 1:17 tells us of the midwives courageous stand against the king’s cruel command: But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. God honored these brave women: …And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them (Exodus 1:21).
When it comes down to making a decision contrary to God’s Word, we should always fear God above man. Why? The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe (Proverb 29:25). So whom do you fear?
…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
~Matthew 10:28~

Crossing Over the Line

And they crossed over the Jordan and camped in Aroer, on the right side of the town which is in the midst of the ravine of Gad, and toward Jazer. Then they came to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi; they came to Dan Jaan and around to Sidon; and they came to the stronghold of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they went out to South Judah as far as Beersheba.

2 Samuel 24:5-7

As Joab and his men crossed over the Jordan and into the other areas of Israel to number the people; they knew they had crossed the line––they had done what was unacceptable and aroused God’s anger.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah had crossed the line when their sins and wickedness caused such an outcry from within the city. The people’s cries reached the ears of God (Genesis 18:20). Abraham stood in the gap to intercede for the people but God’s judgment would fall on the city. Because of God’s mercy only his nephew Lot and some of his family escaped the blazing inferno (Genesis 19:15-29).
In your personal life, how close do you get to a line of compromise? Many Christians try to have one foot in the world and one foot in the church as if straddling a fence. It is not how close we can get to that line but how far we need to stay away from that line that counts. Whether a person, city or nation we need to be careful not to cross the line and evoke the anger of the Lord through our willful and continual sin. Shall we not fear God?
If we choose to willfully sin, understand we will arouse God’s anger causing His righteous judgment to come upon our lives (Hebrews 10:26). Do you find yourself crossing over the fine line of compromise when you are embracing the fine pleasures of this world?
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
~James 4:4~

Out for a Count

Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army. Therefore Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel.

2 Samuel 24:4

David did not listen to the wise counsel from Joab and the other captains. Instead, at the end of his life, he made another tragic choice to sin against God. His leaders followed his orders and went out to count the people with the knowledge that there would be tremendous consequences.
The Lord gave his servant Abram an amazing promise. He would be given a child and become the father of a great nation. God took him outside and said count the stars if you are able––his descendants would be as numerous (Genesis 15:2-5). Abram did not wait for the Lord to fulfill His promise he listened to his wife Sarai, who had grown impatient as she aged. Abram conceived a child by her handmaid Hagar (Genesis 16:1-4).
Imagine all that the one act of self will created––through his son Ishmael, the Arab nations. They are still engaged in a very ferocious war against Israel to this day! The rebirth of the nation of Israel on May 14, 1948 is a miracle that marks an incredible fulfillment of Scripture in Ezekiel 37:11-13. From that time, there has begun a prophetical countdown, which is moving towards the rapture of the Church and the return of Jesus Christ:
Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! …this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place… (Matthew 24:32-35).
The fig tree in Scripture refers to the nation of Israel; their rebirth places earth’s history in last days. As the prophetical count down continues; where do you find yourself spiritually?
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
~Matthew 24:42~

Veterans Day

…as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.

Joshua 5:14

Today is Veterans Day. It is often a solemn day, set aside to honor and remember those men and women, in the armed forces, who over the years, have courageously fought and died to keep this great country free. Following in their parent’s footsteps, many of their sons and daughters have bravely decided to take the pledge to continue the fight for freedom.
As a former marine, who fought in the Vietnam War, I have always sought to honor the memory of our fallen comrades and minister to any military personnel returning home and their families. They have suffered tremendously. In this season of political change, with a new president in office, the new commander-in-chief, now, more than ever, need our prayers and support.
Our new President will make key decisions on how our military operates and greatly influence how they are treated. Will they raise their moral standards, protect their religious liberties and improve the conditions of our military? We do not know––but our worthy military personnel and their families deserve the very best.
Now as concerned American citizen’s we must look to the future for our children and grandchildren. We pray and hope their prospects are bright, safe and secure. Whatever happens in America and in the world, our true commander-in-chief is over all the hosts of heaven––He is ultimately in charge. Jesus said to Peter, who tried to protect Him with his own sword: do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53).
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
~Ronald Reagan~

What do you Desire?

And Joab said to the king, “Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?”

2 Samuel 24:3

Joab tried to give David sound advice and place a check in the heart of the king––as if to say, “Why do you want to do that, when God has won all these battles? Do you not trust God David?” Despite Joab’s attempt to reason and question the king’s motives to number the people, David would overrule him. At this time, David was following his own desires.
The Bible reveals that our flesh and soul have a natural desire to do evil: The soul of the wicked desires evil (Proverbs 21:10). Even after we come to Christ there is a daily battle between the Spirit and the flesh:
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:17).
How can we overcome the flesh? Galatians 5:16 says: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Our desires should be aligned with God’s will; our soul should crave to be in his presence. When David’s heart was right before the Lord, he desired nothing else:
How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God… For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:1-2, 10).
Check all your hearts desires; are they in line with God’s Word and His desires for your life?
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
~Psalm 37:4~

Arousing the Anger of the Lord

Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah. So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people.”

2 Samuel 24:1-2

God was leading the fight against Israel’s enemies when David was moved to do a census––he wanted to number the people. Perhaps God would have inquired of David, “Why are you counting the people when I am leading the battle?” God’s anger was aroused, but what was the real reason David decided to number the people?
First Chronicles 21:1 gives us a clear answer––Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. Consider Satan’s downfall––pride in Ezekiel 28:17––your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. Perhaps David was moved by pride in his heart? Why else would God be angry when David counted his men?
If we take into consideration, what the Lord told Gideon, when He dwindled his army down to only three hundred men, it would greatly shed light on David’s situation. God told Gideon in his battle against the Midianties:
“The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’ (Judges 7:2).
God will never share His glory with others: I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images (Isaiah 42:8). As Israel went out to fight in battle they needed to know that the victory was gained because of God. The glory was attributed to Him alone and they were never to rely on the strength of their numbers.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
~Proverbs 16:18~

Time for Decision

Finally, Election Day is here! It is certainly not a day for Christians to be silent. There are those seeking office that agree to dangerous policies that would oppress the Church and shackle the pulpits across America from using their freedoms of speech. Christians must be salt and light; in a time of spiritual darkness. Must we further endure such blatant liberalism that has caught our children in the cross hairs of sexual confusion? Who will best protect our spiritual freedoms in office? Church––let our voices be heard today and vote!

Charles Finney, a Presbyterian Minister and leader in the Second Great Awakening in the United States forcefully said:
The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently. . . Christians seem to act as though God does not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it - and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they [Christians] take in politics.
Christian leader Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham has called the Church to a time of Decision. He has toured the country to rally Christians to: pray, vote and engage. In this pivotal time of politics, we cannot be indecisive, we must look at the platforms of both the republicans and democrats and vote for the person who will be best in office to keep America free––especially for our children and grandchildren.
"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual--or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country" – Samuel Adams.
The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
~Edmund Burke~

The Magnificent Thirty-Seven

Benaiah a Pirathonite, Hiddai from the brooks of Gaash, Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite (of the sons of Jashen), Jonathan, Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite, Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite (armorbearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah), Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, and Uriah the Hittite:thirty-seven in all.

2 Samuel 23:30-39

As we continue to read this long list of names––thirty-seven in all, we come to understand the incredible strength of these armored men within David’s army. They were trained warriors, faithful and loyal to their king and to each other––what a magnificent thirty-seven men!
Notice the final name, Uriah the Hittite––he was also named among David’s mighty men. Uriah had fallen in battle, murdered by his own king, who tried to cover up his sin of adultery with his wife Bathsheba
(2 Samuel 11:2-4). Uriah had no idea what had gone on behind his back;
his wife was taken by David and now she was pregnant with his child!
Remember, time and time again David tried to send Uriah home to be intimate with his wife. Then the child could be known as Uriah’s and not his––a perfect concealment of his sin (2 Samuel 5:12). When David’s plans miserably failed he set about to do the unthinkable––murder this faithful and magnificent warrior. Uriah was an exemplary soldier, who trusted his king; he even carried his own death warrant:
…David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. He had wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die” (2 Samuel 11:14-15).
At the moment I sin, I desire the sin more than I desire to please God.
~R.C. Sproul~

One Man among Many

Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heleb the son of Baanah (the Netophathite), Ittai the son of Ribai from Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,

2 Samuel 23:24-29

Imagine the might of Asahel––one man whose name is seen among thirty men of renown. He was the youngest son of Zeruiah, David’s sister and the brother of Joab and Abishai. Asahel was swift on his feet and he learned to be an avid fighter. David made him a commander over a large division of his army (1 Chronicles 27:7). In his eagerness to take down Abner, Saul’s cousin and commander-in-chief, he was reluctantly killed. Abner in self-defense slew Asahel; he would not listen to his plea to turn aside (2 Samuel 2:18-23). He lived and died as a heroic warrior.
In our families it is good to raise our sons and daughters to be strong in the Lord and to stand and fight the enemy as they engage in spiritual warfare. Psalm 127:3-5 tells us:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
The gate was a place of warfare because it gave entrance to the city. A man’s sons once grown and trained for war would be able to stand and courageously defend their home. They became a blessing to their parents. In what ways are you directing the lives of your young children?
"Our children are what we make them. They are represented as arrows in the hand of a mighty man, and arrows go the way we aim them."
~Charles Surgeon~

Winning a Name

These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among three mighty men. He was more honored than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard.

2 Samuel 23:22-23

Benaiah––killed a lion, overcame two heroes of Moab and defeated a spectacular Egyptian warrior, winning a name for himself. There is something to be said about a name with a good reputation––Proverbs 22:1 tells us: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches; a good name is better than precious ointment… (Ecclesiastes 7:1).
Jesus has many names in Scripture that reveal to us new facets of His amazing character. His disciples knew the power of His name. Peter told the lame man: …Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3:6).
When the religious leaders asked Peter by what power or name did he heal this lame man, Peter proclaimed to them: by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole (Acts 4:10).
The Apostle Paul rebuked an evil Spirit of divination by using Jesus’ name: …Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her” (Acts16:18). It is also important to understand that salvation is only given through Jesus Christ.
There is no other person living on planet earth, that could ever save a person from hell and grant to them eternal life in heaven.
Buddha, Hare Krishna, Muhammed, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard and Confucius are all well-known names that associate with the many different religions in the world today. But there is absolutely no power in any of those names to save us. There is only one name––JESUS!
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
~Acts 4:12~

Son of the Valiant

Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear.

2 Samuel 23:20-21

David had the best men to fight in his battles against the enemies of Israel. Benaiah was the son of yet another valiant man––Kabzeel. Benaiah, he fought bravely against a spectacular Egyptian, in hand to hand combat. They both wrestled, until the Egyptian was overpowered and killed with his own spear. Imagine, father and son were both warriors, their names written in Scripture, honored for all of us to remember.
Imagine being the son of the most valiant hero that ever lived––the son of David. Although, not always the best role model as a father, he sought to pass on to his children his spiritual heritage. He wanted them to know and serve the Lord. David’s son Solomon was to become the next king, think about the words he said to him:
So be strong. Show yourself to be a man. Do what the Lord your God tells you. Walk in His ways. Keep all His Laws and His Word, by what is written in the Law of Moses. Then you will do well in all that you do and in every place you go (1 Kings 2:2-3, NLV).
As a father examine your spiritual walk with God and ask yourself this important question, “Can my children follow my example in the home and in serving the Lord?” What wise words would you like to pass on to your sons and daughters before your death?
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
~3 John 1:4~

A Man Most Honored

Now Abishai the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of another three. He lifted his spear against three hundred men, killed them, and won a name among these three. Was he not the most honored of three? Therefore he became their captain. However, he did not attain to the first three.

2 Samuel 23:18-19

Notice what kind of fighters these mighty men were, they took down hundreds of men single handedly. God had enabled David’s men to be victorious. The Lord had told His people, that if they walked in His statues and kept His commandments, then on their behalf, He would do great exploits and give them victory by using only a few men against many:
You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you (Leviticus 26:7-8).
Abishai had proven himself worthy in battle and David honored commendable men like these. Abishai through his courage was exalted by his king and rose to the rank of captain over other mighty men.
In God’s Word, who are the people we should show honor to? Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another… (Romans 12:10); Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12). Who are we told to show double honor to? Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17).
More importantly to think about is God will honor those who honor Him.
But now the Lord says: ‘… for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.
~1 Samuel 2:30~

Placed in Jeopardy

So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD. And he said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.

2 Samuel 23:16-17

Three of David’s men broke the Philistines ranks and placed their lives in jeopardy to draw water from the well of Bethlehem for King David. When they returned with the water, he considered how faithful these men were and the great value of their lives. David knew they had put their lives on the line just to get him a cup of water. He took into account the high risk they paid and he could not drink it, instead he poured it out to the LORD.
Look at people around you; would they place their lives in jeopardy for you today? In the military, I learned so much about faithful men, they do not run but stand their ground no matter what is going to happen. They would do anything for someone else. I have seen men heroically lay down their lives for each other in battle.
Then I think about the Church––believers in Christ; many are actually running. They are unable to place their lives in jeopardy for others. When spiritual attacks happen they have no spiritual strength to stand, defend or counter attack. What about the weak? If you are strong in Christ, you are supposed to help support them through prayer and intercession.
Notice, even in the mist of battle God took first priority in David’s life. We need to do the same by asking the Lord to baptize us with His Spirit as we surrender to Him our lives. Only then will the Church––as the Bride of Christ, regain her spiritual power and be a force to be reckoned with.
Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?
~Song of Solomon 6:10~

Quench My Longing Thirst

Then three of the thirty chief men went down at harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullam. And the troop of Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”

2 Samuel 23:13-15

Notice what a thorn in the flesh the Philistines were to Israel, they had encamped in Bethlehem where they enjoyed the cities comforts; whereas David, in hardship, lived in a dark dismal cave for his stronghold. In the cave, water was a scarcity––how David longed for water and he knew just where to find it––the well of Bethlehem, by the gate. But would someone dare risk their neck over a cup of refreshing water for their king?
It is a well-known fact that the body cannot survive without water, but what about our spiritual life? The Word of God is as water to our souls, without it our spiritual life cannot be sustained. David described his spiritual thirst for God in Psalm 42:1-2: As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God…
When a person is first saved they have an insatiable thirst for God’s Word. First Peter 2:2 relates the desire for the Word of God to the thirst of a baby who naturally craves for their mother’s milk: as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby…
Jesus taught the woman at the well, a spiritual concept in John 4:13-14: Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Do you realize that only God can quench your thirst in this life?
…let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires,
let him take the water of life freely.
~Revelation 22:17~

Stand Your Ground!

And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the LORD brought about a great victory.

2 Samuel 23:11-12

Remember who killed Saul and his son Jonathan? The Philistines, they were always a real problem to Israel. Once again the people of Israel fled, but one mighty man among them, Shammah, stationed himself in the middle of the field and stood his ground. He fought to defend the territory and killed the Philistines, he gained yet another victory. The battle was God’s triumph; He used Shammah to bring about the Philistine’s defeat.
The Lord will use a godly man who is willing and available to Him to bring about a victory. Gideon was an unexpected choice for the Lord to use in battle against the Midianites––as one man (Judges 6:11-16). Israel, at this time, hid in caves but with only three hundred men, Gideon subdued the Midianites and God received all the glory for the victory (Judges 7).
God uses Christians who are available to do His labor. When the enemy opposes that work, we should stand our ground! Why? The Bible tells us: No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn… (Isaiah 54:17).
Remember, Jesus won the victory over our enemy Satan on the cross, we fight from victory. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:58 encouraged Christians in their service to God: Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
… take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
~Ephesians 6:13~

Fight or Flight?

And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder.

2 Samuel 23:9-10

Eleazar reminded me of David, when he fought against Goliath by faith as Israel cowered in fear. Single handedly he stood firm against the Philistines as Israel had retreated. He wielded his weaponry so fiercely that he brought about a great victory for Israel. The nation benefited from all the Philistine plunder. Eleazar, was a great hero, but he had grown weary in battle; even his sword and his hand became joined as one.
Imagine the conversations these mighty men had between each other as they retold their heroic stories––how the Lord had given them the victory over their enemies. Hebrews 11:32-34 retells the many stories of heroes of the faith. We and our children can learn from their examples:
… of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Notice, some heroes were described as weak but God helped them to become strong and valiant in battle. What caused these men to be so heroic? It was their faith in God; it had made all the difference in what they accomplished. When was the last time you stepped out in faith to engage in battle for the Lord and achieve great things for His kingdom?
But without faith it is impossible to please Him…
~Hebrews 11:6~

One Mighty Man

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time.

2 Samuel 23:8

In conclusion to 2 Samuel, David writes about all his mighty men. It is incredible to read these names––I love David’s mighty men! Although a very long list of names, there are amazing insights we can take from these faithful men, to apply to our lives. The first person mentioned is Joseb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among David’s captains.
He was only one mighty man who killed 800 of Israel’s enemies at one time. Man––what a warrior! He was a pretty good fighter to accomplish that battle! Samson was also a strong man; his strength came from God’s Spirit that would come upon him (Judges 14:6). At one time he killed 1,000 Philistines with only the jaw bone of a donkey! (Judges15:16).
Samson was made weak when overcome by his own flesh. God had departed from his life, his strength left him and he became weak when his enemies came upon him (Judges 16:19-20). Finally, Samson asked the Lord for His power and that is when his greatest victory came. He killed more Philistines in his death than in his life (Judges 16:28-30).
God is able to give us His power and strength to accomplish great battles for His kingdom. Through Him we can defeat the enemy but without Him we can do absolutely nothing! These two Scriptures confirm those two truths: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13), and yet, Jesus said: …for without Me you can do nothing.
Are you calling on the name of the Lord daily for His Spirit to baptize you with His strength and power?
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
says the LORD of hosts.
~Zechariah 4:6~

The Fiery End of the Rebellious

But the sons of rebellion shall all be as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands. But the man who touches them must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they shall be utterly burned with fire in their place.”

2 Samuel 23:6-7

David has given a clear comparison in his song; the end of his life was full of expectant hope in God’s salvation and the fulfillment of all the Lord’s promises to him in the future. But the end for the sons of rebellion would be hopeless; they will be gathered like thorns, and thrust away. What is going to happen to the wicked? One day they will face a fiery end––they will burn.
David was discouraged at times because of the wicked that often seemed to prosper. Throughout Psalm 37, he reminded himself of the heritage of the righteous in comparison to the destruction of the wicked. He knew their future end and wrote: … the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off (Psalm 37:38).
I love this kind of comparison, as in Psalm 1; David also speaks about the ways of the righteous contrasted once again with the ungodly. He described the fruitful life of those who delight in God’s Word:
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).
Notice the opposite for the ungodly, their life is unfruitful: The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. David completes his thoughts with a declaration of their end: the way of the ungodly shall perish. Look at your life, who do you relate to most in Psalm 1?
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.
~Matthew13:41-42~

An Everlasting Covenant

“Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; will He not make it increase?

2 Samuel 23:5

David does not hide the fact that within his household he had problems––big time. Because of his sin he had failed miserably in many areas of his home life and the light of God in his life was not always reflected. But despite David’s failures God had made an everlasting covenant with him that could never be broken, it was secure. God promised David:
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom… but My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever’” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
A covenant is a promise; and God always keeps His promises to His people (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 119:89). David’s desire was to build a house for the Lord but that vision would be accomplished by his son Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:6). Despite this disappointment the Lord promised that an everlasting kingdom would be established through his earthly, kingly lineage forever. It would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ––the King of kings.
Like David, we too have failures in life; but we can learn from his mistakes and successes. Through it all God still showed him mercy and grace. Through God’s grace and mercy, what amazing promises has God given to His people? We have a secure hope of eternal life in heaven!
…an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…
~1 Peter 1:4~

Shining like the Sun

And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,A morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.

2 Samuel 23:4

Imagine, David’s descriptive and poetical writing, paints with artistry, a picture of God’s ability to make a person’s life be as the light of a beautiful sunrise. I watch the sunrise early every morning; the view is amazing as the sky turns orange-red. I stand in awe––the incredible power of God. Then clear blue skies but some red, way down in the east, as the sun is coming up––awesome! When the grass is brown it is not beautiful but when it is green, it glistens like a sea of green––amazing––amazing.
The only woman Judge of Israel, Deborah who went to war, sang a victory song: “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength” (Judges 5:31). When we act justly as Christians we shine in this dark world as lights: that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).
Jesus the Son of God declared: “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). We must walk in the light: …walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
We now have the light of the Gospel: For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Imagine, in heaven there is no sin, darkness or night, there is no need for the sun, as God’s glory illuminates His kingdom.
… the righteous will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father…
~Matthew 13:43~

Hear What the Spirit Says

“The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me:‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

2 Samuel 23:2-3

David had an ear to hear what the Spirit of the Lord said to him. Through the Spirit, he was inspired to speak, write and sing. David was inspired to write Psalm 45, it is a perfect example of God’s Sprit working through him to write about the majesty of God––the King: My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1).
David was always connected to the Lord; until he sinned with Bathsheba. After being confronted by the Prophet Nathan, he repented and God immediately resumed speaking with him. Then David completely understood the forgiveness of God. As king, he ruled over men with God’s merciful character in mind. God spoke to David, as King of Israel; he wanted him to rule justly and in the fear of God.
I believe with all my heart, we need to be in a quiet place of sensitivity if we are to hear the voice of the Spirit of God. Do you realize as a Christian you have the Holy Spirit within you? He will always speak to you through the Word of God. Jesus told His disciples about the Spirit of God:
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (John 16:13).
As we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit through the study of God’s Word, He will teach us how to live as Christians––how to treat and forgive others. He will show us what God requires of us in our short lives.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
~Micah 6:8~

The Importance of Last Words

Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel.

2 Samuel 23:1

As I read these words––they blew my mind! Imagine, each and every one of us, could place our name right there, in this first sentence. David, spoke his last words, wanting everyone to know that it was God who had taken him from being a young shepherd boy, a position of humility and raised him up to be the king of Israel. The God of Jacob had anointed David; the Lord, through the chosen lineage of Israel, over who David reigned (Isaiah 44:1).
Interestingly, within his last words David, the man of war, referred to himself as the sweet psalmist of Israel––he would be remembered, even today, for the many Psalms he penned. His people loved him and David tells us, His God delighted in him: He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19).
Have you heard anyone’s last words? Pastors have the privilege to visit people who are in the hospital––who are about to die. If the person is a believer, they are able to listen to their important last words. I have found that these last words not only come from their lips but from their hearts.
Think about how there is an appointed time for us to die; it is already known and written by God: And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). If it is not an instant death, then we shall have the opportunity to share our last words with our loved ones and friends, who have gathered around our bedside to hear us. What do you think your last words would be to them?
Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of His saints.
~ Psalm 116:15~

Our Tower of Salvation

He is the tower of salvation to His king, and shows mercy to His anointed,to David and his descendants forevermore.”

2 Samuel 22:51

Imagine, in one complete sentence, David spoke so clearly of his personal relationship with God. Look how David, in praise, had a strong sense of belonging to His king, His anointed…His God was a strong tower, a fortress for King David to escape to. The Lord’s mercy was shown to David; he had an enduring hope that His mercy would extend beyond himself to his descendants forever.
Notice again, the humble heart of David; he had come to the end of his days, never thinking of himself to be anything great. He continued to pursue God and make sure he was right in the sight of God, before he would leave this earth. The tremendous life of David should challenge us to become prayer warriors and true worshipers of the Lord.
We do not know when we shall leave this earth, but may the Lord help us to examine our lives in the days we have remaining. Do we spend devoted time with God and speak more about Him, than we do of ourselves? Do we give Him all the honor, glory and praise due His name?
Imagine, the Lord listens to all our conversations––to those who fear Him; He keeps a detailed record of what we say:
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).
The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
~Proverbs 18:10~

Worship with a Thankful Heart

It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me;He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles,and sing praises to Your name.

2 Samuel 22:48-50

Everything that God had done for David was to protect him and deliver him. In response, David uttered nothing but praise and worship back to God. David expressed his praise perfectly; he had a thankful heart and exalted the LORD before the heathen nations. In Psalm 138:1-3 (NIV), is an example of David’s worship with a thankful heart:
I will give you thanks with all my heart; before the heavenly assembly I will sing praises to you. I will bow down toward your holy temple, and give thanks to your name, because of your loyal love and faithfulness, for you have exalted your promise above the entire sky. When I cried out for help, you answered me. You made me bold and energized me.
One thing we neglect to give God enough of is our thanks. He deserves our thanks every single day. We should bow our heads and thank Him for His provisions and His salvation: Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah (Psalm 68:19).
When people come to church, many arrive late and miss the time of worship; they mistakenly think that the sermon is the most important part of the service. People fail to understand the significance of worship, it is to exalt, adore, praise, and thank God for all He has done in their lives. Is God not worthy of our thankful worship? Although God’s Word is vital, worship is also a necessary part of the whole service.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
~Psalm 100:4~

The Rock of my Salvation!

The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock!Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!

2 Samuel 22:47

In 2 Samuel, and throughout the Psalms, David often called the LORD his Rock. His life was built on knowing God and loving Him with all his heart, strength and soul. David had the evidence of God’s divine intervention in his life. He had years and years of answered prayers and he could not help but to sing out: The LORD lives!
He blessed the LORD for being his solid foundation. He stood on his Rock, throughout his life. David lifted God’s name on high; He was to receive all the glory; His fame was to spread among the nations. God was an immovable, steadfast Rock to David––who blessed him with His salvation.
Our lives need to be built on nothing less than the foundation of knowing God and loving Him with all that is within us. In Deuteronomy 6:5, God’s people were told: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. At this moment, how does your life match up to that high standard?
Many people build their lives on the temporary foundations: money, materialism, relationships, entertainment or other personal interests. But it is wise to build our lives on Jesus; the Rock of our salvation. Jesus told His disciples and the people who gathered to hear a parable in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus paralleled the person who listened to God’s Word and put it into practice to a wise man who built his house on the rock. When the storms came it did not fall. Why?… it was founded on the rock.
Examine the foundation of your life; is it founded on sand or the Rock?
Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD,
we have an everlasting Rock.
~Isaiah 26:4~

The Striving of People

You have also delivered me from the strivings of my people; You have kept me as the head of the nations. A people I have not known shall serve me. The foreigners submit to me; as soon as they hear, they obey me. The foreigners fade away, and come frightened from their hideouts.

2 Samuel 22:44-46

Notice again, how David gave all the credit to God for retaining his position as the King of Israel, despite all the strife about him. David had his fair share of strife within his family and his kingdom; even strife from the surrounding nations who were constantly at war with him. During all the tumult, David never lost his throne––his enemies were conquered and were made to be subservient.
Imagine, how many homes and families suffer because of constant strife? Whether it is between a husband and wife, their children, extended family members or even neighbors; strife is very damaging and stressful. What can cause strife in the home?
Proverbs 25:24 explains the results of strife caused by a wife: Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 26:21 describes the strife caused by a man: As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. Disobedient children who act foolishly can bring strife: … a foolish son is the grief of his mother (Proverbs 10:1); …and the father of a fool has no joy (Proverbs 17:21).
Imagine, sitting down for dinner with your family, where there is no love between anybody. Proverbs 15:17 tells us: Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred. Proverbs 17:1 also says: Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. What is the atmosphere of your home; is there strife?
The beginning of strife is like releasing water;
therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
~Proverbs 17:14~

None to Save!

They looked, but there was none to save; even to the LORD, but He did not answer them. Then I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;I trod them like dirt in the streets, and I spread them out.

2 Samuel 22:42-43

Imagine being on the losing side of a battle? This was the case of David’s enemies. They had chosen to remain enemies of God’s people. Now they had reached the point where there remained no more mercy but only judgment. Hopelessly, they had looked around for help, even from the Lord, but there was none to be found.
Jesus had sent out the disciples to share the Gospel. If the message of the Gospel was rejected by any home or city, they were to leave and shake off the dust from off their feet. Notice, the consequences Jesus said would befall those who rejected their message: Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city! (Matthew 10:5-15).
God is merciful and has given all men a way to be saved through the knowledge of the Gospel (1Timothy 2:4-5). But there comes a time when God honors a person’s decision to reject Jesus as their Savior and there is a strong warning to heed in Matthew 12:31-32:
…every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
The Holy Spirit––the third person of the trinity, convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). Jesus must not be rejected, but to resist the person and work of the Holy Spirit leads to blasphemy.
He never sins against the Holy Ghost that fears
he has sinned against the Holy Ghost.
~William Bridge~

Armed and Dangerous

For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, so that I destroyed those who hated me.

2 Samuel 22:40-41

David was armed and dangerous in battle. He would not be someone you would want to face on the battlefield. God had given him incredible strength. In Biblical times when an enemy was subdued the victor placed their foot on the necks of those defeated. It was a sign of their humiliation in defeat. In victory, King David could make the decision to put his enemies to death or if merciful, order them to become his slaves.
As Christians, we must be armed for a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-18), to be able to stand against the demonic forces that fiercely oppose us:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
These demonic forces influence and work through people who are not yielded to God. Jesus told the Pharisees––religious leaders that opposed Him:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him (John 8:44).
We have to take account of this truth when dealing with people who come against us. Recognize the true source of their hatred and animosity. Then as Christians, do your uttermost to love them, fully and completely.
…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…
~Matthew 5:44-45~

Our Enemies Obliterated

I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them; neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed. And I have destroyed them and wounded them, so that they could not rise; they have fallen under my feet.

2 Samuel 22:38-39

Notice––God gave David the victory over all his enemies. They fell under his feet because his heart was right before God and he was submitted to Him. David always attributed his victories to the Lord; through Him he was able to be victorious. David made it very clear, in a prayer to the Lord, that he would rely on God’s power and not man’s in Psalm 108:12: Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.
David assured himself of God’s deliverance when he said: Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies (Psalm 60:12). Israel’s enemies would fall in battle––obliterated. As we stand before God in obedience, He is the One who will bring us to a place where our enemies will fall under our feet, fully and completely.
The Godhead works together as One in the plan of salvation towards mankind. In Hebrews 2:7-8, Paul, the apostle, tells us of Jesus Christ who came to earth in submission to the Father’s purpose:
You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
When Jesus took human form, died on the cross for our sins and resurrected in victory, He conquered the devil, who had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14-15), death was placed under Jesus’ feet: Death has been vanquished the last enemy: The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet”
(1 Corinthians 15:26-27).
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~1 Corinthians 15:57~

Shield of Salvation

You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me; so my feet did not slip.

2 Samuel 22:36-37

David often described God as the shield of his salvation. Divinely, the LORD protected David––as if an invisible shield was all around him; his enemy’s weapons could not penetrate the Lord’s powerful barrier. Many enemies sought David’s life, but God––his shield, caused him to be unafraid. He wrote:
LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side (Psalm 3:1-6, NIV).
David mentioned that God’s gentleness had made Him great. This is an attribute of God that is not often realized. Imagine, the incredible power of God and how gently He had worked in David’s life. God strengthened him, took him from being a shepherd boy to being a hero––the King of Israel.
Jesus is the Creator of the universe––all powerful, yet He exhibited His gentleness and meekness on earth. During Palm Sunday, a week before His death, He entered Jerusalem. Matthew 21:5 described Christ’s character: “Tell the daughter of Zion, behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Imagine, the gentleness of God working in my life––it is so cool. He has led my life, taken me from fury to freedom. The Lord took an angry youth and through His gentleness, made me into a Pastor––amazing, amazing!
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
~Philippians 4:5~

Trained for Warfare

He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

2 Samuel 22:34-35

David was a man of war––the Lord had given him the agility of a deer, he was swift on his feet. He reached high places, giving him an advantage point over his enemies below. David’s hands were strengthened by God in battle; whether he used a sling and a stone, sword and shield or bending a bow of bronze––every time he was able to kill his enemy.
Once you become a Christian, you have to realize that you have entered into a spiritual warfare and that it takes training. The Apostle Paul encouraged young Timothy, who was like a son, in the faith to him, to have the mindset of a disciplined soldier:
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Paul, used a picture of a soldier, to instruct Christians of the spiritual weaponry made available to them in Ephesians 6:10-18. If they used all the pieces of armor he described, a believer would be enabled to stand against their enemy. Paul said: Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
I love this theme––Christians need to understand that we are to be like regimented soldiers; our hands must be trained to do warfare against Satan. If we are to defeat our enemy we must be diligent to use every piece of armor obtainable to us. Ask yourself, “Before I leave my home every day, have I disciplined myself, to put on the whole armor of God?”
It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight.
~J. Gresham Machen~

There is Only One God

For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.

2 Samuel 22:32-33

Notice how many times David is extolling his God. David gave to God, all the glory and honor. He praised Him for the strength and power he received to live out his adventurous life. David declares, there is no one else like our God! There is no comparison––none that exist apart from the LORD. Isaiah 45:5-6 voices the same truth: I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God beside Me. Later, when David’s son King Solomon blessed the people of Israel, he hoped that they would see God’s hand on the nation and that: …all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other (1 Kings 8:60).
God is our Creator and He desires that all men would come to know Him.
Yet, there are so many people, still today, who bow down to futile idols––made by men. They are senseless and useless and God describes the idiocy in worshipping them: the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell (Deuteronomy 4:28).
In a world full of religious idolatry, there will be many paths presented to you as ways to God. It has caused many people to become confused about salvation. The plain truth, pure and simple is that: … there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all… (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
Always remember religion is man’s attempt to reach God; those self-righteous efforts will not succeed. God has reached down to us through Jesus Christ; who died on the cross for our sins. He is the only way to God: Jesus said to His disciple Thomas: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.
~Isaiah 43:11~

God’s Proven Words

As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD is proven;He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

2 Samuel 22:31

David professed that God’s Word was reliable; His Word had been tried and tested within his own life. Imagine, everything that God had promised David would come to pass, even in the future, after his death; the promised Messiah would come from his lineage––amazing! Jesus Christ came from the lineage of King David, just as Isaiah prophesied:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it … the zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
We can trust the Scriptures; the Bible is the inerrant Word of God:
…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit
(2 Peter 1:20-21).
God’s character is truth, He has said in His Word that …those who call on the name of Jesus will be saved (Romans 10:13). Through Christ we have the hope of eternal life: …which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Titus 2:1). Do you trust God’s Word by faith?
God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken,
and will He not make it good?
~Numbers 23:19~

A Light in the Darkness

“For You are my lamp, O LORD; The LORD shall enlighten my darkness.For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall.

2 Samuel 22:29-30

Notice, in this song, all the personal pronouns David used to let us know he had a relationship with the Lord. God enabled him to do so much––the LORD was David’s God! He illustrates the illuminating power of His God in his life; darkness was vanquished and God’s light brought strength and relief from any evil that tried to befall his steps.
How about other people? We live in a spiritually dark world where evil and corruption are all about us. There is also the darkness that comes from not knowing or believing in Jesus; those people have no spiritual light within them. They are spiritually dead in their sin (Ephesians 2:1). Satan would like them to remain in that fallen sinful state:
Whose minds the god of this age [Satan] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Corinthians 4:4).
What is the light of the Gospel? Jesus, came to earth to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be forgiven and have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus declared to us who He is: …Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus entered the darkness of this world and brought with Him the light of the Gospel message (John 1:1-4).
If you do not know God and your life is in darkness why not ask Jesus, the Light of the world, to come into your life today? Then you can you say with David––that the LORD is your God!
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
~Psalm 118:28~

Are you Humble or Haughty?

You will save the humble people; but Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.

2 Samuel 22:28

David knew the character of God––how the Lord hates the sin of pride but He helps the humble. The danger of pride enters a person’s heart when God begins to use their life in a mighty way. They come to a place where they think they are great. Then they stop relying on the Lord to do His work and begin to neglect God’s Word and prayer. When you get into a place of pride, believe me, God will take you down. As God cast down Satan, like lightening (Luke 10:18), He will humble you––big time.
When people begin to gather around a leader, they develop pride and forget that it was God who brought the people. The Lord is the One who adds people to the church: …And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). That leader needs to understand this sobering thought––God can also take away the people.
We know David was getting ready to end his race––to go be with the Lord. God, through this amazing song, allows us to see the genuine heart of His servant David. It is so obvious he had the heart of God––he was aligned with His plans and purposes. Knowing the heart of God is so important. Because when God does a work in our lives, as he did with David, we should be able to share with others what great things He has done for us as we exalt His name. Before you end your race, ask yourself, “Do I have the heart of God?” It comes through walking humbly with God:
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).
What is the condition of your heart––humble or haughty?
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
~James 4:6~

The Infinite Character of God

“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.

2 Samuel 22:26-27

David, during his life, emanated the infinite character of God; he understood the ways of God and desired to be like Him. David had experienced God’s mercy himself and became a merciful king. God’s character should be reflected in the lives of His children––Christians, who have become set apart from this world, have become God’s sons and daughters: “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
When Jesus taught the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ he spoke to His disciples concerning the blessedness of having these Christian characteristics:
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy… Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God… (Matthew 5:7-8).
David declared God’s ways to be perfect––blameless: As for God, His way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31); Jesus in, Matthew 5:48 set a high standard for His children: Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. There is a strong correlation of blessings when walking in obedience and in accordance to God’s Word: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! (Psalm 119:1). The Apostle Paul also instructed Christians to:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation (Philippians 2:14-15, NIV).
Will you allow God to build in you His character as you obey His Word?
…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…
~2 Peter 1:5~

Keeping Yourself from Sin

For all His judgments were before me; and as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also blameless before Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in His eyes.

2 Samuel 22:23-25

David had excellent principles in his life––except in the case of Bathsheba. David, as a man after God’s own heart, lived by God’s judgments and statues and never departed from them:
David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kings 15:5).
David in his relationship with God; asked the Lord to cleanse his life from sin. Through God’s tender mercies––He removed the stain of his sin and made him spotless (Psalm 51). David knew the power and authority of God’s Word; it kept him from continuous sin.
We should underline 2 Samuel 22:23 in our Bibles, as a reminder of how important the Word of God is in our lives. If we want to keep ourselves from sin, we must pay attention to God’s Word every single day. Psalm 119:9 tells us: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
Christians must obey God’s Word. The Bible is not a book of rules and regulations, as many people think. Obedience to God naturally stems from having a love relationship with Him. Second John 1:6 simply explains: This is love, that we walk according to His commandments…
Christians must not only read their Bible but obey what is written in it.
“The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
~D.L Moody~

God My Righteousness

The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness;according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

2 Samuel 22:21-22

David continued to give God praise because the Lord had done so much for him. We do not see David murmuring or complaining towards the end of his life, he was content. All he wanted to do, in personal adoration, was worship, praise and love God. He had his eyes on the
Lord––his shield and his strength. David’s heart was very thankful to God because he understood how He had mightily used his life.
Understand this, David was made righteous by his faith in God. Despite his failures he kept the ways of the Lord. God had blessed His servant David; he never departed from Him. Now with praise on his lips, David would finish his race well and he looked forward to being in God’s presence. Psalm 23 is a reflection of David’s life and his journey’s end:
…He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:3, 6).
God was David’s righteousness, from the time he was a boy into his old age, the Lord led him on the right path. What path have you chosen to walk on in life? Has Christ become your righteousness? Do you keep the Lord’s commands? Will you determine in your heart to finish well?
Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness… Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” ~Jeremiah 23:5-6~

The Lord’s Delight

He [God] delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me;For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.

2 Samuel 22:18-20

David was very concerned as he wrote about what had happened in his life. David’s enemies were strong, they hated him and it seemed as if his enemies had the upper hand. When David’s enemies saw he was susceptible to attack they threatened him––surely he would perish.
But notice David’s perspective––his eyes were on the Lord. David brought attention to the One who delivered him in His praise song. God had given him the divine support he needed throughout the different challenges he faced. Why did God deliver David? He delighted in him––amazing!
Who is your enemy today? When I think of our enemy of course Satan comes to mind. But we also have people that hate us and Satan will use them to oppose us in every way. When we are walking and loving God with all our heart, the Lord is with us––fighting our battles. God will deliver you and become your greatest support.
The Trinity together created the world and those who inhabit the earth (Genesis 1:1, 26). We are but dust: For He [God] knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). So we could ask with the Psalmist: What is man that You [God] are mindful of him? (Psalm 8:4); but Psalm 16:3 reveals how the Lord sees us: “As for the saints [believers in Christ] who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” Can you believe that?
Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.
~Proverbs 8:30-31~

Feel like your Drowning?

He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters.

2 Samuel 22:17

With heaven as God’s throne and earth as His footstool (Isaiah 66:1); God can, at any time, reach down from above and help rescue His people. Look at what God has done in your life and my life. Many times, I have been at the point of drowning; my problems and situations become like the waves that pull me under but God was there to help save me.
I relate myself to Peter, who had stepped out of the boat and walked out onto the stormy sea. When he took His eyes off Jesus and placed them on the storm that is when he began to sink. At the point of going under the waves, the Lord reached down and saved him (Matthew 14:28-31). When the sea was calmed the disciples understood who Jesus was: Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
When we take our eyes off Jesus, we quickly become overwhelmed by our circumstances––as if sinking in a stormy sea. This is why it is so important to spend time in God’s Word building a relationship with Him. We need to remember who He is: omnipotent––all powerful; omniscient––all knowing and omnipresent––Jesus, God’s Son is always with me.
I am reminded of another important point as I read these verses;
Jesus was sent from above––He came from heaven to earth to be our Savior. First John 4:9 tells us: In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
When life makes you feel like you are drowning; remember who your God is and what your Lord has done for you. Keep your eyes on Jesus!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
~Isaiah 43:2~

Our Indescribable God

Then the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were uncovered, at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of His nostrils.

2 Samuel 22:16

David expounds his in-depth knowledge of God’s power. In utter rebuke, the Lord can blast the earth with His breath through His nostrils. The force would be strong enough to remove the surface of the seas, exposing its deep channels—the hidden course for the currents of ocean waters to move over. The earth’s crust would be uncovered, beneath the thin surface; we would see the foundation of the world––incredible!
Imagine, as David tries to describe our eternal God to us, our minds cannot even grasp His infinity, majesty or glory! He is omnipotent––all powerful and often indescribable! We know God is the creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1); He created the dry ground and the waters: …God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas (Genesis 1:9-10). Psalm 8:1 tells us: the fish of the sea… pass through the paths of the seas. God also set boundaries for the waters:
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it (Jeremiah 5:22).
God asked Job: Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt? (Job 38:25). David, Job and Jeremiah knew God intimately and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, what they each wrote, gives to us a glimpse of God’s limitless, creative power.
Do you know the Creator of heaven and earth personally?
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
~Psalm 121:2~

The Voice of the Most High

“The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice.He sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning bolts, and He vanquished them.

2 Samuel 22:14-15

David described the magnitude of God’s voice as He thundered from heaven. David wrote about the awesome power of God’s voice:
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters the voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon (Psalm 29:3-5).
David spent a lifetime listening and waiting to hear God’s voice. He needed guidance and direction. Through cultivating a relationship with God, David had the blessing of walking with God all the days of his life––He heard God when He spoke.
When Elijah had run away from Jezebel, who sought his life, his thoughts and mind were so troubled that he wished God to take his life! (1 Kings 19:2-5). In his discouragement he needed to hear from the Lord:
the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains . . . but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Are you troubled, discouraged or in need of guidance? If you want to hear the voice of God you must remove all distractions. Find a place of solitude to sit quietly and prayerfully as you read His Word––then He will speak in a still small voice.
Be still, and know that I am God
~Psalm 46:10~

The Kindled Coals of Fire

He made darkness canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Himcoals of fire were kindled.

2 Samuel 22:12-13

Notice, the brightness of God’s glory alone was enough to set cold black coals ablaze––kindled. The Prophet Isaiah described the glory of God’s throne room in Isaiah 6:1: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
God is Holy. The Seraphim––the highest of the created angelic beings, proclaim the holiness of God as they flew above the altar, they cried: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).
Imagine, Isaiah, a mere mortal man; stood in the presence of a holy God. He saw the Shekinah glory of the Lord as He sat in His magnificent throne room––can you believe that? How do you think he responded? Isaiah wrote his God-fearing reaction:
Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts (Isaiah 6:5).
Isaiah confessed his own sinfulness and the sins of his people. Then one of the Seraphims took a kindled coal from the fire, with it, touched Isaiah’s mouth and cleansed him (Isaiah 6:6-7). Only then, was Isaiah ready to be sent by God, as a Prophet, to his people.
After reading about the holiness of God, what impacted your life? How will you now respond to Him? Remember, a man must be first cleansed by God, before he can be used of God; he must be set apart––holy.
“Be holy, for I am holy.”
~1 Peter 1:16~

The Wings of the Wind

He bowed the heavens also, and came downwith darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub, and flew;and He was seen upon the wings of the wind.

2 Samuel 22:10-11

God dwells in the heights of the heavens (Psalm 115:3); His presence fills the heavenly skies. He is omnipresent––everywhere at all times. Psalm 139:7-10 further sheds light on David’s thoughts, he wrote:
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
As we meditate on these verses we can come to a better understanding of how God is everywhere; we cannot hide from His presence. He is inescapable––neither can we out run God. In the tribulation period––the end of days in earth’s history; men will try to hide from God’s glorious presence and from the anger of the Lamb––Jesus.
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (Revelation 6:15-16).
Never hide from God, repent and ask forgiveness of your sins. Then you will never be afraid to see His face––you will love His appearing.
…there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
~2 Timothy 4:8~

God’s Supremacy

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth;coals were kindled by it.

2 Samuel 22:8-9

In the song David wrote, God is shown in His supremacy over the earth. He is omnipotent––all powerful. He is in full control of everything that He does. David described a God who was angry, with smoke from His nostrils that lit coals to glow with heat.
There is no such thing as mother-nature––only God. He is in control of all earthly elements. Remember when the disciples were caught in the middle of a storm, on the Galilee Sea? Jesus spoke calming the wind and waters. What did the disciples realize about Jesus’ supremacy? Mark 4:41 tells us: …they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Then there were the three children of Israel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to be thrown bound into the mist of a burning, fiery furnace (Daniel 3:23). The king was astonished when they did not die! He and his leaders saw that:
… these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them (Daniel 3:27).
The king told his counselors that he saw them all unbound and a fourth man: “…like the Son of God” walking with them in the fire (Daniel 3:24-25). God was in complete command of the fire. In times of testing and trial, trust in God’s supremacy over the situation.
I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.
~Isaiah 44:6~

God Hears our Cries

When the waves of death surrounded me, the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.

2 Samuel 22:5-7

Notice, David’s prayer as he cries out to God in utter distress––Lord I am calling upon you because I have nobody else to call upon. So he prayed so that God would help him to take care of his enemies. He described the emotions of his distress; death enclosed around him like the raging waves of the sea. Floods of ungodly behavior swept towards him as if to swallow him whole. He felt the emotional instabilities of his perplexing anxieties and his inner fears.
Sorrows of Sheol––the place of the dead (Luke 16:19-31), became a reality to David. Thoughts of death and dying became in the forefront of his mind. But he knew, without doubt, that his prayerful cries for help would be heard by God. Notice David said: my God, he had a personal relationship with the living God and His ears were open to David’s cries.
When circumstances come upon us what do we do? Call upon the Lord? You may have enemies, problems or situations in your life right now but understand you can call upon the Lord. God is always there with an open ear to hear. Imagine, when you cry out your prayers go into the ears of God––it is so cool. He listens to your prayers and becomes your helper.
It is really important to examine the condition of our hearts when we come to God in prayer. Sin separates us from God. We must have a clean heart before the Lord. Do you have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ? Our first cry to God must be that of a repentant sinner.
For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
~Romans 10:13~

Calling on the LORD

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;so shall I be saved from my enemies.

2 Samuel 22:4

David has come to the end of his mission––he is in his final days. As we step backward into his life we can see how he continued to call upon the LORD. David, as a shepherd boy, was chosen by God for one of the greatest tasks––to take down Goliath. He began his life as a warrior; with a God-given call to lead. David desired his life to be guided by the Lord, and constantly communicated with the LORD––he called on His name.
You can always recognize leaders, they have a certain charisma. I can actually look at different people and know already––that person is going to be a leader; they are going to do something with their lives. Why? They are people who have learned to call on the name of the Lord.
On this one occasion Chuck Smith made such an impact in my life. I was privileged to spend time with him in Japan. After Chuck taught his message, we went into the hotel. The next day, he blew my mind––at five in the morning, Chuck was outside doing his devotions and praying.
This is a daily discipline that I have learned in my life; I cannot go anywhere unless I have first completed my devotions––spending time alone with God. I need to call on the name of the Lord so He can direct my steps and guide me in what to say to other people.
I have found that there is a great weakness among the leadership in churches and with people in the body of Christ. They neglect to have a disciplined devotional time with the Lord. Imagine, their day has started in the flesh and they will have no defense against Satan. These people can expect major problems in their lives. Wake up––we are living in a time when men need once more to call on the name of the LORD.
…Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
~Genesis 4:26~

Knowing God by Name

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.

2 Samuel 22:3

David continued to pour out of his heart in song to the Lord. He had his full confidence and trust in the Lord––he knew he was never alone. King David reflected on the strength the Lord had given to him. In Psalm 18:1 he wrote: I will love You, O LORD, my strength. He called God his shield. As a man of war he would have used his shield to protect himself from the enemies arrows. God was a shield of safety to David; He had protected him through his entire lifetime and kept him safe from all his enemies.
Saul hunted David day after day, but God did not let Saul find him. God had given fortified places for David and his men to stay and hide. He hid in the cave of Adullam, camped in the strongholds of the wilderness, mountains, desert and in the region of Engedi (1 Samuel 23:14). But Saul continued his pursuit of David and said: I’ll track him down, even if I have to search every hiding place in Judah!” (1 Samuel 23:23).
At one time, Saul came so close to capturing David, but time and time again God gave him a way of escape. In remembrance, David named the place where he camped––the Rock of Escape (1 Samuel 23:28). The Lord had saved David from violence. He watched over David and let nothing happen to him. David proclaimed Him as his Savior and the horn of his salvation.
Imagine, in the same way God protects us! He has given to us a Savior, Jesus Christ who has delivered us from Satan’s power. He is the Rock of our salvation (Psalm 95:1). God has made a way of escape from eternal death (John 3:16). Underline and meditate on His names in Isaiah 9:6.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
~Proverbs 18:10~

Songs of Deliverance

Then David spoke to the LORD the words of this song, on the day when the LORD had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said: The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;…

2 Samuel 22:1-2

David, towards the end of his life wrote this song in reflection of how the Lord had delivered him from his enemies and from Saul. This expression is almost identical to Psalm 18. In the song, he proclaims to others his personal knowledge of the Lord by showing who He had become to him over the years of his life––God always had His hand on David’s life.
As a warrior, David was my hero. Even from his youth, as a humble shepherd boy; he had grown to know God as his deliverer. The Lord delivered him from wild beasts while he watched over his sheep. David had learned to place his confidence in God. When he came against Goliath he told the arrogant giant:
…I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you (1 Samuel 17:45-46).
As he matured, God delivered him from all his enemies in war and from King Saul; who became mad with jealously against him. Not only was God his deliverer, He was also his Rock––his source of strength and stability. The LORD was his fortress; a place of protection where God surrounded him and he could rest safely in His presence.
When we face difficulties, we too can grow in our knowledge of God through His many names. As you learn of His faithfulness your confidence in Him will grow. Then we will be able to sing to the Lord songs of praise.
You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
~Psalm 32:7~

The Strength of Team Work

Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

2 Samuel 21:20-22

Notice, yet another giant, this time with six fingers and six toes! According to 1 Chronicles 27:11 the giant’s name was Lahmi, meaning: my bread, my war. Perhaps his name reflected on his own self confidence; the same as his dead relative Goliath, the Philistine Champion who defied the armies of Israel. As David took down Goliath, Jonathan, David’s nephew, was the next man to slaughter a giant––Lahmi perished.
As David’s men worked tirelessly together as a team, one by one, all four giants were struck down. In triumph they would have been able to rejoice over their tremendous victories. It is very important to understand that if they had been divided the Philistines would have won these battles.
When God places a team together there should be a complete unity. It is important for Christians to be together in everything they say and do. As they band together, there will be strength in their team work and they will be able to win the battles and defeat the enemy. That is why Paul emphasized the importance of unity in the body of Christ by saying:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Do you promote unity or disunity in the body of Christ? Your answer may determine the battles outcome.
Be of the same mind toward one another.
~Romans 12:16~

Facing the Giants

Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

2 Samuel 21:18-19

Imagine, Israel went from one war to another with the Philistines. During each war they faced a different giant but every time they were defeated. Sibbechai was one of David’s guards and the eighth captain over an eighth division of his army––24,000 men (1 Chronicles 27:11). Sibbechai’s name means: Ya intervenes, copse like or weaver. Elhanan’s name meant: God has been gracious. These men were incredible fighters––disciplined, tough warriors who could take down giants.
When the children of Israel where about to enter into the Promised Land, Moses sent ahead twelve spies who were to spy out the land (Numbers 13:1-25). Out of the twelve, ten returned with a bad report; terrified of the giants who lived there. In fear they told the people:
There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight (Numbers 13:33).
But Joshua and Caleb were ready to go into the Promised Land and conquer the giants. Caleb in faith encouraged the people: “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”
We may face many Goliaths in our lives, but we must have faith in the Lord. He will give us His strength to overcome them.
…for the battle is not yours, but God’s…
~2 Chronicles 20:15~

In Need of Assistance

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

2 Samuel 21:17

Ishbi-Benob, was one of four giants related to Goliath. He was at the point of killing David, who was an amazing fighter from his youth––but all of a sudden he needed help. Abishai quickly came to his aid. The men decided and swore that David should no longer go out to battle because they loved and valued their king. They regarded David as the lamp of Israel. He had led them by the Word of God; which had been as a light to their path (Psalm 119:105).
It is good for every one of us to understand, as we grow older, we will need aid from others in the form of prayer. I know that I can rely on God to fight my battles but I also want faithful people to help come alongside me, on their knees––through intercession. When we intercede for a person we raise their hands up to accomplish the work of God.
Paul exhorted Christians to use their spiritual weaponry (Ephesians 6:1-10). It is very important to take the stewardship of prayer seriously. God has given us a spiritual weapon––prayer. Paul told believers to be:
…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—(Ephesians 6:18).
When the enemy attacks, Christians should bind together in fervent prayer. We are on the same team! We should stand behind each other to help as prayer warriors. Why not take the time to begin a prayer journal? Write down the names of those you are interceding for and then see how God through prayer, assists them.
Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you…I will help you.
~Isaiah 41:10~

Growing Faint?

When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David.

2 Samuel 21:15-16

David has been in battle for so many years. He had killed a lot of people in war but there came a time, when he was almost killed himself. David became faint and Ishbi-Benob, a giant who was related to the Goliath, whom David slew as a youth, came towards him. His bronze spearhead weighed seven and a half pounds! The giant attacked, ready to kill with his new sharp drawn sword. The battle was fierce and David needed help.
Many Christian become faint as they battle against Satan, the world and the flesh; as they are constantly coming against us. (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 2:16). Satan uses new strategy against us every day. He tries to take us down spiritually. The fastest way Christians loose the battle and get placed on the shelf––is through sexual sin. God cannot use them while they remain in sin (1 John 1:9-10).
If we are to have victory in our Christian life, we must have our full spiritual armor on and be ready to meet the enemy every day (Ephesians 6:10-18). It is important to have a devotional life with the Lord. How else can we renew our strength? The Bible teaches us in Isaiah 40:31:
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength;They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Have you grown faint in the battle against the enemy as he bears down on your life? Spend time with God, be renewed and ask Him for help.
Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
~Psalm 54:4~

Prayer for the Land

So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father. So they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land.

2 Samuel 21:13-14

David gathered the bones of Saul and Jonathan along with the seven men the Gibeonites hung from Saul’s household. Saul and his son were buried in Benjamin, in Zelah, a town which was thought to be his birthplace. Rizpah’s heart must have been relieved to finally have a proper burial for her sons. God answered the prayer for the land as they did exactly what they were told to do––obedience, obedience.
Notice, in California, there is no rain––we are suffering a terrible drought. What is the reason for the land’s lack of water? Have you ever thought about that? Then again, why is it that across America and the world there are enormous tornadoes and tempests? It is not mother nature––I can tell you that. God is in control. Why then? Sin!
What does God require for the land to be healed? It is genuine humility before the Lord in prayer, true repentance and a people who would fully seek the face of their God. Then once more, He would open His ears to them, forgive their sin and heal their land. It all hinges on one word––if:
…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land
(2 Chronicles 2:14).
Real repentance produces confession and forsaking of sin, reconciliation and restitution, separation from the world, submission to the lordship of Christ and filling of the Holy Spirit.
~Vance Havner~

Dead Bones

And David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. Then David went and took the bones of Saul, and the bones of Jonathan his son, from the men of Jabesh Gilead who had stolen them from the street of Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, after the Philistines had struck down Saul in Gilboa.

2 Samuel 21:11-12

After hearing of Rizpah devotion to her sons; David also thought of Saul and Jonathan. In Jewish culture, a body would not continue to hang; they buried their dead the same day. For them not to be buried was an indignity––a humiliating disgrace. Notice the heart of David, he did not have to go and take the bones of Saul and Jonathan–– his best friend, from the Philistines; but the Lord had placed in him the desire to do so.
Remember, David knew what kind of father Saul had been to Jonathan. How Saul had come against him and yet he loved him. Instead of seeking vengeance David placed Saul into the hand of God. Imagine, Saul had known the Lord but he had stopped listening to Him. God was no longer speaking to Saul––he was in a very empty place in his life.
Prior to the war with the Philistines––Saul went to the witch of Endor to receive counsel from Samuel, who she had brought up from the dead. Facing battle, would you go to a witch? No, you would go to God! Samuel had no words of comfort and said: tomorrow you and your sons will be with me (1 Samuel 28:19); in battle they would be among the dead.
Now excavators have uncovered Beth Shan, the site reveals a beautiful city. When I visit Israel and see this city, I have a picture that has remained in my mind of Saul and Jonathan who hung in Beth Shan at the gates. Reflect on your own life––is God no longer speaking to you? Check your heart; is there any sin? Then expect an empty life.
Sin denies man the power of God in this life
and the presence of God in the next.
~John Blanchard~

A Mothers Grief

Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.

2 Samuel 21:10

Rizpah suffered a mother’s grief that became public. In her great devotion to her sons, even in their death, she risked her all and endured all kinds of weather; to fend away any beast or bird that would devour the flesh of her beloved sons. Her love was expressed for her sons in her dedication to protect their dead bodies. She continued her stance on the rock for the duration of the harvest time until the late rains; which started in April, usually lasting until October––amazing!
As parents we can identify with Rizpah in her grief; it is heartbreaking to lose a child no matter how old they are––they will always be our children. In life, our hearts are often overwhelmed with concerns for their welfare. We need only to stand on the Rock, Jesus Christ when our hearts overwhelm us. Psalm 61:2 tells us how to cope: From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
How we need to always intercede for our children while they are living. Job was a man who prayed often for his children:
…he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly (Job 1:5).
Where do you stand when circumstances become overwhelmingly difficult? It should be our Rock––Jesus Christ.
…For there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.
~1 Samuel 2:2~

Delivered to Die

So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the hill before the LORD. So they fell, all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

2 Samuel 21:8-9

The men chosen to be delivered to die, were Amoni and Mephiboseth, two sons from Saul’s concubine Rizpah’s. Michal, Saul’s youngest daughter, was given to David as his first wife (1 Samuel 14:49; 18:27-28), and later to spite him, Saul gave her to Phalti (1 Samuel 25:44). Once King David took her back but she ridiculed him as he danced before the Lord. For her disrespect she remained childless (2 Samuel 6:16, 23).
However, Michal had cared for her older sister Merab sons, as it is believed her sister had died. Rizpah and Merab’s sons were hanged before the LORD. Now you may think that God is unjust and question His character––but remember this happened because of Saul. There is the law of reaping and sowing (Galatians 6:7), that must be understood. Take into account that the tribe of Gibeon would only be satisfied with these men’s blood.
If you go back and read the Old Testament, you will find so many lessons concerning reaping and sowing. After you read the New Testament, you should read the Old Testament. Then you will come to understand why these tragic things happened. Everything fits together perfectly; the Old Testament is the best commentary for the New Testament. The Holy Spirit reveals the order and the Scriptures will begin to make sense.
Have you taken the time to read the Bible all the way through?
The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.
~Augustine~

Spared by an Oath

…And the king said, “I will give them.” But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the LORD’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

2 Samuel 21:6-7

Saul foolishly broke an oath before the Lord but David, fearing God, kept his oath before Him. Mephibosheth, who had already received much mercy and grace, had enjoyed the blessings of eating at the kings table. He was counted as a son of David’s for Jonathan’s sake (2 Samuel 9:1-13). David and Jonathan made an oath:
…but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Let the LORD require it at the hand of David’s enemies” (1 Samuel 20:15-16).
Saul’s murderous anger towards David caused him to flee. But before he left he spoke again with Jonathan. As they parted the solemn oath was reiterated between them:
Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever (1 Samuel 20:42).
David had a covenant of faithfulness––he kept his word and his integrity; Mephibosheth would be spared from death. Imagine, we too are spared from eternal death because God keeps His oath to spare us from judgment (Hebrew 9:15). Be thankful that Jesus stands between us and judgment.
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous.
~1 John 2:1~

Blood for Blood

Then they answered the king, “As for the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the territories of Israel, let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD chose.”

2 Samuel 21:5-6

Saul’s sin was laid out before King David; he had planned to wipe them out from the territories of Israel. The Gibeonites had required the necessary settlement–– this was a tribe who was seeking blood for blood. They wanted revenge and asked for seven men from Saul’s lineage to be hung before the Lord. David was sensitive to their request he knew the righteous judgments of the Lord.
David wrote in Psalm 19:9: The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. Saul’s character did not have integrity. He had hurt people and now people from within his own family would pay the terrible consequences. Seven men would be delivered to the Gibeonites.
Seriously, do we not realize that whatever we do when we sin falls back onto our own families? Many Christians, who hurt other people or do not keep their word, have damaged their character and integrity. Understand once our integrity is lost it is very difficult to get it back. As with David’s life, it is God who can restore integrity through repentance (Psalm 51).
Learn and memorize this important verse about integrity from the book of Proverbs 11:3: The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
In the fear of the Lord, prayerfully ask the Lord to give you a heart of integrity.
Integrity of heart is indispensable.
~John Calvin~

The Price of Atonement

And the Gibeonites said to him, “We will have no silver or gold from Saul or from his house, nor shall you kill any man in Israel for us.” So he said, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”

2 Samuel 21:4

King Saul broke the covenant between Israel and the Gibeonites when he went to war against them. David asked them what payment would satisfy their grievance. He offered whatever payment was necessary. The Gibeonites flatly refused any monetary atonement. Neither did they accept the death of any man of Israel––so what would they ask?
What about our atonement? Our atonement simply means: the state of being at one or being reconciled. As sinners we are estranged from God. Silver and gold could never pay for the forgiveness of our sins or reconcile us to God. First Peter 1: 18-19 tells us the purchase price:
…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
God’s requirement for our sins to be forgiven was met in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God. He became incarnated, God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14) Jesus Christ is sinless, innocent as a spotless lamb His sacrifice on the cross obtained our reconciliation with God (Romans 5:8-10).
There are many people who think they can get into heaven by being good––apart from Jesus Christ. Other people are religious; they think their good works will gain them entrance into eternity. Religion is a road that leads men to spiritual death. Some believe in the false philosophy: all roads lead to heaven. But Jesus said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. So who is the person of Jesus Christ to you?
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
~John 1:29~

Blessed Inheritance

Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?”

2 Samuel 21:3

As the king of Israel David knew the law of God; he had a duty to make restitution for the injustice towards the Gibeonites. Innocent blood had been spilled, he pleaded with them for a settlement, any atonement that would bring back God’s blessing upon the land of Israel.
Imagine, every one of us have sinned against God. What atonement is there to appease His anger towards us? What has God done for us? He sent Jesus Christ to make atonement for ours sins! Through His shed blood on the cross we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. As His servants we have a duty to tell others what God has done to save them:
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
We have become incredibly blessed by God. We are His inheritance––amazing! We have become His people and have obtained eternal life.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance… after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance… (Ephesians 1:11, 13-14).
Have you made restitution for your sins through Jesus Christ?
…we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
~2 Corinthians 5:20~

Lasting Consequences of our Disobedience

So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah.

2 Samuel 21:2

Imagine, even though Saul was dead, his disobedience from the past had caused the nation of Israel to suffer in their future––three long years of famine. They were still paying a high price for his rebellious and stubborn leadership as their king. He had fully ignored the treaty with the Gibeonites that was established by Joshua and the rulers of Israel:
Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them. This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them” (Joshua 9:19-20).
David understood the seriousness of the famine. He knew that because the treaty was not honored, the Lord’s anger was aroused. As the King of Israel, through wisdom, he would need to find a peaceful solution to appease God’s anger against the land of Israel.
I believe with all my heart, that if only we would stop to think how our sin not only affects us but others, we might reconsider our actions. The next generation can suffer the lasting consequences of our disobedience. Think about our children and our grandchildren?
People either obey or disobey God in their lives. Have you evaluated your life? Remember David repented of his sins and despite his failure he will always be known as: a man after God’s own heart. When you leave behind your legacy, what do you really want to be known for?
[David] the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by… God…
~2 Samuel 23:1~

A Prayer of Inquiry

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.”

2 Samuel 21:1

We have almost come to the end of 2 Samuel. In these concluding words, there was judgeship, given by the Lord concerning the reign of Saul and David. At this time, Israel had endured three years of famine. Once again David inquired of the Lord. He needed to find the reason for the famine.
The Lord answered David. During the end of the Philistine wars, Saul had fought against the Gibeonites (1 Samuel 14:47-48; 52). His aggression had kindled the wrath of God, as there was a sworn oath that existed between them for peace.
The children of Israel, in the Promised Land, were conquering the nations. There came to them, two ragged men with old provisions, as if from a far country. They asked to make a covenant with Israel and to become their servants (Joshua 9:3-6). But they had deceived Israel; they were from Gibeon, a hill city about 5 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Joshua had failed to inquire of the Lord. Israel had sworn, before the Lord, to let them live. Israel had to honor their treaty Joshua 9:14-15 explains:
…but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.
We need to learn to inquire of the Lord when there are problems or important decisions to be made in our lives. God will answer if there is no sin. Keep your ears open to what the Holy Spirit has to say to you. Be careful before you speak, God expects us to honor our word.
…let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’
~Matthew 5:37~

Established Leadership

And Joab was over all the army of Israel; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; Adoram was in charge of revenue; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Sheva was scribe; Zadok and Abiathar were the priests; and Ira the Jairite was a chief minister under David.

2 Samuel 20:23-26

Notice since Amasa had been taken out of the way, Joab was the man reestablished over all of David’s army. His leadership position was gained by his own doing. His heart was so unclean before the Lord. Whereas, Jehoiada, Adoram, Jehoshaphat, Sheva, Zadok, Abiathar and Ira, had been established by David, in their leadership offices, for the benefit of the kingdom. These men were loyal to the Lord; chosen to lift up the hands of their king by doing their duties faithfully.
Let me say there is a really important principle to learn from Joab’s actions. There is a real problem when people try to force themselves into ministry. When people want popularity instead of genuinely wanting to serve the Lord for His glory alone, they later suffer the consequences of failure. They were in a position where God had not called them to be.
Joab was nothing like his king as a leader. David always inquired of the Lord and He answered. When David had backslidden he lost fellowship with God; but the minute he repented he was back waiting on the Lord until He spoke. A good leader always is in tune with God’s voice.
There are many places to be conquered for Jesus Christ––the Church cannot do it alone. It depends on faithful people to lift up the leader’s hands––which is exactly what Chuck Smith taught us. What has God called you to do? Do you recognize the voice of God in your life? At the end of your life will Jesus say: Well done thy good and faithful servant?
Do the best for Christ at the present time.
~Raul Ries~

A Rebel’s End

So the woman said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 20:21-22

The woman in her wisdom unified the people and a city wide search for Sheba began. They were all motivated by their need for survival. It was between the death of one or the death of all. Sheba thought he was safe behind the strong walls; but he was soon discovered and beheaded––his head was thrown out to Joab. Sheba’s rebellion was the cause of his death.
Joab sounded the trumpet of victory and withdrew his army from the city. Everyone went peacefully home to their tents. Joab, with his mission accomplished, would enter back into Jerusalem. King David and his people where no longer in danger of another uprising; there was peace.
A rebellious person will always cause division. They have to be dealt with or they will cause even more havoc. God will deal with the rebels among His chosen people. Because of their sin, He will separate them; they will not be allowed to enter the land of Israel:
I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel… (Ezekiel 20:38).
Separate rebellious persons from among you, to restore unity and peace in your homes––families, place of business or in the church. If their sin is confronted, then they will have the opportunity to repent.
Nobody has ever been convicted of his sinfulness until he has been confronted with the living Lord in his holiness.
~Rolfe Barnard~

Hand Him Over

And Joab answered and said, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not so. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.”

2 Samuel 20:20-21

The wise woman’s words to Joab had worked. He informed her of the reason why he had besieged the city––Sheba had raised his hand against the king in rebellion. As the captain of the king’s army he had now come from Jerusalem to crush this self-exalted rebel. But the forceful decisions he was making in finding Sheba was not God’s perfect will!
Seriously, why do you think Joab was doing this? I believe with all my heart he wanted to come back to David to show him that he loved him and he had done exactly what his king wanted. Then David would think Joab was the only one he could possibly trust in this position.
Then Joab gave the wise woman the solution, hand over the culprit and he would cease the assault. Through the wise woman’s words, Abel, the city known for finding guidance, had found their own peaceful solution to stop the attack on their city. The people would be safe, but Sheba would be sought out. When found, he would be met with a terrible end.
If only people would listen to the wisdom of God’s words. In the Bible, sinners are warned to turn and repent. God is love and desires for all of us to be saved. He has made provision for our salvation (John 3:16). Those who rebel against God will be handed over to His angels and will experience the torments of eternal death. Jesus in a parable warned:
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire… (Matthew 13: 41-42).
…He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
~Matthew 13:43~

Seek Guidance to End Disputes

So she spoke, saying, “They used to talk in former times, saying, ‘They shall surely seek guidance at Abel,’ and so they would end disputes. I am among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?”

2 Samuel 20:18-19

The woman spoke wise words to Joab from over the cities wall. He listened as she reminded him, of previous times; when the city Abel was a place well known to those who sought guidance. Through council any disputes would come to a peaceful end. I am sure she inferred: Why not this situation at hand? What was the cause of assailing the peaceful city?
In her question to Joab the wise woman caused him to think about his rash and unrighteous behavior. Would he really kill innocent and peaceable people, like herself? Would he destroy a city loyal to David? Joab needed to be put in check, his rash actions made no common sense. Perhaps he would listen and discontinue his assault. Maybe she could find out the reason for his attack and find a peaceful solution?
What about us? So much damage can be done when we act on impulse without stopping to pray or ask godly advice from others. Proverbs 19:2 tells us: …it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet. If only we would take this principle to heart.
When we have been given a difficult task to do or have a difficult situation to resolve, the worst thing to do is act hastily. Stop first to pray and then run your plans by a man or woman of wisdom.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
~Proverbs 11:15~

Words from the Wise

Then a wise woman cried out from the city, “Hear, hear! Please say to Joab, ‘Come nearby, that I may speak with you.’” When he had come near to her, the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Hear the words of your maidservant.”And he answered, “I am listening.”

2 Samuel 20:16-17

Joab and his men were determined to force their way into the city. They had come to kill Sheba. Once they had the rebel, they would bring his dead corpse back to David. But notice how Joab is still not connected to the Lord; he was using brute force to achieve his success and promote himself. God had to use this wise woman to speak to him and stop the bloodshed of innocent people living within the city.
Before David became the King of Israel, he was a fugitive, as King Saul wanted him dead. There was in Carmel, a foolish man named Nabal, who was rich with flocks and herds. David had freely protected all that he had in the wilderness. So he sent his men to receive from him supplies. Nabal derided David and his men turned back empty handed (1 Samuel 25:26).
When David, heard Nabal’s reply he immediately arose in anger. Four hundred armed men were headed in Nabal’s direction, with one intent, to wipe him and his household off the face of the earth. Abigail in wisdom intercepted David with gifts and showed him reverence. In humility she apologized for her husband’s disrespect (1 Samuel 25:13-20, 23-25).
God used Abigail to speak to David and she was able to convince him not to shed blood. He listened to her wise advice and said: …blessed is your advice… because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed… (1 Samuel 25:33).
When frustrated and angry will you stop to listen to godly advice?
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice
~Proverbs 12:15~

Surrounded and Besieged

And he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel and Beth Maachah and all the Berites. So they were gathered together and also went after Sheba. Then they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maachah; and they cast up a siege mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart. And all the people who were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down.

2 Samuel 20:14-15

A thorough search throughout all the tribes of Israel continued until Sheba had been found. Joab discovered where he had hidden––there was no place left to run or escape. He was in Abel, a northern city meaning meadow, of Beth Maachah a town at the foot of Hermon––a mountain peak. The Berites were a tribe whose name meant of the well; where they lived became known as the meadow of water. Joab and his men strategically besieged the city and made a ramp to batter down the wall.
Joshua, under the authority of the Commander of the LORD’s army––Jesus Christ; surrounded the city of Jericho. He marched around the city once for six days. Afterwards, on the seventh day, a final march seven times around the city walls was made. (Joshua 5:14; 6:2-3).
Once they had finished, the priests blew a long blast on their ram’s horns, then the people shouted! The walls of the city fell down flat! God had given them the city; it was doomed by the LORD to destruction. No one escaped, except Rahab because she had hidden the spies. By faith she had hung a red cord from her window. Any of her family members, who had entered into her home, were saved (Joshua 2:18; 6:5; 15-17).
Sinners are doomed to eternal destruction; there is no place to run or escape from God’s judgment. But those who acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Savior, receive eternal life (Romans 6:23). Through Christ we are brought into a relationship with God; we are no longer His enemies.
For He [Jesus], Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.
~Ephesians 2:14~

Removal of the Distraction

But Amasa wallowed in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he moved Amasa from the highway to the field and threw a garment over him, when he saw that everyone who came upon him halted. When he was removed from the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

2 Samuel 20:12-13

Without a second thought for Amasa, who lay wallowing in his own blood; Joab with his brother Abishai continued in his pursuit of the rebel Sheba. He could not have thought much of his cousin; as he showed no respect for him in death. Plans for a proper burial, according to their strict Hebrew tradition, were not arranged.
The sight of Amasa, gutted and dead in the middle of the highway made the oncoming men stand still and stare. David had named his nephew their new leader, but now he lay dead––what had happened? The unnamed man moved him out of the way. He placed Amasa’s body in a field and covered him with a garment. Now out of sight; he would no longer be a distraction and the men would continue to follow Joab’s lead.
Today, we see in the news headlines, many murderous atrocities committed against Christians and other people. Such cruel sights can cause us to become very distracted. We may begin to feel insecure because of what is happening in the world around us. We must keep our eyes on the Lord. His Word reminds us that we are fully secure in Him:
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the LORD, who has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10).
Despite wars and the unrest around us we must preach the Gospel.
…necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
~1 Corinthians 9:16~

Following the Favored

Meanwhile one of Joab’s men stood near Amasa, and said, “Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David—follow Joab!”

2 Samuel 20:11

Notice, with Amasa now dead, Joab needed to be promoted. One of his men had to advocate for him as the favored man to follow. These seasoned warriors were loyal to David and had fought alongside Joab as the king’s captain for years. They would have readily followed their familiar chief commander––whether they fully trusted him was debatable. But for now, he had regained his much sought after position, as their captain.
Besides, even though Amasa had been promoted to captain by David, his loyal men knew, in the past, he was chosen captain over Absalom’s army––a lead person in his son’s rebellion. At one time, Amasa was their archenemy, who they had faced on the opposing side of the battle field. The men might not have fully trusted him or given him their allegiance.
Most people will follow the favored; those men who are often popular with the crowds. But what kind of leaders should we follow? Jethro encouraged Moses, as he led the newly formed nation of Israel, to find qualified leaders to help him govern the multitudes. He told Moses: …select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them… (Exodus 18:21).
The twelve disciples also needed godly men to help them serve the people’s arising needs. They met and decided on their qualifications.
Notice how they chose men who were filled with the Holy Spirit:
Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business (Acts 6:3).
Follow the man in whom you see God’s anointing on the forehead.
~Raul Ries~

Assassination

And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not notice the sword that was in Joab’s hand. And he struck him with it in the stomach, and his entrails poured out on the ground; and he did not strike him again. Thus he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.

2 Samuel 20:10

In a usual customary greeting Joab, with his right hand, took his cousin by the beard to kiss him. Treacherously the fallen sword was picked up and it was not noticed by Amasa until too late. Joab being an expert in war, struck his cousin and slashed open his stomach. He just stood there and heartlessly watched as his own cousins entrails poured over the ground. Amasa was assassinated. Inflicted with a lethal wound––he died.
Joab’s betrayal of Amasa went completely against God’s plan for his life. His cruel actions established his own will; instead of allowing God’s will for his future. He acted on his own selfish behalf; unconcerned about others in the kingdom. Joab had a flawed character; he was a jealous person who always looked for position no matter the cost.
It is amazing to me what people will do to regain their position. If only they would realize, the person that God chose to replace them, might do a better job. If they had the right attitude they would come alongside the new person and become a good support to them. Why not take the time to pour into them the wisdom from their years of experience? As they become better equipped they may do far greater things for the kingdom.
We must always check our hearts before the Lord and be content whenever He decides to change our position. Honestly ask yourself, do I assist and encourage others to help make them become better or do I purposely assassinate their efforts?
Nothing succeeds like encouragement.
~Anon~

Dressed to Kill

When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came before them. Now Joab was dressed in battle armor; on it was a belt with a sword fastened in its sheath at his hips; and as he was going forward, it fell out. Then Joab said to Amasa, “Are you in health, my brother?”

2 Samuel 20:8-9

David’s army had left Jerusalem in pursuit of the rebel Sheba. Amasa, as the king’s new captain was now David’s right hand man. He came before Joab, his men, with the king’s body guards and all the king’s mighty warriors (2 Samuel 20:7). As a man of war Joab was dressed to kill; he was in full battle armor ready to meet Sheba. As Joab bent down to greet Amasa his sword fell out from his belt––but was this an accident?
Joab, seemingly in sincerity, asked Amasa if he was in good health. But what was his real attitude towards his cousin who had just replaced him? How was he handling his humiliating demotion? Amasa was not his adversary. But perhaps Joab thought of him as an enemy, as he was now seen by him as the rival to his lost rank before his men.
When you have a good position in ministry or business it can be difficult when the time comes for you to be replaced. God may move you down or over to a different area as He brings someone else up to take your place. It is difficult if you have been in that place for a long time; when all of a sudden someone else is given your position. What is your attitude?
It is important to learn how to gracefully move out of the way and let the Lord use others. But I have noticed how these kinds of changes can become a real problem with people. They begin to question the Lord’s love and doubt the next person’s abilities. Seriously who is qualified? We need to remember people are qualified by the power of the Holy Spirit. In reality it is about God and how He wants to use each of our lives.
It is never a question of how much you and I have of the Spirit,
but how much He has of us.
~Billy Graham~

Taking Swift Action

And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us.” So Joab’s men, with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him. And they went out of Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

2 Samuel 20:6-7

David was wise; he was not going to make the same mistake twice. With Absalom’s rebellion fresh on the king’s mind, orders were given to Abishai to pursue Sheba and deal with his utter rebellion. He took swift action against him before he could do any further harm. Notice, Abishai was addressed personally by the king––not Joab; he had stepped way out of line. Demoted, he would go to battle, under the leadership of Abishai, his eldest brother, as a servant of the king.
God had to take action against Miriam when she overstepped her bounds and criticized her brother Moses. She did not approve of Moses marriage to Ethiopian women and influenced Aaron their brother in her rebellion. God dealt with her swiftly and caused her to become leprous; she was placed out of the camp. Then Moses prayed for his sister and God healed her (Numbers 12:1-4; 10-15).
This is a strong lesson for all leaders to learn. God hates rebellion, and he will deal strongly with anyone who would cause disunity. Especially in an uprising against His chosen and anointed leadership. Hebrews 13:17 exhorts those in ministry to obey their leader:
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Men must choose to be governed by God or they condemn themselves to be ruled by tyrants.
~William Penn~

New Leadership

And the king said to Amasa, “Assemble the men of Judah for me within three days, and be present here yourself.” So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah. But he delayed longer than the set time which David had appointed him.

2 Samuel 20:4-5

Notice, new orders went straight out from King David to Amasa not Joab. In unifying Israel, when Absalom had asked Amasa to be his captain, do you remember the message the king had sent to him? He had said:
And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab’” (2 Samuel 19:13).
The king, Joab and Amasa were all related. David was their uncle and both captains were cousins. Amasa replaced his cousin as commander of David’s army––Joab would be humbled by the king. David, in solving the problems with Joab; sought out new leadership. Joab, who was tightly holding on to his leadership position, seemed to pursue power. He would find the king’s decision hard to swallow––as we shall see later.
Amasa had great potential and had good leadership qualities that could benefit the kingdom. He had not promoted himself nor did he have any personal agendas. Amasa did as his king commanded. But he did fail to make ready the troops in the appointed time set by David. We read of no rebuke from the king to Amasa for this failure. Perhaps he gave his new leader time to grow and showed him grace?
In ministry, if anyone is seeking their own agenda you may have to remove them and bring on new leadership. Once you do, give the new person time to grow and learn their position even through their mistakes.
The pursuit of power can separate the most resolute of Christians from the true nature of Christian leadership.
~Charles Colson~

Supported in Seclusion

Now David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten women, his concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in seclusion and supported them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood.

2 Samuel 20:3

Absalom, in his rebellion, had left a trail of damaged lives behind him. After he took the bad counsel, he had publically and brutally raped ten of David’s concubines (2 Samuel 16:22). When David returned, he had to make hard decisions concerning the women his son had violated. They, as David’s concubines, could no longer have intimacy with their king.
Through no fault of their own, they would live in isolation, as if they were widows until the day of their death. David, being a merciful and compassionate king fully supported them. They were not to be outcasts, abandoned or neglected, but these women would be cared for and treated with dignity.
Satan, is called a thief, who seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He uses people who yield to their flesh to hurt others. Even through their own foolish choices of using drugs, alcohol or seeking sexual adventures, their lives and often their health have been ruined. Within the church, and in our families, there are found many wounded and damaged lives. Many people feel like an outcast from their families and friends.
Jesus can restore and heal a person for sure––but often times they will need the loving support of friends and family to help them on the road to recovery. If there is a wounded person in the church or your family are you willing to help and support them even if it is for the rest of their lives?
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves.
~Romans 15:1~

Are you Loyal or a Deserter?

So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king.

2 Samuel 20:2

The rebellious words of Sheba influenced every man of Israel––can you believe that! When Absalom almost successfully took the kingdom away from David, the people suffered through a divisive war, yet here they are tolerating another instigator! As Israel deserted their king once more, it created a distinct dividing line––those who were deserters and those who were loyal to King David.
The Apostle Paul experienced men and women who were loyal and others who were deserters. Demas will always be known as a deserter, Paul said of him: Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:10). Whereas his loyal co-workers were willing to give their lives for him; Paul wrote:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles (Romans 16:3).
Christians will encounter spiritual warfare. We need people who are willing to count the cost in following Jesus Christ. Self-denial is a mark of a loyal Christian. Jesus said to His followers: Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23). Those who take the Christian call seriously have counted the cost of following the Lord. They will not retreat or desert a friend when the battle becomes fierce.
Ask yourself, as a Christian, am I loyal or am I a deserter?
Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
~John 6:67-68~

Rebellious Rebel

And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: “We have no share in David, nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!”

2 Samuel 20:1

Here we go again––after Absalom rebelled and fell, yet another rebel surfaced––Sheba. He blew the trumpet, gained the people’s attention and spoke to them words of rebellion. If David remained with Judah, there was no interest in him as their king––could they not have their independence? Sheba’s speech became an evil influence on all those who listened in Israel. He wanted to sever ties to the king; fully and completely.
Satan, in pride and sin, was an angelic rebel. He caused rebellion against the Lord and fell from heaven. He took with him a third of the angels––demons (Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12:7-9). Another rebel, Korah with several other men, influenced two hundred and fifty leaders and caused a major division in Israel. These men of renown; exalted themselves against Moses and Aaron; whom God had chosen to lead the people of Israel. In their open rebellion against their leaders, they had in fact rejected the Lord. In judgment, God opened up the earth and swallowed them and their households alive (Numbers 16).
It is important to understand that rebellion is a terrible sin that infects others. It might be leaders have noticed a rebellious person in the church. Parents may have a child or teenager that has openly rebelled against them. Even a husband, wife or an elderly person can become rebellious and stubborn. Never ignore rebellion, it will only get worse, prayerfully take care of the situation before it causes division and affects other people in your church or your family at home.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness
is as iniquity and idolatry.
~I Samuel 15:23~

Strong Words Spoken

And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, “We have ten shares in the king; therefore we also have more right to David than you. Why then do you despise us—were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?” Yet the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

2 Samuel 19:43

The men of Israel voiced their rights to the king. They had ten tribes compared to the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah. But Judah’s words were stronger; the king would remain with them. Later, these ten tribes of Israel would break away to the north, to Tel Dan; whereas the other two tribes would remain in the south, where Jerusalem was their capital.
These ten tribes of Israel said they would come down to Jerusalem once a year to worship. But as they went to the north, they started worshipping other gods––the golden calf. God saw their evil Idolatry and He used one of the worst nations to destroy the ten tribes. He brought the Assyrians, who took them captive. During this time the Assyrians intermingled with the Jews and they became the Samaritans––can you believe that?
There are Christian’s who say they are committed to go to church regularly. But like many people, they do not make the effort. Instead they stay away from church and the Lord. Attending church slowly becomes an unnecessary discipline. They become consumed by other things that have taken first priority in their lives––they become backslidden.
Listen to the strong words spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy 8:11:
“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today…”
Have you become idolatrous and placed other things before the Lord?
Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together…
~Hebrews 10:25~

A Close Relative

So all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is a close relative of ours. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we ever eaten at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?”

2 Samuel 19:42

Notice––as the tribes argued among themselves, the men of Judah brought up an important fact, David was their close relative. He was from the tribe of Judah and they laid claim to him. Israel should have taken these facts into consideration, why would they not agree for the king to remain with them? Besides, David treated all the tribes the same—with no favoritism or special privileges.
In the book of Ruth, Naomi, mother-in-law to Ruth, told her that Boaz, in whose field she gleaned, was a close relative. Finding out this information was of great relief and relevance; he could secure their future:
Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives” (Ruth 2:20).
As a close relative, Boaz could perform for them the act of kinsman redeemer and buy back the land they so desperately needed for their provision. He would also marry Ruth and according to their custom, continue the name of the dead. Naomi’s family name would continue through their son Obed. Ruth became the great grandmother of David and is found in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:9-10 & 17; Matthew 1:5).
Jesus, who came from the lineage of the tribe of Judah, is our close relative––our Redeemer! Revelation 5:9 describes what Christ accomplished on the cross: …You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…
…Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has prevailed…
~Revelation 5:5~

Words that Cause Division

Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, “Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David’s men with him across the Jordan?”

2 Samuel 19:41

Earlier, David had successfully united all the twelve tribes of Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5). But now within the tribes of Israel we begin to see the strained tension building over David’s reinstatement as king. Israel, the Northern Kingdom was located in Tel Dan; Judah the Southern kingdom, had their capital in Jerusalem.
The accusation brought against Judah was that they had stolen away the king for themselves. Although the kingdom would remain united under David and throughout the reign of Solomon; eventually under Rehoboam, one of Solomon’s sons and Jeroboam, who served the king, a sharp division would cause the two sides to split (1 Kings 12).
Proverbs 15:1 gives us wisdom when these difficult occasions happen: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Even Jesus, had the meekness to handle the Jews who not only hurled false accusations at Him but they also wanted to kill Him. He would often just walk away: “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”…Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple… and so passed by (John 8:48, 59).
Seriously, how often is a home, city or nation divided over someone who has caused a division? How we need to be careful with our words. When harsh words of accusation are spoken; it is so very easy to retaliate in anger. Chuck Smith, set the best example when he faced accusations. He never, ever retaliated––he would give people so many chances.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand…
~Matthew 12:25~

A Double Blessing

Then all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own place. Now the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. And all the people of Judah escorted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

2 Samuel 19:39-40

David kissed and blessed Barzillai, according to their custom and culture, before he went on his way home. There was a mutual respect, trust and gratitude between them. They were a blessing to each other. Barzillai gave to David from his heart the rich resources he needed. Who knew Barzillai was coming to the end of his life. David took with him Chimham to oversee his welfare.
Imagine, we are such a blessed people; from God’s rich resources, He has taken care of our spiritual welfare:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… (Ephesians 1:3).
Imagine, God has chosen us; we have been adopted by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. God, through Christ, has accepted us and redeemed us through His blood. We have received His forgiveness for our sins and have been shown the riches of His grace. Through Christ we have been given the seal of the Holy Spirit, a promise as a guarantee of our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:4-14).
Knowing these things should we not serve and be a blessing to the Lord? He has given us the grace and ability to do His work and bless others.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you,
always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an
abundance for every good work.
~2 Corinthians 9:8~

Doing Good to Others

And the king answered, “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you.”

2 Samuel 19:38

Although Barzillai expected nothing in return for helping the king, David gave his word to take good care of Chimham. Notice, the mutual faithfulness between these two men; it was as if David was saying to his friend: “You have shown goodness towards me; now, for you, I will show my goodness to Chimham.”
It is thought that the king bestowed on Chimham a possession in Bethlehem, where in later times an inn was left standing. Johanan the son of Karean, stayed there and his forces with the captives he had rescued: And they departed and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is near Bethlehem, as they went on their way to Egypt (Jeremiah 41:11-17).
Just as Barzillai and David acted towards each other is the same way we need to treat each other. Jesus taught us to live our lives by what we now call, ‘The Golden Rule’: And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise (Luke 6:31). It is the correct attitude for our actions towards others. In Galatians 6:10, the Apostle Paul instructs the believers in Christ: Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Those that need our love, goodness and acts of kindness the most, are the ones who are most vulnerable, the orphans and the widows. James 1:27 tells us: Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
To whom have you shown the goodness of God too recently?
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
~Hebrews 10:24~

Offering Repayment

Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you.”

2 Samuel 19:36-37

Barzillai agreed to go part of the way across the Jordan but kindly declined any kind of repayment. He had pure motives when he helped David. His giving was done out of love. Barzillai’s focus was preparing for the inevitable, his death and where he would be buried. However, Chimham, his name meaning “their longing”, went with David. He was a follower of Barzillai and most probably his son.
Imagine how many people expect a reward for doing something for another person––when, as Christians, we should not. We are servants of the Lord and should never take advantage of other people’s finances. When we give to others with pure motives the Lord sees and He is the one who rewards us. Jesus shared how to give without drawing attention to ourselves:
But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matthew 6:3-4).
Like Barzillai, our focus should never be about money or material gain between our fellow Christians. What is important is to lay up our treasures in heaven. Remember, whatever things we have on earth, hold on to them lightly––we cannot take material things with us when we die.
…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…
~Matthew 6:20-21~

Never Be Burdensome

But Barzillai said to the king, “How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king?

2 Samuel 19:34-35

This is so cool––Barzillai recognized that if he went with David he would become such a burden. He was old, to the point of losing some of his youthful faculties. In his wisdom, he voiced what they both understood as a reality––he did not have much life ahead of him to live. Barzillai knew when to leave and retire.
This wise, old aged man would go back and become a blessing to the Lord. He was a person who waited on God. The Lord would allow him to enjoy his life to the very end––can you believe that?
Notice his words of integrity, he not only gave to David without expecting anything back; he also discerned that the king had greater needs than to provide for him in his old age. He had this great attitude––they need it more than I do.
The Apostle Paul had a great work ethic as a leader. He worked willingly with his hands and never took advantage of anyone financially:
For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
Is integrity an integral part of your Christian character?
The three most important ingredients in Christian work are
integrity, integrity, integrity.
~Charles Colson~

Returning the Favor

And the king said to Barzillai, “Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem.”

2 Samuel 19:33

Barzillai, had assisted David financially in a very difficult time and the king had it in his heart, to return the favor. David naturally wanted to repay the kindness––as it was now in his power to do so. Barzillai assured him that it was entirely unnecessary––he did not have to repay him anything. He knew the integrity of the king’s heart and understood his thinking: “You did this act of kindness towards me and now I want to do this for you.”
It is the same with you and me, when someone shows kindness by supplying a desperate need in our lives, we want to somehow return the blessing; especially when we have the available means. However, we must understand what Jesus taught us about giving and receiving:
…if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. …do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High (Luke 6:34-35).
God’s thinking is often so very opposite to ours (Isaiah 55:8). Usually when we lend to others, we keep a mental account. We expect what we have lent returned. As Christians, we must lend without expecting anything in return, we must become what God requires. Paul reminded the believers: Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).
As a Christian, do you keep financial tabs on others? Those who you think owe you something back for your acts of kindness towards them?
A giving Savior should have giving disciples.
~J. C. Ryle~

Rich Resources

And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan. Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man.

2 Samuel 19:31-32

Barzillai was a rich man who helped take care of David when he was in trouble. He used his rich resources to provide supplies for the king and his company while they stayed in the city of Mahanaim. This was the place where Absalom came to kill David, thinking there was no possible way he could escape. Yet, God protected and provided for him in the city.
It is true––God blesses people financially. God desires they enjoy what they have worked so hard for: …every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 3:13). But what else should they do with all their riches? If their wealth is squandered on themselves it has no real eternal benefits.
There is a joy in giving to God and assisting those who are less fortunate. Have you ever thought about using your financial resources to help others? Even Jesus was blessed by those who used their wealth to assist Him. Certain women in the Bible, helped meet His everyday needs:
…Mary called Magdalene… and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance (Luke 8:2-3).
Yet Judas was a thief (John 12:6); we might condemn his actions. But do we steal from God when we fail to tithe to God? Malachi 3:8 says: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me….In tithes and offerings. Sadly, in our lack of obedience in giving we miss out on His promised blessings.
…try Me in this if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
~Malachi 3:10~

What Really Matters Most

So the king said to him, “Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, ‘You and Ziba divide the land.’” Then Mephibosheth said to the king, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.”

2 Samuel 19:29-30

Mephibosheth listened to the king’s judgment, the land was to be divided, Ziba would now own half. However, Mephibosheth was not really concerned over who owned the land. Ziba could gain all the property––it did not matter. Mephibosheth was far more concerned with David’s welfare––the king’s return to his own house in peace.
What does this show you? The sincere love Mephibosheth had for the king. He never let his earthly affairs and troubles cloud his sight of what really matters most in life. He cared more about his king’s life, than his own––amazing.
Knowing what is of real value in life is very important––but never lose your eternal perspective. Jesus said to his disciples: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33). Place the Lord as a first priority in your life. As you do, God will take care of your earthly affairs and troubles:
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:26-27).
Are you so concerned over earthly affairs and troubles that you have lost sight of what matters most in life? Do you have an eternal perspective?
Life, if properly viewed in any aspect, is great, but mainly great when viewed in its relation to the world to come.
~Albert Barnes~

Receiving High Honors

For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?”

2 Samuel 19:28

Mephibosheth had told David he was like an angel of God in his life. He was fully submitted to David, to do whatever he thought best after hearing how Ziba had slandered him (2 Samuel 19:27). It was the same as saying, “Whatever you think, go for it.” He had not defended himself but had given to David the true facts and left the outcome to the king’s good judgment.
Mephibosheth, trusted David, even if he never lifted another finger to help him, he was completely satisfied. He had received high honors from David; he treated him as one of his own sons, eating daily at the king’s table and having all his needs met––what more could he ask?
There may come a time in your life, when you will have to face slander brought against you. Often, the first thing we want to do is to defend ourselves. Be careful––if you defend yourself you will be judged guilty. Learn from Mephibosheth’s situation, when asked to give account, tell the truth, the facts and leave the judgments and the outcome in God’s hands.
God is completely able to deliver you from their lies: Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue (Psalm 120:2). The Lord will judge those who are guilty of lying: You shall destroy those who speak falsehood (Psalm 5:6). It is important for us to trust the Lord and understand His justice. He has told us: …those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed (2 Samuel 2:30).
Imagine, we have received salvation, what more can we ask of God?
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
~Matthew 10:32~

Deception and Slander

And he answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,’ because your servant is lame. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes.

2 Samuel 19:26-27

Even though Mephibosheth was from Saul’s linage, being the crippled son of Jonathan, he had not joined in Absalom’s rebellion. He told the truth and was able to expose Ziba for who he really was––a slanderer. He had fully taken advantage of Mephibosheth inabilities to follow David. Without giving aid to him, Ziba took the donkey instead and left him behind. When he reached David, he was questioned by the king:
Then the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me’” (2 Samuel 16:3).
Ziba lied to David and slandered Mephibosheth’s character; all in the hopes to gain the land given to his lame master for himself. God abhors lying and slander. In the book of Proverbs He makes it crystal clear:
These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Are you guilty of any of these things? Repent of them or face the terrible consequences.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
Him I will destroy;
~Psalm 101:5~

Opportunity to Speak

Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace. So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”

2 Samuel 19:24-25

A disheveled Mephibosheth came to meet the king. David was now able to question him. He wanted to know the reason, why Mephibosheth did not leave with him, when he had to flee Jerusalem? Especially as he had shown him so much mercy and grace; where was his loyalty to the king? Ziba, Saul’s servant had given his false account (2 Samuel 16:3), now Mephibosheth was given his opportunity to speak truth to David.
The Apostle Paul was arrested after a tumult arose because of his teachings (Acts 21:31-36). Then the Jews falsely accused Paul, using a well-known orator by the name of Tertullus, who said of him:
For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple… (Acts 24:5-6).
Paul was given the opportunity to speak and answer the accusations brought against him. He was given audience, before Felix the governor, who nodded for Paul to speak and give his account (Acts 24:10-21). At a later time, when Felix brought his wife Drusilla, a Jewess, he then sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ (Acts 24:24-25).
Imagine, every day God gives us opportunities to share with others the Gospel, but are we in tune with the Holy Spirit to do so?
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
~2 Timothy 4:2~

Mercy over Judgment

Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king swore to him.

2 Samuel 19:23

David was a merciful king––he gave his word to Shimei that he would not die. He was to receive mercy over judgment. David’s reign was marked with mercy; he administered judgment and justice to all his people
(2 Samuel 8:15). David was being the person God wanted him to be.
Do you remember how David sought to show the mercy of God to anyone remaining from King Saul’s family, for his friend Jonathan’s sake? He had asked Saul’s servant Ziba:
Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the [unfailing, unsought, unlimited] mercy and kindness of God? Ziba replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet (2 Samuel 9:3, AMPC).
Mephibosheth was found and being fearful David reassured him:
Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually (2 Samuel 9:6-8, KJV).
Both Shimei and Mephibosheth received mercy from the king; even though they had done nothing deserving of the king’s favor. Mephibosheth acted with sincere gratitude, whereas Shimei would be dealt with by David’s son––Solomon.
Every one of us has the opportunity to receive the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Titus 3:4 explains how we gain our salvation: …not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us (Titus 3:4).
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
~James 2:13~

The Right Perspective

And David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?”

2 Samuel 19:22

Literally, David is saying, “Why should I worry about this fellow, will God not take care of it?” He gave Zeruiah the right perspective. David knew he was back where God wanted him to be––he was not worried about Shimei as an adversary. Besides his attention was focused on what the Lord was doing in his life; he was being restored to his throne! Shimei was a small problem in comparison. David knew God was fully in control.
Sometimes we are too overly concerned about people who speak against us. We want to quickly defend ourselves and counter the wrongful words spoken. We should learn to be like David. Our hearts need to be centered on the amazing things the Lord is doing in our lives as we continue to serve Him.
The Word of God always gives us the right perspective when dealing with people who come against us: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). When we handle our enemies, Romans 12:19 tells us: Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Understanding God’s righteous judgment on the wicked should cause us to pray for God’s mercy towards them. They will face terrible consequences for their actions. Instead of avenging ourselves, Jesus has told us to:
…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you… (Matthew 5:44).
Have I not destroyed my enemy when I have made him my friend?
~Abraham Lincoln~

The Lord’s Anointed

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?”

2 Samuel 19:21

Abishai knew Shimei deserved death. He had sinned by cursing David––the Lord’s anointed. David was chosen from among his brothers to be King of Israel; he was anointed by the prophet Samuel: Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his bothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David… (1 Samuel 16:13). Later the tribe of Judah anointed David king where he reigned in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:4). After seven years and six months, he was anointed king over all Israel where he then reigned in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:1-5).
David was pursued by King Saul who wanted to kill him but he never raised his hand against him. Why? David knew God had anointed him king––he feared the Lord. He left the problem of Saul, who was trying to kill him, in God’s hands. When a man, an Amalekite, told David he had killed Saul, as he lay wounded in battle, David said to him:
“How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. So David said to him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed’” (2 Samuel 1:14-16).
It is important to keep this same principle as Christians. Every one of us is considered as the Lord’s anointed. When we talk about people, we are in fact, coming against God’s anointed. We need to respect each other. If there is a grievance with someone, let the Lord be Judge. Do not take matters into your own hands––we cannot play the role of God.
In God's ultimate judgement he gives sinners over to their sins.
~R. C. Sproul~

Admitting Wrong Doing

Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart. For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.”

2 Samuel 19:19-20

Seemingly, Shimei humbled himself before King David. He asked him not to hold his sinful actions against him. He wanted to be acquitted of any wrong doing and hoped there would be no remembrance of his insulting actions towards David. He admitted that he had sinned. He did not hide when the king returned but was first in line to meet him. He came to confess and make things right.
When we admit wrong doing and confess our sins to the Lord, 1 John 1:9 tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It is important to understand that He not only forgives us but He does not even remember them anymore. Isaiah 43:25 reveals this truth to us: I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.
David contemplated how he had been forgiven much in his life. He praised God for not imputing his sins against him: Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity… (Psalm 32:2). Now he was faced with forgiving a treacherous man who was asking to be forgiven. As King of Israel––returning to his throne, Shimei’s life was now in his hands. He could receive mercy and forgiveness or judgment from the king.
Our lives are in the hands of God, if we humbly and genuinely ask for forgiveness we too will be shown mercy and not judgment.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
~Psalm 103:12~

Where Lies Your Allegiance?

And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king.

2 Samuel 19:16-17

On returning to the city, David would be met with another problem––Shimei, who threw stones at him and Ziba who deceptively gained the lands of Saul. Notice, Shimei had run away from David and now he is running back! He knew Absalom was dead. He was against David and went with Absalom, but now in public, he slithers back in allegiance as the king’s friend.
How many times have you seen people like this? At first they seem for you, then they come against you and in the end they try to come back? Proverbs 12:26 tells us: The righteous should choose his friends carefully. It is important to know that anybody can be your friend in public. But what are these so called friends saying behind your back?
That is what I am concerned about––know who they are because you really have to be careful who you trust. Always listen to the things that they say to you. Throw what is being said up in the air to discern which friend is real––as the wheat or false like chaff.
The Bible helps us to discern a true friend. Proverbs 20:19 gives us wisdom on who we should avoid: He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips. Whereas a true friend will tell you what you need to hear: As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).
Counterfeiting friendship is worse than counterfeiting money.
~Thomas Watson~

The Return of the King

Then the king returned and came to the Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan… Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good.

2 Samuel 19:15, 18

Imagine the emotion and the joy of the people as King David returned to the city of Jerusalem, to his palace––his throne. In unity and in a show of national honor, Judah came to meet their king and escort him across the Jordan. David had crossed the river when he had quickly fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:16, 22). On the Mount of Olives, (2 Samuel 15:30), he must have taken a longing last look at the city, not knowing whether he would return. David had said to Zadok:
“Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place (2 Samuel 15:25).
Now David was going back to Jerusalem, crossing the Jordan once more on his return. He knew fully that God was the one who had restored him to his throne. His God had shown to him favor, grace and mercy.
One day we can expect Jesus Christ to return to take us to heaven. He had told the disciples in John 14:2-3: …I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again…
Imagine, when Jesus returns to earth to reign …His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, [it] shall be split in two…making a very large valley… (Zechariah 14:4). At this time, we shall return with Him, we have been counted as His faithful servants.
He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.
~Revelation 17:14~

The Voice of Unity

So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: “Return, you and all your servants!”

2 Samuel 19:14

David was successful, God had given him wisdom in speaking with the elders of Judah, and unity had prevailed. There was now a unanimous desire to bring back the king to his throne. David and his company were asked to return. Through God’s tender mercies peace was restored in Israel. Absalom was the cause of the disunity in the kingdom but David was the voice of unity to the nation.
Imagine how David must have felt coming back to Jerusalem––elated. But at the same time he had in his heart, Absalom––his son was everything to him––he loved him. He still carried within himself a deep and terrible grief over his death.
In the church there is so much disunity, yet we are all brethren, all one in Christ. Ephesians 4:3-6 explains and exhorts us concerning our unity:
….endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Whereas Ephesians 4:32 gives us the practical application in keeping unity between each other as Christians: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
As a Christian do you cause unity or disunity in the body of Christ?
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell together in unity!
~Psalm 133:1~

My Flesh and Bone

You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?’ And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’”

2 Samuel 19:12-13

David was from the tribe of Judah, the linage of the Messiah (Revelation 5:5). Through this important phrase, ‘you are my bone and my flesh’ the elders of Judah were reminded of a covenant they had made with him:
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, “Indeed we are your bone and your flesh … and the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.’” Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel (1 Samuel 5:1-4).
Furthermore, Amas, David’s nephew through Abigal, sister to Zeriah, Joab’s mother, would replace Joab as captain over the king’s armies––who could no longer be trusted. Perhaps this strategic move would unite the two opposing armies to once again bring about a unified nation.
Interestingly, this phrase used by David is very similar to the one Adam spoke when he saw Eve for the first time. And Adam said: This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23).
Most couples begin their married life in love and in unity. A marriage fails when disunity enters the relationship through sin such as: adultery, selfishness or unkindness. Often a reminder of the love they once shared and the vows they have said to one another will help unify their marriage.
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times —
always with the same person.
~Mignon McLaughlin~

A Leader’s Indecisiveness

So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house?

2 Samuel 19:11

As the people of Israel began to unite, they wanted to bring David back to his palace. But they had not yet received word from the elders of Israel. Think about that––this is something they should have done immediately. What was their delay? This was not a time for indecisiveness; everyone was left waiting and the matter of the king’s return left unsettled.
King David, as Israel’s leader, took the necessary action and sent word to the priests. Through these faithful men, he addressed the elders of Israel’s indecision. The people needed their king; he would be able to restore unity and stability in the kingdom of Israel.
Indecisiveness is a bad quality in a leader. Leaders need to take the initiative and be able to make good decisions because people naturally look to them for guidance. But leaders must look to the Lord for the wisdom in leading others. Proverbs 2:6 tells us: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”
Nehemiah was an excellent leader. He had heard that the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. As the walls lay in ruins he first sought the Lord in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11). Through his leadership and the Lord’s provision he was able to unite the people to build the city in fifty two days (Nehemiah 6:15), amazing!
The Church is in need of strong leaders. He has called us to build His kingdom by sharing the knowledge of the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
~1 Thessalonians 5:24~

A Major Dispute

Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?”

2 Samuel 19:9-10

The people had fled to their tents discouraged and defeated over the king’s grief for Absalom. But now David is going to speak with them at the city gate. Meanwhile, within the tribes of Israel, there arose a major dispute––some wanted their king back on the throne while others voiced their concerns; they believed the king had become weak. He had fled Jerusalem and his son’s plan to take over the throne had nearly succeeded.
However, this was far from the truth. David had been a king who had sought a peaceful solution in a difficult situation. He trusted his men, and his captain Joab. But what did his chief commander do? Remember, through a servant who had seen Absalom vulnerable, hanging by his head from a tree, he saw an opportunity to kill the king’s son.
The wise servant refused to lay a hand against Absalom. But Joab decided to kill the king’s son himself––right there without a single thought for David’s command to keep Absalom safe. Joab thought his opinion was better than David’s. He overreached his bounds and did not follow the chain of command; he disobeyed his leader––his king!
When God gives us a command and we decide, in our opinion that we know better, we are no different than Joab. We should respect the Word of God. The Lord is our leader––our King! Joshua saw himself in the right perspective before his leader and humbly asked: “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (Joshua 13-14). Joshua was ready to obey, are you?
“…as Commander of the army of the LORD I [Jesus] have now come.”
~Joshua 5:14~

Seated in Authority

Then the king arose and sat in the gate. And they told all the people, saying, “There is the king, sitting in the gate.” So all the people came before the king. For everyone of Israel had fled to his tent.

2 Samuel 19:8

Enduring his grief King David in humility sat in the place of authority; the city’s gate where judgment took place. Word spread that the king was at the gate and the people eagerly came to stand before Him.
Jesus, our King was seated in a place of authority; once He had endured the cross. Hebrews 12:2 tells us: …[He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. In eternity, all people great and small will stand before Him. There will be no place to flee:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books (Revelation 20:11-12).
According to 2 Corinthian 5:10, those who believe in Jesus, will not to be judged for their sins, but they are still accountable for their actions:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
If you were to die at this very moment, in eternity, which throne room do you think you will stand before?
… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth…
~Philippians 2:10~

The King’s Speech

Now therefore, arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants. For I swear by the LORD, if you do not go out, not one will stay with you this night. And that will be worse for you than all the evil that has befallen you from your youth until now.”

2 Samuel 19:7

Joab insisted, no doubt for his own benefit, that David make a speech before the people. David had experienced adversity from his youth; but worst things could happen if he did not quickly stabilize the situation. The people needed to see their king’s strength and courage. They looked to him for comfort; they loved him and his words of encouragement would lift their sorrowful spirits. But still in grief, how would the king cope?
It is true that a leader needs to remain strong in the face of difficulty. But how should we treat victory, when there is so much suffering? I believe with all my heart that is when we need to be at the foot of the cross. Why? At that place there was great suffering but in Christ’s resurrection, there was also great victory.
Jesus taught us how to embrace both suffering and victory. First, He left these words of comfort for his sorrowful disciples:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).
Second, Jesus set His face as flint as He went to Jerusalem; where he would be arrested and crucified (Luke 9:51). Third, He retained His joy:
…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross… (Hebrews 12:2). When suffering and victory bleed together never lose your joy.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
~Nehemiah 8:10~

Open Rebuke

Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, “Today you have disgraced all your servants who today have saved your life, the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives and the lives of your concubines, in that you love your enemies and hate your friends. For you have declared today that you regard neither princes nor servants; for today I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well.

2 Samuel 19:5-6

Joab came to David’s house with an open rebuke––to make him get a hold of his senses. Imagine, here is a father who has lost his son; yet, Joab is the one that killed Absalom! There is no understanding towards the heart of the king––he was very hurt. David believed in what God was doing; he understood that he was reaping in his life; but he had ordered that Absalom be unharmed. David could have literally killed Joab for his actions––he had disobeyed the kings command.
Yet, Joab stood before David lecturing him on the precepts of being a king to the people. He accused him of treating them with hatred and insults––after all they had done for him in battle. Where was his appreciation? What was the purpose of fighting this battle when he made them all feel bad––His behavior was like a slap in the face!
David, towards the end of his life, warned Solomon about Joab. He reminded him of Joab’s bad conduct towards him and the innocent blood he had shed during peace time. David shared with his son, before you come into power; even though Joab is family––get rid of him: …do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace (1 Kings 2:5-6).
It is important to recognize people like Joab in your life. It may seem like they are with you but they are really for themselves. Be warned.
The one who hates others disguises it with his lips,
but he stores up deceit within him.
~Proverbs 26:24~

The Cries of the King

And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

2 Samuel 19:3-4

The people returned to the city, like a dog with its tail between its legs. They shied away; out of sight and mind of the king. He was preoccupied with his grief, face covered and his son’s name still echoed on his lips.
Jesus Christ, the King of kings hung on a wooden cross uncovered; His face beaten and bruised. Most of His disciples had run, they shied away from the threat of persecution. John remained with Jesus’ mother Mary and others who had gathered at the foot of the cross (John 19:26).
Jesus, the King of the Jews, hung in agonizing affliction on the cross. He cried out with a loud voice: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Then He said …“It is finished!”…bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30).
Jesus is acquainted with our grief, Isaiah 53:3-4 speaks of Him:
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…
One day: God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying (Revelation 21:4). As we live our daily lives, let the name of Jesus be continually on our lips.
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
~Hebrews 13:15~

Joy Turned to Mourning

And Joab was told, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people. For the people heard it said that day, “The king is grieved for his son.”

2 Samuel 19:1-2

King David’s grief for Absalom had a negative impact on his people. What was a joyous victory for them had been turned into a time of deep mourning. Instead of tears of joy there were tears of sorrow. David loved his son, he had a legitimate purpose for weeping and mourning––nothing wrong with that, but it was also a time of great victory.
As king, David sent Joab, his chief commander, to war and he had successfully defeated Absalom and his army. But David needed time to grieve for his son. Joab was informed of the sad situation and would soon address the king, but there was no empathy, only God could console him.
In the book of Psalms, we see how David understood God’s character. He knew the Lord was not pleased with the sins he had committed in life but he also knew of His favor and forgiveness. He worshiped the Lord; the One who throughout his life turned his mourning into joy. He wrote:
… For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning…You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever (Psalm 30:5; 11-12).
Life can bring such sorrow––death is a deep grief, hard to bear. If you are experiencing a time of mourning know that in God’s time He will restore your joy.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
~Psalm 56:8, NLT~

A Languishing Lament

Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

2 Samuel 18:33

When King David heard the news of Absalom’s death; he was devastated and began to loudly weep. As a father, he was broken hearted and completely inconsolable; he languished in his lament for Absalom: O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom… He knew he had reaped bitterly in the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba.
Grief weighed heavily on the heart of the king and in further anguish he uttered: if only I had died in your place! Notice that––do you think he loved him? Of course, as any parent would, despite what Absalom had done. David’s words expressed just how much he had unconditionally loved his son even though he had been such a thorn in the flesh to his father.
Who does David’s exclamation remind you of? It expresses what Jesus did––He died in our place! At one time we were His enemies, separated from Him by our sin, but God still loved us and planned a way to bring us salvation. The only way was for His Son to be our substitute.
Romans 5:8 is a revelation of His plan: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:9-10 explains: …we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son… having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
God is our loving Father (1 John 3:1). Imagine, there is not a person in the entire world that God has not extended His love to. He sent His Son to die for every man, woman and child on the planet!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
~John 3:16~

Bitter Sweet Victory

Just then the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “There is good news, my lord the king! For the LORD has avenged you this day of all those who rose against you.” And the king said to the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” So the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!”

2 Samuel 18:31-32

The Cushite greeted the king in a similar manner as Ahimaaz; but he also had details of the battle that would answer any of the king’s questions. The foremost concern on the king’s mind was his son. For the love of his son, he asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Respectfully, the Cushite wasted no time in telling the king the facts––Absalom had met with the same end as all those who had risen against the king.
Imagine, the Cushite thought he was bringing good news to the king; but the message he gave was the most devastating report the king had heard––his beloved son was indeed dead! Victory can be bitter sweet; it had cost David his son. The awful truth was hard to conceive; the pain unbearable, as if a sharp sword had been thrust into his heart.
Mary and Joseph received a prophecy at the temple, about their Son from Simeon who waited for the Consolation of Israel. Their Child, Jesus, would bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles (Luke 2:25; 29-32). Then Simeon, according to custom blessed the Child and told Mary:
“Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
Simeon’s words were bittersweet. A day would come; for her precious Son to die on the cross for our sins. In His victory a sword of sorrow would pierce her very soul––her comfort would be to know the plan of salvation.
Humanity wants comfort in its sorrows…the Gospel gives all this to us.
~Billy Graham~

A Father’s Loving Inquiry

The king said, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about.” And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

2 Samuel 18:29-30

David got straight to the point––what was foremost on his heart, “was the young man Absalom safe?” Can you hear in his voice a father who loved his son? Though many had died on the battle field that day; he no doubt hoped his beloved son was not to be counted among the dead. Ahimaaz has no answer to relieve the kings concerns. Once again, why did he run? It would have been better to be silent than to run and give no message.
When Adam had sinned and ran and hid from the presence of the Lord;
God called to him and said: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). This was the inquiry of a loving Father who called out to his son. Many believe this call to Adam was out of God’s anger, but I believe with all my heart that is not true. The Lord was giving an opportunity for Adam to repent.
When we fall into sin we tend to want to hide from the Lord. We think of Him as an angry Father ready to punish us. Although we do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), He calls out to us as a loving Father. The Bible reveals the character and heart of God towards us as sinners. Romans 2:4 tells us: Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Is God calling your name today? It is a loving call of a Father to draw you to repentance. He longs for the relationship He once had with you to be restored through His Son.
God is faithful, by whom you were called
into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
~1 Corinthians 1:9~

Blessed Be the LORD

So Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “All is well!” Then he bowed down with his face to the earth before the king, and said, “Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king!”

2 Samuel 18:28

Ahimaaz out ran the Cushite and arrived first. David was eager to hear the good news, not only concerning the battle, but primarily the welfare of his son. But the only thing he really had to say was––“All is well!” and “Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king!” Can you imagine? He just gave general information about the battle. Everything was cool––that was about all he had to say––there were no details in his message.
However, Ahimaaz did draw the attention of the king to the LORD who had delivered him. God had blessed David with provisions when he had fled into the wilderness and He had helped him escape death from the hand of his enemies. Think about the words David wrote in Psalm 68:19-20:
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah. Our God is the God of salvation; and to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.
In the middle of this life’s battles, it is good to remind each other of God’s blessings. Can you thank God today for His daily assistance? Through His provision, sending His Son to die on the cross we have escaped eternal death. Colossians 1:13-14 tells us: He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He truly is the God of our salvation!
Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!
~Psalm 66:20~

A Man and His Message

Then the watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “There is another man, running alone!” And the king said, “He also brings news.” So the watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good news.”

2 Samuel 18:26-27

David recognized Ahimaaz was a trustworthy young man, he had previously sent word from Hushai (2 Samuel 17:17). Although a good man, when he arrived at his destination, he really had nothing to say.
A man of God must have a message. There are many men in the Bible who had a message from the Lord to tell the people. John the Baptist boldly proclaimed his God given message: In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:1-2).
Peter, in his sermon, fully explained to the men of Israel concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. He further expounded the Scriptures concerning Jesus of Nazareth’s death and resurrection––by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God… whom they unjustly crucified (Acts 2:1-36). In response they asked him, “What should we do?” Peter’s message to these men was very similar to John’s:
…“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Jesus’ message to the people was no different, he preached: …“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Over the centuries the message of the Gospel has never changed. Have you repented of your sins while you have the opportunity?
There's no repentance in the grave.
~Isaac Watts~

The Watchman’s Duty

Now David was sitting between the two gates. And the watchman went up to the roof over the gate, to the wall, lifted his eyes and looked, and there was a man, running alone. Then the watchman cried out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he came rapidly and drew near.

2 Samuel 18:24-25

The duty of the watchman was to go on top of the wall of the city,to watch for any approaching enemies who might attack. If he saw the enemy, he would blow the rams horn to wake up the people inside of the city and have plenty of time to get ready for battle.
Ezekiel, as a prophet, was called to speak God’s Word to the people of Israel. He would warn Israel of consequences to their sins. God told him: Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me (Ezekiel 3:17).
This is not only true in the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul said to the Jews who opposed him after hearing the Gospel: “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean… (Acts 18:6).
As Christians we are called to be watchmen––we are to warn the people of God’s judgment––if they do not turn away from their sins. If those people chose not to repent of their sins; then their blood will be on themselves––you are free from their blood (Ezekiel 3:18-19).
When you are in the grocery store, the gym or at the beach take the opportunity to share the Gospel with people. We cannot force them to come to Christ; that is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we can warn them.
…I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
~Acts 20:26-27~

Have Something to Say?

And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” So Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, since you have no news ready?” “But whatever happens,” he said, “let me run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

2 Samuel 18:22-23

Ahimaaz persisted in asking Joab to run even though the Cushite was already on his way to the king. Notice his response, “Why would you run, my son, since you have no news ready?” He had no message ready! God is teaching us through this statement made by Joab––there is a perfect time to speak, so if we do not have something to say, we need to keep our lips closed and not say anything.
The best way to have something of spiritual value to say to others is to have your own personal devotional time with the Lord. God will speak intimately to you from the Scriptures. As you learn to be sensitive to His voice, He will remind you of what He has said to you throughout your day. When an opportunity comes for you to speak about the things of God to someone, you will be ready and prepared with a message.
Even Jesus spent time, in the early morning with the Father, in solitude before he began his ministry for the day. Mark 1:35 reveals His daily discipline: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
God speaks twenty four seven—but are we listening? Often the problem is our computers, televisions and telephones. I am not saying these things are evil in themselves but they can be a distraction—big time. When do we have silent time to really hear from God’s Word? It may be necessary to sacrifice your sleep, get up early and spend time with God.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.
~Psalm 5:3~

Knowing the Full Message

And Joab said to him, “You shall not take the news this day, for you shall take the news another day. But today you shall take no news, because the king’s son is dead.” Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed himself to Joab and ran.

2 Samuel 18:20-21

Joab was apprehensive to let Ahimaaz run. He had killed the king’s son. Perhaps what had transpired could wait at least one more day, then David could find out the details surrounding Absalom’s death. Joab allowed the Cushite to run, he was not as fast as Ahimaaz; it would take longer for the news to arrive. However, this man knew what had happened on the battle field and he had a full message to communicate to the king.
When you give a message to someone, having all of the facts is very important. Imagine telling someone Jesus came to die for their sins but you fail to tell them about the resurrection? This was the case in the life of Apollos. He was a bold preacher but he only knew part of the gospel message. Acts 18:25 describes him:
This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Apollos proclaimed boldly what he had been taught; but he did not know the full message of the Gospel. He was humble enough to learn from Aquila and Priscilla who were more knowledgeable. Acts 18:26 tells us how they helped him: …When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Have you studied the Scriptures well enough to be able to boldly share the gospel accurately?
The whole gospel is contained in Christ.
~John Calvin~

The Bearer of Good News

Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run now and take the news to the king, how the LORD has avenged him of his enemies.”

2 Samuel 18:19

Ahimaaz was very eager to run as a messenger to the king with good news from the battle front. As a swift runner he might get first place, but he had no context––he really had not seen anything. He was not fully aware of all the facts surrounding the circumstances of the victory.
Christians have been given a wonderful message––the Gospel which means good news. We should know all the facts surrounding the victory Christ won on the cross for our salvation. Ephesians 2:12 reminds us of our lost sinful state: … you were without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world––but now saved, with the promise of eternal life.
Someone took the time to share that Gospel message with you, but when was the last time you became a bearer of good news with someone? The Apostle Paul desired people to be saved and he rightly said:
And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).
Many people in church are willing to go out to other places but they have no real message. Why? They have not listened to God’s voice by sitting and spending time in His Word. Paul, after listening to God had the right message, stating: For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
If you are sent into the mission field, make sure you have the right message––the cross of Christ.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
~1 Corinthians 1:18~

The Making of Monuments

Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King’s Valley. For he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom’s Monument.

2 Samuel 18:18

Absalom, had built his own stony monument, a memorial to himself. Now he lay un-honored in a pit covered by large stones to be forgotten. He was privileged in life, being a prince to the son of the famed King David––who loved him immensely. You cannot help but think, “What a waste of life.” He could have been a pillar in Jerusalem, a help to his father and a servant to the people. Instead, he became a big problem.
Perhaps, one day in the future you will be able to join us in going to Israel. There you will be able to stand on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem, to see the Eastern gate. As you peer down into the Kidron Valley, there you will see a triangle dome. The people of Israel call it ‘The Pillar of Absalom’ or ‘Absalom’s monument’ and tell you it was his tomb. The architecture was influenced by the Hellenistic time period; it had nothing to do with Absalom––this is not where he was buried.
James, Cephas and John, clearly stood out to the Apostle Paul as pillars of the Church (Galatians 2:9). These men were in the position of authority and had laid down the foundational doctrine of the Church. We can also become pillars in the Church, when we help support our leaders and as we serve the people. First Timothy 3:15 tells us: …know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Ask yourself this important question, “Am I a pillar or a problem in the Church?”
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more…
~Revelations 3:12~

Sounding the Trumpet of Victory

So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.

2 Samuel 18:16-17

The battle was won! Joab blew the trumpet, the signal of victory; he held back his men from fighting any further. Those in Israel who came against their king were vanquished and those who remained returned quickly to their tents––what would happen when the king returns? For Absalom there would be no honorable burial. As a traitor he would be dishonored in death, thrown into a pit with heaps of stones placed on top of him.
The last trump will sound at the rapture––when the Church, believers in Jesus Christ, will be taken from the earth before the great tribulation––the time when God’s wrath will be poured on the earth. First Corinthians 15:51-55 describes this incredible departure:
Behold, I tell you a mystery… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed... then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
That last trumpet will signify the amazing victory over death, won through Christ when He died on the cross; the fulfillment of what was written in the Scriptures (Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14). When Christ the King returns His enemies will be vanquished and we shall have the amazing honor to rule and reign with Him, …but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).
Will you be ready when the last trump sounds? Or will you be left behind?
"He Came; He Is Coming."
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Doing the Dirty Deed Yourself

Then Joab said, “I cannot linger with you.” And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him.

2 Samuel 18:14-15

Joab, frustrated at the man’s immovability was not going to waste any more time. He hated Absalom and had waited for the perfect time to be rid of him. He took three spears and went ahead to do the dirty deed himself––he killed Absalom. Joab disobeyed a direct order from the king; he did not listen and his armor bearers followed his bad example. Everyone heard the king’s command; they were all without excuse.
Jesus is our King––yet how many times do we disobey a direct order from Him? We read His Word but do we obey its instructions? Jeff O’Hara wrote a poem called ‘Thy Will Be Done’. As you read this poem, ask yourself, “Do I have any of these same areas of disobedience in my life?”
You call me Master, and obey me not; you call me Light, and see me not; you call me the Way, and walk me not; you call me the Life, and live me not; you call me Wise, and follow me not;
you call me Fair, and love me not; you call me Rich, and ask me not; you call me Eternal and seek me not. If I condemn thee, blame me not!
Jesus wants us to live a life of obedience, He warns us: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21). In fact, He will tell people: ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:23). Take God’s Word seriously and do what it instructs.
But why do you call Me [Jesus] ‘Lord, Lord,’
and not do the things which I say?
~Luke 6:46~

Staying True to His Word

But the man said to Joab, “Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!’ Otherwise I would have dealt falsely against my own life. For there is nothing hidden from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me.”

2 Samuel 18:12-13

This man followed David’s orders––he respected the king and his son. He would not lift a hand against Absalom. It did not matter how much silver he was offered he would not compromise. Here was a man who stayed true to the king’s word. However, there are those people in leadership who become like Joab, they do not follow orders.
Under Joshua’s command, Israel went out to battle and they were defeated. Why? Sin was in the camp. Joshua cried out to the Lord who then told him: For they [Israel] have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff (Joshua 7:11). It was eventually discovered, that Achan had not followed God’s commands; he had taken spoils from their enemies. He confessed to Joshua what he had done:
…“Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel… When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them…they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it” (Joshua 7:20-21).
Achan had taken these items to his own detriment, it cost not only his life but the rest of his family paid the price for his sin (Joshua 7:24-26). If only we would realize that our disobedience is a sin that affects our families.
Nothing is more fatal to us than to refuse
to give ourselves in obedience to God.
~John Calvin~

A Silver Reward

Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!” So Joab said to the man who told him, “You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt.”

2 Samuel 18:10-11

Sure enough it did not take long before a man spotted Absalom hanging in a tree. He went and told Joab who wondered at the man’s failed opportunity to take the king’s son’s life, after all, he was completely defenseless. Joab would have given him a handsome reward for the slaughter of this troublesome prince.
Joab utterly disregarded the king’s command not to harm Absalom. As chief commander he does not know how to follow orders. He wanted this man to compromise and strike at Absalom while he hung helpless. Joab was the kind of leader who felt he knew better. In the future, his decisions would have serious consequences.
King Saul, when he disobeyed the commandment of God to wipe out the Amalekites, also suffered harsh consequences. He over stepped his bounds when he kept their ruler, King Agag, alive and took the best from the spoils of war (1 Samuel 15:1-3; 8-9). In pretense from the herds he offered burnt sacrifices to the Lord. In his failure, Samuel the prophet, in an open rebuke told King Saul:
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Saul’s actions were rebellious, he had the kingdom ripped away from him, God had already chosen another king––David (1 Samuel 15:28). Obedience is better than sacrifice––remember that!
Sacrifice without obedience is sacrilege.
~William Gurnall~

A Tale of Unfortunate Events

…the woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on.

2 Samuel 18:8-9

The woods of Ephraim were believed to be located in Gilead; east of the Jordan. There are no other references of this place in the Bible. It was thick with oak trees and clearly by God’s hand, Absalom’s men were devoured by fire, wild beasts or other dangers in the woods.
Even Absalom became entrapped by one of these great terebinth trees, as his mule went under its thick branches; he was caught by his head. Many people mistakenly say he was caught by his thick hair but that was not the case. Imagine, he was just left hanging; unable to free himself. This was a very unfortunate event in Absalom’s life; in the heat of the battle––he was left completely vulnerable. Another traitor left hanging.
Where were the loyal men in Absalom’s life now? Was there no one to rescue him? It would not be long before the proud prince would be discovered. I can only imagine what was going on through his mind as he hung there, humiliated in that huge tree.
We must learn from Absalom’s mistakes in life. Our bad decisions can literally leave us hanging––in a vulnerable place for our enemies to find us. Take a spiritual inventory of your life today. Humble yourself before the Lord, if you do not change the direction of your life you may also find yourself heading into some unfortunate events.
God has a plan and the devil has a plan, and you will have to decide which plan you are going to fit into.
~Billy Graham~

The Battle Begins

So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel. And the battle was in the woods of Ephraim. The people of Israel were overthrown there before the servants of David, and a great slaughter of twenty thousand took place there that day. For the battle there was scattered over the face of the whole countryside…

2 Samuel 18:6-8

As David’s men went out to begin the battle, in the back of their minds they carried with them the king’s final words: “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (2 Samuel 18:5). David was a godly king and God had given his army His favor; they were winning the battle. Imagine, already twenty thousand of Israel’s men lay dead over the countryside––that was a lot of people; too many for our minds to even comprehend.
When we first become a Christian we enter into a spiritual warfare––the battle begins. We must carry in our minds and heart the Word of God. His Word is compared to a sword and is a part of our spiritual weaponry. The Apostle Paul clarified this important piece of armory by saying: …the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). As we use this sword as a weapon, we will overthrow the enemy when he attacks.
Jesus, when led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, used the Word of God effectively against Satan who tempted Him (Matthew 4:1-11). As Satan twisted and misused Scripture in his attempts to test Jesus, our Lord spoke the Word of God to defeat him. Each time He stated in His rebuke of the enemy: “It is written…”
Do you know what is written in God’s Word? The Holy Spirit can only bring back to your remembrance the things you have already read and studied in the Bible (John 14:26). You cannot expect to win this spiritual battle unless you know how to handle the sword of the spirit correctly.
Oh that we would hunger to be filled with the Word of God; for there is no greater armor, no greater strength…
~Billy Graham~

A Serious Charge

Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands. Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom.

2 Samuel 18:4-5

David took the people’s wise counsel––he had heard their voices and made the right decision to submit to his people. He stood by the gate with the knowledge that his men were going after his son Absalom. His heart was so tender towards his son; as a father he still loved him.
Ironically Absalom, in his betrayal of his father, had been by the gate of Jerusalem to win the heart of the people. But no matter how wicked he had become David was still his father and Absalom was still his son. So at the gate of Mahanaim, the king gave a serious charge in everyone’s hearing, not to harm his son. But would everyone obey and listen?
Joshua the son of Nun, leader to the children of Israel gave a serious charge as he neared his death. He told the people in Joshua 24:14-15:
Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth …Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
As a Christian you must live in the fear of the Lord––stand in awe of who He is. If anything comes before the Lord in your life, it can become an idol. We must take Joshua’s charge seriously. Will you serve the LORD?
God deserves to be served with all the energy of which we are capable.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

A Man of Worth

But the people answered, “You shall not go out! For if we flee away, they will not care about us; nor if half of us die, will they care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us now. For you are now more help to us in the city.”

2 Samuel 18:3

All the people strongly opposed David’s decision––he should not go out to battle! There was no sarcasm or betrayal in their words; they were not overruling his decision as their king. They just spoke from their hearts because they loved him and wanted to give him wisdom. They tried to convince him that his life was worth ten thousand of his men! They were dispensable, as their king he was indispensable.
Notice the people’s respect and the high view they had of David. They knew his leadership––he had humbled himself and had not gone against his son—he loved him. But if David went out to battle, he would become the enemy’s main target. If he remained safe in the city, his men could fight unhindered by their concerns for their king.
David’s men placed a high value on their king, but it is God who values each of our lives and seeks to work on our behalf. Second Chronicles 16:9 tells us: For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
As David asked God to cleanse his life of sin in true repentance (Psalm 51); God worked on his behalf. God can only use a man who has cleansed his ways (Psalm 119:9). He used him to do great things for His kingdom. He can make them into men of worth:
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
Assurance makes most for your comfort, but holiness makes most for God's honour.
~Thomas Brooks~

Battle Ready

And David numbered the people who were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. Then David sent out one third of the people under the hand of Joab, one third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, “I also will surely go out with you myself.”

2 Samuel 18:1-2

King David was a seasoned warrior who strategically divided his men into ranks for battle. David had at least one thousand men in each division and placed them under three main captains. He had chosen his most trusted men to lead the attack against Absalom; each one stood unified behind their king.
Joab, being the chief captain over all of David’s army, was always mentioned first. Second was Abishai, Joab’s brother, was famous for his amazing fighting skills. Then third, interestingly, was Ittai, the man David was first unsure of and had asked him to go back and remain behind. Ittai had only been with David a day when Absalom’s revolt happened and the king had to flee the city (2 Samuel 15:19-20). Ittai had answered David:
“As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be” (2 Samuel 15:21).
Ittai meant what he had spoken that day to David. Now the king trusted him to lead another third of his men. David and his army were now battle ready. David determinedly told the people he was prepared to face Absalom’s forces with them. He would fight alongside his men.
You cannot sit back in fear and panic while the enemy steadily advances against you. Learn from David as a leader; you need good strategy skills and good leadership behind you or the enemy will never be defeated.
Everything rises and falls on leadership.
~John C. Maxwell~

Purposeful Provisions

Now it happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the people of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds, honey and curds, sheep and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him to eat. For they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”

2 Samuel 17:27-29

These men came together to send relief to David and his people. Their purposeful provisions were greatly appreciated. How different was their giving to David than from Ziba, who had his own schemes. These men had no strings attached and no secret agenda’s as they gave.
It is cool how God provides. Even though David was in trouble with Absalom––hated by his own son, he knew God loved him and would take care of him. David was not worried about the provisions he needed; he had always trusted in the Lord. At this difficult time, David never turned his back on God––he was fully aware of how good God was to him. He could always call on the name of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul also praised God for provisions sent to him by Epaphroditus. God had supplied his needs; he knew the Lord would also supply theirs:
…I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you… and my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:18-19).
One thing about being a leader is you can always call on the Lord for everything and anything God wants to do in and through your life.
God's work, done in God's way will never lack God's supply.
~James Hudson Taylor~

A Matter of Family

Then David went to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite,who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. So Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

2 Samuel 17:24-26

David moved to Mahanaim meaning––two camps or two armies. It was a city believed to be ten miles east of the River Jordan or further upstream on the river Jabbok. In Genesis 32:2, Jacob, after seeing the angels of God, said: “This is the camp of God.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. In this battle there were two camps––David who came into the city: ‘The Camp of God’ and Absalom who camped in the land of Gilead.
Absalom, with all Israel at his side, closed in on his father. Joab, David’s nephew, remained loyal to his king, as his chief captain. Absalom needed to choose a new leader for his men––Amasa, Joab’s first cousin was chosen. This gives us a broader picture as to the depth of division within David’s family. The war was very much a family matter; relative against relative in a battle to the death.
In ministry, it is not always good to place a close relative or friend in a position of leadership. It can become a grave mistake. Just because you are close to that person does not mean they should be placed in a position of leadership. Often they let you down or can become overly familiar with you and that can lead to feelings of contempt.
It is important to place people in a position of leadership who have God’s anointing and His call on their lives––once trained they will stay loyal behind you.
As a leader, you will never get ahead until your people are behind you. ~John C. Maxwell~

Sad Suicide

Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.

2 Samuel 17:23

Ahithophel obviously distraught that his advice was not taken by Absalom decided to take his own life. Perhaps he was unable to live with Absalom’s decision because it made him lose prestige among the people? Whatever the case, his suicide was a selfish act and his name can be added to the other traitors who either hung themselves or were hung: Haman (Esther 7:9-10); and Judas (Matthew 27:5).
Suicide is a very sensitive issue. In some cases committing suicide can be a selfish act that places terrible guilt and sorrow on family members left behind––many will question: Did the person kill themselves because of me? Could I have done something to prevent their death?
But other circumstances can bring people to the point of suicide: A deep sense of hopelessness, excessive stress and anxiety. Even our youth are committing suicide––to escape from school bullies or other difficult situations. Others suffer from mental illnesses, which affects their choices.
Life is a gift––the giver of life is God. In John10:10, Jesus taught us an important truth to consider: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Satan wants you to end your life, Jesus wants you to live and serve Him. If you find yourself contemplating the decision of suicide it is important to reach out to a pastor; as well as a professional doctor for help.
God alone made life, and God alone can tell us its meaning.
~J. I. Packer~

Counter Moves

Now it came to pass, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well and went and told King David, and said to David, “Arise and cross over the water quickly. For thus has Ahithophel advised against you.” So David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed over the Jordan. By morning light not one of them was left who had not gone over the Jordan.

2 Samuel 17:21-22

Jonathan and Ahimaaz were able to come out of hiding undetected. The two of them gave David vital information, not only about how Hushai advised Absalom (2 Samuel 17:15), but they informed him about the treacherous advice of Ahithophel. David, warned of the intended move against him, quickly acted and moved all the people across the Jordan by morning light.
What did God do? God used people to help David, they trusted him. He protected David and moved him into another safe place. Otherwise, his enemies would have caught up to him when he was vulnerable; he would have been finished. David would later write in 2 Samuel 22:2-3:
The LORD is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer. The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.
Like David, God can use people to come alongside and help you. If they can trust you; they will find ways to protect you. God has always surrounded me with godly men who have protected my life. How about your life? Who has God sent to help, warn, protect and give you wise counsel?
The LORD shall preserve you from evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
~Psalm 121:7~

Dangerous Inquiries

And when Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” So the woman said to them, “They have gone over the water brook.” And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 17:20

The servant woman not only hid the priest’s sons but was able to survive the probing inquiry from Absalom’s servants. They had come to the very door of her house looking for them. However, she redirected Absalom’s men to search for Ahimaaz and Jonathan over the water brook; when the coast was clear they would escape.
Once again there is an identical comparison found in the story of Rahab. When she hid the spies Joshua sent, she cleverly redirected the men, who were sent by the King of Jericho, who inquired after them. She told them:
… “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them” (Joshua 2:4-5).
During World War II, the Nazi’s raided and made inquiries at the homes of people who may have hidden and aided Jewish men, women and children. Many were trying to escape German persecution. Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who saved an estimated 800 lives before being arrested and sent to jail along with her family.
We are living in a time where Christian persecution has escalated especially in the Middle East. If you were faced with a similar situation would you do the same?
It is not the blood but the cause that makes a martyr.
~Thomas Brooks~

Our Hiding Place

Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom. But both of them went away quickly and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, who had a well in his court; and they went down into it. Then the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and spread ground grain on it; and the thing was not known.

2 Samuel 17:18-19

Imagine this female servant placed her life on the line; she trusted David’s plans because he trusted the Lord. She sought to help him in any way she could. She hid the priest’s sons in a well, otherwise these young men would have been killed. The story is very similar to Rahab’s; when she hid the two spies on her roof and covered them with the flax (Joshua 2:4-6).
Rahab hid the spies because she had heard the stories of how their God had delivered the children of Israel from their enemies (Joshua 2:8-11). Rahab came to trust God for her salvation and asked for deliverance and for her family. As instructed by the spies she hung a scarlet cord from her window and shut herself and her family in her home until God’s judgment, the destruction of the city of Jericho had passed. Imagine her house was the only one left standing! (Joshua 2:12-20; 6:22-23).
When you are in trouble and in need of deliverance, place your trust in God as your hiding place. God calls to His people:
Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past (Isaiah 26:20).
Like Rahab perhaps you have heard of God but you still need to accept him for your salvation. Jesus’ scarlet blood paid the price for your eternal deliverance (1 Peter 1:19). Call on His name to be saved.
You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
~Psalm 32:7~

Undercover Messages

Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed at En Rogel, for they dared not be seen coming into the city; so a female servant would come and tell them, and they would go and tell King David.

2 Samuel 17:17

These two undercover spies stayed in the area of the Kidron Valley. These informants would raise suspicion if they were seen in plain view on the streets of the city, so instead another undercover spy from inside the city would go to them. She was a nameless servant girl, her movements would not be followed or raise any concern.
Notice, these loyal people who loved David and did not want him to get hurt––they were helping him. This ordinary woman made a difference when she carried important messages to her king. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
In the case of another young servant, a girl from Israel made a difference in the life of a foreign commander of the king of Syria––Naaman. He was diseased with leprosy. She cared enough to pass on a message to him through his wife, who she served. Elijah, the prophet in Samaria, could heal him of his leprosy. After Naaman met the prophet and eventually submitted to what he was told to do, he was completely healed of his leprosy. The young girl was a common slave but God used her to share valuable information that saved his life (2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-14).
How about yourself? In Biblical typology leprosy represents sin––a deadly disease. Can you share the message of the Gospel with others and tell them about the person of Christ––He is the Great Physician? This important information can lead them to be healed spiritually and even physically, if God wills, but in the end their souls can be saved eternally!
There are no incurable cases under the gospel. Any sinner may be healed if he will only come to Christ.
~J. C. Ryle~

Swift Words of Warning

Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so I have advised. Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, ‘Do not spend this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily cross over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.’”

2 Samuel 17:15-16

Hushai lost no time and told the faithful priests everything that was spoken between himself, Absalom and the elders of Israel. As joint conspirators they would send word to his friend David. Once warned he would have time to take action. The king would cross over to the west, the east side of the Jordan River to keep everyone safe from Absalom.
At this time in his life David was so sensitive to the Spirit of God. Remember when he had sinned against God and His Spirit was no longer leading him? His sin affected his family line from: Tamar, Amnon and now Absalom, his life went tragically downhill from the moment he had sinned with Bathsheba. In his pain, David recognized he had reaped to his sin––big time.
Yet, when he repented, the Holy Spirit was completely back in his life (Psalm 51); God’s Spirit was once again guiding his steps. Psalm 37:23 tells us: The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Despite David’s mistakes God was still working to bring about good in his life (Romans 8:28).
First Corinthians 10:11 explains that stories from the Bible are written for our example: Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition… but many times the problem is there is no true repentance in our lives. Learn to avoid David’s mistakes so God can once again bring His guidance and goodness back into your life.
Our sovereign God never lets so much as a shadow fall across our lives without intending it to be for his glory and our good.
~John Blanchard~

Independence Day

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free…

Galatians 5:1

“Give me liberty or give me death!” were the passionate words echoed from a speech given by Patrick Henry at the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John’s church in Richmond, Virginia. The unforgettable, compelling speech influenced Virginians and the following events that lead to our American Independence. A resolution was formed declaring the united colonies to be independent from Great Britain.
George Washington attended that convention and later he would lead our forces against the bondage of British tyranny and taxation. He remains notable for becoming one of our founding fathers, the commander-in-chief of the colonial armies in The Revolutionary War and our first president.
Many fought and died for our liberty. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, but it was not until after the American Revolution ended that we won our independence from Great Britain. We became ‘One Nation Under God.’
Our founding fathers wrote The Declaration of Independence based on Biblical principles: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness––but how is true liberty attained?
Only Christ can give us true liberty––freedom from our sins, but if you will not have this life of liberty for which Christ died then you have chosen eternal death. Which do you want God to give you––liberty or death?
Now the Lord is the Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
~2 Corinthians 3:17~

Decision that Spelled Disaster

So Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring disaster on Absalom.

2 Samuel 17:14

Absalom and all Israel agreed unanimously––Hushai’s advice was better than Ahithophel’s. What was transpiring was exactly what God intended. Now we see a clearer picture of how God is moving behind the scenes in bringing about disaster on Absalom for his disgraceful rebellion.
This is a verse in the Bible you should underline––memorize it. Do not forget what is taught here. Why? Who is in control? God is in control––amazing! With the good advice of Hushai, God has set a trap for Absalom, he will be defeated. It is important to understand that God needed to remove David’s son or he would have continued to be a pain in his side. Although this was going to hurt David tremendously, with Absalom out of the way, David could then return to the throne.
David always trusted the Lord for his deliverance, he wrote: My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net (Psalm 25:15). According to God’s just character, He has a sovereign method of turning a person’s evil intent back on themselves. It involves the natural law of reaping and sowing (Galatians 6:7); and the merciful answer to the prayers of the persecuted. Meditate on the Psalmist’s prayers: The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised (Psalm 10:2); Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I escape safely (Psalm 141:10).
Is the enemy trying to entrap you? Pray to the Lord for a quick escape.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
for You are my strength.
~Psalm 31:4~

A Cities Stones

Moreover, if he has withdrawn into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city; and we will pull it into the river, until there is not one small stone found there.”

2 Samuel 17:13

Hushai described to Absalom how pointless it would be for David if he retreated into a city. With all of Israel behind him they would use ropes and if need be, pull the city down stone by stone. Notice their persistency, there was no safe haven or fortified city that could keep him safe.
Jerusalem is regarded as a holy city. Our Lord, even as a child, often visited there; it was a city He loved and wept over. Being God, He knew the future of this ‘City of Peace’ and prophetically told his disciples of its destruction:
…Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it… For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
Just as Jesus said in AD 70, forty years later, Roman armies under Titus lay siege to the city. The temple was set on fire. As it burned the gold from the temple melted from the fierce heat and settled in the massive stones. The soldiers greedy for the precious gold ordered the temple walls to be taken down stone by stone so the gold could be extracted.
Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt in history––but this earthly city is a shadow of a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, a glorious city built with precious stones that will be our dwelling place for all eternity.
And the foundations of the wall of the city
were garnished with all manner of precious stones.
~Revelation 21:19~

Drawn into Battle

Therefore I advise that all Israel be fully gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, like the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. So we will come upon him in some place where he may be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground. And of him and all the men who are with him there shall not be leftso much as one.

2 Samuel 17:11-12

Hushai had a different view point. This battle would no longer be about one person’s personal vendetta; Ahithophel’s meager attempt to seek and destroy David with only twelve thousand men. He advised a war of immense magnitude. All Israel, an army of men as the sand of the sea, would be gathered behind Absalom. The son would meet his father on the battle field. Sword against sword; a nation divided, until David and his mighty men were obliterated by the multitudes.
This was incredibly sad––instead of a father and son riding together in unity against the Lord’s enemies they would battle against each other. As plans were being considered; what would be the awful outcome? In times of crisis we do not always see the outcome. We do not hear all the secret plans of our enemies behind the scenes. In fact, we are blind to their thoughts and the intents of their hearts. But God is not; He is all seeing and all hearing.
In a difficult time Hagar, who was with child, ran away from Sarai who dealt with her harshly. But God met her in the wilderness, He had seen and heard what had happened and encouraged her to return. He told her the outcome would be favorable and let her know the future concerning her son. God had not only seen but heard Hagar’s affliction and appeared to help her. Hagar called the name of the Lord El Roi––You are the God who sees (Genesis 16:13). She had learned a new attribute of God.
To know God's name is to know something of his nature.
~John Blanchard~

Loyal Valiant Men

And even he who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt completely. For all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and those who are with him are valiant men.

2 Samuel 17:10

Once again Hushai, in his counsel, reminded Absalom of his father’s strength. His vitality was that of an experienced warrior––mighty in battle. Even valiant men who had the heart of a lion would melt before him. It was as if he was saying to Absalom––“do you not know your father?” David’s choice men were the same stature; in battle just one of his men could defeat hundreds of their enemies!
Hushai cleverly made Ahithophel’s counsel look inaccurate. He was wrong to paint a picture of a weak and weary king, who would be afraid in battle and go hide. In fact, quite the opposite was true––David and his men were prepared for war. These were battle worthy men, loyal and valiant. They would be found ready and waiting; and they were willing to die. Their loyalty was proven in life and in death. They would consider it an honor to die for their king.
Hopefully Hushai’s bold statements caused Absalom to think twice about engaging his father in battle. Absalom continued to listen to Hushai. Soon it would be time to consider what he had been told. Whose advice will he listen to? Absalom’s decisions would be played out based on his choice.
Life is full of important decisions; especially concerning life and death. Consider where you want to spend eternity. If you accept Jesus as your Savior by repenting of your sins; you are making the best choice!
If you are a loyal disciple of Christ then be valiant for Him. Your loyalty will be proven in your call to follow Him. He asked all His disciples: … “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
The cross of Christ is the key of paradise.
~Anon~

A Turn of Events

Surely by now he is hidden in some pit, or in some other place. And it will be, when some of them are overthrown at the first, that whoever hears it will say, ‘There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’

2 Samuel 17:9

Hushai continued his sound advice to Absalom. David was a seasoned warrior who was not going to stick around waiting to be attacked.Think about it; he was obviously going to plan ahead and strategize. David was masterful in warfare and would be well hidden. He would be armed, dangerous and ready for Absalom’s approach.
Notice how Hushai carefully used his words. He warned Absalom that even if he was successful in killing some of David’s men, there was a greater possibility of bad news that would return to the people of a great slaughter among his men. In a turn of events, Absalom would be the one to look weak in front of the people. What would happen then?
Wise advice should make you think. It should cause you to examine your life and actions. A good friend and counselor will help you consider the outcome of your choices. They may have the insight to see the direction your life is taking and give fair warning: “If you continue down this road where will you end up?” If you listen to them and change your choice of direction you can often avoid a fatal disaster.
The book of Proverbs urges its readers to listen to godly counsel. Proverbs 19:20 says: Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.
Then when you are old you will not live with regret over your foolish decisions.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but he who heeds counsel is wise.
~Proverbs 12:15~

Getting the Right Prospective

For,” said Hushai, “you know your father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are enraged in their minds, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field; and your father is a man of war, and will not camp with the people.

2 Samuel 17:8

Hushai used God’s wisdom in his advice and was able to remind Absalom of his father’s strength. He painted a very different picture with his words than Ahithophel, who made David sound weak and vulnerable. In modern terms it was like saying: “You are messing with the wrong person; your father is a man of war!” He wanted him to get the right perspective.
Absalom had the greatest father––the father of fathers. David was famous for killing the giant Goliath. He was a man of war having won victory after victory. As the king of Israel, he was submitted to God with a humble attitude and godly character. Imagine how many young men would have loved to have David as their father? He would have sharpened them into mighty men.
Within Hushai’s message was a strong exhortation, a reminder of who Absalom was coming against. He should have repented, but the influence of listening to bad counsel had taken hold of him. He did not receive the exhortation and still believed he could over rule his father. He should never have thought that!
In families today you see the same problems. Be careful of deception where Satan has brainwashed a person in the family. When this happens, sadly a son can come against his father or a daughter against her mother; even to the point where they abuse their parents. Like David who had his flaws, our parents are not perfect but God still expects us to honor, respect and treat them with dignity (Deuteronomy 5:16).
Youth is a time of life wherein we have too much pride to be governed by others, and too little wisdom to govern ourselves.
~Henry Scougal~

Overthrowing Bad Advice with Good

So Hushai said to Absalom: “The advice that Ahithophel has given is not good at this time.

2 Samuel 17:7

In an effort to over throw the words of Ahithophel; Hushai, politely and to the point, told Absalom that Ahithophel’s words at this time were not good. It is very important for us to understand that the Lord is in complete control of this situation. God will give Hushai the right words to say and in doing so the tables would be turned on Absalom––a change in plans, which would benefit David.
When there is a division in your family the first thing you need to do is pray. Then wait on the Lord. He will lead you and help you respond in peace. Realize that the situation may look out of control but in reality God is still in control. If you do not pause to pray you will make a deadly move that will adversely affect the situation.
Put into practice the advice given in these Scriptures before you say anything:
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18, ESV).
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness (Proverbs 15:1-2).
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
It may be that God will use the wisdom of your words to turn a bad situation around for good; to benefit your family and not hurt them.
My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart
shall give understanding.
~Psalm 49:3~

A Time to Speak

Then Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he says too.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom spoke to him, saying, “Ahithophel has spoken in this manner. Shall we do as he says? If not, speak up.”

2 Samuel 17:5-6

Absalom and the elders of Israel wanted to hear next from Hushai. As an experienced elder; would he agree with the counsel given by Ahithophel? If he did not agree, now was the perfect time to speak up. Here was the moment Hushai had waited for, an opportunity to give his counsel. Imagine, he was used by the Lord to speak up at the right place and time.
I have always surrounded myself with older seasoned men in the ministry––Chuck Smith, Dr. Duffield, Dr. Orr and Alan Redpath. All these godly men have invested their lives into younger pastors. I could tell they genuinely loved us; that is why I respected them. At retreats they had their own rooms, yet they would call me over to share and give me counsel. When they spoke, I listened!
These men were not perfect but they were known for their integrity and blamelessness. There was no sexual immortality or mishandling of any church finances. As a young pastor their advice helped me; especially for the future. I thank God for their wisdom and knowledge.
There is a time to speak; but when is that occasion? Look around you; can you not use God’s words of wisdom and the experience you have gained to pour into others? We should speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). Then there may come a time when, like the Apostle Paul, you have to speak up on Christ’s behalf and not be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:19-20).
To everything there is a season…
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7~

Strike Only the King!

...And all the people who are with him will flee, and I will strike only the king. Then I will bring back all the people to you. When all return except the man whom you seek, all the people will be at peace.” And the saying pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

2 Samuel 17:2-4

Ahithophel was intent on killing one man––David. His rage poured into his determined plans––his onslaught against the weakened king. He would pursue David, a notable man; a shepherd boy who became the Lord’s anointed king. Once he was eliminated then everything would be at peace with the people and the city; but in reality Ahithophel, David’s hypocritical counselor, was the problem. His words only pleased the listeners. How lost was Absalom to agree to his father’s murder––can you believe this?
Besides, why did Ahithophel think David’s men were going to flee? Opposite to his belief they would step forward and defend him. They were close to the heart of David and his mighty men would be first on the front lines. They were willing to lay down their lives for him! These fighters were faithful to God and would rally to one man––their beloved king.
The Pharisees and Sadducees believed Jesus Christ was a problem. They saw him in a different light. He was a blasphemer who broke the law (Luke 23:2; Matthew 12:9-14; Matthew 26:65). This madman, needed to be killed (John 10:20, 31-33). Then the people would be brought back into a unified peace under Moses’ law and their hypocritical leadership.
These religious leaders would strike only at Christ and in His arrest the disciples were scattered from their Shepherd. He was then crucified. Prophecy was fulfilled in Zechariah 13:7: …“Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered…” After He resurrected, they gathered together in an upper room, once empowered they would die for their king!
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.
~Jim Elliot~

The Conspirator’s Counsel

Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and weak, and make him afraid…

2 Samuel 17:1-2

Ahithophel was so embittered against David when he defected to Absalom’s side. He had some kind of grudge against him and offered more poisoned advice to Absalom. He wanted to take twelve thousand men and be done with him. Why not annihilate him while he was weak? A surprise attack would be best. It would catch David off guard and he would be filled with insurmountable fear.
How would Absalom, the king’s son respond to Ahithophel’s request? His own father’s death was being planned out but was there no feeling for his father? Can he really be that cold hearted towards him? He was completely distant from his father, as his son there was no relationship with him––it was as if he was dead to Absalom.
Yet, David still loved his son deeply and instead of hurting him, his mindset was, “let him hurt me.” Remember, David did not want to make any trouble and left the city in peace. David allowed God’s purposes to unfold even in his pain. He knew God had called him to be king and was capable of his defense. Many times David had experienced God’s help in a crisis. He wrote: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).
Satan will come along when you are weary and weak. He attacks you when you least expect it to make you fearful. The devil tries to make you take your eyes off Jesus and place them on man. But Jesus is the one who lifts me, holds me, leads me, guides me and defeats my enemies every single day!
If God is for us, who can be against us?
~Romans 8:31~

The Oracles of God

Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

2 Samuel 16:23

Ahithophel’s advice was believed to be like the very Word of God. His counsel to Absalom was considered to be the same as with David. But in his rebellion with Absalom; these renegades had completely lost their discernment.
You may experience people, who seem very spiritual, that come up to you and say, “The Lord told me to tell you this.” They feel that God only speaks through them. Really––can God not speak to me directly? Of course He can! Be very careful of people like that; usually they deliberately want to get close to those in leadership, they have their own agenda. Instead of being a help they become a real danger to you!
If something like this happens to you; write down what was said and see if it comes to pass. Often what was said will turn out to be false; the person had not heard from God. It is important to direct that person to the Scriptures; as God speaks to His people by them. He has given us the Holy Spirit who teaches us what is true. First John 2:27 tells us the Holy Spirits function in the life of a Christian:
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
Are you fully aware of those surrounding you, who are influencing your decisions? Does their advice conflict with God’s Word?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
~Psalm 32:8~

Abominable Sin

And Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong.” So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

2 Samuel 16:21-22

Ahithophel was a treacherous backstabber, who now hated David. He now gave Absalom the worst advice. He found a way to humiliate and hurt his old friend. He advised the king’s son to rape his father’s concubines; the ten who were left behind to keep the palace (2 Samuel 15:16). What ungodly counsel! Absalom listened to his detestable advice and raped every one of them! These terrible acts were debase, an utter debauchery of the ten women who were left vulnerable without protection.
God who is all knowing––omniscient, by the mouth of His prophet Nathan foretold this event would happen. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba in secret; but Absalom’s abominable sin was done openly before all Israel. Second Samuel 12:11-12 reminds us of what God had spoken to David:
Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”
God’s Word had come to pass. Sadly, David had reaped the heavy consequences of his sin.
Each man's sin is the instrument of his punishment,
and his iniquity is turned into his torment.
~Augustine~

When Giving Advice

Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give advice as to what we should do.”

2 Samuel 16:20

Absalom tragically sought advice from Ahithophel in his next move to overtake the kingdom. David needed to be crushed as he continued to strengthen his hold on the nation. He did not ask advice from Hashai, at this time, but listened to the bad advice of Ahithophel. Unfortunately, his given counsel would be terrible and the consequences even worse.
Many times we are called upon to give advice to others. As Christians, we should never give our own opinions, our counsel should always be according to God’s Word. His Word is holy––it is pure and those who fear God should regard its principles and instructions carefully. Psalm 19:7-8 describes the effect God’s Word has in a person’s life:
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Before you give advice to others make sure you know what God’s Word says and be sure it is God speaking. Always point others to the cross of Christ and not yourselves. Teach them to listen for the Lord’s voice as He speaks to them through the Scriptures. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…
Always give counsel from Jesus’ words written in the Bible.
It is better to preach five words of God’s Word than
five million words of man’s wisdom.
~Charles H. Spurgeon~

Whom shall I Serve?

And Hushai said to Absalom, “No, but whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel choose, his I will be, and with him I will remain. Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so will I be in your presence.”

2 Samuel 16:18-19

Notice Hushai’s statement to Absalom –– he is not actually lying. He would have been a godly advisor and influenced Absalom for good. If his upright advice had been taken; it might have given the Holy Spirit opportunity to convict Absalom. However, Hushai knew he was placed there for God’s purposes and remained centered on the Lord. He did not agree with what Absalom was doing but at the same time he is not going to betray David. The Lord protected Hushai and his words were taken at face value––Absalom accepted them for what they appeared to be.
Imagine how different this situation could have been if Absalom had listened to his God fearing elders and repented. If only he had humbly said to his father, “I am sorry; I allowed pride to come into my heart and thought I could be great. I foolishly believed my own lies and thought I could handle ruling the kingdom and its people myself. I became self-deceived and let it go to my head; even to the point of getting rid of you––my father. I know the kingdom belongs to the Lord, it is not mine to take.”
Imagine the problems that could be solved if only we would listen to our elders good counsel and the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Pay attention to those who warn you about something that could destroy your life or bring you into a bad reputation.
When given wise advice, you have to ask yourself––am I listening?
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise.
~Proverbs 12:15~

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

So Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?”

2 Samuel 16:17

God had placed Hushai in the city to be loyal to his friend. The king needed vital information and decisions would be made once David received word from him. Absalom questioned Hushai’s loyalty, since he had been a long-time faithful friend of his father. His life was at risk and his loyalty was examined but his true purpose would remain undetected. He would answer Absalom, to cover up the real reason for being in Jerusalem –– which was to be a spy for David.
Esther was placed in a palace by God for the purpose of saving her people. She was an orphan who was brought up by her cousin Mordecai and later chosen to become queen. She married the Persian king Ahasuerus, who chose her above all other women (Esther 2:17). Haman a descendant of the Amalekites, arch enemies of the Jews, was offended by her cousin Mordecai and sought the Jews annihilation (Esther 3:2-6).
Esther was Jewish but had taken Mordecai’s advice and had hid her identity. When told by Mordecai of Haman’s evil plans, he challenged Esther to speak up on behalf of her people to the king: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). It was a death sentence to approach the king without being summoned; unless he held out his scepter. Her brave attitude was: “if I perish I perish.” (Esther 4:16). God used Esther to save the Jews from destruction (Esther 9).
It is very important to be loyal in the providential places God positions us. Your loyalty will be brought to the test, but remember it could be that God will use you to help His people. If you are among treacherous people ask God for wisdom and discernment as you take action to protect others in God’s kingdom.
Our spirits are most satisfied when we discern God's aim in everything.
~Thomas Manton~

Long Live the King

Meanwhile Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem; and Ahithophel was with him. And so it was, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

2 Samuel 16:15-16

Absalom easily moved into Jerusalem with no resistance as David and his company had fled. Those he had influenced, including his trusted advisor Ahithophel, were united by his side. Enthusiastically and with a bold statement of allegiance Hushai greeted Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” This declaration not only wished the new monarch long life, but that his reign would flourish and prosper. Hushai pretended to be loyal to Absalom when in reality he was loyal to David.
Long life and blessings come from the Lord: For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you (Proverbs 9:11). The premise for Solomon’s blessed reign was obedience. First Kings 3:14 tells us these instructive truths: "If you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
Psalm 91:16 is a promise for those who know God: With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation. When our children obey God’s Word they too are blessed with a promise:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
The secret of long life is to fear the LORD!
The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
~Proverbs 10:27~

Be Refreshed

Now the king and all the people who were with him became weary; so they refreshed themselves there.

2 Samuel 16:14

Notice, David and his servants were physically exhausted––their escape from the city would have caused them to use all their energy without much rest. They had endured much, including Shimei who had thrown insults, stones and kicked up dust at them. It was necessary and wise for them to all rest as they had become extremely weary.
David was acquainted with resting in the Lord. It is believed that he wrote Psalm 23 during his escape from Saul. Others believed it was penned towards the peaceful end of his life. Whether in times of war or peace, his experiences of intimacy and rest with God are reflected:
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over (Psalm 23:2-3, 5).
How we need to learn from this shepherd leader who became king. He saw the Lord as His Shepherd who led him to green pastures to rest and be fully restored. Even though his enemies may have been close at hand, he still experienced a spiritual feast of fellowship with the Lord.
It is important to realize when you have reached a place in your life where you need to rest. One reason people do not have longevity in ministry is because they do not take care of themselves. Our body and spirit needs to recover from physical and spiritual exertion. Take time to restore your soul; be alone with God so He can speak to you, then your mind and heart will be clear.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…
~Psalm 37:7~

Stepping Over the Line

It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust.

2 Samuel 16:12-13

David knew his God. When he willingly suffered affliction he looked to the Lord to bring good out of the evil done to him. Shimei had stepped over the line; he went beyond what was accepted when he showed the depth of his anger and frustration. I can only imagine this scene; if he had a sword he would have killed David!
Later on, towards the end of David’s life, Solomon was prepared by his father to be the next king. He gave him wise advice concerning Shimei. He made sure Solomon knew about his insolent behavior towards him during the time he fled from Jerusalem. During David’s reign Shimei was shown mercy. However, David knew if he troubled him he would surely become a problem to Solomon in the future.
Solomon, in establishing his kingdom, needed to make sure he took care of this man. In 1 Kings 2:8-9, we read David’s counsel to his son:
And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood.”
Solomon drew a line for Shimei not to cross over. He was to remain in the city of Jerusalem. If he left those bounds he would die. He later crossed that line and lost his life (1 Kings 2:36-46).
God will give the rebel what he chooses and what he deserves.
~Simon Austen~

Adding Insult to Injury

And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him.

2 Samuel 16:11

David had suffered a deep wound from Absalom; his actions against his own father had caused him an unbearable emotional pain. His favored son, whom he loved greatly, had turned against him. Absalom, not only came to a place where he betrayed his father; he wanted his father dead. David must have asked himself over and over again––How can my son betray me? What caused him to lie to the people and win their hearts? Why did he say I had no time for them when I loved the Lord’s people?
Shimei who cussed, threw stones and dust seemed a small matter compared with what he was going through with his son. For the time being these minor actions against him were easily endured. David numbed by his sorrow let the man continue to add insult to injury.
In our own lives, it is not always those who are distant from us that become our enemies. Most of the time, it is those who are close to us.
From among our own families there are those who have become betrayers. Like Absalom they have become the Judas’ and they have caused great emotional suffering in our lives.
I can think of nothing more horrendous than to have our own flesh and blood come against us. But we also endure those who like Shimei will add salt on those wounds. People like him cannot be reasoned with; as they have formed their own opinions of the situation. Like David, leave them alone, embrace God’s Word for comfort and trust in God’s sovereignty.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
~Psalm 23:4~

Solace in God’s Sovereignty

But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

2 Samuel 16:10

David gave a quick rebuke to his men. He thought to himself, “Maybe the Lord did tell him to curse me?” So he permitted him to curse. Notice David’s attitude of love and humility. I believe David still felt guilt over his sin with Bathsheba. He had a sense that he was reaping from his sin and allowed Shimei to continue to rant. David took these consequences to heart but took solace in God’s sovereignty.
David was like us––a sinner. Even though God forgave him he always carried about his guilt. The thoughts of guiltiness are hard to get rid of especially when you know you failed. Have you ever felt like David? Do you think in your mind––“this is happening all because of me?”
Perhaps you are carrying your guilt; even to the point of allowing others to say whatever they want. Read the Scriptures and be comforted. God can place loyal people to come alongside you. They will be a support when others come against you. These friends love you and are zealous to protect and watch over you.
Christians sometimes have a hard time moving forward when they have failed and fallen into sin. But they need to realize that God has forgiven them. First John 1:9 frees anyone stifled by guilt to continually come to the cross: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We do not make a practice of sin but when we fall short, Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sin. In that knowledge you can go forward in your life and not be condemned.
The cross is the cost of my forgiveness.
~Anon~

Off With Your Head

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”

2 Samuel 16:9

David’s whole army was formed from men who were great fighters. These warriors would do whatever it took to protect their king; they were not afraid of anybody. Abishai, the eldest son of Zeruiah, David’s sister, was one of David’s mighty military leaders. He loyally loved his king and at any given time would willingly lay down his life for him. Being protective of David he asked to take off the head of Shimei. It could be easily done; just one quick swipe of his sharp sword and he would be silenced.
The disciple Peter was zealous toward Jesus Christ. Impulsively, he took a sword to Malchus who came with a crowd to arrest his Lord. He may have aimed for his head but took off the servant’s right ear!
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me? “(John 18:10-11).
The Lord rebuked Peter, reminding him of His submission to God’s plan and healed the servant’s ear in Luke 22:51: But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.
Both Abishai and Peter wanted to use their swords; but they needed to learn a lesson of submission by obeying their leader through allowed suffering. Even though Peter denied the Lord, he would repent, become a leader in the church and eventually give his life for the Lord (John 21:18).
To bring our minds under Christ's yoke is not to deny our rationality
but to submit to his revelation.
~John R. W. Stott~

Blood Thirsty Man

Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!”

2 Samuel 16:7-8

Shimei’s words were cutting and painful. Satan used this enemy to defame David and heap upon him horrible condemnation. He had implied that David deserved everything that was happening in his life. God had allowed him to be repaid for the evil he had committed against Saul and his descendants. But David was not a bloodthirsty man––a murderous cut throat! He was never eager to hurt or shed the blood of any man.
David did not defend himself or retaliate against these unjust and railing accusations. David was reaping the consequences for his sin of adultery and the murder of Uriah, but these accusations from Shimei were false and had nothing to do with what was transpiring. What was true about David? He was a mighty man of valor––man of war.
When David desired to build a house for God, the Lord told Him: … ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood… (1 Chronicles 28:2-3, 6). Instead his son Solomon would continue to accomplish the task. This was not a punishment; God honored David at this time. The promise of the Messiah would come through His lineage and his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
When Satan uses people to defame and condemn us, we do not need to defend ourselves. God will take care of the situation fully and completely.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
~ Romans 8:1~

Cursing the King

Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.

2 Samuel 16:5-6

David traveled to Bahurim, a village east of Jerusalem, about four miles from the Mount of Olives. Shimei, another descendant of Saul, had already been infected and brainwashed by Absalom. No doubt he would obviously join Absalom’s revolt. When he saw David, he responded in anger; he hated the sight of him. His anger was so furious it brought him to the point where he cursed continuously and casted stones, not just at David, but all his servants as well!

In Exodus 22:28 the people of Israel were strictly instructed by the Lord: You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people. David’s son Solomon would write in Ecclesiastes 10:20: Do not curse the king, even in your thought… Why? Kings and rulers have been placed in their position by God (Daniel 2:21). When Saul disobeyed God and came against David to kill him, David never raised his hand against him. He feared God and would not touch the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:4-7).

In the fear of God, Christians should take notice of the words that come out of their mouths. Ephesians 4:29 instructs us: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Ask yourself, “Do I still have a problem with anger and cursing at others?”

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.
My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
~James 3:10~

A Reason to Remain

Then the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.’” So the king said to Ziba, “Here, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.” And Ziba said, “I humbly bow before you, that I may find favor in your sight, my lord, O king!”

2 Samuel 16:3-4

Unbelievable! David hears of yet another sad treachery. In his own interest, Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, betrayed David. He was told by Ziba that Mephibosheth thought that Absalom would restore to him Saul’s kingdom. I doubt that! Absalom was too ambitious; he was too busy building his own kingdom. He certainly would not have had the same compassion as his father had towards a lame descendant of King Saul.
However, this was an insult to David, but for his friend Jonathan’s sake showed him great kindness. Apparently unlike Ziba who had returned David’s kindness with generosity, Mephibosheth returned his kindness with treachery. In a time when allegiances were being tested whose hearts were not truly with David in loyalty, were being fully exposed. But was this account told by Ziba really true?
David was still king and when he heard of Mephibosheth’s decision he immediately used his authority to transfer over the lands to Ziba. This lame son of Jonathan was now in complete poverty. His fields were ripped away from under him without him even knowing. Ziba, however, had found favor in the sight of the king. He was rewarded for his faithfulness and humbly bowed before him.
Ziba had destroyed Mephibosheth character and profited by gaining his property. Could this of been Ziba’s goal all along?
The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive.
~A. W. Tozer~

A Means to an End

And the king said to Ziba, “What do you mean to do with these?”So Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who are faint in the wilderness to drink.”

2 Samuel 16:2

David, I am sure was taken back at the sight of Ziba’s supplies. He suspiciously questioned him concerning the use of these rich resources. Ziba had heard of the king’s plight and seemly offered them to the king freely. The king could now ride on a donkey instead of continuing to escape barefoot. Bread and the summer fruit from the fields were used to sustain his fighting men and in the parched wilderness––wine would revive the weak and weary.

Ziba indeed helped bear the burden of this terrible time in David’s life by doing what he could to provide their basic necessities. The king, I am sure, gladly received the supplies with gratitude. But it was only a means to an end; his kind actions were for the sole purpose of achieving something for himself. Ziba may have watched to see if David would decide to come back to Jerusalem. What could he gain in his absence?

I have noticed that when a leader retires people will always look for opportunities to move up. They think about how they can use certain people to get to a place of importance. When you become suspicious of someone watch their actions, what they say and discern their motives. In the end, you will find out their goals. Always pay attention to your suspicions!

It is not enough that our actions be good and praise worthy, if our intentions are not pure and upright. It is to profane
the good to do it with a bad end in view.
~Jean Daillé~

Provision for a Purpose

When David was a little past the top of the mountain, there was Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth, who met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred summer fruits, and a skin of wine.

2 Samuel 16:1

David continued his mournful journey, with his company, as he escaped from Absalom. Yet, another unexpected person appeared. David was met by Ziba, the servant from the house of Saul, to whom David had shown immeasurable kindness. Ziba stood before him with his donkeys laden with fresh bread, raisins, fruits and wine, likely harvested from the very fields David allowed Mephiboseth and Ziba to tend (2 Samuel 9).
When the king fled, there would not have been time to gather enough supplies from the city. A journey to the wilderness meant provisions would have been scarce. Ziba looked very innocent as if he really cared for them; he knew the king and his company were tired. As they were on their way to a desert area they would need something to eat and drink. But he had his own agenda; he acted nice but really he was against David. At this particular moment David could not see his heart, if he could he would see that he was not sincere.
We need to be careful with people who come to us as if they really care about us. In many cases they do not. The truth of the matter is they are secretly ambitious; their only interest is looking for a position or advantage through your adversity.
You have to ask yourself, when you meet with people, are they really for me or against me? Are they just playing the part? What do they expect in return for their kindness?
Ambition is greed for power.
~C. C. Colton~

Trustworthy Informant

So Hushai, David’s friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem

2 Samuel 15:37

Hushai wasted no time and arrived in the troubled city. While David quickly escaped the city, Absalom entered into Jerusalem and laid a powerful hold on the city. He would keep the people under his control, by seeking out the best way to kill his weakened father, including any of those who remained loyal to him.
Absalom needed counsel. Hushai, a loyal friend of David and traitorous son would soon meet. Absalom would think he had gained another faithful counselor when Hushai offered his service. He would easily convince Absalom of his genuine betrayal. As Ahithophel willingly betrayed his old friend David, so would Hushai. Absalom would come to think both counselors were on his side unified, they would be strengthened in their revolt and together they would plan to destroy David.
Unbeknown to Absalom, Hushai’s true motives would remain secret. Any revealed plans would be covertly sent to his father. He had placed himself in danger as a trustworthy informant and if caught he faced certain death. He did not have to be a spy but he did it out of love for David his king.
It may be in times of Christian persecution that the loyalty of our friendships may be tested. Jesus himself warned His disciples: …a man’s enemies will be those of his own household (Matthew 10:36). We need loyal friends; may their actions speak louder than words.
If we found ourselves in need of help and asked one of our closest friends to do something that required placing their own life in danger, would they do it?
Greater love has no one than this,
than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
~John 15:13~

A Solid Collaboration

And do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? Therefore it will be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall tell to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Indeed they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything you hear.”

2 Samuel 15:35-36

Hushai was God’s spy for David but he was not working alone. He was reassured of a solid collaboration of friends working within the city. This loyal circle of friends loved their king and shared a common concern and care towards the people of the Lord. David urged his close friend to send him word by the priest’s sons. He was not to keep silent but tell him everything he had heard.
Whenever we overhear comments that cause division or evil plans to come against an individual or a ministry what should we do? It is not right to withhold the information. If you do, circumstances for others could become increasingly worse. More importantly the people in the church need to be cared for and not infected by those who cause division.
Witnessing divisive talk will place you in a very uncomfortable position. You might feel that you do not want to get involved or it is not your business. In reality it tests your friendship and requires your loyalty. But consider the probability of you being in the right place at the right time to overhear that conversation. The Lord allowed you to hear for what purpose?
In confidence, pass on the information to those in a position of leadership, so they can prayerfully take action to stop the divisiveness. Through their godly wisdom unity can be restored fully and completely.
Are you a person that promotes unity or disunity?
Unity is of the essence of the body of Christ.
~R. B. Kuiper~

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

David said to him, “If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I was your father’s servant previously, so I will now also be your servant,’ then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me.

2 Samuel 15:33-34

His close friend Hushai, the Archite, would be of more use to David if he returned to the city. Here, David is basically saying if you want to do me a favor and be on my side go back and help me. If Hushai offered his service to Absalom, it could be when the time came, that his counsel would overthrow Ahithophel.
A person who comes to your aid in time of need is a true friend. These types of people are hard to find. It is not often someone stays by your side when it looks like you are losing everything. Hushai was that type of person. He arrived at the perfect time. David was able to place his friend where he needed him the most. He now had an effective espionage plan to counter attack Absalom’s next move against him.
In our own lives friends can be a ‘dime a dozen’. In other words, they are around as long as times are good. Money can make friends while it lasts. Proverbs 19:4, 6 describes these kinds of fair-weather friends:
Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his friend… Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.
Remember the best friend you can ever have is the Lord Himself, He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:15). What kind of friends are you surrounding yourself with?
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
~Proverbs 18:24~

Mountain Top Worship

Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God—there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head.

2 Samuel 15:32

David came to the peak of the mountain and worshiped God. Notice, in times of great distress he was driven to worship the God he loved and trusted. When his newly born baby died, he washed and anointed himself, then changed his clothing and went into the house of God and worshiped (2 Samuel 12:19-20). When Absalom sought his life and he fled the city of Jerusalem; once again he worshiped God. His surrender to God in worship prepared him for whatever the Lord intended for his life.
David’s worship was interrupted by his faithful friend and counselor Hushai, the Archite. He was named alongside Ahithophel, who had betrayed David –– Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion (1 Chronicles 27:33). No doubt he heard of Absalom’s approach to take over the city and fled to be with David. Mourning, his robe was torn and dust was thrust on his head; warranted by the magnitude of sorrow caused by Absalom.
When life is at its hardest and you are full of sorrow there is nothing better than to be alone with God on a mountain top. Often the view itself reminds us of our omnipotent God, the creator of heaven and earth. Here we can lay before Him our heavy burdens and call upon His name.
More often than not we cannot travel to those lofty heights. Instead, we must take the time to worship within the confines of our homes. We may be interrupted by others but we should take the time nevertheless. God is at work when we are completely surrendered to Him.
There is more healing joy in five minutes of worship
than there is in five nights of revelry.
~A. W. Tozer~

Conspirators Counsel

Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!”

2 Samuel 15:31

Ahithophel was David’s trusted counselor and was thought to be one of his closest friends. He was renowned in Israel for his wise counsel; as if he had inquired at the oracle of God (2 Samuel 16:23). This bad news of betrayal wounded David. Psalm 41:9 is believed to be written concerning how deeply David felt: Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
In response to the news, David sent an arrow prayer that pierced the throne room of God. It was soon to be answered. God would later use Hushai’s words, another counselor, to outweigh the words of Ahithophel. What would be the outcome for Ahithophel’s treachery? It would be the same end as other traitors in the Bible as we shall soon find out.
Once again we see such a mirrored comparison between David’s betrayal and our Lord Jesus Christ’s. Judas, as one of the twelve, was with Jesus in His earthly ministry. Jesus described Judas betrayal in a similar fashion in John 13:18: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’
His treachery was further described in Zechariah 11:12-13; Judas would betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Judas was a thief, his interest was money (John 12:6). Notice how his betrayal prophetically fulfilled Scripture, the Bible is one hundred percent accurate. Both these betrayals were used to fulfill Scripture and prove the genuineness of God’s Word.
We may encounter people of treachery but understand that God has allowed them to be woven through our life story for His purposes.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
~Romans 8:28~

Mournful Ascent to the Mount

So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.

2 Samuel 15:30

Imagine this tearful scene, David the king, head covered as he traveled barefoot and wept. His loyal company of people, mournfully began their ascent up the Mount of Olives, covered their heads and wept with him.
When I go to Israel, I like to go by myself to the Mount of Olives, right as the sun goes down. It is so cool to watch the city changing colors as the sun sets. It is a solitary place where I just sit and contemplate. Then I clearly picture the Old Testament stories in my mind. I can imagine David as he was walking and weeping, as he crossed through the Kidron Valley and up to the Mount of Olives and escaped from Absalom.
What incredible comparison do we see here? Jesus of Nazareth took this same sorrowful journey. He went up to the Mount of Olives to a familiar place which was the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:39-44 tell us:
He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place … being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
In the garden He was arrested, later beaten, tortured and put to death on the cross for our sins. He willingly accomplished our Salvation. Jesus Christ, King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God, brought peace to us (Ephesians 2:14-18; Hebrews 7:1). He not only ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives but will return there for His second coming.
And in that day His [Jesus] feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…
and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two…
~Zechariah 14:4~

Trustworthy Informant

See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.

2 Samuel 15:28-29

David waited in the wilderness region of the western banks of the Jordan River until he received further words from Zadok. He not only was able to do his priestly duties but could act as a trustworthy informant. He was to be David’s ears and eyes from within the city of Jerusalem.
The Apostle Paul had a young nephew who became a trustworthy informant. While he was in Roman custody his nephew told him of a planned ambush on his life. Acts 23:16 tells us: …Paul’s sister’s son, heard of the ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. As soon as Paul heard their intentions he called for a centurion and had him taken to the captain. Paul’s nephew wasted no time in relaying the murderous plot he had just heard:
“The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. But do not yield to them … men have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him … (Acts 23:20-21).
The young informant had overheard, told the Captain and in the end, saved his uncle Paul’s life. Acts 23:33 tells us: The soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
We can see how important it is to have trustworthy people in your life. It is impossible to see and hear everything that is happening around you. You need loyal people around you; they become your eyes and ears. They will inform you on any problems or issues they may see or overhear.
He who communes with God in secret may be trusted in public.
I always feel safe with a man who is a visitor to the mercy-seat.
~Charles H. Spurgeon~

Priest of Peace

The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.

2 Samuel 15:27

Zadok the priest was a seer; which means he could see and discern situations with godly wisdom and make good judgment. He was loyal to David, could keep a wise watch and report back on what was happening. In these uncertain and dark times he would be a spiritual light to the people as he carried on his priestly duties. David fully cared for their welfare and bid Zadok peace in his return to the city.
Once more we see David’s wisdom as he sought to keep the city of Jerusalem in order and peace. Interestingly Jerusalem, means ‘foundation of peace.’ Perhaps Zadok would continue to bring peace to a city in turmoil. David let godly men remain behind, those who could be a strong spiritual influence, amid the coming presence of rebellious Absalom and his treacherous men.
We live in a world that is constantly in chaos. As Christians we are called by God to be a strong spiritual influence in the places we live. It is very important to bring God’s light and peace into a world of utter rebellion against God. The Apostle Paul told us in Philippians 2:15 to become:
… blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
It is only as we purge our lives of sin and its influences that we can ever hope to be a godly influence to those around us. Do you bring good tidings of peace? Are you being a light to those around you today?
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men…
~Matthew 5:14 & 16~

Memorial Day

How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!

2 Samuel 1:25

Historically, in 1868, Memorial Day, was first called Decorations Day. It was a day to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. In the Arlington National Cemetery, at least 5,000 people gathered at the grave site of over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. They respectfully decorated each grave. Later the day was changed and called Memorial Day. It became a day to honor all of our men and women who died in war.
Memorial Day became an official holiday in 1971, it was traditionally observed on May 30, but now it is on the last Monday in May making the observance a three day weekend. Most people appreciate an extra day off work and cherish the quality family time. This day is also seen to mark the beginning of summer. Many families congregate together to barbeque, picnic and enjoy the parades or watching sports.
However, we should never forget the freedoms we enjoy are a direct result of the unselfish sacrifices of those men and women who willingly died while servicing their country. Many wives, mothers and close relatives will mourn as they visit the cemeteries or memorials to lay flowers at their loved ones grave site. Customarily, but often forgotten, is the pause for silence at 3:00pm in the afternoon to remember the fallen.
As a nation we should stop in silence to not only remember these fallen heroes but to pray for their families. Our children should be taught the value of honoring those who have died. In gratitude our homes should proudly show the American flag. A missed loved one will always be remembered not only on this day but on each and every day to come.
How the mighty have fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!”
~2 Samuel 1:27~

The Hands of God

But if He [God] says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”

2 Samuel 15:26

Notice how David placed his life in the hands of the Lord. Whether good or bad, he had resigned himself to whatever that outcome would be.
He trusted God and had an eternal view point concerning the future he faced. David said concerning his life in Psalm 25:1-3:
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
Job had his eternal perspective tested when sudden calamity hit him from all sides of life. Four times in a row he received bad news. Finally he tore his clothing in grief but stood firm in his faith and boldly declared:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong (Job 1:21-22).
Both David and Job knew God intimately through His Word. They did not fall apart when these troubles came upon them. Christians must learn to place their lives in God’s hands and trust Him. Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Do you have an eternal perspective when sudden trials occur in your life?
…the hand of the LORD has done this,
in whose hand is the life of every living thing…
~Job 12:9-10~

His Dwelling Place

Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place.

2 Samuel 15:25

Notice, David had solid faith and hope in God. In this difficult situation, his eyes were fully fixed on the Lord. He exercised his faith when he commanded Zadok, the priest, to return the Ark back to the city. Only the Lord could change this tide of treachery and bring him back into the city of Jerusalem. David hoped to find favor from the Lord and in the future, with his own eyes, see the Ark where God’s presence dwelled.
David made many mistakes in his life, but still was a man who worshipped and honored the Lord with all that was within himself. David wrote in Psalm 103:1: Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Do we have that same kind of heart? Do we yearn to come into His presence and worship? Are you serving the Lord with your whole being?
Nowadays people stay away from church to watch the service online. We should delight to go to ‘His house’ to sing, give and serve Him. We partake in collective acts of worship, as we gather together on a Sunday service we enjoy close fellowship with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 reminds and exhorts us: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some… God never intended for us to be an isolated Christian. How then, can you grow and be used by God?
We know as Christians, that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become ‘His dwelling place’. Ephesians 3:17 clarifies this by saying: that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Imagine our earthly body has now become His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
they will still be praising You. Selah
~Psalm 84:4~

Priests to Our God

There was Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up until all the people had finished crossing over from the city.

2 Samuel 15:24

When Absalom rebelled against David, Zadok and the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant went with him. Zadok was a faithful priest who had served King David loyally. He was a descendant of Eleazar the son of Aaron. He joined David at Hebron after King Saul’s death
(1 Chronicles 12:28; 24:3).
The Levites were the tribe of Israel set apart to worship the Lord and perform priestly duties. The Ark of the Covenant, which they carried into exile, represented the presence and power of God in Israel. Another faithful priest was Abiathar; who had the care of the Ark at Jerusalem. Within the Ark was the Ten Commandments given to Moses.
It is important to understand as Christians that we are referred to as priests in the New Testament. We have God’s Word in us and represent God’s light to those who live in darkness around us. First Peter 2:9 explains:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
By Christ’s blood shed on the cross we are not only saved from our sins, we are set apart in holy service to Him. Revelation 1:5-6 says:
…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
… [Christ] made us kings and priests to our God;
and we shall reign on the earth.
~Revelation 5:10~

The Way of the Wilderness

So David said to Ittai, “Go, and cross over.” Then Ittai the Gittite and all his men and all the little ones who were with him crossed over. And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over. The king himself also crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness.

2 Samuel 15:22-23

David approved Ittai, and he passed over with his men and their families. Notice the great sorrow of the people, who fled, as they crossed over the brook they wept loudly. Once they were safely across, David also crossed over the brook Kidron, where rains caused water to flow through the valley. They went toward the way of the wilderness. Instead of a palace or well-kept lands they would live in the harsh barren places.
Jesus Himself was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted of the devil (John 4:1-11). He also crossed over the brook Kidron into the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1). These were some of the most troubling times, of testing and suffering the Lord had on earth. Yet there was the joy set before him to help Him endure.
When we are going through our own testing’s and troubles we can feel as if we are in a wilderness. The season can be long with a bleak future; we do not know whether we will live or die! Yet God is there with us, in the wilderness or valley experiences that are harsh. He teaches us to trust Him and we learn of His faithfulness as He leads us to better times:
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, [weeping] they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion (Psalm 84:6-8).
Are you in a wilderness or valley experience? God will give you the strength you need to see you through to better times.
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
~Psalm 73:26~

A Sworn Oath

But Ittai answered the king and said, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.”

2 Samuel 15:21

Ittai was an honorable man, his heart was loyal and his actions would prove his commitment. He had uttered a sworn oath to be by the king’s side in life and in death. He was giving up his own life to serve the king in complete abandonment.
Peter was an out spoken disciple of Jesus Christ. As threats came against Christ from the Jewish religious leaders, it became more dangerous to be known as a disciple. When Jesus spoke of His death, Peter boldly spoke of his undying loyalty to Him and said: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” We often forget, but the other disciples also agreed with what Peter had said––and so said all the disciples (Matthew 26:35).
When those brave words were tested, they all failed. When Christ was arrested they all ran away: Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled (Matthew 26:56). They were all scattered like frightened sheep. Peter was convicted over his denial but later, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, he glorified the Lord not only through His life when he boldly preached the Gospel (Acts 2:14-42), but also by His death (John 21:18-19).
Jesus is our King. As Christians we owe Him our allegiance. As we give our lives to Him, we are to serve Him in life and even in death. We are to follow Him in selfless abandonment (Romans 12:1-2).
Are you spiritually prepared to serve Christ in life and in death?
Nothing proves a man's attachment to a thing so surely
as his readiness to die for it.
~John H. Gerstner~

Facing an Unknown Future

In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I make you wander up and down with us today, since I go I know not where? Return, and take your brethren back. Mercy and truth be with you.”

2 Samuel 15:20

David never expected Ittai to forsake all and follow him into an unknown future. There would be no city comforts on the journey and it could very well become a life or death situation. It was unfair to seek his allegiance in such turmoil, seeing as he just arrived. Should one day of loyalty to David commit him to a life time of wandering about?
Ittai had already experienced exile. Being a foreigner there was no demands on his loyalty compared with an Israelite who had to now choose between David and Absalom as their sovereign king. David had spent years hiding and wandering in the wilderness from King Saul. He knew what it was like to be hunted, always on the run, in fear of his life. He had to be watchful and never completely at ease. Then there was the need to find food and supplies for himself and his men.
If he followed David, there would be a cost involved and he didn’t expect Ittai to pay the high price. He urged him to return and wished him mercy and truth. He did not want him to feel any obligation and he felt no disloyalty if he decided to return, he was free to go with his brethren.
In Matthew 8, a scribe, a religious leader, said to Jesus: “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” He was made to consider that choice when Jesus replied: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” There would be no comfort on the journey but suffering and the cost of picking up his cross.
What about us? Are we ready to follow Jesus no matter the cost?
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me.
~Jesus Christ~

Choosing Your Company

Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also going with us? Return and remain with the king. For you are a foreigner and also an exile from your own place.

2 Samuel 15:19

Ittai had chosen to go with David and his people as they suffered the consequences of Absalom’s rebellion and takeover of the kingdom. David was apprehensive to bring him along, mainly because his loyalty had not yet been tried and tested. Ittai was also a foreigner and recently exiled from his own place. Instead of being displaced again, he gave him the option of remaining in the city.
Moses became an exile from Egypt after he murdered one of the Egyptians for beating a Hebrew. In fear he fled to the wilderness (Exodus 2:1-15). He dwelt there until the Lord called him to set His people free from slavery. Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us that Moses made a determined choice not to remain in the royal household of Pharaoh:
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
What about us? Will you choose to keep company with those who enjoy the passing pleasures of sin or separate yourself to be among God’s people? Each choice has a final destination, heaven or hell. When we accept Jesus as our Savior we exhibit servitude to the world and become citizens of heaven.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
~Ephesians 2:19~

Passing before the King

And the king went out with all the people after him, and stopped at the outskirts. Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king.

2 Samuel 15:17-18

David quickly left his kingdom and he went as far as the Kidron Valley. In this beautiful place, he paused, to take one last longing look back at the city. Imagine, he must have thought to himself, “I am leaving, everything the Lord has given me is gone.” Perhaps, as he stood up and looked mournfully over the city he hoped that one day he would return.
However, David rested in the knowledge that God was going to take care of this whole situation. He trusted the Lord and left the outcome in His hands. As David solemnly stood on the outskirts of the city, his faithful warriors passed before him. These men were not cowards they had fought alongside him in Gath (2 Samuel 8:1, 18).
When we see that a leader is weary and fighting a battle from the position of weakness, it is our responsibility to graciously lift up their arms. Moses, with the rod of God, stood and lifted up his hands to the Lord as Joshua fought against Amalek. When he let down his hands their enemy prevailed. He needed help and support. In Exodus 17:12-13 we read:
…and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Do you lift up leaders arms in times of weariness and weakness?
Demas has forsaken me … Only Luke is with me…
~1 Timothy 4:10-11~

Keepers of the Home

Then the king went out with all his household after him. But the king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house.

2 Samuel 15:16

Even though David was leaving Jerusalem; he resourcefully kept the kingdom in order as much as possible. David’s ten concubines, loyal companions to the king, were left behind to keep up the house. These women were his wives but, as concubines, were considered to be of lower status, as secondary wives.
God created marriage for one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6). Women are equal to men in God’s eyes but they were created with a unique purpose, to be man’s helper. In Genesis 2:18 the LORD said: “…It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
In marriage, women primarily run the home while the husband is at work. They have the full time job of taking care of the children, cooking and cleaning. The older women in the church were taught to set a good example for the younger women. They were to encourage them to be good keepers of the home. Titus 2:3-5 tells us:
The older women…admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
When women are diligent in all these areas of ministry to their husbands, children and homes they become a godly influence and a good witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you are a wife, are you your husband’s helper and a good keeper of your home?
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband
~Proverbs 12:4~

The King’s Servants

And the king’s servants said to the king, “We are your servants, ready to do whatever my lord the king commands.”

2 Samuel 15:15

Here we see a good comparison between the servants of David and those men who treacherously sided with his son Absalom. The king’s servants were truly faithful and loyal to their king. In this difficult time they were ready to do whatever he would tell them to do next.
The Apostle Paul spoke about his faithful coworkers; Aquila and Priscilla were among those mentioned (Romans 16). The couple devotedly worked alongside Paul, as they had the same trade of tent making and were hospitable to him. However, in times of persecution they both risked their lives for Paul’s sake. Paul said in a greeting: Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life… (Romans 16:3-4).
In ministry, this is the kind of loyalty that should be found among believers. Everyone, no matter what position, should be on the same team, loyal and faithful to each other in good times and in bad. We should act the same towards our friends and family and never turn our backs on them in times of trouble. Listen to the words of Ruth, in a time of distress; she never left Naomi’s side. She told her grieving mother-in-law:
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Do you have a life and death allegiance with family, friends or those you serve alongside?
When faithfulness is most difficult it is most necessary.
~Anon~

Time to Escape

So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste