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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Christian Living

Follow Me! God Calls a Donkey

Okay, first, God didn’t call a donkey. I confess that was clickbait. Shame on me. God did, of course, cause a donkey to speak to a man and that is our story for today. The full story of Balaam can be found in Numbers 22-24, but we will quickly summarize the story.

Balaam is an odd character in the Bible, to say the least. He was a prophet, and apparently not a false prophet. We can get that by the fact that he did communicate with, and receive instructions from God. He may have had some reputation in the area for being a prophet because this is where King Balak of the Moabites comes in. The Israelites were more or less having their way with the locals and conquering them left and right; Balak was afraid that his turn was coming. His plan was to pay the prophet Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites, and he dispatched a team to propose just that.

It doesn’t talk long to figure out that Balaam’s heart was in a bad place. One would think that when the emissaries of King Balak came to him with their proposal, that he would have immediately said, “Get lost!” He did not. He replied that he could not of himself do this think but would ask the Lord for permission.

And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.” Numbers 22:8

In other words, even though I know this thing is wrong, I’ll ask Dad. Of course, God refused to grant his request. Balaam delivered the refusal.

“And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.” Numbers 22:13

In other words, I would go, but my Dad won’t let me. Balaam knew better, and the fact that he didn’t just send Balak’s messengers away says a lot.

This time King Balak sent a team with more power and prestige, and likely money to relay the request again. This time Balaam had the good sense to refuse, but not totally it seems because he replied in this way:

And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.  Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.” Numbers 22:18,19

Friends, do you see that? Balaam is clearly fishing for increased monetary consideration. Again, the time was proper to just send those guys packing.

Then this happened.

“And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.  And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.” Numbers 22:20,21

So, off Balaam went to see King Balak. Here is where the story seems incongruous to us a bit.

And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.” Numbers 22:22

What just happened here? What follows is God sending an angel to kill Balaam, only for a talking donkey to save his life. Read it, it’s great. The question that arises is why did God get mad at Balaam for something He told him he could do? Isn’t that wavering and capricious of the Lord? Let’s talk about that a bit.

The first thing of note is that God didn’t just kill Balaam outright; he sent a messenger in the form of that donkey to give him one last chance to think about what he was doing.

Still, though, why did God get angry? Well, there are a couple of schools of thought regarding that.

Some attach great emphasis on the phrase in verse 20, “If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them;” Some point out that the “if,” condition was not fulfilled and that Balaam jumped ahead and went anyway. That seems valid enough to me.

Another thought is that God clearly understood Balaam’s heart and his desires, and basically said, “Okay fine: do it your way and let things unfurl as they will.” I rather like that one myself.

God can, of course, turn any heart and person to do as He wishes; He can also allow, through His permissive will, us to do exactly what we want and then suffer the natural and/or God-given consequences of our actions.

I again think it is worth noting that God didn’t just kill Balaam, even though clearly this man was operating counter to God’s will; God’s just that way. He is patient and longsuffering even in the face of stubborn resistance and is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Aren’t we glad about that? I surely am!

It didn’t end well for Balaam, and his legacy is a sad one for the people of Israel. Read of this in 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11 and Revelation 2:14. If satan can’t succeed in a direct assault, he is sure pretty good at a sideways one!

 

Follow Me! A Judge Assinates a King

Read the full story here

Well, first I apologize for the delay in posting in this series. I was, as many know, busy with some other stuff.

Today, we are taking a little trip to the Book of Judges, Chapter 3, and the story of Israel’s second Judge Ehud. In many ways, this is the same story we see repeated over and over in the book of Judges. Israel would fall away from God  “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord…” v 12. They would do what was right in their own eyes, God’s patience would run out, and He would send a foreign invader to chastise the nation. 

In this case, the one chosen to exact judgment upon Israel was King Eglon, king of Moab, and his allies the Ammonites and Amekelites. As the text says, they smote Israel for 18 years until the nation(as it did repeatedly,) repented and called out to God. God then raised up a judge, Ehud, and our story follows in a quick recap.

God raised up Ehud and he immediately began to take care of business. He made himself a dagger, was admitted to King Eglon’s court, and assassinated the King. Ehud escaped safely and returned home. He rallied the troops, so to speak, and Israel delivered a sound defeat to their enemies and enjoyed 80 years of peace. That’s it right? No, there is a lot here, but we will be brief.

First, Ehud was left-handed. Or was he? The English translations all say left-handed, but apparently, the original text is actually a Hebrew idiom meaning something to the effect of,” a man bound/restricted in his right hand.” That’s an interesting thing. It could refer to a man not naturally left-handed but as the result of some affliction involving his right hand. There’s also another possibility. Over in another place in judges we see this: “Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.” Judges 20:16. Some seem to think this is a reflection indicating this might be men from the tribe of Benjamin specifically trained to be ambidextrous.

Does it really matter? Not so much. All that really matters is that this enabled Ehud to perfectly execute his rather nefarious plan, and execute his intended target King Eglon. Our story relates that Ehud gained an audience with the King under the subterfuge of bringing Israel’s tribute to the king. Once alone with the King, he informed him that he had a private message for him, and the King sent his people out. Ehud then reached with his LEFT hand to his RIGHT thigh, withdrew the dagger he had crafted just for the occasion, and plunged it into King Egon’s fat belly. In fact, he plunged in it so deeply that the King’s fat closed around it and the dagger disappeared. This was not a pretty picture at all. “And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.” Judges 3:22. The dirt came out…perforated intestine. As I said, this was graphic.

How did this matter? Well, most people are right-handed, and no doubt Ehud was searched before being granted the audience with the King. It would have been quite easy for this dagger on the right thigh to be missed. Friends, that’s God’s providence.

We have to hand it to Ehud. He was focused, fearless and relentless. He was also quite ingenious and inventive. He had planned his operation meticulously and executed it with extreme prejudice, so to speak. It seems clear he had some sort of calling from God, as we are told that God raised him up.

Was Ehud morally out of bounds here? I have no clue. God commands us to not kill, meaning we are not to commit murder. Yet, time and time again, God’s people are granted the authority and even the mandate to slay enemies. Was that the case here? Did God call Ehud up, and then Ehud went rogue and implemented his own plan? Again, we can’t say for certain. I will only add this. I don’t see any condemnation at any point regarding Ehud. In fact, the end result was just as God had planned, I would say.

One thing that does seem clear is that God’s providence is an amazing thing. Often the most seemingly insignificant detail can be the very thing that has impact for years or decades. Another lesson is one we see over and over in the Book of Judges. Regardless of what we have done, upon our calling to God and repentance, our God is quick to come to our aid and save us.

 

Follow Me! A Rich Man Buries the Lord

Matthew 27:57–60; Mark 15:42–46; Luke 23:50–53; John 19:38–42

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.” Matthew 27:57,58

There are a lot of Josephs in the Bible. Just like we have common names today, Joseph was a common one back in that day. Here, we are discussing Joseph of Arimathea, called this and distinguished by the fact that he is identified as coming from the town of Arimathea. “(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God;” Luke 23:51.

From the Bible alone, what can we know of Joseph? I say that because there is much legend and hazy history regarding his life before and after the Bible accounts; we will only talk about what the Bible is clear about.

  • As previously discussed, Joseph was from Arimathea, a town near Jerusalem.
  • He was rich. “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple” Matthew 27:57
  • He was a disciple of Jesus. See above.
  • He was a member of the ruling council of the Jews, the Sanhedrin. “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:” Luke 23:50
  • Even though Joseph was a disciple, he was so secretly. “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews….” John 19:38.

I think we all know the rest of the physical story. Joseph went to Pilate after Jesus death and requested His body so that he could prepare it and place it in his own unused family tomb. The accounts in full can be read at the links in the heading of this post; the story appears in all four of the Gospels.

Was Joseph of Arimathea called of God? Well, sure he was! There is no account that Joseph had any sort of personal visit from God, or vision or anything like that. Last time I checked, we don’t all get one of those, so this is no big deal. Joseph seems to have been called the same way that even today we are called; somebody told Joseph about Jesus and he responded. We aren’t told this, but Joseph may, as a member of the Sanhedrin, even observed some of the great works of Jesus. We know he responded; God told us such: “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple” Matthew 27:57

Was Joseph saved, and if so when? It seems odd to have that discussion, as it sort of seems evident that he was, and that he had a true personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, some ask the question and debate it.

Two things get brought out by some who say that Joseph was not saved until some point later in time, after the Resurrection.

First, folks are quick to pounce on poor Jospeph for being a “secret” disciple. I say to this: “So what?” If being secretive and circumspect about our faith was a sign of not being saved, most Christians today would be in a big heap of a mess. Also, we don’t know what was going on between God and Joseph; certainly him having and keeping his position with the Sanhedrin mattered a great deal to our story. “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9. God had a plan, and Joseph was part of it. Had he been ejected from the ruling council and had no position, then we might have had a dangling prophecy so to speak.

Some make a big thing of the fact that, apparently, Joseph did not know of the Resurrection; or that if he did, he wasn’t sure about it. That actually seems likely, as he clearly came to prepare a body for permanent burial. Friends, I am totally on board with the fact that, if we are to be saved, belief in the resurrection of Jesus is essential to belief in the right Jesus. We are told this: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. So, some would say that Joseph came to salvation at some point after that, maybe after hearing of the actual resurrection, or perhaps even seeing the Resurrected Jesus.

Friends, even the disciples who followed Jesus around for 3 years were not fully on board with the Resurrection! They had all scattered like frightened sheep! So, that’s really not a disqualifier.

There are a couple of passages that will illustrate my point.

“Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God…” Mark 15:43

“… he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.” Luke 23:51.

Did you get that? Joseph waited for the kingdom of God.

The question sometimes comes up, “How were Old Testament saints saved?” Friends, they were saved exactly the same way we are and are excluded from salvation the same way some are today. Many have this idea that somehow salvation in olden times was the Law and Works, and that today it is all faith in Jesus Christ. This is not so; salvation has always been by faith, ultimately in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation has NEVER been attainable for us by our works and efforts.

Revelation through God’s Word has always been successive and in stages. What Joseph had was the same thing all Old Testament saints had, and that was the promise of the Messiah; Joseph of Arimathea clearly believed that, through faith.

I look forward to meeting Joseph of Arimathea in heaven!

Follow Me! A More Convenient Time

Acts 24

And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Acts 24:25 

Antonius Felix was the Roman appointed governor of Judea and Samaria when the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem for preaching the Gospel. A mob wanted to kill Paul before he could be tried, and a Roman guard of 200 soldiers rescued him and shipped him out to Caesaria to be tried before the governor. Acts 23. 

Felix was simply not a nice fellow. As an example, His wife Drusilla had been married to another man until Felix enticed her away and took her for his own. His term was marked by discord, strife and trouble. In fact, soon after he interacted with Paul, Felix was summoned to Rome to account for his governorship and narrowly escaped with his life.

In our text in Acts 24 we see Paul and Felix interact on a couple of occasions. The first occasion was Felix, Paul and some of the ruling Jews from Jerusalem, such as Ananias the High Priest. Felix must have had some interest in what Paul had to say, because he summoned him later to speak to him and Drusilla. That account is in Acts 24:24-27.

Was Felix called by God? Sure, he was; he was called in exactly the same way all non-believers who hear the Gospel message are called. He wasn’t called for some special mission; he was called for salvation. Just like all who hear the Gospel are called.

Did the message prick Felix? It seems so because we see that, “Felix trembled.” v25, and then sent Paul away. He sent Paul away and said he would call for him later, at a more convenient time. It seems evident that Felix got it; in other words, he became convicted. Yet, he sent Paul away.

It appears Felix and Paul talked later, too. “He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.” Acts 24: 26. Now, it seems that Felix never felt what he felt during that first talk; in fact, he seemed to be just attempting to coerce some bribe money from poor Paul.

There is no reason at all to think things ever changed for Felix. The Bible never even hints at such. Felix heard the Gospel, rejected it and went on with his life. Felix was like so many. He loved his debauched lifestyle and certainly recognized surrendering to Jesus would mean that had to change. He seemed to be quite concerned about the approval of the Jews and possible loss of status; that makes him like many of us today.

Felix heard and may have understood with his brain that he was hearing the truth. Yet how own pride and desire to be in charge of himself apparently led him to reject what he seemingly knew was true. So sad, and so typical.

 

Follow Me! God Calls a Young Prophet

1 Samuel 3

God has a call for all of us. In God’s plan, we all have a place and are part of that plan. It’s important to realize that things never surprise God; He either directs or allows to happen every single event which occurs. The call of Samuel the prophet is no different. God called him before he was even born!

If we go back to 1 Samuel 1 we can read the story of Samuel’s mother Hannah, and her encounter with the priest Eli. Hannah was childless and barren, and prayed so intently that Eli thought she must have been drunk. An aside here, but do we actually pray fervently enough that people think something is wrong with us? His mother prayed this:

“And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” 1 Samuel 1:11

God listened, Hannah gave birth to Samuel, and just as she promised she gave and dedicated him to the service of the Lord; this is how young Samuel came to him with Eli at the time of our story. Likely, Samuel was a young teen at the time our events take place. Unfortunately, Eli had family issues, and these are important later. It would have been normal for Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phenehas, to have inherited Eli’s place in the priesthood. They, however, had issues. Read about them here. These young men had forfeited their place in God’s work.

So, our story recommences in 1 Samuel Chapter 3. Eli the priest was back on duty at the Temple, and this time the young Samuel was along. Both had retired for the evening, when God spoke to Samuel. Samuel, not understanding what was going on, ran to Eli to respond to the request he thought came from his mentor and teacher.

Finally, after 4 calls form the Lord, Samuel answered God’s call. Why four?

Well, for one thing, God speaking to the people had become rare in those days. The time of the judges was a rough spot for God’s chosen people, and prophecy was rare. “And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” 1 Samuel 3:1.

For another thing, Samuel did not yet know the Lord. This may be part of the above confusion, but we see, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.” 1 Samuel 3:7. Most likely it indicates that, even though Samuel certainly knew of God, at this point he did not KNOW God in a personal way.

Some takeaways from this story:

Samuel was ready and willing. Even though he did not yet know the Lord in a personal way, he was receptive and ready for the message. His instant response when he thought it was Eli calling shows this.

Samuel had to know the Lord personally before anything else made sense. Friends, our brains can know everything there is to know about Jesus, but if our hearts are not made right by our repentance, faith and regeneration then it is nothing but a bunch of facts. Facts won’t save us.

Finally, Samuel was ready to do whatever he was commanded to do. The first thing Samuel was asked to do was tell his mentor Eli all about himself. He had to give his teacher the prophecy regarding what was to happen to Eli’s family because of their misdeeds. That must have been hard, but Samuel was willing.

Jesus is calling us each. Are we owners of a mind and heart open to the Gospel? Are we willing to turn to Him and have a personal relationship with Him? Once we have, are we willing to do whatever He asks, even if it seems difficult?

 

 

Follow Me! A Father in Law Fails His Family

Today, we are going to talk about Lot just a bit. I say just a bit because we could write volumes about Abraham’s nephew Lot, and see a thousand lessons in his story; actually, many people have done just that. But, there is just one incident I want to focus on in this story. We do have to recap Lot’s life just a bit first though, to put this in context. I’ll reference Scripture, and readers can read the recap for themselves.

Lot first appears in Genesis 12:1-4 when God tells Abram to depart Haran and head to as yet undisclosed location.

We see Lot again, when his shepherds and those of Abram quarreled over good pasture land in the area they had gone to. In Genesis 13 we see the selfish decision Lot made in regard to the parcel of land he and his group desired. Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Verse 12. Looking back, we know this was the beginning of the troubles for Lot.

Our first indication that Lot had done more than just set up camp in the countryside comes in Genesis 14 when there was a rebellion and war among some kings in the Sodom area. The victorious king took the goods and people of Sodom, and because Lot was now actually living in Sodom, he and his family were also taken. “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Verse 12.

As we fast forward to Genesis 19, we see that Lot is deeply entrenched in the business and culture doings of the sinful city of Sodom. The angels sent by God to extract Lot and his family from the imminent destruction of the city found Lot at the gate, with the other prominent businessmen of the city. He was entrenched deeply. “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;” Verse 1. 

Like we have done in others in this series, let’s talk about the call of Lot. Was he? Well sure he was. We know this because God sent angels to save him out of the destruction. The Holy Spirit revealed that also to Peter as he wrote one of his Epistles. “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexeyld his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” 2 Peter 2:7-8. So, yes, this one easy, God Himself through His Word tells us that, despite himself and his actions, the Lot was a called and righteous man.

All this makes one incident in this story all the more amazing, and sadder than sad. The two angels briefed Lot on what was to happen to his city, and Lot began to gather and inform his family. This happened:

“And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” Genesis 19:14

That seems completely nuts, doesn’t it? His sons in law literally laughed at Lot. Clearly, this was the first time they had heard any talk of God, or sin or judgment…EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE MARRIED TO HIS DAUGHTERS! Let’s not let his girls off the hook either; even though righteous themselves(they were saved from the destruction,) they obviously had never mentioned those issues either.

We can sit here a few thousand years later and talk about how this sounds crazy, and waggle our fingers at Lot for allowing such a thing to happen. But, friends, when we do we need to make sure we aren’t being big hypocrites when we do. I can testify personally to dozens of people who profess to belong to God, yet never mention his name in their own families; this would include parents who profess Christ, yet never expose their children to the Gospel.

Here is a quote that might put this issue into perspective:

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

Who said that? Some famous evangelist or noted preacher? Some great commentary writer? Well, no that’s a quote from atheist Penn Jillette, of the magician duo, Penn & Teller. (and a pretty funny guy honestly)

That’s awkward, isn’t it?

Follow Me! A Prophet Rebukes a King

2 Samuel 12

“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man…” 2 Samuel 12:7

Nathan the prophet appears several times in Scripture. Clearly, he was a trusted advisor to King David; seems we might even call him David’s pastor if we wanted to equate his role with us today. He first appears in 1 Kings 12, when David wants to inquire about building a Temple for the Lord. He appears later, in 1 Kings 1 as David was nearing the end of his life when Adonijah was attempting to upset the roral succession and usurp the throne from David’s son Solomon. Nathan was instrumental in foiling that plot.

It seems Nathan was just doing that a good prophet does, and that is going where he is called to go, proclaiming God’s Word the entire way. In our story today, Nathan was called to a different role. While he had seemingly been called to advise the King, or to even cover his back in rough times, today Nathan is going to be called to be brutally honest with David and to rebuke him.

We all know the story I suspect. David had committed his great sin with Bathsheba, murdered her husband and all of the rest. Nathan came to David and told him a story: of a rich man who had taken the dearest possession of a poor man, his little lamb. Once David got his dander up in anger about the man in this story, Nathan quickly pointed out to David that HE was that man. Ouch, right?

There are just a couple of quick thoughts here. First, the question sometimes arises as to why David has not killed himself for his sin; he had committed adultery and murder after all.  Didn’t Jewish law demand his death? Well, it certainly did, had his indiscretion been witnessed by two or three. Many probably knew what David had been up to, but nobody really “knew,” as fact. Also, God gave that law to the people to govern themselves; God can do what he wants. But, as Nathan predicted, David certainly did not escape unscathed from the earthly consequences of what he had done.

Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.  For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.  And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” 2 Samuel 12:11-14

Things would not go well for David for some time. He would lose his child, his family, almost his Kingdom; the entire world would know why all of this was going on. God simply let the natural consequences of David’s actions to unfold before the world.

Second, I say kudos to Nathan. First, he did what had to be done. That must have been difficult, and taken some courage, to confront David with his actions. It would have been hard even though God had called him to do it; he would not have been the first person to ignore God had he made that choice! We need preachers like that, who are willing to confront issues head-on, even when doing so may put their position and standing at risk. Actually, we just need people in general willing to do that. Also note that even though this must have put some strain between David and Nathan, Nathan never quit having David’s back. The story with Adonijah shows that.

Some kudos to David too in this. Clearly, David didn’t eject Nathan from his court because the prophet confronted him; the story with Adonijah shows that also. In other words, he did not retaliate when Nathan spoke the truth about him. Friends, this is Biblical. We are to forgive and restore, even when difficult things have happened.

Sometimes we have to have hard conversations, yet, we don’t have to let them divide us. We certainly can’t do that, but God can; and, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can also. If we want to, that is.

Follow Me! A Soldier Does the Right Thing

This is probably a good time to explain what I am trying to accomplish with this Follow Me! series. The answer is: I really don’t know. As I read here and there, I read about some character(whether major or minor,) and something comes to mind. There you have it: the random workings of my mind, and hopefully the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Read 2 Samuel 11 here

“But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.  And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?  And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.” 2 Samuel 11:9-11

We all know this story I suppose. King David was hanging around the house while his armies were off fighting the enemy; he wasn’t really being where he was supposed to be. He observed Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, bathing and was tempted. He acted on that temptation, committed adultery with her, and she became pregnant. Uh oh, right? Wait, there’s more. We know the more. David attempted to cover up his own indiscretion by bringing Uriah home to be with his own wife; that failed and David had to go to Plan B. Sadly Plan B involved the murder of Uriah. This is all very sad.

Why did David’s plan to hide his adultery with Bathsheba fail? It was a great plan, really. All that had to happen was for Uriah to sleep with his own wife, and the entire world would think her baby was his!

Uriah was a pretty special guy, apparently. We know he was special enough that getting a personal invitation from King David was seemingly not an unusual event. We know he was included in the list of David’s Thirty Mighty Men in 2 Samuel 23; these were 30 particularly heroic and trusted warriors in the King’s army. In our text story, I think we see the most heroic thing of all.

Uriah was just a man doing his duty. In his mind, this was no more or no less than that. I would even say it was so ingrained in him that he could do no less; after the initial failure of his plan, David tried again by getting Uriah drunk and hoping that would make the man slip up. Even drunk, Uriah had the presence of mind to know and do what was right according to his own conscience.

Now, there’s a lesson right there. David was NOT where he should have been when he should have been there. We all know the horrible and generational chain of events THAT set in motion.

On the other hand, we have Uriah the Hittite. He was just doing his duty when and where he should have been doing it. That’s all it took to keep him out of trouble. Well, I suppose getting murdered was a spot of trouble; then again, sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily provide temporal rewards. That would be another lesson.

 

 

Follow Me! Hey! How’s That Pulse Doing?

This is actually a rerun of a rerun; I am cheating big time and slipping this one in again. I was actually going to write about Felix and how he told the Apostle Paul that he would call for him later and a more convenient time. I recalled mentioning Felix in a blog post, so I looked. So, here you have it. This fits with our Follow Me! series. It’s about God calling folks and their responses. He is calling YOU; what is YOUR response?


A while back in a post or a comment(I don’t remember where exactly), my friend ColorStorm, asked a question along the lines of: “Hey, how’s that pulse doing?” I sort of hijacked the phrase, stole it if you will, and now I use it fairly often. It has, as I was told, a certain shelf life.

So, what’s the point?

Thump, thump

We are all born, and we all die. As the saying goes; Nothing is certain but death and taxes. We all hope to live a long, happy, and fruitful life. We also know that is not always the case; tales of unexpected, sudden death are all around us. How many times have we heard the phrase:

Oh…it was just so UNEXPECTED!

Of course, it’s rarely expected, It is, however, coming. Do we know when? What are some things God’s Word has to say about the timing of our passing from this world?

Job 7:1 Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?

Proverbs 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

James 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Thump, thump

Many will say: “Well yes, life is short and can end unexpectedly, but death is just all my cells ceasing to function. As long as I made the most of what I had, it’s all good”

Thump, thump

But, we are not just a collection of cells. Read how we were created:

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

We are a living soul; we are a living soul which will live eternally. We were created by God to exists in joyful fellowship with him forever. God was so close with His creation, Adam and Eve, that he walked with them in the cool of the day. God wanted to exist with us in eternal love and fellowship; however, He did not force this love upon us. He gave us the free will to choose love, or rebellion.

Satan showed up in the Garden that fateful day, spouting his damnable lies.

Hath God said?

Ye shall not surely die

It was all downhill from there, Eve ate; Adam ate.  Because of their sin and rebellion

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Furthermore, sin has a penalty, a penalty which must be paid, for the wages of sin is death.

Thump, thump

That’s the bad news. We have all sinned, and we are all under the penalty of sin, for which the only payment possible is death, physical as well as spiritual. We saw that above, but that was not the whole thing. Here is the rest:

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

Thump, thump

God has promised us eternal life through the atoning work of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. It is available to us all; repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ is all that is required. All we have to do is agree, and ask.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Here is the problem. There are no do overs. The only chance for us to make the decision regarding our eternal destiny is here, and now, and in this lifetime. Once we draw the final breath, we have no more chances.

Thump, thump

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

2 Corinthians 6:2 ……now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

In the book of acts we see the stories of two men, Felix and Aggripa, both of whom the Apostle Paul shared the Gospel with. they had the following to say.:

Felix: Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Agrippa: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

What we never see, no matter how hard we read and study, is any record that anything ever changed for those two men. They wanted a more convenient season, they were almost persuaded.

Oh…it was just so UNEXPECTED!

It may be expected; it may be sudden. It will, however, BE. The death rate among the general population is 100 percent.

But the choice is ours. We can accept the Grace of God and the payment Jesus Christ made on our behalf….or we can reject it. But, now is the time. There may not be a later.

Thump, thump

Thump, thump

So…..How Is that pulse doing?

 

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