Come before His Presence with Singing

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“… come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2).

Have you received an invitation to a place you would really like to go? The invitation brings joy. Your level of anticipation increases. Your desire to go to such a place excites you. 

Certainly, you would share the news with your friends. It is likely you would bring something with you to honor the host of the event. If it were a party to which you were invited, you would bring a gift. Your gift is a way of expressing your appreciation for the invitation, the inclusion in the event, and for the interest they had in you.

In our focus verse today, we see the divine invitation to come to the very presence of God. His invitation should make our hearts race. The anticipation should be overwhelming. The joy should be difficult to contain. 

The very Lord of Glory has taken an interest in us. He desires our presence. He has issued to us an invitation. He wants to include us.

Your mind races. What can I bring to He who has everything? He owns cattle on a thousand hills. The earth is His footstool. What could I give Him as a servant of the Lord? What is it that He desires? 

Dear Reader, what can we bring? Our gracious Host suggested we bring one thing. He wants to hear us sing. 

What is that I hear you say? “Singing? That is so simple. Certainly, I can find something more special than that!” God would like us to come to Him with singing. 

Consider this, God has angels who can sing before Him, but He asks for my song. God can choose any singer from any era that ever lived, but He wants to hear His children’s song. 

God’s request for me to come before His presence with singing reminds me of seeing a mother and father at a school performance as they await their five-year-old child’s performance. The parents lean forward as their child’s voice joins a chorus of voices. The parents whisper to each other, “I can hear her! Just listen to her angelic voice! It is beautiful.” Truthfully, the child’s voice is mediocre. Her voice struggles with the tune. Her pitch is off, and harmony is absent. Yet, her parents beam with joy. Their little darling is singing. The young girl looks out and sees the pleasure of her parents. Their pleasure in her causes her to sing with more enthusiasm as she realizes her song pleases her mother and father.

Reading this phrase indicates to me that God, like the five-year-old girl’s parents, must enjoy when we come to our place of worship with singing. You may despise the sound of your voice, but He does not. He loves to hear you sing. Like the five-year-old girl’s parents were pleased, our singing pleases our Father. 

You say, “What song shall I sing?” The song choice is yours. Even now, choose a song you will sing to Him. Your quality of voice is not the point. Your song is what He wants to hear. 

Go to His presence right now. Lift up a song to Him. Remember He desires we come into His presence with singing. Bring Him His gift today.

Serve the Lord with Gladness

“Serve the Lord with gladness…” (Psalm 100:2).

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I have been in homes where there were servants in abundance. I met servants who prepared the food and managed hospitality in the home.  I met servants who cared for household tasks from cutting the grass, to washing the laundry, to managing the repairs of the automobiles of the owner.

In those encounters with servants, it was rare to see a servant overcome with gladness in their work. While some were glad for the income, others were satisfied for lodging and meals. Others, I recall, loved the stability of work but did not like the position of serving. These same servants would be happy doing something else if the pay were better.

Most people in the western world would consider being a servant demeaning. To most, being a servant sounds menial. They find it degrading and unfulfilling. Some would think that serving others diminishes their self-worth. 

The psalmist opens the second verse with a phrase that appears to be oxymoronic. He calls those who are commanded to make a joyful noise to now serve. He tells them to serve the Lord with gladness. How can one serve with gladness? It seems to go against the grain. 

The follower of Christ is called to serve the Lord. He or she must serve the Lord with a specific disposition or mindset. The psalmist says they are to serve Him with gladness.

What does gladness in a servant look like? Gladness is the joy of a mother when she is with her child. It is the delight of a prisoner upon being freed. Gladness is the feeling associated with singing your favorite song before the Lord in public or private worship. 

Proverbs 10:1 helps me learn the meaning of gladness. The writer of Proverbs presents a contrast using the parent-child relationship. The son that is wise makes his father glad; but if a son is foolish, he brings a heaviness to his mother. What a beautiful picture is given here for us! Gladness is the absence of heaviness of the spirit. 

I would like you to consider yourself as a servant of the Lord.  Ask yourself these questions: What is my spirit or attitude when I serve the Lord at my house? Do I display the maternal joy mentioned above as I serve the Lord by meeting the needs of my children and spouse? Do I have the liberty and delight of a prisoner released from their confines when I serve the Lord in my house? Does the song of my heart find its expression in signing? Do I have such gladness in my service? Have I lost delight in my service to the Lord and others—even among my own family?

I want you to extend your vision beyond your heart and home. This extended look is to see whom you could encourage to serve the Lord with gladness. There could be people in your place of worship that may have lost their gladness in serving. You may be able to help them find their gladness in service. 

When your fellowservants of the church come into view, what do you see? How many are there who appear to be serving the Lord with gladness? When the servants of the Lord lose their gladness, they display an image opposite of this proposition in Scripture. We are to serve the Lord with gladness. 

When you see those who teach in Sunday School, do you see gladness? When you see ushers and greeters, do you see gladness? When you see choir members and soloists, do you see gladness? When you see the church staff, do you see gladness? If the gladness can evaporate out of your life, you know it can do the same in the lives of others. 

Now, I do not want you walking around the church with a gladness meter measuring the levels of gladness in every servant's heart! What I want you to do is if you see a servant without gladness, pray for them. Then serve alongside them and exhibit gladness. You will discover that gladness is contagious. 

Dear Reader, are you a glad servant? Does gladness arise first when you are faced with a situation to serve? Does gladness show on the outside? Your lips may send one message, but does the attitude of your heart express the Bible’s message of gladness?

Today, take an opportunity to intentionally serve the Lord with gladness. Find someone in your home, at work, or in church on whom you can practice serving the Lord with gladness. 

Make a Joyful Noise

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Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands” (Psalm 100:1). 

Have you ever been to a large stadium to watch a sporting event? My son and I were given tickets to a NFL game. The crowd that gathered to watch the game numbered over 65,000 people. People from all over the country assembled. The nation watched by television that Monday night. Many wanted to see this battle of the quarterbacks. The crowd could not be silent; everybody had something to say. The noise in that stadium at times was deafening. 

The psalmist in our text verse today speaks of all the lands of the earth making a joyful noise. Imagine this planet is a stadium. In each section of the stadium, nations are assigned seats. Now, over the loudspeakers, a call is issued for each nation on earth to proclaim its joy for the Lord of Glory. Like in the Olympics, the roll call of nations would begin—each nation longing for the moment when their nation’s name is called. What exuberance! What exaltation! What enthusiasm! 

In the Olympics, each participating country sends a delegation to represent them. Have you seen the nations who only send a single athlete? The cheers for that single athlete cannot compare to a nation who sent dozens of athletes to participate. Similarly, in our imagined stadium, the cries from some nations are not as loud as others of the same size? Why not? Why are some nations louder than others? Why is it that there are so few to make a joyful noise from some countries?

Oh I say, my friend, it is we the believers who should have gone to the nations and told them of our great Saviour! We should have thought of our command and commission more than the comforts and conveniences of this life. The command will be issued one day, my friend—a command for all the lands of the earth to bow their knees. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. 

The celebration of the Saviour from all nations will be splendid. Oh may we take the challenge from Scripture and go to the people of the world and tell them of His great love. Oh let us commit once again to the task of getting the gospel to every creature!

Today, purpose in your heart that in the next twenty-four hours you will share the gospel’s message with someone. Your witness may be their last opportunity to hear. Will you do this?

Christmas Emotions

Where are you emotionally this Christmas season?

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For some, the word Christmas brings quiet mornings and silent nights. For others, Christmas brings depression. For some, Christmas brings painful memories. For others, Christmas brings a spirit of innocence with pure elation.

Scripture records the emotions of Christmas.

Shepherds feared. Wise men worshipped. Mary pondered. Joseph wondered. Angels praised. Simeon blessed. Anna thanked.

The biblical emotions of Christmas are peace, joy, and goodwill.

Here's your Christmas assignment. Take your soul to a place of peace. Bring your heart to a place of joy. Give goodwill to a stranger.

Your emotions will influence someone else besides you today. Pursue peace. Choose joy. Share Christ.

Merry Christmas

A Christmas to Remember

Luke 2:1-20

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Whether a shepherd, innkeeper, or a bystander who heard the news, there was much to remember the night of Jesus’ birth. Each would have a story to tell. After all, the taxation of a people, the overwhelming crowds, and a visit from the heavenly host, these were not “normal” events. 

The shepherds could tell of an angelic visit. The innkeepers could whisper of a couple they had to put in the stable. Bystanders might speak of the haste of the shepherds at an unusual hour in town or message they brought.

However, in the hustle and bustle of what would become Christmas, one mother sets the standard for all today. Mary chose certain things to remember about Christmas. It seems Mary’s reflection were on things intangible. Luke’s inspired words indicate Mary inserted these memories in the scrapbook of her heart. We don’t know what “things” Mary kept and pondered. Yet we do know she did kept things in her heart. 

What “things” from this Christmas will you keep? What will make this a Christmas to remember for you? What will be the snapshots you insert in the scrapbook of your heart? What intangible will become a page in your heart’s scrapbook? I urge you to find intangible things this year to treasure. May they be the things that matter most.

Merry Christmas!!!

God's Christmas Card

Luke 2:1-16

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This passage is the inspiration for many Christmas cards. images of mangers, stables, angels, shepherds, livestock, hillsides, stars, and cityscapes of Bethlehem. I love Christmas cards. Well, most Christmas cards: please no glitter, no “season’s greetings,” or “happy holidays.” 

Christmas cards capture on one small object: the hope and blessing of Christmas. An artist with graphics or words will depict a message or an image that sparks hope, joy, peace, family, and friendship.

The Word of God is God’s Christmas card to the world.  The word of God is Heaven’s Christmas Card and depicted on Heaven’s Christmas card is a mural. It begins on the far left with a garden and ends on the far right with a garden tomb.

The mural has images of Patriarchs, Psalmists and Prophets. 

  • On this mural, you'll see Satan strategies. 

  • On this mural, you'll see Man’s messes

  • On this mural, you'll see God’s Grace. 

On this mural, you'll see:

  • mothers with checkered pasts.

  • children who failed.

  • dads who succeeded and dads who failed. 

Let me walk down this mural, which is a timeline of 4000 years of God’s grace. The mural begins in a garden. (It will end in a garden too - a garden with an empty tomb.)

The story of Christmas began in a garden on the worst day in human history. The day Adam chose to disobey God’s Word. He took the fruit offered by his wife after she was deceived by the serpent. The day they ate they died and, with that eternally fateful decision, all of humanity died with them, spiritually.

Yet on that day, God held up His Christmas card, as a mural, for us to see 4000 years ahead to a day when God would so love the world of sinful man that He would give a Son, His Son.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

And with that fateful decision, the battle was in full array on the battlefield of God’s divine plan for humanity. 

Over the next 4000 years, Satan attempted to thwart the plan of God to prevent the moment when the Seed of the Woman would come. Throughout the OT time period, Satan attempted to thwart the plan of God to redeem man to Himself. However, God’s guiding hand was at work. God was simply working out His plan. He would redeem man.

Israel received promises and punishments throughout the 4000-year period. Throughout Scripture, God’s man has stood with heaven’s Christmas card and said, “He’s coming.”

Whether in hard times or hurting times, God reminded humanity, “I have a plan.”  Patriarchs, (Jacob) Priests, Prophets, (Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Micah, Hosea, Malachi) and Psalmists, stood and held heaven’s message before humanity. They placed the card on the mantle for the family of man to see. 

The Patriarch, Jacob, before his death, told his sons that God’s plan was still at work. 

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Genesis 49:10

Prophets stood in hours of despair and gloom and reminded them of Heaven’s Christmas Card, a view that God’s plan was still at work. Isaiah’s words made it clear that God’s zeal would perform this.

Just two single out two popular prophets: Isaiah and Micah stood before Israel in the darkest of days: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7.

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2

After 4000 years of displaying the zeal of the Lord of hosts and reminding Israel of God’s plan, He become silent with recorded prophecy for 400 years. The next time we see Heaven’s Christmas card was when the angel arrived to Joseph and Mary. The world had slept long enough. It’s time to raise the Christmas card that would change the world.

“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” Galatians 4:4

God makes it clear: “I’m choosing you and your espoused. Mary will bear the child of the Holy Ghost. Joseph will rear Jesus, the Seed of the Woman.”

Both Matthew and Luke get us started by telling us the heritage lines of Jesus. Both Mary and Joseph were in the royal line of David.  

Matthew lists 42 generations. Matthew starts with Abraham and goes to Jesus.

Luke gives 76 names. Luke with Adam. Luke starts with Jesus and goes to God.

Mary is clearly the mother. Joseph is not his father. 

Matthew speaks of 5 women. Two were prostitutes, one an adulterer, one a foreigner, and the fifth one, Mary, in the place of grace, was highly favored. She is Mary of whom Jesus was born.

This all came to be God’s plan because He Himself performed with the zeal of the Lord of hosts.

God’s plan for redeeming mankind is what Christmas is all about. 

Prophet’s dreams, visions, and prophecies all intersect in this moment. 

Alas, according to the prophecies, humanly speaking, Joseph and Mary are not in the right place. 

But remember, the hearts of kings are in God’s hands. He will use the greed of leaders to mobilize this unlikely couple to Bethlehem. They arrive to Bethlehem to find the oft-rehearsed and poetic moment of there being no room in the Inn. Could the plan of God not have included a reservation at the Inn? 

But this birth would be marked not by opulence and splendor. No, His birth would be marked with humility and simplicity. This birth would be fitting for the Lamb of God: a manger. 

In just moments, heaven’s chorus of voices arrived to unlikely group of shepherds who received a personal view of Heaven’s Christmas card. They rushed to see this sight. The Lamb of God’s announcement came to shepherds who were the first to herald this news.

Hundreds of miles away, wise men just saw a star. It’s a star unlike any other star. They mounted up and journeyed toward Israel. They traveled from the Northeastern regions of Babylon. All within the plan of God to get the family from Bethlehem to Nazareth, thereby, fulfilling prophecy.

God’s Christmas card, this mural, is not just about images. You see, this huge mural, like most Christmas cards, opens to a message within it. God’s Christmas card has a message: John 3:16

“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.” 

What is the message on God's Christmas card? 

It is the message that:

  1. God Loved.

    1. God loved a world that sinned.

    2. God loved a world that strayed.

    3. God loved a world that sank.

    4. God loved the places in the world.

    5. God loved the people in the world. 

    6. God loved the potential in the world. (looked beyond our fault)

  2. God Gave. The first Christmas gift was the first missions offering. 

    1. God gave a precious gift.

    2. God gave a priceless gift.

    3. God gave a personal gift.

    4. God gave a powerful gift.

  3. God Promised.

    1. God Promised to deliver for whosoever.

    2. God Promised to deliver from death.

    3. God Promised to deliver to everlasting   

What about you today? Are you aware that God loved, God gave, God promised?

He gave to you. Whom He loved is you. What He promised is everlasting life.

Relationship of Faith

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Mary, bearing the news of a lifetime, began the 25-mile journey south to the hill country of Judah. The angel told her that her cousin Elizabeth too was expecting a child. Here an old woman and unlikely to be with child and a very young unmarried girl both find solace in each other’s company. Both women with the most unusual of circumstances are brought together. Perhaps this news brought the two of them closer than they were before. The relationship between them was now more than of family; it was also a relationship of faith. 

Mary had plenty of time to think as she made the usual eight-hour walk to Elizabeth’s. She arrived in record time; haste marked her footprints from her home to Elizabeth’s. There was much to ponder and the walk did her good. This trip was more exercise of the spirit and soul that day than it was physical exercise. 

She had time to consider the angel’s message; there was so much to consider; certainly she pondered these things she journeyed. He had said that she was “…highly favored… blessed among women.” He told her the Lord was with her and she had favor with God. The angel spoke of God’s choice of a mother for His Son. He foretold His gender, name, and His Kingship on earth and of the eternal. The angel told of Jesus’ length of reign as King and His virgin birth. 

The moment of arrival came; Mary came to the door, and Elizabeth was in hearing distance. Possibly the six months of being with child were telling on her older cousin’s body. The sound of Mary’s voice made the forerunner of Jesus leap in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth was delighted to hear from Mary. 

Elizabeth knew this was the mother of her Lord. Both of these women knew what was going on in each other’s lives. It was proper they be together. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke loudly. Elizabeth spoke of Mary’s favor, Mary’s faith, and Mary’s fruit. Mary must have listened in amazement as she received confirmation of the angel’s message. Elizabeth is the first person recorded in Scripture to accept Mary’s account of being with child of the Holy Ghost. 

Scripture records no words from Mary since the angel’s departure, save for her salutation being mentioned. Her first words represent the meditation of her heart and the inspiration of her spirit. “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour.” She spoke with such clarity, conviction, and courage. 

Here, this lovely young woman, selected on earth by Joseph and in Heaven by God, tells her account of the Christmas story in 138 words. There was no manger yet, just a mother being used by God. No shepherds yet, just the announcement of the Lamb of God. No wise men on their way, just a mother worshipping God. Emotionally, Mary was affected by it all, yet God gave her great clarity as she spoke to Elizabeth. You could see the angel’s message touched her soul; his message moved her spirit. This was more than a warm and fuzzy moment; God had kept His word and sent the Messiah to His people and Mary knew it. 

Mary’s words reveal her knowledge of Scripture and her understanding of God’s eternal plan for His people. For Mary, this was a moment of reflection, rejoicing, and redemption. Mary’s innermost person, her soul, magnified the Lord as she recalled His goodness, His grace, and His glory. Mary’s spirit responded with rejoicing; God had remembered Israel with His strength, supply, and security. Mary's relationship with God was changed because of this moment. His Spirit was the Father of the child in her womb and the child in her womb was her Savior. 

This moment, captured in time for all to see, shows how Christ’s story should touch us. God’s plan for Man’s redemption led to this moment. When she considered it all, she said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” (The focus in on His person) “My spirit hath rejoiced in God.” (The focus in on His power/position) “My Savior” (The focus in on His pardon)

When you consider it all this season, is this a time where the testimony of your heart is revealed? Is Christmas the time where your heart reflects upon His person, His power and His pardon? Or is it the people, the presents, and the parties?

The Death of a Marriage

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2 Samuel 6:20-23   Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

Victory had been sweet that day. The ark of God had come home from Obededom’s house. No one died on this attempt to bring it home, as did the first time with Uzzah. David headed home and on the way, blessed the people, men and women alike. He was elated that he had made it home with the Ark of the Covenant. The shame of the previous attempt was abated and he wanted all Israel to rejoice in the Lord. Thus, he shared with the people bread, wine, and meat.

Michal, David’s wife and Saul’s daughter, saw the manner and deeds of her husband as he rejoiced in the return of the ark. However, Michal did not share in David’s exuberance. When David had come home to bless those of his house with gifts, Michal met David at the door. 

It was victory day yet Michal expressed disappointment in her husband instead of delight. She expressed criticism to him instead of compliments. She expressed irritations instead of inspiration for her husband. When she should have been rejoicing in her husband’s disposition and deeds, she rejected them. Clearly, this is a repetition of her father’s sin of pride.

There was neither mourning nor funeral that day for as there was for Uzzah. But there was a death; something did die that day when David arrived home. The death was not of a man, but was in the marital relationship of David and Michal. She could have stood with, supported, and celebrated with David, but she did not. She dishonored her husband that day and something died between David and Michal. Michal would not have a child as long as she lived.

Wives, have you let pride hinder your cheerful support of your husband’s accomplishments? Have you discouraged him when you should have encouraged him? Have you pouted before him more than you have praised him? Have you undermined him more than you have undergirded him?  Go to him today and make things right. Do not be content to leave it unattended; fix things today!

The Burden of the Ministry

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1 Samuel 15:11, 35   It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. … And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Have you ever seen a picture of a donkey laden with load piled twice its own height? Have you ever watched oxen pull a load greater than its own weight? Even the ant, though smaller in stature, carries many more times its weight. We wonder how do these creatures bear the entire load!

In our focus verse today, we are given insight to the load a Godly pastor bears for his people. The man of God commissioned by God to the church you attend will bear the load of the burdens of his people. Oh, yes, I know we turn our burdens to the Lord for His sustaining. Yet recognize this truth: the pastor has been given the watch care for your soul. He will be burdened for your responses to the commands of the Lord.

Consider this one Samuel had watch care over. Saul had made several egregious errors. Samuel, the OT ministry equivalent in this setting of a NT pastor, is a man of burdens, tears, and prayers. We are tempted to ask, “Is not the ministry not the Lord’s?” “Is not the King answerable to the Lord?” Yes, to both is the answer. But the pastor will carry a heavy burden for the ones God has given him watch care over.

God’s man Samuel, who was assigned to Saul, bore the burden heavily. He knew what it meant for Israel, for her king, when he made his choices. It grieved him, but God’s will had to be done. He had to deliver his last message to the wayward leader. He would do this deed assigned and it would be the last till Saul’s death. Oh, how this added to the load.

You see, some days pastors get to anoint kings. But there are still other days where they have to set them aside. Oh, the burdens they bear for the souls they watch after.

Have you a Pastor bearing a burden? Pray, I urge you. Earnestly plead to God on his behalf for strength, wisdom and comfort. Please pray for the man of God assigned to your life and family; you know he is praying for you and yours.

No Revenge

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2 Samuel 16:7-8   And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:  The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. 

David is on his homecoming tour. Absalom is dead. The people want David back. Who shows up again? Yep, you got it: Shimei. 

The entrance is grand; the tribe of Judah is coming to get the king. (19:15) The men of Judah are going to lead the King across the river. 

Shimei knows this. He comes with the men of Judah. He wants to meet the king. (16) He brought a 1035 of his friends (17). He brought Ziba, Saul's servant. He took the ferry over before David could cross this river of such heritage. 

Shimei falls before the king. (18) He asks for forgiveness, pardon, and for the king to remember know more his sin. (19,20) He invokes the name of Joseph. He mentions, “I am here before you even arrive to make this request.” He called David his king and his lord. (20)

Abishai, David's bodyguard and nephew, wants to decapitate him. 

David speaks to Abishai:

1. Seek no revenge. Forgive often and you'll change a generation. 

2. Don't let retaliation get the better of you. Stay focused on God's plan. 

3. Withhold not good to him to whom it is due. His son, Solomon would write later.

Psalm 94:1 O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. 

David shows his understanding of revenge: 

2 Samuel 19:21-23 “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?  And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? Therefore, the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.” 

And Yet Again There was War at Gath

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1 Chronicles 20:6-7   And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six on each hand, and six on each foot: and he also was the son of the giant. But when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea David's brother slew him.    

Have you ever fought a battle and wondered what good would come from it? Have you ever seen a battle take place AGAIN over the same issues you fought in the past? Consider our verse today.   

Notice carefully the wording of the text.   “War Again ...Son of the Giant...He defied Israel.”   Be careful not to cringe when battles occur in the same areas you saw God give victory for you in the past. Take courage: the battle you fought just a few years ago, a younger generation was watching and learning.   

This time when a giant defied Israel, the son of David’s brother stands up and kills him. Remember well that Shimea’s dad was David’s older brother who challenged David’s desire to come to the battle. Now the nephew draws courage from his Uncle David’s battle and slays the giant’s son.   

You may have fought a battle in the past and you now see it being waged AGAIN. Take courage and cringe not; a younger generation was watching and will be able with that knowledge to stand and defeat AGAIN the “giant’s son” of compromise, deception and self-kingdom building.   

A Care Caster

I Peter 5:7     Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

Are you a Care-Catcher or a Care-Caster? 

More often than not, most believers actually catch and hold life’s cares.   We are not to catalog, inventory, and review our cares. Believers are not to catch and hold life’s cares.  We have different instructions.

Peter writes we are to be Care-Casters. The cares in your life today over which you fret are not to be managed by you. Our instructions are clear; all our cares are to be cast not caught.

Life will throw cares our way. We can either be a care catcher or a care caster. What is your choice? 

Pasture or Palaces

1 Samuel 17:13,15    And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle…but David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 

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David had lived a unique life. He was the youngest son of Jesse, a simple keeper of sheep. He was a man content to dwell wherever God, his father, brothers, or king of Israel could use him. Not many of his age and rank were ever called to be the soother of the King’s spirit. He was a “pasture man” by preference, but if service called upon him to be a “palace man,” he would go.

However, here’s an interesting thing to note: there came a day when the music playing in the palace was replaced by the vocal challenges of a giant in Shochoh. He could not go to the battlefield, so now he must go from the palace back to the pasture. Yes, there is far more honor and prestige for those who would hold a palace ministry. Yet in our focus verse this day, we see David was content to go back to a pasture ministry.

I wonder, if God changed you from a palace ministry to a pasture ministry, could you keep your pride from ruling your spirit? I know most who hold the office of a pastor might struggle going from a “high profile ministry” to a “no-profile ministry.” I know some who are teachers in a Sunday school class, if they were asked to be sweepers of the same class, would struggle with the new assignment because of pride.

Please, keep in mind the duty you have been given is not because you so wonderful, but rather because God chose to use you there. Do not allow yourself to become convinced that you are too good to go from the palace to the pasture. David had no struggle in switching back and forth between places. When God moves you from palace to pasture, are you content just knowing “The Lord is my Shepherd”? Would to God we could develop that demeanor in our places of service.

“I Loved the Word More!”

Job 23:12   Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

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Recently, I spoke in a service in NC. After the message a woman came up to me and said, “I loved the delivery of the message today; but you should know, I loved the Word more.” 

In 39 years of my Christian experience and 23 years of preaching, I have never heard this said. However, I walked away feeling wonderful inside that she loved the Word of God more than what I had to say.  Often, I have thought, “I do not want people to walk away and say, ‘What a message; but rather, what a Master.’”

If someone is kind enough to express positive feelings about the message I just preached, I am grateful. However, it takes discipline not to accept the praises as my own. Yesterday’s words helped me more than anything. She loved God’s Words more than anything I said. 

That is what I desire. May someone love God’s Word more because of my service to Him this week!

He Remembers

Psalm 132:1 LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions: 

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Have you ever been in mid-sentence and totally forgotten the person’s name with whom you were speaking? Or even forgotten what you were going to say? Some would attribute it to age; others to a lack of concentration: still some would say, “It must not have been important.” No matter the cause, the effect is a struggle.  You have begun to make a statement and now must say, “Oh, I forgot what I was going to say”

Do you realize God has never been in mid-sentence and said “Oops, what was his name again? Nor does He say, “What was he going through?” Know this: He can only remember whom we are and what we are going through.  

The Psalmist pleads, “Lord, remember David and all his afflictions.”  This simple plea from a forefather in the faith is identical to ours today. We cry, “Lord, remember me.” Oh, He remembered Noah in the flood. He remembered Abraham and freed Lot. He remembered Rachel and Hannah and gave them children. He remembered mercy for Israel.  He will remember you.


Content with Emptiness

1 Samuel 16:14    But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

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Have you ever walked into a house without a single piece of furniture? Every room seems large without the usual articles that accompany a house. There is a lonely feeling to being in such a house where the owner no longer occupies. You look at it and say, “Something doesn’t look right.”

Saul is certainly a house without furniture. You walk into his life through the pages of Scripture and see no furniture. “Something is not right here,” you say. Yes, it is a house; but it doesn’t look right. You get a feeling of empty loneliness when you look at him. The owner’s belongings have been removed from the premises.

Sad is the day when the Spirit of the Lord’s communion with us is evicted by our sinful choices. ** The Scripture says, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul.”  The Spirit of the Lord was there no longer. He left. How empty the house of Saul’s life became! 

Today in our churches both in the pew and the pulpit, I have seen empty “houses of the heart” in believers. The believer’s “house of the heart” is no longer filled with the Lord’s Spirit. Many go through the spiritual motions but they are empty personally. It is no wonder why churches gathering for worship in the Lord’s house are empty corporately. There seems to be contentment with the emptiness.

Is the house of your heart empty today? Does the emptiness no longer plague you? Turn to Him. Evict every obstinate way from you heart and seek a fresh filling today of His presence!   

**Our verse for today has sparked many a theological discussion. However, this venue is not to explore the depths and implications of Saul’s eternal relationship with the Lord. Just the emptiness that can come to a believer’s life!

A Chapter of Life

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 2 Samuel 16

If our lives were viewed like a book, there would be chapters that would leave our readers scratching their heads. 

Some chapters of our lives would contain days where we cast a positive reflection of God. Yet some chapters would cast a negative reflection on and of our Lord. 

There would be days we could say, “I did right.” Other days, “I didn't do so well.” There are days where our lives clearly bring glory to God and other days where our lives bring shame on the name or work of Christ.

I am happier with myself on the days I do right and am disappointed when I fail.  

David's life, like many of our lives, has chapters we can be content with and some with which we will not be content. How you handle adversity and adversaries are indicators on how you're doing as a believer. 

I read this morning in my devotions about a moment in David's life that gave me pause. I reflected on David's response when faced with a moment where he could blow it or choose better. 

It was a good chapter in David's life; it's a chapter I want to emulate in my own life. 

I'll call this chapter: Choosing the Honorable

David had a person in his life that wouldn't leave him alone. His name was Shimei who accused, attacked, and even abused David. This bitter man, who could not resolve his ill feelings for the demise and downfall of Saul, now makes it his mission to make David's life miserable. 

You know that there are people God allows in our life who are bitter; they can bring out either the worst or best in us. 

David was on the run. Absalom, his own son, was solidifying his own position in Jerusalem. David was on the move. 

He encounters this bitter man, Shimei. The Bible notes that he is from the house of Saul, the man from whom God removed His hand. 

David and the people are weary. (16:14) 

Notice the behavior of Shimei:

v5 He came forth cursing. He cursed as he came.

v6 He cast stones at the King. 

He cast stones at the servants of the king.

David was surrounded by God's people and God's man.

v7-8 His cursings were nothing more than bringing up his past: misrepresenting his present, and mocking his place and power with God.

v9 Godly men around David said, “Let me kill this dead dog. Let me take off his head.”

v10-11 David speaks

1. Let him curse. (“My own son wants to kill me: I'll not bother with the likes of him.” 

2. Let him alone.

3. Let God work it out.(whether God told him or not)

4. Keep moving.

When the curses fly.

When the stones are cast.

When the accusations are hurled.

When dust is stirred.

When others have the upper position. (along on the hill’s side over against him)


Be a Jonathan

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1 Samuel 23:15-17 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.

January 4, 1991, the telephone rang in my home at 10:45 pm. The news was unsettling at best. My father had collapsed in his home and was being rushed to the hospital. The next call was the news of his death. The next day I went to be with my mother and siblings. That day following a friend of mine drove over 1000 miles to come and sit with me. For the next 48 hours, all he did was strengthen my hand in God. Those hours I needed a friend and God sent me one.

David, the king anointed, was on the run. Saul had relentlessly been pursuing David to take his life. David represented everything Saul used to be and now was not. Recently David had been in Keilah. When Saul learned of this, he moved immediately to attack. God confirmed in David’s heart that he needed to head to the woods of Ziph. In the woods of Ziph, God knew exactly what David needed. He sent his best friend Jonathan to him. 

Odd, isn’t it? Jonathan could find David, but Saul could not. Jonathan walked into the woods and found his friend. Consider this: he forsook his king and his father’s wishes to find his friend and help him. This visit was a precious reunion. David was at a low point. He and his men had been running. God, knowing this, allowed the heart of Jonathan to have been knit to David’s heart in the early days of the palace. So now Jonathan strongly desired to see him. Jonathan had one thought on his heart: I am going to strengthen my friend in God.

Jonathan arrives with his mission clear. Strengthen my friend’s hand in God. Oh, what a transaction of encouragement! What a moment of tender friendship! Jonathan, though unintentionally, set the role of how a friend should respond to another friend’s distress. Look closely what he did. 

Jonathan sought to replace David’s worries with the Word of God. (Fear not)  

Jonathan assured him that his pursuer would not be successful. (…the hand of my father…) 

Jonathan renewed his hope in the promises of God. (…And thou shalt be king…) 

Have you a friend in distress? Has his burden become so heavy that you feel it personally? Well friend, here is your strategy. Find your friend.  1) Seek to replace his worries with the word of God. 2.) Tell your friend he will make it.  3.) Tell him that God’s promises are sure.

You know this same David would later have a son who learned well this truth from his father. God would allow him to say, “There hath not failed one word of all his good promise.”

Find your friend today and be a Jonathan to him.


A Curve Ball

Proverbs 3:5–6    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Occasionally life throws you a curve ball. You think you understand the game. Then you wake up in the morning and you discover a new pitch. 

What does the Word of God say about days like this?

My responsibility: 

• Total Trust: I learn

• Total Dependence: I lean

• Total Observation: I look

His responsibility:

• Total Direction: He leads

He Intercedes

Romans 8:27   And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  


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 As you face this next day, consider this: Christ is praying for you.   

Have you ever felt the strength in your bosom surge when you found out a friend had prayed for you during a struggle? There you were in your spiritual battle and somewhere down the street, or across town, or halfway around the world, someone was beseeching God on your behalf.    

The child of God would do well to consider that even when our prayer partners on this side of the eternal veil may not be able to pray, Christ is praying for us. Oh, how the heart leaps with joy!   

The will of God is how Christ makes intercession for us. He knows our hearts because of His searching of them. He knows the mind of the Spirit because of His relationship with Him in the Godhead. Christ is praying for me!   

You will make it today; Christ is praying for you.