A Word From the Pastor...
"Lessons From the Life of a Fool..."
1 Samuel 25: 28-39, NIV
28 "Please forgive your servant's presumption. The LORD your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the LORD's battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the LORD has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant."
32 David said to Abigail, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak."
35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, "Go
home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request." 36 When
Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a
king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all
until daybreak. 37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him
all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 38 About
ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died. 39 When David heard that
Nabal was dead, he said, "Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause
against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing
wrong and has brought Nabal's wrongdoing down on his own head."
"What a fool!" This phrase is often used when we hear of someone doing something, well, foolish! When someone passes up a wonderful opportunity or makes a silly decision that has major negative consequences, this phrase may be uttered. This passage of scriptures offers lessons from a man in scripture whose name means, "Fool."
One of the first lessons we can learn from this passage is, Do Good When it is Within Your Power to Do So. Nabal was wealthy. God had blessed he and his entire household. He was a Calebite. He was a descendant of Caleb...one of the two spies that entered the Promised Land when thousands of other Israelites perished in the wilderness. He had a lineage of greatness. But the text says that he was wicked, evil and foolish.
There are some people for whom God has done so much, given so much, blessed so much but they are selfish and wicked. They refuse to open their hands to help others. They refuse to give unless they are certain that they will get much in return. They refuse to be generous. They will see a need and will keep their hands closed and declare, "That's not my problem! That has nothing to do with me.!" They have no idea that just as God gave them all that they have, God can and will surely take away all that they have and give it to someone more deserving.
Proverbs 13:22 declares, "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children; but the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous man." When it is within your power to help others, do it. God will reward you greatly. Blessings will be heaped upon you. When you give to others, when you help others, when you see a need and do what you can to meet it, God will look upon your life with favor. Every time you open your hand to help someone in need, the Lord restores you many fold. You cannot beat God?s giving no matter how you try. You don?t have to be wealthy. All you have to be is willing and God will honor your kindness. Not only will the Lord remember you personally, God will remember your household with favor.
Now let's look back at David. Scripture refers to David as "A man after God?s own heart." In previous chapters, David has been merciful and just spared Saul's life when he had it within his power to kill him. Saul was sleeping in a cave, in pursuit of David's life. David and his men happen to come upon him, sleeping unguarded by his soldiers. David?s men urge him to go in and kill Saul.
David walks up on a sleeping Saul and cuts off the edge of his garment and his heart convicted him. He was so convicted by God that he backed off and left him alone. He said, "God forbid that I should touch the Lord?s anointed! God will judge between he and I but I will do him no harm." David trusted God to take care of his enemies.
But even David got tired of being the "good guy." Having just spared Saul's life and still had to remain on the run, even though Saul honored him momentarily for David sparing his life, David is almost depleted of being merciful. Like David, at times we feel depleted of merciful attitudes. It can be wearying to keep looking the other way, turning the other cheek, keeping your tongue with a bridle, withholding your own type of vengeance. Sometimes like David, you?ve just had enough!
David did not make his intentions to take revenge on Nabal a secret. He let it me known that he was coming after Nabal. Nabal's servants got busy. They knew the good that David and his men and done for them while they were among them. When they heard that David was about to come and massacre all the men in the land because of Nabal's foolish ways, they ran quickly to his wife Abigail to tell the story and ask for help.
The text says that Abigail was a "beautiful and intelligent woman." Abigail, understanding the danger facing her community called her servants together. She told them to pull together all of the resources possible to take David and his men. Verses 18-19 declare...
Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs[b] (60 pounds) of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, "Go on ahead; I"ll follow you." But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
Abigail did not drag her feet. She didn't sit back and start crying and wringing her hands. The text says "Abigail acted quickly!" When you see trouble on the horizon, when God has blessed you to hear about danger coming, you've got to get up and act quickly. Abigail did what she had to do to protect her family and her community.
Abigail used wisdom, humility and courage when she approached David. By bringing the resources, she used wisdom because she was giving him what he and his men deserved and needed. She used humility because she bowed before him and addressed him with honor. The Proverbs 15:1 declares, "A soft answer turns away wrath." Proverbs 25:15 declares that "a soft tongue will break a bone." Abigail used courage because she didn?t know how David would react to her upon seeing her, but did what she could by faith. You can never know the outcome of your courageous acts. All you can do is move out by faith and trust God to move on your behalf.
Abigail appealed to David's integrity and heart. In the midst of his frustration, in the midst of his anger, in the midst of his "Popeye," "I've stood all I can stands and I can't stands no more" demeanor, Abigail appealed to his integrity and his heart. In so many words she said, "Look David, we?ve heard about the great man that you are. We heard how you spared King Saul's life when it was in your power to kill him. We know that God is with you?that God is for you...that God has already anointed you to be the next King of Israel. Don't throw away your blessings, don't get your hands dirty with blood, don't lose the throne of Israel over this fool! The Lord will take care of him. The Lord will fix it for you!"
And the text says that her wise words and counsel impacted David in such a way that he relented. He changed his mind and in so many words said, "You are right. Go back home, the Lord will take care of Nabal."
The last lesson for us to hear today, The Lord will fix it for you!
Don't allow fools to make you so angry that you take out your own vengeance. God?s Word says, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord." Don't allow fools to cause you to lose all that God has prepared for you. Don't allow fools to cause you to "fly off of the handle," use your tongue to tell somebody off, walk off of your job and lose years of benefits, leave your home where you have been paying the mortgage!
Don't allow fools to make you behave in ways that are out of your character, beneath your standards, not in line with your personality. Don't allow fools to cause you to "lose your religion," lose your cool, lose your integrity, lose your promises, lose your position, lose your blessings, lose your benefits...don't allow fools to make you into a fool!
Instead, learn the lessons from the life of a fool... Let the Lord deal with your enemies. When it is within your power to do good, do good. When appealing to someone who "has had it," speak to the integrity of their heart. Remember that soft words can turn away wrath. Don't allow a fool to cause you to lose all the blessings that God has in store for you. Pray to walk in self-control and trust in the Lord. The Lord will vindicate your name. The Lord will repay you for your faithfulness and your enemies for their foolish ways!
In Faith, Hope and Love,
"Blossoms in the Desert"
and the dry land shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as
the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and
rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of
Deserts come in our lives. Dry places come in our lives. Sometimes we have experiences like the hot and dry desert. Sometimes in our lives we face trouble - something so troubling, something so disturbing and disconcerting that it feels like someone has flung us into a hot, dry desert with little or no relief. Sometimes we face debilitating physical ailments that seem to drain the life out us.
Particularly for older individuals who used to enjoy walking or sewing, or drawing. Arthritis has set in and now they can barely straighten their hands and legs out. They are facing the desert of grief and loss ... loss of activities they used to enjoy. Sometimes it's the loss of independence. When you wanted to go somewhere, you just jumped in the car and went. But now you have to wait for someone to come and get you. It feels like a long, hot, dry desert.
Sometimes our life feels like the semi-arid desert. We are in a dry place, but we get a few drops of rain every now and then. Just when you began to feel like no one cared, or that you are becoming a burden or life has just become a drag... some small blessing comes your way and you begin to feel small drops of relief. Someone sends you a card expressing gratitude for your years of service. Some little child brings you a fist full of dandelions and tells you, "The pretty flowers are for you because you are so nice." Or maybe nobody notices, but you hear an encouraging word on the radio and you are reminded that even in the midst of your desert, God is with you.
Sometimes life is like a coastal desert. It gets hot, but it also is enough cool, shelter and rain to help us to make it through. Have you ever felt like you were under the gun... under so much pressure - deadlines to meet, obligations to fulfill, expectations to meet, responsibilities to carry out? Have you ever felt burdened down, but at the same time feeling, "With the grace and help of almighty God, I can make it!"
We are in a place where we are getting just enough encouragement, just enough support, just enough inspiration where we can press our way and make it. It"s not the ideal place, but at least you aren't stuck. Sometimes the desert can make you feel stuck - make you feel like there is no way out ... make you feel like you are just spinning your wheels.
You've been working the same job for over 20 years and you still feel unfulfilled. You've been following the same routine most of your life and you feel absolutely bored and ready for a change but don't know how to turn the corner. You wake up each morning and there's this nagging, dull pain that something is missing - in the desert.
Quite possibly, however, one of the worst deserts may be the cold desert ... that place that is dark and snowy, where the sun is anemic and very few plants can survive. That place has lots of snow and rain. That cold place - that lonely place, that dead place. Sometimes we walk through the cold deserts of life - separation and or death, grief, irreconcilable differences, broken relationships, broken dreams, damaged self- perceptions, self- loathing, tormenting thoughts, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness - cold deserts in life.
The people in our text had probably experienced each kind of desert, symbolically as they endured attacks and imprisonment from enemy nations. As they saw their great nation defeated, their temple destroyed, their places of worship desecrated, their families ripped apart all that they held dear trampled upon ? they were standing in the need of deliverance and vindication.
Hurt, defeated, lonely and on the verge of giving up, God sent a word of refreshing to his beaten down oppressed people. He said to Isaiah,
1The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; and
the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.2 It shall blossom abundantly, and
rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of
Sometimes life can leave individuals feeling robbed, beaten, defeated, ashamed and dead. But God's Word declares something that appears to be impossible. God's Word declares that He will take that old, dry, cold, cracked land and make it like fresh topsoil so that it may blossom like a rose.
Roses don't blossom in the desert. Roses need lots of water, good soil and pruning. In our lives, the rain or the trials that come can help roses to blossom in us. The scripture says that we, "glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produce perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope" and our hope in Christ will not leave us disappointed (Romans 5: 1-5).
No one likes trials, but they are like the much needed rain in the desert. Trials teach us how to learn to lean and depend upon the Lord. Trials give us the strength we need to make it in this life. When we come through the storms of life, God produces beautiful flowers or roses in us - the rose of compassion, the rose of faith, the rose of hope, the rose of maturity, the rose endurance, the rose of patience. If we will let Him, He'll prune away the thorns of bitterness that try to take up residence in our hearts, tearing away at the fabric of our lives.
If we'll allow Him, He'll prune away the thorns of apathy that sometimes develop when we feel like there's no use any longer. The fire in the crucible of life can either melt you and burn away the impurities, making you shine like pure gold or make you hard, cold and bitter, not better.
God's Word declares that He will give us springs in the desert. He will make a road in the wilderness. He will make the crooked places straight. Isaiah wanted the people to know that when Messiah comes, He will make all that is wrong, right. When Messiah comes, He will make the sick well, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see.
Jesus the Messiah has come and is coming again. He wants to make you whole. He wants to heal you. He wants to help you to hear - hear His will for your life, His Word for your life, hear His promises for your life. He wants you to see - to see His blessings for you - see His way for you - see His love for you. The Lord wants to take your desert life and make it blossom as the rose. Messiah has come and He's coming back again. Will you be ready for Him?
A Word from the Pastor
?He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.? Psalm 23:2
In our busy, driven, work consumed society, the idea of rest may be thought of as overrated. For many of us, even when we say we are resting, our minds are still working ? busily anticipating what we need to do next. Even those who are able to take time off to walk along sunny beaches, bask in the sun, feel warm, soft sand against the soles of their feet ? even as they walk along the sea shore, their minds are still busy, wondering, some worrying, some anticipating.
I saw a wonderful cartoon in the news paper once ? an on looker observed a family sitting on the beach, the mother, father and son were all lying in lounge chairs, sun glasses on, sipping a cool drink. The caption above the on-lookers head was, ?wow, it must be nice to be so relaxed not a care in the world?? However, above the mother?s head was written, ?Did I remember to pack the right outfit?? above the father?s head was written, ?I?ve got tons of emails to answer when I get back to the office,? and above the son?s head was written, ?I?ve got to get back to the hotel room and read my text messages!?
Body on vacation, but the mind still running, still worrying, still moving, not resting. Medical science supports that fact that rest is one of the critical elements in the healing process. Rest of body, rest of mind, rest of spirit. Jesus himself took time to rest, pray and renew his being. Yet we as Christians have not embraced the power and the importance of true rest.
Consider this anecdote written by an unknown author on satan?s tactics:
Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. In his opening address he said,
"We can't keep Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.
"We can't even keep them from forming an intimate relationship with their savior. Once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.
"So let them go to their churches; let them have their covered dish dinners, but steal their time, so they don't have time to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"This is what I want you to do," said the devil.
"Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"
"How shall we do this?" his demons shouted.
"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered?.
"Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles.
"Keep them from spending time with their children.
"As their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!
"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice.
"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted.
"Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God's creation. "Keep them busy, busy, busy!"
"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences.
"Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.
It was quite a plan!
The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there. Having little time for their God or their families.
Having no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives.
The question is...has the devil been successful in his schemes?
You be the judge.
Does "BUSY" mean: B-eing U-nder S-atan's Y-oke?
Are we too busy to hear the voice of God? What are we busy doing? Some are busy at work. They work all day, bring their work home at night and think about their work as they sleep. When they awake in the morning, their first thought is work.
Some are busy in the church. Busy attending meetings. Busy performing ministry tasks. Busy on this committee and that committee ? busy, busy, busy. But have they spent time feeding their spirit?
Some are busy in the mind. Busy worrying. Busy lamenting over the past. Busy trying to figure out who is doing what when and where. Busy putting themselves and or other people down. Busy trying to figure out what so and so meant when they said this or that, busy tending to other people?s business instead of minding their own busy, busy, busy!
But the psalmist declared that the Lord makes him lie down in green pastures. In other words, the Lord gives him rest. Now the wording of this will escape you if you just whiz through it. But think about it, the psalmist didn?t say, he ?lets me? lie down. The Psalmist didn?t say, He ?suggests? that I lie down. The Psalmist said, ?He makes me lie down.?
Sometimes God has to make us lie down. How does He do it? Sometimes he?ll make us lie down through illness. There are some of us that won?t stop running until we have to. Some of us will be sick as a dog and will still push ourselves to keep going as if the world will stop spinning on it?s axis is we are not there. Trust me, if you can?t be there, the beat will go! Because one day, you won?t be there and someone else will come along and carry on the work that has to be done.
Sometimes he makes us lie down through situations and circumstances. By that I mean, sometimes the Lord allows things to come into our lives that we can?t fix no matter how hard we try. There are some things that only God himself can handle. No matter how hard you try to work it out, scheme it out, negotiate it out, figure it out, there are some things that you won?t be able to fix, to change, to make better ? you will have to turn it over to God and let Him work it out.
Sometimes he makes us lie down in the midst of the storm. Remember, Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat when a storm arose and the disciples anxiously rushed to get him up and said, ?Master the tempest is raging ? carest thou not that we parish, how can?st thou lie asleep?? But Jesus understood something that the disciples did not ? the winds and the waves obey His will - Sometimes the Lord will allow storms to enter and to rage in our lives and there?s nothing we can do to stop it. So He makes us lie down, look up to heaven, be still and know that He is God and wait for Him to say, ?peace be still.?
Consider also that the Lord makes us to lie down in ?green pastures.? Farmers know that in order for crops to grow, for pastures to be green, they have to be fertilized. Some of the best fertilizer is manure. Sometimes, we have to endure some ?manure? so to speak in our lives, so that our pastures can blossom, grow and flourish.
The hard stuff, some negative stuff, some painful stuff, some disappointing stuff, some discouraging stuff, some stuff we of our own accord would never have anything to do with, every now and then God allows this kind of ?stuff? to enter our lives. After we have struggled a while, after we?ve wrestled a while, like Jacob who wrestled with the angel all night long? after we?ve given it our all, the Lord makes us lie down and when we look around, the pasture is green.
And so for our pastures to be green, we have to endure some ?stuff,? that makes us rich, and productive and a blessing to others. Sometimes God makes us lie down in the midst of some difficult, challenging, seemingly hopeless situations and turns it around and makes it flourish and blossom like a dessert producing a rose.
If you don?t have time to spend with your family you are too busy. If your children have to set an appointment to talk to you, then you are too busy. If you can?t sleep at night because your mind is so filled with the clutter and stuff of the day, of the past, of anticipatory fear of the future ? then you are too busy. But if you will turn your soul over to the Lord, He will cause you to lie down, to rest in Him, to learn how to have peace in the midst of the storm.
God?s peace instructs your mind and your soul to know that He?s got everything under control even when it looks like chaos is dominating. God is calling you to rest in Him today. He is the Good Shepherd who cares for you, nurtures you, loved you so much that he gave his life for you. Won?t you allow Him to shepherd your soul and give you some rest?
"Determine to Follow the Golden Rule in a Not So Golden Age..."
34But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22: 34-40 NIV
The other day I heard a child ask, "Is it ok to kill evil people?" Sadly, our children are living in an age where national leaders are declaring, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun." Last night at the dinner table, my husband and I discussed this question with our children. We talked with them about the Ten Commandments and that in them, God's Word says, "Thou shalt not kill," to which our teenage son retorted, "Nobody follows those anymore" (Yes, this "Pastor's Kid" - aka, "pk" uttered those words!)
We went on to explain why God's commandments are still relevant. We shared with them the importance of "doing unto others as we would have them do unto us." Our other teenage son then said, "That's hard! The world would be a much better place if everybody did that."
Yes, the world would be a better place if everyone followed the "Golden Rule." I have been challenged more than a few times to adhere to this teaching myself! It would be so much easier to treat people as they treat you. But in 2013, may we have the faith, the courage and the strength to push past insensitivity, foolish behaviors, unreciprocated kindness and indifference. May we like Jesus live, love and serve to the glory of God.
Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.
Colossians 3:23 International Version
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-27)
In faith, hope and love,