Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ABBA!

Today’s Reading: Galatians 3-4

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Looking up the stairs from the Chapel of Saint Helen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, you can see hundreds of crosses that have been carved into the stone walls.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Galatians 4:6

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

What a great change! We were enemies of God, but have become His friends…and more than friends, we have become children of God. As His enemies, we deserved His wrath. Instead, He has shown us His infinite love. We deserved to be punished, separated from Him forever. Because of His initiative, the opposite has happened. We are welcomed into His Kingdom as members of His family.
In these chapters, Paul explains an astounding change. The Galatian believers have come from being slaves — slaves to sin and from trying to obey God out of a sense of duty — to being heirs of God. In reality, they have the rights, privileges and freedoms of sons and daughters of the King. We have these same rights. Therefore, we can call God “ABBA, DADDY!” If we struggle with this, consider praying the prayer written in our Prayer for Today…

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Father God, I pray for the Spirit of Your Son to fill me now. I pray in faith believing that You are now keeping Your promise to me. The promise of the Spirit was given to me by Jesus, Himself, when He said, “How much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:11-13). I’m asking, Abba Father, and You are more willing to give of Your Spirit than I am to receive. Therefore, I am receiving the Holy Spirit at this very moment. I praise You! I thank You! I worship You! Hallelujah! Glory to Your Holy Name! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

As a child and in my early teens, I would go forward to the altar at church from time to time, asking Jesus to come into my heart and to write my name down in His “Book of Life.” I was confident that He did this at the time. However, when I did something that I knew was wrong, that confidence was gone, and I would give up until the next time I came forward to kneel at the front. We called the bench in front of the pulpit “the penitent form.” Sometimes it was called “the mourners’ bench.” Of course, I knew I was to be “penitent” and I was to “mourn” over my sins. It was not until I was 16 that I realized that I truly am a child of God by faith and faith alone. I believed that even as my human father would not ever cease to be my father, even so God, my Father, my Abba, would not ever take an eraser and rub my name out of His Book. The day after I fully believed that, I went down to the creek behind my sister’s house at Shady Nook, just outside of Pembroke, Ontario, and quoted over and over John 6:37. Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.” I came to Him! He does not lie! Therefore, He does not cast me out. He receives me! What freedom and confidence that fact has given me right up to this day, over 64 years later.

Yours for believing Ephesians 2:8-9 (our next New Testament book after we read 1 & 2 Kings): “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast,”

David

Monday, April 22, 2019

FREEDOM

Today’s Reading: Galatians 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

In today’s reading, Paul refers to Antioch (Galatians 2:11), which was the base for Paul’s missionary journeys, and where Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). This photo shows an overview of the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, which is in the area of ancient Antioch.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Galatians 1:6

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.

 

As believers in Jesus, can we recall the first days of our lives as Christians…days of enormous joy and peace? This should be particularly memorable if we came to faith in our late teens or older. There is an immense freedom we felt when we realized that Jesus loves us just as we are. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I still full of that joy, peace, freedom and sense of acceptance?” For many Christians, these important things quickly fade as the enemy sneaks in like a thief and steals these precious gifts from God.

This is what happened to the Galatian Christians. They had discovered the freedom that was available in Christ but soon turned to “another gospel,” which was no gospel (“good news”) at all. They started out well and wanted to please God, but they became joyless legalists as their lives became focused on merely following a set of rules. Paul wrote some very hard words to these brothers and sisters in Christ. He told them, clearly and directly, that they were wrong. He called them back to the freedom that was theirs in Christ, to the joy of serving Jesus, not because of bondage to duty, but because of the love of God and the power of the Spirit.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, I pray for a daily renewal of Your life, Your joy, Your peace, and Your love! I need You, Lord. Thank You for Your promise of Your presence! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

At 13 years old I joined the Church. I tried to live in a way that was pleasing to God, but by the time I was 15, I gave up. It was too hard to always do what was right. I was placed in a Christian boarding school for my Grade 11 high school. I really messed up, sufficiently enough to have me removed from the school. Therefore, I had no alternative but to move in with my sister Willa and her husband Harold Hodgins. I enrolled at the Pembroke Collegiate, and this was destiny for me. There were four Christian teenagers in my class, one Baptist and three Pentecostals. I watched them closely for three months, and then came my night of decision. I understood clearly for the first time that my salvation was totally the work of Jesus and not by my behaviour. My first public confession of faith was at a Youth For Christ rally in the high school auditorium. It consisted of one sentence from the Bible, words which have reinforced my faith ever since. Paul’s letter to Titus, chapter 3, verse 5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us.”

Yours for learning the lessons which the Apostle Paul taught,

David

P.S. I had the honour of attending the glorious home-going celebration for George Beverly Shea in April, 2013. At 104 years old, God called him home. He and I had similar backgrounds. We’ve compared notes several times. I hosted a documentary on the life of this man who has sung in person to more people than Elvis, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and The Rolling Stones combined! He served for 60 years as Billy Graham’s soloist, and much more. For a 2013 video of Will Graham and I showing clips from the documentary, click HERE. As a Canadian, George was honoured at his funeral by a representative of one of Canada’s finest (picture below).

At Bev Shea’s homegoing celebration in April 2013 with Chief Superintendent Ronald G. Mostrey, commanding officer of the National Headquarters of the RCMP in Ottawa.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

FROM KING DAVID TO KING JESUS

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 24

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee, Israel, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee. It was the site of the Mount Tabor battle between Barak, under the leadership of the Israelite judge Deborah, and the army of Jabin, commanded by Sisera, in the mid 14th century BC. It is believed by many Christians to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Here in the mosaic dome above the altar, where as recorded in Mathew 17, Jesus is transfigured with Moses and Elijah on either side, with Peter, James and John looking on.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 24:24

Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

In today’s reading, the people bore the judgment of God. Pictured above is the place where Jesus prepared to bear God’s judgment in place of the people. It may be that Moses and Elijah were there to encourage Jesus in His greatest of all sacrifices, bearing all our sins. Comparing 2 Samuel 24 with 1 Chronicles 21, it appears to be the same event. In the latter account, God decided to test His people by allowing Satan to tempt them to sin. Yes, David sinned, but so did the people. This shows the widespread effect of sin. Our sins do not only impact our lives, but others around us as well. Our key verse should inspire us to think about our level of sacrifice. The final words, verse 25 of 2 Samuel 24, should encourage us. It tells us that “The Lord heeded the prayers for the land.” Let us determine to be fervent and constant in our prayer life.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, the way I live my life will inevitably have an effect on others. I pray for Your grace and power in my life to be obedient to You 100% of the time. Please forgive my sin and bring healing to those who have been hurt in any way because of my sin. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I often heard my Dad pray in our family prayers as we knelt at our chairs after supper, “O God, may the smile of Your approval be on our lives.” I knew my parents would tend to smile when I was obedient and did something good, and I feared their frowns when I did the opposite. I knew that punishment was to follow on the heels of my transgression.

Tomorrow, God willing, I will read, with my blog partners, Galatians chapters 1 & 2. I’m so thankful that because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, I am now, on the basis of faith, not of works, free to enjoy freedom from sin and its power over my life. Judaism, the expression of the faith revealed in the Old Testament, is often called the cradle of the Christian faith. In Galatians, we will learn that the practice of Judaism almost became the grave of Christianity. I’m excited at the prospect of moving from King David to his descendant, King Jesus!

Yours for victory over sin, and for healing from sin’s effects through the Lord Jesus Christ,

David

Saturday, April 20, 2019

LOYALTY

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 23

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Acrocorinth above ancient Corinth was first a Greek acropolis, then a Roman citadel. Later, it became a Byzantine fortress. The Franks captured it in 1210, and it then fell into the hands of one of the rulers of Naples. An arms manufacturer and banker then owned it, followed by the Knights of Rhodes, the Turks, the Venetians, then the Turks again, and finally the Greeks once more…phew! The kingdoms of men are temporary, but God’s Kingdom is forever.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 23:3b, 4

He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.

In today’s reading, King David relates the results of his reign. He has had an education in the school of very hard knocks, and there is one more lesson to learn, as we’ll find out in tomorrow’s reading. However, for now, he knows for sure that when the ungodly rule, the people tremble in fear. On the other hand, when the righteous rule, the nation flourishes and the people rejoice. Having read over the past few days about tragic events during David’s 40-year reign, we might think that it was always that way. Not so! The majority of the years of David’s reign were peaceful and prosperous. One of the reasons for this measure of success was the great loyalty of the team known as “David’s mighty men.” Today, our leaders need loyal people around them. Jesus had loyal people around Him most of the time. Our Pastors and church leaders need our loyalty, our efforts, and our prayers. They cannot stand alone. Most of all, the ultimate loyalty is to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our King!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for my pastors, those who have the primary responsibility for spiritual oversight in my life. I pray for those who have civil authority as well. Please grant Your strength so that I will be loyal, not in a blind way, but in praying for these leaders, in paying my tithe and my taxes, and grant me opportunity for input into the lives of those who lead. In Jesus’ Name I ask these mercies, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

When my sons were on football scholarships at an American University, I was given the opportunity to address the team and the coaches. My message was from today’s reading, 2 Samuel 23. I highlighted the stories of David’s mighty men. Some fought an offensive battle, and some were on defence. Most of all, they were loyal to their leaders. The result was victory! My sons, over 30 years later, remind me from time to time of that message. I don’t remember the results of the game following my talk, but I do remember that they were fired up to win.

“The first three” of David’s mighty men are singled out for honourable mention. Peter, James, and John were singled out by Jesus. I’ve often wondered why. I’ve come to believe that they were the most fervent, the most loyal, and had developed character traits that Jesus knew would be effective in leadership. Jesus responded directly to their level of commitment. His choices were not based on favouritism.

Yours for loyalty, integrity, wisdom and all those qualities that we want in our leaders and in ourselves,

David

P.S. Have you watched the video version of my blog lately? It’s a short, two-minute summary of each day’s key verse, commentary and prayer, and it airs daily on YES-TV during commercial breaks. My son Ron and I have recorded them together lately. You can find these “vlogs” HERE.

Friday, April 19, 2019

THE ROCK OF MY SALVATION

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 22

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The fortress of Masada stands high above the Jordan Valley floor. It was here that Herod built his highly protected palace to which he could escape. Later it was used by Jewish freedom fighters who, for a couple of years, resisted a Roman siege. It was in this area where David hid from those who sought to destroy him. He may have had this scene in mind as he sang, “The Lord is my Rock.”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 22:2

And he said: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer…”

The words of today’s reading take on much more significance because of the previous chapters in the life of King David and those around him. David has lived a perilous life. He has fled from King Saul and from his own son, Absalom. From his years as a shepherd boy, protecting his sheep from the lion and the bear, to the rebellions which could have taken his life, David knew very well that he needed a hiding place in a time of crisis. David had hidden in the cleft of a rock. He had known the protection of a fortress. Now, as he composes and sings these Psalms, he is not at all confused as to how he has been saved each time. He recognized that he was never protected by a physical rock or a fortress made of stone alone. He confesses that his true Deliverer in every case was the Lord God. We learn here that God is our Protector, our strength and our future.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, I run into Your loving arms. You are my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer. Keep me, I pray, from foolish human pride which would make me think, even for a moment, that I can go it alone. In Your strong Name, Jesus, I ask for Your grace 24/7, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

David burst into song when he realized all God had done for him. I’ve done the same just now. As I sing “Rock of Ages, cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee,” I think of my dear friend, George Beverly Shea, who, at the age of 104, went into the immediate presence of his Rock, his Fortress and his Deliverer, the Lord Jesus. George, or Bev, as he became known, was raised in Canada’s capital region and was a graduate of Annesley College in Ottawa, where my parents served. As Billy Graham’s soloist, he has probably sung to more people in person than anyone else (click here to hear him sing about the “Rock of Ages”). I can never read 2 Samuel 22 without also singing a children’s song, the words taken from this Scripture, and the music composed by my son-in-law, Bruce Stacey. My great-grandchildren began singing this when they were two years old. Click here for the God Rocks team with “The Lord is my Rock,” sung by my granddaughter, Sheryl Neilson.

Yours, singing for joy at the knowledge that “He is my Rock,”

David

Thursday, April 18, 2019

CHANGE

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 20-21

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Israeli army recruits stand atop an old tank that was used in a previous armed conflict. There are hundreds of tanks on display at the Armoured Corps Memorial at Latrun, Israel.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: 2 Samuel 21:1, 14b

Now there was famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.”…So they performed all that the king had commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land.

 

As the above photo illustrates, not much has changed in the human condition. Yes, there were no battle tanks mentioned in today’s reading, just swords and spears, but people are people… except for the night and day change that happens in the human heart when Jesus comes in to dwell. We may well have been discouraged after today’s reading. Just in case that is the case, our key verses point out to us that God answered prayer for people 3,000 years ago. He still answers prayer today. Samuel was dead. Nathan the prophet did not show up with a Word from God. It appears that the political and military leaders did their own thing. It’s important that we don’t blame God for the mess Israel was in. Even so today, it’s our fault that the world is so badly messed up. It’s the story of fallen humanity. A humanity given free will by God needs to turn around, repent, and find God’s will.

The words found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 tell us that if we humble ourselves and pray, God will forgive our sins and heal our land. For encouragement we may want to read 2 Chronicles 7:12-18.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I humble myself in Your presence. I seek Your face as You told David’s son, Solomon, to do. I turn away from all wickedness, repenting with deep sorrow. I claim Your promise of forgiveness and healing. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Please forgive me, but I can’t possibly cover what is in my heart and mind in just 100 words — here goes!

I recently read a book called, Rome’s Last Citizen, the life and legacy of Cato, who is called by the authors the “mortal enemy of Caesar.” The years covered in the book are in the decades prior to the coming of Jesus. It describes a history of even greater evil than that of Israel in King David’s time.  For four years I studied Latin, the language of Rome, doing translations on examination papers and learning about the longest lasting empire ever. Before the Caesar dynasty, Rome had, for some time, operated in a hit-and-miss fashion under a constitution. It sounded good on paper, but the reality was that the leaders manipulated the constitution and the people for their own self-centred purposes. In 1968 I made my first visit to the Soviet Union. I read carefully their constitution. It was filled with high ideals which would appear to be the fulfillment of the Words of the Bible, like “Love your neighbour as yourself.” I was well aware that under that constitution Lenin and Stalin murdered millions of people. What evil there is in human hearts. My consistent longing, whether reading the history of Rome or the Soviet constitution, or today’s reading about Israel, is “O Jesus, only You can change the human heart. Only Your indwelling presence can enable me to live up to God’s standards of moral behaviour, truly loving my neighbour as myself.” In modern Rome, “Vivere al Cento Per Cento,” our Italian television productions, were released in the 1980’s. The way of salvation, by faith in Jesus alone, was clearly presented. This was a first, to my knowledge. In the Soviet Union, the Crossroads Creation series and our children’s series, Kingdom Adventure, were released on state television across all 15 republics (translated into Russian). This was another first for the message of Jesus in an officially atheistic state. In Israel, my son-in-law, Nizar Shaheen, who is ordained in the Nazareth Baptist Church, shared the Gospel of Jesus on Channel One in both of his first languages, Arabic and Hebrew. This was state television, and for several years prior for Christmas and Easter, Nizar was asked to explain how Christians understood the Hebrew prophecies concerning the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. I’m more convinced than ever that “Jesus changes everything” when He lives in the hearts of people.

Yours with an expression of Joy as I heard a new believer say, “Three cheers for Jesus!”

David

P.S. Below are pictures of two of the three mobile TV production trucks that Crossroads supporters provided for Europe. They served in Rome, The Soviet Union, and Israel. They moved around to Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Austria and Finland. Our world desperately needs Jesus and His message. The latest report I have received shows that our School of Broadcasting graduates are serving the Lord in TV in at least 90 countries. These are spiritual battle tanks!

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

THE POWER OF WORDS

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 19

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

This area near Jericho is one of the main baptismal sites on the Jordan River. On the far side of the river, people are entering the waters of baptism. They are in what is known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where in the time of Joshua, two and one half tribes remained. This is the area where we find David in today’s reading. He escaped from Absalom to a city on the east side of the river.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 19:3

And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.

The people who had stood shoulder to shoulder with David were discouraged by David’s response. They could not understand the depth of his grief. Self pity was probably a large part of David’s extreme sorrow. He knew how badly he had messed up his family and his kingdom. David was experiencing the truth of the words written a thousand years later, “God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 – click here for 6:6-10). Paul wrote good words. In the last sentence of today’s reading, “words” are mentioned twice. Words have great power to change a person, and even a nation. The words of Joab to David, rebuking him and urging him to speak words of comfort to the people, changed David’s actions. Then David spoke to the priests asking them to speak to the elders of Judah. Judah had supported Absalom. The representatives of the ten tribes, eleven counting Benjamin, had, for the most part, stood with David. The words of Barzillai come close to home for those of us who are 80 years old or over (2 Samuel 19:35). However we can take courage from the fact that God used this old man to provide food and shelter for David and those who had accompanied him from Jerusalem. What an honour it is for we who are older to use the resources God has given us to bless others.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I ask You for wise words to come from my mouth. I pray that, like Barzillai, my actions will speak even louder than my words. May I be given the grace to give generously of that with which You have entrusted me. Thank You that I’m of sound mind and that I can make decisions which will benefit Your cause. May I not wait until others have to make those decisions for me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

In my comments yesterday, I spoke of these priorities: God first, family second, and God’s other work third. My Dad, because of circumstances beyond his control, was absent from the time I was two until I was eight. During those years, some people, probably unwisely, would say to me, “David, you have to be the man of the house.” They weren’t serious, I’m sure, but to a boy those were big powerful words. I can remember standing as tall as possible, squaring my shoulders, and even lying as straight in my bed as I possibly could. When Dad came home at the close of WWII, I hid behind the bushes and my older sisters had to drag me out to greet him. In spite of that, I was glad to see him. He was a strong man with strong words. My mother had the same strengths. Some time ago, Ann, my “daughter-in-love” (we say “love” instead of “law”), was looking at a 1948 yearbook from Annesley College (John and Charles Wesley’s mother’s maiden name was Annesley). My Dad was Principal there and Mother was called the Matron. Ann said to me, “Dad, you should quote your Mom and Dad in your blog.” So here are some of mother’s words from that yearbook: “Dear young friend, is God calling you to attend Annesley College? Make sure that you are within calling distance. Live close to Jesus where you can hear His voice. When we live in that secret place with Him, we rejoice to do His bidding.” – Hazel Mainse. And some of father’s words: “In the first place, things that count for success seem just beyond our reach. We try to influence people for good, but our best efforts of themselves prove futile; and worse than useless, even harmful. The secret of successful contact is found in the magnetic Son of God, who never made a failure in any of His many human relationships.” – R. L. Mainse (below are photos of these pages in the yearbook from 1948).

Yours for learning that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11),

David

P.S. I noticed that the editor of the yearbook was Colin H. Glenn (photo below). He is the grandfather of Rev. Ray David Glenn, Rector of St. George’s Anglican Church, a congregation that has recently dedicated a new church building in Burlington, Ontario. Here are some words from Ray David’s Grandpa from that yearbook: “With 34 months service in the armed forces, I am happy to present my life a living witness to a dying world that Jesus saves, keeps, and through obedience, fills the heart with a peace that passeth all understanding, coupled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Colin Glen had been converted to Christ four years earlier while serving in Europe during WWII. The government of Canada paid for the education of several veterans who studied at Annesley College. Colin was one of those veterans.

Messages from my parents in the 1948 yearbook of Annesley College. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

 

Colin H. Glenn in the 1948 yearbook of Annesley College.

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

MY SON! MY SON!

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 18

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A tree, such as this one near Ein Gedi, may have caught Absalom’s head by entangling his long hair in the branches, his mule galloping on without a rider.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 18:33

Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom — my son, my son Absalom — if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

In today’s reading King David prepares for battle against the forces loyal to his son Absalom. David knew that organization was necessary and he did this efficiently. However, he was very conflicted because his adversary was his own son. There is no doubt that David was completely aware that it was God’s will that he would continue as King over all Israel. The divine order is to put God first, family second, and organization third. God created family long before human organizations, such as government, existed. We cannot help but be emotionally involved if we read, not just with our minds, but with our hearts also.
David mourned so deeply that he would have been willing to die in Absalom’s place. We celebrate this Easter Sunday the fact that God became Man so that He could die in our place. If David, called a “man after God’s own heart,” could love so deeply, let us meditate on Jesus who “wept” over Lazarus’ death and also “wept” over the people of Jerusalem. The greater the love, the deeper the grief. “God is love.” God’s grief over human rebellion, suffering and death is far beyond our ability to even start to understand. We are His family, His sons and daughters. An additional reading which tries to put God’s love into words is 1 John 4:7-21.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, please change my heart so that I may enter more deeply into Your heart, loving with as much of Your love as I have the maturity to experience. I love You Jesus, and I mourn that my sins caused Your death. I realize that the future for David’s family could’ve been so different if he had been obedient to You. Please give me grace and spiritual growth, learning the lessons of the tragedy of David’s family. In Your Name I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

As Norma-Jean and I welcomed our children into our family, we made a decision which I shared with the congregations that I had the honour to serve. As a Father, I was directly responsible to God for my children. It was taken for granted that Norma-Jean’s role was to the children before anyone else. There were some who thought that my calling as a minister and a pastor should take #1 priority. Not so, I let it be known. God was first, my family second, and my congregation third. I never heard from a member of any of the four congregations I served that they felt neglected in any way. I believe that the translation of the word love into all languages is time. Time with God early in the morning, when Norma-Jean and the children were sleeping, and time with Norma-Jean and the children at breakfast, dinner and most evenings. After those priorities came time with the members of the church, on call 24/7 only when absolutely necessary, in hospital visitation, often in the homes, and in my study during work/school hours. As an evangelist, the longest I ever spent away from the family was three weeks. I grieved for the last 2 weeks of that separation. I vowed “never again,” unless circumstances made it impossible to get home sooner. When I did arrive home, they couldn’t get me back to work right away, except for the times Norma-Jean and the children were not at home. God willing, I’ll continue this theme tomorrow.

Yours for establishing firmly the priorities that please God,

David

P.S. Whenever I have led a tour to Israel, one monument I always pointed out to our pilgrimage friends is “The Pillar of Absalom” standing tall in what is called “The Kings’s Valley.” Below is a photo of that pillar. We presume that Absalom’s bones are here. Not far from here is an empty tomb! JESUS IS RISEN!!!!!

Absalom’s Tomb or “The Pillar of Absalom,” located in the Kidron Valley between the Mount of Olives and the Old City of Jerusalem.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Monday, April 15, 2019

TREASON

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 17

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The shopping district of modern Jerusalem is full of hustle and bustle. Except for the modern clothing, it could be similar to a scene from 3,000 years ago.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 17:14

So Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring disaster on Absalom.

God permits certain things to happen as we exercise our free will; but HIS GREAT PLAN FOR THE AGES will not be altered by anyone!!! Absalom exercised his free will. God allowed it. However, God’s ultimate plan was to reconfirm His call on David’s life by restoring a repentant and chastened David. David’s son, Solomon, perhaps reflecting on his father’s hard lessons, wrote in Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His corrections; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (discipline – as in disciple). The writer to the Hebrews in 12:6 picks up this fact, and then we may want to read from the final book in the Bible, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” chapter 3:14-22 (click here). Verse 19 quotes Solomon. The Laodiceans, exercising their free will, chose to be lukewarm. God’s ultimate will was determined by their response to His invitation to repent, hear Him knocking, hear His voice, and open the door. Just think, if they had learned from God’s chastisement, they could have been sitting with Christ on His eternal throne.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, in Your humanity You were learning. As Hebrews 5:8 tells me, speaking of You, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Please grant me the grace to be the best learner I could ever be. “Teach me Your way, O Lord.” Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

When Norma-Jean and I were helping to establish a new congregation in Deep River, Ontario, I took a bus to Ottawa. In Ottawa I changed buses and arrived in Cornwall, Ontario, where a car dealer, Wes Miller, had found a retired school bus for our new Sunday School. I drove it back home, and I had lettering painted on one side, “TEACH ME THY WAY, O LORD,” and on the other, “STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD.” Across the front above the windshield it read, “THE SUNDAY SCHOOL SCOUT.” I was out like a hockey scout looking for future stars for Jesus. Every Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. I would drive “The Scout” north on the trans-Canada Highway for 43 miles, turn around and pick up almost every child who lived on that stretch, and bring them to Sunday School and Church. A deacon, Mervin Bowes, would take them home, arriving back at Deep River at about 2:15 p.m. He’d head home for his dinner, and I’d hop in and pick up children on a southern leg of the highway for a Sunday School and service in Chalk River. These children were learners, disciples, and many of them became true followers of Jesus who were becoming “children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). As Daniel 12:3 says, “like the stars forever and ever.” I’m still scouting for stars for Jesus!

Yours to turn many to righteousness in Christ,

David

P.S. Our missionary/photographer son visited the ruins of Laodicea in one of his photographic trips for this blog (see photo below). It’s so very sad to know that the people failed to rise to the challenge of true discipleship, failing to hear Jesus knocking at their door and speaking… or else they just chose to ignore Him. We have control of the bolt on the door to our heart. It’s on the inside. The children in the Sunday School I’ve mentioned would sing, “Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”

These are some of the ruins of ancient Laodicea in present-day western Turkey. The city was founded by Seleucid King Antiochus II in honour of his wife, Laodice. Laodicea became a prosperous Roman market town on the trade route from the east, famous for its woolen and cotton cloths. The city was an early centre of Christianity and one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 3:14-22).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

YOU ROGUE

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 16

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Jesus had to descend more than 3,800 feet when traveling from Jerusalem to the Jordan River, near the Dead Sea. Jerusalem is situated at an elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level, and the Dead Sea is 1,300 feet below sea level. Traveling from Jerusalem to the east, you can stop and take a picture at the sea level sign. Retreating from the insurrection of Absolom, King David would have taken this route on his way to cross the Jordan.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 16:23

Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

In today’s reading, the prayer of David, that is recorded in 2 Samuel 15:31, is answered. Ahithophel’s counsel is turned into foolishness. Taking the harem of an oriental King would’ve been considered the greatest insult. The public image that Absalom had so carefully developed was far from the reality of his true character. Ziba, Hushai, and others could see the real Absalom. A person who is very proud can never see his own faults. Absalom’s reign began to crumble quickly. Despite all of David’s sin, he was still the one God had chosen to be King. The High Priest, Zadok, and his sons recognized this fact. An exception was Shimei. Just imagine Shimei, perhaps on top of the rocks in the above photo, calling King David a rogue, cursing him and throwing stones at him. Surely David, on this occasion, showed great self control and mercy. David is called, “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). The Apostle Paul includes this statement in his message recorded in Acts 13:14-33 (click here for Paul’s overview of Israel’s history).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, in Your humanity You are of the seed of David, born in David’s city, chosen by God to rule forever. I give You my loyalty, my service, my resources. All that I am and have is Yours. You wept over Jerusalem, the city that symbolizes Your reign over the world which Your Father so loved that He gave You to us (John 3:16). I pray that I will also weep over those things that break Your heart. Through Your Person, Your work, and in Your Name I pray, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I steadfastly refuse to Google my name on the Internet. The last time I checked it out, several years ago, there were critics, as is to be expected for all public persons. However, I’ve experienced nothing to compare with the antics of Shimei toward David, as in today’s reading. If the Internet had been invented in King David’s day, just think what Shimei would’ve posted about David. The word “rogue” would probably be the least of the tabloid-style accusations. Think what might have been posted by Jesus’ enemies if a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth had Googled His Name 2,000 years ago. My imagination is running away with me.

In 1922 on their honeymoon, my parents travelled the road from Jerusalem to the Jordan River and back again. The Jordan, at the point it flows into the Dead Sea, is 1,300 feet below sea level. Jerusalem is 2,500 feet above sea level. The 1914 Model T Ford my Dad was driving would run out of gas unless he backed up the hills. There was no fuel pump, and with only gravity feed for the gas, and with the gas tank below the engine on the way back to Jerusalem, my Dad found a way to keep going by turning the car around and putting it into reverse. That’s just one of many stories from my childhood. When I travel the great highway pictured above, I can still see from time to time the old British road, built in 1918, snaking along on one side or the other, on which the honeymoon couple would have travelled. My imagination does the rest.

Yours for learning lessons from the past,

David