Sunday, April 19, 2015

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 singing “The Lord is my Rock”).

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

David

P.S. I watched a very special 100 Huntley Street telecast on my lap top yesterday. I encourage you to do the same and then call in your pledge of support for this culture-challenging and culture-changing ministry. Thank you!!! (click here)

 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

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.

2 Chronicles 7:14 tells 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. I studied the language of Rome, Latin, for four years, doing translations on examination papers and learning about the longest lasting empire ever. Rome, for some time, before the Caesar dynasty, had 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, “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. 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. 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 to 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!

 

Friday, April 17, 2015

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 pushing 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 2 until I was 8. 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. Yesterday, 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 just 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.

 

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

 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

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. 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 enlarge 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 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 lead a tour to Israel, one monument I always point 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.

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.

 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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 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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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 Samuel15:31 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

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

STOLEN HEARTS

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 15

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

 

On the east side of the Old City of Jerusalem is the Kidron Valley, where thousands of graves are located. The bodies were placed with the feet pointed toward the Eastern Gate in the wall of the city, with the expectation that at the resurrection they would stand up and be facing that gate into which Messiah will enter. In today’s reading, King David escaped through this valley toward the east and the Jordan River, 25 miles away.

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

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 15:31

Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!”

 

Now, David prays. He’s in big trouble. From Chapter 12 onward, David’s story and that of his family reads like a horror novel. There is incest, murder, palace intrigue, outright treason, and civil war. David’s much-loved son, Absalom, after four years of political manipulation, makes his move to seize power, usurping his father’s throne. To King David, nothing was more threatening than that Ahithophel, David’s most trusted and wise counsellor, was part of the plot. David reasoned that if he could just outwit Ahithophel’s counsel, Absalom’s rule would be shortened and he would return to his throne. It’s worthwhile to note how David sets out to accomplish this. Firstly, David prays, not against Ahithophel personally, but against the counsel Ahithophel is giving to Absalom. Secondly, David composes the 3rd Psalm, David’s prayer and confession of confidence in God. To read David’s own words, click here.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for wisdom. May I learn to always put my trust in You, worshipping You and confessing my confidence in You, even when I may not feel like it. Please give me grace to back up my prayers with obedience. In the Name of the One who always does this, the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

For about six months of the three years that Norma-Jean, our four little children, and I lived in Deep River, Ontario, the Atomic Energy of Canada’s residential area, we lived in half of a double house. In the other half of the house lived Amnon Gilat, along with his wife and son who was named Ittai. This is the same name as found in our reading. Amnon was an Israeli nuclear physicist on an exchange program between Israel and Canada. Mrs. Gilat had entered and won the annual Israel Bible knowledge contest. We had some great Bible studies together. I asked them one day as to why they had named their son Ittai. Ittai’s Mom quoted verse 21 of today’s reading and said that they hoped and prayed that their little Ittai would grow up to be as loyal to Israel and its legitimate government as the Ittai who was totally loyal to King David. My son, Ron, who sets up this blog format for me every day, and Ittai played together almost every day when they were two years old.

Also, I can’t help contrasting David’s entrance into Jerusalem from the opposite side of the city to his departure now. He entered with singing and dancing (2 Samuel 6:12-15), and now departs and “All the country wept with a loud voice.” Sin really messes everything up! No wonder God hates sin, but He loves sinners (Romans 5:6-8).

Yours for repentance and reconciliation with God, which results in rejoicing,

David

P.S. Perhaps I should point out that this chapter gives an example of a mistake in copying the original manuscript. In 15:7, it infers that Absalom was stealing the hearts of the people over a period of 40 years. We know that David’s reign spanned only 40 years. So what’s the problem? Perhaps 100 years after the original historically correct manuscript had been written, a copyist’s pen slipped and made the number 40 rather than 4. One little dot on the manuscript could’ve caused this and future scribes continued to copy a mistake. Josephus, the Jewish historian, may have gotten it right when he wrote that Absalom was four years undermining David’s rule and manipulating the people into rebellion.This in no way changes the “inerrancy” and “verbal inspiration” of the original writing. After sharing a scribal mistake, I need a lift. I found a rather irreverent piece of artwork of David entering Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. If it looked anything like this, no wonder David’s wife, the daughter of Saul, was embarrassed at her husband’s gyrations (notice her in the window). Enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 14

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

 

In the Armenian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, there is a church with this door built inside an ancient gate. Note the heavy bolts on the left. Security has always been important. King David knew that his security came from God, yet there is no record that he prayed about his decisions concerning Absalom. When big trouble comes (tomorrow’s reading), David turns to God in prayer. Why bolt the door when the enemy is already inside?

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

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 14:14

For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.

In this chapter we read of King David’s General Joab, who schemes to create a plan to bring about a reconciliation between David and his son, Absalom. Joab, as a principle counsellor to David, brings a widow before the king to present a fake issue on which David is asked to waive the next of kin’s obligation to avenge his murdered relative. The application to David in Absalom’s murder of Amnon is obvious. Joab wins his point and Absalom returns from exile.
In her appeal, the widow pleads God’s mercy and clemency to guilty sinners. While the case she presented was false, the two instances of God’s mercy were true. Firstly, we see the patience God displays toward those who break His laws. Secondly, God has made provision for the restoration of sinners. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God, “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” We may want to read all of 2 Peter 3 and meditate on “judgment.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, Your Apostle Paul tells me that if I judge myself, I will not be judged. I can read that in 1 Corinthians 11:31. In that chapter the “Lord’s Supper” is presented. When I partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine, I seek to review my conduct and judge myself. You show me areas of my life where I need to repent. I pray for ongoing grace to live in that attitude of repentance. In Your strong Name I pray, Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I very much encourage every blog reader to come along side the Crossroads Family of Ministries. In my opinion the flagship telecast, 100 Huntley Street, is the most effective television anywhere when it comes to confronting the culture, particularly now in 2015. Our son, Ron, who posts my blog for 6:00 a.m. each day, serves the Lord as the “Chief Ministry Officer” for the entire ministry. He also writes to all our supporting members each month. This blog may be longer than usual, so I ask you to take the time to read prayerfully what Ron writes to you. Please respond with your best ministry gift and if possible a monthly faith promise.

Yours for learning to judge ourselves,

David

Here’s Ron…

Hi folks! Thanks for taking the time to read this as we are about to launch into 10 days of special 100 Huntley Street programs, beginning on Monday. Here’s what we’ll be talking about…

Do we “engage” or “enrage?”

Is it possible to share timeless Biblical Truth without resorting to anger and argument? Is it possible to lovingly embrace those with whom we disagree without compromising our beliefs? The answer is a resounding “YES!”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “…we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the Church” (Ephesians 4:15).

If there ever was a time for Christians to lovingly communicate God’s truth about controversial and polarizing issues, it is now! But we must develop our convictions based on research, reason, and Biblical truth…and be able (and willing) to communicate these convictions with a love and respect that reflects God’s own heart.

One of our TV viewers wrote to us these words:

“As this world seems to spin out of control…we as parents are left helpless and hopeless trying to make a difference in our kids’ lives. 100 Huntley Street provides a different insight, bringing words of faith, hope and encouragement. Thank you! May God continue to bless this amazing ministry!” –Gaby, Markham, Ontario

Our Crossroads/100 Huntley Street ministry leader, Dr. John Hull, has clearly expressed his determination for us to be ACTIVELY ENGAGED in strongly, yet lovingly, speaking Biblical Truth into some of today’s most divisive issues. And as we look around us, we see 10,000 Reasons to Engage! That’s our theme for April…

Joining us this month on 100 Huntley Street is bestselling author and pastor Chip Ingram. In his timely and relevant book, CULTURE SHOCK, Chip tackles the tough topics that others tend to avoid, and he shows us how to bring light rather than heat to some of the most controversial issues of our day.

As a pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to truly live out their faith. Covering topics such as right and wrong, sex, homosexuality, abortion, politics, and the environment, CULTURE SHOCK is a must-have guidebook to replacing reactionary hate with revolutionary love. Chip writes…

“For too long the Church has been silent on these issues that are shaping our culture. For too long opposing groups have thrown rocks, slanted statistics, and vilified one another, even within the Church…Let’s put truth and love together and explore what the Bible says about today’s most divisive issues.”

We want to put a copy of CULTURE SHOCK into your hands and the hands thousands of believers across the country! It is a message that MUST get out if we are to be the kind of loving “salt and light” influence on society that Jesus taught us to be.

Your financial support means so much and is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for joining with us to ENGAGE a lost, hurting and deceived world with the TRUTH and LOVE of Jesus!

As our special “thank you” for your ministry donation this month, please allow me to send you a copy of CULTURE SHOCK. You can simply give online and ask for the book HERE or you can call us during the week at 1-800-265-3100.

IN ADDITION TO THE CULTURE SHOCK BOOK…

Chip Ingram has also recorded a Culture Shock DVD video series, which we want to make available to you. Here’s the opportunity…

During April, we are highlighting the vital importance of monthly membership, so we want to send an extra “thank you” gift to those who make a NEW monthly commitment at one of our membership levels. Perhaps you would prayerfully consider becoming a member at our newest membership level called a “Genesis Member” at $20 per month (that’s 65 cents a day)…or our other levels are $30, $60 or $100 per month.

If God leads you to say “YES” to this monthly giving challenge, we would love to send you BOTH the book AND the 12-part Culture Shock video teaching series. Chip’s powerful video is recorded on three DVD’s and includes a study guide…perfect for your own personal viewing or to give to your church for use with a small group.

Again, you can simply call us at 1-800-265-3100 or make your pledge online HERE (I’m told that an option for monthly giving on that website will be available by Monday).

Thank you so much for your generous support. Together we will engage our culture with the unshakable Truth and amazing love of Jesus!

With you in Christ’s service,

Ron Mainse

P.S. Don’t forget to request your copy of CULTURE SHOCK, and be sure to watch 100 Huntley Street for our special programming days from April 13th -24th. Your support means so much in enabling us to engage our culture with the Gospel. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to Him!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

INCEST and MURDER

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 13

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

 

Two Shepherds milk a sheep amidst the ruins of Jerash, Jordan. This photo is a reminder of the ewe in Nathan’s story (II Samuel 12:1-4).

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

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 13:15a, 28

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her…Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, “Watch now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon!’ then kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.”

In yesterday’s reading, we read that the prophet Nathan chastised David for his sin of adultery and arranging for Uriah’s death. Nathan predicted accurately what the future would hold. The sins of David were repeated in his children. Incest and murder, recorded here, provide a lesson on the true horror of sin. Second Timothy 3:16 teaches us the reason for the inclusion of such a story in Scripture. It is “for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” King David did not have the writings of Paul as we do. The Apostle made it absolutely clear that, “Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:7b & 8a). After eight more days of reading in 2 Samuel, we move over to the New Testament to read Galatians. Let us all be disciplined, as disciples of Jesus, and not give up our daily reading. We will reap benefits as a result of our faithfulness. Paul also says in the very next verse, Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray that I will pay closer attention than ever to Your “instruction in righteousness.” Please Lord, write Your Word on my heart again today, and every day. Keep me faithful in my daily reading of Your Word I pray. In the Name of the One who lives in my heart and who is always faithful, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

As I read today’s awful, tragic story, I thought of the tabloid papers that it seems impossible to avoid as I pass through the checkout counters at the grocery store. I try to avert my eyes so that I’m looking at my groceries and concentrating on my payment. Nevertheless, in the corner of my eye, there they are, filled with lurid headlines, half truths, outright lies, and awful pictures. I’ve spent a lifetime checking out Bible stories and have concluded that, while some of them are horrible, they are, unlike the tabloids, an accurate record of the human condition. In other “religious” writings, I find that the writers do not have their sins splashed across the pages as we find in the Bible. To me, this honesty is a great proof of the fact that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). I believe that God is and that He has responded to diligent seeking hearts with truth. I’ve just taken the time to read a New Testament chapter, Hebrews 11. What an amazing gallery of God’s celebrities! It’s far more interesting than any tabloid, and there is one great advantage in reading the Bible… It’s TRUE!

Yours for making the Scriptures the vital component in our spiritual DNA,

David

P.S. I watched this past week the Easter message of the Prime Minister of The United Kingdom, David Cameron. Every country should be blessed with such a leader (click here). He is one of the leaders I pray for almost every morning. Two years ago this week, Margaret Thatcher, a former PM of Britain, died. I put a link to a transcript of her message to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 100words. It’s well worth reading again (click here).

 

Friday, April 10, 2015

WHITER THAN SNOW

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 11-12

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

 

Mount Hermon is the only ski resort in Israel and is located in the north. Even in Summer a snow cap can still be seen. King David prayed, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7b).

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

 

Key Verse: 2 Samuel 12:7a

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!…”

In today’s Bible reading we learn that it is impossible to hide from God. God told the prophet Nathan all about David’s sin. David had tried to cover it up. God will rip the covers off in His time and for His purpose. Perhaps because David had been so blessed by God, he thought he would be an exception, and that God would let him get away with his sin. When we read together the Psalms, we’ll see that David has a special relationship with God. Is it possible that David thought God would let him get away with adultery and the deliberate act of ensuring Uriah’s death? Perhaps David no longer feared God as he once did. Psalm 111:10 tells us, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Jesus is quoted in each of the first three Gospels saying, “There is nothing covered that will not be revealed” (Matthew 10:26). This should put “the fear of God” into us. David, when he was caught, repented. He wrote Psalm 51 at this time. Let’s take time to read it together. In 51:7b he states his confidence that God washes away his sin and makes him “whiter than snow.” While God forgives, the circumstances don’t always forgive, as we will see in tomorrow’s reading.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I join King David in his prayer of repentance: “Have mercy upon me” (Psalm 51:1). “Cleanse me from my sin” (51:2b). “Create in me a clean heart” (51:10a). I pray this through Jesus, who bore my sin on the cross and who washes me clean in the blood that He shed (1 John 1:7b – let’s read all of 1 John chapter one). Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I believe that “repentance” is a constant in my life. John the Baptist began his ministry with the word “repent” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus did the same (Matthew 4:17). Is this a top priority for a believer? That’s for sure! To me, “repentance” means a 180 degree turn! 179 degrees and I’m still moving away from God. Daily Bible reading and prayer keeps me focused like the surveyor I saw with a transit scope the other day. I must not look away from God’s will for my life. David did, and look what it cost him.

On one occasion, I had the joy of skiing at Whistler, British Columbia. The lifts were full and I found myself sharing a three-person chair with two young ladies from Quebec. The move to separate from Canada was big then. They told me they would vote for Quebec as an independent country. I said, in my best French, “Look around you. B.C. is your country now. It won’t be if you separate. How could you possibly give up all this beauty?” They answered, “We’ll think about that.” Then I asked them to think about someone else…God. I quoted Job 38:22 – “Have you considered the treasures of the snow?” (that’s my rough translation from French). That opened the conversation for the next few minutes to talk about the Lord! Good seed was planted in their hearts. I saw them from a distance twice more that day, and they waved and gave me their biggest smiles. Perhaps they we’re laughing at my accent, but I think not! Je pense non! Oui?

Yours for “Whiter than snow,”

David

P.S. Over a three-year period some 50 years ago, I read the French Bible daily in my time of devotions. I suggest that this is a great way to learn a language, holding in one hand the English text and the French in the other. Here’s a link to a French and English parallel version of today’s reading (click here).