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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

June 2015

Last Words

2 Samuel 23:1-7

Have you ever thought about what your last words would be when the time comes? What would the people around you will remember about your life? And even more so, what is that one idea that gave you power and made you who you are, that one idea that can become your legacy?

I think about that once in a while, I can say that is not an easy conversation I have with myself. But for David this seemed easy, it seems natural:

‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.’

Rule in Righteousness!

So, have you thought about your life from that perspective? What would my legacy be? I would encourage you to take some time and think about your life, give thanks to God for who you are today but also listen for that voice that might shape you for who you are as a legacy.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Everyone Panic!!

2 Samuel 21:15-22

Clearly there’s something in the water in Gath.  This clan of inbred warriors must have been terrifying to the ancient jews who were likely fairly diminutive.  They don’t just have to face Goliath, they have to fight his brothers and his buddies.  There’s a lot of obvious application here about the difficulty of life and the faithfulness of God, but just as important is the way we deal with the hard things in life.  I like that as David and his men were protecting their country there’s no note of panic like there was with the first large warrior (Goliath).  When we become accustomed to the challenges of life.. and accustomed to depending on God, our moments of panic begin to fade.  Instead we do to things often; pray and get to work.

Weathering The Famine

2 Samuel 21:1-14

When Micah asked if I’d be willing to do a blog post I wasn’t sure I could be eloquent or inspiring. I also thought I’d get a very flowery and fun passage, because isn’t that what the Bible is supposed to do? Make you feel good?

Well having taken some time to read 2 Samuel (and read it and read it) I have spent a lot of time thinking about how on earth this passage can apply to my life. So 2 Samuel 21:1-14 is pretty heavy and really not a feel good passage. It starts in a time of famine during David’s time. 3 years to be specific… Now I don’t know about you, but I feel like over the last 15 years of my life I have struggled through periods of famine. From a marriage, to motherhood, job loss, divorce, job loss, illness, relationship struggles, dependency issues I’ve had my fair share of emotional, physical and spiritual famine. I have many times found myself crying at someone’s feet, crying out for relief and help and not knowing if I’d would ever see the end of it.

From droughts to unemployment, sickness to personal failures. We all have some sort of famine we deal with. We all have times in our lives where we are without something we so desperately need. We feel hopeless and confused. We question why WE are the ones suffering and look for a reason. Poor choice, bad luck, misfortune, God’s will.

In the same vein, to every action we take, there is a consequence. There are ripple effects for decisions and choices we make, our spouses make, our children make, their children make and someone down the line can pay a price for a poor choice. There is always a “bigger picture” than just our immediate needs. We need to remember to seek counsel and guidance in times of famine.

What does David do? He seeks GOD, he asks for wisdom in understanding why this is happening and what can be done to change it? He knows that there is a reason, and he calmly and rationally explores a solution.

Do we do that? I don’t always, I bargain and barter. I look to blame someone else, I don’t always want to take responsibility for being there. It’s easy to want to find some other reason that we suffer, but all we really need to do is take it to God. Seek his counsel and rationally find the solution.

Now we live in a very different time, and our problems won’t be solved in quite the same way as David’s, but if we seek God he will provide us with steps to ease our strife. In verses 5-6 David goes to the Gibeonites to right this wrong and he is asked to hand over seven sons of Saul to be hanged. David agrees and hands them over to be executed as criminals if it means that there will be an end to the famine. So all seven men are hanged on a holy mountain, before God, just as harvest is getting underway.

Enter Rizpah mother of two of the men. She stations herself on a rock, looking over the bodies and keeping the birds and animals from desecrating the bodies, and she remains at vigil for months on end. As a mother, and maternal figure to all the men, she love them so completely, and though it pains her to know they died before their time, she stands guard, giving them the respect and protection that they deserve. A good lesson we can learn from this is that despite the actions of our children (or those who look up to us for guidance) we cannot stop loving them or protecting them under any circumstance. We must accept responsibility for our actions, trust God and love unconditionally. Even during the hardest of times.

Kristina Wilson

 

Trouble Upon Trouble…

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II Samuel 20

The rebellion which Absalom started is not quite over.  There is more trouble for David after the sorrow of Absalom’s rebellion and death.  As you remember, originally the tribes of Israel didn’t anoint David as King.  It took awhile for them to recognize David as the legitimate King.  Here we see the fissures between the Northern tribes and Southern Tribe of Judah and surface once again.

Israel deserts David to follow Sheba son of Bikri as their King.  David still upset with Joab for killing Absalom places Amasa in charge of his army.  Joab will not settle for any demotion and takes Amasa’s life.  David has a rebellion starting with the Northern Tribes and major discord amongst his generals.  His son Absalom is dead.

Sometimes trouble follows trouble in life.  I’ve had people say to to me, “It can’t get any worse than this.”  But you know that’s not necessarily true.  Life can get darker.  Life can get worse.  There are seasons when trouble follows trouble.

Yet, God is faithful through it all.  By the end of this Chapter things settle down for David.  Joab, while not tolerating Amasa replacing him, is always loyal to the best interests of David.  The rebellion is put down.  David’s leaders are in place and David is still King.

When sorrows and troubles come may we keep looking to the Lord for our strength, guidance, and hope.  May we also have friends in Christ who support us through it all.

 

Asking the right questions

2 Samuel 19:9-43

Reading today’s chapter made me wonder what is going on with these people? They argue, plot against each other and you think that hell will break lose any moment now.

But then i look at the whole situation, David, Mephibosheth, the priests and one thing that stands out to me is: these people were good at asking questions. No matter what the conflict was about they were willing to talk, to answer the why and who, the where and how.

Church communities are sometimes known for their lack of empathy, or grace to use a church word. Many times we look around us and we fail to see the loving God in the people around because we lose perspective of what is at stake. For the people in this chapter was the unity and their own survival. For us there is something we call christian witness that little foundation that gives the ability to speak about our lives, about the grace we found and ultimately encourage people around us to see grace alive.

So when conflict arises, please take time to show grace, ask the right questions and who knows what God can do though you.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

King and father…

Lego 7094 King's Castle_1

2 Samuel 19:1-8

David is grieving the loss of Absalom.  You might even say based on the passages wording that David is lost or isolated in his grief.

Also…by now in our reading, we are all too familiar with the style of Joab – brash, to the point, all business.  Joab scolds David.

2 people…2 emotions being played out.  Who is right?  Well, as always is true in life, things are never truly black and white.  David is both father and king.  He is naturally grieving the death of Absalom despite all the grief Absalom has caused him and the family.

Joan makes known that the people and the army are grieving the depth of David’s grief.  They expect a king to be a king.  Joab unceremoniously jerks David back into reality – a little too hard do you say?  He tells David that he must appear in public – that he must be king.  The people and the troops must know that the king is in control…that their lives have meaning and dignity.  Joab is right…but his technique could have been better but that isn’t his way

Often in life we run into people who, no matter how right they may be, we simply won’t pay attention to them because of their brash and uncaring nature but we count on them because of their role in life.  I saw this a lot in business – there were many Joabs.  No matter how right we may think ourselves, our manner of responding is critical.

The Bigger Picture.

2 Samuel 18:19-33

When I see David in this story I can’t help but think that he’s done a pretty thorough job of turning a blind eye.  I can’t imagine how David’s men felt when they saw David wish he was dead rather than Absalom.  They had just risked their lives for his.  They’d taken down an insurrectionist and and David is grief stricken.  Grief is obviously natural but Absalom was a conniving murderer.  I guess I would hope that in this situation David would see the bigger picture.  It reminds me of my own tendency to only see the world the way I want.  We all do it; we’re all self-deluded to some degree.

Absalom + Joab

2 Samuel 18:1-18

Chapter 18 is full of contrasts. It begins with David’s making plans for the battle that will end the revolt and ends with that same David immobilized with grief over the death of his son Absalom. The chapter also gives the reader an unforgettable picture of a brokenhearted father – a man to whom what was the best of news to him as king was the worst of news to him as a father. The chapter opens with Absalom planning his final assault upon the king and closes with Absalom buried in a pit underneath a pile of stones.

It had been David’s intention to lead the army into battle because he was once again feeling confident. However, his people talked him out of it because they feared for his life. David’s final instruction to his troops was to “deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (v.5).

Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, Joab is back in the story and he did what the soldier could not do, he killed Absalom. Joab knew that to spare the son would please the father but that as long as Absalom was alive the kingdom would be in peril, so he assumed the responsibility for his death. The most notable aspect of this act is that Joab was willing to expose himself to David’s potential wrath in order to serve David’s best interests. It was a wise and courageous choice. How do we make important decisions in our life?

Mary Lynn

Fortuitous Assistance

II Samuel 17:24-29 

Events unfold that are supportive of David, his army, and loyal followers.  Absalom is moving toward the end of his rebellion just when he believes he will win the day.  David, his army and people receive the rest and the food they needed to recover from being on the run.  Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai come through for David and bring the food just when it is most needed, at the right time, for “The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.”

Today, think about all those special people in your life that have come through for you. Give thanks, this day, for those who have graced your life with love, care, and hope.

 

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