When No One Can Agree on David: How to Solve Differences of Opinion

siphonophore_8482692352I get frustrated and angry when I see Christians arguing over aspects of David’s life; it seems that no one can agree on anything. It’s more than disagreeing, it’s the outright contempt and disrespect towards other’s opinions which I see from time to time, that really gets to me, and worse than that, it stops people from getting the full benefit of the Word of God.

I understand that some Christians haven’t thought Scripture through, or have come to a poor conclusion from accessing a limited amount of information, but when the ego-propelled knives come out, I unplug. At the moment I don’t follow or participate in any Christian groups online, which is a shame, but I can really do without the fighting.

Through nature, the Lord has given us a beautiful vision of how He wants us to work together. In the deep oceans are creatures called siphonophores. They appear to be one organism, but they are not. They are a colony of hundreds, or thousands of organisms, which are all joined together and work together for survival. Some propel the colony along, some catch food and ensure that all are fed, some have stingers which catch prey. They are majestic, beautiful and a stunning example of how we are supposed to be: one united group with our individual gifts, which should be carried out for the benefit of the whole. As Paul said:

“For even as we have many members in one body, and all members do not have the same function, so we the many are one body in Christ, and each one members of one another. Then having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us… Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good; in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honour. As to diligence, not slothful, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…” Romans 12:4-6a and 9-11

general_principles_of_zoology_1896_14759526896The New Living Translation represents verses 9 and 10 even better: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.”

This is where we fall apart. We are so caught up in pride, wanting our opinion to be the only one; craving having our interpretation of Scripture to be the only endorsed correct one, that we walk all over each other, and give Christianity a poor reputation… even to other Christians.

I also see these traits in other religions and scientific disciplines. Where there are two people, there seems to be a power struggle, whatever the topic. There is, however, a cure for this.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. So watch yourselves! If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” Luke 17:1-4

“You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment. You shall not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty; but you shall judge your neighbour in righteousness.
You shall not go as a slanderer among your people; you shall not stand against the blood of your neighbour. I am Jehovah. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall always rebuke your neighbour, and not allow sin on him. You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people; but you shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am Jehovah.” Leviticus 19:15-18

So if someone drives you nuts, or you totally don’t agree with them, at least hear their point of view, respectfully share yours and don’t let your fleshly ego win. Who knows, there may be something important you can learn from each other? Regardless, any act of loving kindness you make towards anyone is always a righteous decision.


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

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What the Torah Taught David About the Love of God

yhwhIt’s not easy to keep your faith level high while experiencing this kind of chaotic stress:
“O LORD, how long will You forget me? Forever?
How long will You look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O LORD my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD
because He is good to me.” Psalm 13

Like all of us, David struggled with his relationship with the Lord when the heat was turned up. Through a haze of stress and fear, he wondered where the Lord had gotten to. At times, as was the culture of the era, he took God’s silence as possible rejection and fretted over what would become of him. Had he been judged as so sinful that God had walked away? Thankfully, his problems always end with God’s hoped for deliverance arriving, and a deeper, richer understanding of God’s love and character.

David didn’t have the entire Old Testament and the New Testament to teach him what we know about God. All he had was the written laws of Moses and the stories of Isra’el’s history (Torah), yet he had an incredible, dynamic faith that has stood the test of time as a powerful example to others. So without Jesus as the prime example, how did he know about the full character of God?

I have made the mistake of thinking of the Torah as a historical reference. Until I began to write this article, I hadn’t properly looked at what those books tell us about the character of God. I prefer to read about the love and gentleness of Jesus, rather than about battles and plagues. I enjoy reading Paul’s letters: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39.

As I began to search for clues about God’s character in the Torah, I Googled Scriptures about the love of God. The Open Bible.info gave me a list of 59, with only one coming from the Torah. [Ref. Exodus 19:5] With the exception of a few Psalms, which were written by David so they don’t count, the rest of the love Scriptures came into being well after David’s time. They are the ones I am familiar with and rely on, so no wonder I hadn’t dug back further.

The answer is God’s loving kindness has been repeatedly, clearly displayed since Genesis 1. The Torah is as rich in references to God’s amazing love as the New Testament. Here are some examples:

  • Despite the catastrophe, God physically looked after Adam and Eve after they had sinned. [Ref. Genesis 3:21]
  • Noah was saved from the flood and God made a covenant with him, because God’s people are too important to be left behind. [Ref. Genesis chapters 6-9]
  • Abraham was a friend of God. He was saved from being childless and “God had blessed him in every way,” by the time he was an old man. [Ref. Genesis 12-24]
  • God dried tears and generously provided basic needs in life for his people, such as wives and He reversed barrenness in faithful women such as Rebecca, in Genesis 25. God’s kindness to a grieving Hagar is another beautiful picture of compassion combined with a practical solution. [Ref. Genesis 21]
  • The deliverance and blessing of Joseph speaks volumes about God’s kindness and guard, not to mention his plan for us as individuals. No matter how awful life got, he never left Joseph down on his luck for long. [Ref. Genesis 37-50]
  • a8a6bacac7c86b28314c4f4616891a59In *Exodus, God delivered Isra’el from Egypt because He heard their pain. In the wilderness they were supplied with every spiritual and physical need, despite their rebellion, and they were promised that God would delight in them. [Ref. Deuteronomy 30:9-10] This includes food, water, healing, **conquering their enemies miraculously multiple times, being physically present with them and more. Even the ten commandments are loving safety guidelines for a people who’d been subject only to pagan gods and rituals, and needed to learn how to live better lives. [Ref. Exodus 20] Deuteronomy 4:31: “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.”
  • In Leviticus 26:1-13 God promises to live among His people and walk among them. He isn’t in Heaven looking down, He lived and moved alongside man. At this time in history, every other nation was trying to placate their gods, who they were terrified of.
  • Moses’ close friendship with God is a beautiful example of God’s willingness to form a bond with His people. This is highlighted in Exodus 33:33:12-23. In Exodus 34:5-7, God describes Himself to Moses including, “I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.”
  • God’s patience is shown in the book of Judges again and again, and again, as Isra’el repeatedly rebels. In Deuteronomy 28, God sets out the curses of disobedience and gives the people five massive, staged warnings to turn back to Him; then even when they have completely rejected God and have been torn away from their birthright, He says, “But despite all this, I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out, for I am the LORD their God. For their sakes I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of all the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 26:44-45 and Deuteronomy 4:29-31 “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey Him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which He confirmed to them by oath.”

As I said above, this is not an exhaustive list. How can David have known all these stories and not known the love of God? He can’t and he didn’t.
“Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.” Psalm 25:6

“Let all that I am praise the LORD;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
…He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:1-5 and 10-12

That Psalm repeats the entire message of the Torah, which is that God was in an active, covenant relationship with His people which He will never discard. That relationship is still not complete and never will be. God will always fight for and provide for His people with a fierce, jealous love and David knew he was wanted, treasured, provided for and sought after; the problems with his walk with God only showed up… when his judgement was smothered by pain.

So next time you feel discouraged, or like God has abandoned you, don’t beat yourself up over your lack of faith. We all go through it, including spiritual giants like David. Fear and grief take over and dominate our thoughts, and we don’t reason straight. However, like David, we will also get through it. He always has been there for His people and He is not about to leave us now, no matter what…

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Notes:
*Exodus 19:1-6: “On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

**The battles God fought for Isra’el, up until David’s time, which would have served as an example to him.
– Crossing the Red Sea – Exodus 14
– Victory over the Amalekites – Exodus 17:8-16
– Promise to fight for the people – Exodus 23:27-31 and Deuteronomy 7:7-8
– Jordan River dry crossing – Joshua 3:15-16
– Fall of Jericho – Joshua 6:20-21
– Ai – Joshua 8
– Amonites – Joshua 10:11
– North captured for Isra’el – Joshua 11:16-20, especially verse 23
– South captured for Isra’el – Joshua 10:40-42
– Deborah and Barak – Judges 4:14-15
– Gideon – Judges 7
– Samson – Judges 16, especially verse 30
– Ark of the Covenant against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 7
– Saul’s first battle, against King Nahash of Ammon – 1 Samuel 11
– Jonathan against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 14

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The inspiration for this post came from ‘Fierce,’ by Jesus Culture
Before I call
Before I ever cry
You answer me
From where the thunder hides
I can’t outrun
This heart I’m tethered to
When every step
I collide with You

Like a tidal wave
Crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane
That I can’t escape
Tearing through the atmosphere
Your love is fierce

You cannot fail
The only thing I’ve found
Is through it all
You never let me down
You don’t hold back
Relentless in pursuit
At every turn
I come face to face with You

Like a tidal wave
Crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane
That I can’t escape
Tearing through the atmosphere

Your love is fierce
You surround me
You chase me down
You seek me out
How can I be lost
When You have called me found
You chase me down
You seek…


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

Book Review: Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide

705424Jacket Blurb – don’t let the heavy wording put you off, see what I have to say about it below! : In an engaging style–characteristic of the author, Walter Brueggemann–this Essential Guide describes the leading motifs of ancient Israel’s worship traditions in the Old Testament. The author guides the reader through the themes, central texts, prayers, festivals, and practices of that worship. He sees throughout the Old Testament a central emphasis on worship as a covenantal gesture and utterance by the community in the presence of God. In addition to being an essential guide to this subject, this book is intended to be in the service of current theological and practical issues concerning worship of the church in its ecumenical character.

As this month contains a number of significant festivals in the Jewish calendar, (which I have blogged about), this book fits right in. The festivals were based around celebrating the provision and faithfulness of God towards Isra’el, and of course, that is done through worship.

I will start by saying that I learnt masses through this great little book. I picked it up to learn about David, then found myself spending more time thinking about how I worship. While not every reviewer has agreed with Professor Brueggemann, he inspired me to take a look at whether I fit in with the current church trend and praise God their way, or whether I worship genuinely, using my own initiative as my heart leads me. This is both a book to help you understand the past, and to make you take a good look at where you’re at with God now.

Professor Brueggemann’s chapter which spoke of the Israelites honest communication with God, was challenging and comforting to me, as I am pretty much a straight talker in the prayer department too. If I feel hard done by, the Lord knows about it and has a sore ear. David was the same, as were quite a few people I had never thought of. I was relieved to know that this is acceptable, as long as I am respectful of Who God is and don’t stoop to abuse or blame; (that last part was my reasoning, not Professor Brueggemann’s content.) A blog post on this topic will be coming out shortly, as it inspired me so much.

The way God’s relationship with Isra’el was interpreted in terms of His covenant with His people and their response, was absolutely correct and added a beautiful rich texture to the book. The focus on worship building a relationship, and adding constant new depth to it was just awesome.

loyaltyHonestly, I think David would really like this book and how he and his nation are represented. It’s not a theological tome on what people did, it’s a key hole view into how God built His nation, and how Isra’el was able to freely embrace and benefit from that in a loving way. Worship is the key response and still is. Some things have never changed.

The Psalms are mentioned in quite a few places and some of Professor Brueggemann’s breakdown of their structure was the least dry assessment I have read yet: and I have slogged through many cracked, mouldy dissections which bled the life out of David’s beautiful responses to God.

There is one problem, sadly… while the jacket blurb refers to an engaging style, the heavy theological language that this book started out with, was anything but engaging and easy to read. I had picked this book up a year ago, tried to read it and failed. This time, I knew I needed the content, so I hung in there, and thankfully, that perseverance paid off exceptionally well. If you cannot handle theological language, big words, or academic, formal writing styles, you won’t appreciate the book, which is a shame as it has so much to offer. My only other criticism is I wish I knew what Professor Brueggemann meant by “thick.” I can take a guess, but a definition would have been beneficial.

I do recommend this work. It doesn’t take too long to read, and has left me more aware of the depth of God’s love for me.

 

amazon-logo_transparentGet it on Amazon
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005 ISBN: 0-687-34336-4.(This post has been neither sponsored or requested.)

Read a second opinion / review from a theologian.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

How Studying David Broke the Old Testament Open For Me

46010905_sI believe it would please David to hear that the most important lesson I learnt, when studying his life, was not about him. Instead, it’s been a journey of learning what the heart of God is really like and just what “the Lord is slow to anger and merciful” concretely means.

When I was introduced to the Old Testament, early in my Christian walk, I was led to believe that there was no mercy in it. Certainly, there is a massive difference between obtaining right standing with God through grace and the sacrifice Jesus made, and through animal sacrifices. Throughout the Old Testament, sacrifices had to be made to atone for the sins of the people. However, the heavy statement of ‘no grace” was interpreted by me as “not much mercy.”

Whenever I visit the Old Testament section of our local Christian bookshop, I am the only one there. The Old Testament is notorious for being a tough read. Life was cruel and hard. There were terrible wars, God’s judgement on mankind was a heavy feature and He seemed to be in a bad mood, quite a lot of the time. Prophetic books overflow with warnings of judgement due to disobedience, and many people stay clear of the whole thing. We prefer the softer, more loving Heavenly Father in the New Testament. We don’t want our ears burned off with tales of rape, child sacrifice, sexual immorality and fighting.

I can understand the revulsion and how hard it is to understand the old way of things; but to understand even the most basic parts of David’s story, I had to dive deep into waters I did not like swimming in. I read of God’s judgement of Moses and my heart broke for him. Not to reach the Promised Land after all he went through and sacrificed for the nation seemed cruel. He’d only acted disobediently once. Just once. I told the Lord quite plainly what I thought of that.

Then I got to David’s story and slogged through the judgement that came after the affair with BathSheba and death of Uriah, her husband. All hell broke loose in David’s life and I comprehend why, but it still seemed incredibly excessive that he paid so dearly. To lose a baby would be bad… but… the rape of a daughter, murder of his heir, rebellion and murder of his second son… isn’t that too heavy?

So I was left with a decision. Was I going to tell the Lord off again?

This time I wised up. Something in my head said, “stop yelling at the Lord, that’s just not right.” It’s not. I had to stop and look at the heart of God. What occurred to me was how desperately the Father must have wanted Jesus to come to earth and become the sacrificial lamb, to stop the necessity for all this horrific suffering.

creationswap_wordsWhen you look at the Psalms, the number of references David makes to the Lord’s unfailing love for him and His deep mercy, are many. Severely chastised as he was, he was on secure footing with his heavenly Father. David knew who he could depend on. I see mercy and love everywhere in David’s story.

Then I looked back at Moses, the Exodus, the book of Judges and then I slowly began to move forward, in historical order, through the prophets. Again, everywhere I find mercy, promises of love, forgiveness and restoration.

There is no shortage of grace in the Old Testament. It was just that no one could be sanctified through it yet.

Do you know how long it took the Lord to send the people of Isra’el into captivity for their disobedience? From the time Moses took the people out of Egypt to the last Babylonian captivity which took out Judah, was roughly 849 years. I can get really mad in under eight seconds.

A harsh, angry, judgemental God would not wait that long to act. Our God did,

The point at which the northern tribes of Isra’el and the southern tribes of Judah went into their captivities, was the point where the people had become so depraved, the temple was filled with foreign gods which represented murderous and immoral practices, and even God’s own priests had become murderers. The people had reached a point of blackness and depravity not seen in our western culture. They could no longer be reached. So God punished them, knowing that through His word and the prophets, that some would realise their suffering was because they had forsaken their God and their promises. [2 Chronicles 36:15-16]

That meant that at least some people and future generations were saved to regenerate a relationship with the Lord, and to ensure the survival of the nation of Isra’el, living within God’s covenant promises. Had God not acted, none would have been saved.

That is patience on a scale I can’t comprehend.

So that is what I learned. That throughout all the bad old days, the love of the Lord was as committed, strong and beautiful as it is now. I no longer see a division between the behaviour of an Old Testament and New Testament God. I can see how it is the same God, Yahweh, who has been striving with mankind against all odds, and because of His unfailing love and mercy, I now serve Him.

Do you want to know what the next lesson after that revelation was? How desperately both God the Father and Jesus, the Messiah, must be awaiting the coming of Jesus, so they can upgrade mankind’s spiritual condition to a higher level of safety and intimacy with Him, again.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

David, the Underdog?

underdogOne of the lessons that I struggle the most to learn is who I am in the Lord, and how valuable I am to Him. I can get so stuck in my problems, that I forget that the One who built and maintains the Universe, loves me and is on my side. When I think like that, I defeat myself, by letting circumstances defeat me. I become the underdog, fighting to survive against a world which is bigger than I can cope with. I forget that God is bigger than my problems. I know I am not alone in this struggle to feel secure and treasured; many of us grapple with the same issue.

One of the things that intrigues me about the story of David and Goliath, is that even though we know how it ends, (spoiler alert: *God wins through David’s courage,) we call David the underdog. In reality, David cannot help but win, because of God’s massive love for His people. I scratch my head and wonder why we label David like this, when we know the value that Isra’el has to the Lord.

Isra’el had a very special position on the Earth. “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Isra’el.” Exodus 19:5-6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear.” Leviticus 26:6

Even with promises like these, and the many testimonies of what God had done for Isra’el since Abraham’s time, Isra’el still forgot that they were a treasure to God, just as we do. [Ref. Genesis 22:15-18] By the time Goliath was threatening the nation, God’s beloved people were so displaced from their faith, that they had forgotten that God was there to help fight their battles. Knowing that, David could not possibly have lost unless he was acting in disobedience to the Lord.

“David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you… and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues His people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and He will give you to us!” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

If David knew what the outcome had to be, why, three thousand years later, haven’t we caught up with his thinking? It appears that we have this compulsion to label threats big and God as smaller than He is. We are no different than Isra’el, in that we let fear take over. God is poised and willing to fight for us, but we have to be reminded of that, in order to wrestle our fleshly minds back off their disaster-focussed auto-pilot.

If we place God first in all our circumstances, then we will never be an underdog. There is simply no way that can happen. Why? We are as great a treasure to the Lord as the nation if Isra’el, and God will never stop fighting for us.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:3-5 “… all belong to God, whether Jew or Gentile and we are all partakers of the same divine inheritance through grace. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12-13

So the next time something towers above you, making you quake in fear, let your Heavenly Father deal with it. You’re not an underdog. There is no way you can’t win.

I am going to finish by joining Paul in saying, “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21
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NOTES:
*Please note that I have said God wins, not that David wins, as all victories for Isra’el were won by God and the glory does not belong to any man. David agrees with me. In 2 Samuel 22:1-4 David wrote these words on the day the LORD rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my Saviour;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my saviour,
the one who saves me from violence.
I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and He saved me from my enemies.”

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Not even a human warrior could care for Isra’el as the Lord did. This is a quick list of the battles the Lord won / engineered for Isra’el. Who else compares to this?

  • Crossing the Red Sea – Exodus 14
  • Victory over the Amalekites – Exodus 17:8-16
  • Promise to fight for the people – Exodus 23:27-31 and Deuteronomy 7:7-8
  • Jordan River dry crossing – Joshua 3:15-16
  • Fall of Jericho – Joshua 6:20-21
  • Ai – Joshua 8
  • Amonites – Joshua 10:11
  • North captured for Isra’el – Joshua 11:16-20, especially verse 23
  • South captured for Isra’el – Joshua 10:40-42
  • Deborah and Barak – Judges 4:14-15
  • Gideon – Judges 7
  • Samson – Judges 16, especially verse 30
  • Ark of the Covenant against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 7
  • Jonathan against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 14
  • David and Eleazar son of Dodai – 2 Samuel 23
  • David and Shammah son of Agee – 2 Samuel 23

Battles Won for Judah

  • God defeated the army of Jeroboam as Abijah and his army trusted God. 2 Chronicles 13
  • God saves King Jehoshaphat in battle – 2 Chronicles 18
  • Battle with Ammon, Moab, and some of the Meunites – 2 Chronicles 20
  • God helped Uzziah in his wars against the Philistines – 2 Chronicles 26
  • Rescue of Judah under the leadership of the righteous King Hezekiah – 2 Kings 19

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Mercy In The Middle

40297092_m“I am praying to You because I know You will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
Show me Your unfailing love in wonderful ways.” Psalm 17:6-7a

There has been a great deal of upheaval in my life which has resulted in a lot of hurt, and grief. In the middle of this, it’s been hard to trust God. At times I have clung to Him, and at other times, I have been very angry that He allowed me to get into a situation where I would be so badly damaged and disillusioned. I completely went to pieces one night, and God finally got through to me that He was still there, I just hadn’t been able to reach Him as I have been stuck in my own pain and couldn’t see straight.

I felt awful. It is the same as when you accuse someone of something they haven’t done, then find out you were wrong. What could I do but apologise? The greatest thing was He responded with, “That’s what I am here for.” No offence was taken. He could handle the assault on His character, and it didn’t in any way harm our relationship. That’s pretty special. I don’t know too many people who could do that so easily, and with so much love.

When I taught Sunday School, we sang songs with the children about God’s love being so high you can’t climb over it, so low you can’t climb under it and so wide you can’t get around it. They were action songs, and they were a lot of fun. The basic message was, you just can’t dent God enough for Him to stop loving you. What I have learned in the meantime is, I cannot comprehend just how great God’s love for me is. I get little glimpses every so often that blow my mind, but the full size, is way beyond me. I know He treats me better than any person has or will and that is as much as I can get my head around for now.

The trouble with really understanding where we stand with God is, He is so different. I know there are lots of Scriptures that teach us about how He thinks and feels about us, but it is not the same as seeing a smile on His face when He sees me, or giving me a hug when I need it. It takes longer for me to learn to trust Him, and believe how special I am because of that. I like some evidence, and due to His patience and great mercy over the years, He has given me some when needed. It never seems to be enough though, when I am walking through the blackest periods of my life.

One of the songs which has helped me is written by Amy Grant and talks about a little girl, who is now grown up, who was sexually abused. The lyrics are:
“Ask me how I know there’s a God up in the heavens,
Where did He go, in the middle of her shame?
Ask me how I know there’s a God up in the heavens,
She says His mercy is bringing her life againshe’s coming to life again.
He’s in the middle of her pain,
In the middle of her shame He’s in the middle,
Mercy in the middle”

It’s that one line I cling to. “Mercy in the middle.” That is what He gives me. No lectures when things go wrong, no screaming or blaming, no control and manipulation. Love and mercy. It’s so precious to me. It is one hundred percent acceptance, and no one has given me that before.

There are many Scriptures that talk of grace, but I have never understood what it means. So many of the words in the Bible I skim over, and never go looking for the real meaning, but last weekend I looked up grace, and the meaning touched me. Grace is so simple. I’ve heard it called “God’s riches at Christ’s expense” and know all about how it relates to God forgiving our sins etc. Grace is just simply love. Loving-kindness and goodwill. That is how God treats us, with love, and kindness. He wants the best for us (goodwill), so He gives us the best in how He heals, provides for, and forgives us.

Don’t we all long so much for love? It is there, if we reach out to Him and receive it. For me, it means in the middle of my anger and pain and frustration, God pushed aside the wrong things I thought and said, and was just there for me. We’re loved so much. He won’t leave us, He just doesn’t want to. He is completely absorbed in our care.

I don’t think I will ever understand God’s love, because my human mind is just not built to take in something so wonderful. All I can do is regard Him in awe and express my gratitude. Guaranteed, even with this lesson learnt, at some stage in the future I will get angry and do the wrong thing again. However, every time something goes wrong and the Lord reaches out to me, I slowly get stronger and more secure in His love. It is a process, and a great journey of discovery. I am so grateful He has never given up on me, no matter what.

“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread Your protection over them,
that all who love Your name may be filled with joy.
For You bless the godly, O LORD;
you surround them with Your shield of love.” Psalm 5:11-12


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.