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Last week we were praying, and this story came into my spirit. I would love to share a couple of insights that we prayed through that evening.

A late 19th-century artist's conception of the...
A late 19th-century artist's conception of the Ark of the Covenant, employing a Renaissance cassone for the Ark and cherubim as latter-day Christian angels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim. And they placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.

Uzzah Reaches for the Ark Photo Credit: J. James Tissot

But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the LORD’S outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. (2 Samuel 6:1-8 NASB)

I have always looked at this story as a pretty negative situation in the life of Israel, but this day I saw something brand new (to me) and very exciting.

What caught my eye a few days earlier was this name “Perez-uzzah.” Perez means to break-out or break-through, and of course in context the break-out or break-through meant the death of Uzzah, but when I started thinking about the imagery of the Old Testament, what was the Ark of the Covenant? It was something that contained the presence of the Lord of Hosts.

So what contains the presence of the Lord of Hosts today? Believers! Every blood bought child of God is an Ark of the New Covenant.

As we pressed into this image we saw a few things.

What did the Ark contain, in addition to the presence of the Lord?

There were the Stones written by the very hand of God with His law. Check this out in Ezekiel 36:26

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (NASB)

And in Jeremiah 31:33 He says:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (NASB)

We are the Ark of the New Covenant.

Next it contained some of the Manna – the daily bread – the provision from above.

Next it contained Aaron’s rod that budded. This is the staff of deliverance from our Egyptian captors.

There is way too much to dig into in a short post, but I wanted to share this insight with you, and you can mull over the other parallels.

But here is the big thing. Break-through came when Uzzah reached his hand out and touched the Lord’s Ark. God broke through – broke out of the ark to protect His dwelling place.

As we were praying that day, I saw how our enemy the devil had reached his hand out against my sister, the ark of the Lord, and how my Father would break-through to save, heal, deliver, just as He has done so many times before. [Tweet This]

Today – I want you to hear that if you are a daughter or son of the King of Kings, you are the Ark of the New Covenant, and God is jealous for your safety and protection. Today He will come to your defense. You are the apple of His eye.

Breakthrough is coming!

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt 6:12,14-15)

These are some of the strongest words in all of scripture. How can Jesus make this unequivocal statement? And on such a difficult topic!

Is He really saying that our forgiveness is subject to review on the basis of how we forgive? I must be missing something. Or am I?

Consider this:

Without Christ, our ability to forgive is virtually non-existent. Without Christ, a man cannot ever really forgive, because he does not KNOW forgiveness. Until you know the true freedom that comes when your weight of sin is lifted, you cannot understand what it means to forgive.

Until you see the magnitude of your offence before a Holy God
Until you see the inestimable treasure that was laid down to pay the price for your forgiveness
Until you know how immense your sin was

… you will be hard pressed to reckon others worthy of your forgiveness.

Once you see that your offence was far beyond your ability to repay, then and only then, you may be able to let go of offences against you.

In conclusion, Jesus is not so much stating that if you want to be forgiven you can earn forgiveness by forgiving others, but rather, your ability to forgive others is an indication that you have been forgiven, [Tweet This] that you have been set free and given the ability to forgive.

Without God’s forgiveness, you will never be able to forgive.

Does this make sense?

Thanks for reading today. Tell me what you think.

Ben

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt 6:12)

Just walk away!

I have talked about this a bunch, because my heart beats with the Fathers desire to see relationships be the center of our lives. Today, as I look at this word “forgive” the definition catches me by surprise.

We have all been told “forgive and forget.” This is not a biblical concept. And in fact, as you try to do it, you will find you cannot forget, and so you assume you have not forgiven.

The word here “forgive” is the Greek word ἀφίημι [pronounced ä-fē'-ā-mē] and check out the list of definitions: [highlighting is mine]

1) to send away
     a)to bid going away or depart
          1) of a husband divorcing his wife <--
     b) to send forth, yield up, to expire
     c) to let go, let alone, let be
          1) to disregard
          2) to leave, not to discuss now, (a topic)
               a) of teachers, writers and speakers
          3) to omit, neglect
     d) to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit
     e) to give up, keep no longer
2) to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person
3) to leave, go way from one
     a) in order to go to another place
     b) to depart from any one
     c) to depart from one and leave him to himself so that all mutual claims are abandoned
     d) to desert wrongfully
     e) to go away leaving something behind
     f) to leave one by not taking him as a companion
     g) to leave on dying, leave behind one
     h) to leave so that what is left may remain, leave remaining
     i) abandon, leave destitute

[Above listing is from www.BlueLetterBible.org my favorite resource site for this kind of info. It makes study simple!]

I will keep this simple. Here is how we must treat the offense (not the person.)

  • Divorce yourself from your offense
  • Send it away
  • Neglect the offense (not the offender)
  • Leave the offense – go away in order to go to another place (I love that!)
  • Go, leaving it behind
  • Do not take your offense as a companion
  • Abandon your offense
  • Leave it destitute

If you will treat your offense like this, it will (over time) allow you to treat the offender as a brother again.

You will likely never forget – that is not the way you are made. But you can choose not to carry that ugly baggage with you. Leave it behind, and move to a better place without it. [Tweet This]

More on this tomorrow.

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

Thy Will Be Done (Matt 6:10) Part 1

Can I know the will of God? This is a question I hear in one form or another all the time.

  • A teen trying to decide where to go to college
  • A 20 something trying to decide whether to get into a relationship, or how far to take one. “Is he the one?”
  • A woman choosing to leave a job to take another,
  • A man choosing to leave a job to pursue “full time” Christian work (as if there is any other kind of Christian work.)

There are 3 places in the Bible where we can see the will of God.

Lucas Cranach the Elder - Paradise (cropped)
  1. The first is the Garden of Eden, where things were just the way God intended. There was no sin, but more than that, God, Adam, and Eve were all in right relationship. When Jesus (ok – I am assuming Jesus since He is the one that most often takes human form, but perhaps it was the Father) and the lovely couple goes walking through the garden in the cool of the day. (This is the will of God on earth.)
  2. The glimpses we get of heaven must also be a demonstration of life in the will of God. We get some suggestions of how this will be, and I know there are men and women who have much greater revelation than me about what this will look like. I know one thing. Then I will know as I am known, then I will see Him and I will be like Him because I will see Him as He is. Then this part of me that struggles to keep me bound even after I have been set free, will no longer entangle me, and I will be in right relationship with the Father again. (This is the will of God in heaven.)
  3. Finally, and to my mind, the clearest and fullest look we get of a man living in the will of God is the Man, Christ Jesus. Jesus, the man who knew no sin, but came only to do the will of the Father, is the perfect expression of the will of God. There is much to say about Jesus and His perfect re-presenting of God’s will to us, but for today, all I want to point out is that Jesus was in perfect communion with the Father. His relationship with the Father could not be better. His first priority at all times was His connection with the Father. “I only do what I see the Father do,” “I only say what I hear the Father say.” “I have come to do Thy will.” (This is the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.)

My point today in this first pass at “Thy will be done” is that God’s will for your life is first and foremost about His relationship with you. [Tweet This] The details of what to do, who to date, where to work or go to school will all work out, if you have this ONE THING right. David said it this way in Psalm 27:4

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to meditate in His temple.

This is the will of God for you!

Are you intentional about your relationship with the Lord, or just let it happen?

Today, make some time to walk with the Lord in the cool of the day.

Thanks for reading. In the next days we will look at some other aspects of the phrase “Thy will be done.” Come back again.

Ben

Today’s Saturday special diverts from the red letters a bit to an exhortation from James. This word has had an impact on me this week, and I wanted to share it with you

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)

My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.

As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.

Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.

Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]

The GOOD:

  • Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
  • Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)

The BAD:

  • Bitter Jealousy
  • Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
  • Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)

Bad Wisdom is:

  • Earthly
  • Demonic (Wow)

Bad Wisdom leads to:

  • Disorder
  • EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)

The Character of the GOOD wisdom:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
  • Unwavering
  • Without Hypocrisy
  • Sown in Peace by Peacemakers

So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.

Can you bring wisdom in this way?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

Hallowed is not a word we use much today. We hear a throw back to it in the word Halloween, but there is not much we can learn from our grand October holiday about what Hallowed means.

Well, here's a surprise for you. It is a verb not an adjective! That caught me by surprise. I would have said that it simply meant that God’s name had the characteristic of being Holy, or set apart, but that is not exactly it.

It is more like we are to hallow, or reverence the name of God, but I am still not satisfied with the word reverence, because it has little meaning to us today.

One thing we might be able to understand is that the Name of God must be kept separate from anything that is not holy. This is a bigger deal than just keeping it away from that which is dirty, or ugly, like using His name to curse rather than bless.

You see Holy is not the opposite of evil, it is the opposite of common, or normal, or regular. Let that sink in for a minute. Holy is the opposite of normal. We are to make His name stand so far above normal as to be supernormal (or you could say supernatural.)

Frankly this is why I cringe just a little when folks use OMG so freely. I hate to hear God’s name (or even just a quick reference to it) used in such a common manner, so regular and every day.

The third commandment, which God gave Moses for His people, was “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) I have often said when we are married a wife takes her husband’s name, and so it is when we are born again. We take Christ’s name, Christian. When we live a life that looks nothing like Christ we are taking that name in vain!

Let us, not only in our prayers, and in our words, but by our life Hallow His Name! [Tweet This]

MeWhat can you do today to Hallow His name?

Thanks for reading today. Let’s live it.

Ben

"Holy And Anointed One"  Written by John Barnett

Tim Biscaye writes of his dad Pierre Biscaye:

My dad evidenced similarities to my impressions of OT and the NT God.   The dad I knew growing up was much like the God of justice of the Old Testament. When I erred from the designated way there was punishment.   There were lots of house rules and requirements and he also seemed to 'hole up' a lot a bunch in his office.  Heck, what did he know, he was following what he thought were literal instructions from a Divine God. But as I left the house for Univ and grew older I knew him to be a man of great intellect, curiosity, love of life, readily available and relentless in acts of love and kindness towards me and my kids.   For many of those years, in spite of living apart, delighted when we connect via phone, Skype or email.   He is relational, generous, sensitive and loving.
Heather writes of her dad Bob Mackenzie:
Well my dad was one of the most amazing people I've ever known.
He had a zest for life and a passion for people. He had a big mouth and had a huge presence at any given time, but I've always said he had an even bigger heart. 🙂
He loved the Adirondacks. He spent a lot of summers at Deerfoot and was a lone eagle. When I was old enough, he sent me to Camp Cherith in the Adirondacks (now known as Camp Cedarbrook) which is a sister camp of Deerfoot. At camp or not, we shared a love of the outdoors and especially the Adirondacks. He encouraged me to do the backpacking trips that Camp Cherith offered; I went and I was hooked. We would reminisce about our trips.

He bought me my first knife when I was 7 or 8; I proudly showed him the whistle I whittled. He taught me the importance of hunting and respecting animals and was so proud at everything I've ever shot.

We had a strong relationship on so many levels, but our shared passion for the adks and the outdoors made our relationship something very special that I shared with him and was very proud of.

I was blessed with a godly, generous, incredible father. But also with a father who instilled in me a passion for the outdoors- a trait I value and am very thankful for.

I still go backpacking up north and think of him every time I climb an adk high peak on my journey to complete all 46.

I hope he knew how amazing he was.

June Jones writes of her dad, Wally:
When my dad was in that dreadful facility in Wyckoff, his good aids would always ask me, "Was you dad always such a gentleman" and I said, YES!". Until my dad was in that facility, I had never heard him use any kind of questionable language. He was always quick to apologize. I still miss him.
Marissa Ekback writes of her dad
My dad wasn't a believer while I was growing up and late in life he came to Jesus through a 12-step program. I think my dad was an example of wanting to help your kids and never giving up in them.
Pam Osterhus writes about her dad Jim Lewis:
I feel like I should say something about my Dad, Jim Lewis. My Mom died when I was 7 and my sister was 4 and my Dad was both parents for us for a few years. He made time with his daughters of high importance and made sure God and an already established family was important to any new woman in his life. He is my biggest cheerleader. When I was a runner at a track meet, I didn't even know my Dad was there until I heard his voice cheering while I was running. Always cheering me on and encouraging me. He's always in my corner and now writes weekly letters cheering my kids on for their academic and sports accomplishments, with Bible verses to encourage them in their stages of life. When I was in college he wrote me letters a few times a week. They were stream of consciousness letters often and my friends would look forward to reading them with me, but what a gift of written communication and encouragement before the days of texts and emails and cellphones. I knew he thought about me and prayed for me. He loves the Lord and if I could say he had a hobby it would be witnessing at Fairs. He loves to tell others about the Lord. I guess one of the most important things I learned from my Dad was the love of a father and it is easy for me to see God as my Loving Father because of my Dad.
Eva Benevento writes of her dad:
My dad... He was an orphan at age 2, experienced a world war as a teen and ended up spending 7 years in a refugee camp where he met my mom and I was born. As a 25 year old, he emigrated to the U.S. with a wife, 2 children, 2 suitcases and 1 trunk containing all of their worldly goods. No money, no relatives, no friends, no contacts. It is a story of strong character, integrity, hard work ethics, and most of all, the grace of Almighty God. Children adored him, employers valued him, his family and friends loved him. In his last 30 years, he conducted bible studies for fellow immigrants who had difficulty with English bibles. He is now with Jesus along with his wife of 60 years enjoying the presence of the God he loved. We who remain miss him.
Lauren writes of her dad:

My Daddy is one of my best friends, my go-to roadtrip buddy, and can and will happily fix just about anything! Here's a story that exemplifies Daddy: During my freshman year of college, my laptop broke. I went home that weekend and left the laptop for Dad to take to a repair shop that week, and a friend who was coming to visit the school the next weekend would bring it back to me then. Dad had just bought himself a new laptop, and let me borrow it for the week. Mine ended up being a quick fix, so he had it back by Tuesday morning, and rather than just sending it out with my friend on Friday, he decided to bring it back to me right then. So he drove two hours out to school, getting there right as I was getting out of class... only my Mom had told him my class times wrong, so he thought I was just starting a class, and thinking he'd just missed me, left the laptop with my RD and drove the two hours home without even seeing me! What I learned (and still learn) from Daddy is "Love is a verb."

Larry Carroll writes of his dad Larry Carroll Sr.:
My dad taught me First Corinthians 2:4,5 which says, "My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of men's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
My dad also demonstrated the value of associating with and respecting godly men and women, from whom I learned much about walking by faith and not by sight.

My Dad Robert Nelson:
So my dad really never had any interest in sports of any kind. He loved to read, and he loved music. I was always playing some sport or another in my school days. He would come to my games and cheer me on, even though he had no idea what was going on. I realize that was quite a sacrifice for him.
God's word was a high priority for my dad. I remember sitting at the dinner table and playing a game with him. We would try to find the most obscure passage in the Bible that we could find, and he could tell us right where it was in a verse or two.
He loved to teach Bible studies and Sunday School classes.
When we posted my dad's picture a couple of days ago, some folks had some great things to say about my dad too.
Tim Biscaye said: Your dad was a good man. Required and merited being listened to. Extremely smart with a broad understanding of the world. Similar to my dad. I hope you are well.
Fred Beveridge said: Love the pic of your Dad, Ben. He was a constant inspiration to me--a gentleman, a scholar, a passionate pursuer of God. He was gentle, dignified, "cool" … encouraging, faithful, and loving. His face was the face I looked at for unspoken encouragement two rows back to my left during countless sermons at PBC. I will love him forever.
Thanks everybody for your input. It has been wonderful reading these great memories. I hope you have fun reading them and sharing them with your family too.
Thanks for reading today.
Ben

Our Father (Matt 6:9)

We start this look at the Lord’s Prayer with one simple word
Our
It is not “My Father” but “Our Father
The Lord Jesus is completely committed to community. [Tweet this] One of the things that so clearly demonstrates this fact is the small phrase “one another.” Below I have listed the one anothers of the New Testament. I would ask you to read through them. You don’t have to do it right now, because there are a lot of them. But some time in the next 24 hours, sit down and read these verses.
You might want to print them out and put them in your Bible. If the Bible says something once, you should pay attention, if it says it twice, that should make your ears perk up. Here are 36 verses, with the phrase “one another” 39 times, and the word love in fully 25 times as well.
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John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.
Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
2 John 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
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OK, how could we possibly obey even a portion of these 39 instructions if we are not sharing our lives with others?
I am not talking about going to Church on Sunday either. I am talking about living in community. Getting together with others. Sharing life, hopes, dreams, fears, successes and failures.
Each of us in Christ needs to be in relationships with those we can walk through life with. Sometimes pulling them along, and sometimes being dragged forward ourselves. No Christian has arrived at the place where he or she no longer needs the body. Christian life does not work the way it is supposed to when we walk alone.
Believe me, I have messed this up more than once in my life. Many of you reading this can probably point out specific times you have seem me do it. I have allowed rigid doctrines or personal preferences or even hurts or slights to separate me from people God was using to speak into my life.
What about you? Are there relationships you need to fix, people you have hurt, or left, who you should reconcile with or you need to forgive? I want to encourage you to take some action on that today. Don’t wait another day!
Is there one of the "one another"s that you would like to see more of in the Church?
Let's talk about it.
Thanks for reading today! I appreciate you.
 Ben

Hi all,

My Dad, Robert Nelson

I am trying to collect short (one paragraph - 50- 100 words) stories about good fathers. I would love to include pictures too.

I would love to have a picture to go along with the story. I will publish these stories in a blog post coming up in the middle of next week - So I can take input all week long.

I am looking for good stuff and will post positive stories. If thinking about your dad hurts, i would be glad to pray with you for that, but it would be better to get a private message for that.

Here is what you do:

1) Write a one paragraph story that answers the question. You can do it here or on face book. Or email it to me with the link at the bottom of this page.
2) Link to a picture of your dad on facebook or twitter (or anywhere else on the internet)
3) Get your friends to participate by posting this on Facebook or Twitter [Tweet Invite]

Thanks much for your help!

Ben

 

Today (Sunday, July 15, 2012) I preached on 1 Sam 17. Here was what I intended to say. [chuckle] Some time early this week, the audio will be available. [Here's a link to the audio version] It went really well, and since I had this all prepared, and some folks like to read; I figured I would put it out here.
If you are not a reader, I suggest you wait for the audio later this week.
Note – the blue text below is the actual text of the NIV copied from BibleGateway.com.
We are going to look at possibly the best-known Bible story in the world today. The Story of David and Goliath is used as a metaphor everywhere, in sports, in business, in politics.  Everyone knows this story. I don’t want to just tell you the story today though, I would love to actually read most of it to you. For most people it is a 30 second sound bite story. Little guy kills big guy, but today I want to get down to some of the how and why he was able to do it.
The superhero thing comes from the fact that I was looking for a word that we would all understand that meant Killer of Champions. And this worked nicely since we probably all know what a superhero does – he solves BIG problems.
The first 4 verses of the text set the scene – in short the Philistines were on one mountain, the Israelites on anther, and there was a valley in between.
A champion named Goliath, [Boooo] who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.
That’s 9’6” – add boots and a helmet and you have the height of this cross, (a 10 ft cross) and his shoulders – probably about like this cross bar as well.
 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels[b];
His armor weighed about as much as David, fully clothed and soaking wet.
 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.[c] 
His spear head weighs (guys) about as much as 2 sledge hammers (ladies) or a medium sized turkey! (I know that was a bit sexist – sorry folks)
His shield bearer went ahead of him.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul?
Everybody say “Servants of Saul” (that’s important write that down)
Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel!
Everybody say “The Army’s of Israel” (that’s important write that down)
 Give me a man and let us fight each other. ” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
Everybody say “dismayed and terrified”
12 Now David [Cheer!] was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah.
Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David [Cheer!]  was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David [Cheer!] went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
Forty days! Can anybody think of any other 40 periods in the Bible?
Noah’s Rain
Death of Jacob
Moses spent 40 days fasting waiting on the Lord for the law – twice!
Spies spent 40 days checking the wilderness, and Israel had to spend 40 years wandering – one for each of those days.
Elijah traveled 40 days and nights on one meal to get to Horeb, to hear from the Lord.
Jesus Fasted 40 days and nights
40 days is always a time of testing
17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah[d] of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance[e] from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”
20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 
Sometimes when you think you need a superhero, what you really need is a servant!
This is the starting point with God. No man can have a relationship with the Lord until first he has bowed his knee and become the servant of God.
The apostles had this identity. There is a word – Doulos in the Greek, and many of the writers of the New Testament called themselves by this name.
Ok –back to the story
23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath,stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.
25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”
26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine
Everybody say Uncircumcised Philistine – we will be back to this in a minute.
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”
28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep.
Sometimes when you think you need a Superhero what you really need is a Shepherd
A shepherd is the most despised of men. They are thought to be uneducated, unsophisticated outcasts. So it is today. Pastors and full time ministers of every sort are mocked at every turn by our society.
However, when you face a lion or a bear, or a giant you need a shepherd on your side.
You are not intended to walk though this life alone. God has put you in a body in your area, and has put people in your life. We have a good shepherd here, Chet, who cares for this flock well. I stand with a group of men, who love the Lord deeply, and I have often seen them weep over your souls, and your needs. 
When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 
The original indicates this means he was coming up – One thing about our enemy is that left unchecked, he will continue to take ground
42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals! ”
I want to take a few minutes here and talk to you about The Power of Words
Paul says in Eph 6:16 - In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
I want you to understand that he best weapons satan has are his words. I am not talking about some fuzzy spiritual warfare theory here, I am talking about the real world. How did satan nutralize the entire Israeli army in our story. Some big guy stood up and started distorting the truth. Let’s go back to those important things we wrote down before.
Servants of Saul
The Army’s of Israel
Goliath puts a spin on the truth that distorts it just enough to cause terror, or total discouragement.
But David knows how to talk as well. When confronted with a lie, or half-truth David recites the actual truth.  And in his words we will find the next characteristic of a superhero.
Remember what he said above
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
In this one phrase we learn David’s main superpower –he calls Goliath an uncircumcised philistine. What’s the point you ask?
Circumcision is a sign of covenant. David knows that he has a covenant with the Lord God – the Ruler of the Angel Armies, The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And this giant does not have any such ally.
Sometimes when you think you need a superhero, what you really need is a Son
David knows he is a son. He has a covenant with God, and he knows this from experience as a shepherd. He walked in his son-ship every day.
Let’s get back to the story – pay attention to the way David talks to this giant.
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
In my mind – that is the best part of the story right there. David is not intimidated by the words of the enemy. He goes on the attack – and set’s the proper groundwork for this battle.
It is not between a giant and a little boy, it is between a giant and the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Eternal God of the Universe. And suddenly the Giant doesn’t look so big. [Tweet This]
I love that David who is standing there with a shepherds crook, a sling and a few small stones has just told the giant he was going to cut off his head.
David – get real – you don’t have anything sharp in your possession – You can’t even reach his head –could you please be a little more realistic?
I love this – let read on.
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 
Do you see this – David is running toward his enemy!
49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. [Big Cheer]
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.
Sometimes when you think you need a superhero, what you really need is a Savior
When David cuts off the giant’s head, he demonstrates his total mastery of this battle. This day David is a savior to Israel.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath[f] and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.
54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.
There it is – no big surprise today, David killed Goliath. But how does it help today.
How do you know a giant when you see one?
Well – know for a fact that there are giants in the land. They may not have the name Goliath, but perhaps you have seen giants around. You know how you can recognize a giant. When you hear it talk you get afraid.
Maybe you have run into a giant – Unemployment, Recession, Cancer, Fibro Mialga,
They use words like Hopeless, Incurable, bankruptcy, foreclosure.
We here these words, and we loose hope. We sit on the hillside and sharpen our swords, polish our shields and shake in our boots.
You say – Ben, you don’t understand. This is not a storybook, this is real life. How do I deal with this HUGE stuff in real life?
Let me tell you something. Aa long as you treat the Bible – even the story of David and Goliath like a story book, rather than a testimony of God showing up on the behalf of his own people, you will be stuck on the hill side shaking in your boots.
We must run to the battle – we must take the promises of God to His New Testament Children and Run to the battle.
Big brave words from the pulpit, but I could not be more serious. The enemy wants to shake us to our core, and rob us of any impact we might have in the world, and he uses his words to shut us down.
We must rise up and fight this battle.
I want you to see how each of these 4 characteristics is in Jesus life, and then I want you to hear a call for you to walk in this same anointing.
Jesus came as a servant (Phil 2:5) He is the Good/Great Shepherd, He is the very Son of very God, and clearly He came to save us from our sin.
You need to:
Be a servant!(it take your eyes off the fear for your own life.)
Be a shepherd(get in a relationship with someone you can help and you will see God show up for you in the small ways)
Realize you are a son(don’t see your self as an outcast, but as a son or daughter of the King)

Understand that you have Savior DNA– ok – you are not The Savior but you are hooked up to The Savior and His name is JESUS.


Thanks for reading today. Keep your eyes open for the audio copy - it's better!


Ben

 

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