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You, LORD God, are my protector. Rescue me and keep me safe from all who chase me. Psalm 7:1 (CEV)

He’d been promised the throne. He was a hero in some people’s eyes as the result of killing a giant. He was a mighty warrior and a man of faith and courage. He was apparently good looking, personable and wise. Who wouldn’t like David? He was the kind of guy you could bring home to meet your parents. He was the kind of guy you hope your daughters bring home to meet you!

But with all of the things he had going for him, David had enemies as well. Plenty of enemies. That’s the way it is in life. No matter how hard you try to do the right things, no matter how close you live to God, regardless of how many battles you’ve won and games you’ve pulled out as the clock struck zero, there will be some who find fault in you.

For David, one of the worst ones was a guy namedCush. We don’t have a great deal of information onCushbut we know he was one of King Saul’s closest allies and we know he didn’t like David one bit. According to historyCushwent before the King with all sorts of lies about David. Lies that were considered treason and worthy of death. Those closest to the throne were more believable. If ushsaid it about David it was most likely true, one would think.

We can all relate to David at one time or another. All of us have those people in our lives who seem to be intent on pointing out every flaw, contradicting every idea, showing us ‘in christian love’ the error of our ways. Sad to say, sometimes those who are our biggest critics are those who proclaim to be closest to God.

The danger comes when we start listening to the accusations. Sometimes those accusations come from people, sometimes those accusations come from the great accuser himself, Satan or one of his slimy cohorts. Revelation 12:10 tells us that he goes before the throne every day to accuse us of something.

There was someone else who, like David, was wrongfully accused. Someone who had enemies watching his every move, judging his every word, trying to contradict or downplay everything he did. His name was Jesus.

David and Jesus both learned a secret each of us needs to learn when the accusers come our way. Two simple steps (simple doesn’t always mean easy) to thwart the thorns in our side.

First of all, know where to go for shelter from the attacks. Both Jesus and David knew the truth about themselves, and that they could go to God, their rock, for safety. He would never fail them.

Secondly, they both knew who they were. David knew he wasn’t perfect, but he knew he was loved by the God of the universe and that God had never failed him. Jesus knew that he was perfect, he was God and that this time of trial was for a short time and would lead to victory. Not only that, but when the great accuser goes before the throne to accuse us Jesus is right there defending us.

The best way to defeat the thorns in your side is to know who you are (a child of God) and know who fights for you (Jesus of Nazareth).

PRAYER: Father God, Jehovah my confidence and deliverer. Thank you for protecting me from those intent on destroying me. When I’m under attack help me to trust in your deliverance. Thank you for Jesus who stands before you daily to defend be because of his great love and forgiveness. Amen.

But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. Philippians 2:7 (NCV)

Christmas has long been touted as a holiday when we think of love. We give gifts. We travel across the country (or sometimes the world) to spend time with those we love, all in the name of Christmas. Churches hold extra services, relationships are restored, new relationships are built, all in the name of Christmas!

The ultimate example of love comes in the form of grace. Grace is, and always has been, God reaching out to man. When Adam and Eve sinned, who was it that sought to restore the broken relationship? God, God reaching out to man.

When Moses killed the Egyptian and ran for his life, wandering for forty years when God had chosen him to lead his people out ofEgypt. Who came to restore the broken relationship and restore hope? God did. God reaching out to man.

When David had an affair and spent months in agony and cover up. Who reached out to restore the relationship and offer forgiveness? God did. God reaching out to man.

On a small, dark hillside inPalestine. When religion had a stranglehold on worship. Who came to restore the path to God and eternal life? God did. God reaching out to man in the form of a little baby.

Grace has always been about relationship, not rules. What better example of a relationship than that of a young couple gathered around the bedside of their first-born child. The wonder. The awe. The realization that this little life would change their lives forever and produce a legacy, a heritage that would go on for years.

That’s grace. God reaching down to man in a way that would build a relationship with the people he desires to reach most of all.

That’s grace. God offering forgiveness to you and I when we don’t deserve it. When we’ve rebelled, gone our own way, refused to forgive others, abused others with our fists or our words.

This Christmas, amidst the glitter and brightly colored packages. While you sit at your meals or play your new games. Spend some time with the babe in the manger. The one who gave up the glories of heaven to endure the pain of the cross on your behalf. You can do nothing to deserve this gift. It’s freely given because God loves you and wants to forgive you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, on this Christmas day, I thank you for coming to earth. So often we get so caught up in celebrating the holiday we forget to worship the reason. All praise and honor and worship is due you. Alleluia. Amen.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NLT)

Trust: To place confidence in and rely on the truthfulness of something or someone.

Trust has to earned, usually over the passage of time. The enemy wants you to believe that during those times when God is silent it’s because he is either unable to provide the answers you need or is able but simply doesn’t care. God’s silence leaves us feeling abandoned and questioning why? Why, when he promises to be with us always, does he leave us when we need him the most? Why, when we seek his power to handle life’s most difficult problems does he seem distant or non-existent?

In a word, the lie the enemy wants us to believe is that God’s silence indicates Apathy. The lie comes to us in different ways. Religion tells us that God leaves us because we have sinned. As sinners before an angry God he refuses to listen to us. In order to offer us some relief religion gives us a list of rule and regulations, dos and don’ts that will hopefully appease him.

The humanist version of the lie is that IF there is a God he is only available to those who help themselves. This version of the lie puts the onus of our success emotionally, physically and spiritually on us. We fail to achieve. We try harder and fail more miserably. Once again the negative spiral continues. The deeper it goes the more desperate we feel.

The version of the God is apathetic lie given to us by society is that we are crazy for even seeking him. He’s dead after all. The Bible is nothing but a meaningless set of stories and outdated writings. Society tells us that science and education are the answer, not a distant concept of some supreme being.

The second aspect of trust is that it is earned over a period of time. Take a look a few other people who trusted God when he seemed absent, distant or apathetic.

  • Noah built the ark and warned a people that had never seen rain that it would soon rain and a flood would come. Finally, God’s promised judgment took place, but only after Noah and his family suffered verbal abuse for their actions.
  • Abraham was promised a son and yet that son didn’t come until he was long after child-bearing age. When the son finally came, God called on him to execute this ‘son of promise’.
  • Joseph waited for God’s promise to deliver the Israelites fromEgypt. He never got to see the fulfillment of God’s promise, yet he never lost hope.
  • David was anointed king but was subjected to humiliation, verbal and physical attack and attempted murder for years until he was finally able to ascend the throne.
  • Job lost his family, his money and his health. He was maligned by alleged friends and his wife. Yet even though God eventually restored him to health and gave him more wealth than he had before, no explanation was given for the struggles he endured.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us all that many have gone through life enduring trials that seem insurmountable. They lived holy lives of faith and trust yet never saw God’s promises fulfilled in their life times. Our human nature leads us to think that God’s promise of blessing will happen in our lifetime, but the real blessing comes after we leave this earthly shell we call a body.

The Truth Statement in the battle for trust is: Trust in God allows us to live at peace in present difficulties with hope built on the future.

PRAYER: Father God, during the times of darkness and struggle I sometimes lose sight of the fact that you never promised my life here would be easy. During the times you seem distant keep me from listening to the lies of the enemy. Empower me with your Spirit to trust you regardless of earthly struggle. Amen.

[From the series: “Lies that Keep Us from Loving Ourselves”

Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. Ruth 4:16-17 (NLT)

She was Ruth. She was just your normal widow and peasant woman. There was nothing special about her other than the fact that she was a foreigner and a hard worker. Nothing about her would attract someone’s attention to her at all.

He was Boaz.  A young, hardworking farmer who was well-respected by men and committed to the God of Israel. But there was one other quality about Boaz. He had a heart for people. His success hadn’t made him forget his God or people.

One day Boaz noticed Ruth gleaning in his field. Gleaners were women who followed after the harvesters to gather what little grains of wheat were left. Often this was the only food they had. On a good day they may even find enough to sell for a few extra coins to cover other expenses.

Moved to compassion for the young woman Boaz instructed the harvesters to leave a little extra for the young woman. He warned them not to harass here, a common occurrence in other fields.

Boaz had plenty of opportunities to push Ruth away. He could have viewed her as any other foreigner and widow and ignored her completely. She wasn’t like him after all. He could have had her stoned the night she slipped into his tent to sleep at his feet. He had a reputation to protect. He could have refused to spend the funds needed to ‘purchase the right’ to marry her.

No one would have blamed Boaz for any of the above actions. He had life made. He was young. He was rich. He was very well respected. But none of that mattered. He saw a person in need and did whatever he could to meet those needs.

Want to read a good love story? Read the book of Ruth. Eventually Ruth and Boaz become husband and wife. To this union was given a son and that’s the best part of this story. The son born to this couple was the grandfather of David, the greatest, most powerful King in Israel’s history, and the man after God’s own heart.

Even more important than David was another child born into this family line. His name was Jesus and he was born to take away the sins of the world. One small act of kindness led to my salvation.  

We never know where our small acts of kindness may lead. God may call us to do something relatively simple or something that will yank us out of our comfort zone. Whatever he calls you to do, no matter how simple can be used greatly by him. Reach out to those in need. Be willing to take risks. Go the extra mile in showing God’s love. You never know where it may lead!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I thank you for the story of Boaz and Ruth and how it shows me that my small acts of kindness can have eternal rewards. I ask that you would help me today to see someone who needs your touch. Then give me the courage and wisdom to reach out to them for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NLT)

Some of the toughest choices father’s make are in regards to their children. We, especially as men, grow up with dreams. We play games in which we always want to come out the winner. As we grow older, reality sets in. Sometimes it sets in hard. We can’t keep rewinding the game clock until the ball swishes through the basket or goes into the empty net or splits the uprights.

It’s no wonder then, that when our son(s) come along the dreams start over again. No offense against the women of our world. They have accomplished great things, fantastic things. Even so, there’s something special about the bond between a man and his son, just as there is between a woman and her daughter. Gender doesn’t really matter. Parents grow up with the hope that their children will somehow attain all they had hoped to attain when they were kids. But sometimes life deals cruel blows.

It’s always been that way really. Abraham had the tough decision to send Ishmael and his mother into the wilderness. Later he had to lay his son of promise, Isaac, on an altar. Only the last minute call of an angel and rustling of a ram in the thicket saved Isaac from being offered up as a sacrifice.

David had the tough choice of going to war against his son, Absalom. Even though he pled for the safe return of his son, the young rebel was killed in battle.

But perhaps the toughest test of love came from God himself. From the day he decided to create this world we live on he longed for relationship. He created beauty from trees and flowers, majesty from mountains and valleys, power from weather and the seas and the wonder of life from innumerable life forms, both seen and unseen.

All that he created gave him great joy. He looked and saw it was good. But it lacked the one thing he longed for above all else. It lacked relationship. So God created mankind to bring him relationship the relationship he’d always wanted. But mankind failed. There was only one thing Father God could do to restore that relationship. It was the hardest thing any of us parents would be called upon to do. He had to give up his only son.

He looked down through the ages and saw the pain his son would suffer. He saw the guilt that would be placed on his shoulders. He saw the physical and emotional abuse that would be executed on his innocent son so that my sins could be forgiven. He watched him die on a tree so I could live forever.

That’s love. That’s tough love. Tough love says I’ll do whatever it takes. Tough love says I’ll give up whatever I need to get the relationship I want to have with you. That’s what God is saying to each of us. He gave all he had so he could have a relationship with you. All he asks in return is for your love through obedience to his word.

PRAYER: Father God, as a parent I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to give up a son so others could live. Especially when the ones who benefit have nothing to give in return. I have nothing to offer you in thanks for your salvation. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for sending Jesus so I can have a relationship with you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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May 2022
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