2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Is it the end or just the beginning?

Today is the 31st of December of 2014. Today is New Year’s Eve of 2015. Is today the end or just the beginning?

Did you finish 2014 strong? Do you know what you want to change or improve upon? Do you know where you missed the mark? Do you realize the impact you have made on the world around you? Do you know what things you should keep doing? Do you achieve your goals for the year?

Are you preparing? Are you getting prepared for a new beginning with 2015 just around the corner? Do you have a list of things to consider? Do you have a list of things you want to accomplish? Are you setting new goals for the coming year? Are they realistic? What will 2015 have in store for you?

So what is today for you? Is it the end? Is it a new beginning?

This morning’s reading starts at an interesting crossroads too. Is it the end of Jesus’ ministry or is it just the beginning of what is yet to come? We see people trying to make things happen but unable to do so. We see Jesus make a statement which opens the door for them to move forward in their plans to find Him guilty and put to death. We know the rest of the story, but today’s reading from Mark finishes here…

Jesus before the Council

(Matthew 26.57-68; Luke 22.54, 55, 63-71; John 18.13, 14, 19-24)

53Then Jesus was taken to the High Priest’s house, where all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the Law were gathering. 54Peter followed from a distance and went into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house. There he sat down with the guards, keeping himself warm by the fire. 55The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any. 56Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree. 57Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus: 58“We heard him say, ‘I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.’”
59Not even they, however, could make their stories agree. 60The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus, “Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?” 61But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word. Again the High Priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?” 62“I am,” answered Jesus, “and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!” 63The High Priest tore his robes and said, “We don’t need any more witnesses! 64You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?”
They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death. 65Some of them began to spit on Jesus, and they blindfolded him and hit him. “Guess who hit you!” they said. And the guards took him and slapped him. — from Mark 14

Perspective is what let’s us know if it is the end or just a new beginning. Perspective is a point of view, so where are you seeing this from? They thought it was His end. He knew it was a new beginning! As we look at today, what is today for you? Are you wrapping things up? Are you getting ready for what is yet to come?

This past year was incredible for  me. It’s been a year of change, not only with it being my first full year at the new company, but also in the things that my children have chosen to do. It’s also a year of preparation as God has positioned me for 2015 to step in and step up not only at work, but also with church and with Hope Alliance for Kids. God’s plans are better than my plans! God’s plans are bigger than my plans! His plans are for good! His plans are to give me a hope and a future! So as 2014 comes to an end, I am preparing for what God has for me in 2015! Greater things are yet to come here! Let’s not try to do it all in our own power, but let’s do it with the power of the Spirit that is within us! The Spirit given to us by God! Let’s walk in faith believing and trusting God at His word!

Today’s reading continues into Galatians…

Law or Faith

1You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross! 2Tell me this one thing: did you receive God’s Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it? 3How can you be so foolish! You began by God’s Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power? 4Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! 5Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it? 6Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.”
7You should realize, then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith. 8The scripture predicted that God would put the Gentiles right with himself through faith. And so the scripture announced the Good News to Abraham: “Through you God will bless all people.” 9Abraham believed and was blessed; so all who believe are blessed as he was. 10Those who depend on obeying the Law live under a curse. For the scripture says, “Whoever does not always obey everything that is written in the book of the Law is under God’s curse!” 11Now, it is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.” 12But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, as the scripture says, “Whoever does everything the Law requires will live.” 13But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God’s curse.”
14Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God. — from Galatians 3

So let’s build our faith this coming year! Let’s become righteous oaks that will stand the tests of time! Let’s become pillars of righteousness for God! Let’s allow our faith to grow and the Spirit received from God to shine in and through us! Are you still breathing? Then He’s not done with you yet either! So let’s learn from the past and prepare for what is yet to come! Lean not on your own understanding, but put your trust in God! Don’t try to go it alone, God’s plan is that we will depend on one another! Lean on Him if you aren’t sure what to do! Ask Him for wisdom and He will give it to you without finding fault.

If today is an ending or today is a beginning, let’s allow the joy of the Lord be our strength! Let’s finish strong! Let’s prepare for a new beginning! And let’s trust and see all that God will do in and through us!

The Happiness of a Good Person

1Praise the Lord! Happy is the person who honors the Lord, who takes pleasure in obeying his commands. 2The good man’s children will be powerful in the land; is descendants will be blessed. 3His family will be wealthy and rich, and he will be prosperous forever. 4Light shines in the darkness for good people, for those who are merciful, kind, and just. 5Happy is the person who is generous with his loans, who runs his business honestly. 6A good person will never fail; he will always be remembered. 7He is not afraid of receiving bad news; his faith is strong, and he trusts in the Lord. 8He is not worried or afraid; he is certain to see his enemies defeated. 9He gives generously to the needy, and his kindness never fails; he will be powerful and respected. 10The wicked see this and are angry; they glare in hate and disappear; their hopes are gone forever.

— from Psalm 112

Consider your response…

Did you see what just happened? What was your first instinct? What was your first response? What it a good one? Was it the right one? What did you create or cause? Could you have responded differently? What was your intention by doing such a thing? Why did you respond in such a way? How could you have responded differently? What is the goal or intended result from such a response? Consider your response…

This morning’s reading begins with quite the encounter and quite the response…

The Arrest of Jesus

(Matthew 26.47-56; Luke 22.47-53; John 18.3-12)

43Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders. 44The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him and take him away under guard.” 45As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” and kissed him. 46So they arrested Jesus and held him tight. 47But one of those standing there drew his sword and struck at the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. 48Then Jesus spoke up and said to them, “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? 49Day after day I was with you teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true.” 50Then all the disciples left him and ran away. 51A certain young man, dressed only in a linen cloth, was following Jesus. They tried to arrest him, 52but he ran away naked, leaving the cloth behind. — from Mark 14

In another version of this story we hear Jesus speak to His disciples and heal the man’s ear…

50And one of them struck the High Priest’s slave and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus said, “Enough of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him. — from Luke 22

Jesus wasn’t surprised! Jesus knew the plan! We see his correction for trying to resolve it in human power…

52“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “All who take the sword will die by the sword. 53Don’t you know that I could call on my Father for help, and at once he would send me more than twelve armies of angels? 54But in that case, how could the Scriptures come true which say that this is what must happen?” — from Matthew 26

So today before we respond or over react, let’s turn to Jesus for wisdom and discernment. Let’s not be just pointing out problems, but rather let’s be pointing to solutions! Jesus is the answer! Jesus is the solution! And when we get that part right even if the only thing that we have is Jesus, we have all that we need!

Don’t allow fear to cause you to act improperly or to cower or step back from God’s calling on your life! As we continue to read from today’s reading, we see how Paul confronts this behavior…

Paul and the Other Apostles

1Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure. 3My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised, 4although some wanted it done. Pretending to be believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us, 5but in order to keep the truth of the gospel safe for you, we did not give in to them for a minute. 6But those who seemed to be the leaders—I say this because it makes no difference to me what they were; God does not judge by outward appearances—those leaders, I say, made no new suggestions to me. 7On the contrary, they saw that God had given me the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the task of preaching the gospel to the Jews. 8For by God’s power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews. 9James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do.

Paul Rebukes Peter at Antioch

11But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. 12Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. 13The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jews and Gentiles Are Saved by Faith

15Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” as they are called. 16 Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires. 17If, then, as we try to be put right with God by our union with Christ, we are found to be sinners, as much as the Gentiles are—does this mean that Christ is serving the cause of sin? By no means! 18If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law. 19So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead—killed by the Law itself—in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, 20so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. 21I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!

— from Galatians 2

So as I said Jesus is the answer! No matter what comes before you Jesus can help you to get over it, thru it, or around it! Let’s be transformed so that it is no longer we that lives, but God that lives in us!

If we consider Newton’s 3rd Law, and how that aligns to God’s plans. This past weekend the importance of sincerity over authenticity came up. We are to be sincere over authentic! It’s a matter of the heart! Once we have our heart in the right spot, our responses are sincere! Let’s check out Romans 12 to review this a bit further…

9Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. 10Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another.

So we need to get our hearts in alignment with God! We need to make sure that we have it set right otherwise our responses won’t be sincere! We don’t want people to think we are phony but if our hearts aren’t in the right position, that is exactly what we are doing! So let’s make sure that we LOVE! Once we have our heart in the right situation, then the next part can overflow from our lives…

11Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. 12Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. 13Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers. 14Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse. 15Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. 16Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. 17If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. 18Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. 19Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.” 20Instead, as the scripture says: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame.” 21Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.

All of a sudden because of where our heart is, we can be hopeful, we can be patient, we can be prayerful. With our hearts in the right place, we can be sharing. We can not only respond like Jesus wants us to, but in alignment with the 3rd law of motion, with equal and opposite response…blessing those who persecute us, never take revenge, feed those who are hungry, give drink to those who are thirsty, conquer evil with good. We can respond without being phony and be happy with those who celebrate, weep with those in mourning, do everything humbly, and doing everything possible in our power to live in peace with everyone!

How will you respond? Consider your response…Will you allow Newton’s law and God’s plan to align? Will you conquer evil with good? Will you focus on the future rather than living in the past? Will you be solutionary? Will you live in a way that is sincere! Will you live in a way that allows you to be at peace with everyone based on anything you can do?

Let’s give it up to God and for God as we prepare to start this day!

In Praise of the Lord

1Praise the Lord! With all my heart I will thank the Lord in the assembly of his people. 2How wonderful are the things the Lord does! All who are delighted with them want to understand them. 3All he does is full of honor and majesty; his righteousness is eternal. 4The Lord does not let us forget his wonderful actions; he is kind and merciful. 5He provides food for those who honor him; he never forgets his covenant. 6He has shown his power to his people by giving them the lands of foreigners. 7In all he does he is faithful and just; all his commands are dependable. 8They last for all time; they were given in truth and righteousness. 9He set his people free and made an eternal covenant with them. Holy and mighty is he! 10The way to become wise is to honor the Lord; he gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands. He is to be praised forever. — from Psalm 111

Where will you turn when things get tough and the people you depend on fade off?

Imagine getting ready for the toughest challenge of your life. Imagine pulling together your closest friends. Now what will you do? Where will you turn? What will you do? What will you say? How will you come out the other side?

This morning we see Jesus face just such an event…

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

(Matthew 26.36-46; Luke 22.39-46)
32They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, 34and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.”
35He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. 36“Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
37Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?” 38And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words. 40Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him.
41When he came back the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come! Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinners. 42Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!” — from Mark 14

He turns to God the Father! He knows what is coming and the pain and the suffering of taking on the punishment for the sin of the world. The Father was the only one to turn to, the only one who would never leave Him. His friends fell asleep. And one of His friends was about to betray Him for 20 pieces of silver.

Where are you at today? Where will you turn as you prepare to walk into this tough situation? Who will you call out to? Call to God! Do you need grace for what you have done? Do you need peace for what you are going through? Put your trust in Jesus who gave His all so that the dark and evil powers would no longer have power over us. Call on Him! Ask God for wisdom! Ask God for help! Put your hope and trust in God! For Jesus didn’t come to put you down, but to help you up and help you out! Let’s do what we need to do in order to gain the approval of God!

1From Paul, whose call to be an apostle did not come from human beings or by human means, but from Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from death. 2All the believers who are here join me in sending greetings to the churches of Galatia: 3May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father. 5To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

The One Gospel

6I am surprised at you! In no time at all you are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are accepting another gospel. 7Actually, there is no “other gospel,” but I say this because there are some people who are upsetting you and trying to change the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell! 9We have said it before, and now I say it again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel that is different from the one you accepted, may he be condemned to hell! 10Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.

How Paul Became an Apostle

11Let me tell you, my friends, that the gospel I preach is not of human origin. 12I did not receive it from any human being, nor did anyone teach it to me. It was Jesus Christ himself who revealed it to me. 13You have been told how I used to live when I was devoted to the Jewish religion, how I persecuted without mercy the church of God and did my best to destroy it. 14I was ahead of most other Jews of my age in my practice of the Jewish religion, and was much more devoted to the traditions of our ancestors. 15But God in his grace chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve him. And when he decided 16to reveal his Son to me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the Gentiles, I did not go to anyone for advice, 17nor did I go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and then I returned to Damascus. 18It was three years later that I went to Jerusalem to obtain information from Peter, and I stayed with him for two weeks. 19I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. 20What I write is true. God knows that I am not lying! 21Afterward I went to places in Syria and Cilicia. 22At that time the members of the churches in Judea did not know me personally. 23They knew only what others were saying: “The man who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith that he once tried to destroy!” 24And so they praised God because of me.

— from Galatians 1

God had been preparing the throne for Jesus to be His chosen king and priest. Even back with David as we read in today’s Psalm…

The Lord and His Chosen King

1The Lord said to my lord, “Sit here at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet.”
2From Zion the Lord will extend your royal power. “Rule over your enemies,” he says.
3On the day you fight your enemies, your people will volunteer. Like the dew of early morning your young men will come to you on the sacred hills.
4The Lord made a solemn promise and will not take it back: “You will be a priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.”
5The Lord is at your right side; when he becomes angry, he will defeat kings.
6He will pass judgment on the nations and fill the battlefield with corpses; he will defeat kings all over the earth.
7The king will drink from the stream by the road, and strengthened, he will stand victorious.

— from Psalm 110

There is an order and a purpose and a plan!

You don’t need to rush it! You don’t need to force it! God’s timing is perfect! God’s ways are higher the our ways! His ways are better than our ways! Don’t allow peer pressure to get you doing something you could later regret!

Today’s readings start with 1 Samuel 24…

David Spares Saul’s Life

1When Saul came back from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David was in the wilderness near Engedi. 2Saul took three thousand of the best soldiers in Israel and went looking for David and his men east of Wild Goat Rocks. 3He came to a cave close to some sheep pens by the road and went in to relieve himself. It happened to be the very cave in which David and his men were hiding far back in the cave. 4They said to him, “This is your chance! The Lord has told you that he would put your enemy in your power and you could do to him whatever you wanted to.” David crept over and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe without Saul’s knowing it. 5But then David’s conscience began to hurt, 6and he said to his men, “May the Lord keep me from doing any harm to my master, whom the Lord chose as king! I must not harm him in the least, because he is the king chosen by the Lord!” 7So David convinced his men that they should not attack Saul.
Saul got up, left the cave, and started away. 8Then David went out after him and called to him, “Your Majesty!” Saul turned around, and David bowed down to the ground in respect 9and said, “Why do you listen to people who say that I am trying to harm you? 10You can see for yourself that just now in the cave the Lord put you in my power. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I felt sorry for you and said that I would not harm you in the least, because you are the one whom the Lord chose to be king. 11Look, my father, look at the piece of your robe I am holding! I could have killed you, but instead I only cut this off. This should convince you that I have no thought of rebelling against you or of harming you. You are hunting me down to kill me, even though I have not done you any wrong. 12May the Lord judge which one of us is wrong! May he punish you for your action against me, for I will not harm you in the least. 13You know the old saying, ‘Evil is done only by evil people.’ And so I will not harm you. 14Look at what the king of Israel is trying to kill! Look at what he is chasing! A dead dog, a flea! 15The Lord will judge, and he will decide which one of us is wrong. May he look into the matter, defend me, and save me from you.”
16When David had finished speaking, Saul said, “Is that really you, David my son?” And he started crying. 17Then he said to David, “You are right, and I am wrong. You have been so good to me, while I have done such wrong to you! 18Today you have shown how good you are to me, because you did not kill me, even though the Lord put me in your power. 19How often does someone catch an enemy and then let him get away unharmed? The Lord bless you for what you have done to me today! 20Now I am sure that you will be king of Israel and that the kingdom will continue under your rule. 21But promise me in the Lord‘s name that you will spare my descendants, so that my name and my family’s name will not be completely forgotten.” 22David promised that he would.
Then Saul went back home, and David and his men went back to their hiding place.

David could have killed Saul! The peer pressure was telling him just that. But David was a man after God’s own heart! He wanted to do it God’s way! He wasn’t going to rush into it for he knew that God’s plan was perfect just like His timing! David knew that God’s plan for him was good that he would have a hope and a future. So he let Saul go! Even the small cutting of the robe was enough to make David feel bad.

As we continue into 1 Samuel 25, the reality that we don’t need to take things into our own hands and that the battle truly does belong to the Lord is revealed. He can even protect us from our own plans so that the guilt won’t lay on our heads.

The Death of Samuel

1Samuel died, and all the Israelites came together and mourned for him. Then they buried him at his home in Ramah.

David and Abigail

After this, David went to the wilderness of Paran. 2-3There was a man of the clan of Caleb named Nabal, who was from the town of Maon, and who owned land near the town of Carmel. He was a very rich man, the owner of three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. His wife Abigail was beautiful and intelligent, but he was a mean, bad-tempered man.
Nabal was shearing his sheep in Carmel, 4and David, who was in the wilderness, heard about it, 5so he sent ten young men with orders to go to Carmel, find Nabal, and give him his greetings. 6He instructed them to say to Nabal: “David sends you greetings, my friend, with his best wishes for you, your family, and all that is yours. 7He heard that you were shearing your sheep, and he wants you to know that your shepherds have been with us and we did not harm them. Nothing that belonged to them was stolen all the time they were at Carmel. 8Just ask them, and they will tell you. We have come on a feast day, and David asks you to receive us kindly. Please give what you can to us your servants and to your dear friend David.”
9David’s men delivered this message to Nabal in David’s name. Then they waited there, 10and Nabal finally answered, “David? Who is he? I’ve never heard of him! The country is full of runaway slaves nowadays! 11I’m not going to take my bread and water, and the animals I have butchered for my sheepshearers, and give them to people who come from I don’t know where!”
12David’s men went back to him and told him what Nabal had said. 13“Buckle on your swords!” he ordered, and they all did. David also buckled on his sword and left with about four hundred of his men, leaving two hundred behind with the supplies.
14One of Nabal’s servants said to Nabal’s wife Abigail, “Have you heard? David sent some messengers from the wilderness with greetings for our master, but he insulted them. 15Yet they were very good to us; they never bothered us, and all the time we were with them in the fields, nothing that belonged to us was stolen. 16They protected us day and night the whole time we were with them looking after our flocks. 17Please think this over and decide what to do. This could be disastrous for our master and all his family. He is so mean that he won’t listen to anybody!”
18Abigail quickly gathered two hundred loaves of bread, two leather bags full of wine, five roasted sheep, two bushels of roasted grain, a hundred bunches of raisins, and two hundred cakes of dried figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19Then she said to the servants, “You go on ahead and I will follow you.” But she said nothing to her husband.
20She was riding her donkey around a bend on a hillside when suddenly she met David and his men coming toward her. 21David had been thinking, “Why did I ever protect that fellow’s property out here in the wilderness? Not a thing that belonged to him was stolen, and this is how he pays me back for the help I gave him! 22May God strike me dead if I don’t kill every last one of those men before morning!”
23When Abigail saw David, she quickly dismounted and threw herself on the ground 24at David’s feet, and said to him, “Please, sir, listen to me! Let me take the blame. 25Please, don’t pay any attention to Nabal, that good-for-nothing! He is exactly what his name means—a fool I wasn’t there when your servants arrived, sir. 26It is the Lord who has kept you from taking revenge and killing your enemies. And now I swear to you by the living Lord that your enemies and all who want to harm you will be punished like Nabal. 27Please, sir, accept this present I have brought you, and give it to your men. 28Please forgive me, sir, for any wrong I have done. The Lord will make you king, and your descendants also, because you are fighting his battles; and you will not do anything evil as long as you live. 29If anyone should attack you and try to kill you, the Lord your God will keep you safe, as someone guards a precious treasure. As for your enemies, however, he will throw them away, as someone hurls stones with a sling. 30And when the Lord has done all the good things he has promised you and has made you king of Israel, 31then you will not have to feel regret or remorse, sir, for having killed without cause or for having taken your own revenge. And when the Lord has blessed you, sir, please do not forget me.”
32David said to her, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me! 33Thank God for your good sense and for what you have done today in keeping me from the crime of murder and from taking my own revenge. 34The Lord has kept me from harming you. But I swear by the living God of Israel that if you had not hurried to meet me, all of Nabal’s men would have been dead by morning!” 35Then David accepted what she had brought him and said to her, “Go back home and don’t worry. I will do what you want.”
36Abigail went back to Nabal, who was at home having a feast fit for a king. He was drunk and in a good mood, so she did not tell him anything until the next morning. 37Then, after he had sobered up, she told him everything. He suffered a stroke and was completely paralyzed. 38Some ten days later the Lord struck Nabal and he died.
39When David heard that Nabal had died, he said, “Praise the Lord! He has taken revenge on Nabal for insulting me and has kept me his servant from doing wrong. The Lord has punished Nabal for his evil.”
Then David sent a proposal of marriage to Abigail. 40His servants went to her at Carmel and said to her, “David sent us to take you to him to be his wife.”
41Abigail bowed down to the ground and said, “I am his servant, ready to wash the feet of his servants.” 42She rose quickly and mounted her donkey. Accompanied by her five maids, she went with David’s servants and became his wife.
43David had married Ahinoam from Jezreel, and now Abigail also became his wife. 44 Meanwhile, Saul had given his daughter Michal, who had been David’s wife, to Palti son of Laish, who was from the town of Gallim.

God’s ways are higher than our ways and better than our ways! His plans are perfect! We have all be created on purpose with a purpose! We all will face choices as we have been given freewill. We need to choose wisely!

Ever had a situation where it seemed like the other person was just pushing it and pushing it and trying to get you to act? Don’t respond out of anger or frustration. Remember God’s timing is perfect! Don’t rush it allow God’s plans to come to fruition. Let’s take hold of James 1 (My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.) before we act to quickly or harshly. God’s plans are that we lack nothing! In 1 Samuel 26 we see how it happens to David again and again he resists…

David Spares Saul’s Life Again

1Some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah and told him that David was hiding on Mount Hachilah at the edge of the Judean wilderness. 2Saul went at once with three thousand of the best soldiers in Israel to the wilderness of Ziph to look for David, 3and camped by the road on Mount Hachilah. David was still in the wilderness, and when he learned that Saul had come to look for him, 4he sent spies and found out that Saul was indeed there. 5He went at once and located the exact place where Saul and Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, slept. Saul slept inside the camp, and his men camped around him.
6Then David asked Ahimelech the Hittite, and Abishai the brother of Joab (their mother was Zeruiah), “Which of you two will go to Saul’s camp with me?”
“I will,” Abishai answered.
7So that night David and Abishai entered Saul’s camp and found Saul sleeping in the center of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the troops were sleeping around him. 8Abishai said to David, “God has put your enemy in your power tonight. Now let me plunge his own spear through him and pin him to the ground with just one blow—I won’t have to strike twice!”
9But David said, “You must not harm him! The Lord will certainly punish whoever harms his chosen king. 10By the living Lord,” David continued, “I know that the Lord himself will kill Saul, either when his time comes to die a natural death or when he dies in battle. 11The Lord forbid that I should try to harm the one whom the Lord has made king! Let’s take his spear and his water jar, and go.” 12So David took the spear and the water jar from right beside Saul’s head, and he and Abishai left. No one saw it or knew what had happened or even woke up—they were all sound asleep, because the Lord had sent a heavy sleep on them all.
13Then David crossed over to the other side of the valley to the top of the hill, a safe distance away, 14and shouted to Saul’s troops and to Abner, “Abner! Can you hear me?”
“Who is that shouting and waking up the king?” Abner asked.
15David answered, “Abner, aren’t you the greatest man in Israel? So why aren’t you protecting your master, the king? Just now someone entered the camp to kill your master. 16You failed in your duty, Abner! I swear by the living Lord that all of you deserve to die, because you have not protected your master, whom the Lord made king. Look! Where is the king’s spear? Where is the water jar that was right by his head?”
17Saul recognized David’s voice and asked, “David, is that you, my son?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” David answered. 18And he added, “Why, sir, are you still pursuing me, your servant? What have I done? What crime have I committed? 19Your Majesty, listen to what I have to say. If it is the Lord who has turned you against me, an offering to him will make him change his mind; but if some people have done it, may the Lord‘s curse fall on them. For they have driven me out from the Lord‘s land to a country where I can only worship foreign gods. 20Don’t let me be killed on foreign soil, away from the Lord. Why should the king of Israel come to kill a flea like me? Why should he hunt me down like a wild bird?”
21Saul answered, “I have done wrong. Come back, David, my son! I will never harm you again, because you have spared my life tonight. I have been a fool! I have done a terrible thing!”
22David replied, “Here is your spear, Your Majesty. Let one of your men come over and get it. 23The Lord rewards those who are faithful and righteous. Today he put you in my power, but I did not harm you, whom the Lord made king. 24Just as I have spared your life today, may the Lord do the same to me and free me from all troubles!”
25Saul said to David, “God bless you, my son! You will succeed in everything you do!”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.

They may try to force your hand, but remember the battle belongs to the Lord! Remember what God wants from you! Remember what God is preparing for you! Remember God’s plan is that you have a hope and a future! Remember God’s desire is that you are complete and lacking nothing!

Is there somewhere you can get away to avoid the taunting and the attacks? Is there a way to avoid the distractions and the tricks? Maybe you can find a place where you can be away from it all? Maybe a place where they will forget about you and leave you alone. We see how David takes this approach in 1 Samuel 27…

David among the Philistines

1David said to himself, “One of these days Saul will kill me. The best thing for me to do is to escape to Philistia. Then Saul will give up looking for me in Israel, and I will be safe.” 2So David and his six hundred men went over at once to Achish son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3David and his men settled there in Gath with their families. David had his two wives with him, Ahinoam from Jezreel, and Abigail, Nabal’s widow, from Carmel. 4When Saul heard that David had fled to Gath, he gave up trying to find him.
5David said to Achish, “If you are my friend, let me have a small town to live in. There is no need, sir, for me to live with you in the capital city.” 6So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag, and for this reason Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. 7David lived in Philistia for sixteen months.
8During that time David and his men would attack the people of Geshur, Girzi, and Amalek, who had been living in the region a very long time. He would raid their land as far as Shur, all the way down to Egypt, 9killing all the men and women and taking the sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and even the clothes. Then he would come back to Achish, 10who would ask him, “Where did you go on a raid this time?” and David would tell him that he had gone to the southern part of Judah or to the territory of the clan of Jerahmeel or to the territory where the Kenites lived. 11David would kill everyone, men and women, so that no one could go back to Gath and report what he and his men had really done. This is what David did the whole time he lived in Philistia. 12But Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He is hated so much by his own people the Israelites that he will have to serve me all his life.”

In whom will you trust? Where will you go for wisdom? Who will you seek? Will you seek the truth? Will you turn to God? Or will you plan on trickery? Put your trust in God! Will you wait upon the Lord or try to take things into your own hands? How far away will you walk from God? Will you show patience? Will you trust in God’s perfect timing? We see in 1 Samuel 28 how Saul responds…

1Some time later the Philistines gathered their troops to fight Israel, and Achish said to David, “Of course you understand that you and your men are to fight on my side.”
2“Of course,” David answered. “I am your servant, and you will see for yourself what I can do.”
Achish said, “Good! I will make you my permanent bodyguard.”

Saul Consults a Medium

3Now Samuel had died, and all the Israelites had mourned for him and had buried him in his hometown of Ramah. Saul had forced all the fortunetellers and mediums to leave Israel.
4The Philistine troops assembled and camped near the town of Shunem; Saul gathered the Israelites and camped at Mount Gilboa. 5When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was terrified, 6and so he asked the Lord what to do. But the Lord did not answer him at all, either by dreams or by the use of Urim and Thummim or by prophets. 7Then Saul ordered his officials, “Find me a woman who is a medium, and I will go and consult her.”
“There is one in Endor,” they answered.
8So Saul disguised himself; he put on different clothes, and after dark he went with two of his men to see the woman. “Consult the spirits for me and tell me what is going to happen,” he said to her. “Call up the spirit of the man I name.”
9The woman answered, “Surely you know what King Saul has done, how he forced the fortunetellers and mediums to leave Israel. Why, then, are you trying to trap me and get me killed?”
10Then Saul made a sacred vow. “By the living Lord I promise that you will not be punished for doing this,” he told her.
11“Whom shall I call up for you?” the woman asked.
“Samuel,” he answered.
12When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed and said to Saul, “Why have you tricked me? You are King Saul!”
13“Don’t be afraid!” the king said to her. “What do you see?”
“I see a spirit coming up from the earth,” she answered.
14“What does it look like?” he asked.
“It’s an old man coming up,” she answered. “He is wearing a cloak.”
Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed to the ground in respect.
15Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me? Why did you make me come back?”
Saul answered, “I am in great trouble! The Philistines are at war with me, and God has abandoned me. He doesn’t answer me any more, either by prophets or by dreams. And so I have called you, for you to tell me what I must do.”
16Samuel said, “Why do you call me when the Lord has abandoned you and become your enemy? 17The Lord has done to you what he told you through me: he has taken the kingdom away from you and given it to David instead. 18You disobeyed the Lord‘s command and did not completely destroy the Amalekites and all they had. That is why the Lord is doing this to you now. 19He will give you and Israel over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will join me, and the Lord will also give the army of Israel over to the Philistines.”
20At once Saul fell down and lay stretched out on the ground, terrified by what Samuel had said. He was weak, because he had not eaten anything all day and all night. 21The woman went over to him and saw that he was terrified, so she said to him, “Please, sir, I risked my life by doing what you asked. 22Now please do what I ask. Let me fix you some food. You must eat so that you will be strong enough to travel.”
23Saul refused and said he would not eat anything. But his officers also urged him to eat. He finally gave in, got up from the ground, and sat on the bed. 24The woman quickly killed a calf which she had been fattening. Then she took some flour, prepared it, and baked some bread without yeast. 25She set the food before Saul and his officers, and they ate it. And they left that same night.

God’s timing is perfect. His plans are better than our plans. Don’t stray or walk away from God, but draw closer to Him! Don’t allow the lies of the enemy to make you go out on your own, but rather, stick with God!

God’s ways are higher than our ways and so much better. Even when it looks like rejection, it is a setup for a comeback! So don’t stay down! Don’t be stuck! Get up! This is the day that the Lord has made! Let’s rejoice and be glad in it! It may look like a setback, but it could be a setup for a comeback!

As we draw towards the conclusion of 1 Samuel with chapters 29 and 30 we see what happens to David! Rejection! Defeat! Victory! In 31 we read about the precition Saul had received coming true!

David Is Rejected by the Philistines

1The Philistines brought all their troops together at Aphek, while the Israelites camped at the spring in Jezreel Valley. 2The five Philistine kings marched out with their units of a hundred and of a thousand men; David and his men marched in the rear with King Achish. 3The Philistine commanders saw them and asked, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”Achish answered, “This is David, an official of King Saul of Israel. He has been with me for quite some time now. He has done nothing I can find fault with since the day he came over to me.” 4But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said to him, “Send that fellow back to the town you gave him. Don’t let him go into battle with us; he might turn against us during the fighting. What better way is there for him to win back his master’s favor than by the death of our men? 5After all, this is David, the one about whom the women sang, as they danced, ‘Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands.’” 6Achish called David and said to him, “I swear by the living God of Israel that you have been loyal to me; and I would be pleased to have you go with me and fight in this battle. I have not found any fault in you from the day you came over to me. But the other kings don’t approve of you. 7So go back home in peace, and don’t do anything that would displease them.” 8David answered, “What have I done wrong, sir? If, as you say, you haven’t found any fault in me since the day I started serving you, why shouldn’t I go with you, my master and king, and fight your enemies?” 9“I agree,” Achish replied. “I consider you as loyal as an angel of God. But the other kings have said that you can’t go with us into battle. 10So then, David, tomorrow morning all of you who left Saul and came over to me will have to get up early and leave as soon as it’s light.” 11So David and his men started out early the following morning to go back to Philistia, and the Philistines went on to Jezreel. — from 1 Samuel 29

The War against the Amalekites
1Two days later David and his men arrived back at Ziklag. The Amalekites had raided southern Judah and attacked Ziklag. They had burned down the town 2and captured all the women; they had not killed anyone, but had taken everyone with them when they left. 3When David and his men arrived, they found that the town had been burned down and that their wives, sons, and daughters had been carried away. 4David and his men started crying and did not stop until they were completely exhausted. 5Even David’s two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, had been taken away. 6David was now in great trouble, because his men were all very bitter about losing their children, and they were threatening to stone him; but the Lord his God gave him courage. 7David said to the priest Abiathar son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod,” and Abiathar brought it to him. 8David asked the Lord, “Shall I go after those raiders? And will I catch them?”He answered, “Go after them; you will catch them and rescue the captives.” 9So David and his six hundred men started out, and when they arrived at Besor Brook, some of them stayed there. 10David continued on his way with four hundred men; the other two hundred men were too tired to cross the brook and so stayed behind. 11The men with David found a young Egyptian out in the country and brought him to David. They gave him some food and water, 12some dried figs, and two bunches of raisins. After he had eaten, his strength returned; he had not had anything to eat or drink for three full days. 13David asked him, “Who is your master, and where are you from?”“I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite,” he answered. “My master left me behind three days ago because I got sick. 14We had raided the territory of the Cherethites in the southern part of Judah and the territory of the clan of Caleb, and we burned down Ziklag.” 15“Will you lead me to those raiders?” David asked him.He answered, “I will if you promise me in God’s name that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master.” 16And he led David to them.The raiders were scattered all over the place, eating, drinking, and celebrating because of the enormous amount of loot they had captured from Philistia and Judah. 17At dawn the next day David attacked them and fought until evening. Except for four hundred young men who mounted camels and got away, none of them escaped. 18David rescued everyone and everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives; 19nothing at all was missing. David got back all his men’s sons and daughters, and all the loot the Amalekites had taken. 20He also recovered all the flocks and herds; his men drove all the livestock in front of them and said, “This belongs to David!” 21Then David went back to the two hundred men who had been too weak to go with him and had stayed behind at Besor Brook. They came forward to meet David and his men, and David went up to them and greeted them warmly. 22But some mean and worthless men who had gone with David said, “They didn’t go with us, and so we won’t give them any of the loot. They can take their wives and children and go away.” 23But David answered, “My brothers, you can’t do this with what the Lord has given us! He kept us safe and gave us victory over the raiders. 24No one can agree with what you say! All must share alike: whoever stays behind with the supplies gets the same share as the one who goes into battle.” 25David made this a rule, and it has been followed in Israel ever since. 26When David returned to Ziklag, he sent part of the loot to his friends, the leaders of Judah, with the message, “Here is a present for you from the loot we took from the Lord’s enemies.” 27He sent it to the people in Bethel, to the people in Ramah in the southern part of Judah, and to the people in the towns of Jattir, 28Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29and Racal; to the clan of Jerahmeel, to the Kenites, 30and to the people in the towns of Hormah, Borashan, Athach, 31and Hebron. He sent it to all the places where he and his men had roamed.
–from 1 Samuel 30

The Death of Saul and His Sons

(1 Chronicles 10.1-12)
1The Philistines fought a battle against the Israelites on Mount Gilboa. Many Israelites were killed there, and the rest of them, including King Saul and his sons, fled. 2But the Philistines caught up with them and killed three of Saul’s sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. 3The fighting was heavy around Saul, and he himself was hit by enemy arrows and badly wounded. 4He said to the young man carrying his weapons, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that these godless Philistines won’t gloat over me and kill me.” But the young man was too terrified to do it. So Saul took his own sword and threw himself on it. 5The young man saw that Saul was dead, so he too threw himself on his own sword and died with Saul. 6And that is how Saul, his three sons, and the young man died; all of Saul’s men died that day. 7When the Israelites on the other side of Jezreel Valley and east of the Jordan River heard that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had been killed, they abandoned their towns and fled. Then the Philistines came and occupied the towns. 8The day after the battle the Philistines went to plunder the corpses, and they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons lying on Mount Gilboa. 9They cut off Saul’s head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers with them throughout Philistia to tell the good news to their idols and to their people. 10Then they put his weapons in the temple of the goddess Astarte, and they nailed his body to the wall of the city of Beth Shan. 11When the people of Jabesh in Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12the bravest men started out and marched all night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall, brought them back to Jabesh, and burned them there. 13Then they took the bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in town, and fasted for seven days. — 1 Samuel 31