Chasing the Bus

We are now back to the time of year when our kids, grandkids, or friends kids go back to school. For me, when this time of year rolls around is when I get asked about a particular story that happened to me three years ago. Sometimes we need a good a laugh and we need to remember to not take ourselves too seriously and with that let me remind so and tell others for the first time – the story of the Pastor who chased the bus.

It was the first day of school and out third month here in Sedley. In the past I have worked at the church where our kids went to school and so that rode with me each day but now they were going to be riding the school bus. Mckayla was older so she walked over by the church and caught the bus without any problems and she would be getting off there. Wendy and I took Luke over there and he caught the bus and the drive said she would drop him off closer to our house – at the corner of Magnolia and First Street. I liked that idea – we did not have to walk as far.

The end of the day came and it was soon time for the bus to drop off Luke. Mckayla had already been dropped off and had gone in the house. Wendy and I standing where the bus driver told us to when we see a bus go flying past the church toward the Sedley Store. I thought it might have been Luke’s bus but was unsure. Wendy and I talked about it for a quick second and I said, “you stay here I will see if that was his bus ”. I began to briskly walk down First Street which turned into a light jog and by Dee and Dave’s Mushroom house I was in a full run. I get to the Sedley Store and as usual there were a group of men there. I asked them about the bus and I did it trying to not seem worried that Luke was on it and I believed did not know where to get off.

As I am talking to the men at the store another school bus comes from toward the Firehouse. It gets to us and Luke is sitting in one of the windows. He smiles at me and waves and I feel a sense of relief until the bus turns down Peachtree! I began to literally run after the bus. The bus stops and the Felt boys get off at their house. I had almost caught up to the bus at this point but then it takes off again. I kept running after the bus but was I was not in very good shape and slowing way down and the bus was way ahead.

At this point a church member pulls up in his truck. He was sitting with the group of men at the Sedley Store watching me run like a crazy man all over Sedley. He says to me “Preacher, can I give you a ride somewhere?” We talked for a second and decided that the bus most likely would circle around and end up at the church and so he brought me to the church. I get out and tell him thank you for the ride at which point the bus goes past me and stops right in front of Wendy. Luke gets off the bus like nothing ever happened. Me on the other hand was sweating profusely and was seriously winded from literally running all over town.

The moral of this story is – this preacher sometimes looks a bit crazy. Also though, if I would have just listened to the bus driver and trusted what she said, it would have saved me a whole lot of embarrassment and a whole lot of literally running around. The same is true for each of us and the Bible, if we would just listen to what the Bible tells us and trust what it is tell us; it will save us a whole lot of embarrassment and running around in life that we could avoid.

Have you ever chased a bus?

Selflessness, Service, and 3 Mighty Men

In the last post we started looking at some of David’s Mighty men and today we will look at a story of three of David’s men and their courageous act.  Look at 2nd Samuel 23 verses 13-17: 13 Then three of the thirty chief men went down and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam, while the troop of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 15  David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” 16  So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord; 17 and he said, “Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

The writer of Samuel shares a story of these might men before David became king and while he was still fleeing from Saul. The “cave of Adullam” is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 22:1. This cave is where David located after he fled from Gath. It is where a number of his family and friends joined him as well as others who were also out of favor with Saul and where David’s band of mighty men first started. At some point in time, David and his men were in this cave while they were at war with the Philistines. The Philistines had taken possession of David’s hometown of Bethlehem and were camped there. David then said in passing that he would love a drink from that well in Bethlehem because of how good the water was from it.

So what happened was that some of his men heard what David said and decided that they would provide for their leader whatever he wanted. I do not see it that he had given orders to fetch him the water from that well or even intended that anyone to get him water from the well, but to these three brave men, David’s wish was their command. The men left the safety of the cave, went 12 miles or so to Bethlehem, broke through the enemy lines, drew water for David, and came back 12 miles to bring it to him. When presented with this water, David did what seems unusual; he refused to drink the water, and instead poured it out on the ground. This is not because he disdained the efforts of these courageous men or because he did not wish to drink it but his actions demonstrated that he wanted to honor the courage of those who obtained it. David never intended to put these men’s lives at risk for his own desires because that kind of devotion that was showed to him was the kind of devotion that belonged to God. Pouring this water out before the Lord was David’s highest expression of appreciation and regard for these men. The water was a symbol of the blood these men nearly shed, serving him. The highest use to which this water could be put was the worship of God, and so David poured it out to the Lord in worship.

Do you have the courage and selflessness to do what these men did? They selflessly served. Do you selflessly serve or do selfishly serve? Selflessness is not caring about your wants or preferences but about others and their needs. Selfishness is only worrying about what you want and your preferences and nothing about what is the best for others. Which describes you? The Christ like attitude is that of selflessness because selflessness shows real courage.

How do you guard against selfishness?  What is a story of how someone served you selflessly?  Do you see service as an act of worship?

Titles

2nd Samuel 23:1 – Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel,

What we see here in this verse is that David shares some of  titles he has in life. He was The son of Jesse: Jesse was a humble farmer and this title shows David’s humble beginning. He was The man raised up on high: David allowed God to raise him up, so he could confidently rest in this title. He was The anointed of the God of Jacob: David was anointed by God, not by himself or merely by man but he had a unique empowering and enabling given from God. He was The sweet psalmist of Israel: David had a beautiful gift of eloquence and expression before God. This title shows of David’s deep inner life with God. These titles all reminded David of who He was; that he was more than just a king, he was a man of humble beginnings, a man raised up by God and set apart by God, and a man who had a deep relationship with God.

I have titles – I am a son, a husband, a father, a pastor, and some would say jokester.  They are all titles that I carry and they remind me of who I am and what God has done for me.  The greatest title I carry though is Son of God.

What are the titles that you have? Do they remind you of who you are? Do they remind you of what God has done for you? What about the title son of God or daughter of God? Are you living up to that title? What title are you living up to today in your life and what titles are you not living up to?

What is the greatest title you have and why do you consider that one the greatest and are you living up to it?

Forgive, Forget, and Free

Let us pick up in 2nd Samuel chapter 19 verse 19 which is where we left off in the last post as we are talking about forgivingness.  This guy Shimei who has done some pretty bad things to David in the past has come to him and is seeking forgiveness.

Let us look on to verse 19: 19 So he said to the king, “Let not my lord consider me guilty, nor remember what your servant did wrong on the day when my lord the king came out from Jerusalem, so that the king would take it to heart. 20 For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore behold, I have come today, the first of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.”

What we see here is that Shimei has a three-fold plea to present to the king: do not hold me guilty, do not remember and as a matter of fact, put it completely out of your mind. Think about it, those are exactly the same three things we want from the Lord when we come to Him with our sin. We say, Lord, do not hold me guilty, or in other words, forgive me for what I have done. We say Lord, do not remember it or please forget what I have done. And we say Lord; put it out of Your mind, so I can be free me for the future to live differently. When you really think about it, these are exactly the things we get from the Lord. God forgives so we can push forward and make a difference in life for Him! Let us forgive freely!

Here is what we do though: we allow the evil one to bring the garbage back in our lives and render us ineffective. When the past, quarrels with the present, there is no future – you are stuck. Forget the past failures so that you can have a future! Paul tells us in Philippians to forget the things in the past! You have been freed so get on with the rest of your life, and realize that God in His marvelous grace is has forgiven you! So experience the forgiveness that is there. We need to be like Shimei saying, “Please forgive, forget, and free me for the future.” God will do it – if you ask with a repentant heart – He will free you!

We see here that Shimei does acknowledge his sin. Part of being forgiven is the acknowledgment of our sin. If you are too prideful to acknowledge your sin then you will be too prideful to gain the forgiveness you desperately seek and the peace that comes with it.

Why does he say the “house of Joseph”? Joseph was a great forgiver, because remember that his brothers sold him into Egypt as a slave. They thought they were going to really get it from Joseph when years later they realized that he was alive had the power to save their lives. What did Joseph say when he was asked about what happened at all those years earlier? “You thought up evil against me, God meant it for good to bring about the saving of many people today.” He is using Joseph to plead for forgiveness. Shimei desires forgiveness for what he has done.

Some people have a better capacity to forgive than others – how is yours?  What are some things that keep you from forgiving others?

Full Forgiveness?

In some of the previous posts we were looking at 2nd Samuel 19 and due to a busy schedule and some other life events I was unable to get back to it for a few weeks but now let us check out where we left off.  Please look with me at 2nd Samuel 19, starting in verse 16 we will discover how David is going to deal with some people from his past that show up: 16 Then Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David.

I do not know if anyone remembers or knows who  this guy Shimei is but he is the guy back in 2nd Samuel chapter 16 that came out and was throwing rocks, cursing, and kicking dirt at David when David was on the run for his life. He is the guy who claimed that David was a worthless man and a man of bloodshed. Shimei could easily had lost his life that day because David’s man Abishai wanted to kill him but David let him live. Even after that Shimei followed him for quite a ways throwing rocks, throwing insults, and kicking dirt on David and his men. He is quite the character and he is back to see David.

Let us look on: 17 There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, with Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they rushed to the Jordan before the king.

What we see is that Shimei is not alone when he comes and when he comes he is rushing to see the king because he needs to make things right. He does not come alone because he is probably afraid of what will happen when he sees the king. So who does he bring along? Ziba who is another character from David’s past. Ziba is Saul’s servant that was responsible to Mephibosheth, the handicapped son of Jonathan, who was eating at the king David’s table. This guy Ziba was also responsible to farm all of Saul’s land for Mephibosheth. When we last saw Ziba, he had come with a great gift for David when he was on the run for his life. As a result of this gift, David gives all the land to Ziba that he was farming for Mephibosheth because Ziba lied about Mephibosheth by saying that “He is staying back in Jerusalem hoping to get to become king.” So you have Shimei and Ziba showing up to see the king but it is really Shimei who really needs to see the king because of what has happened in the past.

So what do we see that happens: 18 Then they kept crossing the ford to bring over the king’s household, and to do what was good in his sight. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king as he was about to cross the Jordan.

What we see that happens here is that Shimei gets over on the east bank of the river and he fell prostrate before the king. He is preparing himself to cry out for mercy, grace, and forgiveness because of his past interaction with David.

Here is a key point that I want you to see and that is  the power of forgiveness and the ability to forgive – although not perfectly as I will talk about in a  later post – but what you will see is forgiveness – an example for all of us. You see the Bible is a whole book on forgiveness. We are called in the pages of the Bible again and again to forgive because we have been forgiven. So today is a challenge to all to forgive others. What we need to see and realize is the freedom that comes to us when we forgive others.

What happens to a person when they do not forgive? As I see it, it creates a spiral downward in their life. This spiral works for not forgiving others or self. First there is the offense. If it is not forgiven, then resentment builds up. This will then festers until you get hatred and that will quickly develop into a grudge. This will then finally lead you to be eaten up with the thoughts of revenge which will make you a miserable person on the inside and on the outside. Failure to forgive others and yourself creates a cancer that will eat away at your soul and will change you into a bitter, mean, and hateful person that people will not want to be around. When you live this way, you always play into the hand of the devil, anytime that you delay forgiveness and forgiving someone, including self, you play into the hand of the devil. Is this the way you wish to live – a bitter, mean, or angry person that no one really wants to be around? If not then you need to start forgiving freely!

Now there are three types of forgiveness that all fall short of the forgiveness that is described in the Bible. First of all, there is conditional forgiveness – I’ll forgive you but don’t you dare ever do it again or I will take my forgiveness away. Then there is partial forgiveness – I forgive you but don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Then the third one is delayed forgiveness I will forgive you someday but it hurts too much to do it now but I will forgive you someday.  Here is the thing; all of these types fall short of the forgiveness that the Bible teaches. God expects of us that we forgive, we forget, and we free the offender.

Here is the truth with that and that is we almost always fall short of biblical forgiveness but that should never keep it from being the goal we go hard after. We need to be seeking to forgive and forgive fully and completely.

Any thoughts on forgiveness today?  Any thoughts on what I have posted?

Tact.

These last few post have been looking at 2 Samuel 18 and what we can learn in this chapter to help us be better people and to be more teachable in life.  Let us finish this by looking at the last part of this chapter.

The war is over and now David needs to be told about Absalom his rebelious son dying – look at verse 19 and following: 19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Please let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has freed him from the hand of his enemies.” 20 But Joab said to him, “You are not the man to carry news this day, but you shall carry news another day; however, you shall carry no news today because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 Now Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said once more to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why would you run, my son, since you will have no reward for going?” 23 “But whatever happens,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed up the Cushite.

Joab is trying to protect Ahimaaz by getting the Cushite to take the news to David because David has a tendency to kill the messenger who brings bad news. Even though they won the war there is really no good way of telling David that his son is dead. Ahimaaz is like one of those people who wants to be important and involved in everything but really had no reason to be but he annoys Joab to the point where he lets him run with the news after the Cushite and passes him.

Here is the thing – some people just want to be involved because they think it is their calling to be involved in everything that happens but that is not the case. People who want to be involved in everything either do not trust God or the leaders or they are just nosy – in any case it is sinful and wrong. There are people who are called to be involved in things and Ahimaaz did not have that call here.

Let us look at what happens: 24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself. 25 The watchman called and told the king. And the king said, “If he is by himself there is good news in his mouth.” And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “Behold, another man running by himself.” And the king said, “This one also is bringing good news.” 27 The watchman said, “I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “This is a good man and comes with good news.”

So David is now waiting and expecting good news from Ahimaaz! Let us continue: 28 Ahimaaz called and said to the king, “All is well.” And he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, “Blessed is the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king.” 29 The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” 30 Then the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

So what do we see here? Ahimaaz for sure knew that Absalom was dead because Joab said it verse 20 but he lied to protect himself which was sinful! He also said “All is well” when he knew it was not for David. He took no time to figure out what he was going to say while running to tell the king – all he came up with was that there was a commotion and he did not know what it was. We see is Ahimaaz was a messenger without a truthful message. That is like many in the believers in Christ these days – they are messengers but yet they do not share the truth of message of Christ because they do not want to be considered closed minded and so they lie to people and show their lack of courage! We are to be sharing the truth of Jesus constantly and consistently with others! All of us are messengers – we are to share the truth message of Christ with all!

Here at the end of the chapter we read: 31 Behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you.” 32 Then the king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!” 33 The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

The Cushite shows up and shares the whole message – even the painful truth. Since being in ministry I have had to be the bearer of bad news. Each time I prayed and thought and tried putting myself in the person’s spot who was hearing the news. I would do my best to say what I had to so that the person understood with the least amount of hurt – I wanted to tell the truth in love. That is what the Cushite did. Someone has defined “tact” as the knack of making a point without making an enemy. The Cushite had tact here – he was able to tell David about Absalom in a gentle way. Do you have tact? Can you make a point without making an enemy? We all need to practice having more tact with each other because tact is a part of being teachable.

How would you define tact?  Do you feel you have tact? Why or Why not?

Knowing When To Stop

We have look at various things happening in 2 Samuel 18 in the last couple of post and  in this post we will see that with the death of Absalom the war with Israel is over.  What can we learn here?  Let us begin by looking at verse 16 and following: 16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people. 17 They took Absalom and cast him into a deep pit in the forest and erected over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled, each to his tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to preserve my name.” So he named the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

So we see that Joab stops David’s army from pursuing the remainder of the army of Israel, the real battle is over. Joab does not want any further complications. He does not want to cause the nation to resent David. There is a lesson to learn here and it is this: know when to stop. What we need to learn in life is it is not always appropriate to keep fighting – sometimes the best thing to do is stop fighting when you have won, so you do not do more harm than you need to.

There are times when we can find ourselves in confrontations. Sometimes as we are sharing our faith, we can find ourselves in an argument rather than a discussion. There is wisdom in knowing when to stop fighting. Do not forget what you are really trying to accomplish. It is not about wiping the person out but it is about leading them to Jesus. If you are always trying to demolish your enemies and belittle them – then you are making your life more difficult than it needs to be and not exemplifying being teachable. Joab was bright enough to know that it was time to stop fighting so that all Israel would not hate David but so that they would respect him. Do you know when to stop or do you always have to have the last word and demolish those against you? The teachable person understands that there are times to fight and there are times to stop fighting. I pray we all know when to fight and when to stop.

Then we see they just throw Absalom’s body into a pit – no proper burial for him! And then there is this thing about a pillar. We see back in 2 Samuel 14:27 that Absalom has three sons and a daughter and now we learn that apparently he has a pillar made because his sons have died. Why a pillar? The fact here is that he wanted to be remembered. Think about it; he made a monument to himself. He was concerned about leaving his mark on the world. Do you ever think about the mark you are leaving? Your words, your actions, will be a monument to you – are you proud of how that monument looks right now?

Absalom wanted to be remembered with a monument which means he would be remembered in stone and he was – under a pile of them and not for the right reasons. Here is the thing- our goal should not be to have people remember us. Our goal should be for people to remember Jesus. It is my desire that the ministries of the church that I am blessed to pastor be done in a way where the result is not remembering an awesome person, but that people were drawn to Jesus because someone shined Him brightly. It is the same for our lives – may our lives be remembered for what Jesus did in our lives and not for what we did. Our lives should be living monuments of Jesus working in us because that shows that we are or were teachable and that we were taught by Him.

Are you good about knowing when to stop or do you seem to take things too far?  What are the ways you will be remembered?  Are they ways you are and will be proud of?