Wednesday, November 30, 2016

No Ordinary Priest...

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 5:1-10 ESV)
Priests.  Just the mention of the name can stir up all sorts of emotions in people in our culture - some good, some not so much.  But in the purest understanding of what a priest is and does, he is someone who humbly serves for God, being an intermediary between God and man.  People, tend to be stubborn on their end of things - at best, ignorant of how the relationship should go.  True priests are not in it for any selfish gain of power, possessions or passions, but because they are chosen by God to live this sacrificial life.  Christ, the Messiah, is the ultimate priest.  He is perfect, making him the only fully-qualified priest, able to bring together God and Man.  Being Son of God and Son of Man did not hurt. Are you willing to trust such a priest with your soul?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Man with the Multi-syllable Name...

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
(Genesis 14:17-20 ESV)
As David sings about the Messiah, the Anointed One to come, God has him tell us that he will be this "priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."(Psalm 110) (say that name fast five times...) Who is this priest? A priest of the Lord who came out and prophetically blessed Abram after he had rescued Lot. Why did he do so? To point out to everyone around that it was God Who brought the victory - not Abram or any of the other kings who had joined together. To God alone be the glory!  For the Messiah, the Son of God Who came to earth to be our Deliverer, it was also about the Glory of the Father, the will of the Father. He came to point us all back to Him. He Himself will receive glory from the Father, but when He came, He came as priest, to point us to God.  When we do all we do this year to celebrate Messiah's coming, may we not just look down into the manger to see a Baby.  May we then look up and give thanks to the God who sent Him, and stand in awe of His great love and salvation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What kind of King is this???

A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:1-4 ESV)
In this description of the King of Kings, David writes something that trips us up, throws in the monkey wrench, and stops us in our tracks. The King is a priest... Our American minds rush to the thought: "What ever happened to separation of church and state?" Our critical Bible Scholar minds say: "But what about Uzziah the king, who presumptively went into the temple and was stricken by God with leprosy for his act?" How can this be, that the King could also be a priest? Can He do that?
I can remember when our oldest son was young, he said he wanted to be President and Part-Time Pastor, and we laughed within, thinking: "Sure, you do..." But yes, it's real, it's right, even required that the Messiah be both King and Priest. Who else could handle the sacrifice that would be required for the sins of the whole world? Such power, such authority cannot be entrusted to just anyone, or to anyone we know. Only one can be trusted to handle it correctly.
Of course, we object. It is hard enough to relinquish the rightful right of rule to the deserving King; it is at least as hard for us to say that we are wrong, sinful, and needy, and turn ourselves over to a priest in all honesty and trust Him with our forgiveness. If we do not entrust Him with one office, we are not likely to trust Him with the other. Is He your King, your Priest?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

For a little while...

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:5-9 ESV)
It is always interesting to see the slight modifications the New Testament writers make in quoting the Old Testament in order to help us better understand what God has said and done.  In helping us to wrap our minds around the fact that the Messiah was both God and Man, and that he came as the Incarnate Word of God, he makes it clear that this application of Psalm8, written by David, was "for a little while." Paul speaks about this in Philippians 2 as His setting aside the manifestation of His full Glory.  However you put it, the reality is that we have not yet seen the full Glory of Christ. We anticipate it at His second Advent. The important thing for us at this point is to understand the "why" of the incarnation. Why did God have to become man. That is clear: to "taste death", to die in our place for our sins.  That truth should lead us to place Christ where he belongs: above the angels, above all people and powers we know, as King of our lives.  He deserves the glory and honor.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Have a Seat...

The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
(Psalm 110:1-2 ESV)
The Messiah, anointed and appointed to rule and to reign.  He watches until that time.  David lived that - watching and waiting until he was on the throne. Jesus has done that.  It is a picture that affects us. It's not just about eternity.  It's about now.  Are we making Him wait for us to acknowlege His rule and reign in our lives?  Are we living like His enemies? Is His seat in the back seat?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Much More than an Angel...

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God's angels worship him.”
Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”
But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”
And to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
(Hebrews 1:1-13 ESV)
The Son.  Six Letters, one space, eternal difference.  As powerful as Creation, this One who was there when it began speaks to the world, and especially to us, His people.  The Word-made-flesh speaks endless volumes about the person of God, the power of God, and the plans of God for the sons of men - you and me. Will we listen?  The Old Testament people of God had a tendency to NOT listen to the prophets; will we NOT listen to the Son, who has come to speak to us? The Psalms, several of which are quoted here in this chapter, gave hint after hint about Who the Messiah would be, yet they were often sung without meditation, without a thought about Who He would be, why he was coming, how we should respond.  Let's pay attention to the Coming King, Who He is, why He came, and how we should respond to Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank you, Lord, for making me a part...

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8 ESV)
David looks over the wonder of God's creation, and what does he see? In the midst of it all, the greatest wonder is that God has a place for us to fit in. The son of man. What a thought - each one of us has a place that we fit into God's plan and moving picture.  David understood the wonder, but never ceased to be amazed by it.  Sadly, many of us miss it completely, thinking we are the director, screen-writer and solo star of the show.  David as well understood that The Star had not yet been born, that The Son of Man was yet to come, but that he himself also had a strong supporting role in the Son of David, Son of God show.  When David got a glimpse of the big picture he said: "Who am I?" Here he says "What am I?"  In the few moments of quiet we have today, let us be thankful that God has a part for each one of us, not only in this grand and glorious world, this set HE has constructed, but that it we have a role to play in the Story of Eternity we get to play out here and now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to be Blessed...

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2 ESV)
Tomorrow we celebrate the blessings of God, giving Him thanks for His provision of all good things.  But how do we live the other days of the year? Are we more characterized by the rebellion described in the beginning of the Psalm? Do we expect God to be our Benefactor, but turn away from "The King on the Hill"?  The way to blessing is not that complicated. It is found in the last line. Taking refuge in Him.  Submitting to Him as King, as the One who forgives, as the One with the character we lack.  It is in joyfully serving Him.  Take it from the king who wrote these words, David. He understood who he was as king, and Who was his King.  Though a king, he saw himself as the LORD's servant, put where he was for HIS purposes.  He knew blessing; he had blessing; he felt safe. Do we?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why are we doing this again???

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.
(Luke 24:44 ESV)
You're walking through the mall, fighting the crowds, listening to "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" for the twenty-seventh time, and you begin to wonder "why all the fuss of Christmas?" Do you really want to know?  As the apostles recovered from the craziness of the crucifixion and resurrection, they had a lot of questions about the Christ. They had to look back - all the way back, to the promises given since the garden, the prophecies made throughout the kings and thereafter, and, a job requiring more diligent study - the Psalms. Their quest? To see what God has been saying throughout history about The Christ, and how Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, has and is fulfilling those scriptures.  It may seem time-consuming, but it is timely, if you really want to know "Why are we doing this again?"

Monday, November 21, 2016

What did you say???

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! (2 Samuel 7:12-19 ESV)
Forever is a long time.  Kings come and kings go.  David had seen that in his own life.  As Nathan here shares with Him God's words, he is taken back, made speechless, totally humbled.  What kind of promise was this?  He had plenty of sons to choose from - too many, in fact.  But this promise was beyond that.  Sometimes it seemed to David that the promises of God went beyond the immediate, or even the near future, like his son being the one to build the temple.  It was if God was looking much further into the distance toward eternity, to a time when One of his offspring would have a kingdom that was bigger than any one could imagine. David could sense that, he says.  And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! (v. 19) This promise was bigger than David or Israel or any nation. It was for all mankind.  What a King!  What a promise.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

In Summary...

After this David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines. And he defeated Moab and he measured them with a line, making them lie down on the ground. Two lines he measured to be put to death, and one full line to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute. David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to restore his power at the river Euphrates. And David took from him 1,700 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers. And David hamstrung all the chariot horses but left enough for 100 chariots. And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down 22,000 men of the Syrians. Then David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute. And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went. And David took the shields of gold that were carried by the servants of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. And from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, King David took very much bronze. When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the whole army of Hadadezer, Toi sent his son Joram to King David, to ask about his health and to bless him because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him, for Hadadezer had often been at war with Toi. And Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold, and of bronze. These also King David dedicated to the LORD, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued, from Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, Amalek, and from the spoil of Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah. And David made a name for himself when he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. Then he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David's servants. And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went. (2 Samuel 8:1-14 ESV)
In chronological order, these victories actually happened before chapter 7 - before David had rest from all these enemies of Israel. This is a summary of those enemies. Taking a map of the day, in short, these were enemies in every direction. David left the Philistines a little sliver by the Sea, the enemies to the South very little but desert, and pushed those to the East and West so far that their neighbors paid tribute to keep David away. But the true summary is in the last verse. The LORD gave the victories. It was Him, not the courage and cunning of David. David had a history of fear and some shaky alliances when he did not seek God's direction. But now David had victory after victory as God gave him courage and wisdom on where, when and how to fight his battles. That is the summary, the key, to victorious living.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Telling questions...

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God. And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
(2 Samuel 7:18-29 ESV)
What kind of questions do we ask God?  Here David asks a couple of questions to which he already knows the answer: "Who am I?" Answer: in the presence of almighty God I am very little.  God is the one with the big plan, ultimate power, and abundant promises He is able to keep. Simply put: God is Great! Second question: "What more can I say?"  We have a lot to say - if not out loud, then in our hearts and minds.  We need to shut up and listen - not just verbally, but within.  What do we hear? What do we see? What do we know? God is good. That's all we need to know.  David then asks one final question, though not in that form. All he can ask; all we can ask, is for Him to bless us how He sees fit.

Friday, November 18, 2016

When God Redirects Our Passion...

Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.”
But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
(2 Samuel 7:1-17 ESV)
Ever since his days on the run, David had had a passion to worship in the house of the Lord.  When he finally was able to do so, he was burdened by the fact that he had a glorious house, while God had a "tent."  God was please with his passion, but redirected his plans.  In the process, he promised David far more than he could ever imagine: having an impact not just on the nation, but the world; peace in his time; assurance that his name and sons and nation would go on to have an impact after him.  God knows our hearts, and just because He does not give or do what we hope for does not mean He disapproves. It means HE has better for us.  When will we ever learn to accept that???

Thursday, November 17, 2016

So how do you feel about public worship???

As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart. And they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.
And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
(2 Samuel 6:16-23 ESV)
While David had been on the run, in hiding, the thing he missed most was not a warm cozy bed.  It was being able to worship the LORD with His people, at the site where the Ark of the Covenant of God's presence was, in his own land. Now that he was back in Israel, and had his own city, the next step was to bring back the Ark of the Covenant and resume public sacrifice and worship.  So he did, and he did so with his whole being.  Saul could have cared less when he was king, and apparently his daughter, Michal, felt the same way. She didn't get it. Do you? To be a person after God's own heart includes many things: submission, sins confessed, sacrificial servanthood, and a sincere desire to worship God together.  It is a package deal: all or nothing, take it or leave it, spiritually dead or spiritually alive. So, how do YOU feel about public worship?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Unexpected source of trouble...

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household. And it was told King David, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn. (2 Samuel 6:1-15 ESV)
David was moving forward in establishing his people as a unified nation. After routing the Philistines out of their land, the next step was to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to a place of safety and prominence. Notice that he took 30,000 soldiers to do a job that was designated for a handful of priests. Why? He expected and wanted to protect from the Philistines. But they were the least of his problems. Due to a lack of diligence and sufficient humility before God's holiness, Uzzah died and the project came to a standstill. No one was going to move the Ark until it was done right. As if often the case, our worst enemy is us: not searching the scriptures for God's instructions, charging ahead with our agenda instead of His, wanting his Holy Presence and Power, without comprehending how great and awesome He really is. May we not seek to go through this day without seeking Him and acknowledging Him first. Every day has enough trouble of its own, without us bringing more on ourselves.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Long-awaited victories...

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away. And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” And David did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer. (2 Samuel 5:17-25 ESV)
David was finally king over Israel after numerous years of waiting. It was now time to finally drive the Philistines out of Israel. Yes, there had been successful battles to keep them from overrunning the land, but the most recent war against Saul had left them dwelling in the cities and the heartland of Israel. When the Philistines realized David was no longer doing side jobs for Achish, one of their kings, but was now king of the enemy forces, he became a target. Once again, David sought direction. Now, God tells him exactly what needs to be done to drive the Philistines out once and for all. These were long-awaited victories. Waiting is often not our strongest virtue. We get a glimpse of the blessings God has for us, and we want them NOW. Don't lose heart. Keep seeking God's will, way and timing. The time will come. Wait on Him.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Settling in...

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David's soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him. And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. And David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet. (2 Samuel 5:1-16 ESV)

Finally, David arrives where he has been waiting to get: as King over all of Israel, just like God had promised. Here he settles into his new position, into a new town, into a new home, and into an old habit - accumulating women. It was a culturally-accepted practice in Canaan. Leaders would have multiple women to demonstrate the reach of their power: marriages for political alliances and treaties; beautiful concubines to say "look at me," and to develop lots of sons who would have your back, and be possible heirs to the throne. He had lots of them, which would also bring lots of problems in the future. When we arrive where we have long waited to be, it is easy for us to settle back, make compromises, and establish relationships and practices that actually violate the convictions we rested upon to get where we are. We stop thinking: "What does God want next?" What have you recently achieved that you have waited to receive? Be thankful, but don't get slack. Don't "retire" into a pattern of life that leaves hope and vision out of it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Some people just don't get it...

When Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died at Hebron, his courage failed, and all Israel was dismayed. Now Saul's son had two men who were captains of raiding bands; the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, sons of Rimmon a man of Benjamin from Beeroth (for Beeroth also is counted part of Benjamin; the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have been sojourners there to this day).
Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out, and about the heat of the day they came to the house of Ish-bosheth as he was taking his noonday rest. And they came into the midst of the house as if to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. When they came into the house, as he lay on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him and put him to death and beheaded him. They took his head and went by the way of the Arabah all night, and brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron. And they said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The LORD has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.” But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, when one told me, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?” And David commanded his young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them beside the pool at Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner at Hebron.
(2 Samuel 4 ESV)
In one event after another in the study of David, one key principle keeps reappearing: David is not going to rush becoming King.  When he had the opportunities to "take Saul out", he would not do so, nor would he allow any of his men to do so.  When someone claimed to have done so, he did not thank him, but gave him the death penalty.  When Joel killed Abner, claiming it was at least partially in support of David's kingdom, David rejected that notion. Now, when Ish-bosheth, the rival king is murdered, and reported as a "favor" to David, he is consistent with this conviction: "Not the way to do things." Are we as consistent as David with our convictions?  Even though we are surrounded by those who "just don't get it?"  We live in a culture that just does not get so many things. Are we letting them wear us down?  Getting us to accept short-cuts and justifications? We are more accountable.  As those who "get it", we need to think and act that way consistently.  Be a David. Be a Joseph. Be a Daniel. Stay true.

Friday, November 11, 2016


Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner.” And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. And the king lamented for Abner, saying,
“Should Abner die as a fool dies?
Your hands were not bound;
your feet were not fettered;
as one falls before the wicked
you have fallen.”
And all the people wept again over him. Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day. But David swore, saying, “God do so to me and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down!” And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's will to put to death Abner the son of Ner. And the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? And I was gentle today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The LORD repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!
(2 Samuel 3:31-39 ESV)
David was a guy on his way to the top.  He was destined to become king and he knew it.  But he did not allow that to harden his heart and trample people on the way.  Those around him didn't always get that.  They began to "take people out" without a thought or feeling of sorrow or regret, claiming to be doing it "for David."  In this world it is easy for us to become hardened towards the value of each and every life - to see others as in our way or to be stepped on, and cast aside when they are no longer useful to us.  We need to be able to grieve, and to do so sincerely and righteously.  David both demonstrated it and demanded it. I'm sure that everyone wasn't "feelin' it", but he wanted them to know they should. How hardened are you?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Public Service... or Personal Satisfaction?

Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace.” Then Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”
When Joab came out from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it. And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!” So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.
(2 Samuel 3:22-30 ESV)
David was finally receiving the backing of the people of Israel to be their king. He had waited for quite some time.  Most recently, Abner, general for the vying king, had switched allegiance.  He knew that David had been anointed by God, but it is unclear how true his motives were.  The same is true of Joab. He has been leading David's army to victories so that David can be confirmed as king. When he finds out about this possible "peace treaty", he objects, claiming to be protecting David from deception.  It is his "public service" to do so.  But then he turns around and recalls Abner behind David's back, and murdering him - not as a public service, but for personal revenge for his brother's death in battle. This sounds so familiar: people claiming to be "public servants", but only being in it for themselves.  This should not Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace.” Then Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”
When Joab came out from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it. And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!” So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.
(2 Samuel 3:22-30 ESV) characterize us at all as God's people.  Yes, there is a joy that comes in serving the Lord, in any capacity.  But we must not let the result become the reason for what we do.  When we do, there will be fall out, as we will see tomorrow.  We will actually do harm to the cause of Christ by our self-fulfillment. What we do, and why we do it matters.  Lord, help it to be about You today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Political Promises...

And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” And he said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face.” Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” And he returned.
And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. Now then bring it about, for the LORD has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’” Abner also spoke to Benjamin. And then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do.
When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. And Abner said to David, “I will arise and go and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.
(2 Samuel 3:12-21 ESV)
Abner had maneuvered for Ish-bosheth, son of Saul, to become king of Israel. It was not long until it was evident that he himself was the powerhouse of the king's court, but things were not going as he hoped.  So he turned to David, the opposition, to jump on board. He also worked hard to get everyone else to come along with him. He abandoned Saul's son, making big promises to David, which he seemed able to keep.  Yet the question much have crossed David's mind: "If he has back-stabbed him, what might he do to me?"  Another thought might be: "Am I really dependent on him to bring about what God has promised?"  It is good and necessary for leaders to have plans and promise to achieve them, but let us keep our heads as to if and how they will happen, and who we really trust.

Monday, November 7, 2016

How do you act when told "no"?

While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?” Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog's head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman. God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the LORD has sworn to him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.
(2 Samuel 3:6-11 ESV)
In this true tale of two kings, the house of David was getting stronger, while the house of Saul was growing weaker.  God was blessing the house of His anointed. Meanwhile, within the house of Saul, it was Abner, Saul's cousin, who was getting more powerful.  That is evidenced by his taking Saul's "woman" as his own, a pagan practice when kings transitioned power.  Ish-bosheth rightly saw this a Abner's claim to power and rebuked it.  He told him he was wrong. Abner, like many of us, did not like being told he was wrong, and decided to get revenge for being rebuked. He decided to bail out on the King he had helped get put in office. He did not like the lack of appreciation, since he was the one who had "done all the work."  Do his words sound familiar? Are they ones you have heard in your own head? Do you seek revenge by withdrawing support? Do you react when you are told you have done wrong?  Do you expect people to trust you?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Setting himself up?

And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
(2 Samuel 3:2-5 ESV)
While Joab has been busy fighting Abner and the house of Saul, David has been busy back in Hebron: having children to his multiple wives.  This practice was bad enough for the average man, as can be seen in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, and others.  But it worse for a king.  David has not even established himself as the King of Israel, and the multiple choice list for his successor is beginning to fill the alphabet.  And it doesn't stop here.  Some well-known names are yet to come.  How easy it is for us, in the pursuit of God's calling, to make decisions along the way that slow us down, trip us up, and even create problems for the next generation.  May we stay focused on what God has called us to.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Calculating the Cost of Not Finishing What You Start...

And Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, and marching the whole morning, they came to Mahanaim. Joab returned from the pursuit of Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing from David's servants nineteen men besides Asahel. But the servants of David had struck down of Benjamin 360 of Abner's men. And they took up Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father, which was at Bethlehem. And Joab and his men marched all night, and the day broke upon them at Hebron. 
         There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker. (2 Samuel 2:29-3:1 ESV)
Yesterday we looked at three men who did not finish what they started: Abner, who started the war, without wisely counting the cost; Asahel, who persistently pushed to capture Abner, but ended up losing his own life; Joab, who had Abner and his army all but captured, but relented when unsure he was doing the right thing.  The next effect was a long gradual process that drug things out toward an inevitable conclusion: David would be king, despite Abner's resistance, and with or without Asahel's self-centered heroics.  What better reminder that the best plan is to seek God's plan, and to jump on board and hold on for the full ride.  How often do we get on and off the merry-go-round, going around in circles, when we should be getting on the train and going to the next destination? How much of our lives do we waste doubting God's plan and coming up with our own? Get in; let go; enjoy the ride.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Not finishing what you start...

Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. And they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool. And Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. And each caught his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side, so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is at Gibeon. And the battle was very fierce that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.
And the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle. And Asahel pursued Abner, and as he went, he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men and take his spoil.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. And Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” But he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back. And he fell there and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still.
But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. And as the sun was going down they came to the hill of Ammah, which lies before Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. And the people of Benjamin gathered themselves together behind Abner and became one group and took their stand on the top of a hill. Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?” And Joab said, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely the men would not have given up the pursuit of their brothers until the morning.” So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men stopped and pursued Israel no more, nor did they fight anymore.
(2 Samuel 2:12-28 ESV)
In this battle, three men fail to finish what they began.  Abner was the one who started it all. He "went out", signifying a going out to battle, to start a war to take back land in Benjamin.  He was lucky to leave with his life.  Secondly, Asahel set out to kill Abner. He would not settle for anyone else; he wanted to be the one to kill the opposing general. Despite being repeatedly warned, he lost his own life. Thirdly, Joab began to pursue Abner, to capture him and end things once and for all.  But when he catches up to him, Abner's words dissuade him from his pursuit, and the battle ceased.  Three men, three failures to complete the task. On the surface, that's what appears.  But we must look to the motives.  Abner is making a case for himself and his king - that they had the right to lead, despite what God had proclaimed.  Asahel was selfishly motiviated - it was all about his glory, and not a holy calling.  Joab pauses to consider: "What am I doing pursuing my fellow Israelites? What is this civil war all about?" To be sure, he was to be fighting on behalf of God's anointed, but is this how God would have things done?  It was a question worth asking.  But the questions must start even earlier: Why am I choosing this pursuit? Is it something that would glorify God? Can I sense His leading?  If I achieve my goal, will it bring contentment? Or is it just all about me?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

There's always someone...

But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim, and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
(2 Samuel 2:8-11 ESV)
David had been running scared for years, waiting for his promised time as king. Just when it looks like things will happen, as Saul has died and the people of Judah want him to be king, someone else steps in the way.  Abner, relative and general for Saul.  He saw his career coming to an end if David became king, so he had another plan.  Smooth sailing.  It happens once in awhile, but life doesn't bring that every day forever and ever. There will always be those people and events that frustrate us, slow us down, and seem like roadblocks to our destiny. That is no time to give us, lose control, or question our quest. It means learning to wait, move forward, wait, move forward.  Then, when we are further on our journey, we can look back and see the overall progress and what God has done, and we will have a better idea of why the wait, and how those times were used by God to mold us into the stewards He wanted us to be. Wait on the LORD.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

In Common...

When they told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
(2 Samuel 2:4-7 ESV)
David requests the honor of becoming the king over Jabesh-Gilead, in addition to the people of Judah.  It seemed like a good idea. They had so much in common: they, like he, were courageous, in that they went behind enemy lines to recover and show respect for the body of Saul.  They, like he, were appreciative of the steadfast love of God, conscious of His goodness.  He, like they, respected Saul, yet it was time to move on.  It made sense, but would they?  Should he have even asked, or should he have waited for them to make the move, like he had with Judah?  Should he have sought this, or "let things happen," the way that God had brought him and Jonathan together?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Every Step of the Way...

After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.” So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. (2 Samuel 2:1-4a ESV)
David had been down - way down, geographically, emotionally, and spiritually. He was "out of Israel", on the run, almost hopeless, and making one bad decision after another without the direction of God. Then, he "found strength in the Lord His God," and began to ask Him for direction once again. From the point, God had restored his family, renewed the trust of his men, and removed Saul from the scene, opening the opportunity for him to finally become king. It was no time to make mistakes. He begins to ask God for direction - not only asking "if" or "should I?", but even "where?" and "when?" When he did so, God made the way, one step at a time. The people there were ready to accept him as King. They gathered around him. He did not need to force himself upon them. That is where we need to stay: taking everything to Him in prayer. Every step, every day. When we begin to think we know the way without asking, we get off track, heading the wrong direction. We become frustrated, angry, fearful, lacking confidence, and feeling alone, having left God behind. Get back on track. Admit you're lost and hurting. Ask for just one step at a time.