What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Being Extraordinary


The more I read and study in 1 and 2 Samuel, the more I realize all of David’s flaws. It could lessen my respect for him, but what it’s doing is encouraging me.
David felt the same emotions, committed flagrant sins, made similarly poor choices, and left a legacy for his family of mixed value and outcomes just as I do today. He was an ordinary man. The record of his life in 1 and 2 Samuel proves he was an ordinary man. He was not superhuman. He was not without grave flaws. He was not the perfect man some like to believe he was. He was ordinary.
There’s a New Testament character that is also often viewed as doing little or no wrong. Paul. Yet we have in Paul’s own words, that he was unable to do the all the things according to the Law given by Moses. He wrote Romans 7:15 after his encounter with Jesus. It says,
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (NASB)
The passage also implies that Paul knew he was unable to think and act as a perfect man. Recalling to my mind the grave injuries Paul caused for the early believers, even putting some to death, I can see his ordinariness. When I contemplate that he had disagreements with fellow-laborers, even to the point of severing relationships I see another flaw. (In Acts 15:37-40 there’s an account of some sharp disagreements with John Mark and Barnabas that had profound impact on the missionary work of those early days.)
Ordinary people. Just like me they had flaws and folly. YET, God used them in extraordinary ways. Their ultimate saving characteristics were steadfast commitment to the person and purposes of God. They may have even faltered in those commitments, yet they always returned to worshiping and obeying God.
I can be like that, too. I can continually recognize God for who He is. I can have a steadfast commitment to the purposes of God. I can and do practice worshiping God daily. And I can repent and turn back to His Word and obey it as often as I need to. Ultimately, the flaws and failings of the great men in Scripture encourage me. Just like them I can be extraordinary.
As Tom Bradford in his Torah Class notes said, “David proves he is an ordinary man but he was elevated to extraordinary by God’s decision and declaration.” God can elevate you and me if He so chooses. I need to be ready to obey and watch God make me extraordinary, too.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Priorities


My Bible studies this week overlapped. We can see some messed up priorities in David’s life. While my other study was about determining and implementing Biblical priorities.
Basically as David’s army in exile began their march into battle against Absalom and his forces, David made a firm plea to his military leaders and to each group of soldiers leaving through the gates of the city he is currently taking refuge in. “The king gave orders to Joab, Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom’ (2 Samuel 18:5, CJB). While it seems like this was a compassionate and loving thing to do, David was actually putting his family above sound military procedures that would protect David’s followers. Keeping Absalom alive was increasing the chances of a continued struggle, and more death and destruction for Israel. “David had been putting his family above his duties to Yehoveh for a very long time, and the outcome was disastrous” (Bradford, Torah Class, Lesson 27).
In Christian circles we often hear the saying “God comes first and family second.” However, many Christians make decisions based solely on what is best for their family. In the NavPress study on how to live as a mature Christian (Bearing Fruit in God’s Family), there’s two sessions on priorities. In the second part there’s a chart that places God first, followed by Family, Work, and Other. All these are realistic priorities. However, another illustration shows how our relationships with others, including our family, improve as we focus on becoming more Christ-like. The goal is to have everybody pursuing God’s interests. On each side of the base of a triangle are people, and God is at the top point. As the people get closer to God, they move up the sides of the triangle and actually get closer to each other as they do. (I wish I could draw a picture for you but I’m not that skilled on a computer.) Try diagraming this for yourself.
David’s example shows that he was not drawing closer to God but trying desperately to improve his relationship with Absalom setting aside the God guidelines he was supposed to be focusing on. It’s not wrong to want closer relationships with our family members and others. It just doesn’t truly happen until everyone is pursuing God.