Posts Tagged ‘David’

“I have plans for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

This is one of those posts that I have been sitting on for awhile.  God spoke this to me for the first time when I walked away from the career I had spent 25 years developing.  I of course wanted to know what his plan was and how it was going to play out.  What was this new vision that He was giving me?  The answer came foggily clear, “That I which I have placed in front of you.”  ??? ….and what does that mean, “That which I have placed in front of you.”  Ummm…I have 30, 60, 90 day goals and a 1, 3, 5 year plan, can you work with me?  “That which I have placed in front of you.”  Then He threw me a bone…here is what I want you to do for the next 30 days….and then I will let you know for the next 30 days.  Now this is not to say that this is God’s intended lifestyle for all (in fact I feel that it is most certainly not) but for this A type planner it was what I needed to move me to His economy.  Eleven years later it is the normal.  I have an expectation that God is going to clearly place my next task in front of me.

I believe that this is core of the Hupomone lifestyle and it is all too often lost in a world that values great sweeping vision and “out of the box” thinking.  Don’t get me wrong both of those things are wonderful but to enter the promised land sometimes you have to march around Jericho a few times and then shout and make a fool of yourself, just because God put it in front of you.  When the Israelite people first approached the promised land they were all ready for the milk and honey but they were not ready for that which God had placed in front of them.  The giants are always going to be there.  God will provide the sling and the stones but we need to pick them up and use them.  We need to be prepared to do that which God places in front of us.

Psalm 40:8 says “I delight to do your will, O my God, And Your law is written within my heart.”  David understood the importance of doing that which God placed in front of him and he knew that the way to be ready to do it was to be as intimate with God as he could be.  Our planning in this relationship is not the what, it is the Who.  David valued his intimacy with God.  This is why Paul holds David up as a wonderful example of  doing what God place in front of him.

After removing Saul, He made David their king.  God testified concerning him:  ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

Sometimes “That which God has placed in front of me” is a don’t instead of a do.  David’s friend urged him to kill Saul in the Cave when God had delivered Saul helpless before him.  David’s intimacy with God and his engagement with the Holy Spirit as God’s prophet allowed him to choose not the obvious solution but the one that God had placed in front of him.

“This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave.  Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.” Samuel 24:10

When we lose sight of what God has immediately before us, even as we tell ourselves that we are serving “the vision” that He has given us we become ineffective. Saul lost the immediacy of God’s will in the “big picture” of being king of Israel and in doing so he lost the very thing he pursued.  Samuel empowered by God responded to Saul’s loss of focus

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”  1 Samuel 15:22

David had his moments too.  Next to Goliath, he is probably most known for Bathsheba.  This is a consequence of losing focus on the things that God has placed in front you.  It is the separation of religion from doing “that which God has placed in front of me”.  We may not lose a kingdom over it but we lose our effectiveness for the Kingdom and we impede the transforming process of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  How we respond to these moments is as important as the event itself.  Saul became sullen and withdrawn from God.  David laid himself out before God in repentance and submission even as the consequence crashed around him. (2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51).  It is in the maturing of our faith that we will be able to recognize the difference between the tasks that God has placed in front of us and the allure of the world.  The temptation to attribute the allure of worldly values to the task that God has for us is very real.  Our own thoughts and desires can blur the lines.  Saul fell victim to this deception as did David and so many others.

However we are not just responsible for ourselves.  We need to follow Paul’s example of prayer and fellowship.  He had never met the Colossians and yet his love for them and desire that they grow in their relationship with God is clear.  May we have the same focus in our love for others.  It is that God given love that may more than any other thing enable us to recognize and do that thing which God has put before us.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,”  Colossians 1:9-10

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Why

I started this series some time ago but never finished it.  So I am going to present both a question and a series of answers over the next few weeks.  

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman.  I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing.  She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

 Why do you serve God?  What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all  the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them.  First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you).  Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes.  She was looking for something more intimate, more personal.  She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god.  I gave her an answer.  I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, And on your wonderful works I will meditate.  Men shall speak of the power of your awesome  acts and i will tell of your greatness.

Psalm 145:3-6

Reason 1:  God Never Ceases to Amaze Me

David served God as perhaps no other.  Yes he got to be king but he certainly did not serve God because his life was smooth and easy.  As we read his words here our first reason rings loud and clear.  David never ceased to be amazed by God.  He knew the Scriptures,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1- Pretty amazing

“So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind and drove them(the locusts) into the Red Sea”  Exodus 10:19

“…and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong East wind all night and turned the sea into dry land” Exodus 14:21

All amazing stuff but this Psalm is not the words of a man who experienced God only from the pages of Scripture, David had an intensely personal relationship with God.  God never ceased to amaze him.  In the same way Scripture speaks to us of His incredible acts throughout history.  Gideon defeats the Midianite nation with 300 men.  David slays Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” 1 Samuel 17:4  From little things like floating axe blades (2 Kings 6), to Jonah and the Whale, to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord, his death and resurrection.  Scripture amazes us with the deeds of a God who takes an active interest in His people.

God takes a young hot headed prince of Egypt and makes him the Spiritual leader of His people.  The shepherd boy is anointed to become king.  The arrogant, self indulgent businessman becomes an urban missionary….oh yeah, that’s me. (and not of course found in Scripture)  I could spend yours reciting the amazing things that we find in Scripture about our God.  I could spend hours telling you all of the amazing things that God has done in my life (some of which can be found recorded on the pages of this blog).  Some are big things but many are just day to day blessings that rise out of the nature of a personal relationship with God.

I know that if you take the time to get to know my Lord and Savior that you will be amazed too!

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”  

Joshua 3:5

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

The nature of biblical Hebrew poetry is repetitive.  This form can serve three functions.  It creates a literary elegance that is aesthetically pleasing.  It emphasizes the thought the poet is trying to convey.  It also allows the poet to clarify the thought being conveyed, particularly when the first iteration is a metaphor.  In the first two verses David offers one of the most universally recognized biblical metaphors.  In verse three he opens his heart and repeats the metaphor in the plain words of his experience. “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.”  There is a temptation to equate the green pastures and the quiet waters with the circumstances of our lives.  This can be the trap of the Nineteen Days.  We can begin to believe that the restoration of our souls and the righteousness of our lives are tied up in how things are going.  This is especially easy when thing are going great.  We read “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” and we say wow the green pastures are the thing.  As long as I am in green pastures I am going to be ok.  In fact I am going to do everything I can to stay in green pastures.  The hook is that when we do this we stop following God.  The green pastures are not about our life circumstances, they are about God.  He restores my soul.  The path along the quiet waters, the path of righteousness is not about us and where we are, it is about who is our guide.  In fact David goes on to talk about circumstances.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”  When I first read through this with the Nineteen days in mind, I thought, “Here it is, day 20, been there done that.”  But as I began to pray about it God gently told me, day 20 is no different.  Why is the rod and the staff so comforting?  The symbolize authority and power, support.  Is it that God will thunder in to the valley and beat back all the darkness?  Perhaps The Shepherd, the Jewish superhero from the comics David read as a boy would; with lightning bolts firing from the rod and the staff crashing down with the power of an earthquake.  This does not fit the metaphor.  What did the good shepherd use his rod and his staff to do?  We only need to step back to the beginning of David’s beautiful poetry, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”  Sorry no thunderous rescue.  The reality is that our circumstances do not change the behavior of our God.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me….they make me lie down in green pastures, they lead me beside still waters.  Take comfort whether in the nineteen days, the years that precede them or the days that follow, God is God, He is our great shepherd.  If you follow the direction of his rod and his staff you will find yourself in green pastures, besides still waters.  Your soul will be restored no matter how battered it is and  you will find yourself on the path of Righteousness, not by any effort of you own but by direction of the only one who can lead you home.

 

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

He leads me beside quiet waters.”

I have only been white water rafting once and it was in the middle of a terrible summer drought so that what should have been a harrowing, exciting and somewhat dangerous adventure turned out to be more of a stroll in the park on a sunny day.  I know that this same river in other seasons has been dangerous to the point of claiming lives.  The rivers and streams of David’s Israel were just as changeable.  One minute they could be quiet streams bubbling along and then a cloud burst, perhaps not even in the immediate vicinity, could swell them to deadly proportions.  The “quiet waters” is probably a reference to the many small springs throughout the land of Israel.  Cool, clean and refreshing these springs were a safe place of comfort for thirsty sheep.  God desires to lead us in places of refreshing safety; paths of restoration and righteousness that fulfill His purpose for His people.   Enjoying the rest and nutrition of the green pastures and following our Great Shepherd beside the quiet refreshing, restoring waters of His grace and love are Spiritual disciplines.  There is the temptation during the Nineteen Days to believe that we do not need to walk in the Spirit.  Everything seems wonderful….nothing could happen to steal the joy and peace we feel right.  When we place ourselves in that frame of mind we begin to rely on the circumstances of our life for our well-being instead of our Great Shepherd.  David makes it clear that the pastures and waters are not about circumstances.  “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”  Righteousness and restoration are about our relationship with God.

Here is the hook.  Since the pasture and the waters are not about circumstances, we are no less resting in green pastures on day 20 than we are on day 2.  Just because we have a situational change (even a drastic one) the reality of the Spiritual disciplines of the pasture and the waters are not impacted whatsoever!  However it does not FEEL that way!  If we could just ride the whole way on our feeling of well-being then it would not involve Spiritual discipline.  When I was holding Nisa and rejoicing in well-being as Christmas approached and we felt gifted beyond belief the pasture and the waters seemed a no brainer.  When I sat on that hospital bed with my wife’s health failing beside me and heard the word’s, “I am sorry Allana has leukemia”  and then “I am sorry but the leukemia is Philadelphia positive, without a bone marrow transplant….” it would seem that everything had changed.  The pasture vanished, the waters became bitter….or had they. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.  The valley of the shadow of death is about circumstance.  The verbs in Hebrew are all in the same tense (except for anointed).  They all indicate current and ongoing action.  The green pastures and still waters do not vanish because we are in the valley.  If we focus on His rod of guidance and his staff of protection the nourishing green grass of His Word and the refreshing waters of His Spirit remain as we walk the path of Righteousness because none of it depends on me or my circumstances.  It all depends on HIS NAME.  “And there is salvation in no * one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Enjoy the green pastures and still waters TODAY!

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

 He makes me lie down in green pastures

What a lovely picture in words.  We can all envision ourselves laying out in luxurious grass, running our hands through it and wiggling our toes.  I certainly do not want to ruin your revery but lets get back to the imagery of David’s psalm as a whole.  It is easy to do when we go back to the Hebrew.  Deshe’ Naveh, is translated “green pastures”.  The imagery is a little more direct and specific.  Deshe’ is not the color green but specifically refers to fresh grass, as opposed to withered, dry grass.  It is the kind of grass that a shepherd would recognize as healthy and nutritious for his sheep.  Naveh is a specific reference to a dwelling place for both sheep and shepherd.  Nathan the prophet tells David that it was God who took him from the sheep and the “Naveh” to make him king.  Scripture repeatedly uses this word for The Lord’s “habitation” or “dwelling place”.  Deshe’ Naveh is not about a fuzzy, feel good place, it is about a place that promotes real health and wellness for us in the presence of our great shepherd, in the presence of our God.  Like sheep we are all too ready to eat whatever toxic plants look good at the moment (yes sheep will poison themselves if left in an environment with plants toxic to them).  It is only when we follow our shepherd that we will find the Deshe’ Naveh that we so desperately need.

So by now you are probably asking, what does this have to do with the Nineteen Days?  It is easy to see and feel the Deshe’ Naveh in the sunny calm of the nineteen days.  Too often we spend the Nineteen Days wiggling our toes in the grass instead of taking in the nutrition and wellness that is the provision of the Good Shepherd.  Then when the fuzzy comfort of the sunshine is suddenly replaced by bitterness of the storm we think that the Deshe’ Naveh is gone and we run.  Like silly sheep we run from the very place of health and wellness that God has made our habitation over some wind, thunder, lightning and rain.  We are tempted to eat the toxic greenery, just because there it feels like the sun is shining.  We break our legs in the rocky crags as we run to what appears to be shelter.  Will the good shepherd track us down and beckon us back to the Deshe’ Naveh, even carry us while we heal?  Amen and Amen YES!  But he also honors our free will and if we do not surrender to the arms of the shepherd the results can be devastating to all.

I pray true health and wellness for you all.  May you always choose to rest with Your Shepherd in the Deshe’ Naveh

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

This premise is a must.  It is not a theory, a cute saying or even a prayerful wish.  It is only when you function within this Spiritual Truth without regard to apparent circumstances that you can look back at the Nineteen days without fear.  This passage would of course be out of step if it was talking about a fulfillment of all my personal desires.  The translation of the Hebrew word chacer here as “want” is unfortunate in a modern translation.  This word is really about lacking basic needs (not even cultural and certainly not the “me” generational concept of needs).  It could even be translated “become empty”.  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they lacked (chacer) ten righteous men.  The reality is that the shepherd does not serve the “wants”/desires of His flock.  He serves the needs of his flock as he guides them in His wisdom and for His purposes.  It is when we release our own will to the Shepherd that we rest in the assurance that we will never “become empty”.

 

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police dog

 

I was driving down a local road on my way home recently when I passed a car that had been pulled over by the Toledo Police Department.  Just as I passed them the officer opened the back door of his cruiser and led out a police dog.  My view then turned to the young lady in the driver’s seat.  I caught her just as she became aware of the impending visit of the police dog.  Her face was a melange of fear, guilt, regret and despair.  In that moment it captured a whole series of decisions that led her to this moment.  I couldn’t help think that she personified in that moment the plight of humanity before a righteous God.  She was Adam and Eve hiding in the garden from the voice of God (Genesis 3:8); the mass of humanity pounding on the door of the Ark (Genesis 7:21); David standing before Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:1); Ananias and Sapphira standing before Peter (Acts 5).  Granted the implications of her plight do not approach the consequences in each of these biblical examples, yet I can only imagine that her heart was very much in the same place.  I cannot speak to her knowledge of God or to the potential relationships  that have spoken truth to her.  I will probably never know the final consequences of this moment in her life.

This is a moment that we have all experienced.  We have all had those “sniffed out” moments.  We look in the mirror and see the dog that will “sniff out” our dishonesty, our greed, our anger, our sin making its way toward the vehicle of our life. Our hearts experience the same mix of emotion that I saw on our unnamed young lady’s face.  What I could not see, and what makes all the difference is what her soul (and ours) does with the emotions of being “sniffed out”.  Sin is universal and an unavoidable result of the human condition. (Romans 3:23)  The Holy Spirit is the ultimate “police dog”, perfect in His ability to sniff out and expose sin. (John 16:7-10) However the big difference is the Holy Spirit desperately loves the sinner. (John 3:16) When the Holy Spirit sniffs out sin, he wraps us in His arms and does His best to lead us to repentance and redemption.  God sacrificed His son Jesus Christ to ensure that this could happen.  We only have to reach out to Him and “take the deal”.  When we take it, the sentence is an eternity of praising God in perfect relationship with Him.  It is a deal that cannot be scammed, tricked or manipulated.  There is no negotiation.  It is the ultimate deal, offered by the one true God with only one alternative, death. (Romans 6:23)

God calls us to focus on the Gospel, the good news when the Holy Spirit convicts.  Hopelessness and terror are the message of the Devil.  He works to turn the work of the Holy Spirit into condemnation and despair.  Paul recognized this when he penned one of my favorite chapter in the Bible, Romans 8:

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you from from the law of sin and of death.”  Romans 8:1-2

It is Satan’s greatest desire that we suffer the fear, the despair of the Law, twisting the loving act of conviction into the hateful act of condemnation. Paul goes on to speak of this very Holy Spirit that sniffs out our sin, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba Father!'” Romans 8:15  

Imagine with me for a moment that even as that police dog sniffs out her sin, the young woman throws her arms around his neck and confessing her own blindness lets him lead her out of despair into the light of adoption, a light brighter and more full of hope than the lights of a thousand police cars.

 

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