Adonai Jehovah – The Giver – The One Who Pours Out

As we approach the season of giving, I’m reminded of the ultimate Giver who continues to out-give us all. His very name means “The One who pours out.”

During our first years of marriage my husband and I often tried to out-give each other. Our giving started out with loving intentions, but it didn’t take long for our practice to become foolishly insane. Eventually, we realized that it was the simple day to day giving of ourselves that reaped the greatest relational dividends. Over the years, we developed an ever deepening appreciation for each other as we increasingly valued the moments we shared.

These lessons came with much struggle. Yet, the joy of daily serving each other in a thousand little ways out measured the futile task of finding the perfect gift to demonstrate inexpressible gratitude.

The Inspiration

Around $10 billion flows into charitable donations annually in Canada alone. Thirty percent of those donations occur during the Christmas season. Why? It’s recognition of the Giver, the One who poured out His very best to us all through the Gift of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

That most precious of gifts, generously given by a loving Father to us, His needy children, continues to inspire giving globally. Of course, no monetary giving compares to God’s ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus. Yet, out of gratitude, humanity imitates God’s example becoming givers and thereby meeting the needs of others. Even in this small way, we reflect His compassionate heart.

Adonai, one of the names for God, means “Giver or “One who pours Himself out.” Giving is who He is, not just what He does. It is an attribute of His nature.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

Out-Giving the Giver

David also captured a bit of God’s heart wanting to give something back to Him. David wondered how he could live content in “a house of cedars” (1 Chronicles 17:1) while God inhabited a tent. He wanted to build a house for God to dwell in, giving God the best he could.

Just like in our marriage, the desire to give backfired for David. As soon as he disclosed his aspiration, God turned the tables out-giving David’s greatest intentions. First though, God reminded David of his humble beginnings.

“…I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock,
and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you have gone,
and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.”
2 Samuel 7:8-9

David’s desire to give reflected God’s own gracious favor. His capacity and opportunity to give originated from the heart of The Giver. In response to David’s intention, God opened His treasure trove of promises offering even more gifts of grace, to not just David but to all his descendants.

“...I will make your name great,
like the names of the greatest men on earth.
And I will provide a place for my people Israel
and will plant them so that they can have
a home of their own and no longer be disturbed…
I will also give you rest from all your enemies…
the LORD himself will establish a house for you…
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you…
And I will establish his kingdom…
I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…
But my love will never be taken away from him…”
2 Samuel 7:9-16

Relationship

Can you imagine how David felt in that moment? His intended gift to God held no comparison to what God now presented back to him. Immediately, David sensed an even greater awe and reverence for the God he thought he knew.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD…”
2 Samuel 7:18

Something became more intimate about their relationship. Deeper revelation of the Giver above all givers permeated that moment. Seven times in the next ten verses David refers to God as “Sovereign LORD” — Adonai Jehovah, the One who continually pours Himself out to the unworthy and undeserving.

I’ve experienced brief encounters with God, coming into His presence for no purpose other than to offer my little in worship to Him. Consistently, He turns the tables and lavishes upon me such a sense of His favor and grace it has left me in a weeping heap — speechless and helpless.

Though undefinable, something supernatural triggers a divine flow through even our limited imitation of the heart of The Giver. He sweeps in with love that will never be taken away.” He plants us secure in Him “no longer disturbed” as He welcomes us to come and sit close. Over and over again, God gives us the gift of His Presence!

Adonai Jehovah

Adonai Jehovah speaks first of relationship, either as Master and servant, or as Husband and wife. Both a slave and a wife in biblical times were “not their own,” but rather bought with a price. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily they became the property of their lord, fully dependent upon His faithfulness. But the Master made the first move through covenant willingly pledging Himself to sustain, keep and provide.

Paul and the other apostles considered it the highest honor to be known as a servant of the Lord, their beloved. In the Old Testament, Adonai Jehovah, signified a person’s hope in every weakness and encouragement in times of great struggle. God’s covenant presence guaranteed security and favor.

When everything around Isaiah seemed to have reached its darkest most desperate level, he says,

“In the year that King Uzziah died,
I saw the LORD (Adonai),
high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
Isaiah 6:1

In times of despair, Adonai comes giving Himself in the most intimate of communion with His people.

“For your Maker is your husband
the LORD Almighty is his name —
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.”
Isaiah 54:5

The images of God’s loving care to his bride abound throughout the Bible, lavishly providing for her, extending all He is and has for her benefit.

The Giver

Just as the Lord loved us and gave Himself to us, He desires that we now give ourselves to Him. This personal relationship between the Giver and His people flows with intimate and mutual confidence.

“They that know His name will put their trust in HIm.
And they that trust in Him shall never be confounded.”
– Andrew Jukes

Adonai came to humanity over two thousand years ago, pouring Himself out in complete servanthood — through life and death — that we might give ourselves back to Him. The best and greatest Gift has already been given. In receiving Him, we, like David, enter into a new sense of reverence and ever deepening fellowship with Him.

Adonai, the Giver, pours Himself out to a world in need of The Gift that all earth’s riches could never purchase. In both the giving and receiving resides great joy.

A Time to Dance – Lavish, Unrestrained Worship, Warfare and Praise

It’s time to dance!  The bible affirms dance, both individually and corporately, as a significant and powerful expression of worship, celebrating God’s presence. Many Christians around the world freely worship God through dance. North America perhaps lags a little behind, however.

Clinical studies have shown the positive effects of dance for both physical and mental health. One study using MRI scans showed that even people watching dance “activated the same neurons that would fire if they themselves were dancing.” Is that why dance mobilizes the Body of Christ to deeper levels of worship?

Even today, worship leaders echo Solomon’s words, “Everyone should dance!”

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
…a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Over twenty five years ago, I stood awestruck as I watched worship dance for the first time. I had danced before God in the privacy of my own basement many times, but to see it as a public form of worship stirred something deep within me to pursue worship in every dimension.

It’s Time

The first bible reference to corporate dance in worship involved over a million people. It was led by a woman over 85 years old!

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister,
took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her,
with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the LORD; for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.’ ”
Exodus 15:20,21

This brother-sister dual of Moses and Miriam led the greatest worship service ever conducted. On the banks of the Red Sea, they watched their mortal enemy floating dead on the waves. Four hundred and thirty years of oppression broken! (Ex 12:40)

From slavery to freedom,
oppression to deliverance,
poverty to abundance,
captives no more!

When I remember what God has done in my life, separating my past from my present, I can’t help but break into worship. He released me from a inescapable pit, shattering the chains of addictions too strong for me to break. He softened my hardened heart. This mind clouded with depression, He renewed. He filled me with a passion to live sold-out for Him.

For me, it is time to dance!

Everyone Together

David was also lifted “out of the depths.”

“You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and
clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises
and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.”
Psalm 30:11-12

Israel knew how to dance through oppression. Dancing as joyous praise weaves throughout the psalms.

“Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
Jeremiah 31:13

Sometimes dance expresses joyous gratitude toward God. At other times, God himself inspires and motivates believers to dance. Either way, it is time to dance!

God of Movement

The very first verse in the bible describes the Holy Spirit actively moving over the void establishing rhythm.

“In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth.
Now 
the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Genesis 1:1-2

Hovering describes an eagle fluttering over her young, shaking and trembling, vibrating and moving. By divine strategy and in preparation for creation, Holy Spirit actively moved, fluttered and shook. Then God spoke the elements into existence.

In preparation to creative release, Holy Spirit knew it was time to dance!

Bringing in the Presence

Perhaps, David best illustrates another purpose for dance. He longed for the Ark of God’s Presence to return to Jerusalem. His first attempt failed with Uzzah losing his life, but David didn’t give up.

“Wearing a linen ephod,
David was dancing before the LORD
with all his might,
while he and all Israel
were bringing up the ark of the LORD
with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
2 Samuel 6:14-15

David danced “before the LORD with all his might.” He poured himself out in lavish praise with dance as an offering unto God. Dressed as a priest, the king led. All Israel followed.

Extravagant, vulnerable worship is risky. Some, like David’s wife, will misunderstand such devotion, rejecting what God calls pure and beautiful.

David remained unwavering,

“…I will celebrate before the LORD.
I will become even more undignified than this,
and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”
2 Samuel 6:21-22

For those desiring to usher in the Presence of God, the time to dance can be costly.

Collaborative Dance

Zephaniah reveals God in collaborative dance with His Bride, Israel. First, “Daughter Zion” celebrates in her God.

Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!”
Zephaniah 3:14

Shouting aloud and other whole-hearted expressions of adoration and worship becomes contagious.  Expressions of utter joy radiate from faces turned God-ward. The word “rejoice” means jumping for joy, triumphant leaping forth.”

Worship includes quiet, solitary encounters with God. Instrumental, vocal and dance movement also create beautiful expressions of adoration to the Lord as a demonstrating of worship.

How does God respond to such extravagant worship?

“The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

God, the Mighty Warrior, rises with great delight and absolute joy. He breaks into twirling and spinning “over you with singing.” Am I exaggerating? Not at all! “Rejoice” here means to be “bright, cheerful, having great joy, twirling and spinning.”

When God rises in collaboration to our frail but expressive worship, dancing breaks forth on earth and in heaven!

Warfare Dance

Dance also fights spiritual battles.

“Praise and worship is the highest form of warfare
that is possible against the enemy of our soul.
Worshiping God…is the best form of warfare —
refusing to give the enemy our time or attention!”
Called to Flag

The united activation of people in extravagant praise and adoration to God, ushers in God’s presence in powerful ways. Although biblical flags and banners were not used in the same context that dancers use them today, dancers often symbolically use flags and banners as instruments of worship movement.

When dancing and flagging is used as an expression of worship to God, it is a powerful, non-verbal declaration of love and adoration to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

David’s wife Michal misunderstood David’s worship and criticized him. As a result she remained barren all her life. (2 Sam. 6:23) God takes worship seriously. He honors and protects those who without reservation give Him all their worship.

“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength
and with all your mind.”
Luke 10:27

The dance of worship truly includes all these aspects. Perhaps for all of us, it is time to dance.

**********

(Special thanks to RAC Worship Dance Team for their inspiring movements through dance and breathing life into my worship. Photo credits Amanda Chernesky)

Second is Better Than First! When Second is Best!

No one intentionally aims to rank in second position. In fact, the desire to excel begins surprising young. For most people, expectations to consistently rank in top place is unrealistic. Is there ever a time when second is actually an advantage? Can second be best after all?

I have a lot of experience at second place! I was second oldest among my siblings. Scholastically I worked hard to achieve good grades, sometimes even coming in second best. At track meets the majority of ribbons earned were red, the reward for second. I even entered a writing competition in grade school. You guessed it — second place!

“Whatever is worth doing is worth doing right,” was my father’s motto for excellence. He was right! It is always a good practise to aim at doing our best.

Whatever your hand finds to do,
do it with all your might…”
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Trying for first! Achieving second!

Work willingly at whatever you do,
as though you were working for the Lord
rather than for people.”
Colossians 3:23

Often our best efforts don’t get us to the finish line the fastest, merit the achievement we hoped, or gain academic excellence. Then what?

The Issue of Pride

Jacob’s firstborn, and the one who should have received the birthright, was Reuben. But God rejected him for committing adultery with his father’s concubine. Simeon and Levi in vengeful anger annihilated an entire village. They too were checked off the list of eligible candidates for first place.

Jacob preferred Joseph’s son Ephraim for the honour of top choice. But God saw things differently!

“Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah…”
Psalm 78: 67-68

Why was Ephraim rejected as “first choice”?

You go first! I'll go second!

His name means “double fruitfulness“! What is more, the tribe of Ephraim was acclaimed for their skilled and mighty warriors. (1 Chron 12:30) Sounds like a top qualifier to me!

As we follow history, we see Ephraim’s descendants become overly proud of their abilities. On several occasions, they were more than a little upset about being excluded from battle or shunned from being chosen first. Pride, rebellion and disobedience enjoy cohabitation. The tribe of Ephraim accepted this ugly triad which ultimately led them away from God.

“Ephraim is joined to idols! Leave him alone!”
Hosea 4:17

Why Judah?

But why did God choose Judah? Judah was Jacob’s fourth son from his first wife Leah  — the wife he did not love. Jacob had two wives, two concubines, 12 sons and a daughter. To describe family life as dysfunctional would be a gross understatement!

First or second? Depends on the direction you're going!

In comparison to his older brothers, Judah would never be considered “righteous”. He had his own set of deviant behaviours! So why Judah?

Maybe, his mother started it!

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved,
he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.
 
Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
She named him Reuben, for she said,
“It is because the Lord has seen my misery.
Surely my husband will love me now.”
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son
she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved,
he gave me this one too.”
So she named him Simeon.
Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son
she said, “Now at last my husband
will become attached to me,
because I have borne him three sons.”
So he was named Levi.
Genesis 29:31-34

Break Through

Second place is one thing; second place to a younger sister is unbearable. Especially when you share the same husband! Leah did everything she could to earn her husband’s favour. Nothing worked! She somehow reconciled herself to ever-present rejection, dwelling in the land of unloved.

It's my turn to be first!

Only those who have experienced such an agonizing existence, can appreciate her brave strength to praise God in the midst of her unending storm of pain.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son
she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”
So she named him Judah.”
Genesis 29:35

Sacrificial praise extended in the midst of unbearable grief! Leah gave birth to more than a son. She brought forth undaunted worship, courageously choosing to turn her gaze away from people to God, Adonai, her Lord.

Judah’s birth was a turning point for Leah.

Another Second

Follow the family tree down a few generations and we come to David.

When the Israelites demanded a king, God agreed and sent Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king to rule over his people. (1 Sam 10) Saul, however, proved himself unfaithful being far more concerned with what people were thinking about him than how he stood before God.

“… Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:23

Who is king now?

David’s father, Jesse, didn’t consider his young son even a remote possibility when Samuel came to anoint the future king. But God saw in David the perfect candidate to lead his people.

“So Samuel took the horn of oil
and anointed him in the presence of his brothers,
and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD
came powerfully upon David...”
1 Samuel 16:13

Undeniably, David as second king exceeding the first!

First and Second

The disciples felt an urgency to replace Judas Iscariot. They prayed, cast lots, and confidently chose Matthias. (Acts 1:24-26) God’s choice wasn’t on their list of applicants — Saul of Tarsus! The persecutor of the church, murderer of men, women and children? Saul? Yep, Saul! After Judas the traitor, Saul didn’t appear to be any step up, but he was. The second ultimately became the greatest Apostle of all, planting many churches and writing a large chunk of the New Testament.

Resting in place!

There is One “second” who is even greater. His name is Jesus. Jesus? Second? How could the Lord of all possibly be second?

 “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”;
the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
The spiritual did not come first,
but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
The first man was of the dust of the earth;
the second man is of heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15:45-47

The first Adam sinned in the garden gaining for all mankind death while losing most everything else. Through his death and resurrection, the second Adam, Jesus, restored all the first forfeited.

“But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Corinthians 15:57

There you have it!

After reading this, I know beyond a doubt that sometimes second so far exceeds the first, it is unbelievable to conceive it was ever second. In fact, Jesus was always God’s first plan, His only plan, His best plan.

Can second be best after all? Absolutely!

 

 

Free from all Fear! Psalm 34 – Is Fearless Living Possible?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in North America. For many people, living free from fear is an unrealistic expectation. Is fearless living possible? What would it look like? In Psalm 34, David hands us the key to overcoming all fear.

Believe it or not, there are more than one hundred phobias people experience. Many we can easily relate to: acrophobia (the fear of heights), ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes), mysophobia (the fear of germs, and arachnophobia (the fear of spiders).

Several years ago my daughter-in-law took possession of an inlaid willow frame I had made. She wanted to use it for a mirror. Since we had an unused large mirror, we both proceeded to the basement to cut it to the appropriate size. The first edge cut perfectly! As I was gently under-tapping the second cut, she frantically swung her arms in a wide flailing motion sending the mirror and tools flying through the air. A spider had appeared! She panicked!  The mirror shattered against the far wall. I laughed! (Sorry to the rest of you arachnophobics, I couldn’t help it!)

Fear can sometimes cause us do unusual things.

Positive Fear

Fear can be positive. In fact, it is essential to our survival! Fear warns us of impending danger. A certain amount of fear increases adrenaline flow helping us perform demanding tasks better.

I read once that Alfred Nobel awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before and he died a very rich man.” The obituary should have been for his brother, but in error Alfred’s name appeared instead. Alfred was afraid this would indeed be the assessment of his life so he initiated the Nobel Peace Prize, the award for those who foster peace! Fear led Alfred Nobel to rewrite his life’s work!

God Uses Cowards

There are 365 bible references encouraging us, to be courageous. One for every day of the year! The bible is full of accounts of God’s ability to use even the fearful, however.

  • Gideon is found hiding in a winepress, afraid of the Midianites (Judges 6,7)
  • Moses afraid of his own people and Pharoah was unwilling to obey God without help. (Exodus 3 & 4)
  • Ninety year old Sarah, fearful of promises long delayed lied to God about laughing at the news that she would conceive a child. (Genesis 18)
  • Jonah was afraid God would be merciful, so he ran from his assignment. (Jonah 1 & 2)

There were just as many who missed their opportunity because of their phobias:

  • Ten out of twelve scouts sent to explore Canaan infected the camp with fear of giants and strong cities. (Numbers 13 & 14)
  • The rich young ruler, afraid of losing his wealth and comfortable lifestyle, refused to follow Jesus (Luke 18:18-23)

Do Not Worry

Jesus encouraged the people,

” … do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink
or about your body, what you will wear …
Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes?
See how the flowers of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin.
… not even Solomon in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,
… will he not much more clothe you
— you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …
your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
Matthew 6:25-33

For the majority of the world’s population concern for the basic essentials of life is constantly present! The wealthy minority worry about protecting their possessions, a secure retirement, the next vacation, and pursuing dreams.  Many in Jesus’ audience were struggling daily for survival.

Jesus frames this passage with wisdom,

” … store up for yourselves treasures in heaven
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow …”
Matthew 6:20 & 34

All sufficiency is in God alone. He can and does give us the ability to create wealth and wisdom to know how to use it, but ultimately everything is His and comes from Him.

Free from all fear!

David’s words echo the thought,

Lord! I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me!
My lips are full of perpetual praise.
I’m boasting of you and all your works,
so let all who are discouraged take heart.
Join me, everyone! Let’s praise the Lord together.
… make him famous!
Let’s make his name glorious to all.
Listen to my testimony: I cried to God in my distress
and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears!
Psalm 34:1-4

When did David write such joy filled praise? When he was afraid!

To escape from Saul’s death threats David ran toward Achish king of Gath. Because David was famous for his military exploits, hiding wasn’t easy!

“David …  was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath.
So he pretended to be insane in their presence;
and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman …”
1 Samuel 21:12,13

The Right Fear

In the midst of justifiable fear, David “sought the LORD.” Relief came! Courage was restored! He was courageous not because he chose to be brave, but rather because he sought God in the midst of his fear.

As a matter of fact, David recognized how deficient his courage was,

“This poor man called, and the LORD heard him:
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those
who fear him, and he delivers them.”
Psalm 34:6,7

The LORD, Jehovah, the self-existent, all powerful, eternal God is big enough to wipe away all fear and circle his trembling ones with protection. In Him is unrattled security!

The Human Factor

Let’s be honest, being afraid is something we all face. In agreeing with David’s assessment of our “poor” condition, we rightly position ourselves before God who fiercely defends, protects and supplies us with needed courage.

Fear the LORD, you his holy people
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
Psalm 34:9-10

Jesus said it this way: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.”

When fear is centred in God alone, there indeed is freedom. Fearless living is possible after all!

**********

Further Reading:

The Righteous are as Bold as a Lion – Survive and Thrive

Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do

 

 

The Friendship Model – David & Jonathan

Most of my life has been lived in a rural farming community where friendships run deep and long. When my husband and I sensed God was moving us to the city, we had many questions. Now looking back, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the new friendships developed. David & Jonathan form a godly model of mutual friendship.

In the last few weeks, one of my best friends has taken flight and headed south permanently. It is an opportunity I don’t want her to miss. However, my heart is filled with a mixture of joy and sadness, longing and releasing, holding on to friendship while letting go.

Friendship is walking together through life!

Friendships are as varied as the people forming the relationship, each a unique blend of the personal and corporate individuality.

Friendship Loves

Think about your closest friend. Where did you meet? What were the surrounding circumstances? Your friendship probably didn’t begin like Jonathan’s meeting of David.

David had just finished slaying Goliath, the harassing giant. The proof was his head tucked not so neatly under David’s arm. How is that for an image?

King Saul had just called David in for a personal interview. As soon as “Dad” was done, prince Jonathan introduces himself,

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.”
I Samuel 18:1

Why such an instant connect between David and Jonathan? Jonathan, too, was a proven mighty warrior. As Jonathan looked at this half boy, not quite man, full of godly audacity, he loved him.

Jonathan loved David’s faith-filled reliance on God. He loved is courage, wit and agility. Jonathan loved David deeply and fully. There was an instant connection!

Friendship takes time to develop!

The strength of the cord within friendship is love – a love beyond self!

“Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself.”
1 Samuel 18:3

Friendship is Generous

There were some aspects of this friendship that may seem logical, but not all. Friendship gives generously!

Jonathan was so committed to David, he willingly surrendered everything.

Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing
and gave it to David, along with his tunic,
and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
1 Samuel 18:4

Every symbol of sonship and royalty, Jonathan gave freely to his friend. In this one act, they became equals. Every instrument of self-advancement, self-protection and self-preservation was yielded.

The unity of genuine friendship embodies preferring another above yourself.

Friendship Defends

Increasing unpredictable and emotionally unstable, Saul planned to kill David. Such reasoning was beyond Jonathan’s ability to comprehend. To protect David, Jonathan stepped into the dangerous gap.

“Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father.”
1 Samuel 20:32

Friends grow together!

Saul hurled the spear intended to kill David at his own son! Jonathan bore the brunt force of his father’s unleashed anger. His father was beyond reason!

“…They kissed each other and wept together
but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,
for we have sworn friendship with each other
in the name of the LORD..”
1 Samuel 20:41-42

What a beautiful illustration demonstrating the sacrifice between friends.

Friendship Strengthens

For fifteen years, David was on the run from Saul’s deadly intent.

“…Day after day Saul searched for him…”
1 Samuel 23:14

How do we help a friend is in distress? You know the kind! The day after day, relentless, nagging, intruding, no-hope-in-sight kind of trial!

I love this part of the story! Saul with his hundreds of expert warriors, trackers, and interrogators could not find David, but  friendship does. How far did Jonathan go to find his friend? How many caves did he search?

Friends stand together!

He ultimately went to the Desert of Ziph where David was hiding. Ziph means “melting”. Jonathan knew that his friend was in need. Perhaps faith was melting! Maybe courage was melting! The heat of the desert melts resolve, purpose and even divine calling.

“…Saul had come out to take his life.”
I Samuel 23:15

The enemy is always out to destroy, but friendship speaks life!

Friendship Encourages

The investments of friendship yields in multiplied measure. Friendship seeks to draw others into the fullness of all God has for them.

“Jonathan went to David at Horesh
and helped him find strength in God…
My father will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel…”
1 Samuel 23:16-17

Kingship should have been Jonathan’s portion, yet he reinforced the God call on David’s life. He reminded him of Samuel’s anointing and prophecy of kingship. Jonathan helped David look beyond the cave back to the palace. Beyond the tangled present to divine future!

Each time these two meet, we read:

“The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 23:18

Friendship endures through the seasons!

Friendship went beyond mutual satisfaction or personal gratification to life-long commitment.

Friendship Endures

You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. Saul and Jonathan died in battle. David did become king. However, David grieved the loss of his friend – a grief that would not be solaced.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness
for Jonathan’s sake.’ ”
2 Samuel 9:1

“Yes, Mephibosheth!” was the response.

David quickly had Jonathan’s crippled son brought to him. He restored his inheritance of land and provision. David also gave Jonathan’s grown son a place at his own table. In other words, David took Mephibosheth as his own son.

Though Jonathan was no longer alive, David found a way to honour and show love to his friend. Friendship endures even into generations!

Relationship’s Key

It is the context of friendship that sustains all viable relationships. Friendship is the unbroken cord holding fast personal relationships of parent and child, peer to peer, and husband with wife. It is the bridge often spanning generations, ethnicity, status, and gender.

The greatest context of friendship ever is God reaching down to humanity.

I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you
.”
John 15:15

Don’t miss it! Jesus, the Lord of all calls us friend.

This brings me to my knees in humble disbelief and incomprehensible joy!

The covenant example of friendship between David and Jonathan is an image of the enduring friendship we have in Christ. We are as unworthy as the shepherd boy receiving the princes garments. He took the violent swing of death over our lives on the cross.

In our own desert of “melting”, Christ comes with the word of strength and encouragement, “you are My friend.”

With arms stretched wide, Jesus extends to us the profound simplicity and unparalleled favour of friendship! What a blessing to offer it back to Him in return.

 

 

 

Trophies of Victory! Bring the Trophy Home!

Victory

The word trophy means something different to each of us. Trophies are reminders and evidence of achievement or merit. Sometimes extraordinary achievement!

Today children are often given trophies simply for participating, regardless of their effort or achievement. When I grew up, awards were rare! The process of effort, defeat and success moved one to the place of excellence and recognition.

Victory

In our family, we have hunters and fishermen searching for the big one, athletes working to excel in sports, diligent scholars achieving academic excellence, race car drivers, musicians, writers and artists. Many have received trophies; their efforts are worthy of acknowledgment.

None of these qualities are in my bible reading today.

Lion and Bear

Initially, we don’t know much about our trophy winner except he was insignificant to his father and despised by his brothers. Samuel came to anoint God’s choice for future king. Jesse brought each of his sons to Samuel except for his youngest.

David remained in the fields “tending the sheep“, until Samuel insisted on seeing him.

Send for him‘ we will not sit down until he arrives.”
I Samuel 16:11

Much to everyone’s surprise, God confirms His choice in David, “Rise and anoint him’ this is the one!”

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him
in the presence of his brothers,
and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD
came powerfully upon David…”
I Samuel 16:13

Anointing matters! Whether playing his harp before the king or during the long nights watching the sheep, Holy Spirit was with David in a powerful way.

Bear and Lion

David wouldn’t allow either the stealth or fierceness of lion and bear to rob him of his lambs. Both he “seized by the hair”, stuck and killed!

I imagine David did not waste such opportunity! I think he skinned both and dragged them home as personal trophies of success! When he would snuggle under the warmth of the bear hide or look at the defeated lion, courage and faith would rise stronger in him.

A Head

“David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem;
he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.”
I Samuel 17:54

Seems gruesomely bazaar to me!

When Saul talked to David after the battle, he had Goliath’s bloody head tucked neatly (or maybe not so neatly) under his arm. He wasn’t about to let go of it!

“As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine,
Abner took him and brought him before Saul,
with David still holding the Philistine’s head.”
I Samuel 17:57

He took that head to Jerusalem, the City of Peace! Peace was impossible while this

God cursing, tongue-wagging,
intimidating, and belittling
leader of the enemy’s army was
antagonizing David’s people.

Goliath’s head was a vivid reminder of God’s supernatural intervention through someone who was “little more than a boy.” It remained a trophy of God’s ability to completely silence the enemy!

Immaturity and inexperience are never disqualifiers for God's team! Faith is the only requirement! Click To Tweet

Immaturity and inexperience are never disqualifiers for God’s team. Faith is the only requirement! David was not focused on His own ability or inability, but rather on Who God is.

“…the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel…”
I Samuel 17: 45

The Weapons

I previously envisioned David taking only Goliath’s sword. The giant came with more than one weapon.

“…You come against me with sword and spear and javelin…”
I Samuel 17:45

Goliath was an experienced and fully armed opponent.

The sword would be used in close combat situations, the spear was like a jousting lance. The lance had a further reach and would sometimes even be thrown. The last instrument of destruction was a javelin cinched between his shoulder blades; it could be thrown for a considerable distance.

Trophy Weapon

David picked them all up and took them home with him! It wasn’t enough to kill the bearer of the weapons. David made sure they would never be used against him or his people again! The enemy would no longer have access to these tools of destruction!

David became skilled with every weapon the enemy had brought against him. He would be a powerful warrior and military leader. These became instruments of God’s anointed servant to bring strategic victory in battles that lay ahead.

Take The Trophy Home

I’m not sure where you are at today. Some I know are in the midst of extreme battles of various kinds.

You may feel immature and untrained to face what is ahead. We can all learn from David.

Though the king offered him full military garb, David humbly refused and chose to go with what he was familiar with,

“Then he took his staff in his hand,
chose five smooth stones from the stream,
put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and,
with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
I Samuel 17: 40

In your weakness, you may feel like you are facing a giant with nothing more than a wooden staff, a handful of stones, a bag, and sling.

Yet under the anointing of God, with fixed gaze upon His greatness, it is enough. Take courage and approach your adversary! God is able!

Take courage and approach your adversary! God is able! Click To Tweet

When your giant falls, take the trophy home with you!

__________

Sign up here!

__________

More reading below!

The New Math – A New Mindset with The Mind of Christ

What To Do When The Answer is “No”

When the Answer is No

My most difficult times, and yet the best of seasons, is when God’s answer is “no”. What should our response be in those moments of prayer when the answer is, “no”?

This morning I read of someone of faith who received such an answer.

His heart was right,
motivational clean
vision correct
finances in place
detailed plans divinely inspired!

And the answer remained the same,

“You are not to build a house for my Name…”
I Chronicles 22:8

Blueprints

Then God gave his reason for the “no”. God always has good reason when “no” is a far better than “yes”. He is not mean or cruel; even in his “no” there is always love and mercy.

“I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the LORD…” (14) “Great pains” groan the words. We have all painfully

pushed forward against the unmovable
bandaged broken knees and wounded hearts
pushed back tears of agony and rejection
pressed down frustration and disappointment.

Few have not suffered for the sake of others or the cross. Mine pain a shadow of others; others miniature mine. All of us have paid pain’s price to move forward, if but even at tiny step.

The Trend

In the “no” came an incredible opportunity for David! He could stand at open window and breathe deep of the refreshing scent of no’s grace or follow the trend of others:

  • turn your face to the wall and plead with God like Hezekiah
  • go back to bed, get angry, sulk and pledge a hunger strike like Ahab
  • throw in the towel and hope for death like Elijah

Hitting a Brick Wall

I could go on because the bible is full of illustrations of raw humanity in the face of disappointing “nos”.

Seeing God’s Perspective

David opened his eyes enough to see things from heaven’s point of view. Not easy in our upside down thinking! David chose to say, “Yes” to God’s, “No!”

“Yes, Solomon is the one!” echoed David to the heart and will of God, “Solomon will do what I will not.” Why? Because Solomon was

“a man of peace and rest” (9)
in relationship with The Father (10)
walked in God ordained authority (10)
had discretion and understanding (12)
obedient to the law (13)
strong and courageous (13)

Sounds like an excellent candidate to me! Wouldn’t we all love to be surrounded by women and men with this kind of supreme character? Good choice God!

Sometimes it is only in hindsight that we see what a great decision God’s “no” has been in our lives! It is at that point that our reluctant “yes” becomes a very thankful “yes”.

Pass It On

So David came into wholehearted agreement with the will of God blessing his son

in prayer(11)
with direction (12)
in financial resources (14)
with labourers (15)
commissioning his work (16)
commanding leaders to support him (17)

Silver & Gold

In every feasible way David gave Solomon the instruction, the authority and resources to walk out the vision. He held nothing back! What was his, with open arms, he gives liberally to his son. Then he throws the biggest commissioning party ever; the whole nation celebrates the “no” over one life with a profound and joyous “yes”!(Check it out in I Chronicles 29.)

Final Word

“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking
the LORD your God.
Begin to build….”
I Chronicles 22:19

In my mind’s eye, I see this father hugging his son and placing a firm pat on his back, “You can do! Go for it!”

Reminds me of another Leader hundreds of years later,

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26

And the tradition carried on! We see it again with Paul and Timothy, with Barnabas and Mark, Priscilla and Aquilla with Apollos. It is God’s intention for us to join others younger in the faith, or not fully mature in their understanding – equipping, motivating, encouraging and enabling them to go higher and further than us!

What a joy it is; a joy that reflects God’s heart! It is what He is doing in us all!

Remember

David didn’t waste vision or passion; he passed it on, even when God’s answer was, “No!”

Solomon built the temple and experienced the reward on the back of his father’s faithfulness. Without his father support would he have achieved such personal success?

May we always remember those who have paved the way for us

breaking through glass ceilings
breaking down walls of resistance
fighting unseen countless battles on our behalf
at the cost of personal sacrifice and risk
praying for a generation that would follow

What beautiful and powerful illustration of generational synergy because of God’s “No!”

__________

When the Answer is “No”

Lord, I thank You for saying “No”.
What do you want me to learn here?
What can I only see in You through this closed door?
May I have heaven’s perspective
I set aside disappointment and discouragement.
Show me the sons and daughters
I can invest my life in.
You mercy towards me is outrageous!
How loving you are!

__________

More on prayer here:

Intercession – Releasing The Power of The Cross Through Prayer

Prayer – A Personal Invitation None Should Refuse