Monday, December 12, 2011

Leavin' Lo-Debar

We caught the tail end of an old sermon by the late Adrian Rogers the other day.  He was explaining the story of 2 Samuel chapter 9 when David fulfilled his promise to Jonathan, the son of King Saul.

Some background: David and Jonathan held a blood covenant between them in which David had promised to preserve Jonathan's lineage.  This story is told in 1 Samuel 18-20.  David had been anointed king even though Saul remained in power after God rejected him because of his disobedience.  David was a man marked for death, but Jonathan knew God would ensure that David prevailed against all enemies.  Out of David's love for Jonathan, he promised to ensure Saul's family line would continue.  Now we come to Mephibosheth, Saul's heir.

Mephibosheth was essentially in hiding and since he was crippled in his feet, he had to be cared for.  In fear for his life, he lived in a place called Lo-Debar.  Literally, Lo-Debar means "No Word" or "No Pasture"; a place of desolation.  Mephibosheth was outcast, broken and had no hope.  The sins of his grandfather were laid upon him in this way. 

But David remembered his covenant, and tracked down Jonathan's son.  Mephibosheth was brought to the palace, and would eat at the king's table for the rest of his life.  Not only that but David restored all of Saul's lands to him as well.  Mephibosheth's son Mica would continue the family line.

What a glorious picture of redemption and grace.  The relationship between the houses of David and Saul were restored because of a promise.  David's love for Jonathan restored honor to the house of Saul when he had every right as the anointed king to wipe Saul's seed from the face of the earth forever.

But David lavished grace upon Mephibosheth because of who his father was.
So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons.                                                                                 (2 Samuel 9:11 ESV)
 I just love it when these grand stories of the Old Testament foreshadow God's gift of his son Jesus;
     “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
(John 3:16-17 ESV)
how we are to become son's to a father who promises to restore our relationship with Him;
     But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
(Galatians 3:25-26 ESV)

    For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,
    “I will tell of your name to my brothers;
        in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

(Hebrews 2:11-12 ESV)
how we are to eat at His table for all eternity.  
 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
(Revelation 3:19-20 ESV)
Jesus lavishes grace upon us because of who His father is.
    For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(John 1:16-17 ESV)
 Jesus, thank you for rescuing me from my place of desolation, my Lo-Debar, an outcast without hope, and bringing me to the place of your choosing, grafting me into your family and feeding me with your Word.  Thank you for grace upon grace.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Turn of Events

A recent turn of events finds me doing more physical labor than I have done in over twenty years.  Sore muscles, an aching back, and throbbing hands and feet are not uncommon in this new mode of operation.  When those days are at their worst, doubts can arise.  "Can I really do this?  Can I keep up this pace?"

A few weeks back, during our worship service, I was praying, "Jesus, you are my savior, sanctifier, healer and coming King.  My hands and feet really hurt today.  Would you please give me some healing relief?", to which He responded, "Brother, I really do understand about pain in the hands and feet."  I was stopped in my tracks, not really knowing how to process that answer.

My thoughts were drawn to Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as we commonly call him.

    So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
(John 20:25 ESV)
Lord I believe, forgive my unbelief, 
       For you are my rock and my fortress;
        and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
(Psalm 31:3 ESV)

I can climb any mountain you ask me to climb, because you, my Rock, are there with me leading the way.

You may remember that Thomas got his wish eight days later and his response to Jesus echoes the lesson I learned from this brief encounter.
"My Lord and my God!"
For me, this was a truly amazing turn of events.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Just a Touch

I watched a movie not long ago, and memories brought my emotions to the surface.  In the movie, a family lost a daughter to a drunk driver.  The story centered around how they dealt with that loss.  My story isn't all that different, and it all came flooding back to me.

When I was 7 years of age, I awoke in the early hours of the morning and noticed the light coming from under my bedroom door.  I shared a bedroom with my brother, Guy, and the door led directly into our living room.  Curious, I crawled out of bed and opened the door to find a room full of people from our church.  Many family friends I recognized by name, others I knew only as "church people".

The curiosity turned to concern when I noticed that they were all sad and that my mother and sister were in tears.  My father drew me back into the bedroom and explained to me, "Guy has gone to be with Jesus."  I understood exactly what he meant.  My brother was dead.  A drunken driver had hit his car on the highway and he never made it to the hospital.

I went back into the living room with Dad and sat on the couch next to a man.  I didn't know this man, not even his name, but he comforted me.  His hand on my back eased my pain a little.  I was not alone.  This man demonstrated the love of Christ -- in just a touch.  There was healing there.  In the simplest of ways, he bore my burden.
 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
                                                                      -- Galatians 6:2 ESV
So many times, Jesus touched those around him.
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.
                                                                       -- Luke 4:40 ESV
 This is such a wonderful picture of Jesus.  He left his throne to touch us; for healing, for restoration, for deliverance, to bring life.  The journey toward salvation begins with that touch.

He touches our spirit and we begin to understand that we need Him.
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
He touches our conscience, and we begin to understand our depravity.
 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
He touches our pride and we surrender ourselves and accept His gift freely.
 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
A new life has begun.  A new creation is born.  All from just a touch.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

"My Jesus"

Some time ago, a song by Todd Agnew grabbed hold of me.  It's entitled, "My Jesus" and the first few words led me to a really interesting question.
"Which Jesus do you follow?  Which Jesus do you serve?"
I began to search out the answer to "Which Jesus..?", and here is where I have come to so far.

The Jesus I follow...
  • was "there" before the Earth even had a name (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-16)
  • camped out on his zero'th birthday (Luke 2:1-7)
  • demonstrated the indwelling of the Spirit at 12 years old (Luke 2:41-50)
  • knew the meaning of hard work (Mark 6:3)
  • was skilled in wilderness survival (Luke 4:1-2)
  • spoke truth, not platitudes (Luke 4:20-27, Matthew 5,6,7)
  • understood that true leaders must begin with servitude (John 13:3-8)
  • was the world's greatest fisherman (Luke 5:1-11, John 21:1-13)
  • was worthy of being followed (John 1:35-51, Matthew 4:18-22, 9:9)
  • spoke with authority (Mark 5:1-20)
  • knew how to delegate (Matthew 10:1, Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:8)
  • understood what real pressure means (Luke 12:50, Matthew 12:36-42))
  • stood up for what is right and true (Luke 19:45-46, Matthew 21:12-13)
  • never needed duct tape (Colossians 1:17)
  • knows how to make an entrance (I Thessalonians 4:16-18, Revelation19:11-16)
  • will win the final battle! (Revelation 19:19-20:10)
 My Jesus is not the Jesus of paintings, doing the two-fingered salute wearing his snow-white robe, not a hair out of place, with a lamb tucked gently under his arm.  My Jesus worked hard, he sweat under labor, and had callouses on his hands.  My Jesus came into His purpose in the Father's timing, blessed many by his servile acts of healing, teaching, rescue, life-giving and deliverance.  My Jesus did not shy away from conflict when truth was at stake, and he endured rejection by even his own family because of it.  My Jesus was bruised for me, battered for me, broken for me, and murdered for me. 

But my Jesus is not the Jesus of the crucifix, a display of utter defeat at the hands of murderers.  My Jesus is the Jesus of the empty tomb, the Jesus of the Emmaus Road, the Jesus who stirred such devotion in Peter that he dove into the water and swam to shore just to reach the risen Lord sooner.  My Jesus calls me, "Brother!"  My Jesus was a man's man.

My Jesus is triumphant, glorified....and returning.