Saturday, September 30, 2017

That's a FACT

One of the greatest stories in the Bible is that of the friendship between David and Jonathan.  They were more than co-workers, Army buddies, or neighbors.  They had a genuine bond that was grounded in FACT – Feelings, Action, Commitment, and Trust. Let’s look at some key points in their friendship to see what made it so special and how we can apply these to our lives.

1 Samuel 18:1-4
As soon as David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 

Things to think about:
·       Jonathan was the son of King Saul, David was a poor shepherd boy.
·      Jonathan instantly recognized David’s character and courage. He was drawn to him and befriended this lowly pauper.
o   FACT – Sometimes as men we struggle to recognize or say that we love another man. In our culture it sounds weird and yet Jonathan did not have any reservations for his feelings for David.
o   FACT – they made a covenant to always be true with one another
o   FACT – Jonathan gave David symbols of his princely credentials. Notice how many of these can be found in the Whole Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) 
§  Also note how this compares to Jesus inviting the lowly positioned (us) into His presence and bequeathing unto us His royal credentials and benefits
·      The drama in the story is that Jonathan’s father is intensely jealous of David
o   Saul has killed his thousands, David his ten thousands
o   David also represents a threat to Jonathan inheriting the kingdom
o   FACT – in chapter 19 Saul is trying to have David killed (after unsuccessfully hurling a spear at him!) Jonathan has the courage to standby his commitment to David by challenging his father by speaking well of David to him.
§  Has someone ever defended you when it might have been unpopular to do so or come at some personal cost to them?  Or have you had a chance to be that person?
·      In chapter 20, things really start spiraling out of control and David is on the run.  He and Jonathan meet and Jonathan assures him that he will tell David whatever plans Saul is making to kill him.
o   FACT – Jonathan rises above family to do what is right.
o   FACT  - Jonathan asks David to reaffirm their commitment to one another, including “But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father.  If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and to not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”
§  Jonathan seemed to know that he would not outlive David and that David would one day be king.  Therefore, he seeks David’s commitment to look after his family after he is gone.
§  Have you ever had the chance to “show the steadfast love of the LORD” by helping out a friend’s family maybe due to an illness, death, lack of finances, or maybe just not knowing what to do in a certain circumstance?
o   FACT – Then they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most
§  Are you a crier?  Has this changed as you have gotten older?
o   The story continues with the chasing and David having two chances to kill Saul but he refrains.
o   Finally, Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle and David learns of the very sad news.  David mourns deeply for his lost friend.
§  Have you had a very close friend pass?  What feelings welled up in you at such a time?
o   It seems the story of Jonathan and David has come to an end – but not quite! Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth who was five years old when Jonathan died.  Some years later, probably at least 15 years, David makes an inquiry to know if anyone from the house of Saul is still alive and he learns that the little boy is now a father, living in poverty and obscurity.  He is also handicapped having injured both his feet during a long journey escaping from enemy pursuers.
§  2 Samuel 9:6-10 we read “Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table.” 
o   FACT -Wow, what an amazing postscript to this great story of friendship.  David, perhaps belatedly, remembered his covenant with Jonathan.  He had the opportunity to now share the riches of his royalty with the pauper whose grandfather was a king.
§  Is there an old friend you can reach out to?
·      If so, maybe you can let them know the example of Jonathan and David served as motivation for you.
§  Do you have a friend in a tough situation? A brother is born for adversity. How can you help?
§  As Jonathan asked of David, show the kindness of the Lord to a friend.  The FACT is you will be richly blessed in return!

Monday, September 18, 2017

HOPE - How Firm a Foundation

We have spoken before that perhaps the greatest poverty is a poverty of hope. Life can be unbearably hard with so many things out of our control. Whether physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relational, or some other issue that confronts us, we need to believe that things are going to be OK. But there is a huge difference between sunny optimism and HOPE that has a true and lasting foundation. Let’s look at the four foundational corners of our great HOPE: Honor God, Obey, Pray, Expect

Psalm 37:3-7
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;

Things to think about:
·      We all hope for many things – I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I hope my big sale closes, I hope Liverpool wins this week, I hope my children come to a saving faith, I hope, I hope, I hope.  Some things we hope for are trivial, some are crucial. Sometimes “I hope” is really a synonym for “I’m worried about”. 
o   What’s something that you’re hoping for this week/month/year?

Honor God
·      In our passage it says to, “Commit your way to the Lord”
o   Proverbs 1:7 in The Message states, “Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.”
o   The first step can often be the hardest step and in this case I believe for many people this is true.  First base in Christianity is saying I’m wrong, I need to be forgiven, and I can’t do anything about apart from Christ.
§  Is/was this true for you?
§  Why do you think some people choose to thumb their noses at God?
§  What would you tell to someone who feels they don’t need Him?
o   Why must HOPE begin with committing oneself to God?
·      “Trust in the Lord and do good.”
o   By definition, if we are Christians and seeking to genuinely please God, doing good is synonymous with obedience.
o   What are some ways you can think of to “do good”?
·      The other week we looked at how “Almost” obeying God is never good enough.
§  Why is obedience critical to having HOPE?
·      “Be still before the Lord”
o   In our hectic world, being still can sometimes be the hardest thing to do.  There is no shortage of things to engage, distract or amuse us.  We are programmed to multi-task, be successful, and stay connected.
o   The problem with all of that is it doesn’t leave a lot of time to just “be still before the Lord”
§  Do you find this to be a challenge or have you found success in this area?
o   When you are able to be still, do you find it often leads you to pray?
o   Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
§  Why is prayer important to our theme of HOPE?

·      Wait patiently for Him
o   Romans 8:24-25 – “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
·      The final piece of the puzzle is in our expectation that God will do something good!
o   It is honoring to God to expect goodness, the fidelity of His promises, and His love for you.

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.