HOT DOG, IT’S NATHAN!…2 Samuel 7: 1-11

King David lives in a posh palace in the royal city of Jerusalem.  Opulence for his majesty the King!  But he feels bad.  Guilty possibly?  The Ark of the Covenant resides in a mere tent, called the Tabernacle.  Nothing permanent or pretentious.  Mirror-opposite of David’s regal palace.

Doesn’t God need a suitable place for worship?  It’s just not right!  David grouses to Nathan, God’s prophet–  ‘Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent’ (2 Samuel 7:2).  Without missing a beat or uttering a prayer, Nathan says to go for it–‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you’ (v.3).

David, delighted to hear of God’s approval, nods off for a restful sleep.  But not Nathan.  It’s like he ate too many namesake hot dogs at Coney Island on the 4th of July!  He gets clear word from the Lord.  ‘Back off, buddy.  I never told you or anyone else that I needed a home to live in.  Tell the King to call off the construction crew!  By the way, Nathan, next time consult me first before you mouth off’ (Fischer paraphrase!).

We shouldn’t be too hard on Nathan.  How many times have I done much the same?  Opening my big mouth before seeking His will.  Making a decision that seems fine-and-dandy, while neglecting to first check it out with God Himself.  Praying for His direction long after I have headed out on my own, begging God to clean up my messes.

Let me recommend consulting the Lord first and foremost.  Not last but least.  Check with Him beforehand.  Do this because you know in your heart that His will is always best.  Pray to the Lord for His best right from the get-go.

A holy habit of talking with Jesus… before anyone else.  Hot dog!  That’s the way to go!  Certainly Nathan would agree!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for your eagerness to guide and direct us.  We want to seek you first.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

GOOD FRIENDS…1 Chronicles 27: 33

I’ve had good friends in my life.  Don’t we thank the Lord for the gift of friendship?  But I’ve learned that having good friends is not a common experience.  Those who stick by you through thick-and-thin.

Let me explain.  There were over one hundred ministers in my region of the old denomination I served.  I was ‘a member in good standing’, as it was called.  But trouble found me and I fell off my ‘high horse’.  Landed hard.  Of all those one hundred, only one bothered to get in touch.  Only one, one time.

No one stopped by.  Even that one never called back again.  But a local Roman Catholic priest had me preach in his hospital chapel service urging me to ‘get back on that horse’.  A good friend.  Another one was leader of the local Jewish Synagogue, who urged me to use their building to start a new church, as they only used it on Friday evenings, and that only a few times a year.

Friends come in surprising ways.  You know what I’ve learned through this?  Get off the dime, reach out to someone else who’s hurting.  Care about someone else for a change.  Not only if they’re in the right.  No matter what.  Don’t say you’re a friend, be one.  Mean it.  Right or wrong, be there for them.   Like God is for us when we’ve given Him lots of reasons to turn away and ‘head out of Dodge’.

That one verse from 1 Chronicles 27 is a gem.  Earlier in Chronicles you can find list after list of important people in King David’s life.  Military, political, worship leaders–valuable people all.  Then we read in verse 33 the name of Hushai the Arkite.  He’s not in charge of the donkeys, olive oil storage, army officers or the singers in worship services.  No, he is called, plain and simple, David’s ‘friend’.  The King had his counselors and advisors, his assistants and officers.  In Hushai, he had a friend.

Hushai in Hebrew language means ‘quick’.  That’s more than a hint.  For when friends are in need, be quick to get by their side.  To care…quickly.  The Lord has shown me this.  Not to write of it, but to do it…quickly.  You too?

Prayer:  Lord, may we quickly show our love and concern as good friends.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

 

YOU DID IT FOR THE TICKETS!…John 6: 22-28

My wife and I rented a condominium outside Orlando, Florida, so we’d be close to family who lived nearby.  We also wanted to visit Disney’s Epcot Center.  Had been a few years since our last visit.  We rented a timeshare from its owner.  Every day one of the management-team would call us with an offer of free Disney Epcot tickets if we would attend a timeshare sales meeting.

We’ve been to other such spiels.  Have you?  I’d rather have a root canal than go to another!  Slight exaggeration!Finally, beaten to a pulp, I agreed IF we could get those Disney tickets BEFORE we went to ‘timeshare torture’.  They agreed and we had great fun at Epcot.  Even better when it’s free!

Went to their infernal meeting, preceded by a mediocre breakfast buffet.  They sat us down, much like the Czars’ family before the Bolsheviks.  Then they proceeded to beg, badger and browbeat us.  I had told them, every single day, that we would never, ever buy a timeshare.  Not for us.

They knew they’d wear us down.  Finally, as if in utter defeat, the sales bloke turned to us and said with disgust:  ‘you did it for the tickets’.  I had told them that!  Guess the truth does hurt…them!

Jesus feeds all those people, over 5000.  With only 5 barley loaves and 2 dried or pickled fish.  Everyone is full.  There are even left-overs!  What a miracle!  Their eyes can hardly believe what their stomachs are telling them.  Full as full can be!

But Jesus senses something more going on here than meets the eye.  Actually, it’s less.  The crowd follows Him– only for what they can get out of Him.  For His goodies.  The blessings.  The prosperity.

The crowd follows Him–but not for Him alone.  Not to serve Him.  Not even for forgiveness of their sins, but for full stomachs and material gain.

Is that you?  Sometimes, you say.  Me too.  Must own up.  He knows.  He still loves us but wants us to fess up.  Love Him above all else…or anything.  Love Him for being God in the flesh.  Who He is… and always has been… and will be.  Our all in all!  That’s enough.  He’s more than enough.  Satisfied?

Prayer:  Lord, we love you.  You alone are the very best.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

MIGHTY GOOD APPLE!…Zechariah 2: 1-13

One of the earliest varieties of apple that we enjoy here in the Pacific Northwest is the Ginger Gold.  Crunchy, sweet and juicy!  Usually available by mid-August.  It signals that all the other apple varieties are just around the corner!

An expression used in the book of Zechariah is quite remarkable.  You’ll find it in chapter 2:8–‘…for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye…’  A vivid reminder of how the Lord feels about us.  We are ‘the apple of His eye’.   Which means what?

The ‘apple’ is a poetic way of referring to the pupil of our eye.  The eye is one of the most complex organs in our body.  Have something touch it, and the pain will be excruciating.

A few years ago, my wife and I stayed at the old Lodge at Crater Lake in Oregon.  A gorgeous, volcano-created lake, deep as deep can be, producing the bluest water we’ve ever seen.  We drove to the other side of the lake, parked our van and walked down a rather steep trail to the water’s edge.

What a windy day it was.  Blowing in all directions.  That’s when a tiny stone fragment flew up into the air, got behind my glasses and lodged itself firmly in the side of my eyeball.  Ooooh, what pain!  Piercing, constant, unrelenting.  And this was in the side of my eye.  Not the pupil, which is more tender and vulnerable.

We are the apple of God’s eye.  He feels for us with an intensity we can hardly imagine.  Let me be honest with you.  How many times have I felt that God was way off in outer space with hardly a thought for little old me in this tiny corner of the world?  Anybody out there?  Anyone hear me?  Does He care?  Can He find me?

That’s when I need to munch into and digest that little phrase about being ‘the apple of God’s eye’.  As such, our fears and tears, flops and joys, all touch Him at His core.  Deeply.  Whether I’m aware of it or not.  Whatever gets in our ‘eyes’ gets in His, but more so.  Whatever grabs my heart has been in His all along.

Keep repeating–‘I’m the apple of God’s eye’.  Over and over.  That’s far better than even the best Ginger Gold apple, the first of the season!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for always caring for us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.