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

King David lives in a posh palace in Jerusalem.  Opulence for his majesty!  But he feels bad.  The Ark of the Covenant resides in a tent.  Nothing permanent or pretentious.  Mirror-opposite of David’s regal abode.

Doesn’t God need a suitable place for worship?  It’s just not right!  David grouses to Prophet Nathan–  ‘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, 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– ‘I never told you 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 the same?  Open my big mouth before seeking His will.  Making a decision, without first checking it out with God.  Praying for His direction long after I have headed out on my own, begging God to clean up my mess.

Consult the Lord first and foremost!  Not last but least.  Do this because you know in your heart that His will is always best.  A holy habit of talking with Jesus… before anyone else.

Hot dog!  That’s the way to go!  Certainly Nathan agrees!

Thank you, Lord, for being there to direct us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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GOOD FRIENDS…1 Chronicles 27: 33

I’ve always had good friends.  But I’ve learned that having them is not a common experience.  Those who stick by you, I mean.

Let me explain.  There were over one hundred ministers in my region of the denomination I served.  I was a ‘member in good standing’.  But trouble found me.  Of those one hundred, only one bothered to get in touch.  Only one, one time.

No one stopped by.  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 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 as surprises.  You know what I’ve learned?  Get off the dime, reach out to someone who’s hurting.  Care about someone else.  Not only if they’re in the right.  No matter what.  Don’t say you’re a friend.  Be one.  Right or wrong, be there for them.   Like God is for us when we’ve given Him lots of reasons to turn away.

1 Chronicles 27:33  is a gem.  Earlier in Chronicles you find list after list of important people.  Then we read the name of Hushai.  He’s not in charge of the donkeys, olive oil, army officers or the worship singers.  No, he is called David’s ‘friend’.  The King has his counselors and advisors.  In Hushai, he finds a friend.

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

Lord, thank you for dear friends.  Amen.

 

 

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

My wife and I rent a condominium outside Orlando to be close to nearby family.  We also want to visit Epcot Center.  We rent a timeshare.  Every day one of the management-team calls us with an offer of free Epcot tickets if we would attend a sales meeting.

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

Went to their infernal meeting, preceded by a mediocre breakfast buffet.  They proceed to beg, badger and browbeat us.  I told them, every single day, that we are never going buy a timeshare.

They knew they’d wear us down.  Finally, the sales bloke turns to us and says with disgust:  ‘you did it for the tickets’.  I told them that!  Guess the truth does hurt!

Jesus feeds over 5000 people.  With only 5 barley loaves and 2 dried fish.  Everyone is full.   Even left-overs!  Their eyes can hardly believe what their stomachs are telling them.  Full as full can be!

But Jesus senses something more going on here.  Actually, it’s less.  The crowd follows Him– only for what they can get from Him.  For His goodies.  Those blessings.

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

That’s me sometimes.  Must own up.  He knows.  He still loves me but wants me to fess up.  Love Him above all.   Who He is.  Always has been.  And will be.  That’s enough.  He’s more than enough.  Satisfied?

Lord, we do love you, just you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

MIGHTY GOOD APPLE!…Zechariah 2: 1-13

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

Here’s an expression found in Zechariah 2:8–‘…for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye…’  We are ‘the apple of His eye’.   Meaning what?

The ‘apple’ is poetic, 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 Lodge at Crater Lake, Oregon.  A volcano-created lake, deep as deep can be, producing the bluest water we’ve ever seen.  We drive to the other side of the lake, and walk down a steep trail to the water’s edge.

What a windy day.  Blowing every which-way.  That’s when a tiny stone fragment flies up into the air, gets behind my glasses and lodges firmly in the side of my eyeball.  What pain!   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 great intensity.  Let me be honest.  How many times have I felt that God was way off in outer space?  Anybody out there?  Does He care?

That’s when I need that phrase– ‘the apple of God’s eye’.  Our fears and joys, all touch Him deeply.  Whether I’m aware of it or not.  Whatever gets in our ‘eyes’ gets in His, but more so.

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

Lord, thank you for always caring.  Amen.