Celebrate

Celebrate

Reading this weekend, I came across Psalm 32. It starts off with “Blessed is…”, of course reminding me of the sermon on the mount. In fact, this Psalm could be read to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ in eleven short verses a thousand years before his birth.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Can I get an amen??!! Blessed are we the Christians, who have received the forgiveness of God through his son Jesus Christ. Blessed are we who have had our sins covered by the blood of the Son, who have received the free gift of His salvation. The apostle Paul references these verses himself in his epistle to the Romans – “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”” Romans‬ ‭4:4-8‬ ‭ESV‬. We try to work for our salvation, we think we deserve salvation. But the truth is, we can never do enough good works to offset our sins. It is only through faith that we can come to confess our sins to Christ and ask His forgiveness. Principle four in recovery tells us to “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.” This is the only way to receive forgiveness for the wreckage left behind, do we can then move forward to the blessings to come.

Forgiven
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Once we have confessed our sins and received the new life offered to us, once we’ve come out of darkness and into the light, our sins are no longer counted against us. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Covered by His blood, joined with Him in His death, burial and resurrection, reborn, we no longer stand condemned by the things we’ve done.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. We can choose to continue to hide our sins. We can choose to continue in them openly for that matter. We are never forced to accept His free gift of salvation. It is always a choice we make. But the offer is always there.
 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. King David’s short testimony and encouragement to those who would come after him. When he kept silent and hid his sins, he suffered and continually felt God’s punishment. Just as we suffer sleepless nights, stress, angst, even personal and financial loss as the the result of doing things our own way. But when we acknowledge our sins, our faults, He forgives us our wrongs.

Horse with a bit
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. The speaker is now God Himself. It’s interesting that these two verses sound like they could have come from Proverbs, which were written later by David’s son Solomon. God will teach us if, as Jesus says, we have eyes to see and ears to hear. We can choose to be stubborn, to continue to do things our own way, but we will not stay near to God if we do.

Sorrows of the wicked
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! We can choose the wide path of sorrows. Or we can choose to trust in Christ. We can hide our sins, and stay in the darkness. Or we can choose to confess those sins and come out into the light. If we confess those sins, if we accept the free gift offered by the blood of Jesus Christ, those sins are forgiven. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! And yes, we should celebrate our recovery! Celebrate our salvation. We have received the best news in the world, why do we walk around with such sorry attitudes?? Celebrate like we are the special guests at the weeding, like we are sitting at the head table. That’s a comparison made many times in the New Testament. Because joy in our heart is the only right response to a gift as great as we’ve received.

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:1-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.32.1-11.esv

John Lewis

The Tree of Life

tree of life
Paradise. What is paradise? How do we get there?  Is paradise the place where we will be happy all the time?
 paradise
We live in America, we are supposed to be happy. It’s our right to be happy. As a matter of fact, it’s our very duty as Americans to be happy.
After all, we have our cars, our houses, our technology, our vacations. One of our founding documents declares flatly that we are all about our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
cars
We spend trillions on our military apparatus to defend our freedom to pursue that happiness. We pursue that happiness with endless activity, endless busy-ness. Even our “leisure” activities prompt is to get up early, drive for hours, fly to far off places, and cram our schedules so we can “do” more.
We strive to do more. We strive to get more. We want to have more. Always in the pursuit of happiness. John D Rockefeller, probably the wealthiest man in the world at his time, was once asked ‘How much money is enough”. To which he answered “a little bit more”. Rockefeller started and owned most of Standard Oil. Standard Oil was broken up into multiple pieces by the government in 1911 for monopolistic practices. Four of the companies that came from that breakup were Exxon, Mobil, Chevron and Amoco, which to this day are ALL among the top 50 large companies in the world. So, a little bit more than what?
mansion
We only have one life to live. We are told from early on, every day of our lives, that if we do more, more, more, and we get more, more, more, then we will be happy. We seek out things, we seek out experiences. We want to do more, see more, have more.
Bungee_Jumping-1
In the pursuit of this happiness, we put on our happy face. We’re Americans, it’s our duty to be happy, right? We have more than anybody else, we do more. So when somebody asks us how we are doing, we put on our happy face, our mask, and we tell them how good we are doing, how happy we are.
Meanwhile, we look around us, and we are jealous of the guy asking how we are doing. He’s got a nicer house, faster car. He’s got the wife we wish we had. But still, we put on our face and tell him how great life is, not knowing that underneath his happy face, he’s swimming in debt, is hot for the young new secretary in the office, and keeps a brown bottle in his desk.
This is the life we live. We believe the script for our lives we are given daily. Do more, get more, fight for what we want. Then we get to the end, wherever that is, and wonder what happened to our happiness. We’ve spent our whole lives running around doing. And somehow we think we’ve missed paradise because we didn’t get a little bit more.
take up your cross
That’s not the script given to us by Jesus. We are not called to get more. We are not justified by doing more. The path to paradise, as laid out by Jesus, has nothing to do with getting or doing. The path to paradise is started by dying. Not physically dying, but spiritually dying to self. Dying to doing things our own way. We see this over and over again in the words of Jesus.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:32-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:39‬ ‭ESV
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” ‭‭John‬ ‭12:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬
We live in selfie-nation. We live for self, and want to show off for everyone around us just how much fun we are having while we’re doing it. Jesus taught us, over and over, in many different settings, to die to ourselves. What is He talking about, what does He mean? And what does all this have to do with paradise and happiness?? We can find the road to paradise in the events at the His crucifixion.
jesus and the thieves
Jesus was not crucified alone. He was crucified with two criminals, the bible calls them thieves. They probably weren’t simply petty thieves, that’s not the kind of crime that earned execution in the Roman Empire. More likely, they were revolutionaries who fought the required submission to the empire. This is what would get you crucified by Rome, challenging the required submission, not proclaiming “Caesar is Lord!” Not acknowledging that the “Pax Romana” (peace of Rome) was the last best hope for mankind. These two were probably revolutionaries who supported themselves in their chosen fight against Rome by robbing the wealthy Jews and Romans outside of town, as they were traveling. Much more than simple petty thieves.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Our tendency to blame and scapegoat, to join the crowd when it is aimed at someone else, is so strong that even this man dying with Jesus joins in the accusations against Him.
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” But not the other man condemned with Jesus. It really is amazing what this guy says dying on the cross. He recognizes in the man dying next him, the savior and Messiah of the world. He sees a King who has a Kingdom.
After spending his life pursuing his happiness, fighting for his rights, taking what he wanted, he finally finds his peace in these moments before dying. He gives up his life, stops trying to justify himself, and simply comes to Jesus. And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” No explanation, no justifying. No more works of the flesh, no more fighting for what he thought was right. No more doing it His way. Just finally giving up himself to God who came to offer salvation. And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Remember John Chapter 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus we must be born again of the water and of the spirit. “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” John‬ ‭3:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We must die to ourselves, die to our flesh, to be born again of the spirit. Unless we are born of the spirit, we can not get into the kingdom of God, can not get into paradise.
We know that we started in paradise, in the Garden of Eden. We disobeyed God, chose to live for our flesh. “He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:24‬ ‭ESV. What if the tree of life has been shown to us? What if the tree of life is the cross Jesus died on? What if we die to ourselves, come to Jesus at the cross, and get born again into paradise. “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭9:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The way into paradise is through the cross of Jesus. Follow Him into submission to God, back into paradise through the tree of life.
“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:39-43‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/luk.23.39-43.esv
John Lewis

The 1000 Mile Journey

long journey

The story of the three wise men. I know, it’s not Christmas. But I can just relate to this story right now. I’m not going verse by verse, just want to share a little about how I can relate to this famous story.

3 wise men
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” First of all, we always talk about the three wise men. But we really have no idea how many wise men (“Magi” in the Greek – royal astrologers) there were. It just doesn’t say. It’s probably assumed from the fact that three gifts were given to the Jewish messiah they found.
Second – wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were all well-known products of Arabia. Scholars believe it is most likely that they came all the way from Persia, about 1,000 miles journey, to find the newborn King. A very long distance. Rough travel through dangerous territory. If there were only three wise men, they were almost certainly part of a much larger traveling party, just in the interest of physical safety.
And isn’t it at least a little bit interesting that these men from 1000 miles away saw the signs in the stars that the Messiah was to be born. Astrology is strictly forbidden to the Jews, but clearly these men were seeking. While angels were sent to the Jewish shepherds nearby with the Good News, God made sure the same Good News was made known even to the Gentiles. Would this not be the first sign that Jesus was to be a savior for all people, not just the Jews??

dangerous journey
So the wise men made a long and dangerous journey to find Jesus. Ever feel like you’re on a long and dangerous journey? I do. The other night I went and gave my testimony to a CR group at a church in La Plata. It may have been the best testimony I’ve given. Maybe it’s a sign I’m making progress on my journey. One of the leaders came up to me afterward and said two things. First thing he said is that he’s surprised I’ve only been sober for two years. For those who don’t know (and most of you probably don’t), my sobriety has many different layers. First is the alcoholism, which I didn’t even admit to until at least a month after I started coming to recovery meetings. A horrible binge alcoholic, I had increasingly begun to drink during the day, even many times starting on my drive into work. Second, gambling. A fantasy sports and online poker addiction that took hours of my time and attention every day. Then there is the video games. Another addiction that is taboo enough for me not to write about it here.
The second thing this guy said to me was – “and you were CRAZY!” I’ve heard his testimony as well, and he was crazy! I guess maybe we are all a little crazy. At what point did you see your sign in the sky to let you know to go seek your savior? Or, what will be that sign in the sky? If you look for it, God will send you a sign. For the shepherds in the fields, their sign was the chorus of angels coming to tell them of good tidings and great joy!! Their journey was short.

looking for a sign
For the wise men, God sent the seekers the sign they were looking for. He forbids His people from astrology, but he sent these Gentile astrologers their sign. He met them where they were, and led them on their 1000 mile journey. Their part was obeying.

My sign was having all of my lies exposed, my wrong choices being found out.  My sign was finding myself on the brink of losing my family, not even knowing what direction to choose in life.  I’m still on my 1000 mile journey. I am making progress, but I am FAR from perfect. Sometimes the going is hard. Sometimes the trip is dangerous. I expect I’m coming up to more dangerous parts of my journey, but we will see.
Writing these messages in the morning is a part of my journey. If you don’t know, I get up at a stupid hour in the morning to read and write these messages. I send this to about 30 people each morning. Some have asked to be included on these. (Some might regret that lol!). Then I clean it up, illustrate it, and post these on a blog every afternoon.
Sometimes I’m sure my writing is better than others. Sometimes I confuse myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m going in circles trying to get to a point. Either way, it is good for me to write. Maybe this is my way of journaling. I hope it is good for you to read as well.

another way
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. So today I’ll finish with this – I may not know where this journey will take me, I only know that I am on it. I am not the same as I was 2 years ago. I will not be the same 2 years from now. I know that wherever I am going – I am going by ANOTHER WAY. I was in the dark, so much of myself hidden behind walls of fear and shame.

I live in the light now. Writing this is part of me staying in the light. I hope I can be a part of your staying in the light of truth, of you finding another way home, another way to live besides the “us vs them” way of this world.

If you read my writing everyday, thank you for taking the time. And, thanks for letting me share!!

 

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:1-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.2.1-12.esv

John Lewis

Not just for the Crowds

A very short, simple passage in Luke that teaches us a few things about Jesus and about ourselves. Jesus had just been in the synagogue in Capernaum, casting out demons and teaching.

“And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. Well, we also learn something here about Peter – that he was married. Did he have children? Maybe. This little detail in the life of Peter just gives us a glimpse that, yes, these apostles were just like us. They had real lives and real families. Peter apparently walked away from his fishing business to follow Jesus despite the fact that, yes, he did have a life. He was sacrificing much simply to follow a rabbi-carpenter from Nazareth. For Peter, these words of Jesus meant something – “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:37-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Peter gave up his life for the sake of following Jesus, he found a life which I’m still reading and writing about 2000 years later. He took his cross and followed Jesus, all the through to his own crucifixion. He followed Jesus straight into the Kingdom of God.

 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.” In Simon’s house, away from the crowds, Jesus performs this miracle. He had just been teaching in the synagogue, casting out a few demons even. He probably was looking for little down time. If it had been me, this would have been a time to silence the cell phone and take a little “quiet time.” I might figure I’ve done enough for now, I need to take care of #1 for a bit. Nobody is looking, right? My reputation is not going to be helped. These are already my people. I’m not winning any souls.

But He was always ready and willing to serve. Even when there were no crowds, even when maybe it might be His time to be served. When Simons mother was sick, he could have simply said “I’m too tired. Maybe later.” Instead, the Great Physician healed the sick, even when there were no crowds to adore him for it. Even behind closed doors, with just those closest to Him around to see, Jesus was still Jesus. I know sometimes, when I’m just with close friends and family, I get very un-Christ like. But not so for the Son sent by the Father.

And how about Peter’s mother in law? As soon as Jesus healed her, she got back to the business of serving her people. She didn’t look for special attention, she didn’t beg out of service. She didn’t say “I’ve been sick, can someone else do it.” She took her gift of health and strength and immediately used it to serve those around her. She understood that those gifts were not just for her benefit, just as our gifts are not simply for our benefit. We are always to use our gifts in the service of others.

“And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:38-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.4.38-39.esv

John Lewis

The King’s Table


 Sometimes I wake up already knowing what I want to write about. Sometimes I have a couple of ideas. Sometimes I have no idea. This morning I had no idea, so God put this story in my reading plan.
It’s the story of Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan. Jonathan and King David had shared a special bond, much to the chagrin of Jonathan’s father, King Saul. David, of course, had been anointed King of Israel by the prophet Samuel at the age of 15. Problem was, Israel already had King Saul.  


David was content to wait on the throne, wanting nothing to do with deposing an anointed King from power. But Saul was paranoid about the fact that David had also been anointed, and spent much time pursuing David to kill him and secure his family’s claim to the crown (which would have meant Jonathan should succeed Saul).  
But Jonathan and David became great friends, and Jonathan would warn David when his father was coming after him. It was during one of these periods, when David was sent into exile by Saul, that David and Jonathan made a covenant before God – “Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.'” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭20:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Fast forward several years. Saul and Jonathan are both killed battle. David ascends to they throne Samuel anointed him for, first over just Judah, then seven years later he is anointed again, this time King over all Israel. All is going well, David has had great military success. He is, as we say, kicking ass and taking names (and plunder. Lots and lots of plunder. To the victor go the spoils…)
Which brings us to Mephibosheth. “And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” David remembers his covenant with Jonathan, and how Jonathan had showed him kindness, mercy and love by tipping him off that his father was coming after him, saving David’s life.  

Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”
I can almost feel the good cheer and magnanimous attitude King David has here. Things are going so well for him, it just seems so random that he is seeking out anyone from the family line of Saul to show kindness to, and fulfill the covenant he had made before God with Jonathan. As far as David knows, there is no one left.   All Saul’s sons were killed, and he was probably in exile running for his life when Jonathan’s son was born. But, he did make the covenant before God, so maybe he just wants to keep his conscience clear, keep his accounts short so to speak.

 Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”
Well, not just someone from the line of Saul, but the very son of Jonathan!

The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage.
Well then – bring him here!! Poor Mephibosheth, he probably thinks David is going to kill him. He is a descendant of Saul, which would make him a natural born rival of David for the throne, just as David was a rival of his father Jonathan. Upon seeing the King, all he can do is throw himself down before him, giving due respect to the King – all while fearing God his life.



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.”
Do not fear. Don’t be afraid. David knows that Mephibosheth is thinking he is going to kill him. In this society, as the heir of a king, David would have been expected to kill him. But just as Jesus, the “son of David” (Matthew 1:1) tells us, so David tells Mephibosheth, don’t be afraid.   

And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
I can’t help but relate this to a story of Jesus – “He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭15:26-28‬ ‭NIV‬. Like this Gentiles woman talking to Jesus, Mephibosheth had no claim, no right, to expect anything from King David. But like the son of David, the King offers anyway.


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. 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.”
Not only is he not going to be killed – now Mephibosheth is being restored all the wealth that came from the house of Saul. It would have gone to Jonathan, but actually came rightfully to David because he had married Saul’s daughter Michal. Again, when I read this I am reminded of a great story of Jesus – the beloved story of the prodigal son. Just as that son expected nothing from his father except scorn and rejection, Mephibosheth expected nothing but death upon coming to King David. But, just as the prodigal received full restoration into the family, so the son of Jonathan was fully restored all that his family line had to offer. Just as the prodigal received grace and mercy, so King David showed grace and mercy a thousand years before,
So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. And again, I’m relating this to the son of David, Jesus Christ. Just as Mephibosheth would be reminded daily of the grace showed him through dining at the king’s table, aren’t we reminded of the grace and mercy showed us every time we come to the Lord’s table? Like the disciples on the Emmaus road, we see him in the breaking of the bread. It is at the Lord’s (our King) table that we are reminded of the sacrifice made. Mephibosheth had done nothing to earn or deserve what David did for him – but it was the honoring of the covenant made between David and Jonathan. We don’t deserve what was done for us, but that was also the honoring of a covenants made long before between God and Abraham, God and Isaac, and God and David himself.

“And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And 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. 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.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.”

‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭9:1-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/2sa.9.1-13.esv
“Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.'” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭20:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”

‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/2sa.4.4.esv





John Lewis

Breaking Chains


Reading the psalms, we can find every human emotion. We can find David and others crying out to God, praising God, giving thanks to God. Reading the psalms, we can actually be formed in the worship of God.
The actual definition of the word psalm is “a sacred song or hymn.” The book of psalms is really the bibles hymnal. That’s how important worship is to God – the longest book in His book is dedicated completely to just that.


Unfortunately, we really miss out on this because we are left with weak translations. I say weak because there is no way to preserve the musical quality of the writing through translation. We lose the rhymes, rhythms, the play on words.
Here is a psalm though, where I can almost feel the build. I can definitely feel the worship. The title of this psalm in the ESV “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” It’s all about praise and the power of God, this is just the first 15 verses.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. No matter how far away we wander, God is right there. He doesn’t scatter to the north, south, the east of the west – we do. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, he has called us out of our trouble, out of our wanderings. Whether we were wandering, or if we are wandering, He is right there waiting, calling us to His redemption if only we would say “yes”.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. The Israelites are going through struggles during this time, the writer compares their current struggles to their ancestors wandering in the wilderness. The same way we use our bibles to compare the things we go through with the struggles of those who went before, he uses his bible.


They wandered in the wilderness, finding no way to a city. When you are in a desert, when you are in a harsh climate in the ancient world, cities are a source of life. They offered protection, economic activity, and were a source of food and water in a barren world.
The Israelites under Moses wandered on a two-week trip for forty years in that wilderness, mostly because of their own stubbornness. Many of us, myself included, wander for our own forty years in the wilderness before we finally run for cover and sustenance in that city. We would rather starve and burn in the desert than humble ourselves by accepting the nourishment offered by Jesus – “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” John‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Eventually, we will get to the point when we will cry out. When we are ready to give up our stubbornness, all of a sudden a two-week trip will take two weeks. Our path will be corrected, we will actually be on a road to somewhere, not wandering nowhere. He will lead us to that city on a hill…
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. So many times, people come in from the wilderness, get relief from addictions, get restored in life. Then they begin to actually wish they were back out in that wilderness. They forget where their salvation came from. They want to leave the cover, protection and water provided in the city. They get back on that straight way, straight back to where they came from, lost and wandering again.

They forget to thank God everyday for His love.


Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Who are you thinking about right now? Who do you know that’s in chains, in afflictions, in irons. Who is stuck in an addiction they can’t beat? Who us so angry at the world for what somebody did to them? Who is sick from that pill of resentment, doubly ticked off because the person they are angry with is off living their lives, not even caring about their grudge? Who do you know that’s stuck in the shame of something in their past? Something they did. Something that was done to them? Everybody knows somebody stuck in bondage to something that hurts, some addiction, or something in their past they just can’t get over.

Is the person you’re thinking about, you?
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man


Pray for them to cry out to Jesus. If it’s you that’s hurting, cry out to Jesus! Because there is power in the name of Jesus. Only He can break every chain, break every chain, BREAK EVERY CHAIN!!

And never forget this verse, which appears twice here – Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:1-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.107.1-15.esv

John Lewis

Troubled Heart?


Death. What does it mean to you? How does that word make you feel? Uncomfortable? Nervous? Afraid? We have a natural-born fear of the unknown. We stay in jobs that make us miserable because we fear the unknown, fear of what comes next. We stay in abusive relationships because we fear the unknown, we fear being alone. We sometimes would rather stay with the abuse we know than take a step into the freedom we don’t know.  
We see this in the bible too. All the way back to Moses, people preferred bondage they knew over freedom they didn’t know. Over and over, they expressed their anger with Moses for taking them out of the bondage of Pharaoh – “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”” ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭ESV‬. They trusted more in the captors they could know and see than in God who was leading them out of their bondage.


What is more unknown to us than death? We know we all owe one. We all know and have loved ones who have passed away, and we know the finality of that. We know that once that last breath is taken, that is the end of all we can know about. We know the sights, sounds, pains, pleasures, joys, hurts, and all the emotional highs and lows that come with the bodies given at birth. We have no idea what we will feel and know and experience in our heavenly bodies when our earthly bodies ultimately fail us. So we fear that day.
We know the support, love and security we get from our parents and loved ones. We don’t know what lies on the other side of losing them holds for us. So we fear that day.
But what did Jesus have to say about death? Jesus spoke about His own death the night before His crucifixion. He spoke these words right after washing the disciples feet and telling Peter point-blank that Peter would deny Him three times that night. He gave us His own eulogy if you will.


Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  What is Jesus talking about? Don’t worry about what we can’t see. He knows He is about to go through His passion, through His suffering, and into death. He knew that this would be very difficult for the disciples, they would not understand. He would be going into that great unknown.

But he assures them. Don’t be troubled, don’t worry. They believe in God, the trust God. He urges them to also trust Him. His Fathers house has many rooms (at least one translation says many mansions). There is room for everyone. The kingdom of God is inclusive not exclusive. It’s there and available for all who call on and trust in the name of the Lord. No one has to be turned away. Just believe. Just trust.


And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. To Jesus, to God, this is no big deal. Death is simply routine. He says he is preparing a place FOR ME. FOR YOU. It is personal, not mass-produced. He is going to come personally escort us to be with Him. We will be with His forever in eternity.
We cling to this life, we fear the next. Just like the Israelites coming out of Egypt, we would rather remain in bondage in our bodies, living in this broken world. It’s what we know.
But think about this – why didn’t Jesus bring more people back from death? He had the power whenever He wanted. He healed hundreds. He fed thousands. But He only resurrected three – Jairus’ daughter, the near Nain, and His own dear friend Lazarus. Why?
Maybe it’s because He knows where they are is better than where we are. Maybe He just didn’t get any volunteers. Maybe once we are forced past our own fear of that great unknown, we will get to that other side and say “no way I’m going back!”
Isaiah says – “The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭57:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Maybe dying is part of God’s mercy. Maybe he’s taking us away from the hurts to come. As unknown as it is to us, maybe it’s God’s protection from the future.
A lot of “maybes”. Because I just don’t know. It’s the great unknown. But I do know what Jesus says about it – Let not your hearts be troubled. So I will believe and trust Him.

“”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.””

‭‭John‬ ‭14:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.1-4.esv

John Lewis