Friendship Is Thicker Than Blood?

1 Samuel 20

Observations / Application

Saul is bent on killing David. He will stop at nothing to see this young man die, he knows its inevitable  that the throne will belong to him instead of his own son Jonathan.  But we see Jonathan’s heart and soul are tied together with David’s. A true friendship and bond, thicker than blood.

True Friends, they CAMP with you through life’s journey.  They form Covenants, Accountability, Live on Mission with you and Protect you. Take a closer look.

True Friends Are Covenantal (v.16)    Through thick and thin, this bond is strong, much a like a marriage. Refined by the fires of life and trials of sometimes violent discomfort. True friends stick it out and don’t allow circumstances or geography to come between the bond. Only upon betrayal do they forfeit that bond. It’s a trust through time that cements the covenant.

True Friends Are Accountable  (v. 4-5)   True friends keep each other accountable. Just like in protecting one another from dangers, part of that protection is helping that man become the man that he is called to be. If my bro fails in helping me stay accountable, he fails as a brother. Part of that accountability piece is the openness to receive correction from your friend. Being humble and open to receive from your friend how you might possibly be headed in a wrong direction.

True Friends Look At the Mission (v. 31)   True friendship is larger than life. It’s not simply about the bond between two people its about the mission they have been given to live out in this world. In David and Jonathan’s case, the mission is to preserve the promise of God to the nation of Israel – that David would be king and continue to carry out the bigger picture and promises given to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3)

True Friends Protect (v.2)    Jonathan will guard his friend from danger, even if it is his own father that brings danger. Friends don’t only protect from others causing danger. True friends protect us from the danger we can cause ourselves. They are truly in the details of your life and look out for our best interest despite our emotions or feelings. They tell it like it is, full of grace and truth. Just as Jesus would.

Looking at the life of Jesus, this is the kind of love we are to provide for those that we call brothers and sisters in the faith. To CAMP through life. As we CAMP together others will see this love and be attracted to it and thus given themselves to walk with Jesus and decide to CAMP with us as we grow.

Prayer

Father, help me to be this kind of friend to other. Help me to continually choose carefully who becomes a Jonathan in my life, but also, help me Lord to be a Jonathan to a few others. We can’t do life without people like that in our lives; bring some men (I recognize Lord that there may be a few in my life already) in my life that I can CAMP with through out life. Amen.

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Disturbing, Yet Full of Grace

Everyone has asked the question “If God is so good, why does He allow pain and suffering to exist?”

Today’s reading gives us one look at answering part of this multi-faceted question: Matthew 13:24-30

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

OBSERVATION / APPLICATION
Jesus uses this parable of weeds and wheat to show us humanity. This is disturbing in the sense that here we see two types of people. God sees us and determines/judges whether we are wheat or a weed. One simple way to treat this text is to ask yourself, “Which am I?” It’s too simple of a treatment. There is a deeper understanding of God and the world around us seen in this text.
This text answers some important questions. ‘Why not just get rid of the weeds? Why are there weeds in the first place?’
When the weeds are young they look too much like the wheat, so uprooting them is not an option. On the other hand, when they are fully grown they are too intertwined with the wheat that to remove the weeds at that time would mean that the wheat too would be lost. So, the response is wait until the time of ‘harvest’. In this case the day of judgement. Disturbing, right?
This passage shows us that God will not purge evil, otherwise hurting the ‘good’ in a considerable way.
Think about it like this…
We are all a little bad. Right? Admit it. We’ve all ‘sinned’. We’ve all possibly lied, or taken when we shouldn’t have, held a grudge, and the list can keep going. We are all a little bad.
If God were to purge ALL evil from this world, He’d have to get rid of us all. Yet, God loves you and I dearly!
This offers tremendous HOPE! Not only do we grow in our patience as we love and wait till the ‘day of harvest’. We also get to see from God’s vantage point… somewhat.  We get to see what He sees, and love what He loves and be on Mission in the same vein of Jesus. We can also see how amazingly Good God is verses, how evil evil can be… not only in us but as a whole [this helps answer the question ‘Why are there weeds in the first place?’ — there are other ways to answer this: freedom of will, God didn’t create pre-programmed puppets that say ‘I love you God’, thus the option not to love Him and to  love self which quickly leads to greed and inward focused living – evil].
Most importantly we see how amazing God’s Grace really is… He is patient and waits and works and woos and relentlessly loves us! Helping us want to love Him and those around us, helping us weed the gardens of our heart.
He does that by sending us the Holy Spirit to work in us, guiding us and leading us.  Let’s be open to Him!
PRAYER
Jesus, help me to always be thankful for your goodness, to be attentive to your Spirit and to be sensitive to His leading. Give us strength to live by Your Word. Help us to honor You in all we say, think and do! Amen.

3 Things to Newlife

I’ve been watching how people in our church love, serve, give, laugh, and grow. Here are 3 things I’d like to comment about and encourage you in.

1.   The Barnabas Factor

Look up Barnabas! He was the encourager of Paul when he was converted to Christianity! Barnabas was a key catalyst to Paul’s credibility in ministry (Acts 9:27-31).  Let’s continue to build the Barnabas factor at Newlife. Here is what I’ve seen many of you at Newlife do:

  • You are Encouragers: You Breath Life Into People    Proverbs 10:11  “The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.”
  • You Speak Highly of Each Other:  Word comes back to me about ‘OUR Church’ and all I hear is people speaking highly of ‘YOUR Church.” This means that some of you Barnabases are speaking highly of YOUR family. Keep it up.
Those that are weak in their faith and identity in Christ will often be the ones that tear down and speak negatively/harshly/belittling, either at an/or to others.  But those that have the courage to see what Jesus sees in others will always build others up and love others even when it is difficult. Let’s be strong in faith, identity in Christ and lets breath life into others!

2.   On the Faith Journey with ‘Simon, Paul and Timothy’ –>  Best Formula For Growth

  • Do you have a Paul in your life? The Pauls in your life are the ones that have gone ahead spiritually. Followers of Jesus that have ‘been there, done that’. Men and women of the faith that can challenge you in your faith journey. Pauls that will listen to you, but not afraid to speak the truth to you. A Spiritual Mother (for ladies) or a Father (for the men) that will help guide you and pray for you. You can be the Timothy to someone who is like a Paul. Do you have at least one Paul in your life? Let them know it! (It’ll bless them to pieces!!)
  • Do you have a Simon in your life? These are the men and women in your life that are peers to you. Same place in life, learning the same things as you, process the same things you’re processing. Who is a Simon in your life? That can relate to you and both of you can encourage one another and keep each other accountable? You gotta have a Simon!
  • Do you have a Timothy in your life?  It doesn’t matter how much you know there will always be someone that knows more than you do, and it doesn’t matter how little you know, there will always be someone who knows less. Those are your Timothy’s. People in the Journey with Jesus that can learn from you. Who is your Timothy? Paul poured his life into Timothy like a father would. Who are you pouring into, what you know about Jesus?

An Amazing Formula for Growth!

3.   Testimony

What do you say when someone asks you about your faith? Is it tough to articulate? I bet it might be since our faith is in everlasting flux (growing, week to week). In the next few weeks I’m going to do my best to teach you how to share your faith or ‘testimony’ with people. Your own personal journey with God that helps people see what you see and possibly help those listening start their journey.

Be thinking about your walk, your story and how that might help others get to know God!! What’s Your Testimony! 

When Tempted, You…

I really love this fourth chapter of Luke! Not only does it continue to validate Jesus and His ministry, but also His divinity and authority. Here is what stood out to me.

SOAP

Scripture

The three times that Jesus responds with ‘The Scriptures Say…’ to the temptations that satan brings.

Observation

Imagine being tempted with the things you want most in a time of such need. He hadn’t eaten in forty days, so satan tempts Him with food. Satan knew that Jesus is called the King of kings, yet it is not time for Jesus to reign, again Jesus declines with Scripture [Even the right thing at the wrong time … is still the wrong thing]. He didn’t use will power or some kind of Jesus power to decline satan. He gave us an example of what we must do — when tempted, we must use Scripture.

Application

I need to apply this to my life everyday! When I’m tempted to react in anger, I have to remind myself what the Bible says about that, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 or “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” Proverbs 15:18. Two of many helpful verses for me. I need to apply Jesus’ example in many areas of my life; decision making (don’t be too hasty), handling money, making the best use of my time, etc.

When satan tempts us, there is ALWAYS a way out. The devil is powerless to make us do anything, we are just too weak and acquiesce, but Jesus provides a way out through His Word.

Prayer

Father, remind me daily of Your ways and direction. Help me to always choose You over myself or anything else. Give me strength to honor You in all I say think and do.

Pray // Read // Contemplate // Pray // Execute

I’m reading through the book of Romans tomorrow, I start Corinthians tomorrow. I love reading God’s Word!

The only thing that I don’t like is the fact that IF and WHEN (there is always a ‘WHEN’) I read something that calls me to act… I better do it! Otherwise, I’m a liar!
IF I look at a piece of Scripture that doesn’t please me in some way, and calls me to either process the theological principle or concept, or calls me to action. THEN, I’m a fat liar! I am not walking with the Creator of the Heavens. I become a hypocrite and only accept what I want of Scripture.

So, when I read, I try always to pray, asking God to reveal His truth to me and for Him to search me, to search my heart for areas that He’s been trying to get at. I read, think, ponder, meditate on what I read and then I pray again for Jesus to help me execute what I read. I begin to apply what I read into my daily routines.

I don’t understand how people say things like, “I want to go deeper into the things of God.” If they (forgive me for generalizing) only knew that some of the very simple challenges God makes through Scripture, they are not executing in their own lives.

Pray — always pray that God guide you to a place where we can see Him best.
Read — Understand the text, within its context (time in history, culture)
Contemplate – Meditate — really take in the passage for understanding but also for knowing the spiritual implications and possibly your responsibility to that piece of text.
Execute — What is God calling you to do? What will be your next steps as you keep yourself accountable for the text you’ve just read. PRAYERFULLY EXECUTE!

Start Reading! A Chapter a Day is a good place to start in any of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) or even Acts.

Let me know how it goes!