A Gentle Reminder

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him. 2 Samuel 5:9-10

David had just conquered the fortress of Zion, where the Jebusites lived. He made it his base. Second Samuel tells us that David was becoming more and more powerful because the Lord was with him. It certainly is an important point to note because without the Lord, David was nothing. It would be very easy for King David to forget that. He had everything going for him as a king. And he was gaining power.

It's the same for us. Without the Lord, we are nothing. It's often difficult for us in the West to hear that because we like thinking that we can do things on our own. God gives us talents and gifts to do those things, but ultimately He gets the glory. We need to be reminded of this early and often.

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Now Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah slipped away. 2 Samuel 4:5-6

Ish-Bosheth was a frightened man because of what had happened to Abner, his military commander. Two of his enemies knew that and devised a plan to kill him. Later they took Ish-Bosheth's head to King David expecting to be rewarded. Instead David killed them on the spot because they had killed an innocent man.

It's not often that we in the West see instant justice. It takes a long time for the justice system to work here. It works (some might take issue with that), but it's a long process. Victims and perpetrators must wait for months or years before their case comes to court.

Pray for the officials in the Department of Justice. Pray that what they do will be honorable and fair. Due process in our system works and is what separates our system with those of Banana Republics. Pray that the Attorney General and the people on his staff will uphold the law in every case they oversee. And of course, pray for their souls.

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When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. 2 Samuel 4:1

Ish-Bosheth reigned over Israel for two years. Second Samuel tells that he lost his courage when he heard that his commander died. What happened next, even though only five words in English, should be a warning to all leaders: your people expect you to remain calm in the face of adversity. If a leader panics and the people see that, they become panicky as well. They figure, rightly or wrongly, if the leader is that concerned, so should we.

In the next few days, watch your leaders carefully. Most, if not all, are even keeled. When President George W. Bush was in office during the tragic events of 9-11, when you saw his face, you knew that something was very wrong. You didn't know exactly what happened, but you knew something was amiss. Leaders don't often show a lot of emotion, but when they do it has meaning. They like to give the perception that everything is fine.

Pray for the President and Congress that they will seek God now and when they are in the midst of crises.

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So David went up [to Hebron] with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
      When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, "The LORD bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."
2 Samuel 1:2-7

Despite David's problems with Saul, he was grateful for those who actually buried Saul. David was clearly cut from a different cloth, so to speak. He took a strong stand against any who opposed the King, and brought blessing to those who honored the King. He could have just ignored the issue, but he made it a point to call out those who would normally never get the credit.

Being grateful for the little (and not so little) things is an important part of the Christian walk. Those reading this devotional are probably grateful men and women. You're grateful for the little things in life. But you don't get a lot of credit. Despite what the world says, you are doing what's right. You are walking step by step with Christ and He sees your faithfulness. The world will not recognize it as such and may mock you for it. Hang in there. Keep at it. Continue to show your gratitude and thankfulness for what you've been brought through. As the Scriptures say, "your labor is not in vain."

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Wise Leaders Pray

In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. "Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?" he asked. The LORD said, "Go up." David asked, "Where shall I go?" "To Hebron," the LORD answered. 2 Samuel 2:1

Wouldn't it be great if we were to seek God as David did and get answers right away like he did? Even though those were very different times and they used different means to "inquire of the Lord" (through the priests, ephods, Urim, Thummin, and personally), the principle is the same, they still had to humble themselves to ask. I'll take this passage at face value and understand it to mean that David heard from the Lord himself as to what he should do. The Lord answered and David obeyed.

Wise leaders pray. They realize that they don't have all the answers. David didn't have all the answers and he was the King over Judah. As leaders and followers, we can learn this simple lesson, the great men and women of the Bible prayed to God. Sounds simple but when you're in the thick of major issues and policies, prayer goes by the wayside. Prayer then may have looked different than what we know today, but the fact remains: they humbled themselves to ask God to give them wisdom and counsel.

If there's an issue that you're wrestling with, keep wrestling with God over it. I've said it before, the wrestling may be more important than the actual answer! Keep at it; you'll come through, and when you do, God will get the glory!

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Slandering Leaders

David said to the young man who brought him the report, "Where are you from?" "I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite," he answered.
David asked him, "Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?"
Then David called one of his men and said, "Go, strike him down!" So he struck him down, and he died. For David had said to him, "Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, 'I killed the LORD's anointed.' "
2 Samuel 1:13-16

Even though King Saul hated David and wanted him killed, David still respected the office he held. In fact, the Bible records at least twice where David himself could have killed the King, but he chose not to.

Throughout this series I have emphasized the need to pray for those and to submit to those in authority (Romans 13:1). Obviously leaders are not immune to doing wrong or evil, but be careful what you say against those in authority. In other words, don't let careless or hateful words detract from your overall message.

Here's why I say that. Know it or not, like it or not, we are being watched. Our co-workers and unbelieving friends are watching to see how we react. What sets you apart in this regard? Are you like they are? Are you praying for those leaders regularly? Are you pleading with God to change their hearts? Are you asking God to fill your heart with love towards those leaders you strongly disagree with?

As I write this, there is rioting in the streets over what many
perceive to be fraudulent elections. The former leader Ahmadinijab was
said to have lost 15 million to 8 million but he's already claimed
victory. Pray for what's happening there.

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Leadership Pressures

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.
Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me."
      But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
1 Samuel 31:1-6

King Saul saw that there was no way out of a certain death, so rather than die at the hands of the enemies, he decides to take his life. First he implores his armor-bearer to run a sword through him. The sword-bearer refused. So, Saul fell on his own sword, and his armor-bearer did the same.

Leaders like King Saul are under pressures that you and I never have to face. Doing the right thing all the time can be burdensome, especially when it could easily affect thousands or millions of lives. In Saul's case, he knew that if he were captured, he might have been tortured or beaten.

I recall hearing stories of Sir Winston Churchill after many great political battles would go up against another difficult enemy: depression.

Pray for the leaders in your country. Pray that they will be able to bring many of their cares to God. Pray also that while they are under pressure, they will begin to seek God.

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Keep Bugging God

He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her."  "There is one in Endor," they said. 1 Samuel 28:6-7

This is certainly a troubling passage for Christians and rightly so. There's a lot we don't know in this passage. Did Saul actually hear Samuel and did the medium actually see Samuel? Was the voice of Samuel telling the truth about the kingdom being ripped out of Saul's hands and into David's?

Saul knew that he had turned his back on God; Samuel knew it; David and Jonathan knew it. And yet Saul tried to get answers from the Lord about what he should do next in battle against the Philistines. He got nothing, so he consulted a medium. Again, the voice of Samuel confirmed that he was turning away from the Lord.

I don't know a lot about the spirit realm, but I do know this: Christians ought not to be dabbling into divining the truth from someone other than God. If we don't get an answer from God on a matter, keep asking. Keep bugging God for your answers. You'll find that that's what He wanted you to do all along.

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But God…

David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands. 1 Samuel 23:14

Again and again in the Bible, the theme is "man tries to do things on his own and is thwarted by God." Saul has a zeal to eliminate the person he thinks is his archenemy, David. King Saul's obsessed with finding David. But what does the Scriptures say? God did not give David into his hands. At any moment, God could have led Saul and his men in the general vicinity of David's hideout. He could have led Saul right to David, but he didn't.

God in control. He controls leaders; He controls followers. He's in control of politics and culture and society and conflicts and any number of things you can name. We need to hear that God is in control. We need to be told over and over again that we don't need to trust in our own resources or our military or our eloquent diplomacy. God is even in control of the ballot box, each one.

In the midst of a world gone crazy, God is in control. Repeat it often. Tell your friends. It doesn't matter what comes your way, God is in control.

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