Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Lovely and the Precious (1 Samuel 30:1-8)

Those things most lovely and precious in life are often subject to our barbarian flesh. We denounce our values by seeking immediate gratification through sinful means. For example, have you ever avoided conflict resolution by gossip or "prayer requests", ultimately demeaning the one you should be actively loving? Have you tuned out difficult people, hopeless situations, or overwhelming emotions by overeating, sleeping, or drunkenness? Have you been negligent to show appreciation and value for your family or spouse? If you have, you know that sinful desires distract us from obedience to God's Word, devaluing those things that are lovely and precious before God.

For David, those who were lovely and precious were taken captive. The Amalekites burned Ziklag with fire and swept away all of the women and children. And such destruction overtook them while David was follwing after the Philistines to war against his own people, Israel.

Remember that Saul punctured David's side like a thorn, so much that David had sought rest in the land of the hated Philistines. Given Ziklag to live in, David and his men established a new home. The displaced Isrealites then became obligated to the Philistines during wartime - even against their Israelite brethren. Yet, beyond this military alliance David led his men to war by choice. With the destruction of his nemesis close at hand, imagine the sweet revenge!

Unexpectedly rejected from the war march , the displaced Israelites tucked their tails between their legs and returned home (1 Sam 29). But home did not exist. During David's ungodly attempt at war against Saul, the Amalekites obliterated Ziklag.

Consequences weighed hard upon David as the leader. His men smoldered like embers of anger and bitterness, desiring to stone him. Grieving his own loss of wife and children, the emotion of his men's loss came back to him ten fold. His barbarian flesh had fallen short of providing and protecting them. Instead, they stood humiliated and stripped for their neighbors to see.

But God showed himself gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness (see also Ex 34:5-7). David relinquished his pride and independence, strengthening himself in God's presence and seeking permission to march in war once again, but this time against the Amalekites.

Wonderous and merciful, God answered David. David received the command to go, for ALL would be rescued. Every precious life and every lovely woman was promised to return.

What abundance our God wills for those who reptent and turn from their wicked ways! Rather than giving us leverage to satisfy our barbarian flesh, the Lord's work on David's behalf should encourage us to run to God in our conviction of sin. He has redeemed us, and His promise will sustain us. Let's turn to him in the sin of our flesh. Not distracted any longer, but setting our desires upon Him and seeking His counsel through the Bible, prayer, and godly counselors.

Will you repent and return in order to gain what is lovely and precious? Return, despite the consequences of your sin, and be strengthened in the Lord.

© 2007 by Kendra Hinkle

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible (R), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Regarding Christian Accountability

"We all need someone who loves us, but is not impressed by us."

Howard Hendricks

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When in Conflict, Read Proverbs 18

I don't get you men. Period. You make me crazy. I want to put you in a headlock for hours on end and rub onion on your face or peanut butter in your hair. Will you ever make sense to me?

The past week has been a bit stressful for me. I've had a lot of animosity towards a brother in Christ. Withholding from quarrelsome attitudes and honoring him despite my feelings was hard, and I definitely failed a lot.

In the midst of my trial, the Lord was faithful to lead me to Proverbs 18. Therein my heart was humbled. The power of the tongue and the speech of the fool spoke loudly to me. In addition, separating oneself from people (even in avoiding conflict) is both self-serving and unwise.

When trouble arises, it needs to be reconciled between brothers and sisters in Christ. It is not biblical to avoid conflict, to continue in quarrelsome attitudes, or to grant your tongue freedom of expression. The "we" is greater than "me," and reconciliation needs to happen within the scope of honesty, love, and forgiveness.

If you'd like to be humbled in your communication, taught wiser ways, I suggest opening up to Proverbs 18. I can come help shovel you up off of the floor when you are finished worshipping through it. That's where I was as the Spirit lowered me to a place of humility.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Not Easily Forgotten (1 Samuel 29)

I wish I could forget, and I wish my family could forget, the legend of Kendra - hummingbird whisperer. Of all the things to be tormented by when I get the rare chance to be with extended family. . . I wish the memory would die!

When I was small, I occasionally had the patience to focus uncanny amounts of energy and time on whatever I was interested in. One summer day, it happened to be the myriad of hummingbirds on my grandmother's feeder. Hovering and fleeing, the tiny birds didn't stop for a moment. My company of relatives eventually went to see other farm wonders, leaving me standing alone among my migratory friends. I stood there so long that the little bitties decided it safe to return to the feeder only an arms reach away from me.

I wanted one of those little birds to sit on my hand, so I held it out for what seemed like hours. No luck. Since that didn't work, and they weren't scared of me anymore, I figured I would help one out a bit. I picked one of the hummingbirds off of the feeder with two of my fingers and placed him on my hand. I think we were both equally surprised by the tactic, because he just sat there staring at me for a while and I back at him. One of my aunts noticed my open palm with the bird on it and began to yell. Soon everyone gathered around and he flew off.

That's the day the legend began. Unfortunately, none of them saw me pick up the bird from the feeder, so the legend states that the bird flew and landed on my hand. As an adult I've shamefully informed most of the family of what really happened, but my sweet grandmother still believes the lie. My heart broke when I heard that several times since I was a child, she's tried to replicate the instance by standing for very long periods of time next to the feeder with her palm out. I couldn't bear to smash her hopes of one day becoming a hummingbird whisperer!

David can definitely understand my remorse as a man of legend himself. God displayed His power through David many times in battle. Songs were sung of him, and the Philistines remembered his triumph over Goliath. Having fled from his countrymen and living among the Philistines, David marched to war against his brethren.

His legend as a vessel of God's action was a concern to the Philistines. They rejected David from their midst as they readied to war with Israel. David's faith and service to God through King Saul's leadership was not easily forgotten.

Closed doors often confuse us or worry us. But closed doors also show God's direction. Here among the Philistines, David and his men are rejected and sent home. It is a decisive and sovereign act of God through the Godless Philistines.

What is God doing? We will soon see. Unexpected changes in life, especially closed doors to the things we want, are often the beautiful and sovereign hand of God working on our behalf.

© 2007 by Kendra Hinkle