I never had a watch until I was thirteen. Mom said I needed to be home for supper at five but how was I to know what time it was? Most of my time as a youngster was spent in the woods of the local park that had railroad tracks running through it. I quickly figured out when the green railroad signal light shone, it was time to get home. If I were to get home late, depending on how late, there was a chance I would be sent to my room without supper. As a growing boy, who could eat his weight in groceries, I did my best to minimize tardiness.
However, if my activities took me away from the train signal and into the neighborhood how did I tell time? This past Saturday, I was in the car waiting while my wife ran into a store. With window down, I was transported to another place and time. I was a child again as I listened to chimes from two different churches. That is what I told time with! In those days, almost every church played chimes on the hour from about 8 AM to 6 PM. They would range from a bell clanging the number of hours in the day to heavenly hymns. Moreover, they reminded me to give God time.
Saturday reminded me of a peace this land once had. A time where there was not as much strife and there was more love for each other going around. We long for times like that, but instead of looking backward we must look forward to Him who controls the future.
Psalm 48 describes a similar situation. Jerusalem has had its ups and downs throughout history, but never count her out. She is the timepiece we all must watch. Keeping an eye on Jerusalem will let us know when it is getting close to supper time (with the Lamb). “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:1-2).
Someday soon, Jerusalem will be what God intended it to be-a city of peace!. Furthermore, the occupants thereof (the saved) will hear all kinds of praise and heavenly tunes. We will lift up our voices and join in the hallelujah chorus-“Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Ps. 48:11-14). “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev.22:20). God is always on time!
“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy.” Winston Churchill observed this personally as he stood at the helm of Great Britain during some of the most turbulent years in their modern history. Another man who understood the casualties of war were more than fallen patriots on the field would be David. Someone else said, “The first casualty of war is the truth,” and you begin to see the unraveling threads of David’s reign in these first few chapters of 2 Samuel. His compass for truth spins a little.
If you value life, you can’t help but feel ill after reading 2 Samuel 1-4. Take a moment, though, and notice some of the inconsistencies which plague David’s leadership. David and his mighty men have been back in Ziklag for only two days when they receive word from an Amalekite, Saul is dead. How ironic for this to be the case since Saul was responsible to eliminate the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15. Once David learns of Saul and Jonathan’s death, he is overwrought with grief. However, when Asahel dies in battle and nineteen of David’s mighty men, you do not see a hint of a tearful song from David. Then in 2 Samuel 3, Joab murders Abner, and David eulogizes his death, “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (2 Samuel 3:38).
Another interesting inconsistency is the messenger who supposedly finished Saul off on the battlefield and the two men who killed Ishbosheth in bed receive capital punishment immediately, but Joab’s murder of Abner merits only the remark, “These men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness” (2 Samuel 3:39).
David was emotionally charged which moved him to take a stand against God’s enemies but also clouded his judgment in crucial matters close to home. Paul gives us pertinent instruction when he says, “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them…See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:10–11, 15–18).
We can easily resign control of our lives to any number of powerful influences. In Ephesians, it is wine, but it could easily be emotionalism. There are many things we can admire about David’s life. He was the “man after God’s own heart,” but choosing emotionalism to be your master is never a fruitful choice. Prove what is acceptable. Reprove the works of darkness. Walk circumspectly. Redeem the time. Be filled with the Spirit. He will lead you in the ways of wisdom you desperately need when tragedy strikes.
Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course, they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience, he gives them a signal to go back to drink. Now, this may be severe but when you are in the trackless desert of Arabia and your life is entrusted to a horse, you had better have a trained obedient horse.
The wilderness journeys of these people are much like those Arabian horses. They are being conditioned to readily recognize that God is totally in control. God will lead where he sovereignly deems helpful. He will provide miraculously. He will protect.
Much like any of us in similar situations, the Children of Israel did not care much for the training. They began to complain. “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:24). How dangerous is complaining? We do it all the time, right? Winter has lasted too long. The weather is too hot. My car doesn’t cooperate. Dinner isn’t my favorite. It happens without us giving it a thought.
There are a few dangers of complaining. First, it cripples you. Complaining makes you the victim of circumstances which discourages you. Staying mentally healthy during a wilderness trial is crucial. Jesus taught his disciples to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Appreciating what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have could be the helmet of salvation which protects your mind in life’s struggles.
Complaining also infects others. In the Bible, we are warned against “defiling” others. This word is a fascinating picture. It means to “paint in color.” Every time we complain, we taint the minds of others by flinging paintbrushes of paint on them. After a while, the paint is caked on you and you feel rotten! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
Lastly, complaining dishonors God. Complaining is really a lust for more. Such unfulfilled desires lead to anxiety or anger and in the end, hopelessness and despair. Complaining is an undercover vice which spoils the vines of gratitude in our lives. Ask the Lord to help you think on things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good report (Philippians 4:8). Every circumstance you face is another test for you to grow in obedience to God.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
It is very common for people to frequently take advantage of either another person or a situation, whether in a positive or a negative way. For example, sometimes in sports a starter will get hurt resulting in the backup coming in who “takes advantage of the situation”, plays very well and ends up replacing the starter even when he or she is healthy enough to play. Our reading today reminds us of someone else who is looking to take advantage of us. In 2 Cor. 2:11 we read, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
While it is true we do not want to walk around in fear that Satan is around every corner trying to attack us, on the other hand I believe we often minimize the power and influence that Satan has in this world today. Paul apparently had done some prior teaching about Satan to the Corinthian church as he says that “we are not ignorant of his devices.” In other words, he was saying that they were aware of his evil schemes and desires.
In context of this verse, Paul is referring to his admonition that the Corinthian church forgive and take back the man who was guilty of an egregious sin in 1 Corinthians. Paul was encouraging unity in the church and for them to move forward for the cause of the repentant brother and cause of Christ. No doubt he was referring to the fact that Satan would love to take advantage of the situation if the church did not do the right thing and forgive this brother and accept him back in the membership.
So, we need to ask the question of when do we allow Satan to try to get his foot in the door of our lives? Are we even looking out for the fact that he is a “roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)? I heard recently the noted radio preacher David Jeremiah talk about a book called, “Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth” which was co-authored by Carole Carlson. Carole told Dr. Jeremiah that while she was working on this book she felt like she was under attack like never before in her life and definitely felt like she was in a spiritual battle as she tried to finish the book. She then shared that the very day the book was finished and sent out for publishing, her son was killed in a freak plane crash. Now obviously we can’t say for sure what went on behind the scenes in a story like that but I also don’t think we can just casually toss it up to coincidence either. We need to be on guard and recognize that we truly are in a spiritual battle and desperately need the Lord’s guidance and protection from the “accuser of the brethren.” (Rev 12:10)
“No Salary, No Benefits, No Sleep: This Is The World’s Toughest Job”
This is the title of a 2014 article in the Time Magazine. Twenty-four applicants found out “The job had a mandatory 135+ hours a week of work and required the job holder to be on call at all times, day or night, lift up to 75 pounds, be constantly moving and operate on little to no sleep. Qualified candidates should have a knowledge of psychology, medicine, personal finance, culinary arts and basic technology skills.”
The applicants were surprised to find out they were being interviewed to be a Mom! You got it right. The persuasive presentation was concocted to help people value the sacrifices moms make around the world as they care for their families. Sometimes as moms or dads, we can feel the old saying is true, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” We have to be somewhat proficient at everything, but you don’t have the capacity to excel at any one thing.
If you want a happy home, let me tell you there is one simple thing you can excel at and it will make all the difference. It jumped into my mind while I was reading Job 31:8, “Then let me sow, and let another eat; Yea, let my offspring be rooted out.” Job has several cycles in this chapter where he defends his righteousness then in an oath condemns himself if his boasting is false. Back up one verse and you read, “If my step hath turned out of the way, And mine heart walked after mine eyes” (Job 31:7).
This beautifully connects with Psalm 128 which is one of the most important passages you need to study in order to have a healthy family. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; That walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:1–2). One of the most satisfying feelings is a job well-done and you enjoying the fruit of your labors. It may be after you mow your lawn sitting on the porch drinking a glass of ice tea and reveling in your accomplishment. It may be finally getting the kitchen under control after everyone is contentedly filled. Job equated eating what he sowed, fulfillment, as the blessing of walking in the paths of God. The psalmist makes the same connection.
You do not need to master being a coach, tutor, mentor, psychologist, medic, cook, and anything else the world guilts you into doing for your family. If you want to have a healthy family, if you want your wife to be radiant, if you want your children to show eternal promise, if you want to enjoy watching your grandchildren claim your godly heritage, then don’t be the jack of all trades for it is true you will master none. Make one thing your aim: Fear the Lord and walk in his ways. Then you will be blessed (Asher) and all your family with you.