Friendship

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August 8

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

My title is Listening to Wise Counsel vs Foolish Counsel.

I read each morning from the ESV Reader’s Bible. It has no verse numbering or chapter divisions. This morning I started reading Proverbs 8. It sure seemed to be a long chapter but I thought “Oh well.” Unbeknownst to me, the pages turned together and I found myself in chapter 9. I found that out when I went to journal. I underlined verse 9 when I was reading: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” By itself seemingly simple. But combine that with a story from 2 Chronicles 10 and it is amazing how Scripture can be tied together.

It’s the story of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (R). Following Solomon’s death the people came to R and made a request: “Please lighten the load your father put on us and we will serve you.” So he told them to return in 3 days for their answer. He sought counsel from the older men who worked alongside his father. They suggested he do just that. His peers, guys he had hung around, suggested making it harder (using quite descriptive language). R chose the latter.

A wiser man would have listened to his elders. The ensuing result was the disgruntlement of the people and their refusal to follow R. Ultimately, the kingdom split. R showed himself to be a fool.  He should have heeded his own father’s words.

“Father, may I be a man of wisdom-one who seeks your counsel and the counsel of other wise men. I’m not an island and at times I cannot and should not be an arbitrary decision-maker. Help me to seek wise counsel on tough decisions and then heed it.”

August 1

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

My title for this devotion is Isolation vs Companionship.

There is a foolish bent many people-especially men-have. They can go it alone. They don’t need anyone. A number of years ago there was a book called The Friendless American Male which focused on that vein of thought: men thinking they don’t need anyone. ‘Course that simply is not true.

We all need someone in our corner. As I was reading I Chronicles this morning, in a list of people which included military leaders, leaders of tribes, David organizing the priests and Levites, and a whole host of other lists, there are three verses I know I have read before (unless I skipped over them… 🙂 ), but saw for the first time today. Here is what it says:

Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding and a scribe. He and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni attended the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king’s army.  [27:32-34]

David had someone serve as counselor for his sons. David himself had a counselor (someone he deferred to).  David had a special and close friend. David was not isolated. He used others to help make decisions. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

It all starts with God (according to that verse in Proverbs). But God also brings people alongside us who lend their expertise-whether it be that of serving as a counselor, a sounding board or someone to bounce ideas off of-or as a friend. No man is to be isolated or to live in a isolated environment.

“Lord, help me to gather around me people with wisdom and character and grace. People who are not ‘Yes’ men, but those who are honest and straightforward. Men who love You more than anyone else. Help me to find wise men to be my counselor and friend.”

July 19/Weekend

Friday, July 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Meeting a Celeb vs Meeting Jesus.

Have you ever really wanted to meet someone? As a youngster I was deeply interested in baseball. I want to meet some of my baseball heroes. Since I was from Pittsburgh and played first base, I wanted to meet Dick Stuart. i.e. Dr Strangeglove (he wasn’t very good on defense but he could hit the ball a mile). I began reading material from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and wanted to meet the Christian ballplayers. I got into music and wanted to meet Tommy James and Frankie Valli. I had the chance to meet  one of my favorite Christian rock singers when I met Dana Key of DeGarmo & Key. He even came out of his bus to talk! Cool dude enjoying making music in heaven right now.

My “worship” of my childhood idols has waned and disappeared. I’m older now. Wiser (I hope). Less moved by someone’s name or status in life. Definitely not as “hungry” to meet people as I used to be. They all put their pants on the same way I do.

I used to wonder what I’d do if I met a celebrity. Stammer? Stutter? Speechless? Make myself a nuisance by wanting a picture? Gush? Maybe be disappointed at the arrogance? Aloofness?

Even better. Meeting Jesus. Imagine what that will be like.  Will I stutter? Stammer? Or fall down at his feet in worship? Hug him? Be hugged? Weep tears of joy and gratitude? Laugh? Does it matter? I don’t think so. I will be in His presence. That alone will be worth it all.

“Father, there is no one greater than You. There is no one I’d rather met than you. I look forward to that hug and ‘Welcome Home’ from you. Until that time, let me not be enamored by anyone or anything other than you.”

June 22

Monday, June 24th, 2019

My devotion title is Happiness vs Joy.

We often hear, and I’ve often said, there is a difference between happiness and joy. And there is. To put it is a few short words: Happiness is based on circumstances; Joy in spite of circumstances. I’d have to say that is true. I’m finding myself in a situation that does not make me happy, but one I will need to find joy in.

I am in another state, giving up my time at home and work, to do something I find rather distasteful: cleaning up   someone’s mess. The mess could have been avoided and alleviated in other ways, but it wasn’t. My being here does not make me happy.

But I must and can find joy in this.

If I don’t it will be a ve-e-e-e-ry long two weeks. Let alone a miserable one. I’m going to find joy when I want to grumble. I’m going to find joy when I want to complain. I’m going to find joy when the job seems too big and overwhelming. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Paul did say he wanted to finish his race with joy (Acts 20:24).

And besides, I’m making the person I love the most happy. That is something to be joyful about!!

“Father, help me find joy today in spite of what has to be done. Help me find joy because of You. Fill me with joy so I can experience that fruit of Spirit.”

June 16-Weekend Extra

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

My title is Lights Out vs Lights On.

I know it is late in the weekend and I plan to post another tomorrow but wanted to post a thought from this weekend.

Two events are affected by the weather today-Father’s Day and our 46th Anniversary. A tornado came through and hit the REMC facility so all of REMC is out. Our house electricity went out for about 7 hours and came back on about 3:00 A.M. (Different provider than REMC). The office is still out. If the sun was out it wouldn’t be too bad inside but it’s gray and threatening. Seems strange walking into rooms and flipping a switch for power and response and not get it.

How typical of life too. There are different kinds of people:

  1. The light is off and they stay in the dark. God’s Word is shined on them and they refuse to respond.
  2. The light is shined but its either a false light or they refuse to heed God’s Word and choose their own light.
  3. The light of God’s Word is shined and they respond to that light with illumination in their hearts.

Jesus said He was the light of the world. All who would come to Him will find the true light. So much of what people hear today is false light-I’ll call it black light-whether it be from a worldly teacher or from someone who calls himself a biblical teacher. Jesus also commissioned me (all His followers) to be a light and not hide it under a bushel. I may be the only light in someone’s world.

“Father, you are the True and only light of the world. All who come to you must come through Jesus, the Light.  As He is the Light of the world, so must I represent that Light. As you have illuminated my life, let me the instrument to bring your light to others.”

June 3

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

I was able to find time to have my Quiet Time this morning and a public computer so I thought I would take advantage of that!

My title is Personal Faith vs. Family Faith.

As a Christ-follower I have a rich heritage. I accepted Christ and a week later was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1960. I was 8 years old. I am now 66. I have “followed” Christ (if my math is right) for 58 years. I’ve had my ups and downs as all do. I have my moments of pure disgust at my behavior and waywardness, but also have moments of recommitment of my faith. Once when I was in 7th grade, which is probably the first time I began thinking of the ministry. Again in college I made the step to pursue a lifetime in the ministry.

Along the way I was always made aware that any choice I made needd to come from me, from my own personal faith. It couldn’t be my grandfather’s. It couldn’t be my mother’s. It couldn’t be my pastor’s (my faith tanked when he left my Junior year in High School).

I reminded of that when I read the story of Joash in 2 Chronicles 24. A child king at the age of 7, Joash was guided by Jehoiada, the priest and his uncle. As long as Jehoiada was alive and guiding Joash, he reigned well. But once his uncle died,  Joash went off the deep end. (24:15-26). He eventually was assassinated. He was told by Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, that because he had forsaken God, God had forsaken him. What a tragic end to a great start.

“Father, you led me to establish my own faith, to not rely on the faith of my grandfather, mother, or pastor. I thank you for that. Help me as a husband, a father, a grandfather, as a pastor, and as a friend to do the same for them. May they each have a faith that is real and personal.”

May 21

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

My title for today’s devotion is Lasting Friendship vs. Fair-Weather Friendship.

One of the stories in the life of David which has always found a soft spot in my heart is the story of Mephibosheth (M for short) in 2 Samuel 9. The story actually goes back years before that when David and Jonathan had a friendship that was and is a “poster child” for friendship. It wasn’t tawdry like some want to make it to justify their perverted lifestyle. It was a friendship born out of a deep love and respect for each other. It was so deep they made a covenant with each other.

Here is some of the history:

  • After David defeated Goliath (I Samuel 18), they established a bond. So much so that Jonathan made a covenant with David and took off his robe, sword, bow and belt and gave it to David as a symbol of acknowledgment of their friendship, but also David’s right to be king.
  • When Jonathan said he would warn David of his father’s intentions, he asked David to not forget him and his family. (I Sam.20).
  • David mourns Jonathan’s death and takes the life of the one who claims to have taken Saul’s life.

But in a strange twist of events in I Samuel 9, David sets out to fulfill his promise to Jonathan. He finds out M, who was crippled when a nurse dropped him while fleeing with him in her arms. (2 Samuel 4:4). David calls M to his house.  He gives land to him that is rightfully his; sets up people to manage it for him; then brings M to his table where he is to eat for the rest of his life.

David never forgot his friendship with Jonathan. It was not a friendship based on fair-weather; it was a lasting friendship that stood the test of time. A friendship reminiscent of God’s with us. Not one based on our good actions which gain God’s approval but one God maintains in spite of our actions.

“I’m thankful, Father, for your constant love and friendship. Your feelings toward me are not based on my response to you because you never change. Thank you for a lasting, forever friendship.”