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Your Majesty, look at what I’m holding. You can see that it’s a piece of your robe. If I could cut off a piece of your robe, I could have killed you. But I let you live, and that should prove I’m not trying to harm you or to rebel. I haven’t done anything to you, and yet you keep trying to ambush and kill me. 1 Samuel 24:11 (CEV)

“You deserve this,” David thought as he watched Saul enter the cave where he was hiding with his small group of men.

It had to have been fate. Saul had been trying to kill David for years. Although David had been anointed King by the prophet there was no indication that the throne would be his anytime soon.

Creeping through the shadows, knife in hand, he moved closer to Saul who was preoccupied with relieving himself in what he thought was an empty cave. One slash with the knife and the kingdom was his; the kingdom that was rightfully his in the first place.

Great story, huh? Trouble is, that’s not what happened. No one would have blamed David for taking Saul out that day in the cave. He was an arrogant, angry, deranged man.

Did David have a right to kill Saul that day? Yes.

Did he have the opportunity to kill Saul? Certainly.

Did he have the power to kill Saul and execute revenge upon him? Definitely.

David’s action that day in the cave was not only an act of mercy, it showed meekness on David’s part. Meekness isn’t the same as weakness, in fact meekness is just the opposite. Meekness is power under control. David chose to act with integrity and set aside his rights in order to wait for God’s timing to get the kingdom promised him.

Our culture has taught us that success comes from being the strongest; from standing up for your rights; from being the best at all costs. But Jesus says “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Meekness isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s part of our human nature to want to be on top, to succeed, to receive the accolades, the relationships and the status (power) to overcome.

There are many other examples of people in the Bible who chose not to use their power and rights to overcome those who were against them. His name was Jesus Christ. As God in the flesh, Jesus was misunderstood, mistreated, mocked and eventually killed. He had every right to put a stop to the way he was treated, but he didn’t because in order to give you life he had to renounce his own rights.

Setting aside your rights for others isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of Christ-likeness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus it’s so easy to get caught up in the desire to be right, to take what is mine, to demand my own way. Especially when I’m pretty sure I’m right. Give me wisdom and strength to be strong enough to be meek. In your name I pray, Amen.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 1 Chronicles 17:16 (NLT)

It had been a long trip. Over 40 years since that day when the young shepherd boy had been called from the fields to meet the prophet. He still got goose-bumps, after all these years, as he remembered returning to the field and having the prophets words sink in. He would be king of Israel. He! David son of Jesse!

He remembered the adrenaline that flowed through him as the giant fell at his feet. He could still hear the cheers of the army behind him, the slaps on the back from his brothers and the other soldiers who’d been cowering in faithless fear.

Then there was the complicated situation with his very best friend in the whole world, Jonathan. The adventures those two shared together were amazing, yet bittersweet as David’s relationship with Jonathan’s father, Saul, grew increasingly volatile. A knot formed in his throat as he remembered when he heard the news that Jonathan had been killed in battle.

Now, he sat in his palace. His position as King solidified. His nation was at peace. His family content. The most important symbol of his God, the Ark of the Covenant, secure in a tent within the city. Life was good. Very good. In spite of all the adversity, pain and frustration, David could look back and say “I’ve made it. I accomplished everything I could ever have imagined and more.”

That’s when it hit him. Maybe you’ve had the feeling, maybe not. That feeling that says, “I’m so blessed, and I’m so unworthy.” Maybe you look back at years of addictive behavior and realize you haven’t had an urge in years. Maybe years in an abusive relationship have brought you into a relationship where you finally feel secure, loved, valued. Maybe you’ve worked hard your entire life and have seen career goals come and go, and now you can relax as a result of your labors.

When David got to that point in life he realized two things. One is that he was totally unworthy of all the blessings he was enjoying. The other thing he realized is that it was only because of his God that he was able to endure the trials of life

On the other hand, maybe you are still waiting to be sitting in your palace; still waiting to have that feeling of success, safety, value, appreciation. Life is hard. One crisis follows another. Hope is nothing more than a four-letter word reserved for the haves, and you’ve long ago realized you are a have-not.

David would tell you, if he were here, to keep on. Keep on trusting God for the little things and the big things. Keep on trusting God when you fail because he’s promised to forgive you. Keep on enduring the attacks because they just make you stronger. Keep on, and never forget that it’s God that will see you through.

PRAYER: Father God. I don’t have a palace. I’m not the ruler of some empire. I’m not famous. Yet, when I look at where I am today and where I deserve to be I can only say Thank You. Thank you for bringing me this far. Amen.

And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself suffered and was tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (NCV)

In his book “From Values to Action” author Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. states it is important for each of us to ‘remember the cube.’ His statement is in reference to the importance of leaders to remember what it was like in their career journey. To be reminded of the long days working in the small 4’ X 6’ cubicle where there was little room and no privacy.

A leader who ‘remembers the cube’ will be more likely to understand the struggles of those who they work with. They will be more sensitive to the mistakes, the failures, and the insecurity of the new people on staff.

One of the blessings of our walk with Jesus is that he ‘remembers the cube’ in relation to our own spiritual journey. We are told in several places in the Bible that Jesus was tempted ‘just as we are’. Does that mean that Jesus was tempted to visit inappropriate websites? Of course not, but he was fully God and fully man. That means that, although we don’t like to think of it, he was tempted with feelings of lust. Those temptations didn’t lead to sin, but because he was tempted in that way, he knows our struggle.

It’s easy for those of us that have experienced victory in certain areas of our lives to look down our noses at those who still struggle with the walk. “They’ve been to church; I had a Bible Study with them once. They should know better” isn’t a statement of understanding but of judgment. Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but to set us free.

While Jansen’s remarks are directed mainly towards those in leadership positions, his words have spiritual merit as well. If we remember our own weaknesses it will be far easier to extend God’s grace to those who continue to fail, continue to struggle and continue to make harmful choices for themselves and others. Does that mean we agree, condone or enable them to continue down their destructive path? Certainly not. But basing our attitude towards their failure on our own weaknesses does much to direct our approach in a more merciful direction.

Jesus Christ was tempted to sin. His temptation wasn’t confined to the wilderness. It was a daily occurrence for him, just as it is for us. Even though he never gave into that temptation, he knows its power and its pull.

Because of that, he understands your struggle, and how easy it could be to fail. He understands mine as well. Temptation isn’t failure, it’s an opportunity for us to grow our character. Every time we resist temptation in our lives our character grows stronger. We can help others grow a stronger, deeper character when we ‘remember the cube.’

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you that you endured the same types of temptation I do so you can better understand my struggle. Empower me to resist the temptations I face through the power of your Holy Spirit. When others harm me, help me to ‘remember the cube.’ In your name, Amen.

I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. Galatians 2:20 (CEV)

I don’t put bumper stickers on my car. I’ll tell you it’s because of my fear of damaging the paint, etc. but there’s another reason. The only kind of bumper sticker I’d consider putting on my car would be one about my faith in Christ.

I’m not blaming those of you who have your car plastered with ‘Honk if you Love Jesus banners, or the cute little fish. I’m not being judgmental or critical if you are one that has some of those really quite clever sayings about faith and practice or God.

The reason I don’t want to put up any indicators of my faith on my car is really quite simple. Sometimes I get driving and forget to watch my speed. I thank God daily for cruise control! Sometimes I’m thinking about other things and don’t pay close enough attention to what’s going on around me. That’s why I may have cut you off that day on the interstate. (Sorry by the way). Then again, there are times when I’m not sure where I’m going and suddenly realize that this is my corner. Sorry for slamming on my brakes back there. I really did think it was my turn. My bad.

So what does all this have to do with bumper stickers? I don’t want my reputation as being a bad driver (sometimes) to be a reflection on who Jesus is and what he means to me.

Perhaps that’s a rather mundane example of a rich spiritual truth, but I wonder what life would be like among us if we lived as though we were dead and Jesus Christ had taken over our bodies. Not just the driving but the thought processes when we are treated poorly; or how our schedule would change when a friend in need interrupts what we think is extremely important; or when our child asks to play ball when the lawn needs mowing; or when our spouse needs a listening ear and not a lecture on how to do things.

What would our worship be like if Jesus were in control of our thoughts, our actions or our attitudes? When we leave a tip for lousy service would the server, who was up all night fighting with her spouse,  watch you leave, look at your tip and say “That must have been Jesus!”

Every day Jesus took time from his schedule to show people the love of God. Every day Jesus put aside his own needs for rest and food to feed the hungry and encourage the tired. Every day He calls us to do the same. The banners of action we wear will do far more to spread the love of Christ than any ‘bumper stickers’ we wear in life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus empower me with your Holy Spirit to live everyday as though you were in complete control of my actions, my thoughts and my feelings. Take control of every part of my body for your name’s sake, Amen.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NCV)

I like the way the KJV words this verse, “Charity [love] suffereth long”.

We don’t like to think of love and suffering in the same sentence. We’re taught when we are young that love is signified by a smile and a hug; a kind soft voice; warm chocolate cookies and milk.

Reality can set in far too early about love though. More and more of our children learn that love can end and sometimes, harshly. Mommy and Daddy used to say “I love you all the time…before the divorce.”

“My mommy says she loves me but she is never there when I call her and her boyfriend hits me all the time.”

“Friday he said he loved me, but it’s Monday and he says he doesn’t want me around anymore.”

Reality is, from a human perspective anyway, love isn’t the warm, fuzzy, eternally blissful thing we always dream of. Fairy tales end at the gates of Disney World and real live sets in harshly and quickly.

Too often we confuse love with passion rather than suffering; with comfort rather than conflict; with happiness rather than hardship. But love doesn’t have to be that way. True love, Godly love isn’t measured by fireworks and party hats.

Godly love determines, before you leave the house that the guy that cuts you off on the interstate isn’t invading your spot, you were saving it for him. Godly loves means that before you lash out at your child for forgetting an assignment AGAIN, you listen to their own pain and help them learn to make good choices. Godly love means that when the food comes to your table cold and late you notice the red eyes of the server and ask how her day is going.

Godly love isn’t easy love. Godly love gets taken advantage of; is unappreciated; suffers…long. Godly love endures constant disappointment, patiently works through rebellion and always puts the needs of the other person before your own.

People have had enough of the love the world offers. That person in the pew behind you at church, you know the one who never keeps her kids quiet, just may be at the end of her rope and needs understanding rather than judgment. That teenager with long hair and scruffy clothes may be making a statement that says ‘All I really want is to be noticed.’

How can you show Godly love today? Who will irritate you for the umpteenth time that may just need a smile rather than a rebuke? Before you act, measure your love for others according to God’s love for you. His love for you ‘suffers long’ and he asks the same from you.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the way you love me. Thank you for the patience you’ve shown when I rebel, struggle or get impatient. Empower me with your Spirit to show others the great love you have shown me. In the loving name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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