Category Archives: Luke

2 Samuel 14-16

His loyal love – a servant’s heart

One of the most quoted passages of Scripture on loyal love is from the Book of Ruth: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your People shall be my people, And your God, my God,” (Ruth 1:16).

This profound declaration of loyalty is a beautiful illustration of the deepest friendship, most unselfish love, and abiding trust that one can express. Ruth demonstrated this to Naomi, her mother-in-law, by traveling with her out of Ruth’s familiar surroundings to the strangeness of Naomi’s home.

In today’s passage of Scripture, King David is the grateful recipient of steadfast loyalty. Ittai the Gittite and his men, foreigners who lived under David’s protection, pledged their lives and military strength to David as he fled Jerusalem, (2 Samuel 15:21-23). In glaring contrast to the loyal love demonstrated by Naomi and Ittai, we learn the historical account of David’s own son, Absalom, who was the epitome of disloyalty.

Loyalty is defined as allegiance, faithfulness, fidelity, devotion, steadfastness, commitment. What engenders loyalty? In today’s world of business, customer satisfaction is the gold standard for ensuring customer loyalty. There are case studies on the global market that prove good customer service is paramount to continued success of a business. Out of these studies came solid strategies for increasing the odds of customer satisfaction. One principal factor in building loyalty is to provide reliable service. That is, do what you say you will do every time. That may mean going the extra mile, suffering personal loss, and responding judiciously to the needs of customers. Another important strategy is providing relational service. This is accomplished by recognizing the importance of customer/business relationships in tangible ways such as rewarding repeated visits – think perks, redeemable stars given in a point system, specials meant just for those who keep coming back. Responsive service is another strategy in developing customer satisfaction. Communicating with customers is crucial for learning about their changing needs. This means being open to their honest opinions, encouraging feedback, and analyzing their points of interest or pain. And finally, commemorating service by ‘shouting out’ customer satisfaction is a strategy that validates the success of the business. This is accomplished by publishing reviews, testimonials, endorsements, etc.

Absalom would have made a fortune in today’s business. He must have been reading Forbes magazine in learning how to turn the people toward him and away from his father, King David. “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel,” (2 Samuel 15:5-6).

How had David lost the hearts of so many men? First, he, an aging king, was not as visible to his people as his handsome son. David may have been relying on his past laurels to garner loyalty from his people. However, “it was said that Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate,” (2 Samuel 15:2). Also, King David did not hear the changing opinions of his people who feared losing the heir to the throne, (2 Samuel 14:13-15). And though David eventually reconciled with Absalom, he had refused to see him for two years, thereby failing to endorse him, (2 Samuel 14:28). To be sure, King David was conflicted since Absalom had murdered his brother and sought to kill all the King’s sons. Yet, doing nothing for so long to restore the relationship and shunning Absalom no doubt sowed seeds of bitterness that eventually produced conspiracy and rebellion. Absolom was more business savvy which cost David many loyal subjects.

I can relate to King David, however. I, too, have wanted to turn away from negative situations, especially when relationships were involved. I would rather live and let be than consider my own shortcomings or confront others. Unfortunately, this posture has allowed situations to escalate to the point where I am either running from the consequences of inaction or having to do damage control. Yet, I know from experience why we should never let the sun go down on our anger. Why we should forgive – I mean really forgive. When to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ to loved ones and to the stranger. Why we should pray, pray, pray to have the log removed out of our own eye and to have our buried head pulled out of the sand.

When on the run, I also neglect to nurture my spiritual relationship with God. No surprise that doing so is reflected in the loss of earthly relationships. Thankfully, we are made in the image of God, and God’s character is the very definition of loyal love. Therefore, I believe God can change my heart attitude, can give me the courage to address uncomfortable situations, can utter words I should speak in difficult conversations, and can work all things out for my good. And theirs. (Romans 8:28)

David’s journey back to the throne depended on God’s faithfulness to him. We, too, have been restored through the blessing of God’s loyal love. He heard our cries and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to us. Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected to bring us back to the Father. As if that were not enough to earn our loyalty, God is faithful to fulfil all His promises to us. And He does not hold back on celebrating our salvation. As is evidenced in Luke 15:10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing,” (Zephania 3:17).

Father, God, thank You for your loyal love! Help me to be filled by Your Holy Spirit and have access to Your wisdom, counseling, and authority. Teach me, dear Lord, to develop behaviors that encourage, support, and benefit those whom You have given me at my place of work, in my marriage, in friendships, and in fellowship. I pray that as Your servant, Lord God, I will give my very best service to others in Your blessed name.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, reading plan, Romans, Ruth, Uncategorized

Judges 9-11; Psalm 17; Luke 23

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Psalm 17:8 ESV

I wonder how many words of the ancient psalms of David, Asaph, and others ran through Jesus’ thoughts as he stood trial and suffered the crucifixion. I have clung to them through my life’s trials and challenges. In the midst of childbirth, in the hospital waiting room, when struggling through a parenting situation late into the night, when snickered at for my faith. I find myself reciting lines from familiar hymns, familiar psalms, and crying out to God.

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.

Luke 23:18-23 (excerpts) ESV

As the frenzy of the crowd prevailed, Jesus found his peace within. I’m sure he and the Father had a constant dialogue through those hours filled with agony. He knew, the worst was yet to come. Darkness then fell. The symbolically beautiful tearing of the temple curtain, and then, it was finished.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
    incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
    O Savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.

Psalm 17:6,7 ESV

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
    when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalm 17:15 ESV

Regardless of how God chooses to respond to our situation, I find great comfort that He knows best. On the other side, and often in the midst, I will see Him, His righteousness. And, when I awake from every trial this life has to throw my way and find myself on the other side of death, I will finally fully realize that all I need and have and am is in Him.

Dear Jesus, you went through so much out of love for me. Help me to surrender with the same reckless abandon, remembering that you love me and have the best plan already worked out. Thank you for the strength and security I find in You that might not remove me from the heartache or pain, but will see me through it. In Jesus name, Amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Joshua 5-8; Psalm 14; Luke 15

What I love most reading Joshua chapter five and the first nine verses is how God places a premium on preparation. I see it in the New Testament too. Even in the preparation I am reminded that this is all for one task – cross the Jordan. It had nothing to do with the second task of taking Jericho for that required a different kind of preparation. In this case circumcision became the physical sign of a covenant, a mark that these were God’s people. I love the symbolisim of what God would do in my heart, enabling me to love Him. I am so thankful for the death and resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

While the Israelites camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they kept the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month.[d] The day after Passover they ate unleavened bread and roasted grain from the produce of the land. – Joshua 5:10 HCSB

However, this preparation, celebrating the Passover, won my heart for I believe the spirit of unity is the soul of victory. It was a time of being thankful, together, a time to remember together.

Remember how the story of the prodigal son ended?

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. – Luke 15:32 HCSB

The father loved the older son as much as the younger one and reminded him that all his wealth and all his property were at his disposal. There was time needed for the older son to reorient his thinking. He needed to see that they had something to celebrate – the brother who was thought dead, is alive. There had to be a party – the one lost was now found. I always wonder if the older brother ever recognized his self-righteousness, arrogance and lovelessness and made the decision to come to the party or did he resist the invitation because of his stubbornness and hard heart.

I know that same invitation to prepare, to celebrate is the same invitation that Jesus gives to me. It also is the same invitation he gave to the Pharisees and scribes and every other sinner that ever lived. What an invitation it is – a call to respond to the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Father, I love how You prepare my heart, taking each day, one day at a time, to grow me and mature me in my walk with You. I might be tempted to see it as a walk of trust or one of faith, but in my heart I know that You are calling me to a walk of love. When I watched You pray, prepared the Last Supper, prepare hearts for Your death and resurrection and specifically Your love for Peter, who You knew would struggle and fail so hard, I know that You have me in a special place too, preparing me for what You have called me to do. May today be no different, may I expect to be in awe of Your presence in my life.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, reading plan, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 1-3; Psalm 36; Luke 5

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven,
Your faithfulness to the clouds. God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Spread Your faithful love over those who know You, and Your righteousness over the upright in heart. – Psalm 36:5,7,10 HCSB

God’s “faithful love” is such an important attribute of God. It is God’s covenant love. I see Him faithful and loyal just as a man loves his wife and is faithful to her. I believe there are no limits to God’s love. I remember talking to my children about how much I love them, in particular, my daughter and I went to great lengths to describe who loved each other more. I tried to make sure I made the statement – I love you to the moon and back.

There are so many stories in the Bible revealing just how much God loves me – He is present and in control. The resurrection was such a great revelation of His amazing love. The Gospel is such a real picture of God’s love for me – it exists because of the goodness of God.

“All his goodness is forbearance, and his love is mercy, because of the weakness, the lowliness, and the ill desert of us on whom the love falls. … The first and last, the Alpha and Omega of God, beginning and crowning and summing up all his being and his work, is his mercy, his lovingkindness.” – Alexander Maclaren

I can read, see and feel God’s love – that He is coordinating and providentially controlling events for my benefit.

Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. – Luke 5:16 HCSB

If I ever forget that love, I see it here when Jesus prays. It is here, in prayer, that Jesus finds Himself connected in a love relationship with His Father and it is the place where I enjoy being as well.

Father, I see Your love every day as I spend time with You each morning. The Holy Spirit allows me to read what Your love looks like as I engage with Your words in the Bible. As I put into practice those things that You are calling me to do each day, I actually can feel Your love coming out of me and going into those that are looking for Your love or have forgotten just how much You love them. When I call on You, in the name of Jesus, I know that You show up and are part of all my conversations and actions and You allow me to glorify You in all that I say and do. Thank You – it is something I look forward to each and every day.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Chronicles 1; 1 John 1; Micah 7; Luke 16

Solomon started his leadership with the right kind of prayer, a prayer I still use every day – asking for wisdom, knowledge, discernment and to remember in all things that I do to honour the name of the Lord.

God replied to Solomon, “You have made the right choice. Instead of asking for wealth or treasure or fame or the death of your enemies or even for long life for yourself, you have asked for wisdom and knowledge so that you can rule my people, over whom I have made you king. – 2 Chronicles 1:11 GNT

John reminds me not to forget to pray for other followers of Jesus, to be an encouragement to them and to ask God to keep us all walking in His light. I know that comes to a place where I can be strengthen, however wisdom is what I really want for me and others. With that gift comes fellowship, forgiveness received and given, joy and deep relationships.

But if we live in the light—just as he is in the light—then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin. – 1 John 1:7 GNT

It is my desire to watch, wait and hope in my Saviour and for others to do the same. No matter if I or others lose our way, even in darkness, the Lord is my light.

But I will watch for the Lord; I will wait confidently for God, who will save me. My God will hear me.

Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us. We have fallen, but we will rise again. We are in darkness now, but the Lord will give us light. – Micah 7:7-8 GNT

I know that everything I have is from God and I continue to pray for Him to guide me. I am reminded to continue practicing to be faithful in the little things, preparing for the moments when I will be called upon to be faithful with more important matters. I will trust my walk to God and expect Him to answer my prayers for wisdom.

Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones. – Luke 16:10 GNT

Father, I need wisdom. To be the leader You have called me to be, and to be attractive in the sense that those around me know that I walk in Your light, it is important that You walk with me. I know there are days I will fail to that end, but again, I know that all is not lost – You will be there to pick me up. Help me take each step, enjoying the moments of faithfulness, but understanding without You and without Your wisdom, I could fall just the same. Thank You for Your mercy and grace.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 1 John, 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Micah, Micah, New Testament, Old Testament