Tag Archives: 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chronicles 18-19; Psalm 89; Acts 26

12One time the leading priests gave me permission and the power to go to Damascus. 13On the way there, at noon, I saw a light from heaven. The light was brighter than the sun. It flashed all around me and the men who were traveling with me. 14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice speaking to me in the Jewish language. The voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you doing things against me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’ 15I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus. I am the One you are trying to hurt. 16Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will be my witness—you will tell people the things that you have seen and the things that I will show you. This is why I have come to you today. 17I will not let your own people hurt you. And I will keep you safe from the non-Jewish people too. These are the people I am sending you to. 18I send you to open their eyes that they may turn away from darkness to the light. I send you that they may turn away from the power of Satan and turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven and they can have a place with those people who have been made holy by believing in me.’

19“King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it. 20I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God. I told them to do things to show that they really had changed. I told this first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and in every part of Judea, and also to the non-Jewish people. 21This is why the Jews took me and were trying to kill me in the Temple. 22But God helped me and is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people what I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying what Moses and the prophets said would happen. 23They said that the Christ would die and be the first to rise from death. They said that the Christ would bring light to the Jewish and non-Jewish people.” Acts 26: 12-23 (ICB)

Paul’s testimony is one of the most famous conversion stories in the Christian faith and literally a case laid out in his own defense to Agrippa.

This is who I was…this is what God did in my life…this is who I am today…

Sharing the testimonies of my life isn’t about attention seeking or getting in my fifteen minutes of fame. Testimonies are about giving glory to God for the ways He moves in my life. Testimonies are stories of encouragement; me sharing about the struggles I have faced and how God is bringing me through. They are stories of miracles. They are stories of awe and worship, a reminder of God’s goodness and why He is worth of praise.

From beginning to end, the Bible is chock-full of the testimonies of men and women who were chosen and raised up by God to accomplish great things in His Kingdom – Moses, Noah, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, John, Peter, Paul, and of course Jesus, to name small handful.

1I will always sing about the Lord’s love.

I will tell of his loyalty from now on.

2I will say, “Your love continues forever.

Your loyalty goes on and on like the sky.” Psalm 89:1-2 (ICB)

And, David wrote song after song in praise of God, sharing testimonies of his journey from a young man slaying a giant to battle after battle won as a victory of the Lord.

The Bible reminds me that God will never leave me nor forsake me, but when I have moments of weakness, I sometimes forget that truth, and instead, listen to the lies of the enemy. Then I hear someone’s story of what God did for them, or I recognize through my own fog that He has done something surprising for me. A testimony is shared and I once more hold onto the truth that God is good and greatly to be praised, my countenance is lifted, and hope returns to my heart.

Yesappa, Thank You for making me a part of your story, for giving me testimonies to share as encouragement to myself and for others. May my life demonstrate Your goodness, Your love, Your provision, Your sacrifice to those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

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2 Samuel 15-17; Psalms 3 and 63; Romans 1

Aside from the Lord’s Prayer, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and the Doxology, I grew up understanding prayer as something being spontaneous and free flowing. Prayer emerged from need (in my mind’s eye, Mom is taking notes while on the phone as part of the church prayer chain).  So often, my own words fail to articulate the thoughts and deep longings swirling around inside of me. It’s been later in life that ancient, written prayers have brought me into God’s company.

Jews prayed and sang psalms across the millennia. I imagine Jesus praying  Psalm 63 out loud in the temple with his Jewish brothers. Reading the Psalm through this lens magnifies its force and meaning. I find myself calling out to God repeatedly, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my should thirsts for you, my body longs for you…” as I crave his nearness, his presence.  “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” Just like David, God invites me to enjoy his mysterious and divine company. How in the world can this be true? “Because your love (hesed/lovingkindness/mercy) is better than life…”

When I receive and accept God’s invitation to draw near him and be in his presence, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.” The Hebrew words for the “richest of foods” mean “fat” and “abundance” not “malnourished” and  “inadequate.”  The satisfied soul can’t help but respond with gratitude and joy.

When I enter into God’s company, this place where I quiet myself to hear his words of love and acceptance, I know his protection and care. When I open myself up to his Word, when scriptures and songs about God come into my thoughts, the invitation to receive his love resounds. It can happen throughout the day or even in the wee hours of the morning, On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”  When I set aside distractions and set my focus on Christ, I know his peace and protection. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” So why do I choose business and distraction over the invitation to lean into God?

Hearing and accepting God’s call to draw near doesn’t guarantee a constant spiritual and emotional high. David wrote plenty of other psalms which described feelings of abandonment and loneliness, but he consistently, faithfully acknowledges God’s faithfulness, “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”  This  prayer anchors me to God no matter what the circumstance or the state of my emotional wellbeing. The truth is that when I call out to God, I call on the One who hears me… loves me… and holds me close to his heart.

klueh

 

 

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2 Samuel 15, 16; Luke 20:27-47

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47


After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:1-6

My grandparents had a spunky Jack Russell terrier named WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”). WYSIWYG is an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get.’ Whenever I think about this phrase I think about the importance of being authentic, of being exactly who I am. It is about projecting my true self and not hiding my sinful nature or making myself out to be greater than I really am.

In the 10 or so years that I struggled with extreme depression I got very good at hiding myself from others. I would don different masks for different people giving them the face I thought that they most wanted to see. I didn’t realize that what many of those people really wanted was the real me.

When God removed depression from my soul and started healing my heart, I began to understand that showing my true self, being vulnerable when sharing my struggles, admitting when I stumble and fall, laying out the good and the bad, being honest about my experience and being truthful in love, needed to be what I offered to the world.

When I am upfront and honest with people about who I am it leaves no room for pride; it’s impossible for me to think I am better than someone else when they know about the skeletons in my closet. When being genuine, it is impossible to be deceitful, two-faced, and backbiting. Revealing the truth of who I am doesn’t allow for self-importance or ego, because it reminds me of how hopeless, how helpless I am without Christ in my life.

I have found that in the ministry that I do, honesty is what connects me to people. I am able to meet them right where they are, the way that God meets me in my journey. I am able to share openly about my struggles and how God has walked with me through them. I can offer them hope through my testimony, instead of condemnation and judgment. I can offer a clean slate in Jesus, and healing through His love.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your blood and Your redeeming glory, that revives me and makes me whole, that takes away my shame and allows me to be real with those around me. Continue to remove every trace of hiddenness that tries to keep me disconnected from you and from others. Help me always walk in authenticity, living a life a truth in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Samuel 20; 2 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 27; Psalms 75, 76

Look closely at yourselves. Test yourselves to see if you are living in the faith. You know that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you fail the test. (NCV)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (NKJV)

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (NLT)

Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? (AMP)

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. (MSG)

2 Corinthians 13:5

When Christ shed his blood on the cross, He created the path for redemption. And when I heard and believed the Good News, He renewed me, heart, mind, and soul, and took up residence in me.

I know this. I believe this. And yet some most days, when I am struggling with loneliness, or anger, or bitterness and resentment, or exhaustion, or a lack of patience, or a bad attitude, or whatever else I am getting ‘poked’ with on any given day, I question myself. I question my faith. I wonder if there is any good fruit in me.

I used to burn with passion for God, attending every prayer meeting and worship time that was available to me, even the all-nighters. I was on fire. I wanted to experience His love and give it away to everyone I met. I basked in His glory and worshipped and danced with all my might like David. I never questioned my faith; I never doubted my fruit.

Fast forward a few years, and now I just feel burned out by life. Five years as a missionary (in the field and on furlough), almost four years as a wife, and just about three years as a mother has taken its toll on me. I give and give and give, and yet I realize I am giving from the dregs of a nearly empty tank.

When I look within, I see Him there and the desire to walk with Him, and talk with Him rises up in my heart. I intend to spend time with Him, to strengthen our relationship, to worship, to pray, to read His Words…to reconnect…to refuel. Just as soon as I have a second to myself, a moment when a little someone isn’t screaming, or crying, or tugging on my leg to hurry up and get an I.want.Right.NOW.

And then I get a piece of time, a few precious moments to myself, and often, instead of relaxing in my Savior’s presence, enjoying, savoring His goodness, His splendor…I plug into a computer game or YouTube videos of “some country’s” Got Talent. I get caught up in the wasteland of needless information.

Today, once more, I examined myself, my faith, and I recognize that though I am in a different season, I have not failed, even when sometimes I stumble. In the midst of my struggles, I look to my Heavenly Father. I choose to rely on Holy Spirit for help and for comfort. And, though I may zone out in front of the computer at times to ‘escape’, I still spend time with Jesus each day.

My time with Him is no longer stretches of ‘alone’ time reading the Word and praying. My time with Him is much sweeter in a way, because it is time I share with my children too. And the fruit that comes from this time spent together is fruit that in the future will be multiplied 100 fold.

Yesappa, thank You for Your grace upon me, upon my life. Thank You for meeting me right where I am. Keep walking with me; be unrelenting in Your pursuit of me. Keep drawing me closer to You especially in the midst of life, of motherhood. Help me teach my children about You as we spend time together with You. Help me be solid in the faith regardless of the different seasons I go through. Help me to always remember that You are with me and that You will never leave me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The earth with all its people may shake,

but I am the one who holds it steady. Selah

Psalm 75:3 (NCV)

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20, Psalms 66-67

You are not the same as those who do not believe. So do not join yourselves to them. Good and bad do not belong together. Light and darkness cannot share together. How can Christ and Belial, the devil, have any agreement? What can a believer have together with a nonbeliever? The temple of God cannot have any agreement with idols, and we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live with them and walk with them. And I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

“Leave those people,
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch nothing that is unclean,
and I will accept you.”

“I will be your father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Corinthians 6:14-18 (NCV)

Moments before I sat down to read the passages for today, my husband and I were having a conversation about the subject of ‘joining with unbelievers’ in the context of living and socializing in our neighborhood. Bear with me as I process ‘out loud’…

My desire for my biracial children to have a chance to be ‘normal’, which can be somewhat difficult for a foreigner to do in India, makes me eager to get to know who my neighbors are; to reach out and make contact with the mothers, rather than simply warily watching each other across the road from our doorsteps, perfunctory smiles passing our lips. I want to know that my daughters will be cared for when they go to other girls’ houses (even when permission hasn’t really been granted). I want the other mothers, to trust me to look out for their daughters as well. I want some mommy comrades on this side of the planet too, in spite of language and cultural differences.

It would be so ‘easy’ to sequester ourselves into our little apartment, keeping ourselves locked away, ‘safe’ from the unbelievers, separated from the little part of the world in which we live. But I know how wild my kids can get, especially my 2 ½ year old, bounces-off-walls, gets-into-EVERYTHING, social butterfly, and I know from personal experience, it would only be a matter of a few hours before we’d all be mad hatters, and only a few days, till they’d  be carting someone off to the loony bin (most likely me).

I assume growing up in America, a place where most of the people who I crossed paths with at least had some foundational belief in Jesus, makes me a little more trusting of people, regardless of religion. I guess growing up in a rural area without many neighbors and then as an adult having the opportunity to experience community, makes me crave that neighborhood feel even more for my family. I suppose to a certain extent I believe that people are just people; mothers are mothers, and children, children.

In these verses in 2 Corinthians, Paul seems to be saying that we should have nothing to do with people who do not believe in Christ; that the ‘good’ should stay separated from the ‘bad’. He cites the Old Testament saying that believers will be accepted by God when we do not come into contact with the ‘unclean’, that we will be sons and daughters.

These verses are often mentioned when talking about the dangers of entering into a marriage relationship ‘unequally yoked’. But, how does this apply to children playing together or mothers talking over fences? Does this mean our family shouldn’t even associate with people who are Hindus or Muslims? Should I tell my daughters they can’t play with the children in our neighborhood because none of them are Christians?

Or, perhaps, I should lay a firm foundation for my children in the ways of God, teaching them while they are young about His sacrifice, His love, His freedom, so that they will carry that with them always (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6). Maybe, I could demonstrate to my children how to be a light within the darkness in our world, missionaries of Jesus’ to others (Isaiah 9:2; Mark 16:15). Possibly, I can I can lead by example the ways of living in this world, rather than living of this world, renewing heart, soul, and mind according to God’s will instead of man’s.  (1 John 2:15-16; Romans 12:2).

Yesappa, give me Your wisdom and Your discernment. Help my family be a light that shines in the darkness, a daily example of Your love in our neighborhood. Allow us to be a living Bible to those ‘unbelievers’ that surround us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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