Tag Archives: relationships

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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I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4; Daniel 4; Psalm 108, 109

Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two statements, one of which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. The other is to love your neighbor as yourself. I wax and wane in my passion to love God even though I never want to leave His side. And I sometimes step back when loving my neighbor is at stake. That is, I have to take a time out to rethink my words, reframe my motivations, and reign in my emotions before asking questions, making and answering requests, or commenting on what others say and do. Years of not getting this right and experience in hurting others or causing chaos in my relationships has heightened my vigilance for preventing problematic encounters, yet nothing can stay my heart and my tongue like the chastisement of God.

As I read I Kings 21:5, 15, I recognized how Ahab was influenced by his wife. Specifically, I relate to my own behaviors that incited my husband to defend me in situations where I needed to humble myself, instead. Like Ahab, I displayed a sullen, pouty face about something that I could not have. In the Old Testament, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, asked, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat not your food?” She then orchestrated the murder of Naboth so that her husband could have Naboth’s vineyard. Like Ahab’s spouse, my husband sought solutions, and sometimes that meant compromising his own righteousness. And what did I do? I did just like Ahab: “So it was when Ahab heard Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” That is, I allowed my husband to do something that I would not, but then was happy to have what I should not.

Isn’t it interesting that in marriages, a spouse can either encourage and inspire or manipulate and blame.

In other situations, trying to love thy neighbor as thyself has left me confused and disappointed. I think I am in good company because even the saints cried out to God in similar situations: Psalm 109:4, 5 records these complaints, “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for love.”

Yes, I pray, and yes, I want justice. Yet one meaning of justice is “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people,” (https://www.google.com/search). Do I want this just for me or do I love well enough to desire this for all others? I’m afraid my ill will too often highlights the sin of entitlement. Instead of agreeing that others deserve happiness, I speak this lie to myself; “I deserve an easier life.” Thus, what naturally pour out of my mouth are words of bitterness, jealousy, and anger. Like I said, experience has taught me this.

Walking with God, the Father, however, has taught me better truths. I now know that I despise inciting or attacking others worse than accepting being sad, frustrated, or afraid. I know that I can praise the Almighty, loving God who is able to confront or defend me, as He sees fit. Daniel 4:37 says, “I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” I do not have to play the Holy Spirit in another person’s life; my task is to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Genesis 5; Matthew 5; Ezra 5; Acts 5

When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. (Genesis 5:1b, NLT)

Not much farther down the page, this:

When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son who was just like him—in his very image. He named his son Seth. (Genesis 5:3, NLT)

A lineage of fathers and sons ensues–generations. But Enoch’s mention reads a little differently.

21 When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 Enoch lived 365 years, 24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24, NLT, emphasis mine)

Just like Amy, I pick a focus word each year. Last year’s was COMMUNITY. This year, it’s RESTORE.

I was driving back from the library last night and listened to segments of a radio sermon. I’d love to go back and give it my full attention, but there was a part where the pastor talked about busyness, the badge people wear with weary and pride, and how if we’re so busy, it’s because we choose it. (His wording was much more poignant, to be sure.)

It stirred up a connection to an inbox article I read the other day about quiet time in the Word, and specifically bullet point three (dealing with busyness and, ahem, restoration.).

Like Enoch, I want to live in close fellowship with the Lord. It made him stand out on a page, but I want it to make me stand out as different. I don’t want to be just like everyone else–over committed and weary. I may still have a schedule that has me up early and running all day, but through it all, I want to live restored in my soul–not found in coffee breaks and coffee dates (although, I love coffee), but in God’s Word.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:13-16, NLT)

Father God, I know (I KNOW!) that you are the well that quenches my thirst. Nothing in this world, no matter how full my days, will fill me up, satisfy me and RESTORE me as time in your Word will. I’m thankful for precious access to you through prayer and your Word.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

I am the Samaritan woman. I read the story about the woman Jesus met at the well and realized her story is my story.  One day, I went to the well because I was thirsty.  I was looking for that satisfaction, that quenching, that had eluded me throughout my life.  I had tried to fill it several times before in many different ways.

“Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.” He was waiting for me.  I knew it the minute I walked into that church.  Something was different this time.  I walked in and looked at the faces of all those people worshipping.  I knew whatever it was, THAT is what I was looking for.

15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.

17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

I sat in that church service thinking of my life. I had been married and divorced twice and had jumped right into another relationship so fast it made my head spin.  We were all but living together.  At that point I didn’t know how else to fill up that emptiness that was inside of me.  The rejection ran so deep.  I thought that I needed someone in my life to give me value, to prove that I wasn’t a loser who deserved to be walked out on.  If only I found the right person, then I would be happy.  All the pain would go away.

“Please, sir, give me this water!” or I said something very similar and then Jesus offered me that living water.

14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

I met the great I Am that day. I did find the right Person!

26 Then Jesus told her, I am the Messiah!”[d]

28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!

Once I met Jesus my life was changed. Who I was before that day is now part of the story I share to tell everyone how far He has brought me, how much He has changed my life.  I found value, significance, joy, and purpose beyond anything I could ever imagine.  Has life been hard since then?  Of course!  Do I still get thirsty?  Yes—but I know where to go for my living water when I feel that thirst coming on.  Jesus fills my life in ways I never imagined were possible.

42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

God has tasked me with telling my story. I hope when I do it encourages others to want to know Him more.  He has been so patient and taught me so much.  I want others to experience the freedom I have found through Him.

37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

To me, telling my story or sharing something profound that He has taught me are ways of planting seeds. I can warn others of the pain they will encounter, I can share what happened in my life when I made bad choices, and I can point them to Jesus as a better way.  I want people to “hear Him themselves”.

The bible doesn’t tell us what happened to the woman after her encounter with Jesus but I bet she changed her life the way I changed mine. I could no longer live the way the world lives.  I knew there was a better way.  It didn’t happen overnight but there comes that point in time where you have to be all in, no turning back. I know He wanted better for me—and He made me want better for myself.  I hope someday I get to meet this woman.  I can picture us running to each other, embracing one another, and jumping up and down with joy because we “met a man who told me everything I ever did!

Thank you, Lord, for showing us a better way to live. Thank you, Lord, for giving us stories of people in the bible we can relate to.  They are not perfect people who always get life right and neither are we.  But You sent us a Savior, our beloved Redeemer, who came to give us living water. Through His love, He changes lives. Because of Him, my cup runneth over and never runs dry! In His name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

This past summer I went through my email inbox and cleaned house. Daily, the inbox was so full that if I missed a day of checking or deleting, I was overwhelmed and consumed in no time. So many things in life already vie for my attention that it seemed like I was losing my focus–and I want to be intentional in my relationships (my family and my friends right in front of my face), in my service (at home/work, at church and wherever God leads) and in my walk with the Lord (seeking him, growing closer to him, obeying him). The subscriptions were a symbolic mental hustle. I needed to pare down.

The scriptures in Jeremiah make me think on what happens when priorities get shuffled. How the Lord will speak, but a life can be so distracted or a focus otherwise engaged, that He gets put aside. Where a people pursue conflicting interests and worship other things, a merciful God calls out, “Stop!” and they can’t hear. Or worse, they burn the warning.

In James 3, controlling the tongue–and I think long on influences (what I read, what I watch, what I hear, what examples I imitate, whose advice I seek, whose company I keep) and I put these before the Lord for his guidance.

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18, NLT.

A summer favorite blogger advised (against burnout by) sorting through the to-do for the essentials and then cutting out extras until there was peace. This is where I find myself, looking at the non-negotiable activities of this season and committing to those, building from there–being careful not to tip the scales in favor of burnout and hustle. For me, at least, God is harder to hear in the overwhelm.

Father God, when I read these scriptures, I see how easy it is (and how costly!) to lose sight of you, to get so far off track (preoccupied or busy) that your voice is drowned out. Lord, I put before you my thoughts, my relationships, my dreams and my actions for your guidance. Help me to discern what is good and fruitful and pleasing to you.

Courtney (66books365)

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