Sweetarts in Life (2 Samuel 19:4-6)


Do you remember your childhood favorite candies. One of mine was Sweetarts. I remember when they came out. They were a two inch disk that packed the best of both worlds in candy: sweetness and tartness. This candy reminds me much about life: it is filled with sweet events and also events that are tart. Things have changed since then: both my tastes and also the size of the candy, but life is still the same.

For the believer, blessing and sorrow come in the same package, it is in times of deepest hurt and sorrow when God will be present to strengthen and comfort you. The problem for many is that because their focus is so much on the hurt and sorrow, they fail to recognize God’s presence or working in their lives. David experienced just such an event.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 2 Samuel 19:4-6

He sorrowed so greatly over the loss of his son that he failed to see his victory blessing and the goodness of the Lord in the people that supported him.

As you face difficulties in your life such as financial strain, an unwanted diagnosis or any type of loss, remember that the event–as a two sided coin–has more that one aspect to it. Trials and struggles will come, but the Lord has promised always to be present with you even in the midst of the struggle and he promises to see that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)

What you can do as you face trials is to stop and pray to the Lord. Acknowledge that you know he allowed this event to occur and you believe that he wants to work and manifest his presence in the trial. Pray for him to guide you and to help you recognize his workings. Rest assured: although it may take time, he will answer your prayer.

Forget Karma: God is Watching (1 Samuel 26:23)


If the Lord gave you what you really deserved, would you be ready for it? Would you look forward to it with joy or does the thought frighten you? What we fail to recognize is that it is not just a hypothetical question. 

The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: (1 Samuel 26:23)

These were words spoken by David when he interacted with King Saul who sought to kill him. He knew that God was sovereign and would return upon men that which they have rendered to others. The same still holds true today. The New Testament describes the principle as sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will also reap. It may take some time before it arrives, but it is coming. Just like it takes all summer for apples to grow and ripen on a tree, it may take most of a person’s life before they reap what they sow, but be sure, they will reap.  

Much of this principle concerning sowing and reaping is in relation to how we treat other people. If we sow righteousness towards others, then we will get righteous treatment back, but if we sow wickedness then wickedness awaits us.

Some may ask, “What guideline could I follow that would aid me in sowing righteousness?” The answer would be to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39). If you allow your actions to be motivated by what is best for another person or make decisions that enable you to meet the needs of someone else instead of focusing on yourself, you will most consistently sow righteousness. This doesn’t require you to give all of your money to the poor or even to live a dejected life. It only requires you to start focusing on others instead of yourself. Give somebody recognition. Show patience and mercy, try looking at situations from the other person’s perspective or even take time to listen to people and their problems are opportunities that each of us have to sow righteousness. It will not cost you one penny, but it will be an investment worth millions of dollars.

For you, the world of people is a field ready for planting. What kind of seeds will you sow?

Be All That You Should Be


Have you ever lived in the shadow of a parent or an elder sibling? If so, you constantly strove to either be like them or to overcome their accomplishments. As you may have discovered, it is a very frustrating way to live. What you or those people need is to be yourselves. This problem happens with so many people in the world, but it also happens in the spiritual lives of many.

You are what you are because it is what God is making you to be. If You follow him and allow him to work his will, he will continue to work in your life to make you exactly as he planned. You should not allow others to force upon you what they think you should be, what they want you to be or even what they may need you to be. Your goal should be to dwell in Christ and allow God by grace to work in your life and produces fruit as he sees fit.

As always, sin can destroy you and God’s plan. You can escape it’s clutch by heeding to God’s word. (Psalm 119:9). You cannot do this in your own power, but as you recognize your weakness and look to God for strength, he will deliver you from the temptation.

Trials and difficulties will come, but you must recognize them as God’s instruments for pruning and cultivating you so as to grow and produce more fruit. Each day, you should grow more in his likeness and whatever that may be, it will make you be what you are and that will be according to his plan.

The Root and the Fruit (Rev. 22:16)

Did you ever wonder how they produce seedless grapes or make large fruit bearing trees into small ones, but yet still have them produce a large amount of fruit? In order to accomplish, two practices are used: cross pollination and grafting.

On Father’s Day, I received a dwarf fig tree as a gift. It had the root of the fig tree, but the trunk was cut and spliced together with another tree that would grow much smaller. The end result was a short tree that produced a bunch of figs.

Spiritually speaking, God does the same. However in this case, he is the root and the fruit bearing tree.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David… Revelation 22:16

Think about the statement, I am the root and offspring of David. Jesus is the root from which David is an offspring. Additionally Jesus is a descendent of David or a fruit that comes from David’s lineage. 

Spiritually speaking, the same occurs for us. He is our root or the root of the vine (John 15) and he also is that which produces fruit in our lives. We do not produce fruit: he produces fruit in or through us. He is the root of our being and the fruit of our lives. 

Everything good in our lives is really fruit produced from him. Our part is to abide in him because without him, we can do nothing. Many years I spent toiling trying to produce fruit only to recognize that I cannot. I finally came to realize that he can and will produce fruit. If I allow him, he–the root of my being–will produce the fruit of his being in me.

Does God Hear You?

Does God hear you when you pray? Some believe that he does. Others struggle and at best hope God may pay attention to them. Their struggle can be narrowed down to two basic premises: is my relationship right so that God will hear me and are my petitions important enough to gain his attention? 

Why should God hear you? Your only standing with God is because of the work of his son. He gave himself for you and washed your entire sin debt free with his blood. He positions you in himself so that every right that he inherited is also at your disposal. Positionally, you have been put into a place of acceptance. For this reason, he hears you when you pray. The only potential to toward him from hearing you is if you regard iniquity in your heart. 

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Psalms 66:18

This does not mean that he stops listening to you each time you sin, but that when your heart is fixed on sin and you are unwilling to allow the Lord to free you from it, it is then that he stops hearing you.

Are your problems important enough for you to pray and for God to hear you? Remember when people brought children to Jesus and when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus instructed them to allow the children to come to him and he used that event to guide our understanding about the kingdom of God. Stop for a moment and think. What problems would a child have? What would they ask of God? I understand that social conditions are very different today than they were in Jesus’s time. But the principle is still true. If we could truly discover what needs a child has in their heart, I am certain that it would involve details in the circle of their world.

Most petitions would involve the desire for tangible items such as a puppy, a toy, being able to play well at a sport or any such thing that we may belittle in importance. None-the-less, the Lord said that we should allow them to come to him. What you need to gain from this passage is to see yourself just as these children or at least similar to them.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16

I remember my last year as the principal of a christian school. The budget year was going to end $10,000 in the red. I earnestly prayed into the summer months and saw $7,000 of that come in as a direct result of praying. At that time, it was the greatest trial I had faced as a believer, but how did God see it? I believe that he saw it as child’s play. The greatest of my trials was nothing to him and equal in difficulty as those for the child.

You may feel that your problems aren’t important enough to take to God or they don’t seem to measure up. Are they as important as a child’s needs? If they are, you and children are welcome to seek his face and bear your burden to him.

Remember, positionally you are acceptable to him. He will hear your prayers just as long as you don’t focus your longing on sin and resist his work.

The importance of your needs is not determined by you, but God and he will focus his attention to all people–even to the lowest need of a child.

Pray! God is listening.

Encouragement 

What helps a person bear the trouble in their heart? Are there special things that need to be done for them or are resources necessary in their lives?  

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. (Proverbs 14:10)

From the scriptures we can see one thing for certain, it is not a stranger, but a friend. A stranger may think to bring cheer to the troubled in heart, but the joy of one person does not resonate joy in others. However a friend can help bear the burden, express empathy and point them to truth where hope and joy can be found.

Work now to establish relationships with people. Because these relationships can become open opportunities that the Lord may use you to bring them truth to them.

Your Story (Luke 8:39)

Our lives should be showing the great things that God is doing in them. It isn’t what we are now doing with our lives, but what he has done to us on the inside.

Religion can cause people to serve and even clean the inside of the cup, but God’s hidden work can never be duplicated. We can never fill the emptiness, but God can. We can never remove our shame, but God can blot it out. The nets of fear and insecurity, which grip us can never be escaped, but God can deliver us from them.

The struggles that brought you to Christ are the very areas of your life upon which he has done his greatest work. This is what your life must declare.

The maniac of Gadera was delivered. The woman with the issue of blood was cleansed. What’s your story?

Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. Luke 8:39