Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31- Wise Counsel

May 31, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 17; John 19:23-42;
Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 12-13

Where no counsel is, the people will fail; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. 
~Proverbs 11:14

2 Samuel 17

In the United States government in the executive branch, the President of the United States has a cabinet of advisers who meet with him regularly to give their opinions on every decision he or she will make as president.  Acting as counselors on a variety of subjects, they can give their opinion before the president proposes national legislation, budgets, or plans for war. This protects the president from unwise decisions that may impact millions of people. Today, David has wisely placed his good friend, Hushai, as a counselor to his rebellious son, Absalom.


Hushai's advice, which contradicts Ahithophel's advice to take a small band of warriors and surprise attack David, is followed to form a large army to go against David using men from all across Israel.  This strategy gives Hushai time to warn David to flee across the Jordan River and prepare. Because he was publicly disgraced, Ahithophel commits suicide.  Wise counselors can make all of the difference in the outcome of a country's destiny.

Do you seek wise counsel for large decisions in your life?  Scripture encourages us to seek advice from other's that we trust.


John 19:23-42

John lets us know that Scripture was fulfilled as Jesus suffered and died on the cross. John points out that Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled when the Roman soldiers divided Jesus' clothes among themselves and rolled dice for his robe. It was also a fulfillment of Scripture when Jesus declared from the cross that he was thirsty. This was predicted in Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21. John confirms that, as he was suffering, Jesus appointed John to become the caregiver for his mother, Mary.  Jesus had other siblings, but he knew that John would be the longest living disciple of them all.  He, alone, would live long enough to care for Mary in her old age.

What a beautiful picture of honoring his mother, even as he was dying.  One of Jesus' last acts on earth was to honor his mother. Once Jesus declared that It is Finished, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  Because he died fairly quickly, Jesus' legs were not broken and he was speared in the side, resulting in both water and blood flowing forth from his body. These actions fulfilled multiple Old Testament prophecies found in  Numbers 9:12, Exodus 12:46, Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10.

Joseph of Arimathea provided a never used tomb for Jesus' burial.  John tells us that it was not far from the crucifixion site.

John's account of Jesus' death is somewhat factual and without emotion. John is portraying Jesus as God who controlled his own destiny and gave up his life willingly and in accordance with God's Word as given by the prophets of old. Jesus fulfilled his purpose on earth.

Do you honor your parents?  If so, how?  Do you know God's purpose in your life?

Psalm 119:129-152

I still like to picture Jesus saying the words of this psalm.  It is his voice and his truth.

Proverbs 16:12-13

A king likes righteous people.  They are a blessing to him.  Have you claimed righteousness through Jesus' death so that you are a blessing to Jesus, our King.

What did you see today?  Will you share?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

P.S.  Yesterday I thanked God for my son's marriage to a beautiful girl.  Today, I thank God for giving me 25 years of marriage to a wonderful man.  Twenty-five years ago today, I married my best friend.  God has blessed me with a caring husband who has provided me with two beautiful children, a life of steadfast love, and the joy of knowing that a trustworthy and faithful partner is a blessing beyond words.  Thank you, God, for how you have given me so many years of sharing life with this amazing man.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30- Adding Insult to Injury

May 30, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 15:23-16:23;  John 18:25-19:22;
Psalm 119:113-128; Proverbs 16:10-11

You know it's a bad day when you put your bra on backwards and it fits better. 
 ~Anonymous

2 Samuel 15:23-16:23

Have you ever had one of those days where it might have been better if you had just stayed in bed and pulled the covers up over your head?  David is having one of those days.  He has decided to leave Jerusalem while his son, Absalom, is usurping him as king of Israel.  As I read the Scriptures today, I was struck by the similarities between David's betrayal experience with Absalom and Jesus' betrayal experience with Judas.  Here are some parallels I noticed:
  • Both men cross the Kidron Valley in their journey of betrayal.
  • Both go to the Mount of Olives.
  • Both men have someone very close to them betray them.
  • Both are surrounded by followers and enemies.
  • Both men are ridiculed and taunted as part of their suffering.
  • Neither man retaliates at his enemies who taunt them.
  • Both men grow weary.
Of course, the major difference is that David is experiencing his suffering as judgment for killing Uriah, while Jesus suffered the judgment for sin that we all deserve.  As a matter of fact, Jesus was suffering for David's sin that he committed all those many years before.

In addition to Absalom taking his throne as predicted by God through Nathan, another judgment that was predicted occurs. Absalom sleeps with David's concubines on the roof of the palace in plain sight of all of Jerusalem. This would have been the highest insult to David as the king and to David as Absalom's father.

David is shrouded in shame and humility at this point in his life.  God's judgment is heavy upon him.  The only daylight apparent is that his friend, Hushai, has agreed to go undercover in Absalom's royal court.

David is restoring his reputation as a man of God in this part of his life story.  He has sent the Ark back to Jerusalem. He is enduring God's discipline with humility. He is flawed, but teachable.

Are you teachable by God?  Do you repent when you realize that you have sinned? David models humility in suffering, just as his future descendant, Jesus, will be the perfect model of humility in suffering.

John 18:25-19:22

After his trial in front of the High Priest and Jewish religious leaders, Jesus is taken to be tried by Pilate, the Roman governor.  The Jews explain to Pilate that they are bringing Jesus to Pilate because their laws do not allow them to execute him.  In front of Pilate Jesus concedes that he is a king, but not an earthly king.  He says that his Kingdom is not of this world. He tells Pilate that he was born for the purpose of bringing truth to the world. A very cynical Pilate asks, "What is truth?" 

Pilate is disturbed when the Jewish leaders claim that Jesus should be crucified because he has claimed to be the Son of God.  Pilate asks Jesus where he is from. Jesus will not answer. Pilate says that he has the power to crucify Jesus. Jesus responds that Pilate would have no power to do this if it were not given to him from above. Pilate is a reluctant player in this drama. Finally, he hands Jesus over to be crucified, but makes sure that in three languages, Greek, Hebrew and Latin, the title Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, is placed above his head on the cross.  Pilate has made a decision about who Jesus is.

Jesus endures this suffering with humility and with the conviction of someone on a mission.  His mission was to save those that the Father had given to him.

Are you one of Jesus' chosen ones?  Did he die for your sins?


Psalm 119:113-128

You can hear the voice of Jesus in this psalm.  Truly, Jesus is the only person who really can fulfill what is said in this psalm about learning and living the Law of God.  He is the only person who did this perfectly.

Proverbs 16:10-11

Jesus is the king that speaks with divine wisdom.  God wants us to be fair in our business dealings.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

P.S. Rejoice with me, dear friends.  Today, my son is marrying a beautiful girl.  We are adding a daughter-in-law to our family.  She is a blessing to us all and we are thankful to God for bringing her to our son.  May God bless their union with happiness, loyalty, and love.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29- The Chickens Are Comin' Home To Roost

May 29, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 14:1-15:22; John 18:1-24;
Psalm 119:97-112; Proverbs 16:8-9

It is better to deserve without receiving, than to receive without deserving.  
~Robert Green Ingersoll

2 Samuel 14:1-15:22

You've heard the expression "Curses are like chickens; they always come home to roost."  This expression means that your bad actions are likely to rebound back onto you. It is true that back when people raised chicken in a free range fashion, the chickens would forage for food during the day and then in the evening, they would come back to their nests or roosts in the hen house.  Today, David's sin of killing Uriah is coming back to get him through God's judgment.  His sins are coming home to roost.

David was warned that his own family would rebel against him as part of God's judgment against him.  Today we see that his handsome son, Absalom, does just that.  First, Joab sends a wise woman to tell a story to David designed to convince him that he should forgive Absalom and allow him to come back to Jerusalem.  David acquiesces but in a half-hearted way.  He allows Absalom to come back, but refuses to let him come to the palace. This is a mistake. This contributes to Absalom going behind David's back and winning the hearts of the Israelites to himself. He is good looking and apparently, an excellent politician.  He promises everyone justice for all.  Oh my, how we all fall for these types, even today.  Slick Willy and Slick Absalom!

Absalom goes to Hebron where David first reigned as king of Judah for seven years and incites a rebellion against David.  David flees Jerusalem with his followers in order to prevent destruction in the city that he loves.  He also wants to preserve the life of his son Absalom.

David is once again on the run from an enemy. This is a mode of operation with which David is familiar.  God's judgment is swift and hard on David's sin.  God uses David's own family to punish and humble him.  David takes the whipping with humility.

How has God disciplined you in your life?  Has God used family members to humble you?  Has He used friends to humble you?

John 18:1-24

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane.  John tells us that Jesus went there often, so Judas (his betrayer) would have known this place well. Judas arrives with around 500 men, combining both the Roman guards and the Jewish Temple guards.  They didn't need to bring this half of a battalion because Jesus was intending to be the Passover Lamb.  No lamb being led to slaughter will resist.  Jesus was not going to resist. 

John wants to emphasize Jesus' deity, so we see the soldiers fall back as Jesus says "I am he."  Peter uses the sword that Jesus told them to arm themselves with earlier and cuts off the ear of the high priest's guard. Peter has misunderstood the Lord's intentions. Jesus rebukes Peter and has him put the sword away. Jesus tells Peter that he (Jesus) will drink from the cup that the Father has given him. The guards arrest Jesus and tie him up.

Next, we see Peter deny Christ three times as prophesied by Jesus. Jesus is questioned by the High Priest about what he has been teaching. Jesus replies that he has been teaching openly in the synagogues and that this is no mystery. The Temple guards strike Jesus for being obstinate. Jesus asks why are you hitting a man for telling the truth.

In this part of Scripture, we are watching Jesus drink the cup of suffering. He is drinking it willingly.  It is a suffering that you and I deserve for our sins. Our sins are coming home to roost on Jesus although he is guilty of no sin. Have you thanked Jesus today for his willingness to suffer for you?

Psalm 119:97-112

Here is a list of what God's commands do for the psalmist:
  • Make me wiser than my enemies.
  • Are my constant guide.
  • Give me more insight than my teachers.
  • Makes me wiser than my elders.
  • They are sweeter than honey.
  • Make me hate what is false.
  • Are a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.
  • Are my treasure and my heart's delight.
Wow. Can you say that about God's Word in your life? Jesus lived these words.

Proverbs 16:8-9

"It is better to be poor and godly than rich and dishonest."  True dat.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 28- Dysfunction Junction

May 28, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 13:1-39; John 17:1-26;
Psalm 119:81-96; Proverbs 16:6-7

Sometimes it's like watching a train wreck.  
You're uncomfortable, but you just can't help yourself.  
~Tony Danza

2 Samuel 13:1-39

Have you ever been on the highway and all of a sudden everything starts to slow down for no apparent reason?  As you crawl along in irritation, you wonder what could be causing the problem.  Eventually, you see the issue.  There has been a wreck and every car that goes by the accident slows down so that the passengers can rubberneck and see the disaster.  Today, reading this passage of Scripture is like rubbernecking through a trainwreck.  This is dysfunction junction on the railway of life.  David's sin has caused a train wreck of dysfunction.

Our story begins with his unbelievably handsome son, Absalom, and his very gorgeous, virginal sister named Tamar.  They are the children of a foreign woman from Geshur who is a Bedouin. Both Absalom and Tamar have a step brother named Amnon.  Remember that David, in rebellion against God's model of marriage in the Garden of Eden, has taken mulitple wives.  Amnon falls head over heals in love with Tamar.  Amnon's cousin, Jonadab, encourages Amnon to deceive David and get Tamar to bring him food alone in his bedroom. When Tamar comes into the room, Amnon rapes her and then immediately despises her. Tamar leaves, tears her virginal robes, and tells her brother Absalom what has transpired. Absalom lives with brooding anger about this incident for two years. David is also angry at the news, but does nothing to help Tamar.

Eventually, Absalom has a dinner party for all of David's sons. They arrive, get drunk, and Absalom has Amnon killed. The other sons flee on donkeys back to David's palace. There is great mourning for Amnon. Absalom flees to Geshur. Over time, David begins to miss his son Absalom.

Here we see King David reaping more of what he has sown.  David was an indulgent father, married multiple wives, including pagan/foreign women, and did not spend time training his children appropriately. David is now reaping the dysfunction that this lack of discipline in his own life has sown.

Can you identify areas in your life where you are reaping bad things because you sowed bad things?  God allows these processes in our lives.  Do you have the humility to see them?

John 17:1-26

When I was a young girl I would talk on the phone to my friends for hours.  I don't know how my parents put up with it, but they did.  Back in those days, there were no cell phones.  If you were going to talk on the phone, you had to use a land line and there would be mulitple phones in the house that had receivers someone could pick up to listen to your conversation.  As a kid, I was always worried that one of my siblings or parents had picked up the phone in the other room and were listening to my conversation.

Today, it is like we have picked up a phone receiver and are getting to listen to Jesus' intimate prayer with his Father.  Here are some of what he says to God:
  • Glorify me because you have given me authority over every person on earth.
  • I give eternal life to each person that You gave to me.
  • Knowing the True God and Jesus Christ is the only way to get eternal life.
  • I (Jesus) brought glory to You (God the Father) by doing everything You told me to do.
  • Now, please bring me back into the glory that You and I shared before the world began.
  • I am praying only for those who You have given to me, not for the world.
  • Those You have given to me are My glory.
  • Keep these ones that are mine and care for them when I leave them behind.
  • While I've been on earth, I have kept them safe.
  • I did not lose one of them, except the one that was destine for destruction as foretold by Scripture (Judas Iscariot).
  • I have given these disciples your Word.
  • Please keep them safe from the Evil One.
  • Make them pure and holy by teaching them Your Word.
  • I am going to send them into the world.
  • I am also praying for every person that will ever believe in me because of the testimony of these original disciples.
  • Keep them unified in Us.
  • Make them One with Us.
  • I want these that You have given me to be with Us in glory.
  • I have been faithful to tell them the truth so that Your love for me can be in them and I can be in them.
Wow.  Do you get what Jesus is saying here?  Can you feel the love and intensity with which Jesus loves us.  He is a Shepherd who wants to protect his flock. He is a best friend who is praying for his best friends.  He desires our purity and holiness.  He wants us to be with him forever in glory.  Praise God. He wants us to be ONE with him and the Father. He is like a good husband, Faithful, True, Intimate, Caring, Providing...


I am breathless with his devotion.

Psalm 119:81-96

"I faint with longing for your salvation; but I have put my hope in your word."  What more can I say?

Proverbs 16:6-7

Evil is avoided by fear of the Lord.  Perhaps if you and I thought about God's awesome power, we would avoid evil more clearly.

What did you see today as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27- You Reap What You Sow

May 27, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 12:1-31; John 16:1-33;
Psalm 119:65-80; Proverbs 16:4-5

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 
~Galatians 6:7

2 Samuel 12:1-31

One thing I love about nature is that it is predictable.  The laws of nature are something that I can rely on and rest in.  For example, if I want some sunflowers in my garden so that I can harvest sunflower seeds to eat, I know that I can go out, sow some sunflower seeds into the ground, water the seedlings, and eventually, I will have a beautifully tall sunflower in my yard that will drop sunflower seeds out for me to eat.  If I sow that type of seed, I will reap the harvest of what I sow.  I love to eat sunflower seeds, so this is a good thing to know.  Today, we are going to see that the principle of sowing and reaping also applies to our spiritual lives.  David has sown sin into his life and when one sows sin, one reaps death.

Nathan is a brave man.  He is about to go to the most powerful king on earth at the time and confront that king about his sin.  Nathan does this by telling king David the story of a rich man who owns many cattle.  There is also a poor man who only owns one little lamb that he loves dearly.  When the rich man needs to feed a guest, instead of taking one of his own animals to kill for the guest, he takes the little loved lamb of the poor man and kills it instead.  David is furious upon hearing of this injustice.  He declares that the man deserves to die.  He also notes that the man must follow Moses' law and repay the poor man fourfold for stealing his property.  Nathan reveals to David that he is the rich man in the story. Nathan tells David that although the Lord had richly blessed David, David stole Uriah's wife and murdered Uriah. God pronounces judgments on David's sin:
  • David's own house will rebel against him. Vs. 11
  • Other men will sleep with David's wives publicly. Vs. 11-12
  • The child that Bathsheba bares will die. Vs. 14
David confesses his sin before the Lord. Notice his humility. Nathan confirms that the Lord has forgiven David, but that David will reap this judgment because of the sin that he has sown.  David is spared death, but his baby boy is not.

David fasts and prays to God in an attempt to save the baby, but God does not spare the child's life.  David confirms in vs. 23 that he believes in life after death when he states that the child cannot return to David, but that one day David will go to be with the child.  David is still a man of faith.  He may be flawed, but he still believes in God.  After this incident, David comforts Bathsheba by sleeping with her.  God gives them a son named Solomon.  Solomon will become the wisest man who ever lived.  The Bible tells us that the Lord loved this child and wanted him called Jedidiah which means beloved of the Lord. 

God is kind, long suffering, and gracious to David, acknowledging David's repentant heart.  David will be unable to avoid the suffering that his own sin will produce.  As we read, we will see that indeed a person reaps what they sow.

Do you acknowledge your sins before God?  How have you confessed your own seeds of sin?  Do you realize that God is long suffering with you, also?

John 16:1-33

I want to remind you that what Jesus has been teaching and what we have been reading is what he said to the disciples in the upper room during the Passover Feast after Judas Iscariot was sent out with Satan having entered him.  Jesus is preparing the disciples for what will happen after his death.  In addition to washing their feet and modeling service to others, Jesus gives them key teachings that will sustain them in future trials. He tells them that he is telling them these things so that they won't fall away when people try to expel them from synagogues and kill them in God's name.  He is teaching them so that they will remember that he warned them that these things would happen. 

Jesus again attempts to help them understand the role of the Holy Spirit, who Jesus calls the Counselor.  Here is what the Holy Spirit will do once Jesus is gone and the Father sends the Holy Spirit to earth:
  • He convinces the world of sin.
  • He convinces the world of God's righteousness.
  • He convinces the world of coming judgment.
  • He will guide believers in all truth.
  • He never presents his own ideas.
  • He speaks only what he has heard.
  • He tells believers about the future.
  • He brings glory to Jesus Christ by revealing whatever Jesus reveals to him.
  • He reveals what God the Father has given to God the Son.
Jesus then prophesies that in a little while he will be gone and the disciples will not see him.  Then, a little while later, they will see him again.  The disciples are confused about this.  Jesus says that they are going to be sad and then their sadness will turn to gladness when they see him again, kind of like a lady in labor who suffers and then is glad when the baby is born.

Jesus tells them that they need to begin to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus.  This is a new teaching.  Jesus commands that they pray in his name.  He says prayers asked in this way will be heard and will bring joy.  Jesus is finally speaking in plain language to the disciples. They are thrilled that he is no longer speaking in parables.  They tell Christ that this plain speak has caused them to finally "get it" and believe that he is from God.  Jesus warns that they have jumped the gun and they will actually scatter and leave him to die.  Jesus says that he will not truly be alone when they scatter, because God the Father will be with him.

Jesus tells the disciples that he has warned them of all of these things so that they will have peace when these things come to pass.  Also, he says that in this world they will have trials, but take heart because he has overcome the world.

Amen and amen.  Do you have peace because of what Jesus has taught you?  His plain talk is for you.  Claim his peace and his promises.

Psalm 119:65-80

"You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised."  That says it all.

Proverbs 16:4-5

"The Lord has made everything for His own purposes, even the wicked for punishment."  Do you accept this concept?  It is the truth.

What did you see today?  Please share what you are learning.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26- Bathing in Sin

May 26, 2011

2 Samuel 9:1-11:27; John 15:1-27;
Psalm 119:49-64; Proverbs 16:1-3

I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. 
God knows I will do this and forgives me. 
~Jimmy Carter

2 Samuel 9:1-11:27

I recently read the autobiography of Jenny Sanford.  She was the wife of Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina.  Her book was the story of young love, ambition, marriage, children and eventually, adultery and betrayal.  Same ole story that we have all heard before.  While on a trip to South America, Mark meets and is attracted to a beautiful woman.  Unable to resist temptation, he develops an adulterous relationship with the woman and eventually causes his political and personal downfall.  This would be sad is it wasn't so predictable. Today, David goes from getting a covenant of blessing from God to plotting the murder of the man whose wife David has violated and impregnated.


It is a sordid tale one might find in the national newspapers today or on a gossip blog.  As we can see from prior readings, God is not shy about revealing the imperfections and downright sinfulness of even our greatest heroes of the faith. It is still somewhat surprising that God would detail such sin and depravity from the man who would bring us the Messiah, but He does.  While the other warriors are doing what they do each Spring, which is take advantage of the good weather and go to war, David has decided to stay home.  One day he sees a beautiful woman taking a bath on the roof of an adjacent home.  Being the king means that David can have whatever he wants, and he wants this gal.  Her name is Bathsheba and she is the wife of one of David's warriors named Uriah.  David sends his men to get Bathsheba and bring her to the palace. When she arrives, David sleeps with her.  This reminds me of the behavior of modern day rock stars and athletes.  They sleep with whomever they please.  Anyway, David gets Bathsheba pregnant. 

When Bathsheba sends word to David that she is pregnant, David begins to plot how to cover up his sin.  First, he tries to get Uriah to come back from the battlefield to sleep with his wife.  This will make it look like the child is Uriah's child.  Much to David's consternation, Uriah is so noble that he refuses to enjoy the pleasures of his wife while other men are dying on the battlefield.  Note the contrast between David's selfish sin and Uriah's noble self sacrifice.  David looks like a cad because he IS a cad.

Next, David tries to get Uriah drunk in hopes that he can wear down Uriah's self discipline with alcohol.  It doesn't work.  Even in a drunken state, Uriah is more noble than David at this point in his life.  Finally, David does his most dastardly deed.  He tells Joab, his top commander of the army, to put Uriah at the front of the battle lines of the fiercest battle and then pull back away from Uriah, leaving him with no protection so that he will be killed.  David plots this noble person's death in order to cover his own sin of adultery. Poor Uriah. Joab obeys David and Uriah is killed in battle. 

Bathsheba mourns the death of her good husband and after the period of mourning, David calls Bathsheba to come and be his wife.  This is the second woman in his harem who has lost her husband because of David's power and position.  The other woman was Michal, who lost Palti.  David has gone from being a humble man of trials who was chased and persecuted by Saul, to being a man of power and position who is prideful and selfish.  All people on earth can be corrupted by power.  We are all susceptible to the temptation of believing that we are above the law and worthy of getting whatever we are able to get with our power and position.  David is human, my friends.  Humans are sinful. That is the point of the story.

What can we learn from this story?  The Bible states that the Lord was very displeased with David's sin.  David was bathing in sin at this point in his life.  The power, position, and possessions were affecting his spiritual life.  He gave into temptation, and one sin multiplied into many sins.


What do you do each day to resist temptation?  Think of ways that you can avoid evil.  As we read the psalms, look at David's cry for forgiveness and remember this story.  Use the words of David's psalms in your own life to cry out for forgiveness.

John 15:1-27

One problem with ice storms is that beautiful branches often break off of gorgeous, old trees.  One year an ice storm decimated the trees that lined a beautiful parkway in a city in which we lived.  It was so sad to see all of those broken and detached branches.  Today, Jesus explains our relationship to him as a vine with branches.  He is the vine (like a grape vine) and we are the branches on the vine that produce fruit.  If we get broken off of the vine, we will be like the branches that fell off of the large oak trees in the ice storm.  Once separated from the source of life (the Holy Spirit) that is found only in the vine, the branch is useless to produce fruit. 

Jesus is saying that any person (branch) that is not connected to him will be gathered eventually and burned because it was a useless branch. This is a picture of how it is vitally important to be connected to Christ, spiritually.  Your productivity and viability for eternity are based on your relationship wth Jesus.  Jesus says that his true disciples produce much fruit.  Here are some ways that Jesus says that you can tell that you are connected to the Vine:
  • Obeying Jesus shows that you are remaining in his love. Vs. 10
  • You will have joy that overflows in your life. Vs. 11
  • Loving one another shows that you are his. Vs. 12
  • The greatest love is when you lay down your life for your friends. Vs 13
  • Jesus is now your friend, not your master, because he has told you everything, just like a friend would tell you the truth. Vs. 14-15
  • You didn't choose Jesus, he chose you.  He is commanding you to produce fruit. Vs. 16
  • He commands you to love each other. Vs. 17
  • If the world hates him, it is gonna hate you. Vs. 18
  • Since the world is going to persecute him, then they are going to persecute you. Vs. 19-20
  • The world is guilty because he came and spoke the Truth to the world, and now there is no excuse for sin. Vs. 22
  • The world is guilty because he did miracles for them. Vs. 24
  • Their hatred of him and the Father fulfills the Scriptures that say, "They hated me without cause." Psalm 35:19, 69:4   Vs. 25
  • He is sending the Holy Spirit, who is the Counselor, to tell the world about Jesus.  Vs. 26
  • You must then go tell others about Jesus. Vs. 27
Jesus lays out a clear picture that the future ministry of his followers will be a reliance on the Holy Spirit to counsel and teach the world who Jesus Christ is to all people on earth.

Do you rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read God's Word?  Do you share what you are learning in the Word with others?  This is how you show that you are connected to the Vine.

Psalm 119:49-64

This psalm cries out for the Lord to teach the psalmist His ways.  Today, we see that Jesus was faithful to teach the disciples his ways and to teach us his ways through his Word.  Jesus says that because he has taught us, we are his friends.  What a privilege!

Proverbs 16:1-3

"We can gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives the right answer."  This confirms our New Testament teaching today.

What did you notice in our lesson?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25- The Seed of David

May 25, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18; John 14:15-31;
Psalm 119:33-48; Proverbs 15:33

From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow. 
~Aeschylus
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18

A number of years ago when my children were little, I thought it would be a good thing for them to see a plant grow from seed.  So we got some vegetable seeds and planted them in rich dirt in little pots down in the dark basement of our home.  Once the little plants got to a certain stage, we set them on the porch to acclimate to the outdoors.  Eventually, they were ready to be placed in the dirt in our garden.  It took a number of months of disciplined watering and careful weeding to eventually harvest peppers and tomatoes from the small seeds we planted.  Today, God is going to make a covenant with David and promise that a seed from David will become the king of a kingdom that will reign forever.

As our story begins, David is sitting in a beautiful cedar palace built for him by Hiram, the King of Tyre.  He is feeling guilty because the Ark of God is being kept in a tent.  David decides to build God a beautiful house like the one that Hiram built for him.  Nathan, the prophet, agrees that this is a good idea.  But not so fast!  God tells Nathan to go back to David and tell him the following:
  • I (God) have always lived in a tent, moving from place to place and have never requested a temple to be built.
  • I have chosen you (David) to be a leader in Israel and I chose you when you were just a shepherd boy.
  • I am the one who has destroyed all of your enemies.
  • I am going to make you famous throughout the land.
  • I am providing a permanent home for the people of Israel.
  • They will never be disturbed here.
  • This is a place where the wicked nations will not oppress them.
  • I am going to build a house for you...it will be a dynasty of kings.
  • One of your descendants will be raised up to build a temple for me.
  • One of your descendants will have a throne and kingdom that will last forever.
  • I will be that king's father and he will be my son.
  • He will be punished for sin by the nations.
  • His kingdom will never be taken away from him.
  • The throne of David, through this descendant will continue for all time and be secure forever.
As you might imagine, David is dumbfounded by this revelation of God.  He realizes that the Messiah, who will save the world from the problem of sin, is going to come from his (David's) seed.  The promise that was given to Eve in the garden will be fulfilled through David's family.  The child that will bless all nations, as promised to Abraham, is going to be born through David's line. David praises God for being sovereign and able to accomplish His will on earth.  David claims the promise that God has given to him and confirms that this is a lasting promise and an eternal blessing.

Please note some things about what God covenants with David.  First, God chooses to identify with man by living in a tent.  Indeed, Jesus Christ put on the tent of a human body and moved throughout our world temporarily to save us through death.  Second, God chooses David as a shepherd boy to lead others.  Jesus is our Good Shepherd, just as David, Christ's forefather, was a shepherd. Third, God's promise to provide a permanent homeland where no nations would oppress Israel has not been fulfilled yet.  Fourth, Solomon (David's son) will build God a temple in Jerusalem.  Fifth, Jesus is the king whose reign lasts forever.  He is God's Son and God is his Father. David's seed becomes the Savior of the world, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.  God's promise to David is fulfilled. David's seed has a kingdom that will last forever.

In the final part of our reading, God's promise that David will become famous throughout the land is fulfilled as David defeats the surrounding enemies.

God has given you promises, also.  Have you claimed the blessings that God is offering to you?  Does your life reflect the confirmation to God that you realize He is blessing you? Have you accepted His blessings by faith?

John 14:15-31

Jesus introduces the concept of the Holy Spirit to the disciples.  He's letting them know that when he physically leaves this earth, he will send a Counselor to be with them spiritually. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Godhead who leads people into Truth once Jesus is back in heaven.  Jesus says that his resurrection will be the proof that what he is telling them is the Truth.

The disciples wonder why Jesus is only revealing this information to them.  Jesus begins to help them understand that the Holy Spirit is going to take the role of spreading the Truth of the Gospel through the followers of Christ to the whole world.  The Holy Spirit will spread the gospel while Jesus is in heaven.  Jesus confirms that he will be coming back to earth at the appropriate time.  He is leaving them with peace in their minds and hearts. They are not to be afraid, but be happy that Christ is going away.  It means that he will return again, one day.

This is a shocking lesson to the disciples.  They didn't really understand that part of the plan was going to be Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. They now are beginning to realize that they will be left on earth without him.  Not good, in their minds....  They will later understand the role of the Holy Spirit as a counselor, comforter, and teacher.  Right now, they don't get it.

Do you realize that God communes with you in the form of the Holy Spirit if you have received Christ as your Savior?  Do you find comfort in the Holy Spirit?  Can you pin point times where God's Holy Spirit taught you Truth?

Psalm 119:33-48

This psalm is asking God to teach and give understanding to the psalmist.  I like this verse, "Help me abandon my shameful ways; your laws are all I want in life,"  and later, "renew my life with your goodness."

Oh, this is a heart for God.

Proverbs 15:33

Fearing the Lord, like David did, teaches a person to be wise.  Humility is required before you will receive honor from God.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24- Bringing Home the Ark

May 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 4:1-6:23; John 13:31-14:14;
Psalm 119:17-32; Proverbs 15:31-32

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end. 
~Leon Trotsky


2 Samuel 4:1-6:23

Politics can be a dirty game.  In our country before you can become a candidate for president of the United States, you have to win your party's primary.  This means that five or six people duke it out to become their party's nominee.  Although the party has a platform of beliefs and policies on which that group of people agree, the campaigns to win the party nomination are often filled with back-stabbing, lies, and personal attacks.  In politics, the end justifies the means.  Today in our reading, we are going to see that when David tries to move the Ark of God, the end DOES NOT justify the means.

As the story begins, two underlings in Abner's army kill Ishbosheth (Saul's son) in his bed, cut off his head, and take the head to David as a peace offering.  They don't know David too well, do they.  David has a man killed for claiming to kill Saul, and David has these men killed for killing Saul's son in such a dishonorable way. 

David becomes king over all of Israel and he will reign for 33 years.  God loves symbolism through numbers.  I do not believe that it is a mistake that David, who is Jesus' forefather, reigns over the nation of Israel for the same number of years that his descendant, Jesus, was alive.  Jesus died at 33 years old.  It should also be noted that David was a king for 40 years.  There is that number 40 again.  God pictures Himself throughout history in a variety of ways.  I know He finds pleasure in the small signs and symbols.

David does many great things as the leader of the Israelites, but the desire to bring the Ark of God to the city of David tells you that the Lord is David's primary focus.  He is a man of God.  The problem is that David does not follow the rules and regulations given by Moses on how to transport the Ark.  Remember that the Ark is a picture of Jesus Christ.  It is a box made of wood overlaid by gold.  This represents Jesus' humanity (wood) and His deity (gold).  God's presence dwells with the Ark.  The presence of God dwelt in Jesus.  Numbers 7:9 details that the Ark must be carried on the shoulders of the priests when transported.  This pictures that Jesus Christ would come into this world on the shoulder of the nation of Israel.  His people would bring the Messiah to the world on their shoulders. 

The procession to bring the Ark to the city of David is filled with music and dancing.  We see the joyous heart of David, the musician, as he uses his God-given gifts to worship the Lord.  The festivities are halted when all hell breaks loose. There is a problem with how David brings the Ark to the city. David is breaking a sacred picture when he puts the Ark on a cart.  The oxen stumble and the Ark teeters.  A man named Uzzah goes to steady the Ark.  When Uzzah touches the Ark the anger of God blazes forth and kills Uzzah.  David is upset and angry at God.  He is also fearful of the Ark and of God.  David is unaware of his sin. 

After a period of time where the Ark blesses the family that has kept it, David forms another celebratory festival to bring the Ark to the city of David in the proper manner.  Notice that David repents of his sin, corrects the situation, and regains his joy and zeal for God. This time, the Ark of God is carried into the city in the proper manner.

David's passion for the Lord is so strong that it causes a negative reaction from his wife, Michal.  You will remember that she is Saul's daughter, who was given in marriage to another man at one point.  Now, she is back with David and her father and brothers are dead.  David triumphed over Saul's kingdom and he has multiple wives in addition to all of the glory of reigning over Israel. On top of all of that,  Michal is not passionate about the Lord like David is.  She ridicules David for dancing like a fool and taking off his royal robes to mix with the commoners as they worship God. David is unequally yoked in his marriage to Michal.  Her behavior indicates that she is not a believer in God. David is not pleased with Michal and he never sleeps with her again.  She is left as a barren woman both physically and spiritually.

Do you worship the Lord with passion?  When He corrects you because of sin in your life, do you readjust your behavior and then go back to passionately worshipping God?  What do you think about David being unequally yoked in his marriage?

John 13:31-14:14

Jesus existed before the foundation of the world.  His existence on earth was limited to 33 years.  Today, we see Jesus trying to cement within his disciples the Truth of who he is, where he is from, and where he is going.  After Judas leaves the last supper, Jesus tells the disciples that the time for him to be glorified is coming soon.  He says that where he is going, they cannot come, yet.

Peter asks why he can't come with Jesus.  He says that he is willing to die for Jesus.  Jesus corrects Peter and tells him that he will betray Christ in the next few days.  Jesus assures them that where he is going is like a big house with many rooms.  He is going to prepare the house for those who love him.  When everything is ready and prepared in the house, he is going to come back to earth and get them.  Thomas mentions that they don't know the way to get to this house.

Jesus responds that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one can come to the Father, except through Jesus.  Jesus is the way to get to this house. Jesus says that if you know Me, then you know the Father.  If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.  Philip then says that he wants Jesus  to show him the Father.  Jesus says that Philip has seen the Father, because Philip has seen Jesus.  Wow!

Jesus tells the disciples that people are going to believe their message if they learn to love one another.  Love is going to be a key quality of his true followers.  What do you think of Jesus' last teaching to the disciples?  His message is crystal clear.  Christianity is an exclusive religion.  Jesus thinks there is only one way to get to God.  He does not hold to the belief that there are many ways to God.  It is clear that Jesus does not believe that worshiping Buddha, your ancestors, nature, Mohammad or Krishna will get you into heaven.  Jesus is God in the flesh, and He is the only way to heaven.

Are you okay with this?

Psalm 119:17-32

This psalmist declares that he is a foreigner on the earth.  Jesus is preparing a home in heaven for those who believe in him.  Do you feel like a foreigner on this earth?  Is heaven your home?

Proverbs 15:33

David learned to listen to constructive criticism today from the Lord.  As a result, he grew in understanding.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
@ 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23- The Problem With Revenge

May 23, 2011

2 Samuel 2:12-3:39; John 13:1-30;
Psalm 119:1-16; Proverbs 15:29-30

A man that studies revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. 
 ~Sir Francis Bacon


2 Samuel 2:12-3:39

Gladiators were armed combatants who entertained the audiences in ancient Rome with battles that were fought to the death.  Although the gladiators were usually slaves that had been schooled under harsh conditions, they were an example of Roman martial ethics of fighting and dying with honor.  Although possibly starting as a funeral rite during the Punic Wars, these fights became cultural spectacles and games for the masses.  They reached their peak of popularity in 1 B.C. through 4 A.D.  Today, all manner of trouble begins when hand to hand combat for entertainment is proposed by two Israelite army commanders.

It is never a good thing to get two groups of soldiers together.  Military men are trained in killing.  Their discipline, loyalty, and goal is to defeat the enemy.  Today, Abner and Joab meet at a pool.  They each have men from their two armies with them.  They decide to have a little fun by picking twelve men to put on an exhibition by fighting in hand to hand combat.  All twenty-four men die. In addition to these men dying, Joab's brother, Asahel, runs after Abner on foot in order to kill him.  Instead, Abner kills Asahel and bad blood between Joab and Abner develops.  This starts a long war between those who had been loyal to Saul and those who are loyal to David.

Ishbosheth is Saul's son who was not killed in battle and he has been serving as king for those who did not follow David.  Ishbosheth accuses Abner of sleeping with one of Saul's concubines.  This enrages Abner and he swears to turn the entire nation of Israel over to David.  Abner meets with David to cut a deal and David agrees upon the condition that he get back his wife, Michal, from the man to whom Saul gave her.  That man's name was Palti, and he appears to have loved Michal very much.  He is distraught when she is taken away.

After a conciliatory feast, Abner goes on his way to bring the nation to David.  Joab conspires and kills Abner on his journey in revenge for the death of Asahel.  David is deeply distressed at Abner's death and mourns publicly for this loss.  The people of Israel are pleased at David's compassion and humility.  David reminds me of Joseph in his ability to forgive others and be merciful to his enemies.

David also allows the Lord to take vengeance on his enemies, rather than taking vengeance himself.  This is a godly way to behave. The problem with revenge is that you don't allow God His position in all matters.  You are usurping God's sovereignty.  David is obedient and wise in matters concerning his enemies, at least so far he is.

Do you allow God to take revenge when someone has hurt or injured you or one of your loved ones?  Does God even factor in when you have been offended? The Scriptures say in Romans 12:19, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."


John 13:1-30

What would you do if you knew you didn't have long to live?  Would you book a trip to Hawaii?  Spend some time with your family?  Maybe eat your favorite foods for the last time? Today, Jesus knows that he doesn't have many more days on this earth.  What to do?  We see the true nature of the Messiah in what he does.  He decides to celebrate a meal with his group of best friends and followers.  Jesus starts the Passover celebration with the disciples by taking off his robe, throwing a towel over his shoulder, and stooping down to wash the feet of his disciples.

Peter is appalled that Jesus, who can walk on water, heal any disease, and even raise a man from the dead would dare to set aside his authority to act like a slave.  Jesus tells Peter that he must wash Peter's feet.  Peter says that if he needs to be cleaned then the Lord should wash his head and hands, too. Jesus says that Peter is clean, but there is one among them who is not clean.  After he washes the feet of all twelve of them, Jesus puts back on his robe and says that the disciples must follow his example and serve one another.  They are not to try to one up each other and scramble for power positions.  They are to be humble and helpful and not seek self-glorification.

Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9 and indicates that one of the disciples who is sharing food with him has turned against him.  John tells us that Jesus is deeply anguished by this (vs. 21).  He cries out that one of them will betray him. The disciples are stunned. Peter leans over and asks who it is.  Jesus indicates that he will dip his bread into the sauce and give it to the betrayer. Jesus hands the bread to Judas Iscariot.  John indicates that Satan entered Judas at this moment. Jesus tells him to hurry and do it now.  The disciples do not know what Jesus means when he says this to Judas, but Judas gets up and leaves, immediately.

I am mindful of Joseph and David as they experienced betrayal in their lives.  I am reminded of how Joseph and David served men greater than themselves with humility and loyalty. All of these men are examples of suffering and betrayal.  With humility, they face God's will for their lives.  Their faith in God propels them forward through their pain and trials.  They do not fear for their lives, even in the face of death.

Can you say that about yourself?  What lessons can we learn from Jesus?  Do you strive to serve others?  This is a choice to serve others without recognition, not a position designed to glorify you through martyrdom.

Psalm 119:1-16

This psalm is about loving and following the Law of the Lord.  Our young people would do well to read this in school!

Proverbs 15:29-30

Good news makes for good health.  The Lord hears the prayers of the righteous.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22- The Song of the Bow

May 22, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 1:1-2:11; John 12:20-50;
Psalm 118:19-29; Proverbs 15:27-28

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. 
When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?
~ Clarence Oddbody from It's A Wonderful Life

2 Samuel 1:1-2:11

It is hard to eulogize someone that you love.  Death brings great clarity, though.  Actually, sometimes in the throws of sorrow, true perspective on what a person's life meant to others becomes clear.  Today, David recounts in a song what Saul's and Jonathan's lives meant to the nation of Israel and what Jonathan's friendship meant personally to David.  David commands that all the people of Judah learn this funeral song in order to remember these fallen heroes.  David honors his king and friend in death.  Here are some of the highlights:
  • They were Israel's pride and joy.
  • Mighty heroes have fallen.
  • They killed their strongest foes.
  • They returned from battle with plunder.
  • They were beloved and gracious.
  • They were together in life and in death.
  • They were swifter than eagles.
  • They were stronger than lions.
  • Saul dressed the women of Israel in fine clothing and gold ornaments.  He was a good provider.
  • Jonathan was my brother.
  • I loved Jonathan so much.
  • The love was deeper than the love for a woman.
  • The mighty heroes have fallen.
Do you feel the sorrow, admiration, honor and love that David has in his heart for these two men?  David was an honorable and compassionate man.

David seeks the Lord's will for his life after this.  God tells David to go to Hebron and be the king of Judah.  Meanwhile, Abner, Saul's commander, goes to Mahanaim to make Ishbosheth king over Gilead, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, the land of the Ashurites and the rest of Israel.  The people of the tribe of Judah stay loyal to David and he rules over them.

Do you honor those who have passed away?  David honors Saul even though he could have recounted Saul's many sins.  This shows humility, forgiveness, and grace.  Are you a graceful person?

John 12:20-50

When some people from Greece approach the disciples about meeting Jesus, Phillip and Andrew go to ask the Lord if he will meet with them.  Jesus launches into a lesson about his mission on earth. He gives his own "song of the bow."  By defining what his life on earth has meant to the world, he gives us a description of his purpose driven life. Here is a summary:
  • It is time for me to enter my glory.
  • A kernel of wheat must go into the ground and be buried in order to muliply and produce many kernels.  This is how I will get a harvest of new lives.
  • People must follow me in order to get eternal life.  They must not value their life in this world.  They must be willing to lose it in order to gain eternal life.
  • Should I ask the Father to spare me from death?  No. This is why I came, to glorify the Father through my death.
  • A voice from heaven then declares, "I have already brought it glory and I will do it again."
  • The prince of this world (devil) will be cast out and judged by my death.
  • When I am lifted on the cross, I will draw everyone to myself.
The crowd murmurs that they thought the Messiah would live forever according to Scripture.  They wonder who this Son of Man is that Jesus is talking about.  Jesus indicates that he is the light that they need to walk in in order to not stumble in darkness.  These symbolic images are confusing to some and clarifying to others.  This is so that prophesy in Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:10 would be fulfilled.  Those Scriptures indicate that the Lord will blind the eyes and harden the hearts of some people in Israel. If God had not done this, they would have never crucified him and the problem of unpunished sin in the world would still exist.

Jesus shouts to the crowd that if they are trusting in him, then they are really trusting in God who sent him.  He declares that when they see him, they are seeing God.  People who accept his message are saved, not judged.  Those who reject his message will be judged on judgment day.  Jesus concludes by saying that he only says what God the Father tells him to say.  Jesus is speaking of his own death and giving us perspective on what his life means to the world, even before he dies.

Can you hear the words of Christ?  Do you have eyes to see his light?

Psalm 118:19-29

"Open the gates for me where the righteous will enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord."  Remember that Jesus told us that He is the Gate through which we enter heaven. 

Proverbs 15:27-28

The godly think before speaking.  Wow.  I need to absorb this.

What did you see today as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21- As Perfect As An Angel of God

May 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
I Samuel 29:1-31:13; John 11:55-12:19;
Psalm 118:1-18; Proverbs 15:24-26

Reputation is character minus what you've been caught doing. 
~Michael Lapoce

I Samuel 29:1-31:13

Whenever I turn on the television or scan the Internet for news I inevitably get information on celebrities and politicians.   Whether I am interested or not, I learn who they are dating, when they are pregnant, and who is getting a divorce.  It only takes one scandal to sully the reputation of an individual.  Tiger Woods is an example of a man who had a stellar reputation.  He was thought of as a superstar athlete and role model for children.  This was up until it was revealed that he was a sex addict who cheated multiple times on his wife with multiple women.  He got caught in questionable behavior.  The results = bad reputation.  Today, we see that David is a true man of God who lives up to his good reputation. 

David has been protecting king Achish for a number of years.  He is prepared to go into battle with the Philistines against Israel.  This reflects tremendous loyalty on his part.  But we learn of his reputation by what king Achish says when the other Philistine rulers refuse to allow these Israelites to fight with them.  King Achish says that David is as perfect as an angel (vs. 9).  He also says that David and his men are some of the finest men he's ever met (vs. 6).

When David is told to return back to his town called Ziklag, David is faced with another tremendous trial.  God allows many trials in David's life to test his faith and build his character.  Let's watch his response.  When they get to the town, they find that the whole town has been burned to the ground and all of their possessions and families have been stolen.  David's fighting men weep and then get angry.  They are prepared to turn on David and stone him.  His response is to turn to the Lord.  Chapter 30 verse 6 tells us that David found strength in the Lord his God.  He then consults God to see if they should chase down the thieves to get their families back.  The Lord answers David's prayers in the affirmative.

David and his men successfully rescue their families.  In the pursuit, some men get too tired to go on.  After their victory, David's men who were strong enough to continue the pursuit don't want to share with those who got too tired.  David's actions again confirm his good character.  He insists that they share the plunder with those who were weaker.  David also shared some of the plunder with leaders of his tribe in Israel.  This is an amazing act of wisdom and good will.

Saul, who is in stark contrast to David, dies along with his three sons in battle against the Philistines.  It is a sad day because Jonathan, David's godly best friend, has lost his life.  Saul, on the other hand, got what he deserved.  In the end, he didn't have enough courage and humility to die with dignity.  He took his own life with a sword upon being injured in battle. 

One man was as perfect as an angel, the other man was not.  Do you trust God to give you strength in trials?  Do you share with people who are weaker than you?  Do you have a heart of courage and grace?  David was a man after God's own heart.  Are you a person after God's own heart?

John 11:55-12:19

As our story begins, Jesus' reputation has gone before him.  The people of Israel who have come to Jerusalem early before Passover are wondering if they will get to see Jesus during the Passover.  The religious leaders have told people that if they see him, they need to let the leaders know so he can be arrested.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus throw a dinner party in Jesus' honor in the town of Bethany.  Mary anoints Jesus' feet with perfume.  Judas Iscariot, who is at the dinner, is mad because the expensive perfume could have been sold and the money used for the poor.  John (the author of this book) informs us that Judas did not care for the poor.  He was in charge of the disciples' funds and often stole money for his own use.  Warning:  Be wary of people who always want your money to do good works for others.  They often finds ways to use your money for their own benefit.  These people do not get away with this behavior in the end.  God sees all.

Jesus tells Judas to leave Mary alone. He states that her action is in belief of his upcoming death and that she is preparing him for burial.  Jesus makes a true statement when he says that you will always have the poor among you.  He, however, was only on earth for a limited time period.

We learn that many people are now believing in Jesus because he raised Lazarus from the dead.  The Pharisees now want to kill Lazarus along with Jesus. 

Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph.  The people greet him as a king.  Jesus fulfills prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 by entering Jerusalem on a donkey.  As people cry out "Hosanna" they are truly saying "save us now!"  They believe Jesus will do this through political upheaval, but Jesus is going to save them through his death.

The Pharisees are discouraged at the sight of Jesus tremendous popularity.  They murmur to themselves, "We've lost.  Look, the whole world has gone after him!"  This is a prophetic statement by these evil men.  One day, the whole world will literally look upon Jesus in sorrow.  They will see the One they killed coming in Glory.  His reputation will be sealed.  He will be As Perfect As An Angel of God, just as king Achish called David.  Better yet, Jesus will be our God.

Do your actions reflect belief in Jesus like Mary's did?  Do you know people who like to act like they are concerned about the poor, but they are busy collecting your money to do it,and they conveniently spend some of your money on themselves?  Watch out for this.

Psalm 118:1-18

His love endures forever. This phrase is repeated in this psalm.  Read the portion of the psalm where the psalmist discusses the trials he has faced and how God delivered him in His strength.  This is a reminder of what David was saying in our reading today.

Proverbs 15:24-26

Wise people will leave the grave behind in order to live forever.  Nice.  I look forward to leaving the grave behind!

What did you notice today?  Talk to me about it.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20- May He Rescue Me From All My Troubles

May 20, 2011

Scripture Readings:
I Samuel 26:1-28:25; John 11:1-54;
Psalm 117:1-2; Proverbs 15:22-23

The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while other are adding up their troubles. ~Anonymous

I Samuel 26:1-28:25

This is a study in contrasts.  Today, we have one man who is the king of Israel and we have another man who will be the king of Israel.  Both are anointed by God, but the difference in their relationship with God is stark.  David is a man who knows that God rescues him from all of his troubles.  Saul is not. Here are some of the contrasts:
  • Saul disobeys God's orders.  David obeys.
  • Saul is prideful.  David is humble.
  • Saul wants to kill his enemies.  David blesses his enemies, if they are anointed by God.
  • Saul dishonors his family members.  David honors his family members and honors Saul's family members.
  • Saul seeks revenge.  David seeks forgiveness.
  • Saul consults mediums in the face of silence from God.  David seeks God, alone.
  • Saul fears death.  David does not fear death.
  • Saul faints at trials or rages at trials.  David accepts trials and waits for God's deliverance.
David is being forced to live amongst the Philistines.  He is protecting a king named Achish in order to avoid being killed by Saul and avoid being killed by the Philistines.  David is relying on God, but also using his brains and brawn to survive his trials.  Saul is not relying on God.  He is lashing out in anger and rashly pursuing a fatal course. These men are a study in contrasts.  They are like black and white keys on a piano. Which person are you most like when trials come your way? 

John 11:1-54

Mary and Martha have a brother named Lazarus.  Jesus has been talking a lot lately about giving his sheep eternal life.  Today, Jesus proves that he alone has authority over death.  Lazarus is very sick unto death.  Although Jesus is aware of this, he waits until Lazarus has died to go to their home.  When Martha comes to greet Jesus she discusses that Lazarus will rise on resurrection day in the future. Jesus takes this opportunity to say, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, though they have died, will live again."  He states that they are given eternal life for believing in him and they will never perish.  Martha confirms that she has always believed that he was the Messiah.

Mary comes and falls at Jesus' feet and says that if he had come earlier, Lazarus would not have died.  Jesus becomes troubled at everyone's deep wailing in sorrow.  Jesus weeps.  People notice his crying and wonder why he did not heal Lazarus since he was able to heal the blind man.  Jesus asks them to roll the stone away from the burial cave entrance.  Jesus thanks God that he always hears Jesus' prayers and then he shouts, "Lazarus, come out!"  At this command, Lazarus walks out of the tomb in his grave clothes.

Jesus rescued Lazarus, Mary and Martha from all of their troubles. Jesus does this with a compassionate heart that weeps at suffering and death. Have you taken your troubles to God?  He can rescue you, even from eternal death.

We see Jesus being plotted against by the High Priest, just like David was plotted against by Saul.  Jesus has to go into the wilderness outside of Jerusalem, just like David fled to the wilderness, in order to get away from those who would kill him.  The High Priest in his evil ways, is being used by God to bring about the death of one man for the whole nation and the whole world.

Psalm 117:1-2

God loves all the nations with unfailing love.  Jesus' actions in our reading today show this clearly.

Proverbs 15:22-23

Many counselors can be a good thing.  The best thing is to say the right thing at the right time. : )

What did you learn today?  I would love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19- Repaying Good for Evil

May 19, 2011

Scripture Readings:
I Samuel 24:1-25:44; John 10:22-42;
Psalm 116:1-19; Proverbs 15:20-21

There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.  
~Charles Dickens

I Samuel 24:1-25:44

Paying back good for evil is such a rare occurrence that it is hard to find an example in real life.  I saw a woman on a talk show once who ended up helping the man who murdered her son become a Christian.  That is a rare thing.  She forgave the person and helped them find forgiveness from God and receive eternal life as a result of their faith.  Jesus taught that we should repay good for evil by turning the other cheek.  Today, we see that David is a man of God.  David repays Saul's evil with good.

Saul is after David to kill him.  David and his men are hiding in a cave where Saul comes to relieve himself.  David has the opportunity to kill Saul and end the madness that has been the last few years of his life.  Instead, because he respects the anointing of God on the king of Israel, David only cuts off a piece of his robe.  Later, when Saul leaves the cave, David calls after him and shows him the piece of the robe.  Saul is humbled and declares that one day David will be the king of Israel and the country will be blessed under his rule.  David shows his strong faith and good character.  He is a godly man who has spent time getting to know the Lord.  His behavior is a harvest of good fruit from a good tree.

Next,  David risks ruining his run of good behavior when he is offended by a foolish man named Nabal.  Nabal's name actually means "fool".  When David asks for food and supplies in return for the protection he and his men have given Nabal's livestock and men, Nabal refuses.  Nabal repays David's good works with evil. David is angered and sets out to kill the whole family, when Abigail, Nabals' godly beautiful wife, intervenes.  She comes with food for the men and explains to David that her husband is a foolish brute.  Abigail hails David for his good character and strong faith in God.  She admonishes him not to tarnish his reputation by taking vengeance.  She encourages him to not pay back evil with evil.  David listens to Abigail's wise and godly advice.

Later in about ten days after these events, Nabal dies and David asks Abigail to become his wife.  This starts a new phase in David's life as we learn that Michal, his first wife, is given to another man.

Do you repay good for evil when someone offends you?  What is your normal reaction when someone attacks you?  How can you obey Jesus' command to turn the other cheek?

John 10:22-42

Jesus is still wrangling with the religious leaders.  He once again explains to them that his sheep are able to hear and recognize his voice.  He again emphasizes that he has come to give eternal life.  No one can take away people that his Father has given him.  He then says that I and the Father are ONE.

At this, they decide to stone him for blasphemy.  Jesus is claiming that he is God.  Jesus cites Scriptures where people who believe in God are called gods and he wants to know why if he is sent from the Father and performs miracles and does the Father's work, why won't they believe that he is the Son of God?  He states that he is in the Father and the Father is in him. 

Once again, they try to arrest Jesus, but he eludes them.  Have you ever realized how blunt Jesus is?  He is not pussy-footing around about who he is.

Psalm 116:1-19

This psalm pictures Jesus Christ, just like Psalm 23 does.  Think of him as you read it.

Proverbs 15:20-21

Sensible children bring joy to their father.  Foolish children despise their mother.  This is so true.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18- A Band of Merry Misfits

May 18, 2011

Scripture Readings:
I Samuel 22:1-23:9; John 10:1-21;
Psalm 115:1-18; Proverbs 15:18-19


I Samuel 22:1-23:9

English folklore has given the world the legend of Robin Hood.  Robin Hood was a skilled archer and swordsman, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He did this with his band of "merry men," who were also outlaws of questionable character.  The point of the story of Robin Hood is that his actions helped the community and were a counter to the behavior of the evil king and aristocracy of his day.

Today, David has his own band of merry misfits, who are on the run from the evil King Saul.  They, too, fight the Philistines and benefit the nation of Israel with their victories. But in contrast to Robin Hood, David is never disloyal to King Saul. David is a mistreated and misunderstood commander of this paranoid king's army. As our story begins, Saul has found out that David visited Ahimelech, the priest, and received food and Goliath's sword from the priest.  David also received consultation about God's will for him.  Saul is convinced that David is trying to overthrow him for the throne of Israel. 

Saul commands Doeg the Edomite to kill Ahimelech and the eighty-five priests associated with Ahimelech. In an act of pure evil, Doeg not only kills the priests, but all the women, children, babies, cattle, donkeys, and sheep that they owned.  One son gets away and reports the mayhem to David.  David promises to protect the remaining priest.

David mobilizes to go attack the Philistines, and Saul mobilizes to attack David and his men. Just as Saul is about to overtake David, Saul gets word that Israel is being attacked by the Philistines. This saves David from likely death.

Saul is a thorn in David's side. The Lord God has sent the tormenting spirit to Saul that is causing all of this trouble. What lessons is God calling David to learn through this experience? God's sovereign plan trumps our desire for ease and conflict-free living.  Can you accept this?

David accepts his suffering with humility.  He leans on God and does not lash out at Saul. I find his behavior amazing. It is grace-filled and Jesus-tinged. David has his heart in the right place. The psalms show us his struggles, fears, and willingness to cope with suffering through praising God. Is it any wonder he is called a man after God's own heart?

John 10:1-21

I love Jesus' illustrations today. He says that people are sheep.  Ain't that the truth. Sheep tend to blindly follow. Jesus says that some of us are HIS sheep.  He indicates that his sheep enter through him to heaven. He is the gate to heaven through which HIS sheep pass. Jesus does not indicate that there are multiple ways to get into heaven. This would counter teachings that you can follow Mohammad to heaven or Buddha to heaven.  Jesus is saying that he is the only way to heaven. Jesus says that his sheep recognize his voice and follow his voice. We have all had animals who recognize our voice as their master. This is the picture that Christ is painting. We uniquely hear his voice and are compelled to follow him only.

Jesus says that in this story (God's grand story) there is a thief who tries to steal his sheep and kill them.  But he gives life to his sheep.  He also defines himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. This is a picture of Christ's death on the cross, which provides the payment of death for our sins. His death insures our eternal life.  Jesus says the following about this concept:
  • There are other sheep, besides the sheep in the flock of Israel, who also hear Jesus' voice and join the flock.  He is speaking of Gentiles.
  • God the Father loves Jesus because he is willing to lay down his life for the sheep.
  • No one takes Jesus' life.  He voluntarily lays it down.
  • Jesus has the power to take back his life again, after his death.
  • God the Father has commanded Jesus to do this.
After this teaching, some people think Jesus is crazy or demon-possessed.  Other people believe him.

What about you?  What do you think?

Psalm 115:1-18

Our God is in the heavens and He does as He wishes...  Nice.  So true.

Here is a statement about idols...they are shaped by human hands, cannot talk, even though they have mouths, cannot see with their eyes, cannot hear, smell, feel, walk, or utter a sound.  Why would you pray to something like that?  Good point.

Proverbs 15:18-19

A hothead starts a fight.  Saul is a hothead.  Do you know any hotheads?

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
@ 2011