Waiting For Harvest

(HOSEA 6:1-3, 11) 1 “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. 3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed, when I restore the fortunes of my people.

Recently, Donna and I took a quick journey to Dover, Tennessee to visit her parents. Usually, we take the fastest route. However, on this occasion Donna suggested that we take the back roads through the countryside. I’m glad we did. We beheld some of the most beautiful scenery as we wound through the farmlands of western Kentucky. It’s probably because I was raised in a farm community in Southern Illinois, but there is something peaceful about seeing the miles of crops that are maturing toward harvest.

As we drove, I noticed the different crops planted, as well as the variety of farms. Some of the farms were huge. These large properties were home to thousands of acres that were cultivated by the same family. The tractors and other farm implements were parked and waiting for action at the farmers beck and call. Just around the corner from these large farms, we came upon a young Amish boy who was driving his team of four horses to the field. Although his farm was smaller, and looked a little more rugged, it was growing and maturing at the same rate as the large farms.

As different as they were, the farms were waiting for a similar result. They were ready for harvest. It dawned on me that we all are waiting for harvest. Although our lives may be very different, each of us are hoping and praying for a positive and fruitful outcome.

Harvest comes at a price. It takes much work to prepare the fields, and to plant the seed. It never happens without labor. Hosea mentions some of the hardships that may precede the harvest. He suggests that we may be torn and struck down; thankfully, the Lord has promised to heal and bind us up. He will revive, restore, and allow us to live in His presence. What a privilege!

If you are like most Christians, you have seed in the ground and you are waiting for an expected harvest. Hosea encourages, “let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Be patient. Let the Lord do His complete work and harvest will come!

PRAYER: Lord, I’ve planted the seed. Now, I wait patiently upon You to bring about the harvest of Your blessings! Amen!

Fat Cows…

1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’ 2 The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. 3 And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the Lord.

Before you get offended with me over this post, let me remind you that I’m only quoting the words of the Prophet Amos! Amos wasn’t trained as a prophet, he was a simple herdsman and farmer. When he wanted to get the point across to the indulgent women of Israel, he called them fat cows. WOW… that’ll get your attention, won’t it? The livestock of Bashan in the northern part of Israel–the modern-day Golan Heights–was known for being fat and healthy. It wasn’t that these women were plump and affluent, it was that they gained their wealth and affluence by oppressing and crushing the less fortunate. God saw this and promised to hold them to account.

God uses Amos to tell unrepentant Israel of their coming agony when they are conquered and exiled by the Assyrians. When the Assyrians depopulated and exiled a conquered community, they led the captives away on journeys of hundreds of miles, with the captives naked and attached together with a system of strings and fishhooks pierced through their lower lip. God would make sure they were led in this humiliating manner through the broken walls of their conquered cities. This would thoroughly humble the fat cows of Israel. (Guzik)

This prophetic word was given for several reasons. First, God wanted Israel to know that prosperity should be divinely given–not dishonorably grabbed! God could provide abundance for them without their mean-spirited oppression. Second, God wanted Israel to be known for justice–not the greedy, oppressive, land-grabbing people they had become. Third, He wanted to be the reason for their rejoicing. Instead, they were focused entirely upon their gluttonous and drunken living. Nothing about their current lifestyle was bringing glory to God.

We realize that this passage of scripture was specifically meant for an intended audience during a definite historical season. With that said, it certainly provides an opportunity for us to do some soul searching. With the rise of the prosperity gospel that has overtaken the church, I sometimes feel the need to check my spirit for possible abuses. I do believe that God wants to bless us. Jesus provides abundant life! However, I must also be aware of the needs of others, and how my life may benefit them. I don’t believe that God blesses us so that we can hoard the resources, and keep them for ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing! God is most pleased with His people when we are representing His goodness to the hurting people of this world.

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive my fat cow mentality. Help me to realize that You have called me to represent Your goodness to the hurting people in my circle of influence. When I rejoice, let it not be representative of worldly in fluences. Instead, may it flow from a heart that is focused upon You. Amen!

May I Put You on Hold?

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land….. 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

I must confess that being put on hold frustrates me. Sometimes it feels like I’m being put in a closet while the person on the other line goes on a break to get a fresh cup of coffee! I know that’s not true, (at least, I hope it’s not!) but it’s frustrating none the less. Sometimes being put on hold is necessary so that the right individual can be located, or until they can complete a call they are already on. To me, the very worst is being put on hold without any background music. Even though I may not particularly care for the music selection, at least I know that I’m still connected; when there is no music, I begin to wonder if I was disconnected. Still, when asked, “May I put you on hold?” I generally agree.

I was thinking about the woman in our scripture text today and wondered what it might have been like to be told by the prophet that she would be put “on hold” for 7 years. She had been the recipient of a life-giving miracle when her son had died. God raised him back to life and they were living in the moment of divine blessing. But, then…

The prophet instructed her to do the following:

  • Depart from this land. (God had called for a famine)
  • Take your entire household with you.
  • Go wherever you want to go. (The destination was not important.)

I looked, and then I looked again to see if the prophet included a promise of restoration. There is none. Only a call for obedience. I guess the word “sojourn” might be the closest thing to a promise because it would indicate a continual journey that might ultimately lead them back home. But that is a stretch… Instead, the prophet’s words are a simple explanation of God’s intention to put famine upon the nation for a period of 7 years.

So, what does one do when God calls for obedience without a corresponding promise of blessing? Scripture clearly records her response in verse 2. “So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.” I don’t see any questions. No discussion. No attitude. No rebellion. Just simple obedience. Her whole life was being put on hold, primarily because of the sins of others, and she basically responds with a shrug of the shoulders and a resounding, “Let’s roll!”

How did she have the courage to leave her comfort zone to journey into the unknown? Simple. She trusted that the word of the prophet reflected the love of God for her. After all, she had already received her son back to life because of the goodness of God. She could not see, and had not been told what the end result would be. She trusted God.

Sometimes the story ends right there. Just obedience. The writer of Hebrews tells us,

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32-40)

At other times the story ends with greater blessing than we previously possessed. After 7 years, the woman returned home and requested her land be returned. The King appointed her own representative to see that her holdings were returned, AND that she was given ALL the fruit that was yielded from her land during the 7 years.

Are you on hold? If so, simply trust the Lord and know that your future is in His hands!

PRAYER: Father, my past experience with you allows me to trust during seasons of uncertainty. When I’m traveling a winding road, I’m able, by faith, to trust that you are directing my steps. Thank you for that confidence!


(Romans 13:1-2 ESV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Growing up in America has always been a source of pride for me. I grew up in a small midwestern farm town where hard work, honesty, family, and faith were honored. Except for the occasional rebel, most of the people I knew were good folks, and genuinely cared for each other. Parents were respected, and those in authority were seen as servants of the community. For someone to disrespect governing authorities was a rarity, and there was a high price to pay for those who chose to do so.

Something has happened in our great nation that is alarming. I’m not sure who’s to blame; truth be told, there is enough blame to go around for everyone. Disrespect is at an all-time high and people just don’t seem to care who they offend. Fights break out over parking spots, gunshots are commonly reported on the morning news, murders are rampant; people are afraid to open their doors.

Politicians and celebrities are duking it out on a daily basis. Comedians are some of the worst offenders by using their monologues to twist their routines to leverage the latest leak, or mistake. And honestly, the politicians heap fuel on the fire by their shady deals, behind the scenes activities, and blatant lies to protect their indiscretions. Every one is at fault and no one seems to want to try to change the direction we have taken.

There is now a movement called #theresistance. Politicians are joining; celebrities are pushing it. It seems it is the cool thing to do. The problem with resistance is it seldom finds a good place to stop, and rarely cares who it hurts in the process. #Theresistance seems to have at its very center the destruction of everything in its path.

God has a better plan than man. And, it works on every level. Families benefit from it. Governments are more effective when it is adhered to. Society as a whole improves when it is evident. What is it? Respect. Simple respect for those who have been entrusted to the job.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t speak up against wrongdoing. Obviously, there are times when our voice must be heard loud and clear in order to stop evil. But, for the most part, much difficulty could be totally avoided by simply respecting authority.

I don’t start an argument when the clerk at the grocery store asks me to slide my debit card through the machine. I don’t speed through the intersection when the crossing guard blows the whistle and raises her hand. It’s my choice to comply or rebel.

So, I’ve made up my mind. I’m joining #theresistance. Starting today, I intend to resist the humanistic philosophy to rebel. I will resist the desires of the flesh to lash out at everyone I disagree with. I will resist hurting others so that I can gain the upper hand. I will resist the desire to make everyone look bad; to suggest there is evil in every detail.

Authority is God’s good idea. It makes society a better place to live. Respect the authorities… Hmmm, sounds like a good plan.

PRAYER: Father, we need your help in America today. Things are completely out of control. But, I know that You are still in control. You possess and distribute authority at Your will. Help us to respond positively to Your will on earth; even as it is in heaven. Amen.


1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. 3 And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her. 6 And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard.

Miriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “breathless” as being gripped by emotion. I can almost visualize the scriptural account of the Queen of Sheba’s response to the testimony of God’s greatness. We must keep in mind that she was, in her own rights, a woman of renown. She brought great riches as gifts for the king. Her wealth and influence was staggering. She awoke to multiplied riches every morning and servants attended to her every need. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my lifetime! But, that was the norm for the Queen.

The text seems to imply that she came to Solomon with the intent to “stump” him. After all, she had heard of his great fame and wisdom concerning the name of the Lord. So, when she approached, “she came to test him with hard questions.” But, after her interrogation; after telling Solomon ALL that was on her mind, “Solomon answered ALL her questions.” 

I recently had to get a new doctor because of insurance regulations. It took three months to get an appointment, so when I got there I was full of questions. I asked her everything I could think of. At the end of the appointment, she asked me if I could think of anything else to ask and then proceeded to tell me to call if I thought of anything else! I was satisfied that I knew everything I needed to know about the services she would provide and was pretty impressed with the clarity with which she spoke. But, I was not breathless! I was not gripped by emotion!

The Queen of Sheba listened intently to the wisdom of Solomon, toured his impressive mansion, observed the details of the servants and officials, even down to the clothing choices. This was one THOROUGH investigation of the facts! When she completed her visit, we are told that she was BREATHLESS! As in, “gripped by emotions” kind of breathless.

Why should this matter? The world is full of individuals who possess great wisdom and knowledge. If we took The time to do it, we could rattle off dozens of people who are extremely smart; able to think on a level much higher than my pay grade!

I believe the key can be found in the report, “the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord.”  Did you catch that? She was familiar with riches. She understood about high quality “stuff.” She had toured expensive mansions and probably lived in one. So, why was she breathless? I believe it was because of the way that Solomon gave the glory to God. When she heard that all of these blessings could be traced to the hand of God in Solomon’s life…. SHE WAS BREATHLESS!

Has God been good to you? Have His blessings left you breathless? I can honestly say that after having walked with Jesus these many years I am “gripped by emotion” when I think of His goodness to me!

PRAYER: Father, I stand amazed at Your goodness to me. Help me to never lose the wonder of Your amazing grace. Amen.


I have been thinking a lot lately about where we are as a nation. Things are not looking good for America. It seems that everyday now there is an assault on Christian values. Values, in general, have changed. “Tolerance” is one-sided. We are “commanded” by the world to tolerate the sinful lifestyles, but they don’t tolerate those who choose to accept Scripture. We should not be surprised by this…Jesus told us that we would be hated just as He was hated.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for advancing revelation. I’m thankful that the church has moved off of some of the legalistic jargon that was so prevalent just a few short years ago. With that said, I’m concerned that we have abandoned true scriptural admonitions for the sake of convenience and popularity. For instance…it may be more popular to live together without the benefit of marriage, but does that fit with Scripture? It may sound cooler to use language that is suggestive, or crude…but how does that fit with not allowing blessing and cursing to come out of the same mouth?

To turn the tide, holiness must be reintroduced to America. However, I’m not sure that can be done by a group of Christians talking about it. While I’m certainly not opposed to Christians speaking out about their beliefs, I’m just not sure that anyone is listening. And, simply showering unbelievers with love is not going to address the issue of turning away from sinful lifestyles. Nor, am I interested in reintroducing legalistic “lists” that are impossible to maintain. I’m not much of a finger-pointer either. So, what is the church to do? Where do we even start?

It dawns on me that the most effective thing we can do is PRAY. I don’t mean just little “Lay me down to sleep” prayers. I’m talking about intense, directed prayer that specifically targets the sin of our nation. I’m talking about prayer that urges God to change the hearts of our nation…whatever the cost. I’m talking about asking God to change the hearts and logic of our government officials. What would happen if God allowed difficulty to come to the lives of our leaders with the express purpose of changing their hearts? God certainly has used that approach before…just check Biblical history.

I’m reminded of an old song that we used to sing…

It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others,
He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open,
He’ll pardon you.
It is no secret what God can do!

When I was a teenager, I remember my mother praying that God would put me under such conviction for my sinful actions that I would not be able to sleep at night. She prayed that I would become physically ill if I was drinking for the purpose of getting drunk. She didn’t play games with my sin. She understood that hardship would cause me to turn to God. She knew that my soul was hanging in the balance. I know that many would not agree with that particular approach to prayer. But, what other options do we have? The world will not listen to “Christian” reasoning, and even if they listened they could not understand because they are not in covenant with God and His Word.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

As I think about all that prayer has accomplished throughout history, I am convinced that it is capable of turning the tide. There is no shortage of power. Let there be no shortage of PRAYER!

I Thought You Were My Friend!

20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. 21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. 22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Likely, each of us has experienced the pain of a relationship break up. It happens in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we just gradually grow apart. For instance, I have fond memories of high school and college friends that I am no longer close with because of geographic separation. The same is true with colleagues I once worked with. Friendships grew out of opportunities to collaborate on common goals and projects. But, once the season of teamwork was complete, new assignments made it difficult to remain close.

As a child, I remember taking family vacations to Alabama to visit grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. We cousins always made the most of our opportunities to share new ways to play games, laugh at new jokes together, and terrorize the neighborhood. But, time moved on and we became adults with our own families and responsibilities to attend to.

Psalm 55 tells a different story. The Psalmist reflects upon a relationship gone sour; a friend had become an enemy. This was not a gradual growing apart. This was a case of hurt feelings and purposeful retaliation coming from someone who had been an equal, a companion, and familiar friend.

David writes, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”

While in seminary, I took a class on conflict resolution. I learned that the deepest wounds are often inflicted by the individuals closest to us.

As a pastor, I’ve talked with many people who spent their childhood being verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted by parents. This evil brand of abuse can stay with a person for many years, exacting waves of depression that seem impossible to overcome.

Spouses typically fall into this category. I truly believe that one of the reasons God hates divorce as much as He does is because of the deep scars it leaves behind. It can be especially devastating when someone you have shared the intimate details of your life with decides to leave. Some never recover from these wounds.

Is there hope? I believe there is! It is found in the one relationship that can heal the hurts of life. David knew that! He counsels us to, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Did you catch that? He will sustain you! That’s good news.

I want you to be encouraged today. I realize that you may be experiencing the pain that comes from a broken relationship. But, remember, God loves you! He won’t leave you comfortless. He’ll always be beside you. As the old song says…

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being my friend. Earthly relationships can be unfriendly, unkind, and fleeting. Help me to never be like that. I would rather be like You; faithful, kind, loving, and trustworthy. I’m committed to that! Amen.

Hello, My Name is Mephibosheth!

(2 Samuel 9:1-8 ESV) 1 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” 3 And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4 The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” 5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 7 And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8 And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”

This story is one that speaks to God’s great compassion and mercy to mankind. David, who was king of Israel, decided to show kindness to the remaining members of Saul’s household. Upon inquiring if there were any remaining family members, Mephibosheth’s name was presented to him. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, Saul’s grandson, and was lame in both of his feet. David blessed Mephibosheth by restoring the land that had once belonged to his grandfather Saul, and taking him into the royal palace to enjoy the privilege of eating at David’s table. It is a beautiful picture of the unmerited favor of God.

There are several things to consider. First, David chose to be merciful in spite of Saul’s hatred for him. Saul had done everything in his power to destroy David. He allowed his hatred to control his attitude and actions toward David. Every waking moment Saul was consumed with the destruction of David. I’m grateful that God chose to be merciful to me! I’ve not always walked faithfully with the Lord. There was a time when my daily routine was all about being rebellious against Him. In spite of that, He loved me in a real and tangible way.

Second, from the natural point of view, Mephibosheth wasn’t the best candidate for blessing. Being crippled, he could never effectively serve David or repay the kindness given him. Even the fruit from the restored land would have to be worked by servants. Mephibosheth realized his limitations when he responded, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” The only thing he could give was his sincere appreciation. So Mephibosheth, “came to David and fell on his face and paid homage.” Likewise, we must realize that God’s mercy is given freely, not because of anything (other than worship) we can bring to Him.

Lastly, we discover that mercy is distributed consistently. David never revoked Mephibosheth’s claim to his favor. Verse 13 tells us, “So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table.” Mephibosheth was an unworthy candidate and he had nothing of material value to bring to David. He simply responded the only way he could; he freely received the favor, and he graciously returned gratitude.

Through this historical account we see that God loves us with an everlasting love. We don’t deserve it and we certainly cannot provide anything that will increase God’s holdings. He only desires one thing–gratitude. I can do that!

PRAYER: Father, Your mercy is precious to me. My heart is full of gratitude when I think of all You have provided me. Thank You!

When Giving Up is a Good Thing!

(2 Samuel 28:26-28 NLT) 26 Abner shouted down to Joab, “Must we always be killing each other? Don’t you realize that bitterness is the only result? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?” 27 Then Joab said, “God only knows what would have happened if you hadn’t spoken, for we would have chased you all night if necessary.” 28 So Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men stopped chasing the troops of Israel. 

Have you ever found yourself in an endless cycle of destructive behavior? Sometimes conflict starts for valid reasons but then it seems to go on forever with no apparent resolution in sight. It’s in times like these that we sometimes think, “I’m just tired of fighting about this issue. I’ll give a little if you’ll give a little and we’ll just move on to other things.”

In our passage of scripture today, we see a similar situation. War and struggle was on everyone’s mind; land needed to be taken, governments protected, honor defended. Lives were being lost with no real advance in the battle.

One very popular young man by the name of Asahal was one of the big losers. He was described as being able to run as fast as a gazelle. He was so fast that he easily caught up with Abner who was attempting to escape. Abner suggested that he go fight with someone else so that he wouldn’t have to kill him. But Asahal wasn’t having it. He would die fighting if need be. And, die he did…

We are told that other individuals came by and stopped to observe the dead body of Asahal. I wonder what they were thinking. Do you think his death inflamed a deeper bitterness against their enemy? Do you think the men renewed their desire to see the enemy destroyed? Or, is it possible they started asking, “Why are we fighting this stupid battle?”

I would suggest the latter. Notice the recorded conversation between the leaders: When Abner shouted down to Joab, “Must we always be killing each other? Don’t you realize that bitterness is the only result? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?” Joab said, “God only knows what would have happened if you hadn’t spoken, for we would have chased you all night if necessary.”

It sounds to me they were happy to consider a cease fire; a truce that would allow the fighting to stop. And just like that, “Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men stopped chasing the troops of Israel.

Sometimes it just takes an agreement to stop fighting. Many times the wounds that result from an extended period of fighting only serve to produce bitterness. Nothing of value comes from refusing to “back off!”

Are you fighting battles with loved ones that have ceased to produce positive results? Is the fight creating a deeper sense of bitterness and frustration with the one you’re fighting with? Let me make a suggestion. STOP IT! Just blow the ram’s horn and stop pursuing the battle. Choose to live another day! It is in your power to do it. Convince yourself that sometimes GIVING UP IS A GOOD THING!

PRAYER: Father, give me a discerning heart when it comes to conflict. Help me to know when the battle is worth fighting and when giving up would produce a more positive result. It’s not important that I get everything I think I should have. It’s more important that I live another day, and fight battles that will secure kingdom advancement. Let it be so…Amen!

Effective Leadership

(1 Samuel 23:1-5 ESV) 1 Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2 Therefore David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

When we think of leaders, we usually think of someone who is “high up” in an organization. The President of the United States is often referred to as the “leader of the free world!” Steve Jobs led Apple to become one of the most prosperous companies in the world today.

But, what about leadership closer to home. Who steps up to the plate when a crisis needs to be averted? While it is true that David was a well known and highly respected king, this passage of scripture provides insight as to how anyone can provide leadership in difficult situations. Notice…

  • David listened. “Now THEY told David…” Usually, problems come to leadership through the voices closest to the chaos. As a pastor, I often discover problems that need my attention when a member provides information I’m unaware of. For you, it may be your spouse, or a child; maybe a co-worker who takes the time to share vital information that needs to be addressed.
  • David prayed. “Therefore David inquired of the Lord…” This was a BIG problem with national consequences. David knew he needed wisdom from God to effectively  defeat the enemy. But, what about your challenges? As bad as it seems, your problems usually don’t carry national consequences. Even still, prayer should always be the starting point.
  • David listened some more. “But, David’s men said…” It would be easy to criticize these men. But, before we do that let’s consider the fact that their lives were on the line. Their families could be negatively impacted if David was wrong. They wanted to be sure that David was actually hearing the Lord properly before agreeing to engage in warfare that could possibly end in death.
  • David prayed some more. “David inquired of the Lord AGAIN…” David was wise to pray again. When a personal decision determines the welfare of a corporate body, the leader must be certain about the will of God. The New Testament confirms the need to ask, seek, and knock when it comes to prayer. Leaders unwilling to pray are unworthy to be followed!
  • David led. “So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah…” David received the credit for leading a team that was ill-prepared to face the giants in their lives. He led them on two battlefields… their personal fears… and their powerful enemies.

John Michael Montgomery made famous as song that says,

Life’s a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don’t worry about what you don’t know
Life’s a dance you learn as you go

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving us the ability to lead with divine wisdom. May we overcome the giants of fear that would try to hold us back from victory. Give us the courage to face our challenges with faith and courage. Amen.