OT: 2 Sam. 2:12-3:39
Aw, man! I liked Abner! I liked how he was a take charge guy. I liked how he tried to get Asahel to leave him alone before being forced to kill him. I liked it when he told David's men, "Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their brothers?" (2:26). I really liked those words. I didn't exactly like how quickly he defected from the man whom he helped empower, but I did like how much he helped David as a result of that defection. I liked his competence. I liked the way he could bring people together. I liked him right up until that jerk, Joab, stabbed him in the stomach.
If I remember correctly, I think I eventually come to like Joab, too. Go figure. Today, however, I did not care for him one bit.
I think it is interesting what an uphill battle it was for David to actually become king, even though he was informed at an early age that it was God's plan for him. It reminds me that just because a task seems to be definitely from God, does not mean it is going to be easy or natural. I have several things in my life like that right now, one in particular. I feel quite sure that these are things that God wants me to do. And yet, they are just hard. Plus, life keeps getting in the way.
Oh, and how many wives does David have now? Good grief! He gets around, doesn't he?
NT: John 13: 1-30
This passage has always been one of my favorites, and one of the most formative in my faith. It is definitely one of those clear passages that tells you how to live as a Christian. For one thing, it really illustrates the idea of service that Jesus talked about (and I blogged on) yesterday. Dying to ourselves and serving others can be so anathema to our human nature, and often, our pride can't compute the sacrifice. If we are to put others before ourselves, for example, does that mean that they are more important than us? Does that mean that we don't matter? I like how John illustrates the reality of the situation here. In verses 3-4, he says, "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; SO he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist." I love the word, "so." I love that it is not, "but." Or "however." Verse three tells who Jesus was. Verse four tells what he did. "So" tells us that who He was caused what He did. There is a direct correlation. And who was He? He was powerful. He had immense authority. He was from God. He was returning to God. And because He understood the fullness of His identity as God's Son, He was able to humble Himself, empty Himself, and serve others.
I think it is the same for us as Christians. We are God's creation; we come from God. We are members of God's kingdom; we have power and authority. And one day, we are returning to God to live with Him forever. And when we get that, it becomes a lot easier to fulfill our purpose on earth, which is to glorify God by loving others by serving them. It starts actually making sense that we should die to ourselves, empty ourselves, and serve. After all, in doing so, we are Christ's ambassadors, and we point people to God. Thus, we help to fulfill the divine mission, which is for each man to reach out to God and to find him (Acts 17:27).
I also loved how the text makes clear that Jesus also knew that Judas was going to betray Him. And even so, He washed Judas' feet as well. Now, that is an example of loving your enemies. I can't imagine the mortification of pride that it would take to kneel before someone whom you know will betray you and to humbly wash his feet. It makes my heart burn to think of it. I pray to God that He will give me the strength to treat my enemies with that kind of love and humility.
Psalm 119: 1-16
Well. We'll be here for awhile:).
Which is okay, b/c I love Psalm 119, and I'm looking forward to spending the week or so that it will take to read it! In fact, I even got a verse for my lesson tomorrow:
"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word" (9).
I'm teaching teen girls, but I think it applies, too:).
I especially loved verse 5: "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!" I feel ya.
Verse 29 is interesting: "The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous." I think the reason that God is far from the wicked is because they have walked away from Him. I've seen in Scripture when people rebel against God, there is a certain point where He gives them over to their desires and essentially seems to leave them (Romans 1 has some examples of this, and I even think of Pharoah. Before God hardened Pharoah's heart to a tragic degree, Pharoah hardened his own heart repeatedly.)