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Take The Path

Romans 12:14 says, Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Instincts say, curse….but God says, BLESS.

Now, that’s hard isn’t it? But is it still possible? Of course it is – and it’s what separates the outlaws from the heroes. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

Who is the person who is very difficult to love? Who is pursuing you? Chasing you? Who seems to at every turn – hunt you down and wish you wrong?

Remember David and take it to the Lord in prayer. Don’t presume to know or act, and in turn take their name and pray for them.

How do you take the road of a hero and bless your enemies?

1. The first to apologize is the bravest – Pray for them

Jesus says in Matthew 5:44  I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Pray for your enemies and I think you’ll discover what David learned and that is – It’s really hard to hate someone when you’re praying for then.

2. The first to forgive is the strongest -   Forgive them

You know, when Jesus was crucified and on the cross – he had the power to call down God’s wrath and destroy his enemies. But rather the Bible says Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them…”

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Proverbs 27:3 A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Listen, somebody may have hurt you yesterday or years ago and you’re still holding on to it. It’s still making you miserable; they’ve forgotten it. Resentment cannot change the past, but it can mess up the present and the future. It cannot correct the problem, but it can make the problem worse. It doesn’t change the person, it doesn’t even hurt that person, it only hurts you.

Dr. S.I. McMillan says – “…the two greatest causes of the physical problems are guilt and resentment.” He says, “It’s not so much what you eat, it’s what eats you.”

Resentment makes you unhealthy. It leads to physical and emotional consequences. It leads to depression and stress and fatigue.

Jesus says in Luke 6:37 “Forgive and you will be forgiven,” the bottom line is when we forgive, we receive the blessing as well.

3. The first to forget is the happiest -

1 Timothy 1:13 3 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,

Not everything that happens to you is because everyone is out to get you. Learn to let it go. Sometimes they just don’t get it and we need to learn to show mercy and grace.

Where would we be without mercy?  Jesus’ final words on the cross were not recorded for posterity, but for purpose. What did he say “Father forgive them….” Why? “Because they don’t even know what they are doing.”

What is the dying man telling a dying world? I forgive you

What is the insight to a generation looking for answers? You’ll do better praying for your enemies, than holding a grudge.

What is the heart of the Savior?

Release, forgiveness, and grace.

Take the path of the hero

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Confronting Our Fears

1 Sam 24:1-4.

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.  Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Saul goes into a cave by himself to go to the bathroom; and who happens to be in the back of the cave? David. Here was his chance to kill Saul! Even his men are chanting, “do it – do it – do it.”

And nobody would have blamed David if he would have just taken his sword and plunged it into Saul’s back.

Surely this was a sign that God had delivered Saul into David’s hands, right?

David drew his sword, but he didn’t stab Saul in the back.

Instead, he sliced off a piece of Saul’s robe, then returned to his place in the cave. Saul didn’t feel a thing. Why did David do that? Well, he had a tremendous respect for the office of the King even if he didn’t have much respect for the king himself. Because no matter how low Saul stooped, he was still the king and should be respected. And so this then immediately makes David feel guilty….

v5-7 5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

He knew what he had done was done initially out of anger and bitterness, and afterward, he was disturbed with himself for allowing his anger and bitterness to gain control over him, even for a moment. David had such a desire to honor God with his life that he felt remorse because he allowed sin to lead him to do something he knew was not right, no matter what everyone else thought.

We said earlier that David is walking the line between being an Outlaw and a Hero. And part of what makes him a hero and as the Bible says, “A man after God’s own heart” is shown here in this moment.

David clearly has reason to be upset with Saul, his action would even be justified, but rather than take revenge, rather than hurt, David chose a different route.

Handling mistreatment in a godly way doesn’t come naturally. That’s why Jesus’ instruction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not as they do to you, is so revolutionary. Rare is the person who will not retaliate.  After Saul left the cave and went his way, David also went out of the cave and he calls out to Saul.

1 Samuel 24:8-15

8 Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. 9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’?10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you.  I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 15 May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”

David says “stop listening to your poor advisors and see the evidence in my hands.”

I think David was tired of living in fear, tired of hiding, tired of being in a cave. David chose the higher road and stepped out to face Saul directly and he said, “this feud between us ends today – either with our friendship – or my death.”

And I think, sometimes we have to do that. I think one of the best ways to deal with people who have hurt us or done something wrong to us is to go and talk to them.  Rip off the Band-Aid – get it over with – step out of the cave – turn from the path of the outlaw and be the hero.

And listen, you may not convince them they’re wrong, but you can be sure that they understand all the facts. But our tendency is to say, “Oh just leave it alone. It’ll eventually all work out.” But David didn’t leave it all alone, did he?

He said, “King Saul, you don’t have the facts straight. I am not trying to kill you and I am not trying to take over your position as King. People are telling you lies about me. Why do you listen to them? Let me prove it. If I was going to kill you, I would have back there in that cave. But I didn’t”

In Matthew 18:15 Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

But most of the time instead of confronting our fears, we go to everyone else instead and we let everyone else know what a low life the other person is, and the nerve the person must have to do what they did.

You know we’ve been saying that Jesus life and ministry mirrors David’s in a lot of ways. And Jesus was a hero. He was sinless, completely pure and totally innocent of the lies people told about him. And yet when he was insulted, beaten, abused and put to death he never retaliated. He once taught that if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And we know from Peter that what Jesus taught is exactly how he lived.

1 Peter 2:21-23 says

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

What do you do with the person at work who manipulates situations to make themselves look good at your expense?  What do you do with the family member who has said some really hurtful and untrue things about you? How about the supposed friend who borrowed money from you, promised to pay you back, but you haven’t seen a dime of it?  Or the person who in their own anger has hit you and hurt you? How do you treat a spouse who walked out on you, leaving you alone to deal with the kids?  How do you respond to the parent who has verbally, emotionally, physically or even sexually abused you?

When someone hurts you or does something to you that you know is wrong, the natural feeling is to want to get even. Our human nature is crying out for retaliation and revenge.

So knowing how to deal with those feeling is crucial.

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The Arrogant King

1 Sam 23

v14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

This verse right here is the crux of the story. Saul says, “God has given David into my hands” and this verse, full of irony, says… “yea…. not so much.”

See Saul can say “God this” and “God that” all he wants but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that that God is not in habit of being controlled. Saul seems to think he has God under his thumb and then somehow David and his men just seem to always escape.

In these chapters David is on the run and he’s evading capture and the crazy thing is this all takes place in southern part of Israel. It’s not that big of a place, there’s only so many places a guy can hide – but remember it’s not just David, it’s David and his army of hundreds.

And the text clearly shows you who God is with? The arrogant King? or the humble Hero? The lesson from this should be examining our own approach to God.

As God’s children we should spend more time asking what God’s will is, rather than telling others what God’s will is. We should spend more time listening to God, than speaking for him. God is God – he doesn’t need us to speak for him.

We should develop a healthy skepticism towards people who play the God-card to justify their sinful behavior or who try to manipulate you into joining them. If you should find yourself in a conversation where someone is playing the God-card I would recommend a quiet exit.

Remember Saul is using God’s name to justify his sinful behavior and it is to that end that the author is warning us, “Don’t go there.” Be a person who rather – inquires of God. The act of asking lacks pride and dogmaticism. Asking says, “maybe I didn’t hear it right. Maybe I have it wrong.” Folks we need to pepper our conversations with phrases like “it seems to me” or “I think” when involving God. It gives people room to maneuver and for us to be wrong and keeps us from dragging God’s name through our mess.

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David The Hero

1 Samuel 23 – David the Hero

v1-7

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.”

Imagine David just trying to get his head around what was going on with his life. He has 400 men join him and soon to be 200 more with their families who are looking to him to be their king. You want to talk about an organizational and administrative nightmare. Who was going to feed and protect, and provide care for all these people?

Meanwhile they are all living in fear from the real King, Saul; and then a messenger bursts in saying “Help! Help! We’re under attack!”

Keilah was in the lower parts of Judah, so these were his people. David goes to God in prayer – God tells him to go and so David takes that message to his army. His army… not so excited about going. Why not? Well, they’re not a real army. The Philistines are a real army, they have weapons and training and David’s mighty men, aren’t so mighty at this point, so they’re a little afraid.

So what did David do? He went back to God in prayer. Not because he doubted God, but because he doubted himself. David loved his men, he took their concerns back to God and God reassured him that God would deliver them.

And notice, now the men go with him, which says a lot about their trust in David and that God was indeed talking to him.

v5 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.

The text says they won. It’s here that we see David acting as the hero and the true king of Israel. He’s protecting the borders and the people of Israel. And look, God was able to provide livestock (food) for David’s army. That was a nice blessing. And look at one more thing…

v6 When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand.

The writer adds one small detail; Abiathar brought the ephod with him. The ephod was a tool used by the High Priest. So we see David is surrounding himself with people and tools that align him to God. David is leading as a military hero and a patriot, but now with the ephod, with the backing of the priests, he is also leading as a spiritual leader as well.

EILAH  1 Samuel 23:v4-14

7 Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8 And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

This is sadly humorous, Saul finds out that David and his army are at Keilah and says “God has delivered David over to me.” Really? You? Saul? God told you that? The guy who just killed 85 priests? How does Saul have the audacity to know what God wants?

See if Saul could bring God on his side then he could justify mustering his entire army to kill David and no one could argue against him. The God-trump card is something that has been around for a long time.

We use God’s name to justify actions that God would never bless – and we do that to keep people from questioning us or to make ourselves feel better. It happens all the time.

v.9 David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.”12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

David got wind of Saul’s plan and was probably a little hurt – I mean, after all, how did Saul find out? Somebody told on him. David saves the town and now as his reward here comes the King to kill him, and someone else in town, ratted him out.

But David’s response couldn’t be more the opposite than that of Saul. Rather than saying “God wants us to do this or that”, David got his priest and the ephod and they spent some time in prayer.

David doesn’t presume to speak for God or to know what God wants just because He’s the leader – he’s a hero and so he admits he answers to a higher power and he goes to God.

But notice something important – God answers David. So while both Saul and David appear on the outside to be listening t God’s leading, we only have evidence that God is speaking to one of them

 

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The Man Cave

1 Samuel 22 v1

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.

So when David arrives at the cave he was an outlaw: an outlaw who has…

Lost his wife
Lost his friends
Lost his job
Lost the prestige and notoriety that went with that job
Lost his income
Lost his dreams
Lost his confidence

David was probably at an all time low and had a self worth of about zero

He was probably the farthest he ever could have imagined himself from what God had said would happen in his life. That he would one day be King… yea right.

David is homeless and living in a cave, with two armies out to get him, Saul’s and the Philistines and on top of all of that he is struggling because others have had to bear the consequences of his actions.

A man cave usually has a pool table or a pinball machine, it’s usually a room or other part of the home that’s used as a refuge for the men to retreat to. Man caves are full of creature comforts.

But….. caves are where people find themselves when all of their life comforts, all of the things they relied on, all of their dreams, are taken away! Caves are where people find themselves when they had thought to do great things, to have a wonderful family, only to realize that things simply were not going to work out as planned. Caves are where you go to when all is lost… when all you want to do is hide… when you’ve given up.

Have you ever been in a cave before, maybe you’re in one right now. But God can use the cave to be a turning point and that’s just what happens with David – look at what happens next in v2

1 Samuel 22v2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

God made David a reject so that he could be accepted as the leader of an army of rejects. David was once the commander of an elite force, now he was the commander of misfits.

Why? Because David’s misfortunes he earned him credibility, and now he had an ability to speak into the lives of others who were going through similar things. He wasn’t some high and mighty King who lived in a palace and could no longer identify with his people – David was a man’s man – he had dirt under his fingernails and he wasn’t afraid to let his bruises and his dirt show.

The truth is – misfortune will cause you to meet misfits in your life, and then you will find that their are a great many of them who are perhaps just like you. Outlaws wh could be heroes if only someone would pour into them, take them under their wing and see something in them that others had forgotten

People were drawn to David because they saw a guy who didn’t lose his faith when he had every reason in the world to do so. They saw a faith that came alive in trouble, not one that disappeared in hardship.

They came to him because they saw in him a man whose convictions didn’t fluctuate with the weather.

They came for acceptance
For inspiration
To follow a genuine leadership

This same group became known in the Bible as “David’s Mighty Men” – they became soldiers of valor, merry men, patriots, heroes and their stories in the Bible have become the tales of legend.

Their lives changed as David’s life changed – all because they found a guy who loved God, even during the worst time in his life.

 

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