Portrait of Grace

He gave to his enemies.

Saul was after David. He felt threatened by David, but Saul is eventually mortally wounded. David becomes king. He establishes his kingdom, and gives us a striking picture of salvation by grace and true friendship.

Meet Mephibosheth. We do not know much about him. He was the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul. This would have put him in line for the throne, so when Saul was killed, Mephibosheth’s family feared for his safety.

In those days, one of the first acts of a new king was to eliminate any threat from the previous king’s family, so Saul’s family was obviously in a hurry to hide.

2 Samuel 4:4 records, “Saul’s son Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth, who was crippled as a child. He was 5-years-old when the report came from Jezrell that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle. When the child’s nurse heard the news, she picked him up and fled, but as she hurried away, she dropped him and he became crippled.”

David did not have any plans to follow tradition of killing the previous king’s family; however, Saul’s family had no way of knowing David’s plans. They hurried, dropping the boy and causing permanent damage to his feet.

For nearly two decades, Mephibosheth lived in a distant land. He was afraid of David, and he was unable to help himself. That is, until grace entered the picture.

David remembered his promise to Jonathan, and fulfilled it through Mephibosheth. David invited Mephibosheth to eat at the king’s table; this was a great honor. David gave Mephibosheth servants and land. In short, David took care of Mephibosheth’s needs.

Sound familiar?

Like Mephibosheth

There are some paralleles between Mephibosheth’s story and our story. We too had needs which were unmet, and we were unable to help ourselves. God, in his grace through Christ, invited us to his table. He offered us salvation to meet our needs.

Romans 5:6 says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”

Like David

In many ways, we are also like David. During the course of our lives, we will come into contact with people who have needs. The Lord may use us to meet those needs. When we are tasked with meeting those needs, may we respond with the same grace we have been shown.

 

Remaining Confident

A shaken life of a confident person.

David spent much of his life running and hiding. As a young man, David had to hide from Saul. Saul was jealous of David’s popularity, so he wanted to kill David. As an older gentleman, David had to run from a rebellion started by his own son. David’s Scriptural biography is filled with turmoil and heartbreak.

On one occasion, David writes in the Psalms, everything is shaken. Nothing is stable. He writes in Psalm 11:3, “The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”

Perhaps you can relate to this feeling.

Everything is up in the air. Life is shaken. Your life has endured an earthquake leaving everything trembling in its path.

The career you worked hard to establish has vanished. The good health you once enjoyed is fading. Your journey is not what it once was.

David’s wasn’t either, and his Scriptural biography is filled with confidence in the Lord.

Amid everything, David had great confidence in the Lord.

It may have seemed like everything was falling apart, but David remained confident in the Lord.

He continues in Psalm 11, “But the Lord is in his holy temple. The Lord still rules from Heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.”

In Psalm 12, David writes, “The Lord replies, ‘I have seen violence done to the helpless and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them as they have longed for me to do.’ The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed….”

Can we remain confident in the Lord?

As it seems everything is falling apart around us, we too can remain confident in the Lord’s promises. The promises are as pure for us as they were for David.

 

Enabling Grace

David was reminded of God’s grace.

David was in a season of turmoil. His family was a mess; there were many reasons for the messiness, and one of David’s advisors wanted to help him clean it up. He drafted a woman to tell David a parable.

The parable consisted of a widow with two sons. One son murdered the other, and the community shouted for the murderer’s head. If he was convicted, the widow would have no hope of continuing her family line. She pleads for mercy from the king.

David compassionately says she should receive mercy. Then, the woman applies the parable to David’s situation.

She points out David has a banished son needing reconciliation, and reminds David God himself makes plans to enable a banished person to be reconciled to the Lord. 2 Samuel 14:14 says, “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, but God does not just sweep life away. Instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”

Mistakes; they have been made. Regrets exist. The list of things we would not do or redo can be extensive, but God knows how to handle all of it.

God has devised a plan to restore us to the family.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his son into the world, not to judge the world but to save the world through him,” Jesus explains in John 3:16-17.

Jesus also says in John 10:10, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Jesus is the plan which enables man and God to reconcile.

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The Power of Encouragement

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you,” said William Arthur Ward.

Offering encouragement is one of the most powerful ways we can help our friends and neighbors. Everyone needs to be encouraged from time to time, and good friends will encourage one another.

David needed encouragement, and Jonathan encouraged him. Saul was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. Saul would learn of David’s location and chase him, so David was forced to run from one stronghold to the next. Day after day he had to hide in the wilderness. This would have been a discouraging season in David’s life.

1 Samuel 23:16 says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” Jonathan recognized a difficult season in David’s life and went to encourage him.

Our friends and neighbors may be going through a difficult season, so they need encouragement. We do not know how heavy of a load our neighbor may be carrying. Encouraging him or her may be one of the most powerful ways we can help.

The Bible suggests we encourage one another daily. We can encourage each other by celebrating victories, offering comfort in disappointment and heartache, and helping one another keep a strong faith.

Here are more ways to encourage one another.

Jonathan and David had a strong friendship in part because they encouraged one another.

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What is true friendship?

3 Characteristics of Genuine Friendship.

A man dialed the wrong number and heard an alarming answering machine message. “I am not available right now. After the beep, leave a message, and I will call you back. I’m making some changes in my life now, so if I don’t call you back, you are one of those changes.”

True friendship is a treasure. We associate with many people, but how many of those people are genuine friends? The Bible gives us a glimpse of real friendship in David and Jonathan’s relationship.

Jonathan was a true friend to David. He possessed the characteristics of a true friend.

1. Jonathan was devoted to David.

Some time after David battled Goliath, Jonathan and David developed an intimate friendship which lasted the test of time. The friends were devoted to one another.

Jonathan did not run away from David when Saul started chasing him. As Saul was chasing him, David’s life experienced an adverse season, and Jonathan remained his friend. Jonathan’s devotion compelled him to remain a friend to David.

Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Genuine friendship is built on devotion, hanging in there during good and bad times.

2. Jonathan was willing to sacrifice to help David.

The tension between Saul and David lasted until Saul’s death. Jonathan was willing to make some sacrifices during this time. He risked creating tension between himself and his father, and he stepped aside so David could take the throne of Israel.

In 1 Samuel 23:17, Jonathan tells David, “Do not be afraid, my father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” Jonathan willingly gave up his right to the throne for David.

Jonathan was able to see the big picture. He realized David’s potential and sacrificed to help him. True friends sacrifice for one another. This may be helping carry a burden, offering financial assistance in a rough time, or helping navigate through difficult circumstances. Sacrifice is a mark of true friendship.

3. Jonathan encouraged David.

1 Samuel 23:16 says Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in God. Friends encourage one another.

Friends encourage one another to achieve goals and fulfill dreams. Christian friends also encourage each other to stay strong in their faith. They help in times of trouble and celebrate in times of victory.

Acting

Think of your friendships. Are there areas where you could be a better friend?

 

 

3 Keys from Psalm 16 for OverpoweringCircumstances

Here are 3 keys from Psalm 16 to help in the storms of life.

1. The Lord is a place of refuge during overwhelming times.

David’s life had its share of overwhelming situations. He faced down Goliath. He found himself being surrounded by his enemies and being chased through the wilderness. During these times, David found his refuge in the Lord.

David says in verse 1, “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.”

Life creates moments when we need the shelter of the Lord, and we can seek refuge from him. He will rescue us.

Psalm 17:7 says, “By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.”

When the pink slip arrives, the bank account hits negative numbers, and we’re not sure what tomorrow holds, the Lord shelters us. When the loved one leaves and we are heartbroken, we can enter the sanctuary of the Lord. Life’s storms will hit, but the Lord will keep us safe and give us refuge.

2. The Lord will guide us in overwhelming times.

David says in verses 7-8, “I will bless the Lord who guides me. Even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken for he is right beside me.”

The Lord will prompt our steps and guide our direction. He will help us navigate overwhelming situations. We need only to trust him.

Proverbs 3:5-7 advises, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to him and he will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and shun evil.”

The direction we go may seem strange, but we must remember the Lord will not lead us astray nor will he leave us. He will pilot us through the darkest of times.

3. Victory comes in the Lord.

At the end of all the struggles, David knew victory comes in the Lord.

He says in verses 10-11, “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Acting

The next time a storm comes in your life, apply these points and allow the Lord to go with you through the storm.

Please share this post with your friends who need encouragement.

 

Grace is Enough

man in the dark with his hand on his head

God said no. Three requests were made for God to remove a thorn from Paul’s flesh, but each was met with a no. “My grace is all you need,” the Lord told Paul. “My power works best in weakness.”

Are you struggling today?

Life is filled with struggles. Everyone struggles with something, and I don’t know of anyone who enjoys struggling. Our struggles are hard. They cause stress, overwhelming feelings, and anxiety. It seems struggle has a way to latch onto our weaknesses and pull with all its might. Struggle is real, and the Bible has some encouragement for us.

You and I may be struggling with several difficulties today. It could be a physical disability daily. You may be struggling financially. You are out of work, and you are having trouble finding a job. Our struggle may be watching a loved one make mistake after mistake. As we struggle, the Lord assures us, “My grace is all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

God’s grace is enough in our struggles.

Paul was no stranger to struggles. He had been imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten, and had to spend a day and night in the open sea. He shares his struggles with us, and in 2 Corinthians 12:7, he tells us he has a thorn in his flesh, but he does not reveal the source of the thorn.

There is much discussion surrounding the source of Paul’s thorn. Some scholars believe it was a visual impairment caused either by malaria or his conversion experience in Acts 9. Other scholars believe it was Paul’s past. The fact he could not forget his mistakes from the years gone by.

A better explanation is the source of Paul’s thorn was intentionally not disclosed. He knew everyone struggles with something, so Paul chose not to give us the detailed source of his thorn. One person may struggle with a physical disability, while another person struggles with a cognitive challenge. A third person may have difficulty forgetting his or her past. No matter the source of our struggle, the Bible’s encouragement to us is the same.

2 Corinthians 12 says Paul asked the Lord to take the thorn away, but God answered, “My grace is sufficient in your weaknesses.”

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“My grace is all you need,” the Lord says. Through his grace he strengthens us when we are weak. Through his grace he helps us with that physical disability or cognitive challenge present in life. Through his grace he wipes away yesterday’s mistakes and helps us not focus on them. His grace is all we need.

When you and I struggle, the Lord helps us through his grace. Because of the Lord’s grace, our struggles cannot prevent us from doing some amazing work.

Because of grace, our struggles can’t prevent us from doing some amazing work.

God’s grace enabled Paul to overcome barriers and do some amazing work. He authored several New Testament books, started many churches, and introduced countless people to the Lord’s grace.

God’s grace will enable you and I to overcome barriers and accomplish the purpose for which we have been called.

Acting

What is God calling you to do? Allow his grace to help you overcome struggles to accomplish your purpose.

 

 

Remember These 3 Keys When Overwhelmed

waves of water crashing into a rocky shore

Feeling overwhelmed? These 3 keys can help.

The situation seemed grim. There was no where to turn. The Israelites found themselves sandwiched between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. How could they possibly get out of this situation? They were overwhelmed, and the Bible uses this event to help us navigate overwhelming circumstances.

Overwhelmed? You are not alone. A study revealed 74% of respondents were overwhelmed to the point of not being able to cope. To go with these 3 suggestions to get through overwhelming circumstances, here are 3 keys to remember.

Moses offered these keys to Israel as they were leaving Egypt. God directed Moses to lead the people on a less traveled path out of Egypt, so they find themselves at the shore of the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot on their trail. The Israelites surveyed the situation and panicked.

“But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm,” states Exodus 14:13-14.

In his statement, Moses gives us 3 keys to remember in overwhelming circumstances.

1. Stay Calm

“Just stay calm,” Moses advises. Stay calm is a message we receive a lot. In emergency training, we are instructed to stay calm. Flight attendants tell us if something happens in flight to remain calm.

I don’t know about you, but I find this hard to do. Our natural reaction in overpowering events is to panic and run. We immediately jump to the worst-case scenario. We’re not going to make it. We’re not going to survive; there is no way this plane is capable of landing in this condition. But, remain calm is the advice we are given.

Captain Sully did. It should have been a peaceful Thursday afternoon flight from New York to Seattle, but less then 5 miles from the airport, the Airbus A320-214 struck a flock of Canadian geese causing dual engine failure. Captain Sully and his copilot, Jeffrey Skiles, remained calm and attempted to return to LaGuardia Airport. It became clear the plane could not make it back to the airport, so the decision was made to land in the Hudson River. The ditching was successful. The 155 souls aboard the flight were able to be rescued by nearby boats. Lives were spared and disaster was averted because of the calmness of Sullenberger and Skiles.

The pilots were in an overwhelming situation, but calmness helped them remember which switches to flip and levers to pull to successfully put the aircraft on the river. Staying calm in life’s storms allows you and me to think clearly; it allows us to respond to the situation rather than react to it. Rather than panic, we should stay calm and allow the Lord to take our hand.

2. Stand Where You Are

“Stand where you are,” Moses tells the Israelites. “Don’t try to run. Just stand where you are and let the Lord work.” This may be one of the hardest points to remember in an overwhelming situation. Our natural reaction is to panic and run; run away as fast as we can from whatever is overpowering us. You and I try to convince ourselves if we run away from the problem, it will leave us alone. Sometimes, this is a great battle strategy. We run from the problem and it disappears.

However, there are other times when running does not work. The situation puts us in the shoes of the Israelites. The Red Sea is in front, and the Egyptian army is behind. We have nowhere to go; no escape route to follow. This is the moment when we need to stand where we are and let the Lord work, and he will.

David stood where he was, and the Lord worked. David found himself standing on the battlefield with the Israelite army. They were overwhelmed by Goliath. Goliath was around 9-foot-tall, and he was a master soldier who had never been beaten. Israel’s fighting men believed Goliath would overpower them, so when he appeared on the battlefield, they would run in retreat. But David offered to stand and fight.

King Saul tried to talk David out of fighting. David could not be convinced. You see, David had been in some tough spots before and the Lord helped him, so David had faith the Lord would help him on this occasion.

“The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine,” David exclaimed in 1 Samuel 17:37.

David prepared to fight and went out to meet Goliath. The giant taunted David, “There is absolutely no way you will beat me!” It does not look good for David in this moment. Goliath is 9-foot-tall, wearing armor, and has someone carrying a shield in front of him. David, on the other hand, has no armor, no one is carrying a shield, and his only weapon is a sling shot and some rocks. Though it doesn’t look good for David, he knows the Lord will work.

David responded to Goliath’s taunting by telling him the battle was the Lord’s. David stood where he was, and the Lord worked. The Lord overpowered an overwhelming situation for David.

You may have no where to go or no escape route to follow right now. Remember, stand where you are and let the Lord work.

3. The Lord Will Guide You

The Lord guided Israel on the exodus from Egypt. He fought for them and when they were standing between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, the Lord guided them in a way no one could have imagined. The Lord divided the water so the people could walk through on dry ground. Amid overwhelming circumstances, Israel was guided by the Lord.

He will guide us in these times as well.

  • Psalm 48:14 says, “For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.”
  • Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”
  • “I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things. I will not forsake them,” the Lord says in Isaiah 42:16.

I think it is safe to say sometime in life you and I will be overwhelmed. When it happens, stay calm, stand where you are, and let the Lord guide you.

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you remember these keys when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Do you have another key for handling overwhelming circumstances? Please share in the comments.

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Can you help me?

Question mark on a black board

Can you help me? This was the plea of many people in the Bible. Jairus asked for help to heal his daughter. The beggar who was blind and sitting along the road asked for help. Lazarus’ family asked for help. Many people asked for help, and the Lord never chased them away. He helped them.

In teaching his disciples about prayer, Jesus reminds us it is okay to ask the Lord for help.

Luke 11:3-4 says, “Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.”

In other words, “Lord, can you help me?” We have permission to request help.

In an ever-changing, chaotic, imperfect world, we can ask the Lord for help.

When…

When our morning is off to a bad start, we’ve overslept, kids fighting, and waffles burning, we can ask the Lord for help. He will help us.

When we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work, we can ask the Lord for help. He will help us.

When we are forced to decide and every choice seems wrong, we can request the Lord’s help. He will help us.

When we become impatient or angry too quickly, we can put in a change request with the Lord. Our Heavenly Dad knows we are not perfect, and we still need to grow, so he is more than willing to help us.

1 John 3:2 says, “We are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears but we do know that we will be like him for we will see him as he really is.”

When we’re wrestling with guilt from yesterday’s mistakes, we can ask the Lord to take it away. He will help.

Psalm 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

When you and I are struggling just to make it through another day, we can call on the Lord, and he will help us.

When we have little issues or life-changing events, we can say, “Lord, can you help me?” He will help us.

The Lord helped David.

King David needed the Lord’s help in his life. We know David made many mistakes and spent much time dealing with adverse situations. He was not afraid to ask for help, and the Lord helped him.

David writes in Psalm 86:1-5, “Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer. Answer me for I need your help. Protect me for I am devoted to you. Save me for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”

We can ask our Dad for help. He will not be upset with us for needing help. He will compassionately and graciously help you and me.

Acting

Is there an area in life you could use the Lord’s help? Ask him to help you. Share your experience in the comments.

Have a friend who would find this post beneficial? Please share it with him or her.

Want an Additional Resource?

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado is a great resource on prayer.