Burning Bridges

Isn’t this how the Living Word is supposed to work? It cuts deep, it rightly divides soul and spirit, it gets down to my real attitude, my true thoughts and heart’s desires.

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭29:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“The entire Philistine army now mobilized at Aphek, and the Israelites camped at the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers were leading out their troops in groups of hundreds and thousands, David and his men marched at the rear with King Achish. But the Philistine commanders demanded, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish told them, “This is David, the servant of King Saul of Israel. He’s been with me for years, and I’ve never found a single fault in him from the day he arrived until today.””

If you have been following the story, We find David in a pickle. The words of King Achish paint a picture of a loyal and faithful servant.

Wait – what?

Can you believe I’m using “loyal and faithful” as words to describe a man who not only left Israelite territory because he needed to put distance between himself and the one he was called to serve, but also has been spending the last years with their enemy the Philistines?

I say loyal and faithful because King Achish is sticking up for David when questioned regarding David’s involvement in this battle.

Achish uses these words to describe David, “the servant of King Saul of Israel”.

That could only mean that David and his men probably never bad mouthed or dishonored the crazed man they were forced to flee from.

Right there is a lesson to be learned.

How many of us burn bridges?

Well if I’m going to be completely honest, I’ve been known to demolish them. When I was done with someone, I was DONE!

I’ve used the reasoning that most people use, maybe even you yourself have used it.

“I’m never going to let them hurt me again!”

Or

“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!”

Yep, those are ones I’ve used. I’ve not only taken people off my Christmas card list, I’ve taken them off my prayer list.

I know,

…”and you call yourself a Christian!”

Hey, I know you have seen the bumper sticker that says, “Christians aren’t perfect just Forgiven!” I lived that as if it were my personal ethos.

I’ll wait for those that had to look that word up.

Don’t we have the dumbest ideas? It’s almost like a Christian get-out-of-jail-free card; act anyway you’d like to act and use forgiveness as an excuse. I’ve heard leaders of the church say this often, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” But there’s nothing Biblical about that; it’s not Scriptural!

If anyone had the right to cut someone off it was David; a man who was unjustly accused, unrighteously attacked, lied about, and slandered.

Men have murdered for less!

How could David suffer such humiliation and still act with honor and integrity?

And why do I act like I have the right to play the avenger? This part of the Scripture is really challenging me. I need to take a deep look into myself and find the root of pettiness and self-importance. I read this and ask…

”John, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!”

If David didn’t exercise his right, what gives you the right? It’s challenging me to rethink how nasty I’ve really been. How very much UNLIKE Christ I have on occasion acted. I’m deeply embarrassed and repentant right now.

But isn’t this how the Living Word is supposed to work? It cuts deep, it rightly divides soul and spirit, it gets down to my real attitude, my true thoughts and heart’s desires.

When I first read this chapter, I didn’t think that there was much to talk about. The next chapter gets really good. Things are about to pop. But for some reason this portion really struck a chord in me. It could have been so easy to gloss over it, to comment on some other part, but God really wanted to reveal something in me.

To me.

John, when you exercise your rights, you damage people unnecessarily.

Now I’m not being insensitive to people that have suffered violent and criminal acts against them. By no means! Criminals need to be punished. That’s NOT what I’m talking about. I’m talking about PRIDE and FEELINGS, I’m talking about petty rivalries and shame. I’m talking about things I ask God to forgive me for that I want Him to punish others for.

Not too many of my enemies would ever come to my defense. I’ve built walls after I burned bridges and I’m convicted by this verse.

Oh that my foes could describe me in such a fashion.

“This is John, servant of the Living God, and I have found no fault in him from the day that he arrived until today.”

Father God,

This one wasn’t easy! Forgive me for my petty, selfish behavior. Enable me to mend relationships that I have destroyed in my self-righteous indignation. I pray that these few words will also stir the reader to do a “system check” in their lives and relationships. Jesus, you were the only one who ever had a right, but still didn’t exercise it. Help us to be more like you. And may those that really KNOW me, recognize a real change in me from this day forward. Amen.

Love y’all

-Keep Pressing

soulKANDY

‘fran(t)ik

Friend, perhaps you have been crossing lines you shouldn’t cross, venturing just far enough to always come back when in a pinch. Eventually there will come a time when you too will call out and it will be eternally too late.

’fran (t) ik

1 Samuel 28:4-5 NLT

“The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear.”

The stage is set for all out war, once again these familiar enemies encamp against each other; King Achish and the Philistines on one side and King Saul and Israel on the other.

But something is different, something changed. There is a sense of confidence on the Philistine front that wasn’t there since Goliath, the champion from Gath, had hurled insults towards the Armies of God for 40 days and nights so long ago. There was a palatable air of sureness coming from the other side that Saul hadn’t felt in years. A slow tremor begins to run from Saul’s fingertips all the way up his arm. His voice is shaking, as well as his heart. He is stricken in fear. Fear has overtaken him. He wonders if his trusted advisors can tell… surely they can see that this once confident man who stood head and shoulders over Israel was reduced to a frantic mess. Saul was in deep trouble.

Are you wondering what happened? What has changed in one chapter? One minute King Saul is chasing David all over the territory with 3000 of Israel’s Special Forces, and the next minute King Saul is frantic with fear!

Here is what I see…

1. David took himself out of the equation.

Proverbs 26:20 says, where there is no wood the fire goes out.

With David out of the picture, Saul now has to deal with the fact that he has been neglecting his duty as King and leader of God’s people/nation.

Who knows, perhaps with all his focus and attention on killing David, other areas were not being taken care of. He was hell-bent on one thing alone and that was David.

But David in the last chapter removed himself from Israelite territory, and Saul mistakenly took David’s absence as a sense of security.

Ask yourself… In what area(s) do I need to remove myself from the equation?

To what person or group of people is my presence a fuel to the fire?

How does my absence affect the outcome?

2. The Prophet Samuel died.

The spiritual leader is dead, and the one who could sooth Saul (David) is nowhere to be found.

King Saul has come to the harsh realization that God has also removed himself from him.

Now he is truly alone!

Imagine calling out to God and hearing NOTHING! Not a comforting whisper that says, “Son, I’m right here.” Not even the reassuring feeling of your conscience that lets you know, “you got this!”…nothing! Absolute silence!

The silence is deafening to Saul! And he is scared out of his wits. He is frantic with fear. He either has never felt this alone in his life, or at the very least, has never felt so alone in a very long time.

Looking across the battlefield and seeing the enemy, has him in a panic.

Before, as long as David or Samuel or the prophets were around, they had the words that brought assurance and comfort.

Saul didn’t have much of a relationship with God, God was an afterthought since he knew how much God loved His people Israel and figured he could do as he pleased and God would swoop in and save the day.

But there comes a time when even God says… ENOUGH!!!

Friend, perhaps you have been crossing lines you shouldn’t cross, venturing just far enough to always come back when in a pinch. Eventually there will come a time when you too will call out and it will be eternally too late.

King Saul got to that point in his life.

1 Samuel 28:6 says, “He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots or by the prophets.

And when God refuses to answer, he consults a witch to summon the spirit of Samuel and this is what that spirit says to him…

Verse 16 …the Lord has left you and has become your enemy. The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David.” NLT

Two things we can take away from this story.

A. There is a God timing to a God calling, and you are just going to have to wait like David sometimes. It most likely won’t be easy, but it is worth the wait so WAIT!

B. God is long suffering and abiding in love, but he doesn’t reward rebellion and pride. If that’s you, repent and humble yourself.

Father God,

I know, like Saul, I have been prideful and rebellious. I repent of that wickedness right now in the name of Jesus. Forgive me for the times I have done things my own way, when I have neglected godly counsel and common sense. Thank you for watching over me even when I have strayed from the path and crossed lines I shouldn’t have crossed. Enable me to listen to correction, heed your instructions, and press forward towards things that are righteous. I never want to be in a place in my life when you don’t respond to my cries for help, because you have turned me over to my evil desires. Thank you for your Word, may it accomplish what you purpose for it to accomplish in my life. Father God, for the times when I’m like David, inpatient or frustrated, help me to develop a trust, and a confidence knowing that your calling and anointing is sure. Enable me to learn to wait on your timing and not to force my agenda and plan. Help me to remove myself from people, places and programs that are not part of your plan and purpose for my life. Amen

Love ya!

-soulKANDY

Enough is Enough

How do we even begin to wrestle with the fact that our definition and God’s definition of sanctification and separation are two very different things?

1 Samuel 27:1-3 NLT

“But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.” So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath…”

It looks like David has finally had enough; he is tired of constantly being on the run and having to uproot his family every time King Saul got the itch to pursue him.

Everybody has their breaking point.

Everybody eventually will say, “Enough is enough!”

Everyone has their proverbial “end of the rope.”

David has called it quits. He escapes to Philistine territory again. (See Chapter 21) And once again he goes to Achish King of Gath.

How bad do things have to get to run to the enemy for peace? Isn’t that the most ridiculous thing ever?

Yet David isn’t welcome home in Israel.

But what about the “call?”

What about the “anointing?”

Is David being faithless by running away?

Or is he just…tired?

What would we do if we were in that predicament?

Would we have lasted any longer?

He gave it a valiant effort, he tried to do what he considered to be the righteous and godly thing by sparing Saul from a sure death, not once but twice, and yet somehow he is still considered a traitor and an outlaw.

Putting space between your enemy and assailant isn’t necessarily an act of cowardice. Sometimes you need to regroup and assess the situation. And sometimes you just need to REST.

Even Jesus had to get away from the crowd to rest and eat. Mark 6:31

The time that David and his men spent in Philistine territory proved to be fruitful, they amassed for themselves flocks, land and even had time to work on their families.

Being in enemy territory wasn’t safe by any means, but at least they weren’t running from a enemy that David didn’t allow them to fight against.

It is at this time that some of the men built reputations of being “mighty” men of renown. From their position in Philistine territory, they were able to go out on quick raids, virtually undetected. Then by leaving no survivors, there was no one who could point back to them as the culprits.

Survival sometimes is ruthless. Sometimes I read about these exploits and see that very little pity is shown to the enemy of Israel. I know they were godless, child sacrificing, heathen nations, but I guess we see war from a very U.N. perspective, or in my case through a set of American rose-colored glasses. A perspective where there are rules of engagement and a code of conduct and compassion.

But when you read the Scriptures, the Word of God was very clear about sanctification and separation. God knew even one survivor could corrupt a whole nation. There was no room for compromise.

Jesus himself lived with that kind of discipline. His cross to bear was ruthless. No compassion was shown towards Him; his punishment was executed by the world’s most expert terrorists in his day. There was no equal when it came to torture; the Roman soldier was the epitome of terror. Mercy and compassion were not extended. The cross was meant to be a visual warning and a deterrent to all those who had the unpleasant opportunity to have to walk along a rode where one was erected.

So how do we even begin to wrestle with the fact that our definition and God’s definition of sanctification and separation are two very different things?

David is fighting hard to live out his call and purpose, but it wasn’t until David put distance between himself and his destiny that God blesses and multiplied him.

Abraham put distance between him and his nephew Lot and God multiplied him.

Joseph is sold into slavery, far from anything familiar, and God blesses him and multiplies him.

Naomi and Ruth leave Moab…

Jesus leaves heaven…

Perhaps we need to be stretched to leave the familiar. Perhaps we need to place some distance between ourselves and some people who are hindering our enlargement?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not developing some kind of doctrine, I’m just making an observation. Perhaps there are some habits, hobbies and homeboys/girls in your life that you need to be separated from. Some ties you need to destroy, or some entanglement you need to let go of.

I pray that you get to the heart of the issue, and deal with it in order to make room for the God-sized dream and anointing on your life.

Keep pressing!

-John