Devotional 98: When the Lord Confirms

1 Kings 1:5-10

Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. (And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?” He was also very good-looking. His mother had borne him after Absalom.) Then he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they followed and helped Adonijah. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah.

And Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fattened cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En Rogel; he also invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants. 10 But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, or Solomon his brother.

The reason Adonijah’s bid failed was because he exalted himself, and we already know what our Lord has to say about that: (Matthew 23)

11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Adonijah was an opportunist, taking advantage of David’s weakness in age and his penchant for not disciplining his sons. It wasn’t the first time, for Absalom had also taken a run at the throne, so this was a spiritual stronghold for David in terms of being vulnerable, but it was G-d who’d secured David to the throne, not his men, and not the people, therefore he couldn’t be overthrown by earthly means, though many had tried.

David instinctively knew not to kill Saul, though he had every reason, and more than one chance to do so. But when the time came for Saul to be removed, G-d didn’t let David do it, but a prideful soldier who thought he was serving the crown by taking advantage of his opportunity.

Adonijah surrounded himself with other opportunists, and no one rebuked him or tried to stop him. The wrong people, also not confirmed by G-d, were at the feast, but now comes the contrast. David now had to act, and quickly, lest word of Adonijah’s coronation spread, and the people begin to drift toward him and get him in their minds as being the rightful king. G-d had not confirmed him, and neither had David.

Bathsheba’s timely warning came not a moment too soon: (1Kings 1)

20 And as for you, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.

David’s response was immediate, and the following ritual that rightly confirmed Solomon to the throne was done within the guidelines of the Lord’s decrees. David had learned from the Ark of the Covenant fiasco. (1 Kings 32-37)

32 And King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. 33 The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon. 34 There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.”

36 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too.37 As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”

And G-d used the city as an ampitheater to quickly end the false reign of the usurper:

40 And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.

At the feast of the false king, when Jonathan, the priest’s son, brought news of the official coronation, these men proved themselves no more loyal to Adonijah than they’d been to David.

49 So all the guests who were with Adonijah were afraid, and arose, and each one went his way.

How often have we gone before G-d, without waiting for confirmation, with presumption of His blessing, and yes, even with pride that we are the one called to fill the gap and come to the rescue, only to be humiliated, or hurt, when we find out we weren’t only not called, but are incapable of doing the job we thought we could do.

It’s all around us: “Live every day like it’s your last.” “Carpe diem.”  “Opportunity only knocks once.”

But Solomon himself wrote through the Holy Spirit:

11 I returned and saw under the sun that—

The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.

Time for what? Chances to do what?

To do the work G-d has called us to do, to use the gifts and talents He’s given us to His glory. If He has plans to give us a hope and a future, and instills us with gifts, and calls us out of the world, we need not get caught up in the world’s need for recognition. But it’s not in our timing, necessarily. The favor of man is not where our blessings come from, but the favor and calling of G-d.

And how many times has it happened, the manifestation and needs for our gifts, that it never came in the way, or among the people, we thought it would?

Peter tells us this: (2 Peter 1:10-11)

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In other words, Heaven and earth will split with the sounds of rejoicing over you, the rightful heir to the mantle of which G-d has called you.
Therefore I pray:
Father in Heaven, bring to mind this prayer from Your Word when I would seek to go before presumptuously and pridefully before You, not assured of Your blessing, not in Your security, and not in Your calling:
Proverbs 30:8-9 

Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

Help us, like David, to bide our time and do no harm as You anoint us, confirm us, and exalt us to where You need us to be, securing our position, opening doors no one can shut, and shutting those no one can open.

Let us keep before us in our hearts and minds that we will triumph over our enemies, no weapons formed against us will prosper, and let it be that our light so shines, those who mean us harm will glorify You.

Prepare our hearts that our exalted place may be out of the sight of people, but as we are skilled in our work, we will not remain in obscurity.  But if we do, that too, is for Your glory, and You see us, and our reward will be no less without earthly praise.

It is a humanly impossible task in this imperfect world where pride, standing out, being unique, is a daily command to our flesh. Remind us when these temptations come that with You, Father, as Your Son has told us, all things are possible.

I ask it in the Name of Jesus, believing I’ve received.

May it be to us You have said.

Amen.

Devotional 84: A Manner of Spirit

Luke 9:51-56

A Samaritan Village Rejects the Savior

51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And they went to another village.

It happens most days, doesn’t it?

The slights, insults, dirty looks, unkindness, rudeness and disrespect as society deflates in the absence of G-d increases in frequency and intensity every time we look at the media, or even step outside.

Dave Barry the humor columnist once wrote an article on how playing the Mario Bros. video game was a lot like life: you’re walking down the street on a sunny day minding your business, and hostile forces gather to randomly attack you.

But we know those forces aren’t random.

We are told to minister the Gospel, we are not told to pound it into the heads of those who reject it. They’ve heard, and those whose hearts are ready to receive will do so; it is up to Jesus to reveal the Father to them (Luke 10:22) 

It is then the job of the Holy Spirit to revel the Truth behind the Word.

As this Samaritan village rejected Him, we have the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus stayed with that village for two days. (John 4:39-42)

The question that was asked, however, was not about salvation, but annihilation. James and John didn’t just want the city burned, but consumed. The spirit in which it was asked was not in anger, or even in defense of Jesus, but a spirit of pride; there is no question they would have bragged of this deed for the rest of their lives.

Even more erroneously, they would have believed themselves to be in Elijah’s company as prophets.

We are now in an age of persecution from without, but we are also watching the love of many grow cold. Prophets give no dates, they just reveal events, and as the woman at the well perceived Jesus to be a prophet first, let us remember that He came to us in like manner to tell us to repent, for the days of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven is only through faith in Him.

I saw an article about people who  brought their guns to church to be blessed: they so desperately want to hold on to their man-made traditions, they will co-opt G-d’s name to sign off on things that have nothing to do with His will for us.

And if you drive a car at all, there are days you’ve wanted to call down fire. Just remember, there are those who would call down fire on you. What manner of spirit is that? Yours is holy, and theirs isn’t? We are not told what Jesus said to them in rebuke, but Jesus never dealt with the surface of emotions, it was always the heart.

It’s okay (Well, it isn’t, but it’s done).  We’ve all felt it, and Jesus Himself told the Pharisees as they mocked Him on the cross that He could call down legions of angels to deliver Him and slaughter the enemies of G-d right then and there. But he’d already had His test by Satan, and He passed, delivered at the moment of His greatest vulnerability outside the Garden of Gethsemane, when the angels came to minister and restore Him.

As for the rest, they now await His command, and there will be no sparing. As He is the only one worthy to open the Book, to read the scroll, to judge the nations, to forgive sins on earth, and to lead the angels of harvest, so too, let us leave the calling down of G-d’s divine justice to Him.  He has done all things well, according to the Father’s will.

Well did King David ask: “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) regarding the only thing he did wrong in G-d’s sight. (1 Kings 15:5)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

I thank You for covenant of grace, for ministering to me in the year of the Lord G-d’s favor. I thank You for revealing the Truth of Your work, the Truth of G-d’s Word, and sealing me with the power of the Holy Spirit.

I thank You also, that even under that covenant, we are not given free reign to do as we please, for we would do that which does not please You. Our bodies are not our own, and our wills are subject to Yours if we would see this through to the end. Indeed, our very souls are subject to Your unerring judgment, according to that which we’ve done and said to Your glory.

We forget, for our flesh is easily led astray by a powerful enemy.  Sometimes we forget that he’s defeated. Sometimes we forget he has no power save that which we give him. And sometimes he’s asked You to sift us, and You’ve allowed it, only to bring us back to You, as Job in his righteousness was still able to grow in his understanding of the Father.

As we subject our spirits to the desires of our flesh, we sometimes use Your name to justify our rebellion, and impose our own beliefs over the Word’s truth. 

Lord, You’ve called us friends, and in the Word it says wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses;  You always tell Your disciples, “Assuredly, I tell you the truth…”

Continue to check our spirits, Lord; renew them for Your service, and to Your glory, that those who see us may glorify our Father in heaven.

May it be done to us as You have said.

Amen.