April 20, 2015

II Samuel 9-10
One day David asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family? If so, I’d like to show him some kindness in honor of Jonathan.”  It happened that a servant from Saul’s household named Ziba was there... Ziba told the king, “Yes, there is Jonathan’s son, lame in both feet.”...King David didn’t lose a minute. He sent and got him from the home of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.  When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan (who was the son of Saul), came before David, he bowed deeply, abasing himself, honoring David.  David spoke his name: “Mephibosheth....Don’t be frightened,” said David. “I’d like to do something special for you in memory of your father Jonathan.  To begin with, I’m returning to you all the properties of your grandfather Saul. Furthermore, from now on you’ll take all your meals at my table.”  Shuffling and stammering, not looking him in the eye, Mephibosheth said, “Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?”...
And Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the royal family. Mephibosheth also had a small son named Mica. All who were part of Ziba’s household were now the servants of Mephibosheth.

Sometime after this, the king of the Ammonites died and Hanun, his son, succeeded him as king. David said, “I’d like to show some kindness to Hanun, the son of Nahash—treat him as well and as kindly as his father treated me.” So David sent Hanun condolences regarding his father.  But when David’s servants got to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite leaders warned Hanun, their head delegate, “Do you for a minute suppose that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters? Don’t you think it’s because he wants to snoop around the city and size it up that David has sent his emissaries to you?”

So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved off half their beards, cut off their robes halfway up their buttocks, and sent them packing.  When all this was reported to David, he sent someone to meet them, for they were seriously humiliated. The king told them, “Stay in Jericho until your beards grow out. Only then come back.”...

The Ammonites marched out and arranged themselves in battle formation at the city gate. The Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maacah took up a position out in the open fields. When Joab saw that he had two fronts to fight, before and behind, he took his pick of the best of Israel and deployed them to confront the Arameans. The rest of the army he put under the command of Abishai, his brother, and deployed them to confront the Ammonites. Then he said, “If the Arameans are too much for me, you help me. And if the Ammonites prove too much for you, I’ll come and help you. Courage! We’ll fight with might and main for our people and for the cities of our God. And God will do whatever he sees needs to be done”

But when Joab and his soldiers moved in to fight the Arameans, they ran off in full retreat. Then the Ammonites, seeing the Arameans run for dear life, took to their heels from Abishai and went into the city....  When the Arameans saw how badly they’d been beaten by Israel, they picked up the pieces and regrouped.... So David mustered Israel, crossed the Jordan, and came to Helam. The Arameans went into battle formation, ready for David, and the fight was on. But the Arameans again scattered before Israel.... When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace and became Israel’s vassals. The Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites ever again.

I Corinthians 9 - And don’t tell me that I have no authority to write this.  I am perfectly free to do this....even if no one else admits the authority of my commission, you can’t deny it.  Why my work with you is living proof of my authority.  I’m not shy in standing up to my critics...

You don’t seem to have raised questions with the other apostles and our Master’s brothers and Peter in these matters.  So why me?...I’m not just sounding off because I’m irritated....So if we have planted spiritual seed among you, is it out of line to expect a meal or two from you?  Others demand plenty from you in these ways.  Don’t we who have never demanded deserve even more?  But we are not going to start demanding now what we’ve always had a perfect right to.  

One decision all along has been to put up with anything rather than to get in the way or detract from the Message of Christ....Along these lines, the Master directed that those who spread the Message be supported by those who believe the Message....

If I proclaim the Message, it’s not to get something out of it for myself.  I’m compelled to do it, and doomed if I don’t.  If this was my own idea of just another way to make a living, I’d expect some pay.  But since it’s not my idea, but something solemnly entrusted to me, why would I expect to get paid?   So am I getting anything out of it?  Yes, as a matter-of-fact: the pleasure of proclaiming the Message at no cost to you.  you don’t even have to pay my expenses.  

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people - religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized---whoever.  I didn’t take on their way of life.  I kept my bearings in Christ -- but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.  I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God’s saved life....

All good athletes train hard.  They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades.  You’re after one that’s gold eternally.  I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line.  I’m giving it everything I’ve got.  No sloppy living for me!  I’m staying alert and in top condition.  I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.