The Well From Which You Drink

In John 4, Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. I’d encourage you to read through John 4 and meditate upon it. Jesus has a great discussion with her about living water. It started with a discussion about physical water, but led to living water. The woman begged for this living water! And then for some reason, Jesus brings up her marital situation.

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
(John 4:10-19)

From what well had the Samaritan woman been drinking? I’m not talking about Jacob’s well. I’m talking about the relationship well. She had drawn from that well over and over (maybe for no fault of her own), but it had left her dehydrated. Those relationships hadn’t quenched any thirst at all, they had only left her empty and begging to be filled.

We drink things today that make us dehydrated. Pop. Coffee. Alcohol. Our well here at our house is really salty, we can’t drink from it; we had to buy a reverse osmosis system to deal with it. I’m sure you understand that you can drink things that leave you worse than before. Nothing really replaces good water, and nothing really replaces the living water Jesus offers.

Are you thirsty? Dehydrated? Have you become empty because you are drinking from the wrong well? Then Jesus is offering you living water!

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
(Isaiah 55:1-2)

God’s Anger in the Psalms, My Anger in the Proverbs

Today’s MDB is a follow-up of yesterday’s article about fierce anger. My friend, Geoff, sent me a great note reflecting on the “why” of anger, meaning “why am I angry?” He also pointed out that when Jesus was angry, it was mainly because of how others were being hurt, not how He himself was being hurt. At the same time, I was listening to a sermon where the speaker was saying pretty much the same thing about Jesus’ anger. So we are going to dive deeper into the anger of God.

God’s Anger in the Psalms, My Anger in the Proverbs

In preparation for this, I started searching the word “anger” and started looking through the references. It was interesting that in the Psalms, a large majority of the references were in connection to God and His anger. The same search in the book of Proverbs revealed that most of the instances of the word “anger” is connected to man and his anger.

It’s as if God wants us to reflect on His anger first, and then consider our own anger in comparison.

God’s anger in the Psalms

  • Psalms 6:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
  • Psalm 30:5For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
  • Psalm 77:9 – Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah. (The answer to that is in the Psalm, no…God has not forgotten to be gracious, and no He did not shut up His compassion in the midst of his anger.)
  • Psalm 78:38Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. (You can see in Psalm 78 that God was rightly angry for their sins, see verses 21,31,49,50,58. However all of that “anger” of God was couched in atonement, restraint and compassion).
  • Psalm 85:3 – You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
  • Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
  • Psalm 103:8-14The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
  • Psalms 106:37-40 – They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;

So, what have we observed about God’s anger? Here are some things I saw, and I know you all will see others.

  • God’s anger is for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Man’s anger is for a lifetime, while our favor is for a moment.
  • God is slow to anger. Man has a hair trigger for his anger.
  • God knows we are but dust. We with our anger blast other people into dust.
  • God’s anger is often focused on how others are treated. Our anger is often focused on how we are treated.
  • In God’s anger, he was compassionate, and did the atoning for our sin. He often restrained His anger/wrath, and refused to keep stirring it up. How about us? Are we seeking for others’ sins to be covered? Do we put a seat belt on our anger, or do we let it loose? Do we keep a “anger spoon” in our hands at all times, stirring the pot of our anger?
  • God does not deal with us according to our sins. He punished us far less than our iniquity deserved. We, on the other hand, are like James and John who want to bring fire down from heaven on the person who cuts in front of us in traffic.

There’s a lot more to consider on this. We’ll continue on Monday, Lord willing, and consider our anger as taught in the Proverbs.

Remember that the “wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20).

David’s Friends

After David killed Goliath, the people praised David, and his popularity soared even higher than the king himself, King Saul. Of course, King Saul didn’t take this too well, and was filled with paranoia, jealousy and rage. He made it his life’s work to eliminate David, because he was a threat to his power and popularity. So for most of the second half of 1 Samuel, David is on the run for his life. This was a time of great uncertainty and pain for David.

I want you to think about the position King Saul is putting others in because of his jealousy and lust for control! He is alienating himself from his family and from the best people in his land (Jonathan, Michal, Samuel, David, etc.). Our jealousy, fear, paranoia, desire to control and rage will drive great wedges between ourselves and the very people who can help us the most!

In Chapter 19 of 1 Samuel, we see at least four individuals who were true friends to David. There’s a country song that says, “You find out who your friends are.” That was especially true for David. But what does it mean to be a friend? At a practical level how did the following people show themselves to be a friend to David?

Jonathan spoke well of David.

1 Samuel 19:4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.

It’s easy to speak well of someone when you have a friendly audience. This wasn’t easy for Jonathan. Read verse 1 of chapter 19. ” And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David.” Jonathan had just received a direct order from his dad and king to kill David. Not very easy at this point to say something nice about David, is it? But Jonathan stood up to his dad and stood up for David and defended him. Jonathan reminded his father of the good that David had done and did not accept Saul’s premise that David was guilty and needed to die. It actually worked in chapter 19, King Saul listened to Jonathan. The next time this happens in chapter 20, Saul tries to kill Jonathan, his own son!

What about you and me? How do we respond when someone is talking bad about people? Do we stand up for those being gossiped about, or are we intimidated by the person who is gossiping to us? Do we consider that there are usually two sides to a story? “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

David had a friend in Jonathan because Jonathan risked his life and his relationship with his father in order to speak well of David.

Michal protected David.

1 Samuel 19:12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped.

Michal was one of the daughters of King Saul. When David killed Goliath, one of the rewards was being able to marry the king’s daughter. King Saul wasn’t faithful in keeping that promise and gave his first daughter (Merab) away to another man. Then King Saul added another condition for David to meet before he could marry the next daughter, Michal. You see, King Saul noticed that Michal loved David, and was going to use her as a pawn to get David killed. David was required to go out and kill 100 Philistines and bring back evidence from their bodies that they were dead. So, David brought back twice the evidence! He killed 200 Philistines (1 Samuel 18:20-27)! Saul could not refuse him now, he gave Michal to David.

But look what happens next. Is Saul happy that Michal and David love each other? No. It drives him mad! He can’t handle that his own daughter is in love with the man he hates! Michal’s love can’t be controlled by him, so he is having a fit.

1 Samuel 18:28-30 But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually. Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.

In chapter 19, we see Saul again going mad with jealousy, a lust for control and paranoia. His rage got the better of him and he tried to once again kill David with the spear. David escaped, so Saul sent people to David and Michal’s house to kill David. Michal is put into a position where she has to defy her father and protect David. She helps her husband escape out a window and puts a decoy in the bed!

Michal was a friend to David because she chose to stand up for her husband and protect him.

Samuel listened to David.

1 Samuel 19:18 Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth.

Remember Samuel? He’s the old prophet and judge that Israel cast to the side because they wanted a king. We haven’t heard much from Samuel since he anointed David in chapter 16. But apparently he’s still around, and when David needed to get away, Samuel is first on his mind. Samuel may have been put out to pasture by Israel, but he was still useful for God’s purpose!

Samuel provided a refuge for David. He gave David a listening ear. Samuel had his own run-ins with King Saul, didn’t he (1 Samuel 13,15)? David had a friend in Samuel because Samuel gave him a safe place.

A few questions here are appropriate. Who is that Samuel for you? When things are getting all turned upside down, who is the Samuel in your life who gives you a safe place and a listening ear? Also, are you a Samuel for others? Do people feel safe coming to you for refuge and a listening ear?

All three of these friends (Jonathan, Michal and Samuel) put themselves at risk because they stood up for David instead of turning him into King Saul.

God put a miraculous shield around David.

1 Samuel 19:20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.

God saw what King Saul was doing. The Holy Spirit saw those men coming to arrest David, and he miraculously forced them to prophesy. The only words these men could say were God’s words. This happened two more times, and then King Saul himself came, and Holy Spirit forced Saul to prophesy. There was a Holy Spirit bubble around David. Like the Psalms, “He allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” (Psalms 105:14-15).

Bad things would still happen to David, but we can see that God was there working for David to shelter him. God was the best friend to David.

Even later on when David had no friends, he always had God.

1 Samuel 30:6 – And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

My mom would say to us that God is our best friend. I’ve forgotten that at times, but she was right. God was David’s best friend. David had some really good friends, but they could never be the great defender and protector that God is.

King David: A Real Man

I love King David.  He did so much in his life.  David can teach us many valuable lessons.  He’s also a great reminder about what it means to be a man.  There’s much confusion in our society about the role of men.  What can we learn from David?

    1. David loved the Lord.  That’s what real men will do.  Real men will submit to the true and living God.  David certainly did.  He had faith in God.  He had a relationship with the creator of all things.
    2. David wasn’t afraid to show his emotions.  People today think that a man is a wimp if he shows emotions.  I say that’s silly.  Jesus wept.  David wept.  Read the book of Genesis and see how many times Joseph cried.  Real men have no problem showing their emotions.  David poured his heart out to God, Psalm 32, Psalm 9.
    3. David was a leader.  He solved problems (like defeating Goliath).  He took action when it was needed.  It takes courage to take action.  That’s what we must do.
    4. David was skilled at many things.  He was a musician, a king, a warrior, and tended to the animals.  As men, we need to have a variety of skills.  We need to be knowledgeable when it comes to how things work.
    5. David was not perfect.  However, he was able to own up to his mistakes.  Many (including myself) think about his adultery, his poor decision of numbering the people, and a list of other sins we could mention.  Yet we often miss the fact that David repented of his sinful behavior, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.  That takes courage.
    6. David was a great friend to Jonathan.  Their relationship would make men today uncomfortable.  They loved one another, 1 Samuel 18:1.  Shame on people who try to change their close friendship and make it some sexual type of relationship.  As men, we need to learn how to be close to one another.
    7. David was a student of God’s word.  He had to make a copy of the Law for himself, Deuteronomy 17:18-20.  He spent time regularly in God’s word.

David was a MAN.  Both young and vintage men need to be reminded of him and learn from him.  Let’s be MEN.

Friend, Do What You Came to Do

Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
(Matthew 26:50)

but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
(Luke 22:48)

Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
(Psalm 41:9)

For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.
(Psalm 55:12-14)

“Friend, do what you came to do.” That’s what Jesus told Judas.

It was “determined” what Judas would do. Jesus knew from the beginning of the world that Judas would betray Him. Several prophecies came through David as to the betrayal of Jesus through Judas. It was no surprise to the Lord that Judas had sold him out. This is not to say that Judas didn’t have a choice in the matter, though. Jesus said it would have been better for Judas if he never was born. Although God knew beforehand what Judas would do, ultimately it was Judas’ choice to give in to his desires and carry out his betrayal of Jesus. Judas rolled out the red carpet for Satan, and Satan walked through the door.

Jesus didn’t stop Judas. All that being said, Jesus told Judas to do what he came to do (see also John 13:27). Jesus didn’t stop Judas from being a two-faced backstabber, did he? If Judas wanted to come up and kiss Jesus on the face, and if Judas wanted to line his pockets with Jesus’ blood money, then Jesus would let him do it. Earlier when Judas was going around seeking an “opportunity” to betray Jesus, Jesus didn’t chase him down and stop Judas (Matthew 26:16; Mark 14:11; Luke 22:4-6).

Jesus won’t stop us, either, at least for now. If we come to Jesus with the wrong heart and motives, He will tell us to do what we came to do. When we worship Him and work for His church with ulterior motives, He will tell us to do what we came to do. Jesus is not going to force you and I to have honest hearts and pure motives. If we are seeking to betray Him with a kiss, then He will offer His cheek to us. But keep in mind how it turned out for Judas.

I don’t believe that Jesus had any less love for Judas than he did for Simon Peter. Both men did awful things to Jesus, but the same loving Lord wanted both of them to come home and repent. Judas could have repented and returned to Jesus. We know the heart of Jesus – He would have welcomed Judas with open arms.

“Friend, do what you came to do.”

Friendship

The relationship between David and Jonathan is one of the great friendships in the bible. I Samuel 20 provides some of the clearest insight into the nature and depth of their relationship. Verse 17 says, “Jonathon made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.”

In chapter 20, David fears for his life and is hiding from King Saul. Jonathan sets out to verify that Saul indeed wants to kill David and they establish a code so that David will know whether he needs to run or if he can return to the city. Jonathan goes out for target practice and tells the lad that the arrows are “beyond you” signaling to David that he needs to run and hide.

In order to truly appreciate the next scene, we have to consider David’s life to this point. He was the youngest brother, relegated to watching sheep. He was told he would be the next king of Israel but there was no clear timing to when this would take place. David had a mighty victory over Goliath and was propelled to national fame. He was brought into the King’s court, only to be looked at with suspicion and envy. King Saul jerked David around with marriage proposals, eventually giving him his daughter Michal, with one condition. David had to bring 100 foreskins of the Philistines, a plan designed to get him killed. Saul continued to try and kill David resulting in a nighttime escape, leaving his bride behind him. During all this it seems that David behaved honorably, trying to serve God and trying to serve the king.

This brings us to I Samuel 20 when Jonathan, David’s best friend, confirms that his father wants to kill David. Verse 41 says, “When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, but David the more.” The chapter ends with “Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city.” This scene breaks my heart.

As far as I can tell, the only other interaction we have between Jonathan and David is in chapter 23 when David is hiding in Horesh and Jonathan comes to him and says, “Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.” Tragically, Jonathan never has the opportunity to serve beside King David.

There are a lot of lessons we can learn from this friendship but what is on my heart is very simple. What is the significance of a best friend? Do you have a Jonathan or a David in your life? Are you actively pursuing this kind of a relationship? What barriers do we put up to prevent this kind of relationship?

Jess MacArthur

Jason Dukes

Aaron Kemple

I’m blessed to have three men in my life that are developing into Jonathan/David relationships. We have history, we have trust, we have love. They are not afraid to tell me when I’m messing up. They are not afraid to hold me accountable. They are always there to encourage me, strengthen me, and lift me up. And no matter how much time goes by between conversations, we pick right back up where we left off. What is the key to developing these relationships?

It is not a common love of football or movies. It is not similar career interests or family connections. In I Samuel 20 verse 42, Jonathan says to David, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.” The Lord is between us. We all share a love for the Lord and have an unspoken oath to help each other in His service. I thank God daily for putting these men in my life.

My encouragement for today is to embrace the relationships around us. We need to let our guard down and let people in. If you have a Jonathan/David, let them know how much you appreciate them. Be brave, reach out to someone and tell them you desire this kind of relationship. Life is hard, Satan is real, and God has designed us to work together.

For an extended study on David please listen to this excellent lesson from Andy Cantrell. He makes a different and powerful application.

https://www.lakeviewchurchofchrist.org/player/509

 

 

Beatitudes of Marriage

In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon first talks about the uselessness of selfish toil and then the vanity of it.  He then talks about the value of a friend in verses 9-12:

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?  12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; NKJV).

A threefold cord…like in our marriages…where there is husband, wife, and God.  If that describes our marriage, then we are truly blessed and secure.

With this in mind, read through this list I came across in my notes.  It is titled “Beatitudes for Marriage”.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who continue to be affectionate and considerate, loving after the wedding bells have ceased ringing.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who are as polite and courteous to one another as they are to their friends.

BLESSED are they who have a sense of humor, for this attribute will be a handy shock absorber.

BLESSED are they who love their mates more than any other person in the world and who joyfully fulfill their marriage vows of lifetime of fidelity and mutual helpfulness to one another.

BLESSED are they who attain parenthood, for children are a heritage of the Lord.

BLESSED are they who remember to thank God for their food before they partake of it, and who set apart some time each day for the reading of the Bible and for prayer.

BLESSED are those mates who never speak loudly to one another and who make their home a place where seldom is heard a discouraging word.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who faithfully attend the worship service of the church and who work together in the church for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who can work out problems of adjustments without interference from relatives.

BLESSED is the couple who has a complete understanding about financial matters and who has worked out a perfect partnership with all money under the control of both.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who humbly dedicate their lives and their home to Christ and who practice the teachings of Christ in the home by being unselfish, loyal, and loving.

This might not be your list, so I encourage you to think about the blessings you have in your marriage.  Don’t let it stop there and share your blessings with others as an encouragement and a testimony to God’s awesome power in our lives, our relationships and our homes.

David’s Faithful Friends Who Wounded Him

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
(Proverbs 27:5-6)

Aren’t you thankful for that close friend who is willing to tell you what you need to hear even if it hurts?

I think of the life of David and how several people in his life told him what he needed to hear at the time. Nathan rebuked him for his sins of murder, adultery and the cover up (2 Samuel 12). Abigail pleaded with him to calm down and not take vengeance upon the house of Nabal (1 Samuel 25). Bathsheba stirred up the aging David to make sure Solomon, and not Adonijah, was put on the throne of Israel (1 Kings 1). Joab had to confront David after the death of Absalom to help David regain some perspective (2 Samuel 19). Gad was sent by God to correct and pronounce God’s punishment upon David and Israel because of the numbering of the people (1 Chronicles 21). There are others, I’m sure, but you can see that God sent many people to David to help him get his head straight about things.

Because those people were sent to advise, correct and rebuke David, he was either put back on the path of righteousness or was kept from straying from it. Some of those friends said some very encouraging things, others said some words that really stung. Regardless, David had people in his life who loved God and loved him enough to say what needed to be said.

Being told you are wonderful may be awesome, but it’s like a triple chocolate cake oozing with fudge. A few bites and you’re sick. You won’t be healthy for long if you eat that stuff.

I hope this helps. If you want to be a person like David, you have to surround yourself with friends like David had.

By the way, sorry for missing Wednesday’s article and being late on today’s. No excuses, just doing too much.

Being a Shechaniah

We were very blessed over the weekend to have Andy Harrison with us. He led our men’s study on Saturday about the power of having a very close intimate brother in Christ. A brother to whom and with whom we can be accountable and vulnerable. Someone who can help us grow to new heights in our walk with God.

Andy used as one of his key examples the man named Shechaniah in the book of Ezra. I encourage you to read Ezra 9-10 and meditate upon it.

The people of Israel returned from captivity, and over time returned to the same sins that sent them away into captivity in the first place. Jewish men who were to be loyal in heart to God were marrying pagan idolatrous women and they were going down the same old road to destruction. When Ezra heard about this he was so sad. Ezra was overwhelmed to the point of being despondent.

Andy pointed out that if you listen to the words and emotions of Ezra in his prayer of chapter 9, one thing you will not see is hope. Ezra is pretty low at this point, and understandably so.

While Ezra was weeping and praying, a great assembly of people gathered around, and one man stood up and spoke up. Look at the progression of what happens; listen to what is said. Take note that Ezra at the beginning is weeping and praying, and at the end he is weeping and acting. It took a Shechaniah to stand up and support Ezra. Shechaniah showed leadership by being a phenomenal example of follower-ship.

Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly. And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it.” Then Ezra arose, and made the leaders of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear an oath that they would do according to this word. So they swore an oath. Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity. And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem, and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those from the captivity.
(Ezra 10:1-8)

What can you see in the words of Shechaniah that would have meant so much to Ezra in his leadership?

  1. Personal accountability. Shechaniah admitted the wrong, and took responsibility for it. He also made himself accountable to being fully supportive as they worked through solving this problem.
  2. Yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. Even the greatest leaders can sometimes get hopeless and despair in situations. Paul did (2 Corinthians 1) and so did Elijah (1 Kings 19). Ezra needed hope, he needed Shechaniah to show him that all is not lost. There’s still hope! Don’t we all need that sometimes?
  3. He was willing to help Ezra lead the people in this solution. “Let us make a covenant with our God.” Shechaniah stood up for God and Ezra by being the first to stand up, confess, and show true humility.
  4. Ezra’s advice was valued and promoted. Shechaniah said, we’re going to do this based upon your advice, Ezra. Think of the power that gave the leader when his leadership and his advice were valued.
  5. Shechaniah reminded Ezra of Ezra’s responsibility. As a leader, he needed the reminder that this is his gig and no one can do it for it. “Arise, for this matter is YOUR responsibility.”
  6. Shechaniah gave further encouragement and support that “we are with you!” Ezra couldn’t lead if no one followed, and he had the verbal commitment and encouragement he needed now to stand up and do the hard things. How much power is given to you to perform the hard things when you know that there are brothers in Christ who are “with you”? I mean truly with you. You can run through a brick wall if you have the right support and encouragement. Shechaniah was that person for Ezra.
  7. Ezra rose up (vs. 6,7) because Shechaniah spoke up (vs. 2). Please contemplate this today, men. You need to be that Shechaniah for somebody. There is an Ezra out there who may be giving up hope and you can stand with them to support them in carrying out the mission God has given them. Give somebody hope, support and encouragement today. It may be a church leader. It might be a parent or a spouse. It may be a caregiver. It might be your boss. But be that Shechaniah today.

God sends a brother

A brother recently was struggling at work with his attitude. It is a second job, and it is physically demanding on top of dealing with ornery customers. He was really having a hard time with his attitude the other night, so he told his manager he needed to take his 10-minute break. He sat in the break room by himself and prayed hard for God to change his attitude. He went back to work, and within minutes another brother in Christ showed up at his workplace just to say hello and to see how he was doing.

Instant attitude change. Instant smile. Instant prayer of “Thank you, God!” for answering prayer.

Coincidence?

What did God promise?

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

God will supply our needs richly! Sometimes that just may mean a person shows up to encourage and refresh us.

Here are a few verses for us to meditate upon today about how God filled that need in the days of the early church. May we be instruments of God’s encouragement today for others. And remember, God will answer your prayers for encouragement.

Another part of the story is that the brother who stopped by the workplace of the other brother also needed some encouragement. He was down and struggling with his own attitude and decided to look for his good friend. They both greatly benefited that night, didn’t they?

Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
(2 Corinthians 7:6-7)

I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
(1 Corinthians 16:17-18)

…and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,
(1 Thessalonians 3:2)

The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day–and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.
(2 Timothy 1:16-18)