Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 6:3

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14

One Hundred Pianos

….that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:21)

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

A W Tozier

God's Spoken World:Looking Forward to SpringGod has built accountability into the very nature of the world. Consider, for example, what happens when you leave home for almost two weeks in the late spring. I know about this because I just got home two days ago. Do you think my garden is holding me responsible for the state it is in? Yes, indeed, it is. The weeds are a mile high for all the world to see. No pretending who has not been on duty or what has been going on while I was away.

Weeds are just one example of how God holds us accountable, but we can learn some important lessons about our Christian life by digging around in the garden. We reap what we sow. If we neglect our spiritual life and become distracted, we may hope no one notices for a while, but sooner or later it will come out. It always does. If we go ahead and just plant some nasties in our garden on purpose (which is what sin really is), how much more are we to blame for the state of our souls.

God has given us some ground to steward. You may have a little tiny garden you are cultivating, or you may have extensive grounds. Either way, you’ll be called upon to give an account for the state of things. God gives us the means to keep the weeds out: repentance and faith pull out the weeds and the Holy Spirit plants the fruit.

Sometimes you may feel so overwhelmed by the extent of the weeds that you’d rather shut the curtains and pretend you can’t see them.  You may not know how to begin or where to start. But God does. He is in charge of our sanctification, and He brings things to light so that we can repent and believe and work on tending the fruit. It makes so much more sense to get that ugly weed dealt with now before it requires a backhoe to remove.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Your mom may be able to tell you are not doing well by the state of your room. Your husband may notice you are a little moody. But our God knows our hearts. He provides the ultimate accountability. Not only does He hold us responsible for our sins, He provides the way out of them through forgiveness. ~Nancy Ann Wilson http://www.feminagirls.com/2013/06/06/june-6-accountability/#more-5723

Thank You, Dad

One father is worth more than a hundred Schoolmasters.  ~George Herbert

My father used to play with my brothers in the yard.  My mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”   “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply.  “We’re raising boys.”~Harmon Killebrew

There is nothing like the thread of love woven through a Christian father’s words  to his daughter that over the years becomes the very fiber of her  being.  Dad, your guiding words will be remain on my shoulder  forever.  ~Anon

II Samuel 2: 1-32

This chapter marks the beginning of civil war in Israel.  There had been strains and tensions before, but now it breaks out into  open hostility.  As we will see,  there are noble men on both sides.  This is a true civil war.   All of Israel is covenanted with God.  All twelve tribes are covenanted with God and there are noble men on both sides and scoundrels on both sides.  Life is not always a simple black hats, white hats, affair. You might want to teach it that way if you are teaching third graders and you just want to keep things simple, but we need to grow up into maturity and we have to realize that ethical absolutes does not mean ethical simplicity.

Saul had fallen because he would not obey the Lord or he would not inquire of the Lord.  David begins by seeking God’s will for his movements and God tells him to go to Hebron. avid moved there with his family (v. 2). All the men who had been with him in Ziklag, and their families, moved with him to Hebron. The men of Judah, David’s tribe, came and anointed him king there.

Immediately after this, David reaches out to the courageous men of Jabesh-gilead,  the men who had buried Saul. In the meantime, Abner brought Ish-bosheth to a place east of the Jordan called Mahanaim, and made him king there (apparently gradually) over the northern tribes . We then have a comparison of the reign of Ish-bosheth and David.

Now it happened that a small force with Abner ran across a small force with Joab at Gibeon . Abner proposes some sort of tournament or ritual combat, and Joab agrees. Twelve men from each side came out, and they all slew each other. The tournament erupted into a battle, and it went badly for Abner.   There were three sons of Zeruiah , who was David’s sister. These men were Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, who was very swift. Asahel made a point of pursuing Abner, who twice tried to stop Asahel from chasing him . Finally, Abner struck Asahel with the butt of his spear and killed him . Joab and Abishai pursued Abner until sundown, when Abner was able to regroup with his men at the top of a hill. Abner calls upon Joab to halt, which Joab decides to do. Abner and his men traveled all night back to Mahahaim , just as Joab and his men traveled back to Hebron the same way . When the tally was made, the fatalities were disproportionate in favor of David’s men.

To get a lay of the land, David’s temporary “capital” was about 55 miles southwest of Mahanaim, where Ish-bosheth was located. David’s territory was due west of the Dead Sea, and Ish-bosheth “controlled” both sides of the Jordan north of the Dead Sea. Gibeon was in the border area about halfway between. It is likely that Ish-bosheth was headquartered east of the Jordan because the Philistines made things dicey to the west.

Hebron was an important city in Judah, and had been associated with Abraham , and was a Levitical city.

The discrepancy between the length of Ish-bosheth’s reign and David’s here is likely accounted for by the time it took for Ish-bosheth to consolidate his reign, and the time it took all Israel to acknowledge David after Ish-bosheth’s death.

Abner was a noble character, despite being in opposition to David. He sets Ish-bosheth on the throne instead of taking it himself, for example. Abner was Saul’s cousin, and captain of his army (1 Sam. 14:50), and clearly had the power to make himself king. He was not worried about Asahel killing him; he was worried about how he would face Joab if he was forced to kill him. He and Joab knew each other—having apparently studied at West Point together—but Abner was clearly not cold-blooded the way Joab was.

I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (Ps. 120:7). Robert E. Lee once said that it was good that war was so terrible—otherwise we would grow too fond of it. And of all wars, civil wars are the worst. The eagerness with which the twenty-four warriors dispatched one another was a grim foreshadowing of what was to come. Asahel’s single-minded pursuit of Abner (and glory for himself) is another indicator of how these things go. And Abner’s vain desire to keep things constrained show us another side of this kind of conflict.

Subsequent events will show that not only were David and Ish-bosheth rival kings, but that Abner and Joab were rival military commanders. What would happen to Joab if someone of Abner’s caliber came over to David’s side? Joab knew the answer to that question, and he acted accordingly. He was shrewd, but still a fool.

When John the Baptist gave way to Jesus, he said that Christ would increase, and the he would decrease. Jesus taught us to defer to one another, to take the lowest seat, to become the servant of all. But in countless situations, we still jockey for position, we still throw elbows. We would rather be the biggest frog in the smallest pond than to have much more than we do and be the seventeenth biggest frog in the biggest pond. If there were a button in front of you that would make you, a poor person, and all other poor people in the world, twice as well-off, but it would also make every rich person five times better off, would you push it?

This is not just a matter of income, or status, or military power. James asks us to figure out where conflicts in our midst come from (Jas. 4:1-7). Do they not come from desire that wars within our members?

Because of this, many would rather be a Joab—a wrong man on the right side—than an Abner, a right man on the wrong side. This is because we are trying to write the narrative of the world in big block letters, and we want it to shake out simplistically. There are, of course, two other options, but never become the kind of person who hides personal sin behind a righteous cause.”

~Douglas Wilson

Acts 17:26

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.~ESV

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. ~KJV

Easy Summer Meal

Chicken Puffs Recipe

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast
halves – cubed
3 tablespoons chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons of finely chopped red pepper
3/4 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
1 box (two sheets) of puff pastry  thawed and cut into
12 rectangles
Directions:
1. Place 1 T butter and 1 T of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and slowly cook and stir skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, chopped red pepper, onion and garlic. Cook until pepper and onions are tender and chicken is lightly browned.
2. In a medium bowl, blend chicken mixture, cream cheese and butter until creamy.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
4. Thaw puff pastry and cut 12 rectangles. Place approximately one tablespoon of the chicken mixture on each rectangle. Fold corners up and twist tops to make them look like the picture above
5. Arrange pastries on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush each pastry with egg white before baking.  Bake in the preheated oven 12 minutes, or until golden brown.These are wonderful for showers and parties, but also make a delicious, light summer dinner served roasted asparagus and either a green salad or  fruit salad.