Daily Archives: June 1, 2010

The Danger of Under-Estimating Your Strength

I had just finished a heated discussion with my wife. She walked out of our bedroom and headed off to work…a little late due to our fight.

Frustrated by Kelley’s inability to understand the facts (according to my perspective) I felt the need to vent my feelings.

I needed to do something. Anything.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, Kelley’s make-up bag began begging me move it anywhere from it’s current position.

So, that fateful day 18 years ago, I complied—and threw the make-up bag with just enough force that it traveled a little further than I intended…

…into our bedroom window. Did I mention that we lived on the second floor? As the glass fell to the sidewalk in our seminary housing, I hoped no one was walking under my window at that moment.

Sometimes we underestimate our strength. Although the fallout may be measurable, it pales in comparison to underestimating the strength of someone much greater than us.

Please join me!

TODAY’S READING

2 Samuel 18:1-19:10
John 20:1-31
Psalm 119:153-176
Proverbs 16:14-15

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 18:1-19:10. Reading about the battle between David’s and Absalom’s troops leads me to think that this wasn’t just an insurrection—this was a civil war. Twenty thousand men died in the conflict!
Verse 8 is a little difficult to understand: “The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword.” The Bible Background Commentary explains the meaning of the forest claiming the lives of the soldiers:

When the Old Testament speaks of land devouring people (as the forest does here), it is indicating a hostile, inhospitable environment that threatens survival. Since this was a battlefield chosen by David and not Absalom, it may be expected that the king’s forces utilized the rough terrain and forested areas to their advantage. Ambushes, feints drawing troops into ravines or wadis, and other guerilla tactics may have been employed. Divisions can get disoriented, lost or isolated and become easy targets.

The advantage of being pursued is that you get to choose the battlefield.

Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom proved correct. The death of only one of two men (David or Absalom) would bring the fighting to a stop. Once Joab disobeyed David’s orders and killed Absalom, everyone went back to their homes.

David is a hard man to figure out. His son is trying to kill him so he can rule Israel unopposed—yet David told his commanders not to kill Absalom. Had David’s troops captured Absalom—rather than kill him—the possibility of another insurrection would have constantly bubbled below the surface. Joab surely knew this. Although he was a merciless man, Joab was likely trying to bring an end to the killing and unity to Israel. David, however, didn’t see it that way.

Joab knew David wouldn’t be happy with the news, so he sent a foreigner—a Cushite—to deliver it.  But really, David set up the situation with few positive alternatives.

In the end, the troops who had remained loyal to David returned home defeated.

John 20:1-31. Three times in this chapter, Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace, be with you.” That means they were afraid. Doesn’t it feel good to know that the disciples struggled with fear just like we do?

My favorite line in the chapter occurs in verse 21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” What a loaded statement. But rather than give you my perspective on the implications of this comment, I invite you to join in the conversation.

How did the Father send Jesus and how has the Father sent you?

Psalm 119:153-176. While we’re talking about peace, did you notice verse 165? “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

What does this look like for you and me? Peace comes to those who love God’s ways. When we give up our rebellious pursuits and trust God’s heart—that because he knows and does what’s best for us, obedience is in our best interests—we experience peace. Even in the midst of turmoil.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

One of the reasons I believe in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the fact that ALL of Jesus’ followers assumed he would remain in the grave. Then when the body was missing, they assumed it had been stolen.

Think about it: Peter, John, Mary, and Mary Magdalene stood in the tomb, looked at the grave clothes laying on the ground, and still assumed Jesus was dead. In fact, after many of the disciples had seen Jesus, Thomas continued to doubt.

If you remember, Jesus told them he would rise from the dead, but I think the disciples assumed the power of Jesus would only go so far. Every day they watched Jesus work some pretty amazing miracles, and still they underestimated him.

Yet from our vantage point, I’m sure all of us would want to tell the disciples, “Stop underestimating Jesus’ power. Because he’s God, he can do anything.”

And I’m certain Jesus is saying the same thing to you and me.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How did the Father send Jesus (John 20:21)? How has the Father sent you?
  3. How do you underestimate Jesus?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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