Six Steps 

MTS-3197

Six Steps

“When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had
taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.”             2 Sam 6:13

 

     David was taking the mission of moving the ark very seriously this time and he was
determined not to leave any stone unturned in welcoming the ark to the city of
David. What had happened the previous time when they moved the ark probably
gave David a valuable lesson and he simply could not leave anything to chance.
He tried to do all he could to honor the Lord and to show God’s people how the
Lord should be magnified and glorified in their midst.

     David sacrificed a bull or a calf every six steps when the ark was being carried
toward the city. Indeed this was quite a lavish thing for the king to do to
usher in the ark and, I believe, David didn’t do all these things out of fear
of God; he made all the sacrifices out of his love and reverence for the Lord
who had been shepherding him his entire life.

     What kind of sacrifice did we make to welcome God’s presence into our life for the first
time? I am afraid we did not do a whole lot, for we simply didn’t have a high
view of the Almighty. The Lord seems to be used as an instrument through whom we
are saved; therefore we concern ourselves more about what he can do for us than
what we can do for him. In many cases, he is more our servant than we are his.

       “Please come jumpstart my car,” a lady called while we were having supper. I was a little annoyed, for the request sounded
very much like a command.

     “I will be right there,” I answered. It was something that I had to do whether I felt like
it or not, for I was given an opportunity to make a sacrifice to God.

     “My car is dead again. Come help me,” I received another phone call this morning while I
was in the middle of writing.

     “I will be there right away,” I answered, feeling quite honored that I had another chance
to offer the Lord a sacrifice. It was an unpleasant job, for it was wet and the
wind chill was very biting, yet I did it without grumbling this time.

     I have fallen very short of making sacrifices to the Lord, even though I try to do as much as
I can, but sacrificing a calf every six steps seems to be too much to ask. I
sometimes walk thousands of steps without making a sacrifice to God. Of course,
I am not speaking about shedding a bull’s blood; it’s the sacrifice of
thanksgiving I am referring to here. Come to think of it, every six steps may
be too long if we are speaking about making a living sacrifice to the Lord. There is absolutely no pause if we
make ourselves living sacrifices to God, is there?

 

    

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Blessing 

MTS-3196

Blessing

“The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom…,
and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.”           2 Sam 6:11

 

     We have no inkling what exactly were the blessings the household of Obed-Edom obtained
from God by keeping the ark of the Lord, but whatever they were, they had to be
good. Were they material blessings? Likely. Fame and fortune was often reckoned
as blessings from above during the Old Testament times, and the ones who were
endowed with God’s blessings were quite wealthy in most cases.

     Did Obed-Edom suddenly become rich within the span of three months while the ark of the Lord
was placed in his house? If not, how could people tell that the man was greatly
blessed by the Lord during that time and his being blessed had something to do
with the ark being there?

     Becoming prosperous materialistically might have been a way the Lord revealed his good
will toward certain people, but surely it wasn’t the only way. The Lord could
easily have blessed Obed-Edom’s household by protecting his family and by
giving them sound health and joyous spirits. Unfortunately, we don’t always
perceive God’s blessings that way; what we consider blessings from the Almighty
often has something to do with material things.

     Was it a blessing from the Lord when I spotted a dirty envelope on campus when I was a
junior high boy, which had fifty NT dollars in it? It might have been more a
temptation than a blessing and I failed the test, for I kept the money and
enjoyed my new-found riches for a couple of weeks and felt absolutely no
remorse at the end.

     I don’t think it matters that much how or in what manner the household of Obed-Edom was
blessed; the mere presence of the Lord in his family would have been the
greatest blessing. What sort of blessing would have been greater than keeping
the ark of the Lord in one’s house?

     We all have the presence of the Lord within our households, and we are all very blessed. There
is a serious problem if you are not aware of this important truth.

     How can we not be amazed by the mere fact that we are alive and walk about every day and all
the amazing things that we are able to do routinely. How can we take the
blessings of Lord for granted, such as our ability to breathe, eat, drink,
sleep, see, hear, and all the rest of the things we seem to do so naturally? I
guess it is so natural for us to perform those seemingly insignificant things that
we no longer consider them miraculous. All things we deem natural are in fact
supernatural and we can detect so many blessings from the Lord among the
ordinary things we do if we perceive them accordingly.

     How was the house of Obed-Edom blessed? That is a good question, isn’t it?   

        

       

        

 

    

Monday, January 30, 2012 7:01:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Fear 

MTS-3195

Fear

“He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be
with him in the City of David.”             2 Sam 6:10

 

     David was disappointed and discouraged. He had tried to do the right thing by bringing
the ark of the Lord to the City of David, but Uzzah was killed for no
particular reason, and David might have taken this as a sign that the Lord was
displeased with him.

     “I am not worthy to bring the ark of the Lord to my city,” he said to one of his trusted
counselors.

     “We may just have to wait to see what transpires,” answered the man. “I think the Lord will
reveal his will to us concerning the ark.”

     “I am just too afraid to try again. The Lord is a consuming fire,” David replied with a deep sigh and walked back to his
tent, pondering the reasons why the Lord might be displeased with him.

     “Was it because I have shed too much blood?” he questioned. “What choice did I have?”
he raised his voice, as if he was defending his case before a judge.

     “Didn’t you appoint me a leader of God’s army?” he asked.

     David was determined to take some time to process what had happened and would not take
any action to move the ark until he figured out what went wrong the previous
time.

     “I don’t want to risk another person’s life moving the ark,” he decided.

     That’s what failure did to a man of faith, and it may do the same to all of us.

     “You have called me to church ministry, why has my path of spiritual service been paved
with failure and tears? Did I make a mistake in discerning your will or am I
simply not worthy to be your servant?” We may have asked the Lord this
question.

     “Haven’t we prayed and fasted for this evangelistic project? Why was the result so meager?”

     We may come to a standstill after we have experienced some failures in our ministry and become
afraid to launch another project or start another campaign. We may even start
to disdain ourselves and develop a mind-set of self-loathing, thinking that the
Lord has deserted us and we are just good for nothing.

     Is doing nothing a better alternative than doing something? Is inaction a more desirable
option than action? May this never be the case for us. I believe the process of
doing something is more important in God’s eye than achieving a good result. As
long as we are faithful in doing good, our Master will be pleased. He is more
interested in carving us into his own image than making us a great success, and
the pain and agony of failure we are experiencing is the result of his
chiseling.  

Friday, January 27, 2012 6:44:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Perez Uzzah 

MTS-3194

Perez Uzzah

“Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken
out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.”        2 Sam 6:8

 

     A horrific accident happened about twenty years ago when my friend was on his way to
attend a Christian conference. If my memory serves me right, a couple of people
in the van perished. About ten of them had flown across the Pacific to Georgia
to participate in an annual spiritual enrichment meeting, believing they were
doing something that was pleasing to God, yet two of their lives were ended
prematurely on foreign soil.

     I didn’t get a chance to speak to my friend about the tragic event, who was a minister at a
charismatic church in Taiwan, but he must have become as angry as King David
when tragedy struck while he and his people were doing God’s work. Indeed they
must have prayed and fasted before they made the journey to bring the ark back,
but things sure didn’t go as they had hoped. Something very bad still took
place in the process.

     “Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this
day that place is called Perez Uzzah.”

     The wound would take many years to heal and my friend never initiated a conversation over
the accident. I guess it was too painful for him to bring up. He must have come
to terms with what had occurred, but I doubt he knew exactly the reason behind
the tragedy. It was one of those questions that he will ask the Lord when he meets
him face to face.

     The Lord is sovereign over all and he absolutely owes us no explanation concerning things
that elude our comprehension. If we raise questions over one person’s death, we
will question all deaths that have taken place and will continue to take place.
Ours is not to question with indignation, but to accept with submission.

     David still became angry, nonetheless; so do we.

     Did the king of Israel become angry at the Lord? I don’t think that was the case. He merely
became agitated about things that had occurred that made no sense to him as a
man and over which he had no control. David obviously believed he was doing a
God-honoring thing, yet the result seemed to have proved otherwise. What was he
to think and feel under such an adverse situation?

     David did get angry over the event, but he didn’t dwell in his anger. It might have taken him
a while to recover from this unfortunate event, but he managed to pick himself
up and try again and eventually the project of moving the ark became a
successful one.   

     Why did Uzzah die? Evidently he did something that was displeasing to God. It may not make
sense to us, but God alone determines what is unacceptable to him. Uzzah might
not have known the severity of his action; he was punished just the same. Therefore
we continue to plead for mercy as far as the service we render to him is
concerned, and if something beyond our control does happen, may we never bring
any accusation against the Almighty.     

 

    

 

    

Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:09:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Attitude 

MTS-3193

Attitude

“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah
reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.”       2 Sam 6:6

 

     The cart was probably going downhill and the ark of God was tilting when the oxen stumbled
and, instinctively, Uzzah reached out his hand to stabilize the ark and,
consequently, the Lord struck him down and he died.

     This tragic event appears to be quite random and unnecessary to us. Uzzah might have done
something without thinking, but he didn’t do it out of malice. He took the
action to protect the ark out of good intentions, yet his young life was cut
short as a result. We can’t help but wonder why the young man lost his life
over such a seemingly random event.

     It was supposedly to be a joyful occasion, for the king was ushering the ark of the
Lord back to Jerusalem and everyone one was in high spirits. The ark, which
symbolized the presence of the Lord, was coming back to the place where it belonged.
Yet Uzzah’s death put a damper on everybody’s spirit and the festivities
suddenly came to a halt.

     Uzzah was one of the two sons of Abinadab in whose house the ark had been placed for a while.
We have no idea what sort of person the man was, but he probably had developed a
casual attitude toward the ark and didn’t show reverence toward it as he should
have. Was it a case of familiarity breeding irreverence that is so common among
all of us? Of course I am just speculating. What makes the death of Uzzah so
puzzling to us was there seemed to be no good reason why the man was struck
down, especially since he appeared to be doing a good thing.

     We should try our best not to have a casual attitude when handling holy objects or conducting
sacred businesses. No matter how familiar we are with the divine, we should
always have a profound sense of awe when we approach the throne of grace.
Surely the Lord is loving and kind, but he is still a consuming fire that
devours the unclean and the profane. How dare we leave our shoes on and stare
directly at the fire without blinking, as if it were just a common fire in our hearth.

     We seem to have brought the Lord down to our level and a deep sense of reverence and awe
is no long essential on our part when we approach him. We have become accustomed
to calling our heavenly Father our friend and seem to treat him as such. This
is indeed a chilling phenomenon that needs to be rectified.

     I always feel a bit uneasy when I catch myself crossing my legs when I pray to God. Why is it
appropriate to address God that way, if we dare not do it to our earthly
fathers? Instead of examining the reason for Uzzah’s death in depth and
accusing the Almighty of being capricious, we must look at our attitude toward
God to see if we have developed a cavalier mind-set when we approach him.    

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 6:52:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Predictability 

MTS-3192

Predictability

“…because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front
of you to strike the Philistine army.”          2 Sam 5:25

 

So much in life is so predictable,

Like someone who lights a lamp daily

For us, and builds a fire in the sky

When days are cold and dreary;

Like our children will grow up

And when we stretch our hands to the left at night

We will always feel the warmth of another person

And are amazed at her quiet breathing

And her invisible dream.

So we live in time as if in eternity

Until a cold front moves in,

A sudden freeze makes us pale,

And we stay indoors,

Or follow the path of the geese,

Heading for the sunny south.

 

So much in life is to see the unpredicted,

From the predicted,

Like the sun rising and the fresh wind

Always ushering in another spring

And flowers blooming for a good reason,

That breeds all the joyful consequences,

So that we fall asleep on the bench outdoors,

Counting the stars, and always wake up in our bed

Soft and tender as the Milky Way,

And cradled by the clouds,

The mysterious hands that rocks us

To sleep through many dangers,

Just like the unseen we have seen

The invisible we have uncovered from the visible,

And all seems to be, so predictable.

     

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:59:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Abandoned Idols 

MTS-3190

Abandoned Idols

“The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David
and his men carried them off.”             2 Sam 5:21

 

     The Philistines took their idols with them to the battle, hoping that their gods
would protect them from harm and give them victory over their enemies. It
didn’t work, however, and all the gods were abandoned and scattered on the
battlefield stained with the blood of the Philistines. There were obviously
survivors among the Philistines from the fight, but they must have thrown their
idols and charms away as they were fleeing from the killing field, for they
must have become quite cumbersome.

     The idols did not protect the Philistines; they instead needed to be protected by those who
paid them homage. They were indeed, as a Chinese saying puts it, “clay Buddha can’t
protect themselves as they swim across the river.”

     I think most people nowadays are beyond creating wooden idols to protect themselves, but
it’s within the realm of possibility that many of us do have idols of other
kinds - the material things from which we derive fame, security, and a sense of
wellbeing. We hold onto them as if they were our lifelines, but someday we will
eventually find them deficient.

     What can the Mammon do for us when we are running for our life? Very little indeed. Can
power and fame protect us from harm or keep us from falling into the precipice
of death? If not, why do most of still seek those things so passionately, as if
they could give eternal security?

     No matter to whom it happens, death feels just as merciless and cruel, but I suppose the
sting of death may not be as bitter to the poor as to the rich, for the poor don’t
have as much to live for or to give up as the rich. Why was Emperor Ching so
eager to search for a potion of longevity? He just had so much to live for and
giving up all he had earned in life was just so gut-wrenching.

     We may be spending our entire life feeding an idol that ultimately can do absolute nothing
for us when we need it the most. Idols may be our best friends in life, but
never in death; our best companions in happiness, but never a consolation in
misery.

     A basketball coach had worked very hard his entire adult life climbing a career ladder and finally
succeeded in his pursuit but, ironically, a few months after he landed a big
time coaching job he found out he had an incurable chronic disease. He was
getting both fame and fortune with the new job, but the new found commodities
sure didn’t make him immune to the “slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune.”  

     The Philistines abandoned their idols because they themselves were forsaken by
their gods. I am afraid we will have to do the same thing if we choose to
worship false gods who are neither truthful nor faithful.      

    

Friday, January 20, 2012 7:13:00 AM Categories: Devotional

More 

MTS-3189

More

“After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and
wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.”         2 Sam 5:13

 

     More is better. This may be applicable in many things except husband and wife within a
marriage. As far as husband and wife are concerned, the golden rule is the
fewer the better; and one to one is by far the best.

     If the Lord had intended the first man to have more than one wife, he would have created
more than just one woman for him, wouldn’t he? Adam had more than just one rib
to spare, right?

     Having more than one wife does further guarantee the survival and thriving of one’s
species; therefore it’s to one’s advantage to have more than just one wife. I
suppose most Darwinists probably don’t see anything wrong with David taking so
many wives and concubines. Having more than one wife may cause some
inconveniences for people, but it’s not morally wrong, evolutionists must presume.

     David should have known better.

     The first king of Israel obviously had more than one wife but, as far as I can tell, Saul did not go overboard getting
wives and concubines during his reign. He might have done some, but the
scripture is silent about this. David appeared to be the first Israeli king who
took polygamy to a new height and his son Solomon simply followed suit and
seemed to have a monopoly over all the beautiful virgins in an entire nation.

     What’s the purpose of marriage? If the sole purpose of marriage is pro-creation, then it’s
obviously more expedient for a man to have more than one wife. If that’s not
the case, polygamy should not be a necessity. Initially, what motivated the
Creator to make a woman for the first man wasn’t procreation at all; it was for
consolation and communication. “It’s not good for man to be alone,’ said the
Lord. By inference, we may conclude that the main purpose of marriage is the
exercise of love. Within marriage, the first couple was to learn how to give
and receive the precious gift of love and, by his omniscient wisdom, the Lord
created one man and one woman, which is the best training ground for love.
Within the first marriage, Adam had no other option but to learn to love his
wife and the same with his wife Eve. Things would have been very different had
they had more than one spouse. King Ahasuerus was very fond of Queen Vashti,
but the woman was quickly replaced by Esther when the king became displeased
with her. There was absolutely no need for the king of Persia to learn to love
one woman for better and for worse since he had so many choices. I seriously
doubt King Ahasuerus ever learned what it was really like to truly love a
woman, for he never had to learn the lesson of love within the setting of
traditional marriage.

     Surely David wasn’t exactly a man after God’s own heart as far as his relationship with
various women was concerned. It’s no accident that the man’s greatest flaw in his
character was his womanizing, and the most heinous sin he committed in his life
was caused by his lust for a beautiful woman.            

Thursday, January 19, 2012 7:03:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Gaining Power 

MTS-3188

Gaining Power

“And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord
God Almighty was with him.”          2 Sam 5:10

 

     I suppose David conquering of his enemies was necessary, for he would have been
demolished if he had not destroyed his foes first. Only the fittest could
survive during times of great turmoil and what the Israelites did was no
different from the practices of their surrounding nations.

     I often feel uneasy when I come across the verses stating how many people David killed and
how many thousands the people of God slaughtered. God is supposed to be a God
of peace, yet at that time he was dragged into war after war and he was often
given credit for victory and blamed for defeat.

     God isn’t the God of the Jews only; he is also the God of the Gentiles as well. God’s
intention is for all people to live, but we kill ourselves by our sins;
therefore we are to blame when we die.

     David seemed to have obtained strength and power from the Lord to conquer his enemies and he
often credited God for his victories, but that doesn’t mean that the Lord was
overjoyed by David’s triumphs over his foes, for the Lord of life took
absolutely no pleasure over people’s death. The Lord doesn’t show favoritism,
but being a God of justice and holiness, he always favors the sides that upholds
his standards and adheres to his attributes. In this case, the Israelites
appeared to be the ones whom the Lord favored, because of their purity in
worship and in practice.

     David became more and more powerful because the Lord was with him and he was able to conquer
nations, yet I like to think the Lord empowered David not merely for conquering
his enemies; he gave power to his servant so that he could conquer himself.
After all his enemies were defeated, David was still in dire need of power from
above so that he could overcome himself. While his army was gaining ground in
the battlefield, David was losing ground as a man of God and committed the most
heinous sin in his life. The man after God’s own heart did some things that he
had never dreamt that he was capable of doing. 

     Are we becoming more powerful in the Lord?

     I don’t mean that we are turning into better preachers or more effective evangelists who can
accomplish great deeds for God; my concern is whether we have become powerful
conquerors of ourselves. There is no territory for us to conquer and no
promised land for us to inherit, but we do need the power of God to cast out
all the aliens who take our heart captive and seduce us to do what is
displeasing to God.

     O how l long to become a powerful man of God whose thoughts and actions are in complete
unison with God’s intention for my life. I don’t envy King David for all his
achievements in battles or his conquering of nations; I do admire the man for
his genuine love for God, his contrition over sin, and his willingness to
repent.    

         

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 6:50:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Thirty Years Old 

MTS-3186

Thirty Years Old

“David was thirty years old when he became king, and he
reigned forty years.”             2 Sam 5:4

 

     “A man should be established when he turns thirty,” Confucius stated in his Sayings.

     The Lord Jesus emerged from anonymity when he turned thirty, didn’t he? That was what I
intended to do when I was mapping out my life in my early twenties. Thirty years
of age appeared to be pretty far off on the foggy horizon then and life seemed
to stretch out endlessly.

     I should have already finished all my education by then and I would be ready to do some great
thing for God’s kingdom. Becoming a king over a nation like David wasn’t one of
my dreams or aspirations, but I did have some great things I wanted to
accomplish with my life.

     John Keats, one of the four great English Romantic poets, didn’t have the luxury to plan
too far ahead, for he was stricken by consumption in his twenties. “When I have
fears that I may cease to be, before my pen had gleaned my teeming brain…” he
wrote in a short poem, mourning the uncertainty of his life. Sure enough, the
poet didn’t have the opportunity to accomplish what he could have achieved. He
passed away in Rome in his late twenties.

     I did make it to my thirties and far beyond. I am rapidly approaching my sixties. What have I
done after I supposedly established myself.

     What made a world of difference was I became married to a lovely woman at age twenty eight
and became a father the next year and I seem to have spent the next twenty
years raising my children. I did become a king with a queen and three little
subjects. That’s all I have achieved as a man, and I am dwarfed compared to
most men my age, let alone compared to David the king.

     Yet, I like to fancy myself as a man after God’s own heart. I am a singer and a poet, and a
man of powerful emotions like David, albeit on a much smaller scale. But
statements such as this will never apply to me: “David was thirty years old
when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

     I was twenty-nine when I became a father and have raised three boys and ministered in
a small church for eighteen plus years. I will have served the Lord for thirty
years when I turn seventy and will have finished composing devotional writings
through the entire Bible. This is not too shabby for a country boy with a lowly
background, who was disdained by his peers and looked down on by the public, to
accomplish with his life, is it?

     Life can never be understood by looking ahead, I suppose. Things sure have turned out
quite differently than what I had expected. It’s true that when my weakness
abounded, God’s grace also abounded so much more. May the Lord continue to pour
his abundant mercy on me so that I can bring more applause to him through my
life and service. I may be a poor actor and, compared to others, the role I
play is very minor, but my Director is loving and great and I will keep on acting
to the best of my ability out of my gratitude to him. O more applause and more
praise to my Father in heaven!          

Monday, January 16, 2012 7:19:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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