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August 2018

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Although kings of Israel were specifically warned against polygamy (“He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” – Deut 17:17), it was still socially acceptable at the time to help forged alliances with other states. David’s problems, however, were quite considerable with rape (2 Sam 13:14), murder (2 Sam 13:28), rebellion (2 Sam 15:13), and greed (1 Kings 1:5-6). The story of David’s reign is one of great struggles between pride and corruption with reoccurring returns to God. Abner took Saul’s only surviving son, Ish-bosheth, and made him king over Gilead. Abner proposes to Joab (son of David’s sister Zeruiah) when meeting on the battle field that only 12 men fight in order to save the lives of any more Hebrews, but all 24 died and warfare between the two nations ensued. Joab violated David’s commitment to protect Abner, and demonstrated a clear disregard for human life. And yet, even after the killing of 360 Benjamite forces of Abner, Abner ties not to fight the less-experienced brother of Joab (Asahel) in order not to kill him and talks Joab from continuing the battle. Abnor later makes a secret negotiation with David and talks the elders of Israel into rejoining Judah. Joab, who had boasted so well before now sees this relationship as threatening his position and decides to kill Abner (characteristically in the back). Not only did the law of Hebron not permit an avenging murder without a trial (Num 35:22-25), but David’s curse (v 3:29) also indicates that he did not consider Joab actions to be justified. The ensuing long civil war only ends when Ish-bosheth was assassinated by two of his own soldiers.

John’s Gospel also reports more of the content of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples than do the other three Gospels. Chapters 13-17 focus on His teachings on the night of his fateful arrest. Meals were common settings for teaching sessions. He demonstrated the need for humble service by washing their feet (so demeaning that by law even Jewish slaves could not be forced to do it – leaving only Gentile slaves), His teaching, and finally His death. Finally, the treachery of Judas is foretold, naming Judas to Peter. Christ had often spoken of his own sufferings and death with such a troubled spirit now displayed for Judas (see parallel passages in Mark 14:18-21 and Luke 22:21-23). All of our sins are the grief of our Lord. Judas’ treachery speaks to all who would partake of God’s mercies with ingratitude.

There are several especially famous message verses in the Bible, such as Hebrews 11:29-34 on faith and 2 Corinthians 8-9 on giving. Psalm 199 is famous for its message on “The Word.” Common access to the Bible only occurred about 200 years ago and so ancient Hebrews had to memorize and then pass on scripture orally. Psalm 119 was written with each of the 22 8-line sections opening with a different Hebrew letter to aid easier memorization and beautifully conveys the idea that the Word of God contains everything man needs to know along the blessed journey of life. This Psalm expresses that following God’s Law will provide the blessings and benefits of peace, power to resist sin, joy, understanding, strength, freedom (including from shame), hope, comfort, reverence for God, a thankful and worshiping heart, a clean life, and most importantly, a personal revival. In English faith and believe have a common root while in Hebrew truth and faith both come from “emet” and David repeatedly expresses the joy he finds in what he call, “the word of truth.” Today’s reading covers the first two sections (Aleph and Beth) where the author prays for obedience to receive the Lord’s blessing and to be cleansed by the Word.

In today's reading John 14 in verses 16 and 26, we see the Holy Spirit called Counselor. In other modern Bible translations the words Comforter, Encourager, and Advocate are used here.
My Harper's Bible Dictionary defines Holy Spirit as: the mysterious power or presence of God in nature or with individuals and communities, inspiring or empowering them with qualities they would
not otherwise possess. I like that definition.
To me, the Holy Spirit is a gift that God has provided to enable us to both feel and comprehend in our hearts, minds, and souls His truths. With this power, our abilities in our prayers, in our actions, in our love, in all aspects of our lives is nothing less than extraordinary.
One of the benefits I have received in my growth as a Christian, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is a dramatic increase in my ability and willingness to share my thoughts and feelings openly with others.
What does the Holy Spirit mean to you?

Yours In the Spirit,
Jeff

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