Jonathan’s Loyalty

Today’s Reading : I Samuel Chapter 20 

Camaraderie. Compassion. Friendship. Loyalty.  These words are used often in the New Testament, but are seldom used in the Old Testament in regards with people relationships.  In the Old Testament, people are only interested in their own gain and power.  We have a glimpse of true devotion and friendship in today’s reading between Jonathan and David.  

Jonathan is the son of King Saul.  He is also the brother-in-law to David.  David and Jonathan became great friends during Saul’s reign as king of Israel.  After David stood up to Goliath and saved Israel from their enemies, David came into the court of the king and became a trusted advisor to the king and Jonathan.  Saul became paranoid and needed assistance from David to soothe his thoughts, so David became more trusted by both Saul and Jonathan.  Along the way, Saul started to question the loyalty of everybody including David and Jonathan.  Saul conspired with Jonathan and his other advisors to plot against David and kill him.  But through all of the lies and conspiracy of Saul, Jonathan remained faithful to David. 

This loyalty and friendship is due to the presence of the Holy Spirit on David.  David had eight brothers [we are introduced to earlier in Samuel] and all of them were not concerned about David while he was in the fields as a shepherd.  The brothers even despised him as David brought them food and refreshment in the battlefield.  David had known how to be a brother, but none of his blood relatives would be committed and dedicated to him.  After David is anointed and has conquered the Philistines, he is brought into the court of Saul and Jonathan. Here the Spirit creates a bond between Jonathan and David that is stronger than birth or blood.  

Proverbs 18:24   

 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I wonder if Solomon is referring to his father’s and Jonathan’s relationship here.  This relationship literally save David’s life several times. Jonathan and David embodied the Hebrew commandment that are later spoke by Christ and shared with many  

Romans 13:9 

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

David and Jonathan knew that their purpose was far greater than anything that they could imagine.  They knew that God’s hand had placed them together for a reason. Their loyalty to each other would transcend both of their lives and live on after their deaths.  This is the goal for us a Christians:  to give unconditionally to all we encounter.  Not only should we give to our friends, but also to the ones that are searching for friends and those who have turned away from us. We cannot give up on the people that may have hurt us in the past.  We need to seek the Spirit of God to reconcile our relationships to create this type of peace and loyalty that is exhibited by Jonathan and David.  

Father God, 

Create the opportunities for the Spirit to open our relationships to create trust, peace, and loyalty that is indiscernible and amazing.  Thank you for the blessings in advance.  Amen 

A Special Friendship

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 18 and Psalm 19.

“…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…”

1 Samuel 18:1

Today we read about the wonderful friendship that Jonathan and David developed, despite Jonathan’s dad, Saul, disliking and being jealous of David. Jonathan being selfless, humble, and giving stripped himself of his own robe, armor, bow, sword, and belt and gave it to David. It says after this David was successful.

This past year, my Dad lost his Jonathan. His best friend, Doug McCumber, left this Earth to be with his Lord and Savior in Heaven unexpectedly. When my Dad and Mom moved to Tuscola, Illinois for a teaching job in the 1970s, knowing Doug, but not extremely well, Doug helped them get a house before they even arrived in town without them even seeing it! As a banker, he helped them get on their feet financially as well. From there, he continued to help my Dad get plugged into a community where he knew no one. They played tennis and basketball together with Doug taking him with his tickets to Illini basketball and football games which they both were passionate about. The only thing they never agreed on was Cubs and Cardinals. Even though my parents moved a few short years later from Tuscola, and this was way before cell phones, text messages, and emails, the 2 remained extremely close with Doug becoming my Godfather when I was born a few years later. Later in life, they enjoyed their morning walk and talks on Ft. Myers Beach each year with some of their most deep and memorable ones being this last summer which neither of them knew would be their last ones. Doug wasn’t just the average friend to my father. Like Jonathan giving up his most prized battle possessions, Doug never let you pay for a meal, and if you were lucky enough to steal the check from the waiter, he was genuinely mad. He didn’t want you to bring food to the tailgate. He’d supply that, along with the tickets to the game, too! That was just Doug. He was a true best friend, and I know my Dad will forever be grateful for all Doug did for him.

One of the greatest gifts God gives us is relationships. Of course, our relationship with Jesus is the top priority, but He also gives us relationships with others in this world to help us. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, King Solomon says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

We need our friend to help us in times we are struggling. We need our friend to let us know when we may have a blind spot we are not aware of. They can help us when we are struggling with our marriage, with finances, career issues, our children, and numerous other things….even when we don’t know we need it or just don’t want to hear it.

What battle are you fighting alone right now? Don’t. Go to your Jonathan. They will give you their robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt to help you. God put them in your life for a reason.

On the flip side, who do you know that’s struggling? Who can you be Jonathan for? It’s not easy. We’re busy and have our own lives, and it could make things uncomfortable with your relationship depending on their reaction. But, God put you in their life for a reason. Maybe this is it. Maybe you can help them. I’d say it’s worth the risk.

If you’re reading this a little bit sad because you are not sure if you have a Jonathan and David relationship in your life, I bet you do. You just don’t know it yet. Maybe you need to give to someone like Jonathan did. If Jonathan would not have been so giving, when he didn’t need to, it’s likely this friendship would have never become what it was with David. If Doug wouldn’t have bent over backwards to help my Dad, asking nothing in return, their special friendship likely would have never developed.

Don’t fight battles alone. Go talk with your Jonathan, or go be a Jonathan!

With a little help from my friends

I love writing for Bible Journal! This experience has caused me to view every situation in my life as a story and reflect on how Jesus is part of that story, with the potential to share that story on this site. God is at work in all things… ALL THINGS! He is mighty and perfect, and he loves us more than we can comprehend! Where do you see God at work in your life? Not sure? Take a moment and pray; humbly ask him to show you where he is at work. I believe if you truly want to know, and truly seek him, he will show you and answer this prayer.

Today’s reading includes Acts 2 which was the focus of my very first post, and today’s post is going to be a follow-up. Here’s a link in case you’ve not read it, or if you’d like to read it again under different circumstances: Cut to the Heart

Cut to the Heart ended with Acts 2:38, where the believers were promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here’s what happened after the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (Acts 2:42-44)

What touches me here is that the believers while filled with the spirit became so selfless that they either gave away or pooled together all of their possessions. I think about people in my life who I’m honored to call “friend” and see this playing out. They freely give their time and even their possessions to others and me. They listen and obey God’s voice.

Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, (Jeremiah 11:4b)

How does God speak to us? Can we hear his voice? In the Old Testament God spoke through prophets and today he uses his Holy Spirit. One of the many mistakes I have made in my life was that while I claimed to be a christian, I had no relationship with God. I didn’t read the Bible, prayed only when it would benefit me, and didn’t seek God’s direction until something big came up. No wonder why I didn’t seem to hear an answer; there was no relationship. God was listening, I wasn’t. God wanted a relationship, I was selfish.

Having a relationship with God the Father, his son Jesus, and The Spirit is a result of active participation; listening, obeying, seeking, yielding. I was reminded of King David today by my mom and how he faced countless adverse situations but had tremendous faith. In 2 Samuel 5:17-25, David followed this pattern:

  1. Inquired of the Lord as to what he should do. (verses 19, 23)
  2. Obeyed God’s voice. (verses 20, 25)

How beautiful it is when we live this out today as we inquire to the Lord, listen, and then obey. It is very evident in my close relationships where there is an obedience to God. Special thanks to some of those impactful friends recently whether it be through prayer, listening, kind words, or acts of service: Amy, Mike, BJ, Duane, Rick, my mom, my sisters Marne and Katie. Your obedience is bearing good fruit. Thank you!!!

Joshua 22; Acts 2; Jeremiah 11; Matthew 25

Extra Credit:

  1. Today’s scripture reading had multiple references to God calling us to listen and obey. Re-read them and consider where God may be calling you to listen and obey. Seeing this pattern helped me remember how serious God is about his commands. If he says “listen”, since he is a faithful and true God, that means that he is giving us a way to listen, but we must actively participate. Here are the verses: Joshua 22:2, Jeremiah 11:2-4, Jeremiah 11:6-7.
  2. Check out this prayer one of my friends sent to me after I asked him for some prayer over a certain situation the other morning. This left me in awe, humbled, thankful and joyful and was another reminder of someone being filled with the Holy Spirit, listening and obeying. Praise God for putting real friends in my path; friends who care about me! Is there someone in your life who needs prayer? Why not text or email them a specific prayer over them right now? Here’s the prayer:

God You are the Creator. You are holy and set apart. We are sinners God. Would you please forgive us of our sins. God please also forgive those that sin against us. God we forgive them. God we need You. We like sheep, do not know what is best for us. God would you send Your Spirit to fill us up? God would you fill Jon up this morning with Your Spirit. Got would you push everything else out? Would you fill him up to overflowing so that even those who see him coming from afar would see You through him and for Your glory? God would you empower Jon this morning to abide in Your fruit; love, joy peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. God would you help Jon love people with the love of Christ that he’s been given; patience; kindness; without envy; without boasting; without pride; with rightness toward others; with selflessness and humility putting others first; not quick to anger; with no evil thought; rejoicing with the truth; protecting; trusting; hoping? God would you uphold Jon’s words, guarding his mouth and not letting his words fall to the ground? Would you fill him with integrity LORD? God we rely completely on You. We come under Your protection and provision as Your servants LORD. God would you bless Jon and increase his territory? Would you place Your hand upon him and keep him from evil? God to me this feels like a long list. I know you have all these good things to give to those who ask for them. God would you pour them out upon your servant Jon this morning and for all his life? We humble ourselves God. Thank You LORD! You are good! You are worthy of all glory and honor and power for You have created all things and for Your pleasure they are and were created!

Scottish Granny

Exodus 36; John 15; Proverbs 12; Ephesians 5

In 2003, I had the opportunity to spend several months on a business trip in Edinburgh, Scotland. My wife Amy went with me (this was before kids) and since we were going to be settling in for several months, Amy went looking for some activities to engage in. To everyone’s surprise, and perhaps due to limited options, Amy signed up for a sewing class. In that class, Amy’s sewing partner was a woman named Isabel Burns who was 70+ years young.

This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:17)

Isabel and Amy became fast friends, I think merely for the reason that they are both so sweet, loving, kind, and giving. It isn’t typical in today’s society for a youngster (at the time, Amy was 27) to gain new close friends who are 40+ years older than us. A more typical response might be some initial kindness to the elderly but then go on our way to do our own thing, never looking back.

Amy didn’t have John 15:17 in mind when she met Isabel, but I believe no matter where we stand as far as our beliefs or closeness to God at the time, His truth and commands always stand firm and provide meaning in our lives. Meaning, when we are truly, selflessly loving each other we are obeying what we are called by Jesus to do; we are in some way connecting to him whether we know it or not. We were made to love people, and when we do that, beautiful things happen; we become light in the darkness, we find purpose and true joy.

When it was time to say goodbye (or see you later), these ladies knew they had a special friendship so they decided to stay in touch. They traded hand-written letters and made several phone calls over the years like good old dear friends do.

Fast forward to 2010. Amy knew in her heart that it was time to see Isabel again so she pooled some money together with her mom, and offered to help fund an American adventure for Isabel. Isabel delightfully accepted to fly across the pond, even though she had never flown or even left Scotland in her life.

Isabel stayed with us for a few weeks and became part of the family. The boys weren’t sure how to refer to her so we all agreed that Scottish Granny sounded like a perfect name. The boys had so much fun with her, except we couldn’t get her to stop playing the Wii!

Isabel-Peyton-wii_1June2010

Isabel opened up to us through our time together, sharing that when she was only 27 years old, her beloved husband Frank passed away suddenly, which left her to raise three young boys on her own. I cannot imagine the heartache and what that devastating loss must have been like. Isabel is this smiling, grateful, joyful spirited woman, and I’ve seen no bitterness in her. She further shared that even after all these years, she has never taken off her wedding ring as there would be no other man for her.

As part of this trip we brought her to Michigan to meet some of our friends and family members. Of course, everyone who met Isabel instantly fell in love with her. Don’t worry, they didn’t make her work too hard…

Carrie-Isabel-Chuck

Soon it was time to say our teary goodbyes and again part with Scottish Granny as she made her journey back to Scotland.

scottishgranny

We’ve been able to keep in touch with Isabel over the years, and while far away she has remained close in our hearts. During a phone call around Christmas 2015, Amy felt prompted that it was time to see Isabel again. Isabel’s vision was on the decline and she’s had trouble walking, so it was best for Amy to make plans to visit her in Scotland. Amy announced the journey through a video call, and Isabel went from somewhat lethargic to thrilled beyond belief; both ladies having tears of joy to know that they would soon be reunited. Young Peyton, a lifelong map-lover and world-travel-dreamer somehow worked his way onto the itinerary, and the plans were set. Amy and Peyton would arrive into Edinburgh on Thursday, March 24th 2016.

Then some concerning news came. Five days prior to their departure, we were made aware that Isabel had finally been scheduled to have some much needed surgery the day that Amy was to arrive. The surgery date could not be moved so Amy shifted her plans from an apartment visit to a hospital visit.

As I finalize this journal post on the day of Isabel’s surgery and Amy and Peyton’s arrival in Edinburgh, I have this faith that God is very much at work in this situation, and I have no idea as to what is to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with Isabel as we eagerly anticipate the results of her surgery. I am missing Amy and Peyton, but I know they are having a fantastic time and in good hands.

A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, (Proverbs 12:4a)

If you know Amy at all, you know she loves to travel, but she is on this trip giving her time and resources to give love to a friend. I learn so much from her in the way she selflessly loves, gives, and listens; she is a crown for her husband, and I’m so thankful to call her my wife. She is doing what she was designed to do, and prayerfully seeking God’s will to continue to be a witness to this woman Isabel.

Today we are observing Good Friday, reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He did this because he loves us. He performed the ultimate act of love by offering his life for those who will call him friend.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

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