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Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to be (and not be) a fool.
First off, I agree with those of you thinking it.  I am an expert at this.   Hebrews tells us that the Old Testament gives us an image, in physical form, of spiritual realities.  With that in mind, read 1 Samuel 25.  Here we get an image of both how to be a fool and how to over come foolishness.   We meet two characters.  The first is Nabal.  He is the husband of Abigail.  He owns property and is pretty well off financially. He is also a fool.  The second character is Abigail, Nabal’s wife.  She is wise and skilled at overcoming her husband’s foolishness.  I let you read the story.  Here’s what I learned. How to be a fool:
  1. Be ignorant.
    1. In verse 10, Nabal pretends to not know David.  He pretends to be ignorant and in his disrespect, displays his ignorance.
    2. Fools conveniently forget what they know and refuse to learn what they can know.
  2. Be disrespectful.
    1. In verse 10 and 11, Nabal show great disrespect to David. He calls him an escaped slave.
    2. Fools perceive everyone around them as inferior.  They owe no deference to anyone.
  3. Be greedy.
    1. In verse 11, Nabal refuses to share his abundance with David who had provided him a service.  His response in essence is “it’s mine, all mine”.
    2. Fools hoard and have difficulty sharing.
  4. Be unapproachable.
  5. Be unreasonable.
    1. In verse 17, Nabal’s servant goes to Nabal’s wife rather than his master.  He is convinced that Abigail will listen and can be reasoned with (unlike his master – Nabal).
    2. Fools drive people away.  They know it all and can’t be told anything.  There is a logic all their own and everyone else is stupid for not understanding it.
  6. Alienate those closest to you.
    1. In verse 25, Abigail confesses to David her experience with Nabal.  We might even assume that Nabal is abusive.
    2. Fools live in their own world.  No one else is on their radar screen.  No one else matters.  No one else is considered.
  7. Be undisciplined and self indulgent.
    1. In verse 36, Nabal goes ahead with a party without his wife.  He gets drunk.  When Nabal should be thanking his wife for saving his life and family, he is over indulging his appetites and doesn’t even know she is missing.
    2. Fools won’t say “no” to themselves.  They will do what they want, when they want, as much as they want and their “Wanter” is only focused on themselves.
  How to overcome a fool (and be wise):
  1. Be thoughtful.
    1. In verse 17, Nabal’s servant has told Abigail the whole story.  She thinks about it.  Understands the situation.
    2. The Wise are open minded, listen to others, and consider all the information and facts.
  2. Be approachable.
    1. In verse 14, Abigail is the one sought out. 
    2. The Wise are places of refuge in times of need.  They are sources of insight, counsel, and compassion.
  3. Be quick to prepare/respond/or repair.
    1. In verse 18, Abigail does wait for something to happen to her nor does she seek permission to do what needs to be done.  She knows time is of the essence and prepares an appropriate response.  It is probably as much or more than what was required in the beginning.
    2. The Wise don’t let time waste.  They don’t let misunderstandings fester.  They don’t give injuries time to become infected before they are treated.
  4. Be careful what you say and to whom you say it.
    1. In verses 19 and 24-31, Abigail says only what needs to be said and says it only to those who need and want to hear it. She speaks in a way that the hearer wants to respond to it.
    2. The Wise, because they are thoughtful, use words as carefully as they spend money…the right amount, in the right currency, on the right things.
  5. Be respectful and humble.
    1. In verse 23, Abigail throws herself on the ground before David.  She sees David as deserving of respect and herself as a servant to him.
    2. The Wise see others as more important than themselves.
  6. Take responsibility.
    1. In verse 24, Abigail tells David it is her fault.
    2. It is hard to be mad at someone who admits they are wrong.  The Wise diffuse tense situations by claiming responsibility.
  7. Give the offended a reason to listen and reconsider.
    1. In verse 25, David is angry enough to kill Nabal but Abigail gives him a reason to stop and reconsider.  She explains that she wasn’t there when David’s men came.
    2. The Wise understand that everyone can get carried away in the emotion of a moment.  They give others a reason to pause and reconsider.
  8. Be complimentary.
    1. In verse 26, Abigail pronounces a blessing for David in the form of a curse on those who would oppose him.
    2. The Wise seek the best interest of others.
  9. Be generous.
    1. In verse 27, Abigail gives David a present.  It may have been in addition to what the servants had already taken to David.
    2. The Wise go above and beyond what is expected in giving of themselves and their resources.
  10. Be “Other Oriented”.
    1. In verse 28, Abigail isn’t as concerned about herself as she is David’s state of mind.
    2. The Wise are focused on the needs of others.
  11. Be available.
    1. In verse 31, Abigail puts herself at David’s disposal.
    2. The Wise seek to serve.
  12. Be sincere.
    1. In verse 41, Abigail shares how she feels.
    2. The Wise are sincere.  No show, no pandering.  Honesty.
  13. Be prompt and timely.
    1. Verse 42 tells us that Abigail “quickly” got ready.
    2. The Wise respect others by being on time and valuing the time of others.
 There are consequences to everything we do.  In Nabal’s case, the consequence was his death.  In Abigail’s case, the consequence was becoming the wife of David, the King.  The Wise will find themselves in high places because of their wisdom.  Fools are destined for destruction.
1:31 pm est 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Prayer
I've been reading the book "Elders and Leaders" by Gene Getz with the Leadership team of Journey Church of Columbus.  Chapter six deals with the topic of praying as a responsibility of elders.  I'll save the discussion of "Elder" for another entry.  What captured me was the exercise of reading the book the James as instructed by Mr. Getz prior to reading chapter 6 of his book.

I have read and study James before.  This reading however was from the perspective of praying.  I was reading with the questions "When should we be praying or for what should we praying?" and "How do we pray effectively?".  This brought a new dimension to James' epistle.

To keep it short, here's is what I discovered in answer to my questions...

When should we pray? (or For what?)
James 1:5 - When lacking wisdom;
James 3:9 - When praising the Lord;
James 4:2 - When you want something;
James 4:8 - When you want to draw close to God and know Him better;
James 4:15 - When you want to know His plans for you;
James 5:13 - When you are in trouble;
James 5:14 - When you are ill;
James 5:16 - When we participate in each other's lives.

Prayer is a thread that runs through James.  If it is the (or a) thread of what God thought was important, How can we be effective?

James 1:6 - Have no doubt;
James 1:19 - Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry;
James 1:21 - Discard the sordid things in our lives.  Discard the wicked excesses.;
James 1:21 - Meekly accept God's message (also see 1:6, 19);
James 1:22 - Act on God's message (also see 1:6; 2:13-26);
James 1:26 - Bridle your tongue (also see 3:1-12; 1:19);
James 1:27 - Look after widows and orphans;
James 1:27 - Keep yourself untarnished (also see 1:21);
James 2:1 - Be impartial;
James 2:12 - Speak and act as men whoa re to be judged under the law (Also see 1:19);
James 3:13 - Right conduct (Also see 4:17);
James 3:14 - Harbor no jealousy, no rivalry (also see 2:1);
James 3:18 - Practice peace;
James 4:3 - Have right motives;
James 4:4 - Love God not the world;
James 4:11 - Don't judge (Vs. 11-12);
James 4:15 - Seek God's will;
James 5:7 - Be patient (also see 1:19);
James 5:12 - No oaths (only "Yes" or "No");
James 5:14 - Annoint with oil in Jesus' name;
James 5:16 - Confess your sins (see 1:21; 1:27; 3:13; 4:3).

Prayer is communicating with God.  If we are NOT in proper relationship with God, we make it difficult for God "hear" us and very difficult for us to "hear" God (By the way the most used form of communication with God in both the Old and New Testament is listening to God).  God's admonition deliverd through James is live right, pray frequently, be sincere (in and out of prayer).  This is how we can draw close to God and know His plans for us.

Of all the missions and ministries we can have, prayer is our best, our highest, our most effective form of serving God and His purposes.
3:18 pm est 


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