Every Day The man who would be king Jeff Lucas Copyright ÂŠ CWR 2011 Published 2011 by CWR, Waverley Abbey House, Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8EP, UK Tel: 01252 784700 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Registered Charity No. 294387 Registered Limited Company No. 1990308 Front cover image: Getty Images/Cultura/moodboard Concept development, editing, design and production by CWR. Printed in England by Linney Print. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing of CWR. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV), copyright ÂŠ 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society.
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how to get the best out of Lucas on life every day
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I’ve attended thousands of services, public meetings and gatherings in my time, but this is one I can’t attend, although I will, in one sense, be present. Forgive what sounds like a riddle: I’m talking about my own funeral. While a box containing the shell that housed me in life will be there, I won’t be. And so if, God willing, anyone says something kind about me or my life, I won’t hear it. Shame. It’s a pity we can’t have a sneak peek at our eulogies; we might be encouraged. That makes me wonder: what could I hope for from any eulogy that might be shared on that day? Would it be that words I’ve penned have been helpful or, as a preacher, that I’ve made people laugh, cry and think, and I’ve helped them to grow in life and faith? Perhaps. But I’ve decided that the greatest tribute would be to say that I was a good friend; a faithful friend to my wife, children and grandchildren, and to those I’ve walked with through the years. In one of the most eloquent and poetic eulogies of the Bible, David was able to describe his epic friendship with Jonathan and the love Jonathan had for him as ‘wonderful’ – the word can also be translated ‘delightful’. There’s nothing casual or cursory about this tribute. Jonathan’s passing left a huge gap in David’s heart – he would be dearly missed. To be called a wonderful, delightful friend – now that’s a healthy ambition. Find a way to show ‘wonderful’ love to a friend today. God’s love is wonderful – and it’s often shown through us. Prayer: Lord, I praise You for Your faithful, wonderful love: help me to pass it around today. Amen.
THURS 01 SEP
2 Samuel 1:17–26 Psalm 31:21 FOCUS
‘I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful.’ (2 Sam. 1:26)
God’s love is wonderful …
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FRI 02 SEP
2 Samuel 1:17–26 Philippians 4:1–9 FOCUS
‘I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother.’ (2 Sam. 1:26)
I confess it jarred me then, when I first became a Christian, and still does now – the habit Christians have of referring to each other as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’, especially when the word is followed by a surname. ‘Brother Lucas’ makes me feel like a monk, and seems formal. Even ‘Brother Jeff’ irks me for no rational reason I can think of. While I simply like to be addressed by my name (Jeff, please, not Jeffrey – only my mother calls me that, and my wife when I’m in her bad books), there is a beautiful reality behind these family terms: we really are part of the family of God. The Church is more than a club or mutual interest group – we have been adopted into God’s kingdom family. Even as David was not Jonathan’s natural brother, but had become like a brother to him, so we can build close and loyal friendships. At times, it can seem as though we have a closeness to our new family in Christ that we don’t even share with our natural family. As Scripture points out, there are friends who are closer than our own natural brothers and sisters (Prov. 18:24). Paul the apostle consistently celebrated the joy of being part of this family, using the terms ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ repeatedly in his letters. Let’s build friendships of real depth and substance. The family of God is a warm, welcome oasis in a world that can be chillingly lonely. Of course, there is one benefit from calling each other simply ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ – it’s great when you can’t remember someone’s name … Prayer: Lord, I want to be a friend, not a contact or an acquaintance. Help me to be a friend who sticks close. Amen.
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03/04 SEP 2 Samuel 1:17–26 // 1 Timothy 5:1–2
Brothers, not lovers All this talk from David about Jonathan’s love for him being ‘more wonderful than that of women’ has led some to suggest that theirs was a homosexual relationship. But the text doesn’t imply that. The Hebrew word used for ‘love’ here is not primarily sexual. And David was thoroughly, and at times overenthusiastically, heterosexual, as his affair with Bathsheba proved. Both men were married with children. While debates continue to rage in the Church about the Christian attitude towards homosexuality (and many thoughtless words are written about this issue, causing much hurt), the tenor of the rest of the Old Testament does not encourage such an interpretation. Commentators note that the reference to ‘the love of women’ includes the love between mothers and sons as well as between husbands and wives. It’s sad that we so quickly assume that any deep friendship must have a physical side, whether homosexual or heterosexual. In a culture where physical contact is mistaken for sexual intimacy, let’s demonstrate that love and sex are not the same.
… love and sex are not the same
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To ponder: The biblical model of masculinity allowed for intimacy, expression and tears – does ours?
MON 05 SEP
What’s in a name?
1 Samuel 13:2 Philippians 1:3–11 FOCUS
‘And a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin.’ (1 Sam. 13:2)
If you’ve got good friends, be grateful …
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I’m not inclined to read too much into the meaning of people’s names – sometimes the name doesn’t describe the person who bears the name at all. I’ve met a few people called Patience who did not display any, and just because someone goes by the name of Grace is no guarantee that there will be any grace around. But, as we go back to the beginning of Jonathan’s story, the meaning of his name is worth considering for a moment, because it means ‘God has given’. Jonathan was both a blessing and a gift to David, sometimes proving to be the key to his success and survival. Jonathan was also a gift as a son to his father, Saul, and occasionally had to try to steer him away from disaster. I certainly view the few very close friendships I have as gifts from the hand of God – after all, if God is the giver of leadership gifts to His Church (Eph. 4:11) then surely He is able to join us in heart with friends with whom we can walk for the rest of our lives. And seeing them as God’s gifts to us will affect our attitude to them when times of conflict come and our cherished friendships are under threat. If you’ve got good friends, be grateful because, in a lonely world, you’re rich. And if you have friendships that have stood the test of time, then you’re a relational billionaire: treasure them. I’ve seen too many inseparable friendships unravel over the years. In some cases, intimacy can fade, only to be replaced by distance – and even hostility. Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gifts of friendship I enjoy. May I treat my friends as blessings from Your hand. Amen.
CWR ministry events Please pray for the team
5–16 Sep Ministry Trip Singapore CWR team 8 Sep Insight into Dementia Waverley Abbey House Rosemary Hurtley 12 Sep Pastoring People through Life’s Crises WAH Andy Peck, Lynn Penson, Peter Jackson 16 Sep Developing Pastoral Care (course starts) WAH Philip Greenslade, Andy Peck, Lynn Penson and guest speaker 20 Sep The Inner World of the Leader WAH Andy Peck 23 Sep Managing Your Time WAH Andy Peck 23–25 Sep Women’s Weekend – Rhythms of Grace WAH Lynn Penson, Lynette Brooks, Ros Derges 26 Sep Certificate/Diploma of Christian London School of Owen Ashley, Richard Pickles Counselling – courses start Theology Lyn Bertie and team 26 Sep MA in Integrative Psychotherapy LST Janet Penny 27 Sep Church Leaders’ Forum WAH Andy Peck and Philip Greenslade 3 Oct BA Counselling Year 3 starts WAH Irene Davies and team 4 Oct Women’s Autumn Day – WAH Lynn Penson The Father Heart of God 8 Oct Taking a Look at the Old Testament (1) WAH Elizabeth Hodkinson 11 Oct How to Disciple Others WAH Andy Peck 14–16 Oct Marriage on Track WAH Andrew & Lynn Penson 18 Oct Insight into Anger WAH Chris Ledger 21–23 Oct Bible Discovery Weekend – WAH Philip Greenslade (Proverbs/Job) 22 Oct Understanding Yourself, WAH Andrew & Lynn Penson Understanding Others 24 Oct BA Counselling – Year 1 starts WAH Irene Davies and team 31 Oct – 1 Nov Women’s Event – You Prepare a Table WAH Lynn Penson & Jeannette Barwick Before Me
For full details phone 01252 784719, international +44 (0)1252 784719 or see the CWR website for further information
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TUES 06 SEP
1 Samuel 14:49–50 1 Samuel 20:30 FOCUS
‘Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!”’ (1 Sam. 20:30)
… it’s time to stop blaming our history …
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The way a child is brought up can have profound lasting effects on his or her character, and abusive childhoods usually result in lifelong serious consequences. That said, I sometimes wonder if our culture is too quick to shift the blame when crimes are committed; it’s too easy to lay the burden of guilt on bad parenting rather than acknowledge that the criminal needs to be held responsible. Jonathan was a young man of excellent character, but his family background was dysfunctional. His father, Saul, was an angry, unpredictable and insecure man, infamous for his temper tantrums and consuming jealousy. And although we don’t know much about Ahinoam, Saul’s wife and Jonathan’s mother, we do know that there was hostility and tension between Jonathan’s parents. Consider Saul’s outburst to Jonathan: ‘You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!’ Some deep-seated resentment had eaten away the heart of this marriage. Jonathan was not blessed with a happy, harmonious childhood home. And yet he was courageous, kind and tender-hearted. Without in any way wanting to diminish the pain of those who have been hurt in the past, we do need to gently affirm that, in Christ, there is help and healing. None of us is condemned to sameness: healing and change are possible through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Perhaps it’s time to find some prayerful help for the pain you feel from your history. And I say this with some hesitation, and with love: perhaps, for some of us, it’s time to stop blaming our history for what we are now. Prayer: Set me free from shackles from the past, mighty God. Whatever my history, may I know Your transforming grace today. Amen.
There’s another vital fact to remember about Jonathan – he was Saul’s eldest son, and therefore the heir to the throne, with all the power, prestige and high expectations that came with such a prospect before him. And that single fact makes his friendship with David the commoner even more remarkable. Not only was this member of the royal family eager to build friendship with a humble shepherd, but he also recognised very quickly that the hand of God was upon David as it had originally been on his father. But there was no conflict, no threat of political assassination, as often happened in those days. The opposite was the case. Jonathan was willing to recognise and affirm God’s promotion of David – even though it meant he would be demoted. Contrast that selflessness with the insane jealousy of Saul, who was desperate to hold on to his kingship. Then we can see what a humble, gracious man Jonathan was. A truly selfless person not only celebrates with us when we do as well as they do, but is also able to be truly glad when we do even better. But it takes even greater humility and grace to celebrate the blessing of another when it directly involves a cost to us. Has someone else been promoted or recognised – and you were hoping for that applause and recognition? Have you had to face up to a limitation of your own gifts and abilities – but there are others around you who seem to have more talent and greater opportunities? May you find grace to smile – and not just through gritted teeth.
WED 07 SEP
Son and heir
1 Samuel 23:17 1 Samuel 20:30 FOCUS
‘“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”’ (1 Sam. 23:17)
Prayer: Lord, when others succeed, may I find grace to truly celebrate – especially when I fail or am overlooked. Amen.
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