Christian Life, Christmas, Ministry — December 20, 2016 at 9:03 am

Sharing The Joy Of The Lord: Our Strength

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by Rev. Dr. Daniel Iselaiye, ECWA USA Chairman – Let the love of Jesus Christ move you to even love those people that our society has branded as “unlovable.”

Merry Christmas!

Our story is taken from 2 Samuel, chapter 9, where David shows kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth.  This message is written to remind us to show mercy to someone this Christmas and throughout the New Year, 2017.  This is one of the powerful ways to be like Christ.  Remember also that all human beings have only one way to have joy, that is, by giving it to others.  No one can have real joy and keep it to oneself. If you have it, you will give it to others and you lose nothing by giving it to others.  If you intend to keep it, you will lose it or we can assume that you have not really got it from the beginning.  It is like the spring of water that wells out to give life to others.  Joy is a test of the Christian life, particularly as the joy of the Lord is deemed our strength.  Let’s examine what we can do to have joy.  David gives us an example to follow.

Show Kindness to others for Jesus’ sake:    David said, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? “Needless to say that David and Jonathan were very good friends even when Saul (Mephibosheth’ s grandfather) was planning to kill David.  Saul and his son, Jonathan, both died in war.  Saul’s family was to be completely destroyed but Mephibosheth, the lame child survived to live in Lo-debar in fear.  David remembered his relationship with Jonathan as a friend.  Thus he decided to show kindness to his friend’s son, Mephibosheth.  If you are a friend of Christ, it is important that you keep that love burning in your heart by showing kindness or mercy to someone this Christmas and the New Year.  As we remember our relationship with Christ, someone is bound to benefit from that relationship.  Jesus emphasized the point when He said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).  The joy of Christ comes to you as you show mercy to others.

King David asked, “Is there anyone left from the family of Saul to whom I can show some godly kindness? (2 Samuel 9:3).  One was discovered, Jonathan’s son, lame in both feet.  King David’s godly kindness was intentional.  He planned in his heart to do good – the kind of good that would make a difference forever in the life of another person.  He reached out to the one he wanted to help.  In some cases we expect people who need our help to come to us begging.  We expect them to show up at our doors.  This wasn’t so with Jesus who made himself a gift to people.  Christian love moves from the inside out like a centrifugal force.  It moves from the center to reach out to others.  This is the reason we should not expect people to always come to us even though having the real love will be attractive to people.  Thus David sent out someone to “fetch” the one he wanted to help get out of Lo-debar, a place which means “no pasture” or “no communication,” as the name suggests.   It is assumed then that Mephibosheth had been cut off from others as a result of poverty, suffering, and fear.  He was in a desert place.  Here was a man who was both lame and poor, his family wiped out and dispossessed.  So, he found himself in Lo-debar (a place of no pasture). 

King David had a plan that would forever change Mephibosheth’s life for the better.  Let us read this interesting story again from “The Bible in Contemporary Language” (Eugene H. Peterson):

The king asked, “Is there anyone left from the family of Saul to whom I can show some godly kindness?”
Ziba told the king, “Yes, there is Jonathan’s son, lame in both feet.”
“Where is he?”
“He is living at the home of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
King David didn’t lose a minute.  He sent and got him from the home of Mikir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.
When   Mephibosheth son of Jonathan {who was the son of Saul), came before David, he bowed deeply, abasing himself, honoring David.
David spoke his name:  “Mephibosheth.”
“Yes sir?”
“Don’t be frightened,” said David.  “I’d like to do something special for you in memory of your father Jonathan.  To begin with, I’m returning to you all the properties of your grandfather Saul.  Furthermore, from now on you’ll take all your meals at my table.”
Shuffling and stammering, not looking him in the eye, Mephibosheth said, “Who am that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?”
David then called in Ziba, Saul’s right hand man, and told him, “Everything that belong to Saul and his family, I’ve handed over to your master’s grandson.  You and your sons and your servants will work his land and bring in the produce, provisions for your master’s grandson.  Mephibosheth himself, your master’s grandson, from now on will take all his meals at my table.”  Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
“All that my master the king has ordered his servant,” answered Ziba,” your servant will surely do.”
And Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the royal family {2 Samuel 9:3-12).

Let the love of Jesus Christ move you to even love those people that our society has branded as “unlovable.”  The love of Christ in you makes the unlikely likely and the impossible possible.  Jesus’ love works miracles for you and for others.  It is hard to explain what happens when one shares the joy of Christ with others.  Sandra gave a precious gift to Beth during Christmas.  Thinking of how with the gift she would be able to keep the house warm and buy food and gifts for her children, she burst into tears and cried for joy.  Sandra moved towards her to hug her and within a minute the two began to cry.  It was a joyful cry.  It was as if Jesus was there putting his hands around them and crying with them.  Love has become the litmus test for our spirituality.  Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command:  Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another.  This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:34-35).

Jesus Addresses Christians as Friends:  As friends of Jesus, we are expected to do what we do for Jesus’ sake.  Think about the relationship between love and joy.  Jesus said,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my command, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one like this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and I appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. 

Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  This is my command:  Love each other (John 15:9-17).

Are we ready to work with God to care for others instead of being so self-occupied as to neglect others who may need our help?  We can change the desert in one’s life into a place of pasture.  We maintain our joy as we bring joy to others.  Blessings come to us in the process and God is glorified.  May the joy of the Lord be our strength.

 

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