"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Raising The Standard: Availability Is Rejecting Ambitions That Hinder Us From Being Where We Are Needed

"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." ~ Matthew 6:24
Being available is a practical evidence that we are under the authority of the one we serve. Availability requires us to be where we are needed, when we are needed. It means that the one we are serving can count on us. Scripture provides an important illustration of a servant who was not available when he was needed. The one whom he served suspected that personal ambitions were involved. Personal ambition is the enemy of availability. That is why it is vital to reject any ambitions that might hinder us from being where we are needed. The service we give is often measured by the degree of sacrifice required to give it. Who was given a treasure when he expected death but lost half of it when he failed to give service in the right place at the right time? Mephibosheth. His clothes were dirty and worn, and his feet stank. His hair and beard were matted and unkempt. Clothes, feet, hair, and beard would actually be evidence in an approaching trail. He was sure that his future wealthy --- possibly even his life --- depended on this evidence. Jerking the reins of his donkey, he nervously approached the royal procession. The king stared at him. There was an awkward silence before the king asked, "Where were you when I needed you?" This was the grave question that he must answer. Months earlier, he had not been available for service when this king was in desperate need. The king's own son had led an organized rebellion, and the king had been forced to flee for his life. He expected this servant to accompany him with his other faithful men. This servant's support and encouragement would have been a special comfort on that day of humiliation when so many of his trusted friends turned against him. It was especially important that this servant declare his loyalty to the king at that time. His grandfather had been the previous king, and the people were still divided in their loyalties to the leadership. By remaining in the royal city, this servant had really failed to declare his loyalty during the civil war. An assistant of this servant brought food to the king when he was forced to leave the city and at that time accused his master of having personal ambitions to become the king himself. The king rewarded the assistant by turning over to him the lands he had previously given the servant. Now that servant must explain why he failed to be where he was needed. The man made his defense. He claimed that he had intended to come to the king but that his assistant had deceived him and then slandered his intentions. In order to prove that he was innocent of the charge, he had not bathed his feet, washed his clothes, or cut his hair or beard since the day the king left. Well acquainted with the signs of disloyalty, the king weight both sides. He was familiar with the actions of those who make extra efforts to give service when it is needed. Everyone waited for the king's decision. In firm final tones he spoke. The servant and his assistant were to divide the land equally between themselves and, for the sake of a covenant made with the servant's father, the man was invited to return to the king's table. The fact that all the land was not returned to him was a personal rebuke from the king. The servant had not overcome personal obstacles to render service when and where it was needed. This servant was lame in both feet, and his name was Mephibosheth. ~ From 2 Samuel 9:1-13; 16:1-4; 19:24-30
Why Did David Want Mephibosheth To Accompany Him Out Of Jerusalem?
It is clear that Mephibosheth would be of no military help to David since he was lame in both feet (2 Samuel 9:13). On the contrary, Mephibosheth would have been a burden to care for under the circumstances. There was, however, a very good reason why David wanted Mephibosheth to accompany him. Many in Israel were still loyal to the family of King Saul and wanted his heir to regain the throne. Support for Saul's family would come from the neighboring tribes of Benjamin and probably from Jabesh-gilead on the east of the Jordan (cf. 2 Samuel 16:5; 1 Samuel 31:11-13). By leaving Jerusalem with David, Mephibosheth would have declared his loyalty and signalled this contingent to support David rather than Absalom.
Did Mephibosheth Really Have Ambitions To Become The King Of Israel?
Although Mephibosheth was the sole heir of Jonathan, the natural successor of Saul, it is hard to believe that he felt he could ascend the throne --- even with the remote possibly that Absalom and David would kill each other off. The powerful tribe of Judah would never rally behind a crippled member of the small tribe of Benjamin. David's sons remained to contend with for the kingship. One of the main reasons that Israel desired a king in the first place was for him to go out before them and fight their battles (1 Samuel 8:20). In addition, everything we know about Mephibosheth indicates that he was a timid person with no aspirations whatsoever. When he first appeared before David he cowered in fear, comparing himself to a dead dog (2 Samuel 9:8). No semblance of a rebellion is recorded either during or after the war on the part of Mephosheth or the Benjamites. When David restored him to half of his father's land, Mephibosheth was willing to let Ziba keep it all (2 Samuel 19:30). It seems that he was more interested in preserving his life than his property or his grandfather's throne.
Who Was Telling The Truth, Mephibosheth Or Ziba?
What new evidence did David discover that caused him to reconsider his original decision made when Ziba accused Mephibosheth of treason? Certainly the personal testimony of Mephibosheth was not an adequate defence in the case of a man accused of treason. We learn not from the mouth of Ziba nor form the mouth of Mephibosheth the following fact: "And Mephibosheth, the son of Saul, came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace." (2 Samuel 19:24) David's apparent conclusion was that Mephibosheth was a coward. He chose no sides, so that if Absalom was to win the battle, his life might be spared. He had just demonstrated his ability to travel without Zibz's help. Ziba had also deceived David in order to obtain possession of the land which he had controlled after the death of Saul and then had to return it to Mephibosheth. Neither men had told the complete truth, and as a result David divided the land in half. The first white me to see the wild turkey of North America were sixteenth-century Spanish explorers. They brought the bird back to their homeland about 1519 and domesticated it. The turkey spread rapidly, was carried throughout Europe, and reached Germany by 1530. Shortly afterwards it came to England. It is interesting to note that nearly a century later Englishmen brought this domesticated relative of the wild turkey back to America to provide food for the early settlers. The wild turkey is almost identical in appearance to its domesticated counterpart except that it is much slimmer. The wild turkey is the largest game bird found in North America. It can weigh as much as twenty to twenty-five pounds and lives nine years or more, reaching full maturity at the age of two.
How Does The Turkey Illustrate Availability By being Where It Is Needed?
As it scratched through the leaves the bird ate every bit of food it could find. It was preparing for a very special responsibility --- one which would affect many others. It was never in better condition than now, and the more it ate the more it ensured this strength.
One day it was put to the test. Early in the morning, before it left its roost in the tree, it began to gobble. It was proclaiming to the males that this was its territory. The call also notified the females that it was available. A young tom in the area was aroused by the proclamation and came to contest the gobbler's domain. It is through combat that the position of dominance is established in the community. The victorious bird has the responsibility of servicing the females. Healthy offspring are assured by having strong, healthy parents. If this young male won, it would unseat the older gobbler which for the last two years had had the prestige of maintaining the number one position in the pecking order. The gobbler jumped down from the roost and faced the young opponent. The birds positioned themselves, and with a flurry of feathers and wings the two collided. The fight was spirited, but the older gobbler soon overpowered its younger opponent. Its size and long experience in using its wings and spurs had made the crucial difference. The younger bird acknowledged defeat by retreating. Combat was not the major reason for this preparation, though. During the next month --- the mating season --- the gobbler would have extra demands on its time. It was important that nothing hinder it from being available when needed. At the yelp o9r cluck of an approaching female, the mail jumps off its roost to respond. At the end of three or four weeks, the females have finished laying all their eggs, after which time they begin incubation and no longer seek out the male. Only when no longer needed will it find some secluded place to take care of its own personal needs. To ensure its availability, the gobbler had taken steps to prepare for this time. Weeks before the mating season began, the male concentrated on feeding. The more it fed, the more its chest expanded. Soon it was bulging and formed what is known as a breast sponge. The sponge is made up of a mass of thick, cellular tissue. Because of this stored food, the gobbler was not concerned with its own feeding needs but rather could concentrate on being where it was needed to ensure strong, healthy offspring for future generations.

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