"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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Raising the Standard: Resourcefulness Is Extending My Ability To Give By Avoiding Entrapments

"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." ~ Proverbs 22:3
Living Lessons on Resourcefulness From The Pages Of Scripture:
The more we give, the more dangers there are of entrapments which will cut off our ability to give. Thus, one of the most important ingredients of resourcefulness is a practical working knowledge of human nature. By it we recognize when and how to give a gift, as well as discern what kind of a gift to give to avoid entrapments. A wise advisor to the king used the resource of understanding human nature to root out rebellion and restore the king. His resourcefulness has also greatly enriched our lives.
How Is Wisdom To Escape Entrapment Illustrated In Scripture?
An advisor to a king was asked to give counsel. The lives of thousands of people and the future of the kingdom itself would be determined by what he said. Who was he? Hushai. Fifty men ran down the street and called in unison, "Prepare the way for the prince." The royally dressed prince followed in his lavish chariot. He directed an entreating smile to bystanders who stared at this spectacle of pride and self-assertiveness. One bystander, however, was an advisor to the king. He carefully evaluated this scene. During the months that followed a strange heaviness settled over the land. Something ominous was in the air. One day a breathless runner reached the palace. He gave the shocking news of a major conspiracy. The king immediately sensed his danger and fled with his family and followers. On the way, he heard more foreboding news. His chief counselor had defected. When the king heard this, he cried out, "O Lord turn his counsel into foolishness." As if in answer to this prayer, a faithful advisor arrived. The king welcomed him and quickly sent him back to the city to try to counteract the wise advice that his former chief counselor would give the rebel leader. The faithful advisor returned to the capital and greeted the rebel leader when he triumphantly entered the city. He offered his counsel, and it was cautiously accepted. Soon the proud and new leader needed advice. How could he capture and kill the king? The king's former chief counselor told him what to do." Attack quickly and kill only the king." The king's faithful advisor knew that this plan would be successful. How could he convince the rebel leader not to carry it out? At that moment, the scene of this rebel leader in his chariot with fifty men attending him became significant. The counselor wisely said, "I would advise you to gather our entire nation together, and you lead the army out to battle against the king." The idea appealed to the vain rebel, and he gave orders to carry it out. When the chief counselor saw that his counsel was rejected, he went home and hanged himself. He knew that the rebel would be defeated and that he would be killed as a traitor. Meanwhile, exiled King David was given the time that he needed to regroup his forces and prepare for the battle. When the armies met, his rebel son's forces were defeated. Absalom tried to escape, but his head caught in the branches of an oak tree, and he was killed by Joab. The king had escaped entrapment because of the resourcefulness of his faithful counselor, Hushai. [From 2 Samuel 15-18]
What Does Hushai Teach Us About Friendship?
The fact that Hushai enjoyed an intimate friendship with David is indicated by repeated references as "David's friend." (See 2 Samuel 15:37; 16:16-17; 1 Chronicles 27:33.) One quality expected of a friendship is constancy. Most people have friends in good times (see Proverbs 14:20; 19:4, 6-7), but Hushai was the kind of friend "...that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24) and "...loveth at all times..." (Proverbs 17:17). David had been wounded by the betrayal of his son, his tribe, and his most effective advisor. Hushai's love, however, endured through adversity. Another aspect of friendship is tact, being sensitive to the feelings and mood of another. (See Proverbs 25:17-20; 27:14.) Solomon expressed this idea. "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Paul also spoke of it: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). "And it came to pass, that when David was come... behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head" (2 Samuel 15:32).
What Does Hushai Teach Us About Wisdom?
Both Ahithophel and Hushai had applied their hearts unto wisdom and had sought for it diligently. They were two of the wisest men in the entire nation. They could both assimilate facts and immediately perceive the very heart of a matter. They knew what questions to ask and what answers to listen for. In fact, Ahithophel had a greater reputation for wisdom than Hushai. But, Ahithophel used his superior skills for a wicked cause, and as a result Hushai was able to defeat him. Hushai teaches us that if we apply our skills in the work of the Lord, He will prosper our effort. Even if our abilities do not measure up to the abilities of others. he can effectively use what we consecrate to Him. Hushai teaches us that true wisdom comes from the Lord (see Proverbs 1:7; 9?10; 15:33), true wisdom may be asked of the Lord (see James 1:5), and true wisdom is able to "confound the wise." (See 1 Corinthians 1:27.)
What Strategy Did Hushai Use to Defeat Absalom and Ahithophel?
Hushai appealed to major weaknesses in Absalom's character. Absalom was proud. He had become accustomed to flattery because of his handsome appearance and beautiful hair. (See 2 Samuel 14:25-26.) He was fond of pomp and "...prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him" (2 Samuel 15:1). He sought the praise of men even at the expense of his father's reputation. (See 2 Samuel 15:2-6.) Hushai capitalized on these weaknesses by encouraging Absalom to visualize himself leading the huge and powerful army of Israel in attack. He envisioned for Absalom a glorious campaign with sure victory. The strategy was not only personally safer than Ahithophel's surprise attack, but it was much more dramatic. The advice of Hushai was adopted, which gave David the time that he needed to turn the situation around.
Illustrated in the World of Nature:
The muskellunge, or muskie, is a predator fish with a body about five to six times as long as it is around. Like other members of the pike family, it has a head shaped like a duck's bill. Its fins are set much farther back on its body than fins on other fish, and its sides are typically marked with dark vertical bars. A large muskie requires several acres of water to supply it with sufficient food. Growing from an egg one-tenth of an inch long, an average muskie reaches three to four feet in length. In its lifetime, it will have eaten over four tons of food.
How is the God-given Ability to Escape Entrapment Illustrated in the World of Nature?
A sleek, four and one half foot muskie slowly weaved his way through the tall underwater weeds. The muskie's olive green back matched the dark lake bottom, and rippled stripes on his sides blended with the water plants. Suddenly, he spotted what looked like a meal moving through the lily pads up near the surface. In a burst of speed he headed for the object. His six inch wide mouth opened and then closed across his intended meal. Too late, he realized that he had bitten onto a sharp pronged fishing lure. Several times before he had struck lures; however, each time he had been able to spit them out. This time a quick strong jerk sank the sharp hooks deep into his mouth. With a swift flick of his tail, he attempted to swim away. But now he was aware that he was no longer free. A taut line was connected to the lure that was hooked in his mouth. With great effort he tried to pull himself loose. Each time the taut line held him captive. He then changed his approach. With a swift run he broke the surface of the water and made a spectacular leap into the air. As he danced on the tip of his tail, he threw his head back and forth trying to fling the lure out of his mouth. Unsuccessful, he toppled back into the water with a splash. As the water closed in around him he dove for the bottom. He lay there motionless for several moments. Then he began to rise and swim straight toward the ominous hull from which the line came. He circled it again and again instinctively sensing that a tangled line would produce slackness which would give greater opportunity to fling the lure from his mouth. However, the line was kept free and he remained securely attached. As his powerful body began to tire he found himself being pulled toward the boat. He dove again and again in fruitless attempts to gain his freedom. Finally, with strength dissipated, the muskie was pulled into a net and hauled up into the boat. A cheer of delight echoed across the water as the hooks were removed from this trophy catch. Soon the motor on the boat was started, and the triumphant captor headed for the shore. Deep within the muskie, the instinct for escape stirred. He summoned one final burst of energy and without warning unleashed a mighty series of flips in the boat. His tail failed like a windmill. His sharp teeth were an awesome warning not to get near. On his one final leap he managed to throw himself over the side of the boat. The stunned fisherman helplessly watched as his prize disappeared below the surface of the water. Once again the great muskie had prolonged his life by resourcefully using his God-given abilities to escape entrapment.
The Characteristics of the Muskie in Scripture:
The unusual ability of the muskie to elude clever bait and even avoid capture when hooked is a characteristic that has rich spiritual application for every Christian. The muskie does not jump at every lure, just as the Christian should suspect and reject temptations.
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust..." ~ James 1:14
Even when snared, the muskie does not surrender in defeat, but gives his immediate and full attention to escape. God gives similar instruction to a man caught in a financial trap.
"Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself..." ~ Proverbs 6:4-5
When hooked, the muskie's first response is to flee. Often its strength and speed will break the line, and acids will cause the hook to eventually drop away. Scripture warns youths who are hooked by the allurements of immorality to "flee also youthful lusts..." (2 Timothy 2:22). If the muskie cannot break the line, it goes deep.
"Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water..."
~ Proverbs 20:5 The muskie's final lunge is an apt picture of our need to cry out to God when escape looks impossible.
"... Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" ~ Psalm 50:15

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