Friends for Life Part II

Steve Arterburn

David and Jonathan were committed to being channels of life to one another–which is amazing since under most circumstances these two would have been archrivals!

Do you remember their story?  Jonathan was the son of King Saul–the heir to the throne.  David was a young shepherd boy–chosen by God to take King Saul’s place as king.  This wasn’t because Jonathan lacked the character to be king but because his father Saul didn’t love or trust God.  On the contrary, when you read about Jonathan you will see in particular a man of great character. He wanted to honor his father.  Yet he loved his friend David.

How could such a friendship evolve or survive?  Their friendship was born of the fact that both Jonathan and David love the Lord.  Both trusted in God’s goodness.  So when life became complicated–like when Saul was trying to hunt down David and kill him–both David and Jonathan trusted in the Lord and his promises.  Only through the gift of spiritual friendship–a friendship rooted in God’s love and wisdom–could this be possible.

David and Jonathan made a covenant to under gird and support their friendship.  We aren’t given the specifics of the covenant, but it certainly included their commitment to God and to each other.  If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider taking steps to initiate this sort of friendship.

Samson

Steve Arterburn

The New Testament describes Samson as a man of faith.  It mentions neither his failures nor his great strength.  Though he possessed great physical strength, he was a moral weakling who followed his own selfish desires and ignored God.  Do you remember his story?  He was the man who foolishly loved Delilah?  

It seems that after the first three episodes of betrayal, Samson would’ve known not to trust Delilah.  But like many of us, Samson thought that giving into manipulation was an expression of love.  He chose to please Delilah and to get what he wanted from her, rather than to obey God and deliver his people.  Delilah chose to use her relationship with Samson for her own gain.  Most of us have experienced the pain of being used, and we have undoubtedly used others.  We’ve also known the searing agony of being betrayed.

It will accomplish nothing to look at Samson and think about what he didn’t accomplish.  Likewise, it does little good for us to become depressed over what might have been.  Samson shows us that as long as we have life, we have hope.  It’s never to late to surrender your life to God and allow him to redeem you and restore what you’ve lost.  In spite of his failures, Samson is listed as a champion of faith in Hebrews 11.  In spite of your failures, you, too, can be a champion of faith as God continues to transform your life.

A Partial Fast

Steve Arterburn

Do you feel like your being swallowed up by life?  Fasting can be an effective means of keeping you from being consumed by your surroundings.  Daniel’one of the leading Jewish young men taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar’undertook several disciplines in order to maintain his faith and identity.  His decision to fast was one of the most visible ways by which he avoided being fully absorbed into that culture.  

Daniel did something in particular that you might find helpful.  He frequently practiced partial fasts in which he abstained from certain items but not from food altogether.  A partial fast is a limitation of food or drink but not a complete abstention from them.  A good way to develop the discipline of partial fasting is to begin with a fast from lunch one day to lunch the next.  You can choose to give up soda or certain types of food you’d normally eat during this time.  Instead of eating, take time to pray and read your Bible.  

A normal fast can often be more disruptive to daily life’and that’s a good thing at times.  But at other times you may sense the need to support your prayers or spiritual activities with fasting, but feel the need to sustain your food intake.  In such times, you may give up certain items’and these don’t have to be limited to food. How about fasting from video games, Internet surfing, or television?