Archive for September, 2013

So Then (I Kings 2, Galatians 6)

September 30, 2013

“And keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies…”  I Kings 2:3

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith,”  Galatians 6:10

“So then, what will you do with this wonderful present?”  This question could have been asked by anyone who saw the value of a gift given to someone in need.  But specifically I am thinking about the gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to anyone who is born again (John 14:27).   The question is, “So then what will you do with the Holy Spirit?”  The Apostle Paul answers this question in Galatians 6.  The so then will evidence itself in two ways:

1.  You will serve others, Vs: 1-10

People who are “Spiritual” will reach out to serve others.  In particular, the others are those who are characterized as people who have burdens.  These burdens can be either self-inflicted (caught in trespasses) or from outside sources.  In either case the spiritual are to serve those people and at the same time being careful not to be burdened by the same trespasses.

This is serious business.  One must be willing to serve (sow) day after day until the harvest comes.  You have to stick with the business of serving others.

2.  You will be shaped by the cross, Vs: 11-18

Certainly the religious crowd has no desire to be shaped by the cross.  Neither does the world see the need to even embrace the cross.

However, it is different for the child of God.  He or she sees their sin and their need of a Savior.  It is the power of the cross that makes the sinner into a new creation.  This new creation desires to be crucified to the world.  Their lives are now shaped by a different spirit.  This spirit leads them to serve others.

Think it through:

1.  Is there a clear, “so then” in your life?

2.  Can people see the cross taking shape in your life?

3.  Are you serving others or yourself?

Take it out for a spin:

Spend time evaluating your life (Gal. 6:4) in light of the scripture.  Make the adjustments that are needed.  Commit yourself to serving others as a clear sign that your life is being shaped by the cross.

Writing A Song (II Samuel 22, Galatians 2)

September 26, 2013

“And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul,”  II Samuel 22:1

Can you imagine the stress that would be on you if you were asked to write a song (If you were not a song writer)?  This morning I found myself amazed at the song composed by David.  The Bible says, “David spoke to the Lord the words of this song…”

In this moment I was reminded of a theological fact: “All of scripture is ordained by God.”  Simply stated, “It was God who wrote the song and all David had to do was to write it down and sing it.”

Here is a summary of what David sang:

David’s song lifted up the praises of the God who saved him from his enemies, Vs: 4-16.

There were two enemies that led the pack.  The enemy of death and the enemy of distress.  God saved David from both of these enemies.

David’s song lifted up the praises of the God who brought him to a place of rest, Vs: 17-31.

David’s song lifted up the praises of the God who equipped him for battle, Vs: 32-49

David found strength and success in battle because of one thing:  “The presence of His God.”

Think it through:

1.  Has God saved you from your enemies?  Sing His praises!!!

2.  Has God brought you to a place of rest?  Sing His praises!!!

3.  Has God equipped you for battle?  Sing His praises!!!

Take it out for a spin:

Spend some time discovering what it means to be saved from your enemies.  Check out Galatians 2:20 where you will see the Christ who represented you before the Father, who redeemed you before the Father, and in whom reigns in your life.

Encounters with a king (II Samuel 21, Galatians 1)2

September 25, 2013

“Now there was a famine in the days of David, for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord…” II Samuel 21:1

Only once in my life have I actually stood in the presence of someone in whom others had invested the title of royalty.  It was in November of 2006, while attending the Romanian national prayer breakfast, that I had the honor of shaking hands with and speaking with the Prince of Romania.  Pictures were taken and greetings were given. It was my only claim to spending time with royalty.

As one reads II Samuel 21, it has the feel of spending time with royalty(A king).  David is the King  in whom we see praying and we see leading his people.  Two things stand out for me:

1.  David prays for his people during a time of great famine, Vs: 1-14

In this time of prayer, God speaks to David.  David discovers two things:  1.  He discovers the reason for the famine.  2.  He discovers the remedy for the famine.

It is amazing to watch as this king does what is best for his people in obedience to God.

2.  David is protected by his people during a time of great fatigue, Vs: 15-22

In the midst of battle, David becomes weary.  His life is in the balance, but his life is spared because of the watchful care of his people.   Clearly David was greatly valued by those who loved and served him.

Think it through:

1.  Who is the greatest person you have ever encountered?  For me, it is Jesus Christ.

2.  How do you feel about this person?  For me, I want to serve my King.

3.  How does this person feel about you?  My king, Jesus, has given His life as a ransom for me.  “(Jesus) gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil age,” Galatians 1:4

Our response:

Daily we should be loving our king and standing up for His name in all circles of life.  Oh how I pray that God would use your life because of our encounter with the king!!!

Dealing with Worthless People (II Samuel 20; II Corinthians 13)

September 24, 2013

“And David said to Abishai, Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom.  Take your lord’s servants and pursue him.”  II Samuel 20:6

It would be very difficult to live in a home where you are constantly being told, “You are worthless.”  But last evening in Celebrate Recovery, one man gave this very testimony of growing up in a home where he was daily told he was worthless.  This had long-lasting results in his life.  But something wonderful happened.

Notice with me our More For Christ readings in II Samuel 20.  David is firmly on the throne again, but there is a rebellion that is about to take place in the tribe of Benjamin.  As one walks through this chapter, it first looks like simply a retelling of events in David’s life.  However, a deeper look reveals much more.  Here are three observations:

1.  David understands the possibilities of a worthless person, Vs: 6

David has already lived through doing nothing about sin in a person’s life.  He will not go through it again.  Much in the same we need to heed this warning.

2.  Joab understands the possibilities of a worthless person, Vs: 7-21

One of the David’s commanders kills another of David’s commanders because he recognizes the worthless behavior of this leader.  Here before us, is not a recommended way of handling worthless people.

3. A wise woman understands the possibilities of a worthless person, Vs: 22-23

This woman realizes that her entire city is about to be wiped out because of the rebellion of one man.  This woman gives good advice and the man is killed and given over to David’s army.  (A very wise woman who will not sacrifice the whole for one).

Think it through:

1.  All of us are in many ways worthless people.  We are sinners in rebellion against God.

2.  If left to ourselves, we will destroy ourselves and all those around us.  I Corinthians 5, “Do you not know that a little leaven ruins the entire lump.”

3.  Only Christ can take worthless people and make them into trophies of grace.  I Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old lump that you may be a new lump.”

Praise be to our God who has made us new (II Corinthians 5:17).  This is exactly what happened to the man who gave his testimony in Celebrate Recovery last evening.  May this be our testimony as well.  

When Grace Speaks (II Samuel 19, II Corinthians 12)

September 23, 2013

“Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?”  II Samuel 19:22

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited,”  II Corinthians 12:7

I honestly can say, “I read his story with amazement.”  Here was a guy who had been wrongly abused in many ways, but when it was his turn to get even, he chose the path of grace.  This brothers and sisters is not the norm in our world.

The norm is the mentality that I have been reading about in the life of Eli Weisel who wrote the book, “The Night.”  Eli was one of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were sent to concentration camps in WWII.  As you read his book and subsequent books, “The Dawn and The Day,” you discover a man who depicts all who miss grace.

However, if you read II Samuel 19 you will be refreshed by a guy who allows grace to govern his choices.  The guy in whose story I read with amazement is non other than David.

Chapter 19 begins with David in emotional meltdown.  His days of running are over, but it is at a great cost.  His son is dead along with many in Israel.  Thankfully the words of David’s advisor (19:1-7) get through to David.  He assumes his position as King.

Now is where we see grace speaking.  David has the opportunity to get even with those who wronged him as he was forced to flee.  But instead, grace speaks:

1.  Those who are given grace will give grace

David has been restored to the throne.  How could he do anything else than to give what he has been given?

2.  Those who are given grace will celebrate grace

Not only has David been given grace, but so has Saul’s son Mephibosheth. On this day, he is thankful for all he has been given.  No matter what happens, he has been blessed.

Think it through:

1.  What are you facing today?  Spend some time celebrating the grace you have been given.  This will help you gain courage as you face the trials of each day.

2.  Who needs grace in your path today?  Brothers and sisters, God has extended great grace in your life.  Should you do anything less than share this with others.

Work it out:

Take some time to think about all the imperfections that occupy parts of your daily life.  Paul labels these as, “thorns in the flesh.”  Take some time to think about how God works in your life even though the imperfections are there.  Our imperfections magnify the grace of God.  I challenge you to allow God’s grace to be magnified in others lives as well.

Being thankful for what we do not see (II Samuel 16; II Corinthians 9:15)

September 20, 2013

“Thanks be unto God for His inexpressible gift.”  II Corinthians 9:15

“It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today,”  II Samuel 16:12

Recently I was reading an advertisement for a city in New Mexico, “Come and stay with us, we are the city that experiences the wonder of all four seasons.”  As I read this advertisement I thought of the season that King David was in during the time of II Samuel 16.

I believe it was the winter-time of his life!!!

David was faced with three challenges in this chapter:

1.  He was faced with a friend who very deceptive, Vs: 1-4

2.  He was faced with a foolish liar who hated David, Vs: 5-14

3.  He was faced with a flawed son who severed any hope of reconciliation, Vs: 15-23

Despite these challenges, there is something that stands out to me, “David was thankful in this season of his life.”  Some would say, “We are to rejoice no matter the season of life.” I would respond, “David could not rejoice at the sin before Him.”  He wept and he was weary.  This is the common response of anyone who faces such an hour.  However, David was thankful in spite of this season, a better day was ahead.

I believe David was looking forward to the day he would be with the Lord.  Ever since the day his infant died in II Samuel 12, it seems David has in full focus what is ahead.

Think it through:

1.  Ask yourself, is this season the end of my existence?

2.  Walk through II Corinthians 9 where you will discover the inexpressible gift of Christ that guarantees that this will not be the end of your life.

3.  Seek to discover what God has for you in this journey (John 15:1-9).

Take it out for a spin:

Spend time praising God for who He is and for what He is going to do in your life!!!

What Seems Good To God (II Samuel 15; II Corinthians 8)

September 19, 2013

“If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and His dwelling place.  But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me what seems good to Him.”  II Samuel 15:25b-26

In II Samuel 15 the unthinkable happens to a father (This father being David).  His son both undermines and usurps his kingdom from him.  In this moment David is forced to leave Jerusalem and live in the wilderness as he had many years earlier.

Question, “Have you every found yourself facing the unthinkable?”  Certainly the unthinkable for you could be in some other area of life than with a family member.  I can honestly say, “Only once in my life have I found myself in an unthinkable place.”  Just the thought of those days still generate heartbreak.

I imagine David feeling the same way as he was leaving the city he so loved that is called in scripture, “The city of David.”  We see him in mourning and moving with great sorrow.

However we also see his mindset.  His mindset is as such that is a model for each who go through unthinkable times.

Think it through:

1.  David says, “If it is God’s will, I will be brought back.”

2.  David says, “If it is not God’s will, I trust that He will do what is best.”

As I read this chapter, I came away with an amazing perspective on how to walk through unthinkable times.  David understood that God had a plan for every moment of every day.  David understood the character of God in that He would always do what is best (His best always benefits His children).

David was not alone in this viewpoint.  Eli believed this (I Samuel 3:18), Job believed this (Job 1:21), and Paul believed this (I Timothy 6:7).  Most importantly Jesus believed this (We see this in His agony in the garden before His death).

As I look back over that unthinkable moment in my life 5 years ago.  I can truly see that God had a plan and that plan has been good for my life.  Oh how I pray  that you come to the same peaceful understanding in your unthinkable moments.

Take it out for a spin (The truth of God’s Word):

1.  Lord I trust every moment of my day into your safekeeping.

2.  Lord I will do what I know to do everyday, trusting what I cannot do into your hands to do for your glory.

Hope For Dysfunctional Families (II Samuel 14, II Corinthians 7)

September 18, 2013

“But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.”  II Samuel 14:14

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death,” II Corinthians 7:10.

The family found itself in cardiac arrest.  Despite all the financial resources any one could imagine and despite all the wisdom of God-given to them, this family could not get it together.  The dysfunction is now in its third year and it will not get better in the next two years.  This sounds much like a modern-day sitcom or sadly an accurate account of many families.

However, this is not a modern-day sitcom.  This is the story of the family life of King David.  In this chapter we see David as a father who choses to do nothing about the rebellion of his wayward son Absalom.  In his spirit (13:38) David wanted the dysfunction to end, but he could not bring himself to make things right.  Notice what happens:

1.  We see the intervention of a friend

The captain of David’s army (Joab) seeks to help his friend. This leads to Absalom being allowed to come back to his country, but he is still not allowed to come to his father.

2.  We see the intervention of the son

Now the son takes matters into his own hand.  Now David receives his son.  However the chapter ends with no reconciliation.

Think it through:

1.  How can anyone be reconciled to someone who has hurt them or has hurt others?

2.  What dangers lie ahead for those who have hatred in their hearts.

God’s answers:

1.  Only God can lead us to a place of reconciliation.  Here we see this in 14: 14, “God has a place.”  This is a picture of our need of bringing everything to Jesus, Matthew 11:28-29.  This is a picture of how Jesus alone is our refuge and strength to walk through such moments, Joel 3:16.  As we sit at His feet, we discover His mercy toward us and we discover the strength to give mercy to others.

2.  Destruction lies ahead of every person who remains in dysfunction.  David’s own son would try to take the kingdom from him (II Samuel 15).  Only Christ can change all of this.  This happens in the church as well.  The needed answer must be Jesus (II Corinthians 7:10).

Widen Your Heart (II Samuel 13, II Corinthians 6)3

September 17, 2013

“When King David heard of all of these things, he was very angry.”  II Samuel 13:21

“You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your affections.  In return (as speak to you as children) widen your hearts also.”  II Corinthians 6:12-13

“Could it be possible?”  I mean, “Could it really be possible fora Christian to dislike another Christian?”  The answer is, “Yes.”  The reason, “Sin in the life of the Christian.”

Here in II Corinthians 6 the Apostle Paul reminds the church of his partnership with the Lord in the ministry of reconciliation (6:1-2).  Because of this ministry there were some hard feelings that had developed in the church (7:2).  Some in the church had closed their heart’s to Paul’s ministry.  Notice how Paul responds to all of this:

1. Paul reminds them of his spiritual resume, Vs: 1-11

Paul’s heart was wide open to them.  An examination of his ministry would lead anyone with a wide open heart to see this very fact.

2.  Paul reminds the church of their spiritual restriction of heart, Vs: 12-13

They were thinking wrongly about Paul.  Paul reminds them that he has not been a hinderance to their ministry.

3.  Paul reminds the church of their responsibility, Vs: 6:14-7:1

This church was to get ride of the things that would cause their heart to be narrow and prejudice.

Think it through:

1.  Are there things in your relationships that have narrowed your heart?  Get rid of them.

2.  Do you need a clean heart?  Ask God to forgive you and to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

Take it out for a spin:

Dear Father, show me my heart as it really is.  Please remove the restrictions and replace them with a heart that is wide open (Filled with your love).” 

What Hope Is There For The Sinner? (II Samuel 12, II Corinthians 5)

September 16, 2013

“David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’  And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”  II Samuel 12:14

“That ism in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”  II Corinthians 5:19

Brothers and sisters, there was no use in denying the facts.  This man was guilty.  All that remained was the official sentence to be handed down.  Question, “What type of sentence would you render in this case?”  Answer, “It’s according to what the crime is.”

The crime:  “Rebellion against God.”  The accused, “every man.”  The verdict:  “guilty as charged.” The sentence, “Eternal separation from God in eternal fire under the wrath of God.”

In this moment the weight of the human predicament is clearly felt.  “What hope is there for the sinner?”  Before us in our More For Christ readings is the answer.

Consider II Samuel 12.  Here we see a sinner, David, who is confronted with his sin against God.  In this confrontation we discover the path to hope:

1.  We see David’s strong rebuke, Vs: 1-11

David is rebuked for this sinful thirst for more than he needed.  David is rebuked for taking what was not his.  David would face continual turmoil that was not needed in his life.  But so is the fruit of sowing sin.

2.  We see David’s sincere repentance, Vs: 12-15

David replies, “I have sinned.”  In this chapter it seems like a simple statement of fact.  But if you read Psalm 51, you will see a full disclosure of his godly sorrow and repentance.

In this moment, it looks as if all is lost.  But a closer look reveals the grace of God.  “The Lord has put away your sin.”  In this moment, our Lord extends grace to a repentant man.  How does this happen?  Jesus comes and offers His blood as payment for our sin, John 1:29; II Corinthians 5:19-21.  Because of Christ condemned men can be forgiven.

Think it through:

1.  Yes, there are always consequences for our sins.  The greatest is the cross.

2.  Be thankful for God’s reconciling all of our sins.

3.  Make sure, every sin is confessed and cleansed by God.

4.  Make it your aim to share with broken people about the hope they can have for a future in Christ.