Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Like Father, Like Son (sadly)

READ 2 Samuel 15-16

Sometimes fathers must suffer the pain of watching their sons commit the very same sins that they did when they were younger. We have a glimpse of that in 16:22 where Absalom, in likely the very same location as David, sins greatly against the Lord. This was surely the very same rooftop mentioned in 11:2, “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king 's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.” Now Absalom uses it (fulfilling Nathan’s prophecy of 12:11-12) to commit sexual sins with David’s concubines. One wonders, when the news came to David, if his thoughts went back to that afternoon on the rooftop when he first saw Bathsheba. Like father, like son.

So what does a father do? As dads we must teach our sons (and daughters) how to deal with sin. We must teach them and model for them confession and repentance. We must show them how we humble ourselves before the Lord when we have sinned. Especially if we have sinned against our children we should go to them in humility and admit (confess) our sin and ask their forgiveness. This will give them a clear picture of how they are to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Then, lovingly and patiently we should help them to do the same when they sin.

Prayer: Father, you are merciful and gracious and great in your forgiving love to us. You do not remember our sins against us but cast them as far as the east is from the west. Help us, who have known the depth of your forgiveness to teach our children the way of repentance before you. Help them to learn that if they confess their sins you are faithful and just to forgive their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hanging On to Hurts

READ 2 Samuel 13-14

David’s life is filled with much good. He was known as a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) But there was also much tragedy in the life of David. One of the saddest statements has to do with his relationship with Absalom after he had killed his brother Amnon. Absalom fled to another country and had been there three years when the Bible says, “And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom.”

What a sad statement because the clear inference is that, though he longed for Absalom, David never reached out to Absalom. He never sought to express his forgiveness. He never sought to restore their relationship. His own son and he let him languish in a far country even though in his own heart he longed to be reunited with him.

Sadly, I have seen this many times in my life as a pastor. Situations where there is great hurt and the parties are embittered toward one another. Often this happens within families. I have seen parents who long for their children but in their own stubborn pride they will not reach out and take the first step. They will not be the one to humble themselves and seek restoration. I’ve also seen children act exactly the same way. Or friends with friends. One of the hardest things to do for us, it seems, is to forgive when we have been hurt deeply — — even though our heart longs for the one who hurt us. Perhaps we could learn from the life of David and the tragic consequences that followed that it’s definitely worth it to humble ourselves and forgive and reach out in love to those for whom we long.

Prayer: Father, help us to remember just how much you have forgiven us. Help us to truly know how deep was our rebellion against you and our hurtful sin to you. Yet you forgave and reached out to us in love and grace and mercy. Father, help us to forgive just as you have forgiven us in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Pain of Sin

READ 2 Samuel 11-12

Most of us recoil in shock at the suddenness and depth of David’s sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. If one like David can fall so far so quickly, how much more do we have to be on guard? The final stroke comes when David uses Joab to kill Uriah. After the deed is done David says to Joab, “Do not let this matter trouble you.” (11:25)

Such horribly in sensitive words! But more than that, words that were absolutely untrue for David himself. Consider Psalm 51. In the inscription that introduces the Psalm (yes, this is a part of the Psalm), the context is given: “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”

Now read the Psalm and see how greatly his sin with Bathsheba “troubles” David. “Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (1b-4a) Did it trouble David? Yes, enormously.

I have known the enormity of troubling sin, have you? God, in His gracious mercy, loves us enough to chasten us and to convict us of our sin and to afflict us until we turn back to Him. David learned this well. At another time he wrote: “Before I was afflicted I went astray….It is good for me that I was afflicted….” (Ps 119:67, 71) We worship a loving God who will not leave us in our sin, but graciously “troubles” us until we repent and confess and turn once again to Him.

Hopefully, after an experience like that we will remember the “troubling” and the pain of guilt and resist the opportunities of sin in the future.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your loving discipline to us. Thank you that you trouble us and afflict us for our own good, so that we may once again know the joy of our salvation in Christ. Thank you that our sins are covered by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to remember the pain and hold fast to you.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Don't Try to Pre-program God

READ: 2 Samuel 9-10

In Chapter 10 David sends Joab and his army out to fight the Ammonites and the other nations they have hired as mercenaries. The size of the enemy's army is huge and Joab knows he’ll have to divide his forces. So he sends his brother Abishai out in charge of the group fighting the Ammonites and he himself leads the fight against the Ammonites. Then he says to Abishai: “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” (11-12)

Notice the plan. We will do what we have been called to do with courage and faith. We will fight the good fight…and…we’ll leave the results to the Lord. In other words, God’s response is totally up to God and His plan and purpose. Our responsibility is to fight.

Joel said much the same thing in calling the people to repentance before the Lord. He told them to “return with all your heart” and “rend your hearts and not your garments.” Then he reminded them of who God is in grace and mercy and steadfast love and forgiveness. Finally, he closes with these words, “Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?” Who knows? In other words, God’s response is totally up to God and His plan and purpose. Our responsibility is to repent.

You and I must learn to do all that God has called us to do and leave the results to Him. He is in charge. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. Don’t try to pre-program God.

Prayer: Father, help us to be faithful and do your will. Help us not to expect a certain response from you in every situation but to have courage and faith that you will act according to your grace, mercy, steadfast love…according to all that you are.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Guideline for Prayer

READ 2 Samuel 7-8

There is a good guideline for prayer found in 7:27-29. Notice the outline of these verses:

27 — God has spoken that He will build David’s house forever (11-17) so David has courage to ask God for something.
28 — David recognizes the promise of God.
29 — David asks God for the very thing that God had promised. The prayer of David is literally a profession of his faith in the promises of God.

What a wonderful plan for you and me to follow in our prayer lives. First, we go to the Word of God and discover His will and promise for us. Then we pray that He will do what He has promised to do. Here’s an example. God has promised that all believers will be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). So what should we pray for? We should ask God to do His work of sanctification in us and make us more and more like Jesus.

I could go on and on and on in listing examples like this. But it would be so much better for you to discover them for yourself. See what God has promised to do and then ask Him to do it. In so doing we will be confessing our faith in His Word and our faith in His faithfulness to do all that He has promised.

Prayer: Help us to abide in your Word so that we will know what you have intended for us. Help us to believe your Word. Help us to pray rightly for your will to come to pass. Help us to believe that it will and to walk in that faith.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Explanation of New Posts

I have been writing a devotional commentary for a few years now for men in our church that I send out by email each morning, reading 2 chapters a day. We call this DOGS -- Daily Online Group Study (idea borrowed/stolen from my friend Bill Elliff). We have read through the Bible once already and are in the midst of our second time through.

I have decided to post these as blogs also in case there is anyone else who would like to join in reading. They will still be aimed at men, but I'm sure there are applications that are universal for believers.

On a side note: There will be a break during the month of October and first week of November.

Thanks for your interest.

Humble Worship

READ 2 Samuel 5-6

In chapter 6 Michal looks a lot like some church members today. She is turned off by David’s exuberance in worshipping the Lord and she makes her feelings very clear. You’ve seen this haven’t you? When someone around begins to be more exuberant than others and lifts their hands or claps loudly or even dances a little before the Lord, these “Michals” look on with disdain. The message is written all over them that this behavior ought to be stopped.

This reminds me of a definition of the word “fanatic” I heard once. A fanatic is anyone who loves the Lord more than I do. Recently I heard the rather extreme position given that lifting one’s hands in worship was the first step in becoming a charismatic. That’s almost laughable if it weren’t so sad. I certainly hope you’re not guilty of being one of these “Michals.”

What is your attitude in worship? Well, to answer what it ought to be we have to start with the truth that worship is first and foremost a matter of the heart. If one’s heart is truly worshipping the Lord then the outer actions are only an expression of that. And those outer actions won’t be the same for every person. So you and I, when we worship, ought to be focused on our own worship and not that of those around us. Resist the urge to judge someone’s heart and focus on what your own heart’s desire is. I wonder: are we like David willing to be contemptible and abased in the eyes of others as we make merry before the Lord (22)?

Prayer: Father, forgive the Pharisaical tendency in us to judge the hearts and motives of others. Help us to be so intent on worshipping you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength that we don’t have room left for looking down our spiritual noses at others. Help us to humble ourselves before you as we worship your holy name.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Humble Appreciation

READ 2 Samuel 3-4

There is a wonderful short verse in these chapters that indicates the blessing of the Lord upon David. God had anointed him to be king and God placed his hand of blessing upon him. The text says, “And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people.” Everything? That’s almost too difficult to believe isn’t it?
Probably none of us has ever experienced that, where everything we did was pleasing to everyone around us. I know I haven’t. But in David’s case, though he was a man of war and multiple wives (against God’s command; Deut 17:14-20), still everything he did pleased all the people. There is only one explanation for that: God gave him favor with all the people.
I think there’s a lesson in humility for us. If we have favor with those around us it’s not because of how wonderful we are but because of God’s grace. He could just as easily cause us to fall into disfavor. So there’s another reason to thank God humbly for every good and perfect gift.

Prayer:  Father, you are perfect in all your ways. You are righteous and holy and all that you do is righteous and holy. There is no god besides you. And in your perfection you have chosen to be gracious to us and to grant us favor with people around us. Thank you for this blessing. Thank you that every good and perfect gift comes from you, even the kindness and appreciation of others.