Monthly Archives: April 2019

April 30; The Rescue

Psalms 19, 24, 65, 68, 110; 2 Samuel 8:1, 21:15-18; I Chronicles 18:1, 20:4

It occurred to me, after reading these passages this morning, that as members of God’s Church, we have an opportunity to help each other. We read psalms like the ones included in today’s Scripture and hear about our mighty, powerful, enemy-crushing God. And sometimes I think we might take it too personally.

Like: “I have this problem. I need to tap into God’s power and overcome this sin, or this situation. If victory doesn’t happen, there must be something wrong with me.” We have the mistaken idea God expects us to go it alone, or that means we don’t have faith. We end up feeling guilty and defeated because we still struggle, even though we are calling out to God to help us.

Now, maybe it is you. Maybe you really aren’t being obedient, or repenting of sin. But it also could be God wants to use one of us to come along side you and be His power for you.

A Philistine named Ishbi-Benob said he was going to kill David. “But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him…” (2 Samuel 21:17a)

I’m not saying David wouldn’t have successfully beaten Ishbi-Benob himself. But I love it that he didn’t have to. Abishai rescued him before the Philistine even got to David.

I hope you are close enough to your church fellowship that you recognize when someone is struggling, even when they wear that cheery smile every Sunday. I hope you faithfully pray for them. But I also hope you ask God if He wants you to stand along side this person, to prevent this person from having to handle the problem on their own, to rescue this person.

What a privilege it is to be God’s arms that wrap around a hurting brother or sister, to be his voice that speaks words of comfort, to be his legs to go into action on another’s behalf.

Even Christians hurt. Even Christians struggle sometimes. Let’s ask God to show us how we can come to the rescue.

 

April 29; Go Home And Bless Your Family

2 Samuel 6:12-23; I Chronicles 15-16; Psalm 15

What is worship? That’s been a hot topic for the last 30+ years since the “contemporary” movement burst on the scene. If you’ve been with me very long, you know my take on that, and honestly, I’ve sat here for quite a while trying to look for something else to talk about today. But God isn’t letting this one go.

The example of worship here in 2 Samuel and I Chronicles is that of a rocking worship service. However, remember, so is I Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6, and God was not pleased with that one. It’s an example of disobedient worship that looks an awfully lot like worship that God accepts. So what’s the difference?

First, I don’t believe it has anything to do with what songs were being sung. I say that because both accounts tell us they were celebrating with song, singing joyful songs. The truth is, as I see it, hymns can be as worshipful as praise songs.

Second, I don’t think it has anything to do with the musical instruments being played. Both examples tell us the worshipers played lyres and harps. I believe an organ can be as worshipful as a bass guitar.

The worship looked very much alike in these two accounts. So, again, what was the difference?

I think a huge difference between these worship services is obedience. It wasn’t the worship production. It was the heart of the people. It wasn’t how they looked while worshiping, it was their obedience to God that made the difference.

The other thing I see as a difference between the two examples of worship here in the Old Testament, and maybe the most important difference, is found in I Chronicles 16:43. After his time of worship, David went home to bless his family. He didn’t bask in the euphoria of a worship experience, then walk away unaffected. He took his experience and put it to work.

Dear one, if you are going to church on Sunday mornings for a worship experience, stay home. Go to a movie to be entertained. Worship does not end at the last “Amen.”

If you aren’t involved every day in some kind of ministry, in some kind of witnessing, and in living a Christ-like life on Monday, why are you worshiping? Do you think God needs your words, or is edified by your soaring emotions once a week?

The purpose of our church services is not to make us feel good, but to edify us, strengthen us, and equip us to go home and bless our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, the uttermost parts of the world.

I hope you worshiped God yesterday with a fellowship of believers. I hope your emotions were touched. But I pray that you learned something about God, that you were encouraged in your faith, that you were challenged and changed.

Now, get out there and bless someone.

April 28; Home

2 Samuel 5:6-12, 17-25, 6:1-11, 23:13-17; I Chronicles 11:4-9, 11-19, 14:1-2, 8-17, 13:1-14

Our worship service this morning centered around the second coming of Christ. I will tell you it made me a bit homesick thinking about the day God the Father will tell His Son, “It’s time to go and get my children.” What a day that will be!

Sometimes I read psalms like 101 that speak of God making things right, and I find myself asking, “When?” When will slanderers be put to silence? When will evildoers be cut off? And then I am reminded that God warned us things would not be easy while we walk this earth. Evil still exists because God still wants to save evil people.

The pastor reminded us when Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Comforter. God Himself lives within all of us who know Jesus as our Savior. Is there anything too hard for God?

So today, as I consider who God is, I am so grateful that He is mine, so humbled by His love, and so underserving of any of it. One day I’ll look into those eyes, hold those nail-scarred hands, and know I am home.

April 27; Pass It On

I Chronicles 12:23-40; Psalms 2, 78

I volunteer in an after-school Bible club for kids. Our Good News Clubs, under the umbrella of Child Evangelism Fellowship is an amazing privilege and blessing. We actually had a picnic today with all the volunteers from our county. If you are one of them, thank you! I love serving with you in this important ministry. I think we all agree that sharing the Word of God with the next generation is something we cherish, and watching these children grow in understanding is truly indescribable.

Psalm 78 is a history-of-God-lesson; one of many times God’s history with the Jewish people is recorded. Why read about this over and over? The psalmist said, unapologetically, that they will not hide the things God has done from their children, so their children will tell the next generation, “even the children yet to be born, and they in turn will tell their children.” (verse 6)

I hope you are involved in sharing the good news of Jesus with children. Not all of us can volunteer for Good News Club, or teach a Sunday School, or work with Bible School. But I bet you know a child. I bet you have children or grandchildren, nieces and nephews of your own.

The next time one of those precious ones crawls up into your lap, why not tell them a Bible story? Why not tell them about an encounter you have had with God? Maybe your kids think they are too old for snuggling. The next time you are alone with them in the car, or sitting on the front porch, why not share something you read in God’s Word that morning?

Let’s keep the Word of God active in our lives, and pass it on to the next generation. And pray that after we are gone, those kids will be passing it on to yet another generation of people for whom Christ died.

April 26; God Told Me To

2 Samuel 2:1-5:5; 1 Chronicles 3:1-4, 11:1-3

What happens when we do things in Jesus’ name that were never part of His plan? Does God bless it anyway? The Old Testament is full of examples of individuals, kings, entire nations doing things without God’s direction. And it usually ends very badly.

Ask Recab and Baanah for instance. Ish-Bosheth was standing in the way of David becoming King. At least that’s what Racab and Baanah seemed to have thought. So they decided to clear the path for David and kill Ish-Bosheth. Then, and this is what struck me today, they went to David and said:

Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to take your life. This day the Lord has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring. (2 Samuel 4:8)

They actually gave God credit for what they had done. But do we read anywhere that God had directed them to murder Saul’s son? We don’t. Did God bless them anyway, seeing they had acted with good intentions in His Name? He did not.

They received a swift death penalty. More blood shed.

But look closer. Did that death sentence come from God? Scripture doesn’t say anything about David asking God what to do. It appears David, who was closely identified with God, made that call on his own.

We who are closely identified with Jesus need to be intentional in our walk with Him. We need to be careful not to do something we want, slap God’s name on it, and assume He’ll bless it.

We need to be aware that non-believers are watching us, and judging God by what we do. If we say, “God told me to,” they are going to believe God told us to do that thing. Whether or not He did. And that’s serious.

I think God sometimes gets a bad rap because His children are misrepresenting Him. And I don’t think any of us who love Jesus want to make Him look bad. God help us to do what He asks us to do in His Name.

And may He help us not be guilty of dressing up our own will and actions by saying,

“God told me to.”

 

April 25; Choosing Our Thoughts and Feelings

I Samuel 30:1-31:13; I Chronicles 10:1-14; 2 Samuel 1:1-27, 4:4

When you read the Bible chronologically you can’t help but see that there are two different accounts of the events surrounding Saul’s death. I know I’ve addressed it in years past, but let me just say here that what we read is what God said happened to Saul, and we read what an Amalekite said happened, believing he’d get a reward.

In the past I have tried to meld both accounts into one. Like maybe Saul fell on his sword and lay dying. His armor-bearer, assuming the king was dead, falls on his own sword. Then, while Saul is slowly bleeding out and begging for an end to his suffering, the Amalekite hears and obliges the king by dealing the final blow. I’ve even seen the irony in the fact that it was an Amalekite who killed Saul, considering that years earlier God had told Saul to eliminate the Amalekites completely, and Saul disobeyed.

But I am so thankful God is still growing me, still teaching me after all these years. Today He seems to be pointing out the fact that, as the Author, He can speak for Himself. What He said in Scripture is that Saul killed himself that day. So why do I think He meant something different?

Sometimes I am guilty of trying to figure out what Scripture means, when God just wants me to just look at what it says. I’m learning He’s pretty good at saying what He means. And if I read things into it, I’m not reading what He wrote. Yes there are times when I need to dig deep in order to understand some things. But I don’t want to be guilty of putting words in God’s mouth.

Actually, I wrote much more on that than I intended. What really spoke to me today was how David reacted to the news of Saul’s death. Saul had made David’s life miserable for years. Yet David was truly grieved over Saul’s death. There was no victory party. David went into mourning.

In fact, he even wrote a song to remember all the good Saul had done, never mentioning the awful way Saul had treated him. David chose to let some things go, and concentrate on the good.

We have the ability to make that same choice every day. We can choose bitterness, hate, jealousy. We can think about and hope for a measure of satisfaction, or revenge. Or we can choose love. We can choose forgiveness. We can choose to see ourselves and others through God’s eyes.

You might think the person who is making your life miserable doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, that they deserve to be hated by you. Did Saul deserve David’s forgiveness? Wouldn’t Saul have deserved it if David hated him even after death?

Did the Jews deserve Jesus’ forgiveness? Wouldn’t Jesus have been right to hate them instead of dying for them?

Don’t think you can’t help what you feel. You absolutely can. You can choose every day to be joyful, forgiving, loving, encouraging. Or not. Maybe being forced to live in a cave, running for you life for years would have been too much for you. I think it would depend on what you told yourself about that.

Maybe your circumstances today are too much for you. But I think it depends on what you are telling yourself about it. Because your circumstances might be too much for you. But they are not too much for your Father.

How often did David say that his circumstances were crushing him, that he was frustrated and discouraged? And how often do those psalms expressing his deep pain end with the declaration that He trusted God anyway. That’s the choice I hope all of us make when our circumstances seem unbearable.

I honestly believe that when we get our eyes off our circumstances, and off our selves, when we think about the ways God has blessed us in the past, when we meditate on His attributes, our feelings change.

The Bible tells us so.

 

April 24; Expect God’s Silence

Psalms 69, 86, 131; I Samuel 28:3-25

Sometimes we humans hurt so badly we might get to the point we’d try anything to make it stop. David cries out, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my  neck.”

Have you ever felt like you are drowning in debt, in depression, in unfair treatment, jealousy, anger…? Been there. Done that.

Saul was out of his mind with fear, and he did what David always did: He went to God about it. How often do we read where David, in the midst of suffering, went to God and received forgiveness, strength, shelter. When Saul goes to God, though, he is met with silence.

Saul does not give up easily. So we read that he goes to a medium who will conjure up the dead prophet Samuel. If God won’t talk to Saul willingly, Saul will try to force God to give him answers.

Not a good idea. This sin is going to cost Saul his life.

Now here is where I think God is pointing me today: Saul, instead of asking why God was silent, instead of dealing with the sin that separated him from God, Saul tried to manipulate God. He tried to get to God through a back door.

Dear one, if you are feeling God is silent, don’t blame God. The only thing that separates you from God is sin. The only thing.

And the only thing that can bridge that gap is the cross. If you have unconfessed sin in your life, don’t expect God to jump when you say “jump.” (don’t expect that anyway). I think I can confidently say, if you have unconfessed sin in your life – you can expect God’s silence.

I know sometimes we don’t get the answers we are looking for. I know God doesn’t snap His fingers every time we ask Him to, even if we stand before Him wearing Jesus’ righteousness. But I believe with all my heart, that at those times when the answers aren’t coming, God is anything but silent.

It’s during those times that God speaks His love in other ways. He gives us the strength we need to wait with confidence. He gives us the chance to bless someone else. He reminds us that He does all things well, and we can trust Him. He gives us Himself.

If you are where David was in the psalm we read today, if you feel like you are drowning, go to God. Tell Him what is on your heart, share your hurt and frustration, ask for His help. But first, confess your sin. Because I believe Scripture tells us if you don’t…

expect God’s silence.