Category Archives: The Gospel

May 7; First Things First

2 Samuel 5:13-16, 13:1-5:6; I Chronicles 145:3-7, 3:4-9

Amnon committed a sexual sin with his sister Tamar. What he did to her was vile and inexcusable. There should have been severe consequences for his behavior. But we don’t read that David, his father (and Tamar’s), said or did anything to Amnon.

Did David remember his own sexual sin he had committed with Bathsheba? Did the fact that the king had taken many women into his own bed prevent him from taking a stand against the sin Amnon committed?

Years ago I had a friend whose 18 year old daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My friend was not happy about it, but she threw up her hands and said to me, “How can I say anything? I did the same thing when I was 18.”

I wonder if she was giving her daughter permission to commit EVERY sin she herself ever committed, or just that one? I’ve come to believe that having committed sins in our past, then repenting and experiencing God’s forgiveness for those sins, gives us every right to speak up. I’d go so far as to say it gives us the responsibility to speak up. David took the easy, the comfortable way out and kept silent.

It angers me that Amnon was allowed to go on with life as though nothing had happened. Yet Tamar, the victim, ended up living in her brother Absalom’s house, “a desolate woman.” For whatever reason, Amnon’s sin was never addressed by David, and Amnon never repented.

Well it angered Absalom, too. Because two years later, Absalom had his brother Amnon killed. Yet another example of someone committing a sin to pay back a sin. When will we learn? What we see is another sin that is never addressed.

Absalom takes off and hides in Geshur. Good riddance, right? I mean the guy murdered his brother. Nope. Scripture tells us David “mourned for his son every day.” But even mourning his son’s absence didn’t prompt David to confront the sin. I believe that’s why, when the woman from Tekoa came to David, she could easily convince David to take Absalom back.

I mean, she invoked the name of God, so what she said must be true, right? “Send for poor Absolom, Bring him home. Accept him. You’re like an angel of God, David. You’ll do the right thing,”

So David, without asking God what he should do, invites Absalom home. Sounds like the Christian thing to do. I mean, who are we to judge?

What is glaringly missing from this account is any repentance on the part of Amnon or Absalom. Amnon died without asking for forgiveness. And Absalom doesn’t admit guilt, doesn’t ask for forgiveness for the murder of his brother.

Yet we read that eventually, David welcomes Absolom with open arms and kisses anyway. We will read more of this story, and see how embracing an unrepentant sinner will effect David and his entire kingdom.

Folks, welcoming sinners into the Church body is as destructive as David welcoming Absalom into his home. I believe Scripture is clear that repentance HAS to come first. The church that embraces sinners (who in reality are God’s enemies), the church that accepts sin, and refuses to keep the fellowship holy, is doomed for destruction. I know this is contrary to what most of us believe because it sounds so harsh, so unloving. But in reality, it’s the only loving thing to do.

I believe with all my heart that churches aren’t dying because of the hymns they sing on Sunday morning, or the lack of fancy technology, or a foyer with no coffee shop. Churches are dying because of sin in our midst. God will not bless sin. God cannot be present where sin is allowed to exist. Making our churches a comfortable place for sinners to come is counterproductive. That has never been what church was intended to be.

I think the account we see here of David’s life is an example of what happens when sin is allowed to exist without being addressed. I see Scripture telling us we need to keep the Church holy, undefiled, an exclusive organization for believers only. But I also believe Scripture is clear that we who are members of God’s Church need to be out there loving on people who haven’t dealt with their sin, spreading the Gospel, leading people to the Savior, making disciples, THEN inviting them to church.

First things first. And repentance has to be the first thing.

 

 

May 4; Momentary, Light Affliction

Psalm 44, 60, 108, 124; 2 Samuel 8:9-14, 23:18-19; I Chronicles 11:20-21, 18:9-13

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why aren’t all Christians living long and healthy lives in the lap of luxury? Does God abandon His people, even those who love and obey Him? Are there times God goes on vacation, or sleeps, and isn’t aware of what His children are going through? It may seem that way to some.

It seemed that way to David. But we are wrong to judge God according to how we feel. We are to trust Him for who HE IS.

If Jesus had gone to the cross in order to make our lives comfortable, bad things would never happen to Christians. Do you think that was Jesus’ motivating factor for enduring the awful beatings and painful death? When He was hanging there, do you think He thought, “Well, at least Suzie will get that job promotion in 2019, and Johnny will get that house on the ocean, and Ellen won’t get cancer?” Was His goal to make His children healthy, wealthy, successful, and happy?

Of course not!

Then why do we get upset with God when we go through hard times? He never said we wouldn’t. Why do we blame God for a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a job? If anything, Jesus promised life would be hard for us. Do we think He was talking about everyone BUT us?

David gives us a bit of insight as to why God allows those hard times, unfair treatment, suffering. “Yet for Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:22)

Jesus died on the cross to save sinners. And His power can be seen in the lives of His children, even when those children struggle. Maybe especially when His children struggle.

Consider what Paul had to say on the subject. Take a minute and read 2 Corinthians 4. Paul, who suffered more than most of us, considered the beatings, imprisonment, exhaustion, and persecution, “momentary, light affliction…” for the privilege of knowing Christ. Wow.

God doesn’t want us to love Him because He can make us comfortable. God wants us to love Him because HE IS. And God wants to reveal Himself through each of us in a way that will draw people to Him. Is how you are going through those devastating circumstances making people want God in their lives, too?

I’m sure we all know people who are living this truth. I have a friend whose husband was paralyzed years ago in a motorcycle accident. The faith and love of God in this couple is powerful. I have another friend whose husband had a debilitating stroke a year ago. She shines Jesus every day. There is a blogger friend of mine who has lived with ALS for 20 years. He continues to minister to people all over the world in Jesus’ name. Real life people, struggling in this lifetime, and still allowing God to use them for His glory.

Are you struggling? I pray you can embrace the struggle. James tells us to consider it joy when we face trials. Can you do that? Understand that God wants to show off in our circumstances. He wants everyone around you to see His strength and power and love through you. What we are facing is momentary and light if we know Jesus as our Savior. Because we have an eternity with God to look forward to.

And we have the privilege of being His light to a very dark world. Even in our struggles. What are you willing to endure for His sake? What was Jesus willing to endure for yours?

 

May 3; It’s Your Turn

Psalms 21, 51, 103; 2 Samuel 12:24-31, 8:2-8, 23:20a; I Chronicles 11:22a, 18:2-8

David’s guilt over his sin with Bathsheba, and the death of his son, seems to have paralyzed him for a time. Joab led the army into battle against Rabbah the Ammonite, and won a great victory. Then he sent a message to David, telling him in effect to get back to work.

The first thing that strikes me about this is that Joab could have turned this victory around and exalted himself. But he didn’t.

Along with that, I am reminded that fighting God’s enemy is not a one man job, nor is it about gaining notoriety for ourselves. We are an army, each with gifts and responsibilities working together to accomplish God’s goal.

God’s goal.

I love that Joab went about caring out his own responsibilities, and that he confronted David for not doing his own. I love this picture that demonstrates that God has given each of us a job to do, one of which is holding each other accountable.

I remember Dad telling stories about being a Marine in WWII. He said it was frustrating when a Marine wasn’t doing his job. That one man, not pulling his weight, made it harder for the others to do their jobs, and often put a whole platoon in danger.

You are that important in our war against Satan.

Let me just say that if you are attending church on Sunday, and that’s all you do the rest of the week, it’s time you start pulling your weight. Your uninvolvement in this battle makes it harder for the rest and, frankly, puts the mission of the Church in jeopardy.

Let’s muster the troops – all of us who know Jesus as our Savior – and win this war. Let’s all of us be obedient to do the things God asks of us. Let’s get off our couches and get out there and talk to people about their Savior, ministering to the needs of people who need Him. Your pastor can’t do it all.

He’s not supposed to.

The reality is that other soldiers in God’s army have planted seeds. God is working in the hearts of sinners even right this minute. A battle or two have been won by others.

Now it’s your turn.

May 2; Forgiven And Cleansed

Samuel 11:2-12:24; Psalms 6, 32, 38

What would you say was the worst sin you’ve ever committed? Are you living with the consequences? Have you asked God to forgive you?

We read about David’s doozie of a sin with Bathsheba, his attempt to make her husband Uriah believe he was the father of her baby, and when that didn’t work David arranged Uriah’s death. For David, one sin led to another and another and another.

God punished David for these sins. God also forgave David when he repented. But I wonder if David was ever able to look into the eyes of Bathsheba and not see the face of Uriah. Sometimes you just can’t escape the consequences of sin.

We read the psalms David wrote during this time and can’t help but feel his anguish. He tells us even his bones were in agony, his guilt overwhelmed him, the light had gone out of his eyes. It sounds like David was in the throws of a deep depression. David knew what it was like to hit rock bottom because of his sin. David also knew what it was like to be lifted up from those depths.

Psalm 32 describes this beautifully. It begins:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

David had tried to cover his own sins, by committing more sins. He learned that no matter how he spun it, he could not undo what had been done. He couldn’t hide it hoping others wouldn’t know his guilt. The psalm continues:

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When you think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed, have you been honest about it with God? Have you confessed it all? David tells us God covers that sin and does not count it against you. Can you imagine?

You might beat yourself up every day because of that horrible sin. But I John 1:9 tells us this:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Forgive AND cleanse!

David goes on in Psalm 32 to say God not only covered his sin, He forgave David’s guilt of that sin. If you are holding on to guilt over past sin, please read this psalm. Let David assure you that the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds you, surrounds all of us who trust Him.

I asked you to think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed. But the truth is, every sin comes with a death penalty. Every sin separates us from God, and should cause us to feel guilty and ashamed. And every sin is forgivable if we confess it to God who died on a cross so we could be forgiven.

Earlier I wondered if David was ever able to not see Uriah’s face when he looked at Bathsheba. I hope so. I hope when he looked at her he was reminded instead of God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s amazing love. Because when David confessed his sin of adultery and murder, he was

Forgiven and Cleansed.

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.