God’s Way Is Perfect (Psalm 22)

Psalm 22:31 is underlined in Mom’s Bible.

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.”

 

David is talking about how hard life has been for him. The man had enemies. His enemies wanted him dead, and pursued him relentlessly. But David recognized the many times God moved on his behalf to protect him, and to give him victory after victory over his enemies. The king knew it wasn’t by his own effort, but by the mercy of God that he was still alive.

I notice that David equates God’s hand of protection and the victories over evil with his own righteousness. Look at verse 21:

“The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.”

 

In this psalm, David says things like, “His laws are before me,” and “He rescues me because he delights in me,” “To the faithful, you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.”

God reveals His faithfulness IF we are faithful. God demonstrates that He is blameless IF we are blameless. His purity is recognized IF we are pure. And IF we are crooked, IF we reject Him, He shows Himself to be someone you don’t want to mess with.

So many people are quick to say, “God is sovereign,” or “God’s will will be done,” as though God wrote a script we are forced to follow. Yet so often we see in Scripture the word “if.”

God, in His sovereignty, declared that His will will be accomplished if we obey Him. He is not willing that anyone die without Him, yet people who reject Him go to hell. Jesus died so that anyone can have eternal, but there is a “whoever believes” clause in that promise, an “if” if you will. You receive eternal life IF you believe in the Son of God.

And like the verse Mom underlined, God’s way is perfectly flawless IF we take refuge in Him. He is our protector IF we take refuge in Him. How do we do that?

Throughout Scripture God tells us the first step is to believe on the Lord Jesus, confess our sins, and accept what Jesus offers through His precious blood. Scripture tells us to obey Him, draw near to Him, be holy as He is holy. That relationship with God, available through the cross, is our refuge.

Please understand God doesn’t protect sin. He protects righteousness – His righteousness worn by people who receive it by His grace. To we who know Him, He is our refuge, our help in time of need, our strength when we are weak, our joy in all circumstances.

People are praying, “God protect our nation from this virus.” We need to pray, “God break the chains of sin in this nation. Convict us, forgive us when we ask, then heal our land.”

That’s God’s way. And it’s perfect.

Snap To It (2 Samuel 19-21)

David gave Amasa a position of great power. “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if from now on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.” (19:13) With that word, Amasa became the most powerful man in Israel, second only to King David.

But we really don’t read much about Amasa’s role as military leader. In fact, his first and only mission was an epic fail. And really, what David told him to do shouldn’t have been that difficult for the commander:

“Rally the troops! Get the men together and get back here in three days.”

Granted, they didn’t have phones back then. There was no texting or social media, no TV or even snail mail to get the message to soldiers sitting at home. I can see that it would take some coordinating effort and time to get the word out, then for the men to gather.

But Scripture tells us Amasa “took longer than David had set for him.” (20:5) So the king put the army under Abishai’s command, and set them out to battle instead. He wasn’t about to lose a war waiting for Amasa to do his job.

I don’t know why Amasa didn’t meet his deadline. Were the men resistant? Was he so inept he couldn’t get organized in time? Or did he simply not take David’s time frame seriously? Does is matter?

Well, I think it matters a great deal in my life. There are things my King would have me do in this war against His enemy. I’m wondering if I see my response to God in Amasa’s response to David.

God lays on my heart a person whose heart is ready to hear the Gospel. How quick am I to respond? Do I find myself thinking I’ll get around to it eventually? Do I tell myself I don’t know what to say? Do I shrink back at a little resistance? Do I not feel the same urgency God feels for that eternal soul?

God nudges me toward a ministry, toward teaching Bible study, toward serving in the nursery, or mowing my neighbor’s lawn. Do I snap to it? Or do I drag my feet, hoping maybe God was just making a suggestion?

In the account we read here in 2 Samuel, David appointed someone else to do Amasa’s job. And, seriously, there have been times when in the back of my mind I think if I don’t go, God is going to send someone else anyway. Whew! Ball’s in their court.

Amasa’s failure at the task that was given put him in a position that cost him his life. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. God may give my assignment to someone else, but there are consequences for blowing off the King.

Besides, I want to look at God’s commands, those nudges into service, as a privilege to serve my King. I love Him so much I want to obey with enthusiasm and do the best job at whatever He is asking me to do because He deserves my 100% effort. Why would I want anyone else to have the blessings that are mine as an obedient soldier in His army?

This is war. When my King gives me a command, I want to snap to it.

Come What May (2 Samuel 16-18)

Ahimaaz wanted to run and tell David the outcome of the battle between his men and Absalom’s. Joab said no. He would send someone else to David because, “You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”

The news about the battle wasn’t all good news. David’s son Absalom had been killed in that battle, and that fact would destroy David. Or it would destroy the messenger like those who brought David word of Saul’s death. David had a history of killing the messengers of bad news, and Absalom’s death would have been the very worst kind of news.

Ahimaaz’s reply to Joab speaks to me:

Come what may, I want to run.

We have news to share with the world. It’s the best news ever in the history of the world. But with it comes some bad news, too.

The bad news is that we are sinners. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. And sin comes with a death sentence. We all deserve to go to hell. We need someone outside ourselves to save us from that awful end. Some people get angry when faced with the truth about their sin.

The good news is, Jesus is the Savior we need. Jesus paid the death sentence that would have sent us to hell, and instead offers us eternity right next to Him in a place too amazing for words. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The thing is, you can’t share the good news without the bad. In order for someone to accept the Savior, they need to see their need of the Savior. And sometimes we might hesitate to share that message for fear of how it will be received.

Will I lose a friend? Will I be laughed at? Will people start treating me differently, unfairly, exclude me from things? Or as in some places in our world, will I lose my life?

Ahimaaz wanted to be the one to tell David, and he was willing to pay whatever price to share that message. He wasn’t concerned with his own safety. He wasn’t looking for some reward. It wasn’t about him. I believe, for Ahimaaz, it was about the message.

It’s still about the message. God is challenging me to take up Ahimaaz’s battle cry when given the opportunity to share His news with people He died to save.

“Come what may, God, let me be the one to tell someone about You today.”

The Desires of Your Heart (2 Samuel 13-15)

Some people are never satisfied. They are always looking for more, dreaming bigger, lusting for that person or job or possession they believe would guarantee happiness. Sometimes that “want” becomes an obsession, and they begin to compromise, deceive, use people and manipulate circumstances in order to get that which is the focus of their desire.

But often, once their dream becomes a reality, they are left empty, unfulfilled, and may even end up despising that very thing they had sold their soul to have.

That’s what happened when Amnon finally had sex with Tamar, after his obsession with her ended up with rape. He certainly didn’t find the happiness he thought he’d enjoy once Tamar was his. In fact, all he felt was hate.

God is asking me to consider the desires of my heart. Where are my thoughts, my dreams directed? For what am I working; what is it that I believe would make me happy or successful or fulfilled?

If my focus and desires are centered on what God wants for me, I won’t have to make myself sick over an obsession, or some person I am sure would make me happy, or a job I think I need in order for me to feel good about myself. In fact, if my “obsession” is to be as close to God as is humanly possible, everything else will fall into place without my compromises or manipulations.

Psalm 37:4 says this:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (emphasis mine)

Give you.

Now, what this isn’t is a magic formula to have Junior fall in love with you, or for you to get that raise you know you deserve. But here is what is so cool about God: If we delight in Him, if we walk with Him, communicate with Him, enjoy our position as His beloved child through the blood of Jesus, God will give us exactly what we delight in.

Himself!

And with that comes everything He wants us to have and be and enjoy in this lifetime. We will realize that what He wants for us is so much better than we can ask or even think. He will give you the desires of His heart.

Wow.

 

 

Convicted (Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122)

These psalms have a lot to say about the forgiveness of sin. David said that when he lived with his sin, God’s hand was heavy on him. He had no strength, he groaned all day. David’s experience (and my own) tells me that the force of God’s conviction affects every part of our lives.

But when David confessed his sin, God forgave him and surrounded him with songs of deliverance. Instead of feeling the guilt and shame of his sin, David could confidently say this:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (32:1-2)

David knew that when he confessed his sin, his whole life was changed:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. (51:7)

And, instead of  being weighed down by guilt, David could pray:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (51:12a)

David’s groaning turned to real joy when He asked and received God’s forgiveness. He knew God wasn’t interested in religion, or in David’s animal sacrifices any more than God is interested in our good deeds:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (51:16-17, emphasis mine)

This God who lays a heavy hand of conviction on us who sin, doesn’t make us miserable because He is mean or vengeful. Listen to David describe God:

You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. (86:5)

David could say those things with confidence about God, even when the guilt of his sin caused him sleepless nights and agony. David knew…

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (86:7)

Are you being convicted by a sin you’ve not confessed? I would urge you to bow your head right now, and ask God to forgive you. Turn from that sin and toward our God who is abounding in love to those who call on Him. He will answer your prayer. Then, with David, you will be able to say:

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. (86:13)

Amen!

 

A Season For War (2 Samuel 11-12; I Chronicles 20)

There is a phrase in both 2 Samuel and I Chronicles that caught my attention this morning: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…”

Why spring? It sounds like the start of baseball season or something. I did some research and this is what I found:

Spring was the ideal time for going to war because, first, the rains were over which meant the soldiers could march on solid and dry ground. There was grass in the fields, fruit on trees, and ripe corn, food for both soldiers and horses. There was wisdom in the timing.

Now, soldiers could suit up at any time of the year. Not all battles were fought in the best circumstances. But if a king could wait until spring before going into battle, he had a better chance of success because his soldiers didn’t have to fight the enemy AND the elements.

I am reminded of Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he told the young preacher to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season…

We, like the Old Testament soldiers can suit up at any time. In fact, we are told to put on the armor of God every day. We are instructed to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. Our battles, and our opportunities to share the Gospel, don’t just come at prime time. We are told to be prepared to preach the Word at all times.

But I am challenged today to plan my battle strategy, to look for the signs that tell me the time is right to go to that person God has laid on my heart to confront their sin in order to lead them to their Savior. Sometimes we might be tempted to barge in when it’s convenient for us, only to be met with the challenge of fighting the elements of distractions or resistance or misunderstandings while we are trying to fight the battle against sin.

I want to wait for God’s timing, because He is preparing the ground for battle. I want to recognize His season for war against Satan, and be prepared to fight the fight He is leading. Not my season. But His.

May I be prepared every day by putting on the whole armor of God, by being ready to give an answer, to share the Gospel whenever the opportunity presents itself. May I be sensitive to God’s timing. And may I be a faithful and obedient soldier so that when God says, “Charge!” I’m the first to go.