(2 Samuel 12) Who’s Unfair?

Before you tell God how unfair He was to take David’s newborn son, you need to stop. God is very clear to tell us in His Word that there are consequences for sin, and sometimes innocent people suffer.

God doesn’t want that.

How many times must He tell us to obey Him and be blessed, to trust Him and enjoy the good things He offers to His obedient children? And how many times must He tell us how much He hates, and punishes sin? I don’t know how much more clear God can be about that.

Then let me ask you this: are there innocents in your home who are suffering because of sin in your life?

We all know of children who live in poverty because their drunken fathers can’t hold a job. There are bruised and battered children whose mom can’t control her temper. There are children in foster care with parents in jail, on the streets, or dead because of sin. And there are people who suffer their whole lives with learning disabilities, even physical disabilities as a result of a mother who couldn’t stop shooting up, or couldn’t put down the alcohol and cigarettes while she was pregnant.

Is that fair? Are you going to blame God for that, too?

It grieves me that there are children growing up without any knowledge of God because parents choose golf over Sunday School, and brunch over going to church. The effect of the sin of rejecting God could reach into eternity for the innocents in those homes.

I know it’s the “woke” thing to do to blame everyone else for our struggles. I’m so over this whole thing. I will tell you, whether you want to hear it or not, that you – YOU – are responsible for your behavior. YOU are responsible for whether you obey God, or choose sin.

And here is the other side of that coin. Your sin can and does effect innocent people. It’s not God who is being unfair.

It’s you.

(2 Samuel 9) Dinner’s On

Mephibosheth ate at King David’s table, was given land and protection, not because of anything he’d done, but because of whose son he was. Mephibosheth did not earn the right to be in the king’s presence by doing good deeds. The king extended grace because he loved Mephibosheth’s father.

Do you see a parallel? I am ushered into the Presence of the King through grace, not of myself, it is a gift of God. I can’t earn a place at the table, but I am blessed because God loves His Son, and I belong to His Son. God extends grace to me because He loves Jesus.

I realize Mephibosheth wasn’t healed. He remained a cripple. And God doesn’t always take away my problems, either. God’s grace doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free life. But I never want my problems to overshadow the blessings of God’s Presence and protection, or the fellowship He extends to me. Mephibosheth was blessed, and so am I.

I love living in God’s Presence. I hear Him say to me, “Pull up a chair, Connie. Dinner’s on.”

And I do.

(I Samuel 25-27) Me Time, or Our Time

It’s hard to reconcile David, a man after God’s own heart, with the liar we read about here in I Samuel. David had placed himself in a difficult situation when he made himself at home with the enemy. It was easy to sin, surrounded by sin.

But my question is, why did he go there in the first place? God had proven Himself to be firmly on the side of David against Saul. David admitted God had delivered Saul into his hands – twice! David could easily have rid himself of the man who wanted him dead, yet David spared Saul both times, not wanting to sin against God or God’s anointed.

It sounds like, even after the obvious hand of God on his life, David was tired of running. And even though he probably knew God would continue to give him victory, David was weary of the battle, and didn’t see an end to his trouble.

He needed some “me time.” And he found it in the territory of the real enemy – sin. David learned you can’t surround yourself with sin and expect it not to rub off. And if you choose to live with the enemy, you are inviting some serious problems.

So, where are you living? With whom have you surrounded yourself? We are to go into the world and share the Gospel, but we are not to be comfortable there. What fellowship does the light have with darkness? The two cannot exist together.

What we read here in I Samuel is a very dark time in David’s life. I think the sad thing about it is, he is living with the enemy because of his lack of faith in God, who had only proven Himself faithful. Maybe God just wasn’t moving fast enough for David.

“Me time” is a popular concept today. And I’m not going to say whether or not I think it’s a good thing. I will, however, boldly say it is wrong if the “me time” moves you away from God, and closer to the enemy. You might be discouraged, weary, frustrated, disappointed, or burned out. And maybe God is nudging you to take a step back for a time. But, dear one, don’t use that as an excuse to dabble in the things of this world. Don’t allow yourself to feel at home with the enemy.

I’m not saying David was wrong to want to get away. The problem began with where he went. He didn’t go to God. Instead, he snuggled up with God’s enemy.

If you are needing some “me time,” spend it with God. Get to know Him better by reading your Bible and asking Him to reveal Himself. I would suggest you don’t go to self-help books or sit yourself in front of the TV, or turn to alcohol or partying or anything like that. I don’t believe there is any better “me time” than the time you share in a private encounter with God.

There is nothing sweeter than turning “Me Time” into “Our Time” with the Lord.

(I Samuel 20-24) My Enemy, and Your’s

The whole Saul and David thing reminds me that I have an enemy, too. My enemy pursues me with the same determination Saul pursued David. My enemy wants to see me dead every bit as much as Saul wanted to see David dead.

My enemy is God’s enemy. My enemy hates me, simply for the fact I choose God. My enemy hates me because I love God, whom my enemy hates with a hate far greater than I know. My enemy’s hate for God is played out in my life with temptations, attacks, hardships, doubts, disease. My enemy is relentless, like Saul was relentless in his pursuit of David.

Whenever I read what David said to Abiathar, I hear God say to me:

“Stay with me. Don’t be afraid, for the one who wants to take my life wants to take your life. YOU WILL BE SAFE WITH ME.” ( 22:23, emphasis mine)

My enemy, and your’s, has no power over God. My enemy, and your’s, cannot touch us when we stay with God, when we become His children through the blood of Jesus, and choose to obey Him each and every day.

Stay with God, my friend. You will be safe with Him!

(I Samuel 19:9-18) Choosing Between Pure Good and Pure Evil

The question posed in my Apologetics Bible is this: “Was Michal right to deceive and lie?” Read these verses in I Samuel, then think about it for a minute. What is your answer to that question? Was she right to lie?

The apologist said that, although God expects His people to be truthful, Michal “was not obliged to give (Saul) information that would help him carry out his wicked act,” that of killing David. He argues that if Michal had not lied, she and David would probably have died.

The writer goes on to say, “…within an environment where human sin abounds, it is not always possible to choose between pure good and pure evil.”

Thoughts?

Personally, I am appalled! God’s demand that His people be holy is NOT situational. Show me a verse where God declares that He only expects holiness of us when it’s convenient. Friend, we cannot decide to be holy when it’s easy, and allow ourselves to be unholy when things get tough.

Here’s what I believe to be true concerning Michal’s lie: She prevented God from revealing Himself to Saul (and us) in that situation. We will never know the miracle God would have performed had Michal trusted Him and told her Dad the truth. I don’t agree with the writer of the commentary that she and David would provably have died. We just don’t know how God would have saved them, because Michal lied.

Like Moses, who threw a veil over God’s power when he tapped the rock in the dessert, Michal threw the same veil over God’s power here. The reality is, both Moses and Michal sinned, and God couldn’t do great things because of their unbelief.

I believe Scripture teaches that any lie – no matter how “small” or how difficult the situation – is sin that comes with a death penalty. Lying, no matter what spin we put on it, is a slap in the face of God.

I have said it before, and I will continue to say it again and again, you and I have got to be reading God’s Word, commentaries, blogs, listening to preachers and teachers with discernment. Do not accept everything everyone says is truth. If I accepted what this apologist said, I might give myself a pass for a sin because my situation is uncomfortable, and sinning is my solution. That, dear one, would be inviting sin into my life and expecting God to be ok with it.

God will never be ok with it.

Choosing between pure good and pure evil is not only possible, it’s expected of us who know Jesus as our Savior. If we think we have to lie to get out of a difficult situation, we are preventing God from revealing Himself, perhaps preventing someone who needs Him from finding Him.

I pray you will consider this issue today. What do you believe about Michal? What do you believe about situational sin? Are all sins equal in God’s sight? Do all sins demand a death sentence? Is it your responsibility and mine to allow God to reveal Himself through us today, no matter what the situation? Do you trust Him?

I pray you and I will choose pure good today. It won’t be easy. But God will be faithful to honor our choice. I believe that with all my heart.

(I Samuel 13-15) God Regrets

God’s Sovereignty is such a mystery. Some people believe life on earth is predestined to play out exactly how God causes it to be. Others think God set the world in motion, then stepped back to see how it would progress without His intervention. Some people place themselves somewhere in the middle, and believe God’s will will always be done no matter the choices we make, because if we make one decision, He will orchestrate situations which lead to His will, if we make another decision, God will manipulate circumstances in another direction to bring about His will. Still others believe something in between all of those.

(Let me say here that I know there is one indisputable aspect of God’s will that will ALWAYS be true. That is that anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. It’s the “whosoever” of John 3:16. Anyone who comes to God on His terms, He will in no wise cast out. Take that to the bank!)

The question of God’s Sovereignty comes up when Scripture tells us God “regretted” making Saul king. Does that mean He wished He’d appointed someone else in light of what Saul did? Is God really saying hindsight is 20/20? Are we to assume this is the same as an unhappy husband regretting he’s married his nagging wife?

The definition of regret is: “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.”

I think what we see here in I Samuel is God’s expression of sadness and disappointment. God has nothing to repent for! Remember His will for Israel was that HE would be their king. They chose a human king instead. I think God mourned the inevitable pain their rejection of Him is going to cause. What Saul did was the tip of the iceberg as we will see as we read on in the Scriptures. And that made God sad.

When you watch your child make a decision that you know is going to end up hurting them, isn’t there a bit of regret, or sadness, or disappointment? It’s the same with God. He loved the people. He loved Saul. And it grieved Him to know how their choices were going to hurt them.

God was disappointed. But He was not surprised. After all He, in His Sovereignty, had already watched the scene played out before it happened. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t break His heart.

My Apologetics Bible said this about this passage: “(God’s) relationships with people are authentic and personal, not pre-programmed.” I tend to agree.

As I think about this passage this morning, I am determined not to cause God any disappointment or sadness. I pray that I – that we all – will decide to obey Him today and bring Him only joy. No regrets.

(I Samuel 8-12) Gotta Let It Go

God had made Saul King of Israel. Yet when we next see Saul he’s out plowing his field like any other day. Wouldn’t you think God would want him doing king-stuff? It seems Saul was caught between his old comfortable life, and the unknown life for which God had anointed him.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our past. Most of us liked it there. It was familiar, predictable, perhaps exciting. It was “us.” But when we meet God and accept His will for our lives, He asks us to turn, to leave behind the old and put on the new.

It can be uncomfortable and scary. But if we are to be the people God wants us to be, we’ve got to let go of the people we were. Sometimes it means leaving home in a physical way, leaving former friendships, overcoming old habits.

Saul could not be king hanging onto a plow. We can’t be the people God wants us to be hanging onto our pasts, either. We’ve got to let it go, leave it behind, and step toward the blessings of life according to God.

(I Samuel 3-7) What Do You Know?

So many questions seem to arise from the Old Testament account of God’s history with Israel. Just in these few chapters in Judges people have asked:

“Who or what toppled the Dagon idol?”

“What kinds of tumors were there, and what caused them?”

“Why would God kill people simply for being curious?”

“How could an entire army of trained soldiers be that afraid of a thunder storm?”

People who think they have to understand everything written in Scripture are foolish. But so is the person who reads Scripture and never tries to understand. It’s one thing to have faith. It’s another to be satisfied with blind faith.

What if you were asked the questions cited above? What if someone who is seeking the truth came to you for answers? What do you know about falling idols, tumors, thunderstorms, and the ark?

What do you know about God? Simply saying you believe is not enough. You need to know what you believe… and why you believe it.

I started telling you how I would answer the questions I shared at the beginning of this post. But I feel God is challenging you to do your own investigation. Just let me encourage you to let Him speak to you through His own words, not the words of a blogger like me, or a study guide, or the internet, unless they point you to specific verses in the Bible that back up what they say. Be careful to not accept opinion as fact. The answers, everything you need to know has been given you by God Himself. I would encourage you to start – and end – in the pages of Scripture to find the answers you are looking for.

So let me ask you again, what do you know? Can you share it with someone who needs to know? I believe God would have us all be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Him. I believe we need to be ready to share what we know to be true, according to Scripture.

(I Samuel 1-2) The Bargaining Prayer

It sounds like Hannah is making a bargain with God. If you… then I will…

Is that what are witnessing here? I wonder.

I remember when wearing seatbelts when driving became a law. I, like many, took awhile to get into the habit of buckling up. One morning, as I was heading to work, I was involved in a minor accident. The police were called. And I, who had not been wearing my seatbelt prayed, “God, if you’ll help me not get a ticket for breaking the seatbelt law, I promise I will never drive again without buckling up first.”

Turns out I didn’t get a ticket. And I began fastening my seatbelt every time I drove after that.

Did God accept my deal? Did He accept Hannah’s? We both got what we wanted.

A famous Bible teacher tells of her “salvation experience” by saying that as a divorced mom, she had a driving need to be with a man. Men. She confessed she lived a very sinful lifestyle that made her miserable. She said she didn’t know much about God, but at her lowest point she prayed something like, “God, I give you men, I give you my sons. Do what you will. Just give me peace.” Then she goes on to say at that moment she received the “Prince of Peace.”

Friend, that is NOT salvation, I don’t care who claims it to be. You don’t bargain with God. You don’t trade your sons for peace. Show me in Scripture where that prayer has anything to do with being saved. Scripture tells us peace comes when we humble ourselves, repent of sin, and receive what Jesus died to give us. Not promising to never sleep around again just so you can feel peaceful.

I believe there is a lot we can learn from Hannah. She was evidently a devout believer, a true worshiper of God. The prayer we see her praying was deep, and intimate with the God she loved. And her will, her wants and needs aligned with what God wanted for her.

What I see here is that she wasn’t bargaining with God as much as she was agreeing with Him. My seatbelt prayer, and the prayer of the teacher I sited above weren’t that. We were trying to trade something we had for something we wanted God to do.

Do you want God’s blessing? Then get to know Him. First of all humble yourself, confess that you are a sinner, and repent of sin. Accept the grace of God that is available when you believe the fact that Jesus lived, died on the cross, and rose again so that you can be forgiven. Accept His forgiveness.

Read the Bible. Pray. Worship Him in spirit and truth. Get to know His heart. Set your desires aside and seek His desires for you. Then when you receive the desires of your heart, you’ll realize those were His desires for you all along.

I don’t believe the fact I didn’t get a ticket, or the fact that Hannah got pregnant are signs that we can bargain with God to get what we want. Rather, I believe God blessed us both because of our relationship with Him.

Please don’t bother praying a bargaining prayer. If you need God to do something for you, go to Him on His terms. You have nothing He needs or wants except YOU.

(Ruth) It’s Not Just About Love

I usually look at the book of Ruth as a lesson in love, and it truly is that. But today, I see it mostly as a picture of redemption. I think this book could easily have been named, “Boaz.” Because without Boaz’s act of redemption on behalf of Naomi and Ruth, they would have had no hope. The would have continued in their poverty for the rest of their lives.

It wouldn’t have mattered how much they’d loved each other. Their love could not have saved them. Only the work of the redeemer would take them from curse to blessing, from bitterness to joy, from death to life.

Get the picture?

We can talk about love all day, but without the redemptive work of Jesus, we are without hope. Love cannot save until it is nailed to the cross.

Do you love God? Great! Do you know He loves you? He does! But His love without His redemption will not save you.

The book of Ruth isn’t just about love. It’s about redemption.

The Gospel isn’t just about love, either. It’s about redemption.

Ruth laid everything at the feet of her redeemer, Boaz. In that act she became totally dependent on him to save her. That’s the Gospel: Putting everything we have, are, and hope to be at the feet of Jesus, becoming totally dependent on Him, confessing our sin and turning from it is our only hope of salvation. Otherwise there is no saving.

Only the work of Jesus, our Redeemer, can take us from curse to blessing, bitterness to joy, death to life. Only Jesus.

Only our Redeemer.