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Infection

Infection


When a person becomes a doctor they learn to heal, to fight infection and disease. Many years of schooling are required to learn the profession but eventually one completes an internship and is then awarded the license to practice medicine. After several years of practice then the doctor may earn a reputation as a fine physician. If however, that doctor is not vigilant about what he has learned concerning the management and prevention of disease, he himself is vulnerable to any manner of illness from the patients he’s treating. The medical license or his reputation does not help him one wit if he does not apply his knowledge and adhere to reasonable standards of prevention to protect himself.

In a similar fashion, we see in 2 Sam. 13:1-22 the infectious disease of sin and how it is visited upon the children. Because David was chosen by God means little if David himself does not consistently choose God.

Anointed does not mean inoculated. Sin is generational.

Just look at the striking similarities between David’s sins and Amnon’s sins:

  1. Neither of their minds are on God.
  2. They both see something they want that is forbidden.
  3. They both are presumably convinced they are “in love”.
  4. They both conspire with others to get what they want. (Even David was unwittingly an accomplice to his own son’s sinful plan.)
  5. They both were involved in betrayal of the worst kind.
  6. They both tried to get someone else to share the blame. Misery loves company.
  7. They both became angry after they could fully “see” their own sin.

Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does.

If you have children, to what degree do you think they watch you and emulate your behavior?

Do you think a person’s status even within a church, can give them a false sense of eternal security?

Mercy Me

Mercy Me

Reading on in 2 Samuel, Joab took control of the part of the city that delivered the water supply to Rabbah (2 Sam 12:26-31). Then he jumped in his humvee and radioed King David. (So to speak … just seeing if you’re paying attention).  As was the custom, when in a major battle was waged, the last portion of the fighting was done by the King so that he could claim credit for it. Not wanting to break this protocol, Joel sent a messenger to the king letting him know it was time for him to take over. David seized the opportunity, invaded the upper, stronger royal city, took the crown, then made slaves of all those Ammonites and put them to work in hard torturous labor. He showed no mercy, preferring, instead to wield the firm hand of royalty. The Ammonites were known for their cruelties, so David reacted with a unusually harsh severity as yet unrivaled in Hebrew history.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Here David has committed sins as black as pitch against the Almighty, has properly and sincerely expressed contrition for those sins and yet he has not yet regained the same sense of mercy that was afforded him by God as evidenced in the way he dealt with the inhabitants of Rabbah. Somehow we get the picture that David’s restoration is not quite yet complete because he still has not fully experienced the mercy of God in his heart in order to, in turn, impart that same mercy upon others.

Thoughts to ponder:

Is there anyone you can think of in this world that has done such evil that you feel you could not be merciful to them? Does mercy in all situations give glory to God?

Contrition

Contrition


As we continue to read in 2 Sam. 12:24-25, even though David’s sins were many, he now penned the 51st Psalm, in which, though he had been assured that his sin were forgiven, he prays earnestly for pardon, and greatly laments his sin. God hears his prayers of contrition and gives him another child that they named Solomon, and God named him Jedidiah which means loved by God.

Being hidden within these two verses (vv. 24,25) the 51st Psalm perhaps more than any other scripture describes divine relationship. God loves us, but distinct from that, he yearns for a real relationship. God does not regenerate indifferent individuals. There must be a symbiotic divine and human cooperation before redemption can take place.

You will notice that God could have skipped both the striking down of the first child and the birth of the second child, then called it even, but that was not God’s will. This was serious business. There is a path to redemption that must be followed –  God’s path.

David’s Psalms 51 repentance includes:

  1. a godly sorrow for his sin
  2. verbal confession
  3. turning away from sin, renouncing
  4. forgiveness
  5. restoration to God’s favor
  6. rejoicing in salvation
  7. a willingness to testify about the grace of God. You will notice that this seems to counterbalance the inevitable fodder for blaspheme caused by his sins (2 Samuel 12:14 “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”)

Have you ever transgressed against God and then just kind of muttered “Sorry God.” under your breath? I have. Did that feel as though you were back in God’s favor afterward or did it seem as though something was missing?

Retribution

Retribution

I can remember back to when I was a disobedient child, my mother would utter those dreaded words,

“Wait until your father gets home …”

I’d wonder all day what fate would befall me. At least when my mother spanked me (She spanked like a girl.), I could fake the tears and say “I’m sorry” with puppy dog eyes. So I wonder if they were working in tandem – the waiting was the worst part. But, I realize now that it was the best part too. It got me to thinking about what I had done wrong and if I wanted to ever try that stunt again.

In 2 Sam. 12:15-23, in this continuing saga of a less-than-kingly David, one particularly painful part of retribution, the predicted death of his first son with Bathsheba, comes to pass. First God strikes the child sick and he remains sick for seven days. Why do you think God didn’t just strike the child dead immediately? This is only speculation, but I would say it might have been because God wanted first to see how David would react and second he wanted him to think about his sin, let it sink in. What do you think?

Concerned, David fasted and slept on the ground for those seven days, then he does something a bit atypical. Instead of checking on the child, he asks his servants if he is dead. I realize it was probably customary for the servants to tend to ill members of the royal family, but do you think he already knew the child was dead? If so, why? I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a parent of a sick child ask if their son or daughter is dead. Usually they ask “Is he okay?” I think, as terrible as his sins were, that David, at least knew that God meant what he said and that his child would inevitably die. David’s answer  seems to be implicit in his question,

“Is he dead?”

After the child died, David seemingly hopped up from the ground, cleaned himself up and started to break his fast (eat again). How do you interpret his reaction, his explanation to his servants in verse 23? Do you think he was just a very resilient guy, or did he have some other motivation for bouncing back so quickly?

Confession

Confession

Well now, here we see in 2 Samuel 12 a royal screw up – King David.

He has not only committed adultery and murder but has broken four of God’s Ten Commandments in one fell swoop: Thou shall not kill, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal and thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife. I’m amazed at God’s swift, wise and immediate remedy here. We can not fix what we will not admit to. God needs us to own our transgressions before he can progress with us effectively.

He sends Nathan to deliver a parable. A parable is one of God’s favorite tools to communicate with us mortals but this parable has a divinely effective twist – it uses David’s own words, his own reaction – to drive home what an utter affront his sins were to God.

As a matter of fact David’s very reaction to the parable is used as the measure of justice by which God will punish him (vv. 5-7):

  1. The sword would never depart from his house (v.10) Observe that David was a man of war, and life was very difficult for the rest of his days.
  2. Evil would come upon him out of his own house.
  3. His wives would be taken from him and publicly shamed (vv. 11, 12) This was apparently fulfilled in 2 Samuel 16:22.
  4. The child he had with Bathsheba would die. ( v.14) This was immediately fulfilled in 2 Samuel 12: 15-19

There are times when we are in such disharmony with God that we’re in denial as to it’s affect upon God and others. Even though God’s grace is swift and sure (v. 13) there are always consequences to disobeying His commandments.


Temptation

Temptation


There is a new and fascinating book out that attempts to dispel widespread misconceptions about human behavior. One of these myths is that the accumulation of money or things or power translates into happiness. The author asserts that, although there is a decrease in happiness if basic survival needs are not met, after those requirements are met then one person has roughly the same opportunity to be as happy as the next.

It has been said that the worst social ill to beset our society in America is boredom. When I first heard that I wondered why. Then I gave it some more thought, and let it sink in. When I follow the string of logic, it does start to make sense. What fuels inner city crime? What drives burglaries, white collar crime, rape and violence? What if money, power, self-gratification and influence were not as attractive? What if the thirst for all those things were not there, but instead quenched by the one true living water and the peace that passes all understanding?

In the familiar Bible story in 2 Samuel 11, we initially see a king who has quite possibly succumb to boredom. I mean think about it. Here you are King of Israel wandering around the palace with nothing to do, nothing to fix because your servants do all that for you. Even your grapes are fed to you! So what do we find David doing? Out of boredom, he goes online and looks for a porn site. Okay, I’m stretching my literary license to the limit here but am I really that far off? He purposefully goes and wanders around on the roof of his house at night looking to satisfy his selfish desires.

“Even though I’m a high profile figure, no one will see me up here on the roof – especially at night.” I’d imagine he’s thinking, “Oh look, what a coincidence, a naked lady bathing!”

Most of you probably already know the rest of this story (2 Samuel 11) but I wanted to emphasize where David’s cluster of sins all started because this is crucial. If his mind had been in the right place to begin with, he would not have gotten into nearly the trouble that he did. In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) we see the words “…And lead us not into temptation…” Within this, it is implied that we take on the personal responsibility as Christians, to not lead ourselves into temptation either.

How many ways are there in this world, that a person can kinda sorta “accidentally”walk into sin …?

Responsibility

Responsibility

This economy of ours is in a slump right now and there are a lot of finger pointers. Some say that greedy corporations had a big part in it and some say that our state and federal governments are the ones that have gotten too greedy, attempting to tax us all rich. In all this I think there is a common thread that even extends way down to my son wanting a car before he gets a job. I have to repeatedly let him know that there are responsibilities to owning a car and that he will need to have the patience to wait until all the requirements are met.

Corporations get away with giving their executives millions more than is reasonable, governments cut taxes only to send spending back up through the roof, and my son…wants a CAR. Well, as the late Paul Harvey would say, “There is no self rule without self control.” Eventually, rampant, uncontrolled freedom will have to be tempered by self control. Think of it as a coin with one side stamped by God, “Free Will”. We have the choice of ignoring the other side but it will always say, “Responsibility”! Both are merely different sides of the same coin.

The same is true of our relationships. Problems arise when boundaries of responsibility are confused. We are to love one other, not be one other.

Gal. 5:13, 14 “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

I can’t feel your feelings for you. I can’t behave for you. I can’t grow for you, only you can.

Also, we are to be treated the way we want to be treated, in other words, be responsible to them. This doesn’t mean to bail them out from the consequences of their own sin. The Bible stresses to give to needs, but put limits on sin. Boundaries help us to do that.

Prov. 23:13 “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

Love is responsible and is willing to admit and correct its faults up front. It doesn’t make excuses. Are you taking responsibility for your choice when you accept a friend into your life? How deliberate are you in making sure your friend’s needs are met?

Encouragement

Encouragement

The legs are in sympathetic molecular resonance with the elements of the swing.

I think I said that right. This is the scientific explanation for why a playground swing is so much fun. We sit in the seat and swing our legs (It was called “pumping” when I was a kid.), thereby setting the swing in motion and we feel as though we are starting to fly.

Oh, what a feeling! I used to spend a long time at the playground when I was a kid. And a good portion of that time was in using the playground swings – swing as high as I could, then “bail-out”. One day I decided to experiment. Once I got up to a good height, I’d then start swinging my legs in an opposite direction, counter to the momentum of the swing, to see if I could eventually slow the swing to a stop using only my legs. It took a while, but it worked!

There is no end to the list of wants we each have but there are few actual essential needs. Food, water, and air are legitimate needs. So is intimacy. You can survive without it but you cannot thrive and become what author Matthew Kelly describes as the-best-version-of-yourself without it. I’m using intimacy in the broad sense meaning a close relationship. In our best relationships we can encourage each other or we can hinder each other’s growth. As in the illustration of the swing above, we can be the “legs” that help spur our friends onward to achieve the-best-version-of-themselves. We can also do nothing, always being on the receiving end of the relationship, or we can actually swing our “legs” counter to their development as a person, expecting them to behave in a certain prescribed way.

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls,  For he has no one to help him up.”

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

Ephesians 4:29
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

You will find that when you choose to live by encouragement rather than by expectations, your friends will thrive – as though they’re in a swing starting to “fly”.

Are you more likely to be one to help your friends become the-best-version-of-themselves? Can you help to be theirflight instructor”?

Service

Service

I had the opportunity to volunteer at a newly developed charter school in Lafayette, Colorado in the late nineties. During the start-up phase I found plenty to do and served closely with the founders of the school storing equipment, publishing brochures and selling t-shirts.

As the opening of our first building grew near, I noticed something interesting. More parents and students were joining the school, but a proportional number were not responding to the many opportunities to volunteer. At least that was my interpretation. I was beginning to be stressed, and my perception was not necessarily objective. Added to that were the increased responsibilities I seemed to have due to others volunteering to do something, then backing out at the last minute, leaving me holding the tools. Bitterness was now creeping in.

A modest award banquet was held to honor all who had worked the hardest in the school but I chose not to go, just to prove a point. We’ve got work to do! Why are we wasting time giving out awards? I thought. In addition to all the fatigue, now I was beginning to get a martyr complex. I became sharp and short to the people around me until finally the principal came to me and asked me to take a break. She and those on the school board realized, long before I did, that in that state of mind, that fatigued, I was no good to myself or anyone else, in spite of the volume of work I had taken on. I was essentially burnt out.

There is a good illustration of this in the Bible in Exodus 18 as Jethro counsels Moses about delegating authority:

14Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?”

15Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.

16“When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

17Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good.

18“You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

19“Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God,

20then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do.

21“Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.

22“Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.

23“If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.”

24So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

25Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.

26They judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge.

27Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way into his own land.

People whose sense of time and energy is out of control frustrate others by becoming irritable whether they mean it or not. This is due to an unrealistic expectation of what they can accomplish. I should have removed myself, or severely cut back my involvement with that school long before I did.

In any level of service to others, there are limits that we need to put on ourselves in order to create a peaceful environment for our relationships. Irritability stems from stress and/or selfishness and you owe it to your friends or spouse to set boundaries in these areas.

In setting these boundaries of time and energy we are actually making more efficient use of our resources, and therefore are better able to serve others.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

I have found that in the work that I am in, when someone wants me to do work that is over and above what is in the contract, and the work is a small enough job that I decide I can provide it free of charge to them, their eyes light up. Most people will appreciate me going the extra mile to provide them with a little bit of extra service. This has been a basic policy of mine for some time now. It especially helps to cement my name in the back of their mind the next time they need work done, especially in this recession where work is so competitive.

In a similar way, did you know that when you love or respect someone with your service to them, unconditionally, you are following God and his will for you?

It’s easy to give when you’ve been given to.

Matthew 5:46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

If you really want to advance to a college level degree of love with your valued relationships, try being proactive with them instead of reactive. If they’re sick, could you be the one to make chicken soup and deliver it? If they are going through a time of confusion, can you be the clear headed one to be sensitive, detect something’s wrong and gently offer a listening ear? If you notice that your friend’s car is in the shop could you offer to take them to church the next Sunday? Even when they are upset directly at you, will you be the one to stay calm and rational, sacrificing your ego for the betterment of your relationship?

Ephesians 6:7,8 “With good will, render service as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.” Exploring the rest of this chapter we see that this applies to children, husbands and wives too. Paul is saying that whatever we do for the Lord, we receive back from the Lord.

What you do matters. When you work for God, nothing is wasted.

How tuned in are you to your friends in need? Can you tell, before anyone else, that someone is hurting?