Sanctification

Six Cliches Christians Could Can (Or at Least Re-think)

Have you ever noticed we use a lot of expressions without giving much thought to their origin or what they really mean? For example, why do we use the phrase, “in a (pretty) pickle” to mean “experiencing a difficult situation”?

Here are six cliches we often use as Christians that could stand to be replaced or at least re-thought:

1795610_10153768796270386_733462403_n1. Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.
It’s necessary. Use words. While our behavior should certainly prove out our testimony, nobody’s going to see us working at a soup kitchen or eschewing barhopping and somehow magically understand that he has broken God’s law and needs to repent and put His faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of his sin unto eternal life. That has to be explained. Clearly. By us. From the Bible. With words.

 

tombstone-159792_6402. Rest in peace/God rest his soul
If the person who died was saved, he’s already resting in peace by the time you can get these words out. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

If the person who died wasn’t saved, unfortunately, he’s in a place of eternal torment and suffering, and no amount of asking God to rest his soul will give him a respite. Worse, when Christians say this about someone they know was not saved, they reinforce the false idea many lost people have that the dead are “resting” in some sort of spiritual coma, or that they simply cease to exist (annihilationism) , or that everybody automatically goes to Heaven (universalism).

Maybe “I’m praying for you,” or “I’m bringing you dinner,” would be better.

and speaking of which…

 

th3. Sending positive thoughts/energy your way.
Thoughts and energy are not things you can wrap up in brown paper, haul down to the post office, and mail to somebody. You can’t send them and the other person can’t receive them, and they can’t actually accomplish anything, and everybody knows this. But, commendably, atheists, New Agers, and other non-Christians wanted to have something compassionate to say to people who are hurting, and since they can’t say, “I’m praying for you,” this is the best they can do.

Christians, we’ve got something better. We can say, “I’m praying for you.” We have an open line to the almighty God of the universe who is listening to us and can actually do something about the situation. Pray for that hurting person. Put your arms around her. Listen to her. Do whatever you can to help. Show her Jesus, not empty words.

 

RNR084. Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.
The only people running around today saying that Christianity is not a religion are Christians. Everybody else in the world considers Christianity a religion. And up until this little humdinger materialized, so did Christians.

Usually, what people mean by this is that true Christianity is not an institutionalized system of rote obedience to dead and meaningless rituals. It’s a reconciliation with the only true God by means of being redeemed by His Son, Jesus Christ, who propitiated and expiated God’s wrath against us in our sin through His death, burial, and bodily resurrection, and is, therefore, a dynamic and living interpersonal relationship.

But that’s too long to fit into a tweet or a hashtag.

Our relationship with God through Christ is our religion- the only true religion. And that’s not a bad thing.

 

ttgpt231112b5. Don’t judge someone just because he sins differently than you do.
I find this one confusing, but I think the sentiment behind this is something along the lines of, “I may be an adulterer, but you’re not any less of a sinner just because you only tell the occasional white lie.  Therefore, you have no right to call me to repentance.”

This is a lovely casserole of simultaneous truth and falsehood, and it all hinges on the word “judging,” which has been tossed around so much that even Christians scarcely know what it means anymore. No, we’re not to berate someone for his sin while pompously pretending we’re sin-free. All have sinned, after all, and if we say we have no sin, we lie. But does that mean we should never call anyone to repentance? Of course not! We’re to walk in repentance ourselves and seek to help the lost find forgiveness in Christ and help our Christian brothers and sisters who have fallen into sin to be reconciled to Christ. Scripture doesn’t say we can never call people out of sin because we have a log in our own eye. It says first remove the log and then help your brother.

 

69475_10102578902186220_955102342_n6. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
This is actually true, it’s just that our idea of a “wonderful plan” doesn’t always match up with God’s idea of a “wonderful plan”.

Our desire is to be healthy, wealthy, and blissfully comfortable with never a family problem, fender bender, lost love, or bankruptcy. God’s desire is for us to be holy. He wants to root the sin out of our lives, show us how to be completely dependent on Him, lead us to trust Him more, build our character and endurance, give us boldness to share the gospel, make us kinder and more merciful, teach us what it means to extend grace and forgive. Most of those lessons are learned only through hardship and suffering. Just ask the apostles or the early church martyrs or our brothers and sisters being persecuted across the globe today.

 

What are some expressions Christians commonly use that you think we should replace or re-think?

Gospel, Old Testament, Salvation, Sin, Sunday School, Types and Shadows

Boldly Approaching the Throne: Shimei ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-25-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 21 ~ May 18-24
1 Chronicles 21-22, 2 Samuel 19-24, Psalm 26, 40-42, 57-58, 61-62, 64, 5, 38, 95, 97-99, 30, 108-110
Boldly Approaching the Throne: Shimei

Background:
As we read last week in 2 Samuel 12, while David repented of his sin with Bathsheba and God forgave him and did not punish him with death, there were still many consequences that naturally followed as a result of his sin. God said to David in 12:11, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house.” We have seen that vividly fulfilled through the actions of two of his sons: Amnon, who raped his sister Tamar, and Absalom, who murdered Amnon and then attempted a coup. In chapters 13-19, we saw Absalom endear himself to the people and begin trying to take David’s throne by force. David gathered those who were loyal to him and fled Jerusalem. Finally, Joab, commander of the army, killed Absalom, and David returned to Jerusalem and was restored to the kingship. Today, we are taking a look at Shimei, the two very different ways he approached the throne (David), and the types and shadows in his story that show us Jesus and ourselves.

2 Samuel 16:5-13

The First Bold Approach: Curses!
Shimei was a member of Saul’s extended family. Even though Saul had repented to David a few times, he was ultimately David’s enemy. Saul had tried to murder David several times, and David had spent years on the run from him. Shemei took this family enmity upon himself and also considered David to be an enemy of Israel since David had taken Saul’s place as king, and because of the sins Shemei perceived David to have committed.

Notice that, while some of the things Shemei said were swearing-294391_640 (1)accurate [“you are a man of blood” (7-8- God Himself had said this. It was the reason He gave for David not building the temple. But God was referring to David being a warrior, not a murderer, as Shemei implied.), “the Lord has avenged you” (8- probably referring to the deaths of Abner, Ishbosheth, and Uriah- we know that what was happening was due to the Bathsheba incident), and “the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom” (8- they didn’t yet know that this was only true temporarily)], the way and context in which he said these things was twisted, and didn’t correctly represent everything that had happened.

It’s not a coincidence that Shimei was throwing rocks at David and his men (sometimes you’re in danger just because of who you’re hanging around with!), nor were the rocks primarily a weapon of convenience. David was guilty of adultery and murder. What was the penalty for these crimes? Death. How was it usually carried out? Stoning.

Shemei only spoke and acted only from his own viewpoint and opinions. Though he claimed to understand what God was doing with David, Shimei did not know God and never brought out what God had said in His word about David rightfully being king, or God’s forgiveness, or God’s rejection of Saul. In Shemei’s eyes, he was right and David was wrong. As a result, he rejected and rebelled against David. It was treason– a crime, ironically, worthy of the death penalty.

Son of David
Can you think of another King, established by God, who was rejected and cursed by His enemies–enemies who thought they knew what God was really up to? How about Jesus? Let’s take a look at some of the things in this story that foreshadow the life of Christ.

v.5- Who’s your daddy? (John 8:44)
Shimei was of the house of the enemy, Saul, who had tried numerous times to murder David. When the Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus, He said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning,”

v. 5-8- Haters gonna hate (Isaiah 53:3, Matthew 27:38-44)
Shemei cursed David continually and leveled false and twisted accusations against David. Isaiah tells us, Jesus “was despised and rejected by men.” We see throughout the gospels that the Pharisees ignored what Scripture said about the Messiah and falsely accused Jesus of things like breaking the Sabbath, breaking Levitical laws (such as touching lepers and dead bodies), and blasphemy (claiming to be God). Finally, at the cross, we see them (much like Shimei did to David) hurling abuse at Jesus.

v. 6-
Stoned
Shemei attempted to execute David for a capital crime. The Pharisees, via the Roman government, executed Jesus for a capital crime (blasphemy). Interesting fact: if it had not been against Roman law for the Jews to execute criminals themselves, Jesus would have been executed by stoning. The important difference to remember here between David and Jesus is that David was guilty. Jesus was not.

fog-258224_640Left and Right (Luke 23:33, John 15:18-20)
Shimei was not just trying to execute David, but also the criminals (in his eyes – guilty by association) on his right and on his left. Jesus was executed between two criminals, “one on His right, and one on his left.

We can also look at David’s mighty men as Jesus’ disciples, and, by extension, us. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you can be in danger just because of who you hang out with, and Jesus made this clear in John 15. He said that if the world hates us or persecutes us to remember that it is because of Him.

v.9-10- Off with his head (John 18:10)
Abishai wanted to take off the head of David’s enemy. Peter, less of a swordsman than Abishai, I’m sure, attempted to take off the head of one of Jesus’ enemies. Neither David nor Jesus allowed his enemy to be beheaded.

v. 10-11- God’s will (Isaiah 53:10, Matthew 26:39, Galatians 3:13)
David wasn’t sure whether or not God was cursing him through Shimei. Jesus knew “it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” When Jesus asked in the garden for God to “let this cup pass” from Him, God said no. “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” Galatians tells us. It was God’s will for Christ to be cursed for us.

v. 12- The reward (Philippians 2:8-10)
David hoped God (lit.) “will look upon my affliction” and repay him with good for this cursing. God did repay Jesus with good for being cursed on the tree of Calvary for our sake:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

v. 13- Forbearance (Isaiah 53:7)
David did not retaliate or even speak to Shimei, but bore his cursing patiently as he walked along the road. Jesus did the same with those who lashed out at Him as He walked the road to the cross:

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

v.14- Crossing over Jordan (Luke 23:43)
The Jordan River was the last hurdle the Israelites had to conquer before entering the Promised Land. “Crossing over Jordan” is often used as a metaphor in songs (especially spirituals, e.g. “Wayfaring Stranger”) for dying. After David’s “near death experience” he wearily came to the Jordan and refreshed himself. King Jesus reached the “Jordan” weary from the cross, and “refreshed Himself” later that day in Paradise.

She-you, She-me, Shemei
If David represents Jesus in this story, who does Shimei represent? Us. Before we were saved, we were Shemei, born into the house of the enemy. We only saw things from our own sinful perspective. Even though we might have thought we had this God thing all figured out, we didn’t know Him and were unable to see or understand His ways. While we might not ever have literally said anything bad about the Lord as Shimei did with David, our sin rained curses down on Christ and made false accusations against Him. We lived our lives in rebellion against, and rejection of, the King. It was treason– a crime worthy of the eternal death penalty. But Jesus, in His kindness, mercy, and grace, bore it patiently and did not strike back at us.

2 Samuel 19:16-17a, 18b-23

The Second Bold Approach: Taking His Life in His Hands
The first time Shimei approached David, it was in arrogance and self-righteousness. This time, he humbles himself. The first time he approached David, Shimei didn’t see him as king. This time, Shimei knows David is the king. Shimei knows all about a king’s power, the power over life and death. Shimei isn’t throwing stones now; he’s throwing himself at David’s feet. He isn’t cursing; he’s repenting. Pleading, even. “Please don’t hold me guilty. Please don’t take what I did and said to heart.” He’s no longer accusing David of sin, he’s confessing and taking responsibility for his own sin without making excuses. All he can hope for is David’s mercy.

Abishai is right in wanting to put Shimei to death. He deserves it. The law demands it. Abishai knows it. David knows it. Shimei knows it. But even though Shimei– the one worthy of death—had tried to kill David (whom God had said would not die 12:13)—David extends mercy, grace, and pardon to him. David knows he’s king and knows the extent of his power, and he uses that power to forgive.

David and Shimei, Jesus and Me
As with Shimei, God awakens us to the fact that we have sinned against an all powerful King, the holy God of the universe. Now we know He’s the King. We know about God’s power—the power over life and death, and eternal life and death. Instead of approaching Him in arrogance and self-prayerrighteousness as Shimei did with David at first, we humble ourselves. We throw ourselves at Christ’s feet in repentance. “Please don’t hold me guilty. Please don’t take what I did and said to heart.” We confess our sin and take responsibility for it with no excuses. All we can hope for is Christ’s mercy. We deserve death. God’s law demands it. We know it, and God knows it. But even though we—the ones worthy of death—put Jesus on the cross with our sin, He extends mercy, grace, and pardon to us. Jesus knows He’s the King and knows the extent of His power, and He uses that power to forgive.

Celebrity Pastors, Discernment, False Teachers, Social Media

Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet

social media sharingfacebook-large

Scroll…scroll…wince…

Scroll…scroll…wince…

I find myself wincing a bit when I see people –who I know genuinely love Jesus—sharing, pinning, and re-tweeting quotes from false teachers such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Christine Caine, just to name a few. Why? What’s wrong with the encouraging, even biblical, at times, things these people say?

First of all, let me back up a little. What is a “false teacher”? A false teacher is someone who is billed as a Christian pastor or Bible teacher who habitually and unrepentantly writes, teaches, or preaches things that conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture. For example, all four of the people I listed above teach some version of the prosperity gospel, the false teaching that is most rampant in the Western church today. Additionally, T.D. Jakes adheres to the false doctrine of modalism, and Joyce Meyer and Christine Caine blatantly disobey the Bible’s teaching that women are not to be pastors or instruct men in the Scriptures in the church.

These days, it can be difficult to keep up with who teaches sound doctrine and who does not, especially when pastors and teachers we thought were theologically orthodox seem to be turning apostate at an alarming rate. I myself have been a fan of more than one popular writer/teacher/preacher that I later realized was a false teacher (Joyce Meyer was one of them.) as I delved into what they actually taught and believed and compared it to God’s word. I know first hand that it’s easy to think that these people are good biblical teachers and preachers when what they say sounds good, makes us feel good, and has an occasional Bible verse sprinkled in.

Because I’ve been there myself and know how easy it can be to be drawn in by false teachers, I don’t have any less respect for folks who re-tweet the occasional Osteen-ism of the day. th (1)In fact, I have more respect for them, because I know they love the Lord, they’re making an effort to find biblical teaching to listen to, and they have the courage to try to share the gospel with their friends and family via social media. Those are all fantastically good things, and they are to be commended.

But, still, the quotes we share and the people who said them matter. Why?

1. Lost people’s eternities are at stake.
Seriously? From hitting the “share” button on a false teacher’s status? Seriously. I don’t think that’s overstating the gravity of the matter. There’s no way to take the possibility of an eternity in hell too seriously.

Think about it: You have an unsaved Facebook friend. She’s getting to the point in her life where she figures it’s time to get her stuff together, so she starts looking into this whole Jesus thing. Where to start? She’s never even set foot inside a church. Aha! She remembers you’re a Christian. Maybe you’ll have a good lead for her. As she’s thinking about all this, you share Joyce Meyer’s status, and it appears in your friend’s news feed. “Ah,” your friend thinks, “this must be a good Bible teacher if my Christian friend follows her.” So she “likes” Joyce Meyer’s Facebook page and follows her on Twitter. Then she starts watching her on TV. Buys some of her books. Maybe attends one of her conferences. Because your friend has zero knowledge of the Bible, she believes everything Joyce Meyer says. It sounds good. It makes her feel good. She’s hearing a few out of context Bible verses here and there. But the problem is that Joyce Meyer doesn’t teach the Jesus of the Bible. She teaches a false god of her own creation. And if your friend doesn’t put her faith in the true Jesus of the Bible, she’s just as lost as she was before. Only now she thinks she’s a Christian. And you can’t convince her otherwise.

Sound far fetched? Maybe. Maybe not. But if there’s even the slightest chance something like that could happen, is it really worth justifying that status share? Furthermore, is it worth even following a teacher who could lead someone you love to an eternity in hell?

2. It gives false teachers free publicity and a broader platform.
One thing I was very surprised to learn when I first began the process of having my book published is that publishers want non-fiction writers to have a built in audience, or “platform,” before they will publish your book. That means you’re already doing speaking engagements and/or have a decent sized ministry, have lots of followers on social media, etc. As I once explained to someone, “You don’t get your book published and then become (celebrity Bible teacher) you have to be (celebrity Bible teacher) in order to get published.”

human-334110_640Social media stats are a big factor in a celebrity preacher’s/teacher’s platform. If T.D. Jakes suddenly lost the majority of his social media followers, you can bet the TV stations he’s on and the conferences he gets invited to would be taking a serious look at whether or not they’d continue to affiliate with him, because it would indicate that his audience is shrinking.

Conversely, when we re-pin, re-post, or re-tweet these folks, their social media stats go up. They not only get a broader platform on social media from which to spread their unbiblical teaching, they continue to get more book, radio, TV, and other media deals, get invited to speak at more conferences, and even start exporting their false teaching overseas (“missions”) to people who have never heard the gospel before and have no way of knowing they’re being lied to.

When we promote false teachers on social media, we bear some of the responsibility for the spread of their false doctrine.

3. It is disobedient to Scripture.
Often, when a Christian is told she’s following a false teacher, the common response is, “Oh, I just chew up the meat and spit out the bones,” meaning that she takes to heart the “good” things the false teacher has to say and ignores the bad.

The question is: where does the Bible say this is the correct way to deal with false teachers? Answer: it doesn’t. In fact Scripture says exactly the opposite.

For starters, Galatians 1:6-9 says that if anyone preaches a different gospel (such as the prosperity gospel) from the one that’s set down in Scripture, “let him be accursed.” “Accursed” means “damned,” sentenced to hell for eternity.

1 Timothy 4:7 and Titus 3:10 say that we are to have nothing to do with people who teach “irreverent or silly myths” or cause division by teaching false doctrine.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 tells us not to be joined together or partner with unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness, Belial (the devil), or idols.

1 Corinthians 5:7-13 tells us that when a person infiltrates the church who claims to be a Christian, yet is greedy, an idolater, or a swindler— all of which are things that prosperity preachers are guilty of— we are to “cleanse out the old leaven.” We are “not to associate” with them. We are to “purge the evil person from among you.”

Titus 1:10-16 says of false teachers, “They must be silenced,” because they teach “for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” Paul instructs Titus to “rebuke them sharply,” and that, “they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

The entire second chapter of 2 Peter paints a dismal picture of the motives, the behavior, and the fate of false teachers:

“Because of them, the way of truth will be blasphemed.”

“In their greed they will exploit you with false words.”

They will “be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.”

“They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.”

“They entice unsteady souls.”

“For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.”

“They promise them [people who listen to their false teaching] freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.”

The entire epistle of Jude is dedicated to exhorting Christians to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Of false teachers, Jude says:

“Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…Woe to them!”

There’s more, because a large portion of the New Testament is dedicated to exhorting Christians to stay away from false doctrine and rebuke those who teach it, but I think you get the picture. Is it obedient to Christ and to His word to follow and promote someone He says is damnable? People who teach another gospel, such as the prosperity gospel, are the enemies of Christ. Who are we going to side with, Christ or His enemies?

 4. It is unloving and disloyal to our Master.
Think about the person you love the most in this world. Maybe it’s your spouse, your child, a parent, or a friend. Next, think about your favorite celebrity, perhaps a movie star, a TV personality, or a famous author or athlete. Now try to imagine that that celebrity, in interviews with journalists, on talk shows he appears on, at personal appearances and speaking engagements, in books he writes, etc., routinely tells lies about the character of your dearest loved one. And ththousands, maybe millions, of people believe him.

Would you continue to be a fan of that celebrity?

What if your loved one found out you were a fan of that celebrity? How would she feel to know you were a fan of someone who spreads lies about her?

If we wouldn’t follow someone who lies about a loved one, how much less should we as Christians have anything to do with a celebrity preacher, teacher, or author who drags the name of our precious Savior through the mud and lies about the gospel?

Friends, for all of these reasons and more, let’s stop promoting these false teachers on social media by publicizing their quotes and other materials. Looking for an encouraging quote to share? There’s nothing better than a verse of Scripture. Because Scripture can offer people something that false teachers can’t: truth and hope. As Jesus Himself said,

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17

Forgiveness, Obedience, Old Testament, Sin, Sunday School

David’s Sin: You da Man! ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-18-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 20 ~ May 11-17
1 Chronicles 19-20, 2 Samuel 10-18, Psalm 20, 65-67, 69-70, 32, 51, 86, 122, 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55
David’s Sin: You da Man!

 

www-St-Takla-org--david

How could David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), sink to the level of committing adultery and murder? What was he thinking? How did he respond to being confronted by Nathan? What can we learn about how to deal with our own sin?

2 Samuel 11, 12:1-15, Psalm 51

2 Samuel 11- Setting the Stage for Sin

v. 1- “But David remained at Jerusalem.”
As we’ve read about David’s previous battles, where did we always find David when the fighting was going on? Back at the palace? No. He was out there with his men, leading things. This time, he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be. Can you think of a time when you were somewhere you knew you shouldn’t have been, which led to temptation?

v. 3- Eliam and Uriah: Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:34, 39)
Both Eliam and Uriah were part of David’s mighty men. These weren’t just nameless, faceless Joe Blows in his army, but part of his inner circle who had been with him through thick and thin with fierce loyalty.

v. 4- The paternity test
Lest there be any question that maybe this was Uriah’s baby after all, verse 4 makes clear that the reason David saw Bathsheba bathing was that she was cleansing herself after “that time of the month.” David took her afterwards and Uriah was miles away at the battle, so only David could have been the father.

v. 8- Making Whoopee
(If you don’t know what that means, you’re not old enough to remember “The Newlywed Game” from the 1960s-70s. YouTube it.) “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” Since washing was done right before bed, this idiom meant for Uriah to go home and enjoy “knowing” his wife in the biblical sense.

thv. 9-13- A man of valor
Uriah, possibly inspired by David’s past honorable leadership, acted more valiantly and loyally here than his king did.

v. 4, 26- A willing participant?
Notice that this passage doesn’t tell us anything about what Bathsheba was thinking or feeling about all this. Remember, David was the king. You didn’t say no to the king if you wanted to live, especially if you were a woman. And furthermore, she knew he was “God’s anointed.” Surely such a man wouldn’t lead her to do anything wrong, would he? So, even if Bathsheba had been attracted to David, there was some level of coercion and advantage taking going on here on David’s part. Verse 26 makes a special point of telling us that she lamented over her husband. She loved him. David didn’t just sin with Bathsheba, he also sinned against her.

v. 27- Evil
I think in this case, the HCSB captures this verse better than the ESV (my preferred/usual translation): “The Lord considered what David had done to be evil.” That pretty much sums up what David had done, and it sums up our sin in God’s eyes as well. Evil.

 

2 Samuel 12:1-15- A Guilty Verdict

v. 1- Confronathan
Nathan wasn’t just a prophet; he was David’s friend and adviser. God sent him to confront David about his sin, and gave him the wisdom and the words to do it in exactly the right way.

v.1-4- The cast of characters
The rich man represented David. The poor man represented Uriah. The lamb represented Bathsheba. What do you think the traveler represented?

v. 4- Leaving out the welcome mat for temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The traveler represented David’s temptation. Temptation is a lot like a visit from a traveling salesman. It comes and goes, it shows up unexpectedly, and it always tries to get you to spend more than you want to on something that seems fabulous but never lives up to the hype. When temptation rang David’s doorbell, he flung open the door and welcomed it in as an invited guest. As new creatures in Christ, we don’t have to do that. 1 Corinthians 10 says God will always provide a way for us to escape temptation.

One of those ways of escape is to not be home to answer the door. As I mentioned earlier, David wasn’t even supposed to be home when that temptation came around. He was supposed to be out on the battlefield with his troops. One way to avoid temptation is to be where you’re supposed to be and not be where you’re not supposed to be.

v. 4- Offering sacrifices to the idol of self
We also see in verse 4 that the rich man not only refused to send the traveler away and welcomed him in, but he also slaughtered a lamb to feed the traveler. The Israelites did slaughter lambs for food, but what else did they slaughter lambs for? Sacrifices.

David didn’t just welcome temptation in, he sacrificed for it. He was no longer sacrificing to honor God, but to gratify his own selfish desires. He sacrificed things that belonged to him—his integrity, his morals, his reputation, his example to his people, and his relationship with God. But he also sacrificed Bathsheba and Uriah who did NOT belong to him.

What are some ways we might sacrifice things, or others, for sin?

v. 5-6- The log in his eye (Matthew 7:3-5)
Isn’t it interesting how we can so clearly see the sin of others while simultaneously being blind to our own sin? “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3)

“He had no pity.” David never considered how his actions would affect Uriah and Bathsheba. He only thought about himself. Temptation and sin blind us to what we’re doing to ourselves, others, and God.

v. 7ff- Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6, Galatians 6:1-2, John 15:13)
Nathan was acting in three roles here. He was David’s friend, his brother in the Lord, and the man of God, and he loved David in all three capacities by showing him his sin. In the same way, we are to love our friends, our sisters in Christ, E1221909136and those under our spiritual leadership or influence. We care enough about them to help them out of sin, even at the risk of the relationship (Gal. 6)

Nathan confronted David wisely. Remember, David was the king—he could do (and had done) whatever he wanted to do, and he had already killed one man. Nathan knew this going in. Nathan also acted lovingly, boldly, and firmly. His commitment to what God had told him to do was greater than the love of his own life (John 15) or the love of his relationship with David. How often do we look the other way to keep the peace or preserve a relationship with someone instead of obeying what God has told us to do?

v. 7-9- Against Thee, Thee only…
I, I, I, I… Notice how many times God refers to Himself in these three verses? He is making it clear—and David gets the message as we will see in Psalm 51:4—that it is primarily God against whom David has sinned. Though others may be casualties or collateral damage (as Uriah and Bathsheba were), when we sin, we set ourselves up as enemies of God and wage war against Him.

v. 8- Gimme, gimme (Hebrews 13:5)
If all God had blessed him with had not been enough, God would have given him more. The fact that God had not given him more shows us that God had given David exactly what He wanted him to have. But David was not content with all the blessings God had given him. He selfishly wanted things God didn’t want him to have.

v. 9-10- Hatred for God’s word = Hatred for God
“Despised” and “evil”- When we sin, no matter how “small” it is, we are showing hatred for God’s word. Hating God’s word is evil. Notice in v. 9, “you have despised the word of the Lord,” and in v. 10, “you have despised me.” To despise God’s word is to despise God Himself.

v. 11-12- Public discipline for private sin? (Numbers 32:23)
Why did God discipline David publicly when he had sinned privately?

First, David had not sinned completely privately. Many people knew at least part of what he had done: the servants he sent to take Bathsheba in the first place (4), the servants who were in the house at the time(s) of the affair, Joab, likely several of the soldiers serving directly under Joab and with Uriah, probably the messenger who brought word of Uriah’s death, Nathan, and of course, Bathsheba herself. And you can bet that a lot of those people didn’t keep what they knew to themselves. “Your sin will find you out,” (Num. 32) is certainly true, especially for sins of this magnitude.

With all those people knowing what David had done, how would it reflect on God if He disciplined David privately? It would look as though God had given him a pass, that certain, special people were above God’s law. That’s how things were for kings of pagan nations. Israel and Israel’s God were different, not like the other nations. Furthermore, it would have diminished God’s justice in the eyes of Israel if God disciplined David privately and Israel couldn’t see it. How could they trust His justice if it looked like His justice was inconsistent?

Second, David was famous, highly visible. Like it or not, he set an example for the people. When he did right, it was a good example. Here, he did wrong and it was a bad example. Through his actions and God’s visible discipline, the people learned what not to do in their own lives.

v. 13- Admission of guilt
David didn’t try to justify his sin or retaliate against Nathan. It is precisely because he was a man after God’s own heart that he simply and humbly confessed, “I have sinned.”

v. 13-14- God’s merciful forgiveness
Because David confessed his sin and repented of it, God mercifully forgave him. While David had said the “rich man” should die for his sin (5), and David was guilty of crimes deserving the death penalty, God removed that penalty from him. The consequences of his sin would remain (the death of the baby), but the punishment was taken away.

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Psalm 51- Repentance and Restoration

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Obedience, Old Testament, Sovereignty of God, Sunday School

David and God’s Big Picture ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-11-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 19 ~ May 4-10
1 Chronicles 13-18, 2 Samuel 5:11-9, Psalm 1-2, 15, 22-25, 47, 68, 89, 96, 100-101, 105, 132, 29, 33, 36, 39, 50, 53, 60, 75
David and God’s Big Picture

2 Samuel 7/1 Chronicles 17
This passage is the institution of the Davidic covenant: God’s promise to establish the throne of David forever through the eventual birth and reign of Jesus. God, in His sovereignty, had a plan that David was part of. A plan with farther reaching impact than just David’s life. But God’s call on David’s life was the same as His call on our lives: to love and serve Him faithfully wherever He has put us.

crown-and-thorns

2 Samuel 5:12
Right from the beginning of David’s reign, he recognized two very important things about his life that we should also recognize:

1. God is sovereign (1 Samuel 16:1-13, 1 Peter 2:9).
It was God who had made David king over Israel, not anything intrinsically worthy in David himself. Remember that when God chose David to be king back in 1 Samuel 16, David was just a shepherd in his late teens or early 20s. Nothing special. Just an average guy. In fact, God told Samuel not to pay attention to outward signs of “specialness” in David’s older brothers. He had his own reasons for choosing David.

In the same way, when God calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet.) for salvation, it’s not because there’s anything intrinsically good in us. In fact, everything’s bad about us because we are drenched in sin. But for His own reasons, whatever they are, God has called us out to save us.

2. David’s life was not his own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Matthew 20:28)
The second half of this verse does not say that “David knew… that the Lord had…exalted his kingdom” so David would be happy or comfortable or have a life of purpose. God established David’s kingdom “for the sake of His people Israel.” While God certainly blessed David along the way, God is about God. His main objective is His plans, His purposes, and His glory, not our happiness and contentment. This, of course, doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about us individually—far from it!

blurry-sky-cross1 Corinthians tells us our lives are not our own because we were bought with a price (the blood of Christ). We no longer belong to Satan, slaves of our sinful natures, living to gratify our own desires, pawns in his plan of trying to thwart God’s will. We belong to God to use as He sees fit for His plans and purposes.

One of the pitfalls of the American mindset is that it has taught us to focus on ourselves as individuals, often to the exclusion of what is good for our neighbors, our community, our state, nation, and world. We think in terms of “my rights,” “my enjoyment,” and “How will this affect me?” (Just so you know, I’m not a communist or a socialist when it comes to government. I’m just talking about this “me-centered” mentality.) This crosses over into our Christian lives. We often get so focused on our own lives, what we think God is or isn’t doing in them or with them, and how whatever He is doing is affecting us personally, that we forget that God has a huge plan for the entirety of human history and the universe. Whatever He’s up to right now may be about someone else, not you or me. We need to be more aware of God’s “big picture.”

As with David, God gives us our authority and circles of influence for the good of others, to bless them and serve them, even as Jesus came, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life for others (Matt. 20). The good news is that when we are on board with this, we get something much better than fleeting things like earthly happiness and comfort. We get eternal joy, peace, and a glimpse of the glory of God as we obey and cooperate with His plan.

You can’t always get what you want (2 Samuel 7:1- 7, 1 Samuel 13:14)
Because our lives are not our own, cooperating with God’s big picture plans sometimes means that we don’t get to do what we want to do, even if what we want to do is good and godly.

www-St-Takla-org--110--Solomon-Builds-the-Temple-3David was a “man after God’s own heart.” He loved the Lord and wanted to thank and honor Him by building Him a temple. What he wanted to do was an honorable and worshipful thing, and the motives of his heart were pure. But that was not the role God wanted David to play in the unfolding of His plan, nor was it the right time. The person God wanted to fulfill that part of His plan, at a later time, was Solomon.

As we discussed last week, seeking godly counsel is an important part of making godly decisions. David did this by consulting Nathan, the prophet. However, praying and asking for God’s guidance and wisdom is also essential before taking on something like building a temple, and both David and Nathan neglected to do so.

Graciously, even though they hadn’t come to God, God came to Nathan and explained things. God pointed out that in all this time, He had never asked anyone to build Him a permanent house. God had been just fine in a tent up to this point, and would be just fine until He decided it was time for Solomon to build the temple.

Sometimes, even if something is godly and part of God’s plan, He wants someone else to do it.

But you can always get what you need (2 Samuel 7:8-17, Luke 2: 26-33)
What David needed and what we need, is to be faithful and obedient to God wherever He has placed us. This doesn’t mean God will necessarily have us in the same place all our lives (though He might). After all, He took David from shepherd to warrior to king. But David served God faithfully in each of those positions for as long as God had him in those positions.

Ultimately, the role God wanted David to play in His plan was to be the king through whom God initiated the Davidic Covenant. Though David sought to build God a house, it was God who would build David a house (11, Luke 2). It would be an eternal house, first through his descendants who would be temporal kings, and, finally, through the Messiah, Jesus, who would reign forever and whose kingdom would know no end.

David’s Response (2 Samuel 7:18-29)

Humility (18-20)
David was overwhelmed by the fact that, though he wanted to do something big for God, God was going to do something big through him.

Exaltation (21-24)
David again recognized that it was God’s sovereignty that brought all this about, not his own awesomeness (21). He praised God’s greatness, holiness, and superiority to all else (22). He recounted God’s mighty deeds of the past and how He glorified Himself through His chosen people, Israel (23-24)

I’m in! (25-29)
David didn’t express doubt or hesitate to jump in with both feet. He didn’t whine that what he really wanted to do was build the temple. He embraced God’s plan obediently and joined in thankfully and wholeheartedly.

David glorified God for His “macro” plan (25-26) – the coming of the Messiah and everything leading up to it – and also for His “micro” plan (27-29) – realizing that if he cooperated with God’s plan, he and his family would be blessed along the way. Notice that David (29) did ask for God to bless his house and descendants, but not for personal/family gain. He asked that God would bless his family to fulfill and cooperate with God’s plan.

When God places us in any situation, whether blessing or hardship, our response should mirror David’s. We should be obedient to God, never stepping outside of His word to pursue things He doesn’t want for us, even if they seem godly. And, with humility and praise, we should embrace God’s plan, cooperating with Him joyfully.

What about all the non-Davids? (Exodus 12:37, Mark 7:37, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)
Sometimes when we read the Bible, we come to stories like David, Moses, Joshua, Noah, and Paul, and we can get the impression that God calls everyone to do great big things for Him as part of his plan. We tend to forget that when the Israelites left Egypt, there were likely 1.5 to 2 million of them. And only one Moses. By David’s time, there were likely several million Israelites. And only one David. What about the millions of Israelites who were born, grew up, got married, went to blue collar jobs every day, and died, having the-israelites-withoutlived lives of quiet faithfulness to God but never having had God make a covenant with them or being called to kill a giant or part a sea? Did God love them less? Value their love for Him less?

Why does God use some people in big, visible, fame-creating ways, and some in invisible ways? The answer, as is often the case when we’re dealing with God is, “I don’t know.” That’s one of the things that makes Him God and us not God. It’s his business, not ours. We trust that He does all things well (Mark 7) and that when He says that we are to “live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands” (1 Thess. 4), He means it, and that lives of quiet faithfulness are precious in His eyes.

 

God has a plan. All of us who are His children have a part to play in that plan. Our part, whether big and visible or quiet and invisible, is to love and trust Him more each day and live obediently and faithfully wherever He places us.