July 25th II Samuel 11-12, I Chronicles 20

I am aware that today is not the 25th of July; but due to computer problems I was unable to post on Friday and I really don’t want the text in II Samuel 11 to be missed because it has so much to show us.

In II Samuel chapter 11 we see David, a man after God’s own heart, making some grave decisions that lead to disastrous results.  As we look at this story of David and Bathsheba it is a stark reminder that any one of us is capable of almost anything when we let sin creep in our lives.  David did not wake up one morning and decide to become the murder of one of his prized military men (Urriah). This was something that began with a simple sin and that sin escalated.  Romans 6:12 tells us that we are not to let sin “Reign in our mortal bodies” because we would become a slave to that sin.  The verse goes on to say “…that you obey its lusts thereof…”  Sin, when let in just a little takes a mile as the old cliche says.  My friends, if this could happen to David, it can most definitely happen to us.  I believe that this is why we have this story recorded; it is written for an example to us and a reminder that we cannot handle sin in our lives, sin destroys.  The root of David’s sin, I believe, was pride and we need to watch pride in our lives.  The pride that says “I would never do that..” can destroy us.  The pride that lets us involve ourselves  in things that may tempt us because we believe that we are at a higher standard and cannot be tempted is a dangerous pride.  David’s ordeal stair-stepped in severity as we see unfold in the text:

The chapter starts out telling us that it was in the spring time when kings go off to war, but David was in his palace.  I would imagine that those around David began to tell him that he was too important to his nation to go out to war and that if he were killed the nation would crumble.  At any rate we see that due to pride, David was not where he was supposed to be, he instead was at home in his palace (with all of the women left behind during the time of war I may add).  If David were never on that roof top that fateful day he would have never committed fraud, adultery, declension or murder.  What seemed to be such a small thing was not a small thing at all.  Just simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I often wonder if the people of God were in the right place at the right time at all times how much better life would be for us.

Due to David being where he wasn’t supposed to be he looked where he ought not have been looking and things spiraled downward from there.  I imagine that David didn’t just glance at the woman in her bath that day.  I picture David gleaning a glance, that glance turned into a stare and that stare turned into pacing on his roof contemplating.  James 1:14-15 states:  “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.  Lust after it has conceived bringeth forth sin and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”

Davids pride, location and lust brought him to an all time low in life.  The prayer warrior David who was called by God “a man after my own heart” has now committed adultery.  Adultery lead to lying, lying led to trickery (bringing her husband home from battle) trickery ended in murder.  Oh, what a slippery slope just a little sin brings in our lives!  David stooped so low that he had Urriah the Hittite deliver his own death sentence to Joab the general by hand.

My friends we would do well to look at this lesson and “Hide God’s Word in our hearts that we may not sin against Him.”

July 24th Psalms chapters 65-67, 69-70

Today we are going to focus on the reading in Psalm chapter 69.  This Psalm is a psalm of David who is pleading to God because of his enemies that have surrounded him.  As he pleads and asks God to curse his enemies we see something different also coming to light in these verses.  Before we dive into the extra meaning in the text let me remind you that the psalms were written in between the years of 600 B.C. and 1,400 B.C.  This is very important to remember as we look on.

This Psalm, while indeed is talking about David’s life and David’s adversaries, is also talking about Jesus the Messiah and His crucifixion.  Let’s look at just a couple things that we can glean from these verses:  

Verse 3 states the dry throat and eyes that are weary from crying, (John 19:28)

verse 4 “being my enemies wrongfully” (John 19:4)

vs verse 7 “because for Your sake I have borne reproach” verse 9 “zeal for your house has eaten me up. (John 2:17)

verse 9 “the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me” (He took our reproach)

verse 20 “Reproach has broken my heart” When they placed the spear in His side, blood and water flowed.  This is caused by the pericardium being filled with fluid (congestive heart failure) causing the heart to implode on itself and break.  (John 19:34)

verse 21  “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Matthew 27:34)

 

This is another example of the inspired Word of God.  This is a testimony of the death of Christ hundreds of years before it had happened.  Look at these chapters also in psalms:  Psalm 53 and Psalm 22

 

July 22nd Psalms chapters 50, 53, 60, 75

Today we see in Psalm chapter 53:2-3 a re-occurring theme through the Bible.  This theme is that we were born into sin.  Romans chapter 3 (verses 10 and 11 especially) stress this once again.  The realization of this fact is the first step into a true relationship with Jesus Christ.  With out this knowledge every effort made to please God is absolutely worthless.  When  Jesus preached the sermon on the mound (Matthew chapter 5) He began with the phrase “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”  When we look at that phrase it might, at first, seem to counter dict itself because the meaning of the word “blessed” means joy, or happiness.  But the Words that Jesus spoke were the beginning of the life of a true believer.  If you can remember when your school had “spirit day” back when you were a teen you may remember what that day was all about.  This day was set aside for students and faculty to hold their school and their teems in high esteem.  Cheer leaders would chant “we’re number one” and the students would rally around the school mascot.  In the life of one who has had an encounter with the Word of God the realization is exactly the opposite.  When we, as sinful beings, are confronted with the Word of God and His statutes, we realize how far we fall short and how desperately we need Him.  The plain fact that there is nothing that we can do to become like Him is evident; and the need for His atoning death to take our sin is at the fore front of our mind and life.  At this point in life we will have a true perspective of our fallen state and it is the first step in coming to Christ and repenting.  This is a bitter sweet moment, we are poor in Spirit as we look inward, but yet we become keenly aware of the way that leads to righteousness and life; Jesus Christ.  

July 18th Psalm chapters: 89, 96, 100-101, 105, 132

This morning we will look mainly at Psalm 89 but first let’s look at the nature of this book of the Bible that is different than all of the others.  The book of Psalms in the Hebrew language is titled “praises” and the Rabbis later called it “the book of praises” and the Greek verb from which the noun “Psalm” comes from, means “plucking or twanging of strings.”  So what we have here is the ancient, inspired hymn book of God’s chosen people.                                                              (The above notes are taken from the title notes of John MacArthur).

I imagine that I am not alone when I say that, we as believers, fickle people.  There are some days that I just wake up with His praise on my lips and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for me in His Word.  On these days my prayer life is anticipated and there is great joy in His presence; I will begin to thank Him for blessings that usually go un-noticed and He brings to mind additional things that He has blessed me with; and the time spent in quiet with Him are wonderful, personal and fulfilling.  But there are other days that this is just not so.  I would love to tell everyone that I always have that attitude of thanksgiving and that I always yearn to be in His presence; but to put it bluntly, that would be an outright lie.  There are days that I am so wrapped up in myself that I don’t even think about all that He has done for me.  On those days my prayer life is more like a griping session or like a brand new believer’s prayer life that looks more like a wish list for Santa Clause.  I am fickle!  People and situations around me change the way that I think, feel and act.  I am not condoning it, in fact, I hate it.  But even in my foolishness and self-centeredness God shows me how wonderful that He is.  He never has been, or ever will be, fickle!   God is righteous, perfect and unchanging.  He loves me on the days when I am on “cloud nine” and He loves me when I am utterly depressed and self loathing.  He has decided, knowing everything that I have ever done or ever will do, what I have thought or ever will think, that He is going to love me regardless.  Please look again at Psalm 89:30-37 below:

30 “If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, 31 If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments, 32 Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. 33 Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail. 34 My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. 35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: 36 His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; 37 It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah

Although God, as a good father would, will chastise His children; He will not remove His loving kindness or allow His faithfulness to fail.  It is so good to know that our lives and our eternity rest in His hands and not our own!  I love how verse 37 sums it up; Let me put it into the PSV (That’s the “Pastor Steve Version”)  As sure as the moon will be in its place, my faithfulness and loving kindness will remain for you.  What a magnificent God we serve!

 

Just a note, in case it is driving you crazy:  The word “Selah” is a symbol for a pause, especially in music.  So the lyric would stop as the music played on.  It is also there for, I believe, a reverent pause.  It would be a time to stop for a second and consider what is being said. 

July 17th Psalms chapters 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68

In today’s blog we will focus will in on Psalm.  If I write about all of them I may end up writing a book.

Psalm chapter one has a focus on happiness.  The word “blessed” is equal to the word happy or joyful.  So, in these few verses we get six things that bring joy to the life of the believer.  The first three are things that we should not do and the second three things are things that we should do.  So we basically have the readers digest version of God’s book on happiness.

what not to do to be happy:

#1 “walks not in the counsel of the ungodly”  This statement is not referring to seeing a professional counselor, but instead I believe it refers to the people that you associate with.  The old phrase states “birds of a feather flock together”.  God is giving us wisdom, in a stair step fashion,  about our relationships.  The definition of “walks” in the original language suggests the people that you associate with.  To put in today’s terms it would the people that we hang out with. I have seen, many times in youth ministry, a student who was doing quite well; but when unwisely choosing their friends, they strayed away from the teachings of their parents and the scriptures.  This is true of us as adults also.  So to be happy in life, don’t make ungodly people in your close circle of friends.

#2  “Nor stands in the way of the sinner”  This statement is a stair step from the last.  To stand in the way of the sinner is plainly saying “don’t go where ungodly people go.  I used to watch the show Cops in years past and nine times out of ten the person being arrested would have been just fine if they had been in the right place.  If we surround ourselves with ungodly people we will end up in foolish places.  Foolish places can place us in situations that cause disaster.

#3  “Nor sits in the seat of the scornful”  This statement is another step in what is being laid out for us.  If we surround ourselves with the ungodly, we will find ourselves in the wrong places.  When we find ourselves in the wrong places we begin to do the things that are being done by those that are there also.  To “sit in the seat” is to do what they are doing.  The “scornful” is defined from the original as “to make mouths at”.  All of us have seen a child or teen mock someone by moving their mouth sarcastically.  If we are numbered with these folks, we will be where they are and in the end it will lead to open mockery of the things of God.

What to do to be happy:

#1  “His delight is in the Law of the Lord”  Stay in His Word!  This is the first and foremost instruction that leads to happiness.   It should be the delight of our lives.  We should read it, study it, hear it preached and live it.  God’s word= happiness

#2  “and in the Law does he meditate day and night..”  Thoughts of Him and His Word should be constantly on our mind.  There is something else that we need to realize about this second step in our “to do ” list:  In order to meditate on it we must know it.  We should “hide God’s Word in our heart” as the Psalmist says.  If He is really number one in our lives; should we not know His Word? Many say that they cannot memorize scripture either because it is too hard or they are too old.  My friends there are many things that folks have no problem memorizing; things like sports stats, hunting seasons, race car drivers and the like.  We remember what we delight in.  If it is our true delight, we will put it to memory.

#3  “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.”  The word planted is better translated “transplanted”  A tree cannot plant itself!  But; if we delight in the Law of the Lord then He will do the planting and that planting will produce fruit.  We cannot produce the fruit, but if we allow Him to transplant our lives due to a deep desire to please Him He will bring fruit.  There is no more happiness in life than seeing God use you to bring a soul to His Son.  It is amazing and it is also, in my opinion, the greatest joy we will ever experience.

July 16th II Samuel 5:11-6:23 & I Chronicles 13-16

Today as we read we can see how it may be confusing as we read through these books if the chronological order were to be misunderstood.  We see the story line in II Samuel, but in the Chronicles of of Judah we get a more descriptive narrative.

It may cause us to wonder why Uzzah was struck down as he touched the ark of the covenant; after all he was only trying to help wasn’t he?  Not a lot of detail is given in the story line in II Samuel, but more comes to light when we see the rest of the story in I Chronicles.  God wasn’t not showing wrath against one man for a meaningless infringement, but He was showing the seriousness of not correctly handling the things of God.  On the ark was the mercy seat.  The mercy seat is the picture of the risen Christ, who has paid for our sin.  There were special instructions in dealing with this mercy seat as David realizes after the fact (I Chron. 15:11-15).  This is a very serious picture for us as believers in dealing with the handling of the Gospel.  We cannot “handle Jesus” if you will, in a way that seems fitting to us.  We must come to Him and preach of Him on His terms.  So many people today try to “help” as Uzzah did when handling the most precious things of God.  Some think that they do well by creating an easiesm to the Gospel of the one who provides mercy and sits currently on the mercy seat.  But there is only one way to obtain mercy and that is on His terms.  We do not come before him flippantly quoting a magical prayer that allows us to obtain mercy.  We need to, according to Jesus, come to Him broken and repentant (see Matthew chapter 5).  Luke 9:23 says that we must “take up our cross daily” showing that we are to die to ourselves every day to be a true follower.  Romans states in chapter twelve that we are to be living sacrifices and Paul says in Galatians chapter two that he is “crucified with Christ.”  Those who have truly obtained mercy are the ones who have followed the guidelines laid out by God Himself.  There is no other way but His way and there is no tolerance for any other way.  Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and no man comes to the Father but by Him; and Jesus preached a gospel of repentance.  John the Baptist preached “repent! for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”.   John  said “Repent and be baptized for the remittance of sins.  Baptism is the first step of obedience.  Jesus said, in what seemed to be bewilderment: “Why do you call me Lord, but do not do what I tell you to do.”  We cannot come to the mercy seat of Christ on any terms but His and the out come of our own ideas will be fatal.  Sadly, there are myriads of people who will find out too late  (Mathew chapter 7).

July 11th I Chronicles chapters 7-10

In today’s reading we see again the tragic ending of king Saul.  We can learn from Saul’s mistakes indeed, but we can also learn a little about how God operates while dealing with men.

It can be easy for us, when being used by God, to get “too big for our britches” if you follow me.  Saul did things displeasing to God, but if we remember back to our prior readings we can see the arrogance of Saul was really his undoing.  When preparing to go to battle against the king Agag Saul was waiting for the priest Samuel to come and inquire from God as to what the people should do.  Samuel would also prepare the sacrifice.  God had ordained a special line of people to act as mediator between God and men, which we see in Hebrews as a picture of Christ.  Saul, who was already elevated to the position of king; took it upon himself to become that mediator.  Saul had at that point considered himself to be: #1 Prophet  #2 Priest and #3 king.  Saul had placed himself in the position of God.  His lack of humility and respect for the office of priest (mediator) was his final downfall.

When we look at what Saul did in today’s view of scripture we see that he put himself in the place of Christ.  So many people rely on themselves, or a pastor or a priest for their salvation.  Works can never fill that gap to bring us into a relationship with God.  So many false religions, or denominations today remove Christ from the picture of salvation and claim that people need to earn what only God can give.  In the Christian life there needs to be a constant reminder that it is He who not only saved us, but also it is He who sustains us.  I Timothy 2:5 states “There is one mediator between God and man; that is the man Christ Jesus.”

 

 

 

July 6th First Chronicles chapter 6

Good morning!  Today’s reading sets us in I Chronicles chapter 6 and we need to keep in mind that we are reading in somewhat of a chronological order and I would like us to kind to be able to wrap our minds around where we are because some of the reading will, by necessity, recap what we have already read.  So today, I would like to talk about First and second Kings and First and Second Chronicles so we get a better understanding of what we are reading.

The original text has First Samuel through Second Kings listed as one continuous book called the book of the kings and it is a history of the leadership of Israel.  Where things get a bit confusing is that The two books of Chronicles is written showing the same timeline, for the most part.  The reason for this is because of the divided kingdom in Israel.  Due to the disobedience of Solomon and the people of Israel, God allowed the kingdom to be divided into two.  So as we read these books we see that the writings are running in consecutive timings.  You will notice the names of the kingdoms being: Judah (two tribes) and Israel (10 tribes).  To put it into better perspective let me use an illustration:  Imagine that our own civil war turned out differently and the Southern states seperated from the union.  Our history books would show a line of history of our leaders running from George Washington through Abraham Lincoln.  At that point there would be two sets of leaders to follow although they would be following the same time line.  We need to keep this in mind as we read.  We will be seeing that the 10 tribes of Israel were first to turn away from God, but Judah followed shortly there after.

Israel’s time of prosperity and peace really didn’t last that long.  Saul was king for a very short period of time and he was replaced by David; when David died his son Solomon ruled in his stead and at Solomon’s end David’s grandson Rehoboam became king.  This is where the kingdom divided and simultaneously Jeroboam made himself king over the other half of the kingdom.

These books: First Samuel through Second Chronicles give us a line of history.  In this line of history we see the prophets at work, although the prophets writings (like Isaiah) are written in their own book.  So we can read in these history books a blurb about a king or prophet, but get the rest of the story in that prophets writings. 

I sure hope that this has made things clearer other than more confusing.

July 3rd II Samuel chapters 1-4

David, in today’s reading, is acting in a way that doesn’t seem logical to most people. David has slain the man who claimed to take Saul’s life and then had the two men killed who took the life of Saul’s son (remember, Saul was David’s mortal enemy). Although this seems very foreign to us, it was common practice when on the throne of a nation. When the children of the former king become of age, they often try to usurp the throne. The action of killing off the family, although harsh, was a way of self preservation. David looked at things in a different light; in fact two different world views come into play in the decisions of David:

World View #1  God was sovereign

David knew that God had ordained him king over Israel in His own might and timing.  There was nothing that David could have done to propagate that nor was there a way to maintain it.  It would be foolish to try and manipulate his way through his position when he had a true knowledge and true faith that it was not his to gain or to maintain.  We can look at this also as a picture of salvation.  If God is the giver of salvation; why do we so often think that we need to follow traditions and rules (often not even in scripture) in order to maintain it.  If we could not gain it, we certainly cannot maintain it, or lose it for that matter.  It was never in our hands to begin with.  Ephesians 2:8-9 states the we are saved by grace through faith, not of works.

World view #2  He and Saul were much the same

I believe that David had a unique understanding the he and Saul had a lot in common.  Both were picked as king by God without any prompting on their own part.  Both were ordained by the prophet/priest Samuel, both were given a portion of the Holy Spirit, both did mighty things in God’s will and most importantly, David realized that they were both born into sin.  David realized that he, just like Saul, could fall into the same separation from God due to sin and disobedience in life.  David, I believe, saw himself in the life of Saul and rather than hating or judging Saul, had compassion and grace for him.  We can learn a lot from David, especially in how we treat others.  Firstly our brothers in Christ, realizing that we are given to the same temptations as they are and there may come a time when what we need is some grace and guidance from them.  Secondly to the unbelieving world.  Far too many of us begin to look down on those who are lost giving us an elevated, lofty view of ourselves; but just like in the life of David, it was He who was our redeemer not us.  We should, as David, look with compassion and want to draw them to repentance instead of distancing ourselves from them and treating them as a lower class.  Evangelism is one beggar showing another beggar where to get bread.  We would do well to remember that and remember the attitudes of king David.

I would also like to point out David’s people skills.  Have you ever heard the phrase “grace for grace?”  It is an amazing thing; this “grace for grace.”  It is so easy for someone to go on the offensive against someone who has badgered them for a period of time.  But it is very difficult to treat someone with malice who has only shown love and compassion toward you.  Although I do not believe that the political aspect was behind the heart of David, I do believe that these actions will serve him well in the future.  They will serve us well also if we will follow David’s example.

I hope that God is blessing you as we read through His word together! 

 

July 2nd Psalms chapters 121, 123, 125, 128-130

We are looking at scripture chronologically as we read together this year.  Usually the psalm that would go with the text that is being read has to do with the situation at hand.  David wrote many of the Psalms at different points in his life.  The most popular example of this is Psalm 51 which David wrote when repenting for the death of Uriah the Hittite who died at the command of David.  There are certain Psalms that have unknown circumstances and lead us only to guess at the situations.  The Psalms that we read today are six of these Psalms.  We are going to read through the entire Bible this year so the one who designed the program fitted them into our daily reading.  I just wanted to clarify so there would be no confusion about the order in which we read.

I believe that David was about the most “well rounded” person that I have ever heard or read about.  He is most interesting in my opinion.  David was a man who was, early in his life, a shepherd which was a detained position; in fact a shepherd’s testimony was inadmissible in a court of law in the first century.  He was a servant, but yet he was a king.  David was a man after God’s own heart, but yet stole a man’s wife and killed her husband (which he repented for with bitterness).  David was a mighty warrior yet at the same time he was a very skilled poet and musician.  David was at times a ruthless soldier (when he needed to be) yet a lover as we will read tomorrow when he begs for his wife, who doesn’t even like him, to be returned.  God took an ordinary, every day man who had a heart for the things of God and turned him into the greatest king in Israel.  God took a shepherd, the youngest of his brothers, from the smallest tribe in Israel and mad him to be the heir of the Messiah.  I love the fact that God usually roots for the under dog.  It is tremendous that he promotes the humble and debases the proud.  I love that he shows His strength in our weakness.  Isn’t He a great and wonderful God?  Is it not good to know that all He needs is a willing humble person in order to use them for greatness?  Could you be that person?