Friday, May 30, 2014

Step 4: Encounter

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 5:14
so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

Insights:   Today’s verse reveals the end product of our previous three steps.  You will recall step one was purification.  Step two was service.  Yesterday we learned that step three was worship.  If we have truly repented of our sin and began serving the Lord out of a love relationship we then are able to worship Him properly.  When we worship with a full heart of gratitude, we are then able to encounter the Lord and experience His presence and power.  In today’s verse we see the Shekinah glory of God descend down in the form of a cloud and it filled the Temple.  Notice the priests who were present could not stand before God’s glory.  In other word, they fell on their faces before the Lord and His glory.  They encountered the Lord as few of us have ever had the opportunity.  Now, let me help you see the miraculous even more close to home.  In the Old Testament the Spirit of the Lord would come down and depart, but in the New Testament we are told that if we enter into that love relationship found in Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation, then we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  In other words, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and He never leaves us.  He is always with us.  We are able to encounter Him in profound and miraculous ways all the time.  Most of us, however, are not willing to do the first step and as a result, we do not really encounter the Lord as the byproduct of the other two steps.  Beloved, let me challenge you again this week to follow all three steps and encounter the Lord.  Your joy will truly overflow if you do.  May God be brought glory from your steps of pursuit for intimacy with Him.

  1. Have you ever been in such awe before the Lord that you have been dropped to your knees and face?
  2. How would you describe such an event to a lost world?

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful You have allowed me to encounter You in such a fashion as to bring me to my knees and face before You.  You are worthy of all praise and I am grateful we are in a relationship together.  May it grow each day as I strive to know You more and more. Amen.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Step 3: Worship

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 5:13c
and when they praised the LORD saying,"He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting," then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,

Insights:   When we are serving the Lord, it ought to be a form of worship.  In modern society we often isolate our worship to the Sunday morning celebration time we call the worship service.  The reality is we ought to be worshipping the Lord in everything we do.  In other words, when we are working it ought to be done as unto the Lord.  If we work with this kind of attitude, our work is a form of worship.  When we teach it also ought to be a form of worship.  When we listen to another individual and we exhibit our spiritual gift of mercy or exhortation, then it can also be worship.  The problem is most of us have gotten lost in the busyness of life to such a degree that we do not take time to acknowledge our worship to the Lord.  These individuals involved in dedicating the Temple were very much aware of what was taking place and they worshipped the Lord.  It was a natural outflow of their service to Him.  In fact it was as much of a natural outflow as their service was the natural outflow of their purification process.  Beloved, let me encourage you to rethink your worship.  We are told in Romans 12:1 to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is our spiritual service of worship.  Notice how Paul also links purification (sacrifice) with service (spiritual service) and how he then links service (spiritual service) with worship.  Here is the beautiful part of our individual worship: If each of us came to the Lord in our private lives like Romans commands, then we are able to enter into corporate worship unhindered.  Can you imagine what a worship service would look and sound like if all of us entered into the service with this kind of heart devotion to the Lord?  It would be breath taking.  Beloved, be aware of your worship this day and think on the Lord! 

  1. Do you give your all in worship?
  2. If you are holding back in your worship to the Lord, why?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I don’t give you my all in worship.  May every act and service I perform be done from a worshipful heart.  May it bring You great glory as I give my all to You. Amen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Step 2: Service

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 5:12-13b
and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music,

Insights:   The second step to encounter the Lord is service.  In other words, after our heart has been made right with the Lord through purification, we are then able to serve the Lord with the spiritual giftedness He has granted to us.  In today’s verses it is all specifically related to music, but the principle is still the same.  There were different people to perform each of the different tasks for the worship service in regards to the music.  We also know from other scripture there were those who specifically dealt with the furniture of the Temple.  We know there were others who stood as guards at the different gates into the Temple.  We know there were others who were over the incense bowls and others still over the bread.  The list could go on to include those who did the sacrifices, took care of the menorah, and the wash basin.  The same is true in modern day contexts.  Some are gifted to be evangelist and others to be teachers.  Some have the gift of exhortation and still others mercy.  The point is it takes all of the church using their giftedness together to bring about corporate worship that is pleasing to the Lord.  At the same time, we individually begin to experience the Lord personally when we obediently serve with our giftedness.  I can most assuredly tell you that you are not capable of truly encountering the Lord if you are just a pew sitter.  So many in the church today, act as if they are doing the Lord a favor by just showing up to worship services.  God forgive us of this kind of attitude.  Let us joyfully serve the Lord, Beloved.  If we will, it takes us one step closer to a genuine encounter with the Lord.

  1. What is your spiritual gift?
  2. In what capacity are you presently using your giftedness?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I selfishly refuse to serve You with the giftedness You have granted to me.  Transform my heart to experience joy and pleasure when I serve You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  May my service bring You glory. Amen.

Step 1: Purification

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 5:11
When the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions),

Insights:   In the first ten verses of this chapter we find the priest bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies in the newly built Temple.  Now starting in this eleventh verse we begin to see three steps which were followed in order for the children of Israel to encounter the Lord God.  The first step is found in today’s verse.  The people purified themselves.  Notice the verse tells us in the parenthesis that all the priests who were present sanctified themselves.  In other words, they dealt with their sin before entering into the presence of the Lord.  The Lord commands us in the Bible to be holy because He is holy.  We understand from a New Testament standpoint that our holiness is actually imputed to us through Jesus Christ.  It is His holiness that becomes our holiness.  It is His righteousness that is accredited to us as our righteousness.  We are not capable in and of ourselves to be holy or righteous.  We, like the priests at this dedication service, must come before the Lord broken and without excuse.  We must confess our sin to Him and ask Him to cleanse us.  We all too often just treat sin flippantly and then walk into our worship services and “praise” Jesus without any preparation of purification.  We then wonder why we do not experience the power and grace of our Lord in our daily lives.  Our love affair with sin and its temporary pleasures are of greater value to us than a genuine relationship with the Lord of glory.  Beloved, this ought not to be.  We must understand the seriousness and weightiness of sin and run to Jesus for the cleansing.  He is always faithful and just.  He will always receive us with open arms.  If we are to truly encounter Him, then repentance is the first step.  We must be purified before the Lord.

  1. Do you have any known sin you are harboring?
  2. How long will you remain in your sin before you release it and experience the freedom found in Jesus?

Prayer: Father, why do I so often settle for the temporary pleasure of sin, when I have already experienced the pure joy found in my relationship with You?  Lord, I repent of my sin (name it specifically) and ask You to grant me the courage and boldness to deal with the consequences in Your strength and power. Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Intercessional Priority

Scripture: Psalm 122:6-9
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. "May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces." For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, "May peace be within you." For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

Insights:   Warren Wiersbe writing about these verses stated, “The name ‘Jerusalem’ means ‘foundation of peace,’ and yet the city has been a center of conflict for centuries.  If we understand biblical prophecy correctly, there can be no peace in Jerusalem or on earth until the Prince of Peace reigns on David’s throne (Isa. 9:6-7; Lk. 1:26-33).  So, when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are actually praying, ‘Thy kingdom come’ (Mt. 6:10) and ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev. 22:20)….The ‘prosperity’ mentioned in verse 6 does not refer to material wealth but primarily to the spiritual enrichment that comes to those who love God, His Son, His Word and His chosen people….It is selfish to want personal prosperity when the emphasis here is on the city of God, the chosen people of God (vs 6-8), and the house of God (vs 9).”  Verses eight nine give us the application of praying for one another and for the ministry of the churches.  We belong to each other and we must help each other and prayer is our greatest vehicle to help one another.  Beloved, let us have a continual attitude of prayer and seek the Lord while He may be found among us  Let us be empowered by His faithful present and live obediently to what He reveals through our prayer time alone with Him.  May our lives bring Him glory, honor and praise!

  1. Are you regularly praying for the Lord Jesus to return and bring peace to Jerusalem and the world?
  2. Do you pray regularly for your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord?

Prayer: Father, send Your Son, Jesus back to earth quickly.  Let Him bring peace and let us rest in You for all eternity.  Until that day, may my brothers and sisters live lives that point to You and Your glory. Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Worshipful Priority

Scripture: Psalm 122:3-5
Jerusalem, that is built As a city that is compact together; To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD-- An ordinance for Israel-- To give thanks to the name of the LORD. For there thrones were set for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.

Insights: The natural outflow of a relationship with Jesus is worship.  In other words, we ought to desire to worship the Lord with all of our heart because of what He has done for us.  Warren Wiersby writing about these verses stated, “When the psalmist looked at the city, he thought of unity and security.  Just as the stones of the walls and houses were ‘bound firmly together’ [or as the NASB rendered it, ‘compact together’], so the people were bound together in their worship of the Lord and their respect for the throne.  The twelve separate tribes, plus the tribe of Levi, shared the same ancestors and history, participated in the same worship in the same holy city, and were governed by the same divine laws.  The church today already has spiritual unity (Eph. 4:1-6), but we must endeavor to maintain it and demonstrate it before a watching world (John 17:20-23).”  The other side of these verses deals with the thanksgiving aspect of worship.  David was telling the children of Israel to give thanks to the name of the LORD.  Our worship is an expression of love because of our thankful heart.  We are grateful Jesus saved us from sin and eternal damnation.  Beloved, when you come to a worship service it is my pray that your entire focus is on Jesus.  It takes a great deal of work to make your focus central on Him.  In the service itself, there are people getting up and down to use the restroom.  Others are coughing.  Every once in a while phones go off.  There are even technological issues that arise from time to time in the audio/visual department.  Corporate worship takes work.  I pray you will be here at FBCBG this Sunday and fight for intimacy with Jesus.  Strive to grow in grace with Him.  May your worship bring Him glory!

  1. Does your worship reflect the genuineness and authenticity of your relationship with the Lord?
  2. Does your worship reflect your unity among the body of believers?

Prayer: Father, I am so often selfish and self-serving.  I pray my heart is transformed to such an extent that I worship You with all sincerity and do not take for granted Your wonderful presence in my life.  Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Relational Priority

Scripture: Psalm 122:1-2
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD."  Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem,

Insights: Yesterday in my sermon I focused and emphasized the concept of the phraseology of “let us go” and how it ought to be more like, “we will go to the house of the Lord again and again and again and again and again.”  After that I spoke a little about the expectations of one in love with another individual.  I then proceeded to explain our motive in a relationship to meet those expectations is love.  In other words, because we love the other person, we desire to please them.  This concept ought to be true of our relationship with the Lord as well.  We ought to obey and serve Him out of love and not some guilt driven obligation.  From this perspective understand that I now move to the other side of my mouth to speak about church expectations.  The church in our day has lowered its expectations so low that people just walk over the bar.  In other words, if you want to come to church, okay, then you will come.  If something better comes along, like sleeping in, then okay, you will do that also.  We do not have the same zeal and passion that David is communicating in Psalm 122 about being in a relationship with the Lord.  We keep dumbing down the gospel and wonder why the church is the way it is.  We then justify our decisions and say, “Things have changed and that (whatever that is) won’t work today.”  And in some aspects that statement is true.  We, however, have allowed it to step in and become the catch phrase for every decision that lowers the bar of what it means to be a true biblical disciple of Jesus.  It is for this reason that John Eldridge wrote Waking the Dead or David Platt wrote Radical or Francis Chan wrote Crazy Love or Kyle Idleman wrote Not a Fan or Marva Dawn wrote, Reaching Out without Dumbing Down and A Royal “Waste” of Time.  Beloved, we must not lower our standards of discipleship for the sake of crowds and convenience.  We must walk in obedience to the commands of the Lord Jesus and those commands will always push us outside of our comfort zone.  Let us rise up and faithful pursue Jesus with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  To God be the glory!

  1. Have you entered into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?
  2. Are you excited to worship the Lord with the body of Christ?

Prayer: Father, help my heart today to seek You.  You are the only One that matters.  Let my love for You grow and grow and grow.  Let my excitement and zeal for You be the driving force behind every one of my decisions in life.  May my life bring You glory.  Amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bravery Leads to a Legacy

Scripture: 1 Kings 2:4
so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'

Insights: Today we conclude our lessons we learned from King David as he instructed his son Solomon about life and living it bravely.  We have learned that we all die, but while we live we need to live bravely.  The only way to truly live bravely is to focus on the Lord and the primary way we do that is by spending time with Him in His Word, the Bible.  In today’s verse we see the end result of a life lived bravely and that is a legacy.  Notice that if Solomon lived this kind of brave life which is devoted to the Lord, he would not lack a man on the throne of Israel.  What a promise.  As parents we are supposed to be living a life of example before our children.  As a result, we are helping teach them the way to live life with bravery.  We are also supposed to engage the lost world with the love of Jesus.  If we share His love and reach the lost, then we continue to expand our legacy.  May your love for Jesus so compel you that you desire to leave a legacy for Him which honors His name.

  1. What kind of legacy are you leaving behind you?
  2. In whose life are you presently investing in order to change the future?

Prayer: Father, I desire for my life to make a difference.  Let Your favor fall on me and let me pass on to others the lessons You have taught me as You have discipled me.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You Live Bravely when You Know the Lord

Scripture: 1 Kings 2:3
"Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,

Insights: Steve Brown of Key Life Ministries has a new book out titled Three Free Sins.  Now Steve Brown is not advocating sin in this book.  Rather in his blog he gives a teaser in regards to the content of the book and I think it is the key to successfully living out our Christian walk with bravery and courage.  He wrote, “Every Christian I know wants to be better than he or she is. There may be an exception to that, but I haven’t found one. In other words, most Christians aren’t getting any better and sometimes are getting worse…but they really want to be better.  Do you know why most Christians don’t get any better or why you don’t get any better? It’s because you’re doing it wrong, dummy! You are obsessed with sin and your faith has become another “system of laws” whereby you feel guilty and try and try and try to do better. It doesn’t work, never has worked, and never will work. Only really shallow people keep doing the same thing over and over again with the same result, thinking that the next time the result will be different.  So stop it.  You’re just making a mess out of it. People get better by obsessing on Jesus and his love…not by obsessing on their own sin and disobedience. That’s what the cross is about. It is a covering for sin. So that’s not the issue anymore. Not only that, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account is a gift beyond measure assuring that God’s anger will never be directed at us again.  And by the way, an obsession with sin may be the greatest form of pride. Frankly, it is quite narcissistic.”  Steve Brown’s point is all about focus.  If we focus on our sin, or the sins of others, to such an extent that it paralyzes us and keeps us held in bondage, then what we are saying is our sin is greater than Jesus’ work on Calvary.  That is a form of pride to be obsessed with sin.  Beloved, change your focus and spend time with Jesus in His Word, the Bible, and it will change your life.  Tomorrow we will learn what happens if we live this way.

  1. How are your quiet times with the Lord going presently?
  2. What new truths is the Lord revealing to you about Himself?

Prayer: Father, the only way I am able to live bravely for You is to know You.  Place within my heart a longing for You and Your ways.  Let me desire You more than anything this world has to offer.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

While You Live, Live Bravely

Scripture: 1 Kings 2:2b-c
Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.

Insights: David is about to die and he is informing his son that life is going to be full of challenges, obstacles and opportunities.  As a result, he must face those events like a man and in this context what David is commissioning his son to do is live bravely.  I think one of the greatest challenges the church of America is facing is a lack of bold believers living for Jesus in a brave manner.  We have so lowered our expectation level of what it means to be a follower of Christ that if anything better or more exciting comes along, we often times choose that event.  I wonder what our world would look like if we had great athletes in school tell their coaches up front, “I am sorry coach, but I am a Christian, and as such, I just won’t be able to make it to all the practices or games if they conflict with a church activity?”  And what if that kid was so good at his sport or activity that the coach or instructor said, “That’s okay, we will take you when you can be here?”  I know this illustration is farfetched and even a little unrealistic, but ought it to be farfetched and unrealistic.  If we are going to show ourselves to be brave for Jesus, then ought He not to be first and foremost in our lives?  The answer is a resounding, “YES!!!”  Beloved, let me challenge you, just as David challenged Solomon, to show yourself a man or show yourself to be a woman and live bravely for the Lord.  Tomorrow, we will look at how you are able to live this kind of life out before a watching world.

  1. In what ways are you living bravely for the Lord?
  2. Have you raised your expectation level in regards to your devotion to the Lord?

Prayer: Father, You have called me to live a life of bravery.  Give me the courage to accept whatever challenge, obstacle, or opportunity You present to me.  May my life honor You.  Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2014

You Will Die

Scripture: 1 Kings 2:1-2a
As David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, "I am going the way of all the earth.

Insights: This week we are going to be examining the last instructions of David to his son Solomon before he became the next king of Israel.  Today’s Thoughts by Scott is very simplistic based on the verse and sentence you have read today.  Here is the thought: you will die.  That is profound, is it not?  Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  You are going to die unless Jesus returns and takes His bride back home with Him.  When we die, we face one of two judgments.  The first judgment is for believers, those who are born again because they have been saved by Jesus.  They have put their faith and trust in Jesus alone as their only way of being escorted into the throne room of God and to experience His love and joy for all eternity.  This judgment is called the Bema seat judgment or the judgment seat of Christ.  Everyone who stands before this judgment will spend eternity with the Lord.  The second judgment is the Great White Throne Judgment and it is for all of those who never received the free gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ.  Everyone who faces this judgment will be cast in the Lake of Fire where there will be torture for all eternity.  These are the only two options.  David said, “I am going the way of all the earth.”  He was going to one of those two judgments.  Because of what the Bible states about David, I believe he went before the Bema seat judgment.  If you have never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior all you have to do is cry out to Him.  Tell Him you know you are a sinner and that you are not capable of saving yourself.  Ask Jesus to come into your heart and to forgive you of your sins.  Ask Him to give you assurance of your salvation by granting you the peace and joy that the Holy Spirit gives to His children.  After that, it is all about growing in Jesus, letting Him do a redemptive work in your life as you learn to hear His voice and grow in faith to the point you obey Him no matter how crazy His commands may sound.  Beloved, it is worth it!

  1. In Which judgment seat are you are you going after your death?
  2. Would you like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior in order for you to go to the Bema seat judgment?

Prayer: Father, Your mercy is amazing and Your love is overwhelming.  Thank You for saving me and allowing me to enter into a relationship with You.  May I grow in understanding You and knowing You better as we travel this exciting journey together.  Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Your Ultimate Defense is in the Lord

Scripture: 2 Samuel 16:12
"Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day."

Insights: Today’s verse puts everything into the proper perspective.  The proper perspective is really found in the first few words, “perhaps the Lord….”  To write it differently, David understood that only the Lord could be his true defender against Shimei.  As a result, David is basically stating, “God, if it be Your will to restore good to me in the midst of this vile man’s stone throwing, then it is up to You.  I cannot defend myself and I trust You to work this out for Your glory.”  Beloved, this, however, is our problem.  We do not really trust the Lord to defend us.  I mentioned yesterday Jesus’ example was similar to David’s.  Jesus did not defend Himself at the false trials.  He was lead as a lamb to slaughter.  He gave up His life and was vindicated three days later by His Father as He was raised from the dead.  We need to come to the place in our spiritual life where we really live by faith.  It will cost us to trust Jesus, but it is always worth it.  So, the next time you are assaulted by a stone thrower, it is my recommendation you follow the biblical response procedure.  Remain quiet and trust the Lord to defend you in His time and in His way.  Your surrender to Him will be a greater testimony to the stone thrower than you could ever imagine.  Let your faith grow in Jesus as He defends you.  May He be brought glory through your obedience and surrender.

  1. Are you fully depending on the Lord to be your defender?
  2. Do you think you could do a better job at defending yourself than the Lord could?

Prayer: Father, oh so often I am like Abishai and want to take the entire situation in my own hands and defend myself.  I falter as I fight for my own justification as if I am a better warrior than You.  Lord, please forgive me.  Grant me Your peace and let me rest in You and You alone.  I know You are the better defender.  You fight this battle for me and let me learn to be content with You as David was in this dark time in his life.  Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Example of the Biblical Response to Stone Throwers

Scripture: 2 Samuel 16:10-11
But the king said, "What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, 'Curse David,' then who shall say, 'Why have you done so?'" Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, "Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him.

Insights: Today we observe the proper biblical response to stone throwers.  David stops Abishai from taking the head of Shimei.  What David does next is put the entire situation in the proper perspective.  It is my opinion this failure to put things in the proper perspective is one of the biggest reasons we do not respond well to stone throwers.  David completely understands the sovereignty of God.  Notice the last part of verse eleven.  In essence, David is saying, “God has the power to stop the words of Shimei, but He is not for some reason.  Because the Lord is permitting this event to happen, I will bear up under it.”  Now, Beloved, as you have read those words, you were probably not very comforted.  You may be saying something like, “Great, just one more thing with which to burden my life down.”  Well, that is what tomorrows Thoughts by Scott will address.  What is the reason we ought to bear up under these stone throwers false words?  Again, we will find out tomorrow.  One last thought, however, for today.  David’s response is in some fashion similar to Jesus.  When Jesus was brought before His accusers and stone throwers He did not speak a word.  Again, why would Jesus respond this way?  The answer fits with tomorrow’s blog.  So, make certain you return Friday and learn the power behind our ability to resist the sting of stone throwers.

  1. Do you understand the Lord has the power to stop the stone thrower, but, for whatever reason, is allowing the person to speak?
  2. Does this reality help you put things into perspective?

Prayer: Father, Your Son, Jesus, spoke not a word to His accusers and stone throwers.  Help me Lord to follow Jesus’ example and keep my situation in the proper perspective.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Example of the Inappropriate Response to Stone Throwers

Scripture: 2 Samuel 16:9
Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head."

Insights: Abishai is one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  He is the kind of guy you want with you if you are walking down a dark alley at night in a strange neighborhood.  No one is going to mess with you once they see Abishai.  He only has three references in the Bible and all three times he is either taking someone’s head or asking to take someone’s head.  Even though I really like this guy and I appreciate his bold perspective on life, he is a little short fussed.  As we go and look at the rest of the Scriptures and especially Jesus’ teachings regarding our enemies, we quickly find that Abishai displayed for us the wrong way of handling stone throwers.  His approach is the same as the Red Queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and we will learn tomorrow, David has to rein this guy back into control.  Beloved, let me caution you to not act before you think through the situation.  Ask the Lord to control your retaliatory response system when you are hit with stones by those who throw them.  May the grace of the Lord protect you and keep you from making a bad situation worse by an all-out assault driven by revenge.

  1. When you are falsely accused are you tempted to take heads and let the carnage fall where it may?
  2. Do you think this temporary satisfaction of vindication is going to under after you have had time to truly think about the situation?

Prayer: Father, protect me from being rash in my actions against those who have hurt me.  Let me respond as Jesus would respond and trust in You to be my defender.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stone Throwers are Often Mistaken or Out-Right Liars

Scripture: 2 Samuel 16:8
"The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!"

Insights: Today’s verse continues the accusations of Shimei.  Yesterday we learned that part of Shimei’s stone throwing was to call David a worthless fellow.  Today, however, we see that he is either mistaken or an outright liar.  In today’s verse he is stating the David is the one who took Saul’s life.  Now he is a relative of Saul and he may have been informed that David was the murderer of Saul through another relative.  That kind of thinking is giving Shimei the benefit of the doubt; but at the other end of the spectrum, Shimei is an outright liar.  In other words, he knows David did not kill Saul and usurp his throne, but accuses David of this horrific event any way.  Here is the point, Beloved: the same thing happens to us today from stone throwers.  People either do not know the entire situation or they are just flat out liars and they chunk verbal stones at us.  These stones, as we learned yesterday, are painful.  There is, however, a sense of endurance through these verbal assaults when we know the truth of the situation.  So, Beloved, rest in the reality that the Lord God knows the truth of every situation.  He knows exactly what has transpired and He also knows if the stone thrower is a bold face liar or just an individual who is mistaken about the facts.  We can rest in Jesus’ advocacy of our case.  Run to Him, Beloved, when you are wrongly accused with lies.

  1. Have you been lied about lately?
  2. How did you feel when these stones hit you?

Prayer: Father, it really hurts when stone throwers speak lies about me.  Help me to respond in the same kind of love and grace that Jesus did with His stone throwers.  You are the only One who can help me bear up under their false accusations.  Amen.

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Will Encounter Stone Throwers in Your Life

Scripture: 2 Samuel 16:5-7
When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. Thus Shimei said when he cursed, "Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!

Insights: You will recall the childhood nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  You also know just how much of a lie that little rhyme is.  To set the scene very briefly for you in regards to today’s verses, David is fleeing Jerusalem.  His son, Absalom, has committed a coupe and is marching on Jerusalem.  David is fleeing Jerusalem in order to save lives because if he remains, many will die.  David is, therefore, being escorted out of town by his mighty men and along the way they encounter Shimei and he throws literal stones at David.  I, however, don’t think those stones hurt David nearly as much as the words spoken by Shimei.  He called David a worthless fellow.  Beloved, what I want you to understand from these verses today is that you will encounter stone throwers in your life.  If you have never experienced, then just wait, because it is going to happen.  It is impossible to live on this side of eternity and not have people cast stones at you with their words.  These moments are incredibly painful.  It is my hope; however, that as we proceed through this week’s lessons from this passage that you will be comforted and strengthened in the Lord.  Even though we know we will be hit with verbal stones, doesn’t diminish the pain.  It does, however, help us prepare for our response to it when it does come.  Beloved, return back throughout this week and learn how to handle such attacks in your life.

  1. Have you been hit by stone throwers in recent days?
  2. When you wear hit, how did you respond?

Prayer: Father, when people throw stones at me, it hurts.  I pray for Your protection of my heart in moments of this kind.  Help me to learn the lessons which come out of this passage in which we will learn this week.  Grow me to the point I follow the Biblical response to stone throwers and may You be brought glory as a result of such obedience.  Amen.

Are You in Awe of Your Experiences?

Scripture: 2 Samuel 23:17
and he said, "Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

Insights: The final scene is found in today’s verse.  The men came back and David has just poured out the water before them.  Then verse seventeen tells us why he poured out the water for which he so longed.  To have drunk the water would have been the same as to have drunk these men’s blood.  They were willing to sacrifice their very lives for their love of David.  Their great gesture of love humbled David and put these men’s work in awe before David.  He is stunned by their gift to him.  For the final time this week, we look at the spiritual parallel of this passage in our own lives.  God is always at work around us.  I wonder, however, if we have grown so complacent in our Christian walk that we are no longer dazzled and amazed by God’s great glory and grace.  God’s activities ought to bring us to a place of utter awe before His majesty.  Even as I type this I am reminded of a conversation I had this morning where a young man felt compelled to inquire about the eternal condition of his schoolmates and over twenty of them prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts.  This event happened today after an entire school year of discipling these kids in a Bible study before school.  They had heard all year long about Jesus and now they responded in faith to Him.  This singular event ought to inspire us and help us be in awe of God’s great power.  Beloved, let us pursue obedience with the Lord and let us be stunned by His manifest presence and activity in our lives.

  1. Are you in awe of your experiences?
  2. What magnificent thing is the Lord doing in your life presently that is putting you in this state of awe?

Prayer: Father, You are amazing and awesome.  Your majesty overwhelms me and Your work humbles me.  Thank You for Your great presence in my life and for opening my eyes to Your activity.  Amen.

Are You Experiencing a Brotherhood in Your Life?

Scripture: 2 Samuel 23:16
So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD;

Insights: Keep in mind the scene.  David has more than likely spoken out loud to himself regarding his longing for water from Bethlehem.  These three mighty men in today’s verse, however, hear David’s request and because of their love for him, they go and do the unthinkable.  They actually go and battle through the Philistine garrison that is camped at Bethlehem.  The Scriptures do not give us the details of this excursion.  In other words, we don’t know if this was a stealth mission and they took no lives or if this was an all-out charge that resulted in the death of the Philistine battalion.  As with the rest of the week, however, this got me to thinking about the spiritual dynamics of this engagement.  We, as the body of Christ, work better when we are working together.  God has called us to join Him on His mission and the more of us who partner together the better off we are in regards to the advancement of the gospel.  Notice that it was three mighty men, not just one who went and got the water for David.  Think about Jesus for just a moment.  He sent His disciples out two by two.  He knew they would come across situations when one was more strengthened in the Lord than the other.  When one is up, he/she can encourage the one who is down and vice-a-versa.  Beloved, let us work together and watch God work through us to expand His kingdom.

  1. Are you experiencing a brotherhood in your life?
  2. Are you partnering with other Christ-followers in order to bring Jesus glory?

Prayer: Father, thank You for my brothers and sisters in Jesus.  Thank You for allowing them to encourage my heart and their ability to spur me on to more faithful obedience.  May our work together bring You glory.  Amen.