Consequences

Domino consequenceWhen you’re in the moment of temptation, you don’t often stop to think beyond what is happening at that moment.  All you can think about is that thing that is enticing you.  I’d like to challenge you to think a little further ahead and examine how your choices affect others.

When David first spied Bathsheba taking a bath on a neighboring rooftop, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about where his thoughts were leading, let alone to the eventual avalanche of pain that would come from his momentary “lapse”. His disobedience led to a chain of events that would harm many for a long time.

I’m sure David’s own lusts influenced his son, Amnon, who would rape his half-sister, Tamar.  David’s son, Absalom, would take revenge for his sister, Tamar, and kill Amnon.  Absalom would eventually lead a revolt against David’s flawed leadership.  Perhaps the most graphic consequence came at the advice of David’s bitter former friend, Ahithophel (Bathsheba’s grandfather)…So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. (2 Samuel 16:22)

I think it’s a healthy thing to take inventory of the things you struggle with.  Look beyond that neighboring rooftop to see the consequences of your actions.

Letting Go

openhandAnd they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Samuel 1:12)

David and his men had been on the run for several years.  Even though David was thought of as a hero in Israel for all his victories over the Philistines, King Saul had grown jealous of David and was actively trying to have David killed.  David had several opportunities to retaliate and kill Saul, but David was steadfast in his belief that he should let God deal with Saul.  The apostle Paul told us to do the very same thing when he said we should let God handle the “vengeance” (Rom. 12:19). Letting go of bitterness, especially when we have been unjustly wronged, is quite difficult.  The test of how well you have forgiven is your reaction on the day when God does bring His vengeance.  Solomon wrote that when that day comes, we shouldn’t “rejoice” (Prov. 24:17).

For King Saul, his day came when he died in battle against the Philistines.  When David heard of Saul’s death, he didn’t rejoice that the wicked old man was finally dead.  Instead, David wept.  David saw the defeat for what it was, something to mourn over.  Let go of your grudges beloved.  The concept of “getting even” only causes more hurt and pain. Learn to love those who cause you difficulty.

Next Gen

seedlingKing Saul was on a downward spiral.  He was impatient when it came to waiting on God’s leading.  He was disobedient when it came to following God’s leading.  And now, to top it all off, when he saw the person who did follow God’s leading, he was jealous.

Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8)

The more God used David, the more “Angry Saul” threw things.  He threw spears at David.  He threw difficult work assignments at David.  He even threw his own daughter at David.

Saul was worried about keeping his grip on something that wasn’t his to begin with.  Israel was never Saul’s kingdom; it was God’s kingdom.

Even today we can become paranoid like Saul when we are focused on building our own kingdoms.  God wants us to learn to follow His leading so His kingdom is the one that’s built.  Don’t worry if God uses someone more than He uses you.  Stop throwing things.  Stop hindering the work that God is wanting to do on this earth.  If God has raised up a David under you, that’s a good thing. Embrace the next generation.  Support them.  Give them a chance.

Who Do You Trust?

Rabbits FootAnd when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” (1 Samuel 4:3)

Israel had just suffered a great defeat from the Philistines, losing four thousand in a single battle.  It’s not unusual in those situations to ask, “Why?”  What’s more important than the question, is the conclusion you come to afterward.  The people decided that rather than needing God’s help, what they needed was some kind of a magic rabbit’s foot.  They just happened to have the best good-luck charm to bring them victory; they had the Ark of the Covenant.

Some people trust a church for their salvation, instead of trusting in Jesus.  They figure that as long as they are going to the right church, they are safe. Other say they are trusting in the Bible, but they never take the time to open it and do what it says. Others are looking for a person to help them.  It might be a godly person or a political figure that they hope will fix everything.

Israel would suffer another great defeat that day.  Why?  Because God wanted them to know they were trusting in the wrong thing.  God wants you to trust in Him and Him alone.

Foundations

RaisingKidsThey were dark days indeed.  The nation of Israel kept rebelling against God.  When they got into trouble, God would graciously respond by sending a man to deliver them.  They were in one of those “recessions” when a man named Manoah and his wife were trying to get pregnant.

A common frustration among new parents is the fact that babies don’t seem to come with an instruction manual.  Samson’s parents were blessed enough to be given specific instructions in raising their baby:  “Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:4–5). Samson wouldn’t grow up to be a perfect man, yet despite his flaws, God would work through him to bring help for Israel.

Parents, there’s no guarantee that our kids won’t make Samson-sized mistakes.  Yet, Samson wouldn’t have been able to do anything in his life without the foundation he got at home.  The choices you make in parenting are important.  We, too, live in a dark world, and there may be a day when God will be looking for someone to take a stand.  Give your kids the foundation they need to make a difference.

Another Fine Mess

Another Fine MessThings were just starting to get good.  Paul had been fighting a doctrinal battle with the Judaizers, a legalistic bunch who troubled the Gentile churches by telling the people they weren’t saved unless they were obeying the Law of Moses.  The churches were discouraged.  Yet after a big church council was held in Jerusalem, the leaders straightened the Judaizers out and confirmed that salvation was truly by grace through faith (Acts 15).  Paul went back to encourage the struggling churches.  Things were looking up.  That’s when Paul sensed that God wanted to start a new work in the unreached area of Macedonia.  The people of Philippi seemed open to the gospel, at least until that incident with the demon-possessed slave-girl.  When Paul cast out the demon, the girl’s owners got upset, and everything went south.  Paul was arrested and beaten …And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. (Acts 16:23)

Does it seem like things are looking up when “another fine mess” comes into your life?  I think Paul had learned that God was going to even use this next mess.  He was even praising God at midnight while locked up in prison.  Did it turn out okay?  You’ll have to read the rest of Acts 16 to find out, but you will find that it’s not a bad thing to trust God in the middle of your mess.

Not What It Seems

mouldy_breadThe Israelites had begun the great task of conquering their Promised Land. Jericho was conquered in an unusual way:  Blowing trumpets, shouting, walls falling down.  The city of Ai was a lesson in holiness.  Sin in their camp led to an initial defeat at Ai, but once they dealt with the sin, God gave them victory.  The next city didn’t seem a threat at all.  Ambassadors from a “distant” land showed up requesting a treaty with Israel.  While Israel was not allowed alliances with local nations, distant ones seemed okay.  It was obvious these ambassadors were quite “distant” since their clothes were worn out and their food was old.  So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord (Joshua 9:14). It turned out that these ambassadors from Gibeon actually lived right around the corner, and theirs was the next city Israel was to conquer.  The treaty led to a mess. When the rest of the cities in the area decided to attack Gibeon, Israel was now obliged by treaty to protect Gibeon, and they were drawn into a bigger battle than they should have been.

I know that some of the decisions we make seem pretty obvious.  Some of the choices before us are simple common sense.  Don’t forget, beloved, that things are not always what they seem.  It’s not bad to look at what you see before you, but be sure you are taking the time to consult God as well.  He can save you a world of hurt.

Warning

WarningThe book of Deuteronomy serves several purposes.  The Israelites first received the Laws of God through Moses right after having been delivered from slavery in Egypt.  Deuteronomy is a second telling of the Law of Moses, given to the Israelites at the end of their forty years in the wilderness, just prior to entering into the Promised Land.  It is a reminder, but it is also a warning.

The Israelites had not only been provided for in the wilderness, God had also been protecting them from much of the evils of the world.  That protection was coming to a close.  When Israel conquered the Amorites on the eastern side of the Jordan, they began to see the extent of the world’s wickedness.  So God warns His people not to get enticed by that same wickedness He intended to destroy… so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; (Deuteronomy 29:18)

Beloved, we live in similar times.  The wickedness in our culture is not only growing exponentially, but it is getting easier and easier for the Christian to be enticed, deceived, and caught in it.  Guard your hearts beloved.  Keep yourself pure.  Jesus is coming.

The Passover Lamb

LambFourteen hundred years before Christ, Moses had been negotiating with Pharaoh for the release of the Israelite slaves. It wasn’t until the death of all the firstborn of Egypt that Pharaoh finally relented and set the captives free. While the firstborn of all Egyptians died that night, not a single Israeli child died because each of their houses had the mark of lamb’s blood on the doorposts.

Every year, Jewish people remember this event with the celebration of the Passover.  God gave Moses explicit instructions on how the celebration was to take place.  The celebration would include the sacrifice of lambs, but they were not to be sacrificed in just any old place, but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 16:6)

All through His ministry, Jesus would remind people that His “time had not yet come”. His time came at the Passover.  While some expected Jesus to set the Jews free from Rome, God planned to set us free from sin.  Jesus not only died on the Passover, but He died in Jerusalem, the place God had chosen.  It was where God’s people could see it.  Over three hundred ancient prophecies described His coming.  This is no fairy tale.  He is the One.  Do you believe?

Land of Giants

GulliverIt was one of the things that kept the Israelites from going into the Promised Land after they had been delivered from Egypt.  When the first reconnaissance report mentioned that giants lived in the land flowing with milk and honey, the Israelites became scared and took a forty-year detour before finally crossing over.

The giants were real.  One fellow had a bed that was thirteen feet long (Deut. 3:11).  The giants went by various names.  They were known as Rephaim, Zamzummim (the originators of Zumba), Emmim, Horites, and Anakim (not Skywalker).

Just before the Israelites are to cross into Canaan and face the Land of the Giants, Moses reminds them of something they have learned in their forty years of wandering.  Others have faced giants before and defeated them.  In fact, those giants were … a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the Lord destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place, (Deuteronomy 2:21 ESV)

The life that God desires for us is like a land “flowing with milk and honey”.  While God has a wonderful life of promises for us, don’t think that this land comes easily.  You will have to face some giants, but know that you won’t be the first to face a giant, let alone defeat it.  God is more than able to give you victory.