Archive for May, 2014

Sin Leads to Disaster

May 31, 2014

Sin Leads to Disaster

 

2 Samuel 13:1: David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her.

 

Have you ever wanted something that was forbidden?

 

Maybe it was love relationship with a relative.

 

Perhaps it was a stamp for a collection that a friend had, but wouldn’t sell to you.

 

People desire things like jewelry that might be too expensive, or clothing that is a little too flashy, or a car that would drain your bank account.

 

Forbidden things can take many forms. In David’s kingdom, he had a son Amnon who wanted to marry a half-sister, Tamar. Normally, marrying someone in your own family was forbidden. But Amnon figured out a way to get what he wanted by force. It was a horrible sin.

 

King David did nothing about it. But another son, Absalom, who was Tamar’s brother, conspired to kill Amnon. It seemed like disaster after disaster happened to David’s family during that time.

 

Why did such bad things happen? Because David himself had sinned with Bathsheba. God judged David and warned him that there would be consequences for his disobedience. David’s kingdom suffered many problems after that.

 

Sin always has consequences. When we sin, God responds by disciplining us with problems and trouble. Are you about to sin? Think! It could lead to disaster!

 

Prayer: Jesus, keep me from sin. I don’t want to go through what David did. Amen.

God Honors Kindness

May 29, 2014

God Honors Kindness

 

2 Samuel 9:7: But David said, “Don’t be afraid! I’ve asked you to come so that I can be kind to you because of my vow to your father, Jonathan.”

 

The new guy rolled into the office in a wheelchair. Several employees simply avoided him. But Cal walked over and introduced himself. “I’m Cal Thurston,” he said. “What’s your name?”

 

The crippled man held out a bony, gnarled hand. “I’m Steve.”

 

Soon they were good friends. Cal wheeled Steve wherever he needed to go, and Steve felt like a king.

 

A similar thing happened long ago in Israel. David could have killed Mephibosheth. After all, he was an enemy. King Saul fought against David every step of his life after David became famous. But David had sworn to his best friend, Jonathan, that he would take care of his children.

 

Mephibosheth was crippled. He certainly couldn’t lead a troop against David’s army. He might try to rally the people behind him in the name of Jonathan and King Saul. But he had no interest in that. He simply wanted to survive.

 

David showed kindness to Mephibosheth. He gave the young man a place at his table. He honored the youth with friendship and grace. God ultimately rewarded David for his kindness, too.

 

God loves kindness. Who can you be kind to today?  

 

Prayer: Father, teach me to be a kind person to everyone. Amen.

A Throne Forever

May 27, 2014

Your Throne Forever

 

2 Samuel 7:16: “Your dynasty and your kingdom will continue for all time before me, and your throne will be secure forever.'”

 

 

God made a tremendous promise to King David. He told him that his kingdom would never end, it would be the final and great kingdom of the world.

 

When you read the Bible, though, you find that King David’s line did end. When Israel was taken into slavery by Babylon, no king would ever sit on David’s throne again. Other nations would rule over Israel for centuries.

 

Was God’s promise wrong? Did God make a mistake?

 

Actually, God saw things from a different perspective. He knows the end from the beginning, and a few centuries without a king was no problem. Why? Because the kingdom God had spoken about was Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus, a descendant of David through both Joseph and Mary, will one day reign on King David’s throne. His kingdom will never have an end.

 

Many times in the Bible, things do not look quite right if we study them from a human perspective. But when we see the meaning and truth as God sees it, we discover that God was right all along.

 

When you think you’ve found a contradiction or problem in the Bible, don’t despair. Sometimes the answer isn’t right on the surface. You have to dig deep to see what God really meant.

 

Prayer: Jesus, may I always trust your word as the truth. Amen.

Death of a Loved One

May 27, 2014

Loss of a Loved One

 

2 Samuel 1:26: How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan! Oh, how much I loved you,! And your love for me was deep, deeper than the love of women!

 

 

All of us will face it sooner or later.

 

A close friend is killed in an auto accident.

 

Or a beloved uncle or grandfather dies of a heart attack.

 

Or an innocent teacher is struck down when a holdup occurs at a store she’s visiting.

 

It can happen anywhere, anytime. God does not keep us from facing such losses. They happen to all of us.

 

When David learned of the death of his best friend, Jonathan, he grieved. The process of grief – when you work through your feelings over loss of a loved one – can be long and painful. Feelings of anger, depression, and other pain strike us. We may slip into deep despair if we’re not careful.

 

When you lose a loved one, talk about the situation with your parents, your friends, your church leaders. God does not tell us to act as if nothing has happened, or even to pretend we’re fine when we aren’t. He wants to go with us through the grief and show us the way beyond it. He will not simply zap us to eliminate all our bad feelings.

 

When you grieve, it’s okay to cry, okay to feel anger, even at God. Tell the truth about how you feel. That is the way through it.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to look to you when grief strikes. I know you understand. Amen.

Suicide

May 25, 2014

Suicide

 

1 Samuel 31:4: Saul groaned to his armor-bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines run me through and humiliate me.” But the armor-bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.

 

Suicide is a serious problem today for young people and old alike. It’s one of the leading causes of death among elementary school children. Why do people commit suicide? Usually, it’s because their lives have gone terribly wrong. Some sin or problem – bad grades in school, a bully situation, a parent’s death or divorce, loss of a job, a divorce – has struck and the person feels depressed and angry inside. He or she may try to end it all to relieve the pain.

 

In the story we’re looking at today, King Saul had lost an important battle. His fighting sons were killed, including Jonathan, David’s best friend. Saul saw no way out. In the darkness of the hour, he saw only one course of action: to die.

 

So Saul fell on his sword and killed himself.

 

Thoughts of suicide are nothing to be played with. If you feel depressed and suicidal, talk to your pastor or your Christian friends. Get help. Such people will know how to encourage you. Don’t keep it to yourself, and remember that God is with you. He will help you through this. He knows his plans for you and assures you that better days are coming, no matter how bad it looks now. Don’t let this time of pain and darkness destroy you.

 

Prayer: Father, let me turn to you for help when I’m feeling down. Amen.

Talking to Demons

May 24, 2014

Talking to Demons

 

1 Samuel 28:7: Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so Ican go and ask her what to do.”

 

Mrs. Gibbs was one strange woman, Jesse thought. He didn’t know how to respond to her.

 

Mrs. Gibbs, Jesse’s neighbor, believed she had a spirit guide named Yunga. She talked about Yunga all the time, the things he had told her, the ideas he passed on about life, friendship, death and other things. She said that she was “channeling” Yunga now. That meant he could take control of her at times and speak through her.

 

Jesse didn’t know what to make of it. Was the lady nuts?

 

New Age ideas have filtered into our culture. Many people believe in such things as “spirit guides,” “channeling” and other practices. What these really are, though, are demonic influences. Yunga may say he’s from the planet Zorg, but he’s really a demon bent on getting a foothold in the lives of open people.

 

When King Saul consulted a medium in the Bible story for today, great danger lurked. God had mercy on Saul and sent Samuel from the dead to speak to him. But Saul’s act was rank disobedience. He ended up dying for his sin.

 

Talking to demons, whatever way you try it, is filled with danger. Run from people who do that as fast as you can. They will try to snare you, too.

 

Prayer: Lord, keep me from the power of demons. Amen.

Don’t Mess With God’s Chosen One

May 23, 2014

Don’t Mess With God’s Chosen One

 

1 Samuel 26:11: But the LORD forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed. But I’ll tell you what—we’ll take his spear and his jug of water and then get out of there.

 

“He’s such a jerk,” Josh commented to his friend Giles as they left the office room.

 

“He’s just trying to get things going,” Giles answered.

 

“But they’re all so stupid. Just because he went to Harvard doesn’t mean he knows everything.”

 

“Maybe if we support him, it’ll go better,” Giles said.

 

“Oh, so you’re on his side now?” Josh replied.

 

Criticism. Have you ever spent some time criticizing your pastor, your leaders, your teachers, your spouse, your boss? Of course you have. It’s a normal thing to do.

 

But that doesn’t make it right. In the Bible story we’re looking at today, we see David in a difficult situation with King Saul. Saul wanted to kill David. Meanwhile, David fled here and there, managing always to escape. But in this situation, David had a chance to eliminate King Saul once and for all. Strangely, David refused. Why? Because he knew God had made Saul king. To hurt Saul, much as he deserved it, would invite God’s anger.

 

Criticizing and putting down the people God has put into positions of leadership in your life is wrong. God wants you to respect and value those people, even if they do flub up now and then. What will you do next time someone criticizes your leaders?

 

Prayer: Jesus, help me to support my leaders, even when I think they’re wrong. Amen.

Knowing God’s WIll

May 20, 2014

Knowing God’s Will

 

1 Samuel 23:2: David asked the LORD, “Should I go and attack them?” “Yes, go and save Keilah,” the LORD told him.

 

“Well, are you gonna run for Congress or not?” Julie asked her best friend, Marcie. “You’re one of the most well-known people in the district. You’ll win.”

 

“I’m not sure.”

 

“What’s to be sure about?”

 

Marcie took a long breath. She had become a Christian about a year before. In church she learned about God’s will and doing God’s will and things like that. She wanted to please the Lord. Did he want her to run?

           

“Is this one of those God things you have?” Julie finally asked.

 

“It’s important to me,” Marcie answered. “God is important to me. I have to do what he wants.”

 

“Fine, then pray about it, and see what happens.”

 

“Okay.” Marcie went home that night and prayed. God soon answered in a matter of days, giving her what she thought was a “go ahead.”

 

Is God concerned about things like getting elected to Congress? God wants to be involved in every aspect of your life. It’s not so he can control you. It’s so he can lead you to fulfillment.

 

Do you want to know what God wants today? Start with prayer. Talk to God. He’ll tell you.

 

Prayer: Father, I want to do your will, not mine. Lead me. Amen.

Bathed in God’s Glory

May 18, 2014

God In His Temple

 

Exodus 40:38: The cloud of the LORD rested on the Tabernacle during the day, and at night there was fire in the cloud so all the people of Israel could see it.

 

Moses often talked with God in the tent of meeting. He spoke face to face with God, the Bible says, though he did not see the physical face of God(he couldn’t). The Bible means they spoke directly, straightforwardly, without deception.

 

When Moses came out of a session talking to God, his face glowed. Why did that happen? Because it was like what happens to us when we are close to a fire. Our face and body get warm. In the firelight, our faces might appear to glow.

 

The glow Moses had stuck with him, though. So when he came out of the temple, everyone looked away from his face. It was bright, like the sun.

 

Why did this happen? Because spending time in the presence of God is like sitting by a hot fire. You come away joyful, filled with the Spirit. In some ways, you might even glow. God’s presence like that does many things. It warms us, making us feel secure and protected. It cleanses us, so that we become clean in his eyes. It comforts us in the coldness of the night, so that we know we’re not alone.

 

Those were all reasons that Moses became such a powerful leader of Israel. The presence and nearness of God made him feel strong and never alone. One day we will all bask in the presence of God, seeing him face to face. His love, comfort and care will keep us warm and happy through all eternity.

 

Prayer: Lord, let me draw near to you to live in your presence and warmth. Amen.

Who God Really Is

May 14, 2014

Who God Really Is

 

Exodus 34:6: He passed in front of Moses, and said, “I am the LORD, I am the LORD, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness.”

 

Who is God really? The big guy in charge of the world? Someone who demands that we worship and love him, or he’ll send us to hell? An all-powerful person who supposedly can do anything, but mostly doesn’t?

           

We all have many ideas about who God is and what he is like. One of the best pictures is found here in Exodus 34. Here, God told Moses exactly what he was like. What was that?

 

Compassionate. God understands where we hurt and he feels that hurt with us. He wants only to help us and make us feel safe in the world.

 

Gracious. God has many gifts. He owns the whole world. And his grace means he wants to give those gifts to all of us. He wants to make eternity in heaven one huge Christmas celebration.

 

Slow to anger. You may think God gets angry easily, but he really doesn’t. If he ever got truly angry with us, where would we be? But God is slow to anger. He is constantly patient, giving us the time and opportunity to change.

 

Abounding in lovingkindness. God is full of love. 1 John 4:16 says he is love itself. “God is love.” He wants to pour out h is love on each of us.

 

Does that give you a better picture of who God is?

 

Prayer: Lord, I praise you that you are the greatest of all, and I trust you. Amen.