Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘David’

Love Who? Forgive Who?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17 (KJV)

God created man in His own image. Scripture doesn’t exactly say why God created man, but the verses in Genesis would have me believing that He created man for companionship. While it is not explicitly stated, there is the inference that God walked with Adam in the garden regularly.

Then old slewfoot entered the picture and cast doubt upon God’s word and single prohibition.

“Did God really say…?” Followed by “Well, He didn’t really mean it like that.”

Yes, He did say. And yes, He did mean just exactly that.

John 3:16 is probably the first verse a new Christian memorizes (if verse memorization is still encouraged). At least it was the first verse my contemporaries and I learned. But we didn’t learn it all, because we didn’t memorize verse 17 as well.

Most of us have heard that where it says “the world” and “whosoever” you can substitute your own name.

For God so loved ________, that he gave his only begotten Son, that __________ [believing] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Okay, but what does this have to do with forgiveness?

Glad you asked.

See those blanks?  Now insert the name of someone who has harmed you in some way.

Yeah, the guy who cut you off in traffic or the woman who told lies about you to keep you from that promotion or anyone who has hurt you or made you angry in any manner. (For me, that includes the former son-in-law who murdered three of my grandchildren.)

When God said “the world”, he meant those people, too.

God’s love is much bigger than ours. But if God loves them, and if I’m a follower of Christ, then I must love them, also.

True love is NOT a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is a decision followed by a course of action. Love is a decision to seek the welfare of another person above your own.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

When we look at verse 17, we can take out “the world”, insert blanks again, and then write in the name of that person who has harmed or offended you.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn __________; but that __________ through him might be saved.

Oh, ouch!

Can God really forgive ____________? (Insert the name of any offense in that blank.)

Yes, he can.

Look at King David. He was called a man after God’s own heart.

And when he [God] had removed him [Saul], he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.  ~~  Acts 13:22 (KJV)

Really?

David, the man who coveted another man’s wife? David, the man who committed adultery with Bathsheba?

David, the man who tried to manipulate Uriah to cover his sin? David, the man who conspired to have Uriah killed in battle?

Yes, that David.

The saving grace was that David, imperfect and sinful as he was, did love God. He wanted to do as God willed. He simply fell far short of that mark.

In all his transgressions, David recognized his sin was against God and God’s commandments. Actually, that’s where every sin lies – against God’s commandments.

God’s capacity to forgive is much bigger than ours. But if God forgives them, and if I’m a follower of Christ, then I must forgive them, also.

Forgive – definition

transitive verb

1 : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon forgive one’s enemies

2a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital (see requital sense 1) for forgive an insult

b : to grant relief from payment of forgive a debt

Forgiveness is NOT the same as reconciliation.

Forgiveness is a decision followed by a course of action. Forgiveness is a decision to absolve from payment and to renounce anger and resentment against someone who has harmed you.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, … and pray for them which despitefully use you, ~~ Matthew 5:44

The only positive action you must take after that decision is to remember that person in your prayers.

Father God,

Help us to remember who we are in you. Give us the grace to see other people through your eyes of love. Empower us to be swift to forgive.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

 

 

 

Be Still and Know

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

~~ Psalm 46 (KJV)

David’s psalms carry us through the diversities and adversities of life. He touches all the seasons from elation and praise to persecution and despair. This psalm, however, shows us the power.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, people would say to me “You’re so strong. I don’t see how you do it.”

And my answer was “I’m not strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong.” This is where you lean. On God. No matter what is going on around you, remember Him. Look to Him. Lean on Him.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Quiet your heart; cease striving. It all adds up to getting your heart and mind quiet enough to hear His small whispers clearly enough to heed them.

Be still… Even when chaos seems to reign, God is still in charge. He is the salvation we need so desperately.

Look at His awesome power. Look at the detailed care He takes in creation. Look at His power over the actions and affairs of men.

Truly every knee shall bow before Him. Praise His name.

Father, God,

Thank You for speaking to us in the stillness. Help us to quell our fears and calm our excitements to be able to hear You better.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Crux of the Matter

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

~~ Psalm 22:14-18 (KJV)

These five verses seem to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus. “I am poured out like water.+ He has become our drink offering, poured out for our sins.

We are taken through the physical traumas that the Lord experienced on the cross, through the throngs of evil men around Him, clear to the casting of lots for his garments.

God gave David a vision, the words of this psalm. A picture of our salvation.

Our salvation was sealed at the foot of the cross of Christ. Without it, we have no offering to God. Jesus became our sin offering so that we could come to God without any other mediator.

It is through Jesus, and Jesus only, that we can come to the Father with the assurance that He sees us only through the saving blood of Christ.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the price of our redemption. Make us mindful of the enormity of Your love for us and the sacrifice of Jesus. Keep us humble and unassuming when we come to You with our prayers.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 9 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.

Peace?

And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.  ~~ Judges 6:22-24 (KJV)

Shalom – Peace – a thing to be greatly desired.  We live in world which is much in need of peace. We see riots and violence all around us.  Clenched fists and raised voices punctuate many public gatherings. Terrorists plot destruction at random. Anger and dissension seem to rule our public conversations. Where is our peace?

Look at Gideon. He was living essentially in hiding. When the angel of the Lord came to him, he was threshing wheat under the cover of the wine press to hide it from the Midianites. His father had even built an altar to Baal, the god of the Midianites. Talk about appeasement and living in fear!

But Gideon saw the angel of the Lord face to face and was given peace.

We, too, can see the Lord’s peace in the midst of adversity. When you know who God really is, when you have done all you have been instructed to make a situation right, you can safely leave it in God’s hands and quit worrying about it.

If we look further at Gideon’s story, we notice what appear to be contradictions. Gideon is threshing wheat in hiding because of his fear of the Midianites. But the angel of the Lord addresses him as “Mighty Man of Valor.”

Going even further, as Gideon sets out to do battle with the Midianites under the Lord’s orders, God reduces his army strength from 23,000 to 300. What! You are going out to do battle and send the bulk of your army home. What kind of strategy is this?

It is the same strategy with which David slew Goliath:

And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. ~~ I Samuel 17:47 (KJV)

If you are marching under the Lord’s orders, you are responsible only for your own obedience. The results of that battle are left to the Lord. He is in charge.

Father, God,

Help us to understand our limitations. Grant that we may see Your power through the lens of our weaknesses. Give us the peace to rest in you, even when things seem all wrong.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Discipline

Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.  And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.  And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.  But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah. And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah the king’s servants:But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not. ~~ First Kings 1:5-10 (KJV)

Adonijah was David’s son born next after Absalom. We are told that he was good looking and that his father had never interfered with whatever he wanted to do. In other words, he was a spoiled child, never disciplined.

Good looking children have a handicap. People make a fuss over them when they are small and tend not to scold them “because they’re so cute.” Even when they make mischief, it’s excused away.

When my son was small, he was very cute. He looked like a little elf, hair as gold as dead-ripe wheat, eyes as blue as an Irish lake, a sprinkling of freckles, and a grin that could light up an underground cavern.

He was about two years old when we were in the grocery store check out lane. Like every two-year-old I’ve ever known, his arms were rubbery enough to stretch to every candy bar and chewing gum package lining that aisle. I took both his hands into mine as I told him “no” and placed them on the handle of the grocery cart beneath my own hands.

A lovely great-grandmotherly type behind me said “He’s so cute! How can you scold him?”

“He’s so cute, how dare I not?” was my response.

Children need to grow up with a sense of responsibility, not entitlement. Adonijah wanted the glory of the kingship, he didn’t have the stomach to behave as a king. When Solomon was crowned by David, Adonijah withered on the vine.

Undisciplined people don’t have the perserverance to see things through to the end.

Father, God,

Help us to be Your disciplined children and to discipline our own children to Your ways. Give us the patience and endurance to persevere to the end.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Light and Glory

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:   Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  ~~ John 1:11-13  (KJV)

It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings and excesses and pressures our culture imposes on the season that we can lose sight of the essentials.

Shopping, baking, decorating, gift wrapping, and parties consume our time and energy.  We do all in the name of Christmas, but we seem to forget that the basis of Christmas is Christ.

When Christ was born, he was born into the family of David. But the religious Jews of that day did not recognize him. The message was given to shepherds in the field. The Magi sought Him out.  But in the Jewish community of that day, His reception was mixed.

Some recognized him.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,   Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. ~~ Luke 2:25-32 (KJV)

“A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

In this season, let us look to the light and the glory.

Father, God,

Help us to see and to recognize the reason for this season. Grant that we may never lose sight of Your salvation for those who believe. Thank You for sending Jesus as our Savior and our example. May we extend Your love and generosity to all we meet.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Praying For Crop Failure – Reposted

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?

But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.

Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.

And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

2 Samuel 12:18-23 (KJV)

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. Nathaniel Hawthorne made a note to that effect when he was writing The Scarlet Letter. If you don’t remember your high school English class, The Scarlet Letter is a novel about the consequences of actions and the ramifications of covering a sin.

David had some consequences to deal with. Because of his treachery in dealing with Bathsheba and Uriah, the child born to Bathsheba sickened and died. For a week, David fasted and prayed that God would change His mind and save the child. Still the child died.

When the child died, David stopped fasting and praying. The child was gone. Nothing could bring him back.

We all sin from time to time. It’s part of the human condition. And when we sin, we’d like to pray successfully for crop failure. Most of the time, it doesn’t work. Because every action carries the seed of consequence, we will reap what we sow, more than we sow, at a later date.

True repentance can sometimes bring on a crop failure, but we can’t count on that. Our best course of action is to plant only good seed and pray for a bountiful harvest.

Father, God,
Keep us ever mindful that our actions have meaning. Help us remember that we are responsible for the fruits of our actions. Grant us the vision to see the consequences of our actions and the wisdom to avoid those that have negative outcomes.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published on 11 April 2009