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Archive for the month “October, 2014”

The Beginning of Healing from Resentment

The following prayer was given to us by Irene Ganz during our series on David’s Dark Days. It’s a prayer that reflects her journey of learning to forgive others and to surrender her resentment to him.

Knowing what many people in our church are dealing with right now, I thought it would be worth sharing it.

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Lord, teach me never to judge others….

The mind of man is so delicate, and so complex, that only You can know it wholly. Teach me to show humility towards each human soul. Each mind is so different…actuated by such different motives…controlled by  such different sufferings…and influenced by such different circumstances…that only you can know how severe the conditions were that make up that personality.

Please teach me to leave the unraveling of the problems of that personality to You. Lord, because you said to forgive…I choose to forgive all those who have hurt me. I know that no wound will heal until I forgive the person who made that wound. I also know that I will remain in bondage to the person I resent, until such time as I am prepared to release that person, and hand over my resentment to You. 

I pray that you give everything that I want for myself to the one that I resent, so that I may be free of my resentment. I pray for their health, their wealth and their happiness. And Lord, even if in my heart I don’t feel that I mean what I am saying right now, please remind me to continue saying this prayer until I do. 

I pray that you help me, Lord, to put aside my feelings…and I will continue to say this prayer until all of my resentment and bitterness turn into beautiful feelings of compassion, understanding, and love. AMEN. 

Thinking Christianly About Politics (Anne Lincoln Holibaugh)

This Tuesday is election day. And I (Chris) thought it would be a good time to share this article that I came across recently. It was written two years ago during the presidential race, but it’s truths are still important to remember.

 

 

  • Pledge your allegiance to Jesus. Our ultimate allegiance is pledged, not to a nation, government or political leader, but to the one true King and His kingdom – Jesus Christ. As believers ransomed from sin and death, our loyalties belong to Him. He is not interested in sharing our allegiance or affection.
  • Trust God’s ultimate authority. Because we trust God as the sovereign and good Ruler of all things, we can be set free from the fear that our fate rests in the hands of lawmakers, lobbyists, justices or politicians. Our ultimate hope is not in men or the decisions they make – it’s in the reality that Christ defeated sin and death on the cross and purchased newness of life for all who believe. And He is coming again – soon, by God’s grace – to establish peace and justice on the earth forever.
  • Be aware. Even if you hate politics or feel intimidated to talk about it, do your best to be informed. Watch the news, listen to NPR, read a news website, follow BBC World News on Twitter – something. It does not speak well of the gospel for believers to be completely ignorant of and apathetic to what is happening in the world. Keep in mind that most news outlets are pushing an agenda, so you will have to do some work to get a fair and balanced take on things.
  • Be involved. As the salt and light of the world, we ought to steward the liberties we’ve been given for the glory of God and the good of all people. We live in a democracy where our voice matters and our vote has the ability to influence important decisions. That is an incredible grace. Allegiance to King and kingdom does not mean we disengage from the world around us but rather lean into it and push back the darkness.
  • Remember that blood is thicker than politics. Tether yourself tightly to the law of love as you talk with others about potentially divisive issues. Especially in your conversations with other believers, remember that we are bound by blood, and that bond is stronger and more important than our views on healthcare, education, whether the United States should play nice or get tough with China, whose fiscal policy we favor or which candidate has the best hair.
  • Point people to the hope of the gospel. Our nation faces numerous challenges in the days to come, regardless of whether the White House is red or blue. Times are tough, and people facing hardship and despair need to hear the hope of the gospel and the love of a heavenly Father who provides and protects. Look for opportunities in this political season to talk about the hope and peace through Christ that cannot be crushed or stolen by circumstance.

Regardless of who is elected this Tuesday (and in every election), it is our duty and happy privilege as believers to pray for those in leadership. They are in need of Christ every moment, just like we are, whether they recognize that or not. The Scriptures also instruct us to honor and submit to those in authority. No matter whose policies are implemented or repealed, the church is called to care for the poor, show mercy to the weak and contend for justice on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed. We have been made a new people with a heavenly citizenship. Let’s walk that out with zealous humility – together.

3 Tips for Discipling Your Kids This Halloween (Michael Stewart)

Halloween seems to be the one holiday in American Christianity that we just don’t know what to do with. We are happy to celebrate cultural or historical holidays like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, or New Year’s Day. We love religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. But Halloween… Halloween has quite a mixed history, and so we don’t know how to approach it.

In one sense, it is a religious holiday. After all, it started out as “All Hallow’s Eve,” the night before “All Hallow’s Day,” which was a Christian holiday celebrating the lives of saints. In another sense, and one that is far more obvious to a 21st century American, it’s a cultural holiday.

To most families in America, Halloween is a fun time to eat candy, dress up, and have fun with friends. Yet because some choose to use this holiday to celebrate evil and its effects, it also can be a dark holiday.

Choosing wisely

With such a complicated mixture of influences, it’s important for each family to use discernment and wisdom in determining if and how to celebrate this holiday. I believe that there are sinful ways to participate in Halloween, just as there are with any holiday.

However, I also believe there are many aspects of this holiday that we have freedom in Christ to participate in. Regardless of how you choose to engage in this holiday, I urge you not to miss out on all the opportunities to disciple your kids that the Halloween season provides.

Because this holiday can be a complicated one to disciple your children through, I have three tips to help you lead well during this season.

1. Every Decision is an Opportunity for Discipleship

Each October, your family is faced with a multitude of decisions regarding Halloween. Will our kids dress up and go trick-or-treating? What should we let our kids dress up as? Should we decorate our house like all the neighbors do every year? Will we let our teenagers go to a Halloween party or a Haunted House with their friends? Is it ok for my preschooler to watch the Curious George Halloween episode, or will it be too scary? Are we ok with pictures of ghosts in our home? Witches? Jack-o-lanterns? And on and on.

Leaning on the Word, prayer and community

Fathers and mothers should answer these questions through consulting the Word of God, through prayer, and through community. The principles of Scripture need to be applied by each family with wisdom and discernment. Because every family, every child, and every ministry context is different, there is no “one size fits all” answer for how to approach the season.

However your family decides to answer all the questions that arise during Halloween, keep in mind that what is most important is how the decision is made. As long as each decision is made with the goal of honoring God and leading your kids to know Him more, then it is a good decision!

Share your reasoning with your children, along with how you are trying to honor God with your decision. In this way, every decision you make this Halloween can be opportunity for you to point them to Jesus.

For example, let’s say that my oldest, who’s now two, decides that she wants to wear a princess costume in a few years. Rather than just saying “yes” or “no,” I need to see that as an opportunity to talk with her about God.

As my wife and I pray about it and discuss it, we might decide that the reason she wants to be a princess is because she’s focused on external beauty. If that is the case, then we would tell her that she can’t be a princess, and explain that Jesus cares more about inner beauty than about external beauty.

On the other hand, we might decide that her request to be a princess is a great opportunity to talk to her about being a daughter of God. In that case, we would tell her yes, and explain to her that every girl who trusts in Jesus is a princess, because she is adopted into God’s family and is a daughter of the King of kings.

So you see, whether we say “yes” or “no” to her request is not as important as seeing it as an opportunity to tell her about Jesus. Seen through this lens, Halloween is simply full of opportunities for great discussion with your children.

2. Do Not Fear

Right now in Austin, Texas, where I live, there are billboards on every major highway advertising an attraction called the “House of Torment.” The advertisements for this “premiere haunted attraction” contain large pictures of characters that are downright frightening. I’m dreading the day that my two little girls notice these pictures while driving around.

The really scary part

To be honest, I’m scared of those billboards. I’m not scared of the pictures themselves – I’m scared of the conversation that I will need to have with my daughters once they see them. Scared that I won’t have the words to comfort them. Scared of saying the wrong thing.

One reason we parents tend to agonize over each little decision regarding Halloween is that we are scared. We’re scared that if we make the wrong decision, that we will scar our kids for life. We’re scared that we’re too strict, or that we’re too lenient. We’re scared because we care for our children so much, and want to make sure that we always do what’s best for them.

In these moments, God has words of comfort for us. When God’s people, Israel, were in fear of the nations around them, He said, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Good news for parenting mistakes

When Jesus was preparing His followers for going out and telling others about Him, he says “…do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).

As we speak to our kids about Christ this season, God has promised to be with us, and Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirit will give us words to say. And yes, we may make mistakes. After all, there is only one perfect parent, God the Father.

But the good news is that this Father is more wise, more powerful, and more loving than we are, and our kids are in His hands. He will use all of our successes and all of our failures in our parenting to bring His children to Him. We can rest in that promise, and we have no need to fear.

3. We’re All on the Same Team

Every year in the weeks leading up to Halloween, my heart breaks to see Christian parents tear each other down. Because we’re all a little insecure over whether our decisions were right or not, we tend to attack anyone who decided differently from us. Each year I see blog posts, Facebook status updates, and heated discussions full of “friendly fire” from one Christian parent to another. This type of talk is neither useful for building up the body of Christ nor helpful in sharing the good news of Jesus to others. It needs to stop.

I want to remind all of us parents that we all want the same thing. All of us are doing the best we can to lead our children through this life, praying that God will bring them safely home to Him. While other parents may make different decisions regarding Halloween than you have made, what we all need most is not judgment and criticism, but rather prayer, encouragement, and support.

Our enemy would love nothing more than for us to tear each other down during this holiday. Instead, I pray that this season will be filled with love – for our kids, for each other, for our neighbors, and most of all, for the Lord.

Happy Halloween, however you decide to spend it!

Embrace Your Role (Chris Francis)

We have 60-something people signed up for a life group right now. 


That means that there is a lot of potential for discipleship to happen through authentic community. 


I say “potential” because it’s never a guarantee. Not even with great leaders. Not even with a great study. Discipleship and authentic community only happen when each person in the group embraces the role that they play.

So if you’re in a life group, YOU have a role to play in your group. Even if you’re brand new to this life group thing and think it’s weird. 


So I just want to encourage all 60-something of you to ask the Lord, “What’s Next? What’s my next step in my life group?” If you ask it sincerely, and patiently listen, I believe God will put something on your heart. 


It might be to:


– Get someone’s phone number (not just the leaders of the group)

– Invite someone from the group over for dinner

– Take a risk and share that part of your story that you are embarrassed about

– Admit that you don’t understand something in scripture that the group has been talking about

– Start praying regularly for someone in the group that rubs you the wrong way

– Invite your neighbor to join you at your life group

– Invite some people in your life group to join you for a neighborhood bbq

– Challenge someone about an unhealthy mindset that you’ve observed

– Confess a temptation that you battle regularly

– Stop talking so much and listen more. 

– Follow up with someone who’s been AWOL for a few weeks and make sure they’re okay (and then ask them to tell you the truth). 

– Support someone else’s passion by offering to help them act on an idea they have


You get the idea. 


God is at work in your life group —  forming deep authentic community, drawing people closer to himself, transforming hearts. And YOU get to be part of it. That is an awesome privilege. 


Embrace your role.

Combating Religion In Our Hearts (Chris Francis, stolen from Tim Keller)

Man-made religion is not something we choose to believe. It’s something we naturally drift towards. It’s a result of sin. And so even after we come to know Christ as Savior and submit to him as Lord, we still must battle the every-day inclination to drift back toward man-made religion in our every-day lives.

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, wrote a list of some of the differences between religion and the gospel and how they play out in our thinking and behavior.

Read them.

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RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure.
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

 

That list was pretty eye-opening, right?

The only thing left to do is pray.

Forgive us, Father, for the ways that we allow religion to drive our thoughts and motivations and behaviors. Help us, by the power of your Spirit, to trust more fully in the Amazing Grace that you have poured out on us. May we not just believe in your gospel, but may we be driven by it in everything we say and do and think. Amen.

 

A Hope Greater Than Healing (Dave Zulegar)

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A Hope Greater Than Healing
Lots and lots of people in our churches are in serious, ongoing, life-threatening pain.

I wrote before about how God does not just bring us through suffering, but he also works in our suffering. But, what if the healing comes? Or, what if it never comes in this life? Is our hope in the comfort, the relief, the healing here? No, far more than healing, our hope is in God himself and him alone.

The Futility Around Us

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility. . . For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:18–22)

This paragraph begins and ends with suffering. We know from the Bible and from experience that there are deeply painful experiences of suffering for us in this life. And we also know that much of the brokenness we experience personally has to do with the broken world we live in, cursed by God because of sin.

The earth we call home has been “subjected to futility.” It is in “bondage to corruption.” It has been “groaning in the pains of childbirth.” There are earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and hurricanes that wreak havoc in our world. And there are smaller, but awful problems like difficulties with crops, water flooding basements, and trees falling on houses. In your neighborhood, across our nation, and around the globe, the world we live in is broken and futile in all kinds of ways.

The Futility Within Us

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

It’s not only creation that’s groaning in futility, but human beings — us — even Christians. Even those who have escaped condemnation (Romans 8:1–4) and have the Spirit of God living inside of them are groaning in pain and suffering and confusion. Why?

Because even those who have put their faith in Christ still must live in these broken bodies conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5). We’re called to “put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit” (Romans 8:13), which means our bodies will still desire sin, even after we’re in Christ. Paul goes as far as to say that these bodies are dead (Romans 8:10–11). And not only is there still sin in us, but there is physical suffering of every kind. There is chronic pain, auto-immune diseases, extreme disabilities, cancers, and everything in between. Our bodies are “wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

The picture we come away with is one in which not only is creation futile and groaning, but so are we — groaning because of sin and because of suffering. A futile place with futile people. Things simply are not as they should be.

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Healed Today, Gone Tomorrow

I pray often for members of our church with health issues that they would be healed. Paul asked three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). In James, the elders are called in to ask for the healing of a person that is sick (James 5:14–15). It’s right to pray and ask for these symptoms of the curse to be taken away. And yet, many times, there is pain that doesn’t leave. And the healing doesn’t happen.

We rejoice when God heals a case of terminal cancer or relieves someone of chronic daily pain, whether it is through a miracle or a doctor or both. The curse has lost another battle and God has shown his goodness in a sweet and meaningful way in the life of one of his children. But, even the most miraculous healing is extremely temporary and fading. Even if someone is healed after years of chronic pain, or even if a terminal cancer patient watches his tumor disappear, or even if someone with severe disabilities experiences unexpected improvement, our hope far outweighs any healing in this life.

Yes, we praise God for any of these good gifts, but we must realize they’re not the ultimate goal or hope. In fact, the person in pain with cancer or with disabilities is still living in a futile home with a futile body, even after his healing. The healthiest person in the world lives in a place where disaster could strike or his body could fail at any moment.

The Futility Behind Us

These realities are why it is utterly important to find our hope in Jesus Christ himself rather than in any healing or circumstances, however good.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:23–24)

Adopted into God’s family, we were saved in the hope of the redemption of our bodies. It is amazing that we’re no longer under condemnation for our sin (Romans 8:1–4). And it is amazing that we’ve received the righteousness of Christ as our own (2 Corinthians 5:21). Just as amazing is the reality that one day even our bodies will be redeemed. Even our broken, futile bodies will be free from sin and suffering to fully do what we were made to do: worship Jesus Christ.

This is the promise that makes Romans 8:18 possible for those in pain. “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” This is why our ultimate hope is not in the healing of our bodies now, but in the redemption of our bodies then.

The Point of Our Pain

If you’re suffering, remember that one day every tear will be wiped away and you will be with Jesus forever. God is making all things new so that there is a day coming when we will worship Jesus with redeemed bodies in a redeemed creation — finally free to focus all of our energy on enjoying and praising the glory of our God. Whether you were healthy or not in this life, you will experience — with all of your senses healed and heightened — the fullness of the beauty of the Lamb that was slain for you.

Ultimately, we don’t find our joy in pain-free days or a positive diagnosis. In life and in death, we find our hope and joy in knowing that there is a day coming when we will no longer see Jesus dimly, but face to face — no longer in futility, but in freedom and fullness.

 

 

David’s Dark Days – Pt. 4: When We’re Guilty (Chris Francis)

We usually record the audio from the sermons each Sunday, but this past  Sunday we had some technical difficulties and that did  not happen. Since I usually write out my notes before the sermon and it’s a relatively similar version, I figured  I’d post those notes  below for those who are following this series.

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DAVID’S DARK DAYS – Pt. 4

“When We’re Guilty”

The first three weeks of this series we’ve focused on how David was being attacked by King Saul. King Saul was the first king of Israel, but because he rebelled against God and chose to do things his own way, God sent the prophet Samuel to find a man after God’s own heart – a young shepherd boy named David. And Samuel anointed him with oil, oil symbolizing God’s presence with David. However, the question of when David would become king was anyone’s guess.

 

Then during a battle with the Philistines, David, who was not even enlisted in the Israelite army, volunteered to go fight a giant man named Goliath. And he killed Goliath. and he became famous all over Israel. All the girls had his poster on their bedroom walls, and all guys tried to act like they were his friend.

 

And that’s when Saul started to wonder, is this the guy who will replace me as king? Even Saul’s own son Jonathan – who Saul wanted to be the heir of the thorne — loved David and knew God had a special plan for David.

 

So Saul started to attack David, first by throwing spears at him while David was playing the lyre. Then Saul would send him into dangerous battles, secretly hoping he would die in battle.

 

But David never died. God kept protecting him, blessing him, and so finally Saul made an official decree: Find David, kill him. And David had to go on the run and leave his wife, his best friend Jonathan, and everything else.

 

He ended up in a cave, and then soon people started to find him — people who knew how whacked and crazy Saul was. And eventually 400 men found david and followed David as the commander of their unofficial army.

 

And within a couple years, David had two opportunities to kill Saul, but didn’t.

 

David kept entrusting himself to God, letting God be king, running to God as his refuge, refusing to take matters into his own hands, leading with integrity, suffering persecution and unfair treatment and refusing to return evil with evil.

 

And we’ve all been inspired by David.  Well Today is going to be a bit different.

 

I’ve been saying that this series is based on the book, “A Tale of Three Kings” about David’s dark days in his relationship with Saul and then with his own son Absalom.

 

But we’re going to veer from the book and focus on another dark season in David’s life.

 

A dark season that occurred not because of the sins of others — but a dark season that occurred because of his own sin. His own guilt.

 

David was indeed declared to be a man after God’s own heart. God chose David to be the ancestor of Jesus.

 

But David was not Jesus. David was a sinful man, a complex character, and I wanted to focus on this time in his life cause otherwise I think we would paint him as an unrealistic character that none of us could relate to. Cause most of us have been through and maybe are going through difficult times that are a result of our own screw-ups….aren’t we?

 

So the title of today is called:

 

When We’re Guilty

 

Okay so last week we left off with David & Saul going their separate ways after David had a chance to kill Saul in the camp.

 

Well about four years later, Saul finally died in battle.

And three of his sons are also killed in this battle…including Jonathan, David’s best friend.

And then the book of 1 Samuel ends.

And the book of 2 Samuel begins with David finding out that Saul and Jonathan were killed. And he mourns for them both, he honors them both.

So then David is made king of Judah,  the southern part of Israel, he was about 30 years old.  Saul’s son Ishbosheth became king of the rest of Israel. So there were two kings and there was this civil war between David’s followers and Saul’s supporters, and finally David became king over all of Israel.

And what we see is that David is very successful. Teh dark days are over, and now it’s a time of blessing and success and praise.

He won many battles against the Philistines, he brought the ark of the covenant into the city of Jerusalem (which contained the tablets of the law and represented the presence of Yahweh). God even promised David in this time that there will always be a king from his line on the throne, and God will establish the throne of David forever. Pretty big deal.

But in this success, David starts to indulge himself a bit. And he gets a bit lazy. And he gets a bit entitled.

First, he starts to assemble a collection of wives….and concubines…. which always brings up questions, “why was he allowed to do that?” he wasn’t, but he did it….and it was the start of the story we’re looking at today. David now had the power to indulge his sexual desires whenever he wanted, and he did…..and he did again…and again…..…

And When he is about 50 years old, he’s gets into real trouble.

By this point, He’s been a king for about 20 years, 7 over Judah and 13 over all of Israel. We’ll pick it up in

2 Samuel 11

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Right off the bat, the chapter starts off sort of with an UH OH. This is huge. When kings go out to war….David stayed behind. It’s like it said, “At 8am, when kids go to school, Billy went to the park.” You’re like, “Oh, somethings’ gonna’ happen.”

That’s what David is doing — you guys go this time, I’ll stay here. I just want to play video games. He’s the king, so nobody is gonna’ argue with him, but everyone had to wonder, “What’s up with David? The mighty warrior?”

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

He must have been taking an afternoon nap, maybe drank too much wine at breakfast — he’s living the lazy man’s life. Men who were not created to be lazy.

David knew these men. He knew this girls’ father and her husband. They were among his mighty men, men who were of the most loyal to David. David has a choice to make – indulge or resist temptation. What does he do?

4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

We don’t know how many times it was, but David slept with another woman, who was not his wife, and who was another man’s wife, another man who was fiercely loyal to David.

Now although this was a big deal, to david it probably didn’t feel like a big deal. That’s how sin works. He was already taking on more and more wives whenever he wanted, had a bunch of concubines, and so now he just saw another hot woman in her bath-tub and — well, why no.

David had been fueling his selfish desires for years, feeding sin, giving it doggie treats so that it kept coming back, giving it more and more fertilizer so that it kept growing…..this was not a big leap.

And it says that she came to him — the phrase in Hebrew implies that she consented, came willingly. So it wasn’t like David raped her.

This is no way excuses David’s sin, but it would suggest that this was an on-going affair, not a one-time thing.

And It says that she had been purifying herself from her time of the month, which tells us that there is no way she was pregnant before she slept with david.

But now she was.

And she told David at once. Because she needed him to take care of things. Under the law of Moses, the penalty for adultery, for both the man and woman, was death. You needed a few witnesses in order to carry out the sentence, but since David had servants bring her to him, they probably had that. This was not a secret. The palace knew. The cooks and the maids were talking about it on their cigarette breaks, this was out there.

So David had to cover up this pregnancy. If abortions were possible then, I have no doubt that David would have done it.

So what does David do??

6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going.

David sent for Bathsheba’s husband. And Uriah shows up and David starts asking him how things were going. This was a phony conversation. Uriah was not a messenger, and messengers were probably already bringing word to david. This would be like if you’re a student in school and your principal calls you down to his office and asks you how your teacher is doing. “Uh…she’s doing a good job, I guess.”  Really weird for Uriah.

And the reason David did this is because he was hoping to get Uriah to go sleep with his wife so that when she started to show in her belly, Uriah would think it was his.

We’re going to skip a few verses for time’s sake, but basically what happens is that Uriah wouldn’t do it. Uriah didn’t go home to sleep, but instead slept with David’s servants, with the men who were protecting David, and when David asked him the next day, “why didn’t you go home and enjoy yourself?” Uriah just said, “My comrades are out in the fields fighting for the lord, so I can’t live like a normal civilian right now.”

David’s plan wasn’t working because Uriah had too much integrity. David even got him drunk one night, and Uriah still didn’t do it. He showed more self-control while drunk than David was exercising.

Then in v. 14 David gets really desperate.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

In his effort to cover up his sin, he now resorts to a greater sin – murder. And here’s the funny thing – David trusted Uriah so much that he knew Uriah would not read the message that he himself was carrying. The message that would be his death sentence. Incredibly ironic.

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

This is one of the greatest tragedies of the bible. An innocent man, who had been loyal to dAvid and showed nothing but integrity in his last days, is murdered by David – the king who God said was a man after his own heart.

In 1998 the nation was in an uproar when it came out that President Bill Clinton had an affair with an intern a few years earlier. Evangelical Christians were especially outraged

Billy Boy’s escapades were misdemeanors compared to David’s actions here.

And here is my first point — we’re all capable of this. Every one of us. Sin lurks in all our hearts, and if it goes un–addressed, it always grows. Like cancer cells, it always grows If you’re not changing the environment. If there is no confession, if there is no accountability, it will get worse.

And often times we are most vulnerable when things are going well, when we’re at the top of our games.

David’s success caused him to be less dependent on God, less desperate….and to not feel dependable on God always leads to our pride getting the upper hand.

exterior Weakness should breed dependence on God which breeds spiritual strength.

Exterior Strength can breed a lack of dependence which always breeds spiritual weakness.

now let’s keep going.

picking it up in verse 26.

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

it seems as though David is out of the debacle. He did what men try to do — he fixed the problem. Taken care of. NOw he even looks like the hero, bringing this poor widow into his home to be his wife, taking care of her, and oh, now she’s pregnant.

But God is not happy. This is the first time in the whole situation that God is mentioned. And he is displeased.

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next chapter:

2 Samuel 12

So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story:

Nathan often came to david to tell him about different court cases, in a sense.

And so Nathan goes to David and begins to tell him this story:

“There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2 The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 3 The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter.

 

4 One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

 

5 David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6 He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

So David hears this story and he is furious at this rich man in the story. But his anger and indignation were even more over-the-top than it should have been. “As surely as the lord lives” – that’s quite an oath to declare —  “this man deserves to die.” Killing a lamb was not a capital offense.

Scholars think David was wrestling with his own guilt and was somewhat reacting out of anger with himself when he said this.

David’s guilt were tormenting him. He was not at ease with what he had done at all.

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man!

You are the rich man in the story. You are the man with tons of sheep who stole the one little lamb from the poor guy. It’s you, David.

When we’ve really screwed up, it’s often really hard to confess it and bring it up. Especially when it’s so easy to hide it and keep it quiet.

But because God loved David so much, he sent Nathan to start the conversation. God will often use other people to lovingly but firmly point out the blind spots in our own lives, to come to us and say, “Yo, what the heck? I’m worried about you.”

Nathan continued:

The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more.

 

9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife.

The root sin, God is telling David, is prideful ingratitude. You were not grateful for what you had. You were not grateful for what I gave you. And it lead to all kinds of evils.

10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own. 11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

You have despised me, God says. By taking another man’s wife, by sinning in this way, David despised God. God feels Despised when we say, “You haven’t given me enough. I want more and I’m gonna’ get it my own way.” God feels despised.

 

And then God, through Nathan, tells DAvid that a consequence of David’s sin will be that David’s home will be a wreck. His kids, his family, is going to have turmoil in it. There will be relational strife in your life for the rest of your life. That’s what happens with sin – there are always consequences, trust issues follow, resentments, loss of respect… especially for people in public positions.

And now what does David do? Nathan pointed out his sin, Nathan laid out the consequences of his actions…and what does David do?

When Saul was a young king, 30-40 years earlier, and the prophet Samuel confronted him, Saul blamed other people. He tried to downplay his sin. He did the whole, “well here’s the things…..here’s what happened…”

So What does David do?

How we respond to our own sin — not just others’ sins but even our own sins — often reveals who sits on the throne of our hearts.

13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

He is finally convicted of his sin, and instead of blaming others, instead of diminishing it, instead of making excuses, he admits it: “I have sinned against God.”

Yes, he sinned against Uriah, against Bathsheba, against Israel…but mostly and ultimately he sinned against God and he owned it.

A person after God’s heart, when they are shown their sin, owns it. There is no blaming, no diminishing, no downplaying, no excusing. We own it. Even if someone else – a co-worker, a spouse, a parent — did wrong in the situation, we own our part in it.

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.

Now we’re going to stop here. There’s more to the story – we’ll pickit up next week.

We’re going to end by focusing right here.

The Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.

This is nuts.

We have to feel the weight of this. This part is really what should bother us. it should bother our sense of justice.

Anybody like to watch Law & Order type shows?  Or movies like Taken?? Where you just can’t wait for the bad guys to die? And you’re thinking of ways that you would kill them if you had the chance to?

God has given all of us a sense of justice, and God forgiving David should bother that sense of justice. We live in a culture that takes God’s forgiveness for granted — it’s sort of assumed by us that God would forgive us, maybe even deserve God’s forgiveness, which is a strange thing, but it’s true. Things like lying, addictions, having a bad temper – those things are put in the category, for most of us, as “God should definitely forgive this.”

But there a certain things  — and it’s usually things that other people do — that we just can’t imagine God forgiving. DAvid Berkowitz, the Son of Sam serial killer in the summer of 1977, claims he later became a Christian in prison.  I actually wrote to him about ten years ago to write a script about his life and he wrote me back, that was pretty cool. But people have a hard time believing that God could forgive him, as he claims. How could God forgive a serial murderer like that.

But how could God forgive David? Taking the wife of one of his closest men — stealing, adultery, lying about it. Then murder — but not just the murder of Uriah, other men, too. In order for Uriah to be sent close enough to enemy lines, other people had to be sent, too. Uriah wasn’t sent all by  himself (“hey Uriah, get close and try to take them all on”) No, many men were ordered on a suicide mission so that Uriah could be killed. This was mass murder, as well as treason against Israel.

Adultery, murder, and treason – all capital offenses. And God said, You will not die for this.

How could a just and holy God say that?

Well….

1,000 years after Nathan said to David, “You are the man.”  Pontius Pilate said to a crowd of people about Jesus, “Behold the man.”

1,000 years after David sat in the guilty seat before Nathan….Jesus sat in the guilty seat before Pilate.

1,000 years after David was released from the death sentence that he deserved….Jesus was given the death sentence that he did not deserve.

David could be pardoned….because Jesus took David’s place.

Romans 3:25-26

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time.

David could be forgiven because his sins were paid for by Jesus 1,000 years later, as part of God’s plan. David received it by faith, even though he wasn’t sure what it would look like.

And we can, too. On a daily basis.

We’re going to end by doing a few things — a few things to help us focus on the mercy and grace that God offers us through JESUS.

We’re going to sing, we’re going to receive communion, and we’re going to read something together.

__

But begin reflecting on your life right now. YOu may believe Jesus paid for your sins in a general sense – but is there a specific sin in your life that you are feeling guilt and shame about? If you haven’t confessed it to God, do it…but then confess his grace over that sin.

If you are NOT wrestling with guilt over a specific sin, because you’ve been medicating that guilt through drugs or alcohol or staying busy or tv or working longer hours….well, own it. Confess it. But then confess God’s grace over that sin.

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After Nathan confronted David, and David owned his sin – sometime over the next couple days David wrote Psalm 51. We’re going to read parts of it together,  before we receive the elements of communion.

New to faith?

Psalm 51.

Have mercy on me, O God,

   according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

   blot out my transgressions.

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2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

   and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,

   and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

   and done what is evil in your sight…..

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Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean;

   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Oh, give me back my joy again;

   you have broken me—

   now let me rejoice.

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9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.

   Remove the stain of my guilt.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.

   Renew a loyal spirit within me.


This communion represents the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus — who paid it all, so that this prayer of ours could be answered. Jesus paid it all – all to him we owe our worship and thanksgiving and praise.

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