I Corinthians 3 Part 2–It Is Simply About Christ

As Paul was dealing with the church at Corinth, it became apparent that they would substitute anything with skin on it for true faith in God through Christ. It is difficult to simply trust God and take Him at His word.  People wanted to trust Paul, Peter, Apollos…and the list goes on. If that was not enough, they wanted to trust in their accomplishments, souls saved, meetings attended, good deeds that were done, contributions that were given.  Paul was trying to help the Corinthians and Christians in general to know–It is always Christ and Him crucified that justifies our faith, our salvation and our relationship with God.
 
In our world, little has changed. It is still difficult to walk in this life simply trusting God to lead us and to save us.  We want to help, somehow.  We want to join the right church, do the right activities and be the right people in order to justify our faith.  Paul and God say no! It is simply not about who we are, where we attend church or what achievements we have accomplished.  We are justified by our faith in Christ. It is all about who He is and what He has done.  We are saved by faith, through grace. If we will simply trust Christ, follow Him and rest in his provision, protection and preparation, then He will transform us into his image and prepare us for an eternity with Him. There is no greater gift, nor is there any easier formula.  Help me Lord to follow You!
 
God Bless You

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b] 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas[c] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

2 Samuel 21-Various Stories of David’s Reign–Making Amends to Gibeah

After David became king, God caused a famine in the land. When David inquired to the Lord about the reason for the famine. God told David the famine was a result of the killing of the Gibeonites by Israel at Saul’s direction.  So David went to the Gibeonites and sought to make amends.  The Gibeonites wanted the lives of 7 of Saul’s family. With great sadness, David complied and sent 7 of Saul’s descendants to Gibeah, where they were killed.  In addition, David reclaimed the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and returned the bones to be buried in the family grave.  His efforts appeased God and the famine was over and the peoples were healed.
 
Throughout life, we are faced with tasks we wished we did not have to perform. Whether king or humble servant–the journey we take has tough moments.  If we will continue to seek God and follow his lead, he will show us how to overcome the barriers and obstacles in our lives.  As we do, we can help to make things right for others as well.  Like David, our first stop must be at the throne of God. When we get there, the Lord will give us what we need to proceed.  Help me, Lord to understand what it takes to complete the journey You have set out!
 
God Bless You

The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.

They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”

So the king said, “I will give them to you.”

The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.

10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.

2 Samuel 18 Part 1–The Death of Absalom and the Wages of Sin

Absolom tried every way to trap and kill his Father. He sought the counsel of the leaders he amassed Israel’s army and attempted to hunt David down. He did everything but seek God and honor God, and that cost Absalom his life.  It was an unceremonious death, really. He got caught in a tree by his hair. David’s general executed him in the tree and his men threw him in a pit and covered him with rocks. All at once, the battle was over.  Sadly, 20,000 men lost their lives in the battle–a battle that had no real merit.  David’s sin had cost him, cost his family, cost his people. What a price to pay for sin,
 
In Romans 6:23, Paul tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” We are so fortunate to be able to see God absorb the wages of our sin.  The verse is by no means a promise that we will not see the consequence of our sin.  David saw it.  But, while the consequence of our sin may devastate us and affect lives around us; God will walk through it with us, forgive us and lead us to the end of the journey! Absalom turned from God and his father to make a name–that name became a tragedy. David turned to God and humbled himself. God gave David the name of “Man after God’s own heart”. God made David the father of the lineage of our Lord and restored him as king. David was not perfect, he was simply committed to following God to the end.  Help me, Lord to also remain committed to following you to the end.
 
God Bless You
 
Remember, today is the National Day of Prayer–So pray!

David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.

Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”

11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[b] of silver and a warrior’s belt.”

12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels[c] were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.[d]’ 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy[e]—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have kept your distance from me.”

14 Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.

16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.

2 Samuel 14 Part 2–Absalom is Finally Home

David brought Absolom back from Exile. Still, however, he would not have anything to do with his son.  As time passed, Absalom grew angrier. So, He set Joab’s field on fire. When Joab confronted Absalom, Absalom let him have it.  Why did you bring me home only to be exiled in my own town?!?! So Joab went to King David and told him what happened and that Absalom was right.  David summoned Absalom and he kissed his son restoring him and truly welcoming him home.
 
When we are obedient, we cannot limit it to just putting on a front. David brought Absalom back, but not really.  It was not about the place only, it was about his position as well.  David had to welcome Absalom back personally to restore him.  In our lives, we have to do more than simply go through the motions.  We have to honor God and His plan in our lives.  When we do, He will bless us, but, until we do, He will not! David had to welcome Absalom back. We have to follow God completely and trust Him fully.  God simply does not accept half effort.  Help me Lord, to trust You completely and follow You closely!
 
God Bless You

In all Israel, there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels[b] by the royal standard.

27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.

28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

31 Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”

32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.”

33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.

2 Samuel 13 Part 1–When the Unforgivable Happens

There is no good news in this story.  God promised David that because of his great sin that his own house would always be in turmoil. So was the case with Amnon and Tamar.  Amnon simply disregarded all rule of propriety and raped his sister. He should have been immediately killed and Tamar cared for. Neither happened. David was furious, Tamar’s Brother Absolom crushed and bitter–but nothing was either said or done to Amnon.
 
Sometimes things get so horrible that all are left in wonder of how to proceed.  In this case, David should have taken quick and extreme action.  Here David sat with his own guilt and shame and did not respond.  We cannot simply do nothing when such evil is committed.  A wise man said once, “Evil thrives when good men do nothing!” Had David taken action immediately, so much pain would have been healed and his kingdom would not have suffered so intensely.  Still, even in the present day, we often choose to do nothing, rather than take the tough stand and make the unpopular decision to do what is right. It is that behavior that has allowed crime to soar, suicide to skyrocket and evil to reign in the world. 
 
God’s people need to hit their knees and pray–then, we need to take a stand and call evil–EVIL. Not a bad choice, not a poor decision–EVIL. We need to train our kids and ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and our actions.  Help me Lord to do that very thing!
 
God Bless You

In the course of time, Amnon the son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom the son of David.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it.Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

2 Samuel 12 Part 2–God Does Not Change His Mind!

David’s sin was great. He stole a man’s wife and then had the man killed. In the midst of that sin, however, David repented and accepted God’s judgment. He made no excuse, nor did he try to lie or blame others. He simply repented. So when God told him that the son that Bathsheba delivered would die, David was heartbroken. He fasted and did everything in “His” power to try to cause God to change his mind.  But, after a week the child died. David got up and carried on.  Then David and Bathsheba had a second child–God Loved the child and named him Jedidiah.  We all know him as Solomon!
 
Sin has a price.  When we fail, God will forgive us and we can start again, but, we have to know that God will not take away the ramifications of our sin. It is comforting, however, to know that even in the midst of that, God does love us and will often restore us after our failure.  We must never expect God to ignore our sin, but, we also can never underestimate the power of God’s grace and mercy. On this resurrection weekend, God’s chosen can cling to the hope of the salvation that we receive. The salvation that came at a great price. One that God paid with His own blood and tears! Make no mistake, God does not change His mind. We can be forever grateful that He did not! Happy Easter.
 
God Bless You!

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

Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the Lord, the son born to you will die.”

15 After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[b] on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.

18 On the seventh day, the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”

19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request, they served him food, and he ate.

21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”

22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 10–Practicing Diplomacy

As any good king would, David sent emissaries to the new Ammonite king to express his condolences for the loss of the king’s father.  The youthful king listened to his military chiefs that convinced the new king that David was spying and that the emissaries were coming for preparation to attack.  The king humiliated David’s emissaries and sent them back in complete shame.  That was a big mistake.  

After the humiliation, rather than admit he was wrong, the new king hired mercenaries to take on Israel.  So David sent his entire army and with God’s leading destroyed the armies and ended any thought of coming against Israel again. three more nations were now subject to Israel.  What an odd way for diplomacy to impact the kingdom.

Once again, God did amazing things with unfortunate circumstances.  David had a great heart. He sent his men in good faith. But, when the enemy turned a kind gesture into a war, God responded in the way a Father cares for his children. David’s men recovered and David’s kingdom was avenged and strengthened.  

In our lives, like David’s, we must live in a way that reveals God in our lives. Kindness, generosity, and empathy should be part of our humble focus on God. When, however, the world responds selfishly, we must not be surprised nor unprepared.  We live lives seeking God and allow him to lead us through the series of unfortunate circumstances. knowing that the Lord is still large and in charge. We can never give up, lose hope or become like the world. Instead, we live focused upon God and his leadership and trust God will make things right.  It worked for David and it will work for us!

God Bless You

In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”

When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.

Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites.11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”