The Lord Has Told Him to Curse????

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 16, Ezekiel 23, Psalm 70-71, 2 Corinthians 9.

10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 2 Samuel 16:10-12

Are you kidding me?images

Seriously?

What the what?

If I was king, anointed by the Lord Himself, who just happened to be on the run from my son who was wanting me dead in order to establish himself as king, and some peon came up and started cursing me – do you know what I would do?

Or, at the very least, do you know what I would be thinking?

My first thought (okay, my second thought after I thought about punching the guy cursing me in the face), “Well, that’s the devil. That’s the enemy wanting to distract me, trying to take me down.”

Wouldn’t you?

Someone comes up to you and just starts cursing you left and right while you were trying to mind your own business – what would you think? “That’s the devil.”

And, it may very well be.

But this text is a reminder for us not to give the devil too much, or at least not all, the credit.

It might be the Lord.

No, no – not the Lord cursing you. But the Lord who sent the guy who is cursing you.

You read that right.

It might just be the Lord who sent the one who is letting you have it up one side and down the other.

Read 2 Samuel 16:10-12 again. Notice how David interpreted the “cursing fit.”

David thought it might be the Lord who sent the foul mouthed dude.

David knew he had done wrong (remember the whole Bathsheba and Uriah deal?).

David also knew his son was trying to kill him.

His interpretation of the guy who needed his mouth cleaned out with soap? The Lord sent him.

But notice something VERY, VERY carefully: David also assumed that if it was the Lord who sent the cursing crusader then the Lord would turn it around for David’s good. “It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today” (v. 12).

Here’s the point: David is trusting in God’s glorious Providence. David knew that – due to his actions – he deserved to be verbally abused. Heck, he deserved a lot worse than that. He takes it on the chin. But he doesn’t leave it there. He knows that – for those who love God, regardless of their sinful past – He works all things together for their good.

The Lord isn’t happy when we delight in the downfall of our enemies (see Proverbs 24:17-18; and also notes in the ESV Study Bible).

But He likewise isn’t happy when His children are cursed.

In the one instance, the Lord turns His anger away from our enemy.

In the other, as David was hoping, He puts the wrath away from the cursed, puts it on the rude one,  and treats the mistreated with kindness.

As a matter of fact, it’s a lot like the thinking behind the guy who wrote Psalm 70:20-21.

Be careful who you blame. It may be the Lord. And it may be that the Lord is merely setting you up to be blessed with His goodness.

 

Which Of These Does Not Belong?

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Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 15, Ezekiel 22, Psalm 69, 2 Corinthians 8.

“2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.” 2 Corinthians 8:2-4

Let me list out the actions of these Macedonian believers according to Paul from these verses. You tell me which of these do not belong:

1. Severe test of affliction.

2. Abundance of joy.

3. Extreme poverty.

4. Wealth of generosity.

5. Gave beyond their means.

6. Begged to give more money. 

Is this not the most bizarre list of circumstances and actions you have ever read? I feel like I am in the 5th grade, taking a standardized test, and having to decide which one doesn’t fit with the group!

Apparently these believers were dirt poor (extreme poverty . . . not just poverty, mind you, “extreme” poverty). Likewise, they were being persecuted for their faith (severe test of affliction . . . not just a test, mind you, “severe” test). Yet – inconceivably – sandwiched between these to realities Paul says they have abundant joy (not just joy, mind you, “abundant” joy).

What do you do when you are joyfully being beat up and have barely enough money to survive? You give away what you have so that more people can have this joy.

Paul says these circumstances overflowed in a wealth of generosity. They gave beyond their means (side note: most North American Christians I know spend beyond their means . . . but it’s not on Gospel advance – it’s on a new car . . . end side note). Paul apparently had to step in and tell them to STOP GIVING (why else would they have been begging him to let them give more?). Have you ever heard a preacher tell a congregation to stop giving so much?!?!?! Me either.

These people were weird.

Or, is it that I am the weird one?

Let me think of my life and put together a list like the one above:

1. Hardly any persecution at all. 

2. Sporadic joy. 

3. Very wealthy (especially compared to the majority of the world). 

4. Modest generosity (at best!). 

5. Give within my means.

6. Never been criticized for begging to give more. 

Wow. That hurts. But that’s reality for me most days. What about you?

Perhaps these Macedonians knew something I need to know – or at least be reminded of. . .

The kind of person who joyfully begs to give all they have for the sake of Gospel advance is someone who obviously is getting their joy and satisfaction and life and status and value in something other than their “stuff.” Obviously, they don’t need stuff for their joy. Perhaps they had even tried that route and determined it couldn’t bring lasting joy anyway.

Perhaps there is a very revealing reality here: They – though they had nothing – were full of abundant joy. It’s almost as if they were scared of more stuff because they knew it would rob them of true joy.

At some point in their lives, they placed their trust in a Jesus who – though He had everything – left heaven and gave all so that they could have life (see 2 Corinthians 8:9). They ultimately gave themselves to God by faith in this Jesus – and were never the same again (see 2 Corinthians 8:5).

What about you?

How’s your joy? Is it abundant? Where are you getting your hope from? Where you are putting your trust? What are you looking to do for you that, ultimately, only God can do?

Let’s learn from these dirt poor persecuted believers. We tend to run from this sort of lifestyle (at least, I do). But they are the happy ones.

The list may not belong in North American Christianity. But it sure does make sense biblically.

 

Two Great Questions

This month at FBC El Dorado, we are offering a class for new members and/or guests called “ACQUAINT.” The purpose is, you guessed it, ACQUAINT new members and guests to our church.

The second class focuses on Southern Baptist distinctives. It is one of my favorite classes to teach – and the class this past Sunday was no exception!

Our discussion proved very lively, entertaining, and (I hope!) helpful.

Below is a section of an email I sent to all the class members this morning. The content of the email will clue you in on the subject matter. I include it here on the blog simply because I don’t believe those in the class are the only ones who have these same type of questions.

One has to do with “once saved always saved” & the other with baptism. Perhaps this will help you some. Or, perhaps you can pass this on to someone you know who might be wrestling with these same things.

Here you go!

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Good Monday Morning Everyone!!!
Man, oh man, did we have a great class yesterday! Wow. The discussion and questions you all asked were tremendous. THANK YOU for your participation and your willingness to talk.
For those of you who had to be out yesterday – just know that we got through about half of the Baptist Faith and Message. We had to stop the discussion around 9:55 am, where I promised to pick it up next week.
I still plan to finish up the high points of the Baptist Faith and Message this coming Sunday. However, I wanted to go ahead and send a brief response to the question we left on the table yesterday as well as a reference to something I was bit fuzzy on in response to another question. I want to do this to go ahead and answer your questions, AND to save us some time for this upcoming Sunday morning.
HOPEFULLY – this will make sense!
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First, when class dismissed yesterday, the discussion was on the topic of “once saved, always saved;” or “once really saved, always saved;” or the “Perseverance of the Saints” as it is often called. The question was asked, “What about what the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 6:4-6????
Great question! Of course, Southern Baptists (myself included!) believe strongly that once someone is a genuine follower of Jesus, he/she will always be a born again believer in Jesus. However, verses 4-6 of Hebrews 6 seem to say otherwise.
Consider these verses: “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
 
Whoah. See what I mean?? What do we do with THAT??
 
There are 3 Possible Ways to interpret this:
#1. The writer means that genuinely saved persons can lose their salvation (note: if this is true, then it is impossible to be saved again, or to be “resaved”).
OR 
#2. The persons in view here were never actually saved (note: if this is true, how can someone actually “share in the Holy Spirit,” yet be lost?).
OR 
#3. The persons in these verses are actually and permanently saved (their salvation is real), yet the “falling away” is a hypothetical situation. 
 
The first one (#1) cannot work due to the countless Scriptures that point to the assurance of salvation for the believer (John 10:27-30; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Romans 8:31-39; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12). The second option (#2) cannot work due to the fact that if one shares in the ministry of the Holy Spirit – then he/she MUST be a born again believer. 
This means it has be number three (#3). As with ALL Scriptures, context is critical. For brevity sake, consider what the author of Hebrews says to these people in verse 9 of this same chapter: “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things – things that belong to salvation.” Here is our answer. The author is speaking to the same people in verse 9 AND verses 4-6. That being the case, he (the author) is letting us know that he is speaking in a particular way – hypothetically. He says, “Though we speak in this way. . . ” In other words, he was speaking to them in a way other than “normal.” Verses 4-6 are a warning of sorts to follow Jesus. It’s as if he is saying, “You can’t fall away . . . but if you could, just think of how awful it would be!” Left to themselves, the readers could most definitely fall away. However, they will not be left to themselves. God will keep them!
If that’s not enough evidence, consider what he goes on to tell them in verses 10-11: “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.” The author of Hebrews is acknowledging the work of God in their lives in the past AND looking to the future of their “full assurance.” 
When he says what he says in verses 4-6, it is a hypothetical situation for his readers. 
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Second, the issue of whether or not baptism completes salvation came up in class yesterday. To put it another way, the question “Does baptism help save you, or is it ‘just’ an act of obedience after salvation?” Of course, Southern Baptists (again, myself included!) believe that baptism (by immersion!) is a symbol and an act of obedience, where a believer identifies with Jesus and the family of God after salvation. Southern Baptists, in other words, do not believe baptism must be practiced in order to complete salvation. Jesus is the Author AND Finisher of our salvation!
In this discussion, a question of something Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3 was asked. In John 3:5, Jesus said this to Nicodemus – “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The question was, “If baptism doesn’t save you, what is meant by ‘water’ in this passage?” Again, this was yet another GREAT question! And again, context is critical. In the context of this passage, Jesus is not talking about baptism by immersion, but being “born again,” or, being saved, or becoming a Christian. Likewise, most biblical scholars agree that Jesus’ language here is pointing back to an Old Testament prophecy made about salvation. Yesterday in class I wasn’t sure of the exact passage, but it is found in Ezekiel 36:25-27. It is clear in this passage, when God refers to water – it is a physical image to communicate a spiritual reality.
So, when Jesus mentions water in John 3 – the context and the reference back to Ezekiel both point to a spiritual reality of someone being “made new” or “born again” into the kingdom of God.

Why God Acts

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 13, Ezekiel 20, Psalm 66-67, 2 Corinthians 6.

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Why does God do everything He does?

Why does God act?

Why does God bless His people?

Why does He rebuke His people?

Why does God work?

Today’s reading makes it crystal clear: for His name to be known among all nations.

Ezekiel 20:9 – “But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.”

Ezekiel 20:14 – “But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.”

Ezekiel 20:22 – “But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.”

Ezekiel 20:26 – “I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.”

Ezekiel 20:41 – “And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.”

Psalm 66:4 – “All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.”

Psalm 67:1-4a – “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!”

2 Corinthians 6:2-4 – Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way.”

God does what He does so that all the world might know that He exists, He loves them, He has sent His Son to atone for their sins, and a way has been made for them to be right with and worship Him.

God does what He does so that the world might worship Him.

Why would the world want to worship Him?

Because He alone is worth worshipping.

Consider what Tamar said to her brother Amnon just before he raped her: “As for me, where could I carry my shame?” (2 Samuel 13:13)

Why would we or the rest of the world want to worship God? Because we all are filled with shame and there is only one place to go with it. God loves you and God loves me and God loves Tamar and God loves the world so much that He has provided a place for us to take our shame. In fact, in it’s not a place at all. It’s a Person.

Jesus bore our sins (shame!) in His body on a tree.

The shame we are filled with has been atoned for by Jesus. God has done it. God has demonstrated His love for the world by – even when we were full of shame – sending Jesus to be punished so we wouldn’t have to be.

The world must know this.

It’s why God acts.

When they know, He will be worshipped.

This. Cannot. Fail.

Hard Chapter, Great Truths

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Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 12, Ezekiel 19, Psalm 64-65, 2 Corinthians 5.

2 Samuel 12 is an interesting, and – to be honest – somewhat depressing chapter. Yet – thankfully – it sheds light on some extremely significant lessons and truths for us.

#1. We Need Honest Truth Tellers In Our Lives

Nathan went to David to confront his sin(s). God sent him. David had areas of his life that were being left alone. David had issues that had to be dealt with. Apparently, David was blind to the reality of needing to deal with them.

WE ALL NEED NATHAN’S IN OUR LIVES!!!

Someone who will be real with us. Someone who will point out our blind spots. Someone who will call us on a sin we are committing/have committed. Someone who will love us enough to tell us the truth. Someone whom we believe God has put into our lives to make us better. Pray for God to send a Nathan to you – not to condemn you – but to lovingly rebuke you, pushing you to be more like Jesus.

 

#2. When Guilty – Don’t Blame, Admit Shame.

I love how David responds to Nathan’s rebuke. He doesn’t blame his hormones. He doesn’t blame the fact that he was lonely one night. He doesn’t use the excuse that no one understands what it’s like being king. He doesn’t blame Uriah for not “cooperating.” He doesn’t blame God for “making him this way.”

Nope.

David responds with admission: “I have sinned against the Lord” (v. 13). That’s it. He expounds on it more here. David knew he had done wrong. He “manned” up to it. He didn’t try to shift blame. He, rather, admitted his shame. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Especially when everyone around us seems to be weaseling their way out of situations. We are sinners who sin and mess up. Period. 

Besides, had David NOT owned up to his shame, he wouldn’t have heard Nathan say these gloriously redemptive words: “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (v. 13). What??? Are you kidding!?!?!?!?! Had David not owned up to his sin, he would have never enjoyed free grace and forgiveness from God. This is why it is so critical. Not only is it truth-telling (owning up to our sins); but it is also grace unleashing and Jesus exalting. When we admit we have blown it, we have to look to someone outside of us to make us right. That has happened in Jesus.

 

#3. Babies Go To Heaven When they Die.

As a pastor, I often am asked where babies go when they die. It’s a valid question. Some die in the womb. Some die due to force from an outside source. Some die in infancy. It’s something none of us want to think about, yet all of us have wondered. The Bible doesn’t say much about this, but here is what I know:

a. We live in a fallen world – due to sin entering the world, tragedies like babies dying happen.

b. All humans are made in the image of God. God creates every human and He does so with great precision, care, and love.

c. 2 Samuel 12 sheds a bit of light on what happens to babies who die.

When David learned of his child’s death, he made a very telling statement: “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (v. 23). In other words, though David knew he couldn’t get his child back on this earth, he believed he would go to be with his child one day. David believed his child was in heaven. If it’s good enough for David, and if we don’t see a rebuke of this thinking – it’s good enough for me.

 

 

Outwitted and Ignorant

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 8, Ezekiel 17, 2 Corinthians 2, Psalm 57.

Unforgiveness is like a drug that you must have more and more of.

It’s like a cancer that spreads throughout the body. images

It’s like a stimulant you crave.

Unforgiveness is one of the most deceptive tools Satan uses to destroy.

If not detected and dealt with immediately, the enemy will trick you into turmoil.

Consider what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:

“So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (vs. 8-11, emphasis added)

Paul writes to guarantee the Corinthians’ obedience. In fact, he wants them obedient in everything.

Everything includes forgiveness.

Obedience doesn’t just mean don’t lie, steal, cheat, or cuss. Obedience isn’t just about abstaining from immoral sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

Obedience is about forgiving those who have hurt us.

Obedience includes applying the Gospel to others the way it has been applied to you in Jesus.

The enemy loves to trick us into thinking it’s not that big of deal, when, before we know it – we are gossiping, planning revenge, slandering, and hoping the worst for someone.

In fact, Satan would like nothing more than for you to put your head on your pillow tonight proud of all the “bad things” you haven’t done while making a list of all the “good things” you have done . . . just as long as you don’t see your bitterness and unforgiving spirit as “that big of deal.” Or, even worse – if you see your unforgiving spirit as something as justified because “you didn’t do anything wrong.”

Don’t be ignorant of his designs.

Who and what do you need to forgive? Like, now?

How will you be set free if you do? How will you continue to be chained, tricked, or outwitted if you don’t?

 

 

Yes.

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 6-7, Ezekiel 15-16, 2 Corinthians 1, Psalm 56

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Every promise of God has been, are being, and will be fulfilled. Guaranteed. There is no doubt about it. Period.

All of His promises find their answer in Jesus.

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God could (and still can!) make unbelievably remarkable and breathtaking promises because of Jesus. God’s promises cause our jaws to drop and our minds to go into shock. But they are promises that cannot nor will not be broken. They find their YES in Jesus.

YESSIR . . . they do.

Consider these promises, just from today’s reading. . .

“‘When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. . . but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 2 Samuel 7:12-13, 15-16

God promised to establish David’s throne . . . forever.

One would come from the line of David and His kingdom would be . . . forever.

This makes no sense . . . apart from Jesus. He is King forever.

“I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.” Ezekiel 16:62-63

Ezekiel 16 is a very difficult chapter. There’s some scary stuff up in there. God’s people had been bad. . . Very bad. Yet, astonishingly, the chapter closes with hope. Though they have been and acted with horrific shame, God promises to keep His end of the deal.

How?

How can God say – in the same sentence, mind you – “never open your mouth again because of your shame” and “when I atone for you all that you have done”?

How can that be? Can God do that? In one breath declare how evil they have been against Him and in another say He would atone for them? Does God brush their sin under the rug in the hopes that it just goes away? How can He get away with this?

He gets away with it because the punishment due His people for their evil would be paid for . . . by His Son, Jesus.

All of God’s promises find their YES in Him.

Or, what about Psalm 56:8? You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

Here we have a promise that God knows every time we toss on our beds in stress. He knows every tear we shed. He even has a bottle of our tears with our names on them. He keeps record of all of our struggles and pain. He cares so deeply and intimately about each one of us.

How can we know this for sure? How can we know that God does, indeed, love us like this?

All of His promises find their YES in Jesus.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 5:8, 8:32

God’s love for us is demonstrated and expressed through the killing of His own Son on our behalf.

Yes. Yes it is.

 

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