“Crossroads”

All of us experience “crossroads” in life. We are confronted with choices, situations, and circumstances that will force us to make a choice. Often this choice will be whether or not we will trust God and his promises even when things seem beyond hope.

Ahaz, the king of Judah, had such a crossroad. Assyria was becoming the dominant power in the land, and all other nations were fearful of being conquered. It seems that Ahaz had established or was considering building a pact with Assyria to protect them. This possibility made the kings of Israel and Syria decide to attack Judah to force them to join them in fighting against Assyria.

As Ahaz heard of the approach of these armies, notice what it says in Isaiah 7:2,

“The heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”

I can’t imagine the fear that he must have experienced and how tempted he must have been to approach Assyria for help. So what was his crossroad? His dilemma was, would he choose to trust in God for protection or Assyria when things looked about as bad as it could get?

God makes his expectations clear to Ahaz when the prophet Isaiah says,

“If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)

I can get discouraged in life as I am sure you can. I see here a timeless principle for the disciple of Jesus. I must stand firm in my faith in God and his promises regardless of what my circumstances might tell me.

Father, thank you for the lesson found in this story. I am sorry that I doubt you, your promises and your love for me at times. Help me to remember this timeless principle of my responsibility to stand firm in my faith. If I don’t choose to remain steadfast in my faith in you, I won’t make it.

Following Jesus with you,

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Are You Helping Or Hurting?

Peter makes an interesting statement in 2 Pet. 3:11-12. He says,

“What sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”

In the context Peter is letting the readers know about the inevitable end of all creation when God makes a new heaven and earth and that God is waiting to return until all who will, repent. Given the certainty of the end, Peter asks, What kind of people should we be? In other words, how should we live now knowing the inevitable future of creation and knowing that God has delayed his return to allow as many to repent as possible?

The first thing he says is that as we are holy and godly, we should “wait.” The sense of the word “wait” is “designating the eager expectation believers should have for the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of God’s future promises” (Wuest). The readers should not have a nonchalant attitude about the impending end of creation as we know it. Instead, they should have an eager anticipation of God’s Triumphant Return! Am I eagerly looking forward to the Lord’s Return?

The second thing mentioned is that we should “hasten” the coming day of God. The implication is that when we live with a repentant heart (3:8) and help others do the same, we will contribute to speed up the day of God.

This in no way implies that we can twist God’s arm to do what we want, but that from our perspective, we can hasten the Lord’s return when we live the way he desires. As Gangel states,

How do believers hasten it? The godly lives of the Lord’s people, their praying, and their witnessing help bring others to repentance.”

Constable says it this way,

Believers affect God’s timetable by our witnessing and our praying as we bring people to Christ (cf. Josh. 10:12–14; 1 Kings 20:1–6; et al.).”

This realization makes me ask, “Am I living in holiness and godliness so that I can assist with hastening the day of God by helping others be restored to a relationship with God through repentance? This is a call to me to live in light of the certainty of the end knowing that my faithfulness is helping to bring God’s Kingdom more quickly.

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you that we know of the end of the story as we live our lives now. Help me to anticipate your Kingdom eagerly and live a life that contributes to hasten the coming of your Reign.

Following Jesus with you,

Amazing Grace

The very well known story of David’s sin with Bathsheba is found in 2 Sam. 12. Frankly, it is surprising that this account is recorded in scripture! God’s chosen king sins and experiences strong discipline for it.

Why was this event included in the Bible? There may be many reasons for this, but one certainly is to show the character of David. Even though he had committed atrocious sin, when he was confronted by Nathan the prophet, he did not debate or dodge the accusations. Instead, he confessed. Psalm 51 which was written at this time shows us that David was in great distress over his sin and would welcome a way to be restored to fellowship with God.

The second question that flows from this story is why David is forgiven, and his child still dies? I think Bill Arnold answers this question well by clarifying the difference between forgiveness and consequences when he says,

“The child’s death is a result of David’s sin, but this is not the same as punishment. It is a fundamental principle of life that God may forgive and cleanse us of all wrongdoing, but the consequences of our sin may, and in fact often, remain. The innocent suffer for crimes committed by someone else, but such suffering is not punishment for those crimes. A crack baby may die soon after birth because the mother used crack during pregnancy. The child dies; the mother lives. The child’s death is not the punishment but the consequences of the mother’s sin.”

Our sins can have implications for others. Often sin is not just between God and me as the Evil One wants us to think. Therefore, I must remember that how I live can impact others for good and for ill.

The third thing that stood out to me on this reading of the story is what is said in 2 Sam. 12:24-25,

“Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went into her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.”

David had addressed his sin and experienced God’s forgiveness and cleansing.  In that restored state of fellowship with God, he sought to comfort Bathsheba as God had comforted him.  That again is a great picture of David’s character.  I doubt his motive was to have another child.  He wanted to care for Bathsheba, and she became pregnant with Solomon.

What do we learn about God through him allowing David to not only have a son through Bathsheba but that the son is Solomon? Solomon turned out to be the heir who would eventually become king in the place of David and through whom the Messiah would come! Answer: the God we serve is a gracious God!  David did not deserve such blessing from God, but God, being gracious continued the line of the Messiah through Bathsheba.

Father, I thank you that you love me as a father loves his son. Thank you for your patience with me and my imperfections. Thank you for your commitment to me and your endless grace that I experience moment by moment now and will continue for eternity. Help me to live with you being my primary allegiance!

Following Jesus with you,

A Yielded Life

The more I read about David, the more impressed I am with him as a man after God’s own heart. After David hears of Saul’s death and mourns for him and Jonathan, he does the following:

“After this David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go up.’ David said, ‘To which shall I go up?’ And he said, ‘To Hebron.’ So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.” (2 Sam. 1-4)

Does anything impress you about David when you read that account? What impresses me is that he did not assume he was now king and should be crowned as such. He inquired of the Lord! He even asked, “where should I go?”

If I were David, I would have put the cart before the horse again and assume that I was supposed to be king because Saul is finally out of the way. It would have been easy to go directly to Gibeah, where Saul’s palace was and begin making plans for my right to rule!

Instead, David seeks the Lord, his will, and his direction. How many times have I assumed what God wanted for me because the circumstances were right and then acted without his counsel? David again models humility, a yielded life and a heart for God and his purposes.

Father, David is a man that lived a very impressive life in submission to your leadership. There were so many opportunities for him to force his will and timing in becoming king rather than waiting for you to work out the details when you thought it best! Help me to live a yielded life to your leadership and not live with my own agenda but seek yours for my life.

Following Jesus with you,