2 Samuel 11:1-18, Ephesians 3:14-21 and John 6:1-21
The Lectionary gives scripture to work with each Sunday. We should have reason to rejoice and smile when we read in John and Ephesians about hope, miracle food for body and soul, the power of God in us and over the threats which come at us, and finally being the beloved people of God. Those are great.
But the Samuel text is in glaring contrast since it’s about the sordid matters of adultery and murder committed by a “man of God.” It doesn’t take long to see we are caught between Sin and Salvation! I suppose that’s a big part of actually showing up for worship together and hearing all this together! We need reminding of our weakness and God’s power and knowing we all are in this together! And maybe we can help each other through the good and the bad times because we can be honest with other just as the Scriptures are honest with us!
King David gets it, but sadly after the fact of his horrid behavior. Still better to “get it” than to never pay attention at all.
Brace yourself for the contrast this Sunday! But, I still believe that before the hour (or so) is over…. Good News will win out!
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. – Luke 22:42-3
Have you ever heard someone say, “If you had your act together, you wouldn’t be struggling with knowing or following God’s will.” Don’t believe it! It’s a common, mistaken belief, and Jesus’ own actions teach that this isn’t so.
Jesus’ final moments before his crucifixion were spent in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he prayed three times. Each prayer was a step in letting go of things that would hold him back so that he could take hold of God’s will. The first prayer was an outburst of grief. Jesus shuddered at the chill of death’s dark shadow. Prayer seemed his only refuge.
The second prayer was one of release. Jesus was faced with two choices: If he saved his life, he would lose us. But if he lost his life, he would save us. Christ desired to do the will of his Father, and so he accepted his calling to die for us.
The third prayer strengthened his resolve. It was like the tempering of steel, in which the refined metal is reheated a second time to increase its strength. As a soldier readies himself for battle or a patient prepares himself for a difficult surgery, so Jesus gathered strength from his Father for the task and left all his anxiety with him.
If Jesus can struggle, then I guess it’s o.k. if I do, too.
Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan. – John Bunyan
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1
Our culture has become enamored with instant results and quick fixes. E-mail, on-line banking, fast food, instant mashed potatoes, hair implants, liposuction, and countless options like them have eroded our capacity for patience and perseverance. So when it comes to spiritual growth, we tend to expect instant transforma¬tion rather than viewing our growth in Christ as a long-term—and potentially costly—endeavor.
Yet I’ve learned an important truth that’s been verified time and again by the testimony of Scripture: It’s not how you start that’s important; it’s how you finish.
Finishing well in the Christian life requires purposeful planning and a clear view of reality on your part. It won’t happen by accident. On the other hand, expecting instant results and quick fixes will result in disappointment, and ultimately, discouragement.
The world is moving so fast these days that a man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. – Harry Emerson Fosdick
2 Samuel 7:1-14, Ephesians 2:11-22 and Mark 6:30-34.
The passages in Samuel and Ephesians touch upon the images of “temple, house of God, buildings, foundations, and where God dwells.” Mark is about the ongoing picture of Jesus with his band of disciples on the move. Not much about where they would stay or rest or abide although the need for such is apparent! They are a “house on the move.”
The overarching question is “where does God dwell?!” David said that he himself as King had a good cedar house to live in but God only had a tent(!). David sets out to build a Temple for God. By the time we arrive in Ephesians, God clearly has a “different building to live in!”
God as Spirit is everywhere we affirm but there is just something about the human creature that is made for God to inhabit! Jesus and the church of Jesus fit the bill perfectly.
We will go exploring what the scriptures say about this Presence of God in us. We may take a side trip “up” into God’s universe since Friday July 20 is the anniversary of the moon landing and moon walk in 1969! 49 years ago! And we might go more family oriented as a special place for God since this Sunday is also recognized as Parents’ Day!
Before we are all said and done, God is going to be shown to be with us….wherever we are, wherever the Creation exists!
Be ready to set up a house and a home!
See you in “a” house of the Lord on Sunday!
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. – 1 Corinthians 13:11
When was the last time you tried to break a habit, an old idea, a negative behavior pattern, or an unhealthy emotional recording from the past? It’s not easy! Even though you know you need to, even though you know it would be a good thing to do and will result in a healthier or happier state, it’s just a pain. And you’d rather live in the comfort of your misery, or so you think.
We often react like two year-olds whose parents are taking the bottle away. Tantrums, meltdowns, and tears always seem to be a part of the process.
What are you holding on to? What from the past are you hanging on to that you need to let go of? You know the things that tear you down and keep you from emotional health, but you just hang on to.
How many times has God given you the opportunity to give those things up because they keep you isolated and stuck, even poisoning your spirits? But it means letting go. There’s that “S” word again . . . surrender.
It takes a willing spirit. But you can walk in the victory that the Lord has already given you, if you choose it. Choose it today!
Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ. – A.W. Tozer
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19, Acts 13:16-23 and Mark 6:14-29
The preacher’s temptation is to take the easy way out and go on about the pros and cons of dancing. Perhaps we will touch on that since these dances in scripture are so vivid and have painful consequences.
The better choice is to see what is being said about kingly power, presence, and leadership. Both David and Herod are leaders in troubled times. Both have opportunities to set examples for their people and both succeed and both fail, miserably at times.
What our scriptures, especially the Acts text, want us to see and hear and point toward is that “Great David’s Greater Son” is the Final and Fully Righteous Victorious King! And works in kingly ways decidedly unlike David or Herod or Caesar for that matter!
Leadership is not for everyone, or certainly not leadership on the grand scale of a nation…..or that of the entire Universe! But this is the bold claim we offer in worship and in our daily walk with the Lord. We follow a different kind of King than ones we usually elect or those who force their way to power over others.
This truly sets us apart and asks us to consider ALL leadership in light of Jesus Christ. We always have to settle for imperfect leaders in the world but we have an ultimate standard by which we can watch and discern leadership and make judgments about following or not following earthly leaders where they lead us.
So in worship we proclaim who is our King and King for all! Citizens of a heavenly King take that kind of citizenship with them through the rest of their week!
Blessed be Great David’s Greater Son!
On toward Sunday and the Kingdom!
I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. – Job 42:2, 3, 5
Here’s a paradox for you. Those of you with a healthy sense of self are in the best position to exercise true humility. Why? Because the person with a healthy sense of self has nothing to prove. No agenda to push. No ego to shield. And no need to fret over what others think of you. When you encounter a problem that exceeds your knowledge, you admit without pretense that you don’t know the answer.
Sometimes we Christians can really fool ourselves. We think that since God is all knowledgeable and wise, and since we have His Holy Spirit within us, we should be able to dispense pearls of wisdom like spiritual gumballs. The truth is, the more we come to know God, the more we realize what we don’t know. And that’s O.K.!
The more we experience God’s grandeur and the more we understand our dignity as his sons and daughters, the lower we’ll bow before His throne—with nothing to prove and everything to gain.
My dad used to say, You wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you if you knew how seldom they did. – Phillip McGraw
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21
In his classic novel, The Screw tape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes of the subtle way that prosperity knits a person’s heart to the world. Growing reputations, widening circles of acquaintances, a per¬ceived sense of importance, and the increasing pressure of absorb¬ing and agreeable work, argues Lewis, builds up in a person a sense of really being at home on earth. But while people are finding their place in the world, Lewis concludes that the world is finding its place in them.
The truth is each of us longs for a sense of belonging. It’s the way we’re designed, and it’s a good thing. But what the world has to offer is incapable of producing what we too often seek to find in it, so it can’t help but leave us disappointed.
Don’t become a collector of empty treasures in your search to find belonging. Possessing things that belong to you is no substitute for choosing to belong to God, and possessing eternal security in Christ.
No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him. – Seneca the Younger
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. – Matthew 7:9-11
Are you reluctant to ask for help? You’re definitely not alone. Too many of us are unwilling to admit we need help. We think it’s a sign of weakness. But it’s really a sign of pride and self-sufficiency, both which go against the grain of a healthy dependence upon God and the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives.
God wants to give you good things. He’s hoping you’ll humbly admit that you have needs. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Remember, God made us to relate to one another, to love one another. We weren’t made to live life alone. If you’re “the strong” one that is always lending a hand and seeing to it that others are taken care of, it’s hard for you to let someone know you need help, but it’s important that you do. We need more two way streets in our Christian community.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this, be smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.
Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful. – Ric Ocasek
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 and Mark 6:1-13.
We will see David off to a great start as King! Verse 9 declared that “he became more and more powerful.” In contrast, Jesus gets off to a very rough beginning in ministry in his hometown! “They rejected him,” and he can do only a few healings. By the time we are reading about Paul in 2 Corinthians, we see that the greatest of Apostles cannot be rid of “a thorn in the flesh.” And he speaks of being “strongest when he is weak.” Such wide ranging expressions of living the faith give us pause! “Did I read that correctly?” “What about MY thorn in the flesh?”
It’s a good thing to be together in worship so we can be reminded, as we look around the pews, that most everyone has had moments of power like King David and moments that just seem like unrelenting “thorns” stuck in either the body, the mind, or the spirit!
Worship doesn’t always give us power or explanations for pain, but surely points us toward the Person who can and will provide both of those needs! Jesus had an unbelieving hometown turn away from him but by the end of the Mark passage his disciples ARE doing the ministry of preaching and healing!
So, the final word for us, in spite of the “thorns” and “weakness” is that we can expect (fully hope) to make it through and in doing so….we do the work of God. What a King, an Apostle, and Disciples of the Master actually do when “all is said and done!”
All good reasons to worship and be together this Sunday! See you soon! Blessings!