Beware the Crowd

Do you ever watch things that make you scratch your head?  A couple of weeks ago I saw some of the footage from the riots that ripped through Vancouver after the Stanley Cup. Bizarre, what were they thinking?  Apparently they weren’t.  I mean really, what would cause rational human beings to react that way?  And then I watched the W-5 episode on the police response to the protesters in Toronto last June during the G8. Bizarre, what were they thinking?  Apparently they weren’t.  I mean really, what would cause rational human beings to react that way?  In both instances you had people as a group doing things that they would never do as individuals. Stand any one of those Vancouver rioters next to a Starbucks by themselves and they would never consider throwing a rock through the window. 
Stand a Toronto Policeman next to a protester, and they wouldn’t knock them to the ground and hit them with a stick.  It’s called mob mentality when you let the group take responsibility for your actions.
I guess Mom was right when she asked, “And if all of your friends were jumping off a bridge….?” 
And that’s why our relationship with God needs to be ours and not just the group’s. 
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Every Story Has a Beginning

Every Story has a beginning and this is it.  Earlier this year one of my Sunday messages was based in Hebrews 11 and as the scripture was being read I thought to myself, “wow, that was no ordinary family.”  And because I have a one track mind my next thought was “that would make a good sermon series.”  Which is a pretty good leap because although I knew there was a television show on ABC called “No ordinary Family” I had never actually seen it. 
Anyone here fans of the show?  Anyone here ever watched the show?  Which is probably why the show was cancelled the end of May at the end of the first season.  So much for being relevant, but the series had already been planned and the art work and media finished. 
So, the premise of the show is this, the Powells were in fact an ordinary family.  Jim, the dad was an artist for the police department of an unnamed Southern California city while his wife Stephanie was a scientist working on genetic research for a large company called Global Tech.  The Powells had two teen children who dealt with the same types of issues that teens everywhere deal with.  16 year old Daphne was trying to be more popular while her 14 year old brother JJ struggled with a bit of a learning disability. 
Just an ordinary family, up to the point that the family joined Stephanie on a research trip to Brazil where the small plane they were flying on crashed into river during a thunder storm.  You still with me?
The good news is that they survived the crash and returned home with a great story to tell.  And that’s where the story gets interesting and the Powells become “No ordinary family.”  Because of some mysterious element that was in the river in Brazil, presumably combined with the electrical charge in the air from the thunder storm the Powells are given super powers.  That never happens to me, I crash in a river I get wet, I get bit by a spider I end up with a spider bite.  Know what I mean?
So Jim ends up super strong.  Stephanie becomes incredibly fast with a super-fast metabolism .  Daphne gets the ability to read the minds of those around her while JJ becomes ubersmart.  And with those powers come opportunities and challenges.  I love this promo shot for the show, the tagline says  “New Powers!  Instructions not included”
So now that you are familiar with the TV show you are probably wondering “what does that have to do with Hebrews chapter 11?  And how are you going to stretch this thing out for the entire summer.  Glad you asked. 
Every story has a beginning and this is it.  Hebrews 11:1-2 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.   This is the introduction to the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews.  And for the next 39 verses the writer tells us about these people of old and how they earned their good reputation, he tells us about Enok, Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Abel and a host of others too numerous to name and when he get’s through regaling us with their stories he ties everything together by saying Hebrews 11:39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith . . .
I think it would be fair to say that the men and women that are written about in Hebrews Chapter 11 were “No Ordinary Family”
So the first thing we need to note is that They Were Family  In the case of our television heroes the premise is that there were indeed family.  Collins English Dictionary defines family a couple of different ways.  1)  A social unit consisting of parents and their children, the children of the same parents.  2) A group of people related by ancestry or marriage 3) All the people living in the same house.   And the Powells were a Mother, father and two children.  In this day of what does or doesn’t constitute a family the Powell’s are almost old fashion.  Two people married to each other and two children who share both parents.  And they have all the struggles of being a family in today’s world.  Too many things to do at times and not enough time to do it, the knowledge that somehow they need to connect but not sure how to make that connection happened.  The tension between work and family, between parents and children and between husband and wife. 
They are just a family, a group of people connected through their DNA. 
Our heroes in Hebrews 11 are also family, but they aren’t connected with DNA, or at least not physical DNA.  They are all part of God’s family, they weren’t just people, these were God’s people. 
But the question remains: How did they become God’s people?  Well the first thought might be that they were Israelites, God’s people chosen through the linage of Abraham.  You remember the promise that was reiterated to the people of Israel as they made their way to the Promised Land.   Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.
But that can’t be the correct answer because several of them lived long before the promise of a nation was given to Abraham as a matter of fact long before there was an Abraham.  And at least one of those named was a gentile woman whose people were at war with the people of Israel.
So how did these “People of Old” get to be a part of the family?  They chose to.  As simple as that.  They chose to follow God; they chose to obey God they chose to be a part of God’s family. 
From Abel who chose to offer a better gift to God to those who offered up their lives rather than betray God, it was all their choice.  If you were able to talk to each one of them I would suspect that they would each be able to pinpoint that time and place where they had to decide if they would follow God’s will or if they would follow their own will and desire.   That choice that is often right in front of each one of us.  I can choose to do what is easy or I can choose to do what is right. 
So where does that leave us?  In exactly the same place as Abel and Enok, as Moses and Rahab, as Abraham and Noah.  At the crossroads of decision.  Will we choose to be a part of God’s family or not.
The New Testament is clear , we are told in John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Paul tells the believers in the city of Ephesus Ephesians 2:19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
And if we missed it the first time it is repeated over and over again in the gospels and in the letters that make up the New Testament the family of God is made up of those who choose to join it.  But like any family it comes with expectations and guidelines.  And like belonging to any family there are responsibilities as well, we are reminded by John in 1 John 3:9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.
In each of our families there are rules and boundaries set down for the protection and benefit of the individuals but also for the protection and benefit of the family as a whole.  Christianity is no different.    You can’t claim to be a Christ follower and not follow Christ.
The second thing we need to understand is They Were Special  The Powells are a family but they are no ordinary family.  They are special because they can do things that other people can’t do and because of that there are expectations on the Powells that aren’t there for other families.
Really if everyone was super-strong, super-fast, super-smart or could read the minds of those around them the show would have had to have been called: “Just another ordinary family.”  But the premise is that the Powells are different, they are special not because of who they are but because of what they do. 
The people of old that are mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 are special as well.  They are indeed a part of God’s family, but not everyone in God’s family is like they are.  If everyone who ever chose to follow God exhibited this type of faith, trust and obedience then there wouldn’t have to be a Hebrews chapter 11 because this would be average, and ordinary.   What made them special?  Well that goes back to Hebrews 11:2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.  It wasn’t because of who they were but because of what they did.  There were millions of people who followed God during the time period represented here but these folks got special mention.  So what did they do?  It was because of their faith, but what does that mean, what is faith?  Well according to Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  
I personally prefer the wording in the NIV which says Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  So if they had faith and this defines faith then we would have to say these people had the confidence that what they hoped for would actually happen, and were certain about the things they couldn’t see.  Or like the little girl said “faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”  So, they believed that God would do what God said he would do.
The difference is that the Powells had to crash in a river during a thunder storm to become special whereas anyone who follows God has the opportunity to believe His promises.
And that is the same today as it was three thousand years ago when most of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 lived. 
Every Christ follower will make a decision, do they want to be an ordinary part of God’s family or an extraordinary part of God’s family.  And that decision will be one that will be made by faith.  Most Christ followers will choice to be average, after all that’s what average is.  But we don’t have to be average and if we understand the truth of John Maxell’s word that “Average is simply the worst of the best and the best of the worst.”  We won’t want to be average.   And we don’t want to be average in any other part of our lives but we are content to be average Christians.  But we don’t have to be.  But again the choice will be ours, will we believe?  Will we believe that God can do the impossible and not only that but can we believe that God can do the impossible with you? 
You can be special, but it won’t happen by accident like in a television show it will happen because you will decide that you want to be special because you want to make a difference
They Were Different  I love the bumper sticker that says “You are unique, just like everybody else.”   In “No Ordinary Family” the Powells are special because they all have special powers, but they don’t all have the same powers. 
Jim’s strong, Stephanie is fast, JJ is smart and Daphne can read other people’s minds, they are all special but they are special in their own unique ways.   They were all in the same airplane, theay all crashed into the same river they all got wet in the same water but it reacted with who they were to make them  what they became. 
Every person mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 is mentioned because of their faith, but in each case their faith was manifested in different ways.   In Abel’s instance it was because he chose to offer the very best of his flock to God.  In Noah’s case it was because he lived a righteous life in a society rife with unrighteousness,  Rahab chooses to do the right thing instead of the easy thing, Abraham chose to be obedient to God even when it didn’t make sense.   And over the next eight weeks we are going to look specifically at what they did, but understand that they were unique in what they did and how they did it.
Every person who chooses to follow Christ is a part of his family, and everyone who chooses to believe that God can do incredible things through them is a special part of that family but that doesn’t mean they are all going to do the same thing the same way. 
God created each one of us unique, why would he be any less diverse in our second birth.  We’ve talked before that there are basics for all believers, prayer, reading God’s word, obeying him.  You know going back to the basic premise of love God, love others. 
But I truly believe that there are things that God has called me to do that he may not have called you to do, and the other way around.  And my concern shouldn’t be convincing people to do what I am supposed to be doing instead it should be to do what I’m supposed to do and support you in what you are supposed to do.
Great example, tonight we are going to have the opportunity to hear from our missionaries to Haiti, Carl and Maya Giles.  God has called and equipped them to minister in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  And in faith they have accepted that challenge.  Does that mean that we all need to pack up and head to Haiti?  Nope, not all all.  But they wouldn’t be able to go unless they had a support team back home.  The people who give so they are able to go, the people who keep them in their prayers, the staff at Global partners who provide all the logitsitical support for them.   The Bible explains the concept by using the analogy of the body.  1 Corinthians 12:14-18 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
We all do different things well, we all have different abilities and talents to use for the Kingdom.
They Had Problems   You would think that if you had super powers that you’d have it made, but if you watched any of “No Ordinary Family” you realize that wasn’t the case.  There were times that the Powell’s made mistakes and there were times they made bad decisions.  They may have been super human but they were still humans.    And what would a super hero be without super villains and people who were out to get them?  That would make for a pretty bland story line wouldn’t it?
If you read through the Bible you quickly realize that not everyone was always perfect.  Sometimes they made mistakes and sometimes they made bad decisions. 
The story is told that when Oliver Cromwell was having his portrait painted that he told the artist:  “Mr. Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.” 
The bible doesn’t whitewash it’s heroes but shows them to be the people they were, warts and all.  And we do the kingdom a grave disservice when we try to pretend that we will always get it right.  The thing that got all of the folks in Hebrews 11 on the list is that they understood that failure is never final unless you allow it to be.  
I truly believe that God has great things for you to do.  And some of you will take up that challenge and you will stumble and fall down.  And at that point you will have to decide whether you will stay down or whether you will get back up and keep going, and that is what will make the difference.  
Your mother ever give you poems when you were growing up?  My mom was forever giving me poems she had found that she thought might help me at some point. 
And those were the days before the internet and email.  One she gave me is probably familiar to some of you:  Two frogs fell into a can of cream. or so I’ve heard it told;
The sides of the can were shiny and steep, The cream was deep and cold.
“O, what’s the use?” croaked No. 1. “Tis fate; no help’s around.
Goodbye, my friends! Goodbye sad world!” And weeping still, he drowned.
But Number 2, of sterner stuff, Dog paddled in surprise,
The while he wiped his creamy face,  And dried his creamy eyes.
“I’ll swim awhile at least,” he said – Or so I’ve heard he said;
“It really wouldn’t help the world, If one more frog were dead.”
An hour or two he kicked and swam. Not once he stopped to mutter.
But kicked and kicked and swam and kicked. Then hopped out via butter.
It was Emerson who said “A Man is a hero not because he is braver then anyone else, but because he is brave ten minutes longer.”  And it is that type of dedication that will make you more than average.
Earlier in the service we took the time to recognize our graduates, and this message is for you  because you are beginning a new chapter in the story of your lives, and with that new chapter comes the opportunities to define your future.  The choices you make will affect your life from this point on. 
But for every one of us today it is a new chapter in the story of our lives, and with that new chapter comes the opportunities to define our future.  If you are a Christ follower than the family you are a part of is “No Ordinary Family”, the only question is what role will you play?

Time Flies

In the past two weeks Angela and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary, my 51st birthday and our granddaughter’s 1st birthday and in two weeks I will celebrate the 25th anniversary of my ordination, the day I got all Rev’d up.

So in thinking of that, two things crossed my mind. The first was, “where did all the time go?”, and the second was, “what am I going to do with the second half of my life?” Not bad so far though. I have pastored three growing churches, have a beautiful grand-daughter, 2 great kids and am still married to the girl I fell in love with 30 years ago. It’s hard to beat that.

Jesus’ brother James compared our lives to a morning mist, here for a bit and then gone, but each one of us will choose what we will or won’t do with the time we have here, however fleeting or lingering that time might be.

Our high school graduates are about to begin a brand new chapter in their lives and we encourage them to be sure to make good choices.

But why limit it to them? Maybe the rest of us need a reminder as well that it’s never too late to make good choices.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

A Dad’s Words

It’s Father’s Day and as fathers and men we have known since we were little boys our purpose in life was to please women. Our mothers, our wives and our daughters. And we all know the rules. But there are things that men would like their wives to know, but they are scared to mention them. So guys as my Father’s Day gift to you today, here are “Ten Things Men Want Women to Know.”

#10 Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

#9 Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work. Strong hints do not work. Obvious hints do not work. Just say it!

#8 Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.

#7 “Yes” and “No” are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

#6 Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

#5 Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all past comments become null and void after 7 days.

#4 If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

#3 If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” we will act like nothing’s wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

#2 ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

#1 When we say we are thinking about “nothing” we are thinking about “nothing”.

 You’re welcome.

 What do you remember your father saying to you? Were they words of wisdom and encouragement or perhaps just the opposite. Perhaps these sound familiar (video, Memories of Dad, Produced by: Soul Refinery. Can be purchased from sermoncentral.com )

This morning we are looking at the words of King David to his son Solomon. David has come to the end of his rule and his life and as he prepares to finally meet his God he begins to put his earthly house in order. And so he assembles the leaders of Israel together so they can witness the transfer of leadership to his son, Solomon. Now not only is David giving his son the responsibility to rule Israel, but more importantly David holds out his dreams for his son to embrace.
Isn’t that the way of Fathers? Don’t each one of us hope that children will do what we couldn’t do, achieve what we couldn’t achieve and be what we couldn’t be? And so on this Fathers Day we may not be able to transfer our kingdoms, thrones and riches to our kids but we can give our children a taste of our dreams.
David had dreamed of building a temple for God and for various reasons that wasn’t going to happen, and so more important than the Kingdom he gave to his son was the vision for the kingdom that he gave to his son, and the challenge that he presented.
So who was Solomon and why for did he get the Kingdom and the dream? The who is easy, perhaps you remember the story of David and Bathsheba, I spoke on it a couple of weeks ago. Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba, it is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:24-25 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved the child. . .
Why was it specified that God loved Solomon? I don’t know, but it kind of explains why Solomon was the heir to the Kingdom instead of one of David’s older sons. The actual point that David was informed about who would follow him came in 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a Temple to honour my name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will secure the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
And we are told in 1 Kings 3:3 Solomon loved the LORD . . .
So the Lord loved Solomon and Solomon loved the Lord, sounds like a good combination to me. Just to kind of finish off who Solomon was let’s take a look at the defining moment in Solomons life, it is found in 1 Kings 3:5 . . .That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
What a great offer. I heard a story that a Pastor and his staff were out one day and an Angel appeared to them and made the same offer, well what he actually said was “You can have anything you want, you could be the most famous pastor in the world, your church could have incredible wealth or you could have immense wisdom and be the smartest man in the world.” Well the pastor thought back to what happened with Solomon and said “I’ll take the wisdom” The angel replied “Ok it’s as you asked”, and he disappeared, the associate Pastors gathered around to hear this new found wisdom of their leader and one of them said “well, what are you thinking” and the pastor looked up and said “I should have taken the money”
Well that isn’t what happened to Solomon, instead in 1 Kings 3:9 Solomon says “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
And that was the right answer because along with that wisdom God gave Solomon incredible riches and fame as well as a long life, pretty good deal.
And so to this son, who would become the wisest man in the world, who would through peace eclipse what his father had done through conquest, to this son David gives advice that every one of us as fathers should give to our sons, and to our daughters.
1 Chronicles 28:9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
Know God Notice that David tells his son to Know God, not to simply know of God but to know God and there is a world of difference here. I know of Willie Nelson, and if I wanted to I could research his background and become intimately acquainted with his life and his habits. I could know his favourite foods, his favourite colour, what time he gets up in the afternoon and what time he goes to bed at night. But as much as I knew about him I still wouldn’t know him. Hey, you pick your heroes and let me pick mine, ok?
Many of you folks know of my dad, you’ve heard me speak about him, from time to time you hear me quote him. But you don’t really know him, you don’t know what makes him tick, you can’t wrap your arm around his shoulder and say, “Sit down Burt and tell me what’s on your mind.” You really just know about him. But David had a very special relationship with God. As a matter of fact in 1 Samuel 13:14 David was called a man after God’s own heart. If you were to read through the Psalms it doesn’t take very long to discover that David knew God, he was on speaking terms and more than that they were friends.
But David doesn’t assume that just because he knew God that his son would automatically know God. It would seem that some people think that just because they raise their kids in a Christian home that they will grow up to be Christians. That somehow they will absorb God’s grace through osmosis or that their kid’s will make it to heaven riding their coat tails.
You may be going to heaven, and if you are it is because you are one of God’s children, but your relationship will only save you, cause God has no grand-children just children. Every generation that accepts the Lord has the possibility of being the last generation of Christians if they don’t pass it on.
We need to show our kids our God, and we need to introduce them to our God and we need to encourage them to know our God. Have you given your kids the opportunity to accept Christ as saviour? You say “well no Denn that’s your job as pastor, or Jennifer’s job in the nursery, or Marilyn’s job heading up the youth ministry or Jason and Matt’s job in the youth group. No parents, it is your job, and if you wait for someone else to do it then there is a pretty good chance that you will lose your kids.
But not only does David tell Solomon to know God he adds to it: 1 Chronicles 28:9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
Know Him Well David’s taking it a step further by saying, “Son, know God, but that’s not enough because we also must worship him and serve him.” Ok, so how do we go about serving God? Good question, the answer is you gotta give up your career, sell your home and go to Bible College. Then God will lead you into the deepest darkest jungles or into the pastorate, sometimes they are hard to tell apart. Because everybody knows that you can’t serve God unless you’re in full time Christian service. Right? Wrong, you see nobody can actually tell you what God expects of you, except God.
There are basics that God requires of all his children, read his word, talk to him in prayer, attend services at his house, support his work with your finances, tell others about him, touch a dying world for him. But some of the how tos need to be worked out between you and God. Regardless of what you do there are certain conditions that are set on your service. The first is that you serve him with your whole heart. Judas Iscariot served Jesus, but not necessarily with his whole heart. To take Jesus Christ as a fire escape from hell, while still worshipping at the shrine of self is a tragic mistake to make. The old adage still holds true, “If he isn’t Lord of all, he isn’t Lord at all!” So why are you here today? Are you here to serve God by worshipping him and praising him or are you here because it’s the thing to do, and because of what people think.
Are you here worshipping and serving God with your whole heart or because going to church one a week never hurt anyone and besides it keeps your wife happy or your parents off your back. Is your primary loyalty today to Jesus Christ or to yourself? Good question, have you got a good answer?
But it goes on, speaking not only of your whole heart but also with a willing mind. You don’t serve God because your parents want you to or your spouse wants you to, you do it because you want to, not reluctantly or with a forced heart but with a willing mind.
David could have ordered Solomon to serve God; he could have put a condition upon the throne that stipulated that if he didn’t serve God he’d lose the kingdom. Technically Prince Charles will become the head of the Anglican Church when he assumes the throne but really.
I’ve met people who are in the ministry because Aunt Bertha called them or Mommy wanted a pastor in the family, and now they just keep plodding along because they can’t do anything else.
I love what I do, seriously I do it because it’s what I have been called to do, I do it because this is part of how I serve God and I do it willingly. But I don’t do it because I have to, as a matter of fact I don’t think I could do it just because I had to. And I couldn’t be a Christian just to keep from going to hell. You can make a person go to church, but you can’t make them know and love God, they will have to do that themselves.
1 Chronicles 28:9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
Know Him Now A while ago I asked the question: why are you here today? Why are you in the service at Cornerstone this morning? And if I were to wander down into the seats asking that question to each of your individually; “Excuse me sir, or madam, why are you here today?” I’d get all kinds of noble answers. And Denn would never know if those were the real reasons or not. But the Bible says that God knows why you’re here. And so regardless of the reason you give me for being here today, God knows the truth.
He’d know that some of you men would prefer listening to Denn nag you in church then listen to your wife nag you about going to church. He’d know that some of you are here out of habit, that you got up this morning and knew that it was Sunday, you got dressed and here you are without much conscious effort or thought. He’d know that some of you are here because you figure people would talk about you if you weren’t here. And he’d know that the majority of you are here because you wanted to be with the people of Jesus and you wanted to worship his name.
Isn’t it refreshing to know that regardless of how we rationalize, justify, or explain our actions, whether good or bad, that God always knows why we done it? Or just plain scary. And there is a reason why David was so concerned with Solomon getting it right.
1 Chronicles 28:9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
. . . These are pretty harsh words, listen to them again
if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. There’s a Warning. Not for a day or two, not a week or two, or a month or two, or a year or two, if you forsake him then he will reject your forever. And forever is a long time. This is our life, and from here to the back of the worship centre is forever, except it keeps going.
And when the Bible says that God will reject you that means that you will go to hell, and contrary to popular opinion hell is not going to be a picnic, it’s not going to be a party time with your friends. The Bible vividly describes hell as a place of torment, a place of despair, a place of loneliness.
You see everything in this life that is good, everything thing in this life that is beautiful, all the kindness, and all the love is tied to God. Remove God from the equation and you remove beauty and goodness, kindness and love. And when you are rejected by God then you lose all the perks as well.
And regardless of your reasoning there is a hell, and it’s not going to be a fun time and there is no way to avoid hell without God. Someone once said that “Your denying hell won’t make it one degree cooler or one second shorter.” And people ask “How can a loving God send people to Hell.” But let’s go back to what David told Solomon: If you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Did you catch it, it begins with you, it is your decision, your choice. If you forsake him.
1 Chronicles 28:9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
There’s a Promise If you forsake God he will reject you, but friends that’s not the good news. The good news is that if you seek God you will find him. This isn’t a game of hide and seek, God’s not trying to stay hidden. This is the promise of the word of God, if you seek him, you will find him. That is a powerful statement. Whenever you start looking for God, wherever you start looking for God, why ever you start looking for God, he will be found by you.
And so the question today, June 19, 2011 is this “Are you seeking God today?” Are you looking for him, because if you are, you will find him.

Happy Father’s Day

So, what did you get your dad for Father’s Day?  An ugly tie, soap on a rope or a pair of socks.  Luckily it was always your dad who said, “It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.”  I trust that you’ve taken the time out to thank your father for everything he’s done for you.  Or maybe there’s nothing to say thank you for.

 

One of the problems for some people in accepting God as their Father, is the memories they have of the way their father treated them.  It’s unfortunate but true that sometimes the greatest hurts are caused by the ones who are supposed to love us the most.  The mere biological act of siring a child does not make a man a father, but listen to how God’s word defines our relationship with Him: John 1:12-13 “Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him.  So he gave them the right to be the children of God.  They were not God’s children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children.”  Neat huh?    
  

You see the truth is this: God isn’t necessarily like the father you had, but He is the father you need.

 

So Dads I hope you all have a great Father’s Day, and I hope everyone takes the time to thank their heavenly Father for all He is and for all He’s done for you.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

The Refuge of the Righteous

Psalm 91
I usual don’t have much time for anonymous notes but I will make an exception this time. Unlike the first five psalms we looked at we don’t really know who wrote Psalm 91. There are a couple of different opinions but we don’t know for sure. In the first five Psalms in this series it said in the introduction “A Psalm of David” and some were even more specific, telling us who the Psalm was written for and what the circumstances were surrounding the Psalm.
But not here, nary a clue. Some Jewish scholars take the view that if a Psalm is unnamed then the author should be presumed to be the last named author, in this case we would go back to Psalm 90 where we read “A prayer of Moses, the man of God” And if that is the case then this Psalm is about 400 years older than the Psalms written by David and Solomon. It would also put a different slant on the Psalm, because instead of being written after Israel had become a nation and was establishing herself on the international playing field it would have been written during the time when Moses was leading the people through the wilderness after having escaped the slavery of Egypt. Perspective truly is a wonderful thing.
And seeing how the Jews had this Psalm first let’s look at it from the perspective that Moses indeed wrote these words.
So you know the story, Joseph one of Abraham’s great grandchildren is sold into slavery by his brothers for being annoying, although I don’t think I was annoying I’m sure there were times that my sister would have willingly sold me into slavery. So Joseph ends up in Egypt as a slave and after a series of interconnected events ends up as Pharaoh’s top advisor. It is in that capacity that he is able to provide a haven for his parents and siblings and families when a drought and famine strikes their home in Canaan. They come to Egypt, settle down and become productive members of Egyptian society, this is all recorded in the book of Genesis. And it’s amazing how fast a dozen people and their households can multiply, maybe not that amazing when you do the math. Eventually the Israelites had become a sizeable minority in Egypt and if we fast forward ahead 400 years or so and skip into the book of Exodus and we read Exodus 1:8 Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done.
And it was under this new King, or Pharaoh that persecution broke out against the Israelites, their property was taken away and they were forced into slavery. And after a period of time God rose up a champion named Moses who challenged Pharaoh with the words “let my people go.” Of course the answer was “no”, a series of plagues ensued and eventually the Jews were granted their freedom, only to have the Egyptian army pursue them, the Red Sea parts before them allowing them to escape and drowns the pursuing Egyptian army.
That was the condensed version. The trip could have been relatively quick however because of the people’s unbelief it ended up being a 40 year adventure. That was the condensed version, but it will help you to understand some of the references in Psalm 91.
Psalm 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
It Starts with a Condition This Psalm isn’t for everyone, it’s only for a select few. The great thing is that those few aren’t chosen by chance they are chosen by a decision. If you want to find rest in the shadow of the almighty then you have to live in the shelter of the most high. This spring most of us haven’t been looking for shadows to rest in, but I would suspect that in the desert that was home for the Israelites for the forty years between their escape from Egypt and their final destination that shadows were a welcome respite from the heat of the sun.
Throughout the bible “Shade” is used to describe a place of rest and a place of safety and in a land where the sun can be relentless that is understandable. When I teach in Africa I’m always looking for a shady spot, next to a wall under a tree, anywhere I can find that is out of the sun. But you can only find shade by being close to whatever it is that casts the shadow. Can’t stand in the middle of a field and find shade, it doesn’t work that way.
Are you familiar with this? Some of you know it as Ayer’s Rock, named by surveyor William Gosse who named it after Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers, when Gosse discovered it in 1873.
We white people are really full of ourselves. Long before Gosse stumbled across this monolith, it’s not a mountain it’s a rock, The aboriginal people considered it a sacred place and called it Uluru. I wonder if the reason it was considered sacred was because of the shade it provided in the middle of the outback? Just a thought.
And so the author talks about find rest in the shade, but not just any shade but in the shadow of God, and here is the condition, you can only find rest in the shadow of God if you are close enough to God to be in his shadow.
James the brother of Jesus reminds us in James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. But we have to be willing to make that step, there is that nasty old free will again.
You know it works in the physical world as well, in your marriage if you stay close to your spouse, spiritually, emotionally and physically there is less chance you will be tempted to cheat. Some people say “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But the reality is “Absence makes the heart grow wander.” The major reason people give for cheating on their spouses is to find what is missing in their marriage. Whether that missing element is physical or emotional. If you want to maintain a healthy marriage then stay close to one another. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with God then stay close to him. Your prayer life, reading his word, worshipping with his people.
Then the author of the Psalm changes directions, and mixes his metaphors, in Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armour and protection. No this does not mean that God is a bird, this is another illustration that the author uses that tends to be lost on us today. Really the closest most of us will come to a bird is when we are unwrapping the Styrofoam tray that it is packaged on.
But time and time again in the scriptures this word picture is drawn of chicks being drawn in close to their mother and protected under her wings. And what is it they find under their mother’s wings? Warmth, comfort and safety from birds of prey. But that doesn’t happen when the chicks are far from their mother. When the chicks wander it doesn’t mean their mother doesn’t care about them it means the chicks have made a choice to leave the protection that their mother offers.
There are even times that the Psalmists manage to combine both of these images Psalm 63:7 Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
When Jesus was looking across Jerusalem in the days before he would face his death we read this, Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
He still wants and we still won’t. But if we want safety we have to be willing to accept it. We can’t have it both ways; we can’t be on our own, do it our own way and go where we want to go and yet still want the safety that comes with being close to God.
So the Psalmist begins with a condition, telling us that this Psalm is for the person who find shelter in the shadow of God, who stays close to God.
If the Psalm begins with a condition then we find that In the Middle are the Promises This Psalm is full of Promises, listen to what we are told “His faithful promises are your armour and protection”, “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night”, “nor the arrow that flies in the day”, “Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness” “nor the disaster that strikes at midday”, “these evils will not touch you”, “no evil will conquer you”, “no plague will come near your home”, “For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go”, “You will trample upon lions and cobras”, “you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet”
That is a pile of promises and they are great promises; there are promises of protection from physical danger, from illness, from spiritual danger.
Some interesting things. The Psalmist tells us that we will be protected during the day from the things we can see and at night from the things we can’t see.
The terrors of the night. Interesting statement, it doesn’t say the terrors that exist at night but the terrors of the night; you ever notice how ordinary sights and sounds become terrifying at night. Bumps and thumps that you wouldn’t even hear during the day are amplified in the dark. You wake up suddenly and realize that there is someone in the room with you, only to discover that it the clothes you hung on the back of the chair before going to bed. I solved that problem, I just throw my clothes on the floor.
Perhaps he’s talking about those real troubles and the ones we only imagine
Did verses 11 and 12 sound familiar to you? Psalm 91:11-12 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
The next time we find that promise is in the New Testament, coming from the most unlikely source, Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'”
Don’t be impressed by someone’s ability to quote scripture. Even the devil can do that when it suits his purpose. And he is quite willing to take a verse out of context, I was taught in Bible College that a text out of context is a pretext. Remember the condition that this Psalm started with? You would be sheltered and protected by God when you stayed close to him, Jesus giving into the temptation of the devil wouldn’t exactly be staying close to God.
Psalm 91:13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! Here are natural fears, fears of the natural world.
There is a promise of protection from two terrifying predators the lion and the poisonous snake, in the KJV it is called the adder in the NLT the Cobra, it really is a matter of what we are familiar with and what strikes fear in our heart.
The word used in the original Hebrew word simply meant poisonous snake, in the UK there is only one poisonous snake and that is the Adder so 400 years ago when they were translating the KJV they used something that most people would be familiar with. Today when people think of a poisonous snake the picture that probably comes to mind is a cobra with its hood flared, or maybe a rattlesnake.
And in the King James version the second part of that promise refers to Lions and Dragons. That’s a lot cooler than serpent. And the Hebrew word that was used was (תַּנִּין)‎ Tannin and it simply means “Monster”. And we don’t know what type of creature might have been a monster for the Israelites wandering in the wilderness but for the translators 400 years ago monsters were dragons.
Are you getting the picture here? The Psalmist is claiming protection from all the things that would strike fear in the hearts of a nomadic people wandering through the wilderness. Their children getting sick, them being attacked by enemies, wild animals, poisonous snakes, monsters and whatever it is that hides under the bed in the dark and then he claims God’s protection over all of it.
If only it were true. Because it’s not. And we know that. We know that bad things happen to good people, we know that God’s children get sick just like people far from God. If we were to take this literally than we wouldn’t worry about Stephanie Barteaux, who grew up in Cornerstone and other Christ Followers who are serving in Afghanistan, although I am a little concerned about the company she is keeping. (Pic of her with the Prime Minister)
If we truly believed that we were always under the protection of God then we could let our kids play in the middle of the road, never take a family member to a Doctor and cancel our health insurance. Because we would be under the protection of God. It would be the greatest outreach possible and we would have to bar the doors of the church. Imagine, we could put on our sign, “Come to Cornerstone and never again have to worry about life.”
A hundred years ago Alexander McLaren wrote “We shall understand God’s dealings with us, and get to the very throbbing heart of such promises as these in this psalm far better, if we start from the certainty that whatever it means it does not mean that, with regard to external calamities and disasters, we are going to be God’s petted children, or to be saved from the things that fall upon other people. No! no! we have to go a great deal deeper than that.”
So if it can’t be taken literally than how should it be taken? I love the promise in Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
You see we would like to think that if God is our God then we won’t go through deep waters, that we will never have to swim the rivers of difficulty that we will never have to walk through the fire of oppression, but that isn’t the promise.
The promise is that this isn’t it. That this life isn’t all of the story and that when we go through those things that remind us that we are part of the human race that we aren’t going through them alone. Because the dark isn’t nearly as scary when someone is with you
So it starts with a condition, in the middle is a promise and then we read Psalm 91:14-16 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
It Finishes with a Condition You have to understand that this isn’t a psalm for everybody only certain bodies. And again realize that we often think that the story ends when our life on earth is over. The time we spend on this earth is finite, and not sure that anyone who is healthy ever thinks they’ve had enough.
On the other hand if we believe what we say we believe about heaven and eternity then we have to believe that for those who have chosen to follow Jesus and love God that the transition from this life to the next is simply the turning of a page. And maybe we could have written on our tombstone Psalm 91:14-16 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Ultimately this Psalm isn’t about being exempted from the trials of life, instead it is about refuge and rest and rescue and those can only be found when you trust the one who is in control.
Until you can believe that you are safe in the hands of God you won’t be content to be in the hands of God.

Forgiveness of the Righteous

It wasn’t read a part of the scripture this morning but most of your bibles contain a one line introduction to this Psalm, the KJV beats around the bush a little bit here when it says “To the chief musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.” in the NLT and the NIV aren’t nearly as subtle because they put it this way: For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Interesting, because when you read that you just know that this Psalm wouldn’t be complete without the backstory. And the assumption was made that everyone would know what the backstory was. And in the case of the original audience I would wager that everyone did know what the backstory was, Much like 10 years ago if you had said “That happened right after Bill Clinton did not have sex with that Monica Lewinsky.” People would have known what you were talking about, but I’m not sure that is the case today with this story.
So let’s start with Who David Was We did a little of this awhile back. You will remember that after Moses had led the people of Israel to the promised land and after Joshua had led them into the promised land that their were governed but men and women who were called Judges, under a system called a Theocracy. Which simply means “Under God.” And if you follow the political news, particularly in the States, you see the far right would like to see a theocracy established again, but I’m thinking that perhaps they might want to be God. I read a while back Anne Lamott wrote “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” And that was free.
After 400 years of being ruled by Judges the people began to demand a King and from all the candidates a man named Saul was selected. And this is what was written about Israel’s new king. 1 Samuel 9:2 His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land. Tall and good looking, apparently no longer a requirement for royalty. Just saying. When it comes to Kings this is my view (Monty Python constitutional peasant) But Saul proved to be a pretty good king, for a while. He sought God’s guidance and was obedient to that guidance. But after a while Saul begin to think “I’m pretty good at the King thing, maybe I don’t need God.” Aren’t you glad you never you’ve never made that mistake, you know figuring you don’t need to pay attention to God?
The result was that a new King was selected, and ultimately it was to be David, he was the youngest son of a man named Jesse and tended the families sheep in the hills surrounding Bethlehem.
Not necessary a really auspicious beginning for a King. You might remember when the Israelites were fighting the Philistines and the Philistines brought their champion, a giant named Goliath out and challenged the Israelites to bring out their champion to take on Goliath, winner take all. And there was nobody willing until David, who had come to the battlefield to bring his older brothers supplies from home, offered to give it a go. If you don’t know the story you know the phrase “David and Goliath” it usually refers to the underdog taking on the big dog and winning. And that’s what happened; with only a sling shot David killed Goliath. And became a national hero. From there he went on to become a musician to King Saul and eventually after Saul was killed in battle David was appointed King. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but those are the highlights.
So David becomes King and led Israel into becoming one of the leading civilizations of the time, he established Jerusalem as the nation’s capital, he did all the initial planning for the temple his son Solomon would eventually build and settled down and did whatever it is that Kings do. Actually in that day and age most of the time it seemed they spent defending Israel against neighbouring kings. Fast forward ahead twenty years and we read this scripture 2 Samuel 11:1-2 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war. . . David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.
So here we discover What David Did Now you and I know what spring means. It’s time to do yard work, clean up the property, maybe do a little painting, a little raking, those are spring things. But in a different time and a different place, well it was different. We read in 2 Samuel 11:1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, . . . Ah, spring when the robins come back, the bulbs come up and kings go to war. Why spring? I don’t know, maybe in the winter it was too cold to go to war and in the summer everyone was at the beach.
Anyway here’s the story. It’s the spring of the year and the nation of Israel is at war with a couple of different factions, but the King, that would be David is not there. He’s at home, in Jerusalem. His troops are fighting the Ammonites in Rabbah and David’s in Jerusalem. Now today that might not seem all that strange, after all the heads of states only start the wars and keep them going, they don’t actually fight in them, and in most cases they don’t even send their children to fight in them, but that’s a different story. In David’s day and age Kings went to war, they led the troops, but not David, not this time. This time he’s home and one afternoon just after he had gotten up, honest that’s what the Bible says, I would understand that if we were talking about teenaged David but this was grown up David.
A couple of weeks ago we looked about Psalm 22 and how it pointed toward symptoms of depression in the King. This continues, he’s not going to work, he’s sleeping in the middle of the day and has probably isolated himself from his wife and friends.
So he gets ups from his afternoon nap, must be nice to be a king, bet when the poor farmer in that time of history was struggling with depression he didn’t get to lay around in bed, no he was out working in his field depressed. I guess that all part of being repressed.
Back to the story, the king is taking a stroll around the flat roof of his palace and he looks over and this lady is out in her back yard taking a bath. And she’s not just any lady the Bible says that she was a woman of unusual beauty.
Now I’m not saying that she ought not to be bathing in the back yard starkers, but I would think that when you neighbour’s house is much taller than yours that the thought might possibly cross your mind, “Hey this might not be such a good idea.” Regardless as the story goes David sends a messenger to fetch Bathsheba, and she arrives at the palace.
Now I don’t know why David invited her up in the first place, it might very well have been an innocent gesture. Maybe he wanted to warn her about the dangers of bathing in her back yard, or maybe he wanted to compliment her on her beauty, maybe he wanted to ask her about her husband because by this time David already knew that she was the wife of one of his troops, or maybe he wanted to show her his etchings. I don’t know. What I do know is that what ended up happening. The NLT says that “He slept with her”, but there must have been more going on than sleeping because in the very next verse she discovers that she’s pregnant and sends news to David of the consequences of their actions.
But what was done was, the die was cast so to speak, and a baby was on its way and it was what it was.
Well David was no dummy, well at least not after the fact. And so he sent for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, who was fighting David’s battle. The thought being that Uriah having been away from home for a while would be anxious to sleep with his wife, and would think he was the father, maybe they couldn’t count to nine back then. Anyways Uriah comes home, David the king greets him in person and says “Hey guy you’re doing a great job, why not go home get cleaned up and enjoy yourself, nod, nod wink, wink.” The king then sent a lovely dinner over to Uriah’s house, but Uriah didn’t go home, he slept outside. The King called him in and asked “am I missing something here?” And Uriah responded by saying, “How could I possibly go home to a nice warm meal, a soft bed and a beautiful wife when my troops are still in the field?”
So it was on to plan “B”, which was where David invited Uriah to a meal at the palace, obviously an offer you can’t turn down. While he was there David proceeded to get Uriah drunk, and then sent him home. But instead, Uriah bedded down outside once again, proving that he was a better man drunk then the king was sober.
Well it was on to plan “C” which was where David sent Uriah back to the battlefield with a note for his commander. If Uriah had of peeked at the note this is what he would have read

Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to us, but if we could read it in English it said 2 Samuel 11:15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.”
But Uriah obviously didn’t read it because he was killed in the battle, I’m sure that David must have been thinking “I love it when a plan comes together” And I’m sure that he thought that he had gotten away with murder.
2 Samuel 11:27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was displeased with what David had done.
Now it’s time to introduce another character into the story. God was displeased with what David had done, and we can understand that, and then in the next verse we read
2 Samuel 12:1 So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet . . .
Who Nathan Was. The first time we are introduced to Nathan is when David is making plans to build the temple, if would appear that Nathan replaced Samuel as the Lead Prophet in Israel, becoming the spiritual advisor to the King. And he seemed to be highly respected by the King and was even the namesake for one of David’s son.
And in 1 and 2 Chronicles we are told that Nathan wrote an account of David’s reign as well as Solomon’s. And part of the job description for Prophets is that they have the hard conversations. You remember that Samuel had to do that with King Saul when he was disobedient and that Elijah confronted King Ahab with his disobedience.
The story is told that John Wesley was asked by a young pastor what his duties were and Wesley replied “You are to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” And confrontation is still part of the job description for pastors today. Probably my least favourite part of being a pastor. And people get all bent out of shape and say “Don’t judge me” but really it’s part of what I’m called to do.
2 Samuel 12:1 So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: . . .
What Nathan Did When we were in Australia telling people I was a pastor often resulted in simply alienating the person, or making them hostile so sometimes when I first met someone and they asked what I did I would tell them that I was a storyteller and we would go from there.
Nathan could have started off preaching to David but instead he told him a story.
2 Samuel 12:1-4 So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 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. 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.”
And David was furious, he said that such a man shouldn’t even be allowed to live. And Nathan gave this great reply,
2 Samuel 12:7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man!
I had a conversation with a gentlemen the other day and in objection to the bible he brought up this story and wanted to know how David could possibly be known as a bible hero when he had this incident on his plate. I’m kind of the mind that no one should be judged by the worst moment in their life. What David did was inexcusable but it would appear that it was an anomaly. Over all it doesn’t reflect who David was. I certainly wouldn’t want to be judged on my worst moment and I would suspect that none of you would either.
And that ends the introduction to the introduction to the Psalm. And really after that the Psalm pretty well speaks for itself.

 And maybe you are sitting there saying “So what? David behaved like royalty has always behaved, what has that got to do with me?” Well the truth isn’t that David behaved like royalty has always behaved he behaved like we have always behaved, he chose to go his own way rather than God’s way. And if God’s prophet hadn’t confronted him then in time God himself would have confronted David. That’s why God sent Nathan so David could get it right before judgement day. And That’s why God sent prophets so the people of Israel could get it right before judgement. And that is why part of my job description is to “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” to give you a chance to get it right before judgment.
David Knew What He Did The is a major part of Psalm 51, When Nathan confronted the King with what he did, he didn’t try and justify it; “Come on Nathan, I was tired and I haven’t been getting along with my wives they just don’t understand me like Bathsheba does.” He didn’t try to rationalize it; “Really Nathan, compared to those who worship Baal and sacrifice children this wasn’t that bad, it was only once.” And he didn’t try to blame others, “Well if she hadn’t be so beautiful and if she hadn’t been naked in her back yard and if she hadn’t come to my chambers. Instead his response is written in 2 Samuel 12:13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
David owned his sin, and when he wrote this Psalm he talked about “my sin, and my rebellion and I have rebelled and I have done what is evil” The first step in getting right with God is admitting that we are wrong with God. And that can be tough because the further we drift the more normal it seems. Saw a T-shirt the other day that said “It’s only naughty the first time.”
We need to be keeping short accounts, not justifying, not rationalizing, not blaming others but saying as David did, Psalm 51:4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
Not only did David know what he did David Knew What He Wanted You’re thinking “Well this is a no brainer, he wanted forgiveness.” True but he wanted more than forgiveness. Sometimes we see “Grace” as a one trick pony, it means God forgives us for our sins but there is so much more to grace and David knew that.
Listen to what David asked for: Have Mercy on me, O God, Blot out the stain of my sins, Purify me, Give me back my joy, remove the stain of my guilt, create in me a clean heart, renew a loyal spirit within me, don’t take your Holy Spirit from me, make me willing to obey you.
Is that our prayer when we blow it? Especially that last statement: make me willing to obey you.
Not only was God willing to do that for David 3000 years ago but He is willing to do it for us today. The promise of God’s word still stands today, Acts 3:19-20 “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord. . .”

 
 

Whiter than White

I had forgotten how white, white was supposed to be, until I saw how white, white was again.  Say that sentence real fast a few times!  We had our house washed the other day and while I knew that it was a little grimy, it wasn’t until the first section was finished and we could see the difference, that we realized just how dirty it had gotten through the years.  And it wasn’t like we had a forest fire or a volcano that covered the house in soot, it was just life. The daily accumulation of life.  But we couldn’t simply wish it clean; it cost us something and it took  some time and a concentrated effort before our house was white again. 
And that made me realize how careful we have to be with our souls, and it’s not necessarily the grime of some catastrophic sin but just the daily exposure to life that sullies our souls .  That’s why David begged God in the Psalms to wash him and make him whiter than snow.   But it doesn’t just happen, you can’t simply wish your soul clean. It will take a little time and a concentrated effort if you are going to be as white as white can be.     Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.