Entitled

David

man after my own heart

Acts 13:22, 2 Sam 11:1-17, 2 Samuel 12:7-14

If you grew up in church your Sunday school classes were probably full of the stories of David’s triumphs. He was the shepherd boy who killed lions, bears, Goliath and eventually became King. His triumphs were nothing short of amazing. David was even called a “Man after God’s own heart” in Acts 13:22. Yet just like the other characters we have discussed, David was flawed.

In arguably the most famous story of his flaws David ultimately caused catastrophe to befall his entire Kingdom. First off, in 2 Samuel 11:1 it says that David stayed home in his cozy palace instead of going off to war as he was supposed to. Next, since he wasn’t where he was supposed to be he saw a beautiful woman named Bathsheba bathing on her roof. Even though she was married to a man who was serving in David’s army David decided to send messengers to bring her to him. We find out in verse 5 that she became pregnant.

In an attempt to cover up what he had done David asks for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to come home from battle but Uriah is honorable and refuses to sleep in the comfort of his home knowing the other men in his army are not able to do the same. Frustrated David sends a note with Uriah as he goes back to the battle front. The note carries Uriah’s death sentence as it commands the commander of the army to send Uriah to the front line of the fiercest battle. With Uriah out of the way David takes Bathsheba to be his wife and she gave birth to a son who later died because of David’s sin. Not only that but David was later driven out of his own Kingdom because of the sin he committed. Everyone suffered because of the flaw that David allowed himself to be entitled to do as he pleased.

David suffered for his actions and repented for it. Despite his flaws through grace God used David to establish the throne of Israel even making Jesus a decedent of David. No matter what you have done God sees your potential and can use you in amazing ways.

-Lacey Dunn

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A Rule that’s NOT of this World

Monday

Matthew 4 17

Proverbs. You probably wouldn’t think that Proverbs would have anything to do with the topic for our devotion this week, the gospel. However, there’s a small nugget of wisdom in the 13th chapter of Proverbs in verse 12a:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”

A heart void of hope makes the heart sick and sad. So many people go through life with no hope or if they do have a hope it’s wrongly placed and are disappointed when it doesn’t satisfy their deepest longings. Hope is crucial to a life of joy and contentedness and with our look at the second component of the gospel, God has provided a hope to all who want to follow him. This hope is the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. If you don’t understand the kingdom, you won’t understand Jesus. Now there are two aspects to the kingdom of God, a present reality and the future hope (or the eschatological kingdom for the technical term). Today, we look at the future hope. But in order to understand the future, we have to first understand the past. Let’s start in Genesis.

God created the cosmos and everything in it, including a tiny blue marble we call earth. God intended humans to be his vice-regents on the earth, humans were to reign and rule over all that he had created on earth:

“Then God said, ‘let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over the cattle over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’…God blessed them and said to them ‘be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and the over the birds of the air and the every living thing that moves on the earth” – Gen. 1.26,28

However, the perfect union that God and man had together was short-lived. Sin came into the picture and with it, death, evil, oppression, and injustice have reigned to this day. But God decided he wanted to save his creation, humans and the world, thus began God plan’s on reconciling everything back to himself. We’re going to look at two passages from the Old Testament that provide the pillars to the New Testament and Jesus.

In Genesis 12, God makes a covenant or a faithful promise with Abram:

“Now Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country…to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” – Gen. 12.1-3

God promises three things to Abram:

  1. Land that Abram will possess
  2. He will be made a great nation
  3. The entire earth will be blessed through him

 

Jumping ahead to I Chronicles 17, God makes a covenant with David:

“When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for me a house, and I will establish his throne forever…I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever” – I Chronicles 17.11-14

God promises that there will be one who comes after him, from his line, and his throne will be established forever. Remember God promised Abraham land and during David’s time God’s people had the land, then God promises the king of that land that there will be one after him whose throne will rule forever and ever over that land and kingdom.

Let’s take a look at what Luke 1 says about Jesus:

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” – Lk. 1.31-33

Jesus is the king over the promised kingdom of God. Thus when Jesus proclaims his inaugural statement in Matt. 4.17 and Mark 1.15, it’s the king announcing the arrival of the kingdom. This kingdom and it’s king reverses the effect that sin has ravaged on the earth, because Jesus himself has overcome the grave.

One day Jesus is coming back to establish the full reality of the kingdom and its influence here on the earth. We have a taste of it now (which we’ll get into tomorrow) but we hope and long for the return of Jesus. Because of his return this ravaged broken down system will be set right, and the true king with a just and righteous rule will govern the earth and we will reign and rule just as it was in the beginning. This was gospel for Jesus and this is gospel and hope to us.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” – Hebrews 10.23

-Jacob Rohrer

 

 

 

No “Works Cited” In Prayer!

Psalms 85-89

psalm86_11

Monday, January 9

Have you ever stopped to think about copyrighting? In our world, even words can be trademarked and copyrighted. For example, if I was going to start making a comic called “Superheroes of Scripture” (which would be awesome), I would be infringing on the trademarked word “superhero”, a trademark of Marvel and DC Comics. That’s pretty impressive that the word “superhero” can’t be used in a product that you desire to sell unless approved by Marvel/DC! Also, if I use someone else’s words or even information in a paper for school, it is considered stealing unless I cite my source. (I know my seniors doing research papers understand the pain of a “Works Cited” page.)
However, the authors of Scripture felt no such compunction to cite their sources or honor “copyrights” of previous authors. You’ll see tons of quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, when you get there. But there will be parts without quotes that you may recognize were pulled out of the OT without a reference to the original author. The authors of Scripture quoted, summarized, paraphrased and referenced previous books of Scripture with abandon, because the books and words were part of how they thought.
A prime OT example of this is Psalm 86:15. The author (David, here) writes “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.” If you have been following along since August, you may catch what is being referenced. Know what it is? It is Exodus 34:6 – “Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth…”  In this Psalm, David turns the narrative of Yahweh passing in front of Moses, hidden in the cleft, into a prayer. YOU, Yahweh, are compassionate and gracious, etc. David knew that this was written before, but he is not writing something new, he is not breaking ground, he is using what God has already said about Godself to speak to God.
We can do the same. Sometimes, we have no words to say about God or our words to God sound so small. I’ve been there; thinking that what can I say to God? If you don’t know where to begin to pray, one of the best places is to look to Scripture and use the words you find there to pray. We have permission to pray using the words of Scripture in the Psalms and the Psalms themselves are great passages to use. If your prayer life is struggling, or if you are wanting to grow closer to God, may using God’s own words bless you!
-Jake Ballard
Pastor Jake attended Atlanta Bible College, and has been a professor there in the past. He would like to encourage those who want to know more about the Bible, about leadership and about Christian Spirituality, to get in contact with the college. It is a wonderful opportunity, and if you are one of those juniors or seniors working on research papers, as you are applying to and investigating different college options, don’t forget ABC!
(Photo credit: http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/psalm86_11.html)

Fortress

Psalms 61-67

psa-61-2-ww-notrace-9x6

January 4, 2017

Living in Minnesota can be challenging, yesterday it was 35 degrees and it started raining. Shortly after that, the temperature started to drop. This caused a thin layer of ice making walking dangerous and driving difficult. Today, the temperature has continued to fall and the wind has picked up. I am counting on my house to keep me warm and safe. I do this because my house has kept me warm and safe for many years.

David claimed God as his shelter and source of protection against all that threatened him. Experience had shown how God cared for him and loved him. There were many times David called upon God to watch over him and God was always faithful to David’s pleas.

Psalm 62:1-2, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

David questioned God when he felt his enemies threatening him, and God always reminded him he was with him. God is our fortress, a place to rest and reset to face our troubles.

-Susan Johnson

(Photo credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/psalm-61-chiastic-structure/)

Our Refuge

Psalms 31-34: God our stronghold, our refuge.

“The LORD is the stronghold of my life –

of whom should I be afraid?” – Ps. 27:1b

Imagine you are in a battle, with your enemies pressing you on every side. You need a place to regroup, get rest, and then continue fighting. Where would you seek your refuge?

This scenario might be hard to imagine for most of us, who have never fought a battle, but David, who wrote several of these psalms, knew exactly what it was like to be pursued by an army. In many of these psalms, he refers to God as his refuge, fortress, and stronghold. God is the place where he goes to receive rest, to be rescued.

One of the main attractions to visit while in the city of London is the Tower of London. This structure, that was built over the past millennia, was designed in such a way that it would prevent attacks from arrows, canons, and more. The base of the White Tower even has walls that are 15 feet thick!

Though the strongholds that David was referring to may have not been built like medieval buildings, the purpose of them would be the same. They were designed to be impenetrable. To be a safe place amidst the arrows, swords, and fighting. A refuge that David could come to for peace in the turmoil of a fighting life.

We, like David, can come into the refuge of God’s fortress. God can be our stronghold! When we follow God’s direction and trust in him, we have walls shielding us that are much thicker than those of the Tower of London. Praise God who protects even in the turmoil of this life.

-Cayce Ballard

Praying through the Ups and Downs

Psalms 25-30: Praying through the Ups and Downs

As an English major, I have come to be a voracious reader, and one of my favorite past-times is cuddling up with a good novel and a cup of coffee. In all my reading, I’ve come to see patterns in books.  I am now able to discern what I will like to read and what I won’t. A common thread through all the books I like is how they display a wide range of emotions of humanity, not just the good aspects. Instead of painting a glossy, rose-tinted picture, the novelists try to capture how broken the world is, and by doing so, show something much deeper, a common humanity.

I love novels and reading, but I will be the first to say that I do not look to these things for my hope and salvation. When I want to look to something that speaks to my life now, I look to the Bible. As I read through the Psalms, I recognize in scriptures the same thing I love in literature through these prayers and praises. The Psalms we read for today, Psalms 25-30, were all written by David. In these Psalms, David pleads to God for vindication and deliverance and praises God when he does so. These wonderful prayers model for us how we can come to God in all our pain as well as our joy. In both of these places, God longs to hear from us.

Like novels and books help the author to communicate to us, Psalms shows us how we can communicate with God and the many ways that God can communicate back, through His word, nature, and more. These prayers show us how to come to God in a way that is pleasing to Him and open up our hearts to what He wants from our lives.

God longs for us to pursue Him with prayer, and the New Testament focuses on this heavily. Jesus gives us an example of prayer in Luke 11 with the Lord’s prayer. Paul says in Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray constantly. These examples and admonitions about prayer point to the same thing that David’s psalms do: we should communicate with God all the time. James says it best in his letter, chapter 5 verse 13, “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises.”

As we can see in the Psalms and through the life of Jesus, prayer is the backbone of our faith. To know and pursue God we need to communicate with Him, and prayer is where that communication, that relationship, begins. We don’t have to gloss over our problems or focus on them solely. God longs for our whole humanity, and we, like David, can bring it to Him.

-Cayce Ballard

books

Our Boundary Lines

boundarylinesWhen the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land after wandering for forty years, they had a big job to do. After taking possession of the land, they had to divide the land between the twelve tribes. Joshua was given this job, and you can find the boundary lines of each tribe in Joshua 16-21. These boundary lines were designed by God so that each tribe would have access to enough good land to survive. They were a provision from God as the Israelites settled into their new home.

Hundreds of years later, David talks about boundary lines in Psalm 16. He says,

“LORD, you are my portion

and my cup of blessing;

You hold my future.

The boundary lines

have fallen for me

In pleasant places;

Indeed, I have

A beautiful inheritance.” –vv. 5-6

The boundary lines David was talking about were not only boundary markers on the ground dictating the land he would inherit. These boundary lines concerned something far more important. These boundaries established a spiritual inheritance that we also receive, the Kingdom of God.

Hebrews 9:15 says, “Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Jesus is our mediator, so that we can receive our promised inheritance. The portion that we receive, our future and our inheritance, is the Kingdom of God. Indeed, our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places!

Like many of David’s psalms, his celebration of God does not end with a praise. David always includes action. If we continue to read through the rest of Psalm 16, we see the reflection of a heart change in David’s life. He praises God, because God counsels Him- through his meditation on God’s word, he reflects on how he can better live for God. Through David’s purposeful study of God’s word, he walks on the path of life, which leads to the Kingdom.

Often, we think about boundaries as hemming and restricting us. David rejoices because, though the law does give him restrictions on how to live, he sees that life with the law is pleasant. Our boundary lines are great not only in the future to come, but also this world now.

Let’s rejoice in our inheritance and follow David’s example of walking and reveling in God’s word and presence.

-Cayce Ballard

 

Photo Credit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B8CzfQUIcAAi1yT.jpg