Tuesday Devotional: 2 Samuel 12

Devotional

bibleRead 2 Samuel 12

Often we understand the act of sinning in the same way we understand breaking a rule.  Committing a sin is doing something you are not supposed to do.  Although to a certain extent this understanding is accurate, the reality of sin that requires a savior is much more complex.

If avoiding sin was as simple as not breaking certain rules, then there’s reason to believe that we could do away with sin altogether with hard work, focus and determination.  If we can be law-abiding citizens when it comes to traffic laws, why can’t we be law-abiding citizens when it comes to God’s law?  The difference between breaking a traffic law and sinning against God is that one brings to mind a clear framework of consequences, while the other does not.

When we approach a red light we slow down to a full stop, because we know that if we are caught speeding through a red light and breaking a traffic law we will have to pay a fine that we would rather not have to pay.  So we stop.  Sin is different.  While there are specific things God has commanded us not to do, we tend to understand God in one of two ways.  On the one hand, God is love and Jesus forgives us so we say, “Sorry,” and we move on, no harm no foul.  On the other hand, God is outraged with our transgression, but thankfully can be appeased with enough prayers, lit candles, hours at the church or hours reading the Bible.  We say we understand the consequences of sin, but in reality we believe strongly that the terrifying consequence of eternal damnation can be avoided or prevented at the hand of grace or good works.

The biblical representation of sin and the problem of sin is quite different than most of us think.  While we tend to view sin as action the reality is that sin is an identity.  It is not something we do from time to time.  Sin is something we are, what we breathe in and out even in the moments when we feel far from sinful thoughts or actions.  Sin is in us. It is desperately, persistently seeking opportunities to act.

To understand sin in our lives we must understand its origins.  If we look at how sin entered the world we learn two things that help us to understand the echo of sin throughout history and into the present day.  First, sin entered the world as a result of direct disobedience to God’s command and God’s creation.  Second, and more importantly, the act of disobedience was preceded by the belief in a lie: that we know better than God what we should or shouldn’t do, and that while God seeks to merely glorify himself, freedom from God would end our bondage to His laws and allow us to create our own laws and rule according to our own desires.

Looking back to the origin of sin it also becomes clear that the consequences of sin are more comprehensive and expansive than we once thought.  If sin is disobeying God’s commands and creation and deciding to glorify ourselves as opposed to God, sin is not what we “sometimes do.” We sin throughout the day, and the impact  of our sinfulness on others, the world and God is too complex for us to cover up.

Sin is our instinct, and it is a destructive one.  Sin does not multiply peace.  Sin disrupts peace.  Sin destroys peace.  It is vicious.  Sin blinds us to the consequences our actions and thoughts have on those around us in wild self-glorification.  We can’t fix our sinful natures; we need to be rescued from them. The most powerful prayer we can pray is “Lord, save me from myself!”

ASK: 2 Samuel 7

ASK

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This update is from a recent meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

READ 2 SAMUEL 7

The glorification of self is so strong within us that arriving at a place where we can simply worship and glorify God without considering ourselves is perceived as the place in which we have finally arrived. The fight against sin is so intense that to finally be at peace and find joy giving to the Lord more than receiving is often celebrated and in many cases should be. But it is possible to find joy in giving without finding joy in God.

With so much focus placed on worship, we often overlook the danger of it. With sin ever present in our hearts, regardless of our transformation, we are all one step away from committing our lives to yet another idol other than God Himself. This idol can often appear in the form of worship. Although it seems contradictory to be giving our everything to God while simultaneously holding back what he truly desires, this is a common trajectory of the human heart if it is not checked, reset and rechecked by the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus.

Becoming transformed in the image of Jesus will naturally produce a more selfless and generous heart toward God, however, we must never forget His deepest desire. We must never forget that glorifying God in this world must not be rooted in the things of this world. What good is a cathedral that radiates the glory of God in its architectural and artistic magnificence, that will ultimately collapse over time, yet lacks the gospel of Jesus in the lives of its congregants, who are designed for eternity?

While God is worthy of all the splendor of this world we must never forget that as His children from the beginning, he simply desires our homecoming, made possible through faith in His son Jesus. Nothing else. A large financial offering might result from a life transformed by Jesus Christ, but a large financial offering is not the sign of a life transformed by Jesus Christ.

Our greatest offering to God is to desire His vision to see beyond this world, and to desire His heart to be undeterred by the temptations of it. The strength of our offering is measured by our understanding of His strength, not our own. Once we understand His role in our lives and begin to fathom the depth of the Gospel of Jesus, daily committing to His will becomes an offering of more worth than gold. We become the offering, and in this way, we become the delight of the Father and the splendor of his eternal glory.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Samuel 2

Devotional

bible2 Samuel 2:8-32

Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Boshethson of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.

10 Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. 11 The length of time David was king in Hebron over Judah was seven years and six months. 

12 Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side. 14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.”  “All right, let them do it,” Joab said. 15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.[a17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men. 18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“It is,” he answered.

21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”

23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died. 24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill. 26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?” 27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.” 28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the morning hours[b] and came to Mahanaim. 30 Then Joab stopped pursuing Abner and assembled the whole army. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David’s men were found missing. 31 But David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. 32 They took Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.

We fight because we think we are right and someone else is wrong.  We fight because we think we can win and someone else must lose.  We fight because we think that if we win, conflict will be resolved and both parties can move on.  The reality is that when we fight we only deepen old wounds, open new wounds and prolong the healing of already existing wounds.  The result of a fight can only be negative.  The act of fighting is grounded in mistrust, disrespect and pride.  When we fight we are shown to be entirely human.  We also display how little the gospel of Jesus Christ has affected that human nature that led us to fight in the first place.  Our inability to trust one another, respect one another and be wronged by one another gives our sinful state fruitful ground in which to grow strong.  On the other hand, a sign that the gospel has made its way past our enslavement to sin and has infiltrated the depths of our human heart is not only the loss in the value of the fight but a total distaste for it.  Because the nature of the gospel is to heal, those carrying the gospel in the heart have an aversion to all things that have the potential to hurt.  From this perspective no fight is worth the cost: healing becomes the primary interest.