God is a God of the fatherless, especially the thousands and thousands of babies who are killed in their mothers’ wombs every year in our country. He is also the God who restores those who have ended their babies lives, if they turn to Him in genuine repentance. He is the God who loves unborn babies and their parents.
If you have had an abortion or if you are the father of an aborted baby, there is grace and forgiveness. Go to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and restoration.
2 Samuel 21 & 22
God’s Love for Unborn Babies & Their Parents
God of the Fatherless
This psalm of praise says God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows (v. 5). If we have His heart, He desires for us to be His agents in this. One of the greatest opportunities to do so is in defense of unborn babies whose fathers and mothers, while not physically nonexistent, are unable or unwilling to defend them.
I say unable, as well as, unwilling because I understand that there are times when women are coerced into abortions and times when fathers are left out of the decision altogether or unable to stop it.
If you have had an abortion or if you are the father of an aborted baby, there is grace and forgiveness. Go to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and restoration.
I would strongly recommend finding a biblical counselor to help you walk through it or go to someone who does post-abortion counseling. If you live in El Paso, you can contact the Pregnancy & Fatherhood Solutions, but most cities have Christian crisis pregnancy centers. Seek one out.
In chapter 21 we have the story of the seven sons of Saul being executed by the Gibeonites. This is divine justice being carried out, though it hardly seems fair that it would be carried out on the next generation.
One phrase may help us understand why God allowed His justice to be carried out this way:
Verse 1, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house …”
It appears that the violence was not limited to Saul, it may have been a predominant attitude among his descendants, as well, (remember Shimei who cursed David when he fled Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 16.9-12). Continue reading →
Once we were slaves to sin, but now we have not only been forgiven of our sins, but set free from the bondage of sin. Yet many of us live as if we are still slaves to it. Are you living in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the resources God has provided?
Why is a dry crust of bread better than the abundance that many enjoy? And why is the Old Testament still important to us today?
2 Samuel 19 & 20
Are You Living in the Power of the Holy Spirit?
Christ is the Only Way!
There’s so much in this chapter, including another of Jesus’ great “I AM” statements. In this passage He declared Himself to be the Light of the World.
Verse 12, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Verse 24 talks about the sin of unbelief:
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
No one can be good enough to go to heaven apart from believing the Gospel. Christ is the only way!
And a comment about the story of the woman taken in adultery (verses 3-11):
3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
How should we live based on the fact that our sins have been forgiven just as this sinful woman’s were?
God in His grace showed mercy to the sinful woman, not so she could continue in her sin, but that she, like us, could “go and sin no more.” We are not to live righteous lives out of fear of the consequences of breaking the law, but out of gratitude for all we’ve been forgiven!
Romans 5.20-6.2 says, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
Once we were slaves to sin. We have not only been forgiven of our sins, but set free from the bondage of sin. Yet many of us live as if we are still slaves to it. Continue reading →
During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today.
Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting “feet” to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else?
Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn’t working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn’t answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you’ll read today’s post and evaluate where you are.
2 Samuel 17 & 18
5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ
Where are you?
John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible that this passage “catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims.” We still see the same categories today.
First, those who are “convinced” of the truthfulness of His claims—faithful believers.
Verses 40-41a, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.'”
Part of the meaning of the words “faith” and “faithful” includes the idea of “unquestioning belief or loyalty.” The convinced are loyal to Christ.
Second, the “contrary,” those who find something wrong with everything.
Verses 41b-42, “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'”
“Contrary” people are still around. “All the pastor wants is your money.” “Churches are full of hypocrites.” “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men.” And the list goes on.
Third, the “hostile,” we’ve all met them. They don’t just not believe or not agree with you, they are prepared to go on the attack where the things of God are concerned.
Verse 44, “Now some of them wanted to take Him …”
There is a move today in our country, and it’s growing stronger, to make speaking biblical truth a crime. There are those, for instance, who would love to see anyone who speaks out against homosexuality or abortion arrested for what they call hate crimes.
Fourth, are the “confused.”
Verses 45-46, “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!'”
These men had been sent to arrest him, but when they went they didn’t know what to do because they saw something about him they didn’t understand. The Pharisees challenged them by saying, “Are you also deceived?”
Many people are confused today. They’ve seen just enough truth to think there might be something to it, but have not made the choice to believe. Often these people fear man more than God. They may be afraid to speak up or seek out the truth because of what people will think.
Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
Or they’ve heard questions about other religions:
“Don’t all roads lead to God?”
“How could all those Muslims be wrong?”
Or tried to use human reasoning:
“How is it fair that an evil person could get saved on his deathbed?”
“How can the miracles in the Bible be true?”
“But science says …”
“Why would the Bible condemn someone who’s gay when they say they’re born that way?”
There is a fifth group, too, the “religious authorities,” we might call them the “religious establishment.” These people are often more concerned about maintaining their position and authority than in being a true follower of Christ or in seeking biblical truth. These people respond in the complete opposite way from John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3.30).
Many in the religious establishment today are busy trying to stay “relevant.” For years some have ignored the first few chapters of Genesis in favor of a more “enlightened, scientific” view of creation. Others have “evolved” in their views about homosexuality and other politically incorrect issues. Still others refuse to discuss these subjects at all, preferring to teach more palatable things, some lifted out of context like false advertising claims.
Sadly, they can have a profound effect on others. They may put pressure on friends and family members not to leave their religious “tradition,” even though their church has actually left them and biblical truth. Continue reading →
Friendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our critics can be truer friends.
But what about unfair criticism or people who simply attack us? How should we handle it when we believe criticism is unjustified or motives are evil? Can God truly use those situations for good?
2 Samuel 15 & 16
Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & Whispers
2 Samuel 15 & 16:
The Sovereignty of God When People Whisper & Criticize
In these two chapters, we see David’s trust in the sovereignty of God in what must have been two very difficult situations.
First, the broken relationship between him and his son Absalom has lead to bitterness and now rebellion on Absalom’s part. He has been secretly plotting to overthrow his father by deceiving the people. He is now on his way to take Jerusalem.
David gets word and is fleeing the city along with his household and hundreds of his men. When Zadok the Priest joins him, David says:
“Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus. “I have no delight in you,” here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him'” (15.26).
Then in chapter 16, Shimei, one of former King Saul’s descendants, follows David and his men cursing and throwing stones at him. Abishai, one of his generals, offers to take off Shimei’s head! David responds by saying:
“So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ And David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”
Responding to Our Critics
This is a great example of how we should respond to criticism in our lives. Whether or not the criticism is justified, God has allowed it for some purpose. If it’s unfair or ill-intended, we can trust God to deal with it. Continue reading →
We get angry because we want to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for us! We want to control what goes on around us.
When we should be saying, “Lord, how do you want to use this in my life,” and trusting Him, we often allow our “feelings” to take over.
In the two previous posts, we’ve said emotions like anger, sorrow, guilt, depression, etc. are not sinful in and of themselves. It’s what we do with them that makes them sinful or not. And even righteous anger can quickly become sinful by our failure to deal with it biblically.
Anger is not just an emotion. It’s an issue of the heart (Matt. 15.18-20). And when we are angry our tendency, instead of taking responsibility for it, is to make excuses, minimize it, or blame other people or our circumstances.
We’ve touched on them in previous posts, but today, we’re going to talk about the two primary forms of anger and steps to overcoming it.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Handling Anger Biblically – Part 3
We have just wrapped up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you missed it, you can access the lessons here. We’re in a new series “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Today’s post is the third of three on anger.
Over the next couple of months, we’ll also talk about:
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering
I hope you’ll be here each week (post goes live at 5 PM MST on Sundays).
Two Forms of Anger
While there may be variations in the ways we express it, there are two primary forms of sinful anger. The first is “blowing up.”
When we blow up, we frequently yell and scream and use cutting words.
“I hate you!”
“I wish I had never met you!”
“I don’t care what you do!”
A parent who says, “I wish you had never been born.”
Sometimes blowing up involves intimidation.
“You’re going to pay for this!”
“You’ll wish you had never met me!”
We may lose control physically by:
Pushing and Shoving.
Hitting and Punching.
Getting in someone’s Face.
The second way we express sinful anger is by “clamming up.” We put up walls, withhold fellowship and affection, and refuse to deal with issues.
“I’ll just keep it to myself.”
“I’m not going to risk being hurt again.”
Clamming up frequently means giving others the silent treatment. And when the other person asks what’s wrong we say, “Nothing!”
We get focused on ourselves, how we’re suffering, how life is unfair. We play the martyr.
Or we decide we’ll just “get over it.” But it’s like throwing junk in a gunny sack. Eventually, the sack gets too full to carry and the person blows up!
Most of us vacillate between the two.
So, if we know we’re dealing with anger issues of either kind, how do we change? Continue reading →
What did Jesus mean when He said we must “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” Why is it the path to true happiness, peace, satisfaction, and joy? Have you been settling, instead, for something that ends up like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia? Has it left you with nothing but a craving for more of the same?
Also, as David’s story continues to unfold in 2 Samuel, we see the foolishness of thinking we can sin in secret and that our sins won’t affect anyone but us. David had set in motion laws of sowing and reaping and the sad results were happening before his eyes in the lives of his own children. How can this drive us to our knees to pray for God’s wisdom in our own parenting?
2 Samuel 13 & 14
Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums?
The Bread of Life
48 I am the bread of life.49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
What does it mean to “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” In verse 56 Jesus said the one who does so “abides” in Him.
John 15, also, talks about “abiding in Him.”
John 15.9-11 says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
We “eat His flesh and drink His blood” when we allow the “Word of God,” to become as much a part of our being as the food we eat. Food is digested and broken down in our bodies and literally becomes a part of us. So should the Word of God.
Is it truly a part of who you are or just some nice ideas that you consider if you feel like it or if it “seems right to you” as our Proverbs passage today says? The Word of God is not a buffet where we can pick and choose what seems palatable to us or makes us happy.
Our “happiness” is not God’s first concern, rather it’s our holiness! In fact, the “happiness” the world offers is like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia, only an illusion crafted by the deceiver himself.
As today’s Proverbs reading says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16.25).
When we seek happiness in disobedience, the end is death, beginning with our intimacy with God. The next thing we know the yum-yums we desired have vanished only to be replaced by a craving for something that brings no satisfaction.
True happiness, peace and satisfaction is found by “abiding in Him,” in “keeping the commandments,” in “eating His flesh and drinking His blood,” so that His “joy may remain in [us], and that [our] joy may be full.”
God had told David in 2 Samuel 2.11, “‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house …”
David’s sins were adultery and murder. Now his son Ammon has raped his own half-sister and her brother, Absalom, has murdered Ammon and fled for fear.
38 So Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur, and was there three years.39 The heart of King David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead (2 Sam. 13.38-39).
But even though David longed to see his son, he refused to go to him. Only when one of his men interceded did he allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem and, even then, refused to see him for two more years.
I have to wonder what was going through David’s mind. How he must have reflected back on the consequences of his sin and its effect on his family. Perhaps the idea of seeing Absalom was too much to bear. Continue reading →
There is no sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart.
One of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God’s restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart desires. Without that restraining grace, we find that the sin we thought we could control is now controlling us. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”
2 Samuel 11 & 12
The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace
2 Samuel 11 & 12:
David, Bathsheba & the Loss of Restraining Grace
Here in chapter 11 David sees a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop and lustfully sends for her, knowing that her husband, one of his faithful men, is away on the battlefield. When she becomes pregnant, he tries to hide his sin and when his scheme doesn’t work, he orders her husband into the most dangerous part of the battle.
This is a sad page in David’s life story, one that would define and change the rest of his life and his reign. Even though God forgave him when he repented, the consequences of it were great!
Neither is there any sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart. God will not even hear our prayers when we are in that kind of willful sin:
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66.18).
Romans 6.1-2, 15-16, 21, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? … Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”
And Galatians 6.7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to “see what God has to offer him.” That’s understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.
2 Samuel 9 & 10
Why do you follow Jesus?
What’s in it for Me?
Verse 2, “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.”
They didn’t follow Him because they saw their need for spiritual change, but for what He could do for them. Sadly, that hasn’t changed for many people.
God does bless those who love Him, but that should never be our primary motive for serving Him. We are to live our lives to please God out of our desire to bring glory and honor to His name, not with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude.
Chapters 9 & 10 give us a glimpse of David’s heart—first as he showed kindness to Mephibosheth as a way of honoring his covenant with Jonathan and in chapter 10 as he sent representatives to comfort Hanun at the time of his father’s death.
Sadly, David’s gesture toward Hanun was not only rejected, but met with ridicule by Hanun when he shamed and humiliated David’s ambassadors. Should we be surprised when our gestures of peace and kindness are met with rejection? Those in the world often find it hard to believe we don’t have ulterior motives, because of what’s in their own hearts. Continue reading →
Many people today are looking for answers to life’s toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What’s my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.
2 Samuel 7 & 8
Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions
Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places
Verses 39-40, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
The religious leaders studied and debated and memorized the Scriptures, but were blinded to the truths contained in them which pointed to Jesus. Sadly, they didn’t recognize their Messiah when He was right in their midst.
As Americans, we have grown up in a nation where Bibles are everywhere. There is hardly a home without one, yet many of us look for eternal life and the answers to life’s toughest questions everywhere but in the Book of Life!
We try to find eternal life by leaving a legacy or by making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate—both good things to do, but they can’t save us.
Or we seek to live longer and healthier with the help of medical science, as if we can somehow avoid death. Continue reading →
Who is Jesus? A good Teacher? A Prophet? A Good Man? Was He really the Son of God? Or is He a Liar because He claimed to be all these things? More importantly, who is He to you?
2 Samuel 5 & 6
Who is Jesus?
Teacher? Prophet? Good Man? Liar?
So often people who reject the Gospel claim they believe Jesus existed, that He was a good man or a good teacher. They may even call Him a prophet, but they don’t believe He was God. And they refuse to believe Christianity is the only way to heaven.
But you can’t have it both ways!
Either He is who He says He is or He can’t be a good man or a good teacher. He would be a liar, because He clearly said He and the Father are One.
Verses 17-18, “… ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
And, in spite of some popular movies and liberal theologians, He said in John 14.6:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
So, who is Jesus? Or more importantly, who is He to you?
In chapter 6 we have the account of David’s first attempt to bring back the ark. This well-intentioned, but misguided attempt resulted in the death of Uzzah. According to Matthew Henry: Continue reading →