How should we respond to imperfect authority? Are we to obey no matter what? Are we to refuse? And, if so, is there a right way and a wrong way?
Also, what’s wrong with living together? Many people today argue that a marriage license is “just a piece of paper”! What does the Bible really say?
2 Samuel 1 & 2
How to Respond to Imperfect Authority
2 Samuel 1 & 2:
Well, we have passed another milestone, another Old Testament book under our belts. Now we are on to 2 Samuel.
Proper Respect for Authority
In chapter 1 David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, especially Jonathan with whom David had a special covenant relationship. I believe it was Jonathan’s faith in God and sensitivity to what God was doing that led him to make a covenant with David.
We also see Jonathan’s loyalty to his father, although he didn’t allow that loyalty to cause him to sin. Instead, he kept his covenant to protect David. He warned David of the threat against him and spoke the truth to his father, telling him what he was doing was wrong. But in the end he refused to desert his father, even though it cost him his life.
What a beautiful picture of how we should respond to those God has placed in authority over us.
All of us are under authority. Wives are under their husbands’ authority. Children under their parents. Students are under the authority of teachers and administrators. Employees under their bosses and supervisors. We are all under the civil authorities: police men and women, judges, governors, all three branches of our federal government and others. Christians are under the authority of their pastors and elders. And we are all under God’s authority.
Today is April Fool’s Day, a day to have fun and play practical jokes. I’ve carried out a few and been the recipient of even more … all in fun.
But being a true fool is no laughing matter. Biblically, a fool is a man who fails to heed God’s warnings or refuses to live according to God’s wise principles.
Ironically, some who don’t know the Lord believe the opposite. They call us foolish for forgiving those who have hurt us, keeping God’s moral laws, and refusing to lie, cheat, or steal. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be called a fool for God than foolishly living in ways that will be displeasing to God and bring about His discipline.
Well, we are one fourth of the way through the Bible. If you are reading with us regularly, I would love to know how you’re doing.
Whether you are up to date, whether you have fallen behind a time or two, or even if you are a newcomer or occasional visitor, let me know? I’d love to know about your progress. Remember, any time we read God’s Word, it has the power to change our lives.
As a reformed perfectionist there have been so many times in my life that I have not done something because I couldn’t do it perfectly or because I had not started at the beginning, or … (you fill in the blank).
Maybe you’ve found yourself saying, “I’m too far behind. I’ll start over again next year.” But next year is the same. The enemy will see to it. There are always reasons, excuses really, to give up or not start. As the Nike slogan says, “JUST DO IT!” So even if today is your first visit … jump in!
On to His Word …
A Fool for God
Wise or Foolish
Proverbs is a study in contrasts. The fool or the one who is acting foolishly is contrasted with the wise man.
In verse 4 the character qualities compared are the foolish man’s laziness and the diligence of the wise man or woman. Verse 5 compares foolish liars and those who love truth.
Few of us really want to be fools, but we will be foolish by default if we don’t seek to know and understand God’s truth.
Where does wisdom start? Psalm 111.10 says:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”
So wisdom starts with the “fear” of the Lord. This is not a cowering fear, but a reverential respect for the God of the universe and creator of all things.
One way we live out the fear of the Lord is found in the middle of that verse, “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”
Hebrews 5.14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
“Solid food,” the deeper things of God, the wisdom of God, belongs to those who have matured by “reason of use.” The NASB says “practice.” By practicing what we know to do, obeying the commandments as Psalm 111 said, we gain the ability to “discern good and evil”—that is to obtain wisdom.
Deuteronomy 25.5-10 covers the “Law of the Kinsman Redeemer.” The kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who would act on behalf of a widowed woman, usually by marrying her and providing an heir for the deceased.
If you have read the book of Ruth, you see this law lived out in the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. Their beautiful story is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Also, if you remember reading about Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38, you will recall that Judah had promised his youngest son would marry twice widowed Tamar when he was old enough, so this was apparently a common practice even before the law was instituted.
Do you ever find yourself trying to help God out just a little? You believe He’s going to answer some prayer, but you keep trying to figure out how, and pretty soon, you’re trying to orchestrate one of those possibilities. Abram and Sarai had been given a great promise, but years had passed with no answer in sight and they took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, just as it does in our lives, it lead to all kinds of problems and revealed some things about their hearts.
Today, in “Kings, Kingdoms & Functional Gods,” we’ll talk about who or what is really “lord” at that point in time. We’ll also look at how all this relates to worry, how the only way we can stand before God is through “The Multitude of His Mercy” and “His Wisdom for the Upright.”
When God called Abram to leave his homeland, He told him that He would make a great nation from his descendants, But here in chapter 15, Abram is starting to wonder:
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
God patiently reassured him that He would keep His promise.
4 … “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
“He believed God …” We know it was genuine faith because God “accounted it to him for righteousness.” He was saved by his faith just as we are.
So what happened next, after this great, faith-filled conversation with God?
One chapter later … God still hasn’t given them a child, so Sarai comes up with her own solution and Abram goes along with it. She gives her handmaiden Hagar to Abram as his wife so they can get the child they so desperately want. How like us they were! How many times do we complicate our lives by trying to help God out?!
One of the questions I’ve been asked many times about this passage is, “Why did God allow this to happen? And why did He, so frequently, allow the patriarchs in the Old Testament to have multiple wives?”
“Allow” is the key word here. It wasn’t that God wanted them to do so. In fact, you can see in this story and in others, that it always leads to strife and problems of every kind. God doesn’t hide any of that. God’s word, not only reveals the truth about God, but it exposes human nature, even at its worst. God lets us see humankind with all our warts so we can see our desperate need for Him. Continue reading →
Common friends are … well … common. They are ordinary and unexceptional. They are the norm. But uncommon friends … are rare blessings from God! What is the quality of your friendship? Does it focus on what the other person can do for you? Or are you focused on loving others and being a godly friend?
Two of the words used to define “common” are ordinary and unexceptional. But what does an “uncommon” or true friend look like? How does he speak? What are her motives?
Verse 11 says:
“He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.”
This verse reminds me of a book I read many years ago called Uncommon Friends about a man by the name of James Newton who became friends with Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and others because of the quality of his friendship.
What is the quality of your friendship? Does it focus on what the other person can do for you? Or are you focused on loving others and being a godly friend? Do you have “purity of heart” and “grace on your lips”?
Being an uncommon friend doesn’t mean constantly flattering the other person. In fact, Proverbs 27. 6 says the opposite:
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Someone who is “pure in heart” wants the best for his or her friend. Sometimes that means “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4.15). But being “pure in heart” also means being willing to sacrifice for your friend. Sometimes real friendship is inconvenient, but when you love someone, it’s not a burden.
What is the quality of your words to and about your friends? Are they full of God’s grace and mercy? Or are they laced with sarcasm or harshness? Do you speak well of your friends or do you gossip and criticize? Continue reading →
God is a God of mercy and grace, but He is also the Righteous Judge and will one day, possibly soon, begin opening the seven seals of Revelation 6 and unleashing final judgment on all who refuse to repent and turn to Him for forgiveness.
I pray all our Christmas celebrations and shopping are causing us to think more about Christ and not too much about the work and busyness. If not, take time to think about what’s really important!
On to the Word …
Amos 8 & 9:
The One who judges righteously
Amos continues to speak to and warn the people of the Northern Kingdom. In chapter 8.4-6 he rebukes them for their focus on the things of this world instead of worshipping the God who created it all.
Instead of resting and worshipping on the Sabbath and other holy days, they were anxious for them to be over so they could get on with buying and selling and even cheating in the process:
4 Hear this, you who swallow up the needy,
And make the poor of the land fail,
“When will the New Moon be past,
That we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
That we may trade wheat?
Making the ephah small and the shekel large,
Falsifying the scales by deceit,
6 That we may buy the poor for silver,
And the needy for a pair of sandals—
Even sell the bad wheat?”
7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob.
“ Surely I will never forget any of their works.
God, who is a God of mercy, is also a God of justice. Those who have sinned in this life Continue reading →
Today we’ll talk about Jacob and his divine wrestling match, but first, I want to comment on a couple of other passages. In Gen. 31.16-20 and 31.35 we see these two sisters, Jacob’s wives, express belief in God, “… whatever God has said to you, do it.” The next thing we know Rachel has stolen her father’s household gods—idols! It seems so ridiculous that once she knew the truth she could think there was any power in something made by man’s hands! And yet, don’t we come up with our own manmade solutions instead of waiting on and trusting God? Continue reading →
Who needs soap operas and novellas? We’ve got love and rejection; envy and jealousy; scheming and deceit; greed and contention. Reality TV has nothing on this group! If it wasn’t for the love and mercy and patience of God, He might have given up on the human race a long time ago. Instead, He carefully carried out the plan He has had since before the beginning of time—to send His Son to save us from ourselves!
There are so many things we could talk about in these passages. Imagine for a minute that you are Leah. Apparently she didn’t have what it took to be considered beautiful in that culture. Verse 17 says her eyes were “delicate.” They may have been pale, considered a blemish. The NASB says, “And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.” The comparison to Rachel says it all.
I wonder how she felt as the wedding neared, being the older sister and still unmarried. Now imagine the wedding party is going on, the wine is being poured, people are singing and dancing. Imagine how that conversation with her father might have gone.
Dad: “Honey, I’ve got an idea. I haven’t told your mom yet, but since you haven’t been able to attract a man, I’m going to take care of it. I’ll sneak you into the bridal chamber in place of your sister.” Continue reading →
Do you ever find yourself trying to help God out just a little? You believe He’s going to answer some prayer, but you keep trying to figure out how, and pretty soon, you’re trying to orchestrate one of those possibilities.
In chapter 15 Abram asks God about his and Sarai’s lack of children. Remember when God called him to leave his homeland He told Abram that He would make a great nation from his descendants. God reassured him that He would keep His promise. And verse 6 says, “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” “He believed God …” We know this was genuine faith because God “accounted it to him for righteousness.” He was saved by his faith just as we are.