Extreme Grace

2 Samuel 8-9 and 1 Chronicles 18

2 Samuel 9 3 NIV

I somewhat recently took a job as a Residential Counselor at Residential Treatment Facility for youth in the teenage age range. These kids have had severe traumas in their lives and have had terrible things done to them and happen in their lives. Most of them have terribly dysfunctional families that have hurt them in extreme ways. In order to cope and also survive through learned behavior they verbally and sometimes physically abuse staff for reasons as simple as being told “No.” There are times they will use all the ammo on you to try to hurt you or get a rise out of you. This isn’t normal teenage behavior like saying I hate you or You are dumb. Think the worst things that people have ever said to you. Now I want to be super clear that these behaviors are not entirely these kids’ faults. They’ve simply been dealt an unfair hand and do not entirely have the capacity to behave in ways other than this.

One night, I was handling a situation with a kid where other kids had lied to a girl, I will call Ivery, and told her the lie and how I reacted to the situation. In an attempt to advocate for the youth on the unit she proceeded to call me every name under the sun. She called me a pervert. She made fun of me in every way she could think of and then because she knew I had a girlfriend started to say anything to get a rise out of me in that area of my life. Finally, when she was running out of ammunition to get me off kilter, she threatened to kill me, my family and my girlfriend. Now, I knew she couldn’t actually pull that off but it was quite an experience to be threatened like that. I responded as best I could and didn’t try to discuss anything when she was just looking for an argument. After the fact I was definitely hurt that anyone would say those things about me.

I would love to say my next shift I just showed up and loved her and it all went away but those feelings stuck with me longer than I would have liked them to.

2 Samuel 9 is a great example of a man who despite what was done to him didn’t let the actions of other people affect how he treated overs. In this chapter David is looking for someone from the house of Saul to bless on account of Jonathan, Saul’s son. If you remember, this is the same Saul who had chased David through the desert and caves all over Israel seeking to kill him. This wasn’t just a brief period of time. Some scholars imagine this time period to be 7 years!! I can’t imagine what I would feel toward my oppressor after being chased under threat of death for even 3 years. All the same, I feel David’s desire to try to find someone from Saul’s house to bless is an amazing story of forgiveness. I could probably write a whole devotion about that but I want to focus on one particular verse of this awesome story.

In verse 3 David is talking to Saul’s former servant and asks him, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”. This whole line is crazy to me. David is asking and even seeking out someone to bless from the house of Saul. I’ll be honest, most my kindness doesn’t go past the people I interact with. It stays in my world. I am not seeking out people that I can bless.

Let alone am I seeking out people from the family of the man who had just tried to kill me for 7 years and literally only by his death could I return to my home country. But that is David, the man after God’s own heart. This is extreme grace, thoughtfulness and care that he would go out of his way to search out a man from Saul’s house to bless.

The phrase “that I may show the kindness of God to him?” says once again so much about David and how he viewed everything. David releases in this simple phrase any form of ownership to how he was going to bless Saul’s relative. He points it directly back to God. He didn’t try to take the credit and say look at my kindness to my enemy. He identifies back to God.

This line continues to show just how much David acknowledged the fact that what he had wasn’t his. He lived in continual recognition that what he had been given to him was by God. He acknowledges his forgiveness isn’t from himself. His kindness isn’t his. His life isn’t his. His kingdom isn’t his. It is God’s.

He viewed the world not “how can I be kind to people” but rather “how can I show God’s kindness to others.” While the difference is oh so subtle, one is making our good deeds about us and the other is pointing the kindness back to God. David recognized as a servant to God it was no longer him doing it. It wasn’t his resources that he was using to bless this descendent of his enemy it was God’s that he was temporarily in possession of.

Now, in the same way I had the opportunity to show God’s kindness to Ivery the next day by overwhelming her with love or by showing her kindness. Don’t let opportunities slip by in your own life to give away something that isn’t ours. Rather, give away what God has given you to give away.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+8-9%2C+1+Chronicles+18&version=NIV

Tomorrow we return to the Psalms (50,53,60,75) as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Confess

Leviticus 5-7

Leviticus 5 5 NIV

Confession – yesterday we talked about Christ’s sacrifice replacing the Old Testament offerings. I also mentioned how we often take for granted the fact we no longer have to make the sacrifices. In those sacrifices, it was just that, a sacrifice – the people had to give something that they could have enjoyed because of their sin.

Even though there was a loss, the people had no clear way to alleviate the weight of guilt and find forgiveness in their lives. God has provided another way to help with that – Confession.

Confession is something that is hard to do. Many lie, deny and push blame on others just to avoid confessing. It is something that God asks of us not for his benefit but for ours. I remember being told often as a kid the only way to fix a problem  is to realize there is one. And that is what confession is.

Further, confession gives a proper view on sin, God and ourselves.

The punishment for sin is death – we need a proper view of sin. I have often heard of people talk about their sin as “Not that big of a deal.” Sin is just that, SIN. If it is wrong, we shouldn’t do it. Sin that is not confessed and not repented of leads to missing out on the Kingdom.

God cannot be in the presence of sin – we need a proper view of God. Our God is a holy God. He expects purity not just in our actions but also our hearts. (Matt. 5:8 says the pure heart will see God.)

We cannot do it on our own – we need a proper view of ourselves. We often try to fix our problems on our own. Sin is not something we can fix on our own or earn enough to repay the debt. We need a savior and Christ is willing to step in on our behalf.

A couple tips on confession:

Confess immediately – when you know you have done something wrong do not push it off. It is easy to push it off.

Confess specifically – I hear a lot of prayer that vaguely ask for all sins to be forgiven. Make it personal and specific.

Confess honestly – Take it serious and do not make promises you know you will not keep.

Confess to someone else – this is something I push in the church. For some reason people are afraid of letting others know about their sin. Most will acknowledge they are a sinner but would never discuss their struggles for fear of other’s judgement. Find someone you trust and create an open discussion and ask for accountability.

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+5-7&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Perfect Sacrifice

Leviticus 1-4

Leviticus 4 35b NIV

In the first few chapters of the book of Leviticus, we see 5 different types of offerings. God had already redeemed the Nation of Israel; the offerings were God’s way of providing the people an opportunity to regain and keep fellowship with Him.

Fortunately for believers today, we no longer need to keep up with these. For a deeper dig check out Hebrews 10.  Quick summary: Christ’s sacrifice covered it.

I assume most appreciate Christ’s sacrifice but I bet most also take it for granted. Imagine having to make a sacrifice each time we sinned. Instead, we can thank God for his offering. He gave his son so that all can retain and keep fellowship with him. A single sacrifice once for all.

A super quick summary of the 5 offerings:

Burnt offering – the worshipper would bring an animal sacrifice that atoned sin.

Grain offering – an offering that is a response to God’s grace. Part of the best of the worshipper’s produce.

Peace offering – a free will offering that was optional – but above and beyond what was expected.

Purification offering – this was asking for forgiveness for unknown sins or sins of ignorance. It was a way to keep the tabernacle from human defilement.

Guilt offering – this was an attempt to repair the damage done for the sins committed. Not just forgiveness but also restoration.

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+1-4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 5-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Forgiveness

Genesis 32-34

Genesis 33 4 NIV

Today we are going to look at what happened when Jacob and Esau finally meet again. If you remember the last time the two brothers were together was back in Genesis 27. Whatever city they were in it definitely wasn’t Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Jacob’s mother actually has to tell Jacob to run away to another land because Esau, his brother, is trying to kill him. Probably Esau rightfully felt these things because Jacob stole his father’s blessing from him and also extorted his birthright. I could imagine having a little bit of hostility towards a brother who did these things to me as well. Luckily, Jacob’s mama gets involved and sends him away to her brother where he was able to get married and prosper.

I can’t imagine the hostility that lay between these two brothers. Some of us are slightly more dramatically than others of us but we have heard people use phrases like, “They ruined my life”. Now I’m not saying that they didn’t but they probably didn’t do it like Jacob did to Esau. Jacob literally took away Esau’s inheritance from him for a bowl of soup. That better have been like some lobster bisque. On top of that while Esau was out hunting for an animal to make his father a nice stew Jacob and his mother went the easy route and took one of the animals from the flock and made their father a stew and stole Esau’s birthright. I couldn’t imagine doing all the work of hunting an animal just to see that your brother took one from the herd and used it to steal your birthright. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Imagine having all that happen and how you would feel if you ever saw your brother again. I am not sure about you but I would be expecting the best apology in the world. I’m not really sure what all would be included in that apology but at the very least I’m thinking something like a sky writing plane writing, “I’m sorry. You are awesome.” Maybe then I could possibly forgive them if they included like season passes to my favorite ski mountain. Let’s take a look at how the incident actually plays out in the Bible. You should go read the entire chapter of Genesis 33 but since I cannot put the entire chapter in this devotion. I will settle for one verse.

 

Genesis 33.4 “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

 

Esau had twenty years to stew over how wrong Jacob had done him but instead of holding in all that hostility, anger and rage he chose to do something absolutely crazy. HE FORGAVE HIM. His reaction to seeing his brother is profound. He didn’t even just walk up and shake his hand. It says he ran to him, like children would when they see their father coming home from work. He embraced him, fell on him and kissed him. That’s love and forgiveness and all the stuff I want in my life.

I have things in my life that are as small as people have told lies about me and have said negative things about my character that I have a hard time letting go of and forgiving them for. But Esau, literally the leader of a non-Israelite nation, had way more forgiveness than I do.

Colossians 3.13 says, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” This verse can seem kind of abstract and not practical. For me personally, when I see an example of how this is played out in real life like what happened with Jacob and Esau it raises the bar. It shows me my failure to fully attain to the level of Christianity that I want to be at; which is to live like Christ.

So how do you forgive somebody after something like what happened to Esau. I don’t think it is in our nature to. I think we need to bring it to God. I know that there are things that I wasn’t ready to forgive people for, my heart isn’t ready for and it still clings to the hurt. I think the only way to handle those types of situations is to bring it to God in prayer and ask something like, “God, please help me forgive this person and love them despite what they did to me.” Sometimes we just need to release that charge against them in our minds and tell ourselves, “I am not going to hold that against them.”

I hope that this helps any of you that are struggling in this way. I hope that we can all release that resentment we have and forgive each other fully.

 

Daniel Wall

 

To read or listen to today’s Bible reading you can check out Bible Gateway at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+32-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 35-37 in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Love!

1 Peter 4 8 NLT

 

“The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them to serve one another.” – 1 Peter 4:7-10

 

We are told by Jesus that the greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God… [and] love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31) We are also told by Paul that if we don’t operate out of love, “it profits [us] nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) Love, without a doubt, is the defining characteristic of someone who has been saved by Jesus Christ (see John 13:35). However, what does this “love” look like? Is it merely something we say to each other, or is it something much greater?

 

This passage in 1 Peter 4 has been my crutch throughout my brief time in ministry. I am absolutely thankful to my mentor in ministry for showing me this passage, as it has helped me through years of hard times and heartbreak. For all of us, there will come times when we say or do the wrong thing and upset someone that is near to us. It is in love that those wounds can be mended and a relationship restored. As my mentor taught me, “You will mess up eventually. The difference is in whether or not they know you love them. If you show love for those people, they will forgive you. If they don’t know you love them, that relationship may never be restored.”

 

Love is an action; it is something that is shown to others through deed, not just word. Love is something that is felt and seen, not simply something that is heard. You need to show love to others in order for it to be real. Sometimes it is as simple as showing up to a graduation ceremony or taking someone out for a meal, or as difficult as forgiving an individual for a serious sin against you. Love can be shown in a variety of ways, but still needs to be shown, not just said.

 

How will you show love to others around you today? This week? This year? Is there someone who needs a phone call or a comforting shoulder to cry on? Is there someone who needs a roof over their head, or a meal in their stomach, that you can help provide? What are you willing to do to show love?

 

Talon Paul

 

We are preparing to Seek Grow and Love in 2020 with a chronological Bible reading plan.  Now is a great time to download and print your plan  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan and subscribe to SeekGrowLove.com to receive daily devotions based on each day’s Bible reading.  Show your love for your Heavenly Father by reading His love letter to you.

Never Too Messy for God

INTRODUCTION to PROVERBS

1 Chronicles 22 9

Solomon, who is he and why should I know that name?  First, let’s review the salacious story that led up to the birth of Solomon.  It was Spring, a time when most of the kings in the land would go to battle, due to favorable weather conditions and plentiful food.  However, King David, decided for whatever reason to send his soldiers out to battle, but he himself stayed back in Jerusalem, which certainly went against the warrior king’s typical protocol.  On one of these fine Spring evenings, King David took a walk out on his roof top. As he was strolling around he gazed upon a beautiful woman bathing.  David inquired who the gorgeous bathing beauty was, and was told she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.  King David invited Bathsheba to join him in his bedroom….which lead to…..can you guess?  I’ll give you a hint.  A short time later Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant, with his child.

Upon hearing that Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, King David twice tried to convince Uriah, one of his fiercest warriors, to come home to be with his wife, hoping it would appear that Bathsheba had gotten pregnant by Uriah.  When both of those initial plans failed, David concocted an even more sinister scheme, this time to have Uriah killed.  King David ordered that Uriah be sent to the front line of the fiercest battle, and then instructed that the rest of the soldiers fall back, leaving Uriah alone to face the enemy.  Just as planned, Uriah met his untimely death in the battle that ensued. Following Uriah’s death, Bathsheba moved into David’s home and became his wife.

Not surprisingly, God was very displeased with David for taking Uriah’s wife and then sending him out to die.  David had to face the consequences of his sins.

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you (David) king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms.  I gave you all Israel and Judah.  And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?  You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.  You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now, there, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’  This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you.  Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.  You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” (2 Samuel 12:7-12)

After God delivered this message to David the child born to David and Bathsheba became ill.  David was full of remorse and pleaded with God for forgiveness and for his son’s life.  God forgave David, but his first son with Bathsheba died.

David and Bathsheba had a second son, and they named him Solomon.  Solomon means peaceful.  Solomon went on to become King and his reign was one of peace as foretold in I Chronicles 22:9, “But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side.  His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father.  And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” God loved Solomon and told the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah, which means beloved of Jehovah.

There may be consequences to pay for your sins, but if you seek forgiveness God can still work through your “mess” to accomplish great things. After all, from David and Bathsheba came Solomon.

-Jill McClain

 

(If you’ve been reading with us all year you know we have been working on reading and discussing one chapter of the New Testament everyday – with some FREE THEME days added in to round out the 365 days.  For the month of October we will be reading one chapter of Proverbs a day – the 1st chapter on the 1st of October, 2nd chapter on the 2nd, etc…  It’s a great book to help us all gain a lot of wisdom.  Then, in November we will cover the book of Revelation, and finish off the year with the last gospel we saved for December: Luke.  Keep reading His Word!)

Some observations from 1 John, chapter 2

1 John 2 1

“From the beginning…”

 

The phrase “from the beginning” which was used in the first verse of the book (1 John 1:1), is used 5 more times in chapter 2. In John 1:1 “that which was from the beginning” was that which they had heard, seen and touched, “the word of life”. This “beginning” refers to Jesus the Messiah and his ministry on earth communicating God’s word, not to the beginning at creation. The occurrences of “from the beginning” in chapter 2 are verses 7, 13, 14, and 24 (two times). It is important to keep in mind that “from/in the beginning” in the Scriptures does not always refer to the Genesis creation.

 

Context must help determine which “beginning” is meant. For instance, in the Gospel of John, the phrase “from the beginning” does not usually refer to the creation, but to Jesus ministry on earth. Note these references:

  • “For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him” (John 6:65)
  • “So they said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning’” (John 8:25).
  • “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you” (John 16:24).
  • “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (15:27).

In each case mentioned above, from the beginning means the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

With only two exceptions (John 8:44 and 1 John 3:8 which refer to the devil) “from the beginning” in the Gospel of John and in the Epistles of John (1 John 1:1; 2:7, 13, 14, 24; 3:11 and 2 John 1:5-6) refers to the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. This may help us understand “In the beginning…” of John 1:1. Some One God believers see John 1:1 as a reference to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Similarly, Luke mentioned “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2). Mark 1:1 mentions “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.”

 

“My little children”

 

Several times the writer refers to those whom he writes as “my little children” or “children” (2:1, 12, 18, 28). This should not be understood as if the writer is derogatorily chastising his listeners for being immature. Rather, these references should be understood as a terms of endearment and care, just as when he calls his listeners “beloved” (1 John 2:7, 3:2, 21, 4:1, 7, 11). As children of God (3:1-2), those that believe that Jesus is the Christ are a family, brothers and sisters, who must love one another (5:1).

 

An Advocate with the Father

 

The writer explains that we do sin, but there is a path to forgiveness (1 John 1:8-10). He writes to us “so that we may not sin, but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Jesus is our advocate, like a lawyer on our side. This should give us great encouragement. Jesus is the honest, righteous lawyer on our side. He is for us. As an expert lawyer, Jesus knows the rules. He knows how to take our case before the Father. He has access to the Father and successfully intercedes for us (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5 and Hebrews 8:1).

 

We lived in Israel and all our children were born there. Most countries do not grant citizenship to foreign children by virtue of being born in the country. Two of our young adult children applied to become citizens in Israel. They were denied several times over three years. However, not long ago a lawyer, an advocate, took up their case and presto, my children received their citizenship. The lawyer knew the rules, had the connections, authority and knowledge on how to present my children’s case, and succeeded. Jesus is our expert, righteous, successful advocate before the Father.

 

“Do not love the world…”

 

The author’s admonition to “not love the world or things of the world” are perhaps the best known verses of chapter 2 (vs. 15-17). He defines what “loving the world” is: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. It is a love of the way of the world, or of this world’s system. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have an appreciation for the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation, the work of God’s hands, which is “very good” (Gen. 1:31). After all we wait for the regeneration of this world, and indeed the regeneration of this world’s system (Matt. 19:28, Heb. 2:5).

 

“The last hour”  and “anti-christs”

The author says it is the last hour. What a long hour it has been! He knows that it is the last hour since many anti-christs had already come. Specifically, here he says that the anti-Christ (anti-Messiah) is anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah). The text does not say, as many traditional trinitarian Christians say, that the anti-Messiah is anyone who denies that God is the Messiah, or that the Messiah pre-existed as God. Rather, the text says that the anti-Messiah is anyone who denies that Jesus, the man Jesus, is the Messiah. “Christ” (Messiah) is never a title for God himself.

 

Of these anti-christs, the author says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us…” (1 John 2:19). It is easy to see how a text like this could be mis-interpreted and mis-applied. Especially as centuries passed, anyone could use the text to condemn any kind of a reformer. For instance, Catholics could apply it against Protestants.  Today it is leveled against anyone who denies that Jesus is God. But in its original context it was directed against anyone who denied that the man Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).

 

The promise of God – eternal life

1 John 2:25 says that God has promised us eternal life (immortal life in the age to come). We can take comfort and joy that God is pretty good at keeping His promises.

 

Having confidence, and not shrinking back in shame

 

1 John 2:28 says that if we abide in Jesus, that is, live according to knowledge of who he is, we can have confidence so that when he appears, at his coming, we won’t shrink back in shame. Since we know who Jesus is — the Messiah of God the Father, risen from the dead, exalted to God’s right hand, appointed to rule the world, we can look forward to his return. There is a similar admonition in Hebrews 10:39: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.”

-Bill Schlegel