Ever disagree with the leader?
Ever want to curse someone?
Ever been cursed by someone?
Ever been in a position to carry out revenge?
Whether yes or no, we can be tempted to do what feels good at the moment, but is ungodly.
This biblical account gives us something to think about. Some background first. The account begins with David and Bathsheba's sin of adultery together. Then the sin of Amnon against his sister Tamar. Her brother Absalom, then plots Amnon's murder. After which Absalom declares himself king. This forces King David to leave Jerusalem for safety during the rebellion. Here is one key passage ...
2 Samuel 16:5-8 ... As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul's family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king's officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David's right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, "Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!"
When someone is down, defeated, or feels that way, it is amazing how cruel we can be by surrendering to the temptation of just piling on. Social media makes this very easy to do. insult upon insult. When does it stop?
It stops when one chooses to just let it go. To walk away.
Take this advice and walk away. Put down the phone. Shut off the tablet. Go outside and relax. Do something fun with people you can see and have contact with.
Now later David returns as Absalom is killed in battle. This is the key passage ...
2 Samuel 19:18-23 ... They crossed at the ford to take the king's household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king and said to him, "May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king."
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, "Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD's anointed."
David replied, "What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? This day you have become my adversaries! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?" So the king said to Shimei, "You shall not die." And the king promised him on oath.
Now this is interesting. The same guy, Shimei, who cursed David and was gleeful at his fleeing, is not falling down on his face before the king, begging to be forgiven.
Imagine what David could do ... but David does none of that. He could seek out revenge. He could just kill him. He could torture him. You name it he could do it. But he does not.
David chooses to let it go. He moves on. He swears an oath that Shimei will live. Which means no revenge. It means he is forgiven.
Is that what you would do?
I ask you: Is life precious?
Most if not nearly all of us would say, "Yes. It is." If our life were threatened we would do what we could to save it. And if a parent, child, spouse, or even a stranger were in harms way most of us would do something if we could to help. We know life is sacred. We know life is precious. It is hard wired into us. Life is to be protected.
This is why I am confused and brokenhearted. Some people who desire to love are living adamantly support the position that an unborn child can be aborted. Killed. And this is OK?
Shouldn't the life of an unborn child be protected just like our lives are protected?
If you've paid attention to the language used by proponents of abortion, you would notice they never refer to the unborn child as a "baby". Instead they choose the word "fetus". Thus the deception lives the unborn child is not yet human.
But is this true?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, a child of God, can I know what my Heavenly Father says regarding person-hood? Do I know when a child ... born or unborn ... becomes a person? With full rights and protections? Can I know what God's thoughts are on this? The answer is a resounding yes.
Exodus 21:22 ... "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life ..."
Here is the Situation: Men are fighting, and one hits a pregnant woman causing her to go into labor.
Result 1: The baby is born and is OK. No injury. All is well. But a fine is levied as punishment for the assault.
Result 2: The baby is injured or dies. The punishment shall equal the injury including life for life.
Conclusion: The unborn child is given the same rights and protections as an adult outside the womb. To My Heavenly Father, the unborn child is a person and must be treated as such.
Any who say they love God, and love Jesus, must support and defend life from the beginning at conception to the end at death.
As children of God, let us defend and protect all life: adult, children, and unborn children to the glory and honor of the Living God. May His name be praised.
When reading the latest breaking news, one can get lulled into a mode of "man, this world is hopeless" kind of thinking. But is it? No. All Christians know it is not. But when reading the news, how do we interpret it? Here are some of my interpretations:
1) This first news item is this: "Long Umbrella thought to be Gun leads to School Lock Down." This occurred in Vermont. Someone saw another person carrying what was thought could be a long gun near the school. So the school went into full lock down. They found the person and discovered he was only carrying a long umbrella. Yes, it is better to be safe than sorry. And when it comes to school safety we must take every threat seriously. Every life is precious and must be protected. This is universally agreed upon by all people. How we do that is not agreed upon, but keeping our kids safe? We must keep them safe.
Physically we do that. But what about spiritually?
The Bible teaches us that salvation is a "gift from God" (Eph 2:8-9) and not of ourselves. It speaks of believing in and receiving the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord to become a child of God (John 1:12) and that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved (John 3:16 and Acts 4:12). We are aware of the physical dangers within our world, and aim to protect our children from them. Which is what we should do.
But what are we as Christian parents doing to protect our children spiritually? Our school have fire drills and intruder drills during the year. Some have metal detectors. Others have armed guards. We want to protect our kids from harm. And this good. We should want to protect them from evil in their 80 plus years of life on this earth. But what are we doing for their eternity? Are they training to live like Jesus? To think like Jesus? To make decisions like Jesus? To have faith like Jesus?
Romans 8:29 ... "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son ... "
2) The second news item is the death of John McCain. I do not have a specific link to any one article, as there are too many to list. I am sure you have heard and read about how he is an American "Hero. " He served in Vietnam, suffered as a POW for several years, and then served for many years as a Senator from Arizona.
Sometimes it seems like the word hero is thrown around a little too carelessly or quickly. So, upon hearing this of John McCain, it seems like a good time to consider, what does the Bible have to say about a "hero"?
John 15:13 ... "Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." Jesus is of course the ultimate example of this love, and I would say with great confidence is a hero (beyond hero actually, but you get the idea).
McCain served in Vietnam in defense of the South Vietnamese people in attempting to stop the takeover of the nation by the Communist government of the North. Sadly, we were not successful. This led to much suffering. McCain willingly put his life in harms way to try and help the people of South Vietnam. No, he did not die. But he suffered freely. Not that he wanted to suffer. But he was willing to put himself in that position.
I think that falls under the definition of hero.
But we must not forget, no matter how great a hero, we all need the greatest who laid His life down to save us from our sin. McCain can rightfully be called an American hero, but don't forget he needed Jesus too. Jesus is the one we all need. Without Him there is no salvation; no forgiveness; no life, no hope. Jesus is the ultimate "hero," or better, Savior and Lord.
After leading the Israelites into the desert, his father in law came to meet him. Moses and he met in a tent and talked. In Exodus 18:8 we read:
“Moses told his father in law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way … “
This feels and sounds VERY familiar, doesn’t it? Sharing our hardships with people? Yes, that is common and almost expected. We all go through them, and it seemingly like to share them with others. Perhaps it makes us feel better to talk about it, to feel like someone else cares about it, and to simply here that others go through similar struggles.
But for Moses this rest of the verse is as follows …
“… and how the LORD had saved them.”
Now this is profound. Moses shared the hardships. I get that. I do that. But then he also shared how the LORD rescued them from those hardships. Do I share how God rescues me from the hardships? What an opportunity to be a witness for the LORD! All I have to do is add to the litany of struggles is, “And this is what the LORD did to get me out of those hardships …”
When I think about this passage, it is intriguing on a few points:
In many ways this reminds me of Psalm 23:4 … “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me …”
The LORD will walk with us through the hardships and the wonderful times. He will not leave us. He will rescue us. And now all we need to do is share how He did it or us.
The following passage, listed below, from Exodus 15:22-25 is a surprising passage. The Israelite people have been walking in the desert/wilderness for three days. It is an arid land, with limited water resources. A million or more people and very little water over three days is a potential crisis in the making. But praise God they find a oasis or spring of some kind.
You could probably hear the rejoicing among the thirsty people: 'Water! We found water!'
But then it is tasted. It is horrible. Bitter. Disgusting. Makes one sick to their stomach. Now what? No water for days, and then the only water that is found you cannot drink it! So, the people do what most people do, including you and I ... complain.
The people complained to Moses. Moses complained to God. And God showed him what? A piece of wood.
Yes. A piece of wood.
What good is that? How is a piece of wood, that is dirty, dry rotted or petrified, going to help the water situation? This makes no sense at all: "We need water. Not an old dead piece of wood!"
But Moses in his faith, trusted the Lord and took that piece of wood and threw it into the water. And then tasted he the water.
It was sweet.
This is shocking. God showed Moses what to do. It made no sense to him or anyone else, but it is what God wanted done. And the result was great.
God does ask us me to do some things that make no sense to us from a human perspective: forgiving my neighbor for the 15th time, befriending one who treats me like dirt, being patient with a coworker who is so undeserving, giving someone a second chance for the fifth time, or giving God 10% of my income. And I could go on and on.
Humanly, it may not make sense, but God knows exactly what He is doing. Let Him work. Trust Him. Leave the results to Him, which will turn good or even great.
"When Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?" Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet."
It is hard to listen to the news most days: murders, assaults, gas attacks, knife attacks, bombings, accidents ... and it goes on and on. One bad to horrible item after another. Mixed in amidst all the death are stories of corruption, theft, unfaithfulness, social media disparaging of one another ... and it too goes on and on. Endless drama.
How does one keep his head above the fray?
Since you are like me, you'd probably love to put a stop to it. Or dream of having the perfect answer to just shut some people up. Or to see justice happen swiftly. Instead of taking the latest school shooter to trial, speed up his execution. We all know he is guilty. There is no doubt. Why wait?
I imagine as one reads about the Israelites being enslaved by Pharaoh, that they wanted God to punish the Egyptian nation for their brutal enslavement. Not tomorrow ... but today. Why wait? Destroy them now. Especially when Moses came and said God would rescue them. Why wait to punish them, do it now!
The thoughts of revolting and enacting vengeance might have been whispered in the mud pits, construction sites, and late meals at home by the fire. Dreams of crushing the oppressors may have filled their hearts and minds as time slowly marched on.
Hope seemed real, when Moses came and confronted Pharaoh, telling him to let the people go. But the only result was that the work conditions got even worse for Israel. And when this happened, they were angry with Moses and wished God would judge him! (Exodus 5:19-21).
Afterward the ten plagues began to fall upon Egypt, one at a time, and only after a warning was given: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and then finally the first born. This was probably not the way the Israelite people wanted to judge Egypt, but it was God's way. A way that revealed Himself to Egypt. No one could possibly do what the plagues did. They were only possibly by divine supernatural power originating from the One true Living God: "I AM" (YAHWEH).
In one final act of judgement, God destroyed Pharaoh's army by drowning them in the Red Sea, as they tried to follow the people of Israel. The Lord's purpose was so "the Egyptians would know that I am the Lord, when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen (Ex 14:18)."
God is our Judge, but He wants people to know that He is LORD, so they can come to know Him, and turn from the error or their rebellious sin-filled ways. He is our sovereign Judge, but also our Loving Father who desires that all would be saved and that none would perish.
Did the plan work? Yes.
Exodus 9:20 tells us that officials of Pharaoh that feared the word of the Lord went out and brought their livestock and servants inside to protect them from the coming plague of hail. And Exodus 12:38 tells us that many other people left Egypt with Israel. Many other people would include a large number of Egyptians, perhaps even some of those officials who feared the word of the Lord.
Whenever we are tempted to wish for swift revenge, or judgment, maybe we should hesitate and let God take care of it (directly by his hand or through people). He'll do it in a fair and equitable way, but also in a way that gives the opportunity for one to turn away from their old life of sin and embrace a new life by receiving and believing on the name of Jesus as LORD and Savior.
There were many plagues that God sent against Egypt. It was a form of judgment, as they were abusing his people, Israel, as slaves. They were brutally treated and the Lord, through Moses, asked Pharaoh to let the people go. He refused. So, God judged the land with powerful, destructive plagues (against other so-called gods of Egypt, showing there is One God, not many gods).
In chapter 9, after the plague of hail. Pharaoh said he was wrong. He had sinned. He would let the people go. Moses prayed, and the hail stopped. But when it stopped Pharaoh sinned again and hardened his heart and would not let them go.
When we suffer, we often cry out to God. Perhaps, even question Him, “Where are You?” We may say we are sorry and will not do this again. Almost like a bargain: “If You relieve the suffering, I will obey You.”
But what happens when the suffering ends? And things get better? How often do we forget our bargain, and simply keep living as we had before?
Pharaoh’s lack of repentance caused great suffering for those around him. How much suffering do you and I cause those around us when we do not repent of our sin against God?
Lesson One … Equipped to do what God asks
How many excuses do you and I offer to not WITNESS to others about the Good News of Jesus Christ? We can learn a lot from Moses …
How many times have you and I offered similar thoughts and posed similar questions to God? More times than I can remember, I suppose. Yet, when I read about Moses, every time, he objected, God had an answer already prepared. The Lord God knew how Moses felt, what he needed, and then He provided for each need. So that, despite all the objections, Moses did go and would became a great man of God.
What can the Lord do with me? With you?
Our nation is once again grieving in shock over a mass shooting. This time 59 died and 527 were wounded. It was a pure act of evil. Satan is dancing at the death and destruction he wrought through a willing man. God is grieving as we all are. He has provided the answer for this evil. For all evil. An answer so obvious most miss it.
The Answer is too simple. Too straight forward. It is rejected. Repeatedly. Yet, government laws haven’t stopped mass murders. Increased police presence hasn’t stopped mass murders. Preaching tolerance in our schools hasn’t stopped mass murders. Yet, we call for more. More security. More police. More laws. More education.
All the while avoiding the obvious: We are innately evil. We need help from God above to be made righteous. To become pure.
How long will we wallow in this sea of death before we wake up and gaze toward heaven and receive God’s help? The evidence of our need for help is everywhere.
The number one movie in America over the past month has grossed nearly $300 million in ticket sales. This movie is rated R in the genre of horror. Within this movie, one finds (according to reviewers):
This is entertainment.
This is what we watch for fun.
To relax and unwind.
It is the enjoyment of our life.
Violence. Death. Mutilation. Blood. Gore. We watch it. We pay to own it. We play it as a game. We show it to our kids. And laugh. That was a good movie.
But then the movie becomes reality. A man possessed by evil simply unloads thousands of bullets on a crowd of music concert goers. He pours blood everywhere. He might have even smiled while doing it. People scream in terror. The smell of death is everywhere. Horror reigns. And we are shocked as the movie comes to life.
We are surely conflicted. And we are dying because of it.
God teaches us …
How long until we turn to God and receive His help? How long before we receive and believe in the name of Jesus Christ? The One who can change our heart? Our mind? Our soul?
How long America? How long will it take before we recognize we need God to create in us a pure heart?
What do you think? How has Harvey changed your life? Or hasn't he changed it?
If you are like millions of Americans, the images of the people, the water, the suffering, and the rescues are stunning and shocking. It seems unfathomable that an area from Houston to Beaumont/Port Arthur could receive over 40" of rain in 5 days. That is what we average for a whole year! It is shocking.
So is this the "greatest flood" in US history? No one will really know. It is hyperbole. Perhaps it is true. But then again our memories may be failing us. Take a look below.
These floods are from 1936, 1921, 1999, 1997, 1951, and 1993 respectively. They were all major and significant. All caused billions of dollars worth of damage (in terms of 2017 dollars) and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Which was the biggest? To be blunt: does it really matter? They were all catastrophic and caused much suffering, and loss of life.
As a young child, Easter was a time to celebrate the coming of spring, green grass, daffodils, and tulips. A time of leaving winter cold and snow behind, and embracing the increasing warmth as the sun rises higher in the sky.
Easter was always a time of dressing up, coloring eggs, attending special services with our church family on Good Friday and Easter Morning. And in the afternoon, we would enjoy a hearty meal with my grandparents. The highlight of the day was three-fold: waking up to find my 4’ giant blowup bunny staring at me in my room, finding hidden eggs and discovering a basket filled with surprises sitting at my place at the table. I loved it. It was Easter.
I knew Easter was really about Jesus rising from the dead. I understood that fact. I believed that fact. But the bunny, the eggs and the basket of gifts made it fun!
There is, however, one thing that was rarely talked about: Jesus being the Bread of Life.
Yes, I partook of Communion as I got older, understanding that Jesus gave His body to die for my sin, and that His blood was shed, so I could be forgiven and the wrath of God be satisfied. All I needed to do was believe and receive Him as Lord and Savior. It was understood that to be forgiven I also needed to repent: say I’m sorry to God. He is right and I was wrong. But, Jesus being the Bread of Life? I heard about it. Never really focused on it. Until a few years ago.
Bread is a very simple, basic staple of life. Most if not all of us have some bread in our homes somewhere; the freezer, the cupboard, or the refrigerator. But if I don’t eat it, it serves no purpose. For bread to be advantageous, I must eat it, digest it, internalize it. It must become a part of me.
Same with the Bible.
If I read the Bible and simple admire the teaching, yet don’t do what it says, what good is my reading of it? For it to be advantageous to me, I must read it and do what it says: Place my faith in Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior and follow Him daily.
Bread, like most any other food, is beneficial, when eaten. It gives us the strength and energy that we need to live.
Same with Jesus.
He gives us what we need to live eternally. He is our sustainer. We “feed” from Jesus.
Eating food, whether bread or something else, is something that is personal. You cannot eat for me, and I cannot eat for you. Each of us must eat to nourish our body. If I don’t eat, I will starve to death.
Same with Jesus.
If I want to be saved from my sin, and spend eternity in Heaven with God, then I must choose to believe in the name of Jesus as LORD and Savior of my life. One cannot be saved on the coattails of another. I must choose. You must choose. Everyone must choose. If I do not place my faith in Him as Lord and Savior, I will starve in terms of eternal life, and die a death of eternal separation from God. An eternity spent in Hell.
This is some of what Jesus meant when He said He was the Bread of Life (See Matt 26:28; Acts 5:30-31; 10:43; Eph. 4:32; John 14:6; 1 Peter 3:18 and John 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 17:2; 1 John 5:11-12 for more insight).
The Resurrection on that Sun morning, proved that what Jesus taught was true. He is the Bread of Life that came from Heaven and he/she who eats of this bread will live and not die.
Pastor Terry, his wife and family came to Suedberg in 2003. There have great times, good times, and well, not so good times. But through it all God has been good. This blog will share the goodness of God as seen in the midst of the great, the good, and the not so good of our world.