May 29 – Secret Sin – Shame: Why we hide our sin

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-23 and Psalm 51:1-17

Many of us have been there: the exhausted parent after a long, hot summer day’s work, looking forward to spending some time at home away from the stresses of the day. We walk around the corner, only to find marker drawings on the wall of the dining room as a priceless art display from our toddler. The toddler has been told many times NEVER to color the walls and today, of all days, is the day where the toddler decides to create this masterpiece. 

“Shame on you!”, the words of choice for a moment like this to grab the attention of the child and expose the action of wrongdoing. Or consider a different phase in life, when the child is a teenager and the issue is much more serious.  The parent comes home from a long day of work and the phone rings.  It happens to be the parent of the teenager’s boyfriend or girlfriend on the other line and there is a story that they wish to share that strikes pain in the heart of every parent who has sought to raise their family in God’s way. The story of discovering this sin in their lives. 

“Shame on you!” 

Will those words still be used?  

This is where we look at the actions of Nathan for guidance. In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan (a prophet of the Lord in King David’s time) brings conviction to the King with the exposure of the King’s sin. On a scale of human understanding, this “secret sin” really wasn’t that much of a secret anymore; David’s actions created a ripple effect into other’s lives that were far past that.  The way in which his new life with Bathsheba had come about was one that he thought he had kept as a secret from those who he didn’t want to know. However, David couldn’t control that.

Instead he found himself in a reality that all people who try to hide sin do: trying to manage it and not be exposed. His words in Psalm 51 describe the conviction that Nathan’s confrontation brought about in him. They also show us that his repentance was not brought about because Nathan said “Shame on you!”.  In fact, Nathan never uses that phrase. David discovered shame by stepping outside of himself and looking into another’s life (2 Sam 12:4-9). David’s conviction was now discovered, not manufactured. 

God allows us to feel shame when we are convicted because it can spawn in us the need to have it healed by Him. When our sin is exposed, our personal feelings of shame serve as a painful reminder to us of the many reasons why God didn’t want us engaged in sin to begin with. 

Praying points for today:

  1. I pray that God will use all of us who seek to follow Him, raise our families for Him and love as He has loved to live in this way – suppressing the shaming of ourselves so that we may be confident in the work He is doing in us (Philippians 1:6).
  2. I pray that God will use this foundation to search me of any wrongdoing that needs to be brought to light, free from fear. This way of living can be a beautiful foundational piece to keep ourselves from sinning in secret.
  3.  I pray that I can treat others with compassion leading to conviction, regardless of their sin.  I recognize that it is not my job to shame, but God’s job to heal it in all people’s lives.

Joe Rubino

October 5 – Attributes of God – Kindness

Read 2 Samuel 22:51

Kindness is an attribute of God. It is a fruit of the Spirit of God that Christians can choose to possess. David appreciated the kindness of God so much that he sang an entire chapter in 2 Samuel to God. Chapter 22 is a song that David sang to the Lord when God’s kindness delivered him from his enemies. Written around 930 BC, people have taken some of these verses and turned them into music. Here are some songs I listen to and sing that are based on 2 Samuel 22:

THE LORD LIVETH, by Petra, based on v.1

“The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock

And let the God of my salvation be exalted…”

I WILL CALL UPON THE LORD, by Elevation Worship, based on v. 4

“I will call upon the Lord

Who is worthy to be praised.”

CONSUMING FIRE, by Third Day based on v.9

“And yes our God, he is a consuming fire

…He reaches inside and he melts down this cold heart of stone.”

LOVE CAME DOWN, Kari Jobe. v.10

“I could sing about His forgiveness

I could praise Him till the sun goes down.”

HE RESCUED ME, by Lids S. Leech (1909 hymn), based on v.18

“He rescued me, His own to be,

A brand from the burning, He set me free.”

FLAWLESS, by Mercy Me, based on v.31

“No matter the bumps, No matter the bruises

No matter the scars, Still the truth is

The cross has made you flawless.”

David writes and actually sings about kindness in the final verse 51. He speaks here in the third person about unfailing kindness that God has given to he and his descendants forever.

Solomon wrote about kindness:

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” 

Proverbs 12:25 NIV

“Whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Proverbs 14:31 NIV

Paul wrote about the nature of kindness and then the kindness of God:

“Love is patient, love is kind.

1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV

“…in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:7 NIV

Kindness is selfless, compassionate, and forgiving. For a perfect example of biblical kindness, look no further than Jesus. We all have opportunities to share God’s kindness. Let’s seize that opportunity!

Tom Weckesser

October 4 – Attributes of God – Mercy

Read 2 Samuel 24:14

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  It was my senior year of high school.  At the beginning of my accounting course, we were warned that, if we were caught cheating in class, we would receive an “F” for the nine weeks and we would fail the course.  So, with only a few weeks to go until graduation and senioritis kicking in, I, along with four friends, thought it would be wise to copy one of our friend’s ledgers for the final assignment.  AND it was wrong.  All five copies with identical mistakes.

One by one we were questioned by our teacher at different times so we did not have the opportunity to discuss our “interrogation.”  We were busted and the teacher knew it.  The punishment for cheating was failing the class and we knew it.  When questioned by the teacher what I had done, I confessed (without naming my accomplices) that I had cheated and that it was wrong.  I felt awful!

The following day my teacher called me into her empty room before class where I feared that I would receive my sentence of failure.  To my surprise, I received something else – her mercy.  She did not fail me for the course.  She said I was the only one who had admitted and confessed what I had done so she did not fail me, even though I deserved it.

Mercy is one of the great attributes of God revealed to us in Scripture.  It is often confused with the grace of God.  However, there are differences between God’s mercy and His grace.  While the two are indeed similar, there is a difference between them.  Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness that is extended to someone where another has the power to punish or harm them.  It is when punishment is deserved, but it is withheld to the benefit of the object of the mercy.

Grace is a gift that we do not deserve.  It is God blessing us, despite the fact that we have not deserved it. Simply put, grace is getting what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

From the fall of humanity, the sin of Adam, we have deserved nothing but the wrath and punishment of God.  Romans 3:23 says, “. . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We are all guilty.  We have all sinned against our perfect and Holy God.  We are also told that, because of our sin, our punishment is death.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  We deserved death and eternal separation from God.  But thankfully that is not what we received!

God has shown us his mercy!  Over and over again, He is merciful to us who daily fall short of His perfection.  Each and every day we live is an act of mercy from God.   Rather than receiving the punishment of eternal death, those who follow Jesus receive the free gift of eternal life.

The greatest example of mercy is shown by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paying our debt on the cross.  Jesus paid the debt for our sin.  The punishment He received was for all of my sin (past, present and future). We do not need to look any further than the cross for the perfect example of mercy.

Nate Mills

April 9 – Jesse Tree – A Shepherd King?

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-1317:1-512 Samuel 5:1-57:8-11

“For the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

David was a small shepherd boy who played a harp and composed music. He was the youngest and smallest in his family. By all appearances he would be the least likely to lead his people into battle and to defeat the enemies of Israel. But he had one thing that most people of his day didn’t have… God’s own heart.

He might have been a little shepherd boy, but while he was watching his flock, he spent many hours getting to know God, marveling at His handiwork he saw all around him, talking to God, and singing his praises. He was quick to recognize God’s hand on his life. Scripture tells us that when he was anointed by Samuel, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”

All these gave him the courage to volunteer against all odds to face Goliath alone and to lead his nation at a relatively young age.

It wasn’t how old or how strong or good-looking he was. It wasn’t even how smart he was that made David a great leader. No, it was how close he was to God. How dependent he was on His leading him down the right paths of life that made the difference.

Do you take time each day to get to know God? Do you wait on His guidance in your life? Are you willing to face the “giants” in your life knowing God is there beside you?

July 18 – His story : Man’s rescue – Rescued by a King

Read 1 Samuel 8:1-22 and 2 Samuel 7:1-29

HIS story of man’s rescue involves a king.

Israel’s desire for their first king does not seem to be a high point in their history. Perhaps you picked up on the two details that made their royal request anything but a moment that made God proud. And yet, be careful with your criticisms because you too are subject to these same weaknesses!

1. They desired a king because they wanted to be like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:5, 20). They liked what they observed in other nations…perhaps the pomp and circumstance…maybe a valiant, debonair man on a horse as the commander and chief of their armed forces. So, they decided they wanted one too. Be careful! Peer pressure can be a dangerous thing. Rather than being conformed to the world’s patterns, Christ followers are to be transformed into His likeness (Rom. 8:28, 29; 12:1, 2).

2. Their desire for a king indicated their rejection of God as king. Understandably, Samuel, as the national leader at that time interpreted their royal request as personal rejection. But God made it clear that the people had instead rejected Him. Be careful! An unsubmissive spirit towards God is rebellious and dangerous.

In spite of the driving forces behind their request of a king, God granted their wish. He can bring great things out of bad choices. First came Saul…who had his issues. Then came David. Somehow, in spite of some unwise choices, David is described as a man after the heart of God (1 Samuel 13:14). And God not only had a plan for David but also for one of his descendants who would reign eternally on David’s throne.

Several centuries later, a birth announcement went out from an angel named Gabriel to an expectant mother named Mary. In describing the son that would be born to her, the angel said, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Of course, Mary’s son was named Jesus. The Father sent a King to rescue rebellious people like us!

Steve Kern

April 26 – Songs of Praise – “Why not?” or “Who am I?”

Read 2 Samuel 7:1-28

“Why not?”  That could have been the response that David had given after the Lord turned down his offer to build the temple.  After all, temple building seemed obvious to David.  To him, it seemed unfair that he should live in a spacious palace while the Ark of the Covenant, representing the presence of God, had only ever been in a makeshift, portable tent.  As a result, David began to dream of a glorious temple that would reflect the greatness of God.

God had other plans.  As God spoke through David’s trusted servant Nathan, He revealed to the king that David would not be the one to build the temple.  Solomon, his son, would.  But that wasn’t the entire message.  God reminded David of his humble roots.  He pointed to the peace that Israel enjoyed at that time.  And He spoke of the future greatness that would one day be associated with David’s name.  From his offspring would come One (Jesus), whose kingdom would endure forever!

So, rather than the “why not?” of disappointment, David’s response is marked by the “who am I?” (v. 18) of privilege.  It was beyond his capacity to understand God’s selection of him and the many blessings that he had been permitted to experience.  David was so taken back by the wonder of God’s work that he even asked in amazement, “Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?” (v. 19)

Which of those phrases most marks your attitude during this Thanksgiving season?  Do you find yourself expressing the “why not?” of disappointment over things that you had hoped for but never realized, prayed about but never experienced, dreamed of but never saw fulfilled?  If so, your joy tank is likely being filled with bitterness.  That is dangerous!

Or is the phrase that defines your attitude the “who am I?” of privilege?  Your focus is on a long list of undeserved blessings.  And you can hardly contain the sense of gratitude that you feel.  That is life-giving!

Years ago, a band called “Casting Crowns” released a song by the title “Who Am I.”  The lyrics help us to capture the privileged position that we have in Him.  Catch the song by clicking the link here.

Steve Kern

March 28 – Mountaintops – Mount Gilboa

Read 1 Samuel 31:1-13 and 2 Samuel 1:1-27

David is widely known for his songs of worship and thanksgiving to the Lord.  The Psalms are filled with such expressions.  Similarly, several Psalms reflect pleading anguish written in desperation as Saul pursued David seeking to kill him.

In light of those realities, we would expect David’s song of 2 Samuel 1 to read differently.  What do I mean by that?  Let’s review some of what had happened.

  1. As king, Saul had repeatedly disobeyed the Lord and demonstrated his own willful rebellion against clear instructions God had given.
  2. God had clearly expressed his disappointment with Saul, even giving Samuel instruction to anoint another king.
  3. God had selected David as king.  In fact, His selection was made clear while Saul was still in office.  It was not to be realized until Saul’s death.
  4. Saul’s opposition to David was obvious.  He repeatedly attempted to murder the incumbent king.

So as the news trickled down to David from Mount Gilboa, one would expect David to Gilboa
rejoice.  After all, he would finally be able to assume the office for which he had been selected.  He would no longer have to be a man on the move, looking over his shoulder in fear of Saul’s next attempt to take his life.  It would seem to be the news that David had longed to hear.

But it wasn’t.

The man who expected to endear himself to David with a fabricated story of taking Saul’s life on Gilboa must have been surprised too.  Instead of being heralded as a hero, David had the man killed for taking the life of God’s anointed.  Instead of writing a song of praise, David wrote a song of mourning.  Instead of listing off all of his bad experiences with the man, David chose to honor him.

Rather than harboring anger and wishing ill on an enemy, David extended forgiveness and chose to see Saul as a person deserving of respect because of the position he held.

Friends, that example has broad application from how you respond to an enemy to how you speak of elected officials!

Steve Kern

December 1 – David and a Savior

Read 2 Samuel 7:1-29

Our consideration of the covenants of the Bible has already afforded us the opportunity to witness the unfolding plan of God.

  1. Through the Eternal Covenant, we saw that God, before the creation of the world, had already planned His provision for the redemption of man in the sacrifice of Christ.
  2. In the Edenic Covenant, man was given privileges, responsibility, and warnings within the Garden of Eden. Violation was punishable by death.
  3. The Noahic Covenant included a promise from God that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood.
  4. With Abraham, God established a covenant guaranteeing land, descendants, and blessing.
  5. To Moses, God gave the commandments of the Law that were designed to point out mankind’s need for a Savior.
  6. Before entering the Promised Land, God outlined obedience as a condition for blessing.

In every one of these covenants, we see God setting the stage for the revelation of His Son.  And, now, we recognize that the Davidic Covenant is no different.

Recognizing the wonderful blessings he had received from his Heavenly Father, David purposed to build a temple that would serve as a more ornate and permanent dwelling place for God.  For centuries, “God’s house” had been a portable, makeshift tent.  In David’s mind, it was somehow inequitable that he, as the king, should enjoy a beautiful palace while the King of the Universe should “inhabit” such a dwelling.

But God had other plans.  David would not build a house for Him.  No, his son, Solomon, would construct it.

And then there was the house that God would build for David (vv. 11b-13).  The David Covenant, you see, is all about this house.  This “house” would not be built by Solomon.  No, it was to be established by one of David’s future descendants.  This covenant was confirmed with an oath (Ps. 89:30-37) and ultimately realized through Jesus, the offspring of Mary (Lk. 1:30-33).

From eternity past, you see, God the Father has been leaving a trail pointing us to our need for and His provision of His Son.  Today, we are blessed to live at a time on the other side of the Savior’s first coming but in anticipation of His second coming in which that eternal kingdom will be established.

sbk

November 2 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read 2 Samuel 24:1-25

King David – a man after God’s own heart.  Any guy would surely aspire to be like him. He brought Goliath crashing to the ground with a thud. He conquered enemy armies and then returned to crowds, singing that “David has slain his ten thousands”.  The chapter before today’s reading tells us that he killed 800 men in one encounter with his spear and led “David’s Mighty Warriors”!  As I read today’s passage in 2 Samuel, however, I am reminded that, while David had many “superhero” attributes that I would like to see in myself, David’s larger than life persona was far from perfect. You may easily recall David’s awful choices with Bathsheba. And here, chapter 24 begins with David being more than a little bullheaded by doing what he knew he shouldn’t do. He even went ahead with his ill-conceived plan, in spite of good counsel to the contrary.  Sadly, in these moments, I see similarities between my life and David’s in some of the choices I’ve made. Can you relate?

I am thankful David’s story doesn’t end with verse 9. Having sinned, David’s conscience finally gets his attention and he is stricken with guilt. He confesses to God that he has sinned greatly, begging for God to take away the guilt of his foolishness.  The next part of our reading is painfully difficult.

Yes, God does provide for David to atone for his sin. He even gives David a choice of three different punishments.

When the Angel of the Lord was at the threshing floor, striking down the people, David’s grief reached a pinnacle.  He pleads with God, once again acknowledging his sin, but now he sees that, as the shepherd of his people, his sin was creating horror for people who had done nothing wrong. The lesson I see for myself here is that, when I sin, two things will happen:

  1. God will hand out a punishment sufficient to get my attention so that, in repentance, I would not make that kind of foolish choice again.
  2. My sin will always spill out in some way and harm others. Sin committed affects innocent people in my life.

The “happy ending” to this horrible situation?

God told David to build an altar and David was obedient. But do not in any way miss this: David wasn’t just obedient in building the altar. He showed a broken and repentant heart when he insisted on paying for the threshing floor, so as not to sacrifice to the Lord burnt offerings that “cost me nothing”.  That was the kind of offering the Lord was seeking and the kind of prayer He answered.

When you and I are foolish, the pain of sin should be awful and it might hurt those we love.  Praise the Lord, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Amen!

Wade Karhan

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 13: Read Psalm 46:-11. As hard as it may be, take time today to simply be still. Have no distractions and just be quiet and listen for what the Lord has to tell you today. Truly relax for 30 minutes and allow Him to encourage you during this time.

October 24 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Hannah

Read 1 Samuel 1-2:10

Prayer isn’t about getting what you want from the Lord, but about trusting Him.
Do you believe this? Do you receive satisfaction when you pray? Do you walk away from that time with the Lord, expecting something in return or just comforted with the knowledge and belief that He is with you?

Many of us know the Old Testament story of Hannah. She is an obedient follower of God with a great sadness in her life; yet the Lord answers her prayer. Hannah is given Samuel, and Hannah gives Samuel back to the Lord in service. Yet, what do we learn from her relationship with the Lord?

In my own life, the Lord is constantly bringing Hannah’s story to mind. Consistently reminding me of how Hannah surrendered to the Lord, of how she wasn’t afraid to be as raw and real with the Lord as she possibly could, how when the Lord gave her the one thing she LONGED for, she vowed to give it or him (Samuel) back to the God she knew was good. However, in this season of my life, the Lord uses Hannah’s story to remind me that, when I surrender and live with open hands before Him, it isn’t about God filling my hands with my requests but filling them with more of HIM, and this brings satisfaction to my soul and, in turn, my life.

Let’s look at 1 Samuel  1:18b; “…and her face was no longer sad.”  I believe that, in this moment, Hannah knew without a shadow of a doubt that, even if her prayer for a son was not permitted, she was satisfied with the Lord alone because she trusted Him in all of His power and glory.

Do we? In those tough times, where we are on our face before the Lord, completely raw and surrendered, do we believe and trust Him because of who He is? Do we believe that He will take on our burdens and return to us what we need and not only what we think will make us better?

If prayer is about a trust exchange, exchanging our broken perspective for God’s divine perspective, are we willing to give Him our burdens in exchange for ONLY Him?
Hannah’s story ends (in the Bible) with her singing a song of thanksgiving after leaving her little boy in the hands of God’s service.  She gives her little boy to the Lord and, even through the pain of living without her son by her side, she expresses God’s glory, power and character.

Kelly Lawson

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 4: Give Thanks.

Psalm 100 reminds us to enter God’s presence with a thankful heart. We can always talk to God, but let’s not forget that it’s a huge privilege to have such access to God. Start your day by reading Psalm 100 and thanking God for something He’s done or given to you.