2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; 2 Corinthians 8; Psalm 3

I am still learning principles that are laying foundations in my life as a disciple of Jesus. One of those lessons has been in the area of giving. It was a difficult process and in some elements, even today, there are areas that I find challenging..

 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels[g] of silver. – 2 Samuel 24:24  ESV

A key thought – if my offering to the Lord does not cost me anything, then it is not much of an offering. As a disciple of Christ, I am called to take up my cross and follow hard after Him.

I know there are moments when we want to count what we have as opposed to how much we are giving. Satan messed up David in this matter.

Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. – 1 Chronicles 21:1  ESV

So Paul has these strong words, in the form of a testimony, for me that have challenged me when I have gone astray in my own thinking, especially when I was beginning to hoard.

We want you to know, brothers,[a] about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia,  for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. – 2 Corinthians 8:1-2  ESV

When I find myself stressed by circumstances, bills or pressures, it is in God’s Word where I find the lessons of giving. At the end of the day, this principle has always sustained me — 

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! – Psalm 3:8

Father, continue to allow me to be a blessing on Your people, keep the joy of Your salvation in my heart, and give me a testimony of giving that will encourage and strengthen others to do the same. I still need this to cost me. May I not be tempted to step aside. Thank you for walking with me through my journey of giving. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Samuel 21-23; 2 Cor. 7; Psalms 55

“There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it.  And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.”  So the king summoned the Gibeonites.  They were not part of Israel but were all that was left of the nation of the Amorites.  The people of Israel had sworn not to kill them, but Saul, in his zeal for Israel and Judah, had tried to wipe them out.  David asked them, “What can I do for you? How can I make amends so that you will bless the Lord’s people again?”  2 Samuel 21:1-3 NLT

“So David asked the Lord about it.”  This sentence jumps off the page at me.  It doesn’t say that David questioned God, but instead he asked him a question like a trusted friend.  It doesn’t say that he was worried or upset.  His faith in God was secure. He knew who to turn to during a hard season, that was lasting a long time.  Where has there been a famine in my own life? An unanswered prayer or unfulfilled dream? The waiting is hard, but David knew enough about God’s character, that he didn’t lose heart.  

“David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.  He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.  he is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:1-3 NLT

I find myself listening intently to David’s last words.

“These are the last words of David: “David the son of Jesse, speaks- David, the man who was raised up so high, David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.  “The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue.  The God if Israel spoke.  The Rock of Israel said to me: ‘The one who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of the God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming sun on new grass after rain.’  2 Samuel 23:1-4 

God hears a repentive heart.  Is there anything that I am holding onto that I need to give over to him?

“Because we have these promised, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit.  And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.  Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such readiness to punish wrong.  You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. ” 2 Corinthians 7:1,-11 NLT

Dear Father, Help me to have a faith like David.  To remember your faithfulness, your promises and your unfailing love for me. Amen.

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalms 55:22 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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2 Samuel 18-20; 2 Cor. 6; Psalm 56

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4, NIV

I’ve read this passage of scripture so many times. When I was younger I struggled in understanding how I could not be afraid … especially of tornadoes. I would sit in the back hallway of the house with the rest of my family and shake and cry in fear of what would happen when the tornado hit…which it never did. I would love to say I outgrew this fear and although I don’t sit and shake and cry when the tornado sirens go off, I’m still very much afraid.

Fear can be all encompassing. It can fill all our thoughts and cause us to singularly focus on the thing that is terrorizing our minds. We can freeze and loose hope for the future. All we know about the life of David demonstrates that he had every right to be afraid. Protecting his sheep from wild animals as a young kid, going up against Goliath as a young man, running from King Saul, running from his own son and as we see in this passage, being captured by the philistines have all been times of potential fear for David.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

And yet…He says “I trust and am not afraid.” (Psalm 56:4,11) Right before each of these statements of trust, however, is the phrase “In God”. Unlike David, I have not learned to trust so completely that my fear is gone. I’m still afraid of many things. I can’t in my own power compel my fear to subside. But… “In God”. In God, I can learn. In God, I can slow down. In God, I can rest. In God, I can see God working. In God, I feel love. In God, I can love. In God, I receive mercy. In God, I am merciful. In God, I find grace. In God, I can be gracious. In God

In God. Am I in God? Am I pursuing God? Is my fear and anger keeping me from being in God? Is yours? In God is everything because it sets the stage for where God wants to lead us and what He wants to do in and through us. Are we In God?

Dear God, I pray my heart will be In You. I pray that when fear overwhelms, I will find my strength and identity In You. I pray that when I’m consumed with myself and my desires and wants I would turn and place myself In You. When I can’t do any more, I pray you take my life and place it In You. Please Father, do a work that I cannot. Do a work that brings me even more into you. I pray for those reading that they would be drawn into you. May our lives point others to you. And may the fear that clouds our vision, be diminished by being IN YOU. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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2 Samuel 15-17; 2 Corinthians 5; Psalm 32, 71

And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”  2 Samuel 15:13-14 ESV

David transformation from majestic king to haunted refugee is sudden and unexpected. Through his manipulation and charisma, Absalom was able to convince his followers that he would be a better king than David. Men flocked to Absalom and David was forced to flee Jerusalem before him or face death.

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” 2 Samuel 15: 30a, 31 ESV

David weeping ascent of the Mount of Olives seems to foreshadow the time when another King would weep there when faced with the rejection of His own people. Many of David’s close friends had deserted him, including his trusted councilor, Ahithophel. David knew that if the LORD did not intervene, Ahithophel’s wisdom would lead to Absalom’s victory. However, God had not forsaken David and Hushai was still on David’s side. David sent him to Jerusalem to attempt to counter Ahithophel.

“But my [Hushai’s] counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person.” 2 Samuel 17:11 ESV

Ahithophel advises Absalom to send him with twelve thousand men to overtake and destroy David. However, instead of just following Ahithophel’s advice, Absalom also asks Hushai what he should do. Hushai counters that David and his men are enraged and mighty warriors. He instead suggests that Absalom should gather a large army and deal with David himself.

Here is where we come to one of Absalom’s deadliest flaws, his vanity. David and his men were weak and tired. If Absalom had just sent Ahithophel, David would have been killed and Absalom’s throne secured. Hushai plan appealed to Absalom’s vanity. Instead of a twelve-thousand-men strike headed by an advisor, he suggested a magnificent force helmed by Absalom him to wipe out David and his mighty men. This plan buys David time, as gathering a great army would take a while. Ahithophel’s wise council is ignored by Absalom, who prefers Hushai’s plan instead. God protected David from harm through Hushai and Absalom’s own vanity would be his downfall.

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! Psalm 71:1-2 ESV

Dear God, please protect and provide for me just like You protected and provided for David. Thank You for being a place in which I can take refuge. Please protect and guide me. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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2 Samuel 13-14; 2 Corinthians 4; Psalm 51

This week, I tapped into a podcast of interviews with adults who shared an event in their lives that had a lasting effect upon them. They painted vivid pictures with their words, and the interviewer followed up with questions to the now adult speakers. They were only two people in this whole world, each marked by a memory from childhood. I wondered perhaps all of us have stories that have had such an effect upon our lives.

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her (2 Samuel 13:14-15, NLT).

***

So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry. 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister (2 Samuel 13:20b-22, NLT).

Sin separates. It separates us from God and it separates us from each other. In motion, it destroys. Amnon’s sin and violence led to his sister’s desolation, a brother’s thirst for revenge/justice and murder, and an estrangement in a lineage. Sin’s reach is vast–don’t ever be fooled.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him (2 Samuel 14:13-14, NLT).”

Psalm 51 was written after David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you (Psalm 51:1-15, NLT).

Oh, that Amnon would have repented.

I look long on the image of spilled water in 2 Samuel 14:14. Thank you, God: Redeemer, Father, Healer. You devise a way to bring us back to you. Sin’s reach is vast, but You are greater. God, I hand you my memory, knowing You to be the Good Father, full of mercy, unfailing love, compassion. Bring healing to all the broken places.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; 2 Corinthians 3; Psalm 20

2 Samuel 11:1 (NIV)

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Ah, David. How far you fell and how fast you slipped.

How easily I stand in contempt of you – and yet, are we not more alike than I’d want to admit?

You made one small decision, and that one small decision changed the course of your life and many other lives. You took that one step, and that one step led to another, which led to another, which led to yet another. And before you knew it, you’d reached unspeakable places – places of adultery, betrayal, and murder.

And while I have not reached those unspeakable places, I’ve often found myself unexpectedly in places I’d never set out to reach – places like bitterness, anger, resentment, and discouragement. Where did it start? How did it happen?

One small step.

Your first small step was staying home instead of leading your army to war. I’m sure you felt justified. You wanted a break; you deserved the rest. You trusted your leaders. So you stayed behind.

My first step is often the same. I need a break. I deserve a reward. I have to rest. And so I withdraw.

By withdrawing, you found yourself in a place you weren’t supposed to be, you saw things you weren’t supposed to see, and you acted on the desires and impulses of the moment.

And when I withdraw, I find myself alone, vulnerable to temptation, and acting on the desires and impulses of the moment.

Because one indulgence makes the next easier. Until you’re out of control. Until I’m out of control.

But God was faithful to you, even after your shocking failure. In His mercy, he sent you Nathan. Nathan, who so eloquently pierced your heart with the truth. Nathan, who warned you of the dire consequences of your actions. Nathan, who came back when you repented and showed you the love of God.

And God is faithful to me, even when I fail Him. Over, and over again. In His mercy, He sends me people. He sends me His word. He sends me the truth to pierce my heart. And He opens my eyes to the course my feet have chosen and the consequences that await me.

And like you, I cry out for repentance. And like you, the Lord loves me. He restores me. He refreshes me. He affirms His love for me. And He helps me to move past my mistakes and find my identity in Him instead of my failures.

 

Oh, Lord. I could never thank you enough for caring enough about me to chase me when I wander. Father, open my eyes to the weight of my choices and help me to recognize that there are no harmless steps when it comes to my relationship with you. I can either chose to move closer to you or father away; and Lord, I want to be closer! Help me to seek you more than me, and help me to desire your rewards more than my personal comfort. Thank you for your mercy and love, even when I fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chr. 18-19; 2 Cor. 2

God has given us an example of true friendship in the persons of David and Jonathan. There was something that clicked between them and they became fast friends and brothers at the heart. They were loyal to each other, pledged to protect each other, and there was a shared feeling of love between them. David promised he would always be kind and take care of Jonathan’s family (1 Sam 20:14-15). Here we see David fulfilling his promise:

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

“Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” (2 Sam 9:3-7) NIV

This story of Mephibosheth made me realize I have my own such story. While I have had many friends in my life, I only had one I would consider a Jonathan. I met her while we were in Celebrate Recovery. We were both broken people in need of healing. I truly believe God answered my prayer for a Godly friend.  As our friendship deepened, she adopted me as part of her family and I was included in all family gatherings. This hurting woman (me) needed the love and connection she provided and my home became an emotional safe haven for her. Together we grew in our relationship with God and shared what He was teaching each of us. We traveled places, laughed, and watched movies—we had so much in common. She was there for me when my mother died.

Needless to say, I was devastated when God called her home unexpectedly a short time later. But what has come out of this friendship has been a relationship with her mother. After my friend passed away, her mom (whom I had gotten to know quite well), said “you’ve lost a mother, I’ve lost a daughter; maybe we can be that for each other!” I knew my friend so well and her mom could talk to me about all the struggles my friend had been having. She felt safe sharing with me because she knew I loved her daughter like a sister. I still visit her often, we call each other, and love each other. God has blessed us with such a sweet friendship. It did not take away the pain for either of us, we still grieved our losses. But He provided that bond through someone we both loved.

David’s heart of compassion, his loyalty, and his devotion to God and his people are only part of what made David such a great king. In the very next chapter, his character is doubted.

David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. (2 Sam 10:2-4)

Why do the words of the Ammonite commanders remind me so much of the serpent in the Garden? They placed doubt in the mind of the Hanun. And so begins a war that never needed to happen. Talk about getting bad advice. It is sad to live in a world where we’ve come to doubt people’s motives and believe they are out to get us. Instead of talking to the envoys first, they assumed the worst. David had the best of intentions and the men he sent to honor Nahash are humiliated. In one chapter, Mephibosheth believes David and is blessed by his kindness. In the very next chapter, the Ammonites don’t trust David’s kindness and war erupts.

16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Cor 2:16).

I think Paul hit that point right on! We are called to love as Jesus did. Not everyone is going to believe we can love expecting nothing in return. Not everyone believed Jesus was the real deal either. But it never stopped him from being loving to everyone—even the ones who betrayed and denied him. From these readings, my takeaway is to treat everyone with kindness but to expect opposition.

Lord, please don’t let me be dissuaded from loving people no matter how I am treated. It is very easy to turn against people in general because of ways I’ve been treated. But then I remember all the people who have loved me when I was not very lovable. May I have a David heart and look for ways to be kind to people. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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