2 Samuel 14; 2 Corinthians 7; Ezekial 21; Psalm 68

“Then the king said to Joab, ‘Behold now, grant this; go bring back the young man Absalom.’ And Joab fell on his face to the ground and paid homage and blessed the king. And Joab said, ‘Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant.’ So Joab arose and went to Geshur and brought Absolom to Jerusalem. And the king said, ‘Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.’ So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king’s presence.” (2 Samuel 14: 21-24 ESV)

Favor in the king’s sight is not automatic. As follower’s of Christ, we cannot earn favor but Christ earned it for us.

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted.” (2 Corinthians 7:10-13 ESV)

As believers, when we sin we experience conviction that reminds us not to sin against God. This is far more effective and comforting than the guilt we experience when we are not in Christ.

“And you, son of man, prophesy, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach; say A sword, a sword is drawn for the slaughter. It is polished to consume and to flash like lightning, while they see for you false visions, while they divine lies for you, to place you on the necks of the profane wicked, whose day has come, the time of their final punishment. Return to its sheath. In the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you. And I will pour out my indignation upon you; I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath, and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men, skillful to destroy. You shall be fuel for the fire. Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall be no more remembered, for I the Lord have spoken.” (Ezekial 21:28-32 ESV)

Wow! To be destroyed by God. To be wiped out as if we never existed. Praise the Lord to have the security of knowing that we are safe in Christ.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” (Psalm 68:19 ESV)

“O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalm 68:32 ESV)

Lord,

You are all powerful. You create us and can choose to smote us. Thank you that you chose instead to give us the blessing of Your salvation. May we live daily with this thankfulness.

Amen!

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66, 67

I recently ran seven miles nonstop. This was a really big deal for me because I’m preparing to run a half-marathon next year, and there’s a part of me that feels intimidated by the distance. I was truly surprised at how good I felt when I finished the mileage. I was surprised I did it. When I was in my twenties, I was very athletic. When I was in my forties, I was very not athletic. In fact, I was unhealthy, overweight, stressed and grieving.

This week when I set out on my long run, I did seven miles again, shaving nearly a minute of my per-mile pace. I was so very thankful to God for all of it. I remember thinking, “I forgot I was an athlete.” And I felt like God reminded me: you forgot a lot of things.

In Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken, I nearly choked at this sentence: “You are no longer a slave to the abuse or addictions of your parents or to the grave where your father is buried.” (198) I sat in awe–Lord, I forgot I am no longer a slave. And He filled in the blanks of other things I forgot–that I am capable and equipped for the tasks He has prepared for me; I am given my own skill set to bring Him glory; I am loved, valued and chosen; I am His daughter.

Today, when I read Paul’s words, he sets my focus straight. My heart and thoughts sometimes get caught in a tug-of-war among the media, my own issues, other opinions, and what is right.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:1-16, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I need You and Your Word every day. I forget. I forget when I’m distracted or worried or stressed. I forget when I am overwhelmed. I forget when I am angry. But You and Your Word are never far, and always ready to guide the way. Thank you for reminding me, for giving me freedom, for showing me the way, for saving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 12, 2 Corinthians 5, Ezekiel 19, Psalm 64,65

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you 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, therefore, 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.’”

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  2 Samuael 12:7-13

Nathan certainly doesn’t mean You Are the Man in the modern sense. The Lord used David in spite of his shortcomings.  The incident with Bathsheba was the most famous but there are many others and he still goes on to be such a tremendous leader maybe because of learning from the times he fell.  You use the weak to lead the strong. It takes a truly great friend to call you out and call you on to be a better person. How I appreciate the accountability.  It is so easy to become complacent and point the finger at others but I have to dig deep and make myself a better man.

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

   2 Cor 5:17-19

The image of a Father bringing His child close in His arms really comes to mind. 

 How far away from me do you place my sins, Lord?  

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.

Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,

    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas Ps 65:1-5

You not only forgive the little ones, Lord, but when I am overwhelmed by my inadequacy in big ways, Your forgiveness knows no bounds.  

‘What a lioness was your mother
    among the lions!
She lay down among them
    and reared her cubs.
She brought up one of her cubs,
    and he became a strong lion.
He learned to tear the prey
    and he became a man-eater.  Ezekiel 9:2-3

Learning the basics of faith is for survival.  I cannot live without the food You provide.  Evangelization is the work of now. The time is short. How can I bring more people to You, O Lord?  

Your grace truly is enough for me, Lord. Be with me today.

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2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalm 62, 63

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Sam 11:1) NLT

I have often wondered why David decided to stay behind. From what we know of David, he was a mighty warrior, leading the troops of Israel against their enemies. Yet this particular time he stayed back. Whatever the reason, it was a decision that changed his life. All it took was a stroll on the roof, his eyes seeing something they shouldn’t, and his thoughts going where they shouldn’t. He wanted what he wanted even though it was something that didn’t belong to him. When we sin, we tend to think no one will ever know or we’ll never get caught. Except sin has a way of revealing itself—which it did when Bathsheba became pregnant. And so the web of lies and deceit begins.  

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done. (2 Sam 11:16-27)

A sin cannot be hidden from God. There are always repercussions for the choices we make. In David’s case, his family was riddled with division (“the sword will never depart from your house”). There are ripple effects to sin and innocent people can get hurt. I know this to be true in my own family. Choices were made and it started a string of events that left great pain in its wake. Trust was broken, relationships were shattered, and great division remained where once there was unity. It can impact generations.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! (Ez 18:30-32)

Repentance! How cleansing it is for the soul. God has given us grace. Even though sin has its price, we can repent and draw close to God once more. He loves us and he will help us change. He can restore broken relationships, he can mend a shattered heart, and with his help we can learn to trust again. There is hope instead of despair.  I know this to be true as well. I have witnessed the work of the Lord in restoring a family that had been torn apart. His hand was all over the chain of events and details that had to be in place so at just the right time hearts were ready to forgive. To this day I am still in awe of his great work. (Isaiah 43:19- “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”).

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (2 Cor 4:8-9) NLT

David repented of his sin. He was restored to right relationship with God. Yet the consequences were set in motion by his actions. Yes, David and Bathsheba had Solomon, and the LORD loved him (12:24). But there were many family battles to come.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Ps 63:1-5) NIV

Lord, how thankful I am you have provided a way back to relationship with you. You taught me to repent and get beyond the shame of my own actions. You taught me how to give others grace and forgiveness for sins committed against me. I have seen you change the hardest of hearts. You are the lifter of my head. I have seen your goodness and how it can change a life—starting with my own! Your love is better than life! I will praise you as long as I live! In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalm 60,61

How often do I survey the happenings around me and miss God’s handiwork?

And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.

Ezekiel 17:24 – ESV

Currently, I’m reading the book Bruchko with my kids and chapter 19 highlighted how as the Motilone people embraced Jesus, they cried out to Him with real faith that He would respond miraculously. And, when He did, the miracles did not surprise them, because they expected them.

I find myself often praying with little expectation. Worse than that, when something does “work out” the way I had prayed for, I give mental credit to medicine, hard work, time, people, or coincidence. This chapter in Bruchko, piled on top of all these passages from Scripture are convicting me of my high view of people and my minimizing view of God.

But with Jesus, there can be real change. Not just spiritual change. Not just change by and by. Real change, now, with visible power. He is the source of all change. He is the God of everyday miracles.

Bruchko by Bruce Olson p. 162.

The everyday miracles, the huge, life-changing miracles. All of them, return to Him. He earns our praise all day long with His work in our lives and those around us. I need to remember to return my thanks to Him and acknowledge all that He is doing on a daily basis.

Even in 2 Samuel we see how God orchestrated events to bless Israel, to shape military alliances, and to punish nations that rejected Him.

And when all the kings who were servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and became subject to them. So the Syrians were afraid to save the Ammonites anymore.

2 Samuel 10:19 ESV

God’s plans prevail in the military exploits of ancient kingdoms and in my daily life as a housewife in modern day America.

  • Did I wake up this morning – alive and breathing?
  • Do I have friends and family?
  • Do I have food – physical and spiritual?
  • Did I experience comfort today?
  • Have the friends on my prayer list been protected through the ordeal they face?
  • Has another friend made it safely home from a recent hospital stay?
  • Did I have healing words of encouragement for a desperate text that came my way last week?

Yes, yes, and yes again.

God has been there. Working, responding, often providing before I even knew to ask. It has been all Him. I can take no credit, and have no right to rationalize His supernatural involvement in this world by diminishing the results with “logical” explanations.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God . . . Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, . . . And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5, 12, 18 ESV

The result of properly attributing God’s power and presence is increased boldness, hope, and transformation. He hears our prayers and walks closely to those that hope in Him.

Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

Psalm 61:1-3 ESV

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