Tag Archives: sin

2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; Romans 4

I have a purple buff/gaiter that I sometimes use as a head covering when I work in the yard. It’s different from the others I have because if I try to stretch the fabric from top to bottom, it doesn’t budge. But when I take hold from the sides and pull, it stretches. It seems odd that a fabric can be pulled one direction, but not the other. And it’s probably odd that I think of that when I read the scriptures today.

In 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21, David takes a census.

Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him (2 Samuel 24:1, NLT); and Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1, NLT).

I note how sin has a far-reaching effect–this act carries a consequence touching thousands. Of three possible outcomes, a plague strikes the land taking lives of 70,000 people.

I think of a fabric being pulled and stretched, yielding and groaning to a force. But when I read Romans 4, I see a fabric that doesn’t budge. That doesn’t stretch. That holds by its integrity. And I am reminded again of the great power of faith, the great gift of God, immovable, that maintains its posture.

13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. (Romans 4:13-17, NLT)

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. (Romans 4:20-25, NLT)

When I feel stretched and pulled by battling emotions, I want to remember this truth that should weaken every struggling thought and urge to silence. What if I spoke aloud: Courtney never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, her faith grew stronger, and in this, she brought glory to God. She was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Lord, thank you for lessons in fabric that hold their shape and integrity. Thank you for this word today, recorded for my benefit too, assuring me that you will count me as righteous if I believe in you. Greatest gift ever, a faith that glorifies you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 51, 32; Acts 27

Two renditions of the same story:

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 Samuel 11:1, NLT)

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process he laid siege to the city of Rabbah, attacking and destroying it. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 20:1, NLT)

Second Samuel continues on to the story of David and Bathsheba. When he wasn’t where he should have been, doing what he should have been doing, the fertile ground for sin awaited. I’m not talking about Bathsheba, but David’s own choices. The story of one thing leading to another ends in multiple tragedies and repentance.

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:2-4a, NLT, emphasis added)

When I think of David, I think of a man who loved God. I think of his many talents and skills. I think of his courage and faith. I think of his victories.

First Chronicles 20 continues this way:

Then David went to Rabbah and removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. (1 Chronicles 20:2, NLT)

First Chronicles doesn’t read like a journey into David’s heart and struggle. It just tells the historical war facts. The pairing of these two books shows such a great contrast. As I move from first paragraph to second in this book, the blank space separating the two symbolically speaks of so much more.

Grace.

When I think of God, I think of grace. I think of His great power and creativity. I think of His attention to detail and wisdom. I think of His love for us–to give us all choice: to choose Him, to follow Him, and to return to Him when we’ve strayed. Choices sometimes carry painful consequences, but I am reminded there’s another story larger than my own and a God on the throne with love and grace enough for everyone.

God, what do you see when you look at me?

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. (Psalm 51:1-6, NLT)

Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
    that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
    you protect me from trouble.
    You surround me with songs of victory.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” (Psalm 32:6-9, NLT)

That blank space between 1 Chronicles 20:1 and 20:2, I fill it with this sweet, divine relief:

Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight! (Psalm 32:1, NLT)

Father God, you are the safest place for my deepest thoughts. Hiding place. Protector. You give guidance and advice. How wonderful–what joy!–that I can turn to you honestly and completely and you receive me. Thank you for grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 4-7; Hebrews 3

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.” (Leviticus 4:1, NLT)

I read through the Lord’s instructions to Moses in Leviticus 4-7. They are thorough. They are lengthy. So when I get to Hebrews 3 and the mention of Moses in comparison to Jesus, the connection is fresh.

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. (Hebrews 3:106, NLT)

The scriptures go further to warn against a hardening of the heart against God.

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled,
    when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
    even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
10 So I was angry with them, and I said,
‘Their hearts always turn away from me.
    They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. (Hebrews 3:7-13, NLT)

It caused me to think on things that would harden my heart in any event–and can I keep a hardening heart in one area of my life from hardening against God?

I’m so thankful for Jesus, who took my sins, washed me clean with his sacrifice. I can lay them down before him, the intentional and unintentional and tangled mess, and he still calls me loved. He still calls me daughter. He still calls me forgiven. He is my high priest and my hope.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 20; Acts 24; Jeremiah 34; Psalm 5, 6

There were losses on the battlefield that day.

11 So all the Israelites were completely united, and they gathered together to attack the town.

12 The Israelites sent messengers to the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What a terrible thing has been done among you! 13 Give up those evil men, those troublemakers from Gibeah, so we can execute them and purge Israel of this evil.”

But the people of Benjamin would not listen. 14 Instead, they came from their towns and gathered at Gibeah to fight the Israelites. (Judges 20:11-14, NLT)

There were tears and the need for confirmation, assurance.

22 But the Israelites encouraged each other and took their positions again at the same place they had fought the previous day. 23 For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the Lord until evening. They had asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?”

And the Lord had said, “Go out and fight against them.” (Judges 20:22-23, NLT)

There was victory, yes. But make no mistake, this was warfare. And at its heart is sin.

A woman is raped and murdered: The Levite, the husband of the woman who had been murdered, said, “My concubine and I came to spend the night in Gibeah, a town that belongs to the people of Benjamin. That night some of the leading citizens of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she was dead.” (Judges 20:4-5, NLT)

A community turns its back on its word: This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves. He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage. 10 The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command, 11 but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again. (Jeremiah 34:8-11, NLT)

Hatred targets another, hunts him down with accusation: We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him. You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.” Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true. (Acts 24:5-9, NLT)

Personal gain turns a blind eye to justice: 27 After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison. (Acts 24:27, NLT)

Lord, I am increasingly aware of the very real spiritual battle cloaked in human flesh. In loss, in injustice, in accusation and power struggles, help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to remember the real enemy.

14 “But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people. (Acts 24:14-16, NLT)

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love. (Psalm 5:9-12, NLT)

Go away, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord will answer my prayer.
10 May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
    May they suddenly turn back in shame. (Psalm 6:8-10, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 44; Mark 14; Job 10; Romans 14

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.  So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.  Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat.  Remember all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.  You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God.  Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.  But if you have doubts about whether you should eat something, you are sinning, you are sinning if you go ahead with it.  For you are not following your convictions.  If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”  Romans 14:17-23 NLT

Am I being a stumbling block or  helping unity? How often do I judge what someone else is doing, but haven’t looked at my own heart?  It’s not my job to convict, but the Holy Spirits. I am reminded that I need to pray for others, before I open my mouth.  And ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.  Why am I voicing my opinion? Is it to bring the person closer to the Lord. Or will it just push them away?

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”  He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me…Then he returned and found the disciples asleep.  He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.  For the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Mark 14:32-38 NLT

I can relate to Peter.  Sometimes I ‘fall asleep’ when Jesus has asked me to be alert and pray. I get overwhelmed and burdened. I am more susceptable to temptation.  My mind drifts into old habits or ways of coping that are not giving God glory.

“While he was eating, a woman came with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard.  She broke open the jar and poured perfume over his head.” Mark 14:3 NLT

Lord, I pray that my life would be an offering to you.  That I would hold nothing back from you.  Help me to live with open hands towards you.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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