1 Kings 9-10, 2 Corinthians 3

Blind Optimism.

1 Kings 9-10, 2 Corinthians 3

Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. Every one of them brought his present, articles of silver and gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year. – 1 Kings 10:23-25 ESV

Solomon was a rock star – an international celebrity who drew admirers from all over the world. He had a reputation that attracted attention and led to increased fame and fortune. He was wealthy, wise, and enjoying the lavish lifestyle of a powerful king. But for all his power and popularity, Solomon was blind to the consequences of his lifestyle. Yes, it appeared as if God’s hand was all over him. He seemed to be enjoying the blessing of God. After all, a big part of his reputation was based on his God-given wisdom. The visiting queen of Sheba said of Solomon, “Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard” (1 Kings 10:7 ESV). But Solomon had been warned by God that His blessing was conditional, saying, “if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father” (1 Kings 9:4-5 ESV). Notice that God was calling Solomon to live with integrity of heart. That phrase has to do with moral wholeness or completeness. The Hebrew word is tom, and it carries the idea of being fully devoted to God in every area of life, with no compartmentalization. Solomon was to live his entire life before God’s all-seeing gaze with nothing hidden or kept secret. He was to live in obedience to all of God’s commands. But Solomon was gradually ignoring what God had commanded him to do and wrongly assuming that his great wealth and unbridled success were signs of God’s blessings and satisfaction with his life.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God had warned the people of Israel that when He finally gave them a king, he would be required to reign according to God’s terms. “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17 ESV). It was God’s desire that the king of Israel be a man who regular time immersing himself in the law so that he might live according to it. “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,  that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20 ESV). He was to be a man of the Word. He was to live obediently and humbly, not driven by pride and hungry for power. He was to recognize his role as God’s representative, ruling on His behalf, and subject to God’s divine will.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Solomon was a man, just like any other man, and was subject to the same temptations we all face. He was susceptible to the same sinful tendencies that every great leader encounters. He let his fame, power and fortune go to his head. He was surrounded by great wealth. He was constantly bombarded with flattering words and feigning admirers who told him how smart, successful and gifted he was. “This King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom…” (1 Kings 10:23-24 ESV). Solomon was living the dream life, but he didn’t realize that his dream was about to become a nightmare; all because of his subtle disobedience. He had compromised. He had rationalized. He had intermarried when he shouldn’t have. He had amassed great quantities of gold when God had told him not to. He had bought horses and chariots from Egypt, in direct violation of God’s command. He had made an alliance with Egypt, marrying Pharaoh’s daughter, also in disobedience to God’s will. Solomon grew wealthy beyond belief, personally benefiting from his God-given wisdom and enjoying the fruit of God’s favor. But he was blind to his own sin. He was ignorant of his own subtle rebellion against God. Palaces, gold, silver, chariots, horses, ornate thrones, powerful friends, and a growing reputation all blinded the eyes of Solomon, preventing him from recognizing his own disobedience and inevitable downfall. God had told Solomon that if he failed to obey, then God would be forced to end his rule, destroy his kingdom, level the temple, and cut off the people of Israel from the land. While Solomon was enjoying the blessings of God for a season, the time was coming when God would deal with his disobedience in a sobering way. Solomon had wrongly made it all about himself. In spite of his effort to build the temple, he had spent far more time and money building his own kingdom. He had placed himself at the center of his own universe and left God as an afterthought, a convenient resource to be used in times of trouble.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The apostle reminds us that our sufficiency is to be found in God. We are never to assume that we bring anything to the table that gives us worth or value. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5 ESV). We live and breath based on the grace of God. We enjoy the promise of eternal life solely because of the grace of God. Solomon lived during the era of the law. He was part of a different dispensation in which obedience to the law was non-negotiable and undeniable. Paul calls it “the ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:9 ESV). The law, which was impossible for any man to keep perfectly, ended up condemning all. It was a constant reminder of man’s incapacity to live righteously. Yet God was constantly revealing His glory to men in an effort to remind them of His power and to create in them a holy fear. But they lived as if their eyes were veiled. They couldn’t see God’s glory or recognize His holiness. They were unable to understand that even their obedience was dependent upon God, not their own self-effort. A big part of the giving of the law was to reveal just how holy God really was. His standard was so high that no man could keep it. That insufficiency should have driven them closer and closer to God for help and hope. But they were blind. Paul says, “For to this day, when they read the old covenant that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed” (2 Corinthians 3:14-16 ESV). Unlike Solomon, I have an “unveiled face.” I am fully capable of seeing and comprehending the glory of the Lord. I am fully cognizant that it is His amazing grace that gives me the capacity to live wholly, completely in obedience to His will. I can’t do it in my own strength any more than Solomon could. Without His help, I would be in the same state as Solomon. In fact, too often, I find myself living just as Solomon lived – surrounded by the blessings of God, given access to the wisdom of God, but living as if I was my own god. My eyes have been opened, but it is so easy to live as if I was blind, ignorant of God’s grace and still trying to live the godly life in my own strength and self-sufficiency.

Father, I want to constantly remember that my sufficiency is found in You, not me. I want to live with my eyes wide open to the fact that I am incapable of living the Christian life without Your Spirit, Your Word and Your help. My sufficiency is from You. Do not let me fall back into the trap of trying to live this life in my own strength. It is impossible. But You have made my holiness a reality. You have provided for me what I could have never provided for myself. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

1 Kings 7-8, 2 Corinthians 2

The Fragrance of Christ.

1 Kings 7-8, 2 Corinthians 2

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. – 2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

The Temple was a magnificent edifice. It would appear that Solomon spared no expense on its construction. He used the finest materials and expert craftsmen to erect this “house” for God. It was filled with exotic woods and covered with gold and precious metals. It would be a testament to God’s presence among them and a reminder of God’s holiness and glory. But the writer of 1 Kings makes an interesting aside in his description of the temple’s construction. He writes, “Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house” (1 Kings 7:1 ESV). What is striking is that the last verse of the previous chapter indicated that Solomon had spent just seven years building the temple. So he had taken nearly twice as long to build his own palace complex as he had to build the temple. Two houses had been built and they stand in distinct contrast to one another. While Solomon had finished the basic construction of the temple, it seems that he had yet to complete the interior. It is not until the end of chapter seven that we read, “Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished” (1 Kings 7:51 ESV). And until the temple was complete, inside and out, no worship could take place. And it was not until the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Holy of Holies that the presence of the Lord filled the temple. Without God’s presence, the temple was just another building. Its value was not to be found in its architecture or trappings. Its value was in the abiding presence of God that dwelt above the mercy seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant. But God’s presence among them was dependent upon their obedience to Him. As long as they remained set apart to Him, He would remain among them. It was their lives that were to be a testimony to God’s abiding presence. His power was to be manifested in their lives. His law was to direct and guide their lives. His abiding presence was tied to their abiding faithfulness.

What does this passage reveal about God?

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prays a lengthy prayer that is an interesting mixture of divine worship and self-adulation. While he goes out of his way to acknowledge God’s holiness, he can’t seem to stop promoting his own accomplishments. Over and over again, he refers to the temple as “this house that I have built” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV). It is as if he is reminding God and the people that this magnificent structure was all his doing. It is almost as if he believes that God is somehow obligated to dwell in this house that Solomon has so graciously constructed for Him. But God didn’t need a temple in which to live. He hadn’t required David or Solomon to construct Him a house. The temple, while an important fixture in the lives of the Israelites, was never intended to become the focal point of their religious lives. God was to be the sole focus of their attention and the object of their worship. In his prayer of dedication, Solomon begs God to hear their prayers and forgive their sins. He uses a variety of likely future scenarios in which the people may find themselves in trouble due to sin, and call out to God for help. Solomon wants to obligate God to hear their cries and answer their prayers, providing forgiveness and deliverance from whatever trouble that is plaguing them.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Solomon knew that his reign was dependent upon God. He fully understood that his future success as king was directly tied to God’s abiding presence. He also knew that the people were going to sin against God and live in disobedience to His laws. He even weaved in a reminder to the people to remain true to God. “Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day” (1 Kings 8:61 ESV). But Solomon needed to take his own advice. He would prove to be one of the biggest violators of God’s commands. You can see in these two chapters his own struggle with pride, self-promotion, affluence, and self-will. While the dedication of the temple was a great occasion and Solomon and the people walked away “joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness the Lord had shown to David his servant and to Israel his people” (1 Kings 8:66 ESV), the real threat to God’s abiding presence was going to be their ongoing obedience. It was their lives, lived in obedience to God’s commands, that were to be the real testament to God’s presence and power among them. As they lived for God, they would be a visible testimony regarding God’s reality. Paul seemed to know this better than anyone. His perspective was that his life was a constant advertisement of God’s presence. He wrote, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal processions, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV). Paul’s life was a living, breathing billboard for God’s divine presence and power. Paul viewed his life as “an aroma of Christ to God” (2 Corinthians 2:15 ESV). Some found Paul’s life attractive, desiring to have what had he had. Others were turned off by what they saw, viewing his life as distasteful and repulsive. But his only concern was that his life would be pleasing to God.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Solomon built a temple for God. But what God really wanted was a man after His own heart. He desired that Solomon live in obedience to His commands and in keeping with His divine will. But over and over again we will see that Solomon, while wise, still struggled with sin. He made unwise decisions and willingly violated God’s commands. It was as if he saw himself above God’s laws. He seemed to think that he had God’s blessing and that God was somehow obligated to hear his prayers and forgive his sins, all because he had built God a house. But God desires obedience rather than sacrifice. He wants followers who live their lives in order to bring glory to His name. My life’s ambition should be to live in such a way that I am an aroma of Christ to God. If I make that my focus, then others will see God in me. Some will be attracted by what they see and desire to know more. Others will be repulsed and find my life offensive to their self-centered sensibilities. But as long as I make it my life’s goal to live in obedience to and for the glory of God, I can leave the results up to Him.

Father, I want my life to be a pleasing aroma to You as I live in obedience to Your Word and in submission to Your Spirit. As I model Christ-likeness, I will become a walking testimony to Your power and presence in my life. I am Your temple. Your Spirit dwells in me. May I live my life in such a way that the world will know that You are Lord. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

1 Kings 5-6, 2 Corinthians 1

Living Within God’s Will.

1 Kings 5-6, 2 Corinthians 1

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. – 2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV

Solomon was going to have the unique opportunity to fulfill the lifelong dream of his father, David, and build a temple for God. At one point in his reign, when David had established his kingdom and was living in a palace made of stone, he determined to build a suitable house for God, so that the Ark of the Covenant would no longer have to be housed in a tent. But God denied David the privilege of building the temple. Instead, God reminded David that it was He who had made David great. He had called him, established him and would continue to make his kingdom significant. God would raise up a son who would fulfill David’s dream of a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant and become the dwelling place for the presence of God. Now Solomon was going to fulfill that promise. This was all part of God’s divine will. And chapters 5 and 6 of 1st Kings go into great detail describing just how Solomon went about fulfilling the will of God regarding the construction of the temple. But God also makes it clear that His main concern regarding Solomon and the people of Israel was their obedience. God had told David, “Would you build me a house to dwell in?  I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.  In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” (2 Samuel 7:5-7 ESV). God didn’t need or demand that David build Him a house. But He would allow a house to be built. On one condition. “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel” (1 Kings 6:12-13 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

God’s ultimate will for Solomon and the people of Israel was their obedience. The building of a great temple was not going to replace that obligation. While a great deal of detail is given about the intricate design and expensive trappings of gold and exotic woods that went into the construction of the temple, God’s real concern was the people live in obedience to His laws. It was their obedience that would set them apart as His people. God knew that the temple would become a symbol of God’s presence and would even tempt the people to believe that God was always with them, whether they lived in obedience to His laws or not. This impressive structure would almost become a status symbol, providing them with a false sense of God’s presence and blessing. But God made it clear that it was their obedience to His laws that would determine and guarantee His presence among them. In his speech before the Sanhedrin recorded in Acts 7, Stephen reminded them, “…it was Solomon who built a house for hi. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’” (Acts 7:47-50 ESV). God did not require that Solomon build the temple. But he did require that Solomon live in obedience to His commands.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Stephen went on to tell the Jews of his day, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51 ESV). The people of Israel would continue to live in rebellion against God, in spite of having a magnificent building in which they worshiped the presence of God among them. They never seemed to understand that it was their hearts that God wanted. Stephen would die as a result of his scathing words. He would be stoned to death for speaking truth to the people of Israel. Their response to his words revealed the true condition of their hearts. “They were enraged and they ground their teeth at him” ( Acts 7:54 ESV). The amazing thing is that Stephen was doing the will of God and it resulted in his death. He lived obediently to God’s will and died as a result. In his second letter to the believers living in Corinth, Paul speaks a great deal about comfort and affliction. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV). Paul knew from first-hand experience what it meant to suffer for Christ. He knew what it meant to endure affliction. But he also knew what it meant to receive comfort from God in the midst of that affliction. Paul’s afflictions made him increasingly more dependent upon God. “On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1:10 ESV). For Paul, living in obedience to God was the most important thing in his life. The way he lived his life may not have always made sense to those around him. In fact, the Corinthians were accusing him of indecisiveness because he kept saying he was going to come visit them, but then he wouldn’t show up. But Paul assured them that he did not make his plans according to the flesh. In other words, he was not the one who was in charge of his life. He depended upon God and viewed any perceived setback or delay as the will of God for his life. His main concern was “that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Paul didn’t want his life to be marked or characterized by hypocrisy or insincerity. He wanted to live honestly and openly in obedience to God’s will for his life. He wanted to live in godly sincerity or purity, motivated by the grace of God, not the wisdom of men. He knew that he was completely dependent upon God’s grace, as made available through Jesus’ death on the cross and the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit. He was incapable of living the godly life without God’s supernatural help. Yes, he longed to visit the Corinthian believers again. But he longed more to live in obedience and subjection to the will of God for his life. And that is how God wants me to live. God is less concerned about all my accomplishments for Him, than He is with my obedience to Him. He wants me to live without hypocrisy and in godly sincerity, completely dependent upon Him. Building “temples” for God may impress others, but God is much more concerned with our hearts. He knows that our accomplishments mean nothing if our hearts are far from Him. Obedience and submission to His will are still the object of our existence and the ultimate expression of our love for Him.

Father, You didn’t need Solomon or David to build You a house. You don’t need me to accomplish great things for You. All You really want is my heart. You desire my obedience and submission to Your will for my life. Help me to live without hypocrisy and in godly sincerity, completely dependent upon You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

1 Kings 3-4, 1 Corinthians 16

Wasted Wisdom.

1 Kings 3-4, 1 Corinthians 16

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV

Solomon was given the opportunity of a lifetime. God spoke to him in a dream and basically told him that He would grant Solomon one wish. It was as if God was saying, “Name it and you can have it!” But instead of asking for more money, fame, power or military success, Solomon asked for “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people” (1 Kings 3:9 ESV). Given the chance to have God grant his one wish, Solomon asked for godly wisdom. And as a result of his request, God also granted Solomon what he had not asked for: “both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days” (1 Kings 3:13 ESV). While this had been a dream, it had real-life implications. God gave Solomon great wisdom and blessed him with great wealth, incredible success, and a reign marked by peace rather than war. But God’s provision of wisdom came with a condition. Solomon was required to live obediently according to God’s statutes and commandments. This was going to prove to be a real challenge for the king, in spite of his wisdom. God made Solomon wise, but Solomon was going to have to choose to be obedient.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Chapter three of 1 Kings opens up with the seemingly innocent statement: “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt” (1 Kings 3:1 ESV). But this one sentence speaks volumes regarding Solomon and his struggle to remain faithful to God’s commands. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God had made it clear that the king of Israel was not to “return to Egypt” and make alliances of any kind with that nation, because God had told the people of Israel, “You shall never return that way again.” Not only that, God had commanded that the king of Israel “shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17 ESV). In Deuteronomy 7:3, God had warned the people of Israel against intermarriage with foreign nations because He knew that these marriage alliances would end up in idolatry and unfaithfulness.

In Deuteronomy 12, God had commanded the people of Israel to destroy all the high places in the land of Canaan, where the pagan nations had worshiped their false gods. God had said, “You shall tear down their altars and dash to pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way” (Deuteronomy 12:3-4 ESV). God went on to tell them that they were to seek a solitary place and establish it as their only center of worship. And yet we read, “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places” (1 Kings 3:3 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

Solomon loved God. He also knew that if he was to rule the people of God successfully, he was going to need the wisdom of God. And while God would grant his wish, and provide Solomon a wise and discerning mind, this did not completely eliminate his tendency to make unwise choices. Wisdom still requires obedience. Knowing what to do and doing it are two different matters. Solomon’s wisdom was indisputable. He was world-renowned for his wisdom and displayed it on a regular basis for all to see. The people “stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice” (1 Kings 3:28 ESV). But Solomon was going to struggle with obedience. His God-given wisdom was not going to prevent him from making unwise choices and self-destructive decisions. God was clearly blessing Solomon, providing him with incredible wisdom and discernment, as well as peace and prosperity. But Solomon amassed for himself thousands of chariots and horses, in direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:16: “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself.” In the midst of great peace made possible by God, Solomon was building up a might army. The psalmist would later write, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7 ESV). It seems that Solomon had a trust problem. It would also appear that he had a pride problem. And it is painfully clear that he struggled with an obedience problem.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

In the closing paragraphs of his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul writes, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV). These were people who had placed their faith in Christ, who had received the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God, and who were assured eternal life. But Paul still reminds them to be on the lookout against sin and to remain steadfast in their faith. He knew that they were going to continue to face difficult days ahead, so he told them to stand firm and act like men. He encouraged them to remain strong. And then he added, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV). They had been saved. They had the Spirit of God within them. They were assured of future life with God. But in the meantime, they were going to need to live obediently, faithfully, and firmly grounded on the Word of God. They had the wisdom of God residing within them in the form of the Spirit of God, but they were still going to have to obey what He told them to do. They were going to have to live in faithful dependence upon God’s Word. We have available to us the wisdom of God in the form of the Spirit of God and the written Word of God. But all the wisdom in the world, if not obeyed, will never do us any good. A Bible that is read, but not applied, will never change us. A Spirit residing within us, but regularly ignored by us, will never transform us. Solomon had received a great gift from God, but it was up to him to avail himself of it. I have been given a great gift from God, but I must choose to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like a man and be strong.

Father, Your incredible wisdom is available to me every day. I have access to wisdom beyond that of even Solomon. And yet, far too often, I ignore it or simply disobey it. I choose to live based on my own ignorance, driven by selfishness, and motivated by my own sin nature. Help me see the reality of my own condition and turn away from living life on my own terms. I want to apply Your wisdom to every area of my life and live in obedience to Your Word and in submission to Your Spirit. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

1 Kings 1-2, 1 Corinthians 15

The Ultimate Victory.

1 Kings 1-2, 1 Corinthians 15

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 ESV

Ultimately, David had to die. Death is the eventual and unavoidable outcome for all men. David had reigned as king of Israel for 40 years, but that reign had to come to an end. And even as David prepared to pass from the scene, the soap-opera-like atmosphere continued to take place all around him. His son, Adonijah followed the example of his late brother, Absalom, and determined to make himself the next king of Israel. Sin continued to raise its ugly head in the household of David, resulting in an eventual confrontation between David’s two sins, Adonijah and Solomon. To prevent Adonijah from splitting the kingdom, David has Solomon anointed his successor and transfers the kingdom over to him. But the influence of sin continues to impact the lives of those who will outlive David. Solomon eventually is forced to have Adonijah executed because he poses a continual threat to his kingdom. Solomon also has Joab, the former commander of David’s army, executed for having taken the lives of two innocent men. Shemei, the man who cursed David as he was fleeing Jerusalem after Absalom had taken over his kingdom, is eventually executed for having violated his house arrest. Sin and death continue to rule and reign even after David has disappeared off the scene.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Sin is a constant reality for all of us on this planet. David experienced it. His son Solomon would soon recognize its undeniable influence not only over his kingdom, but his own life. God, who had created mankind to have an intimate, uninterrupted relationship with Himself, knew that sin would continue to cause chaos, confusion and destroy any chance of men having a right relationship with their Creator. But God had a plan. He had a solution to the problem of sin. David was simply a conduit through whom God would eventually bring a descendant who would conquer mankind’s greatest enemies: sin and death. David had been a mighty warrior, but he could never defeat the sin in his own life and he was totally incapable of conquering death. His son, Solomon, would be one of the wisest men who ever lived, but he would still find himself susceptible to sin and prone to living in broken fellowship with God. Paul told the Corinthians, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50 ESV). Man, in his natural state, is infected by sin and, therefore, so contaminated that he is unworthy to live in the presence of God. Just as Adonijah could not live as a citizen in Solomon’s kingdom, no man can be allowed to live in God’s kingdom. Our sin and propensity for insurrection make us unworthy and unacceptable.

What does this passage reveal about man?

David was a man after God’s own heart, but he still struggled with sin. He still failed to successfully live up to God’s righteous standards. His son, Solomon, was filled with wisdom, but he wasn’t smart enough to escape the influence of sin over his life. His disobedience and rebellion would eventually result in God’s division of the kingdom. Man’s only hope was going to come in the form of regeneration and resurrection. Man had to be completely renewed from within. He required a new nature, not a slightly improved version of the old one. God would have to give man a new heart and place a new spirit within him. God’s solution to man’s problem was a Savior. He sent His own Son to solve the sin problem by having Him live a sinless life in perfect obedience to the righteous commands of the Law. Jesus did what no man had ever done before – live without sin. His sinlessness made Him an acceptable sacrifice and substitute for man. Someone had to pay for the sins of mankind, and that someone had to be sinless. Jesus met the criteria and He gave His life so that God’s righteous judgment might be satisfied. God had to deal justly with the sin and rebellion of men. He couldn’t just overlook it or ignore it. Jesus had to die. Paul states it clearly. “…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV). Christ’s death was not enough. If all He had done was died, then He would simply have been a martyr. But Jesus died and was given back His life by God the Father. He was restored to life, proving that He was not just another man whose life ended in death. He actually conquered death. He proved that God was more powerful than death itself. Peter said of Jesus, “But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip” (Acts 2:23-24 NLT).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

David’s death didn’t change anything. The world he left behind was just as screwed up as when he lived in it. His sons would continue to feud and fight over the kingdom he left behind. Sin would still influence and infect daily life. But the death of Jesus accomplished something incredible. It not only provided me with forgiveness of sin and payment for my penalty. It guarantees me eternal life. I no longer need to fear death. Physical death will eventually come to all. But eternal death, or permanent separation from God the Father, is not something I ever need to fear again. Because Jesus was raised again to new life, I will be given new life as well. “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55 ESV). There is a day coming when I will leave this sin-filled world behind. I will leave my sinful nature behind. I will be renewed, regenerated and remade in the likeness of Christ. My sin nature will be done away with. This old body will be replaced with a new, spiritual body that will no longer be susceptible to sin, sickness, or death. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV).

Father, thank You that I no longer need to fear death. There is a future for me and it is because Your Son has made it possible. I am undeserving of it, but I am grateful for it. Help me live my life on this earth with my focus fixed on the reality of heaven. This life is not all there is. There is more to come and it has been guaranteed by the death, burial and resurrection of Your Son. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Samuel 23-24, 1 Corinthians 14

To Build Up.

2 Samuel 23-24, 1 Corinthians 14

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. – 1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV

As David neared the end of his life, it appears that he was somewhat reflective, and felt compelled to do something to evaluate the success of his reign. He was a warrior and as such, part of his perceived worth would have been based on the numbers of his victories and the size of his army. So David determined to conduct a census in order to ascertain just how large his fighting force really way. It appears that the sin David committed in doing so was in placing his trust in his army rather than God. Actually, the passage doesn’t tell us exactly what David had done to deserve the anger and punishment of God, but it is clear that he had sinned. Perhaps part of David’s sin was that he had become focused on his own reputation rather than God’s. It is interesting that the previous chapter speaks of “the mighty men whom David had” (2 Samuel 23:8 ESV). These mighty warriors were part of David’s inner circle. They were valiant fighting men who had accomplished great deeds on behalf of David. But the passage makes it clear that their exploits were actually the result of God’s actions. “And the Lord brought about a great victory that day” (2 Samuel 23:10 ESV). “And the Lord worked a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:12 ESV). It would have been easy for David to lose sight of the fact that his reputation, reign, and apparent success as a king were all the result of God’s divine influence over his life. Numbering his troops could have given David a false sense of self-accomplishment and independence. It seems from the passage, that David was driven by a self-obsession that focused more on himself than on God or the people over whom he reigned.

What does this passage reveal about God?

When God determined to punish David for his sin, he gave the king three options from which to choose. He placed David in a very difficult position, forcing him to decide between three equally unattractive forms of punishment: Famine, the sword or pestilence. It would appear that whichever one David chose, the end result would be similar in its outcome. While the famine would last three years, it would take longer for its full impact to be felt on the lives of the people. The sword and pestilence, while shorter in time, would be swifter in their devastating influence on the lives of the people. No matter which one David chose, there was going to be innocent people who died as a result. David’s selfish sin was going to have a significant impact on the lives of others. Unable to choose, David told God, “I am in great distress, Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14 ESV). In essence, David chose NOT to accept the sword as an option, but rather asked that God would choose between the other two. David was willing to accept the punishment of the Lord and count on Him showing mercy. So God chose to bring pestllence for three days, resulting in the deaths of 70,000 men. While we may struggle with the events recorded in this passage, we must understand that God acted righteously and justly. His actions were well within His rights as God. Sin had been committed, and the degree of the punishment reflects just how great David’s sin really was.

What does this passage reveal about man?

In chapter 23, we read the last words of David. It is interesting to note what he said. “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes the grass to sprout from the earth” (2 Samuel 23:3-4 ESV). A king who rules justly, in the fear of God, has a positive, healthy influence on the lives of those over whom he reigns. It would appear that David’s decision to take the census was done without any fear of God. He didn’t think about what he was doing. He was too focused on his own life and interested in his own reputation.

Over in 1 Corinthians 14, we see an apparently different scenario at play. Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers about spiritual gifts and their role within the body of Christ. It would appear that the Corinthians were struggling with pride and jealousy over the allocation and use of the spiritual gifts. Evidently, there was some belief that the gift of tongues was superior to any of the other gifts. It was more flamboyant and extraordinary. Perhaps they believed that those who practiced this particular gift were somehow linked in significant to the apostles because that is the gift they exhibited at Pentecost. But Paul repeatedly warns the Corinthian believers to remember the whole point behind all the gifts: the building up of the body of Christ. He tells them to “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV). He warns them that, while speaking in tongues, they may experience some personal satisfaction and benefit, “but the other person is not being built up” (1 Corinthians 14:17 ESV). Paul makes it clear: “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV). This is a continuation of his theme in chapter 13. The point behind all of the gifts was mutual edification motivated by selfless love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV). The gift of tongues, practiced without love, was worthless and completely non-beneficial. God was the originator of the gifts and He handed them out according to His divine will and wisdom. They were intended to build up, not divide. They were to be selfless, not selfish. Like David, the Corinthians had taken their eyes off of God and placed them firmly on themselves. They had turned the spiritual gifts into a competition.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I love the line Paul writes to the believers there in Corinth: “Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind” (1 Corinthians 14:20 NLT). Don’t act like children, selfishly focusing on your own desires. Don’t make it all about you. Think like adults, remembering that God gave you your gift for the good of the body, not just for your own personal pleasure or to satisfy your ego. It’s interesting to note that in his opening to this letter, Paul writes the Corinthians and reminds them, “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Corinthians 1:7 ESV). The church in Corinth had every spiritual gift represented. God had given them exactly what they needed to build up the body of Christ. But they were jockeying for position, fighting over the gifts and selfishly attempting to one-up each other by comparing and contrasting the significance and value of their particular gifting. And in doing so, they were missing out on the whole purpose behind the gifts: to build up the church. Had David kept his focus on God, he would have spent less time worrying about his own significance and reputation. Had he remembered and lived by the words he wrote, he would have ruled justly, in the fear of God, having a positive impact on the lives of his people. But instead, his self-centered actions brought death. It’s interesting to note that the Corinthians, in attempting to practice the very gifts God had given them, were having a negative influence on not only the local fellowship they were called to build up, but on the lost community around them. Nothing harms the name of Christ more than believers who can’t get along. Nothing damages our witness as believers like infighting, pride and jealousy. But if our focus is on building up the body of Christ, and our motivation is mutual love, the church prospers and the lost are attracted like moths to a flame.

Father, may our churches be increasingly more recognized as places where the building up of the body is more important than the building up of our own reputations. Forgive us for making more of ourselves than we make of You or of the well-being of Your people. Open our eyes so that we might see You more clearly. Help us to love You more by loving others more than we love ourselves or our own reputations. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Samuel 21-22, 1 Corinthians 13

The Love of God.

2 Samuel 21-22, 1 Corinthians 13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV

We tend to sentimentalize love. It can easily become the sweet and saccharine staple of Valentine’s cards and Hallmark made-for-TV movies. But real love is about much more than hearts and cherubs, sweetness and sentimentality. The kind of love God exhibits and expects from His people is not for the weak. It is not a byproduct of our emotions that shows up as a warm feeling or simply as a response to being loved by another. Love is an active, aggressive, powerful force that can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. As David grew older and more reflective, he couldn’t help but see the loving hand of God all over his life. In 2 Samuel 22, he paints a vivid picture of his God, that is really an expression of his understanding of God’s love for him. David describes God as his rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, shield, salvation, stronghold and savior. He writes of responding to his cries and rescuing him from trouble. God provided him with security, strength and skill for battle. It was God who gave him victory over his enemies. David knew that his kingship was all God’s doing. He fully understood that any success he had experienced was due to the hand of God in his life. And all of this was simply a visible expression of God’s love. David wrote, “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever” (2 Samuel 22: 51 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

God is love. It is the essence of His being. All that God does is filtered through His love. God can do nothing without love. Even His judgment is an expression of His love. Love is not an attribute that God possesses, but the very nature of who He is. So when God rescued David from his enemies, it was an expression of His love for David. When God punished David for his sin with Bathsheba, it was because God loved David enough to teach him the life lessons he needed to learn in order to be the king God intended him to be. When God allowed David to spend all those years in exile, living under the constant threat of death at the hand of King Saul, it was because God loved David and wanted to prepare him for his future kingship by allowing him to go through a period of trial and training. God loved David and this fact did not escape David as he looked back on his life. He could SEE the love of God expressed in a variety of ways. God’s love appeared as protection and provision. It could be seen as strength for battle, deliverance from difficulty, stability in the midst of uncertainty, victory over enemies, and peace in the midst of the storm. God’s love was far from sentimental. It was practical, powerful and undeniable.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Paul gives us a wonderful description of the kind of love that God expects to see from those who claim to be His children. It differs greatly from the self-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me kind of love we see modeled by the world. The love Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13 is the love of God. It is heavenly, not earthly. It is spiritual, not natural. This kind of love is indispensable and non-negotiable. Without it, everything we do becomes worthless and without value. Life lived without love is pointless. Words spoken without love become meaningless and just so much noise. Knowledge without love leaves me ignorant. The ability to perform miracles is a waste of time if it is not based in love. Even the willingness to sacrifice my life, if it is not done out of love, is in the end just wasted effort. Love is the most important thing we experience from God and it is to be the most common attribute that we express as children of God. Love is not self-centered. Love is not done for the sake of payback or mutual satisfaction. It is selfless, sacrificial, patient, enduring, hopeful, abiding, and all-encompassing. It is not just an emotion. It is a way of life. It is the way of God.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The best way to measure my own love is to look at the love of God. That’s what David did. He saw the loving hand of God all over His life. He had learned to see God’s love in every area of his life. David didn’t just see God’s love when things went well or when everything turned out the way he expected. He saw God’s love in his difficulties. He saw God’s love revealed as patience and constancy. David saw his own strength and skill for battle as an expression of God’s love. Love is sometimes best expressed in ways that aren’t recognized as love. Loving discipline is not always welcome, but it is necessary. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6 ESV). Preparing someone to handle the difficulties of life and allowing them to go through them on their own is an expression of love. Watching our children endure hardship is hard to do as parents, but sometimes it is the best way we can show our love to them. Allowing them to learn life lessons through personal experience may be the most loving thing we can do for them. Love ultimately has the best interest of the one being loved in mind. Love is not based on how the other one WANTS to be loved, but on what will be best for that individual in the long run. Love must be measured from God’s perspective, not our own or anybody else’s. What would God have us do? How would God have us love? It will almost always involve sacrifice and selflessness. It will be focused on the one being loved. It will expect nothing in return. It will endure. It will be patient. It will hope for the best. It will sacrifice.

Father, Your love for me is amazing. Your constant, consistent, unwavering love shows up in so many ways in my life every day. Show me how to express that same kind of love to others. May my life be characterized by the kind of love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Samuel 19-20, 1 Corinthians 12

A House Divided.

2 Samuel 19-20, 1 Corinthians 12

“We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel.” – 2 Samuel 20:1 ESV

No sooner had David been restored to his rightful place as king of Israel, then everything seemed to fall apart right before his eyes. Absalom was dead. The insurrection had been defeated. But a rift had developed between Israel and Judah. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were slow to recognize David’s restored kingship and had not yet invited him back into Jerusalem. It took some persuasive words from David to finally convince them to welcome him back as king. But the ten tribes to the north became jealous, and complained to David, “Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?” (2 Samuel 19:41 ESV). This all results in an argument between the people of Judah and Israel, with David stuck in the middle. It created the perfect atmosphere for Sheba, “a worthless man,” to lead the tribes of Israel in a rebellion against David. “So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 20:2 ESV). So while David was back on his throne in Jerusalem, he reigned over a divided kingdom.

What does this passage reveal about God?

At first blush, it would appear that God is virtually absent from the narrative of 2 Samuel 19-20. He does not speak. He is not even mentioned. But we know that He was there. Much of what we see taking place is a result of His curse on David for his sin with Bathsheba. God had told David, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife” (2 Samuel 12:9-10 ESV). David was still reaping the consequences of his sin. God was allowing things to unfold just as He had predicted they would. God had restored David to his throne, but his difficulties were far from over. The circumstances surrounding David’s life at this time were not an indication of God’s absence. He was there. He was still in control. But David was learning the painful lesson that our sins always have consequences.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Division amongst the people of God is not a new thing. Jealousy, pride, self-importance and the constant need for recognition are always lurking in the hearts of those who are called to be brothers and members of the same family. So much of what we see taking place in the story recorded in 2 Samuel 19-20 has to do with the sinful attitudes of men. The men of Israel are driven by jealousy. Rather than rejoice that David is being restored to his throne, they are jealous that he is returning to Judah and once again making Jerusalem his capital. They feel slighted. They feel betrayed. In this story, David replaced Joab with Amasa, making him the commander of his army, because David had never forgiven Joab for killing Absalom. As a result, Joab murders Amasa, taking back his generalship and restoring himself to power. The amazing thing is that all of this is taking place within the household of God. Jews are rising up against Jews. Brothers are rebelling against brothers. The people of God are destroying one another.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Even in the New Testament, long after Christ had come and the good news of salvation had begun to spread, division was still a problem, even among the growing numbers of believers. Paul had to deal with disunity and division within the church at Corinth. They were even fighting over spiritual gifts. They were experiencing jealousy over who had particular gifts and how they were being used. There were those who were teaching that some gifts were more important than others. This created a hierarchy of gifts, leaving some gifts looking as if they were sub-par or less significant. But Paul reassures them that all the gifts come from the same source: the Spirit of God. And all the gifts have one purpose: to build up the body of Christ. The gifts were intended for the common good of the body. They were not meant to be signs of individual significance and worth. One gift was not any better than another. But the presence of jealousy, pride, egos, and selfishness was turning the gifts of the Spirit into a cause for division and disunity. But Paul reminded his readers, “God arranged the members in the body, each on of them, as he chose” (1 Corinthians 12:18 ESV). There was no need for jealousy. There was no cause for arrogance or pride. “But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26 ESV). The key was unity. The goal was mutual love and accountability. A house divided cannot stand. When we allow jealousy and our own self-importance to infect our community as believers, we destroy our effectiveness. We damage our witness. The greatest threat to God’s kingdom is when His people try to establish their own kingdoms and make their will more important than His.

Father, we can find ourselves so easily fighting one another, rather than focusing our attention on the enemy. Too often, we allow jealousy and pride to rob us of power and destroy the unity that You so long for us to experience. Our sin natures get in the way and tend to cause us to focus on ourselves rather than the common good of the body of Christ. Help us to see that we all part of one body and that we have been gifted and equipped to serve one another, not ourselves. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Samuel 17-18, 1 Corinthians 11

Disunity and Division.

2 Samuel 17-18, 1 Corinthians 11

But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. – 1 Corinthians 11:17-18 NLT

The house of David was divided. His own son, Absalom, had turned against him, taking over his throne and occupying his royal city. Ever since Absalom had taken revenge against Amnon for raping his sister, Absalom and David had been in a less-than-ideal relationship. They had never fully healed the wounds between them. Absalom had developed a growing resentment for David and had lost respect for him as both a father and a king. So he plotted to take over his father’s throne and was even determined to take his father’s life in order to solidify his own kingship. The amazing thing to consider is that this is all taking place within the nation that had been hand-picked by God to be His chosen people. The Israelites were to be an example of what it was like for a people to live under the leadership of God Himself, experiencing His presence and power, and obeying His righteous commands. But ever since the days of Moses, they had struggled with the concept of unity, constantly finding themselves arguing and whining against one another. Division, disunity and in-fighting were a constant problem among God’s people. We can only imagine how the Philistines and the other enemies of Israel must have loved watching Absalom destroy the nation of Israel from within. The enemy has always preferred watching the followers of God destroy themselves, which is why he has made division and disunity such a high priority in his war against the people of God. It is also why Jesus prayed for our unity in His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17. “ I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

Unity is important to God. It was important to Jesus. The Father and the Son enjoyed perfect unity. There was no division between them. They were unified in their love for one another, their love for mankind and in their plan to provide a solution to man’s sin problem. Jesus knew that our unity was just as important, even intimating that the unity of the people of God would be a testimony to the world of God’s presence among us. Jesus went on to pray, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:22-23 ESV). Our unity is a work of the Spirit. It is not human or natural. It is made possible by the power and presence of God in our lives. And our ability to live in unity is a testimony to God’s love, Christ’s redeeming work and the Spirit’s power. Without God’s help, we are prone to selfishness and self-centeredness. Division and disagreement are a constant threat because they are manifestations of man’s sin nature. But God’s love has unified us. We share a common Savior and have been made part of the body of Christ. Paul writes, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1Corinthians 12:12-13 ESV). Our common dependence upon Christ’s saving work has unified us into one, unified body. We share all things in common. None of us are more deserving of God’s love than anyone else. We have no more value in God’s eyes than any of His other children.

What does this passage reveal about man?

But even among the people of God, disunity and discord can raise its ugly head. Just as Absalom was led to see himself as superior to David and worthy of taking his place as king, so too can one believer view himself as more important or worthy than another believer. Paul witnessed this very problem taking place among the believers in Corinth. He wrote, “when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18 ESV). In other words, when they gathered together for their church services, they were doing so with divided hearts and a spirit of disunity. Their times of corporate worship were marked by selfishness, self-centeredness and an unhealthy spirit of arrogance. Even their marriages were being impacted by this disunity, as wives and husbands failed to properly maintain their god-given roles and responsibilities. Husbands were failing to lead spiritually and their wives were abusing their new-found liberties in Christ to the point that they were undermining God’s order of authority and responsibility. The end result was disunity. There was a spirit of independence that had infected the church and was destroying not only their unity, but their witness in the community. Which is why Paul reminded them, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV). Their self-centeredness had caused them to remember that it was God who was to be at the center of the homes, marriages, and worship services. He was to be the focus, not themselves.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Absalom was driven by anger, resentment, pride, arrogance and a growing self-centeredness that eventually caused him to forget that God had chosen his father to be the king of Israel, not him. Absalom’s will had taken precedence over God’s will. He had no problem dividing the kingdom God had established in his efforts to create his own kingdom. And as a result, many would die needlessly, including himself. His actions would bring shame on the nation of Israel and joy to the hearts of the enemies of Israel. How much easier it is to sit back and watch us destroy ourselves from within. If Satan can get us to live together in DISunity, he has won a major battle. If he can divide us from within, he has won a major battle without having to lift a finger against us. This is why Jesus prayed so fervently on our behalf, “the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:14-17 ESV). Like the people of Israel, we are surrounded by a world that is hostile to our very existence. Which is why our unity is so important. We cannot afford to allow internal strife, division and disunity to weaken us. We cannot allow our pride and selfishness to get the best of us. We must remember that God has joined us together. He has placed us in His family. He has unified us through a common faith in His Son’s death, burial and resurrection. Together, we make up the body of Christ. But it is our unity that makes us effective. It is our love for one another that proves we are His disciples. It is our supernatural harmony that witnesses to the world of God’s presence and power among us.

Father, the world longs to see what true love, harmony and unity looks like. They are dying to see marriages that are marked by Your power and presence. They desperately need to see believers who have been transformed by Your Spirit loving one another regardless of color, class, nationality, income or social standing. May we truly be one as Your prayed that we would be. So that the world may believe in Your Son. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Samuel 15-16, 1 Corinthians 10

Staying Faithful When Life Gets Stressful.

2 Samuel 15-16, 1 Corinthians 10

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Life can get messy. There are times when things don’t go quite like we expected them to go. Sometimes this is a result of living in a fallen world. Other times, we may be experiencing the consequences of our own sin. But regardless of the cause of our particular circumstances, the real test will be whether we remain faithful to God in the midst of them. David’s life seems to have been a series of ups and downs, successes and failures. While he was a man after God’s own heart, that does not mean his life was free from difficulties or moments of despair. Even as God’s chosen and anointed king, David had to face his fair share of trying times. He had to bear the news of his son Amnon’s rape of his half-sister, Tamar. Then he had to learn of Amnon’s death at the hand of his brother, Absalom. And David knew that these events were in fulfillment of the prophet Nathan’s words, spoken in response to David’s sin regarding Bathsheba. “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house’” (2 Samuel 12:10-11 ESV). Absalom would end up running away and living in exile. And even when he finally allowed by David to return, Absalom would plot a conspiracy against his father’s throne that would end with David abandoning the city of Jerusalem and escaping to the wilderness once again.

What does this passage reveal about God?

In the midst of this soap-opera-like story, David exhibits an unlikely reliance upon God’s sovereignty. He was sad. He was likely disappointed in the outcome of his life, but he continued to place his life in the hands of God. “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him” (2 Samuel 15:25-26 ESV). David did not fully understand his circumstances. He didn’t necessarily like them either. But he did his best to trust God with them. Even when David was on his way out of the city and found himself subjected to the curses and rants of a disgruntled relative of Saul, he refused to let his men rebuke his assailant. Instead, he said, “ It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me,and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today” (2 Samuel 16:12 ESV). While his life appeared to be falling apart all around him, David did not abandon his trust in God. He believed in the sovereignty of his God and would place his life in His hands. David knew that nothing happened by luck or happenstance. His God was in control.

What does this passage reveal about man?

It is amazing to think that one family could be so dysfunctional. Lust, rape, murder, conspiracy, and rebellion – all in one family. But not just any family – the family of the king of Israel, the mighty David, son of Jesse and the man hand-picked by God to lead His people. The depth of the sin described in these chapters is staggering, but it should not be surprising. The sin nature of man is active at all times, even in godly families. And the consequences of our own sinful actions will always catch up with us eventually. While David had been forgiven for his sin with Bathsheba, he still had to face the ramifications of his poor choices and disobedience against God. There are two truths when it comes to life: First, that sin is a real and ever-present reality. But the second is even more important. God is always fully aware of our circumstances and always there. We tend to be surprised by the first and doubtful of the second. But David knew that the only real constant in his life was his God. He was familiar with the instability of life and the constant possibility for sin to rear its ugly head. But he also knew that God could be trusted even when everything seemed to be falling apart all around him.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Paul reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). In this passage, Paul was discussing the Israelites and their journey out of slavery in Egypt. While all of them had experienced the same miraculous deliverance by God and enjoyed the same provision of their needs, they didn’t all remain faithful. Some turned away from God and put their trust in idols, and as a result, they never made it into the Promised Land. And Paul tells us that these things happened to them as an example for us. They gave in to their physical appetites. They put God to the test. They grumbled against God because they didn’t like their circumstances. So Paul warns us to watch out so that we don’t repeat their mistake. We must remember that God is faithful. There is no circumstance in life that He is not aware of and that He has not provided for us a way of escape. We don’t have to rebel. We don’t have to give in to our physical appetites or natural, sinful desires. We don’t have to end up putting God to the test. We can trust. We can remain faithful. We can place our hope in Him and wait to see what He is going to do to bring about a resolution. As Paul writes in that often quoted and yet seldom believed verse, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). David was going to leave his life in the hands of his God. We would be wise to do the same thing.

Father, life is messy and sometimes a bit confusing. But help me to keep my eyes focused on You, not my circumstances. You are the one constant in life. You never change. You never leave. You never run out of strength, power or love for me. May I seek You and see You in all that happens to me and around me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org