Sunday, June 14, 2015
King David is well known as the author of many of the Psalms we love and referred to as "a man after God's own heart." (Acts 13:22). One day I hope that my kids and maybe my closest friends might refer to me as a woman after God's own heart---what a legacy! But when you dig a little deeper, how on earth could someone like David be considered a "favorite" for God when he messed up royally more than once? Truth be told, David could have focused on the failure and allowed it to rule his life.
Yes, David made mistakes. He was definitely human.
He struggled with depression. A large number of the psalms he penned, starting with the 6th, specifically addressed struggles within and without.
He was an adulterer. In 2 Samuel 11 chronicles how David saw Bathsheba, invited her to the palace and slept with a married woman. Then...
In an attempt to cover up his adultery, he planned and insured a murder. In the same chapter, when Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant (her husband Uriah had been away at war), David instructed that Uriah be sent to the very front of the battle and the troops around him withdraw. Sounds like murder and manipulation to me. Sounds like original sin: seeing something you want and manipulating people and circumstances to insure your needs are met.
HOW on earth could this man be called a favorite, one whom God loved and cherished above others? Yes, David was called at an early age. He followed God and served King Saul, always choosing the high road despite Saul's attempts to pursue and murder him. God honored that early calling and David became King over Israel. He even overcame conspiracies from his sons who plotted to overthrow him. But somewhere along the way, David got comfortable. And he succombed to original sin: "it's all about me and what I want."
Enter Nathan, Prophet and Pastor to the King. He is not here to pat David and the back and give him "atta-boys". No, Nathan was there to deliver God's word that David had pure and simple MESSED UP: and while the King thought it was secret, it was not. How many times have I done things in my younger years thinking, "it will never make a difference.....no one will ever find out." Character is who you are in the smallest of tasks, especially when you think no one is looking. When you think no one will find out.
David deserved judgement. In reality, he deserved to die. He did not deserve to be called God's favorite! The key is 2 Samuel 12:13-14. When confronted with his sin, David confessed. Yep. He "manned up". I believe this act---and probably others like it---are what earned him the title we know him by. David had faith in God and believed that God would save him even from Goliath; he loved God's word and showed gratitude as exemplified time and time again in the Psalms. And last but not least, when he messed up, he owned up to it and sought forgiveness: Psalm 51 is the prayer that came from David's heart. If you have messed up like I have a multitude of times, seek the Lord and find comfort that you are not the first to need God's grace. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, O Lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me."
In so doing, you will find the same forgiveness that countless others have received. When you observe the depth of love and forgiveness God offers to you, you will see why David was a man after God's heart.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
It is widely accepted that this is a procedure done to infant males of the Judeo-Christian beliefs. With that out of the way, I'm more concerned about how the Bible applies circumcision with our spiritual lives. Maybe you've never stopped to consider this but I've been running this through my mind for about 6 months, since I first read about the concept.
Circumcision was introduced in the Old Testament for several reasons, primarily to set apart those who would follow God (i.e. the Hebrew children) as a sign of their dedication. According to Hastings Dictionary of the Bible: "Jewish teachers...regarded this as purification from obstinancy and imperfection. The rite was regarded as a token in the flesh (symbolic) of God's divine grace in the heart (see Deuteronomy 30:6). To do so promotoes cleanliness, fruitfulness and avoidance of disease."
Stick with me. Some Bible interpreters have actually used cleansing and circumcision interchangeably. In Justifying grace, we invite God to circumcize our hearts to promote cleansing from sin and avoidance of the same so that we can be fruitful in our Christian lives. Circumcision is symbolic of removing original sin---the desire all humans inherit from Adam and Eve to be self-sufficient...wanting to look good/worshipping ourselves and our wants (pride). The "flesh" that Paul often referrs to is original sin: the desire to be in charge, the desire to please self.
When I asked God to forgive my sins --- my actions that drove a wedge between myself and His love -- He gladly and lovingly did so simply because I asked! Justification is a multi-layered term:
- when God forgives my sins, He makes it "just-as-if" I'd never sinned by forgiving and forgetting (Psalm 103:12), something God does easily but humans struggle with.
- If you're as old as I am, you know the terminology for margins on the typewriter: justification brings the text "into line" with the rest of the words.
- If brought up on trial, justification means total forgiveness of guilt and being regarded as innocent.
Does justification mean you're perfect? That you never sin again? No. But that's a topic for another day.