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“Then the multitudes who went before and those that followed cried out:  ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” Matthew 21:9

“Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” Matthew 26:66

Let’s take a moment to ponder Easter week from the disciples perspective.  What a way it started out.  Much of the last year of Jesus’ ministry had been filled with both miracles but also strife.  As Jesus became more well know, He was attacked more and more by the religious establishment.  His fame concerning healing and miracles had reached such a significant level that He found it difficult to stay in the towns and cities due to the crowds.  Now Jesus had decided to go to Jerusalem to observe the passover.  The disciples had trepidation over this.  Some tried to dissuade Jesus believing He might be killed and they along with Him for even trying to enter the city.  Still, all decided to accompany Him, no matter the risk.

Yet, now Jesus was entering the city of cities; Jerusalem.  And far from being ostracized or condemned by the crowds, Jesus was being hailed and praised by the crowds.  The Jewish authorities who wanted Him silenced were no match for the jubilant outpouring from the crowd.  What an unexpected turn of events that must have been for the disciples.  For there was Jesus being praised and glorified by the crowds and because they were His disciples, they strode in triumphant as well.  Later that same week we are told that many, some powerful were coming to the disciples seeking an audience with Jesus.  Every time a detractor or accuser came to question or verbally attack Jesus, he was completely thwarted and turned away by Jesus; much to the marvel of the crowd.  This must have filled the disciples with such confidence and elation.

Then, in a few short days it all turned around.  It started with the feast of the Passover; the last supper.  What would seem to be a solemn but joyful event quickly turns anything but when Jesus declares that one of His closest, one from this beloved group, would betray Jesus.  Then Jesus starts to talk in detail about His departing and coming again.  Jesus leads them out to a garden where He does something they have never seen before; Jesus becomes sorrowful, almost seemingly fearful, though most don’t witness it because they have fallen asleep.

Finally the unthinkable happens; Jesus is arrested.  Jesus is put on trial and in a matter of a few short days the disciples witness the very same people who cheered Jesus as the Son of David, coming in the Name of Lord, jeer Jesus and demand that He be crucified!  They watch as He is led off condemned and some even watch Him die.  They must have wondered to themselves can it get any worse than this?

It seems that in barely the length of a week’s time, the disciples have witnessed and experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.   They have watched the world revere, cheer and seemingly love them.  However, so very quickly, they have watched the world, chastise, belittle and even condemn them.  How is one to react to that?  How would you and I react to that?

If one is not to find oneself being driven crazy by the capriciousness and duality of this world, it would seem that we would have to remember and keep focused, not on the world but on Jesus Christ.  For if we look to the example of Jesus Christ, He did not get swept up in the heady, glory filled days of the beginning of the week.  He completely realized what was coming and how the world can be so fickle as to praise in one moment and condemn the next.  Yet even in His lowest of low moments, when it seemed all had deserted Him in the garden, He knew His Father was there.  Jesus knew the love of His Father and knew that love would see Him through.

So likewise for us, if we find ourselves in a place or circumstance of triumph, we must resists the temptation to be swept up in the adoration and become proud and feeling deserving.  Let us instead humbly give thanks for our good fortune to the One who has blessed us with it, knowing that He, Our Heavenly Father is always faithful where the world is anything but.

Also, should we find ourselves in a place of abject disillusionment and despair with seemingly no place to turn; no hope of survival, let us, like Jesus, remember we are never alone, we are never without hope.  For we serve and have the love of the Creator of the Universe, the All Powerful and All Knowing God Almighty.  We have His solemn promise that He will never forsake us nor abandon us.

No doubt about it, we live in a tumultuous world.  Should we decide to be worldly, we will find ourselves catapulted to relatively fictitious highs and rocked by devastating lows.  In either of those situations love, true love will be hard to come by.  Thus, let us leave the roller coaster of the world behind and instead strive to become one with He who promises a peace and joy surpassing all worldly understanding.  His high is the only one worth shooting for.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we live in a world of extremes where we can go from triumphant highs to tragic lows.  Pour out Your Spirit Upon us, Merciful Father, that would not be tempted to be swept up in the prideful adulation or led to self destruction in the tragedy.  May it be that in all circumstances we would be reliant and focused on You and Your Love knowing that is the only true sustainment that we need or should desire.  That Your blessings are the reason for our triumphs and Your mercy will see us through our tragedies.  That in all things and at all times we would strive to bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

May the day perish on which I was born…May that day be darkness.”  Job 3:3,4

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”  Job 38:4

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”  Matthew 5:5

I have to admit, from a human perspective, at least from my perspective, the Book of Job is a tough book to get my arms, really my spirit around.  It is the basic premise or should I say set up that I find most confusing.  For, from my human perspective, Job seems to be basically a pawn between two spiritual titans; Satan accuses and God then allows.  Job shouldn’t be treated like that.  Job is entitled to better.  Hmmm, maybe I should be treated better? Maybe I’m entitled to not have earthly negative things happen to me?  As difficult as this book can be to understand, to take the time to read through, I can see, at least for me, it has the potential to be, except for the four gospels of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the most powerful book of the bible.  Why would I say that?  For the following reasons:

1.  God is the Supreme Sovereign.  God is over all.  Both in the beginning of Job and toward the end, when God answers Job from the whirlwind, God’s supreme nature, supreme wisdom, supreme power,  are never in question.

2.  God did not bring the harm.  Job’s possessions are destroyed.  Job’s loved ones are killed.  Job’s health is destroyed.  Yet none of those things come by the actual Hand of God.  It is true God allowed them to happen.  It appears, at least to my judgement, that they could not have happened without His allowance.  However, they were not His direct actions.

3.  God does not condemn His own.  Job loses hope.  Job curses his own life.  Though throughout most of the book, Job does not humble himself, Job appears to accuse God of not being fair, Job’s friends seem to feel it is okay to speak for God; God, in His infinite patience and mercy, neither condemns Job, nor his friends.

4.  God restores.  When Job is finally faced with wisdom, the power, the truth, the perfection of God, he freely confesses, he repents, he understands he lacks the wherewithal  to truly grasp and understand the Nature of God.  God in His Grace, restores Job, not only from an earthly nature with things and family, but most importantly spiritually.

The power of the book of Job is in its reflective properties.  This book is a mirror.  This book boldly and without apology exposes the process of human thought, human judgement used against Our Heavenly Father.  In the end, it also shows the folly of that human thought, that judgement as compared to the perfection of God.

What human thought; what human judgement you ask?  Let’s take a look.  First let us consider before the terrible things befell Job.  Job was prosperous.  Job was healthy.  Job was happy.  God, Himself call Job upright.  Now is when our human logic jumps in.  No where, again no where in this book does it say that Job’s prosperity, health and happiness were a direct payment owed to him because of his being upright.  No, what is directly said is that God has blessed the work of his hands.  What Job has is a gift from God.

Then worldly events impact Job.  Horrible things happen to the things he has, his family, even his health.  Once that happens, again human judgement kicks in.  What is left of his family, his wife, deserts him; “Enough with your complaining, curse God and die”, she tells Job.  Job’s “friends” then come; to “comfort” him.  “You get what you deserve,” they tell him in one way or another.  The human logic is, if earthly things are going wrong, then you must have done something wrong.  If things go really bad, you must have become truly evil.  Thus become good and good will happen.  Do good and you will be entitled to good things.  Sounds reasonable.  Sounds fair.  I will go out and do good based upon what I deem is good and how much is good enough.

Then God enters in; and in an interaction to amazing to truly grasp; He doesn’t condemn, He doesn’t destroy, He asks some questions.  Who are you, man to question me?  Did I need to consult you when creating the earth and heavens?  Did you give Me insight into creating the life on earth?  Did we discuss on an equal basis what is good in this life and what is evil?  If none of those things happened; on what grounds do you judge Me about what is fair or not?, God asks Job, God asks each of us.

When faced with God, if we are truly going to believe in God, then we are forced to come to the conclusion Job did.  We utter things about which we do not understand.  God’s things are things too wonderful for us, that we can truly, completely never know.

What is our response then to be?  Jesus Christ told us.  To inherit the earth, we must be meek.  The only way to come into the presence of God is to be humble.  To allow the all powerful Will of God to work within us we must set aside our will and the pride of power that we think we have.  We must understand, what I have is a gift, a blessing from God and not a payment, not an entitlement for my good works.

Job said it: “I am vile.”  Yet understand this; God was not going to leave Job in his vileness.  God had a better plan for Job.  God has a better plan for us.  God does not want to leave us in our earthly thoughts, our earthly judgements, our earthly sins.  In His amazing mercy and love, God longs for, God is desperate for, us to be in His peace and joy and relationship with Him.  How can we know? How can we be sure?  He sent a savior.  God sent His Only Son Jesus Christ to die for us; to wipe away or vileness that we may live anew with and in Him.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we live in a world where the feeling of entitlement is paramount.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father when we fall victim to that feeling and no longer see Your blessings as gifts but as entitled rewards for our good deeds.  Hear us when we humbly repent, strengthening us to overcome the trials and tribulations of this world.  Provide us with the spirit of meekness that we may see the Power in You and call upon Your Power to change this world.  In Praise and in the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

“So Jehoahaz pleaded with the Lord, and the Lord listened to him..” 2 King 13:4

“Then the Lord gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Syrians….”  2 Kings 13:5

The bible, in its entirety is a revelatory and the most important work ever.  However, I must confess that there are books or at least parts of books that I find challenging to glean understanding and life lessons from.  1 Kings and 2 Kings can be that way for me.  While there are wonderful pages full of the works of God through Elijah, Elisha and others.  There are also pages filled with a paragraph here and a small chapter there about a king, whose name I can’t pronounce and who normally is doing something evil that I have trouble finding the lesson in.  Yet I find that if I can quiet my thoughts and be open to the Holy Spirit, He can teach me things through any and all stories.  Jehoahaz, in 2 Kings is one of those stories that is short but, now I understand, extremely powerful.

You see Jehoahaz became King of Israel.  He was the son of a king, Jehu in a line of kings that had done evil in the sight of God.  Now Jehoahaz father had at least destroyed the temples of and killed all the priests to stop Israel’s worship of Baal.  But scripture tell us his heart was not set to follow the commandments of God.  He dies and now his son, Jehoahaz is on the throne.  Well Jehoahaz, like so many of the kings, does not learn any lessons about being a good king; for scripture tells us that he did evil in the sight of the Lord.  Remember, there is always consequences for sin, even if there is not complete condemnation.  So Israel follows Jehoahaz in sin and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Syrians where they were mistreated.

Now comes the amazing lesson.  Jehoahaz, the sinning King of Israel, Johoahaz who has led the people astray, in the midst of his sin, calls out for mercy to the Lord God Almighty.  Scripture tells us that he pleaded with the Lord….and the Lord listened!  The Lord acted upon Jehoahaz’s pleadings, provided a deliverer for His people and frees them from the Syrian oppression.  Sadly, you would think that would be enough to turn Jehoahaz around but it is not.  Jehoahaz continues to do evil and is killed in battle.

So here’s the blessed lesson for you and I today, dear sisters and brothers; God’s Mercy.  You see I confess that I have sinned.  Out of both fear of this world, as well as desires tied to this world, I have done those things which I ought not to have done and not done those things which I ought to have done had I been living a righteous, God fearing life.  There have been times when I felt that either the disappointment or anger of another person or perceived personal threat has fearfully driven me to actions against what God would have me do.  I have had times where earthly pride and desire have had me think, contemplate and carry out things which are decidedly against what God’s will for me has been.  In those times there are consequences for those actions.

But here’s the bottom line; God has never forsaken me.  God has never turned his back on me nor withheld His love from me.  He has kept me and when I have repented and confessed my sins, He has lifted me up with such incredible blessings and mercy, showing me His everlasting Love for me.  You see, dear sisters and brothers, we serve a Creator, Our Creator, of Love and Mercy; ever present to hear us when we call; not to condemn us, but to forgive us, not just once but over and over again.

What should our response be?  First let us strive to not be like Jehoahaz whereas upon witnessing Our Heavenly Father’s Mercy first hand, we act as if nothing has happened and continue in our evil, sinful ways.  Let us bow down in humility and thanksgiving, giving shouts of praise for the Love and Mercy of Our Heavenly Father.  Let us search ourselves looking at our own hearts to see the ways that we are not living into the Will of Our Heavenly Father.  Upon seeing those things, let us repent attempting to go forth in the power of Holy Spirit in ever more righteous living.

Yet understand this, we will fail.  Scripture tells us that we will sin.  God knows that is the case.  God knows that our sin should justly lead to our judgement and destruction.  And God acted.  No, He did not set up tribunal after tribunal and set wide open the gates of hell so that we would all perish due to our evil deeds.  No, God, in Love and Mercy, sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for us. That we, who believe in Jesus Christ as the only True Son of God; equal to God Himself, will not die in our sins, ever separated from Our Heavenly Father.  But will be forgiven our sins and thus, through His Mercy, live eternally in His Grace and Love.  That is the lesson that we can learn from 2 Kings and indeed each and all of the books of His Word.  Let it be that we are open to the learning in them.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim that Your Mercy is from everlasting to everlasting and far above and beyond our ability to comprehend.  Thank You that You have seen fit not to condemn us; but to send Your Son Jesus Christ to save us.  We also freely admit that we are sinners who must call upon Your Mercy to save us.  Again we praise You that You hear us when we call and time after time through countless times do not forsake us but deliver us.  Help us, through Your Holy Spirit, to live lives of evermore righteousness, love and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

 

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work….” Genesis 2:3

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work…….For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…..and rested the seventh day.”  Exodus 20: 8,10,11

If you were to look up rest on dictionary.com (which I did) you would find an overarching theme running through each of five definitions:  refreshment and tranquility.  Doesn’t sound much like a harshness or divisive command does it?  I want you to be refreshed.  I want you to experience tranquility.  Yet ever sense God gave that fourth commandment, it has been a bone of contention and judgement.  They wanted to condemn Jesus for “working” on the Sabbath.  Even today, the concept of “the Sabbath” is used to make judgement about others and conversely, the concept of rest  and those seeking it is the purview of slackers and those who are lazy.

So to start with, is there an significance to seven days?  I for one believe that all things, including science are blessings from God and are revelatory as to the Nature of God.  In the case of seven days, there is scientific evidence based on studies reported in the National Academy of Sciences and the University of Minnesota that show there is a circaseptans rhythm or cycle which is based on a seven day progression (not necessarily starting on Sunday and ending the following Saturday).  This cycle has shown to be critical to cell growth and the processes like hormone release and tumor formation.  An additional thing that has come from the studies show that there is a pronounced degradation in health and performance over time when a person works all seven days in a cycle without rest.

So science and the process of nature shows us that seven days is a cycle and rest is an essential component of that cycle.  Yet we are not just natural beings but spiritual as well.  Remember, we are made in the image of God.  So God, the Creator of all things, omnipotent and omniscient, felt the correctness of resting on the seventh day.  I obviously would not attempt to speak for God, so I can not say whether it was a need of His or an example for us.  The “why” behind His taking the seventh day to rest, I believe is irrelevant.  That He made it a commandment for us, shows that we are in need of it.

Okay, one might ask, let’s say I need it; so what should that day look like?  That is indeed the overarching question to this discussion.  I believe the answer goes back to two concepts: rest and holy.  Remember rest has the aspects of refreshment and tranquility.  So let’s say I do cease from the vocation for which I get paid but I just trade it for another effort which causes me similar or greater anxiety or stress (have you seen me play golf?) then it would be hard for me to say that I am appropriately observing the day (that is not say all golfers would fall into that category – not anti golf).  Second and equally as important; holy.  Several important aspects of holy deal with a purity of thought and action as well as a dedication to God.  For holy to exist, God must be the focus and not just an afterthought.  Thus I should be far more focused on my intentions toward the day then trying to find fault in yours.

Now comes the issue, now comes the judgement, now comes our potential downfall as we look to this commandment.  For holy, the idea of purity and dedication to God are subjective concepts by their nature.  And our nature is to fall back on rules that we can comply with.  Thou shall not __________ (fill in the blank).  Perhaps thou shall not pick ears of wheat to eat or thou shall not heal a person with a withered hand.  Those are two of the things that the authorities tried to punish Jesus for.  Yet Jesus admonished them, that they didn’t understand His (and Our) Father’s commandment.  Jesus was bringing both refreshment as well as dedication to God so He was in no way profaning the spirit of the Sabbath.   But the prince of this world wants us confused, judgmental and divided.  He wants us pointing fingers at each other, accusing each other of braking the rules and ignoring God.  The devil wants us adhering to some earthly code/commandment that is far from the reality of Our Heavenly Father’s intention.  There is one more thing the devil wants, if we decide to make the seventh day holy and dedicated to God, to leave God out of the other six.

The Truth is, Our Heavenly Father is the God of Love.  The commandments that He has given us are out of His Love for us and for our benefit, not His.  God knows that we need Him; all seven days.  Yet God knows that we need out of those seven days, a day of rest.  He knows that we need a day that if we will make it about bringing ourselves; body, mind and spirit into a tranquil place, dedicated to Him, He will supply a refreshment for each of us, in our entirety beyond anything we can do for ourselves.   It is up to us to understand how much we need that rest and come to Him in praise, to receive it.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, this is a world that will try and wear us down, drive us from You as it wants us to focus on the every day toil.  Help us, Most Merciful Father to heed Your example and make room for a Sabbath Day of rest.  Further help us to not just trade one toil for another; but truly come into a place of tranquility and dedication to You, Oh Father.  That in doing so, we know that You will provide a refreshing for our mind, body and soul.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.  So he looked and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.”  Exodus 3: 2

“Then Moses said to the Lord: ‘Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since…..but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”  Exodus 4:10

So many choices these days, so many voices.  We hear we are to do the will of God.  We also hear when something happens that must have been the will of God.  Yet sometimes the voices are divided.  “Do this as it is the will of God”, we hear from one side.  “No! this is what you should do to fulfill His will!”, we hear from another.  Boy if I could just see a burning bush!  It sure would be great if my shrubbery would talk to me.

I apologize for being a little flippant because the question is an important one; maybe the most important one.  How do I know what I’m supposed to do?  Where can I go to get Our Heavenly Father’s answer?  Why isn’t he showing me a sign?  First, I think that it is important to understand how much Our Heavenly Father knows about us; even more than we know ourselves.  We might say to ourselves (I know I have) but wow, if I could only have a burning bush message, I’d be all in.  I’d do exactly what I heard!  Come on God! let me have it!

Let’s take a look at a few actual human reactions to signs from God.  Moses and the burning bush for example.   It is impossible to portray the divine on a worldly stage but I Youtubed how Hollywood portrayed this interaction in the epic movie: The Ten Commandments.  Charlton Heston is a pretty amazing Moses, but the interaction does not seem to fit the emotion of the interaction between the Angel of the Lord and Moses. For Moses does first ask why me, and then he proceeds to dispute with God that He has chosen wisely.  Moses tries to make the points that the Israelite People will not know who sent him, won’t believe that he was sent, that Moses is not talented enough to be the right person.  The fact that this is all coming from the miracle of bush on fire but not consumed does not seem to have had an overwhelming impact on Moses.

How about the Israelite People themselves.  First they have seen the power of God in the plagues sent against Egypt, including the “Passover”.  They have been freed from Egypt leaving with loads of riches; gold and silver.  They have been spared from attack by the Egyptians by miraculously crossing through the Red Sea.  They are being led and protected, night and day, by God Himself, in the guise of a pillar of fire at night and pillar of smoke during the day.  How can it be that they would miss the will of God in these signs.  Yet time after time, they miss the Will of God and complain to Moses:  “You led us here to die of thirst!  You led us here to starve to death! Would that we have stayed in Egypt.  Hey, I’ve got a good idea, let us make a golden calf to bow down and worship!”  Doesn’t appear that God’s signs had an overwhelming impact here either.  There are many other times miraculous signs were not initially heeded; a talking donkey a dry or dew soaked fleece.  And lest we forget, the miracle after miracle performed by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that were completely dismissed.

Thus it is vital that we be honest with ourselves.  If God sent us a miraculous sign today.  If we were confronted with an indisputable direction to be taken.  And, if that direction was not one we thought we could succeed at, or if it was not a direction that we had planned to go; would we drop to our knees praising God and declaring that yes we will leave and do immediately? Or, would we question God’s sign, question God Himself and the wisdom of the course He has laid out for us?

Here’s one of the miraculous things to me in all of this; God’s Mercy and Patience.  Here is the Creator, giving a task to His created. And the created is replying:  Creator, I’m not so sure about this, not just once but several times.  Remembering the Power of the Creator in all things, one might expect He would judge His creation unworthy, bring destruction down and find another.  What did He do for Moses; gave him Aaron to accompany him.  What about the people of Israel when they complained about starving; sent manna and quail.  When the people denied Jesus and His miracles, Christ died for them and us.

So if a bush is not going to do it for us; what will?  As it was in the beginning and ever shall be; God will.  God has given us the reference material to His Will.  He has given us His Word to read and study that clearly outlines what He wants.  And He didn’t stop there; for if a picture is worth a thousand words, then an action, an example must be worth a hundred times that.  So God gave us the deeds of Himself in loving action with us and then when we needed The Perfect Example, Our Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to show us the way.  And He is not done giving.  For to provide us with insight we are incapable of through worldly logic or discernment, God has given us the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and touch our souls with the Wisdom and Love of God.

A burning bush?  A pillar of fire?  What are those examples compared to the Resurrected Christ!?  In Him we truly have all that we need.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, ever since the Garden of Eden, we have been trying to figure things out through our own devices.  You have sent us signs, prophets and even Your Only Son Jesus Christ.  Yet we confess, we struggle against those signs trying to interject our own.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father we pray.  Pour out Your Heavenly Strength that we might put aside all worldly logic and thought and humble ourselves and our will to the service of Your Will.  Through the Holy Spirit bring us to an understanding and willingness to follow what You would have us do.  That in following Your Will, we would bring glory, honor and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

“And from the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful………”  2 Samuel 11:2

“Then David sent messengers, and took her and she came to him and he lay with her……”  2 Samuel 11:4

STOP!  If you do not plan to read this post all the way through then I ask you to not go beyond here.  It is my hope that at the end this message will be uplifting and very positive.  However, if you stop part way through you may come to a completely different and unintended conclusion.

David, a brief recap to this point.  Youngest son of Jesse, he is said to possess a heart that belongs to God.  Time and time again David calls on God and praises God.  David, defeats Goliath, survives King Saul’s murder attempts, wins victory after victory, brings the Ark of God into the city of Jerusalem dancing widely in the streets.  David has many wives and is adored by the people.  A man that seems truly after God and what God wants.  Seemingly he can do no wrong.

David, it was spring.  David got up one warm night when others were normally resting.  He was on his splendid roof of a palace that he has earlier declared comes from a blessing from God.  David saw a woman; Bathsheba.  She is bathing.  It was not that she was being immodest but that from David’s vantage point he could see many things.  We are told that she is very beautiful.  David wants her.  David is so smitten with her that he does not wait.  He immediately inquires and finds out two things; who she is and that she is married.  David, King of Israel, a man after God’s own heart, a man who has received so many blessings from God; this same David, does not care.  He can’t even wait until the next day.  David immediately sends for her and then sleeps with her.  His sin produces a son which will cause David to eventually have Bathsheba’s husband killed to try and cover up his crime.  There can be no doubt.  David is Evil.

“Hold on just a second Doug!”: the world exclaims (and perhaps you).  It’s not his fault.  It is a result of the stress of battle.  It was the bullying of the Philistines.  It was really Bathsheba’s fault; she lured him into it!  Some others are reacting smugly.  Darn right David is evil.  No good kings, you can’t trust anyone one in power.  Some are saying: “If I had been David, I would not have done that!”  So two worldly responses; one, that evil doesn’t really exist.  The other response, yes there’s evil but it is always the other guy who does it, I’m certainly not evil.

God sighs.  For the bible is very clear; evil does exist.  And the bible is equally clear, we all succumb to it.  We all think and do evilly (remember please don’t stop at this point).  The world blasts back: “Not true! Not true!”  Let’s take a look.  In so many parts of the world; that a person is a woman means it is acceptable to perform horrible mutilations on her body.  To stop people from having basic freedoms it is acceptable to slaughter hundreds of thousands.  “Not in my country!” You say.  All over the world, children are killing children, senseless acts of violence are perpetrated over sporting events. Neighbor prays upon neighbor.  “Not me, I’ve never done that!” is the last vestige of our argument.  Jesus asks: “In your mind, have you ever been angry?, have you ever wanted someone or something that wasn’t yours?, have you ever passed by someone in need of help and completely disregarded them?, never once?” Well…….maybe.  Sadly, we are all fallen.  As in David, even the seeming best of us are capable of terrible things.

Wow Doug, way to go, really uplifting.  But wait here it comes.  If nothing else please, I implore you, let these next two statements sink in.  Our Heavenly Father knows me.  Our Heavenly Father loves me; just as I am.  Say those two statements out loud and take a moment or so then to be silent and let them soak in.  My Heavenly Father knows me.  My Heavenly Father loves me; just as I am.

You mean even in my evil state, with my fallen nature; My Heavenly Father loves me? Yes! A hundred thousand times yes!  How do we know?  How can you say that?  Look at the bible.  It’s not just David; Abraham lied, Peter denied, John pridefully argued about being great, Moses stumbled.  On and on, each person committed some evil.

What was God’s response?  “I have a plan.” He said.  “I will make you my people and give you laws about how you should treat one another to live in harmony.”  His plan was not a failure in that He knew and He spoke through His prophets that we as humans would not be able to follow them.  So what is Our Heavenly Father to do?  After a while people would turn throw up their hands, turn their backs and frustratingly exclaim: “I’m done with them!”

Our Heavenly Father instead said: “I love them so much, they are so important to me, that I will do for them what they can not do for themselves.  I will lay down something so precious, that it will once and for all remove the evil that they will do from my sight.”  So a star rose in the east and a virgin gave birth.  Our Heavenly Father calls out to us proclaiming:  “Out of love for you; yes you: (insert your name here) My Son Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,  God, Perfect, came down to die for you.  So that I will see your sin no more, your evil will no longer separate us.”  And if that is not joyously reaffirming enough He adds: “What do I want in return?  Simply that you believe.  That you believe that I love you and that I sent my son Jesus Christ to die for You and having been resurrected, He is now here with me.”

Dear brothers and sisters, in the end it is no downer.  The world is evil and yes without Christ we would be left to the world and its evil.  Yet Christ proclaims that we while we may be in the world we are not of the world!  We are new in him.  We are loved and in our best attempts we will try to live in that love but we will fail.  We will do evil.  We are imperfect.  But be of great cheer, He who is perfect has taken our punishment for us freely and out of love.  We have a sure promise of redemption and eternal relationship through the flesh and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We shall go forth in Joy, Peace and Confidence loudly proclaiming we are not better in and of ourselves, but we are saved in the Name of Jesus Christ!

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, hear this simple prayer.  Give us the strength to carry forward the message of Your Love, Your Redemption, Your Salvation, Your eternal victory over evil, to all people.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

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