Tag Archives: King David

“With” or “As,” That Is the Question

If you are old enough to have any memory of 1993, and if you were living anywhere in the Southeast at the time, “Storm of the Century” means something to you.

Like when Kennedy was shot, when Elvis died, or when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Superstorm of 1993 was one that left people remembering where they were, who they were with, and how long they were cooped up.

For some of you, snow is no big deal. Heck, you’ve even got shoes to wear in it. But in the South, where an inch of snow can shut everything down, 19-21 inches of the white stuff practically cataclysmic! And that’s what we got when the “Storm of the Century” came through.

But wherever you get snow, especially if it’s just enough to cover everything with a blanket of white, for a little while everything is so pretty, isn’t it? Even the trashiest places in your neighborhood (like the guy’s yard with all the car parts strewn around the lawn, or the grimy streets of some major, liberal-run city) can momentarily appear sanitary and safe.

Unfortunately, what covers up something doesn’t necessarily make it better, fix the problems, or make it any safer than it was before.

Back in March of ’93, when the snow in my yard was 21 inches deep, we had a blast jumping and falling into it. We had no fear of falling backwards, forwards, or any direction because the snow was just so deep that we would never hit anything hard.

However, what we never considered was that as we did the same thing around the neighborhood the risk of injury was much greater. We never stopped to think that just under the surface of that soft blanket of white could lie a broken bottle, a board with a nail sticking through it, or a pitchfork.

In Psalm 52 we read King David’s sorrowful prayer of repentance following his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Throughout the psalm we sense how dirty he felt, begging God to “wash,” “cleanse,” and “purge” him. Then, in verse seven David mentions snow.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

Notice, David was wanting his unrighteousness to be washed away so that he would be white AS snow, not covered with it.

The prophet Isaiah also mentioned snow in this context.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Snow is the adjective, not the object. The desire is to be as clean and white as freshly fallen snow, not covered with it.

David knew the difference between works and grace. He knew there was nothing he could do to cleanse himself; only God could do that. Yet so many today simply try to cover up their sin with the snow of good deeds, appropriate associations, philanthropy, and religiosity. Sadly, all they really end up with are “whitewashed tombs” full of dead men’s bones.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers [tombs], which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Jesus – Matthew 23:27 (KJV)

Have you ever asked yourself why it is that a snow-blanketed landscape is so beautiful? What about it appeals to us, especially when underneath the white are myriads of color, even if only multiple shades of brown and gray? Could it be that within humanity is desire to be clean? To be free from guilt? To be forgiven? To be “white as snow.”

Could it be that the beauty of fallen snow is more innate than perceived? Could it be that there’s more to it than simple aesthetic beauty, but a spiritual longing?

What is your desire? Don’t try hiding your mess with the snow! May snow itself lie and wish to be as white as the soul redeemed with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

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Psalm 100 for Thanksgiving

As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, I believe it would be very helpful to look at what God’s Word says. People can debate the story of the Pilgrims, their survival, and the relationship they had with the native people after that first deadly winter, but there should be no debate that God deserves ALL our praise, obedience, worship, and thanksgiving.

Therefore, I would ask you to take a few minutes to walk with me through a short Psalm of thanksgiving: Psalm 100.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations. – Psalm 100:1-5 KJV

The Divisions

When I break down Psalm 100, I see it divided into two distinct sets of 3, a middle, and a prelude consisting of three reasons for our thanksgiving, worship, and praise.

The prelude to which I refer is not at the beginning of the chapter, but at the end. It is verse 5 that gives us the reasons for why we should be thankful. However, when delivering this outline in sermon form, moving verse 5 to the beginning keeps us focused on God’s goodness, His mercy, and His immutability throughout the discourse.

Therefore, observe below how the entirety of Psalm 100 could be (and was) preached.

  • Because (“for”) the LORD is good
  • Because … His mercy is everlasting
  • Because … His truth endureth to all generations

            The Christian’s Invitation

            1.  Praise! “Make a joyful noise…”

            2.  Obey! “…serve the LORD with gladness…”

            3.  Worship! “…com before his presence with singing…”

                        A) Know the LORD he is God

                        B) [Know] it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves

                        C) [Know] we are His people and the sheep of His pasture

            The Stranger’s Invitation

            1.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving

            2.  Enter His courts with praise

            3.  Be thankful and bless His name

The Citizen’s Invitation

The reason I think we can divide the psalm into the described divisions is based on the context in which David wrote Psalm 100. The imagery is that of a king and his kingdom. In this case we are talking about the King of Kings who is Sovereign over all the Earth.

Therefore, when we look at verses 1 and 2, we can see actions implored of citizens, while verse 4 can be seen as an invitation to those “on the outside looking in.”

Because the LORD is good…because His mercy is everlasting…because His truth endureth to all generations, the citizens of His kingdom can and should praise, obey, and worship with a joy that only comes with the realization and wonder developed in relationship with the King.

The Middle

Like I mentioned at the first, there is a middle part. This is the part that separates the citizen’s invitation and the stranger’s invitation. It is found in verse 3.

  • Know the LORD he is God
  • [Know] it is he that hath made us, not we ourselves
  • [Know] we are his people, the sheep of his pasture

Proper theology, the biblical kind, is essential to not only knowing who God is, but knowing Him personally. The word translated “know” is the same word used in Genesis 3:7 which described how Adam and Eve felt upon realizing their nakedness – their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked. Until we open our eyes and see who God is, not a man-made version, then our worship will not only be incomplete, but it will be powerless.

(See Elohiym in Genesis 1:1. See also how Jesus describes the Triune God in Matthew 28:19.)

The Stranger’s Invitation

By “stranger” I mean the one on the outside looking in, the non-citizen. The invitation in verse 4 can be seen as calling out to the ones who long to be part of such a nation of people as the children of God. It is an invitation to “enter the gates.”

When you think of an old, biblical-type city, don’t you think of walled cities with gates? Well, when one was outside the gate, locked outside, entering in without an invitation would be called an invasion, right? That is why Jesus said that “no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus IS the Door, the Gate. But, the invitation is there. “Enter with thanksgiving!”

Why enter with thanksgiving? Because you have heard the great noise of the shouts of praise! The joyful roo-ah’ that was the war cry of praise shouted out by the Israelites in Joshua 6:16 and 20 has been ringing in your ears. YOUR king isn’t good. Your king isn’t merciful. Your king is always changing his mind, always unpredictable. Enter? Why YES! Joyfully and thankfully!

Why enter His courts with praise? The stranger no longer has to worry about being brought into the throne room to be judged. The poor and needy, mourning over sin, needs not worry about his countenance when stepping into the presence of Majesty! No, the invitation is to “enter his courts with praise,” because this King is merciful beyond compare and “willing that none should perish!”

The invitation is there, so “be thankful and bless his name.”

And it can ONLY be done, both citizen and stranger, because the LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Regret: Let’s Talk About It

The place I preached to myself.

In one of the last sermons I’ll ever preach at South Soddy Baptist, I addressed a subject we’ll all deal with sooner or later…Regret.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been dealing with a little bit of regret, myself, as I leave one ministry behind and move to another. Therefore, even though this subject is one from which all of us could benefit, I think the Lord allowed me to preach to myself.

Below is an expanded outline of the sermon “Dealing With Regret.”


Regret in the Bible

There are several verses in the Bible that deal directly with the subject of regret. Some include the very words of famous Bible characters who have found themselves looking back and wishing things had been done differently.

David

One of the classic Psalms of King David (Psalm 51) is full of regret – regret for what he had done regarding adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Read the text, below, and try to get a sense of the weighty sorrow he must have been feeling when he came to realize the depth of the sin he had committed.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:7-10 CSB

This kind of regret is a good kind of regret! In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read that “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” In other words, David looked back on his actions and was sorry for them, wished that they had never happened, and that led him to seek forgiveness from the only One who could offer it.

Job

Poor old Job! I mean, this guy did everything right, yet he suffered in ways most of humanity will never come close to enduring. Is it any wonder why he had regrets? Well, his regrets were not for things he had done, but for the fact that he was born. Just read what he said after losing everything – his children, his wealth, his health, and even the support of his wife – in just one day.

May the day I was born perish, and the night that said, “A boy is conceived.” If only that day had turned to darkness! May God above not care about it, or light shine on it. … Why was I not stillborn; why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why did the knees receive me, and why were there breasts for me to nurse? Now I would certainly be lying down in peace; I would be asleep. Then I would be at rest – Job 3:3-4, 11-13 CSB

Thankfully, God knew better than Job that his life was still worth living, despite all he had lost. He had no way of knowing that it was all a test, and one that he would ultimately pass.

Peter

Then there was Peter, the boastful disciple who swore he would stick with Jesus right to the end, yet denied him three times, just like Jesus promised he would do. What did Peter do?

Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. – Luke 22:61-62 CSB

Do you think Peter had any regrets? Of course he did! But how wonderful it was when Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” No coincidence there.

Judas Iscariot

One of the most tragic stories of regret is the story of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Disillusioned the the ministry of Jesus, Judas probably thought he was doing everybody a favor by turning Him over. But when he came to his senses and realized what he’d done, his regret took a deadly turn.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said. “What’s that to us? ” they said. “See to it yourself! ” So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:3-5 CSB

Sadly, so many people these days do the same thing Judas did, in some way or another. They do something they regret, and instead of asking for forgiveness, they take their own lives. How different things could have been had Judas just asked Jesus to forgive him! But he didn’t live to eat that fish breakfast with Peter.

Fulton Oursler once said, “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” When you stop and think about it, that’s pretty profound, especially when you consider that placing ourselves on the cross in the middle removes the only true Savior from the equation. When we take His place, regret is all we have – there’s no One to accept our repentance and offer forgiveness.

Combating Regret

So how do we combat regret? How do we get past the things that we’ve done, the things that we’ve said, the things about which we are ashamed, and move forward?

Let me share with you four things to remember, all based on different passages of Scripture.

Four Ways to Combat Regret…

  1. Pass the past and press for the prize. “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing [I do:] forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NASB).If you’re still alive, you’re still in the race! You can’t win a race by always looking back at the places where you’ve stumbled. Know you’ve messed up, ask forgiveness, then get back at it.
  2. Let the tub drain! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).Much of our debilitating regret is linked to having never forgiven ourselves, or having never fully accepted the forgiveness we’ve been given by Christ. Do you realize that when you don’t forgive yourself for something that Jesus has, you are essentially saying that your verdict is more important than God’s. In other words, if you’ve been forgiven by the One who died so that you could be, it’s a smack in His face to continually condemn yourself. If you’ve been forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness, let it go down the drain!
  3. There’s still a lion, so stop lyin’ around! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).
    Don’t forget that we have an Enemy. The time you spend sulking over past defeats, looking back into the darkness of your past, or wiping away the tears of self-pity is time you are allowing the devil to sneak back in and do more damage. Keep your mind in the fight and watch out – others are depending on you, too!
  4. Look up and perk up! “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:4-5 NASB).
    What’s probably one of the best ways to combat regret? Keep your eyes on Jesus!

In a letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul spoke as one who had no regrets. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Yet, this same apostle admitted he did things he didn’t want to do, and he didn’t do things he wanted to do – in other words, there were things he wished he could have done differently.

However, when all was said and done, Paul spoke as one who had no regrets, for he had fought a “good fight,” finished the course that had been set before him, and “kept the faith.” The key is that he never gave up, but kept fighting and running until the end.

Alexander Graham Bell said:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 

There are so many things I could have, should have done differently, but if I keep looking back at the closed door behind me, the wide-open door of opportunity will never be walked through. I can’t undo or redo the past, but I can learn from it.

So, enough with the feelings of regret – I’m giving it to Jesus, letting the tub drain, and pressing forward toward the finish line.

You should, too. 

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He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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Are You Anything Like David?

King David was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Wouldn’t it be great for God to think of you and me that way?

David had absolute faith in God (1 Samuel 17:37); he loved his law – the Word of God (Psalm 119:47-48); he was truly thankful (Psalm 26:6-7); and he was truly repentant (2 Samuel 12:13).* Are you like David in any of these things? Even a little?

Well, how about this…how often do you go to church? Do you even have the desire?

David did.

 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. – Psalm 122:1

Sadly, so many of you have fallen into this line of thinking that argues going to a building to worship is an unbiblical, modern construct – the early church just met in their homes and read scripture, sang, and ate pizza (or the equivalent).  Is that how David would have thought?

Are you anything like David?

church glad to go

 

*Source: GotQuestions.Org

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He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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A Pit Stop Before Direction

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. – Psalm 40:2

The Pits

Can you imagine being in a deep, dark, hole? Imagine no cell phone, no rope, no ladder, and nothing but slippery, muddy walls. The ground on which you stand, if you could call it ground, is nothing but thick, sticky, pull-the-shoes-off-your-feet miry mud. If you could manage to climb, you’d first have to find a way to pull your feet from the clay.

That’s the kind of circumstance I believe David was describing, but not a literal pit, like an ancient well or cistern; he was talking about his circumstances. David wasn’t really in a well, at least not the kind that held water. He hadn’t really fallen into a muddy pit. The pit David was describing was not all that dissimilar to the pits we fall into every day.

Faith and Waiting

What is it like to fall into the pit of depression? What about the pit of financial ruin? What’s it like to be trapped in the pit of emotional or physical pain? Are the walls in the pit of broken relationships any less slippery? As with the pit David was in, does the pit you’re in, or have been in, make your feet feel stuck, yet unsteady? See, David understands – and so does God.

What did David do while in the pit? As noted in verse one, he cried and he waited. Now, that’s not too hard to do in the average pit, is it? I mean, when you are down in a hole it’s not that difficult to cry and to wait – what else is there to do? But instead of just crying, instead of just waiting, David cried unto the Lord and waited patiently on Him for deliverance. While in the pit David put his faith in God.

Perfect Timing

Then, once the time was right, deliverance came. And when it came, which was in God’s timing, David was lifted out of the pit, set on solid ground, and pointed in the right direction.

Think about it: David didn’t get out of the pit when he wanted or how he wanted to; he had to depend on God. What if David had had a stroke trying to deliver himself? How many people kill themselves (literally and figuratively) trying to get out of their pits? How many people never cry out to God for help, never wait patiently, but curse the circumstance, frantically flailing about in a useless attempt to get free? Maybe you are in a miry pit for a reason, to cause you to trust God.

One thing is for sure, when you are in a pit there aren’t many places you can go fast. Unless you’re going up, right or left, east or west, really makes no difference, does it? When you’re in a pit, all you can think about is the pit. But what happens when you do get out? What then? Where do you go? When God lifted David up out of the miry pit, He set his feet on solid ground and made sure he set off in the right direction. Maybe you are still in a pit because the timing is not right for the direction you need to go. Maybe you are still in the pit because you are so week from trying to deliver yourself – if lifted out you might simply fall right back in. Again, wait patiently on the Lord.

Learn While You Wait

All pits are horrible, aren’t they? But as we wait patiently on the Lord, knowing He has heard our cry, maybe we should take note of where we are, how we got here, and how to warn others of the dangers, the darkness, and the loneliness. There is something to learn until deliverance comes.

God doesn’t want to leave you in a miry pit, but what we learn while there may impact the timing of our deliverance and the direction of our going when free.

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