Don’t Get Ahead Of God’s Blessing

When David was settled in his palace, he summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant is out there under a tent!”

Nathan replied to David, “Do whatever you have in mind, for God is with you.”

But that same night God said to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: You are not the one to build a house for me to live in.’” (1 Chronicles 17:1-4)

David’s desire to build a home for the Ark of the Covenant was a noble desire, and David’s passion for God was contagious! So much so that Nathan the prophet gave a hearty “Amen!” without a moment’s pause. 

Except no one—not good King David or Nathan the righteous prophet—consulted God about this. 

Nathan had to return to David with God’s word: “You’re not the one to build the Temple.”

Note this—

No matter how noble or God-honoring something sounds to us, God must be the one to give us permission to proceed. 

DON’T say, “God, this is what I’m going to do, please bless it.” 

But DO say, “God, what would You have me do? Because that is what You will bless.”

The Wonder Of God’s Forgiveness

King David was intimately confident that God would hear his prayers. No matter what—even if David had sinned.

The prophet Nathan confronted David after David had committed adultery with another man’s wife, gotten her pregnant, and then had her husband killed to try to cover up their affair. David assumed he had gotten away with it, but God sent Nathan to tell David that He knew all about it.

David immediately went to prayer.

His prayer is instructive for us when we sin too. David’s appeal to God for forgiveness is based solely on God’s ability and willingness to forgive, not on any merits David brings.

In this prayer, David presents a tally sheet. On his side of the ledger, he lists my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin, my bloodguilt. He sums it up with, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.

David also tallies up God’s side of the ledger: You are right, You are just, You are righteous.

We might be tricked into thinking that a Perfect Being like this wants nothing to do with a sinful creature like you and me. But this is completely wrong! David appeals to God’s unfailing love, and Your great compassion. He lists God’s desire to cleanse, wash, blot out sins, restore, and release from blood-guiltiness.

David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And immediately Nathan responded, “The Lord has taken away your sin.”

Sin is all on me! Restoration is all on God!

With this in mind, we learn that the mark of a maturing Christian is not one who never sins, but one who…

  1. …feels a broken heart because of their sin (see Psalm 51:10)
  2. …confesses my sin
  3. …confidently asks for His forgiveness
  4. …helps others who have sinned (v. 13)
  5. …continues to abide in Jesus (vv. 10-12)

God is quick to forgive. Are we equally as quick to ask for His forgiveness?

You can study more of the lessons from the prayers of David:

Thursdays With Oswald—How God Prepares His Workers

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

How God Prepares His Workers

     If the worker for God is going to go all lengths for God for the cure of souls, he has to allow God to examine to deep down the possibilities of his own nature. That is why it is hard to deal with the “two-faced.” That is why, Christian worker, God will take you through disciplines and experiences that are not meant for your particular life; they are meant to make you ready for God to send as He sent Nathan [2 Samuel 12:1]. … 

     Worker for God, before you go among the infirm, the sick, the subtle, the hypocritical, let God deal with you. A child cannot wield the sword of the Spirit; it must be wielded by one fed on strong meat, one who has been deeply dealt with and examined by God’s Spirit, in whom the last springs and possibilities of iniquity and wrong in his own nature have been disclosed to him that he may understand the marvel of God’s grace. …  

     God grant that we may understand that working for the cure of souls is not a babe’s work; it is a man’s work, requiring man’s power, grasped and transformed by God Almighty, so that God can get straight through the worker to the man He is waiting for. 

From Workmen Of God

Being used by God is no light, trivial matter. God wants to use you to reach those “He is waiting for.” But in order for you to “wield the sword of the Spirit,” you first have to allow God to strengthen and prepare you.

Are you willing to let God prepare you for His service? It will require us to pray, as Jesus did, “Father, not My will, but Yours be done.”

6 Quotes On Mourning From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are those who mourn (Matthew 5:4)…

“The word that Jesus used in this Beatitude is the strongest word in the Greek language for mourning. It is the word for Jacob’s morning over what he thought was the death of Joseph (Genesis 37:35). … Jesus uses this word to show the intensity of mourning He blesses here. He is, however, actually talking about mourning not over death but over our sin.”

“To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to be convicted of one’s sin, whereas to ‘mourn’ is to be contrite for it.” —John Blanchard

“King David committed two sins: first adultery, and then (essentially) murder to try to cover up his adultery. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him, and in his skillful accusation of David, Nathan twice used the word despised (2 Samuel 12:7-11). First, David despised the Word of the Lord—that is, he despised the law of God (verse 9). In so doing, he also despised the Person of God (verse 10). Why is this true? Despising the law of God is not only an expression of rebellion. It is also a despising of His very character, since His law is a reflection of His character. This is true not only of such heinous sins as adultery and murder, but also of our more refined sins: pride, selfishness, gossip, and the like. So let us pray that God will indeed allow us to see our sin as rebellion against the rule of God—a despising of God’s law and even of His character.”

“Failure to see our sin as primarily against God is, I believe, the reason we experience so little heartfelt grief over it. … But be it ever so small in our own eyes, whenever we sin we also break God’s law. And Scripture says, ‘Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it’ (James 2:10). God’s law is seamless, one complete whole. So when we break any of it, we break the whole law.”

“Is mourning over sin just for those first coming to Christ? No, Jesus’ words are in the present active tense. We could literally translate them as ‘blessed are those who continue to mourn.’ He is pronouncing a blessing on those whose attitude toward their sin is characterized by mourning. One mark of a growing Christian, then, is a growing sense of his or her sin, and an attitude of mourning over it.”

“So mourning over our sin is truly a display of humility in action. We cannot be proud and mourn over sin at the same time. We cannot be judgmental toward other believers, or even toward unbelievers, if we are truly contrite and brokenhearted over our own sin.”

I just shared quotes on blessed are the poor in spirit. Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Foretastes are good. Unless they become substitutes. O, don’t let all the sweet things of this season become substitutes of the final great, all-satisfying Sweetness. Let every loss and every delight send your hearts a-homing after heaven.” —John Piper

“Are you in a season of winter?  A lost job… A doctor’s report… A broken marriage? Maybe you feel stuck in winter, like Christmas may never come. As scripture says, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. So just like the wise men of the Christmas story…search for the Lord. Look for Him in the midst of your darkest nights and coldest winters. Hope may seem as distant as a star, but if the Christmas story tells us anything…God is still present. God is still working. And in this very moment, God is near.” —Max Lucado

“If there had been no prophet like Nathan—no piercing, prophetic word—David could have ended up like Saul: spiritually dead, with no Holy Ghost guidance, having lost all intimacy with God. … If you are being probed by God’s Word—if His Spirit isn’t letting you sit comfortably in your sin—then you are being shown mercy. It is the deep love of God at work, wooing you out of death and into life.” —David Wilkerson

“If regrets about yesterday’s decisions and actions help you do better work today, then they’ve served a useful purpose. … Most of the time, though, we use regrets to keep us from moving forward. They paralyze us in the face of possibility. We don’t want to do something if it reminds us of that black hole we have in our past. It’s useful if you can forgive yourself, because the regrets you’re carrying around are keeping you from holding onto the possibility that you can contribute even more tomorrow.” —Seth Godin

Live Action shares an important post: Abortion and the church—what can we do?

Nature shares some science myths that won’t die.

Ty Cobb is my all-time favorite Detroit Tiger. Here is a cool timeline of his life.

[VIDEO] Excellent word from Bobby Conway: How should a Christian vote?—

Loyalty

How would you define loyalty? All of the dictionary definitions have to do with faithfulness. It’s almost implied that there is a blindness (at worst), or a dogged persistence (at best), to remain loyal to a person or to an idea. The thinking goes, “If I’m loyal to someone, like it or not, I become their Yes-man.”

But I think…

Loyalty is not telling people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

For an example, take the prophet Nathan in the Bible. We don’t know how old he is when he steps on the scene, or even where he came from. There isn’t a clue as to his tribal ancestry, or even his father’s name.

King David wanted to build a temple for the ark of the covenant, and he asked Nathan about this. Nathan immediately said, “Yes!” (Kinda reinforces that idea of loyalty = Yes-man, doesn’t it?) But wait! That night, God speaks to Nathan and says, “Tell David he’s not the one to build the temple for Me.” So Nathan returns to David and loyally tells him no.

Later on, David steals another man’s wife, and contrives a plan to have that man murdered on the battlefield. David thinks he’s gotten away with it until Nathan, the loyal friend, shows up to confront David with his sin. Nathan didn’t want to see David fail, but he wanted to give him a chance to confess and repent.

Near the end of David’s life, one of David’s sons, Adonijah, wanted to take the throne for himself. Many of the officials in David’s palace jumped on the bandwagon, but loyal Nathan did not. In fact, Nathan even got word to the King about Adonijah’s plans. As a result, David asked Nathan to anoint Solomon as king.

During David’s life, Nathan wrote David’s biography. If Nathan was just a mindless Yes-man, he could have easily left out the messy parts of David’s life. But the loyal friend wanted to show future readers that we all mess up, but God forgives and restores us when we repent.

Nathan’s name means the gift God gave or a giver. Both meanings fit this loyal man.

David was so blessed by Nathan’s loyalty that he named one of his sons after the prophet.

Loyal friends give their friends the gift of life. They don’t let friends go down a destructive path. They don’t join with others when they attack. They remain constant, always-there, friends.

What a blessing to be called a loyal friend! And what an even greater blessing to have “Nathans” in our own lives!

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