Man Up 

1 Kings 2:2-3
“I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Israel is facing some very serious challenges. Their beloved king has grown old and is on the eve of his death, and the nation is divided between two drastically different successors. Surrounded by enemies and struggling with an array of internal conflicts, Solomon is chosen to take the throne and lead the nation. With what amounts to his final words, we read of a charge given by King David to his teenage son,

“I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man…

Today, there seems to be great confusion regarding what it means to be a man. An iconic figure from a few years ago was the Marlboro Man; a cowboy with a cigarette. More recently, we have been introduced to the most interesting man in the world; an aged playboy who consumes alcohol. We have movies like Fight Club, or the Fast and Furious series that portray manhood as living a fast paced life, not worrying about the consequences, and social media taught us a new term – YOLO – meaning you only live once. David had none of these things in mind when he charged Solomon to be a man. Instead, he defined true manhood when he said,

“Keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

A real man is one who looks to the word of God and lives by its principles. A real man is one who will not let culture shape him, but will be transformed by the Scriptures, into the image of Christ. It was Pilate, who looking at the beaten Christ declared, “Behold the Man.” And it is Christ who is the true image of manhood.

Like David, I believe that what our world needs is young people who will step up and act like men. Young men who will not be swayed by culture, but will seek to influence it, by taking heed to the Word of God and live accordingly.

Pastor Jim

 

One Man Army

1 Kings 1:36-37
“Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, ‘Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.’

As David’s final days drew near, a dark and ominous cloud hung over the nation of Israel. Following in the footsteps of his brother Absalom, Adonijah exalted himself in an attempt to usurp the nation’s throne. He convinced the princes of Israel, as well as the army, to join his rebellion. However, the palace guard, prophets and the mighty men remained loyal to David and young prince Solomon. The nation of Israel found itself once again on the brink of a civil war that would cost the lives of thousands.

In the midst of all this chaos, we are re-introduced to Benaiah. We met him earlier in the story line, and found him to be one of David’s mighty men. We read in 2 Samuel that He “killed two lion-like heroes of Moab, a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day and an Egyptian, a spectacular man” with his own spear. Benaiah was well known in his day for his acts of valor, but the greatest battle he ever fought was in a totally different realm.

As the armies of Israel joined forces to attack the king, Benaiah stood before the Lord and interceded for his nation.“May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”

This short prayer may be what saved the kingdom from a brutal civil clash.

It is important to remember the value of prayer. Instead of being quick to grab the sword, or enter the physical battle, we need to be instant in prayer. We must remember that the real battles will be won on our knees, as we intercede on behalf of others. One man’s plea, can rescue a nation.

Pastor Jim

 

Consequences

2 Samuel 24:10
“And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’”

King David committed a sin by taking a census of the people, rather than trusting in the arm of God as Israel’s defense. His sin was forgiven, but the consequences were grave.

This passage is a vivid illustration of temptation, failure, repentance and results. In the parallel passage in Chronicles we read,

1 Chronicles 21:1
” Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.”

The initial cause of David’s sin was giving into temptation. Instead of rejecting unbiblical thinking, he chose to entertain his thoughts, and before long found himself giving in. It is not uncommon for us to be bombarded with ungodly thoughts. We harbor bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness toward those we perceive have wronged us, and this often leads to justifying ungodly attitudes and actions. Many relationships have been destroyed because we entertained ungodly thoughts, which we should have used the shield of faith to destroy.

David’s thoughts soon led him to action and he took a census of Israel, rather than trusting the Lord. Almost immediately, he was bombarded with guilt and shame. Guilt can be positive or negative, depending upon how we react ito it. Often, guilt will lead to unhealthy actions like isolation, depression or substance abuse. Instead, David allowed his guilt to drive him to the one place it could be appeased; David sought the Lord. His prayer was simply confession. He did not attempt to justify his actions, but admitted his guilt. Years after this, the apostle John wrote

1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Because of the sufficiency of the cross, we can cry out to God, and all sin will be forgiven and intimacy with the Lord restored. That truth will never change, but there is a parallel truth that this passage illustrates. Although his sin was forgiven, there were still consequences for his actions. While living through these consequences, David learned to rely upon the mercy of God.

Perhaps you have failed in a big way and are living in the realm of the consequences. Your actions may have cost you a lot. Will you allow me to encourage you to trust in the mercy of God, and cling to Him, as He seeks to minister to you and those who you have wronged. You might not see immediate results, but a life of repentance will put you back on the road that ultimately leads to blessings. For David, it was this season in his life where he took the first step toward building the Temple, which in the long run, would serve as a place where many were drawn to God.

Pastor Jim

 

The Challenge 

2 Samuel 23:8
“These are the names of the mighty men whom David had…”

David was a man mightily used by God. Although he started his journey walking alone into the valley to fight the giant, he did not remain alone. David’s faith was magnetic, and he was soon surrounded by men of great faith. This chapter tells the story of some of the men who surrounded the king. Among those listed are:

* Adino – He had killed eight hundred men at one time.

* Eleazar – He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day.

* Shammah – He stationed himself in the middle of a field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

* Three mighty men – broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem and brought it to David.

* Abishai – He lifted his spear against three hundred men.

* Benaiah – He killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day; and he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear.

With heroic faith, these men stepped out, risking their own lives, for the furtherance of the Kingdom. Living like that, they had an impact upon their generation, and upon every generation that followed. Countless Christians have been encouraged in the work of the Lord, by the faith of David’s mighty men. They are an example of living recklessly for the Kingdom of God.

As I read their stories, two things happen within me. First, I am encouraged, second I am challenged. It is the challenge I would like to bring before you. Take a moment to examine your life. What are you doing for the Kingdom? When is the last time you took a risk, of any kind, in the service of Christ? Perhaps you need to recklessly approach your personal sanctification, using the Sword of the Spirit to cut out some things that do not belong. Perhaps it is time to examine the use of your time, and enlist yourself in service for the King. Whatever the case, when this life, which is like a vapor, comes to an end, we want to be on a list as one of the mighty men.

Pastor Jim

 

Battle Plan 

2 Samuel 22:35
“He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

As the sun begins to set on David’s life, he begins to recall how faithful the Lord has been. As king of a nation surrounded by hostile adversaries, he was faced with constant battles. With the poetic expression he became known for, he attributes his success to the Lord.  It was never his strength that led to victory, but the enabling work of God.

Our situation is quite different than David’s. Few of us are facing armed adversaries attempting to take our kingdom and our life. That does not mean we are not engaged in continual warfare. Each of us faces constant attacks from within that attempt to keep us from growing in Christ, or serving Him. It is important that we allow God to “teach our hands to make war.”

It is important to keep in mind who the enemy really is. Christians are notorious for engaging in the wrong battles. We rally the troops to fight on the wrong fronts, and as a result, end up giving away vital territory. The greatest enemy of the Christian is our own self-centered desires, that drive us to disobedience. The battle plan for such an enemy is self-denial. Jesus declared that following Him required denying ourself. Our passions, desires, and emotions must be held in check by the word and Spirit of God. We need to pray that He would “teach our hands to make war.”

Pastor Jim

 

Giant Killers 

2 Samuel 21:22
“These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”

In middle school, I could always be found hanging around with my friend Sean. We spent so much time together, we soon walked and talked the same. Truly, we had a walk; it was more like a strut. If you can imagine two 12 year old kids, 4’10″ tall, weighing in at 80lbs, strutting their way from class to class on the middle school campus, then you have a good idea of what that looked like. My point is, hanging together, we soon became like one another. This principle was true of those who hung around David, and is true of us today.

When we are first introduced to David, he is stepping into a valley to fight a foe that can only be described as a giant. Over 9ft tall and weighing well over 300lbs, stood a warrior that put fear into the hearts of all who saw him. The greatest champions of Israel cowered in their tents at the sound of his bellowing voice. Then came David. A young man, undaunted by the boastings of this giant, boldly approached, and in poetic fashion, defeated Goliath. There is little doubt, being around this young man would have a tremendous effect upon your life. It seems almost predictable, that we should read of David’s friends also conquering giants.

Solomon would later exhort us to choose our friends wisely. One reason is, we become like those with whom we spend time. It is so important to find others who will challenge us to press onward and upward in Christ. I personally want to be around men who will challenge me to be more holy, loving, and bold in my service of Christ.

Look around, are you surrounding yourself with those who influence you to become more like Jesus? Or are you settling for those who will allow you to be comfortable in compromise?

Pastor Jim

 

It’s Not Free

2 Samuel 19:4
“But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’”

I recently watched a news segment which focused on two teenagers who decided to rob a local business. One of the boys was reluctant to get involved, while the other boasted confidently that “no one would get hurt.” Sadly, as the story unfolded, one man lay dead and two young men were sent to prison for life. Sin is just like that. It promises to bring us happiness, and ensuring us that no one will get hurt. Regrettably, David found this out the hard way. One night, while allowing his passion to be distracted from the Lord, David made the choice to pursue his lust and begin a relationship with another woman. What he thought would bring him pleasure, continued to cost him over and over again. This chapter reveals some of those costs.

After what must have been the worst battle of David’s life, his son Absalom lay dead in the street. Because of David’s inability to deal with the pain, the nation was confused and susceptible. It did not take long for someone to seize the opportunity and take advantage of Israel’s vulnerability; the nation was divided, turning the cities into a battle field.

We must be clear, even though sin is confessed, repented of, and will always be forgiven, it never comes without cost. No man is an island, and we never sin only unto ourselves. When a man walks away from his family, his children and unborn grandchildren will be impacted. This will become a great mountain they will struggle to clim, for the rest of their lives.

If you are toying with sin because you have such a difficult life, believing you deserve the pleasure you think it will bring, remember the consequences of sin are far greater than you want to pay. You don’t want to observe all that you have built being ripped apart, as you weep at the loss of that which matters most to you.

Pastor Jim