Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – Fulfilled Promise

Our lives are full of assumptions. We assume we will wake up tomorrow. We assume we will eat later today. You may even assume this blog post will come to an end at some point. The point is we all make assumptions – many of which are harmless and are the result of routine or habits. Current events or circumstances can influence our assumptions as well as how we think or act. Life experiences will certainly influence our thoughts and lead to all types of assumptions.But whether we hear something, or see something, or are given something, we often make assumptions rather than trying to understand the truth. But do we also make assumptions about God and His actions? Of course. And when we do, we do a great disservice to ourselves and to God. This statement is true of anything, but particularly regarding the promises of God.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Likewise, in Malachi 3:6, God says, “For I the Lord do not change...” Therefore, we can trust God’s promises (see also Titus 1:2), but how and when He decides to fulfill His promises are up to Him. As tempting as it may be to impose our thoughts upon God, we must be careful to not assume God will act exactly as we might expect. As the message will reveal today, even when circumstances seem to contradict themselves, God’s promises will not be compromised.

God’s promise to provide an heir for David is one of the great prophesies in Scripture. Although David’s son Solomon was to be a part of the fulfillment (building the house temple for God in 7:13), the grander fulfillment is, obviously, through Jesus. However, most wrongfully assume that Jesus was a descendant of Solomon as well. But per God’s decree, if that happened, God would have to break another of His promises. However, we know Jesus was born, and I am here to tell you today that God kept all of His promises in the process.

A Promise Made (2 Samuel 7:12)

The Bible contains numerous promises from God towards man. But God never makes a promise lightly. Conversely, we often forget promises we make (although we tend not to forget the promises that others make to us). And many times we make promises that we ultimately cannot control. For instance, I remember making a few promises to my children when they were younger only to have to cancel them because I had to work late or go into work on a Saturday.

But what about promises made between us and God? Have you ever made a promise to God? Have you kept it? If not, why not? Oftentimes we make excuses which might make us feel better, but do we truly think our excuses will relieve us from our responsibilities to God? Truthfully, we often forget our promises to God, but God never forgets a promise He has made to us. The problem is that we make assumptions on how and when He will fulfill them. However, He gets to fulfill His promises in His time, not ours, which may mean it will not even be in our lifetimes (consider Hebrews 11). Consider our passage for today.
  1. David is promised an heir to his throne. (2 Sam 7.12)
  2. The promise was not to be seen in David’s lifetime. (2 Sam 7.16)
  3. The promise was not forgotten by Israel (see Matthew 22:41-46)

So God is a promise maker. But everyone makes some sort of promises. So we need to dig deeper to make sure we can trust God to keep the promises He makes.

A Promise Challenged (Jeremiah 22:30)

Have you ever received a promise and then you heard the same promise given to someone else that seems to take away the promise to you? Or instead of receiving it, perhaps you made it. Sometimes these issues can be accidental, but that does not remove the damages. For instance, you might remember a few years ago, we did a musical presentation on a Sunday morning, and then again the next day on Christmas Eve. I told Susan that she should choose the singers for the different songs, but I had already told one person that they could sing a particular song. Well, Susan asked another person without me having told her what I had done. That presented an awkward situation. And I had to apologize, and the situation created a distrust for many months.

But in the situation we will review now, the promise God made to David was threatened because of how the nation of Israel became increasingly corrupt over time (in part because of their wicked kings, with only a few exceptions). First, the kingdom was divided, and later each nation was taken into captivity. It was during that time God made another promise which seemingly undermines His earlier promise to David.
  1. Jehoiachin was king of Judah when Babylon captured Jerusalem (Jeremiah 22)
  2. God said no offspring of Jehoiachin (also Coniah, vv. 24, 28) would be king after him.
  3. Jechoniah (still another name for the same person) is listed in Joseph’s genealogy (Matthew 1:11-12). Jeconiah was a descendant of David through Solomon.

God has now made two promises regarding the future of David’s descendants as king. First, one of David’s descendants would reign on a throne for eternity. Second, God promised that no other kings would ever sit on the throne if they were the descendant of Jehoiachin (Jechoniah).

So, some of your minds are stirring with thoughts. What assumptions are you making about how the story will unfold. We know Jesus is the answer to the eternal king, but isn’t Jesus a descendant of David? And, if Jesus’ father Joseph is a descendant of Jechoniah, then what are we to think?

A Promise Kept

At first glance, we might assume that God has contradicted Himself. That is because we make assumptions and project them upon God. The last king of Judah was a descendent of David, but Jehoichin was not the only descendant of David. God’s promise is that David would have a descendant upon the throne forever, but God did not specify that the King would be from the line of kings which followed David.
  1. A Descendant from the line of David (2 Samuel 7:12, 16)
  2. The Son of Joseph – yes, but also the son of Mary (Luke 3:31 reveals Nathan)
  3. Nathan, the third son born to David in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:14; 1 Chronicles 3:5)

Many people know that Solomon was a son of David, but certainly he was not the only one. Many will know the name Absalom. Some many know Amnon. But who is Nathan? (David’s son Nathan is not the same Nathan who served as a prophet at the same time as David.) We don’t know anything about David’s son named Nathan. But God did! And God knew that Nathan would be the line from which Jesus would come. In other words, God would keep His promise to David, and He would also keep His promise (made through Jeremiah) about removing the line of Jehoichin from the throne.


The passage today began with an assumption – not ours, but David’s. David made an assumption that he was to build a house for God; however, God’s plan was the opposite – for God to build a house of David (2 Samuel 7:11). But even with this plan being promised, the fulfillment was not as it may have been expected; rather, the fulfillment was through a forgotten son – forgotten by man, but not by God.

Likewise, we often make assumptions about what God might do. And we often forget promises that God has made to us. But we should never consider that God will fail to keep His promises or that we might be forgotten by God. No record is given that Nathan knew He was someone extraordinarily special. But he was, He was in the lineage of Messiah. He may have been the older brother of Solomon, but it is Solomon who received the accolades. Likewise, many people today feel overlooked and unwanted and, therefore, assume God has no purpose for them. But God knew of Nathan’s purpose 900 or so years before anyone else did, and He has a purpose for you as well. We do not get to choose the how or when God may use us, but we can stand ready, and be faithful knowing He will when He knows the time is right.


The JOURNEY letter for today is: R – REVERE.

We REVERE God because we can trust Him. And we learn to trust Him as we REVERE Him. We can talk of how trustworthy God is, we can sing about His faithfulness, but the question for us is: Do we really trust Him? If not, I would suggest we cannot truly worship Him. How can you trust someone you do not know? How can you worship someone you do not trust? But if we trust Him, we can worship Him greatly. And we learn to REVERE Him more and more...our worship becomes deeper and deeper.

Do you trust God? Not just for your salvation, but for everything that happens every day. I don’t always think that way. There are too many times that I believe that I am in control. I trust God but I am not looking to Him at all times for His guidance. If I am going to truly REVERE Him, then I must trust Him...not just when I feel I need to, but every moment of every day.


LIVE: If we are going to seek to have a heart like God, we must not only know Him, but we must begin to live in the light of that knowledge. That knowledge should include being able to trust Him, and that trust in God should be manifest in every area of our lives in every moment of our lives. This week, ask God to reveal a promise He wants you claim personally.

Maybe it is a to remember a promise from the past – one you made God or one that He made you. Maybe you need to begin to live out that promise no matter how long ago it was made.

Or maybe it is to believe a promise made in Scripture that you find hard to accept.

Whatever promise you need to believe this week, begin today. Don’t assume it is too late for you to begin or begin again. If the promise is from God, it will be made true.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – The Art of Reconciliation

This new series is based upon 2 Samuel. The general message outlines were written by Pastor Andy as part of a project for LifeWay to coincide with the quarter’s Explore the Bible Sunday School material. Because LifeWay owns the copyright, for full disclosure, a link to the original sermon idea is provided here.

Relationships are one of the greatest gifts God has given mankind. Many relationships may be quite strong, but as good as any relationship might be, all relationships bring challenges. The challenge is because different people have different desires. When desires are in conflict, people are in conflict. And some conflict can create extreme tensions that can last for weeks, years, and even decades. However, a part of God’s gift of relationships is the gift of reconciliation. Some may consider reconciliation impossible in certain circumstances or with certain people. But God reconciled those who were least worthy (us) to the One who is most worthy (Himself). It took a mighty act to make such reconciliation possible, but if we can be reconciled to God, we can certainly be reconciled with one another.

Today’s story from 2 Samuel shows an attempt at reconciliation, not just of people, but of a divided nation. However, the story also reveals that some will resist any attempt to reconcile. What was true in the time of David remains true today as well.

Reconciliation Requires a First Step (2 Samuel 3.12-19)

Reconciliation is impossible until someone first realizes a need to reconcile and then acts on it. Many people may see a need, but refuse to act because of shame, fear, or any number of negative responses. The process may not always be smooth, and may require give and take, but a genuine and persistent effort can provide the necessary healing. The Bible passage for today shows Abner taking the first step.

Abner sent messengers to David. (v.12)

  1. He was the commander of Saul’s army who was strong among Saul’s house (v. 6).
  2. The king (Ish-bosheth) was afraid of the power Abner had.

Abner asked for a promise from David who agreed with a stipulation.

  1. The stipulation was meant to fulfill a promise Saul made David (v. 14).
  2. Saul’s son, the “opposing” king, actually fulfilled the request (v. 15).

So, Abner took the first step, and David gave a bit of a test to check the sincerity of Abner. David did not ask for what was not rightfully his; however, Abner had to be bold to make the request and rebuke the husband when he followed after them (v. 16).

Reconciliation Requires an Open Mind (2 Samuel 3.20-21)

Initial attempts to reconcile may meet resistance, but once the possibilities are understood, it is often like a dam breaking to let the water flow. Overcoming prejudices and hostility is not easy, but short-term sacrifices can often lead to long-term rewards.

Abner saw an opportunity, which in part was due to a weak king (Ish-bosheth).

  1. Abner knew Israel wanted David as king. (v17)
  2. Abner knew the story that David was to become king. (18)
  3. Abner rallied the support of the people for what he intended to do.

BUT – if David was not open to the idea, then it would have gone nowhere.

David was open to Abner’s request.

  1. A feast was arranged.
  2. Abner promised the allegiance of all of Israel.
  3. David sent Abner away in peace.

If someone approaches you in an attempt to reconcile, how do you respond? Oftentimes, we tend to be too skeptical. Certainly, Abner knew that by helping David, he would find a prominent place in the new kingdom, but that was secondary. Ultimately, David knew he was to be king, and Abner was the broker making it happen. Notice, we get no sense that David lacks trust in Abner. David doesn’t send him away and then gather his counsel together to question the motives of Abner. David sends Abner away in peace. And we find David’s trust apparent throughout the remainder of the chapter because while David trusts Abner, some of David’s leading men do not.

Reconciliation Requires a Firm Resolve (2 Samuel 3.22-30)

Not everyone will welcome the idea of reconciliation. Jealousy, bitterness, skepticism, hatred, etc. will cause some to challenge any attempt of reconciliation. For instance, while David appreciated the efforts of Abner, welcoming the opportunity to restore Israel to one nation, Joab remained hostile towards Abner for having killed his brother Asahel (2 Sam 2:18-23).

Joab heard about David and Abner and sent messengers for Abner to return.

Joab killed Abner as a measure of revenge. (2 Sam 2.18-28)
Abner may not have lived to see the kingdom re-united, but without his efforts, David’s reign could have been very different.

But a key aspect is what David did after Joab killed Abner. David demanded Joab and others to mourn the death of Abner. David once again fasted over someone who had died. But like Saul’s death, Abner’s death led to a reconciliation of Israel.


Many people love the idea of peace. But to truly be at peace requires a measure of reconciliation. Whether peace is being sought between two or more people, families, communities, or even nations, finding common ground can be difficult, but satisfying all demands requires sacrifice.

In today’s message, it was noted that both risk (Abner) and openness (David) were required to heal a divided nation. Ultimately, the reconciliation happened but not before Abner was killed. Although his death was not intended nor expected, the risk Abner took did pave the way for Israel to be a united nation once more.

Jesus, on the other hand, knew His death was required to secure reconciliation for humanity with God. All of the demands of God were met by Jesus’ death and His resurrection reveals the nature of the abundant life for those who are reconciled to God. Certainly, many scoff at Jesus, are skeptical of His life and purpose, and ridicule those who follow Him, but their reactions do not negate the efforts or the effects of God’s offer for us to be reconciled to Him.


The JOURNEY letter for today is: U – UNITE.

Remember, this series is about seeking the heart of God. God seeks reconciliation with His premier part of creation – humanity. But He did so because of love. That is why we began this series last week looking at the idea of motivation – and the need for our motivation to be from love. When we love others, we will seek reconciliation with them. And when we love others, we will seek to seek them reconciled to God. If God is a God of love (1 John 4.16), and desires to be reconciled to us (2 Corinthians 5.18-21), then to have a heart which seeks God is to be one that loves others and seeks unity through reconciliation whenever it is needed. Yes, that unity may require taking a risk and having a firm resolve, but if we are open to being reconciled, God will make a way – just as He did for David.


LOVE: Last week, our task was to do one thing purely from the perspective of love. The extra challenge was to make that one thing an act of love towards someone you might ordinarily choose not to love. This week, our application is to love someone who has offended you. Without expressing love towards others, reconciliation will not be possible. So, if you want to be a man or woman who is known for seeking God’s heart (as David was, Acts 13.22), then love someone this week as a first step towards seeking reconciliation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – What Motivates You?

This new series is based upon 2 Samuel. The general message outlines were written by Pastor Andy as part of a project for LifeWay to coincide with the quarter’s Explore the Bible Sunday School material. Because LifeWay owns the copyright, for full disclosure, a link to the original sermon idea is provided here.

Everyone is motivated by something. Perhaps the motivation is to improve a skill, to make more money, to take care of family or friends, to serve in any number of ways, etc. Motivation is a powerful tool and can be both positive and negative depending upon the situation. However, our motivations ultimately expose something far deeper – our character. We may be able to accomplish a great deal while hiding our true motivation. We may even be able to fool others around us for a while. However, our character will be revealed eventually.

Today, we begin a series on 2 Samuel. This sermon series coincides with the Sunday School lessons although we will be behind for the first couple of weeks. This week’s message will look at the motivations of a few different participants in the story that begins this second book of Samuel. What we find is very different motivations revealing very different people because of the very different character within each person or group involved.

Our story begins with the news of Saul’s death. The news is brought by a foreigner and is received by David who mourns, as do the other men who were with him. After David laments, he is crowned as king of Judah and immediately honors the men responsible for finding and burying Saul.

Some People Are Motivated By Reward (2 Sam. 1:1-10)

Receiving a paycheck or even a “Thank you” can be a powerful motivator for some. But do we labor honestly or do we cut corners? Or worse, do we manipulate the situation to appear in our favor? In the end, someone will know and we will be exposed.
  • Compare the true account in 1 Sam. 31:1-6.
  • The messenger stole the king’s crown and armlet, then lies in hopes of a reward
  • Result: The man was killed for displaying a faulty character

Some People Are Motivated By Respect

Certain positions and titles deserve a certain measure of respect. A person who truly respects others will be respectful of those above them (even if we rightfully should have the position (e.g. David), will lead others to be respectful, and will honor those who may have a lesser status, but respect those whom we respect as well.

A. David (2 Sam. 1.11-16)
  • David consistently honored the king (cf. 1 Sam 24, 1 Sam 26)
  • Some of the men with David (vv. 11-12) may not have respected Saul, but they mourned with David because they respected their leader
  • Result: David was honored by God for his moral character
B. Men of Jabesh-gilead (1 Sam. 31:11-13)
  • Risked their lives to care for the dead the bodies of Saul and his sons
  • Fasted in humility because of the loss of their king
  • Result: Men were blessed by David because of their loyalty to Saul

All People Are to be Motivated By Love (Mark 12:30-31)

In the mid-1980s, Tina Turner sang a song entitled, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” The song was about the physical aspect of a relationship overriding the need for love which is referred to as “a second-hand emotion.” Many people may feel that way about love, but God doesn’t. Love is not an emotion, it is an action. And God commanded us to love.

Whatever our reasons for living, ultimately, we are to be loving. Whether, or not, we receive some type of reward for our labors, or whether we are able to respect others, the greatest of all commands is to love God which requires us to also love others.
  • Our love for, and service to, God will bring Him glory. (Matt. 5:16)
  • Our love for, and service to, others provides a tangible expression of God’s mercy. (Luke 6:35-36)
  • Result: Loving in obedience to Christ shows we are truly followers of Christ. (John 13:34-35; 14:15)


Do your actions reveal your true motivations?

Our motivation reveals our character. It has often been said that we should guard our reputation, but reputation is what others think of us, whereas our character is who we really are. Consider that Jesus did not have the best of reputations (He associated with the tax collectors and sinners), but His character was impeccable.

Those who follow Christ must make sure our character and motivation are in sync. When this happens we live and serve through love which honors God and brings Him the glory. Ultimately, when we seek to honor God, we will eventually be honored ourselves – just as David was. On the other hand, when our motivation is selfish, we may hide the truth for a while, but eventually we will be exposed, just as the man was who brought King Saul’s possessions to David.


The JOURNEY letter for this week is: O – OBSERVE.

That observance starts with obeying the command to love one another, to love others, and ultimately to love God. Everything we do should be motivated by love. Sometimes we can find love motivating us to care for a loved one or because of the bonds of friendship, but if we are honest, being motivated by love is not easy most of the time. Why? Because it is tiring and some people are tiresome. But God could feel the same way about us, and He chose to love us instead.


LOVE: So, this week, do at least one thing purely from the perspective of love. Maybe you will do more than one thing, but if you start with one, you should find it easier to repeat the process. If you want a bigger challenge, make that one act of love towards someone that you might ordinarily choose not to love. In doing so, you will truly fulfill the Great Commandment.