Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

1 Samuel 27:1-7
David Among the Philistines

As I sit here mid-morning on a Saturday on my couch beginning this blog at a time that is usually late for me. It is now a quarter til 11am. It is this lazy pace on a Saturday that is much needed. I needed to sleep late on this Saturday. For this 55 year old man, sleeping late means til around 8:30 or til my bladder demands attention – whichever comes first. But since I got out of bed, Elena and I have been reading our daily devotionals, drinking coffee, and having conversations about church business, church plans for the future, our potential parts in all that, and just about life in general. Rest. Much needed leisurely pace.

Prior to this weekend, we have not really had a weekend to just catch our breath since we moved to Illinois. We have either been packing, unpacking, looking for houses, and moving again from our temporary apartment to the home we purchased in Rock Island – doing much of the moving of personal items ourselves in the back of my SUV. And then there was the unpacking of everything (we didn’t unpack all of our personal belongings at the temp apartment) and putting it into place where we (I really mean, Elena…LOL) wanted it. Then there was all during our first two months here were activities on either Friday or Saturday (my normal days off) that were necessary because of special circumstances in the life of the church. Add to that, we had to travel back to the Charlotte, NC area last weekend and the first two days of this past week for events related to the funeral for Elena’s dad. So, yesterday and today, is the first weekend that we have had with no real commitments or things to do. Outside of a drop-in related to our life group, we have had and will have no agenda for this weekend. Yesterday, we were actually able to take care of tax stuff related to our house and our cars to make us official Illinois residents. But that was because we had the time for the first time to do it. And, today, like I said, outside of the drop-in, we do not have any agenda at all. We needed this weekend. I needed this weekend. Rest. Much needed leisurely pace.

I think that sometimes as pastors and pastoral couples, and as Christ followers in general, we get so caught up in the business or busy-ness of the church life that you forget to take time to rest and relax. We forget in our busy-ness why we are doing what we are doing. For those who are not employed by churches, the same is true too. We get so busy with soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, football, etc. with our kids and paying bills and getting to our “leisure activities” that we get so tired out that we forget to rest and relax. We forget to take in the wonders of God. We forget to take in the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 27:1-7, this morning. Let’s read it now together:

Chapter 27
1 But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”

2 So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. 3 David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him—Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. 4 Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him.

5 One day David said to Achish, “If it is all right with you, we would rather live in one of the country towns instead of here in the royal city.”

6 So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag (which still belongs to the kings of Judah to this day), 7 and they lived there among the Philistines for a year and four months.

In this passage, we saw that Saul finally stopped pursuing David. His army was not strong enough to invade Philistia and battle with its army with the goal being simply to track down one man. Further, with David out of the country, the immediate threat to Saul’s throne was gone with David out of the country. In God’s sovereignty, David knew that there was a time of peace needed. David needed a place to rest and regroup and have a place to call home for a while. We all need times of rest. We all need a place to call home.

For Elena and I this morning, it is really the first morning that we can sit and relax and realize that this is home. We have been living temporarily in many ways since we started packing up our house in Lyman prior to the movers coming on February 14th. We have been on the go with activity, living temporarily with family before we left for Illinois, slightly unpacking at the temporary apartment, all the go-go-go that has characterized the first few weeks on the job and uneasiness of learning my new role as Director of Business/Staff Pastor at the church, seeking a house, buying a house, moving and unpacking everything and putting it into place, Easter at church, traveling back and forth to/from Charlotte, and now breathe…exhale…rest.

David needed it, too. He had been on the run for so long. Living temporarily every he could find a moment. Fleeing from a man trying to kill him. The move to Philistia and gaining a town he could call home for a while. A place to take his armor off. A place to sit by the fire without his sword at his side. A time to sleep without one eye open. It may have seemed as though David had lost faith in God’s ability by fleeing to Philistia but I don’t see it that way. Because of our last two months of flurry, I can see where David just wanted to get out of harm’s way and catch his breath and live a normal life for a while. He was a warrior for sure but even warriors need down time. In God’s sovereignty, David was guided to rest and wait for the inevitable death of Saul. He had been on the run. He needed rest. He would become king and the rest of his life would be filled with royal management duties. He needed this moment. God knew David needed this rest. This time of not scheming and planning and running and avoiding. He needed this time.

That is my prayer for you today as well. Let us remember that we need rest. God even rested on the 7th day of His cycle of creation to demonstrate to us that we need down time. God is eternal and all powerful and does not sleep since He is existence, He is being, He is I AM but His resting on the 7th day was for us, to demonstrate to us that rest is necessary. We need rest so that we do not get burnt out in life. As Christ followers, we need rest so that we do not get so caught up in the tasks of carrying the gospel to the nations that we forget that it is the gospel that is important not the tasks. The tasks are necessary to carry the gospel message but the tasks are not the reason for what we do. We must have rest. We must have time to seek God in quiet and peace. We need time to restore our vigor for what we are doing. If we get caught up in the doing of Christianity, we forget the being of Christianity. We cannot get so caught up in the doing that we forget to develop and nurture relationships. We cannot get so caught up in the busy-ness of being a Christ follower that we forget to be the light on the hill to the unchurched. We need rest. We need to be able to take stock and take a breath. We need time with God just being with Him. Take time to rest. Take time to forget the details for a moment. Take time to look up toward the heavens and see God and be with God.

Amen and Amen.

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Joshua 13:15-23

The Land Given to the Tribe of Reuben

Do you ever think about the legacy that you will leave behind? Do think about how your actions will have ripple effects in your family for generations. But are we not forgiven for our past mistakes by God when we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord.

 

This issue has been on my mind lately because of current events locally. I have had to attend the funerals of the father of a friend and the husband of a church member within the last several weeks. And then there has been an issue of a person that was not a close friend but more than a mere acquaintance that has been accused of crimes regarding dissemination of pornography among people who are less than 18 years old. In all of these things, it had me considering the issue of legacy and its relationship to forgiveness in Christ.

 

In the funerals, I heard stories of great legacy. These two men were honored and revered by their families. You can usually tell at funerals whether people are struggling to say nice things about the deceased or whether they are being sincere. In both cases, those who spoke of the deceased were joyously and sometimes tearfully speaking of the things that they respected about the man, the father, the husband, the employee, etc. that these men were. “He was a good man!” was often said at each of these funerals. These were God-fearing men. These were men who led their families well. These were men of quiet generosity not just at church but in the community with those that needed help. These were men that knew what his sons needed in their father in one case or was perfectly suited to be the father of all daughters in the other case. Respect. Honor. Dignity. Generosity. Christ-following. Humble. Hard Working. Integrity. All of these adjectives were lauded upon these men. I am sure that each had their faults and had their screw ups with their kids and their wives but nothing profound that permanently damaged their overall legacy. Their legacy was one of respect and honor. They were able to pass on that legacy to their children. Each of them appear to people of honor and respect and all of that they are they credit to the leadership of their father. Now, that’s legacy my friends. These men were not internationally famous, nationally famous, famous in our state, regionally famous, and probably were not well-known even in our community outside their sphere of influence of church, work, and friends. But the legacy that they have passed down to their progeny is one that I certainly want to have said of me.

 

What will my children and my wife think of me when they have to write my eulogy after I am gone. What legacy am I leaving to him by my actions during my life? What will they say of me? And how will the actions, mistakes, victories, character, how I acted in crunch moments, how far down the genealogical tree will my actions of my lifetime reverberate and shake the branches of my progeny.

 

That same question of legacy and the impact of our actions is what I thought about in the situation where a person I know stands accused of a crime and the evidence is pretty heavy that he did it (but we will reserve the right here to say that he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law not in the court of public opinion). If he is found guilty of the crime of which he stands accused, what will be the impact of his actions on his family and future generations of his family. What impact will this moment in time have on the generations of his family to come. What will be the legacy of these actions? Sure, we are praying for the redemption of this man from his active and ongoing sin of which he stands accused. We pray that he will be repentant and seek restoration. However, we cannot pray that the consequences of his be removed his life. There are simply some immutable facts of life. Sin has its consequences. We must deal with our sins even after salvation. Sins that we commit before our salvation in the Lord will still visit us in their consequences even after salvation. Just because we accept Christ as our Savior does not mean that we are automatically at that moment absolved of the consequences of our prior sins. God allows those things to play themselves out in our lives as lessons to us as to (1) why we needed Jesus in the first place and (2) as reminders of what sin does to our lives. What will be the far ranging impacts on this man’s life that will be felt for years and decades to come. It will follow him for the rest of his career. He will have to change careers. His earnings potential will be severely impacted by the choices that will be made. These things will happen and cannot be changed. We pray that he will repent, be redeemed from his sin, and be restored to the body of Christ, but his legacy has been impacted. His own life has been impacted. Sin is more than just the moment. It has trailing effects on our lives and the lives of the people we love.

 

My own situation right now in life is impacted by critical path decisions that I have made in my life. These decisions permanently alter the path that your life is on. These decisions effect your legacy. These decisions affect how your children perceive life because of the choices that we make as parents. Legacy. What’s your legacy going to be? We can say that what we do right now does not reverberate down the generations but we are just kidding ourselves. Our sins will visit us upon the next generations after us. Sin has it consequences. We must think about that when we are considering doing things that are in contrast to what the Bible tells us. We must think about the impact it will have not just on us but on the people we love and the generations after us. Because, even though we might be redeemed from our sins through humble repentance before the Lord and receiving His forgiveness through Jesus Christ, our sins’ consequences will play themselves out in our lives. Reduced influence. Temporary setbacks. Lost potential. You name it. Sin has its reverberating and sometimes continuing effects on our lives and those who come after us.

 

That idea of legacy is what I thought of when I read about the land given to the tribe of Reuben. Reuben’s clan was given desert land, basically. That is the lasting impact of the legacy of Reuben himself. It got me to thinking about what was said at these funerals about these two men’s legacy and about the man who stands accused that I know. What is his legacy going to be? And then looking inwardly at myself, what is going to be my legacy? Let’s read the passage, now, Joshua 13:15-23:

 

15 This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Reuben, according to its clans:

 

16 The territory from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and the whole plateau past Medeba 17 to Heshbon and all its towns on the plateau, including Dibon, Bamoth Baal, Beth Baal Meon, 18 Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath, 19 Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth Shahar on the hill in the valley, 20 Beth Peor, the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth Jeshimoth— 21 all the towns on the plateau and the entire realm of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled at Heshbon. Moses had defeated him and the Midianite chiefs, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—princes allied with Sihon—who lived in that country. 22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. 23 The boundary of the Reubenites was the bank of the Jordan. These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the Reubenites, according to their clans.

 

In Genesis 49:3-4, we read, “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.” Reuben, the firstborn of the twelve sons, was to Jacob his “might, the first sign of my strength” (Genesis 49:3), indicating that to him were all the rights and prerogatives of a firstborn son. At first, he excelled in honor and power, as is fitting the firstborn son, but Jacob declares that Reuben “will no longer excel” (verse 4) due to his sin of incest with Bilhah, his father’s concubine wife (Genesis 35:22). Although that sin was committed forty years prior, there was left an indelible spot on Reuben’s character and that of his posterity. By committing this uncleanness with his father’s wife, there would be reproach upon his tribe and the family, to whom he ought to have been an example and a blessing. He forfeited the prerogatives of the birthright, and his dying father demoted him, although he did not disown or disinherit him. He would still have all the privileges of a son, but not of the firstborn.

 

Jacob’s sad prophecy for Reuben certainly came true. No judge, prophet, ruler, or prince came from that tribe, nor any person of renown except Dathan and Abiram, who were noted for their rebellion against Moses. Reuben’s tribe chose a settlement on the other side Jordan, a further indication of the loss of godly influence on his brothers to which his birthright entitled him. Although Reuben was the firstborn, the kingdom was given to Judah and the priesthood to Levi, leaving Reuben’s tribe to be small and non-influential.

 

We learn from Reuben that those who dabble in sin must not expect to save their reputation or maintain a positive influence upon others. Although we know our sins were nailed to the cross and we are forever forgiven for past sins, we still have to suffer the consequences of those sins, which include remorse and a loss of reputation and influence. Reuben’s sin left an indelible mark upon him and his family. As Christians, we must understand that dishonor is a wound that will not be healed without a scar. We can been redeemed from our sin and be healed from it but our sins will leave scars on us.

 

What is your legacy going to be? What sins are you committing right now that you are justifying as OK that you don’t want to give up and you are reveling in going to do to your legacy? What are our unrepentant sins going to do to us in this lifetime and what effects are they going to have on our families and the future generations? Is that sin worth all the cost? Repent. Turn away. Wash your hands of it. Seek forgiveness from God. Seek restoration through forgiveness. What’s your legacy going to be?

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14

Marrying a Captive Woman

When you read the Bible book by book and passage by passage in consecutive order, you are going to come across passages that are hard to deal with and understand, particularly when you are coming at them from 21st century sensibilities. Today is one of those days. This is a tough passage.

 

There is really no illustration that I can come up with from my own life as I have never been to war. The last half of v. 14 is a telling one to me. I don’t think that you can see this passage as to do with anything other than a man having raped a woman during battle. In context of the word “dishonor” as it is used here, it can reasonably be assumed that it refers to forced sexual relations or rape. Therefore, this passage is about how to bring good out of a bad situation.

 

I know that in war and the heat of fierce battle, men see things that they will never see in normal civilized society. Stabbing, gutting, decapitating, blood, guts, and its going on all around you. It is probably the most intense visual, emotional and mental experience that men will endure. It is the ugly side of humanity. Killing and destroying. It is desensitizing. Men do things in war that they would never be allowed to do in civilized society. Often rape, including gang rape, during wartime, even in today’s world, is used as a way to demoralize the vanquished population. It is often seen as part of the spoils of victory. This was particularly true in the civilizations that coexisted at the same time as the ancient Israelites. It was a means of psychological warfare and a way to humiliate the enemy. Having sex with the vanquished civilization’s women and forcing the women to live with that dirtiness and their husbands knowing it would rip at the very fabric of the society. And, as we have seen, throughout the Bible, the Israelites more often than not took on the habits of the nations around them rather than following God’s commands.

 

That’s the only way that I can make sense of this passage is that it is God seeing that it is likely that Israel will repeatedly be like its neighbors and so He must put forth a regulation to help redeem a bad situation. Let’s read through this tough passage:

 

10 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.

 

The footnotes in my Bible discuss this passage in this way. The footnote says this law relates to the previous commands dealing with human life and war. It also relates to the next passage’s command about polygamous marriage. These laws show the importance of respecting human life in compromising situations. Here, this law deals with the perennial problem of rape during war. Rape was forbidden in Israel. If a soldier was attracted to a woman, he had to marry her, as noted here. However, he could only do so after she had lived with him in a state of humiliation and mourning for a month. The shaving of her head and trimming of the nails and the changing of clothes represented not only humiliation and mourning but also of a complete break with her past and starting a new life in the new community. If he changed his mind after they were married, she had to be granted her freedom. Her dignity had to be guarded and she could not be treated like a slave. The fact that female prisoners of war could be taken as wives by the Israelites does not sanction the practice so much as it regulates and transforms an existing evil. Here, in this passage, the Hebrew word translated into English here as “dishonor” occurs 12 other times in the Bible and is when referring to men forcing when to have sexual relations with them (rape). In this sense, the Bible is being realistic about the evils that we commit and figures out a way to take a bad thing and make it good.

 

What biblical truth can we take away from this passage? It think there are two things. Responsibility and redemption.

 

In this passage, I see a requirement about taking responsibility for our actions. We commit acts that are just pure evil sometimes. We must own up to them and not just walk away from them because there were extenuating circumstances. We cannot excuse our way out of evil deeds. We cannot just forget they happened. We cannot just cover them up and hope no one finds out about them. When we commit acts of evil we must address them. We must try to make them right. We must restore honor to those who have been dishonored by us. Also, just because everyone in the world is legitimizing an evil and says it is OK to participate in it, does not mean God’s people have the right to violate God’s commands. Just to fit, we sometimes commit acts that we know directly from the Bible are morally wrong and against God’s commands. We must own up to having fallen short of God’s glory and try to make things right.

 

In this passage, I also see redemption. I see God taking something born in evil and making it new and clean through redemption. There is a certain symbolism of repentance and restoration in the dignity that is allowed to the woman in this situation. The man is required to make the woman he raped his wife. She is given stature of wife instead of being a humiliated victim. She is also given power here. She could exact humiliation upon the man by making him not want to stay married to her. She is given power that she becomes a full and rightful member of Jewish society regardless of whether she is married to this man or not. Usually in context of these societies, she would have been a humiliated sexual slave for the rest of her life with no status and no right to marry the man who raped her. She would be routinely raped for the rest of her life as a slave. Here, though, God redeems the evil act perpetrated upon her and gives her new status. She is redeemed and set free.

 

In that sense, it is similar to what God does for us through Jesus Christ. He redeems us from our own rape of purity through our lifetimes of sin. He redeems us from the evil that we have committed throughout our lives. He gives us clothes of righteousness through His sacrifice. He redeems us from the humiliation that we have before God and sets us free into a new life. We have full citizenship in heaven because He has redeemed us from the rape of our evil. He sets on our feet and gives us rights in His kingdom through the purity and sinlessness of Jesus Christ. He takes what is bad (us) and make something beautiful out of the bad (through the beauty of Jesus Christ).

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 24;36-43 — There are two things that are striking about this passage that are important to consider. First, let us consider that Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”. Second, let us consider that Jesus invited the disciples to touch Him. These things point us toward the fact that Jesus has forgiveness sufficient to cover our failings through our repentance and the fact that Jesus invites us to question Him. Today, we will focus on Jesus’ statement, “Peace be with you!” Tomorrow, we will look at how Jesus invites us to be inquisitive about Him. So, today, Peace Be With You is the subject. Why in the world did Jesus say that to the disciples?

When Jesus appears to them, He is not an angry as one might be if you were in Jesus’ shoes. If you drift back to your teenage years and most of us guys were often mischievous. We would often do things that were either close to breaking the law or clearly over the line of the law. In a group, it always sounded like a good idea, right? And, then, when you were the one that got caught, all your friends scattered like roaches and left you holding the bag. Though Jesus had done nothing wrong as we may have done as teenagers, his disciples scattered on Him like roaches when you turn the light on. They had abandoned Him to die alone. One of them, Peter, even denied that he even knew Jesus. Talk about friends, huh? When crunch time was on, they failed miserably. We, though, cannot condemn them much. We often fail Jesus miserably on a daily basis. Sometimes, we even deny that we know Him rather than feel uncomfortable. But Jesus appears to them and the first thing he says is what? He doesn’t say, “you dogs, you let me down” or “dudes!, you left me hangin’!” No, Jesus, amazingly (after seeing what cowards the disciples had become in that decisive in the Garden), says, “Peace, be with you.” Shalom. The peace that passes all understanding.

Jesus does not rebuke his disciples. He offers them the peace of God. He had every right to dress them down for their failures. He had every right to slap each one of them in the face. He had every right to make them feel about two inches tall. And, by our human standard of tit for tat, we would not have blamed Him. However and instead, Jesus offers them forgiveness. Jesus offers them acceptance. He offers them restoration to His amazing love. Does this not speak loudly to you? Jesus has forgiveness for you even though you don’t think you deserve it. The disciples most certainly felt great shame for their failing of their Master. They probably did fear that He would punish them when He appeared to them. Even though we have shame for how we have been living our lives, if we come to Jesus with a repentant heart and desire his forgiveness more than anything else, He will grant us Shalom. He will grant us peace. He will grant us forgiveness. His love for us is far greater than any disappointment He has in us. Jesus sees what we can be in relationship with Him not what we were before. Just as we as parents see the potential of our children and not their failings. Just as we love our children despite their failings, Jesus is that way about us. He loves us and desires for us to make Him our Savior and the Lord over our lives. He has peace for you and for me!

Not only is how Jesus reacted to the disciples a direct example for us of the forgiveness we find in Jesus, it is also an example of how we should be with other people. Certainly, there are times when rebuke is necessary and required and Jesus often rebuked his disciples. Such rebuke was necessary at times, but He always did it in a way that help the disciples grow not tear them down and stomp on them. However, in this instance, Jesus did not rebuke. He knew the disciples were already beating themselves up. He knew that they were scared. He knew that they were fearful for their lives. We must learn from Jesus. There is a time for loving rebuke but there is also a time when we must simply love and reassure. It is amazing as a parent (we get no formal training on parenting and our kids do not come with customized instruction booklets) that we often do know the difference. Sometimes, we know when our kids need rebuke when they have done wrong and when they need reassurance that they are still loved despite the wrong. Jesus in this instance knew that reassurance was called for. Jesus knew that reaffirming His love for them was called for.

Regardless of whether rebuke is called for or simply uncommon acceptance in the face of betrayal, we must always have our eye on restoration and on reconciliation. Jesus restores and reconciles us to our Father in heaven. We should be the same about the relationships in our lives. If we are called to be little Christs, the literal meaning of Christian, then we can do no less. Everything must be motivated by our love for Jesus and our love for our fellow man. Even when we rebuke others, it must be done in love and with an eye toward reconciliation and an eye toward giving God glory. Sometimes, the situation will call for us to simply tell those that have betrayed, disappointed, or have been evil toward us that we must simply offer them peace. We must offer peace in reaction to hate. We must offer love in the face of evil. We must offer acceptance in the face of betrayal. We must offer restoration the face of disappointment from others. We speak of Christ when we say Peace Be With You to those who have bitterly disappointed us. We speak of Christ when we tell a person that knows they have disappointed us and fear retribution that we love them anyway. We speak of Christ when we restore a relationship rather than throw it away. We speak of Christ when we love when the expectation is hate. We speak of Christ when we seek to emulate our Savior’s behavior in this passage. Amen and Amen.