Saul was a King, David was a Leader

1 Chronicles 11:1-3 Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.'” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.

Look at what Israel said to David!

Even when Saul was king, it was you (David) who led out and brought in Israel.

Who was the king? Saul. Who was the real leader in Israel? David.

To whom did the people go to for leadership? David. Who was the person who understood the real enemy of Israel? David. Who was the one who had the courage to face the giant with God’s help? David. Who was the one who encouraged the hearts of Israel to trust God and take on the enemy? David. Who was the one who walked among the people and knew the people? David.

What was Saul doing? Hiding. Doubting. Cowering. His focus was his power, his image and keeping his throne. He was incredibly fearful and jealous of David and anyone who supported him. He devoted the rest of his life to chasing David all over Israel to eliminate him because he was a threat to Saul’s power. In fact, you can see that Saul lost focus of the real enemy, the Philistines, until they had completely surrounded him and it was too late.

You see, the people of Israel were smart enough to know who the real leader was. That is still true today. It is evident in churches, homes, businesses, sports teams, politics, etc. The people in charge are not necessarily the ones who are really leading. Sometimes it is a husband who likes to assert his authority all the time, while the wife and mother is the one really leading the kids. It might be in a sports team where the “captain” of the team is just bossy but another player is the one who inspires the team. We see it in businesses, where the CEO is a controlling, micro-managing type, and there are a few others who really make that business what it is.

So, what about you? Are you a boss, or a leader? Are you an elder, or a leader? Are you the “head of the home” or a leader? Leaders inspire, set examples, communicate and build relationships. There is an atmosphere of welcoming and safety around a leader. Leaders don’t have to go around asserting their authority all the time to do so. Look around, are people following you because they respect you or because you are in charge? Also take a look, are people continually going to someone else instead of you? It might be that you have asserted your authority way too much and they don’t feel safe coming to you. How do you respond when others get the praise and recognition, yet you are in charge? Do you encourage and welcome that or are you intimidated by that?

God’s encouragement for you today is to be a leader like David, not a king like Saul.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 5

Today we wrap up our study of the account of David, Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15). We are going to zoom in on the concept of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. There is a perfect example of this with David and the Ark of the Covenant.

David learned the value of worshipping in spirit and in truth.

There were two worship services we can observe in our texts for this week. The first is full of spirit-filled worship (1 Chronicles 13), but they were transporting the Ark in a way that disobeyed God. They were not worshipping in truth. Uzzah died. The second worship service came three months later (1 Chronicles 15; 2 Samuel 6:11-15) after David and the Priesthood looked into the Word to see what God instructed. They made the necessary corrections, and then we see a second worship commence. That worship service was just as spirit-filled and full of emotion and passion, with even more reverence than before. This time, however, they were worshipping in spirit AND in truth.

First Worship Service – Spirit WITHOUT Truth

1 Chronicles 13:1-4
1 David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader.
2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us.
3 Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”
4 All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

What they were about to do for God and how they were going to worship God was based on what was right in the eyes of the people. They all consulted with each other on what to do.

1 Chronicles 13:5-10
5 So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim.
6 And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim.
7 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahiowere driving the cart.
8 And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
9 And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled.
10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.

David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with “all their might” in the worship service. They had great passion and fire for God, and their motives, I believe, were right on point. But God was angry and Uzzah died. They were worshipping with all the spirit, but without the truth.

Second Worship Service – Spirit WITH Truth

1 Chronicles 15:1-3
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.
2 Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
3 And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.

The first worship service began with people making agreements and consulting with each other on how they think things should be (1 Chronicles 13:1-4). The second worship began with people asking God how things should be.

1 Chronicles 15:13-16
13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”
14 So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel.
15 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

We can take note here of the reverence for God’s word when it comes to worship. They had not sought God according to the rule (verse 13), but the second worship service was “according to the word of the Lord” (verse 15). That did not change their spirit, though. They still played loudly and raised sounds of joy to the Lord (verse 16)!

2 Samuel 6:11-15
11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.
13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

Do you see the reverence and care in verse 13? Do you see the rejoicing in verse 12, the dancing in verse 14, and the shouting in verse 15? They were absolutely careful to do things God’s way, but they did not lose a bit of passion in doing so!

1 Chronicles 15:25-29
25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing.
26 And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.
27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod.
28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.
29 And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and rejoicing, and she despised him in her heart.

Spirit AND Truth

It seems, by my limited observation, that many times people either have spirit OR truth. We are either worshipping with all the genuine passion and emotion and not obeying God’s instructions for worship, or we are doing things “by the book” but everyone looks like they are at a funeral! God wants our hearts and our obedience! He wants spirit and truth!

John 4:19-24
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In His discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus first dealt with the “Where” of worship. There was a debate between Jews and Samaritans of the proper place to worship. Jesus said there was a time coming when the “where” won’t matter. Jesus also addressed the “What” of worship, and clearly said the Samaritans were worshipping in ignorance. Finally, Jesus instructed her on the “How” of worship. As you can see from what Jesus said, God is “seeking such people” who will worship Him in “spirit and in truth.” He added an exclamation point with the word “MUST.” This is not an option, this is how God wants it. Spirit AND truth.

So, how about you? Personalize it and put these words from Scripture in your heart. God wants all of you in worship. We are to love God with all our hearts, souls, spirits and minds. Are you worshipping God with all of your being? Do you seek and search out what God wants for you in worship or are you like those in the 1st worship service? Do you just go along with what everyone around you agrees is the right course? Remember these lessons from David and Uzzah, because it truly does matter to God. We hope it matters to you, too.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 4

Efficiency and Expediency

We are focusing this week on the account of David and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13, 15).

If you were transporting a heavy, very valuable piece of extremely important religious history…wouldn’t you try to find the most efficient and expeditious way to move it? Add this factor – You are transporting this sacred box over miles and up a mountain.

What if you are in that leadership discussion with David and the Levites and someone brings up, “Hey, let’s build a new cart and pull it with oxen.” Without any guidance from God’s word, wouldn’t you think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” Makes sense to me! That would make this great work of God more efficient.

What we can see from these texts is that our ideas for efficiency and expediency will result in big problems if we don’t look first for God’s authority. In order for something to be helpful it must first be lawful.

How is it that over 2,000 years of church history we have had all kinds of things introduced into the church even with the best intentions? Maybe others responded to those ideas with, “Hey, that’s a great idea, let’s do it!”? Is it any different than what happened in the days of David? We have great ideas, ways to “improve” and make the church better. But have we fallen prey to the same problem of David and Uzzah? Did we look into God’s word to see if that’s what God wants?

We can look at the Reformation Movement for great examples of this concept. People started reading the word and then they realized that many of the established practices of the day were not founded on God’s Word. Did you know that many of the Reformation leaders rejected instrumental music in worship because they found no authority for it in the New Testament? This is just one example of men and women who did like David and “sought God according to the rule.”

Has God changed since the days of Uzzah? Is He any less concerned about our obedience to His instructions?

Jesus told us that in order to worship God “we must” worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). When Paul wrote about how the church at Corinth was to worship he said that those instructions were the “commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:36-37). As Paul wrote the young evangelist Timothy, he said that those words were from God so they would know how to behave in God’s church (1 Timothy 3:15). Nope, God hasn’t changed (Hebrews 13:8). If we want to do great works for God, we still need to look in the Word and see what God has to say first.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 3

Have you ever purchased a gadget or piece of equipment, but fail to read the owner’s manual? A lot of folks like me do that – we just try to “figure it out.” Then months go by, and you wonder why something doesn’t work right or you say, “What does this button do?” You go dig through your piles of important stuff you have yet to file and you find that handy owner’s manual that came straight from the manufacturer. After a minute, you slap your head and say, “Oh, that’s what that button is for!”

In yesterday’s article we saw from the Law of Moses that God clearly described and indicated how the Israelites were to transport the ark of the covenant.

Exodus 25:10-15 – “… And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.

It makes me think that the people by the time of David are staring at those poles and saying, “I wonder what those are for?” Here’s why I think that. Look at the text of 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13.

2 Samuel 6:5-11 (1 Chronicles 13)
And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

When Uzzah was struck dead, David was at first “angry,” then “afraid of the Lord.” I can understand why at first David was angry. He is, with a pure heart, trying to do a wonderful thing for God and now Uzzah is toast. David was angry, but God’s punishment was just. The next emotion is “fear of the Lord.” Remember that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). David is now afraid, and he asks a great question in utter confusion as Uzzah lies dead on the ground.

“How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”

He did not know! David’s (and everyone else’s disobedience) was not based on a rebellious spirit like King Saul where they said, “Who cares? We’re going to do it this way!” They were genuinely trying to do good for the Lord. But they were doing so in ignorance of God’s plain instructions. Someone at our congregation, Josh, suggested after my sermon that the priests used the poles to get the ark on the cart. Great point. But again, we will see that they did not use the poles as God intended.

So the next thing we see is that David parks the ark of the covenant for 3 months at Obed-Edom’s house. That goes well for Obed-Edom, but keep in mind that this great work of God is now halted for 3 months while everyone figures out what to do.

Here is where 1 Chronicles 15 comes in. By the way, if you only read the account of David and Uzzah from 2 Samuel 6, you will miss some very important details that are mentioned in 1 Chronicles.

1 Chronicles 15:1-2
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
1 Chronicles 15:11-13
Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”

Notice a few things in that passage:
  • No one may do this but the Levites.
  • No carts…you have to carry the ark.
  • We got in trouble with God because the ark was not carried, it was put on a cart.
  • Because we did not seek Him according to the rule.

What happened in these 3 months? David and the rest of the leadership eventually got the Book of the Law out and searched to see what God had to say about it. They did not seek Him according to the rule…that means even the priests and Levites were unaware of this 400-year-old instruction from God. Even religious leaders can be ignorant of what God says in His Word! But again, ignorance joined with zeal for God is not a pass for disobeying Him.

Romans 10:1-3
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

One final note for today: “We,” not “You” or “I”

David, as a leader, took ownership of his own failings. He said, “We” did not seek God’s instructions. He did not say, “You” failed. As a king and as a humble servant of God, David knew that he had his own personal responsibility to search God’s word. I’ll leave you with this final passage from Moses about Israel’s kings. It needs to be true for any leader of God’s people whether in politics, in the home, at work, or in the church.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20
“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose…And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 2

We continue our study into the account of David, Uzzah and the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15).

Today we look at what God actually said in His word about how to transport the ark of the covenant. What we will see is that the instructions were plain, and that they were right there in the Law of Moses for King David or the priesthood to read and learn. It was clear that these 400 year old instructions had been forgotten, because no one knew how God wanted to transport the ark. Remember that God was teaching His people through this the value of His holy presence symbolized by the ark of the covenant, and also the critical importance of obeying exactly what God said.

God cared how they transported the ark of the covenant.

When God gave Moses instructions on how to build the ark of the covenant, He gave very specific commands on how to move the ark.

Exodus 25:10-15 – “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.

Notice that the priests and Levites were given carts (wagons) by God, but NONE were given to the Kohathites who were to transport the “holy things” (including the ark of the covenant). Why? Because God wanted it carried.

Numbers 7:1-9
On the day when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar with all its utensils, the chiefs of Israel, heads of their fathers’ houses, who were the chiefs of the tribes, who were over those who were listed, approached and brought their offerings before the LORD, six wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for every two of the chiefs, and for each one an ox. They brought them before the tabernacle. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service.” So Moses took the wagons and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder.

God cared whether or not they touched the ark of the covenant.

In Numbers 4 God through Moses gave instructions on how to prepare the ark for transporting. He was specific on how it was to be done and who was to do which task. The high priest and his family (Aaron and his sons) were to prepare the ark, and the Kohathites were to carry it. But they could not touch it…lest they die.

Numbers 4:1-15 – And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.

Take note here. This is important. Let’s ask ourselves some questions.

Did God say how He wanted the ark of the covenant to be moved? Yes! We see at least 3 occasions here in the Law of Moses where God said, “Use the poles! Carry the ark.”

Did God say He wanted the ark carried because there were no wagons (carts) available? No. There were plainly other ways of transporting the ark, but God did not want them to be used.

These instructions were 400 years old by the time of David – Did that change anything with God? The instructions were written around 1400 BC and David lived around 1000 BC. Think of the arguments we could make, such as, “Well, times have changed. God wrote that 400 years ago, and it’s outdated, we have to get with the new times.” Or, “Well, maybe God cared about that 400 years ago, but does He care about it today?”

Is ignorance of God’s plan instructions a pass or excuse for disobeying what God said? Nope. What we see in the account of David and Uzzah is that God still cared about what He said, even if David or the priesthood had forgotten it.

More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God

Yesterday, I preached a sermon about the event in David’s life where a man named Uzzah reached out to steady the ark of the covenant, and he was struck dead by God. This account is found in 2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15. It serves as a great lesson in several areas, specifically in respecting God and His authority, but also in the area of leadership. I intend to write on this topic today through Friday, Lord willing.

If you haven’t studied these chapters, or if you haven’t studied them lately, I encourage you to take time to look over them and read what transpired.

2 Samuel 6:1-4
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.

1 Chronicles 13:1-7
David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us. Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart.

Here are a few observations for today from the above texts:

The Ark of the Covenant symbolized the Holy Presence of God. God was teaching the nation of Israel the importance of reverence toward the Holy Presence of God. This golden box with golden cherubim on the lid (Mercy Seat) was to be put in the Holiest Place of the Temple behind a veil. No one could touch it, and only the High Priest once a year could go near it. And when he did, he brought blood to “atone” (cover) the sins of Israel. Sin keeps us from the Holy Presence of God ever since the Garden of Eden, and without a blood sacrifice for our sins, we cannot come close to God’s presence. He is holy, we are unholy.

David, having a heart for God, had a great desire to brink the ark of the covenant home to Jerusalem. In the 40 year reign of King Saul, nothing was done with the ark. Worship was not a priority for King Saul unless it served his own selfish purposes. David was completely different. He knew that the presence of God and the worship of God was central to the health of each Israelite and the nation as a whole.

David and the leadership overlooked one major detail – HOW to transport the ark. We will look tomorrow at God’s specific instructions in the Law of Moses about transporting the ark. God was clear and plain. What we will see later this week is that David and the priests did not look into the Law to see what God said. Those 400 year old instructions were right there in the book!

David and the leadership team all AGREED on the plan of action. As you can see in the above passages, David and his leaders all agreed on this course of action. But remember, please remember, that consensus does not equal truth! Just because they all agreed on what to do, doesn’t mean that it was the right way to do it. A lot of bad things have been done by consensus.

Take time to meditate on these passages today.

Read Your Own Mail

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”  Ephesians 5:22-24

I just finished listening to an excellent series of lessons on the letter to the Ephesians that Andy Cantrell delivered to the Cason Lane Church of Christ.  The link for the series is provided below.  Andy made a brilliantly simple observation when he got to chapter six verse 22.  How many generations of men have come to this passage and focused on the subjection of the wives and the headship of the husband?  How many of us anchor on this spot and then direct the focus of our relationship with our wife around our position of authority?

Who was this instruction given to?  The New Testament does not instruct the husband that he is the head of his wife.  The New Testament does not tell the husband to subject his wife to his authority.

Read your own mail!

The husband is instructed to “…love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.”  Ephesians 5:25-28

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.”  Colossians 3:19

I have a feeling that if I focus on my part, showing Christ-like love to Kristine, then the headship thing will probably work itself out.

Let’s stop getting wrapped up in what everyone else “should” be doing and read our own mail.

http://www.casonlanechurch.org/sermons?title=&y=0&se=0&sv=0&sp=80

What are your boundaries?

Our daughter was having a conversation with someone the other day about worship, and the person in this discussion (with all good intentions) said that the veil has been taken away in our worship. His thought was that we have all kinds of freedom now in how we worship God.

Her response to him was a simple question, “What are your boundaries, then?” Great question! If we can decide how we worship God, and there is this freedom in Christ, are there any boundaries in how we worship Jesus? Does the freedom in Christ open the door to anything and everything?

We can look in the religious world, and see that the doors have been blown wide open as to what churches find acceptable. But again, what are the boundaries, and who determines them?

Jesus answered this for us. He says plainly that, “Yes, there are boundaries. I set them, and you must stay within them.” Look at the following words from Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:21-24)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
(Luke 6:46-48)

Even in the New Testament churches as we live under the grace and liberty of Jesus, we have boundaries and they are set by Jesus Himself.

You Have Authority Over Them, But…

I was having a conversation recently with an elder/shepherd near Dayton, Ohio. We were talking about our approach to people, and how we may try to command people (our kids, people at church), but are we allowing God to work? Are we praying about it?

He referenced a couple of passages that an older man pointed out to him decades ago. Here are those two passages, take a moment to ponder them.

And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.
(Mark 3:14-15)

The apostles were clearly given “authority” over the demons. Authority and power was not the problem. The apostles were able to cast out demons, and they had done so before the events of Mark 9. But in Mark 9, the disciples were not able to cast out a demon from a young boy. They did not understand why they couldn’t do it.

Jesus’ answer to them was simple:

And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
(Mark 9:28-29)

They had the power and authority to command the demons, but what had they not done, according to Jesus? They had not prayed about it. Good grief, this is so simple to understand, but how many times do we as fathers and leaders forget this concept? We have power and authority over others, maybe at church and at home, but are we trying to command people, or are we praying about it? Are we giving these things up to the throne of God and seeking His counsel and wisdom? Are we giving God time and space to work in someone else’s life?

A basic truth, but a powerful one to me. I really appreciated what this shepherd shared with me the other day, and also it was neat to think that an older wise godly man shared these concepts with him decades ago. The wisdom is getting passed on.

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 5

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, was it okay for the Jew to repay eye for eye and tooth for tooth? (Matthew 5:38-42)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
(Matthew 5:38-42)

Remember first of all that Jesus is not fighting against or correcting the Law of Moses but correcting the hypocritical and carnal applications of the Law taught by the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:17-20). The Law would be fulfilled and nailed to the cross by Jesus, but He was not in this Sermon trying to correct or improve upon it.

In the Law of Moses, God made clear distinctions between murder, accidental death, self-defense, vengeance, capital punishment, etc. Not all killing was murder. But God did teach very plainly that the mindset that should guide His people is to love their neighbors and their enemies, and not to take vengeance for themselves.

The Law of Moses did say, “eye for and eye” and “tooth for tooth,” but in context God was teaching about how civil authorities were to administer punishment and fines for crimes. The Law of Moses in this case was not telling individuals that they could personally dole out retribution, but apparently that is how some, for carnal reasons, had applied it.

Notice the passage below. See the context of “eye for eye” was “as the judges determine.” It was the congregation as a community that administered punishment, not the individual (Leviticus 24:16-23).

“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.
(Exodus 21:22-27)

This principle is very consistent with the New Testament. The Christian, just like the Jew,  is not allowed to take vengeance, because that is God’s realm. Sometimes, many times, that punishment comes through the hands of civil authorities.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18)

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, Paul is quoting from I believe Deuteronomy 32:25).

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
(Romans 13:1-5)

You can see from these Scriptures, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to keep from retaliation. Vengeance was to be left up to God, and punishment was to be left up to the authorities. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

More to come later..

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 4