Archive

Archive for the ‘Evening Devotionals’ Category

An Undeserved Curse

March 26th, 2018

Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse does not come to rest. (Proverbs 26:2 NIV)

David and his loyal supporters were forced to leave Jerusalem during the rebellion of his son Absalom. They escaped by the east, through the wilderness. But as they crossed the Kidron Valley and headed up the Mount of Olives and moved east there came a tormentor, Shimei, who cursed David. Shimei had belonged to the house of Saul and had never accepted David as king, even though Samuel the prophet had anointed David.

One of David’s faithful warriors offered to go over and kill Shimei, but David told him not to. “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone…” (2 Sam 16:11). David was brokenhearted because it was his own son who was seeking his kingdom and his life. He must have felt like a failure as a father, perhaps even as a king, for Absalom had organised his rebellion under David’s nose. Yet David put his life in God’s hands.

In a short while the rebellion was defeated, Absalom was killed, and David was restored as king, and Shimei begged his forgiveness, which he received. The curses did not come to rest. David’s example here, his calmness under accusation and false condemnation, his willingness to entrust his life into God’s hands, is an example to us all. He had the character to consider that his accusers and his critics might have a point or two. But if it was undeserved, then God would not let it come to rest.

God’s people are often subject to false accusations – partly false or entirely false. I have known several men and women in my churches over the years who have endured scathing accusations that were entirely false. I have known several who were falsely accused of sexual misconduct, even molestation, dishonesty in money matters, or the abuse of authority, and other matters. Though most of these cases took some time for the truth to be brought out, in each case the undeserving curse or the false accusation did not rest on the person in the end. The witness to their integrity and to their character in the end won out.

We are wise to be careful with matters of personal conduct, to make sure we do the right thing and to make sure that we do not give people cause or excuse to make false accusations. I have often told my young staff members, “You cannot prevent people from shooting at you, but you do not need to buy their ammunition.” But none of us can be 100% sure that false accusations will not come, and we might suddenly be left friendless under a cloud of suspicion, at least for a while.

I believe the attitude that the proverb above and the example of David teaches us is that life should be lived before God, not before people. Walk daily with God and you will live confidently. This means that our greatest concern should be what God thinks of our thoughts, our attitudes, and our decisions and actions. God can help us in our daily life. He works behind the scenes in ways we do not know to protect his people, to provide for them, and to bless them. We should not be overly concerned about what others say, or what lies the rumour factories produce.

People are fickle, unpredictable, subject to rash judgments, and quick to believe the worst and find fault with good men and women. If our first goal in life is to please people, we will never achieve it and we will live in fear and insecurity. If our goal is please God, then everything else will fall into place. Christ said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

So do not worry about what others say about you. Kipling called “triumph and disaster,” or success and failure, “two imposters,” and certainly he was right. We should not make too much of either in our life, nor in the lives of others. Let us live our life for an audience of One – for God and for God alone.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

 

___________________________

It seems fitting to share this classic poem of Rudyard Kipling here:

“If”

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Evening Devotionals, Proverbs

Integrity in the Faith

March 21st, 2018

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house… (Psalm 101:1-2 ESV)

David’s psalm describes the source of his integrity and the manner in which it impacted his personal life and his relationships with others.

  • The source of his standard was God’s steadfast love and justice
  • God’s character impacted his personal life in his thoughts and private life
  • He then, as king, acted justly in dealing with others

These three are the basic steps we all need to take if we will be people of integrity.

God’s standard

First, the standard we use must not be our own capricious, flawed thoughts. It should be God’s standard, not our own personal preferences, or what others have told us, or what we may “feel” is the right thing to do at the moment. Some people’s thoughts of what is the right thing to do come from very shallow sources – their own anger and desire for revenge, the impure thoughts of our friends who are influenced by their own hurts and wounds, or the latest movie we might have seen or romance novel we might have read.

God’s standard is pure and holy. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19) “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17). David longed not only for the knowledge of the Word of God, but also the presence of God’s Spirit to guide him to understand it.

David’s private thoughts

The second essential element of living in integrity is to honor God’s standard, once we know it, in our own private life. He “pondered” on the truth of God, which meant his basic approach was positive – not merely to avoid the impure but to take into his heart and his mind the pure truth and pure ways of God. Within his own house he would walk with integrity before the Lord. The original Hebrew word was tome and it meant wholeness or integrity. When a ship does not leak or a building is solid and securely built we say they have integrity. To lose their integrity means that the ship leaks and will sink, and that the building is structurally unsound and might fall. Integrity is that quality in our life that keeps us solid, sound, and secure.

David went on to say in his psalm: “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (101:3). He protected his own thoughts. This seems like a description of a life that was free from enslavement to pornography, and it certainly included such a thought – that David did not have a wandering eye that lusted after women. (We remember the time that lust did enter his heart with Bathsheba and the tragedy that followed – 2 Samuel 12.)

But from the context we see that his protection of his heart did not end there. He also avoided gossipers, proud and arrogant men, liars and evildoers. Pornography is an evil addition of many people – one that God can cure us of if we will let Him – but it is not the only evil in the world. David realized he was subject to temptation, to be drawn away from God’s will, so he kept his heart with all diligence.

David’s dealing with others

As king he held a judicial role, a divinely given obligation to winnow out evil from his presence. From Moses onward, the leaders of Israel had an obligation to bring justice to the people (Exodus 18:13). Though this psalm focused on removing from his presence and even destroying evil men, this was merely a prelude to the greater goal, and that is to establish justice in the land.

Jesus summed this matter up by saying:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:3-5 ESV)

If we want to help others we must (1) know what God’s standard of right and wrong is, (2) we must adopt this in our own lives, confessing our faults, surrendering to God our ways, blocking from our lives all evil and impure influences, and (3) do and help others to do the right thing.

The biggest error we usually make in this process is to ignore the second step of personally adopting the principles and righteousness of God. We falsely think that all that matter is that we know what is right and tell others to do it. But unless we also embrace it personally, we are mere puppets and not true disciples or true followers of Christ.

 

 

Evening Devotionals, Uncategorized