If you have lived any amount of time you have been hurt by someone. We have grown to expect this from our world. David was hurt many times. Let us use Ps. 55:13-14 as an example, “But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together and walked unto the house of God in company.” David was hurt by a “churchgoer”.
There is no pain like that. One feels betrayed and violated. We may think we are not capable of this type of behavior, but inside all of us resides a sinful nature. The old saying is that the devil comes to church every Sunday (believe me he does) and we have to make sure he does not ride with us! Not everyone comes to church with the right attitude. Most church splits, and other sundry problems, start with one malcontent person.
Imagine this same situation today. I attend any church in any town U.S.A. and after months of gaining trust and friends someone said, what I thought, to be a hurtful thing. Instead of going to God with it (as David did) I go home, stew, blame all Christians, label them hypocrites and never return to church. Even worse, I start sowing discord in a church.
God says woe to those who betray our trust and sow discord. We see in Pr. 6:16-19, “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” We must not let the last four words be said of us!
How can we avoid a wrong attitude? We need to attend church with a loving spirit. I always offered this advice. Believe that nobody would willingly hurt us or our feelings in church. Of course, this is not foolproof, but it is a great start. Likewise, “we” need to be loving and resist negative thoughts toward the brethren. We need to follow David’s example if we find ourselves hurt, whether real or perceived, in Ps. 55:16-17, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” A great memory verse to go to in these troubling times is Ps. 56:3-4, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” God give us the ability to resist the Evil One and the grace to love the brethren as ourselves. Allow us to see our own faults and never let it be said that we harmed a sister or brother. Let us go to church for its intended purpose-to worship the Great One!
Scammers are shrewd. You have some as simple as the “melon drop.” Melons used to be expensive in Asia, so the con artist would find a tourist, bump into them while carrying a melon, and drop the melon. The con artist would yell and scream about the atrocity and demand to be repaid for the “expensive” melon.
Other scams are more elaborate like the false good Samaritan scam. Two cons find a “mark” to steal a purse from. The “bad guy” steals the purse and begins running. The “good guy” chases after him making the criminal drop the bag but getting away. Hopefully, the unsuspecting victim will pay the “good Samaritan” for his valiant effort.
Scammers are creative and shrewd. They have a way to play on your emotions and stick enough truth and hype into the situation to make it believable. Maybe you look at those people and you think, “I can’t believe anyone would do those kinds of things.”
Have you ever thought about scamming God?
David was a man after God’s heart, but not because he was perfect. In the story of David, after he has committed his ultimate failure, we see his attempt to scam others and God. First, David schemed. He would summon Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, from battle hoping he would go home to his wife. But Uriah does not go. So the second phase of his scam kicks in: Conceal. Uriah carries his death sentence from David to Joab. In the thick of the scam, we pile on more sin so we can bury it out of sight. Throughout his scam, David abandons his fellowship with God and misleads the people.
Instead of scamming God and others, we must acknowledge our wrongdoing, accept our punishment, and appeal for restoration. David wrote Psalm 51 putting into words his deep regret. He desires to be right with God and asks for cleansing and renewing.
The prodigal son had to go through these steps. He had to recognize that he had sinned against his father and before God. He had to accept his punishment, and he appealed for restoration. God cannot use you unless your life is clean. If sins are coming to your mind, then don’t let another day pass without acknowledging your sin, accepting the correction, and asking for renewal.
After David and Bathsheba suffer the consequences, they have another son and his name is Solomon. Solomon’s name means peace. Once things are right between you and God, there is indescribable peace. Don’t allow sin into your life to disturb that peace. Sadly, it will happen, but seek to restore fellowship with God quickly.
How are you at following directions? Usually, it is not a struggle for me, but when I went to the doctor yesterday I found out I wasn’t following the prescription! “You are supposed to take one pill twice a day,” the doctor said. “I’ve been taking two pills once a day. Does that count?”
As you can imagine, it wasn’t satisfactory. There’s a reason he prescribed one pill twice a day and not two pills once a day. I was not at liberty to modify the prescription to fit my preferences. Exodus 21-24 and many more chapters are filled with prescriptive instructions. “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus 21:24). God desired his people to live equitably. This would have been strange to this eastern culture because the scales of justice tipped in the favor of some because of their social status. The rich and powerful ruled, but God insisted there was a ruling force which superseded the high-rollers in society. “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him” (Exodus 23:20-21).
The painful detail of the prescription can be overwhelming, but notice how God does not levy rules aimlessly. Everything God does is calculated while considering infinite factors in the equation. “I will not drive them out from before thee in one year” (Exodus 23:29). Does this strike you as peculiar? God knows what He is doing. There is a reason he has a precise prescription and a specific schedule. He knew if the Israelites cleared the land it would become unmanageable for them. As they grew in number and as they remained faithful to their calling, God would extend the borders of their land.
This passage brings to mind the prayer of Jabez: “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” (1 Chronicles 4:10). This prayer request hasn’t changed much for most people. However, you cannot expect to receive such blessings unless you follow the prescription. In our present-day revelation of Scripture, we do not follow the letter of the law, but rather the spirit of the law. Where the old covenant was “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth,” Jesus said, “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” (Matthew 5:38–41).
Follow the prescription. What exactly is the prescription for us today? “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
Have you ever spent much time in a tent? As an outdoor enthusiast, I have spent my fair share of time in various sizes of tents and a variety of situations. On a positive note, I can picture clear cool (but not cold) nights with dry sleeping bags/clothes that led to a good night’s sleep in a tent. On the other hand, I can remember some rather nightmarish occasions spent in a tent. One night stands out in particular in which a heavy rainstorm literally collapsed the tent that I was in due to the water collecting on the roof to such a point that it collapsed one of the poles, leading us to spend the rest of the night trying to sleep in a car.
Either way, and even including those good experiences in a tent, my first night back at home in my own bed with a nice soft mattress and climate-controlled conditions leads me to wonder why I would ever want to sleep in a tent again. Our lunch under the tent at church yesterday is another good example as to the temporary nature of a tent. Even if the weather conditions had been ideal, the tent was still designed for a few hours of use, nothing more.
In a similar matter, Paul refers to our physical bodies as tents. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 Paul writes, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (tent) were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:” He goes on to say with expectation the hope that one day, when we are absent from our body (tent), we will be present with the Lord because we “walk by faith, not by sight.”
This passage of Scripture is a reminder for us today of the temporary nature of our lives and that we need to constantly remind ourselves to invest in things that will matter for eternity. So often we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the affairs of this life, even though we know our life is “a vapour, that appeareth for a little time.” (James 4:14) It should also cause us to look forward with excitement to the time when we will trade in these temporary, often sickly bodies/tents and instead receive our heavenly bodies, which will last for all of eternity.