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Grief – a season we must embrace

A pastor received a letter from a fellow minister who lived in the nation of Kenya. It read, “I only know God’s faithfulness in filling the void that is left when a beloved one is taken from us. I am saddened by the passing of my late wife. The pain and grief is still very real. It can begin early in life with the loss of a pet, a stolen bike, or the death of a grandparent. It’s sting is unique.”


In his book, A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis  related the feelings of grief as he watched his wife’s slow death from cancer. The opening words of his book were “Nobody ever told me.” Grief’s impact is universal. It stalks every home, knocks at every door. Rich and poor of every race, in every nation they know the reality of grief and tears.


The Bible speaks of Grief eighty–eight times and tears forty–five times. Jesus Christ, the Lord of life was a man acquainted with sorrow–He wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus, and over the loss of the city Jerusalem. Throughout the Bible you will find many who walked the corridors of grief: Jeremiah, Peter, Jacob, Joseph, Ruth, Hannah, David, and even members of the early Church.


Peter writes to a scattered band of believer who have been removed from their houses, jobs and communities. They were under severe persecution. Now persecution had set in on the church as he writes these words; In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials – 1 Peter 1:6


We have all walked a long time in this suffering. You have prayed, you have wept. You have hurt – and so now let us seek to begin the healing process.


First we must all respond to grief in this season we must embrace. Grief can hide under many masks, but it must be exposed and guarded against. It can be feeling of guilt or anger like Martha when she approached Jesus in John 11,  she blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death – she said, “If only you had been here….”


Grief can come as waves of depression or it can be buried in a host of business and activity. It can even be denied, but it must always be handled.


Next, we must embrace our grief by remembering. This loss must be reviewed. So hang on to it long enough to allow its full effect to settle in your soul. Our contemporary society says to move on, to fix it quick. But in the Biblical tradition and history people took time to grieve. Jesus did when he heard of the terrible death of his cousin John.


A Presbyterian Pastor once said these words and I’ve always found them comforting…


“Forget those whose say that grief is a sign of lack of faith or that only weak people grieve. Grief is natural and God, in his wisdom, has provided us an outlet for dealing with our sorrow and pain. Remember, cherish the memories. Tears of joy will come, as well as tears of sadness. The funeral service is not the middle or the end of grieving. It is just the beginning.”



Then, we must rebuild. The questions that have tumbled through your minds and echoed through our chambers of your heart – How long will this take? Why is this happening? Where is God in this – those are all normal questions.


Once there was a Pastor who ministered to a woman in his church whose husband was killed in a plane crash. He asked her to write some thoughts  about the time of grief she was experiencing. And after a few months, the woman came back with these words, “For the first few days, I lived with the question ‘why God?’ Then that question dropped and I began asking ‘Which way God?’ And God never answered the first question, but he did answer the second one.


First we rebuild by asking the Lord for his help. The Psalmist writes, Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. (Psalm 118:5)


Second we rebuild by understanding that grief is the price we pay for the ability to love. The joys of our yesterdays are more than enough for the sorrows of our tomorrows.


And third, we rebuild  by the awareness that there is a tomorrow.


Pastor Tony Campollo once spoke to a group of pastors about a memorial he had once attended. He said for the first fifteen minutes the pastor reviewed all of the promises of he resurrection.  He walked down to the family and spoke words of comfort, and then he did an unusual thing. He turned to the open casket and began to address the deceased. He thanked the person for their life and faith and when he finished his litany of memories he said, “That’s all I have to say except ‘Good night Clarence – Good night’


He closed the lid of the casket, turned to the congregation with a smile and said, “But I know God is going to give Clarence a good morning.’ And with that the choir began to sing “In that great gettin up morning, we shall rise – we shall rise.’


Finally we rebuild by standing on the promises of God: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4)


But we have another promise given to us through the inspired pen of Paul.


We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.


1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 The Message


Someone has said that, Paul did not seek to comfort the bereaved with platitudes culled from the philosophers – he did not mock their grief with verses from the poets, leaving them heavy of heart in empty habitations. He just reminded them that their dead had taken a short journey to a glorious land and that their trip was to be a round trip.  In terms of calm finality that was rooted in an unimpeachable source, he told them that Jesus was coming back to reign over his earth, and that, when he came, he would bring their dead with him.”


Grief is real. It is a cleansing river for the soul. God has wired us emotionally to come to grips with our loss and embrace our grief. This is a time of processing. Its purpose is to bring healing that we might continue to live significantly.


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11


Grief is a season, we must embrace, so we might move, strengthened into the future.


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Spent Matches by Roy Moran

Is Spent Matches a “good book?” Sure, do we all like reading good books? Of course we do, and I would add if you’re a church leader or a pastor this might be a good read for you – provided you have not already read hundreds of other books with the exact same message. Suffice it to say, this is not new information – but more of a locker room talk – a rally – a reminder to get back out there and DO the things we all know we should be doing.


The author’s focus is more on discipleship and less on evangelism; not just worrying about getting the people into the pews, but what to do with them once they are there. I did find the book a little “sad” to read at times, it felt like another one of those “do you know what’s wrong with the Church in America?” books. You know the types.


The only reason I picked up this book is that the premise sounded interesting to me, but once I started into it, I quickly recognized what type of book this was.


If you are a spent match, this book may help bring the “spark” back. (see what I did there?) Or it may not – but guess what? The future of your ministry or the rise and fall of your church doesn’t hinge on what you’ll read in this book.


Our churches grow and our people mature as…. we obey. That’s it. It’s that simple. Jesus said to baptize, make disciples and to “teach them to obey” his word.


As men and women in ministry, we all suffer burn out, and we all “put it in neutral” from time to time. But if you want to rekindle the fire, put the book down and pick up that “other book” and spend that same time you’d spend reading this book – reading that one.


Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing this advanced copy for a fair and honest review


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NKJV Foundation Study Bible

As a Pastor I end up with a lot of Bibles on my shelf. I think at one time I counted over 40 (that’s way too many) and it seems I always gravitate towards the “study” Bibles for both myself and the ones I recommend to others.


I didn’t have a New King James translation on my shelf, so I was quick to give this one a look; and since everyone has their own definition of what makes a Bible a “study Bible” I will tell you the features of this volume:


  • Short introduction to each book
  • Helpful notes at the bottom of each page
  • Chain reference at the bottom of the text
  • Words of Jesus in red
  • Theological notes in the back
  • Concordance in the back
  • Maps


At just shy of 1,500 pages this book is certainly not as BIG as other study Bibles it is a nice compact size – that said to keep the size down – that also means that the font size is small. So you need really good eye sight, sunlight or clean glasses to read this one.


I don’t know that I would jump up and down to recommend this as a study Bible with so many others on the market – the reason to get this one is that you like the size or you like the translation. Otherwise, nothing super special here.


Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing this advanced copy for a fair and honest review


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After God’s Own Heart

Well this is our last morning with David and of course there is so much more to his life, so much more we could say, but I would encourage you to take that hunger and that interest and to really sit down and read the books of 1 and 2nd Samuel. Today we’re going to try to wrap up his life, to find some harmony to our Summer and perhaps leave today with a better understanding of the life that God calls us to.


But just to give you a brief overview. David’s son Absalom tries to overthrow him and so David is forced back into exile. During a battle between David’s men and Absalom’s men, Absalom gets his hair caught in a tree and he is killed by his cousin Joab.


Then David returns to Jerusalem as King and then in 2 Samuel 19 there is an amazing battle where the brothers of Goliath (4 different giants) join the Philistines  and David is nearly killed.


As David’s son Solomon grows older and wiser, David gives him a mission, to build a grand temple for the Ark of the Covenant. But when another attempt is taken on David’s life from his fourth son, Nathan recommends to David that Solomon be made King.


This Summer we’ve been looking at the life of David because the Bible says he was Israel’s greatest King.  In our very first week together we read how Nathan first went out to the fields to find the next King of Israel you’ll remember that none of David’s other bigger, more rugged brothers measured up – God told Nathan “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God was looking at David’s heart. It was the reason God had chosen David. God’s greatest qualification wasn’t intelligence, skills or abilities, or appearance, but a person after God’s own heart. Scripture reminds us that David was a man after God’s own heart. But what does that mean? What does that look like?


It means: David’s heart beat in sync with God’s. Whatever God cared about, David cared about. Whatever God loved, David loved. What God wanted to see accomplished, David wanted to see accomplished.

And it’s those kind of people that God is looking for to use in a mighty way, the kind of people that God blesses are the people after God’s own heart. God works powerfully in the lives of people and in churches who have a heart for Him.

So what does it mean to be a person after God’s heart?

This morning we are going to be in 2 Samuel 22 & 23. And these two chapters are special because not only is one of them the inspiration for Psalm 18, but the second is the recorded last will and testament.


When I first started out as a Pastor I didn’t know what I would do first, a wedding or a funeral. And as it turns out, it was a funeral in fact anyone at our church who are Pastor didn’t have a strong personal connection with, he gave those assignments to me, not because he didn’t want to do them, but because he wanted me to learn.


And what often happens when you are asked to do a funeral for someone that you don’t know is that you meet the family and you are told about their lives, perhaps someone was written down a eulogy, which is a summation, it’s your entire life on a single sheet of paper and it usually contains when you were born, who your brothers and sisters were, where you went to school, where you worked, who you married and basically what you accomplished in your life.


Sometime if I am lucky, someone will bring an object with them and say, “this was their… fishing pole, or golf club, or guitar, or diary or bible.” and you can hold the object, thumb through it and get a better picture of their life.


This is the kind of thing we are left with in 2 Samuel 22 & 23. This is David’s eulogy that he has written about himself, these are his last and final words he wishes to share with you and how he wanted to be remembered.


2 Samuel 22

And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.2 He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.


This passage starts off with really great words,  are really good words  “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” For David, God has been his source of everything in the best and worst moments of his life. David begins and says, “I can’t imagine a moment of my life without God. When I was King on the throne, surrounded by blessings, God was there. When I was in cave hiding in fear of my life, God was there. God fought with him in battle, God helped raise his children.

David begins by telling his reader.. God is his safety, his salvation and his everything.


David continues….


“For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me;  the cords of Sheol (the grave) entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.  “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears.


And so here, David begins the question; how involved is God in your life? God is there, but does he intervene? God is there and he hears David’s cries… but does God listen?


v8 “Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry.  Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth,  glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he was seen on the wings of the wind.  He made darkness around him his canopy, thick clouds, a gathering of water. Out of the brightness before him coals of fire flamed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen; the foundations of the world were laid bare, at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.  “He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me,  for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.


You can see that David was a poet, he is using very descriptive language that paints a picture, but he is not being literal. God doesn’t actually send arrows, he doesn’t actually blast his breath towards the enemy, but rather David is answering the question. “Does God listen?”


And David says, God isn’t a king who sits on his throne and counts his treasure. Rather God is involved, God reaches down and helps, God hears the cries of the oppressed and he delivers. God not only hears… he answers.


And so now the eulogy is going to take a different turn.. listen to this….


v21 “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.

Wait what? Is he serious? What about his multiple wives, Bathsheba? Uriah? How can he say this -who is he trying to impress here?  Talk about attempting to embellish on your resume. “I was the chief executive officer over sanitation and environmental control at my company” – no, you were the janitor. David says,


For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.

What could he possibly mean? I’ve heard on dating websites people always stretch the truth or doctor their pictures to paint themselves in the best possible light, but for David to say that he has “ kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.” seems like more than a stretch… right? Let’s see what else he says…


v23 For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight. “With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;  with the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down. For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.


He’s delusional! Does he really think he is “blameless and righteous and clean?”

No, I don’t think so. So there has to be something more going on here. So here’s what I think. Yes David committed 10 thousand sins, but maybe just maybe when he writes …


v22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.


maybe he’s thinking of the 10 thousand sins he didn’t commit, because he’s a man after God’s own heart. You see, David isn’t just writing his own story, he’s adding another layer just beneath the surface, David is also talking about the people of Israel.


David is their King, he is their representative, so in a lot of ways, David is the embodiment of the people. And God is a covenant God. God makes contracts and keeps his word. Yes, David has sinned, yes… Israel has sinned but he always came back, he always repented, Israel always confessed and … God has honored that. God has kept the contract. They are his people – and he is their God.



So yes, we disobey. Yes, you and I do wicked and evil things, but… when we come back, when we confess… God washes away our sins and we are (as David says) “blameless, righteous and clean.”


David has learned to do something that many of us have never learned to do. He sees himself as God does. Listen to what he say next….


v31 This God—his way is perfect;  the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer  and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war,   so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip; I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, and did not turn back until they were consumed. I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, those who hated me, and I destroyed them. They looked, but there was none to save; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as the dust of the earth; I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets. “You delivered me from strife with my people;  you kept me as the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. Foreigners came cringing to me; as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me. Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation, the God who gave me vengeance  and brought down peoples under me, who brought me out from my enemies; you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from men of violence. “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.”


David quickly turns his language doesn’t he. He starts by saying, how good and blameless he is and then he quickly turns the attention to God. David says, “I don’t want there to be any doubt, it’s not about me… this is all God’s hand. This is all His work!” David wants you to know that every good thing in our life comes from God – every good blessing every good moment, every feeling of joy and wonder comes from the Lord.


Every time you get to use a credit card that is a blessing from the Lord. You bought groceries or new clothes – those are blessings.

When we give money to the poor, when your children get good grades, or get accepted to A&M who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God!


The surgery was a success! You got a new job, you got a new house! Your pregnant! You have a new car! The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation, Blessings, blessings, blessings. David says if anything in my life is good – then God gets all of the credit.


So how can we look in the mirror and see what God sees? How can we begin this journey and this process to being people who have the heart of God?


1. David’s heart beat along with God (he was obedient.)


The first priority of being a person who has a heart for God is to do everything God wants us to do, and to carry out his will.

Jesus said it this way, “If you love me, obey my commands (John 14:15).”

God says to us if you want to be after my heart, do what I say. The first we hear of David being a man after God’s heart is during his predecessor Saul’s reign. The prophet Samuel had apparently told Saul to wait seven days for his arrival to offer a sacrifice to the Lord to receive his blessing before going off to battle. Saul waited, one day, two days, three days. Meanwhile, the enemy, the Philistines had amassed a huge army of soldiers and chariots ready for battle. With every day the terrified Israelite army became smaller and smaller. Finally seven days went by and no Samuel. So Saul decided he couldn’t wait any longer for Samuel because otherwise he wouldn’t have enough soldiers to fight the battle. So he chose to offer the ritual sacrifice to God himself. Just as Saul finished the sacrifice, guess who showed up? –  that’s right Samuel. And he was not happy. Samuel was not happy because Saul violated his direct order by going ahead without him, and on top of that God had specific ways in which to offer sacrifices, and they were only to be done by a priest, no one else. In Saul’s impatience he disobeyed God’s command. And this was Samuel’s response:




1 Samuel 13:13-14


The reason God took away the kingdom from Saul’s descendents was because he disobeyed God’s commandments. Saul didn’t do what God wanted him to do. The kind of king God was looking for was a person who had a heart for God, in other words, one who would obey God’s commands, a person like David.

Hundreds of years later, another guy named Paul, taught about what it was that separated Saul from David he said:
Acts 13:22

… when [God] had removed [Saul], he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’

Having a heart for God means we obey the things God tells us to, we do everything God wants us to do, not just the commands which are convenient for us, but even the tough stuff.

Listen, David experienced God’s grace and God’s blessing, because he was obedient. The last two weeks we looked at David’s indiscretion and his sin, but we also witnessed his repentance and his confession. Of course we don’t have to be perfect, David wasn’t perfect, David turned aside, but those minor failings drove him back to his knees and back to obedience.

There is more to being a Christian than saying a prayer and coming to church once a week.


Are you after God’s heart? Does your heart beat in sync with God’s? Do you care about what God cares about? Do you care about his commands? Do you desire that every person might be saved, know the truth, and have a relationship with God? (every person not just the nice people, or the people like us) Because that is what God cares about. God cares when a person doesn’t have a meal to eat, or clean water to drink, clothes on their back, or a place to lay their head. Does your heart break for the things that break God’s heart? Do you care about justice, freedom, mercy and grace because God cares about those things!
Listen to David’s prayer from Psalm 19:14:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer..

David wasn’t just satisfied with doing things for God to please him. David actually wanted more of God in his life. David’s desire was not just to go after God’s heart but to go after God.

As a poet, songwriter, and musician, David is credited with 73 of the 150 Psalms in the book of Psalms. That’s over half. The Psalms reflect the kind of heart God is looking for. David poured out his heart to God in prayer, poetry, and songs; and through it all beat a heart bent on obedience.


2. David’s heartbeat was for God – (he was passionate)

People who have a heart for God have a desire for MORE of God in their life. Just as you hunger for food, and thirst for water, those with a heart for God have a soul which hungers and thirsts for God.

David wrote in Psalm 63 while he was in the desert fleeing from Saul:
“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Another Psalmist writes a similar song – Psalm 42
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. You alone are my hearts desire and I long to worship you.”

David’s heart didn’t just beat along with God’s heart, his heart beat for God. When the ark of the covenant was being brought into Jerusalem for the first time, David danced with joy, the people were shouting and singing, and excited because the presence of the Lord was returning to Jerusalem.

I’ve seen people with a passion for sports, for their college, for their job and for their kids. I’ve seen people who are passionate about government, about community and even about church… but all those things (while all of them good) do not equate to a passion for God.


We can spend a couple hours at a sporting event perhaps even in bad weather, we can even spend 2 hours in the car driving there and back –  but an hour or more worshipping God on Sunday morning seems like a chore.


We can enjoy watching two hours of television a night, but 15-30 minutes of being with God in prayer and reading his word seems like forever.

Our faith has settled for good enough. “God’s ok with it, he understands, my relationship with God is good enough, it has gotten me through this far.” and we become satisfied with normal.  But see a person with a heart for God isn’t satisfied with normal. They desire MORE of God in their life and they are passionate about doing the things God loves.

God honors and blesses a person, a church, a community, a group who honestly desires God and more of him.

How do we become more like David, a person after God’s heart? It sounds nice, and perhaps we think, “I would like to do that, but I don’t feel it, or my hearts just not into it.” But see, I think in our culture we often misunderstand what our heart is all about. We think of the heart as being the place of emotions, and we say “I love you with all of my heart.” The heart is where we feel and experience emotions. But in the Old Testament the heart was not just the place of feeling; it was also the center of thought, and of will.


Today it would be more accurate if we called said “our heart and our mind.” In other words we are not just led by our feelings, but we can actually make a choice to have a heart for God. We can make a conscious choice to pursue God’s heart until we feel it, and once we DO feel it, then we pursue God all the more.


You see, it isn’t about doing it when the feeling strikes you, it’s about doing what we choose to do. “Will I obey God in all matters, will I pursue God, will I praise God even if I don’t feel like it?” David did and what he learned was….


“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior.”

One last word from David, 2 Samuel chapter 23. David writes…

23 Now these are the last words of David:


Now, just to be clear these are not the words from his death bed. These are not the last words to escape his lips before he died. More than likely David wrote these words himself as is own last will and testament, these are the words that David wants his friends and family to read and this is the legacy he leaves to you and me.


The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:

v2 “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. (David is talking about the Holy Spirit, sitting beside him, whispering to him images and visions of a future many years later)

v3 The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

“For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire? But worthless men[ are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand; but the man who touches them arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they are utterly consumed with fire.”


David with the help of the Holy Spirit looks out over the vast expanse of time and says “one day there will be a new kingdom and a new King.”  The God of contracts and covenants will one day establish a new agreement and a new system of forgiveness. With the help of the Holy Spirit David is able to write down a vision of his great great grandson, another shepherd, another great King, a man named Jesus.


And when the people of his day see Jesus act with obedience, and they see his healing hand move with passion, what do they call him?


“Jesus, the son of David.” Wow… what a life… what a legacy. Listen, when you die, someone is going to pick through your things. Someone is going to take your fishing rod, or your bible to the pastor and say, “this was their life.”


What will they say about you?


What will they write in your eulogy? How will your story be told? What are the last words you will leave to the future generations? Will your legacy be one of obedience… will it be one of passion? Will people say of you that you had a heart for God?


We could be so lucky to have lived such a life.

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Taking Out the Trash


Tell you a little bit about myself, I am a minimalist. I don’t need a lot of possessions to make me happy, in fact, the least amount the better. Id’ rather have seven shirts, one for each day of the week, rather than 20. More possessions just means more to care for, more to clean and more to be responsible for. I love the ‘less is more’ philosophy.


So one rule I used to live by was… 1 thing in, 1 thing out. In other words, if I went to the store and bought 3 shirts, that meant I went home and threw away 3 shirts. Well, that is until I met Joanna. She was kind of surprised that to get rid of something, I just “threw it away” and she encouraged me to donate things or sell them at garage sales instead.


And to tell you the truth, I never really thought about where our trash goes. We put our trash out on trash day, head off to work and then like magic… it disappears by the time we get home.


But it’s not magic. Our trash goes someplace. Right now it’s estimated that each one of you makes about 4 pounds of trash a day which translates to 251 million tons a year. America makes 2x the trash per person than our neighboring countries.


What happens to it? Some of it gets recycled (32%), some of it is burned (12%) and the rest is buried in a landfill (55%). Our landfills are made up of construction waste, yard clippings, plastics and food.


I think most of us are familiar with a dump, that’s just a place with a gate around it that has a huge pile of garbage in the middle of it, some of you have probably even been to the Dump.


But a landfill is different, it’s actually more intelligent than a big open space. A landfill has to be carefully isolate from any groundwater, air or rain and almost daily, new trash is covered by soil and clay.  The purpose of a landfill is to bury the trash in such a way that it will be isolated from groundwater, will be kept dry and will not be in contact with air.


Landfills in Texas are, literally, a growing problem. Our state alone has 12 landfills towering above 200 feet tall. And there’s no shortage of landfill space, either. Texas counties have, on average, over 40 years of reserve capacity. Right now, we even have 3 landfills with over 2000 years of space!


But, it doesn’t mean that once our trash leaves our doorstep it’s gone. Under landfill conditions, trash will not decompose that much. A landfill is not like a compost pile. In fact, when old landfills have been excavated or sampled, a 40-year-old newspaper had  been found once with easily readable print. Landfills are not designed to break down trash, merely to bury it.


Last week David had a problem with a sin in his life. He slept with another man’s wife and then had her husband killed. David had a pile of trash… over in the corner of his life and so what did he do with it?




Instead he secretly buried it in a corner of his heart and never went back to it. He handled it in his own way, and just hoped for the best.


But as we’re going to see in today’s chapter, God had a different idea. God wasn’t content to allow David to handle the sin in his life in his own way. God has a designated place for sin and he won’t allow David to put this trash in any ‘ol place.


No God asks us to unearth our darkness and put it where it belongs. You see God knows what living with trash will do to our lives, what it will do to our souls. You and I, we need healing, we need freedom and we’re just not capable of burying our own sins.


This morning, the message is; God loves you. But in our seasons of waste management, He will step in if you are not dealing with your sin well, God will convict you and he will take out your trash for you.


2 Samuel 12:1-4

…the Lord sent Nathan to David.(that’s great.. who is that? Nathan is David’s court prophet. This is his religious counsel) He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had very many flocks and herds,  but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”


David can see through this analogy, right? David’s a smart guy, he’s shaking his finger at Nathan and saying, “I see what you’re doing there…. ” right? Nope.


v5-7 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die,  and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”


David gets bent out of shape and Nathan has to step in and say, “Hello! It’s YOU! This story is about you – wake up!”


v7-8 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.  And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.


God says I will always give you what you need, all you had to do was ask. With me, you don’t have to take what is not yours. Don’t I take care of you?


v9-15 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? (remember we said David did evil) You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”


Wow, what would you have said or done? Kill the messenger. We don’t like bad news. We don’t like confrontation. What does David say?

13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.


So the punishment for David’s sin is, Bathsheba’s son will die. David repents, the Bible says he fasts and goes without food for seven days, and when the child dies.. the Bible says..


v20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.

v24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah,  because of the Lord.


Our story this morning begins and ends with a word from the Lord. The story starts with David in a broken relationship with God, there is sin, there is an unrepentant heart and then the story ends with God stepping in and redeeming this marriage that had an impure beginning.


Those of us more familiar with the story know that Solomon goes on to be another amazing King in Israel’s history, and you can’t get away from the fact that Solomon is the son of David and Bathsheba.


And what is so amazing is, God takes the sin that we burry and he unearths it and recycles it through his mercy.


When Joseph confronts his brothers that sold him into slavery he tells them.
Genesis 50:20

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..”


Paul writes in Romans 8:28

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.


See the truth is, we’re not capable of handling our own brokenness’s. But God has a process of taking out the trash and he does it the correct way.


And this is how it works.


1. Confrontation


David was content to let his sin be buried and stay secret. If Nathan had not confronted him with his little lamb story, who knows, David might never have handled this issue.


And I think for the most part, we don’t like to be shown our trash. You ever lose something in your house and you wonder… “Did I accidently throw it away?” What do you have to do? Go out to the garage, rip open the bag and dig through it. It’s a messy process, it’s a stinky process and we just don’t like it. In fact, wouldn’t Christianity and Church just be so much better without sin? Let’s just never speak of it again… sounds good, right?


No, God asks us to deal with our sin. We have to confront it


James 5:19-20

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Sin can’t stay buried, buried sin never decomposes, it never rots, it’s just hidden and it’s influence continues to harm us. Buried sin is toxic.


Do you know why landfills are kept from ground water? That’s because over 50% of the United States population depends on groundwater for drinking water. Groundwater is also one of our most important sources of water for irrigation.


Drinking contaminated groundwater can have serious health effects. Diseases such as hepatitis and dysentery may be caused by contamination from septic tank waste. Poisoning may be caused by toxins that have leached into well water supplies.

Wildlife can also be harmed by contaminated groundwater. Other long term effects such as certain types of cancer may also result from exposure to polluted water.


God understands the contamination to our own souls from a contaminated spirit. God has us confront our sin, because our tendency is to hide it.


Then what?


2. Conviction


God convicted David of his sin. And here we’re talking about conviction as the act of convincing a person by argument or evidence. Nathan says plainly “you are the rich man who has taken what does not belong to you…” and… David agrees, correct? David is convinced that yes, he is a sinner.


And then David is forgiven and all is well, correct? Nope. David is forgiven and he is punished. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Isn’t God nice? Isn’t he loving? Why does his baby have to die? Why do we have to bring bloodshed into this?  Why does David’s sin have consequences.


Well, that’s the way it is with things. Sin brings darkness, sin brings death and with sin there is always blood.


Hebrews 9:22

Under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.


Sin extraction hurts. We bury it, because the alternative is, conviction and then the tooth extraction. We don’t want to clean up our mess, but the Bible says if we don’t we’re fools.


Proverbs 26:11

Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

We don’t want to go to the dentist do we? We’d be just fine to let that black tooth mold and decay and rot on it’s own, but noooo, the Dentist wants to reach into your mouth with his whole arm up to his elbow and pull that mess out, root and all.


Sin extractions, hurt, but they are necessary for healing. We need to be confronted, we need to be convicted. Paul sent the Corinthian church a confrontational letter and it hurt the churches feelings, but look at what Paul says to them in his follow up letter.


2 Corinthians 7:8-10

For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

We might resist confrontation and conviction because it hurts, but we need the hurt. The hurt reminds us that we’re alive.


David writes in Psalm 51

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.


3. Repentance.


In repentance we admit that we’re wrong. With God, this is non-negotiable. Listen, I don’t know how you argue and fight with co-workers or your husband, but with God, admitting you’re to blame is not negotiable. Repentance is essential to experiencing forgiveness.  Burying your sin, forgetting your sin, won’t work. We have to confess. We have to ask for forgiveness.


And then what happens? God takes out the trash for good.


Do you see what happens when Nathan confronts David? David Admits he was wrong, he’s humble in his reaction (he fasts before the Lord) and after his punishment he returns to worship. How can David go back to worship God? His baby is dead! Yes, that’s true, but David sees the bigger picture, God has removed his sin and restored his relationship.


What does it look like when God takes out the trash?


Psalm 103

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.


Where is God’s landfill? Far away. The Bible says your sin is taken as far away as the east is from the west. David goes back to worship God because his trash was taken out, his spirit is lifted.


But don’t you still want to know where your sin goes? What God does with it? I mean, yea, he works out thing for good, but… where does it all go?


Isaiah 53 (Common English Bible)

It was certainly our sickness that he carried,
and our sufferings that he bore,
but we thought him afflicted,
struck down by God and tormented.
5 He was pierced because of our rebellions
and crushed because of our crimes.
He bore the punishment that made us whole;
by his wounds we are healed.


Where does our trash go? It’s pilled up on Jesus.


And see, that’s a big deal. God is our trash man, but Jesus is our landfill. Yes David’s baby boy had to die, but God does even worse things to his own son. The Bible says God lays all our brokenness on the shoulders of his own boy.


And yes, Jesus carries your sin away …and our tendency is to forget that. We forget our sin and we forget the process. The garbage leaves our curb and we never see it again, but built into our forgiveness, built into our wholeness is an element of remembrance.


Before the cross the Bible says Jesus met with those closest to him to share a simple meal


1 Corinthians 11:23-25

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for  you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”


Have you ever wondered why we take communion? It’s a remembrance. It’s our way of reminding ourselves that God takes our trash out. No, we don’t have to remember every vivid detail of our sin, all we have to remember is that Jesus came and took it away.


The Lord’s Supper is the most meaningful memorial ever established. You can see the wisdom of God written all over it. It is so simple.  It is vividly symbolic. The bread reminds us of Jesus’ sinless body. The juice is the blood and it reminds us of the blood shed for our sin.

Communion is so much more than a religious tradition. It is more than a mid-service snack. It is a memorial. A picture of remembrance. It focuses our hearts and minds on Jesus. And every time you and I take the Lord’s Supper, it is a sermon without words about the cross. Jesus left us with a picture of his grace so that we would never forget.


So I would offer that before you practice the remembrance, you take a moment to allow the pain. Self examination can be a time of confrontation and conviction, don’t just eat a cracker and drink a thimble of juice and just assume all is right in your life, remember David went without food for a week. Listen, none of us are perfect, we are all sinners and we all have darkness, but at the same time we are all saved by God’s grace and the act of communion can be a wonderful moment of rededication and to healing.


When we share in Communion we are celebrating a relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ, by taking seriously His own words on the night before he died


Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


Pause this morning as you consider the weight of guilt, of self hatred, of addiction, of shame and regret, know that Jesus’ arms are strong, his back is wide and he’s ready to take your trash out.


Our ushers are coming forward to serve you….


“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”



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