Many in our world today say that God is either aloof or vindictive. Those who say he’s vindictive have the image of a petty God firing off lighting bolts at those who don’t pray just the right way. Yet reality often has a way or surprising us.
In 2 Samuel 24 God gives King David the opportunity to choose which judgment he would receive for acting in a sinful manner. He could choose a judgment from nature, a judgment from man, or a judgment from God.
David chose to be judged by God. But, why?
Listen to David’s own words: “Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam 24:14) So who do you see as the lenient one…God or your fellows around you? Put differently, from whom have you received more mercy throughout your life? An honest answer to this question just might open our eyes to the fact that God exemplifies mercy and not just judgment. God is fair, yes, but he is also merciful.
The plain fact is that we will all mess up from time to time. The great truth is that mercy is to be found in God and his son Jesus Christ. The next time you find yourself needing to work through the results of a foolish act, take David’s advice and seek God’s judgment rather than human judgment…it just might save your life.
How have you experienced the mercy of God in your life?
Do you know someone (or were you someone) who believes that God is vindictive? What are some of the reasons this person offers to substantiate their claim? Are they valid? Why or why not?
There is nothing better than being on good terms with your family, friends, neighbors, countrymen, and co-workers. If that is true, what are you doing to restore broken relationships? How are you keeping peace?
The Bible is not all riddles and proverbs. Sometimes, as is the case with Psalm 133, it as simple as getting things right with the ones you love.
Well…what are you waiting for?
Have you ever had someone come to you in an effort to make peace? How did things go?
Is making peace with someone easy or difficult? Why?
What are some suggestions you would give on making peace another?
Exodus 20:20 “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning”
Nearly everyone has heard about the Ten Commandments. Some of us were taught them in Sunday School, or we have seen the movies made about them. They represent the “basics” of morality that God gives to mankind. But for the Israelites in the desert, the Ten Commandments represent far more-nothing less than a major breakthrough.
The surrounding nations worshiped many different gods, they lived in constant fear of questioning their gods. Which one was anger at them, or what would they have to do to please their gods. But now God himself, maker of the universe, gave the Israelites a binding treaty signed by his own hand. They will always know exactly what God requires and where they stand before him. They have a basis for trust and security as a nation. This covenant that God gives the Israelites is repeated again as the new covenant in the New Testament. Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus summarizes the Ten Commandments by saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is comforting knowing that we have a God that loves us, knows us, and will always be there with us and for us.
What was the #1 rule in your family growing up?
What would some of the Ten Commandments say if worded positively?
Why did God give us these rules?
Of all the Ten Commandments which does our society most need to hear? Which do you most need to hear?
In Genesis 9:18–25 we find the odd and harsh account of Noah cursing his grandson (the son of his youngest son Ham) because of Ham’s misconduct. What was so bad about what Ham did? The Bible tells us that Noah had too much to drink and as a result passed out naked in his tent. Ham came upon the scene, and rather than help his father overcome his indiscretion, he publicly mocked his father in the presence of his brothers, Shem and Japheth. Parental disrespect was a capital offense in the culture of Noah’s day. When Noah learns what Ham has done, he puts a curse on Ham’s child Canaan. As Canaan will be the father of an entire people group, this curse foreshadows the conflict that will ensue between the Israelites and the Canaanites.
Think about a time when you came to the aid of a loved one as he or she dealt with a personal indiscretion. How do you show respect to someone when perhaps they don’t deserve it? Looking back, how would you handle the situation differently? What would you do the same?
How can we restore relationships that have been affected by our own poor choices?
Is faster always better? Think about that for a minute before moving on…
I can reheat a piece of pizza in the microwave in thirty seconds. If I were to use my toaster oven to reheat that same piece of pizza it would certainly take longer. So is my toaster oven obsolete? NO WAY! If I want a nice crispy piece of reheated pizza it’s worth waiting for the toaster oven to work its magic. I never found a microwave that was able to retain the crispiness factor of anything!
Sometimes, before we even know it, we’ve sacrificed quality for speed. The real tragedy is this happens in our spiritual lives as much as it does in our culinary lives. Take Bible reading as an example. When is the last time you focused on one single verse for more than the time it took you to read it?
Or a singe word.
We need to take a cue from my toaster oven because sometimes it’s worth the wait. Thinking over a passage of scripture is a really valuable exercise. Considering it from different angles. Pausing on one word at a time until we have heard from our Creator in every possible way.
Sometimes speed is good. Better something than nothing. But don’t enslave yourself to speed otherwise a convenience will become an entrapment.
Here are some suggestions to get you moving in the slower direction.
Take your reading plan to the next level by reading the same passage for seven consecutive days. (I know this will drive you box checkers mad!). When we do this we are seeking quality over quantity. We are expecting the Bible to speak to us more than once and in more than one way. We are recognizing that the depth of Scripture deserves our attention as much as its breadth.
Read. Each. Word. Of. A. Verse. As. If. It. Were. Followed. By. A. Period. God chose every word of the Bible. Each word communicates something to the reader. By pausing and reflecting on each new word you encounter you open up a storehouse of new ways for God to work in your heart and life.
Commit to write out three verses of Scripture on an index card each day for a week. The difference between an email and a love letter does not need to be explained. Taking time to write out Scripture focuses us and slows us down. It helps us bring more of our senses into the exercise of internalizing the Scripture on which we are focused.
Toaster Oven’s might be quaint. They may or may not make a comeback. But they can still serve to remind us that some things are worth waiting for.
Is it easy or difficult for you to slow the pace at which you read Scripture?
Does reading less Scripture make you feel more guilty? Why or why not?
Do you have any methods or suggestions for the rest of us on how to read Scripture slowly?