There is a phrase in the Old Testament that sets a negative tone for what is to follow. 2 Samuel 11 begins, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…David remained at Jerusalem.” There is something about this statement that tells us all is not well.
Every time I read this I am reminded of the first day of football practice every year in high school. The athletic handbook, we were told, could be summarized “Be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.”
The reality is David wasn't where he was supposed to be when he was supposed be there, and we know that great sin and heartache were the result.
This is easy to see with David and his big public sin, but it can be harder to see in ourselves and the not so public disobediences? Where do you see the fallout of not being where you were supposed to be when you were supposed to be there? It is very possible that you haven’t missed a formal appointment to be somewhere, but you have had an inner prompting (Holy Spirit) and haven’t followed that prompting.
I have been chewing on this verse about David and these words from high school because of conviction I have felt lately. Like many (as Gary mentioned in his sermon Sunday), I have spent a large amount of time watching T.V. and browsing Facebook. However, I have been convicted for a while that this time needs to be spent in a more productive manner.
I haven’t been where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there, because I haven’t been completely faithful to follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit in me. The less than public nature of these convictions and the consequences of ignoring them make them easier to ignore than David’s. But if I am honest the consequences are very real; a weakened relationship with God from wasting time that could have been spent communing with Him and from resisting the work of His Spirit within me. The consequences are also physical as time that could have and should have been spent sleeping is spent consuming mindless nonsense. Like David, these consequences also affect our relationships with others. We like to segment and isolate the various areas of our lives, but the reality is that we are wholistic. This wholistic nature means that when our spiritual relationship suffers it spills over and our interpersonal relationships suffer.
Much like David our lack of obedience has consequences far greater than we could ever imagine. Because of his sin David’s spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational life suffered.
Where has God been calling you?
Is there something in your life God is calling you away from temporarily? Permanently?
Personally, these thoughts over the past couple weeks have prompted me to step away from T.V. And social media for a period of time. I have sensed God calling me to deeper communion with Him, this cannot be done if I am not where I’m supposed to be, when I’m suppose to be there.
Do you see where your spiritual health might be suffering from not being where you’re supposed to be?
What about your physical life? How has this affected your relationship?
Do you care enough to change?
Are you willing to make the changes necessary to be where God is calling you to be, when He is calling you to be there?
Can you hear me now? That question has been burnt into my mind because of the Verizon commercials from a few years ago. Having someone walking around, what appeared to be all over the country, to see if someone could hear him or not, did get a little annoying, however it didn’t seem to matter where he went, people could hear him. To hear someone clearly is very beneficial to both the speaker and listener. If things aren’t communicated well things can get misinterpreted pretty easily…think drive up speaker at a fast food place.
One winter, my sister and I, were driving the 4-wheeler around in the snow. We would take turns as to who was driving while out in the field messing around. During one of those times I was taking over the driving as she was getting on and I asked, through the helmet and neck scarf, if she was ready and I thought she said “go.” Soon after taking off I quickly realized she was no longer on the 4-wheeler and had fallen off. She wasn’t very happy about it! You said “go”, I explained. She said…”I said NO, not go!”
As parents we know this all to well. Speaking clearly and simply is the best way to get whatever message to our kids. It doesn’t always work but if we don’t speak clearly, kids can hear something totally different. Each parent has a set of rules for their kids and those rules are talked about as well as enforced. We try to make them as clear as possible so the kids know what they are to do. We are quick to talk about the rules around the house and especially when we are in public. We talk, sometimes threaten, when we go places so they remember what to do and what not to do. We talk about these rules because we want our kids to be the best and most polite kids they can be. The rules that we set are usually pretty good. They help keep our children safe and out of trouble. But they aren’t the only commands we are to be reminding them about.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9 is a section of Scripture that has been with me for a long time…thank you mom and dad! I knew the rules of the house but I also knew God’s commands as well. God’s commands were always talked about, and talked about, and still talked about, so that I wouldn’t forget them. As parents we need to be taking advantage of every opportunity to teach them the commands of God so they don’t forget. If they question us why, which they will, we can repeat it over and over and then simply ask…Can you hear me now?
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life…These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6-9)
Yesterday during communion Dave shared a song with us. Here are the lyrics from that song entitled "Peace (a Communion blessing from St. Joseph's Square), written by David Strasser and Rich Mullins.
Though we're strangers, still I love you
We often hear people say there is no wrong way to pray. But, what if there was a wrong way to pray? What if our prayers go unanswered because of something we have control over?
We often dismiss “unanswered” prayer. But I think that many times the prayer is unanswered because of us.
Take a moment and read James 4:2-3
Did you see what James says, you don’t have because you don’t ask. “But I do ask!” you say. James goes on to explain that that prayer is unanswered because it is a prayer of selfishness. Think of the unanswered prayers you can remember, how many of them were selfishly prayed for you to indulge your passions? We must remember that God will not go against His character or law.
Now read Ephesians 5:25 & 1 Peter 3:7.
Did you catch that husband? Love your wife how? The way Christ loved the Church. Often when we think about how Christ loved the Church we think about how He was willing to sacrificially lay down His life for her. While this thought is accurate, there is more. Christ didn’t just love the Church so much that He died for her, He lived for her, every choice He made was for the good of the Church. Yes, He lived in obedience to glorify God the Father, who is most glorified through the fulfilling of His purposes for the Church. Think about it, for Jesus to die for us, He had to live a perfect life. Had He given into temptation He couldn’t have fulfilled His mission. When He resists temptation it is both to glorify God and for us.
Husband this is the way you are called to love your wife. This is relevant to pray because of what Peter writes. Read 1 Peter 3:7.
Do you realize that maybe your prayers are ineffective because you are not treating your wife as you should?
Finally, read James 5:13-16.
I have long been confronted by this passage. Aside from its very helpful teaching on prayer, and the following verses reminding us of the power of our prayer, the last statement of verse 16 convicts me. James says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” This leads me to ask if the opposite is also true. Could it accurately be stated that “The prayer of an unrighteous person is powerless and ineffective.”?
All of these are passages that have challenged me through the years, and continue to challenge me still. I’ll leave you with this charge from Donald Whitney, "But we must learn to examine our prayers. Are we asking for things that are outside the will of God or would not glorify him? Are we praying with selfish motives? Are we failing to deal with the kind of blatant sin that causes God to put all of our prayers on hold?”1
1 Whitney, Donald. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. pg 79
Blog posts from the Sterling staff, and maybe even the occasional guest blogger.