Scripture: 2 Samuel 14:28 So Absalom (King David’s son) lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab to send him to the king… (Absalom said to Joab) Now let me go into the king’s presence; if there is guilt in me, let him kill me!” 33 Then Joab went to the king and told him; and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Absalom.

Observation: King David’s family was a mess – as are many families. Stay with me here because this can be a bit confusing. David’s oldest son Amnon had raped his own half sister Tamar (same father, different mother). Amnon’s half brother Absalom took revenge for his sister and killed Amnon. He then fled to another city to save his life. King David was ok with letting Absalom remain in exile, but then relented and allowed Absalom to return to Jerusalem after two years. In this passage David received Absalom back into his royal court.

Application: Forgiveness is hard, especially when someone hurts you in a big way. It took David two years to forgive his son Absalom. And, if you read the whole story, David did so reluctantly. Nevertheless, after two years of pain and loss, the family was restored. It’s our human nature to carry grudges. We have been wronged and feel justified in our anger. Yet the gospel of Jesus Christ not only provides for the forgiveness of our own sins, it requires us to forgive others.

Question for today: Where might you be withholding forgiveness?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgiveness is such a simple thing, but it’s also hard. When we are offended or aggrieved we want payback. Yet when we receive your grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, you call us to return the favor toward others. Give us grace today to be more like you. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Embracing guard rails…



Scripture: John 8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Observation: The passage tells us that when we know Jesus we are not only forgiven of our sins, we are empowered to let go of destructive ways of living. Our secular culture suggests freedom is doing what you want, when you want, how you want – Jesus tells us the truth. Life with no boundaries sounds cool, but it’s not. Without boundaries and limits on life, we usually end up in a ditch of some kind.

Application: Growing up can be hard. In my first few years of living on my own, out from under my parent’s roof, I went a little crazy. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. It didn’t go very well. Turns out that eating Fruit Loops three times a day will make you sick. Staying up all night might be fun, but is not conducive to learning in class the next day. Blowing your rent money on a night out with the boys can get you in trouble. The list goes on. Then the Lord Jesus pulled me out of a ditch and showed me a different way of life.

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Some of you are in a bit of a ditch right now – relationally, financially, spiritually, physically. You’ve tried doing things your way, but it’s not really working. Trust me, I’ve been there. And I don’t mean a long time ago either. I still get out of my lane from time to time. But the good news of Jesus is that he’s always ready to embrace us when we return to him. Freedom within the boundaries of life in Christ is true freedom dear friends.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, this morning we cry out to you from the ditch. Give us grace to return to embrace the guard rails of life, that we might be free indeed. Amen.


Ears to hear…



Scripture: John 8:25 (The religious authorities said to Jesus) “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? 26 I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Observation: As was often the case, Jesus was speaking in riddles of sorts. He said, “…the one who sent me is true” but doesn’t say explicitly who sent him. He said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he…” but doesn’t explain what he means by this. Because of this, the religious authorities don’t understand him, yet many of the common people do. They have been given ears to hear and understand what Jesus was saying.

Application: One of the greatest barriers to people reading the bible on a consistent basis is the difficulty in understanding scripture. The language used and the cultural references are foreign to most of us. Maybe you’ve experienced that frustration. Wouldn’t it be nice to have “ears to hear” what scripture is saying? Three things that can help a great deal.

First, the more you read the bible, the better you will get at understanding it. This is especially true if you follow a reading plan that takes you through the entire bible, not just parts here and there. The ENTIRE bible. May take  you a couple of years to do it, but you’ll never regret it. I personally follow the Moravian Daily Texts which can be found here

Secondly, I recommend finding a good bible “commentary”. A commentary supplements your reading of scripture by giving you background and explanations of what you’re reading. I like electronic commentaries because they’re easily searchable. I personally get my bible resources at Yes, it will require a financial investment as their resources are not free, but they are the best available in my opinion.

Finally, ask the Lord for grace to understand the scriptures. Frankly, this is the most important of the three recommendations here. I can assure you, this is the sort of request to which our heavenly Father is eager to respond.

Prayer: Gracious God, we want to be more like those who heard Jesus’ words and understood him, but often we’re more like the religious authorities who didn’t get it. Open the ears of our spirits to not only comprehend you word, but obey your word as well. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

A woman caught in adultery…



Scripture: John 7:while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Observation: Jesus did two important things in his interaction with the woman. First, he did not avoid the fact she had sinned, nor did she deny it. Recognizing the truth revealed a humility in the woman akin to repentance. Secondly, Jesus had great mercy upon her. He gave her a second chance.

Application: Sometimes we are the ones who need a second chance since we all make mistakes. Sometimes we are the ones who can extend mercy and grace to others. Neither of these is necessarily easy. I’m reminded this morning of Jesus words in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us grace to have the humility of the woman caught in adultery, as well as the mercy to forgive others when they make mistakes. For when we do these things, we are embracing the Kingdom of God. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

God of violence and death?



Scripture: 2 Samuel 8:1 Some time afterward, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines. He also defeated the Moabites and, making them lie down on the ground, measured them off with a cord; he measured two lengths of cord for those who were to be put to death, and one length for those who were to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute. David also struck down King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah, as he went to restore his monument at the river Euphrates…When the Arameans of Damascus came to help King Hadadezer of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand men of the Arameans. Then David put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus; and the Arameans became servants to David and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.

Observation: Many years before David came along, Joshua and successive Jewish leaders began the occupation of the Promised Land. Here David finishes the job. As the passage says, “the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went”. Yet as I read this passage I can’t help but think how brutal this campaign was. It was the textbook definition of “genocide”.

Application: This is a disturbing passage when you consider the violence and death it portrays.In the OT, God is not God for all people, but for the Jewish people. God takes sides. How does a passage as brutal as this one square with our modern theology that says “God is love”? Where is the inclusiveness of the New Testament found in this Old Testament book? I don’t know.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, again you confuse me. We often say that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yet this passage, and many others like it, seem to challenge this idea. Give us grace to better understand who you really are, whether we like the answers or not. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

War room mentality…



Scripture: Psalm 119: 23 Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. 24 Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors.

Observation: King David had  powerful enemies – from within and without his kingdom. As he says in v.23 “princes sit plotting against me”. This is not a surprise as there were always those seeking to usurp the throne. What is surprising is how David chose to respond to plotting enemies. Instead of plotting his own elaborate defense, he meditated on the decrees of God. He worshipped. And prayed. And meditated on the Word of God… while his enemies schemed. David realized that it was God the Father who had given him the throne in the first place. Therefore, those who plotted against David weren’t really plotting against a human king at all, but against God himself. As such, they were bound to fail.

Application: I marvel at the incredible faith David illustrates for us in this psalm, and I’m trying to learn to be more like him. Being a leader is hard. Whether at home, at work, at school, even in the church – being a leader often makes us a target. There are those who will second-guess your decisions, question your competence, sabotage your plans. Some will even seek to replace you if they can. And perhaps worst of all, they will often scheme in secret – undermining you behind your back rather than to your face.

Some of you are dealing with this sort of thing right now. I know the feeling.

Today the psalmist reminds us how we might respond to threats on our leadership. Rather than scheme and plot a defense, we can turn to the Lord – and depend on him to do two things:

  1. Show us areas where we need to improve. Let’s face it, some complaints are legitimate. Even great leaders make mistakes from time to time. Seeking the Lord in prayer and in the Word puts us in a posture of humility, where we can hear constructive criticism learn from our mistakes.
  2. Defend us against those who wrongly accuse us and plot against us. If we are serving at the Lord’s pleasure, then those who oppose us aren’t opposing us at all. They are opposing the Lord.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as leaders we often come under attack in ways large and small. And when this happens, it’s tempting to take on a war room mentality – defending ourselves and plotting our defense. Give us grace today to trust you first and foremost to be our protector from those who would seek to harm us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Family feud…



Scripture: 2 Samuel 6:16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul (one of David’s wives) looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

Observation: Saul was the king who was removed by God and replaced by David. Michal was Saul’s daughter, as is noted each time the author speaks of Michal. It would be understandable she would have some resentment of David. We know that Michal was first married to someone else, but was taken from her first husband and given to David as wife. Perhaps she still loved her first husband. It could also be she thought his exuberant worship of God was too undignified for a king, which reflected poorly on her. Whatever the reason, it’s clear there was trouble in David’s household.

Application: Families are complicated things under the best of circumstances. I’ve recently had occasion to be present with several families dealing with illness or even death of a family member. As you can imagine, these families were under some stress and strain. And when a family is under stress, the conflicts and dysfunctions that are usually pushed into the background tend to come to the fore. Old arguments are aired. Betrayals and disappointments are rehashed. Decades of history can make simple decisions and conversations tremendously difficult, even traumatizing. And, believe me, my own family is not excluded from this phenomenon. I know it all too well.

Some of you may be experiencing this sort of thing right now. Your family could be in a time of stress and anxiety for any number of reasons – and your family is hard to deal with. In such times we tend to imagine that other families aren’t like this, that our families are uniquely dysfunctional. I’m afraid not. Every family has issues, some perhaps more than others. Even King David knew this sort of thing.

If this is your family right now, cut yourself and your family members a little slack. Stress and anxieties tend to bring out the worst in people, so you’re not likely seeing your loved ones at their best. And, by the way, they’re probably not seeing you at your best. Just sayin’…

Prayer: Lord, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, families are complicated things. Yet we need them. They give us history. They give us an identity. And they, at times, drive us crazy. Help those of us who are dealing with difficult family situations. Remind us that you love families, even dysfunctional ones. Especially dysfunctional ones. Give us grace to be persons of peace in the midst of fear and anxiety. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.