Good, Bad, Ugly

I find our first reading a bit difficult to work out and it is both BAD and UGLY

2 Samuel 21 (NIV & MSG)

Two separate events are described in a non chronogical way in that they occurred sometime earlier in David’s reign.

In 1-12 David has to deal with the Lord’s judgement (famine) against Israel for something that Saul had done. It wasn’t David’s fault at all but he was left to put things right according to the Lords call. Saul in his eagerness had tried to annihilate the Gibeonites after they had been given an oath this would not happen. David must make amends and so the Gibeonites ask for 7 of Saul’s descendants be put to death as recompense.Their bodies are publicly displayed and the rain comes, I assume to indicate that the famine the tool of God’s judgement is over. What do I get from this?…….I’m not sure! It is Bad and Ugly though.Human life did seem quite cheap and indiscriminate.

Sometimes, probably  often, I suppose we are called to fix up the result of the sin of other individuals and even nations. It’s no good saying “I had nothing to with it” The “Sorry” statement to our own aboriginal people is a case in point.Think the plights of refugees, manna guests, world vision children…..get the idea.

Also note that good old Mephibosheth gets blessed by David yet again as respect for Saul who was once the Lords anointed. He continues this by disposing of Saul and his son Jonathan’s bones in a respectful way.

In 15-22 We read of 4  battles where David and his men defeat their old enemies the Philistines and at times reminiscent of David’s first battle with Goliath.The Lord was still with him (the lamp of Israel) and his men.  

Now onto a much happier reading in 2 Corinthians 9 – (NIV & MSG)

I think this ties in pretty well with the wonderful news Ian announced yesterday with the full repayment of the FAC debt by everyone. I can hardly believe it!

In this reading I love Paul’s almost clumsiness in his writing. He says he has already boasted about their willingness to give generously and freely but now feels he has to remind them of this so in fact they do what they promised…..and he’s worried his boasting might come up hollow and he’ll look bad. How real does all this sound……I had to have a bit of a giggle really when he explains the logistics of making sure they follow through.

Paul then goes onto say something profound and universally true. God is the one who is fundamentally generous. He did not spare his son but gave Jesus generously to all.(vs14)

“God loves a cheerful giver” has unfortunately been quoted by many a preacher and somehow make us feel bad about our gift. Indeed it is more about our heart in giving than the gift itself. The heart matters more to God than the cash. As Ian more or less said a few weeks back “if your hearts not in this, then keep your money ” This principle too applies to all our giving, time, talents etc….I love the story of the widow’s offering  in Mark12:41-44.

It always comes down to the heart with God. If it didn’t then cash would be King.!

The prosperity preachers distort the promises of Gods blessing. Unfortunately I think many of us on the evangelical side of the argument (I’ve probably got a foot on both sides these days!) sometimes never really expect God to bless at all.

If blessing equates to money, business success, houses etc “blessing” seems very self indulgent.

Vs10 & 11 speak more of being blessed both materially and spiritually for the purposes of God i.e. to be a blessing to others according to His will.

For me generosity covers everything not just the material.

May we seek His kingdom all the more AND expect the blessing to follow

PS – Me on soapbox

I think generosity of spirit is lacking in many churches especially amongst men.We are very closed with each other.We don’t live open spacious lives. We are so guarded, so careful, afraid of saying the wrong thing……..so we say Nothing.

How I long for this to change.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Good, Bad, Ugly

  1. Thanks Al. I find the way you write very clear and enlightening.
    I thank God I live in a time and country where human life is not cheap as it was in David’s times. I often wonder how I would fare back in those times or in a country where Christians are persecuted now such as North Korea, a country where human life seems cheap today.
    As you say wherever we are or whenever we live, “it always comes down to the heart with God.” God blesses us all in different ways. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others as it can make us dissatisfied but just accept that God will give us all we need (Philippians 4:19) In that case we will have ‘prosperity’ but not always in material goods.
    Jesus never said He would make us all equal. Look at all our differences at FAC! But Jesus came to give each of us abundant life. (John 10:10)
    As you say, Al, “May we seek His kingdom all the more AND expect the blessing to follow.”
    This links with my reading this morning, “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. (Job 42:10)
    In “My Utmost For His Highest” June 20, Oswald Chambers writes;
    ‘If you are not receiving the ‘hundredfold’ that Jesus promised (see Matthew 19:29) and not getting insight into God’s word, then start praying for your friends -entering into the ministry of the inner life. “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.” As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer. Whatever circumstances God may place you in, always pray immediately that his atonement may be recognized and as fully understood in the lives of others as it is in yours. Pray for your friends now and pray for those with whom you come in contact now.”

  2. Thank you Al. As you come off your soap box you have been heard!! My thoughts went straight back to the Garden of Eden. Where we have what some scholars call,”The silence of Adam”. Remember Adam was right there beside Eve when she was being tempted. He didn’t say a word. Who knows what would have happened had he spoken up? But he kept his mouth shut!! I like what Morgan Freeman’s character in Bruce Almighty – he plays God – he says to Jim Carey (Bruce),” Be the change”.
    Each of us is seeking real fellowship. This is a natural desire of the Christians heart. Transparent relationships where there is no need to put on any type of front. Where we don’t fall into the trap of thinking that we need to impress anybody. Where we know and its known in our community that the ground is level at the cross. That he/she who is without sin cast the first stone. As people are loved and accepted just as they are this allows for this type of community to flourish. And this love that we show one another will be the very thing that God will use to build His church.

    Just be led by the Holy Spirit and as you be the example in all humility others are sure to follow. If they don’t, however, don’t hold this against them for we are all on very different journeys.

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