April 3

2 Samuel 22-24, Psalm 93

Though many like to call the United States of America a Christian nation, due to our roots and the stance of many of the Founding Fathers, for many years this has not been the case. Just because if polled the majority of our nation would list Christian as their denomination does not make our nation a Christian nation. People vote for their elected officials for a multitude of reasons: it is the party their family has always voted for, everyone in their particular union votes that way, it would benefit them economically, etc. The problem with our nation in general for many years is that our nation's leaders make decisions in the fear of the voters, choosing those options which give them the best chance of re-election. Our career politicians on both sides of the political aisle seek everything that must be done to continue their political career. In our nation, little is done to please, or in consideration of God. Until we find men and women who will choose to run our nation in the fear of God, rather than the fear of man, corruption will continue as our nation continues to spiral downward.

When people recall the life of David, as is the case with many individuals, his flaws are frequently highlighted: his adultery, his murder of Uriah, his inability to control his family. But this highlights the flaw in human thinking, because God saw David as a man after His heart and truly a great leader. When David writes the Psalm of praise in 2 Samuel 22, notice, especially in the first fourteen verses, how little he references himself, instead calling all attention to focus on God. Notice his words in 2 Samuel 23:3, "The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God." When Jesus was asked by the lawyer which is the greatest commandment, he responded in Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,and with all your mind." David followed that. A little later in today's reading, David recants the story of his three mighty men who risked their lives to get him some water from his hometown of Bethlehem, only to pour the water out on the ground as an offering to God, in 2 Samuel 23:15-17. We read in 2 Samuel 24:17, after the plague struck as a result of his sin of taking the census, "Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, "Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house." Besides placing God first, he placed others next. In Jesus' same response to the lawyer above, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 22:38-39, "This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'."

When we consider the life of David, despite his falls, he truly exemplified the man after God's own heart who fulfilled those commandments that our Lord and Savior elevated above all others. When we reflect on our own lives of prayer and worship, is it focused on God and His awesomeness, or is it focused on ourselves and what we want, and how we respond? So much of our worship centers less on Almighty God and more on what we will do in response to God's place in our lives. So much of our prayers focus on a list of petitions for ourselves and others and our needs, and not the object of our worship and the only One who is able to answer our prayers. A couple of years ago I went to a concert which featured headliners: Francesca Battistelli, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc playing their music in front of movie footage of the movie, "Son of God". Different to many other concerts that featured the performers, these Christian artists moved to the side of the stage when performing to highlight the main attraction, Jesus. In terms of others, we would do well to remember the words of Paul in Philippians 2:3-4, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster