Nathan the Prophet

The word ‘prophet’ congers up many images to the modern mind.  Many years ago, I used to think of a prophet as the guy with a beard standing on the corner yelling “Repent!” Haven’t seen one of those guys in a while and my understanding of the ministry of a prophet has changed quite a bit.

Many people think that a prophet only foresees the future. A prophet speaks for God (present past or future). His job is to speak what God wants spoken to his people and warn people as to the consequences of their actions. An example is found in I Samuel 20. The people had rejected God and asked for a king. Samuel was charged by God to listen to them and then ‘protest solemnly’ (warn) by telling them the down sides of of having a king rule over them.

In my trek through the Old Testament I have gotten to know several prophets.  The first use of the word prophet comes in Genesis 20 referring to Abraham and it is an interesting story for it first use. Key words in that record are prayer, restoration, and healing (this is the first use of the word ‘healing’).  Abraham got into a serious situation because of fear. Prophets are not perfect. It is an interesting study to read.

During David’s reign, Nathan, the prophet, appeared on the scene. The name ‘Nathan’ means ‘a gift of God’.  Prophets are truly a gift in that they relate the truth from God’s heart. It is a loving ministry which genuinely looks after God’s people by listening to God.

In II Samuel 7 we read that David wanted  to build a house for God and at first Nathan told him to do what was on his heart.  As it turns out Nathan was speaking from his own thinking. That same day, God told Nathan to tell David that he would not be building the temple. Nathan went back to David and related God’s words to him. It was God who would make this decision and it was David’s son Solomon who built the house.

Nathan appears next in the famous record of David and Bathsheba. David had inappropriately exerted his power over a married woman and further complicated the matter in trying to solve his indiscretion by having her husband sent to the front lines of a battle where he was killed. Nathan was sent by God to confront David. He didn’t yell at him to “repent”. He told him a story about a single lamb belonging to a traveler that was slaughtered by a wealthy livestock owner to illustrate God’s heart on the matter and David woke up as to what he had done. David recognized his own untoward actions and repented. Psalm 51 shows his heart in his recognizing his sin and that of going to God for help to heal him and restore him:

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51

David eventually married Bathsheba and they had more children, two of which appear in the genealogies  in Matthew and Luke.  Bathsheba (as wife of Urias) herself, is listed in the Matthew genealogy (one of four women listed) and is part of the Christ line genealogy.

Nathan appears again at the death of David to help protect Bathsheba and her children and to make sure the right descendant of David inherited the throne.

Prophets don’t have X-Ray vision, they have God vision. Nathan didn’t read David’s mind as he was trying to clear up his mess and making more of a mess. At that point maybe david would not have listened. He went to David to get him to see what he had done. Prophets don’t see right through you. They hear from God and then act. It is a very loving ministry because what’s right comes from God’s heart.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Bible

The Lesson of Kudzu

When I went to visit my parents in South Carolina, I noticed a strange vine growing up and over the tops of trees, houses, fences and anything else it could grow on top of. My Dad who knew a lot about botany, told me it was a plant called Kudzu that came from Japan and had been planted in areas that had trouble with erosion. It has been planted along the roadways throughout the south. It was a nice idea but there are noxious types of Kudzu that invades and  overpowers everything quickly. Kudzu is very oppressive stuff!  It steals the light of the sun from everything! It destroys everything it it path. I saw many broken down shacks where it had grown over the tops of, covered and destroyed.

The thing is that Kudzu seemed like a good idea to solve a problem and make agricultural work easier, but it is a monster in disguise, a wolf in sheep’s clothing!  Many, many things in life are like the Kudzu plant. I often have had grand ideas to do something that seem so perfect and when all was said and done, they turned into dragging doldrums.

So much in this world is full of hype! So many things and ideas are pushed at us. We fall prey to the latest rage, fads and the desire to be ‘with it’!  The outtake many times on following what goes on around us and not our heart, in the end, oppresses us. All that we experience in life can be evaluated by the peace in our heart.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:17

The mind in the above verse is the intellect. Understanding is what we do with our minds.  God’s peace goes way above and beyond all that we think. Sometimes our minds seem so over-jammed  with what we perceive is going on around us and what we have to do, it is hard to get up and out from under all that pressure.  We just have to let go  and let God’s peace get us up. That is when we become ready to rock and roll!

The peace of God is so real.  We don’t just act peaceful, doing peaceful things, we are inwardly peaceful. God loves us even in our scrambled yucky moments.  He doesn’t want anything stealing the light  of his son away from us or have anything overpower us. He wants us to live free. Sometimes we just need to chill and let God’s light warm us and let him guard us from something overshadowing our peacefulness!

1 Comment

Filed under Bible

Coming Face To Face With Jesus Christ

The apostle Paul did a 180° turn in the course of his life. He met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.The meeting utterly changed him. The strong, bold confrontational Saul was transformed. He had been the Hebrew of the Hebrews, learned in the scriptures of the Old Testament and a rising religious star. In a moment of time, he realized he had been so wrong. Out of his imperfection, God brought him true righteousness. He became a follower of God’s son.

The birth of Christ happens over and over again in individual people’s lives, It is not confined to a day.  Amidst all the hoopla and whirl of the world, there is a message to be reminded of as to what Jesus Christ means to anyones life. Jesus Christ life brings us to the true peace that can only come from God. God’s perfect love is manifested in his son to also draw others to Him.

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Believing

Ephesians 3:20 is a super-charged verse!

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20

Our minds are limited.  God’s thinking is not! Believing is really not something we push our minds harder and harder to gain.  Believing is trust; it is loving God and knowing that he is with us through the spirit. The grace of believing is that it is ours, to be confident that God can go way farther than our limited expectations. He is bigger than our minds; he is bigger than our works.

Believing is based on love. You just have to know how much God loves you.  ‘Power working in us’ is energized by His love. In reality, the more I soak my head in the word especially on the topic of love, the more I can believe. I want that energy from God.  It changes the way I perceive what’s going on around me. I can love so much better when I am tapped into God’s love. True peace is the natural  result for all involved.

There was a time in my life that I worked so hard to please God.  It took growth and understanding to see how futile that was. When we love God, we let him work. We listen and allow him to inspire us and then carry out what he puts on our heart to do.  Keeping the trustful peace and guarding it like a great treasure is our goal.  Stress, pressure and achievement are not part of the formula.  God’s ability is involved and that’s a no brainer. However, we live in a world where there are forces that deny God and his love. Just as in the beginning, in the garden of Eden, the opposition to God constantly calls to question the existence of God and his promises.  God’s willingness is just as real as the evidence that exists for God’s ability.  God’s willingness is seen throughout the Old and New Testaments!

1 Comment

Filed under Bible

I Can Do All Things

There are millions of memes found throughout the pages of FaceBook. A meme to FaceBook users is like a ‘quotable quote’,  a seemingly wise saying that brings a quick point of inspiration to our minds. It is a good idea to think about the thought each one is transmitting. Is is really based on God’s Word which will bring the effective results or is it like candy filled with sugar that seems sweet but actually promotes thinking that is empty.

As I continued to study the Word, I’m pretty sure I made memes out of key verses of the Bible. The context surrounding key verses should never be taken lightly when anyone quotes a singular verse. The context can change the whole meaning of a verse.   Philippians 4:13 is a good example.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

It’s a magnificent verse, but it can be taken the wrong way that a believer can do anything he wants and God will empower him. When we lift verses out of context, we have to be careful.  This verse can sound like we can accomplish anything because we have Christ in us.  If we read verse 13, we need to look at the verses leading up to it.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4: 10-12

Paul made the point that that it is ‘whatsoever state’ a believer finds himself that he can be content. It is interesting that both sides are shown, abasing AND abounding, being full AND being hungry, abound AND suffer need. Both sides show learning, knowing how and instruction.

The greatest thing  a person can learn is to trust God in any situation. Contentment is a pretty low commodity in today’s world.  We are always in a fight to root out seeds of discontentment in response to negative things that present themselves. Not only do negative things impact us but prosperity can  also affect us in the wrong way. We are challenged  in both directions. It is through the risen Christ we find true contentment in dealing with life and keeping our minds balanced.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible

Discerning of Spirits

When some people hear the phrase ‘discerning of spirits’, it congers up a dark sinister image in their minds.  They might think of horns and pitchforks.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The fruit that is produced by the proper use of this unique function of the gift of holy spirit in our lives brings peace to our minds.  A person who loves God has power, love and a sound mind because of the enablements God has given through holy spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering (long fuse), gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

God wants to help us separate good from evil. Of course he does! He does this by impressing information about any situation on our spirits. He does it to protect us.  At some point God may show us clearly to take a stand against evil. Sometimes we can’t do anything about it so then God can show us how to navigate the problem which may include staying away from it. Either way it produces nice juicy fruit in our lives because it settles our hearts.

The whole purpose of ‘discerning of spirits’ is to help ourselves and others. It is not thinking evil.  It is important to separate good and evil. Often evil disguises itself as good.  We can be deceived very easily when presented with something that seems like such a good thing. In the world and culture we live in today, it sometimes can be hard to distinguish between those things that that richly bless our lives and those things that subtract from our peace.

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

Isaiah call this deception a”woe”. The Bible says we are not to be ignorant of how evil works. God wants us to be free of evil, frustration and woe. The woe is not punishment, it is a result. God wants the best for us.

How a person reacts to information of the presence of evil involves staying quiet, peaceful and waiting on God as to the wisdom in what to do about the situation. In the records involving David, there are very clear examples how God helped him walk through evil and chaos. At times he had to watch his own life and thinking:

3 Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips 4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties. Psalm 141:3-4

We have the same responsibility. We don’t want to be lured into and fall prey to the vain and false reasonings that might pop up in our day to day living:

9 Let love be without dissimulation (hypocrisy). Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Romans 12:8

1 Comment

Filed under Bible

Replacing Fear

Recently I got very wrapped up with studying the ‘superscriptions’ and ‘subscriptions’ of Psalms in an effort to tie the records of David in Psalms to the books of Samuel and Chronicles. The books of Samuel record events from a human standpoint and Chronicles may cover the the same event with a different perspective, God’s point of view. I got a little sidetracked by theological arguments about miss-placements of  these subscripts. Research is very theological at times and can be very distracting by keeping things too cerebral. It is the heart of God that stirs our spirit not our cerebral cortex.

As I continue to read about the great David in the Old Testament, the more I see him as a person.  His life was very real and his heart, thinking, emotions, missteps and huge victories are fully made plain. The Bible really lets us into his heart not in a religious, pious way, but with an authentic window to clearly get to know him. Yes, he was the slingshot man, a warrior, a leader, and a king, but there is so much more in the word about him as a man and his heart for God. His life can inspire our own heart.

As I was looking at Psalms, I stumbled on a gold nugget in Psalm 34:4

 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from almy fears.

David dealt with fear! It says he  got relief from “all” his fears. That is a big statement! “All” means all and indicates a plurality of fearful thoughts. We all have to deal with the bombardment of fearful thoughts on our brain cells. No one is exempt from this.  It is life. If the great David had to deal with it, so do we. The great apostle Paul had to deal with fear and certainly Jesus Christ, God’s own son had to deal with it! How did they all deal with it? They sought God.

The same can be true for us. God is not a God of fear. He makes it quite plain throughout the word of God that he can and will deliver us from “all” fear.

7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7

Instead, he gives us three doors to choose from: the right kind of power, the right kind of love, and a sound (rock solid) mind! Not only does he give us these three doors, but he gives us the choice of choosing all three! There is no mountain too high, or Goliath too tall, or darkness too thick, or chaos too confusing, that these great verses can’t send packing in a instant.

Fear (Old English for respect and awe of God) replaces fear! 😊 We have so much to be thankful for!

2 Comments

Filed under Bible