Monday, September 25, 2023

King David shows grace to his Enemies

Mourning and celebrating, have you ever felt happy, but sad at the same time? Has a moment of excitement or joy suddenly become sad for you? Or perhaps a moment of sorrow turned into a moment of joy?

The rebellion of Absalom has been defeated. King David’s troops fought bravely in the battle in the forest of Ephraim, and they emerged victorious. But in the midst of the fighting, Absalom, David’s own son was killed. Joab knew the order, that Absalom was to be spared but, he killed Absalom anyway. 

King David has been I'm sure on a rollercoaster of different emotions, fear, worry, excitement, victory, and so on. But now, it turns to sorrow. So while David’s troops are celebrating, David is devastated. Joab the leader of David’s troops finds out about this and is not happy.

We see it says in 2nd Samuel 19:1-4, “ Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

David mourns for his son, even though his son had led a rebellion against him. David loved one who was his enemy. That’s the same with Jesus Christ our messiah. He loved us while we were his enemies. He loved us while we were sinners. David has a love even for those who despised him.

Meanwhile Joab is very angry with David. He sees the troops ashamed and hiding themselves even though they’ve just won a great victory. So Joab comes and rips into David.

It says in verses 5-7: "Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”

Joab actually threatens to lead a rebellion against David, if David doesn’t go out and greet the troops.

He mentions how he will make it worse for him than all the calamities he’s faced in his life so far. And we know after going through 1st and 2nd Samuel that David has been through a lot in his life. I’m sure that’s true for many of you as well. You’ve been through a lot. And it’s affected you. But God was with you through all of it, and he guided you as you sought after him.

So the king goes out. It says in verse 8: "So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.”

King David does go out to greet the troops as Joab requested. He wants to show his support for the soldiers who fought on his side. But I'm sure he's simply torn with emotions. He's proud of his soldiers and how bravely they fought in the battle of the forest of Ephraim. But he's also crushed and freshly grieving the death of his son. 

There have been many times in my life where I've been torn by opposing emotions in my heart. I'm sure you've felt that way too. And these events in David's life reminds me that God knows and cares when we are in incredible sorrow. God understands it, because God himself has gone through it. God has seen his people rebel against him, starting with Adam and Eve. And I'm sure God is greatly grieved by all this. 

Yet I'm sure he's very excited to see the many millions who have turned to Christ for salvation, and been adopted into His family. But at the same time, so many reject Him. I can only imagine the kind of mixed emotions the Lord almighty must have in His heart. Which tells me that God knows, understands and is able to encourage us who go through crazy emotional messes in our lives. 

In verses 9-10 we see the people of Israel in turmoil across the country arguing and debating in the marketplaces and in their homes, wondering, should we ask David to be our king again? 

It says, "Throughout the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country to escape from Absalom; and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?” (v. 9-10).

The rest of Israel is trying to figure out what to do next. Absalom is dead. So they think, well, we better rejoin under David’s leadership. But no one is taking the lead to move forward and do that. They just keep talking about it, arguing about it.

David isn't concerned yet with the northern tribes of Israel who are debating back and forth. He's first going to speak to the tribe of Judah, his own home tribe, in the south.   

Next, verses 11-15: "King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: “Ask the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?’ And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my own flesh and blood? May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you are not the commander of my army for life in place of Joab.’”

He won over the hearts of the men of Judah so that they were all of one mind. They sent word to the king, “Return, you and all your men.” Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan."

In verses 11-15 we see David regaining the tribe of Judah, who joins up with him once again. It's fascinating that David actually has to go to them. They don't come to him first. David is so incredibly humble he gathers them back to himself. They should've come to him, on their knees, begging for forgiveness for joining Absalom. But instead David goes to them! 

Then in verses 15-20: "Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished.

When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.”

Shimei is the one who was shouting at King David and throwing rocks at him and cursing him when he was fleeing Jerusalem.

And David’s advisors tell him in verse 21: Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the Lord’s anointed.”

This was a very serious offense in the ancient world, to curse the King and throw rocks at him, you could be put to death for that. Frankly, even in our modern world, if someone were cursing at the president of the USA, throwing rocks at him, he’d be taken down by secret service, and I’m sure in court they’d throw the book at him. He’d probably end up in prison for a few years at least. 

But notice that Shimei is repentant. He falls prostrate before King David and admits that he sinned against him. Shimei asks that his sins not be looked upon anymore. And Shimei is repentant in his timing as well. He comes early. He comes before any other other tribes have rejoined David. An act of loyalty and repentance in a moment like that can be a powerful display. 

This is essentially true repentance. It's meaningful repentance. You know you're 100% in the wrong. You ask forgiveness for your sin humbly, you turn away from it, and change your behavior to be the opposite of your sin. You join with the one you had sinned against, instead of rebelling against him.

Shimei deserves to be punished, to be executed, but, he is seeking forgiveness in a heartfelt and genuine way. It's real. It's from his heart.

But David's advisors suggest that Shimei be executed. 

Here is the King’s response: (verses 22-23) David replied, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel?” So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king promised him on oath.”

Shimei is pardoned, and he is told he will not die. He will live. That’s what happens when we receive Jesus Christ as savior, and ask God to forgive our sins. We receive pardon, and fellowship. And God makes us part of his family again. It’s wonderful. But just like Shimei, it has to come from the heart. And it has to be married with repentance, with a real turning from past sins and toward the one offended. That's why we "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Belief is joined with repentance, a turning away from past wrong behaviors and toward purity in Christ, knowing we're guilty, but embracing a new way, as we believe Christ can in fact provide it for us. 

So in conclusion, we're seeing the aftermath of the rebellion of Absalom. And we're seeing a divide between the north and south of Israel. But we're seeing the grace and mercy of King David that is also going to bring a lot of healing to the nation. 

It's a great reminder that God gives us grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, and therefore we need to show grace and mercy and forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Live that out today! God bless you. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Jesus questioned about paying Taxes

In the year 2022, according to the CBO, the United States government raised 4.9 trillion dollars in tax income. About half came from individual income taxes. It’s a massive amount of money that we’re talking about, but despite that, the U.S. government is currently 33.1 trillion dollars in debt, due to excessive spending, which has led to inflation, which hurts the poorest income earners the worst.

So knowing that the U.S. government apparently is somewhat reckless in how it spends money, should we still pay our taxes faithfully? Or should we try to get around our taxes? Or maybe we should cheat just a little bit on our taxes? Let’s consider that topic today, as we look at the words of Jesus around this topic of paying taxes to the government authorities.

We’re also going to look at a question raised about marriage, and what life will be like in heaven. So we’re going to look today at human government, and the heavenly government.

Today we’re looking at Mark 12:13-27, and we’re seeing Jesus at the pinnacle of his ministry. He is in Jerusalem, capital of Israel, capital of planet Earth, if you really think about it, and he’s dealing directly with the most powerful groups in the nation, the Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders, the Herodians, the Sadducees, Jesus is dealing directly with the social elites, and at that the same time he’s teaching his disciples, and the crowds. He’s bringing the word of God to every segment of society, from the poorest blue collar workers, to the most powerful elites.

During this time in Jerusalem we keep seeing the elites attempting to ask Jesus questions to cause him to trip himself up. It reminds me of how the news media will often ask questions to politicians in Washington D.C. with the hope of getting them to say something that will harm them. They don’t really want an answer to their question, they are simply trying to trip up the speaker, and get them to say something that will get them cancelled by the public. It’s a nasty game in politics and power, and we see the same happening to Jesus.

In verses 13-14 we see a group of elites approach Jesus hoping to cause him harm. Here is what it says, “Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

Here is what they are hoping, they are thinking, if Jesus says “yes you should pay taxes” then the people will turn against him because the people hate the oppressive taxes of the Roman empire. And if Jesus says “no you shouldn’t” then they can tell the romans that Jesus is telling people not to pay taxes, so they can have Jesus arrested. They are trying to trap Jesus in his words.

It reminds me of Christian pastors who are interviewed by the news media. The first question the news media always asks is, “Do you support gay marriage?” Why do they ask that? Because, if the pastor says yes, they’ve gotten the pastor to go against the Bible. If they say no, then the pastor can easily be labeled as a bigoted hater, and someone no one should listen to. It’s all about cornering the person in their words.

But Jesus is too smart for this little game they are playing with him.

It says in verses 15-16: But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.”

Jesus knew they were trying to trap him in his words. Why are you trying to trap me? He asked them. So he takes a coin, and the coin has a picture of Caesar on it.

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.

Many people even today I think don’t like the answer that Jesus gave. Because it commits us to paying taxes faithfully and being honest citizens of the nation where we live.

But what about the fact that the government often wastes money?

According to the Heritage Foundation, here are some ways tax payer funds are wasted in the U.S. Government:

1. Federal agencies are delinquent on nearly 20 percent of employee travel charge cards, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.[9]

2. The Securities and Exchange Commission spent $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.[10]

3. The Pentagon recently spent $998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida.[11]

4. Over half of all farm subsidies go to commercial farms, which report average household incomes of $200,000.[12]

5. Health care fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $60 billion annually.[13]

6. A GAO audit found that 95 Pentagon weapons systems suffered from a combined $295 billion in cost overruns.[14]

7. The refusal of many federal employees to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 million annually in flight upgrades.[15]

But, does that matter when we consider if we should pay our taxes? The answer is no. It does not matter. Even if I paid my taxes and the U.S. government took the money, and set it on fire in front of me, it wouldn’t matter, it’s still my job to pay my taxes faithfully.

If I give a homeless person five dollars, does it matter what he or she spends it on? If they spend it on food, great, if they buy a bottle with it, it doesn’t matter. What God looks at is my heart in the matter. I gave with a heart of love and in faith, and what the man does with the money is his responsibility.

It’s the same with government. My job is to pay my taxes faithfully. What the government does with it, that’s between our leaders and God. And rest assured that God will hold our leaders accountable for how they spend our tax money.

But what if I did cheat on my taxes? Lied on the forms? Well, I’ve now sinned by lying and by stealing.

And I’ll tell you in the past, I’ve been tempted to want to cheat on my taxes. To fudge the numbers a little bit. But I don’t do that anymore. I know that it’s my responsibility before God to be honest in how I use my money.

This doesn’t just apply to paying taxes. It applies to how we use our money in general. We should be tithing at least 10% to our local church. Otherwise we’re stealing from God by not giving those tithes and offerings unto the Lord. We should also support other charities as we feel led to by God. We should also help others with money in general, with food, with clothing, with time, and so on and so forth.

A.W. Tozer reminds us: "Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that you can take two small ten-cent pieces, just two dimes, and shut out the view of a panoramic landscape. Go to the mountains and just hold two coins closely in front of your eyes--the mountains are still there, but you cannot see them at all because there is a dime shutting off the vision in each eye."

It doesn't take large quantities of money to come between us and God; just a little, placed in the wrong position, will effectively obscure our view." -Cedric Gowler.

If you want to make sure that money never has a foothold in your heart, then commit to tithe 10% to your local church, and to give another 5-10% to other charities and those in need. When you give your first fruits to God, you ensure that money will never control you.

So OK, we find that placed properly now. Resist the temptation to cheat. Also understand that if you make some money on the side, it’s probably not a big deal either, but if it’s large amounts of money, well, we should be prayerful. We should seek God. We should also know the law and how it all fits together in the rule books for our country. But simply be honest, and do obey the tax laws.

But there’s a second issue here, and we see that we should pay our taxes to our government, but we should make sure our heart belongs to God.

Jesus said, “Give to God what belongs to God.” What belongs to God? We do. Our heart does. Keep God first in your heart. Have no idols before him. Money can be an idol. But many other things can be as well.

Secondarily today, we see another group of elites approach Jesus to ask him a question. A group called the Sadducees confront Jesus.

And I think the Sadducees are again not genuine in wanting to know the answer. The Sadducees did not believe that humans would live after death. They thought you simply die and then that’s it. No heaven, no hell, just nothing, a blank screen. You no longer exist. I think they're trying to prove a point here with this scenario they bring up to Jesus.

Let’s take a look, verses 18-23: “Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

We see the scenario here, a woman is married to seven different men, in a good way, because the men she was married to kept dying. All seven men die one after another, and then she dies.

And they ask, at the resurrection, (they don’t believe in any resurrection) who will she be married to?

This reminds me of the scenario atheists will bring up to me, “Who made God?” Well, you don’t believe in God at all, so why are you asking me who made God? The Sadducees don’t believe in an afterlife but they’re asking Jesus who this woman would be married to in the afterlife.

I get the feeling they are just trying to make the point that there is no after life. But of course they are wrong.

Then we see Jesus’ reply in verses 24-27: "Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

In verse 24 they’ve made two errors: They don’t understand the scriptures properly, and they don’t understand God’s power.

In verse 25, it says, "when the dead rise", so Jesus affirms that the dead will not stay dead, they will rise to life after death.

And Jesus continues and says that in the after life, men and women will not be married, they will not be making love and having children, they will instead be similar to angels.

Now I think it’s still valid to say that in the after life, people who were married will most likely live in the same mansion in heaven. They are companions I’m sure after death, for all time. Then again, we don’t know exactly what that will look like in paradise.

Then Jesus quotes from the book of Exodus, which he calls the book of Moses, so Jesus affirms that Moses did in fact write the Torah, which is fascinating. But he quotes what God the Father said from the burning bush, that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And I think Jesus was saying, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even at the time of the burning bush, were alive, they were alive with God in heaven. Period. Because God is the God of the living, not the dead. And if we endure to the end, one day we will meet them face to face and talk with them!

So we see today the values of two kingdoms, the kingdom of men, and the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of men charges us taxes of various kinds, and we should pay them without deceit or trickery. We should also pay our tithes and offerings unto the Lord and provide for the needs of his people.

But in the end, our goal is to join the kingdom of God, in heaven, a place of the living, not the dead. Our heart should be first for the kingdom of God, not for the kingdom of men. But we should be faithful examples of God’s truth and honesty and faithfulness in this world. And then people will be drawn to partake of the kingdom of God, and put God first in their lives.

But let me leave you with this: Don’t let money get between you and God.

"Money will buy a bed but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness; religion but not salvation; a passport to everywhere but heaven." -The Voice In the Wilderness, quoted in Discipleship Journal, Issue 53, 1989, p. 21.

Submit your finances to God, and they will never control you or become your master! That’s not easy. I get that. But pray. Ask God for help. He will help you. And you’ll honor him with your money. Then your heart will be ready for the kingdom of God, with God first in your heart, sovereign and in total control. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Jesus' authority Questioned: Who has Authority over your Life?

"In U.S. Navel Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow."
"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.
The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: 'We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."
The captain said, "Send: "I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"
"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply. "You had better change course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course."
-Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 153.

Who has authority over you in your life? There are various authorities in our lives, government, state, local, family, church, friends, and so on.

Sometimes we think our authority is ourselves. I can do what I want to do, and no one can stop me. Maybe a bit like the captain of the battleship, he’s insisting the other ship move. But when he finds out it’s a lighthouse well, he’s the one who moves.

It’s a big principle in America, that we should follow our hearts. Do what feels right. Do what we’ve decided to do inside our own heads. But what if that isn’t the best advice?

What if we need a higher authority then ourselves?

Jesus once spoke about the importance of authority.

The religious leaders of Israel come and challenge Jesus, and their goal is to corner him. They ask a question about authority.

And I want you to understand how important this question is. This is a question about authority.

We want to understand as Christians that Jesus Christ fundamentally has authority over our lives.

What does authority mean? Authority is power, control, influence. My life is not my own, my life belongs to God. God has authority over me.

Sometimes we think, well, God is allowed to give suggestions to me. And I’ll decide if I want it or not. That is not actually how it works. If you really want to be honest about God, then understand this: God has real authority to tell you what to do and not do.

And if you can get that, and understand that, you’re going to understand what it means to “do God’s will.”

And we’re told that those who learn to do God’s will abide forever. And also the word says not everyone who says Lord, Lord will get eternal life, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven, Jesus said.

So understand Christ has authority to guide your life. And you have a choice, a choice whether you’ll accept that or ignore that. Most ignore that. But if you’ll fear God, acknowledge God, and let God have realy authority over how you live, you’re going to find yourself at the heart of the kingdom of God system.

Why do so few understand that? Because it’s hard to accept. We want to be in control. We’re rebels. We want to rebel and do what we want. We’re selfish. But if we can submit to God, and let God run our lives in real ways, we’re going to find the kingdom of God in all fullness.

But the pharisees and religious leaders, they don’t want to really know the answer to the question they ask. But they ask anyway, to try to harm Jesus.

From Mark 10:27-28, 27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

If Jesus is just a guy then his authority means nothing. But if Jesus is the son of God, he has total authority over my life. And your life. And we ought to learn how to do His will and obey Him completely.

Listen Jesus isn’t a totalitarian. He isn’t a dictator. Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Jesus does guide my life. He has me do things. He has me pray. He has me go to certain events, talk to certain people. But Jesus also gives me a lot of time to just relax and enjoy life too. So it’s not so hard to follow Jesus. His yoke isn’t a vicious yoke. It’s easy and light.

Jesus knows that the religious leaders don’t really want to know the answer to the question.

So here’s his response:

Mark 10:29-30 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

Jesus references John the baptizers ministry. Where did it come from? Was it just a weird guy in the river doing weird things? Or was it divinely inspired, was it from God?

So the religious leaders gather into a huddle, a holy huddle, they gather around and try to figure out how to respond.

In verses 31-32: 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

So they find themselves caught, first they realize if they say John was of God, then Jesus would say why didn’t you believe in John then? But if they say it’s just human nonsense, well, all the people of Israel believe in John, so they fear the people.

Notice what doesn’t come up: The truth. They are not honestly interested in what’s true. They are simply worried about accusing Jesus and getting the approval of the people in the crowds.

So they give the answer: verse 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus says then I’m not going to tell you. Because to be honest, you don’t really want the answer. You’re just trying to find a reason to trip me up in my words.

So we flip to chapter 12 and then we give into a familiar parable. And Jesus is going to be correcting the pharisees and religious leaders, by giving this parable at this moment in time.

Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.”

This parable is speaking directly to the religious leaders of Jerusalem. He is telling the spiritual leaders of the nation, that you were given stewardship over my vineyard, over my people, and you abused it. When I sent prophets to speak my word to you, you killed them, and persecuted them, and silenced them.

It’s a good reminder for today, we have been given stewardship over our own lives and over this church. We don’t own it, it’s not ours, it belongs to God. Our lives belong to God. And God is watching what we do with what he’s placed in our hands.

Will we be faithful stewards of our own lives? That’s the question. We’ll each be judged one day, on how we stewarded our lives.

Will you ignore God’s word? We all have that option. We can do something bad. We can sin and secret. And we’ll be astonished to find that God doesn’t strike us down. He’s waiting. He’s patient. He’s waiting until after we die, to judge our lives. So, we must believe in Jesus ,and when we’re tempted to do evil, we should remember, God is watching. So by the Spirit’s leading, I’m going to do the right thing.

Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s harder. But God will help you.

Next, in the parable, it says in verse 6: “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

God had sent the prophets to the nation of Israel, and the prophets were persecuted by Israel’s leaders. Ahab persecuted Elijah. Zedekiah persecuted Jeremiah. Zechariah was killed by Joash.

In the parable, the owner of the vineyard is represented by God himself, and God himself says ok, I’ll send my son, they’ll respect him. And King Jesus came. But Israel’s leaders also persecuted the son of God.

It says in verses 7-8: “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.”

The son was also rejected, just like the prophets. But, some did receive him. Some jews. Many gentiles across the world, have received the Son of God, and accept Him, and follow Him faithfully. That’s a great thing.

But the religious leaders of Israel, largely rejected Christ. There were some exceptions. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, many others, but the highest levels of leadership rejected Him.

Should we be so surprised when we’re rejected or excluded or thought less of because of our faith? The world still rejects faith in God, even today. But that’s OK. Because many still believe.

So then, what will the owner of the vineyard do? What will God do?

It says in verses 9-11: “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

We know from history that Israel would be destroyed by the Roman empire in 70 AD. The gospel of Jesus Christ began spreading throughout the nations of the Earth through the early church.

And the prophecy was true, the stone the builders rejected, Jesus, became the cornerstone of the body of Christ worldwide, the church.

The Lord did this. God did it.

And it has become marvelous in our eyes. We are astonished by what God has done in our lives and in the world.

Yet the leaders, the elites, still largely reject Jesus. Though some do believe.

And in conclusion today, in verse 12 it says, “12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.”

All the elites were in collusion against Jesus, the chief priests, spiritual leaders, the teachers of the law, the teachers, and the elders, the social leaders of Israel. Their power and authority was threatened by Jesus.

That goes back to the end of chapter 11, by whose authority do you teach? Jesus authority came directly from God himself, the ultimate total authority over the universe and the human race.

If you understand that level of authority that God has over everything you’ll understand how you should live. If you reject that authority, as Israel did, as the laeders did, life will never make sense. Because you’ll think it all comes down to personal opinion about what’s right and wrong. But if God defines right and wrong, then it’s clear and we know what’s true and what’s not.

That’s authority.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior? That’s a great thing.

But have you accepted Jesus Christ as the authority over your life?

There’s a big difference there. I hope we see Jesus as both. As savior the one who forgives my sins and makes me new. But also as my King, my leader, the one with ultimate authority to direct my life as he sees fit.

Then you’ll to do God’s will in your life, and not your own.

It all goes back to authority. The Greek word for authority exousia (Key) Pronunciation: ex-oo-see'-ah

It means: I.power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
A. leave or permission

II.physical and mental power
A. the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises

III.the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)

IV.the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)

A. universally
i. authority over mankind

B. specifically
i.the power of judicial decisions
ii. of authority to manage domestic affairs

The leaders of Israel wanted the power, the authority for themselves. They wanted the vineyard for themselves, the nation and affections of the people for themselves. They should’ve known, they were stewards caring for what God ultimately owned. We should understand that too. I need to understand that too. We all do. God owns everything. We’re just stewards of what he’s given us.

Let go of the power. Let go of the authority. Let God have the authority over you. Let god have the authority over your family.

He already has it. But, we should give it to him. So we don’t guide our own lives in the wrong direction. God will show us the right way to go. And then, we’ll follow the right track, which is God’s will for our lives.

Are you on that track of God’s will? Or have you gotten off track? Talk to Him right now. Pray, and ask him. What is your will for my life? Help me to follow it Lord. Give me a sign, a nudge, in the right direction, help me submit to you, reject my own way, and follow your way God. Amen

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Absalom takes Jerusalem, David regroups at Mahanaim

Absalom is leading a rebellion against King David and at least as of the time being, he is succeeding. King David and his leaders have fled Jerusalem, in tears of sorrow. Absalom has moved in and taken the capital.

So now we’re going to see Absalom being advised by two men, Ahithophel and Hushai. But Hushai is actually still working for King David. So he’s going to try to undermine Absalom.

So Absalom takes Jerusalem and he asks Ahithophel what he should do next.

And here’s his advice in 2nd Samuel 16:21-22: Ahithophel answered, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”

This fulfilled a judgment given against David after David’s elicit affair with Bathsheba.

The judgment from God was this from 2nd Samuel 12:11-12: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

And years later, that came true, when Absalom took David’s concubines and slept with them in broad daylight.

It’s a terribly evil thing to do, by Absalom, but it was from Ahithophel’s advice. It probably caused the people of Israel to fear Absalom and view him as dominant over David.

Ahithophel’s advice was highly prized in Israel. It actually says in 2nd Samuel 16 verse 23, “Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.”

So that brings us to 2nd Samuel 17, and we hear some new advice.

2nd Samuel 17:1-4 says: Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.” 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.”

Ahithophel says let’s strike out right away, tonight, with twelve thousand troops. Don’t give David time to retreat. Strike down only David, then bring back his companions to serve Absalom.

This is actually very good advice, but Absalom is also going to consult Hushai.

In verses 5-6: But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.” 6 When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, “Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion.”

Remember God is setting all this up to help King David. God judged David through the rebellion of Absalom. But God also helps David during the rebellion. It’s the same thing in our lives. Often there are things in our lives that God is judging us with, and also things God is helping us with.

What is God doing to help you in your life? I’m sure there are many things. What is in your life because of bad choices you made it the past? Many things that I fight today are because of bad choices I made in the past. But God helps me with that too. Even though it my fault in the first place!

So next we see Hushai giving Absalom bad advice. But he makes it sound good. 

From verses 7-13: “Hushai replied to Absalom, “The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. 8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave.”

“So I advise you: Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba—as numerous as the sand on the seashore—be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. 12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not so much as a pebble is left.”

Hushai is trying to buy David time to escape and get organized, so he can successfully resist Absalom. Hushai says, let’s wait, because David is a fierce warrior. Let’s gather all the troops from all around the kingdom before we attack David. This is bad advice. Giving David time to escape and plan his next move is dangerous. But it sounds good to Absalom.

In verse 14 the people respond: “Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.”

This is a direct answer to David’s prayer in 2nd Samuel 15 verse 31. When David discovered Ahithophel was among the conspirators, he prayed to God asking God to frustrate his good advice. And God answered.

The Lord God almighty is sovereign and in control of this situation. Similarly, he is in control in your life. You can trust Him completely. You can trust God will cause things to work together for good. You can also trust that you’ll face problems and difficulties, but God will be with you and will carry you through those tough times. God is carrying David through this tough time. And he’s protecting David behind the scenes.

But also remember, that if you become an Absalom, a rebel against God, God will be working behind the scenes to defeat you and stop you. God frustrates the plans of the wicked, but blesses His people in their time of need.

So now, Hushai sends word back to David, through the priests Zadok and Abiathar, for him to immediately flee the area, cross the river, and head into the wilderness.

It says in verses 15-16: "Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, “Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. 16 Now send a message at once and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.’”

The priests send word through a female servant to their two sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, and they’re going to send the message to David to leave the area.

In verses 17-20: “Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered grain over it. No one knew anything about it. When Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

The woman answered them, “They crossed over the brook.” The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.”

These two messengers nearly get caught by Absalom’s troops as they attempt to get word to David. But they hide inside a well to evade capture.”

This brings up the classic moral quandary, if you’re hiding jews from the nazis, and nazis come and knock on your door and ask you if there are any jews you’re hiding, is it a sin to lie to the nazis? The answer to that question is no. If you’re protecting someone’s life justly, then you are free to deceive the evil people coming to harm them.

But in general in life we should never make a practice of lying, deceit, or manipulation. The new testament reminds us to let our “yes be yes” and let our “no be no.” Which means, keep your commitments, and be honest in your words.

This woman hides the messengers of David, against the authorities, and it’s the right thing to do.

The messengers arrive to David in verses 21 and 22, which state: “After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, “Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you.” So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.”

David and the hundreds of people with him receive the message and cross the Jordan river, and by the sun rising the next morning they had all crossed over successfully. David was saved by God in this situation.

I often wonder what God has saved me from. So many times we probably have no idea how God has protected us. It all happens without our knowledge. But I know he has spared me in so many ways, from so many terrible things.

Let our prayer be: “Please God keep protecting us!”

He certainly will. He certainly will. Abide in Christ, and he will always protect you. And if something bad does happen, it happens with God’s permission only. Remember, the enemy needs God’s permission to do anything to us.

But God will sometimes give the enemy permission to test us. To see where our heart is. To see if we’ll hold fast to Him. Or get angry and leave. Hold fast to the Lord when you’re under attack. God will help you.

Next in verse 23 we see Ahithophel’s final end. It says, “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.”

Ahithophel’s pride, I believe, had caused him to join Absalom’s rebellion. And then again his pride, caused him to be so upset and disgraced, that he went home, set everything in order, and then killed himself.

Watch out for pride in your life. It can lead you to do terrible things. Pride is always a danger for a Christian. We have to watch out for it, and be so careful to stay humble. Pray on your knees. Submit to God. Remember your place as a servant of God’s people.

And if God notices pride in your heart, he will humble you. And that’s a mercy from Him. To be grateful if he does humble you. Then repent of pride, and ask for His forgiveness. I’ve had to do that several times over the years.

Ahithophel is so ashamed that his advice wasn’t followed that he commits suicide. It’s a terrible thing. I’m sure many of us know people who have committed suicide. It’s a tragedy beyond words.

Always remember in life, what you’re going through is temporary. Many young people I hear commit suicide because of a breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend. If only they knew that what they’re feeling is temporary, and the feeling will end. I had my heart broken a few times when I was in my teens. It always felt impossibly difficult, but after a few months, the feeling would be gone, and I would be ok. Never hurt yourself over something temporary. Remember time will pass and you’ll be ok eventually. It’s really true!

Next in verses 24-26: “David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab. The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.”

So David crosses the Jordan and travels another seven miles to Mahanaim and sets up there with remaining loyalist troops.

Meanwhile Absalom has gathered a great army of Israel to destroy David. The rebel army under Absalom has crossed the Jordan river now and is moving toward Mahanaim.

Lastly in verses 27-29, we see a warm welcome for David in Mahanaim:

“When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.”

So David finds help from the people of the city, they bring his troops and his family plentiful food and drink. And they’re going to need it. Because the rebel army has gathered thousands of troops and is marching them. Next week we’ll see the great battle that takes place and what happens to King David, and Absalom.

In summary today, we find the following applications today from our scripture:

1. God’s judgments will always come true. The wicked will be punished by God eternally. (In the case of Ahithophel)

2. God’s mercies will always come true. The righteous will be rewarded generously by God eternally. (In the case of David)

3. Though the righteous stumble seven times, they will not fall (David was driven from Jerusalem, but he was not killed by Absalom’s troops)

4. God answers prayer (He answered the prayer of David to defeat the advice of Ahithophel

5. God is sovereign and in control (He will protect us who follow Him, and he will undermine and defeat those who are rebellious)

6. God allows us to tell a white lie (a lie to protect someone’s life from evil people is acceptable) but We should never make a practice of lying or deceit

7. God has and will protect you from dangers you didn’t even know were there

8. Stay humble in your walk with God, avoid pride at all costs

9. What you’re feeling is temporary and will pass, suicide is permanent.

10. The weapon may form against you, but it won’t prosper (the rebel army marches, but David is provided for, and ready to face them)

Jesus Christ drives the money-changers from the Temple

While Josh McDowell was attending seminary in California, his father went Home to be with the Lord. His mother had died years earlier, but Josh was not sure of her salvation. He became depressed, thinking that she might be lost. Was she a Christian or not? The thought obsessed him. "Lord," he prayed, "somehow give me the answer so I can get back to normal. I've just got to know." It seemed like an impossible request.

Two days later, Josh drove out to the ocean. He walked to the end of a pier to be alone. There sat an old woman in a lawnchair, fishing. "Where's your home originally?" she asked.

"Michigan -- Union City," Josh replied. "Nobody's heard of it. I tell people it's a suburb of --" "Battle Creek," interrupted the woman. "I had a cousin from there. Did you know the McDowell family?"

Stunned, Josh responded, "Yes, I'm Josh McDowell!"

"I can't believe it," said the woman. "I'm a cousin to your mother."

"Do you remember anything at all about my mother's spiritual life?" asked Josh. "Why sure -- your mom and I were just girls -- teenagers -- when a tent revival came to town. It was the fourth night -- we both went forward to accept Christ."

"Praise God!" shouted Josh, startling the surrounding fishermen.
-Our Daily Bread.

The Lord Jesus victoriously burst forth into the capital city at the beginning of Mark chapter 11. The entire book of Mark, indeed the books of Mark, Luke and Matthew all build up to the moment when Jesus the jewish messiah rode triumphantly into the great capital of Israel, Jerusalem.

Jesus entered the temple, looked around, and then left, and went to Bethany.

This is the grand stage of Christ’s ministry, his time in Jerusalem. The time has come, at last, for the show down between the true messiah, and the religious leaders, pharisees, and roman officials.

But first Jesus strategically departs for a moment, until the right time, and now it’s the next day, and he’s leaving Bethany, back toward Jerusalem.

Let’s take a look at verses 12-14: The next day, Jesus was leaving Bethany. He was hungry. 13 He saw a fig tree with leaves. So he went to the tree to see if it had any figs growing on it. But he found no figs on the tree. There were only leaves, because it was not the right time for figs to grow. 14 So Jesus said to the tree, “People will never eat fruit from you again.” His followers heard him say this.”

The environmentalists and climate change people will be upset with this one, I think. Jesus curses this fig tree. It was in full leaf, some translations say, yet he found no figs on it. When a fig tree is in full leaf, it’s quite possible to find early figs on it, but in this case, he finds only leaves.

And this is going to be a teaching moment for the disciples. This is not done out of frustration, just because he was hungry and couldn’t find a fig. No, this was a message about prayer he was sharing with his disciples. That’s one layer.

One layer deeper, this is also a symbolic message about Israel. Israel is often represented in the scriptures as a fig tree. As God’s fig tree, you could say. But, when Jesus came, he found a people that largely rejected him. And as a result they were cursed, like the fig tree is cursed, to be destroyed, and to be driven into the nations for a long time. Today we call it the great diaspora. It happened in AD 70 when Israel led a rebellion against Rome, and declared independence from them. But it was not God’s will. So the Romans raised an army and attacked Israel, Israel fought bravely, but step by step they were slowly defeated. There’s a great documentary about the destruction of Israel in AD 70, it’s called “The Siege of Jerusalem (70 AD) - The Great Jewish Revolt.” It’s free on YouTube by the channel Invicta. It’s absolutely brilliant!

Messiah Jesus knew all this would happen ahead of time. The cursing of the fig tree was symbolic of the destruction of the nation.

Next, we see Jesus again coming to Jerusalem. It says in verses 15-16:

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.”

Messiah Jesus clears the temple of the money changers. This is symbolic of the fact that Jesus would make the way of the gentiles to come into God’s kingdom as well.

Look at what he says next in verse 17: 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. And that is what should’ve been in the temple in Jerusalem. It should’ve been a place where every nation came together to worship God. Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations to draw them all to God. And Some of that did go on, there were jewish communities throughout the roman empire. But it wasn’t quite as it should’ve been.

Instead it had become a market of buying and selling, of outward appearance of sacrifice, instead of true heart worship.

But in the end the name of Jesus, the temple of Christ, would become a ‘house of prayer for all nations’ as today we in the gentile world call on the name of Jesus for salvation. Isn’t that wonderful? Truly it is!

The priests and teachers saw Jesus do this and they asked him, as recorded in John’s gospel, what right do you have to do this? What sign can you show? And Jesus says this is my sign, destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it again. They were confused, they said it took 46 years to build the temple, no one could rebuild it in three days.

But Jesus was talking about his body. They would crucify him, but three days later he would be alive again.

Which makes me think Jesus was talking about his body when he referenced the temple being a place of prayer for all nations. Herod’s temple should’ve been that, but in the end Jesus himself would be the place of safety to call upon God from, so we pray “in Jesus name.”

But in Mark’s gospel it simply says in verses 18-19: “When the leading priests and the teachers of the law heard what Jesus said, they began trying to find a way to kill him. They were afraid of him because all the people were amazed at his teaching. 19 That night Jesus and his followers left the city.”

So again the leaders of Israel plan and plot to find a way to kill Jesus and stop him. But they don’t act right at this moment because they’re afraid of him, all the people are amazed at what he’s saying. And again Jesus strategically leaves Jerusalem with his disciples.

Now in verses 20-21 we return to the fig tree near Bethany, “The next morning Jesus was walking with his followers. They saw the fig tree that he spoke to the day before. The tree was dry and dead, even the roots. 21 Peter remembered the tree and said to Jesus, “Teacher, look! Yesterday, you told that fig tree to die. Now it is dry and dead!”

They find the fig tree again and it is completely dead. Jesus uses this as a teaching moment. Remember, it’s symbolic of Israel. But, it’s also a truth about belief and prayer.

It says in verses 22-23: Jesus answered, “Have faith in God. 23 The truth is, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, mountain, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, then God will do it for you.”

If you have no doubt, then you believe, that what you say will in fact happen, then God will do it for you.

God will do it.

It will happen.

End of story.

If you believe.

If you choose faith, belief, to really believe, then anything is possible. You can pray it, and it will actually happen.

It says in verse 24 then: "So I tell you to ask for what you want in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours."

That is the key today, we all have to understand. There is only one point today: Believe in your heart, pray, and you’ll receive.

Then we get the ever-important reminder from the Lord Jesus in verse 25:

"When you are praying and you remember that you are angry with another person about something, forgive that person. Forgive them so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.” 26 26: “But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.”

And verse 26 is in italics because, we find it added in some of the early Greek manuscripts of the new testament, but not all of them. But we know it’s true because it occurs in other places in the new testament.

Our prayers are linked to our status with others, isn’t that interesting? It says if you are angry with someone, and you’re praying, first, forgive that person in your heart, then keep praying. Forgive them so your Father in heaven will forgive your sins. This implies an ongoing process of seeking God’s forgiveness when we sin in our lives.

And as we live longer and longer for Christ, we sin less and less, and pretty soon we realize, hey, wow I didn’t sin at all today. Praise the Lord.

So in conclusion today, remember the key for today, Believe and pray, and you will receive. If you doubt, if you’re double-minded don’t expect to receive anything from god, it says in the book of James, but if you believe, and don’t doubt, then you will receive, in His will. Believe that, and your walk with Christ will change the world as you pray.