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1 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. 3 “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.7 Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

II Samuel 12:1-10 NASB

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. This infamous saying is extremely popular among grade school children who seek to defend themselves against verbal attacks from their peers. Even young and older adults still use this saying today as a defense mechanism. While this phrase sounds noble, it’s simply not true. Words can and do in fact hurt people of all ages! Consider a young son whose father constantly tells him that he is a hopeless case, or a struggling student who overhears her professor calling her a dimwit, or a dedicated employee whose supervisor calls him an idiot in front of the entire staff; these types of words don’t necessarily elicit joy or happiness from an individual. However, can words still hurt when they are used to communicate the truth to a person in a respectful yet stern manner? Absolutely! In fact, one of the things we often dread is hearing the truth about ourselves because that truth is not always easy to acknowledge or accept.

In today’s passage, the prophet Nathan is the carrier of truth and King David is the intended recipient. In II Samuel 11, King David commits adultery by consciously sleeping with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his most faithful soldiers. After receiving word from Bathsheba that she is pregnant following their sexual encounter, David desperately tries to convince Uriah to return home and sleep with his wife so that Bathsheba’s pregnancy would appear to be the product of her and Uriah’s intimacy, as opposed to himself. When Uriah continues to resist David’s urges to return home, David conspires to kill Uriah in an effort to permanently conceal his indiscretion with Bathsheba. He instructs his chief soldier Joab to intentionally place Uriah at the front line of their next battle and to withdraw all supporting troops from him. Ultimately, David’s deceitful plan works: Uriah the Hittite is killed in battle, and David takes a newly widowed Bathsheba as his wife.

David’s actions angered the Lord severely, so He sends the prophet Nathan to confront and rebuke David concerning his sin. As opposed to rebuking David immediately, Nathan begins his journey to reproof by giving an account of a rich man, a poor man, and a traveler. While the rich man possessed numerous flocks and herds, the poor man only possessed a little ewe lamb whom he loved like his own daughter. When a traveler appears in town to visit the rich man, the rich man takes the little ewe lamb from the poor man and prepares it as a meal for the traveler, as opposed to taking one of the many lambs from his numerous flocks and herds. As a shepherd himself, King David instantly becomes angry after hearing about the rich man’s actions. He declares that the rich man deserves to die, but not before he gives the poor man four lambs in restoration of the little ewe lamb that he stole from him. To David's surprise, the prophet Nathan emphatically declares to him, “You are the man!” Unbeknownst to David during Nathan’s narration, he was the rich man and Uriah was the poor man.

As the King of Israel, David possessed many great things! God had given him Saul’s house (“your master’s house”). He also had placed Saul’s wives, specifically his harem, into David’s care and protection after Saul died. Ultimately, God gave David the house, or the royal dynasty, of Israel and Judah. If that had not been enough, God tells David that He would have given him much more! In contrast, Uriah possessed very little; his most prized possession was his wife Bathsheba, whom he loved and took care of with everything in him. Identical to the rich man who stole the poor man’s only little ewe lamb for himself, David took Bathsheba from Uriah, not only when he slept with her but also after he intentionally set Uriah up to be killed in battle. Speaking through the prophet Nathan, the Lord tells David that he has despised, or dishonored, God’s commandment by committing adultery with Bathsheba and maliciously plotting to kill Uriah to cover up his adulterous affair and the resulting pregnancy.

David had been so consumed in his lust, malice, and deceit that it truly had not occurred to him just how evil and deplorable his acts were in the sight of God! Imagine David's immediate facial reaction when Nathan told him that he was the rich man in the account, the same man that David said was deserving of death! Nathan opened up David’s eyes to see his sinful actions through his lenses as a shepherd, which truly cut David to the core of his being! Yet and still, Nathan’s rebuke of David proved to be necessary and effective because David ultimately confessed his sin to the Lord (cf. II Samuel 12:13). And although he would suffer the consequences of his sinful actions through the death of the son he conceived with Bathsheba and the sword of division among his own sons, David did experience both the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy because according to Old Testament Law regarding adultery, both him and Bathsheba should have been executed (cf. Leviticus 20:10).

Just as the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David for his sin, He does the same with His children today! As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we must remain open to sound correction and rebuke, understanding that God ushers both of these disciplining tools through other people, especially those whose are of the household of faith! Moreover, we should ensure that we intentionally submit ourselves under proper spiritual authority and leadership so that we prevent ourselves from escaping correction and accountability! Many believers who refuse to submit to any form of spiritual leadership or plant themselves within a community of other believers often do so because they do not want to be corrected or held accountable for their actions. As opposed to avoiding correction, we must embrace it, for it is through proper reproof that we become more spiritually mature! Even the Word of God itself corrects, reproves, instructs and discerns us wholly (cf. II Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12).

Overall, we must recognize that the Lord’s discipline originates from a place of love, not hatred. Proverbs 3:12 states that “For those whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights”. God’s correction is proof of His love; it is His call to us to reject the way of the flesh and to walk in the Spirit. This is what we must remember when we feel accosted or attacked in the midst of sound correction and rebuke! When we begin to see His correction through the lenses of His unconditional love, we will be more open to receiving it, even when it hurts! Moreover, we as believers possess the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit; not only does He rebuke and correct us when we sin against God, but He also empowers us to obey Him! Show your gratitude to God for His correction and the correction He has dispensed through His servants through genuine repentance! A loving, holy God and Father who does not correct His own children wouldn't be considered much of a loving and holy Father, would He?

  • Live Transformed

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB

Envision yourself standing in the immediate presence of the most influential person in your life. Do you stand in awe of this person given their history, status, and subsequent impact on you? Do feelings of intimidation or inferiority overwhelm you when you stop to consider the depth of their knowledge and wisdom in comparison to yours? Do you see yourself being more talkative or reserved in their presence? Often times, simply occupying the same space as a person or group of people that you greatly admire can make you increasingly more aware of your shortcomings than you were before, especially those things that you perceive to be shortcomings. Before that admired individual even has the opportunity to speak to you personally, their mere presence quickly provokes you to walk in a higher level of honor and integrity than you did prior to meeting them.

The prophet Isaiah could certainly identify with this sort of encounter. In the sixth chapter of the book holding his name, Isaiah finds himself standing in the presence of Adonai, another name for “the Lord”, in a glorious vision. He sees the Lord seated high and exalted on His throne with the train of His glorious robe filling the entire temple. Isaiah’s eyes then capture the heavenly angelic beings known as seraphim standing directly above the Lord, each one possessing one dominant set of wings for flying and two other sets of wings covering their faces and feet. Isaiah’s eyes had captured the glory of Adonai and His created angelic hosts; next, he would hear and feel the glory of Adonai! Isaiah watches and listens to the seraphim calling out to each other crying “Holy, Holy, Holy is,” Jehovah Tsaba, or “the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with His glory.” Such a profound declaration deserves a profound response, and so the foundations of the thresholds of the temple violently shook as smoke filled the temple as well.

It was abundantly clear to Isaiah whose presence he graciously inhabited, so much so that his own sinfulness became blatantly apparent to him in that moment. In verse 5, Isaiah cries out in the temple saying, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”. The word “Woe” in the Hebrew language denotes lamentation, or mourning. In essence, Isaiah cried out in deep sorrow because while standing in the presence of a holy God, he became aware of his “unclean lips” and his residence among a people who also possessed unclean lips. Likewise, the word “unclean” in the Hebrew language means “foul”, which indicates the nature of the speech of Isaiah and his people. Though it pained him to openly acknowledge his sin in the presence of God, Isaiah did so, and he was rewarded: one of the seraphim flew to Isaiah with a burning coal in his hand that he had removed from the altar with tongs and touched Isaiah's mouth with it declaring, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

In the Bible, fire, among its many contexts, often symbolizes purification. Many a sacrifice was consumed with fire on the Lord’s altar according to His instructions to nation of Israel. God even refers to Himself as a “refiner’s fire”, that removes impurities and uncleanness (cf. Malachi 3:2 AMP). Therefore, the burning coal that was taken from the Lord's altar and pressed against Isaiah’s lips cleansed him of all his iniquity, thus making him purified in the presence of the Lord. Furthermore, Isaiah’s sin was forgiven, which restored him not only internally but also relationally between himself and the Lord. The beauty of this account is the Lord’s response to Isaiah’s confession of his sin through His angelic servants: cleansing and forgiveness with no condemnation in sight! Certainly, there was nothing within Isaiah himself that warranted spiritual cleansing and forgiveness, let alone the privilege to stand in the presence of the Lord with His train filling the temple! Yet, the seraphim, acting on behalf of their Lord and Master, demonstrated the Lord’s response to each one of us when we humbly acknowledge that we have sinned before and against Him!

The apostle John’s sentiments from his first epistle encapsulate the events of Isaiah’s encounter perfectly: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (cf. I John 1:9). This is, in fact, what Isaiah did: he confessed the uncleanness of his lips to the Lord, and God, through the seraphim, forgave his sin and cleansed him of all unrighteousness. For those of us who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we no longer reside under the domain of condemnation! (cf. Romans 8:1) We have been justified, that is declared not guilty on account of our sin, by faith in Christ Jesus, who took on God’s complete wrath against sin upon Himself on the cross. While we are no longer condemned, the Holy Spirit who dwells within us will convict us when we fall short of the glory of God the Father. Even still, when He convicts us, we are to do as the apostle John has instructed us to do and confess our sin to the Lord who is faithful and just to both forgive and cleanse us! He will neither despise nor reject a broken and contrite heart (cf. Psalm 51:17). Therefore, run to Him and embrace His loving forgiveness as He washes, cleanses, and restores you anew! Embrace His loving correction and call to turn away from your sin and to choose His way! He will make you clean from the inside out!

  • Live Transformed

Updated: Oct 13

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?7 By offering polluted food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted You?’ By saying that the Lord's table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that He may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will He show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on My altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord's table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

Malachi 1:6-14 ESV

When we want to make a good impression on someone, we typically venture to extreme lengths to do so! That man who really wants to impress his significant other on their first date will usually try to take her to the most high-end, expensive restaurant he can find. That tenacious job-seeker who finally finds his or her dream position will usually spend countless hours perfecting their resume and cover letter. In whatever we do, we tend to offer and present our best to those people and those causes that we honor the most! Conversely, we tend to offer and present less than our best to those people who we do not particularly admire or causes that do not necessarily capture our hearts. If we’re truly indifferent towards a specific person or thing, we might even present something that we know is lackluster and reserve no concern over it. When we start to exhibit this type of attitude in our service to God, we have officially stepped into dangerous territory! Actually, to exhibit this type of attitude and behavior in anything that we do dishonors the Lord because we are commanded to do everything to the glory of God the Father and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. I Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17).

In today’s passage, Jehovah Tsaba, meaning “the Lord of hosts”, speaks through His prophet Malachi to address the Israelites’ flippant behavior regarding their offerings and sacrifices, specifically the Israelite priests. The Old Testament Levitical system of offerings and sacrifices was both exhaustive and incredibly stringent. By virtue of Him being both holy and perfect, and unchanging in both respects, God demanded offerings and sacrifices from His chosen people that were not only set aside for Him solely, but ones that also possessed no defect and the most excellent quality (cf. Leviticus 4:32, 14:10). Ultimately, it was the responsibility of the Levitical priests to inspect everything that would be placed on the altar to ensure that it would meet the standard of acceptability according to the Law. Any failure to do so, especially in a negligent manner, was likened to a slap in the face to God, a sign of total disrespect!

As a result, the Lord heavily stresses the principle of honor in His charge against the Israelite priests. By establishing that a son honors his father and that a servant honors his master, God questions Israel as to the location of the honor and reverence that is due Him considering that He is both their Father and Master. By consciously offering unclean food and defected animals on God’s holy altar, both the Israelite priests and people spewed dishonor on the Lord’s name. Ultimately, God’s disdain for the Israelites’ behavior was so severe that He wished that one of them would close the doors of His temple permanently rather than continue to blatantly burn defected sacrifices on His altar. And if He had not already made Himself clear through His slew of thought-provoking rhetorical questions, God blatantly tells Israel that He is not pleased with them nor will He accept an offering from them!

In His omniscience, God cites the source of the Israelites' negligent attitude towards their offerings and sacrifices: weariness. Several decades prior to this prophecy, these Israelites had returned to their homeland of Judah after King Cyrus released them from Babylonian captivity, which they were in due to their own disobedience and rebellion. Having returned to an uninhabited land in ruin after being exiled for 70 years, the Israelites began to rebuild the Jewish temple and were reinforced in their efforts through the prophetic encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, all the while struggling to persevere through the economic decline of their nation. In their weariness, they began to treat their offerings and sacrifices to the Lord with contempt and indifference. While God may have been sympathetic towards their fatigue, He did not excuse their blatant disrespect of His altar! While the priests were guilty of both failing to ensure that each sacrifice met God’s holy standard and proceeding to offer them anyway, the people of Israel were equally as guilty for bringing sacrifices to the priests that they knew were unclean and defiled.

Although the Levitical system of offerings and sacrifices has ceased due to Jesus’ single atoning sacrifice on the cross, the principle of it has not ceased. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we are still called to offer and present our best to the Lord in whatever we do! In our praise & worship, our tithes & offerings, our careers and avocations, all of these and others should be done and presented unto the Lord in excellence! If we were to offer up these things as physical sacrifices on the Lord's altar, would we be able to do so in full confidence that we offered Him our best? Consider Abel whose notable sacrifice over millions of years ago still speaks today as an honorable and reverent act of faith (cf. Hebrews 11:4). Perhaps the greatest offering that we can present to the Lord is our own bodies! The apostle Paul admonishes us in this way saying, “I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (cf. Romans 12:1).

By consistently yielding to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit who dwells on the inside of us, we can continuously offer up our bodies as living, holy, and acceptable sacrifices to the Lord! Surely, God did not withhold His best from us when He sent His only begotten Son into the world to atone for the sins of the world! Likewise, Jesus Himself did not withhold His best from us when He allowed Himself to be beaten, tortured, and crucified on the cross to purchase our eternal redemption! Therefore, it must be our conviction that we will not withhold our best from Him! God deserves our best simply because He is God, the Self-Existing One, a great King above all and the owner of a name that is to be feared among the nations! Because no other god compares to Him, no other god deserves the quality of offering that He is due! We must view the opportunity to present offerings and sacrifices to the Lord as a privilege, not an implicit right, for His self-sufficiency rejects the notion that He needs anything from us! Let honor, gratitude, and reverence permeate everything that you present to the Lord so that it may rise up to Him as a pleasing, sweet-smelling aroma!

Transformation Chistian Fellowship Logo church located in Clarksville/Columbia, MD DC area.




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