Blind Spots

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David sleeps with Bathsheba. She gets pregnant. David panics, wants to cover his sin, calls back Uriah from the frontline of the battle, tries to get him to sleep with his wife. How easy to try to cover our sin. Uriah is an honourable man, won’t sleep with his wife and so David has him murdered. Nathan then uses a parable to confront David with his sin.

2 Samuel 12 –  5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

What gets me is the blindedness of David. He obviously had a well developed sense of justice, just look at his reaction here, finely honed perhaps from being chased around the desert by Saul. And when told this parable he reacts strongly all the time failing to realise his own sin. Nathan then nails him:

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

How could David have been so blind?

Lord, where are my blind spots. Are they as obvious to all around me as David’s sin appeared to Nathan, and more importantly, to God?

Wakey, Wakey!

This was my take on Acts 10:1-23 this morning. Peter and Cornelius is a large narrative – in fact the largest in Acts – so I had to make a decision what to emphasise and though listening and being available to God was the best take I could do.

Due to the images the size of the file became very large and so I have had to delete some of the images from it and the Bible verses – and the story of Clarence Duncan is one that has previously been posted on this blog so I have not included it again. The remaining text remains the same though.

acts 10

Sermon Preparation

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Saturday night and I am at my desk preparing for tomorrow mornings sermon whilst the family watch American Idol. Just to encourage me I found this post here:

Rather famously, Charles H. Spurgeon prepared his Sunday morning sermon on a Saturday evening. Spurgeon then readied his Sunday evening message on a Sunday afternoon. Thinking of trying it? Don’t. At least not until you’ve read the advice given over at Spurgeon.org:

“This is not a recommended method of sermon preparation, unless you are a highly gifted preacher with a photographic memory, very sharp wits, a lifetime of in-depth reading, an encyclopedic knowledge of theology, a superb command of the English language, and a deep personal spiritual life.”

Faith: Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

This was my take on Acts 8:26-40 today.

I decided to take the idea of moving in faith – well Philips movement – as the focal point and to try to simplify after being too complicated in links and points last week.

Due to the images the size of the file became very large and so I have had to delete some of the images from it. The text remains the same apart from removing the words of Scripture which you can look up in your own Bible.

Clarence Duncan's Ministry to the Yao

I read this amazing story here

In 1985 Clarence Duncan arrived in Africa as missionary to the solidly Muslim people called the Yao who live mainly in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi. When he settled in his village, he called for a meeting with the elders. After the pleasantries the chief asked him his name. Clarence replied, “Mr. Clarence.”

The council looked at each other for a moment and then the chief asked, “Why are you here?”

Again Clarence simply said, “I want to tell your people about Isa Al Mahsi (Jesus the Messiah).”

A couple months later, when the chief decided he could trust Clarence, he said, “Do you know why we allowed you to stay?”

Clarence said, “I never thought about it.”

“Twenty-one years ago a very old Yao man came to our village and called for a meeting as you did. When we asked him his name, this Yao man said, ‘Mr. Clarence’—which isn’t an African name at all! When we asked him why he came, he said, ‘I want to tell your people about Isa Al Mahsi.’ These were your very words. Twenty-one years ago Mr. Clarence led four of our villagers to follow Jesus. So we ran them out of the village. And we killed Mr. Clarence. The reason we allowed you to stay was we were afraid.”

That was 1985. Two years ago on a January morning 24 Muslim elders approached Clarence Duncan’s house. After a meal the leader sat in the middle of the room and said that they had come to ask questions about Christianity. Clarence said fine but that he would only answer them by reading from the Bible so they would know he did not invent the answers. So he gave each of them a Bible in the trade language. The first question was, “Why do you Christians say that there are three gods?”

Clarence said the answer was found in Deuteronomy 6:4 and gave them the page: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is one!” And he mentioned that Isa (Jesus) said this very thing in Mark 12:29.

The questioning went on till five in the afternoon. When all had left, the leader, Sheik Abu Bakr, stayed and asked if he could see Clarence in a week.

When they met Abu asked if Clarence knew why they came to see him last week. Clarence said he assumed it was to ask questions. But Abu said, “No, it was because the Christian church is growing so fast we knew we had to kill you. We had consulted for three days and prepared our magic. You were to be struck dumb when we asked questions, then fall on the ground paralyzed and then die. But when you kept talking, and even stood up and moved around, we knew you had a stronger Spirit and gave up.”

Then Abu said, “I want to become a Christian.” And he told an amazing story.

“When I was a teenager, in our village we were not Muslim people and we were not Christian. We were Achewa people with our own religion. Behind our village was a hill where I would often go to pray.

“One day I was on that hill praying. Suddenly all around me was a blinding light. Out of this light I saw a big hand coming toward me holding an open book. I looked at the book and saw writing on the page. A Voice told me to read. I protested that I could not read, never having been to school. The Voice again told me to read. So I did. And suddenly the book and the hand disappeared.

“I ran back to my village and all the people were looking for me, thinking I had died on that hill! They asked about a fire they had seen up there. When I told them the story, they laughed at me saying, You can’t read!

“Someone got a book and I began to read! Then people came from all around to find out more about what happened and asked questions. The Muslim authorities found out about me and I was trained in the ways of Islam. Soon all or our village became Muslim. For 15 years I was the greatest debater against the Christians.”

He paused and then said, “You remember when I asked you the first question about why Christians believe in three gods? Your answer was Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4.”

“That’s right,” Clarence said.

Sheik Abu Bakr looked Clarence Duncan in the eye and said, “That was the same passage that this Voice on the mountain showed me. At that moment I knew that the God you were talking about was the True God!”

“Then why did you keep asking me all those questions the whole day?”

“Because,” he smiled, “I wanted all these Muslim leaders to know what the Christians believe and I wanted them to hear it from you. The whole day I pretended unbelief so that I could ask more questions. Now I want to become a Christian.”

In the midst of a life of steady, persevering faithfulness, God has yet more wonders to show us in the work of evangelism and world missions than we can imagine. Let’s pray for eyes to see and ears to hear when he calls us to a divine appointment like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch had on the road to Gaza.

Little Men

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We live in an age of little men who should be big. Men who should know better, who should act with a generosity of heart and spirit. Instead we live with leaders who are small minded, petty and vindictive and who produce church members who are of similar vein.

David was a leader of men. If you read of Saul’s leadership, his insecurities, his fear of man, his small heart and mind, it becomes very clear as you see David developing that here is a different quality of man, one who stands tall in the greatness and goodness of God.

1 Samuel 30 tells of how the families of David and all his men had been taken captive by Amalekite raiders. They pursued and defeated them retaking their wives, children and possessions as well as much plunder. During the pursuit 200 of David’s men had become so tired they could go no further and had been left to recover. As those who had fought were reunited with those who had been weak this happens;

21Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them. 22Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” 23But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. 24Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” 25And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.

I want to walk with men and women of such a heart. Who are prepared to overlook weakness. Who lift people up and don’t readily tear down. Who seek unity and fairness. Who have a large and generous heart.

The Same Again

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Once again in 1 Samuel 26:1-12 God gives David the chance to take things into his own hands. We need to know just because we pass a test the first time doesn’t mean that we shall not face just the same test again sooner or later. Taking time and spiritual energy to develop the right response in your heart is vital.

Too often I hear people preaching about how incredible it is that god looked so favourably upon David and his line. It is easy to think of the mistakes David makes later on in his life, adultery, murder disloyalty and the like. Yet at this time it is worth noting his humility and total submission to the Lord.

“The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. 24Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.”

1 Samuel 26:23-24

In such instances it becomes far easier to see that David was truly ‘a man after God’s heart’. Acts 13:22

“…he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ ”