Monday, May 5, 2014

"Family problems ..."

Day #129:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - May 6th

Scripture Reading:  II Samuel 10 - 14 ...

Almost everyone I know has relationship problems in their family, either in their immediate family or their extended family, or both.  Every week, almost without exception, someone shares with me a burden they have for a family member and often they ask me what they should do.  We want to make things better, we want to FIX things, but we don't have the power to FIX people ... even ourselves!!  The reality is that sin, our inner rebellion against God through disobedience, produces all of these problems in our relationships, beginning in our families and extending outward in a series of never-ending circles, each causing pain, hurt and anguish in one or more ways.  Such is the lot of our lives here in this world so deeply affected by sin.

David, King of Israel, was not immune to such disaster.  In fact, David brought some of it upon himself when he made the fateful decision to steal another man's wife.  Following his sin with Bathsheba and his confrontation with the prophet, Nathan, God said to David, "Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? ... Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own" (12:10).  There are consequences to sin that are generational.  Most often, we don't think of how our sin is seen by God.  It is not just wrong, it is offensive to Him.  He hates it.  David realized that too late.

David repented.  He was truly sorry for his sin.  Psalm 51 was written during this time.  David wrote, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge" (51:1-4).  You can read the rest of Psalm 51 to understand David's heartfelt sorrow and to see what true repentance looks like.

It wasn't that God didn't forgive David.  Nathan said to him, "The LORD has taken away your sin.  YOU are not going to die. (Sin is worthy of death!)  But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die" (12:13-14).  David believed he was forgiven and that was a great comfort to him after his son died.  He testified, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me" (12:23).  David believed in the resurrection and trusted that his son was with the LORD, as he, himself, would be one day.  Such is the fruit of faith.  Faith accepts that God is sovereign and believes that in the end all will be well.  Life will be filled with the consequences of sin ... both our own and that of others, but through faith we can be sure that God is with us and will never leave us.

The consequences of David's sin and God's prediction that the sword would never depart from his house would not be long in coming.  It came in the form of David's children.  First it was between a brother and a sister, and then between two brothers, as one killed the other because of what he had done to their sister.  It reminds me of one of the first consequences of sin all the way back in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden following the first sin ever committed and then one of their sons, Cain, killed another son, Abel.  Family relationships ... if you are having problems in this area you are not the first and you certainly won't be the last.  But that doesn't make them any easier to bear.

David banished his son, Absalom, but his heart still longed for him.  How many parents today experience the agony of longing for their children, yet struggling with the consequences of their children's sinful actions?!  Yet even here again God gives a ray of hope through the words of a woman sent to persuade David to allow Absalom to return:  "But God does not take away life; instead, He devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him" (14:14).  How true those words are!  God would eventually send His own Son to reconcile us to Himself and to make reconciliation and forgiveness possible with others.

Family problems and the consequences of sin will exist until Jesus returns.  They are grievous and cause great sorrow for many, yet through the work of the Holy Spirit hearts can change and forgiveness and reconciliation can take place.  As God's people today Jesus tells us to be ambassadors of reconciliation, to do our best to live at peace with all people, especially members of our family AND of God's family.  With God all things are possible.  Pray, do what YOU can do and trust God to help you overcome the effects of sin in your relationships with others.  Our God is able and He is with us!

"Father, the consequences of sin and the problems caused are many and they weigh heavily on our hearts.  Thank You for Your grace to me, for I, too, have sinned against You and others.  As David prayed for cleansing, so must I.  Then help me, Lord, to seek reconciliation with those who are estranged from me.  As You forgive my sin, help me to be eager and willing to forgive others, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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