Love Will Keep Us Together, by Terry Francis (10/14/09)

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Danger Ahead!, by Terry Francis (10/13/09)

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Nathan and David: Confronting a Friend

Before getting to today’s post, I want to thank Terry Francis for willingly providing today’s guest article. He is doing a fantastic job in our gospel meeting this week. He has been talking to us about Connecting and Conquering, that is, about the importance of congregational unity in order to fight the battles against the real enemy. As of the posting of this article, he has two lessons to go. Tuesday, October 13, at 7 pm, his lesson is entitled, “Danger Ahead!” and discusses what churches need to do when fellowship breaks down. The first three lessons all focused on how to be united in the face of the battle, this one takes a look at what to do when the fellowship starts to break down. Then on Wednesday, October 14, at 7 pm, his lesson is entitled “Love Will Keep Us Together.” We’ll look at how we can love each other as Jesus loved us so we can fight the enemy and not each other. Hope you can make it.

And now for the post:

Nathan and David: Confronting a Friend

It must have been frightening. The historical account doesn’t detail how Nathan was directed—it simply says, “Then the Lord sent Nathan to David…” (2 Sam. 12:1). Nathan wasn’t to confront just any man about his sins—he was sent to confront the king of Israel. Who would dare rebuke a king? But how could Nathan dare say “No” to God? Nathan’s acceptance of God’s command resulted in one of the most familiar confrontations ever recorded in scripture.

The scriptures suggest that Nathan was more than just a prophet of God. Nathan was informed of David’s desire to build God a temple (2 Sam. 7). David’s second son was possibly named after the prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 5:14). Nathan named David’s second son by Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:25). Nathan remained loyal to David during the rebellion of Adonijah and anointed Solomon as king (1 Kings 1). The Lord didn’t just send a prophet to confront David, He sent a friend.

It was Nathan’s relationship with David that formed his approach. David had gone to great lengths to cover up his iniquity. Meanwhile, God had been preparing David’s heart for the confrontation ahead. David wrote, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3–4). God’s heavy hand no doubt softened the calloused heart of the king, but it was the well-crafted approach of a friend that pricked his heart. Notice the wisdom of Nathan’s approach:

Nathan used David’s experience as a shepherd (2 Sam. 12:3–4).

The choice of a lamb was purposeful. Who could deny that? Nathan appealed to the heart of the shepherd boy turned king. If anyone understood the love for a special lamb, it would be the former shepherd.

Nathan appealed to David’s wisdom and judgment (2 Sam. 12:1–6).

As king, David had judged numerous times for the people. He served as the equivalent of today’s Supreme Court hearing and judging the most difficult cases. While David’s personal life was plagued by guilt and misery resulting from sin, the king was still capable of executing righteous judgment. Nathan understood this and appealed to David’s judgment.

Nathan appealed to David’s knowledge of the Law.

The subject of Nathan’s story violated a number of Mosaic Laws. He violated the tenth commandment, which forbids one from coveting anything belonging to his neighbor (Ex. 20:17). David’s pronounced judgment of restoring the lamb fourfold was a direct application of Exodus 22:1, “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.” As David’s friend, Nathan understood the king’s knowledge of the Law.

It was Nathan’s knowledge of his friend that equipped him to confront David with great wisdom. David’s anger was quickly aroused as he pronounced his righteous judgment. He failed to see that he had sought to remove the speck from another’s eye while a beam extended from his own (Matt. 7:1–5). Nathan responded to David, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). David had pronounced judgment on himself. His God-softened heart had finally been defeated by the loving rebuke of his friend. He responded with a penitent heart (2 Sam. 12:13). 

Nathan was the best friend David ever had. Nathan could have defended his friend. He could have attempted to justify the sins of David. But rather than cower before the king, Nathan rose to the challenge and helped turn his friend back to God. James wrote, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20). Nathan saved David’s soul from death. That’s friendship! The wise man said, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). The darkest hours of life reveal the greatest friendships.

We need to learn from David. Rather than respond with bitterness towards Nathan, David saw the love of a friend. He responded with godly sorrow that produced repentance. He understood what courage it must have taken for his friend to confront him.  We should seek to imitate David’s response to a rebuke.

We also need to learn from Nathan. True friendship is manifested in the willingness to save a friend’s soul despite the risks. Nathan knew his rebuke of the king could have cost him a friendship and possibly his life. He was willing to risk it all to save the king—to save his friend.

 -by Terry Francis

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Unstoppable, by Terry Francis (10/12/09)

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Operation Assimilation, by Terry Francis (10/11/09)

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Relationships Worth the Risk, by Terry Francis (10/11/09)

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Pass the Pain, Please

Before we get to today’s article, let me explain the special treat it represents. Terry Francis, of Collierville, TN, is with us this week in a Gospel Meeting. He is preaching about Connecting and Conquering; how we as a congregation can unite and then go out and win the battle against our enemy, the devil. This article is a treat from Terry, an example of his teaching. If you didn’t make today’s assemblies, come join us some time this week. We’ll be meeting Monday through Wednesday at 7 pm. And now, Terry’s article.

Pass the Pain, Please

Children hate eating their vegetables—especially the green leafy variety. Any child given the choice of eating chocolate cake or broccoli is going to choose the cake. The words, “Pass the broccoli, please” would be shocking to the ears of a parent. We all like cake better. But broccoli is better for us. It has a greater nutritional value. We may like the cake, but we need the broccoli.

Life can often be categorized in two ways: pleasure and pain. All of us like pleasure more. We want times of joy and laughter. We want to feel good about life. We don’t want the pain and agony of suffering. The pleasure is the cake. Pain is the broccoli. We need pain. It is vital to our spiritual development.

The statement “we need pain” seems odd. In fact, it seems downright insane. The wise writer said, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (Eccl. 7:2–4). Mourning is better than feasting? Sorrow is better than laughter? Absolutely. We need pain. We should all consider the benefits of pain.

Pain is a good gift.

We don’t think of pain in that way. But if God allows pain to occur, it must be good for us. Jesus asked the question, “…which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9–11). Everything God gives us is good. It works out to be good for us (Rom. 8:28). Often we think God is giving us a serpent when He is actually handing us fish. The pain helps us grow and mature. It is good for us.

Pain serves as the evidence of our ability to feel. 

Gerald Sittser wrote, “Pain…is the flipside of pleasure. The nerve that tells us of one also tells us of the other” (A Grace Disquised, p. 45). Without pain, we could never experience joy. Without tears, we would never laugh. Perhaps that’s why Paul told the Roman brethren to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:5). It is impossible to cry with people you can’t laugh with. The preacher wrote there was a “time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl. 3:4). The emotions of joy and pain are forever connected. One serves as proof that the other is alive and well. Without pain, we could never rejoice. It is indeed a blessing to us all.

Pain serves as a reminder that we need God. 

Paul prayed three times for the thorn in the flesh to be removed (2 Cor. 12:7–10).  Three times God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Whatever Paul’s thorn was, it is quite clear it served as a source of pain—a “…messenger of Satan to harass…” But God allowed the painful thorn to continue to harass Paul. The thorn served as a reminder to Paul that without God he would be nothing. Paul’s weakness was an opportunity for God’s power to be seen. Paul knew that he needed God. We need to be reminded of that fact: “I need God.” Pain shows us that we are weak. God’s grace makes us strong even in times of weakness.

Pain helps us long for heaven.

Perhaps the best benefit of a healthy serving of pain is the motivation it gives us to strive for eternal life. The pain of this life should motivate us for a home in heaven. A place where there is no suffering, no night, no pain, no agony, no crying, etc. (Rev. 21:3–4). Pain reminds us there is a better place than this. This world is truly not our home. And we don’t want it to be! We want a home that is filled with the richness and goodness of heaven—not the pain of earth.

Perhaps a sign of maturity is asking for more broccoli. Adults recognize the nutritional value of broccoli. Some even grow to like the taste. We don’t have to find pleasure in pain but we do need to see it as a healthy part of spiritual growth. It helps us become who we need to be. God’s grace is sufficient for us, too! In weakness we are made strong. Perhaps we should say, “Pass the pain please.” 

-Terry Francis

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I Can’t Fix Them, I Should Just Work on Me

I’m so excited about our upcoming meeting with Terry Francis on October 11-14. Here’s a taste of what brother Francis will bring us. Thanks for the guest post, Terry.

I Can’t Fix Them, I Should Just Work On Me

The Bob the Builder song is recognizable to many: “Bob the builder, can he fix it? Bob the builder, yes he can!” Peyton used to watch “Bob the Builder.” Today, kids watch “Handy Manny.” Both shows promote the same idea. With their assortment of animated tools, Bob and Manny can fix anything that is broken. While they complete the repair or construction project at hand, they also fix other people in the process.

Sometimes we suffer from the “Bob the Builder” syndrome. Insert your name to understand this problem: “_____________ the builder, can he fix it? ______________ the builder, yes he can!” Many suffer from this problem. We go through life attempting to fix every problem there is. We attempt to fix our mate, our kids, our friends, our brethren, etc.

If you suffer from “Bob the Builder” syndrome here is my advice: STOP! We have to stop trying to fix other people. All who suffer from “Bob the Builder” syndrome must realize we are incapable of fixing others. One can teach his brethren how to avoid sinful behavior, but he can’t fix them by making them stop their behavior. Each person must fix himself. A father can teach his children about the value of hard work and dedication, but he can’t make them practice those values. Each of his children must make their own choices. A husband can lead in a godly way but he can’t force his wife to practice godly submission. She must make that choice. Often people feel compelled to fix other people in these areas because it is a reflection of their character. It isn’t. The behavior of other people does not define you.

It is interesting to note that in 1 Peter 3, Peter tells wives who have unbelieving husbands how to win them over. Peter didn’t say, “Fix him by preaching to him every morning and evening about the value of following God and going to heaven.” In contrast Peter said, “…be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1). Peter’s instruction was to encourage the unbelieving husband by being the best person they could be—not by fixing him.

One reason so many pretend to be “Bob the Builder” is it provides a good distraction. As long as one is fixing others around him, he can avoid fixing himself. Jesus spoke of the judging brother who sought to remove a speck from his brother’s eye instead of removing the log from his own (Matthew 7:3–5). The mistakes of others provide a distraction from being accountable. Fixing others is easier—and coincidentally more fun—than honestly evaluating and correcting one’s own mistakes. It’s similar to the neighborhood barber whose hair is shaggy and un-kept. He’s simply too busy fixing other people to take care of himself.

Start your recovery from “Bob the Builder” syndrome today. Focus on fixing yourself instead of others. That doesn’t mean you stop teaching and instructing those you love. It simply means you teach and allow them the freedom to choose how they respond. They may decide not to listen. If that is their choice, we must choose our own response. As parents, that may involve discipline. As brethren, it can also involve discipline when the church is involved. We must allow others to choose their own path—to fix their own life.

Isn’t that how God treats us? He could have fixed us against our own will. Instead, He simply gave us the Gospel and allows us to choose to fix our own lives. None of us will be held accountable for fixing anyone else—we are all accountable for fixing our own life. Stop fixing others and start fixing yourself today!

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