Sweetarts in Life (2 Samuel 19:4-6)


Do you remember your childhood favorite candies. One of mine was Sweetarts. I remember when they came out. They were a two inch disk that packed the best of both worlds in candy: sweetness and tartness. This candy reminds me much about life: it is filled with sweet events and also events that are tart. Things have changed since then: both my tastes and also the size of the candy, but life is still the same.

For the believer, blessing and sorrow come in the same package, it is in times of deepest hurt and sorrow when God will be present to strengthen and comfort you. The problem for many is that because their focus is so much on the hurt and sorrow, they fail to recognize God’s presence or working in their lives. David experienced just such an event.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 2 Samuel 19:4-6

He sorrowed so greatly over the loss of his son that he failed to see his victory blessing and the goodness of the Lord in the people that supported him.

As you face difficulties in your life such as financial strain, an unwanted diagnosis or any type of loss, remember that the event–as a two sided coin–has more that one aspect to it. Trials and struggles will come, but the Lord has promised always to be present with you even in the midst of the struggle and he promises to see that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)

What you can do as you face trials is to stop and pray to the Lord. Acknowledge that you know he allowed this event to occur and you believe that he wants to work and manifest his presence in the trial. Pray for him to guide you and to help you recognize his workings. Rest assured: although it may take time, he will answer your prayer.

Be All That You Should Be


Have you ever lived in the shadow of a parent or an elder sibling? If so, you constantly strove to either be like them or to overcome their accomplishments. As you may have discovered, it is a very frustrating way to live. What you or those people need is to be yourselves. This problem happens with so many people in the world, but it also happens in the spiritual lives of many.

You are what you are because it is what God is making you to be. If You follow him and allow him to work his will, he will continue to work in your life to make you exactly as he planned. You should not allow others to force upon you what they think you should be, what they want you to be or even what they may need you to be. Your goal should be to dwell in Christ and allow God by grace to work in your life and produces fruit as he sees fit.

As always, sin can destroy you and God’s plan. You can escape it’s clutch by heeding to God’s word. (Psalm 119:9). You cannot do this in your own power, but as you recognize your weakness and look to God for strength, he will deliver you from the temptation.

Trials and difficulties will come, but you must recognize them as God’s instruments for pruning and cultivating you so as to grow and produce more fruit. Each day, you should grow more in his likeness and whatever that may be, it will make you be what you are and that will be according to his plan.

Religion Still Doesn’t Work

Since nearly the beginning, sin has separated man from God and with it has brought sorrow, sickness, and emptiness in the heart of man. Throughout time, man has sought to overcome these troubles in his life and to accomplish it created religious acts or rituals, which were intended to appease God of his wrath or at the least turn away the consequences of sin that he faced.

These acts involved offering to God everything from crops to human sacrifices, the punishment of sinners or the punishment of themselves. Always, the results were unsuccessful. David described it best when he spoke to the Lord concerning his own condition.

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. (Psalms 38:4)

The load of sin that looms over the head of every man is so great that no religious act could ever remove the effect or its debt.

Several decades ago, a teenaged girl attended a local carnival. When she failed to return home, a search was made and eventually her lifeless body was found. For more than 30 years, law-enforcement searched for the suspected killer: who was eventually found. Should he be held for trial? Of course he should! Regardless of how long ago the event occurred, he should still be held accountable.

But what if he was found living a respectable life? What if he, for the last 20 years, had been doing a great humanitarian work? Should he still be held for trial? Should he still be charged even if he has been so sorry for his crime? The answer is a resounding, Yes! He committed a crime and the penalty for that crime must be paid.

For the last 6,000 years, man has been trying to avoid paying the penalty for his sin. But regardless of what he does, the holy righteous God still requires complete payment for sins committed. The only hope for all men would be for God to determine a way for someone else to pay the debt that man owed. God did and that person was himself. He came to earth as human. Born of a virgin, he live a lonely life and yet did not sin. Throughout his entire life he did not commit one sin. For the remaining three years of his life, he taught and performed miracles to declare who it was and the purpose for his coming to earth. Then as foretold by God, he was rejected by his people, judged by the government and punished on the cross.

However God’s purpose for allowing all this to occur was so that he could place all the sin of humanity upon himself as he hung on the cross. The beatings and torture done to Jesus were extremely grave, but nothing in comparison to the punishment that God, while still yet also in heaven, punished himself as he lived as a human hanging on the cross.

Only until Jesus cried, “It is finished!” was mankind given any hope. When Jesus finished, he was finished paying the wages for our sins – yours and mine.

For those, who continue striving to pay for their own sins or are relying on religious acts to appease God’s wrath for sin will continue to fall short and carry the burden of their sin debt. Those who call upon Christ to bear there sin, will find the relief that they need. No longer is the burden of sin going over their head or too much to bear, the burden has been removed and the payment has been made. None of their sins committed have gone unpunished. Instead of them paying the debt, someone else paid the debt for them.

In America, we have discovered that countless people have been falsely charged, found guilty and sentenced for crimes that they had never committed. Society, unknowing of their wrong, was still satisfied because the penalty of the crime was being paid.  

In your case, Jesus willingly took the charge, allowed himself to be found guilty and then paid your complete payment for sin. So that your salvation could take place when you call out to Jesus and trust that he will save you.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Pleasing to God (Colossians 3:20)

The scriptures inform us that the action of children obeying their parents is well pleasing to the Lord. 

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

It does not say that children who obey their parents are well pleasing to the Lord, but that obeying parents is pleasing to him. As a child of God which positionally puts you in Christ, God is always pleased with you. However, there may be things that you do that may be displeasing to the him.

This can be difficult for some to understand. They are locked into the thought that if a person does something that is displeasing to the Lord, then the Lord must also be displeased with them. 

What we must understand is that God does not exist in linear time. This means that God is not stuck in time like you and me only moving forward from one day to the next. Time does not affect him: he can see from the beginning to the end and from the end to the beginning.

My children, as all children, have done things that are pleasing to me and also displeasing. Some of these actions were faults and others we sins. However when I look at them and assess whether or not I am pleased with them, I am able to see and recall much of their past and even with their faults and sins, I can still truly be pleased with them.

God looks at us from eternity future. The complete workings of salvation have been accomplished and from that standpoint as he looks at you in today’s time, you are pleasing to him. You are pleasing to God because of Christ and whenever he sees you, he sees you in Christ. The actions you do may be displeasing, but you are still pleasing to him. If you remain in disobedience and continue to act in ways that displease the Lord, he may chasten you. He will do this because he takes pleasure in you, and he cannot allow you to ruin your life.

Remember, your relationship with God is completely based on the works of Christ. There is nothing that you can do that will make you any more or less acceptable to him.

Knowing Leads to Trusting

Years ago, the GI Joe cartoon had a slogan, “Knowing is half the battle.” That slogan is true for believers as well. How do you know or view God determines your level of trust. 

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psalms 9:10)

If you know God as one who is quickly angered at you and ready to judge, then you will have a difficult time trusting him. However, if you have experienced God’s faithfulness and see him as a loving father full of mercy, then you will wholeheartedly cling to him in times of trouble.  

The secret to the Christian life is not trying harder or laboring to mustarding up faith, but instead to get closer to him. Just as you and I can trust true friends but shy away from trusting strangers, we will more comfortably trust God as we move from a practically stranger relationship to one as a son resting in the bosom of his father.

Fearing God vs Being Afraid of God

There is a difference between fearing the Lord and being afraid of the Lord. The former recognizes the greatness of God and his ability to do whatever he chooses. Therefore, he submits himself to the one that he recognizes as sovereign. Those who are afraid of the Lord, do not submit themselves to a sovereign God to rule over them. They instead perform actions in an attempt to keep God from exercising his anger upon them. The former will have a love relationship with God: the latter will struggle with love and acceptance. 

How did Job respond when his world caved in upon him? He continued to fear the Lord. He remained steadfast in trusting God’s sovereignty and continued to submit himself to him. (Job 1:21) Had Job been afraid of God, would his actions have been the same? Most likely not. His actions would have more been in line with those of his accuser. If a person lives in fear and governs his actions to keep God from punishing him, how would he react when God does exercise wrath? As the accuser stated, “He will curse thee to thy face.” It would be in that manner that he would act.

God wants you to fear him, but not be afraid of him. Fearing God is respecting God for who he is and the power that he possesses. Those who fear the Lord will recognize God’s ability to raise up and to put down, to love and admonish or to rebuke and chasten, and to exercise his will because what he desires is for the benefit of those he created.

When you are afraid of God, you have a difficult time accepting his love. Being afraid and accepting love cannot cohabit because perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18). Recognize that God loves you and that any actions that he has towards you will be motivated by his love. As we seek him for our lives, blessings will flow to us from his love, but if our steps begin to slip, he by love will take whatever actions are necessary to keep us from ruining our lives.

Living a life of fearing the Lord is a joy and blessing, but living a life afraid of God is a struggle and burden.

Praise Can Be Difficult (Psalm 34:1)

Some people today have received the heart breaking news that a loved one has passed away. Others may be under the heavy burden of finances or the obligations of work. Children may be a blessing from the Lord, but as you raise them, they may make decisions that absolutely devastate your life. With life as difficult as it is, is it outlandish to think that God wants us to continually praise him?

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalms 34:1)

In order for praise to continually be in your mouth, you must have a biblical perspective of life. You must recognize that God wants to use situations in your life to either develop or display your faith. When you have this perspective on life, trials and blessings are recognized as instruments for God’s glory. Remember, how you see life determines how you respond to it.

To praise is to boast. True praise boasts on the goodness of God and it has two purposes: to magnify the Lord and to encourage others to do the same. It is intended to be public so that others will hear. When you praise the Lord, you not only magnify him, but you solicited others to do the same.

My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. (Psalms 34:2)

Praise is not an attitude that you can just conjure up. It results from acts of trust. Throughout the Psalm, David declares the works that the Lord has done for him. Occasions of deliverance, hearing of prayers and encouragements all resulted from him trusting the Lord and because of them, praise flowed from his lips.

As you face difficult trials in your life, turn your heart to the Lord. Yield yourself to whatever he wants to accomplish and as you do, his spirit will guide your heart to the treasures that he has in store and enable you to praise him.