The Death of A King

He was arguably the greatest king in the history of God’s people, yet now he lay on his death bed. His servants had brought in a young woman for his pleasure and warmth, but he chose to not have sex with her.

As he reflected over his life, he couldn’t help but remember all the highs and lows. He was a man who was overlooked by prophets, but noticed by the Lord. He rose out of the shepherd’s fields into the throne room of Israel. He spent a large portion of his younger years on the run, before the demise of his predecessor.

He brought about stability in the kingdom, but that was not the end of the story.

While his loyal troops were at war, his cowardice and laziness led him to stay behind. His lust filled his heart and mind, he had his servants bring a woman into him that was not his to know intimately. She was no willing participant in what took place. His lust led to a child, which led to murder in an attempt to cover up his grievous sin.

He prayerfully asked God for forgiveness, but the consequences of what he had done were still present. He lost his son, and late in life had his other son strive to kill him and take the throne.

His life was full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, this is the story of King David.

Recently I’ve been teaching through the book of 1-2 Kings with our students. We take it passage by passage, looking at how the people of God had a choice of who they would worship, what word they would listen to (God or man), and ultimately what weaknesses every human king had.

At the start of 1 Kings, David is dying. In the midst of political intrigue, his wife Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet approach David asking for David to make Solomon king.

What I want to draw your attention to is what David says. Remember, he’s been through so much in life. He’s seen his life in danger due to his faithfulness to God, and he’s seen his life in danger due to his sin.

Yet in summary, look what he says about his life.

And the king swore, saying, "As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, - 1 Kings 1:29

The Lord lives.

The Lord has delivered David out of every adversity he has faced.

This is what David wholeheartedly believed, and with the perspective we have given the whole canon of Scripture, we know this to be true.

That’s the Lord that you and I serve.

Someone who redeems.

Rescues.

Delivers.

Out of every adversity.

But there’s something even more powerful that I want you to consider, and it shows up later on in the story. David dies in chapter two, Solomon rises up and builds the temple for God’s presence to reside in. Solomon then breaks every command of God about what a king should be like (Deuteronomy 17), showing that contrary to popular church belief he was the most knowledgable king of Israel, but he was not the wisest (but that is a blog for another day).

Solomon’s vile and wicked sin leads to his destruction and the destruction of the kingdom. The kingdom splits in two, with Jeroboam on the throne in the north and Rehoboam on the throne in the south.

Jeroboam leads the people of God into idolatry via worshipping golden calves (sound familiar? Exodus 32 has a similar story, showing that we are prone to repeat the sins of our fathers). The prophet Ahijah then tells Jeroboam’s wife that destruction is coming on their family due to their sin.

But nestled in this prophetic word of destruction is the following:

yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes – 1 Kings 14:8

Uh, what?

Murder. Adultery. Cowardice.

Those were the sins of David.

Yet the prophet proclaims that God sees David as a man who followed Him with all of his heart.

Why can he say that?

Because of David’s repentance.

Perfection is not the sign of someone who follows Jesus.

Repentance is.

David, unlike his foolish son Solomon, did not walk in his sin. When he had sin brought to light in his life, he turned from it, and walked in righteousness instead.

Church, the message of the Bible is not sanctification by works.

We don’t become like Jesus by trying really hard.

We become like Jesus through repentance.

Confession.

Acknowledging our need for a Savior.

When I die, I want to say with David that God brought me out of every adversity.

When I die, I want to be remembered as a man who was full of sin yet had a heart that was fully given over to God.

That’s my prayer.

That’s my hope.

David knew his need.

I want to close with a quote.

Because if that’s what you are (a righteous, Kingdom-seeking saint), you’ll probably feel more like a sinful, desperate cur who can get out of bed each day only because you’ve managed once again to believe that Christ’s mercy is made new every time the sun ascends. – Andrew Peterson

That may sound kind of defeatist, but that’s not my intention for sharing it.

My intention is to acknowledge that the more we grow in our faith, the more we should see the cross, the more we should depend on grace, the more wretched we see ourselves to be without Christ. We shouldn’t grow confident in our behaviors.

Church, let’s be like David.

Let’s worship the Lord who draws us out of every adversity and who gives us grace for every weakness and failure.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Confessions of a Perfectionist

Matthew 5:48 used to put me in chains.

Be perfect therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48

In college, this verse led to so much pain in my life. Instead of realizing this verse was to show us that we could never measure up to the perfection of God the Father, I made it my standard.

Now, yes, the Bible is replete with references to being holy because God is holy, of striving to live worthy of the call of God. That being said, the Bible never expects us to be perfect humans in our own strength. Let me say that again and make sure you see both sides of that statement.

The Bible never expects us to be perfect humans in our own strength.

Oh, how I missed this message in the Scriptures.

Instead of allowing my imperfections to drive me to the power of the Spirit, I allowed them to shame me of doing things that now embarrass me. Let me lay it out for you.

I put my faith in Jesus and what He did for me on the cross on December 24, 2000. I was seven years old.

What this means is that the vast majority of sins I have committed in my life have come after putting my faith in Jesus. So what began in college was a process of dealing with that sin in an unbiblical way.

I would live for Christ, having verses about being perfect always on my mind and heart. Yet over the course of weeks and months sin would pile up in my life. Instead of repenting of it and accepting grace, I would naively and foolishly simply restart my life with Christ. This would look like buying a new journal, buying a new Bible, buying a new Bible study or Christian book and simply beginning afresh (this often involved getting rid of those things that I had previously been using for my spiritual life).

My life was all about being perfect and shoving sin back down into my heart by simply pretending like I was starting afresh. To talk about it in Christianese terms, I made private rededications to God dozens of times. The first few days of a ‘rededication’ would be absolutely great. But then the weight of all of my sin would come crashing back down on me.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Two years ago, while in Phoenix, God spoke through my now wife and through His Word to tell me clearly the following: stop running, accept grace. All of my rededications didn’t have the power to change a stinking thing in my life. When faced with the reality of my sin, I was running away from the very One who had died in my place, the very One who I could find rest in.

Stop running, accept grace.

Maybe you are somewhat like me. Maybe you are constantly under the weight of the call to be perfect. Maybe you are trying to be that perfect man or woman under your own power. My encouragement to you is found in the following verses.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:4

Even typing this up in my office brings my heart to worship. Oh, how I wish I had searched the entirety of Scripture for what it says about being perfect.

Let’s meditate on 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 together.

In that passage, someone is doing the following:

  •      Sanctifying you completely
  •      Keeping your spirit blameless until Christ comes again
  •      Keeping your soul blameless until Christ comes again
  •      Keeping your body blameless until Christ comes again

Is it you?

NO.

The Scriptures make clear that it is God, the one who calls you, the Faithful One, who does this work in your heart and life.

HE. WILL. SURELY. DO. IT.

That gets me animated in preaching, teaching, and in this case blogging.

HE. WILL. SURELY. DO. IT.

That verse does not say, and you will surely do it. You will keep yourself blameless and holy. No! It says He will.

I just had the temptation to run down the hall of my church. This seriously gets me so excited.

The pressure is off my tiny little shoulders.

We are called in Scripture to be perfect and holy.

But this is not on our strength.

No, it is done by God, and according to James 1:4 it is often done through the difficulties of our lives. This is a small reminder that everything in our lives, including the rough parts, are used for His glory by making us more like Him.

I wish I could tell you that I have never felt the urge to run since God called me out of my rededication addiction in October 2016. I wish I could tell you I have perfectly embraced the reality that I will not ever be perfect under my own strength. That’s not the case. But looking at my shelf right now and seeing two years worth of journals is a reminder that I’m no longer running from the past.

Yes, you are called by God through Scripture to pursue holiness and Christlikeness. It is an active thing. That being said, it requires resting in the finished work of the Faithful One on your behalf.

The pressure is off your shoulders.

The pressure of perfection was placed on Jesus Christ and He accomplished what we could not.

You are called to be blameless and perfect.

HE. WILL. SURELY. DO. IT.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

 

On My Shelf: January 11, 2018

Well, I didn’t get as much reading done in the last couple weeks as I would have liked. That being said, the two books I did read were solid.

Perfect Sinners by Matt Fuller (7/10)

The tagline of this book is “See yourself as God sees you”. This one was personally beneficial to me. I honestly expected more from it, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations or where I thought Fuller was going to take it, but it was encouraging and good.

Many of us allow our walk with God to determine how we ‘feel’ that our status with God is. So, when sin comes and rears its ugly head in our lives, we begin to feel as if our status with God has changed and that He no longer looks upon us with love and affection. This book will make the argument time and again that our status with God should determine our walk with God. So if we understand what Scripture says about how God views us, our lives should be different as a result.

My two favorite chapters were:

How strong does my faith need to be?  – As I’ve written about in length in a previous blog, some of my alone time in high school and early college was spent wondering if my faith was strong enough for salvation or strong enough for being in spiritual leadership. This chapter will strongly encourage the reader to stop worrying about the level of their faith and instead focus on the object of their faith. So if you tend to worry about how good of a Christian you feel like you need to be to obtain God’s love, read this chapter and remember that God loves you so much that He sent His son to die for you.

Why is change so slow? – This was easily my favorite. There are sins that seem to take years and years to remove from my life. There are seasons of success and failure, but it seems to take forever to stir my heart for Jesus in such a way that my behavior changes. This chapter reminds the reader that our culture is all about instantaneous results, but sanctification takes decades in some areas. This chapter will also encourage you to simultaneously look at the cross and take sin seriously, for this is the way to grow spiritually by reminding ourselves of grace and putting sin to death.

The reason it only got a seven is because it seemed a little disconnected at times and there was a chapter on heavenly rewards that was solid but seemed to take a little bit away from the freedom to live that the book set out to establish in the Christian’s life.

So if you wrestle with God’s love for you despite your consistent sin, read this one. It will set you free to live out what is already your status before God because of Christ. Give it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

Word-Centered Church by Jonathan Leeman (9/10)

This one had me writing and journaling like a madman. This one intimidated me at first, as it is a 9 Marks book and at least to me those can be a little heady, despite being sound and solid.

Once I actually pushed past the first chapter, I was drawn into thinking deeper and deeper about what it would look like for our churches to be Word-Centered. This book, (much like Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry) looks at many aspects of the local church and how to build them upon the Word of God. This means more than just saying a slogan about the Bible or having the inerrancy of the Bible as one of your ‘What We Believe’ statements. Rather, building your church around the Word means singing Scripture, preaching Scripture (not just self-help or motivational messages with Scripture sprinkled in to affirm your points), designing small-groups around Scripture, etc.

Much like Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry, reading this book was like reading my passions and desires being articulated wisely by someone who is much more seasoned in ministry than me. From a young age I loved Scripture, and as I’ve grown I’ve desired to see it taught well and rightly.

My two favorite chapters were:

The Sermon Announces – This one was like reading my statement of belief regarding preaching. This chapter reminded me that the job of the pastor is to announce what God has already said through a Biblical passage, not use the passage to announce what you think. Man this one is convicting to me, challenging to me, and it lights a fire in me to see pastors around the globe stop using their Bibles to prove their points and beliefs, but rather announcing afresh what God has already said to be true via Scripture. That’s a humongous difference, and one that hugely impacts the health of the church long-term. Are you using Scripture or announcing Scripture?

The Church Prays – This chapter prompted a previous blog of mine about how our churches pray prayers that non-Christians would not be confused by. This chapter calls our churches into deeper prayers, Scriptural prayers for one another that go deeper than good health and financial needs. This one convicted me big time as I pray for family and friends. I tend to pray for surface-level stuff, or needs that have been brought to my attention. But I rarely if ever have prayed deep Scriptural prayers with eternal implications.

The reason this one didn’t get a perfect score for me is because it was still a little heady.

I enjoyed reading these two books during my New Year’s Day time off, so pick them up and give them a read!

In His Name,

Nathan Roach