dave-997613_960_720  Dave grew up a country kid, on the family farm, the youngest of 8 brothers. And while his brothers were the handsome, athletic types always popular with the girls, Dave was rugged and fastidiously dedicated to God. In fact, it was his earnest dedication to the Lord that drove him to work the farm with incomparable vigor, completing his chores with dedication and care, pleasing his father while his brothers were more likely to participate in typical teenage high jinks.

Eventually, following a long family tradition, one by one Dave’s older brothers all enlisted in the military, leaving Dave the only son helping on the farm. But when war broke out and the enemy was advancing, Dave felt compelled to join his brothers in service to his country. Dave was too young, and many thought he was also too small, but he proved to have great skill in combat and he found victory over the enemy at every turn.

Such was his military success that he quickly advanced through the ranks, soon becoming the commander of an elite unit of specially trained fighting men. Dave and his special forces unit fought valiantly, often outnumbered, and boldly performed their duties like no other unit in the entire army. The entire country knew of the successes of Dave and his elite fighting force. Dave was a true living hero and all the while his prayerful commitment to God never wavered.

After two grueling years of constant battle, Dave and his unit were given leave for a month and returned home. And it was there, on this leave, that the seemingly infallible Dave found his trouble. At a party for the men, Dave saw Beth for the first time. With her dark hair and curvaceous figure, Dave was captivated from first sight. The only problem was; Beth was married…to one of the men under Dave’s command. It was obvious even to Dave that what he was thinking was wrong.

Dave knew if he prayed to God he might find respite from his lustful thoughts, but that’s not the path he chose. No, Dave elected to entertain his carnal thoughts of Beth until they became an irresistible longing. And with the precision and skill he employed as a warrior, he soon engineered the encounter that would result in his adulterous affair with Beth. Dave, the hero, the man with ironclad commitment to the Lord, had fallen to the lascivious thoughts he refused to bring before his God.

When leave was over, and Dave and his men had returned to the war, news soon reached him that Beth was pregnant. Now her husband had spent the entire leave in the hospital, recovering from his battle wounds, so there was no chance this child belonged to him. It was undoubtedly Dave’s and Dave knew it. Faced with the consequences of such a scandalous affair, Dave knew his days as a hero would soon be over if he was found out. He needed a plan, but what could he do?

Beth’s husband was a gallant and dedicated soldier who never had the opportunity on his leave to enjoy marital relations with his wife due to his injuries, but was now back with his unit. And Dave, his commander, hatched a plan to get himself out of the predicament in which he found himself. As his men engaged in a heated battle, he sent Beth’s husband forward, alone, to reconnoiter the enemy. And when he was gone, Dave ordered his men to retreat. Beth’s husband, alone in enemy territory, was soon overcome and killed, as Dave knew he would be. Problem solved.

Or so he thought. It wasn’t long before Dave’s best friend and confidant, Nate, knowing something was wrong, drew the truth out of him. And quite abruptly, the guilt came over Dave in full force. Suddenly, the war hero was a broken man. A very broken man. In his brokenness and grief, Dave did the only thing he knew to do – he cried out to God.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.  (Psalm 51:1-17)

Many people assume that the Bible is a story about really good people who served God in perfect, saintly faithfulness – but King David wrote Psalm 51 after the prophet, Nathan, confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah. David, called “a man after God’s own heart” had committed the worst of sins. What gives?

The truth is, being “a man after God’s own heart” is not about being perfect at all. It’s about being reconciled to God; it’s about seeking Him even when we fail. It’s about recognizing His sovereign nature as our Holy Creator and understanding our desperate need for Him.

Sin separates us from God. And Jesus provides the “bridge” by which we can be rejoined to God. For “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And if we recognize our sinful state and “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

I hope you never commit sins as egregious as David’s, but no matter what sins you have committed, please know that no one has fallen too far to be beyond the ability of God to forgive. Jesus stands ready to breathe new life into your soul if you would only ask.

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More Than the Sum of Your Parts

math-1547018_960_720 Not all of us are good at math, but most of us can manage the simple calculations of life. Adding up the pennies in our pocket, for instance, or subtracting the dollars from our wallets when it’s time to pay the bills. But it seems most people miss one truly simple calculation – one equals two.

That’s right….one equals two!  It’s very simple math, really. Since I grew up in the era of “show your work,” pencil-on-paper mathematics, I’ll write out the equation for you: 1H=2P.  Still don’t get it? It’s easy: one human (1H) has (=) two parts (2P). Get it now?

Assuming you are alone, when you look in the mirror you see only one being, right? But deep inside that being lives a soul. Everyone has one. And while they are joined as one right now, eventually the body will cease to exist and the soul will live on. The Bible says: “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

And Jesus clearly drew the distinction between body and soul in this statement from Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is a very interesting distinction, too, in that Jesus draws a comparison between man, who only has the ability to destroy the body, and God, who has the unique ability of being able to destroy both.

And the Apostle Paul, points out that the soul is either in the body as we are today, or with the Lord: “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

And our earthly striving for success is profitless if it destroys our soul: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Think about that for a moment. What are you trying to achieve right now? Success at work? Money for retirement? Fame and notoriety? Is what you are seeking worth your soul?

Our soul is eternal. The body is not. Many people these days spend a lot of time focusing on their body. It almost sounds sinful when we learn of someone who isn’t visiting the gym regularly or running a marathon or otherwise pursuing fitness with some amount of passion. And it’s probably safe to assume people who work out on a regular basis are more fit than ever. But there’s a dirty little secret about people who are faithful in fitness: they’re all going to die anyway.

But when we “die” what is really happening is our soul is being liberated from our body. And our body, no matter what shape it was in just moments earlier, will instantly begin to decay. But our soul lives on and it is there that we will face our eternal reward. It is there we will give an account for every word, thought, and deed. For it is appointed to man to die once and after that comes judgment (ref. Hebrews 9:27).

It is there, when we are free from our mortal body and standing naked before our glorious Creator giving account for ourselves, that we will truly realize the value of our soul. But God already knows the value of your soul: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

So while many seem to believe God only wants to restrict, confine, or condemn; we see He really sets us free. For the person who accepts the love of Christ is free indeed: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

Have you recognized the true value and eternal nature of your soul? Do you desire to be truly free at last? Why not make today the day you ask God for His free gift of life? There’s no magic formula for this….just talk to Him….honestly.

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