Friday, October 31, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 16

This week, we looked at how David handles an attack by the Amalekites on his people.  1 Samuel 30 opens with David and his men coming upon Ziklag, a Philistine outpost where he and his men have been hiding from Saul. When they get there, they discover that the city has been burned down and all of their families and possessions were gone, stolen by raiding Amalekites.

How could this happen? David is out trying to defeat Philistines, doing God’s work. Let’s look a little at what David was doing that kept him away from protecting his family. In chapter 29, we find David was in a year-long ploy to double-cross the Philistines. He had been hiding among them, and they were about to attack Saul. David offers to go into battle with them, all the while planning to double-cross them.  The advisors to the Philistine leader express that they think it is a bad idea to bring David and his men with them, so David is sent away. It seemed like such a great plan, but it was all for naught. Why?

Remember that Saul is a type of the law, while David is a type of grace. There are also a few other important types to understand. In the Old Testament, Egypt is a type for the world, the Philistines a type for our sin, and the Amalekites a type for unprovoked attack.  Law and grace do not mix. You cannot battle sin with a mix of law and grace. You can’t succeed in defeating sin with law, and you cannot do it mixing grace with some law.

David is prevented from going into battle against the Philistines in conjunction with Saul. That actually never happened in the story of these two kings, they never went into battle together against Philistines.  While David was out trying to do something that was outside of his purpose – specifically attempting a futile battle against “sin,” the Amalekites attack. This was an unprovoked attack. Have you ever been cruising along and felt like you were attacked for no reason?  I have always taught that there are three sources of trouble in life. There is certainly our sin that produces trouble. Sometimes the enemy is attacking. The third is “Amalekite” attacks, those troubles we face simply because the world is a mess, and other people do things that make a mess for us.

When David and his men see what has happened, it says that they wept until they could weep no more. All of their strength was gone. I know we have all been there before. The book of Psalms records David’s struggles in dealing with the troubles in life. He often asks God “what gives?” That is my paraphrase, of course. God knows we are human and that we get tired and frustrated with the things that happen in life sometimes. In the Psalms, we frequently see how David moves from that emotion to confidence and victory by reminding himself of how big God is and what He had done in the past.

David does the same here. His life was at a low point. Since he was anointed to be the next king, the current king sought to kill him and now he had lost his family. If that was not bad enough, now David’s men, in their frustration, want to kill him. Instead of doing what condemnation would do – which is recount all the ways in which he may have failed that caused this turn of events, he “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  That is the first step. After we’ve cried it all out and dealt with the emotion, we need to find strength in the Lord. That will only happen when we have a revelation of grace. We must know that, by the blood of Jesus, we deserve God to strengthen us.

David did not do what we so often do – make an emotional decision to take revenge on the Amalekites. It would have satisfied his emotions and might have appeased his men who wanted to kill him. Instead he found strength in God and then went right to God’s presence to inquire of God what to do next.  He goes to the priest and says, “bring me the ephod.” The ephod was a priestly garment made of precious metals and gems. In its center was a breastplate that was used in seeking God’s direction for the people. David was not a priest. He had no business under the law being near the ephod, but he needed to talk to God and saw the law as no obstacle.

David took a breath, let the emotions cool down and asked God what to do. We would have so much less trouble if we would follow that model. God tells him that he will be successful if he attacks the Amalekites.  Ultimately, David does successfully attack and recover all that was lost including all of their family members and all the plunder that the raiders had taken from other Philistine camps.

 How powerful we can be in this world to redeem it for God’s kingdom if we will walk in the grace He has given us!

 To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Part 15 Two Kings Two Thrones

This week, we looked at an interaction between David and a man named Nabal in 1 Samuel 25.  Nabal lives in Carmel. In Carmel, Saul had built a memorial to his own glory. This is the same place that Saul was told that he would no longer be king because he disobeyed God by sparing the life of King Agag the Amalekite. At the time, it seemed that was a harsh punishment for one mistake. When we read our Bible, we find out that King Agag’s life is spared, and he continues having children. Out of those children descends Haman. Haman is the one in the book of Esther who nearly destroys ALL of the Jewish people. Saul’s disobedience almost caused the destruction of God’s people – if not for God working through Esther and Mordecai.  Sometimes we don’t realize the significance of obeying God. It is not the act of disobedience that is the problem, but the fruit of that act. God’s grace and his mercy overcame Saul’s disobedience.


Nabal is devoted to King Saul who, as we have been studying, is a type and picture of the law, while David is a type and picture of grace. David sends his men to ask Nabal to share food with them from a festival that is about to be celebrated. Nabal refuses and insults the name of David. Remember that law (and those committed to it) hates grace and is jealous of it.  David’s men return and report what Nabal had said. David’s response was “grab your swords,” and let’s not let him disrespect us like that. Now, this is not in the character or in the purpose for David. He is about to make a grave mistake. vowed to destroy every male in Nabal’s household, which was the ultimate humiliation of a family name. 

Word of Nabal’s response to David gets to Abigail, Nabal’s wife. She is infuriated by her husband’s actions. She sets out to make things right with David. She arrives and convinces David that attacking Nabal is a foolish idea. She reminds him that doing what he plans makes him no better than Nabal or Saul and that his actions could adversely affect his purpose.  In this story, I believe Abigail is a picture of the Holy Spirit. You see, first we are told that she did NOT talk to Nabal. The Holy Spirit is not able to talk to law or reason with it. It talks to and through grace. She warns David in the same way that the Holy Spirit warns us when we are about to step outside of God’s will for us.  

In John chapters 14-16, Jesus talks a great deal about the Holy Spirit that would come to man after He completed His work. Among the things that we are told about the Holy Spirit is that He is a Counselor to us. The word used here for counselor is not like a person you go to for a counseling session. It is a legal term. It is best defined as one who assists those in trouble with the law, not just a lawyer but something beyond that. Isn’t that what we need? Our sin puts us in trouble with the “law.” 

Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will convict us in sin and righteousness. Convict does not mean to condemn. Convict means to point you to the truth. The Holy Spirit not only tells us when we have already messed up, but it warns us when we are moving in the wrong direction. He is also there when we mess up and do that wrong thing anyway. That is when He reminds us that we are still righteous before God because of what Jesus did for us. He also reminds us to run to God when we sin and not hide in condemnation.   David heard from this voice of the Spirit in Abigail and heeded her warning because he lived by grace. Living by grace allows us to hear the voice of the Spirit, not just the voice of the law that condemns. He thanks her for her words, which allowed him not to make a grave mistake.  In the end, when Abigail tells Nabal, his anger burns so strongly that within a few days he is dead.  Law’s anger again is directed at grace in a very severe way.

Finally, there is another important detail in David’s story. Nabal, who was committed to Saul/law, refused to give David what he requested. When Abigail goes to meet David, she brings an abundant gift – far beyond what David had requested. The Spirit, by grace, can bring us abundance that law cannot. When we receive grace abundantly, we can also give it! What a great story that illustrates for us how God interacts with His people.

   To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

  To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Friday, October 24, 2014

Part 14--Two Kings Two Thrones

In this part, we looked at the first of two opportunities that David has to take Saul’s life. This is in 1 Samuel 24. Before we went there, we backtracked just a little bit because I believe the Holy Spirit gave me deeper understanding on something we discussed a while back. 

In 1 Samuel 9:16, where Saul is about to be anointed by Samuel to be Israel’s first king, his purpose is stated. Previously we stated that his purpose was to destroy the Philistines. Technically, though, he was not destined to destroy the Philistines, but to “deliver my people from the hand” of the Philistines. There is a subtle, but important, difference. To deliver from the hand is more a defensive or reactive action.  When you examine Saul’s life as king, you find that he never initiates conflict with the Philistines. He either reacts in defense of Israel when they are attacked or joins in the fight already started by his son Jonathan.


This is not only in line with his purpose as king but also with his being a type and picture of the Law. The Law was never intended to defeat sin. It was a defense against it until grace, the power to defeat sin, came. King David, the picture of grace, defeated Philistines everywhere he went. In fact, when we look at his appearance on the scene, we find Saul and his army powerless against Goliath. David shows up, goes on the attack and is victorious. 

Law cannot defeat sin. Trying to make yourself not sin does not help you overcome it (though that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to have a little self-control). Only grace operating on the inside of you can change your heart so that you no longer desire to sin. Law is a defensive tool, and grace is an offensive weapon against sin. 

There are 3 reasons law seeks to destroy grace.  The first is jealousy.  We have discussed this quite a bit.  Law is jealous of what grace can do.  The second is that law thinks grace is undoing all its hard work.  The third is the opposite point of view on how to deal with sin.  Law thinks grace is dangerous.

Now, let’s get to 1 Samuel 24. In verse two, it says that Saul was pursuing David with 3000 men. The number 3000, especially in relation to law and grace, is important.  In Exodus 32:28, just after the giving of the 10 Commandments, 3000 people die. In Acts 2:41, when the Holy Spirit filled those in the upper room, Peter preached his first “Spirit-filled” sermon and 3000 people were born again – or received eternal life. Both events happened on the “Day of Pentecost.” In Exodus, that feast had not yet been established, but we can trace the day to 50 days after the first “Passover” as they were set free from Egypt. Of course, the coming of the Holy Spirit also happened on that 50th day after the true Passover Lamb was slain.  The coming of the Holy Spirit was the true completion of Christ’s work. His death, burial and resurrection paved the way for the Holy Spirit to be able to come in power upon all believers. It is the sealing of the Covenant of Grace.  In 2 Corinthians 3:3 and 3:6, the Law is called a ministry of death and the Spirit a ministry of life. What amazing pictures the Lord paints for us!

In 1 Samuel 24:2 it says that Saul is looking for David in the “Crags of Wild Goats.” Remember that Saul was a donkey herder. God saw that His people were stubborn and needed someone accustomed to dealing with donkeys. Goats are much like donkeys in their stubbornness. They require strict boundaries – i.e. LAW.  David, the one who was a shepherd, was hidden in the caves along the way where the sheep grazed. Sheep are not stubborn but know the voice of their shepherd and obey. Grace leads sheep. We know His voice and do not need to be ruled by lists of rules, but His voice. These caves are where the sheep would be hidden to protect them when predators were near. This is also where Saul goes to “relieve himself.”

In 1 Samuel 24:4 David’s men tell him that Saul coming into this cave is confirmation that God was delivering his enemy into his hands. This is a great example of why it is so important to hear from God and not men. His men were getting it all wrong. First of all, the “enemy” God spoke of was not Saul, but the Philistines. Second, David was not called to destroy Saul.  David sneaks up and cuts a corner off of Saul’s robe. A king’s robe was an extension of themselves. It was also symbolic of their victories. When a king conquered another king, it was common to take a piece of the robe of the defeated king and attach it to his robe, thereby growing the “train” of his robe. This is why the train of God’s robe fills the temple. He has been victorious over ALL!

Immediately after doing, so David is “conscience stricken” (verse 5). He realizes he had declared before Saul and God that he would never harm Saul, even though Saul was trying to kill him. His guilty conscience did what it is supposed to do and can do only under grace – deal with the problem. A guilty conscience, under law, will bring condemnation and separation. Law-mindedness would have cause David to declare he was no longer worthy to be king. Grace says your mistakes do not cost you your future – not if we bring them to God.  David ends up apologizing for this in the end. 

Hebrews 9:14 tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from a guilty conscience. Hebrews 10:22 says much the same. Grace does not cleanse us from the need of a conscience all together, just a guilty conscience. Grace leads us to bring our failures to God, not hide in fear and condemnation. This is a hallmark of David’s life. He deals with his failures head-on before God and finds grace and mercy.   Just as Saul did not provoke attack against the Philistines, David never attacks Saul. He continued to serve a king who wanted to kill him. Meanwhile, he continued destroying Philistines.

In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus talks about how He did not come to destroy the Law, but fulfill it. David did not destroy Saul, but served him faithfully (with Saul as a picture of the Law). Going on, Jesus says that not one “jot or tittle” of the law would pass away until all is fulfilled. The law-minded like to point to these words directly from Jesus as evidence that we must still uphold the Law. What is missed is the fact that He said that it was until all was fulfilled. He had just stated that He came to fulfill the law. He is saying this before He had finished that work.  Praise God, He DID fulfill all the righteous requirements of the Law.  The law is there for instructions about how to interact in life, but it does not rule us any more.  He did what we could not. He delivered us from the ministry of death!  Don’t ever let your failures disqualify you from your purpose. Continue to run to God with your failures and see what He will do with your life.

   To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Monday, October 20, 2014

Part 13--Two Kings Two Thrones

In this part, we saw David run from Saul.  We noticed that David attracted the distressed, those in debt, and the discontented to him when he goes home to the tribe of Judah.  I believe these 3 categories are the people who need grace the most.  Distress comes when we are faced with situations where there is no hope. Grace gives these people hope.  Those in debt are imprisoned, often literally, until it is paid.  They are held back by these burdened.  Grace offers freedom to those who are in bondage.  Discontented person are those you are usually told in leadership to remove from your team.  People who are disenfranchised from the church are mad at God and are in need of His grace.  They are mad at Christians who lived judgmentally and in condemnation.  Love doesn’t ignore sin, but it does cover them up.  These people became a mighty army (started with 400 and constantly grew) because they didn’t stay distressed, in debt, and discontented.  This army is not used to fight Saul but to fight the Philistines.  He is still serving Saul.


We looked at Luke 13:10.  Jesus sees a woman crippled, not by God, but just by life.  He immediately acts and speaks that she is set free from her infirmity.  He is setting her free from her prison.  He lays hands after setting her free.  Then she straightens up and praises God.  Jesus healing people involved them believing and receiving healing.  He doesn’t say “I have healed you” but instead “you are set free.”  They still have to believe what he says to receive it. The synagogue rules say the Sabbath is not the day to be healed.  They are angry both with Jesus and with the woman. 


In Mark 5:21-43 we see a synagogue ruler who by approaching Jesus, with whom other synagogue rulers are angry, is risking his position, seeing his daughter healed.  In the midst of the story, the woman with the issue of blood is healed by simply touching the edge of Jesus’ robe (a robe was considered the extension of a person’s power). 

   To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 12

This week, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. In this part, we looked at David fleeing Saul and running to the house of God.  We started in 1 Samuel 20.  David has had a third spear thrown at him and decides he needs to flee.  David tells Jonathan that Saul is planning to kill David.  They devise a plan so Jonathan can find out what Saul’s intentions are.  There was a feast of the new moon, David does not go.  On the first day, Saul does not notice.  On the second day, Saul notices but assumes David is ceremonially unclean and can’t attend.  On the third day, Saul hears that David just decided not to come and Saul throws a spear at Jonathan.  Jonathan then alerts David that he should flee

In 1 Samuel 21, David has finally convinced Jonathan that Saul wants David gone. His anger toward David was fierce. When David gets to the tabernacle he speaks to Ahimelech, the priest. He asks if there is any food for him and his men. Ahimelech says that there is no food except for the consecrated bread from the tabernacle. This bread was only to be eaten by the priest in the Holy Place. If there was bread leftover, the other priests could eat it. A non-priest was not to eat this consecrated bread, yet, Ahimelech offers this bread to David.  Notice also that David asked for 5 loaves, just like the 5 loaves (and 2 fish) Jesus multiplied to feed thousands.  I have not had time to research further the correlation here, but I’m sure there is one.

This event illustrates how the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law. It was unlawful for David to eat this bread, but the hunger of David was more important than that law.   Jesus uses this event to illustrate that same point in Matthew 12. The Pharisees confront Him because His disciples were picking and eating grain on the Sabbath.  This was unlawful. Now, Jesus was not doing so, but only his disciples. Remember, He was fulfilling the law for us.

In verse 6, Jesus tells them that one greater than the temple was here. We generally believe He is speaking of himself. The Greek word that is used for “one” is more frequently translated “something.” This means He may have been saying “something greater than the Temple” was here. In the context of what He had just said in the previous verses and was about to say in the next verse, that actually makes more sense. That “something” was grace. In the next verse, He says that mercy is greater than sacrifice (quoting Hosea 6:6). The temple was the picture of sacrifice. It was where the people made their sacrifices to Him. Grace was going to make the sacrifice for us and eliminate our requirement of making those sacrifices. Jesus became THE sacrifice.

Jesus used the same verse just a couple chapters earlier in Matthew 9. There He told the Pharisees to go learn what it meant. Now, by their words and accusations, they demonstrated they had not learned – which is why in Chapter 11 he says, “If you had known” instead of “go and learn.”   Finally, Jesus says He is Lord of the Sabbath. Another way of saying that is “ruler of God’s rest.” As the ruler of rest, He determines what is most important – the rules for how to rest or the needs of one who cannot rest.  He is calling us to enter His rest. We no longer must make sacrifice for our sins, but receive the gift of salvation and His righteousness. Then we can help others enter that rest. Sounds like He has a plan!


  To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Monday, September 22, 2014

two kings two thrones part 11

This week, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. The premise is that King Saul is a type and picture of rule by law and King David is a type and picture of rule by grace.  In this part, we examined the growth of Saul’s jealousy toward David. Law is always jealous of what grace can accomplish. It can’t understand how God can possibly use someone “less obedient” than itself. Doesn’t God know they smoke? Maybe I need to remind Him. He must not notice how good I am. Maybe I should remind Him of that too J  

We see in 1 Samuel 18:12-14 that whatever David was given by Saul to do, he did with great success because the Lord was with him. If the Lord is with us, we can be nothing but successful. There is not one single instance of anyone in the Bible having God with them and following His lead who lost.  Grace is what gives us the full confidence that God is with us. When living under law, we have no confidence that the Lord is with us. According to law, any sin might cause the “Spirit to lift,” but under grace we have full confidence that He never leaves us or forsakes us – through the blood of Jesus.  1 John 3:19 tells us how we have this confidence.  Notice that the only commands that are considered part of the deal are to believe in Jesus and love one another.  Sin doesn’t rob us of confidence God is with us.  A guilty conscience does.

Also, Saul tries to pin David with a spear not once but twice, but David didn’t leave.  He stayed faithful.  Also, why does verse 10 say Saul’s evil spirit was from God?   This is probably a translation issue, but we looked at 1 John 1:5. God’s mercy and protection were gone from Saul. When God’s anointing was gone, Saul began to reap the fruit of what he had sown.  Mercy protects us from that.

 Now, does that mean you can do anything you want and God will make you successful? If I told you that you would likely call me a liar. We’ve all experienced doing things we thought were of God and failing. There are a few parameters we want to follow if we want to have success in the Lord in all we do:

 1.       You will experience success in those things the Lord calls you to do.

2.       You will experience success in those things that are part of your God-given destiny

 Now, those things might be a little hard to specify. Looking at some of what does NOT qualify as things that the Lord will be with you on might help…

 3.       No guarantee of success in selfish or sinful plans (he’s not going to help you destroy yourself or others).

4.       No guarantee of success in “good ideas” that were not “God ideas.” We often fail because we endeavor to do something that is good, but not something God anointed us to do.

5.       No guarantee of success in working on His plans MY way.

 The next thing we looked at in David’s story was Saul’s offering of two of his daughters in marriage and why one was accepted by David and the other not accepted. First, Saul offers his oldest daughter, Merab, to him. This would have been tradition – that the eldest daughter would be married first.  Saul puts a qualification on David obtaining this bride. The groom traditionally paid a dowry to the father of the bride. David knew he could not afford the dowry of a king’s daughter. Saul says he can have her if he fights Saul’s battles against the Philistines and leads his armies.

A couple thing are important about this exchange. First, this bride was rightfully David’s because he defeated Goliath. It was part of what was promised to the victor. Secondly, law is always going to keep demanding more before you can earn the promise.  Merab’s name in Hebrew means “increase” or “multiplication.” David had already earned it, but the law keeps adding more qualifications. We’ll never be perfect and qualified to receive the blessing of God. It can only be obtained as a gift through Christ.

Also, Saul made this offer with the hope that the Philistines would do his dirty work. He wanted David dead (law wants grace to just go away). He wanted to send David out to battle worldly sin (what the Philistines represent – see previous messages in this series). If you continue to try and battle sin with more law, eventually sin is going to destroy you.

Then there is Saul’s next daughter, Michal. Her name means “who is like God.”  Isn’t it cool that the person who is like God is drawn to grace.  It is discovered that she is in love with David. Saul sees another opportunity to complete his plan to have David murdered by the Philistines. This time David accepts Saul’s offer because he sees the price as something he is capable of paying, and this daughter loves him.  The gift of salvation is available to ALL of mankind, but only those who choose to love Jesus are going to receive that gift and enjoy that gift.


Saul’s price is 100 Philistine foreskins (eww!!!). David actually delivers 200 (double eww!!!). What a great picture of Christ. Jesus will not only pay the debt to purchase us, but far exceed it for those who love him! Now, we love Him because He first loves us – but receiving that love depends on making a choice to love Him. What a great exchange.

   To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 10

This week, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. In this part, we began seeing Saul’s jealousy toward David emerging. After the men return from the defeat of Goliath, the people are shouting and singing about how Saul slays his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Needless to say, Saul was not happy about this.

Law will always be jealous of grace and what it can do – particularly what it thinks grace is not qualified to do. It just doesn’t seem fair to those living by law that some sinner can be used by God. After all, they’ve done all the works necessary to be deemed qualified. If the work truly had qualified them, they would be used, but works are not the qualifier – faith in His grace and a desire to partner with God is the qualifier. It is not about obedience to the letter of the law, but obedience to the voice of the Spirit.

I don’t know if you have ever thought about HOW Jesus was able to live life without sinning. Perhaps you just assumed it was because He was God, but, if Jesus were not capable of falling to temptation, He would not have been a truly sympathetic high priest. Jesus was God, but He was also man. So what gave Him the power to overcome sin? It was the Holy Spirit inside of Him.  No one had ever lived on earth since the Garden with the Holy Spirit inside of them. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and our tutor. He is our supervisor. He is all the things that the law tried to be but failed.  Also, as in Matthew 3, the Spirit descended on Jesus as well.

You see, learning all about the grace of God is vitally important, but unless we learn to be led by the Spirit, we can make grace the “license to sin” that some make it out to be. In fact, it is interesting to note that the churches and denominations that are very strong in their admonishment against the grace message (calling it dangerous and a license to sin) are also generally the ones that do not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit or that the gifts of the Spirit are for today.  Apart from intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, grace can indeed become dangerous. If we have NO tutor or supervisor and are simply left to what the flesh feels like it wants to do, we will find destruction because of destructive behaviors.

The Holy Spirit is alive in us once we are born again. When we seek and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then the Spirit is also ON us – empowering us to follow His leading.  Jesus had that Spirit alive in Him from the very beginning. It was literally in His DNA. The Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived. In a sense, the Holy Spirit was His “daddy.” We were not born in such a way. We are born entirely of the flesh – of a man and a woman. We must become born again to ignite the Spirit in us. The Spirit is then alive in us and speaking to us – leading us into all truth. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is what gives us supernatural power to DO what the Spirit is leading us to do.

Many Christians receive that gift of salvation and the Spirit in them, but without the power of the Spirit in and on them, they return to being governed by law. The law is a poor tutor because it can only govern the outside of man. The Spirit desires to work inside of us and change us in a way that law cannot – at the heart level.  Remember what Paul told us – that the law is no longer written on stone tablets, but upon the hearts of men. It does not magically appear there, but the Spirit is doing the writing. As He writes, the heart changes.

We also spent some time looking at how this worked in Jesus’ ministry on earth. At the end of Matthew 7 as the “sermon on the mount” draws to a close, the people are amazed at the authority with which Jesus speaks – an authority that the teachers of the law lacked. The Holy Spirit in Him gave Him that authority. There is no authority in the law – only hopeless submission. Grace allows the Holy Spirit to operate with authority through the believer.

When we think about what Jesus was teaching at the sermon on the mount, we could say He was teaching us how to slay the giants in our hearts – much like David had just slayed the giant Goliath and brought the jealousy of Saul upon him. After Jesus teaches and then demonstrates this authority through healing and casting out demons (all symptoms of sin and loss of authority to the enemy), we see that the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were becoming jealous of Jesus. He was doing what they could not; what they had no authority to do. He was taking authority over the fruit of mankind’s sin – sickness, affliction, and disease.

In Matthew 9, a paralytic man is brought to Jesus. Instead of focusing on the man’s body, He tells him that his sins are forgiven. This man’s sickness may have been a result of sin. Ultimately all sickness, disease and lack is a result of the sin of mankind. Jesus was getting to the root problem. He was also irritating the Pharisees with the authority He was exercising. Since He was without sin, He had authority to demand its effects to stop.  So, it was the Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to not sin. That is the same Holy Spirit you have in you. It is also the same power made available to us on the day of Pentecost. It is not just Spirit in us but also on us.  Unlike Jesus, we were not born that way, and we must continually renew our minds to this new way of thinking that is in line with the Spirit and empowered by the Spirit.


  To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Friday, September 5, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 9

This week, we continued on with the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. This week, we looked at how Jonathan, Saul’s son, works into the picture.  As King Saul’s son, he is heir to the throne of his father. God has already told Saul that his throne would not go to his child, and that he also is going to lose his throne. When we read about Saul’s actions, however, we find that he continued on as though he expected to remain king and pass his throne on to Jonathan with or without God.

In this series, we have defined Saul as a type and picture of the law or life under rule of the law. Jonathan’s “inheritance” was empty and, according to God, dead. The apostle Paul tells us that the law is a ministry of death. It has no future. It lost its purpose when Christ fulfilled it for us.

In 1 Samuel 18:1, just after David defeats Goliath, we are told that Jonathan becomes one in spirit with David. I believe Jonathan is a picture of the believers of Jesus’ time here on earth – His disciples and those who followed Him. They became one in spirit with Him and His message, yet remained slaves to the law. Jonathan never forsook his father. He was loyal to David because he saw God’s hand upon him. He never betrays his father, but he knows there is no future in his father’s kingdom. 

Galatians 3 tells us  a lot about inheritance under the law and inheritance in Christ. Jonathan was making a decision that could impact his inheritance.  Galatians 3:23-25 tells us that this new inheritance is established through this “faith” that had come. We know that faith is Jesus based on the context of Paul’s words, but there is also further evidence.

 In Hebrews 11:1, the famous faith verse, it says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” That word, substance, is a Greek word hupostasis. That same Greek word is also used in Hebrews 1:3 in a seemingly different way. It describes Christ as the “image of his person.” The words “his person” are also the Greek word hupostasis. That “his person” is Jesus. 

We also looked at John 1 and compared bara creation (faith creation, something out of nothing) in John 1 and Genesis 1 with assah creation (creating something out of something else).  Bara is used in the Bible 56 times, used to describe God creating in the past tense. It is used to mean “to cut down” twice (in Joshua where he cuts down the enemies in the promised land).  It’s used sarcastically by God once.  It is used prophetically to talk about Jerusalem/New Covenant, and twice in Ezekiel to mean choose.  Bara is bet and resh, meaning head of household, and aleph, meaning power.  So Bara is the power of the head of the household.  Barak (to bless) is bet and resh again, plus kaph, taking what you have and gives it a second person possessive (you/yours).  This means the power of the head of the household is yours.  This denotes a transfer of authority.

We also talked about assah creation, especially as used in Exodus 19:8, where the people say that with the law they can make their own way.

With that understanding, we can look at Hebrews 11:1 a little differently. That substance is Jesus. Jesus is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. The context of the rest of Hebrews 11 bears that out, for it talks about all the great warriors of faith of the Old Testament and how they never “SAW” the inheritance that we now see and have. That promise was Jesus.

In fact, the very promise referred to both in Hebrews 11 and Galatians 3 is the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. The key part of that promise that is being referenced in those New Testament verses is the last part – that all the world would be blessed through his seed. That seed is Jesus. He physically descended from Abraham, and He is the spiritual promise as well.

Taking it one step further, the true promise is the Holy Spirit. That is what was unavailable to anyone before Christ’s completed work. Abraham lived before the law and he, by his faith and belief, was declared righteous by God – as anyone living apart from the law (like us), but what makes us New Testament believers unique is that we now have the Holy Spirit available to us.


That Holy Spirit is the one who will teach us and guide is in our walk with God. Galatians 3:25 tells us that, in Christ, we no longer need the law as a supervisor. That goes against what we generally believe. When you get saved, it’s by grace, but we think we must have the rules for righteousness to learn to walk the straight and narrow. Paul is saying, “no!” The Holy Spirit is the gift of God. He lives inside of us and now writes the law upon our hearts instead of on stone tablets.  The Holy Spirit allows us to have direct communication, guidance, mentoring and training from God Himself – not life by a list of rules and interpreters of rules.

I believe we should spend less time teaching new believers about what you they are now allowed and not allowed to do as a Christian and more time teaching them about the Holy Spirit and how to develop a relationship with Him. That is how God designed it to work. It is why Jesus did the work He did. We need to learn to trust Him to do what He said He would do!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 8

This Sunday, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. In this part, I looked deeper at one aspect of the story of David and Goliath.  In 1 Samuel 17:37-38, Saul (remember that he is a picture of the law) tries to clothe David in his armor in preparation for facing Goliath. Goliath was a picture of the enemies in the land of Canaan. In fact, he was a descendant of those very giants. For us, the Promised Land is our heart – where God desires to bless is through producing His kingdom through us. The giants in that land are the thoughts, beliefs and perceptions that reside within us. In short, it is our sin.

In order to fruitfully produce in the Kingdom and to inherit all of the blessing attached to the New Covenant, we must work with God to drive those giants out of our hearts.   

Trying to face those giants “clothed” in the law’s armor will cause us to fail. A few weeks back, we read about how Saul would put an unnecessary disadvantage on his men by declaring rule and law that came from him and by threatening punishment from God.

Saul’s armor was huge and clunky for little David, just like the law is a huge weight on us in trying to overcome sin. Don’t we need more law to help us stop sinning? NO!!! We need the Spirit in us, changing us from the heart level. That is what gives us the power to overcome sin. Man’s heart cannot be changed from the outside.

The armor of Saul sounds a lot like the imagery of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6. This passage is often misunderstood. Spiritual warfare goes on. There are demons that need casting out, but this Scripture is not about those things. It is about taking control of and maintaining control of your thought life. To prove this, we must look at what these verses actually say and not what we think they say.  We are told that this armor is to protect us against the schemes of the enemy. What are his schemes? They are lies. It may come as a shock to some, but Satan cannot DO anything to anyone. All he can do is bring lies. People believe those lies and act accordingly. If he could kill people outright, we’d all be dead by now. He operates on a massive and elaborate web of lies. I’m not discounting demonic activity on other levels, but this passage is talking about our thought life.  The enemy also brings lies that are a slight twist of the truth, but they limit us and cause us to hurt others.

We not only need ALL the armor (not only a few pieces), and we need them in a certain order.  Each gives us what we need to utilize the next piece properly.  The armor we are told to put on begins with a belt of truth. TRUTH is the most important weapon against lies. It is not a defense against wicked actions or demonic activity. It is the ultimate weapon against lies. What does a belt do? We don’t have to get all spiritual to answer that either. Belts hold up pants. Put it this way. Without a belt of truth, we are walking around with our pants falling down, embarrassing ourselves and everyone around us.

Next is the breastplate of righteousness. What we see is that these pieces of armor are discussed in a specific order for a reason. You need the TRUTH about righteousness to be your breastplate or protection over your life. Your breastplate better be made of HIS righteousness and not your own. If you are fitted with a breastplate of your own righteousness, you will be defeated or you may not even go into battle because you know just how weak it is.

Next come the feet fitted with the gospel of peace. Now that we have truth about righteousness, that should lead us to peace, and all that needs to happen before we run off to battle. What is peace? It is not just everyone getting along in harmony – everyone who disagrees with me chooses to just change their minds.  Peace truly only comes about when all opposition of peace has been eliminated. That is going to take war – or it took war. This is about the gospel of peace. Jesus won that war. He removed every roadblock and hindrance to peace. When we know the truth about righteousness, we can WALK in that peace.

Next comes the shield of faith, which I did not spend a great deal of time on because it could be multiple sermons all by itself. Then comes the helmet of salvation. After we’ve done all we can to renew the mind and bring it into alignment with the truth, we need to wear this helmet to protect the old ways and thoughts from returning. As soon as we fall into a familiar situation or circumstance, we can easily fall back into old ways. Protect your mind with knowledge of salvation.

Finally, after all of that, we get a sword. There are a lot of Christians out there swinging a sword of the Word at people without the grounding of a renewed mind. The military does not round up a bunch of guys and give them guns and send them off to battle without first training them to think the way they want them to think and react the way they want them to react.  After we get the sword, we are not done. We are told to then pray continually. Prayer is about staying in communication with the General. When one army is set to attack another, one of the first things they try to take out is communication. If you can break the lines of communication, you create confusion. Who is the author of confusion? Satan. He wants you to go into battle with confusion.

To summarize, here is our warrior’s checklist/toolkit:

1.      Truth

2.      Righteousness—His, not yours

3.      Peace

4.      Boots

5.      Faith, shield

6.      Helmet protecting thoughts

7.      Sword/weapon

8.      Pray/maintain communication

We finished with Romans 14, where Paul contrasts grace and law followers and tells them not to judge and condemn each other.  We read it in the message Bible also, and I encourage you to do so this week also.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones part 7

This Sunday, we were so blessed to have Pastor Tammy bring a great message. Pastor Tammy continued in the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series regarding the kingdoms of Saul and David and how Saul represents rule by law and David rule by grace. She looked at one of the most well-known stories in the Bible – that of David and Goliath.  There are so many little things hidden in this story that are often overlooked.

At this time, David had been anointed to be the next king of Israel but was not yet the king. Saul and his army are camped out around a valley where the Philistines are sending out a giant by the name of Goliath to taunt them.  Remember that the Philistines are the enemy that God designated Saul to destroy. He has had only minor success, and he and his men are now cowering in fear at the taunting of Goliath.

Where did the giant Goliath come from? The Bible describes him as being over 9 feet tall. Is that even possible?  Is the writer exaggerating? Goliath is a descendant of Anak. These were the “giants” in the promised land when Joshua led God’s people in. In Joshua 11, when they were driven out, they dispersed in many places. One of them was Gath (Joshua 11), and that is where Goliath is from. 

So, in some ways, David is finishing the work of Joshua in destroying the giants in the land of Canaan. In fact, during David’s reign, he finally captures all of the territory that had been promised to God’s people. With David being a type of grace and of Christ, we see this battle as one of Spiritual significance to us.

 Why didn’t Saul go out and challenge Goliath? Remember that we read that Saul was described as a head and shoulders taller than all the other Israelites. Not only was he the king, but he was the one most physically suited to face Goliath, but Saul represents law. Law cannot defeat the giants in the land. Law causes us to cower in fear when faced with the giants. The law tells us we are undeserving and unqualified to do mighty work for God.

When Goliath taunts the Israelites, he calls them servants of Saul. God is never mentioned. When we are servants of the law, we are ill-equipped to face giants in life. Grace is the power of God working through us despite our imperfections. Remember that David was anointed king by Samuel without having gone through the purification of the law like his brothers (who were rejected) had done.  

Goliath came out for 40 days.  This is always a big number in the Bible (40 days Jesus in the wilderness, then defeat of the enemy; 40 years in the wilderness).  There is always a big finish at the end of the 40.  The Israelites could not defeat the enemy, but David/grace can.

David arrives on the scene because he was sent to bring food and supplies to his brothers (the purified ones who were cowering in fear at the feet of the giant). Before he leaves, he makes sure the sheep he is given charge of are cared for – since that is what a good shepherd would do. David hears Goliath’s taunting, and hears about the reward for defeating him.  He also stated that Goliath was not allowed to defy the “armies of the living God. 

David is upset about Goliath’s taunting of God’s people and insists that God can give them victory.  His eldest brother, Eliab, accuses him of being prideful and assumes he left the sheep unattended. Neither is true.  David was definitely confident in who he was in God. He was not prideful. We know that Proverbs tells us that pride comes before the fall. David did not fall. Proverbs also tells us that God resists the prideful. Obviously, God didn’t resist David. Pride is not confidence. Humility is not lack of confidence. Humility is simply being teachable. David lived a life that showed a pattern of being teachable by God – confident in God and reliant upon Him.

Saul hears what David has said and tells him he cannot do it because he is young.  David tells stories of how God has equipped him to deliver lambs from bears and lions.  Law will always try to tell you what you can’t do when you are in grace, and how big the enemy is.  David talks about what God did and will do.  Saul tries to clothe David in his armor in order to prepare him. Remember how huge Saul was? His armor is not going to fit young David. It was made for Saul,  David quickly realizes that the armor would be an encumbrance. The armor of God fits us perfectly.  This is what David chooses.  We learned earlier in the series that the law puts us at an unnecessary disadvantage.  Armor made from the law is heavy and oppressive.  David chose not to put on the law’s self-righteousness – or its armor. It would have weighed him down and been an obstacle to victory.

Instead David takes five smooth stones and his sling and approaches Goliath. There are a lot of theories about why he grabs five and not just one.  Was he accounting for the “just in case I miss?” Did he have the foresight to be prepared for being attacked by the Philistines after he took down their giant? We don’t really know.  The number 5 does represent grace in the word (the 5th Hebrew letter represents the breath of God.  I think the idea that the weapon of choice was a smoothed stone is important. What is it that smoothes stones? It is flowing water. It makes us think of being washed in the water of the Word and being planted by streams of living water. The Word makes the perfect weapon.

When David approaches Goliath he informs him that he’ll be going down, but David does not identify himself as a servant of Saul (or law in our illustration) but that of the Most High God. When we live by grace, we serve God and not the law. He also calls Goliath an uncircumcised Philistine. Circumcision had to do with partnership with God or covenant with Him, so David is calling Goliath an enemy of God.

Of course we know David takes down Goliath with one stone. He then cuts off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s sword. Imagine young David wielding the sword of a 9-foot giant. He used his own weapon against him. When we operate by grace, we destroy sin with its own weapons! When you know who you are in Christ and you partner with the Spirit of God, you can face your giants without being afraid and without being dismayed.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

two kings two thrones part 6

This Sunday, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. In it we have been examining the contrasts between the kingdoms of Saul and David. Saul was a type and picture of rule by law and David a type and picture of rule by grace.  In this part we looked at the anointing of David to be the king following Saul. Previously, Saul had been told that God’s anointing on him had lifted and that God was bringing up another king “better than him.” In the same way, the new covenant is better than the old covenant. The old covenant was powerless to bring righteousness. Saul, for all his efforts, never truly accomplished what God told him his purpose was – to destroy the Philistines. He battled against them and had moments of success, but he never found true victory. Law will never defeat sin, only grace can defeat sin at its heart.

In 1 Samuel 16:4, it says that the elders of Bethlehem trembled in fear at the sight of Samuel the priest. They asked if he was coming in peace. The people had been under oppressive law under Saul. Saul had actually gotten to the point that the rules he was handing down did not come from God, but he was using God’s wrath as the threat of not keeping them. This was much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, as well as legalist believers today: religious rules take precedence over the true principles of God, and those who do not keep them all are made to feel condemned.  Such a feeling causes you to tremble at the sight of “the priest” (Jesus)—1 John 4:17. According to what Jesus has done for us, we are supposed to boldly approach, full of confidence, not cowering in fear of punishment. The way these Bethlehem elders reacted to seeing Saul is a perfect picture of what law does to our relationship with Jesus. He does come in peace. He is the Prince of Peace.

When Samuel arrives in Bethlehem, he has Jesse and his sons consecrate themselves – or purify themselves – to be prepared for one of the sons to be selected as the next king. God had told Samuel that one of Jesse’s sons was to be anointed king, and that He would show Samuel which one.  One by one, all of the sons come before Samuel, and God rejects all of them. The first is Eliab, who is tall and handsome. God says that Eliab is not the one because man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart. This does not mean the outside is of NO importance. In fact, when David is first described, he is said to be handsome, and later it says that he was a good speaker.

So many people have misunderstood this passage and use it to claim God only looks for people who the world would reject, or that are just plain oddballs. Sometimes it becomes an excuse to BE an oddball. It has been used to place law on people about being concerned with how they look.  There are two parts to the statement. Yes, the heart is what is most important to God. It is of upmost importance. We are also called to influence man, so that pure heart is also going to need to be at least somewhat appealing to “man” if we are going to influence and reach people.

I believe that the statement might well mean something completely different. All of the first seven brothers who were rejected had gone through the ceremonial cleansing required by law in order to be qualified to be in the presence of the priest and to be chosen to be king. None of those seven (which is the Biblical number of completion or perfection) were perfect. The law could not make them perfect.  Finally, after all seven are rejected by God, Samuel is perplexed. He knew God said it was to be one of Jesse’s sons, and he believed God had rejected all of them. He then asks Jesse if there are any other sons. He responds that David, the youngest, is not there. He is out tending the sheep.

 Hold on, he was what? He was tending sheep! How appropriate. Jesus is our good shepherd. Remember, when Saul was chosen by God he was trying to herd donkeys. I think that is quite telling. Herding donkeys is going to require fences and lots of restriction because they are stubborn and will do whatever they please. God does not want His people to be donkeys. He wants sheep, and a strict, legalist donkey herder is not the right one to lead His sheep.  John 21 illustrates this as Jesus restores Peter asking Him to tend and feed and care for His sheep.

David is a sheep herder. He knows that sheep roam free but know the sound of their shepherd’s voice and respond to it. That is what living under grace is supposed to be. The law is written on our hearts and not on stone tablets. We are allowed to “freely eat” in this world, but we know the voice of our shepherd (which for us comes in the form of the voice of the Holy Spirit), and we follow His direction. What a great picture.

They go out and call David in, and the Lord shows Samuel that this is the one He has chosen. Now, where was David when all the purification required by the law was taking place? Not there. He was not doing the law’s works, but was out working. By the law, David was not supposed to be able to come into the priest without cleansing himself.. David was anointed in the presence of his brothers (those who were rejected).  God was not ceremonially prepared, but he was the one that had been prepared in his heart for his calling.  The heart that will respond to the call is far more important to God.    When God calls us, He is not requiring us to get clean before we answer.  Don’t ignore His calling in your life because you don’t think you are qualified to answer. God Himself qualifies those whom He calls – not the law.

We also noted that Saul had God’s anointing lifted and became troubled.  The only thing that will soothe him as music.  He hears that David is a great musician (Saul does not know David has been anointed to be the next king).  David comes and gives him great comfort.  There is this transition time, a picture of Jesus’ time on earth living while law was still ruling. 

I ended with 3 keys to David’s success (and to ours):

1.      Skill

2.      Preparation

3.      Competent Action when the opportunity arises

Success is when preparation and opportunity meet.



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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

two kings two thrones part 5 b

Last week, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series examining the differences between Kings Saul and David and how they are types or pictures of rule by law and rule by grace respectively.  In 1 Samuel 15, Saul finally acts in a way that results in God deciding that it will be time for a new king. As a picture of law, it shows how the rulership of law had run its course, and that God was preparing the way for rulership by grace as King David will illustrate.

At the beginning of the chapter, Samuel, the priest, instructs Saul as to what God wanted him to do. His instructions are very clear: attack the Amlakites, and completely destroy them. Saul was told not to spare anything or anyone.

The Amalekites are the people of Amalek, who was the grandson of Esau. God was exacting justice on them for how they attacked the Israelites when they had been set free from Egypt and were on their way to the Promised Land. They were trying to keep them out. God, back then, had sworn that He’d not let their actions go unanswered. This was the answer.

Saul does attack as God commanded, and he utterly defeats them. Afterward, however, he spares the life of their king, Agag, and the best of their livestock. The best were spared and the weak and despised were destroyed. Nothing is despised in and of itself. Someone must choose to despise something. Law chooses who and what will be acceptable and what will not.  An important thing to know about what Saul did is that it was what the law would have demanded – that the best of the spoils of battle belonged to God. They would be sarcrificed to worship God for victory. He was doing what the law would have demanded.

The only problem is that God had given Him specific instructions NOT to bring those offerings. They belonged to Him, so He could choose to do something else with them. Law has a hard time hearing the voice of God. It becomes so dependent on the stone tablets that it cannot hear God’s voice. I think that Saul may not have even heard what Samuel told him because it didn’t fit the law.

 Living by law is actually a lazy version of Christianity. Sure, it is work to try and do what you are supposed to do and avoid doing what you’re not supposed to do, but it never requires you to hear from God on a daily, hourly, or minute-by-minute basis. That is a shame because He is always speaking to us. We miss out on His best when we make a habit of just relying on the rules instead of His voice.

God reveals to Samuel what has happened, and Samuel goes to confront Saul. When he arrives where Saul should be, he is told that Saul made a monument to himself and went on to Gilgal.   Law living is focused on self-righteousness. It essentially builds an altar to self. Self-righteousness is all about what you did and did not do (and what others are doing and not doing). It fails to appreciate the blood of Jesus. It puts works above His blood.  Gilgal is also important. It is where Saul was anointed, where he was told that his kingdom would not be a dynasty, and where he is about to be told that God is going to replace him with a better king (David / grace).

Gilgal is important because of what it represents. In Joshua 5, God has all the people of Israel who had been born since Egyptian captivity circumcised at Gilgal before they enter Canaan. Circumcision is a picture of partnership with God. It is a reminder that God and man would “produce” together. Saul was supposed to partner with God to rule the people, but he becomes more and more about himself and ruling the people himself without obedience to God.   When you read carefully you find that, throughout this chapter, Saul refers to God as “your God” and not “my God.” Again, law makes “self” god and rules apart from God’s direct input.

Saul argues before Samuel that he was obedient – to the law perhaps, but not God’s voice. Samuel makes the well-known statement that obedience is better than sacrifice. In its context, this verse seems to mean exactly the opposite of what it is generally used to beat people over the head with. The obedience Samuel is talking about is the direct voice of God, and the sacrifice is what the law had required.  This is how I would paraphrase that verse – Listen to my constant voice instead of lazily relying on a list of rules to try to please me.

Samuel then tells Saul that one “better than him” will be chosen king. God is not a respecter of persons. No person is truly better than another. However, there are things about one person that might be better. David is going to be better because he lives a life of grace before God. He makes mistakes and sins (badly), but always runs to God when he sins and he listens to the daily instruction of God. David will be better than Saul in the same way that the new covenant is a new and better covenant than the old.

 The chapter finishes with Samuel completing the work Saul failed in. He slays Agag. The King James version actually says he chopped him into pieces before the Lord. Wow?!?

The last thing it says is that Samuel never visited Saul again. He grieved for him, but never returned to see him. Remember that Saul is a type of the law and Samuel is the priest. Jesus is our high priest and the mediator of this new, better covenant. He does not visit the law any more. He remembers our sins no more. Praise God!

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 5

This week, we continued on our series by starting in 1 Samuel 14:29.  This is the section where Jonathan had eaten honey and unknowingly violated a fast declared by Saul.  When Jonathan speaks, the words see and tasted in Hebrew have only one other verse that uses them in the Bible, Psalm34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”  This verse speaks of using our 5 senses to see God’s goodness and to rely on God instead of ourselves, exactly what Saul was not doing.  The phrase “freely eaten” was the same used in Genesis 2:16 regarding Adam and Eve and the garden.  Law had told the Israelites they could not eat the milk and honey God had promised as part of the Promised Land, so they were unable to obtain God’s full blessing.  In verse 39, “must die” or “must surely die” is the same word used in Genesis about eating of the tree of good and evil. 

 We continued to 1 Samuel 16:1 and following.  Saul is told to destroy the Amalekites and destroy everything.  The army spared Agog, and all the best flocks and other good things that were there.  They destroyed only the weak things.  When we don’t do what God says, we don’t get His results.  It is what the sinful act produces that is offensive to God.  Saul also set up a monument to himself.  Samuel comes to him, and Saul declares that he has done everything he was supposed to and declares he was saving them as a sacrifice to the Lord.  When Saul describes what he did, it was for “your God.”  So it wasn’t his God any more in his mind.  Samuel goes on to tell Saul his kingship is no longer approved by God.  He goes on and kills Agog.  Samuel never saw Saul again.  Jesus doesn’t revisit law.  He grieves for those who live under law, but He doesn’t go there.



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Two Kings Two Thrones Part 4

This week, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. We have been looking at the contrast in Kings Saul and David and how King Saul was a picture of the law and King David a picture of grace.  In this part, we examined a story from 1 Samuel 14. Beginning in verse 24, Saul declares a fast for his fighting men as they are about to battle the Philistines. What is striking about this demand is that he says it is to be until “I avenge MYSELF against MY enemies.” Saul has made this all about himself. Secondly, we must notice that God is not the one who demanded the fast or the Priest, Samuel, who recommended it. This was all Saul.

Legalism will continue to keep adding more rules and more restrictions to try to get the desired result. If law sees sin, it thinks the solution is more law. Saul wanted victory, so he demanded something unreasonable from his men. His men are about to go into battle, and he demands that they do not eat. He didn’t say it was because he wanted them to be more in tune with the spirit or to prepare them spiritually. It was just a power play. Law enjoys ruling over people.

What this demand did was create an unnecessary disadvantage for his men – who did go on to win anyway, by the grace and mercy of God. Legalism does that in our lives. It creates and unnecessary disadvantage in accomplishing the plans and purposes of God. Now, I am not talking about living by Godly principles or living a moral life. I am NOT saying God’s instructions are creating an unnecessary disadvantage. It is legalism that does so. Remember, Saul’s command did not come from God.
I remember when I was in a band and we were doing our first overseas trip, the organizers declared that we should fast before our trip.  We were to go to California, attend a church service, and then break the fast.  Because we had not heard from God to do it, though we obeyed, we did not have the best attitude about it.  When we got there, to top it off, we got to the church service, after which we were to break the fast, and the organizers were eating chicken wings.  We did not have time to get food at that point, so we had to wait through a long church service to break our fast.  This was a similar situation.
There are many examples that I could give that fit this description that have been thrust upon believers in the name of holiness. First of all being holy, like righteousness, is not something you achieve, but something you are. The definition of holiness is “set apart for the plans and purposes of God.” What does that have to do with our works? Nothing.

Just like truly knowing that the blood of Jesus has made you righteous will change you at the heart level into one who appears more righteous, the same is true for holiness (remember grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness – Titus 2:11-12). When you truly understand that YOU are set apart for the plans and purposes of God – meaning you are holy – you will begin to act in accordance with that belief. If you only believe you are holy when you have acted as such, you will be hard pressed to truly change the outward actions to ones that many would identify as less than holy.

Legalism has made holiness something you attain by adhering to a list of rules and guidelines for holy living. Many of those rules may seem good but have little to no grounding in scripture. Many others appear to be based on scripture until we learn more about the true context and meaning of the verses used to establish them.

 A great example is 1 Peter 3:1-5 that appears to be saying that women are not allowed to wear makeup, jewelry or nice clothing. The first thing to know when you read this passage is that Peter was not giving a definition of holiness. He says not to rely on outward beauty – like clothing, jewelry and makeup -- to keep your man, but inner beauty. That is very true, but what most translations leave out of that statement is one word that is very important to the message Peter was trying to communicate. I only find this word when I look at the original Greek or in an Amplified Bible. That word is “merely.” He said to let not your beauty be based MERELY on those outward things. He was not banning them!

Additionally, Peter was giving marriage advice. If you want to have a long marriage, you better be more to him than a pretty face (my paraphrase J). If that is all the attraction he has to you, there will always be a younger, newer, prettier face that will come along. Legalism looked in the Bible and found something it thought it could use to make a law out of – one that is an unnecessary disadvantage in life.

A second example that also relates to women is in 1 Corinthians 11. It appears on the surface that Paul (who we thought was all about grace) is saying that a woman cannot cut her hair if she wants to pray or prophesy. To understand Paul’s words more clearly we must zoom out a little and get some context. Just a few verses earlier at the end of chapter 10, Paul talks about how all things are permissible, but not necessarily beneficial and that no one should be condemned for eating anything, but, in exercising our freedom, don’t cause someone else to stumble. I may be free to have a beer in God’s eyes (though I never would because I think it tastes horrible), but if someone in my congregation saw me drinking a beer, it could be a stumbling block for them. They may not be able to receive the Word from me, or maybe they would see my action as a form of approving such behavior for them. If they have alcoholic tendencies, that could be catastrophic.

So why this stark about-face now when we’re talking about a woman’s hair length? It seems a little strange, doesn’t it? More context is needed. The next few verses after this so-called rule bring some light to Paul’s heart. He goes on to point out that men and women are not different before God. He does not have separate rules for righteousness for men and women. But this all still seems a little contradictory. The key is in that “don’t cause someone else to stumble” statement. What Paul is saying is that to the people in these churches, the length of hair means something and it is important to them. It doesn’t matter that it may not really be important. Don’t let your opinion be an offense to them. You don’t have to call them out. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme. He says in verse 16 to not be contentious about it.
There was another statement he made just previous to this in chapter 10. He says that we should not be ruled by someone else’s conscience. Remember that we have been cleansed of a guilty conscience. Don’t allow what someone else’s conscience says is right and wrong rule over you (or vice-versa). If they want length of hair to be important – so be it. Don’t argue with them about it, but also, don’t allow them to force that on you.

Finally, we headed back to 1 Samuel 14. After Saul’s demand for a fast, his son Jonathan, unaware of his father’s decree, sees a honeycomb oozing honey and takes some. The other men see him do this and inform him of his father’s command and that any who ate would be killed. Jonathan remarks that his father was foolish sending men to battle without food. He says that they could have had a resounding victory against the Philistines with food, not just a slight win.  Saul is notified that someone ate. At this point he does not know it was his son. He demands the “sinner” be brought forward and killed, even if it is his son. When it is discovered that it was indeed his son, he sticks to his guns and demands Jonathan’s life. The other men say, “no way.” Jonathan had just been a war hero, and he is the king’s son, and Saul would have him killed for breaking HIS rule (remember it was not God’s).  This is what legalism does. It will entirely disqualify a minister who is doing great things to expand the kingdom because he doesn’t line up with one of their legalist rules. We want to be ruled by God, not rules and legalism.

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