The First

Jeremiah 17:9~The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (NIV) If the word of God is to be believed then we must make the examination of our heart a part of our daily devotional life. (Matthew 20:16) The principle is everyone receives the same gracious gift of salvation from God through His Son Jesus. Some believers come to salvation as small children and live good, strong Christian lives till death. Others come to Jesus as teenagers, young adults, middle-agers, and some in their senior years. A few even come to Christ on their deathbeds, like the thief next to Jesus. Luke 23:43~ Jesus answered him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (NIV) What reward do you think the dying thief received? I’ll tell you it was the gift of grace. Grace means not getting what we deserve. So, whatever God wanted to give him, is none of our business! We should all be happy that God shows amazing mercy and grace to whomever He chooses. Jesus ends the parable by repeating His last statement of 19 Matthew 20:16~So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (ESV) 

This means even in God’s kingdom many who have prominent places, perhaps pastoring mega-churches and having vast religious empires—will receive no more than the latecomer into the kingdom who has done far less. Many believers are unhappy because they can’t rejoice at their own blessings, instead of desiring to compare their blessings to others. Let me remind us of the ole old childhood adage, It’s unfair to compare. In modern speak, you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit. That is certainly true when it comes to God’s blessings. Psalm 146:5~Blessed (Happy, Joyful) are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. (NIV)

When is the last time you told the Lord, Thank You? This is what the upright in heart do, and they live in His Joy. happy every day. Instead of comparing, why not obey? Psalm 32:11~Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! (NIV) As you begin to pray today, ask God to flood your life with His unexplainable joy, as you embrace His sovereignty today. May the Lord bless you and fill you with the joy of His presence.



Putting envy to death

Does Envy lurk around in your life?  Then you need to immediately expel the envy that desires to bind you up. (Matthew 20:15) The word immediately means it could not have taken place sooner. Responding to the protest, the landowner asks two rhetorical questions. First, he asks in Matthew 20: 15~Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious (ὀφθαλμός ophthalmos πονηρός ponēros) because I am generous? (ESV) What he pays the late-comers is of no concern to the other workers. 

The question is do we begrudge what God does for other people? Do you give the evil eye, the stank eye? (ὀφθαλμός ophthalmos πονηρός ponēros) it means envious. When the Lord begins to bless others, what is your response? Do you fly the green flag of jealousy? The farmer is doing a great favor by giving them a job and paying a fair wage. Still, envy causes them to lose all appreciation for their blessings. Proverbs 14:30~A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (NIV) 

Modern medicine is just beginning to discover the truth of that verse. Envy removes joy out of our lives and prevents us from enjoying our blessings. It will also ruin our health. The envious could only focus on what they did not receive. Instead of rejoicing that they got a job and could feed their families, moreover, they were not elated at the good fortune of their coworkers. Instead, they are envious, angry, and bitter. Jesus isn’t teaching business ethics. He is talking about how things work in the kingdom of heaven. Now the vineyard is the kingdom of heaven, the vineyard owner is God, and the foreman is the Lord Jesus. 

Sometimes God allows life to appear to be unfair just so we can see what is really in our hearts. How we react to the blessings of others is a true test of our hearts. Because envy is such a horrible sin. Listen to how God groups them. Galatians 5:19-20a~The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; Galatians 5:20b-21~hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV) 

Did you hear them cluster like fruit? These are the fleshly fruit. Over the next 2 verses, God shares the fruit of the Spirit. So, not only does envy destroy happiness and health, but it is also one of the most harshly condemned sins in the Bible. Therefore, at the first sign of envy in our hearts, expel it immediately by repenting of this horrible sin. Say, God, I need your help. I simply cannot do this on my own. As you pray that prayer you will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit begin to lead you. Just follow Him and He will bring fresh change into your life.



7…David —Confessions of a King — Steadfast Integrity — 2 Samuel 2-5…Handout

How do we know if we’re a person of integrity? Integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking. Integrity requires our ethics and morals _____. Ethics—knowing right and wrong. Morals—living by the principles of right and wrong. So, does God change: Yes / No? (Malachi 3:6) Steadfast Integrity: Wait, Withhold, Work, Watch.

1)_____ on God (2 Samuel 2:1-4) 2 Samuel 2:1~In the course of time, David ______ of the Lord. Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah? he asked. The Lord said, Go up. David asked, Where shall I go? To Hebron, the Lord answered. (ESV) The Lord sends David to Hebron, about_____ miles south of Jerusalem. Jesus’ base of operation is_________, about 105 miles to the north. In 2 Samuel 2:4, David is anointed for the _______ time as king and he decides to rule as a man of integrity. Psalm 25:21~May integrity and uprightness protect me, for my hope, LORD, is in you. (NIV) Where is your hope?_____

2) Withhold________(2:4b-7) Criticism by definition is the expression of disapproval based on _________ faults or mistakes. Scripture teaches ___ interlocking principles; Build-up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) & Restore (Galatians 6:1). Remember being corrected is hard enough, thus, we must have the ________ attitude. 2 Samuel 2:5-6~. 2 Samuel 2:45~David sent messengers…May you be blessed by the Lord, because you showed this loyalty to Saul…may the Lord show steadfast love and_________ People without integrity are always anxious to criticize _ others, especially a predecessor. As David knows well, _________ always divides people and he wants to unite all of Israel. Psalm 133:1~How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in _____! (NIV)

3) Work For Peaceful Resolution (2:8-4:12) David grows stronger. 2 Samuel 3:1~There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew ________ and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker. (ESV) 2 Samuel 3:6~While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. (ESV) This reveals a lack of integrity. Proverbs 16:7~When a man’s ways_______the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (NIV) David unaware of Abner’s treachery throws him a banquet for the peaceful settlement. Which infuriates Joab who kills Abner in retaliation for his brother. To punish and humiliate Joab, David orders him and his men to _______ over Abner. David himself weeps aloud at Abner’s tomb, for he had been a_____ warrior and ________ general to Saul. 

4) Watch Out In Success (5:1-25) Here we witness David, for a _____ time is anointed, king. Oftentimes when ________ unity we need a buy-in. David’s first act as king is brilliant because he provides a way to unite, Israel in a singular cause. What is the cause?________ _____________ We have just witnessed ___of the most important events in world history. #1_____becomes king  and #2 ________becomes the capital. 2 Samuel 5:10~ And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, was with him. (ESV) Take-A-Step:_____________________________________