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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Accrigs waterfall
Accrigs waterfall at the Bordner cabin in Swatara State Park, Lebanon County, PA.

"Nathan's Rebuke"

Personal note: I did not prepare a message yesterday due to recovering from a bike accident I had on Tuesday (see below for details)

Message summary: The word of rebuke can be painful but when one is receptive it can be of great benefit and blessing.

Note: Podcast not prepared for this message.

“The LORD sent Nathan to David” (2 Samuel 12:1). "You are the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7). "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

In 2 Samuel 11 the Bible records the account of David's sin with Bathsheba and attempted cover-up. David thought he had gotten away with it. We covered the sin and the cover-up in the previous two messages. But the chapter ends with these sobering words, "But the thing David had done displeased the Lord" (2 Samuel 11:27).

We don't know how much time transpired between David's cover-up of his sin with Bathsheba and the beginning of chapter 12. Assuming that the cover-up took place shortly after Bathsheba announced her pregnancy it would have been at least six months, perhaps longer. I wonder what David was dealing with during this time. Did he really think he'd gotten away with it? Had he somehow justified his actions? Was he dealing with secret guilt or sorrowful remorse?

"The LORD sent Nathan to David." The prophet Nathan comes on the scene. Although he had prior experience with David in his prophetic role his message of rebuke, condemnation and conviction was risky. What courage it would require for Nathan to complete this God-ordained prophetic mission! David, at the apex of his kingly authority, could easily and quickly do away with such a pesky prophet.

Nevertheless Nathan boldly approached David with an outstanding story analogous to the injustice of David's reprehensible deed. (2 Samuel 12:1-4) In an illustrative way he was setting a trap for David to walk right into, and David did not disappoint. Nathan tightened the noose with these words of stunning, forthright rebuke, "You are the man!" before launching into a prophetic declaration of judgment concerning David's sin.

NathanNathan had a word of rebuke for David. The word of rebuke can be painful but when one is receptive it can be of great benefit and blessing. Rebuke sounds so harsh and unloving. It's much easier to use words like edify, encourage, inspire...words that lift others up and leave them "feeling good".

But sharing and receiving the word of rebuke can be a blessing and is a necessary tool within our spiritual tool chest. We have all needed a loving rebuke at times. And like Nathan, God may at times call on us to do the rebuking. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

We believe one of the greatest marks of the contemporary church is a failure to use the word of rebuke which now is often interpreted as judging. With such a major emphasis on practicing tolerance, exhibiting a non-judgmental and loving attitude toward everything that comes down the pike, it's very hard to practice the God-ordained ministry of rebuke. It's out of sync with the emphasis and popular teaching of our day. What's more, confront somebody in their sin and you're liable to be labeled hateful and legalistic!

You probably know someone named Nathan. But like Stephen in the book of Acts, it's not a common Bible name. Apart from several unspecified genealogical references this is the only prominent Nathan in the Bible.

Nathan's brave rebuke turned out to be a redemptive blessing. However uncomfortable, it brought David to his proper senses as he forthrightly confessed, "I have sinned against the Lord." In receiving Nathan's rebuke and making his honest confession David took the first steps toward his journey to reconciliation with God, though he, his family, and the nation would deal with the spiraling consequences from his ruthless actions the remainder of his life, and the generations who followed.

How do you handle a needed rebuke? Do you get angry and harden your heart or like David do you see the blessing of rebuke? I have been blessed by rebuke, though at the time it was very humbling and uncomfortable. My posture can be one of defense, justification, and excuses or I can choose to be receptive when the rebuke accurately reflects my offense. Many years ago I was dealing with an issue in my life when a friend pinned me down (not literally) and spoke truth to my heart, essentially a rebuke. He was right and I am a better man today due to the blessing of his loving rebuke.

What do you do when God speaks to you about lovingly rebuking a brother or sister to help them get back on the right track? The tendency for many, including me, is to put off this call, agree to pray but not act. It's very hard to rebuke another believer and should come about only after a season of prayer. But we must be careful to obey if God is speaking. It's part of our calling, especially if we are a minister of the Gospel. (See 2 Timothy 4:2.)

As many know David humbly repented of his sin and received forgiveness but not without lifelong consequences. which we will consider in the next two messages.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it comes very naturally to encourage and instruct others in Your teachings. But it is far more difficult to bring loving rebuke and correction to one who has chosen to live in disobedience to Your commands. Help me to go forth as one pure in heart, humble in spirit, and earnest in prayer when I am commissioned to be Your messenger of life-giving rebuke. It wasn't Nathan who went after David, but it was You who sent Nathan, which served as the beginning of David's spiritual restoration. When the messenger is pure in motive and obedient to the Spirit's prompting, and the message is received in the right spirit, then correction will take place, just as it did with David. Though I cannot be assured of the desired results help me to find blessing in having been obedient to Your Spirit's leading. When I am the recipient of a rebuke may I respond in humility and receive the correction as though it were delivered personally from You and respond accordingly. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Personal note: Tuesday morning I went up to Swatara State Park to ride the trails. I began with a rail trail up along the Swatara Creek and then returned on the Bear Hole Trail, a logging type road on the other side of the creek which has some mountain biking characteristics. I wanted to see Bordner's Cabin and the Accrig's Waterfall and maybe see a bear!

Next thing I knew I was on the ground with really bad abrasions on my knees and arms and something with my left shoulder causing great pain in lifting my left arm.

I managed to get up and actually stopped at the cabin before the long ride back to the van. I stopped on the way home at White Oak Display in Palmyra for some first aid. I am very, very sore but thankful it wasn't worse. Today I may consider going to urgent care for my shoulder but I tend to put off doctoring as long as I can!

Lessons learned:
  • Wear a helmet (I was).
  • Keep my speed down! I was probably going 15-20 mph. It's so easy to go fast on an ebike.
  • I believe what happened is my handle bar got loose on the bumpy roads and it slipped and turned the tire perpendicular to the bike and thus I had a "hit a wall" type stop. (It was perpendicular when I got up) I need to check and tighten that fitting which I had not done since setting up the bike in November. Evidence that this was the culprit was how easy it was without tools to turn it back correctly.
  • Actually I think I will just stay off of off-road type trails or go very slow!
  • However I do plan if able to stay active and probably still take some risks as there are always some risks in life. I read this from John Carter, "The most destructive delusion of modernity - "safety first", eclipsing all other concerns. The idea that the purpose of life is to maximize its length, rather than its meaning."
I am grateful for neighbors and friends all over who have called, texted and emailed offering assistance. Of course Ester had to put it up on Facebook!

For the geographically curious I was in this area (google map)

This house will need some repairs but may be available at a reasonable price.
This is at the upper end of the rail trail on Swopes Valley Road. It's estimate on Zillow is $1,300!

Correction: Tom, a very observant reader pointed out this photo from Tuesday's message was actually Conoy Creek emptying into the Susquehanna River (not Conewago Creek)

Meanwhile: This is the view Brooksyne and Ester are enjoying in San Diego!

Pacific Ocean

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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