Bible reading for September 15.
2 Samuel 11.
"It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful." (2 Samuel 11:2)
SEX AND POWER. Most Christian men know the story of David and Bathsheba better than the story of David and Goliath. This story is especially relevant to men... the pitfall which comes with idleness, a beautiful and forbidden woman, opportunity, and lack of accountability. David should have been doing something productive rather than sleeping in the afternoon and channel surfing the rooftops. David, like many near-eastern kings, felt entitled to the extra pleasure that came with power and authority. How many leaders down through history (and today) have fallen through affairs, pornography, or some other sexual sin. The evil mounts up: sight is followed by the deed, then there is deception and cover-up. Others are involved in sin, and conspiracy, and finally murder (compare with Genesis 3). David needed accountability -- people who would say "no" to him along the way. He will, however, be called to account by the prophet Nathan in the next chapter.
REFLECT. How powerful is our sexual drive, and not always just in males. But all men -- and younger men especially -- do need accountability in this area. We live in a world saturated with sexual images and temptations. We need humble transparency with a few other believers to be able to admit these temptations and deal with them before the Lord. What are some ways we can help one another to combat sexual temptation and sin? Who can you pray for today to have strength in the Lord to maintain purity of thought and deed?
BTW, here's a good article by Thomas Chalmers on how a greater love can help us subdue other drives in our life: monergism.com/expulsive-power-new-affection
2 Corinthians 4.
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
LOSING HEART. In chapter 3 the Apostle Paul wrote about the nature of new covenant ministry. Effectiveness comes from the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of people. And yet weariness, or "losing heart" (v 1), may come upon us as we seek to serve others with the gospel. Pastors, parents, teachers, evangelists, and disciplers all may arrive at the point of burn-out, or feeling like "what's the use"? Here are seven truths I see in this chapter that may help us avoid burn-out in ministry. (Maybe you will find more!)
1) The importance of a clear conscience in our ministry approach (v 2). We get weary when we try too hard to appeal to the world or to make the gospel successful by our own means and strategies. We are simply to speak "the open statement of the truth".
2) Christ is Lord (not us) and we serve others for Jesus' sake (v 5). In other words, serving others does not mean meeting their every need or wish. We serve the Lord, and his yoke is easy and his burden light (cf Matt 11:28-30).
3) Our weakness and frailty become the very platform (like a clay pot) for the display of God's life and power (vv 7-12; cf 2 Cor 12:9-10).
4) Our labor for others will bear fruit for the glory of God, and together with them we will be raised to eternal life in God's presence (vv 13-15; cf 1 Cor 15:58).
5) God is renewing our inner man day by day even as we grow older and wear out (v 16). He himself keeps us from being overwhelmed and going under.
6) Our suffering in this life is nothing compared to the eternal weight of glory coming (v 17). We should think much of the glorious world to come.
7) We should keep your eyes on the eternal, unseen things (v 18). Everything else will pass away, even our tiredness!
REFLECT. What have you learned from reading this chapter to help you not lose heart today? How can we encourage others who seem too tired to carry on?
Image credit: photo of yoked oxen team in Williamsburg, VA. Author unknown. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.