Sin Is Heavy

Posted by Melissa

Think about the last time you felt like you had a weight on your shoulders. Maybe you were worried about something or someone. Maybe you knew somewhere deep inside that the way you were living was wrong. Whatever the reason, how did it feel when that weight was finally lifted? Good or bad? Why?

Read Psalm 51:1-4, concentrating on verse 2.

What was the weight on David’s shoulders?

When have you felt the weight of sin in your life?

In verse 2, David asked God to cleanse him from his sin. Why is that important?

Why can’t we get rid of our sin on our own?

What sin in your life are you trying to manage rather than confess?

What steps will you take today to let go of that sin and let God lift your burden?

David was weighed down by the burden of his sin. Try as he might, David had discovered he couldn’t manage his sin. He couldn’t control it; he couldn’t get rid of it; he couldn’t fix the broken relationship with God. Broken, he came to God and confessed his sin.

When we do that, God doesn’t just restore His relationship with us; He also forgives us and lifts the burden of our sin, freeing us from it. Sin traps us and weighs us down, but we don’t have to stay that way. Confess your sin today and let God lift the weight of it off your shoulders.

Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. —Psalm 51:2

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Take Responsibililty

Posted by Melissa

When you play hide-and-seek with a 3-year-old, you don’t have to have a lot of strategic plans in order to win. That’s because 3-year-olds think they’re hidden when they’re not. The child may think he or she has found the perfect hiding place, but to you, his or her location is easy to spot. Now what does that have to do with sin?

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-12. Really pay attention to verse 7.

Who was Nathan and why did God send him to talk to David? (Nathan was a prophet of God.)

How would you summarize the story Nathan told David?

Why did Nathan tell David the story rather than just launching into the list of David’s sins? What does that teach you about God?

What was the symbolism in the story?

What was David’s reaction to Nathan’s tale?

What do these verses teach you about God’s response to sin?

How did David respond when he recognized his sin?

How should you respond when you recognize sin in your life?

Just like a 3-year-old playing hide-and-seek, sin can’t stay hidden for long. David thought he’d hidden his sin pretty well. Then, Nathan showed up. God knew about David’s sin, and that sin was causing problems in their relationship. You can’t hide your sin from God; He knows it and wants to forgive you and get His relationship with you back on track. But you have to take responsibility for your sin. Being forgiven begins with admitting to God that you have sinned. When you confess your sin and repent from it, meaning you turn from it, God freely forgives. What do you need to do today to feel His forgiveness in your life?

Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.’” —2 Samuel 12:7

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Stop The Cycle of Sin

Posted by Melissa

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. How many times have you heard that little proverb? The problem? That saying is true.

Think about it. When has a decision to do one wrong thing led to a whole cycle of wrong in your life? What did you learn about yourself? How did you feel? Did everything spiral out of control? Explain.

Concentrate on verse 15 as you read 2 Samuel 11:6-17.

What was the first sin David committed?

How did he try to cover it up?

What was Uriah’s reaction when David tried to set his first cover-up plan into motion?

How is Uriah’s response an honorable response?

How does his honorable response compare to David’s behavior?

How did one sinful choice in David’s life spiral out of control?

What does this series of events in David’s life teach you about sin in your life?

What steps will you take today to stop the cycle of sin in your life?

David’s decision to sleep with Bathsheba led to a cycle of sin that overtook his life. Trying to cover up that first sin led to deception, lies, and eventually murder. David, the man after God’s own heart, had chosen to sin. Before he knew it, sin ruled his life. That’s what sin does. It destroys and generally leads to more sin and more consequences. Before we know it, one sinful choice has spiraled out of control and now sin rules every part of our lives.

If that describes you today, there is a way out of sin’s trap. Let it go. Admit your sin to God, turn away from it, and let His forgiveness and restoration play out in your life. Let Him control your life rather than a cycle of sin you can’t escape from.

In the letter he wrote: Put Uriah at the front of the fiercest fighting, then withdraw from him so that he is struck down and dies. —2 Samuel 11:15

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No Immunity

Posted by Melissa

Read 2 Samuel 11:2-5.

I won’t ever do that!, we say to ourselves as we look at someone else’s sin. What are the sins you’ve promised yourself you’d never commit? Lying? Becoming addicted to pornography? Premarital sex? Treating some people better than others? Saying one thing and doing the opposite?

The thing is, none of us are immune to sin. Actually, sin is hardwired into us, thanks to the sin nature we inherited from Adam and Eve. It’s easy for us to stand at a distance and point our fingers and say, “I’ll never do that!” But the truth is, we’re all capable of all sin at any given moment.

Nothing proves that truth more than today’s Scripture passage. Earlier, in 1 Samuel 13:14, David had been described as a man who was loyal to God, a man after God’s own heart. Yet in today’s passage he chose to sleep with Bathsheba, who was someone else’s wife. David was the king and a man after God’s own heart. And what he had done was wrong. At this point in his life, when he was given the opportunity, he chose to sin. David wasn’t immune to sin, and neither are you.

But as a believer, you can also choose not to sin. Christ has given you the strength and power to choose right over wrong, but you have to make that choice. Recognize that you aren’t immune to sin. Then, take steps to decide how you’ll react when opportunities to sin come along, because they will. You aren’t immune to sin, but you can overcome it with Christ’s help. The question is, will you let Him help you?

David sent messengers to get her, and when she came to him, he slept with her. Now she had just been purifying herself from her uncleanness. Afterward, she returned home. —2 Samuel 11:4

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Build Up Each Other

Posted by Melissa

Did you hear about . . . ? There they go again. It’s the Monday morning gossip time before school. You know you shouldn’t listen, but you don’t want to be in the dark either. But if they’re talking about other people, they may talk about YOU when you’re not around. This really has to stop, but how?

Read Ephesians 4:29-32. Look carefully at verse 32.

According to these verses, what type of conversation should you avoid?

What is the only good reason for talking about someone?

How is it possible to grieve the Holy Spirit?

What are the negative attitudes mentioned in these verses that must be removed from your life?

What does it mean to “be kind and compassionate” in your everyday life?

What are some actions you should take if you want to be like Jesus?

Why should you make an effort to forgive others?

Words are one of the most powerful things we possess. Words can build up or destroy. In Ephesians, we receive specific instructions on how to use our words: only to build each other up and to be kind and compassionate to one another. You may not be there yet. You may need to cut ties with some people you know to give yourself the opportunity to have these types of conversations. In the end it will be worth it as God leads you to more positive relationships.

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
—Ephesians 4:32

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It’s Time For An Attitude Check

Posted by Melissa

What a day! First you overslept and had to run to catch the bus. Then, you found out you made a D on a math test. Again. You heard your best friend Marisol is moving out of state. Then you remembered you had promised to take your next door neighbor to youth group tonight. How are you supposed to be friendly and excited about church when you have had such a terrible day?

Read Galatians 5:22-26. Pay attention to verse 22.

What are the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit?

If you belong to Christ, what areas of the flesh should you get rid of in your life?

If you live by the Spirit, what attitudes should you avoid?

Name some practical ways to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

What are some obstacles that prevent the Spirit from being in control of your life?

Look at the words that describe the fruit of the Spirit. Which ones do you struggle with the most?

Which ones best describe you?

The fruit of the spirit’s not a….(what’s your favorite verse?)

The fruit of the Spirit. What a challenge! How can we live for God and be the type of person described in these verses? Consider kindness. How can kindness be a natural part of your life? It may not come naturally, but it IS possible. Pray and ask God to give you the strength to overcome weaknesses that may keep you from having the fruit of the Spirit. Even when you have a bad day, God can give you the power to live for Him and communicate His kindness and love to others.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith. —Galatians 5:22

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It’s Worth The Effort

Posted by Phil

The challenge was clear at church yesterday: Do a random act of kindness for someone today. You decide to visit Mrs. Johnson, your first grade Sunday School teacher. She had a stroke and hasn’t been to church in over a year.

But it’s getting late, and you can’t find her house in the dark. Should you just forget it? After all, she didn’t know you were coming, and she may not even remember you. Is it really worth the effort?

Read 2 Samuel 9:4-6. Check out what happened in verse 6.

Why was it so important for David to find members of Saul and Jonathan’s family?

How was David’s search influenced by his past relationship with Jonathan?

How do you think Mephibosheth felt when he heard about David’s request to see him?

What was Mephibosheth’s reaction when he was brought to David?

Why was David excited to see Mephibosheth?

Have you ever consciously looked for someone to whom you could express kindness? Was it worth the effort? How did they react?

Do you usually wait until opportunities to help others come to you? Why or why not?

Is it easier for you to be kind to people you know or to people you don’t know? (For example, on a mission trip.)

David was determined to make a connection with Jonathan’s family. When he found Mephibosheth, he was excited about the opportunity he had to make a difference in the life of Jonathan’s son. Being kind to Mephibosheth took effort and David wasn’t getting anything out of it, but he still chose to honor Jonathan’s son with kindness. He was intentional. He was kind even though Mephibosheth had nothing to offer him in return. What about you? Will you become intentional about serving others?

Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, bowed down to the ground and paid homage. David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“I am your servant,” he replied. —2 Samuel 9:6

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Pay It Forward

Posted by Phil

Read 2 Samuel 9:1-3.

A PROMISE IS A PROMISE. When David searched for the family of Saul and Jonathan, his goal wasn’t to hurt them, but rather to care for them. David and Jonathan had been dear friends, and Jonathan had even saved David’s life by telling him he was in danger—even though Jonathan’s father, King Saul, was the one who wanted David dead. During that time, Jonathan asked David to express love for his family, regardless of what happened in the future. (See 1 Sam. 20:13-17.)

Fast forward to 2 Samuel 9:1. David made a special effort to find the family of Saul and Jonathan so he could make good on Jonathan’s request and show kindness to his family. Even though Saul and Jonathan had died (1 Sam. 31:2-6), David remembered the kindness Jonathan had shown to him and was determined to pay it forward to Jonathan’s family. It would have been easy for David to conveniently forget his promise and overlook a chance to be kind to someone, but he didn’t.

What about you? Think about times when others have expressed kindness to you, not for a reward but because they cared about you. Consider situations when your parents or other family members have made an effort to do something special for you.

Kindness is a powerful way to express love to your family, friends at Camp Crestridge, or even a stranger. You can make someone’s day through an act of kindness. And sometimes, being kind to someone is a choice.

Make that choice today.

David asked, “Is there anyone remaining from Saul’s family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?” —2 Samuel 9:1

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Posted by Phil

God’s plans are often different from ours. Let that sink in. God’s plans are often different from yours.

Are you content when others are given credit and you are forgotten? As Christians, we should be content for God to fulfill His plans however He sees fit. Are you willing to rest in God’s wisdom, power, and faithfulness?

Don’t miss verse 16 as you read 2 Samuel 7:11b-16.

What does it mean that God will build a house for David?

Who was David’s son? (Solomon)

Who was the future Son of David who would ultimately reign over God’s people forever? (The Old Testament tells us that God was faithful to His promise in the reign of Solomon and ultimately in Jesus who will reign forever and ever. See Rev. 5:13.)

God invited David to stay focused on the tasks He had called him to do and not to focus on what others were doing. Is that advice you need to hear? Why?

Although David experienced great victories in his reign as king, God had determined David’s son, Solomon, would actually build the temple. It’s easy to look at all the people around you doing great things for God and start comparing. That’s not what He asks of us. God has specific tasks for you to do. Focus on them, be obedient to do what God calls you to do and go where He leads you to go. God’s plans include you—and those who follow you. Focus on the things God calls you to do and be obedient. Your obedience will have a lasting effect.

“Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.” —2 Samuel 7:16

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Let God lead. He knows what He’s doing.

Posted by Phil

Do you ever feel like God could never use you? What characteristics do you think God looks for in those who serve Him? Do you know of any examples in the Bible or history of unlikely men and women whom God used greatly? Name a few.

Read 2 Samuel 7:8-11a, focusing on verse 9.

What about David’s past made him an unlikely hero? (Hint: notice his former job!)

What do these verses tell us about David’s accomplishments and success?

Why should this have kept David humble?

How have you seen God’s hand in your own life?

Do you acknowledge that everything good in your life is due to God’s power and mercy? Why or why not?

David needed to be reminded that he was not ultimately the one doing great things for God. God is the One who had done great things for him, like raising him up from being a poor, unknown shepherd to the greatest king in Israel’s history. Today’s passage should encourage all believers to be grateful. Like David, we cannot take credit for any good that we have done. Our victories and achievements are gifts from the Lord. Whatever we accomplish is due to God’s power working through us. God is very active in our lives. God wants to direct your life and display His glory through it. Let God’s Word remind you daily that your success is the Lord’s work. It’s not about your plans or what you can do. It’s about what He can do. Let Him have control!

“I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. I will make a name for you like that of the greatest in the land.” —2 Samuel 7:9

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