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Levi Lusko - Kings, Dragons, and a One-Night Stand

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Baby Monsters Series
1. Candybars, Squirrels and Homicide
2. Corpses, Hair-Cuts and Cabernet
3. Kings, Dragons, and a One-Night Stand
4. Redwoods, Revenge and Thirty Pieces of Silver

I have a message from the Baby Monster series that really shows clearly how baby monsters were responsible for taking down one of the most powerful, prolific, anointed, gifted, charismatic leaders the world has ever seen. His name is David. And this is his story. It comes to us courtesy of 2 Samuel 11. We're going to read a passage of scripture that condenses an entire year down to just 30 verses or so. And as we go through it, you're going to feel like, maybe, this is a lot of scripture. But it's really important because it allows us to get up in an airplane and look at this episode from his life from, sort of, 30,000 feet and gives us the perspective over this year-period to watch the baby monsters grow into the full-blown monsters because he failed to take them out when they were small.

So here's 2 Samuel chapter 11, starting in verse 1. The verses are going up right about there. "It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah". But notice, David stayed at Jerusalem. "Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, 'is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?' Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity".

That means she had just finished her period before this day. "And she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, 'I am with child.' In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, 'Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle and, retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.' So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also. When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David, and he came to him and said to him; 'there were two men in one city. One was rich and one was poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup'", that's just adorable, a little sheep drinking from a cup, "'And lay in his bosom'", stop it.

This thing's cuddly, too? "'It was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb, and he prepared it for the man who had come to him.'" Hoo, "David's anger was aroused greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'as the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.' Then Nathan said to David, 'you are the man!'"

And Father we pray that as we just consider for a moment these words, these scary words, these strong words, these words that are meant to be for us, a warning. Thank you so much that when you present the stories of men and women in scripture, you don't gloss over their failures. You present them for us because the point of the scriptures is not that we would think a lot of the heroes, but that we would see that you are the God who uses weak people and who sent your son to save us, who are all vulnerable, who are all able to fall, who are all weak at the end of the day. So we thank you that you are a great God who is merciful and full of compassion and that you died for us to save us from ourselves. And so we pray that in these moments you would stir in us, God, fear where there needs to be fear, hope, God, where there can be hope. And we pray, above all things, that if anyone has come in today listening to this message who doesn't know you as Savior that you would draw them to yourself, to salvation, so that they wouldn't be without God and without hope in this world. And we pray this in Jesus' name. amen.

One of my favorite things to do is to read to my kids. And it's a fun tradition. We've worked through a lot of different books, and they have their favorites. And some of them they know by heart, and some of them I know by heart. And you can tell the ones that you know by heart. The other day my wife caught me, I had fallen asleep while reading a book to my kids but was still reading. Like, I was out, my eyes were closed, but my lips were still, somehow, saying the words to this book. But one of my favorites in recent history is this book There's No Such thing as a Dragon. I don't know if you've read this book, but it's great. It's about a kid named Billy Bixbee. The author is Jack Kent. And in the book, Billy wakes up one day and there's a little dragon sitting on his bed, just a little, tiny, little thing. It's, like, the size of a kitten, just an itty bitty little dragon. He's surprised, so he comes downstairs. The dragon follows him. And he tells his mom there's a dragon in my room. And his mom, of course, tells Billy, before she sees the dragon, there's no such thing as dragons.

And Billy's like, well, that's strange because there's one right there. And the mom, now she sees the dragon, too, but she can't go back on her word. She had said there's no dragons, so she pretends like she can't see the dragon. And as she does, the dragon begins to grow. Soon it's eating Billy's pancakes. Billy is frustrated because he's hungry, breakfast being the most important meal of the day, and all. But she makes more pancakes. And she continues to try and persuade her son there's no such things as dragons while the dragon continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger and more of a problem and making more of a mess. And soon it is so big, it is filling up the hallway, filling up the living room. Its scaly wings are sticking out of windows. This thing is enormous. It's grown to catastrophic proportions. And Billy is frustrated. He's trying to tell his mom there's a dragon. She doesn't believe there is one, so he's like, well, maybe there isn't one.

Well, now, eventually, the dragon picks up the entire house. It's wearing the house like a little backpack, and, eventually, just kind of starts cruising down the street. He's just knocking stuff over because he saw an ice cream truck go by, so he's trying to get the ice cream and, you know, it's based on a true story. Billy's dad shows up from work, and he's surprised to find no home where his house normally is. His neighbors were good enough to point to the dragon going down the street wearing the house like a backpack. And so he starts chasing it down. He sees Billy and his mom up in the window, and he's like, what's going on? And then Billy's like, it's the dragon. His mom's like, there's no such thing as dragons, son. His dad says, that's true, there is, technically, no such things as dragons. And Billy gets so frustrated with his parents that he finally shouts out at the top of his lungs, there is such a thing as a dragon.

There's one right there, and it's huge. And at that exact moment, the dragon, now that it's noticed and they're all acknowledging it's there, it begins to shrink back down to its normal size. And of course, the moral of this story, and the moral of the story that we just read, is that when you deny something that's clearly there is actually there, all it does is get bigger and create more problems. Here in David's life, we're reading a chapter of his story that, quite frankly, I would be fine with not being in the Bible. I don't know about you. This is not how I want to remember David. Now, anybody ever feel like David and Goliath is, like, one of those great inspiring stories we often come to? Anybody ever been encouraged reading from the book of Psalms? Anybody love that David, when he had a terrible boss trying to throw spears at him, David would just duck and keep serving the cruel king? And just, like, it encourages us, you know.

We've all had that boss and it's like, I'm going to be like David, I'm going to be like David, I'm going to be like David. And there's so much from David's life that's encouraging: David the shepherd, David the King, David the poet, David the man after God's own heart. What is this? Here, in one fell swoop, he breaks half the 10 commandments on one day. It's like, what? He's coveting, committing adultery, committing murder, covering it up. It's like, this is not the David that I fell in love with in Sunday school. But what we need to pay attention to is the fact that these sins that eventually reached Costco-sized proportions started out small. They started out benign. They started out innocent enough. They started out as kitten-sized dragons, as baby monsters, if there ever were one. What do you mean? I mean, David's seeds that led to these enormous deeds actually began with him being lethargic. Would you jot that word down? I see the beginning of this terrible chapter in David's life when he was just chilling when he should have been getting after it.

In the first verse that we read, it said this was the time of the year when kings go out to battle. And then it says, but David stayed home. The kings go out to battle, but David sent Joab, his general, and said, you take care of this one. If the kings are going out to battle, the scripture's telling us that not for no reason. It's the time of the year when kings go out to battle. David's the king. David doesn't go out to battle. What is the Bible trying to tell us? David is not where he's supposed to be. The point is he never would have been home to see Bathsheba if he would have been out on the battlefield like he should have been. He was sitting around exposing himself to more temptation than he needed to. He couldn't have been doing what he shouldn't have been doing if he simply would have been doing what he should've been doing. And you're like, thank you Dr. Seuss, but I'm sure David had a good reason. No, you're right. You're thinking David's the king, after all. He probably had things to take care of. He probably needed to send Joab to be his proxy on the battlefield because he had urgent kingly business to take care of.

Levi, you don't know him. You can't be judging him like you know him. You're right. Good point. That's true. David did have urgent things to take care of. In fact, if we read this from another translation, it actually shows us what was so busy that would keep David from the battlefield like he should have been as a king. Are you ready for it? Verse 2, it says, "One late afternoon, David got up from taking a nap". Oh, yeah, he was very busy. With a late afternoon nap. And so it was, after his nap was over, he's like, what's on my calendar today? Oh, I think I'll stroll on the roof. Strolling! This is not a man with a full calendar. This is a man who you can almost hear the rustling of his robe in the breeze as he strolls about the palace. Do I feel like taking a shower today? Nah, I really don't feel like taking a shower. It's too busy for a shower. Right? I've got to stroll on the roof of my palace. He never would have been there to see Bathsheba if he'd have been out fighting like he should have been.

Now, don't hear this as the anti-vacation sermon because that's not what this is, because it said, clearly in the text, "in the spring of the year when it was battle time". What does that mean? There have been a whole winter when it wasn't battle time. He had just finished a whole season that was, by definition, a time of recuperation, of recalibration, of where they couldn't fight because back in those days the wheels of the chariots couldn't work in the winter because then it would be muddy. And so that was when, after the final rainy season was over, they could, eventually, resume the battles. That was when you could get back down doing what you're supposed to be doing. But David didn't do it. You ask me why, here's why. Because David's now 50, and he had been a king for 20 years. And before that there were 10 years when he acted like king because God called him as king, but he wasn't recognized as king yet. And oftentimes, that's how it works. Our God seems to like to give people callings and, then, all but do everything short of keeping them from doing it to see if they trust him more or they love his plan.

You see what I'm saying? A lot of times, God tucks dreams in our hearts for what's going to be but, then, puts us in times of adversity to see if we're out for blessings or out for the blesser, if we trust him to see if we're really capable of handling the kind of blessing that he wants to give us. And so David's anointed as king, and then life gets more complex and more difficult. And that happens again and again and again throughout scripture. And as I look back on our ministry time here at Fresh Life, and, really, my whole life, there's never been a time when there was a great time of blessing without it being, simultaneously, a time of challenge, a time of difficulty, a time of us needing to stay humble. Otherwise, we would get full of ourselves. Otherwise, we would get too big for our britches and our heads would grow. God, oftentimes, allows those thorn-in-the-flesh-type seasons to keep us dependent on him. But we have to always have the perspective to keep going out to battle and keep embracing difficult things because comfort zones don't keep your life safe. They keep your life small.

And so David should have been going out to battle and sleeping on that cot in a tent and with the other soldiers. But he thought, you guys go. I'm staying here in the palace. I got some napping to do. I got some strolling to do. Let me tell you, Church, the moment you shift into a cruise control, you're doing something that's toxic for your soul. Someone told me once, I was talking to an older guy in our church, and I said, what team are you serving on? You can come before and you can start serving to me, serving in the church in some way. And he said to me, no, I used to go to a church, and I was there for a lot of years. I helped out in a big way. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I helped out in a big way with some building campaigns. And he said, I've paid my dues. I've paid my dues. I said, man, God must be really grateful that you've paid all your dues. I literally, I was just shocked and flabbergasted to hear him speak in such a way. But that's David here. David feels like, I've paid my dues. I've served for 20 years. I was the lead usher. No one ushed like I ushed. I've paid my dues.

Thank you, Jesus, for hanging on the cross to buy me from the auction block of sin and purchase me from hell. But now, I've paid my dues because I put in 20 hard, what are we talking about here? 'I've paid my dues.' David's there where he shouldn't be, sauntering around the palace when he should be out on the battlefield. Heaven help us, Fresh Life Church, to keep going out to battle like kings. Help us to keep advancing, to keep beginning the year with a spirit of fasting and dependence on God. Come on. Let's continue to advance. Let's never be content with what God's done. Let's never shift into cruise control. Let's keep fighting for those who don't know Jesus yet. Let's be willing to be uncomfortable. Let's keep risking the ocean. Let's keep stepping out in faith. Let's keep giving big and offering big and trusting God to do more. Let's keep inviting our friends and never just come to church and get our little blessing and then go back to our normal life. Let's keep agitating. Let's keep poking the devil in the eye. Let's keep stretching our faith.

And I pray that that's our heart. Why? Because if you're not actively moving forward, you'll automatically start sliding backwards. The Christian life is an uphill battle through the mud. And so we must always be stretching, always be going, always be doing something stupid, in a good way. That's something that people will go, ah, that's crazy. Hudson Taylor once said, "unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith". And when you're living a life where you don't need faith, you're not going to be trusting God, and then you're ripe for temptation to attack. So David was, what was he? Lethargic. Then temptation shows up and he was lenient. He was lenient on the small sin that first popped up. This little temptation, what was it? OK. So he's on the roof now. Shouldn't have been there, but, OK, he's there.

Now, he sees this lady. She's bathing. If you go to Jerusalem, and maybe someday we'll take a tour of Israel as a church, and you'll notice that there's hills. And David's palace would've been on the top of the hill. And because the terrace hillside, he would've been able to see onto the roof of where Bathsheba was taking her bath on the roof. And he sees her, and then the text says she was beautiful to behold. Now, there's a difference in the two Hebrew words that's used. One is to see, like I noticed that. The other is to stare and to gaze and to focus on that. Two different words. He saw her, but then found that she was beautiful to gaze at. Now, check this out. The first thing he did was see her. That wasn't a sin. And the devil always wants you to feel like being tempted is a sin. But it's not. Why does he want you to think that? Because he knows whenever the first domino falls, the second domino falls easier, and the third falls easier, and it gains momentum as it goes.

Why? Because, well, the first time you break your diet, that's really hard. All of your willpower is there because you have that good record you don't want to break. But then, once you've done it once, it's easier to do it again, and then you're... That's just me. Anybody else? The fifth donut goes down so smoothly. But the first one I thought about for a long time. All right. So here we are, sorry. All my temptation from fasting. Go away. Go away. Go away. So the devil wants you to think that to be tempted is wrong, but feeling like you could do something wrong is not wrong. It's only wrong when you take that bait. So you need to know that. So every temptation is an intersection, and you always have a choice. So David saw her, could've looked away. Dang, gonna put a hedge there. Got to call the landscaper, get some big trees here. Man. Right? He didn't do that though. He saw her, now he's tempted. And what does he choose to do? He chooses to gaze, chooses to take a second look, chooses to now fantasize, chooses to dwell on this.

So to see something, it pops up, it happens. You don't have to choose to stare. At the beach, you don't have to choose to continue, just throw your sunglasses on, no one knows, out of your peripheral vision. Oh, yeah. No, no. Listen, listen, listen. To be tempted is not a sin. To give into that temptation is. So David was lenient on that first temptation. Oh, what does it matter? I would never do anything. I'm a married man. I'm married to 10 women. David had 10 wives, just so we're all clear on this. So we already see about that. And you're going, that's crazy. Well, on that day that would have been nothing for a king to have 10 wives. But God specifically commanded the kings of Israel to not multiply to themselves wives or money or gold, that's the same as money, Levi, or horses, the same way the other kings did because he knew it would became a snare to their heart.

So David was already violating that in having wives, multiple, OK? So now, what does that tell you, by the way? That sin never satisfies. You'd think a guy with 10 wives, why would he even care about this unmarried woman? Because sin is always about what you can't have in the moment. So sin will never ever reach a point where it says, that's enough. What do you need to do that for? You've had plenty. Sin will always want more and more. It's like drinking salt water. The more you drink, the thirstier you become. So you'll never be satisfied because there's always going to be forbidden fruit. So if you think while you're single that if you sleep with that girl you'll be happy; if, once you marry her, she won't be the forbidden fruit anymore. There will be new forbidden fruit, and it's the person you're not married to. And if you get her, there will be new forbidden fruit. There's always, always, always, always, always forbidden fruit because there will always be what you can't have in the moment.

So David's lenient on the small sin of fascinating and peeping and violating this girl's privacy. And so what happens? It just grows bigger and bigger and bigger until, eventually, he's having sex with her. He calls for her, and, man, all along the way, do you not see God giving him opportunities to stop? He says to his servants, hey, uh, do you know who lives down there in that brown house with the chimney? They're like, do you mean the one with the woman taking a bath on it? And he's like, oh, yeah, who's that? And they go, oh, it's Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, one of David's soldiers, Eliam. Oh, yeah. That's a good point. All right. Have a good day. Back to my nap. Oh, she's the wife of Uriah. Who's Uriah? One of David's most loyal, mighty men who had been risking his life for David since before he was king. Is that not the opportunity, when she's somebody's daughter, when she's somebody's wife, when that man, Uriah, her husband, is out there fighting in the battle that David should be fighting at this moment? But what does David say? You know, I would love to meet her, thank her for her service to her country. Do you want me to have her brought to your office? No, I'll actually have some stuff to hang in my bedroom. Have her brought to my bedroom.

And of course, one thing leads to another. David's lenient on it when it's small. And so it just grows and grows and grows and grows and grows. Eugene Peterson, on his book, Leap Over a Wall, on the life of David, puts it this way, how David was able to go from one to another to another to another, he says, David didn't feel like a sinner when he sent for Bathsheba; he felt like a lover. David didn't feel like a sinner when he sent for Uriah; he felt like a king. The subtlety of sin is that it doesn't feel like sin when we're doing it. And that's truth. You should never expect while you're sinning to feel like it's sin. It always feels like you're doing something right in the moment. That's the nature of sin, is that it's deceitful, is that it lies to you and always focuses you on the pleasure and downplays any possible punishment. So now David's done what he's done. He sends her packing, no eggs, no coffee. She's just out of there. But the word soon comes back, I'm pregnant. Well, how do you know it's mine? I had just had my period before I came there. My husband's off at battle right now. It's yours.

So what does David do? Does he come clean? Does he call the prophet? Does he tell God, turn to him in prayer, own the consequence, the shoulder, the embarrassment, look his kids in the eyes and his wives in the eyes and tell them that he's committed adultery and done this? No, he doesn't. He shifts into the third phase of this story. That is the phase I'm calling "damage control". Damage control. All right. How do we control the narrative? How do we hide this? How do we cover this up? There's got to be way. I'm a king. I'm a chess player. How do I cover this up? I know. If Uriah comes home and has sex with his wife, he'll think the baby's his. So he sends for Uriah to come home, we didn't read it, but Uriah comes home. David thinks he'll go home and sleep with his wife, think the baby's his. But Uriah's an honorable man. And so when he calls for him, he says, what do you want, your honor? What can I do for you? Oh, I just wanted you to have a couple days off. Go on home. Enjoy. You've been a good soldier. But Uriah is wearing his armor and refuses to take it off. He says, I've got my brothers out there dying on the battlefield. How can I live like it's not war conditions? He sleeps on David's front porch, will not go home and do this.

And so David thinks, all right, this guy's tougher than I thought. I'll get him drunk. So he slips something into Uriah's drink, gets him drugged, thinking once he's out of it, he'll for sure go home. But listen to this, Uriah is more honorable drunk than David is sober, here. And even though he's all confused and disoriented, he once again sleeps on the front porch. And so David says, this guy has sealed his fate. So he writes a note to Joab saying, I want you to put him in the hottest part of the battle and make sure that Uriah doesn't come home, seals it with his signet ring, hands it to Uriah. And Uriah's so trustworthy, he doesn't open the letter and carries it to Joab, even though it has his own death sentence on the inside. As you read this story, Uriah comes out sparkling and is just an incredible man of integrity and character and honor. And so now Uriah is killed. Why? Because David is creating so much damage as he's trying to do damage control. And so it always is. And now Uriah is dead, David marries Bathsheba, and the baby is born "premature," and David thinks he has got away with it completely. But what was this year like for David, this year before this confrontation with Nathan? What was this year like for him? It was absolute misery.

In fact, he, later on, opened up about what the year of hiding was like in Psalm 32 when he said that this period of time his inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within his soul. Psalm 51, the deed he had done, he said, it haunts me day and night. So it always is because sin, which lies to us, always, when it pays, it pays in death. Proverbs 20 verse 7 says, "food gained by cheating tastes sweet to a man. But he will end up with a mouth full of sand". And tragically, in David's story, as in so many situations, it's his kids that suffer the most. He will be forgiven because God is a God of forgiveness and grace. And at the end of the day, our standing before him is not about our deeds. It's about the deeds of Jesus Christ. But the consequences that must be lived out of and dealt with, oftentimes, it shows up worst in the successive generations. And so it is in David's life. But that's not the end, the damage-control era, because then David enters into the most poisonous, the most dangerous period of his life, and that's where he becomes pious. Pious. And what does pious mean? Pious means inflated self-righteousness. It means smug. It means holier-than-thou. It's where you're really, on the inside, full of deceit, but the veneer you put up to project to the world is everything's fine. I'm perfect. David was still doing this year showing up at the temple, doing all the sacrifices, all the things everybody would accept.

So he was going through the motions of religion, but he had a wall barricaded between him and God. There was no sweetness. There was no intimacy. There was no friendship. All of that inner life had dried up through his choosing. He wasn't drawing near to God. And as a result, during this time, what happened? What happens to all of us? We become Pharisees. When there's no inward life but you're still going through the motions, it's so easy to have this great sense of piousness. What does that mean? I'm saying this, that often those who are the most openly judgmental are actually, secretly, hypocritical. There is a connection between being openly judgmental, denouncing sin. I've read some Facebook pages. It's just, like, everyday, what sin are you there to denounce? How wicked and vile is the world? But a lot of times there's a link between being openly judgmental and being secretly hypocritical. Jesus put it this way. He said, usually it's the person who has a plank sticking out of their eye. Right?

They were working in the shop and a little splinter came off the wood. Now they have a two-by-four, Jesus is the best. You read his stuff and it's funny. Imagine a two-by-four sticking out of someone's eye who then, as he walks around, says, hey, you got something in your eye. And you're like, what do I got in my eye? A little bit of sleep. You got a little sleep in here. Let me help you. And like, they turn to help you and they're knocking stuff off the shelves. Do you want that guy to help you get the sleep out of your eye? That guy's got a two-by-four sticking out of his eye, but he's going, hey, hey, hey, hey, wicked sinner, repent. Get over here. Let me help you out. Right? It's like, no, thank you. That's David here. And it reaches a boiling point when he hears the story about a guy who killed baby Lamb Chop, the pet. Even though he had all these herds, he had thousands of sheep, but he chose to take someone's precious little pet that slept in his own bed. And Nathan knew what he was doing because David was a shepherd and he risked his life to save sheep from wolves and from bears and from lions.

So when he hears about this rich guy that had no pity. One translation puts it this way: does this man think there's no justice in my kingdom? Does he think I won't deal with this? I am Batman. When you're living out of this judgmental spirit with death on the inside, you don't see clearly. So what did David say? I'm going to kill this guy, and then he's going to pay. Well, David, if he's dead, he can't pay, you know, because dead men can't pay. But he's not thinking clearly. He's just like, this guy's going to pay because it's the tell-tale heart of his own sin that he's actually speaking to. What David did was allow him to see himself in the mirror. And that's when David lovingly said, David, it was you that I was talking about. It was you that did these things. And David fell on his knees and repented because he realized that Nathan, his friend, was right. So here's my question: how can we avoid this from happening? Because it's great to pile it on David. But the real question: if it happened to him, it can happen to us, so how do we avoid that from happening? Because I guarantee you if you were able to sit down with David while he was penning Psalm 23, Because don't forget, you read that epic Psalm, the Lord is my shepherd, David had to write that.

So he's out alone in the fields, and there's probably, like, nine versions of how it starts. You know, originally, it was going to be, God takes care of me like a baby sheep. No, that's not, he crumples that one up. The Lord is my shepherd, I'm good. No, no, no. I shall not want. Ah, I got it. Bling, bling, bling. And if you would've said, hey, hey, David, you showed up in a DeLorean or something, hey, David. Hey, question. Do you think it's possible that one day you're going to have an affair and then murder one of your best friends to cover it up? Do you think it's possible that you'll ignore God for a whole year, you won't return his calls, but you'll still be showing up at church for a whole year? David would say there's no way I would ever do that. God's my shepherd. I have everything I need. And so here's my point: you and I, how many Psalm 23's have we written? Yeah, exactly. So if it can happen to David, we're not immune to this temptation. And any of us could do exactly what he's done or worse.

So how do we avoid such a thing? I jotted down three things, three things that could keep us from such a thing. And the first one is that we have to be open to conviction, open to conviction. We have to welcome, be receptive to the conviction of God's Holy Spirit because, no doubt, at every single moment, God was giving him the chance to do right. No one has overtaken any trespass except that which is common to man. And God always provides a way of escape. What does that way of escape look like? It's that little rumble strip, brrp, brrp, brrp. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Let's be receptive, speak, Lord, your servant is listening to conviction. The second ingredient is that we have to keep short accounts with God, keep short accounts with God, meaning don't let things pile up. Have you ever waited too long to balance your checking account? Have you ever waited too long to go through the receipts? And so then you're like, I don't remember what this was for. What was this one for? I don't remember what this one's for. And it's so intimidating because you allowed it to pile up, and so there's so much.

If you keep short accounts, meaning every day you go through and balance, every day you approach it, you deal with it when it's fresh, it's much easier to do. Let's keep short accounts with God. What does that mean? We are all going to sin, every one of us. So when you do rush to God, rush to him, rush to His presence, ask forgiveness. Don't let it pile up in your soul. Keep short accounts with God. And then third, have the right friends. I see in David's life, thank God he had Nathan, not just Joab. David had Joab in his life who didn't, Joab knew exactly what David was doing, and he helped him cover it up. And by the way, he never let him forget it. From this moment on, Joab will be uncontrollable by David because he has this over him, by the way. So here's my question: do you have a circle full of Joabs, or do you have some Nathans? Do you have people in your life who are going to help you on the path to sin? Or do you have people in your life who are willing to lovingly confront you when you're making decisions that will harm you? I see two sides of the Nathan. I see, hopefully, that we need to fill our lives up with Nathans.

And what a great opportunity for me to say that you should be in a small group. What a great chance for me to say you should be on a team here because if you have a team leader and you have people around you serving on a team within the Fresh Life Church family, then guess what. If you're chronically late, you have a team leader who's going to lovingly say, hey, I've noticed that you always hold everybody up. We've asked everyone to be here at this time. And they're able to deal with issues in your heart that would come from pride that would lead to a lack of punctuality. They will call out little things that, everyone wears this shirt, you don't like it. Everyone does this, you see what I'm saying? There's people who lovingly can address these little issues. Hey, it seems like the way you talk about your wife when she's not there, that's not the kindest. It seems like you interrupt a lot. You see what I'm saying? Do you have a life full of Nathans, or all you have is Joabs who are bad examples and not doing anything about the things that they're seeing in your life? But the second ingredient is that we need to learn to be Nathans, too, that we need to be Nathans, too.

And what I mean by that is that we know how to properly speak to people about the errors in their lives and the errors that we see in the world with grace and with truth, with love and honesty, but with a broken heart. Nathan didn't rush in to the room and say, you pervey, scummy sinner. Yeah I do follow some Christians on Facebook. You see what I'm saying? Yeah. Yeah. He was winsome. He knew how to speak to David. He knew how to not get David's shields up. And what an appropriate time for us to speak about the way that God always communicates love, always wants to give those who are in error the greatest chance of doing the right thing when we're currently sitting in this hallmark legislation, this law that's been passed in New York. And the eyes of the world, and certainly the nation, are on New York. And as it goes in New York, so often it spreads to the nation. And of course, we're talking about this law making abortions more guaranteed in New York to a later point of time. And yes, our hearts break when we think about babies being killed in the womb, babies being killed. Bathsheba said, I'm with child.

There's a child knit together by God in her womb. And we view life as sacred, and we view it as a gift from God, and we're made in God's image. But our hearts don't just break for the babies that are killed. Our hearts break for those, their experiences, that they would feel that there's no other choice but to do that in some situations. Not all are just frivolous, I want to have sex and not have consequences. Some are people, I don't know how I'm going to have a baby. I don't know what this is going to do to my life. Our hearts break for both sides of that. There are two victims when there's an abortion. There's a woman who has to live with that, and there's the baby, of course. So our hearts break with that, but not in a pious way, like we know better, and how evil are you. Our hearts should break on both sides of that issue and understand there are complexities. And the way that we speak about it should be with the wisdom and the dexterity and the love and the grace of a Nathan. Yes, it is evil, and it is vile. But it's not unprecedented. The Church was born into the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago at a point when it was common practice, if you had a baby and didn't want it for whatever reason, there was some sort of birth defect or it was a girl and you wanted a boy or you just didn't want any more kids, there was something called infant exposure. You would just toss the baby out and it would die.

Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, supposedly were just babies that were discarded. That was common practice. And you know what it was that upended the practice of infant exposure and eventually got that outlawed? It was Christianity in the Roman Empire. But it was not them posting on their Facebook page how evil and how vile it was. Yes, eventually, a bishop did get in the face of a king lovingly and encourage him to pass a law to outlaw it. But what it was was Christians who, during the plagues when people were dying who were Christians and non-Christians alike, dying because of the plagues at a rate where 5,000 people per day in the city of Rome were dying of the plague, it was Christians who were showing love to people who were dying of the plague. It was Christians who were putting themselves out there to help people who were dying. And when they would find a baby that was exposed and left to the elements, it was Christians who would pull them into their home. It was Christians who would give money to help mothers have the resources to be able to live with this child that she saw no other way but to get rid of and discard the baby. It was Christians not just speaking love, but living love and showing love and demonstrating love. And that is what changes the world.

And yes, there is a time to speak and to say, hey, this is evil, but to do so with a broken heart and to do so with the spirit of humility and to do so in a way that says I'm no better than you. My heart breaks for you, and I'm willing to help you. And that's why we, as a church, are not just committed to speak about that we're all made in God's image, therefore, life is sacred. But why we, as a church, give to support pregnancy centers in every city where we have as a church and have for years, and we'll continue to. Just to say to a young girl, this is wrong, but to not make it possible for her to see other options and to see how she can be taken care of and to actually be the hands and feet of Jesus, we can't just speak like a Nathan, we have to live like a Nathan, as well.

So those three things, I think, will keep us back from David's mistake here as he messed with the baby monster that eventually grew big enough to chew him up. What about Bill Bixbee, you're wondering. You're wondering how did Billy's story turned out. So the baby monster that grew big, eventually when it was recognized, it got small again. Now it's the size of a kitten, and the family's decompressing. And Billy's mom says, gosh, so I guess dragons are real. But why did it have to get so big? Billy said, I don't know, I guess it just wanted to be noticed. And if we will notice the baby monsters in our lives, they won't be able to grow. Why? Because sin grows best when it's left unaddressed. And when we'll address it, we won't be lethargic. We will be hungry. We won't be lenient. We will be disciplined. When we do sin, we won't be thinking damage control, damage control. We'll be thinking forgiveness. And there won't be a bit of piousness or smugness about us, we will be humble. In Jesus' name we pray.
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