We are going to talk from the Bible how we all can grow spiritually strong. Reading the Bible everyday, praying, coming for all the meetings, these are all the basic teachings we all learnt as a young Christian. We have been practicing this for years; some of us get up in the morning go out or open the Bible and have our Quiet time. Some of us don't miss the meetings regularly with out being told you made it as a good habit like Hebrew 10 say. Some of us come for all the meetings even if nobody reminds them; that is what the Bible tells us to do.
Some of us feel, since long time I had been attending the meetings regularly but I have not much grown and we feel we are struck some were. Today we are going to study out from the Bible how we all can grow spiritually. The test of our hearts come through relationships. When we are struck in our relationship we are struck as a Christian. When we grow in our relationship we grow as a Christian we understand more about God, the fellowship we have with him and with each other. So! Our relationships are very important, as a church we encourage having a strong relationships with one another.
We encourage discipling one another we have diciplers, leaders and teachers, who are there to help us grow spiritually strong. One another relationship encourages others in their spiritual growth. We are going to learn from David's life how his relationship was, did it help him or it hurt him. David had many relationship, all the people around him influenced him. He had godly men and people around him like Samuel, Nathan, Jonathan and also Saul who was a king above him when he was alive. He had many children like Solomon who encouraged him. One of his sons Absalom used to hurt him because he wanted David's post.
Right from the childhood people were around David. When he was a child he had elder brothers and he was the youngest of all, he was a shepherd boy and probably he wanted to go to school like others, may be every one looked down on him. When we look at David's life- what really tested his heart and how spiritual he was in his relationship with people around him? Some of the relationship encouraged him and nurtured him spiritually, lifted him up; inspired him boosted him to do spiritually good and motivated him to be strong spiritually.
But some of the relationship tested his heart and brought the worst emotions out of David. And it tested what he was made spiritually. Sometimes we feel we are very spiritual, we are very kind not like that fellow who is very rude. We are so good, we have patience, We have self-control, we are so joyful not like this fellow always frowning and we feel we are so good. Somebody is testing us it could be our wife, our friend, it could be our discipler, it could be our disciple. It could be our sister or brother who is living with us. It could be our parents it could be any body who is around us. These are some things that can tell us who we are.
When we get angry we will say, see you are making me angry its all others fault. I am not somebody who gets angry because of him I get angry all the time. As a non Christian I was very kind, I became like this after my marriage. Only when she is nagging me and troubling me I get angry other wise I am very kind to people. What we do? We blame others for our sinful nature. Some times we look at the relationship in a very worldly way we don't look at the relationship in a spiritual way. Today we are going to see about David how different relationship helped him or hurt him or changed him.
1. We need a Jonathan
1 Samuel 18:1-9
1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house.
3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
5 Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people, and Saul's officers as well.
6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.
7 As they danced, they sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands."
8 Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?"
9 And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
Here we see David's two relationships one was Jonathan the other was Saul the king. Jonathan's relationship was very refreshing for David not competitive even though he was king's son. Jonathan should be the next king but he said take my clothes and take my possession I don't care I just want to be your friend. Do you have a Jonathan in your life? Who loves you as he loves himself, we need those friendships. In church we need those relationships. We need some body to encourage and put the arm around us and say its going to be all right man everything will be fine. We need somebody to encourage us and lift us up.
We need some body who will not try to compete with us and try to control us and say you are under me, I will put you down I will stamp you, crush you, we don't need such friends. We try to avoid such people in our life. David had Saul in his life. Who is Saul in our life, what will he do to us and how will he test our heart? Saul was after David's life. Because of Saul David had to flee from cave to cave, from city to city, from place to place worrying about his life whether he is going to live the next day.
Jonathans does not test our spirituality they are not going to test us, they are going to take their best out of us. We know what Jonathans normally do; they will say you are awesome brother, sister you are awesome. You are not going to be angry or impatient and rude. if some body is going to be telling we are awesome all the time and be encouraging to us its not going to test our heart. If we are going to have Saul in our life, throwing his sword on us at any time, with such a people its going to test our heart.
David had Saul in his life, it tested him, it made him feel insecure, it made him fear, made him afraid, made him get critical, made him get emotional, made him even to run away give up hope. As David had some body like Jonathan who encouraged him, helped him to find strength in God. David was able to handle as he went to God and prayed to God. He got spiritual from all his unspiritual emotions. Jonathan did not change him, he helped him to find strength in God, he helped him to go back to God and pray to God talk about his hatred, fear, his bitterness to God and to repent in front of God. That's how he was able to treat Saul with kindness and forgiveness.
Sometimes in the church we expect somebody to change us, sometimes wives come with her husband and say please change my husband. Look at him he is so ugly looking nowadays he treats me that way, look at him he doesn't do this he doesn't help me in the kitchen, he doesn't help me with the children, please change him brother. Sometimes husband bring their wives and say please sister change my wife she doesn't cook for me she cooks and eats herself look at me I am becoming thin look at her she is growing.
We have this incredible expectation on another leader, brother or sister saying you are responsible to change this person. If our marriage doesn't change today it is your fault and we will blame for the rest of your life. Jonathan did not go and kill Saul to stop David's problem. David's problem would have come to an end if Jonathan could have killed Saul.
When we disciple one another we need to teach the principles of the Bible, teach them scriptures and let them go with these principles and go to God and wrestle out there heart with God and repent before God because God can only change us not men. Men don't change men, God only can change men but God uses others in our life to encourage us, to refresh us, to correct us, to even test the real truth of our hearts. We will always have Saul in our life. We can not avoid a Saul in our life, that's the way God has designed the relationship.
When we become disciples our parents would have been our Saul saying what are you doing going to that church.What ever they say it tests our heart, our faith, test our love for God, test your commitment to Christ. It is challenging. In our marriage sometimes our wives become our Saul, we have felt that sometimes, sometime our husbands become our Saul. That's the growing period of our life and marriage, growing period in our relationship with God.
God puts each one in our life, some times we feel our discipler / leader is our Saul and then we feel our disciples are our Saul. Sometimes our family members will be our Saul. We will always have a Saul we cannot avoid a Saul. With out a Saul our truth is not tested who are we, what are we made up is not tested. With out a Saul the fruit of the spirit do we really have them and how much we have them is not tested. Even though Saul was there David did not sin against God. David had chance to kill Saul himself but his conscious did not allow him to kill Saul. As long as David had a Saul and as long as he had a Jonathan, David was doing well spiritually.
As long as we have people around us and we are aware spiritually, why they are in our life, why God had put them in our life. Then we thank God for the people around us. May be they are like Saul, may be they are like Jonathan, may be what ever they are, as long as we thank God, as long as we pray to God for them to bless them and not curse them, we will be doing well spiritually.
And most of the time in our life we might be tempted to think we are the David and all are Saul. Did you realize that we could be a Saul? We will be so self-righteous thinking we are the only one suffering going through the pain, jumping from one cave to another cave flee from one another. Sometimes we take the part of Saul. What did Jesus do, Jesus had Sauls in his life as he was hanging on the cross. With all the Sauls around him abusing him, ridiculing him, putting him down falsely, accusing him nailing him on the cross spitting at him, Jesus looked up to the father with all the Sauls and he prayed, "forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus did not sin even though there were other people provoking him, ridiculing him to sin. We need to pray for our Sauls.
As long as Saul and Jonathan was alive David was doing well spiritually. Saul and Jonathan died on the same day. Both gone, there is no more Saul tormenting and there is no more Jonathan. His friend was gone. David had victories after victory in his life. He didn't feel he need a Jonathan, he missed him it hurt him, but he had victories in the war he was winning and winning. Yes I can be independent yes I don't need anybody God is with me, God is doing great things for me. That was the downfall for David's life because he cut him of from all the relationships.
Especially with the relationship that would have influenced him in a godly way. Beware of victories in life; beware of pride that comes that we don't need any body. Beware of self independent I don't care any body, I know my Bible, I know to pray, I don't need church, I don't need fellowship, I don't have to come to the meetings. I am mature, beware of those kind of thoughts. Sometimes because of pride all these thoughts creep into our hearts. Until God strikes us and say listen son, daughter you need people.
People say it's very lonely on the top means what? When we are on top we think we won the world, we know every thing, we feel very lonely nobody can be our friend out there. And then what happens to David? People had gone out for war, he was confident he is going to have another victory. I don't have to go any more and he was hanging on the terrace and he was walking and he saw Bathsheeba-taking bath, desire sprang in his heart. He went and commits adultery with her. Not only that he found out that she is pregnant. To cover up the adultery and to cover up that he is the father of child, he found Uriah the good hearted man and set him in to the battlefield put him in the front row of the war and he got killed.
Then he married Bathsheeba so that he can put everything to rest no body will Enquire or find out about his sin. He thought he had done a perfect job. Married her thinking nobody will find out and continued to pretend that nothing happened. Here David who was so spiritual never sinned even when Saul was tormenting him has sinned. If we feel like nobody has caught us in our sin, God is watching us. God is grieved when his children sin, God will go after us till He exposes the truth about us. He will not leave us till we change, not because He hates us He loves us, we are his children. He is very persistence. He goes after us because he cares for us.
2. We need a Nathan
2 Samuel 12:1-9
1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.
2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle,
3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 "Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!
6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."
7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
8 I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.
9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
Jonathan means Jehovah has given, Nathan means God has given. It means the same, God has sent the people. God sent Nathan at the right time. Nathan was very careful how he confronts David. Nathan did not immediately confront David he told him a story, what was the story about it was about David and about his wrong. Did David understand? No, when we are in sin we can't understand the spiritual things. We can't discern our own heart. And we see how David responded. Bible says David burned with anger and said who ever did this he should die and he must pay four times. So indignant he was towards the story and towards particular person in the story.
When we are in sin others mistake looks bigger than our sins. We got to remember one thing the reason Nathan was careful in confronting the sins of David through the story because David was not doing well spiritually. We can imagine to a story David responded with so much of anger and he knew how David was doing because if David to cover up his sin could kill Uriah, lie, be deceitful, murder and commit adultery he could do the same thing with Nathan. Nathan was the only one who seemed to know about his sin. He could have given up thinking David could harm him. Nathan knew the spiritual condition of David.
When we are not doing well spiritually well every little thing affects us. We get angry about little things. When we are not doing well spiritually well we put a wall around us and we don't like anybody confronting us. God spoke the truth through Nathan. Who are you David? Who made what you are? Do you know where you came from? You were a little shepherd boy. I raised you up I protected you I aloud you for the sling shot at Goliath and you killed Goliath, I allowed you to do that. I made you king I gave you wives. If this is not enough you should have asked me I would have given it to you but you were still greedy. You want more and more you were willing to sin against me and not trust me and you want to go after what you want.
It cut David's heart like a spear. It convicted him and then he finally cried out I sinned against the Lord. David did not change immediately just because Nathan confronted him. He had to go back and pray to God. One of the best Psalms David wrote after meeting Nathan was Psalm 51. It is about the repentance. Nathan did not change David. Nathan did not forgive David. God changed David; God forgave David God put his judgement on David.
Nathan, in spite of knowing David's sin and all his wickedness, continued to serve under David and David was still the king and Nathan respected him and still he was a counselor for rest of his life. We should not loose our respect for each other even though we know each other's sins. Even though we know each other's weaknesses we should not loose our respect for each other. Even though Nathan was the one who confronted David, Nathan was under David after all this happened.
Where do you think Nathan learned this? He watched David with Saul. David never lost his respect for Saul even though Saul was sinning after his life about killing. He never lost his respect for Saul. The measure we use will be used against us; we need to remember that we all have sinned we need to respect each other. Who is our Nathan in our life? Are we a Nathan to somebody? Who is our Jonathan? Are we a Jonathan to somebody? Are we a Saul to somebody?
We need peer relationships, we need relationship with our leader, we need somebody to guide us whom we can go and take advice from. But also we need relationship horizontally where we take help from each other. We shouldn't be competing with each other who is better whether Jonathan is better than the other person. It's a mutual relationship. We need to look at relationship in a spiritual way. Every body around us, who we live with are put by God, they are sent by God to help us spiritually.
David grew through his relationship; he found strength from God through those relationship. He got tested, different challenges he went through that's how he had to go back to God and through that relationships he was able to grow and mature before God. David never stopped leading even though he committed all these sins. He lifted himself up, he begged God for forgiveness, he appreciated the grace of God and continued to serve God with all his heart for rest of his life. Let us have great relationships in our lives.