“Hello, this is Lisa Myles,” my voicemail informed me this morning. “Your daughter is on ‘in-school’ suspension for sticking a dead rat in another girl’s locker. Over the weekend it began decomposing and our custodian has had to disinfect the girl’s locker twice. The girl isn’t a friend of your daughter’s, so we know it isn’t a practical joke. I’m sorry, but we won’t let her go to the amusement park with the rest of her class next week.”
The minute I heard “dead rat,” I knew my daughter had been involved. It’s a long story that brings a conclusion to a very difficult and frustrating seventh grade year.
The question is, how do I talk to her about it?
My default setting is set to: “yell at her, threaten her, get in her face, and ground her for the rest of her life.”
But I know a deeper issue is at work. As much as I want her to obey me with no questions asked, today’s reading helps me understand a better approach to conversing with my daughter when she comes home from school today.
It also reflects the way our loving God seeks to work on our issues with all of us.
Please join me.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18. After consolidating his power in Israel, what was David’s first order of business? When many kings would begin enjoying the privileges of being king (i.e. building a palace), David sought to build a permanent home where Israel would gather to worship.
God saw David’s heart and rewarded him by promising him descendants on the throne for generations. Until Israel’s sin prompted God to send the nation into exile 480 years later in 586 B.C, a descendant of David sat on the throne. Eventually, a descendant would be born into David’s lineage who would reign as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Although David didn’t build the temple (see verses 13-14), he began preparations for the massive building project.
Reading chapter 7, I can’t help noticing the intimate relationship David enjoyed with God. This didn’t suddenly appear in chapter 7—it was the result of an ongoing relationship over a process of years.
John 14:15-31. Despite the fact that he was about to be crucified, Jesus explains that the “prince of the world” (i.e. the devil) has no hold on him (v.30). In other words, Satan wasn’t orchestrating Jesus’ journey to the cross—Jesus and his Father in heaven were. Obedience to the Father meant going to the cross.
The literal translation of verse 30 is even more forceful. Literally translated, Jesus said the prince of the world, “has nothing in me.” The New American Standard Bible probably translates it most accurately: “For the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in me.”
Even when it appears that darkness is overwhelming us, Satan has absolutely no power over Jesus.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Three times in John 14, Jesus makes a connection between love and obedience:
- “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (v. 15).
- “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (v.21).
- “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (v. 23).
Notice what comes first: Love. Obedience is the natural outgrowth of our love-relationship with God.
Looking at it from another perspective, our lives reveal the measure of our love-relationship with God.
What’s the point? God desires to establish an intimate relationship with us—which becomes very clear in John 15 (tomorrow’s reading).
Not coincidentally, Jesus describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit here as our counselor. The word refers to someone who comes alongside us and helps us in this endeavor.
The relationship between love and obedience is further evident in our reading from Psalms. “Direct me in the path of your commands,” the psalmist writes, “for there I find delight” (Psalm 119:35).
So what’s the underlying connection between love and obedience? When I love someone, I want to do whatever pleases that person. Not out of duty but out of delight. That’s why John can later write in his first epistle, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
The key to working with my daughter lies in connecting with her heart. The deeper my wife and I can attach to her, the more we’ll see her behave. This is a challenge for her because before we adopted her five years ago, she bounced around from home to home in the foster care system. Attaching–and therefore obedience–is hard for her.
But the same applies to our relationship with God.
Obedience devoid of a relationship with God is lifeless duty. But an intimate love-relationship with God naturally leads to obedience. We call this worship.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- If, like David, you had ultimate control over your life and could accomplish all of your dreams regardless of cost, what would you do? What does it reveal about your priorities?
- What ongoing feuds do you have with God? How might a deepening relationship with him make a difference?
- How do you grow deeper in your love-relationship with God?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.