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Generational curses: are children punished for their parents’ sins?

Generational curses: are children punished for the sins of their parents?

If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard generational curses discussed. There are two conflicting opinions:

  • God punishes children for the sins of their parents.
  • God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents.

Why the confusion regarding generational curses?

Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…

Verses seem to support and argue against generational curses…

Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 indicate God punishes children for the sins of their parents:

You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

Other such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 indicate God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents:

Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 The LORD says, “What do you mean by this proverb, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? This proverb shall no more be used. Behold, the soul who sins shall die…The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

The people said they were punished (their teeth were bad: “set on edge”), because of their parents’ sins (the “sour grapes” they ate). God said, “Don’t say this anymore. You’ll be punished for your own sins!”

So which is it? Continue reading Generational curses: are children punished for their parents’ sins?

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Avoiding Painful Decisions

2 Samuel 11Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - Life Changing Decisions is probably one of the most familiar chapters in Scripture, because it recounts David’s sins with Bathsheba and Uriah. Something that really stands out to me is the way David’s decisions changed the trajectory of his entire life.

The last verse of 2 Samuel 10 says, “And when all the kings who were servants to Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians were afraid to help the people of Ammon anymore.”

This verse is significant not so much because of what it says, but because of what it represents. This is the pinnacle of both David’s reign and life. Everything will change after this. While David’s life was previously characterized by victories and triumphs, now it will be characterized by pain and loss. David spent much of the rest of his life moving from one horrible situation to the next.

Certain decisions change the course of our lives 

Following David’s repentance Nathan told him, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Sam 12:13b). This reveals that, yes, we can be forgiven. Yes, God might be gracious. But our lives on this side of heaven might never be the same. Continue reading Avoiding Painful Decisions

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How did forgiveness take place in the Old Testament?

Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - Forgiveness in the Old TestamentDid forgiveness in the Old Testament take place through sacrifices or human effort? Forgiveness was received in the Old Testament the same way it’s received in the New Testament: by grace through faith.

Psalm 25:14 says, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and the Lord will show them His covenant.” The Lord reveals the New Covenant and the grace and mercy of it through David, before Jesus instituted the New Covenant at the Last Supper (Luke 22:20).

According to God’s Law, David committed two sins that should’ve resulted in death: adultery and murder. A few things made David’s terrible sins even worse:

  • David’s accountability. He knew God’s Law well.
  • David had been very blessed. God brought him of that shepherd’s field where he was a nobody born to a no-name family. Then God turned him into the rich and powerful king of Israel.
  • David’s sins were premeditated. He planned out all the details, even writing a letter to Joab that he had Uriah himself carry. It was one of the darkest moments in the Old Testament.

David’s sins should not have received forgiveness

If anyone deserved death it was David, but this is also why David’s situation provides one of the greatest examples of God’s grace and mercy in all of Scripture. Nathan the Prophet confronted David, and he responded, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13a). Continue reading How did forgiveness take place in the Old Testament?

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4 Challenging Examples of Grief Over Sin

Do you experience grief over sin?
Do you experience grief over sin?

Do you experience grief over sin around you?

A previous post laid a foundation for understanding the Beatitudes. Then we discussed Jesus’ words about spiritual poverty and spiritual hunger. The third Beatitude: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:21b).

Jesus presented values that were contrary to the thinking of the day, and this is a perfect example. The world doesn’t say those who weep are blessed. The world says they are unfortunate or cursed.

Jesus isn’t describing the joyful weeping that might take place at a wedding or the birth of a child, or even the sorrowful weeping that might take place from a loss or suffering. We live in a fallen, sinful world. Everyone weeps at times. In other words, Jesus isn’t saying blessed are those who experience something painful.

Instead, just like the first two Beatitudes, the third also needs to be viewed spiritually. Jesus is describing weeping over sin and wickedness. If you have a heart for God, you’re going to be grieved by the evil that surrounds you, because you know it’s rebellion against Him. Here are four examples…

Continue reading 4 Challenging Examples of Grief Over Sin

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God Sees What We Can Become

God sees what we can become
God sees what we can become

The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7).

Man sees physically, but God sees spiritually.

 

In the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, God couldn’t have seen them more differently than man:

  • Jesus told Smyrna, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty, but you are rich” (Rev 2:9). A terribly poor and struggling church to man, but Jesus looked at it spiritually and said it was rich.
  • Jesus told Laodicea, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev 3:17). A rich, thriving church to man, but Jesus saw it spiritually and said it was terrible.

Continue reading God Sees What We Can Become

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4 Examples Showing God Doesn’t Choose Like Man

God doesn't choose as man chooses.
God doesn’t choose as man chooses.

Miracle is one of my favorite movies, depicting the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team winning the gold medal by defeating the Soviet Union in one of the greatest upsets in history. The head coach, Herb Brooks, is very familiar with the players through coaching, scouting, and watching film. So he’s able to choose his team very quickly. The assistant coach, Craig Patrick, comes to talk to Herb on the first day of tryouts:

Continue reading 4 Examples Showing God Doesn’t Choose Like Man

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7 ways Abigail is a type of Christ

7 ways Abigail is a type of Christ

When we think of types of Jesus, the Bronze Serpent (John 3:14), manna (John 6:51), rock in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4), or certain individuals like Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon probably come to mind. But Abigail? Probably not, but she should!

Jesus is our propitiation. Since this isn’t a word we use often here’s a simple definition: a gift, offering or sacrifice meant to turn away the wrath of an offended individual. The closest English words would be appeasing, expiating, placating, pacifying, or satisfying.

Here are two examples of propitiation in the Old Testament to give you an idea what it looks like:

  • In 1 Samuel 6:1-6 the Philistines wanted to return the ark to Israel, but they knew God was angry so they offered Him five golden tumors and five golden rats to hopefully turn away His wrath.
  • In 2 Samuel 21:1-6 seven men were sacrificed to turn away the wrath of the Gibeonites.

Another example of propitiation takes place in 1 Samuel 25. David helped Nabal, a man whose name fittingly means “fool”, and he responded to David’s kindness by insulting him. David was so angry, he told his men, “Strap on your swords!” (v. 13).

Enter Abigail as a type of Christ in turning away David’s wrath…

First, Abigail provided an offering on Nabal’s behalf.

Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys” (v. 18).

[She told David] “And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord” (v. 27).

Like Jesus provided an offering on our behalf: Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Second, Abigail sought to bear Nabal’s iniquity.

“On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be!” (v. 24).

Like Jesus bore our iniquity: Isaiah 53:11b For He shall bear their iniquities.

Third, Abigail asked for Nabal’s forgiveness.

“Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant” (v. 28)

Like Jesus asks to see us forgiven: Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Fourth, David accepted Abigail as an intercessor.

David said to Abigail, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!” (v. 32).

Like the Father accepts the Son as an Intercessor: 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

Fifth, Abigail turned away David’s wrath.

David said, “Unless you had hurried and come to meet me, by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” (v. 34).

Like Jesus turned away God’s wrath1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sixth, Abigail established peace between David and Nabal.

“Go up in peace to your house” (v. 35a).

Without Abigail there would have’ve been judgment on Nabal, but Abigail established peace between David and Nabal.

Like Jesus established peace between us and GodColossians 1:20b [Jesus] made peace through the blood of [the] cross.

Seventh, David was pleased with Abigail’s character.

“See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person” (v. 35b).

Like God is pleased with Jesus’ characterMatthew 3:17 a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This account makes Abigail a wonderful type of Christ in turning away the wrath of God that is against us for our foolishness: 1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Discuss:

  • Do you see any other ways Abigail looks like Christ?
  • Would you share your favorite type of Christ in the Old Testament?

Leave your answer(s) in the comments section!

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Dealing With Betrayal

We hear the word betrayal and think of Julius Caesar at the hands of Marcus Brutus, America at the hands of Benedict Arnold or Jesus at the hands of Judas Iscariot. The truth is we’ve all experienced betrayal in different ways. Maybe we did something nice for someone and the response was ingratitude, or maybe there’s a relationship we invested in only to receive cruelty in return.

There’s an individual in Scripture who experienced betrayal and I think we can really learn from his example. The story is in 1 Samuel 23 when David saved the city of Keilah, but they respond by turning him over to Saul…

1 David was told, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the grain.”

Skipping to verse 4…

4 Then David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said, “Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.” 5 David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

It says David “saved”the people; it doesn’t say he helped them, or supported them, or assisted them. He saved them. David’s actions are even more admirable when we consider we have no knowledge of David having any friends or relatives in the city. He was motivated by nothing other than it being the right thing to do. Plus, he’s a fugitive on the run from Saul and the army of Israel, which would have provided him with an excuse nobody would fault; however, his choice looks to why he was The Man After God’s Own Heart: he esteemed others better than himself and looked out not only for his own interests, but also the interests of others (Phil 2:3-4).

Skipping down to verse 12…

12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?”

And the Lord said, “They will deliver you.

This was a perfect opportunity for the people of Keilah to show their appreciation and loyalty to David by protecting him, but instead of returning the favor and protecting David, they turned their backs on him. This must have been heartbreaking for David to learn after risking his life and the lives of his men, but back in verse four God only promised him victory. That’s it. He didn’t promise the people would be grateful or respond in kind.

And we should all notice thankfulness, loyalty and gratitude are not promised to us either. The reason? God knows on this side of heaven everyone who serves Him will experience betrayal, fickleness and ingratitude. When you serve the Lord you’re going out on a limb, because your kindness might be repaid with unkindness. This is why when you die you don’t hear, “Well done, good and APPRECIATED servant” but you will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” The important words are “great is your reward in heaven” as opposed to “great is your reward in this life.”

To David’s credit he doesn’t show a hint of bitterness toward the people of Keilah. It would have been very tempting for him to say, “I can’t believe these people. I wish I had let the Philistines take their food. Maybe starving would have taught them a lesson.”

David also doesn’t show any bitterness toward God. David could’ve said: “Lord, I did what You wanted, and now my life and the lives of my men are in danger! Why? Because YOU told me to save some ungrateful people.”

The question is: why did David respond so well to betrayal? I believe the answer provides a great lesson for us: David didn’t do all this for the citizens of Keilah. He didn’t do it for any recognition from them. He didn’t do it for any thanks from them. He did it for the Lord, and so the people’s response made no difference to him. This sets a wonderful example to follow, making sure that whatever we’re doing is being done for the Lord and not for man:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  • Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

Primarily Paul wrote these verses to make sure our service is being done for the Lord, but secondarily these verses can really help us deal with betrayal by reminding us Whom we’re serving.

 

Betrayal

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How Are We Going to Finish?

During yesterday’s sermon I discussed the importance of finishing well. Even though I didn’t put it in my sermon, over the course of the week I kept thinking about some individuals with much in common throughout their lives, but who really couldn’t be more different regarding how their lives ended…

Saul and David were both anointed by the prophet Samuel to be kings over the twelve united tribes of Israel, and both experienced serious failures: Saul offered the sacrifice meant for Samuel and he didn’t destroy all the Amalekites (1 Sam 13 and 15), and David had his terrible sins with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam 11). Despite these similarities though, the way they finished really couldn’t be more different. Saul died a shameful death on the field of battle, seeking suicide to prevent falling into the hands of the Philistines (1 Sam 31:4). Worst of all he was unable to pass the throne to one of his sons who ended up dying with him (1 Sam 31:2). David on the other hand died peacefully, fulfilling the desire every king has in passing the throne to his son (1 Kin 2:2-4).

Peter and Judas were both chosen by Jesus to be His disciples, enabling them to be part of the most unique experience in history as they accompanied the Lord during His earthly ministry. They also both failed in their lives and it wouldn’t be too much to say the failures themselves were fairly similar. The failures might have played out differently, but in essence they were the same: forsaking the Lord at the end of His life. Despite the similarities between their experiences and failures though, the way they finished couldn’t be more different. Peter went on to serve the Lord as a pillar in the early church with his life courageously and honorably ending in martyrdom (John 21:18). Judas on the other hand died one of the most tragic deaths in Scripture, committing suicide by hanging (Matt 27:5).

The question isn’t really whether we’re going to be like these men in terms of having our own failures. We’re all going to fail. It’s really a question of how we’re going to handle our failures; it’s a question of what we’re going to do after we fail. When we fail are we going to repent and pick ourselves up and continue serving the Lord – like David and Peter did – or do we let our failures consume us and ruin our lives, like Saul and Judas did?

We could say, “Are we going to be a David or a Peter? Or are we going to be a Saul or a Judas?” A simpler way to ask the question might be, “How are we going to finish?”

Finishing strong
Elwyn gave me this newspaper clipping back in 2003 when I was teaching elementary school. I laminated it and put it up in my classroom, sharing it with students at the beginning of each school. I’d tell them they’d all start off well in August and September, but what really mattered was how they finished in June.
The picture also encouraged me as a Christian to finish the race well (Heb 12:1, 2 Tim 4:7). In yesterday’s sermon I was able to share this poster toward the end pointing out how it it summarized my message. A subtler blessing for me was having Elwyn at church being able to see the picture he gave me years ago still blessing me and hopefully blessing others. When he first gave me the clipping I’m sure he never had any idea I’d be a pastor someday and use it in a sermon…and he’d be part of the church with his family!

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The Consequences of Words

Last week’s sermon on discouragement discussed the prophet Jeremiah suffering at the hands of his fellow Jews. He lamented over his abuse, but interestingly seemed to move on from the physical abuse he endured easier than the verbal abuse. This teaches us the important lesson that words can have lasting consequences, and this got me wondering if I could find an example in Scripture of someone saying something hurtful and causing consequences for years to come. One situation came to mind…

When David became king, the first thing he wanted to do was bring the ark into his capital, Jerusalem (the account is recorded in 2 Samuel 6). It ended up being one of the most disappointing moments in David’s life when a man named Uzzah touched the ark and died as a result (God warned this would happen in Numbers 4:15). It brought the whole procession to a halt and David became so angry and afraid of God he put the ark away in the house of a man named Obed-Edom; however, the ark blessed his house so much – showing there’s nothing to fear from God when we’re obedient – David tried to bring the ark back into Jerusalem a second time. David was successful and it seemed to be one of the most joyful moments of his life, but his wife Michal, “looked on looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart” (2 Sam 616). Then David returned home and Michal said to David, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Sam 6:20). Michal wanted to be married to a king that acted like she thought a king should act, which would’ve meant following the example she learned from her father Saul…not a good example! As a result she said these hurtful words and David and Michal’s relationship was never the same: the last verse of the chapter says: “Michal had no children to the day of her death” (2 Sam 6:23).

While it wasn’t right for David to “end” his relationship with Michal, it shows the consequences of Michal’s words lasted the rest of their lives. The same can happen today when people say hurtful things to each other; therefore, I believe there are two lessons we can learn, one from Michal and one from David:

  1. From Michal we learn to be careful what we say. When things are said, they can’t be unsaid, and they can have terrible, lasting consequences. Proverbs 12:18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword.
  2. From David we learn that when people do say hurtful things (which we all experience), we should forgive instead of holding it against them forever. Ephesians 4:32 Forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

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