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What's in it for Me?

2 Samuel 7:18-29

 

For some people it is hard to say; to others it is hard to hear-it is a small word, only two letters, but with atomic power it can crush people's hopes and dreams and quickly send them into an emotional tailspin. I've seen children throw tantrums in public because their mothers used the word in response to their question, "Mommy can I have a...?" I've also seen parents hit the ceiling when one of their little one's started firing back, using the word in response to a command like, "Junior, go and clean your room," or "Sissy, eat all your green beans." The powerful two-letter word, of course, is "no."

How are you at saying "no?" Are you a "people-pleaser" who desperately wants everyone in your life to be happy in general and happy with you in particular so you're afraid to say no? Or are you the exact opposite? Do you use the word with indiscretion as a sort of "power trip" over other people, being completely oblivious to their needs? Like most other things in life, the use of this word requires balance.

How are you at hearing "no?" Are you a manipulative sort of person who expects everyone to answer to your every whim and become crushed if they choose not to? Or are you the exact opposite? Can you become obnoxious and entice people into saying "no" to you to keep a safe distance between you and other people, using the word as a buffer to keep you from experiencing real community?

How do you usually react to the word "no?" Do you sulk, get defensive or hurt? Or can you accept "no" as a legitimate answer to any question? One thing I know for sure, the ability to process the word "no" is a key ingredient for success. In my early days as a writer, I received stacks of rejection letters. They could have kept me from becoming a writer, instead, I used them as motivation to improve my craft. Salesmen hear many more "nos" than they ever hear "yeses." The ones that are able to make a living are the ones that can get past the nos so they can get to the yeses. The ability to process the word "no" demonstrates maturity and enables success.

Then why is it so hard to hear? 

Especially when it is coming from God?

In last week's sermon, God told David no. In no uncertain terms, God told David that he didn't want him to build a temple for him because he had blood on his hands. But accompanying that no was a very strong "yes,"- a yes that the temple would get built, but by his son, not by him. Please listen as I read David's response to his rejection by God: 

"Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord, and he said, 'Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me this far? [19] And yet this was insignificant in Thine eyes, O Lord God, for Thou hast spoken also of the house of Thy servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord God. [20] And again what more can David say to Thee? For Thou knowest Thy servant, O Lord God! [21] For the sake of Thy word, and according to Thine own heart, Thou hast done all this greatness to let Thy servant know. [22] For this reason Thou art great, O Lord God; for there is none like Thee, and there is no God besides Thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. [23] And what one nation on the earth is like Thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for Thee and awesome things for Thy land, before Thy people whom Thou hast redeemed for Thyself from Egypt, from nations and their gods? [24] For Thou hast established for Thyself Thy people Israel as Thine own people forever, and Thou, O Lord, hast become their God. [25] Now therefore, O Lord God, the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as Thou hast spoken, [26] that Thy name may be magnified forever, by saying, 'The Lord of hosts is God over Israel'; and may the house of Thy servant David be established before Thee. [27] 'For Thou, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, hast made a revelation to Thy servant, saying, 'I will build you a house'; therefore Thy servant has found courage to pray this prayer to Thee. [28] And now, O Lord God, Thou art God, and Thy words are truth, and Thou hast promised this good thing to Thy servant. [29] Now therefore, may it please Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may continue forever before Thee. For Thou, O Lord God, hast spoken; and with Thy blessing may the house of Thy servant be blessed forever.'" (2 Samuel 7:18-29 NASB)

David processes the rejection well and responds back to God with praise. I've got to be honest with you, I haven't reached that level of maturity in my Christian walk. Oh, I may end up with praise, but it isn't usually my first reaction. I usually respond more like the child whose mother just said "no" to her in the grocery store than I do like David, who responded with humility and gratitude. Oh, if I know what God is doing, and if I believe it will work out to His glory in the end, I can usually suck it up and take "no" for an answer. But the truth is, I don't always know what God is doing. In his book, "Out of the Whirlwind," Mark Tabb wrestles with the age old problem of the presence of evil in the world that God rules over. He writes, "And that's the dilemma I really do not want to face. I can accept tragedy when I see God working through it. But will I when I cannot? Job posed this question to his wife: 'should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?' Will I accept bad things from the hand of God, without demanding an explanation, without seeing any tangible results, or ever knowing why God would possibly want to inflict pain upon me? The question is not whether I will try to understand it or rejoice in it in the hope that spiritual maturity runs through the valley of the shadow. Will I accept bad things from the hand of God as readily as I accept the good?" (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

In the weeks to come we will see how David does at accepting bad things from God's hand. But for now, notice at how he accepts "no" from God. In verse 18, he acknowledges that life isn't about him, but about God. With humility, he states that all he is he owes to God. He is "insignificant." That is David's word, not mine. He is the King of Israel, yet he believes himself to be insignificant-not because he is comparing himself to others, but because he knows that in relation to God, even the King is insignificant. David's God is great-He is a God that knows all about him-a God who cares enough about his people to tell them "no" (21). A God who has called His people to participate with Him in Kingdom work (23). He has redeemed them. He has called them. The work is his, not theirs. And not David's.

David could hear "no" from God because he understood his own insignificance and that God doesn't act to help people build their kingdoms-not even for kings-God acts to build His kingdom. And that's the rub. Whenever we think it is about us-our lives-our success-our comfort-our victories, we are not in a position to hear "no" from anyone, much less from God. As long as we treat the Bible as a "self-help" book instead of the living, breathing word of God we will never truly understand it. And as long as we believe God's function in life is to be a standby-respond on demand-24-hour celestial butler, we will never be in tune with His kingdom work or in sync with His will for our lives.

David receives God's blessing in verse 29. It is a blessing for his distant future and he embraces it. His descendants will be blessed to be able to serve the Lord. The blessing isn't that God will serve them. It is that they will serve the Lord. There is no promise of an easier life or an enviable life, or a life free from evil-just that God will bless them with the opportunity and ability to serve Him.

I want to close this morning by reading one more quote from Tabb's book, he writes, "will I continue to believe in him and follow his Son even if doing so never resulted in any blessings in this life? Will I believe when believing only makes life harder not easier? Will I accept bad things from the hand of God and keep trusting in him even if the bad so overwhelms the good as to make it invisible?" (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Following God-what's in it for you? The opportunity to serve the creator God and be a part of his grand design. It is a life filled with sacrifice, yet surrounded by blessing. A life I recommend.
 

For more information on "Out of the Whirlwind" by Mark Tabb, go to http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/080542721X/freshministry

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