1 Samuel 13; Jeremiah 50; Psalm 28; Psalm 29; Romans 11

From 1 Samuel 13

Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to [e]greet him. 11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom [f]over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” NASB

Saul didn’t wait long enough. He took matters into his own hands. Rather than staying single-eyed unto the Lord, he surveyed his circumstances and decided to act. His action was unholy and disobedient- and it had terrible consequences- far more terrible than the circumstances he was facing in the moment- people scattering and enemy pressure rising. He lost his kingdom altogether and forfeited generations of blessing. His heart was not satisfied in God and kept wholly for Him. And rather than recognizing his grievous action, he defends his sin to Samuel. My own heart is convicted. Do I justify my sin? Do I live single-eyed for God in the face of all the worldly pressure? Do I value God and His ways so keenly that I will wait faithfully in the unknown and not grasp and strive with my own fleshly actions?

The world roils and shudders. I feel small and puzzled. I read Psalm 29.

Ascribe to the Lord, O [a]sons of the mighty,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory [b]due to His name;
Worship the Lord in [c]holy array.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The Lord is over [d]many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful,
The voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord hews out [e]flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord [f]shakes the wilderness;
The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everything says, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.
11 [g]The Lord will give strength to His people;
[h]The Lord will bless His people with peace. NASB

 

The Lord sits as King forever. He will give strength to His people. He will bless His people with peace.  The Lord is glory and honor. The Lord is Holy; He thunders. I hide myself in this Psalm. I sit small before Him. His voice is over many waters.  Ascribe (attribute, assign, proclaim, associate, give credit for) greatness to the Lord our God!

Lord, strengthen me and grant me faith that I might be single-eyed and wait in the unknown. Give me a pure heart to discern Your way. Help me to be quick to recognize and confess my sin. Thank You for Your Word that comforts me in my smallness. When the world roars, and I am dismayed, Your Scripture instructs me in Your glory and Your greatness. Lord, give me this strength; give me this peace as promised in Psalm 29. It is good to worship You and be face down in my heart before You – to be renewed in my mind in Your Power, Holiness, Majesty, and Strength. You are King forever!

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Psalms 26-27

I have read Romans so many times that I have become somewhat numb to the impact it had on Jews and Gentiles alike.  Romans 4:11 shocked me for the first time; “He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them.”

Why did God choose circumcision of all things to represent a condition of the heart? It’s a graphic symbol about a part of the body we don’t discuss in mixed company. Isn’t it just like God to keep me from becoming too spiritual when it comes to faith? Abraham’s faith in God, calls him to place his son on the altar as well as undergoing circumcision. And what did Sarah think about all of this?

Abraham challenges me; I take faith far too lightly. God’s grace is serous business; it holds the knife over the most tender places…places I do my best not to expose.

But the good news of this grace finds me every time I cry out to God, every time I consider His word:

“But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart…” Romans 10:8  and “so faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 8:15.

I have to speak the good news of Jesus Christ to my heart multiple times a day to keep myself off the hamster wheel of works and self righteousness. It’s his grace that saves me, not what I do. What I do is a response to his grace. When it’s not, He is waiting to restore what I broke. He loves me that much, not because I merit it, but because, quite simply, that is who He is. He sees the most vulnerable parts of me— the places hidden from others and even myself, and He never turns away.

Holy Spirit, may your grace and peace settle deep into my soul so that I live in the freedom and joy of your grace. Jesus, thank you for taking my rags and giving me your righteousness to wear. I thank you for the wonder of who you are and the healing and restoration you bring to me. Your love, your sacrifice is my joy.

Kathy

 

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Romans 9; Jerimiah 48; Psalm 25; I Samuel 11

That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness,have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

Romans 9:30 NIV

Sometimes it is easier to do things that are totally new to you, rather than making a change to things you have been doing all along. You know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” For hundreds of years Israel was governed by The Law but now things are different and they are struggling to make a change – Struggling to live in this new freedom.

Do you have areas of your spiritual life where you are resistant to change? Do you only listen to one type of worship music? Do you cringe when you see someone in church who doesn’t fit your picture of what a “church goer” should look like? Do you struggle to “be still” because you want to get things done?

As my children are getting older and making their faith their own, it has helped me to see some areas in my own life that need reexamining. As they are asking questions, I have had to bring some of my actions and beliefs under deeper consideration. Are my actions and beliefs indicative of  Truth or do they just refelct the way it has always been done?

Lord, help me to live by faith and to always be looking to You. Help me not to rely on tradition but to rely on Truth.

While looking at this same passage in The Message, it compared the Gentiles and the Israelites in a way that hit too close to home:

All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
    a stone you can’t get around.
But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
    you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.

Romans 9:30-33 The Message

I don’t want to be so involved in my “God projects” that I miss what God is doing right in front of me. I cringe to think of the time that I spend doing church activities but not really engaging in or acknowledging what God is doing around me. How many opportunities to obey God have I missed because I was absorbed in my own agenda?

Lord, forgive me for not stopping and seeing your hand in my life as often as I should. Forgive me for being so busy that I forget to stop and see all the ways that you have orchestrated things in my life. Help me to always be looking for You. I want my relationship with you to not be an item on a “to do” list, but rather a longing to know you and see your presence in my life. Help me to live by faith.

 4Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25 4-5 NIV

Ann (naturelady)

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1 Samuel 10; Romans 8; Jeremiah 47; Psalm 23,24

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

This was never clearer to me than sitting on a hill in Rwamagana Rwanda watching a group of 6 to 9 year olds play with beach balls. We were there to participate in a vacation bible school for the younger students that attended the school during the regular school year. They had never seen a beach ball before but quickly caught on to the concept of keeping it in the air and volleying multiple balls from one side to the other. I sat down for a moment to catch my breath and take in my surroundings.  There was joy and laughter that rang through the hills surrounding the Kigali Christian School.  Beyond the hedge that outlined the property was a banana field on one side and farmland to the rear.  Goats ran freely up and down the roads.  While the parents worked in the fields, their children poked their heads through the hedge that outlined the property.  You could tell they wanted to be included in the fun.  While we sang songs and recited bible verses, the children watching us soaked it in.  I have no doubt they went home singing about Jesus.

beach ball

The leaders of the VBS would burst into song and sang many of the same praise songs I knew. As we lifted different words to the same tune, I had a picture of eternity and how every nation, tribe, and tongue would bow before Jesus.  He would understand us all no matter what language we spoke.  The words merged in perfect harmony lifting up as incense before the throne of God.  I knew He was pleased!

After the classes ended and all the students had been dismissed, we did a prayer walk covering every inch of the campus asking God to continue to bless Rwanda, their school, the students—anything that came to mind. Again, there were different languages lifted in prayer but we were crying out to the same God.  We were united as one Body with many parts.

I’ve always heard the term, “God’s Country.” As I traveled to the other side of the world, I was able to see and experience the reality that it is ALL His and the vastness of what He has created.  Each country is unique and has a beauty of its own.

Lord, there are times the beauty of your creation is overwhelming and we can do nothing but sit and gaze at your glory. There is such a variety of plants, birds, wildlife, and people—each unique to its own environment, each created to praise you.  Thank you for sharing it with us.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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1 Samuel 9; Romans 7; Jeremiah 46; Psalm 22

From deep, deep down when desire nearly drowns in dread
when I am desperate for You…
When I can’t see, and I can’t hear You. ( taken from Ps22:1-2)

Yet you are holy…” and I choose to remember.

I will remember what YOU have done.

“In you our fathers trusted… and you delivered them.
To you they cried…and you rescued them.” PS.22:4-5

When I am desperate, depressed. When all despise me.
I feel alone, and I can’t find You.
When I am daunted by their doubt… (verses 6-7)

“He trusts in the Lord, let Him deliver him;
let Him rescue him for he delights in Him.” Ps22:8

I will remember what You have done for me.

“Yet YOU are He who took me from the womb;
YOU made me trust YOU at my mother’s breasts,
On YOU was I cast from my birth
and from my mother’s womb YOU have been my God.” Ps22:9-10

Oh Father,
Some days will be dark and dreary.
Deal tenderly with us. We want to see Your face.
Help us remember what You have done.
Be our everlasting delight. For,

“He has not hidden His face from Him, but has heard, when he cried to Him.” Psalm 22:24

Oh how desperately we need You…

amy in peru

republished from the archives, August 17, 2010

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1 Samuel 7,8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 20,21

Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3 NRSV

If you are like me, a follower of Jesus, then you and I have answered this question of choice and if I am honest – I have to choose everyday and every day I have to choose Jesus.  For me, if I do not, I find myself being okay with certain weaknesses and falling for certain temptations and then declaring them to be in the realm of grace

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1 NRSV

The answer is definitely a big NO! So what is my problem, why do I think it is okay?

But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. – Jeremiah 44:5 NRSV

I find my relationship with God falls into a pattern, a grove, a comfortable “method” or “process” and as busy as I am in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication – I miss the most important part of any relationship – listening.  While I have been busy talking, I forget to listen – how does God want to respond to what I have just said or how does He want to engage Himself into my day?  I do not know and maybe I don’t because in some weird moment of time – I might admit that I do not want to know.

I think you know where this is going – throw in some trouble and what do I do? Yes, I call on God. This is where it get’s tricky – I feel that since I did not spend much quality time with Him that I do not deserve to call on Him.  Wow – so simple to get pushed even further away from God.   But I know this – His grace is sufficient and as my Heavenly Father, He cares.  I can always call out His name and He is there.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob protect you! – Psalm 20:1 NRSV

Lord, if I have to forgive others as much as You have forgiven me, that is a whole lot more than 70 x 7!  How thankful I am for your grace, but more thankful that You never allow the Holy Spirit to leave me – I am convicted of my sin and I find my way back to You.  I bless You for Your faithfulness – thank You for Your protection.  I can always count on You.  I pray that my faithfulness will grow as we grow in our relationship together and that I would rather do the things You would like me to do as opposed to the things I want to do for myself.  Thank You for bringing me into Your space and allowing me to be a part of Your family.

evanlaar

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1 Samuel 5&6; Romans 5; Jeremiah 43; Psalms 19

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT

I am a person who likes to avoid a disruption of peace, whether it be conflict or trials. But, God has been teaching me that they are a necessity for my growth. I tend to reflect back on “if only” than _______ wouldn’t have happened. But, I am learning that God is using those times to show me that I’m not in control. Before we left for our family beach vacation, my youngest daughter was hit in the eye with a golf club. Her eye is fine, but it left a bruise that took the whole week to go away. After we stopped for lunch on our drive to the beach, my other daughter threw her retainer away in the trash. Which I than spent an hour searching for and never found. I felt like I could breath a sigh of relief once we arrived. Only to start off the next day with a bike ride with my four kids that ended in scrapes and bruises from two of them colliding. God is showing me that I can’t escape trials. He is using them to refine me. He is testing my character and wants to see how I react. When I am in constant communion with him and in His word, I have more patience and his words come out of my mouth. If I am bound by my own fear and mistrust, I can let anxieties overtake me and be quick to snap and yell.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT

Nothing compares to hearing my child pray before bed to heal him and his sister from their cuts and scrapes. Childlike trust. Knowing that God didn’t cause the pain and he is sovereign.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world…The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” Psalms 19:1-8 NLT

But oh, how the ocean’s vastness, compared to my smallness humbles me and puts things into perspective.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good…So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends with God.” Romans 5:6-11 NLT

Father, I pray that I would run to your presence instead of turning away(Jer.43:7). I praise you. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. For pursuing me. I love you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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