Monthly Archives: August 2011

1 Samuel 18; Romans 16; Lamentations 3; Psalm 34

I have two girls. They bicker. They tattletale, despite years of encouraging them to handle issues between each other first. And their response is always the result of someone else’s action.

“You can’t control what someone else does. You can’t blame them for your response. You are responsible for you,” I remind. Regardless of who starts what. That’s the short version.

That lesson made sense to me, until Saul–and a mood hand-delivered from God.

On a day when everyone celebrated, he was wounded by the frolic-song of women. Words can hurt, especially when intentions are (mis)interpreted by insecurity. I get all this. But I stopped cold at the next line:

The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. 1 Samuel 18:10 (NLT)

The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul … (NIV)

… an ugly mood was sent by God to afflict Saul … (The Message)

Rising above the tease of a sibling vs being overwhelmed by a spirit from God seem two ends of a spectrum, but  regardless of the purpose (which we may never know) or the source (be it from our own interpretation of events or divine intervention) of a trial–aren’t we still responsible for us? Isn’t God still interested in our response whether we are under blessing or affliction?

Reading through Lamentations 3 and Psalm 34, I see the cause and I see the response.

 19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,

   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left. Lamentations 3:19-24 (The Message)

In Lamentations, peering out from the load dumped down from the verse one and on, I read this:

28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

And in Psalm 34,

8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Lord, in Job I read how you permitted the pain in his life. And in Hannah’s prayer, I am reminded again the earth is yours and you set it in order. All throughout scriptures you reveal, explain and prepare us for trials and troubles … and all throughout scripture is your assurance you are with us, you are good and you love us. Lord, in blessings or in troubles and trials, my hope and desire is to turn to you and bless your name. Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 17; Romans 15; Lamentations 2; Psalm 33

Instantaneous news.

Before the quake stops shaking texts begin to fly. Twitter updates come in at a steady stream in 140 characters or less. Facebook conversations get a sudden springboard. And, everyone hits the internet to research earthquakes and aftershocks and epicenters.

In a much simpler time, but wrought with its own tragedies, news traveled by foot.

Wondering if his sons might still be alive, Jesse sends David to check out the battle scene.

I relate most to the Israelites in this story. Shaking uncontrollably from fear.

I size up my enemy. Daily it taunts me. I can tell you everything about it, even its next move, because it is pretty much the same thing as yesterday. My own Goliath of Gath.So close the Israelites could see the veins on his neck as he mocked them. So often that they knew every strand of his armor.

You likely have one, too. Fear, doubt, depression, anger, complacency, pride, uncertainty. Take your pick.

” . . . all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” Yep, that’s me. I don’t even dare approach it. I know failure is guaranteed.

I think I must need some new armory to take this one down. What can I possibly use?

Then David shows up. Ancient weapons. Stones.

I have a rock, too, but I forget to stand on it.

He has a slingshot.

I have a sword, but it sits lifeless.

And it only took one shot for victory to run rampant over the enemy camp.

Victory comes effortlessly if I rest in the Master’s hand. David’s heart flows out in the Psalms. He didn’t likely write Psalm 33 from what I can gather, but we can see the heart attitude of a true victor there. The prayer at the close of this Psalm is my prayer as well.

Father God,

Our soul waiteth for You, our help and our shield.

 21For our heart shall rejoice in You, because we have trusted in Your holy name.

 22Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in You.

~In Jesus Name, Amen

Erin (5intow)

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1 Samuel 16; Romans 14; Lamentations 1; Psalm 32

I saw a fat girl today.

I’ve never seen her before.  And I may never see her again.  But my mind automatically began to fill in the sad details of her life, just from the way she looked.

I suspect that the above explains far more about me than it does about her.

I am the kind of person that makes snap judgments about people.  Unfortunately, those judgments don’t naturally cast them in the best light.  I don’t want to see others this way.  I want to see them as Jesus sees them.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
I Samuel 16:7

Jesus sees that girl as a beautiful treasure  for whom He is willing to sacrifice his life.  That’s how I should see her!

I know enough to know that He treasures me, as well.  But when He looks into my heart, it cannot help but grieve Him.

I have a long way to go to stop judging others by their looks.  But that is precisely what I am called to do.

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.  Romans 14:12-13

Lord God,

I pray for:

the eyes to see others as You see them,
the heart to empathize with others as You empathize with them,
and the hands to act lovingly toward others as You are loving to them.   Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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1 Sam. 15; Rom. 13; Jer. 52; Ps. 31

There was nothing complicated about the command:

Kill all the Amalekites.

Apparently it was too complicated for Saul. He made good on warning the Kenites to get out of town to be spared complete destruction, destroyed most of the Amalekites, but spared the king, some livestock, and anything good he could benefit from.

God speaks to Samuel remorseful that he ever made Saul king. Samuel feels God’s grief and comes to Saul. Then things get sticky. 

Here’s where Saul goes wrong:

1) He is boastful in his sin. He greets Samuel as though he done the right thing and rejoices in his victory. 

2) He casts blame on his soldiers for the act, proving well that he knew what he had done was wrong. He doesn’t own up to his sin and places the fault on his people.

3) Even when confronted with Samuel’s straight forward accusation, Saul tries to justify his action by saying he has done exactly the right thing. “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the [mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek.”

Bringing back Agag was not in the plan. I think Saul brought him back for bragging rights, as a trophy to say, “I had the opportunity to slay the king but in my power withheld.” Saul was on a power trip.

Then, Samuel lays the challenge:

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices 
   as much as in obeying the LORD? 
To obey is better than sacrifice, 
   and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 

Saul finally confesses, owns up, and admits his fear. But there are still consequences.

The story isn’t finished, though. As Samuel leaves, Saul reaches for his cloak and tears it. Sam says: 

The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you.  He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.

The marvel of this story for me is that even in Saul’s sin, God leverages his disobedience to pull power out of his hands and give it to the line of David. The Lineage of Christ. Even though Saul blew it, God still made a way to cover up his error and the error of everyone to come after.

christiancourier517

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1 Samuel 14; Romans 12; Jeremiah 51; Psalm 30

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12: 2

Our minds are powerful and influential.  I chuckle every time I hear that someone has the stomach bug – instantly I have a stomachache!  Or I love when my kids come home from school with the news that another student has head lice – instantly my head itches!  Late at night when the house is quiet, little noises always equal an intruder!  It’s crazy!  But just as easily as I can believe that I have head lice, spending my time watching, reading, or listening to things that are not of Christ has the potential to influence my thought life as well.  I often think of the expression, “Garbage in… Garbage out”.  Even waiting in the check-out line in the grocery store for five minutes, reading over the tabloids can convince me that I am not thin enough, pretty enough, or that I don’t have enough possessions.  It’s scary how quickly my mind can become clouded with things that are not of God.

That’s why this verse stuck out to me so much.  God knows how easily I can become tripped up by the things in this world.  He has placed me here for such a time as this, to do His will and to share the love of Jesus.  However, God wants me to be different.  He does not want me to conform to the likeness of this age, rather He wants me to continually be renewing my mind so that I can walk in step with Him.  My mind can be changed through prayer, reading and reflecting on His Word, by worship, and by being in tune to the Holy Spirit living in me.  This is how real life transformation can happen.

Yet knowing this, so often I go in the other direction.  It’s so frustrating to me that I know the truth, yet stray from it.  Why?  I know how weak I am, how easily I give in to temptation, how I let the cares of this life drown out God’s truth, and how I let busyness take over.  I pray that as I meditate on this verse, that I will allow the truth and power of it to penetrate my heart and my mind.

God, I desire to be transformed by You.  I confess to You my weakness and so often my pride.  Lord, Your Word is Truth, and has the potential to change me.  I pray that I would seek You first above all else, so that I will be able to know what is good and pleasing to You.  Mold me, Lord. Take over my thoughts and desires.  I want to be used by You.  I love You, Jesus.

Amen.

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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