Monthly Archives: April 2015

1 Samuel 18-19; 1 Chronicles 3; Psalm 59; Acts 13

Saul with a jealous eye. Saul with a tormenting spirit. Saul with a spear to throw.

This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

10 The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. 1 Samuel 18:8-12, NLT.

David plays a harp, fights the battles, marries into Saul’s family–all the while, the target of hate.

24 When Saul’s men reported this back to the king, 25 he told them, “Tell David that all I want for the bride price is 100 Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want.” But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight. 1 Samuel 18:24-25, NLT.

Oh, the honesty. Michal intervenes to save David’s life. Saul’s response?

17 “Why have you betrayed me like this and let my enemy escape?” Saul demanded of Michal. 1 Samuel 19:17, NLT.

From that time on … truly Saul kept his eye on David with a single track focus of jealousy, hate, and vengeance–to the death. Insecurity and jealousy, anger and fear–they embed in a heart with a tenacious grip. These things contributed to Saul’s own destruction, though his emotions were directed at David. Is it that negativity towards another really destroys us in the end?

Psalm 59, a psalm of David (about Saul sending troops to David’s house to kill him):

You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me,
    for you, O God, are my fortress.
10 In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me.
    He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.

11 Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons;
    stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees,
    O Lord our shield.
12 Because of the sinful things they say,
    because of the evil that is on their lips,
let them be captured by their pride,
    their curses, and their lies. Psalm 59:9-12, NLT

Lord, when I find myself the target of verbal spears, be my shield. When my own insecurities put pressure on my heart, be my strength. In your unfailing love, my God, stand with me.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 17, 1 Chronicles 2, Acts 12

Miracle or coincidence? Throughout history there has always been and will always be conflict between our human nature and God’s sovereignty. This passage in 1 Samuel is special to me. A year and half ago I was severely injured in a car accident that left me with a 11 spinal fractures and paralyzed from the neck down. When I arrived at the hospital, the MRI showed significant spinal cord damage at C3 which should have left me permanently paralyzed and requiring a ventilator to breathe. But just like the story of David and Goliath and Peter escaping imprisonment and death, the Lord had a plan.

You see, there is no way any of these stories are believable in the logical sense. Our human, finite knowledge always wants to take over and say, “you’re so lucky” or most often, “what a coincidence”. I know many believe in chance and luck and so sometimes reading the bible can seem far fetched. I have always believed what is written in the bible is 100% true and should be taken literally but I now understand it on an even deeper level.

The Lord reminded me of his sovereignty just days after our accident. This passage from 1 Samuel is underlined in my bible with a very wavy line. I can tell it was soon after the accident because my hand writing next to it is hard to read due to difficulty using my hands and arms. His sovereign hand that provides miracles and makes the impossible possible leaves behind  trail of stories and legacies and lessons to learn and live by…..

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.”

The shaky, almost illegible hand writing on the side of my bible reads this, “The Lord saved me before the doctors even touched me with their scalpel.” Just like with David, it was because of the hand of the Lord and his appointed angels that I am here today. He went before me and surrounded my family with many miracles that day and because of that, our family’s “story” was heard by thousands of people. God’s miracles are not just for us. Yes God wants good for us and to bless us abundantly but it’s not all about us it’s about His great, Kingdom plan.

Sometimes we can’t see God’s sovereign hand while we are actually walking through hard times. It’s  when we look back- and we must look back- that we can see his angel armies were surrounding us all along. With each experience, our faith is strengthened for the next time and the next time and the time after that. I am sure that David’s and Peter’s confidence and faith in the Lord grew with their experiences and allowed them to be bold as they ruled and preached the gospel. Let’s not take things for granted and chalk it up to coincidence or luck. The battle is the Lord’s and we must give him the glory

kateredding

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1 Sam 15-16; 1 Chr 1; Ps 39; Acts 11

What are the big rocks in your life?

This past week I remembered the passing of my Dad. It’s been 3 years since my father was called home to be with his Lord and Savior. I remember that day in 2012… it was a beautiful day… a warm, gentle breeze came streaming into the room he was in… just like it was this past week. I miss my Dad… very much… but I’ve experienced such a dichotomy of emotions since becoming a Christian related to my feelings about his passing and how these feelings relate to how I spend my time.

I know I should be happy for my Dad and not mourn for him for I know that my Dad is with his Father in Heaven. How do I know? My Dad was baptized at 82 years old and joyfully accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior! So, when he left this world, his life in Heaven was about to begin! And yet, I am sad… very sad, for having lost my hero… my best friend! I am sad because of all that I was hoping for with him in this season of our lives. Today, three years later, I am better able to rejoice in the memories with my Dad and can begin to praise God knowing that my Dad is free of pain, concern, and doubt, but I’m not fully there yet.

I’ve had well-intentioned people tell me “but your Dad had a long life… wasn’t that a gift?” Well… to tell you the truth, I believe that it has less to do with quantity of time spent than that quality of time shared. I have many regrets in my life… one is that I’m just now beginning to glean some wonderful insights that the Bible has to offer… Psalm 39 being at the top of the list. Some amazing wisdom the psalmist is sharing… “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend (Psalm 39:4-6).” WOW… it seems that things haven’t changed much since Biblical times… even back then, we needed to be reminded how precious the commodity of time was. Perhaps having read and better understood this passage, the time I did have with my Dad would have been more meaningful.

And while I can’t change anything with regards to my Dad, perhaps there is an opportunity for growth that I might be able to take away from all this. To start, no matter who we are, assuming God chooses for us to enjoy another day on this earth, we’re all given 86,400 seconds to use for the day… how will you spend it? If you knew you were only going to have 8 days left on this Earth, what unnecessary activities would you do away with so you can better utilize the 86,400 seconds we have each day? In one of Stephen Covey’s books on leading a more meaningful life, First Things First, he shares the story of a college professor who conducts an experiment with his class. He produces a large wide-mouth mason jar and a number of fist-sized rocks and places them in the jar. The professor asks the class if the jar is full and the class confirms that the jar was indeed full. The professor then produces a container of gravel and adds it to the same mason jar. Once again, the class confirms that the jar is full. The professor repeats this process with sand, then water, illustrating the point that unless you put in the big rocks first, or prioritize the most important things in your life first, you’ll never get them in at all as there are so many of life’s smaller issues to deal with on a regular basis.

What are the big rocks in your life? A project you want to finish? Time with loved ones? Growing in your faith? Your education or finances? A noble cause? Mentoring others?

Heavenly Father, keep us mindful to of how brief our time on Earth is… keep us in a place that we only have a certain number of days here on Earth, that only You know the number, so that we can focus on quality rather than quantity. Lord, help us to focus on the ‘big rocks’ in our life FIRST, so that we always have room for what matters most and to trade in those aspects of life that only provide temporary happiness with aspects of life that will grow us in faith and love towards You and our Earthy family. Amen!

gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)

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I Samuel 14; Psalm 124; Acts 10

“It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” I Samuel 14:6 ASV

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side— when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us” Psalm 124:1,2-3

“And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” Acts 10:4

I’ve often wondered about Jonathan. He seemed an honorable man. He might have made a great king after his father had not David come to reign. However, rather than use him as king, God used him as an instrument to place David on the throne. Jonathan showed that he trusted God and followed his guidance, and he was exactly where God wanted him to be.

His success came only because God was on His side.

Just like Cornelius, not a leader in the church, although a significant military leader in his own right, yet God had a plan to use him in the position in which He had him.  Known as the first Gentile convert, we know almost nothing of him aside from the mention of his dramatic conversion here. I imagine he went on to share his faith boldly, especially with those under his authority, but we don’t really know. God used him, where he was, for His glory.

Great faithfulness on the part of man does not translate to “great” service or titles or fame or control or influence. Faithfulness is our daily call. We cannot do anything apart from God. Our opponents will overwhelm if we try to do it on our own, whether we lead hundreds or thousands, or are just responsible for ourselves. Jonathan faithfully listened to God, Israel found protection when they fought in the name of the Lord, and Cornelius received a special word from God and salvation because of his faithful prayer and generosity.

As for me, sometimes I seek the recognition. Sometimes I am let down when no one notices the work I’ve done. Yes, my heart is in the wrong place at times. God can still redeem it and use my prideful offering, and He keeps gently reminding me to let go of it, and leave the outcome to Him. I don’t know how He plans to use me over the course of my lifetime, but I don’t need to either. I know what is expected of me.

Daily faithfulness.

Thank you, Lord, for those that so faithfully serve you with no regard for self. Please help me to continue to learn to deny myself and lift up Your name without any self-driven motivation. You alone deserve all the glory, You alone know the best plan, You alone are all I need. ~Amen

Erin (6intow)

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1 Samuel 11-13; Psalm 38; Acts 9

Be careful what you wish for.

The circumstances were grim. The people took matters into their own hands and demanded a king and now Samuel held them accountable.

But when you saw that Nahash, king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king. Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 1 Samuel 12:12-13.

The Israelites got who they asked for. A king, but this king was a mere man, not the Lord of the Universe. They and subsequent generations paid dearly for their choice.

What happens when there is a huge disparity between what I want from life and what reality brings? What happens when the circumstances look bleak and I can not see God?  Do I forget history and turn my back on the God who has brought me safe thus far?  Do I look for other means of salvation? Will I forgo trusting God and rely on a false illusion of control, fear and anxiety to save me?  Israel’s cautionary tale tells me to choose the Lord God as my king, my deliverer.

When my desires and deepest longings are open, festering wounds, who do I turn to? Do I forget history and turn my back on the God who has brought me safe thus far? King David, Saul’s successor leads the way to staying close to the heart of God,

All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you…O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.  Psalm 38:9…21

Mysteriously, mercifully, God provided a king for his people through a long line of frail and fallen earthly kings. This time, the king was God himself in human form so that we might know him. Because of the death and resurrection of this King Jesus, we his followers, will never be forsaken nor separated from the love of God. We have a God who understands the depths of suffering and abandonment so that we don’t have to know that kind of pain. And if we do forget him, he will not forget us and is always waiting for us to return to him with open arms.

Lord, when circumstances seem to tell me that you are not in control and you will not save me, hold me close and help me trust and wait for you. Keep me from looking for salvation from anyone, anything other than you. It’s in the precious name of your Son that I ask this. Amen.

Klueh

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1 Samuel 9-10; Acts 8

Maybe it’s a reading about two Sauls. Old Testament Saul was looking for lost donkeys. Instead, he finds a seer who singles him out as the man who will lead. That Saul didn’t expect it.

21 Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” 1 Samuel 9:21, NLT.

New Testament Saul was on a mission to destroy.

But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. Acts 8:3, NLT.

Both Sauls will eventually lead, and it’s in these beginnings where the glimpse is caught about who they were before God changes everything. These men weren’t even looking for change–one was looking for donkeys, another was looking to punish.

Maybe it’s a reading about changed hearts.

“When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. 1 Samuel 10:5-6, NLT.

As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day. 1 Samuel 10:9, NLT.

26 When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 1 Samuel 10:26, NLT.

But it’s definitely a testament of God’s power.

But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. Acts 8:4, NLT.

12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. Acts 8:12, NLT.

Unexpected places; least expected people; in the midst of persecution, scattering, and feeling that everything is falling apart–God is there.

Lord, sometimes I give up on people–for changes that are unreliable, hearts that are hard as rocks, people on paths heading away from you. If it was only in their power, or my power, we are lost. But your power is the kind that changes everything. Help me to always look for you, because you’re there.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. Acts 7:55-60

Having children instantly inducted me into the huge group of women who have motherhood in common. In theory, that would mean that everyone gets along and walks the journey together, side-by-side, the more experienced giving encouragement to the newer ‘members’. But more often than not, as a mom, I am inevitably drawn into the ‘mommy wars’ – to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, breast milk or formula, crib or co-sleep, no cry or cry it out, conventional parenting or attachment parenting, control or free range, traditional school or homeschool, stay-at-home or work, and the list goes on.

As I have parented, I have had to make choices about what I feel is best for me and my family. Sometimes my decisions are met with acceptance and support from the other people around me, and sometimes my ideas differ and I am criticized for my philosophies.

Like most people, I tend to align myself with other mothers who are like-minded, allowing for harmony and a safety net for being real with each other. However, without intending to be impolite or provoking, sometimes the truth of my own experience is offensive to others. There have been quite a few times that I have been ridiculed, condemned by the ‘judge and jury’ because my parenting methods were different from ‘theirs’, because of dissimilar attitudes, diverse cultures, or generation gaps.

One particular instance, when I was figuratively stoned for a parenting choice, I did a lot of soul searching afterward. My heart was broken because I was already questioning my value and worth as a mother; I had been struggling a lot with typical 2-3’s disciplinary issues and I was feeling low and defeated. Over time I have realized that there are moments that I have to choose my battles with my kids to be an effective parent, but the issue I chose to ignore on that day brought an onslaught of verbal ‘rocks’. I was so caught off guard that I didn’t have time to get defensive, and I believe that was a God-send.

The Lord showed me facets to the barrage that enabled me to have better grasp of the situation and of the person behind it. He showed me the importance of forgiveness and helped me release the insult, no longer holding the ‘sin’ of misunderstanding against someone I care for. He filled my spirit with peace and I was able to let go of the offense.

I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve gotten caught up in a skirmish or two, a volley of metaphorical stones. But, I know now that I cannot forget that we are all really on the same team –a force of people who love our children. I will stand strong in my beliefs, my own history of parenting. But, it is important to resist the temptation to battle, and instead do everything I am able to forgive and offer grace to those who disagree, with my primary goal being connection – to God, other parents, and to my children respectively.

Yesappa, Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be a mother. Thank You for leading me through this journey of motherhood; and thank You for giving me opportunities to learn how to stay connected and forgiving, even when people don’t agree with my decisions in parenting. Help me continue to see each situation through the eyes of Your compassionate heart and give me wisdom in my interactions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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