Monthly Archives: April 2019

1 Samuel 31; 1 Chronicles 10

11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. (I Chron 10:11-14) NIV

The valiant men of Jabesh Gilead were the same ones who had turned to Saul to save them from the Amalekites. The Lord was with Saul and Samuel as they fought through the night to protect the city (1 Samuel 11). At that time, Saul was quick to give the glory to God for their victory. In his honor, these men rescued the bodies of Saul and his sons and gave them a proper burial. In tribute, they fasted for seven days. I love that they were willing to risk their lives to do such a noble act.

Time changed Saul and he started depending less and less on the LORD and more on himself and other gods. He decided to do what was right in his own eyes. He chose not to wait on God’s timing but took matters into his own hands. He half-heartedly worshiped the Lord. This was not the kind of king God wanted leading the Israelites—he wanted a man after God’s own heart. And thus ends the reign of Saul—the one who was “asked for”–and enters the reign of David. Saul experienced a spiritual death in his life long before his physical death.

Unfortunately I see a little of Saul in myself sometimes. How often do I trust in myself and my own plans without even thinking of inquiring of God? How often do I ask other people for their advice, or seek wisdom from books or Google rather than seeking answers from God? I know there are times I’ve rushed ahead of Him and done things in my own timing. I’ve learned over the years, that is never a good idea. It usually does not turn out well. How grateful I am to have a God of second chances (and third, and fourth).

Abba, Father, I have tried living life without you and it is so much better with you in it. I want to be a woman after your own heart.  I think of the Psalm, “better is one day in your court than thousands elsewhere” and know just how special the time we spend together is. Sometimes it is difficult to pull myself away. Thank you for your patience and lovingkindness towards me when I think I’m too busy to sit with you. I especially thank you for never being too busy for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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I Samuel 28-30; I Corinthians 11; Psalm 109

Could I ever pray too much?

David faced incredibly complex and challenging circumstances. His constant response shows why he is known as a man after God’s own heart:

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. ~I Samuel 30:6 ESV

David inquired of the Lord ~ v.8

but I give myself to prayer. ~Psalm 109: 4b ESV

My knees are weak through fasting;
    my body has become gaunt, with no fat. ~ v. 24

Whether pursued by one of his many enemies or dealing with the fallout of wicked attacks, David pursued God’s justice.

In Psalm 109 we may not know the exact context, but he is clearly seeking God’s vindication with a clear desire for this other person to be punished. David leaves nothing to the imagination. He wants the other person to die and his family to be destitute.

Yet, David does not act. He prays. Fasts to the point of fatigue, serious weight loss.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
    I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one

In the face of opposition, we should rest in God’s power and sovereignty, continue to praise His name, and even give thanks knowing he is faithful. He provides the strength and peace even when the circumstance presses in with fear and loss.

Our situation might not be quite as dramatic as having our family kidnapped requiring us to march for days without provision to reclaim them in a hostile raid, but we must equally rely on God for our daily strength and direction.

David was ready to face such an event because he had a right relationship with God. We should also regularly seek our hearts and make sure we are in line with His.

28 Let a person examine himself . . . 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.  ~ excerpts from I Corinthians 11:27-32

Specifically referring to taking communion with the proper ceremony, but it may be safe to take a broader application here as well.

We often deceive ourselves concerning our own sinfulness. We ignore pride, deception, manipulation, judgment, and other sins. God calls us to judge ourselves truly. Examine our hearts.

Communion is a great time for this, but it should likely be done at other times as well. Weekly, possibly even daily we should let God’s spirit reveal those sins we have rationalized and ignored. Better to deal with them on an ongoing basis through confession, repentance, and God’s forgiveness, than to be subject to God’s judgment, which in this passage at times led to death!

Lord God, I want to be ready for the battles ahead in this day. There is hurt and fear of man in my heart that threatens to overwhelm and clouds my wisdom. Forgive me for acting out of human logic and help me to rely ever more on You alone. Point out my sin that I may not tolerate it or be hindered by it. Pressing on, In Jesus Name, Amen

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 27; 1 Chronicles 9; 1 Corinthians 10; Psalms 141

We just celebrated Easter.  Christ’s resurrection is the cornerstone event of the Christian faith.  Because He died for our sins and rose from the dead, we too can be resurrected.  Easter gives us that hope.

Several verses stood out to me this week in the light of Easter.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” (1 Corinthians 10:26 ESV)  Everything belongs to Him.

“So whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV).  Whatever we do in life, whether its changing diapers, driving a bus or running a company, we need to do all things like we’re doing them to God.  He gets the glory when we live our lives to the best of our ability no matter the task.

But my eyes are towards you, O Lord my God; in you I seek refuge, leave me not defenseless.” (Psalms 141:8)  Our job is to focus on the Lord, not our problems, and He will take care of the rest.

Dear Lord,

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you and the lifting of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” (Psalms 141:2)

Amen,

Kellie

 

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1 Samuel 25-26; 1 Corinthians 9; Psalm 63

Last week, I read of Saul’s fondness for David turn to jealousy for his gifting. David was great at many things, and his talents and strengths were an affront and offense to Saul’s insecurities and pride. The first time I read the verse, 29 Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life”(1 Samuel 18:29, NLT), I read it wrong. I first saw it as David became Saul’s enemy, but it was the opposite: Saul’s thoughts for David made him DAVID’S enemy.

Last week, Saul threw spears at David during a harp performance. This week, David takes Saul’s spear while he sleeps. I imagine this Saul army of enemies–3,000 troops assembled to battle, and this scene, this David daring–I’m at the edge of my seat, breath held.

David slipped over to Saul’s camp one night to look around. Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping inside a ring formed by the slumbering warriors. “Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother.

“I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied. So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.

“God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!”

“No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!”

12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep (1 Samuel 26:5-12, NLT).

Saul’s jealousy turned him into David’s enemy. And Saul was every bit an enemy–hating, hunting, intending harm. David was being himself, using his God-given and God-appointed strengths and position to serve the Lord and the king. When David has the chance to put a stop to the threat, he doesn’t. David’s trust in God’s sovereignty stays his hand–whatever God chooses: 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. (Remember how the Lord handled Nabal?)

It doesn’t matter to David how or when or where. He trusts God is in control. David humbles himself to God’s will and timing. God impresses upon me to do the same. God asks me to look at myself, to guard my thoughts and heart, to do the tasks he’s entrusted me with, and to trust him with the rest.

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT).

Note to self: run with purpose.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 8; 1 Corinthians 8; Psalm 57, 58

I know that Paul was not the most sensitive man when it came to other people’s feelings. So I loved reading about the time he was right about the insignificance of idols and the fact that there was nothing sinful about eating meat sacrificed to them. But rather than trying to make a point, I can see that he wanted to make a difference. He demonstrated to me that he didn’t want to lose the right to disciple a weaker believer by leading them into sin. I admire that he didn’t push for his point of view. Instead, just like I need to learn, he willingly limited his freedom for the sake of weaker followers of Jesus who were still trying to figure out what that freedom was all about.

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating[c] in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged,[d] if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers[e] and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. – 1 Corinthians 8:9-13  ESV

In the church I was attending there were a bunch of teenagers that thought it was okay to drink. What they did not know was that a sixteen year old girl was struggling with alcohol. Her mother fought hard, prayed hard and finally the girl broke free from her addiction. One night, when walking across a parking lot from work, she bumped into this group of teenagers (from my church) who were drinking from the trunk of a car. They invited her to participate, and even when she declined, they pressured her saying that it was not a sin. She took her first sip and fell right back into her addiction. They bullied their freedom on to someone who had said no.

Father,  even though I do not know their story, why do I presume to think that everyone is the same as me? Lord, I want to walk alongside others, not make them like me, but make them like You. Help me challenge those who cannot see, help me love and not judge, help me walk alongside as You have walked alongside me. Thank you.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Samuel 23; 1 Corinthians 7; Psalms 31,35

Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him?  And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.” And the Lord said, “He will come.”  Again David asked,”Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men too Saul?” And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.” “Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.” 1 Samuel 23:10-14 NLT

David’s prayers that I have become so familiar with from Psalms come to life in the book of Samuel.  He has an adversary hunting him down.  I can almost feel his uneasiness when he asked the Lord twice if the men were going to betray him.  Maybe that is why Jonathan knew that David needed the encouragement of a friend.

“Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.  “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father Saul, is well aware.” 1 Samuel 23:16-17 NLT

Sometimes I think I have to do it all myself.  Stay strong on my own.  But, my burden always feels lighter when a friend speaks truth into my life.  Did Jonathan remind David that he has the Lord’s favor? (Psalm 31:16).  Like a friend did for me recently. Could she tell that I was starting to lose hope?  How am I helping to strengthen her faith?

“So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines.  Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape.” 1 Samuel 23:28&29 NLT

I wonder if this was a lesson for David on who his true fortress is. It brings to my mind a dream that I had.  There was an intruder coming to attack my house.  My family and I were hiding.  And like Saul, they fled.

”O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced.  Save me, for you do what is right.  Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly.  Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe.  You are my rock and my fortress.  For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.  Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone.” Psalms 31:1-4 NLT

Dear Father,  thank you for your constant care and protection.  I don’t have to fear because I am safe in you.  Help me to remember who the real enemy is.  And that you already have the victory.  Amen.

“But give great joy to those who come to my defense.  Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!” Psalms 35:27 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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1 Samuel 22; 1 Corinthians 6; Psalms 34, 35, 17

A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

We are told in 1 Samuel 25:25 that the name Nabal means fool. What caused him to have that name?  I remember agonizing over choosing the names of my children before they were born—after all, they were going to have it the rest of their life.  My granddaughter had a heart defect the doctors found when she was still in utero.  They knew she would need surgery as soon as she was born so my daughter specifically chose a name that meant “strength” as she knew her daughter would need it to survive. In my mind, she was defining the kind of life she wanted for her daughter.  Did Nabal’s family give that name to him when he was born or was it changed later in life?  Since he was “surly and mean”, did he come from a family that expected him to be that way?

A name like “fool” can certainly shape your life. It seems to me you either accept it and live up to what people expect you to be, or you do the opposite and spend your life trying to prove that you are not what your name implies.  By his own wife’s words, we are told he lived up to his name.

On the other hand, the name Abigail means “father’s joy” or “joy of the father”. I can picture Abigail being twirled around in her father’s arms as a child dearly loved.  “She was an intelligent and beautiful woman” yet somehow she ended up being married to Nabal.  Perhaps her family was poor or had fallen into hard times and her father thought he was doing what was best for his daughter by offering her in marriage to a wealthy man.

28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

Abigail knew exactly who David was, that he was running away from Saul, and that he was destined to be ruler over Israel while her husband had no clue. She really was intelligent. Nabal was vain, ungrateful, and couldn’t be bothered when approached by David’s men.  Yet Abigail knew exactly how to act.  She was well prepared to feed David’s army (who has 200 loaves of bread lying around?) as she directed her household to pull all the food together so quickly.  Then, she wisely humbled herself before him.  I think this took David by surprise!  He had his mind set on destroying Nabal and his household—he was not expecting such graciousness!  God saved David from his own “folly” that day by Abigail’s quick actions.

In a way, the story reminds me of the plot of a romance novel. Saul is chasing our hero, David.  While David is hiding out, he provides protection to a local ranch owner, Nabal, as he sheers his sheep.  When his army runs out of food, David sends his men to politely ask for some provisions from this wealthy ranch owner.  The surly, mean husband sends them away—after all, he never asked for David’s help.  In an emotional reaction to his refusal for aide, David decides he is going to kill the males of the household.  The servants come back to report everything to the intelligent and beautiful wife, our heroine in the story.  She quickly assesses the situation and saves her household from destruction—and David from doing something he might later regret.  He recognizes her true value. They have a moment but each goes their own way. Upon finding out the entire story, the husband has a stroke, and then dies.  Hearing of Nabal’s death, David, who was so impressed by Abigail, offers to marry her.  Then she lives happily ever after as the second wife to the King of Israel.

I waited patiently for the Lord;he turned to me and heard my cry.He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.He put a new song in my mouth,a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

I know those verses fill me with gratitude as I think of God’s faithfulness in my own life. I know David wrote them.  I wonder if he ever read them to Abigail and she could see God’s hand working in her own life.  Maybe she realized she was her heavenly “Father’s joy” after all!

Lord, I know names are important to you. I thank you for the greatest name of all, Jesus.  He alone is our salvation as his names says.   My name means bringer of peace.  True peace only comes from knowing Jesus.  I pray for the opportunity to bring that peace to others.  In Jesus precious name.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

From the archives. Originally published September 1, 2017.

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