Monthly Archives: April 2021

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

“After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.” 1 Samuel 18:1-4 NLT

I was recently listening to a podcast with Lysa TerKeurst called, The Shame Script. Lysa talked about the ways shame can be harmful to relationships. How it can cause isolation, when God calls me to intimacy. I was reading 1 Samuel and reflecting on Jonathan and David’s friendship. It says there was an immediate bond between them. I like to imagine them having deep conversations about God. They were like brothers, bonded for life. They took their shame, doubts and insecurities to the Lord. I’m convinced that this made their friendship even stronger. They didn’t let anything come between them. Not even Saul’s jealousy of David. (1 Samuel 18:9 NLT)

“Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue for me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies. But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.” Psalms 59 NLT

How often do I carry past hurts into a friendship, instead of taking it to the Lord?

Dear Father, thank you for the gift of friendship and community. We are not meant to do this life alone. Thank you that I can trust you with my feelings. That you are the true healer of my heart. I want to live from a place of acceptance and not striving for it. Help me to be after your heart, like David was. Amen.

“But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do. And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel!” Acts 13:22&23 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 17; 1 Chronicles 2; Acts 12

Israel faces off against the Philistines in war. The stakes: freedom.

 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. (1 Samuel 17:8-11, NLT)

On the scene, David notices the offense and speaks out.

David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26, NLT)

He’s speaking to other soldiers, and they answer him–marriage into the king’s family, exemption from taxes … but this comment steals in and takes aim at the heart.

28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” (1 Samuel 17:28, NLT, emphasis added.)

I’m staring into the face of everyone who has ever shut me down, criticized me, mocked my life, skills, ambitions. A brother belittles, condemns, accuses. When I think of all the things David was up against in his lifetime, the first cut comes from his family. And it wasn’t an isolated case.

29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” (1 Samuel 17:29, NLT)

Everyone remembers David’s fight against Goliath, but David had been fighting his whole life.

32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!” (1 Samuel 17:32-37, NLT)

A brother undercuts. Saul reluctantly relents. Soon, even Goliath will laugh like David is a joke. But I sit with this: God knew David. God saw David’s heart. David knew himself–reminded himself of what he was able to do. And David knew God and what God was able to do.

David didn’t wear the king’s armor into his battle because it wasn’t made for him and didn’t fit. He went in with the skills he had and the weapons he knew, weapons that would have failed any soldier in the army who had been trained to fight with swords. He stepped up with unshakeable confidence in God. No. He didn’t just step up. He ran to meet the challenge.

45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head. (1 Samuel 17:45-51, NLT, emphasis added.)

Father God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for reminding me who I am in you. Thank you for the reminder to do what I can with what I have, and that yours is the only opinion that matters. The glory is yours.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 15-16; 1 Chronicles 1; Psalm 39; Acts 11

I was in a meeting this week where the devotional leader discussed how easy it is for us to think we are standing firm and tall and yet, God’s Word declares that in that very moment, we could fall. God gives so much, I do not have to stand on my own – ever.

Samuel continued, “Although you once considered yourself unimportant, have you not become the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:17 HCSB

Saul made such a mistake – he forgot he was made in the image of God and that he was supposed to reflect His rule. Instead he misused his authority. It is returning to God when I mess up that allows the Father to define me by His love and let Him fill me with His Spirit. It was from this position that I can give myself to Jesus and accept His call as He sends me out into the world.

Adam, Seth, Enosh – 1 Chronicles 1:1 HCSB

As I read all the names of those listed in this chapter, I can recall some of their stories. Many had ideas about God but most of them I remembered had a relationship with God – that God heard, knew and remembered – that God was gracious and come alongside them and gave them what they needed. I think they loved to think of Him as God the Giver.

Now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You. – Psalm 39:7 HCSB

This is what I notice in my life – my happiness is in exact proportion to my despair of this world to the hope I have in the mercy and all-sufficient love of God. When I look to God and see His hand in all my troubles and put my faith in His wisdom, justice, truth and love I can rest easy because He is right there.

But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists,[e][f] proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. – Acts 11:20-21 HCSB

In his book, Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley asks a question, Who is church for?  I love discipling others and I find the church the place where I love to be and find that I fit well into that purpose. I also love to tell the gospel story to those who have never heard the good news. What a joy to bring them into a body that loves Jesus as much as their new found love.

Father, may I never lose sight of who You are. Thank you for adding my name to the list of those who have experienced Your gracious generosity. May I find strength in the idea of resting in You, even in the midst of You changing me. I pray that when I speak, may Your words heal those who are listening. May many hear the good news of Your love and respond as the Holy Spirit moves in their lives. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Samuel 14; Psalm 124; Acts 10

Food is something we all need to survive. Food is also a pleasure that we often enjoy. When food is denied for the Israelites, problems arise.

And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.’ So none of the people had tasted food. Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dripping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright. Then one of the people said, ‘Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying “Cursed be the man who eats food this day.” And the people were faint. Then Jonathan said, ‘My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.” (I Samuel 14:24-30 ESV)

Acting rashly. Depriving people of a basic need. Saul was making poor decisions as a leader and the consequences followed.

Peter had a vision in his hunger.

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:9-16 ESV)

The Lord was prompting Peter to eat. Peter resisted because he thought he would be breaking rules, but the Lord corrected him.

In both passages, both men needed to rely on the Lord. The Psalm selection today reflects on their and our help coming from Him. If we rely on ourselves, we are hopeless.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…let Israel say now

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;

then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;

the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124 ESV)

Amen!

~Kellie

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1 Samuel 11-13; Psalm 38; Acts 9

The story of two Sauls.

And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.

I Samuel 11:5 ESV

King Saul began as a somewhat humble man. He sought God and fought hard for His people.

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Acts 9:1-2 ESV

Saul, who became Paul the Apostle, began as a persecutor of the church. He ignorantly thought he was carrying out God’s judgment on this new sect, to become known as “Christians.”

But, in today’s reading, and a sneak peak into a couple day’s from now, we see a complete reversal in each of their lives.

The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”

I Samuel 15:10

20 And immediately he [Saul] proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 9:20-22 ESV

Who we are one day, does not determine our future. Who others perceive us to be, does not determine our future. We can be redeemed or corrupted as we continue to choose our life’s path. We must daily cry out for His wisdom and direction. Becoming a Christian might be a one time event, but living as one is a daily commitment.

Do not forsake me, O Lord!
    O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
    O Lord, my salvation!

Psalm 38:22 ESV

This week I was reminded of the need for a continually renewed eternal perspective and reliance on God. .

There are no ordinary people.

You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

C.S. Lewis

It is so easy to look at the physical world in front of us and give it undue emphasis, when in fact these worldly accomplishments, accolades, and accounts are the most temporary things about us. We will live forever. I am immortal and need to give greater care to my character, treatment of others, and self-sacrifice than earthly record keeping. My desire must be to honor God and follow Him rather than to seek the approval of man and any verbal or material recognition they might offer me.

May my life not mimic the first king of Israel that followed God for a season, but succumbed to people-pleasing before too long. Rather, may my life more closely resemble Saul of the New Testament who recognized his error and completed forfeited his own will for his life to find the beautiful freedom in Jesus, the Messiah.

Lord God, may You be first and foremost in my life today and every day. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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