Monthly Archives: March 2022

1 Samuel 12:19-14:42 

I do not believe that the end justifies the means. I have seen too many means manipulated to make it so. Saul’s life had so many moments where God’s hand showed up. He could easily have declared his own righteousness based on the results of his actions, but none of that had to do with him, it was all God.

There have been moments in my life, critical times, that I needed to make a decision that held tremendous importance. Then I read about Jonathan. Mine were nothing compared to his – his was about life and honour or disgrace and death.

The pass that Jonathan was planning to cross over to the Philistine garrison was flanked on either side by sharp rock outcroppings, cliffs named Bozez and Seneh. The cliff to the north faced Micmash; the cliff to the south faced Geba (Gibeah). – 1 Samuel 14:4-5 MSG

When faced with the impassible, Jonathan showed up with decisiveness and courage but he also showed up with God who gave him the strength to persevere.

Saul can only mess things up again. He calls for God to talk to him, immediately throws that decision away in order to join in a fight.

God saved Israel! What a day! – 1 Samuel 14:23 MSG

Saul did not get the honour of winning this fight, God did. It was God who made a covenant with Abraham that He wanted to honour, it was God honouring Jonathan’s love and gifting of himself to God that moved Him to action. Saul was shut out of honour and blessing because he shut out God. How can he turn to God, to honour Him by seeking His counsel, and then seconds later, irreverently discontinues in order to be part of the pursuit not regarding whether God wanted that course of action?

I have a few takeaways. I want to do a study of leadership who have honoured God and how He has honoured them. I want to be aware to avoid the gain of earthly honour or other advantages at the cost of leaving God out of my everyday decisions. I want to be aware that it is not about me or what I want, but only God’s honour. So I will not seek His help to move my own self-interest forward. I aim to seek His will above mine.

Father, I think it is easier to be a Saul than a Jonathan and I can sense the temptation to move forward on my own in so many areas of my life. Help me seek You first, remind me when I do not.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Samuel 9:11-12:18 

“Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” 1 Samuel 12:24 NKJV

Samuel is clear in what he is trying to convey to Israel and to me.    

– Fear the Lord

– Serve the Lord in truth with your whole heart

– Consider what he has done for you

On the surface these are somewhat easy sounding things to do, but they can be difficult.  My first reaction is to want to do things on my own apart from God.

The more I read the Bible and SOAP the scripture the more I’m finding passages like this one.  I keep being amazed how direct Gods word is.  It’s only when I slow down and consider the passage that I really see clearly.  Consider what God has done. How often do I do that?  Serve God with my whole heart?  I serve God, but am I serving with joy and gratitude all the time?  The daily discipline of thanking God for all he has done is something I want to incorporate into my life. 

Dear Heavenly Father,

I’m so sorry for not thanking you every day.  Forgive me for not considering what you have done and continue to do.  I praise you right now for your Word.  Help me Lord to serve with my whole heart.

Jon (jonfrommd)

From the archives. Originally published April 4, 2009.

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1 Samuel 5:1-9:10

The words seem to hold a physical weight. The ark of God is held by the Philistines.

The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. (1 Samuel 5:6, NIV)

and

But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. (1 Samuel 5:9, NIV)

The Philistines send the ark of God away, back to the Israelites.

Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. (1 Samuel 7:2b-4, NIV)

They gather at Mizpah to fast and confess. Samuel is there to intercede for them. And this is the moment an enemy attacks–when the Israelites commit themselves and show devotion to the Lord.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:10-12, NIV)

Samuel serves as a leader to the Israelites, and when he is old, he appoints his sons to take his place. This is a familiar theme in the Bible: Good leaders who follow the Lord, followed by leaders who don’t.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9, NIV, emphasis mine)

I sit and think about these verses. I do not want the Lord’s hand against me. An enemy wants me as far from the Lord as possible and will send chaos and conflict my way to distract me from worshiping and keeping a focus.

The search for a lost donkey will lead Saul to Samuel. Saul will be appointed king in a future reading. But it’s in this moment that I see the start of a bigger journey, and Saul–just Saul. Saul before it all. His is one of the saddest stories to me. He makes good choices and bad choices. He struggles with uncertainty, insecurity, pride, jealousy, and anger. But that isn’t what makes his story sad–it’s that he could have done life with God, and he didn’t.

Just verses earlier, a group returns to God. And in the passing of time, they convince themselves there is a better way. God sees it as a rejection of him. It can be done by a people (all individuals acting in a group) and by an individual (Saul, who is to be appointed by God for a task–a very big one).

Father God, let me view each moment as an appointment by you. Let me journey each day with you. When I draw close to you, let me not be distracted by an enemy’s ploys, but help me always keep a kingdom focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 2-4 

1 Samuel 2:30b, NLT- “I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me”

1 Samuel 3:19, NLT- “As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful.”

It seemed like God was letting Eli’s wicked sons get away with dishonoring him…”so the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt” (1 Sam.2:17)

God is very patient and long suffering, but he will not be mocked for long, We will reap what we sow ! (Galatians 6:7)  God punished Eli’s sons and Eli himself for his lack of discipline to his children.  Eli’s family line would be cut off from priestly servant hood as decreed by God.

Thankfully God always has a faithful remnant of people who choose to serve Him !  God saw this in Samuel’s heart. Samuel would become a great prophet to Israel.

Am I giving pleasing offerings to God or am I selfishly taking the best and giving him the leftovers.

Am I doing anything that God could be losing patience with?  Do I have any sin that I need revealed to me, that needs to be purged out of my life, so I can be in complete fellowship with my God?

I pray that I am choosing God daily. Choosing to follow His commands. Choosing to be obedient. I want to be a part of his faithful remnant today. I want to be a sweet aroma that reaches His throne of grace.

Lord, I am thankful that you are long suffering. But I am also thankful that you do not let sin in my life go unchecked for long. I pray that I can take your discipline with courage and move on in greater obedience and love for you. I pray that every trail and tribulation brings me closer to your glory. I pray that each of my days would be lived out to give you the glory you so richly deserve . I love you Lord. Amen.

Susie (hvnbnd4u)

From the archives. Originally published April 1, 2009.

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Ruth 2:14-4:22; I Samuel 1

Women of the Bible: the stories of Ruth and Hannah

 When reading Scripture, I often visualize myself walking in the shoes of the principal characters of the narratives. I can imagine, for instance, being Ruth the Moabite woman living in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Rising early and walking to a field where she hoped to pick up the leftover grain to bring home sustenance for Naomi and herself. Listening to the wise council of the one woman she trusted with all her heart, the one who taught her to love and believe in the God of Israel. Risking her virtue and physical safety to join with strangers, she a foreigner in a small, but tightly woven community where everyone knew your story without knowing you. What could that have been like? The part of me that relates is the yearning I had as a young girl to know who to depend on for sustenance, guidance, and comfort. Grateful for those times when others showed concern and genuine caring. Yet, always longing for stability when, even as a young woman, I continued to need protection and provision. I’ve often testified that God answered the prayer of this unbeliever when He sent to me a husband who satisfied my need for security. How wonderful that even though I was not then aware of my future salvation, God knew. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29.

Like a Cinderella story, Ruth found her charming prince and Naomi held her precious grandson against her shoulder. And from that fortuitous pairing of Ruth and Boaz came the future King David and the messianic lineage of Jesus Christ. I, too, had my prince and then my own little darling to raise.

In Hannah’s story, my heart was torn reading that after God answered her prayer for a child, she could give up of that same child for another to raise. Hannah’s anguish over being barren, year after year, may be difficult to understand in America today. Young adults are waiting longer to marry and longer still to have children. We praise the family who limits conceiving their number of children to two or less. We value resources such as food, fuel, forests, and air as if these elements preserve our future. Yet, are we not, as C.S. Lewis once argued careening toward the “abolition of man?” Still, what is the first commitment made by most Christian parents who love the Lord God? We dedicate our children to God – to raise them in the “admonition of the Lord.” We stand publicly before our congregations to declare we will raise our children in a godly home, and we ask for their support in teaching and modeling for our children how to obey and love God. Yet, Hannah’s desire for her son to know God went so much deeper. She held the hand of little Samuel, a child of two or three years old, and took him to actually live in the sanctuary and be raised by the aging priest, Eli.

“And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord [Eli], I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord…For this child I prayed and the Lord granted me my petition…Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord,” I Samuel 1:26-28.

In dedicating my own daughter, did I truly give her over to the Lord? I thought I did. I still feel the joy and pride of her memorizing Scripture for the Bible Bowl, attending Vacation Bible School, singing in the Children’s Choir, coloring pictures of Jesus and the Cross, creating her own Christmas and Easter cards, and writing stories and poems for her Christian school English teachers. But did I hamper her learning to trust in God by my own need for validation as a mother? Why was it so hard to believe that God loved her more than I ever could?

These are questions that I ponder being a parent. There is no end to my negative self-talk, my mother-guilt, especially since my daughter passed away. Yet I am comforted knowing that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him,” (Biblegateway.com). As her mother, I can rejoice that God ‘lent’ her to me for a while like Hannah could rejoice despite knowing how short the time she would have to nurture her son.

Scripture is for our instruction in righteousness and for strengthening our faith, for courage, healing, and peace. God’s Word also reminds me that women in the Bible were important to His plan of redemption and the birth of the Church. I am comforted by the real stories of people who walked with God, obeyed, and worshiped Him, and were rewarded with renewed joy and greater faith. Ruth’s loyal love to Naomi, Hannah’s sacrificial gratitude for Samuel, and the many other heroines of the Old and New Testaments are the precious jewels of Proverbs 31 which declares, “For her worth is far above rubies…a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Precious Lord God, You alone fashioned me and every other child inside of mothers whom You loved. You know the first and last day we will walk this earth. Thank You, Lord, that You rejoice and sing over us from that first reunion with You and into eternity. May the Lord bless us and favor us, our family, our children, and their children while we wait for that day we are together again with Jesus, our Lord.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4

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