Category Archives: Old Testament

1 Samuel 16-17; 1 Corinthians 3; Psalm 9

1 Samuel 17:26 (NIV)
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

For more than a month Goliath had taunted the Israelites, and his taunts were working. The men were terrified and refused to fight. They were overcome by the size of this giant and they let their fear dictate their actions.

David, however, saw the situation differently. Or, rather, he saw it accurately: David knew that Goliath was not just defying the army; he was defying God Almighty. And David refused to let him get away with it.

David was not afraid of or intimated by Goliath. He was bold, and he was confident. Why? Because David knew Goliath was a mortal man who had dared to defy the Lord God, and David knew that God would defend His name and His honor before the Philistines and before the Israelites. So David took action.

1 Samuel 17:36-37 (NIV)
Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

While the Israelite army cowered in fear, David was determined to defend God. He stood up for God’s honor, confident and unafraid. He saw more than his circumstances; David saw his God.

1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Oh to have a fresh vision of God!

I want to be like David –

  • who was moved to action when someone disparaged the Lord his God
  • who was confident to challenge those who challenged God
  • who defended God’s honor even at his own personal risk
  • who had such a great understanding of God that he was unaffected by his circumstances
  • and who was the ultimate example of what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.

And God was with him.

1 Samuel 17:50-51, 53 (NIV)
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

Father, help me to see you like David saw you. Give me a fresh perspective of your power and might. Help me not to give into the fear of what people will say about me, how they will react, or what they might do, when I defend you. I want to stand up for you and defend your honor, regardless of opposition. Help me to trust you to defend your name through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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1 Samuel 14-15; 1 Chronicles 4-5; 1 Corinthians 2

I really love to read books–this week’s book samplings from the library include how not to kill houseplants, a Nordic mystery, women warriors in history, how to help those dealing with cancer, and a couple of motivational books on pushing past obstacles.

I like a good motivational book. Sometimes my mind tries to get me to give up on pursuits. Just this past weekend, before my feet even touched the floor, my mind was automatically trying to set me up for failure. I was thankful to get my hands on a book that covered the internal fight against resistance. There were some great phrases that helped shape perspective, however, overall, it lacked the guidance I needed.

Paul writes on wisdom, and it reminds me of how much God loves me and wants to be in relationship with me. I can know the wonderful things God has freely given. God’s foundation is the only one I want to build upon.

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.14 But people who aren’t spiritual[g can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to teach him?”[h

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-16, NLT).

I’ve read King Saul’s story enough to feel sad as soon as it begins. He was impulsive, undisciplined, proud. His is a story of putting God second to his own agenda.

36 Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.”

His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.”

But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Should we go after the Philistines? Will you help us defeat them?” But God made no reply that day. (1 Samuel 14:36-37, NLT).

Lord, I don’t want to go anywhere without you. Your Word reminds me often to keep my eyes on you, to wait on you, to trust you. Thank you that you make wisdom available, including the very real truth about the battle against resistance. I’m so very thankful that you won’t abandon me, and that you will help me when I call. You are a loving father, and I am a grateful daughter.

Courtney (66books365)


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1 Samuel 6-8; Galatians 5; Psalm 72

I’ve heard a saying that what you focus on, you get more of it.

Dear God, give me a kingdom focus.

The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.
Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord (1 Samuel 7:2-4, NLT).

Last year I wrote down some goals in hopes to bring order and direction to my life. I had been going in too many directions, saying yes to too many people, that I didn’t really make progress in anything, in fact my efforts to make others happy took me away from the people and things God gave me to steward. When I narrowed my focus, it gave me the filter I needed to make my steps intentional. When I took my eyes off that focus, there was no shortage of requests and demands eager to distract me from the tasks that most needed my attention.

The Israelites went some time maintaining their focus on God and enjoying peace and protection. But when the backdrop began to change, they started to lose their focus and placed it elsewhere. Again.

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:1-9, NLT. Emphasis added.).

Samuel warns them about what life will be like under a king’s rule. And their response?

“18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle” (1 Samuel 8:18-20, NLT).

Even so. We want to be like the nations around us.

Even so. Would I trade God’s peace and protection so that I could resemble the world around me? So that I could make others happy and throw myself off course of what matters and what God has called me to do?

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things (Galatians 5:16-23, NLT)!

Lord, help me to keep my eyes focused on you and your kingdom. I want to be directed by the Spirit and bear good fruit. Sometimes life’s backdrop changes, but you remain sovereign through all time.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 4-5; Galatians 4; Psalm 77

I have never seen this before, but didn’t the army of Israel look at the ark as a good luck charm – is that why they shouted?

As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. – 1 Samuel 4:5 ESV

So now they are untouchable, not because God walked with them but because they turned the ark into their “god.” I can recall right away movie scenes where people used the cross as their good luck charm or even the Bible and they warded off evil – only in the movies of course.

What do people see I put my trust in – my hope in – where does my joy sustain itself? I was challenged to love those I am with so that they could see God’s love for them.

My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! – Galatians 4:19 ESV

What makes my relationship with God harder than a good luck charm is that it costs me. First, that I care so much, and secondly that it means that my conversations with others are not shallow, but rather deep and meaningful. Finally, I forget the change is indeed painful. I go forward because I have learned that the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Are there doubts? Of course, why else the good luck charms? That is why Psalm 77 is so relevant as we experience change. This verse in particular grabs my attention.

Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion? – Psalm 77:9 ESV

Just like Israel, just like those I am walking with, I pray and I know God answers. Problem is solved. Then my feelings get involved and I wonder if He has received my notice because nothing seems to be changing. Then I wonder if I have sinned a sin that has blocked His favour. Too much wondering, too much worry and when I settle down and relax, rest, God speaks His love and everything goes back on track. No lucky charm required.

Father, I have learned to be patient and I have learned to trust You. From time to time, I find a way to forget, but I love the fact that when we spend time together, everything else comes together too, even my memory. Your love is powerful, fills my cup each day. I am thankful for the little resemblance I have of You and joy in others seeing You in me. Thank you. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 9-11; Mark 13; Psalm 49

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 . . . the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. (from Judges 9 – ESV)

Abimelech ruled for three bloody years. He had his 70 brothers killed to secure the throne, destroyed families, ambushed groups of people, killed another 1,000 hiding in a tower, and captured and killed until a woman dropped a millstone on his head. And, as much as he wanted to avoid the disgrace, it is still recognized that a woman ended his reign of terror even though his armor bearer officially ended his life.

All that wickedness, and he was afraid that he would have the reputation of dying at the hand of a female. The least of his worries.

Sadly, the leaders bear some blame as well. Instead of standing up to Abimelech, they strengthened his hands. (Lord, give me the wisdom to recognize evil and the boldness to speak out against it!)

We assume that Israel had at least a bit of a change of heart as the next two judges fill a brief five verses at the beginning of chapter ten with their length of reign and a note about their death and burial.

Before long though, Israel goes her own way. How often do I also find myself repeating the same sins? How often do pride and self-righteousness and bad habits and laziness poke their noses into my choices? My issue might not be foreign gods, but I have plenty of issues.

I find a bit of comfort in Jephthah’s story, despite the tragic ending. God used him. Someone rejected by society because of his out-of-wedlock birth, still had a place in God’s plan. (reminds me of Ruth, Rahab, Mary, and Tamar) I love that God forgives and looks at us from His unique perspective as our Creator. If we repent and surrender, and even sometimes when we don’t, he shows a love for us that goes beyond comprehension.

Lord, speak gently to my heart and help me to learn my lesson before I need to cry out to you from a place of punishment. Help me remember Your saving hand in times of peace and blessing as well as times of challenge. Thank you for using the broken, even me. ~Amen

Erin (6intow)

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