Category Archives: 1 Samuel

I Samuel 31; I Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

The men of Israel had fled from the lost battle, and Saul and his sons were dead, their headless bodies attached to a wall. “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13.

For all his faults and even though the kingdom was torn from his hands, Saul was still mourned and honored in his death. Sometimes I wish that I could undo all the mistakes and missteps I made in digging my own pit. Truly, the resurrection power of Christ Jesus that lives in me is the only force that could pull me up and out of those dark places.

Even so, I have experienced times when God seemed far away from me. At such times, I have examined my motives and my works to learn how far I have gone from Him. Corinthians 11:30-32 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Often, during those times, my family and others have commented on the blessings of God observed in my life. Their remarks confirm to me the unique position believers have in Christ Jesus. God illustrated that fact when speaking through Ezekiel and other prophets in the Bible to remind us that He marks His own.

Ezekiel 9:4 “…and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’” I think of my many prayers to the Lord – admitting helplessness over things I have no power to change. Why does He come near? Because I am good – no! Because I am marked by Him; I am His own, and He alone is able to save.

I look around and the signs of God’s presence are everywhere – He is in the beauty of His creation; He is in His people, the Church; He is in the sacrifices and the tender gestures of the strong and the weak. He is here right now.

Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

There is no place I would rather be, Dear Lord God, than here and now to be in Your presence!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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1 Samuel 7; 1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

Narrative is a powerful force. We each walk around with our individual stories being crafted in our heads. My husband has this clever way of telling me that my narrative is not in sync with his. When he puts it that way, we’re much less likely to get in an argument.

Psalm 44‘s author’s narrative is that God “has made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.” Yet when he remembers the truth of who God is, accusations become pleas: “Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.” Psalm 44:26    The Psalms demonstrate that God understands the depth and complexities of emotion and thought and that He is not content to leave us in “stuck.” When I pray, when I call out to him, my story changes. I am changed by his narrative—not the other way around.

God tells Ezekiel and the people of Israel that desolation is heading their way. They will know the war, disease and suffering, but it doesn’t end there. In the end, “They shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 6:14.  Once again, God and his story rise above the course of human history and people change.

When I read and pray God’s Word, my narrative submits to God’s. I need to be mindful of the Gospel every day (and sometimes multiple times a day) to get a grasp of reality. A joy takes over when I pray with Jesus and the saints, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as is is in heaven.” Whether I am in a place of suffering or joy, my story becomes grounded in who God is:

“Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth- as in fact there are many gods and many lords–yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”  1 Corinthians 8:5-6.

Lord, I get absorbed in my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I only see what’s going on around me.  Too easily,  I forget that you are Lord. By your Holy Spirit, may your Word take root in my heart and thrive. May your truth and grace rule. Hold me close to you so that when others see me, they can see your grace at work in my life. Amen.

Klueh

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 25; 1 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 4; Psalm 40, 41

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)

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1 Samuel 23; 1 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 2; Psalm 38

Any story of David inspires me somewhere along my journey of faith.  One that has dramatically made a difference was calling on God and asking His input on any decision that I had to make.

David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” – I Samuel 23:2 NRSV

The entire act of prayer is one of humility – that is for sure – but the practice of listening and hearing God’s voice as David did – that was revolutionary in my life.

You can imagine when you walk in a room and declare that “I have heard from God.” A bit scary because it kind of slants the position of power in the room.  I learned quickly that what God shared with me was for my information and that I was to dispense what I knew in love.

For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? – 1 Corinthians 4:20-21 NRSV

And yet, there are moments, when speaking into the lives of others, especially when I am preparing a sermon to deliver to a wide audience on a Sunday morning – I need to remember to speak His Words – they are life, and mine are not.

 You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.  – Ezekiel 2:7 NRSV

This is actually important stuff – listening to God – what happens if He does not say anything?  One story comes to mind right away – Saul refusing to wait for Samuel to give him instructions and blessing for an upcoming battle.  He felt so threatened that he went ahead without waiting.  David comes back to me again and screams at me – wait, wait I say on the Lord!  If I am going to listen, I am going to have to wait for an answer.

But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. – Psalm 38:15 NRSV

Thank you Lord for your gracious patience as I learn to wait.  Your grace makes my journey of faith enjoyable, exciting and adventurous.  As I continue to learn so much from David’s walk with You, may the moments where I feel I have waited enough or too long, be just that, moments.  Instead may my heart rest on the fact that I trust You completely – so my hope is in no other. Amen

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1 Samuel 21&22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalms 37

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about wicked schemes.” Psalms 37:7 NLT

I have a hard time being still. As I sit here now, my mind is scattered and I can’t help but think of all the tasks I need to complete. But, his words refresh me. They remind me of his constant care.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord hold them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23 NLT

His provision.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” Psalms 37:25 NLT

His goodness.

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.” Psalms 37:34 NLT

Sometimes I lose sight of his faithfulness and I start to compare my life to others. Instead of reaching out to others, I can become discontent. Doesn’t Paul say, that is acting like the world?

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NLT

When I sit quietly in his presence, my hope is restored. I find myself living in gratitude for all he has done for me. His glory is revealed to me in ways that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me.” Ezekiel 1:28 NLT

Dear Father, Strip my heart of anything that is not from you. Forgive me for when I look to lesser things to bring fulfillment. Everything I have comes from you. Help me to quiet my heart before you and rest in your presence. Amen.

The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.” Psalms 37:39&40 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Psalms 26-27

I have read Romans so many times that I have become somewhat numb to the impact it had on Jews and Gentiles alike.  Romans 4:11 shocked me for the first time; “He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them.”

Why did God choose circumcision of all things to represent a condition of the heart? It’s a graphic symbol about a part of the body we don’t discuss in mixed company. Isn’t it just like God to keep me from becoming too spiritual when it comes to faith? Abraham’s faith in God, calls him to place his son on the altar as well as undergoing circumcision. And what did Sarah think about all of this?

Abraham challenges me; I take faith far too lightly. God’s grace is serous business; it holds the knife over the most tender places…places I do my best not to expose.

But the good news of this grace finds me every time I cry out to God, every time I consider His word:

“But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart…” Romans 10:8  and “so faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 8:15.

I have to speak the good news of Jesus Christ to my heart multiple times a day to keep myself off the hamster wheel of works and self righteousness. It’s his grace that saves me, not what I do. What I do is a response to his grace. When it’s not, He is waiting to restore what I broke. He loves me that much, not because I merit it, but because, quite simply, that is who He is. He sees the most vulnerable parts of me— the places hidden from others and even myself, and He never turns away.

Holy Spirit, may your grace and peace settle deep into my soul so that I live in the freedom and joy of your grace. Jesus, thank you for taking my rags and giving me your righteousness to wear. I thank you for the wonder of who you are and the healing and restoration you bring to me. Your love, your sacrifice is my joy.

Kathy

 

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1 Samuel 7,8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 20,21

Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3 NRSV

If you are like me, a follower of Jesus, then you and I have answered this question of choice and if I am honest – I have to choose everyday and every day I have to choose Jesus.  For me, if I do not, I find myself being okay with certain weaknesses and falling for certain temptations and then declaring them to be in the realm of grace

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1 NRSV

The answer is definitely a big NO! So what is my problem, why do I think it is okay?

But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. – Jeremiah 44:5 NRSV

I find my relationship with God falls into a pattern, a grove, a comfortable “method” or “process” and as busy as I am in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication – I miss the most important part of any relationship – listening.  While I have been busy talking, I forget to listen – how does God want to respond to what I have just said or how does He want to engage Himself into my day?  I do not know and maybe I don’t because in some weird moment of time – I might admit that I do not want to know.

I think you know where this is going – throw in some trouble and what do I do? Yes, I call on God. This is where it get’s tricky – I feel that since I did not spend much quality time with Him that I do not deserve to call on Him.  Wow – so simple to get pushed even further away from God.   But I know this – His grace is sufficient and as my Heavenly Father, He cares.  I can always call out His name and He is there.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob protect you! – Psalm 20:1 NRSV

Lord, if I have to forgive others as much as You have forgiven me, that is a whole lot more than 70 x 7!  How thankful I am for your grace, but more thankful that You never allow the Holy Spirit to leave me – I am convicted of my sin and I find my way back to You.  I bless You for Your faithfulness – thank You for Your protection.  I can always count on You.  I pray that my faithfulness will grow as we grow in our relationship together and that I would rather do the things You would like me to do as opposed to the things I want to do for myself.  Thank You for bringing me into Your space and allowing me to be a part of Your family.

evanlaar

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