Category Archives: 1 Samuel

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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1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

“Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab. After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria; and Ahab killed sheep and oxen in abundance for him and the people who were with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth Gilaed. So Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” And he answered, “I am as you are, and my people as your people, we will be with you in the war.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 2 Chronicles 18:1-4 NIV

Jehoshaphat listened to the wrong voices, even though he knew which one was right and true.  He let his popularity and power guide his decisions. He aligned himself with a wicked king. Who am I walking with?  Will it strengthen my faith or weaken it? Will I let friends influence me or will I influence them?  A coffee date with a friend today is foremost in my thoughts.  I am grateful for her strong faith.  She keeps me grounded when I am tempted to get off track.  She tells me not to hold back, but to speak the truth in love.

“But Jehoshaphat said , “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla.” 2 Chronicles 18:6-7 NIV

Jehoshaphat still doesn’t listen to the Lord.  Until he is put in a situation where he needs him.  Oh, how this can be true for me as well.

“So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “It is the king of Israel!” Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him. For so it was, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.” 2 Chronicles 18:31&32 NIV

God listened and answered his prayer.  He didn’t condemn him for making the wrong choice.  He showed him mercy when he needed him the most.  He wants me to come to him with a willing heart.  And to know that it’s never to late cry out to him.

“So they said to him, “In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:5&6 NIV

Dear Jesus, thank you that when I pray,  you hear me.  Give me the courage to do your will, even when it’s not the popular thing to do.  Help me to be faithful to you when it’s hard.  Thank you for your promise to always be with me. Amen.

And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.” 2 Chronicles 18:13 NIV

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 30-31; 1 Chronicles 10; Acts 20

Sunday morning in church I was reminded again how important it was to acknowledge God, to walk with Him and to be sure that I am not so self-sufficient to realize that I do not need God every day, every hour of the day and with every breath I take.  He cares so much and protects me from falling away from my relationship with Him.

My friends, don’t be so greedy with what the Lord has given us! The Lord protected us and gave us victory over the people who attacked. – I Samuel 30:23   CEV

It was a vivid sermon for I was thinking of a friend of mine, a leader in our church community who left his wife for another woman.  No one can fathom how it happened.  What a legacy this 70-year-old man has left after years of following Jesus.

Saul died because he was unfaithful and disobeyed the Lord. He even asked advice from a woman who talked to spirits of the dead,  instead of asking the Lord. So the Lord had Saul killed and gave his kingdom to David, the son of Jesse. – 2 Chronicles 10:13-14   CEV

I was thinking of my own legacy and my own pride.  I was reminded that I too can fall away unless I put myself in God’s care.  I want to finish the work Christ gave me to do.  I want to tell people the good news of following Jesus.  I want to disciple those who are searching and those who have just began their journey.

But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness. Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God’s church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son. I now place you in God’s care. Remember the message about his great kindness! This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God’s people. – Acts 20: 24,28,32   CEV

Father, I want to be under Your care.  Your kindness is more than I can imagine.  Sometimes I wonder why I take advantage to sin thinking I can just ask for forgiveness later. These steps away from You do not keep me walking with You, they take me away from You. If I am going to be able to give to the Church Your message of kindness and the good news that comes from following Jesus, I must make that decision myself and I must walk with You, closely, and not from a distance.  Thank You for Your Word has challenged my heart once again and has kept me and changed me.  

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Uncategorized