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1 Samuel 19-21; 1 Chronicles 7; 1 Corinthians 5; Psalm 59

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. 1 Samuel 19:1 ESV

Ever since David defeated Goliath, Saul’s jealously seems to grow worse and worse. After trying to figure out how to kill David a roundabout way (sending him to kill a hundred Philistines for example), in 1 Samuel 19 and 20, Saul makes several clear attempts on David’s life. He is clearly upset by Samuel’s statement that none of his sons would reign after him and instead of acting with humility, he acts in rage. Saul’s pride and aggression are exactly the reason why God decided to remove his line from the throne.

Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 1 Samuel 19:11 ESV

After another war with the Philistines which lead to more praise getting heaped on David, Saul sends messengers to ensure that David does not leave his house alive. He only narrowly escaped due to his wife, Michal, who helps him out the window. While David may have feared for his life, he trusted that God would protect him from Saul as is evident in the psalm he wrote about the ordeal.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. Psalm 59:1-2 ESV

Throughout this harrowing event, David’s eyes were on the LORD for deliverance. David had done nothing wrong, he was merely the victim of Saul’s pride. God’s blessings on David enraged Saul, who wanted to keep the throne for his own line, despite the wishes of God.

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. Psalm 59:16 ESV

One thing I love about the Psalms is how personal they can be. I love the fact that I can read the records of a situation David went through in one of the history books and then read his own personal reactions in the Psalms. While Saul’s burned up in bitter jealousy over David’s strengths, David turns to God, not his own personal strengths, as a source of refuge in a time of trouble.

 

Dear God, please help me turn to You in my times of distress for hope and deliverance. Please give me the strength to act with humility towards Your commandments and to obey Your Word. Thank you for the Psalms. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

 

Nathanael (nborger2017)

 

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1 Samuel 12-13; 1 Chronicles 1-3; 1 Corinthians 1

16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. ~I Samuel 12:16 ESV

Not in our power, but in God’s. Not by our wisdom, but by God’s. Not us. Only Him.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king. ~I Samuel 12:23-25 ESV

Reading the closing comments of many great leaders throughout the Old Testament and you find this common theme — Follow God only, and if you don’t you’ll by judged (with an often heavy emphasis on the judgment part).

Moses says it, here Samuel says it, and before God goes “silent” for 400 years Malachi pounds the message home again. Israel barely listens. Do we?

It’s not for lack of passion on the part of the leader. Moses gave the warning and taught them a song with the warning before he died, not stepping foot into the promised land. Samuel realizes the burden of the message and realizes it would be a sin not to pray for their success in following God. I’m not the priest for a nation, but I still bear this burden to pray for those that God has entrusted to me and requests He brings to my attention.

And, just minutes later, they prove the need for such prayer and reproof.

11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” ~I Samuel 13:11-12

In a pinch, we start looking around us. Looking at the trials, the enemies, the waves, the opposition. I resonate with the quote, “Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is.” When our view shifts from the awesome, faithful, sovereign, just, loving, and good God of the universe to the more visible, but far more insignificant problems of our daily life, we cloud our thinking.

Saul made the same mistake Uzzah did. Forgetting the clear commands of God and thinking God needs help or hurrying along. I admit it is terribly tempting at times, but both these decisions brought disastrous results — Uzzah’s death and Saul’s loss of the kingdom. This moment secured David’s role in the promised Messiah’s lineage.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ~I Corinthians 1:9

The New Testament renews this command with some beautiful promises — Jesus is our faithful mentor and advisor.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ~I Corinthians 1:18

Even when God’s way seems foolish, it is the right way. It is the best way. The world will look down on us for the inconvenient choices that we make, but it is the only way.

24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ~I Corinthians 1:24-25 ESV

I can’t walk in my strength, it is nearly nothing. I must press on in my weakness, and that little portion of God’s strength that sustains me is far greater than the greatest, wisest, strongest man.

Erin (6intow)

 

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1 Samuel 9-11 & Galatians 6

Galatians 6:9&10, 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)

There is much we can gain from reading today’s sections. Saul was a man who is in juxtaposition to what Paul writes to the believers in Galatia. Saul was not the kind of man that did good to all men and he did not reap a harvest  of good in the end. And it may be counter intuitive (like much of biblical wisdom is) to think of doing good to all people. All people! To those of different ethnic backgrounds? Those that are in the country illegally? People who have a different religious point of view? I believe they fall in the “all” category. What about your alcoholic next door neighbor? On a lighter note (and so much perhaps) in other parts of the world a different team’s soccer fan? Yes all these, we are to reap a harvest of righteousness when we stand before God at the judgment seat of Christ.

And one of the ways that the world will know that we are all about love is if you love those in the household of faith first and foremost. Are our places of worship full of love? Are our small groups full of love? Are our homes full of love? Perhaps the ones closest to us are the ones hardest to love.

Whose the hardest for your to love? Make a plan to love one of those individuals today. Let me know how it goes.

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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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Ruth 3-4; Galatians 2; Psalm 64, 65

“Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer.”

Ruth 4:14b, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

In all honesty, there is much about the book of Ruth that I don’t understand. I don’t understand the cultural significance of uncovering Boaz’ feet…or extending a shoe as a sign of an agreement. What I do understand, however, is the provision of a God for Ruth and Naomi. In order for it to be received, Ruth needed a spirit of humility and grace.

  • Following Naomi to a foreign land.
  • Doing the hard work in the fields to provide for herself and Naomi.
  • Humbling herself by going to Boaz in an intimate way.
  • Waiting patiently for Boaz to do the right thing.

Do I have humility? Do I live a gracious and patient life?

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:21, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Why is it so hard to accept and receive the grace of God? Paul preached the same Gospel as the other disciples and even he worried about how he would be received among the religious elite. Would they understand him and his call? Would they accept him? He knew he had been given a specific task by God, but was that enough? Yes! It was! And the grace of God was sufficient for him to continue. Is it enough for me?

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
   you call forth songs of joy.”

Psalm 65; 8

Dear God, May our hearts be open and sensitive to you. May our humility, grace and patience come from you and provide a willing vessel for your work. And God as we seek to follow you and love you, may your grace be sufficient. Amen

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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Ruth 1-2; Galatians 1; Psalms 53, 61

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 ESV

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, both Ruth’s and her sister-in-law’s husband has died. Their mother-in-law Naomi begs them to return to their own people. Ruth, who is a Moabite, refuses and decides to go to Naomi’s people. This act of loyalty towards Naomi is clearly favored by the LORD, as Ruth is an ancestor of Christ Himself.

And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he (Boaz) be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Ruth 20a ESV

God’s blessings on Ruth are not all for the future, however. He sends Boaz, whom she will later marry, to ensure that she and her mother-in-law have enough food to eat. While their life may still be hard, Ruth and Naomi are still in God’s hands, and He is clearly looking out for them.

Paul, an apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-and all the brothers who are with me. Galatians 1:1-2a ESV

Like Ruth, Paul also experienced divine intervention in his life, albeit in a much more dramatic manner. In the opening of his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes it clear that God, not man, was responsible for the abrupt change of heart and his passion for Christ. After God completely changes Paul heart, he becomes one of the most vocal apostles, writing many of the New Testament letters.

Though both Ruth and Paul may have come from non-typical backgrounds (Ruth was a foreigner among God’s chosen people and Paul was a former persecutor of the church among the other apostles) God used them both to demonstrate His love and compassion for everyone, no matter where they were born, who they were born too, and what they previously did. Ruth and Paul show how far God’s love can reach and how welcoming He is to those outside of His family. He beckons everyone to come to Jesus for salvation and to take a seat at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Dear God, Thank You for sending Jesus to save us. Thank You for reaching out to outsiders and rebels and offering them the same salvation you offer everyone else. Thank You for forgiving our sins when we call to Christ for forgiveness. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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