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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1 Samuel 28-29; 1 Chronicles 9; Acts 19

“When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” 1 Samuel 28:4-7 NIV

Saul let fear grip him so much that he turned to something he had previously banned. How many times have I tried to come up with my own plan when it seems like the Lord is silent?Will I be like Saul and not trust that the Lord knows what he is doing? Or will I cry out to him and  hope when it seems like there is none?

“All those chosen gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the Seer had appointed them to their trusted office. So they and their children were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, the house of the tabernacle, by assignment. The gatekeepers were assigned to the four directions: the east, west, north and south. And they lodged all around the house of God because they had the responsibility, and they were in charge of opening it every morning.” 1 Chronicles 9:22-27 NIV

Just as the gatekeepers guarded the house of God, what am I letting into my mind and spirit? I recently read a You-Version devotional called, “My Spirit, My Responsibility” by Brian Houston. He says, “Do you realize your spirit is your responsibility?”  Am I letting the Holy Spirit guard my mind?

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ehpesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not as much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:1-6 NIV

Dear Lord, forgive me when I turn to things other than you.  Help me to be “compelled by the spirit” (Acts 19:21), like Paul was.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit to convict and guide me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 26-27; 1 Chronicles 8; Acts 18

Am I the only one who stood in awe with David and Abishai in the circle of Saul’s army? Saul and Abner asleep at the feet, surrounded by soldiers in a protective circle, and David, Abishai (and us!) with an bull’s eye view.

I find it hard to think I could live so boldly. David, who first cuts the hem of Saul’s robe (just last week’s reading), now removes the spear near him and takes Saul’s jug of water.

12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep. (1 Samuel 26:12, NLT)

David had a history of listening for the Lord and a repeated reliance on His protection and provision. From field to front line, his faith and trust in the Lord grew.

Paul met his share of opposition.

Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:4-6, NLT)

Insults and opposition would only be the start of his mission in ministry, but he is obedient.

Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” 11 So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. (Acts 18:8b-11, NLT)

David used his strength and battle knowledge in his obedience to the Lord–he was a front line witness of God’s faithfulness to the men who served alongside him (and even to a watching enemy army!); Paul used his education and words to serve wherever he was (land, sea, imprisoned or free).

Lord, thank you for these examples of obedience, reverence and another’s eager listening for your voice. Help me to steward the gifts you’ve given me to serve you. Help me to always seek you first for direction, guidance and wisdom. Thank you for the opportunities you’ve used to strengthen my faith and show your faithfulness.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 25; 1 Chronicles 7; Acts 17

And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand!” 1 Samuel 25:32-33 ESV

1 Samuel 25 contains the meeting of David and Abigail. Nabal, Abigail’s husband, treated David’s men with contempt despite the fact that David’s men were noble and did no harm to anything of his. Nabal’s refusal to help David’s men and his mocking of David himself, made David decide to arm his men and take matters into his own hands. However, Abigail overheard what was happening and brought food to them, begging David to forgive her husband. David admires Abigail’s discretion and spares her household’s lives. Discretion was one of Abigail’s key character qualities, and a quality we see in the Jewish synagogue at Berea.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. Acts 17:11-12

The Berean Jews studied the Scriptures to test what Paul and Silas were preaching, in order to verify if the Scriptures matched up with their message. Their discretion and studying of the Scriptures led them to realize that Paul and Silas were in fact preaching the truth, and many of them believed. Paul and Silas later went on to Athens, a very religious city.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What there you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” Acts 16, 22-23 ESV

Paul noticed the people of Athens, despite having a plethora of gods, were worried that they would offend one they didn’t know about and therefore put up a statue just in case. Paul saw this statue and decided to use it to help him preach the Gospel to the Athenians.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples built by human hands, as though he need anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. Acts 17:24-25, 29 ESV

Paul tells the Athenians that God made the heavens and earth and idols of gold and silver do not match up to his divine being. After giving his speech and proclaiming Jesus, some mocked him; however, others listen to his words. Paul went to the people who were listening and spoke to them, leading some to believe his words and the Gospel.

Dear God, please give me discretion to determine the truth and give me strength to follow your will. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

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1 Samuel 23-24; 1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 54; Acts 16

Another’s betrayal.

11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him? And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”

And the Lord said, “He will come.”

12 Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?”

And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.” 1 Samuel 23:11-12, NLT

A king’s twisted thoughts and unbelief.

21 “The Lord bless you,” Saul said. “At last someone is concerned about me!” 1 Samuel 23:21, NLT

David’s integrity.

Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’ 11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.

12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 13 As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. 14 Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing one who is as worthless as a dead dog or a single flea? 15 May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!” 1 Samuel 24:9-15, NLT

David didn’t kill Saul when the opportunity presented itself. He respected the Lord in his appointment of Saul, and he knew the Lord is just and would have the final say between them.

Paul and Silas were singing praises when the prison doors opened, but they didn’t run off when the opportunity presented itself. They stayed, and because they did, they were able to comfort and witness to the guard and others. They knew of a greater purpose than the one at hand.

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. (Acts 16:25-32, NLT)

These scriptures speak of integrity, faith and purpose. It wasn’t that long ago David stood in front of a giant, and now he stands before a king and his army. He is able to keep God his focus. I don’t have to fight the way the world fights–and I don’t want to. I want a life of integrity, faith and purpose.

God is just. Do I trust him with the outcome? Do I believe he will do what’s right?

Lord, when an enemy lashes out, hunts and harms me, help me to do what’s right because of my trust in you. When troubles come, help me to know peace in your sovereignty. I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 21-22; 1 Chronicles 5; Psalms 52; Acts 15

Psalms 52 contracts the wicked with the righteous.  First the wicked:

“Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, o worker of deceit. 

          You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right.”

         (Psalms 52:2-3 ESV)

Then the righteous:

“But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;

          I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.  I will

          give thanks forever because You have done it.  I will wait on

          Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”

          (Psalms 52:8-9 ESV)

1 Samuel 21 gives us the historical background of Psalms 52.  David is on the run from a very angry and wicked Saul.  In the verse 9, we see righteous David claim Goliath’s sword.

“Then the priest said, ’The sword of Goliath the Philistine,

          whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is wrapped

          in a cloth behind the Ephod; if you would take it for

          yourself, take it.  For there is no other except it here.’ And

          David said ‘There is none like it.  Give it to me.’”

          (1 Samuel 21:9 ESV)

 Then in Acts we have the Jerusalem Council meeting to discuss two questions: ‘do saved Gentiles need to be circumcised and ‘can Jews and Gentiles eat and socialize together?  Peter answers.

“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to

          them, ‘Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a

          choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear

          the word of the gospel and believe.  And God, who knows the

          heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He

          also did to us; And He made no distinction between us and

          them, cleansing their hearts by faith.  Now therefore why do

          you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the

          disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have

          been able to bear?  But we believe that we are saved through

          grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

          (Acts 15:7-11 ESV)

James delivers the verdict.

“Therefore, it is my judgement that we do not trouble those

          who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that

          we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated

          by idols and from what is strangled and from blood.  For

          Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who

          preach Him, since He is read in the synagogues every

          Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21 ESV)

Lord, help us to always notice the differences between what You would call wicked and what you would call righteous.  Help us to not be legalistic like the Pharisees, instead remembering that we are all Your people, despite our backgrounds.

Kellie

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 20; 1 Chronicles 4; Psalm 56, 57, 142; Acts 14

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez[d] because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (1 Chron 4:9-10 NLT)

Tucked away in the middle of a chronicle of names of the lineage of Judah is a little paragraph that has come to be known as the “Prayer of Jabez.” Jabez had a lot to overcome in his life. Jabez means “pain” in Hebrew and it makes me wonder why a mother would name her child that way. Imagine growing up and every time anyone called your name they reminded you of this fact. Talk about growing up in shame! Notice that this story does not dwell on that, though. His prayer to God is more of a focus than the pain.

There is a quote by Brene Brown that really spoke to me of this process: “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Jabez could not help what his mother named him. I can imagine the other boys taunting him, calling him names. Maybe there were times he caught his mother looking at him in a certain way and feeling her remembering what she went through bringing him into this world. I can relate to this story because it could be the story of my life as well. So many of us have had hurtful things done to us that caused us to make bad choices. Shame is an insidious emotion. It hides and masks itself as so many other things. I can look back at my life and see that the root of so much brokenness comes from shame experienced at an early age.

What I love about these few verses is that Jabez was determined not to let his name define his life. He asked God to bless him and give him a larger arena to spread the goodness of the God he loved. He asked God to be with him, to guide him away from hurting himself and others. I believe he didn’t want to cause anyone else the pain he suffered! His focus was on God. “And God granted him his request.” Because of that, people don’t remember his pain–they remember his God!

God loves me so much! There are times I do not remember that. Instead of focusing on all the good He has done in my life, I can get caught up remembering all the pain from a long time ago. In all honesty, though, that pain is how He enlarged my territory. His love, faithfulness, patience, and teaching have given me a testimony to share with others. I have amazing stories of God working in my life, revealing His truth to me, and putting together the broken pieces of my life to reflect His beauty. The trouble and pain I suffered caused me to seek Him. I would not have the relationship I have with Him today if it were not for all that happened in my past. Like Jabez, I too have prayed a payer to the Lord. My prayer was to heal my brokenness, break the strongholds in my life, and use me to speak hope and God’s healing power into other people’s lives. “And God granted (her) request.”

9 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
    I will sing your praises among the nations.
10 For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
    Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 57:9-10 NLT)

Father, I pray that people will look at me and see my God, my Father who calls me “dearly loved.” You have loved me back from the depths of despair. At times, your saving grace will overwhelm me and I can do nothing but cry tears of gratitude and joy. I, too, will sing your praises for all to hear. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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