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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1 Samuel 18-19; 1 Chronicles 3; Psalm 59; Acts 13

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. d(Acts 13:1-3 [ESV])

Again this morning we have a passage of the Bible that notes the change of human history. This time it’s the sending off of the first missionaries Saul (later to be named Paul) & Barnabas. The church in Antioch was the first sending church on purpose. Obviously earlier we see the church in Jerusalem sending out many, but that was because of persecution that happened. This was the first time missionaries were sent out on purpose. And it was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He set Saul and Barnabas aside for this important history changing work.

Where are you involved in this important work of the Church and consequently the Holy Spirit? Can you point to one place outside of your immediate context where you are being used by the Holy Spirit to reach people with the Gospel?

There are presently 3,200 people groups in the world where there is no Gospel witness. Some of these groups number in the thousands and some in the millions. They have never heard the name of Jesus and there is no church they could go to and hear about Jesus. In my city alone there must be a dozen.

Begin today searching where you can join others in reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

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1 Samuel 17; 1 Chronicles 2; Acts 12

And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 1 Samuel 17: 4, 10-11 ESV

Saul and the Israelites drew a battle line against the Philistines at the Valley of Elah. However, they were not expecting the Philistines champion, Goliath. Goliath was 6 to 9 feet high and his armor weighted roughly 121 pounds. Saul and his men were terrified of Goliath, running away when they heard him challenge them. The Israelites refused to face Goliath’s challenges for 40 days, until David visited the camp.

As he [David] was taking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17: 23-24,26

David is sent by his father to visit three of his older brothers were in the army. David was the youngest of his household and a shepherd of his father’s sheep. However, God had bigger plans for David. David was shocked when he heard Goliath mocking the Israelites. He was also surprised that none of the other Israelites had faced Goliath and let him freely defy Israel and God. So David decided to take things into his own hands.

Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and stuck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. 1 Samuel 17: 40, 43, 45, 49, and 51 ESV

David was the only Israelite brave enough to face Goliath. He knew God was on his side and would protect him, just like God had protected him against wild animals that had attacked his flock of sheep. And, just like David said He would, God gave His protection.  David brought Goliath, a massive champion, down with just a sling and a stone. God had a plan for David’s life, and worked things together for his good, even before he was born.

Nahshon father Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse. Jesse fathered Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, David the seventh. 1 Chronicles 11-15 ESV

David’s great grandfather was Boaz, who married Ruth. Ruth’s story is an amazing example of God’s care and protection. Through Ruth, David and eventually, Jesus would come to further God’s plan for earth. God would later work all things together for Peter.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. Acts 12:6-7 ESV

Peter was imprisoned by Herod to appease the Jewish leaders, who hated him for preaching the gospel. Herod had already killed James the brother of John and Peter may have wondered if he would be next, but God had a different plan. An angel freed Peter from his chains and led him out of the city. Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, before heading to another place.

But the word of God increased and multiplied. Acts 12: 24

Dear God, please guide me through my life. Please protect me like You protected David and Peter and give me courage in the face of adversity. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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