Tag Archives: rejection

1 Samuel 5:1-9:10

The words seem to hold a physical weight. The ark of God is held by the Philistines.

The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. (1 Samuel 5:6, NIV)

and

But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. (1 Samuel 5:9, NIV)

The Philistines send the ark of God away, back to the Israelites.

Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. (1 Samuel 7:2b-4, NIV)

They gather at Mizpah to fast and confess. Samuel is there to intercede for them. And this is the moment an enemy attacks–when the Israelites commit themselves and show devotion to the Lord.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:10-12, NIV)

Samuel serves as a leader to the Israelites, and when he is old, he appoints his sons to take his place. This is a familiar theme in the Bible: Good leaders who follow the Lord, followed by leaders who don’t.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9, NIV, emphasis mine)

I sit and think about these verses. I do not want the Lord’s hand against me. An enemy wants me as far from the Lord as possible and will send chaos and conflict my way to distract me from worshiping and keeping a focus.

The search for a lost donkey will lead Saul to Samuel. Saul will be appointed king in a future reading. But it’s in this moment that I see the start of a bigger journey, and Saul–just Saul. Saul before it all. His is one of the saddest stories to me. He makes good choices and bad choices. He struggles with uncertainty, insecurity, pride, jealousy, and anger. But that isn’t what makes his story sad–it’s that he could have done life with God, and he didn’t.

Just verses earlier, a group returns to God. And in the passing of time, they convince themselves there is a better way. God sees it as a rejection of him. It can be done by a people (all individuals acting in a group) and by an individual (Saul, who is to be appointed by God for a task–a very big one).

Father God, let me view each moment as an appointment by you. Let me journey each day with you. When I draw close to you, let me not be distracted by an enemy’s ploys, but help me always keep a kingdom focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan, Cover to cover, Old Testament

2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; 1 Corinthians 7

When I think of worship, I think of song. But worship is more than that, isn’t it? Judah, Israel, the surrounding nations, all of them were guilty of turning from the Lord and worshiping something else. They installed their idols in shrines and altars. They offered sacrifices to idols. So worshiping is more than just singing to something–it’s giving it a place of honor; consulting and trusting in it for needs, favor, salvation; placing all hope in it; giving offerings/making sacrifices to it; revering it; talking about it. In all, worship is giving something/someone a place of honor, and power, over us.

22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23, NLT)

King Ahaz rejected the Lord, even in his times of trouble. He gave honor and power to something else, which led to his ruin. And it led to the ruin of his nation.

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings. (2 Kings 17:7-12, NLT)

The Israelites put in great effort and attention to worship other gods and idols. They were intentional. When I read this passage from 2 Kings 17, they were busy and active pursuing practices of other nations, as well as funding and building things to revere in place of the Lord.

The Lord sends a message through prophets and seers–he persists to turn them from their sin. Like a parent warning a child of imminent danger: “Don’t do that!” The warnings go ignored.

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. (2 Kings 17:14-17, NLT)

It’s easy for me to point to the leaders of these nations for setting a dangerous course. Leaders do carry responsibility. And leaders are accountable for their actions.

But so am I.

Lord, help make it clear to me who I follow, where I put my trust and hope, what or who I’ve given power to. And if it’s not you, help me to see my error and correct my way. I cannot imagine a better life or truer calling apart from you. Thank you for your persistent love.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 2; Luke 5; Job 19; 1 Corinthians 6

Outcasts, aliens and misfits. Moses straddles two worlds. He is the adopted Hebrew son of an Egyptian queen and then a criminal on the run. He has carried the pain of the alienation on his journey; it is heard when he names his firstborn Gershom, for “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.” Exodus 2:22

Job is drowning in sorrow, forsaken by God and man:

“He has stripped my glory from me and taken the crown from my head…He has put my family far from me, and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me. My relatives and close friends failed me; the guests in my home have forgotten me.” Job 19:9…13

He clings to the surety of God’s love; this prevents him from being overcome by punishing waves of sorrow, loneliness and pain:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” Luke 19:25-27

Jesus reaches out to those who are despised and rejected. You can hear the derision in the words of the Pharisees and scribes:

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Luke 5:30

It’s for the rejected and needy that Jesus stands up:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

At one time or another, we are all the middle schooler sitting alone in the crowded lunchroom, the refugee, the homeless, the forgotten. Christ opens his arms and invites himself into our lives and our homes. He was despised and rejected so that I would not know separation from God.

Paul invites me to abandon the crowd mentality and the futile living that threatens to wall me off from joy of knowing Christ. He tells me that I am a temple of the living God. As God said,

“I will live in them and walk among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separated from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean: then I will welcome you, and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 

 

Lord of all creation, thank you that you humble yourself and pursue me. Jesus, thank you for taking the rejection, pain and sorrow that belonged to me so I would not be separated from you. Show me the parts of my life that I hold back so that I might repent and surrender all that I am to you. For you are my Father and  I am your daughter. Show me  what it means to live for you you today. Amen.

Klueh

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Filed under 66 Books, Genesis, Job, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

2 Kings 20-22; John 6:45 – 71

I’ve been feeling rejected lately, at work, at home, at the grocery store.  I don’t imagine that all the situations that lead me to believe that I am no longer wanted or fun to be around are based on my witness for Christ or because I have some halo above my crown blinding the antagonists in my life.  It is more likely that my words thud heavily on tender toes or my persistent dysphoria surrounds me like Pigpen’s little dirt cloud swirling up and outward when he moves. If my fleshly verbiage lands like gravel on the faces of my friends and family, what must it feel like to be struck by the sword of the Spirit of God?

This is the first time I have experienced shock at reading John 6:45-71.  The words of Jesus to His multitude of disciples in the peak of His ministry is a chilling truth to the “untaught.”  I stepped into the shoes of an unbeliever and read those words, listened as if in the crowd.

“You must eat my flesh and drink my blood,” Jesus emphasizes, once, twice, three times and once again.  I was immersed in images of all the zombie and vampire movies my teenage granddaughter dragged me to see through mostly closed eyes covered by hands allowing only slices of teeth and gore and body parts to slip through. Jaw dropping, mind numbing.

What kind of damage control was this?  Knowing that many of these followers were not true believers, Jesus could have used some motivational speech or promises of streets of gold to woo them back.  Instead He speaks with morbid, stomach wrenching, hemaphobic producing visions to illustrate the hardcore commitment of faith it will take to truly be His disciple. What else could He expect but rejection? Backing away in horror believing this Man was a demon or afflicted with some kind of mental illness, the crowd thinned.  Jesus turned to His twelve chosen, and perhaps piercing eyes meeting every frightened glance, asked “And do you also want to go away?”

So why do His disciples stay?  Peter says, (and I envision him nearly in tears) “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

When rejected, I tend to run toward or after the one who is leaving.  Rarely has this worked.  I have seen that accepting the distance salvages at least a connecting thread of grace.  In this space I pray and reflect on what has happened.  Only then do I hear the Holy Spirit point out my faults and weaknesses, only then do I change. And only then can I begin to gently tug on that thread.

I would not have the Presence of the Holy Spirit to convict, correct, and guide me into the restoration of relationships, if not for Peter’s truthful testimony and my like confession, “To whom shall I go? I have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Does Christ understand our deep hurts and feelings of rejection? Can rejection draw us closer to His words of eternal life?  No doubt about it. Beyond the darkness of ugly, blood-thirsty pain waits the brilliance of faith for supernatural cleansing and healing, and  the burning beauty of the Son that turns rejection into ash.

Janet

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Exodus 9-13; Matthew 18:1-20

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 10:1-2

In the Exodus story, Moses repeatedly shares that God purposely hardened the heart of Pharaoh and his servants. Pharaoh would not listen to the decree of God to ‘Let My people go’. God didn’t want the liberation of the Israelites to become an event that was quickly forgotten. He wanted to demonstrate His glory and His power in a memorable way so that all would ‘know that I am Lord’. God dealt with the Egyptians harshly and without mercy; forgiveness did not enter into the picture.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17

In Matthew, Jesus describes how to maneuver in situations of offense and sin. If I go to the offender and he listens, than I have gained a brother. But if his heart is hardened, Jesus said to let the wrongdoer be to me as a gentile and a tax collector.

What does that really mean in the context of New Covenant?

I have observed that a very common Christian assessment of that verse is that when someone doesn’t listen to the church, that they should be excommunicated, cut off and shunned by that group.

I’ve been in the situation where I was treated this way by a community that I had grown very close to. The situation was complicated, and though I know that my heart was right before God, I was still cast aside. I felt rejected by trusted friends, abandoned by people I had shown my vulnerabilities. Being discarded hurt then, and the wounds it left still hurt now at times; it began my search to better understand what Jesus intended.

…If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. Matthew 18:17 (MSG)

I love the way The Message describes the way I should treat someone who isn’t ready to own up to their failings. The version doesn’t say reject, cast-off, snub. It says to start over, to confront and offer God’s forgiving love. The Bible exhorts me to forgive, nearly 500 times if necessary, and in the same way I would hope to be forgiven. God’s Word encourages me to love my enemies, to bless and pray for my persecutors. His Word reminds me of the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for me while I was still a sinner and His constant mercy when I inevitably make mistakes as a believer.

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)

Though many versions omit this verse, it still holds true that Christ’s goal is to save the lost. He yearns for redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. He wants to rebuild honor, reestablish relationship, and reinstate original positioning, with Him and with others. He does that daily by offering His body and His blood. He seeks out the lost, whether they have never seen the Good Shepherd or have simply strayed away from the flock and offers forgiveness, ushering them into the fold.

While walking the earth, Jesus treated gentiles (unclean, polytheistic ‘heathens’), tax collectors, prostitutes and every other kind of sinner with mercy and grace. Though He didn’t condone their behaviors, He spent time with them. He demonstrated love and acceptance; and that witness was what opened eyes to sin and lead to change of heart, to repentance.

I can only believe that God asks me to do the same – to offer love, compassion, mercy, and forbearance – as He extends to me.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your forgiveness, Your grace, and Your mercy. Thank You for seeking me out when I am lost. Thank You for accepting me no matter what. Keep my heart soft, repentant before You at all times. Help me be a pipeline for Your love forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (written in Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Exodus, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament