Battling Discouragement

Battling Discouragement

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2; Proverbs 23Psalms 111 – 115

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0423 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4)

In our reading passage today we get to see one of the greatest recorded victories in the Bible of good over evil. Elijah, a mighty prophet of God who prophesied in Israel during a time of great apostasy, challenges the prophets of Baal (850 of the altogether) to come to Mt. Carmel in prove the power of their god. After many hours of crying out Baal, and even cutting themselves to please him, Baal never shows up. The God of Israel, however, does make an appearance, and at the request of Elijah sends down fire from Heaven and consumes the sacrifice that Elijah had prepared. He also sent along some desperately needed rain, which hadn’t happened in a couple of years. The people of Israel very wisely choose the Lord’s side, crying out, “the LORD, He is the God”,  and then they put to death all of the false prophets. All in all, it was a great day to be on the Lord’s side.

Something very strange happens immediately after this great victory, however. Queen Jezebel finds out about what happened to her prophets, and demands the death of Elijah. Elijah then runs for his life away from her. Why would he run? He just saw God do the impossible. The people just slaughtered all of the false prophets, and I am quite sure they would have killed Ahab and Jezebel had Elijah asked them to. Instead, Elijah runs, and then asks God to take his life.  It just doesn’t make sense.

If you carefully examine the story, however, you begin to see some of the underlying reasons for Elijah’s despair. First of all, let me state from personal experience that discouragement can ironically come sometimes after a great victory. I am not sure why that is, it just is. There is almost a feeling of emptiness after the battle to achieve something is finally concluded. I’m told Alexander the Great was distraught to the point of suicide after he conquered all the known world because there were no more cities to conquer. Elijah sure had more work to do; he could have conquered Jezebel, but maybe he was just tired of fighting the battles. I know of a preacher right now who has resigned his church, and is going into retirement. He has been fighting battles for over two decades in a very difficult place of ministry, and he is simply just tired. Elijah seems to have been just tired of fighting. The battles just keep coming, and his strength was depleted.

What can we do when battling discouragement:

1  Get Help – Elijah thought he was all alone, but God reminded him that there were 7000 men out there, and I am sure some women, too, that were on his team. They could have, and would have, helped him. Get help fighting the battle, and get somebody to help you with your discouragement. I am blessed to have many people in my life, seasoned men, that I can turn to for advice.

2  Get Rest – Elijah had run for days without rest, and without food; his physical strength was completely depleted. He needed a good, long rest; and some nourishment. That is exactly what the angel did for him:

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.” (1 Kings 19:5-6)

3  Get Up – Don’t quit. Elijah should have asked the Lord for help and strength, but instead he asks the Lord to kill him. Quitting is never the answer. We may need to take some time out to replenish, but we should never leave the battle completely.

There will come a time in my life when God will be through with me, and at that time He will take me home to Heaven. Until that time comes, however, I need to stay encouraged, and stay in the battle. If God still wants me to fight, then He will give me everything that I need to keep fighting, including strength and encouragement.

By the way, if you are saved and your are not in the battle with the Lord, you will also be very discouraged, because God has not equipped you to sit on the sidelines. Find something to do for the Lord, and you will be greatly encouraged as you fulfill God’s purpose for your life.


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There – The Place of God’s Will

rock-water

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 15 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0422 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” (1 Kings 17:2-4)

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” (1 Kings 17:8-9)

There are many wonderful truths in today’s Bible reading, but I want to draw your attention to the word “there” found in vs. 4 and 9 above from chapter 17 of 1 Kings. “There” represented a place – a geographic location where God wanted Elijah to go. Actually, “there” was two places. The first place God wanted Elijah to go was to the Brook Cherith. In this place God was going to sustain the prophet through meals provided by ravens. Cherith was a specific location. Had Elijah decided that he was going to go to some other geographic location, I do not think that God would have fed him. God’s will involves more than a place, but it does include a place.

Next, God commanded Elijah to travel to Zarephath, which is outside of the borders of Israel. It is important to point out that Elijah did not leave the Brook Cherith because the brook dried up, he left because God commanded him to. Anyway, in Zarephath a widow woman was prepared by God to take care of the needs of Elijah. There is a lot that could be said about how God provided for the widow woman and her son as well, but the point being made here is that God guided Elijah to a specific place where he would be taken care of, and used for God’s purposes.

Fifteen years ago, God directed my family to the place of His will – Galloway, New Jersey. I must confess that there have been times around here when I wanted to move on, times when the brook seemed to dry up, but I have never been told by God to move to another place. As much as I may desire at times to move to a place like Hawaii, that is simply not God’s will for my life. Galloway, NJ is my “there”. It is the place where God wants me; it is the place where God will provide for me and mine; and it is the place where God will use me.

Have you found the place of God’s will for your life? If you have, make the most of your time spent there. God may move you on to some other “there” someday, and if He does, He will make it crystal clear to you; but until that time comes, dig in, serve Him to the fullest, and enjoy your stay.


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Trust

old-bible-wide

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Proverbs 21Psalms 101 – 105

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0421 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

My attention this morning is drawn to chapter thirteen and the account of the prophet that was sent from the southern kingdom of Judah with a message for Jeroboam, the king of the northern kingdom, Israel. He was sent with a message of judgment to Jeroboam:

“And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.” (1 Kings 13:2 & 3)

At the end of this unpleasant meeting with Jeroboam, this un-named prophet is asked to go back with Jeroboam to get something to eat and to receive a reward. The prophet flatly refuses to go with Jeroboam because he was given strict instructions by God not to eat in Israel. On the way home, however, another man claiming to be a prophet asks him to go with him and get something to eat. This man lies to him and tells him that God told him that it was OK. As a result, the prophet from Judah goes with him, but soon discovers that he was tricked into disobeying the clear commandment of God, and it cost him his life.

Christian, you and I need to be careful who we listen to. Sometimes people pretending to represent God will come to us and try to get us to do things that are clearly against the plain teaching of the Word of God. We are to trust the Bible, and we can trust the men and women that preach and teach the Bible correctly; but the Bible itself is always the final authority. Be careful who you trust.

By the way, we also saw in chapter twelve that Reheboam listened to the counsel of the young men, rather than the counsel of the old men. The result was that the kingdom of Israel was split into two kingdoms. Again, we see here that you have to be very careful about who you listen to. I am not saying that it is always unwise to listen to young men, but we should always include in our cabinet of counselors some older men (and ladies) who have demonstrated that they have godly wisdom.


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What Happened?

What Happened

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12; Proverbs 20Psalms 96 – 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0420 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” – (1 Kings 11:4 )

Pastor Charlie Horton, a good friend of mine who is now with the Lord, once told me that there are three things that will take a preacher down: ladies, lucre, and liberalism; or maids, money, and modernism; or dames, dollars, and doctrine. That statement has proven to be true. In the twenty-five years plus that I have been a Christian, I have seen many men of God wander out of the will of God; and in all of these cases it was one of those three things that caused them to veer off of the path. In our text, we see that Solomon’s problem primarily was the ladies. He had 1000 wives and concubines. Wow! How can it be that this man is known for his wisdom? Can you imagine having 1000 mother-in-laws? It would not have been so bad if all of these women shared the same love for the Lord that Solomon had; but, unfortunately, many of these women were heathen women that worshipped other “gods”. In order to please these women, Solomon accommodated for their false worship within the borders of Israel, and Solomon, himself, began to participate in the idolatry. Not very wise.

I do not think that women were the only attraction that lured Solomon out of the will of God. He was also very wealthy: wealthier than any man that ever lived. Jesus spoke about the difficulties that wealth imposes upon a right relationship with God. Wealth can certainly be a stumbling block also. The text also makes it clear that Solomon was also lured into doctrinal heresy. So, ultimately, Solomon fell prey to all three of the traps mentioned above. The tragedy is that Solomon was a very wise man, and should have seen the dangers ahead of time. I think he deliberately wandered off of the path. He chose to go astray with his eyes fully opened.

Passages of Scripture such as this scare me. Solomon was a much wiser man than I could ever be, yet he blew it. I have seen many others fall in my time that had a lot more on the ball than I do. It scares me, because I know that it could happen to me also. I hope it scares me enough to stay as far away from these traps (and others) so that I will finish my course inside the perfect will of God.

By the way, Solomon’s unwise decisions brought about unpleasant consequences:

“Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.” – (1 Kings 11:11)


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When God Moves In

revival

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 8 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10Proverbs 19Psalms 91 – 95

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0419 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.” – (1 Kings 8:10-11)

As we study Israel’s history, we know that there were many times that they were not where God wanted them to be, spiritually speaking. Often in their history Israel would forsake their God, and err into immorality, and idolatry. These were times when God would be forced to bring judgment upon His people in order to get them to turn back to Him. However, in today’s passage, we see Israel as right with the Lord as they had ever been. They had just completed building the Temple of God, and today was the day that the entire nation was gathered together in order to dedicate the temple (and themselves) to the Lord. God was well pleased with Israel at this time, and He demonstrated His approval with a physical appearance of his presence. Verse 11 tells us that “the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord”.

I have been saved for over twenty-five years now, and I have been involved in the local church since I was born again into the family of God; and I have experienced the wonderful blessing of seeing God’s presence in the midst of His church. I did not see a physical manifestation of His presence, as these Israelites did, but I did experience the glory of God, nonetheless. Unfortunately, I have also seen the times when God’s presence was apparently absent from our church. Hindsight often provides a better perspective for analyzing the ingredients that went into the times when God seemed to be all over His church. When I look back at the times in our ministry when God was really working in a marvelous way among us, with many being saved and baptized, and wonderful Spirit-filled services, I can see that there were specific ingredients that were present. These same ingredients were present in our text today.

1  There was unity – God wants His children to be “in one accord”. A quick study of the early church from the Book of Acts will reveal that they were all together; they were all moving in the same direction.

2  There was humility – Notice in Solomon’s prayer that He recognizes that the people were prone to get away from God. He admits completely that these people were in God’s hands, and that it was God that blessed them. Notice:

“If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; … Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:” – (1 Kings 8:46, 49-50)

3  There was complete tenacity and loyalty toward God. These people were all consecrated to the Lord. They were not doing that which was right in their own eyes, they were pursuing God. They were not chasing after the world with all of its idols, and all of its immorality. They were not only separated from the world, but they were also separated unto the Lord. These people wanted to please the Lord. They were focused on God. They gave up two weeks of their lives to serve and sacrifice to the Lord.

We can see God’s glory in our churches again today if we have these three ingredients in place. I want to see God move in our church. I want to see Him do great thing in the midst of this world that denies Him. He’s just waiting for us to get on board.


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Use Your Gifts for the Lord

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Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Proverbs 18Psalms 86 – 90)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0418 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.” – (1 Kings 7:13-14)

Not every Christian is gifted by God to be a teacher or a preacher. In this passage, we see Hiram, a man from Tyre, who was uniquely gifted by God to make all of the works of brass that were to be used in the Temple. Back in the Book of Exodus, we saw two other fellows. Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were also uniquely filled with wisdom (gifted) to build the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. As far as we know, these men never taught the Scriptures; they were not priests, or prophets; but they were greatly used of the Lord.

We have many people in our churches today who have also been uniquely crafted by the Lord to fulfill His purpose. They may be builders, like the men referenced above. They may be men or women that have a knack for cleaning, or landscaping. These are all very necessary and important jobs in the service of our churches today. As I read this passage today, I thought of a man in our church who was used of the Lord to build our platform in the auditorium along with the sound booth. He did a wonderful job, and our church building is much more beautiful and functional as a result of his using his gifts for the Lord. We also have some folks in our church that like to cook, and when we have a dinner of some kind, these people go to work, preparing delicious food for the rest of us to enjoy. They work mostly behind the scenes, but their work is very important to the Lord.

God tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” – (1 Corinthians 12:18)

Not every member is an eye or an ear: some are hands, some are feet. Not everybody is a preacher or teacher; and those that are gifted in areas other that teaching are just as important to the work of the ministry as those who teach or preach.

What is your gift? What is your sweet spot? The thing that you were born to do. Hiram was born to make brass, and he did it very well. God will be well pleased with your life if you find the thing that He has equipped you to do, and then do it for His glory.


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Almost Heaven

AlmostHeaven AlmostHeaven AlmostHeavensunset_paradise

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 3 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0417 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Wisdom”

“Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.” (1 Kings 4:20)

“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:25)

This is about as close to heaven as you could possibly get while still living here on the earth. Notice that Israel had the complete protection of God; and the abundant provision of God. And in these early days of Solomon’s reign the people were busy serving God by building His temple, which took about seven years to complete. So it seems that God is on His throne and the people are dwelling safely. It sort of reminds me of the history of America. We had to fight some battles in the early days; but God eventually gave us abundant provision and protection from our enemies. We are still the most blessed nation in the world.

Unfortunately, we will see in the upcoming chronicles of Israel’s history that all of this prosperity, which was given by God, will eventually cause the people to forget about God. I think we can safely say that America is in the same boat. The people in this “land of the free” have forgotten that it was God who gave them their freedom and all of the prosperity that comes with it.

Christian, let us never forget that it is God that has protected us, and it is God that has provided for us. Have you thanked God today for His blessings?


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I Will Be King

I will be king

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4 Proverbs 16Psalms 76 – 80)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read the “0416 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.” – (1 Kings 1:5)

In our passage today, we have King David on his death bed, and the kingdom unsure about who will take his place after he passes on. God had made it clear to David that his son Solomon was to be his successor (1 Chronicles 22:9), but David had been very quiet about revealing the will of God to the people. As a result, one of the king’s other sons – Adonijah – saw an opportunity to seize power. He made a conspiracy with Joab and Abiathar to take control of the kingdom. With the backing of the military and the temple, it would be difficult to stop him. He called all of the king’s sons (except Solomon), and all of the important men of Judah (except Nathan the prophet and Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men) to announce that he was king. Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, finds out about the conspiracy and reveals it to the king. Now David has to act. He command Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet to anoint Solomon to be king over Israel. Had David been clear to the people about the Lord’s will previously, the kingdom would have avoided all of this unnecessary turmoil.

My thought this morning is about the phrase spoken by Adonijah, “I will be king”. Isn’t it inside all of us to seize control of our lives away from the reign of God? God wants to be the King in our lives, but we are constantly trying to knock God off the throne and assume power. Recognizing that this little battle rages within us, we must daily acknowledge and submit to God’s authority in our lives. Every time self begins to elevate itself, we must consciously abase him, and yield our allegiance to the Holy Spirit of God. We are really no different than Adonijah. Our pride causes us to lust for the dominion and power that does not rightfully belong to us. The key to successful Christian living is submission to the will of God. He is the only King.

 “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” – (Luke 14:11)


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How Many?

people 3d

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 23 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2Proverbs 15Psalms 71 – 75

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 55:17

Read the “0415 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” – (2 Samuel 24:1)

“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)

“And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.” – (2 Samuel 24:17)

This is one of those passages of Scripture that I have a difficult time understanding. The Scripture clearly says in verse 1 (above) that God moved David against Israel; but then in verse 17, David confesses what he had done against Israel to the Lord as sin. Here we have another example of the sovereignty of God in conjunction with the free will of man. To complicate matters even more, look at what it says in 1 Chronicles 21 about the same event: the blame here is placed upon Satan. In our passage today it certainly looks as if God was forcing David to sin against Him, which in turn brings about the wrath of God upon the people of Israel.  What is going on here? Did God command it, or did Satan tempt David to do it? I believe that it was in David’s heart to number the people long before the actual numbering took place. Man’s heart is desperately wicked. There are all kinds of sins inside of it. The idea to number the people originated with Satan, because he wanted to get David to take his eyes off of God, and instead trust in his military strength. I think that God kept David from fulfilling what was in his heart for a while, but then because of His anger at Israel (and David), He eventually allows it. I believe the same thing happened with Pharaoh of Egypt. The Scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but it also says that Pharaoh’s heart was already hardened. I don’t think that God caused Pharaoh to hate Israel. He already did. God finally just removed the restraint that was keeping Pharaoh back. Satan is on a leash too. He can only do what God allows him to do.

This brings me to an application of this principle in our lives. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit of God is the restraining power that keeps all evil from breaking loose on the earth. The bottom line in all of this is that Satan will tempt you to sin, but God will not cause you to sin; but He will allow you to sin, and allow you to be tempted. However, I also believe that there are many times when He keeps us from sinning against Him through His indwelling Holy Spirit.

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” – (James 1:13-14)

By the way. You may be wondering why God would be against the numbering of the people. The reason is simple. He did not want Israel trusting in their numbers. He wanted them to trust in Him. They could beat any opposing army out there, regardless of size, as long as they were right with God.


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God Doesn’t Forget

God Doesn't Forget

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28Proverbs 14Psalms 66 – 70)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 51

Read the “0414 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.” (2 Samuel 21:1)

Remember back in 1 Samuel when King Saul was mad at the priests because they had helped David. (See 1 Samuel 21 & 22) Saul ended up killing all of the priests (85 of them) and then proceeded to wipe out Nob, the city that the priests lived in. What Saul did to the priests and to their families was bad enough, but there was also a group of people who lived in Nob as servants to the priests who were not Israelites: they were Gibeonites. Now, you may also remember from the book of Joshua that the Gibeonites were the people who tricked Joshua into making a covenant with them. Joshua promised these people with an oath that Israel would let them live, and in return the Gibeonites would be Israel’s servants. God never forgot that covenant, so when Saul (acting on behalf of Israel) broke the covenant and slew the Gibeonites living in Nob; God held them (Israel – not just Saul) accountable. God doesn’t forget, even when we want to. Here, an entire nation is suffering for the decision of one man.

We should be admonished when we read passages like this.  First of all, we should realize that our actions affect more people than we think; and we should carefully consider the outcome on others around us from the decisions we make today as well as the impact they will have on future generations. Secondly, we need to think about any unfinished business we may have with God or other people. We are so quick to promise things; but so slow to deliver the things that we promise. God never forgot the promise that Israel made with the Gibeonites.

Note – A separate thought from this passage of Scripture. Notice in 21:8 that five of  the ”sons of Saul” (actually grandsons) that were to be killed were the sons of Michal, David’s first wife. Michal had lived a troubled life due to men who had used her for their own gain. Saul promised her to David and reluctantly gives her to be his wife; later Saul took her back and gave her to another man; After Saul’s death, when David is in power, he takes her back, away from a man that really loves her; and now here she is losing her sons.


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Bittersweet

Bittersweet

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26Psalms 61 – 65Proverbs 13

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 47:1

Read the “0413 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.” – (2 Samuel 19:2)

This was a “no win” situation for David. David won the nation back, but lost his son. After his son Absalom rebelled against David, and forced him to flee from Jerusalem with all of his men, David had to do something. Absalom certainly wanted to see his father dead; but David, however, wanted somehow to undo the damage that Absalom had done to the nation, and still keep him as a son. He asked his men in the final battle to “deal gently… with the young man”, which they did not do. The men were right. Absalom had to die. David should have realized that. I can understand, though, how David felt. He did not blame Absalom for the way he turned out. I think David blamed himself. And even though David and his men won the victory and got the kingdom back, he still wished that he could go back and re-do some things  with his son Absalom.

I can relate to that. I wish that I could go back and re-do some things with my family as well. I know one thing that I would change is  that I would give each one of them a little more of my time. Instead of consuming my life with my goals and ambitions, I would give a little more of myself to helping them reach theirs. David ignored his son Absalom for a long time, and now he wished that he had the opportunity to give him his attention. The rebellion of Absalom grew with every passing day that his father neglected him. Most of my children are grown now, but I am trying to spend more time with them even now. I cannot re-claim what I missed, but I can make the most of what I have left. I do have one daughter, Hannah, who is young and still at home. I am doing things differently with her. If you still have children to influence, I encourage you to take every opportunity to do it. I bet you if David was to do it all over again, he would trade some of his successes as king for a good relationship with his children.


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I Smell A Rat

rat

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 15 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24Proverbs 12Psalms 56 – 60 

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read a previous post from this passage – “Let Him Curse

Read the “0412 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!” – (2 Samuel 15:3-4)

In today’s reading, we see the gradual rise to power of Absalom, David’s son. Absalom has developed into a calculating, sneaky, and conspiring rebel, who slowly stole the hearts of the people of Israel away from their God chosen leader. In the verses above, he is standing in the gate, and pulling people aside before they go into the king. He befriends them, and promises them that if he were the king things would be different; things would be better. No doubt, he is bad-mouthing the king to everyone who would listen. Absalom is a snake; a rat. He has done nothing on his own; he has built nothing, conquered nothing. Instead, he is a destroyer, and a stealer of that which belongs to another man.

I have observed people like this throughout the years. They steal wives away from husbands; they steal the hearts of children away from fathers; they steal churches away from pastors. They tell the wife who may be having some struggles in her marriage that if he were her husband, he would never mistreat her. They do the same to church members. They want people to come to them. They usually use flattery. They always tear down God-ordained authority. Beware of the Absalom’s of life. God is never for them. Even when it looks like they have all the right answers, you need to stay faithful to the Lord and be supportive of the leaders that God has given you.


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Amnon Had A Friend

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “0411 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Consequences of Sin”

“But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.” (2 Samuel 13:3)

This is another tragic story in the Bible of a man who blew it because he allowed someone into his life that influenced him away from the will of God.  Amnon was one of David’s sons, and he was in love with his half sister, Tamar.   Whether or not this was a wholesome attraction is a matter for another debate.  Nevertheless, Amnon didn’t know what to do about it, but he had a “friend” that did.  This friend, however, was not the kind of friend your parents would like for you to run with.  This was a sneaky guy (subtil).  This was the kind of guy that acts like an “A” honor roll student when he is around your folks; but when he has you alone he is bringing out dirty magazines and dope.  Amnon’s “good friend”, Jonadab, convinces Amnon to trick the king into bringing his daughter Tamar into the lair of Amnon.  Unfortunately, as a result of this counselor’s advice, Amnon eventually ends up dead because of what he does to Tamar.

There are two applications that we can make here:

1  Jonadab is like the devil.  He is a liar, and a deciever; and he will always try to seduce you into going against the will of God.  Notice how Jonadab just convinces Amnon to do what he already wants to do.  He just had to give him a little nudge.  Satan know your temptations, and he throws them in front of you, nudging you to yield to them.  And he always plays both sides.  Notice later on in the chapter how Jonadab is defending the guy who kills Amnon (vs. 32 – 35)  The devils convinces you to sin and then he accuses you to God.

2  But Jonadab is also a type of some of the friends that you and I might have in our life.  And we know who they are.  They are the people who are not concerned about the will of God; they live for themselves, and they are always trying to get you to join them.  Identify the Jonadabs in your life, and remove them.  Surround yourself with people who will tell you to do what’s right, which is what a true friend does.


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Be In Your Place

 

Be in Your Place

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 19 – 20Proverbs 10Psalms 46 – 50

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34:6

Read the “0410 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” (2 Samuel 11:1-2)

This morning I want to pass along a very simple but important truth. In our passage today, in chapter 11, we read about the very familiar yet tragic story of David and Bathsheba. David is out on his rooftop and from his vantage point spots a beautiful woman who is bathing. David, who already has a few wives, sends a servant to bring the woman to him so he can sleep with her, but the woman is married. David takes the woman anyway, and ends up adding murder to his sin of adultery because he has her husband sentenced to death by placing him on the front lines of Israel’s war with the Ammonites. There is more to the story, but I have covered enough here to deliver my point.

We would all agree that adultery and murder are two very serious sins that were both punishable by death according to the Old Testament Law, but I would like to point out here that the sin precipitated these was David’s sin of not being where he was supposed to be. David was the king, and should have been fighting the battle with his men, but instead, he was home relaxing on his rooftop. Had David been leading his army in battle, this adultery and murder would have never taken place.

I find that we often get ourselves into trouble by not being where we should be. Did you know that there is a specific place where God wants you to be at any given moment? For instance, God has a time and a place where He wants you to meet with Him in devotion (Bible reading and prayer), and we need to be very careful to keep that appointment. There is also a time and a place when we need to be with other Christians, gathered in fellowship around the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. We also need to be busy at the place of our employment. These are just examples. We all have different responsibilities with different schedules, but we all have a specific place where we need to be at any given time, and being where we need to be will help us to be what we need to be and to do what we should be doing. Just a thought.


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Check With God First

Man-Praying

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 4 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18Proverbs 9Psalms 41 – 45)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “0409 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee. And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” – (2 Samuel 7:3-5)

In 2 Samuel 7, David comes to the prophet Nathan, and informs him of his desire to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant: he wanted to build the temple. You will recall that up until this time the corporate worship of God took place in a portable tabernacle that God had designed for them while they wandered the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. But now it was time to build a permanent structure in the capital city – Jerusalem. It was a good thing that David wanted to do, and it was also good that he went to inquire of the man of God before he did it. The problem here is not with David, but with the prophet Nathan. He gave David the green light to “do all that [was] in [David’s] heart”, before he checked with God. In other words, he spoke on behalf of God, but did not say what God wanted him to say. He spoke prematurely. As it turns out, God had other plans. He did not want David to build the temple. That job was going to go to David’s son, Solomon.

There is a great lesson to be learned here for us. Before we offer our advice on a matter, we ought to check with God first. How we go about doing that is a little bit different today than it was in David and Nathan’s day. In their time God would speak directly to the man of God. Today, however, we have to discern the will of God in the following way:

1  We first go to the Word of God – check to see what the Bible says about what you want to do. Just about every possible scenario is covered by Biblical principle. Let’s say for example that a young lady wanted to know if it was OK to get involved with a young man who is not a dedicated Christian. She could look into the Word and see that it says that she is not to be “unequally yoked” together with an unbeliever. She would also see that the Scripture says that she can not “walk together” with someone whom she is not in agreement with. And there are many other passages of Scripture, which would advise her against what she wants to do. The bottom line is that if the thing we want to do is in violation of sound Biblical principle, we should not do it.

2  We go to God in prayer. We ask God to reveal to us personally His will regarding the matter. I believe that if a person is really concerned about the will of God, He will direct them. When I was praying about where to serve God after Bible college, God revealed to me precisely that He wanted my family to serve Him here in Galloway, NJ.

3  We get advice. The Bible is clear that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. Find some people with godly wisdom that you can go to for counsel regarding your decision, and give them some time to pray first before they give you an answer.

Nathan should have put David on hold until he had a chance to find out what God wanted him to do.


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Encouragement from the Lord

Today’s Reading – 1 Samuel 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers read – Matthew 13 – 14; Proverbs 7; Psalms 31 – 35)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32 (Fast)

Read the “0407 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” – (1 Samuel 30:6)

In our passage this morning, we see David and his men returning home to Ziklag, and discover that the city was burned to the ground and their wives and children were gone. At this point they have no idea what these Amelekites had done to their families, but I am sure that David and his men suspected that they were either being slaughtered or, at the very least, abused. The men were naturally distraught. At times like these, people want to blame somebody, and since David was their leader, he bore the brunt of their wrath. Remember, these were men that loved David, and risked much by following him. This was certainly a great test of David’s leadership. But how was David supposed to help his men, when he was also distraught due to the loss of his family. It is very hard to encourage and lead people when you yourself are discouraged; and David is perhaps at the lowest point of his life here.

The last sentence in the verse tells us what got David back up to where he could do something to help these people who were relying on him for leadership. “…David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” It is not easy to turn to the Lord for encouragement when you are down. Honestly, I can speak from experience when I say that sometimes I want to just wallow in the mire of discouragement. Have a little pity party, so to speak. But, that will not help anybody. David didn’t stay down; he got back up. He received encouragement from the only source available at the time. Remember, his loyal men wanted to stone him at this time. David went to the Lord, and the Lord gave him the answers that he needed; and in a very short time, they had recovered their families, not to mention their possessions. However, none of that would have happened if David would have just stayed down.

This passage was a great encouragement for me today. Personally. I have been battling with a lot of discouragement lately. I guess, like David, I need to get up, go to God, and get back in the battle. Maybe, if I can get some encouragement from the Lord, then I will be able to give some encouragement to the people around me.


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Let God Take Care of the Problem

Grand-CanyonToday’s Passage – 1 Samuel 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers read – Matthew 11 – 12; Proverbs 6; Psalms 26 – 30)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0405 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Good Morning
This is God. I will be handling all of your problems today, and I don’t need your help, so have a nice day.

“Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.” – (1 Samuel 25:25-26)

“And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless? David said furthermore, As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.” – (1 Samuel 26:9-10)

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – (Matthew 5:39)

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” – (Romans 12:19)

Have you ever been done wrong by somebody? Have you ever been hurt by somebody? I am sure that we all have experienced pain at one time or another in life that was caused by another person. The tendency when we are being attacked, or maligned, or gossiped about by somebody else is to attack back. It is in our human nature to want to even the score. In our passage this morning, we see two occasions where David had the justification and the opportunity to settle the score with people who had treated him unfairly; yet David chose to let God take care of it, rather than settling the matter himself.

In chapter 25 of our reading today, we see David treated poorly by a man named Nabal who was a nasty, selfish man without much mental capacity. David had been sharing the same fields with Nabal’s shepherds. David’s men protected the shepherds from any harm that might have come their way as they were feeding Nabal’s sheep. David asked if Nabal could give him some food for his men, and Nabal turned him down, and insulted him as well. David wanted to destroy the man and all that he owned, but Nabal’s wife, Abigail, convinced David not to do it. She reminded David that God was well able to take care of the situation; and God did. A short time later, Nabal died, and God gave David Nabal’s wife.

In chapter 26, we read where David has the opportunity to kill King Saul who had been pursuing David and trying to kill him. When a perfect opportunity comes for one of David’s men to put an end to this constant threat against David’s life, David says that he will not put forth his hand against God’s annointed. Davis knew that God would take care of the situation. We will read in future chapters about the death of Saul, and the coronation of David as the king.

You see, you do not have to take matters into your own hands. God is well able to watch out for you, and avenge any wrong that has been done to you. You and I just need to be like Jesus – ready to forgive those who have sinned against us. And remember, though you and I may have been sinned against a time or two in our lives, I bet we have also done our share of hurting other people as well. We may not have meant to, but nevertheless we did. When we do wrong we want others to gives us some grace, don’t we? So let’s be willing to turn the other cheek ourselves.


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I’ve Got Your Back

2012-1-8-2012-child-under-His-wingToday’s Passage – 1 Samuel 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 9 – 10Proverbs 5Psalms 21 – 25

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Matthew 6:33

Read the “0405 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.” – (1 Samuel 22:23)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” – (John 15:4-7)

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – (Hebrews 13:5)

In our passage today (Chapter 22), we read about King Saul slaughtering eighty-five of the priests of God from the city of Nob, along with their wives, children, and even their livestock. Saul had completely lost his mind, and had become completely consumed with destroying David, and anyone he imagined to be complicit with him, whether he had any evidence to back up his suspicions or not. Saul was convinced that the priests were secretly helping out David, so he murdered all of them, save one who escaped. Abiathar was the sole survivor of the massacre at Nob, and he escaped to tell David what had happened. That is when David tells Abiathar to stay with him where he will be cared for and protected from their mutual enemy.

David, in this story, is a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are pursued by an enemy that hates us because he hates our Saviour. Yet, God offers us the same protection that was pictured here with David and Abiathar. Abiathar lost his family, his home, and his safety all because of his association with David. David felt responsible for all that Abiathar lost, so he took him in. He would see to it that Abiathar was provided for and protected as long as he was with him. Is this not what we have in Christ? He provides for our needs, and protects us from those that would harm us. This is not to say that no “bad” things will ever happen to us, but we can be sure of the fact that no harm will come to us without first being authorized by Him; and if He puts His stamp of approval on it, it will be for His glory, and/or our good; and He promised that He will never give us more than we can handle.


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Obsession

obs-en-17-01

Today’s Passage –  1 Samuel 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 7 – 8; Proverbs 4; Psalms 16 – 20)

“And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.  And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.” – (1 Samuel 22:18-19)

Chapter 22 of 1 Samuel is perhaps one of the saddest chapters in the Bible. King Saul has all of the priests of Nob slain because he thinks that they are complicit with David. Saul is now totally out of control. He is completed obsessed with David, and he is allowing his imaginations to completely run wild. Let me back up and review the story. David is on the run from King Saul. He enters into Nob, the city where the priests of God lived, looking for bread for himself and his men. David does not tell Ahimelech the priest the truth, which was wrong. He tells the priest that he is on a top secret mission for the king, which required haste, and that is the reason that he did not have time to get food before he left. Ahimelech and the other priests are completely innocent. The priests give David some of the old shewbread from off of the altar, and they also give him the sword of Goliath which was also being stored in the city of Nob. There was an evil man, named Doeg, in the city that day, and he observed what had happened, and then went and told Saul.

Saul sends for Ahimelech and the rest of the priests, and asks them what had happened. Ahimelech rehearses the matter before Saul exactly as it did happen, but Saul does not believe him. Saul then orders the death of all of the priests of God. Saul’s insecurity regarding David has completely usurped his ability to reason logically. His imagination is in total control, and his imaginations are being fed by the wicked one. The Bible says that we are to cast down imaginations:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Saul’s insecurity began and took root as jealousy because of David’s successes. God obviously had his hand upon David and Saul knew it. Saul also knew that God no longer had his hand upon him. Saul’s insecurity affected the entire kingdom. Many people died because of it. Notice that Saul’s insecurity caused him to imagine that these priests were his enemies, and they were not. His insecurity also caused him to forget about his real enemy, which were the Philistines and some of the other nations surrounding Israel.

Can you relate to any of this. Have you ever imagined that people were against you without really knowing that they were? Have you ever saw a group of people gathered together without you, and imagined that they were talking about you? Have you forgotten that your enemy is Satan, not your friends and family members? Perhaps you are a little insecure yourself. You need to confess that as sin, because it is sin, and ask God to help you deal with it. Remember that God loves you just as much as he loves everyone else, and he has a wonderful plan for your life. Keep your eyes upon him, and forget about what He is doing with other people. As Jesus told Peter, “What is that to thee?” Get control of your imaginations before you totally lose it too.

 


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Is There Not A Cause?

Is There Not A Cause

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 17 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 5 – 6; Proverbs 3; Psalms 11 – 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0403 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” – (1 Samuel 17:29)

The account of David and Goliath is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. Even people who know little about the Bible or the Christian faith know something about this story. It is the classic story of the underdog. We love to cheer for the underdog; we love to see the guy that nobody thought could possibly win, come up from behind and win the game. However, the truth is that David was not participating in a game. He was literally fighting for His life, the lives of the men in God’s army, and for the sovereignty of Israel as a nation.

Because of the familiarity of most people to this story, I will not take the time to review it. If you by chance are not familiar with the account, make sure you read the passage. It is one of those passages that reads very easy. You will not have any trouble at all understanding what the Bible is saying. I would like to point out a few things about David, however:

1  David was a man of great faith. David’s faith overshadowed his fear. Any man in his right mind would be afraid of a guy as big and as powerful as Goliath, yet David did could not see how this man could possibly conquer God. David knew that He was fighting the Lord’s battle, and He knew that God was well able to take down Goliath. Goliath may have been big compared to David, but he was less than nothing when compared with David’s God.

Take a moment and consider now what Goliath’s you are facing in your life today. They may seem insurmountable, but if they are standing in between you and God’s cause, you must believe that God is able to overcome them.

2  David was a man of great fondness for God. David didn’t like what this big, ugly Philistine was saying about God and God’s people. It made him mad. I believe in this case we could say that David’s anger was really righteous indignation. Though we certainly should never allow our anger and passion to cause us to sin, we should still get riled up about some things; and our anger should cause us to take action. For instance, when you hear someone blaspheming your God, you should say something about it. People ought to know where you stand.

3  David was a man who made many foes. I am not referring to the Philistines, either. David’s brother, Eliab, became angry with him; and later King Saul became very jealous of him, and even sought to kill him on a number of occasions. You would think doing right would make you everybodies hero; however, many will become your enemy the minute God puts you in the spotlight. I am sure Satan didn’t take his eyes off of David after this either.

4  David had a very good friend. When you decide to live for God, you may be marked an enemy by some, and even dismissed as a fanatic by others; but there will be some – maybe only a few – who will want to be your friend. Saul’s son, Jonathon fell in love with David because of the stand that David took that day.

David took a great risk, humanly speaking, when he entered into the ring with Goliath; but God forever changed the life of David as a result of his great faith. God is looking for more risk takers today: men and women who are willing to stick their neck out to live by faith for God. There was only one young man that was willing to risk his life in a fight against a 9 foot giant that day in Judah, and there will certainly not be many today who will demonstrate that kind of faith; but by God’s grace, I want to be a man of faith like David was. I hope you do too.

 


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Do I Hear Sheep?

Do I Hear Sheep

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 3 – 4; Proverbs 2; Psalms 6 – 10)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Isaiah 40:31

Read the “0402 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” – (1 Samuel 15:14 )

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” – (1 Samuel 15:22)

The story in 1 Samuel 15 goes like this: God wanted Saul and the people of Israel to go and utterly destroy the Amelekites, and all that belonged to them, from off the face of the earth. It is not often that God gave a commandment like this, but it is important to know that when He did, He had a good reason. We may not completely understand why God would want something like this to happen, but we know that God is God, and He knows what is best. Saul obeyed much of what God commanded him to do. He wiped out all of the Amelekites, except the king, Agag. Saul also spared the sheep, because he justified that the sheep could be used for a sacrifice. However, God was not pleased with Saul’s partial obedience, and He was not interested in Saul’s sacrifice. God wanted total obedience, which is “better than sacrifice”.

If we look carefully at the text, we can figure out why Saul did not completely obey God. Consider these verses from the passage:

 “And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” – (1 Samuel 15:17)

“And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” – (1 Samuel 15:24)

“Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.” – (1 Samuel 15:30)

It is apparent from these verses that Saul had a problem with pride. I guess we can all relate to that, can’t we? He was more concerned about pleasing the people, and being elevated in their sight, than he was about obeying and pleasing the Lord. How many times have we compromised our obedience in order to appease the people around us?

So it was Saul’s pride that caused him to disobey. But what causes you (or me) to disobey?  Is it pride like Saul? Is it covetousness? Is it laziness? We all have something in our lives that puts the pressure on us to not do what God commands us to do. God wants a total surrender though. He wants complete obedience, and He does not accept our excuses for disobedience.

 


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Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here  to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 16 – 19Revelation 20 – 22Proverbs 31)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0331 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” – (1 Samuel 10:24)

“And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” (1 Samuel 15:17)

The life of Saul has always fascinated me. Saul started out so well. If I were reading the Bible for the very first time, and just read up to chapter 11, I would see no indication at all that Saul would eventually turn bad. So far all that we have read about Saul is good. In chapter 8, we see him serving his father by searching the countryside for some lost asses. In chapter 9, he is met by Samuel the prophet and is told that “all the desire of Israel” was on him. Upon hearing this statement, Saul humbly states that he and is family were from the least of the tribes of Israel, basically stating that he was not even worthy of consideration. When it comes time for Samuel to announce to the people that Saul would be king, Saul is hiding. I don’t see even a hint of pride in this young man so far. Even when he is opposed by some ungodly men, he holds his peace, and then later when he was annointed king, some of his supporters remembered the opposition and tried to have them executed, but Saul refuses. He seems to be making all of the right moves thus far. He is humble, yet he demonstrates strong leadership when his people were threatened by the Ammonites in chapter 11. He rallies all of the people of Israel to come to the battle, and they destroy the invading army from Ammon. Saul starts out great.

I almost want to stop reading here while everything is “still good in the hood”. What happens to Saul? Does he stay on the right path or does he go off course somewhere? Well, we will read all about it in the next few days, but let me give you a little hint here. As we have already seen, Saul starts out very humble, but he will eventually become full of pride; and pride will bring about his destruction. Pride is a huge problem for most of us. Consider the following verses:

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – (Proverbs 16:18)

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” – (Proverbs 13:10)

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,” – (Proverbs 6:16-17)

“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” – (Proverbs 29:23)

The Bible has a lot to say about pride. As we read these next few chapters, watch out for pride developing in the heart of Saul; but more importantly watch out for the development of pride in your own life.

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” – (1 Peter 5:5)

 


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Get It Out!

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Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 4 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 13 – 15Proverbs 30Psalms 146 – 150)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 121

Read the “0330 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.” – (1 Samuel 5:11)

“And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.” – (1 Samuel 6:21)

In our reading today we see the ark of God being taken from the Israelites by the Philistines; and then we see the voluntary return of the ark back to the people of Israel. Nobody seemed to want the ark. The story begins in chapter where the Israelite are losing in battle to the Philistines. The elders of Israel come up with the idea of getting the ark and bringing it to the battles because “it” would help them. Notice carefully the use of the word “it”. They were trusting in God to help them, they were trusting in a “good luck charm”. The Philistines seemed to have a better understanding of what the ark represented. They knew that the ark represented a powerful God, and though they did not know Him, they feared Him, and God gave them the victory and the ark. The moral to that part of the story is that God is not your good luck charm.

Once the ark was brought into the land of the Philistines, however, they began to experience some major problems. They put the ark of God in the Temple of Dagon. God does not like to share His glory with anyone so He knocked over Dagon, and chopped off his head and hands. To make matters much worse the people of city of Ashdod are all plagued with “emerods”. Now I don’t want to be graphic on this site, so I won’t go into deep explanation as to what emerods are, but I will tell you this: they can be helped with a little “Preparation H”. However, since the people of Ashdod didn’t have Preparation H at the time, or a CVS to buy it from, they opted to just get rid of the ark.

The ark then travels to two more cities of the Philistines where the same thing happens, so the Philistines wisely decide to send the ark back to Israel, along with some golden mice and emerods. Now that the ark is back in Israel, into the city of Bethshemesh, the people of Israel are very happy. Their happiness subsides, however, when they decide to take a little peek inside the ark. Not smart. About 50,000 of them died that day. They knew better. So the people that were left of Bethshemesh decided also to get rid of the ark, and they sent it to Kirjathjearim, where it remained for many years until David comes to get it.

We see here what happens when people dabble with the things of God, but do not actually know God. God gave clear instructions to the people of Israel as to the ark of the covenant. They should have known better. God will be worshipped on His terms or He won’t be worshipped at all. These people didn’t want God around them because they refused to submit to His Lordship. People are the same way today. They will not submit to God, so they would rather just not have Him around. And Christians who ought to know about God are so Bible ignorant that they have no clue what He expect from their lives. We need to get back into the Word of God in order to find out what God wants, and then we need to submit ourselves to His will.


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Lent to the Lord

 

Lent to the Lord

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 10 – 12;  Proverbs 29; Psalms 141 – 145)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 119:105

Read a previous post from this passage – “Eli Didn’t Correct His Children

Read the “0329 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.” – (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” – (Psalm 127:3)

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – (Ephesians 6:4)

One of the greatest blessings and priveledges in life for a married couple is to be given the opportunity to raise children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”.  In our reading today we see Hannah, the wife Elkanah, who desired more than anything to be given the priveledge of giving birth to children. She begged God to open up her womb, and she promised God that she would give the child back to the Lord. In other words, she understood that the child would not really belong to her, he would belong to the Lord. God granted her request, and she was faithful to her word, and literally gave the child, when he was old enough, to be trained by the priest in the service of the Lord.

God has blessed my wife and I with four wonderful children, three of which are now grown and married. Two of our married children are still living and serving the Lord in our church, which is a wonderful blessing. However, my daughter Melissa and her husband Wesley live many miles away, and though we speak with them almost daily, and even see them often, we miss them terribly. One of the most difficult things that we can do as parents is to let go of our children when they are grown. We want to keep them around us forever. However, oftentimes God may have a special plan for our children that will lead them to be apart from us geographically. As hard as that may be, we must recognize that God gave us these children for a specific purpose, and a limited time. We were never owners, only stewards. They belong to the Lord. If God chooses to use them as a missionary on a foreign field, or perhaps move them to the other side of the country, that is His right; and we must not only accept His will, but we must support it as well.

If God has blessed you and your spouse with children, please remember that those precious ones are really only “lent” to you for a short time. You have been given the awesome responsibility of teaching a child how to love and serve God. Don’t waste time, it is very precious. You will blink your eyes twice and they will be grown, and then they will move on to serve God, and to raise a family of their own.


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Things Are Looking Up!

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Today’s Passage – Ruth 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 7 – 9; Proverbs 28; Psalms 136 – 140)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0328 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” – (Ruth 1:20-21)

“And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” – (Ruth 4:14 & 15)

Did you ever have a day like the man in the picture is having. Nothing seems to go as you wanted it to. Sometimes life is that way, and often it may be more than just a day that goes poorly; it may be many days, even years. But hang in there. Stay faithful. Don’t lose hope. God may just turn things around.

I have read this story of Ruth and Naomi many times, but every time I have written or preached on the subject my focus would either be on Ruth or Boaz, the kinsman redeemer. However, this morning I got to thinking about Naomi. Naomi was a great lady, who in many ways was a victim of circumstance. Things just didn’t work out for her in life as she had probably hoped and dreamed they would. I can relate to that. Sometimes I reflect on my own life and wish that I could re-do some things; perhaps make some better choices. Hindsight always reveals the wisdom of our choices. Anyway, Naomi left the land of Canaan with her husband and two sons many years prior to the time of our text. They intended only to sojourn in the land of Moab for a short time, until the famine was over in their homeland. I appears that they stayed a lot longer than they intended. While living in Moab, her two sons marry women from Moab, which was also not according to God’s perfect plan because these women were not worshippers of the God of Israel. To make matters worse, her husband, and both of her sons die while she is there. Now she is left in a strange land with two daughters-in-law that were in many ways still strangers to her.

Naomi is faced with a decision. Life is not working out for her in Moab, and she realizes she needs to get back to her people; to the worship of her God. Good decision. But what was she to do with her daughters-in-law? She understands that feel obligated to her, and in a very real way, both of them had become very attached to her. She must have demonstrated much love toward them, because both of them loved her; and one of them (Ruth) was willing to forsake her own happiness in order to go with Naomi. In facy, Ruth was willing to become a worshipper of Naomi’s God. It appears that Naomi represented her God very well.

The point of all of this is that though Naomi didn’t make all of the right decisions through the years, and although things did not work out for her as she would have hoped, God was still very gracious to her, and was willing to use her. She left Canaan full: full of dreams and full of hope. She left Moab empty: empty of a husband, empty of her sons, and empty of material possessions; but she did have Ruth. God had graciously given her a wonderful daughter-in-law in, Ruth, who proved to be more of a blessing to her than her sons ever were. I bet if there were another chapter to the Book of Ruth we would hear Naomi say, “change my name back to Naomi, I was ‘Mara’ for a while, but things are looking up.

Can you notice a pattern here that you and I can relate to? Life sometimes starts with hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They rarely work out the way we want them to. We make many mistakes along the way that further complicate things. But, God just may turn our lives around before it’s all over. We may find that delight (Naomi means delight) after all; and it may just come through an unexpected source. Don’t lose hope. Keep following God. Better days are coming.


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Right In Their Own Eyes

ends-justify-the-means

Today’s Passage – Judges 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 4 – 6;  Proverbs 27Psalms 131 – 135)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 89:1

Read the “0327 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – (Judges 21:25)

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15)

I hope that you are taking the time to carefully read these chapters in the Book of Judges. If you have, then you have noticed that there certainly is a lot of wierd stuff going on here in these passages; and you may be wondering if God is putting His stamp of approval on all that was happening. He certainly is not. The Bible here is merely recording honestly the condition of God’s people as they really were in this time period. They have certainly gone a long way away from the will of God. The concluding verse (above) to the Book of Judges seems to sum it all up: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. They could have sang the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way”. There was no earthly king, but the real problem was that they stopped submitting to the kingship of God. Israel was in a mess morally, and they had forsaken the system of worship that God had instituted for them as they wandered in the wilderness.

We can see this same problem in our country today. Our nation used to instill Biblical principles into the lives of her citizens. A lost heathen of 100 years ago knew more about the Bible, and could quote more verses than the average Christian can today. We are a Bible illiterate society, and the dearth of the Word of God is manifesting itself in every area of our society. We are in a mess here in America. We call “right” wrong, and “wrong” right. We tolerate, condone, and even support the vilest immorality imaginable; and it is getting worse by the day. As a nation, we know precious little about the Person of God, let alone the Principles of His Word. We need to have an awakening like the children of Israel had in these chapters in the Book of Judges. Maybe God will have to shake our world a little bit more in judgment in order to get us to wake up.

I hate to say this, but the problem is also huge within our fundamental churches. It amazes me that people will come to church; listen to the Word of God as it is preached, and sometimes even nod their heads or say “Amen” in agreement; and then go out into their lives, and do the opposite of what God just instructed. And the crazy thing is, they don’t even realize that they are doing it. We need to wake up. We need God to shake us back into an awareness of our utter dependence upon Him. We need to follow the Word of God wholly, and allow the Spirit of God to guide us into all truth.

The nation of Israel entered into the land of Canaan with full intention to live according to the will of God for the rest of their existence. If you were to somehow show them how far away they would get, they would think it absurd; but slowly, and very gradually they moved further and further away from the truth. Christians, we are doing the same thing; and it is happening so gradually that we do not even notice it. Let’s get back to the basics of loving God, winning souls, and living in and by His Word.

 


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Speak Your Mind

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Today’s Passage – Judges 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 1 – 3;  Proverbs 26Psalms 126 – 130)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read the “0326 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.” – (Judges 19:30)

Judges 19 contains one of the strangest and saddest stories in all of the Bible. In this account we learn of a man from the tribe of Levi that was travelling through Israel with his concubine. In a polygamous society a concubine was a woman that was married to a man, but did not have the same status as the man’s wife or wives. At any rate this man and his wife were looking for a place to stay for the night while they were travelling through the city of Gibeah, which was occupied by the Israelite tribe of Benjamin. For a long time no one would offer them lodging for the night, until suddenly an old man who was also a sojourner in the city offered them food, and lodging at his house. During the night, the men of the city attempted force entry into this older man’s home so that they could “know”  the man that was visiting. In this case the word “know” meant that the men of the city wanted to have sexual relations with the man. What happened to this man in this story is very similar to what was attempted on the two angels who visited Lot in Sodom (see Genesis 19), which indicates the level of depravity that the men of this place had reached. They are finally content to take the man’s concubine and abuse her all night long until she ultimately dies from their cruelty. The travelling man then takes the body of his wife and cuts it up into pieces, and  sends a piece of her body to each of the tribes of Israel. I realize that this is a strange story, but that’s what happened, in a nutshell.

My attention is drawn to the statement made to the reader in verse 30. We are instructed to “consider of it, take advice, and speak [our] minds”. Why did God tell us to do this after reading this portion of Scripture. I believe the reason is because the wickedness committed by these people from the tribe of Benjamin in the city of Gibeah was so heinous, that God did not want it to be just wept under the rug or passed by. He wants us to think about it;  to get mad about it; and to do something about it. By the way, we will read tomorrow in chapter 20 what the rest of Israel does to punish this sin. I won’t spoil the story, but let me assure you that the people of Israel pay a great price for allowing this kind of wickedness to take place in the Land of Promise.

I believe that the advice given by God to the Israelites of that day is good for us today. He wants us to get mad about sin, and then do something about it. We are to speak our minds as well when it comes to condemning sin. This world ought to have no doubt in their minds about where we stand regarding the sin that is taking place in our land; and we ought to go beyond just condemning it with our mouths; we ought also to take action against it.

“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” – (1 Timothy 5:20)

“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” – (Titus 1:13)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – (2 Timothy 4:2)

Let’s not turn our heads to sin, but rather let’s speak the truth in love, and stand against it.

 


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Teach Us

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Today’s Passage – Judges 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0324 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” – (Judges 13:8)

In Judges chapter 13, we see the story surrounding the birth of Samson. Samson’s birth came at a time when Israel was once again away from God, and was suffering at the hands of the Philistines. An angel appeared to Samson’s mother, and told her that she was going to have a son, and that this son was to be a Nazarite from the womb. You may recall that God gave instructions regarding the vow of the Nazarite in Numbers 6; but this child, Samson, is the first example of a Nazarite in the Bible. We do not know all everything about this vow, but we do know that it was a vow of separation; and we also know that the person who had taken the vow was not to drink wine, cut his hair, or touch a dead body. The interesting point about this particular case is that Samson was to be a Nazarite from birth. He never makes a vow. His separation was chosen for him by the Lord. Anyway, the angel did not appear to her husband, yet Manoah believed what the angel had told his wife. Manoah then “intreats” the Lord and asks Him to send the angel back, not to prove that it really happened, but to instruct them as to what they were supposed to do. Interestingly, the angel comes back, but only tells Manoah exactly what he had already told his wife.

I like the petition made by Manoah in Judges 13:8. He wants God to “teach” them regarding what to do with the child. Manoah acknowledged that he didn’t know what to do. He was demonstrating a dependence upon the Lord. I find myself often not knowing what to do. I often pray the prayer that Solomon prayed:

“And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” – (1 Kings 3:7-9)

And sometimes I pray the prayer that Hezekiah prayed:

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. – (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The funny thing about Manoah’s prayer is that God never did give him any more information than He already gave His wife; but He did talk to him, and somehow assured him that He was going to be with him as he raised this special child for the Lord. Manoah was just going to have to continue walking by faith. It it is often frustrationg for me to walk by faith. I want God to reveal every step of the plan to me ahead of time, but He never does. He tells me what I need to know for today, and expects me to just keep walking, and keep trusting Him. But I do not think that He is upset with me for asking Him. Those prayers are my declaration of dependence upon Him.


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When Good Men Do Nothing

When Good Men Do Nothing

Today’s Passage – Judges 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3Proverbs 23Psalms 111 – 115)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0323 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:15)

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

This is a very strange passage of Scripture, but I think it contains a very valuable lesson for us. In chapter 8, we have Gideon who was mightily used of the Lord to rid the land of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites. After the battle was over, the people of Israel ask Gideon to be their leader, but he refuses, saying that the Lord is their ruler. However, without a good man leading them, the people once again begin to stray away from the Lord, forcing God to bring about judgment. Now when we get to today’s passage, we see that one of the sons of Gideon does desire to reign over the people, and goes to all of his brothers asking them to support him, and they do. The problem is that this man, Abimelech, is a very wicked man. Once he gets his power, the first thing he does is have all of his brothers (70 of them) put to death. One of the brothers escapes, and stands upon a mountain and delivers this parable unto the people of the city of Shechem:

“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:8-15)

The olive tree refused to act, the fig tree refused to act, the vine refused to act, so there was nobody left but the bramble, a sticker bush.

What he was saying through this parable was that oftentime good men will refuse to take ther place of leadership, perhaps because they are already busy doing good things. However, when good men refuse to act, there will always be an evil person that will sieze the opportunity to gain power, and use it for his own purposes. This is what happens to the people of Shechem. Gideon refused to lead, and then his sons willingly turn over control of the city to this one brother. Eventually, as a result of all of this, just about everybody is put to death.

Bad things happen when good men do nothing. By refusing to get involved, we sometimes create a scenario where the wrong kind of people start calling the shots. Let’s apply this to the local church. Often times there are carnal people within the church that are hungry for power, and they are always looking for opportunities to advance themselves. And there are others within the body, who are good men, who just sit back and let it happen: perhaps because they have a lot of things going on in their lives, or maybe because they are just trusting men, who are willing to yield to others. By the way, it is never a good sign when an individual is seeking position. Truly spiritual people will often be reluctant to take positions because they either feel unworthy, or doubt their own ability. However, we need to not neglect the opportunities and responsibilities that God places in front of us, because when we refuse, it opens up the door to someone else who may not be God’s choice.

We can also see this in government. Good people often refuse to get involved, leaving the door wide open to men who may not have the best interests of the people at hand. The end result of all of this is that things begin to change for the worse for everybody. Good people need to stay in the process, so that we all can keep the good things that God has entrusted to us. How involved are you in the process? Do you get involved in the local church, and in your community and local government? Do you even vote? We need good people to do their part. The devil never stops trying to advance his agenda. We need to stay in the game in order to keep him from taking from us the wonderful blessings that God has given us.

 


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Little Is Much

Little Is Much

Today’s Passage – Judges 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 47:1

Read the “0322 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” – (Judges 7:4)

This is one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible. The nation of Israel was at war with the Midianites, who numbered 135,000. The Bible says that even the number of their camels was too large to count. The camp of Israel, on the other hand, was much smaller, numbering only 32,000. The people of Israel were already outnumbered by more that 100,000 men, yet God said that Israel had too many men, and He wanted most of them weeded out. First, He eliminates all that are afraid. I have to admit right here that I know that I would have been eliminated in this first cut. Afraid!! I would have been scared to death. Israel was outnumbered  nearly 5 to 1. Amazingly, after the fearful left, there was still 10,000 left. Now they were outnumbered 13 to 1. This is not good military strategy folks. Yet, God said that they still had too many. At the next cut the troops of Israel were reduced down to 300. This was 440 Midianites to every 1 Israelite. You would agree, that this left Israel in a (humanly) hopeless situation. But you know what happens, don’t you. God gave the victory.

Consider some other verses:

“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” – (1 Samuel 14:6)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” – (Genesis 18:14)

Sometimes, I get a little discouraged that we don’t have more people in our town that are saved and living for the Lord, serving Him in one of the Bible preaching churches. It also bothers me when there seem to be so few within the local church that are really surrendered to the Lord. But when I read passages like this I am reminded that God can do an awful lot with a little. He took down a great big giant with a little teenager. On numerous occasions He destroyed powerful armies with a few sold out soldiers. God loves to be the “underdog”. He loves to show Himself powerful in impossible situations. We may only have a few soldiers in the army at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, but God is more than able to reach the multitudes with them. And God is also ready to show Himself powerful in your life. What impossible situation are you facing today? Remember, Little is much when God is in it.


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