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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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 commands 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.

Additional Thought:

“So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. (2 Samuel 24:15)

Cindy and I were discussing this passage and we both agreed that verse fifteen bears a striking resemblance to our situation today. God sent pestilence (disease) into Israel because David had committed the sin of numbering the people. This pestilence resulted in the deaths of seventy-thousand men. This Covid-19 pestilence that we are facing has thus far killed millions throughout the world.  I think we should ask ourselves why is God allowing this to happen to our world. Is God trying to get our attention? Is He chastening us for our sin? Is he purifying His people? Perhaps the answer is: “all of the above.”

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)


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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 possibly the adopted sons of Michal, David’s first wife. These sons were actually her nephews, the sons of her deceased sister, Merab (1 Samuel 18:19). 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 better 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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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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Stay in the City of Refuge

www-st-takla-org-the-city-of-refuge

Today’s Passage – 2 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 – Matthew 15 – 16Proverbs 8Psalms 36 – 40

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 25

Read the “0408 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.” – (2 Samuel 3:27)

These first few chapters of the Book of 2 Samuel make for some exciting reading, as well as for some valuable truth. In our verse above, we see the murder of Abner by Joab and Abishai his brother. To fully understand what is happening here, there is an underlying principle that we must learn, as well as some additional background information.

First let me give you the principle. The city where this killing took place was Hebron, which was known as a City of Refuge. You can read all about the cities of refuge in the Book of Numbers 35:9 – 34; and Joshua 20. In a nutshell, though, a city of refuge was a place where somebody could flee to for safety. You see, the law in Israel stated that if you killed somebody in wartime, or if you unintentionally killed somebody (not for cases of pre-meditated murder) that the family of the dead person could avenge the blood of their relative without any legal action being taken against them. If the person who committed the “manslaughter” could get inside the city of refuge, then he would be granted safety and refuge as long as he remained in the city; but if he was to leave the city at any time, he was fair game for the revengers of blood.

Now let’s look at the background to this story. Chapter two tells us that Joab and Abishai had a brother named Asahel that was killed by Abner during a previous battle. Naturally, Joab and Abishai had never forgotten what Abner did to their brother, and even though the act was committed during a time of war, they wanted Abner to pay for their brother’s death. The problem was, however, that they had to get him outside the gate of the city. Notice our text tells us that Joab pulls him aside, in the gate, to speak with him quietly (privately).  But why would Abner willingly leave the protection of the city in order to speak with a man that wanted him dead? Because Joab had deceived him into thinking that he meant no harm. As soon as he gets him outside, however, he kills him.

Now let’s make application. The city of refuge is a picture of the will of God; and Joab is a picture of the devil. The devil cannot touch us directly as long as we are inside the walls of the will of God, so what he does is try to lure us out of the city so that he can kill our ministry for the Lord. The moral to the story is: stay inside the city. Don’t stray from God’s perfect will for your life. Don’t let Satan convince you that life will be better outside of the walls of the city. Stay in the Word of God; stay in the prayer closet; stay in church; stay out soul winning; stay separated. Stay in the City!


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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 is a great encouragement for us today. Personally. I have  battled with discouragement. I guess, like David, I needed to get up, go to God, and get back in the battle. And, when I got encouragement from the Lord, then I was be able to give some encouragement to the people around me.


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