Ephesians 2:4 KJV — But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
This chapter starts out with some discouraging news. It describes us perfectly. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, we walked after the course of this world, we had a spirit of disobedience, and were driven by the flesh!
He who is rich in mercy and because of His great love, we can be saved by His marvelous grace!
I'm sure am glad that God "butted" into my life! It sure is good to be saved!
Ephesians 3:13 KJV — Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Paul was no stranger to tribulation. Read the book of Acts and you will see the numerous trials and problems he faced. Yet, here Paul admonishes the believers at Ephesus to not faint, because of what he was going through.
I remember meeting a man, who smuggled bibles into China, was caught, beat, and forced to work in a prison camp. My first thought was, "I don't want to go through that myself." But that same man encouraged us to keep serving the Lord and keep sharing the Gospel.
Often times during trials, we want to know why the Lord is allowing us to go through such difficult times, but it isn't just about us, we go through things to be a testimony to those around us. Notice how Paul put it in the verse, "which is your glory."
So just keep putting one foot forward and walking by faith, not only will your trial strengthen you, but those around you!
Ephesians 4:27 KJV — Neither give place to the devil.
In our house, when it comes to stuff, we try to live by the rule: If it doesn't have a place, it goes. But you can't just throw something down in the middle if the floor and declare that as its place. No the "place" for the item, must be practical and sensible. A shelf, a cabinet, or a closet are the typical places an item must be stored in or on.
You can't just go making places, or else you will find your self, still in a messy place with little organization.
The same is true when it comes to the spiritual side of things. You can't give Satan space or a place in your life, and then not expect him to wreak havoc. There ought to be no place in your life, where he feels welcomed or allowed! Even if it is tucked away and you think nobody will notice, trust me, he will make himself known!
So don't give him a place and don't throw the welcome mat down for him!
James 4:7 KJV — Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Ephesians 5:19 KJV — Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Only crazy people talk to themselves. Well then call me crazy then. Call the Bible crazy too well you are at it then.
The Bible doesn't just encourage us to speak to ourselves, but to speak in such a way that causes us the praise the Lord.
See I am often my greatest critic and no one is tougher on me than myself. But if all I do is beat myself up and tell myself how worthless I am, I am heading down a road of discouragement and depression. But if all I do is tell myself how great and wonderful I am, that only leads to pride and arrogance.
So what am I to do?
Tell myself who I am in Christ and the difference Christ has made in my life. Rejoice in the grace of God and give thanks for His everlasting mercy! Tell yourself it is not all about you, but all about Him!
So what are you going to tell yourself today?
Ephesians 6:13 KJV — Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
There is a theme that carries through the latter half of Ephesians 6. It is the importance of standing as a Chrisitian. We are told who we are to stand against, we are told how we are to stand, but why are we to stand for the Lord.
There are many good answers to that question, but I think one of the answers is given to us in Ephesians 6:4.
Ephesians 6:4 KJV — And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
We all want our children and generations after them to stand for the Lord, and we should definitely be praying for them, but we must also make a stand that is observable to them. We must never forget that we lead by example.
What kind of example are you setting for those coming after you?
1 Samuel 1:6 KJV — And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
The story of Hannah and Samuel is one of great faith and prayer. But it also contains a more painful side, one that is also common in our life.
See her adversary in this account, is also the wife of Hannah's husband. Yet her attack is practically identical to the one Satan uses against us. Her desire was to make Hannah worry or fret.
Am I good enough for good?
Have I done enough?
Does the one thing I can't do, outweigh everything else I can do?
See Satan's desire is to question your ability in hopes to cause you to live in doubt and worry!
But God's desire is for you and I to live in peace, by placing complete trust in His ability and power!
Sometimes it can seem scary, but the greatest thing you and I can do, is place that item of worry into the hands that hold this universe!
1 Samuel 2:1 KJV — And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
We know that the Lord, on behalf of Hannah's consistent asking and desire gave her a son, one named Samuel.
Yet, when she begins to rejoice and praise the Lord, it isn't necessarily for who she has received from the Lord, but for who her Lord is and for who she is in the Lord!
Her rejoicing is tied to salvation. Matter of fact, when we rejoice and remember who we are in Christ, we too can have a mouth that is enlarged over our enemy. We don't have to sit quiet when accusations our hurled at by the enemy, we have an answer and it goes something like this...I'm saved!!!
I may not be perfect, but Christ is!
I may not always get it right, but Christ does!
I don't have any power, but Christ has all power!
I'm glad that I don't have the answer the enemy in my own knowledge or power, but because of my salvation, Christ will answer for me!
1 Samuel 4:21 KJV — And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
The story of Eli the priest, and his two sons Phineas and Hopni is a tragic one. Not only did they all die on the same day, but Israel lost a battle with the Philistines which had over 30,000 casualties, the Ark of God was stolen, and Phineas' son was given a discouraging name, Ichabod.
Yet, this tragic story had a start somewhere. There was the initial attitudes or actions that were not dealt with properly. Instead of practicing correction with his two boys, Eli just excused it or claimed ignorance, which just caused the situation to get worse.
As parent I must correct my children when they are wrong, because if I don't I will end up spoiling them and causing much greater damage down the road. Yet, just as important, I must desire to let the Lord keep me in check as well!
What good is correcting others if all they ever see is me bucking against the chastisement or throwing out lame excuses when I am in the wrong?
Lead by example in the areas of charity and courage, but don't forget about correction too!
1 Samuel 5:4 KJV — And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
What sight that must have been, the ark of God and the statue of Dagon right next to each other. The Philistines must have been proud of themselves, they had made the God of Israel just like their god, Dagon.
Yet, when they went back to check on it, they discovered the Ark was just fine, but thier god had been knocked down, and broke apart. Truth is whenever you try to compare the God of the Bible to any other false gods out there, this is what happens! Our God isn't just barely better than them, He is completely and totally better. He leaves every other false idol broken and defeated!
Thanks be to God that I am on the winning side of the winning God!
1 Samuel 6:12 KJV — And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh.
The Philistines had had enough of the Ark of God being in their possession. Not only had their god, Dagon been broken, but they were also suffering from a plague of emerods, which we commonly call today, hemorrhoids.
So they put the ark on cart, with an offering of golden mice statues and statutes that look like their hemorrhoids (not making that up), and just let the kine (cows) pull the Ark. If they went towards Bethshemesh, they would know that the God of Israel had done this, and if the cow went any other way it was all just random acts of chance.
Notice what the Bible says, "And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh..."
Why? God always goes in the right direction! Don't ever think for second that God will lose His sense of direction or moral compass! He is a thrice holy God, who always does the right thing! We just need to follow Him!
1 Samuel 7:16 KJV — And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
This verse is describing the circuit that Samuel took as he judged Israel. The same cities, the same route, year after year. How long did Samuel do this?
1 Samuel 7:15 KJV — And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
Have you felt like you are just in a rut. You are doing what you know to be right, in the right place, for the right reasons, but it just seems like it is the same thing over and over again.
But if you are doing what you have been commanded and commissioned to do, could I encourage you to just keep going and stay faithful.
There was a direct result from Samuel faithfulness...
1 Samuel 7:13 KJV — So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
And there will be direct results from your faithfulness to the Lord as well!
1 Samuel 8:7 KJV — And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
Samuel has given his whole life to the Lord and to the people of Israel. He has faithfully judged and pointed them in the right direction towards God. Now in his old age, those same people have decided that they want an earthly king like all the other nations of the world.
Samuel is heart-broken and hurt, he is trying to figure out what he has done, that has caused these people to want such a thing, especially since they already have a king, the God of Glory!
Yet, while praying to God, Samuel is told that they haven't rejected Samuel, rather they have rejected God. He wasn't to take it personal.
We must remember this truth when we are sharing the Gospel. Even when we with a heart full of love and compassion share the Gospel, we experience nasty responses and critical attitudes. Just remember it is not you they are rejecting but the Lord and his great gift of salvation.
So don't take it personal, keep praying for them and keep showing them the love of Christ, in the hopes that one day they will accept Him!
1 Samuel 8:11 KJV — And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
Before God was going to give Israel the earthly king they desired, He sent Samuel to warn them of what this king was going to do.
Over the next few verses, we see the word take used over and over again. This king was going to take all that was near and dear to them, but then again that is what the world will always do!
The world doesn't love you, the world doesn't care about you, the world isn't concerned about you! The world just wants to take from you!
Serve the Lord and Him alone! He isn't going to rob you, but when it is all said and done He will reward you, if you serve Him!
1 Samuel 9:15 KJV — Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,
In this chapter, Samuel the prophet and Saul the future king of Israel meet for the first time.
Saul hasn't made this journey with the thought of becoming king any where near his mind, he was just fetching the lost sheep of his father.
However, Samuel has a little insight, for the Lord has already told him, that Saul is on his way, and he is to be the next king of Israel.
Thankfully, we too can experience a little heads up from the Lord through His Word.
We may not always know the specifics, but the truths of God's Word gives us insight into the different matters of life.
So listen to His Word and let it give you a heads up!
1 Samuel 10:6 KJV — And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
Samuel has just anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Samuel has just laid out some very specific events that will take place in Saul's life including specific places, with specific people, who have specific items.
And then we come to verse 6, and it is a tremendous verse, and reminds of a great truth! When we get saved, and the Holy Spirit begins to dwell inside of us, we too become a another man, a changed man, a new man! The old passes away and behold all becomes new!
How exactly did God change Saul? It wasn't a physical change, for after this experience Saul still stood head and shoulders above all Israel in stature, but it was an inward change, a heart change!
1 Samuel 10:9 KJV — And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
I may look the same on the outside, but thanks be to God there has been a change on the inside!
Go tell somebody about the change that God has made in you!
1 Samuel 12:22 KJV — For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
Samuel didn't believe in sugar-coating anything, and if he had, he would not had been a prophet. He has just finished raking Israel over the coals for the desire and decision to have an earthly king reign over them, instead of just trusting in the Heavenly King, who had always provided and protected them.
But there are two sides to non-sugar coated truth. It can be 100% convicting but it can also be 100% comforting!
What truth is in the verse above, God will not forsake His people! And He may have been speaking to Israel here directly, but He has made that very same promise to us as believers!
Hebrews 13:5 KJV — 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.
My God Is Faithful!!!
1 Samuel 13:12 KJV — Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
Fear is a real emotion, one that will find its way into our lives at some point or another.
Fear is a terrible motivator, for if we only act when we are afraid, we will find ourselves acting in desperation, much like Saul did here. We will feel like we are forced to make a certain decision or even if we know something isn't right, we have to choose it.
Had Saul just waited, and trusted in the Lord, his life may have been completely different from this point forward.
Just remember when you and I take matters into our own hands, we are taking them out of God's hands so to speak. Just because you can't see the way, doesn't mean that there isn't one!
Calm down and trust Him!
He not only knows what is best, but when is best too!
1 Samuel 15:9 KJV — But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Prior to this verse Saul had been instructed by Samuel to destroy everything of the Amalakites. Not to leave anything. Yet, after the battle, they destroyed all the "vile" things, but kept to themselves so of the things that they deemed "good".
The problem with all of this was that, all those good things were directly tied to disobedience. Just because we deem something to be good, doesn't mean it is actually good. Furthermore, just because something is good, doesn't mean that the Lord wants us to pursue after it.
The right thing to do is to obey, because you might be able to get a good thing of your own, but you will be negating the best thing that the Lord has waiting on you!
Why sell out the best thing for a good thing?
1 Samuel 15:23 KJV — For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Witchcraft and idolatry, when was the last time you participated in those? You might be able to say that you have never dabbled in the occult or bowed down to image of a false god, but what about the other two sins mentioned in this verse?
Rebellion - doing that which you are not supposed to do
Stubbornness - not wanting to do what you are supposed to be doing
See Saul, hadn't worshipped the gods of those he conquer or participated in the demonic methods of religion. He had just been rebellious and stubborn.
And for that he lost the kingdom, because every sin has a consequence!
I don't know where you heart is this morning, but if you are hanging out around rebellion and stubbornness, I would definitely deal with it before it gets any worse.
1 Samuel 16:18 KJV — Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.
Saul wants someone to play harp for him, his advisors tell him about a young man, who was David, who would fit the bill perfectly. I like the accolades they give to David.
He's a great musician...
He's a man of great Valor...
He's a man of war...
He's prudent and comely...
He has the LORD with him...
What is interesting to me is that all the things that we love about David are evident in his life long before he ever becomes king of Israel.
See, the spot light does not make you somebody else, but rather it exposes who you already are!
So instead of waiting on a promotion to become something for God, become who He wants you to be now and just let the Lord promote and place you in the appropriate spot!
Psalm 78:70 KJV — He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
1 Samuel 17:3 KJV — And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.
If you know the Bible, then you know that this chapter is the great battle between David and Goliath. It were we see the power of God on display, and the courageous act of faith on David's part. It has inspired millions and is still very applicable today.
But none of it would have happened if someone wasn't willing to go through valley, and not just go through it, but fight while they were there.
If your like me, you know the necessity of the valley, but you just want to go through it a fast as possible without any problems.
But just remember some of the greatest victories come at the lowest moments. Not only did David defeat Goliath, but Israel triumphed over the Philistines, and God got the glory for it!
Sometimes the question isn't just if you will be willing to fight but if you will be willing to go to the valley first.
1 Samuel 18:9 KJV — And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
Envy and jealousy is a dangerous thing, because it takes our focus off the most important person in our life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet, the longer Saul kept his eye on David, the worse his attitude and actions got. He tried to kill him with a spear and even sent him on suicide mission. But none of it worked out like he planned, David just wouldn't falter.
Jealously and envy never makes you the better person and never works out for your betterment.
Keeps your focus off the person you have deemed your enemy, and keep it fixed on Jesus, He will keep you satisfied!
1 Samuel 20:27 KJV — And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day?
Jealousy or envy are never good things, and they never produce anything Godly or good in our lives. But how do we know we are in its clutches?
Typically, it is when we see that specific individual that those feeling begin to flare up, but if we don't deal with it properly it will grow, to the point that that person will bother us even when they aren't around.
Talk about misery, and that is exactly where Satan wants you to live, but you don't have to, go to the Lord and bring it before Him, and go as many times as it takes, because you do not want to live in the land of jealousy and envy!
1 Samuel 22:2 KJV — And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
That verse is telling us about the kind of men, who were beginning to gather themselves around David.
They sound like a bunch of winners don't they!
Distress - dire straits
Debt - financially strained
Discontented - angry to the point of bitterness
Just the kind of men I want fighting with and for me, right?
But some of these men would later be known as mighty men and men of valor.
Aren't you glad the King didn't leave you the way He found you when you came to Him?
I didn't come to Jesus as one who was worthy or perfect, but glory to His Name, He is perfecting me! I'm glad that He is still working on me!
1 Samuel 26:25 KJV — Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
David by now has had the opportunity to take out Saul twice. Neither time has he taken advantage of that possibility.
Not only did these situations present themselves to David, but they were also accompanied by the support of his men. He was encouraged both times to take Saul's life, end his reign, and take over as the next king of Israel.
But David didn't take the bait, he knew that he was the Lord's anointed, but he was willing to wait on the Lord's timing.
It wasn't his place nor responsibility to take Saul out of the picture, it was the Lord's and David was willing to just wait for his timing, because the Lord's timing is perfect!
There are no good promises when we take matters into our own hands, but there are when we wait upon the Lord!
Isaiah 40:31 KJV — But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
1 Samuel 28:8 KJV — And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
Saul, had a great opportunity to be a great king of Israel, but because of his own choices, he made a mess of it, and even to this day, we mention him with some apprehension and discouragement.
One of the things that I have noticed about Saul is he lacked the desire to hold himself accountable to his own laws or edicts. In this very chapter he has outlawed the practice of witchcraft in all of Israel, but in a moment of desperation, he finds himself in front of the witch of Endor, asking her to call up a spirit.
We love to hold those above us to a higher standard, but in actuality the person we should hold to the highest standard, is ourself! If I say it is wrong for everybody else, or if I believe everybody else should be doing it, then I need to make sure I'm aligning and acting properly myself!
We know how Saul died, he fell on his own sword, and we will fall on our own too, so to speak, if we continue to live a hypocritical lifestyle as well.
Live and lead by example, not just edict!
1 Samuel 30:6 KJV — 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.
David and his men have returned to Ziklag, to find it destroyed and all their loved ones missing. Their wives and children had been captured by the Amalekites. Not only that but now David's men are beginning to consider the thought of stoning David. Some of the very things that had brought encouragement to David, were now gone.
Yet David, didn't give up and just succumb to his conditions, he encouraged himself in the Lord! When he seemingly didn't have anything, he had everything he needed on the Lord!
What that encouragement sounded like or looked like, I'm not entirely sure, but it made a difference! David went to the Lord for guidance, was willing to fight through the night, and was able to recover all!
We cannot always count on the encouragement of others, but there is one who, if you would just spend some time with Him, you will gain some encouragement that will not quickly fizzle out.
Today would be a great day to go encourage yourself in the Lord!
1 Samuel 31:5 KJV — And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
Often times we go through life, and forget just how much of an impact we have on those around us. We have to remind ourselves that there is always somebody watching and learning from us.
Saul had given up and taken his own life on the battlefield. He look around and could see no reason to continue on, his sons were dead, his army was decimated, and the enemy was nearing him. What was there left to fight for?
Yet, because of his example, when Saul's armourbearer was put into a similar situation he just followed Saul's example, and fell on his own sword.
Why is it so vital that I set the right example? One it is the right thing to do, but it also points those who are looking up to me in the right direction!
Even when it looks hopeless...do right!
2 Samuel 1:17 KJV — And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
By now we know that Saul and David had quite the relationship. Saul was constantly pursuing David, in the hopes of taking him out and keeping him from taking over the throne.
But now Saul is dead, and not able to defend himself, the door is wide open for David to say anything he wants about Saul, and he could have easily just stated the facts about their relationship, and swayed the people's opinion about Saul.
But he didn't, he genuinely grieved the death Saul, and his son Jonathan. Why? Saul was the first anointed king of Israel
and David respected him for his position and the role he played in David's life. Plus he had made a promise to Jonathan, that he would do no ill will to Jonathan or his family.
We should never let the desire to get even, outweigh the choice to be decent and respectable. David wasn't going to win over Israel by being petty and disrespectful. Be honorable and the Lord will promote you in due season! Just think when we talk about the greatest king of Israel, who comes to mind first? For me it is David!
2 Samuel 3:29 KJV — Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father's house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth on the sword, or that lacketh bread.
Joab has just killed Abner in revenge. Right before this Abner had killed Joab's brother Asahel. Joab have could have easily justified this killing, and that he was exacting payback. You know an "eye for an eye" mentality.
But when Joab tells David what he has done, David doesn't congratulate, but instead rebukes him, and issues this curse over not just Joab but his entire house or family.
This is why we don't pursue revenge by our hands, we may take out our intended target, but we drag those around us into something they never needed to be part of in the first place.
It is always best to let the Lord have His way, especially when it come to vengeance. He will not only stick up for you, but He will properly judge and deal with those who come against you!
Romans 12:19 KJV — Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
2 Samuel 4:8 KJV — And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the LORD hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.
Two men, Rechab an Baanah, have carried out the assassination of Ishbosheth, one of the remaining sons of Saul. They behead him, and take his head back to David. They can't wait to show the new king, just what they have done, and can't wait to hear his praise!
Except when they show up, David doesn't congratulate them or promote them, he scolds them and condemns them to death.
They were trying to establish the will of God, by worldly means. God had anointed, appointed, and would establish David as king over all of Israel. These two brothers were acting like the heathen, when a new king comes into power and wipes out the previous rulers entire family.
David doesn't buy into the popular opinion of his relationship with Saul, but rather allows the promise he made with Jonathan to guide and direct is attitude and decisions toward Saul and his family.
Be careful what you condone, because if David would have celebrated this, there would have been more unnecessary death, blood shed, pain, and suffering.