PRIDE AND FOOLISHNESS

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 14:24-46

“Then Jonathan said, ‘My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little honey? How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.'” (I Samuel 14:29,30)

This is an account of how prideful and foolish Saul could be at times. He placed the people under a rash oath — “And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenging my enemies'” (v. 24). The oath was about Saul who wanted to be avenged on account of his enemies. He was filled with pride and abused his power. He jeopardized the well being of his people, including his son Jonathan.

Jonathan had not heard about the oath and he violated it by eating some honey he found — “But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright” (v. 27).

The people needed nourishment after the battle with the Philistines. Jonathan recognized how foolish his father had acted. Because of his foolish pride, Saul failed to get a total victory over the Philistines. He put his people at risk and his actions almost cost him the death of his son. The people defended Jonathan and ransomed him from the penalty of death (vs. 45,46).

All of us struggle with pride. All of us act foolishly at times. We must heed God’s warning to us — “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). Remember that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Lord God, forgive me for my pride. I think more highly of myself than I should and I fail to live humbly before You and others. I acknowledge the foolish things I do at times. I know that You have called me to a life of humility and service following the example of Your Son Jesus. Give me grace to humble myself under Your mighty hand and to seek Your will above all else.

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NOTHING CAN HINDER THE LORD

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 14:1-23

“Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.'” (I Samuel 14:6)

Jonathan, Saul’s son, was a man of faith. In one of the encounters with the Philistines, Jonathan believed God would deliver His people from their hands. So Jonathan and his armor bearer plotted to defeat the Philistines (v. 1). Jonathan believed that the Lord could save by many or by few (v. 6). His trust was in the Lord and not in his cleverness or power. He stepped out in faith even though the odds were greatly against him. God used Jonathan’s attack along with a divinely appointed earthquake to bring about confusion among the Philistines (vs. 13-15).

Saul and his men rallied and came to the battle (vs. 16-20). The other Israelites who had hidden from the Philistines gained courage and joined in as well (v. 22). The Lord delivered His people that day — “So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-haven” (v. 23).

I wonder sometimes if I trust the Lord enough? I wonder if I really believe that nothing can hinder Him? I know that He is all powerful in my head, but there are times when it seems the odds are against me, and I doubt His power to deliver me. I certainly should know better, for I have seen His powerful hand at work in my life time and time again.

This passage has really helped me as I am facing a tremendous challenge in my ministry. The odds are against our success, but will we believe that God is able to provide, that nothing can hinder Him? I have to redirect my faith from my own efforts and turn them to the Lord alone. I know that He can give me the victory, for nothing can hinder the Lord!

All Powerful Lord, I know that nothing can hinder You. You are able to do exceedingly more than I can ask or think. Enable me to trust You. Give me the grace to look in faith to You to accomplish things that seem impossible to me.

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A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 13:8-12

“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (I Samuel 13:14)

Saul failed to be a man after God’s own heart. But David is later described as this kind of man — “I have found David the Son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do my will” (Acts 13:22). What does such a person look like? We can learn from Saul, David, and the greater David, Jesus Christ.

First, a man (woman) after God’s own heart acknowledges the will of God as supreme in his (her) life. Our Lord Jesus demonstrated this. Remember His prayer in Gethsemane — “Not My will, but Thine be done.” Our desire should always be what God’s wants for us. We should seek His will in everything we do.

Second, a man (woman) after God’s own heart seeks to be obedient to the Word of God. Saul failed to obey God (13:14) and he suffered consequences — “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.” David is described as a man who will do God’s will –“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do My will” (Acts 13:22). With the help of the Holy Spirit, we should seek to be obedient to all that God has revealed in His Word. Obedience flows from our love for Christ — “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

Third, a man (woman) after God’s own heart is devoted to honor and to love God from the heart. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind (Luke 10:27). We are to be deeply in love with Jesus.

Fourth, a man (woman) after God’s own heart realizes that he (she) is dependent on God for success. Saul depended upon himself, his abilities and power. David was different. He trusted the Lord for he knew that the Lord was his rock and fortress.

Heavenly Father, I want to be a man after Your own heart. I know I fail miserably at times, but my desire is to put You first in my life. Give me the desire and the power to obey Your Word and to honor and love You with all my heart. I know how dependent I am upon You. Let me seek after Your heart above all else.

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THE DANGER OF EXPEDIENCY

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 13:1-15

“So Saul said, ‘Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.’ And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, ‘What have you done?'” (I Samuel 13:9-11a)

The Philistines had rallied their forces and threatened the Hebrews (v. 5). The Hebrews acted like cowards (vs. 6,7) and began to scatter. Those who were with Saul trembled in fear. And thus Saul took matters into his own hands. He acted out of expediency when he disobeyed God and offered the burnt offering.

Samuel had given Saul clear instructions — “Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait until I come to you and show you what you shall do” (10:8).

Saul set aside the clear command of God and acted expeditiously. When Samuel was delayed, Saul took it upon himself to offer sacrifices. This was strictly forbidden by God’s law. Saul did it anyway.

When Samuel arrived, he rebuked Saul and told him the consequences of his actions — “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what he Lord commanded you” (v. 14).

Saul made excuses for his actions — “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against us at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering” (vs. 11,12).

Saul willfully disobeyed a plain command of God. He acted out of human expediency rather than trusting God and obeying Him. It is so easy for us to compromise and do the same thing. Obeying God and waiting on Him may be difficult at times, but these are always the right things to do.

Lord God, forgive me when I take matters into my own hands and act out of expediency rather than waiting on You. I am a fixer and want to take charge and get things done. Teach me the virtue of patience and give me a heart that desires to obey You.

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GREAT THINGS HE HATH DONE!

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 12:19-25

“Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.” (I Samuel 12:24)

When I read this verse, the second part of it grabbed my attention — “For consider what great things He has done for you.” When I look back over my life, I see God’s hand at work over and over again. He has protected me so many times. He has always provided what I needed. He has blessed me in so many ways. He has done so many great things for me.

Even during the darkest times in my life, I have seen the Lord at work. There are things that I have faced that I did not like and that I wish had been different, but none-the-less I know God used them for my good and for His glory. One of the verses that I have held on to during times of adversity is Ephesians 1:11 — “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined accruing to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” When I consider the sovereignty of God, I find great peace, for I know He is in control of all things.

Of course, the greatest thing God has done for me is the provision of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. When I consider what Jesus did for me, I am overwhelmed with wonder, praise and love. The writer to the Hebrews put it this way — “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3).

The refrain of Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “To God Be the Glory,” sums it up — “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory — great things He hath done!”

Gracious and generous Lord, I am so grateful for all the great things You have done for me. You have blessed me with a wonderful family. You have blessed the ministries I have been involved in. You have always provided what I needed. Lord Jesus, when I consider what You endured for me, I am overwhelmed with Your love for me. Indeed, You have done great things for me.

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THE SIN OF PRAYERLESSNESS

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 12:19-25

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” (I Samuel 12:23)

I don’t think that I have recognized that failing to pray for those we love and serve is a sin against the Lord. It makes sense now that I think about it. When parents have their children baptized, they promise God that the will pray with and for their children and do all they can to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Failing to do so is a sin against God.

No matter how young or old they are, parents must pray diligently for their children. We must pray for their physical well being and for their safety. But we must also pray all the more for their spiritual health, for their walk with God. It concerns me greatly when I consider what my children and grandchildren will face in these spiritually dark times. We must pray that they become rooted and grounded in God’s love and that they walk in line with the truth of the gospel.

Samuel also said, “And I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” We must teach our children the ways of the Lord — “the good and the right way.” The greatest way we teach them is by the example we set before them. Do they see us serious about our faith? Do they see us in prayer and in meditation over the Scriptures? Do they see us being consistent in worship and in fellowship with other believers?

Our teaching must be more than by example; we must also equip our children to know how to study and to meditate upon God’s Word. We must show them how to apply the gospel to every aspect of their lives. The Psalmist wrote — “He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope on God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:5-7).

Samuel knew the Lord wanted him to pray for his spiritual children, the people of Israel. He knew that failing to pray for them was a sin against God. We parents have a tremendous privilege and responsibility to pray for our children and to instruct them in the good and the right way. Failing to do so is a sin against God.

Lord God, let me never fail to bring my children and grandchildren before You in prayer every day. I pray for each of them by name and ask Your greatest blessings upon their lives. I pray for protection and I pray for their spiritual growth. May they be rooted and grounded in Your love. Keep them ever close to You and give them the desire and power to walk with You.

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THE LORD’S OWN POSSESSION

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 12:19-25

“For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself.” (I Samuel 12:22)

Do you realize that you belong to the Lord? He has made you for Himself. It pleased Him to make you His son or daughter — “But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1). God not only created us for Himself, but He also redeemed us and made us His own. He paid a tremendous price for us — the death of His Son.

In eternity past God chose you to be His own — “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:4,5). Long before He created the universe, God had you and me in His mind. We became the special objects of His love and He was determined to bring us into His family.

Peter reminds us who we are — “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:9,10).

Whenever you get down on yourself and question your value, remember these words — “It has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself.”

Heavenly Father, I do not understand why You chose me to be one of Your children. I know how unworthy I am for You to set Your love on me. Thank You for making me Your own. I know it cost You dearly to do so, for You redeemed me by the blood of Your Son. Thank You for adopting me into Your family and lavishing Your love upon me. I know that I belong to You.

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NEVER FORSAKEN

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 12:19-25

“For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself.” (I Samuel 12:22)

One of the most assuring doctrines of our faith is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. The Westminster Confession of Faith defines the doctrine as — “They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved” (Westminster Confession of Faith XXII:1).

God will keep us to the end. His love is a relentless love that will never let us go. Once He has made us His people, nothing can separate us from His love — “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).

We are eternally safe in the hands of our Savior, for He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

God made a promise to us — “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). We have nothing to fear for God is with us every step we make and He will provide for us and protect us.

Take comfort! God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are safe in the hands of Jesus. He will never let you go, for nothing can separate you from His love.

Lord Jesus, thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for Your promise that I am safe in Your hands and that no one can snatch me out of them. Thank You for Your love, a love that is relentless and will not let me go. Thank You for the eternal security I have in You.

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TURNING ASIDE AFTER EMPTY THINGS

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 12:19-25

“And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (I Samuel 12:21)

God knows us well. He knows our tendency to turn away from Him and to chase after vain things that will never give us true satisfaction and fulfillment. Samuel exhorted God’s people not to “turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” This exhortation is for all of us.

Jesus Christ alone can bring true contentment in our lives — “For in Christ lives the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ” (Colossians 2:9,10). You and I are complete in Christ and we can find true satisfaction and fulfillment through our relationship with Him.

The real problem is that we often try to find satisfaction and fulfillment in other ways. We try to find them in other relationships, in our possessions, in our search for pleasure, in our jobs and the list could go on and on. When we do not find contentment in these things, we become frustrated and fearful. Fear can paralyze our lives and rob us of the joy and peace God wants us to have.

All human beings have a deep need to find security and significance. When we try to meet these needs through any other means than Jesus, we will be disappointed. All other means are empty for they cannot profit or deliver.

The message of the gospel is that our need of security and significance can only be fulfilled in a relationship with Jesus Christ — “So you also are complete (satisfied, fulfilled, made whole) through your union with Christ.” We are secure through Him because we are accepted by Him just the way we are. And, we are significant through Him because we are lavishly loved by Him. He loves us unconditionally, sacrificially, and eternally.

Let’s heed to Samuel’s warning — “And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.”

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I turn aside and go after empty things that do not profit or deliver. I know that I am complete in You. But I often forget this truth and go after other things. I know that I am secure in You because You redeemed me with Your precious blood and I know that I am significant because you have lavished Your love upon me.

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THE GOD OF SECOND CHANCES

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 12

“And Samuel said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.'” (I Samuel 12:20)

Samuel confronted the people with their sin and the sins of their ancestors (vs. 6-13). Remember that these people had rejected God as their king and had demanded a king like the nations around them. God could have easily rejected the people, but He did not, for He is the God of second chances. In fact He is the God of third, fourth, tenth, hundredth chances!

The people admitted their sin — “And all the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king” (v. 19). Once they repented, Samuel offered them hope — “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (v. 20).

Here is the grace and mercy of God in action! The people deserved to die, but God gave them another chance. This is the nature of our Lord. He grants forgiveness when we repent and He gives us new opportunities to follow and to serve Him. Indeed, His mercies are new every morning –“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22,23).

Have you failed the Lord? Do you have regrets in your life? Of course you have. We all have failed Him and we all have regrets. But the Lord doesn’t give up on us for His mercies never cease.

Lord God, thank You that You do not reject me when I fail You. Because of the Lord Jesus, You forgive me time and time again. Thank you that You are the God of second, third, tenth, hundredth chances. Indeed Your love never ceases. Great is Your faithfulness!

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