April 19; He Has Done It

Psalms 13, 17, 22, 54; I Samuel 24

My one year chronological Bible had me reading Psalm 22 today. Today is Good Friday. Today is the day we remember and celebrate the cross. Jesus was crucified on the Friday of Passover, and that would be today. Of course April 19 is not always Good Friday. But it is today in 2019. And reading Psalm 22 on this Good Friday touched me deeply.

Psalm 22 is not just another psalm. It describes, in amazing detail exactly what we celebrate today. It starts out like this:

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Those are the very words Jesus spoke from the cross hundreds of years after David wrote them down. Now, some might say it’s no big deal that Jesus quoted Scripture from the cross. He quoted Scripture all the time.

But in verse 8 David tells us things that would be said about and to Jesus. Do you think Jesus’ enemies were quoting Scripture when they mocked him? They were trying to disprove His claims to be the Son of God. I doubt they’d pick a verse to quote that might support His claim.

And don’t even try to tell me the Romans studied Psalm 22, then crucified Jesus accordingly. Read verses 16-18. The piercings, the intact bones, the gambling at the foot of the cross. Those things happened just like God said through David. It is truly amazing. Crucification wasn’t even a thing when David wrote this psalm.

What we celebrate on Good Friday isn’t just a story about a nice guy being killed for something he didn’t do. It’s not a tragedy concocted in someone’s imagination. A real person named Jesus was nailed to a cross. He suffered a painful death. And all the time He was – and is – God. Holy. Blameless. Guiltless. Willing.

I hope you’ll take time to read Psalm 22, then turn over and read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucification today. He did that for you. And when your sin debt was paid, he said, “It is finished.” Paid in full.

If you haven’t accepted Jesus gift of forgiveness, what better time to do that than on Good Friday – the day we remember and celebrate the cross? He has done it.

For you.

 

April 18; Don’t Just Stand There

I Samuel 22:6-23:29; Psalms 52, 109

Do you remember when, earlier in Saul’s reign as King of Israel, he couldn’t bring himself to kill all the Amalekites, even though God told him to? We read about that in I Samuel 15. God had told Saul to destroy the Amalekites, let no one live including women and children. Saul killed many, but not all. And remember, the Amalekites were the enemy of Israel and of God. Who knows how many guilty people were allowed to live on?

Now we see Saul mad at a priest for helping David, who Saul considered his enemy. So Saul condemns the priest to death. Then, inconceivably, Saul ordered that all the priests be killed. Eighty-five men were to die that day – and they were no one’s enemy! In fact, these were men who served God.

It doesn’t stop there. Saul then ordered that the wives and children of these priests be killed. He gave the same order to his men that God had given him earlier. “Let no one live.” The King’s officials couldn’t bring themselves to do it. But they didn’t stop it when someone else stepped up and began to murder all those people, either. A whole city of innocents was put to the sword that day, by the order of Saul.

How could he let the ungodly Amalekites live, and then wipe out the people of God?

I wonder. If the Amalekites represent sin, and the priests represent holiness, can’t we ask the same thing of ourselves? Maybe we aren’t the ones who are preaching and teaching partial truths. Maybe we don’t agree with the contemporary definition of sin, the tolerance of sin in our churches, the blatant disregard for God’s law.

But are we, like the king’s officials, watching while holiness is being destroyed right in front of us? Do we shake our heads, maybe shed a tear, yet continue to stand there and do nothing to stop it?

What can one person do, you might ask? I’m sure most of us reading this post today don’t want to see evil continue to wield its sword. But most of us feel helpless to stop this avalanche.

And I don’t think God expects us to single-handedly. But I also don’t think he expects us to do nothing. Are you praying? Are you getting involved in civic affairs, volunteering in God-honoring work in your neighborhoods? Are you voting? Are you going to church, talking to people about Jesus, living your life in such a way that you stand out from the crowd? Are you holding your pastors and teachers accountable to speak only the Truth of Scripture?

I don’t know what God has laid on your heart about fighting His enemy. But I know for sure if you are His child through the blood of His Son Jesus, He is prompting you to do something. You can either stand there and watch as God is being attacked, or you can get involved in the battle.

You are going to make that choice today. Just know that just standing there and watching is making a choice against God.

Don’t just stand there.

 

 

April 17; Expectation

Psalms 5,34,59,133; I Samuel 21:1-15, 22:1-5; I Chronicles 12:8-18

How is your prayer life? I have some dear friends who are true prayer warriors. They can pray for hours at a time, and to hear them pray out loud is like overhearing a conversation between intimate friends. No flowery words. Just heart-felt communication between them and God.

I’ve confessed that I struggle with my prayer life. I want to be a warrior. But I continually fall short. Oh, I pray. Sometimes hundreds of times a day as God brings someone or something to mind. But I have never prayed for hours at a time. I run out of things to say. My mind goes to things I should be doing. I’m a work in progress.

But this morning I feel like God has lifted a bit of the guilt I’ve carried about that. He seems to be pointing me to how I pray – not how long I pray. The question comes to mind, “Do you really believe I will hear and answer your prayers, Connie? Do you trust me?”

David was one that could pour his heart out to God, to lay it all out there, and trust God with the answers. David prayed for specific requests concerning life events. He prayed prayers of confession, and often on behalf of the people. Sometimes David prayed the same request more than once.

But I think what I noticed today is David’s faith. He presented his requests to God, then left them there. I love Psalm 5:3.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

David didn’t just wait for God to answer his prayers. He waited expectantly. Every day.

So here’s what I’m thinking: Instead of beating myself up for the lack of discipline, or the length of my prayers, I’m going to pray about the things God lays on my heart. I want Him to hear my voice every morning. And then, I want to look for the answers to my prayers throughout the day, expecting the evidence to be there.

If you are one who has a disciplined prayer life, please pray on. We need your prayers. And I hope one day to join you in that kind of praying. But for now God is going to hear my voice every morning, without me looking at a clock. And then I will wait in expectation for Him to answer.

April 16; Practical Faith

I Samuel 18-20

David had faith in God, and God blessed him. The Bible tells us everything King Saul gave David to do, he did it exceedingly well. God’s Presence in David’s life was obvious.

But here’s what dawned on me today about David’s faith. Having faith in God didn’t require David to check his common sense at the door. David’s faith in God didn’t assume God’s will would be done without David’s cooperation. David had what I believe was a practical faith that pleased God. Now before you think I’m blaspheming, hear me out.

David seems to have realized God can use the people in our lives to help us along the way. We see how often Jonathan, the son of David’s sworn enemy, helped David, kept him out of harm’s way, spoke up for him and tried to get Saul to reconcile with David. We don’t read where David ever said, “No, that’s ok, Jonathan. God’s got this.”

We see how David’s wife, Saul’s daughter, lowered him out of a window in their home, so he could escape Saul’s men who were coming to get him. We see how Samuel, at risk of his own life, stood by David, even though his heart may have been a bit drawn to Saul. But Samuel didn’t waiver in his support of David, God’s Anointed. And we don’t see David turning down the help from either one of them.

I believe Scripture teaches us that allowing other people to lend a hand, doesn’t indicate lack of faith. In fact, other people might be the answer to our prayers of faith. God created us to have relationships – first with Him – then with others. Having faith doesn’t mean we ignore those relationships, thinking we will just let God do His thing.

Maybe God wants to do His thing through people close to us.

Let me say here and now: I have faith in God. I trust Him as completely as this mortal can trust. But I need you, too.

Some of you who read this blog are friends of mine right here on the island. Some of you are family who I love so much. Others are people I’ve crossed paths with over the years, and who hold a special place in my heart. Still others of you I’ve never met, except through this cyber-word of ours.

God is reminding me I need every one of you if I am to accomplish His work in me. I need you to hold me accountable, to encourage or scold me. I need you to stand beside me or push me. I might need you to fight my enemy alongside of me, or simply revel in God’s goodness with me.

I need you.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith in God. It’s that I have faith that God will use you to be His voice, His arms, His wisdom so that I will grow into the woman He wants me to be. Thank you to so many of you for being exactly that in my life on so many occasions.

Can God accomplish His will with or without us? Of course He could. But I think His will is that each one of us recognize our roll in His will being done. I think that’s the practical side of faith. And I honestly believe it honors God. Let’s, all of us, be sensitive to God’s leading when one of His children could use a hand. Let’s be a Jonathan, a Michal, or a Samuel for each other when the need arises.

And the need will arise. Common sense tells me none of us have it all together all the time. Isn’t it good to think someone will allow themselves to be an answer to our prayers, and give us a hand during those times? Isn’t it a privilege to be that someone for someone else?

 

April 15; Why Not Now?

I Samuel 17

David had been a shepherd, caring for his father’s sheep and protecting them from wild animals. One day a lion appeared, ready to attack David’s flock. David attacked and killed the lion instead.

Another day a bear came to attack the sheep. David attacked and killed the bear. David killed a lion and a bear with his bear hands.

Now let’s think about that for a minute. He was most likely alone in the desert. There was no one to witness his heroics. Had he gone home and told his dad that a lion and a bear had killed a few of the sheep, his dad would probably have understood. I’m not sure those things even crossed David’s mind.

Most likely he had been sitting there under the stars, playing his harp and singing praises to God. But when the challenge presented itself, when the threat was real, he got up and did what he did. He fought and defeat the enemy beasts.

Now David is in the Israelite camp. His dad had sent him on an errand. David certainly wasn’t looking for a fight. He wasn’t expecting to face a giant. But when he listened to Goliath threaten the Israelite army, and disrespect the Israelite God, David went into attack mode.

God had been faithful in the past. Why not now?

I don’t know what challenges you have faced in the past. I don’t know the times you have seen God work in your life, how He has proven Himself faithful to you when you’ve gone through those valleys we all go through at some time or another.

And I don’t know what you are going to face today. But if you’ve walked with God for any time at all, I know you know He is able to give you a victory when you need one. I know you know He is not threatened by Satan’s attack, and He is able to help you do what you need to do to fight him and win.

God has been faithful in the past. Why not now?

April 14; All That

I Chronicles 9:35-44, 5:7-10, 18-22; I Samuel 15-16

Do you remember where Saul was the day Samuel came to anoint him King of Israel? They found him hiding behind some crates. Doesn’t exactly exude confidence, does it? But that reluctant king was blessed by God, and became a mighty warrior, a leader who inspired loyalty. Under his leadership, Israel enjoyed many victories in battle, and Saul’s army was feared among the nations.

Saul didn’t remain a reluctant hero. The change that came over him is noteworthy. He was no longer a trembling young man hiding from responsibility. He was king! In fact, he was so pleased with himself as king, “he built a monument in his own honor.” You can’t make this stuff up.

But Saul’s monument was just a symptom of what was really wrong. Saul had begun to believe he was “all that.” He thought he could skirt around God’s demands, and God would be ok with it. After all, he was King Saul. And everybody loved him.

Did Saul believe Satan’s original lie in the garden when the serpent said, “You will be like God?” Could Saul really have put himself on equal footing with God? It would appear so. And we will read how that turns out for Saul.

Let this be a warning to all of us. Sometimes our times of great blessing also brings the times of greatest temptation. Sometimes when we are “blessed” by God we might expect blessings, think we deserve blessings, flaunt our blessings. The temptation is there to think we don’t need God when things are going well. And maybe we begin to believe that we are “all that,” too, when people remind us how awesome our lives are, and how great we are.

Dear one, we need God in every and all situations. We need to obey God, humble ourselves before God, empty ourselves of our selves. The truth of the matter is, no matter how rosy your life is right now, you aren’t – none of us are – “all that.”

But God is.

April 13; How Much Better Would It Be?

I Samuel 13:24-14-52; I Chronicles 8:1-9

The Israelites were at war, and God gave them one victory after another. Saul had tunnel vision, which probably isn’t really a bad thing for a leader. But what I see here is that Saul’s tunnel vision had him wanting to defeat the enemy, without caring for the fighting men who were putting their lives on the line. The Bible tells us Saul was so intent on winning, he threw out an oath and cursed anyone who ate anything until he had “avenged himself on (his) enemies.”

“Fight!” he seems to say. “Attack and kill! And don’t you dare stop even long enough to eat anything until I have the victory.”

The Bible says the men were in distress because of it. I love what Jonathan said when he heard what his dad had demanded of them. In effect, Johnathan replied,

“That’s just stupid.”

Just a taste of honey made a noticeable difference in Johnathan’s appearance and strength. How much better would an entire meal be?

We are at war with our enemy Satan. And I wonder if some of us aren’t fighting one battle after another without stopping to feed our souls. We neglect our private time with the Bread of Life. We don’t drink from the Living Water when we don’t pray, when we don’t meditate on His Word.

Yet we’re out there fighting Satan, weak as we are. Johnathan asked, “How much better would it have been if the fighting men had stopped to eat…?” I’m asking the same thing of us.

How much better would our day be, how much more decisive would our victory be, if we’d take on every day, every battle, not in our own strength – but in the strength of the Lord? Thinking we can fight Satan without a nourished soul is, in effect just… well…

stupid.