Saturday, June 24, 2017

PRIDE, JEALOUSY AND FEAR



I Sam. 18:6-9 But something happened when the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed Goliath. Women cane out from all the towns along the way to celebrate and to cheer for King Saul, and they sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”  This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they will be making him king!”  So from that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

       King Saul had a lot of problems. He had an ego that was out of hand. He was king of Israel and he thought he should get the glory. He didn’t want to share with anyone the adoration of his people. He believed he should get the most credit for the successes of his army.

        Saul also had a problem with jealousy. He was not given the praise that David did and he wanted it. He took offense that someone else would be deemed more deserving of praise than him. He was not willing to let David get more praise than he did.

       Saul’s ego and jealousy led him to fear. He became afraid that David would become so popular with the people that he would become king instead of him. Saul became afraid of losing his popularity and position amongst the people.

       All kind of things happen to us when we put ourselves on a pedestal and think we deserve to be there. We are sinful by nature and we are easily persuaded that we are someone we are not. In order to keep our hearts and minds right before God, we need to always measure ourselves by His standards. We must always remember we are who we are and what we are by God’s grace and not our doings. We must never forget that we don’t deserve the adoration of others. We don’t deserve the blessings we have been given in life. We are merely vessels the Lord chooses to use for His glory. Some are given more visible roles to play in the Kingdom than others. But, with visibility comes greater responsibility. It is much harder to maintain integrity of heart before God when you are being watched by many. We must guard our hearts and not let pride, jealousy, or envy rob us of the joy of serving the Lord.

      It is a privilege to be used by the Lord to let His light shine in the world. Let us never squelch our light by letting our sinful nature deceive us into thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

LET THE LORD HELP YOU



I Sam. 17:45  David shouted in reply, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty—the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied…..”

      David was a young shepherd boy, not big enough or old enough to yet serve in the army.  The Israelites were in a face-off with the Philistines who were threatening them.  Goliath was a giant who represented the Philistines.  He daily taunted the Israelites, challenging them to provide someone willing to fight him in a hand-to-hand combat.  Whoever would win the contest would determine the fate of the armies.  No one was big enough or brave enough to answer the challenge of Goliath, except David.  He was on the scene visiting his brothers and heard Goliath’s daily taunts.  He was not a soldier, but he was a young lad who was sold out to God and could no longer tolerate the mockeries of Goliath against God and His people.  David went out to fight Goliath with the resources he had---his faith in God, five smooth stones, and his slingshot.  It was enough.  Because David had the Lord on his side, he was able to hurl a stone at Goliath, knock him down, and kill him. 

        How do you face adversity in your life?  Do you rely on the resources of man or God?  Do you have enough confidence in God to believe that the resources He has given you are enough to conquer whatever you are facing in life?  When we rely on the Lord and allow Him to help us we are able to overcome anything.  We can’t determine or dictate the circumstances of life, but we don’t have to become victims to them.  The Lord on our side is enough to overcome all of our obstacles and fears.

        So, why is it that we usually turn to the Lord for help after we have depleted all of our resources first?  Wouldn’t it be a whole less stressful, painful, and complicated if we were to first turn to Him?  The next time you are confronted with a situation that throws you into a tizzy, take it to the Lord before you even think about trying to deal with it.  He will guide you through it and help you to deal with it.  You will never be able to handle things on your own as well as you would if you were to but trust in the Lord and let Him help you.

Monday, June 12, 2017

GOD KNOWS THE HEART


                                                                                                                

I Sam. 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.’

     What did God see in David that Samuel didn’t see? It is so easy to judge a person by what we see instead of what we know. Let’s be honest about it. We do it all the time. We judge a person by what appeals to us and by what makes us feel good or comfortable. We rarely take the time or to get to know someone well enough to really know their heart. And even if we do, we tend to ignore what we really know to be true about them. We also tend to be reactive and influenced by circumstances. Our ability to judge is always filtered through the lens of our imperfect and limited knowledge.

      We must never forget, only the Lord really knows the heart.   Only the Lord is able to make right judgments, because only He knows the intent of the heart. He isn’t fooled by actions. He alone is able to get it right all the time. We must be very careful when we judge others. We need to bathe our judgments in much prayer and in light of God’s Word, knowing even then we may be wrong. It is not an easy task to judge others and it should be done humbly and fearfully.

     We should always consider the fact that our judgments always have consequences. We affect the lives of those we judge and usually our own lives. Remember, when we judge another person, we are essentially judging his worth. We deem him unfit and unable to continue to do whatever he is doing.

       Sometimes it is necessary to render judgment on others because sinful behavior renders them disqualified to continue doing what they are doing. We are responsible before God to hold each other accountable for our actions, but we must be very careful when we do it. The Lord holds us responsible for the judgments we make so we must not do it lightly.

       We dare not cast anyone away and deem them unfit for our fellowship and love because of what may have been said or done. The goal of all judgment we render should be restoration.  And remember, the Word says we are to look inward and judge ourselves before we decide to judge another.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

APPEARANCES CAN FOOL YOU



I Sam. 16:7  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.  The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do!  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”

       We do it don’t we?  Even though we know God doesn’t want us to, we label people by how they appeal to our senses.  We assume they are a certain type of person because of what we think they must be.  We often determine right away whether or not we want to invite them into our world.  Our problem is that we are so easily fooled.  We miss out on some great people in our lives because we hold them at arm’s length and we invite some in who prove to be less than what we thought they would be.  It’s impossible to determine a person’s heart by appearances.  It takes time to figure out whether or not someone is trustworthy and has qualities of heart that we need in our lives.  Sometimes we are fooled, but we are fooled all the time if we rely solely on our senses to determine the heart.

     We must carefully examine a person’s life before we can determine their heart.  We should talk to those who know him/her.  We should take note of how a person handles themselves under pressure.  We should note how they talk, whom they talk about, and what they talk about.  In other words, we should do our homework before we invite someone into the inner circle of our lives.  Lasting relationships don’t just happen.  They are built on the foundation of good character and a person’s character is only revealed over time.

      A word of caution is in order.  Be careful before you judge a person and pronounce him/her guilty of wrongdoing.  Things aren’t always as they appear to be.  If you really know a person’s heart, you will not be quick to accuse them of wrongdoing.  Rather, you will act graciously, forgive them for whatever has been done, and support them as they strive to live godly lives.

     Ask the Lord today to help you be less quick to judge on the basis of appearances.  Ask Him to give you the patience and desire to get to know people on a deeper level.  Ask Him to bring into your life people who you can get to know that will make both of your lives better.  Ask Him to help you be slow to condemn those whose character you know to be godly. And, ask Him to keep you from shunning others just because you may not be initially attracted to them due to their appearances.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

HEART OBEDIENCE


I Sam. 15:22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice.”

        First, foremost, and always, the Lord wants your heart allegiance to Him. It doesn’t matter how much you do for Him if your heart is not right with Him. It doesn’t matter what you do for Him if you aren’t doing what you know He wants you to do. You cannot please the Lord by living in disobedience or if you are trying to approach Him any way but His way. The Lord is very specific about this. There is no wiggle room.

       You cannot please the Lord with your pocketbook. No matter how much you give to the cause of Christ, it doesn’t buy you one ounce of favor with God. If your heart is not right in your giving, you might as well keep your money in your pocket. The Lord does not need your money. He wants your heart’s allegiance to Him and nothing else.

       If you are not obeying Him out of your love for Him, nothing that you do in His name matters. You cannot work your way into His favor. Our relationship with the Lord is a grace and not works relationship. He took care of what needed to be done for our salvation. There is nothing we can add to or subtract from His atoning work. Therefore, we live for Him through Him. We obey Him because we love Him and for no other reason than that.

       Do things God’s way and you will please Him. Do things your way, and you will not please Him. You cannot obey the Lord with a proud heart. Only those who humble themselves before God and yield to His way will be able to do what the Lord wants them to do, and thus please Him.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

TOTAL OBEDIENCE



I Sam. 15:15, 22-23  “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep and cattle,” Saul admitted.  “But they are going to sacrifice them to the LORD your God.  We have destroyed everything else”…..But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD, your burnt offerings or your obedience to his voice?  Obedience is far better than sacrifice.  Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.  Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.  So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

      God does not play around.  He has a purpose for the things He says.  And what He says, He means.  Obedience is a heart attitude.  It is submitting to the Lord and doing what we know God tells us to do.

     God had told Saul through Samuel that he was to go to war against the Amalekites and completely destroy them.  Saul only partially obeyed God.  In reality he didn’t obey Him at all because a little disobedience is the same as a total disobedience.  The Lord does not let us get away with doing what we want to do while serving Him.  It’s God’s way or no way.

       No matter our intentions may be, if we don’t obey God it doesn’t matter.  No matter what we give to the Lord or do for Him, if our hearts are not right when doing them, it is not pleasing to the Lord.  Jesus said that if we truly love Him we will obey Him. 

      We know what the Lord wants us to do by faithfully spending time alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.  We approach Him with a desire to know what He wants us to do.  We don’t take lightly what He says and skim over it.  We take God’s Word to heart and apply it to our lives.  We don’t select what we want to do and expect it to be alright with God.  He holds us accountable for all of His Word spoken to us.
      The sobering truth is that if we, like Saul, reject God’s Word and do what we want to do, God will reject us.  What we do indicates the condition of our heart.  Those who love the Lord will obey Him.  Sure, there are things in the Word that we may find difficult to do or that we don’t want to do, but that does not give us license to not do them.

Monday, June 5, 2017

GOD'S WAY, NOT YOUR WAY



I Sam. 13:12  So I said, “The Philistines are ready to march against us, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!  So I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

      Saul was king over Israel.  He was chosen by God.  Scripture tells us that at the time he became king, God had changed his heart.  But as we read about how he led his people, we begin to see real flaws in his character.  He evidently let his position and power alter his character.  Instead of relying solely on the Lord and obeying Him, he took it upon himself to do things he was not given to do.  Saul was not allowed to offer sacrificial offerings to the Lord.  It was a role that only the priests could do. 

      Samuel told Saul that he would arrive on a specific day and do it for him.  When Samuel was a little bit late, Saul got impatient and did it himself.  Instead of trusting the Lord and obeying Him, Saul took matters into his own hands.  We must understand that there is only one right way to do things, God’s way.  No matter who you are or your position in life, you do not have the right to ignore God’s Word and do what you think is right or what is convenient for you to do.

       Guard your heart!  Don’t neglect your need to keep your heart right before God.  Stay tuned into God so that you don’t get the idea that it’s okay to do what you think is right instead of what God says is right.  Like King Saul, it leads to a downward spiral of self-destruction.  It drives us farther and farther away from God.  Obey God in all things and it will go well with your soul.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

SEEING GOD AT WORK


I Sam. 12:16  “Now stand here and see the great thing the LORD is about to do.”

      We often miss what the Lord is doing because we are too busy running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off to even notice.  We miss out on so much of what the Lord is doing because we aren’t still long enough to pay attention. 

      The Lord is doing great things all around us and in the world.  Are you noticing?  He is changing people daily.  He is displaying His power wherever man is found and in various ways.  He is preparing the world for His coming.  He is revealing himself as Lord of life in fresh and exciting ways to all who will see.  And, the best is yet to come!

      Before you do anything else today, pause for a moment and see what great things the Lord is doing around you and even in you.  Stand still and know that He is not done.  His kingdom on earth is ever-growing and ever-changing.  Give Him praise today for all that He is doing.  Give Him praise for all that is yet to come.

      The world is full of bad news; don’t let it captivate you.  The Kingdom of God is full of good news; let it captivate you.  When we focus on God and what He is doing, our days look brighter.  He puts a spring in our steps.  Knowing that the Lord is in control and is working out all things for His glory and our good makes life worth the living.

      The Lord is about to do some great things, don’t miss them.  Wait on the Lord, keep your eyes fixed on Him.  Stand still and in awe look at what the Lord is doing.  No matter how bad things seem to be, the Lord is at work!  Praise Him for His faithfulness in working things out in your life for your good and His glory.  Wait on Him and you will see that it is true.  Thank Him for what is yet to come.  Rejoice!  The Lord is on His throne and is watching over you today.  Rejoice!  The best is yet to come.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE LORD



I Sam. 12:9 But the people soon forgot about the LORD their God, so he let them be conquered by Sisera, the general of Hazor’s army, and by the Philistines and the king of Moab.

        The children of God forgot about God. They ignored the Lord to the point where they no longer even thought about Him. They went about their merry way doing what they wanted to do as if God did not even exist. We need to think about this for a few moments today.

        It is a dangerous thing to dismiss God from our thoughts. When we begin to neglect our Bibles and stop praying except in times of great distress or want, we begin to travel down the slippery road of pushing God out of our lives. When we begin the process of shuffling the Lord down the list of our priorities in life, we begin shutting Him out. When we begin to tolerate sin in our lives and treat it as if it’s no big deal, we begin to push the Lord out.  When we get too busy to pray, we begin to push Him out.  When we find excuses to stay away from church, we begin to shut Him out.  When we start avoiding being with other believers, we begin shutting Him out.

       It doesn’t take too long and it doesn’t take much effort to get to the point where we soon forget about God and fall into sin. It takes a lot of work to keep the Lord fresh in our minds and no effort at all to soon forget Him. We are by nature prone to wander away from God. Only those who are determined and put forth the effort will keep their hearts pure before God.

      What about you? Are you living a life determined by God, or are you crowding Him out? Are you living with the Lord on your mind, or are you forgetting that He is even a part of you? We have no one to blame but ourselves when we wander away from God and come underneath His judgment.

Friday, June 2, 2017

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR



I Sam. 8:19-20  But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning.  “Even so, we still want a king,” they said.  “We want to be like the nations around us.  Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”

       Up until this time Israel had no king.  God had provided judges to lead them and bring them back to Him.  Their history was very unsteady, but it was obvious that God was watching over them and taking care of them.  God had raised up Samuel to be their judge, but it was obvious that his life was drawing to a close and there was no one qualified to step into his shoes.

      The people of Israel needed someone to lead them.  They looked around them and noticed the way other nations were governed by kings.  They decided that that was what they wanted.  “We want to be like the nations around us.”  To want what others have or to be like others is a very dangerous place to be.

      God knows best what we need.  He alone knows what we need.  He alone is wise enough to determine what we can handle and what we can’t.  The Lord does not give us what others have because He knows that if we had it, it would not be in our best interest.  Having more than we have or something different than we have would become for us a snare.  We would let it interfere with our relationship with God.  It would take prominence in our lives that would not be good for us.

       Contentment with what God provides is what gives us peace and joy in living.  Living the life we are given makes life meaningful and worth the living.  God knows what He is doing.  Keep your eyes off of what you don’t have.  If the Lord wants you to have it, He will give it to you.  Enjoy what He has provided for you and let Him use you just the way you are. 

Discontentment leads the soul into sin and the consequences are never good.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW



I Sam. 8:19-20 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”

     The problem most people have with God is found in today’s verses. We want what we want. We want to fit into the crowd and be like those around us. We don’t like standing out and being different. We don’t want to be confronted with the opposition of those who oppose us. It is much easier to blend in than it is to take a stand and be different.

      What we must accept is that as believers, we are different. We live in a world that is ruled by the demonic forces of hell. It is a dark world encased in sin and is opposed to God and His kingdom. There is a spiritual war going on and it will not cease until Jesus comes to take the Church out of the world. Don’t kid yourself; you will face opposition if you are living in and through Christ. If your life is an easy road to heaven, you are not living in submission and obedience to Christ, and that is simply the way it is.

       Jesus said that the people in darkness don’t come to the light because they don’t want to have their deeds exposed. Misery loves company and those who aren’t living in the misery of sin will not be looked upon kindly by those who are. It is important that we understand this. Dear friend, the Lord does not call us into a life of comfort. He commands us to go into the world, knowing full well that we will face great opposition from the world. We are called to be faithful to Christ in spite of the difficulties we face. We are to be lights in the darkness instead of letting the darkness squelch or consume our lights.

       The world does not want us around. It does not want to listen to us. It often will treat us unkindly. But, let us never forget; greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Christ has overcome the world and as long as we are faithful in our walk with Him, so are we. Don’t let the world silence your witness for Him.