Wednesday, February 17, 2016

1 Samuel 4 - The End of Days

Phineas and Hopni had probably grown so accustomed to carrying out their activity before the Lord without any judgment coming to them that they gave no thought to the call for the Ark of the Lord coming to them in their place of battle. Logically, they thought that with the Lord at their side that no enemy would be able to stand. Certainly the enemy thought that and had to be prompted to take the Israelites on in battle for they were certain that God would do for Israel as He had in the past. 

But Eli's sons had treated the Lord's things as if they were their own and judgment had been promised, not once, but twice from messengers of God. This would be the day the Lord removed them from the earth. 

Because their leaders were corrupt and deserving of God's judgment, many soldiers would also die in battle that day. Their faith is never written, but I am sure they had newfound confidence that the Lord would be with them. None really believed it was their last day on earth except the Philistines. 

We don't know the number of our days, but we can be assured that at the end of them there is eternity. We have only this life to decide to either follow or disregard the Lord. One thing is certain, the day is nearer now than it ever has been. 

There are innocent lives that may perish at the judgment of the wicked because of their corruption and their disdain of the Lord. Those innocent lives will live on in the presence of the Lord if they have looked to Him for their salvation. They suffer only for a while here and then eternal joy in the presence of God himself.  There are also those who went to battle that day that likely did not trust the Lord, but like Phineas and Hopni, thought that the Lord would not defend His name. They will stand before the Lord to give an account and He will measure out His justice for them. 

We don't know what the result of the battles we face will be. Some like the Philistines may be facing what seems to be a sure death and find that they are given another day to turn from their wickedness and find that the Lord accepts even those who have strayed. They had another opportunity to believe in the Lord and to embrace Him for themselves. 

One thing we can know is that the Lord knows the hairs on our heads and the number of our days. He knows our hearts and if our faith is placed in Him we can have the assurance that no matter what the day begins we will be inHis  presence and under His care. 

The activities here can take our attention off eternity, but is we could see our circumstances from God's eyes we would be more thoughtful about our worship here. God cannot be disregarded and put aside in the busyness of life, but should be placed first. We have the promise of God that if we will seek Him and His righteousness, every thing else will find its proper place. 

We live among a corrupt world and we doc it know the number of our days. But right here, right now we can choose to put the Lord in His proper place, worship Him, enjoy His fellowship and see His answer our prayers as we place our days in His hands.  

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him!

Monday, February 15, 2016

1 Samuel 3 - Fired

As a child in Sunday School we were taught the story of Samuel as a boy having God speak to him in the night. Often the story is lifted up as a prelude to the calling of Samuel to the Lord's service and his humble beginnings. But in this same story, we see the judgement God executes against Eli and his sons. No longer would they be chosen to serve God in the administration of offerings and other priestly duties. God would no longer use them. They were cut off...fired from service. 

Eli was aware of his sons mistreatment of the offering. He did counsel them but as a priest he had within his power to stop the young men and didn't. God warned him through an unnamed prophet, but Eli didn't take action. He stood by while his boys made a mockery of God. Now God was bringing judgment to his house. He would not speak directly to him but through the boy Samuel. 

In his favor, he did not argue or rail against God's judgment. He acknowledges it was the Lord's discretion to do as He saw fit. What a sad day for Eli who had been the messenger of God to Hannah and had even begun to train Samuel in the ways of the Lord. Prior acts of obedience cannot undo current disregard for God's warnings. Eli knew it. 

Samuel had the unsavory task of bearing the news of judgment to his mentor/boss/caretaker. I don't know how many of us would be up to the task. Yet that is a task we are called to as Christians. How many family, friends, coworkers and neighbors live a life that is out of fellowship with the Lord and we say nothing?  We have the Lord living within us, can we share Him with those in our circle?  Will we be bold like Samuel and warn those who are outside the fellowship of coming judgment?

The more I look at the condition of our world the more convinced I am the the Lord's return is soon.  Time is short.  I don't want my loved ones to suffer judgement but will not telling them save them from it? I confess that I don't want to come off as a lunatic and I know that God's plan is strange to someone outside the fold. If I can only love them and look of the open doors to share the gospel they need so much.  I don't want to miss my opportunity though. 

We have a treasure hidden in these jars of clay. Our Maker has charged us to share this treasure.  Invest in those around us and see how the treasure grows. We don't want to have our purpose taken from us like Eli because we were not faithful in carrying out our calling. Be like Samuel: humble yet courageous. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

1 Samuel 2 - Worship, Wickedness and Warning

This chapter is a character study of three types of people. We have Hannah, Eli's wicked sons, and Eli himself all approaching God with differing attitudes. As you read this chapter can you see where you fit?

Hannah is a model of full reliance on God for her provision. Her heart's desire was to have a child to remove the shame she felt in barrenness. She promised God that she would dedicate this child to the Lord for His service and as she brings him in dedication she offers a beautiful prayer giving glory to God. She acknowledges God's omnipotence and His lovingkindness toward those who look to Him. She also is aware of the judgement in store for those who hold themselves against God and depend on their own strength and wisdom. It is such a beautiful prayer full of content, we could spend several posts just on it. If you have not read Hannah's prayer, you can find it in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. 

Eli's wicked sons are a stark contrast to Hannah. They are charged with serving the Lord and despise their position. They abuse their powers and defy God's instructions. They treated the offerings brought by the people with great contempt. They also defiled their own bodies taking the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. These young men refused correction human or Divine and brought judgment upon themselves. 

Eli questioned his sons and rebuked their actions but did nothing to prevent their sins. Eli receives a warning from a prophet chastising him for his failure to keep there offering to the Lord holy and using it to benefit his family rather than to worship the Lord. Eli allowed his sons to treat God with contempt. Though he counseled them he did nothing to stop the display of contempt and being both the father of these wicked boys and the High  priest he had a double responsibility for their conduct. Those in authority who will not assume responsibility, are just as guilty as those who engage in misconduct under their authority. 

In the midst of each of these stories, there is an interjection that Samuel the boy is growing both physically and spiritually.  He is being raised up for God's purpose which we will see in future chapters. 

While I would like to say I am like Hannah, I know that far too often my faith has failed and I have not looked to the Lord for my provision. While I would like to say I am not like the wicked sons, I know my holy times with the Lord in prayer and study are far too often neglected or not had my full attention. While I would like to say that I don't turn a blind eye to sin as Eli did, I know I live in a wicked world in which sin regularly transpires all around me and I have failed to give warning or to guard against the creeping influences in my life. I read this chapter and realize that I do love the Lord, but far too often my actions fail to show His place in my life. My witness is hindered when I don't try to intervene against sin in my life or in the lives of those who are given to me by God for witness. The thing is, I can't even change myself for the better. It is humbling, but I must recognize daily that I am a poor and needy sinner and I desperately need God's help. 

I want to run this race of life well and be a good and faithful servant. Today I begin by asking for a measure of the Lord's strength and wisdom for the day. I ask Hom to go before me and to lead me as I serve Him. Will you join me in looking to the Lord for our provision, turning away from sin in our lives and to witness well of the Lord's lovingkindness to those who are in our sphere of influence?  

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.