Friday, April 22, 2016

1 Samuel 7 - When Things Are Not Right

Today as we look at news unfolding all around us, I think I can truly say our nation is not right with God. We embrace all kinds of sin and justify our acts. We have gone so far as a nation to call the things that God calls evil; to call them good and acceptable. Our players for leadership of our nation are truly suspect and may even drive our nation further from God. We are not right with God. 

Likewise, in 1 Samuel 7 the nation mourned because they were not right with God. The Philistines had captured a good portion of Israel territory, the ark had been returned to the nation, but it spent 20 years out of its rightful place. The Philistines were still a threat but God didn't seem to be on their side. They prayed, but did not hear the voice of God. 

Samuel spoke to the nation in much the way the United States needs a leader to speak. If you want restoration between the nation and the Lord, then the people must repent and get rid of all the false Gods that have taken the rightful place of Jehovah (I Samuel 7:3-4). We must commit ourselves to serve only God and then the Lord may return to the nation. In the case of Israel they needed to get rid of the Baals and Ashtoreth.  

The United States doesn't have enough bins for all the trash that should be removed. As you read this, I know you have a list in your head so I don't need to go on with mine. Here's the thing, if we can only see the idols we have nothing to do with, then we are probably not looking deep enough. It is easy to point fingers at others without truly examining our own hearts. Look in there and destroy any idol that keeps you from serving God alone. Examine your entertainment, your hobbies, your pass times and see if there are ungodly influences in your own life and then let's clean them together as God reveals them. 

Samuel interceded on behalf of the nation, (1 Samuel 7:5) and we as God's people should do the same for our own country. We should pray for those who are plagued with sin and don't know the Savior who can save us from our wickedness within. We should reach out to a neighbor with the love of Christ that they may have a glimpse of what could be theirs. The people asked for Samuel to pray and the Lord answered and did battle for the nation against the Philistines. The Lord himself returned the lands taken by the Philistines and restored the nation. 

As Samuel said, "Thus far the Lord has helped us". We too can look back and see the reverence our nation once had and see that the Lord honored that commitment. All is not lost.  We still have opportunity to return to the Lord while we have breath. The Lord may return any day; let's be about serving Him until His return. 

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

1 Samuel 6 - God Returns

After seven months of absolute misery the Philistines determine that holding the Ark of the Covenant is the cause of their troubles and the only way to find relief is to return the Ark to Israel. So they seek out the priests of Philistine to determine how to properly hand back the Ark to the people of Israel. The priests devise that there must be a guilt offering accompanying the Ark fashioned after the afflictions they had endured. 

They made a cart pulled by milk cows that had never been yoked and sent them on their way. If the cows found their way into Israel's territory then they would know their affliction was really from God and not chance. 

Unbelievers will use every excuse not to believe in a Creator God who is sovereign in all events. They will attribute their success to their own hands and their failures to someone else. Affliction could in their mind just be a natural course of events for which there may be no antidote. The Philistines could at any time have recognized that they were in the presence of their Creator and bowed down to worship Him, but for seven months they resisted God and wore the battle scars for it. It is futile to fight against God, but God does not force alliegience. He longs for the created man to love Him and honor Him.  

Upon return to Israel, the people were overjoyed to see the Ark returned. They removed the Ark and sacrificed the cows who brought it. Israel had been given strict procedures for handling the Ark and they violated God's command almost immediately.  God killed the men who treated the Ark so casually. We who belong to God have a responsibility to show Him the honor He deserves and not follow the world's pattern. 

We too are waiting for the Lord's return and we have our marching orders to carry on with the Lord's work until the day of His appearing. Luke 12:35-37 "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks they can immediate open the door for him."  While the Lord has not yet returned, our lives should be preparing for Him so that we can welcome Him. We are to manage the Lord's work here until He returns. That servant who knows the master's will and does not do it will be judged when the Master returns. 

As I look around at events all around, I see that the day for the Lord's return is nearer than ever before. Dear Christian, keep an upward look as you go through your daily tasks and be watchful and prepared for the Lord's return. I pray He will find us ready and doing His will here. 

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