Monday, June 20, 2016

1 Samuel 12 - Worthless Idols

Samuel in his parting word to the nation of Israel reminds them of how the Lord has preserved the nation time after time in spite of its failures. He reminds the nation that even now, they have chosen a king like the nations around them instead of being content to have God Himself as their King. He pleads with them to serve the Lord and not follow after idols as the other nations do. 

God has chosen his people and will guard them. But when the people turn away from God and follow after pagan pleasures and worship idols with no power, then the Lord must also turn away from the country. Samuel warns that if the nation persists in doing evil then both they and their king will be swept away. 

Open the pages of any newspaper and you see how evil is all around in our own nation. Much of it brought about by the rejection of God and the pursuit of selfish pleasure. Our nation has been sliding away from God and He has allowed the evil we have pursued to run its course. The enemy cheers when the nation runs amok. 

One compromise after another. Each going deeper than the last until we are so enveloped in empty pursuits there is no hope left. Our idolatry can take a number of forms. It may be idle time spent in from of television or Internet. I may be games, vacations, pursuit of riches or fame. It may be drink or entertainment, but all lead to the same end if we allow these pursuits to replace our passion for God. They are empty and worthless. 

It is wise to consider our passions and be careful to serve the Lord. Our passions which being temporary pleasure can be the very things that bind us and enslave if we do not guard our hearts. I would venture that many of the wicked players of our day began with a single compromise - a choice they believed was just momentary. Before long one choice leads to another. Wrong thinking begets more wrong thinking. Bad acting leads to even more. 

As stewards of the resources entrusted by God, we should be careful to not waste them on our temporary pleasure but to use them for our needs and to build a strong testimony for the Lord. We live in days that are evil. God would be right to sweep away the people and the king, but so far he has not. The Christians of this land stand in the gap pleading with the nation to return to God and find redemption. 

Let's not confuse temporary pleasure with eternal purpose. God has placed you where you are to serve Him and to encourage others to place their trust in Him. As the days grow darker, Christ's people shine brighter. Shine for the Lord and stand out so that people may turn from evil and find the Lord and enjoy forgiveness. 

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

1 Samuel 11 - Save Us!

After living in compromise for years the people of Jabesh Gilead find themselves overpowered by a ruthless enemy. In an effort to negotiate with the enemy they offer a treaty to become slaves, but the enemy requires their bodies to be mutilated. The men from Jabesh-Gilead ask for 7 days to consider the terms of surrender. 

If ever there was a people in need of a savior, it was them.  Nahash is a picture of our own enemy, sin. Far too often we compromise and allow sin to coexist in our lives and don't stand against it. The Israelites were willing to become slaves to Nahash and serve him all their days. But Nahash, like sin, takes them a little deeper than they ever wanted to go. He wanted to maim them and leave a visible testimony of his mastery over them. 

The people send word to Saul who gathers forces and delivers the people. He was overcome by the Spirit of God and anger for the enemy and the humiliation of his brothers burned in him. He must go save them. 

Saul is a picture of Christ for us. When we were mired down deep in sin and had no hope of deliverance, Jesus came and stood in the gap. He did battle with Satan and paid a ransom for us with his own blood. He deserves our loyalty and our worship. It is God's power at work that gives us a hope of eternity in Heaven and allows us to stand against sin here. 

We too are that representation of Chrits on the world. There are people all around bound in sin and are crying out for hope. We have the power within us to come to their aid if only we would have that same hatred of the enemy that Saul did in this passage. We can bring that message of salvation. Our neighbors, relatives and friends can have the hope that Jesus blood is all sufficient to cover their sins too. 

Don't compromise with sin, but put on the full armor of God that you may stand against the enemy's tactics. While you are at it, protect your lost loved ones and encourage them to trust Jesus for themselves. 

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

1 Samuel 10 - Selected, Changed, Honored and Despised.

Saul is appointed King over the Lord's inheritance to lead the nation of Israel. Saul was revealed to Samuel as God's appointed man. He certainly looked the part; he was strong and tall, yet he was still ill-equipped for the job of King. God delights in calling the unlikely candidates to service and then by His power changing them so that they can fulfill their appointment. 

Saul is changed in his heart as he leaves this meeting with Saul. (1 Samuel 10:9) God may select someone while they are in the midst of their own weakness and failure, but He doesn't leave anyone unchanged. If you belong to the Lord, He  has changed you. He has given you a new heart to love Him and to follow in His ways.  But WAIT there's more!  Salvation is just the very beginning; that is your appointment as a child of God. God then will continue to grow and transform you into the character of Jesus using conflict and blessing together to mold you. This transformation is ongoing. 

Finally, as we go out into the world to join with God in service, we will find there are two different kinds of people we encounter. There are those who have been touched by God (our fellow Christians) who will work together with us to achieve God's purposes and there are troublemakers  who do nothing to help and despise us.   

We live in a world that is hostile toward God. The world promotes sin and calls it "normal".  Peter calls these "terrible times" (2 Peter 3:1-9). We who live in these last days should not be surprised by the headlines around us - they were foretold. But note Saul's response. he did not retaliate as he surely could have being King; but he kept silent. When the world comes against us can we commit justice to God and not take vengeance ourselves?  God is more than able to defend and care for us. Trust Him with your situation today. 

As with Saul, so we go out into the world  having been appointed, changed and knowing we will find fellowship among believers and opposition in the world. As we go into last days, it seems that we need to spend time seeking God and fellowship ping with our fellow believers drawing strength for the purpose God has called us to. We have a job to do that God is equipping and changing us for. Let's seek God and join together with him in His work here. 

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