Monthly Archives: January 2019

In the Cat and Mouse game take the High Road

1 Samuel 20-24 – I guess I could have called this entry “the Hunter and the Hunted.” The saga of King Saul hunting down his son-in-law David, who is the heir apparent to the throne. It’s almost like a soap opera the way the story unfolds – of course you and I know how the story will end. It follows that after the Holy Spirit was removed off Saul that he acts like a wild insanely jealous man. Saul is consumed with trying to kill David – one cannot help but think of King Herod attempting to eliminate Jesus as the next king. David and Jonathan have such a close bond; Jonathan has chosen David over his father. In the passages this week, there is a continual pursuit of David. Saul assembles his army, at times up to 3000 men to capture/kill David. David is aided by Jonathan to escape from the clutches of the jealous king.

I’m not sure how I would have acted then, but I have been in ministerial situations where people were out to destroy me. Many of you reading this blog really are wondering – surely he has overstated this. Really, out to destroy you?!As unimaginable as this is, not everyone in  church is Saved, has a relationship with Jesus. Duh! John 10:10a tells us that the adversary, Thief comes only to seek, kill and destroy. When a person trust by faith in Christ, we gain the power and love of God which is inexhaustible; but we also gain an enemy. You would think that Saul would embrace David for all the fighting and support to Israel against the giants – Philistines? One would think that the Church would support and uplift those who labor for their souls? Nope! Now please, I know there are bad pastors/clergy just like there are bad churches; however this does not give either the right to play the “Gotcha game.” What I mean by this is neither one should be looking to have an advantage over the other. There can be a great chasm between the Pulpit and the Pew, but it shouldn’t be allowed to persist.

I have had to tell so many people in the Church to take the “High Road.” That means we don’t look for advantages to try to destroy or win against our enemies. In fact the Lord Jesus say we are to pray for those who hate us and despitefully abuse us. David finds himself running from Saul, David has his on loyal men to help protect him from Saul. The High Road is a hard road. We can look at taking advantage of an “Upper Hand” when it comes our way – David had the chance to kill Saul in the cave [1 Sam 24, even his men said – Kill the King! David spares Saul’s life. The verses 6-8 about vowing not to lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed, speaks for those in the church that are trying to destroy, get rid of the Pastor. Scripture warns against bringing unfounded accusations against the man of God – only doing so with multiple witnesses.

I wish that churches and clergy would pay attention to Matthew 18, about reconciliation. Go to the one you have issue with – immediately, do not leave a snare for Satan! Even though David knew he was the next King, by the authority of God; he remained a faithful follower. Very interesting, because later David’s own son Absalom will try to usurp the kingdom from him. Lesson here is to be a good leader, you must first be a good follower. I really don’t like conflict, mainly because what I want to do in the situation, isn’t in line with scripture. Romans tells us not to take revenge, but to leave it to the Lord. Man that is hard – I want to be exonerated, I protest – I’m innocent! Yes this may or may not be the case – but it is God who justifies! Job was innocent – yet he did not take matters into his own hands. In conflict many times there is the “band wagon” scenario. This means when someone attacks us, people jump on board and bring all sort of unfounded accusations. Even David had people who “ratted him out” to Saul. [Doeg the Edomite]

Taking the “High Road” in this Cat and Mouse game, being the mouse – is so hard, and you will not be able to do it in your own strength. Proverbs 3:5-7 – Trust in the LORD, lean on Him – don’t try to make sense of it all – it just is the continued battle of the LORD and Satan. You maybe the mouse at times, but NEVER be the CAT!

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King Saul’s Self-destruction

1 Samuel 15-19; this section of 1 Samuel is packed full of good and bad. We have the failure of King Saul; his disobedience to the Law; the evil spirit that replaces the Holy Spirit. Saul begins to act like a “mere man” – which really is all any of us are without the Holy Spirit at work in our minds, wills and actions. It is a sad story of Saul, he could have reigned for much longer than he did – but arrogance, pride and jealousy destroyed his reign. We are introduced to God’s chose as King – which will be a perpetual throne. David is promised that he will not lack from one of his ancestors to sit on the throne of Judah. Ultimately this is fulfilled by Jesus Christ our Lord and King.

David is anointed as the future king, only thing is he has to wait 13 yrs. David is a musician – musician’s are a different breed. David is no different – reflecting on his writings in Psalms and knowing the talents of music within him, makes me understand the varied mood swings in David’s personality. As I was reading, I wondered what Jesse thought of all this about David? First, Samuel comes and anoints him, then Saul comes and takes him away to soothe his evil spirit rampages. Something that impressed me – before David became king, he was a devoted and obedient follower. The exact same thing that Jesus, the Son of God was for us.

Of course there are two chapters that tell the story of Goliath, the giant philistine who mocks and ridicules the Israelite armies. He challenged them, or rather called them out to fight him in a winner take all bout. I couldn’t help but think of the movie “Dancing with wolves” where Kevin Costner rides his horse between the two fighting armies – yet escapes unscathed. While the enemy watches and shoots at this apparent suicide soldier, Costner’s army advances and takes them.  For 40 days, the two sides dress in battle array, even go out shouting – yet never engaging. Well here comes young David, sent by his father to take some food to his brothers. David witnesses all the show – yet no one is fighting. Even his brother Eliab, ridicules David for criticizing the battle scene.  Well, we all know that David won the battle over Goliath. When I think of all of Israel standing around waiting for battle, yet to afraid to do anything – I see many churches in the same predicament – waiting for the Man of God to do the work that everyone knows needs to happen. Israel was paralyzed by fear – too many churches and believers react the same way when the enemy calls them out for battle. Yes, Satan will use his tactics of fear and paralysis to keep people and churches from ever really accomplishing the will of God. Stand up o man of God – the Battle is the Lord’s and He needs someone who will stand in the gap and be used!

Saul rather than rejoicing with the success of David, who has become the people’s choice  – also Michal- Saul’s daughter. Saul is enraged with jealousy towards David. He tries to make David his son-in-law by offering Merab – that doesn’t work. But Michal, is the one who loves David and ultimately marries him. The hope of having an inside track” to the movements and thoughts of David really doesn’t materialize – for even Jonathan is enamored with David.

We find why David is so prosperous – the Lord was with him in all that he did. Saul was fighting against his human flesh, the evil spirit of Satan, and the will of God. Saul had his opportunity but he blew it. Instead of praising God for the enemies being subdued, Saul raged with anger, even trying to kill David on several occasions. Jonathan gets Saul, his father to make an oath not to kill David – Saul is a liar. He aggressively tries to confer with Abner to get David killed – but David keeps on succeeding.

The people of Israel got what they wanted in a king – but God put in place his choice for ruler over his people. David is a still just a man. We know that he is “a man after God’s own heart,” but David will have his shortcomings and sin to deal with.

So what are we to make of all this? Serve God, live honestly before men and trust Jehovah for deliverance from our enemies.

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Long Live the King, Oops!

1 Samuel 10-14; the anointing and elevation of Saul, the Benjaminite chosen to be Israel’s first king. Samuel the last prophet, priest and judge reluctantly obeys God and gives the people what they want – A King. They already had a king, even God states that Saul is only a prince. [1 Sam 9:16]

In chapter 10 all seems to go so well at the beginning of Saul’s reign, he prophecies with the other prophets and the Holy Spirit come upon him in a supernatural way. I found 1 Sam 10:6 and 9 reflect what happens to anyone who will trust in the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:17 – a new man, this is what happens to Saul, not something that Saul did to himself. We are changed by our gracious and merciful God. Anyone who thinks that they have made themselves something is really fooling no one. We can’t change us – it is only under the divine power of God that we are what we are. His handiwork, His strength, and His glory! When Saul is announced to the people, they praise and even sort of worship Saul – “Long Live the King.” I always wondered where that phrase came from, well now I know. Samuel is still disgruntled with the decision of having a king rule instead of Elohim. Samuel tells them how they are rejecting God who has delivered them. Even though the majority seem to embrace this new method of rule, there will always be those who are the critics – look at 1 Sam. 10:27 – Saul is not without his own critics. NOTE: every man of God called to the ministry to preach and pastor the flock of God will always have those who want to see his demise. They lurk in the background just waiting to pounce on the opportunity to denounce and ridicule the Preacher! 1 Sam. 11 tells the story of about Saul’s first real test. With the Holy Spirit coming over him, He able to deliver the people from the Ammonites. I hate to say this but, Saul is a glory hog and sought approval from the people. In the future there will be a David in Saul’s life, that will exceed Saul’s accomplishments – oh the rage that will come from Saul because someone else received the glory. In 1 Sam. 12 we are privileged to hear the final message from the final Judge – Samuel calls for accountability from the people, they are to bring any grievance to the LORD and he , Samuel is willing to stand trial. The people find no fault in him – he is exonerated. In 1 Sam 12:14-17 there is the reminiscences  of 2 Chronicles 6 & 7 – where Solomon tells the people that they will not be faithful, prays to God and asks that if the people would pray, repent and follow again the word of the Lord – would He forgive? God’s answer is in 2 Chronicles 7:12-14.  The IF . . . Then covenant, conditional for the nation Israel – albeit for us as well.

The Philistines – the nemeses of the Israelites, and the downfall of a recently anointed king, is what we have in 1 Samuel 13. It was honorable that King Saul would not want to go to war without the blessing of Yahweh. But . . . when he loses patience and takes on the role of Priest, because Samuel is delayed – I have used a phrase in my minister and have warned others pastors as well – “Don’t get bigger than your ministry.” Saul did what he thought was right, but he was not the right one to offer the sacrifices – “What Have You Done!?” We hear that in Genesis 3 and Exodus 32. We hear that a lot from parents asking their children about their actions. Isn’t it always like that, as soon as we lose our patience and take things into our own hands, that the answer from God shows up? Saul loses his kingdom over one disobedient act. Careful, the same thing happened to Moses. God gave the victory, oh but at what cost to King Saul! We have the prophetic announcement of the “God chosen king in David as a result of this failure by Saul.”  Saul reigned 42 years, how miserable it must have been, to know that God left him in place, but that Saul’s successor was already picked? Another aspect of this sad chapter in 1 Samuel 13- Jonathan, the son of Saul, is a warrior, and as we will fin out a close companion of Dai=vid. Jonathan wages war against the Philistines. Saul steals the glory from his own son, when it would have been honorable to acknowledge that Jonathan won the battle. This is a significant warning to anyone in ministry – don’t take what is not yours, especially those who work  and support you. Give credit where credit is due. Saul became King, but barely into his reign, He trusted in himself – not the Holy Spirit that had come over him. Warning to the wise!

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We want a King!

1 Samuel 5-9 readings tell us about the taking of the Ark of the Covenant and the hemorrhoids that results for anyone besides the Israelites. These chapters tell us how Samuel will be the last Judge and prophet list that started in Judges. There is a great shift in governance for the people of Israel. Coming out of Egypt, the people are aligned by Tribe and clan. The administration of duties for each of the Sons of Israel are well delineated at the making of the “mobile” Tabernacle. We see this in Joshua when he seeks out Achen in the tribe of Judah. Then as we move into the occupying of the Promise Land the people are further divided into boundary areas of inheritance. The Judges were appointed/raised up by God to deliver them from the enemies, which were a result of disobedience to the Law and God. Samuel was raised as a priest, but in 1 Samuel 7 we find that he was a Judge of the people.

A side note before we get into the request for a king. In 1 Samuel 7:12 we find the “Ebenezer stone” being established by Samuel. I and maybe many of you know the song and phrase – “Here I raise my Ebenezer” having no idea what the phrase even meant. Ebenezer means a “stone of Help.”  Samuel was worshipping God for the deliverance from the Philistines. Ebenezer was an altar stone – a place of worship.

Years go by with the stability of Samuel judging the people. But in 1 Samuel 8 there is the description of Eli and his sons, who profaned the Sanctuary by their reproach of the people and Tabernacle. The people raise up [cry out to God] in verse 7 – God is aware of the people’s cry, also that their cry is a selfish one. The proverb – Two wrongs never make a right applies to this passage and request for a king. Yes the people were right in identifying the immoral sons actions, no they were not right in asking for a king to rule over them. There is a great exchange between God and Samuel – Samuel argues against a king; but God says listen to the people for they have not rejected you but have rejected Me. Even though the people are putting the pressure for a king [so they could be like the other nations] God will be the one to “appoint” the “prince” to rule over His people. It is amazing how God uses even our disobedience to prove His power and sovereignty in all things.

There is so much talk today about government. Frankly I’m tired of all of it. The government – ours with a president was “asked for by the people.” Samuel explains the cost it will be to have a king. Before Israel was rule and judged by a “seer” prophet of God’s choosing. Not the people want to vote! None of us like to pay taxes, but the taxes are needed to run/support the government that we want to rule over us. It will cost our sons/daughters for armies to fight wars; it will cost us our daughters to work the jobs to make the supplies for the war. The government will take “a tenth” for support of the people needed to support the government and king/president.

There is a problematic verse 1 Samuel 8:19 – no we want to be like all the other nations. Israel was God’s own unique people. Countless times they were told do not be like the nations that you/I are disposing of in the Promise Land. AT this point as Believers, as we satisfied with God as our potentate? Or do we want to be like the rest of the world? It will cost you and I if we desire the things of this world over the Grace/Mercy of God.

Okay, so the people want a king [God identifies him as a prince – 1 Samuel 9:16] God looks at the inside of a person, the secret and crevasses of the heart. Man always looks on the outside. How tall, handsome, strong and the other human descriptors. Saul – big, brawny and beautiful. Yet this is who Samuel is led to “appoint” as king.” Yes the people will get a king, but oh what a price to pay.

In our current government shut-down, there is so much rhetoric and squabble. I have read and seen where some pastors and Christian leaders are identifying with a particular party of the government. I hear so much about “what is my government doing for me?” People fail to realize, all power is given by heaven – that power invested by God into men can bless or burden down the people. Will we as believers understand we don’t need a king, for we already have one! King Jesus! Interesting the Religious leaders of Jesus day – “we have no king but Caesar!” Be careful what you ask for!

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A New Day A New Beginning

1 Samuel is where we start our reading for this year. It is the beginning of the History section in the Bible. These first few chapters are filled with so many historical and spiritual implications. With Samuel, the prophet, priest and last Judge of Israel; we have an ending of a tumultuous period in Israel’s history. Primarily because they would not repent and follow God. So the cycle of crisis continued for some 400 years. The book of Judges shows the stiff-necked disposition of the Israeli people. The only time it seems that they will follow God is when they are in trouble – that they created for themselves.

The book opens with the barren Hannah, praying for a child that she would in-turn return to the LORD. I wondered as Hannah prayed the prayer [with Eli watching and condemning her] if Hannah’s oath about Samuel was wrongfully motivated/ The second chapter clearly indicates the love of the LORD Hannah had. Even though there was great reproach with Hannah being barren and Peninnah fruitful [similar story as Rachel and Leah]; Hannah seems to be genuinely dedicated to the LORD Yahweh.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to give up your only child, without any idea of whether you will have another – as it is Hannah has five children later. I guess we could look at the Father in Heaven giving up His only Son Jesus with similar light. The Song Hannah sings in chapter Two reminded me of Mary’s song in Luke 2. The song is done in a poetic fashion. Hannah bestows upon God the great power and authority of creation and daily life. How that the LORD is for the poor and outcast in their need, rather than the self-sufficient person with no need of God. The latter part of chapter two is so filled with metaphors about ministry and the minister. Eli now an old man priest has two boys, who do not know the LORD. Looking forward, Samuel did not know the LORD yet either in his encounter with God calling him in the night – yet all of them were serving before the LORD at Shiloh. I have to ask the question, how many pastors and ministry leaders today are “serving the LORD” yet do not even know Him?  Compounded is the behavior of Hophni and Phineas, the reproach they bring on the sacrificial system – yes the priests were to take a portion of the sacrifices that were brought, but they didn’t want the boiled meat, but the fat laden select meat meant for God. Something I have learned – the smell of a great BBQ is a result of the fat on the meat – it give such a sweet-smelling aroma. The Fat belongs to God! The also had relations with the women that would come and minister at the Tabernacle. The Priests didn’t KNOW the LORD. The ministered for what they could get out of it! John Piper wrote s book called””Brethren we are not professionals.” In the book Piper illustrates that clergy are not professionals – they are the CALLED of God. If someone is doing “ministry” for what they can get out of it – well they very well could end up like Hophni and Phineas.

Young Samuel was of a different character all together – repeatedly we read “and he grew in stature and favor with the LORD and Men” a similar statement made about Joseph, John the Baptist and Jesus. In Samuel’s late night encounter with God; there is a message revealed to him about the future of his mentor Eli  and his sons. Eli was old, blind and fat. One could surmise that he had outlived His effectiveness. This is a serious issue that every pastor and minister must answer – When to go and How long to stay. I know of some pastors that stayed too long and caused great obstacles for the Church to move forward. The Pastor was “holding down a job, not pastoring.” Anyway Eli the priest obviously is well past his effectiveness time. His sons brought reproach on the Name of the Lord and ministry. God removes all three in one day. As a side note – this young Samuel was given the message about Eli, is was fearful to speak the message to Eli. When a pastor gets to the point were he will refrain from “speaking the Word of the LORD, he is done! Pastors must preach in season and out – our audience is the LORD God.

There in chapter four we find the Philistines battling Israel. The people put their hope in the Tabernacle not in the God of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is taken, Eli and sons die and Phinehas’ wife has a child and named him “Ichabod” the Glory of God has departed. Such a terrible start for a New Beginning! Long before the Tabernacle was taken, the Glory had departed from Israel. But God was doing a new thing in Samuel!

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