Thursday, April 30, 2009


1 Samuel 25:32-33
Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.

Would I recognize God's mercy displayed in opposition? Whn my heart is set to defend myself or promote my own cause, can I recognize God's provision keeping me from possible sin? Will I beat Balam's donkey or see the angel? (Num. 22:32)
I often get fixated on the idea of fairness and sense injustice easily - especially when it's directed toward me. Can I trust God's word in Romans 12:17-21 and respond on peace rather than vengeance? Can I trust Him to fight my battles?

God - open my ears to hear from You and recognize your voice of warning. Open my eyes to recognize obstacles as provisions for my own righteousness. Strengthen my heart, deepen my faith and humble my spirit to stand patiently and wait for You to act. Amen.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


1 Samuel 24:8
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

I know I would not have had the wisdom, restraint and humility of David if I were in his sandals. I would probably have killed Saul and forcibly fulfilled the promise of God cited in 24:4. And even if I did restrain myself and let him go, I would not have shown such honor to such a despicable and unfaithful man as Saul regardless of his position. Saul did not deserve any such treatment as bowing or titles of lord and king. I would have felt justified, claiming righteous indignation. Yet David bowed and honored Saul with his rightful titles even claiming him as his king. In David's gentle answer he turns away the wrath of Saul (Prov. 15:1). The fear of the Lord taught David wisdom and he trusted that God would follow humility with honor (Prov. 15:33). Saul's pride brought him low but David's lowly spirit gained him honor (Prov. 29:23).
Like David, I can trust Go to fight my battles and judge between me and those who offend me. I can humble myself and demonstrate full respect knowing that honor follows humility and that God defends the lowly in spirit. I can turn away wrath, defuse an argument and heal a relationship with a gentle answer. I don't have to fight.

Father - humble me and teach me to fear You and You alone in all situations. Don't let me take matters into my own hands but instead humbly trust You. Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two kings

1 Samuel 22:2
And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.

This account of David echoes of one who would sit on David's throne and draw all men unto himself, yet not out of royal position (John 12:32). In John 6:37 Jesus said, "all that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." In Matthew 11:28 Jesus calls such debtors to Himself, "come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest." As ones who had divine right to the throne, both David and Jesus resisted such exaltation in favor of exile, being hunted and persecuted by unrighteous men, and drawing other exiles to themselves.
I wonder if any of these men would one day become one of the mighty men of David in 2 Samuel 23? Would those forgiven much love much as Jesus suggested in Luke 7:47? Jesus greatest servants were those who had been forgiven of much and counted themselves among the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15-16). What a joy and honor to wander with the King among the forgiven in this unrighteous world! What an honor to be counted among His people, in His service, to fight for His kingdom.

Father thank You for resisting the throne for a season in favor of forgiveness for eternity. Thank You for drawing sinners and debtors to You that I may walk with the King and find refuge in You. Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Word of God

1 Samuel 19:20-24
"...But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, "Where are Samuel and David?"
"Over in Naioth at Ramah," they said.
23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night...."

God used prophesy to frustrate the evil plans of Saul and his messengers. But how is prophesy such a weapon? Ephesians 6:17 calls the World of God the sword of the Spirit. It's the only offensive piece in the armor of God. While they walked, Saul and his messengers wielded God most powerful weapon against themselves. So what exactly did the messengers and Saul prophesy that was so mighty and powerful against them?
I believe they prophesied two things. First, I believe the proclaimed the Law of God which they were intending to break. Thus, they were confessing their intended sin by the Word of God. Second, I believe they may be been proclaiming God's will to make David their king. They were declaring God's anointed to all those listening.
Both such prophesies would have produced in them a guild and shame that should have thwarted their plans. However, Saul's hardness of heart led him past guilt and shame all the way to public humiliation. This is the common path of those who hear the Word of God and know it but refuse to obey it.
Our sinful plans should stop dead when we encounter or remember God's Word. Therefore, we must work on softening our hearts to receive it and set our daily agenda to memorize it and meditate on it. This is the secret to avoiding sin.

Psalm 119:11 & 97
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

Joshua 1:8
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

God - give me a strong mind for Your Word. Help me to remember it in temptation and meditate on it all day long. Thwart my sinful plans and keep me from humiliating myself and Your Great Name. Amen.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wise behavior

1 Samuel 18:30b (also 5,14,15,30)
"...David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed."

With all of David's skills in combat, courage before bears & lions & giants, favor with the people and the blessing and anointing of God; David did not oppose Saul. The temptation must have been great to take advantage of such favor and pursue the throne or at least enjoy the benefits of it. However with all of this favor, David restrained himself and "behaved wisely." He even restrained himself from what was rightfully his in humbly passing up Saul's offer of his oldest daughter (1 Sam 17:25). Where did David get such wisdom?

Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Proverbs 15:33
The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

David did not fear Saul nor revere him but instead feared and revered the Lord. The wealth and power and blessings of Saul paled in comparison to what David knew awaited those who fear and follow God. Wise behavior is born out of such fear for God and knowledge of His precepts.

God - make me more reverent of You. Teach me to fear You that I may be wise in all my actions. Teach me Your precepts that I may walk in wisdom. Teach me restraint and strengthen me to wait on Your favor and blessings. Help me put myself aside and trust fully in You. Amen

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Heart

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

The book of 1 Samuel uses the word "heart" 16 times. Each time it is tied to something deeply passionate or deeply personal. Often it is influenced or changed by God. The NKJV Bible translates the word heart 926 times and the NIV 743 times.

1 Samuel 13:14b
"the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart"

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Luke 6:45
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Matthew 22:37
"Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

Father - Make me a man after Your own heart. Soften my heart and fill it with Your Spirit. Let good things flow from my heart; good words, good deeds, good will, good attitude. Let my heart be seen and known for love; love for You and love for others. Let my heart be a testimony to You and of Your gracious work. Amen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Obedience is sacrifice

1 Samuel 15:22
So Samuel said:
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

Saul was not intent on obedience or sacrifice, he was consumed with self promotion. In 1 Samuel 15:12 he even build a monument in his own honor. His only reason for or thought of sacrifice was as a justification for what he had done. This is a typical pattern after disobedience. We try to shift the balance in our favor by suggesting good to balance out the bad. Even I fall into this pattern. I justify sinful behavior by calculating all the time and compensation I've sacrificed by working at a church. I reason falsely that I am owed certain privileges or benefits in response to my sacrifice, almost as compensation. However, sacrifice with compensation is no sacrifice at all. Sacrifice is selfless. Sacrifice is also impossible without obedience. I can disobediently sacrifice but I cannot sacrificially disobey. Obedience is sacrifice. Obedience requires that I sacrifice my agenda, my ambition, my reputation, my comfort, my stuff, my life. This is what the Lord requires of me, nothing less.

God forgive me for justifying my disobedience with sacrifice. Humble me and help me learn to sacrificially obey daily. Amen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nothing restrains the Lord

1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few."

How often has my view of a situation been shaded by the obvious or physical details of this earth. How often have resources or timing or people or opposition been my focus instead of the Lord and His will?
In these tough economic times God is still able to save and to do ministry with $1 as well as with $1,000,000. If His people are faithful and obedient, there is nothing in this world that can hinder the Lord. (These only hinder in that God, by His character, has made them factors in accomplishing His ideal will for us. Otherwise the Lord able to rise up stones in order to bring Him glory.)
God is hindered by nothing. My obstacles are opportunities for God. My faith and obedience however are everything to Him.

God - make me more faithful and obedient. Strengthen my faith in your abundance and provision. Turn my focus from earthly things and let me see Your salvation. Amen.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Faith and Followthrough

1 Samuel 12:22-23
For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.

Samuel had perfect faith in the character of God. He knew the statutes of the Lord and understood the great things which God had done for His people. The sovereign Lord would not let His people be destroyed. However Samuel still went before God in petition for Israel. Samuel's faith and certainty in the goodness of God did not lead him to rest but to even more fervent prayer. For Samuel, prayer was not only a matter of need and seeking God's will, but moreover one of obedience. For Samuel, prayer confirmed what he already knew of the character and reputation of God and also what he himself committed to. Prayer confirmed his faith.
As for me, do I pray out of obedience? Do I pray only out of need? Is prayer a habit of answers rather than obedience? Will I pray regardless of my faith in the character of God to do what is right for His name sake?

Father - make me more faithful to pray. Drive me to pray out of obedience and not only out of need. Let my prayers be driven by faithfulness in spite of my faith. Amen.

Friday, April 17, 2009

a new heart

1 Samuel 10:9
So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.

This new heart given to Saul reminds me of the new heart God promised to all of true Israel in Ezekiel 36:26-27, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (also in Ezekiel 11:19 & 18:31) God was preparing Saul's heart to receive His Holy Spirit and lead His people. This must have been an Old Testament form of regeneration (removing sin & sins curse and recreating a whole new person on the inside). Without regeneration of the heart, the Spirit could not work and Saul could not lead according to God's will. It says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
While I believe that regeneration is a one-time event at the beginning of a believer's walk, I also believe it is a person and private event that occurs daily in all believers. I am regenerated, made new, daily through confession of sin, adoration of the nature of God and meditation on the Word of God. These habits soften my heart and allow me to hear and receive promptings of the Holy Spirit. Wen my heart is renewed and made right before God, then I can also lead God's people and confidently claim His victory in my life and His kingdom. Without regeneration, Saul and I are left leading out of our own sinful nature.

God, search my heart and remove my sin. Soften my heart to hear and receive Your Word. Strengthen my heart to do according to Your will. Set my heart apart for You alone. Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


1 Samuel 6:20
And the men of Beth Shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?”

Who is able to stand before this Holy Lord God? The answer is no one. The truth is that God is so Holy that no one is even able to stand before the Holy stuff of God. For sinful man, even the symbols of God were unapproachable.
I think that today it is difficult to witness the Holiness of God, consequently, it is difficult to even understand the Holiness of God. We have no Ark or Holy Temple or priestly ritual to observe. As Western churches and evangelical Christians, we tend to resist tangible symbols, religious rituals and mystical/spiritual traditions. The result is a common, manageable, safe faith devoid of fear, reverence and wonder. The side effect is a lost sense of Holiness, the wholly other and set apart. And while there is risk and temptation to abuse or idolize these symbols as Israel did the Ark of the Lord, the reward far outweighs the risk. To know the Holiness of God is well worth the risk.
So how can we bring back the Holiness of God to the church today? How can we bring back the fear of the Lord, wonder, awe and reverence?

Lord, make me Holy. Let my life; my words, my actions, my attitudes reflect Your Holiness. Set me apart from this world and even the stuff of religion. Make me a tangible living symbol and testimony of Your Holiness. Amen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the mind, heart and will of God

1 Samuel 2:35
Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.

Oh that I might be called a faithful priest, that I might be established and sure and that I might walk before the Lord forever! What a promise! What a covenant!
My role in this promise is simple - to DO according to the heart and mind of Christ. It's not enough to just know the Word of God or obey His law - my heart, mind, actions and attitudes must all conform to His nature.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 says, "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." This means to start that I can truly know the mind and will of God. In Ephesians 3:16-17a paul writes, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." I have the power and presence of Christ within me, I have His heart!
The big question is whether or not I will let His mind and His heart live through me to do and act like Jesus. I have no excuses for not... and in the end, I have no room for boasting. "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose," (Philippians 2:13).

Father - fill me with Your Spirit to know and to do all that is according to Your heart and mind. Make me more obedient and strengthen my resolve to honor You. Let me walk faithfully before You forever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pointing to Jesus

Luke 24:17
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Four times in this chapter Luke states that Jesus opened or explained the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Himself. It's as if, after thirty-three years of fulfilling prophesy, He was trying to say it couldn't you see it?... it's unmistakable, I'm unmistakable! God is not in the business of hiding from those who seek Him diligently (Matthew 7:8). But for those whose faith is shaken, who have lost some passion, Jesus goes the extra mile (figuratively and literally) and expounds to them in ALL the Scriptures, what was written concerning himself. He didn't just quote some easy proof texts or camp out in the prophets, He went end to end beginning with Moses and the Law, through the prophets and even the Psalms! According to Luke (and Jesus for that matter) everything written in the Old Testament points to Jesus!
I can't even imagine how awesome it would have been to walk with Jesus through the Old Testament and hear Him say, "Oh, and here too, this story is all about me!... There I am again!... And this is one of my favorites!... My greatx7 grandfather David wrote this one about me!" How awesome to hear the vary Word of God explained by the Son of God and illuminated by the Spirit of God!

Father - open my eyes to see Your Son Jesus on every page of my Bible. Open my heart to receive Your will for my life as I read. Deepen my hunger and thirst for Your truth and make me crave my time walking with You each day. Amen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Cross

Luke 23:26
Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.

I wonder what Simon was feeling and thinking as he was forced to carry the cross of Jesus? Did he follow out of knowledge of Jesus or was he just swept up in the frenzy of the crowd? Was he embarrassed to be associated (even if by mistake) with this rejected and condemned man? Was he compassionate enough to carry this suffering man's cross willingly or did he carry out of fear or compulsion? Was he afraid?... of whom? Was he angry?... at whom? How did it feel to bear the vary cross of Christ? Did Simon stick around Golgotha, even at a distance, to see how the story would end or how this man would respond? Did Simon take with him and splinters, literal or figurative, from carrying the cross of Christ?

What does it mean for me to carry the cross of Christ? Am I willing to be publicly associated with a rejected man? Do I stick close to Him even in fear, anger or insecurity? Do I follow all the way to Golgotha? Do I bear the splinters of the cross of Christ? Has my life been lost for, even wrecked by, the cross?

Luke 9:22-24
And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

Do I boldly identify with the cross of Christ, not just his love or good teaching? Do I willingly bear the suffering of my Savior and not just his victory? Like Simon, unless I willingly bear the cross of Christ, I will never find His victory.

Father - give me the courage to publicly identify with Your cross, Your sacrifice for mankind, Your atonement for sin; not just Your love, blessings and good teachings. Let me bear the splinters of the cross and the testimony of the Lamb of God. Amen.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Luke 22:25-26
And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.

Authority and position most often puff up. With titles and power come fear and corruption. These often lead to self-preservation and self-exaltation. However Jesus commanded and even demonstrated just the opposite. The means to true (not self) preservation and exaltation is not by authority but humility. When we put our agenda aside and place others before ourselves God becomes our defender and gives us His approval. In servanthood there is no fear. I don't have to worry of being demoted or being humiliated. When I serve I can only move up. As it says in James 4:10, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

Father - humble me. Make me more content to serve. Help me put my agenda aside and make others my priority. Let my preservation and honor come only from You. Make me more like Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Luke 21:12b-15
You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

When given the chance to speak, I often worry about what to say, how to say it, how I sound, how my words are woven together, etc... I even get a bit nervous when I am asked to stand up for my faith. Why?
I should feel excited to be found worthy of such an opportunity! I should feel proud for whose name I speak. I should feel vindicated because it is for His Name sake and not my own. I should feel honored to speak on behalf of the Name of Jesus.
I should not worry about my words because God created my mouth and He will fill it with His wisdom; after all, I speak for His Name sake. And when I speak I should feel somewhat glad to sound foolish, for the foolishness of God is greater than even the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). His wisdom will confound, confuse, convict and even convert my adversaries. I don't have to worry about being cleaver or eloquent or profound for it's not even my words that take effect but His. Ultimately, I don't have to worry because it's not about me... it's about Him. It's about His Name. What an honor to speak up for the Name of Jesus.

Father - humble me. Take away my pride that causes me to worry about what to say, how to say it and how I will come across. Fill me with Your wisdom that all would know that it is not I who speak but You. Let all my actions and words point to Jesus. Let me not rob Him of even one word of credit or one ray of glory. Draw others wholly to You through me. Amen.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

render to God...

Luke 20:25
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

What brilliance! I wonder if the spies to asked about taxes ever asked the logical follow-up to Jesus answer? Verse 26 says that "they marveled" and "kept silent." But did they ever ask, "then what is made in God's image that we ought to render to God?" God is not interested in the stuff of earth but in that which is eternal - His glory and His image stamped on the hearts of men. I am made in the image of God and I rightfully belong to Him.
Far too often I am willing to give God my earthly things; my worries, my problems, my job, my finances, my relationships, time, etc.... However I withhold from Him my heart. Like taxes unto Caesar, God is due my whole life and heart daily. So what would it look like to render to God what is made in His image?
I should daily conform more and more to the image of God in me. I should daily point others to God and His Glory. I should invest my life in the things that God values - the souls of men. I should lay aside and leverage the things of this earth for the sake of the kingdom. I should reflect His glory in all that I do and say.

Father - I give You my heart and my life. Conform me to the image of Your Son Jesus Christ. Use me for Your will, for the glory of Your kingdom. Remind me daily to give back to You what is rightfully Yours. Amen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

seeking out the lost

Luke 19:10
for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:47-48
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.

It would have been enough for Jesus to simply save us. I'm certain that the Jewish authorities would have gladly ended Jesus ministry years earlier (John 7:25). However Jesus was faithful and diligent to not only save that which was lost, but also to seek them out. He took time to pursue Zacchaeus. He boldly preached in the Temple even while they plotted to kill Him. Jesus invitation was not a generic offering but a targeted pursuit of His lost sheep.
Is it any different today? Isn't Jesus still pursuing His lost sheep through us? Shouldn't I then demonstrate the same fervor, boldness, dedication, courage and intentionality as Jesus? My invitation for the lost sheep in my life cannot be common, casual or generic. I must seek out that which is lost and proclaim boldly, publicly, daily that Good News until Jesus comes.

Father, give me the boldness and courage to seek out the lost. Help me to hear from the Holy Spirit and identify the lost sheep You are sending me to. Don't allow me to back down or be dissuaded by people or consequences or opposition. Make me more faithful to seek out the lost in my life. Amen