The Importunate Friend

I learned a new word yesterday…importunate. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, importunate means – troublesomely urgent, overly persistent in request or demand, troublesome.

Today in Luke 11:5-8 we read about the Importunate Friend. In these verses Jesus told His disciples a parable about a man going to his friend at midnight and asking “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him” (5-6). Midnight is not a very good time to go asking for bread, but having nothing to set before a guest, regardless of time, was unthinkable for a host in Jesus’ day. The friend of the man refuses to help because everyone in his house is asleep. Jesus said, “though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (8).

I found it very interesting learning about the housing of the typical poor Israelite family. They often lived in a one-room house. Sometimes, the house also served as a part-time stable for the family’s sheep, goats, and chickens. All family members would sleep in the same room on a raised platform. They slept with their clothes on, covering themselves with the cloaks they had worn durning the day. They would sleep side-by-side on straw mats rolled out at night. Getting a whole family to bed was a considerable undertaking, as parents know. Once children were asleep, parents want to keep them that way. Once the animals were asleep, parents would want to keep them asleep too!

This was going to be a huge inconvenience to get up, unlock the heavy door, wake up the whole family + animals to give the neighbor bread. The man did not want to do it! But, he finally gave in and gave the man what he wanted because of his boldness and shameless audacity in asking in the middle of the night.

Jesus goes on to explain in verses 9-13, how much more will your Father in heaven respond to your bold and shameless requests when coming to him to meet your need. Jesus is not teaching us in this parable that we need to pester God until he finally gives us what we are asking for, but that we are to come boldly and shamelessly before God with an expectation that our need will be met.

Jesus told this parable to call us to shamelessly and boldly ask God the Father to help in times of need. An important difference, however, is that God is not answering from a locked house saying, “Do not bother me”, but He is saying, “ask…seek…knock” (9). If you truly need God, boldly come before Him in Prayer and shamelessly ask Him for what you need.

Also read, Psalm 117

God is in Control

I have definitely been shown in the past half century that I am NOT in control of my life! Most situations in my life have not had the outcome that I expected.

The most recent example of this is what has occurred in my family over the past 6 weeks. Next fall, we will only have 3 members of our family living here in our 5 bedroom home. My oldest 2 children will be off to college and that will leave just myself, my husband and youngest daughter for the next 3 years. Of course this could change in the drop of a hat, because as I stated in the first sentence…we are not in control of our lives. That being said, we have been considering “downsizing”. As this discussion became more prominent in our daily talks, we have had 2 different families, out of the blue, contact us about selling our house. I have spent countless hours cleaning and organizing to have the house “show ready”. Each time the people looked at our house we got very positive feedback. Then it was the waiting process. In the first 24-48 hours it seemed like both families looking were going to take the plunge and purchase our house. This began the excitement and thinking of all that we need to do to get ready to move and find a place to live. Lots of emotions take place in this time frame. Then, after we were at peace with moving, the people come back to say they are going to “Pass” on our house. And…just like that, the planning, dreaming, and excitement are over. We must go back to our normal day to day lives and be content with where we are planted (literally).

During this process we think we knew what the situation would be and even through praying we think we know how God is answering and what is going to happen in the future. Then, it all changes! Just proving to us that we are not in control!

Our parable for today demonstrates how I feel about what we have been enduring over the past month or so. I continue to ask, “where are you god?” “what are you doing in my life, Lord?”

Today we read The Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:26-29

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain-first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

If we can’t control our own lives, how much more true is that about the kingdom of God??? This parable reminds me (which I need on a daily basis) that I am dependent on God’s grace and mercy. God will bring the kingdom in His good time, even though I don’t know how or when.

I have no idea if our house will sell (it is not even on the market), but God does. Even as I sleep, He is working and moving.

This parable gives us freedom. It reminds us that we are not ultimately responsible for bringing in the kingdom…God is. God is both faithful and trustworthy. This does not mean that we can go about our days without God, we have a role to play. Even though the farmer may not know how the seed grows, he is called to plant, to wait, and to harvest. So also, you and I are called to participate in the kingdom even though it is beyond our comprehension or control. It is not our job to bring it all about, God tells us here in this parable that He will make the harvest happen. But while we wait for the harvest, we are to continue to scatter seed and know that God is at work. It does not all depend on Us! Thank YOU, Lord that we can trust that You will bring the seed to sprout and grow, it is not up to us to make this happen.

As for me, I am reminded that my belief in God gives me freedom. Because I have put my faith and trust in Him, I can sleep at night not knowing how situations will turn out, but KNOWING that He already KNOWS and in His time, His ways will be revealed to me.

Also read Psalm 105

New Cloth

I remember when my son was little and would inevitably wear holes in the knees of his jeans. I did not want to go and buy new jeans for him to run around and play in. Jackson and his friends were always climbing in trees, sliding into bases in the backyard, and running from house to house. All his jeans needed were a little patch. I am no seamstress, so I went to the store and found some iron-on jean fabric patches. I took his old worn-out jeans with holes all in the knees and got my iron out. I followed the directions and ironed these new patches on his jeans. Lets just say, it worked while the jeans were cooling on the ironing board, but as soon as Jackson put them on I knew it was too good to be true. The patch did not move with the old fabric. By the time my son went out to play and came back inside, the edges of the new patch were already pulling from the edges of the old fabric.

The parable we are looking at today illustrates exactly what happened to the patch on Jackson’s jeans!

Jesus said in Matthew 9:16: “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.”

So, why is this something Jesus feels we need to know and what is He really saying to us?

To really understand this parable, which is found in Matthew 9:16, Mark 2:21, and also in Luke 5:36, we need to look back on the previous verses. In the few verses before, we see the disciples asking Jesus why He and his disciples did not fast. The disciples and the Pharisees lived a life based on the Old Testament Law. They followed a long list of things they had to do in order to have a right relationship with God. Part of the Law was to fast one or two days a week. The Pharisees became very legalistic about following the rules. They were often fasting with the wrong motives. They did not fast to please and honor God.

In Matthew 9:16, the “old garment” represents the Old Testament law, the old law, the agreement that God had with his people and the things they would do. This was the agreement they had before Jesus Christ came to earth. When Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected into a new life in heaven then the New Testament covenant took place. The Covenant of Grace came into being.

The old garment seems to have a tear in it. The parable here is about the old laws. The people in the Old Testament had to fully follow all of the laws. The problem is that nobody can be perfect and live up to all of the rules. It is impossible to fulfill the law.  Living day by day trying to fulfill the law of God, with the law of God on your mind all the time, will tear you to pieces. You will live with guilt and shame all the time because nobody can follow all the rules all the time.

Jesus’ reference to new cloth was a way of saying that He did not come to patch up an old and worn-out religious system, but to replace it completely with a dynamic new way of teaching. Jesus’ new teaching was salvation by grace through faith in Him. This teaching is not compatible with the teaching of the law under the Old Testament. This new teaching could not be mixed with the old because of the new life and freedom. A new cloth sown on an old garment in Jesus’ day would shrink the first time it was washed and would tear away from the old garment that had already shrunk, making the hole worse. This illustrated that Jesus did not come to patch up the Old Covenant, but to replace it.

Jesus is the new patch, He cannot be combined with the old ways. His way is the gospel of grace. We cannot follow rules to be saved by Christ. He brought salvation to replace our need to follow the Old Covenant rules.

Also for todays reading:  Psalm 93

Does $ make you happy?

Writing these bi-weekly posts is complicated! I am sure each writer of this Bible Journal agrees that each post takes time of prayer, thought, research, study and time spent writing. We all want each post to be personal and soul-touching. We want God to speak to you through these words so that You, the reader my draw closer to our Heavenly Father. That being said, sometimes I dig too deep in what other people have said about my selection of verses for the day. I let their thoughts influence me and begin to think that what I have to say is not good enough. Well, today’s post might be pretty simple, but I believe God has put these simple thoughts in my mind to share with you today. Hopefully, you can draw near to God today and these words will creep into your thinking as you go throughout your day and think about serving God.

Our verse today is Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

We all know that money is important to survive day to day in this life. We need a roof over our head, clothes on our bodies, and food in our tummies. These are our basic needs, then we have all of the other needs that flood into our lives…medical bills, school loans, activity bills, car loans, extra-curricular expenses, and the list goes on and on, it never ends. I think back 20 years and remember when my husband and I were moving from 2 incomes to 1 income so that I could stay home with our soon to arrive newborn. We lived for a long while out of envelopes! Have you ever done this?? There is a certain amount of cash in each envelope and that is all you have for the month! We had envelopes for food, clothing, miscellaneous, entertainment, and emergencies. Every month without fail we would run out of the food money. We would be eating mac&cheese the last few nights of every month! It was not easy, but we ultimately were able to meet our goal of living on one income before our son entered this world. It was worth every bowl of pasta we ate!

This topic of envelopes just came up the other night in our house. We have some changes coming up for our family and we are discussing options as to where God may have our family headed in the next few years. Believe it our not, money plays a huge part in where we see ourselves in the future. We can base our future on what we could have and what the world would see as successful or we can focus on what God has in store for us and bring glory to Him by how we choose to spend our money.   It is fun to dream of “bigger and better”, but ultimately, we know that this will not make us happy. My husband and I came to the delightful conclusion that we are no happier today (not living out of envelopes) then we were 20 years ago! In looking at our future, we cannot put our focus on material possessions or how happy we think something will make us.

In preparation for changes coming to our family, we have been cleaning out our house! Closets, rooms, drawers, desks, storage rooms, and the garage! Why do we collect so many things?!?! In the past month we have donated, given away, and thrown away so much! Things that at one time we must have thought we needed, but only sat around and gathered dust. We are a culture of accumulators! The world around us tries to convince us that we need certain things. That our life will be easier if we have this gadget, or that we will be happier if we only add this ____to our life! Our family has a saying that pops up when we see something that is really enticing. My dad actually started this saying when we were growing up and because he was in the home building business it usually centered around seeing beautiful houses. He would take us to see these houses and we would really wish we could live there. He would say,  “Then We Will Be Happy!!!” We knew that just living in a beautiful house would not make us happy. That saying has transferred even to small things in our lives, like a new outfit, or even just a small un-needed purchase from the grocery store. We ask ourselves, “will that really make you happy?” Maybe for the moment or a couple hours, but ultimately the “happy” feeling will fade and need to be replaced by another purchase. Only God can fix our happy all the time. Our focus has to be totally fixed on God and what He has for us. It is so easy to get caught up in what everybody around us has and it is easy to get discouraged.

Jesus wants us to be content with Him and Him alone. We cannot store up treasures here on earth (Matthew 6:19) because God wants us to serve Him and not the things of this world. We should love God more than things. We should spend more time with God and less time on thinking of what might make us happy. We should sacrifice self for God and desire in our hearts to serve Him more and more each day. Loving God more than things should be our daily goal.

Psalm 80 today is pertinent to this text in Matthew!
Verses 8-10: “Listen to me, O my People, while I give you stern warnings, O Israel, if you would only listen! You must never have a foreign god; you must not bow down before a false god. For it was I , the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.”

Where do we pray?

Matthew 6:5-6 highlights the importance of where we pray and why. The purpose of prayer is to communicate with God. Our concern should be what God thinks of us and not what others may think. Jesus tells us in verse 6 to pray in secret so that there would be no temptation to impress other people and so that we can receive the Father’s full reward.

Jesus gives us these directions because he saw people praying for the wrong reasons. The hypocritical Jewish leaders pretended to be something they were not. That is what a hypocrite is – someone who acts out a part that is not true in reality. They gave the appearance that they were close to God, but in reality they did not really care what God thought of them. What was important to them was what the people thought. The Scribes and Pharisees wanted the people to think they were pious and close to God, so they made it their practice to pray in such a way as to be seen by men. They made a show out of their prayers. Their prayers did not reach God because they were not meant for God.

Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father who knows all secrets, will reward you.”
Do you have secret place that you can go to be alone with God? Mine is not too secret. It is just the corner of my couch with my Bible, my journal, and usually a cup of coffee. Secret prayer is actually not about the place where we pray. It is about praying, no matter where we are. Look at Jesus’ life of ministry. He did not have a home that he retreated to every night so that He could wake up every morning and have His prayer time on His couch. Matthew 14:23 shows us that Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds and his disciples and pray by himself; “After Jesus said goodbye to the people, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. It was late, and he was there alone”. He was always traveling and finding His secret place of prayer, up on the mountainside (as this Sermon on the Mount began), the Garden of Gethsemane, the wilderness, or a deserted place. It seems the Bible points out that Jesus had most of His alone time with God outside!!! When we are outside, we leave behind many distractions (family members, internet, phones, food, the massive list of to-dos) and we are surrounded by God’s glorious creation. Especially now that the snow is gone and the birds are singing! Jesus lived the habit of secret prayer outside.

When we withdraw from the public to our private place of prayer we can be sure that God is there with us. He comes near to us when we come near to Him (James 4:8). There are benefits to be had for coming to the private place and communing with God. Hebrews 11:6 says that God “rewards those who sincerely try to find him.” When we turn to God instead of turning to anything or anyone else, He is pleased with us and rewards us.

What a blessing to set aside a time of prayer in a secluded place. A place where you can pray without being interrupted. A place where you can pour out even the secret things of your heart. Do you have a place designated that you regularly visit to pray?

We are all SO ready for spring and warm weather. Get outside this weekend and have some secret prayer in God’s creation. Go for a walk, notice the beauty around you and listen to how God speaks to you through His creation.

Psalm 69:16
“Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Turn and take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful.”

Sermon on the Mount

How can we live a life that pleases God??

This will be our focus over the next 5 to 6 weeks. We are going to take an in-depth look at the Sermon on the Mount. We will explore Mathew 5,6,&7 and hear exactly what it looks like to live as a follower of Christ.

Matthew 5:1-2 is the reason that this passage is known as the Sermon on the Mount: “Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them…” The Sermon on the Mount is the most famous sermon Jesus ever gave, perhaps the most famous sermon ever given by anyone.

In many ways, Jesus’ teachings during the Sermon on the Mount represent the major ideals of our daily Christian walk. In these 3 chapters we will see Jesus teaching about prayer, justice, care for the needy, handling religious law, divorce, fasting, judging other people, salvation, and much more. The Sermon on the Mount also contains both the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

Jesus addresses our heart in these chapters. How we will live in the reality of our world and all that happens in our daily lives. In the She Reads Truth Devotional, the reference is made that “Jesus transformed the law from a back-breaker to freedom-maker.” Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law so that we may experience freedom. “Freedom from sin, freedom from self. Freedom from hopelessness and death. Freedom from rule-based religion. Freedom to love and be loved by a holy and merciful God.” (She Reads Truth)

Lets look with an open heart over the next weeks as Jesus speaks to us from the hill above. He is not telling us what to do, but how to live. Jesus wants us to be close to Him. To experience freedom in this life, these chapters show us that we will only find freedom in Him.

Also, read Psalm 57

Sin and Consequences

 

Todays reading: 2 Samuel 13 and Psalms 45

Have you had a chance to open your Bible and read 2 Samuel 13 yet? If you have not had the chance, go ahead, open your Bible, and give it a read…

Well, how do you feel? Feel like you just turned on your TV and watched some show that you know is not appropriate?? When I began reading this chapter, I thought, “Seriously?? I do not want to have to write about this!!!” It is eye-opening to read about such sinful, horrible acts that took place back in David’s day and to realize that not much has changed in todays culture. Think Tamar would have joined in the #metoo movement of today???

Here is a quick synopsis of who’s who in this 13th chapter:

Amnon – the firstborn son of King David and Ahinoam
Absalom – son of King David and Princess Maakah, of Geshur
Tamar – daughter of King David and Princess Maakah, of Geshur
Jonadab – son of King David’s brother, Shimeah

Both Absalom and Tamar were very attractive and had luxurious hair. Absalom was the most handsome man in all of Israel. Tamar was a very beautiful girl who remained a virgin. Amnon was in love with his half-sister, Tamar, lust raged in him. However, he could not get near her. Jonadab, son of King David’s brother devised a scheme and asked Amnon to lie down in his bed, pretending to be sick. When king David visited him, he was to request the king to send Tamar to cook food for him. The plan worked and the king did so. When Tamar gave him the cooked food, he caught hold of her. Tamar pleaded with him, saying “No, do not force me!” Amnon gave no attention to her words. Using his physical strength, he subdued her and raped her, against her wish. After his lust was gratified, he hated her more than he loved her earlier. He then insisted that she get out of his sight and leave immediately. Tamar begged again that he not to do this to her, but Amnon would not listen to her words. She was dragged out of his chamber by means of force and the door was shut.
When Tamar’s brother Absalom learned about the disgrace that was brought upon his sister, he waited for the right opportunity to take revenge. He pacified Tamar and asked her to stay calm. King David learned about this incident and did not take any action or issue any punishment.
After two years, when Amnon was drunk, Absalom killed him. He then fled to Geshur, his mother’s place and stayed for three years.
King David mourned due to this sad incident, the death of Amnon and now, because of the absence of Absalom.

After forcing myself to spend some time on this chapter, I have a few thoughts…

In the chapters leading up to this, we read of David being such a Godly man. He upheld King Saul and Jonathan and treated them with kindness, even though he had reason to act otherwise. But then, we see his humanness evolve in chapter 12. David marred the image of God’s love by taking Bathsheba, another man’s wife. Then the whole thing snowballed out of control as his whole family was caught up in the injustice. In the previous chapter, 2 Samuel 12:11 says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.’” This is the beginning of the consequences that will be upon David’s family for the sin he committed.

Whose advice do you take and listen to?? In this text, we see that Amnon listens to Jonadab in verse 5 and takes his advice to pretend he is sick in bed. Jonadab comes up with a scheme so that Amnon can fulfill his lusts for his sister, Tamar. People can lead us into trouble. Before taking the advice from a person, we need to closely watch the personality and character of the person we are seeking advice from. It is so important to keep wise counsel. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers”

I remember when my kids were in middle school and we were just beginning to really deal with peer pressure and using the phrase, “if someone asked you to jump off a building, would you do it?” We tried to bring reality to a situation and to help them stop and think before they acted. I do not think that Amnon stopped to think about what he was about to do. He acted on his lust. If we stop for a moment and whisper a prayer for guidance, our steps may change. Imagine if David would not have given in to his temptation of Bathsheba. This might have changed the whole direction of his family and they would not have had to endure the consequences of his sin. God forgives our sin, but we still have to deal with the consequences.

This Word of God is here in explicit detail to teach us that sin has consequences. Yes, you can be forgiven for the act of your sin, but you will face the consequences of the sin committed.  The great news of the gospel is that we do not need to suffer the wrath of God for our sin. Jesus Christ has already paid the penalty for all of us. 1 Corinthians 15:3 says, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”.  We have the choice to receive His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

David’s Lament

Today we are looking at Chapter 1 of 2 Samuel.  This book begins where 1 Samuel left off.  Simply, turn the page and keep reading.

In verses 1-16, we read that David returns to the town of Ziklag and learns from an Amalekite that both king Saul and Jonathan are dead. The man shows up to tell David what he thinks will be good news. The man probably thinks that David will be somewhat happy after all that David had to endure from King Saul. David had more reasons to kill Saul than anyone, yet he passed up the opportunity to do so two times. We would think that Saul’s deaths would be a huge relief to David, but this would underestimate his character. He lived out what the Lord Jesus taught His disciples, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).

David ends the chapter, verses  17-27 with a Lament. A lament is an expression of sorrow and mourning. A “lamentation” is a sad song. David wrote deep, emotional, painful, hard words from his heart for Saul and Jonathan.

We have read about the unique strong friendship of David and Jonathan, so it is not surprising that David mourns his friend. However, you wouldn’t think this was a song written about a man who was trying to kill David.

We can learn from David’s example. We should look for the best in people, hoping to God that they will repent from sin and turn to him. We must love our enemies (Saul) and our friends (Jonathan) until the day they die, trusting God for the best in their lives.

In this first chapter we see David lament his losses and seek the Lord during yet another time of trial in his life. This is a great example for us today. We should turn to Christ despite terrible situations where our emotions may run rampant and try to control us. David knew what sorrow was. In Isaiah 53:3, Christ is called “a man of sorrows”. Because of this, we can turn to Jesus no matter the situation because He will know perfectly well what we are going through.

Also for todays reading…Psalm 33

Is Jesus your friend?

In Proverbs 17:17 we read that, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

David and Jonathan are a perfect picture of Proverbs 17:17. Through many circumstances that have been discussed in the past chapters of 1 Samuel, we see that David and Jonathan have a very close relationship. In our chapter today of   1 Samuel 20, we read about the adversity that David is facing and how his friend Jonathan is there for him. This story teaches us much about meaningful friendship, but as always, it more importantly points us to the gospel.

In the first verse of this chapter David confided in his friend Jonathan. He poured out his heart that was full of frustration. He says, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?” Sometimes, we need a friend to pour our our soul to. Someone who will just listen, not judge. Someone who will not tell anyone else what we are saying.

We continue to read in chapter 20 about a plan that Jonathan comes up with to reveal his father’s plans toward David.  David was going to skip dinner with the king to go be with his family. If the king was ok with him being gone, then everything was fine and David was not in trouble with the king. But if Jonathan told King Saul that David was visiting his family and the king became angry, then they would know that the king wanted David dead.  But David worried about Jonathan’s safety, that King Saul would turn on him as well. Jonathan and David made a covenant (an agreement). In three days after Jonathan knew the answer about King Saul and David, he would shoot three arrows near a certain rock. If he told his servant boy that the arrows were near, then all was well with David. If Jonathan told the boy that the arrows were beyond, then David would know to flee for his life. Jonathan soon learned that the King was furious with David. So, on the third day, Jonathan shot his arrows and announced that they were beyond the boy. When the boy was sent away, David appeared to Jonathan out of hiding. They hugged and wept. Jonathan told David to go in peace and to remember their covenant between them. Jonathan said to David in verse 42, “Go in peace, for we have a sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’”

Jonathan and David were real men who understood what it meant to lay down their lives for one another. How rare is this kind of friendship in the world today! But we can have this kind of friendship with God and Christ. In John 15:13-15 Jesus says to His disciples, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his mater’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

This record of David and Jonathan’s friendship in the Bible is for our benefit. It pictures the close relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ. They desire the same close, personal relationship with every human being. Yes, Jesus is our Savior, and Yes, Jesus is our Lord. But He is also our friend. And that reminds us of the love He has for us. It reminds us of the personal relationship He has with us. It personalizes the gospel for us. Jesus is our friend. Even the great demonstration of David and Jonathan’s friendship pales in comparison to Jesus’ perfect friendship with us. Jesus is the friend who will never fail. He is the friend who will always be there. The friend who loves and cares for us.

Is Jesus your friend??

Also read Psalm 21

Choices

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 8 and Psalm 9

From the first time I read this chapter about 5 days ago, I was blown away at the pertinence of this passage from SOOO many years ago! I can not believe the relevance it still has in our lives today!! The people of Israel were human and faced the temptations of following man, just like we do today!! In our home this week, we have been dealing with typical teenage issues. The underlying problem is that our lives of following Jesus and His Word, look different than many of my girls’ friends lives and they don’t like how that feels. They understand why we have certain rules and expectations, but it is hard, because we are not living like everyone else. We have been battling this conversation for the past few weeks and then I read this chapter and am reminded again how this has been a battle since the days of Samuel. Our human desire is to be like all the other people we are surrounded with.

In 1 Samuel Chapter 8, Samuel is now old. He names his sons to replace him as judges of the Israelites. Both of his sons, Joel and Abijah serve as judges in the town of Beersheba. However, they are not wise or righteous like their father. They abuse their authority and they accept bribes. The people do not like how they rule, so they approach Samuel and ask…

verses 4&5 – Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Look, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations.”

Pay close attention; they did not demand a king “after God’s own heart” but rather a king “like all the other nations”.
Why didn’t the people ask for a king “after God’s own heart”? The people’s eyes and hearts had strayed from the Lord;

The children of Israel want to be like the “nations”. Have you ever felt sick and tired of being “different”? Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just be like everyone else.

Be careful what you ask for. Sometimes God will allow it.

In verses 9 the Lord says; “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”     

What follows is a laundry list of known behaviors of neighboring kings. The list includes all of the disadvantages of having a king rule over them. The Lord wants the people to know exactly what they are asking for and how much it will cost.

One of the most terrifying things that can happen to a person is that God allows us to go forward in our own plans, ideas and purposes. The greatest judgement is that God allows us to have your own way.

Pleasing the Lord was the last thing on the Israelites mind. What they wanted was a guarantee that their enemies would leave them alone. They wanted a real live, tangible, visible, accessible, knowable King. Someone who would judge them, and fight their battles. Someone they could see and follow. They found it too difficult to believe in a God revealed in a book, an invisible God, and obey his commandments. In spite of all that the Lord had done for them (escape from slavery, provision in the wilderness, occupation of the land) they turned their back on the Almighty God and chose a frail, weak, temporal human being to rule over them.

In these verses, Samuel warned the people that the king they were choosing was not God’s perfect will for them. He told them exactly why they would suffer as a result. However, the people ignored Samuel and chose Saul to be their king. This was absolute rebellion to the Most High God.

The people wanted to be like all the nations and have the king they chose. By choosing the king and rejecting the One True God, God would not answer them as a result. What a terrible price to pay for making choices that are contrary to the Lord’s will! When the Lord seems to be silent in our lives, we must examine our hearts and see if we have rejected His directions and gone our own way.

CHOICES – They are so important in our ives in general and especially as we pursue living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. If we make decisions based on our desire to fit in and be like everyone else, we will also suffer the consequences. Many times, our hearts are broken as a result of bad choices we make. However, our Most High God is compassionate and forgives us when we ask Him to do so in Jesus’ name. If Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we will desire to obey God’s will and the choices we make will lead to the healing of our broken hearts.