Do we really want to hear what God has to say to us?

Psalm 291 Samuel 28

In 1 Samuel 28, Saul, at the end of his rope, visits a medium to get advice on how to salvage his kingdom. He has the nerve to ask for Samuel to be called up from the dead in hopes that the prophet will give him useful knowledge from beyond the grave.

This is a really unusual event – Samuel actually appears from the dead and prophesies to Saul. But the prophesy doesn’t do Saul any good. Saul wanted knowledge that would help him  win, but that isn’t why God gives us his word. God gives us his word to teach us that he alone is God and that we have no hope outside of him.

God speaks directly to us through scripture. Do we actually want to hear what he has to say? Is our desire to hear some additional word (outside of scripture) a sign of our devotion, or instead is it a desire to ignore what has already been revealed through scripture?

Lord, help me to listen to your word with an open heart and open mind. Please help me to seek you first, and not to look for truth in other places. Thank you for sending Jesus to take away our sins, and for the promise of forgiveness.

An Imperfect King


Good Morning, it’s another Monday! Thank you for starting your week with Bible Journal. Today’s readings are: 1 Samuel 27 and Psalms 28. After reading today’s chapter in 1 Samuel, I found myself getting a little confused about the whole Saul and David story. I know most of our readers are way beyond my level of experience and knowledge of the Bible, but just in case…here’s a recap:

While Saul is still king, Samuel appoints David as the next king of Israel. As a young man David slays Goliath the champion of Philistine. During this time he develops a friendship with Jonathan, Saul’s son. When Saul realizes that Samuel has appointed David as the future king he gets super jealous. After that Saul works really hard to chase David around and kill him. In today’s reading, David has fled to Ziklag (the land of the Philistines) in order to avoid Saul. Spoiler alert: Saul is eventually takes his own life in the face of eminent death (Chapter 31 if you want to check it out).

So this is the second time that David has sought refuge in Philistine territory under the protection of King Achish. Since David is out of the country, Saul stops the chase as the immediate threat to his throne is gone. Of course, it’s easy to view David as this righteous guy that is just doing his best to follow God’s command whilst simultaneously avoiding his jealous predecessor. Indeed, in Acts 13:22 God refers to David as a man after His own heart:

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him:’I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” Acts:13:22

I’m starting to feel a little jealous of David too now that we know how much God trusted in him! David has a lot of admirable qualities: shepherd, giant killer, poet and king. But alongside that list of wonderful qualities is another list of not so great qualities: betrayer, liar, adulterer, and even murderer. Yet what we remember about this great king is his humbleness before God. David’s failings may resonate with you far more than his greatness in the eyes of God. But I read something in my study Bible this week that changed this notion for me: David, more than anything else, had an unchangeable belief in the faithful and forgiving nature of God. David never took God’s forgiveness lightly or his blessing for granted. In return, God never held back from David either his forgiveness or the consequences of his actions. David experienced the joy of forgiveness even when he had to suffer the consequences of his sins.” (NIV Study Bible).

 If that didn’t just change your life, read it again. God never held back his forgiveness or the consequences of David’s actions. So David experienced the joy of forgiveness as a result of suffering the consequences of his sins. God brought this lesson home for me in a real way this morning before I sat down to write.

Our seven year old decided to test some boundaries related to obedience this weekend. I found myself getting so angry with him when he smirked while refusing to go upstairs and get dressed for bed. When I took away his iPad and the TV he said, “Sure, I can live with that, no problem!” I had to take a deep breath and pray for guidance. When more sassy words came my way this morning I decided to give our little guy just what he was asking for, I made him a grown up for the day. After an hour of folding laundry it was on to dishes. Then bathroom scrubbing, bed making and finally meal planning. When we arrived at the grocery store I pulled up in front of Meijer, handed him his shaky misspelled list and said, “pick you up in an hour!” That’s when he cracked, he sobbed all the way home in his car seat. Only then could we have a clear conversation about authority, obedience, humility and respect. It was so hard to wield that consequence all day. I just wanted to relent and give him back his screen or let him go outside to play. But God gave me the strength and the wisdom to understand that there cannot be joy and redemption in forgiveness if my little one didn’t first understand and experience the consequence. David learned from his sins because he accepted the suffering they brought. Too often we don’t learn from our mistakes and thus get stuck in the same sin again and again. As we start another fresh week, I challenge you to ask yourself, what changes do you need to make for God to find obedience in you?




Wait on the Lord

1 Samuel 26 and Psalms 27

1 Samuel 26 reads like a repeat of 1 Samuel 24, that we explored two days ago with Jennifer Armstrong.  The circumstances are two different events, although  similar, with Saul once again pursuing David. David has another opportunity to kill him, yet he shows mercy for the second time.  The picture Jennifer painted of choosing reconciliation over revenge, and trusting God’s authority, is applicable to this chapter as well.

I love how Psalms 27 so clearly describes David’s experiences outlined in 1 Samuel. He shows us that putting the Lord at the center of his life removes his fears (verse 1). Surrounded by enemy armies, he declares his confidence in God’s protection (verse 2-3). Even when David had the opportunity to take control, kill his enemy, he chooses to show mercy and allow God to work how He will.  TWICE!

Like David, we can trust God to deal with our enemies. Do you have a Saul in your life that you need to commit to the Lord’s hands?  He is the supreme authority, the righteous judge, and the ultimate miracle worker.  As a mentor once told me, “Let that go… it’s above your pay grade. That’s work that the Lord will do”.

I’m so encouraged by David’s cries out to the Lord in this Psalm, seeking wisdom and leadership (verse 11) in the middle of his drama. He chooses to WAIT for the Lord, even when under duress.

In contrast, my instinct is to take action. The Lord continues to give me opportunities to be patient and wait on Him. I’m a problem-solver, coming up with a mental action plan for the 12 “what-if” scenarios I create in my mind for any given situation. Inaction can make me uneasy, even when I know that immediate action isn’t always the best solution.  Waiting – whether it’s on direction from the Lord, or for my kids to get in the car – does not come easy.

I can think of a big season of waiting in my life, while handling hurts at the hands of others. God used this time to grow my trust in Him, He provided more wisdom, and delivered hope.  He protected my heart from seeking revenge, and in time, turned it toward reconciliation.  Had I taken immediate action, the outcome would be very different.  While the waiting can be the hardest part, in hindsight, we can see the beautiful work God does. For me, more time brought more truth.  And more time and truth brought more healing.

Lord, Thank you for being a righteous judge.  Please give us an ear to hear your direction and a heart to follow. Help us to know the difference of when you are leading us to wait and when you are leading us to action. Amen 

A way out.

Today’s reading in 1 Samuel 25 has a fascinating story where David shows kindness to a man named Nabal, then humbly asks Nabal for a favor. Nabal’s response is selfish, rude and offensive. David is so furious he makes plans for revenge, and a bloody one at that.

I see God’s story and our story throughout this chapter. I love how God speaks to us in every Biblical story showing us his good nature, his good plans, his love, his mercy, and his grace!

  1. There was a gift, one that wasn’t earned: David’s initial assistance to Nabal. I think of all of the gifts we are given on a daily basis from a loving God that point to him as the giver, asking for our hearts to turn to him, to acknowledge him as the giver, give thanks, and give back to him what is his.
  2. The response to the gift was sinful. This is our sin. We too often take God’s good gifts and use them for our own selfish desires or we don’t acknowledge God as the giver by thanking him.
  3. God’s vengeance is justified in that without Jesus, just one sin can separate us from him.  Our vengeance is not justified (as David planned to do). Vengeance is God’s: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
  4. Forgiveness was requested. Nabal’s wife Abigail lowered herself, humbly begged for forgiveness and acknowledged The Lord.
  5. Mercy is granted. Praise God loving us and for his plan for salvation through Jesus Christ! All we need to do is humble ourselves before him and acknowledge Jesus and our slate is clean.
  6. God’s eventual judgment of the non repentant heart. Yikes! “And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.” (1 Samuel 25:38)

What also was clear in this chapter is the reminder that God always gives us a way out when we are tempted to sin. David was tempted yet given a way out through Abigail’s intervention.

On my heart through writing this post were some of the lyrics from the song “Do it Again” by Elevation Worship. He makes a way when it seems there is no way… something about this part of the song nearly always brings me to tears.

I’ve seen You move, come move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

Praise God for this promise and the countless times he’s given us a way out. Amen.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Today’s reading links: 1 Samuel 25 & Psalm 26

Revenge or Reconciliation

Today’s reading:  1 Samuel 24, Psalm 25

Chapter 24 of 1 Samuel opens with Saul and three thousand troops headed out to search for David. Ever since David killed Goliath in Chapter 17, women began to praise David more than Saul, and Saul was enraged with jealousy.  He was desperately trying to track down and get rid of David.  Hence, David was running for his life.

The plot became more interesting in verse 3 when Saul entered the cave in which David was hiding. He didn’t know David was in there, he was simply answering “the call of nature” and needed a semi-private place to go to the bathroom.  In short, this was David’s perfect opportunity.  God seemingly delivered Saul right into his hands.  Instead of running away, David could have gone on the offensive, taken out Saul, and claimed the throne that was coming to him anyway, right?

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? I’ll be honest, I can’t identify exactly.  I’ve never been in such a desperate situation where I had to run and/or hide from someone who was literally trying to kill me.  I have, however, been in situations where people were jealous.  Where others didn’t like me or what I stood for and, as a result, tried to harm me.  In most of these cases, I’ve had to make a choice between getting revenge and pursuing reconciliation.  My heart often wanted revenge while my head always knew reconciliation was the right choice.

Let’s take a closer look at how David worked through this this situation. We know he went on to be the greatest King God’s people ever had.  The Bible refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart”.  Because he sought reconciliation instead of revenge, he produced a completely unexpected outcome in this situation.

  • David made every effort to show mercy to his enemy (1 Samuel 24: 7-11) – In this case, David respected Saul’s position of power. Although Saul was trying to kill him, David knew it wasn’t right to take the life of another, especially God’s anointed King. He didn’t harm Saul, nor would he let any of his men harm Saul even though the opportunity was right in front of them.
  • David made every effort to communicate and build understanding with his enemy (1 Samuel 24:12-15) – By revealing the piece of robe he cut off, David helped Saul understand the opportunity he had to kill him. He went on to clearly profess his commitment to God’s authority, and allowed God to judge the situation.
  • David made every effort to be reconciled with his enemy (1 Samuel 24:16-22) – When Saul realized David’s genuine intent to make good from Saul’s evil actions, he asked David to have mercy on his family and descendants. David promised to honor Saul’s request, even after what Saul had done to him. In 2 Samuel 9, we will see David’s follow through on this promise when he invited Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, to live in his palace.

Will you take a few minutes to reflect on David’s approach and his commitment to honor his promises? He humbled himself, returned good for evil, turned hate into honor, and glorified God through a hopeless situation.  This is an example worth following.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27-28).

Inquire of the Lord

Today’s reading is from 1 Samuel 23 and Psalm 24

Throughout this chapter of 1 Samuel 23, David is “inquiring of the Lord”. Five different times, David stops to ask God what to do next, and God answered. He cared for David in the midst of his inquiry by bringing guidance and encouragement from trusted people. Abiathar the priest and Jonathon his friend were there to encourage him and confirm he was doing the thing God asked of him.  Saul was not spending time inquiring of the Lord. He was on the hunt to kill David. If he had stopped to consider Gods will he would have had to lay aside his jealousy, anger, and bitterness. He was so far from God that he actually believed that David had been delivered into his hands. How deceived we can become when we stop inquiring of the Lord and start following our own desires. We become angry, mean, jealous, anxious, scared, isolated and bitter………just like Saul.

Do you feel “hunted” by a Saul sized problem? Are you inquiring of the Lord or trying to manage things on your own?  As you seek Gods guidance, look for the Jonathons and Abiathar’s God has placed in your life to encourage and spur you on. Or perhaps God has given you the opportunity to be the encourager.

Travel Light

Happy Tuesday Biblejournal family, I’m consistently reminded each day when we open up His word how great it is we are doing this together.  Keep it up! God loves you and He has great plans for you!

As I just wrapped up the book Traveling Light by Max Lucado I open up my email to see what I will be writing about this week, and sure enough its Psalm 23.  The same chapter the book Traveling Light is about.  I then proceed to get my verse of the day fro my bible app that says,  The Lord is my shepherd… Psalm 23.  God is always looking to speak to us when we are looking for and willing to listen.  So while you read through the promises of Psalm 23 let go of the burdens you were never meant to hold on to.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord forever.

the Lord is my Shepherd.   As I have tried to do things on my own and failed, or think I have it right, I can find rest from thinking things have to be my way.

When the commercial comes on or I’m driving along and I think that I need to have it.  I can have rest from the endless wants. Why? Because I shall not want.

He makes me lie down.   When the days are long and my eyes and thoughts are glazed over by our schedules we have to keep.  I can find rest from weariness.

When I’m struggling with a decision, or thinking about the future. I can find rest from the worry. Why? Because He leads me.

He restores my soul.   When I have failed, let others down, or just falling short in a variety of areas. I can find rest from my hopelessness.

When my decisions are poor or I make misguided choices. I can find rest in my guilt. Why? Because He leads me in the paths of righteousness.

His name’s sake.   When I think its all about me. I’m selfish. I can find rest in my arrogance.

When you know someone who has passed or wonder what lies ahead for you. I can find rest from the valley of death. Why? Because He walks me through it.

He guides me.    When I’m afraid of the unknown, when the world says one thing and God tells us something else. I can find rest from my fears. His presence comforts me.

When I’m feeling alone. I can find rest in my loneliness, because He is with me.

He has prepared a place for me in the presence of my enemies.   I can find rest when all I want to do is run and hide.

When I’m disappointed one day and envious the next. When I doubt where I’m going or where I have been. Why? Because He anoints me, my cup will overflow, and He follows me.

When your wondering about a purpose, feeling lost, or wondering where to go next. Have rest from your homesickness. Why? Because You will dwell in the House of Our Lord forever.

Traveling Light, Max Lucado. The Promise of Psalm 23

So set down the extra luggage.  Those burdens that you still cling to. We will never truly enjoy this amazing journey in God’s presence carrying it all.  I know many years of my life I have done just that.  And before I set my brain and heart down that destructive path right now, I’m reminded of Matthew 11:28 ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”

Let’s take on today with Our God who is right next to our side.  He provides with everything we need to face any circumstance. All those bags from past years or yesterday He is waiting to take them.

God,  Thank you for your encouraging and loving words.  That as we walk through this day and everyday we keep our eyes on You. standing by our side saying come with me.  Help us to come and let go of the things that stand in our way.  We love you.  Amen


Today’s readings: Psalm 23, 1 Samuel 22





Love vs. Law


Today’s Reading:  I Samuel 21; Psalms 22

In today’s reading, we find David, our anointed king running for his life. King Saul has been attempting to trap and kill David, but Jonathan has been a savior for David. This friendship has proven more valuable than the relationship that Jonathan and his father, Saul, had together. In I Samuel 21, David is fleeing and terrified for his life and safety. David enters the temple of God and request food and weapons.

I Samuel 21: 1-6

 Then David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

It was against the Levitical Law for anyone to eat of the holy bread except the priest and this was a very important law, which had fatal consequences if broken. The priest was faithful, even with the potential of death to show love for David. David had been anointed the next king of Israel, but it was not revealed to many.   But the Spirit of God revealed something in David to the priest, and this caused the priest to show compassion toward him. By listening to the Spirit, the priest empowered David to face his adversaries with the needed nourishment and protection. This account with David is so impactful that Christ in the New Testament about the Love vs. Law scenario references it.

Matthew 6: 1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Over the last several weeks, I have been reading and spending meaningful and intentional quite time and have had several enlightenment times that circle back to the necessity of learning the word of God, but allowing the Spirit of God to lead and direct me. Sometimes I get wrapped up in the “obligatory” and traditional ways and manners of worship and lose sight of the true purpose of the “why”.   In this passage the priest listens to the Spirit of God and loves the person and presence of God in David.   I have attempted to be more like David and search for God’s heart. As Christ and David understood and lived, “God desires mercy, not sacrifice”. It’s not the “act” that God wants from us, it is the “want and need” to be close to him. Can we desire God more today, this week, and so on going forth?

Lord, allow us to desire you the same way that you desire us. Allow us to love you as you have loved us. I pray that my prayers and actions are not just to perform them, but to actually seek you and your presence. Amen

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


1 Samuel 19, Psalms 20

What do you believe about prayers?  Does God answer them?  Does he answer them the way that we want?  Your beliefs about prayer also reveal what you believe about God.  For example, do you believe that he for you, or against you?   Consider your position as you read Psalm 20. 

v1a – How do you expect the Lord to answer you in your day of trouble?  

v1b – God protected Jacob, how would you like for him to protect you?  

v2 – Do you ask for his consecrated, most holy and perfect help?

v3 – We dare not remind him of our meager offerings…

v4 – Does he know your plans and heart’s desire?

v5a – Are you thankful for the life that he provides?

v5b – Are you waiving his flag, remembering and celebrating his name?

As I considered these questions for myself, I made an interesting and scary observation.  I discovered that I am want to leave them undefined and unanswered.  I think we all are.  We think that doing so will keep us safe.  It wont.  Instead, it holds us back, preventing us from reaching our potential.  The very potential that God, our creator, endowed us with.  Even worse, when we believe that God cannot or will not help us, it robs him of glory.