December 2, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 31

It’s the final day of 1 Samuel here at Jumpstart… and it really is a bitter end. Saul would accept defeat at the hands of the Philistines, the people who were constant “thorns in the flesh” to the people of Israel. Most of us, when reading this chapter, would look at the situation and inevitably say that Saul invited this as his end. I don’t disagree, but then you see that Jonathan died too. He was better than his dad in many ways, and was David’s closest friend. His death struck me harder than Saul’s did.

What to we glean from a sorrowful reading like this?

First, never stop walking closely with the Lord. Saul’s disobedience and pride led him to this humiliating blow. Some, if not all of this hardship could have been avoided had he submitted his heart to the Lord daily.

Second, remember that there are harsh consequences to your sin. Jonathan died because of his dad’s errors. David mourned bitterly (fast forward to 2 Samuel 1) because of both their deaths, and the people of Israel we disheartened.

Finally, even in the midst of our mistakes and the challenges of life, we can be confident that God will carry out His plans. The king that took take over for Saul — instead of Jonathan — was the one whose lineage Jesus Christ would come from. Temporary defeat for Israel? Yes. Eternal victory in Christ through the One True King of Israel? “Yes, and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

By: Todd Thomas

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December 1, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 30

The Bible is not a book that is immune to human suffering. Throughout the Scriptures we see bad things happen to good, godly people. We see people get what they don’t deserve. Any faithful reading of Scripture should not lead us to expect that life will be easy simply because we love God and have been saved by His grace. This is because, in a way, the full reward of God’s grace will not be received until the future. Salvation is both a present and future promise: present in that we have been saved from our sin and are being transformed closer and closer into the image of Christ, and future in that it will not be until we die or Jesus returns that we will see the full reward of this grace. We are living in a Kingdom that has not yet been fully realized, and therefore, we still see the effects of sin and suffering that are meant to point us to the eternal rest we will have with God because of Jesus Christ.

In today’s passage, David comes back to his city to see much of it destroyed and his family captured by the enemy. Look at how the ESV captures the emotions of David and his men:

And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep… And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters.

David is in great despair. Imagine what you would be feeling if your loved ones were taken captive and their lives were in danger. The truth is that every person would have similar emotions in this situation, but the test of character is proven in the reaction. Every person would feel fear, sadness, anger, shock, etc. but the way you respond even in despair will show where your trust lies.

Look at David’s reaction:

6 But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

In the face of suffering, David turned to God. When the temptation to find strength in his own resolve or power arose, he instead chose to rely on God. What does this say about David? It shows that God was truly his focus.

When suffering comes your way, where do you turn? Do you blame God or turn to God? Do you expect that you deserve an easy life free of suffering, or are you prepared to turn to God when suffering inevitably comes? This can be a hard truth to wrestle with, but one that we must be prepared for nonetheless.

By: Graham Withers

November 30, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 29

In this chapter, things do not really go quite right for David. He is with Achish and they are about to go to battle with the Philistines. The question of David’s presence and even loyalty come into contention. Achish comes to bat for David. He makes it known that he had been with David for the past year, and had found no fault in him. Yet the Philistine commanders still would not have it. They wanted David and his men gone. This didn’t really sit well with David. He wanted to be part of the battle and assist.

There are times in our lives when the circumstances are not what we want. They may not be what we expected, but that does not mean we have done anything wrong. Imagine the mess it may have caused if David had gotten really angry and lashed out over the decision made. Instead we see him take a step back and submit to the authority over him at the time, even when it wasn’t necessarily what he wanted.

There was no evidence that it would be a bad reason for David and his men to fight. There may be no good reason from your view for whatever is happening in your life right now that you do not agree with. The easy thing is to lash out and kick up dust and cause problems. What if you chose not to do that? What if you chose to be humble and accept the circumstance and see where God is moving that you may have missed. What you don’t read in this chapter is what happened following David’s return to Ziklag. Some very important things follow as a result of his return. Those things may not have come to pass if it were not for his willingness to submit to something he didn’t quite understand or see a reason for.

We may not see God’s full plan, but that does not mean it isn’t there.

Will you trust that plan and look for how God is moving in your circumstance today?

By: Dakota Gragg

November 29, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 28

Have you ever made a bad decision?  Do something you should have never done?  That’s where we find Saul.  Saul is God’s anointed king for the moment.  He’s chasing David and losing.  Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, has already confirmed that David would soon be the king.

Saul is at war with the Philistine army.  This army is big and powerful, so he’s full of fear.  He asked God what he should do – but God refused to answer him (v.6).  So what does Saul do?  He seeks his information elsewhere – from a psychic.  Very dangerous and very sinful.  

This should be a warning to us – Don’t mess with the occult in any form or fashion.  Don’t read horoscopes, don’t call the psychic hotline, don’t play with tarot cards or Ouija boards.  Don’t do it and don’t let your kids do it either.


Messing with Satan and his forces is NO game!  He’s real – he’s powerful – he’s evil.  You should have nothing to do with him – he’s the enemy and he’s out to get you.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith… 1 Peter 5:8-9a

 

  • How have you seen Satan function as an “angel of light” and deceive people?
  • Have you allowed yourself to be involved with any of these things?
  • How does God want you to change this?

By: Tim Parsons