November 28, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 27

While David was certainly a man after God’s own heart, he was not a perfect man by any means. The Bible is unapologetic in revealing to us the accounts of David that show his sin struggles. Yet another way God graciously reveals to us that His Word is true and can be fully trusted is that it’s raw and real. A fictional story of a hero like David would have surely omitted many of the faults we see of him in Scripture.  Our passage today is one of those times in scripture we see the chinks in the armor of David.

David has been on the run for his life from Saul for some time at this point. Understandably, he is exhausted and coming to a breaking point. He has tried to reconcile with Saul and even spared his life when he had the chance to take it because of his reverence for the Lord. But, we see in our text today that David is getting discouraged and begins to allow this to drive his thinking and actions. He is driven from Israel and enters the land of Israel’s enemies (Philistines) and reach out to their king for sanctuary. This leaves us kind of scratching our heads. What is going on with David? I believe that the answer can be found in verse 1 as God gives us a view of the struggle that was going on in David’s heart.

Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

We see is that in the midst of this struggle with Saul, the first place David seeks counsel is from his own heart. There we see that his heart’s reply is, “FEAR! I’m going to die, Saul will never rest until he kills me, and I must flee from my homeland and seek security from the enemies of the Lord.” We see a huge truth here in David’s life that directly applies to ours. We cannot look to our own hearts and rely on our own emotions and feelings to direct our lives in a God honoring direction. Look at what Jeremiah the prophet says:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Had David sought the Lord instead of his own understanding he would have certainly been reminded of the faithfulness of God’s hand time and time again in his life. He would have also been reminded of his identity as God’s anointed King over Israel. Had David surrendered his heart to the truth of God’s character and faithfulness, as well as, the calling God had clearly placed on his life; he wouldn’t have been driven out of fear, he would have been driven by his faith.

Each one of us is in the midst of a struggle of some kind right now in our lives, and we have the same tendency as David displays here which is to look to our own hearts for counsel first instead of God. We must realize that our hearts are sick, diseased, and prone to sin which leads us in a direction that is not honoring to God or good for us. No matter what you’re going through today, what decision needs to be made, what temptations you face, you need faith to face it and not fear. The only place you will find faith is from being reminded of the character and faithfulness of God in your life and the high calling he has placed on your life. Be reminded of the gospel today and let your heart believe truth so that your life will honor God make your path straight.

By: Matt Mofield

November 26, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 26

25 Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” 27 The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25–29, NET, italics mine)

Acts 13:22 refers to David as a man after God’s own heart. The idea of “the heart of God,” as my Connect Group surely knows, has been rolling around in my head for some time. I see this as a repeated theme in Scripture, evidenced in many passages, including today’s reading in 1st Samuel 26.

As you examine the OT Law, it is summed up very well by the religious expert in the Luke passage above (Lk 10:27). The OT Law, with its precepts toward holiness, taught God’s people to care for others. And, although it may be odd to modern audiences, it also sought to separate God’s people as a kingdom of priests for the whole world (Exodus 19:6). All of it expresses the heart of God! (See also Boaz from the book of Ruth, who went above and beyond the letter of the Law to fulfill the heart of God.)

The Law, just like much of the New Testament teaching, doesn’t provide an exhaustive list of how we should act in each situation. Instead, it shows us the heart of God through many examples, that we may reflect it in our daily lives. The question becomes, however, “who is my neighbor?”

Jesus’ answer to this seemingly simple question was the story of the Good Samaritan. In answering the question, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus basically said, “Who do you hate? That’s who you should love!” That’s the heart of God.

I’m not going to retell the events of 1 Samuel 26, today is fairly straightforward. David, again, could have killed Saul, but chose to respect the Lord’s anointed and trusted the Lord’s good judgment (26:9 & 10). Instead, consider David’s actions as an expression of the heart of God.

Imagine, if you could remove your boss, who is not good, from his or her job—without any negative consequences. All you had to do was tell a little white lie, or some other thing that you knew in your heart was wrong. Would you do it? Adding to the question is the fact that, if you remove your boss, you will become the boss, CEO, President, and not to mention, a hero. Your boss was heading downhill and you’re a rising star. Just do the thing you know you shouldn’t do and the position is yours!

In addition to all that, your boss is gunning for you. Your boss wants to see you unemployed, penniless, and out on the street. He or she is ruthless and willing to do anything to accomplish your demise (even destroying others to get to you, cf. 1 Samuel 22). Again, you would face zero negative consequences—it’s all positive. Would you do it then?

That was David’s choice. But do the ends justify the means? God, through the Holy Spirit, impresses upon our hearts a moral consciousness convicting us of right and wrong. He shows us God’s heart in various situations, even calling to mind the Scripture we read (that’s one reason to read it). Ask yourself today, “Who is my neighbor?” “Who is my Saul?” “To whom can I show the heart of God?”

By: Tyler Short

November 25, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 25
On a day designated for thankfulness and gratefulness we read a story about a guy who is selfish and greedy. Nabal was described by God as a wealthy man who was harsh, crude and mean in all of his dealings. When David heard about Nabal’s wealth and sheep shearing he humbly asked for some sheep for his men in a time of celebration. Nabal did not just deny his request but refused with contempt, attacking David and his men’s character. When David heard about this, he got angry and took some men to attack Nabal. Abigail, Nabal’s wife, knowing how ill tempered and harsh her husband was, snuck from their house to meet with David and his men with gifts and provision. David was ready to kill Nabal and everyone around him but Abigail talked him out of taking vengeance into his own hands and trusting God with His just judgment. And God was just, for He killed Nabal less than 2 weeks later and Abigail was then taken in marriage for David.

Here are some applications to this story.

1. Having a Heart of Generosity over Greed.
I know everyone who is a good capitalist at heart had a hard time with this story. It’s easy to read it and say Nabal didn’t have to give David anything. He earned his wealth and he deserves to keep it. Well, I’m sorry fellow American but you can fight that fight with the government concerning your taxes but as a Christian we are called to a life of generosity over greed. In an American worldview, you may have earned it but a Biblical worldview tells you that everything is God’s and He graciously gave it to you as a steward of what is rightfully His. You can read this story over and over again. In context, he didn’t HAVE to give David anything but he was ethically wrong for not sharing out of his abundance according to God here. As Christians let’s make sure we don’t make the same mistakes with our treasures and live generous giving lives instead of greedy ones. We should also be careful in dealing with people in high positions who are known for what Nabal is known for according to this Scripture: Greed, Crude, Harsh, Ill-Tempered.

2. Having a Heart of Trust over Vengeance.
David let his anger get the best of him as he set off with his men to attack Nabal out of vengeance for crudely denying his request. God used Nabal’s wife to intercede on his behalf by not only generously providing him with these gifts but also boldly pointing David to God’s justice. She reminded him that the Lord will bless David and give David the lives of his enemies and that salvation and justice comes from the Lord’s hand, not ours. David blessed her and thanked her for those wise words. God held true to these promises as he did take matters into his own hands killing Nabal. David recognized he would’ve been in sin for doing it himself instead of trusting God to deliver the consequences. As Christians, it’s easy for us to trust God for salvation but still want to take many of these type of issues into our own hands. We’re not God and Jesus set an excellent example of trusting God in such matters with the Gospel.

By: Erik Koliser

November 24, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 24

Happy Thanksgiving! May today be blessed as you are hopefully spending it in a meaningful way with family and/or friends. Here are some verses to meditate on:

Psalm 95:2 — Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!Psalm 50:23 — The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God!

Ephesians 5:4 — Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Psalm 50:23 — The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God!

2 Corinthians 4:15 — For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Psalm 69:30 — I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Today’s passage highlights a moment of high tension between David and Saul. Saul was hunting him down, and decided to send a small army after him. David knew the cliffs of Engedi well, an area that was filled with caverns and a flowing stream in the desert. He had Saul in a very vulnerable position… and showed him mercy.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM 1 SAMUEL 24?

  1. How far sin can take you. Saul’s pride was now causing him to pursue his own son’s best friend’s death. And David wasn’t an outsider; he was a hero and a warrior who wanted to serve Saul.
  2. What bad company can do to you if you make them your primary influencers. Saul believed the lies that people were telling him about David instead of seeking out the truth. Be careful whom you surround yourself with.
  3. The heart and character of David (in his early days). David knew God’s mercy, so he showed God’s mercy. He would not do this kind of wrong to the king of Israel. He was willing to forgive and continue serving the very one who was trying to kill him!
  4. A glimpse of Jesus. The way David responded here to an enemy is how our Savior responds to us when we turn in faith to Him.

What did God teach you today? And what are you thankful for? Please comment and share your thoughts. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

By: Todd Thomas