Saul, from champion to bad example

What do you know about Saul? Yes, Saul the king, the one before David. What do you think about him? What comes to your mind when you hear his name?

Maybe like me, you think of those following verses: “And 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 listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORDhe has also rejected you from being king.” (1Samuel 15:22-23 ESV).

We remember Saul as the king who chose to please people rather than God, who disobeyed and refused to surrender until the end. We know him as the one who pursued David, trying to kill him again and again. But that is only who he became after taking pleasure in being king, after tasting power and fame, after forgetting who chose him, blessed him and used him. Before that, he was quite amazing, even admirable. He was strong, humble, gentle, courageous and didn’t care much about what people could think and say. Just read:

1 Samuel 10: 26-27 “Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched.But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

1 Samuel 11: 5-7 “Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the LORD fell upon the people, and they came out as one man.

1 Samuel 11: 12-15 “Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.” Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

He was chosen and anointed and walked away from that. Before judging him and looking down at him, let check our hearts and see where we stand. Every time we avenge ourselves, take a decision without consulting the Lord, refuse to cut the hand that makes us sin, don’t share our faith or sin to please people or not to be rejected, we are just like Saul.

In 1 Corinthians 10:12,  God tells us: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” We are all in danger of becoming like Saul, of having our heart so hardened that we don’t see God anymore. Let take heed lest from champions for Christ, we become examples not to follow.

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Glory

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42-43 ESV)

They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God because they did not want to be put out of the synagogue. Being put out of the synagogue meant rejection, shame, embarrassment, loss of social status, etc. and they were not willing to endure that. Oh, I understand how they felt.  I am tempted every day to choose  the glory that comes from man.

Will I be willing, today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, etc. to be without friends at work, to be without church or to lose the consideration of my “spiritual family”, to be despised by the non-believers around me (siblings, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) for the sake of Christ? Am I going to open my Bible on the bus, subway, train, even if it means being laughed at? Am I going to seek the glory that comes from God even if it means that I will have none on this earth?

Every day, you and I  must make a choice. Let the following words of Christ help us make the right one: Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25 ESV)

Esra’s heart

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. (Ezra 7:10 ESV)

I don’t know if there is something to add. I am speechless before Ezra’s heart.  I want to be as determined as he was to know God’s word, to understand it, and to obey and teach it. When you set your heart, there is no place for being lukewarm; there is no place for compromising a little. When you set your heart, God is first, His honor is your goal, pleasing Him your pleasure, and you will let nothing come between you and His will.

That is the kind of woman I dream and pray to be. That is the kind of person I pray you will be.

Who are you like?

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. (1 Kings 16:30 ESV)

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. (2 Chronicles 34:1-2 ESV)

Reading the books of Kings and Chronicles, we see quickly that there were bad kings and good kings. When we look deeper, we see that there were bad kings and kings worse than them as well as good kings and excellent  kings.

There were bad kings who knew that God was God, but “worshipped” Him as they wanted, making idols and altars, creating pagan places of worship. Then, there were those who worshipped Baal and other false gods. There were good kings who did not do everything God would have wanted them to and kings after God’s own heart who followed David’s example. And there were good kings who became evil and an evil king who repented.

Every human being belongs to one of those categories. If you don’t think that you are a Christian after God’s own heart, today is your opportunity to repent. There is always room for repentance in God’s kingdom, always an opportunity to become like Josiah.

Before him there was no king like him , who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. (2 Kings 23:25 ESV)

Be blessed!

Happy New Year

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:17-18)

Here is the New Year! We took decisions, we made prayers and we are full of hope. But we are uncertain. We don’t know if the year will turn out the way we want to, if God will answer us the way we would like to.  But there are two things we can be sure of.

First, God is God and will be God until the end of this year (and after, of course). He will be the same. He is going to be faithful, to care for us and to love us in a way we cannot even begin to imagine. He is going to be sovereign and all-powerful and good. And so good. His mercies will be new every morning and we could always draw near Him.

Secondly, there will be sufferings, pain. God will discipline us. If you are His child,  with love and tenderness, He will discipline you (Hebrews 12:3-10). But if you don’t forget who He is, if you run to Him when it is hard, if you keep your eyes on Jesus, if you don’t forget that He took your punishment and gave you everlasting joy, everything will be fine. Because at the end of the day, it depends on the One who died on the cross for us. It depends on the One who can do anything.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 )

6 OPTIONS FOR GODLY SINGLE WOMEN WANTING TO MARRY

“Daughters . . . Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” –Song of Songs 2:7 (NIV)

This is a post from Mark Driscoll. I have made some changes to shorten it. Enjoy.

These are tough times for godly single women who want to marry.There are some single women who remain single for no good reason. Those who are over thirty are sometimes beginning to wonder if their hopes to marry and become a mother will be fulfilled. For some, this leads to near panic. For others, a constant despair with seasons of dark depression lingers like a chronic ache. Whatever the situation there are six options.

  • SIN

You can decide that God has not come through for you, so you take matters into your own hands and do things that will really hurt the one relationship you have with a great man: Jesus Christ. If you take this path, you will eventually come to feel horrible for what you have done and miserable in the world you live.

  • SURRENDER

You can give up on ever meeting someone worth marrying. You can just stop taking any risks, meeting any people, or trying in any way. But when you shut down your heart to life in general, you are not just foregoing marriage but also hope and joy.

  •  SETTLE

You can lower your standards to the point that nearly any guy can meet them. It is possible to keep editing your list to the point where “godly man” eventually becomes “believes in a higher power of some sort,” and “I respect him” becomes “I think I can put up with him.” This may get you a man, but not a long-term, joy-filled, God-honoring marriage.

  •  SUFFER

You can allow your singleness to become the devastating, discouraging, and defining aspect of your life. You can let it make you feel unwanted, unloved, and unworthy. You can allow it to haunt you, pushing you into shame, isolation, and despair. You can let your singleness be a club for Satan to beat you with over, and over, and over, and over . . .

  •  STRIVE

You can start to obsess over doing literally everything you can to land a husband. You never leave the house without looking like you are ready for a pageant. You count every calorie and spend more time at the gym than the treadmill does. You start an account for every Christian dating site that exists. You attend every church with a decent number of single men, and never miss a singles ministry event at any megachurch within a two-hour drive of your home. The center of your life is no longer Jesus, but some guy you are determined to attract to fill his place.

  • SOLACE

You can take comfort in God’s love for you and that Jesus is the Man in your life who sympathizes with your singleness. You can allow your singleness to explain you but not identify you. You can allow your singleness to be an aspect of your life but not the essence of your life. You can remind yourself that the early church was nearly the polar opposite of today’s: singleness was considered a virtuous, preferable life by many in service to God. You can live your life without waiting for someone else to show up and make it worthwhile. You can retain your desire for marriage without drifting into desperation. You can be open to a relationship without putting your entire life on hold until one occurs. You can pour your desires for a family into your extended family and/or church family.

The truth is that it is harder to be a single woman than a single man as a Christian. Polls say that single women are generally more mature and responsible than single men. Men are waiting until around 30 years old to marry for the first time, if they ever do. And, they are going for younger women, according to the statistics. Across Christianity, there are far more single women than single men, which means that the odds are not in the favor of godly single women. In addition, for theological reasons, many Christian women do not want to be the dating initiator, asking guys out and taking the lead in the relationship.

All of this together means that godly single women live in a complex world that is increasingly more difficult for those who want to marry and have children with a godly man. Love, prayer, friendship, support, counsel, and community are needed more than ever. Being single is not easy. But neither is being married. They are just difficult in different ways as God uses everything in our life to make us more like Jesus, who happened to live a perfect life while single.

A Life Worthy of the Gospel

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. Philippians 1:27-28

What does it take to live in a way worthy of the gospel? It takes faith of course, but faith in the reality of the gospel. It is easy to preach the gospel, to share our faith, to read the Bible without believing in the gospel, without being in awe of the gospel.
Before you think that I am crazy, think of it a bit.
If you really believed that Jesus died then raised from the death, would you not be taking risks for His sake, ready to suffer to bring Him glory?
If you really believed that God will judge you according to what you have done, would you not be doing more and better?
If you truly believed that sin separates you from God, would you not be more eager to repent quickly?
If you really believed that the way you treat the poor determines where you spend eternity, would you not be loving, serving, feeding them?
If you really believed in the holiness of God, would you not be rejoicing in your suffering, happy to be made holier?
If you really believed that Jesus came, died, and is coming back, would you still be friend of the world?
If you really believed that everyone who dies without Christ will go to hell, would you not be sharing your faith with your family, your friends…? Would you not be praying and fasting for them?
And if you truly believed that the one who created everything and is sovereign over everything loves you and is for you, would you still be afraid of being rejected? Would you still be looking for people approval? Would you still be afraid of the future?
Remember without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the key for a life worthy of our God and Savior.