Insecurity (1 Samuel 18:7-13)

Because of disobedience, the prophet Samuel informed Saul that The Lord had rejected him as King and was appointing another to replace him. In addition, Saul experienced trouble from an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14). During this struggle, Saul encountered the battle with the Philistines, Goliath and David’s victory. These events brought insecurity into the heart of Saul, which resulted in destructive behaviors.

When David was lauded for his victory, the announcement caused Saul’s heart to be filled with anger and grief. Samuel informed Saul that the kingdom would be torn from his hand and because it appeared that David may be the man, Saul became fearful and jealous. Instead of Saul managing the event, the event instead began to manage or control him. From that moment forward, Saul eyed or suspected David of evil and as Saul continued to crumble, his emotions became actions. He began to attack what he believed to be the source of his trouble and eventually out of fear rejected or removed David from his life.

These attitudes and actions of Saul are some of the very things we do when we are insecure. Because of insecurity, we experience anger, fear, and jealousy. We then become suspicious and attacking towards those around us. In the end, we attempt to push away from us those that are causing us to experience insecurity.

People are not the source of our insecurity, we are. We become insecure when we think that success is our responsibility. Remember, we are never commanded to be successful, but we are commanded to be faithful.

Grace For A Purpose (Ephesians 3:8)

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (Ephesians 3:8)

Grace is an amazing part of God’s plan and mighty work. Many people have written about it and even more have sung about its wonder and goodness. As we enter trial phases of our lives, we pray and ask God for his grace. Sometimes we see others experience the greatest of difficulties yet abound by this grace. By it we are saved and for daily living Paul says that it is sufficient. But what is it and why does God give it?

Grace is more than just unmerited favor as it has been demonstrated in the Old Testament. After the atoning work of Christ was completed, God was enable to work the fullness of his grace which is his divine influence upon our hearts which is reflected in the actions of our lives. In other words, grace occurs when God does a work in us that we cannot do. Many sick and dying have experienced this grace. Those who have buried loved ones have experience this wonder working in their hearts as well as those suffering trials and persecution. God offers this grace and wants to supply it to all believers. His purpose for giving us grace goes beyond just the believers’ needs and has an even broader and greater purpose.

God’s grace working in our lives serves two purposes: to provide for us the strength and victory and also to provide a means of meeting the needs of others. For Paul, God’s grace was given to him personally for his trials and also to empower him to preach the gospel to others. Dying grace provides strength to those dying, but also accomplishes a work in those witnessing God’s grace. During the greatest of trials that you have faced, God’s grace was present for you and testified to others. Your grace testimony has influenced others beyond what you can imagine. So as you face your current trouble, remember that the strength you need is available to you in God’s grace and that God wants to use you and your grace testimony in a work to help others.

Follow The Lord (1 Samuel 12:20-21)

And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. (1 Samuel 12:20-21)

This admonition came from Samuel to God’s people after they rejected God from ruling over them and instead desired a king. As Israel did before them, they ran from God and sought refuge in idols. It was a battle that Israel fought during their entire history and one that we also face daily in our lives.

We face this battle daily as our hearts search for security and happiness. We are tempted to seek for these through experiences or in a deliver. However, regardless of where we turn, it will always result in a greater emptiness than before because anything other than The Lord is empty and worthless. We may fall to the allusive promise than sin offers and end up feeling more empty than before or we may seek deliverance from another only to become more captive. Many fall into this trap and become castaways.

The solution for whatever you need is always the same: serve The Lord God with all your heart. This service is a heart condition and not to be confused with dutiful activity. As you serve The Lord, you can experience his blessings, presence and strength. These blessings may not come to you as down pouring storm, but as a drizzling rain slowly supplies water to the earth, you will slowly be supplied with what you need as you need it.

Wandering Saul (1 Samuel 9:15-16)

Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines:for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. (1 Samuel 9:15-16)

This familiar passage of Scripture records the early days of Saul and in particular the time that Samuel recognizes and anoints him as King of Israel. At first glance, it appears that Kish’s sheep were lost and Saul in his attempt to find them was unsuccessful. However, that is not the cause. Through these events, God was bringing Saul to meet with Samuel for the purpose of anointing him to be king. It was no chance accident that they met for The Lord declared on the previous day that he would bring the future King of Israel to Samuel.

As we struggle through our trials of life, remember that The Lord is performing a work in you and for you. It may appear that events are out of control and working against you, but as God knew about Saul, he knows about you. In his sovereignty, God will continue to work his divine plan. Until that plan is accomplished or at best understood, we, by faith, need to be obedient to his will and submit ourselves to his care. Remember, you may not be a king, but you are a child of the King and he will care for you as a loving father.

Like A One Way Street (Proverbs 11:2)

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

I remember one time driving around a town and trying to get to a particular destination. Along the way, I made a wrong turn and was trying to get myself turned around and back onto the right track. Since this was before GPS devices, I needed to figure out my route on my own. It seemed that each time I was close enough to get back to where I made my error, I would run into a one way street. I didn’t want the street to go in the one way direction, I wanted it to go my direction. Facing life’s problems can much the same way.

When a person’s heart is filled with pride, it is like a one way street. The solution for everything comes from within them. They never allow advice to come in and influence their hearts and mind because of the pride that resides there. The Lord warns us that when prides comes into our hearts, the end result will be shame or disgrace. However for the humble it is different. They don’t see themselves as self sufficient, but instead look outside of themselves for strength and help and desire that it would come into them. Their end result is wisdom.

This passage warns us to guard our hearts: not only from outside influences that can corrupt our hearts, but from the corruption that has dwelled within man since the fall. God’s word is sufficient to produce all the wisdom necessary for us to be successful, but we must seek it and yield to its teaching.

Your Today Affects Your Tomorrow (1 Samuel 2:2)

There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

Hannah, who had been barren of children, went to Shiloh and sought The Lord. Shortly afterwards, The Lord honored her request and she conceived a son. After Samuel had been weaned, she again made the trip and presented Samuel to The Lord for his lifetime of service. Hannah’s heart rejoiced in The Lord and praised him with these words.

Many would state their desire to see The Lord do a great work in their lives so that they could see him in his magnificent splendor and praise him this same way. However, in order to see God as Hannah did, we would need to act as Hannah. Hannah declared after bearing Samuel the same that she did before even conceiving him. When she prayed at the tabernacle, she already believed that there was none holy as The Lord because there was none besides him. She also believed that there was no rock other than The Lord upon whom she could cast her burden and rest upon for strength and stability. Experiencing success through trials and recognizing the greatness of God resulted from recognizing his greatness before the trial. Our walk with The Lord and our vision of faith is like the water that primes the pump. A pump that needs priming is similar to a fuel pump on an oil furnace. If you have ever run out of fuel and then filled the tank, you found that the furnace’s pump was unable to pump fuel from the tank until oil flowed directly into it. Once you bled the fuel line, the pump was able to pump all the fuel needed. In like manner, our present perspective of God by faith will affect how we endure through a trial and see him afterwards.

For Hannah, her heart possessed all the faith and understanding of The Lord necessary for her to make it through her trial. When the trial ended, her knowledge expanded from what she already knew. In order for us to endure trials and then exalt The Lord in this same manner, we must first experience him and his greatness. Trials to do not usher us into an understanding of God and his greatness, but instead will develop our present relationship and understanding of him.

Your Heart Determines Your Path (Proverbs 10:17)

He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. (Proverbs 10:17)

Our successes and failures are the results of the condition of the heart. Faith and doubt occur in the same manner. Many focus on actions, but actions can be deceiving. Jesus pointed out that even though the Pharisees diligently kept the law, they were missing the greatest part (Matthew 23:23). Their problem was not their actions so much as it was there heart. We can fall into this same trap and if true change is going to place in our lives, there must first be a change in the heart.

This passage declares the destination of two groups of people: those experiencing life as intended by The Lord and those in error. Both can be saved people as well as kind, likable, helping, caring and lovable. Their disposition will not determine what they experience in life, but instead their heart’s attitude towards correction.

The secret to experiencing the best that God has to offer you is to respond positively to his correction. The term instruction in this passage also means chastisement and is reflected again in the latter portion of the verse as reproof. The way to life is gained by guarding closely what God says to you as he provides corrective instruction. This instruction may come through preaching, personal bible study or an admonition from a peer. Subsequently the direct way to a life of error is to refuse reproof. Each of these responses take place in the heart of the believer. The former reflects a “fear The Lord” attitude while the other has an attitude of pride.

Your path of life may be set by The Lord, but it will be gained or determined by your heart and in particular how you respond to correction.

Love: The Missing Ingredient (Proverbs 10:12)

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Proverbs 10:12)

Why does love cover sin? Is there not a responsibility for the believer to point out the error of another? Did not Paul tell us to mark the man that causes division (Romans 16:17)? If so, then is it not contradictory to admonish us to cover sin?

As believers, there are two relationships that we must consider: our relationship with others and their relationship with God. Regardless of what we do for either relationship, it should always be motivated by love. When a believer falls into sin, our actions towards them should reflect God’s love in us. If The Lord leads us to provide admonishment, then we are instructed to do it in love (2 Thessalonians 3:15). However this aspect of love goes beyond the scope of the proverb in question.

Proverbs 10:12 admonishes us to cover the sins of another with love. It is the latter part of the verse referring to hatred and strife. Just as hatred in the heart of a person focuses on issues and stirs up trouble with those around them, love does its perfect work. It contrasts hate in that instead of focusing on self and the hurts that have caused hatred, love focuses on others and the needs that they have in order to live successfully. This act of love should not be confused with the putting on of a loving face and acting in a loving manner, but all the while experiencing other emotions in the heart. There is too much of this in Christianity today. It is nothing more than hypocrisy or the playing of a part as one on a stage. The spiritual person will abide in love (John 15:9-12) and this love will be manifested in how he treats others and in particular, those who have sinned against him.

Parents should not allow the sin of their children to affect their relationship with them as well as brothers and sisters, husband and wife and fellow believers. There is a difference between condoning sin and covering it. When sin is covered, it cannot be recognized. Does your relationship with others reflect that their sin is covered or are there actions and attitudes that indicate there is trouble between you and another? If so, then love is absent. You can get it by dwelling in God. There are not three quick steps to complete, but instead a heart condition that needs to occur. By sitting at the feet of he who is love personified, you will gain this much needed virtue for your life.

Hatred Stirs Up Strife (Proverbs 10:12)

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (Proverbs 10:12)

I walked out on my back porch one day and noticed that all of the little birds were congregating in a small bush like tree. Their chirping was distinctly different than at other times and the branches of the plant seemed to tremble. I was wondering what could be causing these birds to behave in this manner when suddenly a hawk swooped down into the yard and landed on the rail of the neighbor’s fence. Just the overall presence of this hawk in the area caused the birds to behave as they did.

In a similar fashion, hatred does the same thing. When hatred rests in the heart of a person, a stirring occurs with the people with whom they interact. It is not difficult to recognize that if a person hates another, there will be strife between the two, but it goes beyond that. Hatred in the heart of a person controls that person and will affect their entire demeanor. It will affect their actions towards those that they hate as well as those that they love and because of this hatred, their relationship and interactions with others will be grating. Just as food items can be grated or abrasively torn, people with hatred will act abrasively towards others. When this occurs, strife is experienced by all.

Granted, these people may have hatred in their hearts because of abusive relationships, domestic troubles, financial ruin, health struggles and the list can go on, but their actions are still unwarrented. Christ, our sufficiency, should enable us to deal with all of life’s struggles and enable us to deal properly with others in the midst of the greatest of hurts.

The answer for those who stir up strife in relationships with others is not necessarily to give them a rebuke–although their sin does require it–but to recognize what may be the cause of their hurt, which has led to hatred, and then lead them to experience victory over it. Until this occurs, strife will continue to be present, others will be hurt, sin will continue to occur and God will be robbed of the glory that he deserves.

Do you continually have strife with many people? If so, you may be the cause of this strife? Instead of defending yourself, stop and ask The Lord to put his finger upon the root problems in your life that are moving you to such strife. If you seek, you will find and when you find, you must begin to deal with those issues. As you gain victory over these hurts, your experiences with others will become more pleasant and life will become enjoyable.