Bible Devotions

Who Me?

Read 1 Samuel 9
We open this chapter with a description of Saul. He was a man of Benjamin, coming from the smallest tribe of Israel. He was a mighty man of power, choice and handsome, with good posture, standing taller than any other man. As a result,he was pleasing to man outwardly.

 
Next we see Saul is sent on a mission to find his father’s lost donkeys.  Saul is obedient to his earthly father and goes to look for the lost donkeys. He and his servant went every where looking for them. When they couldn’t find the donkeys, the servant says, “in this city is a man of God.” This speaks of godly influence. The servant knew to consult the Lord, ask for help from above.  The servant brings Saul before the man of God.

 
But wait, we have nothing to offer the man of God says Saul. Again, the servant speaks up, “I have 1/4 shekel of silver.” Servants were not wealthy. Saul had nothing with him, yet his servant had some money! Poor as the servant was, he gave his 1/4 shekel as an offering to the man of God.

 
When Saul and his servant got to the city, they asked a woman, who was drawing water, is the seer here? The woman responded with more than a yes. She tells they to hurry the seer is just ahead of you. He is getting ready for the sacrifice of the people. As soon as you go in you will find him. The people won’t eat until he comes, for he must bless the sacrifice first. The invited ones will eat.  Now, go you will find him.

 
The Lord told Samuel the day before a man of Benjamin was coming. He was to annoint him to be the commander of Israel. Samuel saw Saul coming. The Lord said, “There he is. He shall reign over My people.”

 
Saul asked Samuel where the seer’s house was. Samuel answered, I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, you shall eat with me today. Tomorrow I will let you go and tell you all that is in your heart.  Don’t worry about the donkeys, theyare found.  On whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not you and your father’s house?

 
Shocked by this Saul says “I’m a Benjaminite, from the smallest tribe. My family is the least of all families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why do speak to me like this?”

 
Samuel brought Saul and his servant to the places of honor to sit, among 30 other guests.  Samuel gave saul the portion “set apart.”  They got up early the next day, Samuel sent Saul’s servant on ahead, and announced the word of God to Saul.

 
We see Saul is pleasing to man, so God annoints him to be king. We see Saul was obedient to his father, so perhaps he will be obedient to God. We see Saul’s servant providing a good role model, bringing him to a Samuel, the man of God, and sacrificing what little he had.We see Samuel has advanced knowledge. He knew about Saul coming. He knew the donkeys were found. We see the usual response from Saul, when God calls someone, “who? me?”

 
In what ways are we pleasing men rather than pleasing God? How are we demonstrating our faith before others? Are we bringing others to God? What is your response to God’s call on you?

 
Father above, thank you for your willingness to work with us. Thank you for your plan and purpose and invitation to join you in your good work.  Thank you for equipping us to share your truth with others.  May we continue to turn and seek you in all we do, say, and think.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 


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Be Careful for What You Ask For

Read 1 Samuel 8

 
When Samuel was old he made his sons judge of Israel. Joel was first born, Abijah was second son. They did not walk in the ways of their father.  They turned to dishonest gain, took bribes and perverted justice.

 
The elders of Israel came to Samuel saying “Make us a king to judge us like all the other nations.” Samuel was displeased but prayed to the Lord.  God said, “Heed their voice, for they have not rejected you, but have rejected Me that I should not reign over them.”  God told Samuel to give them a solemnly warning.

 
Samuel explained what it would be like with a king:

  • He will take your sons.
  • He will appoint captains, some to plow & reap, some to make weapons.
  • He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
  • He will take the best of your fields.
  • He will take 1/10 of your grain and vintage.
  • He will take your male & female servants, your donkeys.
  • He will take 1/10 of your sheep.
  • You will be his servants.
  • You will cry out in that day.
  • The Lord will not hear you in that day.

 

Nevertheless, the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. They said, “No, but we will have a king over us, like all nations who will judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”  Samuel repeated their words and the Lord said, “Heed their voice and make them a king.”

 
In verses 1 through 3, we see some parenting advice.  Parents can not make a child do what they want their child to do. It usually has a negative effect, like rebellion.  The child must desire to do a thing on their own, for them to want to comply. Samuel “made” he sons judges over Israel. It doesn’t say whether he prayed about it or prepared his sons for the task or even gave them a choice.

 
In verses 4 through 9, we see how the rejection of God leads to comparison and envy.  The people had rejected God, served false gods ever since God rescued them from Egypt. Now, they compared them self to other nations and wanted a king.  Even though God was reigning over them.  They wanted a physical king they could see and touch.  God reassured Samuel the people were not rejecting him, but God.

 
In verses 10 through 18, we see Samuel giving a warning to the people to ensure they would understand the consequencesof their decision.  He tells them in great detail what it will be like to have a king rule them. He lists all the king with “take” from them.

 

In verses 19 through 22, we see the people made their decision.  The people still wanted a king so they would like other nations.  God told Samuel to make it so.

 

Notice how an earthly king would take, take, take? Look back at all that God had given the people.  Yet, the people wanted a king who took, rather than a king who gives.

 
We can learn much from this passage of scripture.  Let’s look at a few things we learn.

  • We can’t force someone to do something.
  • To make better decisions, we need to consult God in prayer.
  • We should not expect someone to fill a role they were not gifted to do.
  • Comparison leads to poor decisions.
  • Envying what others have closes our minds to all that God has for us.
  • Not turning to God, not following His will, results in poor decisions.
  • When others do not want to hear God’s message, they are not rejecting us, but God.

 

Things we learn about God from this passage are:

  • He is patient.
  • He allows people to choose.
  • He honors our choices.
  • He will not force His way on us.
  • He gives us plenty of warning, opportunities to turn to Him.

 

 

One key truth to remember, is it still the individual person’s choice. No matter how grand God is or how bad the other choice is, the person must choose.  We each are responsible for our own decision.

 
What did you gleen from this chapter of God’s Word?

 

Share it with us.

 
Lord, thank you for your mercy, kindness, and forgiveness whenwe go astray. Thank you for leading back to the path of righteousness by trusting in Jesus Christ to save us.  In His precious name we pray. Amen.

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A Call to Repentance

Read 1 Samuel 7

 
Eleazar consecrated to keep the ark of the Lord and it stayed there 20 years. Israel lamented after the Lord.   Samuel spoke repentance: Return to the Lord with all your heart. Put away foreign gods.  Prepare your hearts for the Lord. Serve Him only.  He will deliver you from the Philistines.

 
Samuel prayed for the people.  The people came together with an offering to the Lord.  They fasted and lamented we have sinned against the Lord.   Samuel judged Israel at Mizpah.  The Philistines went up against Israel.  The people were afraid.  They asked Samuel to keep praying for them. Samuel made offering, cried out to the Lord.  God heard and answered him.

 
God confused the Philistines so they were overcome. The men of Israel pursued them.  The Lord’s hand was against the Philistines.  God restored the cities taken by the Philistines. There was peace between Israel and Amorites.

 
Samuel judged Israel all his life. Year after year he made a circuit from Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah to judge in all places. He always returned to Ramah to his home.  He judged Israel and built an alter to the Lord.

 
There seems to be a pattern here.  A call for repentance, followed by recognition of sin and turning to God. Dependence on the Lord seems followed by God’s deliverance and restoration.

 
God wants us to depend on Him.  He wants us to turn from sin. He wants us to recognize only He can make us right and whole. When we do not judge ourself, God does. Giving God our whole heart results in deliverance, restoration, and peace.

 
What are you holding on to today? What do you need to turn from? Are you ready to turn to God? He is willing to accept you? He loves you and is able to forgive and purify you of all unrighteous.

 
Lord, thank you for your loving kindness. Thank you for not leaving to ourself but coming after us.  Chasing us with your love and forgiveness. Help us recognize what needs to change in our lives. Thank you for the strength, courage to trust You to save us. In Jesus’ name amen.

 
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Why Harden Your Hearts Like the Egyptians Did?

Read 1 Samuel 6
The Philistines had the ark of the Lord for seven months. They asked their priests and diviners what to do with it. The diviners told them not to send the ark away empty. But to offer a treaspass offering so you will be healed and to know why His hand is not removed from you.

 
The Philistines askes what a treaspass offering was. The priests answered, “Five golden tumors, five golden rats and give glory to God of Israel and perhaps He will lighten His hand from you.  Why harden your hearts like the Egyptians did?” The priests told them to make a new cart for the ark and offer with the two milk cows that never were yoked.  Let it go.  If it heads to Beth Shemesh you know it was God who did this to you.

 
The Philistines did all the priests said.  The people of Beth Shemesh saw the ark coming and rejoiced.  Right where the cart stopped, they split wood, offered the cows to the Lord.  The Philistines saw and went home.  But God struck the men of Beth Shemesh because they looked into the ark of the Lord.  He struck 50,075 of them.  The people lamented.  They asked, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” They sent messengers to Kirjath Jearim that the ark of the Lord was back.

 
Did you notice how the priests and diviners of the Philistines knew about the ark, God, and the story of the Israelites?  They even suggested the Philistines not harden their hearts like the Egyptians did.  This suggests that even those who choose not to follow God, know God exists. Jeremiah 31:33 says “says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

 
We learn that the holy things of God are to be handled appropriately.  We can not let excitement cause us to do what is not right in God’s sight.  The men of Beth Shemesh let theircuriosity get the best of them and they suffered dearly for it.They did not care for the ark of the covenant as they should have.

 
We also learn that no one is able to stand before our Holy God on their own.  No one is worthy.  But we can rejoice because God has made a way through Jesus Christ.  He stands in our place making it possible for us to stand before God.

 
What about you? Are there areas in your life you have chosen to harden your heart against the Lord?  Are you choosing to follow His ways or your own?

 

Dear God, you are holy. You are almighty.  You alone deserve all praise.  No one is able to stand before you on their own.You loved us enough to send Jesus to make a way.  Thank you for your sacrifice for us. In Jesus’ name amen.

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False God Will Not Stand

Read 1 Samuel 5

The ark of the God of Israel was causing much grief in whatever city they sent it to. The first place they took it was Ashdod.  They put it inthe house of Dagon, their false god. The next morning, they found their god, Dagon, face down before the ark of the God of Israel.  They set it back up but the same thing happened the following day.  Dagon was face down again, but this time its head and hands were broken off and left on the threshold of the house.  This kept anyone from entering Dagon’s house.

 
The Lord came against the people of Ashdod. They developed tumors. The men of the city said let’s get this ark of the God of Israel out of here, so they sent it to Gath. When Gath received the ark of the God of Israel the men of the city, great and small all got tumors too! So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.  In Ekron, destruction came on them too! They made hast to send the ark of God back to its own place.

 
We can clearly see that God has a sense of humor by how He made the false god bow down before the ark.  God is a jealous God who will not allow a false god to stand before Him.  We also see God uses strange ways to communicate to us at times.The Philistines didn’t recognize their evil ways, so God uses the ark of the covenent to teach them who the Real, One,True God is.

 
What false gods have you erected in your life?

  • god of productivity or efficiency
  • god of workgod of toys (car, boat, house, clothes)
  • god of leisure (following pleasures)
  • god of relationship (always desiring)
  • god of sex
  • god of self righteousness

 

All these false gods will fall face down when confronted with the One True God. Call on Him and be delivered from the bondageof false gods and sin.

 
Lord, thank you for not giving up on us.  Thank you for yourhumor, patience, and your righteousness.  In Jesus’ name we ask for your help to remove any false god we may have in our life today.  Amen.

 

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In Who Do We Trust?

Read 1 Samuel 4
Israel went to battle against the Philistines but they were defeated.  The elders asked whay and decided to bring the ark of the covenant so it may save them from the enemy.

 
The Philistines were scared, but still defeated Israel, captured the ark, and Eli’s two sons die that day.  A man from the tribe of Benjamin fled from the battle and shared all that happened with Eli.  When he mentioned theark being captured Eli fell over backwards, broke his neckand died.  Eli had judged Israel 40 years.  Eli’s daughter-in-law beared a son, called him “Ichabod” saying the glory has departed Israel.

 
We see Israel went to battle without praying first. Theyactually depended on the ark – itself – to save them, rather than turning to God. As a result, the ark was captured. Eli’s sons died just as God said they would. The message came fromthe smallest tribe of Israel.

 
What is going on here?  Israel is being judged to expose their heart.  They had drifted from God into idolizing things and tradition over God.  They are shown God’s Word is true by the things speaking before coming to pass before their eyes.

 
We can learn from Israel’s mistakes.  We can choose not to seek victory on our own by first talking to God about the battles we face.  God is to remain first in our life.  If anything else takes first place, it’s an idol.  God hates idols. He told us we are to have no other god before Him.

 
In this account we see how God uses conflict to reveal the very state of our heart. We also see God’s Word is true and accomplishes what it is sent to do.
A truth to live by depending on our own understanding results in poor decisions. Seeking the Lord’s counsel and acknowledging Him in all our ways, allows Him to direct our path.

 
Are we looking to things or God to solve our problems?

 

Are we relying on self to win the battle?

 

In what ways do we take God for granted?

 

Lord, lead us back to you. Deliverance is found only in you.Wisdom comes from you alone.  Thank you for your forgivenessand grace. In Jesus’ name amen.

 

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The boy ministered

Read 1 Samuel 3
Samuel was a boy, who ministered to the Lord, but he did not yet know the Lord.  He went to ben and heard someone call his name.  He thought it was Eli, who he lived with.  But it was God.  On the third time, Eli figured out God was speaking to Samuel so he instructed what to do.

 
The Lord spoke to Samuel all He promised to do to Eli’shouse because of the wickedness of Eli’s sons and how Eli had not restained them.

 
The next morning Eli wanted to know everything the Lordtold Samuel.  He even threatened Samuel!  So Samuel toldEli everything.  Eli replies, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”

 
Samuel grew, the Lord was with him and he let none of hiswords fall to the ground.  All Israel knew Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord.

 
We Samuel is young but faithful share the message God gavehim, even when it was necessarily good news for those whohad to hear it.  Samuel was open to hearing from God. He was obedient to God’s Word, for it said he didn’t let anyof God’s words fall to the ground.  As a result, Samuel was established by God as a prophet of the Lord.
This section of scripture remind us to stay open to recognizing the Lord’s call.  Those innocent and humble as a child will hear Him.  We also need to deal with problems head on and not look the other way or deny the problem exists.If God tells us something, we need to share it without fearof how another may respond.  Our part is to share what Godsaid.  We also need to restain our self and those in our care.God has not left us alone to handle this in our own power.  He gave His Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth, to give usthe power and strength to do what is pleasing to Him.

 
We learn God speaks to the pure hearted.  Samuel as just a boy.  Young, innocent, uncorrupted by the world. God dealswith sin.  He deals with problem and doesn’t let it linger.It is the Lord who establishes us, reveals Himself by His word and who calls us.

 
It really is all about God.  He is Ruler over all.  Let Himdo what seems best to Him. After all He can see the beginningand the end.  He knows what is best for us.  All He does is good. In His timing, He reveals Himself and His word.  He islooking for faithful servants to proclaim His message.

 
Are you ready? Open your heart. Hear His call. Speak His message.

 
Lord, thank you for your righteousness.  You are Lord and King and Ruler of all. Come into our lives and reign.  In Jesus’ name we pray these things. Amen.

 

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A Message for You

Read 1 Samuel 2:27-36

 
A man of God came to Eli with a message from God.

 
In this portion of scripture we see how God used othersto speak to Eli.  Although Eli, was a man of God, he had become complacent in his faith.
The message brought to Eli contained the following: a reminder of who’s really in charge, there are thingsthat offend God, sin has its consequences, punishmentis required for wrong done, there is a sign of these things and God has a plan.  Let’s look at each.

 
Remember who’s in chargeGod revealed Himself when they were in Egypt.  God choosethe priest.  God provided for the priest and his family.
Offense of GodYou kick at my sacrifice and my offerings. You honor yourown sons more than Me. You make yourself fat with the bestofferings from my people.

 
Sin has consequences

I said your house will walk before Me forever, but now, Iwill honor who honors Me.  Those who despises Me shall be lightly esteemed.

 

Punishment required

I will will cut off your arm of your father’s house. There will not be an old man in your house. You will see an enemy in My dwelling place – despite all the good God does for Israel.  Any men I don’t cut off will consume your eyes and grieve your heart. All your descendents will die in their youth.

 

The Sign

Both your sons will die on the same day.

 

God’s Plan

I will raise up a faithful priest who does what is in My heart and My mind.  I will build him a sure house. He willwalk before My annointed forever.  All left in your house will come bow down and ask for silver and bread and priestlyposition.

 
Eli’s sons had despised God and His ways.  God sent a messengerto Eli to inform him God would now deal with the problem.

 
When we look at the repeated words and phrases in this sectionwe see God speaking “did I not reveal”, “did I not choose”, “did I not choose”, “I will honor”, “I will cut off”, “I willraise up”, “I will build”.  This points to the fact, God is the One in control and we best not forget it.

 
Sadly, Eli honored his sons more than God. As a result, he allowed his sons behavior to continue without dealing with it.God had to step in to take care of it.  It’s the same with us.We don’t dealing with our sin, but God so loved the world He sent is His Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins. God deals with our sin, so we wouldn’t have to.

 
We learn God uses people to share his message with others. He reminds us who He is, what we did, what will happen nextif we listen.  God will guide His people.

 
We need to remember will are held accountable for our decisions.We can choose to look the other way, not deal with the issue,but in the end consequences still play out.  God is faithful.He will be with us enabling us to get through it, if we arewilling.

 
Lord, thank you for not turning away from us.  Thank you forhandling the sin issue for us.  Thank you for drawing us nearyou by your loving kindness.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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Minister Before the Lord

Read 1 Samuel 2:12-26
Eli’s sons were corrupt and did not know the Lord. Theytook more than their appointed portions of the sacrificed meat.  They even threatened those who brought offerings tothe Lord.  They trampled on God’s ways.  Their sin was greatbefore the Lord.
But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child. Hismother made him a robe and brought it each year when theycame to sacrifice.  Eli would bless Elkanah and Hannah, Samuel’sparents.
The Lord visited Hannah and she had three more sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew before the Lord.   Eli was growing old.  He heard all his sons did to the Israelites.He knew about how they lay with women assembled at the door of the tabernacle.  Eli asked his sons why they made the Lord’s people transgress.  If one man sins against another, God will judge. If a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him? But his sons did not heed their father, because the desired to kill them.

And Samuel grew in stature and favor both with the Lord and men.
There are many things in this section of scripture that remindus to avoid.  For example, treating God’s way as unimportantor non-existant will lead to ungodly behavior.  Not listening to your father’s warnings will lead to unruly behavior as well.Seeking what’s best for yourself, without regard to others isjust plain wrong.  Taking advantage of others who are seekingthe Lord is evil.  Lastly, not dealing the problem early on, isalso something we should avoid.
We also learn how God bless obedience through the lives ofElkanah, Hannah, and Samuel.  Hannah was faithful to keep herpromise to God.  God gave her Samuel, she gave him back to God.God blesses Hannah abundantly with five more children.  Elkanahis blessed seeing his wife happy with finally having childrenof her own.  Samuel is blessed by his mother’s care for him. He is also blessed by God through his own obedience. Notice howit said Samuel grew in stature and favor both with the Lord andmen?  Samuel’s life was pleasing to God and thus favor followed.
By watching Samuel’s example we learn it is possible to live agodly life, even when we live with ungodly people.  God willguide and bless our obedience.
What truths stand out to you?  How does Samuel’s example providea godly role model for you?
Lord, thank you for your gracious care and guidance.  Thank youfor your word so full of truth to teach us what is pleasing to you, to show us what to avoid and teach us about righteousness. In Jesus’name we ask you to lead us on the path of right living.Amen.
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It’s Not What You Think

Read 1 Samuel 1
There is this man who had two wives.  One wife, Peninnah, gave him many children. But the other wife, Hannah, hadno children.  Peninnah was very cruel. She provoked and taunted Hannah, to the point Hannah was filled with bitterness.

 
Every year they made a journey to the temple to worshipGod.  Every year Hannah would pray for a child.  One particular year Hannah was so distraught and caught up with anguish in her prayers the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk!

 
Hannah told Eli her story and of her pleading with God to give her a child.  Eli said, “Go in peace, and the Godof Israel grant your petition which you asked of Him.” After that Hannah, went away, ate, and was no longer sad.
Have you ever noticed sometimes things are misinterpretted?Hannah was praying in the temple. Yet the priest, who should have recognized someone yearning for God, thought she was drunk.

 
Many people misunderstand what God does within a person’sheart.  People are tempted to misjudge someone based on outward appearance.  But God looks at the heart.  Eli, couldn’t tell Hannah was praying and worshipping God. To him it looks like drunken foolishness.

 
Have you ever misinterpretted an answered or unanswered prayer?  Hannah prayed year after year and nothing changed.  Yet year after year, they intentionally went to the temple. She persisted in prayer anyway.  She worshipped God regadlessof whether her prayer would be answered or not. Some peoplemight give up when their prayer is not answered the way they expect it.  Hannah didn’t. She had perseverance and faith, which ultimately lead to her heart’s desire.

 
Do you ever worry about how other people might perceive things?  Did Hannah worry about how her prayer might lookto someone else?  No. She didn’t.  She simply poured outher heart to God at all costs.  She was real with God abouther complaint.  What if Hannah, had not given her whole self in prayer that day? Would her petition have been granted?  We do know that Matthew 7:7-8 says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

 
Through this story of Hannah, we learned several thingsabout God.  First, He definitely hears our prayers, as He did Hannah’s prayer. Second, God’s work is sometimes misunderstood by others. Third, His timing is always different than our timing. Fourth, God honors perseverence, prayer and fasting.  Fifth, God wants all of us, not just what we want to give Him.  He wants our heart.  He wants us to depend on Him just like Hannah did.

 
Are you depending on God like Hannah?

 

Lord Jesus, it is you who is trustworthy and dependable. Help us Lord to depend on you like Hannah did.  In Jesus name’s name. Amen.

 

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