1 Samuel 12:20b
"You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart."
Though guilty of sin against the Lord, Samuel counsels the people to recognize their sin, and move forward in the Lord, not turning to either side, but to continue on in Him, in love and service. As it is today, confession and repentance, then moving out in Christ, loving Him and following Him, all good words of wisdom for us to follow.
1 Samuel 11:13
But Saul said, "Not a man shall be put to death today, for the Lord has accomplished deliverance in Israel."
Anointed, touched and filled with the Spirit, Saul now a changed man.... a servant of God, raised up to shepherd the children of Israel. Wisdom and grace and compassion now filled and directed the servant leader. For the child of God, He sets our track in Him, day by day, one step at a time, hand in hand as long as we choose to hold on. Don't let go!
1 Samuel 9:20
"And as for your donkeys which were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found."
Saul, in obedience to his father, had chased around the countryside for three days, in search of their lost donkeys. All this would perfectly coincide with a meeting with God's prophet Samuel. Samuel would reassure Saul, everything is okay, your perfect heavenly Father has a plan for your life. Much as for us today, why am I here, how come this or that, nothing seems to be working. God where are you? While not being able to tell you the answer, only reiterate of God's faithful and His perfect timing and plans. Psalm 37 tells us; " Do not fret, trust in the Lord, commit your way to Him....." In all things, remember He is able....
1 Samuel 7:6
And they gathered to Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel judged the sons of Israel at Mizpah.
With the return of the Ark to the children of Israel came confession and repentance. Note that along with prayer and fasting came an offering of water that was poured out before the Lord. Not gold or silver or the animal sacrifices, but the precious commodity of water was freely poured out as a sacrifice of praise. In a dry and thirsty land, water truly sustains life and brings wellbeing to men. Consider what you give to God, as to your time, talent and your treasures, as worthy of praise unto Him.
"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle, and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light."
As we celebrate the holiday, we call Labor Day, we think of the American worker, who has toiled tirelessly for the betterment of family and country. Today, however, we find ourselves living in more and more precarious situations. Moms parenting children and grandkids while still out working, dads doubling down with multiple jobs, singles and elderly juggling the budget to keep a roof over their head, those pushing off retirement for fear of the unknown, the prospect of becoming a caregiver, the lists goes on. Hear the words of Jesus, calling to those who are His to come find rest in Him. Come today, take His yoke, and lay your burdens down at His feet.
"Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him."
Just being in the presence of these "sinners" immediately raised the ire of the religious leaders. Critical hearts and condemning spirits were quick to discount the good work of the Lord to these social outcasts. As we go about our business today, we must view those around us with the Lord's eyes of compassion and mercy, knowing that He loves just as we are, sinners needing the saving grace of Jesus.
1 Samuel 5:9
"And it came about after they had brought it around, the hand of the Lord was against the city with very great confusion; and He smote the men of the city with very great confusion; young and old, so that tumors broke out on them."
The ark of God, captured by the Philistines as a trophy or souvenir of victory, was placed by their god Dagon in its house. They quickly discovered Dagon could not stand alongside the ark of God as it was toppled over, its head and hands dismembered from the torso. Confusion, as well as a physical malady called tumors ravaged the men. The Philistines would discover that the ark, was truly much more than an emblem of God, but where God's presence resided in the midst of His people. Hordes of mice would soon ravage the crops as they realized the power of God. It was quickly sent back, with a new respect for the God of Israel. How the world needs a new found respect for the true and living God.
"And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there."
A great reminder for us is that Jesus sets the importance of prayer for us. Amidist all the business of His ministry, the throngs all seeking for Him, the questions of His disciples, He seeks quiet solitude, rest, and communion with the Father. How much more should we take to heart His example for us, sweet fellowship with our Lord.
and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel."
Since the fall in the garden, God had prepared and put plans into motion for the redemption of all mankind. Fellowship broken, and restoration would come in the form of our Lord Jesus, who would be born and walk in this world, to die on the cross for our sins. Turning from our way and seeking Him, as we receive the good news would accomplish a healing from the brokenness that sin had once brought. Now free from sin, alive in Christ.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you standing the presence of His glory blameless with great joy. To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen"
Through the difficulty of addressing rogue teachers and false purveyors that had crept into the church, along with their coming judgement, Jude now again turns back to the faithfulness of the Lord. Pronouncing a blessing, a to the point praise of what He can and has accomplished on our behalf. All glory and majesty and power and honor are His, to the praise of His glory. Amen
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Your response to this verse at times may be Pastor, what about this or that? How come the difficulty or the hardship we encounter? Questions may plague us about God's goodness, His faithfulness and love for us. Not having a crystal ball or all of His plans in stone, leaves us to the sticky thought of faith, hope and love, our lack thereof, or our engaging with Him. God's faithfulness towards His people have been evident from the beginning of time, even in our waywardness and disbelief. How He makes all things work together for good is really up to Him. Our part is to love Him and stay the course in Him, trusting that as we do our best He will do the rest.
"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
Jude, writing not to unbelievers, but to members of the body of Christ. His great fear was that many would be lulled into a false state of calm and rest, discounting the hazards and pitfalls of the world. This is the reason for the sudden shift in the priority of the letter. Jude would go on to list many who had proved to be contrary to God's best for His people. We all would be wise to heed the admonition found in this little letter.
1 Samuel 3:19
"Thus Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let known of his words fail."
Young Samuel grew in physical stature, but much more apparent to those around him was his maturing spiritually. While sequestered away from many normal outside distractions, still other things sought out his attention. For most of us, we are bombarded in today's world with many things other than the Lord. Any number of the cares of the world seek to tear us away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to the Lord. While we are reminded by Peter: "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 1 Peter 3:18