"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
1 Samuel 2:35
"But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in my heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before my anointed always."
While Eli and his sons dealt treacherously with the things of God's ministry, the Lord already had in motion a fix. Young Samuel stood by in the wings, his focused unfettered by the goings on around him, yet God looked towards future events, as with the coming of our great high priest. We're told in Hebrews 7:25, "Hence also He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He lives to make intercession for them." God's plan and timing, always perfect.
1 Samuel 2:17 NKJV
"Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men despised the offering of the Lord."
"But Samuel....." Here, the very next verse in the passage interjects, but Samuel ministered..... But in spite of all the distractions, the worldly pursuits around him, Samuel ministered. For us, he becomes an example of one with unfettered interest, singleness of heart and mind, and firm devotion. You may ask, what seeks to take my focus? My passion to move forward? My desire to minister as unto the Lord? What consumes our time and energy? While we may not like all the answers, it becomes a starting off point for an honest appraisal of where we are at.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him."
The story of the prodigal son strikes a resounding note in our hearts and minds. Though the prodigal, wayward and once filled with thoughts and plans of grandeur outside of the father's watchful eyes and guidance. only to find no fulfillment in the world. All the while, like our heavenly Father, he waited and watched, hoping and believing the best, praying for his child. His son's return was not filled with chiding or scolding, but with great joy and celebration. And so it is, as many of us who have strayed, heaven is filled with a celebration beyond our belief, as one comes home to be with the Father.
1 Samuel 2:18
"Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord before the Lord as a boy wearing a linen ephod."
Amidst all the distractions and improprieties in and around the tent of meeting caused by Eli and his sons, we find young Samuel, seemingly undeterred by the goings on. The young lad had not lost focus on his worship of the Lord. For the child of God today, Samuel becomes a model of one adorned with a robe of righteousness, whose devotion is not hindered by all the goings on of the world, but continues on with eyes fixed on the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:10
"And she was greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly."
The stigma and disappointment of a childless woman in the day of Samuel brought not only heartache, but was tempered by the constant taunting of her close rival. Distress at the situation would not move her to inaction, and bitterness would not drive her away and into the arms of more fleshly pursuits. Much to her credit we find her in prayer. A great example we find for all of us, not wrapped up in a place of woe, or paralyzed by the situation, but with hopeful confidence, trusting in God's outcome. We may, at one time or another face differing circumstances, but how we face them is the question.