Devotions

Samuel

 

Lesson Seven • Devotion #2: Samuel
Bryan Fox

Samuel was a man born to Hannah, a woman unable to conceive a child as 1 Samuel 1:5 says, The Lord had closed her womb.  Hannah petitioned to the Lord for a child who she would then give to the Lord all the days of his life.

As she promised her husband Elkanah, after Samuel was weaned, she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, gave her sacrifice to the Lord, brought her son to the chief priest Eli, and lent him to the Lord for as long as he would live.

1 Samuel

The Lord told Samuel what He was going to do to Israel and punish the house of Eli forever because his sons were blaspheming the Lord and Eli did not restrain them. In the morning Eli asked Samuel what the Lord had said, and even though he was afraid to tell Eli, he hid nothing.

1 Samuel 3:19-20 adds, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.”

Samuel showed his strong character and faith in the Lord by listening and then obeying what he was told. He told Israel (1 Samuel chapter 7) that if they would return to the Lord with all their hearts and get rid of the idols, the Lord would deliver them from the Philistines. They listened and obeyed, and the Lord’s hand was against the Philistines for all the days of Samuel.

Again, in 1 Samuel chapter 8, Samuel listened to the Lord when Israel wanted a king to rule over them, even though this request displeased him. He told Israel of all the things that would happen to them if they had a king. Israel refused to listen to what Samuel told them so when he told the Lord what Israel wanted; the Lord said to give them what they wanted.

Strong character is shown by listening and obeying what God says even when it is uncomfortable or goes against the majority. Samuel was true to the Lord and is a great example for us. After all, we are all His!

Eli

Lesson Seven • Devotion #1: Eli
Ken Perry

“The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

I had heard that phrase before and had a vague idea as to its meaning.  It is the same sentiment behind why the plumber’s house has water leaks or the auto mechanics personal cars are held together with Duct Tape and chicken wire. Business strategist Nicholas de Wolff captures it this way, “It has been my experience that the statement refers to the tendency to excel at providing services to the “outside world,” while neglecting to observe that their immediate intimate ecosystem (family, self, home, friends…etc.) is in need of said services.”

As we continue with the world changers, we read of a man that portrayed just that. Eli was privileged to be both the high priest of Shiloh and the second to last Israelite judge. He was a good man tasked with the responsibility as the supreme religious leader. The high priest had to be bold and unafraid to rebuke and hold the people accountable to the standards God set forth. He exercised proper authority over the people, yet sadly failed to exercise the authority needed to reign in his children. He provided his service to the “outside world” as Wolff stated but neglected to provide the same authority to his “immediate intimate ecosystem.”

Eli’s sons were not good boys. The Bible even goes so far as to call them worthless (probably not something you would want to be written about your kids for the rest of history). Eli delighted in the Lord’s service but lacked parental authority. In 1 Samuel 2:22-25 we have this account, “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” It seems that Eli only reasoned with his sons rather than rebuking them as he should have. He was faulty for honoring his children above the Lord. Like many of us, maybe he was more interested in maintaining a relationship with his family rather than honoring the Lord with his calling.

How many of us are going to be as guilty as Eli? How many of us will lack the righteous indignation to call out sin and rebuke it with the fervency it needs? My prayer is that whether we are dealing with our biological families or the family of God, we would be willing to, with the love of Christ, deal appropriately with it and them.

And remember, always be sure your children have shoes.

Hannah

Lesson Six | Devotion #6: Hannah
Holly Wells | Assistant to Lead Pastor Jim Combs

“She continued praying before the Lord…” (1 Samuel 1:12)

I love that the Bible is written about people like you and me who are facing all sorts of life challenges and circumstances. Within the pages of Scripture, we can identify with many who are working out their faith with fear and trembling (or sometimes we see a lack of it). We learn about those who have failed through sin, we identify our sin, and we learn how we can receive the forgiveness and redemption offered through Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17; Romans 3:10, 23; 10:9-10; 1 John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1). We are encouraged to press on to a higher calling and to lay aside any sin that ensnares us so that we may run our race with endurance as we look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Philippians 2:12; 3:14; Hebrews 12:1-2). Throughout the pages of the Bible, we read of endless accounts proving, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV). The bottom line is the Bible is as relevant and relatable today as it was during the dates of its writing. How awesome is God to give us such a timeless gift?

As I dug into the story of Hannah which is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2, many parallels from this Old Testament story are very evident to present day. Although Hannah did not belong to the genealogical line of Jesus, her prayer to dedicate her son, Samuel, to the Lord was a prophetic song to the Messiah. She lived during a time of great spiritual darkness, yet she stood out as a ray of light through her faith and perseverance as she cherished the messianic hope and held the great expectation of His promise to come. Today, we live in a time that is spiritually cold and where society pushes compromise and tolerance of all things, but true followers of Jesus Christ will hold to biblical truths and principles with great anticipation for His promise to return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Jesus Christ has always been the One to offer life-saving faith whether during the days of the Old Testament all the way through the present day, and for Hannah she sought Him with an unwavering faith-filled heart.

Hannah’s life demonstrates a deep faith for her coming Savior but also great spiritual commitment, prayerfulness, patience, submission, and motherly love. Through her prayer life, we see her passion and fervency for heavenly things, not earthly things. Her desire to have a son was not for the purpose of self-gratification but rather to give her life to him so that she may give him back to the Lord. Therefore, it was to the Lord that she pleaded. Even through her disappointment and heartache, she remained faithful to Him. In fact, through her frustrations Hannah drew closer to Lord, persisting in prayer, rather than turning away from Him. Hannah had a steadfast faith; she stayed with Him through a broken heart and tear-filled prayers. She allowed her trials to make her a woman of prayer and exemplified what it meant to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Finally, as Hannah brought her petition for a son to the Lord, she was content to leave it with Him. Hannah trusted God to sustain her; she laid her troubles before the Lord with full confidence and assurance He would answer her according to what was best for her.

As we look at the life of Hannah and the virtues she modeled – her fervent faith, her persistent prayer, her unwavering trust, and the cherished hope of her coming Savior – we can be exhorted and encouraged by her example as a Christ follower despite conditions, life, or the world around us may bring. Each of us will experience desires that may not be fulfilled and circumstances that will cause pain. However, the life of Hannah is a true testament that God knows our story from beginning to end, He has a purpose through it all, and trust in the Lord will never be misplaced.

Boaz

Lesson Six | Devotion #5: Boaz
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

The book of Ruth tells the story of when there was a famine in Judah. A man takes his wife and two sons and moves to Moab. Both of the sons married Moabite women. Soon afterward the father and two sons died, leaving the wife and her two daughters-in-law to fend for themselves, which in that day and age might as well have been a death sentence. The lady, Naomi, encourages both of the girls to return to their homes and remarry in order to survive. Ruth, unlike her sister-in-law, stays with Naomi and returns to the land of Judah. In that time widows could follow behind the men working in the fields for harvest and collect the scraps of wheat left behind. This was customarily allowed by the land owners and was even written in their laws. Ruth was out collecting scraps and found favor in the eyes of Naomi’s relative named Boaz. Boaz allowed her to follow his workers and even instructed some of them to leave extra wheat behind for her, enough for Naomi as well.

In those days if a woman were widowed, a relative of her late husband would marry her. Boaz knew it would be righteous to redeem her, but he also knew that there was another relative that was ahead of him in line to do so. He very well could have helped her without asking the other relative, but he chose to do the right thing. He wanted to make sure Ruth’s needs would be met. Boaz knew that he needed to let this other man have his opportunity to care for Ruth. Ruth chapter 3, verse 13 says, “Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” 

Boaz had several opportunities to be Ruth’s redeemer right away. But he also knew that someone else was more responsible first. Boaz saw the situation and realized that in order to help Ruth the right way, he needed to let someone else have a chance to be the redeemer in her life. We might think of Boaz as trying to pass off Ruth’s problems onto someone else; I would argue that he did the opposite. He got the right people to recognize the problem and then assured her that he would do what another would not in order to take care of her. Sometimes rather than pull someone out of their mess, you have to get down in it with them and find the way out right alongside them. World Changers are not necessarily the people walking in front of us. Often, they are walking alongside us.

Samson

Lesson Six | Devotion #4: Samson
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Separated, Strong, and Stupid.

My great-grandmother lived in a double wide mobile home at the edge of a mobile home park in southern California just a few miles from where I was born and raised. She loved Jesus. She loved my sister and me and she wanted us to love Jesus. We loved to spend the night at her house because there were always donuts and she would read us stories from the Bible. I can still see my sister and I sitting on the floor at her feet as she opened the large print KJV Bible and began to read. We would each choose a story for her to read. Mine was always the story of Samson.

I loved that Samson was strong. I was mesmerized as she read aloud the incredible things that Samson did. He tore a lion in half with his bare hands! He killed a thousand enemies with the jaw bone of a donkey. He picked up the massive gates of a city and carried them in each arm nearly 20 miles! Even at the end of his story, he pushed the pillars of a building apart and brought the entire thing down killing all the leaders of the Philistines. In my six-year-old mind, he was the biblical version of the Incredible Hulk!

As an adult, however, I am less impressed with Samson. I pity him. As a pastor, I have met many people like him. For Samson is an example of someone whose gifting took him further than his character could sustain. His incredible gifting gave him incredible opportunity, but his lack of godly character caused him to squander all that God gave him. He lived a thoroughly sinful and selfish life. He was gifted, but he was no great man.

His story reads like some best-selling novel. Samson was dedicated to the Lord by his parents at his birth. He was called by God to be a judge in Israel. However, trouble soon arises. From marrying the Philistine (an enemy of Israel) woman, to the touching of dead things (and thus ceremonially defiling himself and his parents), to the blatant disregard of the laws of God to which he was supposed to be calling the people of God, he was a mess! On one such occasion after losing a bet, he killed 30 men to pay his debt! Then, in anger and retaliation, we see him burning down the wheat fields (food source) of the Philistines, who then come after him and in turn, he kills a thousand of them with the jawbone of a donkey! We see him sleep with a prostitute and then eventually “shack up” with the infamous Delilah. This woman would eventually be his demise. Oh, and as a side note, he is beyond arrogant, he does not talk to God, and he does not appear to have any actual relationship with God at all.

The end of Samson’s story begins in Judges chapter 16 where we read of Delilah “pestering and nagging” Samson relentlessly. She is using her beauty to try to trick him into revealing the “source” of his strength. This was a secret he had kept from everyone. Make no mistake; this is not a love story. It is a lust story. She uses Samson’s desire to please himself as the way to eventually ruin him. As you read it, you might think that Samson was just too stupid to realize what is going on, but I doubt that is the case. He is stupid, but not because he did not understand what was happening. He knew what she was doing. He just did not think he was ever in any danger at all. He thought he could handle whatever came his way! He believed he was strong! Each time he answered her, his answer got a little closer to the truth. Until finally, when he could not endure her nagging any longer, Samson gave in and told her that the source of his great strength was his long hair, a symbol of his being dedicated to God.

What happens next is perhaps the saddest verse found in the Scriptures. Judges 16:20 says, “So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know the Lord had left him.” There it is. God left him, and he did not even know it! It is sad. Samson’s great mistake was that he thought his gifting was his. He thought that it belonged to him and that he could use it how he wanted. But it was given to him for the glory of God. The same thing is true of you and I. We have each been gifted and called by God. Those gifts have been given to us to bring God glory and to accomplish God’s purposes.

Samson’s story is tragically sad. It is the story of someone who is incredibly gifted, who is even called, but who throws it all away to please himself. May it never be true of us.



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.