Devotions

Saul

Lesson Seven | Devotion #5: Saul
Richie Henson | Production Director

The story of King Saul is deeply tragic. Saul was a man called out by God to be the first king of Israel, and over time, Saul became more concerned with the people of Israel than he was with the God of Israel. As Saul began to focus his God given influence on the happiness of people instead of the will of God, things began to crumble quickly.

Saul makes several decisions that prove his fear of man to be more prevalent than his fear of God. An obvious example of this is Saul refusing to fight Goliath, but allowing a child to fight instead. Although David was obviously full of the faith needed to slay Goliath, I often feel that the ultimate responsibility to be God’s warrior rested with Saul.

Over time, Saul’s heart becomes hardened, and then, in 1 Samuel chapter 15, we see that Saul has exhausted the grace allotted to him as king. Saul disobeyed God by keeping the plunder of wars for himself instead of destroying it all as God commanded. Samuel, God’s prophet, approaches Saul on this issue and we see their final conversation before Saul’s death.

1 Samuel 15:24-26 says, “Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.’ And Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’”

This passage records a terrible realization and consequence. Saul realizes and admits that he feared people more than he feared God. That is a scary and truly sad feeling. The thoughts and opinions of God were out weighed by the demands of the people. The consequence of Saul’s actions is being rejected by the Lord.

Saul made many mistakes in life to which most of us will never relate. However, I think Saul’s life serves as a warning to all of us. God gifts and places each of us for a specific purpose. After salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit and in turn, spiritual gifting. How easy it has become for us to take our gifting for granted and use it selfishly. How easy is it to stop pursuing the growth of our gifts and allow them to become stagnant and stale?

We must look at Saul’s life with understanding that God desires for us to use the influence and gifts we are given to work for His purpose. If we are unwilling to obey the will of God, we must not be surprised when our gifts and influence are taken away.

Jabez

Lesson Seven | Devotion #4: Jabez
Josh Lahring | Production Director

If you have ever set a New Year’s resolution or goal to read through the entire Bible in one year, you remember getting to 1 Chronicles. It has just about everyone’s genealogy. The word ‘son’ is used 391 times in the book. It is understood that this gives Scripture credibility as the history is recorded in great detail. However, right in the middle of this seating chart for a family reunion, there appears to be a side-note.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked.” There are three items that jump out in this passage. First, Jabez brought a lot of pain for his mother in birth. He was blamed for labor pain all his life. Our first child had a massive head, and she had to be delivered via C-section.  To this day she still has a larger than normal head, and it reminds me of the stress of her trying to be born.

Second, he prays that God would enlarge his border. The word “influence” is only used three times in the Bible and all three are in 2 Corinthians 10 where Paul talks about the “area of influence” God has given them and how they pray it will be enlarged.

Third, God granted his request. God wants to use us. After my first year in college for music, I transferred to computer science because I did not think I would ever get a job in music.  Two weeks into classes, I realized I needed to drop out and follow what God would have for me to do.  I transferred to a Christian college in Lansing and studied Bible, theology, and music.  I am not someone who likes change. It was a crazy leap of faith for me to make a move.  Five years later, He brought me to this ministry.

Do we pray that God will use us in a great way or do we just hope that something big happens? I know personally, it can be easy to be content with how your life is.  It is easy to think I will probably never do anything that will change the entire world. Jabez does not just ask for more land; he asks that God’s hand would be with him.  Jabez does not accomplish it all on his own; He asked God to be with him. It is not for personal glory. It is for His glory.

Where is your area of influence?

Are you an influencer for the Lord?

Jezebel

 

Lesson Seven | Devotion #3: Jezebel
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director

At Second Glance

Jezebel: It is more than just a name; it is an adjective that has influenced our society for decades. Though, my daughter was quick to inform me that the term is not used anymore.  When you ask people what the term Jezebel means, you get responses like hooker, tramp, evil, and murderer.  With such a vile description, it is easy to dismiss her and her sin because we would never do such things and those words would never describe us.  But those are the overt, radical traits of Jezebel.  What if you took a second glance?  Are you sure you have nothing in common with her?  Caution: gentlemen, if you are tempted to skip this devotion because it is for women, read on and then spend some time reading about her counterpart: Absolom.

As you read Jezebel’s story in 1 Kings 16 – 2 Kings 9, you learn that she was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Sidon and married to Ahab, King of Israel.  Her mission in life was to remove Jehovah God from all of Israel and force them to worship Baal and other pagan gods (1 Kings 18:4). She lived in open rebellion to God (Exodus 20:3). Are you living in open rebellion?  Any time we make something or someone more important to us than God, we are worshipping other gods and living rebellious lives. Our gods just seem to be socially acceptable: power (we call it influence), position, wealth, and relationships. In God’s sight, we are no less rebellious.  Jezebel’s primary god was self.  She was willing to do anything to get what she wanted.  In 1 Kings 21, we see Jezebel manipulate people and circumstances to get the king a vineyard he wanted, and she believed he deserved. Side note: we refer to this as an entitlement.  After all, the king and queen should have anything they want, even if it took murder to get it. My husband and I occasionally disagree.  Can you relate?  After making a ‘joint’ decision, I started to notice Greg would ask me the same question for the next several days: “Are you sure you do not want to…?” – his way.  Finally, I would say: “Do you think that if you keep asking me, I will change my mind?” I was shocked that he would resort to such manipulation.  Then I heard a still, small voice say: “Why do you have to have everything your way?”  Ouch!  Those 2 x 4’s are painful.  It took his “manipulation” to expose my god: self, having it my way. Who or what do you serve?  Warning: if you have control issues or struggle with being content, you are likely serving self.

It is helpful to take a third glance at Jezebel.  Everyone is created by God, even Jezebel.  Say what you want about Queen Jezebel, she had incredible leadership skills.  She was a woman of tremendous influence, determination, and commitment.  Liz Curtis Higgins cites one of Jezebel’s biggest accomplishments as having “filled her palace and surrounding worship centers with 450 priests and 400 priestesses of her foreign gods.”  Jezebel was a heavy hitter.  The problem is she was playing for the wrong team.  What gifts has God given you?  For whose team are you playing?

I think it is safe to say there is a little bit of Jezebel in all of us.  As spouses, parents, employers, employees, and sisters or brothers in Christ, we all have a sphere of influence.  Not one of us is insignificant.  Every day we have two decisions to make: who will we serve and will we use our gifts for good or for evil (1 Peter 4:11).

Personally, I am going to pray for the strength and determination to build His Kingdom, not my own (1 Corinthians 14:12).

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.



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.