Great Opportunities 

1 Samuel 22:1-2
“David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.”

1 Samuel 23:3
“But David’s men said to him, ‘Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?””

Perhaps you have heard stories about the heroics of the men who aligned themselves with David. They are often referred to as his “Mighty Men.” This is a fair description for many of them since they went on to accomplish great exploits in the furtherance of the kingdom and in its defense from enemies both inside and out.

That being said, it is important to note that these men did not start out mighty. Our first introduction to them is quite discouraging. We learn their characters were somewhat questionable, and they lacked any real faith to step out and serve the Lord. It was not where they started that defined them, as much as, where they ended up. It was the fact that they stepped into battle while filled with trepidation, that made them into the mighty men God used to forge the nation.

All of us have both opportunity and obstacles in the path before us. The question is whether we will trust the sufficiency of the Lord or if we will cower behind our inabilities. If we choose to step into the obstacle in the power of the Spirit of God, we will find victory that will forge us into one of His mighty men.

Years ago, I commented to a friend about the exploits of a man that God was using in a unique and tremendous way. He seemed to always be right in the midst of grand opportunities, and trying circumstances. I said, “It is amazing how these things always seem to happen to him.” Another man, who knew him much better, replied, “They do not ‘happen to him,” but he goes and looks for them”. I thought, how strange it was that while I try to avoid difficulty, he was looking for it, stepping into it, and finding huge opportunity to point many to Christ.

Let’s let our circumstances forge us into mighty men and women, who have chosen to be involved in furthering the kingdom of Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Sad Ending 

1 Samuel 31:6

“So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day.”

Death is the natural end of every life.  However, the death of Saul and his sons was particularly tragic because it was premature. 


Years earlier, Saul set in motion a course of life that was guaranteed to end badly. He began to ignore the Word of the Lord, and to live life his own way. Although the impact was not immediate, it was inevitable. Before long, Saul and his sons found themselves surrounded by an enemy they could not defeat. Things did not have to end this way for Saul. It clearly was not the will of God for him to watch his children die in battle, or to fall on his own sword to avoid being tortured by his enemies. All of that could have been avoided had Saul been willing to get off the road of self will and disobedience, and return to following the Lord, and His Word. 


Not all tragedy in life can be avoided. Jesus explained, in this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33); however, much of the difficulty we encounter in life is self inflicted. When we stray from the will of God to pursue things His Word forbids, it is inevitable, we will have to endure difficulties that He never intended. Many of the struggles in life, marriage, or family could be stopped, by returning to the ways of God. 


It is not too late. The mercies of God are new this morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). No matter how far down the path of disobedience you have journeyed, there is an off ramp called grace, where God will restore you to Himself, and begin to restore what the years have stolen. 


Pastor Jim 



  

That’s Not Fair

1 Samuel 30:24-25
“’…But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.’ So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.”

As David and his men pursued the Amalekites, some of them grew weary. It is not difficult to understand why. Not only were they pursuing at a rapid pace, but they were doing so with broken hearts. Amelek had plundered their goods and kidnapped their families. For days, these men had been grieving, many, perhaps, unable to eat, due to the deep sorrow they were feeling. As a result, two hundred men were unable to press on, and the company split into two groups. Two hundred men stayed behind, and four hundred went to battle.

After a decisive victory, David’s men returned with all their goods, their families and the spoils of wars. As the two groups came together, the men who went to battle thought they should receive a larger portion than those who stayed behind. This seems to be reasonable, after all they were the ones who risked their lives to do the work and defeat the enemy. David, however, intervened and declared that equal portions would be given to those who go to battle and to those who remain behind. Obviously, David saw things differently. All they could see was the hard work they had put in, David saw that the victory was the Lord’s.

Whenever we are involved in ministry, of any kind, we must realize we have been chosen, equipped, strengthened, and will be directed by the Lord. When the ministry has been accomplished, it is because of the work of God. We no more lead someone to Christ, than David’s men won the battle. It is the Lord who does the work, and we are involved in the process so we can grow in Christ. It is folly to exalt ourselves above another, because of the way God has chosen to use us.

Whether you are called to go to the mission field, serve in children’s ministry, lead a home fellowship, be on the prayer team, invite friends to church, or serve in any other capacity, it is critical we realize, the rewards are the same. There is no greater reward for teaching than there is for inviting. The key is, understanding we are rewarded for faithfulness.

Whatever God has called you to, do it heartily as unto the Lord. If you are struggling to determine how God wants to use you, keep a few things in mind. First, He loves souls, so invite friends to Christ, or to church where they can hear about Him. Second, He wants to make disciples, so invest in the lives of others to help them grow in Christ.

Pastor Jim


Winning Team

1 Samuel 29:4
“But the princes of the Philistines were angry with him; so the princes of the Philistines said to him, ‘Make this fellow return, that he may go back to the place which you have appointed for him, and do not let him go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become our adversary…'”

The Philistine lords gathered together to prepare an attack on Israel. Since David had been living among them, and was a tremendously talented soldier, King Achish included him and his men in the battle plans. When the remaining Philistine leaders saw David and his men, they immediately objected. David was an Israelite who had been responsible for defeating the Philistines in countless battles. These men knew that to include him in their campaign would prove to be a big mistake, as David would no doubt turn on them when the battle grew hot.

I find it interesting that these men were able to recognize what seems too allude so many Christians. The Bible clearly states, if we want to succeed in following Christ, we must surround ourselves with the right people.

Proverbs 12:26
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Amos 3:3
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Too many believers have begun to follow Christ, only to be tripped along the way by the company they choose to keep. While we are not to by isolationists like the Pharisees, who sought to remove themselves from any contact with the unbelieving world, we do need to recognize that the company we keep will determine the person we become. If you are single, don’t settle for someone who is not committed to Christ, just because you are lonely and they are nice. Make good relationship choices, beginning with, determining that you will be actively involved in your church, where you can be surrounded by others who want to follow Jesus, and will encourage you along the way.

Pastor Jim

 

Where Are You? 

1 Samuel 28:6

“And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.”

The Philistine armies were a constant threat to Israel. They occupied the coastal south of the nation, but not being content with the land they had, and regularly attempted to spread north. Saul, now an old man, is once again threatened by the war. Confused and frightened, he begins to seek the Lord, only to find that in his time of great need, heaven remains silent. In desperation, he travels to En Dor to search out a medium who will tell him what to do.
 

Saul could not hear from God in times of need because he did not listen to God daily. For years, Saul had been fighting the will of God, and seeking to drown out His voice. God told Him the kingdom was to be given to David, but he fought that, and tried to kill God’s chosen vessel. Whenever he was irritated by he conviction of God, he called for musicians, hoping the music would distract him from hearing the Lord’s voice. Now in a time of desperation, that Voice has been driven so far away, he can no longer hear it.

Keep in mind, God is not actually being silent. Even in the quiet, God was speaking loud and clear. Saul knew he should call David back and make him king. Also, as king, he had his own copy of the Word of God, which he was supposed to be reading every day.

We need to remember, sin will silence the voice of God, but repentance will bring His voice back.

Pastor Jim

 

 

 

What Is Your Heart Saying? 

1 Samuel 27:1
“And David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.’”


It seems that David had reached his breaking point. After years of hiding in caves, and narrowly escaping the hand of Saul, David decides to leave Israel, and dwell among the Philistines. This decision would lead him to live a double life. He still has a heart for the things of God, but is living a lie. As the story continues to unfold, David even reached a point where he attempted to join the Philistines in battle against the people of God. This was no doubt one of the darkest times in the life of David. The root cause is revealed in verse one,

1 Samuel 27:1“And David said in his heart…”

Like all of us, David’s head was filled with a barrage of different messages. In one ear, he heard the voice of God promising him he would one day sit upon the throne in Israel, in the other, his heart spoke. Fear, discomfort, difficulty, and exhaustion, had brought David to the point where his heart began to tell him Saul would defeat him, and the only hope was to run. In a moment of weakness, David listened to his heart and walked out of the plan of God.

This is not an uncommon experience. We all face circumstances that cause us to call into question the promises of God. We, like David, are forced to make a choice. Will we listen to the promises of God or the cries of the heart? This has become so common that we are often encouraged to “Follow our heart” or “Do what our hearts tells us.” That was bad advice when David followed it three thousand years ago, and it remains bad advice today. Instead of listening to our hearts, which is little more than an expression of our ever changing emotions, we should listen to the the unchanging promises found in the pages of God’s Word.

Consider this: who was correct, David’s heart or God’s promises? Did David die by the hand of Saul, or was he crowned Israel’s greatest king? We can, and should, always trust in the promises of God, over the ever changing and unstable cries of our hearts.

Pastor Jim

 

Leadership

1 Samuel 26:6

“Then David answered, and said… 

‘Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?’

And Abishai said, ‘I will go down with you.’”


This passage gives some very interesting insight into leadership. David searched for men of faith who would be willing to take risks for the kingdom. Abishai rose to the challenge and joined David on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the camp of the king. Under the cover of darkness, they made their way past the guards, and all the away to  Saul. It was at this point that Abishai suggest they take the opportunity to kill the king, and bring an end to the difficulties he has caused. The exchange between David and Abishai is priceless in the lessons it illustrates. 


1 Samuel 26:8

“Then Abishai said to David, ‘God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!'”


1 Samuel 26:9

“But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?'”


1 Samuel 26:10

“David said furthermore, ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.'”


Notice, that while Abishai was a man of great, even heroic faith, he was still capable of losing sight of God’s calling. He saw this as an opportunity to kill he king, while David saw it as a time to show all of Israel how much he truly trusted in the sovereign hand of God. 


Leadership often involves helping those who walk alongside us, to keep focussed on the big picture. While it is important to be surrounded by those who are fearless for the furtherance of the Gospel, we also need people who are willing to stay true to the proper methods. 


This may be particularly applicable today. I recently heard an apologist say, “In the past, people were mostly concerned whether or not something was true, but today they seem to be more concerned whether something will work.” As the church moves forward to reach the world and make disciples, we must remain true to the ways of Christ as much as to the message of Christ. 


Pastor Jim