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Daily Devotions 8-2 to 8-8-21

Daily devotions to encourage your faith.

August 2

1 Samuel 24:10 "This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’"


Nowadays, it seems that our society is not bent on exercising patience.  Fifteen second stoplights are too much for the average driver to handle.  Cries of frustration even increase when the cashier at the checkout counter has to call his or her superiors to verify a price.  And lest we forget that a slow internet connection is the end of the world (or no WI-FI for your smartphone).

 

The lack of patience we demonstrate as individuals in our daily lives also finds its way into our relationship with God.  Instead of staying in God’s will for our lives, we are quick to look for less stressful and frustrating situations.  We say, “Surely the grass is greener on the other side of the pasture.  If I can only get past this hurdle everything will be okay.”


This lack of patience manifests itself into a lack of blessing by God because we have dodged the place He has called to serve Him.  What seemed like a good escape plan instead turns into a reality check when God convicts us for that decision.

 

The LORD taught a similar lesson to David.  After being falsely accused of trying to kill King Saul, God delivered Saul into David's hand. It was a chance given to David to exercise faith and patience. He had a promise of the kingdom, but no command to slay the king. He reasons strongly, both with himself and with his men, against doing Saul any harm.  


David knows that his situation is sticky and that he can end it all with one swing of his sword.  Yet he realizes that doing so would step outside of God’s call for his life.  So he humbly bows before the authority in his life (Romans 13:1-6), and waits patiently for God’s blessing to take him to the next level.


Sometimes it is hard to rely on prayer alone when we want something right now.  The process can take time, and often requires a great deal of patience.  However, the LORD is like the farmer who knows the cycle of a crop.  God Almighty can see the beginning and the end.  His vision is not limited by sin or circumstances.  As we wait patiently for the LORD’s answer, we can trust He is in control and knows what He is doing.  In the meantime, He is growing us into the people He wants us to become.  He is using the circumstances to mature our faith.

  

Before you pack up your bags and move on from a difficult situation at home, work, in a relationship, in the church, or wherever, be reminded that God will make it clear when the time to go forward truly is in your life (if ever).  Take the times of difficulties with a good attitude and, no matter how hard it is, humbly obey those authorities in your life.  Trust God with the outcome.  


This is when your faith will shine forth the brightest—when you have nothing going your way or working in your favor.


Father, free my foolish heart from believing I need the approval of people when you, the thrice holy God of eternity, greatly delights in me. David's men would have had him take Saul's life if they could have. Yet, we are reminded that foolishness often comes in numbers. Protect me from being anything other than what you need me to be in your plan for me. Thank you that my identity is in your Son, not my performance or people-pleasing. Thank you for saving my soul from your wrath! In Jesus' name. Amen.

August 3

1 Samuel 25:29 "Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God."


David has sent ten of his young men to humbly and graciously make an appeal before Nabal. The hope was that he would be willing to spare some much needed supplies for David and his men. The young men greet Nabal in David's name, wish him great peace and prosperity, inform him of how they have protected Nabal's shepherds from harm (such that not one of his sheep or goats have gone missing), and then make an appeal, asking Nabal to spare whatever he would be willing to spare, for David and his men.


Nabal utterly snubs David's appeal, not only refusing his request, but greatly insulting him with the wicked and harsh response he gives to his young men. The men then do a ""180,” head back to their camp, and report to David all that had happened.


David is so furious that he makes a hasty decision and vow. He is going to go with his men to barbarically kill Nabal and every guy belonging to him, both for the sin of Nabal and for the lack of wisdom and restraint on David's part, if God does not break in the situation in some way.


Then, one of Nabal's young servants (probably one of the shepherds whom David has guarded and protected at Carmel) has somehow come to find out about all that has happened. He was probably present when Nabal had rejected David’s gracious appeal and he knew that David and his men would return to wreak havoc on Nabal and all that he owns. And so he reports to Abigail, Nabal's wife, all that has happened.


Abigail, who is full of wisdom and understanding and who stands as the exact opposite of her foolish husband, takes immediate action to defuse the bomb that is David’s temper. She immediately organizes a grocery list of supplies, which she sends before her to be carried to David and his men.


Abigail mounts a donkey and sneaks away to where David and his men are, so that she might make a humble appeal to the one whose humble appeal has been grossly despised. She asks David to transfer the sin of her husband to her own account, so that she might seek his mercy and forgiveness for it, on his behalf, ultimately sparing his entire house from the consequences of his sin.


What does this mean for you?


First, beware of rash, emotionally-driven responses and decisions. Stop and pray!


Second, recognize the necessity of being humble, not “all that,” in order to be useful to God. We have seen it in David, in Jonathan, and now in Abigail, but not in Saul or Nabal.


Finally, beware of a vengeful heart. Vengeance belongs to the LORD. Absorb the offense, and wait upon the LORD. He will repay with judgment, either against the opposition or in Christ.


Father, in your sufficient grace, by your compelling love, for your matchless glory, we step into this new day. When we are tempted to anger and let an offense consume us, may you send people like Abigail in our lives. Protect us from one another in the body of Christ, the local church, and anywhere we congregant for your glory. It is hard, Lord. But for the glory of your name help us. We love you and praise you in Jesus' name. Amen.

August 4

1 Samuel 26:9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?


The great Reformer Martin Luther once wrote, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.”

 

This is an apt description of the episode of David and his nephew Abishai.  Just as in chapter twenty four, David had an opportunity to end Saul’s life and take the throne.  As they picked their way through the sleeping troops, they came upon Saul. Abishai couldn’t resist the thought. In 1 Samuel 26:8, he whispered to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.”

 

Can you feel the tension here? “Just one shot, David, and you are on the throne!” Despite the persuasive appeals from Abishai, David knew that it was not right to execute justice by wrongdoing. No matter what others said or how he felt, David knew that godly ends must be brought about by godly means.

 

It is in moments like these that God reminds us that He is there beside us.  Like the bar that holds us in place when we go on a rollercoaster, how much more is the bar of God’s protective love! God will never allow anything we go through to overcome us.  He is in complete control.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).  Even when we feel weak from the ride, we can be assured that God will make a way for us to continue on the journey.

 

As you ride the roller coaster of hard times and temptations, take to heart the words of the apostle James: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3).  When you realize that only God can show the next step, you can take comfort in knowing it is privilege beyond anything to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Finally, David’s example leaves us today with some straightforward questions.  


Does your personal image and safety take precedence over obeying the Word of God?


Do you fill your own “emotional needs” before obeying the Word of God?


Do you take the often hard way of the Word over the easier choice in front of you that involves compromising God’s standards?


Do you so listen to others that you fail to heed God’s voice as spelled out in the Word?


The answer to these questions is not simply a matter of more knowledge.  It is a desire to obey God and uphold His Word.


Father, for your glory, grant us quick repentances today, coupled with deep listening and a non-anxious presence. As David once again faced down a chance to take out Saul, Lord, grant us patience not to do the same to anyone--whether Christian or not. We pray that you would grant us great grace for this task. We need to repent of this. Thank you that you are able to take all of our sin and did fully in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 5

2 Samuel 2:6 "May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this."


King Saul and his son Jonathan are dead (along with two of Saul's other sons), Israel has just lost a major battle against the Philistines, and the great question that remains is, ""What does David do now?"" He has graciously and tenderly mourned the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, but where does the road, which God has appointed for David, lead now?


This is the question, which David must logically address. Rather than make any rash presumptions of his own like he did with Abigail, he heads to the perfect place for his answer.


David, who has learned much about the sovereignty of God at this point (throughout the course of his life and his recent experience with many difficult trials), seeks the answer on his knees before God. Almost like the levels in a video game, David comes to level that we will call ""trusting in God"" and simply asks,


""LORD, is it Your will that I should go up to any part of Judah? Should I leave the land of the Philistines and head back into the land of my people at all at this point, or would you have me remain here for an unknown period of time?""


Young Christian, this is a statement of humility and trust! David could have said, “LORD, I have done nothing wrong and look at where you have led me. LORD, isn’t it time for me even now to go back to my homeland and become king?”


But notice that David's words are precious and they express the heart of a humble and willing servant, who is face down at the feet of his master, saying, ""LORD, I only want to do Your will, not mine! I belong to You. And I don't want to take so much as one step; I don't want to breathe a drop of air in the wrong direction, in any direction, which is contrary to Your will!""


David didn’t think of himself more highly than he should have. He didn’t think no one was greater than he was. Rather, he recognized his own faults and his desperate need of God's ongoing direction and guidance. Even with a clear promise of God to drive and motivate him, David dared not speed ahead of

God’s providence and plan. So, he sought God's direction the whole way to becoming the king of Israel.


Are you happy to wait on God, or anxious to go ahead of His plans for you?


Father, from the resentments we collected this week, free us; and in response to the disappointments we experienced, center us. When there was great fighting between the house of Saul and the house of David, peace eventually prevailed. Lord, you know I have offended people in my path this week. Help me to seek reconciliation if needed. Show me my offenses. Let there be no wicked ways in me. We desire that to be true. In Jesus' name. Amen.

August 6

2 Samuel 2:22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”


David has been anointed king of Judah, but Abner has set up Ishbosheth, Saul's son, as king over the rest of Israel. And because of this unexpected (and yet, divinely appointed) intrusion, another 7 1/2 years will pass before David reigns over all Israel, in accordance with God's promise. Throughout a great part of this waiting period, we find that Ishbosheth's Israel and David's Judah will be at war with each other.


And, in God's good providence, David will grow stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grows weaker and weaker.


David, though the rightful ruler over all Israel (in step with God's revealed will through the prophet Samuel), doesn’t start war with Ishbosheth. Rather, Abner goes down to David to initiate this conflict. Abner, like his former master, Saul, is taking further action to secure his own comfort in rebellion against the will of God.


It is clear that Abner was very aware of God's will concerning the reign of David. He wasn’t unaware of the very well-known declaration of God's will, which proclaimed David to be the rightful king over all Israel in place of Saul.


What about David? His patience and his confidence in the sovereignty of God are very clearly shown here in that he does not start war with Abner and Ishbosheth.


Yet, David’s armies easily defeat Ishbosheth's army. Then, a great chase follows, as the people of Judah run after the remaining and fleeing Israelites, especially Abner. Asahel happened to be very quick on his feet. He is described in as being ""as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle.""


Being so fast and fixing his attention on Abner, he outran everyone else and began to catch up to Abner. Abner warns Asahel to turn back but he refuses. As he is running full speed toward Abner, Abner stops and lifts up the back end of his spear and thrusts it into the stomach of Asahel. Asahel hits it with such tremendous force and speed it goes right into his stomach and out the other side of his back.


What a story! As a young Christian, you must also learn from Asahel that excited zeal must be calmed with patience and wisdom. Oftentimes, those who are young in the faith have a tremendous burning fire for God and His glorious Gospel. However, sometimes, that zeal can be mixed with a bit of immature pride, lacking patient wisdom. It can carry you a bit too far and too fast and you can find yourself running headlong to face Abner when God wants to groom you on a more basic level before you are prepared for such a battle.


God wants you to master the earlier elements of the faith before you begin to tackle certain mountains that come as you grow in your faith. He wants you to taste a bit more of the milk of the Word, before you start chewing thick, rare steaks that are difficult to swallow.


Father, as this day begins, and continues, gentle us with grace, fill us with your mercies and compel us with your love. Father, may our identity in Christ be our freedom and joy today--not our "pose", ruse or masks we wear before others. Father, may we avoid self-pity, self-glory & self-contempt today, like we'd avoid rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas. Thank you that your Son, Jesus Christ, came in the flesh to remove the guilt of the sin we have. In Jesus' name. Amen.

August 7

2 Samuel 5:10 "And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him."


Abner had partnered with David to bring all of Israel under David's reign. However, Joab, apart from David's consent and knowledge, in seeking to avenge the death of his brother Asahel, murdered Abner in cold blood. When David found out about what Joab had done, he cursed Joab's house and greatly mourned for Abner. The people of Israel, after hearing of the severity and sincerity of David's mourning, knew that David was innocent of Abner's murder and they were well-pleased with David.


However, before this great event takes place, something happens to Ishbosheth, Saul's son (and Israel's present king), which David neither planned nor expected. More than likely, Ishobsheth's betrayers and murderers, thinking that David had ordered the murder of Abner, had formulated a plan to kill Ishbosheth, thinking that David would not only spare them (and approve of their act of murder), but furthermore, he would reward them. And so, their loyalty to Ishbosheth, went right out the window, when a so-called, ""personal golden opportunity"" had arisen, now that Abner was dead


Notice the utter foolishness of living as if God does not exist. We have seen this over and over again in the stories we have studied. One of the recurring themes of Bible, in fact, is knowing the foolishness of living life as if God does not exist."" These two “friends” of Ishbosheth are living examples given to us so that we can learn from them and avoid the paths they chose as we walk through the same brief corridor of life.


The Old Testament shows time and again that there is a sovereign God who looks upon all that we do and say and think. He is determined to bring about justice for His own glory and namesake. God doesn't shout aloud every time we violate His Word. No, He is patient and He waits, waits, and waits until the appointed time of His justice is met and then He deals with us accordingly (Hebrews 12:1-9).


Will you continue to live life as if God does not exist, as if your judgment is not impending and even long overdue from a legal standpoint?


Don't test God's patience. Don't take His visible silence as a sign of His indifference over the matters of sin in your life.


If you are not His in Jesus Christ, then He is angry with you every day. Indeed, He must be and His wrath presently abides on you. Will you tamper with a holy, infinite, and eternal God for even a moment longer?


If I told you to put down a thousand dollars on a flipped coin, letting you choose heads or tails in a gamble, you would shutter, and say, ""No, I will not risk the loss of a thousand dollars, even at the odds of 50%!""


But why then do you gamble with your life for another day? Why do you delay a sincere pursuit of Christ, for another moment? Why do you spin the loaded barrel yet another day when eternity hangs in the balance?


Father, help us to become far less clumsy with our friends' broken hearts. Father, forgive us for making optional things essential, and essential things optional. Father, thank you that you didn't deal with us according to our sins today, or reward us according to our iniquities. Thank you, Father, for dealing with us according to Jesus' obedience, and for rewarding us according to his righteousness. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

August 8

2 Peter 1:1 "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours."


Today, we begin a verse-by-verse study of the book of Second Peter. Why are we doing this, you ask? Luke 24:27. If Jesus-centered expository sermons were good enough for Jesus himself, they're good enough for us. A gospel-centered verse-by-verse study is like steak and potatoes. A self-help-like moralistic sermon is like that fast food you crave but don’t care for three minutes after you eat it.


In other words: We want to go verse-by-verse because we mine God’s Word for all it is worth. As always, we can’t cover everything. However, we pray that you will study and pray to our triune Lord for understanding as well. He will answer!


First, you need to know that Second Peter was one of the last books written and accepted into the New Testament. Many didn’t think that Peter wrote the letter himself. Yet, there is no good reason to deny that Peter wrote it. In fact, while there are differences of word usage between First and Second Peter, this is probably due to the fact that Peter used a different secretary to record the words. Second Peter is God’s Word!


Second, you need to know the audience. Who is Peter writing to? Pretty much the same people he wrote to in his first letter—a Gentile congregation in today’s country of Turkey. What was he writing about, you ask? He was writing to remind the believers that Jesus would return and, until that day, they needed to pursue personal holiness. Peter knows there are false teachers who deny Christ’s return (see chapter three) and he needed to correct them, edify them, and encourage them.


What are some takeaways from this opening verse of this book?


1. Pray that God may show us the difference today between the good and the best; the necessary and the non-essential; the timeless and the temporary. Peter identifies himself as a “servant” of Jesus. The Greek word means “slave.” Peter could not look at himself in the mirror without completely, wholly, and utterly acknowledging that Jesus was his whole life – not just part of it. Is he yours?


2. Doctrine (what we believe) matters! All doctrine matters for life and godliness--even the doctrines that honest Christians debate amongst themselves. Doctrine matters because it shapes the conceptual structures through which God, as he really is, comes to us in power. How you view yourself (“slave of God”) and apply it practically (“obtained faith”) informs how you live for Christ.


3. As the old hymns says, “My hope is built on nothing less, and nothing more, than Jesus' blood and righteousness.” This is what Peter is reminding his readers here. I often wonder what percentage of Christians realize that, along with forgiveness, we've been given Jesus' righteousness. Our righteousness is just as good as Jesus' righteousness, because it IS Jesus' righteousness. Nothing less will do. Jesus is your righteousness & holiness (1 Cor. 1:30). Any thought of increased holiness beyond union with Christ is insane.


As we begin our study over the next couple of months, would you pray that God would use this to share the Gospel and convert the unsaved and grow those who are saved?


Father, as our substitute, Jesus became both the agent and victim of sin on the cross, thus he is our righteousness AND healing. The cross is simultaneously our greatest "dressing down" and dressing up. Our sinful rags for Jesus' perfect righteousness, Father. Oh, how we thank you. You are amazing! Thank you that while were sinners you gave us life eternal and forgiveness in Jesus. Praise you! Help us, as Romans 8 says, to be slaves to your will—not out of obligation, but out of freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.