Weeks in Review I Samuel 17-20 and some Psalms.

 Normally this post would be titled “Week in Review” but the holidays have me all discombobulated! Wow, I can’t believe I spelled that right the first time! Anyhoo, it felt like a review was overdue. So this is for you. (no more rhymes, I mean it…….) 🙂

I Samuel 17- The Standoff

In chapter 17 we are reminded of the strength it took David to stand up to that Goliath, not to mention how much easier it is to identify with his brothers, the ones cowering in the corner. However, something else has struck me since reading this. And that is how clear it was to David, that there was no way he was going to let someone defile the name of His God. And where did that strength come from? He recalled how God had delivered him time and again. It was his battle cry. 
“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
 Here’s mine!

 “The Lord, who strengthened my mind to bring  me through a math major with Abstract Algebra and Complex Variables, He will  strengthen my mind to stay focused on my daily tasks with Abstract children and complex laundry!!”  

What’s yours? Click on the link and tell us in the comments section!! 

I Samuel 18- I’ll be there for you!

  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

 In Chapter 18 David and Jonathan’s friendship is displayed. I have been blessed with many Jonathans who have helped me in the battle of life. Although sometimes it didn’t feel like help!
 Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
                       But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

The lessons that I learned from these ladies were sent to me straight from God. But, to be honest, sometimes I shot the messenger. With women, we all know, this is more common than not. I severed ties, gossiped, nursed wounds, and acted regrettably.  Yet over time, through the grace of God, this is not still the case.  I have grown to appreciate our differences instead of complaining about them. I have chosen to focus on my part of any relationship difficulty instead of playing the victim. And I have learned to see the beauty of God’s character, woven in the world around me, through the women He has placed in my life.   

Click the link for some tips on how to find those forever friends! I edited it to add one more!

I Samuel 19- I don’t feel like it. 

 Here we see the contrast of acting on faith verses feelings. David acts on faith. He is feeling threatened at his place of work, the castle. And rightly so. But he kept going after seeking counsel from his friend. And through his faith God kept him safe despite the dangerous situation. 
Then Saul. He was feeling jealousy. And he acted on it….with no reservation.
So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be killed.” Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these things. So Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as in times past.
And there was war again; and David went out and fought with the Philistines, and struck them with a mighty blow, and they fled from him.
Now the distressing spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing music with his hand. 10 Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence; and he drove the spear into the wall. So David fled and escaped that night.

Saul choose jealousy over joy, but David chose faith over feelings, and we have that same choice daily!

I Samuel 20- The Waiting Game

32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.
34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully.

David believes that it is no longer safe for him to go to Saul, and devises a plan with Jonathan to discover the truth. The answer sends David on the run to continue his wait for the crown in a terrifying way. This chapter reminds us all the wait can be long, and it can be scary. Here in God’s word is where we find the strength to continue waiting for the things that He has promised us.

Psalms 11- This is a test.

  The Lord tests the righteous,

In the middle of running for his life, he is able to pen these Psalms that minister to us today.
We are tested. It is well known, but why? One reason is that without being pressed, we tend to be completely unaware of the garbage that needs to be cleaned out on the inside.
 
When we are going through a test, or have gone through one, and feel like we  have bombed it, we have that same choice to make. Are we going to play the blame game thinking about who we can blame for our reaction? Or instead, will we draw close to the One who has all the answers, and allow Him to walk us through, as He gently corrects us because He loves us.

I pray that as we start this new year, instead of crumbling up 2013 and tossing it in the trash, we would instead take it to Jesus, and spend time with Him, letting him change our hearts and teach us His ways, which are higher than our ways, as He molds us into who He has planned for us to be in 2014! Amen!

Psalms 59- Just.For.Me.

 16But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
17To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.

This was my favorite. I was so moved by the way God’s living word recounted my morning, and the power of His words to soothe the soul. He is so good. So. So. Good.
Ok, now you are all caught up! See you for I Samuel 21!

Psalms 59- Just.For.Me.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
2Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men.

For look, they lie in wait for my life;
The mighty gather against me,
Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord.
4They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine.

Here we have another Psalm written by David while he is on the run. I look at this prayer and I pray it for my Christian brothers all over the world that are on the brink of Martyrdom for their faith. For Pastor Saed in Iran, suffering such deplorable conditions, through no fault of his own! Deliver him Father! I pray it for those in America, persecuted for their faith also. And as I look to our future, I pray.

16But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
17To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.

Then this. Ahhh. Such refreshment. I praise God for the way that He speaks right to our hearts . This was me, with my kiddies. Singing aloud of His mercy this morning, with my tired fingers stumbling over the guitar strings, trying to find the rhythm, we sang about resting in His embrace, as oceans rise, for I am His and He is mine. You couldn’t plan the timing of this word in my life. Because you see, this morning, is the first morning, in too many mornings that we started out that way, singing aloud. And this afternoon, as I sit for a rare quiet moment, to dig into scripture to see what my Father has for me, I read that. Singing aloud of His mercy in the morning. As I sit tired, and seeking motivation I read “To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises.” As I feel failure, as the day is ending my list undone I read “For God is my defense, My God of mercy.” And I cry. My eyes overflowing. Because I feel so loved. And this is the proof. Apologetics are found most clearly in the regular reading of God’s word. Because in these moments, I am never more sure of Who God is, as He speaks directly to my need and lovingly into my heart.
I pray that we would fight through the distractions of our days and sit at God’s feet letting the healing, guiding, and protecting power of His Word renew and restore our hearts.

The High Cost of "Free" Birth Control vs. The Invaluable Worth of Obedience

There is lots of talk these days regarding “free birth control.” However, even that phrase “Free Birth Control” is the biggest oxymoron.  There is absolutely nothing free about sex, which is the primary reason for this “free” birth control. 
First we have to establish the value of sex as God intended. What is it worth? The act of making love between a husband and wife is invaluable. Priceless. It was intended by God to be the glue that holds them together. In addition to the spiritual bond, something chemical happens in your brain when that physical action takes place that bonds you to that person for life. For better or for worse. It is intimate. It is supposed to be. There is something amazing about knowing someone in a way that nobody on the planet has ever known or will ever know them, not to mention the possibility of partaking in the creation of a human being. What is that worth? In Mark 10: Jesus said  But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’ so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
If sex defined by God is priceless, then what is the true cost of so called “free sex”?
Imagine with me for a minute that you had the strongest glue in the world on the palm of your hand. And the next person with whom you held hands, you would be stuck to for life. But some people ran around saying this wasn’t true. They said that you could hold any old hand, and it was no big deal. So you believed them. And gave it a try. And now you were stuck, bonded together with someone you hardly knew. Except this person didn’t want to be with you anymore so they ripped away, leaving a raw, bloody mess…..until it eventually scabbed over. You found out the hard way that although those voices were partly right, they were mostly and painfully wrong. However, even though there was a scab, there was still some glue left on your hand. You were in pain, but the voices yelled all the louder. It’s not true!! You can hold anyone’s hand that you want! So you grabbed another hand. And found out yet again a bond had taken place. But this time you got scared and pulled away, leaving another awfully painful wound. The scab appeared once more, and while your hand felt increased pain, there were now some parts left completely numb. At this point there was very little stickiness left, and you were left to wander, wondering who to believe. The loudest voices….were they the truest voices? Noticeably, every time you tore away from someone there were pieces of them, stuck on your hand, and that, combined with the scabs and scars made it harder each time to stick with someone else. Until finally, you met that person, the one with whom you saw your future. You each looked down at your hands, and the mangled mess they had become, and despaired. There on your hands was the evidence that nothing is permanent. There on your hands were memories of bad choices. There on your hands was very little glue left. Now what?
Adolescents today have been lied to. Deceived. Confused. And my heart breaks for them.
I wonder if anyone remembers being a teenager. I do. I once had a conversation with an important adult in my life. It went like this:
Adult: Don’t have sex until you are married, but if you do, please use protection
Me: blank stare

What did I hear? “Use protection.” That’s it. What did I conclude? I concluded that this person was ok with me having sex as long as I used protection. The end.

Let’s take a minute and see how this “be safe” logic sounds with other high risk activities.
“Don’t get in the car with strangers, but if you really want to, take my cellphone, so you can call me. It’s safer”
“Don’t jump in the shark infested waters, but if you do!! Please take a spear gun with you! It’s safer”
“Don’t ever commit suicide, but if you want to, here is a gun, it’s safer.”
“Don’t eat 5000 calories a day, but if you are going to, just throw up! Then you won’t gain weight! It’s safer. After all, I don’t expect anyone to be able to control their appetite.”
“Husband, please don’t cheat on me, but here is some money for a hotel room in case you choose to, It’s safer than a back alley”
All of these examples sound just as crazy as the mixed messages we are being fed my the world regarding sex. In my case, despite my confusing conversation as a teen, I waited. Why? Because that confused voice was only the minority voice in my life. Because I had a Sicilian/Polish mother who asked me embarrassing questions every time I came home from a date, and prayed for me the entire time I was on the date!  Because there was no “either or.” Because I grew up in an intact home, with regular church attendance, involvement in youth group, and friends that had the same goals. 
Let’s be clear. There is nothing safe or free about sex outside of marriage as intended by God. Nothing.
However, the story of broken hearts and defiled bodies doesn’t end there. There is good news. And it is this. The same God that healed the lepers, can heal a leprous heart. He makes all things new. And restores the years that the locusts have taken. He can do miracles. This is true.
This does not mean, however, that we are to test Him, or sin more because grace abounds. Because although the wounds heal, every act of disobedience has consequences. And contrary to what the world is preaching…The highest cost and consequence of “free sex” is not the possibility of a child, or even an STD. Believing that lietrivializes the act of disobedience to the very God of the universe. There should never be a time where we, as Christians, make disobeying God more user friendly. So what then is the highest consequence of sexual immorality? It is broken fellowship with God. It is forever uniting your soul with another soul with whom you do not have a God ordained covenant. Sex outside of marriage has emotional, spiritual, and physical consequences. Lowering the likelihood of a one or two of the myriad of consequences and hailing it a success is clearly a deception that we must dispute with the truth of God’s word and the word of our testimony.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2.Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3.Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? .Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

12.Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13.And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14.For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Psalms 11- This is a test.

 

Psalms? Huh? I thought we were studying Samuel?  Let me explain. I am going through the Bible chronologically. For instance, although I am only in Samuel, I have already read through Job because while Job is after Samuel in the Bible, he lived before him on the timeline. Now since many of the Psalms were written by David, we will find ourselves taking a break from Samuel occasionally as we jump into Psalms.

Psalm 11 

11 In the Lord I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?
For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?

The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.
The Lord tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
Upon the wicked He will rain coals;
Fire and brimstone and a burning wind
Shall be the portion of their cup.

For the Lord is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright.
David is feeling attacked and frightened, and he acknowledges that. Yet he reminds himself of the God he serves, and he perseveres in faith.
  
Verse 5 says “The Lord tests the righteous.”
But what is this testing for? What is the point? God already knows our every thought, so why does he need to test us? 
When I was a math teacher in public school, there are so many phrases, and comments that you hear all the time. I have talked about one of these before being “The book is wrong.”
Another one I heard all the time either from students or from the parents was “I/he/she really understood the homework, but really didn’t understand the test. ” Now, of course there are exceptions and poorly written tests, but for the most part, what this means is, you were actually doing it wrong the whole time you thought you understood it, but never knew it. What a horrible waste of time. Right? 

 That is why we need tests.  This same scenario  happens outside the classroom all the time! People say things like “I was really a patient person until I had kids.” Or “I never used get angry until so and so came into my life.” But the reality is that the anger, the impatience, all of those negative character traits that show up may only show up when we are pushed to our limit,(tested) but (and this is the important part) they wouldn’t show up at all  if they weren’t there to begin with. Pastor Bob always says that when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, toothpaste comes out! Or if you bump into someone holding a full cup, whatever is in there is going to come out. 

After handing back tests to my students, whether years ago as a school teacher, or now, as a home school mom, I always give them a chance to make corrections for partial credit. The reason for that is that taking a test gives us an opportunity to evaluate our response and our reaction. That is where such true learning can take place. So what happened when I gave them that opportunity? Well,  I had students that would toss their test in the trash, and blame me, or their basketball game, or their parents, or lack of parents. But…. I also had students that would stay after class, spend time with me, and listen once again to hear my way of solving the problem, and leave satisfied. They would leave changed.  Through it all, I made a surprising discovery. Quite often, the students that got it wrong, but came back for help, ended up understanding the problem even  better then those that had gotten it right the first time around. Now that’ll preach!

When we are going through a test, or have gone through one, and feel like we  have bombed it, we have that same choice to make. Are we going to play the blame game thinking about who we can blame for our reaction? Or instead, will we draw close to the One who has all the answers, and allow Him to walk us through, as He gently corrects us because He loves us.

I pray that as we start this new year, instead of crumbling up 2013 and tossing it in the trash, we would instead take it to Jesus, and spend time with Him, letting him change our hearts and teach us His ways, which are higher than our ways, as He molds us into who He has planned for us to be in 2014! Amen!