When Your Enemy Falls- 2 Samuel 1

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2 Samuel 1-

Almost a year ago I read about the prophet Samuel’s death and the Lord reminded me of the need to mourn. Samuel was a faithful prophet. He was a righteous man. His life was worthy of mourning. He had done so much to further the kingdom. Mourning seemed right.

After the death of Samuel, I have watched David struggle, fighting for his life, fighting for his crown, all throughout the next 6 chapters of 1 Samuel and many Psalms. And now in the first chapter of 2 Samuel another great man in David’s life dies.

His name was King Saul.

But Saul was different. Yes, he started out following the Lord, leading a mighty nation, walking in obedience to the law, but something evil got a hold of his heart. Pride. And pride certainly proceeded his fall. Saul turned into his own worst enemy and definitely David’s. As long as Saul was alive David had much to fear. Now that Saul was dead, how did David react?

He mourned the death of a man that sought to destroy him.

He tour His clothes and wept. He wrote a song lamenting the loss of a mighty leader.
And I am trying to soak in this lesson, but my heart doesn’t understand.

David, Saul tried to kill you. He betrayed you on every occasion. Finally, now that he is dead, your calling can be fulfilled! Why do you mourn? Why don’t you rejoice?

Except Saul wasn’t just an angry king, he was David’s father-in-law. He was his best friend’s dad. He was the first earthly king of Israel that David had admired for so long. And now he was gone. There was no hope for reconciliation. No hope for a happy ending. It was over. Such a tragedy. And David’s heart broke. Yes he had lost Jonathon, his kindred friend, his soul brother, his great defender, and he was mourning him too. But the reality that David mourned the loss of his enemy should not be quickly passed over.

The complexity of their relationship makes David’s behavior even more profound. He took some time to work through the pain. Writing music was David’s gift, given by the creator, in which he felt God’s pleasure, a way that He processed, recorded, and reviewed the story of his life unfolding. David took time to tend to his soul. He did what he was designed to do in order to work through the pain that we were not designed to experience. This was not the ending he dreamed of perhaps, but it was here, and he needed to figure it out.

When I first read this story, I admit, I related with David. I know a Saul. I have been hurt, let down, and betrayed., and the emotions are raw.

But as I meditate on this passage something occurs to me.

I am not David.
I am Saul.
You see, I too have impatiently disobeyed when I wanted things my way. I have been jealous of those succeeding where I fail. I have hurt those closest to me.
I have deserved censure, but instead received praise.
The truth is that when God the Father looks at me, He doesn’t recount my failings. In fact in Zephaniah 3:17 says that He sings over me!
He sings over me, like David sang over Saul. God looks at me and sees the righteousness of Christ and He loves me. Despite every mistake, every shortcoming, and every sinful choice. He sings over me.
And knowing this gives me the grace to forgive and to pray for healing in the lives of those that have hurt me. Amen!

The best Valentine you can give anyone and how it will change you both! Psalms 130

Last weekend our church held a marriage event. Some pastors and their wives shared stories from the pulpit, encouraged us with scripture, and answered questions. We went because marriage is important to us. And there is always room for improvement. But what happened there truly surprised me. You see.  I was really convicted. My heart was pierced. During the worship, with tears streaming down my face, I felt so repentant. I felt so sure. I needed to confess. Yet when the music faded, and they gave us a moment to look our loved one in the eyes and honestly admit sin, a strange thing happened. Nothing. Not one sound would come out of my mouth. It was awkward. I wanted to say something. Anything. But I couldn’t. And just like that the moment was over. I couldn’t believe how powerless I felt. The service continued. More stories were shared. More inspiring verses. More songs. More conviction. Lord, I prayed. Please. Help me say something because I don’t think I can. And sure enough- I couldn’t. As the service closed we walked to the front to pray for others, all the while wishing someone would pray for me. I know they would have. Gladly. But I couldn’t ask.
Days passed by and I wondered if I had missed the moment. Maybe I was over-reacting. I could just ignore my sin. My heart is in the right place, right? I’m a pretty good wife.
Until I did it again. Lost my temper. This time at my daughter for something she didn’t even do. And her face. It nearly broke my heart. I have to change. But I don’t know how. No time to think about it. Besides, everyone loses their cool. It’s just life. On to the next event.
But the next event was me sobbing in the kitchen. Crying over pictures of smiling Facebook faces, because their smiles- meant someone else’s heartache. A new romance budding while the ex is left reeling. God please. Make them see. Open their eyes. That.is.not.love. That.is.not.romance. Not in the slightest. Children left wondering, will their prayers be answered? Or will their dream of living with mommy and daddy die with a new wedding. 
I pull myself together. I pray for healing in broken families. All day.  Until it’s night. And I can’t go on one more second. 
“I have to tell you something.” I blurt out closing our bedroom door.
“I have something to confess.” These words seem dramatic. In fact, I would die a little inside if he said those words to me…again. Because they are terrifying words to hear.  Mostly because we don’t say them enough.
I assure him it’s nothing horrible, all the while knowing that it really is. Because sin is horrible. Every single one.
 With no more hesitation I laid my heart bear exposing my weakness, my sin, my failings, my bad choices, and he listened. 
There were no surprises. 
Maybe that’s what made it so hard.
He knows my sins. He is well acquainted with them. I pretend they don’t exist while he can’t escape them. My plank-eyed vision is skewed, staring always at the spec in his eye, as if I am his sanctification. I am not. 
No more excuses. No more finger pointing. It was time to own it. 
Even if he uses it against me in the future. 
Even if I am going to mess up again.
Even if he doesn’t believe me when I say I want to change. Because I don’t blame him. I kind of don’t believe me either. Yet I know that it has to be said. Confession must be made.  I know this because the Bible tells me so. Confess your sins so that you might be healed. And I want that with every fiber of my being. Healing. So it’s worth the risk of seeming insincere. 
And I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. 
“I thought I would stop sinning when I got saved. I just kept asking Jesus in my heart, thinking I  must not be saved because I can’t stop sinning” my daughter cries to me after messing up…again. And I get it. You almost don’t want to apologize one more time because it feels so fake. You know you are going to do it again. You’re almost sure of it. So why apologize? Why confess? Maybe just pretend it didn’t happen. But Then I open to my scheduled reading which takes me to Psalms 130. And I read this. 
Hope.
 
Psalm 130

Waiting for the Redemption of the Lord

A Song of Ascents.
130 Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.

And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
Confession. This is a gift. And I can’t think of one close relationship I have that wouldn’t benefit from it. A little raw, loving confession will abundantly bless any relationship you have, whether it is a friend, family member, spouse, child. Anyone. This one gift of love will heal relationships that don’t even seem inherently sick.
Open your heart. Wait for the Lord. Hope in Him, because with Him is abundant redemption.  Pray for strength to take that step. Confess your sins one to another and be healed!  I am healed. I know this. I saw it today. Time stood still today while my perfectionism, my controlling inclinations, my instinct to nag taunted me in the realest of moments. But I said nothing. I smiled and kissed my man on the lips. And kept walking. Just like that. 
Hope. And Redemption. Starting with confession. 
So I wait. I wait for the Lord, and in His word I do hope! 
I dare you to share this gift with someone and tell us how it goes in the comments- remembering that true confession doesn’t blame and expects nothing in return. You can do it!!

Trust me. A prayer for relief….Psalm 123-125

It’s January again. Which statistically speaking is like a month of Mondays. This is not me being negative. It’s science people. Many just get sad in January. For some it is sickness, for some it is bills, and for some it is just the everyday ups and downs of life. I am not immune from this affliction. And from the conversations I have been having with friends, you aren’t either.
My life line over the past few days, this piece of scripture that has been trying to infuse my soul is Psalms 123-125.

Psalm 123 Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens.
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes lookto the Lord our God,
Until He has mercy on us.

3 Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!
For we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
4 Our soul is exceedingly filled
With the scorn of those who are at ease,
With the contempt of the proud.

I lift my eyes to You! Until you have mercy on me. I wait.
Lord. Have mercy.
I am filled with contempt.

I want to be filled with you.
I will look to you. Until you have mercy. I will look to you. I will not stop. Relentless.
Because…….

The Lordthe Defense of His People

124 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
2 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
When men rose up against us,
3 Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
5 Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul.”

6 Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;[a]
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help
isin the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

If it had not have been for the Lord….Let Israel now say! If it had not been for the Lord who is ON OUR SIDE!!! Say it with me people, He is on our side!!
IF it had not been for Him, they would have swallowed us alive.

What is swallowing you alive right now?
Your job? Your health? Your relationships? Your commitments? Your schedule? Your failures?

If not for the Lord.

This tells us that the waters will NOT overwhelm us, the streams will NOT go over our soul. Because of the Lord.

Our snare is broken! We are FREE!
But sometimes it doesn’t feel like freedom. Sometimes it feels like frustration. Because we need chapter 125.

The Lord the Strength of His People

A Song of Ascents.

125 Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Trust. Those who TRUST in the Lord. They cannot be moved. They cannot be shaken. Trust. When you are truly trusting, frustration fades.
Because frustration comes from fear. Fear of pain, disappointment, misery, loneliness, ridicule, rejection, sickness, failure.
Fear.
What are you afraid of?
God is bigger than your fear. He promises that if we trust, we will not be shaken.
I have felt shaken today. And yesterday. Yet the Lord keeps reminding me, since I first laid eyes on this passage and have been chewing on it,
Trust Me. Trust Me.
Trust me with your time. Trust me with your responsibilities. Trust me with your schedule. Trust me with your planning. Trust me with your relationships. Trust me with your family. Trust me. With every piece of your day that didn’t go like you hoped it would go. Trust me and feel the freedom I have given you.
Walk in Faith. Not frustration.
I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.
Read over those three psalms again. Print them out. Pray them. Hear the Spirit say…
Trust me.
Trust. Me.
And you will not be shaken. You will be Free. You will not be overwhelmed.
And then 10 minutes later. Hear Him again. All day long. He wants us to trust Him. When you feel that frustration rising up in you, reflect. Hear Him again.
Close your eyes and hear Him say:
Trust Me. And remember that Lord surrounds His people. From this time forth and forever more.
Amen.

When you feel like you are losing your footing. Psalm 121

Psalm 121-A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Plodding along on this chronological Bible reading path, the next reading is one of my favorites, and probably one of yours too. There are countless songs and embroidered pillows that display these verses. They are that good. And today, for me, they are that relevant. You see we just got back from the mountains. And I can attest, that they are beautiful. And they are also terrifying. As my dear husband was taking those curves around Grandfather mountain, you better believe I could relate to David when he said “Where does my help come from?” Just kidding Babe, your driving was perfect 🙂 If he could chime in here, he would be quick to remind me that he has never driven into a mountain. And I, in all honesty, cannot say the same. But that is a topic for a different day. Where was I?
Mountains are terrifying. And breathtaking. All in one. We took a lovely (read: death defying)hike to see Linville Falls. The first stop is not high. It is dangerous, sure, but there are no 10 story drops.

 At the second stop, however, you could see the first stop, way down below. Now we were adding some height to our journey and those retainer walls? Were they building retainer walls for ants?? 😉 With 5 children 12 and under I couldn’t get off of that overlook fast enough. Take some pictures, GET AWAY FROM THE EDGE!! And let’s go!!

Of course we couldn’t stop there. We continued up the mountain. Then from the 3rd view you could see the other two views and now, well- those heights were nothing! Quickest picture ever. Please for the love of all that is good and right don’t go near that 1 foot tall retainer wall that is BEGGING you to bend over it and look down. Lord have mercy, that was terrifying! But breathtaking! Did I mention that?

Thinking on this passage, and remembering our hike, brought to mind that famous quote from C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when they were discussing Aslan, a type of Jesus.
Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
There is a common misconception floating around that we in the church likely had a hand in perpetuating, and it is this. If you follow God your life will get easier. Blessings will abound, prosperity will flow like the salmon of Capistrano, and life will be yours for the taking. Don’t get me wrong. There is truth in that premise. The problem comes in when we define blessings. When we look at the accounts in the Bible of those that followed God, most, like David, cried out for help at some point, if not most points. Their lives were not a walk in the park, and many had terrifying plot lines. Being fed to Lions, having your life and the lives of your people threatened, losing children, losing heads, being barren for 90 years, being swallowed by a great fish! No, following God is not safe. But it is good. He promises that He will never leave us. He will not slumber. He will not sleep. He watches us. He is watching our coming and going both now and forever more.
Lift your eyes to the hills.
What hill? Some say that David was talking about the hill of Zion. The mighty hill. Set your eyes on the things above. Let us throw off everything that hinders, run with perseverance, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is perfecting our faith. Through every mountain. Through every terrifying cliff. And He knows what it is like. Because for the joy set before him, He endured. He endured the cross, despising the shame. And now. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father where He is interceding for you and for me!
Back to my mountains…..
Being a passenger in a large SUV around those curves- it really was a challenge. I kept telling myself, Paul is a good driver. He has driven these mountains countless times. If I just close my eyes, I won’t be scared. And that would actually work. For a moment, until I started worrying, and needing to wrestle back some fake semblance of control. I need to watch, I thought, so I can tell him to slow down, or watch if he is getting to close to the edge. I need to control. Lord help me. Lord help us. Mountains can be terrifying or beautiful. Knowing what I know now—spoiler alert- we survived!! I wish I could go back and just enjoy the scenery more, release my white knuckled grasp of the door handle and stop nagging my poor husband. Because there is so much we cannot control. So much we cannot see. Like ANY of the future. I pray that we would release our grasp, our need to control. And trust. Trust that the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore! And truly it’s the forevermore that matters most! What do you need to release your grasp on?

Strength for the Season- Psalm 18

I will love You, O Lord,
The first time I read this verse I missed one simple word that changes everything.
Will.
I will love you.
That’s different.
Just this morning my sweet littlest child told me he loved me. In fact, he loved me super duper much. And my heart melted. Like it does every time.
I am not sure, however, that I would have had the same reaction if he would have said “Mommy, I will loveyou.”
You will? Like, when?
This whole passage is future. You will do this, and I will do this.
And that is so good. You may not feel it now. But take hope. God is going to deliver you, and you will love him.
my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
We all need supernatural strength. All of us. For different reasons. But none of us can do it on our own. If you think you are doing fine on your own, I guarantee you the people around you might beg to disagree. But this is the good news. He is our rock. Our strength. In whom I will trust. 
My God, my strength, when I blow it again.
My God, my strength, when my will is weak. 
My God, my strength, when the answer isn’t clear.
My God, my strength, when my doubts are overwhelming.
My God, my strength, in WHOM I WILL TRUST!

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the
Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Prayer.
The action is simple, but the result is profound.
I will be saved from my enemies.
We all have enemies. Can you think of any?
No, not your boss. Not your ex. Not your (fill in the blank.) Don’t be confused. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Sometimes we can feel like people are against us. But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood. This is the most exciting news. If we can remember that, we are so home free. The devil’s best offense is to set us against each other.  You see, we cannot change people. We try. We manipulate. We punish. We conspire to get people to change their offensive ways but all to no avail. Here is the good news though. Despite what you may have been told, you CAN change people. Namely, but not limited to, yourself. Prayer changes everything. And everyone. Can you change someone by nagging? Not likely. With passive aggressive behavior? Doubtful. On your knees with humbled prayers ? Oh yes! But be forewarned, if you truly spend time on your knees with a humbled heart, the person that will be changed the most is you!
So shall I be saved from my enemies? Yes, because oftentimes, our greatest enemy is our own self.
 
Ok, now read the next part slowly, and drink it in because it is so good. And it is all for YOU!!

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He isa shield to all who trust in Him.

31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who isa rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
36 You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.

The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
That portion needs no commentary, but it probably needs to be read again. Slowly.
FOR BY YOU, I can leap over a wall!!
THE WORD OF GOD IS PROVEN!!
HE IS A SHIELD TO ALL WHO TRUST HIM!
IT IS GOD WHO ARMS ME WITH STRENGTH!
Alright that’s it. This one is going on the wall. I just love it!! Who is God, except the Lord? Not me, that is for sure! His gentleness has made me great! Let Him enlighten your darkness!
This time, this season, although it brings great joy, for some, it actually brings great pain. My prayers are with you. My heart is holding you up. I bear these burdens with you and bring you before my God. I pray that you would feel His support, that you would feel His right hand holding you up, and that your feet would not slip. This is a great time of year to meditate on a verse that can hold you up and this passage is full of great ones. Choose one, write it down, hang it up and hold on to it.
The Word of God is proven!!  

And tell someone! Allow them to bear your burdens, share in your story, and be Jesus’ arms around you.
What verse do are you needing to meditate on? Tell us in the comments 🙂
My verse,hands down, is “My God My Strength.”  Because I blow it a lot. Like even moments after typing “Publish” on this blog. And I need to know that it is His strength, not mine. And He is proven! Amen!!

A Critical Critique of Criticism- I Samuel 31

So the craziest thing happened this week. I was being critical of my husband.
I wish I could say that was the unusual part, but sadly it was not. I’ll get to the crazy part in a minute.
But first, confession time.
More often than not, my problem solving, black and white, over analyzing brain comes in handy. However, on the “not” side I struggle with being critical. The strange thing is I am more critical of my own self than I am of anyone else. God is freeing me, little by little.
Being critical is obviously wrong. Except when it’s not so obvious. For instance, often times we may have good motives. Take my beloved, late, great-aunt. Truly, her motives were good. She legitimately wanted to help. But her methods could appear critical. Here’s an example. Just today my mom and I were remembering how I finally got braces. My teeth weren’t awful. They were mostly straight, but I had this one tooth that did not quite fit. One tooth. Of course that was enough for which the boys to tease me.
Sabe. Short for sabor, as in the tiger, with the teeth.
Nice nickname huh? I like to believe the teasing I received during those years taught me grace and compassion. But as a middle-schooler, it just really stunk. Anyway, my sweet, well intentioned aunt would ask me weekly if that tooth had settled in. After the 36th time, during my senior year, I finally smiled and said, “I think this is as good as it gets. But if you would like to sponsor some braces, I will gladly make an appointment.”
“Make the appointment.”she declared without hesitation. “ I’ll take care of it.” And that was it. I got braces.
Was she critical? Yes, but her motives were true, and she was willing to help.
So I guess I come by it honestly. Critiquing. It’s human nature. Monday morning quarter backs. Blogs criticizing any and everything. Editorials. It’s what we do. But it can kill any marriage, any relationship, or any church, and on the grand scale, make this bride of Christ look less than bridely.
And I was doing it.
Again.
“Lord,” I thought. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Knowing my strength comes from God’s word,  I decided  to grab my Bible.
What are the chances that in I Samuel 31, my next chapter, God would have a lesson for me? I remembered reading about being an armor bearer  earlier this year and wondered, would that concept be revisited.
A little discouraged, but mostly determined, I picked up my Bible and read. Tears in my eyes, and an overwhelming feeling of being loved in my heart, I could not believe what I was reading. How, over and over, does this keep happening? God’s word. My daily bread. Just what I need.
This is what I read. This is the crazy part.
 The Philistines fought against Israel, and Israel’s men fled from them. Many were killed on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons and killed his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. 3 When the battle intensified against Saul, the archers caught up with him and severely wounded him.[a] 4 Then Saul said to his ARMOUR_BEARER. “Draw your sword and run me through with it, or these uncircumcised men will come and run me through and torture me.” But his armor-bearer WOULD NOT DO IT ….
Saul had an armor-bearer. He was trained to do whatever Saul commanded. And in his moment of utter despair Saul asked his armor-bearer to take his life. But he couldn’t. In this moment,when it came to choosing between following orders, or preserving his master’s life, Saul’s armor-bearer chose the latter.
He would not and could not take part in destroying the man to whom he had committed to serve.
Even if it made sense. Even if his motives would have been right.
And this is the power of God’s Word. I started writing this a week ago and have been meditating on it ever since. If you only knew the number of times it has come to mind, how many times God reminded me of what I had read, and how many times these words stopped me in my tracks, well, it would be embarrassing.
But the point is not my weak nature, the point is the power of His Word to change.
It’s easy to say, “Don’t be critical.” But there is no power in my words. Thankfully, however, you don’t have to depend on my words. You have better than that. You have God’s word. And it does not return void.
The next time you are tempted to be critical of anyone, yourself included, take it to God first. What is the point of your criticism? To make yourself feel better? Going to God will solve that! Is it to “help” a person or situation? Going to God will solve that too!! Of course there is a time and a place to step into someones life and lovingly address an area that in so doing would bring them closer to God. But that never looks like harsh or angry criticism.
I want to be a true armor-bearer.
For my husband, my children, my friends and family. I pray that we would go to our knees when our reaction is critical. I pray that we would take our concerns, our burdens, our plans to Him first. And that we would go to God’s word which is active and living and sharper than any two edged sword. Always. And watch the light of the Lord dispel the darkness of sin every time.

Mama said there’d be days like these…. I Samuel 30

I Samuel 30-Friday, October 3
I have been having a week.  I am pretty sure you understand because I have seen you at the store, and you look as tired as me. And when I ask how you are doing, you tell me the truth. Life is not easy. There are many blessings. Many. And I try to squeeze the guts out of all of them. But in this world you will have troubles. That was a promise. From God made flesh. I don’t always ask God why. In fact, I hardly do. But today I did.
What is going on, Lord? What do you want me to do?
Oh, right. I know the answer to that one. It is the same answer He has graciously, lovingly, generously pointed me to over and over, especially this last year.
Go to the Word.
And I know. I know that an answer awaits.
So I open the next chapter. Chapter 30 and read this:
 David and his men arrived in Ziklag on the third day. The Amalekites had raided the Negev and attacked and burned down Ziklag. 2 They also had kidnapped the women and everyone in it from the youngest to the oldest. They had killed no one but had carried them off as they went on their way.
3 When David and his men arrived at the town, they found it burned down. Their wives, sons, and daughters had been kidnapped. 4 David and the troops with him wept loudly until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had also been kidnapped. 6 David was in a difficult position because the troops talked about stoning him, for they were all very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters.
That is a bad week. Awful. David was kicked out of Philistia into the fire.
Ready or not.
And just as he feared, everything was heading south.
Family? Gone.
Belongings? Gone.
Friends? Ready to stone him.
Yet how did he respond?
But David found strength in the Lord his God.
Yes. David. Of course you did. Of course I can. I don’t have to understand. I don’t have to agree. I don’t have to know how on earth I am going to do this. But I can stop. And find strength in the Lord. I can. I will. But how?
7 David said to Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David asked the Lord: “Should I pursue these raiders? Will I overtake them?”

The Lord replied to him, “Pursue them, for you will certainly overtake them and rescue the people.”

As I keep seeing this “Ephod” in scripture, I realized I didn’t quite understand the significance/symbolism and how it relates to us today. This is what I found out.

The Ephod was a garment the high priest put on before going to the altar.
David saying “Bring me the Ephod” is like me saying, “Someone go get my guitar!!!! We need to worship, people!”
More importantly, we know Christ is our great High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-6). The ephod is symbolic of Him. The colors point to His deity, the blood He shed, and His royalty.
When the priests put on their ephods, they were putting on Christ! And Jesus made the Way to the Father possible for all men. We can therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Here is where God blows my mind once again.
Three days earlier, I was distracted, annoyed, fighting bitterness in my heart. And I felt the Lord telling me to get my guitar. Fine. But I don’t know where any of my sheet music is, or my ipad. What am I going to play? Reluctantly, I grabbed my guitar off the hook on the wall and walked into my bedroom. And stood there. Staring. Waiting. And then. Just like that, a song started playing in my head. A Bible verse I had put to music months ago,playing clear as day in my head. You might recognize the words:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

I must have sang and played it ten times that night. My bitterness gone. My spirit lifted. My soul strengthened. In the Lord.
My mom is always right. “Turn on your praise music,” she says. “A garment of praise casts off a spirit of heaviness,” she says. And it turns out, she was right. 
Here is the song that was in my head so now it can be in yours! 🙂
 *****EDITED Saturday, October 4th TO ADD…..
 Jesus wasn’t done. Every once and a while I feel compelled to write. Sometimes I find out why, mostly I don’t. Last night was one of those nights when I.had.to.type.

 Worship. 

This was God’s word for me. He whispered to me in my spirit a week ago as He led me to sing a song in the privacy of my bedroom erasing anxiety, pain, and the sadness that can sometimes be contained in the everyday trials of life.  Then a few days ago He showed me through the life of David as he put on his Ephod, his garment of praise, strengthening his spirit and finding direction. I heard the words of my mom (yes moms, your words have life way beyond the moment) telling me that “Praise stills the avenger.”  So I wrote. I wrote to cement these lessons into my brain. I wrote to organize my thoughts, and I wrote to declare His glory, because He is so full of Glory. I marveled at how He had been weaving my circumstances together as He laid out this tapestry of grace before my eyes. I thought He was done. I loved my lesson. 

But today. 

Today was a memorial service for a very special lady. She lived out the Gospel in joy and with purpose. Her faith. Her faith was as limitless as her God. Her outer beauty was documented regularly all over the world, but it didn’t hold a candle to the beauty of Jesus love lived out in her. The light in her smile was lit with the power of the Holy Spirit, and every moment was a moment to shine for Christ. Even in her last months, weeks, and days, through years of incredible pain and suffering, there was one thing that every person who spoke of Ashleigh today referred to. 

Her love for worship.

 The intricacy of God’s design is sometimes easily missed. But not today. Today I marvel at the twists and turns. I take note of His awesome glory as He tells His story of redemption and Sovereignty.

 You see it was years ago that I heard Ashleigh teach a lesson I never forgot. She spoke on the power of a purposed devotional life. 
Every day she would pour into scripture and write down 3 things. 
1) God’s character displayed
2) An area in her life that needed to be molded in to that character trait
3) what she was going to do to be transformed into His image. An action plan.

 She shared countless stories of how God took those daily lessons and brought constant opportunities to minister to others through the power of his word. It was this small teaching that comes to mind every time I sit down at God’s feet to meditate on His word. Her faithful example has so impacted me and changed me through the cleaning power of Scripture.  Every devo blog I have written has been influenced by those powerful words I took to heart all those years ago. 

This can’t be missed.

All week God has been teaching me about the power of worship.

Sunday night He quietly led me to my guitar to show me in tangible way the power of worship in my own life. 

Wednesday-Friday He shows me in scripture the power of worship in David’s life.

Then today, He displays to me and hundreds with me, the power of worship in the life and death of one of his saints. But not just any life. The very woman who God used to influence the way I study the Bible, the way I just blogged about worship. 

The title of this blog, Apologista, exemplifies my goal for it. To persuade and prove to all the reality of Christ’s deity. However, I have come to understand that the real proof happens in our hearts when we watch Him move, and love, and orchestrate experiences that we could not have imagined. Yes, Ashleigh is in heaven now. Her healing took place there. But you could not speak with her for one moment without knowing that every day of her life was filled with miracles proclaiming the power of the gospel and as I learned today, the power of worship. 

I have seen God today in a manner I will never forget. I have experienced His presence in the most undeniable ways. I pray that you too will dig into His word. Look for His character. Watch Him radically change you and your world around you. And live a life of worship that could never be denied.