After the feast was over, Samuel took Saul to the rooftop where he had already prepared a bed for him. Saul still did not know what all the fuss was about. (Last time we learned that God had picked Saul as the first king of Israel)
The next morning, Samuel woke up Saul and his servant. Samuel sent the servant on his way and he brought Saul to a house at the edge of town. Then Samuel took out a flask of oil. He poured it over Saul’s head. I’m sure Saul was till wondering what was going on. He just came to this town looking for his lost donkeys!
As Samuel as anointing Saul with oil, he said. “ I have received a special message for you from God. He has appointed you as leader over the people of Israel! Now be on your way and return tomorrow for the big announcement to all the people.”
So Saul went home. The next day Samuel called all the Israelites together to introduce them to their first king ever. Samuel made a long speech about how God didn’t really want the people to have a king. And that God was their king, but God gave the people what they wanted. Finally the time came to announce Saul as the new king, but he was nowhere to be found. God told Samuel where to find Saul and he brought him out and said. “This is Saul! Son of Kish! God has chosen him and in all Israel there is no equal!”
All the people shouted. “Long live the king!”
Samuel stood next to Saul and read all the duties of the king from a long scroll. Saul was a very tall handsome man. He stood head and shoulders above everyone in Israel. The people agreed that God had picked the right man as their king. (Whether the people agreed or not, God always chooses right)
When Samuel was finished reading, he sent the people home. Saul went home too. He was still not too sure about this whole king thing. He went back to working in his fields. Many people brought him gifts and encouraged him, but of course there were a few wicked men who complained about Saul as king.
About a month later, the king of Ammon led his army against the Israelite city of Jabesh-gilead. The people surrendered to the king and offered themselves as his servants. The king said that he would return in seven day to not only take them as servants, but he said that he would gouge out every single Israelite’s right eye too!
When the word about the king’s threat reached Saul’s hometown, everyone began to cry. Saul finished plowing his field and went into town. “Why is everyone crying?” He asked.
The messenger from Jabesh-gilead filled Saul in on all the details. Then the Holy Spirit came upon Saul and he knew what he needed to do. (In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would come upon people as God saw fit. Now, because of Jesus, we can have the Holy Spirit living inside us, if we believe that Jesus died for us and we follow Him.)
Saul went around Israel and gathered 330,000 men. They launched a surprise attack on the Ammonites and defeated them completely.The people hailed Saul as king.
Samuel said. “OK now lets go reaffirm Saul as king.” So in a solemn ceremony, Saul was crowned king of Israel. The people of Israel rejoiced because they had a brave and strong king.
Samuel then made his final speech as judge over Israel. “ Now you have your king. My work as judge is done, but I will never stop praying for you, teaching you or giving you godly advice. I will continue as God’s prophet. Even though you rejected God as your king, He has given you a brave and strong king. Just remember to look to the Lord for your help and remember all the wonderful things He has done for you.”
Isn’t it amazing that even though the people rejected God as their king, he didn’t punish them. That is called mercy. Then on top of it, God picked out the best man for the job and empowered him with the Holy Spirit. That is called Grace.
Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve to go to heaven because of our sin. God sparing us is mercy. God sent Jesus as our savior to die for us and the Holy Spirit to live in us. That is Grace. Isn’t that amazing! Amazing Grace!
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Samuel was hurt. He went to God and told Him what the people were saying.
“Don’t take it personally Samuel.” God said. “It is not you and your sons that the people are rejecting. It is me. Ever since I brought them out of Egypt, they have continually rejected me and followed other gods.” (Jesus said the same thing in John 15:18)
God continued. "First warn the people about what will happen when they have a king. Tell them: A king will draft your sons into the army. A king will make some of your sons slave laborers. A king will take your daughters and force them to cook and clean for him. A king will take away your best fields and have them harvested as his own. A king will take your best cattle and keep them in the royal stable for him and his officials. Then you will beg to go back to the old way, but it will be too late.”
So Samuel brought God’s message to the people. He warned them about how a king would treat them. Guess what the people said? They said, “We don’t care! We still want a king like all the other countries around us!” They wanted to be like everyone else, even if it wasn’t best for them!
Have you ever tried to be like everyone else? Sometimes it seems easier to just go along with the crowd, even if we know it is not what God wants. Do you know what God wants for you? He wants the best for you. When God says, “Don’t.” He is saying, “Don’t hurt yourself.” God loves you. He made you different from everyone else for a reason. Be who God made you to be.
Well, the Israelites made up their mind so God told Samuel that he would pick out a king for them. He told Samuel to prepare a feast and invite the top 30 officials in Israel. He also told Samuel to save the best piece of meat for the king. So Samuel invited 30 of the top officials and had a feast prepared. Wow! Samuel had faith! He would have looked pretty stupid if he threw a party for the new king and the king didn’t show up! But God was already working behind the scenes.
Did you know that God is working behind the scenes in our lives right now? When we talk to Him today, we should thank Him for all the things that He does in our lives that we don’t even know about.
A few miles away their was a rich man named Kish. He had a very handsome son named Saul. Saul was not only handsome but he was also tall. He stood head and shoulders above everyone else. Kish called to his son. “Saul, some of the donkeys have run off! Take one of the servants with you and see if you can find them and bring them back. So Saul and the servant headed toward the hill country. They searched everywhere and couldn’t find the donkeys.
“I think we better head back home.” Saul said. “The donkeys are nowhere to be found.”
“Wait!” Said the servant. “See that town just over the next hill? There is a prophet named Samuel that lives there. Maybe he can direct us to the donkeys.”
So they headed toward the town. When they arrived at the gate, Samuel was waiting. Saul asked where he could find the prophet Samuel.
“I am he.” Said Samuel. “Come with me and don’t worry about the donkeys. They have been found.”
Samuel led Saul to the head of the table at the banquet and brought out the best piece of meat for him. Saul was very confused. He just wanted to find his donkeys and now he was the guest of honor at some feast.
Sometimes we think that things are not going well, like Saul when he couldn’t find his donkeys. But sometimes God is leading us right where He wants us. Sometimes He is protecting us from something. Sometimes He is preparing us for something and sometimes he is teaching us something. But through it all, He is always drawing us nearer to Him.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
When we left off, Eli had just fallen backward off his chair when he received news that his 2 sons had died in battle and the the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord had been taken by the Philistines. Samuel had warned Eli about this years earlier.
So now the Philistines had The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. They took it back with them to the town of Ashdod and put it in the temple next to their god, Dagon. Over night, a strange thing happened. The stone god, Dagon, had fallen face down in front of The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. The men all gathered and hoisted Dagon back up. The next morning, when the diviners showed up, Dagon had fallen again before The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, but this time, his arms were broken off and His head was in the doorway of the temple. The diviners were shocked! The called the leaders of Ashdod and said, “We have to get rid of the Ark! Not only had Dagon been damaged, but the people of the town are all getting sick!”
The leaders agreed. “Let us send the Ark to the city of Gath.” They said. And so they did. Pretty soon all the people of Gath were getting sick and there were frogs everywhere! The citizens of Gath thought that they should get rid of the Ark and sent it to the city of Ekron. The people of Ekron had already heard about what happened in Ashdod and Gath, so when they saw the ark coming over the hill to their city, they cried, “No! we don’t want the Ark!” But even before the Ark had reached their city, the people had already begun to get sick and the plague of frogs had started.
The Ark had been moved to five cities in all. The Ark remained in the Philistine territory for a total of seven months. The diviners and the leaders of all the cities got together. “What are we going to do about the Ark?” they asked. “Should we send it back to the Israelites? And if we do, How?”
“Yes, the Ark must be returned immediately along with a guilt offering of gold.” They were told. "Take two cows that had never been hitched to a cart. Put them in the middle of a field with a cart hitched to them and the Ark along with the offering in the cart. If the cows begin to head toward the Israelite territory, we will know that it is because of their God. If not, then all these diseases and frogs were just a coincidence.”
So these instructions were carried out and sure enough, the cows went strait toward Beth-shemesh (an Israelite territory) Some of the Philistines followed the cows until they reach the border of Beth-shemesh.
Then Samuel called all the Israelites together. “Ok, now if all of you are serious about returning to the Lord, make up your minds to obey Him and get rid of all your idols. Then He will protect you and rescue you from the Philistines.”
So the people made the decision to obey God and eliminate the idols in their lives. Then they fasted and confessed that they had sinned. Samuel sent out a message for everyone to come to the city of Mizpah. There they prayed and offered sacrifices to the Lord. The Philistines heard that all the Israelites were in one place so they decided to attack. When the Israelites saw the Philistines coming over the hill they cried out to Samuel. “Plead with the Lord to save us!”
Samuel prayed. A loud voice came from heaven and confused the Philistine army. They were defeated that day and The Israelites lived in peace for the rest of Samuels life.
We can learn a few things from this chapter in the Israelites history.
(1) God does not want us to put anything before Him. These are called idols. Just like the Philistines had their cement god named Dagon, the Israelites had other things that they had put in place of God. We do it as well. Do you ever think about praying, or reading the Bible, then decide to do it later because you wanted to watch TV, play a game or do some stuff on the computer? That is an idol. The first commandment says that we should not put anything before God.
(2) When Samuel called the people to return to God he had them do some things.
(a) Make a decision to obey God and put Him first in everything.
(b) confess that they had sinned.
If we feel that we are far from God, it could be that we have sinned by putting God second. Confess that sin and turn from the sin and toward God in obedience. This is called repentance.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
"As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything he said
was wise and helpful. All the people of Israel, from one end to the
other, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.
The Lord continued to give messages to Samuel and Samuel’s
words went out to all the people of Israel.” (1Samuel 3: 19-21)
Remember the Philistines from the story of Samson? They were still at war with the Israelites. During one of the battles four thousand Israelites were killed. When they returned to the camp they began to cry to each other, “How could God let this happen to us! Why didn’t God do something?”
Just the fact that they were crying to each other and not crying out to God showed that their hearts were in the wrong place. We do that sometimes, don’t we? We complain to each other about how things are going. We say things like “Why now?” or “Why me?” and “If only!” God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to come to Him. It’s OK to cry out to God.
Well the Israelites had a great idea. “Let’s carry the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord into battle. We will surely be victorious with it!”
Do you remember the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord? Moses had the people build it as they were wandering in the desert on the way to the promise land. It was like a portable temple that they could carry with them. (Exodus 25:10-31)
They sent for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into camp. Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were priests, so they helped carry the Ark of the Covenant into camp and then into battle the next day. The Philistines heard a large cheer coming from the Israelite camp and found out that it was because of the Ark of the Covenant. They became very afraid because they remembered hearing about how God had helped the Israelites at the Red Sea and Jericho when the walls came down. “We must fight harder than we have ever fought before.” The Philistine General shouted as they charged into battle.
God is not a good luck charm. Just because we wear a cross around our neck or have a picture of Jesus hanging on our wall, doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out. As a matter of fact, if we trust in out crosses and pictures, they become idols! Isn’t that unbelievable? A picture of Jesus could be an idol? But it’s true. Some people even put their trust in their prayers instead of the One that they are praying to. God wants us to trust in Him.
During the battle, Eli had put a chair just outside the city gate so he could get the news about the battle a soon as possible. He was very old now and could hardly see. Finally one of the messengers came running from the battle with news.
“What happened?” Eli asked.
The messenger answered. "The Israelites were beaten badly. We lost over thirty thousand men. I’m sorry to tell you this Eli, but your two sons were killed. And on top of it all, the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord!”
When Eli heard this, he threw himself back in his chair. It fell backwards and Eli broke his neck and died. Thus fulfilling what God had told Samuel years earlier.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
During the story of Ruth and Naomi, there was a lot going on with the Israelites. They were still battling the Philistines. Remember Samson had killed 3,000 Philistines during a celebration? The Israelites were also grumbling about how all the other countries had a king.... but they didn’t. They really had the best king of all, God, but they didn’t see it that way. So God gave them a king. He had a great prophet named Samuel anoint a king even though God knew that it was not the best thing for them.
So let’s go back a few years to when Samuel was born.
Hannah was a young Israelite woman who did not have any children. Some of the other women would tease her so much, that she would be driven to tears. One day she was very distraught. She went to the temple and prayed. She prayed that if God would give a son, she would dedicate the child and give him back to Him. She prayed with such emotion, that the priest, Eli, went up to her and said. “Excuse me, but if you have been drinking, I must ask you to leave the temple.”
“No!” Said Hannah. “ I am not drunk. I am praying to God for a son.”
Then Eli said. “God has heard your prayer. May He grant you your request!”
“Thank you!” Hanna said as she ran back home with a smile on her face.
Soon afterward Hanna found out that she was having a baby and when the time came she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel which means “heard by God.” She kept her promise to God and when Samuel was a few years old, Hanna brought him to the temple.
Hanna took the child to Eli. “Do you remember me?” She asked. “I promised God to give my child back to Him. He will now belong to the Lord for the rest of his life.” And she left Samuel there with Eli.
God hears our prayers. If our requests are in line with God’s will, He will give us what we ask. (Psalm 37:4)
Every year Hanna would make Samuel a new coat and bring it to him in the temple. Eli would bless her and tell her that he hoped the Lord would bless her with other children, and God did. Hanna ended up having 3 more sons and 2 daughters. God is willing and able to give us more than we ask or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
Samuel served the Lord with all his heart even though Eli’s sons (Hophni and Phinehas) who were older than Samuel did not. They would steal from the temple. They would treat the servants badly and they did not respect their father. They got fat from feasting on all the best offerings that were supposed to be sacrificed to God.
One night while Samuel, Eli and his two sons were sleeping, Samuel heard a voice. “Samuel Samuel!”
Samuel jumped out of bed and ran to Eli. “Yes? What do you need?”
Eli woke up and told Samuel to go back to bed. It was nothing. Then Samuel heard the voice again. “Samuel Samuel!” He jumped up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. What do you need?” Samuel asked.
I didn’t say anything. Go back to bed. It happened again and the Eli realized that God was calling Samuel. He told Samuel to stay in bed and the next time the Lord called to say. “Yes Lord. Here I am. Your servant is listening.” And that’s just what Samuel did.
The Lord spoke to Samuel. “I have warned Eli about his sons already. He hasn’t done anything, so now I have to do something.”
The next morning Eli asked Samuel what God had said to him. Samuel did not want to tell him, but Eli insisted. So Samuel told him that he and his sons were going to die in the very near future. Eli told Samuel that God was right. He had warned him, but Eli didn’t want his sons to get mad at him, so he let them get away with a lot of stuff. Now God was not going to let them get away with it any more. “Let the Lord do what He thinks is best.” Eli said as he hung his head in sadness and shame.
God has put our parents in charge. Sometimes we think that they are being mean or uncaring, but they want the best for us. We need boundaries now so that we won’t be punished later. (Galatians 6:7)
Thursday, April 17, 2014
As Ruth was collecting the grain that was left behind, the owner of the field stopped by. His name was Boaz and he just so happened to be a relative of Ruth’s father-in-law who was killed years earlier. He noticed Ruth in the field because she was pretty and also because she was a hard worker.
As children of God, we should be noticed as doing the best we can at everything we do. (Col 3:23)
Boaz went over to where Ruth was working and said, “Stay in this field to gather grain. Don’t go to any other fields because they are dangerous. I have told my men not to bother you. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water that they have drawn from the well.”
Ruth fell at Boaz’ feet and thanked him for being so kind to her, even though she was a foreigner in the land. Boaz told Ruth that he heard all about how kind she had been to Naomi.
As children of God, our deeds to others should go before us. So that they glorify Him. (1 Peter 2:12)
At lunchtime Boaz called her over to eat with the harvesters. He gave her so much food that she couldn’t eat it all, so she brought the leftovers home to Naomi along with a lot of grain that she had picked up in the fields. The reason she had so much grain was because Boaz had ordered his men to leave more grain than usual behind so that Ruth would have plenty to take home.
When Ruth returned home, Naomi was amazed at all the grain she had gathered. “How were you able to gather so much grain? What field did you work in?” She asked.
“ I worked in the field of a man named Boaz.” Ruth answered. “He was so kind to me.”
“Boaz!” Naomi exclaimed. “He is a cousin to my husband. He is our relative! God bless him!”
Ruth continued to work in Boaz’ field day after day until the harvest was complete.
So Boaz waited for this certain relative by the city gates. When the relative came by, Boaz called him over to sit with him. Then he called ten leaders over as witnesses. “So, I’m sure you know that Naomi has returned to Bethlehem. She has to sell the land that her husband had, or she will lose it. You have first dibs on the property if you want it.” Boaz explained.
“Yes, I do want it.” The relative proclaimed. “When can I purchase it?”
“Not so fast.” Boaz interjected. “ There are a few things you should know. You also must marry the woman from Moab, Ruth. And you must have a place for Naomi as well.”
“Whoa, wait a minute! I would risk losing my own estate. I cannot redeem it.You redeem it Boaz.” The man said.
Boaz then said to all the witnesses. “ You have heard it. I am buying Naomi’s land and I will be marrying Ruth, the Moabite widow so that when she has a son, the land will remain in her family.” And that is what he did. Boaz and Ruth are ancestors to Jesus. What a blessing!
So what is this whole redeemer thing anyway? When a person is too “poor" to take care of his or her property. It must be sold. The nearest relative has an opportunity to purchase the land if they want. By doing this, the redeemer saves the “poor” land owner from a possible life of slavery. To redeem means to pay a price and free the owner of any obligation. That is what Boaz did for Naomi and Ruth. And that is what Jesus did for us! What a great time of the year to be studying this story! The Easter message is all about Jesus and what He has done for us! Jesus has redeemed us because we are too “poor” to redeem ourselves. His blood payed the price for our sin. (A price we could never pay) He was fully man and fully God, so He is our relative. He has saved us from a life of slavery. He has bought us with a price.
Have a blessed Easter everyone!!
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, ( Ruth and Orpah) had lost their husbands. Naomi heard that her home town of Bethlehem had been blessed with good weather and now had plenty of crops for food. So Ruth and Orpah began to make the journey with her back to Bethlehem.
On the way Ruth said, “ I think that it would be best for you to go back to your mothers’ home instead of coming with me. May God bless you with another husband because of the kindness that you have shown me.” Then she kissed them good-bye and all three women began to cry.
Ruth and Orpah both said, “No. We want to go with you to your people.”
"But your family is in Moab. Your friends and your future are there as well.” Naomi said. "I can’t have any more sons for you to marry, and even if I could, it would be many years before they would be old enough to marry you.” (It was the custom for widows to marry the brothers of their dead husbands. That is why Naomi said this). "I am old and bitter.” Naomi continued. "You are still young and have a chance for a bright future. God has caused me to suffer and I have no future.” Naomi kissed them good-bye again, and they all cried again.
Then Orpah went on her way back to Moab. But Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi. “See, Orpah has gone back to her people, you should do the same.” Naomi told Ruth.
But Ruth replied. “ Please do not ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go. I will live wherever you live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. May God punish me if I let anything besides death separate us.”
Well after a speech like that, what could Naomi say? Naomi and Ruth headed down the road together. When they finally made it to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirring. “Is it really Naomi? Has Naomi come back to us?’ The women asked.
"Don’t call me Naomi any more.” Naomi said. “ Call me Mara from now on because God has made me suffer so much, that I am now bitter.” (Mara means bitter. Naomi means pleasant) Naomi continued. “When I left here ten years ago, I was so full of life and hope. Now I have returned empty because God has caused such tragedy to fall on me. My husband and my two sons are dead. I am bitter.”
Naomi took Ruth to her home, which after ten years, needed a lot of work to get it back to living conditions. So they began to fixit up.
They had returned to Bethlehem right at the beginning of the first harvest season. So Ruth said that she was going to go into one of the nearby fields and pick up some of the grain that the harvesters had left behind. (This was a legal way of providing for the poor and it was called gleaning)
Naomi was a little nervous, because some of the men who worked in the fields were rough and tough, but she agreed. “ Go, but be careful my daughter!” So Ruth left to go gleaning. As it happened, she found herself working in the field of a man named Boaz. He was a relative of Naomi’s husband.
While Ruth was in the field working, Boaz showed up. “Good morning. God bless you!” he shouted to his men working in his field.
"God bless you!” The men replied.
Boaz went up to the lead harvester. “Who is that girl over there?” He asked as he pointed at Ruth.
"She is the young woman from Moab that came back with Naomi.” The foreman replied. “She has been working very hard all morning and only took a short break.”
When God allows bad things to happen to us, we can become better or bitter. Ruth became better. She reached out to Naomi, even though they were both hurting from the loss of their husbands. Ruth also demonstrated faith in God. Naomi became bitter. She became consumed with what happened to her. Being bitter causes us to think only of ourselves. The more we dwell on it, the more bitter we become.
So when something bad happens to you...... do you become better or bitter?