Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 10 May 18:
1. 1 Samuel 21 — David deceived Ahimelech, and it would later cost the priest his life. David did not have to lie to the Priest. We must be very careful to be transparent in all of our dealings and consider how our actions might impact others. Most of us are far more deceptive, day-to-day, than we realize. Living honestly and transparently can be very difficult at first, but it becomes liberating, and it places you in the fast lane for growth.
2. 1 Samuel 21:7, 22:18, 19 — The Chief of Saul’s herdsmen was an Edomite. There are more Bible passages pronouncing judgment on the Edomites than on any other nation. Only the Edomite was willing to slaughter the priests upon Saul’s command. Saul turned to the ungodly to do what the godly wouldn’t on His behalf.
3. 1 Samuel 22:2 — “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” This is a great verse on leadership. David turned outcasts and losers into mighty men. Leaders bring out the best in people.
4. 1 Samuel 22:8 – “…all of you have conspired against me… No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day.” Saul was a narcissist who was full of self-pity and thought everyone was out to get him. Self-centered people tend to define reality on their own terms to justify themselves. They are usually complaining through the process and blame everyone else for their problems.
5. 1 Samuel 22:13-15 — In pursuit of faithful David, Saul accused everyone else of infidelity and conspiring against him. Guilty people often project their own sins upon others – liars call other people liars, racists accuse others as being racists, etc.
6. 1 Samuel 22:18, 19 — Godless people have no respect for the things of God and show no mercy. God does not always save His people from persecution, but He always brings out a greater good in every situation for those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
7. 1 Samuel 22:20 – “But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David.” God preserves a witness to continue His work and His ways. This is reminiscent of what happened with Gideon’s sons.
8. 1 Samuel 22:22, 23 – “I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” David took the blame for the slaughter of the priests. David took responsibility for his actions and errors, not in the world’s way where you say you’re sorry and then walk away from the consequences, rather by owning up to the consequences and seeking reconciliation and restitution (as the Bible commands). David personally and publically took responsibility for Abiathar’s welfare. How many others would have placed the blame on Saul or Doeg and simply walked away? True leaders take responsibly for their actions. Unfortunately, David will show us later what happens when leaders don’t.
9. Proverbs 10:3 – “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” God will bless your obedience but not your disobedience.
10. Proverbs 10:4 — God expects you to work hard.
11. Proverbs 10:4 — “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs mostly provides principles, fundamental truths, rather than tactics or specifics on what to do in a given situation. With experience and with the leading of the Holy Spirit, we learn to apply the principles to our daily lives. One of my favorite Bible principles is the “Principle of the Farm”: success in life comes from regular disciplined, daily effort. A farmer cannot expect to reap a bumper crop by being lazy for three months and then “cramming” to catch up. Similarly, the greatest successes in life are built slowly and deliberately through focused, consistent, high-quality efforts on a daily basis. Success is built upon the most basic building block of time — the day. Success comes not from sudden, sporadic bursts of activity but through the cumulative effect of disciplined, daily effort. Today, it seems like many people want instant wealth, wisdom, health, and success. They want the rewards of life, but don’t really want to put forth the effort and creativity it actually takes to become successful. But the Bible will tell you that there are no shortcuts in life. The Principle of the Farm applies to our spiritual growth as well. For a time, Christians wore WWJD (What would Jesus Do) bracelets with good intentions, but this Christian fad too often reflected a “get rich quick” spiritual mentality that set many Christians up for failure and disappointment. The idea was, when a situation arose, the bracelet would remind the Christian to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”, and then the Christian, having been reminded, would then follow Jesus’ example in the situation. However, more often than not, when the Christian failed to do what Jesus would have done, they would only walk away disappointed and frustrated. What happened? Well, in part, they didn’t consider closely enough what Jesus actually did – he spent a lifetime in diligent study, prayer, and obedient application preparing for the moment – countless hours with early mornings and late nights, sitting at the feet of elders, memorizing Scriptures, praying, observing the world from God’s perspective, getting out and about walking with God, meditating (the Biblical way, not the Buddha way). As Gen Mattis said when asked how he knew what to do in a critical situation during Operation Enduring Freedom, “I spent 33 years preparing for that decision which took me 30 seconds to make.” Why is it that successful people are so decisive, able to make rapid and sound decisions? Because they come to the point of decision fully prepared. We, with good intentions, because of shallow teaching, can dress the part of a Christian but fail to behave like a Christian. I can learn to act just like a professional football player and buy all the gear; I can talk and walk like a professional football player, and I can hang out with professional football players, but that doesn’t make me ready for the Super Bowl. In my spiritual life, If I want to even earn a place on the bench, I have to train. I have to do the work of a true disciple. I have to study, pray, meditate, memorize, rehearse, practice, and get dirty through daily application. Discipleship is the watering hole where God selects His “Gideon’s army.” Today’s Proverbs readings say, “The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin. Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life (Proverbs 10:16, 17).” The payment for the righteous comes through daily diligence and discipline, heeding instruction (that comes from the Bible) while on the “path to life,” a journey that takes time. It is many inglorious days that leads to glorious moments. Take time this morning to consider what Jesus actually did to be ready for Satan’s temptations in the desert, the challenges of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the woman at the well, the beggars, the adulterous woman, Pontius Pilate, the cross. What Would Jesus Do with each quiet morning and night when no one was around? Are you willing to do the work of a true disciple?
12. Proverbs 10:5 – “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” You will either face the daily pain of personal discipline or the ultimate pain of regret. At the moment of need, you cannot make up for what you didn’t invest in. You must build up over time for the inevitable “rainy day” whether it be in finances, health, relationships, etc.
13. Proverbs 10:7 – “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” You will be remembered for your character more than for your talent, personality, wealth, intelligence, or personal achievements.
14. Proverbs 10:12 — “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” A loving person covers over offenses and promotes reconciliation and unity. Do you love? Then let go of that issue and focus on fixing the relationship.
15. Proverbs 10:25-30 — Life is hard for everyone, but the Lord sustains His faithful people.
16. Proverbs 10:19-21, 31, 32 — Everyone has something to say, but very few are worth listening to.
17. 1 Corinthians 6: 1, 4, 5, 7 — “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints…? So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame…. To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” Christians are not to take disputes between one another to the secular court system – this is shameful and defeats our witness before the world. It is better to suffer wrong and be defrauded than to defame the Church and the Name of Christ with public, worldly disputes. Matters between Christians are to be settled within the church by church leadership; but how often have you seen Christians actually adhere to this teaching? Today we even see entire church denominations suing each other in public, secular courts, surrendering their authority as “Priests” to unbelievers. And how often do we see Christians going to secular counselors to solve their problems instead of church leaders? What does this say about the condition of the church?
18. 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 – Once again, disputes between Christians should be handled within the church. If two people can’t resolve a problem, they are already displaying spiritual immaturity.
19. 1 Corinthians 6:7 — “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” Love often demands that you accept unfair treatment without defending your rights.
20. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 — “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The saved Christian will still sin through the sanctification process but will not be inclined to sin or controlled by their former habits of sin.
21. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 — It is unthinkable that a Christian indwelt with the Holy Spirit would commit adultery, homosexuality or any other sexual abomination. We are called not to just avoid sexual immorality but to “flee” from it.
22. 1 Corinthians 6:18 — “Flee from sexual immorality.” Sexual sin is considered especially egregious and is greatly condemned, in stark contrast to the world’s complacency.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 May: Settle personal disputes in private, and be willing to accept a wrong in order to keep the peace and to preserve dignity rather than allowing strife to hinder your witness. Forgive, particularly when it is undeserved. Keep the peace with those who mistreat you. Respond to badness with goodness; respond to curses with blessings; respond to hostility with graciousness. Do this with thanksgiving as an act of worship to God. (1 Cor 6:7) Also, give freely to those in need from the bounty of your blessings from God. Trust God enough to give without worry about your future provision. Reference from today’s readings: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Pro 11:24, 25)