1 Samuel 4-8 (Part 1)

“Why did the Lord…? (1 Sam. 4:3)”

Unfortunately, we get like this also. We go out to fight without praying and our spiritual armor, then we bring forth our questions like this.

We want to make and carry out our own plans, but expect God to bless them.

When we do this, we are forgetting one little thing –

The Lord is the One who rules over all (1 Sam. 4:4)

Israel lost the war on the Philistines, because they went their own way versus stopping to pray and see what God wanted. They even, acted in a way – that causes the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant {which is a BIG deal} to be stolen. For seven long hard moments, God’s glory departed from Israel.

Friends, we need to pray in the battles we face. We need to pray in the midst of the battle, but also need to pray before the battle even begins. We desperately need to use prayer as our weapon. If we forfeit the weapon of prayer, we come under attack and lose the advantage.

But when we put on the full armor of God (see Eph. 6), we are aware of the devil’s schemes and can overcome his tactics. To quote 1 John 4:4, ““Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

As Israel faced losing the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, they faced God’s glory departing. There was much sorrow in this. Their sin greatly cost them. They disobeyed God, by not seeking Him. They wanted to turn to their own way, versus turn to the Lord and His way. As sons and daughters of the Most High God, we need to rethink the way we make decisions and live the lives we have been given.

Even when hard things happen, we can make the decision to seek Christ above all else.

As we observe our lives and see the battles we are facing, we need to choose to allow Jesus Christ, our Savior and King, to become our Battle-Winner. His strength and presence is far more than our enemies can handle!

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“Spiritually Strong” – BookLook

Kristen FeolaI am proud to share with you a new book, one I am loving. And, I think you will too.

Kristen Feola is the author of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast. In her new book, Spiritually Strong, she combines fitness and faith. Together, they join together – and make one dynamic program, when applied to the life of the reading believer… when we apply the truths of the Bible to our lives, and allow them to begin transforming us.

In particular, I enjoyed the richness of the Word of God that she brings into Spiritually Strong. She walks her readers through each step, helping them know the significance of each important spiritual discipline – and how we can apply them to our lives. It’s these steps of giving ourselves to God and growing in Him, not reaching outward perfection.

In Spiritually Strong, Kristin tackles how we can build our body and spirit. We don’t have to neglect one area – to overly focus on another area. In her book, she provides a 6-week guide to building your body and spirit. In her book, you can expect to find topics on:

  • Reading the Bible – Diligently, she shares how to read the Bible and why it is important to our daily lives and walk with God.
  • Prayer – It’s importance, how God speaks to you, and not just you talk to God.
  • Fasting – Its description, various types, reasons, and examples in the Word and others she knows on how to fast.
  • Healthy Living – Addresses various sections within the subject, such as: healthy eating, the trap of emotional eating, improving our eating habits, benefits and forms of exercise, and how our bodies are God’s temple.
  • Financial Stewardship – In this section, she focuses on the beautiful gift of giving and our need for a budget.
  • Serving Others – When it comes to serving, we need to focus on the right things. As she points out, it needs to be about serving in His strength, for His glory, and with His gifts.

The Plan: Her six-week plan has a different theme for each week of Bible study. Each day focuses on a particular spiritual discipline (one of the disciplines listed above). Its intended goal is to grow each believer in Christ. For the participant, they should set specific goals for that particular discipline. This will help them grow, and not become stagnant. Goal setting will enable us to intentionally enter into our time of worship – and not go through the motions. At the end of each day’s plan, it includes a physical workout as part of its plan.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through BookLook’s blogger review program, in exchange for a honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Price Paid (on Grace Leads)

Today, I began reading “Grace Leads”. This may be what my focus is on over the next few weeks. God has specific lessons in store for us, as we give ourselves to the studying of His Word. This book, “Grace Lead”, is one of many tools He can use in our lives! Though God led me to write it, I still have much to glean from this 5 week study.

In the session titled, “What is Grace?”, it focuses on the expanse of God’s grace. It goes above and beyond anything we could ever fathom. God’s grace is something to treasure. It is what God uses to lead us into a relationship with Him. It is how He removes barriers that separate us from Himself. God is rich in sharing His great grace with us, and we need to begin treasuring His grace. We need to step away from the barriers that keep us from God. We need to draw near to Him, and experience a greater intimacy with our Creator then ever before.

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased
our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
– Ephesians 1:7, NLT

Ephesians 1:7 is this session’s Scripture, and is where we find the word “purchased” in the middle of God’s grace and the forgiveness of our sins. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23, where we are reminded that we have indeed been bought with a price.

How often do we think about how we are bought with a price? 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 remind us of the need to let glorifying God be the motives for everything we do in our lives. While we faced a heavy debt as a result of our sinning against our Creator, God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price we could never pay. I know, I don’t think upon the purchasing of my spiritual freedom often enough.

Redemption could only come, by the means of Calvary.
Only Jesus could give me such freedom and deliverance!

Reflection Questions:

  1. How are we allowing the cost Jesus made, to change us from the inside out?
  2. As a result of knowing His grace, how are we choosing to treasure God’s great grace?
  3. How are we enjoying sweeter intimacy with our Creator?

“I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake
and will never think of them again.”
– Isaiah 43:25

Devotional: Why Settle?

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me,
and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
– Isaiah 55:2

  • If we are urged to not waste money on things that won’t satisfy, why do we spend our hearts on that which doesn’t satisfy?
  • Why do we settle for less than God’s best for us?
  • Why believe the lie that we are somehow worth less?
  • Why believe the lie that it is this or nothing?

Why do we spend our souls on that which doesn’t satisfy? Often, we settle. We settle in so many areas of our lives. The biggest area I think a lot of us wrestle with settling, is in our relationships with others… particularly in finding a spouse for those who are single. Why, settle?

God is issuing a decree, that we don’t need to settle. His best is beautiful, and worth the wait. His best, satisfies, s-a-t-i-s-f-i-e-s, satisfies like nothing else in this world! We need to be firm in our convictions, resolving to sit on the standards God is leading us to in our lives, and not be moved away from them. We need to be guarded, so that we won’t even entertain the idea of settling. We need to seek God and His direction for our lives, so we can be assured we aren’t settling.

God alone can satisfy us.
Not new circumstances.
Not new people in our lives.
God alone can satisfy us.
Will we allow Him to be our soul satisfaction?
Will we allow Him to be our all-in-all?

When we settle, we cheat ourselves. We get less than what God wants to bless us with. In our relationship with Christ, we lose out on intimacy and closeness we could have with our Creator (which is better than any human relationship we could dream up). When we choose to settle, it could even lead us down a path God doesn’t want us to take. When we settle, it can draw us away from Christ! We need to seriously consider how we are choosing to not settle, and keep Christ at the center of our lives – despite circumstances.

Last thought: Why, go after the things that don’t satisfy. In whatever circumstance, we find ourselves – not settling is a message we all need. We have the perfect place to run, while we wait and live in all of our situations. We have Christ!

Christ -is- our strong tower, Savior, Lover of our souls, and the One who knows exactly what we stand in need of. He is our Comforter, and understands what we face.

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses,
for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”
– Hebrews 4:15

Reflection Activities:

  1. While in my circumstances, am I allowing myself to contemplate settling?
  2. Am I discontent in my circumstances?
  3. Allowing it to be used to make Christ my focus?

Annoucement: Starting in March

Starting the beginning of March, I am going to be careful to not exceed one post per a day. I know often, I post much more than that.

I get excited.
I want to instantly share with all of you my friends.

This is going to change beginning this new month (March 2015). I want to continue on with my “Grace” posts that I have begun for the month of February. It is only fair to begin what I started… With that said, new changes are coming up for my blog. I know I post much more than I ought to, but love to write… And often feel like I need to share – in case it helps someone else. Starting March, I am going to be using my passion for writing in a different way. You all will have to wait and see what God decides to do – since this is His space. This is His blog. The gift of writing is something He has gifted me with.

What this doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean I am going to drop off the planet and stop blogging completely. It is just entering a new writing season, and not overwhelming my readers. So, setting a limit of no more than one post per a day.

Just wanted to give you all a “head’s up”.

Be blessed and keep seeking God’s face – daily!
– Gracefully Overcoming