1 Samuel 4-8 (Part 2)

Let me catch you up:

Israel has gone into battle with the Philistines, took the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant with them – without His permission. Now as a result, the Ark has been stolen by Israel’s enemy.

“. . . God’s power was against the city (5:11b).”

We need to truly know in our hearts that God is ruler over all. He is the One we must give account to. He is our good Father, who disciplines us – out of love for us (see Heb. 12). Even though the enemy they fought were not God’s people, God displayed His power in hopes that they would see His holiness and their need for Him (see Joshua 2:8-11) .

God is holy, and we all need to acknowledge His holiness. This is why we are able to see God’s power reign, as He shows the people He is not someone to take lightly.

When God’s power came against these pagan people, they moved the Ark to a different place and the same thing happened to its town’s people. People continually were afflicted and cried out, because the Living God had come against them! And in the town of Ekron, they actually cried out to heaven for help (5:12).

While they did not follow God in any way, they found themselves in a crucial place – where all they could do is begin crying out to God. 

Experiencing God’s glory is indeed a privilege. However, God’s glory had been taken away from Israel – when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant was moved and yes stolen.

Now for the testimony of God’s love and power:

God brought His glory back to the people He loved and cherished. Even though they acted wrongly, He chose to allow them to experience His Presence through the Ark. That’s grace, friends!

There came a time for celebration and absolute joy, when God’s glory returned to Israel (see 6:13-15). The people worshipped God.

Israel, God’s people, worshipped the Lord. They spent time in His Presence and enjoyed Him, for the Lord and His glory had returned to Israel.

Week 7: Friday Five (2 Thess. 1)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths on 2 Thessalonians 1

(1) As we continue to follow Jesus Christ, we are kept safe (1:1). This is perhaps one of the greatest treasures I have found. As a woman, I crave protection. So to know that my Jesus, my King, is protecting me and keeping me safe – is comforting beyond words! It makes me okay with the difficult days, when I stop long enough to realize I am being protected and kept safe by the King of Kings!

. . . To: The church of Thessalonica—kept safe in God our Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1, TLB).

(2) We are given rich blessings, which are found through our relationship with Jesus (1:2). In my digital Bible, it is translated a bit differently which helps to understand the Bible more clearly. Because of God the Father and our Lord Jesus, we have been given rich blessings and peace-filled hearts and minds (1:2b, TLB).

Does it get any better? In the world we live in, peace – filled hearts and minds are one of the greatest gifts we can be given. In a day where our minds and hearts run like they are on a treadmill all night long, the peace Jesus gives is enduring and ever-loving!

(3) We have the opportunity to do three specific things based on the knowledge of those God has placed in our path, who continue to be an encouragement to our faith (1:3-4). We can pray for them, share with others about lessons we are learning through their example, and give thanks.

Each of these things are growing points for me. I believe they are for each of us. We live in a “me first” world, which causes us to forget or neglect others, their faith, and the privilege of praying for them or sharing things we learn through their example.

(4) God can use our sufferings to make us ready for His Kingdom (1:5-6). This set of verses will cause us to give James 1 a second chance, where we are urged to count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

We need to trust that God will use our sufferings for His ultimate good. He is preparing us for something greater. His Kingdom is worthy of our suffering (see Prov. 3:5-6; Rom. 8:18).

(5) As we face suffering, God will provide us with quality rest through Jesus’ second coming (1:7, 10). As we come into His Kingdom, we will forever know God as He honestly is – with no holding back. 

One day, we will stand in His presence and will never again be distracted by the circumstances we are facing or the things of this world. We will stand in His presence in utter awe and overwhelmed with joy. We will be fully satisfied in the Lord.

Week 3: Five Friday (1 Thessalonians 3)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths On. . . 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

(1) Because of their aching hearts, Paul sent someone to go and check on the Thessalonians. Even if they had social media back then, I don’t think it could ever do the heartfelt thing that they set out to do. Physically, they sent Timothy to be with their friends to see how they were doing. Timothy went on the motive of love and risked everything. They didn’t just “like” their status, but went to them and had honest conversations which could have involved confession, glory stories of God’s work, and much encouragement.

(2) Suffering are a part of every Christian’s life. In 3:3-4, we learn how the missionaries prepared the Thessalonians for what they would face. They were well prepared for the expected suffering. God used the brethren to help prepare them as well as encouraging them to endure. Their new life meant they wouldn’t undergo suffering without the support of the body of Christ.

… But of course you know that such troubles are a part of God’s plan for us Christians.  Even while we were still with you we warned you ahead of time that suffering would soon come—and it did (TLB).

(3) The ministers proved themselves, as they showed concern for the Thessalonians. We live in a time, where it is easy to forget about others. Even in their suffering, these ministers reached out to see how their beloved friends were doing in their faith and in their new lives founded by Christ Jesus. This shows the depth of their love for Jesus and others.

(4) Knowing the truth about their friends’ faith brought joy and comfort to the imprisoned missionaries. Once we finally know how others are, it makes room for comfort and an abundance of joy that moves our hearts nearer to God. Their faith will encourage ours, even if we seem like these great people of faith on the outside. God only knows the measure of our need to hear how God is working in others’ lives. It offers us courage and hope to see how He will move in ours!

(5) Hearing about others’ faith in Christ ought to drive us to worship our Savior that much more. The unknown of a friend’s belief in Christ will drive us to our knees, to pray desperately on their behalf. If desperation precedes joy, the worship is all the more lively and intimate.  It’s a much needed time of remembering God’s goodness and that this is the God who walks with us.

How can we thank God enough for you and for the joy and delight you have given us in our praying for you? For night and day we pray on and on for you, asking God to let us see you again, to fill up any little cracks there may yet be in your faith (9-10).

Week 3: 1 Thessalonians 3:7

Welcome, my friends, to week 3 of our study! I am so glad you are here. Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to read today’s blog entry in your email or possibly on the website. You will not regret taking this time to invest in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the source of all hope and comfort.

The Scripture –

While I am limited in sharing at this moment due to circumstances, I want to be able to share with you our new weekly memory verse.

In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive (1 Thess. 3:7, MSG).

The Truth Revealed –

As I face my own troubles, I can relate a bit with Paul. Honestly, the great “longing exchange” (where the longing for a close friend is mutual) is a tremendous comfort in hard times. When you are in desperate need and alone, quality companionship is one of the top desires one troubled friend could have.

When we are going through hard times, we just need someone to be there for us. . . someone who will lead us straight to Jesus Christ. It’s the exact medicine we need.

We learn a few things about Paul and the Thessalonians –

  • Paul’s Heart: Longed for the Thessalonians, and bombarded with troubles.
  • The Thessalonians’ Heart: Longed for Paul, and continually sought Christ. . . resulting in much spiritual growth even during persecution.
  • Resulting in much comfort, especially for Paul in his time of need.

Hearing others’ stories of faith in Christ makes everything much better. While the circumstances may not change, our heart are uplifted versus drowning. Our perspective changes – because we receive comfort from friends. . . friends who treat our friendship in a godly way. Encouraging us to keep pressing into Jesus, praying over our circumstances, and helping us to hold onto our faith in Jesus and His Good News.

Biblical Friendship

While we may not choose our times of suffering, God can use this time to be encouraged (or encourage others) by others’ faith and show us the kind of friends we have (or are).

The Thessalonians and Paul had biblical friendships. They sought the Lord Jesus to be honored in their lives. They wanted to help encourage one another, pray together, and continue to live out their faith in Christ.

Biblical friendships are hard to find, but are what makes the lasting change in our spiritual lives.

Jonathan and David are a classic example of biblical friendship (see 1 Samuel 23:15-18). They loved each other in a godly friendship; Jonathan made sure to be there when David needed him the most (click here to listen to a sermon on the topic). Likewise, the Thessalonians would have send word back conveying how much they care for Paul and miss him.

Biblical friendships make the difference in our Christian walk, and an important tool in our transformation.

“[Thessalonians’] steadfastness was a great source of comfort to [Paul] in his trials. . . In the inevitable trials of the ministerial office there is no source of comfort more rich and pure than this (Albert Barnes Commentary).”

Job 21-23; Psalms 21-22

I got behind this weekend, so I am going to start anew today. I have read almost all the Psalms from January 7-8, but, not the chapters of Job. Hopefully, I can come back to those reading at some point.

jan-9

Assigned Reading for January 10: Psalms 21-22; Job 21-23

Psalms –

Chapters 21 – God shows us His strength in the way He treats us. The victory we seek, is in Him. Our trust rests in Him, where we cannot be shaken. God is the Authority over all of our foes. God loves us, and will act for us.

How are we praising God for His strength?

Chapters 22 – This psalm prophesies Jesus and His crucifixion. Throughout the psalm, we learn increasingly more about what Jesus faced and felt at the cross (and it was written long before Jesus was born in a manger). Jesus went through so much, for our sake. He is our Strength even now, when life seems like it is ruled by uncertainty. God is the One who gives us life, plans out the details of our lives, and listens to our heart’s cry – even crying with us. Jesus has come for us; He has done it, and brought salvation to all mankind.

For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help (Ps. 22:24).

Job –

Chapters 21-23 are what is on the agenda for today. We are half way through the book of Job. Can you believe it? I have been struggling with reading the book of Job lately, but I am trying to keep going – knowing it is about meeting God in this place and see what He says about the life of Job. It’s been interesting to read Job’s response to sufferings and then to read David’s heartfelt prayers on his struggles.

Job knew the character of God, as he made his case before God. He is outraged about how the wicked get to live in prosperity, while he struggles in his time of testing. But, I think his friends just added to its intensity. Eliphaz falsely accused him of even striping people of clothes, leaving them naked (see 22:4-10). They are convinced he has done something wrong – worthy of suffering like he faced. If there was one word for Job, it would be deliberate. Job is trying to find God, and his suffering adds to how he reacts to his friends, to God, to everything.

Our suffering is brought on, by being Satan’s enemies – quite honestly. Satan, our accuser, wants to destroy us and our faith in Jesus. But, we have already won the victory – because of Jesus Christ. Our hope is in Him! We have won – so stay the path, and watch how God will restore you and remind you of your hope.