Saturday, August 30, 2008

I’m a little slow

I didn't think it would take me this long to get to the 15th chapter of 1 Samuel! For the last month I've been reading through the book of 1 Samuel and blogging what I felt God revealed to me on that day.

Why is the 15th chapter so significant?

Well, in April of 2006 was the first time that I really looked at the life of Saul in depth and God had me preach on the 15th chapter, mainly I believe so that my own thinking would be changed. Then, as I was teaching this chapter in my small group a month ago and preparing for our series "Obey", I felt led to go through the whole book of 1 Samuel and journal or blog my thoughts daily. So, here we are 30+ days into it, OK, I'm a little slow!

"Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 1 Samuel 15:1

Samuel reminds Saul that he is to serve God not his own interest. Man, I could use that kind of reminder every day, although it would be hard to hear! We have a saying "live in such a way as to make Jesus famous", but we have to fight that daily drift of wanting to make our own self known and famous.

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' " 1 Sam 15:2-3

God's instruction won't always make sense to us.

Ever had God ask you to do something that didn't make sense to the rest of the world?

I have, and each time I believe it was a testing of my faith to see if I would be obedient.

But here is the interesting thing that I noticed this morning, God actually told him why,
"for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt." Saul was actually getting a chance to fulfill prophecy.

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."

 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation."
Exodus 17:8-16

God was fulfilling His promise and He was asking a disobedient king named Saul to do it. If He asked Saul to carry out His plan, don't you think He might ask you also?

What may seem strange to you might be a chance to fulfill what God has planned from the beginning!

Will you have the courage to obey?

Friday, August 29, 2008

“I swear” – round 2

Then Saul said to the leaders, "Something's wrong! I want all my army commanders to come here. We must find out what sin was committed today. I vow by the name of the Lord who rescued Israel that the sinner will surely die, even if it is my own son Jonathan!" 1 Sam 14:38-39

Not again! What's the old saying "doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results, is insanity", well Saul is proving it!

As a leader you have to be extremely careful about making hasty vows, because if you cannot keep them you lose integrity.

"This is what the LORD commands: When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said." Num 30:1-2

If you make a vow, it should be binding and the right thing to do is fulfill it, no matter how costly it becomes.

What vows are you not keeping?

When we make ridiculous statements that we have no intentions of keeping, it sure is hard to admit
we were wrong. I think it takes more courage to admit we were wrong than it does to fulfill whatever ridiculous oath we've sworn.

"Or suppose you make a foolish vow of any kind, whether its purpose is for good or for bad. When you realize its foolishness, you must admit your guilt." Lev 5:4

Need to admit any?

Saul was ready to kill his own son because he was more concerned about his image; to admit he acted foolishly would be an embarrassment to a king.

What a contrast between Saul and his son Jonathan. Jonathan admitted what he had done and didn't make any excuses for it. He was prepared to die. He did not argue whether the oath had any validity or point to the victory he had just won. He was prepared to be the scapegoat for his father's stupidity. He was willing to lay his life down for his father's sin, could this be the reason God allowed the people's plea to prevail?

Wow, sure sounds familiar to someone else?

Jesus was willing to die for my stupidity and because of His plea I have life!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First things first

"You have broken faith," he said. "Roll a large stone over here at once." … Then Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first time he had done this. 1 Samuel 14:33, 35

Saul builds his first altar, but only as a last resort, which wasn't unusual for Saul. He consistently approached God after everything else failed.

Sound familiar?

Oh God, help me…my marriage is falling apart…I have no money…my kids have done something stupid…I can't find a job…feel free to add your own ________________________. I've been there, done that, got the… haven't you? In fact, we teach the best time to reach people for the Kingdom is when they are in transition or tension.

Building an altar should have been his first act as king, not treating God as an afterthought.

Saul's first altar was also public, not personal and private. I believe that before a public declaration in our ministry there should be the personal altar, one where we offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" to Him.

I know in my own life that has to be a daily occurrence, otherwise I drift and have a hard time "denying myself".

Okay, it's not how you start, its how you finish. So Saul didn't start off by building an altar, not many of us do, but he had other chances. He could have built one after offering sacrifices illegally (13:9-13) to show his repentance, but he didn't.

"Saul, the clue phone is ringing and it's for you!"

What about you, do you hear the ringing?

Someone call me and remind me to offer myself daily to Him who died for me!

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Matthew 16:24

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, "Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!" So none of the troops tasted food. The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out, yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath.
1 Sam 14:24-26

Saul, who has lost his communion with God, now he has his men swear to a foolish oath without thinking through the implications.

  • The oath itself does nothing to move people to a commitment to the Lord; it's all about Saul's ambition and his glory.
  • Legalism moves us towards pride and rarely produces holiness. It usually leads to fear and hypocrisy as people live double lives.
  • The oath actually weakened them and made them bitter.
  • The oath actually caused them to commit an even greater sin.
  • The oath caused them to miss out on the victory and the honey that God had provided.

As a leader I must choose my words and directions carefully, but more importantly I must look at my actions for pride and legalism, which might mean I'm out of step with God.

Have you missed the honey because of the fear of an oath?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, "Come, let's go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side." But he did not tell his father.
1 Sam 14:1

Jonathan is one of my favorite people in the Bible; he is bold, unconventional, and faithful. All three of these traits are on display in this single verse.

Gloom has filled the whole land of Israel as the Philistines are raiding at will. Saul, Jonathan's dad, the king of Israel, is just sitting under a
tree not knowing what to do.

But Jonathan had faith that nothing could stop God, so he devised a plan. Can you hear him, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail".

He tells no one of his plan other than his armor bearer. It's just him and his armor bearer against the Phillistine army.

Have you ever had a friend who would be the only one to stand with you as you faced an army?

I have, and I would take on the world with those friends
standing beside me.

I believe he didn't tell anyone of his plan because he didn't want Saul to find out. Saul had lost touch with God and would have discouraged him or announced his plans like he had previously done (13:3).

There is huge lesson in there for us, when you are feeling a prompting from God to do something, make sure that when you seek advice, you get it from someone who is walking with God. I've learned that when you are attempting something so unconventional for the Kingdom of God to seek counsel from people I know who walk with God. Why? It won't make any sense to those that aren't, their God is too small.

One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. Joshua 23:10

Jonathan's plan succeeded, two men climbing on their knees were able to take out an entire army!

What is it that so BIG that God only needs you and one other to take on?

God might want to use you and someone who says "I am with you heart and soul" to rescue an entire nation today!

"So the LORD rescued Israel that day," 1 Sam 14:23

Monday, August 25, 2008

How much do I have?

13 "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."

 15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.
1 Sam 13:13-15

Samuel tells Saul that he has lost the right to lead and that his kingdom would pass on to someone else.

Saul is now facing two battles, externally against the Phillistines and internally knowing that God has taken his hand off.

If you were Saul, think of the pressure you would be under, the mind games that would go on in your head.

Maybe you've been there you're facing a major conflict, you're not seeing God's provision, you're not feeling the joy of His presence, your friends have walked away; you're left alone to face your enemy.

What do you do?

I think most of us would act like Saul, we carry on with our preparations for battle, we count our resources, and then we'd have a pity party for ourselves before we tried to push through. It didn't work for Saul, has it worked for you?

There might have been hope for Saul if he would have acted more like;


"This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."  2
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly
4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD.
2 Kings 20:1-5

Or, Moses when God said "I will not go with you";

12 Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' 13
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."

 14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

 15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"

 17 And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."
Ex 33:12-17

If you're facing a battle in your life quit counting your resources and go to the One that really counts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Squeeze play

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter. 9 So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings. [e] " And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

 11 "What have you done?" asked Samuel.  Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."  13 "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. 1 Sam 13:7-13

Has there ever been a time when you were leading and everyone on your team was in fear?

You can't seem to do anything about it and they want action.

"Do something!"

So, not to lose face in front of the team, to please those you lead, you do something you know deep down in your heart you shouldn't.

I've been there, looking back I feared them or at least what they thought of me more than God. When resources were slipping away or faced with a difficult situation, I often would become impatient with God's timing, and think it was up to me to make something happen.

True spiritual character is revealed under pressure, kind of like a tube of toothpaste; when squeezed what comes out of you?

Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

When faced with an impossible situation don't allow impatience or pride to drive you to act foolishly. God often uses these situations to test our obedience and faith.



Friday, August 22, 2008

Smell something?

Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes. 1 Sam 13:2

At one point Saul had rallied 330,000 men for the fight at Jabesh, why reduce that now?

I've seen this happen in churches. At some point there was a huge volunteer force and then some one thought it better to have quality over quantity. In my opinion you have to be very careful when making choices about who and how people can serve the Lord. I'm not saying you shouldn't have standards for certain positions, but I've seen and even drifted toward legalism and arrogance myself. It is easy to drift toward the ways of the world in judging someone's perceived effectiveness and skills. It seems to me that God often chooses the least of these to bring Him the most glory.

 3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, "Let the Hebrews hear!" 4 So all Israel heard the news: "Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, 1 Sam 13:3-4

Wow, how quickly we as leaders want to take the credit for someone else's accomplishments! We want to be front and center, to be famous, to make our name renown, instead of remaining humble and making sure that it is about making Jesus famous. We seem to be so interested in being the church on the cover, instead of the church on the corner

…and now Israel has become a stench to the Philistines." 1 Sam 13:4

When it becomes about us, it is offensive to God and the rest of the world thinks we stink!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


In the 12th chapter of 1 Samuel, Samuel has arranged a service at which he will transfer the leadership of the Israelites from himself to Saul.

One of the things that surprised me was how he handled stepping down, instead of boasting about his tenure and all the things he had done, he asked them "Do you have any complaints to bring before God and his anointed?"

Few leaders have the courage to do this and even fewer would be able to comment since we as leaders don't live transparent and open lives in front of them.

I desire to live a life of integrity and transparent holiness and in doing so I have a few people who share life with me that I occasionally ask "what in my character needs to change?" These are true friends who will speak the truth to me, even at the risk of losing my friendship, because they love me and they love God.

We have an audience of One, but listening to how fellow believers see us will make us more effective in ministry among them.

Will you have the courage to ask someone "what do you see in my character that needs to change?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Better than…

A month into Saul's new role as king he faces his first attack. King Nabash of Ammon attacks Jabesh and the citizens ask for peace.

"I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel."

I wonder if that's where we get the saying "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick"?

"The elders of Jabesh said to him, "Give us seven days…"
1 Sam 11:2-3

And he agreed, why?

I started thinking about this and here is what I've seen. As a new leader you will be tested early and usually by someone whose bark is really loud. They make all kinds of threats, that in most cases they don't intend to carry out.

Leadership is about making decisions; every decision is for something and against something else. You are going to make some people mad and they will make threats. I can't say if I've ever had a threat turn out as bad as they claim, usually most our not willing to carry it out.

That's my opinion on King Nabash, he knew a seige against the walls of Jabesh would take months and he probably wasn't prepared for that.

If you are a leader facing threats, ask God to reveal to you truth, go before you into the battle, and give you the strength and courage to stand firm.

On the other side of this; are you making threats that you're not willing to carry out?

Nabash did that and got his tail kicked!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

In November of 2006 I came across a book entitled "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson, it rocked my world and Scott's. We were leading a great church; in fact we had just been recognized as one the "healthiest churches" in the world by Purpose Driven. In the eyes of the world, most would say we had reached the pinnacle, but God used "In a Pit" to help us realize there were lions to be chased! We left everything of comfort and moved half way across the US to plant a new church and chase the lion! Thanks Mark.

Now, he's back again, Mark that is, with a new book entitled "Wild Goose Chase – Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God"

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy within the past couple of days and I love it!

Here are few highlights of what I've read so far:

  • "Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or 'the Wild Goose.' The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it's like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something….


  • Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure."


  • "He will take you places you never could have imagined going by paths you never knew existed."


  • "I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals."


  • "Jesus died to make us dangerous."

If you are comfortable you DO NOT want to read this book, but YOU HAVE TO!

Check out the site

Or get your copy from:;;;;;

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of Washington, DC's National Community Church, widely recognized as one of America's most innovative churches. NCC meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the city, as well as in a church-owned coffee house near Union Station. More than seventy percent of NCC'ers are single twentysomethings who live or work on Capitol Hill. Mark is the author of the best-selling In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and a widely read blogger ( He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and their three children.

That’s not legal

So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 1 Samuel 10:20

Who's Lot? Why did he get to make the decision?

Not who, but what.

They chose their first king by casting lots or by using the Urim and Thummin.

The what?

According to Jewish historian, Josephus, the Urim consisted of two sardonyx stones, each contained in a pouch in the Breastplate worn by the High Priest. One of the two stones shined brightly when God was present (or involved).

The main reason for casting lots was the impartiality of a certain decision. No one could argue that the decision was the result of politics, nepotism, favoritism, etc. It basically was the same as the casting of dice of today.

The High Priest used this method for important, uncertain decisions; it amounted to consulting God for the answer.

Is that legal, I mean come on, don't we have to vote?

That just doesn't make sense; we better call in the Attorney General!

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office says Trinity Church Interdenominational cannot yet close the door on a tumultuous 2007. The opinion came in response to a complaint to the Attorney General's Office from a group of disaffected members. Trinity leaders dispute the findings. They are submitting more information, and the Attorney General's Office said it will take another look. The flap began over whether the church's longtime senior pastor, the Rev. Les Beauchamp, should stay at the helm. Concerns over Beauchamp's leadership style, not any allegation of wrongdoing, sparked the controversy.

Do you think the AG took "LOT Casting 101" in law school?

Monday, August 18, 2008

I’m the leader

I don't think I would have been able to hide my disgust. I mean, come on, you've served faithfully, but the people reject you, your God and all that you believe in. And now the one that has been chosen is hiding
(1 Sam 10:21-22).

I probably would have said something like, "ok you wanted a king, well there he is, he's the one hiding over there, some king he'll be, but that's what you wanted!"

But that's not the way Samuel acted. Again he was humble and patient and let God make his appointment clear to everyone.

It's not
self proclamation that makes one a leader in God's work.

Genuine leaders must learn to wait for a divine introduction.



Sunday, August 17, 2008


Just a followup from yesterday's post.

Let's say we've been left in charge by the owner, and He's coming back, shouldn't we model what our boss would do?

I think that's an easy question to answer, but maybe a hard one to do.

Instead of looking at people as someone who helps me fulfill my dreams and aspirations, shouldn't we practice what Christ did?

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!

Phil 2:5-8

If you have been entrusted with His possessions, are you striving to make yourself nothing? Or is it about making a name for yourself?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Their His

"Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?"
1 Sam 1:1

Israel was God's inheritance, and He wanted Saul to know this from the start. Paul also reminded us church leaders that in
Acts 20:28
"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."

As a leader someone should remind me of these verses daily. Why?

I've seen too many leaders start out good and then drift toward seeing themselves above the people because God has entrusted us with responsibility.

I believe it starts with not
"keeping watch over ourselves", thinking we have it all together and "if they would get it" things would be better.

That leads to seeing people as commodities to be used, instead of His treasure.

If you love things, you will use people. But we are called to love God & people, and use things.

Leadership is stewardship and starts and ends with the leader's character.

"The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you."
1 Sam 1:6-7

Friday, August 15, 2008

Looking for donkeys

"Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys." 1 Sam 9:3

Does it ever feel like your just looking for donkeys?

I was reminded this morning to look for God in unexpected journeys and places.

Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: "About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. 1 Sam 9:15-16

It was in errands that Saul, Joseph (Gen 50:20; Ps 105:17-21) and David (1 Samuel 17:1-58) met their destiny.

Enjoy the journey today, oh and don't worry about the donkeys, He's already taken care of them.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Like everyone else

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." 1 Samuel 8:19-20

Oh, the desire to be like everyone else, to fit in!

Think about this, God had chosen them to be different, set them apart, told them to "be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy" (Lev 19:2) and that He would "dwell among them" (literally meaning He "pitched His tent" among them) and "be their God" (Ex 29:45); now they want to be like everyone else and instead of God fighting their battles they want a king to do it. Basically, they evicted God, "God you can't pitch your tent here, don't you see this is a RV park!"

I wonder if we have done that, I mean look at all the studies; we as Christ followers are no different from the world.

Too many of us view following the way, not about being conformed to Christ-likeness, but to self improvement and successful living.

The command to stand apart, to be holy is often ignored.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Romans 12:2

But the people refused to listen and said "No"!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Losing sight

7 "Do everything they say to you," the Lord replied, "for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don't want me to be their king any longer. 1 Samuel 8:7

I have a great friend who says "you don't have a problem with me; you have a problem with God". I need to remember as a servant of the King, it is the King's message that people reject.

8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 1 Samuel 8:8

They lost sight of what God had promised them.

Do you remember?

Here's what He promises US:

"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. 2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:

 3 Your towns and your fields
      will be blessed.
4 Your children and your crops
      will be blessed.
   The offspring of your herds and flocks
      will be blessed.
5 Your fruit baskets and breadboards
      will be blessed.
6 Wherever you go and whatever you do,
      you will be blessed.

 7 "The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!

 8 "The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

 9 "If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.

 11 "The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. 12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. Deut 28:1-13

Don't lose sight of His promises!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Character matters.

That's the thing that jumps out at me when I read 1 Samuel 8.

Look at the way Samuel handled these two situations.

Being confronted about the evil ways of his sons.

Think about how you would respond as a parent, would you be open to hearing criticism of your kids? When finding out the facts about your children's sin, would you start to question your own walk with God? "How can I serve God, I can't even raise my boys right." Or, when confronted would you lash out in anger at those who came to you?

Samuel didn't do any of those, well he did get angry, but it wasn't over his kids, it was over their next request.

"Give us a king like all the other nations have."

The questioning of his leadership.

You have a long ministry of prayer, fasting, teaching and preaching that brought Israel back to God and brought joy and peace. But, like always, they are not content and want to change that.

"We have to be like the 'Jones'. They have a king! We need a king!"

"What didn't I lead you well?" You know in your heart this isn't what God wants and it isn't going to turn out well for them. Can you imagine how frustrated Samuel must be? Then, the fact that they used your son's sins against you, wouldn't that tick you off? How would you respond?

Samuel is angry, but he doesn't lash out at them, he doesn't build his case before the people, he takes it to the Lord.

God appointed him to the office; surely God would tell him if his time was done.

How would you respond?

Monday, August 11, 2008

I know…

it's the start that stops most people!

Okay, I've been waiting to get to chapter 8, and now that we're here, I'm not sure where to start; there's so much in this passage.

Parenting, nepotism, corruption, unfit leadership, change for change sake, confrontation, following the ways of the world, rejection, obedience, majority rule, etc., let me chew on it and I'll get back to you in the morning. 


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Get out

Since July 31st I've been blogging my thoughts as I read through 1 Samuel. For those of you who have followed along I hope you have enjoyed it. If you just stumbled on to this page, then I would encourage you to read along with me and share your thoughts.

I finished chapter 7 this morning and here is what I noticed:

In those days judges (Samuel was a judge) handled disputes, delivered people from their enemies, taught people principles of the law, and decided on difficult matters of doctrine, lifestyle and worship.

It appears Samuel spent his life building people; he spent more time out among God's people than carrying out religious ceremonies. Eli waited on people to come to him; Samuel went out to the people.

I see too many church leaders who do the opposite, of which I have been guilty at times.
We spend so much time "pulling off" Sunday mornings or on programs that when people do come we call them
"interruptions" in our day. Have you ever heard "ministry would be easy if it weren't for the people". I've heard too many church leaders say "it's about the weekend", no,
it's about people.

Or, ministry leaders you can't get to…that's a whole blog in itself.

Shouldn't we take our lead from people like Samuel, or Paul who said this;

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our
lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

1 Thess 2:8

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I can't let go of something this morning, this passage (1 Sam 7:2): "all Israel mourned because it seemed that the Lord had abandoned them."

They were no longer mourning for the Ark, but for the Lord himself.

As a nation, more importantly as God's people when was the last time that we mourned for the Lord himself? Think about it, in some ways it's still about the Ark; fill our churches, our schools, our whatever.

Are we serious about wanting to return to the Lord?

That is the question Samuel asked and the question I think we must ask of ourselves. When was the last time you were asked that?

Samuel didn't pull any punches; he came straight at the people with a challenge. He knew that God must be Lord of all, and that He would not tolerate rivals or false gods. He told them to get rid of them and obey only the Lord.

In your life who or what is your false god? Maybe you need some help to identify it; who or what do you look for to get your identity, security, purpose, joy, protection, etc. Is it a person, is it your vocation, is it money, what?

The Bible said the people destroyed the images and worshipped only the Lord, in other words, turn away from it/them as your god and turn to the one and only true God.

Samuel then summoned the whole group to fasting and prayer; he also stood before God privately for them.

This is not to be taken lightly, when you make this type of declaration you have to be serious, why?

Because you are going to get attacked! (1 Sam 7:7)

But, He is also our Rescuer!

Friday, August 8, 2008


A Franciscan prayer
Craig Groeshel recited at the end of his session today at the WCA Summit.


May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.


Patience of Job?

How about the patience of Samuel? Come on, God called him, spoke directly to him, but then he has to wait 20+ years to lead?

At least that is the way we would view it.

I know in my own life, as a young leader I would have wanted to make things happen. "God's given me vision of what He wants accomplished, I've got to get busy making that happen."

If I was in Samuel's sandals I might have said, "What? You don't want me to take care of the Ark? Haven't you heard God spoke to me? (1 Sam 3:1-14) In fact, He speaks to me all the time
(v. 21). Hasn't everything I've told you been wise and helpful?
(v. 19) Come on, everybody knows that I am God's prophet!
(v. 20) I'm God's man;
I should be taking care of the Ark?"

Samuel was recognized as a prophet but no one considered making him the custodian of the Ark. While Samuel was serving God in obscurity, God was preparing the hearts of the people.

As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I am learning (not there, yet) to wait upon the Lord. If you know me, you know I've long suffered from "destination disease", I want to get there! I'm learning that His plans are better than my own and that each day is about testing, training and spiritual growth.

Today is preparation for my next.

Leading in the Kingdom isn't about responsibility, it's about obedience.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not to be taken lightly

Okay, this is a tough one this morning. Here is where I picked up reading – 1 Samuel 6:19-21.

19 But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them,

Wow, that seems harsh, but here we go again, they knew that they weren't supposed to do that; it was strictly forbidden. "But we danced, sang, and gave offerings before the Lord! Can't we just get by with a peek?"

That sounds all too familiar.

And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn't prepared and doesn't carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. Luke 12:47

God didn't kill them to be cruel; He did not want the whole cycle of disrespect, disobedience and defeat to start all over again. God killed them because overlooking their sin would have encouraged the entire nation to ignore God.

20 and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, "Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?

God answers that question for us:

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
      Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
      speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
      or harm their neighbors
      or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
      and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
      and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
      and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.
Psalm 15:1-5

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt 5:8

The requirement for standing and ministering has not changed, even though we may downplay the issue of personal holiness, God doesn't.

In God's eye, your character comes before your charisma.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm a stat

" "
Ok, I just read something similar to this yesterday and what do I do, well let's just say it happened to me!

After eating lunch at my house, I was walking out the garage texting the people in my small group about tonight, when BAM, I ran right into the garage door that was only half way up!!!


When the Ark returned to Israel (1 Samuel 6:13-18), ordinary people
stopped what they were doing and worshipped!

When was the last time we stopped what we were doing to worship God when we felt His presence?

Or is it something we schedule into our lives?

Interesting thing, they carried out the celebration instead of waiting for the official leaders of Israel.

What they didn't wait on the leaders, can you do that?

Of course, this is how things should have been from the beginning, with everyone a worshipper, every head of every family a spiritual leader (Ex 12:3, 13:8) and every first born dedicated to serving God. But here is the issue again; disobedience resulted in the Lord's service becoming the exclusive duty of the Levites (Ex 32:26, 29).

Serving God is not about position, title, education, skills, or status; it's simply about whether or not you are willing to answer the call to obey.

Any idea what the Levites had to do become responsible for the religious ceremonies?

Read Exodus 35:25-29.

Wow, is that a class in seminary or a workshop at a church planter's boot camp?

Leadership is about making decisions other people choose not to make. Leadership in the Kingdom is choosing to follow God even when it doesn't make sense.

Here's the cool thing, since it was the ordinary people worshipping, the Philistines rulers stayed and watched. Can you imagine the impact in had on them to see the how ordinary people stopped what they were doing in their day to day life and worshipped, cherished and honoured God?

When was the last time an unbelieving world saw us do that?

I believe that God is going to do something amazing in the next generation, and he is going to do it through the ordinary. That is why I am a part of a movement to join God as He empowers ordinary people to make a difference together wherever they are.

It starts with loving God enough to answer His call to obey,
will you?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How come…

How come… if you are a parent of multiple children you've heard this until you probably want to throw up, right? How come he gets to do that? How come he doesn't get punished like this?

Well, that's my question.

As I was reading in the 6th chapter of 1 Samuel and I wondered why didn't the Philisitines die while moving the Ark? Uzzah died when he touched the Ark while it was being carried on a cart (2 Sam 6:6). How come they didn't?

I think it because of the pattern I am seeing in Scripture – you are responsible for what you know. I think God may permit ignorant unbelievers to get away with things that he will not excuse in a believer who has been taught in His ways.

As a parent my 17 yr old will be disciplined different than my 10 yr old, because he knows better.

Remember 1st Samuel is about teaching a new generation about obedience.

We are a generation of learners and not doers. How many times do you hear the words "I just want to go deeper"? Would we say that if we were held to account for the things we already know but are not doing?

It's my opinion, based on what I read in His word, that we will be!

How come? Because we know better!

But, if I don’t do it…

About 9 years ago I had another pastor in town come to see me about particpating in a city wide prayer vigil. Sounded like a good idea, then He said "God needs our help in defeating Satan." Really, God needs our help?

Let's see, Jesus said if we won't worship him, even the stones would (Luke 19:40), if we won't speak for God, even a donkey will (Numbers 22:28), and if we don't obey, a fish is ready to do the Lord's work (Jonah 1:17).

That's what we find in Chapter 5, God fought His own battle against the Philistine people and their god Dagon without help from the Israelite army. Because of their disobedience, God's people missed out on the help they could have had.

God will do it with or without you, no one is indispensable.

God is not privileged when we serve Him.

It is our privilege to get to serve Him!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Where’d He go?

Okay, I have to tell you, I'm digging 1 Samuel. There is so much good stuff in here. Yeah, I know it's God's Word, of course it's good, but for me and where I am at right now, it's really hitting home.

Take sometime and slowly read Chapter 4, you probably should get out a commentary or a study Bible, just so you don't miss anything.

Here's what struck me:

  • Joshua was supposed to take out the Philistines, but he left a few and they became a thorn in the side of Israel for the entire 40 years Eli judged.
    Ever left a few that still haunt you?
  • 40 years is a long time for someone to rule and judge! Especially without God's hand on you.
  • There is no indication that the Israelites sought the face of God before battle, result; tragic! Always seek the face of God before going into battle, always! Reminder: we are in a battle everyday!
  • They just assumed He would be there. Need I say more?
  • They believed God should fight for them no matter how they lived; they didn't humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways nor pray for mercy. Wake up call!
  • 4,000 killed
  • Okay, so now they go back and take a symbol of God's presence into battle, and who's carrying it? Eli's sons who had abused their duty as priest. We put our confidence in a form of religion while denying the God behind the form.
  • Isn't that like us, we want a visible god to assure us of our safety.
  • To the Philistines, the impression was that the the God of Israel was no better than there own God, who could only move when carried – he must not be that powerful! Do the people around you know how BIG your God is by the way you act?
  • So the Philistines rally and kill 30,000 Israelites!


Any thoughts?



this verse has popped up in front me
3 times in the last three days…maybe God's trying to tell me something! Ever had that happen? Some obscure verse you haven't thought of in awhile or never, and then BAM, there it is everywhere you turn!

'These people honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me.
 They worship me in vain;
      their teachings are but rules taught by men.
(Isa 29:13, Matt 15:8-9, Mark 7:7)

In each case the people were just going through the motions, religion had become routine instead of real and they neglected to give God their love and devotion.

Sound familiar?

Are we just going through the motions and "doing church?"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The call

In third chapter of 1st Samuel we find God's call to Samuel.

God called to him. He heard God's voice, but did not understand. Most people say "he was just a boy and had not yet learned to distinguish the voice of God", but isn't that true even for us who are older. One of the questions I get asked most often is "how do I know its God?", "how do you hear God?"

He went and asked Eli if he had called. Eli told him to go back to bed. Twice more this happened. Finally, the third time Eli began to understand what was happening. He explained what Samuel should do and how he should respond.

How many times has God called me and I didn't respond?

The fourth time Samuel responded to God's call, and was given a message from God. It was a message about change, about the ending of the old ways of doing things in Israel. God did not tell Samuel at this point what newness would come, only about the changes that would sweep away the old ways.

I think change is coming, can you feel it?

Even though "the word of the Lord was rare in those days," God spoke to a boy named Samuel.

I think He is already speaking to the next generation about the change He wants in His church.

My prayer, God make me Eli to the next generation, that I might understand and explain to them how they should respond to you!