Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Welcome to Day 101 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
1 Samuel 11 “When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.”
1 Samuel 12 “Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.” 4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
v 19 “The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.” 20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”
In 1 Chronicles 1-9 the writer (possibly Ezra) recounts of the people of God from the beginning of history until the return of Judah from the Babylonian exile.
2 Corinthians “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.”
Today I noted the similarities in Samuel’s and Paul’s dissertations about their own character.
Character is a funny thing. We are all flawed, and make our mistakes.
It’s obvious Paul had his critics. Samuel’s sons were out of control. Because of that, they rendered themselves incapable of leading Israel. Yet Samuel was able to separate himself from their behavior and stand on how he lived his life over the long haul.
I love that Paul said, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” He could compare resumes with the so-called “super-apostles” and frequently did! Yet he spoke often of the humility of Christ, even poking fun of himself along the way, “I must be out of my mind talking like this!”
Reading through the Old Testament has been an emotional roller coaster for me… It’s like watching someone blow their life apart by making one bad decision after another and being completely powerless to stop it. And today is no different. In a historic turn of events, Israel rejects the LORD as their king and chooses Saul. In yesterday’s reading it stated, “They have not rejected you, they have rejected me.” (The LORD, that is…) 1 Samuel 8:6-8.
For sure, God does not expect any of us to be perfect. That’s not possible… But he also does expect us to trust him and worship him only. To not turn away from him to other gods. To not take advantage of others. To be generous and kind…
Saul is about to make a critical mistake that will cost him dearly… He offers a burnt offering due to impatience… and possibly arrogance? (Only the Levite priests were to offer sacrifices…)
More on that tomorrow.
I am constantly amazed by the number of fallen heroes. By that I mean people who make one or two critical mistakes that cost them their reputation, their ministry, their family, their job.
Every day I remind myself, “This is a marathon.” One step at a time. One day at a time. Be faithful. Be dependable. Be honest. Be trustworthy. Do the right thing…
I have always viewed God’s word as guard rails for our lives. It may be a three-lane highway we are on… just don’t take the exit that leads away from God’s will for our lives.
And I believe God’s will for our lives is pretty universal. How we express it, perhaps the minute details (who we marry, where we are to live, etc) may all look different, but the major parts apply to all of us.
To be conformed into the image of Christ.
To do good. How? That’s up to you…
To participate in the Great Commission of going into all the world, making disciples, baptizing and teaching to obey.
To live out the Great Command of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Basically living out Galatians 5. (Long list of “works of the flesh” to avoid… and a long list of the “fruit of the Spirit” that will be evident as we live a life of faith…)
I am not trying to be perfect. Nor am I trying to be THE example of what it means to be the perfect Christian. I’m just a guy trying to walk it out. To do the things that I believe God has called ME to. To try to be able to say, as Paul did, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.
To not make the major mistakes as so many have…
(The problem is, it seems few finish really well.)
I’m hoping to be one of them, by God’s grace…
Not perfect, but in process…
Lord, it’s only by your grace that any of us stand… Thank you for your goodness and your mercy as we walk this out, and as Paul said, “run the race to win.”