Posts Tagged “1 Samuel”

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

We’re down to the final days of summer. Take a bit of time to sit in the sun (or shade) and enjoy God’s Word over the next few weeks. Use our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules to stay on track with us, reading four or five chapters each weekday. If you fall behind – don’t worry about it! Use the weekend to catch up or don’t worry about keeping up. Just keep reading. God will reveal Himself to you – He promises to! Ask Him to and He will.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the July/August bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the July/August 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The August Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

I love the way God’s Word seems to speak to my specific situations as I read through His Word. I know He’ll do that for you, too. I’d love to hear about it. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for August is below.

Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule for August 2013

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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Ephesians 5 began a discussion about how we are to live together, not living according to the world’s standards, but living in a Godly way. Yesterday’s blog focused on the first half of the discussion. “Be imitators of God” Paul wrote (verse 1), and “Be very careful then, how you live” (verse 15). In verse 21 he begins to expand on the subject of how we are to live, dealing with very specific relationships. In Ephesians 5:21 through 6:9 Paul provides the following instructions:

  • Submit to one another – not because they deserve it or even because they’re doing the right thing, but “out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). The word translated “submit” is translated more properly in the King James Version as “submit yourself”. In other words, it is a voluntary submission – we choose to submit ourselves, to consider others as greater than ourselves. (If you’ve been following the Resting at the River’s Edge readings, you will have seen this in David’s relationship with Saul. When offered Saul’s daughter in marriage, his response was “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!” (1 Samuel 18:18, NLT) Well, I thought as I read the passage, you’re David, the one who has killed Goliath and has done everything King Saul has asked from playing the harp to killing 10,000. But that was not David’s attitude. David continually submitted to Saul.
  • Wives, submit to your husbands. The same Greek word is used here. It is the wife’s choice to submit to her loving husband.
  • Wives respect your husbands. Showing our husbands respect is one of the ways we submit and it is one of the ways we love our husbands. That means no disparaging him when having lunch with your girlfriends! Build him up in his presence and when he is absent.
  • Husbands love your wives. Paul explains what that means – “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV). While the wife is to treat her husband as lord, the husband is not to treat his wife as if he is her lord. (Remember, the first instruction is to submit to one another.)
  • Children, obey your parents. The word translated obey means to listen attentively and obey.
  • Children, honor your father and mother. This isn’t limited to people of a certain age. Everyone with a father and mother (and of course that’s all of us) is to honor them. In their presence and when they are absent.
  • Fathers, do not exasperate your children. God knows that men and women are different (after all, He made us that way). He knows that generally women are more nurturing and patient with children. So God, through Paul, reminds Fathers to have patience with their children and to train and instruct them with love.
  • Slaves obey your earthly masters. In our culture, that can be applied in the employee/employer relationship. Employees, obey your bosses. When you agree with their decisions and when you don’t. In their presence and when they are absent. Paul tells us to go the extra mile and “serve [our bosses/masters] wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7, NIV).
  • Masters (bosses), treat your slaves (employees) well. Do not threaten them and do not show favoritism.

Well, that covers just about all relationships, and any that don’t fit into these categories fall under the first instruction to “submit to one another.”

The book of Ephesians began with the glorious prayers of Paul, reminding us of our relationship with the Father. It then gives very practical instructions about how to live together in unity. Finally, it ends with Paul’s urging us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10, NIV). We are to put on the full armor of God – to suit up for the battle to come.

Paul reminds us that all the things he’s addressed in his letter (and we’ve talked about in this blog series) – all these relationship challenges – that’s not where are battle truly is. Those are petty squabbles that we are to work through by submitting by one another. No, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12, NIV) Battling those forces requires spiritual armor. It is our spiritual armor that protects us from attacks of the enemy.

Guest blogger Pastor Dan Caudill wrote about our armor in this blog.

We are children of the Most High God, bought with the precious blood of Jesus, called to live a life of love in all relationships. I love how Paul combines spiritual truths and practical advice in this letter to people who were suffering for their faith.

Let’s go live that life. Let’s pray for one another the kind of prayers Paul prayed. Let’s love one another as Jesus loves us. Let’s stay strong as we purposefully put on our full armor every day. Let’s not get so caught up in life that we don’t live it as God would have us live. Enjoy God! Enjoy life!

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

Make God’s Word the cornerstone of your summer reading schedule. Join us as we read through a few chapters of the Bible each day. Use our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules to stay on track with us. If you fall behind – don’t worry about it! Just keep reading. I am praying that God will reveal Himself to you as you read each chapter. Ask Him to and He will.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the July/August bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the July/August 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The July Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

I hope you’ll join us! I love the way God’s Word seems to speak to my specific situations as I read through His Word. I know He’ll do that for you, too. I’d love to hear about it. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for July is below.

July 2013 RARE Reading Schedule JPG

 

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Phil and I have been taking ballroom dancing lessons for about four months. Tonight is our first recital! Yes, I thought only children had dance recitals. Guess I was wrong about that. We’ll be dancing the rhumba and the waltz. Earlier this week I wrote about lessons from the battlefield and how they can be applied to our spiritual life. In honor of our dance recital tonight, I thought I’d share some lessons from the ballroom.

There are a few lessons our instructor, Michael, has been working on with us every single week. We’ve taken about twelve lessons and I don’t think a week’s gone by that he hasn’t mentioned all three of these things. And like our battlefield lessons, I find them applicable to my spiritual life. In fact, since I have someone harping on me about these lessons each week and we practice a couple of other times a week, these lessons are in the front of my mind and are serving as reminders of how I ought to live.

Lesson 1: Stand Tall

When you stand tall you command authority. You think and act differently.

Do you know who you are in Christ? We are many things, but I like the description in 1 Peter:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)

We are chosen by God, he has made us a part of His royal priesthood, and he’s given us a calling. What a privileged position we hold! Cherished by the creator of the universe! Knowing that ought to make us stand tall. There’s no slouching from insecurity in the King’s Kingdom. Yet when we are tempted to be downhearted, we can remember King David’s words:

But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
Psalm 3:3 (NLT)

We may be as Paul described – hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, but we are not crushed, in despair, abandoned or destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV). Why? Because God is the lifter of our head. He is the one who holds our head high. I ought to be living as that royal priesthood, as a person for God’s own possession.

A person who lives like that doesn’t slouch. That person has a regalness about them. Not an arrogance, but a regalness.

And it’s not all about how we walk, there is a spiritual application of this that goes deeper. Spiritually, we ought to be standing up. When we face the enemy, we’re not to be worn down, defeated, expecting to lose, afraid of being seen.

No, we should be standing tall in confidence and command because we are God’s holy nation, we are His ambassador. We’ve been called out of darkness, given the assignment of proclaiming His excellencies, His supremacy, and His great love.

We ought to stand tall. Because God is the lifter of our heads.

Lesson 2: Follow the Leader

Oh, I’m not always good at this one. Phil lifts his arm indicating that I’m supposed to go under it for an underarm turn and I just keep dancing my little box step. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t recognize his lead. I just didn’t feel like doing it. I needed a break from the last step we did.

Except for the fact that sometimes Phil’s leads are a bit indefinite and Gods leads are always perfect, the rest is about the same. Sometimes I miss the lead. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to stay in my routine. I wasn’t paying attention to Him and missed the lead. Or I wanted to take a break from the last battle he put me in.

I did a search in the Bible on the phrase “Follow me.” One of the things that jumped out at me was Jesus’ calling his Disciples. He met Peter and said “Follow me.” He met Matthew and said “Follow me.”

He said this as he called another disciple:

21  Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”    
22  But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 8:21-22 (NIV)

And His message was the same to the rich young ruler:

21  Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Matthew 19:21 (NKJV)

Follow me. That’s what God says.

If we move this command into the battlefield, there’s a good reason to follow Him. There’s a good reason not to take the lead away from Him – because it is His battle to win, not ours.

David knew this when he fought Goliath. He met Goliath with these words

“Today, all those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
1 Samuel 17:47 (NIV)

When we stop following, we put the battle into our own hands. When we stop following, we take the plan for the day and put it into our own hands. It doesn’t belong in our hands. It belongs in the Lord’s hands and He will give the victory

Lesson 3: It’s Not All About the Footwork

You know, I want it to be all about the footwork. Because I can get the footwork down. Slow, quick, quick. Slow, quick, quick. The footwork is the easy part. Michael is always telling us that the reason we take lessons isn’t to learn the footwork, we could get that from a video. The reason we take lessons is to learn style – to put the polish on the footwork.

What he’s talking about is adding passion to dance. Putting our feet in the right place at the right time is just a small part of dancing. An important one, but still a small one.

When we translate that into our walk with the Lord, we say that it’s not all about the fundamentals. The fundamentals are important – reading our Bibles daily, praying, serving, being thankful, worshipping, tithing, and many other things – they’re the fundamentals – they’re getting our feet in the right place at the right time. They’re very important, but it’s not all about the footwork – it’s not all about the fundamentals. It’s about the passion of the dance – it’s loving the Lord with our whole heart. It’s serving Him whole heartedly.

King David gave this advice to his son Solomon as he was handing over the plans for building the Lord’s temple:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him.
1 Chronicles 28:9a (NLT)

That’s more than footwork. Learn to know your God intimately.

Lesson 4: It Takes Practice to Get it Right

We’re taking lessons because we want to know how to dance well. I’m shocked that we’ve spent the bulk of our lessons learning one dance. I would have guessed we could learn the rhumba in about three weeks. Yet here we are at week ten and we’re still learning the rhumba. The more we practice, the better we get.

The same is true in our spiritual life. Somehow we have the expectation that we ought to be good at it immediately. After all, we love the Lord – shouldn’t the rest come naturally. Uh – no. It didn’t for the Apostle Paul:

15I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22I love God’s law with all my heart. 23But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Romans 7:15-23 (NLT)

Yes, I don’t really understand it – I want my feet and my body to go one direction, but they repeatedly go the other way. Well, on the dance floor, it’s not that big a deal. But in life, much more so. Yet living the life God wants us to live doesn’t come naturally. Sinning comes naturally. Living in holiness takes practice and requires listening to the Holy Spirit. Don’t be disheartened when you don’t get it right the first time. Keep practicing!

4 Lessons from the Ballroom:

Lesson 1: Stand Tall
Lesson 2: Follow the Leader
Lesson 3: It’s Not All About the Footwork
Lesson 4: It Takes Practice to Get it Right

Let me encourage you, friends, to live out my ballroom lessons in your spiritual life. God is worth it.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

The humble shall see their God at work and be glad;
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.
Psalm 69:32 (NLT/NKJV)

A seeking heart is not simply a curious heart. Rather, it is a heart that approaches God with purpose and intent. Curiosity is simply a “wondering.” I wonder what’s at the end of this road. I wonder if that dog is friendly. We may begin our pursuit with a wondering – does He exist? Is He real? Will He answer me? God will respond to our wonderings – our curiosity, but only to a point. He will reveal a bit of Himself to the curious. But if we truly want to know God, we must move beyond curiosity to humility and obedience.

Satisfying our curiosity is something we do for entertainment and amusement. While God will provide entertainment and amusement, we don’t seek Him for that. We seek Him because He is worthy of our attention, praise and obedience. Curiosity is me-focused (satisfying myself); it carries a degree of arrogance in it. Seeking God is God-focused. A heart that seeks God recognizes the difference and approaches God in humility.

Let me pause here to say that there is a kind of curiosity that is truly innocent and child-like. That curiosity is filled with awe and it honors God. Curiosity in adults has been tainted by our sin and it places a distance between the one being curious and the thing being sought. It carries inside it a degree of arrogance that places the seeker above the thing being sought. Child-like curiosity is the very opposite. As we mature in Christ, He transforms our curiosity into child-like curiosity. That transformation occurs as our degree of humility grows.

The humble shall see their God at work and be glad;
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.
Psalm 69:32 (NLT/NKJV)

The humble heart recognizes that He is the Creator and we are the created. It recognizes that we are but dust and He is all glory. It knows that He is King and we are His servants. We may not always act that way, but it is truth. If we want to know God we must seek Him with the proper attitude. He holds the power of life and death. We ought to tremble with both anticipation and fear as we approach Him; not simply with curiosity at what we might find.

As we develop a humble heart, we are being transformed into the image of Christ. Jesus described Himself as being “humble and gentle at heart” (Matthew 11:29). We not only honor God when we seek Him in humility, we become like Him.

An Obedient Heart
A heart that seeks God is a heart that desires – plans – to be obedient to Him. Samuel provides an excellent illustration of this. Samuel’s mother had been barren many years until God gave her a son whom she named Samuel. When Samuel was weaned, she gave him back to God and he grew up in the tabernacle being mentored and discipled by the priest Eli.

2One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. 3The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God.

4Suddenly the LORD called out, “Samuel!”

“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 5He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
1 Samuel 3:2-5 (NLT)

This happened two additional times. Each time God called, Samuel immediately “got up and ran to Eli.” Samuel was sleeping when this happened, but when he heard his name called, he immediately inconvenienced himself and ran to be obedient. He didn’t roll over thinking “I’ll deal with it in the morning.” He was immediately obedient. It was in his heart to be so.

A heart that seeks God – one that wants to know Him more and more each day – will have the same disposition. Samuel was new at this – he didn’t know it was the Lord calling him, but his heart was already prepared to be obedient. After this happened two additional times Eli realized that God was calling Samuel’s name. He told Samuel to respond to the Lord when he called again.

And the LORD came and called [a fourth time] as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10 (NLT)

Samuel has been quickly obedient to run to Eli each time he heard his name called. He was then obedient to Eli by responding to God when he heard his name called a fourth time. What is interesting about Samuel’s response to God is the word “listening.” It is the Hebrew word shama (pronounced shaw-ma’). It means to listen or hear with an intention to obey. What Samuel really said to God was “Your servant is listening and ready to obey.”

A heart that seeks God is one that has a predisposition to obey. God rewards obedience. No, our salvation is not based on our performance – our salvation, spending eternity with God in heaven, is based on our faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. It is based on asking His forgiveness for the sins we’ve committed and placing our trust in Jesus who already paid the penalty for those sins. Period. Yet…God rewards our obedience. The Bible is as clear about that point as it is about faith being the sole requirement for salvation.

If you want to know God more, you must be willing to be more obedient. When He calls, run to obey. You will see Him perform things through you and you will get to know Him in a deeper and more wonder-ful way. It will build in you a more humble heart. It will cause you to seek Him more with a heart filled with child-like curiosity – a heart filled with awe and wonder.

God doesn’t speak because He likes the sound of His voice! He speaks to get our attention and to teach us or give us an assignment. The Lord’s voice is precious…don’t waste it!

Fortunately, He is willing to speak to us again if we’ve ignored Him in the past (and we all have at some point or another). Repent of having “deaf ears” and “slow obedience” in the past and ask Him to speak to you again. Then listen closely for His voice and when He speaks, respond as Samuel did “Lord, your servant is shama.”

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Be Still and Know that I am God
Psalm 46:10a (NLT)

A personal retreat provides a great opportunity to refocus, re-center, and refresh our life. TheChristianMediator.com says it this way:

When we’re being pulled in so many directions, we may become fragmented, losing our clear focus and purpose.  We begin to play catch up, trying to put out fuses, or just keep our heads above water.  We become reactive instead of proactive.  The principles of God, that we have built our life upon, become a little shaky and we begin to rely on our own human understanding instead of divine wisdom.  Striving replaces resting in Christ and often times, over exhaustion of our minds and physical bodies set in.  In other words, we become a hot mess mentally, physically, and spiritually.
from http://www.thechristianmeditator.com/christianprayerretreat.html

I love the author’s description. Phil put it this way after taking a personal weekend retreat at a local convent.

It was like someone washed the slate of my heart, soul and mind clean. It seemed like every day it gets written on and prayer and our time with God takes an eraser and rubs away the dirt, but that dirty, chalky residue is still there. During the retreat, it was all washed clean.

It’s interesting that after only a weekend of personal retreat Phil reported finding the traffic on the drive home jarring and the television intrusive.

Such experiences are wonderful for the soul…but it can be difficult (impossible?) to build several days alone with God into our schedules. That doesn’t mean we have to go without a personal retreat. While at least a full day is best, you can retreat with God in just a few hours. I experience a mini-retreat with God most Saturday mornings. I have the luxury of not having children who need care and I specifically set aside Saturday mornings to be with God. I guard that time carefully. It’s in my calendar and I don’t schedule something else in its place without recognizing that I am making a choice.

You cannot appreciate the true value of a retreat alone with God until you’ve experienced one. Let me encourage you to give it a try, though. You will walk away from the retreat with an uncharacteristic peace and calm about you. It’s a bit like a relaxing vacation on steroids because not only will you be relaxed, you’ll have met with God. Can there be anything more worthwhile? Can there be anything more exciting? Can there be anything more rewarding? Obviously, the answer to those rhetorical questions is “no.”

Here are some tips for making the most of your time away with God.

  • Approach your time apart with the Lord with the right perspective – have a right purpose. While the benefits of spending time away with God are many, they shouldn’t be the purpose of your retreat. The purpose of your retreat ought to be spending time away with God. Don’t go into the retreat with a list of things you expect Him to do for you. Approach it as you would approach dinner with a friend – that is, looking forward to spending time together, sharing the details of your lives and enjoying one another’s company. This is relationship building time.
  • Have a plan. This may seem counter-intuitive to the first point, but it’s really not. Having a plan simply directs your activity (or non-activity) during the retreat. If you’re not accustomed to taking time away with God, you may be uncomfortable with the time. Your plan will ease you into the retreat. You don’t have to stick to the plan if the Lord leads otherwise, but having a plan ensures you don’t spend your time staring at the walls or playing Solitaire. Having a planned start time will keep you from putting it off or getting caught up in other things. Your personal retreat with God is a very special date – who wants to be late for a date with their special someone?
  • Don’t over-plan. You want to include plenty of time to hear from God, so don’t over-plan with things that keep you busy. God doesn’t rush through thing. He does expand time to allow us to do more than it seems we should be able to do (and I don’t know how He does that, but it sure is cool!). But he doesn’t rush time. And spending time with Him shouldn’t rush from one activity to the next.
  • Include as many of the following things in your plan as time allows. If you have a whole day or more, you can enjoy al these activities with God. If you have only a few hours, limit your activities to just a few.
    • Worshipping through music. Have some idea of songs you might listen to and/or worship with.
    • Reading Scripture. I recommend reading it aloud at least part of the time. Hearing God’s Word can have a very different impact on us than simply reading it.
    • Prayer. Remember to include time to listen to God, not just talk to Him. Let Him speak to you.
    • Journaling in some way. Most people write or type their journal, but if you are an artist journal in pictures. If you enjoy scrapbooking, build time into your plan to journal the retreat in a scrapbook.
    • Enjoying His creation. This can be as simple as enjoying flowers in a vase to taking a nature hike to watching the snow fall or the puffy white clouds float by. Do something to connect to the awesome creative side of God’s nature.
    • Studying Scripture. There’s a difference between reading Scripture and studying it. Take some time to study a small passage in depth.
    • Closing time. A good retreat is hard to walk away from. Include time at the end of your plan to enjoy God and thank Him for meeting with you.
  • Be flexible. Don’t move from one activity to another simply because your plan says it’s time to do so. Move from one activity to the next when you feel a release from God or a “finished-ness” about the current activity. This is a no-pressure event. Accomplishing your plan isn’t your goal. Meeting with God is your goal.
  • Don’t let food be a distraction. Many recommend that you fast during a retreat. That can be very good. It can also be just fine to eat lightly during the retreat. There are times when I find fasting to be a distraction from meeting with God. There are other times when fixing food and eating is a distraction from God. Follow the Lord’s leading and don’t feel guilty about your choices.

Of course the most important tip I can give you is to just do it!

Retreats are a time when we stop everything and pay attention to God. Give it a try. He’s worth it.

Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.
1 Samuel 3:9 (NLT)

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The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)

Tuesday morning was a little unusual. During the week I do my morning devotions at my desk in my home office. Tuesday I was reading more than usual, but not really directed reading as I normally would. I was a bit spacey, bouncing from one thing to another. At one point, I felt like I wasn’t really “done” but didn’t know what else I was to be doing. Duh – you think maybe pray a bit more…but I didn’t – like I said, I was spacey. Instead I opened my internet browser with the thought of checking email and beginning my workday. Pandora began playing “Word of God Speak” by MercyMe and the song just laid me out. From the first phrase of the song I was arrested and focused on the Lord.

It’s been a strange week in general with me being in the office alone most of the time. Chalk it up to the end of summer when everyone has so many other things going and work being slower than usual. (It’s a wonderful thing when these two events coincide.) Thursday afternoon I was diligently working away when I realized that the office was unusually quiet. Yes, I was the only one there, but sometimes the quiet seems quieter and this was one of those times. So again opened Pandora. Almost immediately, “Word of God Speak” was played. Again, I was stopped in my tracks.

This morning I woke up singing the song.

Do you think God is trying to tell me something? I hope so. I don’t know what yet, despite pausing each time He got my attention. That’s OK. Sometimes (often times?) it takes more than a pause to hear the Lord. I’ve set aside a good chunk of the day on Saturday to hear the Lord speak. I pray His schedule will be on my schedule. 🙂 But even if it isn’t, He’s got my attention and I’m listening.

Perhaps He wants your attention, too. Tune your ears to hear the Word of the Lord.

So this morning I went looking for the song on YouTube. I found this and I love the intermingling of Scripture with images while the song provides the background. There are some great verses about God’s Word in this video. Watch and listen. Or perhaps listen, then watch and listen.

As I watched, however, A verse that is not included here came to mind. It’s not included because it’s not really a verse about the Word of God. But it is…Read tomorrow’s blog for more on that special verse. In the meantime, spend just a few minutes with God…Watch and listen. Or perhaps listen, then watch and listen.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the July/August bookmark.

Share with others what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you begin to enjoy summer!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the July/August 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the August Reading Plan Here

Here’s the August reading plan:

Aug 2012 Resting at the River's Edge Reading Plan JPG

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the July/August bookmark.

Share with others what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you begin to enjoy summer!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the July/August 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the July Reading Plan Here

Here’s July’s reading plan:

Comments Comments Off on Resting at the River’s Edge July 2012 Reading Schedule

There is only one man God referred to as “a man after my own heart” – King David. Wow! What a way to be known by God! We know that the King was not without his flaws and not without sin, but what earned him the title of “a man after my own heart” was his deep, passionate love for God. God saw into King David’s heart and knew that he had found a friend – someone who would stand by His side forever.

King David was a bit of a renaissance man –

  • Mighty in battle – of course, there’s the story of killing Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and then there’s the refrain that ate at Saul’s heart – “Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his ten thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7)
  • A great King of Israel
  • A true friend – to Jonathan (1 Samuel 18) and then his son Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9)
  • An inventor of musical instruments (Nehemiah 12)
  • An extravagant worshipper of God (2 Samuel 16)
  • A songwriter and poet (the Psalms of David)

That’s quite a contrast – a man of war, a great administrator and a poet! One of King David’s Psalms is described by Matthew Henry, a favorite commentator of many, as being “like none of the rest; it excels them all, and shines brightest in this constellation.” He goes on to describe it as “David’s pious and devout exclamations, the short and sudden breathings and elevations of his soul to God.”

With that as a backdrop, it seems appropriate, even beneficial to study this Psalm. What you’ll find is that such a study will be quite different from most because the Psalm is quite different from all others. It is more than twice as long as any other Psalm, and is written in a distinctive manner.

The psalm of the hour is Psalm 119. Matthew Henry goes on to describe the Psalm:

“The composition of it is singular and very exact. It is divided into twenty-two parts, according to the number of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and each part consists of eight verses, all the verses of the first part beginning with Aleph [the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet], all the verses of the second with Beth [the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet], and so on, without any flaw throughout the whole psalm.”

Archbishop Tillotson says, “It seems to have more of poetical skill and number in it than we at this distance can easily understand. Some have called it the saints’ alphabet; and it were to be wished we had it as ready in our memories as the very letters of our alphabet, as ready as our A B C.”

In other words…it’s a worthwhile read.

I find it fascinating that when King David decided to put pen to paper in this unique Psalm, when he wanted to write a poem or song that started each verse with a different letter of the alphabet and worked through all the letters, from A to Z (so to speak), the subject he chose to write about is God’s Word. It wasn’t God’s grace or His mercy or His compassion or His love. It was His Word. David’s love for God was so deep and so passionate, that David loved each Word that came from Him.

Reading through the Psalm, you’ll find that David uses many different words to describe God’s Word: statutes, laws, commands, word. King David loved the Lord and he loved God’s Word. As I read Psalm 119 – all 176 verses of it (!), three themes stand out:

David’s love of and delight in God’s Word
The value of God’s Word
David’s request that God teach him from His Word

As we look at a few verses related to each theme, I’m sure you’ll find some that are quite familiar to you. And as we look at them together, I’m praying that God will use David’s words to ignite a love for God’s Word in each of us.

David’s love of and delight in God’s Word

Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.
(Verse 24)

David describes God’s statutes – His laws – as a delight! They are not burdensome as some might consider them, they are a delight. We’ll see why when we look at what David says about their value.

David is so confident in God’s statutes that he uses them as counselors. In other words, he uses them to help make decisions.

The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
(Verse 72)

Is God’s Law more precious to you than your gold and silver? More precious than your job and paycheck? When that’s true, we act differently on the job. We are better employees in most ways – because we are obedient to God’s laws about respecting our employers, working diligently and honestly, and being kind and having a positive attitude.

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
(Verse 97)

Oh, to have the love for God’s law that David had. Lord, help me to meditate on it all day long! Help me to keep it in my mind while I work through my days.

The value of God’s Word

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
(Verse 1)

Those who follow God’s laws are blessed. It’s the simple principle of sowing and reaping. Living according to God’s laws puts us in a position to receive His tremendous blessings. Conversely, walking outside God’s laws opens us not only to reap the consequences of our choices, but also to being more vulnerable to attacks by satan.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
(Verse 11)

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts keeps us from sinning. Memorizing Scripture and meditating on it helps us to make right choices.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
(Verse 105)

God’s Word shows us the way we should go. It illuminates our thinking opening creative options when all ways seem blocked.

David’s request that God teach him from His Word

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
(Verse 18)

Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
(verses 33 and 34)

Notice that David promises to follow God’s laws as God leads him in greater understanding of them. With such a valuable resource, David understands that simply reading God’s Word and not obeying it is a travesty and an affront to God.

Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
(Verse 73)

Scripture describes us as “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). David understood that the One who created man is worthy of man’s obedience. He also knew that God didn’t create man and then walk away – He remains actively involved in our world and in our lives if we invite Him in.

All of this leads David to one final overriding theme: Praise for God and His Word.

I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love,
and I meditate on your decrees.
(verse 48)

Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
(verse 54)

I like this verse. It challenges me to rejoice over God’s Laws no matter what my circumstances are – wherever I happen to be lodging at the moment, Lord, let me rejoice in Your Laws.

At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
(verses 62 and 164)

Your word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens.
(Verse 89)

Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are they joy of my heart.
(verse 111)

Wow! Another verse that I love. God’s Laws are the joy of David’s heart and are so rich that he considers them his heritage – his inheritance – that thing of value that has been passed down through the generation, preserved and passed on to him. They are an inheritance that, when made his own, enabled David to have a lasting legacy.

They can do the same for us. Whether God’s Word was an inheritance you received from your parents or one you are building for those who follow after you, when you treasure God’s Word as David did, it brings wisdom and joy that enables you to live a life that goes beyond what you might even begin to accomplish in the natural. There’s one more verse I love that applies here:

To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.
(Verse 96)

Everything in this life, even those things that are perfect here on earth, has limits. Everything except that which comes from God. His commands are without limits. His Word is without limits – boundless – and they open opportunities for us to have boundless influence.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to partner with You to impact my world and beyond. Teach me Your ways so that I might know You better.

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