Monday, March 24, 2014

1 Samuel 5-8

The Philistines have stolen the ark of God from the Israelites (God's chosen people), and they try putting it Dagon's temple in 1 Samuel 5-8.  It turns out, that wasn't such a good idea.  The Lord makes His presence and power known among the Philistines, and it's clear that God is not happy with them.  Wherever the Philistines try to put the ark of God, God brings devastation to the people.  So after seven months, the Philistines realize they need to return the ark with a guilt offering for God.  Samuel steps in to intercede for the Israelites by helping them repent and return their hearts back to God.  And by the end of 1 Samuel 8, the Philistines have left the Israelites alone, and God's people are asking for a king to rule over them despite Samuel's prophetic warnings.  There's a lot going on in God's country!

The Israelites go through rough times with the Philistines in today's reading.  It seems to take these rough times to open the Israelites' hearts to our loving God.  Samuel steps in and calls them to "clean up their act," so to speak, and repent.  Not only does he want them to confess their sins verbally, he wants them to get rid of all the "things" they have been "worshiping" instead of God.

The Israelites have been in this terrible cycle for a while now.  They turn their hearts away from God, lots of bad things happen and they become miserable, and then they come crawling back to God in repentance.  God is there for them every single time they willingly give Him their time and attention.

In the middle the Israelites' struggles, Samuel reminds all of us, as Christ followers, how important it is to hold onto our faith every single day, to keep on giving our hearts and minds to God, no matter what else is going on around us, no matter what everyone else is doing.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[a] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

Recognizing our constant need for God's help and following His will are true and trustworthy game changers in this life we are living.  It was for the Israelites, and it is still that way for us today.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for forgiving my sins and saving me through Your Son, Jesus.  Transform my heart each day with Your powerful love.  I want to hold on to my faith and follow You.  

Where do you need me to go for You today?  What do you need me to do?  Who do you need me to reach?  Show me Your way.  

You are my real help, my Rock, and my Redeemer.  

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

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