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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

29 April 2012

Week 18 Readings

April 29 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17; Psalms 1-2; 33; 127; 132
April 30 2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18
May 1    2 Samuel 10; 1 Chronicles 19; Psalms 20; 53; 60; 75
May 2    Psalms 65-67; 69; 70
May 3    2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 51
May 4    Psalms 32; 86; 102;103; 122

28 April 2012

Week 17 Review

April 22 Psalms 81; 88; 92; 93
April 23 1 Chronicles 7-9
April 24 2 Samuel 5:1-10; 1 Chronicles 11-12; Psalm 133
April 25 2 Samuel 5:11-6:23; 1 Chronicles 13-16
April 26 Psalms 15; 23; 24-25; 47
April 27 Psalms 89; 96; 100; 101; 107

This week we learned more about David, and saw the exploits of “the Three”, David’s trusted warriors. We learned about David’s taking of Jerusalem, and saw details of his 40 year reign. And most important, we see that David continues to consult God before he goes into battle. We go through the gamut of emotions in our Psalms and end on a high note – the Lord reigns!

In the story of the movement of the Ark, we learned that God’s instructions are to be followed explicitly, and in the story of Uzzah, we saw the deathly consequences of taking matters into our own hands. We watched Obed Edom store the Ark properly and receive God’s blessings for obedience.

When the Ark was in Jerusalem, the people rejoiced. I was especially moved by David’s song of God’s faithfulness.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;  tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chron 16:8-12, 29-34 (ESV)

Once again, we read many of the Psalms – songs of victory, praise, and anguish. We see the range of human emotion, and see that man hasn’t changed over the centuries.
Psalm 15 and 24 – when these are read together, we see the models of behavior and action that God wants, and
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. Psalms 15:1-5 (ESV)

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Psalms 24:3-5 (ESV)

How can we possibly live up to these requirements? We know it’s impossible alone. Only through salvation in Christ, living with the power of the Spirit, can we become holy enough for God. Friend, if you think that your good deeds will allow you passage into heaven, you are wrong. Without Jesus, it’s impossible to ascend to stand in the presence of the Almighty. If you’ve not asked Jesus into your heart, today is the day! Email me or speak to a pastor to begin your new life in Christ.

Psalm 23 – This is one of the most beloved Psalms of all time. I’m sure that you have heard it many times. Did you see the green pastures in your mind? Did you feel the Master’s hand of love and correction as you read these timeless words? Do you know that God’s rod and staff are truly a comfort? Does your cup run over with God’s mercy? Do you know that you will dwell in God’s house for eternity?

Psalm 25 – a Psalm of prayer. We see the absolute confidence we can have when we speak to God. He is faithful to hear what we have to say (1-7); to deal with our sins (8-14) and to help us through our afflictions (15-19). It concludes by asking God for mercies in walking upright and with integrity. This is another great section of Scripture to “pray through” when you don’t know that else to say to God!

Psalm 47 – a Psalm of praise – HE REIGNS!
Psalm 81 – A reminder of God’s works and faithfulness – and a lament that Israel refused to listen to God.

Psalm 88 – This Psalm was particularly moving to me. It is a cry of anguish, asking God why He seems so far away. He is going through a tremendously hard time, but even though this is a song of anguish, we see that the writer’s faith in God’s steadfastness shining through. This is a good Psalm to have on hand when you don’t know how to pray through a trial!

Psalm 89 – God’s promise to David that his throne is built for all generations. Through good times and bad, God’s steadfast love is revealed. Although David’s offspring are chosen by God, He says that they don’t get a “free ride”. If  they sin and turn away from Him, they will be punished. This is the way God operates with us, too. As a faithful Father, He loves us unconditionally but must punish us because He is holy and righteous. But through it all, we have this promise:

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel. Psalms 89:15-18 (ESV)

Psalm 92 and 93 – Contrasting with Psalm 88, we see an abundance of joy and praise for God’s deeds, righteousness and might.

Psalm 96 and 100 – Songs of right worship.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalms 96:7-9 (ESV)

Beautiful words! Do you tremble before Him? Do you ascribe the glory due to God? Or is your worship just another thing to do – an early Sunday morning meeting before the “real” business of the day starts?

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalms 100:1-5 (ESV)

Do you serve Him with gladness? Does your heart sing joyfully when you come into His presence (at church and during your prayer time)? Do you truly understand how good He is – how much He loves you – and how faithful He is? I don’t think we will completely understand worship until we enter His presence in heaven.

Psalm 101 – This Psalm shows David’s list of I wills in his daily walk. Similar to Psalm 15 and 24, it details behaviors we should model today.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. 6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord. Psalms 101:1-8 (ESV)

David makes a very serious commitment to God. We know that he wasn’t always successful, yet God called him to leadership anyway. How would your life change if you took “the David challenge” and made the same commitments he made in Psalm 101?

Psalm 107 – a long list of ways that God redeems His people. It is a great reminder that whatever our distress, God is faithful and able to walk us through it. Although we may not see immediate relief from our problems, we know that if we simply give God our problems, He is big enough to take care of them. Our problem is that we want to try to “help” God, and that usually gets us in a bigger mess than we had in the first place! Whether you are walking through a desert, feel captive by life’s circumstances, are sick, or feel like you’re drowning in life, know that He is there for you and He cares for you.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. Psalms 107:43 (ESV)

Psalm 133 – In my opinion, the first verse should be displayed everywhere that people gather for interaction! It reminds us of the way God wants us to live.

 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  Psalms 133:1 (ESV)
What have you learned from our Scripture readings this week? I’ve been reminded that it’s okay to tell God everything. It’s great to worship Him (and He requires it of me), but He wants me to pour out my heart to Him when I’m sad, or scared, or lonely, or stressed. God isn’t an insurance policy. He’s an assurance policy when I am in a relationship with Him.

What does the relationship require? We learned from Uzzah that we need to take our worship seriously, not going through the motions, but worshiping as the Creator demands. We learn from the Psalmist that the relationship includes telling God about our troubles. We learn from David that the relationship includes such joyous worship that we don’t care what others think! And we learn that God is faithful by seeing His works recounted within the early church hymns.

I pray that you are learning more about right worship, and that that knowledge will affect your worship and service in your home church. I pray that you will “enter His courts with praise” on Sunday, that you will attempt to “dwell in unity” with all you come into contact with, and that this week you will strive to not “set anything before my eyes that is worthless”.

Please take a moment to write and tell me what you are learning as we go through the Scriptures together. Which verses have encouraged you? Challenged you? Inspired you?

If you need prayer or a shoulder to lean on, please email me (or see your pastor). We need to be able to rely on each other!

See you next week.

21 April 2012

Week 16 Review

April 15 2 Samuel 1-4
April 16 Psalms 6; 9; 10; 14; 16; 21
April 17 1 Chronicles 1-2; Psalms 43-44
April 18 Psalms 49; 84; 85; 87
April 19 1 Chronicles 3-5
April 20 1 Chronicles 6; Psalms 36; 39; 77-78

Lesson #1 this week: don’t try to win the king’s favor by telling him that a rival is dead!

How can this lesson of Saul and David’s relationship possibly relate to us in 2012? That one is pretty obvious to me. If you are the “office snitch”, or the one who always wants to be first with the news or gossip, hoping to win favor, you might find that your words fall on less than happy ears.  Jesus had something to say about people who speak “truth” with motives that aren’t so pure.

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. Matt 12:34-35 (ESV)

Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matt 15:17-20 (ESV)

Do you find yourself speaking “good” with a hidden agenda? You might consider the fate of the Amalekite when he gave David the “good news” of Saul’s death!

14 April 2012

Week 15 Review

April 8 Psalms 7; 27; 31; 34; 52
April 9 Psalms 56; 120; 140-142
April 10 1 Samuel 25-27; Psalms 17, 73
April 11 Psalms 35; 54; 63; 18
April 12 1 Samuel 28-31; 1 Chronicles 10
April 13 Psalms 121; 123-125; 128-130

This week was a week full of Psalms – songs of praise, joy, anguish, fear, defeat, and hope. I find it interesting to have the Psalms interspersed and placed into their historical context.

David is being chased all over the place by Saul, who is determined to kill him. Saul was God’s anointed ruler, but because of his actions, God removed the anointing and placed the mantle on David instead. David was a superior musician, good looking, and an excellent warrior. Saul became jealous of David when the people sang about David’s ten thousands and Saul’s measly thousands. But through all the trials, David knows that God is in control.

07 April 2012

Week 14 Review

April 1 1 Samuel 1-3
April 2 1 Samuel 4-8
April 3 1 Samuel 9-12
April 4 1 Samuel 13-16
April 5 1 Samuel 17-20; Psalm 59
April 6 1 Samuel 21-24; Psalm 91

This week, we learned about Samuel. A child with a name that means “requested of the Lord”, he was dedicated to God from before his birth by his mother, Hannah. She was one of two wives of Elkanah, and he loved her most – even though she was childless. (Children were a measure of a woman’s “worth” at this point in history).  Hannah was at God’s house early one morning, praying so hard that the priest accused her of being drunk! After Samuel was weaned, Hannah did as she promised and took Samuel back to Eli. She left Samuel at the temple – truly dedicated him to the Lord!

Have you ever dedicated something to God? Have you had the faith to literally leave something at the altar in church to keep your commitment to God? I can’t even imagine the love and faith that Hannah had – her first born son left in the care of the priests because of her vow!  God honored that vow with five more children, and Hannah also had the privilege of watching her son grow up as a servant of God.

Samuel’s home was not the holy place that it should have been. Eli’s sons were corrupt and desecrated the sacrifices made by the people. Despite that, Samuel grew up wholly devoted to God. As a child, he heard the literal call of God in the night. God’s first message was not a pleasant one for Eli to hear. Because Eli couldn’t stop his sons’ behavior, the entire family would be cut out.

Israel went to battle and brought the Ark of the Covenant with them. It seems that the Ark was brought more as a talisman or good luck charm than as a representation of the Holy God.  The Israelites were defeated; the Ark was taken – and God’s promise to kill both of Eli’s sons in the same day came to pass.

The people were turning from God again. They demanded a king so that they could be more like the other nations. God granted their wish, but told the people that they wouldn’t be happy.

Have you ever “demanded” something from God – received it – and then found that what you prayed for wasn’t what you really wanted? Why would an all knowing God allow you to receive something  that wasn’t good for you?  In the answer, were you being protected by God? Did you learn your lesson?

When I was a young adult, I prayed and prayed for a car. Because of my youth, I didn’t expect to work for the car. I just informed God that He promised to give me the desire of my heart, that my current desire was a car, and that He had to keep His promise because He was God. How arrogant! After a few months of praying (but not saving to buy the car, still expecting it to show up with a clear title), I received my answer. Someone was going to give me a car! HA! SEE! I GOT GOD TO DO WHAT I WANTED! But God has a sense of humor. Yep, I got my car… but it didn’t have an engine! From that experience I learned that God does answer prayers, but that I can’t demand from Him. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

Anyway, God has Samuel anoint  Saul king. The people figure out that they have sinned in their demands:

And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22  For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24  Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”  1 Sam 12:19-25 (ESV)

A precious promise and a promise of destruction if the people turn from God! And of course, the people managed to turn from God!  During one battle, the troops ate meat with the blood still in it, which was against God’s command and a dietary restriction. Saul turned from God, and an evil spirit was sent to torment him. God used that spirit to bring David into Saul’s life. David was anointed king even before Saul died, and Saul remained king after David’s anointing. At this point in the young man’s life, he was court harpist – the only one who would calm Saul when he was being tormented by the evil spirit.

David wasn’t just a talented musician. He was also a shepherd – and a brave warrior. We see the story of David and Goliath, where the very tall Philistine taunted the Israelites for 40 days. David volunteers to kill Goliath, even though he has had no formal military training. His faith in God’s ability to lead him brought him to a place where more experienced men refused to go. With one well-placed stone, Goliath was wounded, and David cut off his head.  I see a parallel here to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness With His words, Satan’s lies were revealed, and in His death, Satan was mortally wounded. God uses the number 40 many times in the Bible – 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, a 40 day retreat for Jesus – it will be interesting to see where that number pops up throughout the year.

After David defeated Goliath, he became friends with Jonathan, Saul’s friend. Saul became jealous because God was with David, and eventually spent much time trying to kill him. David was successful not because of his military prowess, but:

And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. 1 Sam 18:14 (ESV)

We see Saul’s attacks on David, and David’s response in Psalm 59 and Psalm 91 – deliver me! You look down and see my adversaries. Consume them, so the people will know that You rule. I will sing of Your strength and joyfully proclaim Your faithfulness!

In one story, we see David and his men coming to the temple, weary from battle, and looking for food. The priest tells David all that is available is the shew-bread, consecrated to God. He asks if David and his men are ceremonially clean. David says that they are, and he and his men eat.

Jesus and His disciples were walking by a field and hungry on the Sabbath. They picked wheat, and the priests told Jesus that He was breaking the law. Jesus used David’s story as a life lesson:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Matt 12:1-8 (ESV)

The final Psalm reading this week was so touching to me. I finish with David’s words of comfort and assurance in times of trouble.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5  You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge — 10  no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:1-16 (ESV)

There was so much that stood out for me this week. What did you find most interesting? Which passages helped you deal with life this week? Leave a comment or send me an email I really want to know!

I pray your plans for Resurrection Sunday include inviting someone to church – and of course church attendance for you and your family! He is risen, indeed!