Reading the Bible in Three Years

I Samuel 17 (September 10)

                                                                     In his Name

            “...but I come to you in the name of the Lord...”

            Goliath the giant was truly what they call, a “freak of nature.”  He was almost as tall as two basketball players combined; and stronger than two offensive linemen from any football team.

            David, on the other hand, was a young boy and inexperienced in the art of war. There has never been a more disproportionate and one-sided fight than this. Here was a shepherd boy in front of the tallest, meanest and most evil warrior in the world.

            Interestingly, most of life’s problems present themselves to us in this way.  These problems appear to be gigantic, threatening and almost invincible.  In many instances we are invaded by feelings of inadequacy and believe that we are like small “locusts” before our “big” problems.

            We would have a reason to feel this way if we were alone in this world. We wouldn’t have any chance to defeat our enemies; for who can fight against a giant, a demon or an unexpected trial by themselves and expect to win? No one.

            The key for victory is found in the glorious name of our Lord.  When we face our problems in his NAME, we have all the power, strength and authority of God on our side.  We may be small and insignificant like David, but with God by our side we are more than conquerors---we are invincible.

            Are you facing any “giant” today? Are the problems of life dragging you down? I cannot promise you that troubles will fade away, but I am convinced that if we trust in the name of the Lord, we can face anything that comes our way and His name.  

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I Samuel 16 (September 9)

                                                                Beyond Appearances

             “...but the Lord looks on the heart.”           

             Appearances can be deceiving, or so they say.  An outwardly appealing apple may be rotten inside; just as an odd looking dish could very well be, the most delicious meal you have ever tasted.           

            Most of us have been bitten by the “snake of deceit.” We have fallen for silly temptations. We have been betrayed by so-called friends, and who has not suffered heartache from a romantic failure?           

            On the other hand, we have been positively surprised by people we thought were our enemies.  Behind those serious and intimidating faces, we have found a tender heart and a friend.        

            In the spiritual realm we must make an effort to always look beyond mere appearances.  A suit, tie, haircut, and a Bible in our hands, does not make us better Christians---just (maybe) better looking.          

           The quality of our faith and devotion to God, is not measured by external factorssuch as grooming and overall “godly” appearances.  Some of the most dedicated Christian men I know, would not be welcomed in some congregations because of their long hair, tattoos, dress style and earrings.     

           The fact is that God looks on the heart and we should look at the fruits of the heart, instead of criticizing (the odd), or admiring (the good) appearances.  If a brother or sister loves Jesus with all their hearts, yet do not look as “saintly” as you do, praise God for them and treat them to a make-over…if they want one.

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1 Samuel 14 (September 7)

                                                                Under the Moon

            “... for he has worked with God today.”

            The goal of every Christian should be to walk with our God every single day of our lives.  Every morning, God waits for us to hold His hand and begin another day with Him.  Every night, God also expects our undivided attention; to examine the victories or defeats of the day.

            These nocturnal reflections are very beneficial and valuable to our souls.  At the close of each day, it is highly advantageous for our spiritual health, to open our hearts in the presence of the Almighty and allow his Spirit to purge every impurity from our hearts or minds. 

            This exam must be as thorough as possible to be effective.  We can meditate silently, or ask questions such as,

            “How many times did I sin today?”

            “Was I faithful in my walk with God?”

            “Did I do what was right in every situation?”

            “Could I have been better?”

            “Could I have done better?”

            In these and other questions we should meditate, when the moon rules in the sky. The purpose of this spiritual probe is for us to know ourselves a little bit better, in order to ascertain what our weaknesses are. Once we know the “sickness,” we can ask God for help to change or improve these areas.  God will lead us to reject that which is bad, and to repeat and improve that which is holy and good.

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I Samuel 15 (September 8)

                                                    Disobedient Sacrifices

            Surely to obey is better than sacrifice…

            This is the story of a disobedient little crab that shall remain nameless to protect his identity. This was indeed a reprobate crab, since he was not prone to listen to advice or to respond to correction. Every morning he was warned by his mother,

            “Remember not to go in the water. You still do not know how to swim!”

            The crab, being rebellious, chose to “forget” his mother’s words. Looking at the beautiful blue sea with its attractive waves, he decided to disobey her warning. To the sea he went, without stopping to consider the consequences or risks of his daring action. He was so happy in his adventure that he became convinced his mother was wrong. At that precise moment, an enormous pelican captured the crab and would have eaten him were it not for a miraculous escape.

            When the little crab returned home (late), he noticed that his mother was furious and ready to punish him for being so disobedient. Not even with an expensive gift was he able to calm her righteous indignation.

            Saul, the first king of Israel, behaved just like the little crab. He thought he could please God with gifts and sacrifices. At the same time, he disobeyed God. For this reason God began to dislike “disobedient” sacrifices and offerings.

            If we do not obey Jesus, our sacrifices and activities will not bring joy to the Lord. God seeks a submissive and obedient heart that is willing to obey Him with love. In such a believer is our Lord well pleased, for sacrifices without obedience are as satisfying to Jesus as the kiss he received from Judas.

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1 Samuel 13 (September 6)

                                                           The Expectation of Hatred

            “...Israel had become odious to the Philistines...”

            King Saul had been reigning for two years and so far, he had not had any conflict with the Philistines. But one day, Saul and his son Jonathan attacked their hated neighbors.  This action resulted in the immediate hatred of the Philistines, who from that moment on became declared enemies of Israel.

            If this sounds too violent for you, or if you think that you will never have conflicts with your enemies, I have news for you!  The moment we decide to live publicly for Christ, conflicts and afflictions will come knocking at our door. I wish this were not true and that I would have “better” news for you, but the Bible declares that Christians will always have enemies on this earth.

            The life of Christ in us, “attacks” and offends those who live in darkness.  If we also decide to add a healthy dose of evangelism to our godly testimony, we can be assured of the hatred of the “Philistines” of this world.

            Will everyone hate us?  Certainly not!

            Do we need to practice “aggressive” evangelism?  It depends.

            If by aggressive, we mean an active and faithful proclamation of the gospel, then by all means!  If on the other hand this word refers to a verbal assault, or lack of consideration on our part; then we must refrain from becoming odious to others. 

            Before we preach to unbelievers, we should listen to them in an effort to minister to their needs.  Nevertheless, we must continue to shine brightly for Jesus --- regardless of the consequences.

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