Being in the Word, daily, is like any other discipline. And just like any discipline, if there is a rift in your routine, it isn’t always easy to get back on track. That’s kind of how I’m feeling, this morning. Although better than the last three days, I’m still feeling pretty lousy and finding it very hard to concentrate on much of anything.
I started the morning by catching up on the Names of God devotionals that I have missed. I’m having a difficult time getting into these devotionals. They’re not bad, but I have books about the names of God that I would prefer to read over the devotionals. So, I think I’m going to unsubscribe from the daily email (hey, it was worth a try!). Once I’m done going through Divided again, I may re-read one of those books. It’s nice to be reminded of just who my God is!
I spent some time in prayer. I was hoping to hear what God would like for me to write about, today…but I did not. I wasn’t really feeling led to any particular story or Scripture, so I just asked Him to take me to where I should be. I opened up my Bible and landed on 1 Samuel 8 (Israel Asks for a King):
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.” 1 Samuel 8 (emphasis mine)
This takes me back to my Survey of the Old Testament class in college. To be honest, it was the first time I had ever spent a significant amount of time in the OT (beyond the typical stories heard in church and Sunday school). As I studied, I remember finding myself, over and over, getting frustrated with the Israelites. Why did they keep making bad choices? Why did they keep turning their backs on God who performed miracles right before their very eyes? Why did they want to put their trust in man instead of the God of the universe? For crying out loud, these people knew they were God’s chosen! And He was their God! He did lead them and go out before them and fight their battles!! There were many accounts of God delivering His people from their enemies…sometimes with little to no effort on the Israelites’ part…they just needed to trust Him. But instead, they rejected Him by asking for someone else to rule over them…even after being warned about how miserable they would eventually become.
Hmmm…as Christ followers, how many times have we done the same thing? How many times have we looked at the world around us and decided we want to be more like them instead of the set-apart people God has called us to be? How many times have we told God that what He has blessed us with isn’t good enough – that we deserve more? How many times have we relied on worldly careers, titles, money, government, etc…to help us or fulfill us? We already have a king. He’s actually the King of all kings (and prime ministers and presidents and dictators and…).
Oh, how His heart must break when we reject Him. Have you ever been rejected? Especially by someone you love with all your heart?
During my time in that class, I remember joking that if I was God, I would have destroyed the Israelites. All those times they complained, or worshiped other gods, was plenty of reason to just get rid of them. I certainly would not have sent my son to die for them!
But God did. For God so loved…
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17
He sent His Son to save a world that had continuously rejected Him…and, sadly, many will continue to do so until the day Jesus returns.
Yet…He came, anyway. Because He can see the beginning from the end – and He has always seen us as His beloved children. Even when we are throwing tantrums like toddlers or being rebellious like teenagers. He loves us, still. And would rather die than to live without us.
(Listen: To Ever Live Without Me – Jody McBrayer)
If you do not yet know Jesus Christ as your Savior, but would like to experience the love that only He can give and accept Him as the Lord of your life, the Word of God says:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10 (emphasis mine)
It’s just that simple.
If you have just made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ (welcome to the family!), I would love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org). And I will be happy to help you with next steps.