Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, May 6 ~ tammi

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 28-29; Luke 23:26-56.

In today's reading we have the beginning of the end of Saul.  We find him rallying his troops for war against the Philistines (yet again!), and being terrified, begging God for direction.  But because he had not cared about God's will earlier in life, God remains silent now.  Saul panics.  He had evidently made a great show of righteousness by banning any and all mediums and spiritists at some point, but now he turns in desperation to a medium to try and contact Samuel.  Though he had removed the sin of witchcraft from the land, he had not removed it from his heart.  Denouncing sin is good; but it only makes a difference if it affects our hearts.

I think we also learn from this account that it's important to MAINTAIN a close relationship with God.  We cannot pick and choose which of His standards we'll follow and which ones we'll pretend don't exist.  We can't expect guidance from God if half the time, we ignore it.  We need to immerse ourselves in His Word so that it can shape our lives, help us make wise decisions, and so we can know the heart of God.  If we aren't even willing to spend time getting to know God's heart and will through the written Word that He's given us, we cannot expect to receive His help in random situations.  That's just not how relationships work!

Then we have, in contrast, a very definite display of God at work in the life of David, who's become very close with one of the Philistine kings during his self-imposed, life-preserving exile.  Achish wants David to accompany him in battle against the Israelites.  This puts David in the VERY precarious position of meeting his fellow countrymen on the battlefield and deciding either to fight against the army he will one day command, or betray a friend and break his vow.  Mercifully, God removes him from the situation completely so he doesn't even have to decide when the other Philistine kings vote to disallow his involvement. (although tomorrow we'll see that this raised other challenges for David!)

In Luke, we have the crucifixion of Jesus.  I think the thing that really stands out for me about this portion of the crucifixion story is the change of heart experienced during Christ's time on the cross by the centurion and the one thief who was crucified beside Him.  Jesus was on the cross for about 6 hours before He died, and during that time, most of the few things He said expressed His love and concern for others.  I wonder if this is what changed those men's hearts?  How could it not change your heart if you'd overseen the crucifixion process and then heard the voice of the victim, clear and compassionate, begging God to forgive you?

Matthew and Mark both indicate that "those crucified with Christ also mocked Him," so the repentant thief ridiculed and reviled Him as much as anyone else at the beginning of the ordeal.  But at some point, while hanging on that horrible cross, he transitioned from mocker to follower.  I can't help but think it was the INCOMPARABLE way that Jesus looked to the concerns of others as He hung there that made the difference.

I think that's why it's so important to cling to God in tough times; to persevere in our desire to honour and glorify Him regardless of our circumstances. When things are going well, it's not remarkable to hear Christians say they love God and that they believe He is good. Anyone can do that. But when life is falling apart and we are proclaiming through our tears "yet will I praise Him!"...

...THAT'S what makes God look AWESOME to the onlooking, unbelieving world!

Tomorrow's passages: 1 Samuel 30-31; Luke 24:1-35


Miriam said...

"Denouncing sin is good; but it only makes a difference if it affects our hearts." So true.

I also love the response of Jesus to the thief who asked Jesus to remember him. "Together in paradise." Wouldn't that just be awesome? No matter what we go through here on earth, we have that hope of being together with Jesus in PARADISE. Amazing.

TammyIsBlessed said...

when life is falling apart and we are proclaiming through our tears "yet will I praise Him!"...
Exactly our experience during the last month with our ordeal with Baret. And much to our joy, it seems that God will be glorified through Baret's life, instead of his death.

Jesus was truly incomparable - loved that Revive our Hearts series.

Pamela said...

Great post. I actually find it amazing that the one criminal did not try and repent. It's sad that even at the bitter end of his life, he chose to turn away instead of towards the one that could save him.