Devotional 43: You Shall Recover All

1 Samuel 30:1-8

David’s Conflict with the Amalekites

30 Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?”

And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.

Losses come in two forms: the first is through attrition and time, when we lose our ancestors, and the loss is felt more keenly the more we know and love them. This is why great-grandparents hold such esteem among us, and is considered a title and age to be honored by their descendants.

The second is through the nature of man: greed and the love of money, jealousy, hatred, and we don’t understand why, if we’re good people our Lord will not always shield us from such.

But Jesus tells us the world hates us because it hated Him first, and it hates Him because He testifies that its work are evil.

Yet the plan of the Father is redemption, and so was here with David, and so it shall be with us. The one thing that was consistent with David was that whenever he was victorious, he sought the Lord first. Coming home to find all you’ve loved, worked and fought for taken from you by an enemy is a crushing thing, and David, flaws and all, was as human as the lowliest soldier in his army.

David returns home after being rejected by the Philistines to find the city burned and everything stolen. He weeps with his people, and when that’s over, his people talk of killing him because he led the men from home and they weren’t there to protect their own.

He was the king, and he’d left their gates open to the enemy. Like true thieves, the Amalekites came when no strong man was there, they captured the weak, and took what  belonged to the king and his people.

This was an indictment against David, who had a reputation of being strong and might, feared, and a brilliant strategist. If ever there was a moment for a man to despair, this was it, but David knew where his help came from.

v6 But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Do we believe God is control of our circumstances, even if we suffer loss? Do we believe he reins in what Satan is allowed to do to us? Consider, this is the only time we’re told that there was a raid with no slaughter, just thievery. Everyone they lost was still alive. Who kept them all safe, that David would recover all?

How odd that an Egyptian would fall sick and be left behind, and in the countryside, just happens to come across the king looking for the men who attacked his home, and this man just so happens to know where the troops are…

When we seek G-d first for answers, He honors our faith.

When we are told to pursue, we get what He’s set aside for us to have; it has been preserved for us, but we must take action. G-d did not put a change of heart in the Amalekites to suddenly come back with everyone and drop them off. David still had to go, though he was sad, tired, and angry.

When we too are done shaking our fist, grinding our teeth, and rending our garments in times and moments we don’t understand, surrounded by people who are out to destroy us from within and without, we must still go.

And the Father promises, we shall surely recover all, with increase for our faith. David took back what belonged to Him, and the Amalekites. Moses led the Hebrews out with increase after all those years of slavery.

Nothing will ever be missing, or dead, when we recover all.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, if I am to pursue according to Your word, give me the strength to pursue. As your servant David said, ‘I am poor and needy,’ and I am of little faith. 

You are the G-d of eternity who redeems our times when we’ve gone astray, and You keep and preserve all that You have for us until we are found ready to receive, or worthy of the prize. 

When my works are tested, I will weep at the loss of reward for I know that among them is stubble, good for nothing, and times of fruitlessness where I was cursed. I know that I have not only grieved Your Spirit, but I’ve broken the heart of the Son, and made You turn Your eyes, for You cannot look on sin.

Yet You see the end of my days, and my future is a memory to You. So I ask that You walk with me as I pursue, and help me to perceive the signposts, my Egyptians, my markers of stone, my altars, my pillars of cloud and fire, that I may finish the work You’ve called me to do.

And in so doing, I shall recover all that was mine and the enemy’s by the power of Your right hand.

In the Name of Jesus I ask it, believing I’ve received.

Amen.

 

Christmas Lights

Luke 2:9

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”

A light from Heaven suddenly overtakes you.

In your world, this has never happened. It’s night time, and you’re outside, and suddenly….

We have the gift of hindsight, but the shepherds were afraid. Greatly afraid.

Did they cry out, shield their eyes, maybe even start to run? Yet, the light was not hurting them, or blinding them, or burning them. It was just sudden.

He is the God of “suddenly.”

Remember the conversion of Saul? In Acts 9:3 we read:

“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.” 

We are admonished to “walk in the light, as He is in the light.” (John 1:7)

May the light of God surround you with peace, and change your life, your heart, with the news of the blessed birth of our Savior. It really doesn’t matter what day, it matters that it happened.

“The people walking in darkness, have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”  (Isaiah 9:2)

Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters.

Devotional 33: I Was No Prophet

Amos 7:10-16

 Amaziah’s Complaint

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said:

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
And Israel shall surely be led away captive
From their own land.’”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos:

“Go, you seer!
Flee to the land of Judah.
There eat bread,
And there prophesy.
13 But never again prophesy at Bethel,
For it is the king’s sanctuary,
And it is the royal residence.”

14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:

“I was no prophet,
Nor was I a son of a prophet,
But I was a sheepbreeder[a]
And a tender of sycamore fruit.
15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,
And the Lord said to me,
‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’
16 Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord:
You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’

The one thing I love about the Father is his consistency.

Time and again he pulls from the rag pile and sends out the most unlikely people to do the work he requires, knowing they will obey, telling them not to be afraid, shoring them up with the power of the Holy Spirit and righteous indignation.

Amos is about as unlikely a prophet as they come, but we know he’s a prophet of G-d, because the prophets of G-d never failed to get the attention of kings and rulers, from Moses to Micah.

The reactions of said kings and rulers also seldom deviated, usually prompted by their right-hand men. In the case of Amos, it’s Amaziah, used to the intrigues of court and dealing with men of wealth, power and influence, as well as having the king’s ear.

He summarily dismisses, banishes and threatens Amos in the same breath, and cites the fact that the prophet stands in the king’s sanctuary and residence.

But as read in Psalm 24: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and those who dwell therein.”

Amos, being obedient to the Father’s call despite his lack of clerical credentials, answers Amaziah with even more boldness, after reciting his credentials as a sheepherder and caretaker of fruit. By all measures of earthly success, but for the call of G-d on his life, he would have died in obscurity as a simple sheepherder and fruit picker, perhaps well-liked by his employer and fellow servants, but otherwise unknown to the world today.

“I was no prophet,
Nor was I a son of a prophet,
But I was a sheepbreeder[a]
And a tender of sycamore fruit.
15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,
And the Lord said to me,
‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’

As believers, at some point we’ve heard the Call, and suddenly found ourselves at a fork in the road that says ‘Obey’ and ‘Disobey.’ We read only of the prophets who answered the call (Jonah refused to go to Nineveh because he knew G-d would forgive them, but it was not because he doubted what G-d said).

It’s a frightening thing, and I myself have experienced it. Nothing as earth-shattering as the overrunning of a nation by a powerful enemy, but I’ve told people they had positions, and things they were looking for would be in certain places, and they’ve come to pass.

I don’t count myself a prophet by any means, but I knew when I heard from the Lord; there was a certainty that what I was saying was not coming from a place of emotion, or trying to do good in the flesh, or to impress anyone. It was simply: “Tell them____”. and I obeyed.

G-d sends out His Word, and says it will not return void:  Jonah gave the shortest sermon in recorded history, and a whole nation repented, sparing itself. But the people of Nineveh did not pass down the legacy, and eventually it was destroyed.

As the saying goes, “G-d has no grandchildren.”

In this day and age of relativism, modernism, feminism, atheism, sexual immorality and gender identity confusion, would you be obedient if the Father said, “Go into their midst and prophesy?” Would you be willing to suffer the consequences, and possibly see the fruit, as Jonah did, or would you quail at the challenge to your credentials among the learned clergy. The Pharisees were always asking Jesus, another man of humble, dubious beginnings who seemingly had no other credentials, and didn’t even practice his trade of carpentry, “By whose authority do you do these things?”

You’re in good company.

Prophesy in faith, not in yourself, but in He who sent you.

Psalm 81:10  “If you open your mouth, I will fill it.”

He did it for Moses, and Amos, and He’ll do it for you. For us.

Amaziah was appalled that this commoner spoke so rashly, and probably felt justified in thinking Amos would quail in fear when Amaziah told him where he was, but G-d responded with a harsh punishment for Amaziah instead.

Yes, we are commanded to come boldly before the throne with the torn veil, but we are also called to go out from it just as boldly, speaking Truth in love

Therefore I pray:

Let my feet hasten to where You would have me go, Father, but it will have to be You. Like Jonah, I don’t understand unconditional love and forgiveness. Nineveh staked prophets out in the unrelenting desert sun, and was known as city of every vice, and yet, the words of Your prophet changed a nation.

So too, Amos, the shepherd and fruit attendant, who spoke against King Jeroboam, who’d become a tyrant.  He also spoke against those cities who aided the vice and turned a blind to it in the name of profit.

Whatever the words you’d have me speak, whether to change a nation or a single heart, fill me with Your words, Your power, and increase my faith, that I might obey and speak boldly.

Let me not boast of that which you gave me to say, as if I did a grand thing in my own strength. I know where my help comes from.

I would be a fisher of men, and a seed-planter, and a sheaf-bringer, or a shepherd, or a fruit attendant. As Your most learned apostle said, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.” (1st Cor: 9:22), taking the same fire and zeal he used to persecute the church to advance it.

Help us to know, that we too, must suffer for your Name, and to count the cost, take up our crosses, and follow.

In the Name of Your Holy Son, and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask it.

Amen.