July 8, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by John Ko, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 11:1-3

Given the historical betrayal of the people of Jabesh Gilead, what is notable about them sending out messengers throughout Israel?

What is notable about them sending out messengers throughout Israel is that this is similar to the episode when a call went out previously and Jabesh Gilead had not followed and had not come to help out and obey.  They refused to come out and assist their fellow Israelites.  And now they were in the same boat and they had to ask for help and be rescued.  Given their own past response they were probably weren’t sure if anyone would respond.  Realistically since they had not responded then it seemed like others would not. They probably thought that no one would come and assist them.  They must have felt ashamed, guilty, unworthy, selfish, etc… they were probably really convicted by their lack and what they had failed to do. I’m sure they were kicking themselves for not helping earlier.  It’s like a told you so kind of moment.  But what can they do?  They’re stuck…no choice.

So given their past history/actions and some of the assumptions it seems unlikely that they would actually send out messengers.  So their actions reveal how desperate they felt and how humble they actually were as they asked for help and sent out the distress call.  The picture here reminds me of the scene in Lord of the Rings when Denethor refuses to fire up the light towers to ask for help even though he was in serious danger. He was too proud to do it and so minas tirith was in danger of being crushed by sauron’s army.  But Gandalf takes over and sends out the signal for help.  And so the riders of rohan come and are crucial to helping them defeat Sauron’s army.

Despite how they were feeling – guilty, awkward, ashamed – they did what they needed because they were in a life/death situation.  It was no time to be proud.  They had to just ask for help and admit they were needy.

I’ve messed up in the past and wonder if I’m going to make the same mistakes or if I’m going to ask for help and find it.

Often people who let others down are reluctant to ask for help out of guilt from past failures, or some complicated mixture of shame, awkwardness, expectation of rejection, or sense of resignation.  How do I relate to people whom I have wronged in the past?

With people whom I’ve wronged in the past I find that there can still be some times of awkwardness and times of disconnection and times of separation. For the most part I know I’m accepted and loved and I appreciate that but at other times I know that I feel awkward still.  I think about my shame and I think about the ways I have been.  They know me though and they do treat me better than I deserve.

Depending how well things have reconciled in the past I think depends on who I relate to them.  When we have cleared the air and gotten everything on the table, it’s clear and we are able to see clearly that we’re just sinners and there’s genuine restoration.

I feel the awkwardness at times but I also know that this is just me and my own problem.  But at the same time I just think about how I need this person and how I need to ask for help and push through these feelings.

1 Samuel 11:1-7

· What can I learn from the fact that “they turned out as one man” when “the terror of the LORD fell on the people?”

What I can learn from the fact that “they turned out as one man” when “the terror of the Lord fell on the people” is that sometimes it takes some fear in order for people to act and mobilize.  And sometimes it’s through this fear that you can really get people to act as one man and one person.  And they can be quite powerful.  Fear is not always used as a motivation but at times it can really be a source of motivation and power.  Esp when people are in great stress and disarray.  It can bring sharp focus and clarity about a situation and how we’re supposed to live and behave.

The terror of the Lord is important and necessary.  I can often have a PC reaction and think but I want to cover up this part of God or I can feel uncomfortable with God’s terror and wrath and the fact that they needed to listen and obey or else they would experience God’s wrath.  But as I think about how I need to treat my own children in this way at times because they’re being stubborn or rebellious I know it’s necessary and it can be a very powerful way for them to obey because they themselves don’t’ realize the bigger picture and how I’m trying to shape them and how I’m trying to develop them to be a certain way.  But as a father I know God’s terror is necessary and it’s a proper motivation at times – esp if people are stubborn or disobedient.  It’s like the shepherd who has to get in there and really get to his sheep through some yelling or hitting because they need to move in one direction.

What happens to a group’s sense of unity if members of a community begin to give into their individual fears?  In what way is proper fear of God an appropriate unifying factor for Christians?

When people give into their individual fears then they begin to break the unity of the group.  Fear mongering comes in and takes over and prevents them from really growing and taking new lands.  Fear seizes them and they can be subjectively real feeling of fear that they have but objectively it may not be that bad.  But if they give in then they are going to break the unity and they will give in and they will withdraw from the community and from one another and the mission that God has given to them.  Unity fades.  Just like we talked about when everyone begins to give into their fears about money, family, career, etc…this takes away from the purpose and focus of the group.  They begin to save for themselves “in case”. They hold back.  They don’t’ give their all.  They give less and they put forth less.  They aren’t ready to help. They won’t put their whole lot in. and as each person gives into his/her fears that begins to break the unity of the group and soon the group is ineffective and it’s handicapped.  This happens in subtle ways but it boils down to taking ownership and being all there.  That means being there for every event and owning every event and always placing the rest of the community and as first and most important and it’s about not giving into those fears but going through those things together.  You can’t be isolated and self-focused.  It’s through not showing up or not doing your part in the cleaning or setting up or moving as quickly in as agile a fashion. When one person is not as responsive because they are giving into their own fears of future and family and self then they’re eroding the unity of the group because they’re going to do what they want.  of course, others have desires as well but everyone is agreeing that we are denying these thigns for the sake of others and for the greater mission that we have at hand.

Culture of compliance = fear of what God is doing and how we’re on holy ground.

Proper fear of God is an appropriate unifying factor for Christians because God is the only one whom we should be fearing and he should be the only that we’re aiming to please.  Proper fear of God is an appropriate unifying factor because to begin with, God is the one whom we’re serving and he’s the one we’re supposed to be following and obeying…because he is the only one whom we should fear.  He is the only one who really has any power or hold over us.  who can ultimately harm us?  my boss? My wife, my family? This world?  Satan?  Only God is the one whom I should not fear because he is the one who has the power over life/death.  All these other things don’t matter a bit in the grand scheme of things.  They are miniscule and meaningless in comparison.

To what extent am I “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” along with others in the body of Christ (cf. Phil 1:27)?

I’m “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” along with others in the body of Christ in that I’m refusing to give into my desires for comfort, personal pleasure, my career, my family, my money.  By not giving into the fears of this world and the things this world tells me that I need to secure for myself – that high paying position, that promotion, better education for my children, spending all my time on my children, doing everything I can for my kids and spending all my time with them, devoting myself to their development, to spending my hours increasing my skills and such for my future and my career, etc…  by not giving into these fears and instead giving my energy, time, focus, money, etc… to God’s work I’m contending as one man for the gospel.  By giving all my heart and passion and power i’m not going to give in.  I have to give 110% in my work, my attentiveness, my efforts and by not trying to turn ministry into a big ego trip and by not turning ministry into something where I can shine and gain.  It’s not about me and my agenda and what I can do and how big of a ministry that I can gain or how many guys are coming out or how guys under me are shining or not. No, it’s about what God can do and what he wants to do.  I have to commit to that kind of work and I have to commit to that kind of efforts.

1 Samuel 11:8-15

What can I learn about human nature from people’s reaction in v. 12?

What I can learn about human nature from people’s reaction in v.12 is that they are so quick to condemn and so quick to ask for revenge.  They’re so quick to seek blood.

They’re so quick to point out others who are wrong and punish them.  They lack mercy, grace and a sense of this could have been me.  I think human nature quickly points at others and wants to say that I’m not like that.  We try hard to distance ourselves from others.

This is not just vindictiveness.  It’s triumphalism. Scared of that for our church. Saul’s our man now.  That crowd.  Let’s get on God’s side.  Let’s do this.  Woohoo.  That shallow triumphalism. That will choke out God’s blessing.  Now is the time. Today the Lord has rescued Israel. Not about me…today the Lord has rescued Israel.  Really be in awe of God and insist…even if it seems like habitual words..let’s always remember God.  Let’s always honor God.  Squeeze out any room for human glory.  Or church glory. Anything that is sinful at the level of individual.  It’s sinful at the level of organization or national level.

What can I learn from Saul’s response?

What I can learn from Saul’s response is that he is merciful and he is able to maintain the morale and he has such a keen sense of how the people are feeling and he shows mercy.  He redirects everyone’s feelings and thoughts back to God and back to what God has done to make this day possible.  It’s about what God has done to make this day possible.

What I can learn is that it’s important to help the whole group see the bigger picture and to make sure everyone sees that this is what God can do – in spite of our own sins and poor judgment.  It’s all about what God is doing and how he’s working. It’s not about my own ego and whether people have wronged me and whether they have made me look bad, etc.. as in the case of Saul.  He doesn’t focus on how people wronged him and he doesn’t say I told you so. Instead, he points to how God is the one who was working and he is the one who was making all of this happen.

He doesn’t say today I delivered Israel.  No he says it’s God who did.  God rescued Israel.

Again, it’s not about my ministry and what I have done and how my hands have labored.  No, it’s about what God has done.  it’s about how God has worked and how he is the one who is actively working.  Without him notne of this can happen.  He is the one who is at work and again I can learn as I’m doing ministry this fall it’s not about purely my efforts and what I can do.  Of course, I’m going to work hard but it’s really about seeing God work.

Saul could have been bitter or maybe even grown proud but for sure it’s important that he acknowledged that it was God.  And after this point I need to keep remembering this.  Whether we have a ton of people or none I think it’s all going to be a testimony of God’s faithfulness and work and what he wants to happen on this campus.

How did God use this seemingly bad situation with Nahash the Ammonite for Saul’s good?  What does this show regarding what my attitude should be towards challenges and difficulties?

God used this seemingly bad situation with Nahash the Ammonite for Saul’s good in that he used it to take all these disparate groups and tribes and to put them under the king – Saul.  After Saul was anointed king he basically went back home farming but everyone was separated and sort of doing their own thing.  But then God used this attack to bring everyone together under Saul’s leadership.

What this shows regarding what my attitude should be toward challenges and difficulties is that I should see every challenge and opportunity as a way to grow and experience God’s power.  Whether it’s a difficult student, staff, hardship, difficult, I need to learn to persevere and push past my own feelings and my own sense of despair.

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