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Safe

  Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” 1 Samuel 22:23 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1sa.22.23.ESV Abiathar and his colleagues had provided refuge to David in his time of need. In retribution, David's enemy Saul had slaughtered all Abiathar's colleagues, with only him escaping. He fled to David. I love David's words to Abiathar, illustrating that your enemy's enemy is your friend. There's a spiritual lesson for us too. The enemy of our souls is the devil. The devil wants to destroy us. He thought he'd destroyed Jesus on the cross, but Christ rose triumphant from the tomb on the third day. If we flee satan for the Lord, He'll keep us safe. The evil one knows deep down that he can't touch Christ, enthroned as He is in the highest heaven. What he can do (if God allows) is to hurt God's people, and in doing so to grieve God Himself. Thankfully, God will not allow us to be te

Power

  so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1co.2.5.ESV There wasn't anything particularly special about Paul, humanly speaking. In the previous verse he reminds the Corinthian church that he wasn't a particularly impressive speaker. What set him apart was that he was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, who mightily demonstrated His power through him in his weakness. We know Paul was well educated. We know he was a very zealous, passionate man, even before he was saved. We also know that at least one person fell asleep during one of his talks though, so he can't have been especially engaging naturally. Paul didn't even look impressive. He tells another church about what sounds like an eye condition he had- they would have donated their own eyes to him if they could! Literate though he was, he often needed people to scribe his letters for him, the very epistles he's so

Gifts

  so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:7 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1co.1.7.ESV Judging by Paul's teaching later on in his first letter to the Corinthian church, they needed some teaching on spiritual gifts. Even here at the outset, Paul sets out his stall. No-one in the Corinthian church was lacking in any gift. Maybe the extra gifted Corinthian Christians were lording it over those who were less so. Maybe those who could speak other languages were put on a pedestal above those who simply had the gift of being organised. Yet as far as God is concerned, He has gifted all of His people with all that we need to serve Him. I heard a great description of spiritual gifts recently. Rather than divorcing them from the fruit of the Spirit, we can see them as the tools by which we help ourselves bear as much spiritual fruit as possible. So the gifts of the spirit could be things like secateurs to prune a fr

Insults

  let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. Lamentations 3:30 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/lam.3.30.ESV When Jesus commanded us to 'turn the other cheek', He wasn't just making some ridiculous statement that He had no intention of keeping. Jesus wasn't a revolutionary, out to overthrow the Romans. He could have called down angelic armies to defend Himself, but He allowed Himself to be tortured and murdered. Turning the other cheek might seem impractical and unrealistic. Wouldn't we just be inviting people to trample all over us? In the context, if a Jew retaliated when an occupying Roman soldier hit them, they'd probably be killed. Jesus's teaching to someone under enemy occupation, like a Ukrainian with a Russian soldier, would be to turn the other cheek. He wouldn't call us to go all vigilante on them. I love how God's Kingdom transcends politics: Jesus's followers included Matthew the traitorous

Defiance

  And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1sa.17.26.ESV A great temptation when we're reading Scripture is to assume it's all about us. So we become David fighting our 'Goliath', whether that be anxiety, debt, besetting sin, or a difficult relationship etc. Jesus on the Emmaus Road showed us a more Biblical way: it's all about Him! A Biblical reading of the David and Goliath story would see David as an illustration of Jesus Himself, the Son of David. According to this reading, Goliath isn't some subjective struggle of ours, but the objective enemy of our souls, the devil. The devil defies God's angelic armies. It took the death and resurrection of God's own Son to defeat satan. Maybe the angel Michael could have

King

  The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 1 Samuel 16:1 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1sa.16.1.ESV Does the Lord's choosing of David invalidate my claim that a kingly model of pastoring is wrong? I would argue not. David isn't a picture of a godly pastor I would argue, so much as a shadow of the Christ, the Son of David. When we see David defeating Goliath, we rush to apply it to ourselves and the giants in our lives. Again though, David is a picture of Jesus who has defeated the giants in our lives for us. The Bible is primarily about Him, not us! Prophecy bears me out on my claim that a kingly model of pastoring is wrong. All earthly kings, David included, fall short of God's glory. Jesus however is prophesied as the shoot from the stump of Jesse. Jesus is the

Rejection

  And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 1 Samuel 15:26 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1sa.15.26.ESV Saul blamed his people for his rejection of God's word. Ultimately however, he had to bear responsibility for his own sin. He reminds me of Adam blaming Eve for his disobedience. The people had a logical sounding argument. Save the enemy's flocks to sacrifice to the Lord. It sounds like a good, even godly idea. The problem is, God told Israel to destroy everything of the enemy's. Simply in hearing the bleating of animals, Samuel knew Saul had been disobedient, despite his protestations to the contrary. God's word isn't optional. We stand or fall either upon it, or against it. If God says something is wrong, who are we to declare it right? 'Sovereign Lord, please cause those who profess You but are disobedient to repent before it's too

Body

  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, Romans 12:4 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/rom.12.4.ESV The human body isn't just one epic tongue or eye for example. There are many parts to the body, and they have different purposes. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. As it is with the human body, so it is with the spiritual body of Christ on earth, the Church of Jesus. Some of us are like a metaphorical tongue, good at speaking or interpreting different languages. Others are like the hands of the church, good practically at helping people. Once we come to faith in Jesus and join His church, we need to find out how He has gifted us. We all have various gifts. Some have more than one. For me personally, I like to think I'm an encourager. I love to share the good news of Jesus. And I like to teach, if my students are willing to learn. Having been given certain gifts, we are to exercise them. 'Father in heaven, thank You

Arrogance

  do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Romans 11:18 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/rom.11.18.ESV Paul pictures God's people as an olive tree. The natural plant is Jewish. Judaism is the root of Christianity. The Jewish Messiah, or Christ, is Saviour of the world. The vast majority of Christians now are Gentiles. It's as though we're branches that have been grafted in to the natural olive tree. Just because we might be the ones bearing the most fruit, doesn't mean to say we can be arrogant though. Without being rooted in Jesus the Messiah, we could bear no fruit. Without Him, we can do nothing. He unites Jews and Gentiles together in faith towards Himself. Nowadays, within God's people, we might consider Jews more widely as religious people who come to faith in Jesus. Gentiles could represent secular people who come to faith in Jesus. Whatever our background, we're u

King

  And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 1 Samuel 12:20 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/1sa.12.20.ESV Some churches have a model of leadership where the pastor is like a king with his subjects. That isn't a Biblical model. Even in the old testament, God's people were told they'd done evil by hankering after and asking for a king. Likewise in the new testament it's abundantly clear that the Lord is King of kings. As you can imagine, God doesn't take kindly to usurpers to His throne. What would God say to those in kingly pastoral churches? God wouldn't necessarily say to leave a church with poor governance. What he would say is to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. So what is good church governance? Good church governance involves a plurality of elders, who are under-shepherds of the flock of Christ. Not so glamorous as kings! I'm re