Welcome to our 31-day corporate fast. Below you will find a devotional post for each day in the month of January to guide us together in discerning the voice of God. Bookmark this page to check back daily, and use the social buttons to share posts to others.
How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
2 Samuel 1:27
David had not yet been crowned king when he heard the news that both King Saul and his dearly beloved friend Jonathan had been killed in battle. This news caught David totally by surprise and literally broke his heart. David had great respect and devotion for King Saul and was hoping that one day they would move past their difference and come together and serve the Lord in the spirit of unity. And his heart longed for the rich, godly fellowship he had experienced with Jonathan as iron sharpening iron. It’s no doubt that David loved Jonathan like a brother, and hearing of his death brought a very real and deeply felt grief to David’s heart. His friend was truly gone too soon.
My hope and prayers are that you are not experiencing the deep sorrow and pain that comes from the loss of a love one, but if you are hurting due to the loss of someone you love, please know that you are not alone in your sorrow. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus, our Savior and Lord “….was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” If we take a close look at 2 Samuel 1:22-26, we will see how David handled his grief, and in turn, learn a few things about how we should handle ours. The text says:
From the blood of the slain, From the fat of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty. 23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions. 24 “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places. II Samuel 1: 22-26
David did four things to help put his broken heart back together again:
- He cried. In 2 Samuel 1:11 we are simply told that David mourned and wept. David’s eyes became a faucet for him to release soul-cleansing tears. Tears ran down his checks, dropped off his chin and fell to the earth. The same earth that Saul and Jonathan have now returned.
- He honored them. In verse 17, we find that David poured out his heart before the people with a song of lament that spoke about their beauty and their courage. Find ways that uniquely celebrate the memory of your love one and write it down as a memorial to them.
- He trusted in the Will of God. Three times in this passage (verses 19,25, and 27) David calls Saul and Jonathan ‘mighty’. David recognized that, though both men were uniquely flawed, they were loved and anointed by God. David turned his thoughts to the truth that God saw something wonderful in both these men and offered to them the leadership over His people.
- He took comfort that they were finally at rest. In verse 27, we can almost feel a sigh of relief that Saul and Jonathan’s days of battle are now over. David rested in the knowledge that God had called them off the battlefield, never to study war again.
Our loved ones may have gone on before us, but let us remember that we, too, are soldiers in the army of the Lord. Let us keep marching on toward victory until the day we hear our Commander in Chief say, “Come up here, servant of God, well done!”
Published on Jan 31 @ 3:17 AM EDT
Our mistakes and failure of the past do not have to define us. We can choose to be who God says we are. Every one of us has something in our past that is less than admirable. We have all been branded, either through reputation or conscience, with some haunting memory of our old sins.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Two brothers were convicted of stealing sheep many years ago in England. In accordance with the punishment of those days, they were branded in the forehead with the letters “ST” for “sheep thief”. One brother, unable to bear the stigma, fled to a foreign country where he died full of bitterness and was buried in a forgotten grave. The other brother chose not to run away. He said, “I can’t get away from the fact that I once stole sheep, but I will remain here and make the best of it. I’ll change my way of living, do what’s right and try to get back the respect of my neighbors, as well as my own self-respect.”
The years passed, and he gradually established a reputation for his integrity and respectability, his honesty and sense of self-worth. Then one day, a stranger was in town, and he happened to notice this old man with the letters “ST” branded on his forehead. He asked one of the local people what that meant. After pondering for a while, the villager said, “It all happened so long ago that I can’t remember the particulars. But I really think the letters are an abbreviation for the word ‘Saint’.”
Our mistakes and failure of the past do not have to define us. We can choose to be who God says we are. Every one of us has something in our past that is less than admirable. We have all been branded, either through reputation or conscience, with some haunting memory of our old sins. Either we can let shame and guilt set in and do the devastating work of making us feel their weight for years to come, or we can choose to see ourselves as God sees us and walk in the forgiveness and freedom that only comes through the cross of Jesus Christ.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 54: 17)
Published on Jan 30 @ 3:39 AM EDT
Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
It’s incredible that we as human beings are able to have confidence in anything. So many times when we place our confidence in something, our hope is shattered. Because the reality of the human experience is that we will all experience disappointment – both in letting others down and in being let down by others. But the idea that the Apostle Paul is referencing here in Philippians 1:6 is an entirely different thing than disappointment.
Paul is confidently assured of the reality that the believer will be presented before Christ. He is sure that Christ will continue to mature them until He comes back to call them to be with Him forever. This truth is our confident hope, that when Christ returns, He is coming back for us. And that when we see Him, we will not have to shrink back for fear of Him; but that He will make us perfect like Himself. Because of this, we will be able to see Him as He is.
Paul was not hesitant at all to declare that Christ will perfect them. This perfection wasn’t based upon any spiritual hierarchy or prominence, but faithfulness to the Lord. This should be our encouragement in the midst of all that we face in this life. We must remember that we have a responsibility to know the promises of the Lord, that we may fully and whole-heartedly trust in them.
Published on Jan 29 @ 3:15 AM EDT
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.
One of the saddest realities facing our nation is that too many Americans are in debt and have no idea how they got there. Somewhere in our youth, we were convinced to be consumers – people buying things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t even like. As a result, we have failed to provide for both ourselves and our families because we are burdened by unnecessary debt. We are unable to buy a house or to save money for when emergencies happen, and we are often lacking necessities because we incurred debt spending credit on our pleasures and desires.
While there is nothing wrong with using credit responsibly, such as to purchase a home, it is wrong to mortgage our future for the sole purpose of gratifying our current desires. The latter use of credit goes against one of the consistent themes in the Bible – the idea of planning for the future. In today’s passage, we see King Solomon take an example from the animal world to show us the importance of saving and planning. The ant collects its food during the summer, when there are crops in abundance. There are ant colonies where this food is stored and, once the winter comes, the ants are free to eat and hibernate until the warm weather returns.
Like the ant, we should learn how to handle our finances so that during our youth, when we are at our highest earning potential, we can save money for a comfortable retirement. For those of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ, we should be employing the “10-10-80 Rule” when it comes to our finances – the first 10 percent of our income belongs to the Lord, the second 10 percent should be put in savings, and we should use the 80 percent to pay for our living expenses. If we start this plan as young people, we should be able to provide for ourselves and our families in old age. And if you are older, it is never too late to speak with a financial planner about what options are available so that you can meet your needs as a senior.
Consider the following questions:
- Have you ever made a budget? If you don’t know how, are you willing to learn?
- Have you learned the difference between a “need” and a “greed?” Can you distinguish between what is necessary in your life and what is a luxury?
- Are you aware of God’s promises in Malachi 3:6-12 to those who are faithful in tithing? Would you be willing to at least sit down with a person who tithes and ask whether they have experienced those promises?
Published on Jan 28 @ 3:13 AM EDT
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18: 10
In the book of Numbers 35:9-24, God gives Moses instructions to build six cities of refuge when they enter the Promised Land. These cities were to provide refuge to anyone who killed someone unintentionally. All the person had to do was flee to one of these cities and they would be safe from anyone wanting to avenge the death of the person who was killed.
In those days, an ‘eye for an eye’ was the law of the land. Anyone taking a life, regardless of the reason, was subject to being killed by “the avenger of blood” – a term used to refer to a person taking revenge for someone else’s death. These cities were strategically located throughout the Promise Land and easy to get to from all points within Israel’s borders. Numbers 35:25 loosely spells out for us the law concerning Cities of Refuge:
The assembly is to protect the one who kills someone from the hand of the avenger of blood. Then the assembly will return him to the city of refuge he fled to, and he must live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. Numbers 35:25(CSB)
According to verses 26- 28 of this chapter, the only requirement for protection was that you make it to one of the cities of refuge before the avenger of blood found you, and that you stay inside the borders of the city until the death of the High Priest. The death of the High Priest signaled a cleansing and forgiveness for past sins in the nation, and a new start for people who had accidentally taken a life.
The Old Testament ordinance about the cities of refuge were meant to prefigure a wonderful truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. These cities of refuges have all been replaced with the person of the Lord Jesus. He is our refuge, and when we run to Him we are safe. Not only are the cities of refuge a type of Christ, but the pardon that is granted by the death of the High Priest is also a foreshadowing of the death of Jesus on the cross, which paid for our sins. Not only the sins from our past, but also our present and future sins as well. The Lord Jesus Christ is our City of Refuge, and when we place our faith in Him, we are placed safely and eternally within the borders of His love.
If you are in trouble and being chased by any enemy of the soul, run to Jesus. He is just a prayer away.
Published on Jan 27 @ 3:11 AM EDT