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.
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
As you read today's devotional, play "YOU ARE MY STRENGTH" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.
PAUSE IN HIS PRESENCE
By Monica Harris
Psalm 3:2, 4, 8
When the Women’s Ministry team and I were deciding upon a name for our conference, I remembered that my devotional one morning was from Psalm 3, which finds David fleeing from his son Absalom. Verse 4 says, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill. Selah”. That word, ‘Selah’, seemed to just leap off of the page as it resonated in my heart. Some commentators believe the word Selah comes from an archaic Semitic root that means “to pause” or “to reflect”. Other commentators have identified the word as a musical instruction reflecting the need to pause in the chorus of singing during Levitical worship. ‘Selah’ appears 71 times in the book of Psalms and 74 times in the Bible. With Selah appearing that many times in one book, it made perfect sense that “Pause in His Presence” would be the perfect name for our conference.
During this year’s fast, I sense that God is calling on each of us to pause and reflect on His goodness. Pastor previously mentioned in an earlier devotional post that I enjoy sitting outside and just watching the different birds that grace the trees in our backyard. I am in awe of the beautiful colors of the birds and how their small feet or claws perch upon the thin branches and remain there for long periods of time. As I sit and watch them, I imagine that they are pausing and reflecting. I know this may sound strange, but have you ever wondered what birds think about as they inquisitively look from side to side? I have often wondered if they are simply marveling at all the beauty their eyes are beholding. During this time of reflection, they engage in a unique way of communicating through their harmonious chirps, a language only they can understand and appreciate.
Those small birds are uniquely and perfectly made by a flawlessly artistic Designer - our God. But we, as human beings, even though we too are uniquely made, are far from perfect. And often, when we are afforded those quiet moments to ‘pause’ and ‘reflect’, we so often spend those times focusing on the countless imperfections that we all share. We spend so much precious time dwelling on the imperfections of our lives that we tragically miss what the birds see every day – the extraordinary beauty that is all around us. Because whether we realize it or not, our lives hold so much beauty, even in our imperfections. He made you beautiful – imperfections and all!
I came across this short story a little while ago, and I have always kept its message close to my heart. It’s a wonderful little tale of how God uses even our many imperfections to marvelously create beautiful things.
A water-bearer in India had two large pots; both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to his house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.
The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and was miserable that it could only accomplish just half of what it had been designed to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream, “I am ashamed of myself,” he said, “and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you must do all this work, and at the end of the day, you don’t get full value from your efforts”. But then the water-bearer said to the pot, “What? Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path but not on the other pot’s side?” “Do you know why that is?” he asked. “That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. And every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve been watering them the whole way. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table for my family at dinner time. Without you being just the way you are, there would never have been this beauty to grace the house.”
God reminds me of this short story whenever I start to look at my flaws and imperfections and wonder how He could ever get glory out of me. God also reminds me that He made me for His glory, just the way I am. Dear friend, God also made you just the way you are – all for His glory.
So the next time you get an opportunity to ‘pause’ and ‘reflect’, don’t waste such a precious moment dwelling on the imperfections of your life. Instead, take that time to thank God for those imperfections, and ask Him to make something beautiful out of them. For every crack that He doesn’t mend, and for every scar that He chooses not to erase, ask Him to use it as a testimony that waters the gardens of others. Selah – Pause in His Presence and think about that.
Father, thank You for creating me just the way I am. Help me not allow my flaws to distract me from what You have called me to do and who You have called me to be. As I inhale your grace, and exhale your mercy, help me to be the best me I can be. I can do all things through You, Lord, who gives me strength. In Jesus Name. Amen.
DAILY SPIRITUAL EXERCISE
Find a quiet room, a quiet seat, or a quiet space where you and God can be alone. Pause and sit with Him and thank Him for all of the beautiful things He has graced Your life with. Then thank Him for the little cracks and scars as well. Ask Him that as He heals them, that He would use them for His glory.
A Wonderful Change
By Melanie Reed
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old”
Isaiah 43: 18 –
All this upcoming week, our Practical devotional focus will be about “Habits”. We will be talking in our devotions each day about ‘starting new habits and breaking old ones’. Many times, we may start a habit without recognizing it as a habit because it is something we do automatically without thinking twice about it. Our brain switches to autopilot and we are actively engaged in some routine activity without ever remembering when it started or how it began. I think of the many times we all have driven home from a long day at work, and after a monotonous, uneventful drive, we pull into my driveway, not remembering many of the details of the trip. This is the way many habits are formed. We do the same thing enough times, and now it’s been reduced to an automatic reflex. Some of those habits may be considered as good, and others may be not-so-good.
However, that’s not the case with all of our habits. There are a few of them that we have to put forth an effort to establish. It has been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This may be true for some people, but it’s probably not a rule for all. For some people, some of their habits may only take a few days to form, and for others, it may take a lifetime.
Habits are formed for several reasons, and along the way we may have tweaked it by adding or taking something away from them. Nevertheless, regardless of what our habits are, or when they started, there are some that are unhealthy for us and need to be broken. There are also new habits that we need to begin in order to get us to a place where God wants us to be, or for us to accomplish certain good goals that we have set in our lives. Every person should have a ‘good habits’ list that we keep – either mentally or actually on paper. This is a list of things that we know we must do in order for our lives to fully honor God, and for us to accomplish the purposes that we believe He has called us to.
These habits are not simply about our health, or our nutrition, or even diet and exercise. They may include those things, but they could also be our personal thought-life and inner disciplines. For some of us, it might involve reading a book once a month, or reading through the Bible in a year. For others, it may be a financial savings habit, or some personal study habits for a particular course we are needing to pass. There are many types of habits that we all need to form, or at least reinforce in our lives. There are other habits that we all need to break and erase from our lives. Either way, neither of these will be done without great effort on our part. So I would love to offer some help. Here is a step-by-step recommendation on how to break an old habit, and start a new one:
Activity: Out With The Old and In With The New
Step 1: Identify an old habit that needs to be broken (i.e., it’s not making you your best self, it’s hindering your progress, it serves no purpose, etc.).
Step 2: Recognize a good new habit that you can start, that will help you reach your goal or one that will have a positive impact on your life.
Step 3: Set realistic goals in terms of timeframe and ability to practice that habit.
Step 4: Make a commitment to yourself to stick to your new habit.
Step 5: Keep a journal or some type of log to monitor how you are doing during this new habit-forming process.
Step 6: Make adjustments to your new habit only when necessary.
Heavenly Father, grant me the wisdom to recognize the habits in my life that I need to change, and the strength to make those changes. Point in the right direction for help and resources, mentorship and guidance to tackle the habits that have held me hostage, and stolen from me the ability to be all that you have destined for me to be. Lord, let the new me begin to emerge. In Jesus Name, Amen.
PRACTICAL ACTION TODAY
Practice asking, and thanking God daily for the wisdom to know when old habits need to be broken and new habits need to be started. We should also be mindful that when God delivers us from something or gives us an opportunity to do and be better, then we must have every personal determination to never revisit the old, or look back and dwell on the past.
Published on Jan 22 @ 12:02 AM EDT