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 "THE BLESSING" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.
Streams in the Desert 365 Devotions, Pages 452-453
By L.B. Cowman, Editor
“…there we saw the giants.”
Yes, the Israeli spies saw giants, but Joshua and Caleb saw God! Those who doubt still say today, “We can’t attack…; they are stronger than we are” (v. 31). Yet those who believe say, “We should go up and take possession... for we can well able to do it” (v. 30).
These giants represent, for us, great difficulties, and they stalk us everywhere. They are in our families, our churches, our social life, and even our own hearts. We must overcome them or they will devour us, just as the ancient Israelites, fearing those in Canaan, said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size” (v. 32). We should exhibit faith as did Joshua and Caleb, who said, “Do not be afraid..., because we will devour them” (Numbers 14:9). In effect, they told the others, “We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had been no giants to defeat.”
In fact, unless we have overcoming faith, we will be swallowed up—consumed by the giants who block our path. With “that same spirit of faith” (2 Corinthians 4:13) that Joshua and Caleb had, let us look to God, and He will take care of the difficulties.
We encounter giants only when we are serving God and following Him. It was when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared, for when they turned back into the wilderness, they found none. Many people believe that the power of God in a person’s life should keep him from all trials and conflicts. However, the power of God actually brings conflict and struggles. You would think that Paul, during his great missionary journey to Rome, would have been kept by God’s sovereignty from the power of violent storms and of his enemies. Yet just the opposite was true. He endured one long, difficult struggle with the Jews who were persecuting him. He faced fierce winds, poisonous snakes, and all the powers of earth and of hell. And finally, he narrowly escaped drowning, by swimming to shore at Malta after a shipwreck nearly sent him to a watery grave.
Does this sound like a God of infinite power? Yes, it is just like Him. And that is why Paul told us that once he took the Lord Jesus Christ as his life in his body, a severe conflict immediately arose. In fact, the conflict never ended. The pressure on Paul was persistent, but from the conflict he always emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.
Paul described this in quite vivid language: “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8–10). What a ceaseless and strenuous struggle he related! It is nearly impossible to express in English the impact of the original language.
Paul gives us five different images in succession. In the first, he has us picture enemies completely surrounding and pressuring but not crushing him, because the heavenly “police” have protected him and cleared a path just wide enough for him to escape. The literal meaning is, “We are crowded from all sides, but not defeated.”
The second image is that of someone whose way is completely blocked or thwarted by the enemy. Yet he has persevered, for there is just enough light for him to see the next step. Paul said, “perplexed, but not in despair,” or as one literal translation put it, “without a road, but not without a ‘side road’ of escape.”
The third picture, “persecuted, but not abandoned,” is one of the enemy in hot pursuit of him while the divine Defender stands nearby. He is pursued, but not left alone.
The fourth is even more vivid and dramatic. The enemy has overtaken him, struck him, and knocked him down. But it is not a fatal blow—he is able to rise again. He has been “struck down, but not destroyed,” or literally, “overthrown, but not overcome.”
In the fifth and final image, Paul advances the thought still further, giving us a picture that appears to be one of death itself: “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus.” Yet he does not die, for “the life of Jesus” comes to his aid, and he lives through Christ’s life until his lifework is complete.
The reason so many people fail to experience this divine principle is that they expect to receive it all without a struggle. When conflict comes and the battle rages on, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easily gained, for there are no cheap goods on the heavenly market. The cost of our redemption was everything God had to give, and anything worth having is expensive. Difficult times and places are our schools of faith and character. If we are ever to rise above mere human strength, and experience the power of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies, it will be through the process of conflict that could very well be called the “labor pains” of the new life. It is like the story of Moses, who “saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up” (Exodus 3:2); although Satan’s demons tried to extinguish the flame in Moses’ life by continually pouring water on his plans, they could not, because God’s angels were ever vigilant, pouring oil on the flame to keep it burning brightly.
Dear child of God, you may be suffering, but you cannot fail if you will only dare to believe, stand firm, and refuse to be overcome.
L.B. COWMAN. Streams in the Desert: Morning and Evening Devotions (p. 452-453). Zondervan.
LITTLE BY LITTLE
By Cathy Morenzie (Healthy by Design: Weight Loss, God's Way)
“Little by little I will drive them out before you until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just the first step.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
How many years did it take you to gain your excess weight? Even though it may have taken you many years to gain weight, we tend to want to lose weight quickly.
Programs like “The Biggest Loser” have created the illusion that weight loss is quick. They show people losing 25 pounds in a week. However, the fast track is never the right path. Change comes through renewing your mind daily with the Word of God. It’s a process that happens day by day, little by little, step by step, from glory to glory. God’s goal is Christ’s fullness in our life. He wants to bring us to new levels and allow us to experience a life of freedom from all the things that keep us bound.
As the Israelites marched out of Egypt through the Red Sea and into the wilderness, God promised he would be with them through the entire journey. He also promised that he would help them have victory over all of their enemies and was very specific about how He would help them. God says, “I will drive them out little by little until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30).
Why would an all-powerful God take his time to act? God understands that to be victorious, certain skills must be developed; such as persistence, patience, strategy, and submission. These qualities aren’t developed overnight. God wants us to get the lessons as well as the blessings.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘What are the lessons that God is trying to teach us?” It may not be about your weight loss journey. It may be about patience, or self-care, or discipline or what it means to make sacrifices. We are all learning these critical life lessons every day. Until we embrace the process and take it day-by-day, we will never get to our ‘promised land’. If the journey is too easy, then the reward won’t mean much at all.
So, let’s take in a deep breath, and relax our faith in Christ, and enjoy the journey. It won’t be 40 years, I promise. But it will be just long enough for us to hear what God is trying to teach us, and be fully equipped to teach somebody else while they are on their journey. Remember, success comes step by step; day by day; little by little.
Thank You for Your promises. I am making progress. From victory to victory, success to success, I am getting stronger each day. I am more than an overcomer. I am advancing in everything I put my mind to. I am unstoppable!
PRACTICAL ACTION TODAY
Adjusting for setbacks and unforeseen circumstances, how much longer will it take you to reach your goal than you originally projected? Write out a confession statement that reminds you that you are ready to take all the time required to reach your goal. Remind yourself that you will not quit or give up while you are on this journey. Then, place that statement somewhere in your home where you will be able to see it on a regular basis.
Meditate on Exodus 23:20. “I will drive them out little by little until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”
Why did God drive them out little by little? What does God want to increase in your life little by little? Patience, discipline, submission, sacrifice? Journal your response. Reflect on your past attempts at quick weight loss. What was the result?
Published on Jan 30 @ 12:23 AM EDT