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 "ALPHA & OMEGA" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.
THE WEIGHT OF THE WAIT
By Marlin and Monica Harris
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;and they shall walk, and not faint”
We (Monica and Marlin) wanted to share a few thoughts with you as we come to the close of this fast. What a journey it has been sitting at the feet of Jesus each day and listening to the ‘sacred whispers’ of the Holy Spirit as He speaks His peace and hope to our hearts. We have all cried, laughed and learned together as we have been on this amazing journey of self-discovery. We are becoming our best selves. We are challenging the old habits of our past, and finding new paths to walk in.
For so many of us, the butterfly is emerging, and the old patterns of limiting mindsets and beliefs are slowly wasting away.
Even though we are thrilled to see this growth and new determination, we are sober-minded enough to remind you that nothing happens overnight. On this journey of growth, we all will have to wait.
We know we speak for just about everyone when we say, ‘we do not like that word’: wait. It is so indefinite. It doesn’t inspire hope. It doesn’t ease fears. It’s like coming to a new chapter in your life only to discover that there was no closure to the last one, and now you simply have to sit in silence and wait. While we wait, our minds are racing from one worry to another, and soon anxiety begins to sit on the throne of our hearts. Today becomes tomorrow, and tomorrow becomes the next, and still, our circumstances have not yet changed. So many people started out on their journey well, but the weight of the ‘wait’ proved to be too much, and they stopped believing just seconds from their goal.
I (Marlin) know that the weight of waiting has threatened me to not finish my race many days. God will often give me large, bodacious dreams and as soon as my heart begins to swell with hope, He quietly tells me to wait. I enter a waiting season, and how lonely that season is! Those self-defeating demons of doubt and despair have often come to wrestle away my faith, and the weight of the ‘wait’ soon begins to make my heart heavy. All I have the strength to do in those moments is point my faith towards God and then lean totally upon Him.
I (Monica) too have waited, while struggling to hold on to my faith in the process. Trusting God for every second or day of my wait. Often tears have been my companion, and prayer has been my constant pastime while I have waited. But I can truly say that I have learned more about trusting God while I am in the ‘wait’ than I ever could outside of it.
Our hope is that you realize that you are not by yourself. We both have had seasons of waiting. But oh, there is great news that we have to share!
If you are willing to wait and not lose heart, God always shows up just before the darkest hour of the night. He will not come empty-handed to you in your season of waiting. He comes to fulfill His promise in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint”.
Here the promise is that God will renew your strength. This means that ‘waiting’ can often be ‘weakening’. When prayers go unanswered, the temptation to give up the faith becomes stronger with each passing moment.
When I (Monica) am waiting, I realize that I am also growing.
Waiting is not the absence of activity; it is actually the presence of growth. Things naturally grow while they wait. I love the plants that we have around our home. They give life and freshness to our living environment. I water them regularly and move them from shade to sunlight to keep them healthy. But there is something I never do. I never sit down beside them to watch them grow. If I were to do that, I would soon come to believe that they are not growing. No, I simply water them, love them, and let them grow on their own. I don’t need to check, because I know that healthy things grow if you just give it enough time. The same is true in your life and in mine. It won’t be overnight, but healthy things always grow while they wait.
I (Marlin) find it strange that God would tell us that the way to renew your strength while you are waiting, is to continue to wait.
Isn’t ‘waiting’ the thing that has been taking our strength away in the first place? Well, this passage doesn’t say we get our strength renewed by waiting. It says we get our strength renewed by ‘waiting on the Lord!’. You see, the expectation of our waiting has to shift from the earthly to the heavenly.
We have to shift our focus, in order to find our strength. The blessing in the waiting is not in the thing you ultimately hope will fill your hand, but it is in the One you ultimately trust to fill your heart. The text compares the man who waits on the Lord to an eagle who soars in the sky while the wind rages against him, he gets stronger as he climbs higher. This is what God says will be our experience, if we can shift our focus from waiting on things, to waiting on Him.
While you are in your season of waiting, I (Monica) would love to share with you a few things I have learned when I’ve gone through those seasons in my own life.
Worship While You Wait.
Every morning, spend time listening to the worship songs in the ‘Sacred Whispers Playlist’ even after our fast has ended. Etch out a few quiet minutes of your day to simply listen to God as He speaks to you. You’ll be amazed at how God can use a song to break through to your heart like you never imagined.
Work While You Wait.
Do not become idle while you are waiting on God. Satan loves to fill our minds with hopelessness when we are not engaged in productive work. Serve on a ministry, volunteer through our Community Center, and serve others who are hurting, or maybe mentor a young person in need. Whatever you do, don’t become dormant. Working is the way you get past the waiting.
Wonder While You Wait.
If you can fill your thoughts with the goodness, and love of God, you will find the burden of waiting becoming lighter. Remember God’s work in your life from years ago, and before you realize it, your faith will grow, and the wait will become easier to bear.
Now that you know how to wait, we (Marlin and Monica) are praying that you will find the courage to pray bold prayers and be willing to trust God as you wait for Him to answer them. Great things never come easy, and they will always require waiting. Waiting is a temporary season, it will not last forever. Cast the weight of your waiting upon the Lord and allow Him to lighten your load. Let’s make this a sweet season of worship, work and wonder, and watch God cause our hearts to be overrun with joy. While we wait, we will learn to dance!
Father, I acknowledge that I am often impatiently waiting on You, please forgive me. I know that you are sovereign and know what’s best for me. Forgive me for only looking through my physical eyes and not my spiritual eyes. Thank You for being patient with me and lovingly guiding me to your truths. Help me daily to trust You more in all things. Thank You for being my constant Everything. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
DAILY SPIRITUAL EXERCISE
Worship. Work. And Wonder!
END OF A JOURNEY, BEGINNING OF A NEW ONE
By Matthew Pryor – Content taken from The Body Tithe Devotional
(Edited by Marlin D. Harris)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Here we are... the final day of our wellness journey. Day 31, to be exact. You’ve likely learned a lot about yourself over the course of these weeks. You’ve learned what kind of exercises you like, what kind you don’t, those you’re good at, and those you aren’t. You’ve probably tried some new foods, implemented new nutritional goals, increased your water intake, or decreased your junk food intake. If so, you’ve seen what a profound effect nutrition can have on your fitness level. I also hope you’ve discovered the valuable role sleep plays in your overall fitness. Not only does sleep help your body repair and prepare physiologically, but you’ll also be better equipped psychologically for your day. You’ll be better able to make the right decisions concerning your exercise and nutrition.
Aside from the physical lessons you’ve learned, my prayer is that you’ve discovered even more about yourself spiritually. I hope you’ve developed a great appreciation for what our God has done for us. Then, out of that gratitude, I pray you feel compelled to bring Him glory and honor... mind, body, and spirit. We’ve looked at Old and New Testament heroes who’ve modeled extraordinary faith and who saw victory in the face of defeat. We’ve seen how to be equipped with the word and worship of God, which gives us great freedom to run a race that He’s already won.
We focused on the unbreakable promises God has for us throughout Scripture. If we cling to, and rely on God and His promises, He will produce life-changing fruit in our lives. We’ve examined our relationship with food, and we have taken a long hard look at our daily habits. We are not on this journey alone, our loving Father has imparted the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as we live by His strength. We should be encouraged!
Unfortunately, we don’t always live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-focused life. Oftentimes, the temptation is to look at Scripture through a lens of generality rather than specificity. It’s kind of like knowing you play for the best sports team in the country. Your team is rich in history and success. Your coach has all the credentials and has proven himself trustworthy time and time again. You’re surrounded by teammates with astounding skills and a proven track record. You know the plays by heart and watched hours of film on the opposing team, and your team has a winning record. No other team comes close. So you know that ultimately, you can’t lose. Yet, despite all these things, you still feel like an outsider. You still feel like all these advantages apply to everyone else on the team — and maybe on our fitness journey — except you. In your mind, it seems these things are generally right... for everyone else. Somehow, though, they don’t or can’t specifically apply to you. After all, you know yourself pretty well and you just don’t see yourself that way... as victorious. Doesn’t this sound like many of us, even after all the encouragement and assurances we’ve been given? If so, I want you to close this journey by remembering who you are because of Him. Remember what you are because of Him. Remember what you can do because of Him.
Life changes when we see ourselves the way our loving Father sees us. Then we can better align our minds with His mind. We can better align our spirit with His Spirit. And only then we can experience true triumph in Christ.
When our minds and spirits are experiencing victory, it makes it far easier for our bodies to follow suit. It’s a lot easier to see how magnificent our God is than it is seeing any good in us. That is, until we start looking at ourselves through His eyes. When we see us the way He sees us, when we start listening to what He says about us, we start feeling empowered to live the magnificent life He created us to live.
Heavenly Father, we started out on this journey with You, and we know that we cannot finish it without You.
Be our guide and keep our hearts in the right pathway. May our desire to be healthy extend beyond our body. May You cause our body, our soul, and our spirit to experience true health and wholeness. This is for Your glory, and Your praise. In Jesus Name, Amen.
DAILY SPIRITUAL EXERCISE
Go back through each devotion for every day of this month. Note the ones that spoke to you in some specific, intimate way, and relook at it again.
Then write in your journal what changes you believe God wants of you from that devotional message. It may be changes in your thinking, or in your habits, or in the care you physically give to your body. Then ask Him to give you the courage and the strategy to make those changes. Read it every day, and pray that prayer every day until that change becomes your reality.
Pryor, Matthew. The Body Tithe Devotional: Spiritual Encouragement For Your Fitness Journey (pp. 301). Sophros.
Published on Jan 31 @ 12:51 AM EDT