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Monday, August 25, 2014

False gods: A Journey Through Samuel

1 Samuel 5

Idolatry is a sin and theme we see illustrated in Scripture repeatedly. Even God's chosen people have used the ark as an idol as we previously have seen by seeing it as an object of protection, and missing the One to for Whom it was created. While sacred and a gift, it still was a mere dwelling place. It was only sacred because of Who it was for ...

Yet, God did dwell there, and this stark difference is seen in this almost humorous passage of Scripture:
Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. (1 Samuel 5:2-4 ESV)

There is nothing that shall reign supreme over our Lord; especially something that is worshiped. While we could go into some of the history behind Dagon, the threshold, and people during that time, the point simply remains that God will make a mockery of anything that tries to mock Him.

As Isaiah points out, individuals can even make a mockery of themselves by treating these objects as gods to begin with:
He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!" (Isaiah 44:14-17 ESV)
Deliver me [piece of wood] ... you are my god!

A King ... (chess piece that is)

Ridiculous, but sadly apt for today as well. Deliverance, release, and rescue. My life will be better if I am delivered from what? Deliver me doctor! Deliver me friend! Deliver me judge! Deliver me Mr. President! Deliver me spouse! Deliver me job! Deliver me temptation! Deliver me retirement! Deliver me ... deliver me ... deliver me ...

God delivers; He alone. Jesus.

How often do we see peace, joy, harmony, contentment, just around the corner. After "this" then I will be able to relax and enjoy life more. That thought is destructive to ourselves, our family, our friends, and ultimately and most importantly our relationship with the Lord. It is sin.

May we learn more each day to rest in Him, trust in Him, and let loose this bondage we call control. It's a false god that promises but will never deliver, because only One can.

His,
~Matthew

Sunday, August 24, 2014

God is not a Tool: A Journey Through Samuel

1 Samuel 4


If you want to catch a fish, you bring a fishing pole right? It's a tool to do the job. No fishing pole, likely no fishing victory! OK, perhaps you are good with a spear, but I think my point is fair enough. If there is a job to do, bring a tool for the job.

Unfortunately this is how some of God's people also thought ... about Him.

They felt they could use God as a tool for victory.
And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Samuel 4:3-4 ESV)
Let me just say that this did not end well ...

Did God fight for Israel? Absolutely. However you often see other things first such as: Prayer, Guidance, Direction, Questions, Adoration, Sacrifice, Worship, Seeking Approval, etc. Not to mention the most important fact that it wasn't about the ark ... it was about God!

We are God's tools, He is not ours.

We seem to want to bring God into our lives when needed, upon request, with specific tasks in mind to perform. He is not a tool ...

"We often pray to be more like Christ, but whenever something comes into our life to make us more like Him, we immediately send out prayer requests to get that situation removed from our life!" - Henry Blackaby

He is not a tool ...

     He is God.

          He is Jesus.

May you and I simply seek Him first, and let the rest follow.

Love and Blessings,
~Matthew

Drawing Near: A Journey Through Samuel

1 Samuel 3



There are few things more precious to me than the sight of a child sleeping. The peace, comfort, and security (combined with the total dependence on a parent) has always drawn me to gaze upon precious sleeping faces. It becomes even more emotional when that sleeping face is next to yours as they cuddle with you because they simply want to draw near to your presence.

This picture is shown in Scripture as Samuel is simply drawn to the presence of God:
"Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.(1 Samuel 3:1-3 ESV)

He simply cuddled next to God and was lying down in His presence.

I do not feel like this was a rare moment that just happened to be mentioned in this passage. I believe that this is a sign and example given to us to show how he was drawing near to God. He simply wanted to sleep in His presence and be in His proximity, and I think this was something he did many times growing up.

Have you ever simply drawn near to God without words or any other intention than simply being with Him? I have, and I can tell you it is the most comforting place to be. Many times I have not had words to say (or was simply tired of talking about a situation) and just closed my eyes, relaxed, and sometimes drifted off to sleep. I usually begin by laying down at the foot of His throne (though I somehow always ended up in His arms).

If you haven't experienced God in this way, I can't encourage you enough to just develop a relationship with Him where you simply just learn to draw near to Him. Let not the world tell you that emotional relationships are not for men, hardly. There is far more strength required to show emotion than to conceal it.

Draw near.

Praying for you,
~Matthew

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