Category Archives: Discipline / Guidance From God

If God Is With You, Who Can Be Against You?

When YHWH is with you, you can not lose. When He is against you, you can not win. Saul was king and was trying to trap David so that he would be killed by the Philistines. Saul knew that David had the hand of YHWH upon him. He was that jealous and that driven against David. Study of earlier scripture in this chapter reminds us that Saul was acting this way in large part because “… an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul… ” (1 Samuel 18:10).

Saul even uses his daughter as bait in a trap to try to get David killed fighting Philistines, but with YHWH on his side, David succeeds every time and increases in his esteem and name among the people of Israel.

It can be a bit difficult to fully digest that an evil spirit came upon Saul from God, but that is the translation of the scripture. I suppose we could study it further for more nuance, but Saul was experiencing the results of choosing to please the people over choosing to please YHWH. The hand of blessing was removed and difficulty came in its place. We should take heed in our lives as well, that we seek to please YHWH more than man.

1 Samuel 18:20-30

David Marries Saul’s Daughter

      20Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. When they told Saul, the thing was agreeable to him. 21Saul thought, “I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David, “For a second time you may be my son-in-law today.” 22Then Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David secretly, saying, ‘Behold, the king delights in you, and all his servants love you; now therefore, become the king’s son-in-law.’” 23So Saul’s servants spoke these words to David. But David said, “Is it trivial in your sight to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and lightly esteemed?” 24The servants of Saul reported to him according to these words which David spoke. 25Saul then said, “Thus you shall say to David, ‘The king does not desire any dowry except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26When his servants told David these words, it pleased David to become the king’s son-in-law. Before the days had expired 27David rose up and went, he and his men, and struck down two hundred men among the Philistines. Then David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. So Saul gave him Michal his daughter for a wife. 28When Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, 29then Saul was even more afraid of David. Thus Saul was David’s enemy continually.

      30Then the commanders of the Philistines went out to battle, and it happened as often as they went out, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Obey and Serve YHWH. Do Not Attack or Envy Those Who Support You.

Truly the only way to explain Saul’s actions against David was insanity or indeed an evil spirit. Saul was afflicted by an evil spirit because of his disobedience to YHWH. He became consumed with jealousy and resentment and even fear against David when he could plainly see the LORD’s anointing on him. David was a loyal subject and servant of the king as well as YHWH.

Let us take care not to let jealousy drive us against those who would support us. Also, let us humbly ask forgiveness from YHWH for our sins and turn from any rebellion against him. Let us seek to obey Him consistently.

We also see that David has the blessing of YHWH upon him despite the king being against him. YHWH is the one we should please if we must choose between him and men. I do find it intriguing to consider the trouble was caused by “an evil spirit from God”.  YHWH is to be revered and held in awe, not taken for granted.

This real history is as dramatic as a story can get. Hollywood story tellers are nothing compared to our almighty Father. His story if filled with real life record of drama and excitement that we can learn from and apply in our lives.

1 Samuel 18:10-19

Saul Turns against David

     10Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. 11Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice.

      12Now Saul was afraid of David, for the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. 13Therefore Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. 14David was prospering in all his ways for the LORD was with him. 15When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him. 16But all Israel and Judah loved David, and he went out and came in before them.

      17Then Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife, only be a valiant man for me and fight the LORD’S battles.” For Saul thought, “My hand shall not be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” 18But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” 19So it came about at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, that she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Hold Fast to the Name of Yeshua and Repent from Following False Teaching

 

In the letters to the seven churches, Yeshua continues to identify Himself as the “One who has the sharp two-edged sword”, which represents the word of YHWH. It is against the word of YHWH that we are judged and encouraged or called to change.

Ephesians 6:17 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12-13 12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

We do well to remember it is by the word of YHWH and not by the opinions of men that we are ultimately judged, and remember that not everyone who claims to teach the true word of YHWH is teaching accurately. We are to test it ourselves, not just take a pastor’s word for it.

Revelation 2:12-17

Message to Pergamum

     12“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

      13‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16‘Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

Pergamum must have been dealing with some serious sin to say it is where Satan’s throne is. Yeshua recognizes and encourages them for holding fast to His name even when faced with persecution and death. Yeshua then also calls them out that false teaching is amongst the church, calling them to repent and turn away from it. Repenting means to turn around, to change behavior to be more like Yeshua, it is not simply to “feel bad” about something or “say you are sorry”.

We can be sure that false teaching remains today in the church encouraging us to sin and live apart from YHWH’s word and in harmony or compromise with the world’s corrupted view.

To those of us who overcome all these challenges, we are encouraged that we will receive hidden manna and a white stone and a new name. I have not studied the symbolism here, but manna is how YHWH provided for His people in the wilderness after the exodus. It is not a stretch to say it represents YHWH’s provision for His people. White represents sin having been cleansed and forgiven. The new name seems to suggest a new beginning, whether in this life or after death. I am sure you can study further and get more thoughts or studied opinions on this symbolism and I would encourage you to do so. If you do, test more than one source to get some diversity of opinion. As we are warned in today’s scripture, there is much false teaching. We must test it for truth and reject what is false.

Let us also not overlook there are negative consequences if we refuse to repent. Yeshua mentions coming quickly to make war against them if they do not repent. Keep in mind, these are people “in the church body” who are teaching false doctrine. They are not just the pagans who happen to live there. There is a mixing and mingling of good and bad that is offensive to YHWH. All too often today, Christians seem to act and teach that Yeshua will not come in judgment against those who are not living in obedience. However, scripture indicates otherwise here (and elsewhere).

I would summarize by saying we are called to hold fast to the name of Yeshua through persecution unto death, and to study, discern, and root out false teaching to ensure we are not following man’s mixed and mingled ways (good mixed with bad).

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Is In Control; Trust Him And Do Things His Way

Never doubt the LORD is ultimately in control, even when facing difficult circumstances. We are not promised an easy path with no trouble. Quite the contrary. We are warned that we should build our lives on the solid rock of Christ and his teachings so that when the storms come, we can stand firm. (Matthew 7:24-29)

The people of Israel lost the ark and it was out of their power to confront the Philistines and get it back. The LORD brought it back in his own timing after showing his power and glory to the Philistines.

We can also be reminded that, even when we celebrate and want to give glory to YHWH, be sure to do it his way, rather than our own. He smote over 50,000 Israelites who looked inside the ark. Only the Levites were supposed to handle the ark. In their excitement, the people disobeyed, and suffered greatly for it. The ark indeed represented the presence of YHWH. He is holy and the people were to approach him only in the ways he had prescribed, not in whatever way they wanted. There could clearly be a lot of study on this point alone.

1 Samuel 6

The Ark Returned to Israel

      1Now the ark of the LORD had been in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we shall send it to its place.” 3They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but you shall surely return to Him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” 4Then they said, “What shall be the guilt offering which we shall return to Him?” And they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5“So you shall make likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods, and your land. 6“Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed? 7“Now therefore, take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows on which there has never been a yoke; and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves home, away from them. 8“Take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. 9“Watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.”

      10Then the men did so, and took two milch cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11They put the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the box with the golden mice and the likenesses of their tumors. 12And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh.

      13Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone; and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices that day to the LORD. 16When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned to Ekron that day.

      17These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a guilt offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages. The large stone on which they set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.

      19He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20The men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?” 21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up to you.”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Is In Control

The LORD is in control, even when we face defeat. Sometimes the defeat is more about us and our relationship with our Father than it is about the physical enemy before us. The LORD can grant victory or defeat. He wants his people to obey him and be in proper relationship with him.

Even when the ark was taken in defeat before the Philistines, YHWH seems to have a plan for how to use the situation to rebuke the Philistines and bring the ark back home. He was not surprised by the capture of the ark. As a matter of consideration, he may have even led to its capture in battle as part of disciplining Eli’s sons and possibly Israel more broadly. He also used it to show his power to the Philistines and in quite a unique way to show how powerless Dagon, whom they worshiped, remained.

1 Samuel 5

Capture of the Ark Provokes God

      1Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. 3When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. 4But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

      6Now the hand of the LORD was heavy on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territories. 7When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god.” 8So they sent and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they said, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” And they brought the ark of the God of Israel around. 9After they had brought it around, the hand of the LORD was against the city with very great confusion; and He smote the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 10So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And as the ark of God came to Ekron the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel around to us, to kill us and our people.” 11They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly confusion throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12And the men who did not die were smitten with tumors and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

It Is About YHWH, Not The Ark

In 1 Samuel 4 we read about some significant events in Israel. Some can be puzzling to consider, others should give us pause to reflect in our own lives. We learned in 1 Samuel 3 that Samuel became a well known prophet guided by the LORD. We see here in 1 Samuel 4 that “the word of Samuel came to all Israel” preceding the Israelites going to battle (and losing) against the Philistines. This may seem puzzling, it does to me. The LORD was guiding Samuel, clearly identified at the end of 1 Samuel 3. Samuel brought the word to Israel and they got defeated in battle. The missing piece is perhaps that we always think that YHWH wants us to win. But we will learn as we read that the defeat in battle actually accomplished YHWH’s purpose which he previously spoke through Samuel to Eli. Eli and his family were being punished and held accountable for the sin and rebellion of Eli’s sons against YHWH in their service as priests and in Eli’s failure to correct his sons effectively.

The people of Israel, instead of pausing to ask YHWH why they had lost decided to go in to battle with the ark. They were defeated again. The power is in YHWH, not the ark. They carried it as if it was an idol that would, by itself bring victory. They should have turned to the LORD to seek an answer.

We should surely pause to consider what in our lives we need to consult the LORD for as we face defeat. Let us seek him genuinely and wholeheartedly. Let us repent if needed and do things his way. Let us not just keep going back to defeat over and over on our own power.

1 Samuel 4

Philistines Take the Ark in Victory

     1Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek. 2The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.” 4So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

      5As the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded. 6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. 7The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8“Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9“Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”

      10So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

      12Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God. So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. 14When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the noise of this commotion mean?” Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli. 15Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. 16The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?” 17Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” 18When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years.

      19Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’s wife, was pregnant and about to give birth; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Put Your Children In Higher Priority Than YHWH

1 Samuel 2 is filled with significance. We began 1 Samuel with Hannah praising YHWH for giving her a son as she follows through to dedicate him to the LORD’s service at the temple. Through strong faith she was joyful and trusting in the LORD’s plans for Samuel. She still came to him and provided him new clothes annually and she was blessed with quite a few additional children.

In contrast, we see Eli’s sons committing rebellious and deeply offensive acts before YHWH. Eli rebukes, somewhat lightly, and does not really deal with the situation. At that point, the LORD determines that he is no at fault as well as his sons for not resolving the situation. As the Creator puts it, Eli has put his corrupt sons above YHWH himself. We can read then the repercussions of this in the chapter. They are significant. Though Eli rebuked his sons, he was light and did not stop the offensive behavior. It was not enough. In the end, he did not do his sons any favors either. They would have done better with more consequences from Eli and perhaps had more likelihood to repent.

If there is one message to take from this chapter, and there are actually a handful, let us remember that we are to hold YHWH in higher regard and priority than our children. Of course, we also see the LORD will discipline those of his people who rebel openly against him and defile his name. We do not always see the discipline or identify it as discipline, but all of us face judgment ultimately before him. Many of us also face consequences in our lives as a result of sin and we may not even connect that the sin is the cause. Let us be humble before the LORD, ask him to show us our sin and to help us repent from it.

1 Samuel 2:12-36

The Sin of Eli’s Sons

      12Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD 13and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.” 16If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.” 17Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD.

Samuel before the LORD as a Boy

      18Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD, as a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19And his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the LORD give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD.” And they went to their own home.

      21The LORD visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the LORD.

Eli Rebukes His Sons

      22Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 23He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? 24“No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the LORD’S people circulating. 25“If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.

      26Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.

      27Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh’s house? 28‘Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? 29‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’ 30“Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the LORD declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. 31‘Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father’s house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32‘You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 33‘Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life. 34‘This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. 35‘But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always. 36‘Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and say, “Please assign me to one of the priest’s offices so that I may eat a piece of bread.”’”

Blessed Is The Man Who Perseveres Under Trial

The book of James is very direct and to the point. There is a lot of solid guidance inside and I find I must go more slowly in order to avoid skipping right over some. As such, I will break James 1 into more than one article.

James 1:1-18

Testing Your Faith

      1James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

      2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

      5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

      9But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

      12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Considering it joy when we face trials is certainly not the reaction of the flesh and self. James highlights one way in which YHWH uses such difficulties to develop us personally. It is a great attitude and if you need to ask YHWH to help you experience your trials with that attitude, go ahead and ask for his help.

James encourages us to ask for wisdom if we need it. Who doesn’t! I do indeed ask the LORD for wisdom and often. I can try to study and think and understand a situation, but sometimes he has something in mind that I will not possibly put together on my own. I need his wisdom.

The warning from James is also a good reminder… don’t ask if you don’t expect him to answer. Ask with confidence that he is able and will help you. Ask with faith. This does not mean you will always get what you ask for, but the LORD does want us to approach him with a confident faith.

The next round is a bit challenging. For a person of humble background to glory when in a high position sounds easy enough, but the flipside for a rich man to glory in his humiliation… that sounds tough. I believe the context is that rich people may have a tendency to be self reliant instead of reliant on YHWH. When they  face defeat or challenges (e.g. humiliation), perhaps that brings more humility to help them submit more fully on YHWH and recognize their dependence on him.

James also warns about a common misunderstanding that still is around today. YHWH is not the one who tempts you. He may allow you to be tempted, but he does not tempt you into sin. That comes from our own lusts. James does not even point to Satan here, but to ourselves. Let us remember we inherently have a sin nature. Through Yeshua we are made clean and through the Spirit we are led to more holy living.

I find it very interesting that the next chapter talks about every good and perfect gift coming from above, after talking a lot about humiliation and hard times. These can indeed be gifts to the one who endures and grows stronger and more faithful in the LORD. I would definitely say in my life that enduring trials has helped me to grow closer to the LORD, though I still don’t ask for more trials!

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

He Disciplines Those Whom He Loves

Hebrews 12 reminds us of at least two key concepts. The first is that Yeshua is our example and we should keep our eyes fixed on him and pursue him. Do not rely simply on what others say about him, but instead study what the Bible actually says about him. Many portray him incorrectly, even in churches.

The second point is an important reminder that the LORD disciplines those whom he loves, those who are his children. Receive it well and learn and adapt to go the way he is directing you. Do not take his discipline as failure and stop trying to follow him. He may not discipline those whom he has not called.

Hebrews 12

Jesus, the Example

     1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

      3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A Father’s Discipline

     4You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

      6FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

      12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

      14Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Contrast of Sinai and Zion

     18For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.” 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

The Unshaken Kingdom

     25See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” 27This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29for our God is a consuming fire.

Let us remember well that he disciplines those he loves and let us accept and learn from the discipline of the LORD.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

The LORD Disciplines Those He Loves

Transitioning from Judges 5 to Judges 6, we see a continuation of a pattern. Israel disobeys the LORD and does what is evil in his sight, the LORD hands them over to enemies for a time, the people repent and cry out to the LORD, and he raises up a leader to bring them out of bondage.

The whole cycle repeats. It hinges on the obedience of the people to YHWH and their not doing what is evil in his sight. It does not hinge on the strength of their military. There is no mention of that.

We should take heed as we see this pattern. YHWH does not change. We should not expect our own nations to be immune from this cycle if we wish to be followers of Yeshua. We should not expect our personal lives to be immune from this cycle. Quite the contrary. He will discipline those he loves as a father does. I am a father. I don’t discipline children I don’t know or that don’t know me. I discipline my children and I do so in part for their own benefit.

Hebrews 12:6

    6FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

Let us keep this in mind personally and as a nation and act accordingly.

Judges 6:1-10

Israel Oppressed by Midian

      1Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. 2The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. 4So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. 5For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. 6So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.

      7Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, 8that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. 9‘I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, 10and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”’”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.