John Piper wrote, “I call you today to stop defining and limiting your future in terms of your past and start defining it in terms of your God.”
When we have a spirit of fear instead of the confidence that comes from a right relationship with God through Jesus, the smallest of things sends us ducking for cover! “As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall.” (Leviticus 26:36 NASB)
God says, “Fear not—there is nothing to fear—for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10 AMPC)
“When God calls you to be free from fear (to overcome this natural emotion and have peace), He does not leave the command hanging in the air. He puts pillars under it. Five of them in Isaiah 41:10. That’s the nature of all biblical commands. They come with divine support.
When we grasp that God is with us, that God is helping us, that God is bigger than the things we wrongly fear, there is nothing we cannot do!
As Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, and let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For there is nothing to prevent the Lord from saving by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6 AMPC)
O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by Your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for You! (Jeremiah 32:17 NLT)
“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (Matthew 17:20 MSG)
As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you (1 Samuel 12:23).
Leaders teach, and encourage, and train, and correct, and sometimes even warn. But despite all of this effort sometimes people still do wrong—and even sinful—things. And sometimes there are consequences for these poor choices that even a leader cannot deflect away from them.
Godly leaders say, “How can I serve you?”
The Israelites grumbled against God, and God was angry. It would have been understandable if Moses would have said, “You complained so you’re going to have to bear the consequences.” But instead, Moses interceded before God on their behalf (Numbers 11:1-2).
The people rejected God as their King and chose instead a man named Saul to lead them. Samuel could have said, “You’re in big trouble now!” But instead, he said, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
What about you? Have you ever grumbled against God or chosen a path that wasn’t best for you? Jesus could say, “Well, you should have known better!” But instead, we read that He intercedes before God’s throne on our behalf (Job 9:33-34; Hebrews 4:15-16; 7:25).
If you are a Christ-follower and you are a leader of people, then follow Christ’s example. Yes, continue to teach, encourage, train, correct, and warn. But if people mess up, don’t write them off; instead, intercede before God on their behalf!
This is part 32 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.
But now your kingdom must end…because you have not kept the Lord’s command (1 Samuel 13:14).
Saul, as the first king ever of Israel, could have set the standard. He could have raised the bar high. He could have been the measuring stick by which every other king in Israel’s history was judged. But he missed out on all that.
It was not only tragic but short-sighted too. The prophet Samuel told Saul, “How foolish! You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.”
Saul’s priority was about appearances. Saul’s priority was about betting on a sure winner. Saul’s priority was about working his agenda.
The psalmist tells us some of the benefits—
Make God’s Word your first—and highest—priority!
This is part 22 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
Dealing With Spiritually Stupid People
I would like you to notice what the word “stupid” means. It does not mean ignorant, but anything formed or done without reason or judgment. Ignorance is being without knowledge “and the times of this ignorance God winked at [‘overlooked’]” (Acts 17:30). Do distinguish between ignorance and stupidity! …
[Passages to consider—1 Samuel 26:21 [I have acted like a fool]; Titus 3:3 [at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved]; 2 Timothy 3:6-7 [silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with the burden of their sins and easily swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses]; and Hebrews 5:12 [you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word]]
What are we to do when we come across stupid souls? Ignorant souls we can deal with, they need knowledge; the stupid soul does not need knowledge; the stupid soul needs to have the Word of God until it is worried by it. …
Never water down the Word of God to the understanding of your people. … “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” The Word of God is “a lamp” and “a light,” but when people get off on the “stupid” lines, it is all instincts, impressions, vague ideas—“ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
From Workmen Of God
I know the word “stupid” seems like an inflammatory word, but don’t get distracted from Chambers’ pertinent point on account of this word. The Bible makes it clear that we will come across people who are stupid in regard to the things of God. Our course of action is not argument or persuasion, but—as Chambers says—“the Word of God, the Word of God, the Word of God, first second and last; no sympathy, no help, only the Word of God.”
Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away… (1 Samuel 13:8).
The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead.
Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.
Saul stayed … Saul waited … and as a result, Saul sinned.
Saul ended up being inappropriately reactive, and thus committing a sin. His reaction to his men slipping away, hiding, and defecting was to act in a way that was inappropriate for anyone but the priest.
It’s been said that action has killed its thousands, and reaction has killed its tens of thousands. But if only Saul would have proactively sought God, or proactively formed a battle strategy, or proactively spoke an encouraging word to his men, or proactively moved out with his troops—anything(!) but just sit still—perhaps his legacy as king wouldn’t have been so short lived.
When leaders aren’t appropriately proactive, they risk becoming inappropriately reactive.
This is part 20 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.
…he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6).
Sometimes we think of godly leaders as always being cool, calm, and collected. But to remain calm when the situation calls for a vigorous response is unbecoming of the title of “godly” leader, and may even be a sin.
The Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead had been surrounded by the forces of King Nahash. His terms of surrender to these Israelites was unduly harsh: “I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel! (v. 2).
When this message got to King Saul, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” He sent messengers to all of Israel demanding all the able-bodied men to come out to join his army in counter-attacking King Nahash.
Notice that what prompted Saul’s anger was God’s Spirit coming upon him. Since Israel was about to be disgraced, Saul had to act! Also notice this: “And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one” (v. 7).
The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy. God expresses strong emotions without sinning. When the Spirit of God made Saul angry at the oppression and potential disgrace of His people, Saul acted. To not act—to shrug his shoulders in apathy and say, “That’s not my problem”—would have been a sin.
Sometimes Christians want to suppress a strong feeling of hate or anger. But when God hates something or is angry at something, we would do well to pay attention to that and feel and act as God would have us act. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it never tells us not to be angry.
Anything that is keeping someone from God’s love or God’s presence should arouse our righteous anger to do righteous things.
This is part 19 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.