Seeking God’s Direction

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 2:1 (NIV)
In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The Lord said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.

2 Samuel 2:1 (MSG)
After all this, David prayed. He asked God, “Shall I move to one of the cities of Judah?” God said, “Yes, move.” “And to which city?” “To Hebron.”
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“So it happened after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up into one of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” And He said, “To Hebron.” -AMPLIFIED

David has received the news of the death of Saul and his sons with great sadness. He and his men took the time to mourn the passing of their king. Now it is time to decide what his next step will be.

Remember, David had already been anointed as the next king of Israel (This had happened 15-20 years before.). Yet, now he must figure out how to go about taking the crown for himself. Thankfully, David’s first action was not to meet with his men to decide the next step, nor with his family, but with the Lord. This guy had his priorities in the right order.

David did not beat around the bush with God either. He got right to the point and asked God the one question heavy on his mind. “Should I go up now to one of the cities of Judah?” God answered David, “Go!” David asked, “Well, where should I go then?” God answered, “Go to Hebron.”

It was time for David to make his move in order to claim his kingship. “So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns.” -2 Samuel 2:2-3 (VOICE)

David is off to a good start. He checked with God to find out what he was to do and then he obediently did exactly as God had bid him do. David’s attitude was very different than Saul’s. Whereas Saul had an issue with obedience, David did not. Remember those words that Samuel had to speak to Saul, “Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)

“David inquired of the LORD: Certainly, this was key to success in David’s life. With rare exceptions, he constantly inquired of the LORD. David wanted more than God’s blessing on his plans, he wanted to be right in the middle of God’s plan.” -David Guzik Commentary on the Bible

Because of David’s obedience to do the Lord’s bidding we find the first steps for him receiving his kingship begining. “Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.” -2 Samuel 2:4a (NIV)

How important is it to seek God’s direction in our lives? Or even more importantly seeking Him first; before any anyone or anything else. Jesus told his followers, “First and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” -Matthew 6:33 (AMP)

So what does it mean to seek God first? It means that God is our first priority. This means we obey his commands, seek to do His will always and reciprocate His love. God honors us when He is honored as our top priority. He’s jealous of us. Scripture tells us, “Those who honor me (God) I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” -1 Samuel 2:30b (NIV)

The Bible has quite a bit to say about our need to seek God in our lives:

* “But even there, if you seek God, your God, you’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin, he won’t forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them.” -Deuteronomy 4:29-31 (MSG)

* “The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand (act wisely), who [truly] seek after God, [longing for His wisdom and guidance].” -Psalm 14:2 (AMP)

* “But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.” -Hebrews 11:6 (AMP)

We need to let God be at the forefront of our thoughts and the guide of our very hearts. Seek Him first in all things!

“We can seek God and find him! God is knowable, touchable, hearable, seeable, with the mind, the hands, the ears and the eyes of the inner man.” ~A. W. Tozer

My Prayer:
Lord, It is my desire to seek you and your will in my life. Help that to be the case as a first resort and not a last resort. You have said if I earnestly seek you I will find you. I am seeking, Lord! Allow your Holy Spirit to constantly draw my attention back to you so that I will be seeking your will in my life in every instance. God, thank you for being the one constant in my life. I know I can always count on you!

A Godly Attitude and Response

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 1:11-12 (NIV)
Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

2 Samuel 1:11-12 (MSG)
In lament, David ripped his clothes to ribbons. All the men with him did the same. They wept and fasted the rest of the day, grieving the death of Saul and his son Jonathan, and also the army of God and the nation Israel, victims in a failed battle.
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“Then David grasped his own clothes and tore them [in mourning]; so did all the men who were with him. They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and Jonathan his son, and for the Lord’s people and the house of [a]Israel, because they had fallen by the sword [in battle].” -AMPLIFIED

Three days after David arrived back to Ziklag news of Saul’s death arrived. A man showed up unannounced, having traveled all the way from Saul’s army camp. Obviously the man was a wreck, he had traveled far and was in a state of mourning. Falling on his knees before David he informed David that he had just come from the battle.

David pressed the man for news from the battlefront. The man informs him, “The Israelites have fled the battlefield, leaving a lot of their dead comrades behind. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.” -2 Samuel 1:4 (MSG)

David was shocked by this news. He asked the man, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

The messenger replied, “Because I happened to be on Mount Gilboa during the attack, and I saw Saul leaning against his spear as the chariots and cavalry approached. He looked around and saw me, and he called to me. I told him, “I am here, my lord.” He asked who I was, and I told him I am an Amalekite. Then he said, “Come here. Stand over me, and kill me because I am suffering but am still alive.” So I did what he asked, because I knew he would not live after he had fallen. I took the crown from his head and his gold armlet and brought them here to you, my lord whom I recognize as the next king.” -2 Samuel 1:6-10 (VOICE)

When David heard this part of the message he was overcome with grief. He was so distressed at the news that he tore his clothes, mourned, wept, and fasted until evening. In fact, his men followed his example as well. They did this in honor of Saul and Jonathan; their king and his son.

“David viewed Saul though the lens of Saul’s divine calling as the Lord’s anointed servant who fought the Lord’s enemies and in his public role as the top political leader of his nation. David also recalled their friendship in their early days together. The temptation is to view people only through the lens of how they mistreated us personally, thus seeing them mostly as a personal enemy.” -Mike Bickle INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PRAYER UNIVERSITY

Scripture reminds us that we need to be careful of our attitudes towards those who have hurt and misused us.

* “Do not rejoice and gloat when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad [in self-righteousness] when he stumbles, or the Lord will see your gloating and be displeased, and turn His anger away from your enemy.” -Proverbs 24:17-18 (AMP)

* “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” -Luke 6:27-30 (MSG)

* “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” -Matthew 5:8-12 (MSG)

David sang had this lament to sing over Saul and his son Jonathan. He also gave orders that everyone in Judah was to learn it by heart.

“The beauty of Israel lies dead upon your high places.
O how the mighty have fallen!
Don’t speak of this in the city of Gath;
don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon,
Or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice.
The daughters of the foreigners[b] will sing for joy.
Mountains of Gilboa, let no rain or dew water you;
may your mountain fields offer only dust.
The shield of the mighty was defiled with your enemy’s blood;
even the shield of Saul is no longer anointed with oil by the Eternal.
With the blood of the slain
and with the fat of the strong,
Jonathan’s bow never lost aim;
Saul’s sword never came back empty.
Saul and Jonathan were beloved and delightful,
always together in life and now in death.
They were faster than eagles;
they were mightier than lions.
O daughters of Israel, cry out for Saul,
who clothed you in luxurious crimson,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
O how the mighty have fallen
in the height of the battle!
Jonathan lies dead upon your high places.
I agonize over you, my brother Jonathan.
I have delighted in you;
and your love for me was wonderful,
beyond even the love of women.
how the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war lie broken!” -2 Samuel 1:19-27 (VOICE)

May we too have a godly attitude and response when dealing with those who spitefully use us.

My Prayer:
Lord, give me a right attitude and response when dealing with those who hurt me and spitefully use me. I want to have the attitude of Christ. Let me have that same forgiveness that was extended to me available to extend to others. Your grace was greater than all of my sins. Let me show that same mercy and grace to others. I am yours, Lord. Work in my life as you will; all I want is to be like you.

Respect

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 31:11-13 (NIV)
When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

1 Samuel 31:11-13(MSG)
The people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul. Their valiant men sprang into action. They traveled all night, took the corpses of Saul and his three sons from the wall at Beth Shan, and carried them back to Jabesh and burned off the flesh. They then buried the bones under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted in mourning for seven days.
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“When the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the brave men stood and walked all night, and they took the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and cremated them there. They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted [as a sign of mourning and respect] for seven days.” -AMPLIFIED

Saul and his sons have been killed in battle against the Philistines. Saul’s army has fled in fear. In fact, “When the people of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and even those beyond the Jordan River, learned that the Israelite army had been defeated and heard that Saul and his sons were dead, they left their cities and fled. Then the Philistines came and lived in them.” -1 Samuel 31:7 (VOICE)

Scripture tells us that the day after their deaths, when the Philistines had come back to loot the bodies, they stumbled upon Saul and his sons and they did something horrific. “They cut off Saul’s head, stripped his body of his weapons, and sent messengers with the good news to the temples and to the people throughout Philistia. They put Saul’s armor in the temple of Astarte and nailed his body to the wall at Beth-shan.” -1 Samuel 31:9-10 (VOICE)

The Philistines not only desecrated Saul’s body by removing his head, but they nailed his body and the bodies of his sons to the wall at Beth Shan. Now, we may wonder how it was possible for news to travel so quickly, but somehow news got back to Israel. In fact, it made its way to Jabesh-gilead, the village that Saul had rescued from an attack led by Nahash the Ammonite; way back in chapter 11. This act of kindness extended to the people of this village was about to be repaid by a thoughtful expression of their gratitude to their fallen king.

When the news had reached the ears of the people of Jabesh-gilead, and they heard how terribly the body of their fallen king had been treated, these courageous men decided that they needed to do something about this horrible situation. We are told that these valiant group of men marched through the night to retrieve their king’s body, and the bodies of his sons, in order to give them a respectable burial.

We are told that these men retrieved the remains and did something that is NOT a norm for the people of Israel; they burned the bodies. Why would they do such a thing after traveling so far to retrieve them? They were worried that the Philistines would dig up the bones once again and further insult them. So these men took drastic measures in order to protect the honor of their king.

The men retrieved the bodies and carried them back to Jabesh-gilead in order to bury them. There, under a tamarisk tree, they reverently laid their king and his sons. The people of Jabesh-gilead then fasted seven days in mourning for their king. All of this was a gesture of appreciation and respect for their now passed king.

These men went out of their way to show respect to their king. Saul had helped them in their hour of need and in return they helped him. Saul was not the best king, he had disobeyed God, neglected his duties to chase after his son-in-law, battled evil spirits and let his pride dictate how he lived his life. But God had placed him as King of Israel and he still deserved respect and honor.

David too showed respect for the Lord’s anointed one. Time and time again, when Saul was pursuing him, he had opportunity to kill Saul, but he understood the need to respect the man that God had placed in authority.

The Apostle Paul warns us that we too need to show respect to whatever government rules over us. “Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.” -Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)

The Apostle Peter also had something to say about respecting authority. “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” -1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)

We would do well to respect the authority that has been placed over each of us as well. This does not mean that we agree with everything that the authority says or does, but it does mean that we should be showing them honor and respect. For ultimately it is God who has allowed them to be placed in authority over us. Pray for them! They have a difficult job and they need it!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to be respectful of those whom you have placed in authority over me. They may not be perfect and they may do things that I do not agree with, but you have placed them in authority. I pray that you will bless these men and women who lead us. Give them wisdom in making decisions that affect so many; they have a great responsibility. God, allow your Holy Spirit to lead and guide.

Saul’s Journey to Self-Destruction

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 31:3-4New International Version (NIV)
The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.

1 Samuel 31:3-6 (MSG)
The battle was hot and heavy around Saul. The archers got his range and wounded him badly. Saul said to his weapon bearer, “Draw your sword and put me out of my misery, lest these pagan pigs come and make a game out of killing me.”
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“The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was severely wounded by the archers. Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised [Philistines] will come and pierce me through and abuse and mock me.” But his armor bearer would not, because he was terrified [of doing such a thing]. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.” -AMPLIFIED

The focus of His-Story (God’s Story) once again changes; this time from David, back to Saul. Today we will scrutinize the final moments of King Saul’s life. Here was a man who had the potential for greatness; if only. Opportunity had come knocking at his door with the chance for a great future, but…. But Saul allowed the seeds of destruction to take root in his heart. Some of those seeds were:
*Disobedience
*Pride
*Fear
*Anger
*Hatred
*Unforgiveness
*Self-reliance (He did not rely or trust on God)

We are told in 1 Samuel 31, the final chapter of the book, there was a battle raging between the Philistines and the Israelites. The Philistines had the upper hand and the Israelites were running for their lives. Many of the Israelites were killed on the heights of Gilboa as they were fleeing.

The background is being set for the climax of Saul’s story. All of his men are in fear for their lives, so most of them have basically left him to fend fend for himself. Saul’s sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua, are near in proximity to him; possibly trying to protect their father. The Philistines close in upon them and we are told they kill Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua, the sons of Saul.

The battle closes in around Saul even more and we find that he is badly wounded by a Philistine archer. In desperation, because he did not want to be killed by an uncircumcised heathen, (Saul’s pride stayed with him till the bitter end.) he begs his weapon bearer to kill him. “Please take out your sword and thrust it through me. Don’t let these uncircumcised dogs come and put their swords and spears into me for their sport.” -1 Samuel 31:4 (VOICE)

Saul’s armor-bearer was afraid. He would not touch the Lord’s anointed and kill his king. We then find Saul drawing out his own sword and falling upon it. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Scripture also tells us this, “When the armor-bearer saw this, he also drew his sword and fell upon it and died. So Saul, his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men died together on the same day.” -1 Samuel 31:5-6 (VOICE) Once again we see that Saul’s sin did not just affect himself, but those around him as well.

You could say that Saul became his own worst enemy. He began his career as king humble and with a good character, but it did not take long for prIde to take over in his life. He made unwise choices. He chose to disobey God. He allowed his anger and emotions to rule; which lead to more foolish decisions. All of these facts lead him down a road of self-destruction.

Inside each of us is God given potential; an opportunity for greatness. It is God’s promise that he has a plan and a future for our lives. This potential is an opportunity for us to accomplish great things for God in our life time. “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” -Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

In spite of all our God-given potential, many of us never live up to our fullest potential. How sad is that? Just like Saul, we insist on doing things our own way. We allow pride to dictate what we will or will not do. We carry unforgiveness, anger, hatred and fear in our hearts. Too often we allow our emotions to guide our decisions. To top it all off, in doing all of this we have not only chosen to disobey God, but we have sown the seeds of our own destruction in our lives.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap. For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.” -Galatians 6:7-9 (AMP)

Beware of the journey toward self-destruction. Lest we forget, the first step often begins with pride. It is that thought that we DO NOT need God; that we can quite easily handle the situation on our own. It is that thought that tells us that “I am better than this….”

Remember, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” -Proverbs 16:18 (AMP)

My Prayer:
Father, forgive me for those times that I have let my pride dictate what I should do. I know that my first priority is obedience to you and your directives. Please, allow your Holy Spirit to dig up those seeds of destruction out of my life. I do not want to be bearing that kind of fruit. Instead, may I have the fruit of your Spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I want you to be pleased with me, Lord.

Dissension in the Ranks

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 30:21-22 (NIV)
Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

1 Samuel 30:21-22 (MSG)
Then David came to the two hundred who had been too tired to continue with him and had dropped out at the Brook Besor. They came out to welcome David and his band. As he came near he called out, “Success!” But all the mean-spirited men who had marched with David, the rabble element, objected: “They didn’t help in the rescue, they don’t get any of the plunder we recovered. Each man can have his wife and children, but that’s it. Take them and go!
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“David came to the two hundred men who were so exhausted that they could not follow him and had been left at the brook Besor [with the provisions]. They went out to meet David and the people with him, and when he approached the people, he greeted them. Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will give them none of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may take his wife and children away and leave.” -AMPLIFIED

The victory against the Amalekites had been won. David and his men headed back toward Ziklag with their rescued family members, all their restored belongings and the spoils of war that they had taken from the enemy. They returned the way that they had traveled on the way and in so doing they came to the two hundred men who had been left behind from extreme exhaustion. (These guys had been left in charge of caring for the supplies while David and the rest of the men went on to fight.)

I am sure there must have been a lot of joyful celebrating going on as this large mass of people were traveling back. So those who had been left behind would have certainly heard the returning warriors. They rushed out from the camp to welcome the men; to see how the battle went. David greeted them with a resounding word, “Success!” That word alone conveyed everything that they wanted to know.

Sadly, there were a band of troublemakers in the group. We are not told how many of David’s men were included in this band of troublemakers, but it only takes one person to stir up trouble. Trouble was exactly what these guys were aiming for too. These guys were wicked and greedy were are told; evil and mean-spirited. (I am sure we all have dealt with people just like them.)

These men said to David, “Because these men didn’t go with us, why should we give them back the things we recovered for them? Sure, let them take back their wives and their children. But that’s all. We’ll keep the rest, and they must leave.” -(VOICE)

David was not having anything to do with their foolishness though. He was their leader and as leader he told them exactly how the situation was going to be handled. “My brothers, this is not how we’re going to treat what the Eternal One has returned to us. He saved us and gave us success over the raiding party that sacked our city. 24 Why would anyone agree with you about this matter? The share of the one who fights is the same as the share of the one who looks after the supplies. We all share equally.” -1 Samuel 30:23-24 (VOICE)

David nipped that bit of trouble right in the bud. He does not let these men get the upper hand, but he takes the initiative and refuses to allow them to have their way. As leader he was the man in charge. He also set a standard in place that would stand for the future; we are told this David made his decision a law and an ordinance. And at the time of the writing of 1 Samuel it was still a law.

David had to deal with those troublemakers. If he did not take the initiative there could have been even bigger problems down the road. The Bible gives us clear guidelines on how we are to deal with troublemakers who are bent on causing dissension within the family of God.

* “I am pleading with all of you, brothers and sisters, to keep up your guard against anyone who is causing conflicts and enticing others with teachings contrary to what you have already learned. If there are people like that in your churches, stay away from them. These kinds of people are not truly serving our Lord Jesus the Anointed; they have devoted their lives to satisfying their own appetites. With smooth talking and a well-rehearsed blessing, they lead a lot of unsuspecting people down the wrong path.” -Romans 16:17-18 (VOICE)

* “Tell them these things. Encourage and rebuke with full authority. Let no one disregard or despise you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect]. Remind people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready and willing to do good, to slander or abuse no one, to be kind and conciliatory and gentle, showing unqualified consideration and courtesy toward everyone.” -Titus 2:15-3:2 (AMP)

* “Remind the people of these facts, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God to avoid petty controversy over words, which does no good, and [upsets and undermines and] ruins [the faith of] those who listen. Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:14-15 (AMP)

The Apostle Peter put these guidelines in place to encourage us to be peacemakers and not troublemakers:
“Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. “Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.” -1 Peter 3:8-12 (MSG)

How do we deal with a troublemaker?
1.) Pray for them. Let God deal with them.
2.) Do not go along with their game.
3.) Do not try and retaliate; doing so brings you down to their level.
4.) Do not argue with them. You will not win.
5.) You may need to just walk away.
6.) Remember, you are a child of the Most High God; act like it!
7.) Love the person and keep no record of their wrongs. (Jesus does.)
8.) Pray for them again.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” -Matthew 5:9 (MSG)

My Prayer:
Lord, I want to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker. Work in my life; fill me with your peace. When I am confronted by those who insist on be troublemakers, help me to extend your love to them and to handle those situations in a godly manner. My desire is to be more like Jesus; help me to emulate the godly attitude that you desire for me to have. Let others see more of you and less of me.

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 30:8 (NIV)
…and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

1 Samuel 30:8 (MSG)
Then David prayed to God, “Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?”
The answer came, “Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!”
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“David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this band [of raiders]? Will I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you will certainly overtake them, and you will certainly rescue [the captives].” -AMPLIFIED

Today we will consider the fact that when God speaks, when He directs us, then we need to listen. Why? Because we will find that He can turn our tragedies into triumphs! David is a very good example of this truth.

David and his men had marched three days to arrive home to their village Ziklag. There they found just smoldering rubble. Everyone and everything was gone. The Amalekites had come and raided the village while the men were away; carrying off their loved ones to be used as slaves.

After a good cry and the threat of a stoning, David called for Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod so they could inquire of the Lord. (Good move on David’s part.) David prays, inquiring of the Lord, “Should we pursue these raiders? Can we catch them?” -(VOICE)

God answered David with a resounding “Yes!” “Yes, go after them. Yes, you will catch them. Yes, you will rescue your loved ones.” Good news!

So David gathered his six hundred men together and set off. They came to the wadi Besor, a dry creek bed where David had to leave 200 men behind, because there were too exhausted to continue on. (Remember, they had already traveled a long distance to get back to Ziklag and then were confronted with a great sorrow.)

Four hundred men continued on. They stumbled upon an Egyptian servant left behind to die. (Remember, there are no coincidences with God.) David’s men gave the man some water and food. In return, they gained some much needed information. David asked him, “Can you lead us to the raiders?” The servant replied, “Indeed, I can.” So they all set off in hot pursuit.

This Egyptian was true to his word; he lead David and his men right to the Amalekites. Now the Amalekites were, in fact, eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating, because they had taken such great spoils in their raids. They were so busy celebrating that they had left no one to stand guard. David and his men, still angry over what had been done to their families and home came in like a storm.

We are told that David and his men fought against the Amalekites from one twilight to the next. They killed all of the Amalekites except for 400 young men who had escaped on camels.

Scripture then tells us that everything that had been lost was recovered. “So David recovered everything that had been taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing—from the smallest thing to the greatest treasure, none of the sons or daughters, no property of any kind. David brought everything home.” -1 Samuel 30:18-19 (MSG)

God has a way of bringing triumph out of tragedy. For the child of God those times of struggle, adversity, and catastrophe provide an opportunity for us to watch our Good Father at work.

Here are a few verses that remind us of God’s promises in times of tragedy:

* “Cast your burden on the Lord [release it] and He will sustain and uphold you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail).” -Psalm 55:22 (AMP)

* “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” -Psalms 147:3 (AMP)

* “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]” -John 14:27 (AMP)

* “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

Trusting God in those difficult situations is of the utmost importance for every Christian believer. God loves us. He desires the best for us and sometimes the best comes in our darkest hours.

“God can take tragedy and turn it into triumph. He routinely does this for those who love him.” ~ Dr. James Dobson

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to trust you more; especially in those times of tragedy and adversity. I know nothing is impossible for you and that you also have good plans for my life. Give me peace in those difficult situations and let my trust grow. Everything that you allow to happen in my life happens for a purpose.

Facing Tragedy

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 30:1-3 (NIV)
David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.

1 Samuel 30:1-3(MSG)
Three days later, David and his men arrived back in Ziklag. Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They tore Ziklag to pieces and then burned it down. They captured all the women, young and old. They didn’t kill anyone, but drove them like a herd of cattle. By the time David and his men entered the village, it had been burned to the ground, and their wives, sons, and daughters all taken prisoner.
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“Now it happened when David and his men came [home] to Ziklag on the third day, [they found] that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev (the South country) and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; and they had taken captive the women [and all] who were there, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off [to be used as slaves] and went on their way. When David and his men came to the town, it was burned, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive.” -AMPLIFIED

David has left Achish and him army to return back to Ziklag. It actually took them three days to make their way home. Back to where they had left their families. When they arrived they found something devastating; the Amalekites had raided their hometown. They had torn the whole town to pieces and then burned the pieces completely down to the ground. Nothing was left. In fact, every person, wife, children, and elderly had been captured and carried off as hostages. Thankfully no one was killed; they were all carried off to be used as slaves.

Imagine the horror and hopelessness these guys must have felt as they walked into sight of town and were met with this overwhelming, very painful sight. They would have seen the smoke rising from the ruins first. Rushing into town they would have noticed there were no bodies around. We are told that they immediately broke into great sobs, wailing over the loss of their loved ones. They wept until they were totally exhausted with weeping.

Scripture then tells us that some of David’s men were so distraught they considered stoning him for what had happened to all of them. None of this was David’s fault though. He himself had suffered great loss. His two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel, had been taken prisoner along with everyone else’s family members.

Let us notice something of great importance that happens at this point to David in His-story (God’s Story).
“David strengthened himself with trust in his God.” -1 Samuel 30:6 (MSG)
“But David felt strengthened and encouraged in the Lord his God.” -(AMP)
“But David found strength in the Lord his God.” -(NIV)
“But David took comfort in the Eternal One, his True God.” -(VOICE)

Tragedy turned David’s heart toward the Lord; not away from Him. This is a key that we all need to learn. Life sends us all challenges that can either make us bitter toward God or drive us closer to Him. David had chosen wisely; he chose to turn to God.

David decided to publicly consult the Lord. “He ordered Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the Ephod so I can consult God.” Abiathar brought it to David. Then David prayed to God, “Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?” The answer came, “Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!” -1 Samuel 30:7-8 (MSG)

Tomorrow we will take the time to get into the rescue mission and how it turned out. Today it is imperative that we understand the fact that like David, when faced with adversity we need to run to God; not away from Him.

Sometimes we go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in order to reach the top of a mountain. That valley is what we call the times of tragedy and adversity. In those times we often question God; and there is nothing wrong with being honest with Him. Where the issue comes into play is when we get angry with Him and turn our backs on Him. Remember this truth, “Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you.” -James 4:8 (AMP)

Here are some promises that we all can hold on to during those times of tragedy and adversity:

* “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.” -Lamentations 3:22-24 (MSG)

* “Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” -Psalm 34:17-18 (MSG)

* “For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, in His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” -Psalm 27:5-6 (AMP)

In those tough times, be sure you are turning to God; not away from Him. He is the one who will always be available to you.

My Prayer:
Lord, I chose to trust you; even in those times of tragedy. I have been through many and I know that you are the one who is ever faithful. You are the one constant in my life that I can always count on; thank you for that, Lord. Your loyal love never runs out. When I am in trouble I know that I can find sanctuary in your secret place. All these promises bring comfort and peace to my heart. Thank you for being my Heavenly Father.