1 Samuel 20:16-17
Monday, July 13, 2020
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and a good friend to David. Jonathan was an unusual man in several ways. He was not threatened by David’s success as a soldier, and he continued to be a friend to David despite Saul’s jealousy of David. Jonathan supported David and loved him as a friend though Saul wanted to kill David. Jonathan protected David by keeping in close contact with Saul to know what Saul was planning.
Jonathan was a good man who was mature in character. He admired David’s military and leadership skills but felt no need to be envious because his skills were different from David’s. Jonathan was a compassionate man, and one who cultivated deep relationships.
Jonathan is a good example for us to follow. God has created us with unique qualities and strengths. God has made no person is better or worse, just different from one another. What a joy that Jonathan could appreciate what he saw in David, support him as a friend, and separate himself from his father’s wrong. May we also choose to be a good friend to another, and especially in one’s time of need.
Thank you, Lord, for friends who teach us about you, who care for us in a crisis, and become like family in their love. Help us commit to being friends with others the way Jonathan cared for David. We lift up our friends to you, and thank you. Amen.
1 Samuel 17:45-50
Saturday, July 11
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
Most people have heard the story of David and Goliath. Young David is courageous and meets the giant Goliath in one-on-one battle. David triumphs despite his youth and inexperience, because he comes in the name of the Lord.
David is the true underdog. No one expected him to win. Saul tried to give David a fighting chance by offering David his armor, but David took them off again because they were unfamiliar to him. Instead he used his everyday tools, five smooth stones and his slingshot.
There are so many applications of this story that are still useful today. It’s not the size of the problem in front of us that matters. What counts is our faith in God, who is bigger than any conflict we face. David could not be effective trying on Saul’s armor. It may have been effective for Saul, but not David. David had to use his own resources, the skills that God had given him in caring for his sheep.
Most importantly for me is that David knew that this conflict was all about giving God the glory. He couldn’t be afraid, because to back down would be to admit that God was not in charge. God was not powerful enough against his enemy. David knew that he had to win, to give praise to God. He did not fight to receive accolades for himself, only for God. That’s the kind of request that God honors. That’s the odds God likes. Put it in God’s hands and trust him to meet your foes.
Lord, help me meet the challenges ahead of me with a right motivation – to succeed for your sake, not mine. It’s not about my personal glory but it is all about giving it to you. No matter what is happening in my life today, let me give you the praise in Jesus Christ my savior. Amen.
Friday, July 10
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Yesterday we read about the Lord anointing David as Israel’s next king. David was a shepherd as a youth; that’s what he was doing on the day when Samuel came to his father’s house. David knew by faith that God was a shepherd to him. God was guiding him to safety the same way that David cared for his sheep. Jesus expressed this same idea as given in John’s gospel, chapter 10. “I am the good shepherd, who gives his life for the sheep.”
David says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” God cares for me. It is personal. God is real to me and cares for me, so I will never be abandoned and left to wander all alone. No matter what perils I have to face, I have a strong protector in the Lord. God allows me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will get past my current trials by the grace of God. There is no evil that can take me away from God’s loving care.
Praise God for these powerful words written so long ago! Thank God for his comfort when we need it most. Keep us strong in your love, O God.
So many people are suffering today, Lord. We pray for those who mourn, for those who have not known your loving comfort, who do not know how to call upon your name. We ask your comfort and your peace upon them. Forgive our sins that create the shadows of darkness within us. Set us free through faith in Christ, to love you and honor you above all others. This we pray in Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Samuel 16:10-13
Thursday, July 9
10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
God asked Samuel to go anoint another king whom God would choose, because Saul, Israel’s first king, God considered unworthy. God sent Samuel to the home of Jesse of Bethlehem. Remember Ruth, the foreign woman who traveled to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi? She married a man named Boaz and in time became grandmother to Jesse. Look in the beginning of Matthew’s gospel for the complete genealogy, for they are part of the family history of Jesus.
I love this story of David’s anointing; I love how God looks inside our hearts and does not consider our usual human reckoning about importance due to birth order or wealth or family background. God chose David, the youngest one, the one whom his father did not even consider bringing in from the field for Samuel to meet. Like a Cinderella story, David was no one special, just the youngest son, until God tapped him on the shoulder and blessed him with God’s Spirit.
May God bless each of you today through the indwelling of his Spirit within you. May you know how you are, like David, commissioned with particular work that uniquely fits you as the person of God’s making.
I may not feel the anointing of oil upon my forehead, but as I respond to you in faith, O Lord, I know that you have placed your Spirit within me. Thank you for the work I do today; may it be to your honor, because you have trusted in me. Let me powerfully realize the depth of your love, which has nothing to do with my age, appearance, wealth or position. I give you all praise in Jesus Christ my savior. Amen.
1 Samuel 3:19-21
Wednesday, July 8
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
Samuel spoke at a time when God’s word had not been heard for a long time in Israel’s history, like four hundred years. We read that none of Samuel’s words fell to the ground, meaning that all of the prophecies Samuel uttered were true words from God. Events came to pass as Samuel said they would.
God let no words of Samuel fall to the ground. This makes me think of the philosophical question – if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? Now substitute God’s word for the tree. If someone speaks God’s word but no one hears it, is it effective? God does not wish his words to fall to the ground without making an impact, being an influence, carrying out their purpose.
Samuel listened to Lord, and communicated well what he heard. God guided Samuel to listen and speak in ways that honored God, so that what Samuel prophesized happened. Mercy and judgment were spoken well.
I pray that we may also be a good channel, a good conduit of the Lord so that others may receive what God has spoken. May our words be supported by scripture and God’s truths, to the glory of God’s name.
Dear God, you know that our mouths can get us into trouble. As James puts it, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.” This should not be. Forgive the wrong words we speak. Let our mouths be used to share what good we have learned from you. May we not let your words fall to the ground, unused and trampled upon. This we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
1 Samuel 3:1-10
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
One commentator I read lists this story among his top seven stories in the Bible – stories like that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Noah and the ark, baby Moses in the bulrushes, Samson, David and Goliath. You might have your own favorites that come to mind. When I think of this story, I think also about God calling Isaiah to prophetic ministry. But there is much in this story for us as well.
We don’t know how old Isaiah was when God called him, but we do know that Samuel, like David when he was anointed, was only a boy. God chose to speak to Samuel, though Samuel was young. So young that he did not recognize God’s voice, even if he was obedient to run immediately to Eli when he heard the call. This happened several times before Eli perceived that it was God’s voice Samuel was hearing and told Samuel how to respond.
Hearing from God was rare in those days; there were not many visions. We do not have prophets as there were back then, even if we have God’s word in scripture. I think of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost when the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled, that sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. I think also of the song “Spirit of God, descend upon my heart” and particularly the second verse. “I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasy, no sudden rending of the veil of clay, no angel visitant, no opening skies, but take the dimness of my soul away.”
I am but one of many faithful persons around the world. I cannot claim to deserve any special vision from God above that of any other believer. I have perceived God’s guidance though I have never heard God’s voice in clear unmistakable tones. Verse 2 says that Eli’s eyes were weak, but was that also a reflection on his spiritual receptivity? I don’t want to be dim of soul. I want to listen to what God has to say in scripture, be faithful in prayer, and be ready like Samuel, to obey. May that be true for any one of us, that we would be ready when the Lord would call us by name.
Gracious and loving God, you love us with passion beyond what we may perceive. I want to respond back with that same kind of love for you; I want to obey and serve and do what you would have me do. Let me not be dim of soul. Today and every day let me look for your hand guiding me on right paths. Let me listen and be attentive to your word in scripture. Let me be as a good soldier waiting my orders and ready to immediately obey. In all things I pray through the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, July 6, 2020
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. 19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
This is a beautiful passage of love and devotion between family members, even family by marriage. Naomi was deeply loved by her daughter-in-law, enough for Ruth to choose to abandon her native country and her own family in order to travel to Naomi’s home town in Bethlehem. Naomi must have been an amazing role model and mentor, for Ruth to come to faith in God and choose to call Naomi her family, rather than her own.
Naomi suffered through the deaths of her husband and her only children, two sons. Still Naomi wanted the best for her two daughters-in-law, urging them to return to their families, since she could not provide other husbands for them. I wonder how the years changed Naomi in her absence from home. When she returned, the townspeople wondered, “Can this be Naomi?”
Naomi had a depth of character to be so loved by Ruth, along with the faith she passed on to her. She went through difficult times. We see in her a reflection of God’s love, who calls us family, who loves us and wants the best for us, who reaches out to us no matter where we came from and no matter what hardship we have experienced, and who calls us to be with him, in Jesus Christ.
Gracious God, help me today to know how much you love me, how much you love every person of your creation. Let me desire to be the same kind of model for others as Naomi was to her daughters-in-law. Let me seek to do all I can to further your good plans today, to the glory of your name. Amen
What We Believe
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son and our savior, who lived among us to teach us and die for us. He rose again to give us the promise of eternal life in him John 3:16. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is God dwelling in us John 14:15-17. We seek God’s word in the Bible, the foundation of our faith. Our mission as a church is to proclaim the good news of Christ to all. We honor Christ through worship and fellowship, encouraging one another in faith, hope and love 1 Corinthians 13:13, and serving our neighbors with compassion and justice.
We belong to the United Church of Christ. As a congregation we are granted the autonomy to govern our local church, and prayerfully make the best decisions we can on how to live out our calling as believers. Each person has the freedom and responsibility of discerning for themselves how faith in Jesus Christ impacts their daily walk and their worldview. We respect one another’s differences because even though we are diverse, we are still part of Christ’s body.
We look forward to welcoming you some day soon. Peace to you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sundays - Outdoors this summer
10:00 am Worship Service
with Children's Moment
Live Outdoor Worship this Sunday, July 12, 2020, 10:00 am @ Township Park next to the church. Bring a chair. Plenty of room for social distancing. Or stay in your car. Masks are encouraged. More details below in the June newsletter.