Changed into a Different Person

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 9 & 10

Poetry: Proverbs 6

New Testament: Acts Introduction below

Saul was looking for Samuel and Samuel was looking for Saul but for different reasons! At first, Saul was looking for his father’s donkeys, and Samuel for the king of Israel – then, all was found. Not only was Saul (tall and handsome) anointed the first king of Israel, but the Spirit of God came upon him. It even says, “He’d be turned into another man (1 Samuel 10:7) … God gave him another heart.” (10:9) Imagine to go looking for donkeys and to be anointed the first king of Israel, what a shocking surprise! Honestly, I’m not too surprised he was hiding amongst the equipment. That’s probably where I would’ve been too. But the LORD knew right where he was and whom He had chosen.

Sometimes things turn out differently than we’d planned, actually a lot of times. My motto around the house is we need to be flexible or we’ll break as our plans are often shifting. 😊 After the time of the judges, authorities will shift to kingship. Yet, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you. But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’” (10:17-19) It is sad that the people rejected God as their king and yet God was gracious and granted them one anyhow.

“These are six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look,

A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brothers.”  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

“My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother.

Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck,

When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you;

And when you awake, they will speak with you.

For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light. Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (6:20-23)


-Stephanie Schlegel

Reflection Questions:

  1.  Is there something in our lives that we’re failing to acknowledge God for doing for us? Let’s keep a thankful heart and thank Him for three things that happened today.
  2. Are we aware of the 7 things God hates and hopefully not doing any of them?
  3. Are we keeping God’s ways close to us throughout the day and letting them guide us even while we lie down to sleep?

Acts Introduction

The Book of Acts, also known as The Acts of the Apostles, is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke.  Luke, a physician who traveled with the apostle Paul, wrote both.  In fact, Luke wrote more of the New Testament than any other author, including Paul.  The book of Acts covers the period of time from just after the resurrection of Jesus until just before the death of Paul, and tells the history of the early Church.  Because the story about Paul ends abruptly with his house arrest and awaiting trial before Caesar, it’s likely the Book of Acts was written at that time, likely around 62 or 63 AD.

The first half of the Book of Acts focuses primarily on Peter, who taught mostly Jews, while the last half is about Paul, who taught mostly Gentiles.  Luke detailed the expansion of Christianity from being centered in Israel, to reaching worldwide (in the known world of that day).  Luke recorded several sermons, from Peter’s on the day of Pentecost, to Stephen’s, and multiple of Paul’s.  By using the word “we” in parts of the second half of the book, it is obvious that Luke traveled with Paul.

From Chapter 1, we can see several things the early church believed:

  • The reality of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:3a)
  • The promise of the coming kingdom (Acts 1:3b)
  • The power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  • Jesus will return the same way he left (Acts 1:11)
  • Prayer was important, and they spent lots of time in prayer (Acts 1:14)
  • They believed in God’s leading (Acts 1:24-26)

Some of the more well-known information in Acts includes:

  • Jesus’ ascension into heaven (Acts 1:7-11)
  • The Holy Spirit being poured out on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)
  • Peter and John healing a crippled beggar (Acts 3)
  • Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4)
  • Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)
  • Stephen’s sermon and the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7)
  • Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8)
  • Saul’s conversion (Acts 9)
  • Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10)
  • Peter’s miraculous escape from prison (Acts 12)
  • Paul’s missionary journeys (starting in Acts 13)
  • etc.

As you can see, Acts is a very exciting and well-known book.

I love Acts 4:13, which says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  As you study the book of Acts, and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit, I pray that people will notice you and be astonished, and will take note that you have been with Jesus.

-Steve Mattison

A King?

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 7 & 8

Poetry: Proverbs 5

New Testament: Luke 24

The men of Kiryat Jearim (City of the Forests) came and took up the ark of the LORD and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill where it stayed for 20 years. We could actually look out our window and see this site where the ark had been. Now there is a monastery and church built on top of it, called the Lady of the Ark. Oddly a large statue of Mary standing on the ark is visible from a distance. There is a spring nearby amongst the houses, which would’ve made it a good place to live with a water source. And yes, the hill country of Jerusalem can get snow once or twice a year, and it’s fun! 😊

“Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3) (Applies to modern day relics too!) So, the Philistines were subdued. Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. (7:15) However, like Eli, Samuel’s sons did not walk in his ways and perverted justice causing the people to ask for a king like the other nations. After warnings the people still insisted on a king to judge them and God allowed them as they’d rejected Him as their king.

Later on, there was a messianic king rejected in Jerusalem. Luke 24 ends with Jesus being raised from the dead. And interestingly, that same day two apostles were traveling to a village called Emmaus, which is 7 miles from Jerusalem. Many believe this to be the site of Kiryat Jearim where the ark resided, as it’s 7 miles from Jerusalem!

As they walked along the way, he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27) Wouldn’t that have been a good listen of what Jesus explained?!

Later on, he was “carried up into heaven. They worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” (24:51,52)

-Stephanie Schlegel

Reflection Questions

  1. Do we recognize and honor God and Jesus as kings in our lives?
  2. Do we accept and turn to them for authority in our lives or reject them and turn to others?

Think About It

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 5 & 6

Poetry: Proverbs 4

New Testament: Luke 23

Things don’t always go as planned. The Israelites thought taking the ark of the covenant with them into battle against the Philistines would cause them to win, except the ark was captured and taken by their enemies!  For 7 months the ark remained with them. They said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.” (1 Samuel 5:7) God sent deadly destruction in their cities and plagues of tumors. The Philistines sent the ark back on a cart. It was the wheat harvest when the people of Bet-Shemesh rejoiced to see the ark’s return. EXCEPT, the LORD struck many who looked inside to see what was in the ark of the covenant. And the men of Bet-Shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?” (6:20) Thus the Israelites in Bet-Shemesh were ready to depart with it also! God is all powerful and holy and should be treated as such.

Here is a picture of Bill teaching students (20+ yrs. ago;) on Bet-Shemesh with the valley in the background where the ark of the covenant would’ve come up from the Philistines. Also, one can see how there would’ve been wheat fields nearby. (The hometown of Samson is on the hill in the distance). It’s so neat how most of the biblical sites still hold their same name today, 1,000s of years later! It’s evidence to show these are real events that occurred.

Some of these rarer Bible stories are found in the Arch Book children’s series, and they’re even written in rhythm. There are 134 different volumes. I don’t have all of them but many over the years. They can make nice gifts to family or friends. 😊

Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.”

(Proverbs 4:13,14)

My son, give attention to my words: incline your ear to my sayings.

Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart.

For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the springs of life.”

(Proverbs 4:20-23)

 -Stephanie Schlegel

Reflection Questions:

  1. Are their areas of our lives we need to reexamine that we’ve slacked off on?
  2. Maybe certain instructions we’ve slowly been letting go of that we need to take ahold of again?
  3. Are their others we need to forgive that we haven’t? On the cross Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Obedient – and Disobedient – Sons

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 3 & 4

Poetry: Proverbs 3

New Testament: Luke 22

Obedient and disobedient sons! We choose obedient, right?!  Eli had some disobedient sons that most seemed to know about, and God told that to Samuel. That they “made themselves vile and he did not restrain them.” (1 Samuel 3:13) But “Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him.” (3:19) After the Israelites were defeated in battle against the Philistines, they decided to bring the ark of the covenant to battle to save them from their enemies. However, the Israelites were defeated and the ark of the covenant taken away. Eli (98 years old) sat by the gate waiting for news, only to hear the bad report of his two sons dead and the ark captured causing him to fall over backwards breaking his neck and dying. What a tragedy.

It’s still possible to see the ancient site of Shiloh today! They are excavating it. It’s interesting to know that the tabernacle resided here for 369 years (longer than the US has been a country) during the time of the Judges. This is where Hannah would’ve come to pray asking for a child, and where Samuel served, in the hill country of Jerusalem. (The tabernacle was longer in the hill country than in the desert!) In 1978, modern Israelis established a community here of Jews and now has 5,000 residents.  They built a synagogue for their place of worship, resembling the tabernacle which was there for so many years.

Also, interesting in the Proverbs of Solomon he exhorts his son, “Do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands, for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:1-4) Most people quote the next verses 5 and 6, which are important, but I’ve for so long appreciated the verses prior and following those verses!

Do not be wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”  (3:7,8)

My son, do not despise the discipline of the LORD, nor detest His correction; Just as a father the son in whom he delights. Happy is the man who finds wisdom.” (3:11-13)

In the New Testament we can see the ultimate obedience of the Son of God in his time of difficulty in the face of death. “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus was obedient until death.

-Stephanie Schlegel

Reflection Questions

  1. Are we struggling with any kind of disobedience that needs to be corrected today? It’s good to do a search and see if we need to be corrected and be willing to make that change.
  2. How can we teach the wisdom of Proverbs (and the rest of the Bible) to our children, grandchildren, and the children/youth and even adults of our church community? What happens when we don’t?
  3. What do we learn about the Heavenly Father in our Bible reading today? What do we learn about His Son Jesus?

Ask Him

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 1 & 2

Poetry: Proverbs 2

New Testament: Luke 21

The story of Hannah is touching and interesting how it was the LORD that closed her womb (1 Samuel 1:5) like the other matriarchs. And her husband suggests that isn’t he better than 10 sons? (1:8) She was desperate for a child and yet willing to make a vow to the LORD that if He’d give her one, she’d give him back to serve the LORD! So the LORD remembered her and gave her Samuel. (1:19) The thrill she must have felt and knowing the LORD did it. She worshipped the LORD and prayed, “My heart rejoices in the LORD… because I rejoice in Your salvation.

No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, …

For the LORD is the God of knowledge.”  (2:1-3)

Then she ends her prayer with the hope of the messiah, which is the first time mentioned in the Bible. “The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed. (messiah)” (2:10)

Sometimes we want something so badly and yet need to be ready to give it up, like Hannah did with the very child she wanted. Furthermore, “the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.” (2:21) The LORD blessed her with five more children! “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men.” (2:26) Sounds familiar with another special messiah in the NT, right?!

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2-6)

Jesus spoke of being betrayed by “parents, brothers, relatives, and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. … By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:16-19) We will go through hard times and not be well received by everyone. We can expect it since we’ve been warned ahead of time. “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (21:27) “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (21:36) Watch and pray and then prayer can burst forth like it did with Hannah in her desperation and in her exaltation!

-Stephanie Schlegel

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there something in your life you desire pretty desperately, like Hannah? And yet, are you willing to give it back to God if He does give it to you?!
  2. What is a difficulty in your life right now that you need to pray about? Sometimes we let a certain matter consume our thoughts and yet we haven’t prayed much about it! Take the time to commit the matter to prayer today!

Battle Plans

2 Samuel 5

March 8

I hate war, but I’ve always been a sucker for a good war story. When I was a child, despite my mom’s protests, my dad would sometimes tuck me in at night with a long, drawn out retelling of a World War II battle. They were my favorite, so much better than those boring fairy tales. I still love the courage and suspense, sacrifice and schemes that make up a good battle plan. The Old Testament is chock full of great war stories. And I believe studying these ancient battle plans can actually better prepare us for the battles that we each face every day. Today’s reading of 2 Samuel 5 includes one of my favorite war stories, with some great lessons as well.

David is no longer a shepherd boy slaying giants. At the age of 30 he became King of Judah and 7 years and 6 months later he now reigned over all Judah and Israel in the newly captured capital city of Jerusalem. He has led many successful military campaigns against those who had not been conquered or driven out when Joshua first led the Israelites into the Promised Land. But the strong Philistines (those from Goliath’s tribes) were not giving up. When they heard David was made king of Israel they sought David and revenge. They were camped out in the valley below. What would David do?

David inquired of the Lord – is this even a battle you want me to fight? Is it the right time? Am I the right person? Is this what you want me to do? And he didn’t ask just once – it was a repeated question before making battle plans (2 Samuel 5:19 & 23). David knew it was useless entering a battle if it’s not a battle God wanted him in at that time.

And then he listened for the answer. God didn’t reply, “I’ve got this covered for you – you just stay home or hide or play a few more video games, watch a few more shows, put your feet up and relax.” God said GO! David went. And there was a great victory.

Before the next potential battle, David inquired again. The enemy was back, camped out in the valley, again. Sometimes the enemy doesn’t stay away too long. We are still celebrating one victory against the evil one when we find him camped out in our backyard again. Will there be another battle? If so, when? Where? What does God want us to do this time?

It was good that David asked again, because this time the answer was a little different. Yes, David was to attack – but not the same way as before. We can fall into the trap of assuming that because God gave us victory before, that is the same way we should continue to attack. Sometimes God might want us to change our approach. This time when David inquired, God said, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees.” (2 Samuel 5:23 – different versions call them different types of trees – balsam or mulberry or poplar. Perhaps the ancient Hebrew language was a little blurry on tree identification. But the type of tree doesn’t matter, what God did with those trees does.) God’s new plan for this battle was going to take additional time and effort. David could have disregarded it and blazed straight into the valley. But he would have missed the chance to hear and see the way God was going to lead them and provide for them. If he would have attacked as before perhaps the Philistines would have had his head at the end of the day. But David listened. And more directions followed.

“As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” (2 Samuel 5:24)

Wait – what’s that? I’ve heard lots of war stories and never-before-done daring battle plans – but none with the sound of marching in the tree tops! We don’t see an army in the tree tops. Who could be up there making all that noise? Oh, could it be God’s Angel Army? Pretty creative, God! And extremely reassuring as well! Thank you for sending us the sound of marching in the tree tops. Thank you for going out before us.

We are in a war today – the enemy is camped out in the backyard waiting to see how God’s people will react. There is a lot we don’t see with our eyes. Just doing it the way we’ve done it before (since it worked well once) could lead to a dismal defeat. Inquire of the Lord. Ask Him if this is where and when he wants you to fight? Ask him how He wants you to fight – with truth and love and boldness. Listen for the sound of marching in the tree tops. Then move quickly. And do as God commanded. Thank you for showing us that even when we can’t see you, you lead the way – when we do it YOUR way. Your battle plan is always best, God.

-Marcia Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What is the difference between asking God to bless what we do or being blessed for following God where and how He leads? Can you think of an example from each in your own life, or in other Bible stories? What was the result?
  2. How can we tune in better to God’s battle plans – to hear his instruction and receive the reassuring sound of God’s angel army leading the way? How might God want us to change our approach, in order to follow Him better?
  3. Why did God want the Israelites to rid the land of the godless back then? (2 Samuel 5:21 gives a clue – and a little more detail is found in 1 Chronicles 14:12 where this same story is repeated for the benefit of the Israelites returning to Israel years later after being punished for disobedience.) What evidence do you see of being in a war against godlessness today? (Ephesians 6:10-20) How would God have us fight this war? What specific battle is He calling you to?

Don’t Miss an Opportunity

for Victory!

1 Samuel 17

March 7

I know the Kingdom of God which will be set up at the return of Jesus will be greater than anything I can imagine. I am really looking forward to a time when all tears will be wiped away and God will dwell with men (Revelation 21:1-4). At that time, I would really love to see God whip out his favorite home videos to show his resurrected and faithful family some of the highlights of how He worked through the ages. VeggieTales are great, but can you imagine watching these ancient recordings, with the Bible heroes at your side commenting on their exploits! Don’t tell me it can’t be done – I know my God can do anything. And if He wants it to be so – it will be. And, if He doesn’t, then He has a better plan than mine (that’s surely happened a time or two before!)

If you and I are there at His feet watching – I can only imagine that one of the favorite reels will be of the young shepherd David boldly and faithfully fighting the godless giant Goliath. Picture this: “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  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.” (1 Samuel 17:48 & 49). And the white robed crowd of overcomers watching the ancient playback erupts in cheers, patting David on the back and giving high-fives and fist bumps. Victory is a beautiful thing to watch!

But, sometimes the victory never happens because God’s people miss the opportunity. They are scared into silence and submission by the boisterous repeated taunts of the wicked who are defying God and shaming His people. They listen to the family member or friend (like David’s older brother Eliab) who is full of negativity and says you don’t belong and you aren’t useful and you should just go back home to do what you’ve always done. They give up when the leadership says you aren’t experienced enough yet, wait until you are older to be bold, speak up and step into a ministry. They get flustered when they try on the safe armor and find it isn’t a good fit, maybe they weren’t meant for this after all. They fail to prepare for the battle by packing their pouch with the surprising items needed for a successful fight against evil. And, perhaps most of all, they lack the faith that the great big awesome God of the universe can use them to do His work, to beat back evil and advance His Kingdom.

Imagine yourself again – in the Kingdom, watching God’s home videos – and whose face appears next on the screen – yours. There you are: standing up to a godless bully, running towards the battle, representing God when others were too scared to speak up or act, believing in a great big God who saves.

You are not too small, too young, too inexperienced, too insignificant to do mighty things for God. (And, you are also not too old – but that’s a different Bible story). Step out in faith. Be courageous with God. Don’t miss the opportunity to gain a victory for God.

-Marcia Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. David was confident that the Lord who saved him previously would save him again, even against a larger foe. “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37) What has God already helped you to accomplish? How can this build your confidence? What larger project can you have faith that He will help you accomplish next?
  2. At first I am a little disappointed that David is concerned with what rewards will be given to the brave fighter who faces Goliath – it seems a bit selfish and I am tempted to question his motives. But, I too am excited about what rewards are awaiting God’s faithful – and they do make for great motivation to get in the battle. What rewards are you eagerly anticipating and what do they motivate you to do?
  3. Sometimes God’s people lose heart on account of evil and those defying (openly resisting) God. Where do you see this happening today? How can we do battle against them today? What tools/weapons would God have us use?

See What God Sees

1 Samuel 16

March 6

I am guilty. I have been known to make personal judgments based on what I see. Tattoos and body piercings can mean one belongs to the rougher crowd and I ought to be on my guard around them and probably just keep my distance. Graduates with honor cords have obviously worked very hard and likely have a greater chance of success in life. They would certainly make good friends or managers or business partners. Watch to see what a person drives – that way you can see if they have what it takes to succeed.

Judging by what one sees has been a problem for a long time now.

God’s chosen people had been saved from Egypt under Moses. Joshua had led them into the Promised Land. Then during the period of the judges (nearly 400 years) various leaders were brought up to save the people because they had slipped away from following God and their surrounding enemies were overtaking them. Then, (in 1st Samuel 8) the people clambered for a king. They wanted to be like the other nations around them – not always the best idea! Samuel tried to convince them they didn’t need a king when they had God on their side, but they wouldn’t listen because they thought they knew better than Samuel and God. So, God allowed a king and Saul was chosen. He had been regarded as, “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others.” (1 Samuel 9:2). Saul did successfully drive out some of their enemies; but unfortunately, he strayed from the Lord and did not follow God’s direction, but rather what he selfishly wanted from life.

God had given Samuel the job of anointing one who would become the next king of Israel, even while Saul was still reigning. God sent Samuel to the home of Jesse of Bethlehem to find the one that God had chosen.

“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:6-7).

Samuel thought the oldest son, Eliab, must be the one God had chosen. He was likely tall, perhaps looked confident, with fair features and maybe even a striking personality. Perhaps he had honor cords and drove a big shiny SUV with all the gadgets. Okay, well that is ridiculous speculation, but you get where we are going.

God had not chosen the oldest son Eliab to be the king, even though from the outside he appeared to be a great choice for a leader. God had a much better indicator of success – look at the heart. And in the youngest son, David, God saw a heart that wanted to please God. So, it didn’t matter that he was young or inexperienced or the smallest of the bunch. If his heart was in the right place God would use him to do great things.

Dear God, help me to see past outward appearances. Help me to see the heart behind the tattoos. Help me to see the hard work and great potential and the heart that could beat for you in the young and inexperienced and the graduate without the honor cords. Help me to not make judgments based on what the world values but help me to see what you see – into the heart. Help my heart be steadfast in following you.

-Marcia Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. In what ways have you found yourself judging by outward appearances? Have you ever found yourself proved wrong by a hasty judgment of someone? What is the danger in choosing friends, leaders, or business associates based on what you see on the outside?
  2. What does God see when He looks into your heart? What does He want to see? How can you work on refining your heart – or all-out heart surgery if need be – to have the heart that pleases God? What will it take to be a man – or woman – after God’s own heart?
  3. How does the world’s values differ from God’s? How can you remember to look at the heart?

God’s Message for You

1 Samuel 3

March 5

We have an amazing story in 1 Samuel 3, of God speaking directly to the young Samuel while he is in the Temple. Now, throughout the Bible, God only speaks directly a handful of times, so when He does, we need to make sure we pay attention, because it is important. Not only did God call out to Samuel, He did it three times! Now, Samuel was confused for the first two times, but on the third, thanks to some direction from the priest Eli, God reveals what He is about to do to Eli’s family. How many of us would love to have God verbally tell us what He is going to do, or tell us what He wants us to do? Wouldn’t that make life so much easier?

What if I told you that He already has spoken to us? In Hebrews 1:1-2, it says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” God is still speaking to us through His son, Jesus. Everything that Jesus says is the direct message of the Father (John 12:49). This is a powerful reminder for us to constantly be learning at the feet of Christ; if you want to hear the voice of God, Jesus is the place to turn. Do you have questions about what to do in your life? Go listen to Jesus. Do you want to know the purpose of your situation? Go listen to Jesus. Jesus is the answer that you need, because he speaks on behalf of God.

-Talon Paul

Questions to Consider

  1. Do you have questions for God? Have you looked at what Jesus says about those questions? He has the answers you are searching for.
  1. Sometimes we need the help and guidance of another believer to help us understand God’s message for our lives. Do you have another believer in your life that is available for guidance? Do you feel comfortable turning to your church for help?
  1. How much time do you spend learning at the feet of Jesus? Could you spend more time there, since it is the most important place to be? (see Luke 10:38-42)

Pouring Out Your Soul

1 Samuel 1

March 4

My wife, Rebbecca, and I had difficulty conceiving our son. We had to go through multiple doctors, multiple medications, and years of heartache before Elijah came into the world. We were grateful to learn that we were not alone in this, as we quickly found out many people we knew also had difficulties in this area of life. If this is your story too, I encourage you to reach out to someone close to you. You never know if they may have been through it too until you ask. We are also available to talk about the struggles we faced during these years.

In 1 Samuel, Hannah was also struggling with this issue. She simply could not conceive a child. This was long before there was medication available to address possible medical complications, so she was completely at God’s mercy to give her a child. Not only was she unable to conceive, she also had another woman in the picture to deal with, causing a lot of jealousy, anger, and issues for her in her marriage. I remember from our time struggling with this that almost everyone else around us was getting pregnant at the same time, and the pain that Rebbecca felt during this was very intense. I was trying to be the optimist, like Hannah’s husband, when he said, “Why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (v. 8)  Men who are reading this, a word of advice is needed here: just stay quiet and be there for your wife. I learned the hard way multiple times.

Hannah prayed from the heart through many tears for a child, and God finally blessed her with a son named Samuel. Although the priest couldn’t hear the words she was saying, God did, and He answered. She also followed through on her promise to God, to allow her son to live his life in service to God in the Temple. I can’t imagine what this mother must have been feeling, to hand over her only son in thanks to God! What an example of faith she is.

-Talon Paul

Questions to Consider

  1. God hears all prayer, both verbal and non-verbal, as long as it is from the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Whatever you have been praying for, is it something that you deeply desire and would do anything for?
  1. Hannah’s story is not a guarantee that you will receive what you want from God; sometimes the answer is no. Despite this possibility, will you choose to remain faithful to God even if He doesn’t give you what you want? Sometimes He has something better in store.
  1. You are valuable, not because of your ability to have children or contribute to God in a specific way, but because you are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). You don’t need anything else to be significant and valuable in God’s eyes. Do you see yourself the way God does?
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