Prophet Training

Elijah’s hands were shaking as he left King Ahab.

God’s voice was clear. “Go to the Brook Cherith. You will drink the water from it. Ravens will bring you food.

Elijah went to a secluded place overlooking the Jordan Valley. The sun was near the western horizon.

Two ravens landed in the tree he sat under. They hopped to a branch near him. One dropped a slab of unleavened bread on the rock near him.

The other raven held a roasted chicken leg in its beak. Elijah lifted his hand. The bird dropped the meat in his palm.

The scene repeated each morning and every evening.

Elijah contemplated his message to the king of Israel. ‘No rain until I say it will rain.

That is what God told me to say. Right?’

The brook became smaller by the day because of the drought.

One morning the ravens didn’t show. The brook was dry.

Elijah sent up a prayer. “What now God?”

“Go to Zarephath in Sidon. A widow will care for you there.”

The trek seemed longer than normal. Thirst will do that to a person.

Finally the city was in sight. A woman was picking up sticks as he approached.

“Excuse me. Can I have some water?”

The woman stood, then nodded before she walked away.

Elijah’s stomach growled. “And could you bring me a piece of bread?”

The woman stopped. Her hands fell to her waist. Two sticks bounced on the dirt. “I…I don’t have any bread. Honestly. I’m picking up enough wood to bake the last bit of flour and oil I have for me and my son. Once that’s gone we’ll wait to die.”

Elijah swallowed the lump in his throat. “Bake me a cake from what you have first. My God will keep enough flour in the bin and oil in your jar until it rains again.”

The woman looked closely at Elijah. “You’re from Israel. I’ve heard of your God. I’ll be back.”

She brought Elijah some fresh bread. Then they went inside. She bake some bread for herself and her son.

This continued each day.

One day Elijah heard the woman scream downstairs.

He climbed down to see what was happening.

She was rocking back and forth on the floor. Her son didn’t move in her arms.

She stared into Elijah’s eyes. “Why have you come here man of God? Are my sins too great for me?”

Elijah walked across the room. “Give me your son.”

He took the lifeless body up to his room and laid the boy on his bed. Tears ran down his cheeks as he looked up.

He fell on top of the body. “Why, God?”

He stood and wiped more tears away.

He laid over the child again.

He stood and fought off the doubts and pain.

He laid on his bed again. The boy’s body was colder each time.

“Dear God, return his soul to him.”

He felt movement under him.

He jumped up.

The boy coughed, then cried.

Elijah laughed. He picked the boy up to comfort him.

He carried the lad downstairs and handed him back to the widow.

She stared in disbelief. Then she laughed. “Now I know without a doubt your God is real.”

************

Have you ever put yourself in Elijah’s sandals? Too often we’re too familiar with some Bible stories to fully appreciate them for what they are…accounts of real people in real time.

Elijah was just a man living life one day at a time.

Then God dispatches him to give a message to the wicked King Ahab.

Before anything can happen to him by edict of the king God tells him where to hide and provides for him with birds.

We’re not told how long the prophet was out there all alone. But, he was alone.

Solitude is one of God’s favorite conditions to place some folks in to get their attention.

It gives time to think about what’s important in life. ‘What shall I do next…and when?’

‘Is this God I can’t see really someone to be trusted?’

‘How long will this drought last anyway?’

We aren’t told what went through Elijah’s mind as the brook became a weak trickle.

The time of solitude did come to an end.

When did you last spend time just thinking about what’s really important in your life?

Widows didn’t have many options for income back then. Many don’t now.

Yet, God chose a woman with a son and just enough food for the two of them to send His man to.

I don’t think Elijah knew what God was up to when the words came out of his mouth.

Flour and oil don’t appear out of thin air…unless you have faith in God and God wills it.

I’m not about to tell you all you have to do is believe and it will happen to you too. God is too unpredictable for that.

That widow didn’t deserve to be provided for any more than any other widow. God showed her grace.

But, what about her son dying? Was God any less gracious then?

It didn’t appear that way to anyone in that house. Until God showed up again.

Miracles don’t happen every day. They didn’t then. They don’t now.

I’ve known people who’ve been given a way to keep the house they’re living in by some means they didn’t get until the day before they were going to lose that house. I’ve known others who lose it all in a fire.

God doesn’t answer to you. He didn’t answer to Elijah. He calls the shots in this world. Period.

All things do work together in God’s economy and His timing.

I don’t know why you’re going through your tough time.

But Elijah was being built into a man with a steel spine for a hard task ahead.

Trust God to know what He’s doing.

He has a plan.

He’s developing you, too.

Remain faithful and He’ll let you know what He has for you.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

IF…THEN

Solomon climbed on the bronze platform in front of the new temple, the crowning achievement of his young kingdom. The crowd before his was vast.

He fell to his knees. The bronze sang a solemn note.

Solomon’s hands raised toward heaven.

“LORD God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven or on earth. You keep your promises to those who commit their way to You. You promised David, my father, that he would have a son build You a house to dwell in. Today that commitment is kept. Now continue to uphold Your word by keeping a son on Israel’s throne as long as we follow Your words and commandments.

“But, how can a God who cannot be contained in all of heaven abide in a building? Indeed, this building can contain Your name alone. I beseech You to stay attentive to prayers said in this place. Listen to the broken and contrite, LORD.

“When people pray toward this place hear from heaven and forgive.

“If neighbors take an oath judge between them. Bring retribution on the wicked and justification on the righteous.

“If your people are defeated in battle because of sins against You and they bow before You to confess their wrong then hear from heaven and forgive the sinner to return the land back to them.

“When You shut off the rain because of sin and Your people come and confess their sins then hear from heaven and return Your blessings to our land.

“When You send a plague of any kind and people come to this temple I have built and confess their guilt to You then hear from heaven and heal the land to return your people to prosperity.

“When a foreigner comes to this temple to pray to You because they recognize Your awesome power hear from heaven and do all that is asked of You, LORD.

“When Your people are in battle and they pray toward this place then hear their plea and fight for their cause.

“When your people sin against You, for all sin, and You carry them off to a distant land. When they recognize their failures and pray toward this temple I have built hear their cry and return them to this land for Your great name’s sake.

“Now, LORD God, come and dwell among Your people in the temple according to the promises You made to David.”

Fire came down from heaven and consumed the offering waiting on the altar. Smoke filled the temple so that the priest could not enter it because it was the presence of God.

God appeared to Solomon at night. “I have heard your prayer and will dwell among My people in this temple. I will hear their petitions to forgive when they confess their sins. I will heal their land as I hear the humble who turn from their wicked ways.

“If you continue to follow Me as your father David did then I will uphold the throne of your kingdom, but.

“If you turn away from Me and follow other gods then I will uproot these people from this land and this house you have built for me will become desolate. People will shake their heads and ask why this structure has fallen. ‘Because they forsook the LORD their God who brought them out of Egypt,’ will be the reply.”

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This public prayer from King Solomon received a private reply from God. Oh, God did show Himself when fire came down from heaven and smoke filled the temple, but the king did hear directly from THE King.

The more I read this passage of scripture the more it became obvious this is a series of If (or when)/then statements.

Wise Solomon knew God required conditions for blessings and cursings even if he didn’t complete the required ceremony Israel’s kings were supposed to carry out.

He thought of several scenarios where people would need to pray to God. He even recognized his own personal need to follow God’s commandments.

Still, the next two decades found everybody loosing focus and drifting away from the God who kept His promise here.

God’s response to Solomon’s prayer was a more concise if/then prayer. He promised to hear the contrite and heal the land. He even promised Solomon a similar covenant to David’s ‘if’ he continued in his steps.

When success comes to people too young it’s difficult for them to keep focused on the real prize, God’s heart.

Saul had no preparation to become a king. He quickly failed.

David had to live in hiding from Saul for several years. Then he had to fight for the kingship before it took hold. He finished strong and became known as a man after God’s own heart.

Solomon was handed the kingdom at the age of 19. His dad fought off their enemies so Solomon inherited a peaceful time to reign. His foreign wives stole him away from this God he just prayed to.

So, where are you in this mix?

Are you still struggling and fighting? Or are you succeeding and building?

If God has you struggling then take heart, my friend. He’s building you into a better servant leader. You’ll be used in ways you never thought you could be used in His timing.

If you’re successful stay on your guard, my friend. Satan will do his best to knock you off your pedestal and flat on your face.

Everybody needs to stay grounded in the word. Encouragement and direction come from the same source.

God wrote His truths down for us because they don’t change, and neither does He.

Society will tell you things are different. We’re more enlightened now.

God made us and He knows whats best for us.

Satan is still whispering in Eve’s ear, “You can be like God.”

I’m here to tell you that lie is still a lie.

Only God is God.

The rest of us answer to Him.

Just ask Solomon.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

ONE WISH FROM GOD

Solomon led the delegation to Gibeon after his speech and feast. He paused when they crested the hill. The tabernacle Moses built always made him pause.

They spent the entire day offering burnt offerings to God. Most were commissioned by the king. Others he did himself. The total offerings by days end was one thousand.

A tent was erected for the king. The trip back to Jerusalem would wait until after a good night’s sleep.

As Solomon slept God appeared to him. “Ask. What shall I give you?”

“You were so gracious to my father. David now has a son sitting on his throne. But, your servant is only a boy. How can I effectively lead this great nation for You? They are more numerous than the sand on the seashore. I don’t know the best way to lead. Give me, please, a wise and discerning heart so I can judge rightly.”

God smiled. “You could have asked for great wealth, the death of your enemies, or long life. Instead you requested a wise heart. I will grant you the wisdom you seek. Nobody will be as wise as you either from before your time or after. I shall also give you immense wealth such as has never been seen and peace from your enemies. If you keep My commandments as your father David did I will also grant you long life.”

Solomon’s eyes popped open. He looked around. After a few seconds he remembered where he was and why he was there.

The dream was so real, but was is true?

King Solomon returned to Jerusalem. He made peace offerings and burnt offerings near the ark of the covenant. Another feast was made for the people.

************

Dreams are interesting places to be. Your mind can imagine so much when your senses aren’t involved.

Solomon had just been established as the king of all Israel, God’s chosen people.

David’s military might gave them peace from all their enemies. Wealth was pouring in from surrounding nations to keep the peace intact.

Solomon was about nineteen years old, still a teenager, when the responsibilities of ruling fell upon his shoulders.

Parties were an easy thing to do for a young king.

The other responsibilities were another animal all together.

David taught his son the importance of worshiping God.

Sacrifices were an easy way to appease the deity.

Did he expect God to talk directly to him?

Being asleep the young man didn’t have time to think. His most immense desire would be utmost on his heart and mind when God asked him the ultimate question.

How would you reply?

How do you think you would answer God if He asked you for one wish?

Look past the immediate in your life currently. If you did that a year ago it would have been totally different. A year from now it will change again.

One way to approach this subject is to ask you, “what do you most want to be remembered for?”

Solomon was known as a wise man, but he was still stupid in many ways. A truly wise person loves the Lord God with all his soul, strength, mind and heart his entire life. He blew it big time.

You have one choice to make. What do you most want in this life?

Check your motives before you answer.

If it’s fame you want you’re barking up the wrong tree. Fame is fleeting.

If you desire wealth you can lose it in a moment. Money burns quickly.

Family is important, but individuals make bad choices. Love hurts.

What does you heart truly long for deep down?

My answer will probably be different than yours. That’s why God creates individuals. I’ve had time to think about my response before writing this post.

Life has been super crazy busy lately with work. Truck driving comes with a lot of challenges, especially when you drive for a temporary agency. You have to take assignments driving during times you’re normally sleeping. I can’t do much while driving, but thinking is something I can do on the open stretches of roads.

Personal relationships have been a challenge for me lately. Then I realized those have changed, so that can’t be it.

A steady source of income would be extremely good, too. I’m working toward that end, but there’s still more to life than that.

More free time to help at church more is a goal of mine. It goes deeper than that, too.

I thought back to almost exactly nine years ago as I write this. I was listening to a sermon on the radio. A point in the middle of the sermon struck me between the eyes.

“Nothing sets God off in a spirit of celebration as when a lost person comes to faith in Christ.”

I was at home. Barb was asleep. I turned off the radio and let the tears flow down my cheeks. My prayer was simple.

“Break me. Break me. Use me.”

I repeated that several times before I finished my request with another statement.

“I want to give You a reputation for being a party animal.”

When I decided to attend Grace Bible College back in the early 80’s I thought I’d discover God’s calling for my life while I was there.

I didn’t.

But my desire to serve Him has always been my main desire.

I didn’t know how, or if, God would answer my prayer that night. A few weeks later I was writing my first book.

I had never taken a writing course in college or high school.

Now I’m writing songs.

I can’t play any instruments.

When God decides to use a person He doesn’t need experience. He needs willingness.

You may know what talents God has given you. Are you using them for His glory?

Don’t think you can’t do anything for God. He’ll bless the smallest gesture done in His name.

Remove your mask. Drop your guard.

What can God do for you?

I’ll see you later.   Wade

PRIDE’S PAYMENT

David stared at his general. “Joab, I want you to go throughout the entire nation. Count all the fighting men we have.”

Joab looked from the king to others in the room. “Sir, may God increase that number a hundredfold in your lifetime. But ,why do want this done? It’s a disgrace to God and the people.”

David sat on his throne. “You have your orders.”

********

About ten months later Joab reported the numbers to the king.

David’s heart almost stopped beating. He fell to his knees. “Lord God of Heaven forgive me for such foolishness. I have sinned greatly with this act. Please take away this iniquity from me.”

The next morning David’s seer came to him. Gad was not smiling.

David swallowed hard. “What do you want, Gad?”

Gad looked deep into David’s eyes. “God has given you three choices for your sin. You can have three years of famine across the nation; three months running from your enemies or three days of a plague throughout the land.”

David fell to his knees. “I can only imagine what my enemies will do. The Lord’s mercies are great. I choose His way.”

Three days later David was wandering around Jerusalem with the elders. All of them were wearing sackcloth.

The sound of a breeze caught their attention. They turned near a threshing floor and saw an angel holding a sword hovering over the ground.

David fell to his knees. “LORD, I am the one who sinned. Why are the sheep being punished for this? My family should bear the brunt of this punishment.”

The angel stared ahead with his sword in his hand.

David led the men back to the palace.

Gad found David later that day. “You are to build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan.”

David collected some cash and headed back to the area.

The angel was still there holding his sword.

Ornan came to the king and bowed. “To what privilege do I owe this visit?”

David waited for Ornan to stand. “I want to buy this land to build an altar.”

Ornan motioned around. “I give all of this to you, my king. Take the cattle to offer, their yokes for wood to burn and the wheat here for a grain offering. You can have it all.”

David shook his head. “No. But, I will buy it from you at full price for I cannot offer to the LORD that which costs me nothing.”

The treasurer counted out more than enough money for Ornan to begin again elsewhere.

After the sacrifice was complete David watched the angel return his sword to its sheath then disappear.

************

Here’s another interesting prayer exchange where God talks to David through another person. This time it’s his seer Gad.

Similar to a prophet a seer had a special connection to God. God was known to speak through them with messages for people to follow.

When David’s pride led him to have a census taken of the people he ruled his guilt led him to admit his sin immediately.  He had learned his lesson about trying to hide it.

This is the only time God is known to give someone a multiple choice as to what penalty their sin would cost them.

Neither choice sounded good. David had lived long enough to know some consequences would have deeper impact than others would.

A famine could cause a revolt from the people.

Running from one’s enemies could have these men taking advantage of people in unpleasant ways.

Plague is never good when people die indiscriminately.

David was known as a man after God’s own heart. The reason was because he knew God’s heart so well and he enjoyed being close to it.

That’s why David chose the third option. God’s mercy was attached to it most closely.

There was a reason for all this confusion and chaos. Ultimately the area for the temple was purchased at the place the angel stopped at God’s command.

The area where David sent up his sacrifice on the altar would be the spot so many sacrifices and offerings would be sent up to God.

It was the same place Abraham was told to offer up Isaac. Mt Moriah is the place Jerusalem stands today.

David wanted to build the first temple. God told him no. David did all he could to assure that his son would complete that task.

Once this spot was set aside David collected as much of the material as he could.

This sacred place was made personally sacred by David’s pride and the consequences of it.

Your mistakes and failures hold a promise, too.

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

Your hurts, pains, regrets, mistakes and failures are all working to mature you into a marvelous work of God.

Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you will stop making mistakes and failing. It means there are lessons being learned that you can’t learn any other way.

Admit to needing God’s intervention in your life at all times. He’s listening.

Deal with the consequences of your life episodes. You’re learning.

Grow into the person God is creating you to be. You’re maturing.

If your goal is to become more like Jesus Christ you’re on the right course. Stay with it.

If you remember God is in control of everything you’ve got your mindset correct. Never forget this.

If you want to honor God in all you do your motives are pure. Keep that focus.

David was far from perfect, but he was still known as a man after God’s own heart. That’s what we need to strive for.

Perfection will always be elusive. You’ll never achieve it.

Maturity will always be attainable. You can be better.

Turn to God as soon as you recognize your sin.

Deal with the consequences as best you can.

Do your best to learn from your past and move forward with your life.

Keep an open line of communication with God at all cost.

That’s your lifeline.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

IT’S YOU SIR

Nathan paused when he approached the throneroom door. “LORD, give me the strength to do Your work here.”

He pulled the door open and walked up to King David.

David smiled and cocked his head to the left. “Nathan, I didn’t expect you today. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“There were two men. One of them had vast flocks of sheep and cattle. The other was poor. He saved and bought a lamb one day. This ewe was like a daughter to him. It ate from his hand and drank from his own cup.”

Nathan paused.

David was staring toward Nathan’s right. A smile was on his face.

“A third man came to the rich man’s house one day. Not wanting to decrease his herd he took the poor man’s lamb and had it prepared for the traveler to eat.”

David’s fist came down hard on the throne’s hand rail. He sat forward. “No. That man shall die for that and he must repay four times for such a travesty.”

Nathan stepped forward and stared into David’s eyes. “It’s you, Sir.”

David’s mouth dropped open. The color drained from his face.

“The LORD God chose you from the sheepfold to rule His nation. You were given protection from Saul. His wives became yours. Judah and Israel obey your commands. If you wanted more He would have given it. Why have you despised the LORD’s commands? You killed Uriah with the sword of Ammon to have his wife for your own. Because of this the sword shall never depart from your own house.

“You kept this private, but God will have your wives used in broad daylight. Your own sons will rise up against you.”

David sat back. His palms rubbed the hand rails. “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan nodded. “The LORD accepts your confession. You shall not die. Since this has brought such rise to your enemies to blaspheme the LORD the child shall die.”

Nathan turned and walked out of the throneroom to the sounds of sobs.

************

I would not have wanted to be Nathan on that day.

I’m glad he had the spine to carry out what God gave him to do.

You may be wondering why I included this in a series of devotionals on prayer. There is no prayer to God in this exchange.

No, but there was leading up to it.

David committed a double sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. He did his best to keep it quiet. He thought he succeeded.

You can’t keep a secret from God.

He knows every little thing that occurs.

You might keep a secret from your closest friends, but never from God.

We aren’t told how Nathan discovered the details about David’s dealings. We are told God sent him to David to inform him of the consequences of his actions.

Somebody was sent to Bathsheba’s house to bring her to David that fateful night. They pointed out that she was a married woman. Did they leak that to Nathan? We’ll never know.

Did God speak to Nathan with a dream? The parable he told could have been a dream Nathan had that night.

At that time God did speak to men in an audible voice and in person. If one of these methods was used it remains a mystery to us.

God’s primary means of speaking to us today is through these stories and other messages in the Bible.

The important thing for us to carry out of this exchange is the need to confront sin as sin.

Nathan was given the difficult task of informing King David of the consequences of his sins.

A king has the authority to have someone’s head removed from their shoulders if they make them unhappy.

Nathan followed the decrees of a much higher authority than a human king. He answered to the King of kings.

And so do we.

That doesn’t mean we’re to go around pointing our fingers at everybody we know is living in sin. That would be a never-ending undertaking.

There are individuals who are brought into our lives that we are given a certain amount of influence over. Close friends are included in that group. So are church leaders, especially if you happen to be on an important committee within the church. Family members might listen to you, but not if you come across as holier than thou.

I think Nathan was a mentor to David at this time in the king’s life.

David would have coveted someone who had a connection to the God of the nation he was called to lead.

The title of prophet was given to Nathan because of that connection.

Make sure your connection to God is strong before you go about confronting sin in anyone’s life.

There are guidelines established in the Bible to be followed in certain situations. Make sure you know them before you try to carry them out.

Remember we live under a covenant of grace these days because of what Jesus endured on the cross. We don’t stone folks for committing certain sins now like they were told to do in Old Testament times.

Even Jesus refused to have the adulteress stoned before he died. Mary could have been stoned after she was found to be pregnant with Jesus. Let that thought sink in.

We all sin and fall short of God’s glory that’s why we all need a savior.

I don’t think Nathan wanted to confront David that day. He was simply following God’s orders.

If you want to carry out confronting sin for anything but godly reasons check your motives.

Your own sin of power might be clouding your judgement.

If you’re on good ground for stepping in to change a situation by calling someone out then pray hard about it. Then go for it in God’s strength.

We need more Nathans in today’s world.

The line of what sin is has become too blurry these days.

Go in God’s grace.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

YOUR HOUSE NOT MINE

Nathan watched David pace. “What are you thinking about?”

David stopped. Looked at the prophet, then his walls. “Is it right for me to live in such an extraordinary cedar palace while the ark of God dwells in a tent?”

Nathan shook his head. “You are clearly in God’s will with whatever you do. How else could you be so successful? Whatever you have in mind to do do it well.”

David smiled as he paced again. “It must be the most magnificent structure ever built for the LORD’s dwelling…”

When Nathan left King David was discussing building details with other advisers.

********

God spoke to Nathan that night about the matter. Nathan went to David the next morning.

David was just finishing his breakfast. The smile was still on his face from the previous evening.

Nathan sat across from David and made sure he had direct eye contact. “The LORD spoke to me last night concerning your desire to build Him a structure.”

David pushed his dishes aside. “What did He say?”

“Go to David with this message: Have I ever told anyone to make a building for Me to dwell in? It has been My desire to dwell in tents so My people can come to Me. I called you from tending sheep to lead My people Israel. I have wiped out your enemies from before you to give you peace. Your name has become great among all peoples. I will plant My people in this place but you shall not be the man to build Me a temple. Your son will do that job. I will establish your line through him that will last for all eternity. I will not remove my Spirit from him like I did to Saul.”

Nathan followed David to the tabernacle.

David bowed before the ark. “Why me, oh, LORD? I deserve non of this. Israel is Your nation. I am Your servant. You make it sound like a small thing to establish my lineage forever. How do I fit into this, Your plan? I am humbled. May Your name be magnified forever. There is none like You, my LORD. Now let Your word be fulfilled for Your glory. I desired to build You a house, but You have declared that You will build me a house that will last forever. Let Your promise be kept for Your honor.”

************

King David, a man after God’s own heart, desired to build the temple but God said no.

You would expect to see remorse from the man for this divine refusal to be responsible for such an undertaking. Not from David…especially after he heard God’s promise to continue his line of kingship forever.

Yeah, that would blow my mind, too.

I find it interesting that God didn’t speak to David about this matter but chose to talk to Nathan this time.

With the advantage of knowing what would transpire after this event I can come up with some reasons why God did this.

  1. Nathan needed to learn to ask for God’s will in all things. His knee-jerk reaction to the great King David letting him know he wanted to build God’s permanent temple was to tell him yes. He did this because he thought God was giving David the desires of his heart. It made perfect logical sense from where they sat. But God has a different perspective on everything. Never forget that.
  2. Nathan needed to be established as God’s spokesman to David. The king’s power would go to David’s head eventually. Nobody’s perfect. After about a year of trying to cover up his affair and subsequent murder of Uriah, Nathan would confront David with a parable that grabbed David’s full attention. By the time Nathan told David God’s verdict the king knew why he hadn’t heard from God himself.
  3. God chose now to promise the lineage of the Messiah. The Savior of the world had been hinted at so many times through Israel’s history. Nobody knew exactly when it would occur. By pinpointing whose genes the Messiah would come from God let everyone know His plan was still unfolding. The shepherd-turned-king would shape this humble servant leader still to come.

Let me ask you some questions now.

  • Do you seek God’s will in all of your decisions? This could be as big as who you should marry if you’re single to what foods you should eat for each meal. Whose kingdom are you building?
  • Have you chosen your friends well? Do you surround yourself with others who are desiring God’s will for their lives? Or are those around you looking out for their own interests alone?
  • Is the Messiah real to you? This is the most crucial question anybody can answer. Jesus would fulfill all of the promises God made throughout the Old Testament. Choose Him as your Savior.

God seldom answers two prayers the same way. David wasn’t even expecting a response from God in this matter, yet God spoke to him.

God got David’s attention in a unique way to let him know he’s not in this by himself.

Prayers should be sent to God directly. I’m not denying that. But, don’t neglect to let others share input on your decisions as well.

Surround yourself with godly individuals who seek God’s will, too. Sometimes God will shape His response to you through their life experiences to aid you in your decisions.

All of this is for nothing if you reject Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

I refuse to sugar coat that statement. This man who would come from David’s genetics will rule in an everlasting kingdom. God’s promise will be fulfilled.

Anyone who accepts Jesus as anything less will be left out of that kingdom.

That’s not my opinion. That’s God’s declaration.

God has done all He can to bring us into that kingdom.

It’s up to us to let as many people know that as possible.

When you pray to God, surround yourself with godly friends and accept Jesus as your Savior everything will fall into place.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

HARD LESSONS

Samuel walked across the courtyard to rest under a Tamarisk tree. He stopped when he heard God’s voice.

“About this time tomorrow Israel’s first king will come to you. He’s from Benjamin. Anoint him so he will save My people from the Philistines. This is what My people want.”

The next day Samuel sat in the gate of the city watching folks coming and going. The tall man sauntering up the hill caught his attention. God’s voice was clear.

“This is the man I told you about. Anoint him as king before you send him away.”

Saul approached. He bent down to speak to Samuel. “Can you tell me where the seer’s house is? I must inquire of him.”

Samuel smiled. “I’m the seer. Wait for me in the high place. You shall eat with me today. Tomorrow I will send you home. Don’t worry about your father’s donkeys. They found their way back. I am privileged to meet with you today.”

Saul stood up. “Why? I’m from the little tribe of Benjamin. My family history isn’t impressive.”.

********

A few years later Samuel again heard God’s voice. “I regret making Saul the king. He has failed to carry out my commands.”

Samuel fell to his knees. “I warned the people about such things happening. They wouldn’t listen to me at all. How can we keep from losing Your favor, Lord? What must we do to correct this iniquity?”

The questions and beseeching continued through the night with no response from God.

In the morning Samuel set out to confront Saul.

********

A while later God again spoke to Samuel. “How long will you grieve over Saul’s failures? Fill your horn with oil and travel to Bethlehem. I have selected a son of Jesse to rule My people.”

Samuel looked up. “But, how shall I go without Saul finding out? If he knows what I’m there for he’ll kill me.”

“Take a heifer to sacrifice. Invite everyone to come, especially Jesse. I’ll tell you which son I choose.”

********

Samuel led the heifer to Bethlehem. When he came to the gate the elders approached him. “Do you come peaceably?”

Samuel nodded. “Yes. I have come to sacrifice here.”

“Very well. We are pleased you have come.”

Samuel scanned the group. “Which of you is Jesse?”

A man stepped forward. “I am Jesse.”

“Bring your sons to the feast. I must see your sons.”

As the crowd gathered Jesse brought his sons to the prophet.

Samuel smiled as the eldest son came to him. His thoughts took over. This one will be a good king. I can see the leadership oozing out of him

God’s voice broke through. “No. Don’t look at his outside appearance. I know his heart. He isn’t the one for this role. I will tell you which one has the best heart.”

After the seventh son walked past Samuel scanned the crowd behind him. He looked at Jesse. “Is this all of your sons? God has not spoken to me about either of them.”

Jesse pointed to a distant hillside. “There’s still David. He’s watching the flock over there.”

Samuel folded his arms. “Bring him here. We will not sit until he comes.”

Jesse grabbed the arm of one of the servants. “Go. Send David here at once.”

Everyone watched the servant run across the valley. He talked to David. David came running to them. The sheep tried to keep up with him. The servant threw his arms in the air.

When David came into town the crowd separated in front of him. He fell to his knees to catch his breath. “What do you need me for?”

The sight of a gray-haired man dressed in linen appeared after the brothers stepped back.

Samuel smiled when he heard God’s voice. “Anoint him. He is My choice.”

Samuel removed the stop from the horn in his hand.

David was still breathing hard as the oil saturated his scalp and fine beard. He cupped his hands together to catch the liquid. It flowed over his fingers onto the ground.

************

The selection of a king is a mighty undertaking. Especially when you’re responsible for finding the best man for the job to lead God’s people.

I’m pretty sure Samuel felt like a failure when Saul committed one blunder after another once he gained the throne.

He shouldn’t have. I say that because he was simply following God’s leading in choosing Saul as Israel’s first king.

Samuel had a unique line of communication open to God that nobody else had at that time.

We now have that available to us as believers in Jesus Christ. It’s called prayer.

Samuel’s prayer life was different from ours because God dealt with people differently then.

In the history of mankind God had never chosen a race of people to be His chosen nation.

God chose to speak to Samuel to carry out His plans.

Today God works through people of every nation because of the all-encompassing work accomplished by Jesus on the cross and beyond the grave.

God recorded the methods He used in the past to help us shape the future.

By seeing the big picture of each life lived out in the Bible we know how each person succeeded and failed.

Now that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer God can guide us in the decisions we make.

Our relationship with God is developed by reading the Bible to learn more about God. Our prayers open our hearts to talk to God about our hurts, pains and problems. As our dependence grows so will our influence and impact.

Your eternity with God doesn’t begin when you reach heaven after you die.

God wants to build you into a better person who loves and lives like His Son, Jesus.

Saul’s failures would continue. They would help shape David into Israel’s mightiest king.

Your failures will continue, too.

Will you let them defeat you?

Or will you let them build you into a person God can use?

I’ll see you later.   Wade

GIVE US A KING

Samuel watched a group of gray-haired men walking up the hill. “What do you need help with today?”

One of the men stepped forward. “Your sons are not like you. They judge loosely.”

Samuel tilted his head. “What do you mean by that comment?”

Another man pushed the first man aside. “I had a case come to them about a property dispute I had with my neighbor. They met with him in a tight group before the judgement. I know I heard coins and laughter. I lost half a field that day.”

The first man placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. “I had a similar thing happen to me. They must not lead us after you die. The nation will crumble under men like that.”

Samuel sat back and stroked his beard. “And just what do you suggest be done about the situation? The Lord has not directed me to anything else.”

Three men pushed past the first two. “We want a king.”

“Israel should be like the nations around us.”

“A king will be able to lead us into battle. The Lord is too unpredictable. How do we know what He wants from us? A king is what we need. I tell you!”

Samuel shook his head as he stood. “No. No! This thing is not good. The Lord has been our defense. Only He can win wars and defeat enemies. A king will bring too much pain to everybody.”

The first man stood in front of Samuel. “If you don’t find us a king we’ll get one ourselves.”

Samuel fell back in his chair. “I shall pray and seek the Lord’s guidance on this matter.”

********

Samuel walked into the temple and fell before the ark of the covenant. “Lord, what is happening? How did I fail to pass Your importance on to my sons? A king is not good. He will be as corrupt as anybody. All we need is You, Lord.”

God’s voice was clear. ” Listen to the people. It’s not you they’re rejecting, but Me. They’ve been doing it since they left Egypt. I will tell you who to make the king, but you must warn them about what a king will do.”

********

Samuel walked back out to the men. “A king will bring you much hardship. He’ll take your sons to fight his battles, even if they don’t want to fight. Some of your daughters will serve him as well. They may become his concubines. Your flocks, crops and fields will be confiscated, too. When you cry out to the Lord then He will turn away from you.”

The first man stepped forward. “Give us a king like everybody else.”

Samuel swallowed. “Very well, go home. God will lead me to the man of His choosing.”

************

This was a massive turning point in the young nation of Israel’s history. They began with a promise to Abraham. The Egyptian captivity isolated them to grow into a distinct race of people over a 400 year time period.

Dependence on an invisible god was their distinction alone.

There’s a story of a little girl who was afraid of a storm blowing outside as she went to bed. Her parents did their best to calm her fears by spending time with her in her room.

Since the girl had recently accepted Jesus as her savior they told her that Jesus would be with her during the storm. She nodded so they went to their room to get some much needed sleep.

A few minutes later the girl yelled down the hallway. “But, I need somebody with skin on.”

We’re so much like that little girl. We know God is powerful and kind and loving, but sometimes we need a human touch. A physical hug does more to calm us than a promise in a book.

I’m not down playing our need to depend on God in our lives. We need that more than anything.

But, God made us physical beings in a physical world for a reason.

He wants us to reach out to hurting souls desperate for a touch of love.

He uses us to rescue those trapped in addictions and/or bad situations.

He guides us to guide young lives in need of direction for their lives.

Israel’s best king was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Too bad very few leaders try to be that style of leader.

The young nation of Israel struggled under the direction of this God who spoke to only a few select people. They wanted a king to lead them. A man who would tell them what to do. Somebody with skin on is who they wanted to give their allegiance to.

Most people are followers. They want somebody to tell them how to vote, where to work, what to do and so on. As long as they bring in enough money to pay their bills they’re content to sit back and be entertained.

A king seemed like the best solution to the dilemma. God recognized the rejection of Him they were actually doing. He planned for this moment before they ever left Egypt.

In Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God told Moses how these kings should rule. Yeah, before the people ever reached the promised land God knew they would demand a king.

He knows our hearts.

He is well acquainted with our stubbornness.

Our decisions don’t surprise Him.

Where have you rejected God’s rule in your life? I hope it’s not all of it.

What demands have you given God about how to run things? Remember who is in charge.

How have you tried to twist things to fit in your agenda? Release those reins today.

Not all leaders are bad. Some are actually benevolent.

Sometimes we need to take action to rectify a situation.

God needs us to step in to change things occasionally.

So, how do we know how and when God needs us?

That’s why God wrote the Bible for us.

It’s our guidebook to live by.

Let’s use it that way.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

FIRST ASSIGNMENT

Samuel laid back in bed. The torch was still burning in the tabernacle. That was his assignment each night…keep God’s light burning.

“Samuel.”

He sat up and ran to Eli’s chamber. “What is it?”

Eli rolled over to face the youngster. “What do you want, Samuel?”

“You called for me. I want to know what you need.”

Eli sighed. “I didn’t say anything. I’m trying to sleep. Go back to bed.”

Samuel returned to his position in the tabernacle.

“Samuel.”

He ran back to Eli. “Here I am. What do you need me for?”

The old man shook awake. “Samuel, what’s got into you tonight. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep here? Go back to bed.”

Samuel muttered as he walked back to the tabernacle. “I know I heard him call my name. There isn’t anyone else here. It had to be him.”

He laid back down.

“Samuel.”

He ran back to Eli. “I know I heard you call for me. Who else could it be?”

Eli looked up. “I’m sorry, Lord.”

He reached out a hand and waited for Samuel to grasp it. “The next time you hear your name called say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'”

Samuel swallowed as he released Eli’s hand and returned to his chamber.

“Samuel.”

When Samuel opened his eyes a man was standing near him. “Speak, your servant is listening.”

“I’m about to do something that will capture everyone’s attention. The sins of Eli’s family will not be tolerated much longer. I warned him about not restraining his sons. Their sins cannot be covered by sacrifices forever.”

Samuel sat on his hands to keep them from shaking.

************

The legend of Samuel carries on to this day. This was a huge step in the process of making this man who would be used in mighty ways to help the nation of Israel to become the greatest nation in the world.

The first step in that process came before he was even conceived. His parents were godly people.

Samuel’s dad took his family to the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God, annually. That’s extremely significant when you remember this was during the period of the Judges…a time when everyone did what was right in his own eyes. God was feared by dad.

Samuel’s mom dedicated her firstborn son to God at the tabernacle on one of those sojourns. The infertility of Hannah, combined with her reverence toward God, made her say a vow that she carried out to the letter. God was honored by mom.

Samuel had an incredibly godly legacy to build on.

When Eli was given the responsibility of rearing this kid it was a second chance to get that right. He failed miserably with his two sons who were supposed to carry on the role of priest for God’s people. The elderly man took this opportunity seriously and did it well.

With that as the backdrop God steps into young Samuel’s life directly.

God had been so distance from Eli for so long even he didn’t recognize God’s presence when it came.

Where are you in this process?

Are you fearing God?

When I ask that question what first came to mind. Did you see yourself cowering in a corner of a room waiting to be struck by lightning? Most people do.

God does have that much power, but He has just as much love for you, too.

For those of us reared in a family where both parents were present we need to remember how we thought about our dads after we did something we knew was wrong. We knew punishment was imminent. Dad was the last person we wanted to cross paths with, but we knew he loved us, too.

Our earthly fathers are to be a representation of our heavenly Father. Too bad there are too few good examples of that today.

Have you made a dedication to God?

Don’t think children are the only thing that can possibly be dedicated to God. Your life can be dedicated, too.

When I suggest that don’t think you have to go to Africa to be a missionary to carry this out. Dedicating your future may mean taking a stand in your current workplace. It could be being more active at church or another organization. It could simply mean studying the Bible more to hear from God better.

Making God number one in your life is dedication to Him.

Are you passing on God’s principles to the next generation?

If you have children definitely start there. If your children are grown teach your grandchildren about fearing and loving God.

If neither of those opportunities is open to you find a young person to mentor. This generation of young adults is floundering now. Too few of them have a solid foundation to build on. They’ve been fed so many lies in school they don’t know what to believe.

When you step in to teach them about God and His truths as found in the Bible take it slow, but be deliberate.

You only need to change the course of one life to have an impact on several people in the future. If you skip this opportunity to make an impact the next generation will continue to wander in the wilderness and miss God’s kingdom altogether.

Eli taught Samuel as much as he could. God’s second chance wasn’t wasted.

By the time God did speak to Samuel the Creator of the universe was a real part of the young man’s mindset.

God can use anybody. He always does.

You can help prepare someone for that transformation today.

That pebble you drop on the surface of the ocean won’t make much of an impact now, but the ripples will go on for quite some time.

Help God steer those ripples by doing your part to focus a young person toward being used by God in mighty ways.

It’s not too late for you to make a difference.

God’s plan is to use you, too.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I just prayed for 150 men…one book at a time

I first met Marcia on a Sunday morning. She approached me before our adult fellowship time and introduced herself. She said she noticed me a week or two before that sitting by myself. She said I looked defeated.

This was a few years ago…after my wife left me and before I lost my secure job that held me constantly sleep deprived. Defeated was becoming my constant companion.

Marcia and I have become great friends since that encounter. Life, on the other hand, has continued to beat me down, but not out. I keep hoping the pendulum of fate hits the low part of its swing soon. I could use some things to begin working toward the “Blessings of God” side.

Being a prayer warrior, as most 70+ year old women of faith are, I knew Marcia would love my book of 100 prayers.

She took the book home and devoured the last chapter on the 23rd Psalm. She told me my writing ranks right up there with Chuck Swindoll. I didn’t say it does…she did.

One of Marcia’s sons helps lead three day retreats called Tres Dias. She gave him her copy of my book to see if they’d like to use it as a gift book for the attendees. She couldn’t wait to get her original copy back from him so she bought a second book that she could continue to work through.

They decided my book would fit with their work so the retreat coming up next month in north Texas will have 100 Prayers of a Writer in the gift bag all the men receive.

Marcia is making sure I have no excuse for not attending that retreat. I told you she’s a great friend.

I knew the bare minimum I had to do is sign every copy of my book. Knowing how much Marcia, and her prayer warrior friends, are praying for this retreat I decided to take it one step further.

I set the six boxes of books out on my floor before I opened them.

I pulled one book out of the first box and set it on top of a stack of two boxes in front of me.

While on my knees I set my left hand on the book and prayed for the man getting that book.

I don’t know the names of anybody going to this retreat. I haven’t even met Marcia’s son, yet. I let the Holy Spirit guide me through each prayer.

Some of these men are dealing with serious addiction issues. Others are facing hard decisions…health issues…family strife…career choices…secrets.

There are some good apples in the bunch who need to deepen their relationship with God at this point in their lives. A few are about to be used mightily by God soon.

I’ve heard of others doing such praying before, but this was my first experience with it.

I hope it’s not my last.

About a third of the way through my running time came due. I took the break from this spiritual warfare to recharge my prayer battery.

What began after church ended after supper that evening.

I know some men will be blessed by the words God used me to write in those books.

This man is blessed by praying for every man attending that retreat.

Please join me in praying for God’s kingdom to be built by what will transpire that weekend.

I’ll see you later.   Wade