Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Spiritual Counsel

 

May 23 – Today’s Readings – 1Samuel 28-29 and Psalms 143

Chapter 28 certainly is a sobering “wake up call” for many who hold to our society’s ideas about “spirituality”. So many very influential people in this world consult with their “inner voice” or some other form of “spiritual” counsel for their life decisions. Without a doubt, it is because the real counsellor, the Holy Spirit, seems irrelevant to them or perhaps that no one has told them about the “Wonderful Counsellor”.

There is (sadly) ample proof in Scripture regarding the deceptive power resident in “spiritual” practices:

The magicians in ancient Egypt tried to match Moses miracle for miracle – “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” (Exodus 7:10-12)
Balaam was also recognized as a “prophet” even though he was not a prophet of God.
The witch of Endor, who is referred to in this passage, had tapped into dark spiritual power.
Simon the sorcerer had “amazed all the people of Samaria” before Philip the deacon came to town and showed them Jesus. (Act 13:6-12)
Even the young girl who “followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God who are telling you the way to be saved” was possessed by a spirit. …”Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned and said to the Spirit, “I command you to come out of her’! At that moment the spirit left her.” (Acts 16:17-18)
There is plenty of Biblical evidence of irrelevant or wrong ways to get spiritual “guidance”.

Should we be concerned? – Of course. These poor people are getting guidance from “the dark side”! We know all too well what the enemy’s voice is all about – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full…” (John 10:10)

Let’s talk about who we listen to for a moment. If people can go to a spiritist to get advice, surely we should be able to consult the Holy Spirit who lives in us! John 14:26 reads, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Holy Spirit speaks to us concerning God’s will in the written Word or by His inner voice in us or by Godly counsel, and even through situations we may find ourselves in. A word to the wise here concerning seeking personal direction for your life – Not all those who claim to have “The word of the Lord” for your life are hearing from the Spirit of God. What you hear must be grounded in the Word of God and confirmed by the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Who you seek council from is just as important as “the word” you receive. Let’s be wise. Let’s not do things without first “consulting” God! He is ever there to give us Godly advice.

Questions:

1. Do you know of modern stories, where people made bad decisions because of “bad advice”?
2. Are there any common practices in North American Christianity that boarder on being “occultish”?

Rebellious and Unsubmissive?

May 22 – Today’s Readings – 1Samuel 25-27 and Psalms 147

In these chapters we find Abigail, the wife of a “wealthy” but “surly” man. Here is a woman who possessed some wonderful character qualities; attributes we should take to heart. She had great insight and perspective and even though she was loyal to her husband (as “wicked” as he was), she was even more attune and loyal to the Lord and the workings of God. She saved her husband Nabal’s life and business but also saved David from taking vengeance with his own hands and slaughtering Nabal and his men. Her actions and words made David even more qualified as future King because his integrity was not compromised. Her speech in this passage honors God and David and shows great discretion as she presents her case to David.

There’s a little twist though – in order to save Nabal’s life, she actually had to go behind his back – do things and say things that she was not authorized to do or say – she also had to be brutally honest about Nabal’s shortcomings. “She fell at his (David’s) feet and said: ‘my lord, let the blame be on me alone. Please let your servant speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.” (1 Samuel 25:24-25)

In this interchange she reveals humility, frankness, sincerity and spirituality in her approach. If Nabal knew what she was doing or saying, he would have hit the roof and would no doubt have been abusive to her as well. She broke commonly accepted norms in a desperate situation but saved many lives and honored God as well as the future king in doing so.

Does this affect our lives in any way? Well, aside from it being adrenaline-charged reading, I think there is a lesson to be learned here. There may be times in our lives when extreme measures do need to be taken. Wisdom itself will dictate to you when to act in an extreme way and when to act within established patterns. Had Abigail stayed home and been a “submissive wife” much would have been lost. We too, when faced with very difficult decisions, may find ourselves doing things that are out of character or role. There may even be times when we are completely misunderstood for the things we do or say. That’s OK – even Jesus was completely misunderstood at times – and The Apostles too went against established authority when they declared that “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)

Fortunately, God knows our hearts and HE will direct our paths.

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where established “authorities” had to be disobeyed in order for God’s purposes to move ahead.
2. Give an example from history that also reveals this same pattern.

The Cave Of David

May 21 – Today’s Readings – 1Samuel 22-24 and Psalms 141

Without a doubt, the “Cave of Adullam” portion of David’s life has created a “romantic” image in my mind since I was a teen. When reading the account this time, however, I saw it somewhat differently – (maybe its just age). A dark cave – filled with smoke – dirty – smelly – no washroom facilities – no kitchen facilities – a group of 400 men who were either “in distress or in debt or discontented” all living in the same tight quarters – David’s own family who had been so negative with him, all gathered there with him (probably out of fear for their lives) – no money – substandard weapons – no food readily available – and to top it off, David had a psychotic king who was determined to find him and kill him! – Sounds like a typical family camping trip to me!

It’s amazing though, that through this hard experience, a group of people were knit together who could withstand all of the future trials of David’s reign as king. Who ever said that Christians should never experience hardship? Sometimes hardship is the tool used by God to make a people fiercely loyal to one another and to grow character in our lives. Back to the camping analogy for a moment – those of you who have camped out with family or friends can attest to the fact that some of the best stories come from those wet nights when the dog smells and the tent seems far to small or when you have a close encounter with “excitement”. As a family, we look back on those moments (after months or years) with great fondness. Somehow – we were drawn closer through the “fellowship of suffering”. I vividly remember a night almost forty years ago when my university-student bride and I were camping on our honeymoon. The place was Long Beach, Vancouver Island. Our accommodation? – a borrowed and well-worn tent trailer – and the late August weather forecast was unknown to us because we were too infatuated with each other to care. We didn’t even question our precarious situation when all the rest of the campers packed up and left. We were rejoicing at the near-empty, romantic camp-ground.

In the wee hours of the morning however, the first Long Beach winter storm (probably closer to a typhoon) raged in upon us. I’m sure that a major percentage of the Pacific Ocean was gathered up by the wind and pressure-washed right through the feeble tent sides of our abode. We were forced to unceremoniously collapse what was left of the tattered and sodden tent trailer and flee all the way back to Victoria (5 hours in those days). This disastrous camping experience has become one of our best recollections over the years and it most certainly helped us grow closer together.

At times you too may feel like you are in the Cave of Adullam. Its not too cheery and the physical surroundings are abysmal. David really had little choice concerning his circumstances however because this harsh existence had been forced on him for a season. What enabled this cave dweller to keep the victory? It was God’s enabling power – and the group of people he was with. The same is true for you and I.

The best news is this – even while living his “caveman” days, David was still busy doing great exploits for God, penning Scripture and living according to Godly principles – (sparing Saul’s life). Now there’s a hero figure for you!

Questions:

1. Tell of a “Cave of Adullam” experience from your life.
2. How did this experience affect you and your growth in God?
3. Tell of someone else’s experience and how it affected them.
4. Did it make them “bitter” or “better”?

The Anointing Of God

May 20 – Today’s Readings – 1Samuel 19-21 and Psalms 140

What kinds of things will the “anointing” of God do for you? Well first of all it will certainly cause those who have lost the anointing to be jealous of you. – “As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’ Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, ‘I’ll pin David to the wall.’ But David eluded him twice.”

People (Saul) may even hate you for having the anointing of God
It may cause problems in your family
Even your own brothers may completely misunderstand you and accuse you falsely (David’s brothers)
Certain people may recognize the anointing on you but try to weigh you down with all of their stuff (King Saul’s armour)
You probably will be thrust out into battles you never intended to be in (Goliath) and you may be offered “rewards” that you really shouldn’t take (Saul’s daughter)
There are (thank God) VERY positive things about being close to God and anointed by Him. You win battles that are naturally impossible to win and you will be rewarded and promoted because of it (all David’s conquests) The anointing will give you influence over people’s hearts (Jonathan and the people) and they will see things in you that make them want to follow Jesus. You may also find that there is a song in your heart and that the presence of God in you more than makes up for all the difficulties you face – and – your friendships will be deep and spiritual.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

1. How does a person receive and walk in the anointing of God?
2. How do you remain continuously close to Jesus?
3. How do you stay focused on God’s plan for your life and not be distracted by other things?
4. When a “Saul” is chasing you, how do you keep on doing the right things?

What A Friend!

May 19 – Today’s Readings – 1Samuel 16-18 and Psalms 139

The account of David and Jonathan is truly marvelous. Here are two young men who are so bound together by the Spirit and anointing of God that their relationship is closer than that of 2 brothers, or even that of David with his wife – “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4)

How precious was this relationship? Well, when they were facing “life or death issues”, whether together or apart, they would chose at any cost to save the life of the other. When Jonathan discovered that his father Saul was trying to kill David, he told his friend that he would do anything for him. Did this mean that he would have harmed his own father out of love for David? I can’t think of another relationship in Scripture like this one, except perhaps the relationship in the Godhead, or the relationship of Christ living within us.

What bound these men together like this? Well, they both had the same kind of relationship with God – the same DNA in God. They were both equally bold and adventurous warriors in God and they both had seen proof that God was able to do anything. They mutually were untainted by “the politics” of the Kingdom and together they shared a boss and father who was out of his mind half the time. These two were both prime candidates to be the next king of Israel – Jonathan the rightful heir – and David who had been “anointed” by Samuel. Yet there was no competition between them, only mutual respect and support. At the end of Jonathan’s life, David lamented – “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26) This is a pretty good kind of friendship to have. If you can find a trustworthy, spiritual friend, you have truly found someone of great worth in your life.

2 Samuel 1:19 reads – “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!” Wouldn’t it be the ultimate honor if at your funeral, your best friend would stand and honor you in this way? This is the perfect sign of respect and honor from one friend to another.

On a side note, I find it hilarious that God fought for David and Samuel by making all those “big army guys” into prophets – thereby rendering them incapable of harming the men of God because they (and King Saul)were walking along half naked and prophesying! (1 Samuel 19:18-23)

Questions:

1. What other deep friendships can you find in Scripture?
2. How have godly friendships saved you grief?
3. Tell of a time when you felt a close bond with someone in the Spirit.

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