It has been several days since I have been in my refuge, the room I have in my house where I seek God’s presence, pray and study. Our home has had family here and the littles brought germs with them, my husband was the first to catch the bug which appeared as a cold, and then I felt the symptoms invading me as well. I never really got congested but my head felt full. I found myself just sitting and staring at the TV, unable to get myself inspired to do anything. My husband will tell you that I am a busy person who always sets out with a plan daily of things to accomplish and yet for the last couple of weeks I just could not get moving. I will also say that retirement can be challenging, you have more days to do “stuff” less “money” to do them and so you find yourself saying “that can wait.” A frustrating place to be…my foggy head, lack of motivation and no real deadline to make me move. And yet there is something is there not? There is God. The True force behind the “why” of everything. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not believe, to not know that I am His child, to live without purpose in the fourth quarter of life. This is where faithfulness comes in. And so, in my stupor I will say “Yes God!” I will call upon my Father to help me rise up and get moving…I will remain faithful!
The dictionary defines faithfulness as the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances. Faithfulness is adhesion, allegiance, attachment, commitment, constancy, dedication, devotedness, devotion. Faithfulness comes from a place of trust and loyalty. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is a confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faithfulness requires us to submit our ways to God, it means that even when are physical body is failing us we keep saying “Yes God.” Even when something we hoped for, someone we thought would extend an invitation, an opportunity dissipates into thin air we continue to say, “Yes God”.
I receive a newsletter from the Assemblies of God quarterly and in the fall issue an article about faithfulness caught my eye, it’s simple truth lead me to share these thoughts with you and so I extend a thank to Donna Barrett, author. It spoke to me right in the midst of my funk (for lack of a better word), encouraged me to stay the course, do my best and give God all the praise.
King Saul had it all, selected by God when the Israelites asked for a leader. Set up as King, he had wealth, wisdom, and looks but most of all… he had God on his side. So, what happened? Simple put he let the distractions of this world blur his vision, congest his mind. In a nutshell, he become unfaithful to God. Scripture says, “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of her, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore, He killed him and turned the kingdom over to David, the son of Jesse.” 1 Chronicles 10:13-14NASB
Every person in the Bible, every situation is placed there with purpose by God, to warn us, to teach us how to navigate life on planet earth. With that being said, Saul is given to us as an example of what can happen when we take our eyes off God and put our faith in things of this world. King Saul made three mistakes. Let us look at each of these and see if you and I are vulnerable as well.
- DO NOT Look to the World for Guidance
Saul stopped seeking God for guidance, consulting a medium instead. In today’s world you and I do this when we let popular opinion guide us. On social media we look to see how many “likes” we get to affirm a thought or decision. Any information source you seek before or more than God is just a modern-day medium. God’s Word is the ultimate guide, the internet provides a multitude of information that can be spun, miss quoted, and edited to sway our decision in the wrong direction. I know I find myself saying “let me google that to see what is said concerning that”, now please let me say that we my husband and I have consulted the web on home repair, which item might fit our needs best and it can be a wonderful resource. Even in studying God’s Word, the internet has thousands of amazing articles and other sources for us to build our faith. You and I need to put God’s Gospel first, more than whatever version of truth is presented to us at the moment. I find Philippians 4 as a source of comfort and guidance. His Truth is still the Truth, even if no one believes it. A lie is still a lie, even if everyone believes it.
- DO NOT Compare
Saul’s second mistake was comparing himself to others especially to David.
1 Samuel 18:7-9 tells us, “The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this lyric [b]displeased him; and he said, “They have given David credit for ten thousands, but to me they have given credit for only thousands! Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David with suspicion from that day on.”
This song of celebrated victory caused Saul to become jealous of David. It rendered he unable to escape the comparison trap. He saw David as a rival instead of acknowledging him as someone Saul had mentor and sharing in the victory. Embracing the truth that together they were a winning team. How would this scenario have changed if Saul had recognized his jealousy and brought it before the Lord in repentance?
I used to find myself begrudging other sisters in Christ who knew more scripture, who’s prayers were more elegant than mine, who I thought reached a higher level in their faith than me, friends who’s relationship appeared closer. But as I have grown as a believer, God has shown me that I have value in Him, my own unique value that He has grown in me. Even my marriage, in my friendships they are unique and God has taught me not to compare with others. Comparing ourselves to others in any respect leads to jealousy, losing sight of who you are, or your value in God’s Kingdom. Once again social media is a trap in this area, it has become today’s tool for unfair comparison. Unfair comparison and jealousy feed off one another and result in a never-ending vicious cycle. The way out is to be faithful to God with who you are and what He has given you. DO NOT let the enemy lure you into the comparison trap.
- Be Honest with Yourself
The worst kind of deception is self-deception. Saul began lying to himself, believing those lies and then lying to those around him. The lying thought in your mind is a prelude to sin in action. In 1 Samuel 13:7-14, we find Saul disregarding God’s instruction to wait for Samuel…we see Samuel confront Saul as to why he did not wait for him as instructed. Here comes the excuses. When Saul disobeyed God and kept some of the plunder, he justified his actions as recorded in 1 Samuel 15:7-15. This pattern of excuse-making starts with self-deception. An excuse is nothing more than a lie wrapped up in rationalization. Who we are and what we do are connected, it might be said that our action verifies our character.
A person’s character is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as, “Your character is your personality, especially how reliable and honest you are. If someone is of good character, they are reliable and honest. If they are of bad character, they are unreliable and dishonest.” Even the world identifies that we are subject within our character to good and evil. The sinful nature you and I were born with is found within our character. However, there is good news in that God has given you and I a spirit within us, along with the Holy Spirit to overcome the sinful nature “bad character” within us. As we look to God remain faithful to His Word our character is refined into the image of Jesus Christ as spoke of in scripture. This is lifelong process well worth all our effort. The apostle Paul reminds us that there is a constant conflict, a battle within us that must be surrendered to God. He tells us in Romans 7 that this struggle is real and that it continues even though Paul himself teaches and speaks God’s Truth at every opportunity. For me this is an inspiration to not give in or give up.
In closing, Saul allow his character to be compromised by putting is faith in the world’s view instead of God’s. Once he took his eyes off God, sadly Saul began making decisions based in the world and self-deception, he became lost to God’s Truth and suffered eternal consequences.
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures for some time now, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. Cling to this truth, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom: Preach the Word of God through what you speak and in action. It must be your lifestyle to represent His Truth daily no matter the circumstance you find yourself in. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. In fact, it is now upon us. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5NLT personalized
Blessings, Sister Laurie