It is very common for people to frequently take advantage of either another person or a situation, whether in a positive or a negative way. For example, sometimes in sports a starter will get hurt resulting in the backup coming in who “takes advantage of the situation”, plays very well and ends up replacing the starter even when he or she is healthy enough to play. Our reading today reminds us of someone else who is looking to take advantage of us. In 2 Cor. 2:11 we read, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
While it is true we do not want to walk around in fear that Satan is around every corner trying to attack us, on the other hand I believe we often minimize the power and influence that Satan has in this world today. Paul apparently had done some prior teaching about Satan to the Corinthian church as he says that “we are not ignorant of his devices.” In other words, he was saying that they were aware of his evil schemes and desires.
In context of this verse, Paul is referring to his admonition that the Corinthian church forgive and take back the man who was guilty of an egregious sin in 1 Corinthians. Paul was encouraging unity in the church and for them to move forward for the cause of the repentant brother and cause of Christ. No doubt he was referring to the fact that Satan would love to take advantage of the situation if the church did not do the right thing and forgive this brother and accept him back in the membership.
So, we need to ask the question of when do we allow Satan to try to get his foot in the door of our lives? Are we even looking out for the fact that he is a “roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)? I heard recently the noted radio preacher David Jeremiah talk about a book called, “Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth” which was co-authored by Carole Carlson. Carole told Dr. Jeremiah that while she was working on this book she felt like she was under attack like never before in her life and definitely felt like she was in a spiritual battle as she tried to finish the book. She then shared that the very day the book was finished and sent out for publishing, her son was killed in a freak plane crash. Now obviously we can’t say for sure what went on behind the scenes in a story like that but I also don’t think we can just casually toss it up to coincidence either. We need to be on guard and recognize that we truly are in a spiritual battle and desperately need the Lord’s guidance and protection from the “accuser of the brethren.” (Rev 12:10)
“No Salary, No Benefits, No Sleep: This Is The World’s Toughest Job”
This is the title of a 2014 article in the Time Magazine. Twenty-four applicants found out “The job had a mandatory 135+ hours a week of work and required the job holder to be on call at all times, day or night, lift up to 75 pounds, be constantly moving and operate on little to no sleep. Qualified candidates should have a knowledge of psychology, medicine, personal finance, culinary arts and basic technology skills.”
The applicants were surprised to find out they were being interviewed to be a Mom! You got it right. The persuasive presentation was concocted to help people value the sacrifices moms make around the world as they care for their families. Sometimes as moms or dads, we can feel the old saying is true, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” We have to be somewhat proficient at everything, but you don’t have the capacity to excel at any one thing.
If you want a happy home, let me tell you there is one simple thing you can excel at and it will make all the difference. It jumped into my mind while I was reading Job 31:8, “Then let me sow, and let another eat; Yea, let my offspring be rooted out.” Job has several cycles in this chapter where he defends his righteousness then in an oath condemns himself if his boasting is false. Back up one verse and you read, “If my step hath turned out of the way, And mine heart walked after mine eyes” (Job 31:7).
This beautifully connects with Psalm 128 which is one of the most important passages you need to study in order to have a healthy family. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; That walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:1–2). One of the most satisfying feelings is a job well-done and you enjoying the fruit of your labors. It may be after you mow your lawn sitting on the porch drinking a glass of ice tea and reveling in your accomplishment. It may be finally getting the kitchen under control after everyone is contentedly filled. Job equated eating what he sowed, fulfillment, as the blessing of walking in the paths of God. The psalmist makes the same connection.
You do not need to master being a coach, tutor, mentor, psychologist, medic, cook, and anything else the world guilts you into doing for your family. If you want to have a healthy family, if you want your wife to be radiant, if you want your children to show eternal promise, if you want to enjoy watching your grandchildren claim your godly heritage, then don’t be the jack of all trades for it is true you will master none. Make one thing your aim: Fear the Lord and walk in his ways. Then you will be blessed (Asher) and all your family with you.
Looking at Psalm 47, we see that God should be praised. In its few verses we are told to praise God about nine times (in one form or another). It is frequently preached, that born-again Christians do not thank our Lord enough. However, we are equally at fault in our lack of praise. We are quick to praise those in movies and television, “our” teams, or the makers of the latest gadgets; yet, we lack praising our Lord. We might praise Him in private, but do we praise Him publicly? “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph”( Ps. 47:1). I understand that to mean wherever we are, He is to be praised! Whether at home, at church or the doctor’s office.
We do not have to wait for Church to praise Him; although, that is the main purpose for our being there. We gather together to worship and praise God! For some of us, this is the only time we get to praise God in public (some may be mostly home-bound or like others- who simply do not). Our modern-day churches need more praise today. If a pastor’s preaching of the Word of God strikes a chord we should yell out an amen, glory or something! And God help us if we slip up a hand. All too oft, when a preacher looks out over his flock, he sees faces that look like they just ate burnt-eggs for breakfast. We lend more attention to the TV screen than to good preaching.
God only knows what would happen to our churches (and country) if praise was increased. Scripture gives us an example in 2 Ch. 5:13, “ It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD.” Rather than glory in God’s presence (the cloud), shout hallelujah or amen most of us would complain about the weather. If we would get it together, we too could call fire and clouds down. “And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever,” (2 Ch. 7:3).
If we came to church praising, amening, lifting a hand or just plain shouting with joy, two things could happen. God could get what He deserves and fill the church with clouds or Pastor could have a heart attack from being amened so much!
It should not come as a surprise to know the author of 1 Samuel intends for you to make comparisons between Saul and David the most poignant of these contrasts being 1 Samuel 28 and 30. Notice, both men are faced with a crucial battle. They both have made a series of decisions on their own which have put them in this difficult situation. They need answers. They need direction, desperately.
Saul seeks out a witch for he says, “God is departed from me, and answereth me no more…therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do” (1 Samuel 28:15). All the other times the Lord told him what to do, he rebelled. Now he wants to know what to do, but he can’t get an answer. Samuel puts it bluntly when he scolds Saul, “Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? For the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand…because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord” (1 Samuel 28:16–18).
David is desperate while his men conspire to stone him. David cries out to the Lord and “encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). Saul melts to the floor in anguish. David pours his heart out in repentance and then requests the Lord’s instructions with the intentions to obey completely. One received forgiveness and direction. The other writhed in his miserable rejection.
There is a vital lesson we must learn from these two men. No one is perfect, but a lesson we learned earlier in David’s life is that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Recently, I was listening to a podcast, and the interviewee was speaking about hiring great potential on your team. He said, “Even a donkey can only pretend to be a thoroughbred for so long.” You may try to maintain the appearances of godliness, but God knows your heart. When it comes to obedience, God knows your track record. You say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,” but “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good” (Psalm 139:11; Proverbs 15:3). He searches the heart “even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings…Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do…Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Corinthians 4:5)
Those who live like David—who are ready to repent and obey—are the ones who will one day “have praise of God.”
I read of a nine-year-old kid who was doing dishes and was bored. The sprayer all of a sudden became interesting. He wondered if the water was running through it the whole time or only when you press the trigger. So he took a knife and cut a slice in the tubing. Well, he soon found out that water is always running through the tube. He stuffed the tubing back in the sink and began to finish up his job. He then however noticed that water was pouring onto his feet from under the sink. How was that happening? He soon learned the workings of plumbing pretty well.
Do you remember some of the stupid things you may have done as a kid? There are all kinds of dumb stories we could tell, but the stupidest thing we do is resist God. Pharaoh tried to resist God and God took this hardened person and snapped him in half. You can acknowledge God’s authority and willingly obey His command or you can harden your heart and resist God. Either way, you will be used of God.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 11:9).
Charles Swindoll said, “Our greatest struggle is not in the realm of understanding the will of God; it’s in the realm of obeying the God whose will it is.” God has been breaking Moses down ten different times here. He has been taking baby steps toward being a dominant figure in Israel but also in Egypt. “Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people” (Exodus 11:3). Do remember this man back a few chapters? He was the one who said, “I can’t do it, Lord. You really need to get another guy.”
Every time he obeyed God, he was broken. Each time God says throw down your staff and Moses does, he is broken and strengthened. Each time God says raise your staff and God’s power is displayed, Moses is humbled by the God he serves. And the way Moses was broken meant that he could be restored to a stronger and more useful tool for God’s purpose.
Only through obedience will you not be broken in a damaging way, but in a productive way. The choice is yours. Pharaoh is mentioned again in the New Testament as a glaring reminder to us: “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
Let obedience work in your life and you will find “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: And he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23).