Why are you doing what you are doing? What is the reason or motivation for trying to do it that way? Have you checked with God to get wisdom on or into what is going on? Have you checked with God to get wisdom on or into how you should respond? Are you assuming based on what God’s done that you should be able to get it work this way or that way? Are you using the created rather than seeking the creator for direction into what you need or should do? We need more than a symbol of God being with us, we need God to be with us! We need to turn back to Him and walk with Him through each day and every situation! No assumptions, just listening and acting in obedience. Are you doing it right? Are you acting out of obedience?
This morning’s reading starts off with an interesting view of a situation and we see how they act and respond…
Defeat and Loss of the Ark
1So it was that the word of Samuel went forth to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines in battle. They camped at Eben-ezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek. 2The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel, and when the battle was fought, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed 4,000 men on the battlefield. 3When the people came back to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did Adonai bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let’s fetch the ark of the covenant of Adonai from Shiloh that He may come among us and deliver us from the hand of our enemies.” 4So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of Adonai-Tzva’ot who sits above the cheruvim. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5Now when the ark of the covenant of Adonai entered the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the ground resounded. 6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they wondered, “What’s this noise of a great shout in the camp of the Hebrews?” When they realized that the ark of Adonai had come into the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” So they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has ever happened before. 8Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of this mighty God? This is the God that struck down the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9Be strong, and conduct yourselves like men, O Philistines, or else you will become enslaved to the Hebrews as they have been to you. Be like men and fight!” 10So the Philistines did fight and Israel was defeated—they fled every man to his tent. The slaughter was very great, as 30,000 of Israel’s foot soldiers fell. 11Moreover, the ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas died. 12Now that same day a man of Benjamin ran from the battlefield and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13When he arrived, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the wayside watching, for his heart was trembling for the ark of God. When the man arrived to announce it in the town, the entire town cried out. 14And when Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he asked, “What’s this noisy commotion?” So the man rushed and came and told Eli. 15Now Eli was 98 years old, and his eyes were fixed in a blind stare. 16Then the man said to Eli, “I am one coming from the battlefield—I escaped from the battlefield today.” “What is happening, my son?” he asked. 17And the messenger answered and said, “Israel fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons died—Hophni and Phinehas—and the ark of God was captured.” 18As soon as he mentioned of the ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the town gate. His neck broke and he died, for he was old and heavy. He had judged Israel 40 years. 19Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child and about to deliver. When she heard the report that the ark of God was captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she crouched down and gave birth because she was seized with her labor pains. 20As she was dying, the women attending her said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have brought forth a son!” But she did not respond or take it to heart. 21Then she named the child Ichabod saying, “The glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22So she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been taken!”
–from 1 Samuel 4
How long will you try to doing it your own way? How long before you take God seriously? What will it take for you to do what God has called you to do? Will you return and finish strong? We need to take the things of God and the ways of God seriously! We need to align to and align with God’s will and God’s way! There is no other god but our God! In the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! So let’s not pretend, let’s take a hold of the truth and step forward and step out believing and living what God has created to be and do!
The Ark Afflicts the Philistines
1Now the Philistines had taken the ark of God and they brought it from Eben-ezer to Ashdod. 2The Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the temple of Dagon, and placed it beside Dagon. 3But when the Ashdodites arose early next morning, to everyone’s surprise, Dagon had fallen to his face on the ground before the ark of Adonai. So they took Dagon up and put him back in his place. 4But when they arose early the following morning, surprisingly, Dagon had fallen to his face on the ground before the ark of Adonai, and the head of Dagon and both palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only Dagon’s trunk was left on him. 5That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any who enter Dagon’s house will tread on Dagon’s threshold in Ashdod. 6Then the hand of Adonai was heavy upon the Ashdodites, ravaging them and afflicting Ashdod and its vicinity with tumors. 7When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not stay with us, for His hand has dealt harshly against us as well as against our god Dagon.” 8So they sent word and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them and asked, “What will we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They replied, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried over to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel over. 9But it came about, that after they had carried it around, that the hand of Adonai was against the city causing very great panic, as He struck the people of the city, from the youngest to the oldest, so that tumors broke out on them. 10So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But it came about as the ark of God came to Ekron that the Ekronites cried out saying, “They’ve brought around the ark of the God of Israel to us to kill us and our people!” 11So they sent word and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the God of Israel away—let it go back to its own place, so it won’t kill us and our people!” For a panic of death was throughout the entire city, as God’s hand was very heavy there. 12The people who did not die were afflicted with tumors, so that the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
–from 1 Samuel 5
Do you have something that doesn’t belong to you? What would it take for you to return it to the rightful owner? If you find it and then find out who owns it do you return it immediately? If you find it and then find out who owns it do you try to get to enjoy it for a bit before returning it? You don’t the difference between right and wrong! You know what you should do! What would or will or is keeping you from doing what is right?
Philistines Send the Ark Back
1After the ark of Adonai had been in the country of the Philistines seven months, 2the Philistines summoned the priests and the diviners saying, “What should we do with the ark of Adonai? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.” 3So they said, “If you are going to send the ark of the God of Israel back, do not send it empty. For you must surely return it with a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and it will be revealed to you why His hand has not been removed from you.” 4“What guilt offering should we return to Him?” they asked. So they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice—according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on each of you and on your lords. 5So you will make images of your tumors and images of your mice that mar the land, and you must give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps He will lighten His hand off of you, your gods and your land. 6Why harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He afflicted them, didn’t they send them away so they left? 7Now therefore get a new cart ready, two milk cows on which there has never been a yoke, hitch the cows to the cart, and return their calves home, away from them. 8Then take the ark of Adonai and place it on the cart; also put the golden objects that you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it off so it may go. 9Then watch—if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then it was He who inflicted on us this great harm. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it just happened to us by chance.” 10So the people did so—they took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11Then they placed the ark of Adonai on the cart together with the box, the golden mice, and the models of their tumors. 12So the cows took the way straight toward Beth-shemesh—they kept along the same highway, lowing as they went, and turned aside neither to the right nor to the left. The lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh. 13Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. When they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there, where there was a large stone. Then they chopped the wood of the cart and offered up the cows as a burnt offering to Adonai. 15The Levites took down the ark of Adonai and the box that was with it that contained the gold objects, and placed them on the large stone. Then the people of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrifices to Adonai that day. 16Now when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron that same day. 17So these are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to Adonai: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron. 18The golden mice also corresponded to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords—both the fortified cities and their country villages—as far as the large stone on which they had set down the ark of Adonai. It remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh. 19Then He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had gazed into the ark of Adonai. He struck down the people—70 out of 50,000 men—the people mourned because Adonai had struck the people a great slaughter. 20So the men of Beth-shemesh asked, “Who is able to stand before Adonai—this holy God? To whom should it go up from us?” 21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of Adonai. Come down—bring it up to you.”
–from 1 Samuel 6
Will you give God the praise, the honor, and the glory He deserves? Will you share with people the goodness and the love of God? Will you get rid of the distractions? Will you get rid of the fakes? Will you get rid of the things? Will you get rid of the stuff? So that you have a single focus? Will you turn back to God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your strength, and all of your soul? Will you give up the lies and the deception? Will you follow fully after Him and His Word and His ways? It’s not our battle, the battle belongs to the Lord! So whose side will you join and be on? Choose wisely! I read the end of the book and God wins! And based on your choice, you get to determine your final destiny!
Samuel’s Victory at Mizpah
1Then the men of Kiriath-jearim came and fetched up the ark of Adonai, brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of Adonai. 2From the day the ark rested in Kiriath-jearim it was a long time, 20 years, and the whole house of Israel yearned after Adonai. 3Then Samuel spoke to the whole house of Israel saying, “If you are returning to Adonai with all your heart, then remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, direct your hearts to Adonai and serve Him only. Then He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4So Bnei-Yisrael removed the Baalim and the Ashtaroth, and served Adonai alone. 5Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to Adonai for you.” 6So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water and poured it out before Adonai. They fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against Adonai.” Then Samuel was judging Bnei-Yisrael at Mizpah. 7Now when the Philistines heard that Bnei-Yisrael had assembled at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines marched against Israel. When Bnei-Yisrael heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8So Bnei-Yisrael said to Samuel, “Don’t stop crying out to Adonai our God for us, so He may save us from the hand of the Philistines!” 9Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to Adonai. Then Samuel cried out to Adonai for Israel and Adonai answered him. 10As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But Adonai thundered with loud thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them so that they were defeated before Israel. 11Then the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down all the way to below Beth-car. 12Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named Eben-ezer saying, “Thus far Adonai has helped us.” 13So the Philistines were subdued and they did not invade the border of Israel anymore. The hand of Adonai was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel, from Ekron to Gath, were restored to Israel, and Israel recovered its territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites. 15Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16He used to go annually on a circuit to Beth-el and Gilgal and Mizpah, and would judge over Israel in all those places. 17Then his return was to Ramah, because his home was there, and from there he would judge Israel. So he built an altar to Adonai there.
–from 1 Samuel 7
The devil wants to trip you up! The devil wants to draw you away! The devil wants to tempt you! The devil wants you to question God! The devil wants you to think you don’t need God! The devil wants you to be more focused on yourself than on God! The devil is looking for ways to trick you and get you not only off course but also off balance! He will twist God’s Word to try and get you off track! Remember God’s Word so that you can respond and stand firm! Every day put on the full armor of God and stand strong and stand firm and after you have done so, keep standing strong and firm! The devil even tried to twist God’s Word and tempt Jesus, let’s see how that went and prepare ourselves so that we don’t fall into the snares of the devil! He goes around roaring like a lion trying to scare us so that he can get us off guard and to be afraid! But God’s Word tells us to “Fear Not, Just Believe!”
God’s Word is the way to anchor yourself and ground yourself so that you won’t be swayed or distracted or tempted! And let’s help point people to Him! Let’s help people start their own journey and relationship with Jesus! Let’s help them learn how to fish so that they too can become fishers of men.
Overcoming Temptation with God’s Word
1Then Yeshua was led by the Ruach into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2After He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. 3And when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are Ben-Elohim, tell these stones to become bread.” 4But He replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on the highest point of the Temple. 6“If You are Ben-Elohim,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written, ‘He shall command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘upon their hands they shall lift you up, so that you may not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7Yeshua said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put Adonai your God to the test.’” 8Again, the devil takes Him to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10Then Yeshua says to him, “Go away, satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship Adonai your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” 11Then the devil leaves Him. And behold, angels came and began to take care of Him.
Yeshua Withdraws to Seek God
12Now when Yeshua heard that John had been handed over, He withdrew to the Galilee. 13Leaving Natzeret, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 15“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations— 16the people sitting in darkness have seen a great light, and those sitting in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17From then on, Yeshua began to proclaim, “Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Raising Up Fishers of Men
18Now as Yeshua was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and Andrew his brother. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, Jacob the son of Zebedee and John his brother. They were in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. 23Yeshua was going throughout all the Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness among the people. 24News about Him spread throughout all Syria. And they brought to Him all the sick—those tormented by various diseases and afflictions, those plagued by demons, the epileptics, the paralyzed—and He healed them. 25And large crowds followed Him from the Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
–from Matthew 4