January 2014

Thought for thought


Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.
1 Samuel 13:8-9 NLT

Saul showed a number of things here:

  • Lack of trust in Samuel
  • Impatience
  • Conceit, by believing that he could do someone else’s job
  • Underlying fear

So many of our actions are influenced by our emotions. In a lot of cases, this is no bad thing. Emotions like love can change an ordinary action into something truly special, but the negative emotions like distrust, impatience, conceit, fear, anger can turn an ordinary action into something destructive or even disastrous. We were made to have emotions but we were also made to have control over them.

I need to exercise control over my emotions. They influence my thoughts, but my thought process should be using them and controlling them, rather than the other way about.

My turn


But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24 NLT

The Lord has done so many wonderful things for me. It’s time I started doing wonderful things for Him! 

Time for time


But before dawn the next morning, Saul arrived, having divided his army into three detachments. He launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites and slaughtered them the whole morning. The remnant of their army was so badly scattered that no two of them were left together.
1 Samuel 11:11 NLT

Procrastination is not generally a good idea. Too often it means that what needs to get done never gets done. I have managed to get into a few tight spots because I failed to address a problem when I should have done, and put it off till “tomorrow”. The old adage is that tomorrow never comes. It’s true.

Sometimes, though, we need to put some things off till tomorrow, and fear is at the top of the list for this. I look back at all the things that frightened me as a kid, and none of them frighten me now, partly because I’m bigger and older and stronger, but mostly because fear is a thing of the future and when the future comes, it is often not as bad as it seemed in the past! How many times have I been afraid of something happening and it never happened? This morning I was afraid of going for a minor operation, but when it happened it was totally painless.

So, the lesson is that I should procrastinate fear itself, because when the day that I am afraid of comes it might not be anywhere near as bad as I think it is going to be. Even if it is, I’ll go through it on that day, and not before! 

Thorn in my side


The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,  but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.
Mark 4:18-19 NLT

Although this parable is referring to people who hear the Gospel for the first time, the words are no less relevant to me today. How often have I let the Word of God, and even the Kingdom of God, be crowded out of my mind by the worries and desires of this life? It’s all to easy for me to be enticed away from the things of the Kingdom by the things of the world, and because of that I have lost so many opportunities to produce fruit. It’s all about priorities, and I’m afraid to admit that I don’t really have any – and any that I have are generally the wrong ones!

It’s time to change that! 

Mixed values


Finally, they entered the region of Zuph, and Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go home. By now my father will be more worried about us than about the donkeys!”
1 Samuel 9:5 NLT

It’s not used so much now, but one of the definitions of the word ‘dear’ is expensive. Nowadays it is used more when describing something as cherished and loved. The word ‘valuable’ has similar double meanings but it is more split between expensive and treasured – a diamond ring can be valuable, but so can a good employee. We also talk about someone being worth his weight in gold. The point of all this is that we tend to confuse people with things in how we value them. How can we describe someone in the same way we describe an inanimate object like a ring? How can we put a price on someone by saying that he is worth 12 stones of gold?

Saul knew that his father thought that he was more important than a few donkeys and that he should therefore call a halt to the search.

I get attached to inanimate objects. I like having them and using them. A few days ago I was in a panic because my mobile phone developed a fault and I couldn’t use it. The thing is that I couldn’t use it to keep in touch with people and that is the most important matter – people! I need to get my priorities right. People matter more than any matter. It’s not that they are more valuable than any item, or worth their weight in any substance. They are people. They are God’s children. They are the ones for whom God sacrificed his one and only son. They are more precious to God than Jesus!

It’s all about people. The things in life don’t matter. 

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