Weekly Devotion: Eureka!
Pray: Ask God to stir your love for His word. Ask Him to strengthen your sense of need for regular fellowship with HIm.
I've been having devotions for over 20 years. For the most part, these have been an exercise in faith and sowing. In other words, I don't have "eureka" moments very often, and the fruit of the time invested in the word and prayer isn't discernable immediately, or even over the course of a few months. However, as I look back over the years there is no question that God has slowly worked through those seemingly insignificant moments.
Recently, I was struck in a very unique way as I read and meditated on God’s word. I had the sense that He was speaking directly to me. This is one reason we devote ourselves to God's word and prayer on a regular basis: to put ourselves in the place where God, by His Holy Spirit, can do big things in our hearts. Of course there is the slow, steady, cumulative effect of daily investment through which God will likely accomplish much of what He wants to in us. But we should also long for those "special" moments where the Holy Spirit does something unique. I am convinced that these "eureka" moments usually happen in the midst of giving ourselves to the "ordinary means", like a daily devotion.
As I was working my way through a Bible reading plan, I read the end of 1 Samuel. In chapter 30, we read that the wives and children of David and his men were staying at a place called Ziklag. While David and his men were away, the Amalekites swooped in and took all the women and children and burned Ziklag. This included David's wives.
1 Samuel 30:3–4
"And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep."
In the past several weeks, we've all experienced or feared that we would experience horrific things. Personally, I can't think of anything more horrific than someone taking my wife and my kids. The possibility of harm coming to them coupled with my own failure to protect and provide for them would crush me. It sounds like it crushed David and his men. This isn't an overreaction or an inexcusable "emotional" response.Their grief was appropriate. When we face ugly things, when we lose something or someone, weeping and grieving should follow. It means we truly love and care. Initially, we should weep. But what do we do after this initial response? Should we wipe our face, clench our fists and jaws, and get to work? Should we wallow in despair?
1 Samuel 30:6a
"And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters."
Before David had a chance to respond, another wave hit, so to speak: the people blame him for their loss, and have decided the death penalty is warranted. When faced with loss, they all grieve. Good. Once the initial weeping fit has passed, the people want blood. Someone has to bear the blame for this injustice, and that someone must pay. Is that our next step? Should we wipe our tears, and then commit ourselves to finding someone to blame and punish? What did David do?
1 Samuel 30:6b.
"But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God."
This is what I think the Holy Spirit highlighted as I read. When we face the inevitable upheaval, we will weep. But right after that, before we move on to action, we need to strengthen ourselves in the LORD our God. This applies to every aspect of our lives, really, not just calamity and horror. When we are faced with a challenging situation at work or at home, before we respond, we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord. When we've screwed up, and there will be consequences to bear, we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord. We don't look for someone to blame, or focus our attention on the actions of others. We go to the Lord. We find strength in Him. We do this by prayer and feasting on His word. This doesn't have to take very long. Once we've been strengthened, then we take action. If you read the rest of the account, David was strengthened, he inquired of the Lord, and then led his men to get their families back.
1 Samuel 30:17–19
"And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all."
Many of us have responsibilities to lead and take action in our families, work, or in the church. But before we act, especially in hard circumstances, we need to be strengthened in the Lord. The order matters. Go to the Lord, find strength, then act. When faced with loss, weep, go to the Lord for strength, then act. At the beginning of each day, let's be strengthened in the Lord. We are weak, but He is strong. He will equip us to do what He has called us to do.
Have you ever had an “Aha!” moment during your devotions? If so, what were you doing and what do you think the Lord highlighted?
Do you lack faith that a regular time of prayer and Bible reading will make any difference in your life? If so, who could you talk to about it?
When things get hard or the future seems uncertain, what do you typically do? At what point do you go to the Lord?
Over the past few months, what has characterized your initial responses to bad news or fearful possibilities for the future?
Pray: Thank God for His word: for inspiring it, preserving it to this day, and for the easy access we have to it. Ask God to fill you with a fresh love for reading and meditating on His word. Ask Him to speak to you in personal and powerful ways as you read. Spend a few minutes rehearsing all the blessings and benefits you’ve experienced from the ministry of the word of God.