How long will you grieve

1 Samuel 16:1

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

1. How long will you grieve over ________

It is not a sin to grieve, but grieving too long over something not aligned with God’s will is not godly. God asked Samuel to stop grieving over someone he loves  because he has a bigger assignment from God and dwelling on the past, on a case already decided by God, is useless. We have to accept God’s plan and stop gloating over disappointments.

I have to move on and stop grieving over him because he isn’t in line with God’s will. Grieving over him rehashes pain unnecessarily.

2. Since I have rejected ________

Saul was rejected by God because of his disobedience to Him.

In the same way, God has rejected this person from being part of my life because he isn’t going to where I am supposed to go.

3. Fill the horn with oil and go.

Samuel has a new task, which is why it is essential that he stops grieving over Saul. Immediately, God told him to fill the horn with oil and go because he is annointing someone.

When God tells us to end one thing, He has a purpose for it. It also involves action. 

4.  I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.

God tells us to move on and to stop living in the past because He has something better in store that will glorify Him.
Samuel set aside his emotions to obey God. He himself provides the replacement for what we grieve over. But we have to obey Him first.

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When Inner Martha Kicks In

I repent from my self-sufficiency.

My lack of quiet time this week has led me to be less conscious of God’s presence. I did open my Bible and study His Word but it was for the purpose of our curriculum write up and dgroup lesson. I didn’t spend time to enjoy God’s presence, but to prepare Bible studies for others. I did watch several youtube videos and listened to podcasts, but those are not the same with sitting down and having a date with the Lord.

After yesterday’s (Friday’s) Bible study, I found myself critical of the two HR employees whom I found staying at the reg booth, eating donuts with crumbs falling between the pages of the attendance sheet I prepared. It was 4:10 pm in the afternoon and people are still not in the respective rooms. I asked the two girls why are the attendees still not inside the room. They answered, “We’ve been calling them but they still won’t come.”

At the back of my head, I was thinking, what kind of excuse is that? Both of you are eating donuts instead of calling people to be on time for the Bible study. The facilitators are volunteers. They don’t get paid for what they do. They purposely take leaves from work just so they can teach here. And the only thing we can give them is respecting their time. 

But God rebuked me.

My inner Martha kicked in. Always trying to make things perfectly planned for a good cause, but forgetting what really matters – the heart.

I was so busy ensuring the employees arrive on time. I was busy making sure everyone was fed with donuts and coffee, but forgot to even pray days before and hours before, which I always did.

Ecclesiastes 1 – All is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 1: 18 – For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases in knowledge increases sorrow.

When you play The Sims, you select a life aspiration for your Sim. It can be a family, wealth, pursuit of knowledge, love or whatnot. In real life, we also have our own aspirations and there’s nothing  wrong pursuing these things. Let’s see what the wisest man (aside from Jesus) had to say about these.

The Book of Ecclesiastes

This was most probably written by King Solomon, the son of King David. Throughout chapter 1, he describes himself as the “Preacher”. In the original Hebrew, it is translated as “Qoheleth” meaning collector (of wisdom). 1 Kings 3:12 says that Solomon’s wisdom came from God. And that this wisdom exceeded everyone else’s.

Everything is a mist

Yet as he writes Ecclesiastes 1:2, he says, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity”. What does man gain by all the toil, at which he toils under the sun? (1:3)

Everyone works hard under an astronomical object yet gains nothing purposeful. The sun rises in the east and hastens to set in the south. The streams flow to the sea, but it doesn’t overflow. There is nothing new under the sun (1:9) Even new scientific discoveries are just discoveries, not new things (1:10). Recent news say we are made up of star stuff. But even that is just a new discovery, it wasn’t created by man. Generations come and go and no one of the past is remembered, nor will anyone in the future will be remembered forever. Such is the life of man, and how big and powerful we think we are, when in reality, everything else in nature moves and cycles by itself.

Try to spray a water mist then catch it.

spray-bottle-mist

Your career is a mist. Your investments are a mist. You waking up and commuting to work is a mist. All your labor, all your pursuit are a mist.

After acquiring so much wealth (which will be discussed in the later chapters), Solomon opens his collection of writing to conclude that everything is vanity. The word vanity is translated to “Hebel” in Hebrew, meaning mist, vapor or mere breath. Everything is just a mist.

Even wisdom is vanity

Sometimes when I have doubt about God, I doubt to the point that I even doubt my doubt. The mind is weird thing! In Solomon’s  great wisdom, he became busy with studying all the happenings under the sun. He applied his heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly but realized that even knowing wisdom was a futile. It was like striving after the wind!

Smallness of Man and the Immensity of God

All these realizations by Solomon (a person who had everything!) points out that even the greatest and most noble of pursuits are futile, and we can spend our whole lives trying to figure out the meaning of our lives – yet in the end realize that we chased things that seem meaningful, but in the grand scheme of things are actually but mist.

So it is my prayer that we see how small and irrelevant we truly are in God’s sight, and how immense He is. We have to heed the Preacher’s warning and strive to live a life pursuing truly valuable things.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I’m calling.
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.
And You’ve told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours.

A single piece of bread

I used to feel entitled when it comes to serving. “I volunteer at church and I am not even given a single piece of bread.” When I work at church, we are the last one to eat – that is – if there is any food left. If there isn’t, then I’d have to buy my own food, while everyone else is eating heavy dinner.

But things have changed for me as I come to understand that this is the heart of Jesus – to serve, not to be served. To empty himself for the good of others. And slowly my sense of entitlement peeled away as He molds me into a servant leader.

Seven baskets for seven disciples

In Mark 8, Jesus feeds four thousand people from seven loaves of bread and a few fishes. After feeding the crowd, the seven disciples gathered the broken pieces of bread from the ground and gathered seven basketfuls. Jesus and his disciples left on a boat but the disciples forgot to bring the excess bread baskets. They got only one loaf which they are supposed to share among themselves.

They discussed about having no food, which is pefectly understandable because they served and are tired and hungry. But also perfectly stupid since Jesus just fed four thousand people with just seven loaves! That is multiplying the seven loaves by more than 500%! Jesus said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” (Mark 8:17)

There were seven basketful of loaves because there were seven disciples.

Today, I no longer ask, “What’s in it for me?” And getting hungry is okay if it means I can have the privilege of serving others. God surely provides in basketfuls. I’ve understood the heart of servant leadership – and I believe the disciples did too.

P.S. Isn’t it amazing that there were exactly seven basketful of bread when there were seven disciples, and exactly twelve basketful of bread when there were twelve disciples? (John 6) I mean to multiply bread is a miracle in itself, but to perfectly calculate the excess is even more mindblowing.

My dog bit me, again!

Things just seem to be falling apart today.

Last night, my dgroup did our first evangelism activity for the year and shared the gospel to four people. It was a joy and a revelation to know the common answer to the question, “Do you think you are a good person?” Everyone said yes. Then we shared how they compared to God’s standards and their need for Jesus.

The same night however, I got bit by Zorro or Cody or Lucas, I am not really sure who. He bit my left thumb and it bled. But what’s worse is that the bite damaged my cuticle and cracked my nail bed. It was so painful overnight and even until now (the next day at lunch time). The pain was kumikirot, and I wasn’t able to sleep. I even took Advil which barely alleviated the pain.

I also went to the dentist. My appointment was at 10 am, but I was called in past 10:30. I was planning to go RITM after my dentist but because I was called late, I couldn’t make it.

Last night as I lay down and tossed back and forth, I was grateful that I do not normally feel this intense pain in my entire body. I also prayed to God asking for healing. I said my foot has not been healed despite many prayers from many people, my heart isn’t healed either, then I am asking for another healing. Not a single prayer for healing is coming through.

So I am really discouraged today with physical pain piling up on my plate. I don’t know what to do because my wound seems to have pus developing and it’s really painful constantly. Though I also know that this is nothing compared to what Jesus experienced. I barely slept. And there are expectations from me. I need to be at the reg booth tonight, how am I supposed to carry stuff and entertain people with this painful thumb?

It’s strange how strong I can come across but with just a roller coaster of emotions, I’d be so discouraged and cry. And I know though, in moments like these, I wish I had a boyfriend, a husband who would comfort me and take care of me, bring me to the hospital, dress my wound. I know that God sees my pains both physically and emotionally and he has a purpose. His grace is sufficient.

Day 2. Pray for God’s family. Pray and provide for the church.

Philippians 1:3-11 talks about how the Philippian church supported Paul in his ministries. Few chapters later, he mentions that the church of Philippi is the only church that supported him. Looking back in Acts, Lydia was a new convert who took care of Paul and Silas after they were beaten.

In this chapter, Paul also encouraged the church to continue in love and grow in knowledge in discernment. 

We can see two important things. First, it is our job to support the church selflessly so that gospel reaches other people. The Philippians supported Paul in his missions and as a result, the gospel was preached. Second, growth in Christ shouldn’t stop. A a church, we have to continue loving each other in real knowledge and discernment for the glory of Christ. That means we need to love based on Christ’s love.

It is a reminder for me that the money I give to God goes a long way in having the gospel heard. We all have parts in sharing the gospel, albeit some are called to be fulltime missionaries like Paul, some are like Lydia and the rest of the Philippians who through prayers and supplication, make the missions possible.

Day 1. Pray for the Nation – Spiritual Awakening of Leaders

As I read Romans 9 and 10, I am reminded of Paul’s passion for those who have not heard of Christ yet. And I also saw how selfish my prayers are that all requests for myself.

He felt deep sorrow and unceasing anguish. Though he was persectured by the Jews, he loved them so much that he would rather be cut off from Christ if it meant that his brothers will be saved.

He also mentions that for people to come to salvation:

  1. Someone must go
  2. Someone must share
  3. Hearer must believe and call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13)

With evangelism being the number one priority of my downline this 2017, I feel like this devo at the start of the year is even a stronger confirmation of our 2017 assignment.

I pray that I would have a heart for the lost and the same passion as Paul has. I hope that my heart wrenches in pain not for my broken past, but for the present people who are dying everyday without God. 

Romans 10:1 My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Father, I ask that I desire this more than my personal requests. That I do not have a myopic and selfish view of the world. May I walk and reflect you in small and big actions. May I be able to preach the gospel clearly and as simple as it is. I pray for boldness and familiarity with the gospel. A heart for the lost that does not seek to win in logical arguments but to have a compassion for them. I pray that I see the reality of life, that eternity is at stake.