OLD TESTAMENT READING: 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15
God’s intention was that He be in a covenant relationship with His people. He would be their God, and they would be His people. He would be their King and rule in righteousness. They would be His subjects and glorify His Name in all the earth.
But the people of Israel turned from their covenant commitment to the Lord and coveted having a king like that of the other nations. All covetousness is idolatry. Something else is taking the place of God. And so, the Lord gives the people what they have asked for. He appoints Saul as king. God’s permissive will of decree allowed them to have a king who would reflect their values.
Samuel demonstrates strong leadership in calling the tribes of Israel together and letting them know that they have rejected their God and preferred a king like their surrounding nations instead. In his presence, a lot is cast, and Saul is confirmed as the Lord’s choice among all. But when they look for him, they discover that he has disappeared. Rather than demonstrating willful surrender to God, he hides among the baggage at the time of his coronation. Although God’s will has been made known to him, he hopes to avoid his appointed task, even knowing that God’s Spirit could enable him to hear, speak, and lead.
Saul is a type of the natural man. David will eventually follow as king, and he becomes a type of a spiritual man. “First comes that which is natural, and then comes that which is spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15:46).
David, although flawed, demonstrates a man with a heart after God (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). He demonstrates attitudes that would be later perfected in Jesus Christ- a heart of submission and a heart that took delight in God’s Word and doing God’s will. David had a love for prayer (Psalm 116:1-2, 12-13), a love for worship and praise, and longed for the unity of believers (1 Sam 18:1; Psalm 133). David also hated every false way (Psalm 119:104; 101:3-4,6-7).
Despite His flaws, Saul becomes an instrument in the Lord’s hand, even as the jawbone of a donkey was an instrument in Samson’s hand. The Spirit comes upon Saul in power. But is he a faithful instrument? Saul prophecies according to Samuel’s prediction. He meets his uncle in the place of worship but does not tell him the word of the Lord concerning the kingdom. He is not obedient to his calling.
Samuel assures Saul and the people, saying, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”
Then we hear the Israelites saying what the nations all say about their newly appointed monarchs: “Long live the king!”
Samuel then wrote down on a scroll the rights and duties of a king (1 Sam 10:25) and placed it before the Lord.
Saul proves to be a hero in the people’s eyes as he rallies the nation to support the people of Reuben and Gad, who lived in Jabesh Gilead, east of the Jordan. They were being threatened with torture by Nahash, king of the Ammonites.
The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Saul, and he cuts two oxen into pieces and sends messengers to all the tribes with his threat- what has happened to these oxen is what will happen to anyone who refuses to follow Saul and Samuel into battle (11:7).
The Lord gives Saul victory over the Ammonites. The people of Jabesh Gilead are saved. When people ask that those scoundrels who failed to support King Saul be killed, Saul replies, “No one will be executed today, for the Lord has rescued Israel” (11:12).
After this victory, the people go to Gilgal, where Saul is made king in an official ceremony. And all the Israelites were filled with joy (11:15).
NEW TESTAMENT READING: John 6:43-71
Jesus makes radical statements about His indispensability for the salvation of the human race. Even his disciples find these words challenging their natural sensibilities. Jesus claims to be the only one who has ever seen the Father and that He has been sent by Him (6:46).
He uses the analogy of our dependence upon Him- He calls people to be “feeding on Him” and “drinking His blood” if they want eternal life. This means believing on Him as the Bread of heaven, that which represents God’s provision for salvation. They must take this to heart. The blood speaks of the evidence of the necessary atoning sacrifice. We cannot know Christ apart from knowing and participating in the truth of the cross, the purpose and value of His poured-out life for the atonement of our sins.
John 6:56-57 (NASB) 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
As Jesus lived in a disposition of faith towards the Father, so we are to live in a disposition of faith towards Him. This disposition is to be characterized by a love for, dependence upon, and obedience to Him.
The verbs “eat” and “drink” are found here in different tenses. Verse 53 describes a ‘once and for all act of believing,’ reflecting saving faith at conversion.
John 6:53 (NASB) 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.”
Verses 54 and 55 uses the present active tense: Eat and keep on eating; drink and keep on drinking.
John 6:54-55 (NASB) 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.”
This speaks of an ongoing ‘love for,’ ‘dependence upon,’ and ‘obedience to’ the Lord that is the operation of God’s gracious activity within the born-again believer. It reflects ongoing cooperation with the work of the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus acknowledges that not all will believe Him (6:64-65). Yet believing upon Him is indispensable for our salvation.
This marks a turning point in Jesus’ popularity.
John 6:66 (NASB) 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
When Jesus challenges His disciples with the question, “Are you also going to leave?” Peter responds with inspired logic: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Here is a verse that we should memorize and continually reflect upon: Jesus said: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)
TODAY’S PSALM: Psalm 107:1-3
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His love endures forever.
We should speak up and tell others of the great things He has done in our lives.
Think of how He has met your needs when you were lost, separated from Him, and starving for the bread of life! When you were thirsty, He said come unto me and drink! (John 7:37). He satisfies (Psalm 107:9)!
Twice the Psalmist describes our original condition when we were dead in our trespasses and sins as being in “darkness and deepest gloom” (v.10, 14). He snapped our chains and broke down the prison gates to set us free.
He has rescued us and promises to make us whole.
Psalm 107:20 (NASB) 20 He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
When we were tempest-tossed, He brings us into the safety of His harbor of love.
Psalm 107:30 (NASB) 30 Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven.
PROVERBS FOR TODAY
Proverbs 15:1-3 (NASB) 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. 3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.
Learn how to answer provocation in the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t just count to ten when provoked to anger. Count on the Lord to give you a gentle answer rather than a harsh word. Beware of self-sabotaging speech!
PRAYER FOR THE NATIONS: ECUADOR
Republic of Ecuador
Area: 269,178 sq. km
The Amazon jungle in the east, high Andean Sierra in the center, fertile coastal plain on Pacific Coast. Also, the Galapagos Islands, 1,000 km to the west.
Population: 13,774,909 Annual Growth: 1.07%
Official language: Spanish Languages: 25 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Answer to Prayer
The steady growth of evangelicals. Ecuador had Latin America’s lowest percentage of evangelicals in 1960, but this has increased from 17,000 seventy-fold to 1.2 million in 2010. Most growth is in the rapidly growing cities and among the Quichua. Evangelical churches in Ecuador may not have the size of Brazilian churches or the proportion of Central America’s, but they are growing in number, in size, in maturity, and in social impact, particularly in the last 10 years.
Challenge for Prayer
The Catholic Church sees its privileged position erode, even as evangelical and marginal groups rapidly increase. There are sporadic, local incidents of mob violence, burning of churches, and intimidation against evangelicals. Pray for continued freedom of religion, harmony among denominations, and an increase in spiritual life among Catholics. There is a modest but growing charismatic movement in the Catholic Church in Ecuador.
The less evangelized:
a) The slum-dwellers of Quito and Guayaquil. Over 60% of the latter’s population are extremely poor, and many live in slums built on a polluted marsh. Few Christian workers have a vision for these deprived people.
b) The upper and middle classes are relatively unresponsive (CMA, OMS, and others).
c) University and school students. Over eight agencies are involved in campus ministries among the 250,000 students (on more than 300 campuses), including CCCI, CECE (IFES), YFC, LAM, and four denominational groups. There is still much room for growth.
d) The Afro-Ecuadorian people are only 0.03% evangelical. Although there are many Catholics among them, Spiritism is the true spiritual power at work in their midst. Pray for a breakthrough among this unique group.
e) The 28,000 people living on the distant and barren Galapagos Islands now have a growing ministry in their midst through MVI. The islands host many eco-tourists who, through Darwin’s legacy, are often hostile to biblical Christianity.
f) Loja province is isolated from mainstream Ecuadorian life and is only 0.1% evangelical. Operation Esperanza is a multi-agency effort to see fruit in this region through prayer, radio, evangelism, and holistic ministry (SIM, OMS, WV). Good Shepherd Radio broadcasts the gospel to many isolated villages otherwise difficult to access.
Yet, the impact of the gospel continues to spread. In 1967, only 120 of the 3 million Quichua were Christians. Today in some areas, almost 50 percent of the Quichua people have come to know Christ as their personal savior.
PRAYER: Father, we have fed and continue to feed on your gift of salvation. You have shown us the value of the laid down life of Your Son, the Bread from heaven. You have shown us the purpose for which He came, to shed His blood for the remission of our sins. With humble remembrance, we continue to be dependent upon Him, looking to Him to finish the work He has begun in us. We thank You for the Holy Spirit and the power of Your love shed abroad in our hearts. Give us the grace to be instant in our obedience and to walk in the strength that You provide to live a life that glorifies you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.