Saul had his own moment of leaving the wine press ( figuratively). When the Isrealites fussed to have a king like everyone else had, God chose Saul. Where was Saul when Samuel informed him he was to be king? Looking for donkeys. He didn’t want the job at first. Now I know that Saul is a contrary figure. But he was chosen by God, even if he turned from God in the end, God gave him a position of authority. But he had been found for his time, in a place of lowlyness. Not believing that God had a great time for him.
Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” 1 Samuel 9:21 NIV
But God was able to change him. To make a great king out of the least likely person.
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 1 Samuel 10:9 NIV
It doesn’t depend on us. If we are well educated or are wealthy or have a great family background, none of that matters for God’s big plan for us. All that matters is that we are willing to say ‘yes God, let’s do this!’
Saul was planned for a time and purpose. He is also a great example of what happens when we turn from God even in the midst of following His plan for our lives. We must remain true to Him and serve Him or else He may use someone else to fulfill His plan. Saul had the chance to be great in God’s power. But He chose to try and be great in his own strength and was cast down.
God can use you no matter how unlikely you seem to yourself. But if you don’t honor Him He will find someone else.
God sees you when you are threshing wheat in the wine press.
Sometimes the enemy feels too strong, so we find ourselves serving God privately and quietly and not standing up and showing people that we love him. Sometimes we’re even too afraid to tell people that we are Christians. That makes God very sad, but just because He’s sad doesn’t mean that He’s not taking care of us in the wine press. When I think of Gideon I think of someone I understand. He had been attacked, he had seen his friends slaughtered, and he was afraid. So he started doing his work away from watching eyes. I don’t blame him. Yet despite his fear and hiding God planned to use him for a great victory. It wasn’t easy either. There were times I bet he thought he had imagined the angel who had come to him. But in the end he gave his body and will over to God and God used him as He said He would.
Don’t feel like God is overlooking you because you are in the wine press, He still sees you and He still plans to use you. Even if you are failing now, even if you failed Him this very second, it doesn’t change what He can and will do through you. It may be hard, but don’t fight Him. If God has you by the waist and is pulling you out of the wine press, the only one you’ll hurt by clinging to the walls is yourself. That’s easy to say, but I know I’ve wrapped my arms around the mill stone a few times recently, the same as everyone else. But God will give you another chance. He knows what greatness you can achieve when you surrender to Him.
Judges Chpt 6-8 tells Gideon’s story for those who want to read it.
We are all the two thieves. We’ve either asked Jesus to remember us or we have mocked Him by not believing Him. The two thieves were a physical example of the two paths to take. A sinner set free by the blood of the Lamb – or a sinner still attached to his/her cross. You can choose to follow Jesus to Paradise or you can choose to stay the way you are. He leaves the decission up to you. But only one road leads to Heaven. Only one way takes you away from death eternal. Jesus is the only way- the choice is up to you.
‘Today is my day to sorrow’, thought the tiny flower growing beside a rock. ‘Last night a great trouble came over me as a man, or something more than a man, sat by my side and wept. His tears were so great that when they splashed upon me I felt sick and my roots were weakened. I tried to reach out to the man, but I am just a flower and cannot draw attention to myself like a bird can with her song. He cried and screamed and begged and pleaded, but no peace came to this man. I hoped that He would look at me and I could make Him smile. He left and then returned, even sadder when He came back. All I could do was sit with Him. Then I sensed a resolve in His being and He went to stand once more. He stumbled and His hands landed near me. I tried to be radiant to bring Him comfort, finally He saw me, He smiled very gently, then He rose to His feet. “Thank you my radiant flower.” He said, then He left.
I feel that something great and tragic happened that night. Today I feel as though a friend is calling out for mercy. Today I feel sad. But being a flower, I know that tomorrow will bring new joy and hope.’
There’s a road that keeps on calling me.
The pathway of tears, the road of sorrows, the Via Delorosa; the road has many names and titles, yet it always leads one place, to the cross. Oh I don’t mean the Spiritual Cross. I mean the literal cross. The worst part about anything you are dreading is the leading up to it; the road to your school or office, the hall to the doctor’s office, the first signs of a cold. You know what’s coming, and you dread it, yet you are given no choice and must walk down the path to where you are supposed to be. Many walked this road carrying crosses. Only one held no sin. Many felt the pain and shame and fear of going down that road, only one went down it by choice. Many were nailed to crosses to pay for their crimes, only one was nailed to a cross to pay for my crimes, and the crimes of all those who would choose to lay their sins aside and follow Jesus.
There’s a road that keeps calling me. The road to the cross. Yet when I stand on that hill I am not accused, because I gave my life to Jesus and He paid my debt for me.
Lent devotional 35
I am your guilty scars, as roman soldiers tear my back
I am the crimson stain that washes all the souls faded to black
I am the one who bled in silence and endured it all
I am the word who spoke no word, with a thousand angels waiting for my call
I am your covenant, your hero in these bloodstained pages
I am your guilt, your sin, your debt fulfilled for all the ages
I step into your shoes, your substitute
Your raison d’etre
Your second chance
Your breath of life
I am the joy of angels dancing in the streets of heaven
I am the sinner’s prayer for mercy and a past forgiven
I am the lamb upon the altar dying willingly
All hope that was
All hope that is
All hope to be
Dragged before people who did not deserve to be judge and jury, beaten, ridiculed, knowing He would die, and when asked if He was the man they were looking for Jesus still replied ‘I am.’
Fearless? No. Ready? Probably not. Willing? Yes. Jesus was the willing sacrifice. You open a Bible and you open a world of history, carefully preserved and hidden from hands that would have destroyed it. Blood stains the pages from Jesus to the martyrs and everyone before and after. The blood of the men and women who refused to give in to the pounding of the swords on the shields of the enemy surrounding them. To stand against all odds and say, ‘no! Jesus is king no matter what you say!’ If He isn’t real then why does He scare people so badly? Because they don’t want to change and they know that if what Jesus said was true then that would mean they would be living a dead existance, but surrender scares them. He did nothing wrong, yet He died. He commited no crime, yet He was sentenced. For every dirty thought. For every feeling of contempt that is unworthy of the presence of God Jesus died so we could still stand before the throne of Heaven. I can’t say this as well as Theocracy did, but He is I Am, and that means so much more than two words. He is the sacrifice, the saving seal, the one who holds the keys of sin and death.
The one who was scourged for us. We wet it down and say beaten because the word scourage makes our stomachs crawl. Look up that word and let your mind understand that this was not a beating with rods which would have been plenty, this was so much worse. We don’t want to see because we want to forget just how much He did for us. But forgetting doesn’t peel the glass bits out of His skin or wrap back together the tissue and tendons torn. He is the blood running down to the foot of the cross that washes me clean. No matter how many times I fail, I Am lets me climb my way back to Him, and when I can’t climb, He carries me. Because He has already paid it all, there is nothing more for Him to pay for me, I belong to Him and He loves me.
God was walking through His Church one day and decided to ask people about their favorite Bible verses and why they liked them. It wasn’t that He didn’t already know the answer, just that He wanted to have His people tell Him themselves. God smiled as He spoke with different people and saw the mix of emotions on their faces as they explained why their favorite verse was their favorite. Out of the corner of God’s eye He spotted a man that He knew was simply there to put in his necessary hour of Church before going on with his week. God smiled sadly and went over to the man.
“Hello my child,” God said as He approached. The man bristled and nodded a greeting. God tried again, “how have you been? I’ve not heard from you lately.”
The man shrugged and mumbled that he was fine.
God smiled, “tell me, what is your favorite scripture?” God knew, but wanted an opening to discuss it with the man.
Irritated the man looked at God, “I can do all things. That’s my favorite verse.”
God tilted His head, “go on.”
“What?” The man growled.
“Go on and finish the verse.”
“That is the verse.”
God shook His head, “you’re missing part of it.”
“No I’m not! That’s how it’s written!”
The argument began to draw attention, embarrassed, the man walked away and left the building.
Back in his own house the man sat with his arms crossed, still angry about earlier. Suddenly his couch dipped down as another body sat on it. The man looked to see God sitting next to him. Startled, the man exclaimed, “what are you doing here! Don’t you have a Church to lead?”
God smiled, “but you are here.”
“So what? I’m just one person.”
God nodded, “but you are the one who needs me most right now.”
The man scowled, “why was I wrong about the scripture earlier? I quoted it right.”
“Yes, but you left out the most important part.
‘I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength- Phillipians 4:13.
You left me out of the verse, just as you’ve left me out of your life.”
The man un-crossed his arms and looked at his shoes, “I was wrong God. I can’t do all things on my own.”
God put both arms around the man and drew him into a deep hug, “but you have me my son. You never need to do things on your own. Just trust me.”
Our feet feel the squish of who knows what? The air is some sort of un- breathable fume and the walls are wet like tar. But we asked to come, so here we are.
Wails trick our ears from every corner and sunshine is a distant memory, but there is hope. The jingle of keys in a strong and determined hand. Several people join our ranks, faces I never thought I would see as each door is opened. Jesus smiles as He sets the last of the captives free.
Imagine being there with Jesus. Walking through hell and setting the captives free. The Bible says that Jesus took the keys from the devil. You didn’t think He kept them as a souvenir did you? He used them to free those imprisoned by death. Death before Jesus would have been terrifying. Death now is a glorious reward, Heaven.
What would it have been like to walk through the devil’s territory and let free those who had been waiting there for Jesus? Imagine the joy. Imagine the disgust and horror the devil must have felt? It would have been glorious.
Thank you Jesus that we can live unto you and no longer have to fear death because you died for us. Amen.
Walking down the street in the late afternoon sun. A bell jingles as you open the door to your favorite coffee shop. Your back is sore and your clothes are scuffed from a long morning as you walk up to the counter. Then the waitress behind the counter smiles. “Hi……..! The usual?”
You nod and smile back with a please and thank you. Feeling a little more refreshed you accept your coffee and leave with a wave.
Isn’t it great to have people call you by name?
Names signify belonging. We give names to our vehicles, our guitars, sometimes even our favorite pair of runners. Why? Because it signifies that they are important to you. You call them by name because you have a connection.
When people have a connection to you they call you by name. Sharing a name with a person makes you instant BFFS because you have a unique connection.
Jesus calls us by name; not because He has to, but because He wants to show is that we are important to Him. He wants us to know that He knows our name and that we have a connection to Him.
Jesus. God. Savior. Knows your name.