Sunday, October 29, 2006

One Man's Bravery (1 Samuel 14:1-23)

What a man! Jonathan is my hero for the day. We don't know much of him yet in 1 Samuel, only that he is overseeing some of his father's troops (King Saul) while they are facing the Philistines for battle. After being introduced to King Saul's strong fear and impatience with the Lord's command in chapter 13, we now see his son take active, bold faith in God's ability to save.

With only his armor bearer, Jonathan says, "Let's go...perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few"(v.6). Sneaking over to enemy territory, the two of them set the pace of war by putting many Philistines to death. Following his son's lead, the King jumps into the battle with his troops. Even those who had gone A.W.O.L. into caves and hiding places began to pursue and take down the Philistines.

One man's bravery jump started the nation into God's awaiting victory.

Can you imagine being the armor bearer, following a brave man into battle like that? Even the armor bearer got some of the action and was willing to risk his life in following. There was bravery in the heart of the armor bearer, too, though he was not the leader.

Lucky me, I got to visit a high school classmate this summer and attend Fellowship Church in downtown Dallas. The sermon was on this very chapter. Though Gary Brandenburg's thoughts were to those serving alongside the leaders of the church, I couldn't help but think of how it applied to being a future wife. Mr. Brandenburg brought out three qualities of the armor bearer in this chapter of 1 Samuel:
1. He prompts the decision to go
2. He affirms the direction of their plan
3. He joins in the action, letting Jonathan know "I am with you"

Does anyone else see the role of a wife in this? As women, (I've been told) we have unique influence and insight within the marriage relationship. Though we have a role that may not lead out front like men often do, God has designed us with just as much bravery through faith. The armor bearer even got to fight in the battle! (Maybe it is widsom that causes us to think before acting, though you have to love men's drive to face challenges despite their emotions and bravely dive into the unknown.)

I want to be a woman who directs my husband to lead in God's direction. I long to be a wife who affirms the unity of the plan. I am eager to stand beside my husband in the ways that I can, letting him know that I am with him in the battle. God is able to accomplish by many or by few, and one day I will stand proudly beside a man of faith so that it will be said of our God in the end, "The Lord delivered that day" (v.23).

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wait (1 Samuel 13)

And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do. 1 Samuel 10:8

Waiting agitates my desire for control. When I wait, I humble myself to someone else's decisions and timing. Waiting requires time, in which I subject my mind and heart to faith in someone else coming through on their promise. In relationship to God, waiting requires faith and taking Him at His word. In the above conversation between Samuel and Saul at his private anointing as King, Saul was promised that after he preceded Samuel to Gilgal, Samuel would offer sacrifices to the Lord and would give Saul instruction on what to do. The new King must wait on God and take Him for His word.

Little did Saul know that the occasion for gathering at Gilgal would be in the context of oncoming raids and battle with the Philistines. Because of Isreal's previous unwillingness to completely wipe out the Philistines when they moved into the neighborhood (the Promised Land), the Philistines had market control over ironworking. In their quest for control, Philistia cut off Israel from being able to have swords and modern fighting equipment. Saul and his son Jonathan were the only two who owned swords. Three thousand Isrealites with their axes, hoes and practical workman's tools gathered against the 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen of Philistia.

Israel was terrified. They were running across the border (crossing the Jordan), hiding in caves, and trembling at the thought of facing the Philistines. Not only was Saul's army miniscule compared to his opponents, but the lack of weaponry and declining morale mounted stress on Saul as a national leader.


Did God really expect Saul to WAIT on Samuel?

Samuel's seven days were up on Saul's stopwatch. The impounding stress and fleeing Isrealite soldiers created a circumstance that seemed to need quick action. Waiting on God looked foolish for someone laying their bet on a worldly solution. God may have previously confirmed Saul's kingship with a victory over the Ammonites, but that was a far cry from Saul's stressful circumstance. The people expected a King to deliver them, and Saul was ready to give into his and their fears.

We see Saul flounder in this account, taking action into his own hands and offering the sacrifice. He decided not to wait any longer for Samuel. In divine timing, Samuel arrives just in time to rebuke Saul and remove him from the divinely appointed role as King over Israel. Through impatience, Saul lost God's blessing.

I can very much relate to Saul's impatience in waiting. I often take comfort in having control in my own hands. When I do this, I don't have to see with holy eyes the pain, fear, or selfishness that truly are a part of my heart. . .I seem righteous when I take matters into my own hands. But when I wait, allowing prayer, the Word of God, accountability, or wise counsel to examine me, I see my sin and can focus my attention on becoming a woman after God's own heart. In that, I do not need my own righteousness, because I rely on Christ's power in me and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I wait in His shaping to change my attitude or ability to have victory in a challenging circumstance.

Saul chose not to rest in God's promise and God's proven character. Are you resting today in God's promises and His proven character to be the Almighty, the Counselor, the Redeemer, the provider, the lover of your soul, etc.?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Woman with the Big Head

Yesterday, one of the Korean girls had her senior recital. I was amazed at the clarity, depth, and magnitude of the voice that came from such a soft spoken little woman! She did a wonderful job...and she's not the woman with the big head, by the way. My Korean friend is studying music, hoping to work with Bible translation in missions, using music as a way to incorporate the gospel message into culture as they work to translate the Bible into a new language. What an amazing vision and passion! Her mother traveled all the way from Korea for the event, and I got to meet her. (She's not the woman with the big head, either.)

As I began to walk onto campus toward the Music Hall, I realized that God had developed me from being a young woman, into being a woman. Somewhere along the lines of the past several years, I stopped associating myself with collegiate life. The mid-twenties were such a mix of learning life outside of college, though I really related to college life more than adult life. Walking on campus made me confirm in my head that I was in a new life stage.

I was dressed in clothes from work, and sticking out like a sore thumb among the students. Though I was older and had different responsibilities, I realized that my life now has just as many unknowns. Faith is required of me now, as it was in college when my financial means were less and when my future looked like a blank sheet of paper. Faith is always required in relationship with God.

Instead of faith, I chose to make my head big and think myself as better because I was older. Self-righteousness began to separate me from the ones that I should have compassion on. In my attitude, I turned my back on the Lord's sheep and goats.

"Do you love me?" Jesus asked Peter. "Then feed my sheep." (John 21)

I am the woman with the big head. Instead of faith in God, as a woman who seeks to do His work with her life, I chose to appease my fears with self-righteousness. My head grew and my heart shrank.

May the grace of God lead us to recognize and confess our sin, and to pray for one another in our daily need for Christ's work on the cross.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Keep Your Lawn...I mean Heart...With all Diligence (1 Samuel 11-12)

In my household of women, I've taken on the responsibility to care for the lawn. With the summer's drought, most of the grass died, and my job was easy. With the sprinkling system broken, our yard became a yellow crunchy field where weeds thrive. A small bit of rain revived the yard, and we now can see some green; both the good and bad are thriving together.

The worst of the weeds are the stickers, which attach themselves to our shoes and make their way into our carpet. I often find them with my bare feet as I walk through the house. They must be at their prickly best in the fall, because I reached my limit of tolerance for them being tracked throughout the house. Yesterday I spent several hours working on the yard, including pulling up each of the sticker grass sprouts by their roots. They thrive in the hot, dry climate because of their very shallow root system, and easily strangle out the good grass. Who knows how long my effort will last!

As the Lord confirmed Saul as King in chapter 11, we again see that God divinely enabled Saul for the task at hand. Israel had victory over the Ammonites, confirming God's anointing for Saul as King. Samuel then lead the nation in faith, gathering them for the public anointing (Ch. 10 was more of a public presentation). Saul's official reign as King began with God's confirming victory. It all seems swell, right?! No sticker grass here.

Then, in chapter 12, Samuel communicated the boundaries and situation for the King that God was giving them. Gathered as a nation at Gilgal, the Lord reminded them of His works in leading them from Egypt, establishing them in the land, and providing for their national needs. He showed them how good it was to have Him as King. Then the Lord rebuked them for their tendency to forget Him, their perpetual cycle of sin, and for rejecting God as King. The Lord's will was to answer their plea for a king, but He was not condoning the sin in their hearts.

Israel was very celebratory over their King, yet God sends them a terrible storm to confirm his anger over their evil. Their harvest would suffer because of the storm. The people fear, but God reminded them that apart from Him their pursuits are futile. He will not abandon His people according to His promise, but He will discipline them. They must be able to recognize the sticker grass which threatens their trust in Him. If they do not learn to love Him wholly, the stickers will strangle out what is good from their hearts. Instead of fruition, the end result would be pain and unrest as the stickers do their damage.

Sin so easily entangles. Its roots do not have to run deep to do much damage. God sees our sticker grasses, instructs us, and desires our ability to rest in him. As we allow the Spirit of God to convict, remember that removing the sticker grass means that your hands will likely be pricked and it will require some sweat, but the end result allows for a fuller trust and rest in God. It's worth the work. Keep striving with the Spirit of God to keep a lush and fertile heart!

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A New Thing (1 Samuel 10)

It's so hard to draw out any lesson in chapter 10. God is doing something so new in Israel, that I have to stand back and just watch with suspense. He's answering the people's plea for a king to rule over them, and chooses Saul. We see Saul's private anointing by Samuel, his hiding the news from an uncle, and then hiding himself among the baggage when Samuel presents him publicly as king to the people. This is new business between God and Israel, so I'm content to sit back and observe. Here's some things I noted:

1. The LORD had earlier said the people would do this, and that it was not motivated for God's glory, but by a rejection of Him. He's allowing it to happen in His sovereign will. We don't know why, but in v.18-19 Samuel speaks the words of the LORD, specifically that this is happening because they have rejected the LORD as king.

2. Take some notes on Saul. His father is a mighty man of valor (9:1), so he comes from a lineage of brave men. That makes him seem a good choice for a king. Secondly, he is taller than everyone around. His stature seems to promote strength. Thirdly, he is reluctant to assume the role as king, hiding and withholding information.

3. God is the one enabling Saul to be king. His Spirit comes upon Saul and changes him. He seeks Saul out to be annointed. He lifts Saul up in front of the people.

4. Even though Saul is king, he is expected to live and rule under the authority of God. He must obey Samuel's instructions throughout the chapter. This is not a role he can fill without the hand of God moving for Him. The king is dependent on God.

My rule of thumb is this: when you don't know exactly how to apply (and even before you seek to apply the Word of God to your life) be a good observer. Watch God do His work and listen to Him through Scripture.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Morning's Random Thought

After running this morning with a wise and fun woman, I soaked in some of the Lord through prayer and 1 Samuel. Afterward, there was a wonderful 10-minute span where I knew I could satisfy my fleshly craving for more sleep. Giggling at myself, I jumped back in bed to lavish myself in pretend sleep.

While doing so I daydreamed about what I would tell a group of young women. The thought was convicting to me because it was truth in my own life. Here's what I would say:

We spend so much time in front of the mirror, caring for the details of our presence, our look. We must be content with the image in the mirror, so we think. We must show others that we have value and worth. Looking at the image in front of us, we expect it to reflect our glory. But let the truth sink in deeply: that image is not our glory.

Our glory is reflected in the cross. There we are the desperate beauties, wanting and longing for a savior. There we are deemed the height of beauty because we are found complete and forgiven in His glory. Rescued, cherished, bravely won...Christ is our glory. May our eyes for ourselves fade, and our attention to the significance of Jesus become sharp and bright in our hearts' eyes.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.