April 19

Luke 17:1-19

“It is impossible that no offenses should come.” Well, isn’t that the truth?

As long as we live on the earth, people will get offended at Christ and at you. Something on the inside of us tells us that unity is what is right, but yet, even in the church, we sometimes see people trip up and go off-course because of an offense. We can’t control how people choose to feel or think. If they pick up an offense, only repentance can lead to reconciliation, and repentance requires humility and a new way of thinking. It often involves forgiveness and meekness. It requires wisdom and resolution to conflict. If all people involved will look to God, then it is possible. It is possible for a rebellious heart to turn and submit to God. It is also possible for an offended heart to turn to yield to one another.

Jesus speaks of a sinning brother. If you love your brother or sister, you will try to correct a person when they go off track, knowing the end to sin is not pleasant. If the brother repents, forgive. If this happens many times, continue to forgive whenever there is repentance.

I have heard people say that if you love them, you won’t try to correct them when they are in rebellion to God. They say if you really love them, you will accept them and their decisions. However, if you think of someone drowning, if you love the person, you will do your best to save him or her. You would never just let them suffer and drown. Acceptance of the person is loving. Acceptance of sin is not loving.

In every occurrence of correction, it should be done with a grace and it should be done with the aim of reconciliation. However, we can’t override someone’s will. If someone makes the choice to rebel against God, and we obey God to warn them of their sin, it could bring a separation. The father of the prodigal understood the pain of that separation.

If you try to correct out of condemnation and punishment, then your motives are wrong. However, even if you come in love, someone who is angry will not receive you or what you say. Someone who is in pride, stubborn and stiff-necked, will not receive you or what you say. If this happens, know that it is really Christ they are rejecting. Continue to pray, hoping the offended one will see the light of God’s love.

In verses 11-19 we read of the healing of the ten lepers. Ten were healed, but only one returned to Christ. The Law said anyone recovered from leprosy had to show themselves to the priest to be cleared. Only one came back to Jesus to thank Him. He also showed Jesus how his body was clean from leprosy. Maybe that leper didn’t realize it, but he was actually presenting himself to our High Priest, the mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, this reference tells us that the man who returned was returning to give glory to God. It says the man used a loud voice, overjoyed with the miracle. The man also was a foreigner, a Samaritan. Jesus, like a priest, declared the man well from leprosy, saying, “Your faith has made you well.” If Jesus says it, we can believe it, and that should settle it!

1 Samuel 27-29

David’s trust was in God, but he also used natural wisdom. He fled from Saul into a territory where he knew the king would not chase him – into the land of the Philistines. Following after God in the spirit often includes us using natural wisdom, using the mind God gave to us. There are times when God asks us to trust and obey when it doesn’t make intellectual sense, but that doesn’t mean we throw out human knowledge and understanding all together. Some have mistakenly thought that all spiritual wisdom is good and all natural wisdom is bad – even though other Scripture, especially Proverbs, is filled with natural wisdom. God is the creator of our brains, and intelligence is a good gift. We are to use both natural and supernatural wisdom, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to know when to apply natural and spiritual wisdom.

David, though once the young man of 15 years, has grown into a man of war. David is not just a worshipper; but he is also a warrior. He a good example for strong men who love an Almighty God.

In chapter 28, we read that Saul consulted a medium to speak to the dead. It is very clear in the Mosaic Law that people should not try to speak to the dead, because apparently it is possible. For a person to consult the dead, a person has to be dealing with evil spirits and the spirit world. The only time a person should be operating in the spirit is with the Holy Spirit. It is dangerous to open ourselves up to anything not of God. The medium conjures up the spirit of Samuel so Saul can speak with him, and Samuel and Saul have a conversation.

The woman sees Samuel as an old man. Samuel is located in Hades, a holding place before heaven. When Jesus died, he “led captivity captive” and released these old testament believers to heaven. I believe that once in heaven, spirits receive a resurrected body that are young and vibrant.

Samuel mentions Saul’s disobedience with the Amalek, a sin that had unrelenting consequences. Not only did Saul disobey; but Saul also had a heart that was proud and lifted up. God knew Saul’s heart, and that is why God chose David to replace Saul and give the royal bloodline to the son of Jesse. No matter what Saul did, God would require Saul to reap what he sowed. It didn’t matter that Saul was king. It didn’t matter that Saul was strong in the eyes of people. What mattered was the condition of Saul’s heart, which was arrogant and self-sufficient. Samuel prophesied Saul’s defeat to the Philistines and the reign of David over Israel.

It was time for the Lord to remove Saul and replace him with David. Saul’s life had been spent, and now it was David’s time to reign. Today, both men have been dead for thousands of years. This should encourage us to live our lives well because we all have but a short time to live on the earth, then we will pass into eternity. If you have sinned against God with pride in your heart, you can turn that around and fulfill the rest of your life living in surrender to the Lord. The Bible says “humble yourself (James 4:10).” We have that choice and that ability to yield our lives to God. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from unrighteousness. Jesus is our advocate, the one who died in our place, giving us the opportunity to turn around. His mercy doesn’t always mean God will turn around the consequences we have brought on ourselves, but we can live the rest of our lives submitted to Him and live with Him throughout eternity.

Because it is time to replace Saul, God stirs the Philistines to move David out of their territory. In our lives, there might be times when God causes people to act out or a situation to change because the Lord is working His plan. God’s kingdom doesn’t belong to us; we only serve the Lord in it. There have been several times in my life when God moved and it was out of my control. There have been times when I have mourned when people moved out of my life, but a person has to learn to accept change that God either initiates or allows, and continue serving the Lord in faithfulness. There have been times when God has moved us out of a season and into something new, requiring us to leave what was familiar and comfortable. Change isn’t always easy, but our desire should be for the Lord to have His way, whatever that looks like. David was going to be king, and a conflict would be necessary to bring change. I have lived through enough conflicts to know that they often have purpose, shaking what can be shaken, and then bringing increasing with what remains. Through conflict, like David, our aim must be for the Lord to have His way.

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