Jan11WedJanuary 11, 2017
Since we are now two weeks into 2017, I’m curious if you have developed any new habits for Scripture reading and prayer. Are you joining us in the 20x20 challenge – seeking to spend 20 minutes each day in prayer and Scripture (combined) and 20 minutes each month praying with others?
If you are following our Daily Scripture Reading from FMC, you’re walking through 1 Samuel and the Gospel of Luke. (Don’t feel bad if you are using another reading guide. Just get in the Word!) This week, in 1 Samuel 4, we find a story which has profound application for us who wish to grow as disciples of Jesus. I’d like to share with you some of the insight which I gleaned from a disciple-making friend as we read this over breakfast this week.
Here’s the backstory. The nation of Israel was under the leadership of Eli, an old judge. Israel’s southern enemies, the Philistines were beginning to lay siege upon the land and Israel was losing ground. In a desperate attempt to regain the upper hand, the elders of Israel decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle. They had heard stories of how the ark had been used under the leadership of Joshua and so they wished to copy those legendary events. As the ark reached the militia, the Israelite soldiers gave such a mighty shout that the earth shook (1 Samuel 4:5). They believed that they were now untouchable. However, once they reached the battle line, the Philistines quickly overpowered them, won the battle…and took the ark!
You see, the Israelites had turned the Ark of the Covenant into a ‘good-luck charm’ or a ‘god-substitute.’ They assumed that if they approached the battle with this ‘magic box,’ then surely they would have victory of their enemy. What they missed was the opportunity to seek the living Lord whose glory had overshadowed this golden box.
In our day, it might be easy to mock Israel for being so foolish. However, as my friend pointed out, it can be very easy for Christians to make the same mistake.
When we gather for worship or prayer, we are called to seek the living God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Yet because our faith rests upon a God who is unseen, we can easily begin to place our faith in objects or people rather than the living God. How easy is it to begin to worship the feeling that we get when we sing a particular song, or place our faith in a person, a pastor, a spouse or a friend! We can even place our faith in spiritual habits or in book which we call the Bible.
As important as all of those things are, they are not the living God. They are designed to lead us past themselves and towards a God who is strong enough to conquer then enemies of sin, Satan, deceit and death.
When you gather for worship, listen to a sermon, pray with friends or settle down for some quiet time with the Lord, keep your mind attuned to the living God. Focus on the God behind the music, the message and the words. Because the reality is that god-substitutes don’t hold up very well when the battle begins to rage.
Let us learn to seek the Living God knows how to conquer it all. He is the object of our affection and the source of our strength.