Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for March 19-27 are provided by Cami King of Journey Community Church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Samuel 28:3-7:
3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. 4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants,“ Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”
One pastor tells of a time, just after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC, when he was unable to contact his son who lived in the city. He describes the anxiety he felt for the few days after the incident when he so desperately needed to hear his son’s voice but couldn’t reach him. Thankfully, his son was OK.
There is a definite anxiety when we can’t get in touch with those we love and depend on. This anxiety is heightened in moments of desperation. Have you ever felt the anxiety of silence when you sought God’s help in a desperate situation? There are countless reasons we may find ourselves asking and not hearing, most of which we won’t discuss today. But from Saul we see the workings of one very dangerous reason.
In today’s episode, the posture of the Lord toward Saul (silence) was in direct response to Saul’s posture toward God (rebellion). God spoke clearly to Saul throughout 1 Samuel and Saul repeatedly went his own way. What we learn of Saul is that he really only sought God for his own ends. And when God said something Saul didn’t want to hear, he ignored God (1 Samuel 15). Saul was not actually seeking the will of God. He was seeking God’s help in accomplishing his own will. And when God refused, Saul tried to get what he wanted through other means (v. 7). Truth be told, God had spoken on this issue through Samuel (who told Saul that his rebellion would lead to his demise). But it wasn’t what Saul wanted to hear, so he chose not to receive it.
Discerning the voice and leading of God is not an easy thing. But we can learn from King Saul what not to do. May we seek God for the purpose of following His will (not using Him to accomplish our own) and may we walk faithfully in accordance with God’s Word when He does speak (and not choose to ignore Him because we don’t like what we hear).
Lord, help me to hear Your voice and to follow You wherever You lead. Help me surrender my own plans to Your plans, trusting that You know what is best. Just as Samuel said to You long ago, “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.” You are worthy of my trust and obedience. Your way is the only way that leads to life.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 26
Lunch Break Study
Read John 6:60-69.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Questions to Consider
- Why did many of Jesus’ followers turn back? (v. 66)
- Why did Simon Peter stay with Jesus even after the difficult teaching? (v. 68)
- What are some “hard sayings” you’ve received from the Lord (commands to follow, teachings from Scripture, etc.)? Have you accepted or rejected them, obeyed or disobeyed? How do these verses challenge and/or encourage you to follow Christ even when it’s tough?
- Many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer followed him because they felt His teachings were too hard to follow. His commands seemed too hard to obey.
- Peter (who spoke for himself and some of the others) knew that even if the teachings and commands Jesus gave were difficult, they were true. He realized that the road Jesus offered them, as narrow as it was, was the only one that would lead to eternal life.
- If we’ve rejected God’s words that are difficult, we should feel challenged to receive them because they are true and life-giving. If we’ve accepted difficult teachings of the Lord, we should feel encouraged because God’s way, even though sometimes tough, will lead us to eternal life. That’s a promise.
Are you seeking direction from the Lord? Spend some time reflecting on your motives for doing so. Do you truly desire to do the will of God (whatever it may be) or are you just seeking God’s help and power in accomplishing your own will? When God does speak to you, are you willing to follow even if it’s not what you want to hear? Reflect on your time in the Word, in prayer and in the community. Has God already spoken to you previously on the matter through one of these means, maybe in ways you didn’t wish to receive? Pray and ask God to help you to hear His voice and to respond with a receptive heart of obedience.