Tag Archive: Saul


New Beginnings (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Laura Rath

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished…”

The courage of Peter.

Peter, who denied knowing Jesus three times before his death, now can’t stop himself from standing in front of the elders and rulers proclaiming that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ. Oh, and by the way guys, you remember Jesus, right? He’s the man from Nazareth, whom you crucified!

So, what’s changed in Peter? How do you go from fearing for your life to boldly confronting the very men who put Jesus to death?

Peter is no longer acting on his own. Jesus had commanded him to wait with the other apostles, for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. And when filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter was a new man—a courageous man who wasn’t afraid to speak boldly of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus knew what Peter was capable of on his own, but even better, He knew what Peter would do through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows us too—what we try to do on our own, but even better, what we can do through His power and strength.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron

Twice in this chapter Peter stands up fearlessly to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus.  This is the same Peter, you may recall, that swore up and down that he did not know him when Jesus was on trial. Now he defies even the religious authority of his day to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. What gives? The Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives confidence. He gives words and persuasive arguments. He gives inspiration and courage. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and it was Peter, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, who addressed the crowd. The next time we read about the Holy Spirit filling Peter is when he is before the High Priest and his family. This would be like the royal family in the religious world of the Jews. After healing a lame man Peter and John are hauled off to prison. The next day they are in court. The writer of Acts makes sure that we know Peter and John are just ordinary people and not very well-educated. Yet, Peter gives the speech of his life—no really, he probably saved his and John’s life that day. Actually, it was not Peter, but the Holy Spirit who inspired him and gave him the words.

It is the same Holy Spirit today as it was back then. I know this from personal experience—every time I give a message. I know it is the Holy Spirit who is using me, and I really cannot take any credit. If you think about it, you know the activity of the Holy Spirit in your life, as well. Have you ever been with a friend who was hurting deeply, with no idea what to say, and then the words just came? That would be the Holy Spirit. Have you ever said nothing and just listened? That would be the Holy Spirit. He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow, just as the Father and the Son.

Perspective 3- Barb Miles

In this chapter, we read where Jesus returned to earth to teach the disciples to be his witnesses.  After Jesus’ suffering and resurrection he returned to earth for forty days before he ascended into heaven.  He spoke numerous times to the apostles he had chosen and taught them the Kingdom of God was for whomever believed.  Jesus prepared the apostles for going out to profess their faith in the one true Lord and to perform miracles.  There were situations through this time that caused tribulation and celebration.   Stephen and Saul were both apostles who came to share God’s word but one was stoned to death for his witness and one was allowed to witness after first loosing his eyesight.

This story is truly amazing to me.  With this small group of followers before Jesus’ persecution that heard Jesus say that he would fulfill the Old Testament prophesy, that he would be arrested, killed and in three days rise, we celebrate the glories of Easter.  Jesus returned to earth to empower the apostles to teach and witness!  Jesus did not give up on them!  Jesus has not given up on anyone.

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

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From Shepherd to King (4 Perspectives)

Perspective 1- Barb Miles

David constantly reached out to God in prayer when he was fearful and needed direction and help.  And David also thanked God for being his deliverer, always giving thanks to God for hearing his prayers.  This is a good lesson for me.  My take away for this chapter is to always pray for direction and to always give thanks.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron

Sometimes the egos of the characters in the Bible are as fragile as that of the stars in Hollywood! Saul is the king anointed by God to lead his people. God has blessed him during his reign. He even provides him with David. Yes, David will be the next king, but he has intense loyalty to Saul. One would think, what a wonderful blessing to have this naturally gifted warrior by my side! David did so well that the people sang about him:

“Saul has slain his thousands,and David his tens of thousands.”

This can be taken one of two ways. Either, Saul has done a great job mentoring the boy and can celebrate his success, or he can see him as a threat…Saul chose the latter. How sad. Can you imagine what a powerhouse the two of them would have been? Saul on his way out, but David being chosen by God and groomed by Saul. But Saul’s ego would have none of that. David was a threat and the fact that Saul’s son was David’s best friend was just salt in this open wound. What a missed opportunity. What pain and agony was put upon so many…in part, at least, because of an ego.

We all have an ego and it is necessary to have a positive self-image. We can get into all kinds of trouble if we have too negative of a self-image of ourselves. Like all things though, if left unchecked it can get us into a lot trouble. How many times have you failed to celebrate with another person’s success because somehow you saw that as a poor reflection on you? How much more productive would your place of business be if egos were removed and everyone celebrated everyone else’s success?  What if sibling rivalry was removed from your home? What would happen if we put our egos aside?

It reminds me of this passage in Philippians 2:5-8

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Perspective 3- Diane Schmidt

I just love the example of David as he demonstrated his faith in the living God; how he loved and trusted him in all things. Right from the beginning of this chapter David demonstrates his faith in God. He questions the army when they allow Goliath to “defy the living God.” (pg. 148) He convinces Saul that he can slay this enemy because “the Lord…will rescue me from this Philistine.” (p 148-149) He gives credit to God and shows great trust when he says, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (p 149) As Saul pursues David, he once again turns to God for deliverance. At the encounter in the cave, David could have slain Saul but he didn’t. Why? I think it’s because he knew it would not be pleasing to God. David was taught God’s laws and knew that God’s story was bigger than his own. David knew that God had a plan for him and even if he couldn’t see the magnitude of the Upper Story he still trusted God. Throughout this chapter we see David’s trusting faith and God’s blessings, and the strength and courage he gave David. David gives us some great images of who God is: my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my refuge, my shield, my horn of salvation, my stronghold, my savior! What great words and images that we can hold on to when we are surrounded by a world of doubt, struggle, fear, unbelievers, death and destruction. To be comforted and strengthened by a God who is so personal that he cares about my daily life and yet so big he can fight and defeat my biggest enemies, just like he did for David.

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

David- He has a “Great Personality”

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

“They have a great personality.” What does that usually mean? When you are trying to get a friend to go out on a blind date and you open with those words, what does it mean? This has often been the joke amongst people to say that they are not the best looking, but they should really like who they are anyways. It is a heartfelt way of saying do not judge them based on looks but based on their heart.

Is this really the way that God is describing David? Don’t look at his appearance or stature or really anything about his outer appearance but instead look at his personality. Is David an odd-looking man? Or is there something else going on?

We have a tendency to judge people based on their outward appearance. We will decide whether we will talk to someone or even enter into conversation with someone based on their looks. It looks like that’s the way things have been for thousands of years. God identifies it when he says, “people look on the outward appearance…”

Have you allowed outward appearance to be a stumbling block in getting to know someone? Have you ever found out that your judgment was wrong? 

I think it is interesting to see the big difference between the picking of Saul and David. Saul was the guy who was at least a head taller than everyone else. He was the strong, tall and handsome guy that everyone knew. And for a while he was a good choice as king over Israel. He quickly dropped off the charts when he was arrogant enough to make moves without God’s direction.

God knew that the decision for the next king had to based more on the heart, character, etc. God says I am not after any of that outward junk anymore, its time to base my decision based on substance. There is a stark contrast to the first two Israelite kings.

So if God is looking at the heart then what did David have in his that was desirable for service?

David is a humble shepherd boy with a quiet confidence in what has been given to him. He is growing up in an age when knowing God and following his ways are unimportant. But, he has been raised in a household that it has been made important. We see a culmination of all of this when he goes to the place where the Israelites are in a battle with the Philistines. He is not a full-time enlisted member of the army, but he stands up when the Philistines are insulting the God of Israel. He was willing to fight a giant of a man because it was a matter of principle.

Did he have that confidence because he was anointed or was it simply he was the man God made him to be? God prepared David to be the man he wanted him to be, even before he was ever made king. David was not perfect, even if he was called the man after God’s own heart. He was perfect for the job because God saw and used a willing heart. We don’t have to be perfect to be chosen by God. We need a heart that is open and ready for the opportunities that God places in front of us.

We may not be the best looking people but we can have a “great personality” ready to be used by God.

What is God currently preparing you for? Have your eyes been open to the multitude of possibilities?

Standing Tall, Falling Hard (4 Persepctives)

Perspective 1- Barb Miles

Samuel, who was already a gift from God to Hannah was taken to Shiloh after he was weaned to be a prophet of the Lord.  Samuel is one of the few leaders of the Lord that consistently led the people by God’s word, not being influenced by others or leading for his own needs.

The first example of this came soon after Samuel had been taken to the temple.  Eli’s eyes had become weak but Eli heard the Lord call Samuel.  Three times Samuel went to Eli thinking Eli was calling him.  After the third time, Eli realized the Lord was calling for Samuel.  After the Lord spoke to Samuel he learned that Eli’s family would be judged according to the sins they had committed.  When Eli woke and asked Samuel to tell him what the Lord spoke about, Samuel did not withhold anything from his conversation with God.  Wouldn’t that be hard, to share a condemning message from God?

Again, when the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, the Israelites decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant of God back.  Through another attack the Philistines captured the ark and set it beside their false gods.  Because God did not want to be mocked, He caused the false God to crumble.  Through this Samuel insisted the Israelites return to the one true God.

When the Israelites told Samuel his sons were not following his ways, they asked for a king.  Samuel told God of this request and God told them to give them a King, Him.  Samuel followed His word and sent everyone back to their homes.  In the meantime, a man named Saul was looking with a servant for his fathers donkeys.  After no success he wanted to return home, but his servant suggested they go see a man of God.  The Lord had already revealed to Samuel that a man would be coming that would be anointed ruler of the people of Israel.

Next, Saul attacked the Philistines, and after not surviving the attack his army started to scatter.  When Samuel arrived and saw Saul and his army were in fear, Samuel admonished Saul.  Samuel commanded Saul to attack the Amalekites by putting all their people to death, including all animals. Saul saved some of the strongest animals and destroyed the weakest. Saul did not follow God’s command.  Time and again, Samuel carried out God’s messages, but the Israelites always failed to follow God.

Samuel always followed Gods commands.  Samuel was clear each time God told him what to do or what would be happening.   If God’s message is so clear, why do we question it?  Samuel didn’t.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron

I guess cruel people have been around since the fall into sin or at least since the time of Hannah.  Much is going on in chapter 10 of “The Story,” but on the first page, the second paragraph we have incredible cruelty. “Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.  This went on year after year.  Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.”  Are you kidding me?  Here is a woman who desperately wants to have children and is unable to.  The personal anguish, the disappointment month after month, and now to have someone rubbing your nose in it!!  Let’s not forget this is not a one-time event, but year after year.  I cannot think of anything more cruel.  What kind person was this Peninnah?

I suppose Peninnah is like so many people today that for one reason or another prey upon other people’s vulnerable spots. The more I thought about the recording of the cruelty, which could easily be missed, the more impressed I was with Hannah.  Year after year she puts up with not having a child and the cruel words of Peninnah and yet she keeps coming back to the Lord.  It seems the more she suffers, the more pain she is in, the more Peninnah provokes her, the more fervently she prays.  This is a woman of incredible faith…and honor.  She makes a vow to God that if he gives her a son she will dedicate his life in service to God…Then she follows through with her promise.  She could have easily kept the boy for herself and not told anyone about the promise.  But, she is a woman of faith and integrity.

In a sense, God used Peninnah’s cruelty to highlight Hannah’s faithfulness.  I wonder how often something similar to that happens today and we miss it.

Perspective 3- Dan Petrak

Perspective 4- Kelsey Rath

While reading chapter 10 in the story, the line that said God changed Saul’s heart really made me think. Some of you may have thought oh, well yeah, God changed his heart, whatever. But what if that was you, where you had God come into your life and change your heart. Or maybe you’re Saul right now. You are still waiting or hoping God will come and change your heart. So take a moment and think….. Has God changed your heart?

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