Back Handsprings

1 Samuel 16:1-4 – “And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem.”

My daughter is trying to learn to do a standing back handspring. She almost has it, but she just needs to have the confidence in herself to get the task done. Yesterday, I took her to a private lesson to help her overcome. The coach was great. He encouraged her. He instructed her. He led her through a series of exercises to warm up. Yet at the end of the session, she still didn’t have the confidence to do the back handspring. It is hard seeing your child face these challenges. But I know, this is more than just learning to do a back handspring. This is about life. This is about believing in yourself. This is about trusting what you know. 

Samuel was faced with a difficult task. God had told him to go and anoint another king while one was still on the throne. Now then, put yourself in Samuel’s sandals for just a moment. Samuel was watching the one that God had chosen to be the first king in Israel fail. Saul was walking away from God and His statutes at an alarming rate. Samuel was sad. He was hurt. God said to Samuel, “Enough with the mourning. Get yourself up and go anoint the new king.” And Samuel responded just like I would, “But God, Saul could kill me for this!” Yet, does God coddle Samuel and act like the warm, squishy God that society today makes him out to be? Nope. God offers no words of encouragement, no sentiments of comfort – God says, “Take your heifer and go do what I told you to do.” Now, to us, that may seem harsh and unkind. But you know what, sometimes we have to face reality and get out of our pity party and do what God has called us to do. 

God didn’t need to tell Samuel that He would protect him. God didn’t need to tell Samuel that everything would be okay. No, Samuel already knew that. Samuel had experiences in his life to remind him that God was already at the end of the situation. Samuel had the knowledge that God had already seen this thing through and knew how it would turn out. All Samuel had to do was follow it through, do what he knew to do. 

My daughter knows how to do a back handspring. She has been spotted while completing a beautiful back handspring so many times that I have lost count. She has the knowledge. She has the experience. Now all she has to do is follow through and do what she knows to do. 

I know that very soon she will stand up and flip right over safely and beautifully. But until then, I just have to support and encourage her. That is my job. That is my part. It is my turn to be the cheerleader for my cheerleader. 

This week, you may or may not face something of extreme difficulty in your life, but you might know someone who is. Either way, remember, use your experiences to apply what you know. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Don’t be afraid to face the new and difficult challenges. Sometimes you just have to pull up your pants and get the job done. 

Fight your Goliath

1 Samuel 17:47 – “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.”

Oh, the beloved story of David and Goliath. We love to tell this story of bravery and faith to those who are facing insurmountable trials and tribulations. But what about those of us not facing anything major but rather just our day to day trials?

The story is still applicable. 

But here is what I want to focus on today – why are you trusting God in these situations? 

David could see the fear in the eyes of those Israelites around him. They were scared of Goliath. They were scared that they would soon become slaves to the Philistines. They couldn’t muster the courage to face this 9 foot man who continually bashed God right to their face. They needed to rally behind God. They needed to remember that He doesn’t need a sword to win the battle. David had lived it. He had seen God’s hand at work in his life over and over again and he knew that anyone defying God was as good as dead. 

So facing Goliath was just another day as a shepherd in David’s eyes. Lion, bear, giant – no need to fret – God’s got this. 

But everyone else didn’t have it. They needed a reminder. 

What if the trials and tribulations that you are facing today are to encourage someone else? Now, I’m not saying that you don’t have something to learn as well but maybe in the bigger picture, someone needs to see you leaning on God and trusting Him today. You know that “the battle is the LORD’s” but someone else needs to see it. Someone else needs to learn that lesson. Someone else needs to be encouraged by seeing you walk through the valley straight to the other side. 

In our society, it’s a “it’s my world and you’re just living in it” kind of attitude. We try to block out the effects that we have on other people. But we can’t. We have to embrace the fact that our life, our choices, our actions effect other people.

And that’s ok. God has put us with people for a reason – and it is not our perogitive to decide how we are going to effect them.  We just need to keep doing what we know is good and true and right and let God deal with the rest of it. 

David knew what needed to be done. He wasn’t looking to make a name for himself. He was looking to do what was right. He knew the people needed to be reminded that God was in control. And he was ready to give that control back to its Owner. 

How about you? Are you ready to give up that control and let God do His thing? Are you ready to face your Goliath not for your own honor and glory but for His? Are you ready to let God show His power in and through your situations? 

Like everyone elseĀ 

 1 Samuel 12:20-22,24 – “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.”

A lot of verses, I know – sorry. But I felt like they were needed. 

The people of Israel had been begging for a king. They wanted to be like everyone else. They wanted a ruler they could see and touch. God had been their king but to those around them, it was weird. And they didn’t want to be weird. They wanted to be like everyone else. 

Sound familiar? Aren’t we, even as adults, the same way from time to time? We want to have similar stuff as they people around us. We want to look like the person on the magazine or in the movies. We want to know the latest trend in whatever we are interested in so that we can pursue it. We are just like the children of Israel except thousands of years in the future. 

God gave them what they wanted. However, it wasn’t without warning. He gave them all the negatives of what they were asking and they still wanted what everyone had – a king. In this passage, Samuel has just pointed out to the children of Israel, again, that this request was a sin. And they were mournful of their decision. But Samuel reminded them that was is done, is done. Now, you have to put on your big boy pants, suck it up and do what God has told you to do – follow Him and worship and serve Him only. Of course, this is me paraphrasing big time! 

But nonetheless, when we mess up and God gives us what we ask for and we finally see the error of our ways…well, what else is left to do but deal with the consequences and change our choices in the future based on what we have learned today. That’s what God is telling them to do here. You can’t change the past but you can make better choices in the future. 

And like any caught child, the people are ready to follow God wholeheartedly. They are ready to follow God and king into the future. Unfortunately, some kings will lead the people astray. But there will be others to bring them back. God always provides a way back – sometimes we just have to look for it. 

So today, remember that you don’t have to be like everyone else. God has given you exactly what you need for this moment. But if you do get what you ask for and you find that it wasn’t exactly what you expected, learn your lesson and move on by following after what God was leading you to in the first place. Choose Him over what you think you want. It may be a hard choice but it is right path to follow. 

My Apple

I Samuel 16:7 – “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

I love apples. I have one almost every day. I don’t like mushy apples. I like ones that are beautiful and crisp.

The other day, I bought some apples at the grocery store that looked beautiful. They were large, red and firm. However, when I sliced into it, the inside was slightly brown and it wasn’t as firm as I had thought. I had been deceived by the apple.

Have you ever met someone who appeared to be a “Christian” on the outside but when you got to know them, their thoughts and actions were nothing but yuck? I think we have all come across someone like this from time to time.

Hypocrites. They say and act one way around one person or group and then act in a totally opposite manner when they are around someone else. They are like chameleons – changing with their environment.

I don’t want to be someone like that. I want to be true and genuine and honest. I want to be the person that is the same no matter where I am or what circumstance I am in.

You see, we may be able to fool the people around us, but we cannot fool God. He sees our heart. He knows the motivation behind our actions. On the outside, we may look like the ideal example of a follower of Christ. But just as my apple was brown on the inside, our heart and thoughts and motivations can be tainted with sin.

So let me encourage you this week to guard your inside. Ask God to show you your brown spots and let Him cut them out and clean you up. Let God make you genuine and truthful and honest so that you accurately demonstrate Him in all that you do.


1 Samuel 1:9-18 – “So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.”

Yes, I know, a lot of verses this morning. But let me tell you why. I couldn’t snatch and grab verses out of this section. 

I have been listening to the Bible through a Bible app every morning on the way to work. I double up on Friday and Monday. And the last couple of days, I have been going through a couple of my favorite Old Testament books – Ruth and 1 Samuel. As I was listening to the story of Hannah, my heart was moved. 

This poor woman was married. Her husband had another wife besides her. (Not sure that I could handle something like that.)   His other wife bore him several children, but he loved Hannah more than he loved his other wife. Hannah desperately wanted a child, especially a male child. So as the time had come to go up for the yearly sacrifices, Hannah went in to pray. She was laying her heart out to God when the priest saw her praying. Hannah was praying in her heart. She was having a one on one with the Almighty and He was listening. She was laying her burdens out before Him. And she left them there. How do I know that? “…her countenance was no more sad.” 

Burdens are a terribly heavy thing. They weigh you down. They destroy your good mood. They cause wrinkles! Ain’t nobody got time for that! But we have the God who cares about all our deepest concerns, all our deepest woes, all our deepest fears. He wants us to take the time and have a one on one with the Almighty, just like Hannah did. Pour your heart out to Him. Do it while you are driving. Do it while you are showering. Do it over a cup of coffee on the back porch. It doesn’t matter when or where or how you do it, just do it! 

And when you are all done, your spirits will be lifted, if you truly left them with Him. If not, maybe you should rethink some things. We were not made to carry around the weight of the world. We were made to trust the Creator of the world.