1 Samuel 23, 1 Corinthians 4, Ezekiel 2, Psalm 38

1 Samuel 23:14-16

Do you spend much time thinking about what God gives and doesn't give?  We know "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).  But do you consider as a "good gift" things God does not give?

Notice in this passage, God did not give David into Saul's hand, but He did give him Jonathan.  When I think of what God didn't give me, my mind runs to items such as a job I wanted or my lack of any musical talent.  Foolish stuff!  But I rarely think of things God didn't give like ungodly parents or a quarrelsome wife. 

Do you have a Jonathan in your life?  Maybe a better question is "Are you a Jonathan in someone else's life?"  While David is running from Saul, Jonathan came and encouraged him to be strong in his faith in God.  The writer of Hebrews says it like this, "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, all the more as you see the Day drawing near." 

In Acts 4:36, a man named Joseph is introduced, but He is never referred to by that name again in Scripture.  We know him as Barnabas, which means son of encouragement.  Can you imagine no longer being referred to you by your given name but as "Son/Daughter of encouragement?"

Father, thank You for being a sovereign, all knowing and good God.  Thank You for providing what I truly need and protecting me from so many detrimental things I never even consider.  Thank You for the Jonathan's in my life; may I be a Barnabas to Your children.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

How should believers regard or see those sent by God to speak His word?  Paul, using the example of himself, Apollos and Peter, says we should consider them servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Reading this passage, I thought of Ezekiel and God's calling him boldly to declare "Thus says the LORD God."  He was to speak God's word knowing many of those to whom he was talking were briers, thorns, and scorpions.  By doing as God instructed, "they will know that a prophet has been among them."

Paul, like Ezekiel, knew stewards of God's Word must be faithful.  It is God alone who would judge His stewards, even though it seems many others will pass judgment.  Uniquely, stewards are to fear God rather than man.  They are not to be concerned about opinions except the Lord's.  In Romans 14:4 Paul describes the situation like this, "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?  It is before his own master that he stands or falls.  And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

Thinking of how other people evaluate God's spokesmen reminds me of God's judgment of Joshua.  In Joshua 24:29-31 at the time of Joshua's death, God described him like this, "Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD...Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua."  What a marvelous "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Lord God, raise up men like Ezekiel, Paul, Apollos, and Peter who will faithfully stand and say "Thus says the LORD God."  Please convict those of us who feel it is our job to judge their efforts to be faithful to Your calling.  If we are briers, thorns or scorpions, break our willful pride of putting ourselves in Your place.  May there be many of Your servants in this day described as "Servants of the Lord who led their people to be faithful."