Feeling Helpless?

Feeling helpless is not a very fun place to be.   I'm sure we can all think of a few times when something painful or challenging has come upon us and we had no place to turn but to lift our eyes and voices up to heaven crying out "Why?' or "Help!".   In 1 Samuel 30, David, along with his faithful troop of 600, also found himself facing catastrophe. 

Remember, David had been hiding from Saul and living in the land of the Philistines in a city named Ziklag.   David had temporarily "forgotten" his faith in all of his fear of being tracked down by Saul.  He and his men returned home (to Ziklag) from fighting one day and discovered that the city had been burned down and their loved ones had been taken captive (1 Sam 30:3).   Even David's mighty men had a problem keeping it together with this sight:

Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. (1 Sam 30:4 NKJV)

I can't imagine the helplessness these men felt.  David had even a larger burden to bear.  Had he not led his men out to battle, they would have been able to protect their city and their families from ruin.  David was extremely distressed, however, we see that "David strengthened himself in the LORD his God." (1 Sam 30:6 NKJV).

In the middle of his distress, David sought God for comfort and found it.   Although he had temporarily left his faith behind for awhile, (I say this because had he not, he would have been living with the rest of his people, the Israelites, and not been hiding out from Saul), he still knew that when things got rough, God would be there for Him.   After seeking God for direction (30:8) God directed David and his men to the place where their families were being held captive and saved the day.  David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away.  (30:18)

God proves time and time again that He is in control and that He can deliver us in our time of need.  I wonder, though, how things would have turned out had David not taken the time to strengthen himself in God in his distress.  We need to do the same.  How do we practically find comfort in God in the midst of the trying circumstances of our lives?  How do we strengthen ourselves in Him?

To strengthen ourselves in God is to purposefully remember His goodness, power and strength to accomplish all that He desires for us in our lives.  If we can remember that He is able to overcome any obstacle for us and that He only wishes the best for us, we can be strengthened and encouraged to press on to "fight" another day. 

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.
In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
(Psalm 56:8-11)


Janna Rust is a Life Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.

Make Up Your Own Mind

I know I have said this before, but I really do enjoy reading through the old testament stories and picking out personal life applications from them.  I hope that you, my readers, are enjoying this time through the old testament as well.  The bible, after all is part picture book, isn't it, with the old testament being the "pictures" and the new testament being the words? 

In 1 Samuel 24, we come to the point where David is in the early stages of the cat and mouse game that he and Saul are playing.  Saul is looking for David to kill him, not because David did anything wrong, but because of Saul's insecurities.  David is terrified, even though he is a mighty warrior in his own right, and has "accidentally" found Saul in a cave in a vulnerable position.  (Note:  What was Saul doing in that cave?  See 1 Samuel 24:3.  This got me distracted yesterday and I didn't get my post written.  I sparked some interesting conversation with some friends on this one). 

Okay, back to the story.  David could have killed Saul there on the spot and eliminated a lot of fear from his life.  Even some of David's men advised him to kill Saul.  But David did not and instead chose to merely cut the skirt off of Saul's robe, accomplishing David's purpose of showing loyalty to his king in spite of the fact that Saul desired to kill him.  Look at what David said to Saul:

..."Why do you listen when men say, 'David is bent on harming you?  This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave.  Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, 'I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD's anointed.'"  (1 Sam 24:9-10 NIV)

This passage says a lot to me.  When we have big decisions that need to be made, we should seek wise counsel from godly friends.

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.  Proverbs 11:14)

However, while considering the advice of our counsellors, we still must live with the outcome of our decision.  We ultimately are not answering to anyone else but God.  As we know, David "walked" with and sought after God for all of his life.  He was a man of prayer, seeking after God's ways and not his own.  I believe that David discerned the voice of God over the voice of his men and made the wise choice, even though it was not the popular one.  His men were probably afraid for David as well as for themselves - they were outnumbered after all - and were caught up in the emotion of the situation.

Is there a circumstance in your life where you are laboring with a difficult decision?  Have you taken your problem to God in prayer?  Have you consulted some godly counsel and asked them to seek God for the answer before they open their mouths and give you their answer?  Lastly, are you waiting for God's answer rather than rushing in with your own ideas?  We can hear from God, but it does take time.  Time that we sometimes we aren't willing to give.   Remember, sometimes the stakes are high, and we are the ones who ultimately have to answer to God.

Closer Than A Brother

And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.

And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.

1 Samuel 23:16-17

Once again I find myself drawn to a couple of things - the words we say and the friendships we have.   As I read the above passage, God kept pointing me back to 1 Samuel 23:16 where it tells of how Jonathan strengthened David's hand "in God."  Do you have a friend that will come along beside you when things aren't going so well, take your hand and put it in the "hand" of Jesus?  Are you that kind of friend to someone else?

David needed his friend.  He was running literally for his life from a man whom he'd loyally served in his courts and in battle.  David had done nothing wrong to deserve Saul's wrath except have a heart to do what God told him to do.  Could David help it that God chose him to succeed Saul on the throne rather than Saul's son, Jonathan?  Was it David's fault that Saul repeatedly chose to disobey God by taking matters into his own hands and thus prematurely cost himself the kingdom?  I think not.  Saul was merely jealous of David and to top it all off, Saul's son Jonathan was David's best friend.   Go figure.

Yes, David needed his friend, and despite the potential wrath that Jonathan faced from his father for meeting David, Jonathan came.  More than once he came.  In previous passages we've seen Jonathan  weep with his friend.  In this though, we see Jonathan encouraging David in his faith.  He strengthened David's hand in the Lord.   Remember, that David was no spiritual baby.  Everyone needs to be "picked up" from time to time.  I wonder if David was crying in fear of his life when Jonathan said "Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father will not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel.." (1 Sam 23:17).   I can imagine, upon hearing these words of encouragement combined with the promises of God, David slowly gathering his composure as the tears stopped and his strength returned.  The comfort of a good friend is priceless, isn't it? 

I admire the loyalty of Jonathan.  I admire the availability of Jonathan.  Jonathan was a true friend.  After all, he didn't care that David would take Jonathan's place on the throne as king someday.  He didn't care that his father probably preferred he not be friends with Jonathan.  He was simply following his heart and possibly God's direction in being a support and a friend to a future king.  We all need friends like these.   Are you this kind of friend to someone?  I'm sure there is someone out there that needs you too.

Tribute to Friends

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  (1 Samuel 18:1)

Upon reading this and the following few chapters in 1 Samuel, God kept bringing to my mind the friendship of Jonathan and David.  It was indeed a marvelous friendship, and I do believe that they were definitely soulmates.  So today, rather than give my own thoughts about friendship, I'm going to present some quotes out of John Maxwell's "The Treasure of Being a Friend", given to me by one of my soulmate friends a few years ago.  I hope you are blessed by them and that you are reminded to thank God for the blessings of true friendship God has put into your life.

A Friendship Prayer (from p. 78)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the special gift, one that cannot be bought for any amount of money.
Thank you for a gift wrapped in beauty, that is wonderful in all seasons and times.
Thank you for a gift that is always near in times of need and brings great joy.
Thank you for the gift that sparkles with freshness every day.
Thank you for my friend.
May I never take this gift for granted.


My friends have made the story of my life.  In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation. - Helen Keller.


The happiest business in all the world is that of making friends;

and no investment on the street pays larger dividends,

for life is more than stocks and bonds,

and love than rate percent,

and he who gives in friendship's name shall reap what he has spent.

-  Anne S. Eaton


Dear Lord, I thank you today for the gift of Your friendship to me; for the way you speak to me through your Word, for the way you listen to me when I cry out to You.  You are a true friend.  Thank you for the gift of friendship and for those you have put into my life, old and new, to bring joy into my heart.  May I never take Your precious gifts for granted. Amen.

A Sling, A Stone and A Slap

45 Then David said to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 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. (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

A sling, a stone and a slap from God was all it took for David the shepherd boy to slay the 9 foot tall Goliath.  Incredible isn't it?  Not so incredible though when we consider that the hand of God was involved in this feat.  I love this story (1 Samuel 17) about how God can take an ordinary person with a heart to serve Him and accomplish the extraordinary.  Have you given thought as to the extraordinary thing that God wants you to be a part of?  Maybe you just haven't stumbled upon it yet.

I don't think that David planned on killing a giant that day.  He was just obeying his father by taking food to his brothers when David heard the taunting words of Goliath the Philistine.  I believe that David was a little bit irked upon hearing Goliath's trash talk.  David was upset that Goliath was bad mouthing God's armies.

...for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Sam 17:26)

I believe that David was prompted by his love for God to fight the giant.   However, I also believe that David's biggest opposition in the battle was not Goliath, but the people who were supposedly on his "team".  How sad but true that this is often the case when we seek out to do something for God.  Have you had this happen to you?  If this happens, we can "fight" back, knowing that God is on our side, when we are truly attempting to fulfill God's will in our lives.  Let's look at some principles from this chapter:

1) Our motives might be questioned.  David's motive's were questioned by his own family. (1 Sam 17:28) but we saw that David's motives were pure in that he was just obeying his father by coming to the battle.  If we know that our motives are pure, we don't really have to have the approval of anyone else but God.  God knows our hearts.

2) Our qualifications might be questioned.  David was a nobody - a shepherd boy.  However he was a somebody in God's eyes.  Saul was doubtful that David could accomplish the task (1 Sam 17:33) and made sure that David knew of his doubt.  However, David was quick to draw on his past successes (slaying a lion and a bear - v 35-35) so that his confidence was not brought down by Saul's disbelief.

3) Our methods might be questioned.  David didn't want to fight the giant with traditional armor that he had never used before.  Saul obviously thought that David was ill-equipped with the sling and stone so he gave David his own armor to use.  (v 38-39) What Saul didn't understand - and he'd been struggling with this for awhile - was that God's power was sufficient to get the job done.  David understood fully that the source of his strength was God and was willing to give God all of the credit for his success.

We all know the end of the story, don't we?  David won and Goliath lost his head...literally.  If God is on our side, no one can prevail against us.  Our negative thoughts cannot win.  Others negative thoughts cannot win.  God can and will overcome because after all, He can best prove He is God when we give over complete control to Him.  What is the "Goliath" in your life?  Is it a new ministry opportunity?  A new job opportunity?  A challenge at home?  Remember Who you are to please, remember your past  victories, and remember that God is your chief resource. 

A God Without Limits

Are you feeling overwhelmed by a situation in your life?  We all are in that "boat" from time to time.  I can guarantee you that you would be if you were a newly annointed king whose armies had dwindled down to 600, had no weapons except for those you and your son had, and were surrounded an all sides by your enemies.  Now that would seem to be quite the helpless situation!  Saul found himself there as we are told in 1 Samuel 13:14.  Lucky for him, he had a son who had great faith in our God.

Jonathan, Saul's son, took it upon himself to try and rectify the situation.  Listening in on his conversation with his armor bearer, we hear the following:

Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us.  For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few. (1 Samuel 14:6)

My first thought is that Jonathan is a little off his rocker for going out to take on the Philistines on his own.  However, note the faith that he has in God.  Jonathan knows that God can work wonders and is willing to step leap out of his comfort zone in order that a mighty miracle might take place.  Wow.   I wonder how history would have changed had this young man not taken that leap. 

The events that followed were indeed a miracle.  God allowed Jonathan and his armorbearer to slay 20 men because of their faith and trust in Him.  Jonathan even gave credit where credit was due - to God - when he acknowledged that the "LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel" (1 Samuel 14:12).  God must have messed with the Philistines' minds big time, as they eventually turned on each other and killed each other off because of their confusion as to who they were fighting.

So the LORD saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven. (1 Samuel 14:23)

There are so many miracles in the bible regarding how God delivers His people, that I can't even begin to name them all.  God took one man whose heart was pure and saved a nation.  Are you in a "day" where you need saving?  God can save you.  What initiatives are you putting off in your life because you are afraid?  God can help you overcome your fears.  Remember that there is nothing that God cannot take care of.  When things seem helpless to us, that is where the biggest miracles in our lives can occur.

Equipped By God

Have you ever been thrust into a position of leadership and wondered how on earth you were going to accomplish the task in front of you?  I know I have.  I bet that most people have in one form or another.  Remember that we all lead someone - whether it be in our homes, our jobs, our schools or our churches.  In 1 Samuel 10, Saul found himself in a position of leadership that he did not ask for.   As I mentioned yesterday, Saul had just been walking along minding his own business when he got approached by Samuel who told him the news that he would soon become king.

I wonder what I would do if I was told one day out of the blue that I was "chosen" to be in charge of the metropolitan area in which I live?  That would be a wee bit scary!  I would hope there would be some kind of training to guide me on my way.  With respect to Saul, God provided everything necessary for him to succeed.  Other than being tall and good looking, I'm not sure what other leadership skills that Saul possessed, but I do know that God took care of the rest, as He will also do for us.  Let's take a look at what God gave Saul.

1) A Foundation in God's Word. - Before Samuel anointed Saul, he told Saul that he wanted to show Him the word of God.

And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, ( and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.  (1 Samuel 9:27)

I wonder how long Samuel and Saul talked about the word of God.  The principles in God's word are essential to effective leadership and productive lives.  (2 Tim 3:16)

2) A Change of Heart. - Samuel told Saul that he would be turned into another man by the Spirit of the Lord.  I wonder what exactly that meant in Saul's case.  Perhaps God gave him courage and compassion along with the wisdom and wherewithal to get the "job" done.  Remember, we are all turned into "another man" when we become Christians!  (2 Cor 5:17). 

And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6- Samuel's words to Saul)

And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. (1 Samuel 10:9)

(NOTE: This also reminds me of the New Testament Saul (aka Paul, as the "new man") in Acts 9:17)

3) A Leadership "Team" - It is definitely more fun and more productive to be in leadership if you have a good team of people around you.  We can get more done if we have the support structure of a team.  God provided the same for Saul.  What a great God we serve, huh?  God thinks of everything.  He touched the hearts of some local men to help Saul in his new "job".

And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched. (1 Samuel 10:26)


Can you see how much God provides for us when we accept His plans for us?  I don't know who said this, but a quote I've heard before always sticks in my mind about these principles:

God doesn't always call the equipped but He always equips the called.

Is God calling you to service in a way that you feel unequipped?  God can equip you.  Are you afraid that you will be "going it alone"?  God will provide you with helpers too.  Most importantly, we need to keep praying and  waiting on God's timing before we set out on our own.  When God is ready for us, He will make us ready for Him.

Who Me?

Trekking along through the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, we come to the story of Saul and how he became God's chosen King over the people of Israel who wanted to be like all of the surrounding countries.  They had tired of living under the judges rule and God's "Kingship" but they didn't realize that they already had the best "King"of all time.  As I write this, I wonder what things I'm taking for granted, wishing I had something different, where I already have something good.  What about you?

But I'm not going to write a post about why we thing the grass is always greener in someone else's pasture.  The dye has already been cast in our story in 1 Samuel 10, as Saul, the man head and shoulders above the rest (1 Samuel 9:22, 10:23) had been chosen by God to be the first king of Israel.  God did it up right and gave the people exactly what they wanted - a good looking king.  I wonder if the people even cared about character?  That is a study for another day. 

Do you wonder what Saul thought as he was being asked by Samuel to be king?  Saul didn't think he was anything special.  Remember that Saul was just walking along one day looking for his lost donkeys when he crossed paths with the prophet Samuel.  (1 Sam 9:16)  He wasn't looking for more responsibility.  Look at Saul's first response to Samuel:

1 Samuel 9:21 And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?  wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

Remember, Saul was just looking for his donkeys, not an inheritance of a country. However, God had other plans for his life and had already told Samuel all about it.  Isn't it funny how God works in the people and circumstances around us while we are not even aware of what is going on?  God's sovereignty, his control over every detail in the world, never ceases to amaze me.

Life took Saul by surprise.  Tomorrow I'll post about how God equipped Saul to serve him.  But for today, I'd like you to ponder the following questions: 

1) Am I paying attention to God's work in my life and the world around me?

2) Am I like Samuel, trusting in God's word to me to do something more for His Kingdom? (Samuel trusted the prophecy of God to bring Saul to him)

3) Am I like Saul, willing to take a big leap of faith for God and attempt something for Him that I don't think I'm capable of?

God is not a Magic Charm

If I pray today, God will be with me.  If I read my bible today, God will protect me.  If I take my bible with me in the car, I will really be spiritual and God will really smile on my day!  :)   I'm sure with just reading these statements, you have no idea where I am going with this.  However, I do have a point to make.  Yes, prayer and bible reading are great things to be doing and you know that I am a huge proponent of both.  However, as always, our motives for doing such must be pure in order for our methods to prove fruitful.  Our motives must be ones of seeking God for the sake of knowing Him and for becoming more like Him each day.  We must be truly desiring what God wants for us rather than using good things to achieve our own ends.

We are no different really from the Israelites so many years ago back in Samuel's day as we seek the quick fix for success.  In 1 Samuel 4, we once again find the children of Israel in a state of panic.  They had not been faithful to God, and those nasty Philistines had once again picked a fight with them.  Israel was scared and realized that they had a "good luck charm" with which to fight:

1 Samuel 4:3 And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies."

Is anyone else having Raiders of the Lost Ark flashbacks?  What were the Israelites trusting in?  Superstition?  Their hearts were not right.  I didn't see that they prayed to God for guidance in this matter.  They merely wanted a victory the easiest way they could get one...through the power of God inside the Ark.  But God saw through them, didn't He?  God allowed the Philistines to defeat them anyway like He did before  because their hearts were not pure.  As this post is named, God is not a magic charm.

What is my "magic charm"?  More bible knowledge without application?  More ministry for justification?  Do you have a "charm"?  Sometimes I wonder if I haven't fallen into this trap while avoiding what God truly wants for me.  My obedience in all areas of life.  Following God with a pure heart takes work, doesn't it?