PART 25 – GLORY AND THORNS (4/2/20)
'On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.' (1 Samuel 14:4-5)
As I read this account, I was struck by the names of these two cliffs that they had to walk between in order to reach the Philistines.
Bozez and Seneh.
Bozez means “the gleaming one,” and Seneh means “the thorny one.”
If anyone is to do battle for Jesus - to serve Him effectively, we must be prepared to walk the valley that goes between glory and suffering.
Will we pay the price to know God?
Bozez, reminds us of the glory of God. If we are to be courageous for God, it's vital that we know and love God. Knowing God leads to a deep concern for His honour, a deep desire that others know, and faith that will take risks.
Will we walk beside Bozez? Are we seeking God’s glory in our lives?
Jesus sets us the ultimate example as He often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). Daniel would be another example of someone who could have been excused from prayer. He was threatened with death if he prayed and yet he boldly worshipped God. We read,
'Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.' (Daniel 6:10).
There's a cost to walking beside Bozez! It will cost time; you'll have to overcome pressure from family, friends, work, entertainment... legitimate demands must not take priority over what - or who! - is most worthy!
Are we prepared to suffer?
Senah - the thorny one - reminds us of the suffering that we must be prepared to endure, if we are to be available to God.
Jesus has walked the thorny valley for us. He wore the crown of thorns in obedience to the Father and for our salvation. Jesus says to us,
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.” (John 12:24-26)
The path of suffering contains many different forms: perseverance in boredom; forgiving those you want to dislike; giving time to people when you’d rather do something more fun or with people you find it easier to love; giving money away when you’d rather spend it on other things; sharing your faith when you’re not sure of how it will be received…
We walk between two cliffs
The victory comes as we walk beside these two cliffs! Both are vital and should not be avoided. Every move of God in history has always included a fresh embracing of this this valley!
It’s the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence that will enable us to know the glory of God and thus be prepared to suffer for Him. The first Christian martyr, Steven, as he was about to be stoned, we read,
'But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.' (Acts 7:55).
You and I need to see the glory of God if we are to be courageous for Him. To this end, this week we are memorising and meditating on 2 Timothy 1:7.
TIPS ON MEMORISING SCRIPTURE
We will only do this, and persevere in doing this, if we believe that it's truly important to hide God's word in our heart. So get faith!
Don't disqualify yourself if it's hard - it is hard!
Write the text somewhere that's easy to find and use
Include the reference throughout the process
Read it slowly and carefully x 10 (Don't rush or dismiss this accurate repetition)
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time
USE IT! Actively use it to pray, worship, counsel, prophecy, and counter temptation and lies by quoting truth - it’s the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
TIPS ON BIBLICAL MEDITATION
Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. Here are a few tips and questions to help you when meditating:
PRAY - Ask for the Spirit to help you and to speak to you. Keep the goal in mind - having a relationship with God!
WRITING- Writing/journaling is often a great help as you answer the questions below. Remember, don't allow worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, perfection... stop you from writing - it's between you and God.
GOSPEL- What does this text say about salvation through Jesus?
UP- What does this text say about God – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
IN- What does this text say about you, the church and how we are to relate?
OUT- What does this text say about non-believers and our mission?
RESPONSE – Is there anything you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness about, ask God to help you to change…?
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY
Introduction (Please read this intro to the group)
This week, in our devotionals, we have been looking at the account of David and his armour bearer achieving a great victory against all the odds. It's a story that teaches us about Faith, leadership, following and listening to God. The Father has good works for us to achieve together. Allow this story to inspire you to expect God to speak to you, and lead you into His good works.
Please read and discuss 1 Samuel 14:6-7.
'Jonathan said to his young armour-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” “Do all that you have in mind,” his armour-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”'
Jonathan is encouraging his 'young armour-bearer'. Why is it important to mentor younger Christians and are you looking out for people that God wants you to help to train?
According to this text, what can hinder the Lord from saving? (We should take 'saving' as referring the broadest range of categories in which we desire God to change things).
What other texts might you use to encourage someone who was doubting God's abilities?
Perhaps the verse we memorised a few week's ago would help - read Psalm 56:3-4.
What are the kinds of things that cause us to think that God cannot save or act on our behalf?
Is there anything in which you are desiring to see victory?
How does this text encourage us to take more daring action, and into what do you think God might be calling you?
What does 2 Timothy 1:7 say about how the Holy Spirit will help us to act like Jonathan and his armour bearer?
NOTE - Please ensure that everyone knows where to find the devotionals (our blog). Encourage the members of your group to use it and to memorise 2 Timothy 1:7 this week.
Please pray for our Community Group ministry. We need to multiply groups and, therefore, need loads more leaders. Like Jonathan and his armour bearer, more of us need to be prepared to lead. Please pray for the multiplication of this vital area of church-life.
Please look at the church news together.