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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Is Personal Vengeance Really That Bad?
God avenges justly even when we don’t understand.   ~~~   In this unfolding story of 1 Samuel 24, we are given two big comforts that should lead us to trust God’s path, even though it may be treacherous at times, even if we don’t understand it. The first comfort is that god avenges justly. We learn this truth from David’s speech to Saul as Saul is leaving the cave. David rushes after Saul, perhaps keeping a spear’s throw distance away from Saul, calls out to him and then bows down. This is an immense act of humility on David’s part. In fact, it is a sign to us of repentance. He had initially sought to humiliate Saul and give a warning shot to him that he was about to rip the kingdom away from Saul. That was the message behind the cutting off the corner of the robe. But David had been convicted. He had realized that the test before him was whether or not he would seek personal vengeance on Saul, or would he humbly allow God to avenge him. David realized that his actions would not have been an act of faith but an act of personal retribution, and the LORD stopped him in his tracks, and David was humbled. How about you? How humble are you when an opportunity for personal vengeance slips into your hands? How much vengeance do you have brewing in your heart right now towards someone else who has done you wrong? How much justice do you think you could bring, and deserve to bring on someone in your life? A father who abandoned you? An ex who cheated on you? If you were David in this situation, would you be bowing down in humility, or would you be pouting in the cave, frustrated with God, and telling God all the reasons why He should let you continue down the path you started on? How long would the conversation be? How long would you sit and sulk, and convince yourself that you were right and God was mistaken?
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Mar 01, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Is That Open Door Meant For You To Walk Through?
We must trust God’s way of accomplishing His will without our help.   ~~~   Well, this move on David’s part is really quite symbolic and shocking. The robe of the king signified his power and majesty. So to cut off a piece of the robe was to symbolically declare that you had intentions of cutting off the power and majesty of the king. Do you remember when Samuel told Saul that the kingdom would be torn from him? What happened next? Saul reached out and grabbed Samuel’s robe, tearing it. And Samuel said, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.” Basically, David, by this act of cutting off the corner of Saul’s robe, was declaring that a transfer of power is taking place from the house of Saul to the house of David. He was declaring that he would tear the kingdom away from Saul and seize it for himself. But as we read in 24:5 that there is instant sorrow and regret in David’s heart and mind. There is immediate conviction. We see him go to his fighting men and begin to explain to them why he cannot carry through with fulfillment of the symbolic action. He quickly realized the danger he was in and the company he was joining if he followed through with this brash reaction to Saul moseying into the cave. But what danger could David possibly be in? Perhaps David remembered Miriam and Aaron, who lifted their voice in defiance against the Lord’s appointed leader, Moses, and how they were then struck with leprosy. Or maybe he brought to mind Korah and a few other men who rose up against Moses, the LORD’s chosen prophet, in defiance and revenge, only to suffer the ground beneath them splitting apart and swallowing them up. You see, it had been written long before, in Exodus 22:28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” And yet, that is exactly the path David was heading down, and he quickly realized it, and repented of it. His men were not as quick to understand or believe David. His men still thought it was providential that God had led Saul to them in this way. In fact, the text tells us that David had to “rebuke” his men, and had to keep them from attacking Saul. Never forget, sometimes what looks like an open door to walk through is really a test of obedience and discernment. Will you take the shortcut, or will you trust the LORD completely? The end does not always justify the means. There are no shortcuts to holiness And that is really the message from the text today. We must trust God’s way of accomplishing a matter. Trusting God’s way is just as important as trusting the end result of His will. He needs not our help in accomplishing His will. Even when it looks like His will will never pan out or come to fruition, we are still called to trust His way and walk in obedience to His word.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 29, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

A Quick Potty Break
Sometimes an open door isn’t opened by God.   ~~~   Last week we observed where Jonathan reminded David of God’s promise to David that God would make Him king. That chapter ended with Saul being forced to stop his hunt for David and face the Philistines because they were raiding the land. But now, finally, it looks like Saul will get what is coming to him. Finally the tables have turned and David now has the upper hand. I mean, what are the chances that Saul would choose the same cave that David was hiding in, along with his men, and that Saul would enter the cave, not with an entourage, a torch and a spear or sword, but comes in for a quick potty break and makes himself completely vulnerable? This seems to be the text book, “open door” situation that we often pray for, and that it seems God intends David to walk through! Finally God’s people will be rescued from a crazed, tyrannical king! The kingdom of God will be ruled by a righteous man! The army of God will be led by a military hero! Enemies Beware! Let the people rejoice! So at the end of verse 4 in chapter 24, we see David sneak up behind Saul, maybe duckwalking his way there, in the darkness. He reaches for Saul’s robe, grabs his pocket knife, and quietly slices off a piece of the robe. Wait, what? Slice off a corner of his robe? What is this? Why not send a shank right through him like Ehud did Eglon? Doesn’t the end justify the means? Come back tomorrow to hear the rest of the story.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 28, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Machiavelli, The Prince, And David
It is all too easy to justify dishonesty by saying it will lead to something good.   ~~~   “The end justifies the means.” How many of you are familiar with that phrase. The statement declares that if the end goal is valuable enough, worthy enough, then any means, any avenue, any scheme or strategy it takes to achieve that goal, is justified—whether it be right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or cruel. The end justifies the means. For example—How many of you have been to a revival, crusade of some sort…perhaps it was a youth conference, and at the end of the sermon the preacher said something like, “I want everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. No one looking around but me. If you want to give your life to Jesus, raise your hand. Look at that, hands go up all around the room.” But while he is saying that, you happen to open your eyes, and you see that only a couple of people have raised their hands. Why would the preacher say, “Hands go up all over the room”? Because in his mind, the goal of getting someone saved justifies the means of making people think that many people were coming to Christ, so they should as well.” The idea of the phrase “the end justifies the means” is accredited to Machiavelli, an Italian diplomat and philosopher of the 15th-16th centuries, in his book The Prince. There Machiavelli wrote, “It is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them…let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody;” (Chapter 18, The Prince). I don’t think it would take very long for any of us to recount a time or two where we justified dishonesty, sinfulness, because we thought it would lead to a noble, even godly purpose and place. And we wouldn’t be the first generation. But if you want to see what any of this has to do with David and King Saul, you have to return tomorrow.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 27, 2024
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Day by Day Hacks

Day By Day Hacks
We should be faithful to pray specifically for individual missionaries serving across the world.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 26, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Ministry Of Friendship: Pledge Your Commitment
We should be committed to gathering with our fellow believers.   ~~~   David’s misery and fear needed the company of someone who knew God’s word. David needed the fellowship, the brotherhood of someone devoted to God and His word. Which situation are you in this morning? Are you in the position of being a Jonathan? Is there a Christian sister or brother that you know is growing tired…weak…discouraged? Go to them. Or maybe you are that Christian who is in the position of David. You have followed the LORD, yet pieces of life still seem to crumble, and it makes you want to close up shop or give in. You just want to quit trying. Don’t neglect the gathering of the saints. The fellowship of the brotherhood is a means of your own endurance and perseverance.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 23, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Ministry Of Friendship: Point To Promises
We should point our friends to God’s promises when they are struggling.   ~~~   We not only see Jonathan being present with David in his time of crisis, but Jonathan POINTS DAVID TO PROMISES OF GOD. vs. 17 “…and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father knows this.” Being present with a brother or sister in the midst of a struggle is good. It is needful. But it cannot end there. The purpose of Jonathan’s visit and fellowship was not to wallow in misery or fear with David. That is a form of empathy. Empathy feels what the other person feels. Empathy tries to put yourself in their shoes. But our ministry to one another cannot end there. Empathy sees a brother and sister in the middle of the marsh of despondency and jumps in there with them, saying, “Yeah, this really is miserable. I see what you mean.” Jonathan does not do that. He goes to David, and then strengthens David. Get that image in your head. Jonathan made David’s grip on God stronger. How did he do that? He pointed David to the promise God made to Him. “David, God anointed you with His Spirit by His prophet Samuel. You will be the King of Israel. And if you will be the king of Israel, then you will not be killed by my father before that time. Take heart. Do not fear!” Jonathan gave him a command (Do not fear) and then the basis of the command was rooted in God’s promise. Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 22, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Ministry Of Friendship: Be Present
We should be willing to step out of our comfort zone and be present for the people in our lives.   ~~~   1 Samuel 23:16 “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David…” Jonathan goes to David, even though David is in hiding, and even at great risk of Jonathan’s own life. The encouragement of a fellow brother or sister who is pensive, or depressed, is worth a risk! Jonathan initiates. He doesn’t wait for a letter or request from David. He is not waiting by the phone saying, “If he needs me, and asks, I will go to him.” NO! He takes initiative. He moves. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in a time of trouble… God is in the midst of her.” He is here, present with us. This is one of the distinguishing features of the true and Biblical God, that He is immanent and close to His people. He is not a far-off God who has no concern or care for his creation or people. The God-man entered His creation. Jesus left behind the glory and splendors in heaven, he humbled himself to come to us. He arose from his throne and came to us. And so too we should be able to say about God’s people, that they are close and with us, a very present help in a time of trouble. Sometimes the providence and grace of God includes the presence of other believers in order to help us persevere and endure. Are you there, present for people? Are you willing to push things off of your busy schedule in order to be there for your faith family? What are you willing to risk in order to be there for your people? It can definitely push us out of our comfort zones, but look at what is at stake. You may be helping your brother or sister from being crushed under the weight of fear, the cloud of confusion. Your presence is comforting and useful. Just like a newborn baby needs the physical presence of her mother, so too does the believer need the presence and warmth of Christ that is often felt in Christian fellowship.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 21, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Man On The Run
The ways and providences of God are innumerable.   ~~~   Can you imagine the emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical strain and pressure, perhaps even exhaustion that David was feeling throughout this narrative? Let’s just consider the physical. He has just fought a battle with the Philistines in 1 Samuel 23. Don’t overlook that. Running, jumping, swinging swords, stabbing, chopping. We cannot even begin to imagine the adrenal and physical toll that took on a body. But don’t stop there. Think about the mental and emotional aspects as well. The fear, the uncertainty, experiencing war AGAIN. Leading men into battle and losing brothers and friends in battle. The brutality and horror of it all. And then under all of that, the foundation, is David’s spiritual life. He, who had the Spirit of God, who was hearing from God, had to be on the run from a maniacal king who was devoid of the Spirit of God. As we read these stories and turn these pages, we are not meant to forget, or to push to the side any of these things. David was not superhuman. He was a human, a man, just like the rest of us. So 1 Samuel 23:15 says, “David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life.” Here we go again. Another chase. “Will I escape this time? How much longer LORD? I can’t take this any more.” We know this was, at times anyway, how David felt because we have the Psalms. Psalm 55 says: “Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.” We know this is not the last time something like this happens. In fact, the back half of 1 Samuel 23 is another story of more of David’s fellow Israelites turning on him, wanting to appease Saul and avoid Saul’s savageness. The Ziphites run to Saul saying, “We know where David is and we can put you on his trail” I don’t think any of us can quite relate at the exact level of David, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know what it’s like to be tired from fighting the enemy; to be confused as to what exactly is going on in this life, when you are trying seeking the LORD and face nothing but battle after battle. To doubt, to be afraid, to want to give up. So what happens here is of immense importance to us. This is not David’s first foray into being chased, neither will it be his last. And the common theme that we have seen throughout this story is the providence of God directing, protecting, providing for His future king. The ways and providences of God are innumerable, and we will witness another on in this text, but you have to come back tomorrow to discover it, OR you could read it for yourself!
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 20, 2024
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Day by Day Hacks

Day By Day Hacks
Being a missionary begins with mindset that comes from a Scriptural understanding of God’s mission.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 19, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Ministry Of Friendship
In times of desperation and exhaustion, we need godly friends to lift us up.   ~~~   How many friends do you have? You may have hundreds or even thousands on social media, but honestly, how many friends do you have? And as you are thinking about that, how many people consider you a friend? And I guess even before you answer the questions, you have to define what a friend is? Is a friend simply an acquaintance? Or Your ride or die? Someone with whom you share a common interest or experience? I guess the truth is that friendship is a sliding scale. You have friends, and then you have best friends, and then you have lifelong friends. Some people have a lot of friends, and some keep a tight leash on whom they may describe as friends. But the reality is that we all need them. We all need relationships. We all need some form of fellowship. And within the family of faith, within the church, we are called to be friends, but even more than friends—we are called to be brothers and sisters, a bond that we willfully enter into for the cause of Christ. As we study the Bible this morning, we are going to see the type of friendship/brotherhood that is called for within the church, especially when you are in a crisis. Read text: 1 Samuel 23:15-18 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the Wilderness of Zeiph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” And the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.” This is the last time that David and Jonathan would see one another. We have watched this friendship begin, grow, and persevere. We have come to love Jonathan. He laid down his own rights and privileges because he recognized the anointing of David. He put his life in jeopardy to protect and defend David on more than one occasion. And we see him do it again here. This is deep friendship. This is brotherhood. This is the type of friend, brother, church member we should be to one another. Somehow Jonathan knew that David needed to be encouraged. Depression, desperation, exhaustion, confusion, a spirit of giving up, was settling in on David. He was growing tired. Perhaps ready to give up on his calling. Who knows what would have happened in verses 19-29 in the hills of Horesh had not Jonathan showed up when he did? What’s the fellowship of the brotherhood like in your church?
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 16, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Knocked Down, But Not Knocked Out
Though the enemy may try, God’s people can never be permanently defeated.   ~~~   Since God’s truth is and forever will be preserved, so too will his people. In 1 Samuel 22, we see one priest who escapes the wrath of Saul, according to prophesy. And to him, David says, “Stay with me. With me you find safekeeping.” God’s preserving of Abiathar is one in a long line of a pattern in Scripture. We see many Hebrew baby boys taken by Pharoah’s decree, but one, Moses is preserved. It seems that Baal and Jezebel have conquered Israel and that Israel is left without a word from God, but God has preserved several prophets who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Many more examples are here for our consideration—such as King Herod of the NT, who gives the decree to slaughter more Hebrew boys, with one escaping, preserved, who grows up to be the One who is the great shepherd, in whose hand we are completely safe; our life is in safekeeping with Christ Jesus. The enemy tried to put Jesus in the ground, and was successful. It looked like the attack of the enemy had succeeded completely and finally. This was not just a set back, but a game over! But it was only setting the stage for the greatest come back story ever known to man. And because of that, those that are in Christ are never knocked out!
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 15, 2024
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Trick Plays And God’s Providence
God’s providence can be difficult to understand, but it is plain in Scripture.   ~~~   When I was playing baseball, there were several trick plays that we had in our arsenal. One of my favorite was a trick plays we would run was when there was a speedy runner on first base. The pitcher would step off the rubber, and then fake a quick throw to the first baseman. The first baseman would dive on the ground, making it look like the pitcher had made a wild throw. The second baseman and the right fielder would race back behind first base as if they were going to retrieve the wildly thrown ball. The runner, in the midst of this pandemonium, would hop up and begin advancing towards second base. But when he got about halfway to second base, the pitcher, still with ball in hand, would toss it to the shortstop who was at second base, and then easily tag out the runner. If you just look at a small segment of that trick play, it looks like the baserunner is advancing, gaining ground against the other team, when in reality, that baserunner was fulfilling the will of the other team. If you just look at a small segment of history, from time to time, then it looks like the enemy is advancing, attacking and succeeding against God. But if we take a step back, then we realize, we see, that the enemy, because of his quest for power, is actually fulfilling the will of God. This truth is one we have been examining all throughout this book—the providence of God. It can be mysterious and difficult to understand. But it is plainly and squarely on the pages of scripture. And because of this, God’s church, Christians banding together, can walk through extremely tough seasons with perseverance and endurance and confidence. When it looks like the enemy is gaining an edge, remember, God has the ball in his hand the whole time, and He is in control of the game. As David prays in Psalm 57:6 “They set a net for my steps; my should was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way; but they have fallen into themselves.”
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 14, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Fame + Fortune = Protect!
If we are not walking with God, we may take drastic and immoral steps to protect our own ambitions.   ~~~   Some people think that when personal fame and fortune are being threatened, the threat must be stopped at any cost. In 1 Samuel 22, Saul believes a big conspiracy is taking place against him. So he calls forth all the prophets, and brings Ahimelech front and center and says, “Why are you joining with the Son of Jesse to conspire against me? You gave him food, you gave him a sword. You inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in what, as at this day?” Saul is indignant at Ahimelech for doing what priests do! Ahimelech was fulfilling his function as a priest, and Saul is furious at him for doing so. Ahimelech declares not only his own innocence and the innocence of all he priests of Nob, but also of David. And to him and the sacred order of the priests, Saul declares, “You shall surely die!” There was no hesitation with Saul! He didn’t get the answer he wanted. He believed his own personal fortune and fame and legacy was being threatened, and it must be stopped at all costs, so kill the priests whom he thought allowed this to happen. And when he called on his servants to do this, they refused. So he cast his gaze on one whom he knew would do it—Doeg. And here is what we find very interesting. The slaughter that takes place is described using the exact same language as to what Saul was supposed to do to the Amalekites back in 1 Samuel 15. Saul, unwilling to follow and trust the LORD’s word to protect and further God’s kingdom, willfully, joyfully follows his own word to protect his own rule. This story finishes out with a glimmer of hope. One priest escapes—Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech. He races to David and tells David what has happened. David owns his own responsibility in what has transpired, and then tells Abiathar, “Stay with me. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” Are you one who is willing to protect your own kingdom and rule at any cost? Be careful, when you are not walking with the LORD day by day, you might be surprised at the lengths you will go to squash threats to your personal agenda.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 13, 2024
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Day by Day Hacks

Day By Day Hacks
To understand the theology of missions, we should reevaluate our concept of missions.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 12, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

I’m Always The Last To Know!
We should be willing to do the Lord’s work even when it means we’re not in the spotlight.   ~~~   I believe that in doing the LORD’s work, you will run into people who will grow furious with you for doing the LORD’s work according to the Lord’s word. See the picture in 1 Samuel 22. David in humble cave, with men flocking to him, and him protecting them and also hearing from God. Compare that with Saul standing in a dominant, shady position, with rage in his heart, spear in his hand, hatefully shouting at his men, trying to manipulate with raw power, and the main complaint is that no one tells him anything. No one feels sorry for Saul, none rally to his cause, none want to protect and join in with his kingdom. This is the great tension in this text—Saul knows nothing. No one is giving information to Saul. His men don’t want to speak to him. And yet David has men flocking to him; he is hearing from the prophet Gad, and also from God through Ahimelech. I believe that in doing the LORD’s work, you will run into people who will grow furious with you for doing the LORD’s work according to the Lord’s word. That is important to keep that straight. Sometimes people do not mind you doing the LORD’s work according to their word. But when God’s word goes against their word, they like their word better, because in doing the LORD’s work according to their word, they get to be in the spotlight with all the power. But it never goes well for them, as we see and will continue to discover in the downfall of Saul. Don’t grow weary in doing the Lord’s work day by day according to the Lord’s will and word.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 09, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Back On Track
We must be willing to get back on track when we go astray, and to seek God’s will.   ~~~   Not only did David’s brothers and other men gather around him, but so too did his parents, because, very likely, their lives were under threat by Saul as well. So David ushers them over to Moab. And here, once again, is the providence of God working through first and second causes, setting up a refuge for David’s parents in their time of need. But what is of more importance at this point is what David says to the King of Moab—“Let my father and mother stay with you until I know what God will do for me.” It appears that David is back on track! And this is what differentiates David from Saul. David seeks the LORD, ready and willing to repent and listen and obey. And don’t you know David’s heart was done good when he saw the prophet Gad stroll down the dusty dirt road. Here comes God’s answer. God is speaking through Gad, God’s prophet, and David is quick and happy to obey. Are you back on track? Is the prayer and cry of your heart, “I must know what God’s will is?” And are you willing to hear Him speak through His word?
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 08, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Power Of Recognizing Your Nothingness
The kingdom of God is built on the backs of the rejects and outcasts of society.   ~~~   We have been watching the personal rise of David, the newly-anointed, soon to be King of Israel, along with the personal downfall of the current, Spirit-deficient King of Israel, King Saul. And now we have come to a part of the story where David’s kingdom, his following, begins to appear. He can’t seem to find an escape from Saul’s hitmen or Saul himself, so he is on the run. His first pit stop was at Nob to talk with Ahimelech, the priest. He gains some food and some weapons from Ahimelech. And we are told that a man named Doeg was there as well. Then David takes off for the city of Gath, Philistine territory, and puts on a show of deception when he fears his life is being threatened. All of this behavior, like we said last week, is odd for David, who, up until this point had been faithful to the LORD, and dependent upon the LORD. But the beginning of chapter 22 tells us that David departs from his previous Philistine location and comes to the cave of Adullam. While there, his brothers and family, who are no doubt also being hunted by Saul, join him in the cave. And then we are told that all those who were in distress, in debt, and discontented gathered to him. It appears that there is trouble in Saul’s kingdom, so that people are growing tired of his maniacal ways, and they are looking for another option. And they see in David a better option, a better choice. They see hope, godliness, humility, strength, courage; they see the type of leader they need. The type of leader they want to follow. 400 men. The start of what would become a glorious kingdom. And David is made captain over them. Does this, perhaps remind you of another leader who attracted to himself the outcasts of society? The downtrodden, the discontented, the poor? Of course it does. We see in David and small picture of the Christ to come. Jesus, by means of his teaching, by means of his godliness, compassion, humility, and strength, attracted to himself the outcasts. He called to himself fishermen, tax collectors, political zealots, demon-possessed women, prostitutes. People of no significant influence. People who possessed and wielded little if any worldly power. And yet, it was those distressed, in debt, and discontented people that God used to form the core of what would become a powerful force and kingdom. And it was those type of people that Jesus brought around himself who would form the core and nucleus of what would become a powerful force and church, led by God’s son, empowered by God’s Spirit. Even their enemies recognized this about the church when they called Peter and John “uneducated” and common, or profane men. What was happening in seed form in 1 Samuel 22, is fulfilled among us today! Do you realize that? The revival of God’s kingdom under the leadership and kingship of God’s chosen King, was underway, and we are the continuation of that under the greater David, King Jesus. We stand in a long line of rejects. We are the bands of the discontented and distressed. We are the outcasts and have found our hope our refuge our leader in Jesus. What God could with a group of people who realized their own nothingness and leaned into dependence upon God for everything! The battles that would be fought and won. The glory that would be exhibited. You see, the church is not a sit and listen organization. It is a hear and march army. Neither is it a personal or private spiritual pick-me-up. You are joined to something larger than yourself, greater than yourself, more important than yourself. There has been a calling and commission placed upon us that we have accepted in following our King. There is a mission. And that mission is to hold out hope to others who are discontented and distressed around the world. It is to hold up our King to those who have grown tired and hurt by the current king over their life, which is their own sinfulness and idolatry. Let me ask you? Are you a church member on mission, or are you just a sit and listen member? Are you marching in the cause of raising up disciples through the school, through your home, in your own life? Are you marching to send the gospel out overseas? As we press on here? You need to know, because sometimes, sometimes, when you are committed to this mission, it means gathering in a cave. It means remaining the outcasts of the world, strangers and aliens in this place.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 07, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Set Back Or Come Back?
What we see as setbacks are God’s way of setting the stage for a comeback.   ~~~   Have you ever experienced what you thought was a set back? When I was in the midst of finishing up school, I was in the final stages, writing the big thesis, the big project. When it came time to start submitting portions of that book for approval, we were leveled with a setback. The seminary emailed to tell me that there had been a new system of writing put in place, a new standard, that my current work did not fulfill those requirements, and that I had only a short window of time to get it fixed or I would have to start the program all over. I was upset, confused, stressed. I had put spent many late nights away from my family working on this thing, only to be told, “It doesn’t meet our new standard.” I wanted to quit. Write it all off as loss and just move on from there. But from great counsel from my wife, we stayed the course, and the set back really proved to be a refining moment in my life. It helped sharpen my focus on the project I was working on, and in many ways in the way I went about ministry. Many times, what we see as a set back is really God setting the stage for a comeback. Perhaps you have experienced something similar. Looking backwards in time, you see what was once thought to be a set back as a way of God orchestrating a come back. In Psalm 57, which is David’s looking back on the events of 1 Samuel 22, David prays in Psalm 57:4 “My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are shard swords.” And then he says, “Be exalted O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth.” It is a prayer, a cry, that comes from looking back into the past, and seeing that the enemy was fierce and had designs against David, yet God was glorified through it all. Perhaps you can look back over events in your life and see the same thing. The design and attack of the enemy was fierce, even successful, some might say, but now, from this perspective, you see it completely differently. You see God being exalted and His glory and plan coming to fruition. You couldn’t see it then, but you surely see it now. But if we have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hearts and wills ready to conform to God’s word, then we will see that what we think of as set backs, even in the present or in the future, attacks of the enemy, are really God’s way of setting the stage for a come back.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 06, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Never Be Ashamed
We can be confident that we will never be put to shame with God reigning over us.   ~~~   As we think about the events of 1 Samuel 21 that we have been studying, we should also consider Psalm 34. This psalm, it is believed was written about 1 Samuel 21, in particular when David when to Gath in the latter portion of the chapter. And he is looking back on that event and saying, “It wasn’t my so called wisdom and smarts that delivered me. It was God.” In that Psalm David exclaims: Oh magnify the LORD with me, let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look on him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all of his troubles. Oh taste and see that the LORD is good” Think about that line “their faces shall never be ashamed” and remember back to David bringing shame on himself by drooling all over his face and beard. What David ultimately realizes is that even though that may have been a foolish feat, God’s people will never be put to ultimate shame because God is a faithful deliverer.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 02, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Even In Desperate Times
In our most desperate times, our thoughts should still be set on Jesus.   ~~~   God is a portion and a deliverer that the fire cannot burn, the floods cannot drown, the thief cannot steal! A man can take away your goods, but he cannot take away your God. Sickness can take away your health and strength, death may take away your family and friends, government may take your liberty or your life, but none of these can take away your God! You have a Savior in God who does not abandon His people, but delivers His chosen ones in their times of desperation! Why would he redeem us, only to forsake us? So set your sights on God through Jesus Christ, even in the lonely, desperate time. Because being anywhere with Jesus is far greater than being anywhere without Him, even when that anywhere is a desperate situation. Why is that so? Because there is no greater portion, no greater friend, no greater savior, no greater peace, no greater joy, no greater contentment, no greater wisdom, no greater healer, no greater God than who we have in Christ!
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Feb 01, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

God Uses Allies And Adversaries
God will use both allies and adversaries to deliver us from adversity.   ~~~   David is a fugitive on the loose, with Goliath’s sword in hand, thinking that he would be safer in Philistine territory than in Israel. I would tend to think that there were 200 very sore Philistine men, along with 10,000 widow women who would disagree about David’s safety among the Philistines. But this is what desperation does, isn’t it? It can drive us to do some pretty strange things. David enters the town of Achish, with Goliath’s sword in tow. I’m pretty sure that thing was hard to hide in the luggage. And as soon as he enters, the people recognize him, particularly the servants of Achish, who is the ruler in Gath (Goliath’s hometown), and they start to question, “Isn’t this the great one of Israel?” So David’s cover is blown and he is very afraid now. Very concerned. And he decides the best course of action, again, is deception. He pretends to be a lunatic, a mad man, someone who has gone crazy. He drools all over himself, which was a mark of shame by the way. Wars were started over the pulling of a man’s beard. It was a shameful thing to mess with a man’s beard. How much more so to defile yourself by drooling all the way down your beard. David resorted to other antics as well, such as marking on their gates. And yet, in all of this, God is the one who delivers David from the grasp of the Philistines. David here, has a sword; David is a mighty warrior, but he is too afraid to fight. He is desperately afraid. And yet, God delivers. God uses allies to deliver David, and God uses adversaries to deliver David. God is providential and uses primary and secondary causes to accomplish His will. And he does the same thing in your life. How can I be sure? Well, like we said last week, David is just a human. A man of the dirt. He was on the run, he had no place to rest his head. He was under pressure, alone, desperate. And he stumbled a bit under that pressure. We see that happen regularly in patriarchs of the faith. Abraham did it. Jacob did it. Moses did it. And now David does. But there was a moment when Jesus was under immense pressure too. Alone. Desperate. And God brought him to this moment. But in that moment, he didn’t lie; he didn’t deceive; he didn’t stumble. He simply said, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” In Jesus’ most desperate moment, God delivered Jesus over to death. God handed Jesus over to suffer the wages of sin that he did not commit. God handed Jesus over to death, and then delivered His chosen one from the grave and death so that God could deliver His people from hell, and give life and joy and peace in the resurrected Jesus, even as we walk down desperate roads. God will not abandon His chosen ones. God will provide for His chosen ones all that they need during their times of desperation. He put Jesus in the grave and then resurrected Him from the dead to make this point abundantly clear to us!
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 31, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Don’t Overlook Simple Signs Of Mercy
God does not abandon us in our times of desperation.   ~~~   Don’t be so quick to overlook the simple blessings of God as signs and tokens of his sustaining care of you along the way. We ended Day by Day last week by noting David’s desperation in running from Saul, which leads to a desperate request from David to the priest Ahimelech. We are in 1 Samuel 21 and we have this interchange about type of bread is available. It is the holy bread, the showbread, that only the priests were allowed to consume. This bread was replaced every day in the tabernacle, and the priests would eat the leftover. In other words, this bread was not just handed out to anyone. Only the holy. Only the purified. Only the priests. Ahimelech knew that this was a desperate situation, and knew that mercy in this situation was called for; that preserving a life didn’t break the law but fulfilled it. But we also have a little more commentary from Jesus Himself. Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the instance of Jesus and his disciples passing through a grainfield on the Sabbath. And the pharisees saw the disciples grabbing some grain, rubbing it in their hands to remove the shell, and eating. In the Pharisees’ mind, this was equivalent to doing work on the Sabbath, and they accusingly ask Jesus why he allows this. Jesus then says, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him?” Jesus was referring to this event in 1 Samuel 21. Jesus goes on to say that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, and that God desires mercy. In other words, when there were desperate situations, extenuating situations, when a life was on the line, then the priest had the authority and duty to preserve life, not the law. This is how we know that David was in a desperate situation. He has no food. There wasn’t a fast food joint on every corner. He was a wanted man. He couldn’t just pop into any house. He didn’t know who to trust, so he goes to the priest, and the priest gives to him what is not normally lawful to give to anyone but another priest. Then the narrator gives us another question that David asked Ahimelech—“Do you have any weapons?” Lo and behold, they have at that tabernacle the very sword of Goliath. The sword David himself swung down in order to remove Goliath’s head from his body. God takes care of His chosen one in their times of desperation. God does not abandon us in our desperation. What are we to make of this, especially in light of David’s deception? If we look back, we will see that bread is actually a sign of the LORD’s blessing and confirms God’s purpose. In chapter 2, Hannah praises God by saying, “Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, and those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.” Back in chapter 10, Saul was given two loaves of bread, as a sign to him that God had anointed him as King over Israel. The presence of bread, the giving of bread to David is a quiet sign that God is blessing him, providing for him, in the midst of his desperation. Don’t be so quick to overlook the simple blessings of God as signs and tokens of his sustaining care of you along the way.
By: Clif Johnson
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Aired on Jan 30, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

No Matter What Happened Yesterday
Every day we must rely anew on God’s strength.   ~~~   Turn your attention to verse 1. David goes to Nob to Ahimelech the priest. Nob is located 5 miles or less, southeast of Saul’s home in Gibeah. When Ahimelech sees David coming, Ahimelech is trembling. He is afraid. He in all likelihood knows who David is, knows what David’s role is in King Saul’s kingdom as being a warrior and a leader of a thousand. So it surprises Ahimelech that David is seemingly by himself. We come to learn that David has picked up a few men, who are very possibly hiding out, but right here, David is alone and this perplexes Ahimelech to the point that he possibly thinks David is there as a threat to him. To all of this, David responds, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’” Up until this point, David’s words and actions have been spot-on. He has been blameless, sparkling and pure. So much so, that in chapter 20, David asked Jonathan, “What have I done wrong? What is my sin that your father is hunting me down for?” Think about what David could have said—“Your dad is crazy! He’s nuts! What is wrong with that lunatic?” But he doesn’t! He examines his own heart. He is humble. But here, David is in a desperate situation. Here is the one who marched out in front of Goliath with no armor and no fear. Here is the one who had been relying on the LORD at every turn. He has had victory after victory, and yet has remained faithful and humble. But this pressure is so great upon him that instead of turning to the God who has led him thus far, David turns to deception. We can ask why he does this. Does he do this as a means of protecting Ahimelech? Does he do it as a means to protect himself? To grease the wheels on Ahimelech’s heart so he can get what he is going to request? We can’t be sure. But we do know that King Saul did not send David on a secret mission. David is lying. David is being deceitful. The pressure, the turmoil of the situation turns this young man desperate, and he tries to use deception to get what he wants. And here are two things we must understand about David. Yes, he was a man after God’s own heart, but he was also a man from the dirt. He had feet of clay. Anxiety, panic, pressures, got to him. And this is actually one of the beautiful transparencies of the word of God. David is not held up for us as an example to follow. The bible does not hide from us the realities of David’s humanity. The second thing we learn is that past faithfulness is not a guarantee of future faithfulness. Out of all the people we have encountered so far, who has seen God move and provide and deliver as much as David? Who has the back log of events and history of God’s faithfulness and deliverance? It is David. David, the shepherd boy, raised up above his brothers. David toe to toe with Goliath. David, who has killed his tens of thousands. David, who has been blessed with the King’s daughter in law. David, who has escaped the spear. David, who has seen the Spirit, very actively, protect Him from Saul’s lynchman and Saul himself. Here, at this point in 21, seemingly forgets it all, or at least does not thing God will or can handle this current situation of desperation. My friend, don’t ever think that great spiritual progress, great spiritual victories from the past are guarantees on your faithfulness to the LORD in the future. There must be a daily, hourly, moment by moment clinging to the LORD. Listen to me, you must admit day by day, every day that you get up, before you hit the ground running, you must admit and confess, no matter what happened yesterday, that you do not have what it takes to get through today. There is no such thing as spiritual coasting. Proverbs 8:34 “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.”
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 26, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Desperado
God provides for His chosen ones during their time of desperation.   ~~~   I had to be in 7th grade when I first discovered the band, The Eagles. The transition from cassette tapes to compact discs was underway at that time, so I had some Eagles tapes, and then some Eagles CD’s. I wore those tapes out, listening to them over and over again. I love the simple melodies, the harmonies, the Randy Misner voice, the Don Henley and Glen Fry lyrics, the Joe Walsh guitar solos. I love the southern rock sound. But there was one song that I listened to probably more than any other—Desperado. The ache that is in that song; the way the verses paint a clear picture in your mind of a lonely cowboy out riding fences, weathered, hardened; the stubbornness and pride of being on your own, not needing anyone. Maybe I identified with the song because as a young teenager I was searching for more and more independence in my life. We have a desperado among us today, in our text. Someone who is out on their own, secluded. The difference is that this desperado doesn’t want to be alone. This life of being a desperado was not of his own choosing. He was forced into this. And it wasn’t even a result of his own bad choices. He had done everything right. He was a man after God’s own heart. He had was walking the path of righteousness and faithfulness, and yet, became a desperado—a desperate person, in despair, in distress. Can you identify with that person at all? Have you ever felt like you were all alone, or that no one really understood your life context and situation? Have you grown tired or desperate? Has walking with the LORD been what brought you to the desperation, because it very well can lead to that? We say this all the time around here, that walking with the LORD oftentimes leads you into the valley of the shadow of death; it makes the enemy become more concerned about you and concentrate his sights on you more intently. And it can lead to isolation. Living with Jesus, walking with Jesus very much will lead to losses and crosses (Thomas Brooks). And when you are in the thick of it, it can be suffocating. It can feel like you can’t catch your breath. It can feel like you will never return to normal. But we learn something about our God in this story of this desperado in our text. We learn that God provides for His chosen ones during their times of desperation.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 25, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

God Protects In A Mysterious Way...Sometimes
Christ reigns over hard times in our lives so we will lean into Him.   ~~~   We continue to see Saul’s downward spiral in sin. We must see that embedded within the nature of sin is destruction. God told Adam, “If you eat of the fruit of this tree, you will surely die!” Psalm 7:14-16 “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.” We see Saul’s sin directed at God’s anointed one, David. But the recurring theme in this passage is David’s escape. through Jonathan’s covenant through David’s contorting through Michal’s conniving—Psalm 59 In other words, God uses all kinds of ways that we know about, and ones we are not aware of in order to protect his anointed one, to get him to the throne. Ultimately it is all of God. And we see that in this last way of God protecting David: through the Spirit’s confronting Christ was also protected from people’s rage against him so that He could reign through His cross and resurrection.   We see Christ preserved and protected from King Herod in Matthew 1-2 We see Christ preserved and protected from Satan himself in Matthew 4 We see the murderous plot of the Pharisees and Herodians in Mark 3. In Luke 4, when Jesus unrolls the scroll in the temple and declares himself to be the Messiah, the people were “filled with wrath and rose up and drove him out of town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their towns were built, so that that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.” In John 7, it says, “They were seeking to arrest him, but non one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come.” In John 10:39 we read, “And they sought to arrest him but he escaped from their hands.” What we need to realize as God’s church is that God preserved Christ, provided ways of escape for Him so that Christ could fulfill his purpose. And also, he will preserve those who are in Christ so that they will persevere in His purpose for Him. Christ reigns over hard times, evil times in our lives so that we might press into Him and fulfill His purpose for our lives. Paul was let down in a basket as a way of escape Peter walked through open prison doors on the eve of his execution date.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 24, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Great Escape
God providentially preserves and protects so His will is accomplished.   ~~~   Have you had to escape before? Several years ago Jimmy Walker and I were at a friend’s house during the day, when that friend wasn’t home. We were there to pick up a piece of furniture. So I stepped out of the truck and walked towards the home when all of a sudden a huge dog comes out of the garage running straight towards me, barking its head off. So I take off running across a field and finally find refuge in a storage building that just happened to be open. Have you ever had to escape before? Sometimes the escape happens and you didn’t even realize it, (like in DR, Tanzania, etc) much like what we saw in 1 Samuel 18. Several times King Saul tried to indirectly assassinate David, but was unsuccessful. David escaped without ever realizing he was being hunted. And the reality is that you have been saved and rescued and escaped by the providential protection of God more times than you would ever like to know. We have the events of 1 Samuel 18 woven into our lives. It probably happens every day. Satan is like a prowling lion, seeking whom he may devour, as are the demons under him. They want to trap you, catch you and destroy you. Temptation lurks around every feasible corner, waiting to ensnare you, and yet time and again you have been spared without even realizing it. But when you turn the page to 1 Samuel 19, there is no denying Saul’s intentions. And it becomes clear to us, as God’s people that sometimes the threat is direct, right in front of our faces, and we must deal with it. There are false teachers, false systems, and other people with godless agendas who want to silence us, the church; they want to silence you. They are threatened by righteousness, they are fearful of God’s agenda, and they will do all they can to stop it. In 1 Samuel 18, David was on the rise. But now in 1 Samuel 19 David is on the run. And in our text we are going to see the author display for his audience that God reigned over Saul’s downward spiral in sin in order to provide ways of escape, preserve David, so that David could fulfill God’s purpose. God providentially preserves, protects, so God’s will is accomplished.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 23, 2024
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The Word of God is like a sword and we must learn how to properly use it.
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Aired on Jan 22, 2024
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