I SAMUEL 4:3-4:  “And when the people came to 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 here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”

OBSERVATIONS:  What is my faith focused on?  Is it possible to have faith in something that resembles God, but is not God?  Is my heart full surrendered to the will of God, or am I simply trying to manipulate circumstances in my life through “things” or “actions”?  All of these questions come to mind when reading this account of Israel taking the Ark of God into the battle with the Philistines.

Let’s peal back a few layers to try and get to some answers.  First, the nation of Israel was not serving God with their whole heart.  Even though the Lord was raising up Samuel as a prophet, the nation of Israel was still being led by Eli and his two rebellious sons.  They still continued to do what was right in their own eyes.  Second, when they experienced defeat at the hand of the Philistines they did not look inward, they looked outward.  What could they “do” differently to turn the tide?

Bingo!  They could bring the Ark of God with them into battle.  Surely this would change the outcome.

It makes me think back to one of the Indian Jones movies.  As they searched for the Ark, the Nazis were convinced that it contained the power to turn the tide of war.  Could Steven Spielberg have taken his cue from this text?  Needless to say, there is no power in a physical ark, table, of tablet.  The only power is found in the One, True, Living God – and in the hearts of those who are surrendered to Him.

Without realizing it I believe many times I make the same mistake.  I fall for the trap that – if I say the perfect prayer, if I quote the right verse, if I do the right thing – this will bring victory.  I forget that victory is not something I do or something I possess.  Victory is a Person.  Victory is Jesus Christ!  Victory is only found in what He has done for us through the cross.  Victory is made available to all who will believe – by grace through faith.  Victory is found when we surrender our hearts in true repentance, and follow the Lord in Spirit led and empowered obedience!

Lord, forgive me for the times when I have placed my faith in faith, or in a certain action or prayer.  Direct my heart to fully place my faith in You alone.  Let me let go of all the “things” that I am trusting in and lean fully upon You.  Be my Victory!  In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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