Marks of an unwise, selfish leader (1 Samuel 14)

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In 1 Samuel 14 we see the further evidence of the decline of Saul's leadership. We sometimes talk of losing your leadership capital. Well Saul seemed to mortgage the lot in this chapter. What did he do wrong?He was passive and lacked initiative. Jonathan should not have had to be the one to decide to lead the attack against the enemies. Saul left a leadership vacuum his son filled. It's sad that his own son felt he couldn't discuss his idea with his own father. We can only guess the reason, … [Read more...]

How to learn when to lead and when to follow

There are some passages in the Bible that always make me think of a specific sermon I once heard on them.  For me 1 Samuel 14 will always remind me of a sermon my friend Joel Virgo preached in 2009, entitled The Armor Bearer.  His point, was in many ways similar to the one I made a few days ago.  I urged people not to aim to be the "number one" leader unless it is very clear that is what God is calling them to. Joel made the point that in many ways the real hero of this passage is Jonathan's arm … [Read more...]

Being honest about glitches in the Bible’s text

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Evangelicals today sometimes overreach in our eagerness to defend the Bible. Please be clear I do uphold the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Bible. But to believe that is not to believe that the text handed down over the centuries is 100% exactly the text originally given. The text is remarkably well preserved. The differences and apparent corruptions are very few and far between, but they do exist. We should not try to deny them or cover them up.We notice the rare examples most … [Read more...]

Leaders: it’s not so much about how you start, but how you finish

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This morning I began to read the terrible tragedy that is the life of King Saul. It's as though the beginning of the book with its emphasis on leadership successes and failures is preparing us for the big contrast between David and Saul.I was looking at his beginning of Saul's story for any hint of a root for the disaster that is to come. And yet it seems his beginning was very good. We see the following.Saul was an impressive looking man (1 Samuel 9:1-2) He was a responsible man (1 … [Read more...]

What kind of leader will you be?

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As I've been reading 1 Samuel lately, it seems to me that one of the purposes of the book is to put before us different examples of leadership. Some of these are definitely intended for us to emulate. Others are examples to show us how not to do it. We are all called to lead in one way or the other. Which of these models will we follow?Harsh and judgemental leadership (1 Samuel 1) Leadership that listens to God (1 Samuel 3) Leadership that seeks the presence of God (1 Samuel 7) Leadership … [Read more...]

You can only lead people to the extent they want to be lead – 1 Samuel 8

“Obey their voice and make them a king.” So says God to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:22. But what of dynamic anointed by God leadership? What of setting the tone of your people? What of hearing from God and not allowing objectors to derail the resultant vision?It seems that there are times when even the best leader must allow themselves to be lead, even if they know the decision is the wrong one. A wise old pastor once said to me, "You can only pastor people to the extent they want to be pas … [Read more...]

Does unbelief in a pastor’s children disqualify him?

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I was reading 1 Samuel 8:1-3 this morning where it speaks of Samuel's children not following his ways.Many modern pastors have experienced a similar problem when their children walk away from The Lord. Some over the years have been asked to resign as a result. The reason for this comes from Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:4. These two verses speak of the need for children of elders to not be rebellious, and in many english translations, that they be believers.Some have argued that no matter what … [Read more...]

Ebenezer: thus far has The Lord helped us (1 Samuel 7)

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In 1 Samuel 7:12 we see Samuel erecting a stone of remembrance. It struck me today that the reason he does this is precisely because we tend to forget. God's people have just been delivered because despite marginalising the presence of God they have repented, prayed, and fasted.But how easy it is to quickly forget the feelings of gratitude that most of us do feel when God answers our prayers. That job which we were given by God over time becomes in our mind a burden we wish we were rid of. Or … [Read more...]

The place of fasting in repentance (1 Samuel 7)

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Today the church I am a part of Jubilee begins a church-wide call to prayer and fasting that will last three days. In one of those God-incidences I opened my Bible this morning to read 1 Samuel 7. God's people had turned away from pure worship of him. They had just deliberately marginalised the tangible presence of God among them. But despite this, God hadn't finished with them. God is an incredibly gentle, gracious and merciful God. He deals with us where we are and draws us forward. God … [Read more...]

Twenty-Five Responses to the presence of God (1 Samuel 1-7)

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The following are a series of attitudes, responses, results and emotions seen when people come into contact with the presence of God. As we read the list it is quickly apparent that all of these effects happen today in response to God. I have written more about some of these already, so some of the words below are hyperlinks for more information. How we choose to respond to the presence of God is critical, and what happens to us as a result depends on the way we approach him.In the Old … [Read more...]


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