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How To Style a Vintage Themed Hutch

Check out how I decorated my hutch for Christmas using vintage decor, thrifted items, and faux food.

Faux gingerbread, cherries, and pears.

I have been wanting to create a “buffet” type vignette on my hutch for years now. I’m so excited that this is the year I am finally able to do it. I suppose it works out now because I have plenty of props to use. I’ve been buying up faux fruits and veggies from thrift stores when ever I see them. My husband has learned not to ask questions when I pile fruit into my cart. It’s better that way.

Ceramic Apple Pie, Wax Santa’s, and clay stars

To finish off the “buffet” I have a ceramic pie. The little pewter dish holds wax Santa’s. They remind of little hard candies. They also smell amazing. The little blue stars look like iced cookies, but I wouldn’t eat them they are made of what looks like paper mache and are one of my favorite Goodwill finds. In case your wondering that is a Mackenzie Childs platter in the back and yes I got it at the thrift store for $2.99. I still cannot believe that purchase.

Pixie, Plaid Metal Lunchbox, A Christmas Carol

Directly above the buffet sits this little pixie. He is so happy and adorable looking perched on top of this great classic book and vintage metal lunch box. Does this lunch box bring back any memories for you?

Vintage Cake Carrier

Every good old time buffet needs a cake or in this case a super cute vintage cake carrier to give the illusion of cake. How is that for an imagination?

Brown Plaid Thermos, Holland Candlestick Holder, Metal Tray

This is the top shelf. The metal tray with the wooden candle holder are perfect together. And every good meal needs a delicious warm beverage and these thermos’ are perfect to round out the cozy hutch display.

Vintage Red Floral Meal Carrier

This vintage red food carrier makes me smile. It truly reminds me of all those church potluck dinners and family reunions. I suppose that’s one reason I really wanted to create this design. I was feeling nostalgic and this was a great way to fill that desire.

Stay tuned because there is more to this scene. I’ll give you a hint, the church potluck was followed by an evening of caroling. I think you are gonna love it. In the meantime know that you are blessed and highly favored.

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My Simple and Classic Fall Porch Decor

I’ve had quite a few requests from you my faithful friends to show more outdoor decorating inspiration. Here it is, my simple and classic fall porch decor. I have a tendency to tweak my decorations as the seasons evolve which makes it challenging to get a final look, but this is about as final as I am going to get, after all, I’ll begin Christmas decorating soon and I cannot wait to share some exciting news with you. You will definitely want to keep checking back here on this blog. If you haven’t done so yet you need to make sure you sign up to receive my emails because that will keep you in the know.

Looking to your left after walking up just three steps to my porch, you will see see this adorable vignette. Aren’t those pumpkins the best. I’m a little sad that they are fresh pumpkins because I won’t get to enjoy them after this season. But, golly I sure have hearts in my eyes right now. What do you think about the pillows? I purchased those last year at Walmart. I’m not sure if you can still find these particular ones, but you can find some super cute pillows right here. They are perfect for carrying out the pumpkin theme on this simple and classic fall porch.

To the left of the front door is this cute little scene. I’ve had this little red rocker for many years. I purchased it an auction. Do you enjoy auctions? I love them, but I do get nervous because it seems like my head will get itchy and I’m afraid to scratch. I don’t want to bid on something I have no intention of buying. Crazy I know. Oh, I can’t forget about the little Radio Flyer wagon. It’s too cute with those little pumpkins stacked inside.

Enjoy this overhead view. I love the bold red and yellow with the buffalo check rug. The colors really pop which is what you want when it comes to curb appeal. You definitely want your home to pop.

Here is a better view of the right side of my porch. Again carrying the pumpkin theme all through out the porch. Keeping the orange and yellow colors consistent. The buffalo check is also making another appearance as chair pads.

Something I feel is absolutely essential when decorating outdoors is lighting. Here I used seed lights wrapped around a garland that frames my front door. The lighting is cozy and inviting especially now that the sun is setting earlier. Nobody wants to come home to a dark house, so make sure you use accent lighting.

I didn’t want to forget about this little stoop. This is the entrance to our mudroom. It is the entrance we use the most, next to our garage door. It is cuteness overload from the green truck door mat to the gnome porch sign.

I love to use old rustic pieces and this crate fits that description. The bottom is filled with large pumpkins and the top is great to elevate this white mum and mini pumpkins. I should probably put the mum in a cute pot. Oh the things you realize when you take a picture. Like I said I’m always tweaking my decor.

If you need more inspiration you can check out my dining room here.

And my living room can be found here.

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STUNNING NEW DINING TABLE DISPLAY

I bet you are curious about how I decorate my dining room table for fall. Today I’m giving you a peek at my stunning new dining table display. I really like to keep my display’s as unique as possible. I’m just not satisfied with my home looking like it came from a box store. So I solve this problem by using items I have acquired by thrifting, yard sales, or even good ole “curbside pickup” aka curbside trash. I bet you didn’t expect me to add that source to the list. It’s true though I come from a long line of junk men. My grandfather was the best of the best. He taught me well.

I’ve added lots of texture to the fall table centerpiece this year. I have fabric pumpkins, jute table runner, wooden pedestals and a metal pumpkin. I can’t forget the candlelight and the grapevine wreath. I think this is a very simple display, at least for me it is. The best part of this display is how the pedestals and runner were purchased at 80% off from Hobby Lobby. They were part of their spring collection. Just because something is launched for a spring season does not mean it can’t be used year round. That’s how I get most of my decor.

I’ve chosen to keep the color soft. You can see in the mini pumpkins how I used a soft sage green (be still my heart), and creamy white mini pumpkins to fill this pottery bowl. Of course, the colors of the bowl also go well with the pumpkins. It’s all about coordinating the colors. That being said I love how the orange of the bittersweet berries add a punch of color, but not too much.

Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins. These are velvet and that olive green is so pretty and unique. I appreciate traditional fall colors when decorating, I really do. I also really appreciate experimenting with unconventional colors. What about you? Do you decorate traditional fall or are you a bit more adventurous like me? Don’t forget to check out more Fall Table Top decor here.

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One of A Kind Fall Tabletop Decor

I’m so excited to share with you my one of kind fall tabletop decor. I know that sometimes decorating a tabletop can be a real challenge. Figuring out proper scale to spacing to coordinating it all can make you feel intimidated if you’re not confident with decorating.

My goal today is to give you not only inspiration but encouragement to just have fun with decorating your home. Your home should be a reflection of you, if you’re happy with the decor then that is what matters most.

The first table you see when you walk into my home is the coffee table. I’ve used my TLC method in each of the displays i’m sharing today. The items I used here include a wooden cutting board shaped riser, a crate, bowl, fabrics and floral stems. I like the way it all came together, especially in the evening with the candlelight. It’s so cozy.

This is a picture of the other end of the coffee table display. White pumpkin with the wooden crate and rustic florals, ahh, be still my heart. What do you think about the wooden acorn sign? I found that little gem at the Dollar General. They have really been stepping up their home decor game. If you haven’t been there in awhile, you need to check it out. This is not an affiliate link, I just like shopping there and sharing what I find.

I love the unique look of this small tabletop display. The natural pumpkins are also from the Dollar General. I’ve seen similar pumpkins with this look for way more money than I paid for these. It’s really about the look and feel of what you pull together that make a display look beautiful, not the price of the items. Place pumpkins on candlesticks for a unique spin. Of course, you can use candles if you really want to. It will look great either way.

What do you think about the mix of little green pumpkins and mini pinecones? I love the look and it adds a much needed element-texture. Add ribbon and fabric to really pull it all together. You can check out this blog for tips on how to update pillows to make them fit into your fall decor.

I hope I’ve given you plenty of ideas to use in your own home, I’d love for you to share some of your ideas with me. Until next time be blessed.

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Church Renovation

My husband and I have been spending our “spare” time renovating our churches multi purpose room, aka the church basement. Other than a coat of paint or two this space was in sad sad shape. Outdated was actually an understatement. I’ve been really excited to share the progress with you and I hope you enjoy the finished project.

This isn’t the exact before, but you can see how dated the cabinets and flooring are. I’m sure sixty years ago this was top notch. I remember going to VBS in this same church and eating our snacks in the very room. I especially liked attending on the final night. We got to eat little ice cream cups with those cute little wooden spoons. Do you remember those?

Anyhow, the flooring and the cabinets are both original, as you can clearly see. The wall was updated about twenty years ago with vinyl soffit. Can you even imagine that? I suppose the purpose was to withstand water. Until recently this space would flood regularly despite sub pumps every time it rained this space was a concern. All that has been fixed though, we hired Once and Done Waterproofing. They put in what is called a French drain. Sounds so sophisticated and I suppose it is because it worked. The basement has not flooded or leaked since the installation was completed. Which is why the church decided it was time to update.

One of the most challenging parts of this renovation was the support beams. I wanted the basement to feel as open as possible so I really needed to be strategic with these beams. I didn’t want them to create a barrier that made you feel like you weren’t welcome to come in and I definitely didn’t want them to stand out like a sore thumb.

The solution to the problem was to paint them the same color as the walls. This way they visually blend into the background, not stand out. This is a great tip when you are planning to change your space with paint. Decide what you want to draw attention to or draw attention away from before painting. A different color will draw attention and make it stand out. The same color will pull your eye away and thus cause it to blend in and not be as noticeable.

One more during picture. This is the accent wall, just a little putty and some sanding and it will be beautiful. This is definitely one way of making a statement. I chose a color a few shades darker than the other walls and it came out fantastic.

Are you excited to see the room completely finished? I hope so because I’m excited to show you. Make sure you are following to get updates when the new blogs are posted so you don’t miss it. In the meantime you can take a peek at some of the beautiful spaces I visited while on vacation in Branson, MO. Until next time, may you be blessed and highly favored.

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Vacation Decor Inspiration

I finally got to check off my bucket list a visit to Branson Missouri, and it was phenomenal, to say the least. Well, until all three of us got sick and had to come home earlier than we planned. That’s how life is and we have to learn to change our plans and deal with what we are given. Nevertheless, my creative side was filled with tons of vacation decor inspiration.

Of course, I’m going to share the highlights with you, my faithful friend. I’ll share with you the fun and unique decor first. Then I will share the beautiful designs I fell in love with. Decor and design inspiration for everyone.

Who doesn’t love a vintage truck?

Vintage trucks are all the rage right now and I couldn’t resist this opportunity to get a picture with this one. I love the warm creamy tan and rust color combo, it’s so different than the typical red, white, or blue we see everywhere.

Gallery Wall:

Gallery Wall of Vintage Signs
Gallery Wall Using Vintage Enamel Pots

We found some of the best local restaurants. The county cooking, homemade food kind. Each one had some very unique gallery walls using vintage pieces they collected over the years. It’s so fun to have dinner here.

Outdoor Decor Inspiration:

Galvanized Metal Window Planters
Repurposed
Galvanized Metal Water Trough

I know you’ve been patiently waiting for me to post more outdoor decor tips so here you go. You can check out my porch inspiration post, for more ideas too.

I thought this was so unique. Using galvanized metal as window planters and as a planter in a fence. This is just so cool to me. Plus I love the black color of the fence.

Old Log Cabin Porch

Oh, I can’t forget to share this old log home. It’s a summer porch at its finest. I love the casual, relaxed feel this porch shares. That’s one of the most important things to remember when decorating outside-what feeling are you trying to convey?

Design Inspiration:

Amish Built Covered Bridge

Beautiful spaces are not just about decor inspiration, the space also needs to have great design elements. Just look at this covered bridge, I’m in love. I describe it as rustic industrial.

You know you are in a well-designed space when you are compelled to take a picture of the restroom. I’m serious, this is the most beautiful public restroom I have ever used. Just look at that subway tile, I’m still swooning. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen not only has great food, but it is a beautiful space to spend family time.

I hope you found this vacation decor to be inspiring. I’d love to know what your favorite idea is. Please post in the comments which pictures you prefer (decor or design) so that I can continue to post more of what you want. Thanks for stopping by, you are blessed and highly favored.

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How To Update A Faded Outdoor Pillow

I have owned this set of pineapple pillows for several years now. I love the whimsical pineapple print, but the sun has faded them a good bit. These pillows just aren’t as vibrant as they once were and because of that I’m going to give them an update. Besides, I’m really liking the bee and hive decor I see everywhere and this gives me an opportunity to incorporate it on my back deck.

Recommended Supplies:

Here is a picture of all the supplies I used to create this cute pillow. The glue is a hot glue stick that is specifically created for fabric. It has more flexibility when it’s cooled which makes it great for this project. Of course, you could sew the pillow case if you want to. Either way is perfectly fine.

Measure and cut the fabric:

Let’s get going. The first thing I did was measure the pillows I wanted to cover. I added to that number another half to one full inch. I cut my fabric into a square 16.5″ x 16.5″, I cut both pieces of fabric at the same time.

Make sure you keep the right (pretty) sides facing each other. You can pin the fabric together if you want to. Pinning will help keep the fabric from slipping which makes it easier to put together.

Put it all together:

Now get glueing or sewing if you prefer. I used a black fabric glue stick in my hot glue gun. I also switched the temperature on low because I do not like burning my fingers. Ouch. As you can see, the fabric has a black background so I chose to use a black glue stick this way the glue will not show. It blends in really well.

Well, would you look at that, it’s a perfect fit. You can fold the raw edge down the whole way around the opening and then added a final strip of glue sealing the opening close. Some other ideas are to add a zipper, buttons or even hook and loop if you wanted to have the ability to switch out the pillow cover. Now glue it shut. I realize when I’m ready to change it out I’ll need to cut it off. I’m okay with that though.

What do you think about my updated outdoor pillows? I’m pleased with how they came out and I hope I’ve inspired you to update what you have and give your things new life.


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Coffee Table Decor

Do you feel like your coffee table can be a challenge to decorate? Today I’m sharing tips on how to decorate a coffee table that’ll make you swoon. I’m going to share a few photos for you to use as inspiration for your own home. I’ll also break down the elements that give them a pulled together look.

I like to change out the decor on my coffee table seasonally. So about every three months it will get an update. When you switch out decorations that often you begin to learn a thing or two or three about what works. You will begin to understand what you like and dislike.

Each of these display’s are more Easter, although I don’t feel like they are over the top. You can read my more over the top Easter post here. I personally prefer a softer look and yes, that includes black. I love to decorate with black, cream, gray and tan. you can see that I added in two very on trend colors, the sage green and blush pink. It is the form of eggs, but those colors give this a fresh updated look.

When pulling to gather a display for your coffee table there are a few things to keep in mind. I won’t call them rules, they are more like keys. The first key is the color scheme. I kept this display with soft tones. I like the soothing look and feel these colors bring to my living room.

This display is a bit more “cutesy”. If you love a more whimsical feel then this look is for you. You can read more on this vignette here. The key to this look is using lifts or levels. In the previous picture I used a cake stand to elevate the bunny and plant. In this display I chose to use a small two tiered tray. Pull together similar items that help to tell a story. In this case it’s bunny love and bunnies love carrots. Between the bunnies and the carrots there is plenty of texture for your eye to enjoy.

Do you see my color theme? I added in more brown in this picture with the faux chocolate bunnies. I used the elevate key and elevated the display by placing it on a wooden cake stand. Those cake stands really come in handy. You need to get one if you don’t own one.

Another key that you can see in each picture is the texture key. In this display I have various textures including wood, pottery, fabric and a floral ball. Do you see how the green in the floral ball just makes this display pop. Adding in the finial ornaments gives the eye something unique to look at.

My best advice is practice makes perfect. Pull together different items and think outside the box until you come up with a look you love. Has this inspired you, if so, I’d love to see pictures of you display. You can always add them in the comments.

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Bunny Wreath Update

Spring is definitely in the air and I think your are going to love this Moss Bunny Wreath Update. As I’m writing this post the sun is shining bright. The birds are chirping, and I have my window open. For some of you that may not be a big deal, but here in PA for mid-March that’s a pretty big deal.

I’ve been spending some time going through my spring and Easter decor. Joyfully decorating my home for the new season when I came across this bunny wreath. I purchased it as a deep clearance item at the end of spring last year and I’m not gonna lie, it looks a bit shabby. While I like burlap, This particular burlap ribbon is a bit, well, too shabby for my liking. I can definitely do better.

One thing I’m not a fan of is ribbon that does not have wire in it. I mean, if you’re going to make a bow it needs to be nice and full, not flat. So off it comes. It was easy to remove. A quick tug and some peeling and voila no more shaggy, flat burlap.

I chose a nice wired ribbon with a tan and cream check pattern. It’s a nice neutral color and pattern. I think it looks very fresh and just right for spring. In my opinion it is just what this moss covered bunny needed. Keep your eye out for sales on ribbon especially after each holiday or season. This is the best way to save money on ribbon and goes a long way with quick little decorating updates. You don’t have to break the bank to freshen up your home.

Making bows can be intimidating I will admit. I’m not as good as I wish I were, but I get by. My advice is just keep practicing or find a friend who is great at making bows and bribe them to make one for you. I opted practices makes perfect. I know there are so many different ways you can make a bow. Another cute option would be to make a shabby or rag bow where you just tie together a slew of ribbon strips then attach it to your wreath. Would you like to see a tutorial on that let me know I’d love to show you.

Here it is a simple updated bow on my moss covered bunny wreath. What do you think? I think he will look great on my porch. If you want to see more bunny DIY’s go to this post.

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Add Texture to Coffee Table Decor

How to add texture to your coffee table decor.
Add texture to your coffee table decor

Do you ever struggle with how to add texture to your coffee table decor? It seems to be the one surface I struggle with the most. Too many things and your decor will feel cluttered, too little it seems unfinished. One of the ways to find a happy balance is to make sure you add in plenty of texture to your decor. Items with lots of texture tend to give visual interest. You don’t need to have as many items which keeps the cluttered look at bay.

In my display I used a small tiered tray and a few bunnies that are made by me. I used a thick yarn to create them. The texture is so soft and fuzzy. I’m so pleased with the way they came out. They are adorable and look perfect on my coffee table display. I also added a bunch of carrots. Those are store bought but, I think they fit in with the spring theme perfectly. They are made of a very textured fabric and wrapped with jute.

When you are decorating your coffee table for the spring season, go ahead and add a variety of textures in your next display. It really will make a huge difference. The other detail to make sure you add to your decor is layers. You can read more about how to add layers here.

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Simple Spring Egg DIY

Sometimes, all I want to do is create. There is just something about making something out of, well, nothing that makes me feel refreshed. I also really wanted to make a few new decor pieces for spring and Easter. I did what most creators do, I headed to the Dollar Store and found these three wooden eggs. To be honest they only had three left on the rack, but I’m ok with that.

My favorite accent color this year is sage green. I’ve been loving it for a little while now, and I’ve noticed the color is really picking up speed in the trend department which just an added bonus. But I love soothing colors in my home so that is what I gravitate too. This year spring will be sage and tan.

Adding a little something unexpected when you create is a great way to take your projects up a notch. I picked out this cute sage and gray cotton fabric to do just that. I think it’s perfect. The only thing left to do is embellish each of these cute little eggs, I need to add some personality to them.

I already had all the embellishments in my craft supply and I have to tell you, that was my favorite part. Picking out the designs for each. What do you think? Can you guess which one is my favorite? Wait, am I allowed to have a favorite? Hmmm.

  1. I absolutely love your unique way of decorating, I hope you realize how much you do help me! I love…

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E is for Everything Pulled Together

Are you feeling the L.O.V.E for your home now? Implementing all the tips I’ve provided you over the past few weeks will definitely go a long way toward loving your home. We’ve talked about layers, the overall style of your home, filled it with the things you value, and now the only thing left to do is tie everything together.

One of the most likely ways of pulling everything together is to group like items together. In this picture I’ve curated a cute little vignette on my old library table using my blue and white pottery pieces. As you can see the pottery runs the gamut from USA and Holland to Japan, don’t judge, I really liked the pieces on their own. While they don’t technically have much in common when I put them together they blend because of their colors.

You can see in this picture that the colors blend well, I’ve given it a little punch of excitement with the red berries on the tree, but other than that it’s my favorite go to colors of black, tan, cream. I have a sweet mixture of old and new pieces. I feel like the old makes the new feel a bit more, well, less new.

Here is more of an overview look of my living room leading into my dining room. You can see I keep the feel and colors of my home pretty consistent. Don’t feel like you can’t mix it up in your own home. This is just what works best for me. Also, as. you can see in the background I have a stained glass window leaning against the back wall. The window really doesn’t have anything in common with the rest of my home other than I just really like it, so its staying. If I really like something that doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly, I usually overlook the imperfections and find a way to incorporate it anyway. Hence the reason why I L.O.V.E my home.

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V is for Value

When your home is filled with the things you value it becomes a place that welcomes you, it’s as though it give you a big ole hug every time you walk through the door. Fill your home with the things you love and as for the things you don’t, think of way to repurpose those.

What you value speaks volumes to who you are. I don’t know if that also holds true with physical items, but this stack of Bibles is who I am at my core. Do you see the Bible on the very bottom of the stack? That big ole Bible was my dad’s. He would read that exact Bible every evening after dinner. He would then head to his bedroom where he would kneel by the side of his bed and pray. I will always have that memory with me, but having the physical reminder is soothing to my soul.

My Grandma alway used Corning dishes, white with the green trim. My husband’s grandmother was a bit more eclectic. This bowl with the peach pattern was one that she would serve mashed potatoes for our Sunday dinner. I commented one Sunday on how beautiful it was, once it was washed and dried she gave it to me. I have treasured this bowl since that day right along with memories of her generous spirit.

aise your hand if you love a great bargain. My grandfather loved a good bargain. By bargain, I mean he loved finding treasures in what other people discard as trash. He was a junk man, and as far as I’m concerned, he was the best in the business.

This brass crab is one of his many found treasures. When he gave this to me, I suppose he thought I would treasure it. He was right, I’ve had this for many years and I still enjoy looking at it. This little crab brings a smile to my face every time I remember all the fun times we had crabbing at the ocean with my Pap.

What are some of your favorite meals from your childhood? I have way too many to count. In my home we weren’t permitted to be “picky” eaters. We ate what was made for dinner or we didn’t eat. Needless to say I never missed a meal.

When my mom passed on I made sure I collected all her handwritten recipes. I cherish them so much. What I like most about looking at them is how she also critiqued the recipes.

Last but not least in my most valued decor pieces is this very beat up and worn library table. I’d like to say it was a family heirloom, but it was not. This table was sitting on my husband’s grandparent’s porch when I spotted it. It was used in his grandfather’s work-shed, completely covered in grease and grime and he wanted to get rid of it. That is until I saw it and immediately fell in love it. Somehow I managed to convince him to give it to me. It has been apart of my home decor for many years and I don’t have any plans to change that anytime soon.

These items are not my only prized possessions, but they are a good representative of who I am and what I value in life. Thank you for joining me in a walk down memory lane. My hope is that I’ve inspired you to pull out those treasured items and think of creative ways to incorporate them into your home decor.

Catch up on the entire L.O.V.E Your Home series here:

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O is for Overall Style

Filling your home with the things you love is important, but sometimes something just feels a little off. Have you ever felt that way with your home? You buy something new, yet it just doesn’t look right no matter where you place it in your home.

One way to remedy that problem is to understand your personal style. Figure out what decorating style fits your personality and makes you happy and then you can narrow down and have more confidence with your decor decisions. Today I’m going to give some examples of the top five decorating styles and what makes each one unique.

Farmhouse has been so popular over the past few years. It makes practicality and simplicity the priority. It has a casual and relaxed feel. It relies heavily on rustic wood and mixes well with bright white and matte black accents. You can find touches of weathered wood, repurposed brick and painted shiplap. Even the ceiling is included with exposed distressed wooden beams.

The decor is often collected pieces. Pieces that have been repurposed and used in unique ways. Mixing and matching styles from vintage pieces gives it that sweet charm we love. Make sure to give it a good dose of farm inspired paintings and photographs. Plenty of green plants and you’ve got a good start with your home.

A traditionally styled home is timeless, comfortable, and put together in a not overly fussy way. To me victorian is fancy, and traditional is a step down from that. Traditional style embraces family and strives to bring it together. You’ll often find traditional homes with large crown moldings, tray or coffered ceilings. Fabric typically has a pattern on it, from florals, and plaids, to stripes.

The furniture will be family heirlooms with curved lines. The sofas will often be oversized and super comfy. The decor pieces with collected items from family and friends to pieces picked up as vacation moments. Is traditional style your style?

Mid century modern is for the person who loves vintage. Hence the name mid-century. You’ll typically find furniture and decor pieces right out of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. Those unique diamond types shapes. Those vibrant colors of greens, blues and gold. The furniture has straight lines. Overall the home will be simply decorated, not fussy at all, more of a minimalist feel.

When looking to decorate a mid-century modern styled home you will want to head to the flea markets, thrift stores, and antique malls for this one, because you’ll want the real deal pieces. Have fun collecting.

This is my daughters favorite style. I have to admit it fits her personality well. The Boho style exudes a carefree, casual and relaxed approach to life just like my favorite daughter. While my home is mostly traditional I do have a few areas in my home that lend to a Boho feel, especially where the plant collection resides.

Boho style is filled with wicker furniture, soft textured pillows, soft color scheme. Baskets are used in unique ways like wall art. Macrame and woven textiles give a nice cozy feel to a boho themed home. This style just makes. you feel relaxed, I suppose that is why it’s so popular.

Perhaps you love the beach? It doesn’t matter if it’s the ocean or a lake, there is something special about a waterfront property. Beach and coastal decor embrace that waterfront lifestyle in such a relaxing way. It feels like summer all year long.

My home isn’t coastal or beachfront, but during the summer months I take advantage of this theme by pulling out my seashell collection. Coastal style is so much more than just seashells though. It’s a light and airy style homes, with wide open windows. Surrounded with the colors of blues, greens, and white all mimicking the outside view. Bringing the outside in.

Has this been helpful? Are you inspired to fine tune your decor style or maybe I’ve inspired you to mix and match, because there is nothing wrong with eclectic. Just have fun decorating and filling your home with what you L.O.V.E.

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L is for Layer

We are kicking off the month of February by launching a decorating series designed to help you L.O.V.E. Your Home. We want your home to feel like you’re getting a big bear hug the moment you walk through your door. I would love for your home to feel nice and cozy, like being wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket on a cold winters night.

When you think about it a blanket is simply another layer, and so it only makes sense that to get that feeling in your home you should add layers. Not just to your sofa or bed, but also to your table tops and hutches.

Take these two pictures for example, both are very inviting, both draw your attention to them. That’s because the items displayed on the shelves are layered. Layered with a variety of height, textures and depth. Bonus tip, book stacks are super trendy right now, take those book covers off and start using those books for things other than vertically lining a shelf.

Turn baskets upside down and use those for riser too. I wanted a bit more height for my lamp so that is exactly what I did. I also placed a small wreath around the base to cover up the basket bottom. Don’t forget to add greenery where you can. Mixing live and artificial plants help too.

I admit this picture is a bit more boring, but It shows how important layering with texture all throughout the room is.

Step stools make great risers and so do old windows and doors. Prop them against a bare wall then layer trees, baskets, bowls or even small tables in front to tie into the rest of the space. I’m using decorative balls that I found at a yard sale last summer, but you can also use pinecones, seashells, or even baseballs to fill an old bowl or crock. It’s all about the layers.

When layering you want the items to be cohesive, but not matchy-matchy. I have two brass bells, they don’t match, yet they are the same color brass so they work together. The vintage wire paper tray is also the same color as the bells. Everything ties together nicely. The current design trend is to have items that look like you’ve collected them over time rather than purchased all together at a box store. It’s ok to buy things at a box store, we just don’t want it to “look” like we did.

There you have it. My best layering tips, with plenty of examples to inspire you. Go through your home, open up those stuffed closets and get creative with what you find. Use what you already own in a new, fun and unique way then let me know what you come up with. I’d love to see your pictures.

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Contain the Clutter

It’s been a busy month, we’ve made a huge improvement with decluttering our homes. We’ve grouped items together based on their use and now it’s time to give everything a home. This is one of the fun parts of organizing for me because it’s where I can be a little more creative. Organizing doesn’t have to just be about square boxes. You can decorate using any variety of containers. From baskets to buckets to jars or even recycled food cans.

Take this wire basket for example. It could easily be used for a planter, but I’m using it to hold my journals. I have it mounted to the wall just above my desk. It’s within easy reach and I like the way it looks.

When you are limited with storage space, think about going vertical. I found these metal and wood envelopes at a Dollar General a few years ago and they are perfect for putting mail in. They could house mail or think about using them in the kitchen to store a cookbook or printed favorite go to recipes.

Keep your eye out for interesting containers. I found this at the thrift store for three dollars, I love the patina on it so I won’t be polishing it anytime soon. I think this would be great to use to display soap or candles. It would also be fun to use it for pens or note pads or even dinner napkins. I’m sure you could think of even more ways to utilize it.

There is no reason to keep dipping into a giant plastic bag when you want to soak in a nice salt bath. Find a large jar to house your epson salt, add a cute scoop and you’ve got a cute way to be practical. As I’m looking at this picture I realize I need a cute scoop and I think I should make a cute tag to add to it too. What do you all think?

This is not as interesting a picture, but it is definitely a great way to utilize any available space you have. Use a plastic storage bin that fits under your bed to store anything from wrapping and tissue paper to shoes or even sweaters or blankets.

Never underestimate the value of a fantastically large basket, especially if it comes with a lid. This basket is large enough to use as a side table and it holds several large chunky blankets. I use this one as both a piece of furniture and for storage.

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to get creative with storing your own things. The biggest thing for me is making sure everything is in its place and that it’s place is functional. Once you do that it is much easier to stay organized.

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Group Like Items Together

Now that we’ve decluttered our chosen space it’s time to organize it. We need to put our items into groups with other like items. Meaning if you’ve organized a cabinet and you have crafts, vitamins and socks all mixed together, now would be the time to put everything where it belongs. The socks will go to the sock drawer and your crafts can be collected and grouped together. Put the vitamins with other medicines.

All my precious “planning” supplies. Washi, stickers, etc.

Using craft tools as an example, when you put all your tools, and supplies together it gives you the big picture of how much you really have and it gives you a better idea of what types of containers you may need to purchase or create to house all those supplies.

Silver grouped together in a drawer and then separated by piece.
Tableware all divided out and like pieces put together.

The three categories you need to think about are room, activity, and tools. What room is the item most get used in? Clothing is mostly put on in your bedroom, so keep your clothes in your bedroom. What activity is the item used for? Is it a kitchen utensil or is it a power tool? Power tools most likely get used in the garage, so move those items to the garage.

Organize clothing in the closet or dresser drawers.
Organize clothing in the closet or dresser drawers.

Lastly, what type of tool is it? Scissors would be used in either an office or for crafting. Of course I keep scissors all over the house which is a great example of why you need to determine its use. I have kitchen shears in the kitchen, hair shears in my bathroom vanity, and craft shears in my craft closet. I really don’t like traipsing all over the house looking for scissors.

I keep my favorite pens and markers within arms reach.
I keep my favorite pens and markers grouped together and within reach.

I cannot stress it enough when you are organizing only focus on one space at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Once you get overwhelmed it’s really hard to keep your motivation up. So only focus on one section at a time.

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Decluttering

Week 1: We’re decluttering, getting our homes clear of all the clutter that has accumulated over the past year.

One thing I know is how easy it is for your home to feel cluttered. I also know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed when looking around at all that needs to be cleared. My heart for you during this series is to offer encouragement as you go through this process, and let you know you are no alone. We all have a ton of stuff, most of which needs to find a new home.

Here are some tips that I find help me.

Once you decide to clear out a spot, whether it’s a closet or even an entire room, the best thing you can do is to break it down into small sections. What happens is we start out all gungho, we tear through the closet removing every item stored inside. Turning our beds into a massive heap of clothing. Then become overwhelmed. Of course we would feel that way, we’ve bitten off way more than we can handle. We even lie to ourselves, “it has to get worse before it gets better”, no, no it does not. You can actually declutter any space in your home with out creating a huge mess.

Focus on just one sections at a time. Choose a drawer, shelf or surface, grab a timer, set it for 15 minutes and go to it. Challenge yourself to get that drawer finished before the timer goes off. I have a feeling you might surprise yourself.

Toss all the trash, stained, or even worn out items right into a trash bag. Nobody wants that stuff. Quickly toss the things you no longer use or want onto a pile. As for those things you no longer love (or ever loved) or need, those things can go into another bag/box. You will feel so good donating those. If its really special you can sell it, but only if you do it immediately.

What do you think? Can you narrow it down and focus on just one spot at a time. I promise this will be so much more doable than trying to “eat the whole elephant” at one time.

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Cut The Clutter

I love taking time at the beginning of a new year to declutter my home. It never ceases to amaze me just how much “stuff” accumulates throughout the year. This year I want to invite you to join me. We can do this together. I’ll share my best tips and I’d love you to share yours too.

The schedule (as of today) is:

  • Week one: Decluttering, you cannot organize clutter
  • Week 2: Give it a home, every thing in its place
  • Week 3: How to contain the madness
  • Week 4: My personal timesaving tips, how I stay on top of things
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Christmas 2021

Wow, can you believe 2021 is coming to an end already? I know it’s sounds cliche that time flies by, but time is really flying by and I realized I did not share my Christmas decorations with you. Let me remedy this right now.

I typically put up several trees in my home, this is a picture of my main one. I love using black/white buffalo check with deep reds and creams. You can see in the picture how I also use lots of textured ribbons and decorations to give is unique look.

This vintage aluminum tree is a showstopper in its own right. My husband gifted me this tree several years ago. It took him awhile to find one in such great shape, but I sure am happy he did. I like to use vintage decoration, this year I chose blues/teals and silver bulbs.

My home isn’t the only place I get to make festive. Here is a picture of our church stage all decorated for Christmas. I had so much fun with this tree, mostly because it’s new, huge and I could really be creative with it. It’s a shame I’ll have to take it down soon.

Also gracing our stage is the nativity of Jesus Christ. This picture really doesn’t do this scene any justice. It’s truly beautiful and a perfect way to promote reflection on the real reason for season.

This is a glimpse at some of the tree decorations on the “children’s church” tree. It’s fun, whimsical, busy. Almost like Christmas exploded onto this tree.

Last but not least is this woodland themed tree. As beautiful as the stage tree is, I have to say this is my personal favorite (shh, don’t tell the others). I love using red berries and again you can really see all the texture added with the different ribbons and ornaments. That poinsettia is the best, it’s made of felt, wired and sprinkled with glitter. I’m in love with it.

I was definitely busy with decorating trees this year. If I wasn’t a pro at it before, I definitely am now. Let me know what you think, which one is your favorite?

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Centerpiece Extravaganza

With Christmas in full swing, I’d thought I’d share a few pictures of a few centerpieces to give you some inspiration for your Christmas table.

In this picture, I’m using an old crock filled with artificial greenery picks. Feel free to use fresh greens if you have access to some. The poinsettia, placed in the center, is made of canvas with a jingle bell center. What makes this centerpiece most unique is the use of deer antlers, I like how it’s different, completely unexpected.

This picture collage was taken at our church’s women’s Christmas party. These were placed on each table and then given out as door prizes at the end of the event. Congrats to those who won them, because they were gorgeous.

I like to use battery-operated candles to add some pretty flickering light, this is a great way to create a beautiful atmosphere. Add is some red berries and your table is ready to wow your guests.

Tell me, do you put time and effort into finding the perfect centerpiece?

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My Thanksgiving Table Setting

I was feeling inspired today and decided to decorate my dining room table with a nice Thanksgiving feel. I decided this year that I’d really like to have a set of dishes for each season, so I started with fall first. I chose this white plate covered with cream, blue and orange pumpkins. I’m in love with how they look.

Next, I chose the white charger with gold accents. I rounded out the place setting with a rose gold/copper fork, knife, and spoon.

Have you noticed the latest trend in table decor? It’s using cutout words at each place setting like I did in this picture with the word “Blessed”. These can be found in all shapes and sizes. The blessed word is plastic, but you can find these in wood as well. Have you decorated with them yet? I’d love for you to share your idea with us.

Also, don’t think you have to use only “fancy” dinnerware. I think this paper plate is beautiful. Not everyone has the time, energy, or even finances to utilize glass dinner plates especially if you’re hosting a large dinner. You can still make the table pretty with paper.

What do you think? Have I inspired you to set a beautiful table for your Thanksgiving dinner?

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Let’s Talk Window Treatments

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Curtains, you either love them or hate them. I don’t really know of too many people who don’t care one way or the other. Most people need something over their windows. If you’re like me and live along a busy road you need those window treatments to block out unwanted peepers. The other reason I need to cover my windows is the sun. The front of my home faces South so the heat from the sun can be intense, now in the winter it’s welcomed, in the summer not so much. No matter what obstacles you are trying to work with the key is to have the window treatment fit in with the rest of your home.

The main colors in my home are black/cream/grey. I love the combinations of these three colors and the buffalo check curtains provide a big, unexpected punch in my living room. This is definitely a bold choice, but I’ve had these up for a few years now and I’m still thrilled with them. Which is awesome. This window gets harsh sun all day long so the curtains are lined with a nice thick backing to block out heat and harsh rays. I also have the windows fitted with blinds as an added layer of protection. The combination of the two make a huge difference in the summer. During the winter months I open them up and welcome the sunshine in.

Whenever you select your curtains make sure you get them at least 84″ length, because its best to hang them above your window trim, not level with the trim. Higher is better because it gives your room the illusion of being bigger than it is. I think it feels more “grown up” when the curtains are hung at a proper height. As a rule of thumb you want it to be approximately 6 inches higher than the trim if your ceiling will allow it. If you have low ceilings take the tip of the curtain to just skim your ceiling. If you have really high ceilings you may want to consider purchasing longer curtains like 94″.

My final tip is a doozy. You will never believe what I’m about to tell you but it will give you a lot more options where curtains are concerned. My best tip is to look in the table cloth section for your curtains. You can use long table cloths for curtains. Use the hooks and clip your table cloth to your window, easy peasy. Table cloths tend to be more trendy than window treatments. It’s as though the curtain designers only want to play it safe, but the table cloth designers tend to play it more trendy. Not only will this give you more options it is also a very economical way to decorate your windows.

I hope you try at least one of my tips and then let me know in the comments which one made the biggest impact on you.

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Fall Tree

I have had a tree in my home year-round for about 20 years now. First of all, how did that happen, 20 years, geesh? Regardless of the way time flies by, I enjoy changing the decorations on it when every new season approaches. The styles and decorations have changed over the years, but this is one tradition I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Do you keep a tree up in your home? If yes, that’s awesome tell me all about it.

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It’s Fall Y’all

I love a new change in seasons. It’s like a fresh start, something new to look forward to. One of the ways I like to transition from one season to the next is by decorating with pieces that have the look or feel of the next season. Like this farmers market sign and honey pot. The reference to bees makes them great for summer, yet the warm inviting colors blend wonderfully with my fall decor. Add in a wooden leaf and acorn with some pumpkin stems and I think we’ve got a beautiful fall tablescape. What do you think, is this something you could incorporate?

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Too Ashamed

Read 1 Samuel 12:14-23

Samuel has just finished getting a few things off his chest and in doing so he was able to restore his name, integrity, and reputation.  He also took the opportunity to remind Israel that they asked for a man to replace their heavenly King and their desire was granted.  They are getting exactly what they asked for.

Moving on from the past and now looking toward the future, Samuel continues, letting them know a man will lead the nation, but God will be in control.  He begins to urge his people to serve the Lord, their first love.  He just finished reminding everyone of their past, how sinful and sorrowful it was and how the Lord has forgiven them.  In verse 14 Samuel pleads that it is a privilege to fear, serve, obey the Lord, and live according to his commandments.  Following the Lord is not some duty that we are required to do.  It is a privilege, it’s not something to take for granted and it certainly is not something that everyone can do.  You get to serve the Lord, it is an honor to do that.  You don’t have to obey the Lord, God does not make you do anything.  He wants the best for you and He knows what that is, but His ways do not need to be your ways.  Realizing this is good. 

Samuel first addresses the citizens individually, because they are responsible for their own hearts.  You can serve the Lord even if your government does not.  Then he addresses the citizens and king together.  No one is exempt from God’s rule, He and He alone makes the final decisions, and God alone appoints those he wants in leadership.

Verses 16-18.  The Lord wants to drive into their hearts how offensive it was for them to reject Him.  He wanted to remind them of his power and authority and he did that via a terrible thunderstorm.  Now, thunderstorms aren’t particularly unusual, but this storm is a little different.

Scripture tells us it was the wheat harvest, which takes place between the middle of May through the middle of June.  It was rare to have any rainstorms during this time.  Add to this, Samuel specifically said that he was going to call on the Lord to send thunder and rain and that the people will realize what an evil thing they did in the eyes of the Lord when they asked for a king.  Samuel gave the people fair warning and now they will get to experience the power of God and just how sinful it is to reject Him.

The Bible tells us that none of Samuel’s words fell to the ground and this is another great example of that.  Later that day a huge thunderstorm blew in.  All of the events of the day combined with Samuel’s words and now this storm has the people standing in awe.  Awe as in, a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.  If they didn’t respect the Lord or Samuel before, they sure do now.

The Lord wanted to convince them that asking for a king was wicked.  I think he did a great job of convincing them because they began to fear for their lives.  They begged Samuel to pray to the Lord your God.  Notice they said your God and not our God.  It’s as though they were too ashamed or too afraid to call the Lord their God.  When we hurt or offend someone we don’t always feel as though we can go to them directly to ask for help.  It’s like that with the Lord, when we do wrong before the Lord we don’t always feel as though we have the right to then ask for his help.  They didn’t feel as though they could ask for help, but they knew Samuel could.

They needed Samuel to intercede, stand in the gap for them, they realized they have done a horrible thing and that was added to all the other horrible things they’ve done.  Their sins have piled up so much they fear they are about to die.  Samuel tells them, “Don’t be afraid,  yes, you have done all this evil”, why sugar coat it, right.  “Despite all the evil, don’t turn away from the Lord”.  “Even though you have sinned, don’t make it worse by also turning away from the Lord, just give Him all your heart”.  The only way to make this better is by committing your whole heart to the Lord.  Stop turning to those useless idols, haven’t you learned by now they can’t help you, they can’t rescue you because they are useless.  

Besides, the Lord will not reject you.  He is not going to reject you, you can always turn to Him.  The Lord is happy to make you his people.  You are His tribe, he wants to be with you, and because of that, he will not turn you away when you come to Him completely.  Notice, Samuel says, “but, serve Him with all your heart.”  That is one tall order and most people don’t realize what it means to serve Him with all your heart.  

We’ve learned to carry the cross, but most of us haven’t learned how to climb up on the cross.  We crawl our way to the base of the cross, clinging to it, staring up at it expecting miracles when the Lord requires us to climb onto it so that we can also die on that cross with him.  Gal. 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  A few other scriptures you need to reference are Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:8.

My favorite verse in all of chapter 12 is verses 23-24 because it shows us exactly what it means to be crucified with Christ. 

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Get It Off Your Chest

Read 1 Samuel 12:1-13

Chapter 11 left off with Saul and the Israelites enjoying a great celebration.  The nation banned together and defeated the Ammonites, then they honored Saul as their king and offered sacrifices to the Lord.  What a day of celebration indeed, they had so much to be thankful for.  I mean they had everything they could have ever wanted.  They were living in the land of milk and honey and they had an earthly king.  Yes, everything was falling into place perfectly.

There is one thing that is missing in this picture-perfect scene.  Samuel wasn’t celebrating, he was preoccupied.  Have you ever felt grieved in your spirit?  Have you ever been in a situation where the people around you seem to be in great moods without a care in the world, yet you have a sinking feeling as though something is just not right?  That’s the impression I get when reading this chapter.  Israel and Saul are celebrating, notice there is no mention of Samuel celebrating.  

Something just isn’t settled with Samuel so he gives a public address where he pours his heart out before his people. His Israelites have fully accepted this proud young king to walk before them and it stirs up some insecurities in Samuel, he cannot help but compare himself to Saul.  He can’t ignore the pain he feels from the rejection of his people.

The thing is, just because you are anointed by the Lord and you hold a place of office in the ministry of the Lord does not mean that you have no feelings, or that the words of people don’t sting and inflict pain.  Samuel is a prophet of the Lord, yet the rejection of his people, after all, what he has done for them is difficult for him to ignore.  

Samuel begins to share his heart.  He reminds the congregation how he has walked before them starting in his youth up to this present day, yet they demanded a king take his place.  I’ve given you a king to take my place, he walks before you with all his strength and endurance, he’s everything you hoped for in a king.  You all are excited and proud of this man.  He remembers how the people once looked at him that way.  

Samuel goes on, “Now I’m old and feeble.  Not able to perform hard labor anymore.  I’m a worn-out public servant that you all have cast aside for a new man”.  The elder’s harsh words about his age, physical abilities, and even his sons are a sore point, and Samuel addresses’ all that here.  He is painfully aware of his sons’ lack of reverence for the Lord, yet the elders thought it was something they needed to remind him of.  It’s always interesting how “concerned” church people think they need to remind ministers of their shortcomings.

Samuel is still the Prophet over Israel, however, his job description is changing, because he will no longer be the sole authority over this nation.  As if he is putting himself on trial he begins to defend himself.  “Here I stand, testify against me”.  I imagine him looking up toward heaven saying “before the Lord”, then immediately shifting his focus toward Saul, “and his anointed”.  He puts himself on trial before the people who are his accusers.  The Lord and Saul will be the judges.  This will be the first time the word anointed is used as a reference to a king which points to the future king Jesus.  

Samuel begins to demand that if he has committed any crimes or offenses that now is their opportunity to come forward.  The main driving force here is that Samuel was a man of integrity, honesty, and impeccable morals.  He has never defiled his reputation or the office which he held, yet the people wanted him replaced.  They had no bases to replace him, yet they wanted someone else to lead them.  He asks a series of questions which in his mind would give them a valid reason to have him dismissed.  He asks if he has ever stolen, committed fraud, or oppressed them in any way. 

Of course, the answer to those questions is a resounding no.  To make it official, Samuel once again calls on the Lord and his anointed to agree as witnesses the people have cleared the name and character of Samuel.  Do you realize how huge this is?  This is epic.  

Let me make this situation a little bit more relatable.  In our day this would be equivalent to a preacher, minister, evangelist who has gained popularity among Christians because they carry the anointing of the Lord.  Then along comes people who perhaps are jealous, or just plain miserable who decide to sow weeds by assaulting the minister’s character.  They either outright blame ministers of sin or they raise suspicions which in some ways is worse because you become even more scrutinized.   

Samuel was able to clear his name.  Any person whose character suffered criticism would love to have this opportunity.  Samuel not only cleared his name but the entire kingdom bore witness to just how upright this man was.  It is difficult to read this and not be happy for Samuel.  The man dedicated his life, he felt like he was cast aside and suspicions were surrounding him based on his sons’ lack of integrity.  Yet, here he stands before God and king with an impeccable reputation.  

(vs. 7) Samuel’s character has been established, but he has a few more things he needs to get off his chest.  The people assumed Samuel was finished and they started moving around, he was losing their attention and he tells them to stand still.  “Don’t go anywhere”, he says.  “I’m not done with you yet”.  Samuel confronts the nation and reminds them of all the benefits they received from the Lord.  He points out how they rejected the Lord and despite that, the Lord has shown mercy toward them, Samuel gives several examples of various calamities that came over Israel and how the Lord delivered them.  

As soon as the Israelites were aware of their sin and rebellion they would return to their first love.  The Lord was always quick to come to their rescue.  He was moved with mercy and compassion for those misguided people and He would defeat their enemy for them.  Samuel even reminds them that he was the one who interceded on their behalf to gain victory over the Philistines.  It was because of him that they didn’t continue to attack.

Regardless of all that, it was their most recent situation that was most hurtful.  The Ammonites began putting pressure on the Israelites and instead of seeking the Lord as their king, and instead of trusting Samuel’s position, they asked for a man to be their king instead.  They rejected Samuel as their Godly representative and rejected God as their king.                                

They tied the Lord’s hands so he gave his children what they wanted.  They wanted a king, he appointed a king.

Now here stands Samuel next to Saul (vs 13).  Samuel lifting his hand toward Saul, nodding his head he says, “Now, here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.” 

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Don’t Go It Alone

Read 1 Samuel 11

In this chapter, we see how Saul steps into his position as king by taking a stand against the Ammonites, protecting his people, and earning their respect.

This story begins with a man named Nahash who was the king of the children of Ammon.  The Ammonites and Moabites are both descendants of the same ancestor whose name is Lot, Abrahams’s brother.  The Ammonites have a problem with Israel, they claim Israel had taken a portion of their territory.  This belief led them to, during the days of Judges, harass the people.  One of the ways they did this was by gouging out the right eye of every man.  It was the Hebrew judge Jephthah who led an attack against them, defeating them.  Fast forward to the time of Saul and King Nahash is still bitter about the disgrace his people faced during that defeat.  

Nahash looks at this moment to be the best time to seek revenge.  Samuel the current judge is old and on the edge of retirement and Saul, the newly appointed king is inexperienced and viewed as weak.  The territory of Jabesh-Gilead bordered the Ammonite land so the king decided to begin the harassment by surrounding that city.  

Decades before when the Ammonites were wreaking havoc about 7,000 Israelites fled to Jabesh-Gilead and found sanctuary there.  They were well aware of the devastation the Ammonites could inflict on them.  They also may have felt that their isolation from the rest of their people left them without protection.  This fear caused them to partner with the enemy.  They partnered with the enemy instead of trusting their God.  They believed the enemy would be honorable and stay true to his word, they hoped he would extend mercy to them if they agreed to live under his authority.  

Nahash was willing to take them up on their offer under one condition.  He wanted revenge and he wanted to bring disgrace on Israel.  He agreed, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”  The elders hesitate a bit over this condition, in response, they ask for a grace period to think about it.  The elders ask for seven days, agreeing if no one comes to their rescue they will surrender to Nahash.  

This conversation is interesting to me.  The Israelites ask Nahash to work with them, hoping this would get him to ease up on his harassment.  Nahash gives them a yes, with one condition.  The Israelites must have been insulted with that condition so they tell the king they will agree after seven days and only if no one comes to their rescue.  The Israelites believe that Saul or even Samuel would come to their rescue.  When I think about this conversation I imagine Nahash scoffing at the elders and rolling his beady eyes.  As I said earlier he doesn’t see the current leadership as being a threat to him and he turns this into a bit of a cat/mouse game.  

The Jabesh-Gilead was stuck between a rock and a hard place and that caused them to put their fear aside and reach out for help.  They sent messengers to Gibeah of Saul or Saul’s hometown.  This horrible news caused the people to weep loudly throughout the city.       

Do you know the Lord hears the cries of His people?  The Lord heard the cries of his children over this threat and He moved, He moved big time, it says so right here in vs. 6, “When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger”.  This would be righteous anger, anger that moves against the enemy and is powered by the will of God.  There are a plethora of stories in the Bible telling how the Spirit of the Lord would settle on Israel’s judges causing an immediate and unusual surge of power that would give them the ability to successfully defend their people and to defeat the enemy. 

That is what is happening to Saul in this story.  The Spirit fell and Saul was endued with extraordinary wisdom, valor, and power to stand against his enemy.  It’s interesting because everything Saul did was in the natural, meaning, he didn’t do anything particularly supernatural, yet God settled on him to make it possible. Everything Saul did could have been done by anyone else, it wasn’t a special skill to chop an ox into pieces.  A supernatural ability was not needed to send messengers to the other tribes.  

During biblical days, credit was given to the Lord for all acts of protection, and intervention even though it was through man, no matter how supernatural or basic it seemed.  God was given credit.  In today’s modern world we tend to give credit to the man for using his wisdom and instincts rather than giving credit to God.  We tend to knock the move of the Lord down a few pegs rather than exalting the move of the Lord.  We dumb down our testimonies of what the Lord has done, rather than declaring that this is what the Lord has done.  This is the Spirit of the Lord at work.

While what Saul physically did was not incredibly superhuman, he did use divine wisdom and divine knowledge.  Saul was on his way back to his farm following behind his oxen.  Once he heard the news of the threat to his people, he took those oxen and cut them into 11 pieces, then had them Fed-exed throughout Israel, one to each of the other tribes.  This was seen as a war cry, it was a way of rallying the troops.  Opening the box and seeing the chunk of beef was just the visual the people needed to be awakened to fight their enemy, to stand as one nation under God.  

The box also contained a message, a public address if you will.  Saul declared, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.”  First of all, Samuel isn’t finished yet, and I love that Saul includes him, he recognizes that he still needs Samuel to mentor him, he still has room to grow and he needs Samuel’s anointing to do it.  Secondly, this is why I think this action showed divine wisdom and knowledge.  The Lord knows the heart of his people, and he knows what will get them to move into action.  Apparently, the thought of having their oxen chopped up into thick steaks is what moved them into action.  

Saul managed to muster together 330,000 men in Bezek.  The plan came together and the details were worked out.  By the time the sun was hot the next day, they would be there to rescue them from the hands of the Ammonites. The elders in Jabesh-Gilead did not want the king to develop any suspicions so they lied to him.  Yes, people told lies and those lies are recorded in the Bible.  We are not supposed to lie, but there are very specific times in the Bible when lies were used to defeat an enemy.  I suppose there are always people who have no problem lying and they will be used by the Lord too.

Saul separated his troops into three divisions and sometime between 2 and 6 AM they began their attack.  This battle raged until about noon.  The slaughtering lasted for many hours, any remaining Ammonites were scattered so much that no two of them were left together.   

Saul and Samuel stood as a united front.  Together they represent both the physical strength and spiritual strength of the Lord.  Together they are a team and together they are leading this nation.  So I leave you with this thought, who are you partnering with?  Who does the Lord want you to team up with?    

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You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

Read 1Samuel 10:11-27

Saul has recently undergone a tremendous transformation.  He was first anointed and then after a series of miraculous events he joined in with a group of prophets who were worshipping the Lord.  When Saul joined the prophets he allowed his heart to be fully committed to the Lord, he began worshiping, he even spoke the word of God which is a way of prophesying.  This transformation took place in Saul’s hometown and it did not go unnoticed.  People will notice a difference in you when you allow yourself to freely serve the Lord.  Saul wasn’t the most religious man so when the other citizens witnessed Saul worshiping with the prophets it got their attention.  Saul became the talk of the town and it was clear he was not acting like his old self.

The dialogue between the two citizens in vs. 11-12 is interesting because they are attempting to figure this out.  They have a hard time believing that Saul the son of Kish would ever be found in a group of prophets.  “How can someone so undistinguished as Kish raise a son to be a prophet?”  “How can Kish’s son be selected to receive this divine gift?”  The second man has an answer.  He answers with another question, pointing to the group of prophets he asks, “Who is their father?”  Those men weren’t born with those gifts any more than Saul was.  They were given their gift of prophecy from the Eternal.  Saul’s change of heart came from the Lord, not his earthly father.  Parents don’t always raise their children in the Lord, which seems to be the case with Saul.  

Once Saul came down from his spiritual high he went to the high place.  Saul was anointed with oil, he was anointed with the spirit of the Lord.  The only thing left for him was to go and sit in the presence of God of heaven.  I like vs. 13.  “After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.”  Do you remember what it was like with your first encounter with the presence of the Lord?  How you just wanted to more and more of Him, it was easy to go to church because you were hungry for the Lord.  I think that is where Saul is in this scene.

Eventually, Saul does come down from the High place and meets up with his uncle Abner who is his father’s brother.  It appears that Kish (Saul’s dad) was content with the return of his donkeys and his son’s eventual return, but that wasn’t the case with uncle Abner.  Abner seems to be a bit restless, a bit sketchy which makes me wonder if he hadn’t already heard the details about the honor Samuel had given to Saul?  He begins to put the pieces together, the honor, the noticeable change in Saul’s behavior, and something that just does not add up.

Abner confronts Saul and his servant, he asks them where they went. Saul doesn’t lie, but he is smart enough to not give out all the details which is a huge lesson we can learn from.  God doesn’t always want you blabbing about His plans for you.  Sometimes he wants you to keep your mouth shut until the appropriate time.  

Verse 17 takes us back to Samuel and we learn what needed to take place before Saul officially takes his position.  Back in vs. 8 Samuel told Saul in seven days he would come to meet him in Gilgal, they would do their offerings and sacrifices and then he would tell him what to do next.  During those seven days, Samuel called a national assembly in Mizpah.  This national press release was not called so the citizens could vote on a leader.  This assembly was called so that Samuel could declare the man God chose to be king.  

The announcement begins with a reminder of all God of Heaven has done to protect his people.  How God alone set them free from the oppression of a human king.  Yet, here they are rejecting the Eternal as their King, demanding a man to take his place.  Never mind the fact that God saved them from their calamities and disasters, They think they know best and because of their insistence, God will give them what they ask for.  

The Lord called forward a representative of each tribe and clan to come forward.  Once brought forward they began to cast lots.  Now my understanding of casting lots wasn’t a form of gambling but rather in the Old Testament, it was a way of God’s plan being made known.  What was drawn out of the bucket is what God established for that clan, their fate so to speak.  The more modern form of this would be to draw “straws” or “sticks”, the shortest one wins or loses depending on how you’re looking at it.      

Samuel called each tribe forward one at a time to pull their “lot” from the bowl.  One after another each tribe and clan went through the system.  I suppose they were each eager to pull their name out in hopes that they would be the first king of Israel.  No tribe was chosen except for the tribe of Benjamin.  After being narrowed down this tribe, the next step was to determine which family the king will come from.  This was determined the same way and finally, it came down to the family members and of course, the “lot” fell on Saul.  “Saul the son of Kish was taken.”  Saul’s name was pulled out with the winning ticket.  He was called forward but the man was nowhere to be found.  This is a monumental moment in history and the chosen one wasn’t there to accept his fate.  

People set out immediately to find Saul with no luck.  They began to wonder if he was even at the meeting in the first place, so they (very smartly) ask the Lord if he was even there.  The Lord answers, “yes and he is hiding between the stuff”.  I love that KJV uses the word “stuff”, don’t we just love to surround ourselves with “stuff” instead of stepping into what the Lord has called us to do.  We use our “stuff” as some great excuses.  We use our “stuff” as a scapegoat.  It won’t work, if you haven’t figured this out yet take it from me, it will not work.  

Saul had seven long days to think about what God was asking him to do and he felt unworthy of it.  He lacked confidence.  He didn’t have time to train for this position, he wasn’t sure he could figure this out.  He didn’t have a plan to move forward, he didn’t even know how to plan for what lies ahead.  The problem with confidence is it can be self-serving, meaning our lack of confidence is us focusing on ourselves when we should have full confidence in God.  We should be focusing on God, not ourselves.    

The other problem Saul faced is he was changing his family tree, changing history.  I heard an interesting phrase this week, “The first one through the window gets bloody.”  Sounds morbid I know, but think about it.  The Lord is calling you to something that has never been done before or at least has never been done in your family and your thoughts of incompetence and doubt work against you, keeping you bound tight too afraid to step out.  When you are trying to change your family tree you face new territory and you’re going to have some battle wounds to show for it, but once you’ve plowed the way through it will be so much easier for your children and grandchildren to follow along.  You just have to want the dream the Lord has placed inside you more than the familiar life the world binds you in.

Saul was found among the stuff and was brought forward to stand before his nation as the first-ever King of Israel.  He stood taller than any other citizen, his heart was turned to the Lord and the Lord’s favor was on him.  The people shouted, “Long live the king!” Samuel read to the people the role of the king what was to be expected, then he dismissed everyone to return home.  Saul returned home with a group of valiant men.  These men were God-fearing men and they are stationed to assist the new king.  

Unfortunately, not everyone is eager to submit to the men or women who are placed into a leadership position by God.  Saul is no exception, there was a group of scoundrels who despised him.  A group of good-for-nothing men refuses to submit to his authority.     

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Raise Your Voice in Worship

Read 1 Samuel 10:1-9

The next morning as Saul and his servant prepare to journey back home, Samuel calls to them on the roof letting them know that whenever they are ready he wants to send them off.  Samuel had one more word from the Lord that he needed to release to Saul, so he had Samuel send his servant ahead of him.  As for Saul, Samuel asked him to stay for a while longer.

Samuel proceeds to anoint Saul’s head with oil.  He pulls out a vial of oil, most likely balsam oil, and begins to pour it over him.  Throughout the bible, there are a few instances where kings are consecrated by anointing.  The act Samuel is performing is a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah.  The name Messiah comes from the Hebrew word “Mashiach” which means anointed one or chosen one.  Samuel will soon step down as judge, prophet, and priest.  Saul will soon step into the position of King.  The “Messiah”, Jesus, united all three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.

Samuel then kisses Saul as a sign of reverence and as a way of paying homage.  In more modern terms he congratulated Saul on the office he was given and also as a sign that he was willingly handing over to him the task of running the government.  Then he makes a declaration.  

I imagine Saul giving Samuel this look of complete astonishment.  Looking at Samuel like he had a few screws loose, wondering what in the world he was doing.  Only priests were anointed with this oil and yet here he is pouring it down over his head and congratulating him on his new life.  Samuel notices the look on Saul’s face and answering the unasked questions he states, “You wonder why I’m anointing you and honoring you with my deepest respect, is it not because you are chosen?”  I’ll put it another way, “Do you still not understand that you have been chosen, you are the chosen one”.   

Sometimes we need more convincing especially when the Lord takes us in a different direction than what we were expecting.  I love how the Lord does just that in verses 2-7.  The Lord gives Samuel a word of knowledge for Saul.  This message includes three very specific events that will take place one after another.  These are going to be signs that will convince Saul that God has his hand on him and this is his doing.  These three events will further consecrate young Saul.  Each of these three signs was meant to increase Saul’s faith and build his trust in Samuel.  Each site contains historical significance and is a strong reminder that help comes from the holy place.

Sign 1:  Saul will be in the area of Zelzah, specifically near the tomb of Rachel, where two men will come out to meet him.  They are going to tell him the donkeys he was looking for have been found, but now his father is worried about him.  Whenever a prophet or someone claiming to be a prophet gives you a message it’s always a good idea to test it because that is how you know they are legit speaking on behalf of the Lord.  The way to prove a prophet is real is by what they say; if it comes true they are real prophets.  

In this case, the Lord is working both through Samuel and the two men near Rachel’s tomb.  The men may have just heard about Saul’s worried father, perhaps they recognized him from a few days ago.  Either way, the Lord orchestrated for them to meet at this exact moment to fulfill this message.  God will work out all the details when it is His plan.

Sign 2:  This sign has even more specific details in it.  Terebinth tree of Tabor; three men; three young goats; three loaves of bread; a skin of wine.  The men will also greet Saul and give him two loaves of their bread.  All are specific details that could be verified leaving no room to question the validity of Samuels prediction whatsoever.   

These three men were on their way to Bethel to be with the Lord and with them they carried sacrifices and offerings.  The sacrifices were the young goats and the wine.  The bread was set aside for their offering.  Do you remember what I’ve been saying over the past several weeks?  It seems to be my new mantra, whenever you go to see one of the Lord’s anointed you are to give an offering to them.  Well, it says in verse 4 they gave Saul two loaves of bread.  These men under typical circumstances would not give a stranger two loaves of their bread, yet they did exactly that.  They gave what was set aside as an offering to the man that carried the Lord’s anointing.  

Sign 3:  The third sign Saul was to experience came in the form of a school of prophets engaging in what is described to be like a parade.  By the time Saul meets up with the prophets, he will be back in his hometown.  In Saul’s hometown is a Philistine outpost.  It appears even though the Israelites chased the Philistines off their land they eventually began to infiltrate themselves back in.  Remember back in chapter 9 verse 16 Samuel mentioned that Saul would be the one to deliver his people from the Philistines.  They started worming their way back in louring the Israelites into temptation. 

I’m excited about the procession of prophets coming down from the high place.  The commentaries all seem to agree that they are students who belong to a “school of prophets”.  One of the accomplishments Samuel is most known for is his building these prophetic schools which in actuality are more like universities.  He understood that special care and training are needed when it comes to utilizing these special callings.  This became a safe place for the students to develop morally and mentally not just in biblical knowledge but also in education in general.  Many of these prophets became public preachers while others acquired jobs based on their literary skills.

As for the third sign, Saul met up with the group of prophets who were worshipping with music and it says they were prophesying.  People tend to lump prophecy into fortune-telling, this is most likely not what they were doing here.  The group of prophets was playing their musical instruments.  Instruments are a vital part of worship, we see this throughout the bible.  They raised their voices in worship by singing.  This likely sounded like words of highest praise to Jehovah being shouted and proclaimed boldly.  Perhaps like a chant mixed with words of praise spoken in tune with the instruments.  

When you sing a song that contains words of scripture, that would be a form of prophesying.  Singing songs about days gone by no matter how spiritual they appear is not speaking prophetically, the Lord wants us to sing a new song. I picture this scene to be one of deep worship and connections to God of Heaven.  Worshipping in this manner opens spiritual doorways.  For Saul it caused him to leave behind his past and opened the door to his future as the king of Israel.  Saul raised his voice louder and louder; more and more fervently and as he did his heart (vs. 9) began to change.  Worshipping the Lord outwardly literally changes your heart.  Saul was not a particularly religious man, yet the Lord touched his heart.  Samuel poured the anointing oil on his head but it wasn’t until Saul poured out his whole heart and soul in thanksgiving to God that the Spirit of the Lord settled on him.   

The filling of the Lord’s Spirit on Saul suddenly equipped him with skills, courage, wisdom, everything he needed to lead his nation.  Previously he wasn’t qualified to serve in this capacity, but with the Lord’s spirit, he became qualified.  Once those three signs were fulfilled the only thing left for Saul to do is to wait seven days for Samuel to come and visit him and tell him what to do next.    

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Searching for Donkeys

Read 1 Samuel 9:1-25

Genealogy was extremely important in ancient times, it gave a man validation especially when it came to sitting on the throne.  Here we read about Saul’s ancestors and we learn that they are mighty men of power, not necessarily men of God, but rather a strong and able-bodied family.  Out of that line is born Saul.  Saul is described as being a “choice” and a “goodly”; in all Israel, there was not a “goodlier” person than he. 

What this description means is Saul was a personable man, he was tall and had an athletic build.  He displayed all the outward characteristics desirable in a king during ancient times.  The people of that time didn’t look at a man to rule based on his integrity or knowledge, but purely on his looks.  They wanted their king to look like their fake gods as much as possible.  We should want a leader who looks like God, instead, they look for men who are like their made-up deities and Saul fits the description.

Saul was like most men in that era, they would serve their fathers, follow in their footsteps in taking care of their land and families, doing whatever was necessary.  In this story, Saul needed to go out and look for some of their missing donkeys and he took with him a servant, not a slave, this man worked for the family of his own accord.  In those days donkeys were very valuable, much like horses today, only people of quality would ride on the donkeys so it was very important to find them.

Saul and his servant set out looking for the donkeys, going from town to town searching field after field.  After traveling for miles and miles Saul decides it’s probably best to return home, he did not want his father to begin to worry about his whereabouts.  As a last-ditch effort, Saul’s servant recalls hearing about a man who everything he says comes true.  He’s thinking this man could point them in the right direction to finding the donkeys.

Starting at vs. 7 is where the story starts to get interesting.  Samuel thinks it’s a good idea, while they are in town, to go and see this well-respected man.  The only problem was he could not go empty-handed.  The custom was and I believe this should still be customary, is anytime you go to visit a man or woman in which you wish to gain guidance, especially if they are anointed by the Lord, you should give them a present or an offering.  They are good soil and you are wanting a harvest, so you should plant a seed in expectation for what God is going to do for you through that person.  Saul didn’t know what he was going to gain when he blessed Samuel with this seed of faith but God knew and I’d say he reaped a humongous harvest.  Sow into good soil!

The servant held out the last ¼ from a silver coin, suggesting they use this to give to the man of God.   Saul agrees with this and off they go into the city to see the prophet.  As they began their uphill climb they noticed young, unmarried women going out to the well so they stopped to ask if the seer was here.   

“Yes, he is”, they replied, but Saul needed to hurry so he didn’t miss him.  He is scheduled to go up to the temple place and bless a sacrificial meal.  This is one of the first instances where asking for a blessing or saying “grace” over a meal is written in the Bible.  

Just as the women predicted when Saul entered the city Samuel was coming towards them, he was on his way up to the holy place.  What Saul does not know is the day before the Lord told Samuel he was going to send to him a man from Benjamin.  He also told him that he wanted him to anoint this man to be the first-ever ruler over Israel, that he will be the one to deliver them out of the hands of the Philistines.  

It is now the next day and the moment Samuel laid eyes on Saul the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”  Saul is the man the Lord told Samuel about the day before.

Saul had no idea what the Lord was planning or that Samuel was expecting him and he inquired as to where the “seers” house is.  Samuel answered, “I am the seer”, and he invites Saul and his servant up to the high place to eat with him.  He also mentions that he is going to tell him all that is in his heart and that he and his whole family will be the desire of all of Israel.  Saul needs to be told what is in his heart because he doesn’t yet know.  He has no idea of what his future will look like or the power that he has within him.  

Saul is looking at his current lifestyle and it is so far removed from what Samuel is saying that it’s unfathomable.  All Israel desires to have a king like all the other nations around them and Saul fits the criteria.  You can tell by his reply that he was in amazement at the suggestion.  He is a Benjamite the smallest tribe in all of Israel and within that tribe, his family was the least of all families.  Saul had a difficult time understanding exactly what Samuel meant, he questioned him, “why are you saying this to me?”  Samuel doesn’t answer he just leads him to the parlor where he points to the chief seat, the most prominent seat at the table of 30 other men waiting to eat.       

As for the beginning of vs. 20, that is a word of knowledge.  Saul did not mention to Samuel that he was on the search for missing donkeys.  He only asked if he was the seer.  The Lord told Samuel to tell Saul that he didn’t need to worry about the donkeys anymore because they were found.  A word of knowledge is one way the Lord will get the attention of certain people.  The Lord reveals personal information to a prophetic person so they can prove they are speaking on behalf of the Lord.

Once Saul and his servant are seated at the head of the table, Samuel turns to the cook and requests for the special portion, previously set aside, to be placed before Saul.  This was the choicest piece, the best piece of meat set aside and given to Saul as a reference to Saul being the chosen man to make the change that was about to take place in Israel.    

Dinner was a huge hit, the guests were well fed and happy.  Samuel and Saul head back to Samuel’s home where they sit on the rooftop balcony.  Remembering that Samuel said he would tell Saul everything in his heart.  Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall of this conversation?  Apparently, this was a very private conversation and we are not privy to it.  My best guess is the conversation was more about what was in God’s heart versus Saul’s.  Samuel most likely used this time to convince Saul that he was the man God wanted to be the first-ever king.  Isn’t it interesting how different our plans can be from the plans the Lord has for us?  Saul was literally the only man who went out looking for donkeys and returned home as a king. 

The next morning as Saul and his servant prepare to journey back home, Samuel calls to them on the roof letting them know that whenever they are ready he wants to send them off.  Samuel had one more word from the Lord that he needed to share with him.

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Giving Up Freedom

Read 1 Samuel 8:1-22

It is estimated that from the battle in chapter 7 until now approximately 20 more years have passed.  Making Samuel at least in his fifties, possibly close to sixty.  At any rate, the man is in a season of life when he needs to begin to delegate his workload.  Samuel chose to appoint his two sons Joel and Abijah as judges in the area of Beersheba which is located in the southern territories and it appears that Samuel kept his office in the area of Ramah.    Notice he did not make them high priests only God has the authority to do that.  Samuels sons don’t appear to be as corrupt as Eli’s sons, they messed with the Lord’s sacrifices, however, they were corrupt judges non the less.  Joel and Abijah would take bribes.  They received money that swayed their judgment, they no longer judged their cases fairly and honestly.

Verse 4 tells us the elders of Israel got together, traveling to Ramah to meet with Samuel.  The scripture written here reflects the heartbreak and focus of Samuel as he wrote these words.  It’s almost as if you can feel his emotions welling up.  Samuels sons were not the sole reason the elders were frustrated, but it seems to be the most disappointing aspect for Samuel.  

The Israelites under Joel and Abijah were experiencing disunion and jealousy among the various tribes.  Their authority was limited and not consistent.  There was also a concern for Samuel’s age and the fact that he would not be able to lead them much longer and as far as they could tell the Lord has not raised up another high priest judge to take his place. On top of all this, they are beginning to receive threats of invasion from the Amorite king.  

They want a king, they want one central form of government and they begin to make this known to Samuel because they trusted he would make the right decision for the people despite his personal interest or even personal feelings.  The elders were not out of line to request a king according to Deut 17:14, it’s as though Moses predicted this would happen, more like the Lord knew this would happen and had Moses include it in his laws.  

Naturally, Samuel was displeased with this request but as a prophet-seer, he did what we all should do when faced with stressful decisions, he turned to the Lord in prayer.  I always find it interesting when the Lord answers us in a way we do not want to hear.  I’m sure Samuel was not expecting the Lord to tell him to give the people a king.  Samuel saw this request as a rejection and it was, it was a rejection of their invisible king, not Samuel.  They used Samuel as the excuse, he was their scapegoat and that was painful, yet the Lord reassured Samuel that it wasn’t him they were rejecting.

God is not surprised by their rejections at all.  He has dealt with it since he first placed his favor on them and led them out of Egypt.  The Israelites have given the Lord one big long series of ingratitude and rebellion against Him and the people he provided as intercessors for Him.  They did it to Moses, they did it to Aaron and now they are doing it to Samuel.  

God told Samuel to give them what they wanted, but before doing so, give them a fair warning of the reality of how things will be.  You see the grass on the other side is looking greener to them, but what they don’t realize is the grass is planted on a septic tank.  Currently, they are under the rule of a God who loves them and makes their best interest His priority.  The citizens are asking to be like all the other nations.  Their current government allows them to make decisions based on God’s word, but they are asking for a change to their governmental structure, one that will make them depend on man-made systems and structures that deliberately take away their freedoms and liberty to follow and trust in the Lord.

They were willing to exchange their Republican freedom for that of a sovereign like those foreign kings who threaten to attack or like Pharoah who held them as slaves.  It does not make sense that they would want to go back to that lifestyle after experiencing freedom.  

Samuel paints a very vivid picture for the elders.  He warns them of how it will be.  Here is the thing, Samuel is telling them word for word what the Lord says will happen.  This is prophecy, this isn’t just a warning, this is straight-up going to happen if they continue seeking an alternative form of government. 

I’ll put it in more common wording for our modern American way of understanding.  The people wanted a government that would take care of them, they wanted a better life and they didn’t want to depend on the Lord for it.  So they started a campaign for a government that gave them free healthcare, free education, free food, free paychecks.  Samuel then gave them a warning of what this would truly mean for them, warned them of what their lives will be like, not could, will be like.

Samuel began to point out some hard truths about their neighbors.  Truths of how their citizens are at their disposal for court retainers, military positions.  They would also be required to work for the government in any and all ways they appointed them from gardening their private estates to personal housekeeping, they could no longer choose their profession.  Any and all property the citizens owned would be seized and deemed governmental property, they would no longer own their land or homes they would only rent if they are deemed worthy enough by the government. They will be forced to work without a fair wage or any wage at all.

He makes a special mention of the horrible treatment of women.  Most ungodly nations do not honor women the way the Lord does.  They will not be safe in their family homes because the government can come in and take them away to work as slaves in whatever position they decided on.  

Basically, under this new form of government, you will have no life.  Rejecting the rule of God in your life will leave you with no life.  Vs. 18 says, on that day you will cry out because of the king you have chosen and the Lord will not hear you.  Vs. 19 tells us nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel.  Saying, “Naah, we’d rather have a king rule over us.  They would rather, willingly put themselves out of the Lord’s protection.  They are choosing this.  They would rather be judged by a man born to sin than the holy Lord.  

They longed to be like other nations.  How many times have I heard how other nations do this and do that.  If you want to be like other nations go live in those nations.  There is a reason other people run to our nation, yet people still keep crying out for our government to do things like other nations.  Look at Israel’s history over this one decision.  It’s a tragic story.     

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Balaam Couldn’t Curse Israel But God Could

Read 1 Samuel 7:1-17

The ark of the covenant of God has been passed around from city to city for months now and finally, it’s going to live in a more permanent home in the land of Kiriath Jearim.  The ark was carried to the property of Abinadab.  This location was most likely chosen because it sits at the top of a hill allowing the temple where the ark will be housed to be seen from every angle throughout the land.  They would easily be able to face the location of the temple during times of prayer.  Given the catastrophe at Beth Shemesh, this time the Israelites gave a great deal of thought in keeping the laws and giving the ark its due honor.  

Abinadab and Eleazar his son were not Levites, they were not ordained to be priests.  Eleazor was “sanctified” or “consecrated”, he was set apart to take care of the ark.  His job was to guard and maintain the environment around it. 

The ark of God remained in this city for a total of twenty years.  But those twenty years were not joyful or peaceful.  Verse 2 uses the phrase lamented after the Lord.  Verse 3 gives us some of the reasons the Israelites lamented.  You see, the Israelites did not give to their Lord all of their heart.  Their hearts were torn between serving the Lord and living like the rest of the world.  They continued dabbling with “strange gods” and with Ashtoreth which represents goddesses.  

Just because the Philistines returned the ark did not mean they loosened their hold on the previously conquered people.  The hand of the Philistines pressed heavily on the Israelites, they continued with the oppression.  The Israelites were destroyed in battle, the holy ark was captured, Eli’s death was sudden and tragic.  The final blow was the total destruction of Shiloh, leaving the once vital city of worship desolate.

Yes, the Hebrew people lamented, they expressed their sorrows in profound ways for twenty years.  Twenty years!  Then all the people turned back to the Lord.  But what happened during the twenty years?  It wasn’t easy peasy, vs. 3 brings Samuel onto the scene.  During this time Samuel was laboring to make things right with the Lord.

Various commentaries depict Samuel during this time as living as though he were a fugitive of sorts.  We know he traveled from city to city teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.  We also know that not all those cities wanted to live according to God’s laws.  Samuel received a great deal of pushback from his own people.  Nevertheless, he kept the course and gradually began to stir his people to understand just how great their sins are in the eyes of God.  He was striving to renew their trust and to return their hearts to their first love.  As he traveled, Samuel began to see different degrees of this happening throughout the land and it gave him hope for a future restoration.  

Samuel understood something that most people do not.  He understood that God punishes his people for their sins by withdrawing his protection.  The Philistines were putting pressure on because the Lord lifted His protection on the Israelites.  God will put bad leaders in charge of nations if need be, to get the attention of His people.  Samuel worked tirelessly to establish the word and will of God, believing they would repent.  Their repentance would restore Jehovah as their king and He would deliver them from their enemies. 

Samuel’s preaching is relevant today.  “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, and rid yourselves of the sin of the world, commit yourselves to serve Him only, he will deliver you out of the hand of the enemies.”  The idols and Ashtoreths are the specific sins of this time period.  To us, they represent all sin.  In the days of Samuel, the Baalim and Ashtoreth represented two pagan deities.   As long as the Jews held onto these idols it gave the Philistines a foothold to oppress them.  The idols represented a compromising heart, a divided heart is their sin. 

The Baalim was formerly a prophet who was hired by Balaak, the king of the Moabites to curse Israel.  After seven attempts and the Lord literally controlling his mouth to only speak blessings, he gave up.  God would not allow any curses to be spoken over his people, only blessings were established.  The plan of attack changed.  Balaam created a new plan to seduce the weaker Israelite men.  He sent in beautiful Moabite women to seduce the Jewish men (Num 25:1-3) with sex.  Ultimately the women invited the men to join them on dates to an idol sacrifice causing the men to eat a sacrificial meal, they then bowed down before their gods.  Israel was now yoked to Baal.  Balaam knew that if the men were seduced into idol worship then God himself would curse them (Num. 31:16).  Balaam couldn’t curse Israel but God could.  

It appears that something similar may have infiltrated their society yet again.  Balaam was a prophet who became idolized for his sneaky plan.  Today we see evidence of his sexual tempting spirit in various ways, from workplace flirtation to porn and even rape.  It is all designed to pull your heart away from full dedication to the Lord.  Any amount of division of your loyalty is still division and God will not allow it.

Samuel urged the Hebrew people to give all their hearts to the Lord and to serve Him only.  That is exactly what they began to do, as their hearts were convicted they began to cast down their idols.  They stopped traveling to the Philistine cities to worship in the idol sex temples.  They tore down all idols they built inside Israel.  The Philistines saw this as an overt act of rebellion and a huge insult.  Another way the God of heaven overruled their fake gods.  Their anger was stirred up and they began to plot their next attack.

Samuel, hearing the talk of war, calls the Israelites to assemble at Mizpah.  Mizpah means watchtower, it is a type of place where they would gather together to watch out for the advancing enemy.  Mizpah seems to be Samuel’s commencement to judgeship over both civil and military affairs.  Since his birth Samuel was trained to be the next judge and high priest over Israel, this is his breakthrough moment.  After twenty years of living in what seemed like obscurity, he is now in a position to lead both the military and the spiritual affairs of his people and he begins to do just that.  

God works in the order he established, his moves can be beautifully predictable when you understand his ways.  The first thing God wants for each and everyone of us is to repent, to turn our hearts to him for either the very first time or the twentieth.  That being said, it is not by coincidence that there is revival taking place here in chapter 7.  This story took place during the season of Teshuva.  This is exciting not only for Samuel and the Isrealites but for us today because we are literally in that season right now.  Teshuva is the days of return and repentance.  How awesome is our God of heaven that he planned for us to study this particular story at this exact time in our lives?  I believe we are in fact participating in the prophecies of people in the last days returning back to God.  

Samuel called together the people of Israel to physically meet in one location, he called them to do a corporate fast, then he interceded for them.  He stood in the gap between the people and the Lord decreeing the word of God over them.  Vs. 4 The Israelites, “served the Lord only”, vs. 6 says, “on that day they fasted and there they confessed.”  I can almost hear the moaning and travailing of each Israelite while Samuel prayed to God of heaven.  How cleansing this must have been for this great nation.  

While the house cleaning took place inside the hearts of the Jews the Philistines, the enemy, began to close in (vs. 7).  They caught wind that all of Israel was assembled at Mizpah and they engaged in their plan of attack.  They were sitting ducks, as good as dead, begging Samuel “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”  Vs. 9 “He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.”   

As the sweet aroma of their sacrifices rose to the Lord, the Philistines drew near to engage in battle, but that day the “Lord thundered” literally with a loud thunder causing the Philistines to go into major panic mode.  The Israelites rushed out of Mizpah pursuing the enemy, slaughtering them along the way.  The Lord led them to victory because they cleaned up their mess, removed their sin, they returned their hearts back to the Lord and he returned his glory to his people.  His hand remained against the Philistines, they were subdued all throughout Samuel’s life.  

Not only did the Lord restore all of Israel’s cities, He delivered the neighboring nations from their hands as well.  And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.  Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life traveling from city to city judging, but he always returned home to Ramah where he built an altar to the Lord.

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Presents Without The Presence

Read 1 Samuel 6:13-21

It is now harvest time, so the end of May begins in June in the town of Beth-Shemesh.  God is so detailed.  The name Beth-Shemesh means “House of the Sun” or “The City of the Sun”, which seems fitting for a temporary home for the ark.  Beth-Shemesh is also a Priestly/Levitical city.  It is no coincidence the two cows stopped in the city that belonged to the priests.  The priests were the ones responsible for taking care of the ark of God. 

God led these two cows to Beth-Shemesh to the city his priests occupied and the city whose name represents the sun, a sign of God returning His glory.  The entire population would have been out in the fields during the harvest season giving them full access to witness this wonderful event.  Imagine, after the devastation of losing both a battle and the ark, lifting your eyes to see, off in the distance, the ark of God coming toward you.  

The sounds of rejoicing began rising like a wave as person after person realized the ark of God has returned.  Having the Ark return wasn’t the only glorious part of this story.  Up until now, the ark was in safekeeping deep inside the holy of holies of the tabernacle.  The ark was not seen by anyone other than the high priest.  The high priest, Eli, was the only man pure enough to have the authority to enter the presence of the Lord and look inside the ark of the covenant.  These people had only heard about the splendor and magnificence of this symbol.  Until now they only had the option of imagining what it looked like.

The ark of God represented to them the divine presence of the Lord and it is restored to them once again.  Here’s the thing, the Lord wants to be in the presence of His people, His children.  I wondered why the Israelites didn’t crave the Lord enough to seek him out.  Yet, in this passage, we see that the Lord loves His people enough to return to them anyway.  The people did nothing to restore the presence of God, they didn’t pay a ransom, they didn’t go to war, they didn’t even look for Him.  This story tells us way more about God’s love and devotion to us than it does about our devotion to Him.       

The citizens of Bethshemesh immediately went to work.  The Levites lifted the Ark of God and placed it on a large rock where the cows finished their journey. They dismantled the cart, using the wood to make a fire.  In the meantime, the two cows were being prepped for sacrifice.  Their purpose was for each to be burnt and sin offerings to the Lord.  The Lord always provides his tithes and offerings, it’s up to us to recognize and utilize them appropriately.  

The Hebrew word for burnt offering means to “ascend” or literally “go up in smoke.”  The smoke from the sacrifice ascended to God, “a soothing aroma to the Lord”.  This was done as an acknowledgment of sin, for the atonement of known sins, and a way of requesting a renewed relationship with God.

A sin-offering is different, it means “fault” offering.  A sin-offering was made for sins committed in ignorance, or unintentional sin.  It covers the times when you engage in something that later you realize was a sin.  We don’t know what we don’t know, but once we do learn we need to make amends, this sacrifice covers those times, the times when we have sinned and didn’t know better.

The offerings were for the Philistines, to cover their sins, their transgressions to the Lord.  Vs. 16 tells us the Philistine Lords, waited and watched until the sacrifices were given.  They left after the offerings were made, they felt satisfied that they had done their part, repaired their transgressions then headed back home. 

While the fire is made and sacrifices are offered the Levites place the ark and the chest on the large rock where it temporarily was housed.  As the day of celebration continued something unfathomable happened.  Vs. 19 the Levites allowed their curiosity to get the best of them.  They did something that not even the Philistines were guilty of.  They opened the ark of God and looked into it.  The ark had been sealed up since it was in the wilderness with Moses.  Those sacred stones secured inside had not been out of their home since they were written on by the very hand of God.  

The Levites now had an opportunity unlike any they’ve ever had and were unlikely to have again.  The ark of God is now exposed, sitting out in the open, with no barrier between them they do the one thing none of them had the authority to do, they opened the Ark of God. Just because the ark was exposed did not give them the right to look inside.  They were curious, they desired to know what was inside, they wanted to know the secret things, the things God locked away.  Adam and Eve were guilty of a similar desire, they ate the forbidden fruit because they desired to know secret things.  The Bethshemites looked inside because they desired to know the secret things of God but there was one huge problem with that, they were not holy.  They were not clean, pure, or without sin.   They were standing before the ark as unholy men and the Lord struck them and 1170 men died instantly.  

Digging deeper into the words in their original Hebrew we learn that just looking at the ark was not a sin but rather they looked at it with lust or malicious pleasure or a foolish staring, all of which goes against the holiness of the ark of God and according to Numbers 4:20 was punishable by death.    

The severe judgment of so many men caused the people to be alarmed, they started asking the question, “Who can stand before Jehovah, this holy God?”  They concluded the death was because of their unholiness and not any particular crime done by those specific individuals.  They realize they are all unholy, that no one was any better than those struck down.  They had the biggest realization of their lives, that sinners could not approach the holy God.  

The Bethshemites also began to ponder the question of where can we send the ark?  Where can it go from here?  They weren’t necessarily trying to move the ark, they were wanting to move the presence of the Lord.  They are a lot like the Philistines in that they wanted the presents the ark brought but they did not want the presence of the Lord.  They too wanted to avoid any further judgment against them and their desire to continue to live in sin.    

Their plan was now to move the ark to the next city, a more permanent location.  They immediately sent messengers to Kirjath-jearim to let them know the ark of God was returned and they need to come immediately to collect it and take it back to their town.   

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Just Get It Out Of Here

Read 1 Samuel 6:1-12

The Philistines had finally had enough of the Lord; they were living in sin and his presence was a constant reminder because they suffered constant judgment.  They were ready to get God out of their lives once and for all.  They wanted to go back to the old ways they wanted to continue to live in sin and not be judged for it.  Wouldn’t it be nice to never be judged and to just live in our sin?

On top of the Philistines’ judgment for harboring the ark, not a single Israelite tried to get it back.  This puzzles me.  It’s as though everyone is ok with just sitting in their sin. The Philistines tried everything to harness the Lord’s glory and the Hebrews were sitting in their pity party, upset that the Lord’s glory was gone but not doing anything to get Him to return.  If you want the Lord’s glory on you, then you have to seek Him.  Don’t just sit around moping about your miserable life, start seeking the Lord.  

If you were taken captive and placed out in the wilderness, wouldn’t you want those who claim to love you to come and get you and bring you back to where you belong?  No wonder the Lord is so willing to leave the 99 to go get the one that is lost.  He knows what it feels like to not have your loved ones seek you.         

For seven excruciating months, the Ark was passed around the nation.  Then finally the Philistines agreed they needed some help deciding what to permanently do with the ark of God.  Coming up with yet another brilliant idea, the government called in priests and diviners and asked them, “what shall we do to the ark of the Lord?  How do we send it back to his place?”

Notice they did not ask if they should send it back, but they are asking “how” to send it back.  They did not want to bring anymore destruction on themselves.  They want to make things right, they want to smooth over their offense and try to gain any favor they possibly can.  They sought out advice from priests, which is the same word for priests of the true God, and diviners cover their worship of idols and superstitions.  In other words, they are covering all their bases to get the ark back into its land.  

However, they still are not sure it is even God who caused the plagues.  The discussion continued, the advice was given to not send it back empty.  The Lord requires sacrifice, a trespass offering.  It says in vs. 3 to offer a trespass offering then you will be healed.  Repent and you will be healed, also, this would settle the question of where did the plagues originate.  

Sickness doesn’t always mean you have sinned.  Don’t just assume you are in the clear.  It would be prudent to seek the Holy Spirit to make sure there isn’t something tucked away that you are unaware of, even if it is a generational curse or sickness you need to repent of it.  Sometimes we partner with sin without even knowing it.  What “we” consider to be sin and what God says is sin are often two very different things.  We go with how we “feel”, “I’m not convicted so it’s not a sin”, we even blow people off by stating, “everyone has their convictions”.  You’ve got to stop doing that,  the enemy is not going to allow you to feel bad about going against the word of the Lord.   

The offering seems strange to us, but in these ancient days, it was a general custom to present an offering to the deities from whom they believed they received healing.  They would create a figurine in the likeness of the diseased part.  For example, if they survived a shipwreck they would offer a ship statue to Neptune.  Gladiators would off their arms to Hercules.  In this case, it was five gold tumors and rats.  The number five represents the number of Philistine lords, and tumors and rats represent the plagues.  

Everyone agreed with this plan and got busy making all the preparations.  The first on the list was building a new cart for the ark to travel on.  This is something that is seen at other times in the Bible as a sign of reverence.  They knew this would be ok with the Levites because they also used carts to carry their sacred artifacts on.  Once the cart was built, they took two cows, took their calves from them, and tied them to the cart.  They wanted to make sure the cows were directed by the Lord and not from training. 

 A cow that had already been yoked and trained to pull a cart would have tried to return to their calves.  An unyoked cow, however, would wonder.  On top of all that, these cows were momma’s, their calves were taken from them.  The scriptures said they were lowing all the way.  They were remembering their baby cows.  The cow’s instinct would have been to turn around and go back to her babies, in this case, they did not do that because they were led by the Lord, they were on a divine mission.

The only thing left to do was to secure the gold tumors and rats in a chest and strap it on the cart next to the ark.  All the preparations were now complete, they gave the cows a nice swat on the rump roast and they were off, they headed straight toward Beth-Shemesh.  They followed the road the entire way, never once getting off course.  This is what the Philistines were watching for as they followed the ark in complete amazement.  The fact that the cows headed straight to Beth-Shemesh was the proof they needed to verify the plagues were done by God’s mighty hand and not just random circumstance. 

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That Dagon Temple

Read 1 Samuel 5:1-12

All of chapter five and part of chapter six give us great detail of what happens to the Philistines and the whereabouts of the ark.  What it does not give us is what happened in Shiloh while the ark was missing.  Here’s the thing, the ark represented the Lord and the Lord’s glory was no longer in Shiloh or with the Israelites and so the Bible does not have a record of what happened immediately after Eli’s death.  The next seven months are a bit of a mystery for Shiloh.  It seems that when the glory is removed that is when biblical history is not recorded.  Another example of this is the intertestamental period.  God was silent and we know from recorded history other than what the Bible records are that this period included a time of tribulation in which a massacre on the Israelites occurred.

The Philistines defeated the Israelites in a battle the Lord did not approve of and they were able to confiscate the ark of the covenant of God.  The ark was carried away from Ebenezer, where the battle was won, to their capital city called Ashdod.  Ashdod was one of their most famous cities and was home to an idol temple.  Since the Philistines did not know the difference between God of Heaven and their fake idols, they decided to place the ark next to their Dagon idol, which is a hybrid fish/man creature god of grain that is also an ancestor to Godzilla.  

Dagon has shown up at times in various places throughout the Bible.  In Judges 16:23, the Philistines offered sacrifice to this idol after Sampson was delivered into their hands.  1Chronicles 10:10 mentions how they positioned King Saul’s head in the Dagon temple.  Even Jonah had an encounter with a relative of Dagon, the Ninevites believed Jonah was delivered to them via a female Dagon which they believed was the fish Johan lived in for three days.  God protected Jonah from their goddess and that is what got their attention, God of heaven protected Jonah from her, this is what led them to repent. 

There are a few scriptures that give us a look at what may have happened in Shiloh.  Directly after the Philistines were victorious in battle, they at once set their sites on Shiloh, where it is written in Psalms 78:60-64, they seemed to have avenged themselves for all their past injuries with a terrible massacre and destroying all the sacred buildings.  Jeremiah later writes, “This house shall be like Shiloh, this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant.”  Despite this crushing blow, we know that the Hebrew people were not completely exterminated. The citizens were murdered and their holy buildings were leveled, nothing more remained of this city Shiloh. 

It would be no surprise that placing the ark of God next to this pesky idol was not a good idea, but they did it anyway.  Only after God knocked this idol to the ground twice, breaking off his hands and head, leaving only a torso behind did they start to second guess their decision.  

It wasn’t just the events happening to the idol that caused the Philistines to realize this was a horrible idea, it was also the devastation the Lord brought on them.  His hand was heavy on them, he destroyed them by inflicting them with tumors.

Once the leaders of Ashdod realized the tumors were widespread and began the moment the ark was brought into the temple, they immediately called a meeting with all the other leaders throughout the area to discuss what in the world they should do about the ark.  Their bright idea was to just move it; they transported the ark of the God of Isreal to the city of Gath. They likely chalked the whole disease up to some coincidental outbreak, they didn’t tie it to the Lord.  They also didn’t take any chances of their Dagon idols being further destroyed because the city of Gath didn’t have a Dagon temple, so there shouldn’t be any competition between the two. 

It is interesting how the Philistines refused to denounce their Dagon god, they refused to repent to the God of Israel. Instead of seeking mercy from God, they would rather just get rid of the ark.  People with hard, sin-riddled hearts would rather keep God as far away as they possibly can than go into a covenant relationship with him.  As we see in this story, eventually fighting with God will lead to a divine judgment to increase on you.

Their judgment certainly did increase, especially in the form of tumors.  The tumors plaguing the citizens of Ashdod were more on the surface of their bodies, the lumps and bumps were much more noticeable.  The citizens of Gath, however, were plagued with internal tumors.  You can see this description in KJV where it says they were inflicted in their secret parts which is the most inward part of their bodies.  Our modern science teaches us that tumors forming inside our bodies are much more painful, not easy to get to, and certainly much more difficult to cure.  Thus the Lord is amping up his judgment on these wicked people.

Still not learning their lesson, and still not wanting to do what is right before God, they ship the ark off to yet another one of their main cities, this time it was transported to the city of Ekron.  We all know news travels fast, and bad news travels even faster, so the Ekron citizens had already gotten the news that the previous cities suffered this tumorous plague and they did not want anything to do with this ark, they protested against its presence.  Ultimately the decision was made to temporarily place the ark in Ekron until the Lords of the Philistines could convene to find a permanent location.

Just like the other two cities, the judgment of the Lord increased on Ekron’s citizens.  This time it’s described as “deadly destruction” or literally “a dismay of death” meaning the fear of the Lord was so intense it caused the people to suffer mental agony and despair.  The number of people who died was immense and those who did not die from despair were forced to continue living their lives being tormented from this sickness. 

The wording in vs. 12 reads as though Ekron was also inflicted with something else because it says, “those who did not die” were afflicted with tumors.  The judgment definitely increased with every move of the ark.  God amped up the plagues until the Philistines couldn’t handle them anymore. 

The Philistine rulers called an emergency meeting where they decided to send the ark of the God of Israel away;  finally, they decided to let it go back to its own place.  They were terrified if they didn’t return the ark it would kill them and the remainder of their people.  

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Ichabod

Read 1 Samuel 4:12-21

The story of defeat continues, up to this point Hophni and Phineas went along with the plan to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord into battle.  They had hoped the appearance of the ark would give them an advantage over the Philistines.  They were wrong in that assumption, in fact they ended up losing 30,000 foot men on the battlefield.  They didn’t just lose this battle, the Israelites also lost the ark of God and along with it Hophni and Phineas were both killed.  

The Hebrew military was placed in complete disarray, men were running back to their tents in agony, except for one man who was from the tribe of Benjamin.  I know it’s hard to believe but back then people did not have cell phones or email, so the only way to get news was by foot.  Men who could run long distances with great endurance were chosen to report on the status of the war.  The bible doesn’t specify who this benjamite man was, but Jewish history claims it is likely none other than Saul, the future king of Israel.  

During the devastation Saul tore his clothes and poured dirt over his head as a sign of great defeat and deep mourning, he then took off running back toward Shiloh.  In Shiloh by the watchtower sits 98 year old Eli waiting for news of this terrible battle and for the report of his wicked son’s whereabouts.  The awareness of the previous loss of 4k men weighed heavily on his heart, his sons had broken a covenant with their invisible king only added to his sorrow.

This is an extreme amount of stress for this old man, he could not see well, if at all, but he could hear the uproar of cries, he could hear the wailing of loved ones moaning in agony as they received this horrible news of possible death of their loved ones.  When Eli heard the cries, he demanded to know what the uproar was all about.

Saul rushes to Eli’s side informing him how Israel fled before the Philistines and the heavy loss they suffered.  The news gets worse because he learns his two sons were among the dead.  Then the biggest blow, the ark of God was captured.  

Back in verse 13 KJV reads, Eli sat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. This was the worst possible outcome he could have imagined, when he heard the horrible news of the ark, Eli fell backward off his chair and broke his neck.  Eli was old and fat, he indulged his children and himself over the years, his body was in poor health, and so when he fell backward breaking his neck killed him.  It seems like he may have suffered a heart attack given vs. 13 said his heart trembled for the ark of God.  The heart attack could have likely caused him to fall backwards.  Nevertheless, after 40 years of service Eli was no longer judge or priest over Israel.

One of the main interests to me in the part of Eli’s death is how it was the news of the ark’s captivity that caused his heart to react.  His love and devotion for the Lord was undeniable and it is shown in these verses.  It wasn’t the news of the war or the news of his son’s death that caused him to die, it was the news of the loss of the ark.  The finality of the Lord’s judgement, the loss of the Lord’s glory on him and his family and from the house of the Lord is what caused him to ultimately die.  

This terrible news continues to spread throughout Shiloh and all of Israel, but the next person recorded to receive word was Phinehas’ wife who was in her third trimester of pregnancy.  The devastating news caused this woman to go into labor.  Verse 19 says, “She bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.”  She was overcome with labor pains, falling to her knees as she travailed, this was a deep, sudden and excruciating childbirth .  

Travail is a pretty heavy word, it means to engage in painful or laborious effort.  Certainly childbirth on its own is painful and laborious but add to it the pain from the death of her husband and father in law,  and don’t forget the ark was no longer in their care.  This labor and delivery left her weakened to the point of death.  Her attendants tried to comfort her, tried to lift her out of this pit of despair, but it was of no use.  She would not respond to them or to her newborn son.  She paid no attention to their efforts.

Deep in thought and depression the new mom contemplated all that had happened, she understood completely that Jehovah was no longer with her or her people, that the glory of the Lord had departed.  She lost her husband, her Lord was no longer shining on her or her people, her father in Law, the high priest was now dead, this was all too much to handle.  She began to slip further and further, deeper and deeper into despair.  All the pain and hurt was summed up and placed into the name of her son.  She named him Ichabod which means “no glory” because the glory of Israel is no more.  The ark of God had been captured.  

The scripture is written in such a way that indicates both Eli and Phinehas’ wife were especially distraught over the loss of the ark of God.  To them these artifacts were priceless, they represented their Lord.  They believed the glory of God was carried off, taken away from them.  The ark is named the ark of the covenant.  When the Lord’s earthly throne was surrendered it left them feeling as though the Lord also abolished his covenant of grace with Israel, that his covenant with them was no longer in effect.

Now what does this look like in our time, can the Lord’s glory be taken from us or from our sanctuary?  Can the name Ichobod be given to a once vital church?  Unfortunately that answer is yes.  The Lord will always be present with his saints, however, that does not mean that it will permanently remain in a church, city or even a nation, especially if those places choose wickedness over worship.

So far through 1 Samuel we’ve studied how God’s glory was on the family of Elkanah, it was contrasted with the corruption of worship in the temple.  God will remain with those who are righteous before him, he will not remain in a place where righteousness is not prioritized.  Given the priest’s sins it was only a matter of time before the Lord would send judgement, he is generous in that he gives ample time to repent.  Instead of repenting they made their sin a way of life, their sins became second nature a new way of life.

When the word, worship and ordinances of God are not prioritized and instead are removed it will only be a matter of time before the glory of God is also removed from the church and from the people who go along with the sin.  

When people stop talking about the glorious Gospel of Christ, when we stop talking about sound doctrine, when we stop talking about the promises God made to us, when we stop administering the sacraments it means the glory has departed from the people.  They will have no one to blame,  they alone are responsible for being religious, lukewarm, unfruitful, negligent with their attendance for the worship service,  ignoring the spoken word and instead taking part in unbecoming conversations. 

I know you can make up a million excuses as to why you are not a participant in a “Ichabod” church, you love the Lord, you pray, you sing those songs when you feel like showing up, you toss a few bucks into the offering plate.  Hear me on this if you do not take the worship of the Lord seriously it is only a matter of time before his glory will not shine on you.  You need to start pressing in more and more.  Church is not a place to go just so you can focus your week.  It is a place where you go to worship the Lord of Lords.  In the Shiloh church the assistant pastors were causing the worshipers to be distracted, they took the focus of the sacrifice off the Lord and put in on themselves.  The lead pastor chose to look the other way, he didn’t want to cause a ruckus, he didn’t want to deal with the fallout so he kept the assistant pastors on payroll.

Church members, you cannot allow the worship of the Lord to be tainted, you need to press in.  Pastors step up to the plate and make sure your church members understand what it means to worship the Lord in the way He expects.

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Always Seek Godly Council

Read 1 Samuel 4:1-11

Verse 21 in chapter 3 ended saying, “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word”.  Before Samuel met the Lord the prophetic word was scarce in Israel, in fact it has been a long 80 years with no word.  But, now we have Samuel who has been anointed as prophet and judge over Israel when the Lord visited him.  From that morning on the Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, he was building a relationship with Samuel by establishing his word in him and training him personally to be his prophet.

As Samuel grew in knowledge and understanding of the Lord he began to speak the word of the Lord to all of Israel, and every citizen responded in agreement that he was a prophet.

Contrast this beautiful story with the last half of verse 1 and it’s a stark contrast.  Despite Samuel being established as a prophet and Eli still managing the temple neither of them were involved or consulted before making the decision to go to war with the Philistines.  Nevertheless, the Israelites went out and camped at Ebenezer.  The Philistines deployed their forces against Israel and crushed them, defeating Israel and killing 4k soldiers.  

Devastated, the remaining troops returned to their camp and now the Elders are wondering why they suffered such a loss.  They could not figure out why the Lord brought this defeat on them, why did the Lord smite them before the Philistines?  The elders were correct in realizing that it was by the Lord’s hand that they were smitten, smited, killed.  What they didn’t grasp was the fact that it was by their own doing.  The elders are alot like many christians today who find themselves beaten down by the world, or they’ve endured hardship after hardship and the first thing they want to do is to invent all sorts of reasons for why bad things are happening to them, coming up with all sorts of excuses and never once owning the truth that the pain is there because they chose to depart from the Lord. Somehow, they betrayed the Lord. 

The way the elders chose to solve this conflict gives us more proof that their hearts were not in the right place.  Instead of repenting and returning to the Lord, they thought they could bring the Lord to them.  Have you ever tried to bring the Lord down to your level?  Hear me on this, you cannot infuse Jesus into your sin and expect things to be good.  Just because you listen to praise or worship music while doing ungodly things does not make it ok.  Just because you prayed and asked God to bless you, before a night on the town, does not mean you are in His will.  Stop trying to pull the Lord down to your level.  

The elders tried to bring the Lord into their mess by carrying the Ark of the Covenant to the battlefield.  What a great idea, they thought. God has been showing up regularly at the temple in the holiest of holies so let’s bring the Ark here and God will work like a magic genie.  The elders were remembering the “good ole days” of Moses and even Jericho and how the Ark was present when they won.  The Ark was a symbol of God’s power; it was not God.  

They had no clue, they thought the symbol, the Ark, carried the power, not unlike the Philistines and their pagan idol worship. 

Symbols like crosses, angels, dove figurines don’t carry any power.  Power only comes from the Lord.  The Isrealites were digging themselves into an even bigger hole.  Never once did they think, “Let’s talk with Eli and Samuel to find out what the Lord says”.  Nope, they drew their own conclusions and took matters into their own hands by deciding to send men back to Shiloh to get the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts.  Lesson here, get godly counsel when making tough decisions.  

When they entered the temple, whom did they find there?  None other than Hophni and Phineas.  Not Samuel or Eli, but Eli’s two worthless scoundrel sons.  Samuel and Eli would have reminded them of God’s laws and they certainly would have pointed out their sins, but people don’t like that do they?  

The scene in verse 4 is the throne of Israel’s king.  “Dwelleth between the cherubim” Not so much where the Lord lives but rather his seat as King.  The people were bringing the throne of Jehovah to their camp, as a symbol of their theocratic ruler.  Theocratic means: a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God.  

They understand how their government functions, they understand an invisible Jehovah as their King.  They completely miss the point when it comes to their sin.  Verse 4 contrasts the throne of Jehovah with the immorality of the nation.  Hophni and Phineas were with the Ark.  The two priests who abandoned the Lord, the two priests who stole from the Lord, defiled all the sacrifices are now standing as the guardians of the Ark.  They carry the Ark into a battle the Lord didn’t call for.

The Ark is called here The ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts.  The Ark represented a covenant.  A covenant is between two parties.  While covenants promise favour they also contain conditions.  God’s promise was to be ever present with the Israelites.  The Isrealites were expected to obey His commands and His laws.  Turns out they expect God to keep  his end of the covenant without keeping their part.   I don’t care who you are, it does not work that way.  God will not remain present in a place where worship of Him is being defiled, and that still stands today.  

When the soldiers looked up and witnessed the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant it was a huge relief.  Their confidence was immediately lifted, the whole camp broke out with shouts of joy so loud and thunderous the whole earth rumbled.  This very Ark led their ancestors to many victories and they were certain they would now be victorious.

The victory shouts from the Hebrew camp did not go unnoticed by the Philistines.  The Philistines knew the Hebrews had no reason to celebrate, they just suffered a defeat so they investigated the reason for their celebrations and found out it was because the Ark had arrived.  The second they learned this information they became terrified, saying, “God has come into the camp”.  

The Philistines had heard the story of how God struck the Egyptians with plagues, they remember the destruction of the Red Sea and in their generation this has never happened before.  They never had to fear the Hebrews before.  It appears they really have something to fear now.  “Woe to us, it’s all over now.  The Philistines fear the God of Abraham yet proceed to oppose him.    

  They call together their troops, understanding that mindset is half the battle, they give their soldiers a pep talk, a motivational speech, basically telling them to pull up their boot straps and start acting like soldiers who are victorious.  Reminding them they do not want to end up being servants to the Israelites.  Quit acting like a bunch of babies, start acting like men and fight.  I’m paraphrasing of course. 

This must have been an awesome pep talk because they defeated the Isrealites with a slaughter of about 30,000 footmen.  Not only did they win with a devastating slaughter they captured the Ark of God killing its guardians Hophni and Phineas on the same day just as the prophet predicted.

At this point in history the loss of this battle was the greatest calamity to happen to Israel.  Every citizen would now see this as a terrible sign that their King had removed his countenance from them, he has turned his face from them, removing His glory.  The Bible tells us to turn from our wicked ways, and when we don’t we in fact agree to judgement from God, that is the agreement.  The Hebrews did not turn from sin and seek the Lord, they did what they thought was best and they received God’s judgement for it.  

Our American history also shows this to be the case,  once abortion was legalized and prayer was removed from schools there was no repentance, this was seemingly ok among the majority of the US.  Fast forward and our country experienced a devastating blow during the Vietnam war where almost 41,000 soldiers died on the battlefield.  Similar to the Israelites this was America’s first defeat, up until that point God’s glory was with us in battle because up to that point this nation honored the Lord our God.

The Israeli military had the outward appearance of being a godly nation, they had the Ark, they carried the name, the reputation,  even the priests were present.  On the outside everything looked great.  Unfortunately for them it is what is on the inside that matters to God.  God looked at the heart, and their heart was far from Him. 

Our nation claims to be “one nation under God”,  “in God we trust”.  At the creation of our nation we were a Christian nation that was understood by every other country in the world.  My concern is that we are only a Christian nation by name only, we have the symbols, we have the churches, we even have past victories, but what is it that God sees?  Are we like the Israelites, not able to see our own sin, making excuses and blaming God?  Trying to convince or force the Lord to bless our sin, to come down to our level.  If this is the case it will never work, we are expected to give up our way our old life and become righteous through Jesus Christ.

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Samuel Becomes A Prophet

Read 1 Samuel 3

Once again the book of Samuel reiterates the anointing Samuel carries even at a very young age.  Chapter two ended with Eli receiving a doom and gloom message from an unknown prophet and chapter three contrasts that with Samuel still ministering before to the Lord under Eli.

What I find so interesting is it seems like Eli has learned from his parenting mistakes with his sons Hophni and Phineas where he really steps up to the plate with Samuel.  It seems as though he has protected the young boy from his sons and their corruption.  Eli overlooked his son’s sins by not removing them from their priestly positions and that was a sin in itself.  

Anytime we learn from our mistakes it’s a good thing.  Eli gained wisdom and used that wisdom by training Samuel in the ways of the Lord and running the temple.  I can picture this young boy working in the temple doing whatever was necessary whatever was required wearing his little white robe that his mom, Hannah, made special for him.  His brothers and sisters are at their family home growing up with typical childhood experiences, yet he is not bitter, he does not resent his parents for their decision, he doesn’t hate God for putting him in this situation.  He serves the Lord with a mandate.

I also want you to take note that God placed divine protection on Samuel as he grew.  The boy was placed into an environment that was a cesspool of sin under the authority of the man who basically allowed it.  The odds that Samuel would grow to be a prophet of God was not in his favor.  Do you realize how much of a miracle it is to have a child grow up in an ungodly house and despite that serve the Lord in a mighty way?  

Hannah and Elkanah knew their son was going to be placed in the care of a man who didn’t have a good reputation of parenting well, yet they knew the call God placed on their son’s life, a