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Are You Defined by Your Past?

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 31

Scripture Focus: But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. (1 Samuel 31.11-13)

Devotional Thought: Saul and his sons had died in battle. The valiant men of Jabesh-gilead came to retrieve their bodies, in order to give them a proper burial. In the past, Jabesh-gilead was severely punished for failing to respond to the civil war against the Benjamites (Judges 21). Did that failure, and the subsequent disgrace, define them? No! They rose above their past.

Some things we can learn from this story:

· We have things from our past to overcome. Jabesh-gilead carried the stigma of being a place of slackers and cowards. They had paid dearly for their sin in pain and suffering. The sins of our past haunt us and cost us dearly.

· Jesus rescues us from our pasts. Why did Jabesh-Gilead risk life and limb to retrieve the bodies of Saul and his sons? The answer is simple. Regardless of their past, Saul considered them “savable” and had once rescued them (See 1 Samuel 11)! Jesus did not give up on us, either. Thank God for our Redeemer, who counted us worthy of his sacrifice!

· No matter how bad our past is, by the grace of God we can rise above it. Jabesh-gilead could have adopted the attitude that society tried to force upon them: "You’ll never amount to anything." But, they refused to be defined by their past failures, and instead chose to rise above them. God is still in the business of making valiant men out of cowards, victorious women out of society’s losers.

Prayer: Lord, my past failures have been buried in the sea of your forgetfulness, never to be remembered against me again! Hallelujah! You have set me free! Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 86.1-10

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.

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