A Tale of Three Soldiers

Today I got spanked! No, not physically but the words I read slapped me upside the head. I saw myself in the failure of another.

I was reading about three different soldiers: Abner, Jonathan, and King Saul. Abner is the soldier I wanted to compare myself with, 1 Samuel 14:50, 51.

He was Saul’s cousin. Their shared great-great-great grandfather was the one remembered for his stalwart character, 1 Samuel 9:1.

Abner commanded the entire army but we don’t read of his actions or his comments. He took his orders from Saul and carried them out.

(Unfortunately, I saw myself in another soldier – Jonathan.)

Jonathan served under Abner and his father, King Saul. Yet, he did whatever he wanted.

  1. He went wherever he wanted, 1 Samuel 14:1.
  2. He didn’t report to his commanders, 1 Samuel 14:1.
  3. He didn’t answer to anyone, 1 Samuel 14:3.
  4. He took others along, 1 Samuel 14:6.
  5. He expected God to work for him, 1 Samuel 14:6.
  6. His attitude was, “Nobody said I couldn’t,” 1 Samuel 14:6.
  7. He told his men what his father should have done, 1 Samuel 14:30.
  8. He saw his error as small, insignificant, 1 Samuel 14:43.

King Saul was the third soldier in these chapters.

  1. He took it easy, 1 Samuel 14:1.
  2. He destroyed what no one wanted, instead of everything, 1 Samuel 15:9.
  3. He set up a victory monument in his own honor, not God’s, 1 Samuel 15:12.
  4. He lied about doing everything God commanded, 1 Samuel 15:13.
  5. He stopped being humble before God, 1 Samuel 15:17.
  6. He did not obey God, 1 Samuel 15:19.
  7. He trampled God’s word and instructions, 1 Samuel 15:24.
  8. He cared more about pleasing people than God, 1 Samuel 15:24.
  9. He let the people tell him what to do, 1 Samuel 15:24.
  10. He rejected God’s command, 1 Samuel 15:26.
  11. He tore Samuel’s holy robe to get him to do what he wanted, 1 Samuel 15:27.
  12. He repented to get Samuel to support him in front of everyone, 1 Samuel 15:30.

1 Samuel 15:22, 23, shows us what God does not want from His soldiers:

  1. Empty rituals just for show.
  2. Sacrifices instead of obedience.
  3. Lavish religious productions.
  4. Self-importance.
  5. Ignoring commands.

What does God want?

  1. Plain listening.
  2. Doing what He tells you to do.
  3. Humility.

1 Samuel 15:29, “Israel’s God-of-Glory doesn’t deceive and He doesn’t dither. He says what He means and means what He says.” The Message

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This Day

I feel like I’m spinning my wheels this week! Yesterday I had 4 writing projects and 5 loads of laundry. I finished Sunday’s post at 4:30 p.m. and David folded the last load for me.

Today I still had 4 writing projects and all I’ve accomplished is making my bed! (Full disclosure: I sanitized the sheets, pillow covers, mattress pad, blanket, and comforter.)

I did publish Monday’s post but my posts have been a day late since Friday! Frustrating! I opened my devotional and read these quotes:

“Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence. Then move on to your next duty with awareness of the freshness and energy of Christ.” Dr. Pardington

* * * * * * *

“The grace of God does not come forth to bring rest and renewal to our soul until we completely reach the point of stillness in Him.” Streams in the Desert

I pulled up the Worship Central Radio station on Pandora, folded my hands in my lap, shut my eyes, and quietly listened to a song. Then I knew what God was trying to show me.


I get in a hurry to go down my “To Do” list and mark off each item. I don’t take the time to be still and listen to God.

Saul made the same mistake. When he was a young man, he didn’t hurry to execute those who said he was not fit to rule, 1 Samuel 11:12. And he was careful to give God the glory for the victory over the Ammonites.

1 Samuel 11:13, “But Saul said, ‘Nobody is going to be executed this day. This is the day God saved Israel. Come, let’s go to Gilgal and there reconsecrate the kingship.’ ” The Message

Two chapters later, his son Jonathan is old enough to lead a company of soldiers. Jonathan got in a hurry and attacked the garrison of the Philistines. The Message version says he killed the governor. The Philistines were mad as hornets! Saul summoned the army to Gilgal, 1 Samuel 13:3, 4.

Samuel told him to wait 7 days. When Samuel failed to show up on time, the soldiers got scared and started slipping away to hide, 1 Samuel 13:6-8. So Saul took charge! He sacrificed a burnt offering. Only the priests were to present a sacrifice. Immediately, Samuel arrived and asked him what he was doing!

1 Samuel 13:12, “…I haven’t yet come before God asking for his help. So I took things into my own hands…” The Message

The quickest way to get into trouble is to take charge and take things into my own hands. The way to accomplish all my duties is to become still and wait on God. Then I will work with the freshness and energy of Christ.

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Stalwart Character

“Will we see you at Connect Group tonight?” John asked.

“Only if I see you at the Nursing Home Service this afternoon!”

(Later at Connect Group, John started giving me a hard time.)

“John,” I said, “I didn’t see you at the Nursing Home Service, so I picked out your room. It’s a single because your wife won’t need to move in for a few decades.”

(John decided that was a good time to start the Bible Study.)

* * * * * * *

The fourth Sunday is exhausting. I get up between four and five for devotions and to write my post. (Sorry, I overslept this week.)

We load up the drums and head to the Civic Center at 8:30 a.m. After unloading, we set up the drums and two keyboards. We practice for an hour making sure the sound is working correctly.

After a 5 minute break, we meet and pray for the service. We play and sing our hearts out in the worship. After the service, we tear it all down, pack the keyboards up for storage, load up the drums, and take them home.

Back at the house, we have less than an hour to unload the drums and grab a bite to eat before heading to Sunnybrook Nursing Home. We play and sing hymns there. After Bev shares a few verses we talk to the residents and pray for them. I usually play several more hymns for the residents who like to sing.

A few hours later we are heading to Connect Group for Bible Study. Why do we show up week after week and do all that work? Our parents taught us to have a stalwart character.

“Stalwart – loyal, reliable, hardworking. Synonyms: faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, steady, constant, trusty, solid, steadfast, unwavering.”

When God chose the first king of Israel, He picked a man from a family known for their stalwart character.

1 Samuel 9:1, 2, “There was a man from the tribe of Benjamin named Kish. He was the son of Abiel, grandson of Zeror, great-grandson of Becorath, great-great grandson of Aphiah – a Benjamite of stalwart character. He had a son, Saul, a most handsome young man. There was none finer – he literally stood head and shoulders above the crowd!” The Message

But having character is not enough. God needed a man willing to work at any job.

1 Samuel 10:7, “…Whatever job you’re given to do, do it. God is with you.” The Message

Then God revealed Himself to Saul.

1 Samuel 10:9, “…At that very moment God transformed him – made him a new person! And all the confirming signs took place the same day.” The Message

The confirming signs:

  1. At Rachel’s tomb, you will learn your father’s donkeys are found, 10:2. (God is all-knowing.)
  2. At the Oak of Tabor, you will be given two loaves of bread, 10:3. (God will meet your needs. Saul admitted they were out of bread in 1 Samuel 9:7.)
  3. At Gibeah, you will meet a group of prophets. The Spirit of God will come on you and you will prophesy and you’ll be transformed, 10:5. (God will work through you. You don’t accomplish things, God’s Spirit enables you to do them.)

When God’s Spirit came upon him, He transformed Saul.

1 Samuel 10:24, “Samuel then addressed the people, ‘Take a good look at whom God has chosen: the best! No one like him in the whole country!’ ” The Message

The people thought he was the best because he was tall, young, and handsome. He became the best because God’s Spirit transformed him. He needed to have a good character and be hardworking but it was God’s Spirit that did the work.

The number one rule of ministry is…


We don’t do the work. God’s Spirit does it. We just make ourselves available for Him to use.

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The Glory is Gone

I was sitting alone at a black and white checked table, with a turquoise tub in the center full of pop bottles and ice, when it hit me…

“I must have married the wrong man!”

I could smell the hamburgers and hot dogs they were grilling for the “Fifty’s themed Volunteer Banquet.” Behind me was an 8′ table full of colorful toppings for the sundaes they were serving for dessert.

Pastor Monte and his wife Peggy came as Ricky Ricardo and Lucy. Our friends, Ken & Jill, looked like a well-dressed, respectable couple on their way to church.

I folded my white-gloved hands in my lap and wondered where David went. I dressed like Doris Day or Sandra Dee. I had a black, satin sheath on over a white, button-down blouse with a black cardigan sweater draped over my shoulders.

My jewelry was Great-Aunt May’s double strand of fake pearls and the pearl earrings I bought for my son’s wedding. There was a red, felt poppy clipped in my pinned up hair and the beaded shoe clips on my black pumps matched the beaded buckle on my belt.

I listened to “Rock around the Clock” while scanning the room looking for David – who was James Dean. We truly were the odd couple.

* * * * * * *

I’m sure the wife of Phineas thought she married the wrong man, too! A priest could only marry a virgin daughter of the tribe of Levi, Leviticus 21:13-15. She would have grown up around the temple and been familiar with all the rituals and requirements.

Phineas was a horrible priest! He didn’t know God, didn’t care about his duties, was greedy and demanding, stole from the people, and slept with the women who helped out at the sanctuary, 1 Samuel 2:12-25.

His wife had different priorities: God first and respect for the office of the high priest, her father-in-law Eli.

1 Samuel 4:19-22, “His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas, was pregnant and ready to deliver. When she heard that the Chest of God had been taken and that both her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went to her knees to give birth, going into hard labor. (20) As she was about to die, her midwife said, ‘Don’t be afraid. You’ve given birth to a son!’ (21) The Chest of God gone, father-in-law dead, husband dead, she named the boy Ichabod (Glory’s gone), (22) saying, ‘Glory is exiled from Israel since the Chest of God was taken.’ ” The Message

She named her son Ichabod, meaning God’s Glory is gone because the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant. The ark represented the Presence of God.

* * * * * * *

After Connect Group last night, I said to David, “Since Derek made dinner, (shocking, I know!), why don’t we go buy dessert!”

“I was thinking the same thing!” he replied.

We brought home a triple layered chocolate cake. I guess I did marry the right man!

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Hannah Prayed

This is Hannah.

Hannah’s rival, Peninnah, taunts her because she can’t have a child.

Hannah doesn’t share the latest taunt or how it makes her feel.

Hannah pulls herself together, slips away quietly, and prays.

Hannah is a real woman.

Be like Hannah.

1 Samuel 1:9, “So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary.” The Message

Hannah prayed until she was confident in God’s answer.

1 Samuel 1:18, ” ‘Think well of me – and pray for me!’ she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.” The Message

When God answered Hannah’s prayer, she gives Him credit.

1 Samuel 2:1, “Hannah prayed: I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air. I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation.” The Message

Hannah knows God is the only one to help.

1 Samuel 2:30, “…I honor those who honor Me….” The Message

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Warned and Ready

After a rough night with an allergic flare, I was walking around in a Benadryl fog. I opened my Bible and the first sentence did not encourage me!

John 16:1, “I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead.” The Message

It was one of those days where you want to go back to bed and sleep until tomorrow!

John 16:4, “I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” The Message

It warned me that the day would be difficult and I decided to do the hard things anyway.

John 16:33, “I’ve told you these this so that trusting me, you will be unshakeable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” The Message

My project for the day was caulking the wood trim around the windows. I started with the window in my office. That small window cracked everywhere possible! It took me an hour to fill them all in. (A near-sighted perfectionist should never pick up a caulk gun!) I managed to caulk all the windows and hang the curtains back up before David got off work.

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Make Everything Plain

Samsung or iPhone?

In his sermon last night, Pastor Monte Knudsen talked about two phone operating systems.

“Samsung uses the Android operating system and the iPhone uses IOS. There are also two operating systems on earth – man’s way and God’s way.” Monte Knudsen

Man’s way

Proverbs 14:12, 13, “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell. Sure, the people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.” The Message

God’s Way

Isaiah 55:8, 9, “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” The Message

Jesus said…

John 14:6, “Jesus said, ‘I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from Me.’ ” The Message

What if you are unsure on your road? God sent a helper.

John 14:16, 17, 19, “I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world cannot take Him in because it doesn’t have the eyes to see Him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know Him already because He has been staying with you, and will even be in you!…In just a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you’re going to see Me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive.” The Message

The disciples came alive on Pentecost Sunday when the “Spirit of Truth,” the “Holy Spirit,” came.

John 14:26, “The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at My request, will make everything plain to you.” The Message

Jesus plainly told Peter he would die for Him. And that he would deny Him three times before the morning, John 13:38. But after saying this, He said…

John 14:1, “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust Me.” The Message

Dear Father God,

Thank you for giving me your “Spirit of Truth” because after He filled me, I came alive. It was like switching from a black and white picture to the clearest, crispest color available. Or the difference between looking at something with a flashlight or looking at it with a spotlight.

And all I had to do was ask.

For all believers who ask you to fill them with your “Spirit of Truth,” I pray that You quickly guide them to a church where they can learn more.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,


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Keep Your Head

The daily news is depressing. There is rarely good news and knowing what is happening around the world brings fear. Jesus instructed us how to live during these last days.

Keep your head, don’t panic.

Matthew 24:6, “…keep your head and don’t panic.” The Message

Expect trouble.

Matthew 24:21, “There is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again.” The Message

Plan and prepare.

Matthew 25:1-4, “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps.” The Message

You won’t miss His second coming.

Matthew 24:30, “Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies – no one will miss it.” The Message

Be a dependable worker.

Matthew 24:45, “Who here qualifies for overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day.” The Message

Always be found doing your job.

Matthew 24:46, “Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job….” The Message

Do your best.

Matthew 25: 26, “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best why did you do less than the least?’ ” The Message

The least you can do is save some money.

Matthew 25:27, “The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.” The Message

Work to double your investments.

Matthew 25: 20, 22, “The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment….The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment.” The Message

We work for God. All our gifts, talents, and money come from Him. We are just His stewards.

©2009-2018 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

Be on Your Guard

The biggest game for football fans will be here soon. There will be parties and food – lots of food. People are choosing the team to root for.

Me? I’m not a fan.

I don’t understand the lure of sports. But Dr. Caroline Leaf explained it in a way I could understand.

“Ladies, just watch how your gent loves watching sports – just because he enjoys it doesn’t mean he’s avoiding you or being lazy. Sports stimulate the male brain like shopping stimulates the female brain. Men are fascinated with estimating distance, angles, speed, and direction. It relaxes and challenges their mind and de-stresses them.” “Who Switched off Your Brain? solving the mystery of he said/she said” by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Now shopping I do understand! There’s the hunt for the item you need and the joy of finding a treasure on clearance.

I remember, after an 8-hour basketball tournament, asking David if I would get equal time shopping. Nope, I got fifteen minutes in one store.

David did all the shopping during the three years I was completely housebound. When the restriction was loosened, I went right to Wal-Mart. I spent two hours and $300.00. Then I spent another hour and another $100.00 at HyVee!

“What happened?”

I bought everything on my list over the previous three years that he couldn’t find. I didn’t know when I would be able to shop next. So, I bought everything I thought I would need over the next three years!

David decided he would continue being our primary shopper! I give him a list and he brings home most of it. (We have a smaller Wal-Mart and they don’t carry all the items the larger ones do.)

When he can’t find an item, he’ll call to ask for a different department to check. If I can’t decide based on a description, he will text me pictures of the two options.

During the last decade, since I stepped down from my job, I learned the difference between a need, a want, and a desire. I also learned to do without!

Last weekend, we went to “Stuff’s Half-Price Sale.” Bargains galore! And I bought –


We went to Goodwill and I paid $5.88 for a pair for $100.00 jeans. We went through several stores in the mall and I bought – 2 items for my granddaughter.

So, gentlemen, when it comes to shopping, send your wife often – just leave the credit and debit cards at home. Shopping with cash keeps our priorities in order. If she knows she will be back next week, she can make a mental note to pick it up then.

When our children were little, I looked forward to Thursday nights. After dinner, David bonded with his children (wrestling on the floor) and I went shopping. I would spend 2 – 3 hours wandering the aisles at Wal-Mart and buying groceries. My budget was $50.00 total! I needed the time to find the best deals for our family of five.

The next time you cheer for a touchdown, remember that is how your wife feels when she finds an item for which she has searched for months. (Score!)

Gentlemen, is your wife wound up, can’t think straight, and totally stressed out? Give her some cash for a little retail therapy and go wrestle with the kids.

Ladies, be honest with yourself. If you can walk through a mall without buying anything, then take your credit or debit card. If you can’t, or have an unpaid balance on your credit card, stick to cash.

Luke 21:34, “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping.” The Message

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A Promise is a Promise

I promised David I would go over the credit card bill for December. It was confusing because we bought other things while buying Christmas presents.

I really didn’t want to. I’m tired from the weekend activities. But the verse I read today kept going through my head. I just did it because a promise is a promise.

Matthew 23:22, 23, “A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless…the meat of God’s law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment – the absolute basics!…” The Message

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