Day 44: “Here I Raise My Ebenezer”

1. Center Down

Our breath prayer for today: As you inhale, whisper,  “You create springs in the desert…” As you exhale, whisper, “… and food from the barren land.”

2. Slowly read aloud the following Scriptures

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, saying, “If with all your heart, you are returning to the Lord, remove the foreign gods from your midst, and the Ashtaroth, and direct your heart toward the Lord, and serve Him alone, and He will save you from the hand of the Philistines. And the children of Israel removed the Baalim and the Ashtaroth, and served the Lord alone.

And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I shall pray to the Lord on your behalf.” And they assembled at Mizpah, and drew water, and poured (it out) before the Lord, and they fasted on that day, and said there, “We have sinned to the Lord.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpah.

Now the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had assembled at Mizpah, and the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel, and the children of Israel heard, and they were afraid of the Philistines. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, “Cease not to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He save us from the hand of the Philistines.”

And Samuel took one sucking lamb and offered it up as a burnt offering, entirely to the Lord, and Samuel cried out to the Lord on behalf of Israel, and the Lord answered him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near for war against Israel, and the Lord thundered with a loud noise on that day, upon the Philistines, and threw them into a panic, and they were beaten before Israel. And the men of Israel went forth from Mizpah, and pursued the Philistines, and harassed them until they were below Bethcar.

And Samuel took one stone, and placed it between Mizpah and the peak (Shen), and he called its name Ebenezer, for he said, “Hitherto the Lord has helped us.”

And the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the border of Israel, and the hand of the Lord was upon the Philistines all the days of Samuel. (1 Samuel 7:3-13, Judaica)

For further exploration:

Videos: http://stone.video/StandingStone1

Article:   http://b.link/StandingStones2   (scholarly)

Music:  http://b.link/JazzEbenezer  (just for fun!)

3. Kingdom Prayer

Heavenly Father, we praise and honor Your Name.  Your Name is the Lord and we rejoice before You.  You have been our home through all the generations.  We praise You, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!  O Lord, what a variety of things You have made.  In wisdom, You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your creatures.  Lord, we thank You for our U.S. Military personnel and allies.  We thank You for blessing our armed forces throughout history.  We thank You for making our nation a mighty power in the world.  Lord, You are a faithful, loving and compassionate God and we bless You.

Father, we declare that You are the light and salvation of our military personnel; they will not be afraid.  You are their fortress and their protection from danger; they will not tremble.  We declare that any enemy or foe who comes to attack them will stumble and fall.  We confess that our soldiers will trust in You with all of their hearts and they will not depend on their own understanding.  They will seek Your will in all that they do, and we know that You will show them which path to take.  We declare that our military personnel are blessed and highly favored.  They will submit themselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from them. We cancel the assignment of anxiety, depression, anger, fear and confusion and declare that no weapon formed against them will prosper.  We command God’s order to prevail within the Veteran Affairs system.

Holy Spirit, show me how I can be a blessing to a military veteran:

Father, we ask that You continue to provide for the families of those soldiers who have been deployed to war.  We cry out for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ask that You will bring our soldiers home safely with sound minds and bodies.  As our soldiers return home, Holy Spirit, help them to process all they have experienced.  Heal any physical and emotional wounds. Please help them with their familial, social, and professional relationships.  Lord, we ask that the wait times for appointments at the VA Hospital will be shortened and that each veteran will be treated with dignity and respect.  Holy Spirit, we ask that You give our government officials the wisdom on how to cut down on the redtape that ensnares so many veterans from receiving all of the benefits they are entitled to.  As a nation, help us to not to overlook or discount the sacrifices our military veterans have made for the freedom of our nation.

Father, please forgive our active and inactive military personnel and allies for their sins.  Forgive them for lying, cheating, stealing, slander, strife, malice, envy, jealousy, selfishness, disobedience and rebellion. Forgive our nation for hypocrisy, slander, greed, racism, sexual immorality, injustice, elitism, hatred, and violence.  Father, forgive the media for misrepresenting the truth. Father, forgive the Church for not fasting and praying for local, national, and world leaders, especially President Trump and his administration. Father, touch the hearts of our military personnel and allies to forgive others and help them to forgive. Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).

Holy Spirit, remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive.  As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive.  (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive.  As He reveals them say, “I forgive name of person(s).”  Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)

Holy Spirit, help our active and inactive U.S. military and allies not into temptation; but deliver them from the evil one.

Lord, You reign.  You dwell between the cherubim; let the earth be moved.  You are great in Zion and highabove all people.  Your Name is so great and awesome. You are Holy.  Yours is the Kingdom, the power and glory, forever.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture References for the Written Text (NKJV & NLT): Psalm 90:1, Psalm 104:24, Psalm 27:1-2, Proverbs 3:5-6, Luke 1:28, James 4:7, Isaiah 54:17, I Corinthians 14:40, Matthew 6:13, Psalm 99:1-3.

4. Concepts to Consider

Many ancient cultures used “standing stones” (think Stonehenge, the Hammurabi stele, Egyptian obelisks, Mongolian “Deer Stones,” etc.) to indicate important boundaries, places of divine significance (often near altars), as memorials to the honored dead, to “publish” important decrees or contracts, and even as memorable “gifts” to deities.

The “Ebenezer” (“eben-ha-AHzer,”  אבן העזר“stone of help”) mentioned in 1 Samuel 7:12 above is a boundary, a memorial, is near a place of sacrifice, and also indicates a place of Divine significance and action. God did something miraculous and amazing for and through His people. It is interesting to note that Samuel erects this “standing stone” in the context of fasting (1 Samuel 7:6) that served as a tool in concert with ritual sacrifice (worship) and prayer to bring the People called Israel into alignment with God’s desire for covenant loyalty (“put away your foreign gods…”).  And when the people got into covenant alignment then God was free to act mightily on their behalf (1 Samuel 7:10).

Too often we  can get in God’s way.  He won’t cross the boundary of our free will, which is why  “Ebenezer” more fully translates to “thus far… to this point… at this place… God has helped us.”  But next time, where will your heart be?

Will you choose Me (covenant loyalty) or will you choose your “foreign gods” or  trust in your military treaties and iron chariots?

Reflection Questions

Personal Reflection:  Fasting is not transactional.  God doesn’t love us more or less if we fast or don’t. God simply waits for humans made in His image to line up behind Him and “get with His program” by agreeing with the way He’s ordered the cosmos and defines good and evil.  In other words, we get out of God’s way!  Where have you now or in the past “gotten in God’s way?”   Where in your life do you need God to “thunder” and bring victory?

Kingdom Reflection: The context of 1 Samuel 7 was corporate (“gather all Israel…”). How can we encourage one another in the Body of Christ to not to forsake the normative Christian practice of fasting?

Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:

If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7).  Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word,  phrase,  or image from the Scripture passages you read today.  Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord.  If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image.  You may want to set a timer.

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