July 21

1 Chronicles 11:17-19 (NIV) 17David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!" 18So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. 19"God forbid that I should do this!" he said. "Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.

David's mighty men were so committed to him because of the Spirit they saw upon him (see yesterday's devotion) that an expressed desire caused them to risk their lives. Not every desire of an anointed leader is from the Lord. Leaders who have such loyal men must be very careful in what they say to those who support them in ministry.

David longed for a drink from the well in Jerusalem. These three mighty warriors decided they would battle their way to the well and back to honor his request. When David received the water, he did something that must have broken their hearts. He poured it out to before the LORD. Then he explained why.

The men had risked their lives for his personal desire. David knew that life was sacred and should only be put on the line for the One who gave life. How could he partake of something those men had risked their lives for? That would cheapen life and put him in the position of God. Later in David's life, he did cross this boundary for a different desire. This passage shows us that he clearly knew where the line was. Devotion to an anointed leader is a good thing as long as that leader is expressing God's desires and not his own. We have the Spirit and must discern which is which.

Consider: Can I be as devoted to God's wishes as these men were to David's?

July 21

Acts 7:55-56, 60 (NIV) 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

One of the first deacons was a man named Stephen. He had such a powerful witness that no one could resist the wisdom with which he presented Jesus as the Messiah. That made a group of Jews very angry. They hired some false witnesses to falsely testify against him, accusing him of speaking against the law and the temple.

Stephen began to recount their history. He reminded them that God had spoken through the prophets saying God did not live in buildings. Then he reminded them that their forefathers had always killed God's messengers just as they had killed the One that Moses had predicted would come to them.

In a rage, they dragged Stephen out to stone him. Stephen had a vision of Jesus standing to receive him. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, the place of power and authority. He stands to receive His martyrs, His witnesses. Stephen's last words were to the One in the vision. He asked that He not hold the sin they were committing against them. That is what Jesus had requested of the Father on the cross. The first of many martyrs for the cause of Christ fell asleep, the Lord sparing his body the pain of the rocks that were to pummel his body.

Stephen had the boldness that the apostles prayed for. He did not back down when threatened, but used it as an opportunity to speak the truth. We need such an example today. Many we meet are living in careless disregard for the God that made them. They ignore His sacrifice as if it were nothing. Someone needs to tell them. We need the boldness that Stephen had to speak the truth in love. His words fell on the ears of Saul, who would later become the apostle to the Gentiles.

Remember: If we will boldly speak, God's word will do the work.