God and the Election part 1 – November 7, 2016

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1 Samuel 8

The day before the elections and people have made the choice to skip voting altogether, because they don’t agree with the principles of any of the candidates. It seems in this nation that many people take for granted the privilege to choose and they don’t even bother to exercise that right. Sadly, history shows us that if you don’t exercise your rights, you are likely to lose them.

Over the last few decades there has been a lot of discussion about the separation of the church and the state. While a don’t believe a pastor should direct the congregation to vote for a specific candidate, I also don’t think that the church should stand idly by and allow corruption and immorality to govern our nation.

DR. Adrian Rogers once said, “the church and state should remain separate institutionally, but the church should be the conscience of the state.

The church is supposed to be the moral compass of the nation, unfortunately the church has spent so much time arguing amongst themselves and debating between denominations, that we have abdicated our voice of morality. Churches and Christians see themselves as poor victims a weak and victimized minority. But Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world…” As Christians and as a church, we are Christs ambassadors and when we sit idly by, Satan will continue to destroy this nation.

I came across an interesting quote this week attributed to the 19th century prime minister of England, Benjamin Disraeli.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

In 1 Samuel 8 the nation of Israel was going through a leadership transition. The great prophet Samuel was getting old and the people began asking for a King. Under Samuel’s leadership, the nation had expanded, their enemies had been subdued and the nation’s surrounding Israel were at peace. But the people were not satisfied, they wanted a king and God gave them what they desired.

The nation of Israel began looking around to the nations around them and asked for a king to be like the other nations (See 1 Samuel 8:5). The people were crying out for a savior, they thought that Samuel would give them a King and he would solve all their problems. On the surface, to ask for a king seemed like a reasonable request, it seemed like Israel was coming of age as a nation and needed to fit the mold of a successful nation. But this request upset Samuel because he realized that the nation had rejected God as their King and were looking for an earthly leader (verse 7).

The problem was not that they wanted a King, the problem was that they were turning their back on God. This nation of God’s chosen people, the people of the promise to Abraham, the same people of the covenant that God made with Moses on Mt Sinai, they wanted to settle for an earthly king to rule over them.

Sadly, in America today we are not much different, we look to a president or the leaders in Washington to solve our problems, instead of turning to the only one who can solve the problems of this nation and the world – Jesus Christ.

Israel had forgotten who they were, they had lost their moral compass. In response God tells Samuel to warn the nation that a king will require from them a heavy burden of taxes, their sons and daughters will be required to serve in his army and in his courts. The burden on the people will be heavy, but yet, they demanded a king. God gave the children of Israel what they wanted, God in his great mercy and wisdom gives nations what they ask for because ultimately God uses the leaders of nations for his purposes.

Even though the people came to Samuel and demanded a King, God chose Saul the son of Kish a Benjamite to be the first King of Israel. We read in chapter 9 and 10 of 1 Samuel, how God chose Saul, who seemed to have amazing leadership skills and potential to be a powerful King. Unfortunately, Saul became a bad king and just as God had said, the nation became his slaves. Bad leaders enslave their people, and that is what Saul did.

We need to prayerfully consider the choice of the election ballot, because as a nation God will give us the president we ask for. As believers we have a divine voting guide, it is the Word of God. Don’t be misled for one minute into thinking that the Word of God does not apply to your choice on Tuesday November 8, it has everything to do with it (see Psalm 119:105 and Proverbs 29:2).

The next president of the United States faces some incredible problems, foreign and domestic terrorism will always be a concern, our economy and national debt is spiraling out of control, the polarization of the nation between liberals and conservatives has reached a boiling point and the next president will have the opportunity to determine the judges on the Supreme court for many years to come.

But as Christians, who are we looking to? If we are placing our hope in the next president, whomever that may be, we will be disappointed. This coming Wednesday God will still be on the throne, he will still be ruling and managing the worlds affairs. God has never needed a king or a president, he raises them up and he puts them down for his purposes.

There are so many issues that we can identify in the world that need fixing, there is no human leader who can possibly solve even some of the nation’s problems Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.

There is nothing wrong with being involved in politics or voicing our frustrations with the leaders of our country, but we must view everything from an eternal perspective. As followers of Jesus Christ, this world is not our home, and we must put our trust in Jesus Christ and in no one else. We don’t need a king to be our savior we have Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we get so anxious about the temporal kingdoms here on earth that we forget about God’s eternal Kingdom. (see 1 Peter 2:9-10)

Lessons from the life of King David Part 2; April 10, 2016

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1 Samuel 26

Saul is trying to hunt down David once again, he takes 3000 of his best warriors. This is the second time that Saul was hunting down David, he was embarrassed the first time (see 1 Samuel 24).

Saul feared David, he knew that David was God’s chosen leader to replace him, his fear drove him to try to destroy David. David on the other hand is filled with courage, he doesn’t run away, in fact in we read that David went out to engage with Saul. Just like David engaged Goliath, he had boldness to confront his enemy.

 David decides to go into the camp of Saul and he asks for a volunteer to go with him. Abishai volunteers for the mission. Abishai is actually David’s nephew, and a fearless warrior. But for all his courage, Abishai lacks self-control. He asks David if he can kill Saul. But David is not persuaded, he is listening to a higher authority.

Be careful who you listen to. Your closest friends will give you advice that seems to be right, but is that what God is telling you to do? It’s not wrong to get advice from others, but you need to check this against the Word of God.

David quickly rebukes Abishai and once again reminds him that Saul is the Lords anointed. Apart from sparing the life of the King, David was teaching Abishai the order of God’s kingdom. God puts leaders in place. (See Romans 13:1).

We wrestle with this, what if the king is mad? God says honor those He has placed in leadership over you, David shows us that you don’t have to abide by immoral decisions they make, but respect their position.

David and Abishai take the spear and the water jug from Saul and go and stand on a hill with a valley between them and the army of Saul. David taunts Abner but shows the utmost respect for Saul (v17, 18 and 19).

 After Saul and his army are humbled, it seems that Saul has a change of heart. He repents and asks David to forgive him. Note these words; “, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son.” It was so evident to Saul and to everyone else that God was with David, he could only repent. As far as we can determine from scripture, Saul resigns himself to the fact that his days are numbered, he does not try to interfere with God’s plan for the nation again.

Saul invites David to come back, but in verse 22 we read that David politely declines. David trusts the Lord, but he does not trust Saul. We must honor and respect those that God has placed in leadership over us, but we must not be gullible. After all they are still fallen people.

David declares to Saul that he trusts that God will reward him, he is not looking for the approval of man. What a lesson to us all. Who are we looking to for a reward or praise?

Saul is completely humbled and acknowledges David’s future. It is clear to Saul and to everyone who was there that day that David was a great man, anointed by God and destined for greatness.

Why did David not allow Abishai to kill Saul? Because David trusted that God was in control, he believed in the sovereignty of God.

If God is in control, we can trust Him for the future and with our lives. David showed this practically, Saul was a terrible King, but David knew that only God had the right to remove him from his position of leadership.

Anyone with an ounce of ambition would have taken matters into his own hands and killed Saul, no-one would have blamed him. But David trusted the Lord.

None of us are in the position that David was in, being anointed as King over Israel. But most of us can identify with an overbearing leader, a cruel boss, an incompetent supervisor, an overbearing parent, or an abusive husband. What do we do in those situations? Do we fight back? David didn’t, a few chapters earlier in 1 Samuel we read the account of Saul hurling a spear at David, what did David do? He ducked.

There is a bit of Saul in all of us, and if we take the situation into our own hands and try to make things right outside of the will of God, we become just like Saul. If David had killed Saul, he would have taken the throne as king by force, and he would have been no better than Saul.

Who is the Saul in your life? Who is that person that you wrestle with submitting to, that leader who has no business being in charge, but yet they have the title.

How you respond makes a huge difference. If you respond in bitterness and gossip, it will just eat you up.

If you respond in humble submission, respecting the person’s authority, you will find peace from God.

Another benefit of humble submission is that others notice, your co-workers notice, your children notice. And one day when you are in that position of authority those who noticed your response will be your biggest supporters.

Like David’s mighty men, who witnessed this event, they never questioned his authority, they chose to fight and die for David, because he honored the Lord with his patience (See James 1:2-4).

Trust God with the Saul’s in your life, God is working in you, testing your faith, producing perseverance, and maturing you. God is not distant and unaware of your pain and suffering, He is intimately involved in your life, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ.

Lessons from the life of King David Part 1; April 03, 2016

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1 Samuel 16

The world is full of many rags to riches stories. We love these stories, we make movies about the characters, and we teach our children to look at them as role models.

But the truth is that we only recognize greatness once it has been achieved in man’s eyes. The process, the humble beginnings, the hard work and the pathway of insignificance is mostly ignored by the world.

In the same way a person that God is forming for his purposes is often ignored and sometimes even ridiculed for their humble position and low standing in society. But God knows and God is working in all of us if we would just let him, to become someone that can be greatly used by Him.

This week we are starting a five part series on David, the warrior king of Israel, who was used by God to firmly establish and expand the nation. David was also the only person in the Bible who had the title; “a man after God’s own heart” as we see in Acts 13:22.

David came from humble beginnings, yet God saw him and called him to serve as King. In this narrative we have three main characters.

Saul was the king that God had given to Israel, but after Saul’s disobedience God rejected him (1 Samuel 15). Samuel is the great prophet of God and was more than simply a seer, he was regarded as a judge, highly respected and highly feared as well. And then we have David, his father Jesse was a man who lived in Bethlehem. Jesse had eight sons and David was his youngest son.

These events took place in 1024 BC, David himself was somewhere between 20 and 25 years old. The first time we see David in the story, he is described in a remarkable way (v 12). But he was the baby of the family and didn’t have much respect with his older brothers.

When Samuel went to Bethlehem, the leaders of the town trembled when they met him. They wondered if he was coming in judgment. I am sure that all the town of Bethlehem knew that the great prophet was in town and that he had chosen to invite Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice. Something was up! The seven older sons of Jesse were probably eager to be in the spotlight. Samuel told them to consecrate themselves in preparation for the sacrifice. This was a ritual washing and probably putting on clean clothes. I can imagine them dressing in their Sabbath best trying to impress the great leader coming to town. But where is David the youngest son? He is still tending the sheep, he knew about the sacrifice, but he faithfully kept on doing what was required of him. This is key, David didn’t try to arrange to be in the presence of Samuel. He didn’t ask someone to do his chores for him, he didn’t try to promote himself.

After all the brothers are rejected, finally as a last resort, David is thought of. Oh, yeah… there is one more son.

As they call David in he is probably covered in dust and smells of sweat and dirty sheep. Notice that he is not consecrated, because in God’s eyes he is already consecrated. He has a pure heart and God looks on the inside, where man looks on the outside.

Samuel sees him and God tells him that David is the one. So Samuel anoints David. As Samuel anoints David, he is filled with the Holy Spirit (V13). Something supernatural happened, the Spirit of the Lord came in power as David was anointed. The ESV bible says, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.

It must have been a surprise for his father and brothers. It is unlikely that Jesse, or anyone else in the family, including David completely understood what had just happened. But the Lord was preparing David to be the leader of the nation. From a humble shepherd boy to a mighty warrior king.

David was already a man of integrity and courage, but now God added the power of His Spirit on him. David began to shine and he began to be noticed. Notice how Saul’s attendant recommends David in glowing terms in verse 18. David’s recognition quickly gets him favor and promotion in the service of King Saul. He rises to be one of the Kings Armor bearers.

Notice the progression here, from humble shepherd, to being selected, to being anointed and empowered by God, this humble shepherd is recognized and finds favor in the Kings courts. David was rejected and put down by his brothers, yet he was chosen by God. God had planned for David to be the next King even before he had been born. He was destined for this. (See Psalm 139:16)

What is remarkable in this chapter is David’s humility, not once do we read that David stood up and called attention to himself. He did not promote himself, rather he was recognized by God and man.

What a contrast to the world we live in. Our world says; “be noticeable, promote yourself, market yourself, tell the world how good you are.” But David is silently confident, trusting in the Lord.

It is much better to be promoted by God than to be recognized and promoted by man.

Too many people today try to push themselves into prominent places without first proving themselves at home in the small matters. Character that God uses is developed in the life of obscurity.

God was preparing David while he was faithfully doing his work as no one noticed. But isn’t it interesting that what we do when no one notices, becomes what everyone notices.

People notice the outward manifestation of our inward life.

Our time spent with the Lord each day prepares us for the plans that God has for us.

What is God preparing you for? As God is preparing you, remember that how you serve today is just as important as what you will be doing in the future.