Revival in Israel
Sun, Feb 02, 2020
And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only. - 1 Samuel 7:3–4 (ESV) We live in an era where news, events, tragedy, and triumphs from around the globe are reported to us almost instantly. Often times it is so quick we don't know how or if we should respond. We question a story's legitimacy, and our emotions affect how we react. In our day it seems that slow, thoughtful reasoned analysis of new events is at a deficit. I bet if it was reported on the news or the internet that a revival had broken out in another part of the country it would be met with cautious optimism at best or cynical dismissal at worst. But what if? In our text for this week, 1 Samuel 7:2-22, we see Samuel step into the spotlight and speak to the nation. What is his message? What does he call for? Take a few minutes to read through the text. It's an amazing text of renewal and revival. I'm praying that this affects us both personally and corporately.
Who is The LORD Almighty
Sun, Jan 26, 2020
So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. - 1 Samuel 4:4–5 (ESV) We are a superstitious people. In order to harness the forces beyond our control, we use sacred objects, special words, and potions to obtain the outcome we want. Most of us would scoff at such an idea. Consider what you do or say or wear to ensure your team wins, or what you do to ward off sickness, or what you knock on when you utter something that you fear may happen. All of these are mild forms of superstition. They are funny and odd, but there is something much more dangerous...being superstitious about God. In our text in 1 Samuel this week the nation of Israel decides they will use God for their purpose. They are going to conscript Him to battle on their behalf. That doesn't go so well. The Philistines then decide after Yahweh's grand defeat they will just add Him to their pantheon of gods. That does not go well either. I want to encourage you to read 1 Samuel 4-6. In this text we are going to find the uncontrollable, just, preeminent, almighty God. Take a minute to consider if you use or worship God.
A Tale of Two Houses
Sun, Jan 19, 2020
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. . . And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD. - 1 Samuel 2:12-21 (ESV) Reporters are always on the look out for scoops and scandals and it seems that there is an endless supply. From politics to baseball, the news is full of them. The church is not without it's fair share. Even in the last few months reports have emerged about that have include churches and clergy involved in varied sins and illegal activities. It's the sad reality of living in a broken world. What are the consequences for such behavior? Does God care? What happens when those that should be God's representatives fail? The story in 1 Samuel 2-3 is the story of two families headed in opposite directions. Eli and his sons were supposed to be the priests of Israel, interceding for the people, but instead they fed their passions. Samuel is a young man growing up alongside of those failures. In these chapters we find God's judgement and grace and look beyond them for a prophet, priest, and king whose interests are not divided. Would you take a few minutes to read through these chapters (1 Samuel 1-2) to get your mind and heart ready to learn and worship together.
Origin Story
Sun, Jan 12, 2020
She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” - 1 Samuel 1:10–11 (ESV) Every hero has an origin story. That story shapes who they are, what motivates them, and what they fear, and where they are weak. Whether it's Achillies or Batman these stories help us understand these heroes. In many ways they help us relate to them. In some ways scripture is similar. When it comes to key figures in the Bible we often are presented with their origin stories. Whether its Adam or Abraham or Moses or Jesus each of their origin stories tells us information about them. As we begin our study in 1 & 2 Samuel, we get an origin story. This story tells us about Samuel's background and family, but the focus of the story is not on Samuel, but on his mother Hannah. In her we find a woman in distress. What's important is the source and solution for that distress. I want to encourage you to become familiar with the narratives we will be covering. Take some time between now and Sunday to read through 1 Samuel 1-2. Don't get hung up on the names or places, but look at the people and their struggles in midst of life.
The Backstory
Sun, Jan 05, 2020
And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. - Judges 21:24–25 (ESV) Reading the storyline of the Old Testament is often a mix of the familiar, the weird, and what feels like the Lord of the Rings. We might have the ring of familiarity from snippets of stories we heard in Sunday school, but then we bump into things like polygamy and witches that never seemed to find their way on to a flannel graph. We might have heard of a character or two that has been moralized in a character study. We hear of their triumphs, but their failures are either papered over or derided. What we lose is the real storyline with all of its wonder and warts. This week we begin our next big series - We Need a King (1 & 2 Samuel). This will take us through a tumultuous time in the history of God's people. It will also show us how God works to carry out his purposes in spite of and with flawed, sinful, and even rebellious people. We will build a portrait of what we really need - a true, faithful, forever King. This Sunday we get the backstory examining what comes before and who we need to be looking for in the narrative. Take a few minutes and read the first few chapters of 1 Samuel and why not invite a friend to join us in this new year. See you Sunday at 10:30.
Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude
Sun, Dec 29, 2019
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. - 1 John 5:1–3 (ESV) What do you want to change in 2020? What resolutions are you making? How will 2020 be different then 2019? These are the types of questions that seem to be inescapable after Christmas. We reflect on what 2019 brought and we think about what is ahead. What I can tell you is that change will come in 2020. Some of that change will happen because of your effort. Some change will happen because of decisions you make - good and bad. Also, some changes will happen from forces outside of your control. How do you think of change in your spiritual life? Is that important? If I just read my Bible, go to church, and pray, will I change? I'm not a fan of resolution-type sermons, but I'm talking about our spiritual progress. It may not involve grand plans or checklists and probably won't emerge from what you think. Take some time to read in 1 John 4-5. In these chapters the old apostle John encourages his readers to evaluate and mature.
Shepherds and Angels
Sun, Dec 22, 2019
The Cast of Christmas - Shepherds and Angels - Luke 2:8-20
Three Kings
Sun, Dec 15, 2019
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." - Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV) What is Christmas without Santa Claus? For many in the evangelical world this is a question that splits individuals and families. Is he a fun figure to encourage kindness and obedience during the season? Or is it a myth that encourages us to lie to your kids? Don't worry I'm not stepping into the Catastrophic Claus Controversy, but I would encourage you to check out what we do know about the real Pugilist Not So Jolly Non-Elf. However, there are other mysterious figures in the real Christmas story. This week we take a look at some figures that are usually pictured around the nativity but weren't really there. Who they are, where they are from, and why they are there helps point us to the true nature of the one who has come. I encourage you to read through Matthew 2 as we prepare to look at the Magi this week in our series - 'The Cast of Christmas'. Why not invite someone to come with you?
Mary and Joseph
Sun, Dec 08, 2019
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. - Matthew 1:18-19 (ESV) What's your favorite Christmas movie? There are all kinds of unforgettable characters that surround Christmas - Frosty, Rudolph, Buddy, Kevin, and John McClane to name a few, but one I've been thinking about recently is Ebenezer Scrooge. The original Bah Humbug himself calls us to consider the path that we are on and how it potentially could lead us to happiness or destruction. That's the morality of Christmas. Be kind, nice, and generous especially at Christmas. We might think that the point of Christmas is not to end up on the 'naughty list'. If we aren't careful, we overlay these messages to our celebration of Advent. The Cast of Christmas just becomes another in the long line at Christmas that are telling us be be better and be nicer. While the true story of Christmas will change us, this change doesn't well up from within us. It actually originates from something beyond us, and the cast of Christmas wants to point us toward it. This Sunday we look at an unlikely lowly couple central to the story, Mary and Joseph. What do they have to tell us about Christmas, and how do they point us not to be better but to find the One who is better?
The Prophets
Sun, Dec 01, 2019
The Prophets - Genesis to Isaiah
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