Five Choices in Chaotic Times
Sun, Mar 15, 2020
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15–17 (ESV) Fear is cruel master. It grips and paralyzes us. It causes us to act irrationally. It isolates and imprisons us, but these words from Paul are words of gospel freedom. We know what family we are a part and we are assured of our relationship to God. That reality provides a bedrock for us to move through a fearful world. Especially in light of current uncertainty we need to understand and trust these truths. This week I want to address it directly as we consider this moment. Here's what is going to happen. We are monitoring the situation and have been listening to local authorities. We are planning on meeting at 10:30 am for worship together. We will be suspending our normal greeting time and not take communion on our normal end-of-the-month schedule for now. If you are sick or have a compromised immune system we ask you to stay home. If you are in a vulnerable state due to pre-exisiting conditions or age, we are encouraging you to stay home. We will work hard to make sure all of the service is streamed starting at 10:30 so all can connect. We will work to post the service online as soon as possible afterward. We will be considering other Hope activities on a case-by-case basis such as youth or community groups. We will communicate about those soon. Watch the FB group for the most immediate info. We have limited info on non-Hope activities (outreaches), but anticipate most will be postponed or cancelled. We will let you know when we know.
The Fall of a King
Sun, Mar 08, 2020
And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." - 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (ESV) 1 Samuel 15 is a difficult passage. It's not difficult because of manuscript/translation issues or even really the interpretation. Those things are fairly clear and straight forward. It's difficult because of what it says. People have looked at this text and walked away from the faith because of it. In the opening of the chapter God commands Saul to do something that many find questionable. Take a look at the opening verses. No doubt these are thorny issues to talk about and they directly connect to who God is and what he does. I actually think there is an issue in the text that is even more difficult to deal with because it's not a theoretical, theological distance but an individual personal struggle that exposes us to the core. Saul is a very religious person. He has no problem with the rites and rituals. The problem for Saul and for us is do those rites and rituals go beyond sights and scents? Do they mean anything to us at a heart level? In other words does our religion change the way to live? When Samuel shows up after the battle with the Ammorites he confronts Saul's religion and ours. How will he respond? How will we respond? Take a few minutes and read through 1 Samuel 13-15 as we explore the fall of the first king of Israel, in our search for a real King.
The Prophet's Farewell
Sun, Mar 01, 2020
If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. - 1 Samuel 12:14-15 (ESV) In the closing words of the Dr. Seuss' classic Oh, the Places You'll Go, he points the reader into the future with this very suessical farewell. 'You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.' Turning the pages of life can be exciting and scary. They come with opportunities, challenges, and choices. In the upcoming chapter of 1 Samuel 12 a page is turned. The prophet-judge Samuel has presided over a peaceful transition of power from himself to the newly chosen king of Israel, Saul. As he leaves he points the nation both backward and forward. He wants to remind them of who and whose they are. He gives them a choice and direction. What will they do? What will their newly crowned king do? Take some time to read his farewell speech, or maybe use a Bible app and listen to this appeal to the nation to seek God. Hear the prophet's heart for the people.
The Unlikely King
Sun, Feb 23, 2020
Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. - 1 Samuel 10:20-21 (ESV) 'Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it!' This phrase is a haunting truth that often what we want isn't what we need. Ever been there? Your heart longs for something, but when it arrives it's disappointing. Even worse it not only does not satisfy the desire, but it only multiplies the problems of life. This week, we are introduced to the first king of Israel - Saul. He is the king the people ask for. He is literally 'head and shoulders above' everyone. From the outside he is a king just like the other nations, but he is also deeply flawed. I think in many ways he is more of a judgment on the people and their desires than a solution to their fears. Take a few minutes to read through 1 Samuel 8-11. It's a story with twists and turns. It's filled with the miraculous and ridiculous. We will take some time this Sunday to re-tell it as we try to understand what God's purposes and plans are in the middle of it.
Blessing or Judgment
Sun, Feb 16, 2020
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” - 1 Samuel 8:4–5 (ESV) Have every really wanted something so bad that you begged God for it? Did God answer your prayer? When you received it did it turn out like you planned? When we ask God for things we want Him to answer our prayers by granting our wishes. When He doesn't we can become disappointed and doubt, but have you ever considered that God giving you something could not be his blessing but actually his judgment? It's a reversal of how we usually think. Getting what we want has to be blessing. Right? In 1 Samuel 8, Samuel is old, and the people are without a king. They are still doubting God and their solution,' give us a king!' If we only had a king then things would be better. We would be safe, protected, and whole. The only problem is their desire and dependance on a king means they have forgotten who is the true King. Take a few minutes to read through 1 Samuel 8 to get the context of the narrative. Come ready to consider what you are asking God for and plan to bring a friend with you to church.
What We Long For
Sun, Feb 09, 2020
What does it take to see renewal in your life? Life's a mess but God can make something beautiful out of it. This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.
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.
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