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Sunday Recap for 7/23:  How is God at work even when we can’t see it?

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Sunday, July 23, Evident Grace Fellowship attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

How is God at work even when it looks like He is not?

And we looked at 1 Samuel 2:11-21 to answer our Big Picture Question:

1 Samuel 2:11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.

18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. 19 And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home.

21 Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.

We found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

How is God at work even when it looks like He is not?

  • He prepares Godly leaders.
  • He works through the people of God.
  • He blesses Godly families.

He prepares Godly leaders.

1 Samuel 2:11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.

Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, were corrupt priests who did not know the Lord.  They took the best of the sacrifices for themselves, and they threatened the people by force.  The worship of God became nothing more than a means to feed the priests’ appetites.  It would appear that people couldn’t worship even if they wanted to.  Yet, in the background, young Samuel was serving and ministering the Lord.  We have to remind ourselves that God is always at work and doesn’t leave His people without Godly leadership.  Even when it appears hopeless, God is at work preparing leadership for His people.

He works through the people of God.

1 Samuel 2:18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. 19 And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home.

Each year, sweet Hannah makes a robe for her son, Samuel.  She and her husband, Elkanah, bring it to him when they sacrifice.  And when they do this, Eli, the priest, gives them a blessing from God that they will have more children.  This is a wonderful picture of how God works in the people of God.  You have a faithful young man in Samuel.  You have a Godly family in Hannah and Elkanah.  And you have a Godly priest in Eli.  This is how God works…among the people of God, even in bad times.

He blesses Godly families.

1 Samuel 2:21 Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.

God blesses Hannah with more children.  The woman who couldn’t have any children is now going to have a ton of kids.  And Samuel continues to grow and serve in the presence of God.

Since the Garden, God has promised and will work in Godly families…even when it appears that all is lost.  God is at work.

Big Picture Question:  How is God at work even when it looks like He is not?

Truth:  Even when we can’t see it, God is continually at work through Godly leaders, the people of God, and Godly families.

Application:  Live knowing that God is at work for His glory and your good, no matter the circumstance

Action:  Look for God to keep His promises.  All else is a prayer and petition.

Sunday Recap for 7/16 Big Picture Question:  How does God serve and protect His people?

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Sunday, July 16, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at this Big Picture Question:

How does God serve and protect His people?

And we looked at 1 Samuel 2:9-11:

1 Samuel 2:9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. and the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

We found these three answers to our Big Picture Question:

How does God serve and protect His people

  • He Guards His People
  • The Lord Judges the Earth
  • The Lord Gives us His Anointed

He guards His people.

1 Samuel 2:9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven.

God guards His people, and He breaks His adversaries to pieces.  The child of God’s steps are guarded on our day to day path and ultimately to heaven.  Nothing, not even anything we can do, will take us off that path.  And God thunders to your defense.

The Lord judges the earth.

1 Samuel 2:10b The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;

We live in a sinful, broken world.  The injustices of our days are gross and ugly.  We are called to be agents of justice in this world.  But we must always remember, God is the judge of this world.  And though we may see pain and injustice that we fear will go unpunished and unjudged, God will judge sin and right every injustice.

The Lord gives us His anointed.

1 Samuel 2:10c he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. and the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest

Hannah concludes her song by prophesying that God will bring a king, His anointed who will protect His people with strength.  In light of what she has just sung, she isn’t singing of an earthly king.  God will sing His anointed, Jesus Christ, who protect God’s people in strength

Big Picture Question:  How does God serve and protect His people

Truth:  God righteously judges sin and guards His people through His anointed one, Jesus Christ.

Application:  Live knowing that you are constantly protected and cared for by Jesus Christ

Action:  Pray that God would move you to be more aware of and thankful for God’s service and protection.

Sunday Recap for 7/9 – Big Picture Question:  How does God oppose the proud but give grace to the humble?

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Sunday, July 9, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at this Big Picture Question:

What does it mean that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble

And we looked at 1 Samuel 2:4-8

4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question

What does it mean that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble

  • He changes dependencies.
  • He reverses fortunes.
  • He brings glory to Himself.

He changes dependencies

1 Samuel 2:4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 aThose who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.

Hannah sings of how God brings the proud down and exalts the humble.  The warrior who trusts his weapon…his weapon will be broken.  But the humble will literally put on the very strength of God itself.  Those who trust their possessions and the works of their hands, God will change their dependency.  Those who have been hungry, God will fill.

We may not see God do all of this in this world, but He will ultimately do it, even if in the world to come.  But God will definitively change the dependencies of His children.  He will either reorganize our lives or reorganize our hearts so that we trust Him.

He reverses fortunes

1 Samuel 2:5bThe barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 aHe raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.

God is sovereign and all-powerful.  God will cast down the proud and live up the lowly.  Those who trust themselves are forlorn, cast down to Sheol, made poor, and brought low.  The humble are blessed, give life, made rich, exalted, and give a seat of honor.

Though we desire to be strong and independent.  The place of worship is dependent on God.

He brings glory to Himself

1 Samuel 2:8bFor the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

Everything in this world is to give glory to God.  Pride cannot give glory to God.  Humility always does.

Big Picture Question: What does it mean that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble?

Truth:  God receives glory and pours out grace as you depend on Him during trials and tribulations.

Application:  Live knowing that God always gives grace, even as He exalts or humbles you.

Action:  More grace.  More humility.  More humility.  More grace.

Sermon Recap for 7/2 – Big Picture Question: What is a good day?

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Sunday, July 2, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at this Big Picture Question:

What is a good day?

We found the answer to that question in 1 Samuel 2:3-4.  We read the first 4 verses for context:

1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength

And we found these 3 answers to that question,

What is a good day?

  • A day full of our humility.
  • A day full of God’s knowledge.
  • A day full of God’s strength.

A day full of our humility

1 Samuel 2:3Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;

This is Hannah’s song that she sang as she gave her son, Samuel, to enter the priesthood.  In it, she emphasizes that the tendency of the human heart is to speak proudly and arrogantly.  She prays for no more of that.  Hannah was mocked arrogantly for not being able to have a child, and now that she has had one, she wants to guard her heart against arrogance.

This is the foundation for our hearts as well.  We are to mimic, and be enabled by the humility of Christ, each day. In asking for God’s help, it is the foundation for a day that will give God glory, and us great joy.

A day full of God’s knowledge

1 Samuel 2:3b for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed

God’s knows all things, and He gives that knowledge to us in the scriptures.  Since God is omniscient, it is His knowledge that weighs and judges all things.  God knows every thought we have.  He knows every desire of our heart, what we have done, and what we will do.

As 2 Corinthians 1 says 12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

The testimony and boast of the Christian is that we live by God’s knowledge.  It is the hope that Hannah had, it is the hope we have, and it is the foundation for our days

A day full of God’s strength

1 Samuel 2:4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.

The mighty here are warriors, the bow is their weapon.  The feeble are those who cannot defend themselves.  The image is that God breaks those who trust in themselves, but those who trust God, He gives them strength.  They put on the armor (bind on) the very strength of God Himself.

That was Hannah’s hope as she was helpless to have a child.  And it is the hope of our days as well.

Big Picture Question:  What is a good day

Truth:  Our humility, strengthened by God’s knowledge, is the key to a good day

Application:  Live knowing that God designs each one of your days to move you towards a humble strengthening from His word.

Action:  Commit today to spend as much time in the scriptures this week as you do some other discipline/habit…exercise, watching movies, etc.

Sunday Recap for 6/18/17 “What right does God have over a person’s life?”

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Sunday, 6/18/17, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

What right does God have over a person’s life?

We looked 1 Samuel 1:21-28:

21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

What right does God have over a person’s life?

  • He calls people to great sacrifice.
  • He calls people to worship.
  • He accepts our offering.

He calls people to great sacrifice.

21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23a Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.”

Hannah pledged to give Samuel back to God if He would give her a child. That child is Samuel, and it is closing in on the time when she needs to give Samuel to begin His training as a priest…but not yet. Hannah tells her husband, Elkanah, that she wants to wait until Samuel is weaned, and he says, “Only may the Lord establish his word.”

Like Hannah, we are called to sacrifice for God. We may not be called to sacrifice in the way she was, but we are all called to give our lives to God I service. And though we may have given our lives to God, it is God who establishes or keeps His word…not us. It is God who enables us to be faithful.

He calls people to worship.

23b So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young.

Hannah is taking Samuel to enter the priesthood. He has been weaned and is ready to begin his training. And again, we aren’t offering our children to the priesthood, but we are called to worship just as Hannah is.

1 Chronicles 16:23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 25 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods

He accepts our offering.

25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

God accepts Hannah’s offering as she “lends” Samuel to the Lord. The word “lent” means to be given over of made over to God. And God accepts this incredible sacrifice. And Jesus accepts your sacrifice because of the work of Jesus Christ.

Big Picture Question: What right does God have over a person’s life?

Truth: God authoritatively commands and graciously accepts your offerings of sacrifice and to worship.

Application: Live knowing that every aspect of your life is commanded and accepted by God as sacrificial worship.

Truth: This week, ask 3 people, who you love and trust, to point out areas in your life that you reserve from worship and sacrifice.

Sunday Recap for 061117:  Can God redeem good desires with bad motives?

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Sunday, June 11, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at this Big Picture Question

Can God Redeem Good Desires with Bad Motives

And we explored 1 Samuel 1:9-20 to answer that question

I Samuel 1:9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 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.” 12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

And we found these 3 answers to our question

Can God Redeem Good Desires with Bad Motives?  He can redeem

  • Good but clueless motives.
  • Good but desperate motives.
  • Good but harsh motives

Good but clueless motives

I Samuel 1:9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

Hanna is weeping in deep distress because she want to have children, but she can’t.  And her husband has another wife who has kids, and that woman mocks Hannah all the time.  But her very sweet husband loves her, and he wants to comfort her.  He asks, “Why are you so sad?  Aren’t I worth more than 10 sons?”

He wants to comfort her, but he has no idea how to.  His comfort is clueless.  Can God redeem that

Good but desperate motives

11 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.

Hannah is desperate.  She begins to bargain with God.  Ironically, she prays to the Lord of Hosts.  The Lord of Hosts is a name of God that displays His fullness, His all-powerfulness.  The irony is that if you are praying to the all powerful God who needs nothing, why offer Him anything?  God does not need anything.  But Hannah offered her son to God as a Nazarite priest.  But God doesn’t need that, does He?  Can God redeem this good but desperate motive?

Good but harsh motives

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

Hannah can’t catch a break.  Even her priest is mad at her.  He thinks that she has been drinking. He desires to protect the worship of God in the temple, but He is overly harsh to Hannah.

But God uses this overly harsh priest as a prophet.  He promises Hannah that she will have a child.  And she has one, names Him Samuel, and He ultimately become the priests who leads to David who leads to Jesus.

All mixed motives, yet God uses their desires to ultimately bring about Jesus.

Big Picture Question:  Can God Redeem Good Desires with Bad Motives?  He can redeem…

Truth:  Our God does not despise us for our clueless, desperate, and harsh motives because He redeems our desires to be part of His gracious plan.

Application:  Live knowing that in your struggle with your desires, God will weave His redemptive plan throughout your life…whether you get what you want or not

Action:  Ask God to purify your motives while asking Him to use your desires to advance the name of Jesus.

Sunday Recap for 6/4/17:  How is God hope for the hopeless?

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Sunday, 6/4/17, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

How is God hope for the hopeless?

And we lookd at 1 Samuel 1:1-8 to answer our question:

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.

6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.

8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

And we found these 3 answers to the Big Picture Question:

How is God hope for the hopeless?

  • God is compassionate.
  • God is sovereign.
  • God knows the heart.

God is compassionate.

1 Samuel 1:1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.

God is compassionate. And Hannah has a compassionate husband. Hannah wants to have children badly, but she can’t. So, as her husband offers this sacrifice each year, he takes a double portion of the food and gives it to Hannah because of her sadness. And all of this is part of worship. You see, God demonstrates His compassion to us in worship, and He often uses his people, like Elkanah, to give that compassion to one another.

God is sovereign.

1 Samuel 1:6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.

The scriptures are clear. Hannah couldn’t have children, and it was God who closed her womb. This is important for us to embrace. For us to fully embrace the hope of God, we must fully embrace that God is the one who ordains our circumstances. If He doesn’t ordain, what hope comes from one who is powerless? But as the one who ordains our steps, He is the one who gives them purpose along with our comfort.

God knows the heart.

1 Samuel 1:8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

While Elkanah compassionately gave His wife a double portion he cluelessly says these things. Friends, here is where we trust that only God knows the heart. And we like Elkanah, sometimes get it wrong when we try to comfort. But God knows the heart, and that is why were are not alone.

Big Picture Question: How is God hope for the hopeless?

Truth: God sovereignly gives hope to the hopeless through His compassionate knowing of the human heart.

Application: Live knowing that you are known by a sovereign God who constantly places His word and His people

Action: Ask God to make your hopeless situation an avenue of worship. Then, ask that He would use it to give hope to others who need it.

Sunday Recap for 5/28/17:  What is God’s heart for HIs people?

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Sunday, 5/28, we started our 1 Samuel Series entitled, “King of Hearts”. In it, we asked this Big Picture Question:

What is God’s heart for His People?

And to answer that question, we looked at Judges 2:16-23:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.

18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.

19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people has transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” 23 So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

What is God’s heart for His People?

  • He shows patience to His people.
  • He shows compassion to His people.
  • He disciplines His people.

He Shows Patience to His people.

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.

God’s patience to His people was shown by giving them Judges over and over again. God patiently gave them these spiritual, political, military leaders to protect them and lead them back to obedience.

God shows us His heart by putting people in our lives who bring us back to Jesus when we see. God uses pastors, church leaders, and church friends to patiently pray with us and share scripture with us so that when we see, we can return to obedience and worship.

He shows compassion to His people.

18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.

When the people sinned, their enemies came in and plundered their possession. And the people were oppressed and afflicted and they cried out to God. And God had compassion on them. Despite all of their problems being the result of their own actions, God still had compassion on them.

In situations like this, when the people of God pursue sin, God becomes anonymous. But when our circumstances worsen, God becomes necessary. And that is when God pours out compassion.

He disciplines His people.

19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people has transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” 23 So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.

Friends, sometimes when we sin, and our circumstances get worse, and we won’t repent, God allows those circumstances to stay for a prolonged period of time. But God’s heart in that discipline is to always restore you to Himself.

Big Picture Question: What is God’s heart for His People?

Truth: God reveals His heart for you by showing patience and compassion in both blessing and discipline.

Application: Live knowing every blessing and every trial is intended to teach you more about God’s heart and His love for you.

Action: Examine the most difficult part of your life and examine to see whether God is anonymous or necessary.

Sunday Recap for 5/21/17: What do we learn from Peter about loving Jesus?

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Big Picture Question: What do we learn from Peter about loving Jesus?

We looked at John 21:15-25 to answer that big picture question:

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers[b] that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

In regard to our first section of text, vs. 15-17,

If you have a God where sin is no big deal than love is no big deal either. God loves us through expensive grace – Jesus Christ going to the cross. His love is astounding & costly. We’re left astounded when we are confronted with the reality of our sinfulness and it being swallowed up in the ocean of God’s grace.

I think some of us can look at the line of questions to Peter and say something along the lines of, “man is Jesus just twisting the knife” with Peter. But he isn’t. He’s not twisting it. He is however using it. He is sing it like an expertly skilled surgeon. If you need surgery, do you want the best surgeon or someone working out of his basement? You want the best! But even after the best surgery though there’s still pain & recovery involved even though the root issue has been taking care of.

And that’s what we see in Jesus’ interaction with Peter. And not just Peter but with us as well. God uses friends, pastors, elders, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, life’s circumstances…all of these God uses and moves his surgical knife into our lives to operate and make us healthier to enable us towards greater things. Because He knows there is no way we will be healed and electrified by His love unless we see the depth of our sin and through that see the depth of his forgiveness…his love.

Looking at vs. 18-19: After restoring Peter and charging him to care for the sheep, God’s people, he reminds him to “follow me”. He says this when he first called the disciples 3 years prior. Nothing has changes. He reemphases the life-long pattern, live your life for the glory of God, in dependence on Him. This is the idea that Paul flushes out more in 1 Corinthians 10 when he tells the church, “Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

We live our lives to the glory of God. Not defined by our desires, necessarily, but rather submitted to Christ.

Looking at vs. 20-25, we see in this next interaction between Peter and Jesus that Peter isn’t perfect…The interaction that happened just at the beginning of our passage, Jesus’ call to him to feed his sheep doesn’t mean that he has it all together and figured out and is then being mobilized for ministry.

His thoughts immediately shift to John…to comparing himself to others. How easy it is for us to become distracted and envious of one another’s callings & gifting.

Jesus calls him out on it…Notice Jesus doesn’t retract his previous charge to care for His sheep though. He continues to come alongside him and uses this as a teaching moment to help him understand that God’s plans are God’s plans and to remind Peter to keep himself focused on Christ.

Again we have this call of “follow me”…twice now in this section of scripture. This is what Jesus is driving home to Peter and it’s also the call of Jesus to us this morning….to follow him. To trust him in situations when we are tempted to turn, run, hide, compare, doubt, and on and on.

In Conclusion, what do we learn from Peter about loving Jesus?

  • We are forgiven and restored
  • Accepting his counsel in our lives
  • We have purpose
  • Our following Jesus never ends
  • Trusting His plans

Sunday Recap for 5/14/17:  How does Christ send the church out?

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Sunday, 5/14, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

How does Jesus send the church out?

We looked at John 20:30-31 to answer that question:

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

And we found these 3 answers to our question:

Big Picture Question: How does Jesus send the church out?

  • He works even when we don’t see it.
  • He gives us the scriptures.
  • We have life by His name.

He works even when we don’t see it.

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

John is winding down, and he reminds us that Jesus did so much more than what was written in this book. Jesus was at work speaking, teaching, healing, and performing miracles, and many of them, we will not know until heaven. The underlying principle is that Jesus is always at work. Often we don’t see it, many times, we don’t know it, but He is at work.

That is a truth we must remind ourselves of. When we work for God, when we are married, when we raise our kids, and when we go to work, we hope Jesus at work. But when those things don’t go well, we ask, “Jesus, are you working?” This passage reminds us that He is. He is always at work whether we know it or see it.

He gives us the scriptures.

31a but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,

But we do have the scriptures, and they are written so that we might have life. We often wonder what God is doing and what we should do, but we are gifted with the scriptures to assure our hearts of God’s love and so that we might believe. When we worry about the future, we should refresh our hearts with what we know about God from the scriptures.

We have life in His name.

31b and that by believing you may have life in his name.

By believing we have life. There is a sweet story in John 21 when the disciples are hungry in the middle of the night. They push off shore and go fishing and don’t catch anything. They fish all night, but get nothing. Jesus calls from the shore and invites them to cast their nets on the other side, and they catch so many fish. When Peter realizes that it is Jesus, he jumps in the water to ge with him. There Jesus and the disciples enjoy a meal together.

This is life in Jesus’ name. We work, we fish, we commute…and it can be frustrating. But our hearts must long to be with Jesus just as Peter’s was. Then we can enjoy life in His name and we go out as the church in the world.

Big Picture Question: How does Jesus send the church out?

Truth: Even when we can’t see it, Jesus sends the church out, empowered by the scriptures and life in His name.

Application: Live knowing that Jesus continually sends you, by His name, into your day as part of the scripture empowered church to proclaim the Gospel.

Action: Refuse to see any part of your life as separate from either Jesus’ power or the advancement of the church.

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