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Evident Grace Sunday Recap for 05/27/18 – Defending the Honor of God

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1 Samuel 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

 

8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

 

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.  17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

 

19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. 24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

3 Rules when preaching on David and Goliath

 

  • Don’t Spiritualize.
  • Don’t be cute or original
  • Be faithful to text

 

This passage does the exact opposite of most readings.  This text is not about overcoming challenges in your life.  Martin Luther called that approach a “Theology of glory” – the glory of self.  No this is about the complete surrender of self.  This is about the world’s hatred of God and His people.  This is about God’s honor and God’s people desperately needing a champion.

 

The story of David and Goliath is really about two forces:

 

  • On one side is sin, death, and this world.
  • And those other side is God’s glory and honor defended and advanced by Jesus Christ

 

I knew a pastor once.  He hit the ground running.  His banner was Jesus and the advancement of the gospel.  But then he was hit with every obstacle.  Everything from financial hardships, to persecution, to personal health, to even conflicts the church happened.  The pastor felt alone, unsupported, unliked, and oppressed.

 

This passage as the only thing that kept him going.   Not because he was David and those issues were Goliath.  No, this passage better taught him the true conflict in this world.  This passage caused him to love Jesus, God’s champion, all the more.  And this passage showed him where he was called to defend God’s honor.

 

Hopefully, we can all embrace those truths with this Big Idea.

 

Big Idea:  God’s Champion and Your Part in the Fight.

 

There is a War Between the World and God’s People

The World Demands a Response

The People of God are Called to Defend His honor

 

There is a War Between the World and God’s People

 

1 Samuel 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines.

 

Philistines are a constant nuisance and danger to the people of God.  Why is that? The Philistines were an ancient people, listed in the records of those who descended from Noah’s son Ham after the time of the flood (Genesis 10:14).  But it was during the time of the Exodus that the Lord promised that the land of Israel would include the territory of the Philistines (Exodus 23:31); this promise meant that some kind of conflict would have to take place for Israel to displace the Philistines.  When Joshua was old, he mentioned the land of the Philistines as one of the areas that still remained to be defeated by Israel (Joshua 13:1–3). Because the Philistines were not completely removed, Israel faced them as perennial enemies.

 

So, in 1 Samuel, we see the Philistines conflict almost as constant.

 

  • 1 Samuel 4 they defeated the people of God. Israel brought out the ark, and Israel was decimated.
  • 1 Samuel 7, the people of God defeated the Philistines. “The LORD thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they fled before Israel” (7:10)
  • 1 Samuel 13, this is when the Philistines defeat Israel. Saul asks Samuel to offer a sacrifice.  When it takes Samuel 7 days to get there, Saul offers an unbiblical sacrifice.
  • 1 Samuel 14, Saul’s son, Jonathan defeats the Philistine’s, but because Saul said no one was allowed to eat until the Philistines were defeated, the whole battle falls apart and Philistines are not entirely wiped out.

 

So here we are again.  The Philistines hate the people of God.

 

3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

 

This is an issue of military high ground. Why fight it out one on one?  “If the enemy is in range, so are you – Infantry Journal” So, the Philistines say, “Let’s just fight this out one on one.

 

And they bring out their champion, Goliath who is somewhere between 6’9” feet and 9 feet. This may seem ridiculous to us, but imagine the short players from the Jerry West era of the NBA staring at 7’ 1” Shaq. Generally short than most Americans, the real comparison would be something like 5’3” Muggsy Bogues staring up at 7’7” Gheorghe Mureșan

 

And not only Goliath a physical menace, he is decked out in weapons and armor.  He has a helmet of brass, coat of mail (snake), a greaves of brass on his legs, a target of brass on his back, and a spear. On top of that, he had another guy just to carry his shield for him and that guy went ahead of him.

 

8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

 

Goliath mocks God and the people of God? Am I not a Philistine?  Aren’t you the servant of Saul? Saul was head and shoulders above everyone. Tell you what, why don’t you pick one guy, any guy you want, the biggest dude you got, the fastest dude you got. We can do this any way you want.  MMA, Brazilian ju jitzu, Judo, muy thai. Just bring him on out, and we can throw a little of the sweet science around, and may the best man win.

 

The basis of the conflict between Israel and the Philistines is that Israel advanced into Philistine territory and took their land and that conflict always goes back and forth. So now in the New Testament we don’t live in the context of taking physical property on behalf the kingdom of God. But in the New Testament context in the light of Jesus in the arrival of the kingdom of God that he brings there still is territory for the Christian to take it is only spiritual. That means that you are constantly called to advance and take spiritual territory for the kingdom of God in this world and that means that if you live that out you will be constantly hated by the world.  If your expression of Christianity in the proclaiming of Jesus Christ is not putting you in some conflict with the world that is the equivalent of an Israelite soldier who just doesn’t go into battle.  It doesn’t mean that the world doesn’t hate you it just means that the world can’t distinguish you as a representative of the kingdom of God

 

The World Demands a Response

 

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

 

Happy to be numbered among the people of God.  Not willing to defend His honor. Happy perhaps even to proclaim themselves as an Israelite.  Not willing to put themselves in danger or harm’s way. I defy the ranks of Israel I dare you to stand up and act like a believer in God. You don’t have the guts. Passivity is not activity. The world is practically daring Christians to stand up and act like Christians.

 

The People of God are Called to Defend His honor

 

17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

 

19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

 

The earthly champion of God’s people stand to fight GoliathHe heard.  He cares more about the honor of God than he does his reputation or his safety. Defying the people of God, even if they are cowards, is defying the living God Himself.

 

24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

 

There has got to be someone who cares about the honor of God? The one who does will be rich. Their thought process is something like this, “We love Godly people who stand up against evil.  In fact, I really this really bold guy who has a podcast. It would be great if someone like that stood of God and his honor…but no me.”

 

So, David asks, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine to defy the armies of the living God.” David is defending a bunch of spineless weak people. It is wonderfully popular, smug, and self-righteous to beat up Christians right now. And you know what?  And we give so much ammunition to our enemies. In the past two years alone, the church has shown itself to be racist, populists, misogynists, and a people unwilling to defend the helpless and abused.  Our voices rain down with so many others.

 

But we are called to defend the honor of God and the people of God.

 

Below is adapted from unknown author…

 

So, first and foremost, we are not David. We are the Israelites who are cowering in fear in the corner because we can’t face the giant on our own. We can’t beat our enemies on our own. So, we need a David to stand in our place and to defeat our enemies.  But then what happens after that?  David slings the rock that crushed the enemy’s head.  Then, David takes his sword and cuts his head off.  Their enemies run. The Israelite army pursues.

 

That’s how we preach that. You can face your enemies and you have the courage to face your enemies, but you only do that once you recognize, as Jerry Vines says, we don’t fight for victory in the Christian life we fight from victory.  So, it’s a picture of sanctification, but a sanctification that is based in what Jesus has done in saving us.”

 

Big Idea:  God’s Champion and Your Part in the Fight.

 

Big Idea:  Christ ends the world’s hostility with God through the cross & the ongoing proclamation of the Gospel by His people.

 

Application:  Live knowing that Christ ended the enmity between the world, Satan, your sin, and God.

 

Action:  Boldly proclaim Christ by name, not for victory, but out of victory this week. 

 

Evident Grace Sunday Recap from 05.20.18 Big Picture Question: What does God use to accomplish His will?

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Sunday, May 20, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 16:14-23:

1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

From those scriptures, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What does God use to accomplish His will?

And we found these three answers:

God uses evil.

God uses providence

God uses the gifting of His people

Let’s look at our first point.

God uses evil.

1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you.

God will use all things to bring about His will, even evil itself.  Satan and God are not in a battle.  God battles no one.  He is the sovereign ruler of all things, and all things serve His purposes.  Here is a brief example of how evil, specifically demonic forces, interact with Jesus.

  • The demons know that Jesus has come to earth from heaven to judge them (Rev 19:15)
  • Jesus has come to destroy the kingdom of darkness (Gen 3:15, Rom 16:20)
  • Jesus has disarmed the demonic order of their power (Col 2:15)
  • Jesus has set the captives free from sin and death (Rom 6:23, Rom 8:2).
  • The demons call Jesus the “Son of God” a clear declaration of Jesus’ divinity (Matt 26:63-64; John 5:17ff; 10:33-36). The demons recognize Jesus as the “Holy One of God” which is always a reference to God almighty
  • Ultimately, God will punish Satan and his demons by casting, Satan, demons, and all of hell into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).

God uses providence

16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.”  

God specifically orders all things to bring about His will.  Though David is set apart to be king, very few people know who he is.  By bringing David into the work of Saul, David will gain stature and respect among the people.  Here, God is providentially ordering all of these circumstances both to begin judgment on Saul and to bring about David’s reign.

What is exactly providence?  Here are two definitions:

Westminster 5.1 God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. (Unknown)

God uses the gifting of His people

23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

God has gifted each one of His children with specific talents for the use and advancement of the kingdom.  David couldn’t have known that while he spent hours playing the lyre while tending sheep, that God was preparing him to serve Saul and ultimately be king himself one day

Big Picture Question:  What does God use to accomplish His will?

Truth:  All things serve God’s will, including evil, His people, and their gifting, for the ultimate purpose of His glory and His people’s good.

Action:  Live knowing that at no point and time have you frustrated or stopped the will of God. 

Application:  Pray for an enabling faith to both do God’s will and walk in grace when you feel you failed. 

 

Evident Grace Sunday Recap from 05/13/18 Big Picture Question: How Does God See Differently Than We Do?

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Sunday, May 13, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 16:1-13:

1 Samuel 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

From those scriptures, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How does God see differently than we do?

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

God sees the why while we see the what

God sees His protection while we see the danger.

God sees the heart while we see outward appearances.

God sees the why while we see the what

1 Samuel 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

All Samuel could feel was loss.  King Saul was a mess.  Israel was a mess.  I’m sure Samuel felt like a failure, but God knew why Samuel was going through what he was going through.  God knew that in the midst of all of the pain and emotion, He was going to bring a new and Godly king to Israel.

We have to keep in mind that God is always working His will for His glory even in the midst of the worst of circumstances.  We can see what is happening, but we have to trust God’s why which is always to bring glory to Himself.

God sees His protection while we see the danger.

2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

Everyone in this passage is fearing.  Samuel fears for his life if he obeys God.  The elders of Bethlehem fear because Samuel showed up in town.  But in the midst of that fear, God is actually protecting them.  God is protecting the people of God by giving them a good and Godly king.  Saul’s first interest was for himself.  David’s will be for God.

God sees differently than we do.  When we walk in danger, we have to remember that God is always protecting us as He promised us He would.

In the sermon, we referenced Job 23:8-14 as an example of trusting God when we can’t see His protection.

God sees the heart while we see outward appearances.

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

We arrogantly think we know people’s hearts and minds, but we don’t.  Only God knows the heart.  That means God sees our good and our bad.  Samuel thought the oldest son of Jesse would of course be king.  Instead, God chose the younger son, David, because God saw his heart.

We must always remember that God has wisdom that we don’t have and that wisdom of the heart should make us more gracious to ourselves and to others.

Big Picture Question:  How does God see differently than we do?

Truth:  God’s sight is an act of care in our lives that works His purposes despite what we see and think.

Application: Live knowing that your wisdom, hunches, and gut always submit to the working of God’s and His purposes in your life.   

Action: Pray for the humility to trust God’s sight in your life and others.  

Evident Grace Sunday Recap 5.06.18 Sunday Recap Why is Repentance So Powerful?

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Sunday, May 6th, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 15:24-35:

1 Samuel 15:24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

From those verses, we answered this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Why is repentance is so powerful?

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

Repentance Doesn’t Care About Reputation

Repentance Kills the Source of Sin

Repentance Grieves

 

Repentance Doesn’t Care About Reputation

1 Samuel 15:24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord.

Saul finally realizes that he sins, so he begs Samuel.  He says he sinned and transgressed the commandment of God.  He recognizes that he feared the people more than God, and he asks Samuel to forgive him and return with him to tell the people.  But Samuel will not honor him in the way he asks.

The reason that Samuel asks the way he does is because Saul never asks for forgiveness from God.  He only begs from Saul.  Saul is like the child who realizes that he lost a privilege and then finally begs for forgiveness.

This is not repentance.  Repentance is unconcerned earthly reputation.  True repentance only concerns itself with reconciling one’s relationship with God.

Repentance Kills the Source of Sin

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Saul spared King Agag and the best of the spoil.  This was his sin.  Samuel have nothing to do with it.  He puts to death Agag.

This is repentance.  Repentance puts to death anything that is remaining of the sin so that sin will not return.

Repentance Grieves

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Samuel grieved over Saul.  He grieved of the mess Samuel made.  He grieved of the damage that Saul made.  And God showed a godly regret that Samuel was ever king.

What are powerful steps we can make to repentance? 

Sight of sin – Psalm 139: 23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Sorrow for sin – 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death

Confession of sin – Psalm 32:3-5 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Regret for sin – Ezra 9:6 “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities, have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.

Hatred for sin – Psalm 104:102-104 – I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.  103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

Turning from sin – Zechariah 1:3 Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Big Picture Question:  What’s the difference between repentance and change

Truth:  True repentance kills sin at its sources through a Godly grief that desires to honor God more than it wants to protect self. 

Application:  Live knowing that our greatest intimacy with God and others comes through a Godly repenting that denies self and lifts up God.

Action:  Kill a sin this week at its source through a Godly grief that confesses your sin to God and any offended party without justification or fear of lost reputation. 

Evident Grace Sunday Recap from 04/29/18 Better to Obey Than to Sacrifice

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Sunday, April 29, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 15:16-23:

1 Samuel 15:16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak. 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’

19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 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. 23 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.”

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question from those verses:

Big Picture Question:  Why is it better to obey rather than to sacrifice?

We found these three answers to our Big Picture Question:

Obeying is seeing as God sees

Obedience kills pride

God delights in obedience

 

Obeying is seeing as God sees

1 Samuel 15:16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak. 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’

Samuel confronts Saul about his sin.  God’s command was for King Saul to completely wipe out the Amalekites, but Saul kept the king alive and the best of the spoil.  Saving these things would have given Saul status among other kings and would have given him plenty of money.  Samuel reminds Saul that he already has status.  God made him king from the smallest of tribes.

Disobedience blinds us.  We don’t see as God sees when see.  Saul thought seeking fortune and fame was best.  Obeying God would have him a godly sight.

Obedience kills pride

19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

When challenged as to why he sinned, Saul cannot admit why either that he did sin or why he sinned.  His pride won’t let him.  In fact, he even blames the people for sin saying that they were going to offer a sacrifice with the spoil they kept.

Obedience, however, would kill that pride because obeying God means that set aside what we think is best and trust God’s best for us.

God delights in our obedience

22 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. 23 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.”

Our sin is like witchcraft (divination) in that we seek and trust a wisdom outside of God’s.  Yes, there is forgiveness for sin, but God’s greatest delight for us is for us to obey.

The intention of God’s grace and forgiveness is to move us towards obedience.  For example, in Titus…

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has been made evident, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 

Is there a sacrifice we are to offer today?  Yes.

Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Big Picture Question:  Why is it better to obey rather than to sacrifice?

Truth: Obedience enables a pride killing sight that walks us into the delight of God.

Application: Live knowing that there is grace for every sin, but there is a grace that enables you to obey as well.

Action:  This week, actively listen to the promises of God, and pray that He will enable you to obey in one specific area in which you continually struggle.

Evident Grace Sunday Recap from 04/22/18 Giving Thanks

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Good Morning Friends,

Typically, this is a summary of this past week’s sermon, but Sunday’s sermon was brief as was the service.  We did look at Acts 2, and you can find the audio and video online.  We followed the sermon with a beautiful baptism and our quarterly Town Hall meeting.  Look for an email with audio and video links from the Town Hall in the next few days.

Right now, I want to say thank you to everyone at Evident Grace.  We have a beautiful, growing community.  We are blessed with wonderful committed members, lots of newborn, healthy babies, consistent guests, and an ever-growing ministry to the local area.

When I look at our church, I know we need to grow in our worship, community, and service.  I pray for our growth in depth and reach. But I want to remind us that growth best comes as we are thankful for what we have.

If we want our worship to grow, we should remember Psalm 100

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

If we want our community to grow in depth and number, we should remember Colossians 3:

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If we want our service to grow, we should remember 2 Corinthians 9:

2 Corinthians 9:11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others

I love all of you, and I pray your weeks are full of joy and thanks, no matter what God has called  you to do.

I look forward to hearing from all of you this week and seeing you on Sunday.

Pastor Gordon

Sunday Recap from Easter 2018, Big Picture Question: How does waiting increase our love of God and others?

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Easter 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Mark 16:1-16:

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

We answered this Big Picture Question from those verses:

How does waiting increase our love of God and others?

We found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • Waiting Fuels Worship
  • Waiting Fuels Community
  • Waiting Fuels Mission

Waiting Fuels Worship

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

Mary, Mary, and Salome go to visit Jesus’ tomb.  Can you imagine what was going on in their minds?  They knew Jesus’ promises of resurrection on the third day, but they brought spices just in case.  They hoped to see Him alive, but just in case, they brought spices to preserve His body.  Thankfully, the angel tells them that He is risen, and a few moments after that, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene.

We are just like them.  We gather to worship Jesus.  We have hopes that Jesus’ promises are true.  We hope to meet Him intimately.  We hope to worship Him.  But we fear.  We doubt.  The first act of worship going forward to meet Him.

Waiting Fuels Community

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.  14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen

The disciples wait for Jesus.  They’ve been waiting for 3 days.  They’ve eaten, they’ve hidden, they wondered.  And they have doubted.  However, Jesus shows up to assure them that He is alive.  That is the essence of Godly communities.  We wait for God together.  We may doubt.  We may fear.  But we wait in faith for Jesus.

Waiting Fuels Service

15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Once the people are sure that Jesus is alive, He gives them a mission to go into all the world and tell them about His resurrection.  We believe because of their faithfulness.

So, now we wait.  We wait for Jesus to return, and when He returns it will be as…

Revelation 22: 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Big Picture Question:  How does waiting increase our love of God and others?

Truth:  Our waiting for the outworking and fulfillment of Jesus’ work and mission fuels our worship, community, and service.

Application:  Live knowing that Jesus grows our faith by creating a persevering love within the church as we worship and serve together.

Action:  Pray for the faith to show grace to someone struggling this week.   

Sunday Recap for 3/25: How does Jesus’ kingship relate to your fear?

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Sunday, March 25, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at John 12:12-19:

John 12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

How does Jesus’ Kingship relate to your fear?

We found these three answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • He is Present
  • He is Appointed by God
  • He Offers Something the World Doesn’t

He is Present

John 12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem soon after raising Lazarus from the dead.  This miracle draws a crowd that is hopeful that Jesus is the promised king and messiah.  As He enters the town, the people cry, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  The king of Israel.”

The people declare that the long-promised king has come.  The king is present.

Friends, your king is present.  Jesus is that king.  His kingship is both a declaration of the end of your fear and the promise that you have no need to ever fear again

But we do fear, don’t we?  Thankfully, King Jesus is…

He is Appointed by God

John 12:14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

Jesus’ riding through Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilled this promise of Zechariah 9:9.  Jesus was appointed by God to be your king, and His arrival is the declaration that the reason for your fear is gone.

He offers something the world doesn’t

John 12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Jesus is different than every other thing that world offers.  The Pharisees think chasing after Him is a waste of time.  The disciples realize that He is the appointed king.  The world offers its own ideas of what is right and what is best.  Christ offers His Kingship.  He offers the end of guilt.  He ends our shame.  He ends the trusting of ourselves.

Big Picture Question:  How does Jesus’ Kingship relate to your fear?

Truth:  Jesus’ appointed presence alleviates your fear as you withdraw from the anxiousness of this world.

Application:  Live knowing that Jesus’ intimate presence in your life is intended to grow a comfort and confidence in you.

Action:  Jesus’ kingdom is graceful and fearless.  Your kingdom is graceless and fearful.  Choose this day who you will serve.

Join Evident Grace for a Week of Easter Celebrations

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Evident Grace Fellowship is excited to announce our Easter “Sunset to Sunrise” celebrations for 2018.  Our desire is to strip away the unnecessary elements and gimmicks of Easter celebrations and return to the roots of worship, community, and service.

Towards that end, we are inviting you to worship, fellowship, and serve with us in any and all of these events.

Sunday, March 25th – The Sunday before Easter has traditionally been called “Palm Sunday”.  In this service, we will worship around the passage in John where Jesus enters Jerusalem the week before His resurrection.  At that moment, the crowd waved palm leaves and declared Him as king.  While we won’t be waving palm leaves, we will be worshiping and calling everyone to worship Jesus as King.  This service will be at 10:00 am at the Ron Rosner YMCA located at 5700 Smith Station Rd.  We will have childcare at this service.

Thursday, March 29th – The Thursday before Easter, we will have a Maundy Thursday service.  The word “Maundy” means commandment, and the service is called that in light of Jesus’ statement in John 15:12-15,

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 

Jesus said these things at the giving of the Lord’s Supper, on the night that He was betrayed. Evident Grace will have a fellowship dinner at the Fox Point Clubhouse at 6:30 pm.  During that time, we will also have some music, times of sharing, and the Lord’s Supper.  The Fox Point Clubhouse is located at 6120 Blackstone Blvd.  We will not have childcare for this service.

Friday, March 30th – The Friday before Easter is our Good Friday Service.  Church history has also called these services, “Tenebrae” or a service of darkness.  This is a service where we will meditate on the death of Jesus and our sin as the cause of His death.  This service ends in silence and meditation and you leave as you feel ready.  It will begin at 7:00 pm and will also be at the Fox Point Clubhouse located at 6120 Blackstone Blvd.  There will not be childcare for this service.

Saturday, March 31st – We won’t have a service on this day, but we will be serving.  Lots of folks from Evident Grace will be volunteering and participating in the 2018 5k Rabbit Run, 1 Mile Hop, Bunny Chase, and Easter Egg Hunt.  This event supports Young Lives which is a ministry to single and teen mothers.  You can sign up at their website. The race begins at 8:00 am. If you are a member of Evident Grace and would like to volunteer contact Nathan Thomas.  He needs 10-12 people.

Sunday, April 1st – And finally Sunday is Easter Sunday.  First, we will host a breakfast at 9:00 am at the Ron Rosner YMCA.  You are all invited and we hope you can make it.  Just show up, eat, and meet some great folks.  Then, at 10:00 am, we will have an Easter celebration where we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  After the service, we will have food and coffee for all of our guests.  We will have childcare for our 10:00 am service. If you are a member of Evident Grace you can signup to bring food for the breakfast here.

Friends, our goal at Evident Grace is simple.  We want to make God’s grace evident through worship community, and service.  Our prayer is that these events will enable you to do that.  Please join us.

If you have any questions, you can either go to www.evidentgrace.com or email the church at [email protected].

Sunday Recap for 3/18: Why is obedience so hard?

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Sunday, March 18, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 15:1-15

1 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

In those verses, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

What makes obedience so hard? 

  • God’s commands are clear.
  • God’s commands are personal.
  • The heart wants to look good.

God’s commands are clear

1 Samuel 15:1And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

There is no wiggle room in God’s commands.  He commands, and we are to obey.  Saul had that same directive.  He was called to protect the people of God by thoroughly defeating the enemy of the people of God.  We’ll learn he can’t do that.  Our hearts struggle as well.  God’s commands are always clear.  Do not lie means don’t lie.  Be content means be content.  The heart struggles with such clarity

God’s commands are personal

1 Samuel 15:4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

The commands of God are not capricious or random.  They are personal reflections of God’s character.  Therefore, when the human heart hears God’s command, we rebel personally.  Saul did not thoroughly defeat the Amalekites.  He kept the king alive and the best of the spoil.  These things assured Saul affluence and reputation in the eyes of the world.  Saul wanted that more than obedience.  We struggle in this as well.  For example, when God tells us to be content, He is commanding us to trust His provision and providence.  Our discontentment is because we think we have a sense of what those things should be that are better than God’s.

The heart wants to look good.

1 Samuel 15:10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

When Saul’s sin is found out, he blames the people of God (“they”), and then says he was actually planning on making an offering to God.  Both of these are coverups, blame-shifting, and stink of self-righteousness.  The heart may rebel against God, but it still wants to look like it is obeying.

Here is our hope:  Titus 2:14 Jesus Christ 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Big Picture Question:  What makes obedience so hard? 

Truth:  Obeying God is hard because His commands are clear and are contrary to our selfishness and pride.

Application:  Live knowing that God’s commands are a way out of the muddled selfishness that we indulge in each day.

Action: 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

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