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Sunday Recap for 3/4 Big Picture Question: How are our actions indicative of the kingdom we are building?

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Sunday, March 4, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 14:31-46:

1 Samuel 14:31 They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very faint. 32 The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, “Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a great stone to me here.” 34 And Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Let every man bring his ox or his sheep and slaughter them here and eat, and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night and they slaughtered them there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light; let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 And Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. 38 And Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, and know and see how this sin has arisen today. 39 For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41 Therefore Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord, God of Israel, give Urim. But if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am; I will die.” 44 And Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan.” 45 Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die. 46 Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.

We looked at this Big Picture Question:

How are our lives indicative of the kingdom we are building?

We found these three answers to our Big Picture Question:

  1. How We Respond to Our Needs
  2. What We Pray For
  3. What You Will Sacrifice For

How We Respond to Our Needs

1 Samuel 14:31 They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very faint. 32 The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood.

The soldiers are hungry and tired, and when the battle is over, they sin by eating off the ground and with blood.  We do this too.   Think about it:

Do you ever eat too much because you felt you earned it?

You drink too much because that’s what you do when hanging with friends

You yell at your wife or kids because you are stressed out and you can’t go off on your boss or coworkers.

These are the kingdom of self-actions, not the kingdom of God.

1 Samuel 14:33 Then they told Saul, “Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a great stone to me here.” 34 And Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Let every man bring his ox or his sheep and slaughter them here and eat, and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night and they slaughtered them there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

What We Pray For

1 Samuel 14:36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light; let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 And Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day.

Saul’s pastor reminds him, “Hey maybe you should pray before you do something else rash.  Look at the results of the last time” and he doesn’t even know about Jonathan yet.

1 Samuel 14:38 And Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, and know and see how this sin has arisen today. 39 For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”

41 Therefore Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord, God of Israel, give Urim. But if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.

God’s silence is as powerful as his answers because both are intended to draw you closer to him.

What you’ll sacrifice for

1 Samuel 14:43 When Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”

Notice Saul doesn’t assume he didn’t anything wrong.  He defends himself

And Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am; I will die.”

Jonathan doesn’t defend himself.

1 Samuel 14:44 And Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan.”  Does he have to die?  Is this the only way?  45 Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die. 46 Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place. 

Jonathan is willing to die because his actions are harming the people of God.  The people of God will ransom him so that he doesn’t have to die.  Jesus did that for us.  Though innocent, He ransomed us from our guilt.

What we will sacrifice for indicates what kingdom we are building.

Big Picture Question:  How are our lives indicative of the kingdom we are building?

Truth:  How we respond, what we pray for, and who we defend display the kingdom we serve.

Application:  Live knowing Christ’s work on your behalf ransomed you out of the kingdom of self into the kingdom of God.

Action:  Pray for objectivity and seek accountability so you can make decisions consistent with the kingdom of God.

“But if the world is watching, we might as well tell the truth. And the truth is, the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace.”  Rachel Held Evans

Big Idea for 2/18: We live in the conflict between earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom.

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Sunday, February 18, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 14:16-30:

1 Samuel 14:16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. 17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18 So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. 19 Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. And behold, every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle. 23 So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.

24 And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. 25 Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. 26 And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath.

27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright. 28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint. 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.”

And we attempted to understand this Big Idea from those verses:

We live in the conflict of Godly vs earthly wisdom. 

We explored these 3 thoughts about our Bid Idea:

  • God reigns amid both Godly and earthly wisdom.
  • Earthly wisdom sometimes causes unnecessary pain
  • Godly wisdom speaks the truth in love.

God reigns amid both Godly and earthly wisdom.

1 Samuel 14:16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. 17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18 So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. 19 Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. And behold, every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle. 23 So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.

Sometimes, it is just hard to understand why God does what He does.  Saul, full of earthly wisdom, brings the ark out to the battlefield.  He then sends it away.  The people of God rally, and the Israelites when the battle.  The first thing we must recognize is that God reigns amid earthly and Godly wisdom.  God’s first purpose is His own glory, and our call is to trust Him and seek His glory in all things.

Earthly wisdom causes unnecessary pain

1 Samuel 14:24 And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. 25 Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. 26 And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath.

Not all earthly wisdom causes unnecessary pain, but sometimes it does.  It makes no sense that Saul demands that no one eat until they win the battle.  Additionally, he isn’t fighting for God or the people.  He wants personal revenge.  And perhaps threatening to kill anyone who eats is a bit much.  This is a sad example of earthly wisdom that is untampered by the wisdom of God.

Godly wisdom speaks the truth in love.

1 Samuel 14:27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright. 28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint. 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.”

Jonathan was unaware of Saul’s vow, so he eats and is immediately refreshed.  When informed of Saul’s vow, he declares that Saul is hurting the country by making rash vows.

Jonathan is a picture of how the Christian, who is gifted with the Spirit of God and the mind of God, should speak.  Read 1 Corinthians 2 to explain how this applies to Christians today.

1 Corinthians 2:11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.  14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Big Idea:  We live in the conflict of Godly vs earthly wisdom. 

Truth:  God reigns in a world where earthly wisdom inflicts pain instead of love and grace.

Application:  Live knowing that you have a constant and abundant supply of Godly wisdom to guide you in discerning how to speak and act in this world.

Action:  Commit yourself to studying, understanding, and applying Godly wisdom in your personal and professional life. 

Sunday Recap from 2/11 – Big Picture Question: How can we know that God can do anything?

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Sunday, February 11, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 13:151 Samuel 14:15:

1 Samuel 13:15 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.

And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16 And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17 And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual; 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness

19 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.” 20 But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, 21 and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

14 One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4 Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.

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

How do we know that God can do anything?

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

  • God Knows Your Challenges
  • Nothing Can Hinder God
  • The Battle Belongs to the Lord

God Knows Your Challenges

1 Samuel 13:15 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.

And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16 And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17 And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual; 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.” 20 But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, 21 and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

Samuel left Saul without a blessing or a sacrifice.  Saul’s troops have dropped from 2,000 to 600.  Additionaly, the people of God don’t even have swords to go into battle.  Think about that.  Things don’t get much worse do they?  Feeling distant from God?  Not supported by enough people?  Lacking the resources you need?  That’s the time to believe that God can do anything.  The comfort we have in situations likes that is the trust that God knows all of our challenges.  In fact, He has ordained that we walked through them.  His intimate knowledge of us and our circumstances are the first step to believing that God will work

Nothing Can Hinder God 

1 Samuel 14:1 One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4 Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.”

Jonathan’s statement is a powerful one:  It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.  Nothing can hinder God and His plans.  Nothing can get in the way.  He will accomplish His purposes whether there are many or few.  We need a faith like Jonathan’s.  Believing that the circumstances that paralyze us won’t paralyze God will helping us have greater faith that God can do anything in our lives.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

1 Samuel 14:11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.

Jonathan acts on faith.  The Philistines lower their guard, so he and his armor-bearer attack and win the battle.  God won the battle.  Jonathan just acted on faith.

For us, that is our call.  Believe God can do anything.  Know that God is aware of our challenges.  Believe that nothing will hinder God, and as we step forward in faith, recognize that the battle is won by God.

Big Picture Question:  How do we know that God can do anything?

Truth:  The Christian is called to act upon the faith that God’s power and plan will not be hindered in any personal battle, physical or spiritual.

Application:  Live knowing that God intends to display His power through you in the midst of your personal battles. 

Action:  Pray that God would enable you to see your personal battles as opportunities for God’s power to be displayed in you, through the church, and to the world.

Sunday Recap for 2/4 Big Picture Question: What is obedience?

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Sunday, February 4, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 13:8-15:

1 Samuel 13:8 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 15 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.

We pursued this Big Picture Question from these verses:

Big Picture Question:  What is Obedience?

And we found these answers:

  • Obedience is Worship
  • Obedience is God’s Will
  • Obedience is Blessing

Obedience is Worship

1 Samuel 13:8 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.

Saul didn’t wait for Samuel to arrive to offer the sacrifice.  He gave into the pressure and offered it himself.  The problem was that he wasn’t allowed to do that.  God commanded that only the priests could offer a sacrifice.  Worship is an act of obedience even more than it is an act of the will.  We worship because God has commanded us to, and we worship the way God has commanded us to.  Saul violated both of those principles.

Obedience is God’s Will

1 Samuel 13:10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”

Saul rationalizes his sin.  He blames his sin on the pressure he is enduring (the people are scattering).  He blames the threat (the Philistines).  He blames Saul for not arriving on time, and he goes with the “I never intended to do it, but I just did.  I didn’t really want to do it” excuse.  Obedience is God’s will for us no matter the circumstance.  We can’t blame our circumstances, other people, or our intentions.  It is God’s will for us to obey.

Obedience is Blessing

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 15 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.

God promised blessing to Saul and the people if they had obeyed.  We saw that in 1 Samuel 12:

12:14 if you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.

Since Saul disobeyed with this act of worship, God strips the kingship from him.  We too are promised blessing when we obey.  See 1 Peter 1:

1 Peter 1: 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.   14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Friends, we will always celebrate grace, but we are called to obey.  We are called to be holy as God is holy.  God’s grace is what enables us to obey.

Big Picture Question:  What is Obedience?

Truth:  Obedience is an act of worship where the believer enjoys God’s blessing while walking in His will.

Application:  Live knowing that your daily obedience enables you to worship God while simultaneously finding great joy in God’s will and blessing.

Action:  Pray this week to make your obedience an act of worship. 

Sunday Recap from 1/28 Big Picture Question: How do trials make us greater worshipers?

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Sunday, January 28, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 13:1-7:

1 Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign, and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel. 2 Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent. 3 Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

5 And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, 7 and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

We looked at this Big Picture Question:

How do trials create greater worshipers? 

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

  • Trials Make You Thankful for Peace
  • Trials Protect Your Heart from Pride
  • Trials Make Your Fearless

Trials Make You Thankful for Peace

1 Samuel 13:1 Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign, and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel.  2 Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent.

Saul fully steps in asking now that Samuel is retired, and Israel enjoys a time of peace as Saul and his son, Jonathan, lead their armies.  Peace from trials is a gift.  In fact, if we worship and renew ourselves to God as Israel did in chapter twelve, we will have a much deeper appreciation, a heart of thanks, and posture of worship than if we complain during trials.

Trials Protect Your Heart from Pride

1 Samuel 13:3 Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

Saul and Jonathan lead Israel into victory, but there is a complete lack of thanks to God in these verses.  Instead, Saul blows trumpets of victory, and Israel becomes a stench in the noses of the Philistines.  Just in reading that, you know that times are about to get worse.  When we worship amid the trials, we don’t take credit for the good times.  In fact, our hearts are protected from pride because we understand our dependence on God more.

Trials Make Your Fearless

1 Samuel 13:5 And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, 7 and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Israel gets so scared at the oncoming battle with the Philistines, they retreat to caves and even cross BACK over the Jordan.  They literally leave Israel, and crossing the Jordan back is like walking away from God and His protection.

If we worship God in trials, we will greater understand His care and protection.  Our fear will be replaced with trust.

This is best illustrated by the promises of 1 Peter in light of Jesus’ work on behalf.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Samuel 13:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We found these truths, applications, and actions from our sermon.

Big Picture Question:  How do trials create greater worshipers?

Truth:  The trials of life are intended to create a worshipful thankfulness that protects our hearts from pride and to bolster us to greater faith.

Application:  Live knowing that our moments of peace should prepare us to worship vibrantly, with no pride, and no retreat.

Action:  In peace?  Thank God, and ask Him to protect you from pride.  In trials?  Ask God to enable you to stand firm.

Sunday Recap for 1/21: Big Picture Question: How does God show His great pleasure to His children?

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Our Scripture for today is 1 Samuel 12:19-25:

1 Samuel 12: 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Our Big Picture Question is:

 How does God show His great pleasure to His children?

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

  • He makes them a people for Himself
  • He gives them Godly leaders
  • He does great things for them

Let’s look at our first answer.  We see that God shows His great pleasure to His children because…

He makes them a people for Himself

1 Samuel 12: 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.

  • What was Samuel’s exhortation to Israel prior to these verses?
  • What sin did He accuse them of?
  • What is their response in verse 19?
  • How have these sins been a pattern in the life of the people of God?
  • Consider this quote from John Owen and consider how it details what Samuel is commanding the people.

If a sin has remained long corrupting your heart, if you have allowed it to abide in power and prevalency without vigorously attempting to kill it and apply healing to its wounds, this attitude is dangerous.   Have you permitted worldliness, ambition, and greediness to eat up other responsibilities instead of holding constant communion with God for a long period of time?  Have you allowed sin to defile your heart with vain, foolish, and wicked imaginations for many days?  That ongoing sin has a dangerous symptom as David said in Psalm 38:5 “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.”  

  • How does Samuel comfort the people?
  • What aspect of God’s character does he highlight?
  • Consider these three verses to show us how we might root out deep-seated sin in our hearts

Be silent before GodPsalm 4.4b ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent

Ask God to search youPsalm 139. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Confess knowing you are in Christ2 Corinthians 13.5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?

  • What does it mean that God will not forsake you for His name’s sake? Consider Hebrews 6:

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul

Let’s look at our second answer.  We see that God shows His great pleasure to His children because…

He gives them Godly leaders

1 Samuel 12: 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

  • What role does Samuel see that he has in the life of the people of God?
  • How seriously does Samuel take that role?
  • How does the gravity and weight of Samuel’s responsibility and role display God’s pleasure for His children?
  • How is verse 23 connected to 19? What should that relationship look like in the life of the church?
  • Where do you see this type of relationship demonstrated and commanded in the NT?

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Let’s look at our third answer.  We see that God shows His great pleasure to His children because…

He does great things for them

1 Samuel 12: 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

  • What is the intersection of faith and fear look like?
  • What is the motivation for obedience in verse 24?
  • What is Samuel’s warning?
  • What are New Testament encouragements that are similar to this? Consider James 2:

James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • How is James’ explanation of faith similar to Samuel’s exhortation?
  • What is the application that James gives?

Consider also 1 John 4:

I John 4 20 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

  • How are the promises of 1 John also similar to Samuel and James?
  • How do these commands and promises work themselves out among the people of God?

Big Picture Question:  How does God show His great pleasure to His children?

Truth: God demonstrates His great pleasure to His children by making us a people for Himself, who He then equips with Godly leaders, to proclaim the great things that He has done and is doing.

Application: Live knowing that you spend each minute of each and every day beneath the undying and unending pleasure of God because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Action:  Begin your days this week with the recognition that God’s love is going to be poured out to you and through you. 

Sunday Recap for 1/14: Big Picture Question: How does God redeem our painful and sinful circumstances?

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Clicking a redeem button, 3d render

Sunday, January 14, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 12:6-18.

1 Samuel 12:6 And Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness,  who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers. 8 When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them,  then your fathers cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 But they forgot the Lord their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak  and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king. 13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.  16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

From those verses, we asked this Big Picture Question:

How does God redeem our painful and sinful circumstances?

And we found these three answers from that Big Picture Question:

  • He reminds us of His faithfulness
  • He reminds us of our need
  • He gives us hope

He reminds us of His faithfulness

1 Samuel 12:6 And Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers

“John the Baptist focused on Jesus so much that he was willing to be unimportant for His sake”

Samuel continues his farewell address by reminding the people of God’s faithfulness.  Before walking through some hard truths, he wants them to remember the righteous deeds that God performed for them and their fathers.  This is key for all of us as we walk through difficult and painful times.  Without reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness and goodness, we suffer without hope.

He reminds us of our need

8 When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your fathers cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 But they forgot the Lord their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.

Samuel reminds them of the cycle that the people of God repent of and over.  They enjoy God’s blessing, forget God and fall into sin, God disciplines them, they repent, and they once again enjoy the blessings of God.  This is a cycle that we all fall into.  In fact, some of our difficult circumstances are due to due to our sinful choices.  Not all, but some.  Samuel wants all of the people of God to be aware of our weakness in this area. We all need people like Samuel who speak these hard truths and reminders into our lives.

He gives us hope

13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.  16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

But there is a great hope, Samuel declares.  He exhorts the people of God to have great faith in God.  Fear Him.  Obey Him.  This is our hope.  We have Jesus.  He is our hope, and we will endure our painful circumstances when we trust in Jesus like Samuel encouraged the people to trust God.

Big Picture Question:  How does God redeem our painful and sinful circumstances?

Truth:  God’s faithful meeting of our needs redeems our sinful and painful circumstances and gives us hope for present and future grace.

Application:  Live knowing that the memories of your hard times should give you hope that God will be faithful in your present need.

Action:  Proverbs 3:11 Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father, the son in whom he delights.

Sermon Recap from 1/07 service Big Picture Question: How is obedience communal?

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Sunday, January 7, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 12:1-5:

12:1 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. 3 Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5 And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

We looked at this Big Picture Question:

How is obedience communal?

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

  • Faith is always personal
  • Faith is always public
  • Faith is always accountable to God

Faith is always personal

1 Samuel 12:1 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day.

Samuel wants to retire, so he examines the areas where he would be personally responsible before God in performing his duties as a priest.  He asks the people if he has defrauded them or stolen from them.  He asks for them to bring any accusations against him if he has failed.  Samuel is living out his personal faith and obedience within the communal accountability of the people of God.

Faith is always public

1 Samuel 12:3 Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.”

In the full living out of Samuel’s personal faith, he not only asks if he has hurt or offended someone, he offers to restore any wrong that he has done.  They respond that he has been faithful.  The personal life of obedience invites others to participate by holding each person accountable within the community and before God.

Faith is always accountable to God

1 Samuel  12:5 And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

The culmination of the personal life obedient to God is the recognition that our obedience is in the context of God’s eye and His accountability.  When we obey, we obey God in the context of the people of God.  Those truths should inspire us to live boldly and faithfully as God is gracious.

Big Picture Question:  How is obedience communal?

  • Faith is always personal
  • Faith is always public
  • Faith is always accountable to God

Truth:  Our personal obedience to God finds its accountability in the way we live before and with one another. 

Application:  Live knowing that every command of personal obedience from God finds its application in the life of the church and in the eyes of the world.

Action:  Ask someone in the church this week the bold and humble question that Samuel asked his congregation.

Sunday Recap for 12/31 Big Picture Question: How should a Christian plan for the future?

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On Sunday, December 31, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Psalm 90:

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. 7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.  17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

To set the stage for the Christian’s guidance in planning, we read these two verses:

James 4:13-15,“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” 

James encourages us toward humility in offering our plants for His will.

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

Proverbs 6 encourages us to plan and prepare.

With that, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

How does a Christian plan for a new year?

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

  • Purposefully Praise God
  • Repent Over the Sins of the Past Year
  • Make Plans and Offer Them to God

The context of Psalm 90 is Moses’ and the people’s sin as they approached the Promised Land.  The people grumbled, and Moses sinned in His anger, and God makes this declaration:

Numbers 14: 33 And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 according to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

In light of that, Moses writes this Psalm:

Purposefully Praise God

Psalm 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.

God took away the Promised Land from Moses, and He declares that the Lord is His dwelling place.  For Moses, He knows that God is a better land.  God is better than any good thing that He might want.  Losing the land will be okay as long as He never loses God.  For us, as we plan for next year, we must make sure that we place God as the highest desire and satisfaction of our heart so that we will be content at whatever God gives us from His hand.

Repent Over the Sins of the Past Year

Psalm 90:7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Moses and the people had plenty to repent over.  What helps Moses to do so is a right picture of His sin before God.  In the light of God’s presence, we should all shrink before God’s wrath.  Rightfully seeing our sin that way enables us to number our days with a heart of wisdom.

Make Plans and Offer Them to God

Psalm 90:13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.  17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Moses faced an uncertain future – 40 years of wandering.  He had planned on enjoying the rest of the Promised Land, but now he will wander.  And as God fed the people will manna in the morning, what Moses truly wants is to enjoy the steadfast love of God each morning.  For us in our planning, we must desire God’s steadfast love as we consider anything we want.  That way, whatever God gives us, we know we will have all we need.

Big Picture Question:  How does a Christian plan for a new year?

Truth:  Planning for a Year begins best with praise, moves towards repentance, and then culminates in a prayerful offering of your desires to God.

Application:  Plan for next year knowing that God graciously forgives your sins and will bless you with grace as you plan for 2018.

Action:  Pray for God’s favor and the establishing of the work of your hands in 2018.  

Sunday Recap for 12/24 – Big Picture Question: “Who is the king of God’s people?”

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Sunday, December 24, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Luke 2:1-7:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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

Who is the king of God’s people?

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

  • In the line of David
  • Fully Man
  • Full of Sorrows

In the line of David

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While Caesar Augustus was trying to measure the breadth of his kingdom, he was also establishing preparing to hand it off to an heir.  Little did he know that his efforts were enabling the fulfillment of God’s promise that the promised heir in the line of David would be born in Bethlehem.  In that arduous journey, the Savior of mankind was going to be born, a king in the line of David.

Fully Man

Luke 2:6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

Our Savior had to be fully man as well as fully God.  The writers of scripture wen to great lengths to teach us all that necessity.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life

1 John 4: 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God

And the hope of this truth is that we now have a faithful high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, yet was obedient as we were not.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Because Jesus was a man, all the human experience is redeemed.  As Gregory of Nazianzus, the theologian who helped us understand the Trinity better than any other said, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”

Full of Sorrows

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Jesus, our Savior, was born, not in a home, but in a stable.  Mary and Joseph could not find a family to take them in, Jesus was born among the animals.  This was the beginning of a life of sorrow that culminated in His death on the cross for our sin.

Big Picture Question:  Who is the king of God’s people?

Truth:  Your King is Jesus, born in the line of David, fully man, and full of sorrows.

Application:  Live knowing that Jesus is the royal son of David who took on flesh, to pay the payment of your sin.

Action:  Resolve to honor Jesus in the coming year by sacrificing and serving someone who doesn’t like you.

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