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Sunday Recap for 11/5 – Big Picture Question: What do we learn about God’s character in our struggles?

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Sunday, November 5, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 16:1-5:

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.” 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.’ 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.” 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?” 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.

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

What do we learn about God’s character in our struggles?

And we found these 3 answers to our question:

  • God struggles with us.
  • God calls us to obedience.
  • God calls us to worship.

God struggles with us.

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.”

God comforts Samuel.  Samuel is grieving King Saul’s sin, and the impact it is having on the people of God.  The Father comforts Samuel.  The ultimate example of this is Jesus’ struggle with us as He brought comfort through His life, death, and resurrection.

God calls us to obedience.

1 Samuel 16: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.’ 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.” 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?”

Samuel is afraid that if he anoints David as king, Saul is going to want to kill him.  But God calls Samuel to be faithful and obedient.  God’s commands are expressions of His character.  When we obey, we get to know God better and become more like Him.

God calls us to worship.

1 Samuel 16:  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.

What does God command Saul to do?  Worship.  We cannot forsake worship in our struggles because it is there we meet God.

Truth:  God struggles with us in our troubles as we obey and worship Him.

Application:  Live knowing that God works in our struggles as He calls us to love and obey Him.

Action:  Prioritize public worship during your struggles so as to see God and the expression of His character (the church) more clearly.

Sunday Recap recap from 10/29 where we looked at the Big Picture Question: How does God equip us for the task to which He calls.

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Sunday, 10/29, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 10:1-16:

1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they

will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”

9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

How does God equip you to thing for which you are called?

And we found these 3 answers:

  • He anoints us
  • He gives us a new heart
  • He gives us a voice

He anoints us

1 Samuel 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.

Saul was anointed, which in this context means set apart for God’s purpose.  He was anointed to be king.

We too have an anointed King in Jesus.

Acts 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

And we receive our anointing to obey and work for Jesus because of what Jesus has done.

2 Corinthians 2:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Additionally to anointing, God equips you as He gives you…

He gives us a new heart

1 Samuel 10:9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

Saul’s new heart was a heart to be king.  A few moments ago, he was a donkey hunter.  Now he will be the king of God’s people.

Christians have a new heart as well.  That new heart transforms us to care about and seek to obey God’s laws.

Ezekiel 36: 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules

God also equips us as…

He gives us a voice

1 Samuel 10:14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Colossians 4: 2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 

The first opportunity that Saul had to speak, He failed.  We have an opportunity to succeed.  Here is how.

Our voice is equipped through prayer.

Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Big Picture Question:  How does God equip you to thing for which you are called?

Truth:  God’s equipping is an anointing that gives you a new heart, eager to speak of the mercies of Christ.

Application:  Live knowing that God’s Spirit of anointing gives you a new heart and voice to proclaim Jesus’ mercy to yourself, the church, and this community.

Action:  Mature your faith in Jesus today by taking a step of faith in a relationship, knowing that you are equipped to do the thing of which you are most scared.

Sunday Recap for 10/22 – Big Picture Question: How is God at work and redeem even the most mundane of moments?

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This past week, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 9, and we answered this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How does God use and redeem even the most tedious of moments in our lives?

And we found these 3 answers to our question:

  • God works in family life.
  • God works in church life.
  • God works in your persona life.

God works in family life.

1 Samuel 9:1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.

How more mundane is it to have to hunt down lost donkeys for your dad?  Well, that’s the story of how God brings about the monarchy that eventually brings about David and Jesus…donkey-hunting.

We often wait and hope for God’s work in the large moments of life – nothing wrong with that.  But God is also present in the small moments of life.  Here, we see God present in something trivial to bring about something great.

God works in church life.

1 Samuel 9:5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” 6 But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.” 7 Then Saul said to his servant, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 The servant answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today’s “prophet” was formerly called a seer.) 10 And Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.

11 As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 They answered, “He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14 So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.

Saul has been gone 3 days looking for donkeys, and a young woman helps him.  So, he wants to get help from Saul, the prophet.  This is more so of how the church works than the large events.  People helping each other find their way, a pastor giving encouragement…God is present and at work through the church.

God works in your personal life.

1 Samuel 9:15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”

22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.”

So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 And when they came down from the high place into the city, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.

27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”

God is active and at work in our lives.  Here we see Samuel bring Saul in, give him a place at the table, give him good, and give him a place to stay.  Simple acts that bring about the monarchy that would lead to Jesus.

Big Picture Question:  How does God use and redeem even the most tedious of moments in our lives?

Truth:  God working in the mundane moments of your personal, family, and church life is not about Him making Himself known.  It is about you opening your eyes to what God is already doing.

Application:  Live knowing that each moment of your day is designed to draw you closer to God and to enable you to love others.

Action:  In your next trial, ask yourself, “How is God working in my life with this, and how is God calling me to love others in this?” 

Sunday Recap for 10/15, Why should we listen to wisdom from others?

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Sunday, October 15, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 8:10-22

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.

11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. 19b And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

We looked at this Big Picture Question from that passage.

Why should we listen to wisdom from others?

  • It an be wisdom from God
  • Forces us to sift our desires
  • Yet, God doesn’t reject us when we don’t

It can be wisdom from God

1 Samuel 8:10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.

11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel.

We should be stuck with the book ends of this section of text….it starts with,

“Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people…..but they refused to obey the voice of Samuel.  Which we know is the voice of God.”

What don’t we see here?  We don’t see any dialogue or interaction with Samuel here, do we?  It really doesn’t matter at all what he said to them.  Their mind was made up and nothing was going to change it.  We need to realize that God often uses others in our lives to speak truth into ours and vice-a-versa.

Forces us to sift our desires

19b And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

As we are seeking wisdom out from those with greater experience and life than us it should bring us to a place a sifting our desires.   Asking hard questions about ourselves

Or said another way, if someone is speaking into our lives, our first response shouldn’t be to dismiss their words but to genuinely hear them…and then begin the process of asking hard questions about them.  Are these words true?  Am I in error?  Have I sinned? What our my motives/desires?  Are they good? Until we have done that hard work and come through it with a clear conscience that you have taken their words and examined them from every angle, there’s work to be done.

Yet, God doesn’t reject us when we don’t

21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

Through all this, and so much more – good and bad, as the history of kings unfold for Israel and Judah, God doesn’t reject his people.  He keeps his covenant, he keeps his promises even though his people, even though we, sin against him, reject his words, his wisdom.  Even though we seek to replace Christ as King in our lives in so many ways.

Ultimately, we know who the true King is, don’t we?  Jesus….In spite of all this stuff going on with God’s people…..He is still sending his son to live for them, to die for them, and to be raised for them.  And this is true for you as well!

Sunday Recap for 10/8, What do we do when we want something good but for all the wrong reasons?

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Sunday, October 8, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 7:15-8:19.

1 Samuel 7: 15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

8:1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

What can we do when we want something good but for all the wrong reasons?

And we found these three answers:

  1. Worship
  2. Pray
  3. Obey

Worship

1 Samuel 7: 15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

8:1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

Samuel was a good priest, leading the people in worship each year.  He offered sacrifices for their sins, and He judged their conflicts.  Unfortunately, he didn’t lead his family very well, and his sons didn’t follow in the leadership

If we want to understand our motives, we have to keep our hearts grounded in worship so as we don’t fall into mistakes like this where we value our jobs over our families.

Pray

1 Samuel 7: 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.

Samuel prays to God when the people demand a king.  What they want is good.  Why they want it is bad.  Prayer sifts through motives.  Here is a simple way to pray:

ACTS

A – Adoration.  Praise God for what you love about Him.

C – Confession.  Confess your sins to God and ask for forgiveness.

T – Thanksgiving.  Thank God for the things in your life.

S – Supplication.  Ask God for the needs of your life.

Obey

1 Samuel 7: 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

Samuel is told to obey God.  God tells them people they can have the king they want, even if it is rejecting God.  We cannot understand our motives if we are not seeking to obey God.

Big Picture Question:  What can we do when we want something good but for all the wrong reasons?

Truth:  Worship and obedience purify your prayer’s motives.

Application:  Live knowing that God intends for your prayers to be purified by honest worship and intentional obedience.

Action:  Refine your desire through the accountability of someone who will be honest with you.

Sunday Recap for 10/01, What does it mean to be rescued by God?

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Sunday, October 1, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 7:3-17

1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. 7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen[a] and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

And we looked at this Big Picture Question:

What does it mean to be rescued by God?

And we found these 3 answers:

  • Personal Repentance
  • Testimony to the World
  • Led by the Church

Personal Repentance

1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

Samuel offers a picture of what repentance looks like.  True repentance is a returning to the Lord with all of your heart.  For the people of God, their returning was putting away their foreign gods. Then they were to direct their hearts to God and serve Him.  Then God delivered them.

That’s putting away, directing and serving, and delivering – a wonderful pattern of repentance.

Testimony to the World

1 Samuel 7:5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. 7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.

The people of God repent and the world takes notice. Samuel calls them to repent at Mizpah.  Mizpah means “may God be between me and thee while we are apart” and harkens back to Jacob’s story in Genesis 31.  That is where Samuel calls them to repent.  He wants them to remember that God had no left them.

So, when we remember that God has been faithful to us, we repent.  When we repent, the world should take notice.

Led by the Church

1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen[a] and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

Samuel faithfully led the people of God throughout his entire life, and God provides His people church leadership today for them to day to day experience rescue.

Big Picture Question:  What does it mean to be rescued by God?

Truth:  God’s rescue of Christians through repentance and church leadership leads to a powerful testimony to the world.

Application:  Live knowing that your repentance and commitment to the church are the most powerful testimony you can have to the world.

Action:  Have great faith that God is working through you and this church to change the world.

Sunday Recap for 9/24 Big Picture Question: How should the holiness of God change us?

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Sunday, September 24, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 6 – 7:2

1 Samuel 6:1 The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” 3 They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you.” 4 And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5 So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. 6 Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed? 7 Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8 And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way 9 and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.”

10 The men did so, and took two milk cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12 And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17 These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them,[a] and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

7:1 And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2 From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

We looked at this Big Picture Question from that passage.

How should the holiness of God change our lives?

  • It makes us aware of our sin.
  • It rescues His people.
  • It teaches us a holy fear

It makes us aware of our sin.

1 Samuel 6:1The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” 3 They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you.” 4 And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5 So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. 6 Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed? 7 Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8 And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way 9 and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.”

The Philistines understood that they angered the almighty God.  But they thought God could be paid off like the false deities they worshiped.  They fashioned golden offerings to God but missed out on repentance.

When we become aware of the holiness of God, we can’t pay Him off.  He desires and calls us to repentance.

It rescues His people.

1 Samuel 6:10 The men did so, and took two milk cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12 And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17 These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

Without doing anything on their own, God sends the Ark back to the people of God.  And with the cows and the cart, they make a quick sacrifice to offer to God.  This rescue from God is just like Jesus’ sacrifice.  God’s holiness meets His justice and pours out grace and the people of God are provided all they need to be forgiven.

It teaches us a holy fear.

1 Samuel 6:19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

7:1 And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2 From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

It appears as if some of the people of God took God’s holiness lightly.  They looked in the Ark, and God put them to death.  As gracious as God is, we can never take God’s holiness lightly.  There is no grace if there is not also God’s holiness.

Big Picture Question:  How should the holiness of God change our lives?

Truth: God rescues you as you have a holy fear of His holiness. 

Application:  Fearfully study God’s holiness so that you will forever and graciously be changed into the image of Jesus.

Action:  Confess one sin this week to a trusted friend who understand the holy fear of God.

Sunday Recap for 9/17 Big Picture Question: What does it mean that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess?

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Sunday, September 17, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 5.

1 Samuel 5:1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.[a] When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors.[b] 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it[c] will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

In those verses, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

What does it mean that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess?

And we found these 3 answers:

  • All other systems fail.
  • The church has a voice.
  • God is holy.

All other systems will fail.

1 Samuel 5:1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

The Philistines took the Ark of God captive and placed it in the temple of Dagon, their warrior, fishy, fertility god.  Yet, God causes Dagon to fall over, and they prop him back up.  Then God breaks off Dagon’s hands and head.  God demonstrates that He will not be controlled by anyone or anything.  He demonstrates that the religion of Dagon is false.

We must own this truth.  Every system in this world will fall before god.  No government will continue in heaven.  No economy, and no other religion.  All things will come under the subjection of God.

The church has a voice

1 Samuel5:6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

God inflicts tumors on multiple cities of the Philistines. Each city that gets the ark suffers, and the people ask what they should do.  The church must realize that the world is suffering and going to suffer.  And when they cry out what to do, the church must provide the vision of repenting and crying out in faith to Jesus.

God is holy

1 Samuel 5:9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it[c] will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

God is holy, and He brings judgement for sin.  Again, the church is called by God to proclaim Jesus so that many, many will cry out in faith.

Big Picture Question:  What does it mean that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess

Truth:  God uses the church’s proclamation of his holiness to bring every knee and tongue into submission.

Application:  Live knowing that God is actively working to proclaim His holiness in your life to the world.

Action:  This week, remove one thing from your life that is not in submission to the holiness of God – if it isn’t painful, it doesn’t count.  If it isn’t something you love, it doesn’t count.

Sunday Recap for 9/10 Big Picture Question: How do we make God’s grace evident to the world?

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Sunday, September 10, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 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.”

And we pursued this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How do we make God’s grace evident to the world?

And found these answers:

  • Worship
  • Community
  • Service

Worship

Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been made evident, bringing salvation for all people,”

Though God has always been gracious, his grace was made most clear and most evident at the death and resurrection of the church.  And that grace has appeared to all types of people – none are excluded merely by a category.  At Evident Grace, we seek to make the grace of Jesus evident in our worship services.  We desire Christians to enjoy their salvation and non-Christians to cry out for salvation.

Community

Titus 2:12-13 “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,”

The grace of God trains us to renounce this work and wait for the appearance of Jesus. This best happens in the community of the church that Jesus created.  At Evident Grace, we want to grow in the training of renouncing this world and waiting for Jesus in 4 ways:  church membership, (eg)Groups, discipleship, and giving.

Service

Titus 2:14 “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.”

As Jesus gave Himself up for us, He redeems us to be zealous for a life of service and good works.  At EG, we seek to serve in 4 ways:  within the church, in our community in acts of mercy, partnering with other churches, and in world missions

Truth:  Evident Grace exists to make God’s grace evident to the world through worship, community, and service.

Application:  Live knowing that you are a part of a church that desires to continually proclaim God’s grace to a broken and sinful world.

Action:  You were created for worship, born into the community of the church, and called to serve.

Personal Testimony

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At Evident Grace Fellowship, we make every effort we can to enable our folks to worship.  We are blessed to have families with children who have special needs.  They have taught us so much, and we are doing everything we can to make worship for those families as easy as possible.

Recently, we received this note from one of our families, and they asked us to share it with the larger community…

We are incredibly blessed and thankful to call Evident Grace Fellowship our home church. For more than 3 years we have attended and held membership at EG. Despite periods of being unable to attend due to the special needs of some of our children, Pastor Gordon Duncan, the elders, our assistant pastor, and the body of our church have always accommodated the special needs, welcomed us, embraced us, prayed with us and for us, and truly represented the body of Christ helping its members.

Recently, the church moved locations, and every week, our church has added an improvement to help accommodate everyone’s needs in our church. Just yesterday (Sunday service), I had to attend church with my 4 girls (6 and under) by myself and one daughter was graciously loved on despite having a rough morning. Another daughter in a wheelchair and on a feeding tube went into a Sunday school class without me because the volunteer staff at EG had the confidence and grace to care for her.  She was able to separate from me without being upset.

I was then able to sit and listen to a sermon for the first time in months outside in the lobby with a table and chairs while my infant made as much noise as she needed to without disturbing the congregation.  This was possible because our pastors have worked hard to accommodate those who can’t be in the service, whether by volunteer service to the church or because of little ones, etc.

After each sermon, our church body congregates for fellowship and refreshments. During this time one can see the love and unique faith each member of our church has. We are so blessed to have found Evident Grace. We look forward to the continual growth and blessing of our amazing church body.

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