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Tag: king

Samson’s Disregard

Well, today we’re going start looking at our final unlikely hero in the book of Judges. Now of course, we haven’t gone through each and every judge nor have we haven’t examined all the details in every story that we have looked at. But I think we’ve drawn out several important lessons from these stories and we’re going to try to do that one more time today. The character that we want to look at today is probably the most famous of all the judges. Today we’re going to start looking at the life of Samson.

Now the Bible gives us more information about Samson than any of the other judges we’ve looked at. Just to give you a comparison, a couple of Judges that we didn’t look at in this study – Tola and Jair – both have only two verse each about their lives – but Samson has four entire chapters.

So there must be something important for us to learn from the life of Samson. Which is almost surprising considering what a wreck his life was. Most of us remember Samson for his great strength – how he killed a lion with this bare hands – or how He tore the city gates right off their hinges – or how he killed a 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. These are the acts that made Samson famous – but what do we know about his character? What kind of a person was He? What was his relationship with God like? What was his relationship with others like? You see, these are the kind of issues that determine whether someone is truly a hero or just some big strong guy…

So that’s where I want to focus our attention this morning – not so much on his super strength and his fantastic exploits, but rather on his character. Because, we can’t all become burly, muscular weight-lifting champions – but we can all become men & women of heroic character.

Samson’s story begins in Judges chapter 13 and it begins much like all the other stories of the judges… it says…

Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years. Judges 13:1

If you’ve been with us for the past few weeks, this is no surprise. Pretty much every story has begun with “Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight – so the Lord handed them over to…. so and so.” And in this case, it was the Philistines. But this is where this story begins to develop differently. Normally, we’d jump right into meeting the hero. But this time we start by meeting the hero’s parents. Look at verse 2.

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The Invitation of Prayer

When I first decided that we would go through a sermon series on the spiritual disciplines, I had in mind a series of about six messages. One on the Bible, one on prayer, one on fasting, one one worship, and a couple other ones in there as well…. But it certainly seems that God had something more in mind.

As it is, this is now message #8 and we’ve really only talked so far primarily about the Bible and about prayer – just two of the many healthy habits that we want to look at. But I think it’s been good! At least, it has been for me anyway. Particularly when it comes to prayer. Prayer has never been something that I’ve felt has been one of my strong points. Of course, as Christians we know that prayer is important – and so I’ve certainly tried to integrate prayer into my personal life and my family’s life and our church life, but honestly, it’s never been something I just naturally do. I really have to make that effort.

And I think a big part of my struggle has come become of how I understood the purpose of prayer. I mentioned in last week’s message – why do we pray when God already knows what we need and has promised to provide it? Can’t we just trust Him? When you think about it that way, it almost seems like praying for three hours each day like Martin Luther is almost a lack of faith! Why must you pray so much – can’t you just trust God? And so for much of my life, I’ve convinced myself that I have more of an ‘attitude of prayer’. Maybe I don’t always put words to my prayers, but I have this attitude of just trusting God.

And it’s great to have that kind of trust in God, but I think that still misses the point of prayer! So these last few weeks have been really good for me as I’ve dug into the whole question of why do we pray? What’s the purpose of prayer?

And I know that I haven’t fully answered those questions yet in these messages, but I hope that as I’ve been sharing what I’ve been learning, I hope that God’s been stirring up a desire in you to learn more about the why and how of prayer in your own life.

So this morning, I want to share with you yet another aspect of prayer for you to think about this week. And for me, this is really what has helped me understand why God invites us to pray.

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King Amaziah vs King David – A Matter of Heart

This morning we are going to conclude our series – Lessons from the Kings. Over the past couple of months we’ve looked at several different kings of Isreal. Some were very good – some were very bad. Some were famous – some were pretty obscure. But all of them had an important lesson to teach us. And I believe that’s going to be true for our last kings today.

Today we are going to look at two kings. King David & King Amaziah. Now I know you’ve heard of King David, but King Amaziah might be a little more obscure to you. Now he certainly isn’t one of the most famous kings. He’s not known for his goodness or for his badness or for his badness for that matter. But he is a noteable character. And I’ve chosen him today because I want to contrast his life with King David’s.

Let’s start today by looking at King David.

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King Ahab – A Lesson in Grace

This morning we’re going to take a look at one of Israel’s most notorious kings. Just like King David was known for his goodness – King Ahab was known for his badness. In fact, let me just read for you how the Bible introduces him. This is 1 Kings 16:29-33.

“Ahab son of Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 31 And as though it were not enough to follow the example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. 32 First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. 33 Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.” 1 Kings 16:29-33

So basically, what the Bible is telling us, is that Ahab was the most evil king Israel had ever seen. He was the Adolf Hitler, the Joseph Stalin, the Osama Bin Laden of his time.

So what lessons could we possible learn from this guy? Well, I think the answer might surprise you. 

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King Asa – No Longer Fully Committed

Two weeks ago we began looking at the life of King Asa. As most of you know, we’ve been going through our series – Lessons from the Kings – over the summer months and so far we’ve looked at King Saul, King Hezekiah, and now King Asa.

Asa isn’t one of the most famous kings. In fact, if you missed the message two weeks ago, it’s possible that you may not have even heard of him before. So let me give you a quick recap of what we’ve been talking about.

King Asa was the great grandson of King Solomon. And the Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles 15 that “Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God.”

In the early years of his reign as king, his country was invade by the Ethiopians – and they had an army of one million men – plus chariots and charioteers. Well, long story/short – Asa called out to God and God gave Asa the victory. After this battle, God sent him a message through the prophet Azariah that said basically, as long as you stick with God, God will stick with you.

And so to keep up his end of the deal, King Asa and all the people of Judah entered into a covenant with each other – agreeing to seek the Lord their God with all their heart and soul. Anyone who didn’t, would be put to death.

And actually, following their example, we did the very same thing. (Minus, of course, the penalty of death.) I have a document in my office now that has 14 signatures on it – all of us agreeing to seek God with all our hearts – and agreeing to keep each other accountable in that endeavor.

So that was all last week. This week, we’re going to look at part 2 of Asa’s story. There are still some lessons that we can learn from this king.

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