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Tag: obedience

The Lord Looks at the Heart

This morning we begin a new chapter in 1 Samuel – both literally and figuratively. Of course, we literally begin a new chapter just about every week, but today the direction of our story really takes a significant turn.

Today we are introduced to David.

Did you know that David is the most mentioned person in the Bible aside from Jesus Himself? David is mentioned by name over 900 times – that’s 3 times as often as Abraham – who is considered to be the Father of Israel! Of the 66 books of the Bible, David is mentioned in 28 of them!

As you go through the Old Testament prophecies, the promised Messiah is constantly connected with David and his kingdom. In the New Testament, that theme continues and Jesus is even referred to as the Son of David. If you remember the story of blind Bartimaeus, that’s how he refers to Jesus. In Mark 10:47….

When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:47

David is obviously a very significant figure not only in the history of Israel, but in God’s overarching plan of Salvation for mankind! So I think it’ll be great to go through his life and perhaps see why God chose David to be such an integral part of the Salvation story.

I think I mentioned back 17 sermons ago when I started this series that the whole reason I wanted to go through the book of Samuel was to study the life of David! He’s such an interesting  and unique character – and of course, David’s life is filled with incredible stories. 

Slaying the giant Goliath, fleeing from the mad King Saul, pretending to be crazy himself to escape from the Philistines, leading his ever growing band of mighty men in great exploits against the enemy, rising from shepherd boy to King of Isreal, committing murder and adultery, but repenting and being called a man after God’s own heart, fleeing from his own son who tries to take his throne, and through it all composing hundreds of songs and poems to God that make up a significant portion of our Bible today.

David’s story is really incredible and I’m super excited to learn from his life as we go through these next chapters together.

To start off this morning, I just want to remind you where we left off last week. King Saul had been chosen by God to be the first King of Israel, and while Saul had been very successful in his military endeavours, he had been an utter failure in his relationship with God. Twice now Saul has been rebuked by the prophet Samuel for his disobedience. And because Saul had not been loyal to God, God has declared that Saul’s Kingdom will be torn away from him and given to another man – a man after God’s own heart!

But we closed the last chapter with both God and Samuel grieving over Saul’s foolish choices. The final verse we read tells us:

35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.

1 Samuel 15:35

It’s certainly not a very positive note and things are not looking very hopeful for the future of Israel. However, God’s purposes would not be thwarted by a disobedient King. God had already planned and accounted for all this and God was prepared to move forward with or without Saul. So we turn now to 1 Samuel chapter 16 to literally and figuratively begin this new chapter in the story of Samuel. Verse 1 begins like this:

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Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

For the past few weeks we’ve been following the career of King Saul – the first King of Israel. And it’s really been a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are times when Saul does a fantastic job as king. As you read through 1 Samuel, often Saul is presented as the hero of Israel – rescuing the nation from all it’s enemies!

For example, at the end of the chapter we read last week, we find a bit of a summary of Saul’s military success. If you look at 1 Samuel 14, verse 47, it reads like this:

47 Now when Saul had secured his grasp on Israel’s throne, he fought against his enemies in every direction—against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. And wherever he turned, he was victorious. 48 He performed great deeds and conquered the Amalekites, saving Israel from all those who had plundered them.

Then we get a brief summary of Saul’s family tree – which I won’t read right now – and then verse 52 continues…

52 The Israelites fought constantly with the Philistines throughout Saul’s lifetime. So whenever Saul observed a young man who was brave and strong, he drafted him into his army.

1 Samuel 14:47-48, 52

So as you can see, from a military point of view, Saul was a very successful King. It says he saved Israel from all who had plundered them. Where ever he turned, he was victorious! In the eyes of the people of Israel, Saul was exactly the kind of King that they wanted.

However, in the eyes of God, King Saul had not been quite so successful. Two weeks ago, we saw how Saul disobeyed the command of the Lord by offering up a burnt offering to God – instead of waiting for the prophet Samuel – who was the only one God had authorized to make such an offering. Saul over-stepped the bounds of his God-given authority as King, and took the role of priest for himself. And as we’re going to see today, this wasn’t just an isolated incident of sin –  It wasn’t a one-time foolish choice in a moment of weakness – this was evidence of a heart that would increasingly become prideful and arrogant.

Although Saul had very humble beginnings, it seems that his position of power and his military success caused him to grow in his esteem of himself and decrease in his esteem of God and his commands.

And so today, as we turn to 1 Samuel chapter 15, we’re going to see this pattern continue – with Saul concluding that his ways and his decisions are just a little bit wiser than God’s ways and God’s decisions. But I should warn you… As we go through this story and see how foolish and arrogant Saul has become, we need to be careful, because we might just see ourselves doing the exact same thing…

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Gideon – Mighty Hero

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been looking at some of the unlikely heroes in the book of Judges.

And of all the characters that we’ve looked so far, none of them have been the real famous Bible story characters that maybe some of you grew up with. If you went to Sunday school as a kid, you probably acted out the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho – maybe you saw a puppet show about Noah and the ark – there was probably a flannelgraph illustration of Daniel in the lions den.

However, you likely didn’t see any puppets acting out the story of Ehud as he lost his dagger in the fat of King Eglon’s belly. You’re not likely to have seen a kids feature skit about how Jael hammered a tent peg through the skull of Sisera. These aren’t the kinds of stories that usually make it into the children’s Bible story books. But they are in the Bible – and they are important for us to study and learn from… Just maybe not when you’re 5 years old!

But today we’re going to look at another judge – and this one is a little more well-known then some of these others. His story isn’t quite so graphic, so you very well may have learned about him in Sunday School. Today we’re going to look at the life of Gideon.

And Gideon’s story begins just like all the other judges we’ve looked at so far. They all begin the same way…

You’ll remember the cycle of sin that we’ve been talking about in the book of Judges. Israel would sin and so God would allow their enemies to oppress them. And after several years of enduring this oppression, the Israelites would repent and cry out for God to save them. Which of course, God did by sending them a rescuer – that is, a judge – like Ehud or Deborah. But then, as soon as the enemy was defeated and that particular judge died, the Israelites would go right back into sinning again and the cycle would begin all over.

And so, it’s quite predictable, that after Deborah rescued Israel from King Jabin and his commander Sisera, that Israel would again sin, and God would allow another enemy to oppress them. And this time, the enemy was a doozy. If you have your Bibles you can turn to Judges chapter 6 – verse 1. It begins like this:

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Asa – Stick With God

This morning we look at yet another king of Israel in our summer series – Lessons from the Kings. The king that we will be looking at this morning is fairly unknown. You probably didn’t hear his story when you were in Sunday School as a kid. He’s not really a famous hero like King David or an evil villain like King Ahab. He’s really just an average Joe. Just a regular guy who happened to be king.

But the Bible records his story for a reason. There is a lesson to be learned from his life. So let’s see if we can find out what it is. 

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King Hezekiah Sets the Bar for Obedience

Last Sunday we started a new sermon series entitled “Lessons from the Kings”. Throughout the summer months we’re going to be looking at – not all, but several, of the kings of Israel. And we kicked it all off last week with the very first king of Israel – King Saul.

Unfortunately, Saul didn’t leave us much of an example to follow. The lesson we learned was more of a ‘what not to do’ – as Saul blatantly disobeyed the command of the Lord.

But this morning, we’re going to get a better role model. We’re going to fast forward through time to King Hezekiah. Now King Hezekiah isn’t one of the Bible’s most famous characters – but he was one of Israel’s best and most Godly kings.

Just so you know, in this series, we aren’t going though the kings chronologically. Hezekiah does not immediately follow Saul on the timeline. In fact, he’s much closer to the end of the timeline than the beginning. But just before we start looking at King Hezekiah – we need to know a bit about his father – King Ahaz. So if you have your Bibles, turn with me to 2 Chronicles 28. This chapter gives us a good snapshot of what kind of a king King Ahaz was.

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The True Condition of King Saul’s Heart

This morning we begin a new sermon series – entitled “Lessons from the Kings.” And I feel I should clarify, especially to the men, that we’re actually not talking about hockey. Although I am sure there are many lessons that we could learn from the recent Stanley Cup champions, I’m afraid the Los Angeles Kings will not be the focus of our study this morning.

Instead, we’re going to be looking at the Kings of Israel. Now most people can name at least one or two of the kings of Israel. For example, many of you know that the first king of Israel was King Saul. And of course, after Saul was the giant killer, King David and after David was his son King Solomon. And that’s just about as far as most people can go. Few people could name the kings that followed Solomon. But the Bible records the stories of 41 kings of Israel.

Now we’re not going look at all of them, of course, but over these next few summer months, we’re going to look at the lives of several of these famous and not so famous kings.

The king we want to look at this morning is King Saul – the very first king of Israel.

Now just to give you the background to his story, you might remember that before Israel had kings, they were led by Judges. We talked about these judges last September in our Heroes and Zeros series – guys like Samson, Gideon, Ehud. Well, the last of these judges was a man named Samuel. He had faithfully led the people of Israel for his entire life – and now that He was an old man, the people of Israel didn’t want another judge to lead them – they asked God to give them a king.

God agreed to their request and God told Samuel anoint Saul as their first king. But it’s important to note that even though Saul was to be their political & military leader – as long as he was alive, Samuel remained as their spiritual leader. He was still God’s representative – God’s voice to the people – God’s voice to the king. And that’s just what we see in the passage that we are going to look at this morning.

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