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Category: All the other stuff

God’s Purposes Will Prevail

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at the rise of David and the fall of Saul. As we’ve gone through 1 Samuel 18, we’ve seen how Saul’s jealousy of David has driven him to secretly plot the murder of his most successful military commander. We’ve seen three attempts by Saul to have David killed – and all the while, appearing to be David’s #1 fan!

His first attempt to kill David was probably the most difficult for Saul to appear innocent, as Saul whipped a spear at David, intending to pin him to the wall! 

That doesn’t seem very subtle – but because of the tormenting spirit that had plagued Saul, this incident may have been brushed off as almost accidental – temporary insanity might be the claim. Of course, I don’t know exactly how Saul explained his actions that day, but he seemed to convince David to forgive and forget what he had done. And David, not one to hold a grudge, obliged and faithfully continued in Saul’s service.

Saul’s next scheme to kill David was a little less obvious. He offered David his daughter Merab as a wife, with the condition that David prove himself first by fighting the Lord’s battles. Of course, Saul hoped that one those battles would be the end of David – that David would be killed by the Philistines and then Saul wouldn’t have to do it himself!

However, David turned down Saul’s offer to marry Merab – stating in essence, that he was unworthy to be the king’s son-in-law. His family were simple sheep farmers, not royalty! And so David humbly declined Saul’s offer – thwarting Saul’s plan to have him killed by the Philistines – and thus Merab was given to someone else.

But then, Saul discovered that his other daughter Michal was in love with David. And so he made the offer again to David to become his son-in-law! But this time, Saul convinced some of his men to encourage David to accept the King’s offer! And to make things even easier for David – Saul declared that the only dowry or brideprice that he wanted was the death of his enemies – 100 Philistine foreskins would be enough!

Saul was sure that the mighty warrior David would take up this offer and in his attempts to kill 100 Philistines, Dave would surely be killed the fight!

However, Saul had forgotten to take into account the fact that God was with David and gave him success in everything he did! And as it happened, David and his men went out and killed 200 Philistines and David payed double Saul’s price to marry his daughter, Michal.

And so the chapter concludes with Saul’s plots being foiled yet again – and David having nothing but success and prosperity! Let me read those final verses of chapter 18 for you as we lead into chapter 19 today…

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Seeing God’s Love in His Wrath

Last week we spent some time looking at the lavish generosity of God! 

We began by trying to understand our own jealous tendencies – that feeling that all of us seem to have where, no matter how good we have it, if someone else has it better, we feel envious of them and sometimes even resentful.

We saw this quite clearly in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard owner. You’ll remember in the parable, a vineyard owner hires a whole bunch of different guys throughout the day to work in his vineyard – some work 12 hours, some work 6 hours, some only work 1 hour because they were hired so late in the day. But at the end of the day, the vineyard owner pays them all a full days wage!

Of course, for those who only worked 1 hour, this is an amazing blessing! This is incredible generosity! But those who worked all day, they’re not quite as excited about it. They think it’s rather unfair that the guys who only worked for one hour should be paid the exact same amount as those who worked hard all day long.

And they were probably right. It may not have been fair – but the story wasn’t about fairness – it was about the generosity and kindness of the vineyard owner.

The point of the parable was to illustrate God’s goodness and kindness to us. It was a reminder to us that God isn’t stingy or reluctant to give to us – but rather he is lavishly generous – giving us more than what is needed or expected. 

We saw that theme repeated in the writings of Paul as Paul explained how God loved us and chose to adopt us into his family before time even began – and that doing that gave Him great pleasure! God loves to love us!

David had the very same understanding of God – as we saw in the Psalm 23. David talks about how God is our good shepherd and He takes awesome care of us – providing for our needs, protecting us from evil, even preparing a feast for us in the midst of our enemies.

And then we ended last week’s message by sharing communion together – and we remembered Jesus’ ultimate act of goodness and generosity – giving up his own life and dying on the cross so that we could live.

So I trust that last week was a strong reminder of the generosity of God.

But I want to be careful that I don’t present a lope-sided view of God. That is, I don’t want to emphasis one aspect of his character and leave out some others.

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The Lavish Generosity of God

Isn’t human nature interesting? It doesn’t matter how good of a deal we get, if someone else gets a better deal than us – we’re not usually happy about it, are we?

For example, let’s say that you decided to buy a brand new truck, and being the shrewed negotiator that you are, you manage to convince the dealer to sell you the truck for $10,000 less than what it’s really worth. You’d be pretty pleased with the deal you got, right?

But then, what if, after you got your truck and you’re feeling great about the deal you got – what if you found out that your friend went to that same dealer and got the exact same truck for $5000 less than what you paid?

Now be honest: Would you be happy that your friend got such a good deal – or would you be upset that you had to pay $5000 more than he did?

Seconds ago you were very pleased with the deal you got – now you’re upset over the same deal!

So why is that? Why is it that no matter how well things are going for us, if someone else seems to have something better, we get jealous and envious?

Well, Jesus once told a parable that addresses this very issue. This is one of those “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…. This” stories. It’s found in Matthew chapter 20. And I want to read that for you today. Starting in verse 1, Jesus begins the story like this…

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’ 

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage.10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner,12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

Matthew 20:1-15

And that’s where Jesus ends the story. It’s quite a pointed question at the end, isn’t it? Very applicable to us… In fact, this story illustrates exactly the problem that we’ve been talking about.

So let’s walk through the story and point out a couple things along the way.

The story begins with a man going out and hiring a few men to spend the day working in his vineyard. Now that in itself was a quite a blessing to these men.  Back then it would be very common not to have a regular job that you go to every day, but rather, you would get hired on a day-by-day basis. All the men looking for work would gather and hang out in the marketplaces hoping to get hired for the day by a local farmer or businessmen so that they would be able to buy food for their families. Of course, there was no guarantee of work – and thus no guarantee of pay that day.

So the fact that these men were hired at all on this day was already a blessing. I imagine these fellows would have been quite pleased to earn a days wage. There would have been many men who wouldn’t get the chance to work and earn anything that day. So these guys would have been pretty happy to have been hired by this vineyard owner. 

If that’s where the story ended, I’m sure these men would have eagerly worked all day and then gone home with their money – very happy they were hired and very satisfied with their wages.

But of course, that’s not where the story ends. It just so happened that the vineyard owner traveled through the market several times throughout that day – at 9:00am, at noon, at three, and even at 5:00pm – and each time he finds men standing around doing nothing – so he offers them all a chance to work in his vineyard that day – even if it’s only for an hour or so.

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Provision and Protection

This week – as a good chunk of North American sat under the infamous polar vortex – as cold weather records were broken all over the country – in the midst of all the -30 degree temperatures we experienced here in Penhold – this week, I put in my order for my garden seeds, perennials, and fruit trees.

I think ordering seeds in February is a great expression of faith. I have faith that winter will not last forever. I have faith that spring will come and things will grow in my garden once again. There’s a great verse in Romans that speaks to this issue.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance. Romans 8:25 NET

I think that describes every Canadian every winter. We hope for what we do not see, but we must eagerly wait for it with endurance.

Well, this morning, I’m not really intending to talk about the weather and not even so much about faith or hope at this point – but rather, I want to talk a bit about gardening.

Some of you know that I like to dabble in gardening and landscaping and all that good stuff. It’s one of my hobbies that keeps me busy in the summertime. 

And for the most part, I think I’m pretty good at it, but you won’t know that by looking at the plants we have in our house right now. 

For some reason, my outdoor gardening goes really well, but the indoor gardening… not so much. Outdoors, I’ve grown plums and cherries and pears and apples and grapes and watermelons, and all kinds of delightful things. Outside in the yard and garden, things seem to flourish –  In fact, I have a well visited blog where I’ve documented most of the things I’ve grown – you can check it out at

But when it comes to my indoor gardening, most of our house plants struggle to stay alive. I bought a fig tree on a wim last spring – but of course, fig trees can’t survive in this kind of winter, so brought it in to the house last fall. Well, this week, I snapped a picture of it for you so you can see just how well it’s doing. 

This is my fig tree. As you can see – it is not exactly thriving. It is barely surviving! It’s got like six leaves on it. Now just to give you a comparison, here’s a picture I found of a healthy, flourishing fig tree.

That’s what my fig tree should look like. There’s a significant difference there. And there’s a lot of reasons for that – it’s winter, so there’s not much sun in general.  Our house doesn’t have any good south facing windows, so that really minimizes the sunlight. The pot it’s in is much too small for the size of tree it is. And I rarely make the effort to give it any fertilizer. 

So while I think it will stay alive until spring – I’m pretty confident that there will be next to zero growth and there will certainly be no fruit – no figs this year. It’s surviving, but it’s certainly not thriving.

Now I want you to keep this image of my fig tree in your mind – we’re going to come back to it in a little while, so just hold on to it for a bit. But first, I remind everyone what we’ve been talking about for the last several weeks.

We’ve been talking about the church in your house.

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Your Spiritual Journey

Every person on the planet is constantly in motion. We are always moving. For example, scientists tell us that the earth’s continents are slowly drifting apart. They figure that North America moving at a rate of about 2 to 4 inches every year. And actually in 2011 when Japan had that large earthquake and tsunami – it moved Japan about 8 feet closer to our west coast. That’s amazing! That’s some serious motion.

And not only are our continents moving – the entire planet is in motion. You know how the sun comes up every morning and goes down every evening? That’s because the earth is spinning in an easterly direction at about 1000 miles per hour. Not only that, the earth screaming through space in an orbit around the sun at about 67,000 mph. That’s a lot of movement!

But the sun is moving too… Our entire solar system is rotating within our galaxy at a speed of about 500,000 mph. And if that still doesn’t blow your mind, our galaxy is not only rotating, but it is also moving away from other galaxies at a rate of about 1.2 million mph.

That means, even if you were to try and stand perfectly still within your own home, you would actual move approximately the distance between here and Cuba!

The fact is, from the day you are born to the day you die, you are always moving. You’re never standing still.

And that leads me into what I want to talk about today. Just like we are always physically moving, we are also always spiritually moving. From the day we are born to the day we die, we are on a spiritual journey. Everyone of us. It doesn’t matter if we are a Christian, or an atheist, or a muslim, or a hindu, or a whatever else. We’re all on a spiritual journey. The difference, of course, is where our journey leads us. (And we’re going to get into that a little bit later on.)

But all of us are on a spiritual journey. We’re either moving towards God or away from Him. There’s no standing still in this journey.

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