Over the past month or so, we’ve been looking at the life of Samuel. And chances are, if you’ve only ever heard one story about Samuel – today’s story is likely the one. If you attended Sunday school as a kid, this would be the story that your Sunday school teacher would have had up on the flannelgraph. (And if you don’t know what a flannel graph is, talk to Randall. He’ll tell you all about it!)
But our story takes place when little Samuel was probably about 12 years old. And it’s been really interesting to me to see how frequently the Bible talks about how Samuel is growing up serving the Lord. He’s only a kid, but look what the Bible has already said about him…
1 Samuel 2:11 it says…
And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest. 1 Samuel 2:11(7 vs later…)
But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:18 (3 vs later…)
Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:21 (5 vs later…)
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people. 1 Samuel 2:26
And then finally to begin today’s passage:
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. 1 Samuel 3:1
For a kid who is probably only about 12 years old, the Bible sure has a lot of positive things to say about Samuel! In fact, I don’t think there are any other children in the Bible that receive so many positive comments.
But I think that’s a great reminder to all you kids! Even while you’re young, you can serve the Lord. All you kids can learn to love Him and please Him and honor him with how you live your life!
I mean, wouldn’t it be great to have your name in those verses? it could read something like this:
“But Caleb, though he was only a boy, served the Lord.”
“Meanwhile, Sophia grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.”
“Meanwhile, Logan served the Lord by assisting Pastor Dave.”
Wouldn’t that be awesome? And you guys can do that! You can serve and honor the Lord even when you’re a kid – just like Samuel.
Last week we spent some time looking at the Bible. Of course, that shouldn’t be too surprising. I think I’d have some serious questions about the validity of our church if we didn’t look at the Bible every Sunday! However, last week, our topic was actually the Bible itself.
And we asked some big questions. What exactly is the Bible? What’s it all about – what’s the main message? How did we get the Bible in the first place? And perhaps more importantly, how do we know we can trust it? As Christians, the basis for what we believe about God, about ourselves, about our world, about the meaning of life and how to live it abundantly, about eternity – all of that is found in the Bible. So it seems to me that I want to know with certainty that what I’m basing my beliefs on is true.
And for myself – I’m convinced that it is. I’ve personally spent quite a bit of time researching and seeing for myself – if the evidence truly adds up. And my conclusion is… it does. The evidence seems pretty indisputable to me. But don’t just take my word for it. Check it out for yourself!
We mentioned just a few of the evidences last week. One of them was the continuity of the message of the Bible. Even though the different parts of the Bible were written over a span of 1600 years by 40 different authors on three continents and in three languages – yet somehow, every one of those 66 books of the Bible fit together perfectly to make up one big story – the story of how God loved his creation so much, that despite their constant rebellion and failures, God chose to redeem them. He did that ultimately by sending His Son Jesus Christ, to be born in a stable, laid in a manger, and to one day die on a cross in our place, rising again three days later, so that through Him, we can find forgiveness and eternal life. That’s the message of the Bible – and you find that message throughout the Bible – everywhere from Genesis to Revelation.
We also very briefly touched on the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible and the way the Bible agrees with history, geography, and archaeology. There is just such a host of evidence that I have to conclude that, not only is the Bible true, but it is in fact, as it claims, the Word of God – recorded and preserved over the ages for me and you. But again, don’t take my word for it. That’s just my conclusion. Do your own research and find out for yourself.
Because if the Bible is true and if the Bible is the Word of God as it claims, then the ramifications are huge. If the Creator of the Universe has given me a book that contains all the truth I need to know about Himself, about myself, about my world, about life and how to live it abundantly, about eternity – then I want to know and understand what this book says!
If we are convinced that the Bible is true and that it is God’s message for us, then what should we do with that message? How do we make sure that we understand it correctly and how do we apply what it says to our lives? Should the Word of God actually make a difference in our lives – and if so, how does it?
And so my goal for this message is to give you some tools and teach you some methods for how to discover what’s in the Bible and how to get it off the pages and into your life so that it can actually transform you.
And that’s kinda the important bit right there. I’m not here to convince you to study the Bible just so that you can have a head full of knowledge. Knowledge is good – but it’s not our end goal. The end goal is to know and become more like our Creator. The goal is to strengthen and build our relationship with God. That’s the point of all these spiritual disciplines that we’ll be talking about over the next several weeks as we go through this series on “Healthy Habits”. I’ll tell you right now that reading your Bible is pointless unless it changes your relationship with God. Praying is pointless unless it changes your relationship with God. Going to church is pointless unless it changes your relationship with God.
Doing these things simply out of obligation or habit without actually engaging with God is like taking your car to the mechanic on a regular basis – but not allowing him to make any changes! How ridiculous would that be? Can you imagine going through the effort and paying the cost to take your vehicle into the mechanics every week – but never allowing him to make a single change to your vehicle? That would be ridiculous. That would be stupid!
But often I think we’re guilty of doing exactly that when it comes to these healthy habits. We go through the motions of reading our Bible or praying or going to church or whatever else we do, but we do it without the real intent of connecting with God through those activities. We forget that the purpose of all those things is to help us draw near to God and to abide in Him.
Remember that verse we read in John 15 a few weeks ago?
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
That’s why we do these things – to remain in Him. To stay connected with God. To know Him and become more like Him. If we’re not interested in doing that, then why are we doing all this ‘religious stuff’? All of these religious activities that we take part in – if we’re not trying to know God and become more like Him through those things – then it’s complete foolishness! We’re just driving our car back and forth from the mechanic shop!
But on the other hand, if we are seeking to know God and to become more like Him – to build and strengthen our relationship with Him, then these spiritual disciplines – these healthy habits – are some of the best ways you can do that! Without that desire, these practices will be empty and pointless. But when you go into it looking to connect with God, these practices will quickly become some of the most joyful, fulfilling moments of your day!
Does it matter what you believe? Does what you believe actually impact your life?
If you find an unmarked bottle of liquid in your cupboard – there are many possibilities of what it could be. It could be water. It could be bleach. It could be vinegar. They all look pretty much the same. You could believe that it could be any of those.
But does it matter what you believe? Will your belief about the contents of that container effect how you choose to use it? And will those choices, based on those beliefs, impact the course of your life? It certainly could!
“If you drink bleach, it oxidizes or burns tissues in your mouth, esophagus, and stomach. According to the National Institutes of Health, it can cause nausea, chest pain, lowered blood pressure, delirium, coma, and potentially death.” ~ somewhere on the internet…
Does it matter what you believe?
Of course it does! And all day every day, we make choices based on our beliefs.
If we believe that it’s going to be -40º outside today, you’re going to wear a warm coat and mitts and boots and all that stuff. If you believe that it’s going to be +40º today, you’re going to wear shorts and a t-shirt.
We are continually making choices based on our beliefs – and those choices, based on our beliefs are setting the course for our lives.
So what happens if your beliefs are wrong? What happens if you believe that you have a bottle of water – and it turns out that it’s a bottle of bleach? What happens if you believe that it’s going to be +40º but it turns out to be -40º?
It’s a serious problem to have incorrect beliefs. The course of your life can take a serious turn for the worse in a quick hurry!
I think it’s pretty obvious how important it is to have true beliefs.
And if it’s that important to know the truth about the weather or the truth about the contents of this container – how much more important is it that we have true beliefs about God?
What if the Bible is true? That might seem like an odd sort of question to ask a room full of people sitting in church on a Sunday morning, but that’s exactly the question that I want to ask today. What if the Bible is true?
Last Sunday we began a new fall focus entitled “Your Spiritual Journey.” And as we’ve noted in your bulletin, if you missed last Sunday, please go online to davetrenholm.com and you can either read the message from last week or download it and listen to it as an mp3.
But just to refresh your memory – we talked about how everyone of us is on a spiritual journey, no matter what our beliefs. We’re always headed in some direction – either towards God or away from Him. There is no standing still. We’re always moving in some direction. We’re on a spiritual journey.
And of course, as in any journey – it’s important to know where you, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.
So one of the first things we did last week, was to spend some time trying to figure out where each of us are in our own, personal spiritual journey. We used this little handout to help us. Your Spiritual Journey Handout Inside it has seven different phases of a typical spiritual journey. Of course, everyone’s journey is unique, but this booklet gives us some good general guidelines. And if you happened to have missed last week, I’d encourage you to grab one of these booklets from the back before you leave today.
But using this book, last Sunday everyone here tried to figure out where they were in their spiritual journey. Were they “not interested” in a relationship with God? Were they “curiously seeking? Were they “searching assertively, making a faith commitment, experiencing new life, growing in community, or making disciples.”
Well, we all tried our best to figure out were we fit in our own personal journey. Then I collected up everyone’s answers anonymously, and on Tuesday I read through them all, and do you know what I found? I found this a little surprising.
Who is Jesus? As you can see, you can find a wide variety of answers to that question. That clip that we just watched was taken in Baltimore, USA, but I’m sure if you asked the same question in Red Deer, you’d get the same variety of responses.
We talked last week a little bit about counterfeits and how tragic it is when people get duped – not just out of their hard-earned money – but in matters of eternal consequences. And judging by the wide variety of responses in this video, it’s clear that many people are getting duped about Jesus Christ. They’ve been deceived about who He really is.
And that’s not just in the secular world. If you were to ask that same question – “Who is Jesus” to people who have gone to church for years, I fear there would be many people who could not give a full and accurate answer of who Jesus is and what He’s done.
And this was the exact problem that the church in Colossae was facing in 60 AD. There were people in the church who were being confused and deceived about who Jesus Christ is. False teachers were spreading counterfeit beliefs about Jesus. And so that’s one of the main reasons that Paul writes this letter (what we call the book of Colossians) to the church in Colossae. To address this issue, Paul’s gives them – what I’ve called Christianity in a Nutshell – and He spells out for them in no uncertain terms the truth about Jesus Christ.
And so that’s exactly what we want to look at today, because quite frankly, I don’t want to get duped. I don’t know about you, but I want to know the truth – especially when my eternal future is on the line. I want to know the truth. What does the Bible say? Who is Jesus Christ? So that’s what we’re going to look at this morning.
Last week we began a three week mini-series entitled “God is…” and the goal of this series is to help us discover who God really is by looking at some of His attributes as found in the Bible. There are so many different opinions out there of who God really is… Is he like a sweet, old Grandpa? Is He like the force on Star Wars? Is He the ultimate policeman? We need to know what the Bible says, because what we believe about who God is, completely effects everything about how we live our lives.