Our Failure Meeting God’s Faithfulness

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–        Christian life is a series of ups and downs, celebrations and sorrows. It is learning how to navigate and re-direct failure into becoming life lessons learned for the better.

–        Israel has had numerous failures and just when it looks like they are walking forward they take steps backward.

o   Samuel helped Israel repent to turn from idols and trust God (1Sam 7)

o   God grants Israel victory over their enemies

o   Samuel’s sons are like how Eli’s sons were evil1Samuel logo

 

EXAMINE           Our Failures Meet God’s Faithfulness (1Samuel 8 – 12)

Human failures can cause misplaced spiritual focus (1Samuel 8:1-22)

1Sam 8:1 Samuel became old…

–        Old age is a treasure

o   1Sam 2:31-32 Eli’s family would lose the strength, faithfulness, wisdom, and legacy

o   Prov 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”

o   Prov 22:15 “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…”

o   Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with the aged and understanding in length of days.”

o   Many people God used were older… Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Caleb, David, Simeon and Anna, Jesus waited 30 years, Paul’s older life bore more fruit than his younger…

o   Cf. Lev 19:32; Deut 28:50; Ps 92:13-14; 1Tim 5:1)

–        We should not build a nation, or a church, at the expense of the older generation.

–        Yet, we should not build a nation, or a church, without preparation for the next generation.

 

1Sam 8:1 Samuel failed, but so did his sons.

–        Joel (Yahweh is God) and Abijah (My Father is Yahweh) had prospects of a godly legacy but they failed to live it out. They turned aside after gain, taking bribes and perverted justice.

–        Holiness is not hereditary. Godliness is not genetic.

o   Parents must pray, participate, and partner with others for the raising of their child.

o   Children cannot forever rely upon parents and must learn responsibility for their own choices and faith.

 

1 Sam 8:3-4 Israel failed with the right objective but the wrong approach.

–        Israel could have asked for Samuel to appoint new judges who would listen to God and lead in His ways. Instead, Israel sought to be like the other nations and request a king.

o   Israel’s desire for a king had been building over time (Numbers 23:21; Judges 8:22-23)

o   Israel had forgotten its history, even its most recent history with Ebenezer – “The Lord is my help” (1Sam 7:12). And further back in 1Sam 4 they trusted in the ark rather the Lord of the ark and they were repeatedly defeated.

 

Selecting a king was a worldly solution to a spiritual problem. Israel’s problem was not lack of leadership, for God was their king. Israel was rejecting God (1Sam 8:7,20 “that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles”; cf. 10:19; 12:12-25).

 

Illus:

Guinea worm, a disease that became well known in the 1980’s in 20 nations among Asia and Africa, with over 3.5 million cases.[1] The Guinea worm live in fresh water. When people drink from contaminated ponds or other bodies of stagnant water, they become infected with the parasite. The larvae turn into worms that can grow to be up to 3’ long. After about a year, the worm creates a blister, typically on legs or feet, for its slow and painful exit. When the worm first erupts, the person suffers a burning sensation and often seeks comfort by submerging the wound in a lake or a stream. The worm then takes opportunity to release a cloud of tens of thousands of larvae into the water. Other people end up drinking the larvae-laden water, which starts the cycle all over again.

There’s no medication to kill the worms. The only treatment is to slowly pull or cut the worm out of the infected person’s body. Yet, now in 2016 there are less than 4 confirmed cases, with the Guinea worm disease being pushed to extinction. How did they remove the disease?

The solution was not biological but behavioral change. The behavior of infected persons entering the water ceased. Once people were aware of the disease cycle, their behaviors changed.

Likewise, we need awareness that our problem is not solved with worldly advice but spiritual solutions. Only the gospel can change a heart.

 

è Politicians promise to please but they all fail to fulfill. Regardless of which political party there is disappointment in every human leader. As Christians, we must not look to government to do what only God can do.

 

è Jesus wants to give us greater protection than what we need in eternal salvation. Jesus wants to give us greater prosperity than what we seek in material blessings. Jesus wants to give us a greater prominence in having an eternal kingdom that outlasts all others.

 

o   Rejecting God’s rule does not result in desired freedom but doomed enslavement.

è The Christian’s objective is the gospel of the kingdom. We are dual citizens of the heavenly kingdom and of earth, yet we know which is greater.

– So, we should vote, run for office, influence the political process for laws of good and justice.

– Yet, we should trust that gospel-changed hearts will be more effective for good than law-induced ethics. See 1Samuel 12:19-25.

Principles for earthly citizenship voting

–        Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7

o   Participate in the government process

  • Government authorities exist in God’s sovereignty. Rend to Caesar…
  • Freedom and rights cost the burdens and bloodshed of our forefathers & soldiers.
  • America is blessed with some alternatives. Consider those living under oppressive and tyrant dictatorships who’s only alternative is death!
  • Pray for leaders (1Tim 2:1-3)

Participating in voting and governing process honors God and provides opportunity to influence of biblical morality and against moral decay; further it promotes justice to be a voice for the voiceless and oppressed. It allows us to choose policy makers and creations of law and judges who enforce the law.

 

o   Vote leaders who promote good conduct (cf. 10 Commandments, Sermon on Mount)

  • Internal Life –
  • 1Sam 8:5 Elders viewed Samuel’s sons as disqualified, just like Eli’s sons.
  • 2016 Election is lacking greatly for character in each candidates.

o   Yes, we may not be electing a pastor but a president, but in every election and in every sitting president, the people have expected a certain decorum and character of behavior.

o   Peggy Noonan “In a president, character is everything. A president doesn’t have to be brilliant … he doesn’t have to be clever; you can hire clever …. You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks. But you cannot buy courage and decency; you can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.”[2]

 

  • External Love neighbors (high view of freedom and independence)
  • Protect & Promote Sanctity of life (Gen 1:26-28; Psalm 139:13-16)
  • Protect & Promote Sacredness of family (Gen 2:24)
  • Protect & Promote Stewardship of work ethic (Gen 2; 2Thess 3:10)
  • Protect & Promote Support for Neighbors – domestic and internationally (Luke 10:25-37)
  • Protect & Promote Significance of righteousness (Micah 6:8; Prov 14:34)
  • “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Prov 14:34

 

o   Vote leaders who punish bad conduct

  • Deterrence
  • Terror / “bear the sword”

 

o   Vote for and not just against leaders

1Samuel 12:16-25 Samuel reproofs the people for requesting a king against the Lord. Their failure and sin was in not trusting the Lord’s purposes and seeking His plans, but rather choosing their own. In essence, they voted against Samuel’s sons for the only alternative they could see with their human eyes.

Our Christian duty is not just to vote against candidates but those to whom we can stand account before God with integrity saying, “I voted for this candidate because they hold true to my biblical convictions.”

Principles for voicing kingdom of God

–        Salt and Light. Placing truth on display with our lives (Matthew 5:13-16)

–        Spreading Love and Sharing Jesus. Proclaiming truth by declaring with our lips (Matthew 5 / 28:18-20)

 

APPLY/THINK

1Sam 8:10-18 A king would be costly

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.”

 

◊      Human kings take, take, take… They must be supplied & served.

◊      Jesus, the divine king gave, gave, gave.

◊      Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

We too must be careful what we ask for.

Answered prayers are not always a sign of God’s favor.

Unanswered prayers can be a sign of God’s mercy.

Fear the Lord… Trust God’s faithfulness to guide the knowns and unknowns.

 

[1] Illus adapted from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/06/06/480669616/the-last-days-of-guinea-worm

[2] Quote in http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/06/24/character-leadership-still-matter/

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