Scripture Read: I Samuel 17 - 18
Title: Saul's Jealousy of David
(H) Highlight verse: "Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul" I Samuel 18:12
(E) Explain: Today's reading is a very familiar storu. It is safe to say that the story of David and Goliath has been told numerous times in Sunday school, at bedtime and from the pulpt. Instead of recapping a story we all are quite familiar with I would like to look at the events that transpire after the slaying of the giant.
David was appointed overseer of the men of war by King Saul. However, problems began to arise as jealousy begins to take root in the heart of Saul. He hears that the people are praising David for his conquests and this angers Saul greatly. Not only does this make him angry, but he begin to be afraid (we read three times in chapter 18 that he was afraid). Why was he afraid? He was afrand because the LORD was with David and not with Saul. I would think this would have made Saul happy since you would want your number one right hand man walking with the LORD, right? Apparently now, Saul was afraid because he knew David was walking with the LORD and he was not. Saul knew that David was on the uprising because God was with him and Saul was heading for a downfall because the LORD was not with him. This created a problem for Saul because he wanted the glory for himself. This is usually the root of jealousy. Saul is concerned because the people saw God working in David and not in him and this meant the people were losing faith in his leadership and ability to be King over Israel.
(A) Application: Jeaousy is hard thing to deal with. I find it hard to believe a person could be jealous of another persons spiritual growth and success. I am in the "business" of promoting and helping people grow, so spiritual jealousy is almost a foreign concept to me. Unfortunately spiritual jealousy is a problem in the Christianity. The problem arises when people are not walking with the LORD and they see others walking and growing this makes them mad. Why is this so? They may not realize it at the time, but their anger is actually rooted in jealousy. We read in scripture that dark and light cannot coincide and this is what is happening in Saul with David. Saul is living in darkness, the Spirit has left him, and David is walking in the light, the Spirit is with him and this tension makes for a recipe for spiritual jealousy. The problem is not David and his spirituality, but it is Saul and his lack of spirituality. This holds true for us today. If someone is critical of your growing relationship with God, he/she is not jealous because of something you have done, but it is more often a reflection of that persons relationship with God. Jesus has assured those of us who follow him that when people oppose, persecute, or hate us it will not be because of us and what we have done, but the oppositions and jealousy will be rooted in them seeing the growing relationship we have with Jesus Christ.
(R) Respond: LORD, I know that when I face spiritual jealousy, criticism and opposition for doing the right thing I tend to get frustrated and run down. Help me to remember at all times that what I am doing is right and it is for your Kingdom and that is all that matters.
Scripture Read: I Samuel 15 - 16
Title: David Annointed As Next King
(H) Highlight verse: "But the LORD said, 'Do not look upon his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks upon the heart.''" I Samuel 16:7
(E) Explain: Saul continues to be disobedient to the LORD. Because of his disobedience the LORD rejects him as the King of Israel. The LORD commissions Samuel to go to the house of Jesse to find the man who would become the next king. When Samuel arrived he brought out his oldest boy and upon seeing his looks and stature Samuel thought for sure this was the next king. However the LORD told him that he is rejecting this person. God informs Samuel that He is not choosing a king based upon his outer apperance (that already happened with Saul) He is instead looking at the heart of a man. The LORD wants a man who will be obedient to Him and have a heart to serve Him. This man, or should I say boy, is none other than David. He would become the next king. Samuel anoints him and David quickly becomes the armor bearer to Saul. Even though Saul has been rejected by God, he remains king, but he is troubled by evil spirits and his reign is about to unravel.
(A) Application: God looks at the heart and not the appearance. This truth has been one of my favorite scriptures for nearly 25 years. God can and does use anyone for His purposes. He doesn't need stong and beautiful men and women to make an impact for his Kingdom. He doesn't need college educated people to promote His will. He doesn't need men and women with Masters Degrees, PhDs or Doctorates to run his Church. He needs men and women who have pure hearts, and the willingness to be used by God. He desires men and women who are obedent, and humble to be used for His kingdom purposes. God loves to use the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary and this should encourage you today because it encourages me greatly.
(R) Respond: LORD, use me for your Kingdom purposes. I am just an average ordinary man who wants to be used by you. I trust that you have called and commissioned me inspite of my appearance and education. May I be used by you because your Spirit is upon me and because you have anointed me to be your servant.
Scripture Read: I Samuel 13 - 14
Title: King Saul Sins Against the LORD
(H) Highlight verse: "And Samuel said to Saul, 'You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which He commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.''" I Samuel 13 - 14
(E) Explain: King Saul was preparing for battle against the Philistines and the people were nervous and afraid to enter this battle. Saul waits seven days for Samuel to come to offer the burnt offering at Gilgal but he did not show up at the appointed time. Saul saw that the people were beginning to leave, so he ordered the burnt offering to be brought to him so he could offer it up to the LORD. This offering was reserved for the appointed person only, and in this case it was Samuel. Since Saul made the offering, he sinned against God's commands. Samuel confronts Saul and declares that his sin has disqualified him as king of Israel. His kingdom was coming to an end and God had sought out another man to take his place.
(A) Application: At the onset of this passage we can think that King Saul's punishment is a bit harsh. I mean what he did was not something that would bring harm to others, he simply offered a sacrifice to God. In fact, I am willing to bet that Saul's motive and heart was completely pure. I think that he did not intentionally disobey God... But the fact remains, he did. God has standards and rules and we must keep these rules. When Samuel came around, he could have easily overlooked this minor infraction and blessed Saul to go forth and conquer. Instead, Samuel confronts Saul. He confronts Saul because he committed a sin and this sin must be confronted head on.
Confrontation is never fun. I don't like to confront and I certainly don't like to be confronted. But as I look back over my life those many times when a person who cared for me and loved me confronted me (sometimes harshly and other times gently) I am thankful, because I realized I was doing something wrong and I needed to repent and change my ways. Unfortunately, we do not see this with Saul. We actually don't see any sign of remorse, he just went on with his life, his plan for battle and continues to spiral down a path that will lead to his eventual destruction. Godly confrontation may never be fun, but when done and received in the Spirit of Christ, it always leads to repentance and a changed heart.
(R) Respond: LORD, thank you for those people in my life who cared enough about me to confront me on my sins or disobedience to you. Thank you that these people lovingly confronted me and graciously led me to a place of humility and repentance. I am a better person for this and I am striving to become an obedience follower of Jesus, through the power of your spirit, as well.
What Discipleship Looks Like for You
Matthew 10:16 – 33
April 8th, 2018
My overall goal for this article is twofold. First, it’s to help you better understand the scripture text we are using so that you understand you are called to discipleship and secondly, to assist you in discovering how this passage in Matthew 10 gives a practical look at what discipleship looks like for you today. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can leave this place knowing, understanding and owning our call to being disciples of Jesus Christ.
I will be talking about Matthew 10, but before I get into the text I would like to give some background to give us context as to what Jesus is saying. Not to long before this Jesus finished preaching his Sermon on the Mount and then He went out and ministered to the people. He ministers by serving the people, he cleanses a leper, heals a paralytic, restores sight to a blind man, heals a woman with a bleeding disorder, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, calms the storm, casts out demons and evil spirits, and brings a young girl back to life. He spent a great deal of his time teaching, healing and ministering to those around him. It is during this time Jesus models discipleship to His followers.
Chapter 9 concludes with Jesus’ famous call to discipleship where he says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” He is saying, there is plenty to do and there are not enough workers to accomplish the task, so pray the Lord would send you to the harvest.
At the beginning of chapter 10 Jesus calls his disciples and gives them authority to go out to the lost sheep of Israel (their own people) and proclaim the Kingdom of God is at hand. As they proclaim the Kingdom they are also called to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. Jesus commissions them to go out and do what He did. Jesus does what all good leaders do…He models discipleship (shows them) and then commissions them to go out and do as he does. This is called “The Law of Replication”. One of the more frequent questions I am asked about either becoming or developing disciples is “What are some good programs or models for discipleship?” I could easily point them to the thousands of resources available online, in churches and in bookstores, but instead I point them to Jesus and His Word. Jesus showed us how to be disciples and I believe firmly that discipleship is caught and not taught. This simply means the best way to learn how to be a disciple is to be around other disciples who are following their calling as disciples of Jesus.
Read Matthew 10:16 – 25
Proclaiming, healing and casting out demons sounds like a big deal. This commissioning would certainly bring a lot of attention to the cause of Jesus Christ and His disciples, right? I mean why wouldn’t people come in droves to see this new phenomenon? But Jesus sets the record straight by saying this is not going to be easy; I am actually sending you out as sheep among wolves! You are going to face opposition, you are going to face intense persecution and in fact those who you love, and trust are going to oppose you because of the truth you represent. And people won’t hate and persecute you because they don’t like you, they will do this because they hate me. However, He gives them assurance and a promise, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” He then gives the disciples permission to leave and go to the next town. Jesus informs the disciples that this persecution is inevitable because a student is not above his teacher… Basically He is saying, “If I am persecuted for what I say and do, then so will you.”
Read Matthew 10:26 – 33
Now that Jesus spends a good deal of time telling his disciples about the cost of discipleship, he encourages them to not fear the opposition because they oppose the truth. He implores them to not fear those who can kill the body and cannot kill the soul, but to instead fear him who can destroy both body and soul… or more practically for us today this can mean do not fear those who try to control and intimidate, but fear God, because His kingdom, His righteousness, and His truth is what matters most. This fear is considered a reverential awe. This means that we know our place before a holy God. This kind of fear we should have for God reminds me of a conversation in the book “THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis where the young Susan is talking to Mr. Beaver and he says, “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” This is a perfect picture of God, He holds the power of death and life, so this does not make him safe, but He is also a loving God who cares deeply for His people. God cares about the sparrows, so He certainly cares about you. So, don’t worry and don’t fear.”
Now, Jesus gives the disciples the charge to be bold about their faith. There will be opposition and persecution. There will be betrayal and intimidation. You may lose what is important and precious in your life for my sake. But don’t let that stop you… Be bold because if you acknowledge Jesus before men, then He will acknowledge you as one of His own. But if you deny Him before man, then He will deny you before the Father.I am going to stop here but reference a few points in the next passage (34- 39) but I want to encourage you to continue reading this chapter because Jesus says, “Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He continues, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Powerful, powerful words. So, what do they mean for you today?
We have looked very quickly at this passage and in doing so I hope I accomplished my first goal of helping you understand the scripture passage and that you all know that you are all called disciples of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is not something reserved for the ultra-spiritual, it is a call for everyone. Now for my second goal… To help you discover what discipleship looks like for you today. I would like to bring to your attention in your bulletin to the…
Five Truths to Living as a Disciple of Christ
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
(Read Matthew 4:1 – 10)
Jesus was tempted by the devil (the accuser) in the wilderness and Jesus responded and rebuked his temptations with Scripture. How do you resist temptation when they come your way? Do you have a Bible reading plan?
(Read Matthew 4:12 – 17)
After Jesus resisted the devil and the angels ministered to Him, He began his ministry by proclaiming the Kingdom of God was at hand and repentance. What conclusion(s) do you come when you read about repentance and the Kingdom of God? Are the two mutually inclusive?
(Read Matthew 4:18 – 22)
What do you notice about Peter, Andrew, James and John’s responses to Jesus call to discipleship? Do you think there is a cost to discipleship?
(Read Matthew 4:23 – 25)
One of the rules of about leadership is that it is caught and not taught (You learn by observing and then doing). The same rule applies for discipleship. How does Jesus display the act of discipleship to His disciples?
(Read Matthew 10:16 - 25)
Jesus is sending his disciples out to the “lost sheep” of Israel, and he warns them about the opposition they will face. He also says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” What warning signal goes off in your head when you hear this?
Scripture Read: I Samuel 9 - 10
Title: Israel Gets A King
(H) Highlight verse: "Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any people... 'Here is the man whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.''" I Samuel 9:2; 17b
(E) Explain: We read about the man who would become king of Israel. He was a young, good looking, and tall man. He was the complete package. He was the pinnacle of what the people would want. Was he qualified? No. Did he have a clue as to what it meant to be a king? Probably not. We do see that he is the one who God chose for the nation. They wanted a mighty warrior king who could intimidate and lead armies and they got someone who looked like he could probably intimidate and conquer. We do see the God's spirit was upon him early on, but we do see that from the start, he was not God's perfect plan for the nation. He gives them what they think they want.
We are told he will win battles, he will save the people from the Philistines, and he will be a prince over the people. But we also see that he is the result of the rejection of the God of Israel among the people. Saul is set up for failure. But this is what the people want.
(A) Application: Humans like leaders who are strong, confident, and have it all together... Or at least we line leaders who have the appearance of being strong, confident and have it all together. We often choose leaders based on charisma, past and present accomplishments, and the ability to lead well. We want people who can do the job. Rarely do we care about the character of the person. We can overlook character because character doesn't matter when it comes to leading, the only thing that matters is their supposed ability to lead. This has been the case for millennia. We need not look too far back in history or even today to see this to be true. However, God can still work through these individuals and He does, but the end result is not always what we pray, think or hope for. Sometimes God gives us leaders that we think we want in order to show us that what we really need is Him.
(R) Respond: God, may all of my talents, abilities and leadership come from you. I depend on you for success in all areas of my life. You have given me talents and abilities, but I know they come from you, so may I never boast about that which you have given to me.
Scripture Read: I Samuel 3 & 8
Title: Samuel's Call & Israel's Demand for a King.
(H) Highlight verse: "But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, 'No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.''" I Samuel 8:19, 20
(E) Explain: Samuel was a prophet who served as a judge over Israel for many years. In his old age his sons began to judge as well and they were corrupt. The people of Israel decided the wanted a king to rule over them. Up until this point God has been their ruler and the judges had been appointed by God. This demand for a king upset Samuel and it upset the LORD, but this did not change anything. God tells Samuel that He will give them a king and he will not be good for them, but the people did not care. They wanted a king. They demanded a king. They wanted to be like everyone else around them. They wanted a man to do the job of God and this displeased Samuel and more importantly it displeased the LORD.
(A) Application: Why did Israel want a king? We see they wanted a king because they wanted to be like all the nations. God had called Israel to be distinct and unique. God called Israel to be separate from the world and to be a blessing to the nations. Israel wanted to be like everyone else. God and Samuel took this as a rejection of God. God had taken care of them up to this point, but now they decided they wanted their rule and protection to be under the commission of a king. God responds by giving them a king. As we will see soon, God gives the nation the ruler they want and demand. However, God says that once he is appointed king he will not hear their cry because of the actions of their king. They have chosen their leader and He will give them the leader they want. When we demand from God certain things that go against His plan and purpose, He gives us just what we want. He allows us to have what we want, even if it is not good for us. As a result He allows things to go south, and He will gently and lovingly fix the messes we make, but not without incident and accountability for our disobedience and hard-heartedness.
(R) Respond: Who is the king of your life? Is it man or is it God? I choose God. I will serve Him and him alone. No person can ever take the throne of my heart. LORD, I reserve the throne of my heart for you and you alone.
Scripture Read: I Samuel 1 - 2
Title: Hannah's Desire For a Son
(H) Highlight verse: "And in due time, Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, 'I have asked for him from the LORD.'" I Samuel 1:20
(E) Explain: Hannah is one the wives of Elkanah. She was barren. Elkanah loved Hannah more than his other wife Peninnah and we are not told why. Peninnah would continually provoke her because Hannah could not have a child. Hannah wanted a child very badly, so she went to the temple and fervently prayed to the LORD to give her a child. The High Priest saw her praying and took her for being drunk, but Hannah assured him she was not. In her prayer she made a promise to God, she said, "If you indeed look upon the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head." Over time God gave her the desires of her heart and she had a baby boy and named him Samuel. She kept her promise and "lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."
(A) Application: The story of Samuel and Hannah holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. First, when I read throughout the Bible about the MANY barren women, their lives all end with God blessing them and giving them a child. The child who is born is often, if not always, a child whom God blesses and uses mightily for His purposes. Secondly, this story is dear to me because when my wife and I were trying to have a child, we were told there was a good chance we could not conceive. We prayed about this and we were ok with it. However, we didn't want to give up. We had trouble conceiving and one day I was reading this passage and I was encouraged because I made the promise to the LORD that if He would give us a child, we would dedicate him/her to Him forever. The LORD spoke to me and told me we would have a child. I shared this with my wife and we continued to pray for a child. Today, I am the proud father of four beautiful children. I am encouraged to know that God still hears our prayers, knows our desires and delights in giving us the desires of our hearts. I am reminded in this passage over and over again that nothing is impossible with God, All things are in His hands and I need to trust Him to be God.
(R) Respond: God is kind. He knows our hearts. He hears our prayers. Don't stop praying and don't stop trusting Him. He alone is God and He will respond and rule according to His will and purpose.
Scripture Read: Ruth 3 - 4
Title: Ruth's Redemption
(H) Highlight verse: "'Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.'.. So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife ...'" Ruth 3:10, 13a
(E) Explain: In chapter three Naomi devises a plan to “set up” Ruth and Boaz. She tells her to wash up and get into her best outfit (so to speak) and when he lies down to bed, uncover his feet and sleep at his feet. Her hope is that he would accept the offer to be her kinsman redeemer. As Boaz goes to sleep and Ruth does as she’s told he asks her what she is doing. Basically she asks him if he would be the redeemer for the family. He tells her he will but the problem is there is a closer relative who can act as the redeemer and by rights he has the first choice.Boaz says that if the other relative will redeem her then good, but if not he will redeem her. He has a talk with the other relative and informs him that Naomi is selling her land and he has first options to buy it. He is willing to buy the land but unwilling to redeem Ruth so he gives the right of redemption to Boaz. The transaction is made and Boaz marries Ruth. They have a child together and his name is Obed. He is significant because he is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David was promised that the Messiah would come through his lineage.
(A) Application: Boaz is a type of Christ as he is the willing and able redeemer of one who is poor, widowed and abandoned. He is capable and willing to allow this person, who really didn’t have much of a future, and redeem her; to accept her into his family and take her as a wife. This is very similar to what Jesus came to do. He came to redeem those who are spiritually deprived and lost individuals of the world. He is the ultimate kinsman redeemer as he is the rightful, willing and able redeemer of those whom the Father has given to him. His way of paying the debt is through giving his life for the lost and dying on the cross so that those who believe may be redeemed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Not only was Jesus willing to become our redeemer he was also able as he was the perfect and chosen redeemer of all humanity.
(R) Respond: Lord, your story of redemption is one of hope. I pray for the continual reminder that your sovereignty and redemption go hand in hand. You have a plan of redemption through Jesus and because of Him we are redeemed.
Scripture Read: Ruth 1 - 2
Title: Ruth Meets Boaz
(H) Highlight verse: "And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, 'the LORD be with you!' And they answered 'The LORD bless you.' Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, 'Whose young woman is this?'" Ruth 2:4, 5
(E) Explain: Ruth was Moabite woman who was a widowed wife to one of the sons to her mother-in-law Naomi. Upon the death of her son Naomi urges Ruth to go back to her people and to her gods, but Ruth insists on staying with Naomi; she says, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” In this statement we see loyalty evidenced in Ruth. Naomi gives in and returns to Bethlehem with Ruth. Upon their arrival all of Naomi’s friends recognized her and she informed them her name is no longer Naomi it is Mara; because the Lord has dealt bitterly with her. Enter Boaz… One day Ruth informed Naomi that she was going to the field to glean after the reapers and the field she chose just happened to be a part of Boaz’s land. As we will see in tomorrow's reading that this story gets more involved and ultimately we will see a beautiful story emerge out of the ashes up to this point.
(A) Application: In this account we see God’s providence in in the life of Ruth. None of what happened in this story happened by accident. Every detail was orchestrated by God. In this we see that with all the tragedy and uncertainty in the lives of Naomi and Ruth, that God had a plan. The plan served his purpose because it was through Ruth’s offspring that the Messiah would come. Sometimes we may not understand why certain things happen or even how God could work in some circumstances but God loves to defy the odds. He is a God who delights in the underdog. He loves to make the impossible, possible and He does it all on His own terms.
(R) Respond: Lord, you make beauty from ashes. May I not allow my circumstances dictate my trust in you. You delight in the underdog, because you love to show that you are an able and capable God.
Scripture Read: Judges 15 - 16
Title: Samson, Delilah and his Death
(H) Highlight verse: "Then Samson called upon the LORD and said, 'O LORD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.''" Judges 16:28
(E) Explain: The story of Samson is a triumphantly tragic story. Samson was a called Judge for the nation of Israel, but his lusts always got the best of him. We read that he was a man with strong desires for sex and he was prideful. God chose him to be the one who would set Israel free from the bondage of the Philistines and as we read, He was definitely a thorn in their side. But Samson had a weakness for women, this is apparent throughout the story. He was married to one woman, had an encounter with a prostitute and fell in love with Delilah, who was a shady character at best. In his pride and arrogance he revealed the source of his strength to her and ultimately regretted this decision as he was taken as a prisoner of the Philistines. We do see a redeeming moment though when Samson calls upon the LORD for one last filling of the Spirit as he knocks down the pillars holding the roof to of the house they were in, resulting in his death and the death of many Philistines (the most he ever killed).
(A) Application: God uses all kinds of people to accomplish his will. In the case of Samson God uses an arrogant, sexually charged and a not very wise man to bring salvation to Israel. In this account, though, we see that Samson may have been a man appointed by God, but he did not truly represent God. He was sexually promiscuous and he thought that he had become untouchable because God had done amazing things in his life. However, this all caught up to him in the end. He allowed his lack of wisdom and his impetuous actions get the best of him and ultimately resulted in imprisonment and death. Sin always leads to imprisonment and death. Fortunately, his final act of of repentance led to the redemption of Israel. Repentance is a powerful thing that leads to redemption, so may we always remember this.
(R) Respond: Lord, I pray that I may remain humble and pure in my actions and words. I pray that I would seek your wisdom in all matters of my life. I also pray that I would not think too highly of myself lest I fall into temptation. But most of all, I pray your Spirit remain in me all the days of my life.
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