Sermons by Murray Lean (Page 18)
National leadership dramas are nothing new! We’ve had our share here in Australia in recent years. As doubts about King Saul started to increase, the young shepherd-warrior David was attracting more and more attention. But did he have what it would take to lead a nation? Despite of his father’s jealousy of David, Jonathan saw a man to whom he wanted to pledge his absolute loyalty. David did not turn out to be the ideal king Israel was looking for, but 1000 years later a descendant of David did come who was the perfect King – Jesus Christ. He still reigns over His kingdom. Have you recognised Him? Why not pledge your loyalty to Him today?
Churches are vulnerable to rogue ideas and deceptive teachers. They need good leadership. They need sound teaching. Tonight’s passage stresses the importance of two vital aspects of this teaching …… firstly, what God expects of us in terms of Christian behaviour, and secondly, how God’s grace is the key to true and lasting change and growth in our lives. Not only are we saved by grace. We are also changed by grace. It is only with God’s help that we can really say “No” to ungodliness and “Yes” to godliness. When we really understand this enabling grace, then it not only makes the Christian life possible. It makes it necessary!
What makes a good leader? And how do we choose them? These questions are as relevant today as they were 3000 years ago in the nation of Israel. Saul had proven to be an abject failure and God decided it was time to start again and choose a new king. 1 Samuel 16 gives a fascinating account of how God used the prophet Samuel to anoint a shepherd boy as the future king, and how He empowered him for the task ahead. Despite all the question marks over young David, God saw his heart. Outward impressions are often premature, but godly character …. that’s different. I wonder what God sees when He looks into our hearts?
The topic of “worship” is bound to cause some debate in many Christian circles. And it’s true that over the past 50 years many different “styles” of worship have emerged. So which is the right way to worship God? King Saul’s view was typical of many people today, but God was not impressed. In God’s words: “To obey is better than sacrifice”. In today’s message Pastor Murray explains how easily we can mistake our own selfish (and sinful) ideas of how to please God with the true worship that God desires. And it has less to do with church services and music than we often think!
King Saul was physically impressive but what does God think of him? That’s the question facing us in today’s passage. The Philistines amassed a huge army and Saul was confronted with a massive problem. His military resources were minuscule by comparison. What would he do? How would he respond? And most importantly, where would God figure in this response? In actual fact, this was a critical test for Saul, and sadly, he failed miserably. He took matters into his own hands rather than wait for God and obey Him. God is still looking for people today who will trust and obey Him. When our test comes will He find us faithful?
When will Jesus return? What will it be like in the end times? How should we prepare for life in those days? How we would like to know the answers to these questions! In Daniel chapters 10-12 God gives Daniel an awesome vision of life in the future, initially encompassing the next 400 years, but then projecting forward to the end of time when a climactic battle will take place. In the lead up to this battle Christians will experience great suffering. But the forces of Satan (under a particularly evil king) will be finally and comprehensively defeated (probably in Israel). On that day all God’s people will enter eternal life, while those who don’t belong to Him will be eternally rejected. Are you ready for that day? Does your life show it?
The question of who you can trust to lead you is just as important today as it was 1000 years BC. Somehow, the Israelites thought that a human king would do a better job as their king than God. History would show how disastrous that idea was, but that’s another story! God did allow them to have a king, but in the process of establishing this new kingdom we learn a lot about God’s idea of leadership. True leaders never have absolute authority. They serve under God and assist Him in leading people and nations. That goes for the President of America and any other human leader. Sadly, all human leaders have their weaknesses and fail at certain points. Only one leader can be trusted to lead us perfectly and that is Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Is He your king? If not, why not give your life to Him today and let Him rule over you. His kingdom lasts forever.
Who doesn’t know the feeling of wishing they could undo some aspect of the past and start all over again! We all know the shame (and perhaps embarrassment) of these passages of life. In today’s message we see how the Israelites made a fresh start with God. For more than 20 years they had treated God with disrespect. They had given in to the temptations and worshipped the idols of the Canaanites, but this way of life only led to misery …. and they knew why. Under their godly leader Samuel, the people repented and turned back to the Lord, and what a difference that made! Is it time for you to do the same?
How do you view God? It is virtually impossible to describe Him in a short, simple sentence. And most definitions are hopelessly inadequate. However, in 1 Samuel 5-6 we see the way God dealt with the Philistine and israelite people through their involvement with the ark of the covenant, and through these interactions we see things about God that are very sobering …… His absolute authority, His terrifying power, and His awe-some holiness. Yes, God does want us to have a deeply personal relationship with Him, but we must never become casual or overly familiar with Him. He is GOD in the fullest sense and always deserves our worship, awe and fear.
It’s common to find people who view God as a kind of last resort ….. “when all else fails, try God”. Since the beginning of time people have tried to manipulate God and harness His power, especially in those times when He’s our only hope. The Israelites were in big trouble in their battle against the Philistines and they tried to “use” God in this way but it failed miserably. I wonder how many of us have been guilty of doing the same thing?