Hampton Park Baptist Church
875 State Park Rd
Greenville, SC 29609
Church (864) 232-5691
Fax (864) 235-5621
School (864) 233-0556
hpbc@hamptonpark.org

view map

 

Hampton Park Baptist Church Blog
Home :: HPBC Blog
HPBC Blog
The Delight and Danger of Worshiping Yahweh PDF

2 Samuel 6:1-11

The last time we were together we were in 2 Samuel 5 and looking at the present active God that David served which was so evident during his reign. That chapter gave an overview of God’s work during David’s reign. We spent one Sunday looking at the mighty presence of God, the stability and honor He conferred on David and his kingdom, the direction He gave David, and the victories that God gave to him. We also saw in the chapter David’s response to that kind of God. If we are serving the same God who is present and active it does us well to live our lives in a way that is consistent with that reality. There are lots of people playing church, worshiping a god that doesn’t exist. If we are worshiping the God who does exist, who is present and active, how should we respond? We noted that David knew that God was at work in his life and gave God credit. We often fail to give God credit. David obeyed God, but even David had to beware of ignoring God. We saw there was also a fatal flaw in his life with his marrying wives and concubines contrary to the Word of God and that he would pay the price down the line.

As we cross over into chapter 6, these truths come to bear on worship itself. Worship is important to us. We are having a worship service. This chapter is all about worship. We are not surprised it is a theme God would address in the life of David. If you had to pick one person in the Old Testament who would be your go-to person on what worship should look like, if you did not choose David it would be surprising. David wrote many psalms in the book of Psalms, the book of praise in the middle of our Bible. It covers every major doctrine, has a complete Christology, points us to Jesus, covers every kind of experience people go through and connects God to it. The Psalms is a textbook on worship and David wrote much of it. David is a man who loves and seeks God and is passionate about Him.

When we talk about worship sometimes it sounds boring, but that is only if you serve a boring God, and we don’t. If you are worshiping a present active God, worship is not boring. We were created to bring God glory-to love, serve and exult in Him forever. When we worship we find what we were created to do. When I am in tune with the Lord and He is evident in my life, I am the happiest man on the planet. When I know I am not right with him I am one of the most miserable men on the planet.

Worship is not just about Sunday morning, it is about all of life. Romans 12:1-2 says “present yourselves a living sacrifice, this is your reasonable, your spiritual worship.” That’s why you are not conformed to this world, why you are seeking after God’s will. Why would you want to seek the world when you have the God who holds your very life-breath?

The worship theme is really important and key to more than you may think. We often are distressed about the unrighteousness we see in our community or in the world. The reason people do unrighteous things is because they are ungodly first. Until I get my worship right, until my view of God is right and I am connected to Him and treating Him as God, there is no way I can live right. I can try hard, but if my relationship with God is not right, it will go nowhere. When I suppress the truth about God, it leads to unrighteousness.

Worship really is core to everything. This chapter deals with what is core to everything. If you are not familiar with the story it is not really what you expect to read, and if you are familiar with the story, you wish it were not here in some ways because it is unsettling.

Let’s read 2 Samuel 6:1-11:

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

This may be one of the most unsettling passages in the Word of God. You have the man after God’s own heart, you have sincere, zealous worship, and the worship service ends early with a dead body beside the ark of God. This is unsettling in today’s culture. Whether we are committed to tradition or trend, we tend to judge worship by whether we enjoyed it. Whatever we’ve decided to do, we just assume God is good with it. Can I make the point that in David’s day it was just as unsettling. David was angry with God. Have you ever been angry with God? It is at those times when God says: I am God, you are not, let me do what I do, and remember that you were made to serve Me, not vice versa. It takes a while to get over that and see what God is doing, and David did see.

One thing that is clear in this passage is that true worship of the real, living God involves not just exultant joy, but also reverent fear. Real worship involves both.

 

The Delight and Danger of Worshiping Yahweh

Worship of the true God combines both exultant joy and reverent fear.

  • Joyful Restoration (2 Samuel 6:1-5)
  • Deadly Violation (2 Samuel 6:6-9)
  • Divine Benediction (2 Samuel 6:10-11)

I. Joyful Restoration (2 Samuel 6:1-5)

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

In verses 1-5 we see joyful restoration. If you look at cross-reference passages you find that the ark of God had been in Abinadab’s house for 20 years, according to 1 Samuel 7:1-2.

While priests (at Nob) and prophets (Samuel—at Mizpeh, Gilgal) made sacrifices before the Lord, worshiping the LORD in the tabernacle, celebrating the Day of Atonement when the high priest went into the holy of holies, this appears to have been suspended all that time. In all the days of Saul the nation did not use the ark in worship (1 Chronicles 13:3). We are not really surprised since Saul was not a man after God’s heart. We do not see Saul passionate about anything except his own ego and his kingdom.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14: So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

We know the history of the battle, but we may have not thought about the fact that God used the Philistines to take Saul out since he broke faith with the Lord. With David on the run, priests slaughtered, and Samuel dead, the spiritual leadership of the nation had practically vanished. The ark of the covenant has something to do with the worship in that time. We want to talk about the significance of the ark:

Verse 2: “the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim.”

This ark of the covenant is a token of God’s presence with His people—housed in the Holy of Holies (holiest place); in it a bowl of manna—God’s provision; the tablets of the law—the 10 commandments—God’s authoritative revelation; Aaron’s rod that budded—the necessity of a divinely chosen mediator. The top surface was called the mercy seat—God’s throne a throne of mercy—where every year on the Day of Atonement the blood of unblemished sacrifice was sprinkled—between the outstretched wings of the cherubim (burning ones—high-ranking angels round God’s throne).

Bringing this most important piece of the tabernacle furniture to Jerusalem was an act to officially reestablish true religion in the country after decades of royal neglect. It was to underscore God’s presence, God’s provision, God’s Word, God’s mediator, God’s atoning mercy. No wonder there was celebration!  In America if there were 30,000 of the chosen men, surrounded by thousands of joyful citizens, establishing true worship, it would make headlines. Seeing God be real to people was exactly what was happening here. There would be tears of joy and shouts.

It was God-centered sincerity, zealous joy, high honor like the people had not seen for decades, led by the man after God’s own heart, anointed by Samuel, now finally crowned king. He is setting the record straight-God is first. The celebration was fitting for such a momentous occasion! We gather together on the first day of the week because Jesus conquered death. We celebrate because Jesus has won the victory. If you are not excited about this, what can you get excited about?

Dull, lifeless, bored worship is not fitting. God is not boring. His mighty acts are thrilling. The way He brings spiritual victories is worth shouting about. Awakening. Revival. Joy. Zeal. Clearly a God thing—a nation brought back from the brink of disaster.

Suddenly the thrilling exuberance turned to frozen terror. God manifested His power in a way they did not expect or desire.

 

II. Deadly Violation (2 Samuel 6:6-9)

And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”

It says the anger of the LORD was kindled against them. In response to the anger of the Lord we have the anger of David because of the LORD’s action—Perez-uzzah (last time David used this term was when the Lord broke out against David’s enemies, the Philistines.) This time it is against his friends. David was afraid of the LORD. And to be honest, we ourselves are stunned—just like everyone there would have been.

Uzzah’s action seems innocent enough. What’s going on? Why so severe a punishment against someone worshiping sincerely? Some history will help us see that this whole thing never should have happened.

Years before, the Israelites had taken the ark into battle against the Philistines as a sort of good-luck charm. They lost the battle. Hophni and Phineas, the wicked sons of the high priest Eli, were killed, and the ark was captured. Eli fell backwards when he heard that the Philistines had taken the ark, he fell backwards from where he was sitting, broke his neck and died. His daughter-in-law gave birth on that day and named her son Ichabod, which means the glory is departed .

The ark was placed in Dagon’s temple. The idol was on its face in the morning; next morning same thing, only head and hands cut off. The inhabitants of Ashdod broke out with tumors. They sent it to Gath—same thing; Ekron—same thing. They sent the ark back on an ox cart, along with golden castings of tumors to placate the God of the ark.

The ark arrived in a field in Beth-shemesh, where the inhabitants offered burnt offerings to Yahweh. But some of the men looked into the sacred ark and were struck dead for it -70 of them. They asked the question way back then: “Who is able to stand before the LORD, the holy God?”

They sent it to Kiriath-jearim. 1 Samuel 7:1-2: And the men of Kiriath-jearimm came and took up the ark of the LORD and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the LORD. From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

That’s where our story begins. If you know the history of the ark you know this is no pagan deity, no fabricated god. The God of the ark of the covenant is the living God. Yahweh of armies. Powerful. Self-existence. Connected to men purely out of His own initiative. Don’t try to use Him like a magic charm. You don’t mess with Him. He’s for real. He sets the terms of relationship. The ark underscores the whole reason we need a mediator—a mercy seat—is because there must be blood atonement for our sins or our own blood is due.

So what went wrong? Even though David was the man after God’s own heart, he did not seek the Lord’s command for how the ark was to be carried. It never would have tipped had David and his men not chosen the Philistine method of transport. It was not God’s way of doing it. The Philistines didn’t know any better. David should have. Moses was clear.

Three months later David himself acknowledged his error when he finally does get the ark.

1 Chronicles 15:1b-2: And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister to him forever.

1 Chronicles 15:12-15: [He] said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.

The problem with David’s worship was not the exuberance. We can be caught up in our worship and not really seek the Lord. So is this just the way God did things in the Old Testament (tower of Babel, plagues on Egypt, Nadab and Abihu, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar)? No, we have the same God in the New Testament.

Acts 5: Ananias and Sapphira struck dead for lying to Peter and the Holy Spirit about their offering.

Acts 13: Elymas the magician struck blind for interfering with gospel witness to the governor of the region

1 Corinthians 3:16-30: Whoever destroys the temple of God (God’s people collectively—the church) with divisive behavior, God will destroy.

1 Corinthians 11:21-22, 27-30: For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? . . . Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Hebrews 10:31: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 12:28-29: Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

You think maybe this is just God, not Jesus. No, Jesus is the judge. Jesus walks among His churches.

Revelation 2:4-5, 14-16, 22-23:

Church at Ephesus—recover your first love or I will remove your lampstand

Church at Pergamum—eating food sacrificed to idols, sexual immorality, false teaching—repent, or I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

Church at Thyatira—woman Jezebel claiming to be a prophetess, same sins—will throw her on a sick bed and strike her children dead; all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Matthew 7:21—preach, cast out demons, do miracles; “Depart from me! I never knew you—lawlessness.”

We think because God is merciful and gracious that He doesn’t know what is going on in our hearts, that He doesn’t know when we are doing something totally contrary to His Word. He has offered a way to deal with that, but until we get an understanding of how serious it is, we don’t understand why there has to be a blood sacrifice for that kind of sin.

Just because God has dealt with us in grace, just because we may be sincere and zealous in our worship, just because we have the components of biblical worship—despite all this delight in worshiping Yahweh—never forget the God we worship is for real. We are to worship Him only as He directs.

We do not worship in a tabernacle and use the ark. We have no ceremony per se since the gospel went to all ethnicities and the temple was destroyed. But we serve the same God.

A God who rules. The God who provides. The God whose Word is authoritative. The God who can be approached only through a Mediator. We are forgiven still only through the blood of the innocent one shed for the guilty. Would you want a god who thinks sin is no big deal? How would we approach a god like that? There is no other way except through Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. There is no other name under heaven through which we can be saved. Psalm 2. Isaiah 53. John 3:16. He gave up His own Son for our sins.

1 John 5:11-12: And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Any religion that leaves out Jesus is a fraud. It is a cultural experience, but we have to have Him or we cannot get close to God.

God holds us accountable: Don’t add to His Word. Don’t detract from it. Don’t use it to make new ways of coming to God, new ways of being sanctified. We must worship in Spirit and in truth.

Paul says to believers in Colossi: Forget the asceticism, the mysticism, the ceremonialism (Colossians 2). What does the New Testament say when it talks about worship? Pray. Preach. Give. Sing. These are New Testament commands. Yet how often they suffer neglect!

The New Testament says in love serve one another with the gifts the Spirit gives in the power the Lord supplies. Purge out the known sin. Don’t fake devotion. Don’t look down on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Restore the fallen. Outdo one another in showing honor. Associate with the lowly. Take care of the needy.

Isaiah 66:2: This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

I wonder sometimes whether we worship a paper deity. Are you the person who is humble and contrite and who trembles at God’s Word? God had not struck dead every violator on the spot, but passages like 2 Samuel 6 reveal He can do so and that He holds us accountable.

 

III. Divine Benediction (2 Samuel 6:10-11)

10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

We ignore His explicit commands at our peril. But God had not quit blessing His people, not even in this chapter. He is still the God of grace and glory.

Obed-edom is from Gath. He may even be a Gentile. It’s hard to tell for sure when you look at all the cross-references. He may be from a family in the tribe of the Levites. But he and all his household enjoy the Lord’s blessing while the ark remains at his home. You can be sure no one regarded it with flippant carelessness. They took it deadly serious—as well they should. It wasn’t just that the ark was there. The Lord, Yahweh was. It was a home filled with the presence of the Lord, and that made it a special place.

When you fear God—reverencing Him and His word as is appropriate—you have found the key to the life of blessing. Fearing God is the beginning of knowledge, of wisdom, of life to the full. True worship is fear and joy together.

Could you describe your way of worshiping God that way? Do you take worship seriously? Do you love God? Do you tremble, are you humble before Him? Would someone describe your household as full of the presence of the Lord? What would they say marks your home as a place where God dwells? If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit indwells you. What evidences can others detect that He is living in and through you? (Romans 12:1-2)

If you understand the cross, the perfect Son of God, the bleeding sacrifice dying there, there’s no way to think lightly of sin and there’s also no way to think that God doesn’t care to rescue you. The judge of all the earth will do right. He will send people to everlasting damnation because of their sin, but not before making it clear that there is a way. Jesus took this wrath on Himself. He took your sin and mine, and He paid for it completely with His own life, and He broke the power of that sin and death when He rose three days later. Even now He intercedes for those who are His. He is coming back to judge. He is the true God and there is delight in worshiping Him, but there is danger in ignoring Him. It’s more dangerous than being struck dead in a worship service. It is everlasting wrath of God. When you and I thumb our nose at the most powerful, loving, wise Person in the universe, we will pay the price, unless Jesus has paid it for us and we cling to Him as our substitute. That’s where the mercy seat is. That is where God rules. The delight and danger of worshiping Yahweh is joyful restoration. We pray for that among us. We must remember the God we serve does hold us accountable for deadly violations. If we will repent however there is divine benediction. May God help us engage in real worship of the real God.

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about people?

What does this passage teach us about worship?

Where does this passage fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

What are some faulty ways in which some believers approach worship, whether it be in their motivation or in their manner? Do you see yourself struggling in any of these ways?

How do you feel about the way that God dealt with Uzzah in this passage? What bothers us about it? What might this reveal about our hearts and minds?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

September 21, 2014

 
What Keeping the Faith Demands PDF

 

What Keeping the Faith Demands

2 Timothy 2:1-7

 

What I have discovered over the years is that if you are serious about serving Jesus, the war is on! It doesn’t matter where you live, for Satan is at work all over the globe. If you are a believer, Jesus says to you, “Take up your cross, deny yourself and follow me.”  If you are serious about serving Jesus, the war is on: the war of the flesh, the war with those that would oppose you who are human beings. Yet we also know that we spiritually “wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.”

I am not claiming to have suffered the way some have suffered for Jesus, but I have lived long enough now to know that if you are serious about serving Jesus, you will pay a price, but it is worth it. That’s all related to what Paul, who is about to be executed for the faith, passes on to Timothy, his son in the faith. We’ve been studying 2 Timothy along this theme, “Keep the Faith.” We have gone through the first chapter and have seen what a priceless treasure the faith is – faith being the body of truth that is the gospel, none of which you can ditch without ditching Jesus Himself and without losing the gospel itself.

This is the last letter Paul wrote. The times were dire. The Roman Empire has turned against Christianity for the first time in a wholesale way. Soon the giants of the faith like Paul and Peter are going to be gone, and those whom they have trained, like Timothy, are now going to be leading the flock and paying the price. This time it was not just in the teeth of religious people who didn’t want the gospel going to the Gentiles, but this time with Rome itself that dominated the entire world.

As we looked at the closing verses of chapter one, we saw Paul instruct Timothy on how to remain faithful in tough times. There was a common defection (2 Timothy 1:15). Those who associated with Paul from Asia had turned away from him, but there was significant exception to that in a man named Onesiphorus, who gave Paul courageous care (2 Timothy 2:16-17). He left his home in Ephesus, went to Rome and searched everywhere to find Paul. He was not ashamed to be identified even though he was a prisoner on death row. He nourished him, refreshed him and met his needs. Paul declared he would receive a divine reward (2 Timothy 2:16,18). Paul prayed for that, not only for Onesiphorus but for his family who also entered into the sacrifice that his ministry involved. 

Paul did not write this letter in chapters as you and I would do. The very next thing he says is what we look at tonight.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

When we did an overview of 2 Timothy we saw that the first chapter was “keep the faith because it is a priceless treasure." The second chapter is “keep the faith by passing it on."

What does keeping the faith demand?

You cannot keep the faith without the power graciously given to you by Jesus Christ. If you think you are going to win the battle, if you think you are going survive the battle, if you think you are going to win the war without that, you can forget it. This is not about human skill and effort. It is about Jesus Christ doing mighty things through you that you could never do apart from Him.

Second, you need the transfer of truth. This is not just about flying solo and making sure you stick by the stuff. This is about making sure you pass it on to others who will pass it on to others who will pass it on to others. Like Paul, your time to die will come. Then who will keep the faith?  Keeping the faith requires you to transfer the truth.

The third thing that keeping the faith demands is the endurance of suffering. Suffering will come. There are many times we want to quit, or we don’t even want to start. Keeping the faith requires that we suffer with endurance. We must be willing to load up with that and keep going on. All three of these are needed in our lives if we are going to keep the faith the way Paul is admonishing Timothy to do.

I. The Power of Grace (2 Timothy 2:1)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

When we speak of the power of grace we are no longer talking about the form of religion, we are talking what makes it valuable, what makes it worth having, and what makes it worth passing on. “You then” ties it in to what he has just been talking about — just as Onesiphorus proved unashamed of the gospel and of Paul, suffering as a prisoner for Christ’s sake—you don’t cave to the pressure, the temptation to be ashamed of the faith.

The might of all the Roman Empire has turned against Christians; Paul is soon to be beheaded; Timothy will face persecution (time in prison himself—Hebrews), along with having the battle the false teaching already so prevalent. He says to Timothy, “Refuse to let fear grip you, but guard the treasure of what Paul has given him with power, love, and self-control.” Don’t live life appetite driven. Don’t live life losing your head. Keep your focus. Keep your courage. Keep your goal in mind so that you can accomplish what you need to accomplish.

In our current environment it’s a little hard for us to imagine how that pressure feels, but if you’ve ever been ridiculed for Jesus’ sake; if you’ve ever been painted as a trouble maker, a liar, a fool; if you’ve ever suffered the gut-wrenching fear of seeing someone you love struck down with disease, sin, or death; or if you’ve ever felt the rancid hatred of the powers of darkness, you have some idea what Timothy and his generation were now facing. Believers face such hatred and danger this very hour in many places of the earth. A handful of Christian friends sustain them, like a little huddled flock of sheep surrounded by a pack of wolves. There are times when we go through experiences when we feel that way, too. It might be trouble in your marriage, trouble at work, or just suddenly feeling drained of any courage to do the right thing, but the war reaches beyond official persecution because we live in a world that is contrary to believer and we fight an enemy who is everywhere.

Keeping the faith, staying the course, courageously continuing on is a whole different proposition in such an environment than just making sure you show up at services and put money in the offering plate. Paul says to him, “Be strengthened”—keep on being empowered—supernatural power supplied by God. You and I continually need to be tapping into this kind of power or we won’t survive. How is this divine power accessed? “By the grace that is in Christ Jesus”—God’s undeserved favor manifested in the Messiah whose name is Yahweh Saves supplies the power to endure the suffering and to accomplish the task God gives us. I know how many times I wake up in the morning and think, “God, I can’t do this.” If you are normal, you may feel this way sometimes, too. I think God pushes us to the brink so that we know that if something is going to happen it is not going to be done by human strength and ingenuity but by the power of God available to us through the grace of God.

It is the grace that is in Christ Jesus that supplies the ability/power necessary for effective ministry—not mere giftedness, or intellect and education, or even hard work or determination. All of these must be brought to bear, but apart from God’s grace are not nearly enough to sustain us and make us fruitful. And none of them are the same as power given graciously by Christ Jesus to His instruments doing ministry in the lives of others.

This bedrock necessity is sometimes overlooked in all the efforts to prepare the next generation of shepherd teachers, evangelists, and missionaries for their God-appointed mission. It’s not something you can teach through a course of study. It does not come through a ten-step training session. It’s actually more taught than caught because it’s easier to talk about it than to demonstrate it.

I think that’s why Paul addresses Timothy here as “my child.” He has learned from close contact with Paul, like a son following his dad. He has been with him in the firefights. He has seen him full of the Spirit. He has watched him suffer bodily injury and belittling insults. He has been with him through storm and privation, dangers, and sleepless nights. He has watched people move from darkness to light by the power of Christ. He has seen them grow in grace under the faithful, careful, forceful teaching of the apostle. And he has received from Paul the life of Christ through the gospel. That’s what people need. In a community like ours, where there are lots of opportunities and places for advanced education, we sometimes trust our courses, our buildings, and our plans, thinking that will accomplish the mission because these are tools. Ultimately what shapes peoples’ lives is Jesus working through you.

II. The Transfer of Truth (2 Timothy 2:2)

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Paul is not giving him just a doctrines book. He is giving him a life! “And” marks what follows as tied to the earlier “You then.” Be strengthened . . . and entrust. The two go together. Many neglect this necessity for keeping the faith during times of peace. How easy it would be to shrink from it in times when passing on the faith to others through up close and personal discipleship could cost your freedom and your life! But the crisis nature of the times makes multiplying the messengers all the more an absolute necessity. Paul will soon be executed. Many Christians alive at the time Paul is writing will not die from natural causes. Nobody knows how long he actually has to finish the job. The fact is that none of us do. Ever. If we are not entrusting the testimony of Christ to faithful persons who can teach others, we are gambling away the future and letting our lives slip through our fingers for nothing.

What Timothy heard Paul preach throughout his ministry wherever he went was the gospel, not bound by time, geography, or culture; not silenced by threats or bodily abuse. It worked the same in Asia (Turkey), Macedonia and Achaia (Greece), Jerusalem, Caesarea, Malta, Italy, Rome and possibly Spain. Exposure to the faithfully preached Word generates recruits for the mission.

“Entrust”—reminds us of Paul’s earlier words to guard the good deposit, retain the pattern of sound words; and to deliver over for safe-keeping something of value. What kind of men are we looking for? “Faithful” believers who have proved reliable and trustworthy. They will not neglect, falsify, or distort the gospel in their teaching or their lives. Lack of integrity is often what destroys biblical ministry more even than lack of ability. False teachers are characterized by false living.

“Able to teach others”—literally, means they are strong to teach others; teaching is their strength. They have the ability and willingness to do so. They are competent and qualified. There are good men who are not strong at teaching others and do not show evidence that they ever really will be.

Those who are the teachers and leaders in a church are to identify those who are both faithful and able to teach. The next generation is dependent on faithful teaching of God’s Word.

God does not assign all of us in the church to pastor the flock, but He has given the gospel to every believer to pass on to others who will pass it on. Part of what pastors do is equipping the members of the body to do just that.

If you were suddenly taken from the scene, who are the persons you have invested in who would carry on the gospel witness in your community and your world?

High schoolers, who among you are walking and talking the good news of Jesus Christ with a credible testimony? What the names of those you are encouraging to walk with the Lord? Who will say someday that you were the one who showed them Christ, who got them into the Word, who gave them an example to follow in living the Christian life? You know how to talk about grades, sports, entertainment, and a thousand others things but do you know how to talk about Jesus?

You who are the older generation, how about replacing every time you talk about “this younger generation” with spending time with someone from the rising generation to pray with them, pray for them, and show them by your life what it means to love Jesus and to walk in the Spirit?

You who are in the prime of life, carrying the heavy weight of family and demanding jobs, how can you bring all you do in line with the real reason you exist on the planet? How many believers squander their entire life getting ready to do something for Jesus, being too busy to do something for Jesus, and then being too old to have energy to do something for Jesus? Every phase of life has its opportunities. Keep the faith by living it out and passing it on to others at every phase of life.

III. The Endurance of Suffering (2 Timothy 2:3)

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

“Share in the suffering”—suffer ill/evil/injury together (that is with other fellow soldiers in this mission) like comrades in the battle. You are not in it for your own cause; you are in it for King Jesus.

“As a good soldier of Christ Jesus”— be loyal, brave, sturdy, self-sacrificing—not for his own sake or his own chosen cause, but for the Messiah Savior.

Keeping the faith isn’t for pansies. All that want to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer. Satan will see to that. Our humanity makes us subject to pain. Our world is not a friend of grace.

Why endure bad things with fellow soldiers in the battle? There are three metaphors that tell us why: soldier, athlete, and farmer. All work hard. All suffer multiple difficulties and strain. Why do they do it?

The Soldier: His aim is to please the one who enlisted him. That is why he does not get tangled up in civilian matters. He gives up what others may pursue because he pursues something more important to him. He doesn’t want to get sidetracked or soft. He is a soldier of Jesus.

In this case the pleasure of Christ Himself. His approval. His reward. His well-done. The inheritance He offers. Infinite. Eternal. Priceless. Flawless.

2 Cor. 5:9:

“Whether we are at home or away (home in the body or away; away from the body or at home with the Lord), we make it our aim to please Him.”

The Athlete suffers the restrictions of the rules of the game, along with the grueling training and agonizing competition. Why? Not because he likes playing games but to win the Winner’s Crown. Many cheat to appear successful, but since God is judge and it is God we serve, short-cuts to so-called ministry success are traps for fools.

The Farmer is a hard worker who labors to the point of exhaustion. If you’ve ever spent any time among farmers, you know they work from before dawn to dusk and not uncommonly into the night. There is dirt, sweat, heavy lifting, uncomfortable conditions. He deals with drought and floods, disease, animals, insects. Why does he labor so? To enjoy the harvest.

The Master’s Pleasure. (Whom are you trying to please?)

The Winner’s Crown. (If you can’t possibly win by cheating, are you going to be a loser?)

The Good Harvest. (What kind of harvest are you working to produce?)

These make suffering worth it. So Paul says to us:

7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Timothy could reflect on the fruitfulness of Paul’s difficult life and see the connection. He can imagine the reward that waits for the veteran missionary. He is already learning these truths by experience himself and would continue to do so. The Lord will see to that. He’s the best Teacher of all. The Lord is teaching us, too. Let’s go for it!

What Keeping the Faith Demands

  • The Power of Grace (1)
  • The Transfer of Truth (2)
  • The Endurance of Suffering (3-7)

LifeGroup Questions

 

Teaching

  • What does this passage teach us about God?
  • What does this passage teach us about people?
  • What does this passage teach us about suffering?
  • Where does it fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

  • What are some evidences that one is keeping the faith in the power of Christ's grace? What are some evidences that one is attempting to keep the faith in their own power?
  • If you were suddenly taken from the scene, who are the persons you have invested in who would carry on the gospel witness in your community and the world? Other than perhaps a family member, can we name one? Compare that with how many people you have invested in to convince them of some political position or personal standard of conduct. What does that reveal?
  • In using the illustrations of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer, what is Paul trying to teach us about the motivations and manner involved in keeping the faith?

Correction

  • How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?
  • After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

  • How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?
  • What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

  • For what from these texts can we rejoice?
  • For what from these texts can we repent?
  • For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC 

September 21, 2014

 

 
Remaining Faithful in Tough Times PDF

 

2 Timothy 1:15-18

When Jesus Christ called the apostle Paul to follow him there on the road to Damascus and sent him to the house of Ananias, He told Ananias that He was going to show Paul how much he would have to suffer for His name sake. When we come to 2 Timothy, we reach the end of that journey. Paul has suffered much over the years and had been perhaps the most effective advocate for the Lord Jesus Christ that ever lived, but he bore in his body the marks of having done so. Even at this last hour he was chained in a dungeon awaiting execution. He had traveled much of the known world at that time, and he had given Christ people from every ethnicity. Yet know he is pretty much alone at the end, and he is ready to be offered. He might well have sat back and asked himself it were worth it.

It is tough to hang in there when times are tough. The apostle Paul did so, and there are others who have remained true in the face of trial. The Roman Empire had turned its might against Christianity. Much of the early years it had actually protected Christianity against those who would persecute it, but now there was wholesale persecution Empire wide. Paul is about to leave the scene. Peter and the other apostles will be passing on, and it will be up to the second generation to remain true. The question was whether Christianity would survive at all for those who name the Name of Christ.

In 2 Timothy 1:13-14, we looked at the Sacred Trust that Timothy had been handed to remain true to Christ and to follow the pattern of sound words he had heard from Paul and the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. He was to hold fast to this outline given by God, given by Paul to Him – a pattern to be traced, sound, healthful words of faith and love that expresses active love for others.

Get a Grip (v 13): Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Follow—hold fast; pattern—traceable outline; sound—healthful

What kind of pattern are you providing for others around you?

Or do you block their view of Jesus?

Faith grounds us in the truths God has revealed to us in His Word.

Love expresses active concern for the well-being of others.

Be On Guard (v 14):By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Fulfilling our sacred trust is more than just getting our creed right and opposing those who get it wrong.

It is making the gospel truths part of who we are by the power of the Spirit and guarding against straying from them so that our lives fulfill the big why.

In verse 15 Paul moves on to talk about those who did not fulfill that trust. Sometimes what helps spur us on to faithfulness is the example of those who haven’t been.

15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Remaining Faithful in Tough Times

  • Common Defection
  • Courageous Care
  • Divine Reward

 I. Common Defection (2 Timothy 1:15)

15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.

The way Paul phrases this verse points to a specific event. Timothy is well aware of what he’s talking about, but we are not. It may have been the arrest that sent him in shackles to Rome. We just don’t know for sure.

In the middle of some crisis, some trial when Paul apparently would have valued most highly the steadfast love of other believers, he was personally abandoned. What made such defection worse is Paul’s unswerving commitment to the gospel of Christ. To turn away from him raised questions about their loyalty to the gospel he preached.

Asia is not the continent of Asia, but the province of Asia, now Turkey. Ephesus was its gateway city because of the all the trade routes that came together there. In fact, Paul had evangelized Asia by teaching in Ephesus 3 ½ years. You recall from 1 Timothy that Timothy is overseeing the church of Ephesus.

Had all in Asia turned away? Not in the absolute sense. Timothy has not. Onesiphorus has not. But at the time of the crisis event, all or the vast majority of those present with him left him high and dry. By implication—proved ashamed of the gospel.

Paul names two individuals: Phygelus and Hermogenes. Again we don’t know for sure why he names them. They may have been the ringleaders of the defection. Or their defection may have especially hurt Paul because he had thought they would be the last to prove unfaithful. But by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the only reference to them in the Bible marks them as unfaithful in tough times.

Some realities this verse reveals:

  1. Even among those taught by an apostle of the stature of Paul, defection from the faith can be the common trend. The crowd is often fickle—and wrong.
  2. Times of crisis often reveal who is willing to bear the reproach of Christ and who is not.
  3. When we turn away, we wound our brothers and sisters in Christ—especially those who have invested heavily in our lives.
  4. It is hard if not impossible to separate faithfulness to the gospel and loyal love for the brothers (cf. 1 John).

II. Courageous Care (2 Timothy 1:16-17, 18b)

16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18b and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Here we have a shining exception to the common unfaithfulness. Onesiphorus is a believer who has proved he “was not ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of Paul the Lord’s prisoner, but who shared in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (v. 8). He engaged in courageous care of the persecuted apostle. Like a cooling breeze, he refreshed Paul’s soul. There are people like that, you know. Some twist your stomach in knots. These restore your soul like the Lord, the Good Shepherd, does His sheep as He leads them beside still waters and green grass.

Think about our own setting and our own kind of opportunities. It is often our own lack of courage that keeps us from ministering to others as we ought to. We are afraid of the cost. We are afraid of the commitment and the complications it would bring to our lives, so we keep our distance. We shrink back from where the needs really are. We are an affluent society and are used to a certain quality of life – “soft things.” Opportunities to serve sometimes call us to give up our comforts, but God has a way of disrupting that and calling us to sacrifice for the sake of the ones we love and for the sake of the Lord that we serve.

Onesiphorus made the extra effort of leaving his home and family in Ephesus to travel land and sea to Rome. He made an extensive search to locate where Paul was imprisoned. Having found him, Onesiphorus was not ashamed to be identified with Paul, bound with a chain as if a criminal.

This was a great expense of time and money. Great cost to his family. Great effort. Danger. Identification with a believer suffering persecution. Like Christ who humbled himself in station and through suffering for the will of God, Onesiphorus risked his own life out of love for God and love for Paul. Unforgettable. Forever enshrined in God’s record book.

When it comes down to it, serving Jesus where the need is great will cost you everything. At least, you will have to risk everything to do it. Are you willing to make that kind of commitment to courageous care?

What effort and expense are you willing to give for the sake of others because of your commitment to Christ?

How determined are you to keep pressing till you meet whatever the need is?

In what ways are you showing that you are glad to be identified with those who are suffering for Christ? When the tough times come, do you hang close or run?

It can be hard for us to find a connection between the kind of situation Onesiphorus responded to and the less traumatic nature of our own lives, but the connection is there more than we might think. Half the church in the world suffers official persecution of some sort. What are we doing to support them in their trials?

This behavior was not out of the ordinary for Onesiphorus. He had already proven himself to be this kind of faithful servant of the Lord and His people in his home city of Ephesus long before. His extraordinary effort to minister to Paul in Rome grew out of his ordinary pattern of living in Ephesus.

Closer to home, there is no shortage of suffering people in our own community and in our own church. What are you and I doing to minister to them in their need?

Beyond the severe trials of suffering, there are countless practical needs that Christian truly loyal to Christ should be quick to address. Some are simple things, but not necessarily easy: childcare, medical bills, visits to those who are ill or shut-in, home repairs for a widow, meals for bereaved or for a new mother, helping a child with his hardest subject—math, English, science; teaching someone how to read; praying with a hurting brother or sister in Christ; reading the Bible with a seeker or a new believer; accountability partnerships; opening our home with glad hospitality; providing transportation for a college student who wants to get here on a Sunday night for choir or for the service.

 

III. Divine Reward (2 Timothy 1:16a, 18a)

16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus,

The household of Onesiphorus bore the impact of his being away so long. This household would include not only family but anyone on the household staff. Serving the Lord is not a solo operation. It touches everyone close to you. Paul is well aware of that reality, and so is God! So Paul prays that the Lord will grant them mercy—compassion and kindness to the suffering; the Old Testament word mercy means steadfast love rooted in relationship and active in kindness

This is helpful for us as we weigh our response to need. One of the challenges of serving the Lord is knowing it will place on your household. Our families pay the price with us—and godly believers aware of that reality make petition for us that the Lord will show His compassionate care for them as they carry the load. It is a prayer for God’s mercy in the here and now, not just the future.

Paul also looks to the future realities:

18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!

This prayer is focused on Onesiphorus personally and it asks for more than God’s compassion through the earthly trials. It looks forward to the final day.

Our lives rush toward an appointment with God that we cannot avoid—to find mercy in that day is more important than any temporal relief. To gain the whole world and lose your soul is a horrible tragedy.

The danger, toil, expense Onesiphorus has committed to ministering to Paul for the Lord’s sake will absolutely not be forgotten. It’s not that Onesiphorus has somehow earned his salvation by his efforts. Rather, he has demonstrated the he is truly saved, empowered by the Spirit by his action. Sometimes we feel our labors are in vain—but our feelings are wrong. Even a cup of cold water given in Christ’s name will surely have its reward. God is not unrighteous to forget our labors of love.

Think of it—to receive from the Lord’s hand compassionate mercy and steadfast love on the day of judgment! “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!”

Eternal joy, acceptance, peace—finally home safe forever!

What fools those who turned away in the tough times will seem then!

In what ways are you spending your hours and days here on earth with a view toward eternity?

What are you giving yourself to that will still matter a thousand years from now, a billion years from now?

What makes Onesiphorus so valuable and such a blessing is that he is so much like Jesus. Jesus shows us what faithful love in the tough times looks like. He did not abandon us—even though we deserved death for our sins—but gave Himself up for us all.

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

September 14, 2014

 
Present Active God Part Two PDF

Present Active God, Part Two

2 Samuel 5:6-25

As we track through the life of David, we see a Present Active God at work in his life, and we are encouraged that this God also works in lives like our own. The first part of 2 Samuel 5 is an overview of David’s reign as king of Israel. Rather than following his reign chronologically, it features certain examples of God’s action that He took on behalf of David and the people he ruled. He demonstrated Himself in David’s reign, as he does throughout history, to be that present active God. It is the way we need to look at human history, church history, our own church, and our own family, ourselves, as those who have been richly blessed by God in the midst of often very trying circumstances.

The secret to life is to look for what God is doing. When you think about it, that’s what makes the gospel good news. The joy we get out of the gospel is that it points us not to how we can win God’s favor by our own efforts but what God has done to rescue us. It is what God has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised to do that we find our joy.

In our earlier studies we looked at God’s Gracious Action toward His People. Today we look at A Believer’s Trusting Response to His God.

I. God’s Gracious Action toward His People

God’s Mighty Presence (10)

10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

Stability and Honor (12)

12 And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

Direction (19, 23)

19 . . . And the Lord said to David [also v. 23], “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.”

Psalm 1: “…the man who delights in the law of the LORD is like a flourishing tree by rivers of water.”

Joshua 1: “…the courageous leader whose mouth, mind, and will are full of God’s book is the leader who succeeds and prospers”

The Word of God is the key to everything. It is religion revealed by God not created/imagined by man. Life by the Book is a slogan, but it is not a new concept. It is Christianity. You leave the Book, and you leave the faith. You have nothing to build on. Through the Bible we have direction from the Lord. Think of the privilege of having this much direction from Almighty God. He has given to us everything that pertains that pertains to life and godliness. The Scriptures are sufficient to guide and direct us.

Then God gave David victory as well:

Victory (19, 20, 23)

19 Gave the enemy into David’s hands

20 Broke through the enemy like a flood

24 Went out before David and his troops to strike down the enemy

The wonderful reality is that Bible history is full of such accounts, and church history is, too. And God didn’t stop doing things for His people when the Bible was finished because church history is full of these examples as well. If you think about it, so his your history and mine. It’s the good news that God is present, and God takes action on behalf of His people. It is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, God the Son, Savior-King for all who trust in Him. This is our hope.

Over the course of our lifetimes we sing hundreds, thousands of songs of praise to God for being present and active for us. We will rejoice with the apostle Paul in Romans 8: If God be for us, who can be against us!

It’s one thing to affirm these realities in a worship service. It’s another to let these truths drive the cadence of your daily life. How can we live out these truths? What kind of behavior is consistent with such a God?

II. A Believer’s Trusting Response to His God

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 19 And Davidinquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” 20 And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. 21 And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away. 22 And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 23 And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. 24 And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 25 And David did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.

A Believer’s Trusting Response to His God

  • Be Aware of God.
  • Ask Counsel from God.
  • Praise God.
  • Obey God.
  • Beware Ignoring God.

Be Aware of God.

12 And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

This seems simple enough, but how many professing believers leave God confined to the pages of the Bible, the walls of a sanctuary, the moments of a sermon, a congregational song, a public prayer?

Open your eyes to what God is doing in your life. Do you see His hand? Are you convinced He’s with you here and now—and each day?

What if you sat down and wrote out what the present active God has been doing in your life lately. What if you listed the ways He has directed you, protected you, and rescued you through the years of your life? Even a bullet point list. Are you paying attention?

In Jesus’ ministry, I wonder how many people passed him by with no clue that God just walked by them. I wonder if we aren’t the same.

What are you struggling with?

What are your successes and blessings?

What is God doing in your life?

Be aware of it.

Ask Counsel from God.

19 And Davidinquired of the Lord, (again in v. 23) “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?”

The first time God says go. The second time, God says no. Go around to the back and wait for My signal. Not every battle should be fought the same way. You have to stick close to Him wherever He leads. Don’t assume. Ask. It’s way too easy for me just to assume I’m doing what God wants me to do. The same goes for church families. We’re the good guys, right? So whatever we’re doing to serve God—or not doing—must be okay. That’s a huge assumption. History declares otherwise. How many people, churches, denominations, institutions have lost their way, lost their health, lost their vision, lost their mission, lost their existence—because they just assumed they were in God’s will. At some point, they stopped asking Him what to do. They stopped searching His Word for direction. They stopped praying. They stopped being sensitive to whatever His will was for them that day.

James 4:13-16:

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

These evil shows up in the lives of even very religious people who think of themselves as the standard-bearers of truth and righteousness: think of the kinds of religious leaders Jesus faced during His earthly ministry. He came unto his own and his own received him not. They were children of the devil, but they thought they were champions for God.

Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Praise God (give Him His rightful credit).

20 And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim.

If you know you serve the present active God, then thankful praise ought to be a regular feature of your daily conversation.

Perhaps you find it awkward to interject praise to God into your interaction with others. But what about your own thought patterns? What if through the day you made a point of praising God every time you were aware of a reason to do so? What if during those conversations with other believers about spiritual things you encouraged them (and yourself) with what God deserves praise for in your life?

If we would start focusing on all the reasons we have to praise God, we might find ourselves far less depressed, grumpy, and unattractive. How much more productive would we be? The joy of the Lord is your strength. How much more effective at commending the gospel of Christ to others? A happy, grateful, joyful person is attractive to be around.

Obey God.

25 And David did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.

How many people say they want to know God’s will for their life fail or refuse to obey what He’s already revealed?

It’s amazing how much time we can spend arguing over the debatable things, or fretting over what we want to know but that remains a mystery, all the while bypassing clear commands.

Go for what you know! Why should God reveal more to you if you aren’t willing to follow what He’s already revealed? Stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do tomorrow, next month, next year. What does God want you to do today, now?

Why call him, “Lord, Lord,” and then do not do the things He says?

The gospel privilege of serving the present, active God is to live life according to His direction and leading. “Make disciples”; “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” “I am with you all the days!”                               

Beware Ignoring God.

13 And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. 14 And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.

The only section with no direct reference to the LORD (except in the names).

Deuteronomy 17:15, 17 You may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you (note 2 Samuel 5:1-2 Behold, we are your bone and flesh . . . . . The LORD said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel.”) . . . . And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away.

The list of David’s children extends well beyond this initial phase of his reign. Note the names Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. These are children of David and Bathsheba, reminding us of David’s sin of adultery and murder.

For whatever reason David ignored God’s written command regarding taking multiple wives. Prevailing custom of the day for kings. Customary sins make it hard for us to see what is right to do. Plowed the ground for coveting his neighbor’s wife, taking her for himself, and arranging her husband’s murder. These sins came a great price—severe pain to David, his family, and his nation.

When you choose to ignore God’s commands, you never know how far doing so will take you or how much it will cost you. Sin always takes you further than you want to go and cost you more than you want to pay.

But there is hope here. Even in our forgetfulness, God is present and God is active. David’s sons Nathan and Solomon remind us of God’s grace to David after he repented of his sin.

Solomon’s name means peace and was so named because of the comfort he was to Bathsheba after her first child by David died. His nickname was Jedidiah—loved of the LORD—because the LORD loved him. The legal line of the Messiah comes through Solomon (Joseph—Matthew 1:16). The biological line of the Messiah comes, however, through Nathan (Mary—Luke 3:31), to avoid the curse on Solomon’s descendant King Jeconiah, none of whose offspring Jeremiah declared would sit on the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:30).

Jesus is the only one in human history who could fulfill the prophetic promises regarding Messiah’s lineage. The name Jesus means “Yahweh saves.” Jesus was so named because God sent Him to “save His people from their sins.” Even sins of adultery, murder, and ignoring God Himself.

John 6:28-29: “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

We need a Savior precisely because we do not respond to God as we should. He is present. He is active. He is mighty to save sinners.

Conclusion

A Believer’s Trusting Response to His God

  • Be Aware of God.
  • Ask Counsel from God.
  • Praise God.
  • Obey God.
  • Beware Ignoring God.

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about people?

Where does this passage fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

By God's grace, which of the five trusting responses to God (be aware of God, ask counsel of God, praise God, obey God, and beware ignoring God) are a strength in your walk with the Lord? Which are weaknesses?

In what ways are you confining God to the pages of the Bible, the walls of a sanctuary, the moments of a sermon, a congregational song, or a public prayer and not opening your eyes to see what God is doing in your life right now?

If someone were to ask you to list what the present active God is doing in your life right now, how would you respond?

What is more typical when you are faced with difficult decisions, finding yourself leaning upon your own wisdom or seeking God's counsel?

What holds us back from taking every possible opportunity to praise God for all that He is doing around us and in our lives? Which of these obstacles do you find most prevalent in your life?

What are some areas right now where you know that you are not obeying what the Lord has clearly revealed in His Word?

Are there areas in your life in which you are, very simply, ignoring God? What are some common ways that believers do this on a regular basis?

David would have had several good-sounding cultural reasons to ignore God's will on multiplying wives. What are some good-sounding reasons that many believers use to ignore God's clearly revealed will?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

September 14, 2014

 
«StartPrev12345678910NextEnd»

Page 1 of 44