Union Congregational Church

P O Box 907
265 W. Britannia Street
Taunton, MA 02780-0907
Phone No. (508) 824-0656

Conservative Congregational Christian Conference

"Within this sanctuary old, Atop its Quiet hill,
God speaks, and you can hear God Say, 'Peace and joy be with you still'."

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We exist to welcome people in Taunton and its surrounding communities so that seeing our love for God they may seek to learn, grow and serve Jesus Christ here and throughout the world.

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“The Nobody, Nobody Wanted”

 

A Sermon Delivered at Union Congregational Church, Taunton, MA

 

By The Rev. Dr. Ernest L. Vermont

 

October 2, 2011

 

Text: I Samuel 16: 1-13

Key Thought: The out-working of God’s plans often have huge consequences!

 

Illustration:

In the frigid waters around Greenland are countless icebergs, some little and some gigantic. If you'd observe them carefully, you'd notice that sometimes the small ice floes move in one direction while their massive counterparts flow in another. The explanation is simple. Surface winds drive the little ones, whereas the huge masses of ice are carried along by deep ocean currents. When we face trials and tragedies, it's helpful to see our lives as being subject to two forces--surface winds and ocean currents. The winds represent everything changeable, unpredictable, and distressing. But operating simultaneously with these gusts and gales is another force that's even more powerful. It is the sure movement of God's wise and sovereign purposes, the deep flow of His unchanging love. (Source: Unknown).

·        Since Sept. 21st when my wife Audrey was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, our whole family has felt strong winds moving us in a direction we didn’t want to go.

·        We don’t know the outcome of her surgery now scheduled for Oct. 11th. Our biggest concern is: Have cancer cells moved into the lymph nodes?

·        I do have the feeling however that God is at work in a way that is much larger than we know now!

·        During the cancerous reign of King Saul, God was at work in the 12 tribes of Israel in ways known only to Him.

·        Even God’s prophet Samuel could not fathom what God was doing!

 

RECAP of the Historical Context:

 

·        The elders of the 12 tribes of Israel had an idea: “Let’s have a King!”

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”

·        Samuel the prophet hated the idea!

·        He went immediately to prayer and asked God about the idea. God told Samuel to “listen to the people in regard to all that they say to you…”

·        Israel: Jealous Over Other Nation’s Kings

1.      Israel wanted status like their neighbors.

2.      Israel stubbornly refused to heed Samuel’s warnings about what would happen to them if they had a king.

a.      A king as a human being would make mistakes and would commit them to actions that the people might not like.

b.      Most importantly, a human king would stray from consulting with God and walking in God’s ways!

3.      Israel insists she knows best & demands national control.

              

·        God’s real objection is recorded in Chapter 8:7b, “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them!”

1.      God is saying in effect: “I am not enough for them.”

·        God warned that if he appointed a king over them, they would suffer from the dealings of the king.

·        A king’s human sinfulness would eventually deface the relationship God had with Israel.

2.      Israel’s First King was a Disaster!  So God removed the kingdom from Saul.  Why??

·        Clearly there was more than one reason why so drastic an action was taken.

·        Because he was an arrogant, rebellious man, a dabbler in necromancy (speaking to the dead), and just plain disobedient to the commands of the Lord.

Quote: “…Saul was unfit for leadership of God's people. Placing military strategy, pride, and greed above public service and faithfulness to the LORD, Saul ignored his kingly duties of national security, moral leadership, and obedience to the LORD, investing the latter part of his reign in a paranoid hunt for his faithful army general David, whom he wrongly considered a rival. As a result of many acts of disobedience, the LORD removed Saul from power, and removed his heirs from the throne that should otherwise have been theirs.” (Source:  http://www.vtaide.com/gleanings/Kings-of-Israel/biography_Saul.html, accessed 9/28/11).

 

·        Saul’s whole dynasty would come to an awful end when he and his sons were all killed either in battle with him or subsequently murdered.

·        Did you know that God has regrets?

·        Not that God makes mistakes but rather He regretted that Saul used his free will to make the choices in life he did.

·        In fact, God regrets when WE make poor choices contrary to His will.

 

See I Samuel 15: 10-11,The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.

·        Why do you suppose Samuel was angry?

·        Because he warned the leaders of Israel that an earthly king was a BIG mistake. Samuel was very upset that the elders didn’t listen to him!

·        He too regretted this whole “king business.”

·        Many people might think King Saul’s life was a waste. And yet, without Saul there might never have been a David.

·        GOD ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!

 

Illustration:

In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world's hurting people. Writing home, he said, "I'm going to give my life to prepare for the mission field." When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God's plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. Daily Bread, December 31, 1988.

Regret is an appalling waste of energy. You can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.

 

·        God is concerned about how your life is playing out.

·        He wants to rescue you from your regrets of what might have been to what He wants now!
  

I. GOD SAYS- GET OVER IT, I HAVE A PLAN!  (v. 1), “The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."

 

A.     Many People Grieve Over Numerous Losses in Life

1.      Losses nag us sometime for a life time.

2.      Feelings of emptiness, purposelessness and despair result from many different circumstances & events.

3.      Waves of depression for some never subside.

4.      But with God’s help working through the faith community & with healing prayer, with skilled counseling and sometimes medication, people can begin to function again.

 

Quote: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in any given year, nearly 19 million American adults suffer from depressive disorders, with women suffering at almost twice the rate of men. These illnesses include major depressive disorder – often called clinical depression — dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder. Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

 

Does the name Terry Bradshaw mean anything to anybody?(Source- Terry Bradshaw’s winning drive against depression By John Morgan, Spotlight Health, with medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D. ).

 

 

He was the first quarterback in NFL history to win 4 Super Bowls. As quarterback for the Pittsburgh Stelers (1970-1983) the team won 8 AFC championships. He is currently a popular host/analyst on FOX Sports.

 

“I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1999,” says Bradshaw. “When you’re clinically depressed the serotonin in your brain is out of balance and probably always will be out of balance.

 

“I could not bounce back from my divorce – emotionally – I just could not bounce back,” Bradshaw says. “With any bad situations I’d experienced before – a bad game or my two previous divorces – I got over them. This time I just could not get out of the hole. The anxiety attacks were frequent and extensive. I had weight loss, which I’d never had before. I couldn’t stop crying. And if I wasn’t crying, I was angry, bitter, hateful and mean-spirited. I couldn’t sleep – couldn’t concentrate. It just got crazy.”

 

Clinical depression lasts longer than two weeks and is pervasive and all encompassing, typically preventing a person from doing his or her job or from enjoying formerly pleasurable activities.

 

B.     God Wants to Get Us Focused on Moving Forward

1.      Notice that it was God Himself who intervened in Samuel’s life.

2.      God gave Samuel some very concrete directions.

C.     God Had a Perfect Plan for Israel

1.      Despite the meltdown of King Saul, God had a far-reaching purpose in choosing another king.

2.      Through the anointing of the shepherd-boy David, a genealogical  line would be started in the little town of Bethlehem that would go all the way to the cradle of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

3.      The Old Testament prophecy would indeed come to pass:

See: Micah 5: 2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

 

II.     GOD’S PLANS ARE SPECIFIC BUT REQUIRE TRUST  (v. 2-3),  “And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.”

 

·        God was saying in effect, invite Jesse of Bethlehem and his family to a worship service where a sacrifice will be offered.

·        This trip & invitation were accomplished not with deception but openly albeit the ultimate purpose was kept secret.

·        Although the prophet Samuel knew God’s plans were perfect, the stakes were high. Samuel was definitely afraid of losing his life.

 

Illustration: The real secret of peace for us is TRUST.  Are you aware that Gen. Stonewall Jackson was a very godly man & a Presbyterian Deacon?

Perhaps an excerpt from a conversation between Capt. John D. Imboden and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson will illustrate this for us.  "General" the Captain remarked, "How is it that you can keep so cool and appear so utterly insensible to danger in such a storm of shell and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?"  General Jackson instantly became grave and reverential in his manner, and answered, in a low tone of great earnestness: "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed.  God has fixed the time for my death.  I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me."  He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: "That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave" (Source: Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, Vol. 1, p. 163).

A.     Samuel Had Some Legitimate Concern for His Safety

1.      Israel already had a king and his name was Saul!

2.      If Saul had discovered that Samuel was on his way to anoint another man King, don’t you think Saul would do something?

3.      Often when God asks us to trust Him, it costs us something!

a.       What if other people think I’m crazy?

b.      What if taking a stand for God costs me my job, my friends or even my life?

c.       Have you been following the case of this Iranian Pastor who has been sentenced to death for his faith in Jesus?

September 30, 2011 2:29 PM EDT The imminent execution of an Iranian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, for the crime of apostasy (converting from Islam to Christianity) has prompted the wave of outrage and concern around the globe: “The most recent court proceedings are not only a sham, but are contrary to Iranian law and international human rights standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.” Leonard Leo, chairman of the independent federal agency the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom,(Source:  http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/222940/20110930/iranian-pastor-nadarkhani-christian-execution-global-reaction.htm, accessed 9/30/11).

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(Photo: REUTERS / Francois Lenoir)
Foreign Secretary William Hague

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B.     God speaks directly to Samuel’s inner sense of well-being.

1.      God cares deeply about our fears. He knows them all!

2.      He knows us better than we know ourselves.

3.      Inner peace when all the world seems to be out of control is indeed very precious.

4.      God requires us to trust Him even when it does not seem prudent or reasonable.

Quote: “Our sense of well-being and our internal harmony and quiet are based upon our surrender to God and His Providence.  Now, this is not a detached, complacent approach to life, nor is it a lack of responsibility to give attention to the necessities of daily living.  It IS, on the other hand, a disciplined, conscious surrender to the unseen will of God, Who moves all things to His appointed ends.  Peace is living to God’s glory and good.  It comes as we shoulder the exigencies of life knowing that His graceful hand is the foundation for each day.  By living this way, we testify with our lives that we are NOT God and that we serve the God Who IS in control!”  Unknown

 

III.   GOD’S PERFECT PLANS ARE OFTEN REVEALED GRADUALLY  (v. 4-13),

 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, "Do you come peaceably?" 5 And he said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

 

A.     Our Natural Instinct is to Act on Our Own

1.      The elders of Bethlehem knew Samuel was an enemy of the current King.

2.      Understandably nervous they were bracing for trouble.

3.      Instead of trouble Samuel directed them to prepare themselves for holy worship. “Consecrate yourselves.”

4.      In order to determine God’s will Samuel knew that Jesse & his sons needed to be consecrated. What does that mean?

5.      Consecration defined: “Consecration is the act of setting oneself apart from the world to become dedicated as an instrument of righteousness for the purposes of God.”

Illustration:

At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy: "Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen."

 

B.     We Often Think We Have God Figured Out

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before him." 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on 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 on the heart."

 

1.      It is interesting to notice that even the prophet Samuel thought that he knew for sure what God’s will was! “Surely the Lord’s anointed (is here?)”

2.      Be wary of people & situations that too quickly seem to comprehend God’s will & ways. (There are many religious quacks!)

3.      The real lesson in this text is in verse seven:

a.       Human beings look on the surface appearances.

b.      God looks MUCH deeper!

4.      Each of seven sons passed before Samuel and God told him that He had chosen NONE OF THEM!

5.      God had a better idea:  11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep."

1.      In other words: David the shepherd boy is too insignificant to be chosen King.

2.      Even to his father David was a “nobody that nobody noticed.”

3.      Except God notices what others do not.

4.      God often chooses to work through people who are nobodies.

And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here." 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he." 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

 

Application: God’s plans are always perfect!

Hudson Taylor (the great missionary to China) had definite convictions about how God's work should be done. We can make our best plans and try to carry them out in our own strength. Or we can make careful plans and ask God to bless them. "Yet another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes." W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, p. 243.

 

 

 

 

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