"Do not just hear the Word of God and think hearing is enough. DO what it says!" James 1:22

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lesson 19, Servants of God

1 Samuel 12-14

Our Wrap Up from Mrs. Gettelfinger...

Before our Wrap Up today, everyone received a Scripture verse about one of God's commands for us.  The students were asked to read their particular Scripture verse and then try to summarize the verse with one (or as few words as possible.)  Then we built a Jenga tower.  Each student had a block for the tower.  As they placed their block onto the tower, they gave the summary of their Scripture verse which gave God's instructions for our righteous living.  After the tower was built, the students gave Mrs. Gettelfinger examples of things we all do IN PLACE OF God's commands.  With each example, a Jenga block was removed from the tower.  As you can imagine, we had plenty of examples of how we remove God's commands from our lives and thus our tower (lives) tumble.

This week’s lesson begins with Samuel not only reaffirming his incredibly godly leadership but also testifying to the LORD’s consistent provision and protection.  It seems to me, Samuel’s feeling are hurt and he shares his broken heart with the people of Israel in the first few verses of chapter 12.  In verse 3, he basically says, “Have I done anything so terrible that you would think God is not my LORD?”  He goes on in verse 5 to say, “God knows how much I love Him AND how much I’ve loved you.”  In that same verse, the people even agree that Samuel is right.  They know God knows and they admit Samuel has been a great leader.  Then Samuel reminds them of all the good God has done for them.  He also reminds them in verse 11 of how even when the people turned away from God, “He delivered you from the hands of your enemy all around you, and you lived in safety.”  This wasn’t good enough for the people.  GOD wasn’t good enough for the people of Israel.  Samuel states in verses 12 and 13 “Even though the LORD was your King, because you have asked, the LORD has set a king over you.”

Sometimes God doesn’t give us what we pray for.  Perhaps it’s not the best thing for us.  Maybe it’s a good thing for us but not in His perfect timing.  And then sometimes He gives us exactly what we asked for –KNOWING it will harm us.  Why would God do such a thing?  Isaiah 48:17 “This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’”  The best part about this verse is “Redeemer” and the second best part about this verse is “who TEACHES us.”  Even when we pray for something that isn’t best for us, God TEACHES us.

The elders of Israel asked for a king back in chapter 8 when Samuel’s sons were appointed leaders over Israel.  That’s when God took the time to TEACH the people.  He said to Samuel in verse 9 “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” God teaches us through examples of others and warnings of what’s to come.  Exodus 19:21 “and the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.’”  2 Chronicles 19:10 “In every case that comes before you from your people who live in the cities—whether bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or regulations—you are to warn them not to sin against the LORD; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your people. Do this, and you will not sin.’”  And Psalm 81:8 “Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel!”  God TEACHES us through His warnings.

Asking for a king was the wrong thing for the people of Israel to do.  God, being the All Knowing and Sovereign LORD that He is, knew the people would ask for a king without recognizing His very Kingship.  God told His people in Genesis 49:10 of a king to come.  The timing and the WAY they asked for a king was also where the people failed God.  The timing was not God’s perfect timing.  And they really didn’t ask for a king… they demanded one.  We can not tell God what to do.  Hosea 14:9 “Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”  The Message Bible states this verse like this, “If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this.  If you know what’s good for you, you’ll learn this inside and out!  God’s ways get you where you want to go.  People who make good choices, walk easily.  People who make bad choices, always trip and stumble.”

We chose to build our Jenga tower with a foundation of God’s directions for our lives.  We demolished our tower by making choices many people make in life that are not good for us. Bad choices remove God’s blessings from our lives just like we removed the scripture pieces from our Jenga tower.   Life is full of choices.  Sometimes right choices mean waiting (just as Saul should have waited on Samuel to make the burnt offering before going into battle) on God’s perfect timing.  Sometimes wrong choices come with God’s warnings (just like God clearly warned the people of Israel how having an earthly king would impact their lives in a negative way.)  Here is what I’m going to ask you to do, will you… pray… then wait… watch for God’s warnings… and then follow His direction?  Even if that direction is just “BE STILL...” and wait.