From despondent hopelessness to confident trust (1)
God assures the victory
Ann Street, Lord’s Day 2 July 2006, 10.00am
Call to worship
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:3, 8)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Doxology: “All people that on earth do dwell” (Old 100th)
Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving Lord’s Prayer
Hymn No 17: “For the beauty of the earth” (77.77.77)
Prayer of Confession of sin
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)
Hymn No 483: “Behold the amazing gift” (C.M.)
Scripture Reading Colossians 2:6-15
Tithes, offering and dedication
Remaining seated, all sing Hymn 346 while the stewards wait upon the offering.
Hymn No 346: “We give Thee but Thine own” (St Giles)
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading 1Samuel 13:5-22
Sermon “From hopeless despondency to confident trust” (1)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, as theme for the moderatorial year I picked “Stand firm and steadfast – marching forward to victory under the banner of the cross.”
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to understand that she is under the command of her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We need to understand that to BE STRONG AND STEADFAST is not good advice to the church; it comes as a command from the Commander: the Lord of Hosts.
· The Presbyterian Church in Queensland (and Australia) has not kept up with population growth since 1977. In fact, it shows decline in comparison with the population growth.
· The median age of membership and eldership of the Presbyterian Church in Queensland continues to rise (the number of entries into Baptism registers are testimony to this fact).
· Gone are the golden days of the PFA, attracting many young people who forged very strong friendships in the Lord still binding them together as they worship in churches right across the State.
· It seems as if younger women do not find organisations like the PWA attractive; the result is an organisation, once a pillar for support to many a missionary, in decline.
· It seems as if less and less children are involved in Sunday School, Pathfinders or Explorers (or similar activities aimed at our children).
· More and more churches seem to struggle financially, up to the point where they might consider amalgamation with neighbouring churches.
· Presbyterian witness in the form of social activity is virtually non-existent. Gone are the days of Dr John Flynn and others who captured the minds of the nation with a vision of practical Christian love and compassion.
· Church-planting is not an activity high on the agenda of the Presbyterian Church; instead, smaller charges find it difficult to keep going.
· A sign of our times is a younger church generation finding time and money for anything else, but commitment to the work of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
· The absence of the so-called “brand loyalty” has its effect on the Presbyterian Church too. The average churchgoer is looking for “entertaining fellowship” before questions about purity in doctrine and worship are asked.
Let’s go to the text of 1 Samuel 13 this morning and make some comparisons between our situation and that of the Israelites in the time of the text.
The Philistines and a hopeless despondent people of the Lord
The Philistines play an important part in the history of Israel, not because it was an important nation, but because God used them to punish Israel for her disobedience. This happened over and over again.
We need to pick the story right in the beginning with the conquest of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua.
Joshua, under God’s instruction, divided the Promised Land into districts and assigned it to the different tribes. When it came to the part which had been inhabited by the Philistines, the tribe of Judah did not do as the Lord had commanded and promised Joshua.
The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots. (Judges 1:19)
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. (Deuteronomy 7:1-5)
When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. (Judges 1:28)
Hopeless and disobedient leadership
1Sam 13:15-22: Saul did not obey the command of Samuel to wait for seven days until he arrived to make the sacrifice to the Lord. It was a test to him to obey, even in the face of calamity. God would provide.
§ Samuel left Saul and the men without making a burnt offering, thus invoking the blessing of the Lord upon the army
§ The numbers of the soldiers with Saul dropped from 3,000 to six hundred – without any battle with the enemy
§ The enemy appears to be just as strong as before, and even more determined
§ Israel did not have the skill to make weapons to stand against the enemy; in fact, they had to look to the enemy for weapons of defense.
§ Israel could not defend itself due to a lack of weapons.
Israel allowed the enemy to absolutely control their lives. This was of course not because the Israelites did not have the resource material or the skill to make weapons or instruments to till their lands and gather their harvests with. God gave them everything. And on top of that He gave them the command to subdue the land and the enemy. But as we saw earlier, instead of subdue and destroying the enemy, they became dependent on the enemy.
Hymn No 533: “Much in sorrow” (184.108.40.206 – Harts [Hymn 11])
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)