As a reminder of the greatness of the God we serve, in his opening greeting Pastor Shannon made note that the God in whose name we have gathered is the one who flung the universe into existence ex nihilo, which is to say He created everything out of nothing.
Before being ushered into worship by the quartet, there were several announcements including:
1. Sunday School will commence on September 14. There is still a need for three teachers including upper elementary thru high school.
2. An Adventure Club planning meeting will be held this coming Wednesday at the church.
3. The August 31 worship service will be held on Grand Lake at the home of Walt & Gwen Cressman, 4815 Kroll Road.
Pastor Brad began the sermon today with a story about a woman who went ballistic when the car in front of her stopped at a traffic light rather than speed through the intersection on the yellow. Rolling down her window she began screaming obscenities and carrying on to such an extent that the man in the vehicle behind her walked up and had her arrested, bringing her to the station to be locked up. When the police apologetically released her two hours later, they said that with her car all covered with Praise the Lord bumper stickers and various Christian messages, the officer simply assumed by her behavior that the car had been stolen.
Whether true or simply designed to make a point while making us chuckle, the story illustrates the point that with or without bumper stickers, people know who we are and out behavior will be held to a higher standard because of it.
The real point Pastor Brad noted was that the woman’s impatience created a problem for her. And our impatience can likewise cause problems for us.
The series we are on is How to Love People. This week’s message is on patience. In I Corinthians 13, the Love chapter, Paul shows patience to be a pre-eminent virtue part of what it means to love. “Love is patient…”
There are two Greek words used for patience in the New Testament. The first is makrothumeo. If you break this word into its component parts, the word makro means long and thumeo is the word from which we derive the word thermometer. It conveys the notion of taking a long time to overheat.
The second NT word for patience is hupomone. Pastor Brad had intended to bring a backpack filled with rocks to illustrate this second word. Hupo means “to remain under” and mone conveys the notion of pressure, so that the two words mean “to remain under the pressure.” We patiently endure not for the sake of suffering for its own sake, but because it is the right thing to do.
And with these words in mind, Brad presented us with this definition of patience: “I take a long time to overheat, and endure patiently the unavoidable pressures of life.”
With these ideas in hand, we revisited the Old Testament story of David and Saul again. Saul started well, but when he deviated from God’s program, and persisted in this pattern of disobedience, God removed His anointing. (I Samuel 15)
In I Samuel 16 David is anointed for kingship, but it will be fourteen years before he becomes king. Why the wait? David had things to learn about thermometers and backpacks.
Saul had not ceased to be a free agent. He made choices, and was disobedient. But God nevertheless used Saul to accomplish His purposes in David.
Brad then told the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. In spite of hardships, including years of imprisonment in Egypt, Joseph remained virtuous and trusted God. As it turns out circumstances resulted in the Pharaoh putting him in charge of the whole of Egypt. What a shock for his brothers when they go to Egypt for food due to the draught in their own homeland. These very brothers, who had sold Joseph into slavery and had forgotten him long ago, perhaps even believing him dead, expected him to put them to death. But Joseph wisely recognized “what you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
God is working out His purposes. In our own lives today, the disobedience and failings of others can work for good in our lives.
Returning to the story of Saul and David, the king even stooped so low as to use his own daughter as a lure in a scheme to get David killed. (vs 20) and when this has the undesired effect, he attempts to pin David to a wall with his spear.
But the character of David is revealed over and over again through circumstances. In chapter 24, while hiding out in a cave near Adullam, Saul enters that cave “to relieve himself.” It is an opportunity for David to eliminate his adversary. Instead, David cuts off a piece of Saul’s robe.
Two chapters later, David is handed another opportunity to slay the king while he sleeps. Abishai, David’s right hand man, says, “Surely God has delivered your enemy into your hands. I’ll pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear.” But David takes offense at such actions saying, “Don’t destroy him. Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?... The Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.”
Instead, David removes the spear and water jug that had been near Saul’s head. From across the river he calls to Abner, head of the king’s guard, and notes that he has done this, demonstrating that he had the opportunity yet again to put to death the man who had been persistently pursuing him. Even Saul is moved by this, and the army retreats from the chase.
And so, in summing up, Pastor asks, “Who or what is your Saul right now? Who is it that is pushing your buttons, trying your patience, making things difficult for you?
Three points were made from these stories. First, the Lord may be using another person or circumstances to develop you for a higher level of leadership. In James 1:2-4 the writer states, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” ~ The Message
Second, God does not want us to do anything wrong to relieve the pressure… that is, to remove the backpack of rocks. If you have to lie or cheat, this is not pleasing to God. God is asking you to stay till its purposes are fulfilled.
Third and finally, we can take much longer time to overheat when we trust God. When we trust Him, it enables us to be more patient because we know God is working out His plan for us, in us and through us.