Friday, July 01, 2016

Feared

My Life Group lesson for July 3, 2016, using Lifeway's "Explore the Bible" commentary as a guide ...

FIRST THOUGHTS

What are some of the most common phobias?

Check out this list and see how you compare:

Arachnophobia: The fear of spiders
Ophidiophobia: The fear of snakes
Acrophobia:The fear of heights
Pteromerhanophobia: The fear of flying
Mysophobia: The fear of germs or dirt
Astraphobia: The fear of thunder and lightning
Omphalophobia - Fear of navels (belly buttons)
Trypophobia - Fear of holes
Papaphobia - Fear of the pope
Somniphobia - Fear of falling asleep
Hylophobia - Fear of trees
Globophobia - Fear of balloons popping
Ergophobia - Fear of work
Chrometophobia - Fear of money
Triskaidekaphobia- fear of the number 13
Nomophobia - Fear of being without mobile phone coverage

The Oxford University Press cites more than 200 phobias.

Why are humans so fearful?

Today we’re going to examine the differences between fearing the Lord and fearing people or things.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

1 Samuel 12:1-25

*** Through their early history, God had always saved Israel from their troubles. But last week we talked about the people demanding a king like all of the other pagan nations, despite Samuel's warning that it wouldn't go as well as they hoped.

*** In chapter 12, Samuel inaugurates Saul as their king and gives his farewell address to the nation.

*** Samuel’s last words to the people touched on what was most important. Israel’s demand for a king other than God revealed that that they had lost sight of the greatness and power of God.

The prophet called on the nation to renew their covenant with God, in fear and reverence to God.

But now that they were a monarchy, God’s judgment would reference the ruling kings. All of Israel would be evaluated by whether the king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord (see 1 Kings 11:6; 15:26; 16:25; 2 Kings 8:18; 10:30).

THE COVENENT REVISITED (1 SAM. 12:12-15)

12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was coming against you, you said to me, ‘No, we must have a king rule over us’—even though the LORD your God is your king. 13 Now here is the king you’ve chosen, the one you requested. Look, this is the king the LORD has placed over you. 14 If you fear the LORD, worship and obey Him, and if you don’t rebel against the LORD’s command, then both you and the king who rules over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 However, if you disobey the LORD and rebel against His command, the LORD’s hand will be against you and against your ancestors.

*** We did the monster Nahash, it was a graveyard smash.

--- Israel went from having no central government to being a monarchy, mostly because the people were afraid of external threats such as Nahash the Ammonite.

--- The new king, Saul, was filled with the Spirit of God and routed Nahash.

*** The Lord's directives.

--- Though God had given the people the king they asked for, He did not walk away from them. He still had expectations.

--- They were to continue to fear the Lord, serve Him, and faithfully follow Him.

--- If they lived according to His standards, all would go well.

--- God still had a plan in spite of their rejection of Him.

--- God continued to relate to His people and they were to continue to relate to Him. Nothing had changed in what was expected of them. God was still their King, and His will was for Him to be their unfailing rule of life.

--- However, if the people and the king failed to meet those standards, the hand of God would be against them and their king.

*** It applies to us as well.

--- For the past 50 years America’s motto has been “If it feels good, do it.” We celebrate anti-authority figures and our culture celebrates abortion and gay marriage.

--- When we look around our society today, it doesn’t seem like there is much fear of the Lord.

--- Our fallen, sinful nature makes full obedience to God’s standards and His Law impossible, because no one is righteous (Rom. 3:10).

--- Therefore, it is impossible to be saved according to our own goodness, because we will always fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

--- The Bible tells us that genuine worship is like sweet incense to the Lord. So when you are sending up sin and negativity, how does that smell in heaven?

*** Fear and trust.

--- Fear played a big role in Israel's demand for a king.

--- But the people really needed to focus on "fear of the Lord."

--- "Fear of the Lord" was fundamental for blessings in Moses’ day (Deut. 6:2, 24; 10:12; 31:12, 13), in Joshua’s (Josh. 4:24; 24:14), and now in the new era of the monarchy.

--- “Fear of the Lord” means standing in awe of Him and giving Him the honor and obedience that is His due as God and gracious Father.

*** Question - How would you describe their relationship with God now that they had a king?

A SIGN DELIVERED (1 SAM. 12:16-18)

16 Now, therefore, present yourselves and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Isn’t the wheat harvest today? I will call on the LORD and He will send thunder and rain, so that you will know and see what a great evil you committed in the LORD’s sight by requesting a king for yourselves.” 18 Samuel called on the LORD, and on that day the LORD sent thunder and rain. As a result, all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

*** The thunder rolls, and the lightning strikes. (Another love grows cold, on a sleepless night.)

--- Samuel made his case against the people, and drives it home with a dramatic demonstration of God's power.

--- A thunderstorm would have been unexpected to the Israelites.

---Rain came to Israel in a predictable pattern. The rainy season in Israel began in late October and lasted until February. The wheat harvest probably took place in May and June, in Israel’s dry season.

--- Such a storm posed a threat to the yet-to-be harvested crops.

Proverbs 26:1 alludes to this: “Like snow in summer and rain at harvest, honor is inappropriate for a fool.”

If the fields were wet, it would be very difficult to cut, bind, carry, and thresh the heads of grain. Wet grain would be more likely to rot. And, of course, the crops could be badly damaged if the storms were severe.

Storms in May implied that the harvest would be ruined; by analogy, Israel’s request for a king would end badly. It could be an economic disaster. Samuel had warned the people that having a king would be economically ruinous for them. The king would seize their lands, their cattle, their servants, and even conscript their children (1 Sam. 8:11-18).

--- The storm demonstrated that God was ultimately in control of all things.

--- God could easily show them the power He holds in His hand, the destruction He could inflict on them and their property.

--- The sign works, and the people repent for their sins. They realized that they were dependent on the grace of God.

*** Question - Today, insurance companies still often use the phrase “acts of God” to describe catastrophic weather events. Why are people more likely to recognize God’s power after an unexpected weather occurrence?

GOD’S MERCY AND GRACE (1 SAM. 12:19-22)

19 They pleaded with Samuel, “Pray to the LORD your God for your servants, so we won’t die! For we have added to all our sins the evil of requesting a king for ourselves.” 20 Samuel replied, “Don’t be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don’t turn away from following the LORD. Instead, worship the LORD with all your heart. 21 Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you; they are worthless. 22 The LORD will not abandon His people, because of His great name and because He has determined to make you His own people.”

*** Johnny Football.

--- The father of NFL quarterback and notorious partier Johnny Manziel has given up on helping his son:

"He's a druggie. It's not a secret that he's a druggie. I don't know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn't seeked it yet. Hopefully he doesn't die before he comes to his senses. That's about all you can say. I don't know what else to say. I hate to say it but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. So we'll see."

*** Question - Do you sometimes get so frustrated at decisions a family member, friend, or church member has made that you cease to pray for them?

--- In God’s name, Samuel showed grace to the Israelites despite their sins.

--- Samuel vowed that he keep praying for Israel and would not give up on the people.

--- Samuel did not deny that what the people of Israel had done was wrong. But he knew that God was forgiving and could redeem even bad decisions.

--- Just as God tells us over and over to not be afraid in life, but be strong and courageous, Samuel tells the people the same.

--- Samuel knew our weaknesses. He knew we turn away when we get discouraged and feel guilty for our sins.

*** Israel’s responsibility.

--- It is noteworthy that they did not try to take back their request for a king. They knew that what was done could not be undone. They instead asked Samuel to intercede for them.

--- The people still had to live up to their covenant, and Samuel said the Israelites would need to do two things:

--- First, they should remain loyal to God. They should not turn away from following Him. They should resolve to continue to serve God and to do what is right even though their actions make them feel unworthy.

--- Second, they should shun all idols, the “worthless things” in verse 21. Ancient peoples turned to idols for health, for prosperity, and for protection from enemies. If the people would simply place their trust in God, He would continue to watch over them and sustain them, king or no king.

--- Asking for a king was a sin, but it was not a fatal sin. Worshiping an idol was a fatal sin.

--- Sin does not have to have the last word. The Lord will not forsake His people because of who He is.

*** Question - How would you describe the difference between godly fear and sinful fear?

REVIEW AND TAKE-AWAY POINTS

The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro begin August 5, but a lot of top athletes won't be there to represent their countries.

Many have already said they would stay home because of Zika, the virus spread by mosquitoes that has been linked to brain defects in newborn babies.

It's not just women, either. Men such as golfer Rory McIlroy have also pulled out.

If you had a chance to compete in this year's Olympics, would you go? How much concern would you have?

In today’s lesson the Israelites had ceased to have a healthy fear of God.

The Israelites made a bad decision that changed their nation forever.

But even very big, very bad decisions do not mean that our relationship with God is forever ruined.

God showed grace and mercy in the midst of the Israelites’ rebellion.

No matter what we have done, God’s marching orders for us remain unchanged: that we should believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God does not forsake His people, and Jesus said so in John 10:25-29 - 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

*** God’s love extends to us even after we have blown it big time. No matter how many times we fail God, we should never be afraid to run to Him.

*** While we will face consequences for the wrong choices we make, God still offers forgiveness and grace to those who turn back to Him.

*** He will not forsake us. Through His jealous love, God brings us to repentance, redemption, and restoration.

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