DISCOVERING OUR STRENGTH IN GOD
1 Samuel 16: 1-12; Luke 2: 41-52
What a week we had! What a week we had discovering our strength in God! From the very smallest to the very tallest; from the very youngest to the very oldest; from the very timid to the very bold, we learned that God can use all of us! God can use you, in the place you are today too! And we learned that sometimes the people we would select as a leader is not the one that God would select! Here are some of the qualities of God heroes.
Heroes, as we discovered, are ordinary people who do the right thing at the right times. And they are ones, when God asks, “Whom shall I Send?” who say: “Here I am, Lord!” For example, on Monday we looked in on an anointing ceremony in First Samuel 16! Often when people run for office, or people choose teams for dodge ball, or people try to choose special friend, their first choice might be the pretty one, or the handsome one, or the strong one, or the talented one. But if they want to choose the way God chooses, they have to see what those persons are like on the inside instead. Are they honest, or do they always blame other people or circumstances when they do something wrong? Are they helpful, thinking about others and not just about themselves? And are they open to being led by God? In the story of Cinderella, the prince was looking for the woman who won his heart at a ball. He sent footmen to bring the glass slipper that she accidentally left behind to try on the foot of every maiden in the kingdom. When they came to the house where Cinderella lived, her stepmother only introduced them to her own daughters, never imagining that the prince’s love could be for a woman in rags. But she was the one he loved. Likewise in First Samuel this Samuel first thought, as he looked at tall, rugged, Eliab: “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel “Do not look on his appearance or his height, because I have rejected him, … the Lord looks on the heart.” Jesse presented all his sons to Samuel, except one. Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” Jesse said, “Just the youngest is left, but he is out tending the sheep.” “Send for him” Samuel said. And when the young shepherd boy, named David, came in, the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him, for he is the one.” God had big plans for David, who was but a boy at the time. Boys and girls: God may be planning something amazing for your life if you listen to the messages you may get from dreams, from reading your Bibles, from teachers, parents, or grandparents! And adults: you still have the chance to live your life for the Lord! God used men like the Apostles and wonderful followers like Joanna, Mary Magdalene, and Abigail! And God even had fantastic plans for Abraham and Sarah in their old age! We also actually learned a good deal about Abigail this week! I had hardly heard of her until VBS; what a wonderful treasure trove we find in the Old Testament! In 1 Samuel 25, Abigail had a husband named Nabal. Do you know what his name means? Fool! The Bible even says his name meant “fool!” So the Bible highlights his wife Abigail instead. She was strong, according to verse 18; she was humble, and she accepted responsibility instead of blaming others according to verse 24. And she was courageous! Even David said to her, in verse 32 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Blessed for your good sense, and blessed be you who have kept me from avenging myself by my own hand!” Abigail, buried in the pages of Scripture, was one of God’s chosen ones!
How wonderful it was to learn the backstory about Bethlehem before Jesus made it famous! We learned how important Bethlehem was even before Jesus’ birth, because Jesse was from Bethlehem, and his son was David! As Jesus grows up, he and his parents, Mary And Joseph, went to Jerusalem for a festival called Passover. We learned that the Bible says almost nothing about Jesus as a boy, except when he was twelve. At that age, according to Luke 2, Jesus was with his parents and at some point he got separated from them. We learned that some boys and girls are smart at an early age; and some boys and girls love God from an early age. But Jesus was exceptional! While he was there, he began talking to the elders and scribes in the Temple, learning from them and teaching them! Imagine, a young person teaching grown ups! But it happens all the time! The adults, children, and youth all taught one another this week! We need one another!
Once Jesus grew up, he taught lots of people, especially around the Sea of Galilee. We learned of one time when he had such a crowd around him that he went up on a hillside to be able to see and talk to the crowd that had gathered. In our storytelling room, we had to tape a line on the carpet and tell the children not to cross it, otherwise they would have crowded onto my feet or into my lap! A little personal space is good when teaching. Jesus, we found out, had one of his most important teaching assignments, called the Beatitudes, and he wanted to share it without the distraction of a pushing crowd. He told them how they could be happy, or blessed. Most people like happiness, and most wonder what the secret is to feeling blessed. Jesus told them, and us, about it in Matthew 5! If you are poor in spirit, you will be part of God’s kingdom, not to worry! And if you are very sad about a death of someone special, God will comfort you. If you seek to do the right things instead of the wrong things, Jesus will guide you! If you are merciful, showing amazing grace instead of unwavering judgment, you too will be treated mercifully! And one teaching most important to the Bible School- those who are pure in heart get to see God! Wow! If you make peace instead of starting fights, God says, “You are my beloved child.” Goodness! Such wonderful words of life give Jesus followers hope!
Finally, we learned what power we can have when we ask for it. God’s Holy Spirit, one time on a day called Pentecost, gave the disciples power to hear and to understand one another! Then the Holy Spirit sent them out to lands where most had never gone before, to preach the gospel, and to baptize those ready to accept Jesus as Savior! They were thinking they might be baptizing twenty, or twenty-five. But wonder of wonders: they ended up baptizing three-thousand people!! Three thousand! Can you imagine! It was the start of the church as we know it! And we learned, God’s heroes have Heart! Courage! Wisdom! Hope! And Power! Let’s save the world, heroes, by introducing others to the words of Jesus by inviting them to our churches, and by being a good example! We have a world that needs change, the kind that God can give! Together, we can be his disciples! And Jesus is counting on us! As the words of Psalm 34 taught us all week:
“Do good! Seek peace! And go after it!”
Praise the Lord!
Jeffrey A. Sumner July 30, 2017