Sunday – February 23, 2014 Judges 13:1-25 “Samson’s Silver Spoon”

Sunday – February 23, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Judges 13 verses 1 to 25 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – February 23, 2014 Download / Print

 Judges 13:3-6
Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

When it comes to biblical characters who seem larger than life, Sampson breaks the mold. The introduction of Samson in fact requires all of Judges 13. This introduction is the most lengthy and detailed introduction of any of Israel’s judges. More attention is devoted to Samson, the last judge of the Book of Judges, than to any other judge in this book. Our job as students of the Scripture is to discover why the author felt this lengthy introduction was necessary.

The story of Samson is a beautiful example of how God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility inter-mesh. There are many who feel it necessary to embrace one or the other – God’s sovereignty or human responsibility – but not both. But our text demonstrates both principles at work at the same time. Samson is a man who must, and does, make choices. These choices are almost always sinful and self-serving. And yet God purposed and promised that Samson would begin to deliver Israel from bondage to the Philistines. And that is exactly what God did, through a disobedient and pleasure-seeking Samson.

Do not think that God’s sovereignty removes all freedom of choice from men, or accountability for those choices. God’s sovereignty is so complete that He can give men freedom and yet still be in complete control of His world. We who are parents know (or will soon learn) that it is impossible for us to have complete and total control of our children. When we seek to exercise control, we do so by limiting our children’s freedoms. We confine them to their rooms and take away their car keys, cell phones, and computers. But even then we are not in complete control. God is able to give men the freedom to make choices and yet still be in control, so that we are assured that His purposes will be realized. That is illustrated by God’s use of Samson, even though he is sinfully self-indulgent.

If Judges 13 gets our hopes up about Samson and what will happen in his life, Chapters 14-16 will bring us down to reality. But the good news for those who place their hope and faith in Jesus Christ find out it is even better than they might have imagined. Jesus will never disappoint us nor will He will never fail. His deliverance is truly “wonderful,” and it lasts forever. I pray that you have already placed your trust in Him.

Sunday – February 16, 2014 Judges 10:1 – 12:15 “Jephthah: I Said What?”

Sunday – February 16, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Judges 10 to 12 “Jephthah: I Said What?” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – February 16, 2014 Download / Print

 Judges 10:17-18
Then the sons of Ammon were summoned and they camped in Gilead. And the sons of Israel gathered together and camped in Mizpah. The people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

We love our heroes. We want someone to be bigger than life and be immune from the shortcomings of society to somehow save the day. The medium or source does not matter. Whether people come from television or sports or  from politics and religion, we naturally seek to put individuals on pedestals and view them through rose-colored glasses, looking past their flaws and over exaggerating their strengths. We are distracted by their physical strength, or the style with which they carry themselves. Maybe they have faults, but we will not dig deep enough to find out because at the end of the day, we want a champion, a true deliverer.

There is only one True Deliverer, only One who is worthy of our worship and praise. If we are looking for heroes in the Book of Judges, we are destined for disappointment. The more closely we look at Israel’s judges, the more obvious their flaws become. Frankly, almost all of Israel’s judges who are described in any detail are jerks. They have weaknesses and besetting sins. We should learn from Scripture that all leaders – every one of them – have flaws. If we look long and hard enough, we will see them.

We can not idolize men for we will surely be disappointed. But we can be encouraged as we see the kind of instruments God uses to achieve His purposes. He uses homemade swords wielded by left-handed men, tent pegs, ox goads, and mill stones. He uses plain and ordinary people like Jael and the woman with the mill stone. When God uses the simple and even foolish things to achieve His purposes, then it is only He who should receive the glory. Let us be encouraged by the kinds of people God uses to achieve His purposes.

God saves those who are unworthy of salvation, not because of men’s works but solely because of God’s mercy and grace. Are you not amazed to find men like Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, and women like Rahab in the “hall of faith” of Hebrews 11? It is not the greatness of our deeds, but the gracious work of God in the person of Jesus Christ, that saves unworthy sinners. Jesus bore the penalty for our sins on the cross of Calvary. He offers the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life to all who place their trust in Christ Jesus and His work on their behalf. He is the Hero! He is the only Deliverer who can deliver condemned sinners from the penalty of death. Have you acknowledged your sin and placed your trust in Him alone for your salvation? If not, I plead with you to do so for your eternal well being.

Sunday – February 9, 2014 Judges 9:22-49 “Payday is Someday”

Sunday – February 9, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship
Judges 9 verses 22 to 49 “Payday is Someday” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – February 9, 2014 Download / Print

Judges 9:56-57
Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. Also God returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came upon them.”

I love precision, not because I am precise in everything that I do, but because I get great pleasure watching others do their tasks with such skill and accuracy. It is one of the reasons why I love watching the Olympics so much. But it is more than sports; it might be the gardener who knows exactly what to look for to fix my sprinklers or the doctors who treated me in the hospital last year. They waste little time and material, and they make their work look so easy.

The Book of Judges illustrates the precision with which our God goes about His work in this world. The obstacles and difficulties are many but God is at work through different kinds of men and women, few of whom are godly, or even wise. The goal of God’s work is the preservation of His people, the fulfillment of His covenant promises, and the punishment of those who have played a part in the slaughter of the 70 sons of Jerub-Baal (Gideon). And the punishment must be meted out in such a way as to destroy the guilty, and yet secure the safety of those who were not involved in the evil committed against the sons of Gideon. The skill and efficiency of God are entirely consistent with His character, but it is still a wonder to behold.

Our text is an excellent demonstration of the fact that God is not only able to execute justice in such a way that the wicked get exactly what they deserve, He is also able to judge in such a way as to protect those who are innocent. Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem perish for their treachery in the murder of Gideon’s sons who were Abimelech’s rivals. Gaal, his relatives, and the people of Thebez were spared because they had no part in this evil. I take great encouragement when I realize that God’s timing and His work of deliverance and destruction are always done with great precision. There are no accidents in what God brings to pass, His ways are perfect.

When I read the newspaper or watch the news on television, the world appears to be in chaos. Do not despair, as though no one is in control. The Scriptures teach us to view the chaos of our world differently than we often do, as the unseen hand of God, bringing about the fulfillment of His plans and purposes. Our passage wonderfully demonstrates the awesome truth of the sovereignty of God. God is in complete control of everything that happens so He can fulfill the curse of Jotham in such a precise way. So do not fear, there is no question that God’s plans and purposes will come to pass as He providentially and more visibly governs the affairs of men.

Sunday – February 2, 2014 Judges 8:33 – 9:21 “When Government is God’s Judgment”

Sunday – February 2, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Judges 8 verses 33 to 9 verse 21 “When Government is God’s Judgment” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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Judges 8:33-35
Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel.”

Before we are told of the evils of Abimelech and of leaders of Shechem, we first are told of the evils of the Israelites, evils which were the reason for God’s judgment upon the nation. This is a judgment that came from within, rather than from without. It was Gideon who created the ephod which the Israelites worshipped. But as bad as this worship of the ephod was during Gideon’s lifetime, we see things went from bad to worse when Gideon died.

But upon Gideon’s death, the Israelites plunged “full speed ahead” into their idolatry. We are told that “they made Baal-Berith their god.” We are very familiar with the term Baal, but the expression “Baal-Berith” is new to us. In the Hebrew text, the term “Berith” means “covenant,” and so the Israelites made “Baal-Berith” their god. Or perhaps we should say the Israelites entered into a “new covenant” – not the Mosaic Covenant, and most certainly not the “New Covenant” of the New Testament – but a covenant with Baal as their new god. The Israelites are not worshipping the God of Israel and also some Canaanite god; they are worshipping a Canaanite god as their only god. They have rejected their covenant with God and have entered into a new covenant with a heathen god, exactly what God had warned them not to do.

Many Christians today, including me, bemoan the fact that our government has become more and more corrupt, so that people of both political parties have become cynical about the motives and actions of politicians. Can anyone deny the decline in morality and justice in government which has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent days? Homosexuality is not merely tolerated by our highest officials; it is praised as something good. Abortions – most of which are really murder – are accepted, praised, encouraged and all too often financed by our government. Our passage in Judges declares to us that our government, corrupt as it is, is precisely what we deserve. God has given the people of our country what many have wanted, as well as what we deserve.

How tragic it is to see that the people of Shechem put their faith in the wrong person. First they trusted in Abimelech, and soon they will trust in Gaal. There is only One who can deliver Israel and us today, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is worthy of our trust and of our praise and looking elsewhere for deliverance will only lead to our destruction. May we pay attention to what is happening in our lifetime and turn to the Lord Jesus.

Sunday – January 26, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- The Hope of Heaven”

January 26, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change Week 5: The Hope of Heaven from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 26, 2014 Download / Print

 2 Corinthians 5:1-3
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.”

Our culture is fascinated with near death experiences and what happens on the other side of life. Searching through under the subject of near death will bring up over 102,300 titles currently for sale. I wish I could say it is the fascination of unbelievers, but Christian culture is no different with over 150 titles available on on the same subject! Why have we been caught up with other people’s non-authoritative view of death and what comes next to the exclusion of what God has already revealed to us through His Word?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of death and dying, not in the sense of martyrdom, but in the sense of the normal aging and dying process of life. Those of us with a number of years behind us (and often with gray hair – or none – to prove it) can readily agree with Paul when he speaks of the gradual, but steady, decline of the physical body. The minute we are born we are on a path that will inevitably lead to our death. For some, it simply comes sooner than for others. But in spite of our “dying by degrees” in the normal aging process, Christians also experience life. As the outer man continues to perish, the inner man is being renewed (given life) day by day. This is not spoken of as maintaining a certain level of spirituality, but of actually growing and increasing in our walk with God.

Actually, the dying process of the body is a welcome thing because we will exchange these mortal bodies for new spiritual bodies which are vastly superior. Our present bodies are a tent while our permanent spiritual bodies are described as a temple. To be at home in this physical body is to be absent from the Lord; to be absent from this physical body is to be at home with the Lord. And so it is that just as Paul did not fear the death by martyrdom or old age, death produces life for the Christian. And thus death is not to be fearfully avoided by living in the safe zone; we can live dangerously for Christ, knowing that death brings life for us when we die, whether as martyrs or due to old age.

The book stores are filled with books telling us heaven is about being with friends and loved ones, rather than on our being with God. Believing husbands will see their believing wives in heaven, but they will not relate to them in marriage as they have done on earth. Heaven is spending eternity in heaven in the presence of God; hell is spending eternity apart from God. That is the main thing. Do not be misled. The fact that others we have loved on earth will be there is “icing on the cake,” but it is not the essence of what heaven is about.