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“The Challenging Lesson of Faith”

II Samuel 6:1-23


  1. One of the greatest books I have ever read is entitled, “”Live and Learn and Pass it On.”

Ø  You would probably think that a preacher’s favorite book is some thick, deep theological work that debates the nature of God.

Ø  But I’m a pretty simple guy, and maybe that’s why H. Jackson Brown’s little book grabbed my affection.

[          On his 51st birthday Mr. Brown thought he would sit down and write some lessons he had learned in a half century of life.

[          He had a friend who learned about this little exercise, so he added a few lessons of his own, and then they got the idea of allowing others to share their lessons to the project.

[          Before long thousands of submissions were received from all over the world, from people aged 5 to 95, and Mr. Brown put some of these into a little volume called, “Live and Learn and Pass it On.”

Ø  Some of the lessons are very practical that we have all learned.

[          A 39 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that if I eat donuts today I wear them tomorrow.”

[          A 27 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that I should never praise my mother’s cooking while eating something fixed by my wife.”

Ø  Some of the lessons are funny, particularly by children

[          A 7 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that you can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.”

[          A 9 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that if you laugh and drink soda pop at the same time that the soda pop will come out your nose.”

[          An 8 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that the tooth fairy doesn’t always come.  Sometimes he’s broke.”

Ø  And then sometimes the lessons are very serious.

[          A 49 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that you can do something in an instant that will give you a heartache for life.”

[          A 54 year old wrote, “I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.”

  1. When Bob asked to preach this weekend he explained you were in a series on the heart of David, and my text was II Samuel 6.

Ø  So I read through it a few times and quickly realized that this chapter of the Bible highlights one of the strongest and most challenging lessons I have ever learned about being a Christian.

[          I became a Christian when I was 16 years old and today I am 45, so that means I’ve been a follower of God now for almost three decades.

[          In that time I have learned all kinds of things about being a Christian, but the one I share with you today may be the most practical, down-to-earth, but challenging lesson I have ever learned.

Ø  Let me summarize the story of II Samuel 6 then we’ll look at some specific verses later.

[          The story in this chapter centers around the ark of God, which was basically a chest that contained the two stone tablets of God’s law, or the Ten Commandments.

[          The ark then came to be understood as the very Presence of God, so when David became king of Israel he wanted the ark of God to be placed in the capital city of Jerusalem.

[          II Samuel 6 is the story of how David moved this ark to its resting place in Jerusalem.

[          Now here’s how we will use the story.  In the course of moving this ark there are two hard-core truths that surface which every person of God will someday experience in their life, and those two truths lead to this challenging lesson I’m talking about.  Let’s start with these two truths.


Two Truths

1.    Here’s truth #1 à God will not always make sense to you.

Ø  Let’s see how that came about in this story.

[          The ark was constructed in a way that two long poles were attached to it in order to be carried.

[          Four men would hold each of the ends of the poles so that no one actually touched the ark of God.

[          Because the ark of God symbolized the actual presence of God, touching it was completely out of the question.

Ø  Now in this setting they had picked up the ark of God with the poles and placed it on a cart that was pulled by oxen.

[          Watch what happened in verses 6 & 7; “Now when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.  The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.”

[          I’m just going to be honest with you here.  That doesn’t calculate with me.  If I’m David I say to God, “Lord, he was just trying to keep it from falling to the ground.  It wasn’t his fault the oxen stumbled.”

[          And it seems David kind of felt a little of that.  The very next sentence in verse 8 says this, “Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah.”

[          And then verse 9 says, “David was afraid of the ark.”

Ø  I think what we’re seeing in David is what a lot of us sometimes think but probably don’t voice.

[          Sometimes God does things that just don’t make a lot of sense.

[          If we were in charge we would probably do it differently.

[          Remember that verse from Isaiah 55:8; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

  1. Have you ever been in a setting where someone did something that just didn’t make any sense to you?

Ø  I heard about a kindergarten class taking a tour of the police station.

[          The sergeant was showing the kids a wall with the pictures of the city’s most wanted criminals.

[          A little boy asked who these people were and he answered, “These are very bad people that we are trying to find so we can put them in jail.”

[          The little boy scratched his head and said, “Why didn’t you keep them when you took their picture?”

Ø  A couple elderly ladies were driving down the highway at a very slow speed.

[          The officer pulled them over and said, “Ladies, driving very slow is just as dangerous as driving very fast.”

[          The driver scratched her head and said, “But officer, I was going exactly what the sign said, 17 miles an hour.”

[          The officer smiled and said, “Ma’am that wasn’t the speed limit sign, that was the route number.  You’re on route 17.”

[          The elderly lady in the passenger seat looked a little rattled and said, “Oh my, we just got off route 124.”

Ø  It’s one thing when other people don’t make sense, it’s another realm when God doesn’t make sense.

[          Maybe a prayer you have said for years has never been answered.  Someone you love very much died.  You lost your job.

[          You open up your Bible and read things like tithe your income and forgive people when they hurt you and be in church regularly.

[          The longer you are a Christian the more you are going to be put in settings where God doesn’t seem to make much practical sense to you.  That’s a truth that will never change.

  1. Okay, let’s move to truth #2 à Not all people will support your life of faith.

Ø  Let’s go back to the story and see this truth.

[          After the tragedy with Uzzah they just took a three-month break in transferring the ark to Jerusalem.

[          But eventually the move resumed, and when they finally arrived in Jerusalem there was a great celebration of worship, complete with dancing and singing.  The ark was home, and everyone was electric, none more so than David.

[          But look at verse 16, “As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window.  And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord she despised him in her heart.”

Ø  There are a couple things that are important to note here.

[          First of all, Michal was the daughter of Saul, who was David’s enemy and predecessor as king.  Undoubtedly Michal resented the fact that David enjoyed this celebration instead of her father.

[          But secondly, and listen to this.  Michal was David’s wife.

Ø  Now that brings us to a critical truth that Christians need to understand.

[          As you live a life of faith there will be people around you who oppose you, they do not support your values or your lifestyle.

[          Maybe people at work are on opposite sides of the page from you, perhaps it seems you are the only Christian at school, even in your own home there may be someone who stands against your choice to be a follower of God.

Ø  One of the most troubling verses in the whole New Testament is Matthew 10:36.  Jesus is speaking and says, “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own family.”

[          Now obviously Jesus is not saying his goal is to divide families.

[          But here is what he was saying.  “If you choose to walk with me in your life, don’t be surprised when others aren’t happy about that, and maybe people you love the most.

4.    One of my greatest fans as a preacher is my dad, but it’s not always been that way.

Ø  I was raised in a good American home, but it was not a Christian home.  So when I gave my life to Christ not everyone understood that, particularly my dad.

Ø  Dad was an electrician at a government hospital and that always interested me.

[          So my plans were to be in that type of a field.  I settled for electrical engineering and enrolled at Southern Illinois University.

[          I had my freshman classes picked out, assigned to a dorm room, was getting a little money on an athletic scholarship.

[          But just a few weeks before school started I changed my mind and felt God calling me to be a preacher.

[          That was 27 years ago now and I can still picture sitting on that porch swing and telling my dad I wanted to go to Lincoln Christian College and be a preacher.  My dad stood up and said, “Don’t expect a dime from me.”

[          He eventually came around and as I said is one of my greatest supporters today, but God taught me early on that some times the road of Christian faith is very lonely.

Ø  Okay, here is what we’ve said so far – two hard-core truths you can go to the bank on.

[          God will not always make sense to you.

[          Not all people will support your life of faith.

[          Now we’re ready for the key lesson these two roads point toward.


One Lesson

1.    Let me put it up on the screen and then I will define it a little – genuine devotion to God is unconditional.

Ø  This is where the heart of David really comes out in this story.

[          Try to put his shoes on for a minute.

[          It’s been an incredible journey getting this ark to the capital city.

[          Along the way David has lost what was probably a good friend when Uzzah died.

[          Then at the end of the journey, the person who should have been by his side the most, his own wife, opposes him.

Ø  I don’t know about you, but if I’m David I am discouraged, probably angry, and ready to throw in the towel.

[          But look at what David said to his wife in verses 21 and 22; “I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this.”

[          David was saying his faith was unconditional.  Even if God did things he didn’t understand, and even if people refused to support his beliefs, he was going to cut loose in worshipping God with all his might.

2.    After twenty-five years of working with Christian people I can tell you we are a fickle group.

Ø  It’s usually easy to live for God as long as all the conditions are met.

[          I get the nice house and the fancy car and the good job.

[          My family is healthy and I’m surrounded by friends who all love me.

Ø  But the minute that perfect picture begins to crumble the temptation arises to back away from God, to give up on the church, to soften our values.

[          Jesse Scott was one of the hardest men I’ve ever met.  He used to attend the first church I preached in.  He hadn’t been to church for a couple years when I arrived on the scene so I called on him and asked him to come back.  He said, “I’ll never step foot in that place again.  For twenty years I fried bacon at the Easter sunrise breakfast, and then all of a sudden they put me on making toast.”

[          It’s usually not as petty as Jesse Scott, but it’s the same mentality.  As long as the conditions are met I’m faithful.

[          But one of the greatest lessons you’ll learn is that genuine faith has no strings attached to it.  We stand with God even when we don’t understand Him, even if no one around us supports us.

[          I’m convinced in a church the size of Northeast there are people backing up in their faith because your conditions are not being satisfied.  Please hear me – genuine faith is to rise above that and stick with God no matter what ever happens.

Ø  Perhaps the greatest example of faith in the whole Bible is hidden in the back of the book of Habakkuk.

[          I pretty much speaks for itself.

[          Habakkuk 3:17-18; “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Ø  Prayer – Lord, give us that kind of faith!


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