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Get serious

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Text: I Sam 7:3-13

Introduction: As we approach another Olympic year we can’t help to reflect on the pride, the commitment and dedication to bring to glory to each athlete’s country by bringing home a gold medal.  However, a couple of years ago we have seen the glory of winning an Olympic Gold medal fade away. Marion Jones was said to be the fastest women alive, a role model and leader for young African American women who won several gold medals in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  But in 2007 was caught in a scandal she may never recover from.  Ms. Jones openly admitted using illegal performance enhancing drugs to increase her chances for victory.   Due to this mishap she had to forfeit her gold medals, give up her endorsement deal.  She has return millions of dollars that her celebrity status rewarded her with and faced criminal charges. The glory faded away not only in her life but lives of other Olympic athletes, the USA, and especially those young girls who looked up to her.  There is no more glory for Marion Jones. And it was all because of abuse and misuse of influence.  But Marion Jones is not the only one who has every had the glory from their life depart due to their misuse and abuse.  We may not have cheated for a gold medal but we have done some stuff that God’s glory left us.

Background: The back drop of our story was due to the indiscretion of the people of Israel particularly 2 brothers that were priest, Phineas and Hophni.  They were the sons of Eli and were supposed to succeed there dad in ministry.  But unlike their dad, they did not know the Lord and misused their position for selfish gain.  Furthermore, they were sexually immorally.  And God was not pleased.  God was not also pleased with Eli because he did not do anything to correct them.  (parents discipline your kids) God was going to hold the whole family accountable.  God judgment came to them when the Philistines came against the Israelites for war and the sons of Eli want to pervert the use of the Ark of the Covenant for their benefits by manipulation.  So they thought that the presence of God would be with them when they fought however, the Philistines defeated them and Hophni and Phineas were killed?  Why? They did not know the Lord.  You can’t use God as a good luck charm. After the battle, the Philistines took away the ark.  During this time, Phineas wife was pregnant and when she heard what had happen near the time of her delivery she was in great pain then died after her the delivery.  But before she died, she named the child Icabod because the glory was departed from Israel because the Ark of the Covenant was taken away.  The ark was the symbolic the presence of God.  Now that it was gone, the glory was gone also!  There was no hope for Israel.  But as the story goes on the enemies could not handle the presence of the Living and returned it.  Now the ark was back but God is not moving.  We learn several things thus far.  One, we have to be in the right relationship with God for his glory to be revealed.  Without God’s glory we are doomed.  The enemy can’t handle the presence of God.  Also, due to our sin God is present but he may not be moving on our behalf.  So, how do you restore the glory?

Our story opens up with Samuel, speaking to the house of Israel with a condition that will restore the glory that was lost: put away false gods, prepare your hearts, serve the Lord only and he will deliver you.  Their desperation for security leads them to obey to the command.  So they got seriously passionate about the Lord which is our first point. 

I.               You got to get passionate about God vv. 4-6

Verse 4 tells us they did what Samuel commanded. They put away Balaams and Ashtaroth.  They were false gods.  We have some Baalims and Ashtaroth is our lives. Baalim was a man made male deity.  Ashtaroth was a female fertility goddess.  The Israelites were serving man made things and expecting “God-like” results. When you do this it is not going to happen.  We do the same thing.  We have false gods that we think can give us what God can give and produce for us what only God can do.  It is not going to happen. We serve false gods of jobs, money, pride, accomplishments, abilities and positions and past experience. They are on God’s throne. But you have to love God with all your heart, mind and soul!  We have to get serious about our God and put away anything that hinders us from experiencing his glory even yourself. Next, in verses 5 &6, if we want to restore God’s glory is to get serious about prayer.  Samuel instructed the people of Israel to gather at Mizpeh and he will pray for them.  Mizpeh means watchtower.  A watchtower serves 2 purposes, a lookout to watch out for the enemy’s attack and a field house to store supplies.  Samuel had the people gather at the watchtower so he can pray for them.  This was picture of what happens when believers get passionate about the Lord’s Glory.  They gathered together on one accord single minded for change and a move of God.  Just like in Acts 2, under pressure of the enemy, the believers came together to pray: God’s presence manifested!  Where they prayed is important; at the watchtower.  Prayer is like the watchtower. It is for protection from your enemies and to supply your needs.  But also look at who prayed, Samuel the judge.  He is a type of Christ. Jesus is the righteous judge, who also constantly intercedes for those who are passionate about Him.  In verse 6, they poured water out before the Lord and fasted and cried out for there sin. The pouring out of water is symbolic of repentance. Fasting in denying of the flesh and the crying out to the Lord is the confession of what they have done. God’s glory can not dwell where there is sin therefore so if you want God’s glory repent, deny yourself and confess to God!  Now this is only for the folk who don’t want to play church.  This is for those who know they got an issue they just can’t deal with it.  Our problem is that we put on a front trying to fool God and wonder why He is not moving in our lives.  Your Christianity cannot hide by what you do in church.  God is looking for our character and integrity. But we are so arrogant we think we are better than everybody and we judge but don’t want to look in the mirror.  Look at your neighbor…be for real!   Our next point is

II.         When we get passionate about God, the enemy gets passionate about stopping us vv. 7-8

In verse 7, when God’s people get serious about his glory the enemy turns up the heat. When the Philistines heard what was going on they were ready to attack the Israelites.  My beloved, the closer you get to God the more the enemy attacks.  That is why you are going thru…... But when the Israelites heard about the attack they were afraid. The Israelites needed to hear from God they went to Samuel to pray v.8. Samuel means one who hears from God.  When you are in need of help make sure you got somebody in your corner that hears from God.  We have to watch what we hear. But before we listen to the enemy, we need to listen to God first.  If you want to hear from God, we have to get in the word.  So Samuel seeks the Lord.  Look at what he does.   He performs an act of worship.  In our story not only is Samuel and judge, he is also prophet and priest (do to Eli’s sons).  Here is he is operating as priest.  He takes a young lamb and makes a whole burnt offering and cried to the Lord and the Lord heard him.  Whenever you come in the presence of the Lord, bring and offering i.e. a sacrifice of praise!  A burnt offering, “olah” which means ascending was the most frequent form of worship.  When you worship you ascend up to God in his presence! Worship takes you up!  Something happens when you get into God’s presence.  This leads to our next point.

III.  God gets compassionate when we show Him passion vv.9-13

When you worship the Lord with passion something wonderful happens. But even when you worship, that doesn’t mean your enemy will stop messing with you.  Look at the text. Verse 10a, Samuel while made the offering, the enemies attacked.  But one thing about worship you should know. Worship moves God’s presence to invade your situation.  Look what happens to the Philistines.  When they came to attack, the Lord thundered with a great thunder!  God manifested and confused the enemy and struck them! But where the enemy was killed is significant, Beth-car.  It was in the land of the Philistines.  God will kill off your enemy in their own backyard and give you his stuff.  To show his gratitude for what the Lord had done, Samuel took a stone and built and altar between the place they started and the place where they ended and called it Eben-ezer, the stone of help.  My beloved when God moves in your life it is always good to have a place set apart as a memorial to show people what the Lord has done.  It is a place of testimony about his goodness. It is a place of reverence for his greatness! Build an altar!! But do it in your heart! Samuel called this place the stone of help.  My beloved, I am telling you, you had a stone of help. He was the chief corner stone, the tried stone.  Jesus will restore the glory back in your life. He did it with passion. Jesus was passionate about you when he was beaten. He was passionate about you when he hung on the cross for you.  He was passionate about you when died.  He was passionate about you when he got up with all power to reveal his glory. His glory is why we worship!  And my worship is for real!!! Church you will get your glory back when you worship.  Worship will get the help you need! Because the glory is back! 

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