At the first of the year, many people make resolutions to either do something or not do something. It might be to work out regularly at the gym or to give up something, like oreos. Many people make resolutions to get back to church. Look at the parking lots of gyms and churches for the first month of the year and you’ll notice an increase in attendance. But, without real commitment, the decline will soon begin.
Our sermon this week is from 1 Samuel 7:1-6
1 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleaar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time – twenty years in all.
Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. 3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, ”If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.
5 Then Samuel said, ”Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, ”We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.1 Samuel 7:1-6
In the beginning of 1 Samuel 7 the description is of a dismal time for Israel. Much war and many killed by the Philistines. The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, the place God dwelled was captured. It had been a time of crisis in confidence, leadership and faith for the Israelites.
Samuel is the leader now and when the Ark of the Covenant is returned to the Israelites, he tells them to turn back to God and get rid of the Pagan gods and God would deliver them out of the hands of the Philistines. So they gave up their foreign gods and confessed their sins against God.
I think they were experiencing much the same thing we face today. We get all caught up in the laws and trappings of religion, but we forget that God wants a relationship with us. God’s move takes place in the hearts of men and women as they are moved.
Samuel tells the Israelites that they can’t have a safe, never challenging, feel good only religion in place of a relationship kind of thing and think you’ve got a chance of living the life God has for you.
So, Samuel gives Israel a 4 step challenge.
- Return to God
- Worship only God
- Commit to God
- Serve only God
Israel didn’t see their Pagan worship as a problem. They didn’t see it as rejecting God. They were adding other gods to their worship. God and Bael…God and Ashtoreth. Do you have a +1? We want God and we want to have things the way we want. We’re not any different than the Israelites.
Worshiping anything other than God is settling for a false idol. If we can’t give up the idols that keep us from fully committing to God, we become complacent in our situation and nothing will change.
How did 2021 go for you? Do you want more of the same or do you want to give God control of your life? His plan is much better than any we could come up with.
To give God control, you have to give up the wounds of the past. I know that it’s scary to give total control to someone you can’t see, but maybe you’re not looking hard enough. Vengeance belongs to God. If you can trust Him to take care of it and instead put your heart into finding out more about the Creator who made you and loves you, you’ll see a change in 2022. But it will take commitment to spending time with him daily. Pray, read your Bible, read devotionals, spend time in solitude focused on what he wants you to do today. Start small, but be intentional about setting aside time with Him. I promise you will be blown away with the story He wants to write about your life. Since committing myself to lean into Him, my daily routine is very different and I couldn’t be more content. I don’t have it all together, but God does and I trust him.