Sunday Snippets

Just a few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the fact that there are times when, no matter how much we would love to be at church, it just isn't possible...and that's okay.  Health issues, family crises, and other situations can keep us from being where we want to be on Sunday.   There are times when God's plan for us for that day includes rest and refreshment at home or meeting the needs of our family in other ways.

That said, there are times when for whatever reason and in whatever way, God causes us to push beyond what we *think* are our limits to "get there" on a particular day.   And those days always seem to hold the biggest blessings for me.

Today was one of those days.

I won't go into detail...suffice it to say that I seriously considered staying home, and once I got there, I thought more than once that I had made a serious mistake in going.

But, oh, how glad I am that I did!

First, we sang a hymn that has become a favorite of mine in the last few years:

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.


Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.


Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.


Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.


~J. Wilbur Chapman

I blogged here about this hymn and the story behind it, the way God has used this hymn in my life in the last few years, and the emotions it evokes.  I *still* can't sing that third verse without my voice breaking and tears filling my eyes.  And as I sang those words this morning, and then re-read that earlier post tonight, I was in awe all over again at the ways God has worked in that situation in our family over the 2 1/2 years since that post was written.  This hymn is ever richer as I reflect over the ways that God has shown the truth of those beautiful words in our lives during recent months and years, and as I look forward to His continuing to do so "until the end."

Then...the sermon.  Wow.  The sermon.

I always really miss Bro. Kent's sermons when he is away from the pulpit.  We are so blessed to be fed so richly every week!  But we are also blessed with some excellent "fill-ins" when he is gone, and one of our favorites is Lyndel's brother, Craig.  Almost every time I've heard him preach over our years at OCB, it's been one of those "hit right between the eyes exactly where I am that moment" sermons.  Today was certainly no exception!

I have to give a bit of background.  For almost four years, we have been dealing with a very difficult extended family situation that directly impacted our family.  I've shared, without giving any details, bits and pieces of what God has been teaching us and doing in our lives through this situation here on the blog.  The situation, however, has not been a public one, but a very private one, and for a long time I was sure we would never share any details with anyone other than the tiny circle of people who have been our burden-bearers, prayer warriors, and "arm-lifters" (Exodus 17:10-13).

For months now, however, God has seemed to be leading in a different direction.  Through His Word, prayer, wise counsel, and circumstance the direction increasingly seems to be toward more openness about our situation, and through that, opportunities to minister to families dealing with similar issues.  While in one sense that is scary (particularly since we know there are those who will not  be happy with that direction), in another, it is exciting.  God has taught us SO much in the last few years, and so much of our ongoing testimony has not been able to be shared with others because it is so wrapped up in what God has done through this area of our lives.

While I feel a great sense of peace about this new direction, I still struggle with aspects of it at times.  But God continues to confirm His direction and remind us that He will guide our steps every inch of the way, just as He has done from the beginning until now.

Forward to today's sermon...:)  Here are a few (very rough and rather random) notes...

1 Samuel 17

The Israelites were in "hiding" on the mountain..."dismayed and terrified" of the Philistine giant.

No "person" is the enemy..."we wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Eph. 6:12).   The Israelites enemy was *not* Goliath/the Philistines, but Satan.  We are either on God's side, or Satan's...there is no middle ground.

"This is YOUR mountain (mountain of Goliath), Christian...it doesn't belong to the enemy.  It is God's territory, it doesn't belong to the devil."  It is time to "take back the mountain!"  Everything about us...our time, our tempers, our attitudes, everything...belongs to the Lord...and it is time for us to "take back the mountain".  

The passiveness of God's people in this chapter a picture of the passiveness of God's people today.  For *40 days*, Goliath had been issuing his challenge, and for *40 days* God's people had been in hiding, terrified.  

"Is that mountain not worth fighting for?"  

They tried to dissuade him, to "hush him up", as people try today to silence those who are "too zealous".  But David said to Saul..."God has been preparing me."   Do you realize that God has been preparing you for battle??  Too many Christians have been hiding in the mountain, waiting for a David to come along.  God has been preparing you for a mission field...your mission field is that giant standing there in front of you...it's time to say, "I come in the power of the Lord."  

Even as David stood there, the people were probably saying, "Somebody stop him...somebody get that kid away from there".  People are always trying to stop us from God's work...from fighting the battle He has given us to fight.  

In David's mind, he wasn't the underdog.  "And all this assembly will know..."  For all time, all people would know that "the battle is the Lord's". 

Importance of being faithful in the lonely times...when no one else knows what you are going through.  David had been faithful out in the field with the sheep...no big audiences watching him slay the lion and the bear. 

When God brought victory, he gave God all the glory.  

God will bring you to the next step He has for you...

Isn't it comforting to know that whatever mountain we are facing right now is God's mountain?  And that the battle is His.  Our task is just to use the preparation He has already given, obey His Word, and take back the mountain that is already His to begin with!  

What a blessing this morning's service was...and what a blessing it has been to reflect back on it tonight, as this was one of those "no choice but to stay home" nights.  I can't wait to see what God's "next step" is for us! Did God bless you in a special way through today's worship services?  Or was this a "can't be there" Sunday?  What giant are you facing right now, and what mountain do you need to take back in God's strength?  I'd love to hear in the comments!

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