RECAP: REBIRTH OF THE FAITHFUL based on 1 Samuel 3:1-21
Right now, it looks like our nation has lost its way. More and more the church in the United States is in decline. Kevin DeYoung, in his article Lessons from Mainline Decline, argues this decline is in part because of the desire of the church to become relevant and updated with the times, but in reality, this pursuit to increase attendance does little to win the heart and soul of the lost for Jesus. It can be inferred then, that in the desire to become relevant, the church has become just as lost as the world that needs desperately to find Jesus. The blending of worldviews ultimately leads to spiritual decline and loss of spiritual vitality.
This is not just today. There is nothing new under the sun. The same struggles existed early in the nation of Israel during the era of the judges, as notated in 1 Samuel. The decline of that day had five main characteristics:
1) Stopped hearing or teaching the word of God. It says in 1 Samuel 3:1 that “the hearing of the Word of God was rare in those days; it has been a long time since there were any visions.” Even Samuel, who was dedicated to the LORD’s service, had not even been taught to understand who the LORD is and what he requires. The nation had stopped hearing the Word of God; without the Word to guide, their deceptive and fickle feelings became their guide. That led to…
2) Loss of recognizing the voice of the LORD. Since they were not sharing or declaring the Word of God, they lost the intimate connection with the LORD. When the LORD called Samuel, it was understandable that Samuel did not know it was God because he was never taught the Word of the LORD; but Eli knew better! Eli was the judge of the nation, the spiritual leader; it took three times before he discerned that it might be the LORD speaking to Samuel. He had become so distant from God that he no longer could recognize the voice of the LORD. And when we stop recognizing the voice of the LORD and comparing it to the Word, we begin to confuse our feelings, our own hopes, and desires with the voice of the LORD, leading us into chaos. That leads to…
3) Allowing sin in the camp. The sons of Eli were wicked. They knew what their charge as stewards of the tabernacle was supposed to be as described in the Torah. They knew how important it was to keep the sacrifices pure and holy. Instead, they blasphemed the name of the LORD and became sacrilegious in the handling of the sacrifices, eating some of the meat intended for the LORD, bullying some of the worshippers, and showing utter contempt for the commandments of God. What was even worse, they took some of the women who came to worship and had sexual relations with them right at the entrance of the tabernacle! They had allowed sin in their midst, taken the holy place, and profaned it. This, coupled with the first two, led to…
4) Failure to condemn sin and discipline. Eli knew what his sons were doing, yet did not correct them or do anything about it. Instead, he remained inside of the tabernacle, buried his head in the sand, and refused to deal with the issue! Silence is agreement; when one refuses to take a stand against blatant sin, that individual is agreeing by their silence. And so God’s judgment on sin and the sons of Eli would be transferred also to Eli. God is holy and will not allow sin in his presence; he will deal with it! And when we allow sin to endure in the house of God and refuse to act, we risk losing the very blessing of God over us! For Israel, God allowed the ark of the covenant to be captured in 1 Samuel 4 to show the nation that he will not tolerate sin and be reduced to a magician!
5) Fatalistic attitude. When Eli heard the judgment of God, his attitude was nonchalant, almost “Oh well!” in nature. There was no concern or desire to change. When we get to this place when we are no longer moved toward repentance, then we are truly lost!
Where is the church in the United States? Is the Word being taught? Do we recognize the voice of the LORD? What sins have we allowed in the doors of the church? Are we removing the sin in our midst? Or do we have a fatalistic, “get over it” attitude?
Fortunately, the nation of Israel would see a rebirth! This rebirth was initiated by the LORD’s call to Samuel. What did Samuel do, and what can we do to see a rebirth even in our time?
1) He was in a position to listen. Even though he did not know the voice of the LORD, he stayed inside the tabernacle and away from the sin committed by Eli’s sons. He positioned himself right at the ark of the covenant (before capture), right in the very presence of the LORD. Before we can see rejuvenation, we first need to find the presence of the LORD. For there is no action we take as humanity that can do what only God can do!
2) He answered the LORD’s call. He heard God speak and answered. Even though he thought it was Eli initially, he answered the voice each time. When pointed in the direction of the LORD, he said, “Speak for your servant is listening.” Are we willing to answer when God speaks? Then, are we willing to act on what he asks of us? Samuel did not just say “I hear you,” but then he went at did what the LORD asked of him, showing he was truly answering the call.
3) Speak the truth. Even though the truth was painful, and he was afraid of the truth, he knew he had to share the truth. That truth was a word of judgment against the house of Eli. But Samuel obeyed, overcame his fear, and spoke the truth, for the truth is what endures. Too often we are afraid to boldly speak the truth because we are afraid of the consequences. But when we speak the truth, lives change, and people are set free!
4) Declared the Word of the LORD. Once he was in a place of hearing God, answering God’s call, and speaking the truth, he boldly declared the word of the LORD to all. He did not hesitate to share, and everyone recognized him as a prophet. Why? The true prophet does not tell the people of God to embrace culture; rather, the true prophet calls people back to the faithful observance and study of the Word of God. The decline started with the silencing of the Word of God; the rebirth is completed with the open sharing of the Word of God!
Our nation needs restoration. The church in this country needs to rise from the ashes. Will we choose to go the way of the house of Eli, or the way of Samuel?
Questions for Reflection
1) How often do you personally, outside of a Sunday, spend time in the Word and with God? How can you reorder your life to spend more time with both?
2) What sins do you feel exist in our nation? Are there any sins in our own hearts?
3) Are we willing to speak the truth of God’s Word? If not, what is holding us back?
4) How can you personally become more faithful to God? What about us as a church?
This Sunday, Lynne Lent will continue the series called “A Fresh Start” with the sermon titled, “Lessons from a Reluctant Prophet,” based on Jeremiah 1:4-10, 17-19. What can we learn from Jeremiah’s call? How can we overcome our own reluctance? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for May 17 – 23
May 17: 1 Samuel 8:1-22 In what way did Israel want a fresh start? Why did Samuel warn against it?
May 18: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 What is vital for a fresh start, from God’s perspective?
May 19: 2 Samuel 12:1-20 What steps did David need to take to find a fresh start?
May 20: 1 Kings 3:1-15 How did God provide Solomon a fresh start?
May 21: 1 Kings 9:1-9 What leads to a fresh start? And what leads to a wrong path?
May 22: 1 Kings 12:1-24 What lead to rebellion, separation, and civil war?
May 23: 1 Kings 12:25-33 What further contributed to the drift away from God?
This Week’s Events:
Thursday, May 19–Leadership Team Meeting, 7 pm
Sunday, May 29–Deed Signing
Sunday, June 5–Pentecost Sunday, Baptism & Summer hours begin
Summer hours return on Sunday, June 5th! Sunday School will start at 9:15, and Worship at 10:30!
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s stories. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
What do you want to see at Beaver Creek? What are some ideas you have for the long-term growth of our congregation? Any outrageous outreach ideas? Please either email Pastor Ryan or write them down and place them in the brown suggestion box in the narthex. Dream big!
If you are interested in water baptism, please email Pastor Ryan in the next few weeks!
The Christian Education Team is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sandy Bennington (health)
Samantha Cooper (health)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Natalie Dodge (health)
Bill Eckard (health)
Will Eckard (travel)
John Fix (addiction)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Melina Hoover (travel)
Darlene LaPrade (health)
Alma Long (COVID)
Leroy Makely (health)
Mark Martin (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Torrey Meyer (well-being)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Marty Moore (recovery)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Lottie Ritchie (health)
Shank family (loss)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Norma Suter (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Tom Wilfong (health)
Shelvy Wittig (health)
Joyce Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek Church