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What’s The Real Problem?

April 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 4

  • This is a tragic story of Israel’s defeat. It was a case of bad leadership, bad decisions and bad results. They made it worse for themselves.
  • This was before Samuel was judging Israel.
  • Israel were upset – they knew that it wasn’t right that the Philistines were defeating them – they were given this land by God. They asked “why is this happening?” At least they asked the question and wondered why this was happening – could there have been a wrong turn? Some people don’t even ask why it has gone wrong or try analysing it, wondering if they have made a mistake – asking why their marriage/finances/children/work situation is failing.
  • Asking why is one thing, getting the right answer is another thing – and we don’t like the right, honest answers. But when you get the right diagnosis, you can find the right cure.
  • We are “compulsive misinterpreters”.
  • The Bible goes much deeper than we do – it looks at our hearts, the core of who we are – and this is where the real cause of our problems is to be found.
  • It’s not that what has happened to us isn’t real or doesn’t count – but the heart is at the core.
  • Prov. 4:23 – guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the wellspring of life.
  • If we don’t love the God of the Bible with everything then we will reap mess and error in our life and in the world.
  • The Israelites, rather than looking at their own hearts, just go for a “plaster” option – the centre of it all, Shiloh, becomes corrupt and no one does anything.
  • They go for a religious option – very different to real worship. They took the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, using it like a religious, superstitious trick, believing the box will save them (as opposed to God).
  • Religion is deceptive because it looks like the real thing but it lacks God and worshipful hearts. Even secular people can be religious – morality. We major on minors and neglect loving God and people.
  • Phineas’ wife – “the glory has gone” – true but also half-wrong. The glory had left decades ago but no one had noticed or cared.
  • We often equate our bad circumstances with the glory being gone – the things we truly care about being gone from our lives. We have all exchanged the glory of God for a lie – for ourselves and for created things.
  • What is at the Shiloh, the centre of your life? What is your glory?
  • We were made for God – we need to get the glory back.
  • The whole story of the Bible is the glory of God returning to our lives and to this world.
  • We think we will work for it but this is not the case. The glory returns to us in the most extraordinary way – God became one of us and displayed His glory through sheer mercy and grace by His cross.
  • God wants the world to know His glory through the grace of His Son – and that is the only way we will know it.
  • Ephesians 1:6.
  • It’s not by trying harder – it’s understanding and knowing the grace of God. It’s so joy- and peace-giving that you would gladly give up anything for it.
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