Welcome back to our summer series “Old School!”  We are having so much fun diving into the Old Testament with you.  Our hope has been that as we have taken a closer look at some of these stories from the Old Testament, that you are starting to understand just how relevant these stories are to our lives today.  Make no mistake about it, their story really is our story and today we will hit a big moment for the Children of Israel found in 1 Samuel…I’m not sure we will hit a more relevant subject in this Old School series because it dives right into the heart of so many people, and to the heart of so many challenges that we see in our lives today.  Actually, through this lesson you will leave here today with the answer to all of our problems and issues that we face in our lives and that we see in our culture today.  Do you think I’m over selling it?  Well I don’t, and I would like to start by just sharing where my heart has been at lately as we walk through life here in what has been a pretty interesting year.

When you look around at all that is going on here in 2020 it’s pretty incredible.  Up until this year I had never used words and phrases in conversation like “Global Pandemic”, “social distancing”, “virus mitigation” and we have added more phrases as the year has gone on like “speaking your truth.”  It’s been amazing to see what all is going on in this world, from this Coronavirus Pandemic, and what all happened as a result of the country shutting down for a length of time, to the fights for justices, to the politics…there just seems to be more and more volatility and to put it lightly there has been a lot to process.  The interesting thing to me as a Pastor is that people see the latest thing that hits the news or this world, and they push in on Ken and I wanting to know our stance on all these issues.  They want my personal stance, and the stance of our community here at MRC.  But the tough part for me, the thing that hurts my heart in all of it is that, first I know going in that the person out there who pushes in to hear our “stance” typically doesn’t want to hear my answer, they just want me to agree with what their answer is.  Second, and this is what can keep me up at night and make me feel so discouraged…they never want to hear about the Good news of Jesus Christ and God’s love for them.  They aren’t interested in my conclusion that the answer to all these issues is God.  They don’t want to hear what our agenda as followers of Christ is…they never want to have a discussion about God which I will be transparent with you and tell you, that all of it makes me tired, because in the end I know that the answer to all of this volatility in our world today is God…you know, the thing they don’t want to talk about and continue to ignore in their lives.  So much passion for the next great fight or stance, no passion for God and His love pouring into their lives.  I know that so much of the hatred and violence and fear and anger we see around us today is a direct product of the distance we keep from our Heavenly Father and our unwillingness to allow Him into our lives and culture today.  I also know that the answer to every single issue we face in life is God.  But that isn’t the answer that people want to hear…even people who call themselves Christian’s hear you say the answer is God and they wonder to themselves…yeah but what else do you got?  The answer to every issue, all the pain and challenges we face is God.  He must be first, but we ignore Him, and look to everything and anything but God to try to put this world back together…which is hard to watch and what is really interesting is that even now as I say that to you, there are people here putting me in that “irrelevant box because Pastor’s don’t have real problems”, or some putting me in the “He has more passion than brains box.”  There are others thinking “Sam, you don’t get it, it’s not that simple.”  There are others thinking “Oh, so he doesn’t really care about the issues around us today and works around them by playing this God card”…and there are others in here that haven’t heard anything since I said the world ‘politics’ and are trying to figure out how I’m going to vote in November off of the statements that I’m making…which leads to a question, that I can’t get out of my mind.

When is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

Well there is a prophet in our Bible named Samuel, who dealt with this same issue with the Children of Israel, so this isn’t a new problem we face today.  As we wonder if God is enough or not and leads us to our story today.  It’s an amazing moment, that we can definitely personalize and learn from.  It’s a time when the Children of Israel decide they need a King.  Remember Ken told us last week that for a time they had Judges who led the people, but up until this point God was their King…and at this particular time He spoke through the prophet Samuel to His people but Samuel is getting old, and they decide they need a King.

1 Samuel 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” NIV

This is an amazing moment, and Samuel is devastated by their request…up until now God was their King, but now it’s just not enough for them.  So let me show you three things that really stand out to me here, before we really personalize this story.

First – They are looking around at other cultures and want to look like these other nations.  Did you pick up on that in verse 5 they said, “…now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”  They want to look like the world around them, and this has to be heartbreaking to Samuel and to God…after all they have been set apart. All through Scripture we are warned and encouraged to live for God and not to live for the world’s ways…they are slipping into the trap that so many fall into wanting to be like the culture around them.  There are so many places in Scripture that warn us of this, but I love 1 John 2 here in the Message Version.

1 John 2:15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world — wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important — has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 17 The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out — but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. MSG

The second thing that stood out was how crushed Samuel is and how God speaks to him.  I just found this powerful and I know that it is easy to personalize this type of thing, but God reminds him that they aren’t rejecting you Samuel, no they are rejecting me (God).

1 Samuel  8:7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. NLT

The third thing that really stands out is where the Israelites were going for answers.  Did you see that?  1 Samuel 8:8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. NLT

We see them turning to everything and anything but their Heavenly Father to get through life…it’s amazing isn’t it?  We are constantly working to fix things, acquire things, and find satisfaction and peace in our lives but the answer never seems to be God…it’s just has to be something else right?  I have been reflecting a lot lately on this verse from Ecclesiastes and it seems to really hit home here…

Ecclesiastes 6:7 We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry. MSG

This is amazing isn’t it?  God was their King, but they have decided that He just isn’t enough anymore.  Remember, their story truly is our story…we do this too.  They seemed to want to do what the culture around them was doing, and you know what, we do this too.  I also want you to see that we seem to turn to other things to try and find the answers we are searching for rather than turning to God, just like the Children of Israel did time and time again.  So we are going to explore life today, and we said it earlier, we live in some pretty incredible times, and we all seem to be looking for answers.  The funny thing is, The Bible tells us over and over again that the answer to all our challenges is God, but that is the last place we would ever go to find them.  So we must question whether we are willing to engage God in our lives or not.

Let’s go back to the question I brought to you as we got rolling today, it’s been on my heart a lot lately…I’m sure it was also on the prophet Samuel’s heart as the children of Israel asked for a King.  It was amazing how they turned to culture and other gods rather than to God for answers to all that life was throwing at them, but I want you to see that we do this too.  Their story truly is our story…so let’s get rolling here, do you remember the question from earlier?

When is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?  

This is the question that I want to explore with you today, in the world we live in, in all aspects of our lives, from personal to work to whatever, I want you to see that the answer is God…He is enough.  We look so many places for answers, and life just gets harder and harder…our souls are going hungry, meanwhile we are told over and over again in Scripture that the answer is God.  Makes me think of Jesus telling us that He is the vine…remember this from John 15…

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” NIV

So Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing…and then we live apart from Him and wonder why we can’t do anything.  We distance ourselves from the vine, and continue to spin our tires, and can’t find answers to the challenges life keeps throwing at us.  So let’s get back to our question.

When is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else? 

I hope that as we start to dive into some key areas of our lives you can see that God actually is enough.  That He is the answer regardless of what area of life we are talking about.  So I started to think about some key areas of life, and I think for our talk today, these 5 will do just fine.

5 Key Areas of Life to Explore Today:

  1. Our Personal Health
  2. Relationships
  3. Family and Home Life
  4. Work Life
  5. Church life

Our Personal Health – So let’s start with our personal health and for each area let’s think through what God would tell us to do and compare that to what our culture would say we should do.  So when it comes to your personal health what would God tell you to do to be healthy?  Think about it for a moment.  God would say be still, slow down, focus on your relationship with Him, find real rest for your soul, engage God’s word, pray, prioritize God.  Now what is interesting is most people sitting in a church service would agree that this is what God asks of us people…but can I ask you something?  Do you do it?  Are you spending real and personal time with God?  It’s interesting isn’t it…do you see what I’m getting at here?  The last thing we would ever do to find health and take care of ourselves is what God asks us to do.  Culture would send you another direction altogether.  So let me ask you the question.

When it comes to your personal health is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

Our Relationships – We know relationships are important, the Bible is clear, we were designed by God to do life with others, so our relationships are a big deal.  How we treat and deal with others is huge right?  After all God said the two most important things, we can do is love Him, and love others.  But people aren’t all that easy to deal with, are they?  So its interesting because God would say that you are wonderfully and uniquely made so you should be yourself.  He would also say that we are to love and serve others while the world around us would tell you to ignore who God created you to be, to stop being your unique self and to be like everyone else.  God would tell you to love, to forgive, to not keep score, to serve, and to bring your strength to those around you, while the world says the opposite doesn’t it?  The world would tell you that people are there for your gain, to keep score, to push past and use others…culture is always opposite isn’t it?  It’s interesting because we know that the product of a life lived with God in us is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…yet we seem to turn to other things rather than God and then we wonder where those fruit that should be seen in our lives has gone.  So let’s ask our questions again…

When it comes to your relationships is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

Our Home Life – I think for so many of us this is a challenging area but what is interesting is we run to everything and anything but God in our homes.  God asks us to center our lives on Him and to lead our families towards Him…but how many of us are prioritizing God into our homes?  Do you model a Godly life to your children?  Do you pray and engage them spiritually?  Do you model a Godly marriage to them?  Do you find the kind of peace and love in your home that God said would and should be there?  It’s interesting isn’t it?  Everything God said could be in our homes can be…but we must turn to Him to find it, and then we must live out the kind of lives God asks us to behind the closed doors of our home.  Culture sends a different message than God does, which brings us back to our question…

When it comes to your home life is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

Our work lives – I think for so many of us it is hard to turn to God in our work lives…I mean God just seems to ask us to do things so opposite of the ways of the world and that seems even more glaring in the workplace.  God would say serve, submit, and work hard for everything you get…we are to be the same person in all aspects of life where at home, at church or at work…yet it doesn’t seem to allow for success for some of us in that work world where everyone seems to cut corners, lie, manipulate, rob and steal to get out ahead…those who live as the world lives seem to be the more successful people in the professional world, but what is wild is that if you do apply Godly leadership principles to your job you will succeed…but how many of us really turn to God for answers in the workplace?  So let’s ask it again.

When it comes to your work life is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

Church Life – So this is an interesting one because it’s a little sneakier.  We assume that churches are absolutely turning to God in all things but if you think about it, what is asked of the church and it’s leaders from culture is different than what God asks the body of Christ to be.  God wants the church to point to Him in all things.  He asks His people to serve, to focus fully on God, to bring strength and empower Christians to serve the greater mission of Christ…which is to help people who don’t know God come to know Him in a real way…but what does culture say the church should be?  It twists the focus off of God and turns it on to the individual person.  It says that the church should focus on the Christian and stay busy with activities and programing to feed Christians and keep them happy and entertained without really ever pressing in on them about their true heart conditions, or without challenging them to engage God on their own, or without ever using challenging words like surrender or submit…which is a huge part of being a disciple, to submit to God’s will over our own…but that isn’t a message that many want to hear.  Culture pushes leaders to entertain Christians not challenge Christians to live out their new life in Christ and instead of finding our passion in God and our personal walk with Him, we turn to activities and church leaders to engage God for us.  Which leads me back to my questions again…

When it comes to your church life is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

I really wanted you to see something today.  When I look at the world that you and I live in it seems so clear to me that every issue’s answer is God.  It doesn’t matter what area of life you are talking about, the answer is God…and what hurts my heart is watching us humans struggle and deal with so much with either a spiritual blindness or a stubborn unwillingness to turn to God.  He is enough.  Solomon’s words really strike me as I watch us work so hard to find answers, knowing full well the answer is found in God.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry. MSG

You know it’s amazing to think that the children of Israel decided that they needed a King rather than just allowing God to be enough, but I wanted you to see something today.  We do this too.  We look at the culture around us and turn to everything and anything other than God to try and find answers…and none of it works.  I mean let’s take a moment and think about just a few of the things going on in this world today…starting with a pretty big one that has been a new experience for all of us…

The Global Pandemic – There are so many unknowns around Coronavirus as it has swept over the world.  It’s left people afraid, it’s left some angry, some searching for jobs, many looking for clarity and answers…and all of us at some level wondering what the future may bring.  So let me ask you in the face of all of the craziness and intensity of this Global Pandemic…could God be the answer?  Is God enough?

Psalms 34:4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. NLT

I have seen a lot of people turning to a lot of things through this Pandemic…but I ask you to lay this Pandemic against our question today.  When it comes to this Global Pandemic is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

I would like to hit one more current event issue that we are dealing with today and that is the Injustices coming to light right now.

Racial Injustice in this world – There is a lot going on in this world today when it comes to racial injustices, and it truly breaks my heart…because once again the answer is God.  When it comes to all the hatred and violence in this world all I see is the product of a culture who has ignored and distanced themselves from the Lord.  The only way past hatred, violence, and all these issues is for God’s people to come to Him, center on Him, and live in His love.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. NLT

Interesting isn’t it?  The answer is God.  The more we turn to other things the worse it gets.

Billy Graham wrote this in his book, World Aflame: “In Christ the middle wall of partition has been broken down. There is no Jew, no Gentile—no black, white, yellow, or red. We could be one great brotherhood in Jesus Christ. However, until we come to recognize Him as the Prince of Peace and receive His love in our hearts, the racial tensions will increase, racial demands will become more militant, and a great deal of blood will be shed. The race problem could become another flame out of control!”

So we want racial equality, we want peace and not violence, we want all of God’s children to live in God’s love…but instead of dealing with the source of the issue which is our hearts and distance from God, we try to treat and fix the injustice, or the next problem without dealing with the source of the problem…and it just doesn’t work.  This reminds me of a situation from my life.

My son Jaden is a runner and had an injury a few years ago.  He hurt a muscle in his hip called the Piriformis.  It’s very painful.  The injured muscle hits against your sciatic nerve with every step you take…and he lost an entire season of running over it, and for months he was going to physical therapy but wasn’t getting any better.  It was tough to watch him walk through it, and after months of no progress we finally tried a new physical therapist and he said something that has always stuck with me.  He said the reason he isn’t getting better is they were trying to treat the injured muscle without dealing with what was causing the injury…the injury was a product of something else…and he told me that until they dealt with the actually source of the injury it would never heal…so he focused on the source and what caused the injury and in just two sessions, Jaden started running again.  Why?  Because we stopped treating the injury and finally dealt with the source of the pain…and it’s the same thing that I’m trying to say here.  We want equality and injustices to end…but we aren’t dealing with the source of these issues…So let’s ask our question again…

When it comes to the injustice in this world is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?

You name the issue in this world, regardless of the area and I will tell you the true and permanent fix is found in God.  The answer is God.  He is enough.

So let’s personalize this even more as we close today.  I want you to think about your life and your heart condition and your walk with God because this is where it all begins.  Whether we are talking about current events, or any of the key areas of your life, the answer is God.  He is enough.  So let me ask you a couple questions.  Slow down and think this through.

  • Do you seek God and center your life on Him or does culture dictate your decisions in life?
  • Do you turn to God for answers knowing He is enough, or do you turn to other things?
  • What would your life look like if you would conclude that God is the answer?

What if what you heard today is the truth?  What if the answer is God?  How would your life change?  Would you move faster or slower through your day?  Would you be doing more things or less each day?  What would your priorities look like if God was the answer, would they change or stay the same…and what would your life, your relationships, your family, your career, your church community and all that life throws at you look like if you turned to God rather than other things and centered on Him?

So we close with this question and I would like you really taking some time to focus on it today and this week.

When it comes to your life is God enough?  Why isn’t God enough?  Why does the answer always have to be something else?