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South Fellowship Church

Sermon Series

Ignite a Movement | 1 Samuel 14:1-23

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So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven. – 1 Samuel 14:23

In a generation of global philanthropic causes and entrepreneurial start-up businesses, we celebrate those who bring creative ideas to the table and we honor those ideas which influence our world for good. Now, many of us chase the dream of being that guy or that girl who goes down in the history books for leading a movement. We want the secret recipe for changing the world, so we read books on how to start an uprising, how to win friends, influence people, and how to inspire others to take action.

However, when we look back, we’ll notice how oftentimes the person who sparks a movement never sets out with such grand intention. People such as Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs all took part in their own kind of movement without knowing what would result. I doubt Jonathan, in 1 Samuel 14, anticipated what would take place because of his actions either. Certainly, each person mentioned had hopes of what could be but all they ever did was set out to complete the work set before them. They used their moments to do the right thing, to take the risk, or to remain faithful to the task at hand.

The same is true for us. Whether we’re young or old, male or female, brilliant or mad, every one of us has been given moments of decision, tasks to remain faithful to, and opportunities to be influential. We all have a unique sphere of influence. What we do with our moments both good or bad are important. Even when we’re not the person to instigate or take the first move, we lead by standing together with a cause greater than ourselves. Imagine what might result when believers stand together in obedience to God’s word and risk their reputations for the sake of Christ. Watch this short TEDTalk about starting a movement and pray for what action you might take to join the movement Jesus began many years ago.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Yvonne Biel  

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Ignite a Movement | 1 Samuel 14:1-232017-05-18T05:00:53-06:00

Israel Rallies | 1 Samuel 14:1-23

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16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there.17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.18 So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel.19 Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. And behold, every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion.21 Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.22 Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle.23 So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven. – 1 Samuel 14:16-23

Denver remembers when the Broncos won Superbowl 50 and the parade celebrating the victory. Estimates of fans range up to a million. But, I’ll venture a guess that at least some of them weren’t very enthusiastic earlier in the year – there were some hard games and Denver wasn’t always on top of their game. On that day though, Broncos fans came out in force, from those calling themselves ‘die-hard’ to those labeled ‘fair-weather’ fans.  There’s a hint of this breadth of involvement in 1 Samuel 14.

The story of Israel defeating the Philistines began when Jonathan and his armor bearer take action and God incites pandemonium shaking through in the Philistine’s camp (1 Samuel 14:15). The furor in the enemies’ camp caught the attention of Saul’s watchmen, ultimately stirring Saul and the 600 men with him to action.  But, that wasn’t the end of it. The Hebrews who joined the Philistines in their camp turned into the fray against the Philistines. Soon, those who fled to the hills and holes to ‘ride out’ whatever was going to happen, heard what was going on, and joined the battle, pursuing the Philistines as they fled the melee.  Israel was experiencing first-hand the result of a small act which rallied them all – both ‘die-hard’ and ‘fair-weather’ fans. The small act of faith by a couple men who wanted God’s victory, reengaged Israel.

We’ve witnessed this happening in our lifetime, too, when a few of God’s people stand up, in God’s strength, and begin to push back against an injustice, or misdeed.  Before too long, a tsunami of believers engage the issue.  Those never figuring themselves capable of being involved are surprised at what’s accomplished.  Nevertheless, the only way Israel was able to be victorious was through the power of God. That hasn’t changed.  The song “Open Up Our Eyes” speaks of God’s love for us and his ability to fight for us.  As you listen to the song, consider the victory Israel experienced through God and those victories you’ve experienced only through this same power.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Rich Obrecht 

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Israel Rallies | 1 Samuel 14:1-232017-05-18T05:00:13-06:00

Saul Reacts | 1 Samuel 14:1-23

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And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. So, Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So, Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” – Samuel 14:16-19

How many people would you influence if you turned AWAY from God?  We regretfully don’t realize the extent of our influencing until it is too late. Every response and reaction has profound effects on others – both for good and for bad. But, the Lord never wastes our faithful following in obedience. In fact, it’s critical for our role in the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-17) and in the world (1 Peter 2:9-12).

In Deuteronomy 29:18, God gives a charge to Israel to be faithful to His covenant “so that there may not be [any] man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away from the Lord our God.”  Israel’s first king, Saul, disregarded faithfulness to God’s commands, walked more in his own selfish way, and promoted his prideful heart. Saul kept slipping further and further away from the Lord. Then, in the heat of this moment, as Israel’s “leader,” he took matters into his own hands to ruthlessly keep control of everything. But, God’s plan prevailed regardless of what Saul did and in spite of Saul’s striving. Saul lost influence and instead got swept up into God’s movement that not he but Jonathan instigated.

Now think how many people you could influence by turning TO God.  Being a whole-hearted follower of God and his commandments can speak louder than any words you speak. Your uncompromising and immediate obedience when God shows you the way, can influence more people than you could ever imagine. Consider what fears might become a barrier to walking in faithfulness. Confess any fear you have in getting up and following God. Then, proactively look for God’s movement instead of being reactive like Saul.

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By Donna Burns  

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Saul Reacts | 1 Samuel 14:1-232017-05-17T05:00:16-06:00

God Rumbles | 1 Samuel 14:1-23

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And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land.  And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic. – 1 Samuel 14:14-15

It’s not easy to forget a ground shaking event. The ground rolling, the loud rumbling and the walls shaking and you find yourself in a California earthquake, as I did.  The experience gave me a huge appreciation for the symbol of God’s presence every time an earthquake is mentioned in the Bible.  Not only is it a sign of his intervening, but it also makes me marvel at his magnificence.  It gives me faith and courage in who God is and his power.

In Samuel 14, Jonathan had faith and said, “It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” Then he acted on that faith.  He trusted, he moved, he got out of his comfort zone, and he risked his safety.  He didn’t know how God would act or what God would do, but he knew he had to move with God.  Although, he was outnumbered, out equipped and going up the mountain, Jonathan’s confidence in God’s character and capability took his focus off what God’s will was for his life, and turned it into how could he give his life to fulfill God’s will. Then, God showed up. He gave Jonathan and his armor bearer victory in an utterly impossible situation. The Lord shows this victory over the Philistines in the camp panicking, the raiders trembling, and the earth quaking.

God promises victory when we fight with him (Joshua 23:10). We can be like Jonathan and keep advancing until the Lord tells us to wait!  It’s easy to get this backward and just sit still and watch.  We act as if the primary word from God is NO, when it’s actually GO! The Apostle Paul tells us, “God is in you to will and to work his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) How different would your life look if you worked from a giant GO instead of a NO?  Today, praise God for the rumbles of God at work in your life and others. Praise him for showing up in you and around you, for answering prayers, and doing what can only be explained by a powerful act of God. Then, acknowledge God’s presence with you by sharing your praise with someone else.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text 0=””]

By Donna Burns  

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God Rumbles | 1 Samuel 14:1-232017-05-16T05:00:22-06:00

Incite Action | 1 Samuel 14:1-23

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So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” – 1 Samuel 14:11

 Some people say, “It’s the thought that counts,” but it’s funny how that saying completely contradicts another famous saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” In my experience, the second saying is far more true. My wife never enjoys it when I come home to tell her I thought about getting her flowers. It’s easy to see how thoughts without actions are silly in that context. Unfortunately, much of my Christian journey has been marked by the assumption that only thoughts count. I’ve even been frustrated when my sound theological thinking hasn’t suddenly transformed me. Why do I believe actions are louder than words in most areas of life and then live as if I can think my way to transformation?

Imagine what might have happened in 1 Samuel 14 if Jonathan and his armor bearer had stopped just before they stepped out of hiding. Imagine if they had made their plan and then changed their minds right before they took action. We wouldn’t be reading this story. When they “showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines” the story becomes compelling. It’s one thing to say, “God can save by many or by few” and a completely different thing to attack a huge army with only two men (1 Samuel 14:6).

In his excellent book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller proposes that the same elements used in composing a good story make up a good life. Every good story has an inciting incident that sends the protagonist down a new path. Sometimes those incidents are out of the character’s control while other times one decision can send a character into the center of the narrative. Miller writes about how we can self-inflict inciting incidents. That is exactly what we see in Jonathan’s story. When Jonathan shows himself to the Philistines, he changes the future outcome. In that moment, he and his companion begin a trust fall upon God and the ripple effect of that one action affects more than just Jonathan’s life, it affects all of Israel.

This is one of the powerful functions of community in the life of a believer. When we speak our intentions to obey God aloud it strengthens our conviction to follow through. What is an inciting incident that you need to self-inflict? It could be a decision to trust or to obey. Tell someone your intention to make that leap of faith and then, leap![/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Aaron Bjorklund 

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Incite Action | 1 Samuel 14:1-232017-05-15T05:00:40-06:00

Experience+Enjoy | Psalm 34:8

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Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

 

We’d done all the research and dreamed of places to explore. We wanted to have adventures and experience exciting things – zip lines, exotic snorkeling, and unique foods. We saw the pictures online, read about all the different attractions and planned our trip accordingly. But, nothing compared to actually being there. We could’ve read in detail about the vacation we planned, but reading about something is no substitute for experiencing it. The same is true when trying to understand God’s will. We can read about it, learn about it, and understand it – but there’s no substitute for experiencing it. In fact, the Scriptures teach that we only really know God’s will as we live in it.

In Romans 12:2, the Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Paul claims that finding God’s will involves testing. That means discernment is a subjective discovery, not an objective command. We see Jonathan embrace this type of approach as well. When he saw the opportunity, he stepped into it. As he moved, he depended on God to direct his steps. Through action, he asked, he evaluated, and he listened. Jonathan’s experience demonstrates the truth that we often know God’s plan from the inside, not from the outside.

What if we started to view the quest to live in God’s will not so much as a direction we’re to take, but as a discovery we get to make? Paul claims that discovering God’s will leads us to the place where we get to enjoy God and the life he’s given us. His will is good, pleasing, and perfect. As the Psalmist invites us, “Taste and see that God is good!” This doesn’t mean that living in the will of God is easy, but it does mean that it’s the deepest and fullest life available to us. Following God might mean journeying away from safety, friendships, and known commodities – but, it will also mean experiencing joy and meaning we could never have imagined. Today, put your life to the “test.” Are you living in God’s will? As you seek to follow him, remember that he is good. Let his grace wash over your soul as you listen to this great song, King of My Heart.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Ryan Paulson 

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Experience+Enjoy | Psalm 34:82017-05-12T05:00:03-06:00

Test+Discern | 1 Samuel 12:8-10

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Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.  If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.”- 1 Samuel 12:8-10

 

Firemen learn the signs of fire oftentimes without ‘seeing’ the fire itself. They gain experience by practicing many seeming innocuous observations. Feeling a door or watching under the door can communicate volumes about what danger ‘waiting’ for them in another room. By using these skills, they’re able to keep themselves, their fellow fire fighters, and those whom they’re rescuing from the burning building.

Jonathan uses a similar strategy with the Philistine garrison.  By standing in the open, he’s reading the signs. But, he’s already determined the action he and his armor bearer will pursue.  Depending on whether the Philistines call them up or come down to them, they’re prepared to do battle.  Either way, they’re ready for a fight.  They use this test to discern their next course of action.

As you look back over your life, you may be able to recall a time when used a test to discern God’s will. Were you, like firemen and like Jonathan, ready for action before you attempted to read the signs? Think about the result in proportion with the readiness of your heart. Today, whatever area you need discernment, ask God to help prepare you for action before you read the signs. Pray this simple prayer. “Lord, whatever you say and wherever you show yourself, I intend to obey.”[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Rich Obrecht and Yvonne Biel 

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Test+Discern | 1 Samuel 12:8-102017-05-11T05:00:37-06:00

Renew+Relinquish | Romans 12:2

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

 

This passage offers good news – a two-step formula for knowing God’s will. First, don’t be conformed to the world. Second, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. If you do these simple things you can, “discern the will of God.” Much easier said than done, isn’t it? What does it really mean to “not be conformed” and to “renew the mind”? Well, to quote our pastor, “I’m so glad you asked.”

Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world. There are a set of values and ways of thinking natural to the world – things like revenge, materialism, and the pursuit of power. They may come natural to the world, but they’re not of the Kingdom of God. God’s culture is different. God’s Kingdom is full of counterintuitive design. Commands like: love your enemies (Matthew 5:44), turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16), and the weak will be made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). When Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world he is telling us to relinquish our desires to follow the world’s natural inclinations.

Paul goes on to tell us to “be transformed by renewing our minds.” This is the other side of the same coin. Discerning God’s will takes rewiring our minds to see the world through God’s eyes and requires embracing God’s counter-cultural values. The good news is that this can be extremely practical by using a set of regular practices. Spiritual disciplines are kingdom exercises designed to rewire our souls to the kingdom of God. Practices like prayer, scripture reading, silence, solitude, service, fasting, and more are all tools God gives us to help us renew our minds.

Learning the difference between what the world values and what God values happens when we familiarize ourselves with God’s word. As we learn the teachings of Jesus and learn the explicit commands in Scripture, we begin to learn the character and personality of God. We learn how he would do things if he were in our situations. Saturating your life in the truths of Scripture – especially the life and teachings of Jesus – is key to transformation. Surrounding yourself with others who operate under kingdom values is helpful, too. God’s will is an acquired taste that is learned through exposure to his ways. Today, consider what values you’re following. Are you currently valuing something not within God’s values? Ask God to reveal where you might be aligning with the world’s values over God’s values. Begin by relinquishing your need to follow the way of the world in that area. Then, commit to a spiritual practice that counteracts your false value.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Aaron Bjorklund 

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Renew+Relinquish | Romans 12:22017-05-10T05:00:50-06:00

Remember+Surrender | 1 Samuel 14:7

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“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” – 1 Samuel 14:7

 

It’s rare to hear the words “I am with you heart and soul” from anyone.  These words fit best into fields of battle where opposing forces are in combat and where acts of bravery and valor are required to win the day. But on that day, as they face the Philistine enemy which exceeded them in every aspect of earthly power, Jonathan heard these words from his armor bearer.  The two of them stand there with only one of two swords Israel possessed about to head uphill to engage the enemy.  This sort of action can only take place when ultimate trust and surrender come together.

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges his hearers to remember God’s mercy and calls them to surrender their lives as living sacrifices to God.  Paul just finished outlining the process of ‘grafting them in,’ bringing them into the Kingdom of God and giving them a precious and nourishing relationship with God (Romans 11).  This isn’t something God had to do.  This was solely the mercy of God, demonstrated by Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of all, and given to the undeserving.

Just like the Romans, it would do wonders for us if we could remember the mercy God’s shown to us and surrender once again, living our lives as a sacrifice to God.  While surrendering isn’t a natural response in humans, especially in our own culture, it is a critical part of our relationship with God. “I Surrender All” is a classic hymn and speaks highly about surrender. As you read the lyrics to this song, present it as a prayer of surrender to God.

I Surrender All

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

 All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

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By Rich Obrecht 

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Remember+Surrender | 1 Samuel 14:72017-05-09T05:00:11-06:00

Go Til You Get a No | 1 Samuel 14:6-12

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Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the LORD has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the LORD has given them into the hand of Israel.” – 1 Samuel 14:6-12

 

I remember learning how to drive a car with a manual transmission. I remember because still today I see a chiropractor to help me work through the whiplash. Like many, I had a hard time learning how to get going. It was hard to get off the line. So, for the first week, I tried not to come to a complete stop – even at stoplights. I found that if I kept moving, it was easier to get going. Jonathan seems to have the same philosophy about following God. Even when facing a vast army, he didn’t stop. His approach was, “go, until you get a no,” not “wait until you hear a voice.” While the rest of the army waited, Jonathan moved.

Jonathan’s approach to searching out God’s will is never intended to be prescriptive, it’s descriptive. It recounts what he did. However, there are some principles to be learned from his journey. There are two general approaches to seeking God’s will. One is to wait until God leads, and then move. The other is to move and ask God to guide the steps. While there are certainly cases of both approaches in the Scriptures, it appears “go until you get a no” is more of the norm. The Apostle Paul serves as a great example of this. He passionately spread the gospel to the ends of the earth until he got a “no.” He wanted to go to Bithynia to share the good news, but that door was closed. Acts 16:7 says, “And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Paul found God’s will by moving – without knowing exactly where God wanted him to go. Then, God redirected his steps.

Many people are paralyzed with the idea of trying to find God’s will. There are some philosophies that propose finding God’s will for life is like hitting a bullseye on a dart board. They believe it’s a narrow path and easy to miss. Because of that conviction, many people spend much of their life waiting to hear from God. They want to know what direction they should take, what job they should accept, or what city they should move to. Instead of deciding, many wait for a voice from heaven that sometimes never comes – because sometimes God’s will is that we decide. When God gives us the freedom to choose, the comforting reality is that God is powerful and able to both close doors and open them. Jonathan’s approach to seeking the will of God is to move, and to let his God direct his steps. Prayer through Proverbs 16:9. Start moving, and ask the Lord to guide your steps.

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
– Proverbs 16:9

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By Ryan Paulson 

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Go Til You Get a No | 1 Samuel 14:6-122017-05-08T05:00:38-06:00
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