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The Story: Week 8 "A Few Good Men . . . and Women"

 

Call to Confession and Prayer of Confession

Q. 104. The first commandment requires us to know and recognize God as the only true God and our God and to worship and glorify him as such by valuing, meditating on, remembering, highly regarding, honoring, adoring, preferring, loving, desiring, fearing, believing, trusting, hoping, delighting, and rejoicing in him. We must also be zealous for and call on him, giving him all praise and thanks, completely obeying and submitting to him in our whole person. Finally, we must walk humbly with him, being careful to please him in everything we say and do and being genuinely sorry when we offend him.

 

We take time during corporate worship to confess our sins because we have committed them throughout the week, sometimes without being aware.  Our confession today is based on The Larger Catechism’s  definition of what it looks like to disobey the first commandment.  Let us pray:

Lord, Only God, we confess that we have not always put you first in our lives this week.

We have participated in idolatry by putting other things before you and pursuing them.

We have neglected to proclaim our allegiance to you.

We have ignored you and forgotten you.

We have practiced self-love, self-interest, and given excessive attention to things that divert our attention from you.

We have held worthless and wrong beliefs, lacked faith, have not trusted you, have been in spiritual despair.

We have refused correction, had hardness of heart, been prideful and willful and complacent.

We have indulged in pleasures that were not worthy of you, we have followed paths of our own enjoyment rather than your glory.

We have been lukewarm; have deserted and forsaken you.

And finally being dissatisfied and offended by the things God provides in our lives, ignorantly blaming him for the evils he inflicts on us, as well as attributing the credit for any good thing we are, have, or can do to luck, idols, ourselves, or any other created being.

Father we have sinned. Forgive us. Amen.

 

Introduction:  A few days before Raymond Allis passed away, I went into his room and he mumbled something at me.  Pose interpreted, “Yep, here comes Judge Judy!”  Little did I know that he’d been calling me that for awhile.  Must have been the robe.  Depending on your life experience and what TV shows you grew up watching, there is probably a picture that comes to mind when you think of a judge.  

 

In The Story we come to a 300 year period known as the period of the Judges. There is an entire book in the Bible dedicated to this time. The Judges were those who led Israel after Joshua’s elders died.  They ruled Israel until the time of the Kings.  Judges 2:16 says, “The Lord raised up judges who saved Israel out of the hands of raiders.”  There was a long line of judges to match the long history of Israel being raided.  They were raided because they had the habit of not obeying God and the raids were a discipline that worked to return their hearts to God.   

 

Seven hundred years after God’s promise to Abraham, the people of God are in their own land, God is present in the tabernacle, a law guides their lives, and a sacrificial system exists for forgiveness of sins. The people were truly blessed by God. But there is one problem . . . Sin. Sin still reigns in the hearts of the people. Sin raises its ugly head time and time again.  

 

Now before you tsk, tsk the OT people of God we should probably take a moment to reflect on our own lives.  Aren’t we, too, blessed by God in so many ways? God is present with us by his Holy Spirit in our hearts; we still have God’s law to guide our lives; Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive us for our sins - the final sacrifice.  But there is one problem . . . Sin. Sin still reigns in our hearts. Sin raises its ugly head time and again.

 

Since there are so many similarities between us and the OT people of God (most likely because we are all human!), lets see what we can learn from Israel’s mistakes:

 

I.    Israel’s Two Mistakes after Conquering the Land.

 

A.    Let’s look at Judges 1:27ff (read through 29a, 30a) What was the     

    mistake? They did not drive out all the Canaanites and this led to the sin     

    of idolatry. Judges 2:12

 

So what can we learn here?  The things we surround ourselves with influence us.  They can influence us toward God or away from him?  So think about this - what influencers are the strongest in your life right now?And where are they focusing your attention?

            

    B.    The second big mistake that Israel made was that they did not teach their 

        children about God and his great acts of deliverance. Listen to Judges 

        2:10

Let this be a lesson to us.  If our children do not hear our testimony about the greatness of God, they will not know about him.  This generation is already in trouble.  Christianity is only one generation away from extinction.  That does not sit very well with me.  The stakes are high.  How are we communicating the truths of God with the generations that are following us?

 

 

 

II.    The next applicable bit we can glean from Judges is an observation that jumps 

    out at me every time I read through the OT. There are four movements in a 

    repeated cycle or pattern in Judges and these four movements occur 6 times in 

    this book alone.

    

    A.    Movement 1-    sin.

 

        God has claimed them and demands to be first in their lives, but they have 

chosen to worship the pagan gods of the people they didn’t chase out of their land.      This is sin.  Refusing to obey God. Doing things contrary to the will of God.

 

    B.    Movement 2-    oppression

        

        God removes His hand of protection and allows surrounding     

            nations to oppress His people. Judges 2:20-22. The people left in 

    the land of Canaan pushed back on Israel and God allowed them to

push.

 

I’ve been thinking about this lately and my own stubbornness when it comes to not wanting to give up doing something I know is displeasing to God.  I’ve begun to think, “What if God leaves me to this?”  Let me illustrate.  

 

Sin truly is a trap.  It can come in many forms.  Each one of us has to decide if we prefer being trapped to the freedom we have in Jesus Christ.  I don’t want to stay stuck in my sin, so I am going to have to run when he offers me the way out!

 

    C.    Movement 3-    repentance.

 

            That running is repentance.  The oppressed people cry out to God 

            for help. They “turn” or “return” to the Lord. They make a decision to 

            do a 180 degree change in direction. That is the same way we 

            define repentance today. 

        

    D.    Movement 4-    deliverance.

 

            In each of the six cycles in the book of Judges, God raises up a 

judge who serves as a deliverer: Othniel delivers them from the Mesopotamians; Ehud delivers them from the Moabites; Deborah from the Canaanites; Gideon from the Midianites; Jephthah from the Ammorites and Samson from the Philistines.

It is important to notice that even though the six judges named brought about the deliverance by the acts they carried out, it is God who orchestrates the deliverance, provides the opportunity for it to happen.

 

        Where have you seen this cycle at work in your life?  Are you in the midst 

of a cycle with sin now? Do you realize that this is the first Sunday of Lent?  And I can’t think of a better time to begin to let God deal with your sin!  This season is about repentance and surrender and becoming new creatures.  What sort of work is God orchestrating in your life in order to bring about deliverance?

 

Concl. Let’s conclude with 1 John 1:6-10

This is the design God has set forth for our deliverance.  It requires acknowledgement of our sin; living under the oppression of that sin until we understand that we need out; repentance of that sin; and then deliverance.  

 

According to 1 John 1, none of us can deny that sin is at work in our lives.  To deny it is to call God a liar.  So the question becomes “What will I do about the sin in my life?”  God offers rescue over and over again because he is patient and gracious. But let us not test him to see how long he allows us to continue in sin before he allows us to stay in the habit we hold so dear.

 

This morning as we come to the table, I invite you to repent.  To consider those things, attitudes, habits, that stand between you and being surrendered completely to God.  Would you confess them as they come to mind?  And as you receive the bread and cup, remember that Christ died to forgive us of our sins and to rescue us, deliver us, from all unrighteousness.  Choose to live free.  Amen.