Christian Certainties in Uncertain Times
Lives filled w/Uncertainty We live lives that are filled with uncertainty. I think for lots of us, these past 12 months reminded us of that. It seems like more and more, things in our world that have seemed certain, are beginning to shake. And it's true. My life, just like your life is filled with uncertainty. If you're being honest, there's LOTS of questions that the only truthful answer is "I don't know" - I certainly don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't even know how many more tomorrows I have on this earth. There's a lot we don't know.
Christian faith provides much certainty And so while it's true that we all live in uncertain times, the Christian faith provides for us an incredible amount of certainty.
We have things that are certain for us, that the rest of the world does not have.
And that's the vision of this series we've been in, that we're concluding this morning. That each week we would turn our attention to rock-solid certainties that we have through our Christian faith.
And without your faith, you would not believe these to be true.
And if you missed those, they're on the podcast and YouTube and all that. I'd encourage you to check them out.
Now right off the bat, I can tell that some of you are disappointed in that one. Because it just feels like church talk, bla bla bla. But I'm telling you, this concept right here is not just for the super spiritual and it helps me a lot in what I'm called to do, and I think it's gonna be a big help for you as well.
Who here remembers the Beach Waterpark. (Pic) I almost died in that wave pool. I'm guessing you did too. Well the beach was awesome. May it Rest In Peace. And there was this one 'ride' called The Lazy River. Now this was the ride for boring, lame people. The idea of the ride was that you would relax in your tube, and float 1 mile an hour, till you die of boredom.
Now I'm about to tell you something I did that is illegal. So I need to say that I don't condone this kind of behavior. Mom, you don't know this story. Buckle up.
Well back in the day, I think I was probably 14, my friend Adrian and me, our favorite band was a band called 'Green Day'. And boy we loved Green Day. So we decided as a way to get into mischief, we were gonna turn the lazy river green. For Green Day.
So we got a ride to Smiths. And we bought like 10 of the biggest bottles of green food coloring that we could find. I think it was like $30. Which is a lot when you're 14. And we had my mom take us to the beach water park, (needless to say my mother was not aware of the food coloring.) And so we smuggled it in and everything was cool.
So we load up our swimsuit pockets with this green food coloring, we hop in our tubes and get in the lazy river. And over the course of I'd say 3 hours we just slowly leek green food coloring in the lazy river.
Any guesses on what happened? It didn't work. Literally no effect. Do you know why? Too much water. Turns out the lazy river had something like half a million galloons of water. And you don't color half a million gallons of water with 10 bottles of grocery store food coloring. Turns out.
And I think that for some of us, the world kinda feels like that. That there is SO much that seems to be wrong, and that our one little life couldn't possibly make that big of a difference. That our best bet is to just hang on and hope for the best.
But the truth is this: God has gifted you and anointed you to be a light to the world and to partner with him to bring his kingdom to earth. And when that becomes a core part of how you see yourself, then it makes the uncertainty of the world, meh just like the weather. You can look out and say 'Mmm. Yeah it's gross out there. But we've still got a job to do. God has anointed me for something important.'
1 Samuel 16 - David's Anointing
In 1 Samuel 16, we read about one of the most well known and beloved characters in the Bible, David. David as many of you know will eventually become King over all Israel, but for now he's just a small boy. People think at this time he may have been 10 to 13 years old. He's just a little guy.
What we're going to read is David's first 'anointing'. We'll actually see David anointed 3 times. But this is where he is anointed by God, and God's spirit comes and rests on David.
So this is David's 'spiritual anointing' if you will. He doesn't ACTUALLY become King in this moment, that won't happen for many many years.
But we (as the readers) are starting to pick up on God's plan for David's life.
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; (1 Samuel 16:1a)
So here we see Israel right on the edge of a new beginning. The old setup wasn't working anymore. In this case it was an old King, but for some of us it may be an old circumstance or an old mindset. And I love God's words here where he essentially says "How long will you dwell in the past? Be on your way" - Look at a neighbor and say "Move on"
Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (1 Samuel 16:1b)
We all know the son he's talking about is David. But Samuel doesn't know it yet. God likes to keep things interesting.
And you can see that's the fundamental difference between Saul and David. Saul (the previous King) is the one the people chose, but David is the one God chose.
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” (1 Samuel 16:2a)
Which makes sense, if you anoint someone as King while there's still a King currently on the throne, that's not going to end well for you.
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ (1 Samuel 16:2b)
If I was T.D. Jakes, I'd stop here and preach that God always has a plan that is much smarter than your plan. So instead of worrying about HOW God is going to do stuff, just do what he tells you to do and let him work out the details.
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice (that's David's father), and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” (1 Samuel 16:3)
Notice that language "For me". God is the one orchestrating this selection process.
Samuel did what the LORD said. (1 Samuel 16:4a)
That's probably a sermon right there. Samuel did not have all the answers. He didn't even understand how the plan wasn't going to result in his death. But he just did what God said.
Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” (1 Samuel 16:4)
Samuel is a very powerful man with a powerful anointing on his life. These people were concerned because they weren't sure what 'kind' of word from the Lord they were about to get. Did you know that when God speaks, it's not always just to tell you how wonderful you are? Sometimes the word of God comes to reveal things in you that are out of order.
Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. (1 Samuel 16:5)
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.” (1 Samuel 16:6)
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
So Eliab looks like a King. He's tall, he's good looking. Think about during a presidential election, we'll say something like "He looks presidential."
And this is a huge theme in the Bible that God looks at the heart. And the thing about David, who is far from a perfect man, is the only person in scripture described as being after God's own heart. - He's not perfect, but he has a devotion towards God that is sincere and committed and real.
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” (1 Samuel 16:8)
Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” (1 Samuel 16:9)
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” (1 Samuel 16:10)
So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” (Too funny. Is this all you got?) “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” (1 Samuel 16:11)
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” (1 Samuel 16:12)
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:13)
There is so much good stuff that could be said about this scene, I have a big fat 12 week series called the Poet King is you want to dig much deeper into it.
But this is a historical text in a lot of ways. This is about God choosing for himself a King for Israel. And it's through this King's lineage that Jesus himself will be born. So that's absolutely what's happening here.
So in the Old Testament in particular, when someone is "anointed", that usually happens by getting a horn full of oil, pouring it over their head and then it's a celebration.
But there's also that happens in a spiritual sense, it indicates something significant. We might say it like this:: To be anointed is to be 'Set apart by God for special favor and responsibility'. That's what it means to be anointed. "Special favor?! Woohoo!!!" Whoa not so fast, favor and responsibility. So maybe you're a gifted, oh I don't know, drummer. And God has given you a special gift on the drums. Ok that's favor!!! Woohoo!!! Whoa whoa, not so fast, it's also a responsibility. What do you mean it's a responsibility? I mean that God has given you great gifting but with those great gifting comes a responsibility to offer those gifts back up to him as worship.
So what does that have to do with your life in 2021? Of course it's pretty unlikely that God is going to anoint you to be a 'King' over an earthly kingdom. So it probably doesn't mean that. But we are all called and chosen to by God for specific things.
And you might look at some pastor or some politician or something and say "Wow, they are called by God to do something amazing." But I want you to know, God has anointed YOU to do amazing things. You are uniquely called, anointed, and equipped to participate in God's work in the world. YOU are. "Does that mean I'm supposed to be a pastor?" It might, but I doubt it. We're ALL called to be ministers. Ministers in our families, ministers in our workplaces, ministers in our churches. And while it's true that there are things I am anointed for that you are not, there are things that you are anointed for, that I am not.
And these verses teach a number of things that help us understand our anointing.
And I've written them in the form of 4 affirmations.
Now you might be thinking "Affirmations? Ok Tony Robbins". Two things:
And you have incredible power in what you think and what you say. They say that people believe very little of what you tell them, but they believe everything they tell themselves.
I made this all in the first person, so when you're going about your day, you can preach these points to yourself.
Or you can put them on your mirror. My amazing wife, who you all have so much to learn from, I'm being completely serious. She had these affirmations written everywhere. Taped all over the mirror she uses when she's getting ready, just everywhere.
And I'm going to do something unusual at least for me. I think Pastors can make us repeat way too much stuff, but in this case, it just feels right. So I'm going to say the affirmation then I'm going to ask you to repeat it with me. Here we go.
God sends spirit to anoint you Think about the story we just read of David being anointed. In that case, it's God sending Samuel to anoint David, but did you know that if you flip over to the new testament, we see God saying that he's sending, not Samuel, but he will send the spirit to anoint you. And when you work that in to the bedrock of how you see yourself, it fundamentally changes how you experience life.
Sled Dogs There's some dogs that it just seems like God made them to pull a sled. They NEED to pull a sled. But the problem is that in modern life, we use vehicles, so sled dogs are not in nearly as high of a demand as they were a few hundreds years ago. But these dogs still have this instinct to pull a sled. I wonder if you've ever seen those dog sled harnesses that you put on your dog and you attach it to an old tire and it lets the dog pull this tire around the yard. That dogs ability to fulfill it's purpose has everything to do with that dogs happiness. And in that same way, I think there's so many people who roam around with no sense of purpose, no sense of having responsibility, that's a horrible existence.
Depression I can think of no more depressing life than to just fumble around through the day with no purpose and no calling. Look, I am all for utilizing the blessings that God has given us through modern science. If you need to take a pill, take the pill. But I'll be honest, to have no purpose and meaning. To have no sense of taking part in something bigger than yourself. That's depression.
People get all freaked out about not knowing God's will for their life. "What's my purpose?!?! Am I supposed to be a missionary?" - Well here's the advice I used to give teenagers: Instead of thinking about capital P purpose, think instead of lower case P purpose. So instead of thinking about this one ultimate thing that God has for you, think about what God wants you to do right now.
So instead of thinking of the Capital P purpose, like what is the one thing God wants me to do with my life, instead think lower-case p, what would God have you do in this moment.
Here’s what will happen if you do that: If you're aware of God’s purpose for you in the moment, (God wants me to be involved here, God wants me to be an encouragement here) and you become more aware of hearing him and what he wants you to do, before long what happens is once you’ve been faithful in those little things, suddenly you see that God is trusting you with way more. WHY? B/C if you’re faithful in the little things, God trusts you with the big things. - So maybe after awhile you start noticing, “Wow God is trusting me with Medium P things, and then before you know it, you think ‘Wow, this is what I was put on this earth to do.'
Some of you, you struggle in your life because you feel unimportant. Man, become attentive to what God has called you to do, if even for just today, and you'll be amazed at how God can use you.
I've talked a lot about the idea of being unseen from the life of David. But think about it: I love that David wasn't even on the showroom floor so to speak, but he was the one God came for.
David wasn't chosen or recognized by the others, but he was chosen by God. David was left out by the others, but he was set apart by God.
I think this is especially important in a time like this where we constantly feel the pressure to be our own promoter. Where we have to constantly be finding ways to promote ourselves and promote our gifts. To find a way to be discovered. To find a way to be noticed. We've bought into the worlds way of thinking that if people aren't noticing me, that's a curse.
One reason I think God was able to use David was David was free of that ego. He wasn't obsessed with his following. He's not concerned whether or not his music is going to be on the billboard charts. Figure out what it means to be faithful in the things God has put before you right here, right now & leave promotion up to God.
Unseen does not mean unimportant.
Body - Pinky / Liver Think about a body - Not only are the unseen parts just as important as the seen parts, in a number of cases, the unseen parts are actually MORE important than what's on the surface. You can live without your pinky, but you can't live without your liver. Just because it's unseen, doesn't make it unimportant.
This service Think about this church service right now. There's this guy talking in a microphone, but there's a whole bunch of other people that you can't see that are really the ones making this possible. So yeah I'm talking into the mic, but if somebody doesn't turn it on, if someone doesn't operate the video camera and turn on the live stream, how is the person in Florida that really needs this message, how would they get it? I'm loud, but I'm not loud enough for people in Florida to hear me. No, there's people who you DON'T see, and without them none of this would be possible.
It would be very easy for David here to get a complex. What would the harm be to at least let David come into the room? Even if you don't think he's the one, it would still be nice for David to see his brother be anointed. At least he could be in the photo afterwards. At least he could be tagged in the picture on Instagram.
Can you see how easily this could have been a stumbling block for David, if he decided to pout and get bitter about the whole incident?
But see that's the thing: People who accomplish great things don't get sidetracked by small personal issues.
Me Preaching - I stayed I can say that for me. I've been preaching if you can believe it, for nearly 2 decades. Now here's the question: Do you think there were ever any challenges associated with that? Of course. I've lost friends, I've passed on other opportunities, I've pushed through when it would have been easier to quit. And now? I'm amazed at how God has been able to use me in some pretty cool ways - not because I've ever been the most talented, but because I was faithful in the little things, year after year, and the small P purpose slowly turned into me discovering what I was put here to do.
In the last 2 decades, there have been plenty of people who have been more gifted than me, who are better preachers than me, who are skinnier than me. But you know what? They quit and I stayed.
If you always leave, if your first response is to give up, if you’re the first one to throw in the towel, you won't accomplish anything that matters. You just won’t. Your life will be a montage of surface level relationships and dreams left unfulfilled.
But when you let God transform you into a faithful person:
Stewardship A huge emphasis in the teachings of Jesus is stewardship. Being a steward of what God gave you. The gifts God has given you, for the most part, are not FOR you, they're FOR other people. So are you being a good steward of them? Are you using your gifts to serve other people and advance God's kingdom?
At the end of the day, the things that truly matters is you spending the precious years you have on this earth in a way that's pleasing to God. Not everyone is going to love you, not everyone is going to understand you.
The question that truly matters is 'Am I doing what I believe God has called me to do?' - And if the answer to that is yes, then sleep well.
It won't always be easy, not everyone is gonna recognize how amazing you are. But if you know what it is that God has called you to do, even just for today, then focus on that. Because when the cards are down, his opinion of you is the only one that matters.
Closing statement: I am uniquely anointed for my assignment. There are gifts that God has put inside of me that aren't for me, they're for other people. When the world gets wild and crazy, I won't forget that I still have a job to do here. Even when it's hard, even when it feels like people don't see me, I will push through the pain to live a life that has an impact on the world. God, you can trust me to be a good steward over the gifts you have placed in me, because what's most important is that I live my life in a way that's pleasing to you.
Which brings us to Jesus. You wanna talk about someone who was anointed for his assignment. Jesus came and was clear about what he was called to do. And even when his calling cost him his life, he remembered what he was here to do. And God the Father raises him from the dead. And he comes and offers us forgiveness and eternal life.