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Sunday: 11:00am/6:30pm / Wednesday: Prayer 7:30pm  

Gregg Street, Lisburn, BT27 5AW

As a result of their disobedience, Israel is brought under the yoke of the Philistines for a long time. It all started with Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons. We read in 1 Samuel 3 how the Lord speaks to Samuel and share with the young boy the judgement that was going to come upon Eli’s family. As high priest it was Eli’s responsibility to discipline his two son that were clearly, before the whole nation, sinning against God. In chapter 4 we see the ark of the covenant, the very symbol of God’s presence in Israel, being captured by the Philistines. It is because Israel thought the ark might give them strength. They trusted more in an object rather than the person of God. 

But we see how God can take care of Himself and after seven months the Philistines return the ark as it was causing tremendous plagues and death among their people. And so we find ourselves in 1 Samuel 7: 2 where we read: “The ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time – twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.” 

We see here in the hearts of the people a certain longing and desire for God to return to them. Israel has experienced God’s discipline and now they long for times of peace and spiritual vitality. We are like that too. After times of disobedience and discipline, when we feel God’s hand  heavy upon us, we start longing for times of spiritual refreshment. But there is a big difference between wanting God and actually being ready to obey God. Many times we imagine God coming to meet our needs and so our expectation is based particularly our our own terms and understanding. And yet God has His own plan that is far from our own. His thoughts are not our thoughts and lets not forget: God knows the deep secrets of our hearts. The Lord will not let HImself be used as an object. He must be worshiped and adored because of who He is, not just for what He has done.

Samuel, the man of God, understands the people and how easy they can turn away from God once they have received what they asked for. Therefore Samuel challenges their intentions. In 1 Samuel 7: 3 we read: “Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel: If you are serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then He will rescue you from the Philistines.” 

There is  a wonderful emphasis here. Samuel calls people to review their attitude and reasons for wanting God back. We all want to see God coming and blessing us with wonderful spiritual blessings, with miracles and with salvation but what we miss is the fact that God expects us to do something. God’s expectation of us is to do some cleaning, to get rid of all the idols and the images that offend God. This amazes me, as I realize God makes His presence available to all who are serious about Him.

Many times we end up saying we want God because we need Him to do something for us. And we know very well that as soon as God would do it, we would return to the things we have been doing before. Well, we mus understand that God cannot be fooled. We must be serious about God and then He will come as He promised.

Tags: Faith Religion Christianity God Serious

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