We're so glad you decided to join us today!
Today is the second Sunday of Advent.
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to consider the past week, and any prayer requests you might have. When you are ready, use the prayer below, written by John Birch, to get started.
We are moulded, each one of us,
in the image of God,
and within our souls there is a fingerprint
none can erase.
We pray for those who have no regard
for anyone but self,
who put no value on human life.
For nations and individuals who abuse and kill.
We are not called to be judge or jury,
but we are called to be agents of change,
and if the butterfly that flaps its wings
should be our attitude to others
then so be it, Lord,
and may the hurricane this generates
somewhere within the world
reach into the hearts and souls of those
for whom we pray, and reveal to them
how precious are those
for whom they have no love,
and how precious are they
who now bring tears to the eyes of God.
This week's lesson is on 1 Samuel 17:31-37, 45, 48-50.
The story of David and Goliath demonstrates how the Lord intercedes for His people. David was a young shepherd. King Saul and his men were battling the Philistines, one of which was a 9-foot giant named Goliath. The men of Saul’s army were afraid of Goliath; there was no one to stand up to him. David was filled with faith and a passion for God’s name, which was being blasphemed by Goliath.
An important point in this story is that Goliath was taunting the sovereign Lord of the universe. He was challenging God’s people to stand up to him and demonstrate that their God was more powerful than he was. However, David’s faith was so strong that he was willing to believe that the Lord would go with him and enable him to defeat Goliath. David’s faith was born out of his experience of God’s grace and mercy in his life up to that point. The Lord had delivered him out of dangerous situations in the past, proving His power and trustworthiness, and David relied on Him to deliver him from the Philistine.
From the story of David and Goliath, we can learn that the God we serve is capable of defeating any of the giants in our lives—fear, depression, financial issues, doubts of faith—if we know Him and His nature well enough to step out in faith. When we do not know what the future holds, we have to trust Him. But we can’t trust someone we don’t know, so knowing God through His Word will build our faith in Him.
Faith and responsibility are key aspects of living with God. Faith is our decision to follow the Lord and responsibility is how we live out our faith on this earth. There should be no doubt who we serve, just as there was no doubt that David served God and Goliath did not.
Lord, may we grow in courage in our faith. May people see the love of Jesus as he guides our steps through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
This week's benediction is from the King James Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Matthew 1:1-17.
We are so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns with each other. Take some time to think about the past week. If you have prayer requests to share, you can add them to the comments on this post. When you are ready, use this prayer to get started.
Gracious God, forgive us for looking at people’s outward appearance, including our own, and believing that somehow a person’s external trait or ability is the most important qualification or disqualification for service. Help us to understand that you created us and that we are acceptable and able just as we are, as long as our hearts are set on following you and becoming more like Jesus.
Help us to see so-called flaws and disabilities not as negative factors but as qualities that make us unique and human. Help us to see them as opportunities to relate to others who may have issues regarding their self-worth. And help us to show them by example that you call all of us to love and respect and value each other, regardless of outward appearances.
We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today's lesson is on 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to think about your past week. If you have any prayer requests, you can add them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Father, we thank You for Your spirit-inspired word. Thank You for the ones before us who surrendered to Your voice and obediently recorded Your words through personal encounters with You. Holy Spirit, we ask that You come and have Your way in our hearts and that if there is even one doubt in our minds about the validity of Your Scriptures, that You would illuminate Your holy truth. We invite You to teach us what aligns with who You are and who You say we are. Enlighten every dark place in our souls. Thank You for this time in Your presence. Amen.
Today's lesson is on 1 Samuel 8:4-7; 10:17-24.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel in the Old Testament are included with the twelve historical books. They record the transition from being governed by the Lord to being governed by an earthly king.
The period of the judges lasted more than 300 years, from 1380 to 1050 BC. The judges administered justice and served as God's chosen military leaders when the people were oppressed by foreign invaders. During this period, the Israelites sinned, God punished them with foreign oppression, the Israelites repented, a deliverer came, and peace followed.
In his transitional role, Samuel is sometimes referred to as the last of the judges, and the first of the prophets. He was one of the greatest of Israel's judges. After freeing the country from oppressors, he established a circuit court to administer justice. His decisions were respected, for they were according to the law.
1. The Call for a King
1 Samuel 8:4-7
After the death of a judge, such as in Judges 3:7-4:7, there could be a crisis in the leadership of Israel. With no judge in place, the Israelites seemed to repeat the pattern of falling away from God.
Samuel, the judge at the time, was getting old. The elders of Israel, the leaders of the families and clans, were concerned about what would happen after Samuel's death. This could have been due to the repeated patterns of sin and being oppressed by a foreign people. This also could have been due to the greed of Samuel's sons. They would not have been trustworthy to guide the people with righteousness and justice.
The elders of Israel suggested a solution: appoint a king. This suggestion displeased both Samuel and God. Up until that point, God had been the nation's leader. The judges were raised up by God when Israel needed them. Asking for a king was asking to be like all the other nations, and rejecting the leadership of God.
Our book suggests that the elders did not understand that they were rejecting God.
After the first part of our text, and before the second, Samuel met Saul. God revealed Saul to be his choice for the first king. Samuel secretly anointed Saul.
2. Acclamation of a King
1 Samuel 10:17-24
At some time after meeting with the elders, Samuel summoned the people to Mizpah. This is where Samuel had orchestrated a victory over the Philistines that solidified his leadership role as the judge of Israel.
Samuel then begins a speech echoing Moses' farewell speech, giving Israel insight and instruction for a future without Samuel. God had done so much for the people of Israel! But they had rejected him. Our book says this may have been a call to repentance.
Samuel then had the people come forward to find the new king. Casting lots was a way of recognizing that God was making his choice. Proverbs 16:33 gives the view that it is the Lord who controls the outcome. In such a situation, one marked object was placed in a container with other items that were similar. The marked item was God's choice.
First, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. This was unexpected because Benjamin was the smallest and least influential of the tribes. Then, Matri's clan was chosen. Finally, Saul, son of Kish, was chosen. But he could not be found. He had hidden among the supplies.
When Saul was brought forward, he was head and shoulders taller than anyone else. Our book says that his physical stature may have been a reassuring sight for someone the people expected to be a military leader.
At the end of our passage, the people shout, "Long live the king!" This is a prayer to the Lord. Though the people's desire was at its heart a rejection of the Lord, they did not desire to lose the Lord's blessings and protection.
Despite the people rejecting him, the Lord chose not to abandon them. He sometimes punished them, but he continued to love his people and work through them.
The same goes for us. We may make decisions that do not always follow God. But God does not abandon us or stop working through the church. He has the power to use even our worst decisions for his glory.
Samuel and the elders were concerned for Israel's future, but they had very different plans for how to alleviate that worry. Similarly, leadership in churches look for the future of their congregations and of the worldwide church. When considering our plans, we must not discount the warnings of godly people who do not share a majority opinion. We have an ally in this endeavor that Israel did not: the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer.
Lord God, forgive us when we value our judgment over yours. Help us examine our hearts and overcome those motivations that are a rejection of you. May we seek clarity from the Lord in every decision, resisting worldly wisdom so that we can continue to live out our calling as the priesthood of believers. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
What situations tempt you to embrace cultural norms that contradict your identity in Christ?
What strategies can you employ to go to the Lord with your anger and frustrations instead of losing your temper in the moment?
What memories of God's goodness have encouraged you in times when trusting the Lord was especially difficult?
This week's benediction is from the New Revised Standard Version.
Next week's lesson will be on 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
Today’s guest speaker is Rev. Don Austin.
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. All joys and concerns that we know, as well as our continuing prayer list is within the Joys and Concerns. Announcements can be found at the bottom of this service.
Hymn: He Touched Me
Call to Worship
O Lord You have searched me, and You know me.
Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the seas even there Your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast.
We are so happy that you are continuing to join us in online Sunday School.
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to think about your past week, and what joys and concerns you have. You can share these in the comments if you would like. When you are ready, the prayer below is based around Psalm 84. As in previous weeks, suggestions for prayers are written between the verses of the Psalm.
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. All joys and concerns that we know, as well as our continuing prayer list is within the Joys and Concerns. Announcements can be found at the bottom of this service
Hymn: Jesus Calls Us O'er the Tumult
Call to Worship
When I think of God's presence in the world, I am grateful. Grateful for the presence of hope; grateful for the gift of life. And when I think of the presence of God in my life, I am humbled. Humbled by the gift of grace; humbled by the invitation to begin again each day. And when I think of God's presence in this community, I am glad. Glad to be surrounded by holy people that are worshipping out holy God. On this Sabbath morning in mid-August, we thank you Lord for your presence and your incredible grace that is a free gift to each of us. We ask all these things on this Sunday morning in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.