Saturday, June 30, 2018



I want to begin with a little about the infamous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys that began during the 1800’s in Pike County Kentucky.
·        Mr. Perry Staton, a 93-year-old member of our Church, was raised in Pike County and is related to both the Hatfields and the McCoys.
·        In fact, a man named Bill Staton, an ancestor of Mr. Perry’s, was the first person killed in the feud.
·        Mr. Perry’s grandfather wrote an extensively documented account of the events leading up to the feud in a published book on the subject. I’ve read that book in which he lists all of the court documents and witness statements and several accounts from friends and neighbors.
·        Even though the descendants either don’t know or won’t agree with what caused the feud in the first place, they are still feuding. Here is a portion of one historian’s take on it and how it started, entitled:

The Real Reason the Hatfields and McCoys Started Feuding
June 15, 2015
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In the late 19th century, the Hatfields and McCoys were locked in a bloody, decades-long feud…

… the event that launched the now-infamous conflict—which claimed the lives of 13 family members—has taken a backseat to the fact of its impressive longevity. What caused the bad blood in the first place? A pig …

In 1878, Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing one of his hogs. The matter went to trial, with the star testimony coming from Bill Staton, a McCoy who married a Hatfield. Staton sided with Hatfield, and was later shot dead by Sam McCoy.

Generations later, the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s grandchildren and great grandchildren are still considered to be in a feud even though many of them can’t even agree on why the feud began in the first place. They were raised in a feud and have lived under the assumption that feuding is the way of life for them and have concluded that feuding is the only option.


Today we are talking about conclusions and how they can affect everything we think, believe and do and even affect future generations to come.

Let’s look back a little farther in history, back to about 1100 years Before Christ. There we find the account of the Children of Israel going to battle against the Philistines and losing possession of the Ark of the Covenant. You can read about it in 1 Samuel, chapter 4. (Allow me to catch us up …)

(Side Note: Michelob – Ichabod --- Tell the story all the way through Dagon’s beheading and the dedication of the threshold of his temple …)

Our text for today begins in:

1 Samuel 5
1 ¶  Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
2  When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
3  And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.
4  And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.
5  Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

The Philistines drew a stupid conclusion to the events they had witnessed. They concluded that the threshold was sacred and then began to worship it. Their decisions for their future and the future of their children were based on the wrong interpretation. (Just to note: in the medieval period, when Christianity became widely corrupted, the adoration of the thresholds  of churches was once again revisited. People would even bow and kiss them before entering concluding that the building or the institution had somehow become holy and the object of worship.

In the case of these Philistines, that’s what I call, “Stinking Thinking’.

Something was wrong with their interpreter … When we listen to the wrong voices we will make the wrong choices. Not everything that sounds or seems or is spiritual is Godly. The elder John wrote to us about that …

Everyone sees the same thing, but conclusions are subject to each individual’s personal interpretation.

For example, 10 out of 12 spies, like in the book of Numbers, chapter 14, will tell you that you the enemies are too big …
·        That you can’t trust God
·        That you are going to die
It seems rare to find people who can draw an accurate conclusion. Especially if they have already made up their minds and are looking for confirmation. It can be tough to accept that you have made a wrong conclusion.

What most often leads people to draw wrong conclusions?
·        Stubbornness
·        Pride
·        Hurt
·        Anger
·        History/Experience
·        Spiritual blindness
·        Hubris
·        Youthful Idealism
·        The pressure or the desire to run with the crowd
o   The Emperor’s new clothes
o   The 10 spies
o   The Philistines when it came to Dagon

Our conclusions control our decisions and ultimately control our actions.

There is a universal law that says:
·        You find exactly what you are looking for …
o   New Cars
o   Nobody likes me
o   Everybody loves me
o   Mexican Restaurants
·        We find what we are searching for and we search for validation of our conclusions.

There is a story about two men sitting on the porch of the General Store in a small West Virginia town. A car pulled up with a family of four and the dad rolled down his window to ask a question. It seems the family was wanting to relocate out of the city and wondered what kind of people lived in this particular town. When asked that question one of the old men answered with a question: “What kind of people live in the place where you’re coming from?” The reply from that family was that the people they were leaving were hard and harsh, unfriendly and not to be trusted. The second old man sitting on the porch spoke up and said, “That’s exactly the kind of people you’re going to find here in this town too.” With that, the window rolled up and the family drove off.

A little while later the same thing was repeated by another family looking to relocate. When they stopped and asked the question as to what kind of people lived in this town the same old man answered with the question: “What kind of people live in the town you folks are from?” The response was quite different. The family replied that the people in their community were kind and nice, friendly and supportive and that they just hated having to leave. That second old man spoke up again with the same answer … “Well, he said, that’s exactly the kind of people you’re going to find in this town too.”

We find what we are looking for and perhaps we even mostly find people who are just like us! Conclusions …

How do people draw conclusions? What do we use to decide what we are going to believe and how we interpret what is going on around us?
1.  Filters
2.  Fears
3.  Foregone Conclusions

Some of us have already made up our minds and drawn conclusions about:
·        Chevrolets
·        Foreigners
·        Policemen
·        Political Parties
·        Blondes
·        Men with beards
·        Preachers
It won’t matter how wrong we may be … Our foregone conclusions will find confirmations and will affect our decisions and be passed down to our children for generations to come … right up until somebody decides to break out of those fears, filters and foregone conclusions.

What can we do to insure we always have the best interpretation of anything we see, hear or experience?

We should always apply a generous amount of:
·        Mercy
·        Forgiveness
·        Love
·        Thanksgiving
·        Grace
·        Hope
·        Faith
·        Compassion
·        Kindness
·        Patience
To everything we hear and see.
1.  Change your filter
2.  Conquer your fears
3.  Let the Word of God establish your foregone conclusions

Like jelly on a piece of toast … every experience should always be tasted through the sweetness of God’s Word, God’s Will and God’s Way.

Tell me, what have you concluded about Jesus, the Church, the Bible, being a witness to others, heaven or hell? Do you have God’s interpretation, your own convictions or someone else’s opinion making decisions for you? Only what God believes and only His conclusions will stand the test of eternity.

Let’s make sure Jesus is not only our Savior but also our Lord. Then, let’s submit each day’s conclusions to Him and His Word and ask the Holy Spirit to become our interpreter, our teacher and our guide.

This is the daily will of God for you.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Time and Attention


Note: Set the stage with the account of Hannah praying to have a son after being barren for so many years. She promised God that she would dedicate her firstborn to Him and, “lend Him to the Lord”, as she put it, “all the days of his life.” Hannah conceived and bore a son she named Samuel. She raised Samuel with her commitment and with his purpose in mind. She wanted him to know that he had a special calling on his life. When he was weaned and old enough to serve, perhaps 8 to 12 years old, Hannah took Samuel to Eli, the high priest of the Israelites, who attended the Ark of the Covenant at the Tabernacle of the Lord in Shiloh. There she left her son to serve the Lord under the guidance of Eli the priest.

I encourage you to read the full account of these things in 1 Samuel, chapters 1 & 2. By the time the account gets to the point of our text for this morning, in Chapter 3, Samuel is thought to be about 12 years old. Let’s begin with verse one and I’ll make commentary all along the way and bring us to the points God wants us to ponder for our lives this morning.

As we survey our text today, let’s endeavor to remember two important principles:
1.  The story of Samuel was not written, preserved and handed down to us as a mere history lesson. This record is given to us as a road map for our lives and as such We will all be able to see ourselves somewhere in this account.
2.  As is always the case when we hear the Word of God, today’s lesson is intended to be about you, not about your best friends or worst enemies. So, continue to ask yourself the question, “How does this apply to me … and what should I do about it?”

1 Samuel 3 NKJV
1 ¶  Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

I’ve studied to see what the duties of young ministers in training were in those days. From about the age of 12 to the age of 20, Samuel’s ministerial duties most likely included waiting on the old priest as little more than a servant or a slave would. Eli had two older sons who took complete charge of the things thought to be more spiritual such as sacrifices and services. Samuel's ministry would have been limited to such things as:
·        Opening the doors of the Tabernacle and waking Eli each morning
·        Extinguishing the night lamps
·        Maybe he was allowed to attend morning prayers and then clean up
o   Sweeping the floors
o   Taking out the trash
·        Filling the buckets of coal for the altars
·        Filling the buckets of water for the laver
·        Filling the horns of oil for the ministry
·        Making and baking the bread for the table of the Lord
·        Welcoming the visitors and guests to the tabernacle
·        Noontime prayers
·        Serving and assisting the elderly Priest Eli during his daily duties
·        Attending services
·        Playing of musical instruments – harp; lyre; cymbals …
·        Singing praises to God during the services
·        Filling and lighting the lamps each evening
·        Evening Prayers
·        Cleaning up after the days sacrifices
·        Closing the doors and locking up for the night

Samuel was the usher, greeter, singer, musician, janitor, night watchman, altar boy, maintenance man, baby sitter and all-around servant of the house. Although Samuel’s linage was originally founded in the tribe of Levi, this branch of the family had moved away from ministry in times past and were not considered a part of the current holy priesthood of Israel.

2  And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see,

Eli was old and had poor eyesight. He needed someone to help him …

3  and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down,
4  that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”

This was evidently in the very early morning hours … Samuel heard a voice. He didn’t know it was the Lord … He thought it was Eli.

5  So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.

It was reasonable for Samuel to believe Eli had called him. The Bible tells us that Eli was a very large man and he was old and near blind. Perhaps he needed help getting up in the nighttime or wanted a drink of water.

6  Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”
7  (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)

Samuel was serving in the House of God and close to the priest of God but yet he himself did not know God. Samuel knew about God but did not have a personal revelation of God’s Word … He did not know the Lord.

8  And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy.
9  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Acknowledging the Lord and His call on your life or His voice to you in the nighttime is critical. Job 33 says that God speaks yet man does not know it.

10  Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
11 ¶  Then the LORD said …

Eli and his sons were in disfavor with God and yet Samuel was called by God to serve them anyway. God often uses people who aren’t perfect and those with problems to open doors for us. God is not afraid of sinners and He will use people who are not right with Him to help those who are. Nonetheless, God waited to speak to Samuel until Samuel was ready to listen.

If God can use a donkey to speak to His prophets, (Balaam in Numbers 22), then He can certainly use some of our friends, and perhaps even our enemies, to speak to us as well. As I said, God is not afraid of sinners.

So, what are some things we can learn from this account today?

1.   If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, you have to be the servant of all.
o   Not just serving the right and the righteous … but we must serve without respect of persons.
o   If you are faithful in that which belongs to another man, God will give you that which is your own.
o   If we are unwilling to serve sinners, whom will we ever win to Christ.
o   Our light is meant to shine in darkness, not in greater lights.
o   God positioned Samuel in the perfect place to hear His voice … it was a place of service in the House of God.
2.   Knowing about God and knowing God are two different things.
a.   Sitting in Church won’t make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage will make you a car. (John Osteen)
b.   Every person must have a personal relationship with God through the LORD … the same LORD who came and stood beside a young boy named Samuel and called out his name.
c.   The Church is not a refrigerator to preserve the things God has done but rather an incubator to hatch the things He yet wants to do.
d.   We must know God … and not just know about Him.
e.   More than knowing what He said and did in times past, we should hear what He is saying and know what He is doing today.
f.    God is a God of the right now.
3.   God does not have a problem speaking … it is we who have a problem hearing.
o   Give God your time and attention and you will hear His voice.

Remember: This word applies to you today. Where do you see yourself in this Bible account? You were also born with a purpose. God has been standing beside you and calling your name. Do you know Him or just know about Him? Give God your time and attention … you will hear His voice.

Close …