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God's Fullness For an Empty World - Part 2 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2020 12:00 am

God's Fullness For an Empty World - Part 2 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

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November 9, 2020 12:00 am

“And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men” (1 Samuel 4:2).

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O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise, Thou glories of my God and King, Thou triumphs of his grace.

This is LeSaire Bradley, Jr., welcoming you to another broadcast of the Baptist Bible Hour. Come, Thou fount of every blessing, to my heart to sing Thy praise. Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melody of sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the Mount, O fixed beyond it, Mount of God's unchanging love. Here I raise my ever-nesseth, bither by Thy help I come.

And I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when I'm stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He to save my soul from danger, interposed his precious blood. O to grace Thou great a ghetto, daily I'm constrained to be. Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to be the God I love.

Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. There are times that we have a special sense of our need. We feel very empty and barren and wonder how God would ever use us.

Well, it's encouraging to know that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, so we can trust in Him for the fullness that we so desperately need. Today we bring you the second part of a message entitled God's Fullness for an Empty Vessel. These are brought keenly aware of the point at this time that they need the Lord. Verse 4 says, Then the children of Israel did put away Balaam and Ashtaroth and served the Lord only. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to misbe, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.

Notice the sequence of events here. There's a call from the prophet to return, return. Sometimes I talk to people and say, Well, I feel that I've strayed, gone so far away. I don't know if the Lord would ever hear me again.

I feel like it may just be a hopeless case. But I love to see how many times the prophets of the Old Testament use that word return. Find it frequently in the writings of Jeremiah, talking to a people who had forsaken the Lord, gone astray, gone down a path toward idols, return, return, return.

What does it mean? If a person who has gone astray is returning, they're doing what? They're repenting. Repentance is a change of mind. It's a change of heart.

It's a change of direction. It's not just a lot of idle words saying, Well, yes, I've done wrong, or if I've done anything wrong, forgive me. No, it's a matter of saying I am wrong. I have done wrong.

I have gone the wrong direction. I'm acknowledging it, saying with the psalmist that thou art justified when thou speakest. In other words, I'm not going to complain against the corrective rod of the Lord. I'm not going to suggest that God is being unfair to me because of the consequences that I'm suffering as a result of my own sin. I'm coming to him with true confession that I acknowledge my sin, but in repentance I'm turning from it. There's a change.

I'm not going to continue down the same path. After the prophet calls upon them to return, there is a response in that the people do put their false gods away and serve the Lord. And then the next thing comes prayer.

He gathers the people together and he is praying for them under the Lord. Surely we know that's an essential part of any time of great spiritual awakening. We gave several messages from the book of Acts over the past weeks. Over and over again we pointed out how in the book of Acts there is a record of really what is called the Acts of the Apostles. It's really a record of what the Holy Spirit of God was doing in the lives of the apostles and in the lives of those who were followers of Jesus Christ and how he was anointing and blessing the church in that day.

And that's the need of our day. Nothing else can take the place of the Holy Spirit of God. We need his blessing upon us. And when we see the pattern that is established even in Old Testament times, I understand that we're under grace and not under law. I understand that we don't go to the Old Testament to try to set the example and pattern for the practice of the New Testament church. We've got to draw that from the New Testament itself.

But 1 Corinthians chapter 10 tells us these things were written before time for our learning and admonition. There's some tremendously important lessons to be learned from what God was doing with his people in olden times. And certainly in this lesson we can quickly see that if we hope to have God's rich blessings upon us, if we want to see him delivering us from our enemies or blessing us in a day when there is evil rampant around us in this ungodly world and that the church have a great testimony, the light being shining out into the dark places, we've got to come in very much the same way they came. Because you recall as we look at those lessons in the book of Acts that in Acts chapter 1 before the Spirit of God did descend upon them in special measure on the day of Pentecost, what was the church doing? They were praying.

They weren't trying to come up with new plans and schemes. They were praying. And they met there in prayer until the Spirit of God visited them.

So here there is a call for return. There's a response on the part of the people in putting their false gods away. And now there is prayer. In verse 6 it says, Back a few months ago, we studied on a couple of different Wednesday nights here. The 58th chapter of the book of Isaiah that talks about what the real significance of a fast is. You see there were times that the people were going through the routine of a fast when they missed the whole significance of it. Fast was never designed as a method of gaining favor before God. The Pharisees approached it in that light. They disfigured their faces to appear unto men to be fasting. They wanted to get some credit for it.

They wanted somebody to look at me and say, My, what a self-sacrificing individual that is. He said, that's not what it's all about. It certainly was never designed to deprive the body of its proper nourishment. It was never designed as being a method by which we manipulate God and obligate Him to do something for us. But when we learned there in Isaiah 58 that the people in that day, while denying themselves for a period of time physical nourishment, they missed the point as to what was really to go on inside. You see, He says there that instead of you really observing the fast that I have chosen, which means to undo the heavy burdens and to put away the fist of wickedness, instead of you depriving yourself of your own sinful inclinations, you think because you have gone through the outward motions of the fast that all is well. And He goes on to talk about it from a positive standpoint as to the things you ought to be doing, one of which was to bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.

So we need always to look at the whole scope of scripture and understand the intent and purpose behind such matters. So they came before the Lord acknowledging, we have sinned. And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together in Mizpeh, the Lord to the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.

See the contrast? Back in chapter 4, once they got the ark present, they weren't afraid. They went out there. They were shouting.

The earth rang. Great! We're in good shape. We got the ark.

Everything is going to be fine. I tell you, after recalling the defeats of the past, understanding how much they needed the Lord, God's people are concerned. And so verse 8 says, And the children of Israel said unto Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that He will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. Yes, we've had prayer, but we're going to have to have it again. We appreciate the fact that the prophets already sought the Lord and prayed on our behalf, but when we hear the rumblings over there in the camp of the enemy and we know what they're capable of doing, we know how much we need the Lord, pray for us.

Cease not to pray for us. See, that's the difference in a proud, boastful spirit and one that's truly humbled. The individual that comes to the end of himself and says, I know that I'm weak and I need God's strength. I know that I cannot successfully fight the battles of life.

I must have His help. I must remember the battle is the Lord's. That individual is praying and asking others to pray for him or her. I've pointed out a number of times how we pray frequently and I think it's in order that we do for those that are sick and have special physical needs. And I understand that many of the other types of problems that people face in life are not such that might be announced in detail at a Sunday morning service. But I'm sure that there are multitudes of issues in people's lives even more burdensome and significant than physical problems that need prayer. And we ought to be willing, if not publicly, at least among some of our own trusted friends to be able to open up and share with them some of our burdens and request their prayers.

And be ready always to pray for one another, not just for physical blessing, but for the other heavy burdens that are born. These people were saying to the prophet, don't cease to pray for us. Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it for a burnt offering holy unto the Lord. And Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel and the Lord heard him. It's interesting that he took the lamb. By this he's acknowledging Israel has no merit.

Israel has no righteousness. It is necessary that there be given a sacrifice. And of course from the very beginning, from the sacrificial lamb that was offered by Abel all through the Old Testament scriptures to the offering of the Passover lamb itself. All of that pointed to the coming of Jesus Christ who is the lamb of God. When John the Baptist finally comes on the scene and says, behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Jesus Christ was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world and the mind and purpose of God. And then ultimately died at Calvary, the lamb dying for sinners.

What does that mean? To look to the cross, to look to Jesus Christ, to view him as the sacrificial lamb. We're saying by that I am a sinner. I have no righteousness to offer.

I'm praying that thy blessings will be bestowed upon me for Jesus sake. Samuel is saying here by the slaying of this lamb, Israel is not upright. Israel is not righteous. Israel doesn't deserve thy blessing.

But by the blood sacrifice, we're asking for mercy. The Lord heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day and the Philistines were disconfited and they were smitten before Israel. I tell you I love these Old Testament stories to see how God works.

The Lord didn't have to bring in a big army to defend them. He just sends enough thunder to confuse them and frighten them and send them running. I've heard some pretty fierce thunder in my day.

I'm sure you have too. In fact we had some just a few days ago that it just was rattling the windows in our house. And there have been times when I've heard thunder that, I mean, it was just frightening to hear it.

Well, I don't know to what degree this was, but it was strong enough that these brave soldiers were confused, disturbed and not able to stand in battle. Now, aren't you glad to believe in a God like that? You know, you can plan and connive and scheme about how you're going to try to solve all your problems and you're going to win all your battles.

And many times all you do is muddy up the water and make it worse. And then you pray, Lord, I have no merit. I have no righteousness. I plead the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. I plead His merit.

I pray that I will take charge and that I would work in this matter. And sometimes He no doubt works in ways that we never see, but once in a while He lets us see what He's doing. And we just stand in amazement. So I couldn't have worked that out no matter how hard I tried.

I never would have even thought of it, much less been able to work it out. And look what the Lord has done. Look how God has maneuvered this thing on my behalf. It would really be interesting sometime to do a study of just some of the major events of history where significant differences have been made, hinged on what seemed to be an insignificant event. Just some small turn in one direction or another made a difference as to who was going to be president. What army was going to win a battle?

Just on and on the list could go. Well, of course, you see it right here in God's Word. And believing in the sovereignty of God gives you such reassurance, such hope, such a foundation to stand on. How wonderful to believe that the God that we worship has all power. And whether it's the Philistines, or whether it's a modern day enemy, or whether it's a group of terrorists, whoever it might be, God is able to intervene.

Well, if He is, why doesn't He do it every time? Well, we don't know the mind of the Lord, but just knowing that He's able, knowing that there's nothing out of His control gives us great assurance. The Lord thundered and therefore the Philistines were discomfitted and Israel smote them. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and smote them until they came to Bethgar. Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shin and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. So the Philistines were subdued and they came no more into the coast of Israel and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. When the victories won, they're very quick to acknowledge where the blessing came from. Samuel takes a stone, sets it up as a memorial and says we'll call it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

See, the contrast between their initial boastful shout back in chapter 4. All we got to do is make a little adjustment here. We'll just interject our plans. We'll just send for the ark. We'll get this thing fixed. Oh, here's the ark. We're in good shape.

Yes, sir, everything's going to be fine. I tell you, it's dangerous for us as individuals. It'd be dangerous for us as a church and a people to get to that kind of a place. You remember in the letters to the seven churches of Asia, the church says we're rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing. I find people who are very resistant to the idea that there could ever be a problem, a need, even within a church or a group of churches to acknowledge that we're weak.

We failed in some areas. We need to come before God in confession. It's like if you raise such a question, it's as though you have challenged the fundamentals of the faith.

Such is not the case. How can you read the New Testament and not come to grips with the reality that churches at various times strayed? How can you read the Word of God, Old Testament or New Testament without seeing that there was a constant call for returning, for repenting where there was any wavering, any stumbling along the way to return to the narrow path? I had an article in the Baptist Witness a few months ago giving a little further insight as to what that passage means. In the book of Jeremiah where he says, ask ye for the old paths, where is the good way? Walk therein and you shall find rest for your souls. And when you study out the language fully and get the context, he's not just talking about the old paths, he's talking about coming to that way where that proper path can be identified.

How is it going to be identified? It's not going to be identified just because you say, well, this is an old path so that must make it alright. There are a lot of ways in this world today that are ancient that are also wrong. Error has been around almost as long as truth.

Go back to the Garden of Eden. God spoke words of truth. He says, in the day ye eat of this forbidden fruit ye shall die.

Satan came along shortly thereafter and said, you won't die. Error came right along on the heels of truth. And a lot of error has been in the world for all these many generations. But what is the standard when you're asking for the old paths, where is the good way? What is the signpost? What's the thing that makes the determination? What the Word of God says.

Not a matter of personal comfort, personal preference, this is what I think, this is what somebody else said. What does the Word of God say? So there was a boastful shout in the beginning, but then a humble cry.

As the people acknowledge we need help and Samuel begins to pray on their behalf. Poured out water as a symbol of their weakness. Here we are, our enemy is at hand.

We have these memories of those numbers of our soldiers that have died on the battlefields in days past. Lord, we need the, we're like water poured out, we're weak as water. You ever get to that place in life where you just feel like that's about the way I am. I don't feel like I've got the strength, I haven't got the ability, I'm weak as water.

Well, as bad as it is to feel that way, it's a safer place than when you're feeling like you're strong and you can whip the world and you can handle it and you're going to just make it on your own. And so we see that as the people confess their sins, acknowledge their unworthiness, God enters the scene. Paul asks the question in Romans chapter 8, if God be for us, who can be against us? With God on their side, it didn't matter how many Philistines there were, it didn't matter how brave their soldiers were, it didn't matter what kind of weapons of warfare they had at their disposal. With God for Israel, nobody could defeat them. And if we just keep that in mind, if we are seeking the Lord and following Him, we can have hope and courage, not in ourselves, but in Him alone.

The former was just a pretense. The vain shout was something that was without foundation, without meaning. It's just a people trying to develop a good, positive attitude and feel good about themselves, but it brought them to miserable defeat. The world today applauds the self-confident, the self-sufficient, those who are reliant on their own ability and strength, but in the Word of God, we see that the Lord is mindful of and ready to bless those with a humble spirit, with a broken heart. Those who come before Him in weakness acknowledging we have no strength.

When Israel took the low place, then the thunder was heard. If we want to see God at work in our lives personally, if we want to see the Lord doing things in our own families, if we want to see the Lord doing great things in our church, if we want to see the Lord doing great things wherever He is pleased to work today, let's remember the position we have to take. We come before Him in humility. Lord, we're not boasting. We have nothing to glory in in ourselves, but we glory only in the Lord.

We don't want to become self-sufficient. We don't want to become boastful as though all is well with us because of our superior knowledge or conduct or whatever else it might be that we would try to offer before Him. We come before Him as water poured out. Lord, we're weak, but Thou art strong. We need Thee and Thou has promised that when we call upon Thee, Thou would hear us. I pray that the reality of the experience that we see in these two chapters by way of vivid contrast will be understood in our own minds and hearts and lived out in our lives individually. We as a church can bear in mind that any time we would elevate ourselves with a sense of sufficiency or superiority, even as Israel did in this first account, it can only bring us to destruction.

But although Israel had sinned and there were great faults and failures to be properly attributed to them, when they confessed their sin and they looked to the sacrifice that was made, symbolic of the mercy that's bestowed on the greatest sacrifice, through the greatest sacrifice, Jesus Christ, they sought the Lord and God answered. Not in any way that they could ever have imagined. I'm sure they never would have thought to pray, Lord, would you please, when we get ready for the battle, send a big thunder and frighten the enemy.

I'm sure that wasn't in their mind. And often the way that the Lord hears our prayers and answers is not what we have expected and anticipated. But may we earnestly seek Him and pray, Lord, in Thy time and in Thy way, send Thy blessing, and may it be done in a way that all will recognize it is God's work. For God is magnified as He moves in a manner that becomes evident. This is not by human schemes and efforts, but by the power of the sovereign God in whom we trust.

May we trust Him all the more. Today we brought you the concluding part of a message, God's fullness for an empty vessel. If you'd like to get this complete message on CD, request it when writing us at Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Till we greet you next time, this is LeSaire Bradley Jr. bidding you goodbye and may God bless you. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, praising my Savior all the day long.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 08:35:34 / 2024-01-29 08:45:04 / 10

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