Week 11 of The Story: Sheperd to King – Little Things

We have been journeying through The Story and here is one theme in God’s Upper Story that continues to reappear again and again.  God chooses to do the most amazing things using the most unlikeliest of people and situations.  From a slave named Joseph, to an elderly couple, to a man named Moses who could not speak,  to Rebecca, and Ruth a foreigner, and Boaz the son of a prostitute.  It seems that every time the Lower Story which is our story is caught up in drama, and seems stuck in sin God redeems his people using the least likely people to do his work and today’s story about David and Goliath is no different.

Here is the question to ponder as you read chapter 11, or as you read 1 Samuel chapters 16 and 17.

How big is your God?

Another way to think of this is to think about how big your God box is?

How does your understanding of what God can do in your life limit or expand your ability to see the possibilities that exist in the people around you?

Sunday we will see how size matters in the Upper Story but not in the Lower Story.



Chapter 9: Ruth – Stranger in a Strange Land – recap

In reflecting on this past weeks message I am reminded of the amazing way that God works.  Let me explain, we began this series on the Bible nine weeks ago, and even before that when we chose to go through this 31 week series God was working it out so that on this the ninth week when the title of the sermon was A stranger in a strange land there would indeed be a stranger in our midst.   Not necessarily a stranger to people in the church but someone who had not previously attended church.  I want to give thanks to God because the key point of the sermon was that “God is at work” and indeed God is truly at work and I for one can’t wait to see what God has in store for next week.

May we as a body of Christ – the church continue to reach out in love and grace to the strangers in our midst.  To those who do not know Christ, to those like Ruth who are single mom’s, to those like Naomi who are bitter about life, so that God may receive the glory.

Chapter 10 of The Story: Standing Tall, Falling Hard: Choices!

I want to welcome you back for this the tenth chapter of The Story, the Bible in a narrative or story format.   We have been journeying through the period of the Judges now for several chapters and if anything is to be said about Israel – God’s chosen people its this “they just don’t seem to get it”.   Six times they are sent a judge to rescue them from oppression and six times they slip back into their sinful ways.  Sadly, we are really no different than Israel, even when we have a leader we often don’t get it. Like Israel we believe that its ok to “bend the rules” to slide in life, as long as no one gets hurt.  Like the Israelites then with their worshiping of Baal, the fertility goddess, we pursue what pleases us and makes us happy harder than we pursue God.

This week we once again find Israel in turmoil their judge Eli has lost his will to guide his family according to God’s law, God then raises up a young boy named Samuel to lead his people and he does that well and yet as he enters retirement Israel  decides that it no longer needs a judge to lead it rather things would be better if they had a king.  After all the nations all around them have kings and they seem to be prospering.  There is some irony in this Israel has God not only that but God communicates with them in person, does miracles on their behalf, speaks to their judges,  and they want to replace Him with a human king.

Sadly, Israel “still doesn’t get it”, and 2000+ years later I wonder if we “get it”. How easy is it for us to replace God in our lives with idols, hobbies, work, kids, stuff,……  How easy is it for us to, like Israel look out over the neighborhood and begin to think “if only I had a ____________ then I’d be happy.”  How easy is it to become distracted and take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to focus on other things in life.

Israel wanted to be in control of their destiny and they thought that choosing a king would allow them to be like all their neighbors, strong and prosperous.   Saul looked good on the outside, and yet he failed miserably as a king because he chose not to follow God’s instructions.    Likewise when we choose to have someone or something other than God sit on the throne of our life we will like Saul will fall and fall hard in life and in relationships.  Key to life is making our relationship with God the focus of each day. As Saul found out this relationship with God is not one we can maintain on our own we need God and the body of Christ – the church to hold us accountable.  Like Israel and like Saul we often don’t want to listen and follow what God wants us to do.

When do you find it hard to obey and follow God’s call on your life?

This first question raises the next which is; ” Who sits in the drivers seat of your life?”

Lastly, do you ever like Israel find yourself making choices that pull you away from your relationship with God and with the church?

What is one way you can choose to place God squarely in the drivers seat of your life?

What is one way you can help the people of God – the church to stay focused on Jesus Christ and to live out his call on our lives to Love God and to Love our neighbor  so that the lost might be found?


The Story Chapter 9: Bitter and Sweet

Has your life ever taken an unexpected twist?  Have you ever felt like a stranger?

In this weeks story from The Bible we find a woman named Naomi, whose name means “beautiful and sweet” who has found love with a man named Elimelek.  They have two sons and all is well except then a famine comes upon the land and they decide to travel to the land of Moab in hopes of finding food and the means to survive.  They not only do but her sons find for themselves wives. For Naomi life is surely “sweet” and she is probably dreaming of grandchildren.  When life takes and unexpected twist she loses her husband and her two sons.  Now Naomi is in a very dangerous situation and one of her daughter-in-laws Ruth decides to stay with Naomi instead of going back to her people. Instead they travel back to Naomi’s people in Bethlehem.

Upon her return Naomi tells her family to call her by the name Mara, which means bitter.  Having lost her husband and her two sons and thus all means to support herself it is no wonder Naomi is bitter.  Plus she has left whatever home she would have made not once but twice.  She is simply mad at God, angry at the world, bitter.  Life has changed and not in the fashion that she had imaged it would or should change. Bitterness has consumed her and so she says call me Mara.

This is the Lower Story in todays  chapter in the book of Ruth, a story of loss and bitterness.  Perhaps this is or has been your story as well.  Upper Story – GOD’s story in the midst of this story is that God is always seeking to redeem his people even when they turn from Him.  Laura Story writes in her song “Blessings” these words:

……….what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

She is writing of a difficult truth that GOD can and does use what is bitter in this world for His good.  Here is as they say “the rest of the story” of Naomi and Ruth, they meet a relative named Boaz and he marries Ruth redeeming the family when they have a son named Obed.  And it turns out redeeming all of us for Obed is the grandfather of a boy named David, king David and this story should now sound pretty familiar and pretty sweet for from the line of David comes a baby named Jesus Christ.


How has your perspective on difficult life experiences changed through your experiences or through reading the story of Ruth?

How has God used difficult life experiences, or the bitterness in your life to draw you closer to him?