The Story Week 17: Faithfulness in the midst of Failure.

This week we pick up the Story and the Northern kingdom has fallen, Hezekiah’s son Manasseh has just become king of the Southern kingdom and sadly he is not like his father.  He neither loves God nor does he follow the Law of Moses in any way.  He is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.  God sends Babylon to judge the Southern kingdom and ultimately take them away into captivity and destroy the Temple.

In the midst of the rubble of a destroyed Jerusalem, a world turned upside down God sends the prophet Jeremiah to weep over the remains, and to point to what God was going to do in the person of Jesus Christ.   There was one catch God also told Jeremiah that the people wouldn’t listen to his words.   Just as Israel refused to head God’s commandments.

I wonder how many of us are willing to commit 100% to the role God has given us play in his Grand Story.  To the place, ministry, community into which we have been place?    Each of us has a role to play and Paul writes again and again that we are to remember that we do for Jesus Christ in as much as we make Paul’s joy complete we make Christ’s joy complete.


In what way do you need to confess your sins and turn the focus from you and your needs and instead focus on the things of God?


How has a difficult circumstances ended up been a blessing?

The Story Chapter 16 / Adopt a Revolutionary Motto for Your Life

  In the early formation of our nation George Washington had the opportunity to become king of the burgeoning nation.  But given the young nation’s experience with England and because he had a robust prayer life he knew there was only one King, so he declined the offer. 

 The people of the land apparently knew the same.  In a 1774 report to King George, the Governor of Boston noted: ”If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.” The pre-war Colonial Committees of Correspondence soon made this the American motto: “No King but King Jesus.”[1]

 The story of God’s chosen people might have gone very differently had they chanted the same motto.  Instead, they wanted a king.  Over the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah there were thirty-eight kings.  Only five of them were good. Of the others a refrain heard throughout the Old Testament goes like this: “They did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”  

 Prophets appeared exhorting the people to turn back to God. God spoke through one prophet—Isaiah—to tell the people of Judah that they would be captured and deported to Babylon but afterward he would bring them back home.  The purpose? “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.  Then the whole human race will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isaiah 49:23).

 In Isaiah 53 the prophet depicts the coming Messiah. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53: 2, 3).  God did not want the people to miss him.  But they did.  And still do.

 Our nation would have gone a much different route had Washington agreed to be king.  But he seemed to know what many others didn’t.  When we displace God on the throne of our lives, the outcome will go horribly wrong.  But when we put God on the throne in our lives, we put ourselves in the best possible position for godly success. 

 Maybe our American ancestors knew the best way to start a revolution.  Adopt the motto “No King but King Jesus” in your life.  See what changes that ignites in your life.

Here is the question we have to answer is Jesus really on the throne of our lives?  It has often been said down through the history of the church that the easiest way to measure this is to look at the description line in our check books, or look at your calender.  What consumes our time and our money sit on the thrones of our lives.
Question:Take a moment and look at your bank or credit card statement and your calender and write down what sits on the throne of your life.
What would it look like  “King Jesus”

[1] Idea from Randy Frazee’s sermon on The Story, Chapter 16. Reference from “Is America a Christian Nation?” CARL PEARLSTON


The Story: Chapter 15 – God Messengers

Can You Hear Him Now?

 Verizon Wireless created one of the most memorable marketing campaigns ever in 2005.  In their commercials a so-called ”test man,” accompanied by a crowd of network engineers, travels the country asking the simple question, “Can you hear me now?” in an ongoing exercise to determine the reliability of the mobile phone carrier’s network.

 The “catch phrase” caught on.  The company’s market share went up and employee turnover went down.  It seemed people could relate to the struggle to connect.  Folks were tired of dropped calls and unreliable communication systems.  And Verizon sent a message that they wanted desperately to connect with its subscribers and wanted its subscribers to be able to connect with each other.

 At the risk of selling Him short, God has done the same.  Even when the Kingdom had split in two, He kept sending His message.  He gave the people of the DividedKingdom some 208 years to decide whether they would “accept” or “reject” His call.  He sent His own “technicians” to get the message out.  We call them “prophets.” Thirty eight kings where spoken to by 9 prophets and only one kingdom would listen and it wasn’t Israel, it was Nineveh.

This week we will look at God’s Upper plan as told through the story of Elisha and the Shunamite women.  As God once again declares that he is present, redeeming what is lost, and bring life to what is dead we are once again faced with the same question that Israel was faced with.  Are we in the midst of our unfaithfulness, willing to stop and listen to God.  Or are you more likely to put God on hold or send him to voicemail?


1.   The prophets challenged the people of God to turn from their evil ways back to the Lord.  These messages were parts of God’s loving plan for the salvation of the world.  Have you ever had someone challenge you to change your ways for the better?  How do you receive such messages?

2.  What is preventing you from seeing and hearing God?

The Story: Chapter 14 / Pay Attention to the Ripple Effect

The decisions you make and the actions you take affect those around you.

Rehoboam learned that lesson the hard way. Rehoboam followed his father Solomon to the throne of Israel. Solomon had a high calling but low standards and he had exacted harsh labor on the people while biulding his palace and kingdom. A delegation, led by Jeroboam, went to the new king and asked him to take away the harshness, to give the people a break.

In private, Rehoboam asked his elder council what he should do. They advised that he become a servant to the people, lighten their load, and the people would always be faithful servants to the king.

His personal circle of younger friends gave him just the opposite advice. They told him to work the people harder. He liked that idea, told the delegation his plans, and wound up with a divided kingdom.

At one time or another all of us are impacted by someone else’s decisions or actions. Here is the Upper Story when we suffer the negative consequences of another’s wrongheaded decision, God can redeem the situation. Although Rehoboam wound up ruling only two tribes—Judah and Benjamin (as opposed to Jeroboam’s rule over ten tribes)—it was through Judah that Jesus came to us. God can work, and often does what seems to us as his best work, in situations that seem the most difficult.

We should always consider how our decisions and actions affect those around us. In “systems thinking” it is said that “you are the highest leverage point in any system you are in.” More simply stated, you can make a difference. You are more “powerful” than you think you are––no matter your station in life.

Clint Eastwood’s film Invictus tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s use of the South African rugby team to help heal a nation divided by apartheid. In one scene of the movie he explains to a team member, “Reconciliation starts here. Forgiveness starts here.” He knew his actions would have a ripple effect on those around him. Eventually the blessing of that “ripple” washed across the nation.

Rehoboam made a bad decision, but it was really his father Solomon’s actions that rippled outward and divided the kingdom. He forsook the one true God and chased after other “gods,” he neglected to serve the people and instead forced them to work harder, taxing them cruelly, and he was focused on himself, as reflected in his accumulation of wives, gold, and horses in direct disobedience to God’s counsel and words of instruction in Dueteronomy. His son Rehoboam was merely living out consequence of those decisions and actions, following the example that his father had set.

Learn from Solomon’s mistake. Love God first. Love others second. And serve those that do not yet know God. You will be surprised to see how far your ripple will travel.

Questions for the week:
Consider journaling your response to these questions
1. We may not bow down to pagan gods, but many things in our lives compete for our worship. What things in your life compete for your devotion to God?

2. Scripture reminds us that our actions will have a ripple affect to the seventh generation. Are your actions and choices impacting those around you in such a way that they are becoming willing followers of Christ, active not only in the church but also in their daily walk with the Lord?

January 5 – “The King Who Had it All” – week 13 of The Story

As we enter the first week of the New Year, we resume our journey through the Bible using The Story, the Bible in narrative or story form. Please join us each week as we together we strengthen our understanding of God’s Upper Story purpose in our Lower Story lives as we dig deep into the Bible.

This week we begin where we left off with King David turning over the kingdom to his son Solomon, born of his marriage to Bathsheba.  Solomon’s story brings back memories because he was granted what we all would like to have a special wish.  Some of us perhaps are old enough to remember the Sears or JC Penny Christmas Wish Book.  Filled with every imaginable toy that a kid could ever want.  When I was a kid the wish book helped answer the question “If you could have anything for Christmas what would it be.”  Today we have the internet and vivid computer screens to bring to life our dreams and wishes.

Solomon when faced with this question by God, chose not wealth, or material things he chose wisdom.  As a young man faced with ruling a vast kingdom that surely was a smart thing to choose, wisdom.  God granted him his wish and he was known far and wide for his wisdom and because of his gift he soon acquired incredible riches, wealth beyond imagination.  Here is the sad thing, over time while using God’s gift and accumulating wealth, fame, women Solomon forgot the giver.

Perhaps this story sounds familiar because you’ve heard it, or perhaps it sounds familiar because you like me have had times in your life when you’ve taken your eyes off the giver.  As you read chapter 13 in The Story, or 1 Kings 3-11 in your Bible ask yourself these questions.

Questions:  How have you allowed yourself to be distracted by the gifts that you have received?

What things in your life have lulled you into forgetting all about the giver, God?