Not to Complain…

Read Psalm 38 to start.

Two Sundays ago, when I was asked to preach this morning, I had no particular sermon topic in mind. Sometimes I have ideas and notes well in advance that are waiting for the right time or for some inspiration before preparing a sermon. There have been times I’ve carried around an outline of a few points to use in a future sermon scribbled on the back of a bulletin tucked in the front of my Bible for months before I use them. Well, this time I didn’t have any of those. I had no idea what I was going to preach about today. But I trusted that God would give me something to say, and hopefully with enough time to prepare something coherent. Nothing came to mind immediately, though. I had a complete blank.

Then God showed me a sign.

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Stuff My Kids Have Said, Volume One

We’re probably all familiar with one of the incarnations of Kids Say the Darndest Things. It’s a rather contrived show, but it is true that children says some interesting, outlandish, and frankly inexplicable things. But also amusing things. At least my children do, and I’ve kept track of some of the best comments they have made. Everything below is a statement one of my children have made, quoted verbatim, along with their age and the context.

Kids, I’m sorry for this in advance.

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Motives and murder

Read 2 Samuel 3: 17-31 to start

This evening we’re going to be looking at an Old Testament character with a dark history. I could spend the entire time reading verses where he is mentioned and where his actions are described, both positive and seriously negative, but for the sake of time I’ll try to only read short sections as applicable.

The person I would like to look at is Joab. An Israelite general, specifically the commander of David’s army, and a competent, brave, and successful leader, we see Joab time and time again in the books of 1 Chronicles and 2 Samuel in particular. One of three sons of David’s sister Zeruiah, Joab was a valiant leader. He led the capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and conducted a number of successful military campaigns against hostile foreign neighbours. He also provided good advice to David on a number of occasions, such as in dealing with Absalom, and in the census of the people in 2 Samuel chapter 24. But as we saw a moment ago, Joab was also a murderer, and it is that aspect of the man that I would like to consider this evening. There are four specific accounts of murders that Joab committed, with four different motives, and we are going to look at each of those this evening.

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Be Ye Separate

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-7:1 to start.

I know what you are probably thinking, and yes, this might sound familiar. That’s because I spoke on this same passage last month. You might remember, the topic was unequal yokes, about believers being joined in partnership with unbelievers, and how problematic that is. There is more to the passage than that, I only discussed a few of the verses that we read. Today we are going to look at something different, although something no less important.

You might also remember how I talked about cars and tractors, and how they are not the same, they are not compatible. Don’t worry, this morning I’m not going to talk about cars or tractors. I’m going to talk about boats.

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Unequal yokes

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:18 to start.

As you probably know, I have four children. There are some things they know, and some things that they don’t. When I think about things that they should know, sometimes I recall certain spiritual principles that I have been taught, some of which might seem very basic, and some that I have heard perhaps many times, but that I’m not sure how solid a grasp my children have on them. I don’t know for certain how solid a grasp any of the young people here would have on these principles, or for that matter, what level of understanding the adults listening this morning would have, or could use a refresher on. There are a lot of things that we can likely all use a reminder about from time to time, after all.

The principle that I would like to consider this morning is the idea of an unequal yoke. It’s a familiar one to me, one that I recall being cautioned about in my younger years on many occasions. This was something that was brought up at Youth Group as something to be exceedingly wary about. And this may well be something you’ve heard before and understand, or something that you may be thinking “Eh, what’s the big deal?” or something that you don’t know about at all. But before we get into that, some information. About vehicles, to be exact.

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Squeaky wheels

Read Luke 18:1-8 to start.

As you probably know, I have four children. They’re pretty great kids, not perfect, but of course neither am I. They are good at some things, but others, not so much. One thing they are generally good at is asking for things. And when I say ‘good at’ what I mean is persistent. Their actual asking skills, well, those can be hit and miss at times. But when my children want something, they generally ask for it. Sometimes they ask only once. But then there are other times when they ask so many times it more than makes up for it.

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Stave it off

Read Hebrews 9:1-10 and 10:1-4 to start.

Long, long ago, way back in 2001, some friends and I discovered a silly website called Homestar Runner. For several years they put out weekly three minute long cartoons, occasionally longer items, which were generally amusing and entertaining. The creators funded it by selling merchandise, I still have at least one or two of their t-shirts.

One cartoon they did in I think 2004 was a parody of children’s TV shows, and featured a ridiculous song about counting. It went like this, “Stave it off, one two three, and now you can count to three.” The joke was that then it was going to be repeated fifty times, which of course would be annoying and pointless, so it ends after the song plays just twice more.

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No Turning Back

Proverbs 12: 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.  

Normally I like to start with a longer scripture reading, and I do have some passages to share a bit later, but first, a story. Last Saturday I took some kids, one which was one was my own, to Cavendish for paintball. Because of the construction taking place on the way to Charlottetown, I thought it would be a good idea to avoid that area, and go via Mount Stewart. Google Maps told me that it was about the same distance, maybe 3 or 4 minutes longer, and avoiding construction delays and traffic seemed a great idea. So we went that way.

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Read the Manual

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-8, 14-17 to start.

I have bad news for everyone today. Things, and this may come as a surprise, things are not perfect. This year has not gone entirely according to plan, and it’s not over yet, we have two months and change to go. We have a Saturday night full moon Halloween ahead of us that also falls on the night daylight savings time ends, so it’s the longest night of the year, so that’s sure to be something special. But in general, things have been rather rough for a lot of people. It’s been a challenging year. Frankly, many people have found the last number of years to have more obstacles and roadblocks and setbacks than would seem fair and reasonable. This year, however, seems to have set new heights, or perhaps lows, for trouble and difficulty. There is no question in my mind that these are perilous times.

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Why Doesn’t God Just Fix Everything?

Read Job 38 to start.

We’re probably all reasonably familiar with the story of Job, how God allowed Satan to test Job, how Job remained faithful even when faced with severe personal loss, physical anguish, an unhelpful spouse and critical friends, and how eventually Job needed to learn that God is in control, and that Job was not quite as righteous as he first assumed. That’s where we joined the story, at the start of God’s reply from the whirlwind, where God lists the various marvels of creation, of the earth and indeed of the heavens as well. You might be wondering why I started there, near the end of the story, if I was going to preach about Job. There’s a good reason for that. It’s because this is not a sermon about Job. His story simply serves as the background.

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