It snowed this week... but for only about a minute and a half. I miss real snow. And it’s supposed to be, like, 60 degrees this weekend...
On the plus side, that meant that it wasn’t very cold for our annual Neighborhood Caroling evening this week. We had a great turn-out for that this year, and the neighbors really appreciated it. In fact, one of our neighbors even sent an email to our church office, sharing how much it meant to him to have the carolers come by and simply share God’s love to him after the hard, stressful week that he’d been having.
Oh, and the Warren family lit the second Advent Candle in the service this week -- and I mean the whole Warren family. Even Sarah joined in with a recorded Scripture reading, all the way from Sweden. They spoke about the peace that God gives us -- not a peace like the world gives, but a peace that often comes through pain and strife, but that’s based on knowing that no matter what you’re going through, God loves you and will walk with you through it.
We also had our annual cookie exchange after the service, so I’d like to personally thank everyone who made such wonderful cookies -- and the two families who specifically gave me an extra bag of the cookies that they knew that I loved. You guys are great to your old pastor...
In our message this week, we continued our Advent series looking at Christ as the King of kings, and how He stacks up to the other kings that Israel had known.
Saul had looked impressive, but his heart was often far from God. So in 1 Samuel 13:14, God told him that He would replace Saul with a man whose heart beat alongside God’s heart -- and that man turned out to be David.
David still looked good (see 1 Samuel 16:12), but there was more to him than just that. When he came to the battlefield in chapter 17, he couldn’t stand there and hear Goliath bad-mouthing Israel and defying the army of God. Yes, he was interested in the reward for slaying Goliath, but his core issue was that he couldn’t let God’s honor get besmirched by a pagan.
David truly loved the Lord -- his heart was 100% sold-out to God. But then, David’s heart was pretty much always at the 100% mark. There was no “first gear” in David’s heart -- it was always “pedal to the metal,” all the time. When he loved, he loved fully... even if loving this woman meant hurting that woman, even if loving success meant hurting his friends, etc. In the end, pretty much everyone who’d ever loved David had come to hate David, because David did pretty much anything he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to do it.
It’s not that he didn’t care about God or about his sin -- it’s that he never really thought about things until after he did them, and that’s dangerous. Even having a heart for God is not itself a guarantee that what you do is going to automatically honor God -- you really have to consistently direct your heart by grounding yourself in God’s wisdom on a daily basis. When it comes down to it, the heart is deceitful, and once it starts deceiving you, you won’t be able to tell that it’s messing with you just by gauging your feelings. You have to check your heart against Scripture, against God’s wisdom, and you need to do that every day. The most dangerous heart in the world is in the person who’s so certain that they’re right that they never have to second-guess themselves.
Just look around today’s headlines, and you’ll see people emoting rather than thinking, whether they be politicians or radical extremists or college students or church leaders or 97% of the people who add their comments to the bottoms of online articles.
You can never honor God if your heart isn’t right with Him. But today, as an act of worship, let’s all try taking a step back and making sure that our hearts stay right with Him, instead of just assuming it...