Losing Faith

You Can Make Bad Choices When You Are Struggling With Your Faith.

Scott Kelly
Sep 20, 2020    33m
Have you ever found yourself struggling with your faith? When we get overwhelmed, we often feel the urge to take matters into our own hands rather than trusting God, this can lead to trouble. This message reminds us to turn to God and to trust Him to lead us in the right direction. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Scott Kelly: 00:00 It's so good to be with you. If we've not met, my name is Scott and I am grateful to have this opportunity to share with you. We want you to be praying for our pastor, ass he is away from us and resting, getting some time away to recharge his batteries, to be back with this next week. Now, if you are planning to be with us next week, I'm happy to let you know that we're going to kick off a brand new message series next week, called Reason For Hope. So we want to encourage you to join us for the next several weeks, we begin that next Sunday morning here at 9 o'clock and 11 o'clock. And I want to welcome those of you that are watching us online, thanks for taking time out of your schedule, to sit up, to pay attention, and to be with us as we open God's Word today.

Scott Kelly: 00:44 So I want to invite you if you would, to take your Bible and turn to First Samuel, we'll be in the Old Testament today. First Samuel, we'll be in chapter 13, and we're going to read together verses 8 through 12. First Samuel chapter 13, verses 8 through 12. Now it's our practice at Shandon to stand and honor the reading of the Word of God. If you're watching us online, we want to encourage you too, to stand if you would join us in honoring the Word of God, as we read together. If you don't have a Bible with you, or you're watching online, we're going to put the words on the screen for you this morning. First Samuel chapter 13, verses 8 through 12. The Bible says, "He..." Referring to King Saul, "Waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel the prophet, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering." What an extraordinary story we have for us in the Old Testament here in First Samuel chapter 13, let's pray together as we dive in.

Scott Kelly: 02:41 Well, Father, it's our joy to be in worship today, to gather and lift our voices to you. We are indeed children of God, those who have called upon Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. So Father, we pray that the truth and the power of this text, this passage, in this story and Saul's life would be both a warning to us as well as an encouragement to us. So Father, we ask that the truth of your word would do what you choose for it to do in our hearts today, and that is to transform us, conform us to the image of your son, Jesus, for we offer this prayer in his name. Amen. Thank you. You may be seated

Scott Kelly: 03:28 Well, a few years ago, a college coed sent her parents an email to update them on her first semester at a university, which was located several hundred miles away from home. And so I want to read the letter, or the email, that this young coed sent to her parents. Dear mom and dad, since I left for college, I have been remiss in writing and I am sorry for my thoughtlessness and not having written sooner. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read any further, I would encourage you to sit down. If you're not sitting down, please find a chair. Well, she continues. Well, I'm getting along pretty well now, the skull fracture and concussion I got when I jumped out of the window of my dormitory, when it caught fire shortly after my arrival here, is pretty well healed. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally, and only get sick headaches once a day. Fortunately, the fire was witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called 911. He also visited me in the hospital and since I had nowhere to live because of the fire, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him. It's a really small apartment, but it's kind of cute. He's a very fine boy. and we have fallen deeply in love. I don't have an exact date yet, but we're planning to get married later this year, once he gets permission from his parole officer. Well, the good news is she continues. Mom and dad. Now that you're up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire. I did not have a skull fracture or concussion. There's no boyfriend and I'm not engaged. However, I am getting a D in American history and an F in chemistry, and I wanted you to see those grades in their proper perspective. Your loving daughters, Sharon. Sharon may be getting an F in chemistry, but she is certainly getting an A in psychology don't you think?

Scott Kelly: 06:07 Well, whether we realize it or not, we are all just like Sharon's parents. Today's headlines and news feeds are being presented to manipulate you into thinking, feeling, and acting, in a very certain way. We're not only being told what is going on in the world, but also how we should think and feel about it. And I think it's very clear today that we live in a world, and I don't want to share this with you, that believes that what's happening is more important than what's true. That what's happening in the world, is more important than what's true. And that's what our culture would have us believe today. But the fact of the matter is it's how you respond to what's happening in the world today that reveals what's true to you. So this morning, I don't want to focus on the headlines. I think we've had enough of that global pandemic, civil unrest, social activism, political divisiveness, the disruption of the college football season.

Scott Kelly: 07:16 Let's get beyond all of that. Shall we? Because what I want to focus on this morning is what's going on inside of you, because that's what's important to God. If you look at the dashboard of our culture today, all the indicator lights are in fact, flashing, anxiety, anger, depression, divorce, suicide, all of that is on the rise. And the church, I'm sad to report, is not insulated from any of that. And so perhaps you have found yourself losing faith in recent months, faith in people, faith in institutions, our country, the church, and maybe if you're really honest, you've even lost some faith in God. Well, if that's true of you, then I want you to hang with us this morning, stay with the text this morning. Because we want to explore why that may be happening to you, and most importantly, what you can do about it.

Scott Kelly: 08:23 So to get some answers, let me set up the text that we read earlier this morning. As you probably know, Saul was Israel's very First king. And a chapter 13 Saul assembled a small expeditionary force of three thousand men. Two thousand were assigned to Saul, a thousand men were assigned to Saul's son, Jonathan. And while stationed in Gibeah, Jonathan attacked and defeated a small Garrison of Philistines, Israel's nemesis. Well, the Philistines retreated, and they mustered for a counter attack with a massive force. And verse 5 and chapter 13 tells us the troops of the Philistines were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Well, as you can imagine, fear gripped Saul's army, and they began to defect in mass. And the Bible tells us that even Saul, left his position and went to a small town down called Gilgal.

Scott Kelly: 09:27 And you may ask what's strategic and important about the city of Gilgal? Well, three chapters earlier in First Samuel chapter 10, Samuel, the prophet had identified Saul as Israel's very first king, and he instructed him to go to Gilgal and simply wait, do nothing for a full week. And after seven days, Samuel promised to come to Gilgal, and there he would offer the burnt offering, and the peace offering on Saul's behalf. This was a spiritual ceremony to confirm and validate the selection of Saul as Israel's very first king. And so many scholars believe that when Saul retreated to Gilgal three chapters later in the face of the Philistine army, he was simply returning to the place of his spiritual coronation, it was in many ways a safe house. It was his spiritual Alamo, if you will. But it's here in verse 8, where we picked up the story, that Saul's life goes tragically wrong. And in these verses we learned that there was something lodged in Saul’s heart, something that caused him to lose faith. And what followed was in fact, a watershed moment in his life, as well as Israel's history.

Scott Kelly: 10:53 Now, before we go there and unpack all of that, I'd like to fast forward a bit and draw a line between Saul and another watershed moment in history, and it's one that impacts us today. 400 years ago, there was a French philosopher by the name of Rene Descartes, and he published an essay that changed how we think today. Now most of you have probably heard Descartes' most famous idea, his axiom, if you will. And it is this, I think, therefore I am. Some of you actually own the tee shirt, or perhaps a parody of the tee shirt. I shop, therefore I am. Well Descartes sought to answer a very valid question in his day, and the question was this, how can you, or I know that anything actually exist? How can you know anything with certainty? And his conclusion was this, if I, as an individual am thinking, I must exist. If there's a thought, there must be a thinker. Right? Now, you know why philosophers are so weird, this is proof that philosophers are truly weird. But this is an important distinction in our history because you see prior to Descartes, it was common in normal to begin with the idea that God existed and that all knowledge and understanding flowed from God. But this side of Descartes, the world began to believe that everything would start with the individual, with self. And so that put you and me in a position where we not only evaluate and judge the world around us, but also the very idea of God and his existence, and any worldview associated with God. And that one idea, began to change everything in Western culture.

Scott Kelly: 12:55 You see in Descartes' worldview, life is no longer defined vertically in relation to God, it's defined horizontally. And What flows out of this worldview is the belief that the highest good, the greatest good in the world, is human and individual freedom, autonomy, and self-expression. Does any of this sound familiar? Now, before we give Descartes too much credit, or too much blame. Let's keep this in mind, this very idea was present in the Garden of Eden. Because you see Satan, the enemy, presented this worldview to Adam and Eve, that God was no longer necessary, that Adam and Eve could essentially be godlike themselves. And so the very first sin that we read about in scripture in Genesis 3, is essentially an act to destroy and obscure our vertical relationship with God, and claim equal ground with him. And if there's no vertical relationship with God, then there's no accountability to God.

Scott Kelly: 14:06 Now here's the irony, according to a Pew Report, 90% of Americans, 9 out of 10 of your neighbors, believe in some kind of higher power, some kind of man upstairs. But saying that you believe in a higher power is the equivalent of saying, may the force be with you. What is that exactly for? And what does it mean? What is its end and what is its purpose? If you believe in a higher power and that's it, what is the purpose of that higher power? Now Mark Sayers, who is a pastor and political commentator said this, "What we're experiencing today is not the eradication of God from the Western mind, but the enthroning of self as the greatest authority." That's what's happening in our world today, we are living in a world where there's a legacy of being detached from God. And with the individual at the center of everything, we have a world of freedom, but it's a freedom without meaning and a freedom without purpose.

Scott Kelly: 15:18 Now you may be asking Scott, what in the world does all of that have to do with King Saul? Well, I'm glad you asked, I've been dying to get back to the text. Now we find in verse 8, Saul is waiting on Samuel in Gilgal. But with his army scattering, and with the Philistine army mounting an attack, and ready to make their next move. Saul grew impatient, and on the morning of the seventh day, the scripture indicates that Saul took matters into his own hands. And he administered the burnt offering. But before he could offer the peace offering that night, Samuel appeared, and the exchange was not cordial at all. Saul approached Samuel, and Samuel simply said, what have you done?

Scott Kelly: 16:09 Now this needs a little bit of commentary, a little bit of explanation on the ceremonial law. You see in Deuteronomy chapter 17, God had carefully distinguished the priesthood from the kingship. He had distinguished the priesthood from the kingship, it was a bit of separation between church and state. There was to be no practicing of politics as religion. The preachers were not to act like politicians, and the politicians we're not to act like preachers. That's a great word for us today, don't you think? You see in Israel, the Kings were not considered divine, like they were in so many other countries in that area. And so it was vital that the Israelite kings not usurp or control any of the spiritual or divine prerogatives. And so Samuel's question not only follows naturally from the mandate of the law in Deuteronomy 17, but it also goes right to the heart of where Saul was living.

Scott Kelly: 17:16 And so in verse 11, Saul responded. And I want you to listen carefully to what he says. He says to Samuel, "When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and at the Philistines had mustered it Michmash. I said, now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord. So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering. Notice how defensive saw was, tragically defensive. In fact, he blames three other parties for his disobedience, his soldiers who were scattering from him, Samuel, who did not arrive at the appointed time, and the Philistines, who were assembling against him. Having found himself in an extreme predicament, Saul blamed the people, the timing, and the circumstances for what was going on around him. And so he forced himself.

Scott Kelly: 18:28 This is important for us to pay attention to, because one of the reasons that we're experiencing so much anger, and fear, and anxiety, and depression in our culture today, is because we've come face to face with a reality that we would rather not acknowledge, and that's this, we are not in control. And what's worse, we can't seem to save ourselves. And like Saul, when we encounter moments like this in our lives, we are tempted to act independently, push God to the margins, move self to the center, and fixate on controlling the people, the timing, and the circumstances in our lives. And have you ever noticed that the more you try to seize control, the more angry, the more fearful, the more anxious and depressed you become. And when those efforts don't work out, and they usually don't, what do we do? Well, we have this tendency to do the same thing that Saul did, blame. Blame. And doesn't it seem like in our culture today that blaming has become an Olympic sport, and everybody seems to want a gold metal don't they, let's blame and let shame,

Scott Kelly: 19:50 Do you want to know why there's such division and toxicity in our culture today. Well, I think it's because we have rejected a foundational biblical idea, and that's the idea of original sin. That every human is born in and under the penalty of sin, that we're all sinners by nature and by choice. But our culture wants you to believe that every human being, every individual, is inherently good. That's not a biblical idea. Follow the logic of that. If everyone is basically good, then sin, and evil, and injustice, and racism is always out there. If I am inherently good, which is the popular opinion, then the problem is never in here, it's always out there. You see Saul believed that the problem, the evil he was facing, was out there. He didn't recognize the sin in his own heart, so his disobedience very naturally flowed from a self-righteous assumption that everyone else was to blame. And so he assumed the role of the priest, and by doing so, he assumed the role of God, how tragic.

Scott Kelly: 21:13 One of the reasons we need the church, one of the reasons we need to gather on a regular basis as the
people of God to worship, is so there's a constant reminder in our lives that we are not God. That we cannot manufacture, or engineer. Our own salvation. Saul needed Samuel to remind him that he couldn't manufacture his own deliverance from the Philistine army. And if you've ever grown impatient with God, as most of us have at some point in life, then you know how easy it is to be tempted to steal from God, to take control of the circumstances, thinking that you're doing God a favor, when God really just wants us to wait on him.

Scott Kelly: 22:02 This week, I received an email from a software company salesman, who's been trying to sell us a cloud platform for file sharing. Now, I say that like I know what I'm talking about, I have no clue what that means. The salesman has been peppering us for several weeks, and he sent an email this week and said this, Scott, if you're looking for a faster, more secure way to exchange data with eternal partners, can we find 10 to 15 minutes to chat about our product? Well, I pushed my laptop away and said, we're about to change the game at Shandon. This is great news, 15 minutes, shoot. I'll give you a whole hour for that one. Now we laugh, but deep down inside, isn't that what we really want, a faster, more secure way to exchange data and information with God. Deep down, that's what we really want, and we get frustrated with God. Because look waiting in the midst of adversity and uncertainty is one of the hardest things that you will ever do. But let's be reminded of the promise in Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31 that says this, "But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." That's what God is doing in your heart when you're waiting, the circumstances are uncertain.

Scott Kelly: 23:41 Well, things did not turn out well for Saul, as you probably know, and it's a warning to us. In verse 13 and verse 14, we pick up the story, "And Samuel said to Saul, you have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord, your God with which he commanded you for then..." "For then (And this is important) the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, but now your kingdom shall not continue. And he says this, the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be Prince over his people because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you." Now, when you read that, if you're like me, the humanity wells up within you. And you think, man, that's a little harsh, that's a little severe. Let's look carefully, a little more closely, because what God wanted in Saul, he found in his successor, David. And it's the same thing that he seeks in you and me today, men and women, boys and girls who seek after God's own heart. Men and women whose first priority is to love the Lord, their God, with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength. That's what God is looking for.

Scott Kelly: 25:24 Now you may ask, what does it mean? What does it actually mean to be a man or woman who is after God's heart? Well, there were several differences between David and Saul, and it would take weeks for us to recount all of those. But I want to point out two differences between Saul and David this morning that are specifically related to the texts that we read this morning.

Scott Kelly: 25:46 And here's the first one. The first difference between Saul and David is this, Saul was a consumer, and David was a contender. Saul was a consumer, and David was a contender. You see Saul behaved as if the kingdom existed to serve him, but David behaved as if he existed to serve the kingdom, and what a critical difference that is. So what about you? If you're a follower of Christ, if you claim Christ as your savior, do you think the church exists to serve you? Do you believe that the programs, the worship, the music, and maybe even the staff exists to serve you? Or do you think that you exist to serve the body of Christ, and our Christ given mandate to make disciples of all the nations? And most importantly, most importantly, do believe God exists to serve you, or do you believe you exist to serve and glorify God? Are you a consumer, or are you a contender. Saul was a consumer, David was a contender.

Scott Kelly: 27:03 Now the second difference between the two that flows out of our passage this morning, is that Saul was a grumbler and David was a groaner. I love this, this is beautiful. The Bible uses two words to describe people's response to adversity, and suffering, and frustration, and disappointment, groaning and grumbling. God commends groaning. Groaning is perfectly fine, but he forbids grumbling. You see groaning is complaining to God, whereas grumbling is complaining to people. Groaning happens in God's face, but grumbling happens behind God's back. And the place where people groan, the place where the people of God groan, is on their knees, where they have been driven by adversity and difficulty. But the place where people grumble is on their feet, on their feet, maybe on their mobile device, social media, where they're free to publicly exaggerate, blame, and play the victim. What a huge difference between these two men.

Scott Kelly: 28:11 Now, this is beautiful, you'll be hard pressed...Search the scriptures, you'll be hard pressed to find one instance where David ever grumbled, you won't find it. Now David's sins are well-documented. He was a man who was broken, but he never played the victim, and he never blamed anybody else. Read the Psalms over and over again, and you will discover the heart of a man on his knees before God crying out for mercy and grace and forgiveness. And in this, we discovered that David was a man who knew it was more important to be forgiven than it was to be right. What a huge difference between these two men, and may that be true of us as well, men and women who are in pursuit of God's heart.

Scott Kelly: 29:06 You see the more we consume the faith, and the more we grumble, the further away from God we're going to
feel. That's a fact, so what about your faith today? Well, I've got good news, it's in one of two places, your faith is either in God or it's in you. And that fear, that anxiety, that frustration, that impatience, that you're feeling that wells up in your heart, maybe every day, that's God's way of letting you know that you don't have control and that you can't save yourself. And that's exactly where God needs you, it's exactly where God wants you. Unlike Saul, David lived vertically in relation to his Heavenly Father, and because of that, his prayer and his song to the Lord was this, the Lord is my salvation. The Lord is my salvation, and there. I will wait on him. May that be our song as well?

Scott Kelly: 30:33 I want you to pray with me this morning. Father, the truth, the story, it's power, the drama, the disappointment, overwhelms us. But Father, in this, we know that there is grace, grace, super abundant, grace. So Father, we confess to you that we have allowed today's headlines, and our response to it, to steal our faith in you. So Father, I pray for each person in this room that we would return to that vertical relationship with you, that we would not look to the left or to the right, but to the sovereign King of the universe. Lord, I pray that we would be a people who contend for the faith given once and for all to the saints. As Jude says, Father, may we be passionate about submitting our hearts to you, not being swayed by today's headlines or the emotion that follows. And Lord, may we never push you to the margins, and place self at the center, seize control, and blame those around us Father, we are the church called to be salt and light in this world, because there is no other institution, and no other group of people, whom you have called except this the church to be the light of salvation in this world. So Father, my prayer is that we, as a church, as people, as individuals, would lift up the name of Jesus, because at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and tongue will confess. So Father, may we stop losing our faith by placing it in self? May we be fully confident in the hope that comes from your son Jesus. Father, thank you for saving us. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
Read More
Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206