Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
Thanks to those of you that have been praying me over the last 4 weeks as I’ve struggled to get my voice back.
It’s been a long process, but I’m making slow progress each week.
Before we get started this morning, I wanted to talk to you personally a little bit about what’s coming up at Renovation Church.
This Easter, April 5th, we are going to be doing our biggest outreach in the history of our church
(Put up Easter Slide)
We are going to be having 3 services that day (9:00, 10:15, & 11:30), and after EACH of the 3 services there is going to be an Easter Egg Hunt
You may be asking, why would we do this? After all, isn’t Easter about the cross…the RESURRECTION of Jesus…and not eggs!?
Indeed you’re right. It is.
But we look at this, sort of like our massively successful Free Cheese Curds Event.
Church certainly isn’t about Cheese Curds
But people came.
In fact, we had almost 75 first time visitors that day in September.
10 people stood up and gave their lives to Jesus that day
And a nice chunk of those visitors stuck at our church and now call Renovation their home.
I think what we’ve been able to do in the last year is to start doing some creative things to get people in our doors…to make the invites really easy for you…
WITHOUT (and this is key)…WITHOUT compromising what we’re doing within a service.
I think that’s where lots of churches miss it.
They change what they do in “here”
They over-simplify…or water-down…or stop doing songs about Jesus.
That’s not what we’re going to do.
We’re going to do a powerful service about the resurrection and talk to people about God’s love, and sin & salvation, and heaven & hell.
But we want to give you an easier way to invite people…
Listen, we can’t make people fall in love with Jesus, but we can set-up dates.
And that’s what we want to do.
We think, for a city that’s chalk-full of young families that this is an amazing way to set up a lot of dates with Jesus.
But, of course, that’s not going to do “just happen”
It requires us, the people of Renovation Church, getting out there, and not just inviting people, but bringing people.
Setting up dates with Jesus.
I want every single person to FOCUS on FOUR.
FOCUS on FOUR people that you want to BRING with you.
Start praying for them now. Maybe even bring it up next week.
Find a family of four…that’s the easiest J
But focus on four.
And to pull this off, it’s going to take basically every single person in this church volunteering that day.
If you were thinking of going to your mom’s on Easter, but you’re not sure yet, tell your mom she better come to your house instead. J
Not only do we already have over 100 volunteers scheduled to serve in our normal ministries that day, it’s going to take an additional 80 or so volunteers to pull off the Easter Egg Hunt.
Remember, Renovation Church is a row boat, not a cruise ship.
We all pick up an oar to change the world together.
We want you to be a part of something with us.
Don’t just say, “Nah, Easter is about me and my family”
I assure you, that’s not the meaning.
In fact, do this with me right now…if you have a smart phone, get it out.
If you don’t, just fake it for now…
Open up your Renovation Church App, and tab on Connect, and then Volunteer at the Easter Egg Hunt.
What you’re going to see there, is a sign-up form for volunteer positions.
I want you to take a moment and sign-up to be a part of making this happen.
Go ahead and sign-up right now.
If you’ve got middle school and high school students, sign them up too!
You can see we need at least 15 people a service to help put new eggs out, etc.
Some of you might even serve twice.
You might already be serving in the nursery that day, but you could put out eggs after the first hunt is over at 10:35.
Go ahead and help us make this happen…so we can set up a bunch of dates for people to meet Jesus.
If you don’t have a smart phone, you can sign-up for this in the hallway on your way out today.
Listen, God is going to do something amazing here on Easter.
But when God does something great, He always does it THROUGH His people.
Let God use you to be a part of something great.
THE PASSAGE / ARK
Okay, thanks for letting me talk about that.
Let’s get into our passage.
We are continuing in our Monarchy Series on 1 Samuel in the Old Testament.
So far we’ve seen God call the young boy Samuel into a relationship with him.
If you happened to be in one of our 5 house groups this week, we covered the preceding chapter to this week, 1 Samuel 4, where the Israelites are losing a battle to the Philistines.
Then, they get this great idea that they should bring the Ark of God into the battle!
Let’s pause right there…what’s the ark of God? Or the Ark of the covenant (as it’s sometimes called)?
If you’re old enough to remember the Indiana Jones movies, this is the ark they were looking for in “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark”
(Show PICTURE of ARK)
The Ark was one of the most important furnishings in all of history.
It was like a chest. It was a wooden box overlaid with gold.
4 feet long. 2.5 feet wide, 2.5 feet tall.
On the top was a slab of pure gold called the mercy seat.
On top of that there were two golden angels (cherubim).
Inside of the ark were the two stone tablets in which the ten commandments were written on.
And also some stored manna from the wilderness and Aaron’s rod
The ark was typically at the tabernacle, their place of worship, and was kept in the holy of holies…where only the high priest went once a year….on Yom Kippur
And Although God is everywhere, the ark was a special dispensing of God’s presence.
So the Israelites are losing this battle, and they must have thought to themselves, hey, we should just carry the ark into battle like they did back in the day when they just marched around Jericho with the ark and the walls fell down!
Except, the big difference was, God told them to bring it that time.
This time, they’re just using it like it’s some sort of magic charm.
They thought they could manipulate God!
But chapter 4 tells us that the enemy Philistines capture the ark!
Let’s take a look now at chapter 5 and see what happens next
(Renovation App )
(1 Samuel 5:1-12) – NIV
After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold. 6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel. 9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
This is a crazy story, and there’s a lot in here.
In the 2nd Class of our School of Theology Classes we offer in the Summer, Mining God’s Word, we teach our students that whenever you read the Bible, you should ask yourself 2 questions:
1. What does this tell me about God?
2. How can I apply this to my life?
So let’s do that this morning.
And I think both of those points are about God’s Supremacy.
SUPREMACY OVER OTHER “GODS”
Let’s look at what this passage teaches us about God.
It shows us that God, Yahweh as the Israelites would have known him by, is supreme over other “gods”
We see this clearly in the story. The Philistines capture the ark in battle, and they bring it home to their big city of Ashdod.
They then take the ark of God to the temple of their “god” Dagon.
(Show picture of Dagon)
Scholars think that Dagon was some sort of fish God
He had the head and body of man, possibly a woman, arms/hands, and then the lower half of him was carved like a fish.
Not unlike a mermaid in some ways.
So the Philistines take the ark of God into the temple of Dagon, and they sort or place it like a trophy in front of Dagon.
To show that, certainly, Dagon is mightier than this God…Yahweh, of the Israelites.
And yet the next morning, Dagon is laying face down on the ground before the ark.
And one of the important things that we must see about this passage, in 2015, in postmodern America, is that not every “god” is the same.
Dagon is not the same thing as the REAL God.
There is ONE, true God.
We don’t each get to determine who God is and who we want Him to be.
There is a one, true, real God out there, and it’s every human’s job to find Him.
It’s very clear in this passage that one group of people were worshipping a true, supernatural power…and the others were worshipping some stone image they had crafted with their own hands.
Not every “god” is the same.
When terrorists run into rooms shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great), and then kill people, that’s not the same God.
There is just ONE God, and He is supreme.
We don’t see people bowing down and worshipping idols much in our Western cultures, but if you go to the Asian continent, you’ll see this kind of stuff everywhere.
I read an author recently who was in Myanmar, and he was watching as locals were doing prayer at a large Buddhist temple.
While the Buddha looked beautiful on the outside to those praying, buffeted against his other side (behind the curtain) was a large grouping of scaffolding, where they were repairing the broken Buddha.
Think about this from a different perspective altogether.
What if you were God?
And you created the world.
You put the stars and the planets in motion…
You built the mountains
Put the fish in the sea
And you put people on earth.
And then you properly revealed who you really were through a long legacy of people and a book that you wrote.
How frustrating would it be to watch people think that they were worshipping some version of you that wasn’t actually you at all?
Thinking that they were murdering in your name…
Thinking that they were loving you by calling you another name and saying they were going to earn their way to you by their good deeds…when all along you’d already sent your son to them as the only path.
How frustrating would be to watch people spreading lies that all religions and gods are really the same.
What would you think if you were God and you listened to that?
See, God longs for people to know who He REALLY is.
And this passage shows us that there is indeed ONE, True God.
Think even of when the Philistines start getting tumors as the ark moves from city to city
What’s that about?
It’s God showing us that He can not be controlled, manipulated, dominated, or destroyed.
No government, no people group, no authorities, no religion will ever drown Him out.
He is the truth and always will be.
SUPREMACY OVER IDOLS IN OUR HEART
So we answered the first question: What does the passage tell us about God?
How about the second: How can I apply this to my life?
Both of those questions are important and interconnected questions
See I think these Biblical principles apply not just to God’s supremacy over any other supposed “god” or idol, but to God’s supremacy over the idols in our own hearts.
The New Testament tells us that when we give our lives to Jesus, that God comes in and makes His home with us.
And his Holy Spirit begins to give us power to conquer sin that we were once enslaved in.
That sin will lie down on its face in the presence of God!
But look at what happens in this passage…because the same spiritual process is described in the New Testament:
Dagon falls over.
But he’s not broken.
Kind of like sin in our lives.
God comes in, and shows you he’s victorious over all the sin…all the idols you’ve set up to be “god” and given your life to instead of him
But the sin isn’t completely gone.
And what do the Philistines do?!
They foolishly do what so many of us do!
What they should have done is repented and converted right there.
They should have said, “THIS is the one true God! Yahweh! What were we thinking?!”
But they don’t.
They foolishly take their idol, and they set him right back up.
And don’t we do the same?
God shows his power and his victory over sin in our lives, and yet we come crawling back to our sin.
It’s the great lie that we keep falling for.
This is one of the reasons I think just regular spiritual disciplines are so important.
Really simple ones.
Go to church every week. Watch online when you’re out of town.
Open up your Bible every day.
Simple stuff. Because we are prone to forget, prone to wander.
And prone to go back.
When a person misses church 3 weeks in a row, studies say that they’re extremely liable to not return for potentially a year or two…maybe longer. Sometimes never.
That’s in just 3 weeks!
But you can form a new habit in 3 weeks.
You can re-set up an idol in 3 weeks.
We need to be reminded of his power and truth as often as we can.
However, this passage says we are even more foolish. We take it a step further.
They set Dagon back up, and God knocks him over again, this time breaking his head and hands…
And yet, they still don’t fully give themselves to God.
They just want God to be out of their lives because he’s scaring them.
We see the same pattern that we see in 1 Samuel 5 in the New Testament:
(Galatians 4:7-9) – NIV
7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
When you go back to your sin…when you’re willing to go back to enslavement after having been set free…
When you go back to your idols of money, your family, power, relationships…after having tasted how SUPREME God really is…sometimes what God will do to you…
Is He will simply break your idols to pieces in front of you.
He’ll let that relationship of yours just fall apart
He’ll allow your addiction to lead you to a NEW rock bottom
All that money you’re so prideful about…it’ll disappear.
Your house? Surely He can take that away.
When we are foolish enough to return to our idols after he’s already showed himself to be SUPREME to them, he will often break them to pieces right in front of our eyes.
Which we should be grateful for.
But I must warn you that the shattering of an idol is a painful thing.
When I was in college, I used to always pray, “God, please humble me, but please do it gently” J
When God wants to show you…AGAIN…that He is supreme and all-powerful, he’ll do it however He pleases.
So the challenge from God’s Word to you this morning is this: Are you currently setting anything up in your life (to be as worthy as the one true God??
If, right now, you are in the process of setting back up an idol in your life that He has already taken down for you…let it go.
Drop it now…and bow to the King.
God is your King.
He is Supreme.
Nothing else can give you what you want anyway.
So you’re down and out…you’re depressed…life isn’t working how you want…
Drinking isn’t going to solve anything.
Binge Netflix watching isn’t going to solve anything.
Making more money isn’t going to fix anything in your heart.
Those are just idols.
Tear them down before God shatters them.
This morning, I want to give you an opportunity to do that.
And I think one of the best ways to do that is through the ritual of communion.
Communion is a powerful time to remember what Jesus did for us, but it’s always a great time to get right with God again. To get serious again.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it. And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok. You’re on a journey. 2) Communion is an opportunity for believers to examine themselves (ask yourself some tough questions)
In the back, there are 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
Sometime to remember what He’s done and what He will do
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next few songs (if you need to wait, wait), you can go back and take communion.
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so. With each other, by yourself, or our prayer team will be in the back to pray for you as well (POINT THEM OUT)
We really just want you to encounter God during our service.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.