A New Year’s Resolution From The Grand Old Book

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

Soon we’ll be in a new year, 2021. I wondered what message I should preach on the brink of this new year. I know that, at the beginning of a new year, many make resolutions and promises as to how they will change their lives for the better. Do you wish to have a great new year? Dedicate yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. Surrender to Him Who gave Himself for you. Believe on Him for both salvation, and for a life well lived. Follow Him – for in Jesus there is power.

There are so many texts that address this wonderful resolution. One that pops the mind is that illustration Jesus gave to us:

John 15:1, 5 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Gardener. 5 I am the Vine, and you are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing …

Resolve To Follow The Word Of God For Blessing

What a wonderful resolution it would be if each and every one of us sought out Jesus, looking to Him for salvation. What a wonderful change it would bring on us, on our communities, and on our nation. Apart from God, we can do nothing. But with Him, with that blessed Jesus, we bring forth much fruit.

Though I read in John, this is not the text we will take as a new year sermon. Instead we will turn to the Old Testament, to the Book of 1 Samuel. Samuel was a prophet of God. His mother was a godly, but broken woman. Hannah had a good husband, but was unable to bear a child to carry on his family name. So Hannah went to the Lord, and in prayer promised God that if He give her a child, then she would dedicate that child.

Life is a gift from God. When it seems that life has us down, it is better to look up, and to trust in the Lord Who loves you. Hannah looked up – and God heard her cry. Hannah was blessed with a son she named Samuel. Hannah did exactly as she promised. Once the child was old enough, she took Samuel to the Tabernacle,

1 Samuel 2:11 and the child {Samuel} did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.

Eli had two sons who did not know the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:12 says “the sons of Eli were the sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord”. Eli had one adopted son Samuel, who loved the Lord. But his natural born sons – heirs to the priesthood – were children of Belial, of the devil. Eli’s sons participated in the Tabernacle ceremonies, but dishonored God.

1 Samuel 2:17 … the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

You will not honor the Lord if you do not know the Lord as Savior. Eli made excuses for his sons, and looked the other way. But God warned Eli through an unnamed Prophet:

1 Samuel 2:30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house {O Eli}, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

It is possible to be saved by faith in God, and yet, by your behavior, to drive God’s blessing far from you. God warned Eli:

1 Samuel 2:34-35 this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. 35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

God cast down Hophni and Phinehas because they would not love Him nor honor Him. But God raised up another faithful priest in Samuel. When …

1 Samuel 3:10 … the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

This should be the attitude of every Christian, born of God’s Spirit. “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening”. This is the way to blessing. God told Samuel that Eli’s day was over, that God said:

1 Samuel 3:13 … I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

When you know to do the good, but do not do it, then it is sin. There are sins of both COMMISSION and OMISSION. God expects His people to follow Him. Our Lord Jesus commands us:

Matthew 6:33 … seek ye first the kingdom of God,and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you

Trials will come your way. Make it a habit to follow the Lord. To seek Him in prayer. To discern His will through the Scripture, the Holy Bible. To hear God’s Word and not do it is to invite disaster. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:26-27 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

To be blessed of God, we must be obedient to God. We must hear His Word. Samuel is listening to the Word of the Lord. He is living His life for God. But Israel, God’s people, are not listening to God. The Scripture says:

1 Samuel 3:1 … the Word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

Sometimes the King James text obscures the meaning of that text because of archaic language. “The Word of the Lord was precious” doesn’t mean that people treasured it, like they treasure gold, silver, or other monies. The Hebrew yâqâr, {pronounced yaw-kawr} can mean precious in that way. But it also means RARE. The Word of the Lord was RARE in those days. People were no longer focused on God’s Word. The Scripture was not quoted from the pulpits. The Word of Life was not lifted up in the public square. As a result, “there was no open vision”. The word translated “VISION” is the Hebrew châzôwn, (pronounced khaw-zone’), which means REVELATION. When you depart from heeding the Word of God, in time God quits trying to communicate with you. The people of Israel, like America today, moved farther and farther away from God.

If We Move Far Enough From God,
The Nation Will Be Cursed

1 Samuel 4:1-3 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Samuel is speaking the Word of God to Israel, but no one is listening. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

You may hear the Word of God, but if you do not respond in faith, what you heard does not good at all. Israel went out to do battle against an old enemy, the Philistines. Israel had defeated the Philistines before. Certainly they could do so once more. But Israel presumed. The strength of a nation is it’s people listening to the Word of God. The Scripture says:

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

We too often try to fight our battles in our own strength. We must not! We must look to the Lord. God has told His people to be …

Deuteronomy 6:15 … careful not to compromise with the idolaters of this land. You are not allowed to worship their gods, you are not allowed to adopt their ways. I the Lord your God saved you, and I Am a Jealous God … I alone will be worshiped

The power of a people or of a person is that you are walking with God, heeding His direction, seeking His guidance. Israel went to battle with the Philistines. What happened? They lost! Did Israel repent? No. They wondered why God didn’t bless them, then sent for the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a representation of God and His Grace. They said:

1 Samuel 4:3 Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

SHILOH is a very interesting name. It is first found in Genesis 49, where Jacob made his final blessing on his children. In verse 10 Jacob told Judah:

Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Shiloh means “SENT”. So when the One Who was SENT comes, the Messiah, to Him shall the gathering of the people be. Jesus Christ is the Messiah SENT from God. He was prophesied of in Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 11:1-5. The Prophet Jeremiah spoke of the righteous Branch that would rise from David, called “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). It is the Father Who sent the Son (John 5:23, 30, 36-37; 6:39, 44) as Messiah to make payment for our sins. When Shiloh came, “to Him shall the gathering of the people be”. Praise God, there shall come a day when Jesus will reign over all the earth. What a wonderful day that will be when:

Revelation 11:15 … The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Oh, that Shiloh would come! When Joshua led Israel through the Promised Land, it was at Shiloh, we read:

Joshua 18:1 … the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

Obedience to God brings the blessings of God. Israel lost 4000 men in battle against the Philistines because they were not following the Word of God. So now they send to Shiloh, saying,

1 Samuel 4:3 … Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Here we have a beautiful picture of disobedience. Shiloh is a representation, an Old Testament shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than repent, the commanders of Israel decided to separate the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh. How many Churches today do the same thing. They put their trust in the rituals and in the furniture and in the beads and in the building – but Christ is not in it. Jesus Christ must be in the midst of our Churches if we are to be blessed. Religion is not just ritual – it is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are members of His Kingdom. We are to lovingly follow Him.

Faithless hands bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the place of battle does nothing.

1 Samuel 4:5-8 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

Israel thought that they would be victorious now that the Ark was in the camp. The Philistines thought that they would be defeated because the Ark of the Covenant was in the camp. Both were wrong. Religion will not do it – God must be in it. False religion focuses on buildings, on rituals, on things, and not on the God of the Scripture. At the end of the day we read:

1 Samuel 4:11 … the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

The Bible says:

Psalms 84:11-12 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.{12} O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

God is the Lord of Hosts. He controls the armies of Heaven, and controls the human heart. God is the Sun and Shield. Those who love Him shall never walk in darkness, nor shall they be unprotected. Had Israel stayed her heart on God she would never have suffered defeat at the hands of the Philistines. Her heart – her focus – was not on the Lord Who loved her, but on the things of this life. Things cannot bless you. Only God can bless you! Beloved,

Preach: You can sit in Church, and follow every ritual, hear every sermon – but if your heart is not in love with the Lord you will not be able to overcome the trials of this life.

Our God Is Not Like The Man Made Gods
– Our God LIVES!

When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they thought, “Well, this is a God. Let’s put it in the same place we have our God!” We are told:

1 Samuel 5:2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

From that point on, God began to wreak havoc on the Philistines. The statue of their god Dagon was found, first on its face before the Ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 5:3), and then dismembered,

1 Samuel 5:4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.

The false gods of this world are just that – they are false gods. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; 17 they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. 18 They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

Not only did God curse the temple of Dagon, but He cursed the Philistines.

1 Samuel 5:6 … the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with {tumors}, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.

Having the Ark of the Covenant, a cross, a ritual, or any other thing rather than a relationship with God in Christ, will not bring blessing to you. God calls people everywhere to REPENT. Jesus said:

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

A Christian is not someone whose name is on an earthly roll. A Christian is a sinner who has repented, turning from their old gods, and committing to follow the God of the Scripture. A Christian is not better than anyone elose. A Christian has heeded the Gospel:

Acts 3:19-21 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; {20} And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: {21} Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Oh, that every person under the sound of my voice would repent, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior! What a blessing that will be, dear ones. You cannot blend darkness and light, Dagon with Christ. We must come to Jesus Christ ion love and faith. We must heed the Psalmist:

Psalm 2:11-12 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. {12} Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Kiss the Son”. Fall in love with Jesus. Put your trust in Him. He gave Himself for you, and calls you to His side. Come! Come, and be blessed.

The Ark Returns To Israel

Eventually God caused the Ark to return to Israel, where it belonged. Samuel told the people:

1 Samuel 7:3-4 If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. 4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.

Our country has become so secularized, so godless. What is our hope? It is to come back to the God of the Scripture, to love the Lord Jesus, to do the things that He has commanded us to do. When God’s people are focused on the Lord Who saved them, there is nothing that we cannot do.

Once Israel was restored to a right relationship with God, the Bible says:

1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Samuel set up a stone as a memorial to Israel’s commitment, calling the stone “Eben-ezer”. The name Eben-ezer is also an interesting word. The Hebrewאבן העזר, ‘eben ha‛ezer, {pronounced eh’-benhaw-e’-zer}, meaning “stone of the help”. This Rock symbolized the Lord Jesus Christ. We read in the New Testament from the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Once Israel confessed their sin before God the Bible says that Samuel took a Lamb and offered it for a burn offering whole before the Lord. Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) – is the Source of our blessing. Let us keep our eyes upon Him. Let us love Him and magnify His Holy Name. Let us keep our hearts on the Mount of God where Christ reigns. Let us sing praises to Him:

Here I raise mine Eben-ezer;
Hither by thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

God has promised that – though Israel was disobedient –that He would never utterly forsake her. That gives me great comfort. Who is able to keep me from falling? Jesus Christ. Our God …

Jude 24 is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…

The source of our strength is not us, but in God. He is our Rock, our Savior, our Lord. We will cling to Him, trusting Him, no matter what may come. May God through His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word give you strength to commit to and follow Him this new year. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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