Sermon Options: March 19, 2023

February 8th, 2020


1 SAMUEL 16:1-13

Question: What do the following stories have in common? Noah building an ark. Abraham setting out to sacrifice Isaac. Rahab harboring the spies. It's true they're all Old Testament stories about early heroes, but that's not the answer. They're all stories about God, first and foremost. Bible stories aren't so much about the characters as they are about the God who works divine purposes through them and sometimes in spite of them.

I. God Selects His Servants
The story before us isn't so much about David as it is about God. God tells Samuel to anoint a new king. God warns against trusting outward appearances. God chooses David. God is the leading actor in this story.

II. God Doesn't Select as We Would
Samuel is to anoint a new king from among Jesse's sons. Eliab, the eldest, is striking, but he is not God's choice. Neither are the others. Samuel asks, "You don't have any other sons?"

"Well, just a shepherd boy."

"Go get him."

David enters, and Samuel announces, "You're the one." Young David is anointed Israel's next king. What a selection—not just that God selects an insignificant shepherd, but David was the last of eight sons.

Psychologists note that a person's birth order impacts personality; for example, firstborns might be passive and those born second might be aggressive, and so forth. David was the eighth of eight boys. In psychological terms, he had to fight for even one chicken leg at dinner, and he could forget about using the telephone.

David was twelve, maybe thirteen. At an age when most kids think about making the team, David was selected king. An adolescent king? Do you remember Mark Twain's line? "When kids become teenagers, parents should put them in a barrel and feed them through the knot hole. When they become sixteen, plug the knot hole."

David was a teenager. Remember? A time of changing voices and bodies, pimples, and girls towering over boys. It was in this stage of life that God named David as Israel's king.

Of course, God has done this kind of thing more than once. God called Jeremiah before he began shaving. God chose the teenager Mary to carry the Messiah. And when Jesus was twelve, his parents found him in the Temple discussing theology.

It's not just in biblical times. In 1947, two shepherd boys were grazing their flocks in the Middle East. One of the animals strayed off, so Muhammed el-Dib went searching, hoping to find his sheep. He found something else—the Dead Sea Scrolls, the greatest archaeological find ever.

III. God Selects Servants Based on What's Inside
So, God picked an adolescent for king. Why?

Do you remember Cinderella's story? She lives with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. Cinderella does all the work. Then the invitation comes for the royal ball. Cinderella dreams of going but can't. Later, her fairy godmother grants her wish. The prince falls in love with her, but she flees at midnight and he's left with her glass slipper. He searches for her everywhere. The stepsisters and the stepmother try the slipper on, but with no luck. The prince asks if others live there. "No one else, just Cinderella."

"Bring her here at once."

"But why? She's a nobody."

"Bring her here."

Remember? The prince slides it on her foot, looks into her eyes, and says, "You're the one."

What was it God saw in David? A heart. David was a kid after God's own heart. Of course, that can happen at any age and to anyone. A crown that fit. A slipper that fit. God looks into your eyes and says, "You're the one." (Mike Graves)



First-century Christian gatherings had different nuances from our contemporary worship traditions. This text may give us insight into the worship and faith of the first-century churches. The exhortations in verses 8-12 rest on the principles of verses 13-14. The principle is, everything exposed by light becomes visible as a result of the light.

This is a truth taken from the natural world. This is also true in the spiritual realm because Christ is the light. Verse 14 may very well be a baptismal hymn used in first-century worship. The hymn exhorts the new believers as they emerge in baptism, symbolizing their movement from death into life: "Rise from the death of your dark sins, and Christ our light will shine upon you!" If this is the understanding of the initial steps in faith, then Paul's exhortations in verses 8-12 take on great significance.

I. We Share a Dark Past
Paul tells his readers that at one time they were darkness. Before conversion, believers abode in the dark chaos to which blindness is the best analogy. Before faith in Christ, improper judgment without discernment was the guiding force. This darkness is that of disobedience, and Paul states to even mention the specific deeds of people in darkness would be shameful (v. 12). The spiritual blindness of disobedience is magnified in that those abiding in the spiritual darkness do not have a desire to know their faults or shortcomings. We must be careful at this point, lest we look too harshly at persons disobedient in Paul's day or in ours. Though sinful deeds make us blush with shame for them, we cannot be judgmental because Paul began by noting "once you were darkness." The point is for us to marvel at the grace of God in our lives, to "awake" us from our spiritual death and heal us from our spiritual blindness to see the light of the world, Jesus Christ.

II. We Are Called to Life in the Light
Life in the darkness is fruitless and is to be avoided by children of God (v. 11). As "children of light," we are to bear fruit in contrast to the barrenness of our former disobedience. Three commands outline how our lives should bear fruit of being children of light.

First, Paul says we are to "live as children of light" (v. 8). Children bear a resemblance to their parents: facial features, character flaws, attitudes, life views, and so on. As children of light, we must bear in us the likeness or image of the source of life, Jesus Christ. As children grow in the image of their parents, so we are to grow spiritually, being shaped into the image and likeness of Christ. With John the Baptist we must decidedly declare, "I must decrease that he might increase." Elsewhere Paul viewed this as a daily death to self, but a rebirth in the nature of Christ.

The fruit of light that we are to bear is all goodness, righteousness, and truth. These three general aspects of Christ's nature should be growing in our lives. Those who are willing to die to self, as symbolized in baptism, can be resurrected in Christ's life, bearing the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth.

Second, Paul makes clear that children of light should "find out" what pleases the Lord (v. 10). Darkness is a good place to hide—no one can see our faltering. We are brought out of the dark to be obedient children of God who are willing to know what God desires in our lives. When in darkness, we had no desire to please God, but as children of light, we should be looking to find those things God desires.

Finally, Paul exhorts us to avoid those deeds of darkness that once plagued our lives (v. 11). New Testament conversion always anticipated a change in character. A clear and radical change in nature, character, and deeds was assumed to be normative. Paul now encourages believers to avoid those deeds associated with the past. Although it is not popular today, the New Testament is as clear about personal holiness as salvation. Our nature, character, and deeds are to be transformed by the Holy Spirit who moves us from our death of sin into the enlightened resurrected life of faith. We are to heed the Spirit's work, "Wake up, O sleeper." (Joseph Byrd)


JOHN 9:1-41

Let's get the basic picture of this fascinating story. Jesus is teaching in the Temple when the Jews take up stones to kill him. He manages to escape them, melting into the crowd and making his way out of the Temple precincts. But in passing out of the Temple area he sees a man who has been born blind—the only case in all the Gospels of one who was so disabled and healed. Jesus stops. It is instructive that Jesus stops and notices the man under the circumstances, fleeing from his enemies who would kill him. And what happens after that is a marvelous lesson in witnessing.

Let this blind man be our witnessing guide. But you say, "Wait a minute! That's not fair. My conversion is not at all like his conversion experience. His was dramatic; mine was prosaic." Remember that whether your conversion was a slow turning to Christ as a child in the bosom of the church or a dramatic shattering of an old life, in both cases the same Christ has brought salvation. Remember that we are alike in that we all have a need that we bring to Christ. This man's need was not only physical blindness but also spiritual—he needed acceptance; he needed to know somebody cared. He needed to know that God cared. And Jesus filled his need. Jesus fills that need in all of our lives. When Jesus met that need for this blind man, it made a difference in his life. Look with me at the differences.

I. A Genuine Conversion Raises Questions About You
Look at verses 8-9. His neighbors, those who formerly knew the man, that he was blind, said, "This is not the blind man, is it?" And some people said, "Oh, yes, this is he." Others said, "No, this is not the blind man—it just looks like him." The man himself insisted, "Wait a minute. It is I!" The tragedy is that we overlook people, and that's why they didn't really know whether he was the blind man or not. The physical change was very small. His eyes were shut, and now they were open. Why did they suddenly not know a man because his eyes were open?

Because they didn't notice him when his eyes were shut! But there was a definite change in the man who had been blind, not a big one physically, but very real—something definitely happened. He was running around, he was seeing, he was talking to people—he was different. And they were asking questions about it.

A genuine conversion experience ought to make changes. When you and I become Christians, there ought to be an obvious dimension of difference in our lives, an attractive difference, a good difference. I read of a little fellow who got converted and then went a week or so later to a camp. It was not a church camp but one sponsored by a community or civic club. Afterward he was unpacking and said to his mother, "Mom, we were there a whole week, and not one of them found out I was a Christian." I'm afraid that's all too true. They asked questions not just about the man himself but also about Jesus: "Where is the man who did this? Tell us about him." It's good to see a crowd of people wanting to see Jesus without rocks in their hands. They were going to build their idea about the man who healed the blindness on the basis of what the healed man said and how he acted. That's worth noticing. It's really all the world has to go on.

II. A Genuine Conversion Leaves Room to Grow
Questions were left in the mind of the man who had been blind, too. They said to him, "Where is he?" (v. 12). And he said, "I don't know." The Pharisees criticized Jesus. "This man is a sinner," they said. "Give credit to God" (v. 24). The man's response was that he didn't know whether Jesus was a sinner or not. The fellow didn't have all the answers.

In witnessing there are two heresies. The first is to say you know it all—that is neither biblical nor true, and it damages your witness to say such. The other heresy is to say that since you became a Christian, all problems are gone, and all is sweetness, peace, and light. That's not true. The man still didn't know why he was born blind. Think about that. Jesus only told him what he was going to do with the blindness—glorify God. The man did not find out why Jesus picked him of all the people there on that particular Sunday afternoon who needed healing. You do not have to know everything to be a good witness.

III. A Genuine Conversion Brings Varying Responses
We also find that his sharing of what happened to him brought forth varying responses from the people around him. When the man was brought to the Pharisees and questioned, they were divided. Some said, "This man Jesus can't be from God. He healed on the Sabbath." Others said, "What do you mean? A man cannot do these things unless he's from God!" The Pharisees came back to the once blind man and said, "Well, what do you say? He healed you, you say. What do you think about it?" "He's a prophet." Then they laughed in his face, and it was clear they really didn't believe he had ever been blind.

There was also the response of withdrawal as his parents backed off in fear of the authorities. People are that way, even about their religion. And some folks get downright angry. The man was summoned again by the Pharisees who said, "Well, fellow, you might as well admit that this man's a sinner." That was when he got angry and suggested that they were supposed to know the answers: "You don't even know where he is from, and he healed me!" Their reply was to kick him out of the synagogue!

IV. A Genuine Conversion Gives a Natural Testimony
People say, "I don't know how to share what God has done for me. I don't know how to talk about it." Just share it as this man did. It was very natural—he just told what had happened to him. He told them, to the best of his ability, who did it. He didn't embellish it. He just told what happened. People are interested in your story and my story; they want to know what happened to us when we met Jesus. The man witnessed naturally because he had been genuinely converted.

V. A Genuine Conversion Gives an Unshakable Assurance
Finally, here is a man who, because he was genuinely converted, had an unshakable assurance. He said, "Whether this man is a sinner or not, I don't know." He had a beautiful disregard for theological hairsplitting. Sinner or not, I don't know, but one thing I do know! Unshakable assurance. I was blind and now I see. One thing I do know—my life is not what it was or what it would have been without him.

So often you and I think that because we weren't saved from the very gutter, from the gates of hell itself, we are not different from what we would have been, but we are. I am not a child of the devil; I am a child of God. I am going to heaven. Change has been made, and because we love God, and because we pray, and because we study God's Word, and because we want to have fellowship with others who trust him—we have the assurance, as John says in his letters, that we have been born again. (Earl E. Davis)

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