Sermon Notes: Crafted with Purpose

Sermon Outline: “Divine Calling: Embraced and Empowered”

Focal Passage: Jeremiah 1:1-12

Focus Scripture:Psalm 119:16 – Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I. Introduction

  • A. Explanation of Jeremiah 1:1-12 Context (see Jeremiah Cliff Notes)
  • B. The Significance of Divine Calling
  • C. Relating to Modern-Day Challenges and Callings

II. The Divine Consecration (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

  • Jeremiah 1:4-5 NIV: The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

A. Preordained Purpose

  • 1. Psalm 139:13-16 – God’s intimate involvement in our formation.

B. Chosen by God

  • 1. Ephesians 1:4 – Chosen before the foundation of the world.

C. Set Apart

  • 1. 1 Peter 2:9 – Royal priesthood and holy nation.

III. The Human Hesitation (Jeremiah 1:6)

  • Jeremiah 1:6 NIV: “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

A. Feeling of Inadequacy

  • 1. Exodus 4:10 – Moses’ hesitance and feeling of inadequacy.

B. God’s Reassurance

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – God’s grace is sufficient; His power is made perfect in weakness.

C. The Response to Divine Calling

  • 1. Isaiah 6:8 – Isaiah’s willingness to be sent by God.

IV. The Divine Empowerment (Jeremiah 1:7-10)

  • Jeremiah 1:7-10 NIV: But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

A. God’s Command and Commission

  • 1. Matthew 28:19-20 – The Great Commission to the disciples.

B. God’s Promise of Presence

  • 1. Deuteronomy 31:6 – God’s promise to never leave nor forsake us.

C. The Equipper and The Equipped

  • 1. Ephesians 2:10 – Created for good works which God prepared beforehand.

V. The Vision and Confirmation (Jeremiah 1:11-12)

  • Jeremiah 1:11-12 NIV: The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

A. The Almond Branch: Promptness of God’s Word

  • 1. Numbers 17:8 – Aaron’s rod budding as a sign.

B. God’s Watchfulness to Perform His Word

  • 1. Isaiah 55:11 – God’s word accomplishing what He desires.

C. Confirmation for Assurance

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – God confirming and anointing us.

VI. Application

A. Embracing God’s Call

  • Recognizing and accepting our divine calling irrespective of our perceived inadequacies.

B. Living Empowered Lives

  • Relying on God’s empowerment to live out our calling.

C. Faithfulness to God’s Call

  • Remaining steadfast and obedient to God’s direction and guidance.

Sermon Notes: Perseverance in Trials (Ruth)

Sermon Outline: “Lessons from Ruth”

Scripture Reference:

  • Ruth 1:16 NIV But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

I. Introduction

  • Introduce the Book of Ruth as a beautiful narrative nestled between Judges and 1 Samuel, shining as a beacon of hope and redemption amidst Israel’s turbulent times.

II. Ruth’s Background: A Moabitess in Israel (Ruth 1:1-5)

Ruth 1:1‭-‬5 NIV In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. 3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

  • Brief history of Moab and its complicated relationship with Israel. (see separate note)
  • Ruth’s marriage into an Israelite family and the subsequent tragedies: death of her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law.

Tragedy Strikes: Ruth was originally from Moab and married into an Israelite family that had come to Moab because of a famine in Bethlehem. In time, Ruth’s husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law all died, leaving her with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and sister-in-law, Orpah (Ruth 1:1-5).

III. Challenges Faced by Ruth

  • Loyalty Tested (Ruth 1:6-18)
    • Naomi’s decision to return to Bethlehem.
    • Naomi’s encouragement for Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab.
    • Ruth’s heartfelt commitment: “Where you go, I will go; where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
  • Ruth 1:14‭-‬17 NIV 14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. 15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
  • Life as a Foreign Widow in Bethlehem (Ruth 2:1-3)
    • The challenges of being a widow and foreigner in ancient Israel.
    • Ruth’s humble decision to glean in the fields.

Note: Being a foreign widow in ancient Israel posed a variety of challenges, both due to the status of widowhood and the additional complications of being an outsider. Here are some of the challenges faced by someone in such a position:

Economic Vulnerability: Widows, in general, were among the most economically vulnerable in ancient societies. They often lacked the primary means of financial support, especially in a culture where inheritance and property rights were typically passed through male lineage. Without a husband or grown sons to support them, many widows relied on the charity of extended family or their community.

Foreign Status: As a foreigner, Ruth would have been perceived as an outsider. This could lead to cultural misunderstandings, prejudices, and potential mistreatment. Being from Moab, given the aforementioned complex history between Israel and Moab, might have further complicated her situation.

Limited Legal Protection: While the Torah provided laws to protect widows, orphans, and foreigners (often grouped together due to their vulnerable statuses), enforcement of these laws and local customs might vary. Foreign widows could find themselves at a disadvantage, without family advocates to ensure their rights were upheld.

Cultural and Religious Differences: Adapting to a different culture and religious practices might have been challenging. While Ruth is portrayed as embracing the God and people of Israel, stating, “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16), she would still have had to navigate the nuances and differences in customs, festivals, and social expectations.

Marriage Prospects: Re-marriage could provide economic security for widows, but a foreign widow might have found it more difficult to find a new spouse. Though Ruth eventually married Boaz, their story is portrayed as exceptional, highlighting Boaz’s righteousness and Ruth’s loyalty and virtue.

Social Isolation: Widows could experience social isolation due to their loss, and this isolation might be compounded for a foreign widow without extended family or a familiar community for support.

Dependence on Kindness of Others: For sustenance, widows like Ruth often had to rely on gleaning, which is picking up leftover grain in fields after harvesters had passed through. This put them at the mercy of landowners’ kindness and generosity. Fortunately for Ruth, Boaz proved to be kind and provided for her needs (Ruth 2:8-12).

IV. Overcoming Challenges through Faith and Integrity

  • Finding Favor with Boaz (Ruth 2:4-17)
    • Ruth’s hard work, character, and Boaz’s acknowledgment: “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me.” (Ruth 2:11)
  • The Kinsman-Redeemer (Ruth 3:1-13; Ruth 4:1-12)
    • The biblical concept of a kinsman-redeemer.
    • Boaz’s commitment to act with honor, first addressing the closer relative.
    • Boaz’s eventual marriage to Ruth and their role in God’s redemptive plan.

The role of a “kinsman-redeemer” (often referred to as “go’el” in Hebrew) is a concept found in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Ruth. The role is multifaceted and derives from several Mosaic laws meant to ensure the protection and continuation of family inheritance and name within the Israelite community. Here’s an overview of the responsibilities and roles of a kinsman-redeemer:

Redeeming Land: According to Leviticus 25:25, if an Israelite became impoverished and sold some of his property, his nearest relative was to come and redeem what his relative had sold. This helped ensure that land remained within the family, preserving the ancestral inheritance.

Marrying a Childless Widow: If a man died without leaving a son, his brother (or nearest relative) was to marry the widow and have a child with her. This child would then carry on the deceased man’s name, ensuring that the name did not die out in Israel (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). This practice is often called “levirate marriage” (from the Latin word “levir,” meaning “brother-in-law”).

Redeeming from Slavery: If an Israelite had to sell himself into slavery due to debt, his relative could redeem him (Leviticus 25:47-49). This provision ensured that family members could assist one another in times of extreme hardship.

Avenger of Blood: In cases of unintentional manslaughter, the “go’el” also had the role of an “avenger of blood.” It was his responsibility to bring the person responsible to justice, ensuring that the death was indeed accidental (Numbers 35:19-28). If the killing was intentional, the avenger had the right to kill the murderer.

In the book of Ruth, Boaz takes on the role of the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Boaz redeems the land that belonged to Naomi’s late husband and marries Ruth, ensuring that the family line of her deceased husband, Mahlon, continues (Ruth 4).

V. Legacy and God’s Sovereignty (Ruth 4:13-17; Matthew 1:5)

  • Ruth’s place in the lineage of King David and, ultimately, Jesus Christ.
  • The overarching theme of God’s providence, even in seemingly ordinary events.
  • Ruth 4:13‭-‬17 NIV 13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” 16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Note: The name “Obed” is of Hebrew origin and it means “servant” or “worshiper.” In the context of the Bible, Obed is most notably recognized as the son of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:17) and the grandfather of King David. The story of Ruth leads to the birth of Obed, establishing the lineage that would later give rise to David and, according to the New Testament, eventually to Jesus Christ in the genealogy. The naming of Obed is significant in the narrative, as it ties together themes of faithfulness, redemption, and God’s providence.

VI. Takeaways from Ruth’s Story

  • Unwavering Loyalty: Ruth’s story underscores the power of steadfast commitment, not just to individuals but to God. Our loyalty can have lasting impacts beyond what we can imagine.
  • Faith amidst Uncertainty:Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi and the God of Israel was made without a clear picture of the future. We, too, are called to trust God even when the path ahead is unclear.
  • God’s Redemptive Plan: No matter our background, God can weave our stories into His grand tapestry of redemption. Ruth, once a foreign widow, became a forebear of the Savior of the world.

VII. Conclusion

  • Just as Ruth played an integral part in God’s redemptive narrative, each believer has a role in the unfolding story of God’s Kingdom.

Sermon Notes: Embracing a Life of Service

Series Title: Living a Life Worthy of the Calling

Week 1: Understanding the Call (Samuel)

Week 2: Overcoming Worldly Distractions (Paul)

Week 3: Embracing a Life of Service (Jesus)

Week 4: Perseverance in Trials

Sermon Outline: “The Servant’s Towel: Lessons from John 13:12-17”

Sermon Theme:

  • Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


  • Setting the stage for the event: The Last Supper, a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry.
  • The unexpected act: Jesus, the Teacher and Lord, assuming the role of a servant.

Scripture Reading:

– John 13:12-17

I. Background of the Event

A. Historical context:

  • Foot washing: A routine in the Jewish culture due to the dusty paths and open sandals.
  • Normally, a task designated for the lowest servant.

B. The atmosphere of the evening:

  • Jesus’ impending betrayal (John 13:21).
  • The looming crucifixion.

C. Jesus’ awareness of His divine mission (John 13:3)

  • Recognizing His divine origin and destiny, yet choosing to serve.

This act was significant, not just as a demonstration of humility and service, but also as a symbolic act pointing to the spiritual cleansing that Jesus provides. It was also meant as an example for the disciples, emphasizing the importance of humble service in the Kingdom of God.

Message Text

John 13:12‭-‬17 NIV When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

II. The Profound Act of Service

A. The humility of Christ:

  • Setting aside His outer garments (John 13:4).
  • The depth of the Creator serving His creation.

B. Peter’s objection (John 13:6-8):

  • A lesson on the need for spiritual cleansing.

C. Jesus’ elucidation:

  • Beyond physical cleansing—spiritual teachings on service and humility.

III. The Purpose of the Event

A. Manifesting His profound love (John 13:1).

B. Establishing an example of humility and service (John 13:15).

C. Emphasizing the importance of spiritual cleansing and fellowship with Him (John 13:8).

D. Advocating for mutual love and service among believers (John 13:14-15).

IV. Incorporating the Lessons in Our Daily Lives

A. Embracing humility:

  • Recognizing that no service is beneath us when done in love (Philippians 2:5-8).

B. Actively identifying opportunities to serve:

  • Within families, communities, and churches (Galatians 5:13).

C. Spiritual vigilance:

  • The need for consistent spiritual renewal and dependence on Christ (2 Corinthians 4:16).

D. The “Towel Principle”:

  • Opting to wear the “servant’s towel” in all interactions (Matthew 23:11).


Jesus’ action wasn’t merely about foot washing but about adopting a lifestyle of humility and service. We’re beckoned to follow His lead, allowing His teachings to reshape our hearts and influence our world.

Sermon Notes: Counting All as Loss for Christ

Key Scripture:Ephesians 4:1 “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Key Points:

  • God has a unique purpose and calling for every individual.
  • Recognizing this calling requires a relationship with God, understanding His Word, and being attuned to the Holy Spirit.
  • Challenge: Spend 10 minutes each day in prayer and meditation, seeking clarity about your personal calling.

Highlight: Paul’s transformation from a zealous Pharisee to a passionate apostle for Christ. (Acts 9:1-19)

The Message Counting All as Loss for Christ

Philippians 3:4-9 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

  • Paul’s Heritage: Circumcised on the eighth day, of the tribe of Benjamin (v. 5).
  • Paul’s Zeal: A persecutor of the church (v. 6).
  • Paul’s Righteousness: Blameless under the law (v. 6).
  • Reference: Acts 22:3-5 Paul’s former life as Saul, the persecutor.

NOTE: “The Way” as a term for the early Christian faith emphasizes the centrality of Jesus in the movement, the commitment to a particular way of life, and the sense of journey or pilgrimage inherent in the Christian faith.

  • Acts 22:3‭-‬5 NIV “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
  • But then he met Jesus…

Reference: Acts 9:1-19 Paul’s transformative encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

  • To “know Christ” is a profound and multi-faceted concept.
  • It goes beyond mere intellectual acknowledgment and
    • delves into intimate relational understanding,
    • experiential knowledge, and a
    • transformative commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Here are various dimensions of what it means to know Christ, along with scripture references:

1. Relational Intimacy:

To know Christ is to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him.

  • Scripture Reference: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Philippians 3:10)

2. Recognition of His Lordship:

Acknowledging Jesus as the Lord of one’s life and surrendering to His authority.

  • Scripture Reference: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

3. Experiential Knowledge:

Experiencing Christ’s presence and work in one’s life through the Holy Spirit.

  • Scripture Reference: “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5-6)

4. Transformative Power:

A transformative change in one’s character and actions that align with Christ’s teachings.

  • Scripture Reference: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

5. Trust and Dependence:

Relying on Christ for salvation, guidance, and all aspects of life.

  • Scripture Reference: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

6. Love and Obedience:

Genuine love for Christ that manifests in obedience to His commandments.

  • Scripture Reference: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21)

7. Revelational Knowledge:

Having insight and understanding into the mysteries of Christ through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

  • Scripture Reference: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)

To truly “know Christ” means

  • to embrace Him wholeheartedly,
  • to undergo a transformation in His likeness,
  • to walk in daily communion with Him, and
  • to allow His teachings and presence to shape every aspect of one’s life.

This knowledge is deep, personal, and transformative.

9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

  • Romans 3:21‭-‬24 NIV But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12 NIVNot that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Application: What Are We Holding Onto?

  • The Challenge: Evaluating our own “credentials” and what we place value on.
  • The Invitation: Letting go of worldly achievements and recognizing the immeasurable value of knowing Christ.
  • Reference: Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Sermon Notes: Understanding the Call – Samuel

Today’s Key Scripture: Ephesians 4:1 “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Key Points:

  • God has a unique purpose and callingfor every individual.
  • Recognizing this calling requires a relationship with God, understanding His Word, and being attuned to the Holy Spirit.
  • Challenge: Spend 10 minutes each day in prayer and meditation, seeking clarity about your personal calling.

The background of 1 Samuel Chapter 3

1. The State of Israel:

At the time of 1 Samuel, Israel was a confederation of tribes without a centralized monarchy. They were often at odds with neighboring nations, especially the Philistines.

  • Tribal Structure: Israel was originally composed of 12 tribes, each descended from one of the twelve sons of Jacob (who was later renamed Israel). These tribes were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (later split into Ephraim and Manasseh), and Benjamin.

2. The Role of Judges:

Before kings ruled Israel, “judges” (charismatic leaders, not jurists in the modern sense) rose periodically to lead the tribes, deliver them from their enemies, and ensure the people followed the ways of the LORD.

3. Eli the Priest:

Eli was the high priest of Israel serving at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. He was also a judge for Israel. He had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were priests but were corrupt and took advantage of their roles, taking more than their allotted portion of the sacrifices and engaging in immoral conduct.

4. Hannah’s Prayer:

Samuel’s story begins with his mother, Hannah, who was barren. In deep anguish, she prayed to the LORD at the Tabernacle in Shiloh for a child, vowing that if God gave her a son, she would dedicate him to the LORD’s service. Eli saw her praying and initially mistook her silent prayers for drunkenness, but upon understanding her distress, he blessed her. God heard Hannah’s prayer, and she conceived and gave birth to Samuel.

  • Hannah’s prayer and the events surrounding it can be found in 1 Samuel Chapter 1. Specifically, her vow to the LORD if He were to give her a son is mentioned in 1 Samuel 1:10-11. Her prayer of thanksgiving after Samuel’s birth is found later in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
    • 1 Samuel 1:11 NIV And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

5. Samuel’s Dedication:

True to her vow, once Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him to the Tabernacle to serve under Eli. Every year, when she came up for the annual sacrifice, she would see Samuel and bring him a little robe.

  • Considering the cultural norms of the time, Samuel might have been anywhere from 2 to 5 years old when he was presented to Eli at the temple.

6. The Word of the LORD was Rare:

The chapters leading up to 1 Samuel 3 tell us that the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there were not many visions. This makes Samuel’s encounter with God even more significant.

The rarity of the word of the LORD during this time can be understood in several ways:

  • Spiritual Decline: One of the dominant themes in the preceding book, Judges, and in the early chapters of 1 Samuel is Israel’s cyclical pattern of apostasy, oppression, repentance, and deliverance. The rarity of God’s word can be seen as a reflection of Israel’s spiritual decline and distance from God.
  • Corrupt Priesthood: Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are explicitly mentioned as corrupt priests who did not know the LORD (1 Samuel 2:12).
    • Their behavior, which included taking portions of sacrifices by force and committing sexual sins within the tabernacle’s precincts, degraded the spiritual climate.
    • Eli, as the high priest, failed to deal decisively with their sins.
  • Transition Period: The time of Samuel marks a significant transitional period in Israel’s history—from the time of the judges to the establishment of the monarchy. The rarity of God’s direct revelation may highlight the profound change that was about to occur in the leadership and structure of the nation.
  • Greater Impact: The rareness of God’s word might also serve to emphasize the importance and weight of the revelations when they did come. In the case of 1 Samuel 3, God’s call to Samuel and the subsequent prophetic message about Eli’s house are pivotal moments in the narrative.
  • Contrast with Samuel’s Prophetic Role: The rarity of the word of the LORD in those days serves as a backdrop that contrasts with Samuel’s later role as a prophet. As Samuel grew, the LORD was with him and let none of his words “fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19). Samuel becomes a prominent figure through whom God consistently speaks to the people.

Given this background, 1 Samuel Chapter 3 marks a pivotal moment, not just in Samuel’s life but also in the spiritual climate of Israel. It signifies a transition from a period where God’s voice seemed silent to a time where God actively intervened in the affairs of Israel, with Samuel playing a key prophetic role.

The Message

Samuel: Hearing and Answering God’s Call

1. The Calling in the Night


1 Samuel 3:4‭-‬10 NIV Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy.

  • Personal Relationship: “Samuel did not yet know the LORD” suggests that while Samuel might have been familiar with the rituals, traditions, and stories of his faith (after all, he was serving in the temple), he had not yet had a direct, personal encounter or revelation from God. This is about experiential knowledge, not just intellectual knowledge.
  • Prophetic Revelation: The phrase “The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him” indicates that Samuel had not yet received prophetic visions or messages from God. This is significant because Samuel would later become one of Israel’s greatest prophets. This episode in 1 Samuel 3 is the beginning of his prophetic calling.
  • Context for the Narrative: This verse sets the stage for understanding why Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice when he first heard it. Since he hadn’t had this kind of encounter before, he naturally assumed it was Eli calling him. Only after the third call did Eli realize that it was the LORD speaking to Samuel and gave him guidance on how to respond.

9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

The Results:

2. Samuel’s Response to God’s Call

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:11-18

The LORD told Samuel about the impending judgment on Eli’s house. Samuel was reluctant to share the message, but Eli urged him to speak the truth. Samuel relayed everything, and Eli acknowledged the word of the LORD.

3. Samuel as a Prophet Recognized by Israel

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:19-21

The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

  • Samuel’s life provides a clear example of someone who not only received a call from the LORD but also responded affirmatively.
  • His willingness to listen, his courage to relay a challenging message, and his faithful service to the LORD make him a prominent figure in understanding divine callings in the Bible.

His overall influence:

After his divine calling in Chapter 3, Samuel went on to have a profound impact on the nation of Israel in various capacities. Here’s a brief overview:

1. Prophet of Israel:

Samuel became a respected prophet throughout Israel. As mentioned in 1 Samuel 3:20, “And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD.”

Samuel continued to receive messages from the LORD, which he relayed to the people of Israel.

2. Judge and Leader:

Samuel served as a judge and leader of Israel (1 Samuel 7:15-17). After the Israelites repented of their idolatry at Mizpah under Samuel’s leadership, he judged Israel all the days of his life, making annual circuit visits to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah.

3. Military Leader:

Samuel played a role in delivering Israel from their enemies, specifically the Philistines. After the Israelites repented and gathered at Mizpah, Samuel offered sacrifices to the LORD, and God responded, throwing the Philistines into confusion and enabling the Israelites to defeat them (1 Samuel 7:7-13).

4. Anointer of Kings:

Samuel was instrumental in transitioning Israel from a theocracy (led directly by God through judges) to a monarchy.

He anointed Saul as Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 9-10). Later, when Saul disobeyed God, Samuel delivered God’s judgment that the kingdom would be taken away from Saul.

Samuel also anointed David as king (1 Samuel 16), signifying God’s choice for the next king of Israel.

5. Spiritual Reformer:

Samuel called the people of Israel to repentance and to put away their foreign gods. He played a pivotal role in turning the hearts of the Israelites back to the LORD (1 Samuel 7:3-6).

6. Establishment of Prophetic Schools:

While not detailed extensively in the Scriptures, it’s believed that Samuel had a hand in establishing schools of prophets or “bands of prophets” (mentioned in 1 Samuel 10:5 and 10:10). These groups played a crucial role in the spiritual life of Israel in subsequent generations.

Samuel’s influence bridged two major periods in Israelite history: the time of the judges and the establishment of the monarchy. His leadership, integrity, and faithfulness to God’s calling set the stage for the kings that would follow, ensuring that, in its early years, the monarchy remained anchored in the worship and obedience of the LORD.

Key Takeaways:

1. Discerning God’s Voice: Samuel initially didn’t recognize God’s call, thinking it was Eli. It’s essential to be attuned to recognize when God is speaking to us, which can sometimes come in unexpected ways.

2. Guidance from Mentors: Eli played a pivotal role in helping Samuel understand that it was God calling him. Having spiritual mentors can assist in discerning and understanding our call.

3. Immediate Response: When Samuel understood it was the LORD calling him, he promptly replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” An immediate and open response to God’s call is crucial.

4. Courage in Delivering Tough Messages: Even when God’s message was challenging and potentially upsetting for Eli, Samuel displayed courage in delivering the truth.

5. Faithfulness Leads to Recognition: Samuel’s consistent faithfulness to God’s calling led all of Israel to recognize him as a genuine prophet.

6. God’s Continuous Guidance: Samuel’s relationship with God wasn’t a one-time event. The LORD continued to guide and speak to him throughout his life.

7. Importance of Obedience: Samuel’s commitment to obeying God’s voice, even when it was challenging, solidified his role as a trusted prophet in Israel.

These takeaways emphasize the importance of recognizing, responding to, and being faithful to God’s calling in one’s life.

Sermon Notes: Our Walk of Faith

2 Corinthians 5:1-7 (NIV) provides rich insights into the Christian perspective on life, death, and faith. Here’s the passage for reference:

1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling

  • Romans 8:22‭-‬24 NIV We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

  • Colossians 2:6‭-‬8 NIV  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

  • Hebrews 11:6 NIV And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

From this passage, here are some key takeaways:

1. Earthly Bodies as Temporary Shelters: Paul uses the metaphor of our bodies as “tents,” highlighting their temporary nature. This life and our physical existence are but a brief moment in the grand scheme of eternity. It emphasizes the transient nature of life on Earth compared to the eternal life to come.

2. Longing for Eternal Life: The “groaning” represents a deep spiritual desire and anticipation for the eternal life promised by God—a life free from the pains, struggles, and burdens of our current existence.

3. Assurance of a Heavenly Dwelling: Paul assures believers of an eternal home in heaven, built by God. This is not a structure made by human hands, suggesting its divine perfection and everlasting nature.

4. The Holy Spirit as a Guarantee: The Spirit is given as a “deposit,” ensuring believers of their future redemption and the promises of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life serves as both a comfort and a constant reminder of the heavenly home awaiting them.

5. Living by Faith, Not Sight: One of the most quoted verses from this passage emphasizes the essence of the Christian walk. This life is filled with trials, uncertainties, and unseen challenges. However, Christians are called to navigate these challenges not by relying solely on their limited human perspective (“sight”) but by trusting in God’s promises and plans (“faith”).

6. Being “Away from the Lord” on Earth: Paul notes that while we are in our earthly bodies, we are not in the direct presence of the Lord. This separation heightens the believer’s anticipation of one day being in direct communion with God in heaven.

In essence, 2 Corinthians 5:1-7 offers comfort and hope, reminding believers of the impermanent nature of earthly struggles and the glorious eternal future that awaits them. It challenges Christians to prioritize their spiritual journey, to live with eternity in mind, and to navigate life’s challenges with unwavering faith in God’s promises.

Sermon Notes: The Power of Prayer in Overcoming Fear and Doubt

A Look at Daniel:

The exact age of Daniel when he was thrown into the lions’ den is not specified in the Book of Daniel. However, we can make an educated guess based on some chronological markers and historical references.

  • Daniel’s Arrival in Babylon: Daniel was taken to Babylon in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, which would be around 605 B.C. (Daniel 1:1). It’s traditionally believed that Daniel was a young man, possibly in his teens, when he was taken to Babylon.
  • Medo-Persian Reign: The events of the lions’ den occurred during the reign of Darius the Mede, following the fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persian Empire in 539 B.C.

Given these references:

  • If Daniel was, for instance, 15 years old in 605 B.C., he would be 81 years old in 539 B.C.
  • If he was 18 in 605 B.C., he would be 84 years old in 539 B.C.

Thus, Daniel was likely in his early to mid-80s during the incident in the lions’ den. This also underscores his remarkable faith; as an elderly man, he displayed unwavering commitment to God, even in the face of potential death.

Context and Lessons with Scripture References

The story unfolds in Daniel 6. Here’s a summarized breakdown with references:

  • Daniel’s Favor with the King: Daniel had distinguished himself among the administrators by his exceptional qualities (Daniel 6:3).
  • The Plot Against Daniel: The administrators and satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs (Daniel 6:4-5).
  • The Decree by King Darius: King Darius is tricked into signing a decree that no one could pray to any god or human besides him for 30 days (Daniel 6:7-9).
  • Daniel’s Faithful Response: Knowing about the decree, Daniel still prays three times a day (Daniel 6:10).
  • Daniel’s Faithful Response: Knowing about the decree, Daniel still prays three times a day (Daniel 6:10).
  • The Consequence: Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:16).

The Message (Daniel’s Response)

Daniel 6:10‭, ‬25‭-‬28 NIV  10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

  • Psalms 34:4‭-‬7 NIV  I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Note: Daniel lived the majority of his life in exile.

  • He was taken from Judah as a young man, possibly in his teens, during the first wave of Babylonian deportations around 605 B.C. (Daniel 1:1-6).
  • From that point onward, he remained in Babylon and subsequently served in the Medo-Persian government after the Babylonian Empire was conquered.

Throughout the Book of Daniel, we see him serving under multiple kings:

Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:19-20; 2:46-49; 3:12-30; 4:8-37): Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and was promoted to high positions in his kingdom.

Belshazzar (Daniel 5): Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall, which foretold the fall of the Babylonian Empire.

Darius the Mede (Daniel 6): Under Darius, the incident of the lions’ den took place. After God delivered Daniel from the lions, he continued to prosper in Darius’s reign.

Cyrus the Persian (Daniel 1:21; 6:28; 10:1): Daniel’s service extended into the reign of Cyrus, the king who eventually allowed the Jewish exiles to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple.

Despite living in a foreign land and serving pagan kings:

  • Daniel maintained his commitment to the God of Israel.
  • He was a living testament to God’s faithfulness, proving that even in exile, God’s presence and favor could be with His people.
  • The enduring faith and integrity that Daniel demonstrated serve as a powerful example of how believers can remain committed to God, even in less than ideal circumstances.

The Outcome

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly!  26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

What Can We Learn?

  1. Integrity and Consistency: Daniel’s daily habit of praying three times was known and became the basis for the plot against him (Daniel 6:10-11).
  2. God’s Protection Doesn’t Mean Absence of Trials: God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths, thus protecting Daniel (Daniel 6:22).
  3. The Consequences of Peer Pressure: Negative Influenced by his officials, King Darius made a decision without considering its implications (Daniel 6:9, 14).
  4. God’s Vindication: God’s intervention led to Daniel’s release and the punishment of the wicked officials (Daniel 6:24). Following this, Darius decrees that every part of his kingdom must fear and reverence the God of Daniel (Daniel 6:26-27).
  5. The Power of Jealousy and Deception: The administrators and satraps conspired against Daniel because they were envious of his favor with the king (Daniel 6:4).
  6. The Universality of God’s Sovereignty: King Darius, at the end of the story, acknowledges the sovereignty and eternal nature of Daniel’s God (Daniel 6:26).

The story of Daniel in the lions’ den provides rich lessons in faithfulness, the protective hand of God, the perils of envy, and the importance of integrity even in the face of life-threatening adversity.

Sermon Notes: The Antidote to Fear and Doubt

Week 2: The Role of Faith in Overcoming Fear and Doubt

Title: “Faith: The Antidote to Fear and Doubt”

Hebrews 11:1-6 provides a foundational definition of faith and highlights its importance in our relationship with God. Here is the passage (NIV):

1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

  • Definition of Faith: Verse 1 offers a beautiful and concise definition of faith. It is the confidence in our hopes and the assurance about things we do not see. This underscores the nature of faith as trust in God, even when we can’t physically see Him or know the future.

2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

  • Faith is Commended: The passage explains that “the ancients” or the Old Testament heroes were commended for their faith. Faith, then, is not just a New Testament idea, but a timeless and essential part of a relationship with God.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

  • Faith and Creation: Verse 3 discusses faith in the context of creation, reminding us that the visible world was created by the invisible God. This verse invites us to see the world around us as a testament to God’s power and faithfulness.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.  5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

  • Examples of Faith: The passage then gives examples of Abel and Enoch, who lived their lives in faith. Abel offered a better sacrifice to God because of his faith, and Enoch was taken directly to heaven, bypassing death, because of his faith. These examples demonstrate the power and reward of living by faith.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

  • Necessity of Faith: Finally, verse 6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” This verse underscores the vital importance of faith in our relationship with God. It also reveals that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him, an encouragement for us to pursue God with sincere hearts.

This passage, therefore, not only defines faith but also shows us its practical application and its absolute necessity in our lives.

Sermon Notes: Peter – Understanding Fear and Doubt

Fear and doubt are universal human experiences and can be triggered by a range of factors, often interrelated.

Some of the most common include:

1. **Uncertainty**: Fear and doubt often arise in situations of uncertainty, where outcomes are unknown. This could include uncertainty about health, employment, relationships, or the future more generally.

2. **Past Experiences**: Negative past experiences or traumas can trigger fear and doubt in current and future situations. For instance, if someone has been hurt in past relationships, they may fear commitment or doubt the intentions of others in new relationships.

3. **Lack of Self-confidence**: Low self-esteem or lack of confidence in one’s abilities can also lead to fear and doubt. For example, someone who doubts their skills might fear taking on new tasks or responsibilities.

4. **Change**: Fear and doubt are often triggered by change. This could be a change in personal circumstances, such as a new job, moving house, or the end of a relationship, or wider societal changes.

5. **Lack of Control**: Situations that are beyond our control often induce fear and doubt. We may fear the potential consequences and doubt our ability to cope with them.

6. **Comparison with Others**: In our interconnected society, it’s easy to compare our lives with others, especially on social media. This comparison can breed doubt about our own achievements and fear about our perceived inadequacies.

7. **Worrying about what others think**: Fear of judgement or rejection can cause us to doubt ourselves and our decisions. This is often related to a desire to conform or fit in.

8. **Negative Thought Patterns**: Certain patterns of thinking, such as catastrophizing (imagining the worst possible outcome), can fuel fear and doubt.

9. **Perceived Threats**: Perceived threats to our physical safety, financial security, or emotional wellbeing are common triggers of fear and doubt.

Matthew 14 opens with the death of John the Baptist, who was beheaded by King Herod Antipas (verses 1-12). Upon hearing of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place, likely to mourn and seek solitude. However, large crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus saw the large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick (verses 13-14).

This leads into the account of the feeding of the five thousand (verses 15-21), which is one of Jesus’ most well-known miracles. In this story, Jesus miraculously feeds a crowd of more than five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. This miracle not only demonstrates Jesus’ compassion and power but also foreshadows the Last Supper and the spiritual nourishment provided through Christ.

Following the feeding of the five thousand is when the events in Matthew 14:22-33 take place, where Jesus walks on water and invites Peter to do the same.

So, before the account of Jesus walking on water, there were significant events that set the stage: the shocking news of John the Baptist’s execution, a time of healing and compassion for the crowd, and the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. These events underscored Jesus’ power and compassion, providing important context for Peter and the other disciples as they witnessed Jesus walking on the water.

The Message

Matthew 14:22‭-‬33 NIV Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter’s experiences with doubt and fear highlight his humanity and the transformative power of God’s grace.

Peter Walking on Water (Matthew 14:22-33):In this account, the disciples are on a boat in the middle of the sea when they see Jesus walking on water. At first, they think they are seeing a ghost, but Jesus reassures them. Peter, wanting to confirm if it was really Jesus, asks if he could walk towards him on the water. Jesus invites him to come. Peter steps out of the boat and starts walking on the water towards Jesus. However, when he notices the strong wind, he becomes afraid and begins to sink. He cries out to Jesus to save him, which Jesus immediately does and admonishes him for his doubt. This account underscores the human tendency to doubt even in the midst of the miraculous. Peter’s fear overpowers his initial faith, causing him to sink.

Matthew 26:69‭-‬75 NIV  Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

2. **Peter’s Denial (Matthew 26:69-75):** After ‘ arrest, Peter finds himself in the courtyard of the high priest. There, several people recognize him as a follower of Jesus. Afraid of the possible repercussions, Peter denies knowing Jesus, not just once, but three times. After the third denial, a rooster crows, and Peter remembers Jesus’ prophecy that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter’s fear leads him to act in a way that contradicts his deep devotion to Jesus, highlighting the power of fear to influence our actions.

John 21:15‭-‬19 NIV When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Despite these instances of fear and doubt, Peter’s story does not end there. After Jesus’ resurrection, He reinstates Peter (John 21:15-19), showing forgiveness and renewing Peter’s calling. Peter goes on to become a cornerstone of the early Christian Church, his life demonstrating that fear and doubt can be overcome by faith and the transformative power of God’s grace.

Peter’s struggle with fear and doubt, as presented in the New Testament, is multi-faceted and provides valuable insight into the human condition and the nature of faith.

1. **Uncertainty and Lack of Understanding**: Peter, like all humans, had a limited understanding of the future and the full nature of Jesus’ mission. This was especially true when Jesus foretold His death and resurrection. Peter’s fear and doubt often sprang from this uncertainty and confusion (Matthew 16:22).

2. **Perceived Threats and Fear for Physical Safety**: Peter’s denial of Jesus happened in a context of fear for his own safety. Jesus had just been arrested, and identifying as His follower could have led to similar treatment. The instinct for self-preservation can trigger fear and doubt in our convictions (Matthew 26:69-75).

3. **Lack of Faith**: Peter’s attempt to walk on water showed both his faith and its limitations. He had enough faith to step out of the boat, but when he saw the wind and the waves, his faith wavered, and fear took over (Matthew 14:29-30).

4. **Personal Weakness and Human Frailty**: Like all of us, Peter had personal weaknesses. Despite his usually strong and impulsive character, he still had moments of weakness where fear and doubt overpowered him.

5. **Fear of Failure**: Peter did not want to let Jesus down. When he did – such as when he failed to stay awake at Gethsemane or when he denied Jesus – he was distraught. This fear of failure might have contributed to his general fear and doubt (Matthew 26:40, 75).

Remember that despite Peter’s struggles with fear and doubt, his story is ultimately one of faith, redemption, and leadership. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter became one of the most influential leaders in the early church, showing that fear and doubt do not disqualify us from serving God or others. Rather, they are often part of our spiritual journey and growth.

Sermon Notes: Finding Purpose in Life’s Transitions

Title: “Embracing God’s Plan: Finding Purpose in Life’s Transitions”

One example of someone in the Bible who found purpose in life’s transitions is the apostle Paul. (Also see Encounter on Road to Damascus reference)

Before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul, then known as Saul, was a zealous Pharisee who actively persecuted early Christians. However, during that life-changing encounter with the risen Christ, Saul experienced a radical transformation. His encounter with Jesus led to his conversion, and he became a devoted follower of Christ.

After his conversion, Saul’s life underwent a profound transition. He went from persecuting Christians to becoming one of the most influential apostles of the early church. He embraced his new identity as “Paul,” and his life’s purpose shifted dramatically. He now sought to spread the Gospel message far and wide, reaching both Jews and Gentiles with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Throughout his ministry, Paul faced numerous challenges and transitions. He endured persecution, imprisonment, and hardship as he traveled extensively, planting churches and sharing the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Despite the difficulties, Paul remained committed to his purpose of proclaiming the grace and salvation found in Christ.

Paul’s life serves as a powerful example of finding purpose in life’s transitions through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. His transformation from a persecutor of Christians to an ardent proclaimer of the Gospel highlights the life-changing impact of encountering Christ. Paul’s life’s purpose became centered on knowing and making Christ known, and he remained steadfast in this purpose throughout his ministry, no matter the challenges he faced. His story encourages believers to seek their purpose in Christ and embrace God’s plan during life’s transitions.

The Message

Philippians 3:7‭-‬12 NIV  But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

The teachings in Philippians 3:7-11 contrast with how some people respond to life’s transitions in several ways:

1. Priorities: The passage emphasizes the importance of prioritizing Christ above all else. However, some people may respond to life’s transitions by prioritizing worldly pursuits, personal ambitions, or material possessions. Instead of seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, they may focus on self-fulfillment or immediate gratification.

2. Self-Righteousness vs. Faith: Paul acknowledges that his attempts to achieve righteousness through his own works were futile. In contrast, some individuals may respond to life’s transitions with self-righteousness, believing that they can earn favor with God or others by their own efforts, rather than relying on God’s grace and the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ.

3. Fear and Avoidance: Paul’s willingness to share in Christ’s sufferings contrasts with how some people may respond to life’s transitions by avoiding pain or difficulties. Instead of facing challenges with faith and perseverance, they may choose to flee from situations that require courage and endurance.

4. Limited Perspective: Paul looks forward to the resurrection and the hope it brings for eternal life with Christ. In contrast, some individuals may respond to life’s transitions with a limited perspective, focusing solely on the present circumstances and not considering the eternal implications of their choices and actions.

5. Clinging to the Past: Paul is willing to let go of his past achievements and failures, recognizing that they do not define his identity. However, some people may respond to life’s transitions by clinging to past successes or dwelling on past failures, which can hinder personal growth and hinder their ability to embrace new opportunities.

Philippians 3:7-11 encourage believers to respond to life’s transitions with faith, hope, and a deepening relationship with Christ.

Recap of our series

The primary takeaway from the story of Esther is:

  • God can use ordinary individuals in extraordinary ways to accomplish His purposes.

Scripture Reference: Esther 4:14b – “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (NIV)

The primary takeaway from the story of Joshua is:

  • The importance of courage, faith, and obedience in fulfilling God’s promises and purposes. Joshua’s leadership as he led the Israelites into the Promised Land showcases the significance of relying on God’s guidance, trusting His promises, and faithfully following His commands.

Scripture Reference: Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV)

The primary takeaway from the story of Jeremiah is:

  • The importance of obedience and perseverance in fulfilling God’s calling, even in the face of opposition, rejection, and personal struggles. Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry exemplifies the role of a faithful servant who speaks God’s truth, even when it is difficult and unpopular.

Scripture Reference: Jeremiah 1:7-8 – “But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the LORD.” (NIV)

The primary takeaway from the life of the apostle Paul is:

  • The transformative power of God’s grace and the all-encompassing love of Christ. Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a devoted follower of Jesus demonstrates God’s ability to change hearts and use even the most unlikely individuals for His purposes.

Scripture Reference: 1 Timothy 1:15-16 – “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (NIV)