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The Weekly Word for June 21, 2015

Sermon for June 21, 2015: “Speeches”


Job 38:1-11

Mark 4: 35-41


One of my favorite people died about ten days ago.

Virgil Runnels died at the age of 69 in Orlando, Florida.

Now many of you may not know who he was.

That’s ok.

Because he was not famous for being called Virgil.

He was famous for his other name in his chosen profession…

which was Pro Wrestling.

Virgil’s wrestling name was “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. (more…)

Weekly Word for June 14, 2015

Sermon for June 14, 2015: “Better NOT Call Saul!”

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Other readings:

2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17

Mark 4:26-34


Our son Paul is a music lover.

He is a fan of such artists as George Ezra, Ben Folds, and the Beach Boys.

While it’s awesome that he loves to listen to music,

There is a problem…

When he is listening to his music or watching the musicians perform live on television, he doesn’t listen to us.

He can zone us out.

And that can be frustrating.

It’s disconcerting to call someone’s name over and over again and not get a response.

That is the feeling I believe God had when dealing with King Saul and the Israelites in the pages of 1 Samuel.

To put it mildly: King Saul REALLY messed up!

We first meet Saul in Chapter 9 of 1 Samuel.

And the reason we are introduced to Saul is the Israelites have asked God for something.

For someone.

They want their own king.

Now God was not happy the Israelites wanted a king.

Why do they need a king?

They have THE God!

But in asking for a king, the people are actually REJECTING God!

Like when someone wants a change in relationship he or she has the hubris to say, “It’s not me. It’s  you.”


(Note: Last week I told you that blaming God for your sins is not the way to go, and this week let me say that rejecting God is NOT a good thing).

And even though God is against this idea, He gives them what they want.

So God gets the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.

To be anointed was to be selected as God’s chosen one.

When the anointing happens Saul is set apart for special leadership.

And things go great for five chapters.




Saul and God are making beautiful music together.

But then…

Saul stops listening.

He stops being patient when it comes to God’s responses to prayers.

Saul feels he doesn’t need God anymore when it comes to decisions about war and government.

Now even though we do not see in this story God yelling to get Saul’s attention, God is still present while Saul stops listening.

Which is something Saul never understands.

And God is grieving.

This is not the first time that God has grieved.

Right before the Flood in Genesis (6:7), God grieves at what has become of His creation.

In the early part of Judges (2:18), God grieves at how his judges dole out punishment and call for repentance.

Now think about that for a moment.


Our God DOES grieve when we stop listening.

If I told you that God grieves over our sins, would you scoff or DO you scoff?


If we believe that God is a God of relationship, then why can’t God have the same emotions we have when we hurt over strains in our relationships with one another?


And God gets to the point that He is not going to wait for Saul to listen.

So God turns to another person: David.

And in our lesson we get the anointing of David.


Now I believe we as a church need to pay attention as to WHY David is needed in the first place.

Saul stopped listening.

So the lesson I want us to focus on this morning is listening to God.

Look at what happens when Saul listens to God.




Look what happens when Saul stops listening.

Saul goes mad.

Saul becomes the bad guy.


The same cycle follows David.

When David listens to God, good things happen.

And then David stops listening and he stops talking to God.

And we get the Bathsheba and Uriah story.

When David stops talking and listening to God, things fall apart.


The same cycle can affect us.

And what we need to work on is to how to listen to God, even at the times we don’t want to.


How can we be better listeners?

How can we call on God and not on the Sauls in our lives?


I think the first thing we can do is exactly what we are doing.

Meeting each week for worship.

I believe weekly church going is a must when it comes to improving our listening skills.

Not every two weeks.

Not once a month.

And not just Christmas and Easter.



But another way we can listen to God better is to do what Paul says in our second lesson.


Verse 9 of our reading from 2 Corinthians says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”

Our aim, our goal, our charge is to please God above all others.

Our call is to love God with all our hearts and minds.

As verse 14 points out, “the love OF Christ urges us on.”

We love Jesus.

So we listen to him.

If we love Jesus, then we have to remember who is the top person in this relationship.

We do not tell Jesus what to do.

We do not tell Jesus to be quiet.

We do not tell Jesus to go away.


To aim better is to love God on the inside and not just on the outside with our fancy words.

Or as Paul puts it we should boast in the heart not in outward appearance (verse 12)


So we come to church.

We aim higher.


But I think the best way we can hear God better is how we treat one another.


To become better listeners of God is to no longer live for ourselves.

Or listen to our OWN music.

But the music of God.


What does this mean in our context?

I believe it means we need a better perspective on the people God places around us.

How many times do we criticize others without regard of their lives or their path?

All the time?

I remember when this verse first made sense to me,

It was years ago when I had the chance to work for the Wake Forest Football Radio Network.

I had the awesome job of carrying the big boom mic on the field during a Wake Forest/Army football game.

And it was great.

One of the duties I had was the make sure the referees for the game were mic’ed.

And let me tell you during the whole game, those guys took a beating from everyone.

The fans, the players, the coaches, the announcers.

I was more concerned with not being run over by a 250 pound linebacker than how the refs were being treated.

And honestly, the things the people were saying at the refs!

Do we really think God cares whether Army or Wake Forest win a football game?!

Anyway, after the game I went to get the microphones, and the look on the faces of the referees was troubling.

Think about it, for 3 hours they have to hear constant criticism and judging.

They have to be prepared to be called every name in the book and to defend each and every decision.

And these guys looked worn out.

They looked beat up.

They looked…human.

They looked like people who needed a hug, a handshake, a good meal, and some truth.

For that moment, I did not see them as “idiot refs” I saw them as “children of God who needed rest.”

It was a moment that I SAW God’s voice talking.

That might sound weird, but I hope you can understand that.

I saw what God was saying to me.

He was saying:

“Jonathan, just as you see these referees with compassion that is how I see you when you are sad and have been dragged through the mud.”


God: “Love your neighbor, Jonathan.”

God: “See your neighbor through MY eyes.”


This is the God who is calling for our ears.

This is the God calling for us to listen to him.


And I pray that this morning, the Holy Spirit will blow through all of us and open our ears, hearts, and eyes to the music of God that is playing around us.

I pray that our ears, hearts, and minds grow.

Grow in knowledge, love, and awareness of God.

Grow just like a mustard seed.

You know I had to bring the Gospel in somehow!

And when I mean grow, I call us to make this an active verb.

Once we grow, let us keep growing.

There is no end date to how we can grow in our love and service of God.


There is no end to how we can and will hear God and how his presence in our lives will affect us and get us ready to follow


There is no end to listening to the sweet voice of God.


As God comes calling, let us respond, “We are all ears, Lord.”





Vacation Bible School is coming July 25th!

Grace wants to invite children (toddlers through 5th grade) to come and be a part of the one-day VBS event: “Christmas Gifts That Won’t Break” to be held in our Fellowship Hall.

Please download the 2015 VBS Registration Form and return it to the church offices or scan/email the form to Leah@northstate.net


The Grace Summer 2015 Newsletter Now Available!

Check out our latest newsletter to read about all the things going on at Grace this month! 

Summer Newsletter 2015

The Weekly Word for June 7 2015

Genesis 3:8-15
8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Sermon for June 7, 2015- “Runaways”
When I was in the fourth grade I made a big mistake. (more…)

Ella Bunting Open Arms March 2015 Newsletter

The Ella Bunting Open Arms Cancer Support Newsletter for MARCH 2015 is available now.

Just click on this link: March 2015 Newsletter

Open Arms New Prayer Shawl Ministry

The Ella Bunting Open Arms Group has begun a prayer shawl ministry that will donate shawls to those going through chemo & radiation treatments. The Group is looking for people to donate their time to make knit or crocheted shawls. These can be any pattern you are comfortable working with. Sign-up sheets are outside the church offices, contact the church office, or contact Leslie Miller to be a part of this new venture.