Fall 2009 Chapel - October 28th

Fall 2009 Chapel Message - 10/28/09

Listen to the recorded version here:

David Alexander




Good morning.  Its my privilege to share with you this morning.  Today, Wednesday, October 28th, you are half way through the semester, half way through this long distance race.  Ive been around long enough to know that some are pacing themselves well, others are running to catch up, still others thought they were in a sprint and have just awakened to the fact that theres more; academic success requires long-term focus, attention and disciplined persistence.  Wherever you are on this spectrum, I wish you well in the second half of this semester-long race. 

Today, Id like to talk about a disciple, a king, a Hebrew country western song and then turn our attention to you and me.


But before we open the scriptures its time to sing the Presidents cheesy song.  Are you ready? 

The Presidents Cheesy Song 

Did anybody tell you I love you today?
   Did anybody tell you I love you today?
Did anybody tell you I love you today?

Put me on your list, let me be the first,
    I love you today.

God loves you, and I love you,
    And thats how it should be.
God loves you, and I love you,
    And thats how it should be.
God loves you, and I love you,
    And thats how it should be.

Put me on your list, let me be the first,
    I love you today.


Lets turn our attention to the disciple.
His name is John, and late in his life he wrote memories of his time with Jesus; words ripe with the truth and presence of Jesus.
He says as much as he records his recollections of Jesus, who He was, what He stood for, and how He still affects Johns life. 

John establishes his closeness to Jesus with words like this:

      What we have heard,
      What we have seen with our eyes,
      Touched with our hands,
      Concerning the word of life

John wants to share about life with Jesus, and life in Jesus.  He goes on: 

We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. I John 1: 3,4 

John wants the reader to know that he has first hand knowledge of both what it meant to be with Jesus and how, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, he has continued to live in Jesus. 

He is writing so that we can be aware of and live in this relationship too.  He declares this in Chapter Four of First John; lets read it together: 

      This is how we know were living steadily and deeply in Him and He in us:  Hes given us life from His life, from His very own Spirit.  Also, weve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent His Son as Savior of the world.  Everyone who confesses that Jesus is Gods Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God.  We know it so well, weve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

      God is love.  When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.  This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us I John 4: 1317 (Message) 

This is Johns message, his invitation.  The God who is love has come to abide in you, and in this abiding, this residing, there grows an intimate, loving relationship with God. 

Hold onto that gem. 


Now lets turn our attention to the young man who would be king. 

Im speaking of David, Son of Jesse.
Lets take a look at his early life, before he was king.
The youngest brother, left to tend the sheep.
Yet, out on the hills near Bethlehem, while tending the sheep, theres time to reflect upon life and its meaning.
To consider God.  To remember Gods consistent hand of guidance and deliverance for the people of Israel.  To pray to God.  To talk to Him.  To listen for Him. To walk with Him. 

Then one day, everything changes.

Samuel the prophet is sent by God to the house of Jesse for the purpose of anointing a new king. God told Samuel, I have selected a king for myself from among the sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite.  Samuel then watches as Jesse parades his sons in front of Samuel.  No voice, no direction from God.
Samuel presses, There must be another; Jesse admits, there remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.
So the family and Samuel the prophet wait while David is summoned from flock and field.  He arrives and the Lord said, Arise, anoint him, for this is he. 

David has caught Gods eye.
Scriptures recount that David found favor in Gods eyes for David was a man after Gods own heart. 

I want us to understand that before David was king, before he took on all the trappings and authority of an earthly kingship, David had an intimate relationship with God.  As we look at his youthful days we discover a young lad who enjoyed a special relationship with God, characterized by nearness, candor, dependence; always seeking, listening, trusting, obeying. 

Allow me to recount for you some of the tangled web of his young life following the prophets secret anointing: 

      Son of Jesse
      Child of God
      Shepherd poet/composer
            Psalm 23The Lord is my shepherd
      DavidA man after Gods own heart
      Chosen/Secretly Anointed
      Protector of the flockslayer of the bear and the lion
      Writer and singer of songs of his faith
            Invited into King Sauls court to sing songs to comfort the King
                   he has found favor in my sight SauL
      Before, and during, all this new attention, David lived from a place in Gods embrace, his moment-by-moment relationship with God gave him the on-going assurance of Gods presence and protection; the way he lived his life was a result of the trust that was established by living in loving relationship with God.
      Davids life was lived through the prism of Gods loving presence, guidance, power and authority.
      As he prepared to fight Goliath he told King Saul:
      The Lord who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.
      Saul then tries to prepare David for battle with the kings armor
           Instead, David chooses to rely on God
      As he approaches Goliath David shouts out:
      You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts;this very day God will deliver you into my hand
      Goliath is slain.  David becomes the pride of the people.
      Best friend of the Kings son, Jonathon.
      But then the tide begins to turn;
      King Saul grows jealous of David
      Realizing he cant overcome David-the-giant-killers popularity amongst the people, Saul plots to put David to death,

      David flees, with the help of Sauls son, Jonathon and Sauls daughter, Micah, who has become Davids wife.

      David escapes Saul, only to find himself

      Fleeing into the land of Sauls enemiesthe Philistines

      David is captured by Philistine soldiers and is brought before their king. 


Doesnt this sound like a cue for a song?  A twangy, country western song, sung by a handsome young Hebrew.  Indeed, it is in this context, these life events, that David does write a Hebrew version of a plaintive Country Western songfrom his desert hideaway.  A song of fear and call for help, a lyric of betrayal and a cry rescue, yet underneath it all a song of love and trust.  Listen to the lyrics of Psalm 56. 

Psalm 56 

Be gracious to me, O God, for people
   trample on me;
   all day long foes oppress me;

My enemies trample on me all day long,
   for many fight against me.

O Most High, when I am afraid,
   I put my trust in You.

In God, whose word I praise,
   in God I trust; I am not afraid;
   what can flesh do to me?

All day long they seek to injure my cause;
   all their thoughts are against me for evil.

They stir up strife, they lurk,
   they watch my steps.

As they hoped to have my life,
   so repay them for their crime;
   in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
   put my tears in your bottle.
   Are they not in your record?

Then my enemies will retreat
   in the day when I call.
   This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,
   in the Lord, whose word I praise,

In God I trust; I am not afraid.
   What can a mere mortal do to me?

My vows to you I must perform, O God;
   I will render thank offerings to you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
   and my feet from falling,

so that I may walk before God
   in the light of life.

Psalm 56 is written while David is on the run!
The lyrics are drawn from the emotions and episodes of his life. 

At first reading, it is easy to misconstrue the spirit of these linesa cry from a fearful fugitive; cornered in the land of his kings enemy; fleeing from his king who has become his enemy. 

The first few surface readings are: get me outta this mess God.
But I believe that misses the mark.  A deeper reality lies in these lyrics and the life of David.
This is a poem that reflects the fiber of Davids character;
Though he is fleeing,
Though he is justifiably afraid,
In this time of crisis,
He draws from the wellspring of His relationship with God
And remembers. 

He remembers that God is aware of His plight.
For God is his constant companion and Lord.
God knows Davids tossing and turning.
God is so intimately aware of Davids longings, its as if God has captured Davids tears in a bottle,
And recorded all of Davids fears in his ledger. 

So David gathers himself, remembers,
And calls upon his God. 

He declares with a confidence borne of godly love and personal trust.
My enemies will retreat.  Why? 

Because, This I knowthat God is for me!
In God, he gives praise
In God, he places his trust
In God, he is not afraid.
(He cries)
For what can mere mortals do to me?
I have God.
I am His and He is mine. 

You have kept count of my tossings;
   put my tears in your bottle.
   Are they not in your record?

Then my enemies will retreat
   in the day when I call.
   This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,
   in the Lord, whose word I praise,

In God I trust; I am not afraid.
   What can a mere mortal do to me?

            Psalm 56:  811  

This is not a song of desperation and a plea for rescue.
This is a song of confident assurance, borne of one who abides in God and has come to know Him and trust Him.

Davids confidence is in the living God.
He draws upon what he knows of Yahwehs history of delivering His people, and His own loving, abiding relationship with God. 


So here we are: a disciples experience with Jesus, a yet-to-be kings twangy song of trust and deliverance, all that, to get to this point, to get to you. 

What about you?
What about you and God?
Do you know Him and His love?
Have you discovered that He desires to take up residence in you?
To abide.
Have you awakened to the life-changing reality that His loving presence dwells within you? 

Let me ask it another way:
Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

If so, have you come to realize that He desires to abide in you, and invites you to abide in Him?
And if you are allowing His Spirit to take up residence in your life, are you coming to learn of Him.  To enjoy His love, to try it on for size, to become comfortable in His continual loving presence in you.  To trust that He indeed loves you.  Cares for you. Wishes to cast out your fears with His love. 

Do you believe that God is for you?
Are your tears and fears the focus of your life
  or do you live life in trust?
Trust in the God who abides and loves? 

Dear friendsGod is for you!
Thats rightGod is for you! 

The God I speak of is not a human construct of god, a genie in a bottle, the great concierge in the sky, there to go get you stuff, fix your problems, provide you the best parking space and a life path free from the annoyances of others and the presence of evil.  Thats not God.  Thats a minor deity crafted by self-rule, with a dash of narcissim and a pinch of hedonism.  Thats someone looking for a designer god, crafted by the spirit of this fallen world. 

This God of which I speak is
   God the creator, the redeemer, the sustainer,
Is looking for you and
This God is for you!
The you He has created you to be
Can only be fully alive in Him. 

Will you allow Him to love you, accept you, embrace you? 

God is for you, right now, no matter where you are in your journey.
As you sort out your path in college and your path in life
      God is for you!
As you sometimes trip and fall, and wonder if youre going to be able to get up
      God is for you!
As you are slapped with the reality that the major you thought was your destiny is not what you hoped or dreamed, and now you must seek another
      God is for you! 

My dear friends, regardless of station,
            Sinner and saint
            Hypocrite and hero.
       God is for you!
Come into the embrace that awaits all who believe and abide in Him.
Learn the mystery of trusting in Him,
Rather than trusting in self.
As David sang,
      In God will I place my trust,
      What can mere mortal do to me? 

Like David, are you willing to seek His counsel
Rather than your own impetuous self-sovereignty?
To turn the tables and learn to rely on Him and His ways,
Rather than your cunning and scheming. 

He knows you
And Hes for you.
He doesnt merely want to rescue you,
Hed much rather live with you in relationship,
To lovingly call you by name,
To fellowship with you and you with Him.
As John wrote:
When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us

Dear Friends:
This I know, God is for you!
Live like it.
Abide in it.
Abide in Him.  Come to Him, the one who knows you and intercedes is for you! 

Lets celebrate His loving care for us; Lets sing: 

I have a maker