10/28/2018 = I Samuel 17 = Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS: David & Goliath – Shepherd–>Giant Killer

(Click HERE for a slightly staticky audio version.)

Mark Wheeler

I Samuel 17:1-58

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:

David & Goliath – Shepherd –> Giant-Killer


Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church


Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                


We live in the least biblically literate age of our nation’s history. Just a few decades ago, even non-church attenders, non-religious, un-Christian people knew Bible references – and used them in daily conversations.

That is very different today. For lots of reasons, our children and grandchildren have not even heard, let alone learned, many of the Bible stories that people of my generation and older take for granted.

There is one major exception to this reality – even if the reference is not truly understood or believed to be true. In fact, I heard a radio ad for an insurance company use it today: “There is no Goliath this David can’t handle.

Goliath” is understood as – what? [any kind of giant enemy] And “David” is the little guy, the average Joe, but it is the little guy who is going to conquer!


What is the Goliath you are facing?  What challenge must you meet and conquer? I know for some here it is a health concern – cancer, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, vision, arthritis, heart health, balance and vertigo, bone fragility; for some it is more of a financial fear or fate; for some it may be a legal battle; for others it is loneliness and relationship issues. What Goliath-sized feat do you face?


We have made great progress in our current Sermon Series looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham & Isaac & Jacob, Moses, Joshua & Rahab, & Ruth & Boaz, a look through the book of Judges, and last week we watched as God chose a young shepherd boy to be prepared to become the next King of Israel.

David was a wee 10-15-year-old boy, maybe the age of Johnny, when he was anointed to be king – but then he had to wait approximately 15 years to take office. I have a friend whose 10-year-old sonknew” he was called to be a missionary pilot – but he had to finish elementary school, middle school, high school, enter Moody Bible Institute and join their Aviation School. Zach is now an accomplished pilot, teaching at Moody Aviation, and will be assigned a mission field within another 3 years.

David’s education mostly involved tending sheep, and then serving King Saul (whom he would one-day replace). This story about Goliath happens while he is still living at home with his family, and it leads to his leaving home and beginning his years in King Saul’s service.


Listen to the Word of God from I Samuel 17:1-58 (starting on P. 203). Listen for God’s voice to you; what is God saying to you this morning? Hear God’s voice …. —-

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. (All of that detailed location description gives credence to this story – it is not a

fairytale, it is real!)

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. (that’s like 9 feet, 9 inches tall – this dude was a giant!) He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (that’s like 125 pounds of armor!); on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels (like 15 pounds of weaponry!). His shield bearer went ahead of him. (This gargantuan giant with an entire squadron worth of armor and weaponry had a shield bearer who walked out in

front of him to keep him safe!)

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. (Send one guy to fight me, unless you’re chicken!)

  12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

Then Jesse sends David-the-shepherd to Saul’s army where his three older brothers are serving. Jesse wants a report of his sons’ safety. But when David arrives at the encampment he hears about this Goliath-giant’s challenge and wonders what it’s really all about. 

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

So King Saul tries to convince young David to wear the King’s armor and to use his weapons, but they’re too big for him and David refuses.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome (just like Johnny), and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

Then David stood over the felled Goliath that challenged him; he took Goliath’s own sword, stabbed him and cut off his cabeza, and carried that to King Saul.

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”


Did you catch how our advertisements and even our own uses of this story reference are wrong?

The insurance ad I heard on the radio claimed to be the David, who by his own wit and will would win over any Goliathan challenge.

But that is not how this story plays out at all! David says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of YHWH Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel. YHWH will deliver you into my hands. The whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  It is not by sword or spear that YHWH saves; for the battle is YHWH’s.

He gives full credit to God, but he does not simply sit back and do nothing while waiting for God to take over!

What does David do?

  • He recognizes that his work as a shepherd is transferrable to this job of giant-slaying – he tells King Saul, “Yeah, look. Right. I’m not a soldier, but I have protected my sheep by killing lions and bears, right? I think I can handle one Goliath from Gath.”
    • Btw, did you hear why Goliath lotht hith battle with David? Goliath ran out of Gath….
  • He brought a gun to a knife fight. Right? Goliath, a very formidable foe, 9’9”and WWE Champion for years. But this unbeatable battler has to be within a yard or two of his opponent to win.
    • David comes with a sling-shot – and as an experienced shepherd, he knows how to hit his target from many yards away. So he just shoots Goliath down from across the valley! (Do you remember how Indiana Jones wins against his sword slinging opponent in the back alley outside of Egypt?)

But, even while David uses what God has given him, his skills as an ace sling-shotter – skills as an experienced educator, as a musically skilled singer or instrumentalist, as a woodworking wonder, as a bookkeeping businessperson, as a nurse, as a … (you fill in the blank here) – David does his deeds in the name of the Lord.

God puts us where we are, God gives us our passions and dreams, God provides our experiences – good and bad, victories and defeats, ups and downs – and all of that counts as training for our role in the Kingdom of God!

And remember to give God the glory God deserves! Today’s bulletin cartoon says, “It’s not so much that I’m bringing a sling to a sword fight as it is you bringing a sword to a God fight.”


The battle is the Lord’s! Never forget that when we are on the Lord’s sideHe will win the battle! Joanne has cancelled out her cancer; Jack is succeeding over his stroke; Kathy kick’s her kidney disease in the backside every week. They each do that in their trust in and service to God Almighty. Riley Jane Halvorsen no longer needs her cranium cracking surgery because her mother, Melissa, and grandmother, Linda, gave this Goliathan battle over to the Lord!


That’s what God does for you, too, friends. He sovereignly ordains the events of our days – there is no one in this room whom God hasn’t called to be His. We may not be called to kill any actual Goliaths! But we are all called to use what God has given us and to trust in His providential love and Lordship! And, as with David – may the whole world come to see that there is God in our lives!

Whatever is your Goliath! Face it with our winning God at your side, and do as He says.


Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.


Thank You, YHWH God, for calling us out from death into life. Thank You for providing what we need for Your Kingdom purpose. Thank You for being YHWH God, who saves and rescues and wins. Through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


10/21/2018 = I Samuel 16:1-13 = Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS: David – “Bethlehem Shepherd”

(Click HERE for the audio LINK.)

Mark Wheeler

I Samuel 16:1-13

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:

David – Bethlehem Shepherd


Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church


Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,           

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                 


When’s the last time you were awarded some kind of title that you maybe felt was way out of your league?

  • Most Valuable Player on the Pilots Little League Baseball team
  • All-Star pitcher, three years in a row
  • Youth Sunday speaker for a church that had no youth group
  • Fiancé to the hottest volleyball setter in SoCal
  • Pastor with a church in Spokane that continues to surprise its presbytery with vitality, mission and faith, year after year!


Take just a second and think about yourself. Remember the surprise, the joy, the wonder, the doubt, the feeling of Wow! Really?! Sure, yeah, I’m up for that!


We have come a long way in our current Sermon Series looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham & Isaac & Jacob, & Moses, & Joshua & Rahab, & Ruth & Boaz, & a look through the book of Judges.

The last Judge is man named Samuel, whom God tells will anoint the first King of Israel, and, as it turns out, the second King, too.  Today we read about that second King! But he was a surprise to everyone, except God Himself.


Listen to the Word of God from I Samuel 16:1-13 (P. 202). Listen for God’s voice to you; what is God saying to you this morning? Hear God’s voice …. —-

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  (Do you remember where we ran across Jesse a couple of weeks ago? Who was Jesse? He is the great-grandson of the Moabite woman named Ruth, who moved to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law….)

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”  (Why are they asking that question? If notin peace”? Then what? Well, as it turns out, Samuel is still recognized as a man who understands and speaks God’s mind and will; and he’s the guy whom God told to anoint Saul as King just 6 chapters earlier. And since then Saul has kinda gone off the deep end. So when Samuel arrives in Bethlehem, the people are nervous….)

Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (King Saul, we are told in chapter 9, is, literally, head and shoulders taller than the rest and the most handsome man in all of Israel. Eliab reminds Samuel of Saul….)

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.”10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”  (“Anointed” is pronounced “Messiach” in Hebrew, “Christ” in Greek. I am not saying David is the same as Christ, but that Jesus Christ’s title of Christ refers to what Samuel did to David. This is another Old Testament picture of the New Testament Jesus.)

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.


So, let’s reflect on this story together for a minute.

Someone one this side of the room, what in this story stood out for you? What did you hear from the Lord?


How about back there? Did anyone back in that section hear something?


What about this side?


God is in charge. God chose David, the youngest son of seven or eight, the son who had the shepherd duty – the last in a line of sheepherders, a nobody!

David, the great-great-grandson of Ruth the woman from Moab, was tending a flock of sheep on the hills outside of Bethlehem.

Where 1,000 years later shepherds were awakened by a host of angels on a silent night, a holy night, because a long distant descendant of David was having a baby in a manger right there in the same city.


And this, David, a shepherdboy, best known for, probably, two thingswriting most of the Psalms (that’s why the bulletin cover is what it is), and for his kingly behavior, his sinful activity with Bathsheba. But if there’s a third thing about David, it would be that he was the exemplar King of Israel – the King who had a heart after God’s own heart – the King who got Bethlehem named after himself (city of David), and then he also got Jerusalem named after himself (city of David!).

But, here in I Samuel 16 David is anointed as King by Samuel the prophet, the judge – but David doesn’t get to actually become King for around 15 years(!), 20 chapters later (II Samuel 5)!

What does he do in those 15+years? He works for King Saul. David knows he’s the new king, but he faithfully works for King Sauluntil … it’s the right time!

God is training David. He is preparing David. For 15 years! He is also preparing the Israelites for a harp-playing, psalm-writing, shepherd to be their king.


That’s what God does for you, too, friends. He sovereignly ordains the events of our days – there is no one in this room whom God hasn’t called to be His child. You’re not called to serve as King, there’s only one King David! But you are called to serve as something!

Is that surprising? Remember that with God all things are possible. And it might take awhile. That’s OK. Abide with God. Let your garden grow before you expect fruit to bear. But expect God to fulfill His purpose for you, because He will; He always does!


Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.


Thank You, YHWH God, for anointing one of the lowest job-holders in ancient Israel to be the greatest King of God’s people. Thank You for calling us, for calling even me, to be Your child in Your Kingdom. Through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.



10/14/2018 = Judges 13-16 = Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS: Samson & Delilah – “Strength vs Weakness”

Mark Wheeler

Judges 13-16

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:

Samson & Delilah – Strength vs Weakness


Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church


Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                


Have you ever been the victim of a bully? Most of us know bullies – most of us probably are bullies sometimes, maybe without even knowing it. One of the main ingredients into the making of a bully is the simple ingredient of self-importance.

I think my opinion is more vital than your opinion, therefore I might bully you without even recognizing it. If I happen to have more power or authority than you, bullying is even easier and more naturally develops.

That’s not to make excuses for bullies, it is, rather, a warning that we all ought to be aware of ourselves.


The point for us is that, more than likely, the “stuff of life” really NOT all about us!


Today we read a Bible story about a Bible hero who was also a bully – one who took advantage of those who were weaker, of lesser position in life, and with fewer resources. But before he died, he confessed his bullying sin and prayed for one more chance to do what was right, to be the right kind of person.


We are making progress through our current Sermon Series as we look at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham & Isaac & Jacob, & Moses, & Joshua & Rahab, & Ruth & Boaz. Today we go back one book (but not in time) to the history book of Judges and read about probably the most well-known of these Jewish leaders – the great strongman named Samson.


Listen to the Word of God from Judges 13-16 (Pp. 180f)…. —-

For context – two weeks ago we read the Joshua story when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. In that story we met Rahab. The rest of Joshua tells us about the Israelites filling the land of Canaan, from east of the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, from just north of the Egyptian wilderness to the Syrian and Lebanon border.

Last week we read Ruth, which takes place, “in the days when the judges ruled…”. It is those days that we read about today!

The book of Judges tells of the days before there were any Jewish kings – and there are a lot of stories here – but none that have been told and retold, in movies, in books, in plays, in cartoons, as many times as the one we look at today. Hear the Word of God …. —-


In the days after Joshua leads the Israelite nomads from their 40-years in the wilderness after 400 years in Egypt into the Promised Land, the Israelite people have no king, in part because their theology teaches them that they follow God, God is their King! We all know that that did not last forever, but for about 700 years this nation is led by a succession of 14 men and one woman known as “Judges” – leaders, deliverers/saviors, even.

(Last week we read about Ruth, the Moabite woman who married Boaz and became the great-great grandmother of the future King David. Ruth and Boaz lived during this time, probably early on – during the leadership of the second or third Judge.)

There are dozens of good, fun, worthwhile stories from the book of Judges. We are going toward the end of the book to visit the 13th Judge (13th of 15).

As is true with many of the stories of heroes in the Bible, this one starts with a couple who can’t seem to have a baby. When they have just about given up an angel appears to the wife and tells her, “For many years you have wanted a son; soon you will have one. Your child will be very special. God will make him strong, so that he can begin to rescue, to deliver, to save the Israelites from the Philistines. But you must raise him very carefully. From the day he is born he is to be dedicated to God, so you must never cut his hair!”  (Quick one-second pop quiz: what is this Judge’s name? SAMSON!)

Not cutting one’s hair was part of the Nazirite vow of dedicating one’s self to the service of God! This was always a self-imposed dedication, and always one with an end-date! Samson’s mother was told to make this vow on behalf of her son, and that it would last a life-time!

As Samson starts to grow he displays some amazing skill. He was like Barney and Betty Rubble’s son BamBam – boy, does that age me?! – super strong! But Samson is also a little like a spoiled brat! Because he is so strong, he gets whatever he wants! Eventually, after he grows up, he marries a Philistine woman – those are the enemies! But if Samson wants her, Samson gets her! (Is this a sort of #MeToo thing, maybe …) While his parents do not approve of this marriage, it certainly appears that God doesJudges 14 tells us, “His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.”

And there are stories of Samson killing a lion with his bare hands. Later while going down that same road, he finds the skeletal remains of that lion, and a beehive, with a honeycomb, inside the ribcage. He challenges his Philistine wife’s family and friends to a riddle that he is sure he will win: “Out of the eater came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet. What is it?

The Philistines are baffled by this riddle, and when they are just about ready to give up, they bribe Samson’s Philistine wife to tell them the answer – so she tricks Samson into revealing the riddle to her (honey inside a lion), and she tells her relatives, and when they give Samson the correct answer he is furious!

For years after that he fights and kills Philistine armies, singlehandedly! He catches 300 foxes, and ties their tails together in pairs, and attaches a lit torch to their tied tails! Of course the foxes run around like crazy, catching fire to every crop the Philistines have! What Samson is doing is saving the Israelites from the Philistine rule!

In another story, his own Israelite people turn him over to the Philistines, with his permission. He walks in to the Philistine encampment, his hands tied with a rope, and the Israelite people think they have won a peace agreement with the Philistines. But Samson uses this as an excuse to be inside the enemy territory, he breaks off his ropes, and grabs the jaw bone of a donkey and kills 1,000 Philistine soldiers, singlehandedly!

Years later the 1949 Cecil B. DeMille movie takes over (I actually found something like a dozen movies about Samson and Delilah – most of them do not tell the same story as what the Bible tells!)! Yes, Samson marries another Philistine woman – a beautiful woman named Delilah – another foreign-woman, another daughter of the enemy, who betrays her husband and reveals the secret of his strength being his obedience to the vow to never cut his hair – and she cuts his hair!

Samson is now captured, blinded, and bound with chains to serve as a slave! But over the course of the years as he is slaving away at the Philistine grainyards, grinding the grain into meal. He is dejected, of course, but he remembers what his mother had taught him about being specially called by God, about his vows to serve God his whole life, and about the importance of keeping those vows.

Samson renews his vows, and while a slave his hair grows long again. And while in the city of Gaza, the Philistine leaders are having a huge party, and with the wine flowing and the feast going, someone hollers for some entertainment – “How about that ‘strong man’ coming out and doing something special?!

And, boy, howdy, does he ever! Bound and shackled, blind and humbled, Samson, literally, tears the house down – his strength is back, his vows are renewed, he has confessed his selfish, greedy use of his strength, and he is recommitted to serving God – he tears the house down on top of himself and some 3,000 Philistine officials died at Samson’s singlehanded, last ditch, effort to be faithful to God!


So, what is God doing with this story? It’s much more than a mere romance story of two star-crossed lovers. It’s much more of a dark-comedy with a heroic-tragic end. I see at least two lessons about what God does with and for His people:

  • God sovereignly rules the courses of life. From the birth of a late-born son to the marriage of two enemy-reared wives. From the biggest blessings in life to the most difficult circumstances we find ourselves in. God is in charge.
    • That’s what God does for you, too. He sovereignly ordains the events of our days – the healthy births of our babies to the tragic losses of our loved ones. Our Almighty God is in charge of our days and our nights.
    • Over all the earth, You reign on high… over every thought, over every word … won’t You reign in me again! – Let’s pray that prayer every day.


  • With God all things are possible! One man, by himself, conquers the entire enemy armythat’s the work of God!
    • And God absolutely holds that promise for us. God can save even the bully Samson. He can, and does, send His one and only Son because He loves you that much, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!


What does this story ask of us? How do we respond to this Samson-story?

  • Samson, in the end, blind and beaten, confesses his sin of self-seeking and self-importance.
    • Let’s confess our tendency to want things our way, confess our culture’s inclination to take advantage of those with less ability, confess our personal propensities to please ourselves at the expense of doing what’s right.
      • Paul tells us, I Corinthians 12, “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
      • We, too, can find our strength to endure, the patience to wait it out, the forbearance to not give up, the faith to keep hanging on, when we believe and trust in God’s grace through Jesus Christ His Son.


  • Samson’s mother made a Nazirite vow to God that Samson would serve God his whole life.
    • When we make a vow to our Lord and Savior – or when we recognize His role in our lives – do everything we can to actually live like we believe what we say we believe!!


Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.


Thank You, YHWH God, for not hiding this embarrassingly self-centered bully from us, for using his stories of lust and greed and violence to remind us how You, YHWH God, created the universe, and as its creator You own Your creation! Thank You for reminding us that in Your perfect will You can even use our very imperfect decisions and actions to bring about Your ultimate purpose. Thank You for our Moms whose faith instills in us our own faith in Your saving grace. Forgive my self-centered life style and bring me back to Your perfectly powerful and grace-filled presence. Through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Batchelor, Mary; The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories; Lion Pub.; Oxford; 1985; Pp. 114-120.



10/07/2018 = Ruth 1-4 = Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS: Ruth – “How she demonstrates the Gospel”

Mark Wheeler

Ruth 1-4

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:

Ruth – How she demonstrates the Gospel


Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church


Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,           

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                 


“Christian Teen Ruthlessly Bullied by Popular YouTuber Because She loves Jesus” – CBN News

… You’d be forgiven for never having heard of YouTuber Cinnamon Toast Ken. According to YouTube.Wikia, he’s risen to internet fame by uploading gaming videos. He has also (somehow) managed to garner over 3 million followers on Twitter, despite posting some despicable cyberbullying videos, including one mocking a teen girl because of her love for Jesus.

In one video titled, “Crazy Girl Obsessed With Jesus,” Ken relentlessly picks on Christian YouTuber Emma Mae Jenkins, mocking her appearance and scoffing at her religious convictions.

Endure the painfully unfunny 11-minute clip and you will come away wondering why anyone would subscribe to viewing such crass, insensitive and uninspired content. Despite this, however, YouTube has yet to shut it down….


~bulletin cover – Boaz: “Where is my wife” he asked ruthlessly!


What does it mean to act “ruthlessly”?  What makes one’s behavior “ruthless”?

Dictionaries define it as “having or showing no mercy or pity or compassion for others; being cruel, hard-hearted, cold-blooded”, etc.

What is the opposite of “ruthless”? That’s what I have always wondered. Most of the time when something gets a “-lesssuffix, “tasteless”, “witless’, “senseless”, etc. there’s an opposite from the same root word; ie., “tasteful”, “witty”, “sensible”. But what’s the opposite of “ruthless”? No dictionary contains a “ruthful”, “ruthy”, or “ruthible”; but it seems that they should! (Beth’s greetings at the door sure were “ruthful” today.  Keith’s leadership in the Call to Worship was certainly “ruthy”! Wait until we go downstairs after worship, Kay has the most “ruthiblebirthday celebration ever!)

So, where does the word “ruthless” come from? That’s what we’re gonna talk about today!


In our current Sermon Series we are looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, and Joshua. Today we read about how the great-great grandson of that Canaanite prostitute named Rahab, who rescued the Israelite spies when Joshua was planning his attack on Jericho, came to be.


Listen to the Word of God from Ruth 1-4 (Pp. 187f)…. —-

For context – last week we read the Joshua story when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. In that story we met Rahab. The rest of Joshua tells us about the Israelites filling the land of Canaan, from east of the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, from just north of the Egyptian wilderness to the Syrian and Lebanon border.

After the book of Joshua is a 21-chapter book telling the stories of Israelite leaders they called judges, this was before they had their first king. Somewhere in the middle of those stories is this story of Ruth.


So, here’s the story where we meet Ruth. During that part of Israelite history before there was a king, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem, along with his family, left Israel and went south to Moab. The people of Moab are the descendants of Abraham’s nephew – and they became enemies of the Israelites over the centuries since Abraham. While this family, Dad and Mom and two sons, lives in Moab, both the boys get married to Moabite women one whose name is Ruth. In time the Dad dies, leaving his wife, Naomi widowed. Then both the sons also die, leaving Naomi completely alone.

After this, she receives news that the famine in Israel is over, so Naomi plans to go back to Bethlehem. Her two daughters-in-law offer to travel with her so she doesn’t have to make the journey alone. And Naomi does her best to refuse their offer, but one of them, Ruth, will not let Naomi go by herself. She tells her mother-in-law, “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.  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.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

So Naomi and Ruth leave Moab and arrive in Bethlehem during the harvest season of the barley fields. This is where we meet a relative of Naomi’s dead husband, the son of the Canaanite prostitute Rahab, Boaz. Boaz is a wealthy man who tells his farm hands to leave an abundance of barley in the fields so that the poor and widowed women would have a chance to glean the fields and find enough barley to take home for baking bread for their families.

One of those women is Ruth – a foreigner widow from Moab, daughter-in-law of Boaz’s relative Naomi. And Boaz, an older bachelor, falls for Ruth! He takes extra care to be super generous with the barley harvest for Ruth. And ultimately, after Naomi schemes a plan for Ruth to help Boaz fall in love, they get married.


Let’s take a brief break here. If being “ruthless” means being cold-hearted, uncaring, mean & nasty – we have just witnessed the exact opposite in Ruth’s behavior and attitude toward Naomi. What does Ruth demonstrate to Naomi? Grace and mercy, compassion and care, and ultimately, relationship and salvation.


After Boaz and Ruth are married, they have a son named Obed – a grandson to Naomi, yet another way Ruth offers Naomi life and purpose! And Obed has a son named Jesse. And one of Jesse’s sons is David, the second King of IsraelIsrael’s greatest king.


1,000 years later, a virgin lass and a carpenter from Nazareth traveled from Galilee to Bethlehem where, in a manger, they gave birth to Jesus, the promised Emmanuel, Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God sent to the world because God loved the world so much, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have life everlasting!


The Ruth story begins and ends in Bethlehem. 400 years later; David’s story starts in Bethlehem; and 1,000 years after that, Jesus is born in – Bethlehem.

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem during the Barley harvest seasongrain for the bread baked in Bethlehem, “House of Bread”, which is located in the Israeli region called Ephratha, “Land of Fruitfulness”.

We are moments away from approaching the Lord’s Table – the Table of Bread and Fruit of the Vine. The Communion Table displays the ruthful truth of God’s perfect grace and mercy, the ruthible invitation to Life Eternal.


The Moabite woman Ruth demonstrates God’s grace – let’s receive that grace today!

The Moabite woman Ruth exemplifies how we who follow Christ ought to live – let’s show that mercy in every way!


Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.


Thank You, YHWH God, for giving us the ruthy story of Naomi and Ruth and Boaz wherein Your perfect grace and mercy are displayed; for offering us the ruthful example of someone who lived like she believed what she said she believed. Thank You for the Communion Table, especially on this World Communion Sunday, which displays and invites us not Your perfect grace today, and unites us to Christ’s followers from Africa and Asia, from Europe and Oceana, from South and North America. Thank You for including us in Your World-wide family. Through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.