Here are some brief answers to our questions from our Sunday evening service. If you would like to discuss more, please call me or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can you tell when God is disciplining you?
God lives in us by his Holy Spirit. He is always with us. When we commit to prayer, we commit to him working in our heart and mind on all these things. This is more than just a "feeling" of what is wrong or right. It is very much our conscience, guided by Him. We know when we pray God will answer and he will speak to us by our heart/mind/conscience. Reading the Bible is a sure way also to measure what we are thinking with God's will. His will for us will always line up with His Word.
How do you tell the difference between God's intervention in your life and just your own thoughts/ideas?
intervention is imposed on us. Sometimes God "takes over. Persistence is often one way God does intervene. He is persistent! God disciplines by his Word and through his Spirit - that causes a change in us in our maturity. God often uses other people in our lives or conviction in our own hearts to help us to see what needs to change.
Motivation is often a good measure. Why do I want to do this? In Romans 7:15-20 Paul writes on this:
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between God's will and our will. We hope that, usually, they are in sync! But we need to measure it against the Scriptures (the Bible) and by talking with other Christians.
It's also helpful to remember that God's intervention is not always radical or supernatural. He intervenes in our daily thoughts - at least, that is what we ask him to do by living in us by his Holy Spirit. Hopefully, his thoughts are our thoughts. How do we keep that in check? Prayer. Bible. Other Christians.
What are some of the temptations of us as a Church where me might want a king “such as other nations” today?
We often want church leaders to be bold, brave, charismatic, influential, extraverted and many other "worldly" things. We need to remember that these are not the qualifications that God is pointing us to. They may not be all bad things. But the essentials are what Paul lists, for example, in 1 Timothy 3. These are about character, faith and trust in God. For example...
1 Timothy 3:2-3
2Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
We may "want" leaders (or Kings) who look like they are able to engage with worldly leadership types, but we "need" leaders who fall under God's rule and purposes. When it comes to civic leaders, we're in a different conversation! Although we most certainly do need to pray for them (see 1 Timothy 2).
You mentioned you experienced 'God's best' and the 'full life' Jesus promised. I struggle to trust this in practice. What encouragement can you offer? (and...)
What does it look like in everyday life to live with Jesus as ‘Lord’?
(see live stream for a full answer).
We trust that God's sovereignty is best for us. It's a daily practice of "God, this is what I'm planning to do today. If you have other plans for me, please show me and show me clearly." It's quite exciting when it becomes part of our life and practice to ask God and follow him, listening to him.
Why did God bother to make signs with Samuel to attempt changing Israel’s mind, when he already knows who will continue to be faithful, or not?
God constantly gives signs of his faithfulness. The rainbow sign of God's covenant is a great example. The ten commandments - a sign (the written tablets of his covenant with his people) - God often gives signs and symbols and reminders of his character and his grace.
God is also giving people here EVERY opportunity to repent and turn to him. Sometimes they DO turn when he gives them a chance. And we are grateful when God gives US that chance also!
Why does Samuel want the Israelites to testify about him that he hasn’t stolen or oppressed or cheated anyone?
In one way it showed Israel, by their own testimony, that he was not handing over a mess. Things were going well for them under God's kingship and under Samuel his Judge.
This is also a good example of the integrity of a leader under God. Samuel was having Israel testify to his own integrity and allowing Israel to be reminded of this. This is a moment they will be able to look back on (as we are!)
The Israelites were moving away from God. Why did God still tell them what to do as said in verse 24?
When we move away from God, he wants to provide us with a way back. This is the way back - "fear the Lord and serve him faithfully". Again, there is no excuse for Israel now. They have been told and reminded again and again - this is how you are to be the people of God. There is no excuse. And if you lose your way, this is always the way back.
In verse 18, God showed his mighty power. Can it be interpreted that God still hoped the Israelites would know that He was their God so they would come back to him?
All of God's signs are to lead us to him, or closer to him, or to return to him. The thunder and rain were a sign from God specifically to remind the Israelites of their great sin in asking for a human king of their own, "like all the other nations". This sign reminded them of their sin so they might repent. Did they repent? They seemed to be sorry and recognised their sin, but repentance does not seem to be a part of this story!