Christianity 201

June 26, 2014

When God is in the Camp

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:44 pm
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Last Sunday, my wife and I listened to a sermon from I Samuel 4.  Though it was not the focus of the message, I was arrested by verses 5, 6 and 7:

When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before.

(I should also say that while our focus today is on verse 7, despite the Philistines’ reaction, this was not a particularly victorious chapter for the Israelites, who misused the ark of the Lord. To get the full context and see what happened next, click here.)

What follows below is a short excerpt from the middle of a sermon text posted at Sermon Central by John Lowe. While the story ended badly, the truth of the Philistine observation remains. John has a degree in Structural Engineering and currently maintains eight websites.  To read the entire transcript, click the title below:

 

Show Me That Our God Is In The Camp

…When God comes into the camp, new life is put into prayer. Instead of the repetition of holy phrases in a cold, feeble and lifeless fashion, the soul empties itself out before the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit that leads the prayer, for He knows best how you should worship, and what you need.

The presence of God in the camp brings fresh energy to service; He shakes men up and awakens their spiritual muscle. When the Lord comes to us with power, He makes us alive all over; every part of the man is speeded up with a divine energy; then men really work for Jesus and work successfully, too.

When God comes into camp, His presence has an effect on unbelievers. Sinners turn to the Lord, in so marvelous a way that we may be astonished. The last persons in the world that we expected to be saved come to our service and they find Christ. Many have heard the Gospel for years and their hearts appear harder than steel, but they are melted by the Word. When God comes into the camp, the Holy Spirit convinces men of their sin, and many turn to Christ in faith and love, and are saved.

When God is in the camp, His presence infuses daring faith. Weak men begin to grow strong, young men dream dreams and old men see visions. Many begin something for Jesus, which they would not have thought to do in their timid days. Other men reach a greater height of dedication. Adventurers for God are raised up; missionaries to the poor and shameful sinners that are not the popular objects for Christian workers. Because God is in the camp, many take up the work which at first only the truly brave believers dared to try.

When God is in the camp, His presence cannot be hidden, since in a delightful way it transforms joy into worship. People do not think that sermons are dull, when God is in the camp, and prayer-meetings are not thought to be “a waste of time.” God’s people enjoy fellowship and when Christians meet, and God is in the camp, they speak cheerfully about the Master. I hope that you have enjoyed many such pleasant occasions. We should be like those people mentioned by Malachi: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name.” They had such a heavenly conversation that God Himself turned eaves-dropper to listen to what they had to say; and He liked it so much that He had it recorded; and He thought so much of it that He said He would preserve it; and a book of remembrance was made for them that feared the Lord, and that thought about Him often. The question is, would God think so much of our conversation that He would make a book of remembrance, in our day?

I cannot tell you of the infinite blessings that come to the camp of the Christian when God is there…

Go Deeper: As I’ve formatted today’s devotional, I’ve been listening to a very recently posted sermon on this passage by John Duff at Calvary Chapel Vista, north of San Diego (55 minutes)

 

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