8 July 2015
Hymn: O Worship the King, All Glorious Above
Theme: Spirit of Life
Topic: Spirit of Diligence
Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lordsaid to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’ 3So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years.5At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.9David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. 10And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
As we walk with God, the Holy Spirit guides us to be diligent. Diligence denotes continued effort with excellence towards finishing the task at hand. As Christians, we are expected to live above average, and to not be sloppy with our responsibilities, at work, home, community and church. Diligence becomes especially important when one is doing the right things but the wrong things are happening. Prayed and believed but did not get the promotion, healing, financial breakthrough or the relationship did not work out. At such times, it becomes particularly challenging to keep moving forward. However, if we rely on the Holy Spirit, He will give us strength to make it through the storm. Although Samuel had earlier anointed David as King of Israel, he humbled himself, and served the people while King Saul was attempting to take his life. David remained diligent in his service regardless of the threats. The elders eventually anointed David King of Israel. Just like David, let us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, continue our acts of love and service notwithstanding oppositions we may face. In due time God will richly reward our diligence.
1. Using examples in the Scripture or personal experiences describe what diligence means.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— 4was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
1 Timothy 4:1-16
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. 3They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; 5for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer. 6 If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness,8for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe. 11 These are the things you must insist on and teach. 12Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation. 10For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. 11And we want each one of you to show the same diligence, so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, 12so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 13 When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, ‘I will surely bless you and multiply you.’ 15And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. 16Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. 17In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, 18so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. 19We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.
2. What are the lessons for us in Mark 6:1-13 regarding diligence?
He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. 2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offenceat him. 4Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
3. Discuss some of the challenges to being diligent. How do we overcome them?
Refrain: God shall be our guide for evermore.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; in the city of our God is his holy hill. Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion, the very centre of the world and the city of the great king. God is in her citadels; he is known to be her sure refuge. R Behold, the kings of the earth assembled and marched forward together. They looked and were astounded; they retreated and fled in terror. Trembling seized them there; they writhed like a woman in childbirth, like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them. R As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God; God has established her for ever. We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple. Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world's end; your right hand is full of justice. R Let Mount Zion be glad and the cities of Judah rejoice, because of your judgements. Make the circuit of Zion; walk round about her; count the number of her towers. R Consider well her bulwarks; examine her strongholds; that you may tell those who come after. This God is our God for ever and ever; he shall be our guide for evermore. R
1 Peter 5:1-14
Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. 5In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 12 Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you, and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark.14Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. 5By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’ 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Just like David, let us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, continue our acts of love and service notwithstanding oppositions we may face. In due time God will richly reward our diligence.
Closing Prayer (Collect for Sixth Sunday after Pentecost)
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ has taught us that what we do for the least of your children we do also for him. Give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, who gave up his life and died for us, but lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.