Lifetime Service

1 Samuel 7:12-17

12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 13So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. 14The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

15Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.

Fatherhood

After his conversation with his son, a president of a particular seminary in Asia expressed his blessed feeling as father. He said, “My son called for advice about his own children. Yes, my grandchildren! You know what? Once you become parent, you will always be parent to your children even when they grow old and have their own children. No retirement from parenthood.”

Truly, some children may despise their parents when they’re upset, when they demand independence. Loving parents may consider how they relate to children who wish their independence but it doesn’t mean it ends parenthood.

As congregation of believers, do you agree that believers are members of the family of God? Should elected leaders serve as guardians similar to parents’ role in the family? If God chooses church leaders, should they serve the Lord during their lifetime? Lifetime faithful service and love for the welfare of God’s family become possible only for believers whom the Holy Spirit bears fruit.

The ancient Israel did not elect leaders. The rise and fall of Israel can be associated with the spirituality of their leaders. As Israel’s leader, Samuel put his faith in God. When the Philistines attacked, Samuel sought God’s help.

1. Help

12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 13So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. 14The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

The Books of Samuel was attributed to Prophet Samuel but circumstances or incidents surrounding the life story of Samuel were limited. Was it because the Books of Samuel were intended to record the transition of Israel’s leadership from theocracy to monarchy or relying upon God to kingship?

The limited story about Samuel depicted a peaceful life in Israel when Samuel led them. The Israelites didn’t bother to attack even when the Philistines were scared of them. They were satisfied of taking back territories captured by the Philistines. The Philistines or other nations never bothered them again.

The Lord Jesus said in John 14:26-27, 26The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

When the Spirit of Christ bears fruit in us, we can have peace in our lifetime. Enemies never attacked Israel again during the lifetime of Prophet Samuel because Samuel and Israel sought the help of the Lord.

Tailgating

You drive properly according to the traffic speed limit. Yet, there are drivers who may try to force you drive over the speed limit by tailgating. Are you scared or worried when huge trucks or semitrailers come very near your vehicle?

Tailgating exemplifies that enemies do not necessarily attack in front. Smart enemies may approach you from all directions, from every side or even from within. This is why we really need to have peace from Christ.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and told them about the good news. Suddenly, a company of angels appeared and sang praises to God in Luke 2:14, 14Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

What is it that may bother you most in life? Weather? Health? Finances? Studies? Future? Career? Spirituality? Relationship? Favorite sin?

Enemies will try to take away your peace. We can learn from the Israelites. They’ve got peace because they sought the help of the Lord. And it surely helped Israel obeyed the Lord when Samuel held onto his role as leader.

2. Hold

15Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.

Samuel held his office as Israel’s leader in his home in Ramah. Nobody rebelled. Nobody resisted his leadership, why? They saw that God kept Israel peaceful as long as Samuel was their leader. Do you agree that it is biblical for believers to serve God as lifetime leader in a local church?

In Titus 1:5, 5The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

Wait!?! Is this a biblical passage that supports pastors appointing elders?

Apostle Paul started a church in Crete and assigned Titus to be the pastor. The church in Crete was still spiritually young, and members may not know how to choose spiritual leaders, yet. To elect or not elders, both are not mentioned in the Bible. By faith we trust that God utilize it to elect elders or not. So, in the later years of the first century church, it’s possible that they elected church elders just as the 12 Apostles instructed the Jerusalem church to select deacons.

When the church in Jerusalem has increased in numbers, some ministries were neglected, and the 12 Apostles instructed the church in Acts 6:3-4,

3Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.

It was division of labor in the church ministries. The Apostles focused on spiritual aspect of ministries in the church, and the seven men who served as deacons, took care of the practical aspects of the ministries in the church.

Term or designated years of service for elders and deacons is never recorded. It is more likely that church elders and deacons served as long as they were able physically. In the Old Testament, the Lord has designated ages for the Levites who served actively in the ministries in the Tabernacle.

The Lord decreed for Levites in Numbers 8:24-26. 24This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, 25but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.

The Levites who served the Lord in the Tabernacle retired at 50 because their responsibilities included carrying heavy materials that demanded physical flexibility or quick reflexes. They have to carry, slaughter and burn the animal offerings of the Israelites. Retired Levites may chose to assist but not responsible to carry out the heavy works in the tent of meeting or Tabernacle.

Service to the Lord is lifetime as long as one is able. Why? The Lord desires faithful service. And, faithfulness comes only from the Spirit of God.

You may have heard church-goers who wish to transfer or prayerfully seek God’s leading if the Lord wants them to serve Him in another local church.

Well, there is no single church where God wants everyone to serve Him.

We should serve God wherever He calls us to serve Him. If believers are not happy serving God in one church, it is possible that God is calling them to go and serve in churches He has already prepared for them. Believers whom God has called, He has prepared ministries to experience gladness serving the Lord.

It is futile serving in a church you don’t feel joy and peace from God. God has designated a particular ministry for each genuine believer. That’s for sure!

It says in Philippians 4:7, 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Be sure that you have God’s peace in every decision you make. If you serve God because God has called you, He will sustain you and give you peace even if you cannot explain it eloquently. It is God’s blessing to live in peace.

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