1 Samuel 7:3-17 (Part 1) – Trusting God Because of License Plates & Closed Post Offices

Posted: December 9, 2017 in 09-1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 7:3-17 (Part 1 of 3)
Samuel Leads Israel to Victory

Have you ever thought what would have happened in your life if a certain event had not happened? Those moments may have not even seemed significant at the time but when you have time later on down the line, you look back and go “Oh wow! That moment right there was truly pivotal in my life.” Well, Elena and I have one of those moments in a string of oh wow moments back in 2007-2010. There were a series of events back in that time period that are truly pivotal in our relationship with each other and with our respective relationships with the Lord. God’s guiding hand was there. We see it now when looking back. But for today, I want to talk about the last of that pivotal string of events. It has to do with license plates and closed post offices.

License plate and closed post offices? Mark, what are you talking about? Well, you will see why this moment was a pivotal moment. Prior to moving to the Duncan-Lyman-Wellford, SC area, I had been living “temporarily” in Santa Clara/San Jose, CA for three years. Finally, when my job out there was finally considered “permanent”, I finally moved my stuff from storage in South Carolina, Elena’s stuff from her apartment, and the cars out to California. So, Elena and I lived together and then finally married while we were living in our first place together in Livermore, CA (one of the eastern suburbs in the Bay Area). We figured this thing was going to be a permanent gig. So, we became Californians. We registered our cars in California. Got California licenses. The whole smash. We were official California residents. We immersed ourselves in that foreign culture. We enjoyed exploring our newfound homeland every weekend. We also loved “going into the city” as it is called out there. When you go to San Francisco from any of the suburbs, it is called “going into the city.” San Francisco was such a neat place. Art. Culture. History. Great food. So much to see there. We “went into the city” so many times during that year but yet we never saw all the sights. It was a fun experience that I will never forget.

Then, all of sudden the powers that be within the Fujikura world in which I work decided to consolidate my company’s accounting/finance function with that of the rest of US-based Fujikura companies at the US headquarters of our sister company, AFL Telecommunications, in Duncan, SC. So, about one year after my company spent about $20 grand to move my and Elena’s belongings to the Bay Area, they would now spend another $20 grand to move it all back to the east coast. We found a nice home with a big lot in Duncan when we moved back (we lived in that house from August 2010 til we sold it in October 2016 and moved to our current home in the Lyman Mill Village). During that first couple of weeks we lived there in Duncan, we were desperately trying to find a new home church that we could call our home church. We had visited one church and knew that it was NOT it. We were researching on the internet to find a church with a modern worship style and a relentless pastor of the Word and top-notch musicians. We had all that in Livermore. We wanted that here. But back to the story.

But because we had become Californians. We had to become South Carolinians once more. We had to get new South Carolina drivers licenses and car tags. Then, as part of the re-acclimation to South Carolina, we had to mail our California car tags back the California DMV after we had received our SC tags. So, being the great wife that Elena is who takes care of all the details of my life so I don’t have to, she got the tags all prepared to mail. She then that next morning set off for the Duncan post office. But being a small suburban town’s post office, it was actually closed for lunch. Can you believe that? No one’s there from like 12pm to 1:30pm. Well, Elena didn’t have time for that so she pulled out her trusty GPS on her phone and found the nearest next post office was in Lyman. So, she took off to the Lyman post office. While she was there she noticed LifeSong Church across the highway from the Lyman post office. LifeSong did not have the new worship center back in August 2010 but the sign outside was modern but the building looked like an old school church. So, Elena rushed back home after mailing off our car tags back to the California DMV and looked up LifeSong on the internet. Man, it looked and felt like what we had at Livermore. So, we went the next Sunday to check it out. That was on August 15, 2010….and the rest is history. It’s been pretty well documented here in my blogs over the past 4-5 years that we are now in leadership at LifeSong. LifeSong is such an integral part of our lives and we have grown so much spiritually there. No matter where God leads us from this point forward and even if He eventually leads us away from this area, LifeSong will stand as the most instrumental place in our lives. And I cannot overstate that more!!!

And it’s all because of license plates and closed post offices. Every time I pass by Duncan’s post office, I thank God that it was closed that when Elena went by there. We may have never found LifeSong otherwise. So, the Duncan post office is a mile marker for us. Every time I pass by it, I think of God’s providence. Every time I pass by it, I thank God that it was such a small post office that it was closed for lunch.

Those mile marker moments in life is what I thought about after reading today’s passage, 1 Samuel 7:3-17, for the first of three reads today. With that thought in my mind, let’s read it together right now:

3 Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord.

5 Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)

7 When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. 8 “Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel. 9 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.

10 Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.

12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

13 So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time. And throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the Lord’s powerful hand was raised against the Philistines. 14 The Israelite villages near Ekron and Gath that the Philistines had captured were restored to Israel, along with the rest of the territory that the Philistines had taken. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites in those days.

15 Samuel continued as Israel’s judge for the rest of his life. 16 Each year he traveled around, setting up his court first at Bethel, then at Gilgal, and then at Mizpah. He judged the people of Israel at each of these places. 17 Then he would return to his home at Ramah, and he would hear cases there, too. And Samuel built an altar to the Lord at Ramah.

In this passage, we see that the Israelites had great difficulty with the Philistines, but God rescued them. In response, the people set up a large stone as a memorial of God’s great help and deliverance. During tough times or times of transition or just any unique moment in our life history, we may need to remember the crucial turning points in our past to help us through the present. Memorials can help us remember God’s past victories in our lives and as such they can remind us that God will have victory again in our lives.

For Elena and me, we look back at how God’s guiding hand has been in our lives at every point. What seemed like random events to the casual observer of our lives, we see that God’s providence has been all over our lives. This happened leading that happening leading to this happening. It is God pointing and guiding to where we are today. That gives us great confidence for the future. We trust the Lord with our future. We know that He will be ahead of us already addressing what is next for us before we even get there. I think these things because of license plates and closed post offices.

Amen and Amen.

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