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Faith Over Hype

1 Samuel 4

1 And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel. At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it[a] will save us from our enemies.”4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, 7 they panicked. “The gods have[b] come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! 8 Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!”10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day.

If you have known me for any amount of time, you’ll know that I am a person who likes to be caught in the middle of the excitement. I love big Church conferences. I like preaching with enthusiasm. I look forward to doing outreaches in adventurous, hard to reach places. I like the yelling, dancing and flags during worship. I love listening to dramatic testimonies that inspire us to dream big with God. I love when the Church is full and we are enthusiastically praising God, it is exciting and I cherish it. The exciting moments and events are refreshing, energizing and cause me to press even further into God’s promises. I believe oftentimes these “Hype” moments can be a shot into our spirits that wake us up and remind us there is more… 

Of course, there's a subtle danger of being caught in the Hype. Hype is fun, but hype is not the everyday reality of our faith. Hype is energizing, but cannot sustain us through the storms of everyday life. When we try to make hype moments a substitute for the daily walk of knowing God through Worship, Word and Life Group, we are setting ourselves up for massive disappointment, when we come to realize the hype moments are no longer meeting the bar of expectation, and that our lives are still overrun by the enemy. In order to avoid the situation Israel has found themselves in, we all have to realize that events and excitement about what God can do are not what saves us. Jesus saves, and it’s our responsibility to daily learn to pick up our own cross and follow Him. As we do this daily, we become perpetually delivered from the enemy’s assault toward our lives. From this place of discipleship, the hype moments become gas on an already burning fire. 

Why has Israel found themselves in the predicament detailed above? Their faith walk is out of order, they are throwing gas on the ground and expecting a raging fire to combust out of thin air. They have substituted their daily walk with Hype moments. They have disregarded their covenant with God, to walk with Him day by day. They don’t know Him and He is certainly not dwelling among them. The ark of the covenant has become a prop, the Presence is not with them and they quickly discover this reality when confronted by an enemy who is warring to oppress them. Though they are enthusiastic about what God can do and they are making a lot of noise while the ground is shaking beneath them they are being caught up in this hype moment. They are also failing to realize God is not actually moving on their behalf and the excitement of the hype is causing them to fail to realize this sobering reality. Because God is not with them, there is no anointing or grace to protect them from the assault of the enemy. In fact, this hype moment is actually stirring the enemy up against them to an even greater degree. 

Where did they go wrong? When did they lose sight of the daily commitment? 

At this point Israel is at the end of a season of poor spiritual leadership under Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phineaus. As a result they have wandered from God. They have abandoned Him in their hearts and have all but ignored the responsibility to seek His will for their nation on a day to day basis. They have replaced putting their trust in the fiery presence of God while hoping for a saving experience built around hype and excitement. As stated earlier there is nothing wrong with hype and excitement, but if your hype moments are the whole substance of your faith walk then you may have confused human exuberance with the presence and power of God.

In my humble opinion, this is a picture of where the American Church has been headed for a number of years. Completely overrun by the enemy. Why? We have become an event and experience addicted people. Maybe we don't realize it, but we overly emphasize the next big event in the name of Jesus, and often forget to steward the daily call to lay our lives down in order to actually know Him. Again, I love big exciting events as much or more than anyone else. I want to also caution myself to not replace the daily experience of growing in faith by submitting to Jesus with simply looking forward to the next big hype event.



Pastor John

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