David: A Man after God’s Own Heart |IN THE PRESENCE OF TRUE GREATNESS in 1 Samuel 18:5-16

measure-of-greatnessHow do you measure greatness?  Is true greatness seen in how much money a person has?  Can it be determined by the car they drive, the size of the house they live in, or in the status that have achieved in life?  Is true greatness recognizable by one’s achievements in life?  For instance, if an actor wins an Oscar has he or she achieved greatness?  If an athlete topples longstanding records, have they achieved greatness?  If someone is able to do what no one else has ever done before, have they achieved true greatness?  Some would say “Yes!”  But, I have the sneaking suspicion that God would say “No!” I think God would say, “True greatness is not measured by what you achieve in life, but how you live your life.”  (Ill. Job 1:8 – God declared Job’s greatness.)  The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

We can see this principle fleshed out in the life of David.  In this passage, David is just a young lad.  He is a kid fresh from his first battle; but he has already achieved what so few people ever achieve in this life: David has achieved true greatness.  I would like to take this text and share with you a few observations from the life of David.  These observations reveal why I say that David has achieved true greatness; and they tell us how we can achieve it too.  I would like to take this passage and preach on the subject: In The Presence Of True Greatness.

  I. v. 5, 14, 30  THE PRESENTATION OF DAVID’S LIFE

(Ill. Three times in this chapter we are told that “David behaved himself wisely.”  This phrase speaks of someone “walking properly.”  It refers “to a person who knows how to carry themselves.”  It  speaks of more than mere manners.  It speaks of a person who watches what they say, what they do, and how they act; because they know they are being watched.  It has the idea of walking “accurately and carefully,” as if one were navigating a minefield.  It is the kind of walk we are all called upon to exhibit, Eph. 5:15. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” There are three areas were this accurate, careful walk of David was on display.)

  1. v. 5  He Behaved Himself Well In Spite Of Life’s Promotions – After David defeated Goliath, he continued to prove himself to be a faithful, loyal subject day by day. David did not allow his victory over the Philistine to go to his head.  David knew he was climbing to the top, but he was willing to take the climb one step at a time.

(Note: There is always a danger when we see some measure of success in our walk with the Lord.  When God allows us to see a victory or two, we need to beware of the snare of pride.  It has a way of telling us that we are greater than we actually are.  Thank God for the victories He gives, but be careful that they do not go to your head, Pro. 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”; 1 Cor. 10:12.)

  1.  v. 14  He Behaved Himself Well In Spite Of Life’s Problems – Even when Saul tried to kill him, David still carried himself the right way.  David could have become bitter, or he could have been overcome by a desire for revenge.  Instead, David continued to carry himself well and set a good example.

(Note: Often, it’s the problems of life that throw us off course.  Some unexpected calamity will blindside us and we will be down and out before we know it.  A sign of true greatness in one’s faith is the ability to continue to walk the right way in the right path, even when things are not going well in your life. Ill. Paul – Phil. 4:11-13; Ill. Job – Job 1:20-21.)

1. v. 30  He Behaved Himself Well In Spite Of Life’s Possibilities – David has, through the providence of God, become far more popular than King Saul.  David has married into Saul’s family.  David has been blessed and he has prospered greatly in Israel.  He is in a position to attempt an overthrow of Saul’s kingdom.  After all, he is the king!  But, instead of trying to elevate himself; David is content to wait on the Lord.  David continues to carry himself well in spite of the opportunity to promote himself.

(Note:  Be very careful when it seems that you are on the way up.  There is a tendency for us to blow our own horn.  But, if we are wise, and if we are walking properly; we will leave the horn tooting to the Lord.  He knows where we are and He knows how to elevate us in His time.  Our duty is to live for Him and make a proper presentation of our lives before others for His glory.  After all, the Bible says, “charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,” 1 Cor. 13:4-5.)

(Note: David may have been a young man, but he set the kind of example that we all need to follow.  He lived a wise and balanced life for the glory of God.  He lived a life that honored God and a life that God could honor.  I don’t know about you, but I am interested in living that kind of life also.)

II. v. 10-13         THE PRIORITIES OF DAVID’S LIFE

(Another example of the greatness of David’s young life is the priorities he exhibited.  These were not easy days for young David.  He has been uprooted from his home.  He has found instant fame from killing Goliath.  And, he has found a bitter enemy in the person of King Saul, v. 9.  Still David remains faithful in his priorities.  He carried on with his assignments in spite of all the difficulties he faced.  Notice how David demonstrated faithfulness to the priorities of his life.)

  1. v. 10  David Was Surrendered – David knew the king was against him, still David walked into that throne room, picked up that harp and played his music.  He had a job to do, and he did it faithfully.
  2. v. 11  David Was Steadfast – In his hatred, Saul attempted to kill David.  But, notice the phrase, “And David avoided out of his presence twice.”  Saul tried to kill David and David ran away.  I don’t know about you, but that would have probably finished me up.  I would have turned in my resignation and headed back to the sheep fold.  But not David!  He was steadfast.  Even though Saul tried to kill him, David returned to his post and continued doing the job he had been assigned to do.
  3. v. 13  David Was Submissive – Even after Saul attempted to take his life, David kept on serving the evil king.  David took his new assignment and carried to out to the best of his ability.

(Note: In these three verses, David sets a good example for you and for me.  Often the difference between the average Christian and the great Christian comes down to a simple matter of priorities.

You see, we do the things that are important to us.  Those things you attach value to determine the priorities of your life.  Everything in your life is touched by this principle.  For instance, your church attendance will be determined by what priority it holds in your life.  The same is true of prayer, Bible study, witnessing, etc, etc.  You do what you think is important.

David’s standard of living is one from which we could all take a lesson.  At some point, David had determined to be faithful in spite of injury; in spite of trouble; in spite of difficulty.  He had made up his mind that he was going to be surrendered, steadfast and submissive to the king, regardless of what took place in his life.

This is how we should all be this evening.  In fact, this is God’s will for each of His children, 1 Cor. 15:58; Rom. 12:1-2.  But, aren’t we guilty of allowing everything in the world hinder our walk with and faithfulness to the things of God?  We need to make up our minds that He will be the first priority of our lives.  If he is, then we will have no trouble serving Him like He deserves to be served!  If He isn’t, we will have trouble in this area, which will lead to trouble in all areas of our lives.)

III.  v. 17-23        THE PERCEPTION OF DAVID’S LIFE

(David’s greatness can also be seen in how he was perceived by the people around him and by himself.)

v. 7-9; 15; 29The Private Perception Of David’s Life– How King Saul perceived David – King Saul hated David and wanted him dead.  When he looked at David, he looked at him through jealous eyes.  He saw a young man who was everything he himself was not.  He saw a young man who walked with God.  He saw a young man who carried himself well.  He saw a young man who was ambitious, faithful and clean.  And, Saul hated him because of it.  Saul hated David so much that he tried to kill him with his own hand.  When that didn’t work, he tried to kill David through deceit, v. 17-25.   Saul hated David, but he hated him because God was with David and not with Saul.  He hated David because David walked with God.

The Public Perception of David’s Life – How the people of Israel perceived David – Saul’s private perception of David was one thing, but the public’s perception of David’s life was altogether different.

v. 5 Saul’s Servants – The people in the king’s palace saw how David carried himself and they were impressed with David.

v. 5, 16, 30 Saul’s Subjects – All of the people saw God’s hand on David’s life and they were impressed with him.

v. 1-4, 20, 28 Saul’s Son and Daughter – Even Saul’s own children, Jonathan and Michal love David.  There is something about his life that touches them as well.

The Personal Perception of David’s Life – How David perceived himself – The only person in Israel who seems to be unaware of David’s greatness is David.  When it is mentioned that he might become the king’s son in law, David speaks about his own unworthiness, v. 17-23.  David isn’t nearly as impressed with David as the others were.

(Note: Here is one of the most powerful secrets of obtaining greatness.  The person who possesses true greatness will be the last one to know it!

All around us, there are plenty of people who want us to know how great they think they are.  They are always talking about themselves and their achievements.  They are constantly elevating themselves and exalting themselves above others.  But, the truly great person will never be in the business of lifting up his own name or promoting his own fame.  In fact, he will be amazed when others lift his name and talk about his greatness.  This was the kind of spirit that David possessed and it is the same spirit that we should all strive to have within us.  This was also the spirit that dwelt within the Apostle Paul, “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.” 2 Cor. 12:11.

The Bible has something to say about this matter of self-perception:

Listen to Proverbs 27:2, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

Listen to Proverbs 26:12, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Listen to 2 Cor. 10:12, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

The person who must toot his own horn to get attention and recognition is not a wise person, according to the Bible.  It is far better to let the Lord exalt us, in His time, than it is for us to be in the business of exalting ourselves.  Listen to 2 Cor. 10:18, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

In fact, it is unwise to listen to closely to what others say about you!  Folks will love you today and tell you how great you are; but just cross them up, and they will turn on you like a rabid dog!  Live for God and let Him do the exalting; beware of thoughts of personal greatness and don’t believe all the good things others say about you!)

VI. v. 12, 14            THE POWER OF DAVID’S LIFE

(Ill. David presented himself the right way; had his priorities in the right order and had a proper perception of his own life because things were in order between him and the Lord. All of these other things were possible in David’s life because his relationship with God was what it ought to have been.  When you get right down to it, a right relationship with the lord is the first, essential step on the pathway to true greatness in life.)

  1. David’s Relationship With The Lord  David was in a faith relationship with God.  He was able to say this in Psalm 23:1, “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” David knew God is a personal way.  His was not a faith based in what his parents knew.  He did not worship God vicariously through the prophet Samuel.  David knew God on a personal level and that made all the difference in his life.
  2. David’s Resources In The Lord  It is said that “God was with him.”  David was able to do all that he did because God was with him.  He had favor with man because God was with him.  He had humility and grace in his life because God was with him.

(Note: If you would be great in this life, the first step will be found in your relationship with God.  Salvation is the key ingredient in achieving true greatness in life.  You see, you might amass fortunes; you might achieve fame and status among men; your name might be a household word; but if you are not saved by the grace of God, you are nothing! When this life ends, and it will, what will you have to show for your life?  Nothing but an eternity in Hell!  True greatness is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

David: A Man after God’s Own Heart |SURVIVING GIANT COUNTRY in 1 Samuel 17:32-40

david-vs-goliathIntro:  Part of God’s training plan for David involved God placing the young man in some difficult situations.  In those difficult times, David learned to trust the Lord and walk in the power of God, not the power of the flesh.  David learned the lessons necessary to survive life, and not just to survive, but to thrive in life.  We see David in one of the most desperate times of his life in these verses.  Here, David trusts God for some big things, and in return, he sees God do the miraculous.

Now, I know we have all heard these verses preached and re-preached countless times.  And, it is doubtful that I will have anything new to add to what you already know this evening.  But, I feel that there are some helpful instructions contained here that, if followed, can help us to lead a more victorious life.  I also know that I am preaching to people who are battling giants today.  Some of you are facing some pretty significant giants in your life.  I believe these verses can help.

As we watch David walk into the Valley of Elah and face a 9 foot 9 inch giant, we can see some much needed instructions about how we can survive when we are in giant country.  I want to help you this evening and share those instructions with you as I try to preach on the subject, Surviving Giant Country.

 Verse 17-24        SURVIVAL IS A MATTER OF TIMING

This day for David began like any other day. 15 He plans to tend his sheep and do the same things he has done day after day for years.  But, this day will be different!  Jesse sends David to check on David’s three elder brothers who are fighting in Saul’s army.  They have been gone at least 40 days, 1 Sam. 17:16, and Jesse is worried.  You see, in those days countries did not have standing armies.  Ordinary citizens would rally around the king when he called for volunteers to fight.

So, David goes to his brothers as he is commanded.  When he arrives, he finds the armies of Israel cowering in fear because of the taunts of Goliath, (Ill. Goliath and his stats).  Even King Saul appears to be too afraid to face the giant in battle.

But, while the army of Saul hides in their tents, David hears the giant as he blasphemes the Name of God and shames the people of God.  David’s day had started like countless other days had started, but before the sun went down, David found himself face to face with a mighty big giant.

  1. Isn’t that just how the giants of life come to you and me?  They rarely give notice that they are coming.  You get up one morning, expecting that day to be like any other day, and there it stands: a giant has entered your life.  When they come, they always catch us off guard and they always frighten us.  We look up at them and, most of the time; we have no idea what to do.
  2. If we are going to survive in giant country, we need to understand that giants don’t just show up; their appearance is well timed.  Now, from our perspective, they just appear. But, from God’s perspective, they are all part of His perfect plan for us.

If we could ever grasp the truth that nothing comes our way apart from the will of God, it would change our attitude toward the giants of life.  Passages like, Rom. 8:28; Psa. 37:23 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way”; Job 23:10 “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”; Jer. 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”, etc would become real to us and they would bring great comfort to our hearts.

(Ill. Most of the time, we are just like Israel.  They had wandered through the wilderness for two years after they left Egypt.  They had arrived at the banks of the Jordan River. All they had to do was cross the river and take the Promised Land of blessing that God had already given to them.  Instead of going in and taking the land, they first sent in 12 spies.  The spies looked over the land and came back with their report.  10 of the spies were convinced of Israel’s defeat because of the presence of giants in the Promised Land.  The spies own words tell the story best, Num. 13:23-33.  The people heeded the negative report of 10 men and had to spend 38 more years in the wilderness.

Here’s the point of all that: did God know about the giants?  Could He have removed them before Israel arrived? Did He allow them to be there?  The answer to all those questions is “Yes!”  Yes, He knew they were there.  Yes, He could have removed them.  Yes, He allowed them to be there.  God wanted Israel to face those giants.  40 years later, when they came back to the Jordan River, guess what, the giants were still there waiting, Deut. 9:1-3.  By the way this same principle is seen over and over in the Bible – 3 Hebrews in the furnace, Dan. 3; Daniel in the lion’s den, Dan. 6; Disciples in the storm, Mark 6:45; etc.  God knew about all of those events because they were part of His perfect plan! )

  1. Here is what I am trying to tell you: When that giant showed up in your life, it did not get there by accident.  That giant is there by the providence of God.  It is there because God sent it, allowed it, or however you want to say it.  It is there because God, in His precise timing, wanted you to face it when it came to you.

When the giants come, we can get depressed and defeated; or we can realize that they are a tangible symbol of God working out His will in our lives.  We can be like Saul and Israel and we can hide from the giant; or we can be like David and we can face the giant.  We can be discouraged, or we can do like Job and worship in spite of what the giant is doing in our lives, Job 1:20-21.  The choice is your.  But, if we can ever understand that giants come according to God’s timing; it will help us survive in giant country.

Verse 25-40 SURVIVAL IS A MATTER OF TRUSTING

When David hears the threats and defiance of Goliath, he determines that something must be done about this giant.  He makes his intentions known, v. 26-32; and David sets out to see Goliath defeated. But, as soon as David expresses his desire to see the giant defeated, he is met with criticism, v. 28, and doubt, v. 33. Yet, as we watch David move toward the moment when he will face off with the giant; we see a young man who has learned something about faith and trust in the Lord.

  1.   David has learned about God’s Purposes –1 Sam. 16:13 – David had been anointed as king to sit on a throne.  David knew that he would not die this day.
  2.   David has learned about God’s Protection – v. 34-37 – David knew that everything God had done in the past, he was still able to do.
  3.   David has learned about God’s Power– v. 38-40 – David knew that victory did not reside in swords, shields, spears, armor and bows, but in the mighty power of God. He would go into this battle with the same God and the same weapons he had used before.

In other words, David’s trust was not in the army, the armor or the armaments; David’s trust was in Almighty God.  The same God Who had protected him and given his victory after victory on the hills of Judea, would grant him the victory in the Valley of Elah! For David, there was only one giant there that day and His name was not Goliath. The only giant David had in his life was the Lord God Almighty, v. 26; 32; 36-37.

What a lesson for those of us who also face giants from time to time!  If we could ever learn the same lessons that David learned about fighting giants; we could make short work of them all.  Here is what you need to know:

  1.   God did not save you for some giant to destroy – God saved you to take you home to glory some day!  That giant cannot undo the eternal work God has already done in your soul, Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 1:12 “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  That giant is there as part of God’s eternal plan in your life.  That giant is there to grow you, Num. 14:9.  There’s nothing quite like cutting your teeth on a few giants to help your faith grow stronger.  You can trust God’s Purposes!
  2.   God will not change courses in the middle of the stream – He will always be that which He has ever been.  One of the greatest attributes of our Lord is His immutability.  That simply means His unchangeableness!  God is a God who cannot change, Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8!  The same God who did all those marvelous, miraculous things we read about in the Bible is still the same God today!  You’ve heard about the Red Sea; the Manna; Water from a Rock; the Meal Barrel and the Cruse of Oil; the Loaves and the Fishes; the Raising of Lazarus; etc.  Well, the same God who did all those things and countless others is still our God today!  Ill. His Name says it all – Ex. 3:14.  He is the self-existent; changeless God! You can trust God’s Protection!

(Ill. We seem to have no trouble remembering our past defeats; but we have real trouble remembering that victories the Lord has given.  Think about it!  We can remember every valley; but can’t seem to remember even one mountain top.)

3.God will never fail those who place their trust in Him – Those who trust men, methods and materials can and will fail.  But, those who place their unwavering trust in God and His power will never fail.  You see, our God is not a weak, anemic God.  No!  He is a God of power; a God of glory; a God who is ever moving in mighty ways to make His power known.  Those who trust Him as they face the giants of life can see that power work in their lives by faith.  God is powerful, Luke 1:38; Matt. 28:18; Jer. 32:17.  And, those who walk with their faith in Him can experience that power, Heb. 11:1; Eph. 3:20; Ill. God is “able” – Dan. 3:17; Dan. 6:20; Heb. 7:25.

Where is your trust as you face the giants of life?  Is it in man; in the economy; in self?  Those will all fail.  As we face our giants let us be certain that our faith and our dependence is in the Lord.  He and He alone will never fail!  Our survival depends on our being able to trust Him.

Verse 41-54              SURVIVAL IS A MATTER OF TAKING

There comes a time when talk must stop and action must begin.  The time had come for David to take that which he had already been given by the Lord.  He walked down into that valley; faced that giant; declared his faith in God; slung that stone; and killed that giant.  What a moment it must have been in young David’s life to see God do that which no one but David believed possible!

Friends, there is a time when the talking needs to stop and the taking needs to begin!  As we face our own giants day by day, isn’t it about time that we started taking by faith some of the things we have only talked about up until now?

For instance, we talk about God providing for us, 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  But, we still worry over our finances.

We talk about God’s grace in every situation in life,2 Cor. 12:9.  But, we still act like we aren’t going to make it.

We talk about God being in control of our lives, Romans 8:28.  But, we live like our lives are out of control.

Isn’t it time we stopped talking about all we could have in Jesus and we just started taking it?  David defeated Goliath because he was willing to take what God had given him by faith.  The same thing will work in your life and mine today!  As we face our giants, we have already been promised victory, 1 Cor. 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:37; let’s take it.  How? By doing what David did?

  1.   Place your trust in the Lord.
  2.   Believe that He can do everything that He has ever done.
  3.   Then, walk into your valley, square off with your giant and keep slinging until he falls.  I am convinced that is the reason David took five stones to kill one giant.  He knew he might miss on the first shot and he aimed to keep slinging stones until he had the victory.

David “A Man after God’s own Heart | HOW GOD BUILDS A KING in 1 Samuel 16:14-23

king-david-184x184At one point in his life, King Saul had been used of the Lord to accomplish great things.  Yet, these verses find the king living through desperate days.  Because of Saul’s rebellion, God removed His Spirit from the king and allowed an evil spirit to torment him.  Saul was gripped by depression, v. 23, and violent mood swings, 1 Sam. 18:8-12; 19:9-10. In an effort to help their master, Saul’s servants suggested that he find someone who was skilled on the harp.  It was thought that music might calm the spirit of King Saul, v. 16.  It has been said that, “music hath charms to soothe the savage beast,” and apparently it worked with Saul, v. 23.  It is against this backdrop of depression, madness and spiritual tragedy that David is once again thrust onto the stage.

While David had already been anointed to be the next king of Israel; Saul was allowed to occupy the throne until his successor was fully trained.  God even used the madness of King Saul to help train the young shepherd boy for his future role as king of Israel.  In fact, God used four very specialized tools to train young David for his role as the king of Israel. David probably would have never chosen these four tools for himself, but they were used of God to prepare him for the work that lay ahead.  God’s use of these four tools in the life of David reveals to us How God Builds A King.

Agostino d’ Antonio, a sculptor of Florence, Italy, wrought diligently but unsuccessfully on a large piece of marble. “I can do nothing with it,” he finally said. Other sculptors, too, worked with the piece of marble, but they, too, gave up the task. The stone was discarded. It lay on a rubbish heap for forty years.

Out strolling one day, Michelangelo saw the stone and the latent possibilities in it. It was brought to his studio. He began to work on it. Ultimately, his vision and work were crowned with success. From that seemingly worthless stone was carved one of the world’s masterpieces of sculpture—”David!”

I am interested in this today because it is these same four tools that God uses when He seeks to train us.  You see, God did not save us to leave us as He found us.  He saved us to change us, 2 Cor. 5:17.  Specifically, He saved us to transform us into the image of His Son, into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 8:28; Eph. 4:11-13.  To accomplish this, God uses certain tools in your life and mine.  These tools are perfectly suited to the work of transformation.  Let’s take a few minutes this evening to look into these verses and observe the tools God uses as He seeks to build Himself a king.  I want to preach on the subject: How God Builds A King

First in verse 19 GOD USES THE TOOL OF SOLITUDE

It was on the lonely hills of Judea, with a flock of sheep for his companions; the starry sky as his cathedral and the vast expanse of nature as his classroom that David learned some of the most valuable and basic lessons of life.  He learned how to be alone with God and with himself.  Away from the distractions and noise of others,

  • David learned how to hear the voice of God.
  • David learned how to commune with God.
  • David learned how to worship the Lord.
  • David learned how to be at peace with himself. There is no value that can be placed on those kinds of lessons. They are priceless!

Of course, many in our day have no idea what its like to be alone with God.  It seems they have trouble being alone.  They cannot survive without noise, without activity and without the company of others. I would suggest to you that if you have trouble being alone with yourself that you probably have some issues with your inner life that need to be dealt with. Jesus Christ sought time to be alone with His Father.

Mark 1:35, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Luke 4:42, “And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.

Luke 6:12, “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

John 6:15, “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

If the Son of God saw the value and needed the benefit of being alone with the Lord, how much more do we need that kind of intimacy with the Father?  We should not fear the times of solitude, when God shuts us off with Himself. It is in the times of solitude that we learn to hear His voice and walk with Him.  It is in the times of solitude that God prepares us for greater things!  Therefore, make the time and take the time to get alone with God, away from the hustle and bustle of life.  Find you a place where you can commune with God in secret; a place where you can hear His voice without all the distractions of life clamoring for your attention.  God uses the tool of solitude.

Secondly in Verse 18 GOD USES THE TOOL OF SECRECY

Before David would ever sit on the throne and rule the nation of Israel; he would first spend countless hours alone, unacknowledged and unappreciated.  Day after Day David spent his time with his father’s sheep on the lonely hills of Judea.

  • There, David learned to be faithful to his responsibilities, even though no one else was watching.
  • He learned obedience.
  • He learned humility.
  • He learned to be watchful.
  • He learned lessons in the secret places that he could have never learned in the places of prominence.
  • He was trained in the classroom of obscurity; and when he finally received the attention and applause of others; it did not go to his head, because he had learned the lesson that he had no one to please but the Lord.

God always trains His people in private before He uses them in public. Before Elijah stood in power on Carmel, he learned to walk with God faithfully in private, 1 Kings 17-18.  Before Elisha stood tall before Israel as the prophet of God, he learned to serve in the background as he followed Elijah.  Before Moses was fit to lead Israel, he spent forty years in the shadow of Mount Horeb leading Jethro’s sheep.

Therefore, we should never despise the days of obscurity. We all have lofty dreams.  We all want to be used greatly by the Lord.  We want God to do through us what we have heard of Him doing through others.  But, we must also realize that it may not be God’s will for us to do what others have done!  God knows where we are and in His time, He will use us when, where and to the extent He chooses.

I am convinced that some of those who are big dogs in their own eyes and in the eyes of others will have to step aside as some of the unknown saints of God move to the head of the line on judgment day.  I am convinced that some of God’s greatest rewards are reserved for those precious saints who have labored in the secret closets of prayer. He has saved His best for those who have gone unnoticed, unrecognized, unacknowledged and unappreciated.  He has something special waiting on those who have carried the load and borne the burden for others.  He will not forget those who have paid the price in prayer and sacrificed their all for the cause of Christ!  Men may never see you in that secret place, but God will not forget you, ever!

Therefore, carry on precious saints of God!  There is a payday someday.  God may use you in a public way and He may not, but as He trains you in your secret place, He is getting glory to Himself and that is all that matters!

Thirdly in Verse 11, 19, 17:15 GOD USES THE TOOL OF SAMENESS

There can be little doubt that day blended into day as David went about the monotony of keeping his Father’s sheep. Countless days, endless routines, the same things day in and day out. This is what marked the life of David.

But, it was in the monotonous routine of life that David learned to be a man of God. It was there, alone on those mountains, doing the same things day after day that David learned the priceless lessons of faithfulness. David applied himself to the task of giving his best during the mundane times of life. Then, when God promoted him, he did not have to learn to be faithful; he already knew how. He did not have to learn responsibility; he had already learned that lesson. God used the unending monotony of the routine to shape David for greater things.

The same is true for us.  Often day blends into day and we see our lives as nothing but a boring, monotonous existence.  What we fail to see is that God is working, even during the routine times of our lives.  As life unfolds, day upon changeless day, we learn to be faithful in the little things; we learn to be faithful to God.  As we learn faithfulness in the seemingly insignificant areas of Life, God  will expand our level of responsibility, Matthew 25:21, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” When life seems like drudgery, just keep walking faithfully with God; He is preparing you for greater things.

Therefore, let me encourage you to remain faithful in the little things.  For, in the final analysis, the little things are the foundation of our lives.

  • Keep praying, even when it appears that He isn’t hearing.
  • Keep going to church, even when it seems nothing much is happening.
  • Keep giving, even when it gets tight financially.
  • Keep living for Jesus, day in and day out, refuse to turn back or waiver from following him. In His time, He will bless you and reward you for being faithful during the routine times of life.

Lastly, in Chapter 17:34-37; 40-51 GOD USES THE TOOL OF STRUGGLE

David’s life was not all about the mundane and the routine.

  • We hear him tell about encounters he had with a lion and bear,1 Sam. 17:34-37.
  • We watch as he walks alone into a valley and kills a giant named Goliath,1 Sam. 17:40-51.
  • We see him ignored,1 Sam. 16:11;
  • criticized,1 Sam. 17:28
  • and underestimated,1 Sam. 17:33; 43-44.
  • We can even see him as he is hated and pursued by King Saul,1 Sam. 18:8-12; 19:9-10.

God used the classroom of adversity as a valuable tool designed to teach David about the power, provision and providence of God.

There are times when the monotony of our lives is shattered by the harsh blows of adversity.  God’s purpose in those times is not to hurt us, but to grow us, 2 Cor. 4:15-17; Rom. 8:28-29.  He desires to teach us patience, faith and dependence upon Him.  In order to do that, He sends us trials and adversity.  After all, nothing teaches us more about the love, faithfulness and power of God than having Him safely lead us through one of life’s valleys. (Ill. Many of the great people in the pages of Scripture learned more about the Lord in the furnace of affliction than they ever could have otherwise.  Ill. 3 Hebrews, Daniel, Elijah, Widow of Zarephath; Noah; Widow of Nain; Mary, Martha and Lazarus; Jairus; Thief on the Cross, etc.)

As David was honed upon the wheel of life, God was shaping the boy into the man who would become king. Verse 18 gives a glimpse of the man David would one day become.

  • He Is Was A Skilled Man – The word “cunning” means “an artist, faithful and trustworthy in his art.”  It refers to those who are “wise, capable, resourceful in every facet of conduct.”  David learned all of the skills he would need as king while he watched his sheep.  God uses the tools we have mentioned to teach us the skills we need to be used of Him.
  • He Is Was A Strong Man – When David is called “a mighty, valiant man, a man of war” it refers to courage he had developed as he led the flocks in the hard places.  As he fought off the lions and the bears; and as he defended the flock against the Philistines; he was shaped by the hand of the Lord, and David demonstrated the attribute of great courage.  This trait was another crafted in David’s life by the tools we have discussed.  This courage would serve David well as king.
  • He Is Was A Shrewd Man – The phrase “prudent in matters” means that David was “careful in his speech.”  He knew when to speak and he knew when to listen.
  • He Is Was A Striking Man – David is said to be “comely.”  This refers to his physical appearance as well as the overall manner in which he presented himself.  David had an air about him that drew men to him.
  • He Is Was A Sanctified Man – David’s greatest attribute was the fact that “the Lord is with Him.”  David was a consecrated man who moved through life with the breath of Heaven on him.  Not only was he a special person outwardly, but he was a special person inwardly as well.  He heart was as refined as his body.  The is another characteristic that was forged in the furnaces of Solitude, Secrecy, Sameness and Struggle.  It is this characteristic that enabled David to become “a man after God’s Own heart.”

 

 

 

David “A Man after God’s own Heart | How God Chooses in 1 Samuel 16:1-13

chosen-by-godThree thousand years ago, God chose a young man named David to be the king of Israel.  Out of all the sons of Jesse, the favor of God landed on a lad named David.  David was the youngest son of a poor farmer from the tiny hamlet of Bethlehem.  David was a young man who was not even respected by the members of his own family.  He was a nobody, living in a family of nobodies.  Yet, by the grace of God, David became the greatest king in the history of the nation of Israel.  He also became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is listed among the great heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.  During his life, he received great promises and remarkable blessings from the hand of God.  But, greatest of all, David became a man after God’s Own heart.  This was not David’s own testimony, but this is the testimony of God, Acts 13:22.

I would like to spend several Sundays seeking to understand how this humble shepherd boy became a man after God’s Own heart.  Some may wonder why we would even bother to spend time on a man who has been dead some three thousand years.  The short answer to that is this: David achieved in his life something that God wants each of His children to achieve.  David achieved something that many of us fail to accomplish.  David became a man after God’s Own heart and a study of his life can teach us how to do that too.

Now, David was not perfect. In fact, he was far from it!  He failed, and he failed big, but he kept short accounts with God.  He sinned, but he was quick to confess and he manifested genuine heart repentance.  David has much that he can teach us about obedience, faith and worship.  So, as the Lord leads in these coming weeks, let’s look together at David: A Man after God’s Own Heart.

1 Samuel 16:1-13

HOW GOD CHOOSES

Intro: This chapter opens with God reminding Samuel of the fact that He has rejected Saul as king of Israel.  Saul was chosen as king because the people wanted to be like the other nations around them, 1 Sam. 8:1-5.  Up to that point, God had ruled the nation, raising up leaders as they were needed.  This was how things operated all way from the time of Moses through the days of the Judges.  They were warned that elevating a man to the throne would bring political corruption and trouble, 1 Sam. 8:7-21.  When Saul was chosen to be their king, the people were elated.  He was fine physical specimen, standing head and shoulders taller than anyone else in Israel, 1 Sam. 9:2.  While he may have been a giant among men, he was a spiritual pygmy!  Saul was a jealous man, who lived for the praises of the people.  He tended to overstep his boundaries and was guilty of gross disobedience to the commands of the Lord.  As a result, the Lord proved to Israel the dangers of a human king and God rejected Saul as the king of His people.

As a result of Saul’s rebellion, God chooses a new king to rule over Israel.  He chooses a young man named David.  When God chooses David, He chooses an unlikely candidate for such a lofty and powerful office.  In God’s choice of David as king, we are allowed to see something of the process God uses when He would choose someone to work for Him.

Today, I want to preach for a little while on How God Chooses.  It may be that He has His hand on someone in this very room.  It may be that He is about to choose someone from our number to go to work for Him.  I know He is looking for such people this evening.  Let’s notice the teachings in this passage as we think about How God Chooses

In verse 1 we see GOD’S CHOICES ARE SOVEREIGN

  1. His Choice Involves Sovereign Providence – It is against the backdrop of rebellion and rejection that God begins the process of choosing a new king for Israel.  He was ready to raise up a new king and the people had been made ready to accept a new king.  God worked behind the scenes during those difficult days in Israel’s history to prepare the way for His plan to be fulfilled.
  2. His Choice Involves Sovereign Planning – Next, Samuel is told where to go to find the new king.  It appears that the Lord had been arranging everything to bring His chosen king into the world at precisely the right moment in history.  If you look back at the ancestry of King David, you will find the hand of the Lord moving and shaping events.  One of David’s ancestors was a woman named Rahab, Judges 2.  She had been saved out of pagan idolatry and brought into the nation of Israel.  She married a man named Salmon, Matt. 1:5, and became the mother of a man named Boaz, Ruth 4:20.  Boaz also married a Gentile girl brought out of paganism by the sovereign grace of the Lord, named Ruth, Ruth 4.  Ruth and Boaz were the great grandparents of a boy named David.

These events were not accidental!  They were part of a perfect plan, formulated in eternity passed and worked out in time.  This was not coincidence; it was the mighty hand of the Lord!

  1. His Choice Involves Sovereign Power – Notice the words “I have.”  Many people have great plans and dreams, but they lack to power to bring them to pass.  Not the Lord!  What He proposes, He is well able to dispose!

Note: What lessons can we learn from God’s sovereign choice? I think there are a few that need to be noted.

  • First, there are no accidents in life! Everything that occurs is part of a larger plan.  God is working, often behind the scenes; in ways that we cannot comprehend, to accomplish His plans and His purposes,  8:28; Isa. 55:8-9; Psa. 37:23; 2 Cor. 4:15-17.  Thank God for the truth that God is in absolute control!
  • Second, God is well able to bring His plan to pass. He will never propose a plan that He is not able to accomplish!  Whether it is a plan to raise up a shepherd boy and make him a king, or whether it is a plan to work out His will in your life; He is well able to see it through,  3:20; Job 42:2; Luke 1:37; Gen. 18:14.
  • Third, God’s sovereign choices extend to every area of life. I do not presume to understand it all, but I believe the Bible teaches us that God is in the business of working out all things according to His will,  1:11; and bringing His eternal purposes to pass in time, Isa. 46:10-11.

Some people are bothered by the notion that God is in absolute control of all of life.  I, however, find it very comforting!  I know that nothing can happen unless the Father ordains it and that of He ordains it, it is for my good and for His glory.  Thank God for His sovereign choices!)

GOD’S CHOICES ARE SURPRISING

(Ill. The Context.  Samuel is set to Bethlehem to anoint the new king.  When Samuel arrives there, he commands Jesse to gather together his sons.  They come before the old prophet and pass before him one by one.  It is in this process that God makes known His choice for king.  But, His choices, while they are sovereign, also carry with them some real surprises.)

v.6-10  His Choice Is Surprising In Its Rejections – The first of Jesse’s sons passes before Samuel v.6-7.  His name is Eliab.  His name means “God is Father.”  He is a fine physical specimen, and Samuel thinks that he is surely the chosen one.  But, God says, “I have refused him.” The word “refuse” simply means to “reject.”  Eliab might have looked pleasing outwardly, but something in his character disqualified him from being the king.

            v.8 Abinadab is next.  His name means “My father is noble.”  But, he too is passed over and rejected by the Lord.  V. 9 Next is Shammah.  His name means “Astonishment.” This may refer to his physical size or some other physical trait, but no matter, he too is rejected!  V.10 Then, one after another of Jesse sons pass before Samuel until seven have passed by and all are rejected by the Lord.

Surely these men are all fine physical specimens; their physiques having been refined and toned by hours of hard, physical labor.  Anyone of them would have possessed the physical requirements to turn heads and rule as a king.  But, none of them possessed the right kind of character traits.

(Note: God sees what man cannot see!  Even Samuel was impressed with Eliab, but God wasn’t.  You would have thought that Samuel would have learned his lesson with Saul.  But, Samuel is still looking at men through human eyes.

We are the very same way.  We see a young man; he’s handsome, well-spoken and intelligent.  We look at him and we say, “That young man would make a fine preacher someday.”  The problem is, we cannot see his heart!  We see a man; he’s saved, good to his family, been blessed in his work and has some business sense.  We look at him and say, “That man would make a good deacon.”  Again, we can’t see his heart! We judge people by how they strike the eye; God judges them on a far different level.  That person we think will do great things in the church may not even make a blip on God’s radar screen.  While that one we think will amount to nothing might just be used in a mighty way by the Lord!  You see, God makes His choices based not on what He sees about our outward characteristics, but on what He sees within the content of our hearts.)

v.7  His Choice Is Surprising In It Requirements – God tells Samuel that He does not look at the physical attributes of a man.  God looks at the character of a man’s heart.  Before Saul ever ceased being King, God had already determined to raise up a man with the right kind of heart, 1 Sam. 13:14.  You see, as the sons of Jesse stand there that day, they all looked the part, but what Samuel could not see was the condition of their hearts.  Eliab, for instance, caught the old prophet’s eye; but he reveals the character of his heart in the next chapter.  There, we discover that Eliab is critical, jealous and negative, 1 Sam. 17:28.  He may have been a big man externally, but he was a baby inside!  He was not the kind of man God could use for His glory!

(Note: This is a lesson the church needs to learn today.  When we look for leaders, we often seek those who possess certain characteristics that we think spell success and ability.  We look for people of influence, power, intelligence and means.  God, however, looks for people of integrity and character.  He wants people who are faithful and holy.  What a contrast!  God is not nearly as impressed with people’s achievements as we are.  He is not concerned about the beauty of our outward man.  He is caught up in the condition of our heart!

As God looks at your life, what does He see?  Does He see a handsome face, a pleasing physical appearance and a well-kept, well-dressed body?  No, He sees your heart.  He sees the real you!  But, here is the real question: Does God see a heart that He can use?  Or, does He say about your life the same thing He said about Eliab, “I have refused him?”  What does God see in your heart?

By the way, often we judge people by what they are.  God, on the other hand, looks at what they can become.  Thank God He judges us on the basis of amazing grace, not what the eye can see.)

  1.  v.11-13  His Choice Is Surprising In Its Receptions – After the seven sons of Jesse have passed before Samuel and all have been rejected, Samuel finds out that there is another son.  He is the youngest and he is said to be with the sheep.  He is so insignificant within the family that he is not even summoned with the rest of the boys, but he is left out of the feast and the sacrifice.  He is out there doing the job of a humble servant.  In fact, when he is mentioned by his father, he is not even called by his name; he is simply called “the youngest.”  When he walks in, Samuel sees a handsome, young man; bright-eyed, with the blush of your in his cheeks.  God tells Samuel to anoint this one, for this is him!  The one rejected and passed over by the others is the very one picked by the Lord!  No doubt Jesse and his sons were all amazed as they watched the ancient prophet hobble over to young David and pour the anointing oil on his head.

 

(Note: Again, we must be careful how we assess those around us.  We look at people tonight and think we know who God will use and what He will do with them.  Friend, you never know!  God often passes over the ones others would choose and calls those we would never have imagined.  God excels in taking nobodies and making some bodies out of them!  When God went after a man after His Own heart, He did not go to the palaces, the temples or the places of influence, wealth and power.  God chose the most unlikely person in the most unlikely of places.  The key to being used of Him is possessing the right kind of heart!)

(Ill. No one but God would have picked Saul of Tarsus to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.  But, God did choose him, 1 Tim. 1:12-16.  Who would have thought that Peter would have been used like he was by the Lord, after the way he fell?)

GOD’S CHOICES ARE SPECIFIC

(Ill. It seems crystal clear that God had a specific plan in mind.  He sent Samuel to a specific town, to a specific family in that town and then to the specific person He had chosen for to be the next king.  Very briefly, there are some indications as to why God made the choice He did in the life of David.)

v.11-12God Chooses Those Who Are Ready – When Jesse and David’s brothers are brought in before Samuel, they are “sanctified,” v. 5.  In other words, their sins are dealt with and they are made ready for worship.  When David is brought, there is no time for him to be sanctified, but he is ready nonetheless!  David is a picture of that believer who keeps his heart in a state of readiness.  He does not know when the Lord might call him so he stays ready at all times.  That is the kind of person God is looking for today as well.  God does not use dirty vessels, but He uses those which are clean and ready for His call.

v.11  God Chooses Those Who Are Reliable – When God calls David, He finds him faithfully doing what he has been told to do.  He is keeping the sheep.  He is doing a dirty, lonely job; but he does it because it is what he has been assigned to do.  After he is anointed, he goes back to his flock, v. 19.  Why? Because that is what he does! Even after he is called to Jerusalem to play for King Saul, v. 23, he returned to keep his father’s sheep, 17:15.  Why? Because that is what he does!  David was given an assignment and he carried it out faithfully.  He even placed his life on the line to protect those sheep, 17:34-37.  When Jesse looked at David he saw the youngest of his sons.  His brothers saw a little brat, 17:28.  Samuel saw a cute little boy, 16:12.  But, when God looked at David, He saw integrity, faithfulness, responsibility and character. Others saw a nobody, God saw a king!

Friend, if you want to be used by the Lord, let me encourage you to be faithful where you are.  The best thing you can do is grow where you are planted.  Allow God to develop your character, your integrity, your faithfulness and your sense of responsibility in the ordinary, mundane events of life, Matt. 25:21.  Be ready and be reliable, for you never know when the call of God will come.  He knows where you are.  He knows how to find you.  He knows how and when to open all the right doors in your life.  Just be faithful and walk with Him.  In His time, He will use you for His glory.

v.13  God Chooses Those Who Are Redeemed – When Samuel anointed David and perhaps whispered God’s plan in his ear; this was not David’s first encounter with God.  No doubt David had seen the glory of God written in the heavens and His power manifested in the universe, Psa. 19.  David had witnessed God’s tender care for His people in his own relationship to his flocks.  This is evident in Psalm 23 and others which reveal the heart of David while he was still a young shepherd.  He might have walked onto the public stage in 1 Samuel 16; but David had been walking with the Lord for quite some time!  Listen to David’s own testimony in 1 Sam. 17:37; 45.

Here’s the point, God calls those who know Him!  He chooses His vessels from among His redeemed ones.  Those who know Him in a faith relationship; who live clean lives; who are ready, reliable and available are candidates to be used by the Lord.  Does that describe you?

 

Happy Thanksgiving | Psalms 136

Thanksgiving2012On this Thanksgiving, my family and I have so many things to be thankful for. We’ve been blessed in so many different ways.

In the same way you, have many things to be thankful for. So today, it is my prayer that we reflect on Psalms 136.

Charles H. Spurgeon in The Treasury of David quotes ” We know not by whom this Psalm was written, but we do know that it was sung in Solomon’s temple (2 Ch 7:3,6), and by the armies of Jehoshaphat when they sang themselves into victory in the wilderness of Tekoa. From the striking form of it we should infer that it was a popular hymn among the Lord’s ancient people. Most hymns with a solid, simple chorus become favourites with congregations, and this is sure to have been one of the best beloved. It contains nothing but praise. It is tuned to rapture, and can only be fully enjoyed by a devoutly grateful heart.

It commences with a threefold praise to the Triune Lord (Ps 136:1-3), then it gives us six notes of praise to the Creator (Ps 136:4-9), six more upon deliverance from Egypt (Ps 134:10-15), and seven upon the journey through the wilderness and the entrance into Canaan. Then we have two happy verses of personal gratitude for present mercy (Ps 134:23-24), one (Ps 134:25) to tell of the Lord’s universal providence, and a closing verse to excite to never ending praise.”

Psalm 136 King James Version (KJV)

136 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:

20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:

21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:

22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

THE CASE OF THE VICIOUS VIPERS | Numbers 21:1-9

GTyiFhMmThe events in this passage occur very near the end of Israel’s 40 year journey through the wilderness. God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt 40 years earlier. It took them 2 years to reach the Jordan River. During that time, the Lord gave them His Law, and taught them about worshiping Him. When they arrived at Jordan, they refused to cross over the river into the Promised Land. Because of their lack of faith and rebellion against God, the Lord sentenced the entire nation to wander in the wilderness until every member of that rebellious generation, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, died. It took 38 years for them all the die.

During that 38 year period, God was faithful to walk with Israel, to feed them with Manna every day, to lead them from place to place, and to protect them from their enemies. God had been faithful to His people.

The Israelites had grown sick and tired of wandering through the wilderness. They were tired of God’s plan. They were tired of the Manna. They were tired of their leader Moses. They were just sick and tired of everything.

In this text, we are told that “they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom,” v. 4. The Israelites were forced to go this way because the Edomites would not grant them permission to cross their land. This forced Israel to walk through a terribly harsh desert area. It was mountainous, rough, and desolate. The people didn’t like it. Verse 4 says “the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.” The word “discouraged,” had the idea of something “being shortened.” Their tempers are short, they are frustrated, and they are out of patience with the whole process of getting to Canaan.

Their frustration over the path they were being forced to walk, brought to the surface other complaints they had in their hearts. In verse 5 they voice several complaints.

They complain that God and Moses brought them out of Egypt just to have them die in the wilderness.
They complain about the lack of food.
They complain about the lack of water.
They complain about the Manna God was sending them every day. (Manna, if you remember, was a miracle meal. It fell on their camp at night. It was plentiful. It was free. It was tasty. It was nutritious. It was a gracious gift from God to feed His hungry people.)

 

But, despite God’s grace in delivering them from Egypt, despite His generosity in feeding them, and despite His guidance in leading them, they began to murmur and complain. They complained about the leader God gave, and they also lodged their complaint against the Lord.

In response to their complaints, God sent judgment upon Israel in the form of “fiery serpents.” Yet, along with the punishment came the pardon, and this is the magnificent truth that I want you to see today.

This passage is a harsh look at the consequences of sin, but it also illustrates the love and grace of God for the lost. This passage, though ancient, is a vivid illustration of what Jesus did for sinners on the cross.

For Israel this situation quickly degenerated into a hopeless situation. They were being bitten by vicious vipers and many people were dying. There was no treatment for the snake bites. There was no escape from the snakes. They were trapped in hopeless circumstances from which they could not escape.

There is hope for the hopeless.

V. 4-5 ISRAEL’S SIN

In this event Israel was guilty of several terrible sins against God.

They Rejected God’s Person – Verse 5 says, “And the people spake against God.” Because they did this, the Lord judged them harshly. Don’t get the idea here that God is a little too sensitive. Don’t think for a moment that God is trigger happy, and just waiting to judge the guilty too quickly and too harshly. God does not wear his feelings on his shoulders.

One thing the people of Israel knew how to do, and knew how to do well, was gripe and complain. That is about all they had done for thirty-eight years. Just listen to the record of their wretched whining found just in the book of Numbers:

“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD,” Num. 11:1a.

“And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would God we had died in this wilderness,” Num. 14:2!

“But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD,” Num. 16:41.

“And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish,” Num. 17:12.

Up till now Israel had been guilty of speaking against their leaders. In this passage we are told they “spake against God.” Instead of talking about other people, they now turn their anger toward their God.

Can you imagine the audacity and the arrogance it took for these puny humans to speak against God? Before God chose them, and before God saved them by His grace, they were nobodies. They were nothing but common slaves in the land of Egypt. Now, they dare to speak against God.

They Rejected God’s Promise – Here is what they said to God, “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” God had promised the nation of Israel that he would bring them into the Promised Land. They had His word on it. Yet, they looked God straight in the eye and said impudently, arrogantly, blasphemously, “We don’t believe You.” In effect, they called God a liar.

You remember this: every time you doubt the Word of God, you discredit the worth of God. Remember what Paul said? He said, “Let God be true; but every man a liar,” Rom. 3:4.

They Rejected God’s Provision – To add insult to injury, they said, “for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.” God provided them with bread every day. When they needed water, He gave it to them. They lied, and they did not appreciate the things they had received from the hand of the Lord.

Two words in this verse are worth noting.

The word “loatheth,” means “to be disgusted by.” God graciously gave them the Manna from Heaven every day. He used it to keep them fed and healthy. Yet, they looked at God’s gracious provision and they said “that stuff is disgusting.”

The word “light” means “worthless”. They said that the Manna was “worthless!” Manna was far from worthless. While they were in the wilderness this bread was not only their strength, their sustenance, it was their very salvation. Without it, they would have starved to death! Yet, the one thing that gave them life, they renounced.

They Rejected God’s Prophet – Not only did they speak against God, they spoke “against Moses.” If a man rejects God, he’ll reject God’s man. If you fall out with God, you will eventually fall out with the man of God. If you are going to live for God, the world is going to turn on you; people are going to reject you.

If you love Jesus, and you live for Jesus, you will be loathed by the world. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you,” John 15:18-19.

Paul adds this truth: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Tim. 3:12.

V. 6 ISRAEL’S SENTENCE

Because of Israel’s rebellion, God sends judgment upon them in the form of “fiery serpents.”

The Serpents Were Deserved – The serpent, as you know, is a symbol of sin. Satan disguised himself as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Throughout the Bible the serpent is a symbol of sin, evil, rebellion against God. It is fitting that the Lord should send serpents among the people.

Sin is like a serpent. Sin holds tremendous power over us. If sin is allowed to sink its fangs in your life, it will coil itself around you until it has choked the life right out of you. It will not stop until it has destroyed you and everything you love.

The Serpents Were Dreadful – They are called fiery serpents. I believe they were called fiery because of the intense pain that they could inflict on their victims. These were most likely a type of viper found in the Middle East. The bite of these vipers is said to be immensely painful.

Research on that type of viper reveals the following symptoms from the viper’s bite:

  • Injection of venom initiates a fiery pain at the site of the bite.
  • Swelling begins right away.
  • Discoloration at the sight of the bite varies from white to flaming reds, purples, and dark blues.
  • Victims would experience nausea, vomiting, excruciating stomach pains and cramping.
  • Victims begin to experience extreme thirst
  • The liver and kidneys are damaged from filtering toxins resulting in extreme tenderness in the lower abdominal area, and many times diarrhea sets in.
  • Hemorrhaging occurs in the form of nosebleeds, or bleeding from the mouth or the eyes.
  • The viper’s venom is a hemotoxin, it destroys blood cells and causing bleeding where capillaries are close to the surface. A person usually bleeds to death internally.
  • Quick deaths from a viper’s bite are unusual. Generally the suffering is prolonged for one or two days.

What is the point? The point is, God is trying to teach us here that suffering follows sin just as surely as night follows day.

The Serpents Were Deadly – We are told that “much people of Israel died.” But that’s just like sin isn’t it? Sin thrills, Heb. 11:25b, then sin kills. The Bible says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Eze. 18:20. It also says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” James 1:14-15. And, “For the wages of sin is death…,” Rom. 6:23a.

Listen again to verse 6, “And many of the people of Israel died.” Now that’s putting it mildly. People are dropping like flies, and dying all over the camp of Israel.

Keep in mind that we are talking about two to four million people in a twelve square mile area. Poisonous serpents are biting them, and they are getting sick and dying.

There was no hospital, and even if there had been, it wouldn’t have been big enough to treat all those who were sick.
There are no doctors, and even if there were, there wouldn’t be enough for all the patients.
There is no anti-venom and no other medicines, and even if there were, there would not be enough to go around.
This is a desperate situation. People are dying everywhere and there seems to be no cure available and there is no help in sight.

What a tragic picture this paints of the lost sinner and his fallen condition. Left to himself, the lost sinner is in a hopeless, helpless condition. He cannot change his situation. He cannot save himself from the poison of sin that flows through his veins.

V. 7 ISRAEL’S SORROW

When you have been bitten by a deadly snake, there are only two things you can do: You can sit and die, or you can get up and do something about it. The Israelites chose to do something about the situation. They took three steps that every person has to take if he is going to be cured of the snake bite of sin, and escape the fiery judgment of hell.

There Was Conviction“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, ‘We have sinned.’” No matter what else you do, until you get to that point in your life where you are willing to say, “I have sinned,” you will never be saved.

There Was Confession – The people went on to say, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you.” True conviction is always followed by full confession.

There Was Contrition – The people went on to say, “Pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us. So Moses prayed for the people.” The final step is when you realize that your only hope is God.

V. 8-9 ISRAEL’S SALVATION

Incredibly the cure for this serpent problem is not a pill or a potion. The solution is a brass serpent raised up on a pole. There are some precious truths I want you to see in that brass serpent.

There Is A Picture Of Guilt – The serpent symbolizes sin. “Brass,” in the Bible, is a symbol of “judgment.” Being lifted up on a pole pictures a curse, for the Bible says, “Cursed is everyone who hangeth upon a tree,” Gal. 3:13.

Now do you see anything strange here? The cure for the serpent problem took the form of what caused the problem to begin with. It was a serpent that bit them, but it was a serpent that healed them!

“For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,”    2 Cor. 5:21.

 

There Is The Provision Of God – Who came up with a plan like this in the first place? Verse 8 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses.” The plan of salvation is God’s idea, and God’s idea about salvation has never changed. The way people were saved here in the Old Testament is exactly the way people are saved in the New Testament. And, it’s the way people are still saved today.

There Is The Power Of Grace – I want you to see something about this wonderful salvation.

It Was Infallible – Everyone who looked, lived. They didn’t just feel better, they got well. In the Old Testament the Bible says, “look and live.” In the New Testament the Bible says, “believe and be saved.” (John 3:16; Acts 16:31)

It Was Individual – Everyone had to look for themselves. Nobody could look for another person. If you were bitten and wanted to be healed, you had to look for yourself. Anybody could be healed, but not everybody was healed, because not everybody looked.

It Was Instantaneous – The people who looked at that serpent did not have to wait, pray, or pay for this salvation. The moment you looked was the minute you lived.

It Was Invaluable – The healing God provided through that serpent was free, readily available, sufficient, and it would work for anyone. And thus it is with Jesus Christ!

THE CASE OF A MAN NAMED LEGION | Mark 5:1-20

images-3This text sits in the middle of several hopeless situations. Just prior to the events we just read, Jesus and His disciples were sailing the Sea of Galilee when a tremendous storm overwhelmed their boat. The disciples were certain that they were going to die, Mark 4:38. Those men were seasoned fishermen, but they were helpless to solve their problem. In their minds, they were in a hopeless situation. While that storm far exceeded their own abilities, it posed no problem for the Master of the Sea. He calmed the storm and He calmed His men.

In this chapter, Jesus moves into a new set of impossible situations. He encounters a man possessed by thousands of demons. This poor, demon possessed man is in a desperate situation, he is unable help himself, and the people around him are powerless to help him as well. After this incident, Jesus will deal with a diseased woman and a dead girl. All four of these situations were hopeless from a human perspective. Yet, in each of these cases, Jesus proved that He was the Master of them all.

If that demon possessed man were alive today, he would be sent to live in a mental institution. That diseased woman would be sent to terminal care ward. The dead girl would be sent to the cemetery. This passage teaches us that whether He is faced with demons, disease, or death, Jesus is able to handle whatever comes His way.

This case really is hopeless. Everyone around him have done everything they possibly could to help him, but no one could reach him. He lived his life in isolation, desperation, and devastation. His only companions were the dead bodies in the cemetery and the demons that dwelt within him. When Jesus Christ walked into this hopeless case, He changed everything.

As we watch the Lord Jesus work in this hopeless case, we need to keep in mind that He can move in our lives with the same power. He can break the chains that bind us and He can set us free! I would like for us to examine The Case of a Man Named Legion. Notice the facts of this hopeless case with me today.

v. 1-5 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVAGE MAN

v. 2 His Problem – This passage opens, with a description of a man who is firmly held in Satan’s grasp. The devil is his master, and this man is in a state of utter hopelessness and absolute helplessness.

We are told that he has “an unclean spirit”! Then, we find out that he is not just the home to one foul spirit, but he is possessed by “a legion” of demons, v. 9. A legion in the Roman army could be anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 men. This man was the host for thousands of evil spirits. In v. 13, we are told that when the demons were forced to leave this man’s body, they entered into a herd of swine that numbered around 2,000! This poor, pitiful individual was totally under the control of the devil!

I would just remind you that this man’s situation is no different from that of every lost soul in the world today, Eph. 2:1-3; John 8:44.

This man was in a pitiful shape, and so are the lost. They are all in a state of defilement.

 

v. 3-4 His Pain – Two words describe this man’s condition. Those words are “tombs” and “chains.” Those words reveal the truth that this man had his dwelling among the dead. The demons that controlled him drove him away from the living and he spent his life in the cemetery.

We are told in verse 4 that the people around him tried their best to restrain him. They would catch him and bind him with “fetters and chains”. “Fetters” would have been attached to his feet. “Chains” would have bound his hands, his arms and his torso. But, these manmade devices could not hold him.

When we look at this poor soul, it isn’t hard to make the leap from his condition to the condition of the lost around us. They are trapped in the same state of pitiful depravity. The sin that possesses the heart of the lost sinner drives him to spend his days and waste his years with the dead. Those who are lost in sin have no desire to be around the living. Death and the works of deadness are all they care about!

The lost hate things that pertain to life. They hate things that pertain to light. They hate everything that has to do with God and His work in the world. They shun the light. They shun the things of God. They shun those who know God, preferring rather to live their lives in the relentless, merciless grip of death and darkness.

Let me add that a professing believer needs to examine his or her heart when they begin to desire the works of darkness. You need to look at your spiritual condition when you find reasons for avoiding the light!

When you can’t sit through a preaching service, you have a spiritual problem!

When you find reasons to avoid the house of God, you have a spiritual problem!

When you find yourself longing for the ways of the world, you have a spiritual problem!

You are beginning to revert back to the ways of death and darkness.

 

v. 5 His Powerlessness – Can you imagine the terror this man caused?

We do not know why this man cut himself. Perhaps it was an effort to find relief from his demons. Perhaps the demons forced him to do it, causing him to walk a path of self-destruction.

We do not know why he shrieked, screamed and cried in those tombs. Perhaps he did these things because he was desperate to be free. Perhaps he did them because he was compelled to do them.

We don’t why he did the things he did, but his actions reveal that he is in a desperate situation and he needs help!

Whether you are lost and bound in sin or whether you are saved and out of God’s will there is only one cure for your condition!

You do not need a pill.
You do not need a psychiatrist.
You do not need a priest.
You do not need a twelve step program.
You need Jesus

v. 6-13 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVING MAN

v. 6 His Compassion – Everyone in that region feared this man. Everyone avoided this man. Everyone, that is, but Jesus!

Jesus Christ did not avoid this man; He made a special trip across the sea and braved a storm simply because He wanted to deliver this one man from the grip of Satan, Mark 4:35.

This man wasn’t even a Jew! He was a Gentile and still the Lord reached out to him!

We see people and sometimes we think that some are a lost cause. We may wonder if they can or will be saved. Well, I can’t tell you for sure that they will be, but I can look around this very room and I see case after case of men and women that others had written off as a lost cause. You are here and saved today because the Savior had compassion on you!

He loved you in spite of your sins and He came to where you were to deliver you from the bondage that gripped your heart and life. He loved you enough to die for you on the cross, Rom. 5:6-8, and He loved you enough to come and set you free.

No one is beyond the compassionate touch of the Master!
Not Zaccheaus in his tree.
Not Saul of Tarsus with his agenda of hate and destruction.
Not the Ethiopian eunuch with his religious confusion.
And not even you with all the baggage you carry.
There is a compassionate Savior waiting to set you free!

Jesus sees people with a different set of eyes than we do! We see their sins, He sees what He can make of their lives!

We see a drunk, He sees a deacon!
We see a drug addict, He sees a preacher!
We see a harlot, He sees a choir member!

That is how lives are changed when they come to Jesus! He will take what you give Him and He will give you something much more precious in return!

Give Jesus your Jacob, the schemer; He’ll give you back an Israel, a prince with God.
Give Jesus your Simon, the cursing fisherman; He’ll give you back Simon Peter, a mighty preacher.
Give Jesus your Saul, persecutor of the church, He’ll give you back Paul, militant missionary apostle. Give Jesus your self, and you will be amazed at what He can do with you.
It is amazing what Jesus can do when a life is placed in His hands, 2 Cor. 5:17! That is the power of the new birth, John 3:3, 7.

v. 6-13 His Confrontation – This man, who ran from everyone else, ran to the Lord Jesus and fell at His feet. The demons that drove this man away from all human relationships drove him to the feet of Jesus.

They fell down in acknowledgement of His deity. They were bowing in subjection to the Lord of Lords!

The demons acknowledge the deity and authority of Jesus, v. 7, and they beg Him not to “torment” them. That is, they beg Him not to send them to Hell, Luke 8:31.

Jesus confronts the demons, ordering them to release their captive, v. 8.

The demons then request that they might be allowed to enter into a heard of swine that was feeding nearby, v. 11-12.

Jesus gives them permission and they leave the body of the man and enter the swine, v. 13.

When they do, the swine cannot tolerate the demons and kill themselves by running in to the sea, v. 13.

This is a strange passage, but it teaches us some important truths.

It teaches us that all spirits are subject to the Lord’s authority. They recognize His position and His authority, v. 7. They know they must have His permission to do the things they do, v. 10-13.

It often looks like the devil is walking off with the victory.

v. 13 His Command – Every human effort had failed to deliver this poor soul from his bondage. Everything that had been tried to help him regain a grip on his own sanity had proven useless. But, one word from Jesus and He was free!

One word from Him and death is swallowed up in life!
One word from Him and darkness is driven away by the light!

v. 14-20 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SALVATION MIRACLE

v. 14-16 This Man Was Changed – When the pigs ran down the mountain and killed themselves, the servants who were tending the herd went to town and told their masters what had happened. The townsfolk came to see for themselves. When they arrived, they heard all the details and they could see the evidence of a changed life right before their eyes.

V. 15 Jesus Changed Him – He is no longer running about, crying, and cutting himself. Now, he is calm and seated beside Jesus! What a change!

You cannot meet Jesus and remain the same. He changes all those who come to Him, John 3:3, 5; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10!

V. 15 Jesus Clothed Him – No longer is this man naked, now he has clothes!

Jesus changed him from the inside out! What we need to notice here is that what Jesus does in the heart of a man is ALWAYS worked out on the outside of a man, Matt. 12:35!

V. 15 Jesus Calmed Him – We are told that he is in his right mind! Where there has been turmoil and agitation, there is now perfect peace! He has been changed spiritually, physically and mentally!

THE CASE OF THE BIG BAD BULLY | 1 Samuel 17:1-54

david-vs-Goliath-comic-imageOne of the unfortunate realities of living is this world is the existence of bullies. There are some people, and we all know who they are in our lives, who enjoy pushing others around. Bullying is not a new phenomenon. Bullies have existed in our world since Cain killed Abel at the dawn of the human race.

While bullying isn’t a new phenomenon, it is a major problem. Children deal with bullies every day at school. Some then come home to a bully in the home. People work with bullies on their jobs. There are bullies among our neighbors. There are bullies in the church. There are bullies out in public. Bullies are everywhere. Bullies inhabit every sphere of our lives.

Bullying is defined as, “the use of threats of coercion to intimidate others. It is the activity of repeated aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, either physically or emotionally.”

It has become a word used to describe “one who uses physical, emotional, or verbal intimidation to gain power over others.”

A bully is someone who uses “physical, emotional, or verbal intimidation to control others.” Do you know any bullies? Are there any bullies here right now? I want you to understand that the bullies we meet in life do not have to be tolerated. They must not be allowed to have their way. Most bullies are cowards! In spite of their threats, bullies can be overcome by people who are willing to stand up for what is right.

This passage is about a bully who was put in his place by a very unlikely young man. In the ancient, familiar story of David and Goliath, we see how all the bullies in our lives can be handled.

  • If you had asked Israel about Goliath, they would have said, “This is a hopeless situation.”
  • If you had asked King Saul, he would have said, “This is hopeless!”
  • If you had asked David, he would have said, “Goliath is a bully, and God is about to deal with him!”

I want to walk through these precious verses today and show you once again that there is Hope for the Hard Cases. So, let’s consider the facts of this hopeless case and consider The Case of the Big, Bad Bully.

VERSE 1-24 WE SEE HOW THIS BULLY IS DESCRIBED

In verse 1-4a  Lets look at His Source – Our text says that Goliath was a “Philistine.” The Philistines were one of the Canaanite tribes left over from Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land. They were a powerful, warlike people known for their expert skill in metallurgy. They crafted superior armor and weapons of war. They were also pagan idolaters, who worshipped the fish god Dagon.

Verse 4b-7 Describes His Size – According to the first four verses of our text, the Philistines and the Israelites have met on the field of battle. They are preparing to fight a battle for control of the nation, or for a portion of it. Before the skirmish can begin, the Philistines challenge the Israelites to settle the battle using an ancient form of warfare. What they propose is for each side to send out their best warrior. These two warriors will meet between the opposing armies, and they will fight to the death. The army that loses this battle will become the servants of the victors, v. 8-9. Although it seems pretty foolish to us, it was not an uncommon thing for armies to settle their differences in this manner.

The issue here is the warrior the Philistines have chosen to fight for them. His name is Goliath, which means “splendor,” and he was a splendid physical specimen. Goliath was from the city of Gath. Goliath was not an ordinary soldier.

  1. He stood “six cubits and a span.” This means that he was “9’ 9” tall,” verse 4.
  2. He wore copper armor that covered his body from head to toe, verse 5-6.
  3. He wore copper body armor constructed from overlapping copper plates that resembled the scales of a fish. The piece of armor weighed “5,000 shekels,” verse 5, or about “200 pounds.”
  4. He wore “greaves,” or wrappings of copper, which protected his legs, verse 6.
  5. The “target” of copper that hung between his shoulders on the back was a round piece of copper that protected his upper back and held his spear.
  6. His spear is compared to a “weaver’s beam,” verse 7, which means it was several feet long and very thick. The head of his spear weighed “600 shekels of iron,” which is about “25 pounds.”
  7. Walking before Goliath was a soldier who carried another shield to help protect him from any arrows or spears launched by his enemies.

Goliath was a very formidable soldier. No doubt everyone who saw him feared him. No one wanted to face him in battle. He appeared indestructible and unconquerable.

Lets take a look at His Statements in verse 8-10, 16, 23  – Goliath comes out from the Philistine lines and challenges the Israelites to a fight. He mocks them and calls them cowards, v. 8. He demands that they send out a soldier to fight him, v. 8. Goliath does this twice every day for forty days, v. 16. Goliath is a persistent bully who will not give up. He is determined to get what he wants from the Israelites.

Verse 11, 24 speaks to His Success – Verse 11 says when Israel heard the taunts of Goliath, they were “dismayed, and greatly afraid.” The word “dismayed” means “to break down from fear.” The phrase “greatly afraid” suggests they overcome with an “exceeding great terror.” The army of Israel was horror-struck, petrified, panic-stricken, and alarmed! The presence, appearance, and threats of the giant Goliath literally left the soldiers and king of Israel paralyzed with fear.

Goliath possessed all the trademark characteristics of a true bully. He was big. He was intimidating. He was bold. He was persistent. He was out for blood. He wanted to take away the power from God’s people, and wanted total control over them. Goliath achieved his primary goal. He left the people of God intimidated and broken. He held absolute power over Israel and her king!

Are you facing any bullies? Got anything, or anyone, in your life that resembles Goliath? What I am asking is this: are there events, circumstances, or people in your life that leave you paralyzed with fear?

I am thankful that this story doesn’t end with a victorious bully. If we will give our attention to the rest of this story, we might discover an amazing truth. That truth is this: The bully does not have to win! Folk, you can defeat your bully, no matter what, or who it is.

In Verse 25-30 LET’S SEE HOW THIS BULLY IS DEFINED

So, Goliath threatens Israel. He mocks them. He challenges them to send out a man to fight him to the death. He does this eighty times over forty days. Each time he does, Israel responds by hiding in fear from an opponent they see as unbeatable. Even their powerful leader, King Saul, doesn’t want to face the giant from Gath. Fear rules the day in Israel.

Things are about to change. A young man named David has arrived on the battlefield. When he shows up, he sees the same giant the rest of the Israelites see. He hears the same taunts. He hears the same challenge. Instead of hiding in fear, David rises to the challenge and he does something about the bully.

What made David different from the rest of the men there? What made him think he could do what no one else thought could be done?

I think the difference between David’s opinion of the situation and the rest of their opinions all came down to perception.

David saw the same events and heard the same things the rest of the people heard, but he perceived things very differently. Let’s take a moment to consider the different perceptions that were active that day.

Verse 25 Show That Some Saw This Bully As An Opponent – When Israel saw and heard Goliath, they said “surely to defy Israel is he come up.” They saw Goliath merely as a threat to their nation. They saw him as a threat to their peace, their prosperity, and their happiness. When this bully stood up, all they could see was him and them. They could not see beyond how they felt about the matter. This is the view of fear!

  • This describes us, doesn’t it? When we face one of life’s bullies, there are times when we forget that the issue is bigger than us. For most, our primary focus is on how things make us feel.
  • In other words, when we face a bully, most of the time we turn our focus inward, and attempt to protect our little kingdom. When we do that, we miss the bigger picture.
  • That bully, no matter the name or face it wears, was sent to help you grow in the Lord.
  • Remember what He said to us in Romans 8:28-30. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
  • No matter how much pain your bully causes in your life, it wasn’t sent to you to destroy you. Your bully thinks it is there for that very reason. Despite what it thinks, it was sent to develop you. It was sent to make you more like Jesus, which was God’s goal in saving you to begin with.
  • Listen to me today, if that bully in your life succeeds in getting your eyes off the Lord, the bully has won! If, however, you can face your bully with your eyes on the Lord, God will use the pain from that problem to help you become more like Jesus.

In Verse 26 David Saw This Bully As An Obstacle – Israel saw Goliath as standing between them and what they wanted. David saw Goliath as standing between God and what God wanted. David said, “…for who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” To David, this issue was bigger than Saul. It was bigger than the army of Israel. It was bigger than all of them put together. To David, this issue was about the glory of God. This was the view of faith!

  • For David, Goliath stood as an obstacle between God and His people. Goliath had to go, or Israel would be trapped in fear as they faced a bully they believed they could not defeat.
  • We need that same perspective. When we allow any bully to paralyze us with fear, we are rendered ineffective in the work of the Lord. Fear of your bullies will prevent you from saying what needs to be said. Fear of your bullies will stop you from doing what needs to be done.

Verse 25-30 Tell’s Us David Saw This Bully as an Opportunity – The men around David tell him at least three times, vs. 25, 27, 30, that the man who kills the bully will be rewarded by the king. Verse 25 says “the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.” So, the man who kills the bully will get lots of money, he will marry the princess, and his family will no longer have to pay taxes.

David is apparently interested in the reward because he asks the men around him to tell him what will be given to the giant slayer twice more, 27, 30. Don’t get the idea that David is motivated by greed. Wealth is always appealing. Marrying a princess probably sounds good to a young man. The thought of not having to pay taxes would make anyone’s heart race with joy. David’s goal is not wealth, position, or power. David is motivated by something far greater. He is motivated by the Glory of God.

If you recall back in 1 Sam. 16, the prophet Samuel came to David’s house and he anointed David to be the next king in Israel. David knew that one day, he was going take Saul’s job. David knew that he was headed to the throne. I believe that David saw Goliath as a steppingstone in that direction. I believe that David looked at Goliath and realized that killing that bully would bring him closer to achieving what God had promised to him.

In verse 29 David, in response to the childish rant of Eliab, asks, “Is there not a cause?” David was the man God had chosen to be the new shepherd in Israel. When the bully Goliath threatened those people, it made David livid. He was angry because that bully was a threat to God’s people, God’s plans, and to God’s glory. In David’s mind, that simply would not stand. That bully had to go!

The sooner we realize that our bullies are an opportunity for God to receive glory from our lives, the sooner will be willing to stand up and face them in His power. He is not glorified when I am paralyzed by fear. He is glorified when I forget about myself, my agenda, my feelings, my wants, and concern myself with His glory alone.

Every bully in our lives is an opportunity for God to get glory from our lives. By the same token, every bully is an opportunity for us to fail. Our duty is to trust Him for the power we need to stand up to the bullies we face.

Verse 31-54 LOOK AT HOW THIS BULLY IS DEFEATED

David is determined to defend Israel and to deliver them from the insults and attacks of the bully Goliath. The remainder of this chapter teaches us how David defeated this bully. The methods he used to defeat that bully will work with any bully you face in your life. Notice how David defeated Goliath.

He Is Defeated by Courage in verse 31-37a – David says that he will fight the giant. When he does, he is brought before the king. Saul doesn’t think David could do it, and he says so, v. 33. But, then again, neither did anyone else. After all, what does a young man who has never been proven on the field of battle know about whipping bullies?

  • David quickly lets Saul and the rest of the men know that he has faced a bully or two in his time. He tells them about two times when bullies attacked his sheep. He tells them about how he killed a lion and bear that were threatening his sheep, v. 34-36a. David tells Saul that he sees no difference between those animals and Goliath, v. 36b. To David, they were all bullies who needed someone to stand up to them, and he was just the man to do it. In verse 37, David states his absolute confidence that just as God gave him victory over the lion and the bear, God would give him victory of the giant. In David’s mind, this is a fixed fight!
  • These verses teach us many truths, but what I want you to see today is this: David succeeded because he was not afraid to face the bullies in his life. That is not to say that David didn’t dread what was coming.

It won’t be easy to face the bullies in your life, but remember this:

  • The Lord has promised to be with you. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Heb. 13:5.
  • The Lord had promised to see you through to the other side. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee,” Isa. 43:2.
  • The Lord has promised to protect you. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD,” Isa.54:17.
  • The Lord has promised to enable you. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Phil. 4:13.
  • The Lord has promised to give you victory. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” Rom. 8:37.
  • The Lord has prepared us for a showdown with our bullies. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” 2 Tim. 1:7.

In verse 37b-40 Goliath He Is Defeated by Conviction – David receives Saul’s blessing, and he prepares to go face the bully. Saul tries to put his armor on David, v. 38-39. David attempted to wear those things, but he realizes that they were not made for him, they were made for Saul. David knew the secret to success wasn’t in the armor of men.

  • David was a shepherd, and he picked up the tools of the shepherd, his shepherd’s bag and his sling, and he went out to meet Goliath. On the way, he stopped by a brook and chose him five small stones. He planned to use those stones as ammunition for his sling. Thus armed, David went to battle.

In verse 41-54 Goliath Is Defeated By Confidence – David walked out to face that bully that day with absolute faith that he would walk back with the victory. Consider the conversation David has with the bully in verses 41-47. David knows what is about to happen. He has his faith in the Lord, and the Lord doesn’t lose!

  • What made this victory possible? It wasn’t David’s ability with a sling! It wasn’t David’s power, or his skill as a warrior! The secret to David’s success and Goliath’s death all came down to one word: faith.

David believed God, and God handed David the victory.

 

 

 

Your Health is Important To Us…. GCFBC 2nd Annual Health Fair

FlyerJoin Us! Tomorrow October 25, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Greater Community First will be having our 2nd Annual Health Fair. We are asking all to come because your health is important to us.

I invite as any men as possible to come and participate in the Bone Marrow Testing in honor of our own Deacon Coleman. We will also have PSA (Prostate) testing for the men.

For our women we would like all the women to come and have their Mammogram Completed.

Blood Donations are welcome and there will be many more opportunities to participate in the Health Fair. We look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow.

THE CASE OF THE DYING THIEF |Luke 23:32-43

thiefoncrossThis text presents three men. It speaks of three men who have been nailed to three crosses, dying three terrible deaths. The differences in their suffering were minimal. The differences in the men were enormous.

First, on one side there is a thief dying in his sins. He has lived a life of crime, broken the laws of Rome, and has been sentenced to die. The sentence is being carried out, and this man is dying a horrible death. This man is rude, arrogant, and proud. He is in a hopeless situation. He is dying in his sins.

Secondly, on the other side, another thief is dying for his crimes. He is just as guilty as the first man. He has committed the same crimes, offended the same government, and has received the same sentence. He is paying the same price, feeling the same pain, and dying the same death. Yet, he is different from the first man. While the first man is dying in his sins, this man is dying for his sins. This man is well aware of what he is facing. His eyes are opened to his condition and he is willing to do what it takes to get God’s help. Yet, he is still in a hopeless condition.

Third, in the middle another man hangs on a cross. He has offended some very powerful people. This man has spent the past three years traveling around the country preaching and teaching. This man has healed the sick, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. He has done nothing wrong except expose the corruption of the religious leaders of the nation of Israel.

The man in the middle is very different from the other two men. He is so different from others because that He has never done anything wrong. He has never sinned. He has never committed a crime. He has never treated anyone badly. Yet, He is feeling the same pain, paying the same price, and dying the same death as the guilty men on either side of Him. This man, the man in the middle, is dying for sin. That is what makes Him different.

From every appearance this text details a hopeless situation:

  • Three men are nailed to three crosses.
  • Three men are dying terrible deaths.
  • Three men dying deaths so horrible that we cannot imagine how bad they were.

By the time the sun goes down, all three of these men will be dead and in eternity. It really is a hopeless case.

I would like for us to spend some time at Calvary today considering this terrible scene. I want to show you once again how the Lord Jesus is able to bring hope to the hopeless. Our Lord is able, by His power, to transform any hopeless situation into a time of hope and blessing.

Let’s examine The Case of the Dying Thief and note the ways this passage teaches us that there is Hope For Hopeless Cases.

VERSE 32-38 HIS HOPELESS SITUATION

The description here clearly declares that this man is in terrible trouble. He is in a hopeless situation. Notice why:

Verse 32-33 The Thief and His Sin – This man is called a “malefactor.” This word means, “evil doer.” Matt. 27:38 says that he was “a thief.” He is guilty of breaking the laws of men.

His problem is far more serious than that because he is also guilty of breaking the law of God. He was a “thief.” That means that, among other things, he is guilty of breaking the 8th Commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not steal,” Ex. 20:15. Beyond that he is guilty of committing blasphemy in that he openly joined the Jews and the other thief in mocking Jesus Christ. Matt. 27:39 says the crowds “reviled” Jesus. Then, Matt. 27:44 says, “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” Which means that the thieves “reviled” and “mocked” Jesus just like the crowd did. What is tragic is that the word “reviled” means “to blaspheme.” In other words, the crowd and the thieves were guilty of speaking evil, wicked things against the Lord. They committed a serious offense, and they sinned against the Lord.

This is a reminder to us all that we are sinners before God. We may not be guilty of things like theft or murder, but we are sinners. One day, we will face His wrath. The only possibility of escape for us is Jesus Christ.

In Verse 33  we see “The Thief And His Sentence” – Verse 33 tells us that this poor thief suffered the worst possible sentence for his crime. He was “crucified!” Crucifixion was a means of execution perfected by the Romans.

We see also in Verse 33 “The Thief And His Sorrow” – What is truly tragic is that two of the men dying that day are facing something far worse than the cross when they died. These two thieves were sinners, who are not prepared to face death. They are both headed to Hell. Hell is a place far worse than any cruelty devised by man.

This man, who was dying so difficult a death, is not going to a place of peace and rest. Death for him would not be a sweet release from the pains and problems of life. He is not going to a place of rest and safety. He was headed to a place called Hell. He is headed to a place of eternal fire, eternal torment, eternal damnation, and eternal separation from God. This thief is in a hopeless situation. He is nailed to a cross! He will die there! At this moment in time, he is lost and headed to Hell!

And, in this condition, He is a picture of every lost sinner in the world. Keep listening! There is hope for you, and His name is Jesus!

VERSE 39-42 HIS HONEST SUPPLICATION

Sometime, somehow, during those hours on the cross, this man became aware of just how much trouble he was in. When his eyes were opened to his situation, he did the only thing he could do: he reached out to Jesus.

In Verse 39-40 we see His Rebuke – Earlier in the day, both thieves had mocked the Lord Jesus, Matt. 27:44.

  • Unrepentant Thief – Sometime later in the day, one of the thieves began to verbally assault Jesus once again. In effect, he says, “If you really are who you claim to be, save yourself, and save us too! If you really are the Son of God, if you really are the Messiah, prove it!” The thief who said that is in pain. He is angry. He wants off the cross. He sees Jesus nearby and he knows who Jesus claims to be, so he unleashes his fury against the Lord.
  • The Repentant Thief – the one we have been talking about, he hears his companion mocking Jesus, and he comes to the Lord’s defense. In response, he says, “Do you have no fear of God? You are dying the same death He is!” What he means is that death is coming for all three of them. Now is not the time to attack one another. Now is a time to prepare to meet God.

This gives us a glimpse into this man’s heart. He is dealing with his mortality. He is dealing with the fact that he is going to die. I don’t know what was in his heart, but it seems to me that he is looking back over a wasted life. He is keenly aware that he is where he is because of the path he has chosen in life.

He is also very aware that he is facing an eternity for which he is not prepared. So, he rebukes the other thief for his cold-hearted treatment of the dying Christ. His rebuke is evidence that God has opened his heart and has allowed him to see his condition.

Verse 41 we see His Revelation – The thief we are considering rebukes his fellow thief, then in the very next breath, he confesses his own guilt. He says, “We are guilty, and we are getting just what we deserve.” Then, he confesses how he really feels about the Lord Jesus. He says, “This man has done nothing wrong!”

In his words here, we see two essential components of salvation.

  • The confession of sin – Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9
  • An understanding of who Jesus is – Rom. 10:9

In Verse 42 we find His Request – In the midst of his personal agony; in the midst of his own death, this man looks to Jesus and calls on Him in simple faith. This is amazing! After all, Jesus is dying too!

Jesus must have presented a tragic figure that day. He has been beaten so badly that Isaiah said, “But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” 52:14. Jesus is nailed to a cross, and He is going to die. Yet, this man is able to see in Jesus the truth that Jesus is more than a man.

This man looks at the dying Lord and he sees more than nearly anyone else saw that day.

Based on what he understands about Jesus, he makes an incredible request. He asks another dying man to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. That is incredible! When this man looked at Jesus Christ, he did not see a dying victim of the Roman system. Everyone else, for the most part, saw nothing more than just another poor man hanging, battered and bleeding on a cross.

  • This man looked at Jesus and he saw God, verse 40.
  • He looked at Jesus and he saw perfect righteousness, verse 41.
  • He looked at Jesus and he saw One Who was going to somehow conquer death; rise again; rule in power and glory and extend grace to the undeserving, verse 42!
  • He looked at Jesus, wearing that cruel, mocking crown of thorns and he saw Jesus wearing three crowns.
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of the universe by calling Him “Lord.”
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of his own heart by saying “remember me.”
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of David by saying, “When Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”

VERSE 43  WE SEE HIS HEAVENLY SALVATION

“And Jesus said unto Him…” Jesus reached out to a man who did not deserve anything but judgment.

  • This man could not do anything for God.
  • This man could not give anything to God.
  • This thief did not deserve salvation.
  • He did not deserve the attention of the Savior.
  • He did not deserve for Jesus to speak to him, to help him, much less to save him.
  • He did not deserve for Jesus to do anything at all for him, especially to remember him at some future date in the kingdom.
  • When Jesus responds, He says, “To day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise!” Oh what words of love! Oh what words of grace! Oh what words of joy!
  • How those words must have comforted and thrilled this poor dying man.
  • He had nothing to commend himself to God.
  • He would never be able to read God’s Word.
  • He would never have the opportunity to repay his victims.
  • He would never have the chance to live a productive life.
  • He would never go to the synagogue.
  • He would never be baptized.
  • He would never give his tithe.
  • He would never personally tell anyone else about the Lord.

Yet, the Lord spoke to him and promised to give him everything! He promised it all without any strings attached. He promised salvation, hope, grace, joy, and glory and Jesus asked nothing in return! Hallelujah! What a Savior!