Friday, September 15, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-15 [Lessons from Samuel] Facing Giants #5 - Run to the Battle

Facing Giants #5 - Run to the Battle

David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
      (1Samuel17:45-49)
Tactically David should have kept a safe distance between himself and Goliath. Goliath would have been using his "trash-talking" routine to get closer to David.

David is zealous. He is passionate. He is incensed at Goliath's arrogance. Not only does he move toward Goliath, but he runs!
He runs passionately and confidently.
He grabs a stone from his bag.
Loads it in His sling.
He's running fast - he's swinging.
He's passionate. He's focused. He's adamant.
His picture of God is so big that Goliath is small.
And when it's like that... You don't miss!

Some say that God made the stone fly straight and true...
And that may be...
But I think the real miracle was that David's heart was strong and true.
Fear would have bound and stunted the skill that was in him.
But with God in His heart David became all he could be!!!

David teaches us to stay true to what we are good at.
But we learn more from his heart...
- His eyes were on God.
- His ambition was God's glory.
- His confidence was God's victory.
And so his best was his very best and the giant fell!

What about us?
We need to play to our strengths and be authentically ourselves.
But our God-given skills and talents can be stunted by fear.
We need a big picture of God!
Our zealousness for God's honour is an indication of the significance we will achieve.
Will we sit still when God's honour is at stake?
I hope not!



Thursday, September 14, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-14 [Lessons from Samuel] Facing Giants #4 - Don't be intimidated

Facing Giants #4 - Don't be intimidated

40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"      (1Samuel17:40-44)
There is a key fact that many people overlook when they read this passage...
Are you ready for it?
Goliath was bringing a knife to a gunfight!

Even today in Palestine you can watch shepherd boys sling stones at lamp-poles at 100m and hit them everytime.

Goliath had close range weapons, he couldn't throw his javelin as far as David could sling a stone. David presented a very dangerous threat to Goliath. Goliath was prepared for a traditional enemy - a soldier with spear, sword and shield. In that kind of fight Goliath had the size and the experience.

But David was a curved stone, I mean ball!

So Goliath had to rattle David. He had to scare him, shake him, intimidate him and do everything he could to get David on the back foot because if David was on the back foot, David would miss...

And so Goliath insults him, undermines him and intimidates him.
Look at Goliath's approach:
- He despised him
- He ridiculed him (You come at me with sticks)
- He cursed David by the Philistine gods, implying their superiority
- He threatens David (I'll feed you to the birds)

This is what Bullies do.
The band, Casting Crowns sing about this:
But the giant's calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again "boy, you'll never win!
"You'll never win"

Look at David's awesome reply... David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

I can't say it better!



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-12 [Lessons from Samuel] Facing Giants #3 - Simplicity

Facing Giants #3 - Simplicity

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
"I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
      (1Samuel17:38-40)
For David to use Saul's armour was a threefold temptation:
  1. Claim to the kingship. By wearing the King's armour, David would, in the mind of the people, have a claim to royalty
  2. Look professional and take a shortcut to soldier status. David was too young to be a soldier, but if he looked like one and defeated the giant, it would be very hard to take the soldier status away
  3. To rely on external tools and gimmicks.

But Saul's armour hinders him - it is clutter that slows him down.

Is there clutter in your life?
- The temptation to grab at status?
- An overdeveloped image awareness?
- Too much reliance on tricks of the trade?

David ended up being true to himself and true to the path that God brought him on. God doesn't waste any of our life-experiences. We learn and grow from everything that happens to us. (Whether they be good experiences or bad ones...)

David could have been enamoured with the new and the fancy. He could have relied on looking impressive and relying on the weapons because they were Saul's. In the end he trusts his experiences and he remains true to himself.

We spend a lot of time trying to be impressive, to be like society's heroes and to rely on what is trendy or cool and to do what it takes to be taken seriously.

David realises these are not a true fit.
He realises he needs to be himself.
He goes back to basics. He stays true to himself and trusts the lessons he has learnt in the past.

So should we....



Friday, September 8, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-08 [Lessons from Samuel] Facing Giants #2 - Be passionate for God's renown

Facing Giants #2 - Be passionate for God's renown

David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"      (1Samuel17:26)
Why did God honour David? I think it is because David was so utterly passionate for the glory of His God! Whilst the rest of the Israelites looked at the size of the giant, David looked at the size of the insult. While the rest of the Israelites saw the size of Goliath's weapons, David saw the size of His God! While the Israelites quaked in fear at Goliath's intimidating threats, David shook with anger at the giant's disrespect.

David was passionate for the honour of his God! David was zealous for God. He would not sit still - he would not remain silent!

David achieved significance because he would not sit still when others mocked his God. David made a difference because he wanted God to be glorified. David had a life which counted because he lived that life to honour His God.

Later in the chapter we read that Goliath cursed David by his gods. In response to the threat of Goliath's gods, David says (shouts - I think) "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!"
Then David runs to the battle-line and slings his stone.

When God saw this faithful passion, he delighted in this shepherd boy and honoured him, the stone was given wings, and the giant fell!

What about us? Our zealousness for God's honour is an indication of the significance we will achieve. Will we sit still when God's honour is at stake? I hope not!



Thursday, September 7, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-07 [Lessons from Samuel] Facing Giants #1 - Remember God's Faithfulness

Facing Giants #1 - Remember God's Faithfulness

BACKGROUND: David is a young man delivering provisions to his brothers. He hears one of Goliath's daily taunts and is incensed. Disparagingly he asks "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
------------------------------------
What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
32 David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."
33 Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."
34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."      (1Samuel17:31-37)
Saul doesn't want some young shepherd boy giving his troops false hope. When David's "dissing" of Goliath comes to his ears, Saul summons him and puts him in his place: "You are only a boy, this guy is a tank - He's a giant and he's been fighting from his youth."

But Saul has made the same mistake everyone else has.
He has forgotten that whoever fights Goliath doesn't fight alone!

David is crystal clear. Goliath may be an experienced fighting giant, and David may be a boy, but God, who has been with David to fight the lion and the bear, will be with him.

Very often giants come along and intimidate us. They try to dominate our field of vision so that we think only of them and it paralyses us. David uses the powerful tool of memory to remember how God has delivered him.

Lions and Bears are powerful and frightening enemies. Especially if you are a young shepherd boy surrounded by sheep. David would have had to trust God more than he feared these very primal enemies and when God delivered him, he must have been very aware of the help he received.

David's memories are clear and solid.
(Maybe he's told this story many times...)
He trusted God in the past and it turned out well.
He would do the same again!

What enemies have you faced in the past?
How has God delivered you?
What "songs of deliverance" can you sing?

Don't let a giant fill your vision!
Use your rear-view mirror to recognise that the God who has brought you thus far will carry you further still!



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-06 [Lessons from Samuel] The trouble with giants

The trouble with giants

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.
8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us." 10 Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." 11 On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified....
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.      (1Samuel17:4-16)
(We're going to spend a week or two looking at the story of David and Goliath...)

Giants can come into our lives at any point.

In Israel's case it was a literal giant soldier named Goliath. But giants can be spiritual or emotional problems. Giants can be systems, peer-groups or tough circumstances. Giants can be temptations or past failures. Setbacks or obstacles can become giants in our lives. The curved balls that life throws our way can be giants.

At some point you and I will face or have faced a giant!

There are some things we can learn from Goliath. These are "tricks of the trade" in the giant handbook of "how to intimidate God's people":

  1. They are big and well equipped. Goliath set out to make a massive first impression. Not only was his physical size phenomenal, but He had armed himself with incredible weaponry. He seemed insurmountable, impregnable and invulnerable.
    Many of our giants are the same - they seem larger than life. They same to have powerful weapons and impenetrable defences.
  2. They come offering compelling deals often too good to be true. "Send someone to fight me - winner takes all." Sometimes we have to question the deal. In the Biblical account David takes the deal and overturns it by winning against long odds.
    We should, however, be careful - sometimes the deal offered is a smokescreen and leads to compromise. But don't be afraid of being the underdog. With God on their side, underdogs win!
  3. He calls them servants of Saul. There are two aspects to this: Firstly, Saul has already started imploding and so their loyalty to him is waning. But secondly Israel are actually servants of God. But Goliath doesn't want them to remember that....
    Today's giants will try to make us forget who we are as children of the king. They will have us focus on heroes with clay feet or our own clay feet, crumbling from our failures.
  4. Giants keep coming. Goliath wore the Israelites down - morning and evening for 40 days. Each time he yelled at them the more they feared him. And fear was the object of the exercise.
    Modern day giants also fight wars of attrition. They will wear us down through repeated threats and many voices.

These are just some of the tactics of giants.
We should be on the alert...
If you see these tactics, you're facing a goliath!



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

EmmDev 2017-09-05 [Lessons from Samuel] Peace-full

My apologies for the gap in EmmDevs - it has been a bit hectic....


Peace-full

Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.
15 Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better."
17 So Saul said to his attendants, "Find someone who plays well and bring him to me."
18 One of the servants answered, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him."
... 23 Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.      (1Samuel16:14-23)
One of the fruits of the Spirit is peace.
This passage is a lovely picture of how a Godly leader who lives in the presence of the Lord can bring peace to those around him...

This is a difficult passage. It describes Saul's ongoing spiritual and emotional decline. God's Spirit has left Saul and now an evil spirit besets him.

What is difficult about this passage is that it indicates that the evil spirit is from God. This does not mean that God is the author of evil, but simply that He allows it - It is a reminder that God is still sovereign over evil. The best example we have of this is when Satan has to go to God to get permission to torment Job.

Although God allows the evil spirit to come, it is Saul who has rebelled against God. It is Saul who does not heed Samuel's warnings and Saul who would rather keep up appearances than repent. God's Spirit departs from Saul and, as he feeds himself on insecurity and jealousy, he opens himself up to evil influence.

Saul's servants recognise the presence of evil and they recognise that music (presumably hymns of praise to God) will banish the darkness. They recommend David. Look at the criteria they mention:

  • Plays the harp. Skilled musician (and, judging by his success in soothing Saul, a true worshipper)
  • Brave man and a Warrior: Someone who would not be intimidated by the evil spirit in Saul and the melancholic mood swings he was prone to. (We know that Saul twice tried to make a sosaatie out of David with his spear.)
  • Speaks well and is a fine-looking man. One can only assume that David's refinement would give Saul an anchor - to inspire him toward better things. Beauty is a powerful antidote to darkness.
  • And the Lord is with him: David lived in the presence of the Lord and could therefore exude God's presence.

Godly leaders, like David, will carry God's peace with them. The OT word for peace is Shalom (wholeness, blessing and harmony) - I believe that peace-bringing is a significant criteria of Godly leaders.