The Weapon of Confidence

When David came down to visit his brothers on the front lines facing the Philistine army, he found the army of Israel cowering because of the Philistine giant, but he himself defied and mocked the giant’s threat, saying “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he defies the armies of the living God?” 

When David was brought to Saul and the king expressed no faith in David’s stature or ability to defeat the giant, David retorted with testimonies of previous victories over bear and lion. When it came time for David to face Goliath, he rejected the weaponry that King Saul placed upon him, relying upon how he had been trained and weaponized by God.  When the giant calling upon his gods, and mockingly labelled David a “boy with a stick”, David follied the giant’s words with his own label of “minced meat”, calling upon the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.

David knew his victory would not come by sword or javelin, not even by his familiar sling and stone, but in the Name of the Lord.  This was his confidence, that God himself was with him to give him victory over death and the enemies of God.

There are the weapons of our spiritual warfare that we as Christians are armed with, but it is not even prayer or the sword of the Spirit through which we gain our victories, but by the Lord Himself. Our greatest weapon is our confidence in Him.

 

 

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Which Way to Go

Sometimes it takes time to resolve what exactly and where exactly God wants you to go and do His will. In can be like trying to find a water leak in your house, but in this case the opposite direction.  The question isn’t where the water is coming from, but where is it running to.

In the case of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20, there is a process of testing and discerning what the truth is concerning Saul’s intent to kill David, already known by David, which Jonathan doesn’t want to believe yet; but Jonathan instructs David to wait for his confirmation, and that the communication of what is discerned will tell David whether to stay or go.  In this case, Jonathan shot the arrow beyond the rock in order to tell David that David was correct in his discernment. David didn’t want to go, but he, and now Jonathan knew, that he must.  David’s appointed time would come later, when he would be crowned after much trial and endurance.  For Jonathan, it was a hard reality to face because he was losing his best friend, at least for a while supposedly until David’s return, although Jonathan ended up dying before.   This is not unlike and points Jesus’ necessary departure beyond, after suffering death and resurrection, before He returns as the anointed and appointed King.  Some if not most of us will die before His return.

But if you are “a David”, what is God telling you?  What does He have planned for you?   When, where, how, do you discern His will to be for you?   Take the time to test and approve His good and perfect will.  If you really want to know, He will tell you one way or another.

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Departing from the Crowd

It is one thing to be a disciple of Christ in the crowd and another thing to be one who follows Jesus when and where He commands us to go.

In Matthew chapter 18, on seeing the large crowd gather around Him, the Lord decided to depart to the other side of the lake, commanding His disciples to do so.  This action drew out statements from some “disciples” in the crowd.  First a “teacher” proclaimed he would “follow Jesus wherever he would go” to which Jesus responded with a teaching of his own, simultaneously speaking of earthy and spiritual truths related to the cost involved.  Even if he started to follow Jesus, would he remain when he encountered the hardships?  Was Jesus truly the Master of this teacher?  Secondly, another disciple pleaded to “first go and bury his father” before following the one he called Lord, to which Jesus responded with a correction to put His love and command first.  If he went and buried his father, would he have ever returned when he encountered other family demands?   Was Jesus truly the Lord of this disciple?

The truth is, it would be wiser not to make vows to the Lord that we do not know if we will be able or willing to keep them, but instead quietly and prayerfully count the costs, so that any “yes” we do speak might also become a “yes” in action.  But better that we say nothing at all, so our “yes” won’t be a “no” because we don’t really know if we will go until we actually do so.   And then, if we do so, we can speak of the reliable promises of God!

So, don’t just be another one in the crowd!  Yearn and learn to become a true follower of Christ Jesus!  All God’s promises in Christ are “Yes” and “Amen”!

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Divisions of Christ’s Army

Divisions occur not just between disciples and non-disciples but among disciples themselves; over pride, power, loyalties, theology, doctrine, practice, possessions, commitment, unforgiveness, and more.  The apostle Paul said these divisions should not be, but he also said that he was not surprised by them. He said, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.”

And of course, there will be differences of opinion over that statement and who it is that has God’s approval, but one thing all disciples should agree on is this; even while we “love one another” and “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace”, ultimately, it is God’s approval that we seek, even the Lord Jesus, who is the Head of the Church and the Master of every disciple. It is to Him that we will have to give an account.

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Pivoting on the Emmaus Easter Break

Emmaus was a turning point. The disciples on that road were heading away from Jerusalem and away from believing that Jesus was the One they were waiting for, because he died on Friday.

They had seen his signs and wonders, and had heard his amazing teachings, but they did not understand. Though their hearts now burned again within them at His spoken words, they were still kept from fully knowing Him until He revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread, the act which still proclaims His death until He comes again.

It was then that their eyes were opened, and they pivoted in their faith. They returned to Jerusalem, believing in Him as the One they were hoping for, because He died and rose again. And this Jesus purposely revealed to them in this breaking of the bread in which He was truly present.

The truth is, without the resurrection, the Lord could not be fully known in this way, because if still dead, he could not be known in any way, and the meal would be a mere memorial with no life and power, which Jesus did not institute it to be.

Sadly, many Christian’s break fellowship on this point. So we pray, “Lord Jesus, be known to all your disciples in the breaking of the bread.”  Let us recognize you whenever and however you choose to be known.

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Modern Men and Total Docility

The over-sensitivity of “modern” politically-correct and softened men has led parts of the Church and society, to prefer submitted men who have “quiet and gentle spirits”- 1 Peter 3:4. The problem with this, is that this Scripture refers to women, who God prefers this way mostly, except for those He raises up like Deborah the Prophetess and Judge, in order to put timid men to shame. – Judges 4:8-9 .

If anyone challenges the “modern” Church and society with this problem, they are often met with an angry response that is neither “quiet or gentle”.  Interesting, how that works.

The Church and society needs servant men who can not only set up tables, but who can overturn them if and whenever needed, as well.  Because of and for this, God Himself has given the Church, men in particular, “not a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” -2: Tim 1:7,  which includes the transitive ability to moderate and admonish.

Is is important to understand that the “total docility” of men can be a dangerous dimension that also needs to be disciplined, as it has been before in God’s House, by men sent by God, and if necessary, a woman.

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Let us Die with Him

In John chapter 11, the disciple Thomas’ fatalistic perception of dying with Jesus Christ in Jerusalem was based on his misunderstanding of what Jesus said “must” occur. From Thomas’ perception, it falsely meant the permanent end of life and the loss of everything promised including the new Messianic King and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, from which he concluded there would be no reason to live, so they might as well all die with Him.  He didn’t understand that first the Christ had to suffer death in order for new life and the Kingdom to arise, and that His death would not be the end of life and the loss of the promises, but instead was meant to bring about the end of death and loss of all things that could never fulfill the promises.

As Christians we must understand that dying with Christ, to ourselves and our old life of sin which leads to death, being buried with Christ in His death, is what clears the way for new life in Christ and the Kingdom within us, to arise! The Christian Faith is not fatalistic, but fulfilling of God’s promises through Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.  So let us “die with Him” that we may live again, and again!

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Following to Serve Not Ourselves

In Matthew 20:17 Jesus told his disciples, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for others”, as they argued about who was going to have the greatest position and power in the coming Kingdom. The fight broke out because Momma Zebedee and her two Thunder Boys created a storm when they asked Jesus about sitting on His right and left side, and the other ten became indignant probably because they had not asked first. Good thing the other mothers weren’t around! In response, Jesus instructed them all on the humble attitude they should preserve and the lowly position they should pursue, when following Him. The call to follow Jesus was not a race to see who would be first (that position was taken already), second or third, but who would become the last and the least among them. When we follow Jesus in order to secure for ourselves a high position in His Kingdom, we show that we have miss-learned what it means to be his disciple and we distance ourselves from the heart of the man, the Son of Man, who is the true Servant of the Lord. When we serve for selfish reasons, we lose out, because we are really following the world.

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Jesus the Leper

After Jesus healed the leper in Luke chapter 5, He circumstantially exchanged positions with the leper who was previously forced to dwell in lonely solitary places due to his leprous condition, which classified that person as unclean and not permitted to be near other people, not just because of the possible contagion, but also because of his likely facial appearance, having been covered with leprosy. At first the leper had to hide his face from everyone, but now Jesus did, after the healed leper disobeyed Jesus and told everyone about the healing. The healed man’s disobedience caused Jesus to suffer in lonely place outside of town, like one afflicted and stricken by God, in this case, with leprosy.

For Jesus, this was a preview of the cross he would have to bear. He exchanged places with us on more than one occasion.

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Becoming Peter

In Luke 5, Peter is referred to by Luke as “Simon” but uses “Simon-Peter” to mark the beginning of the change, the extraordinary moment when Simon is overwhelmed by Jesus’ “catch of fish” miracle and Simon becomes open to the call upon to become the man Jesus said He would make him to be in John 1:42, that is Peter.  This happens when Simon is struck with the reality that Jesus is more than he thought He was, and he moves from respectfully calling Jesus, “Master-Teacher” to “Lord”, which is a prerequisite to follow Him.

When were you first struck with who Jesus really was and  how did it open you to His call to you?

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