Runner or Couch Potato?
Two of the most well known things about David are his victory over Goliath and his sin with Bathsheba. When we consider his triumph, we wonder how we as a congregation can have our own great victories. When we consider his sin, we sometimes think we could never fall into such extreme wickedness, but may indeed later find ourselves in divisions, heresies, laziness, and sins that are no better. There is a temptation to only see the endings of great Bible stories and to miss how things came to be. If we do that, we will find ourselves failing to reach the desired end and being surprised when we have ended up in the sinful one. Let us consider two lesser-known statements from both events in David’s life, for as they stand in contrast to each other, they teach us it is not only the fancy ending that is important, but also the humble beginning.
The 1st statement comes from 1Sa 17:48, which states, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” Here we find an aggressiveness, a determination, a confidence in Yahweh’s ability to prevail that defines all that David does in 1Sa 17. It is this trust in the Lord, and this courageous zeal to accomplish His will, that resulted in David’s success.
In our 1st statement, little David, trusting in the Lord, bravely hastens toward a massive warrior. In our 2nd, of all the things mighty King David could do during “the time when kings go out to battle,” 2Sa 11:2 tells us, “late one afternoon, David arose from his couch and walked on the roof of the king’s house.” Here we find no fervor for the Lord, no zeal to accomplish His will. In fact, we do not even find someone who trusts in the Lord enough to care a thing about what he ought to be doing. All we find is someone whose greatest deed of the day is getting up off of his couch late in the afternoon. It is this seemingly harmless selfishness and complacency that led to the rampant evil we all condemn.
Perhaps, the reason we sometimes do not find ourselves achieving the great victories of David but rather find ourselves in danger of dwindling and failing, is because from the outset and throughout the process, our attitude is wrong. Perhaps, we are ambivalent, rather than determined; comfortable, rather than zealous; doubtful, rather than trusting. We must have the trust and zeal of David to have the victory God gave him.
Let each and every one of us approach the work here at [Insert your congregation here] with a zeal for the Lord’s will and a trust in the Lord’s ability to deliver. Let it never be said that at [Insert your congregation here] our greatest work was that “late one Wednesday afternoon we sat down on our padded pews.” It is time for us to go out to battle. Let us run quickly against whatever giants stand opposed to our Lord. Let us equip ourselves through study, and go out and share the good news and love of Jesus with our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, enemies, and strangers. Only then will we have the great victories of David and avoid his great sins.
My youngest brother, Joseph, was baptized into Jesus today!
“The Eyes of the Lord”
It is amazing how simple truths could have great consequences in our lives, if only we gave them more thought and respect. One such idea is found in Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
An obvious application we can draw from this text is one even people of the world make, only with Santa being the omniscient being. The idea is that Santa, who rewards according to whether you are naughty or nice, is watching, so “you better watch out.” Certainly, though it is a commonly accepted truth among Christians in regard to God, if we thought more about it, we would avoid many of our secret sins; those things we think we can get away with because no one is watching; and those we are too ashamed of to commit in open sight.
Even beyond the obvious (though still neglected) application we often make, there is another in Proverbs 15:3. The verse is surrounded by proverbs that, rather than focusing on secret sin, discuss something else. Vs. 1 says, “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Vs. 2 tells us, “the tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” And vs. 4 states, “a gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” The text seems to be applying this truth to the area of speech, something not done in secret. When we use our tongues it is easy to think that all that is going on is between whom we are speaking with and ourselves, and that no one else has to be involved or concerned. Often, we are not at all ashamed that our words are out in the open, for we intentionally speak harshly, feeling justified in our dealings with other people. Other times, we are careless with what we say, because we know the person we are speaking with is either too ignorant or too weak to call us on it. Rather than worrying that our words could “break the spirit,” we intend for them to do so, failing to see that someone above our worldly conversations and arguments sees every word that is spoken.
Let us not commit secret sins, but rather dwell on the fact that the God who gave His son that we might be forgiven and attain something higher is watching the very actions we would not want even people of the world to see us commit. But let us also know that God watches our words when we speak proudly and boldly before our neighbor or enemy. Let us realize that our words do more than hurt someone we may feel deserves it, they can hurt the very God who gave us all His love. Let us be more careful with our tongues. Let us use our words to show love and build up, rather than viciously tear down with evil and selfish intent. May we have humility, gratefulness, and a love that calls us to higher speech and higher action, for we know that “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
Grace & Peace,
If you're familiar with the Jesus seminar, The Gospels of Thomas and Judas, and related things, you must read this article on the Gospel of Bhudda.
Its kind of long, but well, well worth the read. Be enlightened, oh friend.
You Are What You… Worship?
The old saying, “you are what you eat” warns us against eating unhealthy food and encourages us to eat nutritiously, since what we eat affects how we are physically. Could it be that what or whom we believe in affects who we are and what will become of us?
In Psalm 115:4-7 we find a scathing attack on the impotence of idols: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.” But the writer does not stop at decimating and ridiculing the utter absurdity of the idols themselves, he continues in vs. 8: “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” Indeed, it can be said, “you are what you worship.” As these pagans learned, their lives were just as meaningless as a lifeless statue, and their end came upon them just as their idols corrupted and vanished with time.
The majority of our modern scientific, academic, and religious culture would probably share with the Psalmist in ridiculing idolatry, as it existed back in that day. Yet, what they propose is just as vain. With Materialism and Secular Humanism ruling the day, many deny any gods at all, or at the least, that any gods are doing anything at all in our world today. They effectively remove any truly objective moral standard. They eliminate the afterlife. And they lift up humans as the answer to everything. It goes without saying; they quite literally are whom they worship. It has rightly been said, “The man who is his own god, worships a fool.”
After Psalm 115 deals with idolatry, it emphatically calls for us to trust in the Lord (Ps 115:9-11). If what or whom we believe in drastically shapes who we become and how we will end, how wondrous it is to place our faith in the living and eternal God! The great challenge for believers has always been to shun the influences of those who worship gods fashioned according to their own liking, in order to worship the true God. If we will do that, we will become more and more like the great God above. At the end of Ps 115 there is a contrast between those who are dead and can do nothing more, and those who trust God, of the latter it says, “But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!” (Ps 115:18).
May we not be lured by the popularity or flashiness of the “gods” around us or by our society and fleshliness that calls us to be self-centered, for we will become just as wicked as they and will likewise end in destruction. Let us rather trust in the living and eternal Lord, for rather than being made by man, He made us. Let us continue to allow Him to shape us according to His image and that of His dear son (Rom 8:29).
Grace & Peace,