Monthly Archives: May 2016

Lessons From The Shepherd Boy – Part 3

It’s the young shepherd boy against the warrior giant.

1 Samuel 17 is a vast reservoir of life lessons for the believer.  In part 1, I wrote about how David was God-centered instead of Problem-centered.  Next, in part 2, there is the lesson about trusting God as David learned to trust Him in the little things before he faced off against the giant.  David proved he was faithful and therefore developed a strong confidence in God.

In this third installment of Lessons From The Shepherd Boy, we see a another example of the wisdom found in this chapter.

David realized that God has bigger plans than just the removal of Goliath

The LORD will deliver you into my hand… that all the earth will know there is a God in Israel (1 Samuel 17:46)

Have you ever stopped to consider the truth of that statement of David’s?  Goliath’s defeat at the hands of the young Israelite shepherd would reverberate throughout the camp of Israel, the Philistines and the rest of the ancient world.  Throughout the millennia, this story has demonstrated, there is a God who redeems His people when they trust Him.

Other than possibly the Christmas story, this account of David and Goliath might be the most known Biblical passage.  You aren’t but a few years old and you know the basics of this story.  Even atheists know this scripture.  Sporting events are described as a “David and Goliath” match-ups as the passage has even become part of our vocabulary.

While David seems to realize God has bigger plans than just the defeat of Goliath, I doubt even David knew the far reaching effect his actions have had on “all the earth.”  Just as David may not have fully understood all the ramifications of his encounter with Goliath, we too may not completely grasp the consequences of our faithfulness.

But the LORD knows.  He honors faith and obedience in ways we can’t imagine.

You need to understand God has bigger plans for you than just a resolution to your problem.  When you are facing the giant and it seems so overwhelming, remember God will be glorified thru the solution of your problem.

Take comfort and encouragement from these lessons via young shepherd boy.  When you are starring in the face of snarling, insulting, well-armed opposition, and feel completely alone, know you are in good company.  The future King of Israel was in the same spot.  He faced his giant like we can; he was God-centered as opposed to problem-centered.  He had great faith in God because he had been faithful and trustworthy in the past, and he knew God had a bigger solution to his current problem than even he understood.

Now, go out there and pick up some rocks.  You might encounter a giant today.

Blessings my friends!

-jm

Advertisements

Lessons From The Shepherd Boy – Part 2

It’s the young shepherd boy against the warrior giant.

There are many lessons one can glean from this chapter.  In part 1, I wrote about how David was God-centered instead of Problem-centered.  There is another lesson we can glean from this passage which easily applies to our life.

  David Had Extreme Confidence or Faith In God

A quick reading of 1 Samuel 17 indicates David had extreme faith.  His faith was strong enough to allow him to stand up to Goliath as a sole combatant.  I picture this lone, pimple faced teenager standing on one side of the valley, while the mighty giant is standing on the other side, with hundreds of Goliath’s fellow soldiers smugly laughing at this want-to-be teenage warrior.  Meanwhile, the army of Israel was petrified by fear and unable to help David beyond giving him armor multiple sizes bigger than him.

The odds were against him, he was all along, yet he was still trusting God.  The young man had great confidence in God’s deliverance.  But notice why he was able to trust God,

The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.  – 1 Sam 17:37 NKJV

David remembered how God delivered him in the past.  God had built a track record with David or better, David had built a record of learning that he could trust God.

We may forget smaller victories often are proving grounds for bigger challenges.  Gaining victory over smaller issues prepares us for great battles.

Another part of this lesson is faithfulness.  David was faithful in the little things which gave him the confidence to face bigger things.  Those days out tending his father’s sheep proved to be a laboratory for testing his faithfulness, reliability and trustworthiness.  The sheep of his father’s were not going to stolen by a lion or bear while he was responsible for them.  In David’s way of thinking, this giant and his attack on Israel was no different than a wild animal trying to kill one of his dad’s flock.  As long as he had anything to say about it, this giant was going to have to get past him to defeat Israel.  David was faithful taking care of his dad’s sheep and therefore his confidence soared as he went to meet the giant for battle.

This lesson is one many of us fail to catch.  We want to do “big” things for God and want Him do “big” things in our life, but we fail to serve Him in the “little” things.  For David, facing the lion or the bear were preparatory steps before he went on to something much bigger.

This reminds me of the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.  Beginning in verse 14 He taught on faithfulness with this parable about the three servants.  One was giving five talents (roughly worth $50,000), the other one was given two, while the third servant was provided just one.  The first servant took his five talents and through wise investments, he made another five and when his master returned from his long journey, he presented his master ten talents.  His master congratulated him and made this proclamation,

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” – Matthew 25:21

The second servant had much the same experience.  His two talents where invested and he was able to double what his master gave him.  He too was congratulated with the same statement of his faithfulness.

But the third servant did nothing with the talent provided him and his master sharply rebuked him.

Like these first two servants, the shepherd boy David had proved his faithfulness by protecting and rescuing his fathers’ sheep.  He trusted God on those occasions and therefore, he was able to trust God for this encounter, with Goliath.

Are you faithful in those little things?  Do you show up to work on time? Are you up to your commitments?  Do you follow through on tasks that you promised to do?  Do you take out the garbage every week, empty the dishwasher and pick up the dog from the groomers like you promised?  (ya, I know, that hurt…)

To have faith in God when facing your giant, you need to have your faith built up by being faithful, trustworthy, and reliable in the little things.

Blessings My Friend

-jm

 

Lessons From The Shepherd Boy – Part 1

There are many Bible stories I love and find inspiring.  I relish reading about the Prophet Jonah, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Jesus feeding the 5000, Moses parting the Red Sea etc., but if I had to narrow down to my favorite Bible story, I’d probably end up in 1 Samuel 17 and the story of David and Goliath.

It’s the young shepherd boy against the warrior giant.

As different as caulk and cheese, this over-matched, under-equipped, and ill- experienced adolescent, was standing up against the giant with a bag of rocks.  The seemingly insignificant care-taker of sheep opposed this well armed, experienced titan of military conquest.

It was as if he was a goat being used to lure a tiger.

But we know how this encounter worked out.  The warrior giant was defeated and David began a long series of victories which finally culminate in him becoming the King of Israel.

There are many lessons one can glean from this chapter.  Over the next few days, I’ll examine three things I see from this passage which easily apply to our life.

 

David’s Attitude Is God-centered, Not Problem-centered.

We need to focus on God and not our problems.  This is such a hard thing to do when you are in the midst of problems, facing some pretty large giants in your life.

David’s brothers and even King Saul wasn’t looking at this situation from God’s perspective.  Rather, they were doing what most of us do, looking at the problem facing them and saying why they couldn’t overcome it – in their case, the giant Goliath.

Remember, these are battle-experienced men who victoriously prevailed in previous military endeavors.  Yet they are fearful, unable to do anything as they cower in fear from the taunts of the giant.

Enter the young shepherd boy.  While David is prominently featured in Chapter 16 of 1 Samuel, there are no words of his recorded upon his anointing by the prophet Samuel.  But here in Chapter 17, we have David’s first recorded words in Scripture.

“For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?”  – 1 Sam 17:26 NKJV

To David, this situation was nothing more than an pagan insulting the people of the God.  Israel had an ally, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth.  They were people of the covenant.  The covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.   The people whom God rescued from Egypt.  The people God dwelt with in His Tabernacle.  The people He provided for and protected.  Goliath would suffer the same consequences of anyone opposing God’s people – when Israel put their trust in Him and not their own strength.

David saw this as God’s opportunity to defeat another opponent to His people.  He does not see Goliath as a problem like the rest of Saul’s army.  David sees this problem, Goliath, as God’s opportunity.

I find it interesting how David mentions God in this chapter about 3 times as often as he mentions Goliath.  David isn’t ignoring the giant, but his attitude is God centered, not problem centered.  How do you see your “giants?”  They may be big, mean and insulting.  They desire to defeat and rule over you.  But can you look at God and His Word instead of the problem taunting, ridiculing, and laughing you?

Face your “giants” and don’t ignore then.  But you don’t need to be fearful of them.  You need to be God-centered and not problem or “giant” centered.

Blessings my friends!

-jm

Bearing Fruit

I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. –  John 15:5

No one takes a branch off of an apple tree, lays it in a bowl and expects an apple to grow from the cut off branch.  We don’t snap off small limbs of peach, pear or orange trees, set those branches aside and look for their respective fruits to grow.  No matter how much we water the branch or how much sun we give them, those branches will remain fruitless.  They are unattached to the tree and therefore they are non-fruit bearing.   The vine is how the branch gains nourishment and allows it to produce fruit.  The vine supports the branch and gives it strength.  The branch is unable to produce anything apart from the vine.

We understand this simple concept of growing and producing fruit, yet when it comes to spiritual fruit, this is an area in which too many Christians struggle.  To grow and produce fruit, we must be attached to the vine.  Jesus defines Himself as the vine, so therefore we must be attached to Him to produce fruit. There is no other way to produce fruit.

There are many times we may be tempted to do something (attempt to produce fruit) apart from Jesus.  We might be encouraged to engage our culture in such a way as to hide our relationship with Jesus.  We may be asked to “tone it down with that whole Jesus thing” at some event.  Some churches even fall into this temptation by wishing to host events without any mention of God.

There once was a time when I was asked to offer some advice to a local church that wished to start a men’s ministry.  My first suggestion was to begin a regular men’s Bible study.  The response I received from my suggestion was disappointing.  “Oh no, we don’t want to mention anything about the Bible.  We just want to get guys together to go fishing or something.  Then maybe weeks or months later we might sneak in a few Bible verses.”  I left the conversation knowing their attempt at men’s ministry was not going to succeed.  They were trying to produce fruit without being attached to the vine.

Producing fruit as a believer can be difficult at times.  It can be painful, laborious and even discouraging.  But trying to produce fruit when you are not attached to the vine, Jesus, is completely impossible.

That is why Bible study, fellowship with other believers, wise counsel, prayer etc are all part of being attached to the vine.  Being nourished by Him strengthens us and equips us.  Being attached to the vine gives us support.  But most importantly, being attached to the vine allows us to produce fruit.

Sometimes when we don’t think we’re making a positive impact in our communities or within the lives of those around us, it might be that we aren’t being nourished by the vine, Jesus Christ.    We’re working hard, but if we aren’t working under His direction with His strength, we are no more fruitful than a branch that’s separated from the vine.

We are to bear fruit and that only happens when we are attached to the vine, Jesus Christ.

Blessings My friend!

-jm