Monday, February 12, 2018

Five Stones and Faith

He picked up five stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” – 1 Samuel 17:4

The story of David and Goliath says that he picked up 5 stones, and put them into a pouch and went out with his sling.  But he also took with him his shepherd’s staff.

If you don’t know about the staff, you don’t know how he truly killed the giant.  Let’s just think about this.  How often have you heard of a man being killed by one rock? Hmm?  How often have you heard of a young boy with a slingshot using it as a weapon in a homicide?  Yea, it’s pretty far from what we see as reality, right?  If this appeared on the 6 o’clock news tonight it would be with a heading like ‘Incredible story of a young man who killed a villain who was tormenting their town with just one small rock.  More on that in our newscast.” It’s unexplainable!

Unexplainable, that is, until you realized what the staff represents.  The Shepherd’s staff was a tool of warfare for a shepherd.  It was used to fight off predators from the sheep he was entrusted to protect.  When a fight was done, they would often carve into the staff a history of what they had fought.  It was sort of like the old gun shooters notching their belts for the number of kills. For David, these were his credentials given to King Saul to allow him to go to war single handedly against the giant.  In 1 Samuel 17: 34-37 he tells Saul:

“I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.  I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!  The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Lions and Bears defected, the giant wasn’t that scary to this young man.  Can you imagine being as bold as to chase down a lion or a bear and club it to death?  If you read that last sentence again you’ll see where his boldness came from.  David didn’t put his faith in rocks or wooden objects.  His faith was in God, and that was his true weapon!  He realized that it was the Lord who had fought those battles, and delivered him.  He was ready for the next battle because he again had faith that God would deliver him.

Friends, every single day we fight a battle.  There are battles inside us for our will over God’s will, battles around us for us to conform to the world, battles in the workplace for us to be silent and conceal our faith, battles in the marketplace for us to devote ourselves to the desires of the world.  Here a battle, there a battle, battles battles everywhere! More often than we should, we all lose battles. 

Today, remember you do not fight those battles alone.  You’re a tool in the hands of Mighty God.  If you will submit to Him, He will win those battles for you.  Pray and stay in touch with him.  Keep your faith in Him.  We can often lose faith in ourselves and our abilities to fight the temptations we face.  But when we recall, when we pull out from our memories of all the things He has conquered for us, the carvings on our shepherd’s staff, we realize that there is no fight God isn’t strengthening us to fight.  There is no time when He will send us to war alone.  You CAN do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST who gives you UNEXPLAINABLE strength! (Philippians 4:13)

Now, go out and watch the enemy tremble! Raise a victory banner over each of your battles! God has empowered you to fight!

Happy Monday Ya’ll!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Eyes Wide Open

“By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him,  and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open:” – Numbers 24: 1-4

Throughout God’s Word you can read the word EYE.  But if you’ll notice, it has two meanings.  Most commonly, we hear of the physical eye with which we see.  Exodus 21:24 refers to “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, and the story of Samson in Judges 16 talks about how the Philistines gouged out his eyes.  Yes, our eyes are very important to our wellbeing, but perhaps not as important as the second type of “eye”.

If you read through the Bible carefully, you will find that the eye also refers to spiritual knowledge revealed.  Back as far as Genesis 3:5 Satan told Eve that “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it” referring to the fruit of the forbidden tree.  They were already seeing, but not spiritually.  Psalms 119:18 speaks of these eyes of the soul saying “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”  Balaam speaks in Numbers 24 after the Holy Spirit rested on him that God has given him “eyes wide open” that He would bless Israel.  The book of Revelation uses the phrase “and I saw” ten times in John’s description of the vision of Heaven he saw.  While he did not see with physical eyes, God allowed him to see it with spiritual eyes.  I Corinthians 2:9 speaks of what Heaven will be like and says ““Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The singular “eye” is the spiritual eye.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:22 “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” The very next verse speaks of the eye being evil and the body in turn being dark, pointing to the spiritual eye and light is a metaphor for wisdom.

With our spiritual eye, we can see things far greater than the physical one can show us.  Spiritual sight comes through faith when God’s grace provides it.  Sometimes it comes in the chaos of life that we could not otherwise overcome.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a deep belief that is so strong that it is established in your heart even before you see it with your eyes, like that of an expectant mother who knows the sex of her child before it’s born without seeing it. 

I’ve been struggling lately with feelings of complacency, depression, lack of passion and problems making decisions.  I’m going through a phase of life that I think we all go through in our careers where we feel the need to make changes.  We want to fulfill God’s plan for our life, and also to see what else is out there for us.  My career has taken some different turns in the past few years, and I’ve seen God’s hand leading me away from what is tried and true.  I’m finally at a point that I believe I can “see” with spiritual eyes what He has in store for me.  Because of that I’m going to put in a lot of time chasing that goal.  I ask for everyone’s prayers as I go through this journey.  I need your prayers for clarity of my spiritual sight.  To walk away from what I know and discover something new is tough.  It’s uncertain.  But God has given me eyes to understand it – eyes wide open. If I find that He does not walk with me through that, then I’ll know that isn’t the path He has chosen for me, and I rest in His promise that He will complete the work He started in me and that He does have a plan for my future both here, and hereafter. 
May God give you all eyes wide open.