I Samuel 17 Part 1–Facing the Giants

The people in Israel were in the midst of regaining their standing as a nation. Saul, their king had been making a name for himself by attacking the Philistine outposts. The battles had gone back and forth–but on this day, Israel had a big problem. His name was Goliath he was 9’6″ and armed to the teeth.  He stepped out to the battle lines and made a challenge. Send anyone from the Israelite army to face Goliath and winner takes all.  From Goliath’s standpoint, there was no one that was nearly close to a match of size or strength.  He neither feared God or men.
 
Across the valley, the mighty army of Israel sat in paralyzing fear.  Their King, Saul had rejected God’s leadership.  He no longer heard from God or trusted God to battle on Israel’s behalf.  So when a mighty warrior almost twice as large challenged them–rather than looking to God; they looked hopelessly at each other. What do we do now?  Israel had become a mighty nation by looking to God for direction and seeking His leadership in war and peace.  Now, since they no longer had God’s direction, they wandered aimlessly and fearfully through the battle.  Make no mistake, God still cared for His people, but the Lord was unwilling to bless a king who rejected Him and His leadership.
 
Israel’s problem was huge–but it was not the giant. Israel’s problem was chasing other gods.  Some had names like idols–Rah. Baal, Asherah. Other God’s were not named–power, riches, lust, and rage. Israel had simply lost sight of the God that freed them, protected them, provided for them and prepared them to take their place as a mighty nation. Never-the-less, God had a plan.  God would, as he always does, bring a warrior like none other.  When he was done, the warrior would make clear that it was God that would battle Israel’s enemies, and God would make Israel victorious.
 
In our lives, we, like Israel, get easily distracted by other gods.  Some have names–Hollywood, sports, politics. Others are unnamed like stress, finances, power, or lust. Still, when we lose sight of God, we begin to be overtaken by fear and confusion.  Our problems seem to be gigantic and armed to the teeth–but, as we learn, they are not the giants we think we see. Instead, it is our lack of submission to God as our Lord. When we humble ourselves, confess our sin and resubmit to God’s leadership; then the Lord himself will battle the giants we face. He will be victorious and He will get the credit. The beauty is that, when God takes the credit–everybody wins.
 
God Bless You

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.[a] He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels[b]on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.[c] His shield bearer went ahead of him.

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. 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 armies 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.

Matthew 19 Part 1–Marriage and Divorce

The Church has struggled to deal with broken lives in so many contexts. One of the most difficult is the break up of families. In a society that sees half of all marriages ending in divorce, the repercussions are devastating. It has grown so confusing, that the Supreme Court has even thrown up their hands, succumbed to political pressure and announced that marriage and family is pretty much what ever you want it to be.

God was not nearly so inclusive. He made marriage a union of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Men have failed that model throughout history. Polygamy, homosexuality extra marital relationships either before marriage, during or after marriage–were  never part of the plan God designed for family.  God allowed men to do as they would–not because he liked it, but, because people are stubborn and sinful.

So when the religious leaders were trying to trip Jesus up with questions on divorce, He was not amused.  He simply stated the facts–painful as they were.  Funny thing is, the facts are more painful today.

I am not here to judge. I am grateful for my marriage and my family. I believe in marriage as set out in the Bible. We have raised our children to know–at our house; that marriage is a covenant! Through good times, tough times and in the dark times when marriage takes all our emotional and spiritual energy to continue; we rest in the same hands that protect, prepare and provide for us in every other way, the Lord’s hands. The strength of a nation is, in major part, tied to the strength of its foundational principles–respect for life, liberty, family and authority. As a church, we must stand strong on these principles so that the next generation can embrace the commitment to life and family that will carry our way of life through trials, wars and tribulation.

Help us Lord, to trust You, and honor the principles for families You have set up for us!

God Bless You

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Psalm 120–God is the Master of Peace

The psalmist in Psalm 120 was a man of peace. In his distress–he, like so many other men of peace, turned to the source of peace–God Almighty! In his world, there simply was nowhere else to turn.  As you read the psalm, you sense his frustration–a world gone mad with fighting and corruption–but, he knew that in the end–God would vindicate him and bring peace where only war could be seen.

Fast forward thru the ages, and time and again–men bring the world to the edge of apocalypse, with no hope of peace imaginable–then a peace comes that can only be explained by the Lord God Almighty.  God allows men to do atrocious acts to one another and often the more horrendous the tyrant the greater the sweep of power. But, in the end, right wins and God prevails. So, we who long for peace, need look no farther than the God of the Universe–who will bring peace in His time.   

God Bless You

I call on the Lord in my distress,

    and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
    from lying lips
    and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
    and what more besides,
    you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
    that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
    among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
    but when I speak, they are for war.

Psalm 119 Part 5–God Is Still Our Refuge and Strength

As we follow the Lord, trials are inevitable.  Often it simply does not seem fair–but, when we encounter those trials we know to whom we must turn!  As David closes out Psalm 119, the message returns to the message of hope–it is God that rescues, restores ad repays! As his enemies attack, his critics berate him and darkness closes in; David Looks to God and His word to prepare, protect provide and restore him.

The fact that David’s message of hope tracks back to the fact that we can trust God even in our darkest hours to meet our every need is the greatest message of all.  we can never forget–young or old; that God is there to carry us through.  David, the King that God Loved like none other, knew as we should, that God will come through.  

Like David, we can never lose heart. We must always hold on to the promise that God will meet our needs and help us to face our foes no matter the time or circumstance.  We need simply to cling to God as our fortress and use his word as our sword and shield.  In that, we can face any danger and know that we do not have to face it alone.

God Bless You

Powerful people harass me without cause,
    but my heart trembles only at your word.
162 I rejoice in your word
    like one who discovers a great treasure.
163 I hate and abhor all falsehood,
    but I love your instructions.
164 I will praise you seven times a day
    because all your regulations are just.
165 Those who love your instructions have great peace
    and do not stumble.
166 I long for your rescue, Lord,
    so I have obeyed your commands.
167 I have obeyed your laws,
    for I love them very much.
168 Yes, I obey your commandments and laws
    because you know everything I do.

Taw

169 Lord, listen to my cry;
    give me the discerning mind you promised.
170 Listen to my prayer;
    rescue me as you promised.
171 Let praise flow from my lips,
    for you have taught me your decrees.
172 Let my tongue sing about your word,
    for all your commands are right.
173 Give me a helping hand,
    for I have chosen to follow your commandments.
174 Lord, I have longed for your rescue,
    and your instructions are my delight.
175 Let me live so I can praise you,
    and may your regulations help me.
176 I have wandered away like a lost sheep;
    come and find me,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

Elohay Mauzi – God Of My Strength: Psalm 28, 37, 59, 118, Habakkuk 3, 2 Samuel 22

It is so comforting that I do not have to be strong on my own.  God is my strength.  He is my fortress, my stronghold.  But what does it mean that God is our strength. In short, this world is a difficult place.  There are trials, and circumstances that seem unbearable, and impossible to rise up and face. It is in those times, that God comes in and becomes the strength we need.

Gideon leads 300 against thousands and decimates them without raising a sword. David, as a teenager, faces a 9’6″ giant with years of training and battle experience–and kills him with a slingshot and a rock. Moses leads Israel through the Red Sea and watches God destroy the Egyptian army. Time and again, When we cannot handle a trial–God becomes our strength and victory.

In our lives, we live in a culture bent on the destruction and obliteration of all reference to God.  They want no mention of anyone that would usurp their control of their own lives. Yet, the harder the world tries to obliterate God and his chosen–the greater he becomes in our lives.  We simply, like those that have gone before, must step back and allow God to be God.  With him leading, he will provide the strength, the direction and the wisdom to face whatever struggle we face–on any particular day. He is glad to be our strength when we have none–all we have to do is ask!

God Bless You

Psalm 28:8

The LORD is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed

Psalm 37:39

But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.

Psalm 59:9

Because of his strength I will watch for You, For God is my stronghold.
Psalm 118:14

The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:19

The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.
Psalm 59:9

Because of his strength I will watch for You, For God is my stronghold.

2 Samuel 22:3

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,  my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me.

Elohim Kedoshim – Holy God: Leviticus 19:2, Joshua 24:19, 1 Peter 1:15-16

People of faith sometimes become confused. They mistake the patience and love of God, for quirks in his character.  Because God desires that none should perish, he is slow to anger and slow to judgement. Never the less–God is a Holy God.  He will not allow those that refuse to follow–to be in relationship with him.  What is more, He will not tolerate a lukewarm christian that gives a token acknowledgement occasionally without any desire to submit to him and follow him. 

God provided a way for those that were full of sin and death to return to him. He sent Christ to die and rise again–simply to restore the ability to walk with him.  That sacrifice was not the weak plea of a milk toast God–It was, instead, the only way for a Holy God to reach out and restore relationships with sinful people.  Still, with the ability to be restored, God requires that we follow him and him alone.

Being Holy means to be set apart.  It is the call to be different in thought, action and allegiance from the world and its culture. From Abraham, to the promised land–God always told his people to be “Holy”–separate from the prevailing culture. We worship God, not the things he created, and, especially not our own interests.  We serve others first–blessed to be a part of the lives of those that have needs we can meet. We live to leave a legacy of love and humility–to honor the one that left heaven to save us. We live by faith knowing that he who calls us is faithful and he will meet our needs.  

Simply put, holiness does not mean we physically separate from the world! It means that while we are here, like any ambassador, we live a life that honors our God and our faith–Be Holy, as he is holy.

God Bless You
Leviticus 19

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

Joshua 24

19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

 
I Peter 1

15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]

God’s Leadership Criteria–1 Timothy 3 Part 1

It is difficult to live a life of faith.  As one draws closer to God–the enemy attempts to derail and nullify them in their faith.  So, when Paul coached Timothy on picking his leadership team, he laid out some petty difficult restrictions.  Paul was no snob.  He did not set out requirements simply to exclude folks he would not like.  He set out criteria that set men apart from the crowd.  He encouraged Timothy to surround himself with  men of faith that demonstrated in their daily lives a humble submission to God’s leadership.  As they walk in faith, Paul lists qualities that would become apparent.

In our walks, God does not call each of us to be leaders in our church.  many would argue, however, that he calls each of us to be qualified to be leaders.  As we look at Paul’s list, he enumerates qualities that come from humbly following God–great reputation, great family and a focused spirit that honors God–in good times and difficult ones.  We understand that our control is limited, but, that if we do follow him, we are more likely to see these qualities than if we do not.  In first Peter 5, Peter warns us, “Be on guard and alert–our enemy roams around like a roaring lion–seeking whom he may devour!” When we are preparing to lead, we can be assured that that warning is in large print and embossed upon each day.  It is an honor to lead–but it is a responsibility and task whose accolades are in no way equal to the responsibilities and the costs.

God Bless You

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
8 In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.