O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
There is something about youths. Once they set their passion on God, they simply will not stop. They are charged with emotion and energy, they cannot stand sitting back while something needs to be done. They actively take hold of opportunities and, at times, shame the older generation by doing what they could not do. Sounds a lot like David when he saw Goliath mocking the name of God and His army, doesn’t it?
In chapter 17 of 1 Samuel, we see David boldly approaching Saul, volunteering to fight the Philistine, Goliath. The little boy who was at the scene because of a chore to give bread to his brothers, approaching the king. While reading their interaction, I am able to find myself within the image of Saul.
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
1 Samuel 17:32-40
Lord, grant that I would not become a voice of disdain to the younger generation.
Grant that I would not discourage the next David by saying “you are only a young man.” Grant that I would not try to enforce my armor and tactics on a soldier who trusts in the name of the Lord Almighty.
To all the Davids out there, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Knowing how wretched and sinful I am, and have been, helps to make clear just how great the love of the Saviour is. This is a body and soul that was destined to die, because by the Law I am a convict and I have no excuse or alibi. But Jesus steps in and sets us free from the Law of Moses; He offers His hand and determines to call us righteous. Sometimes I feel frustrated that all I can do is thank Him. So hopeless and helpless, yet offered the greatest hope and help.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
There is a need for a person to come to terms with how great a debtor he or she was, because at that moment, the glory of the salvation we have been offered will be revealed in one’s life. One will be motivated to please this Saviour and to avoid sin.
“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” - John Newton
Our shame was deeper than the sea, His love is deeper still.
The other day I read Psalm 24 which describes God as the King of glory, the Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle.
This came as a bit of a shock to me because I found that, in my mind, the glory and mightiness of the Lord had taken the backseat to His patience and gentleness. But He is the Lion and the Lamb. Jesus is the fierce Lion chasing people out of the temple with a whip, and the meek Lamb eating with sinners.
How often do we think about Jesus as a warrior? Do we not at times keep Jesus on the cross, weak and bloody, hanging there helplessly?
Jesus rose from the dead. He is seated on the throne as King. The Book of Revelation describes Him as a figure on a white horse with a white robe, crowned with many crowns, with a face like the sun shining in all its brilliance, and out of his mouth a sharp sword which seems to represent the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. He is alive. He is Jehovah-Gador Milchamah, the Lord mighty in battle.
We do not serve a weak, dead God; we serve a God who conquered the grave and is exalted in the highest of heavens. Take heart. Surely He is with us until the end of this age.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives for ever.
1 John 2:15-17
This is a verse that challenges me all the time. Boasting of what we have and do - isn’t that what Facebook is about? Everyone is talking about who they were with, what they saw, what they did, what they bought. This is also described as “the pride of life”.
The cravings of sinful man and the lust of his eyes. I thought these two were quite obvious manifestations of worldliness, but the third category of the pride of life awakens me to be more cautious in what I place my confidence in. I may have been more worldly that I’ve thought.
I have preached about boasting before, but this is another reminder; a necessary reminder, as we forget so easily.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Two prayers that I want to remember for the rest of my life.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand rather than be understood; to love rather than be loved, for it is by forgetting self that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life. Amen.
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands their daily bread and by our understanding love give peace and joy. Amen.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:25-26
If people will train for years on end to compete for a gold medal in the Olympic games, how harder must we who take part in the race of faith train and run?
Time after time I realise how difficult it is to really keep the faith and run the race. I find myself running aimlessly or beating the air. We have a lot to learn from the perseverance and discipline and passion of the Olympic competitors.
Apostle Paul wrote about running in the race of faith to the Corinthian church. He spent his time in prison before being killed, 1 and 2 Timothy being his final letters before his death, addressed to his disciple Timothy. I pray that at the end of my life, I can confess the words of Paul.
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
Reading through the history of Genesis, I have noticed an interesting pattern in human nature. It is something that we can easily spot in this day and age as well. When things don’t go our way, it seems that we tend to blame others. But who really is to blame?
In Genesis 3:12, after Adam and Eve sin against God, Adam blames Eve instead of facing his own failure - “The woman you put here with me- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” In the next verse, Eve blames the serpent.
Isn’t this such a familiar scene? It happens all the time in homes, in school, in relationships, in politics. I tend to slip in somebody else’s name instead of accepting that it was “my” fault.
Later in Genesis 16, Sarai suggests that Abram sleeps with her servant since Sarai is barren and cannot have children. Once Abram takes this advice from his wife and gets the servant Hagar pregnant, Sarai blames her husband for the friction that occurs in her relationship with Hagar - “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering.” It was Sarai who suggested it in the first place, but her husband is supposedly responsible.
I think the answer is quite clear. We’re to blame, not the next door neighbour, or the friend, or the teacher. Next time, may you humbly accept failure and show the meekness of Christ in taking all the blame.
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken.