pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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In the Lord Almighty

Reading: 1 Samuel 17: 19-23 & 32-49

Verse 47: “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s”.

In some ways, today’s scenario is a bit comical. For days now this scene has unfolded: get up, cook some breakfast, get dressed for battle, form up in battle lines, shout challenges and curses at your enemy, hear Goliath’s challenge, stand there all day. At the end of the day they return to camp and get up to do it all over again. Each day a giant comes forth and requests a one-on-one battle to end this silly “charade” – I mean “war”. Goliath himself is comically large – over nine feet tall, intimidating, powerful. Goliath’s bravado causes the Israelites and their king, Saul, to become silent. None of them can even imagine going out to face the giant. Day after day this scenario plays out.

Goliath is representative of some if the people we meet. In their own minds they are larger than life. They see themselves as vastly superior in their chosen field. They look down with disdain on all other human beings who are clearly less. They rely on their own strength or abilities or intelligence or expertise. They fully trust in themselves alone.

In our silly story, David is the clueless outsider. He happily wanders into camp and hears something different in Goliath’s challenge. David hears Goliath challenging God. In David’s mind, it would not matter if Goliath was nine feet tall or ninety feet tall. For David, you don’t mess with God. David trusts not in himself or in the five smooth stones in his pouch. He remembers how God saved him from the lion and the bear – two that should have devoured this little shepherd boy. Just as with them David comes against Goliath in the name of the Lord. Demonstrating his faith in God alone, David says, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s”. Nine foot tall giant? Just watch what God can do!

This too should be our battle cry. The world will and does bring many giants and obstacles into our lives. On our own, they can seem insurmountable. To each we face, may we too say to them, “I come against you in the name of the Almighty Lord”. May we fully trust in our God who can do all things. Then our giants will fall facedown on the ground too. May it be so. Amen.


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Call Out

Reading: 1 Samuel 17: 1-11

Verses ten and eleven: “This day I defy the ranks of Israel… Saul and all the Israelites we’re dismayed and terrified”.

Today’s passage is the beginning of a familiar story. The Philistines and Israelites, long-time enemies, are drawn up for battle. In our lives, those one or two sins that always seem to pop up are like these two armies – always just about ready to do battle. In this occasion though, the Philistines have a “champion”. In reality, this is someone who you think can whip anyone the other side sends out. In hockey, this would be the enforcer – the big guy you have to deal with if you get a little too rough with the other team’s star. In our childhood days, this was that really big kid you wanted to pick for your team. Unless the other side got to pick first – then he was called a bully or worse.

What is your persistent sin? What are the two or three things that you always wrestle with? Is it pride or ego or the need to be in control? Those are mine. Is it the tendency to judge or to compare yourself with others? Mine too. Is it something else? We all have these sins that bully us, that seem to always be right there on the front line, ready to do battle with our inner compass, the Holy Spirit.

Goliath steps up to the battle line and says, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel… Saul and all the Israelites we’re dismayed and terrified”. The people of God, the atmy of the chosen people, hear this challenge and stare at the ground. Instead of calling on God and going out to face this bully, they cower. We sometimes act the same way with our sins. Instead of turning to scripture or going to God in prayer at first temptation, we look away. We pretend the sin isn’t lurking. But the temptation is still there. It calls out over and over and eventually we give in, we sin.

If there is a giant calling out to you today, may you call on the name of the Lord, trusting in the One who can defeat anything. Call out! When you do, Satan will flee. May it be so today. Amen.


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Perfect Creations

Bullying has many forms.  It can be blatant or subtle and can lead us to act differently.  The act of bullying occurs at all levels of life and in all places.  It can happen at work, at school, at home, and even at church.  A bully’s main desire is to be on top.  In modern times, social media has taken bullying in a whole new direction.  You no longer have to be present to bully someone.

Goliath is a classic bully – physically intimidating, hurls insults with his words, seeks to be the alpha male.  We’ve all faced this type of bully.  Saul’s bullying is a little more disguised.  He wants David to wear his armor, to don his tunic.  In short, he wants David to be like him.

David counters both.  Against Goliath David calls on God’s name to defeat his enemy.  David knows he cannot face the giant alone so he calls on the one, true source of our strength – God.  Against Saul he says this is not who I am.  David goes out to face the giant just as God created him and using the skills with which God has gifted him.  He knows how God created him and David trusts this.  We find great examples here in David.

When faced with a challenge, we too need to turn to the source of all we have and are – God.  He promised to be with us and to strengthen and encourage us.  And we also must remember that God created us just as we are and that we are perfect in His sight.  We must not bend or break but must remain true to who God created us to be.  We are each His perfect creation, a child of God.  If we live each day and face the challenges that life brings as a child ofn the one, true king, life cannot defeat us.  God is on our side.

Scripture reference: 1 Samuel 17: 32-49


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An Awesome God

Think for a moment about the awesome and amazing things God has done in your life.  Think of all the miracles and ways you have seen God at work in the world.  Think of all the times you have felt His presence or have been guided by the Holy Spirit.  God is alive and well.  Our God is an awesome God!

Goliath, the Philistine champion, came out and challenged the Israelite army to send forth a man to do one-on-one combat.  He was over nine feet tall and wore heavy armor.  For sure he was an intimidating presence.  It’s not a wonder no one stepped forward.

Think for a moment of those times when you faced a crisis or struggle and your friends and family surrounded you with prayers and presence.  Think of a time when together your church has overcome a challenge.  Think of a time when you have come alongside another in need.

Goliath instilled fear and trembling in all of the Israelite army.  Day after day after day he came and called them out.  Day after day after day the army of God cowered in fear.  So many time God had brought Israel victory, often against the odds.  So often God had been right there with them.

Today we have a few Goliaths.  We have them in our own lives – priorities askew, addictions calling, busyness…  We have them in our churches – declining numbers, the question of relevance…  Today we have the same God that allowed David to face Goliath and win.  We have the same God who will help us win, even against the odds.  He is still an awesome God.  Call on Him and see.

Scripture reference: 1 Samuel 17: 4-11