Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Love is Patient: Part 2

Wrath: The opposite of patience

The opposite of patience is anger, a quick temper, and wrath. There is probably no place where this is more apparent than on the highway. It seems everyone is in such a hurry and no one has much patience for others on the road. Just accidentally cut someone off on the road and see what happens. This has become such a problem in the United States that we even have a name for it, “Road Rage.” People get so mad at someone else’s driving that they go beyond yelling and screaming and attempt to retaliate with their own vehicles. In some areas it has gotten so bad that people will even shoot at each other over minor traffic infractions.

Wrath is not limited to the roadway but, in some relationships, it is firmly entrenched. The use of anger and wrath in a relationship is often the result of a pattern of behavior developed over many years, and sometimes over many generations. Anger is often chosen because it can produce short term results. When we yell and scream our children they are apt to comply, if only out of fear. While anger can produce short term results, it produces long term damage that can be hard to erase. James tells us something rather remarkable about anger, “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 NKJV) While wrath can produce immediate results, it can never produce the righteousness of God in ourselves or the people we relate to. Love would rather see righteousness established than mere compliance and acquiescence in our relationships.

Wrath places a huge emotional weight on any relationship. King Solomon said, “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool's wrath is heavier than both of them.” (Proverbs 27:3 NKJV) The burden of our wrath is often carried by those closest to us. This emotional weight can sap the life and joy out of a home or a relationship. It causes people to live in fear, always fearing the next outburst, always “walking on eggshells.” The venting of wrath is also a mark of extreme selfishness. We blow up, yell and scream, and then we feel better. Our anger has been release and now we are “over it.” We feel better yet it is those around us who have paid the price. We are ready to “move on” yet the people closest to us are left hurting and wounded. We need to understand that this is not love. Love would care for others, love would consider their needs and interests before ours, yet wrath thinks only of itself. “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

Next we will look at ways to grow in patience. David Robison

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Love is Patient: Part 1

One of my favorite prayers is, “Lord give me patience and give it to me NOW!” We are not a people who like to wait. We have microwave ovenss, fast food, and broadband Internet access. We want what we want now and hate to have to wait. The proliferation of credit cards in our society is a testament to our lack of patients. We want our “stuff” without having to wait until we can pay for it. It has been said that, “Patience is a virtue,” which I think means that “virtually no one has it!”

We often think of patience as being a passive activity. We see patience as being willing to wait for what we want. Biblically, however, patience is not passive but active. Patience can be defined as,
“To be patient in bearing the offences and injuries of others, to be mild and slow in avenging, to be long-suffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.” Joseph Henry Thayer
Though we have been born into an eternal kingdom, we have not yet fully occupied that kingdom. We live in an “in between” time, a time between the way things used to be and the way things aught to be. We are not who we used to be but we are not full who God has destined us to be either. We live in a world that is still full of sins, offenses, and hurts. The character of patience is how we continue to actively live a godly life even when confronted with the offenses and injuries of others.

In our relationships, we are called to love each other by showing patience towards each other’s faults. To illustrate this, imagine that our relationships are like a garden. Our desire is that out relationships produce a bountiful harvest of beautiful, fragrant flowers and delicious produce of every kind. Unfortunately, many of our relationships are more like a garden that is overrun with weeds. Some of the weeds are the result of seeds sown before the relationship was started. Seeds of rejection and abuse sown in early childhood can reap a harvest of weeds later on. Other weeds are the result of bad seeds sown by one another within the relationship. Seeds of control, criticizing, and neglect can produce their own harvest of weeds. In the end, we have hoped for a beautiful garden but have ended up with weeds, weeds, weeds, nothing but weeds.

My wife and I have in the past done some marriage counseling. Many couples who made it to our living room had a marriage that was like that garden of weeds. The hope they shared on their wedding day of a marriage full of blessings was by now just a long lost dream. How does a couple change their marriage from a garden of weeds to a garden of blessings? The key is for both spouses to start sowing good seeds while pulling the weeds. With such a simple idea, many couples would leave, committed to the plan, only to return a week or two later and report that, “it didn’t work.” They tried to sow good seed and pull the bad weeds but their garden continued to bear more and more weeds. They were ready to give up in despair.

This is where patience comes in. Sometimes faith is not enough. God has given us His promises but faith is not always enough to receive those promises. Paul reminds us to, “not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12) Faith alone is not enough to receive what we wish from the Lord, we often need to mix patience with our faith. Sometimes we must be willing to persevere in doing right that we might eventually reap what we desire. We must be willing to sow good seeds and pull weeds until eventually the harvest of the good seeds overtakes the weeds. We may not immediately see the fruit of our labors, but eventually, if we persevere, we will. Paul reminds us to, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)

Patience is the character of spirit that enables us to continue in doing right even when we do not see immediate benefits of our actions. Patience is not limited to marriages but can be applied to all our relationships. Whenever we are dealing with fallen human beings, there exists the opportunity to employ patience.

More to come… David Robison

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Love is... (Introduction)

My wife and I have been married for a little over twenty years. I remember just after we got married, when we returned from our honeymoon, that I suddenly realized I didn’t know how to love my wife as God would have me love her. I remember praying in our small apartment in Troy, New York, and asking God to teach me how to love her. That prayer began a 21 year journey through the scriptures learning what the Bible has to say about love.

My first revelation was that I lacked the required love to be a loving husband. God commands husbands to “Love your wife,” yet human love falls far short in both capacity and quantity when compared to God’s love. When we try to love people out of our own supply of love, our supply quickly runs out. This is especially true in a marriage. During the “honeymoon” period our love seems boundless and it is hard to imagine ever fighting with each other, but in time our selfishness and self centeredness reappears and overshadows out love for one another. In ourselves we lack love for each other, but not in God. John reminds us that, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) If God is love and God abides in us, then love abides in us. In ourselves we may be insufficient to love others as we ought to, but in God we have an endless supply of love. God not only placed His Spirit in us but He has also placed His love in us. Because God’s love abides in us, we are able to love one another with a Godly love, an unconditional love, and a love that is never ending. This ability to love with a God like love is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a child of God. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) Without God it is impossible to truly love someone. Apart from God we cannot fully understand what it means to love, but once we are introduced to Him who is love, then love is released in our hearts and we are able to love one another with an unconditional love.

My second revelation was that I did not know how to express my love to my wife in a way that would be meaningful to her. While there are many books that espouse the benefits and necessity of romantic love in a marriage, romantic expressions of love comprise only a small part of marriage life. Even worse, an understanding of romantic love did not help me understand how I should love others besides my wife. There is only one person I can express my love to in a romantic way and many other relationships where a romantic expression of love would be terrible inappropriate. King Solomon said, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.” (Proverbs 27:5) It is one thing to love someone; it is another to be able to express that love to them. Love must be expressed to be communicated and it must be expressed in a way that communicates love to the other person. I remember the story of some friends of ours. Every year, on his wife’s birthday, the husband would buy his wife cloths, thinking it would communicate to her how much he loved her. However, his wife did want cloths, what she really wanted was a new vacuum. She would have gladly given up all the clothes to get her new vacuum. The husband thought he was communicating love but he was missing what she really wanted.

Fortunately, the Bible has a lot to say about how to communicate love one to another. In 1st Corinthians 13, Paul outlines some of the ways that Godly love expresses itself. These expressions are not limited to a husband and wife but can be applied to all of our relationships. If we learn these expressions of love, then the people we care for will be able to experience our love and will know that they are loved and cared for. Over the next several posts we will be looking at 1st Corinthians and what it has to say about love.

David Robison

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A leader of giant slayers: Part 5 (Final)

David chose liberty over conformity

King Saul finally consented and permitted David to go fight with Goliath. But before David left, Saul insisted in clothing David with his own armor. “Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor.” (1 Samuel 17:38) Yet David was not used to the armor nor the sword that King Saul gave him, so he refused to wear them into battle. “So David said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’ And David took them off.” (1 Samuel 17:39) Instead, David chose his own weapons, weapons that were familiar to him, and went to face Goliath.

In almost every area of our lives, there is an incredible pressure to conform. King Saul wanted David to conform to how he thought a battle should be fought. From the King’s perspective, you had to have armor and a sword. Even in our churches today, we place a premium on conformity. Someone once said that the eight most deadly words that can be spoken in church are, “We have never done it that way before.” Unfortunately, when people live under the conformity of traditions, rituals, and religion, they almost never seize the opportunity to slay a giant. Instead of victory, they settle for status quo.

The pressure to conform is so that the rest of us can feel better about ourselves. In the first century church, there were those who were insisting that the gentiles be circumcised. Paul writes of their motives, “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.” (Galatians 6:12-13) As long as no one else is willing to fight a giant then we don’t feel so bad about our own fear and unwillingness to fight, but when someone steps forward and accepts the challenge, then it makes us question our own heart and motives. When David stepped forward to fight Goliath, his actions exposed the faithlessness and ineptness of the rest to trust God and to win against His enemies. I always wondered why the Jewish elite were so offended when Jesus healed on the Sabbath. There was the case where Jesus healed the man with the withered hand. “But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, ‘There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’” (Luke 13:14) Their offense was not due to it being the Sabbath but because the works of Jesus exposed their own powerlessness and their own faithlessness before God. They were the religious leaders and yet here was an ordinary man doing what they themselves could not do.

Of all the forces trying to get us to conform, the most oppressive is that of dead religion. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, even though he had been warned by the Holy Spirit not to go (Acts 21:4). A prophet named Agabus warned Paul of what was waiting him in Jerusalem. “And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”’” (Acts 21:11) Agabus said that it would be the Jews that would bind Paul, yet when Paul was arrested in the temple, it was the Romans who bound him (Acts 21:33). What the Holy Spirit was saying was that, while the Romans would bind Paul physically, the Jews would bind him in his heart. Why was Paul in the temple that day? It was because of the counsel of James,
“You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.” (Acts 21:20-24)
Paul yielded to James’ wish that he portray himself as a law abiding Jew, even to the point of offering sacrifices in the temple, even though he knew that Jesus was the final sacrifice for our sins, that we are the temple of God, and that man can never be justified by the law. Paul allowed his heart to be bound by men and accepted conformity over liberty. We have been called to liberty. Paul reminds us, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) We can never lead people into freedom and victory if we are unwilling to leave the confines of conformity. We must step out, try something others say is impossible, trust the Lord, and give it all we got. And in our victory, other will see that they too can live free and victorious lives in Christ. They will realize that they too are called to be giant slayers.

David Robison

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A leader of giant slayers: Part 4

David’s faith grew in obscurity

One does not just wake up one day and decide to take on a giant. David’s faith and his confidence that he could prevail against Goliath were developed over years of walking with the Lord. When it was reported to King Saul that David had volunteered to fight Goliath, Saul tried to dissuade him. “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:33) Saul could only see David as a youth who was incapable of winning against a seasoned warrior like Goliath, yet David had a strength that was not apparent from his ruddy outward appearance. David replied to King Saul, “Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:34-36) Long before he faced Goliath, David learned to trust God for his victories in the everyday challenges of life. By God’s help he had already overcome a lion and a bear, so what was a giant to God. If God was on his side, no challenge would be too great.

We all would like the glory of doing some great feat for God, but few of us are willing to invest the time spent alone with God to let Him develop His character and strength in us. Much of the deep work of God in our lives is done in places of obscurity, in a lonely and solitary place where we have no one else but God to lean on. This was certainly the life of a youthful shepherd boy. Many days and nights he spent alone with his sheep and his God. Although no one was there to see it, God was working in his life and making him into a leader of giant slayers. There were many others in the scriptures whom God groomed in obscurity. For example,

  • Abraham was told to leave his nation and his people. It was only after he separated from is nephew Lot that God promised him the Promise Land.

  • Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness before he returned to save Israel.

  • Joseph was sold into slavery and thrown into prison. It was there that he learned to become the leader of Egypt.

  • Saul/Paul spent several years in exile before he was accepted by the saints in Jerusalem. It was years latter that Barabbas found him and brought him to Ephesus. It was there that he finally entered into his ministry.

Even in my own life, much of my preparation for ministry occurred in my own desert experiences, literally, when we lived in Las Vegas. It was a time when I was removed from most of my friends and family and had to learn to walk with God on my own. The faith and confidence I gained from those experiences has given me courage to face the challenges of today.

There is no shortcut to maturity in Christ. There is no magic prayer that will instantly give strength to those unaccustomed to waling in the strength of the Lord. We must not squander the time we have. We must give ourselves fully to the things God is working into our lives. Otherwise, when the need arises, we will find ourselves unprepared and unequipped to face our Goliath. But if we yield to the Master’s hand in the everyday challenges of life, then one day we may find ourselves slaying the giant and encouraging other to do so after us.

David Robison

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A leader of giant slayers: Part 3

David knew that people were watching.

As David approached the Philistine, Goliath looked at him with disgust, He chided him saying, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (1 Samuel 17:43) However, David was not dissuaded. He declared his faith that his God would deliver Goliath and the whole Philistine army into his hands. “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.” (1 Samuel 17:45) David declares that God was going to grant him victory so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:46-47)

David knew what was at stake. Not only was his own life at stake but also the life of the armies of Israel and the freedom of her people. David also knew that the people were watching, they were watching to see if God would come through. They were waiting to see if their God was still a God of victory. If not, they were ready to flee for their lives. If so, then they were willing to fight. As the story goes, David defeated Goliath. At the sight of their enemy laying dead, the people took new courage and chased after the Philistine army. “The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron.” (1 Samuel 17:52) David’s courage led to his victory, which gave courage to those around him and enabled them to taste victory for themselves.

The example of David and Goliath stands in stark contrast to the time the twelve spies returned from spying out the promise land. Moses had sent them to walk through the land of Canaan for forty days and to return and report on what they saw. While they saw that the land indeed had great wealth and produce, it also had giants. “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.” (Numbers 13:27-28) Of the twelve spies, ten brought back a bad report. Only Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report, a report that was mixed with faith. “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us -- a land which flows with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:7-8) Yet the report of the ten prevailed and faith was replaced with fear in the heart of the congregation. “Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.” (Numbers 14:1)

People are watching us. Our choices and actions have a direct influence on those around us. This one fact has at times been what has motivated me to continue in my walk with the Lord. There have been times when, in the face of depression, discouragement, and despair, I have not cared for my own life as to whether or not I would continue with the Lord. Yet in those times I have remembered that what I choose to do with my life has an impact on those around me. I consider the impact on my wife and family if I decided to “take a vacation” from God. I consider how it might affect my brothers and sisters in the church. I even consider what those whom I have witnessed to would think if I backslid. In those times, I find that it is my love for those around me that motivates me to continue in God. Whether or not I feel like going on, I do it for those around me, that they may not be discouraged but rather strengthened in their walk with God. In this life we cannot afford to only think about ourselves, we must think of others and the impact that our choices have on them.

As Robert E Lee stood surrounded by the Union Army at Appomattox Virginia in the closing days of America’s Civil War, he prepared himself for surrender. General Alexander suggested that he not surrender and that the men be released to flee and try to find another regiment to fight with. Lee responded,
"You and I as Christian men have no right to consider only how this would affect us. We must consider its effect on the country as a whole. Already it is demoralized by the four years of war. If I took your advice, the men would be without rations and under no control of officers. They would be compelled to rob and steal in order to live. They would become mere bands of marauders, and the enemy's cavalry would pursue them and overrun many sections they may never have occasion to visit. We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the country years to recover from. And, as for myself, you young fellows might go bushwhacking, but the only dignified course for me would be to go to General Grant and surrender myself and take the consequences of my acts." (Robert E Lee by Douglas Freemen)
Later, Alexander wrote of his response, "He had answered my suggestion from a plane so far above it, that I was ashamed of having made it." Lee acted not out of concern for himself, but for the men he was leading. He understood that history might speak poor of him for surrendering, but it was what was right for his men. If we are to become leaders of giant slayers, we must learn to act in the best interest of those around us. We must lead in a way that sets an example and engenders courage in those who follow. Many challenges will face us as we walk with God and people are watching to see how we will handle them. If we chose courage and press on with the Lord, then hopefully some of them will be inspired to rise up in courage and accept their challenges in God.
"Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:32)
David Robison

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A leader of giant slayers: Part 2

What motivated David to do what others were afraid to attempt? What can we learn from the Life of David that will help to be the kind of leaders that open doors for others to follow? Here are a few practical insights.

David was a man of principles.

When faced with a Goliath, we can either respond by our principles or by our emotions. The army of Israel responded to Goliath’s challenge with fear. They allowed their emotions to dictate their actions. Instead of trusting God and facing Goliath, they retreated. “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” (1 Samuel 17:11) From the King on down to the lowliest of soldier, they were griped with terror and fled from his presence. King Saul even offered a great reward to the one who would fight with Goliath, “And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.” (1 Samuel 17:25) Even the prospect of great wealth was not enough to move the warriors of Israel from fear to action.

It would be naive to assume that David was not scared. I’m sure he was just as scared as everyone else, but he was also courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to respond in a godly way in spite of your fear. In his present situation, David chose to respond by his principals and not his emotions. David’s response to Israel’s problem of Goliath was, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26) David’s sense if right and wrong overtook his fears for his own life and the lives those around him. David chose to respond to what he knew to be true not to what his emotions were telling him.

While I have never had to defend myself against a giant, I daily face the same decisions that David faced. Whether to live my life by my emotions or to live it based on God’s principles. For example, in my marriage, I have been encouraged by the following proverb of Solomon, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) There are times in my marriage when I am down and my wife is there to life me up. There are other times when my wife is down and I am able to life her up. However, there are sometimes when we are both down, what then? In those times I have come to understand that it is up to me, as the head of my house, to put aside my own needs and attend to her needs. In those times, I must be the one to lift her up even if my own needs go unmet. My emotions may be all over the map, but I must respond by what is right, I must respond by God’s principles. I wish I could say that I do this perfectly one hundred percent of the time, I don’t, but as I am growing in God, I’m getting better.

When we respond by principals rather than emotions, we set an example for others that they too can chose what’s right over choosing for their emotions. Some people have never learned that they can live apart from their emotions. Part of our salvation is meant to free us from a life of reacting to our feelings and instead to live a life lead by the Sprit. “So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit , the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:4-6) When we walk by the Spirit, we show others that they can too. We show then the freedom that is in God to obey Him and to live according to His will. Hopefully, once learning this, they too will become giant slayers.

David Robison

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A leader of giant slayers: Part 1

“Now it came about after this, that war broke out at Gezer with the Philistines; then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the giants, and they were subdued. And there was war with the Philistines again, and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. Again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot; and he also was descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David's brother, killed him. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.” (1 Chronicles 20:4-8)
In the days of the Kings of Israel, there were still giants living in the land. Growing up with the story of David and Goliath it is easy to believe that Goliath was the only giant in those days, yet Goliath was only one of the decedents of the giants and he himself had four sons who also were giants: Ishbi-Benob, Sippai, Saph, and the brother with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. This fact also helps us understand why David took “five smooth stones” when he went to meet Goliath: one for Goliath and one for each of his sons. In those days the giants were archetypical of those who reproached, taunted, and defiled the nation of Israel. They also represented in kind those who resisted and stood to oppose the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

There once was a time in Israel when no one would dare to challenge a giant. In the days of King Saul, the Philistine champion Goliath openly taunted and challenged the army of Israel. “Again the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” (1 Samuel 17:10) Goliath was quite the man. He was over nine feet tall and “The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.” (1 Samuel 17:7) Combined, his spear (beam and head) weighed as much as 65 pounds (30 kilograms)! At his sight the heart of the warriors of Israel melted away. “When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.” (1 Samuel 17:24) So what would turn a nation of giant fearers into a nation of giant slayers? The answer can be summed up in one word: David!

When David defeated Goliath, he not only secured victory for Israel but also set an example for others to follow. It was as if David opened a door and gave others permission to challenge “their” giants. David’s victory emboldened the fearful and showed them that they too could be giant slayers. Courage and boldness are contagious. Sometimes all people need to see is someone else walking in victory to spur them on to victory in their lives. “And that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” (Philippians 1:14) As other believers saw Paul’s boldness and courage, even in his sufferings, they themselves grew in courage and became bold in their walk with the Lord and in their defense of the Gospel.

One of the definitions of a “leader” is “one who goes before.” When David fought Goliath he was acting as a leader of God’s people. He was going before them to show them that it could be done. He gained victory to show them that victory could be theirs as well. He went before them to show them the way and to show them that fighting giants was possible. In the same way, Jesus was a leader for us. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20) Jesus came to show us that, by the power and grace of God, it was possible to live a life free from sin and to find acceptance and entrance before the presence of God. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession… Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14, 16 NKJV) Through Jesus’ example, and faith in His promises, we can come boldly before the very throne of God to receive what ever we might need in our time of trouble. Jesus went before and He is now calling us to follow.

In the same way, we are to be leaders for the world around us. We are called to be people who go before, to show the way, to open the doors for others to follow. We should live our lives as examples to others that they may see and follow. Our lives should give “permission” to others to believe God and to trust in His word.

People are watching. They are watching us to see if the faith we confess is real. They are watching to see if our God is really able to change us and to make a difference in our lives. Even when we are struggling, they are watching to see if God still delivers His people today. People are watching and God is calling us to lead. It is time, just as it was when David faced Goliath, for us to take up our courage and to go forth into the things of God. It is time to find our victory in the Lord and to help show others the way. This is our time and this is our calling! “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

David Robison