Monday, March 29, 2010

You Do The Math...

Goliath was an imposing warrior. He stood over nine feet tall. His armor alone likely weighed more than most of his opponents. It would have been work for normal men to even carry his weapons – imagine trying to throw a spear whose tip alone weighed 15 pounds! These are just a few of the reasons why Goliath was undefeated in combat. In fact, the rest of the Philistine army was so confident in his fighting abilities that they were willing to pin all of their hopes on him. Do you recall his boastful taunting of the Israelite army? “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” (1 Samuel 17:8-10, NLT).

Perhaps it was this over-confident view of himself and his abilities that caused Goliath to become so incensed when a young shepherd came to engage him in battle. To his way of thinking, this was the ultimate sign of disrespect. “Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. ‘Am I a dog,’ he roared at David, ‘that you come at me with a stick?’ And he cursed David by the names of his gods” (1 Samuel 17:41-43, NLT). He then boastfully predicts a swift and bloody demise for the presumptuous lad who dared to challenge his supremacy. ‘Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!’ Goliath yelled (1 Samuel 17:44, NLT). But the story doesn’t end as Goliath predicts. By the end of the day, the boastful giant lay dead at the feet of youthful shepherd.

Goliath boasted in his own abilities. David boasted in the abilities of God (1 Samuel 17:45-47). You do the math…

God loves you!

Exercise Can Be Bad For You!

The soldiers of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had fulfilled their commitment to their fellow Israelites. Although they had asked for and were granted a territorial inheritance on the east side of the Jordan river, they had promised Moses that they would go on to help their brothers possess their own inheritances which lay on the western side. After many battles, it was time to go home to their families. As they made their way home, just before they crossed the Jordan, they paused to build an altar. Little did they know just what an uproar this altar would cause (Joshua 22:1-10).

When the rest of the tribes heard about the altar, they gathered together and prepared to go to war with their brothers whom they suddenly viewed as traitors. Thankfully, they halted their battle plans long enough to send a delegation to confront the rebels. To the leaders of the western tribes, this was a clear-cut case of rebellion against God. Was not the God-ordained altar at Shiloh enough for these rebels? The foolish presumption of the eastern tribes was going to bring judgment on the entire nation (Joshua 22:11-20)!

The rapid-fire accusations stopped long enough for the incredulous easterners to explain their actions. Their altar wasn’t built for sacrifice but as a memorial. They would never run competition with God’s altar! Upon hearing the explanation, the delegation of western leaders softened their harsh rhetoric. After learning the facts, they realized that the situation wasn’t what they had initially imagined (Joshua 22:21-34).

Jumping to conclusions. Sadly, it is the only spiritual exercise some believers get. Someone hears something about someone else (usually second- or third-hand) and before you know it, war is declared. Sinful motives are assumed. Characters are assassinated. All before any time is taken to discover all the facts in the matter.

Jumping to conclusions is a dangerous exercise! Let’s stop before we hurt ourselves and those around us.

God loves you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Equal Opportunity

A significant part of the early chapters in the book of Isaiah is devoted to warnings concerning the coming judgment of God upon human sin. Some of the most pointed words of rebuke are reserved for God’s own covenant people. Due to the rebellion of Judah and Israel, the discipline of God was imminent. But surrounding nations also come under the scrutiny of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Arabia, Tyre – each receive their own personal word of warning from the prophet of God. In fact, the jurisdiction of God over the nations of earth is so complete and far-reaching that, by the time you reach chapter 24, the judgment of God is described in global terms: “Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters its people” (Isaiah 24:1; NLT).

Notice, though, what the text goes on to say about God’s judgment: “Priests and laypeople, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors – none will be spared” (Isaiah 24:2; NLT). We learn that everyone who persists in rebelling against God will experience his judgment, regardless of their place in human society. The wealthy won’t have an advantage over the poor. The powerful won’t have an easier time than the weak. All rebels stand on equal ground before the God of heaven. In that sense, God is an equal opportunity Judge.

But, thankfully, the opposite is also true. God is also an equal opportunity Savior (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28). Racial, economic, or gender distinctions are irrelevant when it comes to God’s deliverance. The poor are just as valuable to God as the wealthy. The weak are just as welcome to salvation as the powerful. Remember, God “…does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9; NLT). We can also affirm that all redeemed rebels will also stand on equal ground before the God of heaven. Thank God for that!

God loves you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

With God’s help, the Israelites had just conquered the mighty city of Jericho, the first obstacle in taking possession of their inheritance. The sight of the crumbling fortifications was still fresh in their minds. The rumble of the collapse was perhaps still ringing in their ears. What an incredible boost this must have been to their confidence! Who could stand against them with God on their side?

They were so confident that they didn’t even send all of their fighting men to the next stop on the campaign – the city of Ai. But this day of battle ended far differently. This time, the Israelite army was routed and forced to run for their lives. We are told that they “…were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away” (Joshua 7:5).

Joshua and the other leaders of Israel agonized over the defeat. They appealed to God and He revealed the cause of their troubles – someone had disobeyed by taking some of the spoil from the defeat of Jericho. God said: “Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you” (Joshua 7:13).

I wonder how often hidden sins keep us from realizing victory in our own lives? Some brothers and sisters in Corinth were using their assembly times to promote their own greed and exclusivism. When they ate together, some refused to share their food with others. This greediness spilled over into their attempts to honor the death of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Paul charges them with “…sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). These sins caused the Corinthian brethren to fall under the judgment and discipline of God (1 Corinthians 11:30-31). The Corinthians church was experiencing defeat because they were harboring sin in their midst.

May God help us to remove every sinful attitude or action from our own lives that prevents us from experiencing the victory He desires for each one of us!

God loves you!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Home Security

I read this week of a home in the hills overlooking Los Angeles that some claim could be the safest house in the world. Jack Bauer might even break a sweat infiltrating this place! “The heavily fortified and super secure residence occupies an easily defended promontory with 360-degree views. The well-defended dwelling stands five stories tall, measures almost 8,000 square feet and includes 32 rooms that all sit atop a virtually impenetrable batcave-like garage that will hold six, preferably armored, cars…The home’s real luxury is, of course, the ensured safety of its inhabitants. Should an intruder manage to breach the extensive exterior safety measures that include comprehensive surveillance abilities, there are two hidden panic rooms and two architecturally invisible ‘safe cores.’ The safe cores consist of entire sections of the residence that can be isolated from the rest of the home and where the homeowner can retreat in complete safety – not to mention luxury – from an outside threat that might include an intruder, a natural disaster, or even a nuclear, biological or chemical attack….While it can be tough to put a price on the safety and security of one’s family, in this case the tab is $7.25 million” (, 2-22-10).

May I share with you a better way to secure your home? It really has nothing to do with steel, reinforced concrete, surveillance cameras and ‘safe cores.’ It has everything to do with who you are rather than where you live. Jesus tells us that ‘…everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

True security is found in submitting to God’s will for your home. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

God loves you!