The battle of David and Goliath is not just a story about a shepherd boy and a seasoned military killer of gigantic proportions. David is stirred to step into battle because of the disrespect, the blasphemy, hurled at the LORD by this violent and insolent Philistine. Bill Hybels nails the heart of the story that we may lose in any visual portrayal of the battle. What is at heart is this one question: Is there anything I hold as so important that I view it as worth fighting for and even losing my life to defend?
The battle of the Cross is an even greater struggle of Jesus against forces greater than the obvious religious establishment and the power of Roman military and political might. Jesus is battling the evil one and the powers of hell as he goes to the Cross and faces death, and Jesus triumphs through the very vile form of death the devil tries to use to silence and put an end to God’s redemptive work:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits — to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves youa also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heavena and is at God’s right hand — with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him (1 Peter 3:18-22).
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over themb by the cross (Colossians 2:15).
Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), says that we are worth fighting for… the lost and forgotten and trapped in sin are worthy fighting for… and our Lord was willing to pay the highest of prices to win this war for us.
So as some of us take flak and criticism for reaching out to places church folks won’t often go to share Jesus, our price is small indeed compared to the Lord’s price, but the price Jesus paid reminds us that these people are the very kinds of folks worth fighting for! Each time we take communion — each time we hold the bread the cup to our lips — we should hear the words from Jesus, “Given for you!” and be emboldened to do for others what Jesus has already done for us!
We all fall short of what God wants of us. The real question is not “If?” but “What now?”
Samson failed many times, but not the last time. While taking a little creative license, this clip drives home a crucial point: God longs to use us if we will trust the LORD will pardon, cleanse, and strengthen us for the good of the Kingdom.
As John wrote struggling believers centuries ago, so it is still true today:
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world (1 John 1:5-2:2 NLT).
Have you ever wondered where lint in the dryer comes from?
I mean, really! How many tons of the stuff have come off your clothes over the years? It’s almost like lint multiplies while in the dryer. You see, lint in the drier is just one of those crazy realities of life: no matter how much you have cleaned out the lint screen, you know with the next round of clothes, the lint is going to multiply in that thing and have another batch of the fuzzy stuff waiting for you in that screen!
Little annoying habits are a lot the same way. They’re so easy to pick up. Even when we are not trying, we can slip into them. We often don’t even notice them. Whatcha bet our spouses know them? Thankfully, he or she just ignores them most of the time. It’s part of the grace of love — we overlook each other’s “bad lint” — those irritating habits that come with the person we love!
Years ago, when Donna and I were engaged, I learned that it drove her crazy when her room mates in college whacked their tooth brushes on the sink to get the water out of them after they finished brushing. She never knew that I spent three months trying to get rid of this lifelong habit until years later. She heard me use it in a sermon illustration. She had never known I had done that. Let’s just say that it scored me a bunch of unexpected brownie points! And that’s not even why I did it. I did it because I was so in love with her that I didn’t want to do anything that might drive her crazy with me!
Now let’s be clear, whether you are whacker of the toothbrush like I was before making my quiet correction, or a flicker (running your thumb nail over the brush to get the water out), a sucker (you suck the water out at the end of brushing — yes people really do this), or a rinse-and-dripper isn’t the issue. The issue is very simple: there are jillion things we do that drive our spouse nuts! Most of them aren’t a big deal. Yet over time, a lot of those little things can make a big thing. After awhile, the lint adds up! And just like in the drier, when you don’t clint out the lint filter, sooner or later the drier is gonna break or catch on fire!
So the good news is this: giving up an annoying habit for Lent, or just for love’s sake for that matter, is not really a sacrifice. It may not even be noticed. However, it will do one very vital thing in your heart: it will remind you that annoying habits are easier to break when done out of love rather than out of conflict! And, whether noticed or not, your heart can feel glad for doing something out of love for the one you love! After all, how many gracious and loving things has the Lord done for you lately that you may have never noticed? Since the Father delights in giving good gifts to his children, so shouldn’t we find delight in getting rid of a little of that “annoying habit,” that relationship “lint,” whether we do it simply for love or as a commitment for Lent?
The LORD’s message came to me: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I chose you for a special work. I chose you to be…” (Jeremiah 1:4-5 ERV).
Like Jeremiah who first heard this word from the LORD, our first instinct is to say, “But Lord GOD, I don’t know…” We tend to look at those great people in the Bible that God called into service as something special — something we tend to think we are not. We often call them “biblical characters”! But as an old friend named Stanley Shipp used to say, “There’s no such thing as biblical characters, just a bunch of characters running around when the Bible got written down.”
The problem with us, just like everyone God called into service during the time “when the Bible got written down,” is that we know ourselves. We tend to see our flaws, our failures, and our inconsistencies. “How could God ever really use someone like me?” we ask ourselves. Of course the bottom line truth is this: we are the only kind of folks God has ever had available to use!
So before we dismiss the call of the LORD in life — before we explain away God’s purpose for us when we were still in the womb because we think, “I am no Jeremiah!” — let’s think together for a few minutes about one incredibly humbling and empowering truth. We are God’s masterpiece: an original work of the Master’s hands, lovingly created and fashioned to be a one of a kind person who lives to bring him praise for the incredible work of his hands.
Don’t believe me?
Still have your doubts?
Well go back and read that incredible passage that talks about us being saved by grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) and then notice how it ends:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).
What’s even more amazing is that God has put his SIGnature on you and marked you as his own work, called according to his great purpose for you! Let me share with you briefly what I mean.
The S in God’s SIGnature on you is what I call your Strengths. You may call them talents. It’s the DNA your Father in heaven gave you when he formed you in your mother’s womb. You came into the world with these strengths programmed into who you are. Just like Jeremiah, God knew you and had a plan for you before you were even formed in the womb of the woman who carried or held by the mother who raised you! Notice the words David wrote for all us to say in our worship to God:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in a your book. Every moment laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:13-16 NLT).
Yes, a big part of who you are and what God wants you to do for him and for the Kingdom was built right into your DNA! I hope you can say with the words of the Psalm, “Your workmanship is marvelous!” and know that you realize that you are God’s workmanship!
The I in SIGnature is what I call Interests. As we grow and experience life, especially after we have given our life to Jesus, God is at work in those experiences to fashion us and bless us. Most of us know the incredible promise found in a Scripture that is many people’s favorite Bible verse:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28 NLT).
In other words, we are more than our DNA! When God re-creates by his grace, he makes us new spiritually (2 Corinthians 5:17) and he gives us new interests and things to do for him (Ephesians 2:10). Every step we take from that moment on, God is involved in our lives. The Holy Spirit is alive and living in us, working to form Christ in us (2 Corinthians 3:18). And every situation, every circumstance, every experience we have is filtered through God’s grace and is used to shape us for our good and God’s glory.
Along the way, because of our experiences and the God’s providential work in those experiences, we develop new interests and abilities. We find certain aspects of our character and faith strengthened. We realize that new doors of potential ministry are opened up to us because our experiences have been used by God to prepare us to share his grace with others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). New areas of interest and ability are discovered. Other areas of interest and ability either buried or forgotten are uncovered. Some of our favorite interests and abilities are honed and made better because God is always at work in our lives “to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV).
The third mark of God’s SIGnature on us are the Gifts we are given by God — the Bible emphasizes these gifts come from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — when this precious gift from Jesus is given us at our conversion (Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:3-7). Four key places in the New Testament talk about these spiritual gifts:
While we don’t have time or space to delve into the nature and types of spiritual gifts we have been given, suffice it to say, God is at work in us to do amazing things to honor him and bless his people. Spiritual gifts are not about us, but about God’s grace working through us to grow our church family to be more like Jesus in what we do to bless others both in how we serve them (Ephesians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18) and in the power available to us (Ephesians 1:17-20; Ephesians 3:14-21) to do the work God has called us to do!
So we have covered the S-I-G in SIGnature, but what about those last letters — “nature”? Well, that’s the discussion of much of the apostle Paul’s writings. We can live by the flesh, or by the Spirit. We can be led by our flesh, or sinful nature, or we can be led by the Spirit, our Spirit-filled nature. Life in the Spirit is realizing that we have been born into a new “nature” — or as Paul says, we are new a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:9-17). Life in the Spirit is about learning to be filled and led by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-21; Galatians 5:22-25). As we do learn to let the Spirit lead us, then we begin to see the life of Jesus — both his compassion and character — come alive in us! Yet when we look in the mirror, we still us… ourselves… except only now, the light we see shining through us and reflected from us, reminds others of Jesus!
Love eternal? Nah, we’ll take assurance that “Love 214″ hit its proper mark!
Ah, Valentine’s Day. The day of terror for most men. But not you, right?
Got your wife the last season of Duck Dynasty — hope not!
And return the blender, the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, and any other household cleaner, appliance, or tool.
Go personal. Go Pinterest. Go Pintastic Love!
If you cannot see this on your mobile device
follow this link!
Oh and BTW, don’t make it harder than it has to be. Take time to show her you love her… Valentines Day and circle a day on the calendar in two weeks and do something special again.
If it’s real, it will matter!
The book of Ecclesiastes is written to be a religious cattle prod — a harsh reminder that God can’t be put in a box and truth can’t be reduced to simplistic slogans, bumper stickers, or trite-isms. The whole book needs to be taken as a dialogue of difference wisdom principles that brings us to the ultimate reality: reverence God and live out his will, for this is the whole purpose of being human — everything else is vanity and chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Jesus put in more positive terms:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21 NLT).
“Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35 NLT).
So, as we approach the SuperBowl and are thinking about the glory to be won, let’s remember the words of Duane Thomas, chosen SuperBowl VI MVP (long story we won’t repeat here about why it was awarded to Roger Staubach). Thomas was asked about playing in the ultimate game. His response was: “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”
Yes, fame is fleeting. What’s done today has been done before and simply forgotten. What we do will leave an imprint, make a difference, and then be lost in the shifting sands of time’s constantly changing forgetfulness.
This little YouTube video from The Voice says it well!