"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 7, 2016
Last week I wrote about David and Goliath. This week, I'm going to continue on with that theme, focusing particularly on giants. There are a couple different stories in the Bible regarding individuals facing giants, with two very different results.
The first story I'm going to look at is found in 1 Samuel chapter seventeen; which is the story of David and Goliath. When David came into the Israelite camp, bringing food from his father to his brothers and captain of the Army, he heard the threats and taunts that Goliath was making. This had been going on for forty days. David offered to fight this giant. He went to King Saul and said, "Don't worry about this Philistine. I'll go fight him!"
What in the world make David even think that he would have the ability to face down this 9 foot man and come out a winner?! For one thing, he had had some prior experience dealing with life-threatening situations.
When Saul told David, "Don't be ridiculous! There's no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You're only a boy, and he's been a man of war since his youth", David didn't respond in doubt. He was fully confident in his fighting abilities, although he wasn't military trained.
David persisted, "I have been taking care of my father's sheep and goats. When a lion or bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from it's mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!"
Not only did David have prior experience fighting lions and bears, which are destructive enough to kill him; he had full confidence in God. He wasn't being boastful or obnoxious or trying to be a big hero. He saw a problem, saw that no one else was willing to do anything about it, and stepped up to take care of it. He not only wasn't scared of the giant, but he was fully persuaded that God, who had rescued him from the claws of the lion and bear, was well able to rescue him from Goliath. He had no inkling of doubt that God would fight for him and protect him. That is bold confidence in our living God!!
If only we would have that same type of confidence when we face obstacles and giants in our life. If only we had that same strong faith in believing that God will always be bigger than anything that we ever have to face!
David didn't run toward Goliath saying, "Look at me and what I'm going to do!" "In your face, you big galoot!" No!! He ran towards Goliath saying, "You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven's Armies -- the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! Everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues His people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord's battle, and He will give you to us!"
After David killed Goliath, he ran over and pulled Goliath's sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines.
In Numbers chapters thirteen and fourteen we read another account of men facing giants. The Israelites had been delivered from Egyptian slavery. Now it was time for them to enter the promised land of Canaan. The Lord said to Moses, "Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes." So Moses did as the Lord commanded to him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran.
Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: "Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see." It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.
So the men left and went to explore the land. In the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them. They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs.
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel. They reported to the whole community of Israel what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land.
This was their report to Moses: "We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country -- a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendents of Anak!"
Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. "Let's go at once to take the land," he said. "We can certainly conquer it!"
But the other men who had explored the land with them disagreed. "We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!" So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites. "The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendents of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that's what they thought, too!"
The whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus or protest against Moses and Aaron. "If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness! Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn't it be better for us to return to Egypt?" Then they plotted among themselves to choose a new leader and return back to Egypt.
Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua and Caleb, tore at their clothing. They said to all the people, "The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us safely into the land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, for the Lord is with us! Don't be afraid of them!"
But the whole community began talking about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. The Lord said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe Me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you a nation greater and mightier than they are!"
Moses began to intercede on behalf of the Israelites. The Lord finally speaks and says this: "How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints against me? Yes, I have heard their complaints that they are making against me. Tell them this, 'As surely as I live, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. You will all drop dead in this wilderness. Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exception will be Caleb and Joshua. You said your children would be carried off as plunder. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised. But as for you, you will drop dead in this wilderness. And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness for forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness. Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years -- a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins."
The ten men Moses had sent to explore the land -- the ones who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report -- were struck dead with a plague before the Lord. Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.
When Moses reported the Lord's words back to the Israelites, the people were grieved. "Let's go! We realized that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the Lord has promised us."
Moses replied, "Why are you now disobeying the Lord's orders to return to the wilderness? It won't work. Do not go up into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the Lord is not with you. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord."
A very different outcome from the story of David facing his giant. David was confident in God, knowing that the battle belonged to the Lord, and He would give victory to Israel. He ran towards the giant with full faith and assurance that God would destroy the enemy of the Israelites.
On the other hand, when it came time for the Israelites to enter the land that had been promised to them by God, they allowed the reports from those ten spies cause fear in their heart. Instead of trusting that God would fulfill His promise to them and give them the land that He had said He was giving to them, they chose to believe the bad report. God led them through the wilderness to the edge of their promise, yet they refused to enter in and take the land filled with bounty and richness, and instead rebelled and complained and wished that they were back living as slaves in Egypt.
Fear of giants cause people to never obtain their promise! Looking at the size of the problems and issues and crisis and circumstances that we may face, instead of focusing on the unlimited power and strength of God, will cause us to run away in fear, instead of running towards our giant proclaiming that we come in the name of the Lord of Heaven's Armies.
Once a giant is defeated, it can never rise up to taunt us again. Once it's dead, it's dead. Satan may try to convince us that it is rising up to taunt us again, trying to cause us to shake in fear; but that is not so. We may face other giants, but never the same one, once it has been defeated. When God conquers a giant in our life, it is incapable of coming back to life. It's impossible! God will cut that giants head off, so that we can go forth in victory. Perhaps when we feel like we battle the same sin or problem over and over again, it's because we've never truly killed that giant. We may have knocked it out, but we didn't run over to it, and completely annihilate it! We didn't complete the process of making sure it was obliterated. Instead of running to it to use it's own sword against it to cut it's head off, we saw it fall, then ran away as fast as we could -- just in case it happened to get back up.
What is your response when you have a giant in your life? Do you respond like David or the Israelites? Do you run towards it in full faith and confidence in God; or do you listen to the opinion and fear of others, which in turn causes you to complain and fear and doubt God? Do we prefer slavery over freedom?
God gave the children of Israelite a promise when he delivered them from slavery. Upon them leaving Egypt, He told them that He would give them the land of Canaan. He did miracle after miracle for them. He never left or forsook them. Yet they never fully committed their hearts to believing that His promise of freedom would be fully fulfilled. They never rid themselves of the slavery mentality; never truly believed that they were strong enough to conquer giants and take the land that God had given them.
Too often we go through life with that slavery mentality; preferring that over the freedom of living as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is a song that we've been singing at our church. The chorus is just a one sentence line that is repeated twice, but there is so much power in the words. It says, "I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God!"
We don't have to fear the giants that come against us, taunting us and trying to stir up fear in our heart. We don't have to live in slavery to sin and fear and condemnation. We are a child of God!
May we each daily choose to have the mentality and faith and confidence in God that David portrayed. Let's not be whining, complaining men and women, like the Israelites, who choose to believe lies and live in fear, rather than trust and stand firm on the promises of God.
Some of the giants we have to face are obvious. They might be an jerk at school or work we need to face, or a job interview. Other times it may be more abstract. Our church has been fighting against a pile of paperwork and bureaucracy so we can begin building our new sanctuary. We have been eager to build it for almost 2 years, now. And we keep getting a little closer.
It may take hours of prayer to know which giants we should fight, and how. David used a sling, but the Israelites moving into the promised land mostly used swords (once with trumpets). Each giant we face may call for a different approach. Until we can know God well enough to feel His guidance, we don't always know how to face them. Waiting for God's word isn't the same as giving up, unless we constantly ignore God so we don't have to face the giant. Waiting can be wise and exactly what God wants.
Spinach is one of those vegetables that I grew up hating! But the only kind I had ever tried was in a can full of vinegar. As an adult, I have developed a real taste for fresh spinach.
1 stick Butter
8 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 medium Onion, finely diced
3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
2 cups Milk
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 pinch Ground Nutmeg
3 Tablespoons Butter
24 ounce package Baby Spinach
Melt 1 stick of butter in a pot. Sprinkle in flour and whisk together. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or until light golden brown. Throw in onion and garlic and stir together, cooking for another minute. Pour in milk, whisking constantly, and cook for another five minutes while you cook the spinach.
To cook spinach, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a separate pot. Add spinach in increments until all incorporated, and cook until wilted, but not soggy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Season the cream sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add spinach to the cream sauce, stirring gently to combine. Serve immediately.
This week I just want to give a testimony of thanks! Earlier this year I bought 2 pair of new glasses. A couple months ago, I couldn't find one of those pair of glasses. I looked everywhere I could think of to look... thought possibly I'd left them at the house in Lampe, but they weren't there.... had my sister check her car... checked the company car that Jon and I had driven when he worked out of town several weeks ago... had my niece, whose kids I babysit occasionally, check her house to see if I'd possibly left them there.... checked through all our luggage and in all my purses.... thoroughly checked our car and entire house numerous times.... and prayed! Those glasses were nowhere to be found!
This past week, I was dressing for the day and praying about another need that I had. I prayed, "Lord, I know that you are going to meet this particular need, and have confirmed your promise to us time and time again. If I were to ask You to confirm this to me one more time, would that seem like a lack of faith?" Later, I was standing in our bathroom and decided to look in a small drawer beside my sink one more time; even though I'd checked in there 4-5 times already for my glasses. The drawer doesn't pull out all the way, so I pulled it out as far is it would go and bent down to look inside. I put my hand inside and felt around, also. There in the back of that drawer was my glasses case with those glasses inside. Coincidence? No, it wasn't! I believe that at that exact moment when I needed confirmation and encouragement about another need, God allowed me to find the missing glasses. He truly is a good, good Father!!
There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying. - John G Lake
We love you!
Loretta & Jon