Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Battle is the Lord's

The lesson of David and Goliath is one of the most well known accounts from the Old Testament (1 Sam. 17). It has become part of our vocabulary in every aspect of life. Yet sometimes we lose sight of the real point in the story. David has come to represent any underdog who attempts to overcome insurmountable odds. Goliath, on the other hand, represents the greater power, the obvious winner unless something previously considered impossible happens. This is our collective understanding in society, but it implies many incorrect things.David himself did not in any way believe that the odds were against him. Quite to the contrary! In fact, as his boldness suggests, he was confident of victory based upon past success (1 Sam. 17:33-37). The difference was that David was not relying on himself for the victory, and he did not believe that it was his fight. He told Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with 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 defied” (1 Sam. 17:45). As far as David was concerned, Goliath was the underdog. He was mismatched against God! He continued, “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:47). We often try to take far too much on ourselves, and in the process also take the glory. We want growth in the church, but then when it happens, we act as surprised as anybody or congratulate the preacher or the latest “get big quick” scheme that has found its way into the congregation. Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). Furthermore, it was Paul’s acceptance of God’s will and Christ’s mind in his life in which he had confidence: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me” (Phil. 4:13). Paul had confidence that doing God’s will was always the best decision, and it was that confidence that he sought to pass on to others. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).David’s confidence was in God because his heart was with God, and it was for these reasons that God was also with him (Jas. 4:8).

by Kevin Rhodes

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Quality of Humility

The rich young ruler of Matthew 19:16 had many good qualities to be admired. By reading the account we find that he was healthy, wealthy, influential, clean, humble, earnest, religious, and morally good. These are all characteristics of a great person in a society. He was good enough according to the world to be saved, but not according to Jesus. He lacked one thing and he knew it. In verse 20 he asked; “What lack I yet?” He came to Jesus to ask Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. This is a great quality of humility that we must all have, a quality of humility that would dare ask of Jesus, “what should I do to be saved?” On the day of Pentecost, this question was asked of the apostles by men who knew that they lacked something (Acts 2:37). This question was also asked by Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:6), he also knew that he lacked something. To ask this question of Jesus shows a great quality of humility that acknowledges ones deficiencies. Many today lack this quality of humility to ask the question, for two reasons: First for fear of the answer they would receive; and second, for a fear of some sacrifice they might need to make in their lives.

Just as Jesus gave the answer to this rich young ruler, so will He give us the answer today. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3). He gives us everything we need to know about life and godliness, through His Word. So then we have no excuse for not knowing what we lack in the matter of our salvation. All we need to do is read His Word and apply His teaching to our lives. God in His infinite wisdom has given us a plan of salvation by which each and everyone of us are to live and be saved. But many lack the quality of humility to ask if there is anything in our lives that we lack or that needs to be changed.

After the rich, young ruler of Matthew 19 was told what he “lacked”, he went away sorrowfully. Not because he gave up his material possessions, but because he rejected the instructions from the Lord and thus rejected his own salvation. All Jesus told him to do was to remove the physical obstacle in his life that was keeping him out of heaven. That is exactly what he is telling us today. Because of some changes that need to be made, some religious people fear this answer from the Lord: Believe (Jho. 8:24), Repent (Acts 17:30), Confess (Rom. 10:9-10), be Baptized for the remission of ones sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16), and live faithfully unto death (Rev. 2:10). Others fear the sacrifice they may need to make in their lives, they may need to give something up; “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24). We must not only have the quality of humility to ask the question of the Lord, but also have the humility to accept the divine answer. Because Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

David Harris

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Humility of Stephen

In the seventh chapter of Acts we have recorded for our profit the great sermon of Stephen, directed to the "stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51a). Stephen declared, "ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51b). Some might consider Stephen a harsh, cruel, and unloving preacher but his actions demonstrate different.

After this strong and mighty warrior of the faith preached his hear out, "they gnashed on him with their teeth" (Acts 7:54b). The people could not handle the simple yet powerful words of truth given by the Holy Spirit, and declared by Stephen! Their response, after they were "cut to the heart" (Acts 7:54a) was to immediately "stop their ears" (Acts 7:57). Why this mean brutality? Why the hatred towards this courageous defender of truth? What had Stephen done to them, besides declare the things of God? They "cast him out of the city, and stoned him" (Acts 7:58).

Some of the saddest words recorded by divine inspiration within this chapter are found in Acts 7:59, "And they stoned Stephen." They murdered this brave spiritual hero. He was a martyr for Christ and an example for all to follow. While they stoned him, Stephen cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" and "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:59-60). When he "had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:60). Although the words of Stephen were pointed directly at the sin which the people had committed, he spoke from a motive of love. Did the sermon of Stephen offend the people? Yes! The hearers chewed on him with their teeth, ran and jumped on top of him, cast him out of the city and stoned him. The lack of love and humility was not from Stephen's side, rather from the hearers upon that tragic day in history. Stephen proved his love, while the people proved that their hearts were dishonest.

Today, two thousand years later, we must ever be mindful of the words found within the book of Revelation some thirteen times, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7). Think on these things.

Brant Stubblefield