Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
The story’s told about a little boy who was afraid of the dark. One night his mother asked him to go out on the back porch and get the mop, but he didn’t want to go because he was afraid. She said, “Haven’t I always told you there’s nothing to be afraid of in the darkness?” He said, “Yes, Mom, but please don’t make me go out and get that mop.” She replied, “Son, don’t you know that Jesus is always with you? Don’t you know that you are never alone? Don’t you know that you have nothing to be afraid of?” He replied, “Yes, Mom.” So she said, “All right, go out and get the mop.” He opened the back door about two inches, stuck his hand out, and whimpered, “Jesus, would You please hand me that mop?” When you attempt something you’ve never done before, it’s normal to feel afraid. When you’re asked to do a job for which you feel unqualified, it’s normal to feel afraid. When you attempt something you’ve failed at previously, it’s normal to feel afraid. But it’s in doing the thing you fear to do that you grow, and your confidence in God grows. Today God is saying to you: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” God stays with you wherever you go. That should motivate you to go anywhere He tells you to go. The truth is that when God says go, He’s not sending you somewhere, He’s taking you somewhere.
Soul food: 2 Chr 7:12-16; Matt 6:5-15; Luke 18:1-8
Matthew 2:4 NIV
These people do not come out well in the Christmas story. These are the good guys; they are the keepers of the law, the teachers. These are God’s people up against an evil king. And sadly they don’t even put up a fight. The sin that the religious authorities commit is to tell Herod where the Messiah is to be born. They must have known that, when faced with a threat, Herod shifted into ‘psycho’ mode and the blood flowed. Yet in Luke’s description of their meeting we see no hint of the religious authorities having any desire to protect their potential Messiah: no hiding of the key text. Instead, they simply respond to the king’s request with a submissive, ‘It’s Bethlehem in Judea, your Majesty.’ To make matters worse they then quote Micah 5:2 with its statement that the child born there will not simply be Messiah, but ruler over Israel. Anything more inclined to trigger an outbreak of pre-emptive murderous rage is hard to imagine. The good that the religious authorities omit is to find the Messiah and worship Him themselves. There is no mention in the Gospels that the religious world bothered to take the five-mile trip south to Bethlehem. Given that so many of us approaching this Christmas season fit firmly in the category of ‘religious people’ we really need to ask what went wrong here. I suggest it comes down to fear. The religious authorities probably supplied the right answer to Herod because they feared for their lives. We live in a culture where it has become ‘popular’ to be anti-Christian, so it’s very tempting to keep quiet about Christ at Christmas. Let’s not be afraid of fear. Let us stand up for our faith.
Job 15-17; Luke 1:39-56; Ps 12; Ecc 9:10-12
1 Samuel 17:40 NLT
In David’s day they fought “by representation.” One man would fight for the nation as a whole, and the country of the losing warrior became subservient to the country of the conquering warrior. The upside is obvious, isn’t it? Everybody didn’t have to die! So David versus Goliath was really Israel against the Philistines. It was a one-on-one contest: winner take all. We’re familiar with David’s victory over the giant with faith, a stone, and a slingshot. Yet Scripture tells us he picked up not one, but “five smooth stones.” Why? It wasn’t a lack of faith – he knew that Goliath had four brothers. Observe: (1) Giant-killers realize that their giant represents greater issues. A giant never stands alone; behind him lie his causes. Overeating, addiction, abuse, and anger are all driven and supported by other issues. Somewhere behind the obvious giant are his supportive brothers – pain, guilt, loss, and shame. David was prepared with five stones – one for Goliath and one for each of his four brothers. What lies behind your giant? With God’s help you can conquer both the giant and his support team. (2) Giant-killers are not overwhelmed by the challenges. Never allow your fears to overwhelm your faith. The Bible says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). Fear will feed on the failures of the past, but you can’t allow yesterday’s failure to overwhelm today’s faith. So take your failings; list them on a piece of paper and boldly print at the top of the page: “Things I don’t need to try again! Lesson learned.”
Soul food: Dan 1:3-21; Dan 3:7-30; Dan 5:10-12; Dan 9:1-19
1 Samuel 17:50 NIV
1 Samuel 17 is the backdrop for the story of David and Goliath. The shepherd slays the warrior. The boy conquers the giant. God gives David victory over his giant, to inspire us to confront our own giants. Giants can be tangible or intangible: the things we can’t overcome because, gripped by fear, we think we can’t. They can also be seemingly unattainable goals, unfinished projects, or unfulfilled dreams. A giant is anything or anybody keeping us from being or doing what God wants us to be or do. Giants can be internal or external, real or imagined, physical or emotional. A giant could be an attitude, a habit, a belief, a philosophy, or a memory. It could be a person who stands between us and God; between who we are and who God wants us to be; between where we are and where God wants us to go; between what we believe and what God wants us to believe. Giants have one goal – to stop our progress and prevent us from reaching our destiny. But giant-killers see victory in the shadow of defeat. They perceive every fight as a test where the challenge is to turn a negative into a positive. Conflict is accepted and resistance is expected. To them conflict is growth, and facing an enemy is what happens before we get to advance. Giants can expose our hidden strengths, help us measure our growth, and feed our confidence in God. Giant-killers see opportunity in opposition, potential in problems, and victory in the shadow of defeat. And with God’s help we can become a giant-killer.
Rom 12-14; John 11:1-16; Ps 105:1-15; Prov 30:1-4
1 Samuel 17:50 TLV
First Samuel chapter 17 is the backdrop for the story of David and Goliath. The shepherd slays the warrior. The boy conquers the giant. God gives David victory over his giant, to inspire us to confront our own giants. Giants can be tangible or intangible: the things we can’t overcome because, seduced by fear, we think we can’t. They can also be unattainable goals, unfinished projects, or unfulfilled dreams – the “loose ends” of life that keep us mired in mediocrity. A giant is anything or anybody keeping you from being or doing what God wants you to be or do. Giants can be internal or external, real or imagined, physical or emotional. A giant could be an attitude, a habit, a belief, a philosophy, or a memory. It could be a person who stands between you and God; between who you are and who God wants you to be; between where you are and where God wants you to go; between what you believe and what God wants you to believe. Giants have one goal – to stop your progress and prevent you from reaching your destiny. But giant-killers see victory in the shadow of defeat! They perceive every fight as a test where the challenge is to turn a negative into a positive. Conflict is accepted and resistance is expected. To them conflict is growth, and overcoming is the prerequisite to promotion. Giants can expose our hidden strengths, be a measuring stick for our growth, and feed our confidence in God. Giant-killers see opportunity in opposition, potential in problems, and victory in the shadow of defeat. And with God’s help you can become a giant-killer.
Soul food: Rom 12-14; John 11:1-16; Ps 105:1-15; Prov 30:1-4