David & Goliath

five-smooth-stonesBob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I sometimes wonder why I was asked to write these blog posts. I am not a blogger, I couldn’t set one up if I had to. I don’t have any special connection with God and I am not even a good writer. But I am also glad I get to participate at Stonepoint in this way, because it gives me an opportunity to express things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. So, if you don’t mind, I would just like to say a few things today.

Can I admit something to you? This has been a really tough year for me. It seems like there has been one struggle after another, both personally and spiritually. My main emotions all year have been discouragement and depression. Now, I know as a Christian, I am not supposed to let my emotions rule me, but that is where I have been headed. Can I admit another thing? I have been living in Romans 7 and fighting sin of late. If you have read any of my previous posts lately, you know that I have truly been challenged about being a Christ follower. But I have also been struggling with sins (and I use that term purposely) lately. Sins like self-pity, wanting to please myself, fear, pride, doubt anger and lack of faith and patience. Sometimes I forget that some of these are even sins. I write them off as character traits that I need to work on. This last Friday all this came to a crisis point. I left work just totally defeated and ready to pack up and leave the ministry. I also told a good friend that I could not talk with them any longer for fear of bringing them away from their walk with the Lord. I can’t tell you how much that hurt me, and in all honesty I did not follow through with that. I know, to you this may sound like I am a little psychotic, and I am sorry. I can assure you, that is not the case. But it is a tough spiritual battle.

So, what does all this have to do with David and Goliath at Stonepoint today? Well today I got up as usual for 8:30AM service so I could do my normal greeting. It has been a wet and dreary weekend with lots of rain (I actually really like that for the most part). I arrived at church and did my greeting like I always do. The music was nice as always, and then Pastor Brandon started the message. We have been doing a series called “Jesus the True and Better” for the past five weeks. Today Pastor Brandon spoke about David and Goliath. Now, we all have heard that story before, probably so much that we just gloss over it when we read it or just skip it all together. But, in all honesty, I have never really tried to see Jesus in this story. It was just another Old Testament Bible story to me.

As I sat there listening to the message a few thoughts came to me about my life. One thing I saw was that I have been living in a lot of fear this past year. Fear of my future, fear facing surgery for my knees, fear that God is not in control of things, fear that He even cares. Today, Pastor Brandon brought out this same thing about fear in the army of Israel from I Samuel 17. Here was this giant of a man in the Philistine army harassing the Israeli army day after day. He taunted the soldiers and King Saul to send out one man to face him in battle. The winner would win the war for his side and the loser would be their servants. There was no one man in the army willing to face Goliath.  I saw at this point that Israel was fearful of the Philistines just as we Christians are against Satan today. As I started to soak things in, I realized I was just giving in to doubt and fear. Have you been asking God, where He is right now? I have! I have asked God for specific answers to prayer for the universal church, for persecuted Christians, for myself, for the ministry and for Stonepoint. Sadly, I see things just getting worse. Thus comes the depression and discouragement.

But today I saw a little glimmer of hope in this study. Here are a few examples:

1. Daniel was the least known of his family. He was not in the army, and his brothers even asked him why he had come to them. Jesus too, the King of kings, was not recognized by the Jews upon his arrival. Isaiah 53 gives us a clear picture of this when it says, “…He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” (Isaiah 53:2). Jesus had no earthly credentials that would make us notice Him. Yet, He was the King of kings who came to save His people.

2. Goliath was a picture of Satan in this passage as David was a picture of Christ. Goliath harassed the Israeli army and caused them to shrink back in fear. We sometimes forget we have an enemy and he is very powerful. But we cannot shrink back in fear. What did David do when the Philistine came toward the battle line? Verse 48 says that as Goliath came toward David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. David didn’t run. He attacked!! This spoke volumes. Sometimes I think that Satan is winning today. So instead of standing up to him I shrink back. David did not do this, but met his enemy head on, and defeated him with a slingshot. Jesus met Satan head on and defeated him at the Cross. Do we believe that? The way I live sometimes, I wonder if I do. Sure, intellectually I know this, but in my heart, where it counts, do I really believe? Oh, God!! I believe, forgive me in my unbelief, as the scripture says.

I could go on, but let me stop here. Maybe you aren’t having the struggles I have mentioned. If so, I praise God for that! But if you are like me, a weak, struggling Christ follower wannabe, take hope. Jesus hasn’t abandoned us. I urge you to keep following the Lord and not come to the place of quitting like I almost did last Friday. Yes, we have an enemy and he is strong. But we have a King and He is stronger. We cannot live the Christian life with out faith, and we cannot have faith without the Word of God. Let’s be in God’s Word and ask the Spirit to reveal it to us in a new way. Yes, there will be hard times ahead. Yes, we will have reason to fear, doubt and run. But let’s not do that. Let’s be that man (or woman) that Israel needed to face Goliath. One thing I would suggest is that you take time today and just ask God, through the Holy Spirit to reveal sin in your life. I did this today and the Spirit revealed several things, some of which I mentioned above. Then confess them to the Lord and claim 1 John 1:9 by faith. He is faithful and will forgive our sin. God is just waiting for us to come to Him. One more thing, our future is in His hands, not ours. He will be here and will go through all things we face with us. May God strengthen us to trust Him and to walk with Him by faith. God bless you!

A Life of Works or A Life of Grace

grace

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

 
This has been on my mind for awhile, so I thought I would try to put it into words. Several things happened this week that made me think this through. First, I heard a speech by one of our students. She quoted Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Another thought came to me this morning at Stonepoint Church. Pastor Brandon began a new series that tells stories of Old Testament characters and how they point to Christ. Today, being the first in the series was about the first Adam (Adam in the garden) pointing to the second Adam (Jesus Christ).

Please bear with me while I give you a little background using some thoughts from my life (sorry for doing this, but Lord willing, it will come together). I was raised in a non-Christian family. I was the second child (I guess they are supposed to try harder). I grew up in an atmosphere of always thinking I needed to do the right things and be the right child to earn my parents love. I can’t remember the word LOVE ever being used in our family while I was growing up (although it might have been). I learned early on, that if I did things that my parents approved of, they seemed pleased and if I didn’t, they would show their disapproval. My life of guilt and shame (it seemed like it was difficult to please my parents) went on until I left home at the age of 18.

Then, just before my 24th birthday the Lord graciously saved me. It was wonderful (even I didn’t even own a Bible at that time and knew nothing) and I believed that Jesus paid for my sins and that He loved me, sin and all. But soon after, I heard the word: Sanctification, which I came to know as meaning, growing in Christ and the Christian faith. Unfortunately, I took that to mean I had to work to please God and I just continued with what I had learned growing up, and was soon back into my life of works, thinking that God could only truly love me if I pleased Him. The more I tried, the worse things got. There was no way I could ever please God apart from faith and trusting Him. I prayed often asking God how He could have anything to do with me since I was so weak in my faith and such a sinner. I lived that way for several years.

So here is the point I am trying to make. If you are one like me who is somewhat works orientated (another word for this is “legalist”); if you are living like this I urge you to stop. I can speak from firsthand knowledge on this. As we learned at church today, Adam, the first Adam had a perfect environment and had dominion over all animals and plants. There was one test, one prohibition, “do not eat from the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil.” God really didn’t explain why He had this test. He just told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree.

Man failed the test and sin entered the world. Then came Jesus Christ, the second Adam. Romans 5:15 says, “but the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to many.” I won’t go into everything this means, but here is what it means to me. BECAUSE OF JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS, WHEN GOD LOOKS AT US, HE SEES US AS RIGHTEOUS IN SPITE OF OURSELVES AND OUR SIN.

God wants us to trust Him and follow Him from our hearts, not because we need to earn His favor or make God love us. All the works and do’s and don’ts we make up for ourselves, will not make God love us any more than He already does. Our works for God need to be out of a pure motive of our love for Him and not out of a way to try to make God love us. Do we really trust God in this? Do we believe He really loves us in spite of our sins and weaknesses? Satan is an accuser and a deceiver. Let’s not be deceived by Him. Let’s believe God when He says through Paul the Apostle when He says: nothing will be able separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. See Romans 8:38-39.