Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 12 September 2022:
1 Samuel 17, 18 — Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch.
Some have questioned why David chose five stones to kill Goliath instead of just one — does this suggest that David lacked the faith to believe God would kill Goliath with just one stone? In no way did David demonstrate a lack of faith, quite the contrary; David demonstrated a willingness and readiness to fight a long fight. David did not presume of God that He would give David an easy victory, though David trusted God with the victory. Also, David may have recognized that the battle wouldn’t be won simply by defeating the first giant. Jumping ahead in our readings, 2 Samuel 21:22 tells the rest of the story: “These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.” What 1 Samuel doesn’t reveal yet is that there were four other giants, family members of Goliath. Not only was David facing Goliath, but he knew that when he picked a fight with this giant, he was picking a fight with four others too. David knew that when he stood up to Goliath, his life would never be the same and that the fight to bring glory to God would never end. There was no turning back; David was all in. Are you willing to face the giants for God even if it means your life will never be the same?
1 Samuel 17:28 — I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.
David’s oldest brother may seem unfair in his judgement, demonstrating mere sibling rivalry; but perhaps he saw in David a dangerous pride that would come back to haunt David later in life. People often have a fatal flaw in life that, if not checked, may grow to be disastrous. Often individuals are blind to their own flaws which are very apparent to others. You cannot change what you cannot see or refuse to see in yourself. You cannot fix what you aren’t willing to be honest about. Pray that God will humble your spirit enough to be truly introspective. Remember too, that advice or critique always comes from other imperfect people, but even imperfect people can communicate something you need to hear. Listen, weigh others’ opinions humbly against the word of God and pay attention to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
1 Samuel 17:37 — The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.
God used life events to prepare David for this significant assignment. The challenge you are going through today is preparing you for greater things. David’s faith in God came from real-world experiences. Faith is strengthened when it is used and tested. The more you are willing to walk in faith, the more your faith will be validated and the more you will grow in faith. If you are not willing to step out in faith, you will stay right where you are. Be faithful with today, and tomorrow will be a better day.
1 Samuel 17:39 — I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.
You cannot serve God by trying to be something you are not, and what works for others may not be right for you. God has equipped you uniquely. Be who God created you to be, and do what God has called you to do in the unique way He has called you to do it. Often, when you are leading the race, you are running alone. Keep running in such a way as to win the prize.
1 Samuel 17:42-44 — Others will mock your faith. The unseen reality from which you are making your decisions is unreal to them, and so your actions will make no sense to them. Don’t let their blindness distract you from your vision.
1 Samuel 17:46, 47 — I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.
David gave all credit for the miraculous victory to God rather than proclaiming His talent, skill, and courage, though God had given him all these things. God wants the world to see His power, not yours. We must not attempt to share any glory with God. As an ambassador for Christ, don’t let the world proclaim your name in any way, only the Name of Jesus.
1 Samuel 17:46, 47 — David’s faith caused him to consider the outcome as already determined, a done deal, without doubt. This is true faith and hope. Faith is trusting God at the moment of decision; hope is trusting God with the future.
1 Samuel 17:51, 52 — The Philistines, who put their hope in a man, were morally defeated when their hope proved futile. In an instant they went from a mighty army to a panicked mob.
Titus 2:1, 10 — Teach what accords with sound doctrine…. adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
Titus 2 begins and ends with the charge to instruct others in accordance with sound doctrine – “Teach what accords with sound doctrine…. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority.” (Titus 1, 15) However, the content between these two bookend directives deals almost exclusively with behavior – “be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, steadfastness…. Be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine… pure… submissive…. a model of good works… show integrity, dignity and sound speech… having nothing to do with evil… well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, showing all good faith.” Notice that in this very short chapter of only fifteen verses, self-control is mentioned four times.
The Bible demands of teachers to uphold sound doctrine but also have integrity, that they walk their talk. In order to teach the doctrine of God our Savior, which we have all been called to do in some capacity, we must first, “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior…. [showing ourselves] in all respects to be [models] of good works.” (Titus 2:10, 7)
“Do not let your adorning be external… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart.” (1 Peter 3:3, 4) Titus 2 primarily addresses our behavior, but understand that Paul’s real focus is the heart from which the behavior emanates. Paul isn’t encouraging Christians to “act” good as hypocrites do (the word hypocrite comes from the Greek word for stage actor) or to “clean the outside of the cup” as the Pharisees did. (Matthew 23:25, 26) Paul is encouraging Christians to live as “new creations” and to reveal the truth of the transformational power of the Gospel through their conduct which is the natural fruit of the Spirit of God within them – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
- Colossians 3:10-17 – [You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Paul says, “adorn” the doctrine and then he reiterates the doctrine – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14) Can people clearly see the evidence of your salvation through your godly life, and are you proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to all around you in word and in deed?
Titus 2:7-8 – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Words and deeds go hand-in-hand and are both requirements of our calling. You must walk your talk. Some Christians talk without integrity, nullifying their message. Some Christians convince themselves that all they have to do is demonstrate goodness, without words, to be a good witness to others. However, the Bible is clear, we have to proclaim the truth BOTH in word and deed. People will judge your words by what they see in your life, and they will judge your good deeds by what you say. When others admire your lifestyle, that is your chance to proclaim Jesus rather than give glory to yourself.
Titus 2:11-15 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
God gives you grace through Jesus not just so that when you die you can go to Heaven and not so that you can continue to live your life as you please with the comfort of knowing that your sins won’t be held against you. Grace opens the door to a life of discipleship, sanctification, and witness on earth, a chance to grow closer and closer to Jesus in obedience and purity, to glorify Him on earth through how we live, and to make disciples among the nations. Grace calls us to be “zealous for good works.” Grace gives us the authority to boldly “declare these things; exhort and rebuke.” Don’t conceal your faith as a chameleon Christian or go along to get along. “Let no one disregard you.” Make sure everyone knows exactly why you are so different – Jesus is your life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 September 2022: Today, “teach what accords with sound doctrine…. [and] adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Be the truth you want others to believe. Let them see in you the proof of what you proclaim. Someone once said, never take advice from someone you wouldn’t want to trade places with. However, we don’t want people to want to be like us, we want people to be like Christ, just as we want to be the image of Christ. Leaders know the way and show the way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Know Jesus and show Jesus. Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Pray that you will be able to say the same.