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From Nigel

In the red corner

By From Nigel No Comments

Historians say David would have been about 5ft to 5ft 6 inches tall.
Goliath was 6 cubits and a span (6ft 9 inches). It’s a massive mismatch.
David has a slingshot and a few stones, Goliath has a spear with a head that weighed six hundred shekels (140lbs).
I love the confidence of David who has five stones one for Goliath and the other champions, Sippai, Lahaina we know about and there is an unnamed one found in 1 Chronicles 20:5-8.

David’s battle is between worldly confidence and trust in God’s ability.
Goliath is confident and moves forward vs 41
Goliath despises David’s weakness vs 42
Goliath arrogantly curses David by his gods vs 43
Goliath is over-confident of his victory vs 44

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and 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 Samuel 17:45

Incredible….

The name the LORD of hosts occurs some 261 times in the Old Testament. God is first called the LORD of hosts in 1 Samuel 1:3
The word hosts is a translation of the Hebrew word sabaoth, meaning “armies” a reference to the angelic armies of heaven. Thus, another way of saying “LORD of hosts” is “God of the armies of heaven.

Goliath does not stand a chance, but can you see who is also with you.
No; stop for a moment. Look with your spiritual eyes who is gathered around you. Does this not remind you of:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

Paul’s question, “who is against us?”, does not mean to suggest that we have no adversaries. Romans 8: 35-36 describes all sorts of adversaries and enemies and opposition. His point is that no adversary or enemy is of any account when God is for us. Since God is for us, to use the words of vs 28 all things work for our ultimate good, even those which our enemies intend for our ultimate harm. So comforting.

I would like to go back to one moment; when Samuel anoints David.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:13

Surely one key to defeating our giants and moving forward is found in this simple statement “and the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward”

Do we need a meeting to be filled with the Spirit? No. Does the world need Christians full of the Spirit at this time? Definitely yes.

Sometimes an easy conversation between friends can have ramifications far beyond what either person expects. Such was the case in the summer of 1872 near Dublin, Ireland, when two prominent evangelists were discussing ministry. The two men were the British evangelist Henry Varley and the renowned American evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Their conversation contains one of the best-remembered quotes attributed to the life and times of Moody. The remark affected him for the rest of his life.
The morning after an all-night prayer meeting, as the two men strolled around the grounds of the mansion where the meeting had been held, Varley uttered a brief but thought-provoking statement to Moody. This is how Moody recorded it in one of his diaries:
“The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” . . . A man! Varley meant any man. Varley didn’t say he had to be educated, or brilliant, or anything else. Just a man. “Well, by the Holy Spirit in me I’ll be that man” replied Moody.

Will you be that person at this time of need? Could you spend time on your knees asking God to fill you with his Spirit for the sake of your world.

Training, hard work and discipline

By From Nigel 2 Comments

I did not get on with training, week in, week out. Running and more running, circuit training and more circuit training. I was told repeatedly that what I did on Tuesday and Thursday night would make a difference on Saturday,

Saul in the end agrees reluctantly to let David fight Goliath.

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”  1 Samuel 17:33

David though thinks differently, very differently. He believes he will be able to kill Goliath. He knows God is with him but where does this confidence come from?

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 1 Samuel 17:34-35

David had previously killed a bear and a lion. The training ground for this fight was done on hillsides at night whilst protecting sheep.

If we are to come out of these strange times into new exciting times as a church maybe it’s time to prepare and get ready.

To do that we are going to have to study the word with diligence asking God to speak from his word to us for what lies ahead, to pray and fast regularly for our nation and the church, also asking God to speak to us for what lies ahead. Can you imagine the treasure chest that would be awaiting us and the expectation that would be in our hearts?

Saul is still unconvinced, so tries to fit David up with his armour.

Then Saul clothed David with his armour. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armour. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 1 Samuel 17:38-39

I am trying like many pastors to ask, God what are you saying? What are you doing? What about the future?  I just wonder if as churches we are trying to make the armour fit. I remember the early days of the restoration movement when over and over again we looked at new wineskins, what that meant in regard to church structure.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins-and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:22

If in a few months time we start back again the same way we left off, what will we have learnt about church, being church.  I just don’t think we should look the same. (Sorry) I wonder if this delay is not a delay but a preparation for a new wineskin for God to pour out his Spirit into.

 

They all saw the same giant

By From Nigel One Comment

Sometimes on social media I stare at those puzzles where hidden in millions of spots is a number or an animal. I look at the hundreds of replies where some can see it and others can’t and wonder why some people see things and others don’t.

We are still in 1 Samuel 17. The armies of the Philistines and Israel are camped opposite each other and Goliath is shouting out his threats. They all see the same giant, hear the same threats, yet David views them differently. Everyone thought Goliath could not lose, David thought Goliath could not win.

They want to escape.

All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid.  1 Samuel 17:24

David is full of indignation.

For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26

As Christians surely God has placed us in our neighbourhoods and workplaces to look at things differently. We believe in a Sovereign God, who is in control. Our confidence and rest is found in that God is sovereign.

John Piper: There are no limits to God’s rule. This is part of what it means to be God. He is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. And in Christ, God’s awesome, sovereign providence is the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.

Yet our trust will be tested and contested.

The people encourage:

And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” 1 Samuel 17:27

His family criticises:

Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”  1 Samuel 17:28

David protests:

And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 1 Samuel 17:29

But David presses on:

And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. 1 Samuel 17:30

I can get knocked off balance by criticism or deeply destabilised by it. I can get hurt or shrink back, lose confidence, all can really happen. It can go really deep sometimes and shake me. I pray for God to hold on to me, to guide me, to teach me and I try to trust his promises.

The psalmist says, If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me Psalm 139:9-10

We can have some wonderful friends and family in this life. But even close friends and family can fail us. The Bible reveals your ultimate best friend who will never let you down. Jesus.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Joseph M Scrivener 1855

He is massive, really massive

By From Nigel 2 Comments

I remember being in the changing rooms waiting to run out to play football for my works team when someone popped their head round the dressing room door and said “have you seen the size of the centre forward?” I was 16 or 17, loss and heavy loss overtook my every thought before I had kicked a ball.

It must have been an incredible sight. The Philistine army on one mountain, Saul and the army of Israel on another mountain, beneath them a valley soon to become a blood-ridden battle ground. (1 Samuel 17:1-3) Until, a Philistine champion Goliath of Gath lays down a challenge. A challenge that would not be picked up by Saul or Jonathan his son who had previously defeated the Philistines (1 Samuel 14)

What a description:

And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armour on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders.  The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.  1 Samuel 17:4-7

I too would have run, he’s a big bloke and he is fully loaded. It is all too easy as Christians to let fear rule our lives and shape our decision making. There seems to be so much in our world that feeds fear. We are conditioned by our culture to fear, we see the problems first.

For fear to be legitimate it must be perceived as imminent and powerful.

Two of God’s attributes make him the governor over our fears. He is omnipresent (always present) and omnipotent (all powerful). To worship God is to trust in these attributes and the many others he has. These two attributes give us the perspective on anything we have to fear, even our big fully loaded Goliaths should be referenced back to these two attributes. God is with me and bigger.

Remember though we have someone ready to rob us of faith and trust.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Be careful that our minds are not running away with us, but let’s renew our minds with truth.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

John starts the chapter with these words:

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1

Jesus encourages the disciples at a time when Judas had just left them to believe or keep on believing in God. Not in a general sense but specifically in relation to His (Jesus) departure and their hope for the future. Jesus says, you can trust me with what lies ahead, and we can too.

Why don’t you spend just a few minutes saying that back to your Heavenly Father “Lord I trust you for what lies ahead”

 

Calming Influence

By From Nigel One Comment

I was listening to a description of someone recently and they described a person as having a calming influence. I thought that was a wonderful description. Do we speak fear or faith, create peace or unsettle?

We are still in 1 Samuel 16. Saul the king is tormented by an evil spirit.

Saul asks his servants for someone who will play the lyre for him, they are convinced that “you will be well” vs 16. They suggest David.

One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skilful in playing, a man of valour, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.”  1 Samuel 16:18.

Here is something for up and coming leaders to reach for and learn from. David has become skilful, he has courage, he has trained himself to defend whatever needs defending, he is discerning and speaks well, people warm to him, but most of all people notice God is with him.

They fetch David and David plays for Saul.

And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.  1 Samuel 16:23

What an impact! A refreshing calming peace.

Paul describes it in Philippians 4:7 as the peace of God that surpasses understanding (what we know and see) will guard our hearts and minds in a way that no human mind can fully comprehend.

Can I encourage us to choose to speak this to both ourselves and to others, boy do we need this in these days. Yes?

Something else Paul says about this “peace” of God is that it becomes ours when we pray (vs 6). It far surpasses and outstrips and transcends all human comprehension. The human mind can’t fully grasp it. The human hand can’t reproduce it in a factory. The human eye can’t begin to envision what it looks like. As much as we pride ourselves in our scientific and technological achievements, this peace is something that will never be reduced to merely human terms or explained by even the greatest and most brilliant minds.

It’s time to pray for each other, maybe this change in everything is God’s way of giving us an opportunity to deliberately and purposefully pray for each other.

This peace guards our “hearts” and “minds” and we definitely need that. This is protection. This is God being a refuge and a strong tower.

This is about fear not entering, kept beyond the walls.

But don’t be misled into thinking that this is a promise or guarantee for just anyone. This is not a universal promise that just anyone can lay hold of. This is a protection which comes from the peace of God that is found only in Christ Jesus. If you don’t know Christ, if he isn’t your treasure, if your faith isn’t grounded and fixed in him alone, this passage promises you nothing unless you cry out to him to be your peace.

Let me finish by encouraging you to be a calming influence.

 

Ordinary? Me?! Ordinary?!

By From Nigel 2 Comments

We have new superstars! Nurses, truck drivers delivering food. A month ago it was musicians, film stars and footballers. Strange times huh!

In 1 Samuel 15; Samuel is on the hunt for a new King. He has arrived at the house of Jesse who has 8 sons, one of which David, the youngest, is not there as he’s looking after the sheep. The 7 impressive other sons are on full display.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Can you imagine standing before the prophet and him looking into your eyes and saying no, you’re not the new King. Are all your sons here Jesse? So God chose David, the youngest, the one doing the menial tasks.

But God is not looking for extraordinary people, but for ordinary people who can do ordinary things extraordinarily well because they serve a supernatural God. He sees you not for what you are in the world’s eyes, but for what you are and can become by his grace!

The principle in evidence here is that our weakness is the opportunity for the display of His strength. Our ordinariness is the platform for his extraordinariness. Our being average is the opportunity for the display of his superlative power and glory and honour.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Isn’t the following story it? When we cut away all the religious trappings it’s about simple obedience.

Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:11-16

Paul reminds us.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Oh! There are some big beasties in the Bible. Moses, Elijah, Paul, and we all look and go huh, but over centuries it is the ordinary that God has used to display his extraordinary power. It’s the ones often looked over, the ones who can be passed by or missed that God has delighted in using. Will you offer your ordinariness to God so he can work through you?

I guess most of us are comparatively ordinary people whom the world might call nobodies, but we can be nobodies that God uses to change the course of history and advance his Kingdom. Are you an ordinary with a heart to serve your God without prominence, notice and applause? Is it your heart to say I will serve you whatever that means? Then offer up your life right now, without conditions.

Different Times

By From Nigel One Comment

We are living in days we haven’t experienced before, it’s change for us all. I never thought that I would be communicating to you all like this, it’s new and if I get bolder I will try that new fangled stuff like recording and video.

I felt God clearly speak to me about the life of David and I have been looking at the shepherd boy who became a king of whom God said

This is a man after My own heart” Acts 13:22; 1 Sam 13:14

We pick up the story in 1 Sam 15, Saul is King. The Lord spoke to his prophet Samuel

“I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night. 1 Samuel 15:11

Strong words. It was the King’s responsibility to carry out God’s word but he had not, he had only partly obeyed in his battle with the Amalekites.

He was head of the tribes of Israel and he had put the nation at risk.

The loss of a king, an unstable nation, a turning away from God. Everything was uncertain, and into change and uncertainty God speaks.

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 1 Samuel 16:1

I love that God provides for himself a king. A great reminder that we are here for Him.

We can guarantee this, at uncertain times God will speak and that God has a plan.

Maybe we need to think that on the other side of uncertainty it will not look like it did in the past. We have an opportunity to put everything we know down. We are certainly learning to do church differently.

The soon to be King David will rule differently to Saul, it will be new and exciting days for the nation of Israel.  Church, we have something very thrilling to look forward to.

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