Archive for July, 2009

God can give until we are full.

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

God can give until we are full John 6-1-15temptation

 

Have an actor play a person that appears to be dying of thirst screaming out ‘water! I need water.’  Finally, after he has gone to most people, another actor gets up and brings a glass of water to the person.  The one dying of thirst says thanks and instead of drinking the water, he pulls out a comb and dips it in the water and combs his hair.

Wow! What happened there?  The young man was dying of thirst; he needed water.  But what did he do…he chose to use the water for what he wanted, a nice hair do, and not for what he needed… to save his life.  Can you imagine what happened soon after he fulfilled his want to have nice hair?  Yes, he would have only been satisfied for a short time.  Very soon he would have become thirsty again.  He chose to use the water for what he wanted, but not for what he needed.

This little play made me realize something; we can always get what we want, but we can never get what we need.  (actor’s name) thought he had satisfied his want.  He got the water he wanted; his hair was straightened…but it wouldn’t have lasted; his want never filled his need.  How often do you find the thrill of the catch, the getting of what we want, very quickly leaves us empty inside?  It isn’t long and we begin to feel a need for something more.  Whatever it is for you, and I perhaps I can put it crudely…money, sex, authority, respect, love, even friendship, no matter how much we get of what we want, it never truly fills our need.

Funny isn’t it!  You would think if we were to satisfy our wants, our needs would be met.  But it is never the case.  We only want all the more to try and fill our need.  It wouldn’t matter how many times (name of actor) dipped his comb in the water to satisfy his want, his actual need…that of thirst, would never be met.  While simplistically put, your life is the same as that man’s pursuit for water; we constantly get what we what, but never get what we need.  Have you ever heard of someone’s life being totally transformed and made complete by something they bought or acquired?

The trick that convinces us we can find a purposeful and fulfilling life by chasing our wants, is as old as the trickster himself; the Devil.  Jesus’ first temptation was exactly this. After spending forty days in the wilderness without food, ‘The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Jesus could have very quickly satisfied his want.  He could have very easily changed the rock into bread, ate and be filled.  But in doing so, his wants may have been met, but the need…not his, but the need of the whole of humanity, the need for a saviour to redeem us from sin and death, would never be met.

Jesus replies ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’  He knows needs are not met by fulfilling wants; Jesus ain’t going to wet his hair with precious water!  Only God can fill needs.

In the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 Jesus asks Phillip ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’  5000 men, plus women and children…perhaps 12-13,000 people, all gathered before Jesus, and he asks Phillip to solve the need!  Impossibility infers Phillip saying ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’  Phillip could fill his own want with a bit of money, but not the needs of all the people. No human could possibly fulfil the needs of such a large crowd.  Andrew finds a boy with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, but quickly adds ‘but how far will they go among so many?’  He could have met his want, and perhaps the wants of one of two others, but the need of the crowd would have still been unresolved. 

Again, Jesus question to the disciples makes us realize ‘we can always get what we want, but we can never get what we need.’

No earthly means, not human effort, no bakery could fill such a need on the spot.  Only God could fill a need like that.   Only Jesus could satisfy so many people, and he does.  He takes the five loaves and two fish, give thanks to his Father for them, and by a miracle, distributes enough bread and fish that 12 baskets of bread are left. Jesus demonstrates that he has the power, the will, and the ability to fulfil the needs of people.

In a way, Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 points to and uncovers another need.  Our dire need; the dire need of all people…to break the chains of sin, of death and of the devil that keep us locked up in constant fear and uncertainty; the fear that cause us to be angry with God. Why did my life turn out so bad?  Why did my marriage not work?  Why do I feel so low some days?  Why is it that I do everything morally right, yet I don’t feel worthy to go to heaven? These questions stem from the chains that bind us.  They flow out of our deepest need to be free, to be the person God created us to be and to live the life we know God wanted for us.

Sure, we can get all we want, just look at all the brochures, but we can never get what we need.  A rich young ruler, who had acquired all he wanted, came to Jesus and asked ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus response?…Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were amazed, and said “Who then can be saved?”

Here is our need, the reality ‘not one of us can be saved, no mater how much we want to.’  This is a need where our wants don’t count.  As he did in asking Phillip to feed the 5000, in this story, Jesus asks the man something that is impossible for him.  We can never do enough to get to heaven, because God always expects perfection.  Go home today and read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, where Jesus really gives us the rub!  Its impossible for us to get our need!

Jesus’ answer to our need for salvation is the same as when he fed the 5000 and the same answer he gave to the disciple’s question, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Our need for salvation; the breaking of the chain that binds us in bondage is broken in Jesus death and resurrection.  He paid our dept.  Fulfilled the law that demanded ‘we die for our sin’, by dying in our place.  He rose from the grave to live forever.  In Jesus, death as been overcome and our need met.  The good news is that we are given this victory over sin and death by trusting that Jesus has done this for us. 

Your need for salvation is met and your questions about life are answered in Jesus.  He is the bread given to us to meet our need.  Jesus clearly says this right after feeding the 5000, and I believe what Jesus says here interprets the miracle. ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

We can always get what we want, but we can never get what we need.  But it can be given to us!  And it has.  All our needs are met in Jesus, who now feeds far more than 5000 and is now feeding you; his body…the bread of eternal life .  Amen

From the outside in.

Friday, July 17th, 2009

 

ALZHEIMERS’ EYE TEST   

Count every ‘ ‘ in the following text: 

FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC  STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS… 

(SEE BELOW) lepper
 

 

HOW MANY ? 
WRONG, THERE ARE 
6 — no joke. 
READ IT AGAIN ! 

   It is incredible how easily we are tricked into thinking what we see and experience first up is the real, genuine, fair dinkum thing.  Who would have guessed our judgments can be so far from the truth.  Sometimes even what we hear is not what was said in reality.    

Just from these few examples, it is clear that first impressions cannot always be trusted.  Jesus was, and still is, the most misunderstood man in history.  Even in his day, the Jews judged him by their first impressions.  Those who had met Jesus in the synagogue said ‘He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”   At first impression, Jesus’ own disciples thought they knew him, until they were shocked by Jesus’ calming of the storm saying ‘Who is this even the wind and the waves obey him?’  

Mark records how Jesus and the disciples travelled in a boat across the lake in search of a peaceful place.  While on their journey, many people recognized it was Jesus and raced ahead of him.  On their way they called out many more from the towns around the shore line to come and see him.  Did those who recognized Jesus, really know who he was?  Did they hold the correct doctrinal view of Jesus?  Did those running so desperately, carrying the sick, leading the blind and lame, hold to a clear understanding of who he was? Did they know he was the messiah, the ‘Christ’? (ask confirmees what that means)

If they did, if they understood Jesus to be more than just a healer or prophet, but the messiah, true man, true God and held all the right doctrinal confessions, Jesus would have no need to ‘have compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.’  Their first impressions about Jesus, their emotions and gut feelings about him were not enough to reveal the truth. Many in the crowds gathered around him, came only urged on by first impressions; they ran because they recognised Jesus, they ran because they wanted to be healed and they gathered because they saw that Jesus had the power to do it.    

Perhaps their first impressions were mostly wrong; however, Jesus used their weakness as the impetus to teach them about the kingdom of God, as Mark records ‘he then began to teach them many things.’

Jesus never turned anyone away because they had the wrong impression of him or gathered around him for the wrong reasons.   Remember those pictures I showed you, where you only get a fuller understanding of them after spending time looking at them.  Jesus drew people into a deeper relationship with him by spending time with them ‘teaching them about the kingdom of God’.  Jesus rewarded all who came to him seeking his compassion and healing by opening to them ‘the kingdom of God’ by the power of his Spirit filled, life giving word.  He changed them from a wrong belief into strong belief.

Are you someone who wants a deeper knowledge of Jesus?  Want to move on from your first impressions of Jesus or feel you need a stronger belief in him?  Jesus will never turn you away.  He is always present with compassion to bring you into a deeper relationship and knowledge of him through the power of his word.  Yet its so easy to think, ‘I have already heard all Jesus has to say.  I heard him in Sunday school.  I heard his word in confirmation and at youth camps and in church every Sunday.’  It is sometimes even tempting to think ‘I know all there is to hear, of the cross, how he died and rose again for my sin.  The message will never change’.  This is a wrong belief about Jesus.  

This leads undoubtedly to thinking there must be more needed, than Jesus’ word, to improve my Christian faith?  Like when we first read the sentence, we were sure there were no more ‘F’s’, we are sure that there is no more to Jesus’ word.  It is now up to us to make the relationship deeper; up to us to ignite the passion in our heart.  The missing piece of the jigsaw of spiritual growth is found in our personal spirituality. 

Spirituality is the new buzz word in the church for gaining a deeper understanding of Jesus.  Its about exploring the big changes God wants in our life.  Its about finding our passionate heart; one that is on fire for Jesus; its about a heart that pumps love for God and for others.  Its about changing ourselves through fervent prayer and strict obedience to Jesus commands.  A meaningful faith is grown and nurtured through inner personal development.  How?  Well there is a plethora of books on this.  From eating what Jesus did, to doing what Jesus would do.  But are these personal inner spiritual improvement methods in line with Jesus’ earthly ministry?  How did Jesus change people from a wrong belief about him to a strong belief about him? And how does he today continue to grow you and me into a closer relationship with him? 

Everywhere Jesus went, there were large crowds gathered around him, like sheep without a shepherd following Jesus everywhere he went and listening intently to what he had to say.  St Matthew alone lists 15 separate incidents of crowds gathering around Jesus to hear what he had to say.  Even the Pharisees saw the crowds and became jealous saying “Look how the whole world has gone after him!”   The Pharisees where jealous because the people no longer listening to them about spiritual technics to be closer to God, but were turning to Jesus.  No longer where the ‘sheep’ of Israel listening to the ‘blind guides’, as Jesus once called them, on the ‘how too guide’ of becoming more religious through personal spiritual development.  

Instead, crowds of people went to the source of the Spirit, the source of truth…Jesus and his word on the kingdom of God, as he said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’  His word remains true for you and me today.  Leave the books about the kingdom and go the source of the kingdom; Jesus and his good news of salvation.  He is still the only true source of spirituality.  The word of God is the only power we have available to change us from wrong belief into strong belief.  And that word of good news is written in John 5:24  “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.’  By the power of this good news, that Jesus is the Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation we are brought to faith in Jesus.

Deeper knowledge of him and a closer relationship with him come from the outside in, not the other way around, as many believe.  The good news is that our spirituality, our relationship, our faith in Jesus, and our growth in our faith come from the very words and gospel of Jesus, as we hear it proclaimed and as we read it and study it. 

Listen to what Jesus says in John 6:63 ‘The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.’ And as Paul writes, ‘faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.’  The crowds gathered around Jesus to be transformed by his proclaiming of the kingdom of God.  As we gather at church, we are now the crowds gathered around Jesus who is really present proclaiming the kingdom of God in word and in the sacrament of Holy Communion, to create faith in you and transform you from the outside in.

The word and the sacraments (hold and show) are like the pictures I showed earlier.  On first impressions, they just look like normal worldly things, but Jesus never turned anyone away because they had the wrong impression of him or gathered around him for the wrong reasons.   Jesus welcomes you into a deeper relationship with him by spending time with him in the word.  By partaking of his word, both spoken and in the sacrament, Jesus changes you to see, by the eyes of faith, that he is truly present to give you life and salvation; to change you from wrong belief into strong belief.  Amen

The message that brings Life.

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

The message that brings life Ephesians 1:3-14

 

There was a Scottish painter named  Paddy MacGregor who was verpaintingy interested in making a penny where he could, so he often thinned down his paint to make it go a wee bit further.

As it happened, he got away with this for some time, but eventually the Lutheran’s decided to do a big restoration job on the outside of one of their biggest buildings..
Paddy put in a bid, and, because his price was so low, and Lutherans are always looking for a bargain, he got the job.
So he set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with water.

 Well, Paddy was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the church and knocking Paddy clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint..

Paddy was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he got down on his knees and cried:
“Oh, God, Oh God, forgive me; what should I do?”
And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke..
“Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!”

 As funny as this is, there is still a serious side to Paddy’s tragic tale.  The punch line paraphrases the words of John the Baptist to the Pharisees prior to his beheading ‘repent, for the kingdom of God is near…produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’  We can clearly see why God thundered down wrath upon poor Paddy.  But John called for the repentance of the holiest men in Israel. 

 You couldn’t get a more righteous, more rigorous, more devout followers of the Torah, the books of the law, than the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Even Jesus knew their devotion to God, saying ‘For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’  Even so, he still condemned them saying ‘you white washed tombstones!  On the outside you present yourself to be holy and righteous, yet on the inside you are rotten.’

 What can Jesus and John see was wrong, that others couldn’t? How can God call good people to repentance?  Which is closely connected with this next question ‘how can a loving God, condemn good people to hell?

 In our way of thinking, we need to be acting like Paddy, actually sinning in some way, before God can call us to repentance.  And only axe murderers and child killers should go to hell, good people shouldn’t.  Have you thought this sort of thing yourself?  But John’s call for repentance to all people, especially to the most religious and good people of all, blows away any idea that God is happy with good people!

 If God is not happy with the efforts of the Pharisees, how happy is he with you and me?  Is being a good, moral Christian, following the example of Jesus to the letter good enough for God?  Rolly Stahl last week spoke about Christian integrity.  Christian integrity is how we concern ourselves, in thought, word and deed when we are alone.  Do we act and think differently when alone compared to when we are with other Christians? 

 Do we act differently from when we are at church? Could you or I invite God into every part of our lives?  Not one of us would want to say yes, to that!  And if you think you could, well you would claim to be without sin.  St John says ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’    So we would have to repent anyway!

 If God is not happy with the Pharisees and he is not happy with me…who is he happy with!   Right after John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus, God spoke these words “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’  Only Jesus, God’s Son is pleasing to God.  Only to Jesus can God say ‘yes, I am happy.’  And he said it again at Jesus’ transfiguration ‘This is my Son with whom I love; with him I am well pleased, listen to him.’ That has to mean something to us as followers of Jesus, that God is only happy with his Son.  It must have a direct connection with John the Baptist’s call to good people ‘repent, repent and sin no more?’ 

 John’s call to repentance, this apparent contradiction of calling what we see as ‘saints’, ‘sinners’, is to show that our goodness is not good enough for God.  John clearly distinguishes our goodness from the goodness God requires, by calling good people bad and Jesus, the bad person in the sight the Jews, good, saying ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’  Jesus is the only one who is good enough to take our sins away; not us.

 Luther put it this way ‘there are two forms of being good.  One that avails only before people and is helpful and pleasing only to people; such as giving money to the poor, serving the sick, giving offerings to God and the like.  Then there is the goodness that avails before God and this goodness that is pleasing in his sight takes a far higher price than what we can offer.  Here we must have Christ to bless us and save us.  Here we must have faith in Jesus who gives us his goodness and makes us pleasing to God’…in fact by faith, we are, together with Jesus, sons of God and thus…pleasing to him!

 Paul’s gospel, his message of the cross is all about revealing God’s plan of making us good and pleasing in his sight through faith in his Son’s death on the cross.  He writes ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins  God is the one who makes us good, by looking at his Son, and not us. 

 By faith in Jesus we die to being good ourselves and let Christ be good for us. As St Pauls says in Galatians ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’

 We are pleasing to God when we believe we are not.  And we are pleasing to God when we believe that Jesus is the only one who is good and we are not!  Sounds crazy!  I’ll say it again ‘We are pleasing to God when we believe we are not.  And we are pleasing to God when we believe that Jesus is the only one who is good and we are not!’

  This is the good news. We do not become good people by doing good things.  It is the other way around.  God makes us good for the sake of his Son’s suffering and death; ‘In him we are blameless and holy’.  John the Baptist’s call for repentance of good people is very useful for us to know; for it comforts our conscience in times of doubt or when the devil says ‘you are not good enough to go to heaven.’  We learn to separate the goodness of faith in Jesus, very far from the goodness of our works.

 Where do we turn in time of crisis, when we feel like a ‘sinner’ unworthy of God’s grace?  The only place to find relief is in the wounds of Christ and the promise that his blood cleanses us from all sin.  A story from Bo Giertz novel ‘Hammer of God’ illustrates this well.  In this story, Frans, a man known for his good deeds and for being a committed Christian, lies dying. 

 As often happens with a person on the edge of death, Frans’ mind wonders back to the days before his conversion.  Drifting in deliriousness, the dying man utters words of an oath and froths on about drinking and a fellow who had cheated him.  Disturbed by the rude ramblings of her father, Lena exclaims ‘You are thinking about Jesus are you not, father?’  Frans replies ‘I am not able to Lena, I can’t think any longer.  But I know that Jesus is thinking of me.’

 That man died a Christian death.  The gospel is not about our ability to think of Christ but about what Christ thinks of us… Christ a friend of sinners is a friend indeed and a brother worth believing in.   Amen.

Trusting Gods Timing.(Rolly Stahl)

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

IWVLC Worship Series: A Person after God’s Heart (David)                                                Pr Rolly Stahl 28.6.2009

#3.Trusting God’s Timing

                                                                                             1 Sam 18:6-16,       1 Sam 24:1-12,       1 Sam 26:1-12300px-Wall_clock

We’re in week 3 of our current series: A Person after God’s Heart, where we’re following how David went from shepherd boy to king. In week one, we marveled at God’s surprising choice to make David king.  The Lord told Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse as a successor to the blatantly disobedient King Saul.  God chose the youngest of 8 sons, a shepherd boy named David.  Although the “runt” of his family, when God looked into David’s soul, he found a person after His own heart. Last week, we recalled the story of David and Goliath – how God gives us HIS courage to face the giants and his authority to overcome them.  Today we explore David’s long wait to become king. 

 You’re probably aware of the practical joke played on office juniors. A senior sends them up the street to a certain place for “a long wait”. On arriving, they’re asked to take a seat.  Once they’ve had a long wait, they’re sent back to the office.

 Discuss:  What happens inside us when we have to wait for a long time?

I think there are basically 2 dysfunctional ways of handling those long waits.

   Frustration/Anger/Explosion 
                     OR  
   Resignation/Depression/Implosion. 

One of the Proverbs picks up on the inner turmoil of waiting:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov 13:12 NRSV) 

David’s Long Wait

After his anointing by Samuel, David didn’t become king next day, next week, next month, or next year. Soon after, an opportunity came for David to play his harp to soothe Saul’s troubled soul.  As we mentioned a couple weeks ago:

David initially comes into Saul’s service as a musical therapist, but also became one of his armor-bearers.  In this capacity, David can learn how the king’s court functions, who the main players are, about statesmanship and diplomacy, about battle strategies and war.  It’s like an apprenticeship where David is learning wisdom and skills for when he will one day come to the throne.  

For several years, David worked for king Saul.  Initially Saul was fond of David.  But following David’s victory over Goliath, Saul’s attitude changed dramatically: 

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.  As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”  Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”  And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. (1 Sam 18:6-9 NIV)

Saul’s jealousy led to repeated attempts to murder David:  The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand  and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had left Saul.  (1 Sam 18:10-12 NIV)

When that failed, Saul sent David on military campaigns hoping that David would be smitten in battle – but to no avail.  Instead, David’s success and popularity only increased:  In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.  When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.   But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns. (1 Sam 18:14-16 NIV) 

With Saul’s paranoia going through the roof, he intensified his efforts to assassinate David.  As a result, David becomes a fugitive on the run.  Saul has his army and spies out everywhere looking for David, chasing him from town to town, and throughout the wilderness where David and his supporters would hide out in caves. 

Imagine David’s dilemma: “What’s the LORD got me into?  What have I done wrong to deserve this?  Why on earth did God choose me to be his king, when trouble follows me like a bad smell?  How long O LORD will I have to put up with this?  How much longer will Saul keep trying to kill me?  How much longer before I can have peace?  How much longer before God enables me to become king?” 

Wrestling with questions like these in the midst of a long wait, two equally damaging temptations can confront us:

1. One temptation is to forsake the dream that God has put on your heart – and settle for something that is bland and unsatisfying.  Like settling in a job you loathe because you don’t have the confidence or courage or discipline to pursue your passion.  Or like marrying a person you don’t even like or love just to avoid being alone. 

2. Another temptation is to take the law into your own hands, and manipulate people and events in ungodly ways to get your own way.  We see this when people impose their will on others; and then get angry when others say: “No!”  Bullying, control, lying, deceit, blame, anger, murder – these are examples of bad fruit when someone tries to be “god” over others.  There’s no grace in that.  No love in that.  No kindness, no mercy, no freedom. Only using and abusing others to get one’s own way.  

David’s shows us a better way: tell God all about it (for many examples read the psalms of David), trust God with it, and let God bring about the outcome.

While we’re uncertain of the exact time frame, scholars estimate that it was 15 years between David’s anointing by Samuel and his coming to the throne as king![1]  David had to wait 15 years for God to finally remove Saul. And that meant putting up with maybe 10 years of persecution at the hands of his predecessor!

David’s Opportunities to Kill Saul

While waiting and running for his life from Saul, there were two occasions in the wilderness years when David could have killed Saul (1 Sam 24 & 26), and taken the throne by force.  The first time, Saul goes into a cave to relieve himself.  He doesn’t know that David and his men are hiding deep down in the back of the cave.  David’s men urge him to kill Saul, but David refuses.  Instead he cuts off a piece of Saul’s coat.  But then David is conscience stricken: He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”  With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. (1 Sam 24:6-7 NIV)   

In the dialogue that follows, David tells Saul, May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. (1 Sam 24:12 NIV) 

The second time, David and a mate take Saul’s spear and jug while the army are sleeping out in the field!  David’s offsider, Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won’t strike him twice.”  But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.  But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” (1 Sam 26:8-11 NIV)

And again David assures Saul that he will do him no harm: “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”   (1 Sam 26:23-24 NIV) 

Trusting God’s Timing

David renounces the desire to get even – or to take the throne by force… even when he had opportunities to do so.  David knew that those who grasp for power are least qualified to use it. Instead David left his times and seasons in God’s hands, trusting God for the outcomes.[2]  David trusted that God knew the “big picture” for his life, and would work out the right time when Saul would go … and David would become king!  15 years is a long apprenticeship, but when David became king of Israel, he was READY!  Once David became king, he ruled for 40 years! 

Friends, rather than manipulating people or events – and/or stressing out when things don’t go our way – like David, we too can trust God’s timing.  The point is not to be in too big a rush to get where God wants to take us.   That’s not easy for us Westerners who are so used to instant gratification that we carry on like pork chops when it doesn’t happen!!! 

Friends, God’s seasons are for good reasons.  Some of you have a calling from God that you are well aware of – but it hasn’t yet come to pass.  As a result, you might be confused or frustrated; or wondering when it’s going to happen.  In God’s good time.  Don’t despise the season you are in.  It’s part of the Lord’s training for fulfilling your destiny.  God is growing your character, stretching your skills, and most importantly deepening your dependence on HIM. 

Friends, what are you waiting for??  I urge and encourage you in the LORD: Don’t waste the season you’re in by moping and whining while waiting for the next season to come round. You can grow; or you can stagnate.  Your choice!  What can you learn?  Why not do a course, join a small group, try something new?  Seek after God and ask him to grow you into a person after his own heart.  Get into the discipline of feeding on God’s Word.  Do a David, tell God all that’s on your heart and mind. If you’re carrying afflictions or addictions, seek wise Christian counseling.

Some of you know from experience that it’s not good to be alone, but you haven’t yet met the right person.  You wonder what’s happening.  You tell God about it, but seem to get no reply.  What’s going on with all that?  Is it just possible that God is getting you ready?  Or that God is getting the other person ready?  If both of you are NOT ready, it’s like trying to eat a cake before it’s cooked in the oven – it will all be ruined!  If marriage is part of God’s will for your life, when BOTH of you ARE ready, God will bring it to pass.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…   (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)  In the Bible, there are 2 ways of talking about time. Chronos time is where we get the word “chronology”.  It’s the days, months, years, decades, centuries between events.  Kairos time is the right time or season for something to happen.  Like for grain to ripen, it needs the heat of summer at just the right time.  Like when Paul writes of the coming of Jesus for us: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:4-6 NRSV)  Kairos time is the right time for God’s purposes to happen!

Part of the art of living well is to embrace and enjoy each season as it unfolds – and not adopting the “When and Then” mantle of misery: “When I graduate then I’ll be happy! When I get that car then I’ll be happy.  When I marry and have children, then I’ll be happy.  When the children leave home, then I’ll be happy.  When I get that promotion, then I’ll be happy.  When I’ve been overseas, then I’ll be happy.  When I retire then I’ll be happy.” Contentment is relaxing into each season as God’s gift, sucking the marrow out of it, living relationally well through it, and then being ready for when God says it’s time for the next season to unfold.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11 NIV)  God knows what’s ahead for you – so enjoy the season you’re in on the way to where he’s taking you. And whenever you’re faced with a long wait, or a tough season, remember:

God is always on time, he is never late.

Sometimes it takes God a long time to move quickly.

 


[1] Cf the chronology of my 1985 NIV Study Bible, p.373. The following suggested years are BC:  1080? Saul born.  1050 Saul anointed to be king (1 Sa 10:1).  1040 David born.  1025 David anointed to be Saul’s successor (1 Sa 16).  1010 Death of Saul, & start of David’s reign in Hebron (2 Sa 1:1, 2:1-11).  970 Death of David (2 Sa 5:4-5)

[2]  As in the Psalms: No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man.  But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.  (Ps 75:6-7 NIV)