The Giant Mocks Us

Painting by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1616
From 1 Samuel 17

Young David stood and looked at Goliath face-to-face.  Physically there was hardly a comparison.  Goliath was almost 10 feet tall, a warrior since birth, armed to the teeth, we read of his armor–he was like a human tank.  David was nothing,  a pesky boy, nothing more.  Goliath preened and strutted into the field of battle, and David was stepping up for his first try.

Goliath begins to blaspheme.  He boasts and mocks.  In his mind he is superior.  His arrogance knows no bounds.  The center of the universe is the Philistine army, and he is their champion.  Nothing can compare, the glory is his.

“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground”.

1 Sam. 17:48

 Goliath is a ‘human wood chipper.’  Everyone who has faced him has been destroyed.  There have been no survivors to speak of. But I find David to be powerfully exceptional.  His reaction to the ‘human mountain’ of Goliath was to run directly at him.  This is an astonishing faith.

Many of us face a giant called “despair”.

He has marched out on the field of battle confident of his ultimate triumph over us.  We have been tutored that there are enemies that can destroy us.  We’ve been indoctrinated to accept the inevitable slavery with a spirit of meekness.

The concept and milieu of going to war has not been something that didn’t get passed on to us.  The ‘enemy-giant’ of despair is real and brutal.  Our destruction is inevitable in his mind.  Despair believes he will destroy us.  Its just a matter of time.

So many believers, cowed and intimidated, surrender to the boastings of the giant Despair.  Hope, and faith are drained out of our being, and we become a empty spiritual shell.  The “warfare” dimension gets nullified, and soon irrelevant.  Despair reaches us and has the full intention of taking total control.

David ran to the battle.  He passed through the dark intimidation and influence to approach Goliath.  There was no passiveness or doubt to cloud his mind.  David took a spiritually aggressive position, he took on the confusion, and then ran directly at the giant Goliath.  His spirit was untouchable.

As believers, we struggle and David and Goliathpout.  We turn our hearts over to despair.  We become available to the enemies workings.  And the confidence we might have through faith is dissipated into doubt and confusion.  But the victory we have in Christ allows us the liberty, through the Blood of Him who defeats our own goliath of despair.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

For This Thing is From Me

 “Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.”  

 1 Kings 12:24, KJV

You can never accuse the Lord of being cold and distant and aloof.  He doesn’t detach Himself from the needs of His people.  He doesn’t ever disconnect and isolate Himself.  On the contrary, He is constantly thinking and acting on our behalf.  He is a proactive God.  That is most impressive.

Some say, that at the beginning of creation, God wound up the universe like a clock.  Now He watches as everything just winds down.  He makes no intervention, or attempt to regulate.  We call this “Deism.”  It may be understood philosophically, but not theologically–or biblically.  The God of the Bible is always intensively involved in the affairs and concerns of His covenant people.

“For this thing is from Me.”  God directs a confused king who has significant issues.  God decides that civil war between Judah and Israel is wrong.  He sends His prophet Shemaiah to stand before the king of Judah, and speak out a word to the nation.  The Lord is involved, and it is He who is actively enmeshed into this issue.

“For this thing is from Me.”  There is something here that can mystify and perplex the best of us.  He begins to weave and guide His active presence into the confusing issues of that time.  He is not a “landlord God,”  but He is intensely involved in our affairs.  He initiates and directs the very things that concern us.

“For this thing is from Me.”  The text clearly opens up this ugly situation.  In the midst of this bizarre issue, God has assumed control.  His prophet Shemaiah carries this Word into  a room of explosive personalities.  Now the arrogance of the king can be a tenacious thing.  But He moves wherever He wills.  Kings are never an issue, when God enters in.

Dear one, He is deeply involved in your affairs.  He draws very close, and He has engaged Himself to be intricately involved.  “For this thing is from Me.”  and that truth opens up His purposes to our desperate poverty.  We may try very hard to try to maintain control and direction.  But God directs and superintends.  He is big enough to touch and direct my small heart.  We will only come into confusion if we try to sidestep His lordship.

 “The Lord can control a king’s mind as he controls a river;  he can direct it as he pleases.” 

Proverbs 21:1

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Battle Scars

knight

It is a bad habit to try to teach without personal knowledge. We can preach, but we do not possess. This is one of the occupational hazards of those of us in our profession. It seems to carry a horrible curse of spiritual sterility, that the wise believer ultimately sees.

It’s been 13 years since a diagnosis of Bipolar 1 was made. I believe I was BP in my teens. Life is a roller-coaster for me, up and down, with a twist or two along the way. I am now fairly aware at 56 that much of my earthly existence  has already been lived. Life can become such a grind. I’m tired and broken, and ready for eternity.

“One should go to sleep as homesick passengers do, saying, “Perhaps in the morning we shall see the shore.”

–Henry Ward Beecher

Billy Bray (a bearer of an unfortunate name) was an illiterate Cornish evangelist in the 1850s. He was heard to pray this: “Lord, if any have to die this day, let it be me, for I am ready.” By faith, I do understand these sentiments. I am ready to go as well.

I love collecting good quotes. (I also have a site at http://www.CrossQuotes.org.) But here’s two more good ones:

“God buries His workmen but carries on His work.”   -Charles Wesley

“If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a “wandering to find home,” why should we not look forward to the arrival?”  – C.S. Lewis

Sorry if I’m being maudlin. But the battle is so long, and it doesn’t ever let up, does it? We all can become weary after a while. What we need is to be ‘shut in’ with the Lord. The Word reminds us:

Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”

 Acts 14:22

“Tribulations” are common, and each must battle through them. And without being melodramatic, we each must walk through the blazing furnace. But I can also boldly attest that there is more than enough grace for each of us. We just need to become desperate enough. (Which shouldn’t be too hard).

Armor is given. Wearing it means you’ll survive (and thrive) to see another day. Those who may suggest that the Christian life is a “bed of roses,” I would say that they haven’t read Ephesians 6. If there is no war, why would the Holy Spirit tell us to put it on?

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” 

Eph. 6:10-11

We are starting to finally learn we must fall in love with Jesus. He receives us with a massive kind of love. And His mercy meets us at every doubtful corner. You have His Word on it. Simply ask Him to come to you. 

*

Kyrie eleison, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy.)

cropped-christiangraffiti1-2

Against the Cosmic Powers

Perfectly safe.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.

Ephesians 6:12, ESV

Satan attacks us in two distinct and recognizable ways.

First, he stirs up our desires and inflames our appetites for sin. He is very good at this. He knows all about you, and what you like.

Second, he accuses us of committing an evil against God. Scripture identifies him as “the accuser of the brethren.” He condemns us as perverse, rebellious, seditious and evil. “See what an evil wretch you are, your heart is small, black and hard.”

But the believer will run to the cross, and hold on. He will hear the blood of Jesus cry out for his soul. In this simple act of obedience and faith, he allows Jesus Christ to deliver him/her from darkness. There is absolutely nothing to be done except this, and this is enough. Sin can never hold a broken believer, who has a child’s heart of humility.

“And thus I shall always do, whenever you leave me to myself.” ~Brother Lawrence

I cannot fight this dark battle in and of myself. I have neither the armament nor the understanding to take on “cosmic powers”. I must become broken, and weak, and then the Spirit will shelter me. Being manic depressive can actually be of help. I know my own weakness, and it lays me at the feet of my Lord, with no pretenses of strength.

Romans 8:31-32, The Message reads like this,

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?”

It is the ‘nerd’s’ dream, of being absolutely protected from his tormentors by someone with superpowers. And scripture makes it clear that this is not far from the truth. God defends us not just because he loves us, he protects us because his reputation is on the line.

“Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture (verses 33-34, the Message)

Oh struggling saint, you cannot battle alone. Apart from him, you can do nothing. Spiritually, cover yourself with the righteousness of Jesus. Do not venture out against these dark forces, when you have the love of One who cannot fail.

aabryscript

 

 

 

The Art of Offending Jesus

SIN_KILLS_SIGN Our actions can bless God, and others immensely. We really have no idea that we have such power in our grasp. But we do say and do things that do alter the realities of those who are trying desperately to draw close to Him. We like to be unattached from these very real things. We suppose that it is a “no-brainer,” we will always avoid any complications or entanglements, about our behavior.

However, reality is much more “unforgiving” then we imagine. How we conduct ourselves is certain, and is significant. Honestly, when we become believers and are added to His church, can we honestly behave worse than we were before our salvation from sin?

I’m afraid salvation from sin means “turning off the faucet.” We can’t avoid this, it will determine what kind of a Christian we are. What do we do? Do we continue to sin? “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”

Romans 6:1-2, NLT

I’m truly convinced of this. Our decision to keep enjoying sin is disturbing. Our “death” in this case, has never happened. We have died to nothing, and remain untouched by the Gospel. We become just inoculated enough to make us believe that we are “ok.” Our lives keep moving, and we will never consider that we have made these wrong adjustments.11831809_417345445125926_2957479398676821867_n

Are we not “offending Jesus Christ” by not dying to our own sins? If we have pretty much remained the same kind of people, then it is very likely we have. Our enjoyment of sin indicates our real allegiance that we will have when “push comes to shove.” It really seems that we must shake off the old way before we can put on the new.

I simply suggest that you liaten to the Spirit as you make your choices.

Let him accompany you and show you what offends. I only speak boldly, because it matters more than you realize.

bry-signat (1) cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg *

A Walk in the Clouds

What Jesus intends for us is to learn to walk in the supernatural intelligently.  Each disciple must learn to walk out a life that is totally beyond what is ordinary.

We need to learn how to walk in the clouds!  The things He has done for us are definitely and profoundly out-of-this-world.  He provides an exceptional power to us who have tasted a gentle grace.

We have not been elevated to this place without understanding the humility which this new life is rooted in.  He provides the power; we provide the humility.  Or at least that is what it seems.  But a “Jesus walk” will always take humility and perhaps even a brokenness of heart before it can work.

It’s like if I was to give you a new 2017 BMW.  It’s a beautiful car, no question.  But if I don’t give you the keys, the  car really isn’t yours.  It can sit in your driveway, but without the key all it is an exterior ornament to your success.  But it goes nowhere, without the key in the ignition.

Humility is the key you need to power your Christian life.  If you don’t have humility you will never “walk in the clouds.”  And without it, you will undoubtedly end up traversing into something, but way less then what could be an amazing supernatural walk.

Your life was meant to be lived out on the margin of supernatural understanding.  We have never been walkers, but fliers.  We mount up with wings, just like the eagles.

“But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again.
They will rise up as an eagle in the sky;
they will run and not need rest;
they will walk and not become tired.”  Isa. 40:31

Will you keep struggling, or will you fly? God’s grace gives you wings. What does your theology allow?  Will it permit soaring, and gliding?  Yet He approaches us.  He asks us, “Do you believe that I can make beauty out of ashes?”

“I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow, and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness. Then they will be called Trees of Goodness, trees planted by the Lord to show his greatness.”   Isaiah 61:3

This sounds like a supernatural walk to me. Walking with Jesus is a miracle every day.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

 

So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?

 

1867_edward_poynter_-_israel_in_egypt

God has always wanted to lead His people. I think that He is almost catatonic with joy when we allow Him to do this. Throughout the ages, and all through Israel’s history, we see Him reaching out to people,  who are stubborn and selfish in their choices. But He reaches out to them anyway.

Israel had been sovereignly led out of Egypt. Miracle after miracle had made this happen. A dramatic exodus from slavery would make the front page that day. People from every generation would know that God was setting His people free.

God didn’t tell them the way, but rather showed them the path Himself. He led them with “a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 13:20-22). The people, however, repeatedly refused to trust their Deliverer-Shepherd. They hardened their hearts and rebelled against Him.

“Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what happened to him.’”

Acts 7:39-40, NASB

They made the choice themselves, they would turn around. They would go back in slavery to Egypt. (Actually in their hearts, they had already done so!) They were rejecting and renouncing God, and turning their backs on Him.

But we are given what we want. Even if it takes us into bondage again.

When we begin to follow, God starts to lead. He takes an active role to guide and direct us, and to bring us into victory. When we try to go back to Egypt, we will experience His discipline.

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery…” 

Galatians 5:1, NLT

“Because of their unbelief they were not able to enter His rest” (Hebrews 3:19). Then the author draws a clear distinction: “They didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter His rest” (Hebrews 4:2-3).

There is a wonderful and real rest. But I am tempted to turn back. Will I decide to let God lead me?

1brobry-sig4 (2)

k

k

cropped-christiangraffiti1-3-1