Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where is the fourth man?

Daniel 3.25
“He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Where is the fourth man?

Daniel 3.19-26
19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

Where is the fourth man?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

These were the names given them by the Babylonians. They mean:
Shadrach – Servant of sin (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
Meshach – Shadow of the prince
Abednego – servant of Nebo (god of science and literature)

Their Hebrew names and meaning are:
Hananiah – Jah has favored
Mishael – Who is what God is
Azariah – Jah has helped

Refusal to eat of the king’s meat was not a point of being obstinate. The Children of Israel were commanded not to partake of the blood of the animal. The king’s meat of that time was not slain as Israelites would do. The Israelites would cut the throat of the animal and the blood would drain out. The meat of the king of Babylon was previously offered to idols as a sacrifice. They had been strangled. The blood stayed in the meat. This was anathema to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Their refusal was a refusal to lose their identity as Israelites. They maintained, in a captive, sometimes hostile, environment, their identity. There is an old gospel song which states, “they wouldn’t bend they wouldn’t bow, they wouldn’t burn.” They were not the only princes of Israel that were taken, but they were the only ones that refused to be amalgamated into the Babylonian lifestyle.

There are Christians today that are having identity crises. The Bible says that we are in the world, but we are not of the world.

We have all heard the stories of wild animals, raised in captivity, that attack their handlers. I have a ball python. We handle her often to keep her accustomed to being handled. We reach into her terrarium and remover her without fear. She coils around my neck for the warmth my skin offers. We have had her in public places where she is content to be so wrapped. Others around have asked if they could touch her. One question usually comes to the forefront. “Does she bite?” I answer that question thusly: “She is a snake. She does not generally bite, but for all our handling, all our trust, all our confidence, she is still a snake. I have changed her environment, but I have not changed that fact that she is still a snake. If I could put her on a leash, it would not make her a puppy. She would still be a snake.” Knowing this, they may or may not touch her, as is their choice.

We may be in the same place as nonbelievers, but we are to retain our identity and our heritage. We are to be as lambs among the wolves. We are to hold to a higher standard. We are to be Children of God no matter where we are or who is around us.

The world tries daily to strip Christians of their identity. Satan has tried to change the meaning of a couple words. The secular world tries to preach what they call ‘tolerance.’ However, what they claim as tolerance is not tolerance, but ‘acceptance.’ I am tolerant of other lifestyles. I am tolerant of the sins of others. I can be tolerant without being accepting. It is a thin line, but the line is there. Anyone, of any lifestyle or persuasion, can stand beside me in a church service, and worship God. I can stand with them in praise of God. This is the meaning of tolerance.

Acceptance has a different meaning. Sin is still sin. Wrong is still wrong. Jesus loved sinners while hating the sin. While I can be tolerant of a sinner, and love their souls, I cannot accept their sin into my life. I must maintain my identity as a Child of God.

Compromise is the watch word of the day. We must be wary of a water religion. If I pour 16 ounces of water into a coke bottle, it takes the shape of that coke bottle. If I take the same 16 ounces of water and pour in into a bowl, it takes the shape of that bowl. There are those trying to serve God the same way. They try to conform their beliefs to match the circumstances. Someone said once, “If we do not stand for something, we will fall for anything.”

Ephesians 4:14
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine , by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

We, as mature Christians, are to be rooted and grounded in our beliefs. This is not to say that we do not grow in the truth, but our core belief must remain true.

Heb 6:1
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

In the original text, it clarifies, launching from the principles, let us go on to completion.

Sadly, there are times that Christians take on the identity of the world.

A young Christian boy was hired to work in a lumber camp with many seasoned lumberjacks over a summer. His mother, as mothers do, worried about him. She worried for his health and well being. She also worried how these men would treat him, being a Christian.

When the longest summer of her life ended, she went to retrieve her son at the train station. She was greeted by a taller, more muscular young man. The boy that left at the start of the summer returned as a young man. After the hugs and the ‘missed you’ greetings, she asks the question that plagued her over the summer.

“Son, how did the men of the camp treat you, being a Christian?”

He beamed as if he had gotten away with something and said, “Mom, they never knew.”

If your friends, neighbors, and coworkers don’t know you are a Christian, you may not be one.

God does not have undercover agents.

Psalms 107:2
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

If you have been redeemed, God expects you to say so. God expects you to tell someone the good news.

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. He gathered his wise men and asked them to tell him the meaning of the dream. They told him to tell them the dream. He says he cannot because he does not remember the dream.

Let me get this straight, you want me to tell you the meaning of a dream that you cannot remember, and if I cannot tell you the meaning, I will be cut to pieces and my house destroyed?

The kings magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans, could not tell him the dream or the interpretation, but they knew someone that could. They knew about a Hebrew that refused to compromise. They knew about a Hebrew that was still in touch with his God. They knew about a Hebrew that maintained his identity.

The king’s men came to Daniel. Daniel went to Hananiah (Shadrach,) Mishael (Meshach,) and Azariah (Abednego.) They began to fast and pray. God revealed the dream to Daniel in the night. Daniel went into the king and told him his dream and the meaning. The dream contained the great image that represented several kingdoms in the future.

The king wanted to see part of the dream happen, specifically the great image. He commissioned to have the image created. When it was finished, he gathered the princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the providences of the nation.

Daniel 3:1-7
1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up

Everyone is going to bow. What would be wrong with bowing? Everyone else is going to bow.

If you are going to do what everyone else is going to do, you will lose your identity.

You will not be identified with God anymore.

The time comes. The crowd is assembled. The musicians are ready. You may not have been able to pick Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the crowd, but once the music sounded, they were not hard to find.

The choice is the same today. You will either bow to the image the world has or you will stand for God. There is no compromise. There is no half bowing. There is no half standing. You will be identified with the world or you will be identified with God.

The king was alerted. He called the three Hebrew boys to him. He told them he was going to give them another chance. Perhaps they didn’t understand. Perhaps they were confused. Now that they knew what was expected, surely they would bow.

Daniel 3:16-18
16 …O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

We must refuse to be changed by the world and its ideas. There are some things that are just non-negotiable. There are too many that have given their all, for us to step down from the word of God.

Three went in. The king looked in. He saw four. He called to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The three Hebrew boys came out.

Where is the fourth man?

He is still waiting in the fire.

When you have to go through fiery trials, He is there. When you refuse to lose your identity, the fourth man is in the fire. When you refuse to compromise to this world, and they put you through the fire, He is there.

The fourth man is still there and he is waiting.

Ephesians 6.13
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

When you have done all you can do; stand.

He is a very present help in time of trouble.

When you are in trouble, the fourth man is there.

When you are in a trial, the fourth man is there.

We have more in us than the world has in it.

“Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world”

When we walk through the dry places, He will be with us.

When we are tested and tried, He will be with us.

When the devil rants and raves, He will still be there.

When the furnace is hotter than ever, He is still there.

In the book of Luke, it says the Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert. There are times that the Spirit will lead us to places we may not want to go. Rest assured, the Spirit will never lead you where the Spirit cannot keep you.

If you convictions lead you the furnace, the fourth man is there.

When you refuse to compromise your identity; when you refuse to follow the vain traditions of man; when you refuse to bow to the image; God will be there.

“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

The fourth man is there.

In the middle of the night, He is there.

In the midst of the trial, He is there.

The fourth man is there.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Greater Within You, Controls You

I Corinthians 9.27
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

“The Greater Within You Controls You”

I Kings 21.1-4
1. And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
2. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
3. And Naboth said to Ahab, the LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
4. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

We will be looking at Romans 7.15-25 as well.

“The Greater Within You Controls You”

Naboth had a vineyard. That vineyard was coveted by Ahab the king of Samaria. When the Children of Israel entered the land of Canaan, they were required of God to do certain things. God divided the land amongst the tribes and families. They were told that they could not sell the land. In Leviticus 25.23, the Bible states, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” God provided the land (It was His) to the Israelites and included the proviso that it must not be sold. If through poverty, the land was lost to another Israelite, the original possessor had the right to redeem it prior to the year of Jubilee. If he were not able to do so, a near kinsman could redeem it for him.

To Ahab, the vineyard was convenient. It was near to his house. It was appealing because of its location. Ahab desired to have this vineyard. Though there were other vineyards, this was the most convenient for him. It was not going to produce any more herbs than any other vineyard. Ahab offered Naboth another vineyard for it. He offered a ‘better’ vineyard. He also offered the worth of it in money, if Naboth so desired. It seemed like a fair offer.

It never ceases to amaze me how convenient religion has become. In Acts, on the day of Pentecost, the scripture relates, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The word used, ‘katanusso’ means to pierce thoroughly. The preaching of Peter agitated the guilt within and caused them to be pierced by the weight of their actions. They realized that while they may not have stood in the crowd that day, their sins were there. Their actions, past and present, had caused the death of the Christ. The knowing of this was too much for them and they cried, “What shall we do?”

The revelation of the identity of Jesus Christ was not a message of convenience. In a previous Bible Study, we talked about the difference between religion and salvation. Religion may be a matter of convenience. Salvation is not. I recall an incident that occurred while I was still working as an electrician. My partner and I were working on an addition to a large church in Lexington. The leader of the church asked my partner and me about an issue. The leader wanted to know if I did this thing. I told him I did not. He asked if it was a church issue. I explained that it was a church standard and a personal choice. My partner, who attended another church, stated that his church taught against it, but “we all do it anyway.” The leader of the church questioning us said, “Well, we like to do it, so we teach that it is okay.” Convenience.

It would have been convenient for Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard to Ahab. It would have been profitable as well. However, Naboth’s convictions compelled him to turn down a substantial sum of money for his vineyard. This vineyard, to Naboth, represented God’s promises. His ownership was a direct result of his ancestor remaining true to God. This vineyard and his continual ownership represented his dedication to keeping the word of God. Something inside would not allow him to let down on this promise. The promises of God sustained Naboth. He would not depart from them. He would not deviate from them. He would not lessen them.

These promises are not for sale or trade.

His conviction was greater than his flesh. His conviction was so strong that it did not even consider the consequences of his actions. It recoiled in horror at the thought. It was evident in his response. “The Lord forbid it ..”

His greater conviction led to his death.

Ahab pouted about not getting the vineyard. Jezebel, his wife told him to make merry. She would see to him getting the vineyard of Naboth. She sent letters sealed with the kings seal to the leaders of the city. She told them to proclaim a fast and to sit Naboth in the high seat. She further instructed them to have two men sit by him and to proclaim the Naboth cursed God and the king so that he would be stoned. This went according to plan. Naboth was stoned to death. Ahab claimed his vineyard. God spoke to Elisha and sent him to Ahab. He proclaimed, because of his wickedness, that the dogs would lick Ahab’s blood in the same place where Naboth was killed. He further proclaimed that the dogs of Jezreel would eat the flesh of Jezebel.

Romans 7.15-25

Paul said in Vs 16, “I give my consent to the law ..” I give my vote to the law. I approve of it as it is. The Scriptures tell us that there are those that will wrestle with the word to their own destruction. They will seek to wrench or pervert it. Jesus said those the reject the Word as it is will have one that judges them, even the words I have spoken. After all the twisting and perverting, the Word will stand in the last day and judge them all.

The bible tells us that the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Co 10.4) One of the primary weapons of the Christian is the Word. Weapons are good only if in working order. In Germany, one may own guns only if they are non-firing. The firing pin must be removed. It makes the weapon void. When we wrest the scriptures, we make the weapons of God of no effect.

In the Garden of Eden, Eve made a mistake when she added to the Words of God. Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were commanded not to eat. When Eve spoke with the serpent, she added the admonition “not to touch.” This would seem to make the commandment even stronger. However, the Word of God is pure. If one takes pure gold and adds anything to it, no matter how pure the additive, we make the gold worth less. When we add anything to the Word of God, we make it worthless.

What soldier wants to go into battle with weapons that do not work? Wet powder. No bullets. No guidance system. All the intricate parts of the weapon are involved in making it work properly. They are all important. Even today, unexploded mines and mortars from World War II are found. They did not accomplish their task because of some small or seeming insignificant parts failure.

Every verse is important. I remember someone asking me once, years ago, what verse my church was founded upon? I was confused. What verse?!?!? How about Genesis 1.1 to Revelation 22.21? I heard a preacher say once that he believed it cover to cover and he even believed the cover.

In His Word, every facet of human life is touched. He tells us the best way to deal with our husband or wife. He tells us how to treat our parents and our children. He tells us the right way to deal with our friends and our enemies. He gives instructions concerning our relationships with neighbors and strangers. He even tells us how to deal with our employers or employees. He talks about how we are to walk, how we are to talk, how we are to dress, how we are to eat, how we are to act, and how we are to look. God has something to say about everything we do.

We must take the scriptures as they are. John 5.39 tells us, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” Someone said that the Bible is the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Vs 22 says, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” It becomes a joy. It is not a drudgery to serve God. It is distasteful to God to fulfill only the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. 2 Corinthians 3.6 tells us that “.. the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Look at the scripture. Notice the lowercase “s” at the beginning of the word spirit. This is not talking about the spirit of God. If it were, the “s” would have been uppercase. He is telling us here that the spirit with which we approach the work of God can be life giving. If we approach the work of God with the drudgery of doing the letter, the exact amount, the precise limit, we bring a death to our works. However, if we, full of joy, excited to perform the work of God, enter the work thusly, we bring life. We are to cheerfully submit to the authority of the Word. “God loves a cheerful giver.”

“I’ll do it, but I ain’t gonna like it.” We must learn to love His word and His ways. We must serve God with all of our souls. Isaiah 12:3 “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” We have become so worried about someone thinking we are a fanatic, that we have left our emotions behind in our service to God. We have been chided about letting our emotions run wild. We have been told that all our Spirit feeling is nothing more than our emotions out of control.

Let the University of Kentucky Wildcats score a touchdown in the home stadium and I will show you over 60,000 people showing some emotion, and that is okay. Let the Cats score a three pointer to win the game in the last seconds and I will show you over 23,000 people showing some emotion, and that is okay. However, let a blood bought child of God get excited about the blessing and deliverance of God, and that is just too much emotion. Let me tell you, you can just cover your ears, because this child of God is going to shout the victory.

He says we are to delight in his law. We are to serve with joy. You may have gotten some of the quiet delight and that quiet joy, I didn’t. The greater within me, controls me.

Vs. 25 says “… with the mind I myself serve the law of God.” He will give us a new heart and a new mind. Naboth professed the heart intent and the mind intent. We must be heart and mind Christians. There will be times when Satan attacks your mind and you hold on with your heart. There will be times when Satan attacks your heart and you hold on with your mind. We must set the throne of God in our lives, in our hearts, and in our minds.

I am heart convinced that His Spirit is true. I am also mind convinced that His ways are true. “With my mind..” Paul emphasized to the Church at Rome the importance of knowing who we believe, what we believe, and why we believe.

1 Corinthians 9.24-27
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

We are not competing against each other. We are collectively and individually striving for Heaven. We fight a common war, in a common land, with common weapons, against a common foe. We strive under a common banner for a common goal. My battle is within. Your battle is within. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “We are met on a great battlefield.”

There is an old Indian story about a chief talking to his grandson. He is telling him about the two natures living within man. These two natures are constantly warring against each other. There is the desire to do that which is right and the desire to do that which is wrong. The chief tells his grandson that these two natures are like two dogs locked in a struggle. The grandson asks the question, “Which one will win, Grandfather?” The wise chief replies, “The one I feed the most.” The greater within you controls you.

Galatians 6.7-9
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The greater within you controls you. Christ must become the greater in me. Naboth’s convictions brought about his death. We must be willing. Paul said he was in peril every day, yet he was willing to be offered.

The Bible talks about the strongman. No one can enter the house without first binding the strongman. Who is the strongman in your house? Who do you feed? Who is the greater in you?

Christ must be the greater in us.

If Satan ravages your house, if you are a slave to your desires, you need Jesus.

If you need Him, you need Him now!

If Christ is not the greater in you, you need Him.

Christ is greater than my desire, greater than my trial, greater than my test, greater than my problem, and He is greater than anything you or I will encounter today.

Monday, September 13, 2010


1 Samuel 30:6
6. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

Mark 5:25-34
25. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26. And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27. When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31. And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32. And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.


These seem to be two unrelated stories in the Bible. On the surface they don’t seem to have anything in common. We want to look deeper into the Word to find their familiar significances.

David and his mighty men returned to Ziklag to find that the Amelekites have invaded and sacked the city, burning it with fire. The wives and families of the inhabitants were taken and none were killed. The men of David’s army sit and weep until there are no more tears. Their discouragement turns to talk of stoning David. This is where we find David in this passage. We will go into further detail later.

The woman with the issue of blood is known to us only by her condition and her subsequent healing. We never learn her name. She is mentioned in two of the Gospels. We are told she had a condition of an issue of blood and that she had it for twelve years. She had spent all of her living on treatments to no avail. She is pressing through a crowd to grab hold of the garment of Jesus. This is where we find her in this passage.

We want to look at several words in the passages.

In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word ‘encouraged’ is ‘chazaq’ which means ‘to fasten upon.’

In the Greek of the New Testament, the word ‘touched’ is ‘haptomai’ which means ‘to attach oneself.’ The word ‘throng’ is ‘sunthlibo’ (soon-thlee'-bo) which means ‘to compress’, or ‘crowd on all sides.’ It is a combination word from ‘sun’ which means ‘a primary preposition denoting union; with or together, i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc’., and ‘thlibo’ which means ‘to crowd’.

What was the difference between the woman with the issue of blood and the rest of the throng?

What caused her to seize hold of Christ while the rest of the crowd merely thronged him?

We want to go beyond the obvious without losing sight of it.

Obviously she was there with a need. However, to simply discount the needs of the rest of the crowd would be unrealistic. Everyone has needs. Everyone there was there for a reason. Everyone had a reason (need) to be there.

Why do people come to church?

The crowd was there because it was the place where Christ was going to be. Today, we have relegated Christ to His house. Even though He is omnipresent, the house of God is where we know for assuredly that we can find Him. We need to dispel this thought, but understand that it is out there. If you cannot bring a person to God where you are, bring them where they feel they will find Him.

What was it about David that caused him to seize hold of God?

Look at the similarity of the situation of David and the situation of the woman:


David was a man of war. The reason David was not allowed to build the temple for God was the blood on his hands from battle. War he knew. He was accustomed to the heat of the battle. When he faced an enemy, he enjoyed the comfort of his experience and knowledge. This was his element.

Coming home to the city of Ziklag and finding it in ruins and all the families missing was some much more than war. This was not David risking David.

The mighty men of war wept until there were no more tears. Then their tears turned to discouragement. There was talk of stoning David. However, David encouraged himself in the Lord. As we stated earlier, the Hebrew word means to attach or to seize. When he faced his greatest challenge, David grabbed God.

When his skills could not help him, when his knowledge failed him, when hope abandoned him, he grabbed hold of the one thing that never fails. He grabbed hold of God.

The woman with the issue:

Look at her circumstances. Her health was shot. Her wealth was gone. Her hope was nearly dead. The Word tells us that she had this condition for twelve years. This issue controlled her life. It determined her travel or lack of. It determined her social standing. It determined her wealth.

Life was in the blood. This woman had a condition where she was hemorrhaging.

She had battled this condition for twelve years. It is not a coincidence that we use the word ‘battle’ in the description of her plight. She was at war with her body. Its condition was such that it was draining the life out of her. She waged war. She used all of her strength. She used all of her wealth. She used all of her social standing. This battle cost her all of it. Her condition caused her to be considered unclean. It deprived her of access to the temple. It denied her access to friends. It caused her to be alone. Her only companions were the doctors that failed to cure her. When the money ran out, so did those physicians.

This is the condition in which we find her. She is alone. Her hope dashed on the shores of reality. Dying was all that was left to her. She would die alone. One has to wonder how long it would be before someone would even notice the loss. With no hope, no money, no friends, and no chance, she heard of a traveling healer. She heard the excitement outside the door of a man that was more than a man. She heard about how he healed the blind and the deaf. There were even rumors of the dead being raised. Surely, if she could get to this man, she could be made well. But how? He was a holy man. Her condition even demanded that she should not be even allowed to be close to him. “But, if I could just get hold of Him.”

David had been full, now, sitting in the ruins of Ziklag, he was so empty.

She had been full but now she was empty.

David had been surrounded by the laughter and love of family and friends, and now, his family was taken and his friends spoke of stoning him.

She had been surrounded by family and friends, but now she was alone and there seemed to be no-one to care.

The future had seemed bright for David, but now it was dismal and bleak.

She once had such dreams and now she cried for death as her next friend.

The result of attaching oneself to God:

David’s result: David consulted the Ephod. He inquired of God. “Shall I pursue?” God’s word was “pursue and without fail recover all.” David and his men pursued and recovered everything the Amelekites had taken. Joy was restored. Family was recovered. Discouragement was chased away. The clouds of despair were dissipated. The sun shines through.

Woman’s result: thy faith has made thee whole. Health was restored. Fellowship was mended. Dreams were returned. I am not sure I have the words to tell you how much was changed in that one meeting. Everything was different now. Her condition affected every aspect of her life. There was not one thing that was not touched by her sickness. In that one meeting, everything changed.

You will not meet and hold God without there being a change. Sin permeates every aspect of your existence. It affects your health, it affects your wealth. It affects your social standing. It affects your friendships. It affects your relationships. There are no areas of your life that are not touched in some way by sin.

The difference between the crowd and the woman

Jesus had come into the area and a crowd gathered as was usual. A ruler in the city came to Jesus to ask Him to come heal his daughter who was at the point of death. Jesus went with Jarius and the crowd followed. The word here means merely to ‘walk along the same road.’ It does not imply an agreement of beliefs, but merely a common direction for a period of time. The crowd consisted of several levels of followers:

Dedicated followers: His disciples followed Him. They sat with Him and ate with Him. They followed Him not only on the road that day, but in their hearts. They followed his teachings and His directions. They had forsaken their former lives to become his fishers of men. While they may have been curious to see what Jesus was going to do, it was not the motivation for their following.

Curious followers: Then there were those that followed out of curiosity. They followed to see what Jesus could or would do. They had heard of His travels and His miracles. They came to see the show. Was He a prophet as some had claimed? Was He a healer from God as others claimed? Was he a magician or sorcerer using the power of the devil as others had claimed? Their curiosity compelled them to follow.

Following followers: Then there were those that followed simply to be following the crowd. They followed the crowd to be following the crowd. They had not heard of Jesus and His works, but the crowd was excited and therefore, they would join in. They were just joiners. They joined every good or popular cause.

In any church, you will find these followers.

Dedicated followers: You will find those that have given their hearts to God. They have ‘forsaken their nets’ and taken up the cross and are following. They are in the thick of the worship. They are giving their all. They are listening for the words of God. They are eager for instruction and reproof.

Curious followers: There you will also find the curious. They are there to see what Jesus will do in the service. They follow Him but from somewhat afar off. They readily agree that He is a great man and worthy to be followed. They are there for the fishes and the loaves. While the first group is being fed both spiritually and physically, this group is missing the spiritual and feasting only on the physical benefits of church attendance. This temporal satisfaction is all they seek.

Following followers: Then there are the followers of followers. My friends go to church so I will go to church. I am not here for the spiritual blessings. I am not here for the physical blessings. I am here because it is the social cause of the day. Church attendance has had a resurgence in popularity. Therefore the followers of followers can be found on the pews. They are following the crowd.

However, also in that crowd, on that common road, on the way to do good, Jesus encountered the woman with the issue of blood. While faith brought her to the place where He was, she did not possess the boldness of Jarius. Her condition caused her shy away from the spotlight.

Leviticus 15:25 “And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean.”

She would have been delighted to grab the garment of Christ, be healed, and go her way with none being the wiser. To proclaim her healing or even her need for healing would be to expose her condition. While she was not a Jew, she knew that Jesus was a Jew. Her condition required that a Jew not come in contact with her.

It did not work out that way.

Jesus, perceiving the virtue going out, stopped and asked who had touched Him so. Her act was exposed. She had been healed, but now the Healer was asking who had ‘touched’ Him. When she came forth, His words were not of rebuke, but of comfort. “Go in peace and be whole of your plague.” Her faith had made her whole.

Your condition and position does not hinder God in His redemptive work.

He is not looking for social standing. He is not looking for wealth. He is not looking for beauty. He is not looking for intelligence. He is not looking for political connections.

He is looking for faith. He is looking for need.

Your social standing, present or absent, will not hamper the work. Your faith and need matter. Your wealth or lack thereof will not obstruct the work of His Spirit. Your faith and need matter. Your beauty or plainness will not hold back the healing power of His touch. Your faith and need matter. Your intelligence or absence of it will not mar His perfect will in your life. Your faith and need matter.

Come with your faith. Bring your need. Fasten yourself to God.

Job said that he would hold fast (‘chazaq’) to his righteousness.

Hebrews tells us to hold fast to the profession of our faith.

Judas spoke a mouthful when he told the soldiers he would identify Jesus with a kiss. His words were, “Whomsoever I shall kiss , that same is he: hold him fast.”

If your life is going in the wrong direction, grab hold of Jesus.

If your world is in turmoil, grab hold of Jesus.

If sin has you in its grip, grab hold of Jesus.

If you are discouraged, grab hold of Jesus.

If you have no hope, grab hold of Jesus.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Power of a Challenge

1 Samuel 17.4-11
4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.
9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.
10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

The Power of a Challenge

Great leaders throughout time have motivated men through the use of challenges. JFK, in his Presidential acceptance speech, challenged all of America with these words:

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Motivational speakers know the power of challenging their audiences to move forward in career and personal endeavors. It is time that we learn the power of a challenge.

We hear speakers talk about goal setting. It is easy to think lofty in these times to set grandiose goals for ourselves. Naturally, the first and foremost goal is to make Heaven our home. However, while this is the ultimate goal of every Child of God, it is broad and largely unchallenging. To be a challenge, a goal must be measurable and closely attainable. There is nothing wrong with setting this as our far reaching goal, but we need goals closer to home in order to challenge us.

For example; a person with the before mentioned goal, may plan that they will repent and get right with God when they are close to death. It is attainable still, but requires nothing of them on a daily basis. It is unrealistic, in that, none of us know exactly when the time of our death will arrive. Our goals, in order to challenge us, must be closer at hand. We must set a goal that we can measure and obtain.

For example: my goal for this week is to fast three meals and to pray three hours.

This is obtainable and measureable. At the end of the chosen seven day period, we have either fasted three meals and prayed three hours or we have not.

The goal must have a method to obtain that is based in reality. I can set a goal to have a million dollars in thirty years. This is measureable. It is long term, but will involve daily strategies and sacrifices. I can see if I am on track or not. I can adjust accordingly. However, to set a goal like this and do nothing, expecting that the money will merely appear at some point, is unrealistic. Wouldn’t you agree?

To say, my goal is to make Heaven my home and then sit and do nothing is just as unrealistic.

A challenge will either devastate or motivate you.

Goliath challenged the Children of Israel and such was the power of that challenge that they were dismayed and greatly afraid. The word interpreted ‘dismayed’ is ‘chathath’ which means ‘to prostrate or break down.’

For 40 days, every morning and every evening, Goliath stepped out on the field of battle and issued his challenge. No battle was enjoined. No combat had occurred. No physical contact was made. No arrow was let fly. No spear had been thrown. The Children of Israel were stopped by the power of Goliath’s challenge.

Every morning and every evening, as the challenge went unanswered, it grew in strength. It gained in power.

You must answer the challenges that come to you quickly or they will overcome you.

Every day that you allow yourself to be buffeted by the forces of Satan, they will grow in power over you. Every day that you allow the challenge to be unanswered, it get stronger in its ability to constrain you or break you down. You may not defeat it on the first day, but you must not allow it to come and go unanswered. The Red Sea would have appeared to grow wider and wider as the Children of Israel looked across it. Every day, doubt and fear would have pushed the opposing shoreline further and further away. The walls of Jericho would have grown taller and stronger in the estimation of the children of Israel had they not daily went out and answered the challenge.

Here, in the valley of Elah, Saul’s army had allowed the defiant Philistines to break them down and fill them with fear.

1 Peter 2.9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

Let’s look at Basic English. ‘Can’ speaks about ability. ‘May’ speaks about permission. This scripture is not talking about Satan having the ability to devour us. It is talking about whom the devil has the permission to devour. I have spoke of this in several Bible studies. Too many Christians are fooled by Satan into thinking he sets the rules for engagement. He does not. When he desired to go after Job, he was only allowed to go so far. Who set those terms? God did. God still sets the terms for this battle. Satan does not have Gods permission to destroy you. The problem is that we give Satan permission. We allow him to buffet us. We allow him to brow beat us. We allow him to challenge us unanswered. If WE allow it, he will destroy us.

Years before and far from the battlefield, a young lad was tending his father’s sheep. A lion roared against him, and he slew it. A bear came after the sheep. He protected the sheep and slew the bear. Challenges came and he answered them. He faced the challenges as they came. I cannot tell you the David was without fear, because the Word does not say that. However, I can assure you, by the authority of god’s Word that he was not stopped by any fear he may have had, and he was not stopped by the challenges he faced in tending the sheep.

Jesse, his father, sent David to take food and drink to his brothers on the hill in the battle that was not. When David arrived, the Philistine issued his challenge. David, probably, waited for someone to answer the challenge. When no one stepped forth, David asked the question “Is there not a cause?”

David was not stopped by fear, nor was he dismayed by the words of the Philistine. David was challenged by the challenge. His heart was set afire. His spirit was inflamed. His courage and determination were kindled. Something must be done.

“Is there not a cause?”

As a child, few things are harder to resist than a challenge. Who among us are not familiar with the words, “I dare you,” or better yet, the words, “I double dog dare you”?

How many countless times has a mother had to bandage the end results of some ludicrous dare? How many times has a doctor had to set the bones of some double dare? Such is the power of a challenge to push us to do more than we would ordinarily do. It will push us to do something we normally consider beyond our ken.

In athletics
Competitors are motivated by a challenge:
· to win,
· to be the best,
· to exercise to the limit and beyond,
· to run faster
· to jump higher
· to go farther

In education
Children must be challenged to learn. I have seen, in homes where education is a low priority, children do not do as well in school. Children learn best when there is a challenge to learn.

In work or careers
We seek things that will challenge us. Without it, we quickly lose interest and work quality suffers. In factories, tack times are set to give the works an acceptable timeframe for a task, and to give them a goal to beat. Without a goal, we become slow and lazy.

In sports, education, and work, without a challenge, there is no excitement.

We must never become complacent in our walk with God. We must never be at ease. We must always have a challenge in our lives. Challenges motivate.

God’s people have always been people of challenge.
· Moses was challenged by the situation in Egypt even before God called to him from the burning bush in the desert.
· Abraham was challenged by the Lord to move out in faith to as land that He would show unto him.
· Joshua was challenged by the walls of Jericho.
· Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were challenged by the great image and the king’s decree.
· Esther was challenged by the plight of the Jews and the rules of the king’s court.
· All throughout the Word of God, man and woman have been challenged.

I am quite sure that there were those who did not rise to the occasion. I am sure there were those that ran from the challenge. Saul was challenged. Judas was challenged. Demas was challenged. Goliath challenged the whole of the armies of Israel.

There is a story of a shoe company that sent two of its best salesmen to Africa. The salesmen arrived and began going throughout the area. The following day, one salesman sent the company this message:
“Bring me home. No-one here wears shoes.”
The second salesman sent the company a message as well. His message read:
“Send me all the shoes you have. Everyone one here needs shoes.”

Did the salesmen arrive in different places? No. Did they see different people? No.

In the same place, seeing the same people, one salesman was devastated and the other was motivated.

What will your challenges do to you today?

The disciples were challenged. We are challenged today.

What challenged the disciples?

When we look at the lives of men like Peter and Paul, we cannot help but wonder if they knew they were establishing guidelines by their lives. NO. I think they were just living their lives and doing everything they could to be saved and to meet the challenges presented before them.
· They were challenged by the Words of Jesus.
· They were challenged by the task before them.
· They were challenged by the opposition against them.

Have we lost our challenge?

Does our work for the Lord mean as much today as it did in the past?

Have we become slow and lazy in our work for the Lord?

Today is almost over. What we can do for the Lord today is almost done. Tomorrow, like a fresh blanket of snow, looms before us. It is a challenge to every one of us. Here is the wonderful thing about the challenge of tomorrow. It does not consider the failures of yesterday. The challenge before us does not care if this is your first time to answer the call. It does not consider if you have failed in the past. This challenge beckons us. It calls to us. We will lay aside the successes or failures of yesterday and move forward with the challenge.

The challenges or demands of the Word of God:

We are collectively and individually to be led by the Word of God. Just as David was challenged by the Word of God (hid in my heart) we are to be challenged by it. The Word of God demands certain things of believers, but not without giving us the power to overcome.

Many people throughout time have sought to do away with these Words, but in spite of all their efforts, it still stands. It still issues forth a challenge to all the ages. It challenges us to live holy and circumspectly in an evil and idolatrous world. It dares, no; double dog dares us, to live holy before the Lord, to live according to the dictates of His salvation.

His Word empowers us, encourages us, enables us, and excites us with its challenges. Just as the disciples before us, we must also meet the demands of the Word.

The demands of the task before us:

What is the task of the Church?

I am not speaking of the task of the individual. Our individual task is to live for the Lord. We are to live holy. We are to live rightly. We are to prepare ourselves for the world top come. While we are intricately involved in the task of the church, it is not our individual task. The task of the church is the task of the entire body of Christ.

While my toes are involved in the task of walking, my toes cannot complete that task on their own. Without my toes doing their part, walking is difficult to impossible, but it is still not the sole task of the toes to move us from one place to another.

What is the task of the church?

Jesus was speaking to His Church when he issued this challenge:
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

It is our task to reach the lost.

Look at the challenge. At first glance it seems it could be impossible. All the world … every creature

I worked construction as an electrician for thirty years. The job of building is broken down into sections. There is one building, built by several crafts, working together. The task of building is broken down into more manageable tasks. These sections are further broken down into different systems. These systems are broken down into several parts as well. Everyone doing their part, fitly joining together will build a building.

You .. save your house .. save your street .. save your workplace .. reach your family .. wrest your friends from Satan’s grip ..

Carry your corner.

We can win the world, one soul at a time.

The demands of the opposition against us:

He is formidable but he is not unconquerable.

We need to see the bruised heel crushing the head of the serpent. From the garden, this pronouncement of judgment has been his destiny. For all his roar, for all his ferocity, he is a defeated foe.

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

The two worst things you can do in a battle are to overestimate the power of your enemy and to underestimate the power of your enemy. Do not take him lightly, but do not give him more power than he has either. Jesus is ever able, ever desiring to give us the victory.

We are challenged by the power of the opposition as David was.

What has changed?

Has the Word changed?

Has the task changed?

Has the opposition changed?

Have we changed?

We must renew our challenges daily. We must refuse to be satisfied with mediocrity. We must resolve, not today only, but every day, to keep the anointing fresh, to allow the Word, the work, and the enemy, to challenge us.

It is hard to resist a challenge. Today, in the face of all eternity, we are challenged .. to win .. to work .. to live ..

One must face a challenge before one can become a conqueror.

Only challenges produce champions.