How The Faithful Overcome Challenges

As we’ve seen over the past few weeks the life of David so far has been a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. From his anointing by Samuel, to defeating Goliath all the way to having Saul hurl spears at him. The picture we are seeing through David’s life is one where someone who is anointed and faithful overcomes obstacles and challenges. How we face these challenges and trials ends up proving not just to God but ourselves that we can actually accomplish the great things God has planned for us in our lives.

We need to get one thing straight right off of the bat, being anointed or having God’s favor is not a free-pass to a trouble free life where you just float around and everything falls into your lap. We need to understand and accept the idea that “anointing equals work,” we see this play out in the lives of not just David but also Joseph, Abraham, Moses and Paul. These were all people who were called and commissioned by God but they had to put in the effort to see the benefits of God’s promises become a reality.

Being anointed or having God’s favor is not a free-pass to a trouble free life where you just float around and everything falls into your lap.

Moses didn’t deliver Israel while he was shepherding in Midian, Abraham didn’t become the father of the covenant because he decided to stay in Ur, Joseph wasn’t promoted because he grumbled and complained while doing as little work as possible, and Paul didn’t become the great apostle by remaining in Damascus to meditate on his encounter with Jesus. All of these people had to not just put in the work but they had to struggle through the difficult times.

Don’t you think Moses would of preferred to not lead a people that complained the way the exilic Israelites did, or do you think Abraham would of preferred to stay in the metropolitan hub of Ur. Or what about Joseph I’m sure he would have been happier not being in the prison for those years, and I bet Paul didn’t want to postpone the launch of his evangelistic association by an entire decade so he can go back to Tarsus.

This concept of anointing equals work is not the exclusive property of those during the Biblical era it is something we deal with also right here and right now under the New Covenant. No matter how much faith or grace we have there will still be struggles to face and walls of impossibility which will pop up on our path towards God’s purpose for our lives.

So  we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter difficulties, slow-downs, detours, challenges or the like because it is in these frustrations that God is trying to refine us so we can become someone better. Not because we have the natural means to do so, no rather we become better and more refined because in these times we learn to walk even closer to God, and the closer we are to him the better we will recognize the answers to our prayers and understand the miracles he is doing all around us.

This concept of anointing equals work is not the exclusive property of those during the Biblical era it is something we deal with also right here and right now under the New Covenant. No matter how much faith or grace we have there will still be struggles to face and walls of impossibility which will pop up on our path towards God’s purpose for our lives.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter difficulties, slow-downs, detours, challenges or the like because it is in these frustrations that God is trying to refine us so we can become someone better. Not because we have the natural means to do so, no rather we become better and more refined because in these times we learn to walk even closer to God, and the closer we are to him the better we will recognize the answers to our prayers and understand the miracles he is doing all around us.

Jealousy Leads To Hatred

David faced many of these seasons of challenges and trials but each one was allowed by God to advance and refine David into a person who could be a true King over the people. So that brings us to 1 Samuel 18 where David has defeated Goliath and has become a key part of the Israelite army while remaining Saul’s royal minstrel.

As time went on the people began praised David in the streets saying how he had killed tens of thousands of their enemies while Saul had only killed thousands. This isn’t a literal number but rather it shows how the people saw David as the greater warrior and protector of Israel. They no longer saw Saul who was head and shoulders taller than the rest as their mighty warrior and this also lead them to believe that God was showing more favor to David than to Saul.

Last week we saw how a deep jealousy started to take hold of Saul’s heart and now we witness how that jealousy transformed into hatred and culminated in a murderous desire. In Saul’s eyes David was no longer the poor shepherd boy that played the harp but rather his competition for the love and support of the people. Everything Saul had built and the lives of his children hung in the balance, David was seen as the usurper of the throne so Saul in one of his fits tried to deal with his problem.


1 Samuel 18:9-10 “Now the distressing spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing music with his hand. 10 Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence; and he drove the spear into the wall. So David fled and escaped that night.


Saul’s fear was taking over his mind, Saul remembered the words of Samuel and knew that God had rejected him and it was only a matter of time before his replacement came looking for the throne. Seeing the prowess of David and the way the people praised and loved him it was not a surprise that Saul began to fear David (1 Samuel 18:12, 15, and 29). Saul also realized that “the Lord was with David” (1 Samuel 18:12, 14, 28) which meant that David was a strong contender to be the next king, since Saul’s only real qualification to be king was God’s anointing and Samuel’s recognition.


1 Samuel 18:14-15 “14 And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. 15 Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.


Honey In One Hand and Hornets In The Other

Now we come to 1 Samuel 18:17-27, here after seeing David advance so quickly in the eyes of the people and among the army, Saul came up with a plan to get David killed. Since the people would be in an uproar if Saul did it himself he had the idea to use his daughter as bait so David could be lured into a place where Saul’s actual enemies could kill his perceived enemy David (1 Samuel 18:17).

Unlike the promises that were given to the one that killed Goliath, Saul didn’t allow his daughter to marry David, and we have no evidence that any of the other promises of riches and tax exemption were ever given to David. Saul then decided to use this broken promise to his advantage. At first Saul offered his oldest daughter Merab as a wife for David but at the last minute gave her to Adriel the Meholathite (this would have dire consequences years later in 2 Samuel 21:8).

However Saul then offered his second daughter Michal to David, an offer which was financially impossible for David to accept. David was honest about his poverty (1 Samuel 18:23) and recognized that Michal did have feelings for him so David was in a difficult position, a position which Saul was about to exploit. Instead of a traditional dowry Saul asked for (how can I put this nicely) “trophies” from 100 Philistines. This wasn’t uncommon as there are recorded instances of battle trophies or victories being used as a form of dowry in the region at the time. Saul asked specifically for the foreskins because they were the only tribe of people in the region which didn’t practice circumcision, guaranteeing that David would fight only the Philistines.

Upon hearing the price to be paid and what was involved David didn’t huff and puff or file a grievance about already being promised a princess for killing Goliath. Rather David reacted in humility and didn’t back down from the challenge. This is a far cry from how many Christians would respond to similar situations where a bit of extra work is required to received what was already promised to you. David didn’t grumble and complain but recognized the prize that was available and went our happily to earn that prize.

Upon hearing the price to be paid and what was involved David didn’t huff and puff or file a grievance about already being promised a princess for killing Goliath. Rather David reacted in humility and didn’t back down from the challenge.

With the agreement set David and some of his forces went out and took not 100 “trophies” but 200 of them (1 Samuel 18:27). This wasn’t just about Michal but it was also about protecting the nation from this invading force. Then to Saul’s surprise David returned with double of what was asked for him, so he was forced to allow David and Michal to marry. David went above and beyond what was asked of him, not because he was commanded it but he saw not just the short-term blessing but the long-term results from faithfully doing what he was called to do.


1 Samuel 18:28-30 “28 Thus Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him; 29 and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually. 30 Then the princes of the Philistines went out to war. And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed.”


However that victory alone didn’t guarantee that David and Michal lived happily ever after. Years later David took a second wife named Abigail (1 Samuel 25:39-42) because Saul took Michal away for a time and gave her to another man (1 Samuel 25:44), and then there was the affair with Bathsheba. Michal herself later became the wife who criticized David for dancing unashamedly before the ark (2 Samuel 6:18-23).

It is also ironic that the plot Saul used to try and kill David is essentially the same thing David did to Uriah years later as well, as he was also sent into an unwinnable battle, but unlike David he did not survive (2 Samuel 11:15).

Faith To Continue On Despite Opposition

What do we do with this story? I know most of you don’t have a king offering a princess in exchange for fighting an army of Philistines. However what is playing out here is how God is able to take the plan of an enemy and turn it into either a blessing or to propel you further into your calling. Marrying Michal as we see didn’t transform David into a king, but the challenge before him was used to test his heart to see if he would be faithful and to see if he was willing to do what was necessary to receive the prize.

At different points of our lives we too will face a similar situation where something impossible for us to attain is placed within reach but we need to take action to receive it. At times its an opportunity at your job, or it’s a natural blessing either way we need to be ready to walk hand in hand with God to do our part to receive it. We do this through action combined with prayer and we need to be honest with ourselves that it’s never one or the other.

We need to have a lifestyle of prayer and then take what God has shown us and put our feet to the floor and run towards it.  It’s not always easy, just look at the lives of those I mentioned earlier the likes of Abraham, Moses, Joseph and Paul. It took work and effort in combination to their relationship with God for mighty things to take place in their lives.

Action combined with prayer is just one part of this process we also need faith and its ultimate expression which is faithfulness. Faithfulness is the key in God’s eyes because God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) just because things don’t look so great today doesn’t mean that God isn’t leading you to a place which is.

Faithfulness is the key in God’s eyes because God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) just because things don’t look so great today doesn’t mean that God isn’t leading you to a place which is.

Trials and spiritual battles such as these encourages us to have faith for greater things and it shows us that God leads us through trials at times because there is a blessing or promotion waiting for us on the other side of the battlefield. A blessing or promotion which would have been otherwise unattainable if we just continued to coast by and avoided the challenges God was brining (or allowing to come) to our lives.

The Christian life is one of movement where God is constantly leading us to different places (emotionally, spiritually or physically) just as a shepherd leads his flock from pasture to pasture. There is no wormhole which takes you from one part of God’s map to the farthest edges of it in an instant. This path is there for a reason so that your life has a direction which was prepared by someone else in anticipation of you walking along it later on.

We are not just wandering the virgin forests of the world with no paths or direction to follow. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us as a grand compass for our lives to carry us to greater things so the kingdom can be expanded and our lives and better reflect Jesus to the world.

Team’s Bring Victory Over Challenges

But we can’t do this alone, did you notice in this story that David didn’t go alone to fight those Philistines, he brought others with him. It would have been impossible for David to accomplish this task and his entire life’s calling for that matter alone and without any help. While some may see David’s life at this point as a series of broken promises and unnecessary victories I rather see this as David’s season of recruitment. During this time the likes of Jonathan and Michal sided with David and protected him from their father. David also made relationships with his fellow soldiers who would follow him into the wilderness and later the royal court years later.

We must understand this point above all others, God created us in and for community so that we can help each other accomplish the great things God has planned for us. People may come and go from your life but at different seasons God will bring about the perfect people to help you in your life, and conversely, he will bring you to other people so they can be helped in their battles against the challenges of life and the enemy. There will be days where you are playing the role of David and there are days where you will play the role of the unnamed soldier who helped David achieve a victory. In both cases you must remain humble, full of faith, devoted to prayer/relationship with God and ready to take action.

There will be days where you are playing the role of David and there are days where you will play the role of the unnamed soldier who helped David achieve a victory.

This story recounts just one victory for David and it didn’t cancel out what was going to happen next, actually it made things worse. However, God was involved here and He was preparing David to grow into the next phase of his calling the season of wilderness and activation. At the same time we can’t forget that David wouldn’t of survived chapter 19 and entered that next phase of his calling if he didn’t faithfully face challenges set before him in chapter 18.


Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (NKJV)


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseHow The Faithful Overcome Challenges Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Did you know that favor follows after faithfulness? It’s an odd concept but it carries with it a crucial truth which has the potential to radically change our lives. But first let me ask you this, have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one. We want the glory without a battle, and we want to enjoy the riches of work we’ve never done. This conflicting idea can apply to our natural lives but also (and more importantly) to our spiritual lives as well.

We need to understand that God is always watching and nothing is hidden from his sight (Mark 4:22) be it our actions, attitudes, beliefs or anything else for that matter. God is observing us and is looking not to strike us down in fury but He is looking to take us to the next level of our calling and relationship with Him. As I’ve talked about previously for the believer God’s judgment has less to do with vengeance and smiting and more to do with refinement, correction and launching us into our destinies.

Have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one.

Throughout the scriptures we see pictures of how the faithful few took God’s words seriously and lived accordingly. Those such as Abraham and Moses who took their revelation of their part in God’s plan and lived faithfully while expecting God to do great and impossible things. They lived out their beliefs and in turn god brought about the manifestation of the things which were promised to them.

Where we also see this truth play out is in the life of David who despite being the next anointed king of Israel still endured difficult times. He went through trials and encounters that many people would of either ran from or would of fallen of the rails and did things their own way. I spoke last week about how after David killed Goliath he didn’t rush over and deal with Saul at the same time. No David was faithful, and he recognized God’s plan amidst the chaos that the nation was in at that moment. A decision that many not just in the world but also in the church wouldn’t of made, because they serve the God’s of advancement and self more than their Creator.

David in the months after Goliath’s defeat demonstrated a lifestyle of faithfulness, a lifestyle directed towards, God, Saul, his friends and the people he would one day lead. But before David could lead the people he had to go through his own season of Apprenticeship. Which is the second step in the process of the 4 A’s which takes us from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation to Announcement which is our full entry into our callings and destiny.

Now begins David’s Season of Apprenticeship

Following the defeat of Goliath David was appointed as one of Saul’s military commanders and depending on the translation this either speaks of a battalion of 1,000 soldiers or he was the commander over all of the soldiers from a particular clan from one of the twelve tribes. Either way it was a significant promotion from royal minstrel and shepherd and it allowed David to become a recognizable face in the nation (or a the very least in the capital of Gibeah).

However this promotion alone isn’t enough, being promoted is only part of the process in order for favor and the next step in our lives to materialize we need to learn how to be faithful with the opportunities that are presented to us.


1 Samuel 18:5 “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” (NKJV, see also 1 Samuel 18:30)


David learned in this season how to lead people in battle and how to inspire people to the point of them respecting him rather than fearing him. David would of learned the ins and outs of the kingdom as he witnessed Saul at work daily dealing with the matters of kingship and justice in the nation. David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

It is during these years that David built up loyalty with many of the people who would accompany and support him during his darkest days. It is during this season of training and apprenticeship that many of the key relationships that would define David’s life going forward were established. It wasn’t just about the singular issues of learning information, or demonstrating good servant-hood abilities but it was a combination of all of these matters.

We Need Others For Help

Once we begin to combine anointing with opportunity inevitably God will begin to bring people into our lives to help us through the stages of Apprenticeship and Activation. God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible, this applies not just to ministry but to what ever arena of live God has called you to. We see this with David as two of Saul’s children become close and very supportive of David rather early in this process.

God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible.

The first is Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son and the assumed next king of Israel, what is astonishing is that right at the beginning of this new season of David’s the two of them enter into a covenant with each other (1 Samuel 18:3-4). A covenant in the eyes of David and Jonathan is an unbreakable agreement sealed in blood which offers blessings and curses upon those who enter into it. The only way out is death and to break a covenant legally allowed the one who broke it to be killed by the other party with no consequences.

This wasn’t just a handshake agreement but a life long blood oath to protect eachother and it effectively made them brothers in a legal sense (Proverbs 18:24). God knew that David couldn’t succeed in what was coming down the road for him alone so He brought people into his life who could love, support and protect him along the way.

David also received support and protection from this first wife Michal who was Saul’s second oldest daughter. She protected David from her father (more on this next week) despite the risk and ensured that David could one day become king.

We need to get beyond the image that every believer is a mountain unto themselves with no real connection to those around them. It is this idea that “I can do all things myself” which is crippling not just your destiny but the callings of entire congregations. God wired us for community and being faithful will only get us so far in life. Notice that David was a leader in the army, he wasn’t a one-man army but lead others whom he depended on to win the battles. David had his soldiers and later his might men to help him through this whole process.

Faithfulness brought to David favor in the eyes of people and that same favor inspired others to come alongside David to help him. Later in David’s story we see helpers and supporters with him in the wilderness, in the capturing of Jerusalem and in many other places. The places where we don’t see people helping and supporting David can be seen in some of his greatest mistakes, such as with Bathsheba when he stayed home from the battle or when he called on a census against God’s will.

When we have supporters and fellow-workers we can achieve so much more than we ever could alone. As I said our faithfulness will only take us so far in our journey and eventually we will need to partner with others to see God’s purpose for our lives manifest in this world, and not just manifest but thrive, grow and reproduce.

It’s No Different in the New Testament

This idea of needing help and support is not just found in the life of David but we see the same process in the life of Paul. After Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he went about and began testifying about what he had encountered and how he had gone from persecutor of Jesus to a follower of him. Not long after the church’s leadership in Jerusalem sent Paul away where he spent over a decade in his own personal “wilderness.”

Eventually when the gospel had begun to take route in Antioch in Syria and opportunity for Paul to minister arose. But Paul was not alone he was sent along with Barnabas who was respected by the church and who could act as a teacher/supervisor for the former persecuting Pharisee. Despite Paul’s encounter he still needed support, oversight and help along the way to becoming the great Apostle to the Gentiles. What began with a teacher and student relationship with Barnabas and Paul eventually blossomed into Paul being able to “graduate” so to speak and go off without his friend.

Yet Paul didn’t go alone after he and Barnabas split up over John Mark but everywhere Paul went he had others with him as well. He had the likes of Luke, Timothy, Pricilla, Aquila and others who helped him in his ministry. He had help from Tyrannus, various officials, common people and the like who all supported Paul in his mission. Paul even had scribes and couriers to help spread his message around the Roman Empire. Paul couldn’t of done everything alone, he couldn’t be an apostle, tent maker, scribe, courier, ship captain, carpenter and so on all at once.

Is it any different with us, do we not need the support of others to ensure that we can become who God created us to be? Our personal faithfulness will only take us so far because God designed it that way to ensure that his body would operate as body where one part is dependent (but not subservient to) all of the other parts.

Where Does Faithfulness Come To Life?

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live. This is a life which lines up with our covenant responsibilities, it reflects the nature of Christ and it acts as a testimony to the promises from God we are holding onto. Those promises include the over aching promises from the Bible but also the personal promises and revelations which God has communicated to us individually.

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live.

A life of faithfulness doesn’t come all at once as it is better compared to a town which is covered in snow. Each flake is an act of service, obedience, humility, and faith which was carried out while only God was paying attention to you. Eventually these flakes add up and for those who were sleeping or oblivious of your life will eventually look out the window and suddenly see the streets and yards covered in snow and assume that it all happened at once, or perhaps it was some sort of miracle.

The reality is that these snowflakes built up upon one another over time and for the most part they were ignored until the moment the snowdrifts were several feet high and the streets needed to be plowed. Then did the other people take notice of what was happening, or perhaps that is when they woke up and looked outside for the first time.

When we pass the tests of faithfulness in the small things which are hidden from the crowds and influential people then and only then will God reveal those insignificant victories to the world.


Luke 16:10-12 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

Revelation 3:10-11 10 Because you (Philadelphia) have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.


Our personal trials will always determine the quality and severity of our public trials and when we cultivate faithfulness, and dependency on God when we are alone then we will be prepared for the greater public battles which will rise up against us, just as Goliath rose up against Israel and David was already prepared to face that challenge.

The Double-Edged Sword of Favor

A lifestyle of faithfulness eventually leads to a life full of favor, that is favor from God and favor in the eyes of the right people around us. It has to go in that order because if we are striving to attain favor in the eyes of people we will inevitably compromise or even sacrifice our relationship with God to attain that prize. That was the sin Saul committed when he compromised his position so that the people around him would be satisfied by being able to take the plunder from the Amalekites rather than obeying the prophet Samuel.

Having favor with God is about more than just making Him happy it has to do with our faith and how we reciprocates our faith with his own faithfulness in our lives. As we see in these verses from Psalms and Proverbs the favor God shows us in response to our faith, love, obedience and relationship can have a tangible effect on our lives.


Psalms 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. (NKJV)

Proverbs 3:3-6 “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)


Despite all of the great things God’s favor brings into our lives next week we will look at the dark side of having receiving favor from God and having people rise up to support us. This isn’t a topic to be feared but it is one which will prepare us to enter the third stage of the progression from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation and finally to Announcement.

For now though take time to pray and seek God so that you can recognize those small hidden battles and opportunities for faithfulness. That eventually those victories and testimonies will bring open up new opportunities in your life and to connect you with people that you can partner with so that the callings and destines of all of you can come to pass in this world.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseFavor Follows Faithfulness Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Transforming Challenges Into Victories

Transforming Challenges Into Victories

For those who have been anointed and have received a calling from God one of the greatest tests you will face will come in the form of discovering the skill of transforming challenges into victories. Last week I talked about how “those who have been given a call and purpose from God will inevitable find themselves facing a great decisive and unexpected challenges which will determine if they will continue down the path God has laid out.

How you face those challenges will determine if you’ll even take up the courage to fight your battle and see God bring about a mighty victory in your life. As we’ve seen so far in the past few weeks having a calling or anointing on your life is only the first step in a life long journey full of ups, downs, sorrow, joy and total dependency on God.

David’s Statement Of Faith

Now let’s continue to look at the life of David and pick up at the leading up to the monumental confrontation between the anointed future king of Israel and the giant Goliath.  If you remember last week, we looked at the arrival of David to the battlefield after he had been sent by his father to bring supplies to his brothers and their regiment.

David saw the hulking Goliath taunting the Israelite army into a champions battle to determine who would be subjected to whom. David unlike many of the soldiers apparently, demonstrated a willingness to stand up against this giant and stand up for God and his people.  At first David was laughed at and scorned by his brothers and passing soldiers but one person overheard David’s words and told Saul about them.


1Samuel 17: 31- 32 “31 Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. 32 Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”


In 1 Samuel 17:34-37 David recounts to Saul his previous victories against a lion and a bear, battles fought in secret upon the hills of Judah as David protected his flock of sheep. David speaks of how he killed a lion after he pulled one of his sheep from its mouth and how he grabbed it by the beard and killed it, a surprising feat for any teenager. David didn’t attribute those victories to his own military prowess or his great skill or strength but rather David gave all of the credit to God. This abundantly clear when we get to verse 37


1 Samuel 17:37 “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David didn’t attribute those victories to his own military prowess or his great skill or strength but rather David gave all of the credit to God.


To David, God wasn’t an ideal to him but a living reality, God wasn’t some far off entity who occasionally checks in on creation to make sure he didn’t leave the oven on. No, David saw God as an integral part of his daily life who was there to help him. This is a truth that became even more entrenched in David’s life after he was anointed. David knew what he was called to be and from that revelation he trusted God to preserve him long enough to fulfill that calling (as long as he remained faithful of course).

A Kings Battle

David was ready to fight this battle, but the irony here is that it wasn’t his battle in the first place. Here the person who should of gone up against Goliath wasn’t a pint-sized teenage shepherd but the King of Israel Saul. Of all the people in the Israelite army Saul was the closest match for Goliath in terms of size, we know this because 1 Samuel 10:23 describes Saul as being literally head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people who are estimated to of had an average height of around 5’3”.

Perhaps Goliath’s taunting was to lure out King Saul to fight this battle, to have the largest Philistine (between 6’ and 9’6”, depending on the manuscript) and the largest Israelite fight for control under the watchful eye of each others’ gods to see where the true power in the region rested. Even after weeks of taunting and challenges King Saul was content to stay in his tent and hope someone else would fight this battle for him. The shackles of fear had tightened around the heart of the king following his abandonment of God’s anointing and how he was failing in his duty to protect God’s people.

Even after weeks of taunting and challenges King Saul was content to stay in his tent and hope someone else would fight this battle for him. The shackles of fear had tightened around the heart of the king.

On the other hand you had David how was ready and willing to step up and fight this battle against the people’s enemy. Here we see play out a contrast of how two groups of people react to challenges in their lives. At one point both David and Saul were anointed by God but only one of them remained faithful and was ready to work with God to bring about a victory. We have one person ready to take up arms and fight while we have another who is trying to pawn off their responsibility but still maintain the credit for the accomplishment.

Don’t believe me then take a deeper look at what Saul tried to do with David. After Saul agrees to send his minstrel to fight the Philistine champion he tries to arm David with his own royal armor. At first this may seem reasonable but the deeper meaning here is that Saul may have been trying to trick the people into thinking he was fighting in the battle. Or another way to look at it Saul was trying to put his name on David and take the credit for a victory by proxy. Saul was looking for an easy way out, he didn’t want to fight but he wanted the glory from the victory.

But Saul’s armor was too large and cumbersome for David and he elected to go into battle without it. David refused Saul’s armor, he didn’t need Saul’s covering or protection because God was with Him. Would we make that same choice in our own lives, how often do we trust other people’s armor or position or power in place of God’s in our lives? It’s a temptation because it’s easy to trust more in things we can see or seem to provide tangible protection in a battlefield we don’t always see clearly.

The Time For Battle

After David refuses Saul’s armor he goes outside and finds five smooth stones from a nearby brook (1 Samuel 17:41). Why five? Some like to joke/point out that it could have been one stone for Goliath and four more for his brothers, giants who were later killed during David’s reign as king (1 Samuel 21:15-22).

With a shepherds staff a sling and some stones David was ready for the battle. At first this may seem foolish but David has already shown that he can kill wild animals with his staff and the use of a sling was actually common in battle in that era. Some estimate that a trained slinger (Judges 20:16) could launch a projectile at speeds up to 100mph.

Now the pieces were set and David was ready to face off against Goliath a remnant of the giants that were driven out of Israelite territory by Joshua and into Philistine territory (Joshua 11:21-22). Israel failed to remove the Anakim (see also Rephaim, Emim and Nephilim) from the land and now an old battle was about to repeat itself, but the players remained the same the forces of chaos would stand toe to toe with God and his covenant partner.


1 Samuel 17:45-47 “45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”


After making that declaration David rushed towards Goliath and hurled a stone with his sling and knocked out the champion who dared to curse and test God and his people.

Completing The Task

But the story didn’t finish there David went one step further and ensured that the battle was over.


50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.


How often to we fail to complete our spiritual battles, how often to we get a taste of victory and then go home without completing the battle? I feel this is a tendency that is common in the church today, we stick around just long enough for God to show up and begin to do something and we think that it’s enough and go home. We take progression and advantages which God has given to us but fail to see them through into victories and fulfillment of God’s intentions for our lives. We are content to knock our proverbial giants unconscious but are unwilling to “do the dirty work” and eliminate those giants from our lives.

We are content to knock our proverbial giants unconscious but are unwilling to “do the dirty work” and eliminate those giants from our lives.

Again we begin to resemble Saul, the giant is knocked down so we can all go home, amen, hallelujah. Saul failed in God’s eyes because he didn’t see things through according to God’s plans. He took shortcuts, spared the lives of enemy kings, acted as a priest to expedite the beginning of a battle and so on. We need to be more like David who completed the job without compromise. David ensured the victory was complete and left no room for chance, and even went as far as to use Goliath’s own sword to do it with.

We can’t continue to settle for half of a spiritual victories, it not good enough for God to only answer a part of our prayer we need to see things through. God is ready to continue to work with and through us but we have to remain persistent and expectant that there is more to a battle than just the battle, after the battle comes a victory and comes the spoils (rewards). Because if you are unable to convert your challenge into a victory you’ve only succeeded at inviting further challenges into your life. As I already mentioned the only reason there was a giant to challenge David is because Joshua’s army was content with a partial victory against Goliath’s ancestors.

David’s victory over Goliath was complete here and that lead to an even larger victory for the rest of the people. As we see in 1 Samuel 17:51 “… And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” Because of the actions of one anointed and willing servant of God the entire nation enjoyed a victory that day

If you are unable to convert your challenge into a victory you’ve only succeeded at inviting further challenges into your life.

It All Begins With Servanthood

David didn’t do any of this for his own glory but he instead did it to stand up for God and His people. From what we can tell in the scriptures David never received the promised gifts of riches, tax/service exempt status for his family or Saul’s daughter in marriage (he married Michal later but under different circumstances). But what David did receive was recognition from God, as David graduated from the season of Anointing and entered into the season of Apprenticeship, the second stage of the 4 A’s: Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement.

David took this victory as a opportunity to not claim the throne by force but to continue serving Saul and the people. Unlike most people who would of followed up killing Goliath by next challenging Saul to the same battle, David instead continued to serve Saul as both as a commander and as they royal mistral. David didn’t take this victory as an invitation to fast-forward along the progression and suddenly go from being anointed to being announced as king. David took this opportunity to serve and was faithful to the point of annoyance in Saul’s eyes, but in the eyes of God and the people he was growing closer and closer into the manifestation of his calling.


1 Samuel 18:5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseTransforming Challenges Into Victories Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

How To Experience The Goodness of God

How To Experience The Goodness of God

A core part of our relationship with Christ is rooted and grounded in our faith in the goodness of God. By that I mean we have a trust, love and respect for God which is built upon our knowledge that He is a good and loving God who is trying to restore a creation which has gone haywire. In the beginning we read repeatedly how God saw what He created as being good (Genesis 1:31). If God were not good and loving why would He have created a good and pleasant world in the first place?

He is a good and loving God who is trying to restore a creation which has gone haywire.

Unfortunately, that good world which God created was infected by the consequences of Adam and Eve’s actions. The world became corrupted, the nature of men and women was sent into chaos, but God did not change. God’s nature was not affected by the fall of man, His heart was not corrupted and the God who created a good universe didn’t suddenly become evil and vindictive. No, rather the good and loving God had been separated from His children because of sin. God’s goodness remained but that same goodness is misinterpreted as anger in the Old Testament because of the sin, brokenness and rebellion of the people. God wanted to be good and loving to them, so He poured our blessings upon them (Psalm 33:5) and eventually sent Christ.

We fail to understand that God’s anger or judgement is often a response to His rejected or abused goodness. This also applies to those who benefitted from covenant with God but failed to honor it. Be honest with yourself are you really that different from God in this manner, how do you respond when you try to love, bless, or help someone who just takes advantage of you, rejects your gifts or acts as if they are entitled to those things?

Why Is God Good?

This is the big question that many people struggle with, actually the biggest question people struggle with is “is God good?” We look at the chaos and problems of this world and assume that God is like an absentee father that doesn’t care how His kids are doing. This couldn’t be further from the truth God’s identity is rooted in Him being able to be the ultimate expression of good, to create good things and to show that goodness to those He has created (Exodus 34:6-7, Deuteronomy 6:25, Psalm 52:1, 100:5, Philippians 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:11).

God’s default setting is not “vengeance on my enemies” but it is “I desire to bless those who lovingly follow me and listen to me faithfully.” I don’t think God wants His creation to be bombarded with pain, suffering, disease, sin, death, poverty, brokenness, disappointment or fear. I believe that we through our own actions (and/or in agreement with the enemy) bring those things upon ourselves, then we go about and blame God for them.

Just look at the life of Jesus, what did He do throughout His ministry? He taught the people and undid the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus loved the people, healed the people, taught the people and provided atonement for their sins. God is not bi-polar, He doesn’t have an angry side known as the Father and a loving side known as the Son. Both are the same, both have the same nature, both have the same capacity for love, goodness and holiness. You can’t say Jesus is one way and God the Father is another, when you see one you see the other (John 14:9). Do you think God was upset when Jesus healed the crippled, or the blind man, do you think God regretted Jesus’s actions? No of course not because through Jesus we get an idea of how God wants to interact with humanity without the barrier of sin in place. That is what we see through Jesus, the Creator walking with the created, a glimpse of what God originally planned for us.

God is not bi-polar, He doesn’t have an angry side known as the Father and a loving side known as the Son. Both are the same, both have the same nature, both have the same capacity for love, goodness and holiness.

God is good, Jesus is good and the Holy Spirit is good, they are the Good Shepherd spoken of in John 10 and Psalms 23. Yet we ascribe all kinds of evils to God and see Him as the source of the world’s problems. I’m sure the people of Jeremiah’s day felt the same way, I’m sure they saw themselves as holy and pure but fell so far short of their covenant obligations that God had to intervene. Do you think God enjoyed sending Babylon into the Southern Kingdom? Do you think He relished the opportunity to kill the majority of His people (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11)? Of course not, but was it God’s fault or the people’s fault that tragedy fell upon them?

We need to begin to have faith that God is good and has blessed and favorable plans for not just us but the world in general. Just consider these scriptures for example:


Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.

Mark 10:18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.


The Goodness of God In Action

Going through all of this I don’t even think I can come up with an adequate definition for the word good which matches up with who God is. Everything we can come up with is far inferior than what God is capable of and when we begin to realize and accept that then we can begin to understand that God is Good.

The words used in the Bible for “good” are Towb (H2896) in Hebrew and Talos (G2570) in Greek. To get a better understanding of these words just look at how they are translated into English: good, better, well, goodness, best, merry, fair, prosperity, precious, fine, wealth, beautiful, favor, honest and glad.

Doesn’t this describe the promises of God given throughout the scriptures in both the New and Old Covenants? How often do we expect God to bring these types of things into our own lives? Or are we more concerned with bringing those things into our lives through our own work and merit?

How can we deny God being good to those of us who lovingly and honestly serve Him in friendship, holiness, humility, love and obedience? Just think about it, God answers prayer, provides atonement, speaks to us, does miracles, leads people to him, judges the nations, judges the church (Revelation 2-3), loves us, guides us, gave us the Holy Spirit, allows us to move in the power and authority of Jesus and genuinely cares for us despite our outward and inward circumstances.

Look at it this way, the land which the people of Israel were promised and lead into, was it a good land or a barren one (Deuteronomy 8:7-10)? It was described as flowing with milk and honey, it was a good land which would bless and sustain the people, but only as long as they followed the covenant. God didn’t bring them into the promised land to curse and condemn them, if that is what God intended then He could of just left them in the wilderness or in Egypt. God wanted something better for them, and for us today under the New Covenant we to have also been promised the goodness of God. Not just in the natural but also spiritually and with the greatest gift and expression of God’s goodness the cross, which brought forgiveness, atonement, justification, sanctification and adoption.

What all of this has in common is that for us to receive God’s goodness we have to be in a constant and life long process of cooperation and relationship with Him.


Job 36:11 If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures.

Psalm 107:8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


The Price of Receiving God’s Goodness

What we have seen so far is that the outpouring of God’s goodness in our own lives comes with a cost. We are to live according to God’s standards, desires, nature, love, holiness and justice. The more blessing and goodness God pours out into our lives the more will be expected of us to live a Christlike life. This is nothing new and we see a similar expectation placed upon the servants in the parables of the Talents and the Minas. They were each given a gift and at the end a reckoning was brought about to see what they did with those gifts. The faithful were blessed with more while the lazy and unproductive were reprimanded.

We are to live according to God’s standards, desires, nature, love, holiness and justice. The more blessing and goodness God pours out into our lives the more will be expected of us to live a Christlike life.

We see this type of story play out over and over and over and over throughout the history of Israel. God would bless, protect, restore or empower the nation/people then the people would take those blessings for granted and return to living in the ways of the Canaanites. It seems to me that we want the blessings of God but without expectation for our lives to change. We want God’s best as long as God doesn’t make us do anything. We want to live like the world yet at the same time witness the miracles found in the book of Acts. We want to do mighty deeds like Elijah or Paul but we have the heart of Balaam, the devotion of King Ahab and the character of King Saul.

Do you not think that God is watching your lives after He blesses you? We can’t assume that God is some sort of celestial courier that brings us a present then turns His back and leaves us alone until another order comes in? It is this type of thinking that brought cycles of judgment upon Israel. The judgments didn’t come because God wasn’t good, they came because the people rejected, scorned, hated, and were ungrateful of what God had done for them. He tried to love them but they continually broke His heart. God tried to lead them back to their covenant, a covenant they relied on for blessings but also casually ignored when it wouldn’t let them do what they wanted.

We want the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 but also want to be exempt from the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. We want sprinkles and rainbows to continually be over our heads but we also want to cherry pick which of Jesus’s teachings we actually have to believe and follow. You can’t have the goodness of God active in your life if you are unprepared to live the life God called us to live by.

You can’t have the goodness of God active in your life if you are unprepared to live the life God called us to live by.

Even back in the days of Joshua the people of Israel tried to get away with this. They took just enough of the land to get comfortable in and they settled for a fraction of what God had promised to bless them with. Do you know what God’s reaction was, He left them as they were, they abandoned the quest to receive the promise so God left them right in the middle of enemy territory (Joshua 23:13-16) and revoked His promise of totally taking the land.

Then over the next decades the people who had enjoyed the blessings of God became indistinguishable from the Canaanites around them, the covenant became a meaningless (with the exception of the people wanting its benefits), they participated in the terrible sins of their neighbors and it wasn’t until disaster came that they turned back to God. The people saw the clear blue skies and took advantage of their relationship with God, they ignored the winds, they ignored the voice and it took a mighty storm for the people to turn back to God. But then after the storm they got comfortable and went through the cycle all over again.

The Paradox of God’s Goodness

I think we see God move through the storm because we become so lost that it is the only way we can recognize Him. It’s hard to repent when things are going well, blessings are flowing, God’s favor is upon us but there are issues deep inside that God is trying to correct (and its not always sin issues). But we ignore those issues because everything is great, we stop praying because we have nothing left to pray for, we forget how Christ lived because it doesn’t seem to matter what I do because good days are hear and are never leaving. This is the goodness of God in action, yes, but it is also God’s judgment in action, the storm is never the judgment it is the result of unfavorable judgement.

God’s judgment doesn’t happen when we find ourselves in trials because those trials are often (but not always) expressions of God’s grace because He tried to get our attention during the good days and we ignored Him. The greatest tests and judgments always come on the sunniest and clearest days, because those are the days where we don’t fear the oncoming storms. Those are the days where our hearts grow dull, our ears become deaf, our eyes become consumed by what is in front of us and our relationship with God takes a back seat to the great things we have brought about with our hands.

The greatest tests and judgments always come on the sunniest and clearest days, because those are the days where we don’t fear the oncoming storms.

The goodness of God is a great thing, it is good to call to God for blessings (Psalm 84:1) but we must remember that we are always supposed to seek God’s face before we reach out for His hands. Then when God does pour out His goodness on us we have to be extra vigilant to continue living the life He has commanded us to follow. We have to be pressing in even harder in prayer, we must be continually looking deep within ourselves to ensure there is no rot or rust present. Yes, God can forgive us, yes God can renew us and how much greater will that be if it happens on the clear and sunny day (Psalm 125:4) instead of the day the storms came crashing upon us.

I fear that many drift away and/or reject God in the good seasons and don’t realize it until the storms come. Often the storms come to break off the dead and dying branches from the tree, yet at the same time the heavy winds only strengthen the healthy roots.

In John 15:6 Jesus is showing us how God protects those who are a part of His family, people have the choice to join with Him or to remain on their own. Those who choose and remain with God receive life and blessing while those outside are pushed out (Jeremiah 21:10, 24:3-6, 29:32). This happens so the healthy vines are not corrupted or poisoned, which could spread to the other healthy vines (Romans 11:22). It is a hard thing to speak of but there are times when God expresses His goodness through protecting His honest, faithful and loving servants from those that follow in name only (or bear the mark of covenant/circumcision but have no change in their hearts). Hear this though do not go about as God’s judge and condemn your brothers and sisters your obligation is towards seeking out the corners of your own heart (Luke 6:42).

Our Response

I fear that often we don’t see God as being good either in our own lives or in general, so many slump back into darkness and spiritual slumber and remain motionless and unproductive. God is a good and loving Creator which still watches over but it pains me to see so many people reject this idea (I’m speaking of those inside the church). We are called to be conduits of God’s goodness, love, holiness and message to the entire world and if we can’t settle the debate on whether God is good why would the world want to hear anything we have to say about it?


3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. (see also Amos 5:14-15, Micah 6:8)


In my time of prayer and journaling last month I was asking God about His goodness and He spoke of how we often miss out on recognizing His goodness because of our own ungratefulness (Deuteronomy 26:11). I asked point blank “God why don’t I naturally see you as being good?” His responses over a couple of days were:

“ungratefulness, life is about more than going from point A to point B, true progression happens when you value every step of the way even if your compass is telling you otherwise, to go forward sometimes you must go right (sideways) for awhile to get to the next path which will take you to your intended destination. Look around you, don’t get caught up in the leaves which all look alike but focus on the trees themselves notice their differences, their grain, their shape, study each one as you travel and you will learn more than you thought possible. Often my goodness is hidden in the details, in how one tree has deep groves in its bark while others have smooth thin bark. My goodness is found when you lean in and take a good look at the differences of the trees… You need to have faith in My goodness, just as the tree does not worry about the rain because of the stream so to must you ground yourself in the knowledge of my goodness towards you… Honor me by giving me time, honor me by taking my words seriously and honor me by concentrating on what I say long after I have said it, then you will understand my goodness… Rest and partake of my goodness, haven’t you figured that out yet, look at everything I am showing you, my goodness is your strength. You must embrace it, look at me as good and don’t see me as being far off or distant or ambivalent towards my creation.”

The next step for us to receive and witness the goodness of God in our lives is for us to first repent and cry out “God I accept your goodness and I repent for misjudging you and condemning our relationship. I repent for losing sight of our relationship and being ungrateful in the good seasons when I forgot what you have already done for me. I pray that you restore my heart and forge me into someone that resembles Christ on this Earth. I ask you to pour out your goodness, love, holiness and heart to me right now. I repent of ungratefulness, I repent of laziness and I repent for not taking our relationship seriously.”

Now after praying that prayer believe and hold on tightly to the revelation of God’s good nature and expect Him to be a living part of your life. And never forget these words:

Psalm 34:8-10 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

 

Creative Commons LicenseHow To Experience The Goodness of God Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

Surviving The Storm With Your Pillow Intact

Surviving The Storm With Your Pillow Intact

Do you know what it is like to have a storm raging in your life? That feeling of being thrown up and down, up and down, side to side from point a to point b over and over again? In this life we are not exempt from troubles, difficult times or the storms which rage physically, emotionally, financially, relationally or religiously. Each one of us faces conflict, pain, frustration, panic, fear, failure and the like but often when we are experiencing those things we lose sight of God in all of it.

We become trapped on the waves in our little boat of our life, calling, ministry and purpose and with all of the rain and wind trying to knock us over into the water it is easy to believe that God isn’t with us. We look at the storms of life and assume they are God’s judgments, or that He forgot to protect us that day or they are the consequences of meaningless actions like forgetting to pray at the same time everyday. It’s almost like the Christian equivalent to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but we instead apply it to God and call Him the Ornery Careless Destroyer. Where if we get the slightest thing in our life out of place or we miss a devotional time (or heaven forbid Sunday service) God will come with a mighty storm to blow our house away, and the rest of the town with it.

We look at the storms of life and assume they are God’s judgments, or that He forgot to protect us that day

We see the winds and waves and forget about not only God but His love and goodness, we feel the rain on our face and forget the very nature of God. We see things around us rise up to terrify or obstruct us and we forget that there is a way out, but we have to look up, high above the storm.

Terror on the High Seas

The disciples went through this very experience, in the early days of Jesus’s ministry they had witnessed countless miracles, demonstrations of authority, and acts of divine power in action. But one fateful night came about where after a long day of preaching and miracles Jesus had the disciples (and some others) set out on the lake in boats to cross it during the night. We can’t forget here that several of the disciples were experienced fishermen who grew up on this very lake, but that upbringing didn’t do much to help them that night.

Let’s turn to the gospel of Mark to see how this story plays out, I’m using The Passion Translation’s interpretation of this encounter because I want it to challenge how you normally read through this story.


Mark 4:35-41 “35 Later that day, after it grew dark, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 After they had sent the crowd away, they shoved off from shore with him, as he had been teaching from the boat, and there were other boats that sailed with them. 37 Suddenly, as they were crossing the lake, a ferocious tempest arose, with violent winds and waves that were crashing into the boat until it was all but swamped. 38 But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. 39 So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” Fully awake, he rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, “Hush! Calm down!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm. 40 Then he turned to his disciples and said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” 41 But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey him?”” (TPT)


What happened here in this encounter? The disciples (and other boats) were facing a raging storm in the middle of lake Galilee and they feared for their lives. As I said these aren’t all land-lovers, but many were hardened fishermen who were that fearful of the storm they were encountering. You can’t blame them it was pitch black outside, there was no coast guard to come rescue them and there was a legitimate chance that they could drown before ever reaching the shore line.

The people were afraid of what was raging around them, but Jesus on the other hand was calmly sleeping in the back of the boat on his fluffed out pillow. What did Jesus know that the others didn’t, what separated Jesus’s reaction from that of the disciples. Was it that Jesus was a really sound sleeper or was there something else at work?

I know it’s easy for us today on the other side of this storm to look back and ridicule the disciples for their actions. We weren’t there but we assume that we would know better, just like we would know better about feeding the 5,000 or the interpretation of many of the parables. Yet we say and believe those things but we make the very same mistakes under different names. We are still just as susceptible to reacting the same way the disciples did in our own lives and in our own circumstances.

We are still just as susceptible to reacting the same way the disciples did in our own lives and in our own circumstances.

I know what natural storms look like, I grew up in Southern Manitoba and throughout the summers I’ve experienced many massive thunder storms. The kind where the thunder shakes the walls of your house, where the rain is pouring sideways instead of downward, and where gusts of wind would snap massive trees like tooth picks. I’ve seen black skies in the middle of the afternoon, I’ve run from golf ball sized hail pelting me on my walk home and I’ve seen the sky resemble spider webs made out of lightning. Those storms were real, they were fierce, they were destructive and they were the same kind of storms that Jesus took a cat nap in.

Natural Storms Don’t Shake Heaven

We have to first realize that the storms which blow in the natural have no effect on the spiritual realm or heaven. There won’t ever be a lightning bolt so fierce that it singes Jesus’s royal robes. No amount of water can ever flood out the heavenly holy of holies, and the angels won’t be left homeless because of a forest fire. It sounds cruel but we must remember that our problems aren’t really God’s problems, however because of His love for us He does respond and bring us assistance.

A hurricane has no effect on heaven but He can and does at times calm those storm to protect his people whom He loves. We have to understand that God is not always responsible for the storms which come into our life or the lives of others. Yet through grace and covenant God has taken a responsibility over out lives. We just need to trust Him enough to follow through on His nature and love for us.

God is not always responsible for the storms which come into our life or the lives of others.Yet through grace and covenant God has taken a responsibility over out lives.

Jesus slept well because He knew the Father was watching over Him as His body rested. The apostles did not feel that way, they saw the natural storm threatening them and assumed that Jesus’ power was limited and that He didn’t truly care about. In that instant they assumed that Jesus lead them into the wilderness of the waters to die. They reacted the same way the people of Israel did when they wrongly accused and complained against God and Moses while in the wilderness.

You see great and mighty works can only produce so much faith in a person’s heart, the real foundation of our faith comes from trust and relationship. One can see a miracle and not know God’s nature or love and continue thinking and believing the same way they did before. Real change comes when a person has a revelation of who God is, the calmer of storms, the protector of lives, the shepherd of lost sheep and the glorifier of broken dreams.

Miracles are good but they are not the foundation of our relationship with God, Christ is, atonement is, covenant is, repentance is, new life is. You should desire to see God move in miracles, healing, prophecy and such but remember those are simply the decorations on the tree of our life with Christ. When we realize that then it becomes easier to sustain our hope in the middle of a storm, where all the light is gone and the memory of past miracles and victories become a mirage clouded by the pouring rain and screeching thunder before us.

Why Are You Still Afraid Of The Storm?

Let’s take another look at Mark 4:40 in various translation to make sure we see clearly what Jesus is saying.

TPT: Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?

NKJV: Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?

NIV: Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

AMPC: Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)?

The discipels had seen Jesus preach, and they had seen the broken people healed miraculously but they still did not know who or what Jesus was. They saw Him as someone who was powerful but limited, they took what they had previously seen and thought “well I guess that’s all he can do.” That is why when they faced the storm they assumed that Jesus was powerless, they had never seen Jesus exert authority over the weather before so why would they assume otherwise. Often we make this same mistake, we limit God by what we have seen with our own lives or in the lives of those close to us. We encounter a new type of storm and become unsure if God really has power and authority over it so we foolishly turn to ourselves for comfort and wisdom. Unfortunately that power and wisdom usually leaves us yelling out the same words the disciples did “don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” We could each replace the word “die” with our own words such as, divorce, bankruptcy, debt, estrangement, ministry, stress, suffer, move, fail, burnout and foreclose. We have to go beyond accusing God of not caring and instead look to Him the same way Jesus did as He napped.

Jesus slept because He trusted His Father, He knew that because God said to cross the lake He would arrive at the other side no matter what happened.

Jesus slept because He trusted His Father, He knew that because God said to cross the lake He would arrive at the other side no matter what happened. Jesus had that assurance that no matter what it looked like outside of the boat, inside there was nothing to fear because God was there in the middle of the storm. God didn’t block the storm but He restrained it so that Jesus would not be harmed. Jesus got wet, but He still slept, and when the fear of the people overwhelmed His time of rest then He proved to them why He was able to be so calm. With a word the storm ended.

What is troubling is that God’s people today no longer have that same type of trust. So it is no surprise why every rogue gust of wind is treated like our own personal apocalypse. No longer do people hold out their hands to God in the storms because they instead begin to worship the storm in the hopes that it will be appeased and move away.

We must always remember that no matter what God is there, but people no longer see Him as good but as the destroyer and hater of all. God protected Jesus on those waters, and because of that protection all those with Him were protected as well, do you think that has changed? Proximity to the Son brings us closer to the Father, the closer you are to Jesus the more unfiltered you begin to see God, and the more God gives to Jesus the more there is which overflows onto us His covenant brothers and sisters.

What is difficult is quenching the storms of the heart because they become ingrained into the identity of people.

Learn this truth: storms are nothing for God to quench, what is difficult is quenching the storms of the heart because they become ingrained into the identity of people. People set up shops and homes in the eye of the storm and a call it a blessed life, but eventually the storm moves on revealing the destruction which has always surrounded them, and eventually their place of safety is also consumed by the clouds.

Sleep Well In Any Storm

Jesus slept well because He knew God was there, he rested in the assurance that the Father was watching over Him. Despite the waves there was no real danger, despite the wind there was no real danger and despite the cries of those around them there was no real danger.

Wind and waves are not signs of God’s abandonment, they are merely casualties of the storm, God’s abandonment comes when people jump out of their boats and try to escape the storm by hiding under the water.

Wind and waves are not signs of God’s abandonment, they are merely casualties of the storm, God’s abandonment comes when people jump out of their boats and try to escape the storm by hiding under the water. There they feel no wind, they see no rain but soon they choke and drown, they drift to the bottom never to arise again because they trusted their own minds and strength rather than trust in God’s goodness and love. That despite the storms we face God is there to guide us home, despite the wind and the waves we will not be toppled over and despite the darkness of the sky there is always light waiting to pierce through (James 1:6).


Psalms 107:28-31 “28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. 31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (NKJV)


Everyone wants a testimony of great faith and perseverance but no one is willing to go through the storm to get it. In the same way people want to see God move through prophecy and miracles but never step out and give God the opportunity. Yes you will go through difficult times, yes you will have seasons where it feels like God is nowhere to be found. Knowing that we have two choices we can either jump out of the boat under our own power and drown, or we can grab our pillow and trust God to bring us through the storm.

You may get wet, your boat may be damaged, you may lose some cargo but you will endure because God is carrying you through. Always remember God will not abandon us if we make room for Him, so follow the model of Jesus who chose to rest in God’s love, character and nature rather than join in on the fear of the people who did not realize who He was or who was watching over that boat.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

 

Creative Commons LicenseSurviving The Storm With Your Pillow Intact Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.