Reaching The Edge of The Wilderness

Reaching the Edge of the Wilderness

If you take the lessons and introspections of the wilderness seriously you will eventually find yourself at the edge of the wilderness. That place where you can finally see what is waiting for you beyond the horizon, that place you know as your calling and purpose in life. For some it’s ministry, others business, or another type of career. No matter what it is this is the place where you can finally see what you only hoped could be possible one day.

It’s that place where promises get fulfilled where you can finally enjoy the benefits and added responsibilities of becoming who God created you to be. For some this could be a paid position at a church, others a place on the mission field, or a job teaching, or even serving in any other capacity. The years of grief, training, apprenticeship, seeming futility, small victories and painful growth are finally about to bloom into something wonderful. Something that you have hoped for and simultaneously expected to never actually happen.

It’s that place where promises get fulfilled where you can finally enjoy the benefits and added responsibilities of becoming who God created you to be.

With David this was the place he found himself in during the last months of his trek through the wilderness avoiding the persecution of Saul. So many years had gone by since his original anointing and commissioning by Samuel as a teenager. Now the process of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation were about to culminate in the season of Announcement.

Finding Comfort in Unexpected Places

The path to ministry, or any calling from God for that matter is never just a clear trajectory from point A to point B. Often God will take us through twists, turns and unexpected detours not to punish us or hold us back but to give us what we need to flourish in our callings.

The path to ministry, or any calling from God for that matter is never just a clear trajectory from point A to point B.

David faced an unexpected turn in his strategic retreat from king Saul, as he found himself serving a Philistine ruler named Achish the king of Gath. This same ruler that David pretended to be insane in front of years ago (1 Samuel 21:12-14), but since seems to have come to an understanding with. David received a home called Ziklag (1 Samuel 27:6) in exchange for him and his forces protecting the Philistines south-eastern territory from the Amalekites and other rogue tribes (1 Samuel 27:8).

On the surface David seemed to have sided with the same people who regularly raided his tribe’s territory and sent the likes of Goliath against his people. Yet by serving this Philistine king as a mercenary he also fulfilled a task which also benefited the tribe of Judah as well (1 Samuel 27:10), by keeping Israel’s ancient enemy the Amalekites (Numbers 14:43-45, Deuteronomy 25:17, Judges 6:3, 1 Samuel 14:48, 15:18) at bay deep in the southern wilderness.

What we see play out here in this story of David is how the path to our destination will sometimes take us to unexpected places. These paths seem to be taking us in the opposite direction from our calling but actually are preparing us in a way we didn’t expect. I had a season like this myself, for about three years I had a second job where I wrote investment articles about Canadian stocks. It wasn’t something I was particularly passionate about and at the time I was more focused on working on the home group curriculum and other sider project at the church I was attending.

These paths seem to be taking us in the opposite direction from our calling but actually are preparing us in a way we didn’t expect.

During this season I was writing four to five 3,000 word articles each week and it taught me how to present otherwise unexciting information in an interesting and concise way. It was an education I probably couldn’t have received anywhere else and it prepared me for what I’m doing now with my books and the regular content on my website. It was the polar opposite of what I wanted to do with my time and ministry but in the long-term it was one of the best things I could’ve done with my time back then.

The experience helped me pay off my mortgage quicker, it gave me the skills to write entire term papers in a day (without sacrificing my GPA), and how to structure information in a way which helped me greatly in writing my books. But that job was only for a season and many of you will face the same unexpected twists and turns in your journey as well. You just have to be willing to accept and recognize these detours and to do the best job possible at them because later on you’ll see how those unexpected places helped you become who God wanted you to transform into.

Typically, you’ll know this season of detouring and unexpected travels comes to an end because you’ll swiftly be kicked out of the nest so to speak. With my stock writing this came in the form of cutbacks which reduced the minimum payments for my articles to the point where it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. With David this came in the form of the other Philistine kings dismissing David and not allowing him to march with their army (1 Samuel 29:4-7).

While on the one hand the other Philistine rulers wanted nothing to do with David, Achish still recognized the faithfulness of David and had nothing bad to say about him (1 Samuel 29:3). Just because you’re in this place that feels nowhere near the place of your eventual ministry it doesn’t give you a license to do a poor job or to not be faithful in doing it. David remained faithful even in serving Achish and ensured his reputation was not eroded by his actions during a less that favorable point in his life.

Facing The Last Ditch Attacks of the Enemy

After being dismissed from the Philistine’s army David and his 600 men returned to their home in Ziklag, but instead of finding their families waiting joyously for them they returned to smoke, ashes and silence (1 Samuel 30:3). In an instant everything was gone their wives, children, flocks and possessions were nowhere to be seen. It was that feeling of abandonment by God and hopelessness which many of us have faced at one point or another. You walk into your place of comfort only to find everything torn down and left in ruin.

Those who followed David went from faithful companions to near mutiny, where they wanted revenge by killing David because of their loss (1 Samuel 30:6). The Amalekites struck knowing that the Philistines and Israelites were too busy fighting each other to protect their southern frontiers. This also could have been done out of revenge for David’s earlier attacks on them (1 Samuel 27:8). Either way David’s enemy had struck leaving him and his followers broken and at the point of despair.

We have to understand that our enemy is also an opportunist who lives at the edges of our own lives, looking for moments to invade and carry away the blessings God has given to us.

We have to understand that our enemy is also an opportunist who lives at the edges of our own lives, looking for moments to invade and carry away the blessings God has given to us. Satan always attacks hardest right before you enter into something new and powerful. He and his forces watch as you reach the summit of the mountain blocking your destiny and they wait just below the peak to stop you from seeing the lush valley of promise and fulfillment below.

They understand that the more successful you are at contributing to the expansion of God’s kingdom in this world the greater risk you pose to their own territory. In reality you are like David and his forces making raids into enemy territory and carrying off the spoils back to their own lands. The forces of the enemy see you as the great invaders who are coming to take their people away from them so they lie in wait for a moment where you are unprepared to resist their retaliations.

In that moment David lost everything, but he didn’t cower or give up but instead rose up and sought out God’s will in that situation (1 Samuel 30:7-8). Upon receiving the green-light from God David lead his forces to take back all that was lost. Days later David and his forces defeated the Amalekites and took back everything which was stolen, plus the riches of the Amalekites. David later shared those spoils with the leaders of Judah who supported him.

We must learn from this experience because we will have trials and times of failure and loss and we have to endure and push through it otherwise we will never recover what was lost and we end up drifting back into the heart of the wilderness and blaming God for our misfortunes. When we face these seasons of loss or spiritual attack, we have to come at it from the perspective of “I’m going to fight back and reclaim what was lost, plus interest.”

When we face these seasons of loss or spiritual attack, we have to come at it from the perspective of “I’m going to fight back and reclaim what was lost, plus interest.”

You cannot use these types of losses or attacks to discourage you from continuing in the path to your calling. Because if you throw in the towel, you’ll just become another beggar along the road or corpse in the ditch serving as a witness to all those who come along this journey after you, that “happily ever after” is not guaranteed.

There are struggles and battles that have to be won, and you can’t do it all alone, what would have happened if David left the six hundred behind and went off to fight the Philistines alone? He would have most likely ended up like the swordsman in Indian Jones, struck down without any real effort. Then all of the promises and anointing David received would have been made meaningless. You need to fight these battles with others as well, you need the support of those who are still in the wilderness and you need help from those who have come out of it.

The End Is In Sight

If you have proven faithful in the seasons of unexpected detours and the surprise attacks of the enemy, you’ll soon find yourself at the edge of the wilderness. The place where you’ve reached the summit of the immoveable mountain of your life, the one which said you could never enter into the fullness of your calling.

All that remains now is to walk down that mountain and enter the valley God has been preparing for you. The place where you are announced as being who God created you to be, the place where the anointing placed on you long ago manifests into an active calling, a visible platform, and the added responsibilities become real. To make it to this place you have to have learned how to benefit from the detours of life and you need to have developed the courage to take back what the enemy has stolen from you.

To make it to this place you have to have learned how to benefit from the detours of life and you need to have developed the courage to take back what the enemy has stolen from you.

Otherwise you still may find your way out of the wilderness, but you will be ill equipped and left with nothing but the proverbial shirt on your back. You’ll soon find out that you weren’t prepared and will have to go through the season of training and refining all over again. When we come to the summit of that mountain we don’t want to be like Moses who only received a glimpse of the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). Rather we want to be like Caleb who was able to enter into the promised land and take the territory promised to him, with a little help of course (Joshua 14:14, Joshua 15:13-17).

Just like the entire process of surviving the wilderness where you have to cultivate faithfulness, character and your relationship with God, exiting the wilderness takes even greater mastery of those matters. You can’t coast down the mountain so to speak because if you do you will inevitably fall over and impale yourself on a tree or fall off a cliff. This steady march down hill can be the most perilous part of the process because you begin to let your guard down and you try and rush the process because you are so close to the end.

This is where we tend to get lazy and “forget” the three great keys of 1) Go to Church, 2) Read your Bible and 3) Don’t Sin. Or we no longer see one or all of them as being important because we can almost touch the place of our Announcement into our calling. We hear that Saul has been killed and realize that in a matter of days or moments we will be made king so to speak. This is why we have to take the lessons, experiences and times with God we have lived though during the wilderness and become even more diligent so we can make it to the bottom of the mountain and receive our commission.

For those of you who do make it to the bottom of the mountain and are free of the wilderness, receiving your commissioning and having your calling announced to the world is not the end of the story, Next week we will look at the two paths your life can take once you have received the fullness of your long promised anointing.

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Creative Commons LicenseReaching The Edge of the Wilderness 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.


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

Be Ready For Unexpected Challenges

Be Prepared For Unexpected Challenges

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. However, this challenge is not always expected and more often than not we find ourselves stumbling upon it going about our daily lives.

Not every battle is laid out before us in advance and many times we will find ourselves stepping into the unexpected and then we discover why God led us to that place. We don’t always get pulled aside by someone and given a tactical briefing about something special or unusual that is going to happen that day which has the potential to reshape our lives. But that’s what happened with David he went about the mundane dealings of life and suddenly found himself standing face to face with Goliath.

This is the third part in my look into the life of David to help you discover how we to live you life after being called, commissioned or given a life’s purpose by God. Already we’ve seen how David’s heart handled the anointing by Samuel (Pt.1 HERE) and how David had the humility to serve Saul as his royal minstrel (Pt. 2 HERE) while still maintaining his family responsibilities (1 Samuel 17:15). Now we move on to the defining moment that launched David out of his season of Anointing and into his time of Apprenticeship.

God Combines Anointing With Opportunity Pt. 2

Not long after David became the royal minstrel Saul and the Philistines went to war, to fight over control of territory in western Judah (1 Samuel 17:2). Israel was trying to retain the land taken by the likes of Joshua, Caleb and Othniel while the Philistines were looking to push inward. However, this time was different it wasn’t just two waves crashing together in battle this time there were theatrics at play. The Philistines had their super-weapon and they were looking to coax someone from the Israelite army to agree to a champions battle (1 Samuel 17:8-9). In this battle the Philistines had Goliath, a giant (Anakim), and a descendant (or even a distant relative) of a tribe of giants disposed by Joshua’s conquest of the land given to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 11:21-22).

Now a champions battle which Goliath was trying to bait Israel into is when a conflict is decided by a single warrior or small group of representatives from each army engaging in combat to determine an overall victor. This isn’t that crazy as it does prevent unnecessary loss of life in a conflict, although it appears to be more popular in stories than in actual battle, however there are real examples of this from history outside of the Biblical account.

This is the part of the account where David comes into play. After several weeks of the Philistine’s taunting Israel David’s father Jesse got the idea to send some supplies to the front lines of the pending battle (1 Samuel 17:17-18). David’s three oldest brothers were there so Jesse (fun fact: the son of Boaz and Ruth) asked David of all people to bring some food for them along with some cheese for their commander/regiment, then return home with a report.

David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers. David and Jesse probably had no idea about what was going on at the front line with Goliath taunting and challenging the Israelite army. David was just being obedient to his father, even though he was king Saul’s personal minstrel and the next anointed king of Israel.

David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers.

The Face Of The Giant

Once David arrived at the front lines days later the reason God led him there became apparent. As David was passing through the camp after delivering his supplies he overheard the commotion coming from the Philistine side of the battlefield (1 Samuel 17:23). After hearing the words of Goliath David demanded to know what would happened to the person that takes out this giant. David even goes as far to say “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” in verse 26.

It becomes apparent here that David’s trust and relationship with God gave him the faith to speak these words and to do the things he did later that day. By calling Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” he was declaring that Goliath was outside of God’s covenant and represented no real threat to those who serve and follow God. This is why David called Israel’s army the “armies of the living God,” as opposed to the Philistines who only served idols and demons.

David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them. It’s the same with us today there will come times in your life where circumstances, opponents or even yourself will appear to be like this mighty giant that is taunting you to walk into what appears in the natural to be an unwinnable battle.

David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them.

How many thousands of Israelite soldiers where there from all twelve tribes yet none of them had the faith (Numbers 13:33, Deuteronomy 1:28) to stand up against this giant (aka Rephaim, Emim, Anakim, sons of Anak) in the same manner that their faithful ancestors did (Joshua 11:21, 13:12, 14:12-15, 15:13).

Giants are not immortal or unbeatable but they are difficult to destroy if we go out in our own strength and without God’s assistance. David realized this He knew that God was more powerful than any living or breathing being outside of the covenant. To David this battle was not impossible and perhaps he was even reminded of the story of Caleb and Othniel fellow members of the tribe of Judah who killed several giants 300 or so years previously (Joshua 15, Judges 1).

This giant wasn’t there specifically to challenge David, Goliath was there challenging every person who followed the God of Israel. It was an open challenge to each and every soldier who claimed to follow the God who brought them out of slavery and into this Promised Land. Often this is how many “giants” in our lives operate they are not always looking not attack us directly but are looking to attack or embarrassed anyone and everyone who serves God. They do this to discredit God in the eyes of the people and to lure people into thinking that the giant’s gods/demons are the ones with real power and must be served.

David was there that day to honor his fathers request to bring supplies to the front lines, he didn’t go to fight or to impress the crowds he simply did as his father requested and once he arrive an opportunity was there waiting for him.

What’s Your Motivation To Face Unexpected Challenges

After seeing this display from Goliath David asked what if any was Saul promising to give the one who silenced this giant. A soldier responded to David by saying that the reward would be riches, Saul’s daughter, and tax exemption for his (and father’s) family (1 Samuel 17:25). On the one hand this sounds like everything you would want if you were anointed to be the next king. Riches to solidify your position among the people, a marriage to bring you into the royal family and the added benefit of you and your father’s house getting tax exemption status.

Many people would jump at the opportunity to receive this reward alone, except in this case they didn’t. There was something all of the other soldiers were missing, they were missing God in this equation. To David these rewards were not the reason for him wanting to challenge Goliath, David’s motivation came from wanting to stand up for God, the rewards were just a bonus for his faithfulness.

If one of the other soldiers had taken up Saul’s offer and lost then the army would have had to stand down and serve the Philistines as slaves, conscripts and Saul would become a vassal or be executed. The risk was too high just to receive riches alone, which is why things changed when David arrived.

I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered. They want the riches and recognition now and their hearts are in the wrong place. Often they only realize this after they have been defeated, but many times that defeat has lasting consequences on them and on those around them. Just as if an unanointed soldier had challenged Goliath and died the nation would have suffered the consequences I feel that often the same thing happens with the church at large.

I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered.

Far too often we seek out money, fame, influence and lose sight of why we are doing the things we are in ministry. It becomes more about advancement and position and less about pleasing God and doing what’s right in His eyes. David stood up against Goliath because of the things Goliath was saying not because he was looking for a wife or gold.

Courage To Face A Challenge Invites Judgement

David’s inquiries into the possible reward for killing Goliath didn’t go unnoticed, David’s oldest brother Eliab overhead his little brother and snapped at him. Eliab said in 1 Samuel 17:28 “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

This is an astounding response from David’s brother because he knew who David was called to be, he was there when Samuel anointed him. Eliab knew full well that God had appointed David to be King of Israel yet he still responded in this manner. He took David’s questioning about Goliath and declared it as being prideful or just wanting to watch the battle and perhaps “play the role of a king,” or thought that David was hoping for to Saul be killed.

Eliab wasn’t alone as others mocked David as well, but this type of response always goes hand in hand whenever anyone has faith for God to do mighty things. Even Jesus received this type of mockery by the people of Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6). Others such as the prophet Jeremiah faced the same criticism from the people of his own home town Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21). There is always this repeating resistance to anyone who tries to actually take God, his promises and His words at face value and try to do something to fight back against these so-called giants and unexpected challenges.

It’s no different for us today, if we believe that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives we have to be prepared to face several things. We have to be ready for unexpected giants to cross our paths and we need to be emotionally ready for the complaining and push back we receive from others when we try to do something about those giants. It’s always easier to sit back and complain about the challenges in front of us and its comforting to ridicule others for trying to deal with problems we have no desire or faith to overcome ourselves. It’s that notion of settling for mediocrity and making sure no one else tries to rise above that level, because if they do then our excuses of why we never did anything about those challenges evaporate and we are left in shame.

This is where David found himself, he saw the giant and heard his accusations against God and his people, he had enough faith to ask what would come about for the one who wiped out this accuser and he was faced with ridicule. Were the people so far removed from the victories of Joshua that they no longer had any faith in God’s intervention, and what did they expect would happen if no on answered Goliath’s challenge. I’m sure eventually Goliath and the Philistines would have run out of patience and overrun the Israelite camp, leaving scores dead and the people in slavery once again.

Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away.

Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away. That’ll never happen, the only solution is to partner with God and stand against them. That’s what was in David’s heart He saw the giant, heard His words but unlike the other Israelite soldiers he had a firm grasp on who God is, what was available to him through the covenant, and how little a threat Goliath was in God’s eyes.

Taking A Stand

We can move out in the same faith today to see these unexpected challenges through the lens of our New Covenant and the power of God. We need to do this because if we don’t succeed in these challenges we will find ourselves in bondage to them and our anointing, calling and purpose will either become imprisoned or we will be forced to take the long way to our ultimate destination.

These times of unexpected challenges are the times when God proves to us that what He promised is real, they are times where our own strength cannot prevail and through these victories the next stages of our walk with God begin to open up.

Next week we will see how David faced this unexpected challenge head on and how it took him into the next phase of his calling. As he progressed from the place of Anointing to the place of Apprenticeship, because someone overhead David talking and rather than ridiculing him went to the king to tell him the news that someone was ready to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31)

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 LicenseBe Ready For Unexpected  Challenges Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

How To Live After Being Anointed

Last week I talked about the lifestyle David demonstrated which resulted in God recognizing the potential in the next king of Israel within him. David lived a life of worship and complete trust in God and didn’t do those things for glory or to be loved by the people but because he loved God and placed that relationship high above those other matters. Today we look at the aftermath of David’s anointing and how you too can learn how to live after being anointed.

God is The Great Door Keeper

Far too often we focus on how to open doors of promotion, attention, advancement or blessing according to our own strength and talents. We look for opportunities for advancement be it in business or even in ministry and we convince ourselves that “if I could just crack open that door all will be well.” We struggle and strive to try and force God’s will for our lives into existence and we picture ourselves as being pregnant with a promise so we push and push to force it out into the world.

However, the truth is that we are not the one pregnant with the giftings and promises which God has revealed to us, He is. It’s not about our own panting and pushing but it has to do with God’s timing and our ability to pass His tests that are laid out before us. We fail to recognize that our part is not of the expectant mother but rather as the carpenter trying to build a house for that promised child/destiny to live in. The promise is coming but it is not only up to you to bring it into the world, rather your job is the make sure that your house is ready to take in the promise of God on your life.

He is. It’s not about our own panting and pushing but it has to do with God’s timing and our ability to pass His tests that are laid out before us.

We can continue to look at the life of David here, last week we witnessed David be anointed as the next king of Israel by Samuel, not in isolation but in front of David’s family. David had gone from being an unknown and uninteresting teenage shepherd from the wilderness of Judah and has marked by God to be the king of all twelve tribes of Israel. This wasn’t a “one and done” promise and David wasn’t officially the reigning king at the moment, time was needed for David to grow into that calling. He had to prepare the house of his heart to take in the fulfillment of that promise. How David prepared His heart is demonstrated to us through his character and how he lived his life following being anointed by God.

God Combines Anointing With Opportunity

Not long after David’s encounter with Samuel something began stirring miles away in the house of King Saul. Following his rejection by God, Saul found himself being tormented by a distressing (also translated evil, harmful, and tormenting) spirit that affected his sleep and mental state (1 Samuel 16:14-17). No longer was Saul covered with the Spirit of God (Ruach YHWH) but he was being afflicted and tormented by other spirits that were not God (and appear to have been permitted by God to do so).

Through his sin, impatience and fear of the people Saul had found himself subjected to the consequences of his actions, as the departure of God’s presence left a spiritual vacuum in the king that was filled by dark forces which would cripple his mind and life.With this mental and spiritual torment the king sought a solution to at the very least provide comfort during the episodes. One of the king’s servants recommended a harpist be recruited to help the king find relief, at that moment God sprang into action and moved upon another servant to recommend David to the position.


1 Samuel 16:18 “Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.”” (NKJV)


What became a problem for Saul was transformed into an opportunity for David, but David had nothing to do with it. We don’t find David praying for Saul to be afflicted with this spirit and we don’t read about David going to an audition to stand before the king. God had a plan in place to put David right where he needed to be to take the next step in seeing his divine promise come to pass.

This is on of several examples in the scriptures where God will confirm his anointing or call on a person’s life by orchestrating events to bring that person a opportunity to move towards that calling. David didn’t advertise himself for this position, it came because at that moment an idea popped into the right person’s mind and a mighty door was opened, a door which David could not open himself. This is unlike how it is today where distance is no longer an issue, even the space between Gibeah and Bethlehem was considered a significant distance in that day. For that servant to know of a person like David in an obscure town such as Bethlehem shows how God was involved with orchestrating this situation.

The King Plays For A King

One day and perhaps not look long since the visit by Samuel, Jesse is once again faced with uninvited guests to his home. This time it’s messengers from king Saul requesting the presence of his youngest son and newly anointed king, David. Can you imagine what was going on in that house in this time, first the head prophet of the nation is anointing your son king and the next thing you know the existing king has called that same son to court.

David agrees (not like he had a choice) to go with the messengers and begins his journey to Gibeah to stand before the king. The newly anointed king was going to stand before the rejected king. When David arrived he welcomed his task to play his harp for the king, he didn’t try to provoke or challenge Saul but did what he could to ease the anguish he was suffering from.


1 Samuel 16:21-23 “21 So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. 22 Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.” (NKJV)


David became a source of comfort for King Saul, which is astounding to us because David the one anointed to succeed Saul was humble enough to serve him in this way. David despite his anointing and Saul’s sins, still recognized Saul as being originally chosen by God and honored Him accordingly. This wasn’t just a one-time sign of respect but this reality followed David for the entirety of Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24:10, 26:9, 11, 16, 23, 2 Samuel 1:14-16).

David became a source of comfort for King Saul, which is astounding to us because David the one anointed to succeed Saul was humble enough to serve him in this way.

How different is David’s attitude than what many other people would have done in the same situation? The reality is that many people, including those in the church today would have probably done the exact opposite. Our response is typically to either to reject serving a king like Saul at all. Or if we did go it would be to either assassinate or discredit the king so we could finally take their own rightful place as king, since God has already anointed us to succeed that person.

It’s the desire to take what we perceive to be God’s calling or promise for our lives and try and force it into existence through any means necessary. How many of us would honestly serve Saul, knowing that he had failed and we were next in line to sit on his throne after he dies. Would you serve him faithfully or would you try and “expediate” his departure from the throne? This doesn’t just happen in business or politics but this methodology is just as prevalent in the church where ministry looks more like Game of Thrones than the Book of Acts.

Yet David did the honorable thing and demonstrated why he was a “man after God’s own heart.” He respected the position and previous anointing God had placed upon Saul, and David chose then and continuously over the 14ish years that followed to not murder Saul and claim his promise from God. David was faithful, honorable and trusted God above all else, if God said that he would be king then David trusted that God was in control and his day of fulfillment would come at the appointed time.

A Season Of Apprenticeship

Living a life that has been anointed and commissioned by God is just a fancy way of saying that God has reveled his purpose for you, so get ready for the season of wilderness and training. Anointing does not automatically bring us to blessing and fulfillment there are necessary steps we need to walk through so that God’s purpose and calling on our life doesn’t end up destroying us. It’s a process that takes us from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation and finally to Announcement, think of it as the 4A’s of your divine calling.

David is one example of these 4A’s, he was Anointed by Samuel, received his Apprenticeship serving Saul as a harpist and military commander, then came the season of Activation in the wilderness leading his followers and finally the Announcement came when he was officially crowned king of Judah and later Israel.

David isn’t alone in going through this process, we see the same thing play out with Joshua who apprenticed under Moses, Elisha who apprenticed under Elijah, Paul and apprenticed under Barnabas and Timothy who apprenticed under Paul. It’s a necessary progression that helps us to fully mature and live out the call of God in our lives. What good is it having an anointing if it’s never released into the world and brings about God’s purpose for it. All of that happens in the seasons of apprenticeship, activation and announcement.

Jesus’s Expectations On The Anointed

Jesus has made it abundantly clear throughout the gospels about how he expects us to live, as not just ordinary believers but also for those in ministry and leadership. When we follow Jesus’s words we are guided to follow the example of David and to avoid our natural desires to do things our way, or the way everyone else does so. The task of opening the door is not our own our duty is to live a Christlike life and to develop the fruits of the spirit so that when opportunities to arise our hearts are prepared for whatever happens next. At the same time we need the same humility David demonstrated in serving Saul so ensure that our hearts don’t become corrupted or we allow God’s promises on our lives to become a hornets nest of pride.

Just look at what Jesus’s commanded us to live like, and how we are to pursue not just leadership but the purpose for our lives.


John 13:14-16 “14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.


Matthew 20:26-28 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”


We cannot allow our jobs, ministry, callings, giftings or purpose to derail our relationship with not just God but with other people. People are not just tools or commodities to progress the manifestation of God’s promise on your life. They are your fellow brothers and sisters and no matter what God has called you to be you must treat them as such. You cannot allow your calling, ego, or self-prescribed vision of yourself to cloud your view of others or to think yourself higher than them. We each have a calling and a purpose but my calling or purpose doesn’t make me better or worse than another, we achieve different goals and tasks but we are all equal in God’s eyes. All God judges us by is not the size of our calling but by our faithfulness and the state of our hearts as we walk out that faithfulness.

People are not just tools or commodities to progress the manifestation of God’s promise on your life.

Honor Before Glory

Do you know what happened after David became the royal harpist, nothing, his heart remained the same. We even see an astounding and often over looked scripture in 1 Samuel 17:15 which says that “David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.”

Can you see what happened here, David the mighty hero and the great comforter to the king did not forget his obligations to his family. Despite his success and royal standing he still helped with take care of Jesse’s sheep, the anointed king of Israel didn’t outsource his responsibilities to his family. David remained faithful and didn’t allow his anointing or new found promotion to supersede his family.

Over time more opportunities presented themselves to David and because of his relationship with God and his humility of heart he was able to seize those opportunities and take another step in seeing his anointing and promise from God become a reality in his life. The same truth is available for us today, perhaps we should be less focused on kicking in every door looking for our promises to be fulfilled and instead we should be focusing on our relationship with God and the state of our heart so we can recognize God’s opportunities when they arise in our own lives.

So what will you do this week to prepare your heart for God’s coming opportunities in your own life?

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21<sup>st</sup> Century Christian beliefs which is <a href=”https://wp.me/p9Vo1x-a6″>now on sale</a>. Available in paperback (<a href=”https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1775369005/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1537399434&amp;sr=8-5&amp;keywords=cameron+conway”>Canada</a> or <a href=”http://a.co/d/cV5NkZd”>USA</a>) and <a href=”https://www.books2read.com/ConwayUWYA”>eBook</a>! 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 Live After Being Anointed Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.