There was a high level of energy in the room when Pastor Brad called out his “Welcome” to open today’s service. In part it might have been the prospect of a seriously nice summer day with sunshine in abundance splashing off the wildflowers now in bloom along all our country roads. Or it might have been the enthusiasm generated by a successful week of Vacation Bible School, now behind us. Or, it may have been the Breakfast Roundtable which preceded today’s service.
A large cross-section of the church joined us early, from 8:15 to 9:15, for a Continental breakfast during which we were given opportunity to discuss a number if ideas and thoughts that might have a bearing on the future of our fellowship. Everyone in the church is welcome for these gatherings which will be conducted throughout the summer. Led by Pastor Shannon and Pam Johnson, each table was given the task of discussing three questions. There will be at least 25 questions for us to chew on this summer, with no grades or papers required. There was a surprisingly strong turnout for such an early hour, and it was a very worthwhile beginning.
Brad opened with comments about behavioral covenants for a community of faith. The Pam read the well-known Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25. All of this served as a good intro to the discussion which followed.
The three questions dissected today were these:
How, as a church, have we played it safe?
How do we use what Jesus has given us, right now, and multiply that to glorify God.
How are we becoming the kind of church that God can entrust with more?
Many good thoughts came from the discussions which followed, with more in weeks to come. You are all invited to join us as we strive to make a difference in our community.
After the pastor’s greeting, announcements included a re-cap of the very successful VBS this week. There were at least 50 people who helped as volunteers in one way or another and Brooke thanked everyone as she described the week. We took a risk in holding VBS at the Twig Town Hall instead of here at the church, and the risk was rewarded with a 33% increase in attendance/participation. We all thanked Brooke for her leadership and enthusiasm for this ministry.
Fathers were acknowledged also on this Father’s Day, after which Darlene played a beautiful introit to usher us into worship.
After worship, the offering, a reading from Galatians 3:23-29 and a time of prayer, Pastor Brad gave the message from I Samuel 17.
This summer Brad has been speaking about why David was a man after God's own heart. Last week he began to two part message on boldness. David had a heart that was bold, and his encounter with Goliath is one way to catch a glimpse of what made David tick.
Brad opened by reminding us of last week's insight that a bold heart doesn't "just happen" when we need it. David's willingness to confront Goliath came from a confidence he had in previous encounters and experiences which strengthened and prepared him for this moment. We learned that boldness is developed as we step up and confront everyday challenges.
The second lesson in this story of David and Goliath is that we develop this bold heart in the face of criticism and opposition.
Here's the setup. Goliath, a nine foot giant, has laid down a challenge to the armies of Israel. "Send out one man to fight me. Which ever side loses will serve the other." The challenge included taunts and mocking as Goliath defied the cowering Israelites. Since no one was stepping up to take on the giant, Saul began to incentivize the deal, offering not only great wealth but also his daughter's hand in marriage and a lifetime tax exemption for his father's family. Pretty good deal.
David shows up on the scene not as a soldier but to deliver food to the army. When he see what is going on he asks, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" The situation was explained by some of the men there, but his older brother essentially said, "What are you doing here?" and chastened for leaving the sheep as well as questioning his motives.
Brad brought out an interesting point. Goliath had been challenging the Israelite army now for forty days. Each day that Goliath taunted Israel, the men's hearts shrank a little more, their confidence wilted a little more. David's older brother, Eliab, spoke harshly to David because he no doubt did not want his younger brother to see how cowardly he had become.
When you cower to your Goliath, it corrodes your self-respect. It makes you ashamed.
David's response is noteworthy. David doesn't argue with Eliab. He doesn't hit him with his slingshot. He does agree with him. He simply turns away and continues with his mission.
Sometimes criticism is accurate and we need to take it to heart. But sometimes it is off base and we should not give it an inch. Don't let criticism cause you to lose heart, Brad said.
The third key to having a bold heart is to resist pressure to conform.
When David saw what was going on he offered to be the man to take down Goliath. Saul first had to be persuaded, since David appeared to be too young for this challenge. David's courage showed through and Saul not only gave him permission to represent Israel, he also gave David his armor to wear.
Saul was head and shoulders taller than anyone in Israel and his armor was way too cumbersome for David. This is where David revealed yet more courage. He did not conform to the typical way soldiers fought, with shields and swords and armor. David had to do it his own way. He removed the armor and went to the creek to select five smooth stones. It would be him and God against the giant Philistine.
So it is in our own battles. What works for someone else may not be the way for us. No one else can do it for you. You have to lean hard on God and do battle, with a bold heart.
Whether it is parenting or life, there are all kinds of books people might suggest. But the real question is, Will you be bold enough to stand for God.
When Goliath saw the young David coming at him, his trash talking began in earnest.
43 He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"
David's whole life had led to this moment, and this was his reply:
45 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
A moment later, with a single stone to the forehead, Goliath was out. Brad jokingly noted someone's comment that Goliath's last thought was, "Nothing like this ever entered my mind."
What God did for David, He can do for you. If you let Goliath intimidate you, you will die inside a little bit every day. Trust God and be bold.