(Note: this was written last Sunday, when the one I wrote that Friday was published. Eventually I will get on the same week.)
This morning, I listened to Allistair Beg doing a sermon on David and Goliath, and the phrase "one smooth stone" kept coming to mind. So I followed.
You see, we are like Israel (AKA the army of the Living God). We get stuck in the mud of fear when we don't see the big picture (one army with God vs one army without God), because all we see is ourselves and the 9-foot giant in front of us. The lesson in David's story was that Goliath was NEVER the problem. To see what WAS, let me then move to where I went next, my morning reading in the book of Jude.
Jude was talking about false teachers, but he sets it up with three problems we have, personalized in three people that tried to follow God their way and failed.
11 Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.
Now Jude started his exposition out with three other examples that tie into those three- and when I'm done tying, you'll see where this is going for you:
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that he[b] who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; 7 just as Sodom and Gomor′rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones.
So what do we have here? We have three groups of "soldiers in the army of the Living God". One group, the Cain group, they are like the people coming out of Egypt, and like those that "revile the glorious ones." The basic problem is they followed, but they DID NOT believe. They didn't have faith, so when the great obstacle came, they said, "I can't challenge THAT."
Then we have the Balaam group, the Sodom and Gomorrah group, the defile the flesh group. The key to this group is the phrase "abandon themselves for the sake..." Where the first group followed but didn't believe, this group follows only themselves and their own lusts. They look at Goliath and say, "I have better things to do."
The third group is the Korah group, the "angels" group,the reject authority people. They are the ones who look at the problem, know better what to do, and do the wrong thing anyway, just to be defiant. They look at their Goliath and say, "I'm not challenging him, YOU challenge him."
But along comes David, and what did he have?
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 deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, 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.’
David threw off the Cain soldiers because he had faith; he threw off the Balaam soldiers by showing it was zeal for God and not lust for himself that guided him; and he threw off the Korah soldiers by being obedient to God. He picked up five smooth stones and faced the "great obstacle".
Jude gives us an idea about the five smooth stones we could be using in the latter part of his letter.
20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And convince some, who doubt; 23 save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
1- Build up your faith. How? Practice it. Use it. Read your Bible, attend your Church, listen to Godly men, and act on your faith. It's a muscle that must be worked out to strengthen.
2- Pray in the Holy Spirit. How do you do that? Here's how, from GotQuestions?.org:
The Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” “in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.” Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to how we are praying. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for. Romans 8:26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
Get it? Not praying in our will, for what we want- praying in God's will, FOR God's will to be done. It takes time, solitude, concentration- and letting go so the Spirit can have his say.
3-5: The final three are all about how you share the faith with others. Learn to differentiate, because not everyone needs to be shown "hellfire and brimstone". Be encouraging- "merciful" is the word my Bible uses- to those who are 'on the edge'. Some you have to 'snatch from the fire', as in an intervention to show them what's wrong in their lives; and some you have to just pray for, so that you yourself don't get stained with their sin.
Bottom line, the bag of faith contains the stones Build, Pray, and Share. And it only took one to fell Goliath. Because he's not the problem. David wasn't focused on Goliath, he was focused on God's victory over the army BEHIND him. Do you have a goliath? Maybe you need to stop looking at it as Cain, Balaam, and Korah did, and see it as David did.