The Water, River, and Fires Of 2023

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says,“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2.

In Isaiah 43, God talks to His people, the Israelites, as they begin a journey. After years in captivity, they rejoiced at the freedom to return to their homeland. But to get there, they would have to travel a long distance. Their travel would look quite different from ours — no plane to catch and no trailer to haul their stuff. So you can imagine the challenge this nation would face when they found themselves standing in front of deep waters or difficult rivers. Men, women, children, livestock, and all their belongings would have to find a way through these physical obstacles.

Though we may not come upon an actual river or fire, we will likely encounter obstacles in 2023. Notice how Isaiah says, “When you go through deep waters … When you go through rivers of difficulty … When you walk through the fire of oppression.” The water, river, and fire represent the afflictions, trials, and difficulties we face. The Bible makes it clear that it is a question of when not if.  The nation of Israel encountered these difficulties on its journey, and I think we can count on it too.

Thankfully, God is with us in our most troubling times. He is constantly working all things out for His will. And He has compassion for us. When everything else is uncertain, there is one thing that you can depend on — the promises of God.

The Bible is filled with the promises of God. From Genesis to Revelation we read of normal people that received the promises of God. When God makes a promise to His people, it will come to pass. What is a promise? A promise is a covenant or declaration that one will do exactly what one says or something will happen just as pledged.

As we get ready for 2023,  spend some time simply meditating on the promises of God. You might try focusing on one each week. Take a deeper look at God’s character and what He promises to those who believe in Him. Because no matter how prepared we feel, we’ll never be able to conquer our troubles alone. God didn’t just warn of potential problems ahead, He included promises to stand on in the midst of them.

As we head into a new year, let’s start 2023 prepared, so that when we face the trials of life we will stand. Undaunted by deep waters. Ready for rivers of difficulty. Fearless in the face of the fire.

Discussion Questions:

  1. God wants believers to know they are loved so much that they need not live in fear. Yet, this love relationship does not eliminate all fearful things in our lives. What are the things you fear in 2023?
  2. How does God eliminate these fears?

The Prince Of Peace

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6.

Peace is something we all long for. It is one of humanity’s greatest needs and desires. We struggle with fear of the future, conflicts in relationships, financial stress, health problems and so much more. In this day and age when anxiety is at an all-time high, peace can seem like an impossible dream. Good thing God specializes in doing the impossible.

Jesus came as our Prince of Peace. He is the only reason we can truly live peacefully with God and others. The peace Jesus brings is one that is beyond comprehension. It is a peace that comes from knowing that God has everything well in hand, even when it doesn’t look like it. It is a sense of well-being, knowing you are perfectly safe in the middle of trials and storms because you have something to anchor you. It is knowing that you are a child of God and as a result are safe, loved, and receiving grace. This peace comes from knowing your identity is secure in Christ and your destiny is sure.

God gives us the blueprint for dealing with our fears. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”  We should not deal with fears on our own, but rather hand our fear over to God and He will do the rest. During the day, keep God foremost in your mind. Remember that He is with you wherever you go. Don’t let your fears influence you. Rather, build your faith.  I challenge you today, instead of worrying about what may happen, to begin to replace those fearful thoughts with scriptures of God’s promised protection. The next time you are faced with fear, make a decision to remain in the peace that God has already given you.

The peace that Jesus offers is perfect, lasting peace. The night before He died, Jesus promised His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27). He also said to them, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Often, living a peace-filled life comes down to a choice. Choosing to rely on Him, choosing to trust Him no matter what, choosing to pray in all that we face, choosing not to be anxious, choosing to believe that He’s always with us and in control, and choosing to set our thoughts on the peace that only He can give.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Take some time to think back over your life. Do you notice any correlation between your submission to God and the peace that you have had? What is the peace that Jesus gives that is not like the world’s peace?

Midlife Blues

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” –  1 Peter 1:6-7

Can I be middle-aged already? Really? Middle age” has been described as that period of life that you never want to enter and you never want to leave. Midlife brings new insecurities and awakenings to long-dormant regrets. Many of us face empty nests and the prospect of, in effect, starting over with spouses. Many of us face the reality of aging parents and any fears or worries or responsibilities that come with that. And of course, we daily face the reality of lost youth, waning strength, and more difficult processes for maintaining health. Time moves a lot faster the older you get. Doesn’t sound all that good, does it?

Joshua 13:1 (KJV) addressed this subject: “Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” The “old and stricken” is not very reassuring, but it does remind us there is a lot left to do regardless of our age. Psalm 92: 14 confirms this: “Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” In midlife, as in every stage of life, there are things we wish we had done. Fortunately, Christ doesn’t change our past, He redeems it. He is faithful to do that. He does not judge us by our actions but by His own, freely given to us in love.

In midlife, Christ is a companion through all the worries and stresses. As we get more serious about our health each decade we don’t have the strength and energy we did at 25. But Jesus is as strong as He’s ever been, and wherever we have to go or do, He will go with us. He will never leave me or forsake me.

In midlife, we have the opportunity to transfer some of our hard-earned wisdom to those coming along behind us. There are younger people seeking their way in life that we can mentor or minister to. They will benefit from people who can share their life experiences.

If you’re reaching middle age, work to continue strengthening your relationship with Jesus. He’ll be always there, waiting for you. Imagine yourself in those days of thinning hair, stubborn paunch, creaky bones, and joints, callouses of hand, and scars of heart, walking closely with the Lord.  It will make middle age something to savor.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are your fears about old age? You can get wiser as you get older. What mistakes do you recall making in your younger days? What did God teach you? What would you do differently now?

What Are You Afraid Of?

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” – Exodus 14:13-14

We all have fears. Some people may be afraid of rollercoasters, sharks, spiders, or the dark. However, there are also fears that seem to follow us around on a daily basis. Whether they be fears of the future, financial trouble, health concerns, failure, or disappointment. On our own, we can find it difficult not to let anxious thoughts occupy our minds and ideas. However, when we rely not on our own strength but on God’s power, we can find that our anxieties and stresses do not overtake us.

In the Bible, and the Psalms especially, we can find many references to having faith over fear and trusting in God in difficult times. “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)  Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid…?” God has a plan for our lives and did not create us to be fearful: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7). When we have God on our side, we need not be afraid. With Christ in our lives, we know that there is hope for the future.

Look at the events that take place in Exodus 14. God has brought the Israelite people out of slavery in Egypt and is guiding them to the promised land. There’s just one small problem. They barely make it to the edge of the Red Sea before the pharaoh changes his mind and starts to chase them down. Naturally, the people are terrified. They begin to cry out against Moses, saying they should’ve never even left Egypt.  It was in this moment that Moses stands before God’s people and delivers perhaps the GOAT of motivational speeches: “…Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Moses had faith in God and His promised deliverance. He was reminding the Israelites that when God begins something He will see it through to the end. No king or people or group is a match for God. In the midst of their terror, Moses encouraged the Israelites to have faith in the power of God.

What does that have to do with our fears today? Even when everything around us seems to be falling apart and we can’t imagine how anything good could come from our present circumstances, God still moves, still provides, and still makes a way for His name to be glorified.

While you probably won’t completely rid yourself of fear, not this side of heaven anyway, it doesn’t have to control your life. Your reasons to trust God are so much greater than your fears.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Max Lucado says, “The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident.” How does one go about doing that?
  2. What can you do this week to diminish fear and increase your faith? 

God is With You…Every Step Along The Way

“ For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:17

A. W. Tozer once said that ”Always, everywhere God is present, and always He seeks to discover Himself to each one.” God is always there. Psalm 139:7-8 says, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.”

God is literally everywhere. He fills all space and time. He is with you every step of every day. Wherever we are, whatever our situation, God is there. When we’re in the hospital or at home, He is there. When the sun is shining or when it’s raining, God is there. God never changes. Jesus is with you—today, yesterday, and forever. No matter what you’re facing. No matter the sorrow past or present, He is here, grieving with us, celebrating with us, growing and filling us with His Spirit, and helping us take steps forward with hope. He never takes his eyes off of us. He never leaves us alone. He never forsakes us. Matthew 28:20 says, “…and be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

It is a mistake to think God is there for the really big things. He is there in all things. Maybe He spoke to the human resources manager who hired you. Maybe He caused you to pause at an intersection and miss an accident. Maybe He helped you with that calculus problem. Maybe He put you in the right small group that helped you grow. Maybe He was in that glorious rainbow glowing through the dark clouds after a storm.

Whatever you need. Whatever you face. Whatever is on your mind. God is there. You can’t get in a bind that God can not get you out of. You can’t get into a mess that God can not deliver you from. God is always there, despite how we see our situations, despite how we react to our shortcomings, and despite how we feel about our struggles. He’s going to help you. He’s going to strengthen you. He’s going to encourage you.

There is no checklist of solitude or calm required for God’s presence to attend to your weary soul. He is here, now. He is with you always. You are not alone, and you never will be. In your innermost being, He is there. He always has been and always will be with you every step along the way.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  How does it feel to know that no matter how you may be feeling, God is with you and completely understands how you feel?
  2.  Since His word is a constant reminder that He is with us through everything, how has it been going for you with spending time in His Word? What changes might you need to make?

Focus On Jesus

“Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”- Matthew 14:28-31

Matthew’s account of Peter walking on water is one of the most widely known stories in the Bible. How crazy must that have been to witness? But some people criticize Peter because he began to sink. But none of the critics, or anyone for that matter, have repeated his feat. Peter was willing to put it all on the line. He and the other disciples had been straining against the waves and wind all night long when Jesus appeared to them, walking on the water. Peter was willing to literally step onto the water because He was looking at Jesus. That gave him confidence and courage. Peter’s eyes were locked on Jesus and for however long it lasted, Peter walked on water.

You might think that Peter should have enough evidence now that he has walked on water and gotten close enough to Jesus that He could reach out a helping hand that he could trust Jesus to sustain him, but he sank in fear.

No matter how far out on the water a person may be, how much they seem to have trusted Christ with their life, they are still liable to fear.  They are strong wind and high seas away from sinking in doubt. The problem was Peter stopped looking at Jesus. The focus of his attention shifted from Jesus to the storm – he saw the wind the waves and panic and feelings of inadequacy took over. “He was terrified and began to sink” The takeaway is clear: look for Jesus and keep looking to Jesus.  

Peter demonstrated how most Christians respond to fear and uncertainty. First, we are afraid. Then, we sense that God is in control and will take care of us and we are emboldened. We step out in faith. But then as trials and circumstances swirl around us, we begin to take our focus off the Lord and focus on the perils around us. As a result, we start to feel overwhelmed. 

The Christian life is a step-by-step process that requires our focus to remain upon Christ. If we start looking around and becoming distracted by worldly things, we will fall. And often, it does not take very long, sometimes just a matter of seconds, to go from confident faith to overwhelming doubt. In the end, though, God is there for us. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk on water? 
  2. What can we do this week to better focus on Jesus? 

Do You Tend To Play It Safe?

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” – Matthew 25:19-21. 

 In Matthew 25, Jesus gives us the parable of the three servants. The parable is about a master who left bags of gold in the care of three servants. To the first man, he gave five bags. To another, he gave two bags. And to the third man, he gave one bag of gold. The first two men invested the gold the master gave them, but the man with one bag dug a hole in the ground and buried it. The man with one bag was afraid and didn’t want to take a risk, so he played it safe. “I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth.…” (Matthew 25:25)

The master called him a “wicked and lazy servant,” and took the bag of gold away. That seems a little harsh on the surface. He made a decision, similar to modern people hiding money under their mattresses or in other places. He was unwilling to take a risk because he was afraid. The question is are we all that different? 

God has given each of us a gift that is more precious than gold. But sometimes we want to hide it away for safekeeping. Not because we don’t want to share it, but because we’re afraid. Maybe we are afraid of what people might say, or what could happen. Oy maybe we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone. So we play it safe.  

But God didn’t call us to play it safe. He called us to be courageous. The life of a Christian is an adventure. The journey with God is full of surprises. It is based on the fact that you never know what is around the next bend. Nor do you know that in the next minute you will have the opportunity to change your life or someone else’s life for all eternity. The most important decisions of our lives will require us to stop being invisible and risk becoming visible. A little dramatic? Maybe. But, we must never underestimate the importance of one moment, one word, one deed in the life of another human being. And these moments seldom come at a convenient time and they never come if we tend to stand on the sidelines.

Taking risks is simply stepping up and God stepping in. How often do we start the day with this question: What can I do today to make a difference in the world? What opportunities is God giving me today? Those opportunities can be anything from listening to praying, to giving somebody a ride to work, to buying some groceries.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you rate your aversion to risk? 
  2. How does your personality impact your ability to take risks?
  3. What can you do this week to seize the opportunities God gives us?
     

Abigail And Taking Risks

“David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.” – 1 Samuel 25:32-35.

When you hear “risk-taking” does your adrenaline start to flow? Do the butterflies in your stomach take flight in anticipation? The thought of facing a tough challenge or taking a risk is simply not as exciting and adventurous as movies would have us think. In reality, we find a certain safety in remaining in our comfort zones, protected and secure.

As followers of Christ, we will be called to step out of our comfort zones. When the Holy Spirit calls us to step out and take a risk, how do we respond? The Bible teaches us a lot about ordinary people at that critical moment when a decision had to be made, they chose to take the risk. One such story is Abigail found in 1 Samuel 25. 

David came to Nabal (Abigail’s husband) requesting food for his army. Nabal rejected the request, by saying “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?” (1 Samuel 25:1-11)  David was angry and felt his only recourse was retaliation. He set out to kill Nabal and all his men. When hearing about what happened Abigail jumped into action even though Nabal would have never consented to her actions. 

She presented gifts to David in the most submissive, respectful way. She bowed down in his presence to ask forgiveness on behalf of Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:23) David was so moved by Abigail’s eloquent speech, he thanked God for sending her. Abigail risked her relationship with her husband to defuse a deadly situation. Her safety, her home, and her heart were saved because she trusted God.

What if we were in Abigail’s shoes? Would we exhibit the same kind of bold faith God wants to see in us? The kind of faith that makes a difference in our lives and our world. Bold faith happens when we learn to take risks for God.

 If we are facing a seemingly insurmountable problem–a situation that we believe we are powerless to influence–we should be still and wait on the Lord. But there will also be times when action is required, where we may be asked to take bold steps, and yes, to take some risks. Faith is simply doing what God tells you to do whether you feel like it or not, and in fact, especially when you don’t feel like it, regardless of the circumstances because God will see you thru.

 

 Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think God asks us to take risks? What do we learn about ourselves, and how do we grow by taking risks?
  2. What are the obstacles to stepping out of our zones of comfort and taking risks?
  3. Is there an area of your life where you’ve sensed God nudging you to take a step of faith? Have you been holding back, questioning the outcome of taking that step? 

Ulterior Motives

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” – Proverbs 16:2

In yesterday’s devotional we talked about Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This verse is so powerful because it shows us that when we have issues, there is a great chance we have a heart problem. There are so many times in our lives when we are quick to pass the blame for our issues off on some external force, or person, and here the Bible is telling us to look inward and not allow the wrong people access to our lives.

In today’s devotional I want to talk about motives. Or in other words, why do we do what we are doing? Motives are key elements to our decision making and they play a role in keeping us in or getting us out of God’s will for our life. Proverbs 21:2 says, “We can justify our every deed, but God looks at our motives.” (TLB) And Psalm 7:9 says, “End the evil of those who are wicked, and defend the righteous. For you look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God.”?

Remember the story of mother who went to ask Jesus for an eternal place for her sons at His right and left hands? (Matthew 20:20-28) First she kneeled and then got around to what she really wanted. “And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But this is not about intentions and motives. Nor is it about the sons of Zebedee and it is not about us. It is all about Jesus. It’s about helping the whole world find and follow Jesus. When His heartbeat and motives become what drives us, there is no limit to what He will do in our lives.

But sometimes we fall into the trap of believing that God does not look at our motives. The fact is, nothing is hidden from God about us. God knows not only our actions, thoughts and words, but He also knows the motives behind them all. Imagine, God knows the raw motives behind everything we do or think. We have no “private” thoughts before God.

Now, this can be scary or freeing, comforting or terrifying, depending on how we understand the gospel. Remember, the gospel changes everything. The gospel says that Jesus came to die for those sinful motives and bring us back into a right relationship with God. The gospel says that through Christ, God has forgiven us of our sinful heart motives. The gospel says that God is working in our heart to change our raw motives and turn them into pure, God-glorifying motives. The gospel is not just to convert us, but to change us daily, from the inside out, from the heart to the hands, every moment of every day.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How often do you question other people’s motives? How often do you question your own motives?
  2. Read 1 Chronicles 28:9: What advice is given to Solomon and to us?
  3. Your heart can’t be trusted. The truth is, if you let it, your heart will direct you down a path that leads to the very spot you most want to avoid. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  4. How do our motives and intentions determine our direction? We typically don’t drift in good directions. What does it take to get where we want to go?
  5. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3–5: The apostle Paul tells us to take every thought captive, so that it conforms to the will of God. What steps can we take to move in that direction?

David and Goliath

“And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” – 1 Samuel 17: 2-11

This is one of my favorite Bible stories. It is a climactic combat, winner takes all competition where the hero is the underdog. It pits the big guy against the little guy. The little guy triumphs and goes on to even greater glory. What’s there not to like about this story.

The Philistines have entered into Israelite territory looking to increase their territory and also to place the Israelites in subjection to themselves. The Philistines are feeling pretty confident about their chances. And the reason for their confidence lies in a champion that has risen, quite literally, among them. His name is Goliath, a name that has ever since then always been associated with someone who is tall and large in stature. With Goliath as their champion, the Philistines believe they will win the battle.

That is how the army of the Israelites saw it too. Goliath has had the desired effect on the army of Israel. Israel has allowed themselves to be intimidated by this Goliath. And no wonder. Look at the details we are given about Goliath. He stands over nine feet tall. This guy is two feet taller than Shaquille O’Neal. This guy would not even have to jump in order to put a basketball into the basket. All he would have to do is reach up and slam it home. He is no skinny giant either. He is strong. He has to be strong. Look at the armor that he wears. The coat of armor that he wears to protect his chest and back weighs 125 pounds. The point of the spear that he threw weighed 15 pounds all by itself. So, judging from the description that you have of this guy, this is not a guy that most people would want to battle with to the death. No wonder no one in the army of Israel was willing to step forward and say, “I will take this guy up on his offer and fight him.” He was huge and intimidating. And the Philistines used him well to gain the psychological advantage.

The rest of the story is found in 1 Samuel 17: 41-51:And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”  Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and 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.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,  and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand. When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.  And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.  So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it.

Remember what the Bible says, “Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.” Greater is He, meaning Jesus, who is in me; than he, meaning Satan, who is in the world. That is who we have to fight with us and for us. That’s who David had at his side and why he won the battle.

Discussion Question:

  1. Are you afraid of anything? What is required to get rid of fears? Do previous encounters make us stronger and less afraid in the future?
  2. Why was David so confident that he could defeat Goliath?
  3. Is being the underdog a disadvantage? Are disadvantages really advantages when God is involved?
  4. Are there challenges you faced in the past that prepared you for more important challenges later? Can you trace a gradual strengthening of your faith?
  5. Pray and ask God for the courage to face up to your fears.