This week we started preparing for our ‘Mission Mobilization Month of May’ and we welcomed Tim and Sharon into the mission facilitation resource group that will work intentionally on the things that God is leading us into. Tim Hall and Sharon Parsons are long-time friends of Karen and I. They are our current landlords who also selflessly enabled us to have a home base when we needed a place of refuge a few years ago. Back in the 80’s, Tim responded to a call into ministry and studied at The Institute for Contemporary Church Leadership, an equipping facility that I helped Barry McMurtrie and Carol Preston commence as part of the local church landscape in Wollongong. Having completed his Diploma in that season, Tim now wants to reach his ultimate sense of right place and is working towards acceptance by the Australian Defence Forces as a Chaplain. As such he needs to upgrade his diploma to a degree and joins us so that we can supervise 30 hours of ministry service placement per course unit of study and support he and Sharon throughout the journey. It is a great privilege for me to be asked again by Tim to provide this opportunity. Welcome to you both and we look forward to working together with all that God provides for the sake of His kingdom come and His will being done ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
On Sunday, we reflected again on the idea that we who follow Jesus are the first fruits of God’s harvest on the earth and that what has been revealed by Christ to us about heaven will shape the tools and the weapons that will help people who have no idea that heaven has been prepared for them, to engage with that hope.
We asked, what it could mean to live our daily lives as a response to the victory Christ has won over the monster of ‘unbelief’, a barrier that we acknowledged had been a core stumbling block for centuries and is particularly aggressive in this current epoch of time.
We firstly sought revelation about how it is that we ended up with a ‘goliath of unbelief’ as David Orton from Life Messenger so clearly describes it. We discovered that in the beginning when human beings made a decision to choose for themselves the knowledge of good and evil, they essentially opened the door to becoming independent from God, judge over God’s revelation and as such becoming as gods, the centre and authority over all things. This is surely at the heart of all unbelief.
Graeme then quickly summarized some points for reflection about how to tackle this monster or goliath of unbelief God’s way by skimming through the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. He set the context from verses 1 to 11 by describing goliath as a self-made, independent skilled warrior who caused the Israelites or Christians in our allegory to cower like rabbits stunned by headlights hoping beyond hope for miraculous deliverance. In verses 33-36 he highlighted the idea that discipleship and preparation IN Christ often happens in obscurity, away from the lime light so that our name doesn’t become a stumbling block for God’s sovereignty to shine through.
He used verses 28 through 47 to paint a picture of a warrior qualified by God ONLY and that as ambassadors of God’s heaven, followers of Jesus need to graciously resist distractions and accusations and remain steadfast upon the rock of revelation that Christ has brought. He added that this doesn’t mean that from time to time we won’t be tempted to listen to the human wisdom voice of reason, the more subtle and subversive enemy. He used Saul’s attempt to clothe David in his armour as an example of someone believing that they knew better the perils of the battle than an immature young man with idealistic goals and a testimony of God’s consistent delivering power.
Graeme concluded his initial reflection by thinking out loud about the weapons that David chose which as the scriptures highlight (E.g. 1 Cor. 1:17-31) are not the weapons of human wisdom but indications that God’s kingdom tools are about God’s authority and power as expressed through obedience and faithfulness rather than human ingenuity and finite strength.
A worthy parallel was made between the 5 smooth stones in David’s arsenal and the 5 loaves presented by the young boy in John 6 for Jesus to bless and transform into more than enough to satisfy the ‘battle of hunger’ on that particular day in the region of Galilee. In both cases the weapons or tools used were not powerful in a human context but ONLY in a God’s primary purpose context.
Could it be that the stone which stunned goliath was the cornerstone of Christ’s revelation that the builders rejected? David stood confident on the promise of God and in the face of unbelief he spoke directly to the heart. No amount of human reasoning and evidence articulated (as good as these might be) can do what only the Holy Spirit can do …..
Remember, we partner in ‘the divine dance’ and labour for the advancement of the kingdom BUT God gives the growth; Jesus builds His church ….
(1 Sam. 17: 47 is telling in that if we blink we can miss it)
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.”
The weapons, the tools used are the Lord’s and this victory dance is founded upon salvation and redemption and NOT destruction.
This week, read through 1 Samuel 17 reflectively. Pray for revelation that you can stand confidently on and practice in one of your spheres of involvement (i.e. household, workplace, recreation or hobby space etc.) As always, write down in your journal some specifics from what you receive and if you can, share your discoveries with someone over a cuppa and see if together you can think of how church life could adapt to be more like this.
Use a question like this to help your processing. ‘What 3 things can I learn from this story that could be a practical help for me when I am confronted by opportunities to share my faith or represent the kingdom of heaven where I am and whenever I am there?”
Extra Individual Response or Group Questions
1. Did the idea about 2 different worldviews derived from Genesis 3 help or hinder your understanding of what you believe God requires of you/us? Was it too simplistic to suggest that it all boils down to God’s revelation IN Christ vs Satan’s challenge and suggestion there might be alternatives? Reflect or Discuss
2. Graeme often expresses the virtue of practicing intentionally sharing your faith story OR more usefully what he refers to as sharing a Sit-Rep (situation report) which is something God has revealed to you about a life circumstance or as a result of acting upon or expressing faith in action in response to a revelation you’ve received. This week he suggested that David was sit-repping when he was articulating how he protects the sheep he has charge over from lions and bears (1Sam. 17:33-36). Think of something you have learned recently from God that has given you a fresh way of seeing some of your life circumstances or any recent experience. If you can think of something(s), write them down, pray through them and share with someone you trust as an exercise of faith in action; describing the kingdom of heaven being worked out in your life.
3. Like with David’s example, how might the sit-rep you shared in question 2 actually prepare you for the battle? Discuss any thoughts you have in the context of your own spheres of involvement.
1 Samuel 17; Romans 1:18-24; 1 Samuel 9:2; Mark 6:1-3; John 6:9; Acts 9:30ff; 1 Corinthians 1:17-31; 2 Corinthians 10: 3-4; 1 Timothy 4: 11-16