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Without grace Christianity is nothing. Without liberty a Christian remains in bondage to sin, unable to live as God pleases.   

GraceLife is all about living in this wonderful grace of Jesus, no matter what is going on in your life. GraceLife is living in the power and beauty of Jesus Christ.

GraceLife is characterized by three things, which briefly stated are:

1. GraceLife is not about following rules, but about allowing the Life of Jesus to be your life.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    • God isn’t watching how well you follow the rules and saying “attaboy”- here is a blessing, or “Uh Oh” – here’s a lightning bolt.
    • God is loving you into His Son! This is what He works in our lives.
2. GraceLife is not about your happiness and quality of life. GraceLife is about power to live life REIGNING with Christ.

Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

    • To experience GraceLife you have to commit to suffering for the sake of the Grace of God abounding toward others.
    • Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered. We not only learn through our sufferings, we benefit the body with GraceLife!
3.    GraceLife is not about the Appearance of the Vessel, but the Quality of the Vessel.

So let’s explore GraceLife in greater depth.

1.  GraceLife is Living the Life of Jesus

Are you “living by the rules,” or are you letting God’s Grace work in you?

There’s a big difference between the two. If you’re living for God—living by the rules—you’ll always be exhausted. You’ll feel that you’re not doing enough for God and that if you don’t “measure up,” He will be displeased with you.

But God never meant for the Christian life to be that way! His Love for us isn’t based on how we perform for Him. He sent Christ to set us free from rules. He didn’t call us to serve Him in our own feeble power, but to let His power flow through us—a power that is without limit!

What’s more, this power is already available to us right now. God has provided everything we need for a truly meaningful, joy-filled life here on earth…all because of His marvelous grace.

Rest in God’s grace, and let Him live through you. Find out how in GraceLife.

For example, if you’ve been around church a while, you might have noticed something very strange that happens when someone comes to Jesus. Before they are saved, they are told, “It’s all about Jesus! It’s not about you. It’s all about Him and what He’s done for you!” But once they’re saved the tune changes. Now it’s “all about you and what you do for Him!”

Before salvation it’s faith, faith, faith! But once the honeymoon is over, it’s works, works, works!

“Every true believer fully understands that he did nothing to become a Christian. He simply trusted Christ. Yet many believe that they must now do something to become a victorious Christian. So they substitute trying in place of trusting.” (Steve McVey, Grace Rules p.21)

 “Your life is God’s gift to you. What you do with your life is your gift to God.” No that is a lie…“It really strokes our human ego to think that we can do something for God. Yet the truth is we cannot. Jesus said that “Only God is Good.” In His infinite grace He allows us to participate in what He is doing by placing His life inside us and then expressing that life through us.” (pp.13-14)

God is after so much more that our work. God is after intimacy. Our Father wants us to know Him and abide in Him and allow Him to express Himself to us and through us. As McVey says,

“Spiritual service is not our gift to God, but rather His gift to us.” (p.198)

What about the Rules?

Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” ( referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

When you put the emphasis of living the Christian Life on how well you keep “the Rules”, you are living in bondage to the flesh. You are depending upon your fleshly efforts to please God and meet His “standards”! This is living by “another gospel” that Paul spoke so strongly against in Galatians. If we obey “rules” it is becasue Christ is living in us and empowering us. If our life is in and through the life of Christ, there are no rules, because Christ is living through us! He is our standard! Obeying rules feeds the flesh. It promotes pride, and pride stops GraceLife!

2. GraceLife is joining with the Power of Christ to Reign over Life (if you commit to long-suffering)

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (are surrounded by various adversities)

James 1:2 -4 (phillips)When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.

GraceLife is founded upon the assurance that everything happens, (suffering, tragedies, circumstances) so that abundant grace will bring thanksgiving from many to redound to the glory of God. Everything has purpose!

Principle: GraceLife in a Few brings Grace to Many

A. Empowers Others to Reign

2 Corinthians 4:15 – For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant (pleonázō super abounding) grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound (perisseúō = super abound, fullness to the point of excess) to the glory of God.

This is a simple yet profound concept. What this means is that God’s Grace is poured out on many because a few react to life according to His grace. Conversely, the Grace of God on many is blocked and thwarted because a few resist God’s grace at various moments in their lives.

A Few can Block Grace for Many

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

B. Empowers us to See Him who is Invisible

2 Cor 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Only as we see the benefit of sufferings do we begin to see Him who is invisible. Sure, we see Him in a flower’s blossom, a baby’s smile or a child’s outstretched arms. We see His beauty, but do we see His strength, His tremendous love for us and work on our behalf. No, we see that only in the midst of suffering.

Long-suffering (endurance) has two ideas in view:

1. Commitment to Bearing up Under

Romans 5:2-5 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience (hupomoné – “endurance, patience, perseverance or constancy under suffering in faith and duty” “pictures bearing up under in spite of circumstances)[1]; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

2. Commitment to Waiting with Constant Hope in God

James 5:7 Be patient (makrothumía) [2] therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

Heb. 6:15, makrothuméō is used of Abraham’s patient faith in God under the pressure of trying circumstances (James 5:7,8). Makrothumía is patience in respect to persons while hupomoné, endurance, is putting up with things or circumstances.

God’s mercy (éleos ) is coupled with makrothumía  to indicate it is long suffering.  This is an apt description of God’s ‘hesed’ or steadfast love.

All the time you are holding up these trials and tribulations as Charles Atlas holds the world, You are looking patiently to God and confidently expecting Him to work!

Without this resolve, you will be tossed about by your circumstances, you will be putting yourself first, blaming others and growing frustrated by the apparent lack of God’s work in your life. Grace will be blocked from working in your life and others, because your bitterness at what God has or hasn’t done will infect you life and spread to the lives of others. 

C. Example of Moses

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

A Commitment to Longsuffering in your Christian walk means that you realize there is an abundance of Grace available to you, and as you ‘bear up’ in Christ, this superabundance will provide for others who are weak, hurting and disillusioned, so that they will have all the Grace they need, with plenty left over. Grace loves to multiply! Grace is the very nature of God!

Such a commitment is to magnify Grace and thanksgiving to the glory of God. Therefore, forgiveness and long-suffering is an integral part of GraceLife. If they are missing from your life, you are blocking GraceLife from multiplying in your life and touching the lives of those around you.

D. Our Calling as Disciples
  • Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
  • Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Paul says that our that our glory and inheritance with Christ is tied in with our suffering with Him. Further, not only are we to believe on Him, but we are to suffer for His sake!

3. GraceLife Produces Quality Vessels

Romans 9:20-21 Nay but, O man, who art thou that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

The way you respond to circumstances determines whether you are a vessel unto honor, or a vessel unto dishonor.

We are not talking about how “good” you appear on the inside. We are not talking about how many titles or positions you hold at church. We are talking about whether the Grace of God is actively working in your broken vessel or not.

Are you surrendered to the Potter’s hand, or are you proud and resistant to His work in your life. Are you bearing up under the circumstances He has you in, or are you running away to an easier place. Are you zealous for God and His Word, or are you apathetic and even ignorant. Are you praying for the lost around you, open to the hurting around you, or are you content with your own needs being met.

If you are apathetic, ignorant, content, self-centered and unconcerned, you are a vessel that is of no use to the potter, so you are a vessel unto dishonor. Vessels unto honor are useful and purposeful for the lost and hurting around them. God never makes a vessel for self-service. We are to benefit each other.

This is how the Grace of God continues to abound!

GraceLife allows broken vessels dishonored by sin to become vessels of honor, honored because they have become treasured vessels to God, and use by Jesus Christ, who is the fulness of all in all. This is the meaning of John 1:16, and the message elsewhere:

John 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Ephesians 1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 4:12-13 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

GraceLife is a life that desires and enjoys and needs the fullness of Christ. GraceLife is empty of self and full of Jesus Christ! There are no rules to living in GraceLife other than needing the fullness of Christ. Jesus Christ is the rule-maker and the law-giver. Why stop at the rules when you can experience the life of the one who wrote the rules!

So, what characterizes Vessels of Honor? What characterizes a person living in GraceLife?

What is GraceLife?

  • GraceLife is the power of God that brings purpose to sufferings, hurts, troubles and trials.
  • GraceLife is the power of God that brings life to the spiritually dead, and manifests the Life of Christ in sinful flesh.
  • GraceLife is the power of God revealed in our thanksgiving to God!
  • GraceLife is the power of God which allows us to see Him who is invisible.
  • GraceLife is power for Living in Jesus Christ! GraceLife is enjoying the Fullness of Christ!
Understand first of all that Grace is not something you receive passively. It is not something that falls upon you as you sit in your easy chair and contemplate life! Grace is an active force that never, never leaves you the same!

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

GraceLife Profile

Growing experience of God’s mercy and steadfast love such that:
  • lives that are sensitive to sin, quick to repent,
  • growing in faith to believe God
  • being saved from this evil world
  • know their acceptance to God is in Christ and not in their works
  • growing in riches from Christ
  • receiving good things from God
  • always thankful, never complaining
  • overflowing with faith and love enough to touch others.
Growing Experience of God’s Justice such that:
  • Christ’s character become your character (partaker)
  • New identity in the justification that is in Christ
  • Growing power to overcome sin (freedom from destructive habits)
  • Growing strength of Spirit and meat of the Word (builds us up)
  • Ready access to God’s power and grace in times of need.
  • Stable walk and life.
  • Singing in your heart, regardless of the circumstances.
Growing Experience of the Righteousness of Christ
  • Life is continually changing and becoming like Christ
  • Growing power in service
  • Endurance in the face of trials
  • Speech that is seasoned by grace
  • Behavior that is acceptabel to the world
  • Testimony that teaches others
  • Ready aid in times of struggle and temptation
  • Service to God that is acceptable and reverent
  • Full of Hope no matter how dark
  • Grace of God is visible to those around us.
  • No confidence in our fleshly works.
  • Power to witness
  • Righteousness of Christ reigns in our body

Grace brings us to the Cross, where our eyes are open to see the overwhelming Love of God for us. This pure love as seen in His Son cuts our hearts open to reveal our sin and our need for a Savior. Grace propels us into the arms of Jesus, where we find forgiveness, sustenance and strength. Salvation is ours, not just for the future, but also for the Now’s of Life.

Once we are placed into Christ, He starts to grow in us through the Holy Spirit and His Word. Our lives are changed by the power of the Word. We become a living testimony to the Victory in Christ. Our want-to’s change. Our character becomes framed and molded by the character of Jesus Christ.

Our lives become dependent upon His victory. Our weaknesses are made strong in Him. We learn to walk in victory over sin. Our lives become testimonies to those around us of the Grace of God. It is not because of our ability, but by the Grace of God!

Romans 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

When the mercy, justice and righteousness of God and Jesus Christ is actively working in a body of believer’s, you have GraceLife!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hupomoné”.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book,

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How can I be effective in my prayer life?

  • The desire to pray reveals God’s presence in our lives. Our concern for our prayer lives is evidence that God is at work in our lives and that we are (to some extent at least) responsive to him. How many of us were concerned about our prayer lives before we came to Christ? Thank God for this evidence of our regeneration.
  • Expect aversion to prayer due to our sin nature. We should not be surprised or fall under accusation when we feel extreme aversion to prayer. This shows us that our sinful nature is still operative, and is not a reliable indicator of our spiritual health. We should disregard such feelings and choose to communicate with God (Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would).
  • God accepts us fully in spite of our poor prayer lives, and he is committed to patiently teach us how to pray (Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God).
  • In EVERYTHING give thanks. Phil. 4:6,7 connects the peace of God with thanksgiving. As we present our requests to God we must also thank him for his loving sovereignty and faithfulness. Prayer with thanksgiving for God’s loving sovereignty will allow our hearts to rest in Him. Unless we temper our petitions with this, we tend to become self-focused, worried and anxious. Doubts and bitterness can come crawling into our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Understand Why We Should Pray

We pray because we realize we can not live this life on our own. We must see our needs. We must see the needs of our family and friends. We must see the needs of our country, our schools, our government. If we have no needs, we will have no prayer life. If we know we have needs, then we need to know how to pray for those needs. We must see ourselves before the throne of God! Grace should be our daily meal, grace that can only be obtained at the Throne of God!

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Understand What We Should Pray

Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

  • Pray for those who have hurt us, or have caused us grief, or have abandoned us, that we will continue to love them and desire God’s grace for their lives.

Matthew 6:9-13 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

  • Pray for the Name of God to be upon our life, our family, our church
  • Pray that God will use us to accomplish His will in our church and our community.
  • Pray that we will forgive all those who have hurt us or have hurt ones we love.
  • Pray that God will deliver us from evil and the evil one.

Matthew 9:38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

  • Pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that He will send fellow laborers

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

  • Place our desires at the Cross and trust and believe we will have them!

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

  • Forgive any and every offence or anyone who has caused your grief.

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

  • Pray that we do not faint or become discouraged and weak.

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

  • Pray always, and watch, and desire to always stand before the Lord

Romans 8:26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

  • Pray with the Holy Spirit as your guide and even your voice.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

  • Pray for others, that they would be reconciled to God. We all know unsaved and Christians alike who need to be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

  • Pray that we would receive the gift that empowers us to fellowship with Christ as He ministers to the saints, and that we would undertake that ministry with Him. I believe the greatest need of our jaded USA is reaching the saints that no longer walk in the Grace of God because of the failure of fleshly churches and believers.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

  • Pray with all prayer and pleadings as the Holy Spirit prompts us. Pray for the saints.

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

  • Pray that our love will abound more and more

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

  • Pray that we will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, that our spiritual understanding will be opened to see our circumstances from God’s point of view.

Colossians 4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

  • Pray that God would open doors for us to bring witness of Jesus Christ to our lost friends and neighbors.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

  • Pray that we will be faithful to God’s calling, and that He would use us to fulfill the good pleasure of the good He wants to accomplish, and that our efforts will be clothed in faith and His power!

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

  • Pray that the Word of God would have a smooth highway in our lives (no potholes or roadblocks), and would be glorified through our lives.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

  • Pray that our prayers are without any doubts or fleshly desires, but that they are based on the Holiness of God.

Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

  • Pray that we will live and speak with honesty

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

  • Pray in the Holy Spirit, that we will be built upon our most holy faith.

Understand Effective Praying:

“Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will on God, or for bending his will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to his. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it, and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme `your will be done.’” (John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: The Epistles of John (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983), p. 185.)

We can be confident that God will grant our requests only when our requests are according to his will (see 1 Jn. 5:14,15). We are free to ask for whatever we wish, but unless scripture explicitly states that our request is God’s will, we cannot be confident that God will answer in the affirmative.

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Don’t get bogged down in trivia

“Most of us . . . get bogged with down with trivia: Jane’s sinus trouble, Ben’s discouragement, Mary’s problem with her mother-in-law . . .  All of these may be important, but prayer, like warfare, calls for strategy. It is said of Napoleon that he would watch the development of his battles from a vantage, quietly analyzing the situation while he watched. His key general would watch with him. ‘That farm,’ he once said to Marshall Ney, ‘that farm that you can see on the ridge there. Take it. Seize. Hold it. For if you can, the battle is won.’

In praying for the Ephesians, Paul was aware that if the key to the whole battle was won, lesser skirmishes would sort themselves out rather easily. Smaller problems are so often symptomatic of larger issues . . . Prayer must be directed to that which is the key. It concerns itself with strategy, not with tactics . . . If therefore one thinks that Paul’s prayer is spiritual and not practical, it is a sign of how blind he is to what life is all about . . . “  (John White, Daring To Draw Near (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977), p. 137.)

Strategic Prayer Requests:

  • More practical insight into scripture so that you can apply it to your life (Col. 1:9,10).
  • Better understanding of what God has given you in Christ (Eph. 1:16-19) and how much God loves you (Eph. 3:18,19).
  • Greater love for other people (1 Thes. 3:12) and better discernment on how to love them effectively (Phil. 1:9).
  • Opportunities for witness and the courage and wisdom to make the most of those opportunities (Col. 4:2-4*; Eph. 6:19,20).
  • Spiritual empowering and protection for ministry (2 Thes. 2:16-3:3).
  • Exposure of attitudes that are counterproductive to your spiritual growth (Phil. 3:15; Ps. 139:23,24).
  • Wisdom to understand what God wants to teach you through adverse circumstances that are in your life (Jas. 1:5).
  • That God may raise up more workers (Matt. 9:36-38).

You never see Jesus wasting time with anthills. Jesus focused on mountains. Our prayers should focus on great obstacles being cast into the sea, so that the Will of God can be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven!


As we look at all we have “Because of the Cross”, we need to remember three Principles of the Cross:

1. The Cross is the Wisdom & Power of God.

  • The Cross reveals the Heart of God, His delight in mercy, justice and righteousness.
  • At the Cross we partake of the unfailing love of God, the justice of being made right with God, and the Righteousness that is in Christ whereby we have victory over sin, over Satan and over death.

2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of man.

  • The cross requires humility. The cross strips man of all rights and powers. The Cross reveals the foolishness of man’s attempts at standing and self-righteousness.
  • Man says to love yourself first, seek for yourself first. Instead of submitting to God’s love, We are our own person, we are OK as we are, we can do as we please as long as we don’t hurt anyone. Instead of submitting to God’s Justice, Man emphasizes your own accomplishments, your own standing, your own right to live as you see fit. Instead of depending upon God for our righteousness, Man emphasizes works, riches, possessions as justification for the way he lives.

3. The Cross represents the Perfect Blood Sacrifice required by God

  • God declared that life is in the blood. The only way for sinful man to enjoy life with Holy God is through a blood sacrifice for our sins. The Cross is that perfect blood sacrifice.

We have seen the Principle of the Cross with Adam and Eve, and how Cain quickly established Man’s wisdom in opposition to the Cross. That Opposition grew until we read:

 Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

So God called Noah to build an ark. God saved His creation by a worldwide flood, and the earth was transformed, and Noah and his family went forth to re-populate the earth. This new world was established with the Principle of the Cross, for Noah took of the clean animals and sacrificed them to God.

Kingdom of Man Rears its Sinful Head (NIMROD)

In the Dispensation of Noah it did not take long for the wisdom and power of man to rear its ugly head in opposition to the Cross. Mighty men came along, led by Nimrod, the mighty hunter of men, and directly opposed God. They built a Tower that was reaching to the heavens, so they could worship themselves and insure a place of refuge should God ever decide to flood the earth again.

God confounded the wisdom and power of man, and the languages of the earth were born, and the kingdom of man became fragmented.

In the face of God’s wisdom and power, man corrupted the Principle of the Cross, and began to sacrifice to gods of their own making. They worshipped ‘idols’ and engaged in religious worship in opposition to the Creator God Jehovah. They offered sacrifices as He demanded, but with hearts devoted to the kingdom of man. They created god’s of their own design, god’s whom they could worship as they chose. The altar of sacrifice had been corrupted by man to honor the god’s of their making, instead of the Making God!

It was among these idol worshippers in the “Ur of the Chaldees” that Jewish tradition has a young man named Abram working in his father’s idol merchant shop. This young man was about to receive a special call for Creator God. This is the beginning of the Patriarch Dispensation.

The Calling of Abram

Genesis 12:1-9 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran (best meaning ‘to tarry’). And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar (mizbeah) to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

We know Ur of the Chaldees was a ‘hotbed’ of idolatry for two reasons:

1. Abraham’s father, Terah according to Joshua 24:2, worshiped idols. Jewish tradition refers to Terah as an idol maker. Ur was an idolatrous city worshiping many different Gods such as the god of fire, moon, sun and stars. Sin was the name of the chief idol deity of Ur. Ningal, was the wife of the moon-god, Sin, and was worshiped as a mother God in many other cities. Ur was a evil and sinful city as can be seen in the worship practices of the moon-goddess, Ningal.[1]

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.

2. Ur ‏אור‎, which means flame or fire of the Chaldeans, from the worship practiced there. Scholars say the people of this area were worshippers of fire, and there is evidence of fire sacrifices to various gods.[2]

Abram rejected the many god’s of his father’s, and followed the call of the one and only True God. Abram’s journey to Canaan was marked by humility resulting in the altar of sacrifice. At the Oak of Moreh God appeared to Abram and told Him, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

So which is it: Plains, encampments, oaks or terebinths? Different translations have served to obscure the great truth of this passage.

Plains and encampments, I think, can be dismissed immediately. They do not fit other passages using this expression. They cannot possibly be the correct translation of elonei mamre. That leaves oaks and terebinths. I’ll take oaks.

Here’s why. In the first place, while “oaks” is the oldest translation we have of elonei, “terebinths” is the most recent. The Septuagint rendition may represent a genuine tradition passed down from the time the book of Genesis was composed. Moreover, terebinths, whose small leaves indeed smell a bit like turpentine when crushed, may have an impressive-sounding name, but they are not very impressive in appearance. The terebinth is an evergreen shrub that rarely grows to more than 7 or 8 feet and is found all over Israel. The common Palestinian oak, on the other hand, develops into a tall, stately tree. A whole forest or grove of such trees, now seen in only a few places but less rare in Abraham’s time, is an impressive sight indeed. Certainly these could be a landmark worthy of mention in God’s Word.

Would the Bible have bothered to point out that Abraham was sitting by some perfectly ordinary shrubs? In my thinking, the mighty Oak wins this match against the insignificant terebinth.[3].

Evidently there was a significant tree in a grove of trees at Moreh near Shechem. The Hebrew moreh is derived from the verb yarah, “to teach,” “to direct,” and indicates one who directs, or gives oracular answers.[4]  Picture a place known for receiving direction or oracles from God.

Now it was here that God first appeared to Abram, and confirmed to Abram that this was the land that God was giving him. No doubt Abram had seen the Canaanites, and had seen their vileness and fierceness. Perhaps he doubts were running rampant in his mind, doubts about the voice he had heard calling him. In the midst of those doubts, Abram saw God by that majestic tree. There God renewed His promise to Abram. As soon as God went away, Abram built an altar (place of sacrifice) unto God.

Can you picture Abram, a former idol worshipper, seeing Jehovah God? This was no wood carving, no stone object. Abram saw the Living Creator God. In the presence of God there are no doubts, there is only hope, there is only His love. Abram was so in awe of God that his first reaction was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to God. Sinful man had met Holy God at the tree. At the tree Abram offered himself to God.

Does that sound like anything familiar to you?

It is before this significant tree that an altar is made, sacrifice performed, and Abram’s life, family and possessions are committed to God’s Promise. Here we see the principle of the Cross in establishing Abram’s possession of the Promised Land.

This appearance of God was significant, for just as God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening, so now God appeared to Abram in the coolness of the shade of the Oak Tree of Moreh. When ever God begins something new, His presence is all over it!

The Oak Tree of Moreh was near Shechem

There are 3 references to the Oak tree(s) of Moreh at Shechem in the Bible. Plus there is one more subtle reference worth noting.

1. Genesis 12:6-7

“Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.”

God called Abram out of the kingdom of the wisdom and power of man. He called Abram out of the land of idols and manmade gods. He called him to a new land, to form a new nation that followed Jehovah, their Creator God. He called Abram to follow God’s wisdom and power, and submit to the principle of the Cross. When Abram saw God, he submitted and sacrificed.

You are familiar with his life. Along this journey Abram made mistakes. He lied, he resorted to following the wisdom and power of man in having a baby boy Ishmael. Still, God blessed him, for God had set His Name upon Abram. Instead of being Abram, his name became Abraham, father of a great nation.

Finally, God gave him that promised son, Isaac. As we will see in later writings, the Principal of the Cross was upon Isaac, and upon Jacob. But for today, we are camping under the Oak of Moreh, near Shechem.

Abraham’s grandson had returned to the idol loving land of his great-grandfather. There he met his wife(s) and labored for his uncle, Laban. Jacob was a man who fit in well with the kingdom of Man. He was crafty, deceitful, proud and boasting. God still blessed him, because God had promised Abraham. God issued a call to Jacob to return to the Promised land, and face his estranged brother Esau. God was there when the brothers met. Jacob and his family were spared the wrath of Esau. And Jacob continued on, making a stop in Shechem.

Genesis 33:18-20 Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. (Meaning “El, the God of Israel”)

Even though Jacob offered sacrifices to God, the God of Israel, he was still living in the kingdom of man. He was still living by his own wiles. His heart was divided. (Notice he did not say “My God!”) Jacob had to learn a costly lesson before he could go on to the House of God (Bethel). Chapter 34 sees the chastening hand of God upon his Jacob and his family. At Shechem, his daughter Dinah was raped by the prince of the land (Shechem). What follows is deceit upon deceit, as Jacob’s sons plot to avenge their daughter, and the leaders of of Shechem plot to take Jacob’s livestock and possession. In a clever plot indicative of the treachery of their father, the sons of Jacob murder the men of Shechem, plunder their riches and livestock, take the women and children, and bring dishonor upon the house of Jacob.

Genesis 34:30-31 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

In Genesis 35 we see that Jacob makes a decision to wholly follow God. Once again, the Oak Tree at Moreh plays a significant role.

2. Genesis 35:4

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

God spells out the problem He had with Jacob. Sure, Jacob professes belief in God, even honoring Him with an altar and sacrifices. But Jacob’s heart was divided. He loved the Kingdom of Man, with its idols and riches. He was a “double-minded” man. His life in the land of idolatry had tainted his already flawed soul. Jacob and his sons were even dressing like the idol loving people of the land, thus the reference to the “rings in their ears” and their garments.

Bethel was the “House of God” Bethel was the place of God that Abram pitched his tent, built an altar of sacrifice to God, and where he called upon the Name of the Lord! There is salvation in the House of God!

Genesis 12:8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.

God appeared to Abram, and he sacrificed to God. He continued on to Bethel, in the heart of Canaan, and pitched his tent, and called upon the Name of the Lord. You can almost see the progression of his heart. He answers the call of God, yet decides to tarry a while in Haran. After the death of his father, he decides to move to Canaan, and stops at Shechem. There he sees his Creator God. He submits and sacrifices. But you get the feeling he is not all in yet. But he travels further into Canaan, and decides to pitch his tent on a hillside at Bethel, the House of God. Abram has made a decision. He is all in. There is no turning back. His tent is pitched, and He cries out to God!

We see the Principle of the Cross at work in his life, and we will see why he did what he did with Isaac next week.

As with Abram, God called Jacob to come to a place of decision. What will Jacob do? Will he come to God with everything, depend upon God for everything? Is he ready to forsake the crafty kingdom of Man and give himself 100% to Jehovah God? There is no use going to Bethel if your heart is divided. God is a jealous God. He wants all of us. Jacob can’t deceive God like he did his father, like he did Laban. God could see Jacob’s heart, that it was divided.

He can offer as many sacrifices to God as he wants, but unless his heart is given 100% to God, it does no good. This is what God means when He says it is better to obey than to sacrifice.

Here at Shechem, in spite of the pain of his heart over Dinah and his sons, Jacob makes a decision to follow God fully. He and his household obeyed God and put all of the idols and their precious possessions at the foot of the Oak tree.

This is what we do at the foot of the Cross!

Fast forward a few hundred years. Jacob died in Egypt, and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob escaped the slavery of Pharaoh. It had been 400 years since they had been in the promised land. God used a meek man to lead his people from Egypt. Now in Deut. 11 Moses is addressing the people.

3. Deuteronomy 11:29-30.

“It shall come about, when the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. “Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh?

Moses has shared the Law of God with his people. He has detailed all the blessings God promises to those who wholly follow the Lord. He instructs them to go to the Oaks of Moreh, and stand upon the two mountains there, Ebal and Gerizim. There they are to dedicate themselves to following God and His Word completely, and they are to acknowledge the blessings and cursing associated with that commitment.

The account of that event is given in chapters 27 and 28 of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 27:4-8 And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the LORD your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God. And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.”

One by one the Levites read the Blessings and Curses of the Law

Can you hear them:  ‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ (Deuteronomy 27:26)

And all the people shout, ‘Amen!’

The vibrating, thundering chorus of two million of voices shouting ‘Amen’ in unison to the terms of the covenant, from hill to hill, echoed powerfully in the streets of Shechem below. The Oaks of Moreh were shaking in response. They were witnesses to this momentous occasion.

The Jordan river signifies death to the wisdom and power of man. When Israel passed over the Jordant, they were symbolically announcing that they were dying to life in the wisdom and power of the flesh, and were now living in the wisdom and power of God and His Word. They were embracing the Principle of the Cross. This was so important, that at the end of Joshua’s life, he had the people return to this spot and reaffirm their commitment to following God’s Word.

Covenant ratified one more time…

At the end of his life, Joshua called for Israel to assemble again — at Shechem. The solemnity of the occasion cannot be expressed better than by its simple yet inspired biblical description:

Joshua 24:1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God.

Joshua recounted God’s faithfulness from the time of Abram’s calling until He gave them the Promised Land. He solemnly impressed upon them the importance of keeping faithfulness with God and his covenant. Listen as Joshua brings the point home:

Joshua 24:14-15 “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The people responded that YES! They would serve the Lord! Joshua tried to tell them they were not able to serve the Lord:

Joshua 24:19-21 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the LORD.”

So Joshua told them: “Now then, throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)

So Joshua took a large stone and placed it under the Oak by the sanctuary of the Lord (in Shechem). That stone represented their decision to yield their hearts totally to God! This is what Abram had done! This is what Jacob had done! This is the Principle of the Cross!

Joshua 24:24-27 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.”

That stone was not the only witness. The Principle of the Cross was there at Shechem in the form of the Oak tree of Moreh. Eight hundred years had elapsed since Abram first built an altar under the Shechem oak tree. The original oak tree had probably given way to an offspring. But the mention of the ‘sanctuary of the Lord’ confirms this Oak tree was probably near the altars built by Abram and Jacob, and was now taken to be the official substitute.

I can see Joshua pointing to the altars and the tree as he recounts their stories to his people. I can hear him tell them that God appeared to Abram at this very spot. I can see him pointing to the ground and saying, “somewhere down there are the pagan gods your father Jacob buried; do the same, bury your false gods, and serve the one true God only.”  On that day, under Abram’s tree of promise, Israel ratified her covenant with God, the covenant she had made at Sinai nearly one hundred years earlier.

Treason at the Cross

Everyone remembers the story of Gideon and the way God used him in a miraculous deliverance of Israel from the Midianites. After that victory, the men of Israel wanted to make Gideon King.

Judges 8:22-23  Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.”

Now Gideon (Jerubbaal) had seventy sons, for he had many wives. One son was Abimelech, born of a concubine who lived in Shechem. After Gideon died, Abimelech schemed to become King over the land. He got the leaders of Shechem on his side, got them to pay him money with which he hired thugs. Then he murdered 70 sons of Gideon with one stone. One son, Jotham, got away.

Immediately, “all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.” (Judges 9:6)

At the very spot where, under the very tree where, next to the very pillar where, three hundred years earlier, all Israel had sworn faithfulness to God and His covenant, where one thousand years earlier God first made the covenantal promises to Abram, where Jacob later buried the vestiges of his false gods, the populace of Shechem declared that a mere, evil man, was now their king [6].

Rebellious men refused to humble themselves to the Cross, and so rejected God in favor of man’s wisdom and power. Shechem erected the Kingdom of Man in opposition to the Kingdom of God.

The outcome was utter disaster, perhaps even greater than that which had occurred in the same city hundreds of years earlier when Simeon and Levi slaughtered the entire male population.

Read the entire account for yourself in Judges 9:1-20. In short, the honeymoon between Abimelech and the Shechemites was short-lived. God set animosity between them, resulting in Abimelech’s massacre of the entire population. One thousand people perished in one incident when Abimelech set fire to the temple of Baal in which they were cringing in fear. That one thousand people could fit inside testifies to its considerable size.

Why did this disaster occur? Listen carefully to what Jotham, Abimelech’s lone surviving brother, had to say to the citizens of Shechem days before the massacre:

Jotham told a parable, about the trees wanting someone to reign over them as a King. The tried the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, a Vine, and each one refused. Finally they went to a lowly bramble bush, and he accepted.

Jotham warned the people:

Judges 9:16-20 “Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal (Gideon) and his family, and if you have rewarded him appropriately for what he did— for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you from the hand of Midian, and now you have attacked my father’s house today, killed his 70 sons on top of a large stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave, king over the lords of Shechem ‘because he is your brother’— if then you have acted faithfully and honestly with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech and may he also rejoice in you. But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.”


Twice in one short message Jotham tells the people to judge themselves, whether or not they have acted faithfully and honestly. Understand, the Cross is a divider of men. It divids the children of God from the children of the world. It divides Spirit-filled believers from fleshly pretenders, or worldly Christians. There is Blessing at the foot of the Cross. There is Cursing at the Foot of the Cross. You can bear the curse yourself, or you can realize that Jesus became cursed for you upon that Cross. Yield your heart to the Cross, and enjoy the Blessings of Jesus Christ!

We have a tree that rules over us. It is the Cross of Jesus Christ. We do not worship the Tree, for it is but a principle. We worship the one who was crucified upon that tree. He is our King, He is our Lord. The principle of the Cross must be applied to our lives if He is to reign!


[1] Halley’s Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley, Zondervan Pub. House, Grand Rapids, page 95.

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Genesis 11″.

[3]“Oaks or Terebinths?” Philologos, http://forward.com/articles/11956/oaks-or-terebinths-/

[5] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 1990, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, p. 389.


David Discipleship…

  • Begins with a Heart Decision
  • Grows from knowing the ways of God
  • Develops as we practice mercy, justice and righteousness

In a short period of time, David faced Goliath, King Saul, Doeg and Achish. God had David on a fast-track course of discipleship. It began with his decision to give God his whole heart, and seek to know God’s heart. It grew as he diligently applied himself to knowing the ways of God. But through his trials with Saul, Doeg and Achish, David developed into a Mighty Man of God. David developed because David paid attention and learned.

The lessons that God wanted David to learn and live he recorded in three Psalms that David wrote after those experiences.

I believe one of the greatest gifts you can leave your children and grand-children is a record of the discipleship lessons God has taught you. Do you keep a record of what God is teaching you? Do you take notes? If you are not paying attention to what God is teaching you, He will stop teaching you. Thank God David paid attention. The three lessons David learned after Saul, Doeg and Achish were recorded in Psalms 34, 52 and 56. Those three lessons parallel the three things God most delights in and wants His disciples to know and understand – hesed, mishpat and tsedeqah.

1. Fear God Above All

David realized that he must fear God above man. His heart was firmly fixed upon God. His heart feared God when everyone around him feared man. David knew the hesed (unfailing Love) of  God would keep Him in God’s care.

Psalm 34:9-11 Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

2. Depend Upon God Above All

Early in his youth David learned that God’s House is a special place, and saw how God designed His house to be a certain way. David desired the justice of God’s house to be in his life, and to be in his house. To know God’s justice, David learned to depend upon God above anyone or anything in this world, including himself.

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Psalm 52:8 But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.

3. Magnify God Before Everyone

David learned that God would provide His righteousness for Him. David learned that God was His hope and his righteousness, and that he must exalt Him before everyone, that they might know the hope of his heart.

Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Psalm 52:9 I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.

Let’s see how these lessons are demonstrated in I Samuel 22 & 23.

Last week we left David at Nob, where Ahimelech gave him the Holy Bread and the sword of Goliath. After enquiring of the Lord, the Lord said to go to Gath and seek help from Achish, King of Gath. I assume God told him, because God wanted David to learn not to fear. David may have thought he might get some respect from Saul’s enemy, especially since David had killed their great warrior. Instead, King Achish seized David, and would have killed him, but David started acting like he was insane.

1 Samuel 21:12-13 And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.

Jewish tradition says that Achish had a wife and daughter who were both ‘crazy’ and that is why he reacted the way he did:

1 Samuel 21:15 Don’t you think I have enough crazy people to put up with as it is without adding another? Get him out of here!”(MSG)

David’s House Grows

A few miles away David sought a hiding place in the caves of Adullam. It was close to his home in Bethlehem, and so his family came to see him. Word got out about David, and around 400 men sought him out.

1 Samuel 22:1-2 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress (māṣôq), and everyone who was in debt נָשָׁא‎ (nāshâ), and everyone who was bitter in soul (mar nephesh), gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

  • māṣôq: A masculine noun meaning distress, anguish. It refers to hardships and anxiety (Deut. 28:53, 55, 57; Jer. 19:9); especially brought on from disobeying the Lord but also from general social and political conditions (1 Sam. 22:2). The psalmist suffered anguish, relieved only by following the Lord’s delightful Law (Ps. 119:143)[1].

In four of those times, the King James translates it “straitness”, and in each of those four times, it is talking about the kind of distress a person will experience when they are in such a horrible time of famine that they would have to actually resort to eating their own children (Deut. 28:53,55,57; Jer. 19:9).  It describes people who are so desperate that they will do anything.

Psa 119:143  Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.

Deuteronomy 28:53 And you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.

  • נָשָׁא‎ (nāshâ) lend on interest or usury[2] – people who were in great debt, being charged high interest by fellow jews, which was contrary to the law.
  • mar-nephesh, “bitter of spirit,” used of Hannah, deprived of a child, in 1:10, and of David’s soldiers, whose women and children the Amalekites had seized (30:6). Cf. also 2 Sm 17:8. David becomes a hero for those who have endured loss or deprivation.

These men were bitter in their soul, feeling cut off from the mercy of God.

These men were overwhelmed with debt, that because of unlawful interest rates, made it impossible to repay. They had been taken advantage of by unjust men. Now they couldn’t provide for their ‘house’ – their families.

These men were in distress due to circumstances beyond their control. Their hopes had been dashed and they felt there was no place to go.

So these men needed to know mercy (hesed), they needed to experience justice (mishpat) and they needed to know the hope of righteousness (tsedeqah).

They needed a leader to restore the love of God to their heart, to restore justice to their house, and to bring rightness and hope back to their disillusioned lives.

“Herein David became a type of Christ, the Captain of our salvation, who cried, ‘Come unto me, all ye that are weary.’” (Trapp)

I believe God called these men to David, because God saw some great things in them. He saw what they could be, if they only had someone to show them. They needed a captain, a Captain that could teach them through his life. David was indeed a man on the run, but he was a man after God’s heart. And in so following and learning from David, these men were transformed into “Gibbor” – “Mighty Men”

Discipleship develops Kings, Priests and Mighty Men!

Jesus came to this earth to reach exactly the kind of men that flocked to David:

Luke 4:18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

These men were poor, they would have been held captive because of debts, and they were oppressed by circumstances.

Remember These Men. We Will Draw Some Truths From Them, But First We Have To Get To The Rock!

David took his family to safety in Moab:

1 Samuel 22:3 And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.”

Verse 3. “Mizpeh” signifies a watchtower, and it is evident that it must be taken in this sense here, for it is called “the hold” or fort (1Sa 22:4). The king of Moab was an enemy of Saul (1Sa 14:47), and the great-grandson of Ruth, of course, was related to the family of Jesse.[3] 

Abiathar son of Ahimelech, Joins David

1 Samuel 22:20-23 But Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, escaped and fled to join David. He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. Then David said to Abiathar: “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your father’s whole family. Stay with me; don’t be afraid; the man who is seeking your life is seeking mine also. You will be safe with me.”

With me, you are in a guarded place! I can see Him who is invisible, and as long as I fear Him more than man, He will guard me…If you are with me, He will guard you as well.

Psalm 34 “In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him…Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need…Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD”.

Would anyone in their right mind believe they would be kept safe simply by staying with the most wanted man in Israel? David had such a trust in God that he could boldly profess God’s protection. His men began to trust David as they saw God work!

David Demonstrated That The Fear Of The Lord Keeps Us In Safety

David was settling down in Moab. God wanted these men to be pushed to the limit as far as trust in God was concerned. He wanted them to trust  Him even in the midst of evil and danger. So God sent a prophet to tell David to leave Moab and return to Judah.

1 Samuel 22:5 Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

God did not want David to remain outside the country of Judah. God wanted to demonstrate His power to David and to the men who were with him. God knew that all of Israel would be watching. God wanted them to see His power! God was telling David, “it is too easy to protect you so far away from Saul. That’s not much of a testimony of my Greatness! Come on back to Judah, where Saul has thousands of spies to tell him where you are at. This will give me a great opportunity to show you how I can protect you and keep you”.

In fact, 1 Samuel 23:3 reveals that David’s men really needed to learn this: They told him, “we are afraid here in Judah”. They were not worthy of being called “Mighty” yet!

David Demonstrates His Total Dependence Upon God

David did so by always inquiring of the Lord!

Verse 2:  Therefore David inquired of the LORD,

Verse 4: Then David inquired of the LORD again.

Verses 10, 11 & 12  Then said David, “O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account.  Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.”  Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.”

Finally, when things got really heated, and Saul was close on his heels, David did what we all must do, he went to the Rock!

Verse 25:  And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon.

Every time David needed direction, he inquired of the Lord. His fear of the Lord was so great, that he did  not want to do anything counter to His will. His dependence upon the Lord was such that He would not make a move without clear direction from God.

To those men who said “we are afraid here in Judah”, what kind of testimony did that provide them?

Here is a man of obvious cunning and skill, and yet he is always asking God what to do! David demonstrated that he trusted God in everything, trusted enough to ask God what God wanted before he did it!

A Visit from Jonathan Strengthens David

Even David’s need Jonathan’s!

1Sa 23:16  And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.”

Strengthened – chazaq – to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore.  The form in Hebrew is a “Piel” stem, meaning an “intensive” form.  He really, really strengthened David.

The Writer of Hebrews used similar words to strengthen the heart of the Jewish Christian in Rome. He said: Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

It is a reference to the promise God gave Joshua just before he crossed over the Jordan to enter the Promised Land:

“as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage…Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Jos 1:5-9)

When things get scary, even overwhelming, cry out to Jesus Christ. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid. David, the man who feared God rather than man, sent a message loud and clear to his men – as long as we depend upon and follow God, we will be safe. We have nothing to fear.

  • God is greater than King Saul.
  • God is greater than his armies,
  • God is greater than all the spies.
  • God is a Rock that is higher than anyone

So we find 1 Sam 23:25: “When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock”.(NLT)

I’m sure David had this in mind when he wrote Ps 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I“.

David Declares His Hope and Magnifies God

1 Samuel 23:26-28 tells us what happens next:

Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men, an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again. So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape. (NLT)

You can see David there, his men all frightened, and David looking heavenward and praying out loud: “Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me”. Psalm 31:2-3

When they hear Saul’s army leave, the men heard David shout:

 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation! Psa 18:46 

The Rock of Escape is the Hebrew word: Sela-hammahlekoth which is the combination of two words. Joined, they are actually translated “Rock of divisions”

Jesus is our Rock.

Paul declared that Jesus is our Rock, and He is typified by the rock from which water flowed after Moses struck it. 1 Cor 10:4  “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ”.

Peter declares that Jesus is a rock, but a rock of offence: 1 Pet 2:8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

Most pictures of Jesus birth have him in a wooden manger. Archaeologist have discovered many stone mangers (or feeding troughs) from the time of Christ. Due to the abundance of stone and scarcity of trees around Bethlehem, it is most likely the manger Mary placed Jesus in was made from stone. It would be God’s doing if that rock came from Sela-hammahlekoth. For truly the manger represents the “Rock of Division”. Even our Calendar is divided by the manger. The very year we are in (AD 2011) means this is the 2011th year since the birth of Jesus “anno domini”. The day before was BC or “before Christ”.

I believe the manger was made of rock, whether in a cave or the lower level of a home, or a corral behind a home. I believe the manger represents this “rock of Division” that God used to rescue his beloved on.

Rock of Division

There is a Rock of Division that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments.
  • There is the Rock that Abraham climbed with his son Isaac. The rock that divided Abraham from trusting in God or trusting in himself. The rock upon which he placed Isaac in obedience to God.
  • There is the Rock on which Moses stood to receive the Law from the hand of God. The rock that divided his people from the world and separated them unto God.
  • There was a rock, a cornerstone, that the builders rejected and hung upon a cross, on the rock called Golgotha. That rock divided two men, one died in his sins and is burning in Hell even today. The other man trusted in the rock, and joined Him that day in Paradise!
  • There is a rock that was rolled away and a Triumphant Jesus Christ stepped forth. That rolling rock meant that Satan had been conquered, and sin and death could hold us no longer.  That rolling rock meant that no grave will hold us, no demon of hell will grab us, for we have trusted in this Risen Savior!

One day there will be a mighty stone cast upon the earth, and it will destroy the great whore Babylon, and all those who worshipped her. He that judges will cast Satan and all those who rejected the cornerstone into the lake of Fire for all eternity.

One Day a building made of precious stones will descend rom Heaven, and all those who have trusted in the Chief Cornerstone will find a mansion to live in for all eternity.

Yes Jesus was placed on a rock of division. He was not just a baby. He was not just “the reason for the season”.

Jesus Christ is the very Rock of Division. He is the Divider of Mankind.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

This Christmas, everyone you meet, every family member you hug, is on one side or the other of the Rock of DIvision. They are either clinging to the Rock, or they are clinging to something else, or trying to make it on their own. They either trust the Rock for their salvation, or they are lost and on their way to Hell. There is no in between, no purgatory, no second chance. We all face the rock of division. We either see the Rock of Jesus Christ as our only Hope, our only righteousness, and our only salvation, or we have no protection, we are trying to walk on sifting sand, sand that is slowly sifting to Hell.

Hurting Men became Mighty Men

David had a group of men whom the world had rejected. They were hopelessly beaten down, drowning in debt, and broken in soul. They came to David, a man whose Heart was given totally to following God. A Man building a House whose Foundation was God’s Word, and a Man whose Hope was in the Righteousness of God. As these men followed David, there lives were changed, they became alive to God, to trusting in God, and David called them his Gibborim, his Mighty Men!

They became followers of  El-Gibbor – The mighty God.

Mighty Men:

Fear God Above All – Heart

David taught them to fear the Lord above all I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Depend Upon God Above All – House

David built his house with men who became mighty because their strength came from Mighty God

Magnify God Before Everyone – Hope

Psalm 52:9 I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.

Do You want to be a Mighty Man or Woman? Do you want to get on the winning side of the Rock? Do you see your need for a Savior?

1. Come as you are.

  • Are you in distress over this life?
  • Do you realize you owe a debt you can never repay? Jesus died for your sins, sins that meant you deserve condemnation in Hell. He redeemed you, paid the price to free you from your sins. You owe Him a debt you can never repay. Come to Him.
  • Are you carrying a heavy weight in your soul. Has life been so unjust that you ache.

2. Come to the Son of David, Jesus Christ

3. Come and bring your Sword!

  • Jesus is building an army of mighty men and women willing to take on the world! Discipleship is never passive, but always offensive!

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 654.

[2] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “1424: ‏נָשָׁא‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” nāshâ“.

[3] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 SAMUEL”.


Discipleship Leads to the Battlefield

Former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes. The cobbler asked young Reagan, “Do you want square toes or round toes?” Unable to decide, Reagan didn’t answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days. Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, “Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready.” When the future president did so, he found one square-toed and one round-toed shoe! “This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you,” the cobbler said to young Ronald. “I learned right then and there,” Reagan said later, “if you don’t make your own decisions, someone else will.” Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 16.

Discipleship begins with a decision. Discipleship continues with that same daily decision. If you fail to make that decision, this world makes it for you, and you will find yourself far from the Discipleship path.

The decision you must make and continue to make is, “what is the most important thing in my life?” Ask yourself, What am I building my life around? What is so important to me that I want to learn and understand everything about it? You may answer, “many things”. But at each of our lives there are some core values that are more important than anything else.

Millions of people went shopping the past couple of days. Most of them studied the adds, went on-line to find out where the best deals were. The media says we wait all year for this time, as if our Christmas depended upon it.

That is the influence of the world, of Babylon. Christmas is no longer about Jesus Christ, about salvation, about a supernatural life that He gives. Christmas is about getting the best deals on stuff that most people will throw away in a few years.

The elevation of “Black Friday” required a decision on the part of a small number of people, and because the rest of us were silent, the decision was made for us. We allowed ourselves to be influenced and so now many Christians are our Thanksgiving Day looking for bargains. And while Thanksgiving is not an official “Biblical” Holiday, it is in danger of becoming a non-day, overtaken by the commercialism of Christmas.

The same thing happened with the blue laws (stores not open on Sunday-to honor the Lord’s Day) a few years back. A small group of people decided the blue laws were archaic, and because Christians did not object, people no longer see the harm of shopping and eating on Sunday. Now we even have school and sports activities on Sunday. The disrespect for the Lord’s Day has continued to the extent that we now have a generation of children growing up who know nothing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We now have to remind people of the real reason for Christmas.

Discipleship indeed begins with a decision, but failure to maintain that decision can disqualify you from the discipleship path. You must decide that God is more important than anything and everything in your life. He is so important that you want to learn everything about Him. You want to even understand Him, what He delights in, how He works.  Everyday you must choose to make God the most important person in your life. So important that He changes the way you do life.

  • Discipleship begins with a decision to seek the heart of God!
  • Discipleship continues when you decide to allow His heart to affect the desires of your heart.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (ESV)

An Insight into “seek”

Yet the LORD set (hasaq) his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Deuteronomy 10:15 (ESV)

Set (& Seek) is the word hasaq. It literally means to bind oneself to. It pictures a man who has become attracted to a captive woman or slave and now he wants to bind himself to her in marriage. It is a binding of the heart to one whom is the object of your desires.

God chose Abraham and set His heart on him. God delighted in him to the point he bound Himself to him in a covenant that could not be altered. That covenant bound God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His delight progressed from one of God/subject to husband/wife, bound by covenant.

hāšaq: A verb meaning to be attached to, to love, to delight in, to bind. Laws in Deuteronomy described the procedure for taking a slave woman to whom one has become attached as a wife (Deut. 21:11). God’s binding love for Israel is described as unmerited love (Deut. 7:7)[1]

David made Decisions

  1. David wanted his life to matter so he chose to be a tree planted besides (God’s) living waters. (Ps 1)
  2. David did not want to live a life as worthless thorns, or worthless chaff. (Ps 1, 2 Sam 23:1)
  3. David wanted to live a life that mattered now and for the future.
  4. David decided to bind himself to this Yahweh in whom he trusted and loved. (Ps 25:5)
  5. Because of his decision, David found himself smack dab in the middle of a battle, and so will you.

David v. Goliath

This battle is a favorite Bible story for little children.  The story has been familiarized to the point that it loses its impact. It has become a cartoon. The significance of David finding himself on the battlefield as a young man, so soon after his decision to follow God, is that we will all face ‘giants’ on the battlefield as soon as we decide to become a disciple in the true sense!

Our Heart is  the Battlefield

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

David understood this and instructed his son Solomon:

Now devote (give-from נתן (nathan) your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 22:19 (NIV)

Nāthan נתן: A verb meaning to give, to place. This verb is used approximately two thousand times in the Old Testament; therefore, it is understandable that it should have a broad semantic range[2].

Discipleship begins with the Decision to ‘Give’ your Heart to God

Solomon likewise said, “Give me your heart”. Give (nathan) me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways.  Proverbs 23:26 (NASB)

As a young man, David did just that, and God took notice.

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:14 (ESV)

King Saul

Saul was the people’s choice for King. He had all the outward appearances of a King. He was tall, dark and handsome. He was strong and a forceful leader. Yet there was something wrong with his heart. His heart is described in 1 Sam 15:22:

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (ESV) And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion (meriy) is as the sin of divination (witchcraft-qesem-lumped with child sacrifice in Deut 18:10), and presumption (pāsar) is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Even though Saul was a King of Israel, even though he was a “Christian” so to speak, his discipleship took a wrong turn somewhere, and Samuel reveals those decisions that disqualified Saul .

Three Decisions Disqualify from Discipleship

1. We Stop Listening to God

  • “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Psalm 81:11-13 (ESV)
  • Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Ecclesiastes 5:1 (ESV)
  • I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:4 (ESV)
Who we listen to gets us into trouble

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Genesis 3:17 (ESV)

Who has your ear? Who do you spend the most time listening to? How much time do you spend in the Word, or in prayer? To listen often leads to obey. Are you most influenced by what the world teaches? Are you listening to what God says?

We are influenced by what we listen to and watch. What else would drive a sane person to camp out for Black Friday specials? 25 years ago something like that would be considered insane!

2. We Tolerate a Rebellious Spirit

King Saul: For rebellion (meriy) is as the sin of divination (witchcraft-qesem-lumped with child sacrifice in Deut 18:10),

Moses to the Israelites: For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! Deuteronomy 31:27 (NIV)

meriy: A masculine noun meaning obstinacy, stubbornness, rebelliousness. The term consistently stays within this tight semantic range and most often describes the Israelites’ determined refusal to obey the precepts laid down by the Lord in His Law or Torah. This characteristic attitude was a visible manifestation of their hard hearts[3].

Qesem is generally forbidden[4] (Deuteronomy 18:10 (ESV) There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer),

We associate rebellion with out and out disobedience. We excuse some behavior as excusable. I don’t have time, I have so much stress, I have to have some me time or I’ll go crazy. We don’t classify selfishness as rebellion. In fact, we accept selfish behavior as normal. But God calls selfishness rebellion. It is no different from the sin of witchcraft, or the sin of child sacrifice. King Saul simply made a decision based upon what he thought was best. It was a rational, understandable decision. He even had God in mind when he made it. But God calls it rebellion, for it was a self-motivated decision.

  • Do the actions of your life reveal a rebellious spirit in your heart?

3. We Presume Upon God

Samuel said to King Saul: “presumption (pāsar) is as iniquity and idolatry”.

pāsar: A verb meaning to peck at, to press, to push. It indicates a literal physical push against someone (Gen. 19:9); In a negative sense, it refers to rebellion against someone, arrogance (1 Sam. 15:23)[5].

Presumption pushes God out of the way and does what it wants. Or worse yet, it presumes that God is not watching, or God does not care, and then goes its own way. Or worse yet, it presumes since you are of Abraham, or a Jew, (or a Christian) that you have a lock on God, and He will excuse your actions.

Christians presume upon God when they think God automatically excuses their sin or their laziness or their lack of prayer or whatever simply because he knows ‘I’m human’. Or simply because Jesus died for me on the cross. That is such pride and arrogance. With an attitude like that I would be concerned about the true state of my soul. How can God live in me, and I steal from Him by ignoring him or excusing my fleshly actions. I am no better than the money changers who presumed they could steal from the people because they were doing it in God’s Temple!

  • Are the presumptions of your daily life pushing God away?

When King Saul pushed God aside, God pushed him aside. He found a young man who had made a decision to set his heart upon God, to incline his heart on those things that God delighted in.

And the next thing you know, this young man is in the midst of a battlefield. He has another decision to make. There is a Giant facing the armies of Israel, and they are all afraid. For 40 days this Giant has been taunting them, and the men of Israel were losng their resolve for God. Onto this battlefield in the Valley of Elah steps a young disciple, and he provides us insight into beginning our discipleship journey with God, insight that will insure victory!

I.  Discipleship Requires Confidence in Who You Are!

A.  Experience The Daily Rush Of The Spirit Of God

1 Samuel 16:12-13 (ESV) Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

  • David was very aware that the Spirit of God was within him!

Even throughout his sin with Bathsheba, the Holy Spirit was with him. David desired the rush of the Holy Spirit so much that he dreaded its departure.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11 (ESV)

B. Experience The Daily Affection Of God For You.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV)

God has anointed us and put His seal upon us-the Holy Spirit is the proof of His covenant with us. Because of that covenant sealed by the Blood of Christ, we know that God has set his heart and eyes upon us, that His love is steadfast and unfailing, that His love is renewed to us each and every morning!

C. Experience What God Desires for You

God has an intentional plan for our lives with Him, and He wants us to realize what it is. He never sets His heart upon someone capriciously.

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, (6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6 (NKJV)

God is grooming us to be Priests and Kings. We have a higher calling, one which places responsibility upon us. Everything we experience is designed by God to train us to be a King or a Priest. But it is not dependent upon our ability, but upon the covenant which Jesus Christ has bound Himself to us.

His covenant means that we have confidence in Him and His provision whenever we face a giant…

(14) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

II. Discipleship Requires Confidence in Who God is!

A. There Is Always A Goliath Between You And God

We all know about Goliath. He was Big, Bad and Bronze! Oh, you never noticed the bronze part? You should, for therein lies the understanding of this battlefield.

Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? 1 Samuel 17:8 (NKJV)
And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies 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 17:10-11 (NKJV)

Bronze speaks of judgment.

In Numbers 21:9, Moses puts a model of a snake, made from brass (or bronze?) on a pole, and when the people looked at it they were delivered from the poisonous bites of the snakes that had infested their camp as a result of their own sin.

In the blueprints for the Tabernacle of Moses, the altar on which sacrifices were burnt was made of bronze. Bronze is the place in which your sacrifice meets the heat of fire  (judgment) and is consumed by it.

The giant Goliath, whose height was 6 cubits, and he had 6 pieces of armor; his spear’s head weighed 600 shekels of iron. If you thought it was related to 666, you are kind of right. Now, let’s look at the armor.

  • Helmet of bronze: His mentality was of judgment.
  • Breastplate of Bronze : a heart of judgment.
  • Leg Armor of bronze : Standing in judgment.
  • Coat of bronze mail : Surrounded by judgment.
  • Spear shaft of bronze : Weapon of judgment.

Goliath is a picture of Satan and all of his judgments against man. Our sins, our lusts, our failures, our weaknesses. These are all that Satan uses to condemn us and prevent us from seeing that we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. Fear is the great disciple killer!

  • Fear keeps us mired in the mud of our human weakness and sin.

The Tabernacle

There is not a single bronze item in the innermost part of the Tabernacle. Sure there is the bronze altar, the bronze water dish, etc, but all of that is outside, in the court.

Inside the Holy of Holies, everything is made of Gold. Gold speaks of divinity, of purity. Christians are forever covered with gold. Where? look at the walls. The bible says to have wooden boards with “hands” at the bottom, which fit perfectly into the silver bases and are made to stand upright (Ex. 26:15-18; 36:21-22). The silver is a picture of Jesus Christ, our Savior. See the beauty of it?

  • The way for humanity to stand upright in God’s presence is to be placed in redemption.

There were also five (cross-members) bars for each side of the Tabernacle (Ex. 26:26,27; 36:31,32). The middle bar of the five was to pass through the centre of the boards from one end to the other (Ex. 26:28; 36:33). All the bars and rings were overlaid with gold (Ex. 26:29; 36:34). The number 5 speaks of Grace. The middle bar, passes through the board. and the bible says that the wood is also covered with gold, every inch is covered.

Here is the picture: You (wood), covered with Holiness( Gold) inside and outside, made to stand in Redemption ( silver), and as a result, not a single bit of your sin (wood) can be seen in God’s presence.

We MUST have Confidence in Who God is and What He has provided for us in order to defeat these Giants!

David, A Man Who Knew Who He Was, And Who He Followed.

Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:32 (NKJV)

David knew the value of a strong heart. Soldiers weak in heart are of no use on the battlefield. They are of no value to the King, or to God. Disciples are strong of heart for they seek the heart of God!

B. True Disciples Know The Battle Has Already Been Won

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV) 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.

  1. For 40 days Saul had taunted the soldiers of Israel. (1 Sam 17:16)
  2. Jesus fasted for 40 days…

…Until his flesh was totally weak, and beginning to consume itself. It was only then that He faced Satan, for he wanted nothing ot the flesh to present in defeating Satan. No, Jesus would defeat Him by the power of the Word of God, with no tainting of the flesh.

(4) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. (5) Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 (ESV)

III. Discipleship requires tested armor!

So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. 1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NKJV)

1. No Pretend Disciples.

You don’t go to battle by pretending to be a mighty armored warrior. You must begin winning little battles with the weapons you have and can use.

David had faced lions and bears out in the field. He fought against them with weapons he was familiar with. Disciples don’t come to church with their super Christian armor on. Disciples don’t try to impress one another. Disciples are schooled in battle where you work, where you live.

2. Only Real Disciples

You face Goliath’s at work. He may be a she, and tell you what to do. He may be a fellow worker who wants to influence you to do this or that. You face Goliath’s at home. He may be a loved one that battles your emotions, that hurls those darts that get so personal. There is no pretend on the battlefield. Pretenders are casualties of war. Disciples must learn to slay Goliath with the weapons and armor that they are familiar with. We battle the flesh at home, work, play, and most of all in the desires of our heart.

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 (ESV)

IV. Discipleship Requires the Grace of God

David picked up 5 stones

Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:40 (ESV)

Five is the Number for God’s Grace

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. This is very significant. Not because God chose Abram or because God endowed upon him his grace, but, the change was made by inserting in between his name the fifth letter of the alphabet h (Hey).

Back to the Tabernacle:

The brazen altar in the Court of the tabernacle was FIVE cubits long, FIVE cubits wide, and it had FIVE vessels connected with it (Exodus 27:1-3).  The COURT which was FIVE cubits high, “The LENGTH of the court shall be a HUNDRED cubits, and the BREADTH  FIFTY everywhere, and the HEIGHT  FIVE cubits of fine twined linen” (Ex.27:18).  Grace shuts in the believer on every side.

David Killed the Giant

When David went to fight with the Goliath, he chose five smooth stones. These five stones pictured God’s grace, as David needed only one, the one with Divine Power.

How is Your Heart?

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)

Discipleship begins with a decision to bind your heart to God’s Heart. Discipleship takes place when God’s Heart affects the desires of your heart. We only have access to the divine power as we seek to listen and obey, and when our obedience matures.

ONGOING BATTLE

There will be an ongoing battle for your heart. Goliath is lurking out there, and he wants to bring fear and distrust into your heart. If he does, he will ruin you for the battlefield. He’ll either distract you, lead you to stop listening, tolerate rebellion, and even fool yurself into presuming upon God.

No matter what Goliath does, his end game is to disqualify you from being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. He wants to render you worthless and ineffective.

How is your heart? Do you desire to know this awesome invisible God? Do you live and breathe Jesus Christ? Or have you failed to defeat Goliath, and find your Christian walk ineffective? Have you even pushed Christ aside this week? Or have you slain a few Goliath’s through His grace?


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” ‏חָשַׁק‎”

[2] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 761.

[3]Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, .

[4] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “2044: ‏קָסַם‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 805.

[5] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book,