Posts Tagged ‘pride’


A young boy once accompanied his mother to worship. During the sermon, the boy was listening very attentively to the lesson that day. The preacher’s sermon on the crucifixion of Christ was so moving that the boy began to weep. Soon he began to cry aloud. His mother became so embarrassed that she whispered to him, “Don’t take it so seriously.”

Oh, that we would take the cross more seriously.

  • If we take the Cross from the Bible, we have no Bible.
  • If we take the Cross from God, we have no God.
  • If we take the Cross from Jesus, we have no Savior.
  • If we take the Cross from our lives, we have no Salvation.

This morning we want to lay the Foundation of the Cross: “Because of the Cross…we have Jesus.”

When Jesus was on the Cross, suspended between God and man, the Bible records something the jeering crowds said to Jesus:

Mark 15:29-30 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!”

Not only did they tell Jesus to save himself, they also said:

Matthew 27:42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

The crowd was calling for Jesus to come down from the Cross. They said “save yourself” and we will believe in you.

This is the choice that has confronted mankind since Adam and Eve. Do we trust in God for our salvation? Or do we trust in our own efforts and seek to save ourselves? Jumping off the Cross was not the miracle that Jesus was going to use to save mankind or himself. The Cross had a work to do in His life, and it has a work to do in our life. As we discover all that is available to us “Because of the Cross…” we will come to cherish its work in our lives, just as Jesus realized what it was working in His life.

The Cross was not incidental to Jesus Christ. It was no “book-end” to His great teachings. He was not a “martyr” for his cause. The Cross defined everything about Jesus Christ. Because of the Cross…we have Jesus.

We will look at three major aspects of Jesus’ life here on Earth, and we will see how each one is defined by the Cross. We Will Look At His Mission, His Message And His Ministry.

A. The Mission of Jesus is defined by the Cross.

It was a 99-degree September day in San Antonio, when a 10-month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth. It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free.

Was he heralded a hero? Arriola reported, “The lady was mad at me because I broke the window.” “I just thought, What’s more important–the baby or the window?”

This world scoffs at the Cross as if it was no big deal. They are like the mom who is more concerned about her car than the baby. They see the Cross as some aberrant part of Jesus life, but ignore the impact the Cross has upon the way we live. They would rather have their life intact than subject it to the work of the Cross that they might be saved.

To Jesus, the Cross defined His very purpose for coming to the Earth. The Cross defined His very mission.

Philippians 2:7-8 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Indeed, when the time appointed approached, Jesus set His face like a flint:

Luke 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

This is a reference to a prophecy in Isaiah:

Isaiah 50:7 But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

As hard as the hearts of men are toward God, so was Jesus determined with every strand of His DNA to go to the Cross!

Ezekiel 3:8-9 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”

B. The Message of Jesus is defined by the Cross

We often associate the Message of Jesus with John 3:3 or John 3:16

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Actually, the Message of Jesus was demonstrated in actions rather than words:

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

We can see this is true because of this common theme in His preaching:

  • Matthew 10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
  • Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
  • Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
  • Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
  • Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

As we look at the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and ask, “What is the message of Jesus Christ?” The Cross is the defining message of Jesus.

Not only did the Cross secure our forgiveness from sin, but the Cross is the basis of our fellowship with God and each other. Not only did the Cross enable our New Birth, but the Cross enables us to follow and serve Jesus. The Cross is the basis of our living as a Disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Cross is in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:3-11 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “ Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

  • Take away the Cross and there is no poor in spirit, only pride
  • Take away the Cross and there is no mourning over sin.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no meekness.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no Righteousness of God available.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no mercy.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no way to be pure in heart.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no possibility of peace.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no persecution for Righteousness sake.

Look at any message or command of Jesus Christ and it becomes meaningless without the Cross.

C. The Ministry of Jesus is Defined by the Cross

“Let a man preach with the greatest ability and zeal everything in the Bible but the Cross, he shall, as to the great end of preaching, preach in vain. While, on the other hand, the honest preaching of the Cross – though in great weakness, and even when accompanied with great deficiencies as to a full declaration of the counsel of God on some other subject – has usually been accompanied with the divine blessing. The leading object of the preacher should be to keep the mind and the heart of his hearers steadily fixed on Christ Jesus – Christ Jesus crucified[1].”

Most ministries today seek the glory of man. The emphasis is on production, media, and ratings. Ministry has become “professional.” Ministries today say, “Look how great our _____________ is.” It can be numbers, the facilities, the preacher, the TV ministry, radio. Ministry in America is corrupted by a man-centered view of effectiveness.

In the meantime, our Nation is not impacted for righteousness. We are not producing “fruits meet for repentance.” Pride in ourselves and our accomplishments will always interfere with enjoying the Righteousness of God!

Luke 3:8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

You visit third world countries where the Gospel is spreading and people are coming to Jesus, they do not put money into facilities, they do not brag about numbers, they give glory to God for what He is doing, and then they add there is still so much to do. They do not have much money, they do not have anything to boast in, but they have Jesus!

Jesus revealed His ministry strategy in John 12:

John 12:23-26 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

  • Jesus said His glory was revealed in His death.
  • Jesus said if anyone serves Him, they must follow Him.

Where is Jesus? Is He in our beautiful buildings? Is He sitting comfortably on a padded chair or padded pew?

Hebrews 13:8 reveals where Jesus is and where those who serve Him are to go:

Hebrews 13:8-13 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.

Servants are not to be led away by teaching which is contrary to Jesus’ Life! He is the same yesterday, and today and forever. His ministry objective never changes!

Jesus is all about the Cross.

Jesus suffered and died outside the camp, away from the padded pews and the central air. He died outside to camp to bring righteousness to sinful people through His sacrifice. If we are to see righteousness and revival, we must go to Him outside the camp and bear His reproach. If we are to follow Jesus, we must bear the reproach of the ministry of the Cross.

D. What then is the Mission, Message and Ministry of the Cross?

  • (How can we experience the power of the Cross that Paul spoke about?)
The Cross is the Wisdom of God as opposed to the Wisdom of Man

1. The Cross Reveals the Wisdom & Power of God

1 Corinthians 1:17-21 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power… For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

a. God’ wisdom is revealed in the Cross.

Are you facing a difficult decision? Do you really need God’s Wisdom for a particular situation? Do not ask God for wisdom if you are not willing to apply the Cross to your life. He will not give it, for His Wisdom ALWAYS involves the Cross.

Unfortunately, just as the Cross is foolishness to those who are not saved, so it can be foolishness to Christians who in their pride refuse to submit their lives to the Cross.

That is why Paul adds the qualifier to verse 18:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Regeneration is a onetime occurrence, but Life, or Salvation (sozo) is an ongoing, continual process. Many Christians are overcome by the world, (lost in the wilderness) because they fail to submit to the Cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

If you are to be continually saved from this wicked world, you must continually submit to the power of the Cross.

b. God’s Power is Revealed in the Cross

Just look at what happens in the lives of people when this message is preached and taught.

  • …Murderers become martyrs…
  • …fighters become lovers…
  • …hate-mongers become peacemakers…
  • …drunks become evangelists…
  • …gang members become church members…
  • …addicts become soul-winners…

and the list could go on and on and on! The very power of God is released in those of us who are being saved by the message of the Cross!Our lives, our wisdom, our objectives, our quarrels, our work, our play our families are all to be defined by the message of the Cross! When life is out of sorts, when turmoil and trials are surrounding you…Look to the Cross! There is peace at the Cross.

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

2. The Cross Reveals the Folly of Man

Just as the crowd taunted Jesus to come down from the Cross, it is not natural for us, even Christians, to submit our lives and possessions and goals and aspirations to the Cross.

  • Look at this exchange Jesus had with His lead Disciple:

Matthew 16:23-24 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

If you are to set your mind on the things of God, you must submit to the Cross. It is because of the Cross that we can be acceptable to God.

  • Look at this exchange Jesus had with a prospective disciple:

Mark 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The Wisdom of Man is opposed to the Cross.

Philippians 3:17-19 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

3. Because of the Cross…we Have Jesus

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied (kenoo) of its power.

Kenóō The word kenóō, to make empty, is used metaphorically as meaning to bring to nothing in the sense of not accomplishing what one set out to accomplish as in Rom. 4:14, the faith not accomplishing its purpose. Used as an adj. in reference to the cross of Christ, meaning the cross not accomplishing its purpose, The antithesis of plēróō, to fill.[2]

The power of the Cross is what it provides for us – God’s Grace!

As we empty ourselves of our pride, we are filled to overfilling with God’s Grace!

James 4:6-10 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

It is the Grace of God that is to Fill us and Lift us UP, not the pride and wisdom of man!

We are not to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps!

“Exalt” does not mean you will have glory and honor, as man defines it. We seek not our own, for we seek God’s Wisdom. We seek to die to self and humble ourselves and all that we want before God. When He is given freedom to work in your life, then He will bring His glory to you.

Just as Jesus could not enter the Glory of Heaven without being lifted upon the Cross, so too we cannot enjoy the Glory of God upon us unless we humble ourselves to the Cross, and allow Him to lift us up.

Here is a picture of this verse:

Mourners and penitents lay on the ground, and rolled themselves in the dust. When comforted and pardoned, they arose from the earth, shook themselves from the dust, and clothed themselves in their better garments. God promises to raise these from the dust, when sufficiently humbled[3].

J Vernon McGee paints a more graphic picture:

I observed a lifeguard once as he hit a drowning fellow with his fist and knocked him out. The lifeguard explained that the drowning man was struggling and that he could not help him until he gave up. I think sometimes God gives us the fist so that we just give up and let Him take over.[4]

So how do we experience the Mission, Message and Ministry of Jesus?
How do we experience Jesus?

We MUST EXPERIENCE the Cross!

Philippians 2:1-8 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Every step of Jesus on this planet took Him one step closer to the Cross.

His first step was what we call the “self-emptying”. Jesus, Son of God, Creator of this Universe, became nothing.

From the insignificant birth, to an insignificant childhood, to a ministry to an insignificant people. He sought no fanfare. He sought no audience with Kings. He sought no titles. He sought no riches. Jesus sought the Cross. (Jim Tompkins)

The life of Jesus began with His willing and loving release of privilege and power…those two things that mankind places great importance in. This was the wisdom of God.

The world, through its wisdom, cannot understand a wisdom based on sacrifice, love and grace.

  • How foolish and weak it sounds to “turn the other cheek” in the face of an adversary’s threats.
  • How foolish and weak it sounds to speak of “loving your enemies.”
  • What kind of craziness is it to forgive others seventy times seven?
  • What foolishness it is to speak of “loving your neighbor as yourself”?
  • How silly it is to want to see yourself as a “servant” rather than as “the one being served.”

This is not the way of the world, but it is the way of the Cross!

Because of the Cross…We Have Jesus!

If you want to experience the grace and love of Jesus to the point that peace reigns in your heart, and His love pours through your life, you must choose whose wisdom you will follow.

Your choice is to live life in your pride and your own worldly wisdom, or to empty yourself, and submit everything to the Cross of Christ.

  • Apathy toward the Cross is pride.
  • Indifference to the Cross is pride.
  • Ignorance of the Cross is pride.
  • Neglect of the Cross is pride
Pride will prevent you from experiencing the Grace and Power of the Cross-Life!

Followers of Christ experience Jesus “Because of the Cross!”

  • We have Peace because of the Cross.
  • We have Unity because of the Cross.

Wherever there is disunity, hatred, gossip, slander, you know there is pride, there is selfishness, and the power of the Cross is made useless.

Only one thing can be done to lift up and restore the power of the Cross. Death to self and pride by repentance and humbling ourselves to will of Christ and His Cross.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Earn this... Earn it

Most of us have seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The captain, played by Tom Hanks, and most of his squad end up fatally wounded after trying to hold a bridge; but at least their mission has been accomplished: Private Ryan is safe. The dying words of Tom Hanks’ character have to be some of the cruelest last words on film. Hardly able to speak, the dying captain whispers to Private Ryan his final command: ‘Earn it! Earn it!’ In other words, live such a life that gives purpose to these men’s deaths. ‘Earn it!’ They are cruel words, for they placed upon Private Ryan a terrible, heavy burden. The film then closes with a scene in the present day as the now elderly Ryan kneels at the captain’s grave in a Normandy war cemetery. Tears stream down his cheek as he says to his wife, ‘Tell me I’ve been good. Tell me I’ve lived a good enough life.’

“Can you imagine if Jesus’ dying words on that cross were, ‘You all earn it!’ Can you imagine how much greater the burden would be? To earn the death of the one we worship as God! The pressure would be overwhelming. We could never do it. Instead, Jesus cried, ‘It is finished.’ The message of the cross is simply that we can never earn it; nor do we need to. How do we respond to that? Well, in one sense, we can’t. It’s too much. In another sense, there is only one way – to love our God with all our heart, mind, strength and soul. In other words, to worship our God. Not to earn God’s love, but to revel in his love; not to persuade God to love us, but to delight in his love.” (Mark Meynell, “Cross -Examined” IVP, 2001, Leicester, pp.181&182)


[1] John Brown, D. D., An Exposition of The Epistle of Paul The Apostle to The Galatians, Banner of Truth, 2001, p. 370.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 857.

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “James 4”.

[4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 4”.

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David is a great example of a man who becomes a mighty disciple of Jesus Christ. Sure, I love Peter, Paul, Andrew, Timothy, but no one had their life exposed like David. No Disciple ever had his failures exposed like David. He is a man I can relate too. I hope you can relate to him as well.

Discipleship does not depend upon how much you know about the Bible. You can know all the numerology, all the Theology, all the Eschatology, even all the Soteriology and be dead in your walk with the Lord, and even be dead in your sins.

For Discipleship begins with your eyes being open to the reality of this invisible God. It Grows as the Word of God becomes your source for life, it develops as you learn to depend upon God as you encounter Goliath’s, Saul’s, Doeg, caves and today, a Fool.

Once you have begun your Discipleship Journey by giving your entire heart to God (because Faith has opened your eyes to see this Real Invisible God) then things will be actively at work in your life-hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

I know it is crazy to keep using the Hebrew, but did you know we will speak Hebrew in Heaven? God’s law is in Hebrew for a reason, and I believe when we speak it in praise to God, we will use the original language.

Hesed is unfailing love, the love that seeks us out, that strengthens us, that propels us all because of God’s covenant relationship with us.

Mishpat is God’s justice based upon His Word, becoming the justice of our life, and spreading to our House. Jesus Christ restored the Justice to this world when he was crucified and then resurrected. The Justice of the Cross becomes the justice of my heart and my house.

Tsedaqah is the righteousness that God wants to build in my life. The Justice of God in my heart will always seek to become the righteousness of Christ in my outward life. Righteousness is of Christ, but is in constant battle with our flesh, and this world. It is the righteousness of Christ that is constantly warring with the spirit of Babylon.

A Disciple must always be careful how he battles, for in the battle we can lose our walk with God.

  1. Discipleship truly develops when we deal with people. David’s Discipleship developed as he dealt with people.
  2. Discipleship also develops as we make choices.
  • Goliath chose to worship his strength and mocked God. David chose to exalt God’s Name rather than the fear of man.
  • King Saul chose his pride and arrogance and disobeyed God. David learned to humble himself under the wings of God rather than follow what his men or his emotions told him to do.
  • Doeg chose a selfish reward destroyed God’s servants.
  • David learned that the mercy of God means Justice and Righteousness come as he learns to trust God in the darkness of the cave, or on the side of the Rock.

Discipleship grows as we learn to deal with all kinds of people. In addition, as we encounter people, either our love of God will grow or it will weaken. This is where we find David this morning. He has an appointment with a Fool, a real Jerk, and David is going to develop as a Disciple through this encounter.

Lesson from Charlie the Janitor

In “They Call Me Pastor: How to Love the Ones You Lead”, H. B. London tells about his church janitor named “Charlie”. Charlie was a great cleaner. However, he was so frustrated by the people and how they left the church, that he would have been happier cleaning a hermit’s cave. He complained constantly to the Pastor. To Charlie, the church would have been a perfect place without people. He was constantly harping to the pastor to remind the people to keep the church clean and picked up. He even wanted the pastor to make a statement from the pulpit. However, Pastor London thought about it and realized that the church is not just made for people, it is the people.

“Let’s remember that Jess, Mary, Tony and Erica are the reason the church exists. Mrs. Carter, Mr.Jengling and Susie Mae are also part of the fellowship. Meeting human needs or providing a product is what helps businesses make a profit and defines the purpose of every profession.” It is true for us as pastors as well. Every Kingdom effort is intended to help someone.

The old business model was to focus on making a profit. Focus on the shareholders. The new “Apple” business model is to focus on bringing value to the customer. Give them a product that adds value to their life, and they will grow your business.

The focus is outward on the needs of the customer, not inward on the bottom line.

A church will grow as our neighbors learn we have a product that will add value to their lives. However, if the church focuses on their own bottom line, and wants to cater only to the members (or shareholders) the church will not grow. Our church is not about us, it is about “them”. We must not avoid outsiders; in fact, we must seek to bring value to their lives as we interact with them.

David Discipleship Brings Value

Look at David. He brought value to his men as he openly brought the reality of God into every situation he faced. Look at his interaction with Saul in 1 Samuel 24. David confronted Saul, waving the skirt of Saul’s robe in his hand, and said, see, there is no evil in mine hand. He lifted up God to Saul in verse 15: May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” 1 Samuel 24:15.

David brought the value of God before Saul. And for a moment, Saul responded to the mercy shown him.

1 Samuel 24:19-20 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.

Discipleship is embracing the Value of Jesus Christ for all of your life, and then exalting Him every chance your get. As you do, God will build your House, and your righteousness will be evident to others.

I. David Encounters a Fool

Remember-much of discipleship development occurs as we learn to react to others. God wants us to react to others in mercy, in justice and in righteousness. But underlying all of our dealings, there must be humbleness before God.

When David encountered a Fool, he forgot the humility part, until God sent a very special woman into his life.

A.  The Story – I Samuel 25

Samuel died. Israel mourned, and David went to the desert area of Paran.

The wilderness of Paran — stretching from Sinai to the borders of Palestine in the southern territories of Judea. Like other wildernesses, it presented large tracts of natural pasture, to which the people sent their cattle at the grazing season, but where they were liable to constant and heavy depredations by prowling Arabs. David and his men earned their subsistence by making reprisals on the cattle of these freebooting Ishmaelites; and, frequently for their useful services, they obtained voluntary tokens of acknowledgment from the peaceful inhabitants[1].

Here David’s men provided protection for the men shearing the 3000 sheep owned by Nabal. His men did not demand any food or payment, they simply stood guard. Normally Nabal’s men would have sustained losses, for roving bands of thieves are prevalent when it is shearing season.

David, in accordance with hospitality laws ingrained into the Jewish and Eastern culture, sent his men to request food and provisions in return for their protection. This was nothing unexpected, and Nabal, who was likely informed of the protection, refused proper hospitality. Not only did he refuse, he insulted David. He insulted his father. He implied he was a runaway slave, and said he would be stupid to take food meant for his shearers and give it to someone he did not know where they came from.

The insult was obvious, and David recognized it at once. As soon as he heard the report, he said, Get your swords on Men, were not going to take this insult sitting down. He left 200 men with the stuff, and he and 400 men left to kill Nabal and his men.

Balaam had a similar reaction to his Donkey

Numbers 22:29 and Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”

Was David justified? I believe so. David could not let this insult go unpunished. Nabal rewarded David’s good with evil, and it was David’s desire to bring justice to Nabal. (Only it was David’s idea of Justice).

King Saul was a different matter, for He was in God’s office. But Nabal was simply a churlish fool.

In this day and age, we cannot take justice into our own hands. There were no police in David’s day. There was only honor and insult. An insult required action, or there would be no honor.

Discipleship is about Mercy, Justice and Righteousness being in balance in our lives. David knew Nabal’s actions reflected a man who had no righteousness. He was foolish and evil, and David was going to deal with him.

Now surely David knew the command “Thou shalt not kill”. Did Nabal’s foolishness outweigh God’s command?

B. Abigail Intervenes

To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development:

1. Abigail appeals to David with hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah in view.
  1. Justice (for his House) – because that is what David was taking into his own hands. (vs. 28)
  2. Mercy, Unfailing Love – Reminder that David is bound up and held by God (vs. 29)
  3. Righteousness – David will one day rule as King, and there will be no grief or blood guiltiness. (vs. 30-31)

1 Samuel 25:28-31 (28) Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. (29) If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. (30) And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, (31) my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.” ”

2. Look at the Special Qualities of Abigail
  • She was respected (25:17).  The servant knew to go to her.
  • She properly reacted to anger (25:33, 35).
  • She had great faith in God (25:26ff).

She is presented as a woman familiar with God. Her confident trust in God allowed her to remain a saint even though she was in a miserable marriage. Her words to David reveal that her faith was very practical in her life (25:26, 27).

  • She was assertive and decisive (25:18ff).

The situation was urgent and Abigail moved in a decisive way to prevent harm. She knew what needed to be done and did it the best she could. She approached David in the customs of the day but she made sure the task was done (25:24). She did not hesitate to tell David that his desire for revenge was wrong. Later she confronted Nabal and told him how foolish he was (25:37).

  • She cared for the safety of her household (25:31).

Abigail’s first priority was the safety of her home. She did whatever was necessary to assure that her family honored God and was safe.

  • She was humble and meek (25:41, 44).

As she approached David, she demonstrated humility. Humility characterized her entire conversation. –Woman of meek and Quiet Spirit

  • She brought Joy to David’s heart. (25:32).

Indeed, her name meant “My father’s Joy”

II. David Discipleship Lessons

Discipleship Definition

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ” Discipleship is simply gaining by trading

Here was David, perfectly just in taking action against this insult. But would this have been a Discipleship Development Moment? Not if he killed Nabal. Disciples submit to God and His Direction.

Even though David did not know Jesus Christ, he was about to learn a lesson, for David is a type of Christ.

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

A. Fools are People who say “God is Not”.

Both Psalms14:1 and 53: begin with this statement. The fool (nabal) hath said in his heart, “There is no God”. Young’s Literal translation reveals what the italicized (There is) mean: “God is not”[2]. The “There is” is implied, but not in the Hebrew. You could also translate ‘êyn ‘elohiym as simply “No”. A Fool is someone who realizes there is a God, but denies that He has any importance or rule over his life.

There are others…who, while they profess to acknowledge both (God and his governance of the world), deny him in their heart, and live as if they were persuaded there was no God either to punish or reward.[3]

  • Nabal showed he followed his namesake by refusing to acknowledge David, refusing to be hospitable, refusing to share God’s providence.
  • Nabal’s pride was set against God’s right to govern and judge.
  • Terrell Suggs showed he is a fool by saying the Baltimore Ravens do not need God on their sidelines.
  • Our great nation has been playing the fool as we continue to deny God’s right to govern and judge.
  • “The Harbinger”
  • Preachers can be fools

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

  • Fools say No to God because they refuse to admit his way is wrong

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

B. Fools are Dangerous to Disciples.

We saw how David dealt with Goliath. We saw how he responded to King Saul. With both he trusted in the Lord! Even in the cave he exalted God, and said, God, you have your way. David faced these huge obstacles and trusted God more and more.

1. David Lost His Cool

Has that ever happened to you? You handle crises and major battles with grace, and people are amazed how you handle things so well, trusting God!

But face a fool, and you lose it! You get all upset, you blow your top and say some choice words!

2. We have all encountered fools like Nabal.

They are usually overbearing, contemptuous, hardheaded and hard hearted. We have all had our:

  • Kindness met by harshness
  • Service unrecognized, unappreciated.
  • Motives Questioned

3. Has this ever happened to you?

  • Your neighbor (you know the one) complains about your dog pooping in his yard for the 90th time and you go ballistic.
  • The bumbling server who has ignored you all night finally brings more drink and spills it all over you.
  • Your boss says one more snide remark and you blow your top.
  • Your friend says one more nasty comment about your kids and you rip into her.

We can put on our Christian Superman Suit to handle a sickness, or the death of a loved one, and everyone says, wow, he really trusts the Lord!

  • God forbid some fool follows too closely on the highway.
  • God forbid some fool keeps his brights on as he drives toward you.
  • God forbid some fool makes a snide comment about your personal hygiene.
  • God forbid some fool disrespects you and the job you are doing.

Fools can get under our skin; they can elicit emotions of revenge, yes, even of murder.

C.  Fools Threaten our House (God’s Justice)

As Abigail said to David:

1 Samuel 25:28-29 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.

1 Samuel 25:32-34 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

1. David would have troubled his house

If David had taken this action, justified in the sight of men though it was, it would have brought blood guiltiness upon his house. He would have “troubled his house” by seeking man’s justice, and not God’s.

Proverbs 11:29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

2. We must be wise in our Heart

The other half of this verse says that if you want to conquer the fools of this world, you have to be wise in your heart.

Fools strike without warning. We often react in the heat of the moment. But if our heart is wise, we can deal with them the way God wants us to deal with them. Abigail was wise in her heart. She was a picture of the Holy Spirit, who brought wise counsel to the heart of David.

She could have said: David, don’t be stupid! Don’t you know that God says thou shalt not kill! Don’t ruin your life by killing David! While it carried the right message, it would not have been well received. David would have perceived it as additional bitter judgment.

Instead, Abigail reached his heart by reminding David about his House, and how David’s Life was bound in a bundle held by God! David’s life was bound up in the one who held his life! Just as Christians, when we enter into salvation with Jesus Christ, from that moment on, our life is bound up in His life! We become a precious bundle to Jesus Christ. From that moment on our life reflects on His life!

David’s life was a precious bundle to God, for David’s life was bound up in God! Therefore, Abigail reminded David that God had a responsibility to take his enemies and sling them away as if slung from a sling. Abigail reminded David of Goliath, and how if David could trust God to deal with Goliath, he could trust Him to deal with Nabal!

3. David’s House and Inheritance was at Stake!

Isaiah 57:13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off; a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.

4. Wrong Reactions to Fools Will Trouble Your House

Just check the news out to see how people’s lives are ruined by the way they react to fools.

  • A man burnt down a topless coffee shop in Maine because his ex-girlfriend worked there.
  • In Louisville KY, Lequan Washington, 35, started punching his mom in the face when she refused to get him some Kool-Aid. Mom told him to get his own Kool-Aid. Washington told Police that his Mom fired a gun at him.
  • January 4th, a 32 year old man gouged his 62 year old uncles eye’s outs. His uncle was a fool, and finally did something to make the man snap.
  • You can go to YouTube and watch fights in restaurants, fights at school, and fights at the Subway.
  • People get beat by McDonalds Employees.

D.   God Is Best At Handling Fools.

If we can trust God with Goliath’s, with King Saul’s, with Doegs, with the darkness of Caves, we need to trust Him to deal with Fools!

1 Samuel 25:36-38 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.

David needed to be patient. Why ruin his House over a Fool? In treating the injustice of Nabal with more injustice, he would have failed his House, and taught a devastating lesson to his Men.

Luke 12:16-21 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Proverbs 27:22 You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.

E.  Disciples Become Fools when they say “No” to God.

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

F.  Disciples Hear and Heed the Holy Spirit

Abigail is a perfect example of the Holy Spirit. Her name meant “the Joy of my father” and is exactly the impact of the Holy Spirit! As she humbly plead softly David, reminding Him of God and David’s relationship and potential with God, David’s heart became soft, his emotions more reasoned and he committed Nabal to God.

  • 1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Abigail UNDERSTOOD the Ways of God

Think about Abigail just a moment. Here she was married to a Fool, and instead of despising God, or becoming a fool herself, she became a gracious woman, known for her beauty and wisdom.

She is a picture of the Grace of Jesus Christ, who said in John 16:33,  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Disciples do not have to lose our cool to fools. We simply have to follow the Holy Spirit.

1. God’s Loves the Unlovely, but He resists the Proud.

Jesus loved fools. They surrounded him. They were drunks, thieves, tax collectors. He loved Pharisees, but he had a hard time with their arrogance. Even though he was stern and direct with His rebukes, most refused to repent of their pride.

They should make Christians walk humbly before God, for the truth is we are only one step away from being a Pharisee. That is how dangerous pride is. When pride rears its ugly head, we push God to the side and say, “No God” I know what is best, I can figure this out on my own. As soon as we do, the Holy Spirit starts to whisper in our ear, “you fool!”

2. How did Abigail wind up with Nabal?

It could have been an arranged wedding. He could have been charming at first, and then became more in love with wealth.

Regardless, Abigail displayed total respect for her husband, at the same time appealing to David.

There was no betrayal, no selfishness,

3. Why did she intervene?

What do you do if you are married to a fool? When you are reviled, you revile not, but you commit yourself to Him who judges righteously. Do not take justice into your own hands, but appeal to God and patiently wait for him to bring his justice into your house.

A fool give full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. – Proverbs 29:11

Matthew 7:26-27 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

III. Holy Moments

David Discipleship is a “succession of holy moments in which we count on His grace and strength to get us through”. Alan Redpath

Most people come to church needing a Holy Moment. We do our best with singing and preaching, but church is not the place for holy moments. Holy moments take place as you encounter fools, and Goliath’s, your friends, your spouse, and your children. Holy Moments happen when in the face of someone or something that causes you to rear up in pride or revenge, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit whispers in your ear, and you humble yourself to submit to the Will and Word of God. A Holy Moment takes place when your will is set aside so that you may be set apart for the purpose of God!

David was puffed up with pride. He was owed something, his name had been disrespected, and his sword was drawn, ready to exact justice.

Along came the Holy Spirit in the form of Abigail, meaning ‘my Father brings Joy’ and what she said and did brought David into a Holy moment, where he was reminded once again that Discipleship is practicing God’s mercy, God’s justice and God’s righteousness.

Abigail brought a holy ‘unfailing love’ moment to his heart, reminding David that he was a precious bundle whose life was held by God. So this Holy Moment brought a change to David’s Desire.

Abigail brought a holy moment into his House, by reminding him that his pride was about to bring dishonor to his house, a house that God had great plans for. Who cares what a fool thinks of him and his house. As she reminded David:

1 Samuel 25:28 … the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD…

David must stand upon the justice of God, and fight the battles of the Lord. That requires humbleness, not pride. Therefore, this holy moment was beneficial to David’s descendants.

Abigail then brought a holy moment to David’s hope, reminding him that God was able to sling his enemies like a rock from a sling. That holy moment brought a decision that resulted in David’s development as a Disciple, a Mighty Man of God.

Esau and Jacob

Did you ever wonder why God chose the wimpy, liar, deceiver and thief Jacob to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel? Why not Esau, a man’s man, a hunter, a skilled fighter? He would make an excellent leader for the Jewish Nation.


God hated Esau and loved Jacob, because the one sin that God despises most in man is his pride and arrogance. God could work with a liar and a thief, but he could not work with a proud man. God saw Jacob transformed into a man who leaned on Him. That never would have happened with Esau, for he was too puffed up. Hebrews 11:21 says that Jacob blessed his sons while leaning on his staff. He had learned that he nust depend upon the Lord God for every aspect of his life. So he blessed as he leaned on the Lord!

Are you on a Discipleship Path this year? Do you desire to Develop into a man of God? Then let this mind be in you which was in our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though He deserved to be treated as God, he deliberately laid everything aside, humbling Himself to Death, even the death of the Cross.

Do you desire Holy Moments in your Life? Then lay aside your rights, your pride, your comforts, and your reputation. Humble yourself to the Holy Spirit, and trust in God to grow you and develop you into the man of God He desires.

As Isaiah wrote: “he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain”.


[1] 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”.

[2] Psalm 14:1 A fool hath said in his heart, `God is not;’ They have done corruptly, They have done abominable actions, There is not a doer of good. (Youngs Literal)

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Psalm 14”.


I like eating in the local diners in small towns. I like eating at Pat’s. I like eating at the Halfway Restaurant and Tire Shop. The local diner is where you can hear about all the small town gossip. In fact, at one little diner I ate at, there was even a note under the glass counter where you paid that said:

“Not much happens in a small town, but what you hear makes up for it.”

We love to talk, to communicate with each other. After all, we are made in the image of God, and God is a God of communication. He loves to talk with us. He loves to communicate His truth to us in His Word, in His creation, in the social orders that he places us. In fact, I am a firm believer in the truth that if you want to speak to God, if you want to find God, He will reveal Himself to you. But you must seek Him as God of your life, and not as god911 to call when you have an emergency. He is not a god you can go shopping for like a good luck charm, or a piece of jewelry you can wear. If you seek to know your creator God, and live your life in Him and for Him, He will communicate with you.

Communication is important to us. Lydia and I just spent a week with over 3000 people in a small environment. All we did was talk; make new friends; meet people from different countries, different accents. One thing that I saw was common, regardless of what country we were from, is a little verse in James:

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7, 8)

Now most of the time our conversation was polite, friendly, and civil. But every so often you would hear an occasional grumble. It might be a waiter we had befriended, complaining about the politics among the wait staff. One time a very pleasant older man made a comment about the town we had docked at, and the condition of the stores and the impoverished people. One time it was about all the children begging for money. One time it was even me grumbling about the price of taxi rides. Other times it was a comment about an older man with a much, much younger woman. Our tongues are great for communicating, but sometimes that communication can be negative.

This has been a year of not saying can’t, of seeking God’s Will, of learning all the great things we have through the Cross of Christ, of purposely seeking to be peacemakers, of getting close enough to our neighbors so that we can open our hearts to their needs, so that we can begin to be the physical representative of Jesus Christ.

The next few weeks are our holiday time, a time of giving thanks, a time of reflecting upon the incarnation of God in human flesh, the Baby Jesus, the Savior of the World. As we look forward to the New Year, 2011, God has challenged me to see 2011 as the year of DOING! I am convinced God has some great things in mind for this body to do, to reach for, and to accomplish. As He challenges me, and as I in obedience challenge you, the real test will come in our communication with each other and to our neighbors around us. What are we going to communicate?

What are we as Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church going to be saying to the world around us?

Rev 3:19-20  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Jesus has a huge investment in our church. He stands at the door of our church, knocking, and one of two things can happen. We open the door, let Him in, and through our communication with Him and with each other we feast, we fellowship, we grow, we see our body increase and grow stronger. Or something else happens; our communication turns negative, as James mentions:

Jas 5:9  Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

James is saying that when we start to grumble against each other, instead of Jesus coming in for fellowship, he comes in as our judge!

Now which Jesus do you want coming into our church?

This grumbling can be out-and-out grumbling, but it can also be more subtle, like a sigh, or a groan.

When you were in school it could be the sound all the students make when the teacher says Pop Quiz. Or the coach saying “ten laps” or the Pastor saying …well, anything.

It also pictures a person who is fretful or impatient. I don’t have to complain with words to my wife when we are shopping. All I have to do is fold my arms, tap my foot, look at my watch, or wander off. My impatience is grumbling! Wives, you don’t have to verbally complain about your husband, all you have to do is sigh, roll your eyes, slam the plate down.

If your toes are starting to hurt, don’t think I’m picking on anyone. In fact, it’s time for me to come out of the closet! I am a closet grumbler! Anyone else want to admit it?

When it comes to grumbling, 99% of us are guilty. It is almost American to grumble about something. It can be the weather, it can be taxes, it can be politics, it can be the preacher, it can be this or that. Face it, we grumble. All I want us to see is how devastating it can be to the faith-life of a church. Because the minute a spirit of grumbling enters a church, that church has taken its eyes off Jesus Christ!

So, in light of Thanksgiving, and in light of Doing in 2011, my word to each of you this morning is to:

  • Stop your moaning.
  • Cease from Groaning.
  • Zip your griping.
  • Lose your beef
  • Throw out your carp.
  • Kill the grouse
  • 86 the complaining.

But most of all:

Quit Your Bellyaching!

The last sign I want to see over the door of PPBC is: “Not much happens in a small church, but what you hear makes up for it.”

I heard David Ring preach back in 1985. David Ring has Cerebral Palsy. He jerks his head and arms, has difficulty walking, talks with a jerky stutter. He is the last preacher you would want to listen to. But when he preached that morning, my heart was touched.

You think your life is tough? You think you have a reason to complain? How would you like to depend upon someone else to go the the bathroom? How would you like to depend on someone else to get out of bed in the morning? How would you like to take ten minutes to order a Big Mac?

He said over and over QUIT YOUR BELLYACHING!

I like to use bellyaching instead of grumbling, because the root of most complaining is pride, and the Bible uses the belly as a picture of pride:

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Php 3:17-21)

Satan rebelled from God because of his own pride. He appealed to Adam and Eve on the basis of their pride. “Isn’t that fruit beautiful? God doesn’t want you to eat it because He wants to keep you ignorant. You have a right to eat it. You have a right to know as much as God.”

So God said, “You think pride is such a good thing? Well, I’ll show you-since your belly is your god, try crawling on it the rest of eternity!”

So the next time you start bellyaching, just ask yourself: Is my belly my god? Is my pride my god?

  • “I paid a lot for this cruise; I shouldn’t have to put up with this.”
  • “I am an excellent waiter; they have no right to treat me like this.”
  • “That person shouldn’t do that, I know better how they should act.”
  • “I know how best to run this or that…”

Here is Life Advice from God’s Word:

Heb 13:5-6  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. So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Bellyaching closes our eyes to God and His presence, God and His power!

God wants us to see Him in every situation we face. He wants us to depend upon Him in every circumstance, every hardship, every difficulty. Even when you want to bellyache about someone else in the church or at work, God wants you to look to Him. Jesus is entering the door of your heart and saying, “quit your bellyaching!” You are making your belly your God, and not me! Your contentment in not in me! You are minding earthly things! Stop it, because you are a citizen of heaven! He wants you to say the Lord is my helper! The Lord is in control! Don’t you believe that I AM your helper, I AM with you!

Remember when you were little, mom would say quit your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about! James is saying the exact same thing!

  • Quit Your Bellyaching! Or the judge will enter your life and give you a real bellyache!

If you are a closet bellyacher, this is hard to do!

Every day we are bombarded with situations, with news, with difficulties that just seem to bring out the bellyaching. Once a few people start, it just starts gathering more people, and soon it is an unstoppable boulder of bellyachers rolling down the hill.

One day there was a loud commotion coming from a children’s Sunday School room. Several adults hurried to the room to see what was going on. The door opened and a second grade boy came out saying: “We’re being bad, and we don’t know how to stop.”

Sometimes we adults don’t know how to stop either. We go on doing things the way we’ve always done them. We go on being critical of every new thing that comes our way. We go on running down our spouse or our church with our tongue and bellyaching without it even occurring to us that it takes a foul bird to (crap in) besmirch its own nest.

Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of heaven in Isaiah 65:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.(Isa 65:17-24)

In Heaven there is no remembrance of the past. The past destroys the beauty of God!

Paul knew that looking forward is the best way to stop bellyaching:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Memory does become a blindfold that keeps us groping in the darkness. Isaiah, by pointing the people to what God is going to do was the only way to get the people to open up the power of God and to stop them from bellyaching.

When we keep focusing on the past, or the things we don’t like about the present, we will never stop bellyaching. We’ll be like those second graders, “We’re being bad and we don’t know how to stop.”

What has the power to stop our bellyaching and get us to focus on God’s presence His power, and His future for us?

How do we stop our bellyaching?

We allow the Gospel of Christ into our daily lives. Not just on Sunday, but everyday!

When someone does something you think is wrong, remember, Jesus Christ loved that person enough to die for them. Whenever you are inconvenienced a bit, or have to sacrifice your precious time, remember what Jesus experienced for you. Remember what He sacrificed for you! Is it too hot? Jesus felt hell for you! Is it too cold? Jesus experienced the cold rejection of God for you. Is it too rainy? Jesus cried eternal tears for your salvation. No money to go out to eat-Jesus fasted 40 days for you. Complaining about a sickness or disease-Jesus became cursed and sin-sick for you. Down in your back? Jesus gave his back to the Cross. Your blood pressure a bit high? Jesus sweat drops of blood for you!

The Gospel of Jesus means that there is nothing to bellyache about! We have so much, we should be rejoicing all the time!

Hebrews 10 paints another picture of a True follower of Jesus:

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Heb 10:36-39)

  • Bellyaching is the enemy of endurance.
  • Bellyachers shrink back and are destroyed.
  • Bellyachers lack faith
  • Bellyaching  is a sign of a weak soul.

Let’s read on and see how this works

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Heb 11:32-40)

Imagine if you will what would have happened to this great cloud of witnesses if they had been bellyachers…

  • Abraham…Come on Sarah, this desert is too harsh. These tents leak, it smells like wet goat after every rain. Let’s go back to Ur where we had a really nice home.
  • Joseph…you really made me suffer God. I had to eat rats in prison. No matter what good I did I got in trouble. I’m going to start worshipping one of these Egyptian gods. And by the way, brothers, you are going to prison for a very long time, so you will know exactly what I went through.
  • Moses…You want me to do what? God back to Egypt? No way God. You left me out here with these stupid stinking sheep for 40 years. That was no way to treat someone like me. I’m going to stay here enjoying my simple uncomplicated life. Those jews rejected me once, so they can just stay in Egypt and rot!
  • Joshua…fought a battle with trumpets
  • Gideon…faced a mighty army with 300 soldiers
  • Samson…eyes were put out
  • Barak…served under Deborah
  • Ezekiel…. laid on his left side for 390 days. Then his right side for 40

4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year. 7 And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with your arm bared, and you shall prophesy against the city. 8 And behold, I will place cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, till you have completed the days of your siege. Ezekiel 4:4-8

  • John the Baptist…imprisoned

Everyone of the great men of the Bible had ample reasons to bellyache. Nothing we have gone through even compares with what they experienced. Instead of focusing on what they had, what their circumstances were, what had happened in the past…They looked forward to the PROMISES of GOD!

Thanksgiving should not be a time at just looking at the past…Thanksgiving should be a time of looking to the future!

Today these mighty witnesses are assembled over our church, cheering us on. They are saying quit your bellyaching! God is so powerful, so amazing! Trust in Him. Open your eyes to Him!

Remember the servant of Elisha? He had to have his eyes opened to see the forces of God! We should ask the same thing!

13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:13-17

Don’t look at what you don’t have! Don’t look at all the enemies, the hardships, the ‘impossibilities!

Get your eyes off your bellies and Look to Jesus!

Christians live the Gospel by their response to the Cross! If you think being a Christian means you are entitled, you are worshipping a Jesus that you have dreamed up. You might as well dress your Jesus up in a Santa Claus suit, because that is what He is to you. But that is not the Jesus Christ who walked this earth. That is not the Jesus Christ who one day will return as judge and King!

Your must make a choice-love your own life, or love Jesus Christ. Shrink from the cross, or carry your cross.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11

John Paton is not a well-known name in church history. He pastored a growing church in Scotland for 10 years in the 1800’s. God burdened his heart for New Hebrides, a group of islands in the Pacific. The natives were cannibals and had no gospel witness.

20 years earlier two missionaries had gone to the island and were promptly killed and eaten by the natives. Paton wrote that among the many who tried to talk him out of going was an elderly Christian who always ended his arguments with “The cannibals! You will be eaten by Cannibals!’

John Patton replied; “Sir, you are advanced in age and you own prospect is to lie in a grave and be eaten by worms. I confess to you, that if I can live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms. In the great resurrection day my body will arise just as fair as yours in the likeness of our Redeemer!”

At the age of 33 (1858) John Paton travelled to the New Hebrides with his wife. The journey was difficult. His wife and new-born son dies within four months of arriving. He was all alone, digging their graves with his bare hands. He faced threat after threat on his life. But in the years to come, countless cannibals across the Hebrides came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Churches across Australia, Scotland and the Western world were challenged by his example to send forth more missionaries to people who before that time were considered impossible to reach.

Bellyachers Make Excuses and Miss God’s Power!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted and start bellyaching! (Heb 12:1-3)

Are you a Christian? Do you know Jesus Christ? Have you been born again? Does Jesus rule your life or is he just your good luck charm?

Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

  • There is no dead weight in God’s Kingdom.
  • Service is not an option.
  • A true christian realizes it costs something to follow Jesus
  • A true Christian realizes there is no room for bellyachers

The Hard is What Makes It Good

A League of Their Own, starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. Near the end of the film, the team coached by Tom Hanks is about play in the Girls’ Baseball World Series during World War II. Geena Davis, the star catcher, has decided to go home because her husband has returned from the war. Hanks confronts her by reminding her of how much she loves the game. “I don’t love it,” she says, “Not like you.” “Oh yes you do,” Hanks replies. “It’s in your blood.” “I can’t do it,” she says. “It’s too hard.”

At that moment Tom Hanks turns slightly, grabs his face, grimaces, and then says, “You’re right. It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it good.” With that he joins the rest of the team on the bus while Geena Davis leaves with her husband. Later she returns in time for the seventh and deciding game of the series.

“It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it good.”

That’s not just true about baseball. That’s the truth about the Christian life.

It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it good. And it will get rough. It always does. There will be hard days, bad days, sad days, discouraging days, confusing days, angry days, frustrating days, boring days, upsetting days, discombobulating days, and then there will be some really bad days.

The hard is what makes it good. Stop your complaining. Stop your bellyaching. Stop your moaning. Don’t be afraid of the Cross of Christ! Carry it with you, relish in the splinters, cherish the weight, the time will come when there will be no more memories of the troubles of the past! Only the JOY of His presence!


cainThe first Elder Brother mentioned in the Bible was Cain. Cain provides a picture of typical  Elder Brothers. They tend to be hands on. They are not dreamers watching the flock, but have to get their hands dirty at whatever they are doing. They just have to stay busy. Elder Brothers are stubborn. They think their way is best and do not take criticism well. Elder brothers are proud of their accomplishments. They resent it when someone questions what they have done, or implies that it isn’t very good (they REALLY resent back seat drivers). Elder Brothers are not very generous. They tend to count pennies. Elder Brothers also allow their passions to get the best of them, and often get angry. Sure, they usually justify and even deny their anger, but they get angry nonetheless.

Cain Kills AbleSuch was Cain, a hard worker, stubborn, proud, stingy and given to anger. He didn’t see himself that way, until God confronted him. Then he saw himself as the sinful man that he was. How did God deal with him? He struck him where it would hurt the most:

No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:12

He struck him at his pride of accomplishment, that which the Elder Brother values above everything else. Elder Brothers love to be seen as accomplished, successful, worth something. Cain would no longer have good crops, he would no longer have easy success, he would no longer have a nice home to invite people to. He would forever be a wanderer.

Cain protested that this was too much to bear, that people would try to kill him. So God put a mark on Cain, to serve as a warning of judgment to anyone who killed him.

Cain - Unicorn ManHave you ever wondered what that mark was? I have. The Jewish Rabbi’s have some wild theories about the mark. The one I like best is from Rabbi Joseph who says it was a long horn growing out of his head! Picture Hellboy with only one horn.

As an Elder Brother who has experienced the DISCIPLINING Hand of God, I think I know. Whatever this mark looked like, it showed Cain’s BROKENNESS. Elder Brothers can only experience a relationship with the Father if they have been truly broken. How do I know Cain was broken? He named his first born son Enoch or Chanoch which signifies “instructed, dedicated, or initiated, especially in sacred things.” It may be considered some proof of Cain’s repentance, that he appears to have dedicated this son to God (Adam Clarke)

Cain could no longer have anything he might boast in, that his hands had made or grown. But he did have a son. Instead of boasting in his son, Broken Cain dedicated him to God. This is what brokenness will produce, and what Elder Brothers must experience if they are to know the Father’s heart. They must realize that nothing they have or have done is worth anything unless they give it to God! The Father is the source of ALL BLESSINGS, and a broken Elder Brother will know that, and give thanks!

Father: Reveal those things in my life that I am proud of, and that I am holding onto as MY accomplishment. Allow me to let go, and give them to you. May I share in the brokennes of your Son, my True Elder Brother.


Journey of an Elder Brother Day Two

Grace

Elder brothers have a hard time understanding grace. O sure, we like the idea of all those riches given to us. But when it comes to the concept of doing NOTHING to obtain those riches, we just don’t get it. We are so used to EARNING our way. This world belongs to the strong, the hard working, the aggressive. Elder Brothers are goal oriented. If we don’t have goals to work toward, we are nothing. To think that someone weak and even lazy could get all those riches is repulsive to us. Elder Brothers like to boast of their accomplishments. How can you brag about something you did nothing to obtain?

Paul Rejoices in WeaknessPaul must have been an Elder Brother. He was driven. He was aggressive. He had a lot to brag about. But something happened to him. He was brought face to face with Jesus. He was brought face to face with how truly weak and insignificant he was. Jesus changed his heart. Even after he had the greatest experience any human can have, to be taken up to heaven, to hear words too marvelous to even be uttered, he told no one about it. He waited 14 years to even mention it. If he had been a real Elder Brother, he would have written a book, appeared on Oprah or something. No, something happened to Paul, something called grace.

Grace-and-the-Elder-BrotherIn 2 Corinthians 12 Paul mentions that experience of 14 years prior, but his emphasis is on his weakness, not his accomplishments.

Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him.

Paul glories in Weakness2Elder Brothers need to experience grace. We can’t comprehend it with our brain. We have to know it first hand. Elder Brothers often become bitter and judgmental rather than experience humility through trials and hardship. Elder Brothers either try to cover up their weaknesses, and push on; or they experience God’s Grace when they do as Paul did, humble themselves and rejoice in their weaknesses.

Prayer: Father, enable me to rejoice in my weaknesses and to experience your grace. May I glory not in my accomplishments, but in Your Strength, Your Riches!