Thursday, May 29, 2008

Know God's Desire

Into the Unknown: Part 4

Life has a way of throwing tough circumstances our way. In these tough times it is hard for us imagine a way out let alone see the light at the end of the tunnel. When this happens we usually conclude that God has closed the door and that we just need to wait around for God to open it back up again.

In 1 Samuel 14 we read about Israel’s tough situation. The Philistines occupied the land and their army was large and well equipped. Israel’s army had dwindled to 600 men with two swords. King Saul’s solution was to hide, but his son Jonathan had a different idea.

Here is where I want to draw the third parallel. The first step forward is understanding God’s great desire. Jonathan moved to engage the Philistines because he understood that God’s desire for Israel was for the people to be free. So what is God’s great desire today? Matthew 28:18-20 give us good summary of what God’s desire is:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (ESV).

No matter what situation we might find ourselves in, whether things are looking bright and hopeful or if things are dark and hopeless we need to set our minds to making disciples. This needs to be part of our prayer life, the reason we give money, and be worked into the conversations that we have. We need to live our lives with the purpose of making disciples of people, this isn’t just about evangelism, but it is also about help fellow believers mature in the faith. It won’t be easy and it will be risky. It certainly was for Jonathan and his armor-bearer.

Here is the speech, the pre-game pep talk, Jonathan gives to his young armor-bearer:

“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6; NIV).

The part we like about this verse is that last sentence: Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few. That is the part that gives us hope. It reminds us that the victory, the success we have, isn’t about our strength or power, but about God working through us. So we underline and highlight that part of the verse to give us confidence and a guarantee that isn’t there.

I want to draw your attention to the second sentence: Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf. I find it interesting that Jonathan went to battle without a guarantee from God that he would have success. We know by reading the rest of the text that he does have success, but God did not guarantee success to Jonathan. Jonathan acted on what he knew hoping that God would show up and give the victory.

Knowing what God desires does us no good if we don’t live by faith and act on that desire. Living faith (trust plus obedience) is what sets disciples of Jesus Christ apart from everyone else. It isn’t just about knowledge, but trusting God enough to act. Jonathan could have remained hidden with the other Israelites and taught about the power of God, but that wouldn’t have been faith. Faith for Jonathan was to go and engage the enemy. Faith for us requires us to trust God and do whatever it is that He is asking us to do.

  • Point to Ponder: Living faith is what sets disciples of Jesus Christ apart from everyone else.
  • Passage to Remember: 1 Samuel 14:6
  • Question to Consider: What have you risked to obey God?

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