Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
Man has always willfully rebelled and rejected God. But God looked past that rejection and sent His Son into the world to save it. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment for the sins of all mankind…He willingly was broken, wounded and killed that we might live. Romans 4:25 tells us, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Today we have that blessed assurance of righteousness through Christ Jesus…and as we look at the empty cross and tomb, we can with confidence proclaim…He is not there, He is risen!
If the Lord Almighty is defending my cause…why do I always feel compelled to justify or explain myself? If God is contending for me in a dispute…why do I need to somehow prove myself right also? St. Augustine was correct when he prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” We have this fleshly desire to be right…to explain ourselves away until everyone finally agrees with us…but if you look at Jesus teaching among the crowds, He never explained anything or made excuses for Himself. He left the misunderstandings and misconceptions of others to correct themselves.
The king of the Moabites, Balak, had attempted to hire Balaam, (a soothsayer who used divination and sorcery for personal gain), to pronounce a curse on the tribes of Israel. But every time Balaam tried, out came a blessing instead. Try as he might, Balaam was forced to conform to God’s will and he realized that nothing he did would change that…no matter how much King Balak offered him. We may think evil is running amuck on the earth…unimpeded by anything. But God is still in control, ruling and reigning over every situation, every detail, every person.
Goliath was a formidable giant who taunted the Israelite army. His very appearance struck fear in the hearts of the Jewish soldiers. For Goliath was decked out in a bronze helmet, 125 pounds of bronze armor, carried a bronze javelin with a 15 pound iron point, and required a shield-bearer to carry his huge shield ahead of him. But when David saw Goliath, he didn’t see an overwhelming threat…a overpowering force or potential danger…he saw rather, a miracle waiting to happen. For David kept his eyes on God – not the situation or extenuating details surrounding it. Yes, David was up against insurmountable odds…but he had a secret weapon Goliath didn’t know about…David had God.
There I was a few nights ago…lying in bed, awake and worrying about medical tests I had just completed. Mentally, I was taking myself through every worst-case scenario, when God stopped me mid-thought with, “Haven’t I had your life in My hands all these years, and won’t I continue?” For the next few minutes it was like a video ran in my head of past situations where God had literally saved my life…some I had been immediately aware of at the time, but some I had totally forgotten about. By the time this “Video” was done, I was seeking forgiveness for my lack of faith and declaring with new-found confidence, “My life was in Your hands then, and it’s in Your hands now…my faith and trust is in You, Lord, regardless of what happens.”
Natural human love expects something in return. To sacrifice for you, you must first be really special to me, and then I also expect to be reciprocated for what I did. But in this Scripture, Paul was willing to give it all…that I may be able to get you to God. The real test here isn’t one’s willingness to teach or preach, but one’s willingness to serve. Service to others takes our time, energy, and emotional strength. It encroaches on our personal space…robs us of “me” time, and turns our carefully crafted schedules upside-down. Expending yourself for the Gospel… helping, and supporting others is a thankless job by human estimation…but it’s counted as everything in the eternity of God.