1 Chronicles 18-21, Psalm 69
Our lives never exist inside a bubble. What we choose to do, good or bad, and how we respond to what we do speaks volumes to those around us. Our lives are long and for most of us we will have many examples of both. Raising my children, for the most part I was fairly calm and level-headed. But there were times that I just lost it verbally. It really doesn't matter what it was over, but on those occasions I would scream and say things that I knew that I shouldn't. Shortly afterwards, when I calmed down, even if my child was completely wrong for their behavior I would go back and apologize for those words and actions which do not belong coming out of a Christian man. There were also many times that I stood apart from the crowd in obedience to Christ. When my son went to hockey tournaments I was often the only one who would not go to the bar with the other men at night, and during the games I was often the only one not yelling at the referees or the parents of the opposing team. We read in Colossians 4:5-6, "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."
Back in 1 Samuel 17, we meet a young David, who rose above the entire army. The army was shrinking back in fear hearing the threats of the Philistine giant, Goliath. David armed with only 5 stones and a sling stepped out to fight him, loudly proclaiming to all who would hear that this victory would not be from him, but would be because of God who would empower him. Years later we read in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8, of 3 more giants who were slain by the Israelites, one being David's nephew. Later on in David's life we see him make a costly mistake, in 21:1-2, "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, "Go number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it." This may sound harmless enough, but this request was an act of pride on David's part. Israel's strength and victories rested in God, not the people. As a result, God sent a plague on the land, and we see David's response in 21:17, "And David said to God, "Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father's house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued." David's brave actions with God lifting him up inspired others, while his prideful actions apart from God destroyed others.
Again, life is long and like David, we will be guilty of much wrong and blessed with the ability of doing right. But even when we do wrong, we can own it and allow it to serve as a means to inspire others. Many have made mistakes with their spouses, with their children, with their relatives and friends. Own those mistakes and use them as a means to shine the light on God. Even when you are doing right, we can't expect quick results, it is a long road. For years I was the only Christian in my family (almost 20 years). It seemed no one was listening or cared, and it certainly seemed that my life in Christ was motivating no one. But now most of my family, both immediate and extended has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When we step out and share, others are watching, and like David and Goliath, that example could be what motivates others even if it appears that they are not listening or caring. May we remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Despite all of Paul's mistakes in his life, may we be able to state what he did at the end of his life in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: