Max describes David’s status as: “No place in court. No position in the army. No wife, no priest, no friend. Nothing to do but run. Wilderness begins with disconnections. It continues in deceit.” David’s wilderness is having no one he can go to or count on for support in his time of need.
All David can see is wilderness, he can’t see God, so he decides to take matters in his own hands. He goes to Gath, the hometown of Goliath, hoping to be accepted. He continues to deceive people. David pretends to be insane and feigns epilepsy. The Gittites fear epilepsy so they threw him out of the city.
David is all alone but with nowhere to turn He remembers he is not alone. He prays:
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings, I will make my refuge!”
Max continues: “Make God your refuge. Not your job, not your spouse, your reputation, or your retirement account. Make God your refuge. Let him encircle you.”
Max shares a story of a man, Whit, raised in a Christian home. He was married with a good family and became a leader in his church. He was sucked into gambling where he lost much more than he won. His wilderness became gambling, so his escape was to embezzle from the bank that employed him. After an audit, the bank called Whit in for a meeting. He knew he was caught, and his planned escape was suicide. The police caught up to Whit before he could pull the trigger. He turned back to his faith while in prison and returned to church work after his release. After a period of a few years, a congregation asked Whit to serve as their senior minister.
Max encourages: “Are you in the wilderness? Crawl into God the way a fugitive would a cave. Find refuge in God’s presence. Find comfort is his people. Cast your hat in a congregation of folks who are one gift of grace removed from tragedy, addiction, and disaster. Seek community in God’s church. Refuge in God’s presence. Comfort in God’s people. Your keys for wilderness survival.”
Let’s close with this thought from Max: “You’ll never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”
The saga of David versus Saul continues with David on the run. David has amassed several hundred people who are loyal to him. With Saul right on his heels, David and his followers seek refuge in a cave. Saul and his men decide to take a rest stop just outside the cave.
Saul enters the mouth of the cave and Max writes: “David and his men were hiding far back in the cave. With eyes dulled from the desert sun, the king fails to notice the silent figures who line the walls. But don’t you know they see him. Their minds race, and hands reach for daggers. One thrust of the blade will bring Saul’s tyranny and their running to an end. But David signals for his men to hold back. He edges along the wall, unsheathes his knife, and cuts not the flesh but the robe of Saul. David then creeps back into the recesses of the cave.”
“David’s men can’t believe what their leader has done. Neither can David. Yet his feelings don’t reflect theirs. They think he has done too little; he thinks he has done too much. Rather than gloat, he regrets:”
“Later David felt guilty because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, May the Lord keep me from doing such a thing to my master! Saul is the Lord’s appointed king. I should not do anything against him, because he is the Lord’s appointed king.” I Samuel 24:19
After Saul exits the cave, David holds up the piece of cloth and shouts to Saul, “I could have killed you, but I didn’t.” Saul’s stunned response is “If a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely?” This is not the last time David gives Saul grace.
Saul continues his hunt for David. While Saul and his army are camped, David and one of his soldiers sneak into Saul’s tent and take his spear and water jug. The soldier begs him to kill Saul but David refuses. David retreats to a safe distance and shouts to Saul: “God put your life in my hands today, but I wasn’t willing to lift a finger against God’s anointed.” Once again David grants Saul grace.
Max goes on: “Once again, we think about the purveyors of pain in our own lives. It’s one thing to give grace to friends, but to give grace to those that give us grief? Could you? Given a few uninterrupted moments with Darth Vader of your days, could you imitate David?”
Maybe you can because we seem able to overlook the small stuff most of the time. But those who commit that grievous wrong and are repeat offenders? “The Sauls who take our youth, retirement, or health? Could you forgive the scum who hurt you?”
Max writes: “Vengeance fixes your attention at life’s ugliest moments. Score- settling freezes your stare at cruel events of your past. Is this where you want to look? Will rehearsing and reliving your hurts make you a better person? By no means. It will destroy you.”
David did not look at Saul as an attacker but saw him as a child of God. Max explains: “Your enemies still figure into God’s plan. Their pulse is proof: God hasn’t given up on them. They may be out of God’s will, but not out of his reach. You honor God when you see them, not as his failures, but as his projects.” YOU ARE ALSO GOD’S PROJECT!!
Seeking revenge on those who have harmed you is no way to spend your life. Jesus did not: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to who judges justly.” I Peter 2:23 NIV
Max advises: “God dispenses perfect judgments. Vengeance is his job. Leave your enemies in his hands. You are not endorsing their misbehavior when you do. You can hate what someone did without letting hatred consume you. Forgiveness is not excusing.”
“To forgive is to move on, not to think about the offense anymore. You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them. You just route thoughts about them through heaven. You see your enemies as God’s child and revenge as God’s job.”
“Forgiveness is choosing to see your offender with different eyes. We give grace because we’ve been given grace.”
Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 -Thomas Nelson Publisher
Listen to Today's Devotion by Max Lucado
“Some years ago, I read a study of what most Americans would do in exchange for ten million dollars. Among the options were abandon their family, abandon their church, give up their citizenship, leave their spouse or their children. It’s not surprising to me what someone would do for ten million dollars. What’s surprising is that most would do something. What would you do? Or better, what are you doing?:
“Get real, Max,” you’re saying, “I’ve never had a shot at ten million.” The amount may not have been the same, but the choices are. And some people are willing to give up their family, faith, or morals for far less than ten million dollars. Jesus had a word for that: greed. He called it the practice of measuring life by possessions (Luke 12:15). Jesus cautioned against “all kinds of greed.” What’s your price?”
Max asks a very valid question. Too many people can be bought cheaply. Satan is behind every thought and idea urging us to take his deals. His “Price is Right” game is not a game we want to play. The ultimate reward of playing his game is an eternity separated from God who loves you. Satan does not love you and never will so ask the Holy Spirit to help you fight off greed and remain true to God!
Saul explodes in anger when he learns that David was to be anointed, King. He orders his servants and his son, Jonathan, to kill David but they refuse. Saul tries himself to murder David with a spear but misses so he sends his men to kill him and once again David escapes.
David asks Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” I Samuel 20:1 Jonathan has no explanation for David and has every right to wish David dead because he was in line to be king when Saul dies. Jonathan remains a true friend and protects David. “Who can justify the rage of Saul?” Max asked.
There are Sauls in our life. Max writes: “Who knows why a father torments a child, a wife belittles her husband, a boss pits employees against each other? But they do.” “How does God respond in such cases? Nuke the nemesis? We may want him to. How will he treat yours; I can’t say. But how will he treat you, I can. He will send you a Jonathan.”
“Major in your evil emperor if you chose. Paint horns on his picture. Throw darts at her portrait. Make and memorize a list of everything the Spam-brain took: your childhood, career, marriage, health. Live a Saul saturated life. Wallow in the sludge of pain. You’ll feel better, won’t you?” Or will you? Linger too long in the stench of your hurt and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise.”
“Oh, to have a friend like Jonathan. A soul mate who protects you, who seeks nothing but your interest, wants nothing but your happiness. You feel safe with that person. God gave David such a friend. He gave you one as well. You can find that friend in Jesus Christ. Among Jesus final words: “I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20)
Max concludes this chapter: “Your Saul took much, but Jesus Christ gave you more. Let Jesus be your friend. Talk to him. Spare no detail. Disclose your fear and describe your dread. Will your Saul disappear? Who knows? And in a sense, does it matter? You just found a friend for life. What could be better than that?”
Max begins: “The desperate man sits in the corner of the church assembly. Dry mouth, moist palms. He scarcely moves. He feels out of place in a room of disciples, but where else can he go? He just violated every belief he cherished. Hurt every person he loves. Spent a night doing what he swore he he’d never do. And now on Sunday, he sits and stares. He doesn’t speak. If these people knew what I did…”
“Scared, guilty and alone. He could be an addict, a thief, a child-beater, a wife-cheater. He could be she-single, pregnant, confused. He could be any number of people, for any number of people come to God’s people in his condition-hopeless, hapless, helpless.”
“How will the congregation react? Criticism or compassion? Rejection or acceptance? Raised eyebrows or extended hands?”
I want to interject a thought here. Sometimes we Christians can get self- righteous. My sins are NOT as bad as his or hers. Romans 3:23 tells us: “for we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. I Corinthians 13 illustrates love: “it is not self-seeking; it keeps no record of wrongs.”
David goes on the run after Saul tries six times to have him killed. He runs to the small town of Nob seeking sanctuary and lies to Ahimelech the priest of that town. David begins a series of lies by telling the priest he’s on a secret mission for Saul. He tells the priest that is ok for him and his men to eat the holy bread. He lies again when he tells the priest he has no weapon to defend himself and takes the very sword with which he killed Goliath. “David has lost his God focus.”
Max continues: “Where can the desperate go? They can go to a sanctuary. God’s church. They can look for an Ahimelech, a church leader with a heart for desperate souls.”
The church is NOT the building on the corner, but it is the group of people who seek refuge and to worship there.
“Bread and blades. Food and equipment. The church exists to provide both. Does she succeed in doing so? Not always. People-helping is never a tidy trade because people who need help don’t lead tidy lives. They enter the church as fugitives, seeking shelter from angry Sauls in some cases, bad decisions in others.”
“David teaches the desperate to seek help amidst God’s people. David stumbles in this story. Desperate souls always do. But at least he stumbles into the right place—into God’s sanctuary, where God meets and ministers to hopeless hearts.”
If you need sanctuary go and find that church to help you. If you are part of that church, be willing to help God administer his love.
Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing
A former CASA young man three plus years ago was arrested for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and three other felonies. JD and his friends went to Murfreesboro to buy drugs from dealers. JD’s version is the dealers pulled guns to rob them then his crew pulled guns. Everybody started shooting and as a result one dealer was dead and the other one wounded. His public defender believed if convicted he was looking at fifty years in prison. To add to JD’s troubles he was also approached for sex and the family of the dead man promised to have him killed as soon as he hit the state prison system. JD was seventeen at the time and had never faced a “giant” like the one he was now facing. After knowing him for eighteen months, I knew JD was capable of getting himself in trouble because of his history but never dreamed he was capable of murder. It’s now been determined that JD’s gun did not kill the man but the charges are unchanged.
JD needed encouragement and Max Lucado’s book Facing Your Giants seemed appropriate. The book was written about David’s life. Mr. Lucado granted permission to write a synopsis of his book. Once the document was completed, I attempted to deliver it to the jail to find out that’s not the way the jail mail works. It had to arrive via U.S. mail and the inmate does not receive the actual document. All correspondence is reviewed then scanned into a computer system and JD would read it on a kiosk. The jailer suggested the likelihood of the office scanning a 28-page document was somewhere around ZERO! The new plan was to mail one chapter per week to JD.
After several weeks of mailing chapters, I made a visit to JD. Yes, he had received the letter, but I could tell he really had no idea who David was and showed little interest in learning about him. After analyzing the situation, I realized a mistake, JD believed in God but had spent no time in church nor studying the Bible. He really had no understanding of why he needed a relationship with God. JD needed someone who could talk about the life of David. I’m still trying to work with JD. My hope is that Max Lucado’s book can help you to face your giants.
The following is the paraphrase. I’ll publish 2-3 chapters per week.
FACING YOUR GIANTS
BY MAX LUCADO
Max is the author of several books on spirituality and our personal relationship with God. He has both a unique and excellent way of expressing how to think about what the Bible has to say.
This book relates to the experiences in the life of David to our lives. We face many of the same challenges as David. Although we may not literally face a human giant, some of the events we encounter in our lives feel like a Goliath.
All scripture quotations are from the New King James version unless noted.
In 1st Samuel 17, God’s people, the Israelites, are facing war with the Philistines. The Philistines’ champion was a giant over nine feet tall named Goliath. For forty days Goliath challenged the Israelites to send their champion to do battle. All the Israelites were afraid and refused to face the giant until David, a mere boy, volunteered to go.
Goliath was equipped with a helmet, body armor weighing 125 pounds and a spear with a 15-pound head. David wore no armor but simply ran toward this GIANT carrying his shepherd’s staff and a slingshot with 5 stones. Your impression might be that David was poorly equipped, but he had something Goliath did not, God.
Max writes: “Your Goliath doesn’t carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades of unemployment, abandonment, sexual abuse, or depression. Your giant doesn’t parade up and down the hills; he prances through your office, your bedroom, your classroom. He brings bills you can’t pay, grades you can’t make, people you can’t please, whiskey you can’t resist, pornography you can’t refuse, a career you can’t escape, a past you can’t shake and a future you can’t face.”
“First thought of the morning, last worry of the night – your Goliath dominates your day and infiltrates your joy. You’ve seen your Godzilla. The question is, is he all you see?” When taunted by Goliath, David’s response is, “I come against you in the name of the Lord God Almighty”. When faced with his GIANT, David’s relationship and faith in God helped him win the battle.
Max encourages: “Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn’t David did.”
“Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus on giants-you stumble. Focus on God-your giants tumble.”
Max talks about disappointments we face in our youth: failing to make the baseball team, soccer team, or no call from that someone special, etc. He describes the rejections as “You know the pain of no call. We all do”!
Samuel, God’s chosen priest for the Israelites, anointed Saul as their king when the Israelites asked for one. Overtime Saul’s characteristics become tiresome and God rejects him as king. God sends Samuel to Bethlehem because he has chosen a new king, David.
David had seven older brothers who Samuel thought were perfect fits to be king, but God rejected them. God told Samuel in Samuel 16:7, “God does not see the way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Max says this verse was offered because: “We are weary of society’s surface level system, of being graded according to the inches of our waist, the square footage of our house, the color of our skin, the make of our car, the label of our clothes, the size of our office, the presence of diplomas, the absence of pimples. Don’t we weary of such games?”
Max closes this chapter with these thoughts: “God examines hearts. When he finds one set on him, he calls it and claims it. The story of young David assures us of this: your Father knows your heart, and because he does, he has a place reserved just for you.”
Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
“If the Lord is the shepherd who leads the flock, goodness and mercy are the two sheepdogs that guard the rear of the flock. Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” Goodness and mercy. Not goodness alone, for we are sinners in need of mercy. Not mercy alone, for we are fragile, in need of goodness. We need them both.”
“Goodness and mercy. If that duo doesn’t reinforce your faith, try this phrase: “all the days of my life.” What a huge statement. Goodness and mercy follow the child of God each and every day. Think of the days that lie ahead. What do you see? God will be at your side. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me—not some, not most, not nearly all—but all the days of my life.”
Some days it feels like goodness and mercy are way behind me. It seems as if there is no goodness going on at all and mercy can’t catchup with me. The security I want, and need is not in sight. What to do?
F. LaGard Smith says in Meeting God in Quiet Places that we use “Why not join with the psalmist in joyfully proclaiming. ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust’? With God on our side, there is no terror too great, no illness that can’t be faced, no calamity that can’t be overcome. Gargoyles---whatever ours may be-----are empty and powerless. They cannot save. By sublime contrast, our God is alive, and in the shadow of His sheltering wings we can rest secure.”
When we have these feelings of insecurity, it’s time to stop, think about these psalms and then ask the Father to wrap His loving arms around you to get you through whatever is causing these feelings.
Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional
F. LaGard Smith – Meeting God in Quiet Places – 1992 - Harvest House Publishers – used by permission
We tend to hold the twelve apostles in high esteem. After all these men were handpicked by Jesus. God approved of them. Most of them deserve the esteem. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that they were no better or no worse than you and me. They were common men with faults and short comings.
Peter, a fisherman, was strong-willed and courageous man; however, at times he was quick to speak, impulsive, and impetuous. He denied Christ three times, when Christ told him to come to Him on the water Peter sank because of his lack of faith. He was long winded. (Many preachers are) Peter and Paul clashed at times over the best way to serve.
Andrew, the brother of Peter, was the first called by Jesus. He was a fisherman with no know outstanding characteristics but was a faithful preacher of the gospel of Christ.
James and John were brothers and also fishermen. They both had stormy personalities. They were easily angered and quick to judge enemies of Christ. James and John were both very close to Christ. One commentator described them as Momma’s boys because of her request that one sit on the right hand and the other on the left-hand of Christ.
Phillip and Bartholomew are often mentioned together because they were close friends. It is believed that Phillip was slow to come to Christ but did influence Bartholomew once he was convinced of who Christ was.
Thomas was referred as “doubting Thomas” because he was so slow to believe in Christ. He also needed to see the scared hands of Christ before he would believe He had arisen from the dead.
Matthew was a tax collector and not well thought of by the people. Tax collectors were considered filth. One commentator described Matthew as self-absorbed.
Very little is known of James, the son of Alphaeus.
There is not much recorded of Thaddeus.
The only recoding of Simon is his initial listing as one of the twelve called to be an apostle.
We all know who Judas was and his betrayal of Christ. He called Christ friend and betrayed Him with a kiss which was despicable.
Matthias was chosen to replace Judas but not much is recorded about him.
These ordinary men were those Christ chose to spread the word and make disciples. Overall not an impressive bunch to be entrusted with spreading the word. None of the twelve already held high office which could be used as a jumping off place. No writers like Max Lucado, no public speakers with the talent of Billy Graham just ordinary men who once they became believers were dedicated to their mission. Christ equipped them with what they needed.
These men may have been ordinary men but they a had a fierce will to serve God. They were willing to suffer for Him. Some were beaten and jailed for preaching the word. Some historians believe that several were martyred because of their service to God. Christ predicted Peter’s death in John 21, and many believe he was crucified upside down. In Acts 12:1-2, Herod had James put to death by the sword. Many believe he was beheaded. Some believe that Andrew, Phillip and Bartholomew were also crucified. John was exiled for his preaching.
Most of us are ordinary people and must work to make disciples of Christ. My excuse is that God did not give the talent to do this work. I lean towards 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” When I first went through sales training over forty years ago, this was described as “call reluctance”, you don’t feel comfortable with making contact.
Then I read Hebrews 13:21 ESV “Equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Southside is emphasizing evangelism with Win One In Twenty-one. As Jeff speaks about personal evangelism or making disciples, listen carefully. I have a decision to make. Am I going to use Hebrews or 1 Corinthians as my basis for decision. I need to pray. How about you?