Sermon Options: June 23, 2024

April 3rd, 2021

The Right Stuff

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 9-23) 32-49

A movie that came out several years ago about America’s early Mercury and Apollo astronauts was titled The Right Stuff. The title pointed to the fact that those bright, courageous men had what it took to get the job done. It could be said of the shepherd boy David that he had the “right stuff” to defend the honor of the Lord God of Israel before the challenge of the awesome Philistine warrior, Goliath.

It takes the right stuff for Christians to defeat the powerful forces of Satan with which we daily do battle. Victorious Christians possess the same qualities that enabled David to defeat Goliath.

I. The Right Stuff Includes Reverence for God

David was sent to the front lines to carry some good home cooking to his three older brothers. While visiting with them, he witnessed the taunting challenge of Goliath for Israel to send a man into hand-to-hand combat against him. He had issued this challenge daily for a period of time. No soldier in Israel’s army had accepted the challenge. They cringed in fear before Goliath for good reason. He stood ten feet tall and wore armor that weighed 150 pounds. The head of his spear weighed nearly twenty pounds. Israel had no one who could begin to match up to him physically.

David was offended greatly by this event because he saw it as the dishonoring of God. He volunteered to bring Goliath and his defiance of God down. David’s intense reverence for God demanded that Goliath be stopped.

Christians should have the same strong reverence for the Lord as did David. Such reverence will motivate us to live lives that consistently reflect holiness, love, and integrity to a world so ready to taunt, challenge, and even intimidate God’s people.

II. The Right Stuff Includes Reliance upon God

When Saul expressed reluctance to permit David to fight Goliath, David replied that the Lord God had delivered him from the bear and the lion in the past and that he would depend upon the hand of God to do the same as he battled Goliath.

Christians must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to gain victory over satanic temptations and trials. This is why the writer of Ephesians admonished us to put on the “whole armor of God.” In God’s strength we can prevail.

III. The Right Stuff Includes Being True to Yourself

David refused the offer of Saul’s armor because he had not used such before. It wasn’t who he was. He felt comfortable going up against Goliath with the familiar weapons of the shepherd, a stick and a sling.

Christians can win more battles against the forces of darkness when we become familiar with the spiritual weaponry God has given us, so that we are comfortable in the use of it.

Jesus used the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to do battle with Satan in the wilderness at the outset of his ministry. The Word was a vital part of who he was, so he used it effectively.

Our challenge is to become so familiar with the Word of God that it becomes a natural weapon for us in our warfare with Satan. (Jerry E. Oswalt)

Devoted to Discipleship

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

A couple of issues are touched in this lesson that remain as timely as they were the day Paul wrote about them.

I. Discipleship Is an Urgent Matter

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “Someday” is not soon enough when discipleship is the topic. “Now is the accepted time” to enter partnership with Christ. And, obviously, “Now is the accepted time” to dispose of any obstacles that stand between Christ and us.

Some time ago, having finished an afternoon of yard work, I was pained by a splinter in a finger. Too sore to bother with initially, I decided to wait till bedtime to remove it. By then the soreness had increased, prompting a decision to wait till morning. By morning, the soreness was accompanied by swelling and redness. I made the tactical error of mentioning that to my wife who (a) immediately grabbed my hand, (b) put me in an armlock known only to her and a handful of professional wrestlers, (c) muttered something about “not putting these things off,” and (d) did unspeakable things to the end of my left index finger with a sewing needle. I appreciated her concern but was somewhat disturbed by her enthusiasm. Nonetheless, by afternoon the swelling and redness had subsided. By bedtime the finger was no longer sore. Fortunately she is willing to take action when it is time to act.

Paul concurred with that modus operandi: “Behold, now is the accepted time.” When we suffer physically, there is no time like the present to take corrective measures, eliminating whatever stands between us and health. When we hurt spiritually, there is no time like the present to take corrective measures, eliminating whatever stands between us and God (be it guilt, anger, avarice, selfishness, prejudice—the list goes on an on). “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2, KJV).

II. Discipleship Is a Matter of Commitment

Paul moves on from urgency to discipline. Devotion to a life of discipleship requires faith, commitment, and courage. It is not an easy journey. In this lesson he lists the hardships and tribulations he has suffered as a minister of the gospel. He has remained faithful only through great endurance.

There is a lesson here for every Christian. Those who seek to faithfully follow where Christ leads find obstacles along the way, many of them frightening and painful. Stand tall for truth and you often will stand alone. Take a position for morality and you may be ostracized by the crowd. Speak out for evangelism and sometimes even fellow church people will brand you a narrow-minded fundamentalist. Speak out for justice and the current climate may call you archaic, a rose-colored idealist out of touch with a commonsense world.

Follow Christ and wherever he leads the journey will be difficult. But the journey will at least ultimately take us where we need to go. In fact, only following Christ will do that. However easy (and wide) the way of the world may be, the path of Christ is still the narrow path that leads to life. Neither Jesus nor Paul promised that discipleship would be easy. Instead, the promise is that only discipleship is meaningful.

In the final tally, only life lived in the service of Jesus Christ is life worth living at all. Thus did Paul describe himself as “having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (Michael Brown)

Why Are Ye Afraid?

Mark 4:35-41

Of all the stories in the New Testament, perhaps this story is most symbolic of the Christian church. Throughout the history of Christianity, disciples have read this story and seen in it their own situations.

For you see, we are now the disciples in the boat. This very day you sit in what is called the nave of the church, and nave is the Latin word for ship. The Christian community has always used as the symbol of its life the ship on storm-tossed waves with the cross on top of the ship. You are now in the boat with Jesus Christ, and the storms are raging outside.

There is no need to prove that the storms are raging! You know what the storms are around you. You know what the storms in your own life are. We are in the boat with Christ, and the storms rage and they are frightening.

In the scripture story, Jesus disciples are doing what Jesus instructed them to do. They have Jesus with them on the boat and yet the storm comes up. This story has always been important to the Christian faith because it is evidence that having Jesus with us in the boat is never a guarantee that there will not be storms in our lives. And even though Jesus is with us, many of us, like the disciples, lose hold of our faith. “Don’t you care if we perish?” the disciples ask Jesus. They were not concerned about whether or not Jesus the Messiah and the mission of the Messiah might perish. In their fear they expected Jesus to care about them and to save them from danger.

Likewise, when we become afraid of the storms around us the temptation is to believe that God does not care what happens to us. With the fear there returns that old expectation that God’s obligation is to protect us. Walter Bruggemann suggests that one of the marks of atheism is when we return to that “insistence on self-definition. . . . for it is based on the surmise and fear that there is no one but us. And only our voice can prevent the terror of cosmic silence.” Don’t you care if we perish?

Jesus spoke the words, “Peace! Be still!” The words had an effect on both the disciples and the storm. The words of Jesus are directed to all the different forms of evil, mistrust, and fear that are working in the world. Jesus actions to speak to the winds and the sea (those hostile storms outside) exerted control over the disciples fear and mistrust.

Jesus demonstrates the power to protect and care for his church—his disciples. There are no storms that by the power of Jesus Christ his people cannot endure. Jesus does care and is able to keep his people from sinking and falling into the full power and control of evil. Why are ye afraid? (Rick Brand)

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