Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (spiritual application)

April 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 4 Comments
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The factual summary of the account of Gideon highlighted the use of some of the strangest weapons in any Biblical battle: pitchers. In the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to wage, we have a corollary for Gideon’s pitchers: our bodies. The Christian’s body sounds like more of a physical than a spiritual weapon, but the key is in how God works in us.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

II Corinthians 10:3-4

1. Pitchers can contain.

The purpose of a pitcher is to hold something. Just as Gideon’s pitchers were used to contain something, our bodies also serve as containers.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

The bodies of born-again believers are the containers of God’s Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Is God’s Spirit directing your body, and controlling it? Are you an obedient container? Do your feet go where God wants them to go? Do your hands touch only what God wants them to touch? Are you placing in your mouth and your stomach those things which help, instead of hurt, your body? Are your eyes looking at what God wants you to see? Are your ears listening to what God wants you to hear? Is your tongue saying what God wants you to say? Pitchers don’t decide for themselves what goes into them. The owner of a pitcher puts into it what he thinks is best.

When Gideon’s army brought their pitchers to the battle, God had a plan for them. In the spiritual battles we fight every day, we have our armor to protect us. We also have have prayer, the Bible, and love to help us fight. But don’t forget, your physical body is a part of the spiritual battle, too.

2. Pitchers can conceal.

Gideon’s pitchers concealed lamps. As Christians, we are to be light in a dark world, so we do not want to conceal the light of Christ, but there are times when the container of your body must be used to conceal things.

Nothing can be concealed from God. He looks on the inside, at the secret things. He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. The pitchers of Gideon’s army concealed their lights from the enemy until the time was right. The devil can’t read your mind, but he is watching you. There is a principle in the Bible of controlling yourself so that your weaknesses are not exposed.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

We are to bring our bodies under self-control. Gideon’s pitchers contained nothing but light.

3. Pitchers can crumble.

Gideon’s army had to use pitchers that were breakable.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:26-29

God has given us a great treasure – greater than wealth, health, fame, or influence. It is the Gospel message. He could have entrusted it to an angel. He could have given it only to powerful, wealthy, or influential men.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:4-7

This way, God gets the glory, not men. Pitchers are fragile, but there is power even in a broken pitcher.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:10

When we are broken, empty, and weak, then His glorious light shines forth and frightens and confounds the enemy, and causes him to flee.

Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

II Corinthians 13:3-4

When we look meek to men, we are strong in Christ. His power is strong in us. When Jesus was going toward the Cross He emptied Himself out of everything we tend to rely on for strength – He had no wealth, no reputation, no family, no friends, not even any clothes! On the Cross He was the emptiest Man Who ever lived. He even lay His Own life down when no man could take it from Him.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Psalm 31:5

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

Psalm 31:12

Pitchers can contain. Does God’s Spirit live within you? Pitchers can conceal. Are you able to surrender to His Spirit and be controlled in your body? Pitchers can crumble. Have you ever been broken before God? Does His light shine through your brokenness? Will you make noise for the Lord in the midst of His enemies, even if it means you have to be broken into pieces to do it?

Boys Will Be Boys, but Boys Should Want to Be Men

December 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 8 Comments
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The Lord has commanded parents and church elders to train up boys and young men to be what the Lord wants them to be when they reach true manhood. God anointed David, the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, king of Israel when he was still in his teen years.

By looking at what kind of boy David was, we can get a good idea of what kind of young men we should be training boys to be.

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:18

The phrase “cunning in playing,” means that David had taken time to develop and hone the skills with which God had gifted him. We must encourage boys to commit themselves to practicing and exercising their God-given talents.

The phrase “a mighty valiant man” means that David was courageous in dangerous situations. We must not shelter our boys from situations where their courage will be tested.

The phrase “a man of war” refers to David’s willingness to stand and fight for what was right. We must impress upon our boys that there are things that are worth fighting for, and Christian men are to be meek, but never cowardly.

The phrase “prudent in matters,” means that David exercised wisdom. He did not behave foolishly or invite criticism by behaving childishly. He behaved appropriately for his age.

The phrase “a comely person,” refers largely to David’s physical appearance. He was thought to be handsome. We certainly can not train boys in their physical characteristics. God determines this through genetics and His Own providence. But we can certainly train boys to dress appropriately and groom themselves properly.

Conspicuously absent from the description of David in his teen years are any indications that he was involved in foolish vanities. David, if alive today, would not be involved in hanging out at the mall, or text messaging silly word-plays. He would not inappropriately play-wrestle with girls or young ladies. He would have little time for shuffling his iPod, playing laser tag, or shopping for spinning hubcaps. He would not over-pay for ripped-up, ill-fitting clothes, so he could slouch around with uncombed and unwashed hair, trying desperately to look “cool.”

Character and Integrity Part 3

August 28, 2009 at 10:31 am | Posted in character and integrity, Luke | 12 Comments
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Who are your three main enemies? They are the devil, the “world,” and your flesh. The devil wants to lie to you, and deceive you. Your flesh wants you to please you, and not to please God. The world wants you to be fake – something you’re not – so that it can somehow make money at your expense.

It is important to be what God wants you to be. When you are fake, God knows it, and that is damaging to your integrity. When you are fake, other people know it, and that’s damaging to your character. Let’s look at the example of Mary in the Bible, and see what we can learn about her character and integrity.

Mary lived in Nazareth, a disreputable place.

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

John 1:45-46

There are places today with a reputation similar to Nazareth. I grew up in a small town that is kind of the “Nazareth” of North Louisiana. Nazareth in Mary’s time would have been the kind of place where a teenaged girl could have easily been bored, seeing the merchants and traders going to and from Jerusalem. That boredom could have led to temptation and promiscuity and immorality for many of the teenaged girls who lived there.

However, Mary was engaged to be married, and she was a virgin. The angel Gabriel came to visit her. He told her that she would conceive and bear a Son, and that she was to name Him Jesus, and that this Jesus was the Son of God. Mary was probably around 13-15 years old at this time.

Contrary to Roman Catholic dogma, Mary was not sinless. She, like all of us, was a descendant of Adam. Of all the people ever to walk the face of the Earth, only Jesus was without sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:23

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Mary called called God her Savior (Luke 1:47). She knew she was a sinner, and she knew she needed a Savior.

Even though she was a sinner, Mary is a good Bible example of someone with integrity. She kept her virginity. She was saved.

Let’s look at her character. In a previous lesson we learned about the things which spoke well of David’s character.

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:28

We can compare this description of David to Mary.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Luke 1:28

People who knew Mary might have wondered about her character. God knew she was a virgin, but what do you think people said when they found out she was pregnant before she got married?

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

John 8:39-41

People who knew about Jesus’s birth and childhood accused Him of being born out of wedlock. That was a reflection of their opinion of Mary, too. However, Mary surrendered her character to the Lord.

Character has to do with your name – what other people think of you – but we can’t always control that. What happens when you have integrity, but other people are wrongly smearing your character? I have three school-age daughters, and I can tell you from what I know of their experiences that all children can be mean, but girls can be meaner than boys – especially when it comes to gossip.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:38

Even though Mary could predict how her miraculous pregnancy would affect her character, she said, “That’s fine with me, Lord.” Mary considered herself a handmaiden, and, in Mary’s day, handmaidens had to serve – and they had to serve joyfully.

Can you say with Mary, “Be it unto me according to Thy Word?” Before you begin to hope that God would never do something to you that would embarrass you the way Mary’s pregnancy embarrassed her, remember: He already has. His Word tells you to do all sorts of things that are going to make people think you’re weird. And some of those things are going to affect your character – in the short term.

Are we willing to look in the Book and see it what it says? Are we dressing immodestly? Do we tell lies? Do we put ourselves in places of sexual temptation? Are we actively hoping for some strong temptation to come along, so that when we fall, we can blame the temptation, and not ourselves?

Many Christians say, “I’m saved – but I’m going to mess up once in while.” If we call ourselves Christians, then we had better stand for the Name of Christ. When I fill in the blank on a form that asks what religion I am, and I say, “Christian,” I don’t want to be responsible for someone else saying no to Jesus, based on my character.

Mary not only surrendered to the Lord, she was happy about it. As soon as she heard about God’s plan, she went to see her cousin, and she sang a song of praise about it. Her song is found in Luke 1:46-55. It is often called the “Magnificat.”

The word “Magnificat,” comes from the same root which gives us our word, “magnify.” To “magnify” something means to “make something bigger” or “to give someone glory.” Mary’s song magnified the Lord. She was interested in making herself seem smaller, and the Lord seem bigger. Mary would not have been happy with the way this part of the Bible is often used today. The Roman Catholic Church has a well-known prayer referred to as the “Hail Mary.” It comes from a combination of Luke 1:28 and 42. The Catholic prayer says, “Hail Mary, full of grace…” But Luke 1:28 tells us that the “hail” with which the angel greeted Mary, was just that: a greeting – not a description of sinlessness. Mary was not “full of grace.” She was a sinner, saved by God’s grace, through faith. When the Bible calls her “highly favored” it means that Mary was the recipient of grace given to her by God.

Note that Luke 1:32 does not say, “You will be great…” It says, “He shall be great..,” referring to Jesus. And Verse 42, which says, “blessed art thou among women,” has Elisabeth, Mary’s cousin – not the angel – speaking.

So, what was Mary’s secret? How could she be so happy, so excited, so obedient… knowing that her character was going to be questioned? For one thing, Mary loved the Word of God – she knew the Scriptures.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

Remember, Mary did not have a Bible. She would have gone to the synagogue to hear the Word of God in the Old Testament being read aloud. Mary hid the Word in her heart – she memorized it. In her song, she quotes from the Law, the prophets, and the Psalms. Luke 1:50 has part of Exodus 20:6 in it. Luke 1:51 has part of Isaiah 40:10 in it. Luke 1:53 has part of Psalm 107:9 in it. If Mary could memorize Bible verses without even owning a Bible, how much more should we be able to do it when we can have access to a Bible any time we want!

It grieves me to see people – especially teenaged children – get up after a Sunday School class, and leave their Bibles laying on the floor. We have to wonder if Mary would have gone out of the synagogue and left her written copy of God’s Word, if she had had one, laying on the floor.

So we see, Mary could face the possibility of having people say bad things about her – to fail to see her true character – because she was not being fake. She was being real. She understood that her life needed to be given to obeying the Lord joyfully. The secret of having that joy was (1) surrendering to God’s Word and His way; (2) magnifying the Lord; and (3) knowing the Bible and memorizing it.

Unlike David, other people didn’t always say, “The Lord is with him/her…” However, when it comes to Mary’s character, think about the people who whispered about Mary, and said bad things about her behind her back. And then ask yourself, “Who do we recognize as the earthly mother of our Savior?” Bible students for centuries have honored the name of Mary for her Godly character, but we do not know the name of a single one of her critics. I’d say that’s pretty good character.

Character and Integrity Part 2

August 5, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in character and integrity | 5 Comments
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Let’s pretend that I offer you a sandwich, but you are not going to be able to eat it right now; you are going to have to save it for later. I offer you two options for preserving the quality of the sandwich before you stick it in the fridge. In one hand I have a beautifully ornate wrought-iron bird cage.

bird cage

It looks both sturdy and beautiful. In the other hand I have an ugly old Zip-lock bag.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/000/0/6867105/il_570xN.334496059.jpg

It looks flimsy and plain. Which are you going to choose?

Obviously, you are going to choose the Zip-lock. Why? Because it has both integrity and character. A properly sealed Zip-lock bag stops both air and water from getting inside. There is a “soundness” and a “wholeness” to a Zip-lock bag. It has integrity. Furthermore, you’ve had experience with bird cages (or a least containers made up of metal sections with gaps in between). You’ve also had experience with Zip-lock bags. Zip-locks have kept a many of your sandwiches fresh before. Zip-lock bags have character.

God wants His people to have both integrity and character. He wants us to be sound, and to be known for being sound.

Who does not want you to be be “sound?” Who wants you to look strong and sturdy at a glance, but to prove unfit upon further inspection? Who wants you to try to act like something you are not, to be a fake? Your enemies, that’s who: the devil, the world, and your flesh.

The Bible doesn’t have much good to say about “the world” once you get past the part where God made it and saw that it was good. It’s been pretty much negative since then (Romans 12:2; I Corinthians 2:12; II Corinthians 4:4).

The “world” is the Bible word for the point of view of those who don’t love God. They don’t necessarily admit that they hate God. They will claim that they would rather just stay on their side and let the Lord stay on His. But there’s one thing that really motivates the world to get proactive – to start campaigning against God: greed, the love of money (I Timothy 6:10).

Here’s a good example. After World War II (1945) there were lots of young people getting to do things they’d never done before. This engendered a certain fear – the fear of “juvenile delinquents.” This kind of fear is not good (II Timothy 1:7). Adults would see something broken or defaced in public, and would start defaulting to, “It must have been those kids…” meaning teenaged kids.

This kind of thinking led to polls. The polls led to an identifiable market. Manufacturers starting producing things like “teen” toys, “teen” dolls, “teen” magazines, “teen” movies, “teen” TV shows, and “teen” clothes. Most of these products were focused on the idea of making kids think ahead to when they would be “older,” and subtly sending the message that it was a good thing to strive to act like they were older than they really were. You can witness this phenomenon going on today with pre-teens (the media calls them “tweens”).

The suspicion of adults and the influence of marketing led to teenaged kids becoming experts at duplicity. Duplicity is the opposite of integrity (James 1:8).

Remember Eddie Haskell from the old show, “Leave It To Beaver?”

https://i2.wp.com/www.litb.com/amazoneddie.jpg

Eddie was duplicitous, even though he never really fooled Mrs. Cleaver when he gushed over her “beautiful dress.” Today, teenaged kids are smarter than Eddie. Most parents would faint if they really knew what CDs their kids listen to, what movies they watch at sleepovers, what’s really posted, but set to private, on their social networking sites.

But God knows. He knows that their integrity is damaged. And other people know, even if the parents don’t – and that has damaged their character.

David (pre-Bathsheba) is a good example of character and integrity. I Samuel 16 is mainly about David being anointed king and playing his harp or lyre for Saul. Chapter 17 is mainly the account of David and Goliath. David was probably about 15 or 16 when he was anointed, and probably close to 20 when he killed Goliath. David was not slothful in business (Romans 12:11; I Samuel 16:10-11). He was keeping his father’s sheep. He was fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11; I Samuel 17:34-35). He risked his life to protect what God had given him. He was serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:8

Let’s look at David’s character in this verse. These are the things David, even as a teenaged child, was known for – what Proverbs 22:1 calls his “good name.” He was cunning at playing (musical talent). He was mighty and valiant (known for overcoming problems). He was a man of war (a good fighter, someone who stands up for what is right). He was prudent in matters (smart). He was a comely person (good-looking).

It’s really not that uncommon to find someone about whom we can say all or most of those things. But, with David, in addition to those things, they could say, “The LORD is with him.”

Is the Lord with you? (Integrity) Do other people recognize that the Lord is with you? (Character) Both are important to God.

Character and Integrity Part 1

July 20, 2009 at 9:40 am | Posted in character and integrity | 14 Comments
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Integrity is a quality of “soundness.” It comes from the idea that an “integer” is something that is “whole,” or “complete.” When something has integrity, nothing can get inside it and mess it up. Example: A real football has integrity. It can get wet on the outside, but not on the inside.

wet football

A Nerf football has no integrity.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/nerfball.jpg?w=300

If it gets wet, the inside will get all soggy.

When it comes to people, integrity is determined by what we do when no one is watching.

[A Psalm of David.] Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.

Psalm 26:1

It’s easy to have integrity when everyone’s watching. Pretend that we are in a room, and I show you a container, and tell you that inside is something very valuable, very exciting, very personal to me, and very secret.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Pr30NcolQz8/TW2pE_EFOnI/AAAAAAAAKPg/KXuodAX31TM/mystery.jpg

If I left the room, and told you not to look in the container, would you be tempted to take a peek? Probably not if other people were watching, but what if you were left completely alone with the container, and no one would know?

https://i2.wp.com/dianechamberlain.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sneak-peek-at-gift.jpg

That’s a test of integrity. Integrity is between you and God.

“Character” is a little different. Character is the combination of qualities that make you the “type” of person you are. If you are honest, hardworking, always on time, you have a trustworthy character. If you are selfish, unfair, sneaky, you have a greedy character.

Integrity is between you and God. Character goes into how other people perceive you.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Proverbs 22:1

We might say that your character is what kind of name you have – what you are known for.

Does God want us to have integrity? Yes.

The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

Psalm 7:8

Now, let’s examine what kind of character God wants us to have.

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

I Samuel 16:7

When God looks at us, He sees more than just our physical appearance; He sees us in light of the things we do, and our reason for doing those things, and our true attitude while we do them.

God does care about the appearance of the things we do.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

I Thessalonians 5:22

One reason why God is concerned about the outward appearance of our actions is because we have an influence on others. People in general often adopt the actions of others with whom we spend time. People who hang out together often wear the same clothes, use the same language, and listen to the same music.

One reason that I need to spend time with Jesus – praying, reading my Bible – is that, if I spend time with Him, I’ll start to act like Him.

Many times, we have a challenge when we have an opportunity to do something that might not necessarily be “wrong” in and of itself, but would appear questionable to others. Our challenge is to remember that Christians are being watched by others, and we are supposed to be the “salt of the earth.” Salt adds flavor, but it also has an astringent quality, a cleansing quality. And it has preserving quality.

Christians have a responsibility to God, to ourselves, and to others.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2


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