Facing the Giants

Psalm 141

Keep Paul’s exhortation 1 Thess. 5:17 “pray without ceasing” in mind – our present text a pretty good example of that in practice.

Movie “Facing the Giants”:

“In his six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never had a winning season. Even the hope of a new season is squelched when the best player on his Shiloh Eagles decides to transfer schools. After losing their first three games of the season, the coach discovers a group of fathers are plotting to have him fired. Combined with pressures at home, Coach Taylor has lost hope in his battle against fear and failure.”

More giants to face than fear and failure, many have characteristic of icebergs – 10% visible, 90% hidden. Appear small, maybe manageable at first, then grow to overwhelming size. Usually do not come singly, often gang up in groups to overpower Christians especially when vulnerable.

Once again David shows by example how Christian can live victoriously. Had experience at young age facing a giant, one that had completely demoralized Saul’s army. In fact, 1 Sam. 17:10-11, 24 “And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid… And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.”

David’s response: 1 Sam. 17:37, 45 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

Gives us clear example in text how he dealt with 5 other Giants: Discouragement, Desire, Pride, Anxiety, Self-Reliance.

A. Giant Discouragement: seek God’s help v.1-2

first things first – forward thinking and preparing, line up resources before Giants show up; focus attention before distraction

incense offered twice daily, accompanied tending the lamps – morning and evening, beginning and ending the day

indicates prayer a regular habit, not afterthought – attitude of prayerful dependence shaped thoughts and actions 24/7

offering incense a privilege, altar positioned immediately before entrance to Holy of Holies, closest possible to God’s presence

no mention at beginning of psalm what the difficulty was; instead, begins with cry for help

request for immediate response… both to hear and act – come close, listen close

pleads that prayer would be acceptable and accepted – implied… a desire to know / sense Father’s approval and aid

when you have strong confidence God has your back, and keep that assurance at forefront, what Giant can possibly intimidate?

remember David and Goliath? “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.” v.46

was power and might of God-on-his-side that kept David from discouragement and fear like everyone else

discouragement can cause us to give up the fight – leads to hopelessness, makes vulnerable to other Giants

usually (for the Christian) means no longer focused on greatness of God; looking instead at size of problem

when God is near, we are in tune with him, all obstacles / challenges / opposition shrinks in comparison

does not relieve of responsibility / need to seek God’s help with other Giants

B. Giant Desire: avoid temptation v.3-4

desire gets expressed in many ways – most obviously in words and actions, especially when desires are sinful

typical habit is to talk first, then act… hence need for speech filter

words like bullets – can do lot of damage and… once you pull the trigger, you can’t get them back

huge temptation, one encouraged by large segment of culture, say whatever is on your mind… don’t hold back

can get speaker into big trouble when responding to others or about others without proper care and thought

not a new problem, remember Adam – already in trouble with God, mouth got him in deeper

same will happen to us… if omniscient Guard not on duty –

desire for revenge – we’ve been hurt, tempted to respond in same way; desire for injustice to be righted – treated unjustly, tempted to overdo response; desire for different circumstances – life is hard, tempted to complain

bad thing about words – have power to provoke others to wrong response, get them in trouble with God too

more important, words not greatest problem – are symptom of deeper issue: thoughts/desires out of sync with biblical principles

need God’s protection from wrong desires, desires for wrong things, temptation to desire wrong things

in fallen unregenerate condition, desires always tend in wrong direction – even if desire right thing, is for wrong reason

regeneration doesn’t remove problem, just reduces and enables us to deal with what’s left… with God’s help

being born again doesn’t change allure of many wrong things; need God’s help to resist that, too

then there’s trick of rationalizing – not the one sinning, makes it all right; e.g., enjoying movie with gratuitous violence

C. Giant Pride: take correction v.5

this one often the toughest to overcome; truth is probably cannot count on final victory in this life… just when you think, you get it!

definitely need God’s constant help to receive correction with right attitude – helps to think right going in

prayer is that God would purposely send correction… from friends not enemies, from the righteous, brother or sister

God can / does use all sorts of experiences to achieve correction and sanctification; easier to receive when from someone who loves us, has as motive our growth in godliness

requires humility – neither over-estimating or under-estimating our self; recognizing gifts God has given, also areas needing help

acknowledging areas that need work should be accompanied by willingness to receive correction/instruction and make application

usually not a strong point for most people – much more receptive to the help we ask for, on our terms

prayer includes request for God’s help with right response – good request any time, especially when pride might interfere

even Paul, near end of life, did not think he’d arrived; must keep focus on Christ, not fellow-travelers

praying without ceasing keeps eyes on right standard, reminds of dependence, keeps pride at bay

helps us remember God’s purpose – his glory and our good; our request should be: do whatever is best for me

D. Giant Anxiety: leave results to God v.5c-7

if are walking in the light, walking as Jesus walked, what does future hold? especially when surrounded by evildoers

short answer: we don’t know, not even what next moment holds

James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

sing the song “I Don’t Know About Tomorrow”, is really true even though we plan

our job – live each moment in full dependence on God, doing his will to best of our ability, trusting him for outcome

pray for evildoers to be thwarted, stopped, defeated… and keep pressing on in God’s strength

God’s intention for us to be used up in his service, holding nothing back, following principles he has given

here’s what we need to remember: have no way lf knowing what is in tomorrow, but… know who is there

God who is already present in every tomorrow far greater than Giant Anxiety present in our today

Bible also makes perfectly clear who commander is in war against evil: Josh. 5:14 “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped”

same Lord Jesus still Commander, will continue 1 Cor. 15:25-26 “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”

if Giant Anxiety is enemy of God’s people – he steals their joy – he is one whom Lord Jesus will utterly overthrow

Q & A for us same as for Joshua – whose side are we on? the Lord Jesus? have nothing to fear, then, no need to be anxious

E. Giant Self-Reliance: walk by faith v.8-10

this one gets regular feeding and watering from many sources, big one being secular worldview

one or two “successes” make it real easy to depend on self rather than God… quickly joins forces with Giant Pride

if Giant’s greatness diminishes next to God’s, same is true for our own – when eyes are on God, see ourselves more clearly

best defense against Giant Self-Reliance: keep eyes firmly fixed on Jesus (Heb. 12:2), depending on him to provide for needs

direction – when eyes are on right goal, will follow right path to get there… since Jesus always leads us right

note to self: make sure other “directions” you hear match up with ones from God, Jesus, Bible

shelter – who/what do we rely on for shelter: things of our/man’s design or of God’s?

need to maintain proper distinction between provider and means – God can work without means, most times does not

walking by faith requires confidence in Provider, not the means he uses – job, pension, health plan, investments, skills

discernment – two sides of same coin: dependence / responsibility; depend on God’s guidance, watch your step

yes, rely on God to guide us rightly but not puppets – must do our part to avoid traps and snares

when eyes are filled with Christ and his truth, will have perfect filter in place to recognize error, deception

deliverance – even when do our best to walk right, live in broken world… at risk of walking into trap unawares

just like mouse can steal bait from trap, God can deliver us from trap – we walk through unharmed, God springs it shut on wicked who set it

Can do far better than simply “face the giants”. Can overcome them through regular posture of prayer and dependence on our King and Commander in Chief – Lord Jesus.

 

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