Losing the Battle in the Brain

Proverbs 22:13 – The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”

I was having a discussion with my young son about math recently. He was trying to do his math, and I could see he really was struggling to keep going on it. He was working on multiplication problems, and he was just going downhill mentally and emotionally. He had gotten himself worked up to where he didn’t remember 3×7, which he had used over and over. This wasn’t a knowledge problem, it was a battle of the brain problem.

When I began to look at his work, overall he had done 90 percent of it right. But he was telling himself stories, like “I don’t like Math.” “This is too hard.” “I don’t want to do this.” “I need help.” “I can’t figure it out.” Yet he had done most of the work perfectly all by himself. But now he was at the brink of tears and unable to do a simply 3×7 because of the stories he was telling himself. He was shutting down.

So, I held him close to me and hugged him and told him that he wasn’t losing the battle in the math workbook, he was losing the battle in his mind. I had him look at all the right things he had done on that page, and I had him say positive things about himself when it came to those he did right. “I am smart. I can do math. Look at all I did right. I can figure this out.” By the way, brothers and sisters in Christ, do not disregard the power of meditating on the positive and telling yourselves hopeful things (Philippians 4:8). Paul says think about what is “true,” so God does not want us to tell lies to ourselves.

You see, with this son, if he is doing art or building Legos, there is nothing too hard for him. He is designing his own amazing and complex things out of Legos (good grief he is making his own Transformers out of Legos). His artwork for a young kid is just incredible. There is nothing too hard for him there. He certainly has a gift with art and designing things.

Maybe his “gift” will never be that he excels in Calculus or Nuclear Physics, and that is fine! We would not want to push him in a direction other than his natural talents and strengths. But what we do want for all of our kids is for them to learn to win the battle of the brain.

Don’t defeat yourself before you even begin something by telling yourself I can’t do this, or it’s just too hard, or I’m just not able to figure it out. Maybe it isn’t possible for you to do that task. That might be true. For example, the only way I’m ever going to dunk a basketball is if I use a step ladder or if the rim is adjusted to 7 feet! So there are limits to what we can do, no doubt. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My point here in this article is to discuss how we can defeat ourselves from the beginning just by how we think and what we say.

I know I’ve lost that battle repeatedly, and I can see in my kids when they begin to go down that road. Look at that above passage from Proverbs, a person can tell himself there is a lion in the streets when no such lion exists. There is no real lion! The man did not step out to work because he told himself a wrong story in his brain.

What stories are you telling yourself? Are you losing the battle of the brain because of what you are saying to yourself?

David and Goliath – Facing the Giants, Part 5

Today we are going to wrap up our look into the account of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. Here are a few final observations, although so much more could be said from this chapter.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

1 Samuel 17:36-37 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 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.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

1 Samuel 17:45-47 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. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

David recognized that this was God’s battle to win. He saw that Goliath was bringing reproach to God and Israel, and that God would bring victory. This was not a physical battle in David’s eyes. One reason David wanted to kill Goliath was that the whole assembly there that day (Israelites and Philistines) would know that the battle belongs to the Lord.

Your battle against sin and against the Devil is a battle that belongs to God. It is not your fight to win, and in fact, you won’t win it if you try to go it alone. Be like David and see that this is God’s battle to win through you, in you and for you!

David Picked Five Stones, Not Just One

Here’s a point that I received from a friend, Geoff.

1 Samuel 17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

As a Christian, God expects you to be prepared. He wants us to have faith, but we have our duty to be plan and be prepared. David could have said, “I only need one,” but he didn’t. He went in prepared to the battle. We trust God saying he will provide for us financially, but we still need to work, budget, plan and save. We trust God will protect us, but we still don’t let our kids walk alone down dark alleys. We have our part to do as well.

Your victories will inspire courage in others

1 Samuel 17:51-53 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp.

Everyone in Israel was cowering and running, but when one man stood up and showed real faith, look what happened. The above verses shows that the people rose up and shouted and gained courage to fight! What happens when one person in our church or in our family stands up and shows the way to live! It inspires others to stand up and do what is right. We all need a David sometimes in our lives to stand up and show true faith, character and courage. Hopefully we can be that David for others in our relationships.

Goliath was well-armed, but his armor did not save him in the end.

1 Samuel 17:54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

Look back at the description of Goliath’s armor early in chapter 17, its impressive. This was one scary dude and he was incredibly well-armed. But what did all that armor do for him in the end? One well slung stone and he was down. Just remember that Satan and all his forces were well armed, but Jesus disarmed them all making a public spectacle of him. If you look at Satan all all his forces have done, you would think no one could defeat them, but Jesus conquered them all through the cross.

The enemy seems so powerful and so strong and so impossible to overcome, but their armor is taken away in Christ. Wear the Lord’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) like David did.

1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

David and Goliath, Facing the Giants – Part 4

1 Samuel 17:38-40 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, (39) and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. (40) Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

You Can’t Wear Someone Else’s Armor

David couldn’t wear Saul’s armor. David wasn’t Saul. David had to fight like David with the abilities and grace God gave David. You can’t be someone else. The armor David had was very simple as a shepherd, a sling and a spear. But don’t be fooled, a sling in the hand of a skilled shepherd was deadly. This weapon has been used for thousands of years with deadly accuracy. God prepared David to be a shepherd who used a sling, and most importantly, God prepared David to use God’s armor. David did not go into that battle unarmed. The Lord was with him. David was clothed with God’s strength.

You can’t be someone else. You can’t fight this warfare with somebody else’s talents and abilities. You have to be you. God’s grace has given you amazing gifts and strengths that are unique to you, and that’s what you need to take into the battle. Stop trying to be somebody else.

Here is one final thought. My sister-in-law made a great point on Sunday that I’ll share with you. “David didn’t have to know Goliath’s strength, because he already knew God’s strength.” Amen! David didn’t have to take a detailed assessment of the armor and strength of Goliath, because he had already deeply believed and was familiar with God’s strength. That’s the real weapon David took into the battle.

 

David and Goliath – Facing the Giants, Part 3

As we continue our unpacking of 1 Samuel 17, we can see David being run down by those in his life who should have been encouraging him. Here’s what is said by David’s oldest brother and by King Saul himself.

1 Samuel 17:28-33 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”

Don’t be distracted by naysayers on the sidelines.

Who of all people should have encouraged David as he went to face the Giant?

How about his brothers? Yes, they should have, but they didn’t. Eliab made fun of his little brother and called into question David’s motives. You can see why God refused Eliab (see 1 Samuel 16:6-7). What was Eliab doing about Goliath? Nothing but tucking tail and running like the rest. So how do you think Eliab liked it when his little kid brother comes from watching sheep saying he could take on Goliath? That didn’t go over well, did it? Those who are sitting on their hineys doing nothing have all kinds of comments about those who are standing up and facing the Goliaths of the world.

How about the king himself, King Saul? If anyone should have been an encouragement to the man who offered to take on Goliath, it should have been the King of Israel, but that’s not what happened. Remember that Israel wanted a king to go out and fight their battles for them (1 Samuel 8), but King Saul isn’t facing Goliath, is he? And what words does the King have for David? “You can’t do it! Goliath is too much for you, you are not even close to being able to do this.”

This happens today, too. Sometimes those who are older are not as encouraging as they should be to the younger. In fact, Paul had to encourage Timothy not to be swayed or discouraged by those who would “despise” or “look down upon” his youth (1 Timothy 4:12). There are times when the younger person is reminding the older ones about faith, courage and the proper way to behave. That is exactly what Paul told Timothy to do. Timothy was to be an example to the believers and that includes those who are older. We all need reminders, don’t we? Even if we are older, and even if those who are reminding us are much younger, we still need to accept the lessons God is sending our way. David was probably a teenager, and King Saul was older (not sure how much older), but David was showing the King and all of Israel what real faith looks like.

What does David do with all of this negativity? Here is a great quote, and I’m not sure who first said it…

“In order to lead the orchestra, you must first turn your back on the crowd.”

David had to turn his back on the negativity and keep his focus on God’s strength. Verse 30 says that David “turned away” from his brother and kept asking about the reward. David had to move away from the negativity and keep his eyes focused on God and on the reward for following God.

Draw from past victories, don’t just sit on them.

David answered Saul’s negativity and discouragement by focusing on what God had already done for David.

1 Samuel 17:34-37 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 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.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

God had already worked amazing things in the life of David. With God’s strength, David had already struck down and killed lions and bears. What was a giant to the God who helped him kill such dangerous creatures? David was able to look back on what God had already done for him and draw strength for the next battle. This is what we need to do, too! What has God already done for you, with you and through you? Meditate upon the amazing things God has done for you already. If He helped you then, will he help you now? Of course God will. He promised it!

Remember that God’s victories He has worked through you are not intended to be used as trophies filling a case, they are intended to give you strength and courage to face the next Giant.

Hebrews 13:6 – So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

David and Goliath – Facing the Giants, Part 2

We continue our dive into the epic battle between David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

We are going to take two observations today from the text:

Saul and his soldiers were fighting the Philistines, but they were not facing the Giant.

1 Samuel 17:11 – When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

1 Samuel 17:19 – Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

1 Samuel 17:23-24 – As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid.

Above are a few excerpts from 1 Samuel. What you see is that when Goliath came and spoke, Saul and his men cowered and fled. Yet, what do we see in verse 19? Saul and his soldiers were fighting with the Philistines. That is a point that cannot be overlooked. They were fighting with the Philistines, they were engaged with a war against the enemy, but they were not facing the Giant. Whenever the Giant came back (vs. 23-24), they all tucked tail and ran away in fear.

We can fool ourselves in our marriages, in our parenting, in our churches, etc., that we are doing good things and engaged in the “good fight,” but are we really facing the Giants? Some may call it, the “elephant in the room,” but it is the same concept. I can be doing great things for God with my wife, and engaged in the spiritual warfare with her, but is there a giant like lust (Matthew 5:28) or bitterness (Colossians 3:19) that needs to be beheaded? We can be doing good works for God in our churches, but is there a “Giant” that needs to be defeated there? Think about it. Saul and his men were fighting the Philistines, but they were not progressing, because they did not have the faith to face the Giant head on.

The reward was offered to every soldier in Israel.

The final observation for today is that King Saul’s reward was offered to every soldier in Israel…to anyone. Here is the reward offered.

1 Samuel 17:25-27 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

David comes to the camp and finds out that the prize for conquering the Giant is (1) Money, Money, Money (2) Marrying into the King’s family (3) No taxes for all his family. Dude, that is some reward, isn’t it? But go back to the text and see that this was offered to “the man” who kills Goliath. Not specific, this reward is offered to anyone.

Question, why were there no takers? If you were offered this great of a reward, wouldn’t it be a no-brainer? Nope. Because for every soldier in Israel, this reward wasn’t worth the risk. If you offered me a billion dollars to tightrope 1,000 feet in the air in between two skyscrapers, I wouldn’t take the challenge! Why? It’s not worth the risk to me. All I can see is me becoming tomato sauce on the pavement.

The men of Israel were not encouraged by the reward because their faith was not strong enough to face the Giant. This point is true for us today, men. We can sing songs about heaven and read passages about heaven all day long, but if it is not joined with faith in the God who has conquered Satan and will conquer our Giants, then those rewards are just pie-in-the-sky dreams. Do you believe that God will help you overcome the giants in your life?

God’s reward of heaven and grace is offered to every man (Titus 2:11), but not every person has the faith in God to walk into the fiery battle with Him. Are we like David? Or are we like every other soldier in Israel?

David and Goliath – Facing the Giants, Part 1

Friends, I apologize for no Men’s Daily Briefing for last Tuesday through Friday. There was a communication breakdown on my part while I was on vacation.

For the next few days I would like to look at the Battle between David and Goliath. I encourage you to read 1 Samuel 17 and reflect upon it. This is not just a little kids’ story, it is a wonderful picture of a real event that God gives us to show how we can conquer any giant with God’s help.

Today’s briefing looks at the first part of this text. The enemies of God, the Philistines, were camping on God’s land and taunting Him and His people. This took place for 40 days.

Enemies of God camped on God’s land!

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.
(1 Samuel 17:1)

Notice that the Philistines are camping in a land that “belongs to Judah.” This was the property of God and His people, and yet the enemy was waging a war there.

Also pay attention to the fact that when Goliath, the great intimating and impressive warrior, came to mock Israel, he did it for 40 days, saying the same words morning and evening.

40 Days, 80 Times, Same Words, God’s Land

The enemies of God were taunting Israel and their God for 40 days, morning and evening, saying the same words. Quick math will tell you that at least 80 times Israel heard these mocking words. Remember they are camping on God’s property. They are not shouting from a safe distance on their own land, they are right in the living room of the people of God.

He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks 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.
(1 Samuel 17:8-11)

For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.
(1 Samuel 17:16)

As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.
(1 Samuel 17:23)

What was the result at this point? The great King Saul was afraid, and so were all the men of Israel. Remember that the people wanted a king to go out and fight their battles (1 Samuel 8:1), and God gave them King Saul. But where is King Saul? Cowering with the rest of his men.

Here is the main point for today, men. Satan and all his forces are camping on God’s property. They are not taunting you from a safe distance in their own land, they are right in your living room. They are on your computer and on your phone. They are in your mind. They are in your church. They are fighting to break up your marriage. They are seeking to destroy your kids and your relationship with your kids. They are at work seeking to corrupt you with materialism and unfaithfulness. Satan is defying God and His people and he is sending out his “giants” to say we cannot overcome those giants.

Are you and I going to be the Saul’s who cower, hide and do nothing to face those giants? Or are you and I going to be like David who saw the reproach coming to God and Israel through this Giant and face it head on with God’s strength?

More coming tomorrow, Lord willing.

The Battle Rages

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3:1-7; NKJV)

I wanted to share a synopsis of a great sermon I heard yesterday which dealt with the spiritual battle we are engaged in.  These are the high points and verses used and I invite you to look into this topic further.

In the verses above from Genesis, we see the very first battle between the devil and God’s created children.  We see the main actors in this eternal and spiritual battle…our God and Father, our adversary the devil, and us…God’s children.  We see God’s family as He intended it attacked and corrupted by the devil…how good he is at winning battles in our lives.  We see that the devil will win battles and we will sin.  We see in reading the remainder of the Bible that God continually battles for us and though we lose battles He has won the war in Christ Jesus.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devourResist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a whileperfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11; NKJV)

Remember, we are engaged in a spiritual battle with real and powerful actors.  God is active in our lives but so is the devil and we must remain active and continually seek refuge abiding in Jesus Christ (John 15) for He is the only security and salvation we have.  He is our Stronghold!  Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, flee from and resist the efforts of the devil, and always and continually petition your Father in prayer through your Savior Jesus Christ…He is and will be victorious and we prevail in eternity if we are with Him.

Other scriptures to consider:  James 4:4-12submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (vs. 7); Ephesians 4:25-32nor give place to the devil. (vs. 27); 1 John 3:7-15…he who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous….he who sins is of the devil…(vs. 7-8); Ephesians 6:10-20be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might…put on the whole armor of God…(vs. 10-11)