Religion of Sunday, 24 August 2014

Source: Daniel Gyebi

Dear Christians, Faith Forward

In my last article published on Ghanaweb on June 29, 2014, entitled, “Dear Christians, Fear Not,”, I mentioned that the answer to fear is faith and that we can use our faith to conquer our fears. In this article, I draw your attention to the well-known story about David and Goliath recorded in 1 Samuel Chapter 17 to illustrate that faith can indeed conquer fear.

On one side of the battlefield was Goliath, the giant from Philistine. By all accounts, Goliath was a formidable, intimidating, and mean fighting machine. An experienced fighter and champion, he was over 9 feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing 125 pounds, a bronze greaves on his legs, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod and its iron point weighed 15 pounds; and his shield bearer went ahead of him (1Samuel 17:4-7). It is no wonder that Goliath and the Philistines changed the rules of engagement in warfare to their advantage, or so they thought. Instead of the two armies fighting as is usually the case, they suggested a one-on-one duel in which a single fighter from Philistine would engage in a fight with another fighter from Israel such that the winner takes all. This was an efficient approach to warfare because it would save time and reduce injuries and deaths to the barest minimum. On the other side of the battlefield was David, the tiny shepherd boy from Israel, with a shepherd’s staff, a sling, and five stones. What a mismatch! Today, no fighting authority or organization would allow such an unfair and one-sided contest to proceed.

As Goliath moved closer and David charged towards him, Goliath cursed David by his gods, taunted him, and threatened to give his flesh to the birds and beasts (1 Samuel 17:43-44). When the enemy places a curse on you or invokes the name of a deity, god, shrine, river etc. to intimidate or harm you, as Goliath did, do not be afraid. As an anointed child of God, no weapon formed against you shall prevail (Isaiah 54:17). God has already given the enemies into your hands, and their curses ring hollow. Faith forward because the God of David is still on the throne and he will protect you. Faith forward knowing that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth and that Christ will surely be with you always till the end (Matthew 28:18-20). And so, faith forward and do the work our Lord has entrusted upon us to do; that is, to go into the world and make disciples of all nations, without fearing anyone or anything.

David responded to Goliath’s taunts, threats, and curses by saying that, “you come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This day the Lord will hand you over to me and I will strike you down … All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17: 45-47). Goliath trusted in himself and David trusted in God . And with those words, David moved forward to meet Goliath. David took one perfect shot. Call it one touch! It was a divine shot. It took the hand of God to map out the trajectory of the stone against the forces of gravity and the wind to land perfectly at the only vulnerable open spot, on Goliath’s forehead. Goliath fell to the ground and David went closer to finish the job. . (Goliath was over 9 feet tall and his death probably deprived the world of a generation of great basketball players who could have come from his lineage).

Please note some aspects of David’s statement. “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.” “The battle is the Lord’s.” This was faith rooted in God and these were words of prayer to God. David recognized then, as did his son Solomon later, that the name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18: 10). The Apostle Paul tells us that God has exalted our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, and that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus tells us that if we have faith and do not doubt we can move mountains and trees (Matthew 21: 21-22; Luke 17:6). And God assured Zerubbabel that the mountains would become level ground and victory would be achieved, “not by might or by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:5-7). Therefore, we should pray and exercise our faith by telling whatever has become our mountain and whoever has become our Goliath to move over.

The Bible defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). In a way, faith is the opposite of “seeing is believing.” Faith is exercising the courage to move forward when many people and common sense suggest you retreat. David was so young that even his very presence as a messenger and spectator in the battle field infuriated his oldest brother, not to talk of him fighting Goliath alone. The people of Israel were so afraid and pessimistic that Saul specifically told David that David could not fight Goliath because he was just a boy whereas Goliath was a matured and experienced fighter (1 Samuel 17: 33). The mindsets of Saul and David’s brothers were that the battle field was for men, not boys, but David showed that day that he was the man.

God gives to each Christian a measure of faith. We need to nurture that faith by exercising it as often as necessary to gain experience. In order to convince Saul that he could defeat Goliath, David shared with Saul his past experience of killing a bear and a lion which attached his flock of sheep. If we do not exercise our faith, we may lose it or it may remain dormant. The old adage of practice makes perfect is helpful. In other words, if you are content with picking only the fruits that have already fallen to the ground or plugging low-hanging fruits, you will not be able to harvest the bountiful yields at the top of the tree. Climb high and higher and do not be afraid to fall or fail. If you fall or fail, pick yourself up by the grace of God, and try, try, try again. Faith forward, my brethren!

Faith is walking closely with God. Faith should be grounded in God. Faith without God is wishful thinking. After granting David’s request to fight Goliath, Saul sent him off with the following message, “Go and the Lord be with you.” (v . 37). Those were not empty words of farewell to calm the nerves of David, but a prayer to God. The presence or absence of God in our lives makes the difference between success and failure. Do not go solo. Pray for God to be with you and you with God. As Christians, all the victories we have achieved in life and those we will achieve in future are the works of the Almighty God. Read what God told David years later after David became King and achieved many more victories: “I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you ...” (2 Samuel 7:9). Herein lies the secret of David’s success – God. God used David as an instrument to achieve those victories. God has never lost and will never lose any battle. That is why the Apostle Paul said that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13). The Lord needs fighters to conquer corruption, injustice, and oppression being committed by the Goliaths of this world. The Lord needs fighters to stamp out sins which have become rampant and threaten to cause separation between God and mankind. The Lord needs prayer warriors who will pray for a better Ghana and a better world. Therefore, faith forward and strive to be the person God uses to defeat the devil and his allies.

A person who has faith, but fails to exercise it, is probably not better off than a person without faith. Faith without works or actions is useless or dead (James 2:14-26). King Saul had faith. That was why he told David, “Go and may the Lord be with you.” Yet, he did not believe that he himself could exercise that faith and defeat Goliath. Of all the people in Israel, King Saul was probably the one who matched Goliath’s physical structure as much as possible, was God’s chosen King, had led Israel to many wars, and had all the aura and prestige of a king ready for battle. At the time he was appointed King, Saul was described as an impressive young man without equal in Israel and stood a head taller than any of the others. He was appointed King of Israel to fulfil the people’s wishes for a king who would lead and go before them to fight battles (1 Samuel Chapters 8 and 9). On that occasion, however, King Saul was so afraid of Goliath that he chose to lead from behind. As mentioned earlier, not only would King Saul himself not fight, but he specifically told David not to fight because he was only a boy whereas Goliath was an experienced fighter. Thank God that David did not use King Saul as a role model and say that if stronger and more experienced King Saul would not fight Goliath, he, too, could not fight him. A lesson learned is that do not fail to exercise your faith simply because some people more faithful, spiritual, powerful, educated, or stronger, richer, smarter etc. than you have either tried and failed, or have not tried at all. Faith forward because there is room in God’s plans for the little guy. Remember, as David, said, the battle is the Lord’s. Therefore, do not rely on your own strength; let God fight for you.

King Saul equipped David with uniform and weapons befitting a warrior. By faith, David recognized that the Lord had handed over Goliath to him and he did not need to match Goliath in protective uniform and instruments of warfare. He took them off and simply chose five stones along with a sling, a shepherd’s staff, and a shepherd’s bag to hold the stones. He knew that the battle was the Lord’s, not his, and that he just needed to exercise faith and charge forward. We should not always try to fight the devil on his own terms. Remember that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil, and so the Apostle Paul advises us to put on the whole armor of God. Paul has identified an inventory of weapons, including, but not limited to, truth, righteousness, Gospel, Word of God, Spirit, faith, salvation, and prayer (Ephesians 6:10-18). Through the guiding hands of the Lord, select your five stones and more!

Faith forward, brethren, and strive to keep faith alive. If we exercise our faith more often, someday our names may be recorded among the people in “Faith Hall of Fame” described in Hebrew Chapter 11. Then, we may join in the ancient hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers,” whose third stanza is reproduced below::
Faith of our fathers, we will strive To win all nations unto thee; And through the truth that comes from God Mankind shall then indeed be free. Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!

Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.

Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.

PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. The facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 027-7423815.