This is a question we can easily ask - isn't it. We didn't turn fast enough, we're at a different angle or the picture posted (like yesterday) doesn't really show what we are talking about. How do you answer? It still depends on the situation - right? Sometimes we can honestly answer "no, I didn't see it" but sometimes a blank look with "see what?" is how we respond.
Our Scripture, for the next few weeks is David vs Goliath. I want us to think of our own "giants," what we see, and how we will face said 'giant.' David tells Saul "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God." (1 Samuel 17:36 NIV) Saul, the entire Hebrew army and even the Philistines saw a huge man heavily armed. David saw a man defying God.
We all know the story. David kills Goliath with one stone but did you notice he picks up five stones? This is what we will be talking about for a few (5 at least!) weeks. This first 'stone' I want you to notice is how David saw the 'giant.' David saw a man, a human being not a giant, who was not respectful of the Living God. David knew God was with him and would help -- just like when David was guarding the sheep.
So....... how do we see the "giant" facing us? The changes of needing to care for a loved one? The phone call none of us want to get? The diagnosis that will mean a l-o-n-g fight? Do we see what others are telling us with the usual "you're going to do what!!?" Or do we realize "For I can do everything through Christ, who give me strength"? (Philippians 4:13 NLT) Something to think about.........
What do you see?
Changes can be very interesting as we see new things. Sometimes it is the "new" causing the change. Sometimes, like when you move, the change causes the "new" thing. Sometimes, when we are blessed to travel, we are able to see many new, and beautiful, things. Sometimes we wonder if other people are seeing what we see -- as the changes occur. Do we really see what we think we see?
Our Scripture readings this morning are in 1 Samuel 16 and John 9. Samuel is anointing a "new" king and Jesus has healed a blind man. One of Jesse's sons will be anointed but God is telling Samuel which one it will be. Looking at the first 7, of Jesse's sons, Samuel is thinking, to himself, "this is the one." God tells Samuel "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (vs. 7, emphasis mine) People are not believing a blind man can now see, in John 9, but the man is telling them "He told me to go, so I did, and now I can see." (John 9:11) What do you see?
As God is asking us to make the changes, try the "new" thing, meet the "new" challenge -- what do you see? Do you see the high hill? Do you see the problems? Or do you see God at work? Do you feel God's presence with you? Can we do what God is asking us to do? "He told me to go, so I did." (John 9:11)
Changes happening all around us - we have even, finally, made it to summer! I have lived in Texas so the heat doesn't bother me, in fact I kind of like it, but the humidity is enough to keep me inside. Thankfully, this year it is a good thing to stay inside. There are still a LOT of boxes to unpack! I've gone through, and gotten rid of, a lot of things but there are still a lot of boxes. The transitions, from the other parsonage - to this one, the other appointment - to this one, starting the new ministry - to having more time to work on/with the new ministry. all take time and need to be worked through.
The Scripture readings, this morning, are God calling Samuel (1 Samuel 3) and Jesus calling Philip and Nathanael (John 1). These readings are also speaking of transitions and changes. We are told in 1 Samuel 3:1 "In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions." Nathanael actually asks Philip "could anything good come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46) But, in all the cases -- Samuel following God and the "new" disciples following Jesus, the decision for the change is made.
The transition, the work toward the change, is what we are looking at now. Samuel, learning and growing (literally - he is a young man when this starts) and the disciples learning and strengthening their faith. None of it is easy, all of it takes time and all of it requires strengthening our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So.... where are you? Have you made the choice for the change? Has it been made for you? Are you ready to strengthen your relationship with God? Emmanuel! God WITH us through all the changes and challenges.
Now it is interesting, isn't it, to think about our attitude and if we really have gratitude. We can all remember our mother's saying "now, what do you say?" Depending on what was given to us we might even actually mean the "thank you" - right? Sometimes it was more of an if I say this I will be allowed to at least move away if not leave. If you think about it, though, our attitude IS how we deal with things. It might only be "acceptance" of what is happening but it is an attitude.
Today the Scripture reading is in Luke 17 where Jesus has cured 10 men with, depending on the translation, a skin disease or leprosy. They have followed the rules/laws - they have stayed "at a distance." Jesus sends them to the priests, also following the rules/laws, and all 10 are healed. Only one returns, however, the foreigner - the one everyone would at least try to ignore. Even Jesus asks "has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?" (v. 18 NIV) Thanking and praising God might mean making an attitude "adjustment."
I don't mean we should be thanking God for the earthquakes, the cancer, the difficult changes happening around us. I do mean we should be thanking God for being with us - EMMANUEL - through the difficulties. Depending on what is happening the only thing we might be able to "hold onto" is KNOWING God IS with us -- holding us by the hand and in God's hand (like my friend Isaiah says).
So...... what is your attitude? Can you have an "attitude of gratitude"? Can we "enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name"? (Psalm 100:4) Something to be thinking about........