St. John's Lutheran Church

Week of Pentecost 8 – Saturday Devotion

Readings: 1 Samuel 17:1-19 and Acts 26:1-23

1 Samuel 17: 3-4: And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

Acts 26:14-16: And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you…’

 

“Stand”

There’s one old question that asks: “Are you sitting on the premises or standing on the promises?” The goal of answering this question points to relying on God and His promises and then actively involving ourselves in the work of preaching the Gospel rather than sitting on our hands and doing nothing about  spreading God’s Word.  We may be glad we’re saved but we’re not doing the work of disciple-making. That very question puts us on trial as to whether or not we stand as true believers.

Look at the Apostle Paul. He’s on trial for his life, but even more, this is a trial of the Gospel. Paul stands before governors and magistrates;  imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel. Would you want to trade places with him? You’re probably answering, “Not in a thousand years,” or “No way.” But you are on trial none-the-less.

Look at Goliath of Gath. There is a ring to his name and there is height to his size. Goliath stands before the Philistine army as their ‘man’.  The Children of Israel stand on the other side of this one dry valley mesmerized, enthralled, and captivated in fear because of his size and because of his constant taunting and defying the God of Israel.

You may not be dressed for battle as the Children of Israel were, but you are in a battle none-the-less. The war against this unseen COVID-19 has been one that seems long and drawn out.  Then add to that the defying of authority. We face our Goliath-sized problems, just as David did and just as Paul did. We lack the vaccine for the Coronavirus. Yet we have all kinds of weapons at our disposal for defending our health against a host of other diseases. But our equipment fails.

Paul’s ‘equipment’ of being a Pharisee would fail as Jesus confronts him on that road to Damascus. As we read on in 1 Samuel 17:20-47 (the reading appointed for Sunday, August 2—and feel free to read this also!) David couldn’t use Saul’s earthly weapons. He needed something far greater: “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’” (1 Samuel 17:45).

David stood on that rock-the NAME of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel! Paul stood on that same sure rock: “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22).

You, also, have that same help. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). You stand on that sure rock—The Rock of your salvation—Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead.  Baptized into His NAME, God dresses you for facing your battles with your Goliaths.  You will stand in the day of the resurrection on the Last Day! No Goliaths or viruses can stand in the way of God’s almighty name!

Let us pray: O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Collect for Peace)

Our Father…

The Lord bless us, defend us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.