Who Am I?

2 Samuel 7:18 Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

Recently I read this story: “One day the president of a successful real estate company stood before his sales staff of about one hundred. After presenting several new properties, he stated, “My success story has been written up in a national business magazine. If you would like a copy, just see my secretary.” A lightning bolt of dismay and tension struck the staff. Angry looks were exchanged, and murmuring began: “Who does he think he is?! We are the ones that made this company successful! It is our success story, not his.” That very afternoon, several of his top salesmen quit and formed their own company. Soon there was not enough money to close contracts, so the president used money from other escrow accounts, which is a federal offense. Within six months, the once-successful company was dissolved, and the president began serving a prison sentence, all because of the lack of one character quality—humility.”

There are not many things more distasteful than pride. There are not many things as refreshing as a humble spirit. Here, David had just become established in his kingdom. His enemies had been subdued. He had taken strong holds that men thought he could not take. Wherever he turned, and whatever he did, he found success. Yet David’s statement at a pinnacle of success was, “who am I?”

I want to be used by the Lord. But I must be usable. I want to experience His grace. But I cannot resist His grace. A common character trait of men who God used greatly was their “who am I” spirit. Moses said “who am I”. Paul said “I am the least”. And here, David said, “who am I?”.

God is looking for people to use today. But God resists the proud. Let’s remember who we are, that it is God’s grace that has brought us where we are, and let’s humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. For it’s then, that he can use and exalt us for His greater purposes in our lives. Today, let us remember this spirit: “who am I?”

Revive (Me) Again

Most Christians would agree with this statement: we need revival. But if I ask, “where do we need revival most?”, there will be a plurality of answers. Many would say, “we need revival in our country!” Others would say, “in our schools!” Some would think, “on Capitol Hill.” Yet others might say, “in our churches.”

Psalm 85 tells us where revival must happen first. The Psalmist says,Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? If revival is to happen, it will not start in our country. It will not in our government, and certainly not in our places of education. The writer understood that a prayer for revival is a personal prayer, and the plea for revival is a personal plea. It isn’t for someone else to be revived. It isn’t for another institution. It isn’t at another location. It’s right here, where I am standing. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer for revival.

Do you long to see revival in our country? I do. Do you long to see revival in our community, and in our churches? I do as well. Revival will happen when it begins within you and me, as a child of God. How then, can I begin to see revival in my heart? We find further insight in this chapter. Moses gives us principles for personal revival.

  • The requirement for revival: Ask for mercy. The verse following the Psalmist’s request for revival says, “shew us thy mercy, O Lord”. Has there been a time where my walk was sweeter than it was this morning? Have I allowed sensual thoughts to take up residence in my soul? Do my entertainment choices (like t.v. music, social media, internet) grieve the Holy Spirit? Have I allowed pride to creep in and make me judgmental and condescending? Am I the witness and testimony the Lord wants me to be? Is it something else? If so, I need God’s mercy for personal revival. This kind of repentance- turning toward God’s mercy and away from my sin, always foreshadows revival.
  • The resource for revival: Hear the Word. Verse seven says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” Hearing the Word of God always precedes revival. If we want to see personal revival, we must get back to the book. We must hear it. We must read it. We must meditate on it. And we must be willing to obey when it speaks to us.
  • The result of revival: Righteous living. How will I know that revival has begun? Is it shown in a two-hour alter call at the end of a camp meeting? Is it testimonies of those who have been “revived?” According to this chapter, revival is evidenced in righteous living. Three times in four verses, righteousness, fear of God, peace, holiness is a result. I will know that revival has begun when I begin to live more like Christ- righteously.
  • The reason for revival: The glory of God. Yes, we were created for God’s glory and pleasure, and this is the ultimate purpose for revival. But this chapter shows us that when God’s glory is known, good things happen to us as well! There’s blessing when revival happens. There’s guidance from the Lord when revival happens. God’s goodness is given when revival happens.

Do you want to see revival? I do. Revival must start with “us”. Ask the Lord to search us and reveal where we need His mercy. Get into the Book and allow it to convict our soul, and produce righteous living in us. Then, God’s glory will be evident through us, and it can’t help but make a difference in our realm of influence- our family, our church, our community, our country. Revival is personal. And it starts with me.

Training Mighty Men

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;

This morning’s reading continued with a commentary of David’s mighty men. These were some amazing guys! They made a difference. They were notable. Their stories are forever etched in Scripture for our learning.

This chapter shows the incredible potential of training mighty men within a family. Whereas chapter eleven speaks of the mighties as individuals, here, we see their strengths and qualities as families. This didn’t happen by accident. Within that family, there was a culture. There was training. There was intentionality in the process which resulted in a certain product across multiple generations. The notable qualities that they possessed are challenging and noteworthy as we attempt to train mighty men in our generation.

1. The Gadites: Strong, Fit, Skilled, Courageous, Able to Lead

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains; 14 These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.

You didn’t mess with this family. Just their faces and presence instilled fear in the hearts of the enemy. The passage above is speaking of eleven sons of one man, of the tribe of Gad. In what ways were they trained?

  • All the boys in this family were strong (“men of might”). If we’re going to train mighty men, we need to train our children to be strong. Children naturally gravitate to the path of least resistance, to the easiest choice. It is our responsibility to train them to be strong in the Lord. Don’t take away the pressure every time they whine. Let’s train strong children.
  • The men in this family were fit for battle. This family didn’t wait for the battle to rage to prepare for it. They prepared from their youth. If we want our children to make a difference in the Lord’s army, we need to work to see that they are “fit” (Suitable, Qualified, Adapted, Prepared, Furnished), for the battle. Do they have a walk with God? Can they withstand temptations? Do they have control over their spirit? Are they orderly?
  • This family was skilled. This family created a culture that produced skilled warriors. They could handle the shield and buckler well. What skills are we helping our children to produce? Reading? Musical instrument? Critical thinking? Soul winning? Scripture understanding and interpretation? Communication? Mighty men are skilled men. This doesn’t happen by osmosis.
  • These men were courageous! The Scripture literally says that their faces were like lions. These men knew how to put their game face on. When it was time to fight, they set their faces toward the battle like a flint, and the enemy knew that they meant business, and wouldn’t back down. Are we training courageous children? There is an unintended consequence in our “safety-first” culture with our children. They don’t need knee pads when they ride their scooter. A “strawberry” (and praise after they get one) will do them well. They don’t need a helmet to ride a balance bike (seriously? Their head is two feet from the ground!). We have parents who are afraid to allow their children to go on a missions trip. If we train them like this, don’t expect them to end up on the mission field. Let’s allow our children to be bold, and encourage boldness and courage.
  • These brothers had leadership ability. The LEAST of these brothers was captain of 100 men. Let’s help our children to learn leadership skills. One of my children wants me to make every decision for them. But I will not. I want them to learn to be decisive, and other skills that will help them to one day lead a family, a ministry, or whatever the Lord gives them to lead.

2. The Children of Issachar: Understanding of the Times

  • These men understood the state of God’s people, culture, politics, even astrology it seems. Their heads were not stuck in the past or in the sand. They knew what was going on around them, and what the people ought to do live successfully in the current day. This may seem a difficult skill to train into children. But with skill in the unchanging truth of God’s word, and consistent teaching, it can be done. Our children should be trained to use ever-changing technology safely, and well. They should be aware of the state of the nation in which they live- of it’s opportunities and dangers. They should be aware of the state of the church, and of the lost. I tell my children often, “look up. Pay attention.” We’d be light years ahead if we lived “looking up” and “paying attention”, and praying for wisdom to discern the times.

3. The Children of Zebulun: Keep Rank, Not of a double heart

  • The men from this family new how to keep rank. Of course, this is a military term used in a military context. It meant that these men knew how to position themselves for the battle, but also keep that rank when the battle raged. We can learn two aspects of training from this. First, is that of order. My dad would say, “don’t let things get ‘cattywhompus.'” He’d also say “don’t live like a druggie” when it came to our schedules. And he didn’t allow a messy, disorderly house. What was he saying? Live a life of order! A messy schedule leads to sloppy living. A messy house leads to a careless life. A consistently care-free attitude will lead to disaster in marriage, children, work, on the road, and in life. Learn to put things in order, and keep things in order. Second, is that of tenacity. It’s one thing to get in rank. It’s another to keep it when the battle rages. Let’s train our children not just to get into rank, but to keep it too.
  • These mighty men were not of a double heart. These men were all in on the battle and the vision. This may be the most important culture we can garner in our family. There are also two training principles here. First, the culture of the family was to be “all-in”. It starts with the parents, folks. If I want to train my children to be single-hearted, as a parent, I must be of a single heart. The way I live in the public eye and the way I live in my home must line up. If not, I am not training mighty men of a single heart. Secondly, these men had no plan B. They had left living under Saul’s house and his leadership, and there was no plan to return, regardless of the outcome. If we want to train mighty children, we cannot teach them to have a plan B to doing the will of God. I see it on social media. I see it in our Sunday school classes. The result of parents who teach their children to have a plan B to God’s will is disastrous. Because when it gets tough (and it WILL), they turn to plan B. When it’s not what they thought it would be, they turn to plan B. When discouragement, or fatigue, or slander, comes, they turn to plan B. There was a culture in this home of Plan A (God’s will), and no other.

There are other families given in this chapter. I encourage those with a desire to train mighty men to study it further. But these are some key elements to seek to apply if we want to train mighty men to make a difference in the Lord’s army for generations to come.

Mighty Men (what every leader needs)

1 Chronicles 11:10-19 These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.

There is one thing that successful churches, movements, and even companies have in common: mighty men who help the leader carry out the vision. In our context, mighty men help the God-given leader carry our the God-given vision. Much of King David’s success can be attributed to the men that stood by him from his time in the cave to his time in the castle.

I want to see God’s vision for our church carried out! But there must be mighty men that rally around pastor and the vision if this is going to happen. Are you a mighty man? Let’s see what made David’s mighty men, mighty men that made a great difference for the vision the Lord had given to David for His people:

1. They strengthened him when he came into the kingdom.

Simply put, these men gave him confidence to be established as king. The Benjamites questioned his legitimacy. The house of Saul fought against him as king. But the mighty men rallied Israel around him. When I was in China, and since, I was told that one reason President Xi has a political chip on his shoulder is because his predecessor and their loyalists never confirmed their support to him as the new prime minister. The leader should not question our loyalty. We should give him confidence in the position that God has given to him.

2. They stood with him when others fell away.

1 Chronicles 11:12-14 (KJV) And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties. He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great deliverance.

Whether because of fear, envy, despondency, or desire for influence, there will always be dissent. There will be those who fall away, or run away, and influence others to do the same. Jesus faced it. Paul faced it. Moses faced it. What these men did that made them mighty, was they stood with David when others did not. Mighty men stand with the leader when others do not.

3. They were attentive to his desires.

1 Chronicles 11:16-18 And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Beth-lehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD,

Mighty men are attentive to the desires of the leader. They don’t only do so when it’s convenient. Sometimes it involves sacrifice. But they understand that the well-being of the leader is important to the vision, and when he’s strong and taken care of, he can better take care of those God has called him to serve. My dad had men that would wait late to give him a ride home when we only had one vehicle, or that consistently bought him carrot juice when he was trying to eat healthy, or that bought him a firearm after September 11 to show they were concerned for his well-being. These things may seem small, but they mean much to the leader.

4. They kept tabs on his physical well-being.

2 Samuel 21:15-17 (KJV) Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

Most leaders- especially strong and effective ones, will not tell their followers when they’re weak, discouraged, sick, or tired. They will push on, sometimes to their own demise. Sometimes it takes a well-trained eye to see that the leader is “faint”, and to do something about it. This is what these men did. They saw that David was in a vulnerable position. They didn’t just come to his aid at that moment. They made “system changes” so that he would not be in that position again.

5. They were proactive (took initiative)

1 Chronicles 12:20-22 (KJV) As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh. And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host. For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.

Mighty men don’t sit on their hands and wait for the leader to say something before they do something. They’re proactive in the work. They’re proactive for the vision. They’re proactive for the well-being of the people. Here, these mighty men noticed that the people and the land were vulnerable, and they took initiative to do something about it. Every leader needs mighty men who see a need, and take the lead. Men that are concerned about the vision, the people, and the possessions that the Lord has given. Leaders would rather have to pull back on the reigns than have to push.

If our our church is to be successful, and the vision is to go forward, we need mighty men like these.