UNAFRAID: Aligned

UnAfraid_Web

What’s (one of) the biggest challenge (past or present) that you have ever faced?

These may include fighting an illness, forgiving someone after a betrayal, quitting smoking, surviving joblessness, refusing to bribe for a huge tender, struggling to keep my business going, a difficult relationship breakup, finding a spouse, a difficult or abusive marriage, raising children alone, the death of a loved one, and surviving a corrupt work environment.

One of the most startling things when we become Christians is the realization that following Christ doesn’t immunize you from problems! Life doesn’t become easier once you say the surrender prayer. We still face huge challenges and many times, the problems even seem bigger now that you are a Christian!

The reality of life is that stuff happens to all of us, and it’s not always clear why. So how do we overcome the giants that will inevitably come across our path on this life journey? How do we develop the kind of backbone that will help us to finish well regardless of the challenges we face?

READ 1Sam 17:1-50

a) Goliath – Our first character, Goliath, was far bigger and stronger than anyone else in the field and he made sure they knew it! His approach on the battlefield was to intimidate the enemy through what he had; his voice, his height and his muscles. Goliath represents courage that is founded on our STRENGTH. Whether it’s physical strength, intellect, technology, experience, family background or our connections. And the more gifted you are, the more prone you are to rely on your gifts and strengths to solve your issues. The problem with this approach is that some challenges cannot be managed through strength alone. When you finally encounter a challenge that is bigger than your strength, when your resources run out, then your courage will fail!

b) Eliab – The bible tells us that when the prophet Samuel first laid his eyes on Eliab, David’s eldest brother, his response was, ‘surely, this is God’s anointed!’ Eliab was physically impressive and well put together. He dressed well and spoke well and looked like he had his act together. And yet as we read, we realize that all this was a cover for his fear. Eliab represents courage that is founded on IMAGE. He represents those of us who when faced with challenges, our first response is to focus on looking good; ‘what will other people think?’ We don’t want people to know that we’re struggling! It’s a taboo to talk to others about the issues that we (or our family) are facing. We live two lives; doing our best to look and act like we have it all together but on the inside knowing we are far from it. The problem with the image response is that it leads to stress! Sleepless, getting tension headaches, hyperacidity, backaches and the like. Your perfectionism can also lead you to become very unreasonable, using harsh words on others who are only trying to help.

c) Saul – Saul should have been the best person for the job! Not only was he the tallest man in Israel but he was also the best armed. But Saul was an analyzer. He had done his research and knew everything about Goliath – where he was born, his height, the constitution of his armor, how heavy it was, and not just how long his spear was but how heavy it’s tip was! Saul represents courage that is founded on KNOWLEDGE. He represents those of us who insist that we won’t move until we’re 100% sure of what’s ahead. It’s not bad to want to know more but often, the problem is that our demand for more knowledge is often a mask for our fear! Knowledge-based leaders suffer from paralysis of analysis and often miss the opportunity to obey.

Whether strength, image or knowledge – the one thing these three responses have in common is the reliance on self. Jeremiah 17:5 says ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD.’ Courage that relies on self is courage that will fail.

d) David – David was certainly not the strongest, the best looking or the smartest person on that battlefield. He was not even a soldier! But David knew God. He recognized that this giant represented not just a military threat but a blemish on God’s honor. He knew that God’s reputation was at stake, and for him to stand by while Goliath insulted Israel was admitting that this is one problem God was not capable of handling. And because he knew what God desired in that moment, he aligned himself with it. David represents courage that is founded on ALIGNMENT. What does that mean? Because David knew God’s will in the situation, he was able to align with God’s purposes, overcome his fear and step confidently into a fight that even seasoned soldiers found impossible.

The foundation for true courage is alignment.

Many times when we face challenges, we cry out to God and ask Him to take our side. But that’s getting it wrong. It’s only when you have the confidence that you are on God’s side that you can forge boldly on knowing that you will not fail! It’s not about getting God to align with our plans, it’s about our being aligned to God’s plans! As 2Chr.15:2 says, ‘the Lord is with you when you are with Him’. We will never know God’s power until we align to God’s purpose!

The foundation for true courage is alignment.

So how do we align ourselves to God’s plans?

1. TIME – In order to know God’s desires, we must spend time with Him. When I got married, I did things for my wife based on what I thought she liked. So I bought her gifts and polished her shoes every morning. I thought this was the height of self-sacrifice! It was only after being together for years that I finally realized that the one thing that communicates to my wife that I love her is quality time together! But I only got to know that because of the time I spent with her.

Did you notice that David never even once stopped to pray? He didn’t call a fast! He had already spent enough time with God that he knew what God’s preferences would be in this situation. I have found that the more I read the bible, the more I understand what God’s preferences are. This is a relationship, not a religious observance! Are you growing in your knowledge of God every year? Are you getting to know Him so well that you’re beginning to understand His preferences for your office and home?

The foundation for true courage is alignment.

2. OBEDIENCE – The second way to align ourselves with God’s plans is to be faithful in the small things. I imagine as a young boy that David had probably been scared when he killed his first bear and it was small one! But by the time he met Goliath, the bible tells us he ran quickly towards him! If David hadn’t learnt to kill the bears & lions, he would never have tried to take out Goliath. You see, your ability to succeed in the future depends on how faithful you are to God NOW in your current challenge! Courage is not the absence of fear but it’s the defiance of your fear because you know whose side you are on!

What are the obvious areas in your life you know that you need to obey God in? What are some things you are doing where you sense God prefers otherwise? Don’t wait till you’ve learnt to be real spiritual before you begin to obey ~ that’s being like Saul! Obedience in the small things today will make it far easier to obey in the larger challenges that come in the future.

The foundation for true courage is alignment.

TIME with God and OBEDIENCE go hand in hand! It’s like your two legs when you walk. You step with one leg and then the other. You don’t wait till you’ve spent enough time with God to begin to obey! And you learn to obey better as you spend time with God

How are you facing your challenges? What is your primary response style? Are you Goliath – depending on your own strength? Are you Eliab – working hard to maintain your image? Are you Saul – praying about it when you should be obeying? Or are you David – stepping out to do what you sense God is saying, and letting God deal with the consequences?

The foundation for true courage is alignment.

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14 Responses to “UNAFRAID: Aligned”

  1. Today’s sermon was great. It stuck in my mind, I shared it with a friend & plan to meditate on it more during the week. Many times I have based my confidence on image & knowledge…but recent challenges I’ve faced & failed at have made me realize the importance of being aligned with God. The worst time to be misaligned is when facing a challenge or a temptation. My prayer is to remain connected to God at all times.

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  2. eliab-in-disguise Says:

    Thank you, Pastor M.

    God has been talking to me this year about courage. On Sunday, I acknowledged to myself that my courage is mostly image-based so I obviously did not raise my hand when you mentioned this category of people. What would people think?

    I have been coming to Mavuno for four years now, and feel a little discouraged by my lack of growth in this area. Since this is the home of the fearless influencer, I feel a little out of place sometimes. I seem to have lost that fearless feeling somewhere in my youth.

    Thank you for reminding us again, that we need to align ourselves with God. I will spend more time with God this week.

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  3. willis werimo Says:

    Thank you for this eye opening sermon.

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  4. Reblogged this on marge muthura and commented:
    unafraid

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  5. Awesome Piece

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  6. I must say that I was totally shocked to find out that I have an Eliab in me, and of course predominantly a Saul, I can see those charts in my tent, all the analysis. When things are not really working, the Eliab will be totally critical of others efforts, trying to hide my inadequacies, I have gone down on my knees to repent of this wasteful and destructive habit, and oh how I need courage to step up and obey. David ran towards the giant coz He understood God’s heart concerning the matter, I need that level of clarity, knowing I am doing something so that God is honoured, sometimes there is all this ambiguity , what if I want to just save face, what if I fail, I guess you can see the Saul now. I am challenged to be courageous, and I am literally trembling as I step up.

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  7. Monicah Njeri Says:

    Three in one mask!

    Njeri alias Eliab alias Saul!!

    Pastor M: Raise your hand if you identify with Eliab…
    Njeri : I raise in shock at how true that was!…(i smile as i raise my two hands as if to mock me)

    Shortly, do you identify with Saul? M goes again.
    My eyes wide open, tears rolled down my cheeks, (My tummy turned; ‘who exactly am i? – a fake?)
    ….now this? wasn’t funny!!……

    The Eliab in me literally wrestles with God.
    I pray and wait on God and, true enough, he hears me and comes through for me, only that he doesn’t come through in a manner that will always suit me.

    God’s will sometimes, ( In fact, more often than not), in his answers,does not help me maintain my image that i so value!, Therefore the things he asks me to do, i don’t agree and straight away, to buy time to keep my Eliab mask on, i go back to praying!, hoping somewhat, God will see how badly i want something and change his mind!

    Instead of taking a dive or a step in Gods direction, The Saul in me, disobeys and the cycle starts all over again: Njeri prays – God answers – Eliab disagrees and disobeys – Saul prays again and the unchanging God answers the same way again!!! – in the process, am stuck!
    Stuck in a web of my own making. Paralyzed on the spot!

    I need to Align to God and STOP expecting God to align to me!
    Dear Lord, help me to know that you created me in your image and i should stop creating you in my own selfish image.

    (Half smiling, half tummy turning, half in disbelief, half looking fwd to unafraid part 2,…half masked half peeled mask, half everything! – who am i again? A fake?)

    Always( by name)
    Njeri

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  8. Rosalyn Says:

    I am a Saul! Chief Analyzer! Am telling you, if the president needed a Cabinet Secretary for Chief Analyszer in Kenya, he need not look any further.

    I am a good event planner – am being modest here:-). I have a passion for it – but I have been postponing making a career out of it for the longest time! I have held numerous events the best of the best – in my head! I am yet to actualize anything, still convincing myself that I need more analysis.

    And then you said something Pastor M that clicked – true courage is alignment. Time and obedience – that is what i resolved to do. Spend time with God. It’s amazing how I can get up at 5am to be at the gym (clearly, I took your message on living healthy seriously) and I cannot wake up at the same time to be with God!

    I tell you what? I’m holding back no more!

    Watch this space!

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  9. am definitely SAUL praying always about my issues and not obeying…..but from today…..thats gonna change!powerful sermon that i surely needed to hear!thank u pastor be blessed.

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  10. Reblogged this on kellywale and commented:
    Be on God’s side, not the other way round

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  11. This was quite an encouraging sermon. I was touched by the bit on obedience where you said that David was scared…. Much as we as Christians need to be fearless/courageous, I believe it’s okay to be scared BUT not stay scared. I can imagine the fear in: Abraham when he was about to offer Isaac as sacrifice, Daniel when he was thrown into the lions den, Meshack, Shadrach and Abednego in the fire furnace, Stephen when he was stoned to death, Martha when Lazarus died, Joseph when he was told to take Mary as his wife because she had an immaculate conception, Joshua when he was commissioned to a point that he was reminded a lot to stay courageous and have strength….and so on. We surely are only human and God also knows we get afraid. But again His will cannot take us where his grace cannot sustain us and that’s why obeying Him is more important than what happens to us. These biblical heroes understood this too well and that’s why they dared to dare believe in God. I also imagined what if Adam&Eve, Cain, Lot’s wife, the Pharaoh who frustrated the Israelites, Nebuchadnezzar and even we as Christians today fearlessly and selflessly obeyed God’s voice, wouldn’t this world be a better place & wouldn’t we be much happier?

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  12. Timely sermon, I’m humbled..these are my confessions.
    Three years saved (this time for real) and I have had a fairly good run; in the small things I have done serving, many have seen my gifting and even patted me on the back-though many times I wonder if we are looking at the same person. I’m not all that, but my gifts say otherwise..sadly I let them speak louder.
    Lately the drive seems to be wearing out and I guess I’m becoming disillusioned when things do not go my way..note I said “My way”. I am a Goliath-physically, intellectually…I won’t continue listing them as it only makes me sound more like him (chuckles). I have come to the end of myself, not that things are bad, but rather I fear God! A Godly fear, one that knows it’s His power that leads me and has led me three years down the road. A fear that understands that unless His hand is on me, the “little” I (through Him) have built will come tumbling down. I choose to align with Him, and let Him take the lead. I trust Him.
    All along I have done the witnessing, now I want to become a witness.

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  13. clare cheptumo Says:

    hi Pastor M;

    Thank you so much for the message. I came to Germany to study my masters in April. I am a Proud Mavunite and I do miss the church,

    I want to say that your message for Last year January…##TIME TO THRIVE ## got me through so much last year, I was having a rough time at work and finally in December God just opened doors

    I struggle with tithe, fear of being broke and the Goliath spirit….I recommitted my life to God again. I have done this many times..at times i feel like God is tired of me coming in & out.

    Thank you because Mavuno streaming online is a blessing for us far from home…I live in the south so i cant go to Berlin… God bless you because I have grown I have thrived and I am occupying God’s purpose for my life….and Never AGAIN WILL I TRUST MY OWN STRENGTH::::

    God bless,
    Clare Cheptumo

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