Patriots and Giants (and I’m not talking football here)

Hebrews 11The game is over. The Giants have won. Do I have thoughts on this? Well, probably. I am a woman of many thoughts!! But today my thoughts take me to another kind of patriot and another kind of giant in a place where the battle is no game. These players won’t be found on the football field, but in the pages of Scripture.

Fun Fact—although I’m not blogging about real giants, you can find giants in several places in the Bible. For example. . .

Deuteronomy 3:11 – King Og whose bed was made of iron and was more than 13 feet long and 6 feet wide.

Numbers 13:32—The Israelite spies saw men so big they made the spies look like grasshoppers in comparison.

I Samuel 17:4 – Of course, the Philistine, GOLIATH, was nine feet tall. Shoot! His armor coat weighed 125 pounds and the iron point of his was 15 pounds.

1 Chronicles 20:6 & I Samuel 21:20 –   there was a man of great stature, whose had 24 digits. . . . six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot: and he also was the son of the GIANT.

The New Testament is filled another kind of giant. Men like Peter, Paul, John and . . . Men who were willing to give up their lives and any worldly comforts to promote and defend the message and freedoms found in Christ. These men, though not great in stature, were giants in their faith, and their lives are a great reminder to us as to what it really means to follow Christ.

It’s the Giants and Patriots of our faith that we learn from. It’s the Giants and Patriots that remind us that our hope, like theirs, is in Christ. It’s the Giants and the Patriots who show us through their strengths and shortcomings what it means to be that “not a fan, but a follower” kind of believer Christ died for us to be. It’s the Giants and Patriots that show us what true victory really is, and it’s the Giants and the Patriots that surround us now, encouraging us to throw off everything that is holding us back, and to get rid of any sin that tangles us up and keep us running our race– getting in the game—finishing strong.

It’s Abel and his best of his best offering.

It’s Enoch and his life lived so pleasing to God that he was taken from this life without dying.

It’s Noah who by faith when warned about things no one had even seen yet built an ark to save his family.

It’s Abraham who left for a place he had never seen just because God told him to go.

It’s Isaac and Jacob and Joseph  Grampa and Dad and son who worshipped God through generations.

It’s Moses’s parents who hid him in a basket when they had no idea that in saving his life, he would be used to save the nation of Israel.

It’s Moses and his willingness to go when he wanted to stay, and his willingness to lead a nation when he would rather have led sheep.

It’s Rahab, the women with the slightly sketchy occupation who understood the power of the God she had never met.

It’s Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, Samuel. . .

It’s the men and women who through faith in God conquered kingdoms, served justice, shut lions’ mouths, lived through the fire, escaped the sword. Their weakness became their strength as they rerouted foreign armies and became victorious in battle and saw their dead raised to life.

Some of them were tortured and refused to be released. They were mocked and flogged, chained and imprisoned. They were pummeled with stones until death, sawed in two, and put to death. They were poor, destitute, persecuted and mistreated. They wandered in deserts and caves and holes in the ground and the Bible tells us that the world was not worthy of them.

Tonight most people will have seen Giants and Patriots as players on a field. But life is just so much more than a game. Spiritual Giants and Patriots are men and women who are willing to give their very life for the cause of Christ—a cause to which they have committed everything. These are giants; these are patriots. These are the Giants and Patriots of our faith.

And they were commended for their faith. A faith that stood the test, endured the battle, stayed until the end, and finished its course. These men and women are our spiritual MVPs and they remind us to fix our eyes on Jesus–that discipleship, service, sacrifice, faith and love for Christ and his people are the things that Giants and Patriots are made up of.

Ironically, they didn’t set out to become Giants or Patriots. They were just ordinary people doing their best to follow God in faith. We don’t set out to become Patriots and Giants either. We set out to become like Christ–to do and to go and to share and defend the freedom from sin He died for us to have until the day He returns or takes us home.

Like those Giants and Patriots who have gone before us, it is as we learn to surrender, as we commit our whole heart, and as we realize that in becoming less He somehow makes us more, that we find ourselves  transformed by God into the Giants and Patriots who will be used to lead future generations to the glory of God.

Ravens and Patriots

It’s Sunday afternoon and the playoff games are on.  Currently the Ravens and Patriots are battling it out. Honestly, I don’t give a lick about either team. I have my favorites (GO PACK GO!, Tebow time, anyone?, and what Christian doesn’t get excited when we hear the Saints are marchin in!). But they were all knocked out last week (sad face).  Now, since I always tell my kids at church that you can find God in anything, I decided to ask Him what He might show me about Himself through this game that I care so little about, and of course, He has.

First off, Let’s take a look:

Dictionary.com  which tells me that a patriot is:

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

Then, let’s take a look at:

I Kings 17:1-6Tthe Real Story of the Patriots and the Ravens.

We don’t see Ravens and Patriots battling, we see them both being used to save a person (Elijah) and a  people (the Isreaelites).  God sends The Patriot, Elijah the Prophet, as His spokesman to His people, and deliverer of His judments. So not an easy job!!  As God’s messenger of judgment, Elijah must endure them as well– and this lastest judment means no rain, not even any dew for the next few years.  Of course, drought for Israel, means drought for Elijah the Patriot/Prophet as well. And no rain, means no water, no water  means no crops, no crops, means no animals, no animals means no food, no food means no worries for the ULTIMATE PATRIOT–THE GOD WHO LOVES, THE GOD WHO SUPPORTS, THE GOD WHO DEFENDS HIS COUNTRY WITH DEVOTION.

Enter the Ravens.  God lets Elijah know that although times are tough, He is keeping His promises to take care of His faithful.  (I LOVE THESE KIND OF PROMISES!!)  God gives Elijah specific instructions to turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, just east of the Jordan. There is a brook there to drink from and, get this, “I have ordered the RAVENS to feed you there.”  How awesome is that!!! What a blessed assurance that the God we serve controls all things, even Ravens.

And Elijah did what faithful people do, “He did what the Lord had told him.  He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and he stayed there.  And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”  What I think was probably the original Happy Meal!! I mean, just think how pumped Elijah must have been every morning to see those birds flyin’ in with his extra value meal.

But more than just meat and bread, every morning and again every night,  Elijah had this great evidence that in the midst of trying times, rebellious people, false prophets, false gods, lonliness, evil Kings and Jezebels, that God loved him, supported him, and was defending him and the people of Israel with devotion. Elijah knew that the God who ordered the Ravens to bring him the food necessary to save His life, was also at work to save the lives of the Israelite nation.

I guess what God is showing me, through ravens and patriots, is that every morning and every night as I sit down to eat, I can remember that the same Patriot God loves us, supports us and defends us with devotion.  So it is my desire to live like Elijah, loving God back in the same way–following faithfully, with trust and obedience, wherever He may tell me to go.