"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Raisig The Standard: Joyfulness Is Maintaining A Spirit Of Cheerfulness Despite Physical Limitations

"My grace is sufficient for the: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... for when I am weak, then I am strong." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
From The Pages Of Scripture:
Every person must be prepared for calamities. They are the truest test of real character and motive. Under the strain of a disaster, some will turn to God; some will turn to human wisdom; others will give up and become bitter against God. The most important skill to be learned and used at such a time was demonstrated by a godly young man who experienced many catastrophes. This young man was greatly loved by God and is mentioned more often than any other person in Scripture. His name is recorded over 1,100 times. The skill which he learned and demonstrated through calamities enabled him to maintain a spirit of brightness despite physical limitations.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Joyfulness In Maintaining A Spirit Of Cheerfulness Despite Limitations?
Joyfulness is maintaining a spirit of brightness despite physical limitations. When we expend our physical energies we become exhausted. When we drain our emotional energies we become depressed. Who experienced a personal calamity that should have destroyed his family, future, position, and possessions but by drawing on a special skill turned defeat into victory? David. Our true self is revealed when all the things important to us are stripped away. God wanted to reveal the true self of a certain young leader. He and his six hundred men were just returning home from a battle in which they were not required to fight. As they neared their city several shouted, "Look! Our city has been burned!" They ran toward the smoldering ruins of what had been their home and stared in shock and disbelief. Everything had been burned or taken away. A plundering band of soldiers had attacked while they were gone, taken their wives and children as captives, stolen their possessions, and burned their homes. He and his men sat down and wept until they had no more strength. Then the anger and frustration of the men began to mount. Who was to blame? Their attention turned to their leader. Bitter words were heard. "Let's stone him. He is responsible for this." This young man had known the praise and acceptance of an entire nation. He had had power and authority, riches, and reputation. Then he was rejected by the very one he faithfully served. Falsely accused, he was forced to flee. All he had were his family and a few faithful companions. Now he had lost his family, and those companions wanted to kill him. In that helpless moment of despair, he called upon a skill he had learned in the past and put it to its ultimate test. His men watched and grew silent. The mood began to change, and soon there was a different spirit. Fresh courage and new hope was given. The real victory had just been won and a precedent had been set for all who would experience calamity in the future. What happened next is exciting, but it is incidental. This leader and his six hundred men pursued the plundering enemy. They overtook and surprised their attackers while they were in wild celebration, destroying them through fierce fighting. They rescued those who had been taken captive and recovered all their possessions and more. The secret of this young man's success was not his courage in battle, the might of his weapons, or his persuasiveness with people; but it was a skill he applied whenever he experienced personal sorrow or despair --- the skill of encouraging his own heart in the Lord. He had learned to use the loss of temporal things to see more clearly the reality of eternal things. Thus, in the depths of a calamity, David was able to experience the joy of spiritual reality through the motivation of physical limitations. ~ From 1 Samuel 30:1-20
How Did David Maintain A Cheerful Spirit Despite His Physical Limitations?
A previous event in his life gives us a clue to what David did. When he was so hurtfully wronged by the men of Keilah, Jonathan went to him "and strengthened his hand in God." (1 Samuel 23:16) He strengthened David by reminding him of the Lord's promise that he was to be king over Israel. This was not merely an optimistic goal; the prophet Samuel had already anointed him for this purpose (1 Samuel 23:16). In this moment of great distress, David must have again called to mind the promise that one day he would be the king of Israel. If he was to be king, then the Lord would not allow him to be stoned to death. He may have also reflected on the promise in the Law, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them." (Deuteronomy 33:27) At this time David did not know how the Lord was going to deliver him, but he did know that he would be delivered.
What Would Have Been The Response Of A Lesser Man?
It is significant that King Saul --- whom David was going to replace --- was in a similar state of distress at almost the exact moment. The Philistine army which had just dismissed David was camped at Gilboa. "And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled." (1 Samuel 28:5) Unlike David, Saul went to the priest for counsel without encouraging his heart in the Lord. There was no answer (1 Samuel 28:6). In desperation to know the outcome of the battle, Saul violated his own decree and the Law of God by consulting a fortune teller (Deuteronomy 18:10-12. When he discovered that he was to die in battle, "Saul fell straightway all along the earth, and was sore afraid." (1 Samuel 28:20) With their leader in such a confused state of mind, it is little wonder that the Israelites were so soundly defeated. What a contrast to the outcome of David's battle with the Amalekites.
Why Was It So Important For David To Renew His Joy By Encouraging Himself In The Lord?
The situation was grave. "David and the people who were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep." (1 Samuel 30:4) The Lord's solution for this situation was that the men pursue the Amalekites and battle against them. He had already prepared an Egyptian Slave to point out the way (1 Samuel 30:11-15). But in their present state of mind, neither David nor his men were in any condition to attack a group of professional fighters who greatly outnumbered them. Regarding warfare the Mosaic Law stated, "What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his bretheren's heart faint as well as his heart." (Deuteronomy 20:8) If this applied to a private, it applied doubly to the general. When the men observed David's renewed hope and strength, their strength and confidence were renewed; and they followed him on to a great victory.
Illustrated In The World Of Nature:
The dipper bird is also known as the water ouzel. It belongs to the genus of Cinclus which consists of only five species. Four of these species are found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and south America. The other, the American dipper, inhabits the mountain ranges of western North America spreading south from Alaska to southern California and New Mexico. It seeks the clear, cool rushing waters of mountain streams and is especially attracted to waterfalls and rapids. Generally, the bird inhabits the shorelines of mountain lakes. Although it is not confined to any particular elevation, the dipper moves to lower levels when winter freezes the high streams.
How Does The Dipper Illustrate Joyfulness By Maintaining A Spirit Of Cheerfulness?
It was a cold and dreary November day in the mountainous Northwest. The pouring rain was thick and slushy but not quite cold enough to form snowflakes. Over the past few weeks, heavy rainfall had swollen the rivers and streams. When the foaming torrents raced downstream, many new falls, rapids and cascades were created as the water rushed over and around huge boulders and stones. A penetrating wind caused one to feel colder than the temperature actually was. The monotony of the chilling rain and the lifeless appearance of naked vegetation created a gloomy, depressing atmosphere. Most birds of the area had already migrated south. Those that had remained behind sat silent and numb near any protected shelter, huddled with their feathers fluffed out for maximum warmth. The area's reptiles and amphibians had entered their homes deep in mud and rocks to rest for the winter. Many other animals had sought shelter --- some for the winter, others just until the rain came to an end. Except for the sound of falling rain and rushing water, it seemed as though all activity had ceased. Everything was silent and motionless. Everything, that is, except for one small bird which fluttered from rock to rock, surveying the turbulent waterway. Suddenly the bird disappeared. It actually walked into the icy water! A few minutes later it reappeared on the opposite shore apparently undaunted and unhurt by its frigid plunge. The amazing thing was that this bird did not seem suited for aquatic life. Its appearance resembled that of an overgrown wren, and yet it maintained its exuberant immersing activity in and along the stream. The more turbulent the water, the more it seemed to enjoy it. Repeatedly, the little bird entered the water and searched among the rocks for food. This bird, the size of a robin, appears to have no special features to equip it for this activity. To the casual observer it would appear to be more at home in the forest than in a turbulent stream. Yet it moves in and around the water, easily and effectively navigating the stream despite its physical limitations. Even more significant than this unusual activity is the fact that the dipper constantly has a song. Adverse weather seems not to affect it in the least. Even on the harshest day of winter the beautiful. cheery song of the little ouzel can be heard breaking the chilling silence of the landscape. Despite the dipper's physical limitations, it joyfully and energetically goes about its business with a song.

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