Five Smooth Stones
by Rev. Randy Brown
We’re beginning a new series of sermons this morning. We’re talking about no ordinary stones, and it will take us all the way through Easter Sunday when we talk about the stone being rolled away. Each week we’re going to be talking about different stones. None of them are ordinary. All of them have something to teach us in our faith.
Well, the battle was raging. It was the Philistine army against the Israelite army. They fought differently back in those days. They didn’t fight with the whole armies. The deal was that they would choose a representative from their army who would go forth to fight, and it was winner take all. It was fight to the death. It was winner take all. The losing army would become the subject of the victorious army, and they would become their slaves and live under their rule.
The Philistines were there on one side of the gully. Their representative was a giant by the name of Goliath. The Israelite army had a hard time figuring out who would go and represent them in this major battle. Every morning, Goliath would go out and roar and mock the armies. No one would step forth to fight.
There was a shepherd boy named David who was left behind. He was tending the sheep of his father. Something happened. Mom decided he needed to go check on his older brothers. Dad decided he needed to take them some supplies. But, God decided that David was going to be the boy who fought to the victory of the Israelite army.
There were no CNN reporters there, but the story tells us that whoever would go forth and fight the battle, if they were victorious, there would be a great reward. The King would give his daughter in marriage. He would be provided all of the equipment to use in his arsenal. His family would not be charged taxes the rest of their life.
David, this younger brother, you know how younger children are, they think they can do things that other people can’t do. That was supposed to be funny, but I guess we’ll work on that. How many younger children we have in the audience? Okay, some of you are pointing. Okay, well anyway they send the younger child and he’s there. He has to persuade the leadership of the army that he can do this, that he is one who has fought lions and bears and come out victorious, and he can use the experiences in that kind of battle to fight this giant, Goliath, this Philistine giant.
It is agreed and he goes. Notice one of the things that happens is that the people who were too afraid to fight tried to tell him how to do it. They tried to tell him what armor and what ammunition and what things to take for protection. They tried to suit him up with their armor, but he said, “I can’t do this.” It’s kind of like having oversized equipment. He couldn’t function that way.
David says, “I can only fight this the way I know how to fight.” And, he was pretty good with a slingshot and stones. When the battle is almost ready, he goes down to the brook and he gets 5 smooth stones and he puts them in his pouch and he attaches it to his hip and he goes up and he’s ready for battle.
On the day that he comes out for battle, Goliath is there. He mocks him and he mocks the whole Israelite army, “What do you mean sending a boy to take care of me”? Goliath didn’t realize that he was really the underdog, that he really didn’t have a chance because he was fighting against the army of God.
David knew where his power was coming from. David knew that he was fighting in the Lord’s army and the battle was the Lord’s. So, there was a line there that they couldn’t divide or couldn’t go across. David gets a sling and gets the stone out and he begins to run toward the battle line. As he does that-he’s pretty good with that slingshot-and he gets his momentum up and he gets to the battle line and he let’s that rock go. All the soldiers on both sides of that gully are watching, and watching, and watching, as that stone crushes into the skull of Goliath, and he falls. The Israelite army wins.
Everybody who’s ever been in war and everybody who’s ever thought about war has lived and dreamed that particular battle that’s told to us from so long ago in the Old Testament.
He used 5 smooth stones. I want us to talk about doing battle with our giants this morning for just a few moments. How do you do battle with your giants?
One of the questions that I’ve had this week, and I still haven’t come up with an answer yet, maybe you can help me, is that if he only needed one stone to win the battle why did he take five? That’s a question that I’ve got to continue to mull over in my mind.
Let’s talk about these 5 stones. The first stone that he had was the stone of passion. Is there a passion in your life? What are you passionate about, because passionate people get things done. Passionate people don’t quit whenever there’s a setback, because passionate people know that a setback may lead to a setup. And that just because something doesn’t go good one day, does not mean that the battle is over. Passionate people are driven. That’s one of the things that I really admire and respect about our new bishop, Bishop McAlilly, because he is such a passionate bishop and passionate pastor to his churches and to his pastors. He believes that scripture that Jesus spoke that says “You can do what I’ve done and even greater things.” And he’s really about the churches of this annual conference doing greater things than we’ve ever done before. It’s a passion of his.
Let me read to you what J.C. Ryle wrote about passion. He says zeal but I think zeal and passion are the same thing. Listen to this. “Passion is a burning desire to please God, to do God’s will and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. A passionate person prominently is a person of one thing. They are more than honest. They are more than uncompromising, wholehearted and fervent in spirit. They see only one thing and care about only one thing and live for only one thing, swallowed up in only one thing and the one thing is this, to please God. Whether they live or whether they die, whether they’re healthy or sick, whether they’re rich or poor, whether they bless people or offend people, whether they are thought to be wise or foolish, whether they get blame or praise, whether they receive honor or are given criticism, their heart burns for one thing and that is to please God. Such a person will always find a spirit to be passionate. If they cannot preach, they will work and give money. They will cry, they will sing, they will pray. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will hold up the hands of Moses until the battle is over.”
Are you passionate? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to see that the battle is won? Well, we all have our battles. Are you willing, are you passionate to do whatever it takes to win the battle?
The second stone is this: the second stone is pride. I don’t mean arrogance. I mean like self-confidence, that we know our giftedness from God and that God has gifted each one of us. I remember something my bishop said 25 years ago or 30 years ago when I was in seminary. He said, “We ought to be bold enough to believe that we can make a difference.” That’s the kind of stone, that’s called pride, that I’m talking about.
David had that kind of pride. He saw all the rest of his army; they were scared. He saw his older siblings; they were scared. But he said, “I can do this. I can do this.” Because what he had gone through in the past had prepared him for that moment. It’s kind of like when the game’s on the line and you can tell, those of you who’ve coached and those of you who’ve watched, you can see it in the player’s eyes who wants the ball and who doesn’t. David said, “Give it to me, I can handle it, I want the ball, we’re going to win this battle.” That’s the kind of pride that we need to have, not an arrogant, but a self-confident.
The third stone is this: Priority. To be victorious in the battles of life, we have to sit back and plan, and we have to realize what the first things are, and we have to keep the first things first. It’s not to go out somewhere and start something and ask God to bless it. The way to keep first things first is to find out what God’s doing and go join what He wants you to do. It’s God’s call, it’s not our call. It’s not that we’re trying to get God on our side but are we willing to do whatever it takes to be on God’s side? If we do that, if we humble ourselves and make God the priority of our life, something will happen. Our life will change if we keep first things first. The scripture says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” that means God’s first. A transformation takes place. We won’t get distracted every time the wind blows something new in. It’s not playing games with God; it’s making God a priority.
I ran across this article this week, and I thought it was kind of interesting. I want to share it with you. It’s by Tim Hansel in his book called When I Relax I Feel Guilty. Here’s what he writes, There was a conversation where a man walked in a store and says “I’d like to buy $3 worth of God. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want him to make me to love those who are not like me. I don’t want him to make me where I would go and serve others. I want ecstasy not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, but I don’t want a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I’d like to buy $3 worth of God please.”
If we’re totally honest, the idea of transformation really scares us. That is because we know that such radical change will make us uncomfortable. We realize that transformation comes with a major overhaul of principles.
The fourth stone that he did was priority. To be victorious in battles, we have to have priorities. Well, fourthly is presence, persistence, perseverance. The scripture says, Those who endure to the end shall be saved.” It was the past experience of David in fighting the lions and the bears that brought him to this point. What if he had quit? What if he had quit keeping his father’s sheep? What if he had quit when it came time for the battle with the lions and the bears? He never would’ve accomplished much. We need to persevere. It’s his past that got him ready, and if we quit we’ll never go any further. Our past prepares us for our present, and our past prepares us for our future. Perseverance is that fourth stone.
The last stone that we talk about this morning is this: the promise. The promise. We can count on that stone as we can count on the rest of them for Jesus says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will always be with you.”
I want to talk to the granddaddies in the audience for just a moment. I heard a story about you this week. This one particular granddaddy was visiting. Little Jimmy had been real bad. His mother had said, “I’m putting you in the playpen, and you’re not getting out till I say you can get out. You’re in trouble.” Well, granddad didn’t realize what had gone on. Granddad comes in, walks over to the playpen and reaches down. Well, little Jimmy’s there and he’s ready to reach up. Mom clears her throat, and they both know what that means. She said, “Son, you’re not getting out of that playpen, I don’t care what papa says. You’re not getting out.” “Papa, he’s been bad, he’s being punished; he’s staying in the playpen.” Do you know what happened? Papa got in the playpen with Jimmy.
You see sometimes, that’s all we need: to know that He’s there, to know that He is with us. When we fight the battles of our life, and we all go through them, we need to know He’s there. If we’ve got that stone in our arsenal, we can fight a lot of battles can’t we? He’s always with us. Whatever the mess is, whatever the situation is, He’s there and He chooses to be there. He climbs in it with us. He’s there.
Amen and amen.