Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry


Part 8


By Rayola Kelley

      It takes making the right choices to ensure that a matter comes out right. It would seem that most people would see the reason in making them, but look at our present world. It is obvious that very few people who have what we call the “bully pulpits” believe in the absolutes of truth, morality, and righteousness. Even though I have dealt with various people going into extremes because of challenging times, and ending with obsession and in many cases possession, I am still shocked at the depth that delusion, perversion, and depravity can take people. I have watched the people who travel this terrible route to hell change from some semblance of sanity to complete insanity. It’s as if nothing is left of the person, and all that remains are eyes that mirror the deep darkness of hell itself, the countenance of total delusion, insanity, and rage, and the mocking, blaring hypocrisy of actions.

      Right choices seem like a “no-brainer” to most people, but the reality is that “right choices” can be redefined with logic, adjusted to fit a preferred desire with excuses, ignored to maintain delusion, and made to be right in the mind of the individuals who have been seduced and indoctrinated. Such lives will be rendered into utter depravity, making these individuals rage against truth, profane all innocence, and destroy any purity.

      Truth is the great connector to the reality of the present, morality the great discerner of the soul, and righteousness the great test as to what is motivating or inspiring the individual  The challenge right now is for the mind because once the mind can be swayed, changed, or indoctrinated in the wrong way, the affections of the heart will naturally go the way of the mind, developing wrong attitudes, misguided allegiances, and indifferent, tyrannical reactions.

      The Word of God is full of that which would constitute right or wrong choices. When you study the different lives of people, you realize two scenarios emerge. The first one has to do with those who make the right decision like Abel. They often erect the mirror that exposes the wrong decisions of people like Cain. Needless to say, the fleshly Cains prove jealous of the Abels, and will try to put out their witness. However, right decisions establish lasting testimonies that can’t be silenced when it comes to God upholding them (Hebrews 11:4).

      The second example are those who fail to hold the line of righteousness. Mankind often attempts to bring forth what God ordains, but anytime man tries to put his two cents in a matter, he creates detours and can miss the mark of excellence. Take Abraham. When the promised son did not materialize for him in his later years, he asked God if He wanted to make his faithful servant his heir, but the Lord told him that the seed would come from his loins (Genesis 15:2-6). Abraham missed going down a very difficult trail by believing God and dropping it at that point, but Sarai’s interference in Genesis 16:1-5 was a whole different story. She had to admit she sinned because she was willing to settle for man’s way instead of holding the line of faith until God fulfilled His promises. Sarai used the custom of giving her servant to Abraham to produce a son. It must have seen logical enough to Abraham because he did not seek the Lord about it but obliged her. At 86 he had his son, but it was not the one that was the promised son of God. The Lord later would instruct Abraham that the son would come out of his union with Sarai and not a slave (Genesis 18:10-14).

      Sarai’s servant mocked her because she could not have a son and when she did, Abraham’s now 13-year old son, Ishmael, mocked the promised son (Genesis 21:9-13). As we know, that which is of the flesh and the world can’t be heir to that which is an heir of faith. The fleshly and worldly are after the things of the flesh and the world, while those who are heirs of promise are by faith pursuing after that which is unseen and eternal.

      Sadly, we become impatient to see promises come to pass, but if these promises are not obtained by faith that patiently waits on God and endures to the end until they are fulfilled, then like Sarah, these people end up with something that will ultimately mock them in the end.  

      It is not unusual for new Christians to start off with great enthusiasm but as they confront the challenges of life, their former highs prove to become great lows of darkness. Since some equate their life to experiencing the highs of a new faith, they fail to pass the test of the lows when their character is being tested, their fragile faith is set up to fail them, and their surface devotion to God is barely hanging on by a thread, swinging over some abyss of utter defeat and hopelessness. The faith walk does not make us immune from the challenges of life, nor does it guide us away from life’s adversities, or keep us from being bombarded by various storms; rather, it enables us to walk through the tough terrains, weather the storms, and stand when everything from hell is hitting us from every side and every direction.

      A good example of such a person is King David. David was the youngest in the family of eight sons. No doubt as the youngest, the elder brothers probably passed down the chores that were least preferred. Here at a young age David was sent out to tend the sheep, allowing his other brothers to attend to other matters of life. Think about this for a minute, David learned responsibility at a young age. He knew how to tend, protect, and care for sheep at all stages of their life. In a way David’s life is much like our Cinderella story.

      When his father, Jesse, was called to meet with the prophet Samuel, no one had any idea Samuel was about to anoint the next king. This king would have a heart after and for God, but how can a man discern such a matter? After all, the first king of Israel, Saul, was the people’s preference. He stood out in height, looks, and presentation, but Saul did not have the heart to be king, have the character to make the right choices, the resolve to do what was right before God, or prove to be honorable concerning the people he was overseeing.

      This is the reason many people fail the test of faith. The people trusted in what they could see, and not in the unseen God. They chose a king based on looks and presentation and not on character and calling. Samuel almost made the same mistake in 1 Samuel 15. David’s oldest brother Eliab looked the part of a potential king, but the Lord stated that He had refused him, and Samuel was reminded that God does not look on the countenance or height of a person, but on their heart.

      David had to be called in from the field to be anointed as king. This may not seem an important matter, but God never calls those who are sitting around or waiting to be served as they sit at the tables of importance. Most servants of God are called while doing what is considered insignificant, but always will prove to be necessary. David, an ordinary shepherd in from the fields, was anointed as king by a prophet.

      There are those who act as if Christianity is a type of nanny state where all are chiefs sitting at the head of tables demanding service, but the reality is, if that was so there would be no servants serving the Lord or His people. David’s position of a shepherd pointed to humility, but the real key as to David’s character is that he was faithful to his position, gladly occupied until called in from his duty, and was ultimately entrusted with the kingdom of Israel.

      We often choose the temporary based on looks instead of seeking the Lord to establish that which is lasting. I had to learn such choices based on the temporary are fleshly and worldly and cater to those who are of this world and not those who are preparing for the glory to come. It is a lesson I have had to learn time and time again. After ending up dealing with some Saul’s, taking a few detours here and there, and ending up hitting walls of dead ends, I began to train myself to ask God for His perspective first so I did not end up with the counterfeit ways represented by Eliab that God had already rejected. 

      Most know the story of Saul and his tragic ending, but I try to study Saul at different times to remind myself of what I need to beware of about my own character, what I need to avoid when it comes to pride, and what I must not do if I am going to end up on the right side of matters. Saul clearly had opportunities to prove himself worthy of God’s consideration, confirm the people’s choice as being right, and uphold his high calling as royalty, but when he was put up against the wall of testing, he proved to be impulsive, unpredictable, self-serving, and foolish. At such times, he endangered his people, proved to be fearful and jealous towards that which revealed his own ineptness, and when caught, blamed others for his miserable failures. He never really took responsibility by truly repenting for who he was, what he did, and who he was allowing himself to become because of bad choices. In the end, he lost his reign as king, his authority before God, and a future dynasty for his heirs. When he was facing the darkness of his own end, and when it was clear the Spirit of God had departed from him, and the Lord no longer spoke to him, he sought out a witch (1 Samuel 15:19-31; 16:14; 18:6-12; 1 Samuel 28:5-19). This man who eventually became desperate towards the end of his life had been given much, but he never really valued the God behind his blessings and as a result neglected his calling, was flippant towards his responsibility, was dismissive towards his position, and in the end lost his soul.

      It all comes down to the decisions we make when we are being tempted to compromise our integrity, adjust our faith, and undermine our testimony. Many people quote 1 Corinthians 10:13 in light of grave spiritual challenges and personal crises, but the scripture is not in reference to challenges and crises but temptation. God will not give us more than we can handle when being tempted. It is important to point out that the Lord provides a way out of temptation. The way is simple, it involves faith that believes God’s Word, while trusting Him enough to submit to what is true, and becoming humble enough to walk it out in loving obedience for the sake of all of that is sacred and right.

      This brings us to David. David was God’s choice for king (1 Samuel 13:10-14). The Lord knew his heart was tender towards Him. He had withstood lions and bears while tending sheep and was prepared to stand before kings and giants without feeling intimidated (1 Samuel 17:36-46). He desired the ways of righteousness because he understood victory could only be secured within such boundaries. We are told in 1 Samuel 18:14-17 how he walked before King Saul, “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him. Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.”

      You need to realize David’s walk was a matter of choice. What did he choose? He chose to conduct himself in an honorable way at all times. His conduct revealed discretion on his part that was carefully disciplined by the desire to do that which was honorable and right. It is important to point out that David’s behavior was a point of discipline where he wisely showed discretion in all of his ways.

      The key to true discipline is that it is trained behavior. This is true for runners and soldiers. How they run and march is a matter of trained behavior that becomes natural to them no matter what setting they are in. Disciplined behavior is not sporadic or unpredictable; rather, it is automatic.

      The next thing we have to point out is that his conduct identified him to the Lord. I know there are times when my flesh takes center stage, my pride tries to hide behind some religious insight or judgments, and my humanness struggles to look humble when in reality it sees itself as a suffering martyr. To be honest with you, I can’t stand myself some days. I know there is no good thing in me, that I am deserving of hell, not blessings, and it is by His grace that I stand according to the faith He gives me. These simple facts remind me of another important truth, that the righteous are scarcely saved (1 Peter 4:18).

      These simple truths do not leave me feeling condemned but realistic about my state. If God does not do something in me and through me, nothing gets done that will have any real eternal effect. I do not beat myself down with these truths; rather, I allow them to keep me humble before the Lord, ever aware that my flesh wars against the right spirit, my pride wants to be exalted as god, and my humanness keeps me needful of His intervention in all matters. It is from a humble state that I can be trained in the right way when it comes to my conduct to ensure the Lord is with me.

      If I choose to walk according to my high calling, I will put up a mirror to those who want to remain on the outside fringes of true consecration. The reality is that the high calling in the Lord is a choice, while experiencing the world is a preference. When you challenge some people about their choices, they will say, they did not choose the world, but their unwillingness to choose Christ simply allowed them to go their preferred way of the world; therefore, preferring the world is a choice.

      For a person to avoid the way of consecration simply means he or she will maintain a carnal attitude towards the world as a means to enjoy some of its pleasure, while holding onto some religious identification. These individuals will juggle aspects of the world while keeping their spiritual “fire insurance” intact, but with the mirror put up in front, they can experience discomfort in their spirit, discontentment in their soul, and an uneasiness in their conscience. Such feelings cause fear, jealousy and anger that can turn into resentment, bitterness, and rage.

      We see where all of Israel and Judah loved David. Why would a nation of people love a leader? We are told David went out and came in before them. Apparently, David was transparent and sincere about who he was along with his intention. Clearly a great leader will never lie to the people, lead them astray, or sacrifice them for personal aspirations. In other words, they can be trusted, which is a rarity in a world that is often wrapped up in lies and false narratives, while walking in corruption, and operating behind propaganda. People will respect or love a person who walks a narrow line of righteousness. Such individuals will stand out because their faith will be on display, their character revealed, their attitude always taking center stage, and the right fruits coming out in their conduct.

      When a person walks according to God’s righteousness, he or she will never be out of step with God’s timing. David was anointed king but never tried to usurp his authority over Saul. Timing is everything. David was prepared among the sheep until he was called forward to be anointed as king. He took the back seat as a mere musician to the king until God presented him with a giant. This ordinary shepherd would stand before a giant because he understood who fought the real battle and he avoided the trap to take on the armor of man. He hid behind God’s authority as he used a small, smooth stone to bring the giant down to defeat (1 Samuel 17:38-40).

      There were many times David could have brought Saul down, but he was anointed by God as king; therefore, it was up to God to bring Saul down His way and according to His timing. Meanwhile, David recognized Saul’s position as king and walked humbly before him, never assuming he had rights to be king, never settling for excuses to insert himself as king, and avoided the trap to take matters into his own hands to be king when unfairly pursued by Saul who was bent on destroying him.

      David was a young man when all of these ways were established in him. For most of his life and reign as king, he pretty well stuck to the narrow ways of righteousness. It is true he greatly failed, but it is also true that when he came face to face with his sin, he repented and confessed it to God.

      The truth is, our humanness will take us off the path and give us opportunities to go back to what we are most familiar with, but our preparation in the trenches will cause us to always come back in line with the right path that advances us forward to our final destination.