July 1, 2018
Norwalk First United Methodist Church
Vacation Bible School
6th Sunday after Pentecost
I Can Conquer the Day
Psalm 23; 1 Samuel 16-17
During Vacation Bible School this past week, the children were involved in several different sports, learning foundation skills, developing sportsmanship, and competing in teams. But that was not all they did. They had the opportunity to learn about famous sports figures who are widely known today as well as to hear about a very prominent figure in the Old Testament, the shepherd boy David. They learned that David also had to develop foundational skills in leadership, management, music, combat, and poetry. They were skills that would serve him well throughout his life.
The whole theme of VBS this year was “Conquer the Day.” It is the idea of doing what is right instead of what is easy. One of the first lessons the children learned is to practice with purpose. The more you do something over and over again, the better and better you get. Practice is not always fun, but it is easier to do when we have a goal in mind. The children got to know Golden State Warrior Stephen (STEFF-en) Curry, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player two years in a row. Stephen (STEFF-en) shoots 250 baskets a day and practices 100 three-point shots before each game. He practices because he has a purpose, to get better at his game.
David, as a young boy and teen took care of his father’s sheep. It required that he ward off bears and lions that would attack the sheep. David, through practice, became very good with his sling shot and a few flat stones.
It says this in 1 Samuel 17 as David is talking to King Saul: Your servant [David] has been keeping his father’s sheep When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear. David’s practice with purpose in learning to use his sling and stones paid off quite well as we will see later when he comes up against the Philistine Goliath. Since sheep don’t do a whole lot, David also had a lot of time to practice music on his lyre and write worship songs to God. Stephen (STEFF-en) and David practiced with a purpose.
The second lesson the children learned to conquer the day was to listen to leaders. They learned about sports hero Lex Gillette whose sport was track, competing in the long jump, triple jump, and the 4 x 100-meter relay. What is amazing about Lex is that he is at the top of his game and he is blind. In the long jump, his coach would place him facing the right way and then go to the other end of the pit and clap and yell, so Lex would know which way to run. He would also count his steps. When he got to step sixteen, he would jump as hard as he could. Lex has to listen to his leader in order to be successful.
In 1 Samuel 16, their story for the day, the children learned about David being chosen by God. If you remember the story, King Saul was not turning out to be a very good king or leader of the Israelite people. He stopped listening to God, his leader. And so, God ordered the prophet Samuel to go see Jesse of Bethlehem and his sons. God said to Samuel, “I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
We pick up the story from 1 Samuel 16 when Samuel arrives at the house of Jesse of Bethlehem. Samuel saw Eliab (that was Jesse’s oldest son) and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Many times, we need to listen to leaders who might have more knowledge and expertise in an area than we do. In this case Samuel listened to God. Jesse listened to the leadership of the prophet Samuel, and David listened to both Samuel and God. God, as our leader, had a plan for David’s life that only he knew and revealed it to David as he became a young man and later king of the Israelites.
Sometimes listening to leaders is not easy to do. Sometimes it is tempting to try and do things our own way. But God has given us good leaders to help us. We can conquer the day when we listen to our leaders.
On the third day, the children learned how important it is to recharge. Taking time to rest and recharge can really help all of us to play better and to work better. It keeps us from being too tired or getting burned out. The children learned about sports hero, Roger Federer, the great Swiss professional tennis player. He was eight years old when he started playing tennis and turned pro when he was seventeen. Because he practices so hard he recharges through sleep. He sleeps ten to twelve hours a day. Sleep is as important for athletes as exercise and eating right. We all need time to recharge to perform at our best.
David fought in many wars and became an accomplished leader of the Israelites. Many of his challenges left him feeling tired in body, mind, and emotions. But, David was quite an accomplished poet and song writer and composed many of the psalms we now have in our Bible as a way to relax, recharge, and make his feelings known to God.
One of the most precious psalms that we all know is Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd. David reminded himself that God gives us what we need when we are physically tired. God refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. God also meets our emotional needs and recharges us emotionally. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. And God recharges us with courage. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
David knew and wrote about something we need to remember. God will never leave us. He is with us for our entire life. And he wants us to live forever with him in heaven too. God is always with us, ready to recharge us if we will just ask him for help. You and I can conquer the day when we take time to recharge.
And lastly, on the fourth day of VBS Mega Sports Camp, the children learned that they can conquer the day when they compete with courage. It takes courage to compete when the odds are against you. When we are faced with a challenge that seems too difficult to overcome or an opponent who seems too good, it can be tempting to just give up. But you can’t win if you give up.
The children learned about swimming hero Joseph Schooling, who was born in Singapore, but went to high school in Jacksonville, Florida, and competed on the swimming team. Joseph later attended the University of Texas and in his freshman year advanced to the NCAA championships where he won three gold and bronze medals in swimming. He was chosen to represent his home country of Singapore in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He would be competing against Michael Phelps.
Joseph Schooling had the courage to compete against the most decorated Olympian ever. In the 100-meter butterfly race at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Joseph beat Michael Phelps and won an Olympic gold medal, the first ever for Singapore.
In the final story of David, the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. The Philistines wanted to take over God’s land. They were led by a man named Goliath, who was almost nine feet tall. He was an experienced soldier and warrior. He wore heavy metal armor that weighed about 125 pounds. Goliath was mean and tough.
For forty days Goliath would stand in front of the Philistine army and shout, “Choose a man to fight me!” The Israelites ran whenever Goliath came out to fight. But David was delivering some food to his brothers one day and saw the Israelite soldiers run away. David wasn’t scared. He was mad. David asked, “Who does Goliath think he is to talk like that to God’s people?” David received permission from King Saul to fight Goliath.
Saul gave David his armor to wear, but it was too big and heavy for the boy. Instead, he picked up his shepherd’s staff and five smooth stones from a stream and went out to meet Goliath. Goliath sneered and said to David, “Do you think I’m a dog that you’re coming to fight me with sticks?” He cursed David in the names of his false gods. Then Goliath threatened, “Come here and I’ll feed your body to the birds and wild animals.!”
But David wasn’t afraid. He would compete with courage because he trusted God. Well, you know how this story ended. David hit Goliath’s forehead with one flat stone from his sling and Goliath fell flat on his face dead. With their giant hero gone, the Philistine soldiers all ran away, and the Israelites easily won the battle. David had the courage to fight for God’s people. You and I can conquer the day when we compete with courage.
So folks, those are the lessons we can learn not only from sports heroes but from David as well. Practice with purpose. Listen to leaders. Remember to recharge. Compete with courage. With these lessons we can conquer the day.
And now, some of our athletes and coaches from the Mega Sports Camp have some reflections about this past week that they want to share with you.