Lessons in Discipleship(27) دروس في التلمذة

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LID#27 – The Shamgar Principle

This is Dr. Ed Hoskins welcoming you to Lessons in Discipleship, a series designed to help new believers become established in their Christian faith. Today’s session is the Shamgar Principle. First, let me tell you a little about myself. I am a retired physician who spent 34 years in family medicine and student health. I became a Christian 50 years ago and was helped early in my faith by the Navigators, an international, non-denominational Christian organization whose stated goal is To Know Christ and to Make Him Known. I have been on associate staff with that organization since 1980. Lessons in Discipleship is a compilation of what I learned during that time from the Bible and under the direction of the Navigators. What I learned then I now pass on to you. Today’s session is the Shamgar Principle.

So, who was Shamgar? I first learned about Shamgar 45 years ago in a talk given by Dr. John Ridgeway with the Navigators. Shamgar was one of the judges in Israel following the death of Joshua. He is only mentioned twice in the Bible, both times in the Book of Judges. The time is approximately 1400 BC.

The first verse says, “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad. He too saved Israel.” (Judges 3:31) The only other place he is mentioned is two chapters later. “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths.” (Judges 5:6)

From these two verses, Dr. Ridgeway made four conclusions about Shamgar’s life. First, Shamgar lived in enemy-occupied territory. Israel was controlled by a warring tribe and their perennial enemies, the Philistines. It says the usual highways were deserted and travelers had to go by roundabout, secretive ways. Second, Shamgar started where he was. He was a farmer in a field. Third, Shamgar used what he had in his hand. What did he have? He had an ox-goad, a double-tooled digging instrument, with a point on one end (to prod an ox) and a metal digging tool on the other end. Fourth, Shamgar struck down six hundred Philistines. As a result Shamgar saved Israel. Things must have gotten so desperate for the Philistine garrison that they pulled out. Finally, God blessed his actions.

Here are a few additional notes. First, I doubt if Shamgar did all this by himself. God probably used him to recruit others into his cause who assisted in his underground resistance efforts. Second, to my knowledge, there is absolutely no connection between the ancient Philistines and modern day Palestinians, even though the Arabic word for Palestinian is the English word Philistine. Thus, there is absolutely no justification for modern day Israelis to go out and kill modern day Palestinians.

Let’s learn what we can from this passage. Since that time 45 years ago, I’ve tried to emulate Shamgar’s principle in my life. I suggest you try it too.

All of us have been given gifts by God as well as certain resources.
We also have limitations. Here is the key question: Are we willing to lay down our gifts, our resources, our limitations, and our opportunities at the feet of Jesus? Can we trust him to use these in any way he deems fit to make “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)?

I think of a lady in our church who has now gone home to be with the Lord. Michelle was a very gifted lady who developed, as a young woman, a terrible illness (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). This is ALS – it is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS causes progressive deterioration of all the nerves in a person’s body. It makes a person lose complete control of all the body’s muscles. Towards the end of her life, all she could do was blink her eye and move one finger. But using those remaining muscles she had enough ‘tech’ capability to operate a website. She was able to communicate with people around the world. The website was centered around Jesus Christ and called “Meet My Friend.” I know of at least one person who came to know Christ because of her website. Michelle went home to be with the Lord about five years ago. I am sure that possibly the first thing she heard from our Lord when she arrived in heaven was, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Michelle started where she was, with what she had, and did what she could. God blessed her efforts.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned from this brief presentation.
Shamgar was one of the early judges in Israel following the death of Joshua. We see that Shamgar started where he was, with what he had, and did what he could – and God blessed!

Like Shamgar’s time, this is a hostile world we live in. He was a farmer in a field with an ox-goad. He did what he could for God’s kingdom, and God blessed his efforts. We may not be as gifted as we think we should be. But like Shamgar, we start where we are, do what we can, with what we have, and watch God bless!

What do we have in our hands? We each have some unique things God has given us. Are we willing to give them to him for his service?

The important thing is that, no matter how little we think we have, we give it to Jesus and allow him to multiply it, like the loaves and fish (Luke 9:16-17). May we apply the Shamgar Principle in our own lives to the glory of God.

Well, we will see you next time when we cover lesson 28 of Lessons in Discipleship. Our final session in this discipleship series will be the Big Dipper illustration. That wraps up today’s presentation. Thanks for being a part. Until next time, God bless you and keep following Jesus. He’s worth it!

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