Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Unification of Logos & Houtkruis . Forward in faith

. Forward in faith

FORWARD IN FAITH

Introduction.

 

Today I want to focus on a sermon based on the story of David and Goliath that firstly has major implications for us as individuals and secondly for us as a congregation. I do not believe it is far-fetched to acknowledge that in spite of our struggle against sin, the Devil, the flesh, self, the World and the law we also live in a world with many uncertainties on all levels, whether it is political, economic, spiritual, relational or personal.

 

The joy you and I have as a Christian is that we can march through this life in faith, and therefore we can move onward and forward, until that day when we enjoy eternity away from this body in the presence of God forever. The reality however is that many Christians are not walking in faith as they ought to. Instead of victory after victory they face defeat after defeat.

 

Now when we turn to an Old Testament text we must be very careful how we interpret it. In the first place not everything said to Israel was said to us. But everything written in the Old Testament is written for our benefit. I will illustrate this throughout the sermon. Also, we must be careful to spiritualise things, just because it makes a good sermon. I have for example heard many sermons on this section where the 5 stones of David were turned into spiritual truths like prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, witnessing, faith etc. That is wrong, his stones were stones, nothing more, and nothing less, the fact that there were five is insignificant. He only used one in any case.

 

However every story in the Old Testament is packed with meaning, it is packed with messages for us, when we see God’s hand in history and how his people respond, and even in their physical battles, with physical giants we learn something. That’s why I say it is all there on purpose for our benefit. We learn lessons based on their obedience, disobedience, faith, their understanding of God etc. One of the realities for Israel in their decision making and expression of faith is that if they could do everything over they would surely want to. Is this not true for us on a daily basis. But we all know, you cannot unscramble an egg. But there are lessons to be learnt for the way forward.

 

Let me ask you this morning. "If you had your life to live over again, what would you do differently?" I saw some interesting statistics many years ago. It was based on a questionnaire done amongst   1004 senior citizens over the age of 65. Here are a few conclusions drawn.

· 51% would have saved more money;

· 47% would have travelled more;

· 31% would have chosen a different career;

· 18% would have lived somewhere else;

· 11% would have married someone else.

 

At least, they said that they would have made different decisions about these matters. Now we can do a questionnaire like that here this morning, but no matter from which angle you approach it, you cannot have life over, all you have left is the future, and it is a road that you have to walk in faith. You have a future for yourself in your walk with the Lord, for your family, a future in the workplace, and a future in the church. But, the future requires faith in action and faith in action must see God’s people moving forward.

 

You can either learn some lessons from Israel in general regarding their faith in the living God, or you can learn some lessons from David regarding his faith in the living God.

 

Let’s look at the text, before us and ask the following question: what do we learn regarding going forward in faith based on this well know story. I have four points.

 

Firstly, we must look at the challenge Israel faced.

1 Samuel 17:1-3 (ESV) 1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.”

 

Now there are two things regarding this challenge. Firstly it was a persistent challenge.

The Philistines are referred to app 250 times in the Old Testament relating to Israel, and in most cases the issue was confrontation. God had promised Israel land, as they left their captivity in Egypt and the Philistines were inhabiting part of this land. We read in Joshua 13:1-2 (ESV) 1 Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. 2 This is the land that yet remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites”. Sadly the Israelites never got there. They were continually confronted by the Philistines, and they won a few battles, but never fully obeyed God in taking that land, all because of fear that overshadowed their faith.

 

Now as I said before we cannot spiritualise this event and make every small detail ours, but you can dig into a narrative to find principles to apply in your life. Remember theirs was a physical battle against a physical nation on a physical terrain, but yet we all face battles in life don’t we? Often those battles are still there because we have not yet overcome in areas where we disobeyed God’s revealed commands before. Throughout the word of God, His people face challenges and respond differently. My real question is this. Are you still confronted with challenges from the past, that is hindering your walk in faith, maybe sin issues, unresolved relational issues, whatever the issues, and we know God’s commands and His promises, and yet we win some occasional battles, but somehow we just never conquer fully. How are you doing in your battle against sin, Satan, the flesh, self, the world and the law?

 

But theirs was not only a persistent challenge, but secondly it was also a very personal challenge. 1 Samuel 17:8 (ESV) “8 He (Goliath) stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.”

 

As the words ‘choose a man’ echoed through the battle field, everybody lined up, in the back of the line shouting at those in the front to stop pushing. There was no guts in Israel. For 40 days they stood in battle glaring at the enemy and instead of singing ‘Onward Christian soldiers’ they were singing ‘Onward Christian shoulders’ as they stood shoulder to shoulder with nothing to offer towards the battle.

One of the lessons we learn in battle is that the responsibility always primarily falls on a man. Saul was not the leader of Israel he ought to have been. Israel needed a man with the guts to take on Goliath. The challenge was to an army, yes, but the battle was going to be fought on an individual front, even when the army is engaged, you are engaged on a personal level. Many times in the church we see people all waiting for one another to fight before we enter into the battle, but God uses individuals to rise up and be an example. The fear and complacency of all, often gets cancelled out by the obedience of one.

 

The sad reality of why the Israelites could not move forward is because of the choices they made, choices that showed their attitude in the battle.

 

So secondly this morning, let’s look at the choices Israel made. There are two realities in their choices that stand out for me.

 

Firstly they made a depressing choice.

One of the most depressing choices we all make in life, which causes defeat whether it be in the context of Israel in a physical battle or in our context of spiritual battles is that we tend to take our eyes off God and put it on the giant. Their attitude was that this giant is too big to fight. David by the way had a different attitude. For him it was “this giant is too big to miss.” Well, that is not really the whole truth. Based on the context the issue was much bigger for David which we will see later. But in summary, David did not fear the size of the giant because David knew the size of his God.

 

I often laugh at the stories we are told regarding the statements of people in the past. Now, it is easy to look back, but listen to a few of these and then think of the realities we are dealing with today, and may these examples impact our attitude on life and the future.

  1. Computers in the future will weigh more than 1.5 tons." (Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949)
  2. "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943)
  3. "I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." (The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957)
  4. "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." (Western Union internal memo, 1876.)
  5. "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." (Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.)
  6. "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." (Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society of England, 1895)
  7. "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". (Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Etraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.)
  8. “Logos Community Church has no chance to rise to any significant heights”. Can I see the hands of anybody who thinks so?

 

Just think if we believed all these people. Just think if David believed the Israelites. If you function this way in life then the second choice the Israelites made becomes real to you.

 

Because secondly they made a directionless choice. Look again at 1 Samuel 17:2 (ESV) 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines.”

 

Yihaa, they drew up in line for the battle. And this they did shoulder to shoulder for 40 days, fully prepared, fully armed and yet going nowhere. Just like them we are engaged in our battles, we are even Biblically and spiritually prepared for our battles, but are we going forward, are we going anywhere? But that is enough about the directionless, fearful Israeli army.

 

Let’s look in the third place at the champions displayed.

 

Firstly, there is Goliath. 1 Samuel 17:4-7 (ESV) 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

This is one tough cookie.

 

Then we see David. Now we do not have time for the whole story and how he arrived on the scene. The following Scripture however is important. 1 Samuel 17:33-37 (ESV) 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!

 

I love David’s perspective of life. In spite of all the personal pronounce in the text, ‘I did this and I did that’ David knew one thing and that is that it is “the Lord who delivered me”. Is this not often the perspective we miss in our battles? Yes it is ‘I did’, ‘I was the champion’, but it is God who delivers us. This is the confidence that David took into the battle. Look at 1 Samuel 17:45-47 (ESV) 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” Look again, I will come, I will fight, I will strike you down, I will cut off your head, but central in David’s statements is ‘the Lord’, ‘the Lord’, ‘the Lord’. If we as Christians can keep that perspective as we face our daily battles. It is you in battle, you must fight, you should have learnt from past experiences, but in all of it, remember God and that it is about His name and His glory.

There is a last point, and that is the change that they experienced.

Firstly the change experienced by the Philistines.

 

1 Samuel 17:51 (ESV) 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.”

 

It took a man, a young man, a shepherd boy to bring about the victory in the Name of the Lord. Yes as an army they seemed to be too strong, they had a giant on their side, too big to fight, but that was not the end of the story. No matter how big the man or the army or any situation we face, in the name of the Lord there is victory for the believer and defeat for the enemy. That is why David was able to say in Psalm 18:29 (ESV) 29 For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.”

 

Then there was a change experienced by the Israelites.

 

1 Samuel 17:52 (ESV) 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.”

 

Isn’t it amazing how they can turn from fear to shouts of victory? But not only that, the victory achieved by David brought about a renewed confidence in God for the whole army. The very men who stood for 40 days trembling and frozen in their spot, were now pursuing the enemy in full force.

 

Now as we draw this sermon to a close, may I remind you that we have a champion? Our champion is not David, or the personal victories of some of our saints, but our champion is Jesus Christ who overcame the grave. As we walk forward in faith, He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the one who triumphed over that great enemy Satan. He is the one who triumphed over sin, the flesh, the law, the world and it is in Jesus Christ that we can overcome and face the enemies that we face on a daily basis. You do not need to shout in fear as you face the terrible trinity of the flesh, the Devil and the world as Spurgeon called them, no you can shout in victory.

 

Listen to God's call this morning. You are being invited to leave the status quo and the settledness in your life. You are called to step out in faith today, and tomorrow, and every day of the rest of your life. God calls you to new vision, new hope, and new challenges.

 

Are you happy with where you are? Are you maybe like the Israelites lined up for the battle, yours being against sin, the Devil, self, the flesh, the world, the law and anything else life will throw at you? Christian, our Champion has conquered, all it needs for you to do now is to chase the enemy down, and to walk forward in faith, not in your own abilities, but in the strength that God gives you to overcome.  I trust that all of us will develop a faith that is bigger than our fears.

 

Amen.

Logos Community Church: 08 October 2017