1 Samuel 14:1-23
The Church of Jesus Christ in this our nation finds itself at this late hour in a terrible squalor. On every hand, her enemies seem altogether to be prospering and yet the professing Body of Jesus Christ lies impoverished, weak and feeble. Every wicked thing proceeding from the prince of darkness seems to be having its heyday whilst Christianity is being seen off in embarrassment out the book door. Brothers and Sisters, I don’t know how you feel about this, but on a personal level my heart is grieved at this sad state of affairs; saddened by what ought never to be. As I look in my New Testament I don’t see a Church subjugated by the forces of evil, nor do I see a Church that has assimilated itself into the dying corpse of this world. No!! A Church triumphant is what I see, that Church about which Christ our Lord said “...the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).
This sermon is a call to action! A call for the Body of Christ to believe God for better things in this critical hour and to move out and to wipe the reproach from the face of our Saviour!
There’s not a single person who having named the name of Jesus Christ does not now find themselves in a spiritual war; wrestling not against flesh and blood but “...against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). It is for this reason that in the very next verse Paul exhorts us to take to ourselves “...the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). Passivity in the Christian battle will never do!! There is no such thing as a conscientious objector in this battle against spiritual wickedness.
This sermon is a call for the Christian soldier to take to arm them for the fight, the whole armour of God. It’s high time that God’s people stood their ground in Christ and stopped falling prey to the evil schemes of the enemy. It’s one thing to be ignorant of Satan’s cunning strategies of war, but when light has been shone on his antics and what was previously obscured has now been set in plain view, there’s no excuse for our continual succumbing. There’s some who have shown the back to Satan for too long now and God this day is calling them to play the man!!
Well, we could sum up, in just seven words, the weight of so many of our self-inflicted ills; “...ye have not, because ye ask not”. (Jms. 4:2). We find ourselves living in an age of tremendous prosperity; of comfort and ease; a season where it appears that in the Western world no one lacks for anything. Outwardly; materially, we are filthy rich, yet inwardly; spiritually, we are poverty stricken! Such is the temptation to find our comfort and take our ease in this world. Where is our confidence truly found? Is it found in God or in our material surroundings?
This sermon is a heartfelt call for the people of God to sense again their pressing need for God in everything and to cry out to the only one who can sustain His people in this critical hour. Oh, that we might discover again the secret place of prayer!
Great has been the mercy of God towards every one of us who find ourselves a new creation in Christ Jesus. Great was the wrath of God upon us and fierce was the pending judgment which hung above our heads. There was not one of us that was righteous; not one of us that was deserving of God’s mercy. Yet, while we were still sinners, Christ in His love died for the ungodly. In light of this great mercy which has been demonstrated towards us; what ought to be the attitude of our hearts towards our fellow human in the same? Surely it ought to be, to extend mercy in like manner. Yet sadly some, though they themselves have been forgiven of much, are simply unwilling to forgive their neighbour a far lesser debt.
The challenge goes out in this sermon for those who name the name of Jesus Christ, to speak and to act in a way as those desiring to be judged by the law of liberty. By the standard of judgment that we have judged others, and to the degree in which we have forgiven those who have wronged us; to the same degree will God exercise mercy towards us in forgiving our sins. “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee…” (Ps. 130:3-4). Go then and do likewise…
As human beings, I tend to find generally, that we don’t deal too well with change. If you’re anything like me, once something has been laid, I don’t like disturbing it too much thereafter. “Do a job right the first time (so the saying goes), and it won’t need re-doing again a second”. Yet, in my experience, I’ve found that it doesn’t always work that way in life and that there are times when through unexpected circumstances, we are shaken from our complacency and forced to move out onto new ground. One thinks of that persecuted Pilgrim sect known as the English Separatist Church, who in the early 1600’s, were forced to flee England to the Netherlands to find a better home. From the Netherlands, again through the difficulty of circumstances, they planned to relocate to pastures new. In September 1620, some 100 people, many of them seeking religious freedom in the New World, set sail from England on board the Mayflower, landing two months later on the shores of present-day Massachusetts; the rest from there is history. No, friends, change is never usually welcomed; never usually embraced with open arms; much rather we’d prefer to remain settled on our lees and get on with things as we’ve always known them; but more often than not, a prod here and a prod there brings one into unanticipated blessing!
Nowhere perhaps is this more true than in our Christian walk. Whether we see it or not, the Christian life is a journey! God Almighty is at the wheel of the helm, turning the ship at will. The cost to follow God is everything and where He leads His children must follow!!
The longer I tread the pathway of this Christian life, is the more that I realise just who’s carrying who. In my younger days, the fiery zeal of passion blazed the way and the steam engine of human strength and ingenuity set the wheels in motion. I was God’s handyman, lending God my helping hand, not realising that there was a fountain of grace full and free from which I could exchange my wearisome labours for His abounding grace. It had not dawned upon me, though I knew it after the head...the cattle on a thousand hills belong to God, what could I add besides that which He already owns? “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Is. 66:1-2).
The message going forth in this sermon is a call to humility! Would you to receive of God’s sustaining strength in place of your tired and wearied labours? Would you to know of His compassionate favour? Would you to taste of His sweet and tender mercies; to know in place of ashes, beauty; in place of mourning, the oil of joy; in place of the spirit of heaviness, the garment of praise? Would you to know the secret of strength with God? Down into the dust of the ground we must go and there to kiss goodbye to our own wisdom and power; there to bury our pride on the sacred ground of humility!!
There are some Christians who hearts it seems are failing in these days on account of the great evil of our day. 365 days a year 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, news outlets pump news around the globe. What type of news are we talking about, good news? The herald of Christ’s glorious appearing? News that the beast and the false prophet have a certain appointing unto destruction? News that in sounding of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God should be finished, and “...The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:5)? Is it this type of news we hear? Is it this type of truth that Christians generally are consuming themselves with? In my experience, no!! 24-7-365 the news generally that Christians are filling themselves with is bad news and on account of this, as well as the world’s hearts failing them for fear of looking after those things that are coming upon the earth, Christians hearts are failing them also for fear, on account of the constant barrage of evil report which they are willingly subjecting themselves to.
The invitation and call that goes forth in this sermon for God’s people to start looking up!! It is only by allowing the Word of God to be the foundation upon which our faith rests that we shall find in Christ the grace to put into perspective the difficult days that lie ahead. May we be found with our eyes on Jesus and not on the world!
Will we not look hard and steadfast in amazement at a sight so seldom seen in a world where vexation and conflict seem to abound on every hand? From the very dawn of time, friction and strife has marred the family of God’s creation; Cain and Abel; Sarah and Hagar; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his siblings; Moses and his kindred; David and Eliab; Hannah and Peninnah and so the list could go on through time. Even in the days that our Lord walked the earth, His own brothers after the flesh did not believe in Him (Jn. 7:5). Yet, as a glimmering light shining forth into a sin filled world, the words of the sweet Psalmist David cast their rays of hope and call the world to take note; “Behold (arrest your attention; fix your gaze upon), how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).
Wherever true unity exists in a local body of believers, it’s there God commands a blessing! However, equally, wherever this true unity exists, Satan prowls the perimeter of that assembly seeking a way in which to sow discord into their midst. A Church divided is a Church destroyed. Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is incumbent upon us all that we endeavor with everything in us to strive to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. When Satan finds a willing vessel through which to sow disunity, there’s no end of the destruction that is wrought amongst the assembly of God’s children. By God’s grace, may we not be such tools in the devil's hands.
There’s a testimony to be had in the midst of trial and sufferings that attests wholeheartedly to the faithfulness of a God who honours His Word!! “...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Heb. 13:5-6). This is the testimony of David, you can’t argue with it!! But for some of us perhaps, if we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves and more importantly, if we’re being honest before God, we have to confess that this is not our present testimony. We cannot confidently say as the writer of Hebrews; “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…” The plain truth of the matter is that we are fearful and do not know in our current experience, the authenticity of David’s testimony and on account of this, instead of these words bringing peace and comfort to your soul, the words of the Psalmist are a source of agitation to you. The great challenge for the Christian in the midst of any hardship is to bring into living experience, that which is written!!! There is an experience to be had Brethren that can only be laid hold of by faith. Will we not put our trust in the Lord, that in our present day, we might live to see the goodness of God in the land of the living?
It appears that sermons on sin are about as popular as snails on toast! Yet Brethren, it ought not to be; a simple shift in geographical locale make’s a world of difference. You see...snails for the French are what Yorkshire Puddings are for us Brits; they love the former and we love the latter. Had we been bought up in the suburbs of Lyon or Paris, then we too most likely would have been eating those slippery fellows and loving every minute of it! The place of our birth matters!! What used to be our finest delicacy by reason of us being born into this world, is now our most detested by reason of us being born-again. That which we once detested, we now love. Light and darkness; good and evil; righteousness and sin. Sin ought to be for the Christian what snails are to the Brits; disgusting, vulgar; sickening!!
As Christians, we cannot have it both ways; either we are Christians given to holiness or sinners given to sin!! This idea that a Christian is a sinning Saint in limbo cannot be found in the New Testament and is a great deception that has served to comfort many a professor of religion in their sin and give impetus for them to continue in this way untroubled. However, when one opens the New Testament, such faulty reasoning is blown to smithereens and the safety net of false hope is cut down. Will we not face this verse honestly and ask ourselves this questions; what door of sin have we left open in our lives? What besetting sin are we still making allowances for?