Sunday, April 10, 2011

Armed With a Promise

1 Samuel 17.40
“And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”

Armed With a Promise

David was about to enter into a battle.

Weapons extend the power and reach of the individual combatants. Primitive weapons caused the opponents to come face to face. Then the science of weaponry advanced. We went from clubs to swords, from swords to spears, from spears to bows and arrows, from bows and arrows to guns and grenades, mortars, missiles, and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM.) We have advanced to the place where we can kill our enemies and never see their faces. We don’t even have to see their shores. The US uses drones, unmanned ships and planes, to carry our eyes and power to places where we don’t want to venture. A few coordinates programmed into a computer guidance system and the enemy is no more.

It would be considered foolish to enter into a battle without weapons.

On the surface it seemed that David was hopelessly out-sized, out-manned, out-equipped, and out-matched. There appeared to be no hope for his survival.

Let’s take a moment to set the stage:
· The Philistines set up camp in Ephesdammim (Boundary of Blood)
· The Israelites set up camp by the valley of Elah
· Both stood on mountains with the valley between them

The Philistines sent a man from their camp to challenge the greatest of the men of Israel. The challenges was that they would do battle. If the Israelite prevailed, then the Philistines would be servants to Israel. If the Philistine prevailed, then the Israelites would be servant to the Philistines. (Without going into a great deal of detail here, I must point out a fatal flaw of Christians. Satan does not set the terms for our battles. These terms have been and are set by God. When Satan presented himself before God in the book of Job, God determined what Satan could and could not do to Job. The terms and the extent of the battle are not set by the devil.)

We see Goliath:
· A man trained in war
· Six cubits and a span (approximately 9’ 9”)
· Helmet of brass
· Coat of mail weighing 5000 shekels of brass (just over 150 pounds)
· Greaves of brass on his legs
· Target of brass between his shoulders (protects throat)
· His spear shaft was as a weavers beam and the head was iron weighing nearly nineteen pounds.
· A man went before him bearing a shield

He had the finest armor, the finest weapons, and the finest training. He was a war making machine. It was little wonder he was the hope of the Philistines.

Every one of us has a mechanic we trust. If anyone is looking for a mechanic, we offer them. Most of us have a barber/hairdresser we trust. If someone is looking for one, we offer their name. In his day, Goliath and his brothers were the best at what they did. If you needed a mercenary, they were your first call. If you needed help in a battle, they were your first choice. It was what they did better than anyone else.

We see David:
· No weapons save a shepherds sling
· No breastplate or corselet, only his plain shepherds coat
· No spear, only his shepherds staff
· No sword or bow, only a shepherds sling
· No quiver, but his script
· No arrows, but instead, five smooth stones picked from a brook

By this it appeared that his confidence was purely in the power of God and not in any sufficiency of his own. Neither his size, nor his attire, nor his weaponry was in any way, shape or form, comparative to the size, attire, or weaponry of Goliath.

Do not fool yourself. There is no sufficiency in flesh to overcome Satan and/or his minions.

It is time we learn about the Big Stick Policy. Many of you will recall from history the words of then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, at the Minnesota State Fair, on September 2, 1901, just twelve days before the assassination of President McKinley which thrust him into his presidency. It was part of a West African proverb. “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” Roosevelt spoke of the US’s diplomatic efforts that were backed up by the considerable might of the US’s military. Diplomacy was our soft speech. Our military was our big stick. We, as Children of God, carry a mighty big stick. We are armed with a promise.

As stated earlier, David appeared to be hopelessly out-gunned and out-matched. It appeared that his plan was useless. What could David hope for? Was his hope that Goliath would laugh himself into a heart attack? Perhaps, his hope was that Goliath would trip and break his neck. Surely, David held out no hope for victory! After all, David was not a man of war. His complete lack of armor and his choice of weapons all but insured his defeat.

Ephesians 6.12-20

· The world cannot fathom the warfare of the church.

For we wrestle 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.”

. They cannot comprehend the armor of our warfare.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation,

· They cannot comprehend the weapons of our warfare.

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

· They do not know our soft speak.

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Men and woman of real power seldom need to raise their voices. They know the power and authority which they carry. They do not need to booster their image with screams. That is a bluff, a show of fear, or a sign of doubt. If you possess real power and real authority, and are convinced of its reality, you need only speak!

We have an invisible armor. It is not pack away in a closet, to be taken out when we are challenged. It is worn daily. The world (physical) cannot see this armor. We cannot see it with our natural eye. It is invisible, yet impenetrable. Isaiah 57.14 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; …” Why? Because, our armor is impenetrable.

Not only do we have an invisible invincible armor, we also have mighty weapons.

1 Corinthians 10.4-5
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Rest assured, we are engaged in a great conflict. Paul told the church at Colosse that he “would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you.” My uncle Malcolm Lawson used to say, “This is a battleground, not a playground.” We are engaged in a warfare that has raged for nearly 6000 years. However, we do not enter this battle without provisions. Like David, we appear, to the world, to be greatly over-matched. To them, it may appear that we do not stand a chance.

They do not understand what drives us
They do not understand what keeps us going
They do not understand why we still stand
They do not understand our hope for victory
To them, we do not stand a chance. We are but a shepherd’s dog to them. We are capable of watching a few easily led sheep, but we cannot possibly be victorious in a battle. We are not men of war, as those that oppose us. We are soft spoken … but … we carry a big stick.

We enter the battle for healing with a big stick.

We have a promise of healing. He said in His word that we were healed by his stripes. For our healing, Jesus received 39 stripes to His back. This is our promise. 2 Peter chapter 2 reiterates this promise. The Bible is rife with examples of Jesus healing. James tells the sick to call for the elders of the church. They will pray over them, anointing them with oil. The prayer of faith will save the sick. That healing is our promise. I come into the battle against sickness armed with the promise of God.

We enter the battle for salvation with a big stick.

His word says it is our promise. It is a promise to us, to our children, to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord, our God, shall call. He said, “Whosoever will...” I am armed with that promise. I come into the battle for salvation armed with a promise of God.

We enter the battle for deliverance with a big stick.

Psalms 34.19 tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” We need to talk about that “eth” as the suffix of deliver. In the Word, where you see this suffix, it denotes a continual action. In Exodus, where God spoke and said, “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” He was saying He was the Lord that heals us continually. Here, in Psalms, he is telling us that we will continually deliver us from our afflictions. We have this promise from God. I come into the battle for deliverance armed with a promise of God.

We enter the battle for the souls of our children with a big stick.

The Bible tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” The Hebrew wording used here implies a child as the time from birth until adolescence. This is our promise. I come into the battle for the souls of my children armed with a promise of God.

It does not matter the battle, we enter with our big stick. We have promises. For every need there is a promise.

Goliath disdained David for his stature. He belittled him. “Am I a dog that thou comest to me with staves?” A stave is an immature branch. It is a small stick with tender leaves. Goliath laughed at David. Perhaps he was looking for some better sport from this challenge he issued. Perhaps he was insulted that Israel thought he was nothing more than someone a boy could handle. Perhaps he was using this tactic to create a fear in his opponent. Regardless, David stood his ground.

Circumstances may seem to laugh at us, and at times, lord over us. Our problems sometimes seem bigger than we are. But, like David, we are not without defense in this battle, nor are we without offense. YES, we do have a great armor in our defense of the wiles and weaponry of the devil. However, we are also armed with a great array of weapons. We are armed with the promises of God. Daily, we go out as sheep in the midst of wolves, armed with these promises.

2 Kings 6.14-17 (NIV)
Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

Fear not, for greater are those that are with us than those that are against us. If God be for us, who can stand against us?

Elisha saw himself as safe. It was evident in his lack of worry or fear. His servant was fearful. He saw only with his natural eyes. In his vision of the situation, they were hopelessly surrounded and outnumbered. UNTIL, Elisha prayed for God to open his spiritual eyes. God enlarged his perception.

The opening of our eyes will be the silencing of our fears.

Fear dwells in darkness. The clearer the light we have of the authority and power of Heaven, the less we will fear the common calamities of this world. Elisha’s attitude showed that he saw the armies of God all along. The realization of the promise was hidden from the servant due to his fear or doubt.

We have a promise. When we are compassed about or facing an enormous problem, we have a promise. We are told to “fear not.” (To fear means to revere or sit in awe.) His Word tells us that we are not to be awed over our circumstances, problems, or situations. We are not to be daunted. We are not to be hindered. We are not to allow doubt or fear to cloud his words. We have a promise, rain or shine, clear or cloudy, uphill or down. His promises are true.

Satan has taunted you and disdained you. He has bullied or buffeted you. FEAR NOT.
Genesis 26 “Fear not,” He is with us.
1 Kings 17 “Fear not,” He will supply your needs.
2 Kings 6 “Fear not,” He is our protection.
Isaiah 41 “Fear not,” He will strengthen us.
Isaiah 43 “Fear not,” He is with us in our trial.
Matthew 10 “Fear not,” We are overshadowed by His care.
Revelation 1 “Fear not,” He is the first and the last. He will be with us beyond the grave.

In everything, fear not. We are armed with a promise.

Although the enemy comes against us like a flood, God will raise a standard against him. It is a promise.

When we walk through the rivers, they will not overflow us. It is a promise.

When we walk through fire, it will not kindle on us. It is a promise.

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil. It is a promise.

David came to Goliath that day, armed with a promise. He wore no unproven armor. He carried no unfamiliar weapon. He came with his experience as a shepherd boy and faith in a promise. Why did David choose five smooth stones? There have been suppositions back and forth. I am of the opinion (and you may discard this at your leisure) that it was to take care of Goliath and his four bothers. Further reading on the matter reveals that David and his armies did put the four brothers of Goliath to death.

Today, you will face a formidable enemy. He will try to set the terms. He will try to bully you. He will try to intimidate you. He will try to scare you.

Like Goliath, his fate is determined on your ability to stand on a promise.

Will you face tomorrow leaning on arms of flesh?

Will you face the devil with your logic and idealism?

Will you stand, armed with a promise?