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Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20 __________________________________________________________________

The Battle belongs to the Lord

Sunday October 20, 2002

Our text is 1 Samuel 17:47:

"All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear

that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's ..."

This text is taken from the well-known story of David & Goliath, and it is well for us on this Sunday following Thanksgiving to be reminded of the fact that "the battle does indeed belong to the Lord. And if the battle belongs to the Lord, we can be sure that our victory comes from the Lord as well. In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul lists some of the things that are against us, but then asks in verse 31, "if God be for us, who can be against us ? And he goes on at verse 35 to ask, " who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness Or danger or sword ? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus."(Romans 8:31, 35, 37-39)

The true story of David & Goliath, is relevant for us today because Israel was surrounded by nations that hated them & intensely hated their God Yahweh. This hatred and blasphemy, in this case, comes out of the mouth of the over-sized bully called Goliath. The unlikely opponent is a shepherd boy named David, who just "happened" to arrive on the scene because he was sent on an errand by his father Jesse. Take note of that word "happen", because I hope to show that nothing just "happens" to those who trust in God. David's arrival upon the scene was resented by his older brothers. In their eyes, he was not very important. He cannot even ask a question about what's going on. Note the disdain in his brother Eliab's remarks: " Why have you come down here ? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the desert ? " Clearly, he did not think that he should even be there but what happened next in that fight between David & Goliath speaks volumes for us in our situation today. It's all summed up in these words of David:

"All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear

that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's ..."

It was ludicrous for David to don the armour that Saul suggested , because this battle belonged to the Lord. Yahweh, not David, nor Saul nor yet Israel would get the glory.

To apply that to our own situation today, we must remind ourselves that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood , but against the rulers .. the authorities ...and the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12) " The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary , they have divine power to demolish strongholds (and) every argument and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (in order to) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4 -5) What Paul is saying here and in other places is the same truth that David was fully convinced of & that is that the battle belongs to the Lord. Oh, we must be engaged in that battle but victory can come from only one source, namely our all-powerful God. This is the truth that he is proclaiming in 1 Corinthians 15 with the triumphant assertion that one day death will be swallowed up in victory; "Where, O death is your victory ' he asks. "Where, O death is your sting ?' Then comes the reply: "The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law . But thanks be to God ! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Goliath was a master at intimidation for he was a big man with a big mouth, but David was not intimidated. He could talk back to the giant without fear, for his trust was in the Lord his God. "This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I will strike you down and cut off your head (and) I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel".That was quite a bold statement by a young lad armed only with a sling !

And Satan as well, is a master of intimidation. It is unlikely that we will have to fight against physical giants, but giants abound in the spiritual realm. Timothy had to fight that battle but Paul encouraged him. He urged him to " fan into flame the gift within him: "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity , but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:6, 7) Also, like David before Goliath, Timothy was young, so Paul urged him not to allow people to look down on him because of his youth but to set an example an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love in faith and in purity". ( 1 Timothy 4:12)

There are many giants who threaten to intimidate us Christians. The enormity of the task before us, is but one example. And the challenges implicit in the charge Paul gives to Timothy are other areas in which we need help. For we are to be examples to others in speech, in life, in love , in faith and in purity. Let's look at those areas.

Speech, "Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful in building others up according to their needs" (Ephesians 4: 29)

Life "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4: 6) Look for a moment at that word "conversation" for originally it meant much more than our talk but our entire conduct, yes, our life. An old word that is not used today is "circumspectly" i.e. we should walk circumspectly looking all around us lest we hurt others by our actions or attitudes. .

Love Our love should be patterned on that which is described in 1 Corinthians 13; Read it again and ask how much it describes your love

Faith What is the measure of your faith and mine ? David dared to fight a big man but he did so with a big faith.

Purity Ah, that's where a lot of us fall down. Our love so easily becomes lust. It is centred upon ourselves and not on others or upon our God.

We must not let any of these giants daunt us. We can overcome as David overcame, if we remember that the battle belongs to the Lord. He is the One who fights for us and he shall gain the victory.

Martin Luther wrote what could be justly called the battle hymn of the Protestant Reformation. "Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing. You ask who that may be ? Christ Jesus, it is He ! Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age, the same; And He must win the battle."

There is a beautiful promise given to believers in Isaiah 54:17:

"No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me. " declares the Lord.

However this sermon bears fruit in your heart and mine, each of us must decide for himself or herself. I only know that God has worked in my heart in the formation of this message and the fact that it was preached today. I close with a wake-up call issued by Paul to the Romans" chapter 13,11 &12:

" And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for (us) to wake up from (our) slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light

In heavenly armour, we'll enter the land;

The battle belongs to the Lord,

No weapon that's fashioned

Against us shall stand.

The battle belongs to the Lord.

And we sing glory honor, power & strength to the Lord !

And we sing glory honor, power & strength to the Lord !

I called Goliath and oversized bully, and that is certainly an apt description, but his master Satan is as well. Paul warns the Corinthians of Satan's devious schemes in the hope that he will not outwit them, but today he continues to outwit, confuse and perplex even Christians. There is still a lot of bullying going on in the world and it is by no means confined to our schools & playgrounds. We tend to abuse our power over others to browbeat & diminish the people around us.

Frank Peretti was someone who was the object of cruel & unrelenting bullying, no doubt because he was small & weak & not very attractive. One reaction was to despise the bullies and his own sense of self-worth suffered in the process. But God came to his rescue and filled his heart with love and creativity. Those bullies who thought that this little kid would not amount to much, are all but forgotten whereas Peretti is a well-known Christian author whose works have blessed multitudes.

God can do great & wonderful things through you and me. We have only to remember that we must trust him fully, for the battle belongs to the Lord.

Let us pray together.

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