MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS
INTRO.- ILL.- The Army staff was planning war games but did not want to use live ammunition. Instead, they informed the men: "In place of a rifle, you go, ’bang, bang.’ In place of a knife, you go, ’stab, stab.’ In place of a hang grenade, you go, ’lob, lob.’"
The game was in progress when one of the soldiers saw one of the enemy. He went, "bang, bang," the nothing happened. He ran forward and went, "stab, stab," but nothing happened. He ran back and went, "lob, lob," but still, nothing happened.
Finally, he walked up to the enemy and said, "You are not playing fair. I went ’bang, bang,’ and ’stab, stab,’ and ’lob, lob,’ and you haven’t fallen dead yet!"
The enemy responded, "RUMBLE, RUMBLE. I’M A TANK."
Brethren, obviously, a rifle, a knife, and hand grenade are no match for a tank. And we are no match for our enemy without the Lord’s help and strength.
We know that terrorists attacked our beloved country on September 11th in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Many people are sure that the infamous Osama Bin Laden is behind it. And that may be. If so, I hope, as many people do, that he gets his “just desserts.”
There is definitely a war going on. And it’s been going on for a long time and it didn’t start on September 11th, 2001.
It’s the war of godlessness against godliness. The war of hellishness against holiness. The war of Satan against the Savior.
The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle (or war) is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Our greatest battle in life is with the spiritual forces of evil. It is with Satan and his messengers, demons, etc. Satan is a liar and a murderer. He is the great deceiver. He is out to deceive and destroy anyone and everyone.
Where wars have killed their billions, Satan has killed his trillions! He may not have killed them physically, but he has certainly killed them spiritually. AND THAT’S THE DEATH THAT REALLY COUNTS, BECAUSE IT’S ETERNAL, EVERLASTING, FOREVER!
We need to do something about the enemy. Don’t you agree? Just as the American people agree that we must do something about Osama Bin Laden or whoever is behind the terrorism of Sept. 11th, so we need to do something about that terrorist, the devil! BUT WHAT CAN WE DO?
ILL.- The captain of United Airlines Flight 564 pressed the talk-button and spoke to the more than 200 people who had boarded his plane on Sept. 15, 2001.
Only four days after United and American Airlines craft had been commandeered and their jet fuel used as a flying bomb against innocent civilians, he felt the need to say something to the people who had dared to trust our commercial aviation system for their transport again.
According to Peter Hannaford, a public relations consultant on the plane who wrote about the event in The Washington Times, the pilot began this way: "I want to thank you brave folks for coming out today. We don’t have any new instructions from the federal government, so from now on we’re on our own."
People perked up. Newspapers were dropped into laps. Heads came up. Everyone was listening in total silence and with wholehearted attention.
He proceeded to tell his passengers what to do if anyone should stand up on this or any other aircraft they should ever be flying. "If anybody tries to take over the plane, stand up, take hold of anything you can find, and throw it at their heads," he said. "Aim for their faces, so they will have to defend themselves."
Next, he told his captive audience, throw a blanket over the heads of the person or persons threatening their plane, wrestle them to the ground, and let the plane’s pilot land and turn those culprits over to authorities.
"Remember, there will be only a few of them, and we are 200-plus strong! You can overwhelm them. We will not allow them to take over this plane
"I find it interesting that the Declaration of Independence says ‘We, the people,’ and that’s just what it is when we’re up in the air — we, the people versus would-be terrorists. ‘The people’ of this country will not be defeated by terrorism.
"I don’t think we are going to have any such problem today or tomorrow or for a while. But sometime down the road, it is going to happen again. And I want you to know what to do.
"Now, since we’re going to be a family for the next few hours, I’m going to ask you to turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself. Tell them a little about yourself, and ask them to do the same."
Kathy Rockel, a medical transcriptionist traveling from Denver to Washington Dulles on the flight said, "Everybody was applauding. “People had tears coming down their faces. It was as if we had a choice here — that if something were to happen, we’re not completely powerless."
Three cheers for that captain!
Brothers and sisters, we are not powerless! We are not powerless against that terrorist the devil! However, we must realize that our power to overcome the enemy is not ourselves. It is not within ourselves. OUR POWER TO OVERCOME THE ENEMY IS THE LORD HIMSELF!
PROP.- Let’s think about some practical war strategy that deals with preparation and the actual war with the enemy. Man your battle stations! What can we do to win the war?
1- Listen to our commander-in-chief
2- Enlist soldiers into service
3- Fight hard to the end
I. LISTEN TO OUR COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
ILL.- A blowhard Air Force major was promoted to colonel and got a new office. The first morning he was in his new office an airman knocked on the door and asked to speak to him. The colonel, feeling the urge to impress the young airman, picked up his phone and began talking.
“Yes, General, thank you. Yes, I will pass that information along to the President this afternoon. Yes, goodbye, sir.” Then, turning to the airman, he barked, “AND WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
“Nothing important, sir,” said the airman, “I JUST CAME TO HOOK UP YOUR TELEPHONE.”
Some people have authority and some just pretend to have authority. Some people have authority and some just “wanna be” in authority.
President George W. Bush has authority. And his authority came through the night he spoke to the American people on TV about the terrorism of Sept. 11th.
ILL.- President said in his speech, “The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.” He said, “The civilized world is rallying to America’s side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror, unanswered, can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments. And you know what -- we’re not going to allow it.”
President Bush said many other things that demonstrated his presidential power. He won high marks for that speech, but he’ll win even higher marks if he continues to take wise action against the terrorists.
Let’s continue to listen to our Commander-in-chief and give him our support. He knows some things we don’t know. He has some inside information we don’t have. He has some good advisors who are not available to us. LET’S LISTEN TO HIM AND GIVE HIM OUR SUPPORT!
Pray for him! Encourage him. Write him a letter of support. The White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500.
Just as we need to listen to the leader of our country we need to listen to those who try to lead us spiritually.
ILL.- Preacher Dwight L. Moody is dead. He won thousands to Christ during his ministry. Preacher Billy Graham is on the downhill slide. He’s done a world of good with the Lord’s help and blessing, however.
Most of us have listened to Billy Graham at some time or other, and we have learned from him. We have listened to him as God’s man of authority.
I admit that I am not a Dwight L. Moody nor a Billy Graham. Far from it, but I’ve done some good in my life and ministry. I’ve accomplished some things and helped some people in life. I’ve worked hard at the preaching ministry and I DO KNOW SOME THINGS ABOUT CHRIST, THE BIBLE, AND CHRISTIANITY! I wasn’t born yesterday. I have been preaching for 36 years. Are you listening to me? Are you truly listening to me?
ILL.- Our Gary Edwards is a truck-driving man. I went with Gary one time to Terre Haute, Indiana, to deliver some paper goods to a Staples warhouse. What I didn’t know is this: I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS GOING TO HELP HIM BREAK DOWN SOME PALLETS OF MERCHANDISE AND RESTACK THEM. But I did. I didn’t argue with him. I pitched in. I did my part. I didn’t have to, but I figured he was the boss on that rig and that ride.
Now I noticed some things on the way home, that is, about Gary’s driving. I said, “You really ought to do it this way. And when you shift those gears you should hit that clutch a little easier, etc.” “And don’t you know you shouldn’t..”
And of course, the reason I told Gary a few things is because I’m older than he is and I’ve been driving a lot longer than he has.
And Gary said to me, “You are telling me what?” No, he didn’t say that to me, but if I had questioned him about his driving in a critical sense and tried to tell him how to drive his rig, he might have said those words and he would have had the right to say them.
ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? Do you hear what I’m saying? I don’t know everything, but I know something. And I need your support in my ministry. Will you please continue to give me support? I need it just as much as the President of the United States needs it.
Brothers and sisters, our ultimate commander-in-chief is the Lord! HE IS THE ONE WE NEED TO LISTEN TO MOST OF ALL!
Eph. 1:22 “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.”
Christ is the head of the body, the church. WE NEED TO LISTEN TO HIM! We need to listen to His Word!
II Tim. 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
If something doesn’t stack with Scripture then it doesn’t stack up with the Savior! And if it doesn’t stack up with the Savior then it doesn’t stack up at all!
We need to listen to our commander-in-chief! Some times we do some strange things in our lives and in our churches that are not outlined nor encouraged in Scripture.
If we want to experience a certain amount of success in life and be victorious over the enemy we need to listen to our Commander-in-chief!
What else can we do to win the war against the enemy?
II. ENLIST SOLDIERS INTO SERVICE
ILL.- A draftee went in for his physical wearing a girdle of sorts because of a hernia. His papers were stamped “M.E.” for “Medically Exempt.”
Afterward a friend borrowed the girdle to wear for his physical. At the end of the examination the doctor stamped M. E. on his papers. He asked the doctor, “Does that mean I’m Medically Exempt?”
The doctor replied, “No. ‘M. E.’ stands Middle East. Anyone who can wear a girdle upside down can ride a camel.”
We need to enlist more soldiers for service! We must enlist more people for Christ and get them involved in service.
Matt. 28:18-19 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...” Or enlist soldiers for service.
Our commander-in-chief has spoken! He has commanded us to make disciples. One of our first responsibilities as a Christian is to multiply! Most of us know how to do that because we’ve got children!
ILL.- How do you make children? Oh my! What a subject! In the first place, you get acquainted with your mate. You get to know him or her extremely well. You listen to one another. You learn from one another. You offer to help one another. You serve one another. And then eventually, you get extremely close and you reproduce.
That’s also how we make disciples out of people. We get acquainted with them. We listen to them. We help them. We serve them. And then we witness to them about Christ and they come to believe in Him and surrender their lives to Him. AND BINGO! WE HAVE REPRODUCED!
Most of the time, however, reproduction doesn’t happen without communication and affection. We don’t make converts to Christ unless we talk to people and form some kind of friendship with them.
As someone said, “They don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”
People are drawn to Christ and become converted to Him because we show that we care, that we want to help them, that we love them.
One of our first responsibilities as soldiers of the cross is to love people. Love people out of their sin and into Christ.
I Pet. 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Love covers over sin by helping a person find forgiveness in Christ! Helping people find forgiveness in Christ is the greatest act of love there is! And it’s what our commander-in-chief has told us to do!
Don’t tell me that you love people if you are not trying to lead them to Christ! BETTER YET, DON’T TELL THE LORD THAT YOU LOVE PEOPLE IF YOU ARE NOT TRYING TO LEAD THEM TO CHRIST! Leading people to Christ is the greatest act of love there is!
After people come to Christ we need to somehow love them into service.
All Christians need to serve in some form or another. The Lord’s army needs more foot solders, not more generals. More Indians, not more chiefs. More servers, not more talkers. More workers, not more bosses.
Brothers and sisters, please get involved in service! If you can’t do one thing then do something else!
If you can’t sing, then don’t. If you can’t teach, then don’t. If you can’t preach, then don’t. If you can’t play the piano, then don’t.
But find what you can do and do it the best you can and to the Lord’s glory, not your own.
Let’s get involved in service and get other people enlisted into service! That’s how to win the war against the enemy!
What else must we do?
III. FIGHT HARD TO THE END
ILL.- The young recruit turned his nose up at the Army stew and complained to the mess sergeant, “I don’t like this stew. Don’t I have any choice here?”
The sergeant replied, “CERTAINLY, SOLDIER. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.”
Brothers and sisters, we are called to fight in a war, not sit around and gripe about what we don’t like in life or in the church.
ILL.- Max Lucado tells a story about fishing trip he took while in high school during spring break. He said, “One year my brother and my mom couldn’t go, so my dad let me invite a friend. I asked Mark. He was a good pal and a great sport.
“We arrived late at night, unfolded the camper, and went to bed - dreaming of tomorrow’s day in the sun. But during the night, an unseasonably strong north wind blew in. It got cold fast! The wind was so strong that we could barely open the camper door the next morning. There was no way we could fish in that weather. “No problem,” we said, “We’ll spend the day in the camper. After all, we have Monopoly. We have Reader’s Digest. We all know a few jokes.
“So huddled in the camper with a Coleman stove and Monopoly board, we three fishermen passed the day - indoors. The hours passed slowly, but they did pass. Night finally came, and we crawled into the sleeping bags dreaming of angling.
“Were we in for a surprise. The next morning it wasn’t the wind that made the door hard to open, it was the ice! We tried to be cheerful. We could play Monopoly again. We could read again. And surely, we could tell another joke or two.”
Max said, “I began to notice a few things I hadn’t seen before. I noticed that my friend Mark had a few personality flaws. He was a bit too cocky about his opinions. He was easily irritated and constantly edgy. He couldn’t take constructive criticism. Even though his socks did stink, he didn’t think it was my business to tell him.
Days went by and the weather stayed the same. Cold and no fishing.
Max said, “I learned a lesson that week. Not about fishing, but about people. WHEN THOSE WHO ARE CALLED TO FISH DON’T FISH, THEY FIGHT.”
And let me add to his words: Those who don’t fight the good fight of the faith end up fighting with one another!
We are not to fight with one another. We are to fight against the enemy! Let’s not pick at one another. Let’s pick on the enemy!
Eph. 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
A part of our fight is exposing evil. How do we do that? We stand up for what is right and holy. We take a stand. We speak up. But we always do it as graciously as possible.
ILL.- After that Rodney King beating and the LA riots of 1992 a black lady was interviewed on national TV. They asked her what she thought about the rioting and she said, “What’s the matter with all these crazy people? Don’t they believe in Jesus?”
I thought, “Right on, Lady! Praise the Lord!” She was saying that if people truly believed in Jesus as the Son of God they wouldn’t be rioting. SHE STOOD FOR THE LORD AND AGAINST EVIL. She exposed evil. And that’s a part of what we are supposed to do as soldiers of the cross.
I Pet. 3:15 “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Jude 3 “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend (fight) for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
Jude felt that the urgency of the hour called for him to challenge people to contend or fight for the faith of Christ. AND WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR WORLD TODAY CALLS FOR US TO CONTEND OR FIGHT FOR THE FAITH TO THE VERY END!
Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before!
ILL.- Elaine did it again. Boy, was she ever wild in bed last Wednesday night! You should have been there! What I mean is this: Elaine had another nightmare. She was lying in bed, shaking her shoulders, and kicking the devil out of something or someone. Fortunately, for me she was turned away from me.
I watched her for a little while to decide if she was having a nightmare or just having a fit. Then I shook her, woke her and said, "Honey, I am not your enemy. I am not your foe.”
Brothers and sisters, contrary to what some of you might think, your mate is not your enemy! And I am not your enemy! And as evil as Osama Bin Laden is, he is not your ultimate enemy, but the devil is!
I Pet. 5:8-9 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
The devil is our main enemy. He is the one who is after us and the one with whom we must be at war! And we are at war with him whether we realize it or not! But we’re not in this war alone. We’re in this thing together. Let’s band together to fight with heart and strength against the evil one.
ILL.- Ronald Reagan once said, “While America’s military strength is important, the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith. The source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material but spiritual.”
The answer to all wars and terrorism, both physical and spiritual, is not physical or military strength, but spiritual strength. And true spiritual strength is found only in a relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Christ, the Savior of the world.
I Cor. 15:57 “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you have not decided to follow Jesus then do so today. He is our only hope.