Due to the large amount of sermons and topics that appear on this site I feel it is necessary to post this disclaimer on all sermons posted. These sermons are original to the author and the leading of the Holy Spirit. While ideas and illustrations are often gleaned from many sources including those at Sermoncentral.com, any similarities and wording including sermon title, that may appear to be the same as any other sermon are purely coincidental. In instances where other minister’s wording is used, due recognition will be given. These sermons are not copyrighted and may be used or preached freely. May God richly bless you as you read these words. It is my sincere desire that all who read them may be enriched. All scriptures quoted in these sermons are copies and quoted from the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Pastor James May
ARE YOU HIDING IN COMFORT OR FIGHTING THE BATTLE?
We live in a time when there is a marked difference between churches and the methods that are used in worship and service to the Lord. The spiritual condition of the leaders of each church, i.e., Pastors, Worship Leaders, Teachers, etc., determines the spiritual condition of those who follow them.
If you find a church where the leadership is indifferent toward winning lost souls, you will find a church that is introverted and concerned only with its own programs and mostly entertaining those who attend in an effort to keep them.
If you find a church where the leadership is focused on evangelism and reaching out to the hurting and lost souls of their communities, you will find a church that may not have many social amenities. This church is not as concerned about keeping those who are on the rolls as it is about adding new converts to the Kingdom of God and, in the process, just as it is said in Acts 2:47 they go about, "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
I want us to look into the Word of God this morning and examine one incident in the Bible where we can get a clear picture of what is happening in the church world today. If you examine these verse closely you will also see that there is a very personal application for each of us too, for it is the heart of each individual Believer that ultimately determines the spiritual nature and condition of the Body of Christ. Each of us has a great impact upon the kind of church we have and how much the Holy Spirit can move and use us for His purpose.
1 Samuel 14:1-3, "Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
Jonathan was the son of the first King of Israel, Saul. We all know that Saul if often shown as an example of just how bad a king can become when they turn their back on the Lord. I want you to know that Jonathan did not follow in his father’s footsteps because he still had a heart after God. Jonathan is remembered as a hero of the Bible and is known for his great friendship, love and loyalty to King David, even above that of his own father.
As this passage begins, Israel is once again in the midst of a war with the Philistines. (It is interesting to note that Israel, and indeed the whole world to some degree, are still fighting those people who live in the Arab lands that were once part of the Philistines)
Jonathan was not one to sit back for very long. He desired to be on the move and doing something rather than sitting around and waiting for something to happen.
Jonathan reminds me of a cartoon I once saw where there were two skinny old vultures sitting on a dead limb in the middle of a hot, burning desert. They sit there for a long time just waiting and waiting for something to come along and die so they could have something to eat. Finally one of them looks over at the other and says, “Phooey on waiting for something to die, let’s go kill something.”
It also reminds me of an old Chinese Proverb that I heard once, “Man will stand on top of mountain with mouth open for a long time waiting for duck to fly in. Must go out and find duck before opening mouth.”
Jonathan was tired of waiting around for something to happen so he decided to strike out on his own and go against the Philistines.
Sometimes we just have to make up our mind to go and do something, even when we don’t really know what to do or whether it is really in God’s perfect will or not. I don’t know if Jonathan spent time in prayer before moving or not but I am led to believe that he just got tired of sitting around the camp and, on the spur of a moment, decided he would go it alone.
He called his armor bearer, the man who was assigned to stay at his side always and to support and care for him in all that he did.
I don’t want to chase rabbits here but just let me say, Thank God for those in the church who gladly take on the duty, responsibility and servants heart of an armor bearer. These are the people who are always ready to help, always ready to pray, always ready to do whatever they can to help the Pastor or the ministries of the church to flourish, and I know that God has a great reward in store for those who are the “armor bearers” in our local churches. I know that the Holy Spirit is the greatest armor bearer that any of us could have and we can make it only with the Spirit’s help, but it sure is comforting to know that other people are in the fight with you too.
So Jonathan and his armor bearer struck out on their own to go to the enemy’s camp and see what God would do for them.
Jonathan is a type of those, either churches or Believers as individuals, who get tired of waiting for their leadership to make a move to reach the world for Jesus. It’s not all that unusual for a certain ministry within a church, or even one Believer within a congregation, to be the spark of a great revival because they get up and get going.
How many times have we seen churches grow because one man or woman becomes a great witness for souls? How many people have come to know the Lord because one young person began telling their friends about Jesus?
Sometimes the church becomes so bogged down with planning and working for the congregation that they lose the vision to reach out. That’s when God raises up a Believer with the same spirit as Jonathan to spur the church into obeying the “Great Commission” to win souls to Christ!
1 Samuel 14:2-3, "And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone."
Saul is still waiting around to see what will happen. He is the leader, the King, and yet he has not the “mind of God” in the battle with the enemy of Israel. He is sitting back, in a safe place, while the battle is waiting, and it is a battle that must be fought because the enemy isn’t going to leave and go home. He is lying around in comfort under the shade of a pomegranate tree where the fruit can be had without much effort.
The scripture says that this tree was in Migron, which means “a precipice or a landslide”. He had his army around him for protection and security depending upon the “arm of the flesh” for his power and glory. He had surrounded himself with men of “great honor” in the eyes of the people. (I say this with disdain)
There was Ahiah (brother of the lord) but who was a brother not of the Lord, but was a son of a long line of rebellious and reprobate priests. His father was Ahitub (brother of goodness – good) but he was neither good nor a man after God for he had followed after the example of his father, Phineas (mouth of brass) who was guilty of great crimes that were committed in the very House of God as he brought concubines into the tabernacle and desecrated the Lord’s House. God wanted to really make a point of the kind of people that were here so he even included the name of Ichabod (the glory has departed) in this family tree to show just how far from God they had fallen.
Can’t you see the picture very clearly of where the apostate church of today is the sight of God?
There are many “priests” who are only “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. They may wear the robes of the priesthood, speak from the pulpit, or go about acting like priests but they are not priests after God at all. They may act like they are good spiritual people and put on a good show like Christians but they are not real. They may be able to “sound like brass” in their great oratory skills. They may be great speakers and wonderful teachers but there is no power in their words. Their sermons can only tickle the ear but not change the heart. Truly such like are living as Ichabod for the glory of God is nowhere near them and there is no deliverance in their speech.
Saul is a picture of the Believer or the church body, who are comfortable in the way they are and who have lost the zeal to win the lost! There are a lot of people and a large percentage of our churches around the world, and especially here in America, that are in this condition right now. You don’t hear about much evangelism from them anymore unless it is in some “March for Jesus” or some kind of “Flag waving and in your face” kind of demonstrations against something that they don’t like. I see a lot of churches involved in “showing off” their spiritual convictions but I don’t see many with a heart for reaching lost souls.
Christian TV is the worst example that I know of that shows this kind of spirit. You will see people talk about healing of relationships within the body of Christ. You will here them sing songs to entertain one another with the words that encourage one another. You will see them discuss building huge sanctuaries, entertainments centers and things that will make the flesh feel good, but when was the last time you heard a true message of repentance and salvation; a message that stirs the soul and gets a grip on your heart to bring you under conviction for sin and then fills you with a desire to see souls saved?
It’s not just Christian TV though, because there are multitudes of churches that are caught up in this same spirit. Many of our churches, even those who call themselves full gospel or Pentecostal, wouldn’t recognize the move of the Holy Spirit even it were to come to them because they are so focused on having a good time. Oh how much do we grieve the Holy Spirit with our forms of religion that have no power? How many souls will die and go to hell because our churches, and Believer’s, are more concerned about feeling good than reaching the lost?
I know of one Presbyterian Church not very far from here who ceased having Bible studies and worship services on Wednesday evening because no one was coming. Instead, they started having a mid-week “service” where everyone comes together for a big dinner, a play and even open the floor for dancing to “spiritual music”. They come together and have a good time in the flesh, but there isn’t one bit of gospel preached and I don’t think that anyone cares if new souls come into the church or not, just so we can have our good times and go home with our fleshly desires fulfilled. I’ve heard one of them say to me, “Oh we had a great dinner party last night. We sang and danced and ate until nearly midnight.” Where is the gospel in that? Can you just see the tears of Jesus and the grief that this brings upon the Holy Spirit? He is forgotten in His own house by those who are supposed to be His own people?
1 Samuel 14:4-5, "And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah."
The message that I want you to see is contained within the meanings of the names in these scriptures.
Jonathan sought to go over to the spy out the camp of the Philistines. He would sit no longer. The time for action had come. As he journeyed he had to pass by some sharp rocks that stood beside his pathway. The name of one rock was Bozez (mud or bog) which pointed toward Michmash (something hidden) and the other was Seneh (bramble, enemy) which was pointed toward Gibeah (the birthplace of Saul, meaning hill or hill town).
Can you see the word for the church and for yourself? Whenever you step out by faith to go against the grain of the entire church world you will face some sharp rocks of criticism. The church world won’t applaud you because your actions make them look even worse. Fellow Believers won’t praise you because your actions only point out their lack of faith and obedience to the call of God in their own lives.
If you allow those rocks to bog you down, get you stuck in the mud of their rut, or convince you that your church is already king of the hill, then you will become as complacent and self-focused as they are. Watch out for those sharp rocks and stay on the path that leads to the real battle for the souls of men!
Satan so easily fools the church that doesn’t have the mind of God. It’s not hard for him to bog them down with so many programs and ministries that they really don’t perform any ministry at all the way the God wants ministry to be. His secret, hidden weapon for churches is that if he can get us too busy with ministry to the Body of Christ then he can not only prevent us from reaching lost souls, he can even win back a large percentage of those who listen to him because they will eventually backslide and become part of his kingdom once again. He has a win-win situation going on in most of America’s churches and his plan is working so beautifully that unless Jesus comes back quickly, I wonder if there will be many churches left who really have the power of God manifested in true fashion in the lives of the congregation!
Saul is sitting around waiting for the battle to come to him while he enjoys the good life and surrounds himself with counselors who agree with him, but Jonathan is stepping out in faith to go into the battlefield, trusting God to protect him.
1 Samuel 14:6-13, "And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him."
Don’t you love the faith and courage of Jonathan and his armor bearer? They forsake the safety of Saul’s camp to go and attack the enemy on his own territory!
Jonathan had such faith that he knew that the Lord could deliver Israel by using only a few men just as easily as He could by using the whole army of Israel. Jonathan knew that the battle was the Lord’s battle, not his and he trusted in God for the victory.
Thank God for the Jonathans in the church. Thank God for those who will step out by faith, go against all that is traditional and all that is considered as safe and normal, who will leave the complacency and comfort of the church and go out to do the will of God in reaching the lost at any cost.
They know that most of the church world won’t ever see the real spiritual warfare! They know that most Believer’s are living on the fence and enjoying the things of this life far too much and will never leave their easy chair and go to work for the Lord. They know that God has called us to work in the fields for him, not sit in comfort and just wait until the rapture comes. Most of those who call themselves Believers aren’t really Believer’s anyway. They are only Believer’s in form but not reality and most will not go in the rapture. They are unwilling to leave the camp, go down the straight and narrow path between the sharp rocks, and attack the enemy in his own camp. They don’t even know there is a battle going on, much less have a desire to be a part of the fight.
1 Samuel 14:14-16, "And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling. And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another."
Jonathan and his armor bearer, with God on their side, was all it took to put the Philistines to flight. They slaughtered the enemy, killing 20 men in a half acre of ground. In the camp of the Philistines there was panic. If only two men could kill 20 what would the army of Israel be able to do? Great fear fell on them and they began to shake and tremble. God even brought an earthquake to make them more afraid and they began to run like scared rabbits from Jonathan and his armor bearer.
There is no limit to God’s power! He can change the world with only one man or woman who will surrender to His will. There is no limit to the souls that only once person could win to the Lord if we will just step out by faith.
Satan is a defeated enemy already. He is trembling in fear at the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a true born-again, Child of God, a church, if you will, that is full of the power of God, resting and trusting in God’s power and willing to give God the glory for the victory. For that church that will listen and obey God and step out by faith, there is no limit to the victory that God will bring.
1 Samuel 14:17-23, "Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there. And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel. And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand. And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle. So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven."
The battle was nearly over before Saul even knew what was happening. When he saw that things were going good for Israel and that the Philistines were retreating, that’s when he called for the Ark of the Covenant to come and lead them into battle. Even though he desired to put forth a good appearance and seek the counsel of the priests and follow the Ark into battle, the battle was too hot and the noise of the battle was too loud so he had to move quickly to get into the fight.
The Philistines were fighting and killing one another. There were some Hebrews that had joined forces with the Philistines that now knew that Israel would win so they came back to the side of Israel again and fought against the Philistines with them.
As we come to the close of this message I want you to see that most of the church and most Believers will not enter into the battle until they have little choice to do so.
Saul didn’t enter the fight until it was nearly over but he wanted some of the credit for the victory so he had to at least make a show of being in the battle even though there wasn’t much for him to do.
I want you to note that there were Hebrews, people of Israel, who had already joined forces with the Philistines because they couldn’t stand against the enemy in their own strength and had no choice but to join them or die.
There are a lot of people who have backslidden or grown cold in their relationship with the Lord because they tried to fight Satan in their power and could not do so.
When those who are true Believer’s stand and fight, and God begins to bring the victory over sin, we will see some of those who fell into sin begin to come back to God and join the fight. God’s power helps their faith to return and they will come back to Him.
This battle was over and God had delivered Israel again. The army of Israel with God’s help, had driven the Philistines all the way to Bethaven (house of nothingness or house of idols).
When God fights our battles and we are on the Lord’s side we have nothing to fear.
Step out by faith knowing that He is with you.
God will drive the enemy into a place where he is nothing before you. He will drive the enemy back into his place of idols. God will destroy and bring to nothing those that stand against you.
If we are in God’s will, stepping out into the battlefield to win souls for His Kingdom, then we can be absolutely assured that God will fight the battle for us.
The true church, the true Body of Christ, the true Believer’s will rise in victory. Let those who want to remain behind do as they will but we must move on. We can’t afford to sit here any longer waiting for the enemy to come to us. Let’s go out and attack him where he stands. Let’s go out and witness, telling everyone we meet about Jesus.
Satan’s army cannot stand against the power of God and we are destined to win, but only if we leave complacency and comfort behind and step out by faith.
As a church may we never be found so inwardly focused that we cannot reach out to a lost word and fight the spiritual warfare before us.
As individuals I pray that God renews within each of us a desire to see souls won to the Kingdom of God. I pray that faith will arise in our hearts and we will not be satisfied with what we are and where we are now. I pray that we will all join the fight and watch God bring the victory.