THE BELIEVERS' DELIVERANCE AND VICTORY
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE
HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
2 JUNE 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Kings 18:21
Preparation Verse (1 Kings 18:21):
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.
Memorial Day has once again come and gone.
We have remembered our dead, and we have expressed our thoughts in prayers and other words: that we would have peace, not forget what Memorial Day stands for, and that we would be more patriotic.
And all of this is good, if we put it into proper perspective.
It's wonderful to wave our flag, if we remember our pledge to that flag and the order of importance that it takes.
First, our pledge is basically to the nation for which our flag stands.
Secondly, and more importantly, we must realize that even our great nation, the United States of America, is not the greatest nation; for it too, as we acknowledge in our pledge, is under God.
Thus the Kingdom of God is the greatest.
And to further enhance this truth, we pray in The Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)
Please turn with me to Psalm 20, and hear the prayer of David for victory over his enemies.
As we follow along with these words, remember that the nation of Israel was,
and probably still is, the nation of God's own choosing, and that David was
1. May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!
2. May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And support you from Zion!
3. May He remember all your meal offerings,
And find your burnt offering acceptable.
David, in this corporate prayer, is emphasizing Temple or Church prayer and
the sacrifice we present.
Today we thankfully don't sacrifice animals to pay the price for our sins. Jesus paid that price. Our sacrifice today is to truly turn away from our sins and do our utmost to serve the Lord our God.
But for the most part, we don't even do this much. Yet, this is the basis upon which David says that God will grant us deliverance and victory.
As David expresses it, it is only through our worship that God will respond
positively to His people and grant us the following petition:
4. May He grant you your heart's desire,
And fulfill all your counsel!
5. We will sing for joy over your victory,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.
It is not our holiness or our righteousness that brings about the victory; it is our obedience, for if we are obedient, we will also be more holy before God and others.
We also must acknowledge that it was not our own strength, or the power of our weapons, that won the battle.
This is also a mistake that we are making.
Hear how the psalmist expresses it:
6. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven,
With the saving strength of His right hand.
7. Some boast in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.
8. They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stood upright.
9. Save, O Lord;
May the King answer us in the day we call.
David is talking about both physical and spiritual battles; but since all things that are physical came from things spiritual, then we must come to the understanding that it is not the physical side of the problem over which we really need victory; but we must overcome the spiritual forces of wickedness that are behind the physical problems we have.
Let me say this again: it is not the physical side of the problem over which we really need victory; but we must overcome the spiritual forces of wickedness that are behind the physical problems we have.
This can only come about through the intervention of the Lord our God.
Can you remember the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3? In verse 12 of that conversation, Jesus expresses to Nicodemus the basic problem that our society has with relating to these things. Listen!
12. "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
We will never come to recognize the spiritual side of our battles, if we keep trusting in our force of numbers and our armament.
The apostle Paul wrote this same message to the Ephesians. Note verse 6:12.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Until we come to accept this simple and basic truth, and come before the Lord for His help, we will never have the peace that we say we want.
And once we have won a battle, such as the recent one in the Middle East, we must not boast over our victory, but the Lord's.
As for our part in the battle, we are to thank the Lord for protecting us,
and then we are to repent; for we have shed the blood of another person, and
that person was also created by God to be in His image.
Note what we are told about what took place following a similar battle in the Middle East, shortly before the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land, as recorded in Numbers 31:19-24.
19. "And you, camp outside the camp for seven days; whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves, you and your captives, on the third day and on the seventh day.
20. "And you shall purify for yourselves every garment and every article of leather and all the work of goats' hair, and all articles of wood."
God led them in battle and gave them a greater victory than we had against Iraq, for none of them were killed; but He still considered them unclean, for they had blood upon themselves.
And not only them, but everything that was involved in the war. Note the
21. Then Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who had gone to battle, "This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded Moses:
22. only the gold and the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin and the lead,
23. everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water.
24. "And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and afterward you may enter the camp."
The physical battle had been won, and perhaps a portion of the spiritual battle; but now the victors must clean up the spiritual contamination from themselves.
To be truly patriotic is to first be obedient to the Lord our God; then, and only then, can we lead others into a godly life, so that the Lord would protect and bless this great nation of ours.
But sadly, we rarely do it.
And I am convinced that if we don't do this, we, too, will suffer the same fate as so many other nations in the world.
If we believe that our nation is under God, then we should live like it and do our best, by example, to convince others to do the same.
Consider what Jesus Christ would do, and then do the same.
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