AGCC Sun. a.m. 5/24/98



TEXT: I Sam. 17:41-47

INTRO: There is much teaching about faith, but little understanding how it all works! Too many Christians think of faith as a way to get something they want... i.e. faith for a house, faith for healing, faith for finances, etc. Faith however is much bigger than just personal wants, faith is declaring God's power over everything and standing in confidence that what His Word says is true!

Most people want faith until they are in situations where they need to exercise it! Faith does not operate in a vacuum, it operates when the odds are against us. Great faith comes from ordinary people that are not afraid to declare their confidence or faith in God no matter what the obstacles are they face.

Faith is declaring one's absolute stand for God no matter how big the enemy is or how overwhelming the odds are. It is a declaration that is backed by action on our part and not just a call on God to do something.

Those who get things done in the world are those that never stop declaring their faith even when facing opposition from everyone else!

ILLUS: Several years ago I met a gentleman who served on one of Walt Disney's original advisory boards. What amazing stories he told. Those early days were tough; but that remarkable, creative visionary refused to give up. I especially appreciated the man sharing with me how Disney responded to disagreement. He said that Walt would occasionally present some unbelievable, extensive dream he was entertaining. Almost without exception, the members of his board would gulp, blink, and stare back at him in disbelief, resisting even the thought of such a thing. But unless every member resisted the idea, Disney usually didn't pursue it. Yes, you read that correctly. The challenge wasn't big enough to merit his time and creative energy unless they were unanimously in disagreement! (I suppose when you're a Disney, you're free to press on when the board says "shut'er down!") Is it any wonder that Disneyland and Disney World are now realities?

This type of faith is long overdue in many of our churches today. Let's trust God again for the impossible. -- Charles Swindoll

PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to declare our faith no matter what we face, God cannot lose and if our faith remains in Him and we declare it, we cannot lose either!

I. UNBELIEVABLE! I Sam. 17:41-44

A. Ridiculous! 17:41-42

1. Goliath could hardly believe his eyes, he was a giant warrior decked out with all the latest armor and weapons, a man well trained for battle. Who opposes him? A Shepherd boy with a stick!

a. The Philistines were vastly superior in metallurgy, so their armor and weapons were the best technology of the times.

b. The scene looked ridiculous!

2. From a worldly viewpoint the scene was ridiculous and the possibility for success remote on David's part.

a. How many times does the world view God's people and God's kingdom in this same way!

b. Many times the Church is understaffed, lacks basic equipment, has little financial or political power ... and yet stands ready to defeat the enemy!

3. Tragically, this not only looked ridiculous from the Philistine's point of view, but many of God's people including King Saul had stated how ridiculous this looked too! Saul replied, "you are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." 17:33

a. It is one thing for the world to laugh at our faith,

b. It is quite another thing when WE laugh at the power of faith!

c. We need to be careful not to dismiss the simple faith of a fellow believer, God often accomplishes His purposes with such simple faith!

ILLUS: This partnership with God ought to give us the same sense of confidence as the youngster had who was selling five-cent pencils door-to-door to raise money for a 30-million- dollar hospital for the community. One day a woman opened the door, and he said, "Ma'am, would you buy one or two pencils from me? I'm going to help build a 30-million-dollar hospital for our community."

She said, "Sonny, that's a mighty big goal for just one kid selling pencils for a nickel."

He said, "Oh, Ma'am, it's not me alone. See that boy across the street? He's my partner. He's helping. We're really doing it together."

This little boy had great faith in a partner who was probably his equal. Should we not have this kind of confidence in a God who is unequaled, a God who is in partnership with us to make our lives fruitful? -- John Maxwell, Be All You Can Be (Victor, 1987), p. 18.

4. Faith sometimes means we look ridiculous to this world!

5. Because this looked so ridiculous to Goliath, he let his guard down, he became over confident in worldly things and himself.

B. Ridicule 17:43-44

1. Goliath begins to taunt David's faith and confidence!

a. He does so by ridiculing him!

b. What the world doesn't understand about faith it will ridicule!

2. We see this in our world today concerning faith ...

a. Just look at how Christians are portrayed in the media, ridicule is normal against believers.

b. Because we live in a society that trusts only in what it can see it is not surprising that this world mocks those things that are spiritual and not always seen except by faith.

3. Faith however does not follow this world's reasoning, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Heb. 11:1

ILLUS: A twelve-year-old boy became a Christian during a revival. The next week at school his friends questioned him about the experience. "Did you see a vision?" asked one friend. "Did you hear God speak?" asked another. The youngster answered no to all these questions. "Well, how did you know you were saved?" they asked. The boy searched for an answer and finally he said, "It's like when you catch a fish, you can't see the fish or hear the fish; you just feel him tugging on your line. I just felt God tugging on my heart." --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 188.

4. Too often we back down to this world when they ridicule us, until of course they have nothing left to hope in or believe in, then they turn to us!

a. At first Goliath tries to make fun of David 17:43

b. But then he also tries to frighten him 17:44

5. This world will often try to attack people of faith by first just making fun of us, but if this fails they may try intimidating us with fear!

6. David as a young man of faith however is not destroyed by either the ridicule or the tactics of fear...his faith is his biggest asset, and so he stays the course.

a. We would do well to follow David's example!

b. When we back away from our faith not only do we lose, but so does the Church!

II. UNBENDING! 17:45-47

A. Righteousness 17:45

1. David's response is clear and without fear, David defines the real issue at hand!

a. Goliath came against him with the things of man; "sword, spear, and a javelin"

b. But David was coming against Goliath "in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel!"

2. David was not sidetracked by the taunts of Goliath or fear.

3. In fact, since David's faith was already strong, this only strengthened it more and made him bolder!

ILLUS: A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them. -- Victor Frankl, Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 4.

4. Notice too that David understood that Goliath was not really challenging him or even Israel but God! "...the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied!" 17:45b

a. So David did not take it personally or let his feelings get hurt!

b. We need to be careful when this world pokes fun at faith that we don't get personally offended, it is really an attack against God!

c. We therefore don't need to defend ourselves as much as we need to declare our faith!

5. God always gets the last word...this is what our faith is based in, the character of God and His sovereignty!

ILLUS: More than a hundred seventy years ago Voltaire declared that there would not be a copy of the Bible on earth in a hundred years. Voltaire is dead, and one may barely recall the date of his death. The Geneva Bible Society is using the very printing press on which his infidel prophecy was issued. Today four hundred million copies of the sacred Scriptures, in fully three hundred tongues, are in circulation, like leaves of the forests, for the healing of the nations. The Bible societies of America and Europe pledge themselves to furnish every family in the land with a Bible without money and without price where no copy is found. -- Aquilla Webb, 1001 Illustrations for Pulpit and Platform (Doubleday, 1926), p. 50.

6. David kept the mission and the fight clear in his mind, he was on the side of righteousness so he would not bend to the will of this uncircumcised Philistine!

a. There is a proper kind of stubbornness that is a healthy quality, stubbornness for righteousness!

b. David would not yield or turn back, it may look ridiculous from a worldly standpoint, but David knew that in the end God will be the victor!

c. How we need to remember this when we feel discouraged by what we see coming against the Church and our faith, it may appear at times to be futile on our part, but if we are standing in His righteousness we will win the battle!

B. Revelation 17:46-47

1. Notice the confidence in David's voice...he can intimidate Goliath too!

a. He declares that this very day God will hand Goliath over to him,

b. AND he will strike Goliath down and cut off his head!

c. Notice the combination here: God will hand Goliath over, and David will cut off his head - God works through His people, faith takes action and is not just a concept or a confession!

2. Further David declares that not only will Goliath lose, but the entire Philistine army will become bird food!

a. David understood God's purpose and plan for His people.

b. David could stand in confidence that God's will will triumph not only for an individual event, but for all God's people.

3. The Bible clearly reveals to us that we will be the victors in the end of time, so we can take heart and stand boldly in our faith!

4. By faith David already saw what was coming...although this was seemingly impossible to the Philistines who thought they were in control!

5. Faith can give us a strength today even though we don't see the results until tomorrow, often this kind of faith is what carries us through the trial so we can see the reality of it later!

ILLUS: There was a study done of concentration camp survivors. What were the common characteristics of those who did not succumb to disease and starvation in the camps? Victor Frankl was a living answer to that question. He was a successful Viennese psychiatrist before the Nazis threw him into such a camp. "There is only one reason," he said in a speech, "why I am here today. What kept me alive was you. Others gave up hope. I dreamed. I dreamed that someday I would be here, telling you how I, Victor Frankl, had survived the Nazi concentration camps. I've never been here before, I've never seen any of you before, I've never given this speech before. But in my dreams, in my dreams, I have stood before you and said these words a thousand times."

6. David even goes so far as to tell Goliath that this whole event will be used by God to reveal Himself to "ALL THOSE GATHERED HERE" ....

a. Israel

b. Philistines

7. This event would also reveal the power of faith in God over the power and faith in the things of this world.

a. "All those gathered here will know that it is NOT by sword or spear that the Lord saves..."

b. Eventually everything material will pass away, but faith will continue on!

8. Remember what David says here in the end of his declaration of faith: "...for the battle IS THE LORD'S, and He will give you into OUR hands."

a. It wasn't David's battle, except to stand in faith.

b. It wasn't going to be just David's victory either, he said God would deliver Goliath into "OUR hands".... When we win in faith the whole Church wins!

c. Faith allows us to participate in God's victories!

9. David had faith in declaring God's power and victory over the things of this we?

a. When we are ridiculed for our faith do we keep silent and melt away?

b. When the odds are against us are we willing to boldly proclaim God's power and victory?

c. When facing impossible trials do we remember this is God's battle and all we have to do is stand in faith to see Him give victory?

CONCLUSION: In the eyes of the world the Church doesn't look real impressive or powerful. In the eyes of God however, it is the most powerful force on Earth! Though we may appear to the world to have little value we have a message to declare in faith that has the backing of God! The triumph of God's people is our faith! Are you bold in declaring it?