Giant Faith

Giant Faith

Lesson: 8
Faith is the crucial essence of what we need for salvation. It is more than simply believing God exists.
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Tonight in our presentation of heroes of faith, we're going to be talking about giant faith. Faith is the crucial essence of what we need in salvation. 'Whosoever believeth in him should be saved.' The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God 'for he that comes to God must believe that he is and he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him.' Without faith it is impossible to please God. How many times do you remember Jesus saying 'if you believe, all things are possible.'? And so many times, when Jesus healed somebody, he said, 'your faith has made you whole. But faith is one of the most misunderstood principles among Christians, of virtually anything in the teachings of theology.

People think Christian faith means you simply believe there is a God. But it's much more than that because the Bible says in James that devils also believe and tremble. We don't want the faith of devils. We want to find out what real Christian faith is - the giant faith that the Bible talks about. Have you ever come to a precipice in your life where you need to make a decision? You were at a threshold and you had to decide 'am I really going to take the leap? Am I going to really make that decision?' And you knew that your whole future rested on what you decided at that point.

A few years ago a friend invited me and our son Daniel to go up and try hang gliding. Now I just monkeyed with it a few times on some very low hills and - but this fellow wanted to know if we were really ready to try to launch. Now I love flying. Just the idea of soaring through the air to me is very attractive. I've let people know many times, in person and on television, if there's an opening for a pastor to go on the international space station, count me in.

I'd like to do that. And, you know, if I go skiing I'm looking for the moguls and I jump. If I'm out water skiing I'm jumping the wake. I mean I just - motorcycles, I like to jump. Just that feeling of flying.

Anyone else like that? I can't wait to go to heaven. You know, the Bible says that 'they will mount up with wings like eagles' and the idea of being able to fly, to me - you've probably sung that song before, rock of ages - we will soar to worlds unknown. I mean, that, to me, just to be able to fly - that freedom. I think man's been confined to the earth because of sin. I think we used to be able visit and talk with the angels and leave the - we weren't imprisoned in this world, but we've been quarantined because of sin.

Well, I already made that point. I like to fly. So this friend said - could you tell? - This friend said, there's some hills up in northern California and I've got some hang gliders. 'Come on. You and Daniel come on up and I'll let Daniel jump off some of the little bunny hills' and he said, 'no, you and i, we can jump off a cliff.

' I said, 'sure.' (Laughter) 'sounds good.' And so he took us up around the hills and a few times we jumped off and successfully landed some just gently sloping hills where you're just temporarily airborne, but the ground never leaves very far from your feet. He said, 'you guys, you're naturals.' He said, 'Doug, you know, you're a pilot. I think you can do it. Let's go up to the hill there.' I said, 'okay.' He took us up to a high hill and he brought me to a precipice and I put this hang glider, you know, mounted on my back and you're strapped in with a harness and you're hanging from the frame and you've got these two big wings going out on the side and it's got a little ribbon coming off the aluminum struts so he could see when the wind was right and he said, 'alright, just - you'll get it.' He was so confident. And finally, I got up to the edge and the breeze was just right.

He said, 'this is perfect. Go ahead.' I said, 'what do you mean? Just' - 'you're good. Jump.' I said, 'like' - he said, 'yeah.' And I'm looking down. You know, all your life you learn about gravity to avoid like jumping off cliffs. And there's guard rails everywhere and here I am and he's telling me to do something that instinctively you're thinking - and, you know, the wings are above you - you don't see them.

All you see is ground below you and you're supposed to just leap. And I - I'll admit that I stood there quivering for a while (laughter) and I had to decide. He said, 'look,' - he finally said, 'it's not - conditions are not going to get any better. You've just got to decide if you want to do it.' And I thought, 'you know, if I don't do it, the rest of my life I'm going to regret it and my son is watching. And what will that tell him?' So I said, 'well, at least if I try.

' And it was one of the hardest things I've ever done and I was scared. You ever get where you're like on the border of panic? And I had to decide 'am I really going to take the plunge?' And I pushed off. And for a moment I could feel myself falling, as you normally were, but then the wings caught the wind and I began to go up. And just as I'm going up I heard him turn and say to Daniel, he said, 'you know, I never did tell him what to do when he gets to 18,000 feet.' (Laughter) because he didn't anticipate the updraft. I was just going up and up and then I remembered you pull back and you'll start going down and if you want to know what that's like, it's very much like being captured by a pterodactyl and carried off.

So it's exactly - if you're wondering. But all of a sudden you feel this thing behind just lifting you and you've got this pole in front of you. I survived, obviously. It was a rough landing but I survived. But I was - it's like you come to the threshold.

It's kind of like getting married. You come to the border - what are you - are you going to go forward? You know it's like a point of no return. Are you going to take that leap of faith? Not that marriage is always a leap of faith. (Laughter) but, you know, in the Christian life, it really is stepping off and deciding 'i am going to put my whole life in God's hands no matter what the consequences are. I am going to trust him and His Word and his promises to hold me up.

' The devil will do everything he can to frighten you from taking that step and saying, 'you'll kill yourself. Are you crazy? Don't do it.' And you have to decide, 'has God given me evidence on which to base my faith?' You know, there's a story in the Bible - there's a few stories we're going to look at. And so, to begin with, I'd like to direct your attention to the book of Numbers chapter 13. We're going to talk about a few heroes of faith. Numbers chapter 13 - and just to give you the background, the children of Israel - they've come out of Egypt, they went to Mount Sinai, got the ten commandments, they built the tabernacle, then they came up to the borders of the promised land.

It was never God's plan that they wander 40 years. He was going to bring him in that year. They get to the border of the promised land and they started getting nervous. And they said to one another, 'you know, none of our relatives have been here in generations. We don't know what to expect.

It'd probably be a good idea to send a reconnaissance team - send some spies - check things out. I mean, let's find out what's really going on before we just go barging off into this land we haven't been to for hundreds of years. And so, at their suggestion and pleading, God agreed. He told Moses, 'go ahead, pick out twelve men that will serve as' - they called them - 'spies.' They were to do a survey of the land and have them do a circuit through the country. And it names the twelve men.

Now most of their names, sort of, evaporate into history. Two of the names stand out and we remember them. You know who they are? Joshua and Caleb. And you find Caleb mentioned in verse 6, "from the tribe of judah, Caleb The Son of jephunneh;" and it talks about Joshua or hoshea the son of nun - same name. Go to verse 17, "then Moses sent them to spy out the land of canaan, and said to them, "go up this way into the south, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor;" - meaning fertile or sparse - "and whether there are forests there or not.

Be of good courage." - He's saying don't be discouraged - "be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land." Why were they to bring some of the fruit? To encourage the people that had been eating nothing but manna for 40 years 'this is what you've got to look forward to. Press on.' Now that was the season of first ripe grapes. First ripe grapes - so they went through the south and they went through the wilderness of zin as far as rehob, the entrance of hamath. Finally you go to verse 23 and it says they came to - oh, I'll read verse 22, "and they went up through the south and came to hebron;" - hebron, that's near Jerusalem - "ahiman, sheshai, and talmai, the descendants of anak, were there." - Anak was a very famous giant king - "the descendants of anak were there." - Verse 23 - "then they came to the valley of eschol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole." Now when it takes two men to carry one cluster of grapes, that either means one cluster has thousands of grapes in it, or it has the normal number of grapes but the grapes are extraordinarily big. I prefer to believe the latter.

I went to australia and I don't know what kind of genetic modification they did there, but somebody brought me some grapes and I'm telling you, they were all like plums. Seriously, they were huge. Could it be that the grapes there in the promised land were just enormous? You'll find out the people were enormous when we get to heaven. That's the real land flowing with milk and honey. I'll invite you over to my house for a grape because - then I'll give you a spoon and we'll step inside the grape.

Everything's going to be bigger and better there. You know, by the way, if you go to Israel today, the logo they use for visiting the promised land is a picture of two men carrying one cluster of grapes between them. So then after looking at the land for forty days - in verse 25 - they returned. But you find out right away that there's a big difference between ten of the spies and two of the spies. Out of the twelve, two of them had faith.

Ten of them, they only saw the problems. You've heard about some people - cup is half empty and some it's half full - well ten of them everything was more than half empty. Caleb and Joshua, they were optimistic and as they're going through the land, ten of the spies looked at the walls of Jericho and they said, 'oh wow, will you look at the walls. How will we ever conquer a city with walls like that? That is an impenetrable fortress.' And Caleb said, 'wow, look at the springs. Look at the dates.

Look at the pomegranates. And they went into the country of Hebron and there they had all the descendants of the Anakam - the giants - and Caleb said, 'wow, look at how rich the soil is. Look at how big the vineyards are. Look at how lush the orchards are and the abundance of water.' And Joshua - they said, 'wow, I can't - I want my house here. No, I want my house here.

Look at" - and they were so excited. And ten of them were saying, 'are you kidding? Look at those guys. How could we ever conquer people so big?' And on and on it went for forty days. As they went through the land, Joshua and Caleb are taking notes and getting so excited, but ten of them are going, 'oh me. Oh my.

How are we ever going to do this? This is impossible. Why did we ever leave Egypt? We could never conquer all these nations.' And all they saw were the obstacles. Now there were obstacles, but they forgot who had been leading them this far and that he would be able to lead them all the way. So when they finally get back to Moses and the rest of the congregation that had been waiting anxiously for their return and their report, Caleb and Joshua said, 'we better outrun these guys or they're going to set the wrong tone. We want to encourage.

We want to inspire.' And so even though they're carrying a big cluster of grapes - I'm just - I don't know that but I always picture that it was Joshua and Caleb that were so excited they carried the grapes. They probably had their pockets full of pomelos and dates and raisins and all the different fruit of the land. They probably had a cloud of fruit flies following them as they came (laughter) because they had to carry those grapes quite a ways. And they outran the other ten spies - you can see in verse 27, they came to the congregation and they showed them the fruit of the land. "Then they told him, and said: 'we went to the land where you sent us.

It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit." And I can see him - they're taking a grape and saying, 'heads up!' And they're throwing a grape and 'hey, throw another grape.' And saying, 'here's some dates.' And they stick it to him and they're just throwing - and everyone's going 'ooh! Ahh!' And the people are so excited. But then the other ten spies caught up. Notice how quickly the conversation changes. It begins with flowing with fruit and honey and then ten of them say, "nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large;" - 'how would we ever conquer the walls of Jericho?' Well, we found out, didn't we? And it says, "moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there." They were still leftover - whole race of giants. "The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea" - and there's termites and gigabytes and all these ites and all they could think about was all of the problems that they were going to have in the land.

And the people began to moan and they grabbed their faces and said "me oh my. What are we going to do? What are we doing here? Why did we leave Egypt?' And it says - you can tell that because verse 30 - "then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, 'let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.'" Amen. Now I've underlined that in my Bible - we are well able - then you get the opposite report from the other spies. "But the men who had gone up with him said, 'we are not able to go up'" - so who are you going to believe? There will be people who tell you that you are not able to make it to the promised land and then there'll be people that tell you, you are. And what you believe, Jesus said, 'be it unto you according to your faith.

' If you believe, all things are possible. Verse 32, "and they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, 'the land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitant, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so were we in their sight.'" - 'They saw us and we looked like grasshoppers.' Now just to give you an idea of what they were dealing with back then, we just so happen to have one of the giants here tonight that's going to help us out and to help illustrate - (laughter) so we really appreciate aaron coming. Aaron is a descendant of Anak (laughter) now Goliath, the Bible says - you know, people sometimes tell me I'm short. I'm not really short, I'm just concentrated.

(Laughter) the Bible says that Goliath was nine and a half feet. This is not even nine and a half feet. But we didn't want him going any higher for insurance concerns - (laughter) - than this. But now, if you're going to go against a whole nation of people that are this tall, would that make you nervous? Were the walls of jericho big? Oh, Karen's taking a picture. Let's get a good one.

(Laughter) are you smiling? (Laughter) where's your camera, jared? (Laughter) I'm not going to make him stay out here all day because it'd be hard to go against a nation of giants, wouldn't it? No, I don't want to push my luck. Thank you very much. Didn't he do a great job? Oh, by the way - see? Goliath, it says, had a - Goliath had a staff like - a spear like a weaver's beam - it was like a pole - and so just you can understand - and we left the sword out tonight. It somehow didn't make it from California. Thank you very much.

Give him a hand. We appreciate that. (Clapping) I wanted to do it but they told me I couldn't. (Laughter) I still wouldn't have been tall enough. 'We felt like grasshoppers in our sight.

' You know why they couldn't take on the giants? Because they were thinking like grasshoppers. You can't be thinking like that. You know what? Because they did not believe - the people that did not believe did not make it. Now, I want to just share with you very quickly, there are two different messages that are going out in the Christian world today from pastors. Some pastors are preaching and teaching the traditional theology - the biblical view - that Jesus came to save us from our sins - that though the devil may be a giant and though the problems are very big and though it may seem impossible at times to get the victory over whatever our sins or our addictions or our problems are, that with God all things are possible and that if The Son shall make you free, you can be free indeed.

But then there's another group of voices that says, 'you know, don't take yourself so seriously. We're all sinners. We're just going to keep on sinning like everybody else. Sinners aren't perfect, we're just forgiven.' And they don't really talk about transformed lives. The Bible said, 'old things are passed away.

All things are made new.' You become new creatures. Christians can be transformed even though the problems often look insurmountable. And they had forgotten the God factor. Ten of those spies, all they could think about was looking at how big the problems were. "So all the congregation" - I'm in chapter 14, verse 1 of Numbers - "so all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.

And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, 'if only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!'" Be careful about whining in your prayers. God may answer your prayer. And God answered that prayer. They had said it so many times he said, 'okay, I'm going to give you what you asked for.' Those that did not believe that God could bring them into the promised land did not make it to the promised land. What does the promised land represent? Heaven.

Do you believe that God can bring you in? Be it unto you according to your faith. And then they said, 'why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword?' - And they said, 'let's pick another leader. We'll go back.' Whenever we doubt that God can bring us in, we're looking for a different leader. And if you don't have Jesus leading you, you've only got one other option. Christ said, 'if you're not with me, you're against me.

' Now Joshua and Caleb, they did not lose faith. They did believe. And if you go to Joshua - the book of Joshua chapter - I want to give you a follow up. We need to fast forward forty years now. Go to verse 6 - Joshua 14, verse 6, "then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal.

And Caleb The Son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: 'you know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God." Caleb goes on to his friend, Joshua, and he says, "and now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this Word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old." - Notice this - "as yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me;" - wouldn't you like to be as strong at 85 as you are at 40? I got a lot of 'amens' on that. I was praying it as I read it - "just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.

" - Listen to the courage of Caleb - "now therefore, give me this mountain" - you know what mountain he's talking about? The mountains of hebron - the mountains where the anakim lived - the mountains where the giants were, because as the children of Israel crossed over and they began to conquer the different lands, everyone kind of waited for the country of the giants. They said, 'we're not going there right away.' And Caleb said, 'that's some of the best country. That's why the giants took it. That's where I want to go.' And he said, 'Joshua, let me and my clan take on the giants. I know I'm 85, but I believe we can do it, because if God's with us, we'll be victorious.

Amen. And you know what? Because of that faith it says, "and Joshua blessed him." What does Joshua mean? Joshua is Jesus. "And Joshua blessed him, and gave hebron to Caleb The Son of jephunneh...therefore (it) became the inheritance of Caleb The Son of jephunneh" - and it went to the tribe of judah and they ended up keeping that land because of their faith. And the Lord is willing to do that for you and me. He'll give us the promised land.

Everything that - everything that they were afraid of, he gave to Caleb. And right now, when you go to the promised land and you look at the territory with the word jew - the word Jew is different from the Hebrews and all the Israelites. Ten of the tribes got carried away. The children of Judah are the Jews and it sort of has become a word to talk about the remnants of Israel, but because of Caleb's faith, the reason that the land of Jerusalem and Judah is in that southern territory right now, is because of an old man that believed he could take on giants - amen. And he did.

Faith is the key ingredient in our salvation. The Bible tells us that without faith you can't please God. You might be thinking, 'well, Pastor Doug, some people have more faith than others.' Everybody has faith. The Bible tells us, in Romans 12:3, 'God has dealt to everyone a measure of faith.' It depends on where you decide to direct your faith. I know you've got faith.

See people out on the road - you've got faith, when you press your brakes, that they're going to stop. You've got faith that when you enter the crosswalk the drivers are going to respect that the light is now red for them and green for you. You've got faith when you put your money in the mail or - and send it off. And we exercise faith all the time and I like to tell regular Christians I know they have faith because I've seen them at potlucks. (Laughter) and they go and you'll be in line.

You'll say, 'what's that?' 'I don't know.' Then they put it on their plate. 'I don't know who made it. I don't know what their house looks like. I don't know what's in it.' And they put it on and we seem to survive because we have faith that there's nobody in the church trying to poison us deliberately, right? I remember one time - you do have to be careful - I went through line, I got some salad, I put some dressing on it, and went and sat down. I took a bite and I realized that the salad section of the potluck was right next to the dessert section and I didn't know where that imaginary line was and I just put butterscotch pudding all over my salad.

(Laughter) but we have faith. You sit on a chair and you hope it'll hold you up. God's dealt to all people a measure of faith. The question is, 'how do you direct your faith?' the Lord wants us to believe that we can trust him. Has he given us evidence on which to base our faith? Now, even in the world, they recognize the power of faith and big corporations pay motivational speakers to come in and to try to mobilize the positive power of their sales force so they'll be more successful and they'll prosper financially and these speakers would come and many of them were actually preachers and they don' know that - they come in and they give faith principles from the Bible that help mobilize these big corporations because they say, 'you can do it.

If you believe, it's possible. You've got to be positive.' And it is true that God has built people where there's something about when you believe - you've heard of self-fulfilling prophecies. Things happen when you believe. How many of you know what the placebo effect is? You know what I mean by that? There's a lot of cases where a person will really believe that some pill they're taking or some solution they're drinking is powerful medicine that's going to heal them and it could be nothing more than starch and water. But if you believe it and you have confidence in the doctor that gives it to you, people will get better because they've gotten the placebo and other people in the test group that didn't get anything don't get better and there was nothing in it except faith.

We've all heard about people that go to healing services and, even though we later learn that the evangelist was a bamboozler, people seem to get better. They're backache went away and - or whatever sickness was because they went - Jesus never healed a person and said, 'my faith has made you whole.' He always said, 'your faith has made you whole.' I got a study here - it's several years old but the principle is still relevant - it's called the placebo prescription. This is from New York times magazine, January 9, 2000. Speaking about placebos, "doctors in one study successfully eliminated warts by painting them with a brightly colored inert dye and promising patients the warts would be gone when the color wore off." In a study of asthmatics, researchers found that they could produce dilation of the airways simply by telling people they were inhaling a bronchodilator when they weren't. In other words, they gave them some salt solution.

They're struggling with asthma, they can't breathe, they said, 'breathe this, you'll feel much better.' (Labored breathing noises) 'thanks. Much better. Thank you very much. There's nothing in it but the power of the mind. "Patients suffering pain after wisdom tooth extraction got just as much relief from a fake application of ultrasound as from a real one so long as both the patient and the therapist thought the machine was on.

" "Fifty-two percent of the people with colitis treated with a placebo in eleven different trials reported feeling better. Fifty percent of the inflamed intestines actually appeared healthier when examined with a scope." Physiologically they were shown to improve even though they had nothing but a placebo. Forty years ago, a young Seattle cardiologist named Leonard Cobb conducted a unique trial of procedures, then commonly known for angina as mammary ligation. If they had angina pain after surgery and what they do is they make an incision and they tie off some arteries and supposedly it's supposed to relieve the angina pain. But then Cobb became suspicious and he had several patients where he performed the surgery and didn't do anything but sew them back up - just made an incision and sewed them back up and they said, 'oh, I feel much better.

Thank you so much. That took care of it. No more pain.' They did more of it now and they finally realized that all that people were experiencing was the placebo improvement so they gave up the procedure. I've experienced the placebo effect a few times in my life where you're almost sure - I remember I was playing a friend racquetball and he was just always beating me. So I thought it's 'cause I'm using cheap gear.

So I bought an expensive racquetball racquet and I couldn't wait to play him and I was so excited to play him I got my gear. I went out and played him and I beat him every game - first time. And then I said, 'you know why I think this happened? Because I got this new racquet.' And I held it up and I realized I had grabbed my old racquet. (Laughter) but I thought I had my new racquet so I played so much better. Another time, when I was - I went to school on a boat in the mediterranean - some of you maybe have read this in the book - and a lot of kids were on this boat.

They were using drugs back then and they searched you. They took all your drugs away. When you, you know, went into Italy - this boat was based in Italy, sailed around the Mediterranean, school was on the boat - and I got there and my friends were always saying, 'did you bring any drugs with you?' And I said, 'no, I didn't. Got searched.' I - but everybody traded snickers candy bars was the medium of exchange. We had very little money but snickers candy bar was a real treat because the food was terrible on the boat.

And I began to think one day, 'i, you know, I used to go to these rock concerts and I would buy LSD - LSD is a dangerous hallucinogenic and it comes in little squares that are translucent and they called it 'windowpane' and, in the concerts, I would slip it in my wallet and I thought, 'maybe' - you know, sometimes I got high and I forgot what I had and I thought, 'i better look and see if there's anything left.' While I was looking, I got an idea. I noticed the little plastic picture holders in my wallet and I got a pair of scissors and I cut some very small squares out of the little plastic picture holder in my wallet - just a quarter inch by a quarter inch - and when I got done, it looked exactly like what LSD would look like. And I called a friend of mine into my cabin who was - I knew that he was just - he would do anything for it and I said, 'Eric, you're never going to believe what I found in my wallet.' 'What is it?' I said, 'i bought a concert and I bought two hits of LSD and I found it in my wallet.' He said, 'oh man.' He said, 'I'll give you whatever you want.' I said, 'well, I want - I want one - no, I want two snickers candy bars for one of them.' I didn't want to seem too anxious. So he said, 'no problem.' He came back and he gave me the candy bars and he took this little plastic sliver - just - and I told him as he was going out the door, I said, 'now I don't know if it's still good anymore. I'm just telling you ahead of time because it's been in my wallet a long time.

' That was true. (Laughter) and so i, you know, forgive me. I - so I quickly gobbled down my candy bars and I didn't enjoy them because I felt so guilty. The next morning he came banging on my door and I thought, 'oh, here it comes.' He came in and said, 'hey, you know that lsd you sold me?' I said, 'yeah?' He said, I took it and nothing happened.' I said, 'oh, I'm sorry.' I said, 'well, you know I told you.' He said, 'no, no, nothing happened at first, but then I woke up in the middle of the night - man, what a trip!' He said, 'i started seeing all these things.' (Laughter) he started describing all this experience, the places he went, the patterns, and - I'm going, 'really?' He left my cabin - I ate the other one just in case there was some - I thought maybe there's something - wallet sweat - I - they haven't discovered yet. (Laughter) I always wondered about that.

Then I heard about the placebo effect. He really believed something was happening. Now I'm not saying that we are saved by faith in faith. And I'm not suggesting that we have a reckless faith, because faith needs to be in something that deserves our faith. Jesus has given us evidence on which we can base our faith.

Jesus never fails. He has never let us down. If you've got a car and every time you get in that car for the ten years you own that car, the key turns and it drives and you have no problems, then you're probably that - you're going to just start believing it's going to run when you need it, because it's proven itself dependable. Has the Lord ever let us down? Does Jesus fail anywhere? When the Lord brought the people all that way out of Egypt, into the promised land why would they stop believing? God has given us an abundance of evidence. Now God is not suggesting that we have reckless faith, yet you don't want to tempt the Lord and jump off a temple.

That's what the devil tried to tell Jesus to do. I remember reading about a russian comic and he said when he came to America he was so shocked by the abundance we have here and what an amazing country it was. Karen and I went to russia back in '92 and they took us to the supermarket and there were five things in the Market. We're not exaggerating. There was just very little - and this is right after the iron curtain fell.

And this comedian, yakov smirnoff, he said he came to America and he was amazed at the abundance of products. And he said, 'you know, you've got powdered milk, you add water, you get milk. You get powdered orange juice, you add water, you get orange juice. He said, I went around the corner and I saw baby powder and I thought, 'what a country!' (Laughter) that would be - that's kind of reckless faith, you know? God wants us to have faith that is based on evidence. And when you pray a big prayer and you get a big answer, then you have evidence that 'if I pray another prayer.

..if God answered that prayer he can answer this prayer.' And your faith grows and you start praying bigger prayers and you get bigger answers. So what is the giant that we need to fight? What's the battle we all have? It's the devil and sin, isn't it? The whole Bible - I told you opening night - is about sin and salvation. I'm going to go to the best giant story in the Bible, right now. If you want to join me and turn to the first book of Samuel - 1 Samuel chapter 18 - or chapter 17, verse , "now the philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the philistines.

The philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And a champion went out from the camp of the philistines, named Goliath, from gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders." - Strapped to his back - "now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed (22 pounds) six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer an armor-bearer) went before him. Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, 'why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.

If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.' And the philistine said, 'i defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.'" - In other words, the whole battle between the two nations is going to pivot upon a manonman conflict. And he throws down the gauntlet and he stands out there like a looming redwood tree and nobody volunteers. Oh, jonathan may have volunteered, you know? He wasn't afraid. He went against 20 philistines and beat them.

Probably Saul wasn't going to let his sons go because if they fight and lose, you surrender the Kingdom and he loses his son. Saul was a head and shoulders taller than everybody, but he might have been six-foot eight - he wasn't nine-foot six - and he was getting older at this point. And day after day - they had, probably, little skirmishes along the creek where they were lined up. Day after day Goliath came thundering down and all the men of Israel fled back from him. And he got more bold in his insulting the God of Israel and challenging them.

'Send me a man! Send me a man!' And everybody just kept looking at his size. You notice the detail the Bible goes into? They knew how much his spear weighed. They knew how much his armor weighed. They knew exactly how tall he was. They were looking at all the facts.

That's why it's not good to have an accountant be the leader of a church. You need somebody who - you need accountants to guide the pastors, but you need people who are visionary that have faith to do the impossible. People that are always counting are looking - 'we can do this, but we can't do that.' And you need those people, but they kept looking at all the facts. And what God needed was somebody that had faith. They were looking at the size of the problems right in front of them instead of looking at how big the lord was.

And then, about that time, Jessie, who had his other sons all fighting in the battle, except for the youngest, who was taking care of the sheep. His father sent him to bring some provisions and when David came - the very day that he came and he's giving provisions to his brothers and to their generals. They - you know, they had to feed the army every day. It was quite a task. That's right when Goliath decided to March out and issue his challenge.

And David, you know, they didn't have internet, he didn't know what was going on. And he heard Goliath challenging the armies of Israel and he was taunting and he was mocking - he was saying the God of Israel was weak - can't produce one soldier - and the blood came up into David's face and he couldn't believe that nobody's looking around saying, 'who's going to take him on?' 'How long has this been happening? 40 Days now? Nobody has taken him up? Doesn't anybody believe that God can help them beat this guy? Is God with us or is God with him?' They said, 'well, don't you see how tall he is?' 'Who cares how tall he is? Is God with us or is God with him?' And he was looking through the eyes of faith, which is why the Bible says 'David was a man after God's heart.' In spite of his problems, when you read the life of David, you'll find that he never lost a battle. Jesus is The Son of David. And you go into battle with him and you will never lose a battle. Matter of fact, one time David went into battle with his soldiers and the Bible says, 'all of Israel fled before the philistines except David and one soldier by the name of eleazer, and you'll never forget, his father's name was dodo - eleazer The Son of dodo - and he said, 'look, if David's not running, I'm not running.

And so there David and eleazer stood back to back and they fought against the army of philistines and they defeated them! Have you read about David's mighty men? That story's in the Bible. And eleazer said 'God's with David. If I'm with David, God's with me. I'm not afraid.' Amen. Is Jesus with you? Yes.

How do you know? Because he said, 'lo I am with you always, even unto the end.' So when temptation comes, you take your sword - 'the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword' - and you stand back to back with Jesus, and you might have to fight, but you will never lose because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Amen. Are you aware that you and God always make a majority? Amen. Isn't that right? Amen. So David, he was outraged.

And he says to his brother, he says, 'isn't anybody taking this offer?' David says, 'what's the reward? I'm just wondering, what's the reward?' 'Oh, his father - tax free in the Kingdom and he's going to probably get to marry the King's daughter. Wow, whoever could beat the giant, he's going to really be riding high.' He said, 'i want to just know what the fringe benefits are.' And his brother comes along and says, 'what are you talking about? Did - you were always dreaming big. Settle down. You just came to watch the battle.' And David says, 'don't you think there's a cause? Isn't there are reason now for someone to believe?' Finally he makes such a ruckus they say, 'you know' - they tell the King, 'there's this young man in the camp that's talking about he'll take on the giant.' the King's desperate now. He said, 'bring him to me.

' And David comes and the King says - he sizes him up - and David may have been 18 to 20 then - I know we always picture David as a little boy. That makes for good storytelling in the younger divisions, but in reality he was probably 18 to 20 years old. You weren't considered a man until you were 30. But he's still a stripling. He's not even filled out yet.

And he said, 'you're going to go against him?' He said, 'he's been a man of war since his youth and you're just a youth.' Now listen to David's answer. "But David said to Saul, 'your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth;'" - I'm so thankful that Jesus'll fight for his lambs, won't he? Amen. "'And when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.'" - It doesn't say he killed it with his sling, he took it with his shepherd's staff and bludgeoned the thing. I read, in Canada, a man - you think this is just a Bible story - a man in Canada was walking out in the woods with his dog. The dog was very small.

He came upon a mother bear that attacked him and he broke free and grabbed a limb that had fallen from a tree and he hurled around and he clobbered the bear - full-grown bear - dazed it - once he saw it was dazed he kept thumping and he finally came out. His arm was mauled but he got the rangers, brought them back, and they confirmed he had killed the bear with a stick. So why would we doubt that David could do it? And David said, 'i did it with a bear and I did it with a lion. And so what he's saying to Saul is 'the reason I have faith that I can take on the giant is based on evidence from past experience.' This is how it works in the Christian life. When you start praying and God starts answering your prayers, you start taking steps of faith and say, 'lord, I don't know how I'm going to change this behavior' - because, you know, that's the real battle, it's character transformation.

'I don't know how I'm going to do this, lord, but with your help - please help me. Please forgive me.' And then we see victory. 'Wow, lord, how about this? And how about this?' And what's happening is all the while your faith keeps getting bigger based on past evidence. Faith is not just blindly believing, faith is believing in the evidence that God has given you. Amen.

'I believe the God that helped me kill the lion and the bear can help me kill the giant.' And Saul said, 'well, you know, if we're going to send out a man,' - now I'm just telling you what I think king Saul was thinking - 'i'd rather them beat a youth; then they feel guilty and it doesn't look so bad. If we send out a big, tall, strong soldier and they beat us, then it really looks like we're bad. But if they beat a kid, then they feel bad about it.' And he said, 'okay, hot shot, you think you want to do it? Put on my armor.' David tried that and he said - you know, Saul was a head and shoulders taller than everybody else and David puts on his armor and he's looking out the neck hole like this and he's going, 'i can't do this.' And so he said, 'let me go with what I'm used to.' David walks down, leaves the army - the army of the philistines are watching and they see someone's coming out by themselves from the army, walking directly towards the philistine army on the other side of the hill. They go, 'what's he up to? Is he bringing a message? Are they surrendering? Is he going to announce who their warrior is? And he stops at the brook and he starts to feel around in the brook in between the two hills and he picks out five stones - sticks them in his shepherd's pouch - and then he starts walking up the hill. And they realize, 'he's come to take on Goliath's challenge.

' Goliath Marches out to meet him and he's - he can't believe it. Yeah, he says, "and when the philistine looked about" - verse 42 - "and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking." If he was at least ugly, but he's a cute kid. (Laughter) so the philistine says to David, "am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" - He's got his shepherd staff and he's got a sling. And he gets so mad. He realizes what Saul is up to - it's a pr stunt.

"And the philistine said to David, 'come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!' And David said to the philistine, 'you come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.'" Amen. Everybody was looking at how big the giant was, but David wasn't.

He was looking at how big God was. He said, 'you come against me with a sword and a spear and a shield. Yeah, you have those things, he says, but I've got God with me.' "So it was, when the philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the philistine." - Now I'm always amazed by a couple things: one is I'm amazed at the audacity of David. You think if you're going to fight a giant, don't make him mad and insult him first, right? David didn't care. He spoke boldly.

God spoke through him. And the other thing, if you're going to fight a giant and the giant is walking down to meet you, would you run down to meet him? Would you run to fight a giant? David was absolutely fearless because he knew that the Lord was with him and he also knew from his brothers that were all soldiers, there's something called the element of surprise. When Goliath saw that they had brought down a kid to fight against him, he was so outraged - maybe it was a hot day - he pushed back his helmet - because the Bible said he had a helmet on - probably his forehead had been protected - but he pushed it back and David said, 'i didn't know exactly whether I was going to use my staff or use my sling, but thank you, lord, I knew you'd provide an opening. I don't know if David knew exactly what he was going to do, but God revealed it to him at the right moment. And as he's running, he sees Goliath's got a big bulls eye on his forehead, he takes a stone and, you know, when you just stay taking care of sheep all day long, and you've got nothing going on, you practice your sling all day long.

You know, the Bible says that the tribe of Benjamin had 300 men that could sling stones left handed at a hair's breadth and not miss. These guys were snipers with slings - and David was one of them. And he slung that stone and, in case you don't know, when you sling stones the way they did in Bible times, those things build up some incredible centrifugal force and the smooth stones - I've got a friend from Alaska, he said you could put a stone through a piece of three-quarter inch plywood. It's extremely powerful. And he slung that stone while running - he was good - he could ride and shoot at the same time - and it hit the giant in the head and his eyes crossed up and he staggered and then he fell ingloriously on his face with a big thud and there was absolute silence.

The philistines were shocked. The Israelites were shocked. They were all taking money. They couldn't get anyone in their own army to bet on David. And then this - this absolute silence - everyone thought, 'is the giant getting back up again?' David didn't wait to see.

He went and took the giant's sword from him - talk about planning ahead, he just said, 'God'll provide.' And there, David, in front of everybody, decapitated the giant just as he said, 'i will take your head from you today.' Made sure he wasn't getting back up again. What did he use to kill him? The sword. What do we use - what did Jesus do to fight the devil in the wilderness? 'It's is written.' Friends, we're dealing with giants every day. This is not just a Bible story. The devil is - he's much bigger than we are.

He's a powerful angel, and his devils - his demons - they're much more powerful than we are. We can't fight these giants. We're just grasshoppers without Christ. But through Christ, we can have giant faith. So like David and like Joshua, and like Caleb, we can take the promised land.

We can defeat the enemy. And when temptation comes, we can be victorious, friends. I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Do you believe it? Amen. So what are some of the giants in your life? Is the devil trying to discourage you and make you think about going back to Egypt? Do you ever wonder if the Christian life is too hard? The devil tries to make you think that the tribulation is too difficult? Or maybe you're dealing with a particular battle and you might have a health problem.

You might have a serious financial problem you're grappling with and you wonder how you're ever going to get the victory over this? I don't know exactly what the answer is but I know that without God you can't do anything, but through Christ, all things are possible. The Bible says that if we believe, all things are possible. Be it unto you according to your faith. Now it's not just blind faith. It's faith in somebody who has paid so much to save you.

Would Jesus go through everything he went through to save you if it wasn't possible for you to be saved? Would you pay that much for something you could never really redeem? The reason he paid the price, friends is because it is impossible for you to have the victory and to be saved from your tribulation and from your giants. Do you believe it? Amen. Shall we ask him together tonight? Father in Heaven, thank you for the promise that, through faith, all things are possible. Give us the faith of Jesus and thank you, because we'll believe you'll do it as we pray in his name, amen.

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