Mighty Men of God - Courage

Mighty Men of God - Courage

Scripture: Deuteronomy 20:8
Date: 09/30/2016 
Mighty Men of God - Courage

Square Circles and Carnal Christians (PB) by Joe Crews

Square Circles and Carnal Christians (PB) by Joe Crews
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[Music] Jean Ross: good evening, gentlemen, and welcome to this very special series called "Mighty Men of God." Over the next few presentations together, we're going to be dealing with issues relating to being a Christian man in today's world. A very warm welcome to those of you here in Sacramento, California, and also our friends joining us across the country and around the world by satellite, and also watching on the internet. We're glad that you're part of this special presentation. Now, we do have a free offer, especially for our friends who are joining us. It is a book written by Pastor Doug Batchelor entitled "who do you think you are?" And for those watching in North America, if you'd like to receive this free offer, give us a call on our resource phone number.

That number is ... And you can ask for offer number 603. That number once again is ... Ask for offer number 603. We will be happy to send this to you.

For those of you who are watching outside of North America, you can also receive this free offer by going to our website, amazingfacts.org, and you can download the book. There's a pdf version of the book called "who do you think you are?" Now, this evening, our topic deals with courage, standing with courage. How do we stand with courage in an ever compromising society? So, that's going to be the focus that Pastor Doug Batchelor's going to be dealing with here in just a few moments. But before we invite him to come and lead us in our study this evening, I want you to turn to the person sitting next to you and just say, "welcome, we're glad you're here." And also, again, our friends joining us, we're glad that you're part of this program. Greet somebody near you.

We have a theme song that we're going to be singing throughout this series, and it deals with Marching to Zion. And the words will be on the screen. Gentlemen, let's stand as we sing our theme song this evening. [Music] ♪ come we that love the Lord ♪ ♪ and let our joys be known ♪ ♪ for in The Song with sweet accord ♪ ♪ join in a song with sweet accord ♪ ♪ and thus surround the throne, and thus surround the throne ♪ ♪ let's March ♪ ♪ we're Marching to Zion, beautiful ♪ ♪ beautiful Zion ♪ ♪ we're Marching upward to Zion, ♪ ♪ the beautiful city of God ♪ ♪ let those refuse to sing who never knew our God ♪ ♪ but children of the heavenly king ♪ ♪ but children of the heavenly king may speak their joys ♪ ♪ abroad, may speak their joys abroad ♪ ♪ we're Marching to Zion, beautiful ♪ ♪ beautiful Zion ♪ ♪ we're Marching upward to Zion, ♪ ♪ the beautiful city of God ♪ jean: let us bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father, what a privilege it is for us to be able to gather together to study Your Word, to discover your goal for us as men, the work that you wish to do in us and through us, the kind of men that you want us to be.

So Lord, as we take a look at Your Word, we ask the Holy Spirit to come and guard our hearts and our minds, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Please be seated. Now, as mentioned earlier, the speaker for this series is our own Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you so much, terry, for leading the music for us. And we're going to invite him to come join me here.

And I want you all to give him a hearty amen, emphasis on the men part, all right? Amen, let's say that together. One, two, three. All right, one more time, are you ready? Amen. All right, Pastor Doug, I think we're ready. He's going to come and lead us in our study this evening.

Doug Batchelor: amen. How is everybody? It's good to see you. I know we had a little traffic, any of you run into traffic coming in tonight? I had to take a detour, went across country. And so, we know that we still have some of our people coming in, but I already feel a little bit extra testosterone in this room right now. And it's nice when you can get a group--there's something different about when you get a group of men together, right? Matter of fact, I noticed that, you know, Pastor Ross was emphasizing that if men can't say amen, then who can, right? I want to try something with you.

I'm going to say a. When I point to you, I want you to say "men," but do it all together when I point, okay? Are you ready? A. That's pretty good, first time. There was one that was kind of out of key, but let's try one more time, ready? A. All right.

Now, you know, I thought maybe I'd start out tonight, we don't often get away with this because we're being watched. And now actually, we are being watched. You know, as soon as we said this was a men-only meeting, and we broadcasted it, you know how many women are out there watching this right now? But at least we're together in our own cave right now, right? I thought maybe I'd talk to you some of the reasons, in beginning, why we're glad we're men. Somebody sent this list to me the--oh, it's been a couple of years ago, and I thought it was interesting. One, phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.

A. Okay, you see, you got it. A 2-week vacation requires only 1 suitcase. Amen. You can open all your own jars.

Do you ever hand your jar to your buddy and say, "can you open this for me?" Dry cleaners and hair cutters don't rob you blind. I always get a discount. You can go to the bathroom without a support group. A. You don't have to learn to spell a new last name.

You can leave the motel bed unmade. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you to something, they can still be your friend. Your underwear is $10 for a 3-pack. A.

A wedding dress, $2,000. Tuxedo rental, $75. Wedding plans just seem to take care of themselves. Everything on your face stays its original color. A.

You can quietly enjoy a car ride from the passenger seat. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You don't have to clean your apartment if the meter reader is coming by. Mechanics tell you the truth. You can quietly watch a game with your buddy for hours without ever thinking, "he must be mad at me.

" Grey hair and wrinkles only add character. You don't mooch off each other's desserts. You can drop by and see a friend without having to bring a little gift. If another guy shows up at a party, wearing the same outfit, well, you might just become lifelong buddies. And not so with girls, though.

Your buddies will never trap you with, "so, do you notice anything different?" You're not expected to know the names of more than seven colors. Kind of men sort of think in, like, windows 3.1. You know, you got those primary colors. And the chartreuse and the mauve and all those others, we don't have to know those. You don't have to stop and think which way to turn a nut or a bolt.

You almost never have strap problems in public. You're unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Now, I don't know about you, if any of you ever go on a business trip, and you know, even as carefully as you iron your stuff, when you get there, it always looks like it's been ironed by an eggbeater. But what I typically do is I just iron this part that shows. Any of you? A.

The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe even decades. You don't have to shave anything below your neck. A. Your belly usually hides your big hips. One wallet, one pair of shoes, one color, all seasons.

You can do your nails with a pocket knife. All Christmas shopping can be accomplished for 25 relatives on December 24th, in 45 minutes, at wal-mart, for under $70. Amen. Well, let's face it, there are some things that are unique about men. And is it just me, or does it seem that in our world and our culture today, men are sort of being marginalized? It's almost politically incorrect to say that you're glad you're a man, or that men should act like men.

You know, there's a reason that God made us different. There are, you know, obvious reasons between women and men. Some are physical, but even in the way that we think and operate. I heard a preacher explain it this way, where--you know, we all understand computers. And you know, you can open several programs at a time.

And men typically, we've got one or two programs open in our heads. Have you ever seen somebody where they got, like, 30 programs open in their computer all at one time, and they're switching between windows, and the windows and the programs might be completely different programs? And every now and then, you get a message that says, "memory problems," because you're running so many programs? Well, sometimes we feel that way because ladies are--they multitask differently. They're processing so many different things differently. And we're a little more task-oriented, where we got one or two windows open at a time. And if you have to toggle between the two, it gets confusing.

And there are times when we can zone and not be thinking anything, and she'll be thinking, "I wonder if he's mad at me because he's not saying anything." We're not saying anything because we're just not thinking anything, right? And so, we're different. But there's some good reasons for those differences. God made us the way we are. And I think it's important for us to get together as men and celebrate being men together. You know, great things in the world have been accomplished by men that felt that camaraderie.

And the Bible has a lot to say about men, and how they can be unstoppable if they are men of courage, and if they'll stand for the right, though the heavens fall. Matter of fact, I thought I'd read a little quote to you. And if they could put this up on the screen, this is something of the theme of something I'd like to talk about in our series this weekend together. And it's from a book called "education," page 57, "the greatest want in the world is the want of men." And you know, want means need, that there's a vacuum. "The greatest want in the world is the want of men.

Men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest. Men who do not fear to call sin by its right name. Men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle is to the pole. Men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall." Especially in our world today, with things looking like they're unraveling, God is looking for men. There's no limit to what God can do through people that will fully consecrate themselves to him.

And you know, I thought as a springboard to our discussion about standing with courage, I want to take you in your Bibles back to a book in the beginning, Joshua. And Joshua was the attendant who was with Moses all the way from Egypt, through the wilderness. And he had spent so much time studying from the great leader Moses that when the time came for Moses to go to sleep and to die, that he was instructed by the Lord that Joshua was to be your replacement. And in the first chapter of Joshua, verse 5, this challenge is given by God to Joshua. And he makes a promise to him, "you're getting ready now to lead the people into the promised land.

" Joshua was on the borders of the promised land. I don't know about you, but that kind of feels to me like we're on the borders of the promised land again. And we need more men who have that courage of Joshua. And the challenge that God gives Joshua is not just meant for that leader, but I believe it's a challenge that applies to every man. He says, first of all, "no man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life.

" That meant that you are going to be victorious in your battle with all of the canaanites they needed to fight with to take possession of the promised land. They would not be able to stand. In a battle, it's like a boxing match, someone's left standing. That's usually the winner. And in the battle with the devil, you want to be left standing.

It's important that we learn how to take a stand, and remain standing. There are battles in life. God promised, "no man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you." You can do almost anything if you know God's with you, amen? "Be strong and of good courage." Now, I got to stop here and just draw attention to a little two-letter word in there, it's "be." Whenever God tells us to be something, there is creative power in that word. And when God brought the world into existence, he said, "let there be light.

" A leper came to Jesus one day and said, "Lord, if you want to, you can cleanse me." And Jesus said, "I want to be clean," and he was cleansed from his leprosy. And so, when God says, "be strong," in the Word of God is empowerment to be what he's asking you to be. So, God will never ask you to be something you can't be. Isn't that encouraging? And in the battles of life, especially today, if you're going to stand and if you're going to stand with courage, you need to be strong. Because the devil has been sharpening his skills for 6,000 years.

"Be strong and of good courage." He says, "for this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous." Now, when God emphasizes something twice, that must be important, saying, "if you want to take the promised land, if you want to be victorious, you got to be strong, you've got to be very strong, very courageous." And God says very, that means very. "Be very courageous, that you may observe to do all the law which Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you might prosper wherever you go." Now, prosper means be successful. How many men want to be successful? Do you notice the connection he's making here? Standing, courage, strong, successful, law.

The key to success and courage is obedience. He gives you courage to obey. I mean, how often did God tell his soldiers to go off into battles that look like they were hopeless, but he said, "I'm with you, so be courageous," and they were victorious? Because they went into battle with God. Now, you realize as we talk about courage, when we talk about battles tonight, we talk about being men, we're using the metaphors of war in the Bible. You know, I really love the way that our producers surrounded the stage here.

That's a very interesting piece back there, the armor of God. And that sword here, if anyone tries to rush the stage, that--I'm ready, this is real. And so, these are, you know, some of the symbols we think of war. And that's because there is a war. There are battles in life.

And we need to know how to win those battles. "Be strong, be very courageous, be careful to do all the law," not some, "which Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you may prosper," be successful, "wherever you go. This book of the law." You know, they already had the first five books in the Bible. This was the Bible in its infancy.

But the Bible they had back then, you know, the Bible during the time of Joshua was the first five books of Moses. And then the Bible they had at the time of David included Joshua, Judges. And then the Bible that they had during the minor prophets included the Psalms of David. And so, the sacred writings were growing, but especially the things that you find in the moral law, those principles. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth," that means be teaching it to the people.

"You shall meditate it," have it in your own heart, "day and night, that you may observe," not just talk about, but, "do according to all," not just some, "that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous." Notice that, successful, prosperous. "And you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong." There's a command here to be strong. This is--now you notice this? Be strong and of good courage, so there you've got it three times.

"Be strong, of good courage, be strong and very courageous, be strong, of good courage, and you will have great success." You know, God is promising that to you and i. And because the very fact he's saying be that means you can be that. Now, that ought to encourage you, amen? A. You have it, don't want you going asleep on me. So, what is courage? God's telling us to be something, what is it? Courage is the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution, bravery.

You need all that not only to fight battles on a battlefield, you need all of that to fight spiritual battles with the enemy. We need courage. You know, right there at the borders of the promised land, God was telling Joshua, "don't be afraid," you know why? Forty years earlier, Joshua was part of a reconnaissance mission that got discouraged. And because they got discouraged on the borders of the promised land 40 years earlier, they wandered for 40 years. And the people that lost faith died in the wilderness.

So, here we are at the borders of the promised land, and God is saying, "be courageous, be very courageous, be courageous. I am with you. Obey all that I tell you. You will succeed, trust me." Now, that's good news. God is telling you the formula for success and victory is to trust him and obey him.

First, you've got to trust, and then you obey. The Bible is full of experiences like that. You know, you can't win battles when you're demoralized. All through the Bible, you can see this. Matter of fact, before they went into battle, Moses instructed the leaders, "tell all the people," this is Deuteronomy 20, verse 8, "before you go to battle, speak to the people, the soldiers, and say, 'what man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his heart weaken the heart of his brethren.

'" Fear is contagious. That's why it's so nice when you get a group of men together, there's an energy, and we can gather strength. You know, one piece of wood by itself doesn't always burn so well. But you mix it up with two or three others, and you can have a good fire. And if you get one person who is throwing water on the fire, he can put out a lot of good logs.

And so he said, "look, if you're afraid, go back." You remember the story of gideon? They start out with this army of 40,000, then they kept whittling it down, ,000, then down to 300. God says, "you've got too many. You're going to take credit." You know, I think it was andrew jackson that said that one man in courage is a majority. And someone else said, "you and the Lord are always a majority." And so, we don't ever have to be afraid if God is with us. This is a message Jesus gave his disciples all the time, "don't be afraid, I am with you.

Fear not, I am with you." But even believers get discouraged. I do and everything I share with you, I'm going to issue a disclaimer right here. Everything I share with you, I'm talking to myself as well. Believers get discouraged. One of the heroes we'll talk about in a moment, Elijah, right after coming off a tremendous victory, he went and ran from a woman, went out, he stood up to 400 men, and then ran from 1 woman, went out into the desert.

And what's with that? You know, I always wondered. How come Peter was ready to pull out a sword and die with Jesus when the soldiers came to arrest him, but when a girl started making fun of him, he snapped? Isn't that right? And Samson could tear the gates off the wall, but he just melted in delilah's lap. Anyway, that's a different sermon. So, he flees, he's 300 miles out in the wilderness, and he prays. He's under a broom tree, some juniper tree, and he says, "o Lord, it's enough, now let me die.

" This is a man that had so much faith and courage that he went to heaven in a fiery chariot. But he got discouraged. So, don't get discouraged if you sometimes get discouraged. It happens to the best. You can also read where it talks about job, man after God's own heart, opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born.

Jeremiah, great prophet of God, "cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me!" Does he sound discouraged? Jonah, "therefore now, o Lord, please take my life. It's better for me to die!" He had just had the courage to March through this enemy city and pronounce doom against them, but then he gets discouraged. And so, you'll see all through the Bible these heroes of courage also had their valleys that they went through. So, don't think, "I'm hopeless," because you've had episodes of discouragement. Just about everybody does.

But you've got to learn how to reach above that. And even at one point, Joshua fell on his knees and said, "we lost this battle, what's happening?" He was bewildered, he didn't understand. But he recovered from that. Now, this series is titled "Mighty Men of God." And that, of course, comes from a title, a phrase that was given to this interesting group of special forces that belonged to king David, David and his mighty men. And matter of fact, the phrase "mighty men" is found 71 times in the Bible.

And David had 37 mighty men. You can read the list of them in Samuel, Samuel, and in Chronicles. You'll find it 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles 11. And you look at the exploits, and you think, "this can't be true. This is like superheroes, the things that these guys did.

" Now, on several occasions, it talked about one or another of David's mighty men, that it says killed 300 enemies in a battle. How do you do that? I mean, that's like Samson, who it says with a jawbone of a donkey, he slew 1,000 men. And so, it makes you wonder about these mighty men. But you know, they weren't always mighty men. They became mighty men from following their leader David.

For instance, you can read that when David first was running for his life, he was living in a cave, he began to gather this army of special forces. It says, "and they went and he departed from there and he escaped to the cave of adullam. And when his brothers and all his Father's house heard it, they went down to him there." And then word drifted out among the people, and it says, "everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became a captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.

" Well, that number grew to 600, and then it grew beyond that, but it was a comparatively small army. Now, would you ever send out notice and say, "all right, we're drafting some men to be part of the special forces. Anybody in debt? We'll take you. Anybody distressed? We'll take you. Anyone out there discontent? We'll take you.

" Doesn't that sound like a pretty motley crew to start with to--you know, you come and you go to human resources, and say, "I'd like to be part of David's army." "Okay, well, here's the criteria. You've got to be discontent, grumbling, in debt." Sounds like it's just this ragtag army of incompetent people. But you look later at the list of David's mighty men, and this group that gathered around him, through following him--they had a great leader. You know, David was a man after God's own heart. They were transformed into an army.

And I challenge you to find one time--do you know the name David is mentioned over 1,000 times in the Bible, more than the name Jesus. You can't find one time when David's soldiers lost a battle. Wouldn't you like to be part of that group of mighty men? Now, one of them in particular is kind of a real interesting subject for me. I don't have time to read through all 37 of David's mighty men. I will just tell you that one of them was named uriah the hittite.

We'll talk about him in a later meeting. But there's this other character, and you can find the story of this one particular battle that really went down in Hebrew history, Samuel 23:9. You'll also find it in 1 Chronicles 11. I'm going to read first 2 Samuel 23:9, "and after him was eleazar The Son of dodo." Now, right away you think this guy--i mean, who would want to say, "who's your dad?" "I'm son of dodo." I'd just say my name's eleazar. I'd never say who I was The Son of, right? Of course, it didn't mean the same thing back then.

"Eleazar The Son of dodo the ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men with David." And not only did David have 37 mighty men, he had, like, the top 3 among the 37. And eleazar was in that group. And it says, "they defied the philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel retreated." They are on the battlefield, some of them got discouraged, they were outnumbered. You know, it was only 400 of them, and maybe there were thousands of philistines, and they all began to fall back and retreat. But it says, "he arose," eleazer, "and he attacked the philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword.

" That means he held the sword--I've got to be careful with this, this is a real sword here, but I think it's duct tape holding it up. You're a man, you can do anything with duct tape, right? A. He held on to it so long in fighting that, when the battle was over, he couldn't undo his hand. Now, that actually happens. Have you ever ridden--i see wayne here.

Have you ever ridden a motorcycle on a cold day for so long that when you get to your destination, you can't open your hand? I see you all nodding. He got in this battle, and he was cutting and slashing and fighting. Let me read it to you here in Chronicles, Chronicles 11:12 through 14, "after him was eleazar The Son of dodo the ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. He was with David." And this adds something else. They all retreated except he and who? He and David.

Eleazar and David stayed when everyone else ran. "He was with David at pasdammim. And there the philistines were gathered for battle, and there was a piece of barley ground. So the people fled." The Israelites fled from the philistines. "But they," David and eleazar, "stationed themselves," you know what that means? They took a stand.

Everyone else is running, they say, "we're not running. We're staying right where we're at." Kind of remembers--reminds me of that time in American history when the english were attacking the American navy, and I think the navy consisted of one boat back then, they called it our navy. And what was his name, John Paul jones? And they said--i think they were on a ship called the bonhomme richard. And they said--the ship was on fire, and it looked like it was--it had been shot up by cannon, and the british officer said to captain jones, he said, "do you surrender?" Do you know what he said? "Surrender? We haven't even begun to fight." And at that point, one of his men threw a grenade in a porthole of the british ship, and it blew up. And they ended up winning the battle.

And you know, David said, "retreat? I'm not retreating." His whole army left him, but he stayed. And he and eleazar fought back to back. And they were going around, it must have been like [inaudible] just going around like a weed-eater through the philistines, and just mowing them down with their swords. They took their stand. You know, we need more men to take a stand today.

We're not defending barley fields. What is--what does grain represent in Bible symbols? "Man doesn't live by bread alone, but every word." They took a stand in a field of grain. And they're going to lay down their lives for it. And we need men in this day and age, where it seems like there's no moral values anymore, that will say, "this is the Word of God. I'm not ashamed to say I believe the Word of God in a very secular culture, and I plan on following the Word of God.

You can do what you want, but I'm taking a stand." That's how you become a mighty man of God. And you know what God says? "You do that, you will be successful. I will not leave you, I will not forsake you." And there they were, David and eleazar, back to back, fighting. You know, Jesus is called The Son of David. And if you go into battle with Christ, you don't lose.

And Jesus has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." Amen? He is The Son of David. And it says, "so the Lord." They defended it, and they killed the philistines, and so the Lord brought about a great victory, an extraordinary victory that day because they wouldn't run. You know, sometimes it's helpful when you take a stand. Sometimes, you need to do it alone. It's really helpful if you've got friends that will help you to take a stand for what's right.

You know, in order to be a successful Christian mighty man in this day and age, it's really valuable for you to have some men friends that you can be open with, that you can trust, that you can be honest with, that you know that what you talk to them about and when you pray with them, it stays between you. And you can hold each other accountable. When Jesus sent out the apostles, you notice he didn't send them one by one. He sent them out two by two. And the Bible says that a three braided rope is not easily broken.

If you've got two or three, you're even stronger. When the missionaries went out, it was Paul and barnabas and Mark, or Paul and silas, or aquila and priscilla and Paul. And then they would strengthen each other as they went out. Do you have some friends? A lot of men are easily overcome, and they get discouraged because they don't really have a Christian friend they can disciple with and they can be open to. And it's a good idea for those who maybe are a little more mature in their walk to maybe take a slightly younger man and, and mentor them, and be like a big brother, and encourage them in the Lord.

This was a plan that they had in the Bible. You know, Peter was a little older than John. But they were a team. You notice they always went out two by two doing things. The Bible talks about three friends that had become so close that they were ready to die together.

You go to the book of Daniel chapter 3, and you've got, you know their names, shadrach, meshach, and abednego. Sounds like the names you'd find on some law firm or something. Now, they had other names, hananiah, mishael, and azariah. But the shadrach, meshach, and abednego is a lot more fun to say, don't you think? Those were their Babylonian names. But the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, he makes a law.

And the law basically says that everybody, when they hear the signal music, the orchestra plays, they're all supposed to bow down, get down on their knees, worship this manmade image. I mean, Nebuchadnezzar said, "I made a God, I want you to worship it." But shadrach, meshach, and abednego had a problem. God's Word, the law that God talked to Joshua about, it said, "you will not make graven images and bow down and pray to them." And they had to make a decision. They were brought to this event, maybe they didn't know what was going on at first, and there's thousands gathered on the plain of dura. And it was probably impressive.

You know, they had some special guests that were there, and they had all the leaders from around the realm, and people are wearing their uniforms and their royal robes. And shadrach, meshach, and abednego are thinking, "boy, just a little while back, we were slaves coming from Judea, and here we are with the who's who of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, and it's kind of nice to be in this crowd." And then they hear what the party's all about. They were supposed to bow and worship an image. And they read the program, and they looked at each other and they said, "we can't do that." But it says here if you don't, fine print, "oh, by the way, those who don't, you're going to be thrown in the furnace," not far away where they smelted the gold. And I'll bet they had some discussion among themselves, and said, "brother, you know, God's taken care of us this far.

He brought us to these positions of influence. Perhaps this is the time for us to use our influence to die for his name. Perhaps he'll deliver us. We don't know what he's got planned, but all we do know is God said, 'do not bow down to images.' We can't do it." And as the moment got close, and there are probably some of the people in the crowd, they knew shadrach, meshach, and abednego. They knew about their worshiping jehovah.

And they were watching, wondering what they're going to do. And there might have been some other officers in the Babylonian court that were jealous that Nebuchadnezzar had taken these former captives and given them these positions in his court. And they thought, "ah, now we got them. Let's see what they're going to do." And they knew heaven was watching. So, finally the signal is given, and the conductor taps his music stand, and he gives the signal, and the orchestra begins to play.

And the music probably was inspiring. You know, and the sun was just starting to go down, and the twilight of the sun was there, and they pulled the rope, and the curtain dropped off this massive golden image that was imposing. They'd never seen anything like it. Everything in their senses, and everything in the environment, and everything visually said this was awesome, makes you want to bow down. You know, in the last days, the deceptions of the beast are going to be so overwhelming that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

So, it's going to take extraordinary fortitude for God's mighty men to stand in the last days, when everyone else is bowing down. Shadrach, meshach, and abednego saw everyone else bowing down. They looked at each other, and they folded their arms, and they stood. They had the courage to stand when everyone else bowed down. Makes it a little easier when you're standing with someone else, right? And you know the story.

Finally, when word reached the King, he said, "look, I like you guys. You know, and you've been good in the court, and I've been impressed. And I tested you once, and you were ten times wiser than everybody else. I'd rather not kill you, but maybe you didn't hear clearly because, you know, you originally come from another language. And Babylonian, chaldean's your second tongue, and let me make this clear.

I'll give you one more chance." The devil would much rather have you compromise. You hear the music. And they could have said, "well, we should think this through, you know? King, is it okay if when you play the music, we just tie our sandals? We won't bow to the image, we'll just--we'll just tie our sandals so it'll look like we're, you know, going along. We don't want to ruin your party." And couldn't they have done that? They wouldn't even compromise. They said, "no, we're going to stand.

We're not even going to look like we're doing what everyone else is doing." And you're going to be mocked, and you're going to be ridiculed, and your job might be threatened, and your status might be threatened, and promotions might be threatened. For them, their lives were going to be threatened. But they decided to stand. And the King said, "I'm going to throw you in the furnace." And one of them said, "we don't want to be careful in answering you on this matter. You don't have to play the music again.

We're not going to bow down. And if our God wants to, he's able to deliver us, if he wants to." You know what that means? If he doesn't, he doesn't. I remember visiting with a very dedicated Christian gentleman who had serious advanced cancer. And he said, "doug, I have peace." He says, "I know God can heal me, and I appreciate your prayers. But if he doesn't," like shadrach, meshach, and abednego, "if he does, great, I know he can.

If he doesn't, I accept that too. My responsibility is to obey God. My responsibility is to be faithful." And when they stood up for God, and they were thrown in the furnace--now, those that threw them in didn't do so well. They were destroyed. But shadrach, meshach, and abednego, the only thing burnt was the ropes that bound them.

And when they came out with their heads high because Nebuchadnezzar called them out--and he was probably a little more respectful when he called them out than when he sent them in. And those who were mocking them when they were thrown in were probably holding their tongues when they came out. And because they stood tall, the King made a declaration that went to the then-known world, or at least the Babylonian empire, because they stood when everyone else bowed down. You know, all of us, if you're faithful to God, you are going to have an opportunity to stand. It might be when people are talking about things that are unsavory around a cubicle in an office, and you don't laugh at the joke because you know this isn't what the Lord wants.

But when you stand, others, they'll look at you. And some might jeer, and some might scoff, but for God's mighty men, it's more important what God thinks of you than what the world thinks of you. And boy, there is no limit to what the Lord could do in this world and for the church if men would stand courageously for their convictions. If we would do what God challenged Joshua to do and stand for the word, though the heavens fall, the greatest want in the world is people like that. Now, I mentioned Elijah a minute ago.

Sometimes, you've got to stand alone. And Elijah really got--he was honored by God because when everybody else was either hiding in a cave, or bowing down to baal, Elijah had the holy boldness and audacity to March in to the King and say, "there's not going to be any rain or any dew except at my word because you are worshiping the wrong God." And then he had to live out in the wild, get fed by birds, and later by a widow, and went through all kinds of struggles. Finally, God says, "all right, go show yourself to ahab." And Elijah could have said, "Lord, just before I do that, just want to make sure you know that ahab has my picture posted on every telephone pole around Israel, say 'wanted: dead or alive, and big reward,' and you want me to just go show myself to him? He has been looking all over, that I have been on--" you know, the fbi, those on its top ten fbi list, most wanted list, you've heard about that? They almost always find them. There's a few that have managed to evade capture, but almost always on that list get special attention. Well, they all get special--those in the top ten fbi wanted list, they get special attention.

They have people dedicated to combing the world to find them. I heard some very interesting cases. And ahab was sending the other nations looking for Elijah. And every time he came home, jezebel was really mad too because they gave baal the credit for all the rain. But God said to Elijah, "go show yourself to ahab.

Be courageous, be very courageous. I am with you, you will be successful." So, he gets up, and he goes, and he presents himself to ahab. And ahab says, "there you are, you troubler of Israel." And he has the boldness to say, "I'm not the problem with Israel. You are the problem with Israel." You don't say that to the King. You know, God needs more mighty men who are willing to say things no one else has the courage to say.

Say it politely, but say it boldly. You ever heard somebody speak up like that, and the whole room goes quiet because a person said something that needed to be said that nobody would say? God needs more people like that. If you're willing to let the Lord talk through you, he'll give you the words. And so Elijah says, "no, you're the problem." And then Elijah starts giving the King orders. He said, "that same God that I told you wasn't going to let it rain for three and a half years told me to tell you to go gather all of Israel together, and we're going to settle this issue.

" the King now is obeying the prophet who is wearing the hairy garment and a belt. And they got all of Israel together. And this is a showdown between Elijah--and you know what the word "Elijah" means? "My God is jehovah." His name really is a symbol for what he was all about. And he says to all the people, "if God is God, then serve him. If baal is God, serve him.

I serve jehovah. If your God is real, tell you what, there's 450 of you, there's one of me." Those aren't very good odds. Do you know it's almost like our culture today. Have Christians ever been the majority, real Christians? Or did Jesus say broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many go there, and straight and narrow is the way that leads to life? He doesn't want it that way, but very few people have the courage to swim against the current. Very few people have the courage to go against the trends and the culture.

You know, you could turn a whole country around if men would really stand up for principle and the Word of God, if we'd hear these outrageous things being said in our society and say, "that's not right. That's wrong." You'd be surprised, you'd hear other people go, "I'm with you." You know, there's a lot of people that still worshiped God in Israel in the days of Elijah. Matter of fact, Elijah said, "I'm the only one left," and God said, "you know, actually, there's 7,000, but they're not speaking up like you. There's 7,000 that don't worship baal, but they've been quiet about their convictions." Elijah was up there on the mountain, and he said, "who's on the Lord's side?" Nobody said anything. Four hundred and fifty to one.

You've got have courage to stand against those odds, don't you? And then you know the story. They made two altars. And the prophets of baal, they danced and screamed around their altar all day long. And they got their sacrifice on the altar, and they were trying to, you know, wish it on fire, and all they gathered was flies. And then Elijah used a little bit of sanctified sarcasm, and he said, "now, if your God's real, just cry a little louder.

Maybe he's busy, could be sleeping." It's good to know God has a sense of humor. And finally, at the end of the day, when nobody even paid attention to them anymore, he gathered the people together, he repaired the altar of the Lord, and he put the sacrifice on the altar, he said, "now, I want you to douse it with water." And they doused it with just 2 or 3 55-gallon drums of water. And then at the end of the day, he prays a simple prayer. And you can find this in 1 Kings chapter 18, "it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and he said, 'Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant, and that I've done all these things at Your Word. Hear me, o Lord, hear me, that this people might know that you are the Lord, and that you've turned their hearts back to you again.

'" Very short prayer. They'd been praying all day long. You time this, it's like a 15-second prayer. But that prayer, out of a cloudless sky that had just been burning for three and a half years, all of a sudden lightning flashed down like a great arc welder, that's how I picture it. Any of you guys weld? Big arc welder came out of the sky, focused lightning right on that altar, and it burned up the sacrifice, it burned up the wood, it burnt up the rocks, it vaporized the water.

And there's this big crater there. Then the lightning goes away, and all you can hear is the sizzling steam of the water, and the smoke going up. And all the people fall down on their faces and say, "the Lord, he is God." You know what they're saying? "Elijah, Elijah," because that's what Elijah's name is, "my Lord is jehovah." And they say, "the Lord is jehovah." All of a sudden, the prophets of baal start looking at their watches and going, "you know, I think we got another appointment." And they began to start--and they thought, "we're in the majority, we're going to win." But you remember what we said? You and God are always the winning team. You and God are always the majority. You're never alone when you stand with God.

The apostles stood with courage. You look at Peter and some of them in their early days, and they were so scared. As I mentioned, Peter was intimidated and denied Christ. And they all forsook him and fled. But Jesus used to say, "why are you so afraid?" In the storm, they all got scared.

"Master, we're perishing." "Why are you afraid? You're with me. You don't ever have to be afraid if you're with me. I told you to cross the ocean. I didn't say there wouldn't be a battle. I didn't say there wouldn't be a storm.

I didn't say there wouldn't be waves and wind. I'm with you, don't be afraid." You can go anywhere God tells you to go if he's with you, right? Sometimes, we forget that he's with us. And when you're tempted, you're not alone. God says, "I'll be with you." And then afterward, after they had been reminded of that truth that Jesus was always with them, they were brought before the council, they were threatened, "if you continue to preach in Jesus' Name, we're going to punish you, imprison you, maybe kill you." And you know what Peter said? That Peter who had denied Jesus a little earlier? He stood firmly and he said, "we ought to obey God rather than men." He wasn't afraid, and they were amazed at the courage and the boldness, and they took knowledge that they had been with Jesus. We don't have to be afraid when Christ is with us.

You know, several years ago, I was pastoring a little church. And one of my deacons elbowed me, and he said, "you know who that is?" And I said, "no." And he pointed to an old couple that was making their way up to the front of the church. He said, "that's desmond doss. You know, the war hero, got the congressional medal of honor." And I was really excited because our family just read the book together. Ended up his wife, Frances, had family that were members of our church, and so we got to know each other.

And then he'd come to Sacramento. I saw him different places when I preached back in tennessee. Just an incredible man. I don't know if you've heard the story, but a dedicated seventh day adventist Christian who actually volunteered during world war ii in 1942 as a conscientious objector. He says, "I want to help.

I want to do my part, I'm thankful for our freedoms, but I'm not going to take up a gun and hurt anybody, I'll be a medic." And you know, the recruiters, they'll say, "sure, sure, no problem, whatever you want." I don't know if you've ever been in the service, but recruiters will promise you the moon. And you say, "you know, yeah, and I want to fly a jet." "Sure, no problem." And you end up cleaning the latrine. And he said, "yeah, no gun," "yeah, no problem." So, he signed up, and finally when his officers--even the medics had to carry a weapon. And when they found out that, first of all he said, "I won't do any unnecessary work on Sabbath." And the recruiter said, "yeah, no problem." And they said, "yeah, that is a problem." When he finally joined, he said, "well, I can't do it." And they threatened him, and they put him in the brig, and they made him peel potatoes and clean the latrine. And they--and he said, "I'm not going to carry a gun.

" Can you imagine that? And the other soldiers said, "you mean you won't defend me when I'm on the battlefield? I can't count on you because you're not going to be able to defend me." And he was ostracized, and he was ridiculed, and they gave him a very hard time, but he stood for his convictions. You know, to be a Christian man doesn't mean you got to have big muscles. To be a mighty man of God, it never says that the guys who were David's mighty men were muscular. But they had conviction, and they had followed David. The Bible says David was handsome, never said he was buff.

Did you know that? So, doss stood for his convictions. Finally, they got on the battlefield, and they found out what he was really made of. He had an inner strength. And some of the people that were bigmouths on the battlefield ran when the bullets started to fly, but not doss. And I want to just read you the citation that was given to him.

And this is actually--this was issued by the government back when he received his medal. It says, "he was in a company, he was a company aid man, a medic, when the first battalion asSaulted a jagged escarpment." They just made a movie about this called "hacksaw ridge," four hundred feet high. "As troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire crashed in, afflicting approximately 75 casualties, and driving others back. Pfc, private first class, doss," they would never promote him, "refused to seek cover, and reMained in a fire-swept area," means swept by enemy fire, a blizzard of bullets. "He refused to seek cover with the stricken, carrying all 75 casualties, one by one, to the edge of the escarpment, and lowering them on a rope-supported leader down the face of the cliff to friendly hands.

On may 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing the wounded--a wounded man 200 yards forward of the enemy line. On the same escarpment 2 days later, he treated 4 men who had been cut down while asSaulting a strongly-defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips, under constant fire, to evacuate them to safety. On may 5--" and those who reported later when he got his medal said, "this was supernatural. He had something taking care of him." Because there was a withering blizzard of bullets going all around him, and they didn't hit him. You stand up for God, he'll stand up for you.

"May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages and moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administering plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, pfc doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered him aid, carried him 100 yards," that's a football field, "to safety." He was my size. "While constantly exposed to enemy fire. On may 21, in a night attack on high ground near shuri, he reMained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an enemy.

Rather than call another man to his aid after he was injured, he gave his gurney to someone else." Time and time again, he was protected. Finally, they threw a grenade in a group he was at, he went and kicked it away. He was wounded by the grenade, as well as being wounded by bullets, gave his stretcher to someone else. While he was waiting for a stretcher, he was hit again a third time by sniper fire, crawled three football fields by himself, splinted his own arm. Incredible courage.

Now, do you think any of the other soldiers teased him after that? They gave him the highest medal that can be awarded to an American for bravery because he stood for his convictions. In our time together this weekend, when we're talking about what it means to stand with courage, we're not talking about military battles. We're talking about standing in a culture where Christians are under attack. And I just wonder, as we close, how many of you want to say, "by God's grace, I want to be one of his mighty men that will stand for the right though the heavens fall"? Why don't we stand together and let's ask him as we close? Dear Father, we pray that you will give us that courage that we talked about. Be with each of these men, and bless them with your spirit.

And I pray that you'll help us to be men of courage that stand for the right in these last days. We pray in Jesus' Name, amen. Doug: you know, friends, one of the fastest-growing forms of crime out there right now is identity theft. That's where these unscrupulous people will capture a person's social security number, their driver's license number, personal information. And with that, they're able to take over their bank account, loot all of their assets, and sometimes just take over their lives.

Well, you know, the devil is a master of identity theft. And this is so important to understand because Jesus said it's crucial that we have faith to be saved. Without faith, you can't please God. The just will live by faith. And the devil has been stealing the identity of God's people for 6,000 years.

Well, that's why I wrote this recent book called "who do you think you are?" We think it's so important for people to understand who they are in Christ, how to have saving faith and peace, knowing that you belong to God. If you'd like a free copy, we'll send it to you. All you have to do is contact the number on your screen, and then promise when you read it, you'll share it with someone else. [Music]

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