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Battlefield 1

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The Battlefield
Part 1
"The Devil's Bully"
1 Sam. 17:1-3 "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. 2 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. 3 The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them."
If you were to ask someone from our generation about famous fights, you might hear about the boxing match between...
"Smokin' Joe Frazier and Mohammad Ali" in what was called worldwide simply, "THE FIGHT," on March 8, 1971. (Frazier won with a devastating left hook in the final round).
Or you might hear about what was billed "THE FIGHT OF THE MILLENNIUM" between Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya on Sept. 18, 1999. (Trinidad won in a close decision from the judges.)
Or more recently there was the bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, called the "FIGHT OF THE CENTURY." Mayweather won, and walked away with around $180 million!
But in all of history there is no more famous fight than the one between David and Goliath--though it was a single-round, one-sided knockout victory for David.
It was quick, but the stakes could not have been higher.
Israel at this time was under it's first king--Saul.
Though Saul had started out well, he had repeatedly failed in his obedience to God.
He was impatient, petulant, lacking in trust toward God, disobedient to the Lord's commands, and was ultimately disqualified from his position.
The Prophet Samuel said to him after one particularly grievous act of disobedience...
"But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you" (1 Samuel 13:14).
From this point Saul spiraled down into the mouth of madness, with escalating fits of despondency and paranoia.
Worst of all, the Bible says "the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him" (1 Sam 16:14).
So with their king in rapid decline, it is understandable that Israel was also in decline---both in their faithfulness toward God, and in their might as an army.
Weak leadership had trickled down to infect the entire nation!
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Now....It's important to remember here that the 12 tribes of Israel had been MIGHTY in days gone by.
They had conquered city after city of giants in their conquest of Canaan.
At the height of their success even their very approach was enough to cause the hearts of their enemies to melt from fear.
But now we find God's army totally defeated---quivering in fear, hiding in their tents from the taunts of one solitary giant, Goliath.
They are a SAD SHADOW of what they once had been!
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Weak militarily, weak spiritually, and weak in leadership....Israel was in deep trouble and vulnerable.
Enter Goliath!
His message to them was simple and unnerving...
"Send out your best warrior....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" (1 Samuel 17:8-9).
Everything was on the line!
God's chosen people, BIRTHED through Abraham, DELIVERED from Egypt, and CALLED to make God known to the world, were now on the verge of extinction----reduced to slavery to the very giants God had called them to conquer!
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Now, Goliath has always been a type of Satan.
Like Satan, he taunted God's people, mocked their faith, blasphemed their God, threatened them, and sought to strip them of their freedom.
Goliath really was the DEVIL'S BULLY!
And nothing has changed....
God's people are still attacked by giants that mock our faith, blaspheme our God, threaten us, and that seek to bring us into slavery to themselves.
And that's why this SERIES ON WARFARE, because...
Giantsare not some figment of your imagination.
Giantsare not something that you dream up.
Giantsare real problems, pressures, pains, and persecutions we all face from time to time...
Many of you listening to this message are facing a GIANTright now.
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And in case you wonder if you are, Let me DEFINE for you what a giant is....
A “giantis anything that DISTRACTS you from your focus on God, that DETOURS you from your service for God, and DRAINS you of your passion for God.
This is exactly the effect Goliath had on Israel's army.
They were FOCUSED on Goliath, not God....they were no longer SERVING God for fear of Goliath, and all the PASSION for God Israel was known for was gone!
We see them quivering in their tents DISTRACTED, DETOURED, and DRAINED!
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Let me call out some of the Giantsyou may be facing right now...
There is the Giant of Resentment, Fear, Loneliness, Guilt & Shame, Worry, Discouragement, Jealousy, Depression, Hopelessness, Bitterness, or Doubt...
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These are some of the giants that oppose God in our life.
They DISTRACT us; DETOUR us; and DRAIN us of being what God intends for us to be.
They taunt God's working in our lives, and challenge His ability to change or deliver us...
So the primary purpose for this series on Spiritual Warfare is to point out...
The Giantsin our lives must be defeated and removed!
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So let's go to this well-known account of the battle between David and Goliath, because it's a great illustration of the battles we face today!
As 1 Samuel 17 opens we see first that...
The battle took place in a valley
The Bible records that Israel encamped in the "valley of Elah (ay-law')"...
It says, "The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a VALLEY between them" (17:2-3).
As it was with Israel, most of your toughest battles with Giants will take place in a VALLEY experience...
The Bible talks about several DIFFERENT KINDS of valleys...
Joshua talks about the Valley of Calamity
Psalm 84 talks about the Valley of Weeping
Hosea talks about the Valley of Trouble
David saw valleys as a place of SHADOWS...."Yea, though I walk through the valley of the SHADOW of death..."
We could switch that and change it from the valley of the shadow to "The shadows of the valley."
Valleys are places that don't receive direct sun, hence valleys are cast with shadows instead...
David's valley in Ps. 23 actually means The Valley of Deep Darkness.
One Bible translation reads, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley."
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It is our souls that go through valley experiences, cast with shadows...
David was in a soul valley when he wrote, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me?" (Ps 42:5)
Valleys of the soul are lonely and desolate...
You feel like no one really UNDERSTANDS the valley you're in...
Sometimes there seems to be no end to it!
Valleys can be unnerving, unsettling...we'd much rather be on the mountaintop!
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But I've learned through the years that valleys don't last forever...
"Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:5).
And here's some free advice: The best way to get out of a valley is to keep on walking!
There's a great song by Steve and Annie Chapman that says:
"Keep on walkin', you don't know how far you've gone
Keep on walkin', for all you know it may be done
And the Father might be standin' up right now to make the call
To end it all, so keep on walkin"
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And there's good news where valleys with giants are concerned...
It's in the valley where the richest fruit is grown...
Mountaintops grow very little, but valleys are lush with vegetation!
And it's in the valley that you feel a strong, gentle hand take hold of your hand...
It's the hand David also felt when he wrote, "In the valley of the shadow, YOU are with ME!"
It's in the valley experiences where our relationship with Jesus is deepened, and our trust in Him is strengthened!
And it's also in the valley where that same Hand teaches us how to fight spiritual battles!
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Israel encountered the GIANT OF ALL GIANTS in a valley.
Yet the valley is where their greatest victory took place!
Perhaps you're in a valley today, and in that valley you've encountered the biggest giant of your life.
Can I tell you, your giant is not greater than the greatest giant killer of all time--the Lord Jesus Christ!
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Then, next we see that the Philistine's favorite method of attack in the valley was...
II. A bullying campaign
Their bullying campaign was geared to INTIMIDATING Israel into PARALYSIS.
To achieve this they sent out the most INTIMIDATING CREATURE on the planet---the giant Goliath.
Goliath was the poster boy of paralyzing intimidation!
He was FRIGHTENING---an overwhelming monster of a man rolled into a 9 foot tall beast (2 feet taller than Shaquille O'Neal)!
His booming voice echoed through the valley like it was shouted through modern day concert speakers.
His dark countenance and mocking grin were the stuff of nightmares.
He was armed head to toe with armor that glistened in the sun with blinding brilliance.
He was like an Old Testament army tank, a fully weaponized killing machine.
And the "Goliath intimidation campaign" worked!
Verse 11 of our Scripture passage says, On hearing the Philistines words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
Dismayed and terrified....translated---SCARED SPITLESS!
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This is a perfect picture of what giants do...
They DISTRACT you, DETOUR you, and DRAIN you through intimidation and discouragement.
It is what your giant is attempting to do to you right now!
Have you noticed....We live in a culture that is increasingly taking on the same mode of attack as Goliath...
INTIMIDATION is the tactic of the day, and Political Correctness is the spearhead of Satan's modern-day INTIMIDATION campaign.
Watch what you say so you don't offend someone,
Keep your mouth shut with all that God stuff,
Don't call sin sin,
Don't judge in any way shape or form what others do, even though what they're doing is totally wrong and sometimes flat out insane...
Satan is attempting to INTIMIDATE the church into silence...
He wants us right where Israel was---quivering in our tents!
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FACT: If the church is going to make a difference in a nation that is collapsing, we must win the victory over the devil's intimidation campaign!
In the days of the early church, the disciples REFUSED to be intimidated by Rome's threats.
When Rome commanded the disciples to "not preach any more in Jesus' name," they replied saying, "We must obey God rather than man!"
They were fearless, bold, and unstoppable in their testimony of Jesus Christ
We see that Peter was defeated by the giant of INTIMIDATION at Jesus' arrest when he denied the Lord 3 times...
But Jesus gave him another chance and he won the battle!
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And there's another type of intimidation Satan uses....
Many listening to me right now have been intimidated by personal failure, shame, and discouragement.
The Goliath giant in your life accuses you, shames you, and tries to use your failures to silence you...
He mocks your God, defies His purpose for you, and taunts your faith...
You had a hard time coming to church today because you felt condemned, intimidated by your failures....
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But here's the good news....In the valley of warfare,
III. Israel's champion arose...
Think about it: THEY KNEW NOTHING about David, the champion that was amongst them, until Goliath brought him out!
Likewise, The valley of your warfare is the place where you will discover the champion that lives in you!
As the old song says,
"If I'd never had a problem, I'd never know that God could solve them, I'd never know what faith in His Word could do!"
In your valley today, there is a champion within you...
You're about to see what He can do with that giant!
As David stepped forward to confront Goliath, Jesus is stepping forward to confront your giant!
David the giant killer wrote, "Let God arise, Let His enemies by scattered!" (Ps. 68:1)
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The battle took place in a valley
It was a bullying intimidation campaign
The champion amongst them became known in the valley of battle
LET'S PRAY
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