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Sword In - Dirt Out

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Sword In – Dirt Out

New Hope Baptist Church

April 25, 2004

Judges 3:15-22

Hebrews 4:12

I have a vivid memory of my sister chasing me down our street with a spoon and a bottle in hand.  I must have been around 12 or so.  I had been coughing and I was full of cold.  She was always paranoid about my health since our mother had just died, and she was now looking after me.  Well, I would have rather been sick than to take what was in that bottle.

          At my insistence she had tried all of the temporary fixes for my cold.  You know, cough syrup, Vicks, contact and what have you, but she knew in order to get that cold out of me, she needed to get that castor oil inside of me.  When she caught me she straddled my body, pinched my nose until I had to open my mouth, and just poured that nasty stuff down my throat.  It would have been much easier for both of us had I just taken it with the little orange juice like she had offered, but I just didn’t want what was good for me because it tasted so bad going down. 

          Some of you know what I’m talking about.  If you wanted to play around with a cold for a while, you’d take contact, cough syrup, cough drops and stuff like that; Band-aids that only paused or covered up the cold; Band-aids that treated the symptoms rather than deal directly with the cold.  But if you wanted to get that cold out of you, you had to endure some difficult tasting stuff like castor oil, black drought or cod liver oil.  You had to get it on the inside and the cold and unhealthy stuff would come on the outside.

          The text that is before us today deals with such an episode.  In many instances in the Bible and in our everyday vernacular, the word “sword” is referred to as the Word of God.  So, we could restate the topic to “Word in – Dirt Out”.  Paul, in Ephesians, tells us that part of our armor in the army of God is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  It is the only offensive part of our armor as Christians.  But all too often, Christians have learned how to wear other pieces of armor, but they fail to be able to use the offensive piece in battle with the enemy or with self.  It is the self that I want to speak to today. 

I’m not talking about using God’s Word to get “things”.  I talking about using God’s Word to defeat the pitfalls of your humanness, your egos, your procrastinations and your insincerities that have kept you from knowing Him in the most personal way; that have kept you from experiencing the true victory and satisfaction of having your heart filled with His Word for your life; the sheer joy in knowing for yourself what He has planned just for you.  I’m talking about putting the Word of God so deep and secure into your very being that there is just no room for the dirt of the world, the dirt of old habits, the dirt of false beliefs, the dirt of playing with sin, the dirt of only being familiar with God, the dirt!  If you put the sword in, the dirt will come out!

          My sister knew that the castor oil would help me because she had taken it herself before.  You cannot and will not be offensive in the right way towards dirt using the word of God until you have properly inflicted yourself.  So, with your prayers today, we will see from our text how to achieve Preparation of the sword, Presentation of the sword, and Proclamation of the sword.

          Allow me to bring you up to speed on our text today.  At this time in Israel’s history Joshua had died and the people plunged into idolatry.  They owned the Promised Land but they didn’t possess it.  They had failed to dislodge the inhabitants; therefore, they couldn’t enjoy it.  They had begun to worship the idols and God would allow the kings of the foreign nations to gain rule over the people of Israel.  When Israel had enough, they would cry out to God, and He in His mercy, would send relief.  After Joshua’s death, there was no successor named, so God would call a man or a woman up from one of the tribes to lead the people. 

The first judge, Othniel, had come from the tribe of Judah.  Now, we see Ehud, the second judge, from the tribe of Benjamin.  The Bible tells us that Ehud was a left-handed man and that he was successful in killing King Eglon through a masterful strategy.  Thus we see his masterful Preparation unfold. 

Let’s look at the king, Eglon:  He was very fat and he represented the situation that Ehud needed to deal with.  Eglon’s name in Hebrew means “little Calf”, so he was the fatted calf ready for slaughter.  He gloated over the people of Israel and demanded their attention to his need to be kept fat, so they sent gifts to feed his ego and enhance his fatness.  You see, fat situations demand constant attention and feeding; that’s how they stay greasy and get so dirty.  They demand allegiance. 

          The thing to note about Ehud is that he was left-handed: (that is a statement of fact, but there is much more behind it)

o       He was a Benjamite – ambidextrous people

o       Term “left-handed” in original text means he was forced to use his left hand due to a physical defect in his right hand.

o       He was a little, physically challenged man called by a Big God to achieve a masterful plan

In his preparation: he did three things:

o       He made the sword – made two edges, 18 inches long, handled it himself, took time with it, made it personal, got to know it

o       He hid the sword – on his right side, (Most men carried their sword on the left side), he could easily reach it, it was his favorite thing, dear to his heart

o       He secured the sword -- tied it to his thigh, kept it protected, available and accessible.  It was tenable, sound and healthy, defensible and justifiable.  You see he didn’t want to lose it.

In like manner, to be proficient with the word of God today, you have to give it proper preparation.  You have to handle it for yourself.  You have to get to know it.  Get personal with it.  You can’t get to know it well enough if you don’t study and read it for yourself.  Sunday mornings just won’t do it.  The Bible laying on the coffee table won’t make it.  You have to open it, handle it, and make it yours.  Meditate upon it and memorize it.  I believe David said:  “Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against God.” 

But Ehud needed to put his plan into action.  He needed an audience with the king, but he had to deal with some fat situations in order to make his presentation:

o       He faced the situation – he gained entry to the king by feeding his greed, he did not puff himself up but used his disability as strength.

o       He acknowledged the situation’s authority - by paying   tribute to the king (he acknowledged the problem), he didn’t act like it didn’t exist, he realized that the situation needed to be handle outside of his own strength and ability.

o       He inundated the situation with the sword – he swamped and flooded the situation with the sword, until the situation was void of all dirt.  He presented his weapon at the proper time, he loaded it into the situation and he made a strong statement.

  Sometimes you have to get around some problems in order to make your presentation.  Sometimes you need to be quiet and not boast about who you think you are.  Sometimes, your quietness will speak volumes.  But when your opportunity comes, you need to be well prepared to present your sword soundly, defensibly, and directly.  You should flood the situation with the sword of the Spirit.

What situations in your life today need the presentation of the sword?  Are you running from them and hiding?  Do you not know and believe that the weapons of your warfare are not carnal, but that they are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds?  God has not left you defenseless, but well armed for any situation in life.  How fat is your situation today?  As long as you let it continue to sit in your life, eating at your expense and emptying its dirt into your life, you will remain owner of the land but your won’t possess it.  Or, God may be owner of your life, but He can’t fully possess it because you have given control of your life to a fat situation.

          Whatever your fat situation is, you need to do a presentation of the sword:  is it lust or envy? – Love not the world neither the things in the world.  Is it a need for food, shelter, clothes? – Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Is it temptation by the enemy?  Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.  Is it a monumental trial of life? – Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Whatever may be your situation today, God says:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  “And my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Finally, after Ehud had killed the “fatted calf”, after he had presented the sword into the situation at the proper time and in the proper manner, he made his Proclamation:

o       He blew the trumpet – he told others what had happened.  

o       He gave credit where it belonged – to the Lord.  It was not his own strength that had brought victory, but the word and power of God.

o       He encouraged others – he told them how the Lord had already defeated the enemy, and then he led them into battle, already victorious.

In the same way, you have been instructed that as you go in the world to baptize, teach and make disciples of people.  You are to tell them of all the things Jesus has done to give them the opportunity to spend eternity in His presence.  But, if you have not experienced the victory of those truths in your own lives, how can you tell others in a convincing way?

What are you doing with the word of God today?  How does your sword look?  Is it dull from a lack of use?  Have the beetles and termites eaten away at the handle to that you can’t hold it properly?  Can you really make a proclamation about the goodness of the Lord today?

          Israel would obey the Lord today and serve other gods next week.  God means for His children to trust Him daily and in every situation of life.  He means for His children to rest in His word and to apply it to their daily lives.  Hebrews says that the “word of God is living and active and sharper that any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  You need to trust God and His word today to do just what He says it will.  Ehud made a two-edge sword to compensate for his disability.  He wanted to make sure that one stick would do; No matter which way he turned the blade, it would cut.  But the real sword, the Word of God, is sharper that any two-edged sword.  It is more decisive, a single stroke cuts deep; it’s piercing, meaning it will penetrate the most calloused heart and smooth the roughest situation, it will go through; it is a discerner – it is skilled in judging your intents (your moral understanding of right and wrong); of your heart (your feelings, your passions, desires, appetites, purposes and endeavors); it judges your intelligence, your will and your character.

          Ehud thrust the sword into Eglon’s belly, within the womb, the seat of hunger, where one’s mental faculties abide.  You need to get the Word into your bellies today, the birthplace of evil thoughts and intentions.  Remember the laxatives I spoke about in the beginning?  Well, they are all temporary compared to the Word of God.  Those laxatives, are like sweet sounding words, lies about your lifestyle and situations, denying your need for cleansing and compromising with the world and acting like the world in your daily lives, those are just temporary aids.  They only relieve the feces and dirt from anus (I just need to be graphic today) and that just gives a temporary easing to make room for more dirt to accumulate; but when you take in the Word of God, into your belly, into your heart, the birthplace of evil, the birthplace of compromise, the birthplace of denial and ignorance, those things will eventually die and the dirt will come out and your belly will shrink.  The more Word you put in, the more dirt will come out.  The Word is not fattening, it just make one more muscular, stronger and able to withstand temptations.  Eventually, what you give birth to will change; what you meditate upon will change because it cuts asunder the thoughts, the intentions of the heart.

          Eglon was sitting in his chamber room.  Today, we would say that he was in the toilet.  The place he went to relieve himself.  Some of you come to the church building on Sundays just to relieve yourselves.  You come for a two hour fix, a retreat from the norm and then you return into the world on Monday to take in more of the same old junk with no means of defense. 

          God is saying to you this morning that He has a true fix.  The Word will really do the job.  It will go to the source, the birthplace of your thoughts, your intention, your hungers, your thirsts and desires.  The Word will give new meaning to these things.  The Word in you will make you stronger to resist in the time of temptations.  If the Word dwells in you richly, if you have prepared by the reading and study of the word, if you have taken it into your bosom, become familiar with it, then when you attempt to present it, you will be able to teach and admonish others, you will gain in wisdom and have a heart of gratitude towards God.  The Word in you is sound teaching, it is trustworthy and sound doctrine, it is not something new on the scene.  1 John says that it is an old command; God is as good as His Word.

          After Ehud made his proclamation, he led the army into battle and they defeated the Moabites, killing 10,000 of their best soldiers.  Not only that, but the tables were also turned and the Moabites became subject to Israel. 

          Whatever your situation is today that is getting the best of you, whatever is making you subservient, whatever is compromising your witness in and for the Lord, you can turn the tables on today.  Jesus has instructed us not to be afraid of the world because He has overcome the world.  He’s left us the battle plan, the weaponry and the Holy Spirit leading the way.  And the battle is already won.  But unless you have ingested the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, for yourselves, you’re a soldier without a offensive weapon, and the enemy is getting some good licks in.  You don’t have to take all those licks.  You are allowed to strike back!  I can tell you about some people that struck back:

          Moses used the sword – “Let My people go!”  When Joshua led Israel in the valley against Ai, he said “you shall do it according to the word of the Lord.”  When Gideon led his men against the Medianites, they shouted “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”  When Barak was afraid to go out against Sisera, Deborah went with him because she said; “For the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.”  And, He did!  When Elisha was given only 20 loaves of bread and grain he ordered it to be fed to a hundred men.  When his servant protested, Elisha said, “thus says the Lord, they shall eat and have some left over.”

          When Daniel refused to worship king Darius and was thrown into the lions’ den, he reported to the king, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me.”  Sometimes, you may have to just trust in the Lord and depend on His word and say like Esther: “If I perish, I perish.”  

          With the world gone crazy today, women looking for a good woman; men on the down low; and children caught in the middle – you might have to stand up in the midst and agree with Joshua – “choose ye this day whom you will serve….but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

          Or, to rid situations of crippling things, like Peter and John who encountered the lame beggar at the gate Beautiful, Peter said “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you:  In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk.” But you need to always remember where your help comes from, like Paul as he contemplated on how he would keep from doing wrong when he wanted to do right, he wondered “Oh retched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of sin?”, he answered:  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

          The Bible says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among men.  But later, Jesus died.  He died so you could live.   He died so you would know how much the Word loved you.  He died.  He was buried for three days, but early on Sunday morning He rose from the dead.  He got up so you could one day go up.  He got up so you could come to know the Word personally.  He got up so that you would have a word to share.  He got up so you wouldn’t have to stay down.  He got up!

Do you want your life changed, do you want power and strength in temptations, do you want to change the way you think, the way you act, and the things that you do?  Then, put the sword (the word of God) in and the dirt will come out.

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