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Are you Ready Armed?

SLAM Annual Meeting  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Short message preached at the 2018 SLAM Annual Meeting to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who participate in this wonderful prison ministry.

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The King’s Men

When Saul died the kingdom now turned over to David who was accumulating many mighty men to help lead the nation of Israel.

Ready Armed According to the Word

Note though the very first characteristic that Scripture mentions of those who are part of the band that joins David - they are ready armed, for what? For war.
But not only does this tell us what they are doing in our passage, but also WHY they have done it - “according to the word of the Lord.” ()
And why would they be armed for war?
And this then begs the two questions for us:
Because as this verse ends it is “according to the word of the Lord.”
This then begs the same question for every one of us today:

Are you ready armed for war according to the Word of the Lord?

It would be remiss of us to think we are armed and ready when we don’t even know how to arm ourselves and for what means we need to be ready.
Hopefully you’ve read your Bible and you’ve discovered how you can be ready for war each and every day.
Ephesians 6:11–18 KJV 1900
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Ephesians 6:11–17 KJV 1900
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Ephesians 6:11–16 KJV 1900
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
of the things we need to be ready of as it outlines for us in
Have you put your whole armour on today? Or did you only put on a piece or two? It’s important as Paul explains here in Ephesians for us to put on the “whole armour of God” because the battle is serious.
Have you put your whole armour on today? Or did you only put on a piece or two? It’s important as Paul explains here in Ephesians for us to put on the “whole armour of God” because the battle is serious.
And thankfully Scripture informs us of the things we need to be ready of as it outlines for us in
Have you put your whole armour on today? Or did you only put on a piece or two? It’s important as Paul explains here in Ephesians for us to put on the “whole armour of God” because the battle is serious.
Ephesians 6:11–12 KJV 1900
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12 KJV 1900
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
We are fighting in a war against:
So why do we need our armour? We need to be ready to:
The wiles of the devil; and
Wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places
If we fail to put all elements of our armour on we become easy targets. I even remember one American preacher exhorting some Christians of the day by stating that there are too many spiritual streakers on the battlefield - all they have on is their helmet of salvation!
Within our passage Scripture shows reveals several interesting characteristics of the tribes who join David:
But not only are we told to put the whole armour of God on because of the spiritual warfare surrounding us, but that we must be ready armed to give an answer as outlined in the slides:
And not only are we told to put on our whole armour, but that we must needs be ready to give an answer as outlined in my favourite verse:
1 Peter 3:15 KJV 1900
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
We have the sword which is our offensive weapon and the way we use it is by giving answers to questions in a meek and mild manner. We have the power of the Word of God when we use it and we allow God to work in the hearts and minds of those we come across within the prison.
And this is why, when we turn back to our passage in that one of the common qualities and characteristics mentioned about the men who join David in battle are labelled as being:
Let’s return back to our passage and see what other characteristics are mentioned of the men from each tribe:

Expert in War

There is multiple mentions within this passage that these men were not new recruits, rather they were experts in war.
Being an expert in war would mean these men have had experience fighting within the trenches and would know how to fight, how to defend, how to pull rank, how to command and lead a band and how to strategise for battle.
Each of those men had a first day on the many battlefields they fought. And yet the only way they became labelled as “experts in war” is because they didn’t just fight one battle. After their first, they fought many more. And sure there may have been battles where they nearly faced death, some where they possibly had to admit defeat and retreat, but they never gave up.
They are still enlisted.
Do you know that there will be people you will encounter who will test your strength and fortitude in this ministry (and no doubt in any other ministry where the gospel is proclaimed)?
I remember with the juveniles there would be times when it felt like nobody listened, or other days when we only spoke to 1 person. We don’t emphasise those individual outings and then turn our back on the battle. We continue to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
No matter whether we get to speak to 1 person or 100, because once we give up and pack up and go home and close the ministry then those opportunities will never eventuate because we’re never there!
Look at verse 33:
Are you an expert in the spiritual war? Or do you find yourself caught up in the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life?
To be expert in war would also mean knowing how to also use your weapons:
1 Chronicles 12:33 KJV 1900
Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.
Not only were these men of Zebulun experts in war, but Scripture adds they were expert in war with all instruments of war. I don’t think you would see any of these men bring to the battlefield instruments that are useless for battle.
And this same applies for us when we go forth - we need to have the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
Do you know how to use your sword? Are you expert in using your sword?
Now please understand that I don’t mean you need to have an answer for every question that ever arises regarding the Bible. And it also doesn’t mean that you don’t study. But you should know the essentials of what you believe as states that you should give a reason of the hope that is in you.
Notice that the men of Zebulun were not of double heart. They weren’t one to change their mind once they committed to it. They weren’t swayed by what Abner was doing in making Saul’s younger son Ishbosheth king. They knew who their were in allegiance with and they stuck to it rigidly.
Now I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve spoken to inmates who have asked good questions. Now I certainly don’t know everything about the Bible, but if they ever do ask me a serious question which I don’t know the answer to I openly admit the fact, and then I add that I will let know my answer on my next visit.
I then go and do all the research I can - I even ask my team mates as some of them may know the answers, and then I make it a priority to attend the next visit with an answer.
God may be using this opportunity to help grow you too!
Don’t be double minded about God’s Word.
So be experts with your sword, know when to use it and make sure you’re involved in Bible study with your church. There’s no better way to learn more about God’s Word than by putting yourself in the way to get more understanding.
Do you know how to answer a Muslim?
Even though these men of Zebulun were experts in war and with instruments of war they all just didn’t do what was right in their own eyes. Scripture adds that these men could “keep rank”.
Do you know how to answer an

Keep Rank

In fact at the end of our passage we read that all these men of war could keep rank.
One other quality that was mentioned in this list towards the end was that these men knew how to keep rank. They followed their captains and they obeyed orders.
1 Chronicles 12:38 KJV 1900
All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.
This means they they obeyed orders from their commanding officer. And notice both in verse 33 and verse 38 that keeping rank, the obedience part, is mentioned along with the attitude or heart part.
The tribe of Zebulun it states in verse 33 were “not of double heart” and all men in verse 38 “came with a perfect heart”.
It can be easy to show you’re obeying, but your heart could be contrary.
Jesus commands us in...
I don’t know how simpler Jesus could make this command.
Go. Preach. Every creature.
Mark 16:15 KJV 1900
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
What are you doing in light of this simple command?
If you’re a part of the SLAM team you would know what it means to be saved and therefore you would know how to save someone else.
Get out there and save people. You have the solution!
A simple command, right?
Luke 10:2 KJV 1900
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
But how often are our hearts willing to do so. And I know I am preaching to myself too. I can be double minded in my thoughts and minimise the importance of what the captain of my heart has commanded me to do.

And notice also the tribe of Issachar in verse 32 which also emphasises this point:
1 Chronicles 12:32 KJV 1900
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
Notice how these men of Issachar were men of understanding, of the times, and they knew what Israel ought to do. The only way they would know what to do rightly would be to be in God’s Word and to do his commands.
And it’s the same for us. We need to grow in understanding of what God requires of us to do.
We tend to forget what we need to do when something else has captivated our hearts more than Christ. And my team mates will know that I mention this cautionary verse at least a dozen times every year:
1 Thessalonians 4:4 KJV 1900
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
What is it that’s captivating my heart away from fully following the Lord?
And notice also
Make war with it. Destroy it. Put it away. Get serious with your sin.
We mentioned previously Jesus’ simple command of going out into all the world and preaching the gospel, but the Bible has many more commands for us to obey that help us in our daily walk.
If we are to be effective soldiers for Christ we need to know how to possess our vessel unto sanctification and honour as Paul mentions in .
Another quality of these men that is highlighted is they are:

Mighty Men of Valour

2. Mighty Men of Valour

The number of men in this tribe numbered 6,800 men and who were all ready for war.
Not only were these men expert in war, experienced with war, able to use the right instruments in war, but they also had the right spirit FOR battle. They were mighty men of valour.
1 Chronicles 12:25 KJV 1900
Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.
1 Chron 12:
Valour is a word rarely heard these days, but it’s a word meaning “courage in the face of danger”. Each day these men went off to battle knowing that it could be the last time they see their loved ones. Yet while they knew their line of work was dangerous - they still went out.
Now I know some of you may be thinking that I couldn’t possibly be involved in sharing the gospel because I just don’t know enough of the Bible to adequately answer every man the reason of the hope that is in me?
But don’t let your youth stop you from being involved. Scripture explains that Moses, who talked with God directly, was the meekest man on the face of the earth () - and yet when those who tried to usurp his authority came along Moses was quick to be humble. He didn’t use his privilege and position for private gain, but sought the Lord.
And even here in our passage we read of a young man, who is also labelled as a mighty man of valour:
And notice also that there’s even a young man mentioned as a mighty man of valour - Zadok.
1 Chronicles 12:28 KJV 1900
And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father’s house twenty and two captains.
1 Chr 12:
And it’s encouraging to see many young men involved in this ministry and sharing their testimonies, sharing a devotional and even giving a gospel message. Your enthusiasm and testimony with being involved and a part of the team by consistently turning up every month encourages me.
So please don’t let your youth be a reason why you shouldn’t be a part of this ministry - being a mighty man of valour doesn’t require age or experience - it requires the right attitude and heart.
The last quality I would like to touch on is that mentioned of the tribe of Issachar, which states in verse 32:
How are you leading your heart?
I know it can be really difficult in the middle of winter to get out of bed at 5 or 6 in the morning to be a part of the ministry, but don’t amplify your fears.
Those who have been a part of the SLAM team for some time can remember the initial years when entering into the prisons wasn’t easy. It certainly was the case for me. You’re going into an environment that I have been completely ignorant of all my life and you don’t know what to expect.
1 Chronicles 12:32 KJV 1900
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
But it’s this discomfort that helped me rely and trust in God more. It helped draw me closer to the Lord and this is something wants of all his children - to have that close relationship with him to trust Him more and more.

Understanding the Times

3. Understanding of the Times

The men of Issachar had a good understanding of the times according to what had been revealed by God. We too know that our time is short on this earth and that the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15–16 KJV 1900
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
We do not know how long we have to be able to continue to minister the way do in these prisons, but thankfully by God’s grace and while we are able we will continue to be used as soldier’s in God’s army to serve and do what he has commanded us to do.
Of one particular tribe, Issachar, it’s mentioned that 200 had an understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do.
It’s a sad reality in churches today that we have Christians who don’t know what they “ought to do”. Yet even Jesus himself plainly states at the end of the book of Mark in that we are to go out into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature.

Joy in Heaven

I don’t know how simpler Jesus could make this command.
Go. Preach. Every creature.
What are you doing in light of this simple command?
If you’re a part of the SLAM team you would know what it means to be saved and therefore you would know how to save someone else.
Get out there and save people. You have the solution!
Luke 10:2 KJV 1900
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
The h

Joy in Heaven

One of the commands Jesus has given to us Scripture is that we are to go out and to preach the gospel to every creature in .
Christians can often
Scripture describes them as mighty men of valour totalling 7,100 men.
One other quality that was mentioned in this list towards the end was that these men knew how to keep rank. They followed their captains and they obeyed orders.
So to finish up today I hope this passage has helped to spur you to be involved in the spiritual battle by being ready armed, equipped with the Word of God, understanding what God would have you to do, and doing it with the right heart and attitude.
1 Chronicles 12:38 KJV 1900
All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.

Levi -

The result as we see at the end of our reading from the gathering of all these men was a momentous occasion with a great abundant feast and joy in Israel.
We mentioned previously Jesus’ simple command of going out into all the world and preaching the gospel, but the Bible has many more commands for us to obey that help us in our daily walk.
The Levites were not able to fight, hence we don’t read of their characteristics, but they were willing to be a part of the team. Men here totalled 4,600.
And we similarly know from what Scripture tells us that there is joy in heaven when one sinner repents () - and our great hope is one day reuniting with our captain Christ Jesus in the clouds and participating in that great supper feast of the Lamb ().
But it does specifically mention Jehoiada who was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were 3,700.
And also Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father’s house were 22 captains.
If we are to be effective soldiers for Christ we need to know how to possess our vessel unto sanctification and honour as Paul mentions in .

Benjamin - Keepers of the Ward

Amen.
Many had fallen in the final battle against the Philistines, but the majority of them had kept the ward of the house of Saul.

Ephraim - Mighty Men of Valour

The men of Ephraim were the largest tribe contributing 20,800 which Scripture describes as mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.

Manasseh

Expressed by name, 18,000 men.

Issachar

Men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were 200; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

Zebulun

Experts in war, with all instruments of war, 50,000 which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.

Naphtali

A thousand captains, and with them shield and spear 37,000.

Danites

Expert in war 28,600.

Asher

Expert in war 40,000.

Reubenites, Gadites & Half tribe of Manasseh

All manner of instruments of war for the battle = 120,000.
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