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Courageous Heart

Sermon, Pentecost 4B, Sunday June 24, 2012.

St Petri

Courageous heart

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”…..

37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Friends, surely this story of David taking on the Giant is one we all resonate with. How many movies have been this story with different characters?

So many of the stories we human beings tell are about the little guy taking on the big giant and winning – whether the “giant” is a huge corporation acting unjustly , a bully in the play ground, a vindictive enemy bent on destruction of another, a life threatening situation or disease or whatever.

We love the story of the unexpected victory over a great injustice because many of us often feel like this little guy David, facing a huge giant of a problem!

We have Giants as individuals, families and a church community in mission. Shall we name a few?

  1. Health issues and the disruption and pain they cause.

  2. Grief – loss of all kinds of people and things: Children, parents, job, lifestyle, hopes and dreams for our future, good health, a partner with whom we have shared our very soul, the hope of having children, the hope of finding a soul mate to share our life with………

  3. Feeling and actually being marginalised and judged as Christians more and more in a tide of public criticism,

  4. The decline of the church in our society and feeling unsure about how to do the Lord’s work and invite people into a relationship with the Lord Jesus

  5. Insert you personal “giant” here……

Giants are giants because they threaten our faith in God’s promises to us; his promises to be with us to the very end of the age, to fill all things with his presence, to create his community, called the church, and promise that not even the “gates of hell itself would ever overcome his beautiful and might good news of life in God’s love forever in Jesus Christ.

 What are your giants – identify one or two. Why are they giants to you at the moment? What do they threaten and how is this giant attacking your trust in your Saviour?

Can you believe it? God is going to call you now to face this giant. I wonder whether when you got out of bed this morning and got ready to get to church did you know that the Lord would call you to face this giant that is before you? Have you known that being a Christian requires a courageous heart at times – actually a lot of the time?

Well, the Lord is calling us to face out giants – but never alone and always with the mutual friendship and care of his Spirit/Word and each other. But how? How do we face this giant God has called us to face today?

To know how, we need to be clear on why we face this giant. We need to be wise in counting the cost of the battle before we enter the battle, as Jesus says we should. Why do we face a giant as Christians together, instead of running away from them or hiding them from each other (never from God though)? According to David, the goal of overcoming our giants is to bring glory to God’s good name among unbelievers or those close to the kingdom and just observing us Christians

47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s

To face a giant with others and be victorious over the giant is done to help people see and hear that God is. God is real, he is involved, he is great and he is trustworthy. God cares, he knows, he loves. What is said about him by Christians and in the Bible is true and good. It is pretty hard to discount a story of genuine love in an unjust situation or forgiveness in great wrong or beyond the call service in a thankless situation – all because of Jesus’ love, even by the most hardened or aggressive critic of Christianity!

 The motivation for taking on a giant is to bring glory to our God’s good name.

There is another goal, according to David.

He takes on this giant to encourage God’s people – to make their heart strong in the Lord.

 “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine……”, says David.

 The reason we face our giants is for each other.

When you take on your giant and I know about and I support you in it and I see you triumph with the Lord’s help, I am encouraged and I trust the Lord can do this for me and my giants.

So, we face our giants for these reasons:

  1. To encourage our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

  2. To bring glory to God among those who only know God as a stranger at the moment.

Notice what we don’t take on our giants for?

David does not take on the Philistine for self-glory or earning God’s favour. We do not take on giants to look good: earn status, experience personal satisfaction (even though this will come as a result and is good) or to earn favour with the Lord.

But with what? With what do we face giants? What are our tools?

Well, not with weapons of war. Because this battle against giants is not in the first instance material – it primarily is spiritual. So, our weapons are spiritual first. But then there are things we use too. David had a spiritual weapon: Faith. He also had four other things at hand which were not weapons of war but tools for shepherding; his staff, five smooth stones, his bag and trusty sling shot.

What are OUR tools? Faith in the Lord’s good intentions and help and power. Faith in the God who created us, made us his people by the blood of the King of all kings – the perfect king, Jesus of Nazareth the son of God himself sustaining all things by his powerful word. His word heals us, teaches us, loves us, invites us, makes us wise, fills our heart with the fire of his love and compassion for others, with desire to love him, serve him with our very lives as response to his laying down of his life for us.

With faith, all the other tools at our disposal become tools of God’s making that get to the real core of the giant – for our battle is not against a big hairy Philistine only, it is against the Principalities and powers of evil and fear in the world and in us – the “unholy trinity” as they are called – human sin, or idol making and worship, the consequences of following idols – death, and of course the power of the Evil One, who loves to eat Christians and destroy them by the tools of accusation – as relentless as Goliath was in his abuse of God’s name every morning and every night for 40 days prior to the faith of David going into action.

What tools does God give us to face our giants for each other and for those around us?

  1.  Our baptism – a real event with real people, real water and real words of Jesus over us echoing on into our present and future.

  2.  Absolution: a real word of “now” forgiveness for all of our cowardice and weakness from Jesus.

  3.  The shared word – preached in its fullness – law that kills our unholy trinity and any cowardice or striving for status before others and God and life for overcoming anything and anyone that tries to harm our trust and love for our Saviour.

  4.  Sustenance – real food and real drink the blood of Jesus that cleanses our soul, purifies our minds, heals our hurt and binds us together and with all those who have fought the good fight and entered their promised reward of rest forever with the Lord; the bread of the Spirit’s life eaten and taken into our very body.

  5.  Blessing – God’s then and there spiritual blessing over us.

  6.  The mutual love and concern and encouragement of the everyday unqualified but Spirit loved body of Christ.

David grabbed on to the tools he knew how to use to live out his faith in the Lord. We need to do the same.

Sure, the tools seem ineffective, foolish and pretty weak to the untrained eye – just like how David’s sling looked to the military and very scared people around David! But we don’t need weapons of war, only spiritual tools for shepherding, like David used to face and defeat our giants. But as people of faith after God’s own heart, God defeats giant after giant for us and with us as his name is glorified among many and his body the church is strengthened for its mission task.

Friend, grab the sure-fire tools to face those giants you know you have. Grab hold of those sure-fire trusted tools of God that are on offer from him every week of the year and then some in this place. They are real. They are the gifts of the Spirit as you and I are to each other.

With these spiritual tools for shepherding our friends, our kids, our town into God’s fold we bring glory to God and encourage each other to remain people after God’s own heart – people of courageous heart


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