Friday, November 17, 2006

Sermon note for Deuteronomy 20

Sermon Title: “Soldiers with a difference”
Text: Deuteronomy chapter 20

Introduction:
A Christian with a difference---Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 A.D.), son of a wealthy merchant. He served as a soldier, renowned for both bravery and high living.
  • After his conversion the age of 23, he embraced total poverty, in imitation of Jesus.
  • At first, he devoted to repairing a ruined church in his native town of Assisi. Then in 1208 he set out on foot, to preach the Gospel…soon joined by others, who were inspired by his gentle love and radiant joy---Franciscan spirit!

Listen to one of his prayer: “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”
"Most high, omnipotent, righteous Lord, to You be all praise, glory, honor and blessing. To You alone are they due, and no man is worthy to mention You. Praise be to You, my Lord, for all Your creatures, above all Brother Sun, who gives us the light of day. He is beautiful and radiant with great splendor, and so is like You most high Lord. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars. In heaven You fashioned them, clear and precious and beautiful. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Brother Wind, and for every kind of weather, cloudy or fair, stormy or serene, by which You cherish all that You have made. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Sister Water, which is useful and humble and precious and pure. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Brother Fire, by whom You lighten the night, for He is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praise be to You, my Lord, for our Sister Earth, who sustains and governs us, and produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs. Praise be to You, my Lord, for those who forgive sins in Your love, and for those who bear sickness and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, most high Lord, they shall be crowned. Praise be to You, my Lord, for our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living person can escape. Pity those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those who in death are found obedient to Your most holy will, for death shall do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord, giving Him thanks and serving Him with great humility."

What is Christians’ crisis today? S.I.N.
Superficial (do not build deep),
Immoral (not serious with repentance, accountability and holy living),
Nominal (not born again, no P.E. = personal and present experiences of God)

Lord Jesus says (Matthew 7:21): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven!”

Apostle Paul says (II Corinthians 3:18): “We…all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord...”

In today’s very corrupted world, God wants Christians to be different from the world, to be the light and salt! In Old Testament's world, God wanted Israel’s soldiers to be different from their neighbors. Soldiers with difference would magnify to nations the glory of the One, true and living God Almighty. That's the message of Deuteronomy chapter 20.

Background:

  1. Israel’s geographical location exposed its people to constant danger. The land was hemmed in on one side by the Mediterranean sea, on the other by mountainous desert. Those who journeyed from Egypt in the south to the Assyrian and Babylonian nations in the north were normally compelled to travel through Canaan. So, the promised land was a place that all great world powers wanted to conquer! Of course, we must remember that Israel’s conquest of Canaan was not for selfish expansion, but was an act of divine judgment on its inhabitants for their persistent evil.
  2. Israel had to fight for survival or would have been totally exterminated as a minority nation. So, defensive warfare was necessary. But they were not to behave as their neighbors. Israelites should have different approach to warfare / military practice.
  3. The cruelty, havoc & devastation caused by invading armies from Egypt, Assyria and Babylon were notorious. For example, the Assyrian troops always caused devastation of natural resources; men and women of their enemies were subjected to barbaric & sadistic punishment. Israel’s soldiers can’t behave like that! God’s people must be different.
  4. The regulations given in chapter 20 look beyond initial conquest to future times when, for their own safety & security, they will be compelled to go out to war against their oppressors.
  5. Israel were lacking in numerical strength, necessary equipment and military skill. As a minority force (20:1), they must march out as a confident minority (vv.1-4), dedicated minority (vv.5-9), compassionate minority (vv.10-20) Soldiers with a DIFFERENCE!

Content:

1. CONFIDENT:

  • Greatest enemy is internal not external. Fear is likely to do more damage in the ranks than any fierce onslaught! Fear is unnecessary & inappropriate (v.1,3) because of: a testimony from the past (v.1---God had delivered us from Egypt), a fact in the present (v.1,4---God goes with us), a promise for the future (v.4---God will give us victory!)
  • Application: Are you in crisis of confidence, facing “army greater than you”? Unexpected crises are a part of life. Either you got out of a crisis…or you are in a crisis right now…or you are headed into a crisis.
  • Crisis management: Determine the reason: “What is really the reason behind the crisis?” The reason is often deeper than what appears on the surface. If difficult, pray about it! Determine the result: “What can I learn from this?” Every crisis is an opportunity to change our perspective, sharpen our skills and develop our character. Determine your response: “What is the best way to respond to this?” Confront the problem, don’t ignore.Confess your part, ask forgiveness.Claim a promise, be confident.

2.

Dedicated:
  • To God, quality is more important than quantity. It is not what we are, what we have got, but whose we are that matter! God wants the nation to trust in Him and not in its superior armies. Therefore, the officers are to single out four groups of people and send them home.
  • Verse 5---Any man who has just finished building a house but has had no opportunity to live in it and dedicate it to the Lord. God wants this particular man to settle his wife and children in their new home first. If the house remained empty and the man died in the battle, someone else might take possession of his property and his family could be destitute. God is deeply concern about the preservation of family life.
  • Verse 6---A man who owns a recently established vineyard must be singled out and sent home. We all know, for the first three years there would be no fruit on the vines and in the fourth year its fruit must be offered to God. So, until the fifth year, its owner has not begun to enjoy its fruit. In other words, there are at least 5 years that a man in this kind of situation is to be exempt from warfare. Just imagine, if a man lost his life in the conflict before he can enjoy the fruit of his toil, another person might easily take his property just at the time when he and his family were likely to benefit from it. What then would happen to his wife and children who relied upon the produce for their income?
  • Verse 7---Anyone who has become pledged to a woman (which means someone firmly engaged and about to be married) must not go out with the troops. 24:5 says that this exemption was to be continued throughout the first year of marriage. This shows that our God is concerned about the establishment of good, secure relationships. He wants the husband to bring happiness to the wife he has married. God knows time is one of the languages of love.
  • Verse 8---Those who were afraid or faint-hearted were best left at home. We must remember that the Israelites were not a war-faring people by nature. All of them were poorly equipped for a fierce encounter with well-trained soldiers. So, fear was natural enough! Fear paralyzes their soldiers, damages the morale of the troops. Fear shows that they lack of faith in God.
  • Application:

(i) God wants you to find satisfaction and enjoyment in your work and labor (Deuteronomy 20:5-6, Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, 8:15; I Timothy 6:17).

I learn from Professor Dr. Leonard Yong a very biblical way of finding godly satisfaction and enjoyment, continual empowerment and renewal in work day by day: By building T.E.N.T. in my heart every three hours!
T hanksgiving attitude and memory;
E njoy our work & lives in obedience to our conscience;
N o coincidence in our lives (Romans 8:28);
T hankful to the Creator God!

This has helped me to reveal my heart to God, to receive joy and peace, wisdom and endurance from God, meantime to remove self-pitying, stress, depression and all sort of negative thoughts and emotions from my spirit, soul and body!

J.I. Packer in his book---"Knowing God ’s Purpose for Your Life" says that: "Wisdom instructs me to enjoy the pleasures God gives without going pleasure mad!"

(ii) God wants you to take good care of your marriage & family (v.7) I learn to practise biblical Covenant Actions in my daily family life:
• To love and be loved;
• To forgive and be forgiven;
• To empower and be empowered;
• To understand and be understood.

(iii) God wants you to fear nothing but God and be dedicated to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep your faith (v.8). God’s will is not constant comfort & worldly success (Hebrews 12:7,11). God wills us to grow in grace & joy (1 Peter 1:1-2). God wills to live eternally with us! (Colossians 1:3-5)

2 Comments:

At 11:06 AM, Blogger ibynck said...

From my point of view and from my experiences, pastors do see Jesus more clearly, love Jesus more dearly, and follow Jesus more nearly than ordinary Christians. We should keep in mind that this is not an easy thing to do, i.e. giving our all to our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ and dedicating our lives to Him. Therefore, let us give our moral support, encouragement, assistance, understanding, prayer support, etc. to our pastors and their ministries.

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger Ah Hu said...

Hi Pastor,

It seems you have discontinued the blog updates. Hope you'll find time to one day.

Mine's at http://ahu-room.blogspot.com

 

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