Ron Thomas
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By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
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Standing Your Ground - Five Observations From
The Beanfield, A Memorial Day Message
Preached 5/25/2008

Text: II Samuel 23:11-12. "And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.

12 But he (Shammah) stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory."

Ephesians 6:13. "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."

Introduction: There are times in everyone's life, when they must make up their minds to stand up, and not back down.

Our text passage is about a man who would not back down, who stood his ground against the forces of evil. Shammah the son of Agee, was one of David's mighty men who proved himself worthy, as he defended a field of lentils. That's right! Shammah put his life on the line for beans! The Philistines were attacking the nation Israel. Evidently, it was the time of harvest. The people were working hard to gather their crops for the winter, when the Philistines suddenly attacked. Why? Obviously, one purpose was to inflict casualties. The Philistines were out to eradicate and eliminate the Israelites. As a result, David and his mighty men had made a career of slaughtering Philistines. Actually, David began his career as a young boy, by killing the Philistine giant, Goliath!

Another purpose was to destroy Israel's crops, driving them to hunger, weakening their will and ability to fight, which would lead to Israel's defeat and slavery! Lentils were a basic staple in the Middle East. One of the tactics of the enemy was to march through fields and trample the crops. The Philistines had dispatched a squadron of their soldiers to disrupt the harvesting of a field of beans, kill anyone who would resist them, and then waste the harvest. As the Philistines advanced, everyone ran for their lives, everyone that is except one. Shammah right then and there, decided to take a stand and defend this field!

Memorial Day is a special, set aside day in this nation, when we as Americans stop and take time to remember those who stood their ground against an advancing enemy. There are thousands of Americans who died defending a bunker or storming a beachhead; who died charging a hill or destroying a bridge. They paid the ultimate price, standing up not only for themselves, but standing up for others. There are cemeteries all over the world, where American heroes are buried, because they were willing to take the battle to the enemy, and take a stand for freedom and liberty.

Our second focus passage this morning in Ephesians 6, are the words of the apostle Paul, reminding us that we are involved in a conflict, a spiritual warfare that has raged across the ages to this present hour, and will continue into the future. This is a war between good and evil; between Satan and the forces of sin and darkness, and God and the forces of righteousness and light. As we look around, it is obvious that we are losing ground on every front. The good news is that we fight under the name Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our banner of victory. There is a great need among Christians for men and women who will stand their ground! Five Observations From The Bean Field

Observation one: Satan is active in taking ground. Verse 11a says, "And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles." The Philistines were a barbaric, cruel, pagan, idol worshiping people, who were in perpetual conflict with the children of Israel, God's chosen people and nation! Then or now, to fight against Israel, is to fight against God! After suffering many defeats at the hands of the Philistines, the Israelites chose Saul as their king to deliver them. King Saul was able to successfully defeat the Philistines on several occasions, but his disobedience to the Lord eventually caused his downfall. Saul and his sons died in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. Their bodies were brutally desecrated by these evil people! This was a struggle for survival! To this very day, there is a land struggle between Israel and her Arabic neighbors. Actually, most if not all of these Arabic nations, want to drive Israel into the sea!

If you are a Christian, you need to understand that there is a turf war going on! Every believer who stands determined to live for Jesus, is a warrior. Every believer is called to stand and defend his or her inheritance, his or her plot of real-estate, his or her vital place of influence and service for Jesus Christ. You may not perceive your place to be important or strategic to the cause of Christ, but it is! Satan desires to make your life, your ministry, your calling, seem insignificant. Why? Satan wants you to move. He wants you to give it up!

Do you think that field of lentils was a big prize? No! In and of itself, it was not much to defend, but as a part of the whole, it was very significant! It was God's land, therefore it was important! Your place in the kingdom of God is important, not just because it belongs to God, but because it is yours as well. It is the place where warriors are made and saints are proven! If your place and your life was not valuable and important to God and His kingdom, there would not be a battle raging over it! The intensity of the warfare over your place, your life, your influence, your future, verifies it's importance to God and His kingdom! This is why you must hold your ground!

Observation two: Christians are giving up ground. They are deciding to flee rather than stand and fight. Verse 11b reads, "...and the people fled from the Philistines." It is obvious from this passage that the far majority of the people of Israel, were controlled by fear, and had given in, to a defeated frame of mind. There was tremendous pressure on Shammah to follow the crowd! If he had, we would not be reading his name in this chapter. Going with the flow, Shammah would have simply blended into the background of his culture and times.

There are Christians all around us today who are falling into sin; who are compromising their values and surrendering their virtue. The sad thing is, rather than admit it and repent, they defend themselves. How? By redefining themselves and Christianity. We have reshaped Christianity so that it comes without a cross. We have redefined sin so that it is more palatable. We have redefined grace so that we can abuse it and use our Christian liberty as an excuse to fulfill the desires of our flesh! Today it is just as hard to take a stand for Jesus Christ in a church or youth group, as it is in the world! In Titus 2:11, we are reminded that the "grace of God" instructs us to deny our hormones, our sensual drives and desires for evil things! God's grace teaches us to live soberly or sensibly, righteously, and godly, in this present world! The lack of faith, compromise and failures of other Christians does not excuse us! In the end, we will each stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and give an account for our stewardship, our watch, our choices and decisions in this life!

Observation three: There are fields worth defending. Verse 12a reads. "But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines." It seems that in every generation of Christians, there is some key ground that needs to be defended, needs to be held. In my lifetime, I have witnessed great losses in America! Just take a look at our public schools and universities, and you will see the lost ground! About this time of the year, we begin to hear all sorts of stories about commencement speakers and speeches. Some school faculty or administrator denies a student the right to mention God or the name of Jesus; or the right to pray or pray in the name of Jesus. Today in this nation, you can lose your job for offending a minority or speaking against blatant immorality, but it is open season on Christianity! The ten commandments and prayer have been banned from many public buildings. All of this has happened because Christians and churches have ceased to care, ceased to dare, and stand their ground.

Charlton Heston, who died earlier this year is known for playing the role of Moses in the classic movie The Ten Commandments. He is equally known for a statement he made at a National Rifle Association meeting. Charlton Heston was known to stand for civil rights and saw gun advocacy as a natural extension of civil liberties. At one of the NRA rallies, Heston defiantly hoisted a rifle in the air, and vowed that his opponents would have to pry it away from his cold dead hands. As a child of God, what are you willing to die for? Are there some things that are non-negotiable in your life? There are fields that are worth defending and if needs be, regaining in the lives of Christians today!

There is the field of personal holiness and purity. Somewhere along the way, Christians have forgotten that they are called and predestined to live holy lives unto God! Ephesians 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." We are not to be conformed to this evil, valueless, vulgar world system! We need to be reminded that as the redeemed, our lives are not our own, our bodies are not our own! Christians are looking and acting more like pagans today, than Christians!

There is the field of Bible literacy. God's people do not know their Bibles! At a moments notice, Christians can spew out all sorts of information concerning fantasy football and fashion, the latest movies or the money market, but they can't hold a conversation about Bible doctrine and truth! There is nothing wrong with sports or fashion, with movies or the money market, but they are not to displace the presence of God's Word in our lives!

There is the field of spiritual fervency. Christian, what makes you sad? What makes you glad? What makes you mad? Is it anything of eternal significance or importance? How long has it been since you rejoiced over answered prayer in your life? How long has it been since you wept over a lost person in your family or in your life? How long has it be since your were upset and mad because of sin in your life or the lack of obedience? In Romans 12:11, Paul challenges us not to be, "...slothful in business," but rather, "fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."

Families on vacation don't stop and take pictures of road-kill! There is nothing exciting or attractive about road-kill. We have too many road-kill churches and road-kill Christians! They are defending the ground of tradition, rather than the ground of truth and in doing so, have lost their joy and zeal in living for Jesus! Romans 14:17 says, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

Observation four: The Lord wants Christians to hold their ground. He is looking for men and women who will take a stand and not back down. Shammah defended a plot of land. Perhaps it was part of his inheritance? Perhaps not. What he did might seem insignificant, but his stand was what turned the tide. Earlier this year I read a book entitled, "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara. It's a historical novel about the Civil War and the famous battle of Gettysburg. In that battle, the Confederate Army was not able to hold the high ground. They had an opportunity to do so, but they failed and lost a strategic battle. It was in many ways perceived to be the turning point in the war.

David's mighty men represent the kind of Christian God is looking for to enter the battle and hold the high ground!

God is seeking Christians who will be brave and courageous! In II Samuel 23:8, it speaks of Adino the Eznite, who armed with a spear, stood alone against 800 men and slew everyone of them. So many times, we think of courage as a quality reserved for soldiers, police and firefighters. In our day to day existence, security is emphasized over courage. We are taught to play it safe. Because of this, we let fear rule our lives. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of going broke. Fear of being alone. Fear of humiliation. Fear of public speaking. Fear of being ostracized by family and friends. Fear of physical discomfort. Fear of regret. Fear of success. Ambrose Redmoon said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." Courageous people are still afraid, but they don't let the fear paralyze them. The Lord told Joshua in Joshua 1:9, "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

Is fear and a lack of courage keeping you from witnessing? What about some commitment to a particular ministry? It requires courage to speak up and stand up for truth today! Ask God for the courage and boldness to do His will in your life!

God is seeking Christians who will fight beyond weariness. In II Samuel 23:9, it speaks of Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite who fought so long and hard against the Philistines, that his hand went into a spasm, and wouldn't release his sword! God uses people who are willing to go the extra mile, who will work extra hours, who will not let weariness become an excuse to give in or give up! In II Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul lists the things he suffered as the "minister" or servant of Jesus Christ. He says in verse 11, "In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."

God is seeking Christians who will stand when others flee. Shammah in II Samuel 23:11-12 stood when others fled and held his ground. He would not back down! In the Barnyard movie, as Ben is on his night watch, he sings a simple song that expresses his commitment to be a stronger man and leader. The lyrics go: "Well I won't back down. Won't be turned around. And I'll keep this world from dragging me down. Gonna stand my ground." Praise God for Christians who will not let Satan and his world system drag them down! I Corinthians 15:58 gives the admonition based on the hope of the resurrection, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

God is seeking Christians who are willing to risk their lives to serve Him. In II Samuel 23:15-16 it speaks of three of David's mighty men who risked their lives to fulfill his desire for a drink of water from a particular well that was in enemy territory. The Bible is full of the names and testimonies of men and women who took great risks for God, people like Abraham and Sarah; Nehemiah and Esther. At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, Paul sends a note of appreciation to various individuals and couples who contributed to his ministry. Notice his words in Romans 16:3-4. "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles."

Are you holding your ground? Are you setting yourself apart from the world of nominal, lukewarm Christians?

Observation five: When we stand with God, we can be assured of His divine help. Verse 12b says, "...and the LORD wrought a great victory." Shammah stood his ground, but it was God who defeated the Philistines that day in the bean field. The name Shammah points to this reality. Why choose the name, ....Shammah? It is taken from a reference to one of the many names the Hebrew Scriptures attributed to our all mighty God. If you remember from our earlier study this year, the name Jehovah Shammah means the Lord is present. Shammah's faith was not in himself, but in the God he served! God was there! He is Jehovah Shammah. God gave the victory. He is Jehovah Nissi!

We must count on God who will give the victory in our lives! So many times after we run in fear, we ask, "Lord, where were You when I needed You?" The Lord would reply, "Without faith, it is impossible to please Me." Instead, we should ask, "Where was I when I needed God? Was I standing and claiming His presence?" How often do we forfeit the presence of the living God in our lives and thereby lose the victory? The next time you find yourself in a situation where you really need God, don't run away. Imagine God standing beside you, and stand your ground. Someone said, "Faith is the breeding ground for miracles." II Chronicles 16:9a says, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him."

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