Sermon for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Text: Joshua 1:9
"Be determined and confident! Donít be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go".

I, the Lord your God, am with you

Confirmees and fellow-worshippers,

There are lots of stories around the theme of good versus evil Ė and some of these stories have seemingly insignificant people - people with no special evil defeating skills - taking centre stage as they confront almost impossible odds. In Lord of the Rings, a Hobbit Frodo Baggins is the central character. He is given the task to destroy a ring Ė a ring that has the ability to give the wearer untold power. Frodo must throw the ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom before it falls into the hands of the dark lord. He gets help from other hobbits, elves, dwarves and a wizard but in the end it is only Frodo who is able to defeat the power of evil. He is afraid, almost killed a number of times, he barely has enough strength left to climb Mount Doom, but in the end he saves the day and there is peace once again.

Some of you may have seen the movie The Karate Kid. Itís about a scrawny teenager who feels alone, vulnerable and afraid in the hostile environment of his school and neighbourhood.

It happens that the lad, Daniel, meets an old man who has a black belt in karate. The movie ends with Daniel, the scrawny kid, beating the big bullies in a karate competition - again good triumphs over bad, a small insignificant person overcomes his fear and wins the day.

The Bible has its own stories of the small standing up to the big. The armies of Israel trembled before the giant, Goliath. The writer of this story takes his time telling us just how big and fearsome this man was. He knows that there is no one who could match his size and strength. "Give me a man that we may fight together," Goliath taunts the Israelite army.

And up pops little David. Goliath demanded a man; he got little David. The contrast between the heavily armoured giant Goliath (9 feet or 3 metres tall) and the little boy couldnít be greater. David was warned that he didnít stand a chance against the giant, "Youíre just a kid! Goliath will make mince meat out of you!"

Iím sure David must have been just a little bit afraid as Goliath bellowed out across the valley making all kinds of threats. However, in spite of any fear, he displays amazing courage.
Where does this amazing courage come from? David explains that as a shepherd he has had to fight off lions and bears as they attempt to attack his sheep. He says,
ĎThe Lord has saved me from lions and bears; he will save me from this Philistine" (1 Sam 17:37).

Davidís courage to face Goliath comes from God. God had given him the courage in the past to face danger and he was confident that God would do the same when he stands before Goliath. This is more than a story about a nice boy and a bully. David calls out to the giant, "You are coming against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty". He picks up a stone, whirls around his slingshot, and strikes Goliath. The giant falls.

Letís be clear. This isnít a story about some smart, cheeky kid who doesnít know when enough is enough.
And itís not a story about a big bloke who is so arrogant and rude and laughs at the idea of a kid with a sling shot being able to do any damage.
Itís a story about God.
Itís a story about a young boy who has amazing courage
Ė kid who is able to confront his worst nightmare and win
Ė a kid who is able to do this because he trusted in God.

My young friends, my guess is that you wonít ever have to face a giant like Goliath armed with a stone and a slingshot, but I would guess that at some time you are going to need the same kind of courage that David had. This is the kind of courage that will enable you to face any kind of giant with boldness and confidence. The giants I am talking about are anything that will jeopardise your happiness and safety. This is where this story about Davidís victory with the help of God has a very important lesson for all of us.

All of you, Iím sure, are at different places in your life right now when it comes to following Jesus.
Some of you might be as sure as sure can be - this is what you want to do, nothing could stop you.
Others of you might be a little confused inside - not really sure if youíre ready, if youíre strong enough, filled with mixed feelings - sometimes really committed, sometimes finding yourself letting yourself down!

You know, most Christians who are honest feel that way. We believe, deep down in our hearts - we really do, and then we act in ways which goes against what we believe. That upsets us.

I know that David, especially in his later life, felt those things but he was certain of one thing Ė that no matter what happened in his life, he was sure that the love and power of God was always available to him. This gave him the confidence and courage to face up to any kind of giant Ė especially his own sinfulness, the rebelliousness of his own son, unfaithfulness and treachery, death of a child on one occasion and his best friend on another, attempts against his own life and the feeling of discouragement and weakness. But whenever one of these giants threatened him, he became like a boy standing in front of Goliath staring death in the face. He stood there boldly with the courage that only God can give.

It was David who could write words like, "Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid" And where does such courage come from? He says, "Lord, you are with me. Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me" (Psalm 23:4).

You see, David, knew that God would help him because God had made this kind of promise to people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua and heaps of others Ė the kind of promise that goes like this, "Donít be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go".

God made this promise to you when you were baptised and today he reaffirms that this promise is true and valid now and throughout your journey in life wherever that might take you. God loves you. You are as precious as the most precious jewel, and nothing you do can change his mind on that. The certificate we give you, the gifts you receive today, the photos that are taken Ė as you look at these things in years to come they will remind you,
"On October 21st 2007 God reminded me just how much he loves me. I made a commitment that he would be my God and saviour and be a disciple of Jesus. My relationship with him will determine the choices I make and my behaviour in the future."

David couldnít help but feel small and all alone as he stood before Goliath. His smallness could have caused him to turn around and head for cover. David was able to stand up to the giant because he knew that God was on his side and this gave him the courage to do what he had to do. Knowing Jesus and his love for you, knowing the lengths that Jesus went to forgive you and make you friends with God again, knowing Jesus own promise to always be with you, you have the courage to face up to anything that comes your way.

To all of us here this morning Ė I ask you to think about the time when you, in your life, felt most committed to God, and then ask yourself where you stand right now in comparison.
When these young people answer questions I ask them this morning, donít just listen to their answer but ask yourself the same questions.
When they make their commitment, re-examine your level of commitment. Is it time for you to join them in dedicating your life to Jesus and to a life of love and service?
As they receive a blessing, ask God for his blessing on you, to go with you into your life and to make a difference to your living.

God says to each of us Ė "Donít be afraid or discouraged, for IÖam with you wherever you go". Godís blessing be upon all of us today.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
21st October 2007

More sermons

Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the Good News Bible, © American Bible Society, revised Australian edition 1994.
All material written by Vince Gerhardy is copyright, but permission is freely given for limited use.
Please e-mail for permission, or with questions or comments about this web site.