Scriptures

Stand Up And Be Counted

Introduction

A preacher was becoming terribly distracted by a man who came to worship every Sunday and proceeded to sleep through the entire sermon. One Sunday he decided to do something about it. As he began to preach, the man, true to form, fell fast asleep. Whereupon the preacher said quietly,

‘Everyone who wants to go to heaven, stand up.’

The entire congregation immediately stood up, except the sleeping man. When they sat down, the preacher shouted at the top of his voice,

‘Everyone who wants to go to hell, stand up!’

This startled the dozing man. Still half asleep, he jumped up, looked around to see what was going on, then said to the preacher,

‘I don’t know what we’re voting on, but it looks like you and I are the only ones in favour of it.’

I guess the point is, if we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for everything. Over the weekend, our theme has been, stand up and be counted. The very phrase ‘stand up and be counted’ suggests someone bravely, accepting a challenge of some sort. Someone who is willing to stand up in front of others, when no-one else will.

But as Christians, we don’t have to stand alone, we could ask, who will stand with me? or are you with me? And we all know that whenever we stand up and be counted there’s a price to pay, there are consequences for our bravery.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Now let me get a little technical for a moment. That word ‘demonstrates’ is an interesting word because in the Greek text it means, ‘to stand together.’

It’s the same word that Peter uses when he describes how the land stood together with the floodwaters.

“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” 2 Peter 3:5

Paul uses the same word, in Colossians 1:7

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

The point is, way before we were called to stand and be counted for God, Christ stood and was counted for us.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Now just let that verse sink in for a moment, when did Christ die for us? Did God wait until you were a good person, before He died for you? Did God say, let me wait until that person has sorted their lives out first, then I’ll die for them?

No! He died for us whilst we were still sinners.

Think about it!

When you were busy telling lies, Christ died for you. When you were busy stealing from the shops or your parents, Christ died for you. When you’re on that computer watching pornography, Christ died for you.

Before I became a Christian, I was involved in all kinds of ungodly activities. When I was busy getting my daily fix of drugs, Christ died for me. When I stole from the shops, Christ died for me. When I was out partying and getting drunk, Christ died for me. When I was sleeping with someone I shouldn’t have been sleeping with, Christ died for me.

And aren’t you glad He didn’t wait until we got ourselves sorted first, before deciding to die for us?

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Notice that phrase, ‘Christ died for us’, what does that mean?

I love that story about the man who was driving a school bus full of kids on a country road, when he realised that the brakes had stopped working. Up a head there was a gate which lead into a field, so he thought he would drive the bus into that field and the mud would stop the bus. As he was approaching the gate, suddenly, a small boy appeared in front of it and so he had to make a quick decision.

Sadly, in order to save all the children on the bus, he had to run over the boy who was at the gate. Later when the parents arrived, they wanted to thank the driver for saving their children’s lives, but he was at the front of the bus holding the young boy he had ran over in his arms. One of the parents asked the other parents, ‘whose boy is that he’s holding?’ to which someone replied, ‘it’s his son.’

God loved us so much, He was willing to send His Son to die in order to save our lives. You see, Christ stood up for us, when nobody else would. He’s willing to stand up and be counted with us, and He asks us all this morning.

Who will stand together with Me and be counted? Will you stand with Him who has already stood for you?

Today we’re going to look at two Bible characters who stood together with God, when no one else would.

And the first Bible character I want us to learn from is David. Let me give you a summary of what’s happening in 1 Samuel 17. David was at home tending the sheep, his father, Jesse, sent him to the war zone to deliver some food to his brothers and find out news about the war.

Now let me ask you,

do you think David’s brothers were grateful for him making the journey to bring them some food?

“When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.” 1 Samuel 17:28-30

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Here is David doing what his father asked him to do, but his brothers didn’t appreciate what he was doing. But notice something important here. David didn’t get into a longwinded fight with his brothers, the text says,

‘he turned away’.

Why?

Because God had a bigger fight for him to deal with, he had a more important fight to get ready for. In other words, there are times when it’s right to stand up and be counted and there are times you have to just let it go.

Choose your fights wisely

Anyway, back to the story, David arrived at the battlefield to find his brothers and the rest of the Israelites who were scared of this giant of a man named Goliath.

(Goliath volunteer)

Goliath: ‘Oi you lot, do you want a fight?’ (wait for audience response)

Audience are the Israelites: (acting scared)

Goliath: ‘You’re just a bunch of babies, where’s your mummy!’ (wait for audience response)

Audience: (acting scared)

Goliath: ‘I’ll fight ten of you at one time, don’t be scaaaaared! Ha, ha’ (wait for audience response)

Audience: (acting scared)

Goliath: ‘Your God is dead, He’s not real, He won’t help you because He doesn’t exist.’

Goliath was the champion of the Philistine army but despite being about 9 feet tall, he said things which really angered David. Goliath was basically claiming that the God of the Israelites wasn’t able to help them in battle. David goes to speak to King Saul because he knew that God would help him fight Goliath.

Although he was a young man, he had experienced enough danger in his life to know God was in control and God would protect him through the battle. After some discussion, Saul agreed and offered him some armour, but David refused to wear it because he wasn’t used to wearing armour. I personally think that David simply trusted more in the God he knew than in the armour he didn’t know.

Anyway, Goliath shouts once again.

Goliath: ‘Oi you lot, do you want a fight?’ (wait for audience response)

Audience: (acting scared)

But whilst all the Israelites were terrified, David stood up and shouts.

David: ‘I’ll fight you, you oversized, uncircumcised Philistine!’

David ran towards Goliath prepared to fight, he gathered 5 smooth stones from the river and pocketed 4 of them. The 5th one went into the sling prepared for Goliath and they ran towards one another. Goliath ridiculed David and said to him.

Goliath: ‘Where’s your mummy, little boy’.

David said to Goliath, David: ‘You don’t scare me, you big bully! By the time we’re finished the birds will be eating you for supper!’

David let fly the stone in which was in his sling.

David and the Audience: (throw paper balls at Goliath)

The stone hit the giant between the eyes and the stone sunk into his forehead. (Goliath falls down)

David walks over to Goliath and cuts off his head.

(Volunteer return to their seat)

There were two archaeologists who went in a tomb where they discovered a mummy. So, they decided to unwrap it, they started with the head, so when they finally unwrapped the head. They couldn’t believe their eyes. they had never seen a face so depressed looking in all their lives.

They wondered why it was like this, so they unwrapped the rest of the body, they noticed that the persons hand was clenched, so slowly they began to prize open the fingers, when they found a piece of paper inside the hand. They opened it and they discovered that it was a betting slip, and on it, it said,

‘200 shekels on Goliath to win.’

You see, David trusted more in God than in weapons of war. He knew that his battle was on behalf of the living God of Israel. He let God fight the battles for him and notice that David fought for causes, not personal agenda. David stood up and was willing to be counted when no one else would.

What about you?

Will you stand for God and allow Him to do battle on your behalf? When your friends start slagging off your faith, will you stand up and be counted and defend what you believe? When you’re in school and they teach you that evolution is a fact, will you stand up and be counted and defend what the Bible teaches?

Let’s look at our next Bible character, Elijah. Let me summarise what’s happening in 1 Kings 18. After three years of drought, the Lord tells Elijah it’s time to confront king Ahab and make it rain.

Ahab’s getting pretty desperate to find some water and he calls a guy named Obadiah, the governor of his house. Obadiah is a really good guy, he hid one hundred prophets in a cave when Jezebel, who was nasty woman, was hunting down and killing all the prophets.

Ahab sends Obadiah to look for a place with some living grass for their horses and mules. To Obadiah’s surprise, he bumps into Elijah while looking. Elijah tells Obadiah to go tell Ahab he’s there, but Obadiah says,

‘Are you kidding me? He’s been looking all over for you, and as soon as I tell him where you are, the Lord’s Spirit will carry you away somewhere, and he’ll kill me.’

But Elijah promises to stay put, so Obadiah tells Ahab, and he comes running. He asks,

‘are you the guy giving us all this trouble?’

Elijah answers,

‘You’re the one who brought trouble when you left God’s commandments and worshipped Baal, fool.’ So, here’s what we’re going to do, ‘gather all of Israel to mount Carmel, and make sure those 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 that eat at Jezebel’s table come, too.’

And so, everyone gathers on mount Carmel.

(Elijah volunteer)

Elijah: ‘Why don’t you people make up your minds? If the Lord is God, follow him. If it’s Baal, follow him.’

The people say nothing.

So, then Elijah says, Elijah: ‘Look, there are 450 prophets for Baal, and there’s just me for the Lord. Let’s have a little contest. You guys take a bull and put it on a pile of wood. I’ll do the same.’

Elijah says, Elijah: ‘We both pray to our gods, and whichever god sends fire to burn the bull is the real deal.’

This sounds good to the people, so they set to it.

Audience: ‘Send fire Baal!’ ‘Help us Baal!’

The priests of Baal call to their god from morning until noon, but nothing happens.

Elijah says, Elijah: ‘Louder, guys! He’s probably just meditating, or he’s out of the office, or maybe he’s asleep, that’s all.’

Audience shout loudly: ‘Send fire Baal!’ ‘Help us Baal!’

The priests go totally nuts, screaming super loudly and cutting themselves, as was customary.

Elijah says, Elijah: ‘Louder, guys! He’s probably on the toilet.’

Audience shout even louder: ‘Send fire Baal!’ ‘Help us Baal!’ But still nothing happens.

Finally, the priests give up and Elijah says,

Elijah: ‘All right everybody, check this out.’

He takes twelve stones, one for each tribe of Israel, and fixes up the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. He puts wood on top of it, cuts up the bull and lays it on top of the wood, and digs a trench around the altar.

Then he tells the people to dump four barrels of water all over the altar not once, not twice, but three times. The meat and wood are soaked, and the trench is filled with water when they’re through.

When evening comes, Elijah prays to God and says,

Elijah: ‘Let everyone know today that you are God in Israel, and that I’m your servant.’

And the fire of God falls down and eats up the bull, the wood, the stones, and all the water in the trench. The people fall down to the ground saying,

Audience: ‘The Lord is God. The Lord is God.’

Elijah says, Elijah: ‘Yup. Seize the prophets of Baal.’

(Volunteer return to their seat)

And so, Elijah brings the prophets down by the brook Kishon and kills all 850 of them. Elijah tells Ahab to head home, eat and drink up, because it looks like rain. So, Ahab heads toward his house, and Elijah goes to the top of mount Carmel and prays.

He tells his servant who’s with him to go look toward the sea, but he doesn’t see anything. Elijah tells him to look seven more times, and finally on the seventh time the servant sees a little cloud rising out over the sea as small as a man’s hand. The sky turns black with clouds, and a huge rainstorm bursts over the land.

You see, it takes courage to stand up and be counted and to say no to something when everyone else around you just want to follow the crowd. It takes courage to stand up and be counted and say no when everyone else around you want to get drunk.

It takes courage to stand up and be counted and say no, when everyone else around you want to watch a film you’re not old enough to watch. It takes courage to stand up and be counted and say no when everyone else around you want to lie to your parents. Its takes courage to stand up and be counted but don’t forget this one thing, you’re not alone.

We sing that hymn,

‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus’.

I want to suggest to you that Jesus is more than capable of standing up for Himself. Maybe what we should be singing is this,

‘Stand up, stand up WITH Jesus’

Over the weekend, we’ve seen that God stood up with Joshua, Deborah and Daniel. We’ve seen that God will stand up with us at home, at school and amongst your friends. God stood up with David and God stood up with Elijah. Who knows what will happen over these next few days, weeks, months or years. Christ stood up for us and died for us, while we were still sinners.

The question is, when it’s time to stand up and be counted,

will you stand up and be counted with Christ?

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 John 3:16

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