Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Take it to the Enemy

Do you wish you were better equipped to defend yourself, your family and the people you care about from the enemy of your soul, Satan?  Then mark your calendars and join us for a six-part sermon series called “Taking it to the Enemy!” beginning Wednesday, March 5, Ash Wednesday!   This series is based on Jesus’ last words to his disciples in John chapters 13-18 just hours before he gave his life on the cross!  Each Wednesday of Lent we will be focusing on one particular area of our life in which Jesus equips us to defend ourselves against the enemy.  Do you realize that Satan wants nothing but hell for everyone, including you?  He is the enemy of your soul!  It’s time to be better equipped to take it to the enemy!

The following is a modern day parable by Francis Chan that describes our need to be equipped and how to equip others.  “Once upon a time, a powerful and victorious king gathered his four most trusted knights together in the great dining hall of his castle. “I’m going on a journey,” the king said. “While I am gone, I have one command for you. Build me an army. I want you to scour the land looking for those who are truly loyal to me, and then teach them how to fight, how to properly use a sword and shield. All of my resources are at your disposal.”

Each knight glanced down at the battle-worn sword that hung by his side. Years ago, the king had hand-selected these four knights and had spent countless hours teaching them the art of defending the king. When each man had mastered the craft, the king had presented him with a gleaming new sword—complete with a jewel-encrusted hilt. The swords had lost some of their luster, but none of their significance. The four knights promised the great king that they would do just as he commanded. 

The first knight zealously assembled a group of men and women. This knight realized that it took too much time to actually train all the subjects individually. He built a facility where he gave lengthy demonstrations on sword technique. He dazzled them with his speed and strength, slicing with a single blow through huge tree branches as if they were melons. Each of his subjects had been given a sword and shield, which they diligently brought back for each demonstration but they never actually used. They watched in amazement as the knight accomplished feats with his sword that they only dreamed of doing.

The second and third knights decided to work together. Things had been going well until they caught one of their subjects training with a new weapon, something the subject had invented called a bow and arrow. The soldier shot brilliantly with the bow, but the two knights couldn’t agree about its use.  “The king specifically said that we were to train people how to use the sword,” the second knight said.  “Yes, but this new weapon wasn’t invented when the king gave us his order,” replied the third knight. “I think the bow and arrow will serve our king’s army well.”  The knights argued for hours and eventually decided to split their camp. Those who wanted to fight with only swords followed the second knight. Those who fought with swords and bows followed the third. Over time, the followers of each of the knights ended up spending most of their energy and resources fighting against each other.

The fourth knight diligently set to work training a few good men. As the king had done for him, he patiently worked with this small band of warriors until they too became masters with the sword. Once they had proven their skill, the fourth knight presented each warrior with a new sword. Instead of jewels, each warrior’s sword had the king’s crest emblazoned on both sides of the handle. 

“As I have taught you, go and teach others,” the fourth knight said. “Make sure that every warrior you teach, when ready, receives a sword with the king’s crest. We must remember for whom we fight.”  Many years later, the king returned. He walked into the training facility as the first knight was finishing a demonstration. No one in the crowd stood, for they had no idea who this foreigner was. The king made his way down to the stage.
“My trusted knight, I see that you have been busy in by absence,” the king said. He then turned to the audience, “Who will come down and spar with me?”  After a few minutes, someone from the crowd shouted, “Fight the knight, for he’s the only one here truly ready for combat.”  The king turned to the first knight. “You have not done what I asked. None of the people here are ready to be useful in my army.”

Hearing of his return, the second and third knights gathered up all their warriors and presented themselves to the king. The second knight and all the “sword-only” people stood to the right. The “sword and bow” crowd stood with the third knight to the left.  “See here, king,” said the second knight. “I have been diligent to carry out your order with perfection. No other soldiers can rival my division with the sword.”  “I too have been busy,” said the third knight, stepping in front of the second. “My army consists not just of swordsmen, but also of warriors competent with the bow and arrow.”  The king embraced both the knights. “What happened to you two? When I left, you were close like brothers. Now your pride has crippled your effectiveness. Had you worked together, you could have presented me with a group of battle-ready soldiers ten times the number I see before me.”

That evening, the fourth knight met the king in the great dining hall, and bowed down on one knee.  “How large is your army?” the king asked.  “Your majesty, I don’t know,” the fourth knight replied. “I have taught only small groups of warriors ever since you left. I have tried to honor your command.”  “Yes you have,” the king said. “On my long and arduous return, in every village I stopped, there were well-trained warriors that all carried a sword adorned with my crest. When I asked who had trained them, the reply was always different. No one ever mentioned your name, or the names of the other knights. I was curious, so I inquired of the royal blacksmith. In all, there are now over a million swords with my crest in the hands of capable soldiers, thanks to you.”  The king helped the fourth knight to his feet, and embraced him. “Well done, good and faithful knight.”  (Author: Francis Chan)

So tell me, which knight are you?  It’s time to be better equipped so that we can equip others!  Mark your calendars for March 5 as we launch this series: Take it to the Enemy!

-Pastor Chris