The Heart of a Champion

 
 

What an incredible past two months it has been! From “Day 1” (August 11) we have seen tremendous progress in the faith of all the disciples here! August 25 we hosted our 20th Anniversary service where 125 were in attendance to hear the proclamation of the Gospel! Then a few weeks later both of our sister churches in New York City and Boston celebrated their anniversaries with high powered worship services! Truly God is using the Smellie’s (NYC) and the Rohn’s (Boston) in a spectacular way to reach the lost at the edges of their territory! Additionally, the NYC Church just started a Bible Talk in Philadelphia where we will be planting a church next summer! And the our sister church in Chicago is now overseeing a remnant group in Toronto which is just a few hours away from Syracuse! Certainly God is using his church to accomplish great things in all of the Northeastern part of the United States!

In 1 Samuel 17 we read that Goliath is referred to as “a champion” – which in the Hebrew is literally “man of the two middles” – because he was chosen by the Philistine army to fight a single combat that would determine the whole battle. By that definition the man chosen by the Israelites would also be a champion. So, too, David was a champion! Just two weeks ago a dear friend of ours, Sam, was baptized into Christ! He faced much hardship in his home country of Sudan where he literally fought for freedom. Then God brought Sam all the way to America to start his life afresh, but more importantly, to bring Sam into a relationship with him! However, Sam’s inspiring life as a champion of Sudan pales in comparison to the life he will now live as a Champion in God’s Kingdom!

Though Sam is a great example of a champion, it is equally inspiring to read about the godly champions through many books of the Old Testament. Before becoming a king David had a special heart. In fact, it was so special that God noticed it and appreciated it as a heart after His own. Samuel had done a lot to turn the Kingdom of God around. In fact, the people basically begged Samuel for a king and under God’s orders Samuel gave them what they wanted, a king – Saul. Though Saul was a valiant leader and fearless in times of battle, he soon succumbed to the people around him and gave into his fears. As a consequence to him giving into his fear and therefore not fully obeying God, God took from Saul His Spirit. Saul was still king. But without the Spirit of God a man can only lead so well and for so long. God was seeking for a new king. A king with a golden heart. The heart of a champion.

In 1 Samuel 16 we read about Samuel finding David through his father Jesse and anointing him. This anointing was not the start of his kingship but it was the start of his calling. Most commentators believe that the latter part of 1 Samuel 16 takes place after David defeats Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. This would not be any sort of contradiction as the Samuel books were not intentioned to be written chronologically. This is common throughout the Bible. So we know that much of Israel’s first glance at David was on that victorious day the Israelites defeated the Philistines and David cut off the head of Goliath. What an introduction!

As David approached the battle lines (1 Samuel 17:22) he was in full sprint anxious to see what was going on and to greet his brothers whom he hadn’t spent time with in well over a month. The fighting men of Israel were “dismayed and terrified” at the sight and threats of Goliath. David was disgusted. Being full of faith and full of zeal for God he volunteered to take on the giant. How was David able to be so confident? Very simply, he was close to God. First we see that David was “Faithful in a Time of Doubt”. God gave David every reason to believe he could defeat Goliath. In fact, when a lion or a bear would attack his flock and carry off his sheep he would go after it and rescue his sheep. If when he rescued the sheep the lion or bear would turn on him he would grab the wild beast by its hair (Referencing the facial hair in Hebrew) and strike it down dead! No monster was too much for the Lord!

Secondly, David was “Fearless in the Face of Death”! As David came up over the ravine of the valley between the Israelites and the Philistines he crossed the battle line in full sprint (1 Samuel 17:48) to meet Goliath face to face. Was David scared? I think he was. But not at this point. He writes in Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” His answer to ridding his heart of any fear at any time was seeking God. Sometimes we take seeking God for granted as it is a process. When actually, our hearts are lazy and we don’t think to inquire of the Lord. Seeking God is the first fundamental step to knowing Him but we never stop doing so. It is a basis for all of our actions as Christians. The fighting soldiers were fearful because they did not have closeness with God. Perhaps they hadn’t thought to inquire of the Lord. That is the problem! We must always seek after God and in doing so inquire of the Lord in all situations.

The hearts of God’s people were far from God. They may had been (some of them) holding to the Law and upholding God’s righteousness to a certain a degree. But, as a whole they were faithless. Bottom line: 1) Those who lacked faith needed to “Repent of their Disbelief”; 2) Those who doubted God’s presence needed to “Be Restored from their Distrust”; and 3) Those who had forgotten God’s commands needed to be “Reminded of their Disobedience”! I pray that none of us have fallen into Satan’s traps this much. Faith, trust, and obedience are essential to being sold out for God! Are you willing to step out on faith, expressing it to those around you? Are you zealously running toward your obstacles with a faith and fearlessness that God will fight the battle in your favor? These are truly signs of the heart of a champion.

After David cut off the head of Goliath I can only imagine him standing just yards from the Philistine line staring into the eyes of the enemy. Then in a sudden jolt of excitement hold high the head of Goliath signifying the victory of God’s people! With that, “the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines”. Can you imagine being there on that day? Can you imagine the feeling after 40 days of fear, being able to surge toward your enemy in full confidence that God had handed them over to you? At this point there was no doubt in Israel in the power of God! And David did say, “the battle is the Lord’s”. Giving our battles to the Lord for Him to fight will assure us (God’s Kingdom) victory! Amen!

Before us is the salvation of Syracuse. A “giant” population of hundreds of thousands of souls is at stake! You may say, “But there aren’t hundreds of thousands of people in Syracuse?” You are right. But our territory is all of Central New York! Who is going to plant churches in other large cities like Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany? Syracuse will! You will. Therefore this is a giant task. On top of that, there are over 40 collegiate schools in and around Syracuse that need Campus Ministries. We must face these “Goliath’s” with great faith and fearlessness!

Because of the great need for more Bible Talks we will be starting a Zealots Class that will meet weekly. This class will have a high level of training and accountability for those who attend. The lessons will be deeply rooted in the Word and will expose leadership secrets from all books of the Bible. Literally. I especially invite the campus students to come join in this opportunity. Having graduated the International College of Christian Ministry with my Bachelors this past August I greatly want to pass on much of the training that I received to others. I also believe this is needed to advance the Kingdom in a more forceful way.

Also, as David brought food and supplies to those on the front lines of battle he set a great example and principle of sacrifice for us. Evidently, the people back home would support the fighting men with whatever they needed in time of war. Similarly, come November 24th we have our November Missions Contribution! Many soldier disciples are on the front lines of their city and they simply do not have the resources they need to continue fighting because either they are less fortunate or are still not yet at a size to be self supporting. So this contribution will go directly toward the planting of several churches in the near future including Sydney, Australia; Gainesville, Florida; and Santa Barbara, California. These teams are set and ready to go! As of now they are locking in jobs and living situations to secure their landing! We need to be praying for these valiant disciples as they prepare for their moves! Now, keep in mind, that any money we raise above our goal of $18,000 we get to keep here and spend in Syracuse. Very excitingly, I am praying for at least one new intern to be hired on by January 1, 2014!

We also need to be praying for our sister church in London, England! Next week they will be hosting the European Missions Conference where hundreds will gather from all over the world to celebrate this momentous event! We especially need to be praying for our leadership as they will be meeting to discuss plans to further the gospel throughout Europe and into Africa!

Brothers and sisters, as we continue fighting alongside one another let us remember the words of David as he said, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Let us pray continually for our God to fill us with zeal and fervor as we fight against Satan and his evil scheme against this great city! Much more is at stake than what meets the eye. We must see things the way God sees them. With that mindset we can take great confidence in our God! Taking on the heart of a champion is the goal of each disciple! As Christians we all must take on Goliath so that “the whole world will know that there is a God”!

All praise and glory goes to God our Father in heaven!
With Much Love,
Joel Parlour