Adapted from a sermon “The Impact of One” by Pastor Kelvin L Jones (02 Jan 2016)
Text: I Samuel 14:1-23
Alvin York was one of the most decorated soldiers of the US Army in World War I. During a heated battle 6 soldiers were killed and 3 were injured after this York found himself in command of the 7 remaining soldiers. Though he did not act alone, his leadership had a tremendous impact on those who were with him. He received the Medal of Honour for leading an attack on a German machine-gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 20 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others.
His story proves that one person can have an impact on many others.
The Bible is filled with stories where one individual had a positive impact on others.
God used one man to deal with the whole nation of Philistines for 20 years.
God used 301 persons to put an end to Israel domination of the Midian.
God used one faithful shepherd boy to destroy a giant that intimidated a nation.
He used one reluctant servant and his brother to deliver His people from the mighty hand of Pharaoh.
He used one rebellious preacher to bring revival to Nineveh.
He used a great persecutor of the church to reach the Gentiles with the Gospel.
In our text, we find one of those occasions where one faithful servant had a tremendous impact. Jonathan stepped out on faith and trusted the Lord. The Israelites were in the midst of a great war. They were outnumbered and overwhelmed, and it seemed that defeat was imminent. But Jonathan trusted the Lord and through him the Lord wrought a great victory.
Through his story, we see the positive impact that one person can have on others. If you will obey Him, God can use you to have an impact on your family, your community, your church and even beyond.
Let’s begin by considering what started that battle was a long-time war between the two nations.
- The War (I Samuel 13-14)
The war that is described here is between the Philistines and the Israelites. In I Samuel 13, Saul choose 3,000 selectmen from the forces of Israel. Jonathan won a great battle against the Philistines at Geba. This intensified the Philistines hatred of the Israelites. The Philistines gathered an army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Many men of Israel became fearful. They hid in caves, holes and cisterns. Others crossed over Jordan and hid in the land of Gad. Other surrendered as slaves to the enemy to avoid been killed.
Today, as Christians we find ourselves in the midst of a war. Though it is a war that has already been won, but the battle rages on. It is a war that began just before Lucifer was cast down from Heaven. It is a war that will continue until he is cast even further down to the Lake of Fire.
We can rest assured that the victory is ours. But we still have a responsibility to fight. This battle involves Christian soldiers and powers of darkness. As the war between the Israelites and Philistines, our battle is also a perpetual one. As one is finishing, another one is starting.
Throughout the Bible, God’s people were usually outnumbered in battles. Yet they always win. Things are no different today. The people we are fighting are more in number than us. The battle we fight is not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12
All in plurals. But our Commander is more powerful than all of them put together.
- The Troops – (1 Samuel 14:1-7)
Saul and his troops were encamped at Gibeah. At this point, his forces had dwindled from several thousand down to 600. The 600 that remained feared greatly.
Then there was Jonathan – v1 Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
Jonathan had a loyal servant who was his “armour bearer”. An “armour bearer” was an officer selected by kings and generals because of loyalty and bravery. He was expected to carry the king’s armour and to stand by him in a time of danger. And that is exactly what this man did.
Notice his reply to Jonathan in verse 7 – And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
As we look at the church today it seems that the number of “troops” is dwindling.
There are many who were once on the front lines who have retreated.
Some are weary from the fight.
Some are intimidated by the enemy.
Some are absent without been given leave, some have fled, and some are hiding.
Others remain in the battle, but they are trembling with fear.
Some refuse to approach the front lines but prefer to stay behind …choosing instead to let others first face the arrows of the enemy and are ready to retreat if things are getting tough.
When people flee rather than fight, this puts the remaining troops in danger.
My experience with sentry in Liberia. It worsened my sleeping pattern to date.
One person can have a major impact on others, it may be positive, and it can be negative.
It is vital that we link up shoulder to shoulder in this battle and fight the good fight. We must press on when we want to quit. We must realize that there is an intense adversary that is on the prowl. Satan is always looking to attack. He wants to attack you, your family, your church and he wants to attack your fellow soldiers.
III. The Enemy (I Samuel 14:8-11)
The Philistines were a very powerful enemy. They were great in number …they had as many warriors as the seashore had grains of sand. They had 3,000 chariots and 6,000 charioteers. They were confident in their abilities.
As Jonathan and his armour bearer approached them, they laughed at them. They said “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!” Then they taunted them and said, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” Not knowing that their sentence was a prophecy fulfilled that they were in trouble.
We have an adversary who is intense and intimidating. He has vast resources at his disposal. He has thousands of years’ worth of experience. He is extremely powerful. He is constant in his attacks and in many ways, he is very successful. In fact, if we try to fight him on our own, we will surely fail.
Our enemy is very cunning. He has a great strategy and desires to affect our ability and will to fight. In the latter verses of chapter 13 we are told that the Philistines cut off the blacksmiths of the Hebrews. If they had no one to sharpen their swords and spears they would be greatly impacted in the battle.
As Christians we have been supplied with spiritual armour. In Ephesians 6 we are told of The Belt of Truth, The Breastplate of Righteousness, The Shoes of Peace, The Shield of Faith, The Helmet of Salvation and The Sword of The Spirit.
Just as the Philistines attacked the weapons of the Israelites, Satan will attempt to hinder you from putting on the whole armour of God. There are many Christian soldiers today who are trying to fight battles with dull swords!
We are in a constant battle and we must remain in contact with our Commanding Officer through prayers and the words of God. We must put on our whole armour. We must make sure our sword is sharp and handy ready for battle!
The Battle (I Samuel 14:12-13)
Israel’s troops had diminished to a very small number of men. Then, Jonathan and his armour bearer left those other 600 and went to fight alone. But they had a drive and a desire to fight for what was right. This battle that we are in is not an easy one. There will be hardships and difficulties along the way.
Characteristics of the current battle
- Our Battle Is An Inconvenient Battle – v4 “And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side and a sharp rock on the other side”
Things did not come easy for Jonathan. He found himself literally “between a rock and a hard place”. Others may have looked at the difficulty and retreated, but he pressed forward. – v6 Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
Fighting battles in the Christian life is not easy. Many of us have chosen to serve God as at when it is convenient. But the service of God can be costly. We may face insurmountable odds. We may have to step out of our comfort zone. But like Jonathan, we must remember who we serve!
Let us say like Jonathan did ” nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
– We must sacrifice our desires, overcome our fears and press on …no matter how difficult the situation may be.
Our enemy will do all that is within his power to intimidate us and provoke fear. His desire is for you to run and hide. Unfortunately, like the Hebrews, many have done just that. But praise God there are some who are on the front lines today. There is a word of warning to those who are in the fight as we speak. This battle is an intense one.
- Our Battle Is An Intense Battle – And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
This was a very intense moment for Jonathan. I would imagine that the adrenaline was flowing, and his heart was racing. But he looked to the Lord for help and took that first step into this battle.
When you enter the battle things will get intense. The enemy will mount a vicious attack. There will be times when it seems that defeat is imminent. You look at the odds and say, “it is not worth it”. Many times, at this point you will be tempted to walk away from the fight. This is exactly what the enemy wants. Because he knows Who you are fighting for. He already knows the great power of the Lord. He knows that he cannot defeat Him.
Maybe you are on the brink of surrender as we speak. What should you do? Look to the Lord, trust Him and press forward. That is what Jonathan did – In v12 he said – “Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. 13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him”
As a result of his steadfastness, Jonathan saw something amazing. He saw the Lord show up and fight for Him! When we are faithful in the fight, we can see some amazing things as well.
The Victory (I Samuel 14:14-20)
As soon as they entered the heat of the battle the Philistines fell before Jonathan. Those who came behind them were killed by the amour bearer. Between the two of them they killed 20 men.
After this the other Philistines began to panic. Then the Lord sent a great earthquake. As all of this is going on, Saul saw the Philistines in disarray. It was then that he realized that Jonathan was missing. The confusion among the Philistines began to spread. By the time Saul and his men arrived, the Philistines were killing one another. The war was not over but the Lord gave the Israelites victory in this battle.
As Christians, we are all in the midst of an intense battle against an intimidating adversary. We will never be victorious own our own power. But we have been provided with everything necessary for a great triumph.
We must remember Who we are fighting for. More importantly, we must remember Who is fighting for us. And through His Word, we find that victory is possible.
Like Jonathan, if we are faithful to the Lord; we can have a positive impact. We also see that others were greatly impacted as a result of his victory.
The Resurgence (I Samuel 14:21-23)
Notice v21 Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle. 23 So the LORD saved Israel that day:
We are told that the Hebrews who had gone over to the Philistine army re-joined Saul, Jonathan, and the rest of the Israelites.
This likely refers to those who had been captured and enslaved by the Philistines. There were also some who had deserted the army and hid in Ephraim. When they saw the disarray of the Philistines they returned as well. All of this was possible because of the impact of Jonathan and his armour bearer. God can use one person to have a great impact today. In fact, each of us are having an impact whether we know it or not.
Some are having a negative impact. One dissatisfied or rebellious person can cause great division in a local church. One leader can neglect his or her duties and the entire group will dissolve. Often, we hear of entire churches falling apart after a pastor is involved in moral failure. Those are just the negative impact of just a person.
Just as those Hebrew troops abandoned Saul and fled the battle, from several thousand; they remained only 600; many Christians have neglected their responsibilities today. They have neglected to be what God has called them to be. They refuse to do what He would have them to do. They will not go where He has called them to go.
Each time that we say no to God, other people are impacted by our disobedience. On the flip side, each time one of God’s children says “yes” and obeys Him, people are impacted in a positive way.
God can use you to change the course of this church. He can use you to have an impact on your home. You can be the one to reach your family for Jesus. One obedient servant could have an impact on an entire nation!
How is this possible? It starts with your availability – Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ’Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ’Here am I! Send me.”
We need some people here who will say to God “here am I, send me”! You say, “I can’t” but God says, “I can”! He is not concerned with your ability He is concerned with your availability. Think of how many people you come in contact with on a daily basis. You are having an impact on them… make it a positive one!
- Sister Tolu and Yimika in Choir (Just one year, always there)
- Woman that only just joined, one of the last persons to leave, cleaning
- There is one of our brothers, who has said to me that he may just be here for 2 Sunday a month; and possibly for a year. But they want to help.
- What can you do?
Maybe you are here, and you ask “how is it possible for God to do an amazing work through me? It is possible when you do what Jonathan did.
- See the need…
- step out on faith and desire to do something…
- trust the Lord to guide you…
- do what you have been called to do…
- refuse to give up or surrender …
- then allow God to secure the victory through you.
Just as the Hebrews saw a resurgence in their troops after this battle, we could see a resurgence in this church. And you could be the Jonathan that God uses to accomplish this feat. Let me show you how this is possible:
Suppose that the Lord has spoken to you through this message today. You see the battle that needs to be fought. You know who the enemy is, and you are ready to put on the armour and go to war.
You begin by coming to the altar and fully surrendering to the Lord. You ask Him for direction. He gives that direction and you follow. You go home and begin to faithfully serve Him. Your husband or wife takes notice. Eventually, they come on board and fight alongside you just as Jonathan’s armour bearer did. Together you enter the battle and you begin to see the Lord defeat the enemy. Your children are then impacted by your lives.
You begin to be bold and courageous and your fellow church members take notice. Then some of them join in the fight. What began as one person now spreads to four or five. The others begin to have an impact in their homes. Their children begin to get saved one my one. They follow up their salvation with baptism. Lost family and friends come to the baptism service as a sign of support. Some of them are them reached with the gospel. Some of them are saved. Then they begin to have an impact on their family, friends, schoolmates, neighbours and co-workers.
Perhaps some of them have already been saved but they backslid along the way. They are impacted and they return to the Lord. Then they begin to have an impact on their family, friends, schoolmates, neighbours and co-workers. Those people are reached with the gospel and some of them are saved.
Then one of these revitalized Christians says, “I am going to teach a class”. Or I am going to volunteer to work with this department or that department. They begin to have an impact on others in the assembly. Revival breaks out in the church. God begins to move in a mighty way.
The word begins to spread around town that great things are happening at EFA. Some of those church members who have become inactive and wallowing in the captivity of the evil one decide to visit the church out of sheer curiosity. When they arrive; the Lord gets a hold of them and they are impacted as a result.
Then they go home and begin to have an impact on their family, friends, schoolmates, neighbours and co-workers… The fires of revival continue to spread.
Church resurgence/revival is very possible. We have seen it first-hand in this assembly before. Obviously, the Lord is the One who made it happen. But He used one person to reach another, and that person reached someone and then they reached another and so on.
Maybe you are asking the obvious question “Why can’t it happen now?” The fact of the matter is that it can! Some may be asking another question… “why isn’t it happening?” It isn’t happening because many of you are not allowing it to happen!
Your personal disobedience will hinder what the Lord wants to do in this place! You may say… “But I am only one person”. You are correct… and that is all it takes to have an impact!
Someone has said: I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. “What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.”
The war is real… the battle is ragging… the troops are few… the enemy is powerful… victory is available… and resurgence is possible.
If you will be obedient today, you will see “the impact you can make”.
1 Ho! my comrades, see the signal,
Waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing,
Victory is nigh!
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”
Jesus signals still,
Wave the answer back to Heaven,
“By Thy grace we will.”
2 See the mighty host advancing,
Satan leading on;
Mighty men around us falling,
Courage almost gone.
3 See the glorious banner waving,
Hear the bugle blow;
In our Leader’s Name we triumph
Over every foe.
4 Fierce and long the battle rages,
But our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander,
Cheer, my comrades, cheer!
Hold the Fort written by Phillip Paul Bliss relates to something that happened during the American Civil War. A company of Union soldiers was commanded to defend an important supply depot at Altoona Pass. (A million and a half rations were stored there.) Soon surrounded by a much stronger force of Confederate troops, it looked as though the cause was hopeless. But suddenly, an officer caught sight of a white signal flag been flown from Kenesaw Mountain, 20 miles away. Soon, a message was conveyed across the miles: “Hold the fort; I am coming.” (William Tecumseh Sherman). A cheer went up from the men, and they redoubled their efforts and were able to hold on until Sherman arrived with reinforcements and drove the enemy back.
Bliss took this as an illustration of our spiritual conflict, and of the need to remain faithful to our charge and continue on until Christ comes again.
Ho, my comrades! see the signal waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
There is also a fascinating story behind Philip Bliss’s song, Let the Lower Lights Be Burning. A harbour on Lake Erie, at Cleveland, was set up with a series of lights to guide ships in safely. Above the harbour was a lighthouse. Then, along the channel that led to an inner basin that was the Cleveland harbour there were a series of lamps lit.
But one day, the man responsible for lighting the lower lights carelessly neglected his duty. He reasoned that the lighthouse was good enough, and no one had ever yet failed to make the harbour. So, he decided not to bother igniting the channel lights.
That night a terrible storm blew up, with waves rolling in like mountains, and the moon and stars obscured by black clouds. Nearing the harbour was a ship, and on deck this conversation took place between the captain and the pilot, amid the roar of the storm:
“Are you sure this is Cleveland?” asked the captain.
“Quite sure, sir,” replied the pilot.
“Where are the lower lights?”
“Gone out, sir.”
“Can you make the harbour?”
“We must, or perish, sir!”
But they did not make it. And the ship went down with great loss of life. Bliss applied this story to the need for Christians to share their faith. From heaven shines the great light of the gospel, through the Word. But we bear the lesser lights along the shore, commissioned to guide sinners into the safe harbour of God’s salvation.
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning!
Send a gleam across the wave!
For to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
In summary, no man can hold God on ransom. If we are many, God will grant us victory. Guess what? If we are only but few. God will also grant us victory. To shock you, God specialises and also prefers to use the few, for His power to be made known (Judges 7:2). Will you be among those few? Talk to God and let the pastor know what God has impressed upon your mind.
Anointing to prevail. There are many battles to be fought this year according to RCCG worldwide prophecy.
One thing God has assured us though is that we will be victorious.
This anointing will make you prevail in 2020.
The Israelites prevailed in battle against the Amalekites in our theme for the month because Moses’ hands were strengthened.
Whatever it takes for you to prevail in 2020, God will do it.
In life, I have figured out that one of two things may be happening. It is whether you are prevailing, or you are being prevailed over. There are times in the lives of the children of Israel that either of the two would be happening.
The anointing of today is for you to prevail this year.
Touch not my anointed, do my prophet no harm. This year, no evil hand will touch you; no harm will come upon you.
As you are been anointed, your confession shall be I will prevail in 2020.
Father, strengthen my hands
Father, use me to strengthen other people’s hands.
Father, send those that will strengthen my hands to me.
Father, use me to strengthen Your work on earth.
The sermon was delivered on January 26, 2020.