"THE EBENEZER STONE"
Intro. The Philistines were bitter and implacable foes of Israel. There was constant conflict between them, and Israel usually got the worst of it. The Philistines had already entered into the Iron Age, and Israel had not, thus the Philistines had superior weapons. The Philistines had been oppressing them so they cried unto the Lord.
I. SAMUEL TOLD THEM THE PATH BY WHICH THEY COULD RETURN TO THE LORD.
A. Turn to the Lord with all your heart. That is repent... The word repent means to change.
1. A Sunday School teacher had asked her class of third graders what repent meant.
a. A little boy responded, "It means you are sorry."
b. A little girl said, "It means that you are so sorry you quit doing it.
c. The little girl had a better understanding of the word.
2. If you would poll the inmates at San Quintin as to whether or not they were sorry, I think that all would confess to being sorry.
3. If you questioned a little deeper, I think that for the most part you find that they were not sorry for committing the crime, but sorry that they were caught.
B. With all of your heart. God said through Jeremiah:
And ye shall seek Me, and find [Me], when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.
1. When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment He answered. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength."
2. David prayed, "Unite my heart to fear thy name."
a. A common problem is a divided heart.
b. You have a heart for God, but also a heart for other things, and you find yourself torn between the two.
C. Put away your strange gods.
1. They had been worshipping the sex goddess Ashtoroth. They were into pornography.
2. They worshipped Molech the god of pleasure.
3. Baal, the god of intellectualism.
4. Mammon, the god of power and possessions.
5. The first of the ten commandments is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
D. Prepare your heart unto the Lord.
1. Get your heart ready to meet with God.
2. This can be done in quiet meditation.
3. This is the purpose of our singing songs of praise and worship.
a. The Psalmist said, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise."
4. We are all going to meet the Lord one day. Some will meet Him in judgment.
a. The prophet Amos spoke of God's hand of judgment that had been upon the nation of Israel, and the further, judgment that was to come because they continued in sin and rebellion against Him, he said, "Prepare to meet thy God."
b. John wrote: And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
c. If Jesus should come at this very minute, I wonder how many of you would be ashamed to meet Him.
E. Serve Him.
1. Would you say that you are truly serving the Lord today?
2. Is He truly your Master?
a. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve God and Mammon.
II. THE PROMISE. "HE WILL DELIVER YOU OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES."
A. God has a promise for just about any and every situation that you might face.
1. He will deliver you from the hands of your enemies.
2. He will be with you.
3. He will bless you.
B. We used to sing a chorus, "Every promise in the book is mine, every every chapter, every verse, every line. And I'm living in His love divine, for every promise in the book is mine."
C. The response of the people:
1. They turned from their false gods.
2. They served the Lord.
3. They confessed their sins.
D. The time soon came to test the promise of God to deliver them from the hand of the Philistines.
1. When we make a commitment to the Lord it will soon be tested as to the genuineness of the commitment.
a. It is one thing to say something, quite another to do it.
b. The question is, am I really sincere in what I say, do I really mean it? Have I really turned my heart fully to God?
2. The genuineness of my commitment is discovered by testing.
III. THE PHILISTINES UPON HEARING THAT THE PEOPLE HAD GATHERED AT MIZPEH BROUGHT THEIR ARMIES TO FIGHT AGAINST THEM.
A. They had the promise of God that he would deliver them from the hands of the Philistines, now comes the test.
B. They asked Samuel to not stop crying to the Lord for them.
C. Samuel offered a sacrifice unto the Lord and called unto the Lord, and the Lord heard him.
D. As the Philistines drew near to battle, the Lord thundered upon them. and they were discomfited.
1. The Philistines began to flee with the children of Israel in pursuit.
2. We read that they were smitten by Israel.
3. They retreated clear back to Beth-car.
E. Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen and called it Ebenezer, and said, "Hitherto has the Lord helped us."
1. This morning we sang, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come."
2. I know that I have made it this far. I am here today by the grace of God. God has brought me this far.
3. I have been through many experiences in life, where I wondered if if I was going to make it, but the Lord came through and was with me and helped me.
F. These Ebenezer stones have a great value in our Christian walk. When I am under great testing it is good to see the Ebenezer stones along the path, and realize that God has brought me through every hard experience.
1. The consistent help of the Lord in the past stands as a monument to the faithfulness of God to see me through.
2. David wrote:
If Lord had not been with us, let all Israel now acknowledge, that if the Lord had not been on our side, when the enemies rose up against us, then they would have quickly devoured us, when they were angry with us. We would have drowned when the stream overflowed our souls. For the proud water went over our soul. Blessed be Jehovah who did not give us to them as their prey that they might devour us. Our soul has escaped as a bird which has escaped from a trap. The trap is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of Jehovah who made the heaven and the earth.
3. Because God has helped me to this point of my life, I am confident that having brought me safe thus far, He will see me safely home.
4. He has not brought me this far along the road to forsake me now.
5. Paul wrote the Corinthians:
For we would not have you to be ignorant brethren of the trouble which came to us in Asia, we were pressed beyond our capacity, above our strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead:
Who delivered us from death, and even now does deliver: and we trust that he will yet deliver [us];
6. The fact that He has and does, gives us faith that He shall.