5th November 2023

Understanding Our Rock of Help

Passage: 1 Samuel 7:12-17, 2 Chronicles 7:14
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

Just for a change, I thought tonight we'd have something that is both very old-fashioned and something which has always been a puzzle to me is sometimes you go along to church and they'll sing in the songs, in the hymns, and you don't really know what it's talking about. And many times I've been in church, although it has been explained, and not known who this person Ebenezer is. But we're going to talk about Ebenezer because there's a hymn, one of those old hymns, that used to be sung a lot and somehow or other it's come up again recently and it mentions Ebenezer, but I don't know who Ebenezer is. So help me out. Am I alone? Who else? I know now because I've been studying up about it, but who else has not always known who we're singing about when we sing about Ebenezer? Do you want to tell us? That's pretty amazing, really. The others of you didn't put your hand up. No, no. It's amazing that we have this name, Ebenezer. Now, it sounds like a common name and it's got there in the scriptures, if you look up on the screen, capital E, so probably it should be a person. But in actual fact, that's where people get confused. It's not. And actually, the name Ebenezer belongs to a rock and it's not a person at all. And so we'll read here, Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah, that's a place, and Shenn, another place, and he called its name Ebenezer. For he said, Till now the Lord has helped us. The actual meaning. The meaning has the idea that God has come and helped us. And the sort of implications of the fact that they put a rock, sometimes they had this custom of building rocks up in the middle of a river that they crossed over. Or it might be a big rock where some events came about nearby. But this is one where he's grabbed a stone. So it's not an enormous rock, but it's just a stone. And he's said, Now the scenario will tell us what is that help, as the rest of the story will tell us. We're in 1 Samuel chapter 7, verses 12 to 17, if you're looking it up in your own scriptures. But what it's about is that in the Old Testament, in the time period when there was an Old Covenant, you know that we're in the New Testament time now, which is called the New Covenant. The New Covenant was championed by Jesus. It's the New Covenant made by him as a step forward from the Old Covenant. Not that God was saying the Old Covenant was wrong, but in the times, the change of the times when Jesus came, he effected a New Covenant. The Old was introduced by Moses and the New by Jesus. But in the time of the Old Testament and the Old Covenant, God made the Old Covenant. He made the Old Covenant with Israel, that they would be his people and he'd look after them. They faced a lot of challenges, politically and militarily, in the land of Israel. A land that they'd come marching in and conquered, but always had ongoing struggles and battles and warfare with the people who they displaced, basically, or people who were in neighbouring areas. And God would somehow have to help them out. Now, God gave his people an ark. Now, that's not Noah's Ark, A-R-K, I think Noah's Ark is. I wasn't around when he named it. But the ark is A-R-C, the Ark of the Covenant. And it has to do with where was stored some of the things that God provided as mementos and tokens and aspects of those agreements that he made in the Old Covenant times. And so this Ark of the Covenant was something that was very precious and it signified the presence of God. So when they were doing a lot of moving in the times when they hadn't settled, they always had the ark in the middle of the congregation of the people. And when they were in their tribes getting ready to move, they'd all be in the right spots. Then they would have all the ones on the east and the west and the north and the south around the ark. And the ark always remained on the very inside, on the inside of their march, signifying that God was present with them everywhere they were going. But that Ark of the Covenant not only was just a picture, a symbol, but it also represented God's promise to live with them and to be with them. And when it got captured in some warfare between the Philistines and the Israelites and taken away, it was a tragic loss to the symbol of God's presence, with his own people. And so it was lost for a fair bit of time. And eventually they got it back. And when they got it back, there was a number of skirmishes that still continued on afterwards. And they had a moment where in the battle for who was going to possess the ark, God had to step in himself. And that was when it became evident that not only is the ark about a symbol for God being with them, but God... God fights his own battles. God is not one that has a people and leaves them to their own devices and to their own results of a loss here and a gain there. And when the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, everywhere they kept it. The hand of God came upon the people and they got bad diseases, they got boils all over them, they died, bad things happened. Even one of the... one of the gods that they put the ark, the Israelites' Ark of the Covenant in there with their God, he kept in the middle of the night being made to fall over and have his legs come off and all that sort of thing. This is Dagon, one of their gods. So God is busy saying that he fights his own battles. And eventually so many bad things happened to the Philistines who had the Ark of the Covenant that they knew they had to get rid of it. And they eventually tried putting it in the ark of the covenant. They put it in different places and it caused more havoc. And so eventually they put it on the back of a cart, a donkey pulling, and they sent it back to... tried to send it back to the land of Israel. So that's what the storyline is about at first. We'll read a bit more. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shem. Now this is after there'd been some more squabbles with the Philistines and some more fighting. And so the children of Israel and the Old Covenant, had this thing of God being with them, but they also had this continual fighting going on so that they were never always that safe. And it wasn't very good living if you've always got a man up and be a part of the army and go and fight off the people who are attacking you again. Much of the history of the children of Israel through the Old Covenant days was one where there were these battles going on. Anyway, the scene that's going to go here is that there's going to be a time of confession and a time of praying to God and there's going to be something symbolically done with the rock that's being talked about. And so now the Lord has helped us is going to be what the rock is meant to symbolise and say to everybody. Well, the Philistines were subdued, verse 13, and didn't again enter into the territory of Israel and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of sin. and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of sin. and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of sin. Samuel, Samuel's the prophet who was on deck in those times. And the cities of the Philistines had taken from Israel this ark and they restored it to Israel and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. Not only was the ark captured but also some of their cities and some of their land had been taken over. And so that's the general statement that mentions about this Ebenezer. And... But it isn't a person, it is just a rock. Now, what's going on here and what value does that have? Because I can remember thinking, listening in church and singing about Ebenezer and I always thought it was a bit stupid because I didn't know who Ebenezer was and I couldn't quite see the relevance of it and why put it in the hymn? And that's partly because I didn't know it wasn't a name of a person. But the way it says, it was referred to in one spot as Hereby I have raised my Ebenezer. That sounded like someone being dead and he got raised from the dead or Hereby I have raised my Ebenezer. But in actual fact, all it's talking about is the moment when Samuel was dealing with Israelites and he set up the rock to have a significance and the significance is what it's important about. The significance is that God, God stepped in and helped them. And hitherto has the Lord helped us. I think it reads in one of the older versions. In our version that you've got on the screen, now, till now, the Lord has helped us. And basically what it is, is an encouragement, an encouragement to, about the fact that if God has been with you thus far, you can trust him to keep you along the way as well. I don't know whether you're aware of Christian history, and how there's been a long-standing understanding of what salvation is. And sometimes these days, we have got a very snapshot version of most things. We think today in snapshots and people think salvation, what is it? And generally speaking, people think is you get saved because you're going to heaven. Now, it's not wrong, but it's a very, very minuscule snapshot of what is a much bigger picture. And the fact is that salvation is something that has very drastic implications for your relationship with God now. It's not just about you're going to heaven when you die. The actual thing that is most given to us when we get saved is our relationship with God to be one which is at peace. And when the Bible talks about being at peace with God, it's not just talking, it's not just talking only of, of feeling of all rest, of quietness and not worried. When it talks about peace, it's using that word peace that's more understood in the context of warfare or peace. And when you're at peace with God, it is that you've gotten right with him and he's right with you and you're in a relationship where there's peace with God. That's what the Bible's talking about. And the way that you get to be at peace with God, according to the New Testament, and the New Covenant, is not the way that the children of Israel were set up to try and attempt in the Old Covenant. They were given some good things to do, but the basic history of the children of Israel through the Old Testament is they kept failing. And what they kept failing to do was to be able to live out the things that God gave them to continue in his covenant. And you will know that the history of the children of Israel in the Old Testament is eventually God would judge them for all their rebellion and their sin, and they'd be taken away to captivity or they'd have a plague come upon them or they'd have enemy armies overtake them and ruin their nation. They just had a terrible time of it because they couldn't live out the requisites of the Old Covenant. And the reason why they couldn't live that out, God wasn't taken by surprise that they couldn't, but it was because of human sin that all of us have. That ever since the fall of humanity at the beginning of time that the book of Genesis talks about, we have been around the world, we are a race of people offside from God and having fallen, we have a sinful nature that keeps making us do bad things. Even when we seek to do good, we can do good in a prideful way or we can fail to notice that we're being people that are exhibiting anger at God and anger at others. If you don't believe about sin, just watch the news. Watch international politics. Even the people of God today, the Israelites, right? They are the people of God, but they're not Christians. And I've been repeating this in our services that you shouldn't expect of the children of Israel. Now, the Israelites, they'll represent how God really wants us to be because most of them are not Christians at all. Many of them are atheists. They are the children of God in the sense that they are Israelites and God has a purpose for Israel, but they are not yet in his kingdom. There's going to come a day, I believe, when they'll be the children of God. They'll be converted and become Christians. The book of Romans talks of that possibility. And when that happens, they will indeed be his people. And in fact, they've got a future to lead the gospel spread around the world. And just before Jesus Christ returns, they'll be busy doing it, having come to Christ. But as we see them now crossing the Holy Land and see the problems that's going on, they're not representative of what a good Christian is. What Christians really are, though I'm not criticising them for defending their territory. I'm just saying to you that they are not yet in the door to be the people God wants them to do. They're going to get into the new covenant. For that new covenant I was referring to in the Old Testament, it's written up as the new covenant for Israel. And the new covenant is going to happen to them when they get into it. We're already in it. We're in the new covenant by being Christians. But there'll be a day when they'll get converted and there's, there's much prophecy in the scriptures about what are the circumstances that have them get their backs against the wall when other nations invade them and they cry out to God and they recognise in their history that right back in the times of Jesus that they have crucified the King of Glory and they repent and become Christians. So that's an exciting thing to look forward to. There always are a few of the Jewish people, excuse me, who come to Christ and they're a bit of a, a, a small group within the larger one and you'll meet them in Christian organisations like Jews for Jesus or they're just Christians. We have some in our church who are actually Jews. And that's because Jews can become Christians but they as a nation have not yet as a whole been converted. But that will be when they get into the new covenant. But in the old covenant they exhibit what it is for a sinful group of people to be given the chance to walk with God but keeping on failing. And when they fail, things go wrong and then they have problems. And so there's a bit of a picture that we have built up for us by watching what happened in the old testament and through the Jews in the old covenant of it being a difficult thing to be at peace with God. But when you come and put faith in God and trust in Him, you can be at peace with Him whether you're in the old covenant or in the new. It was something possible for people to do business with God and come to be at peace with Him. In these times when you become a Christian it is you have to do business with Christ. You have to come and trust Him as your own personal saviour. You have to receive Him as your King of your life and you have to allow Him to be in charge in your life. And that coming to Jesus and getting His forgiveness is what gets you in the door. But even then that doesn't make everything perfect. And Uncle Dory or how do you say it you know, going well when you've come to Christ it isn't just that everything is easy. You actually have a salvation that's been begun but then needs to be worked through in two other stages. How will I say this carefully and not give the wrong idea? The first is that you get justified by coming to Christ. But having become a Christian being justified means that God accepts you into this relationship of peace with Him. This is what the New Testament teaches. And therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. That's the step one. And if you've been justified by faith though you'll have lots of ups and downs nonetheless you are headed eventually for heaven. But as it is there's a second step of salvation which is the outworking of your salvation. The Bible says that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that works in us both to do all the good things. Anyway and this is what the second phase that is called sanctification. And sanctification is God gradually changing you so that you can actually act out being a proper Christian. When you first get converted you'll discover that you still have lots of bad habits, you still have lots of angers sin still can raise its flag and wave it in your face. And there is a progress of gradually the Holy Spirit who's come into your heart when you become a Christian of changing you as you head down the Christian road. This was better understood by Christians of previous generations, probably all of you have heard about that book that was written which is Pilgrim's Progress. And what Pilgrim's Progress is about is someone in the storyline gets to come to the cross and get forgiven and then they walk a journey to eventually arrive at the promised land. It's a metaphor of how once we've found peace with God the next step of our salvation is that step of gradually being sanctified and getting closer and closer to our goal of being there with God in heaven. Now the journey of life that all of us then face as Christians is something where the progress is meant to be made and we have our ups and downs. And there is a bit of a storyline that's written in the history of the children of Israel in the Old Testament in the Old Covenant which is a painting of the metaphor for us to understand our journey in the New Covenant of gradually being sanctified as we progress as Christians through time. We're meant to make progress. I know you meet many Christians who seem to have stalled in it but it's the fact that God wants us to progress and become more and more like Christ as a part of our salvation. It isn't that you're getting more saved. You're really getting more saved. You already are saved but your salvation is being worked out as the scripture says with fear and trembling as you be working at it. Well anyway, this progress eventually was culminated when we do get to heaven and we are glorified in heaven and that's the three steps. So it's true as a statement of theology that I have been saved. It's true that I am being saved, being sanctified gradually and it's true that I will be saved when at last I get to glory and it's all made perfect. So if you have that framework in your mind you'll understand that some of the pictures that we have from the Old Testament experience of the Jews is to help us to understand lessons for this walk that we give like our pilgrim's progress in the journey of life as we gradually get sanctified. And what the lesson is that we need to learn is that the Lord is here to help us and what our friend Samuel does is to take a stone and stick it there. They used to either build stones up in the river and say every time I see these stones I remember what God did or this is one particular stone. Now we'll read a few of the verses that tell us about it. I know this is all sounding complicated but the stone is called Ebenezer and when he says at one point now I've read or the song was I forgot to tell you about the song the song was a hymn written by a Baptist minister back a century or so ago and come thou fount of every blessing does that ring more bells? Who's heard come thou fount of every blessing? That's interesting. But in verse interesting that some of you have I hadn't I did once but I didn't know I was connected to Ebenezer thought he was someone else. Anyway in the second verse here I raise my Ebenezer is the words that are sung and if we were to sing that old hymn then there'd be a second verse where we sing here I raise my Ebenezer and we've done that in this church and I've been wondering who's Ebenezer? I've forgotten again I could never get that straight. Well it's not a hymn it's a rock and the rock has a significance and when it says here I raise my Ebenezer is what I think it was Joshua or not Joshua Samuel Samuel who was leading the children of Israel that he set the rock there as a sign to bring to their memory well the Lord has helped us this far can't we trust him to go on helping? That's basically what it means. Now if you've been going through a difficult time if you can remember when you had a time it happens to many people as Christians that it's not all easy sailing becoming a Christian you find yourself landed in a spiritual struggle where all the world seems to be going in the opposite direction and you can't you can be persecuted because you're different or you can find troubles just overcoming your own personal sins or you can get into all sorts of fixes and get angry at God and get away from him and have to come back again. All of these things are fairly often happenings to Christians it doesn't make them the normal but it does make them the often experienced and so this is our Christian walk but one of the things that helps you in that Christian walk is to realise that when times were really tough Jesus came and helped you and when times were tough for the Israelites they came and helped. Now we need just to complete the story to go through a bit of the history let's go to chapter 5 if we can. Can we turn up chapter 5 on there? Alright so let's go through a little bit of the history and the storyline. When the Philistines came to Israel and captured the Ark of God they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod Ebenezer is a place remember where eventually there's going to be a rock then the Philistines took the Ark of God and brought it into the house of Dargon he's one of their gods and set it up beside Dargon and when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day behold Dargon had fallen face downward on the ground before the Ark of the Lord and they were so they took Dargon and put him back in his place but when they rose early the next morning behold Dargon had fallen face downward on the ground before the Ark of the Lord and the head of Dargon and both of his hands were lying cut off on the threshold of the room only the trunk of Dargon was left to him this is why the priests of that god Dargon and all who enter the house of Dargon do not tread on the threshold coming in they have to hop over it the hand of the lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod and terrified and afflicted them with tumours both Ashdod and his territory where the men of Ashdod stood saw how things were they said the Ark of God of Israel must not remain with us for his hand is hard against us and against Dargon our god so they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said what shall we do with the Ark of the God of Israel and they answered let the Ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath that's another place so they brought the Ark of the God of Israel there but after they had done this they brought it around next bit keep going after they brought it around the hand of the lord was against the city causing a great panic and people afflicted the men of the city both young and old so that tumours broke out on them so everywhere this Ark was broken put in captivity in Philistine land they were getting problems so they sent the Ark of God to Ekron but as soon as the Ark of God came to Ekron the people cried out they brought around to us the Ark of God of Israel to kill us and our people and they therefore sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said send away the Ark of God of Israel and let it return to its own place that it may not kill us and our people for there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city the hand of God was heavy there and the men who did not die were struck with tumours and the cry of the city went up to heaven so you're seeing there that they're having a really terrible time with that and eventually cutting a long story short they get it on the back of a cart and it's sent back to the land of Israel and when it arrives there in the town that it came to they actually kept it there not knowing what to do for 20 years it was after the 20 years that they begin to have more problems with the Philistines and as they have more problems with the Philistines there's another battle and there's a lot of warfare going on and it is that drastic challenge from the Philistines again because they've been neglecting listen they've been neglecting the Ark of the Lord and left it in one place for 20 years and Samuel's the prophet to go and tell them what they need to do and he eventually has them go through the through something which often happened in Israel where a prophet would come like Samuel and call on the people to repent and they discovered that God would often be against them not only with the Philistines coming and chasing them or other nations coming and raiding them but also when they sinned as a people God would inflict them with diseases or he'd cause them to be punished sorely some other way and so they would go through a crisis and in those crises times if there was a prophet he'd come and say the way that you handle this is that you repent and call on God now let's turn to 2 Samuel chapter 7 and verse 14 and in the Old Testament books there's Samuel Samuel Kings Kings Samuels anyway Chronicles Chronicles is in there somewhere and in 2 Samuel it's the book that follows 1 Samuel it has verse chapter 7 and verse 14 and it says ah no I think you've probably got 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 7 ok it's probably my mistake with the thing do you know the verse if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways see who can find it first I think it's 2 Samuel 7 14 but you might try 14 7 I don't know how I've got it wrong ah 2 Chronicles thank you very much 2 Chronicles is it 7 14 there are these little history books in the Old Testament Samuel Samuel Kings Kings Chronicles Chronicles alright see whether David can get there too on our screens 2 Chronicles yes that makes sense that sounds right and this verse is a verse that the people the prophets gave to Israel about what to do if you got into trouble with God and things were going wrong and and then you were called on to repent ah thank you you've got it if my people if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land so if some terrible thing came upon the people of the Old Covenant the Israelites then this was what they were told they had to do that God wouldn't hold against them the rebellion and the sin that had caused the problem to come but if they'd humble themselves and pray and seek his face in prayer and turn from their wicked ways then he will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal the problem now the children of Israel did that and they did that in the case of the Philistines getting active in warfare again and our Ebenezer being raised a stone set up for people to be able to pray and for people to be able to pray and for people to be able to be reminded that God had been with them thus far was to tell them that God hadn't left them but he's still with them and if he's done it before he'll do it again now those of us who have got a bit of a memory about Christianity there's been revivals that have come to Christianity again and again and again across the years revivals are not just a time of everything going right in the church or people going wrong in the church or people being good and happy and everything's going well but revival is characterised by the Holy Spirit coming on folk and making them convicted of their sins revivals can be small in a local area or they can be big in whole nations like the Great Awakening in the USA and Great Britain and Jonathan Edwards' time where he was a preacher who preached on repentance and he was a preacher and suddenly people came got converted to God and turned from their sins and it was so massive that the whole nation got affected it's the greatest Christian revival in Western history at least there may have been revivals in other places but it's one of the characteristics of the Christian era and by Christian era I mean the New Covenant that it has had times when God has stepped in and when he stepped in he stepped in to bring people to Christ there have sometimes been preachers that God suddenly came on and made them terribly powerful in terms of what happened when they spoke and one was Finney who was a lawyer and he actually was a religious person who'd never been properly converted and he was of best friends with the local minister Presbyterian minister in the town but eventually he must have got preached at or witnessed to by the minister enough that he knew he was not properly converted he was religious but somehow he was too big a sinner and he decided to do something about it to have a day of prayer and go out in the woods and just pray until God made him born again God made him converted God made him a Christian he wanted to be the real thing and he went out there and began to pray this and part way through the day he lost the ability to pray it he had some Bible verses go through his mind which were promises of God's salvation and he was a Christian if you ask and he simply believed them and he was unaware that he actually was getting truly converted but he didn't know it had happened he was praying hard and he couldn't be burdened anymore so he went back to his office he had a little law office in the town when he shut the door there was suddenly the presence of Christ in the room and he got turned on by the presence of Christ the way it's written up that there were waves and waves of the Holy Spirit going over him and he went out from there and began to talk to people and everywhere he went people got converted he'd go to a factory and walk in and look around and his eyes, his gaze fell on the workers they'd all start crying and repenting and he was a person who went preaching and God would lead his preaching he went to one town he didn't know what its name was and he began to preach to them but he decided the Lord had led him to preach on Sodom and Gomorrah who did not know what its name was he didn't repent and got destroyed and people began to weep and people began to howl and they all came to Christ it was only afterwards that someone told him do you know what the name of our city is it was Sodom and he preached on Sodom and the Bible and he repented they repented and there was a revival and Finney had for quite a large number of the decades of his life this revivalistic ministry that has happened down through the years not just in, that happened in America but not just in other places there have been revivals in Ireland revivals in Wales revivals over in the eastern countries where suddenly God has come and worked and one of the lessons we learn from this is that the continuance of Christianity hasn't just been left for our struggles hasn't just been us having to struggle through our sanctification and try and work it out but God comes at times to help his people and that's something that is just a fact of history it's not something that is an idea made up by Christian teachers or whatever it's something that's happened in history where God steps in and has made his church flourish sometimes it's been at occasions at times when Christianity was at a low like in Britain where there was a time where the populace were turning against religion because they turned it into something very formal and going to church and dressing well and whatever and then God stepped in and suddenly a revival movement happens and there are stories of all sorts of things going on in the Hebrides where something happened when some old ladies prayed until God stepped in and this is a pattern I think that is parallel to that which happened in the Old Testament where the people of God were the Jews under the Old Covenant and they couldn't keep it up by doing all the right things by God and then God would punish them the Philistines would come or other nations would come and they would have their difficulties but then God steps in and the storyline I haven't read it all to you you can go back and read through chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Samuel but as you do that you'll read of how God stepped in and so what Samuel the prophet actually eventually said to them when he met with them when the Philistines had started warfaring again and they started quaking in their boots wondering what's going on with them what's going to happen Samuel told them hitherto has the Lord helped us and he will again and you can know it and when you have your dark times when you have the times where things are not working out one of the greatest blessings one of the greatest helps you have is to remember back to what God sometimes has done I tell you some of those revivals happened when the church was at its weakest not because it was strong and God can do that again and in the era of the new covenant it has been a fact of history that God steps in and where we can properly use this idea of Ebenezer or have a rock or do something is to be reminded to be reminded that he has helped us before and he'll help us again and this is a promise if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn to me and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land I wonder if the Jewish people will understand that one day and turn to Christ there are some chapters in Ezekiel that talk about an invasion from the north Russia or whatever and some other nations around them coming in and looking like it's curtains for the people of Israel for the security of Israel and they cry out to the God that their history two thousand years ago turned down when he sent his Christ they put him on a cross they will look on him whom they have pierced says the prophecy of what will be the Jewish reaction they'll look on him whom they have pierced they put him on a cross they killed him it actually wasn't the full knowledge and plan of God that Jesus would bear our sins that we could be forgiven it's not a matter of earning your forgiveness he's worked it and the Jewish people will realize that the death that Jesus died on Calvary as we've been singing is for them to come back to Christ and they'll become I believe Christians the details of this it depends on your interpretation I'm not going into the details but then they're going to get around and witness to all the cities who listen to them they'll be chased down by evil forces but nonetheless the Jewish people are going to have a time when they will remember that God has helped them and that he can do it again how about you are you at a weak moment where are you there might be some of you who have never really come for forgiveness but there are some of you in the first place who have always assumed on your religion or didn't really clinch the deal because I'm a travelling evangelist have been all my life most of my life I come across people often who say I don't know that I ever got in the door sometimes it is because they didn't understand the gospel that you don't get in the door with your own credentials and you don't know you come when you admit you've got nothing when you get to rock bottom and you know you've got nothing to offer God then you hear the gospel that isn't what you have done it's his grace that will forgive you and you can get in the door when at last you see his face and you turn from your wicked ways and he will hear from heaven and that will be what you can do tonight or if you're a person that has come to Christ but you're like the dear old Jews who eventually don't bother with their Ark of the Covenant they leave it for 20 years in one spot and then their Philistines come and attack him again you've got some Philistine in your life who you thought you dealt with 20 years ago but he's come back to fight you now then remember what God has done in the past and he's come back to fight you now you need to look at the Ebenezer hitherto has the Lord helped me and we can trust him to get me the rest of the way it's the same with that sanctification as a Christian the way you go continue with your sanctification is that you recognise God has helped you thus far he'll help you get the rest of the way that storyline of John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress that's what it's all about and poor old Pilgrim's Progress and poor old Christian his name is like he's walking along in the storyline he gets captured by a big giant and he gets thrown into dungeons and he has no key also it's a picture form of saying what happens to Christian people any of those Christian people sitting here then you need to raise your Ebenezer as the language in the storyline recognise what God has done in the past I had no idea I had a time of blessing this year by remembering something that I'd learned of the Los Angeles Billy Graham crusade in 1949 where there were a whole lot of people that got converted one man was a radio announcer who was famous for his swearing and how he led the radio show and God brought him to Christ and he wrote to him everybody was surprised he used to write songs and they weren't the nice type of songs but he wrote a hymn and the hymn is one that says anybody slipped and fallen was that someone new well I've got news for you that what God's done for others he can do for you and there's many a time when when I've needed God to tell me that what he's done for others he can do for me because his grace is what keeps you going and that song somehow rang in my head to keep pressing ahead it is no secret what God can do what he's done for others he'll do for you with arms wide open he'll pardon you it is no secret what God can do and if there's anyone tonight who wants to do business with God who needs to do business with God who needs to humble themselves and pray then when we come to our final music the girls will lead us and and where is he Kieran Kieran as they lead us now in just a moment's time and as we're singing if you want to raise an Ebenezer something practical physical to help you seal the deal help you be serious in the moment sometimes if you're having a youth camp and you're on the beach with the young people I'd say draw a line in the sand step over the line and do what you're saying to yourself you're going to go all the way with Christ you're going to trust him the Ebenezer doesn't really have any magical powers it's not something about the rock or special it was just something to signify that up to now in the past the Lord has helped you and you can trust him to do it again will you trust him to do it again and I'm going to ask you to raise an Ebenezer by coming down the front when our leaders lead us in the song a little step in our small number I often have a time of call and no one comes immediately though I need to tell you I often meet people afterwards who said I wanted to but if you really want to raise an Ebenezer then come and take up the front seat sit somewhere and ask God to meet you and set you going right with him it means that you're willing if you know of any sins that you confess them to him this is not like confession in the church formally I'm saying confess to God many people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their sin and I will heal their land so you have an opportunity you have a call and it's going on now when we have our final hymn first I'll have a prayer and then we'll let them lead us Heavenly Father I thank you for this moment and I thank you for the Ebenezer it's not a person it's just a rock it's just something drawing a line in the sand and saying I'm going to mean what I'm saying now but I thank you that those Israelites learn that you are a God who doesn't lead you to the battle on your own and he's going to help you and he's been with you thus far and he's going to stay with you to the end let there be someone that you have for tonight Father we ask at least in Jesus name Amen.

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