Dare to Climb

Chuck Allen // @achuckallen // chuck@sugarhillchurch.com

1 Samuel 14 

There are events in history that are watershed moments and radically affected our world.

Some of the most recognized are the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 Theses on Castle Church door, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Armstrong’s walk on the moon, and the 9-11 terrorist attack. There are plenty of others, but the point is that some days are more than another 24 hour period of time.

Some days may not make national headlines, but the impact on an individual or family can produce significant challenges like the day I heard, your wife has cancer. Some families have experienced the tragedy of an unexpected death, or a heart attack, or a bitter divorce. Some events are triumphant – the birth of a baby, a significant promotion, or the surprise of an IRS refund.

While some days may not be as memorable as others, the Bible says,”This is the day the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” Psalms 118:24. We, the people of God have to learn how to see every day as a valuable gift. Moses exhorted the people of God to pray for wisdom that we would understand how to number our days. Psalms 90:12. Our day may not be historic, but each day is holy and significant. Let’s not waste a single day – They all matter! Time is not like money – you can make that money back – but when you surrender time – it’s gone.

I believe that the double-dog dare to this world is that we might max out every day instigating  purpose, vision, values and world-changing, life-altering love!

One man who understood the principle of numbering his days was Jonathan, the son of King Saul. What we tend to remember about this man is that he was David’s friend – and humbly acknowledged David’s calling to be the next king of Israel.

Jonathan never demanded that the throne be passed down to himself as the reigning prince. In 1 Samuel 14, we discover that Jonathan was an incredible soldier who possessed an amazing faith in the LORD. There came a day in his life when Jonathan decided life was too precious to waste. One historic day Jonathan chose to become a Vertically Inclined person.

The account of 1 Samuel 14 begins with Israel’s army hiding in the caves of Gibeah after having been defeated in battle by the Philistines. The Bible says that, after Israel defeated the Amorites and Jonathan defeated a group of Philistines in a small skirmish, Saul foolishly declared war against the Philistines who were “as numerous as the sand” 1 Samuel 13:5.

Saul’s soldiers knew they were over-matched, and they were “trembling in fear” 1 Samuel 13:7. Saul’s arrogance in going to battle against a superior enemy without seeking the LORD’s will led to additional disobedience. Unwilling to wait for the prophet Samuel, the arrogant King Saul foolishly offered a sacrifice. Instead of divine blessing, Samuel, who arrived just after Saul finished the offering, rebuked Saul saying, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” – 1 Samuel 13:14

Israel’s army retreated to the caves of Gibeah. While Saul’s army was hiding, the Philistines raided the neighboring villages confiscating all of their weapons. When we come to Chapter 14, the Bible says that only two swords remained. Among all of Saul’s troops Saul and Jonathan each had a sword. The rest of the army had resorted to using farm tools for weapons.
So, now they need a new plan. Where do you turn, when you need a new plan?

Well, Jonathan knew what to do and we should too!

When you need a new plan – you need a Daring Faith. You can’t have a Daring Faith if you don’t  start by Boldly Searching for God

In this defeated, depressed, and discouraging circumstance, Jonathan made a choice to search for God. The Bible says, “One day Jonathan said let us go look for the LORD”. When do you make necessary changes in your life? One day when you become sick and tired of being sick and tired. One day when you stop trying to destroy your life and start trusting a loving God who can deliver you from the shallowness of self help books and gimmicks.

Change begins and hope erupts one day when you realize like Jonathan – that God does not dwell in the cave of arrogance, disobedience, and cowardice. God is on the mountain. That is why the Psalmist said, “I lift my eyes to the mountain. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of the heaven and earth” Psalms 121:1-2

Jonathan realized the Lord was not in the caves of Gibeah where his father had set up camp. He needed to go where God was working. Listen friend, “You can’t go with God and stay where you are.” We’ve got to be willing to go, to look and search for God-sized, divine activity. Jonathan says to his armor bearer, “Let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf” 1 Samuel 14:6. The main point of the story is not to propose a military strategy of picking a fight with a superior enemy, but Jonathan’s actions reveal the godly principle of “going with God.” Do you want a life filled with challenge, victory, hope, victory and more hope? You can’t stay where you are AND go with God!

Throughout the Bible – God calls His people to GO! God told Abraham to go to a new land. God called Moses to go back to Egypt. God told Joshua to follow closely because they were going where they had never been before. We find the “go principle” in the final instructions given by Jesus who promised to be with us always, when we “go into all the world to make disciples” Matthew 28:18-20. Vertically inclined people seek the Lord where He can be found. God is always working, but we must be willing to go.

Search for God & Select friends wisely

Searching for God can be difficult at times, but you don’t have to do it alone. Woven in the fabric of this story is the importance of selecting or choosing friends wisely. Often the company we keep determines success or failure. The Bible warns in Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous use caution when choosing friends because the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Other Bible passages stress the importance of selecting friends wisely, “Bad company corrupts good morals” 1 Corinthians 15:33. Solomon said “two are better than one for they have a good return for their labor” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Jonathan’s choices in the camp were an arrogant and disobedient king or soldiers who were “quaking with fear.” Sometimes the best choice  is new friends! We are called to be friendly, but everyone doesn’t have to be your friend.

Jonathan found one man who shared a kindred spirit. One guy in the camp recognized true courage, godly leadership, and a daring faith. I love the words spoken by Jonathan’s armor bearer, “I am with you heart and soul.” (14:7). We all need friends like Jonathan’s armor bearer. Friends who build up not tear down; friends who inspire confidence not inflict criticism; friends who encourage a daring faith not discourage taking risks; friends who support with heart and soul; not just those who stick around for the party. Who you associate with is one of the few decisions over which you have 100% control. Pray for godly, motivated friendships, and take time to develop them. Be kind to everyone in your path, but in relationships share like-minded values and passions.

Jonathan was surrounded by people with excuses. They had several “legitimate reasons” for staying stuck in a cave of defeat and despair. The Philistines are too strong. We are out of weapons. We are just following our arrogant King. It is the government’s fault. No one can deny that these men faced huge challenges, but we serve a God who does the impossible.

To experience the power of God you must sever ties with those who prefer to hide in dusty caves and join heart and soul with those who will climb mountains for the glory of the God.

Seek God – Select friends wisely & Strive for victory
Jonathan didn’t just want to escape hiding in the cave; he wanted victory over the enemy. He desired a life of excellence and success. Mediocrity was never an option, so Jonathan climbed. He did the unthinkable to accomplish the impossible. Jonathan’s climb paints a picture of victory being available to those who are willing to move to a higher level of daring faith, those who are willing to leave a comfort zone, those who are willing to risk being different from the crowd, and those who embrace the Daring call of God upon their life.

Victory is ultimately accomplished by God. Jonathan clearly states that he will not fight unless he perceived, “that the Lord has given them into our hands.”, but he understands that he has a role to play in the defeat of the Philistines. Taking risks and climbing mountains is not the same as training for climb. When Peter walked on water, he stepped out of the boat only after Jesus commanded him to come out on the water. Jonathan steps out or climbs up to fight with confidence that he has received a word from God.

Victory is rarely a spontaneous event. It usually comes after significant preparation, determination, and consecration. To be painfully honest, most people refuse to pay the price for victory. But, the sad reality is that the price of failure is far greater. Defeat, discouragement, fear, depression, and missed opportunity, are incredible costs compared to the dedication to climb.

We were created to climb higher, run faster, and fly farther by the power and purpose of God. Climbing is a matter of attitude not age, academics, or some external circumstances.

We are called to be vertically inclined followers of Jesus – people who look to the mountains and set our minds on things above.  We should expect our God to show Himself strong on behalf of His kids. Victory is not for the tame and timid; it is reserved for those few who walk to the beat of a different drummer. But Christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists.

Like the soldiers of Saul’s army, our tendency is to retreat in the face of enemy threats and difficult trials. Instead of dusty caves, we hide behind dusty traditions that choke the passion and vitality of any expression of daring faith. Paul warned us that in the later days people will hold to a form (pattern, tradition) of godliness but deny its power. 2 Timothy 3:5. When form replaces faith and pattern substitutes for power, Christianity becomes another world religion designed to keep us in line with everybody else in the cave.

It’s hard to imagine Jesus enduring the agony of the cross to keep us in line. Jesus began a revolution to secure our freedom. I am still overwhelmed that Jesus would embrace someone like me. Perhaps the great tragedy of our time is that most of us who declare Jesus as Lord have become too domesticated. We have lost the passion and power of a daring faith.”

We began today’s teaching by examining the life of a young man who was bold enough in his faith to climb a mountain, to pick a fight with the enemy, and to believe the one true God would accomplish a mighty victory. It seems fitting to conclude with another story of a warrior who left an inspiring legacy to those who bear his name.

Jonathan’s motto and our challenge is simply CLIMB. God is on the mountain. He is inviting you to meet Him there, so CLIMB! Whatever your mountain – CLIMB!



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