Well, our God never fails. Amen? Amen. Amen. Well, some of the family and our friends there. This week, you get to hear from our family ministries pastor, Jason Gaston.
Yes. What do you love so much about Jason Gaston? Well, for one thing, dad, no offense, but he's way funnier than you. Sorry.
Well, you're not wrong about that. I do have to, I will freely admit that he is way funnier than me. Aren't you going to ask me the same question about pastor Jason?
All right, dad. What do you love most about Jason Gaston? Thank you for asking me. I appreciate that.
Jason Gaston is one of the most passionate and most joy-filled people we have here at the Summit Church. I have no doubt that as you listen today, you're going to be challenged and encouraged today as he brings us the word. But before we dive into that, I want to take a moment just to say thank you to you. Seriously, I know this has been a strange season to say the least, and so many of you have continued to stay faithful with us, to adjust with the times, to online or home gatherings, and you've continued to give generously. You know, it's been amazing to hear stories of those of you that have not wavered in your faithfulness to give. Even when the economy is unknown and business income at times has been decreased, your faith displayed in giving has increased my faith. So, Addin, if somebody wants to give for the first time or to set up recurring giving, how could they do that?
Because you did that just a couple of weeks ago when we were sitting in our living room. I did. Well, it's super easy, actually. You can begin your journey of generosity simply by texting GIVE to 33933 or by going to the website.
The info is below. Right there, I think. Right there. That's right.
It's so easy even my grandpa could do it. Sorry, Dad. Addin said it, not me. But seriously, to all of you, thank you for your faithfulness, Summit Church. Hey, real quick, I want to share with you some really exciting things that are happening in the month of October here at the Summit Church. You're going to listen, okay?
Pay attention. First, next week we're going to be starting a new sermon series called Flags, Living as Citizens. Flags, Dad?
Really? Well, Citizens of Another Kingdom. It's about the, we've got an election coming up and a lot of people are sort of on pins and needles, and we're going to think about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and part of a unified church, a diverse unified church centered on Jesus as our flag bearer. Jesus is the one we're following. We're going to begin that next week and go for about three weeks in that.
I want you to be in prayer about that and I want you to come with open heart and open ears, open Bibles ready to press into what the Bible teaches us about how to think like a follower of Jesus in this time. The second thing is that beginning, listen to this, beginning Thursday, October 1st, we're going to be hosting a live indoor service at each of our permanent locations at 7 p.m. Now lightning round here, and I'm going to let Adan answer some questions for you that you would have, okay? Does this in-person gathering at our four permanent campuses, does that replace home gatherings? Nope. Okay, correct.
Do you need the RSVP to attend due to attendance restrictions? Yep. Correct again. Will we be taking all necessary precautions to keep people safe? Absolutely, dad.
Correct again, Adan. Will there be childcare? Negative. So they're going to have to be a part of the service just like you're a part of our service each week.
So it'll be kid friendly. That's right. Okay.
I think it will be worth it though. Excellent. Right. So last one.
Why are we doing this? To begin testing the feasibility of gathering in person again on the weekends? Correct again. Boom.
All right. I know this brings up a lot of questions for you and I'm just going to direct you right now to our website for a much more detailed version of what Thursday evening gatherings are going to look like in the month of October. All I can say is that I am so excited to worship again in person, even if it's in a limited capacity. Last thing I wanted to say is that for the month of October, we're going to be hosting two large outdoor October nights of worship. We're talking the whole church, um, all campuses, two different ones. One's on October 10th at the apex campus. And the other is on October 24th at our Capitol Hills campus. There's going to be two service times for both of those, one at four and one at 6 PM where we're going to get together to worship. We're going to celebrate some things that God has done during this season.
Here's some testimonies and just be together to worship together, outdoor and socially distance, of course. Um, but more info on our website in more info to come. Okay. Sounds like October is a lot, but I think it's going to be a lot of awesome and super fun. Amen and amen.
I could not have said it better myself. I am pumped, but I'm even more pumped for this sermon. Are you ready? Heck yes.
Let's jump right in. Beginning somewhere in the 17th century and carrying on much through the 19th century, the American spirit of adventure and exploration was at its height as brave men and women would saddle up and head into the great unknown to see parts of our nation that no Westerner had yet seen. The American frontier as it would come to be known was expanding through people who embodied courage and risk. In the early 1800s, a young man by the name of John Wesley Powell was growing in his love for science, history and literature. His life dream was to teach and Powell would eventually realize that dream and begin his life of teaching in a small sleepy pocket of our growing nation.
However, in 1861 news of a civil war breaking out had reached the quiet town where Powell was teaching. Immediately, he felt a call. He left this job and he enlisted in the union army and earned the ranking of second lieutenant. Just a few months later on April 6, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh in Western Tennessee, Powell was struck in the forearm and the bullet shattered every ounce of bone in his arm.
Just a few days later, he would have that arm amputated. A few years after Powell lost his arm, he would put the courage that was forged on the battlefield and the passion for the created world together. And he would lead the first recorded expedition of the Colorado River through the heart of the Grand Canyon. It was in many estimations one of the final arenas of the American frontier yet to be explored. The journey would require every ounce of courage that the 10 men on the trip could muster. The Grand Canyon was dangerous and unknown. If you've ever hiked the Grand Canyon, you know that the terrain is not just difficult. It can at times be overwhelming. It was no small task. The ragtag group of 10 men journeyed down the river in clunky wooden boats, hoping and believing for the best.
In his personal journal that he kept as he was journeying down the river, which would later become a book called Down the Great Unknown, Powell said the following as his team officially began entering the walls of the canyon. We are now ready to start our way down the great unknown. We have but a month's rations remaining. The flour has been re-sifted through the mosquito net. The spoiled bacon has been dried. Oh, that's so depressing. And the worst of it, boiled.
The few pounds of dried apples have been spread in the sun. The sugar has all melted and gone its way down the river. But we do have a large sack of coffee. Can I get an amen, somebody? Amen.
Okay. We are three quarters of a mile in the depths of the earth. And the great river shrinks into insignificance as it dashes its angry waves against the walls and cliffs that rise to the world above. We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river yet to explore. What falls there are, we know not. What rocks beset the channel, we know not.
What walls rise over the river, we know not. Ah well. That's literally what he says. Ah well.
Ah well. You guys, we are living in some pretty unique times. Division at every corner. Traps of social media are set on every path. And navigating those waters as the church are going to be tricky. May I propose, however, that we need a generation of Christians, people from the Summit Church with an ah well mentality. When the odds seem stacked against us, but the promise of something new ahead, we press forward into the great unknown. Today, we're going to be in the book of 1 Samuel chapter 14. In fact, as you're gathering in your home gatherings, why don't you go ahead, if you got kids in the room, help them find the passage. As you guys get the Bibles out, we'll also be on the screen.
But as you're doing that, let me give you a little bit of backdrop to the story. Here in 1 Samuel 14, we find the Israelites facing an unknown future. Chapter 14 begins with Israel's army hiding among the caves of Gibeah after having been defeated in battle by the Philistines.
But the question remains, why were they hiding? Isn't this God's people? Well, Israel had just defeated the Amorites and Jonathan defeated a group of Philistines at a small back alley bar fight, right? So Saul, the leader of God's people foolishly declares war against the Philistines, who were, as 1 Samuel 13 describes, as numerous as the sand. Saul's soldiers were overmatched, but they were not overmatched according to Saul's ego.
You see, Saul sends his troop to battle without first seeking the Lord and leadership of the Lord. Needless to say, they're now like cats with their tails between their legs. And not only did they get their tails whooped, but the land that they are living in has been raided.
Okay. In fact, the Bible tells us that there were no blacksmiths in the land. The Philistines had taken control over it.
Why? Well, because the Philistines didn't want the Israelites to have the ability to make their own weapons. Saul and Jonathan were the only two people in the land with swords. Two people with swords, one hiding out under a pomegranate tree, one ready for battle. That's where we pick up in 1 Samuel chapter 14.
Let's read together. That same day, Saul's son Jonathan said to the attendant who carried his weapons, come on, let's cross over to the Philistine garrison on the other side. However, he did not tell his father that he was going. His father is Saul.
Saul was staying under the pomegranate tree in Migron on the outskirts of Gibeah. The troops with him numbered around 600. Jonathan said to the attendant who carried his weapons, come on, let's cross over to the garrison of those uncircumcised men. Let's go. Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. Verse seven, his armor bearer responded, do what is in your heart. Go ahead.
I am completely with you. All right, Jonathan says, we'll cross over to the men and then let them see us. And if they say, wait until we reach you, then we will stay where we are and we will not go up to them. But if they do say this, if they say, come on up, then we'll go up because we know that the Lord has handed them over to us.
That will be our sign. Skip down to verse 11. They let themselves be seen by the Philistine garrison. And the Philistine said, look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they've been hiding. The men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armor bearer and said, come on up.
We'll teach you a lesson. Follow me, Jonathan told his armor bearer, for the Lord has handed them over to Israel today. Jonathan climbed up using his hands and feet with his armor bearer behind him. Jonathan cut them down and his armor bearer followed and finished them off. That's pretty epic by the way.
In the first assault, Jonathan and his armor bearer struck down about 20 men in a half acre field. What? All right. Three things I want us to see today as we head into an unknown future. Number one, God uses our perhaps and not our personal power. God uses our perhaps and not our personal power. Look back to what Jonathan says. He says this, come on, let's cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men.
Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can save the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. Now, why is this statement that Jonathan makes so important? Well, it's a stark contrast to the leader that the Israelites wanted.
Who was that? That was, that was Saul. Remember just one page back in the timeline of events that happened that day, Saul made an attack on the Philistines, except it didn't go as planned. They got routed and the primary reason? It wasn't because they were overmatched y'all. That's the story of God's people all throughout the Bible. Always overpowered, always overmatched according to human standards. Right?
Okay. So Saul just a day prior determines in his own heart and in his own mind that he needed not the approval of God to fight and win the battle. He determined that it would be won through his own strength and the wisdom of his own plan. Now, Saul is out and down for the count, right? The dude got mollywopped. So like, where is the irony in that?
You might be thinking like, what's the big deal? Well, if you move just a touch further back in the timeline of Israel's history right here in 1 Samuel, you'll see that the Israelites wanted something that all the other nations currently had. Do you remember what that was? What was that? A king. A king like all the other nations. A king who was strong. A king who was wise. But the reality is that they already had that king, a better king, but they took their eyes off of him.
They stopped trusting. You see, God gave them their wish and who'd they get? They got Saul, the one who was strong in the eyes of the people. He looked the part.
He fit the bill on the outside. Yet here we are just a few chapters later and their earthly king has already failed them miserably. His wise plans were thwarted and his strength was failing. Listen, in the economy of the kingdom of God, an investment in personal strength is an investment in a crashing market.
It will fail. What God is after is not your skill. He's not after your wisdom. He's not after your personal strength.
He cares not about the size of your house, the car that you drive, the amount of friends that you have on social media, the platform that you've been given for influence. He's after the posture of your heart. Just like Pastor JD said last week, he's after ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the kingdom. And oh, how beautiful Jonathan displays that right here in 1 Samuel 14. Perhaps God, perhaps God, for nothing can keep the Lord from saving whether by many or by few.
Now in its purest form, what kind of posture is that? It's a posture of trust. I am trusting in the heart of God and His promises towards His people. I am throwing every ounce of the potential outcome completely on God and not on myself.
That's what Jonathan was doing. Let me ask you a question. How is your trust in the promises of God today?
Charles Spurgeon says it like this. He says, Can I tell you something? If you are in Christ, you have a new lens in which you not only see the world, but how you engage in the world on a day-to-day basis.
How well do you know the promises of God and how well you know the promises of God will determine your ability to say, perhaps, perhaps God. Now I've got a boat paddle illustration. Thank you. I've got a boat paddle right here for you. Now when I hold up this boat paddle, a lot of you may see or think about different things. Some of you, you may look at this boat paddle and you may think to yourself, yeah, a boat paddle. A boat paddle is used as a backup for my motorized boat. If the motor fails, I'm paddling back to shore. Some of you, you look at this as the energy at which you actually move the craft forward.
Maybe you're in a canoe. It's the only thing you have. It's the thing that moves you forward. Others of you, if you're out there like me, when you see a boat paddle, you think about a baseball drill. It's a great drill to teach kids how to hit.
Boom, learning to fire hips, not squish the bug, very important. Some of you, you grew up in eastern North Carolina, God's country. When you see a boat paddle, all you see is a stirrer for a pot of Brunswick stew. You're like, yeah, let's go.
Time to eat. You see so many different things when you look at a simple boat paddle. Now, if you were to ask the University of Minnesota, specifically a football player, what they see when they look at this oar, they see something utterly different. Why? Well, because in 2017, the university hired a charismatic coach by the name of P.J.
Fleck. He was bringing an energy, passion, and skill set to the program that hadn't been seen in decades. He brought also a new thought process. Why?
Because he was determined to change the culture of the program and in turn, the culture of the university and the city. It started with an oar and a motto. Row the boat. Look at a neighbor right now and say, row the boat. There you go. All right. Row the boat is actually pretty basic in its understanding.
Every person contributes. You trust the process. You don't jump out of the boat when the storm hits.
You put the paddle back in the water and you keep rolling. Okay. So after a few seasons of average football, in 2019, the team goes 9-0 for the first time since 1905.
Why? There had been a change in the culture. The people in the program were beginning to see and act differently.
Expectations changed. Up and down the hallway of their locker rooms are oars, personalized by each player's commitment to keep rowing, keep trusting, and keep believing. My wife actually was on the crew team at UNCW and I remember going to some of her regattas and watching her row. Now, interestingly enough, in the boat, there's only one person who could actually see the river ahead. A coxswain. The captain of the boat.
The people on the boat just set their eyes on the coxswain and row with their backs facing their destination and their trust that their captain sees where they're supposed to be going. Let me ask you a question. How much more should the promises of God reshape the lives of believers? They reshape the way that we see the world on a day-to-day basis.
They reshape the way that we look at our family, the way that we look at our jobs, and the way that we look at our mission. Here's the thing. You go back to the story. Jonathan was not promised that he'd come out on the other side of that battle alive.
He just knew either way, God be glorified. I'll row the boat. God, you see what's ahead, not me. You tell me to row, and I'm rowing. Where have you stopped rowing?
Where have you stopped rowing? My gut tells me that if we dig deep enough, we'll find areas of our lives where we've relied on our own strength, much like Saul, and not in the beauty of the promises of God. And when we do that, guess where we end up?
In caves, hiding, running, defeated. You need to remember that we have a God that is for us. We have a God that is on our side.
We have a God that has already won the battle. So keep fighting, keep trusting, keep rowing, eyes on Jesus. Number two, you never row alone.
You never row alone. Look back at Jonathan's halftime speech, verses six and seven. Come on, let's cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.
Verse seven, His armor bearer responds and says this, Do what's in your heart. Go ahead. I am completely with you.
Okay. Saved by the bell, time out here, right? If I'm the armor bearer and I'm looking at Jonathan and I'm like, hold up, we got two swords in the entire army. One of them is with your pops chilling under the pomegranate tree. And the other one is right here with us.
And you want to do what? Like that feels like a maverick and goose type moment from Top Gun. You know what I'm saying? It's like, I don't know, Mav, this doesn't seem like a good idea, right? That's not what armor bearers did. Armor bearers were steadied with courage and equipped for the battle. And their unwavering courage filled their leader with confidence.
Jonathan needed someone to go to battle alongside of him. We all do. We all need someone to row the boat in life with.
Without them, we die. True friendship, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, is not just that you love me, but it's also that you are seeing the same truth as I am. You see the same truth as I do. I would add that you see the same truth as I do, even when I can't see it.
If we're going to make it, we need an armor bearer. We need a friend. We need a friend, as Proverbs 17, 17 says, a friend that loves at all times, right?
Some of the kids, y'all know that song, right? It says Proverbs 18, 24 says, a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Some of you are gathered at home right now alone. And to be honest, it's been like that for a while, maybe even since COVID started, or maybe even before COVID has just highlighted your loneliness. Can I just tell you, and I really do mean this, you are not alone. Let us connect with you.
Let your pastors and staff at the summit help you get connected to some friends that can help you walk with Jesus for the long haul in life. That's our goal. Some of you are sitting in home gatherings in small groups this week and you're shoulder to shoulder with mask on of course, right? Okay.
All right. Shoulder to shoulder, yet you actually still feel alone. You're not alone.
Kids and students, you may know what it feels like to walk up and down a crowded hallway at school and feel like you're the only one facing those issues. You're not. You're not alone. Ephesians 1 tells us that we've been sealed with the Holy Spirit inside of us. Colossians 1 says it would tell us that Christ in us is the hope of glory. John 15 tells us that Jesus calls us friends. In Christ, you are never alone. He lives in you.
And He's also given you a tangible expression of His nearness. You know what that is? It's the church living side by side, attacking the gates of hell together. Don't row alone. Number three, your faithful rowing spurs on others. So when we first started reading this passage, I actually intentionally left out the last few verses when we first read the story because I love what happens at the end and I didn't want y'all to act like middle school boys and skip all the way the end and ruin the story, okay?
All right. So remember, Jonathan and his armor bearer attack and they strike down 20 plus men in a half-acre field. And God brings about confusion on the camp and it hits the Philistines where they are and they're running around like their hair is on fire, okay? And the Israelites that were in hiding begin to gain hope.
Saul joins the fight and then that's when we read this. When all the Israelite men who had been hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they also joined Saul and Jonathan in the battle. So the Lord saved Israel that day. Now, I don't believe that it was just Jonathan's action that led to the victory that came about that day. It was the posture of his faithfulness, obedience. And that obedience and that faithfulness of Jonathan spurred the entire remaining army back into the fight. It spurred Saul out from underneath the pomegranate tree and back into the fight.
Here's what I know. And I think that you know this too, that this is an epic story, right? But let's be honest, epic stories don't change us. They don't change us because we don't naturally trust God or lean on each other or spur one another on. We are actually much more like Saul in Israel than we are like Jonathan and his armor bearer.
We don't need something to change. We need someone to change us, someone to go to battle on our behalf. Enter Jesus. That's the beauty of Jesus. Jesus came to save people like us.
Where does the faith to keep rowing come from? Where do we get to the power like with Jonathan to say, perhaps God will work because of Jesus? Jesus trusted that God would deliver him even through the grave. Jesus went without an armor bearer and faced God's ultimate enemy, not an army, but sin, death, hell.
What a beautiful name it is. The name of Jesus. With our eyes on Jesus, we have every reason to say, perhaps God will work. If God has already conquered sin, the grave and death for us, by gracing Christ, we could look at the cross every day with great confidence and say, God has already worked. Perhaps he will work again. So in Christ, regardless of our circumstance, you can keep rowing.
You may have just received that report from the doctor that you did not want or that you did not expect. Yet because of Christ, you keep rowing. And as you row, you bring courage to the hearts of everyone else.
You may be overwhelmed, multiple kids in virtual school trying to balance full time jobs in the home and you're trying to navigate the new waters of the world and you're trying to figure out if you're going to delete your social media account, right? Yet because of Christ, you keep rowing. And as you row, you bring courage to the hearts of others.
You may be the student that's faced all kinds of challenges in your family life. Yet because your eyes are on Jesus, E-O-J, you keep rowing. You encourage the hearts of other students, other believers, the church. You may be experiencing pain and loss all around you and you've actually had a hard time seeing the promises of God.
But you've had someone nearby to help you see things that you couldn't see or maybe bring clarity to something that you just see dimly. And you keep rowing anyways because of the courage that they are giving you. Keep rowing. Your faithfulness spurs us all. And remember, remember, the Lord saved Israel that day and he's doing it every day until finally on that one day, because it's happening to you guys, it's coming, when he will make all things new and the battle will finally be over. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless. God bless.
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