At the Sunday service of Silicon Valley Christian Assembly, Pastor Yu Hongjie preached on 1 Samuel 13:5-7 and 14:6-14 to encourage Christians to “rely on God, in unity, to break through their crises and difficult situations”.
In his sermon, the American Chinese megachurch pastor Yu on October 3 talked about how difficult situations could be opportunities to experience God. How someone reacts to the inevitable difficulties in the journey of faith both reflects their faith in God and determines how the crisis will end. Instead of suffering attacks helplessly, some put their faith in God and receive mercy from Him – that is, "the righteous will live by their faith".
To start with how Christians broke through the plight they faced by relying on God, Pastor Yu explained that difficulties and attacks from the enemy, with God’s permission, could be opportunities to experience Him. With troubles being inevitable in our lives, he encouraged people not to hope or desire to live a trouble-free life. Along with praising God and attending church services, the enemy’s attacks could also contribute to Christian growth.
In 1 Samuel 13, it was described that the soldiers of the Philistines were “as numerous as the sand on the seashore”, yet on Israel’s side, Saul had only about 600 followers.
“Verse 6-7 showed us that some Israelites hid and some ran away. That’s because God wasn’t with them and consequently, they handled the crisis in their own way.” He commented that often failures took place not just on the battlefield, but even before the battle.
Pastor Yu continued, “Does your faith enable you to battle? Many people come to church expecting to be blessed, but few are able to fight for God. Today, many of our experiences – marriage problems, job changes, spiritual weakness – are no more than an outward demonstration of a failure that has rooted inside of us.”
Then, Pastor Yu emphasized that the Lord saves, whether by many or by few.
In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan’s armor-bearer said “I am with your heart and soul” and they “killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.” Jonathan and the armor-bearer were not resigned to be passive in such a pressing situation. With a simple faith and absolute submission to God, they gripped hold of God’s promise that “nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few”.
In the same way, he exhorted Christians to turn their faith into action like Jonathan and the armor-bearer. In a difficult situation, we should turn away from feeling helpless, firstly by becoming unwilling to give up, then eventually rise up and face the situation. By doing that, we would see that the circumstances work for our good and enable us to grow.
Faith and unity could turn a situation around, he added.
Based on 1 Samuel 14:15, he described that just as those who had been weak and helplessly spectating then gathered on the battlefield, and as those who had been hiding and escaping rose up to fight against the enemy, so also the power which had been against us, and the power to help us which had been lost or hidden, could also now exert its influence to our benefit.
At the end of his sermon, Pastor Yu encouraged the congregation that God’s love never changes in this changing world, and not to fix our gaze on our difficulties, but to become like Jonathan and his armor-bearer, two men that could be used to fight for God and see opportunities amid hard plights.
- Translated by Grace Song