Pressing for Higher Ground

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Shortly after Herman Ostry purchased some property in Bruno, Nebraska; a nearby creek flooded his new barn with 29 inches of water.  Herman’s son, Mike, started to We need to always be moving to higher ground. In 2 Corinthians chapter 8, The Apostle Paul gives us a list of Five things that we need to abound in, to move to higher ground. A sermon from Irvington Bible Baptist Church.think about how they could resolve this problem.  he counted how many boards, timbers, nails, etc. and estimated the weight of the barn at 19,000 pounds (9.5 tons).  He figured that if everyone would pitch in (344 We need always to be moving to higher groundtownspeople) that each person would only need to lift 55 pounds each, to carry the barn to higher ground.

On  June 30, 1988, Mike designed a grid of steel tubing to serve as “Barn Handles”.  Herman counted 1..2..3..Lift!  The barn rose up off the ground with no trouble at all.  The 344 townspeople carried the 9-ton barn up hill 50 yards to higher ground.

We need always to be moving to higher ground

We need always to be moving to higher ground.  In 2 Corinthians chapter 8, the Apostle Paul gives us a list of things that we need to abound in, to move to higher ground:

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. - 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Paul starts by commending the Macedonians (Northern neighbors to the Corinthians), for their generous giving.  Don’t worry this message is not about money.  The Macedonians gave, even though they didn’t have much to give.  Whereas the Corinthians who were much better off financially had not taken up any collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Paul tells the Corinthians that if they want to have a heart of generosity, they need to abound in these five things:

  • Faith
  • Utterance
  • Knowledge
  • Diligence
  • Love
1.  Abound in Faith

The Apostle Paul taught that we need to abound in faith, not just have a little.  We know from Hebrews 11:6, that it is impossible to please God without faith.  Our faith needs to continue to grow if we are going to be victorious in this Christian life.

Gideon had a little faith
And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. - Judges  6:36-40

Gideon believed in God; He believed that God was real and that he was his personal God.  He even believed that God was the deliverer of his people.  But when it came to applying that faith to his actions, he (like most Christians) wasn’t so sure; so he asked God to prove himself.  Not a habit that I would suggest,  but the Jews require a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22), and God gave him a couple.

Now Gideon was ready to do what the Lord had told him to do.  He starts with 32,000 men; God wasn’t happy with that number, God knew if they would be successful with that many men, that they would not give God credit for the victory; therefore he told Gideon to announce to the men, that if any were afraid, they could go home without consequence.  22,000 of them left when the opportunity presented itself, leaving Gideon with 10,000 men (Judges 7:1-3).

The Lord told Gideon that he still had too many men to take into the battle.  He tested the remaining 10,000 men by taking them to the water and watching how they would drink the water.  Any man who drank the water by putting his head down into the water and drinking it like a dog or anyone who got down on their knees to drink the water was relieved of duty.  Only those who drank the water by cupping it in their hands and keeping their heads on a swivel were qualified to go with Gideon.  This left him with only 300 men. (Judges 7:4-7)

Gideon was still struggling with his faith

Gideon was still afraid and unsure of how his small band of men could defeat the great numbers that they would face in battle.  The Lord told Gideon, that if he was still unsure that he could take his servant with him down to the front lines and listen to what his enemies were talking about:

But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.
And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.
And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.
And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian 10, But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.
And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.
 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.
And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.. - Judges 7:10-15
God confirmed his promise to Gideon by using words

God confirmed his promise to Gideon by using words that were heard by Gideon.  God confirms his promises to us today, through preaching and his word.  Gideon was victorious by following Gods plan (Judges 7:16-25)

2.  Abound in Utterance

We need to be bold with our speech.  The Apostles were bold with their speech in Act 4:1-13:

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Speak about what you have seen and heard God do (Acts 4:20).  Speak about your life, and what God has done for you, the prayers that he has answered, how that he saved you.  That is your testimony, and no-one can refute that.  Study so you can be confident and bold, knowing what you are talking about.  This brings us to point number three:

3.  Abound in Knowledge

We are commanded to study the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).  To gain the knowledge of God, we must study, not just read, but study his Word.  If you don’t study the Word of God, you will be ashamed at his coming.

Study to gain Wisdom
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. - Proverbs 8:1-9
Study for Guidance
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. - Psalms 119:1-11
Study for continued learning
 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:18

 

4.  Abound in diligence
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. - 2 Peter 1:5-9

We need what is called Positive Discontent.  We don’t want to be discontent, that is akin to murmuring and complaining.  We have numerous examples in scripture of how the Lord feels about murmuring and complaining.  Positive Discontent is just simply understanding that we can do better.  Don’t settle for where you are in your growth.  Keep striving for more.  Abound in diligence to move from where you are to higher ground.

5.  Abound in Love
 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; - Romans 12:9-10

We need to demonstrate brotherly love.  We need to prefer the brethren.  We should desire to spend time with fellow believers; We need to be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2).  We need to be more forgiving of each other (Ephesians 4:32).  We need to lift one another up to higher ground (Philippians 2:1-4).

Put some effort into these things

By putting some effort into:

  • Growing in Your Faith
  • Being bolder in your speech
  • Seeking Wisdom & Knowledge
  • Always striving to do better
  • Demonstrating Brotherly Love
You will continue to move towards higher ground.

Our hope at Irvington Bible Baptist Church is that this podcast provided some encouragement and has helped you to develop a closer relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ.

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