We Will Set Up Our Banners

Title: We Will Set Up Our Banners

Bible Book: Psalms 20

Author: J. Gerald Harris

Subject: Victory; Goals



We are still at the beginning of this new year, and I think we’re getting off to a good start. But I want us to be very sure that we concentrate upon making this a glorious year in the history of our church. The desire of my heart and the prayer of my soul is that the combined efforts of pastor and people will result in one continuous series of victories. In fact, I’m fired up about the Lord. I'm fired up about our church. I am fired up about these exciting days in which we live.



Did you hear about the man who desperately needed a job? And he applied for a job in a clothing store. And the manager of the clothing store said, “Okay,

Here’s the deal. I have this ugly, ugly suit. If you can sell it, you have the job.”

Well, this man who had been unemployed for a period of time was ecstatic. He said, “That's great. All I wanted was a chance.” Well, an hour later he came back to the manager and said very excitedly, “I did it. I did it. I sold that suit.”

The manager was quite pleased. He said, “You must be a determined salesman. But tell me, where did you get all of those lacerations? Was the customer angry?”

And the man said, “Oh, no sir. But his seeing eye dog nearly tore me to pieces.”

Well, that man was determined to sell that suit and he was enthusiastic about doing it.

Well, I’m excited. I feel that the new day is about to dawn upon the life of our church. A new chapter in the history of Eastside Baptist Church is going to be written this year. I want us to trust the Spirit of God to help us write a new and exciting chapter in the life of our church.

Now at this point, allow me to make a suggestion. I want us to begin; I want us to initiate this year by setting up our banners. That's what David called upon the people of Israel to do in our text. Notice in verse five he said, “We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners.”

The word for “banner” here is one which occurs only in this Psalm and in Song of Solomon 5:10 where it is translated “the chiefest.” In Song of Solomon 5:10 it says, “My beloved is...the chiefest (the banner) among ten thousand.” It really means: “the standard bearer among ten thousand.”

So the challenge for us is to rally around the standard bearer; the chiefest among ten thousand, the living Lord Himself. That is how we're to march into this new year.

Earliest historical records tell us that armies in the process of launching new military campaigns always marched under the banner or standard which represented their loyalty. Many American soldiers have been led to encounter the foe under this standard ó The Star Spangled Banner.

Francis Scott Key confirms the truth of the matter in the national anthem where he writes:

“And the rocket’s red glare,

The bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night

That our flag was still there.”

A flag; a standard; a banner can make the difference between a mighty advancing army and a confused, unorganized mob. It has been said that the masses of the twentieth century are tossed about by every wind and wave. It has been suggested that the great need of this day is a creed in which people can believe, or a song which the masses can sing, or a flag which the multitudes can follow. Let us then secure a flag. Let us set up our banner. Let us establish our standard. By setting up our banner we shall be preparing ourselves to lead the people of this community and this world out of a wilderness of confusion and darkness. Now what shall our banner be?

The hymn writer put it like this:

There’s a royal banner given for display

To the soldiers of the king.

As an ensign fair we would lift it up today

While as ransomed ones we sing.

Marching on, marching on,

For Christ count everything but loss.

And to crown him king we’ll toil and sing

Beneath the banner of the cross.

This hymn tells us that for the Christian there is a banner given for display. It is the banner of the cross of Jesus Christ. This is the banner under which we must live. This is the banner under which we must march. “In the name of our God, let us lift up our banners.”

Now there are three reasons as to why we should set up our banners.


Throughout history men have been identified by their banner or standard. In the sixteenth century when Sir Francis Drake sailed the high seas for the queen of England, there were numerous vessels upon the seven seas flying black flags upon which there was the emblem of a skull and crossbones. That particular banner identified the vessel of pirates. And those ships were always manned by a ruthless, merciless crew. The skull and crossbones represented evil and brutality and even death. These men who sailed under such an emblem or banner had come to be aligned with all that was embodied in that skull and crossbones. Another popular banner was the white flag. The white flag has come to represent those who wish to surrender. It is the flag of submission. It is the flag of acquiescence.

When I was a little boy we would play war games. We had sticks for guns and pine cones for hand grenades. And we’d launch our artillery against the enemy. When one of the combating forces had had enough they had to tie a handkerchief to a stick and wave it back and forth. That was the sign or banner of surrender.

I have noticed that the United States astronauts wear on the sleeve of their space suits an emblem of the United States flag. This flag is the banner of these men and women. They have aligned themselves with this banner and all that is embodied in it.

When our service personnel were coming back from that Desert Storm you could see yellow ribbons tied everywhere. It was the emblem of welcome. It was a banner of appreciation and gratitude.

I have noticed that there are a lot of people today who wear little red ribbons on their lapels or on their dresses indicating that they’re giving their support to the fight against AIDS.

But tonight I'm wondering if you have aligned yourself with all that is embodied in the most important banner. Are you ready to march under the banner of the cross throughout this new year? Are you prepared to align yourself unreservedly with the living God?

Now there are many banners from which you may choose. There is the banner of power. There is the banner of wealth. There is the banner of prestige.

There is the banner of popularity. There are many banners under which you may become identified. In fact, in our text the psalmist says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses....” There are many banners, but I suggest only one - the banner of the cross. If I cannot be identified with Christ, let me remain unknown. If I cannot be aligned with Christ, I will not become aligned with anything else. We may commit ourselves to working together by setting up false and unworthy banners; by putting our faith in weak and worldly objects.

But we will do well “to rejoice in God’s salvation, and in His name set up our banners.”

Let us announce to the world that we are aligned with the cause of Jesus Christ and that we intend to march forth into victory under His banner and in His name. Let us never give the world reason to question our alignment or our affiliation. Let us hold our banner high so that all will know that we have identified ourselves with Jesus Christ and His church and His kingdom.

The Bible says that we must either be for or against Christ. We are identified with Him or against Him. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me. And he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” So may our banner mark our alignment with Christ.


Once we set up our banner, it must never suffer loss. We must not allow it to fall. Once we set up our standard, which aligns us with Christ, it must always be honored. If it marks our alignment, it must mark our allegiance.

Once we align ourselves with Christ, nothing should be allowed to interfere with that alignment. Once the banner of the cross is set up, nothing should destroy what that banner represents. Our performance as a Christian must always match our profession. If this is true, then our banner represents our allegiance as well as our alignment. Now, when I think of allegiance I think of commitment. I think of loyalty. I think of faithfulness.

You know, back during the Second World War the Japanese planes and pilots were both inferior to the United States forces. The Japanese military mind knew that there was only one way in which they could have any chance of success. So the Japanese generals asked for pilots who would be willing to crash dive their bomb laden Zero fighters into the United States warships. So there were thousands of Japanese aviators who volunteered to become kamikaze pilots. There were 4000 of these pilots who deliberately crash-dived their planes onto American ships as the war in the Pacific closed in on their homeland. For these pilots the Japanese flag not only marked their alignment, but it also marked their allegiance.

I pray that the Lord will not only see banners of alignment flying in this church, I pray that the Lord will see banners of allegiance. I pray that there will be banners representing faithfulness in all things. Banners representing dedication. Banners marking a willingness to serve.

We all know that the possibilities for this church are virtually unlimited. But spiritual progress in this church demands our allegiance. We must march in a cooperative spirit under the banner of the cross. It will involve sacrifice. It will involve a full measure of your devotion. It will involve using talents more effectively and perhaps uncovering some new ones. It will involve sharing, giving, cross-bearing. I’m sure that God is eager and willing to bless the people who are willing to demonstrate their allegiance to Him. There are going to be many opportunities. And so we must be willing to give Christ our undiluted devotion.

Many years ago the Spaniards were besieging the little town of St. Quinton on the frontiers of France. This little town was in ruins. Many of the people in this little town were sick with fever. There had been a famine and there were not very many supplies, not very much food. Thoughts of treason existed among many of the townspeople.

One day the Spanish army shot over the walls a shower of arrows. Attached to the arrows were little slips of parchment promising the inhabitants that if they would surrender their lives and property would be spared.

The governor of this town was one of the great leaders of the Huguenots. As his sole answer to all their inducements to surrender, he took a piece of parchment, tied it to a javelin and wrote on the parchment two words - regem habemus – “We have a king!” - and hurled it back into the camp of the enemy. This was his one answer to all of their threats and to all of their inducements.

Well, folks, we have a king and the church needs to be steadfast and unmovable in their commitment to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. So our banner needs to mark our alignment and it needs to mark our allegiance. But finally,


Banners are often used to mark victories. Some of you may recall when Edmond Hillary of New Zealand conquered Mt. Everest. This was on May 29, 1953. Upon accomplishing this great feat, Hillary placed New Zealand's flag on the top of Mt. Everest. It was used to mark his achievement.

Some of you will remember that summer night in 1967 when Buzz Aldren and Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon. It was planted there as a mark of their achievement and the achievement of the United States Space Program.


Perhaps one of the most graphic and well known portrayals of a banner being used to mark an achievement or victory is the one depicted at the Marine Corps Memorial in Washington, D.C. I’m speaking of the bronze statue of the raising of the United States flag on Iwo Jima. This beautiful statue shows that victory was achieved on the Island of Iwo Jima on March 16, 1945. When Paul went to Corinth he found an evil and immoral city. He was reviled and insulted on every side. The Jews condemned him and the Romans ignored him and the Greeks were hostile. Paul hoped and prayed for a breakthrough. And then Crispus was converted. Crispus was a ruler of the synagogue. When Crispus was saved the breakthrough was achieved. The Bible says, “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

When Paul was able to set up his banner of victory in the synagogue in the house of Crispus, a great victory was won. It is my prayer that our banners may be raised in victory many times here in East Cobb and in the surrounding counties and areas. Surely there are many victories to be won. There are many goals to be achieved. There are many challenges to be met.

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