GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR AN ACHAN HEART | Joshua 7:1-26

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God’s Prescription For The Saints

In Joshua 7:1-26 Israel has just been involved in the greatest military conquest in their history. They have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event. But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people. Israel thought that everything was all right. They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn’t know was that there was a problem in the camp. There was one in their midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.

May I say that things are still the same today? Folk, we are all members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:27. According to the Bible, 1 Cor. 12:26, when one member of the body has problems, the entire body has problems. You see, your spiritual temperature has a deep effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an island unto yourself. What you do affects the entire church body. We will see this truth illustrated in this passage this morning.

My desire in preaching this message is that each of you would search your hearts and examine your life this morning. If there is anything in your life that you have hidden away, anything that you think is covered and gone, I want you to get that thing settled with the Lord before you leave this building. You can and this passage tells us how.

My friends, sin causes problems. It causes them for the sinner and for everyone else around them. The fact is, most of us are guilty of being like Achan from time to time. When we allow sin into our lives and when we try to hide our sins and try to cover it up, we bring pain and trouble into our lives. However, these verses tell us that God has a prescription for an Achan heart.

I. Verse 2-5 A PAINFUL DEFEAT

Verse 2-3 Israel Was A Confident People – As I said a moment ago, Israel was still basking in the glow of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army. Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced. In verse 3, they feel like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai. These people are guilty of resting on their laurels.

(Ill. Israel did not realize it, but they were living through one of the most dangerous times of life. You see, the time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we will be over confident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way, Pro. 16:18.

(Ill. Now, don’t misunderstand me. Confidence is a good thing as long as one’s confidence is in the right place. When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the victory, but when we are walking with our confidence in the power of our ability and in our flesh, then we are destined to fail!)

Verse 4-5a Israel Was A Conquered People – When Israel went up to Ai in they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed. This must have been very devastating to the Israelites. However, when one takes the time to look more closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they made several mistakes. Mistakes that, I feel, many of us are guilty of making as well.

  1. Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai. They didn’t even pray about the matter. If they had, God would have revealed the problem before people died. (Ill. How many times are we guilty of jumping ahead of the Lord and His will?
  2. They didn’t take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. The Ark symbolized the presence and power of God. They went into the battle in their own strength and they failed! (Ill. Again, here is an area where we could all use help. We try to live the Christian life, fight the flesh and the devil in our own power and we fail time after time.
  3. Finally, Israel had their confidence in their own power and not in the Lord. They were not walking by faith, but they were guilty of trusting what they could do. (Ill. How many times have we suffered defeat at the hands of our enemy because we too believed we were able and that we could get the job done.

Verse 5b Israel Was A Confounded People – After their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people of Israel are feeling the same fear that their enemies experienced, Josh. 2:9; 5:1; 6:1. You see, this is one of the problems with sin. It defeats you and leaves you feeling just like a lost man. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while there is sin in his midst!

(Ill. Israel didn’t know at this point what was wrong. All they knew was that they had just suffered their first defeat. Thankfully, God wants His people to have the victory, not the defeat. So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the nation of Israel just exactly where the problem lies.

II. Verse 6-15 A PAINFUL DISCOVERY

Verse 6-9 Joshua Reacts In Prayer – After the tragedy happens, Joshua finds himself before the Lord in prayer. His prayer is from a broken heart, v. 6. Joshua wonders why Israel was powerless in the battle; the answer wasn’t to blame God, or to dispute His will. The answer was in their own camp!

(Ill. You see, when there is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others, the problem is always with me! The same is true in the church. When there is defeat in the church and souls aren’t being saved and the services are dull and lifeless, we need not blame the Lord! He is doing His part. The problem is always a problem within! This will be dealt with in more detail later on.)

Verse 10-15 God Rehearses The Problem – While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is happening, God in Heaven already knows and tells Joshua all about it. He tells him that there is sin in the camp of Israel! He tells Joshua that it is this sin that is hindering His power and it is what is bringing about their defeat. He tells Joshua how to discover the guilty party. In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin, of which we need to take note. Allow me to share with you these seven observations concerning sin and its effects in our lives.

  1. God knows about our sins – v. 11 (Pro. 15:3; Heb. 4:13)
  2. God hates our sins – v. 11 – (Pro. 6:16-19)
  3. God has a plan for our sins – v. 14-15 – (1 John 1:9; Psa. 32:5)
  4. God will punish our sins – v. 15 – (Gal. 6:9)
  5. Sin affects those around us – v. 11-12
  6. Sin hinders God’s work – v. 12 – (Matt. 13:58)
  7. Sin must be dealt with – v. 13 – Either you and I will deal with our sins, or God will deal with them. Either way, they will be handled! – (1 Cor. 11:31)

(Ill. Often, the greatest problems faced by the church come from within and not from without. You see, it’s not the water on the outside of the boat that causes the problem, it’s the water on the inside of the boat that causes trouble! The same is true for the church.

III. Verse 16-26 A PAINFUL DEATH

(Ill. In these verses, the wages of sin are put on clear display for all to see, Rom. 6:23.)

Verse 16-18 The Sinner Discovered – Ill. the process that God used to point out Achan. God knew who was guilty, why didn’t He just tell Joshua who they were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins. Be that as it may, the finger of God was getting closer and closer and finally landed on Achan.

(Ill. The lesson for us needs to be learned well! God already knows your sins and His finger is getting closer and closer to your life. One day soon, He will point out those things in your life that need to be revealed!

Verse 19-21 The Sin Discussed – (Now that the sin is out in the open it has to be dealt with. Notice the two aspects of this section.)

Verse 19 The Compassion – When Joshua speaks to Achan, he speaks with love in his heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel.

(Ill. In this, Joshua is a picture of God. While God hates sin with His entire being, He still loves the sinner, John 3:16.

Verse 20-21 The Confession – In these two verses, Achan finally confesses his sin.

(Ill. Note the progression in Achan’s sin, v. 21. “I saw…I coveted…I took.” This is the same pattern that sin always follows. It was this way in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:1-6. It was this way when David sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:1-4. It is and will be this way in nearly any instance of sin you can name. Notice the progression that the Bible speaks of in James – James 1:13-15. You see it and it appeals to your flesh, you want it and you take it. Sin is always the same! Ill. Our reaction to sin should be just like that of Joseph, Gen. 39:12. We are commanded to flee youthful lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22.)

(Ill. Notice this: Achan had things buried in his tent that he could not use! To use them would be to reveal his character to the entire nation of Israel. In other words, Achan sinned and died for nothing! The things he stole were no good to him at all!)

Verse 22-26 The Sinner Destroyed – These verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stones to death by the people of Israel.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan | Joshua 5:1-13

The Lord of Host
The Lord of Host

Joshua 5:1-13

Intro: Verse 1 tells us that the heathen nations in Canaan saw the powerful manner in which the Lord brought His children through the Jordan and that they were totally demoralized by these events. It would seem that they were absolutely resigned to their fate. It would appear that this would be the perfect time for Joshua to lead the people forward into the attack. However, instead of commanding His people to go forward into the battle, God commands them to remain at Gilgal and to do several things that, on the surface, appear very strange. It even appears that the things they are required to do puts them at risk before their enemies.

While the ways of the Lord may appear strange to you and me, let me remind you that the ways of the Lord are not our ways, Isa. 55:8-9. You see, God never gets in a hurry! He has the liberty to take His time and do things on His schedule. While the things that happen in this chapter appear strange against the backdrop of impending battle, the truth of the matter is God is simply preparing His army to fight. He has them do some things that may appear odd when preparing for the battle, but may I remind you that God’s people are engaged in battles that go far deeper than the physical realm? In fact, before the battle ever begins in the physical realm, it had already begun in the spiritual realm. God’s battles are spiritual battles. If we expect to fight in these battles and do well, then we must make the right kind of spiritual preparations, 2 Cor. 10:3-5.

You see, we all have battle to fight, and if we expect to overcome and achieve the victory, then we must learn to make the right kind of spiritual preparations.

Israel appeared ready for the battle. They possessed a large army and they faced an enemy that was terrified at their presence. However, God knew that they would never be ready to fight and win the battle until the proper spiritual preparations had been made.

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready to conquer your Canaan? The answer? Only if you are willing to make the right spiritual preparations.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 2-7 RENEWING THEIR COVENANT WITH THE LORD

The first command the Lord gives to Israel is that all the man are to be circumcised. It would seem that all the men who came out of Egypt were circumcised according to the demands of the Abrahamic covenant. They must renew the covenant with the Lord if they wanted His blessings on them and if they wanted to be guaranteed the victory.

The lesson for us is simply this, just as Israel was required to remove from their bodies a piece of flesh as a sign that they were a part of the covenant, so too, we must remove from our lives anything that stands between us and total surrender to the Lord. The Bible is clear that there are times when you and I must engage in spiritual surgery in our lives. (Ill. Col. 3:1-17; 2 Cor. 6:17.)

To the Jew, circumcision was a reminder that they were a “marked people.”

(Ill. Child of God, if you are saved, then you are supposed to live like you are saved!

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 8 REAFFIRMING THEIR CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD

At this point, Israel is camped in the heart of enemy territory. After they have been circumcised, every male in the nation of Israel is temporarily disabled and is rendered unable to fight. It took great faith for them to submit to the rite of circumcision! They had to be willing to trust the Lord to protect them until they healed. They were literally sitting ducks for the enemy..

As we move through this life, we face times of testing just like these men in Israel did. They had just come from a great victory and often, that is the time when pride will rise up in us and we will think that we are unstoppable. When those times come in your life and mine, you can be sure that the Lord will allow us to go through a time of testing.

This spiritual truth is taught over and over again in the Word of God. When God’s people aren’t able to take care of themselves, their God is more than able. Note just a few instances where faith in a great God paid amazing dividends.

Noah was protected in the Ark while the rest of humanity perished – Gen. 6-9

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 9 REMOVING THEIR CONDEMNATION BY THE LORD

The term “reproach of Egypt” has reference to 2 events during Israel’s wilderness wanderings.

The first is found in Ex. 32:1-12 when the Children of Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it as God.

The other happened at Kadesh-Barnea when the children of Israel displayed unbelief and refused to enter into the Promised Land, Num 14:11-14.

On both occasions, the Lord threatened to destroy the nation of Israel and start fresh with Moses. And, both times Moses interceded with the Lord and reminded Him that He would give the Egyptians a reason to mock God. They would say that He brought them out of Egypt, but could not bring them to Canaan. However, now they are in the land and God has proven that He is well able to bring His people into their possession. Therefore, He tells them that He had rolled that reproach away! In other words, their past was no longer an issue. It was a new day!

In a sense, many of God’s children are still living under the “reproach of Egypt“. You may be living with the shame of things you did before you came to faith in Christ. You may be ashamed of times when you have failed the Lord since you were saved. Either way, you live under the constant stab of self-condemnation.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 10-12 REMEMBERING THE COMMITMENT OF THE LORD

In these verses, we find Israel once again keeping the feast of the Passover.

The Passover was a time for the Jews to remember the deliverance of the Lord!

Now that they are in the promised land, they are to celebrate the feast of the Passover. They are to remember the things God did for them in bringing them out of Egypt and in providing for them along the way.

What a lesson for the redeemed people of the Lord! When we face the battles of life, we must remember some of the great things the Lord has done for us in our pasts. We need to remember when:

Verse 11-12 Just as Israel needed to remember the Lord’s commitment to them, they also needed to remember their commitment to Him! You see, for 40 years they had eaten manna every day. However, when they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan, the manna ceased. Surely, Israel was glad that the manna was no more. Now, the Passover reminded Israel that God had brought them out of Egypt, but the manna was constant reminded of what they had left behind in Egypt, Ex. 16:3. You see, it was easy for God to bring His people out of Egypt, but it was hard for God to get Egypt out of His people.

(Ill. Far too many Christians are just like the Israelites. That is, they have an appetite for the things of the world just like Israel did for the things of Egypt.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 13-15 RECOGNIZING THE CONTROL OF THE LORD

The final step in getting ready to conquer your Canaan in learning who is in control. One day, as Joshua was looking over the city of Jericho, he saw a man standing with a drawn sword. Joshua boldly asked the man to identify himself and to state which side he was on! When the man responded, He said that He was the Captain of the Lord’s Host. He told Joshua that He did not come to take sides, but to take over! That is, He was in control of the Lord’s armies in Heaven and in the earth. He told Joshua that He was in charge. General Joshua had just met the Commander in Chief! Joshua’s response is to fall down before Him and to worship Him. This is an indication that Joshua is submitting to the will of the Lord and that he knows Who is in control. You see, before you can have the victory, you must be vanquished. Before you can conquer, you must first be conquered! We must do what Joshua did right here. That is, we must lay down our swords at the feet of the Captain of the Lord’s host.

You’re Not Alone | Perfect Trust


lonelenessI took the opportunity in between appointments at work today to read a little excerpt from 
Charles Swindolls’ book “Perfect Trust.” Here is a great question: “Can you trust God?” There are two ways to look  at that question. Can you trust God? That is, is He dependable in times of need? Will He do what He says? or secondly, we might ask, “Can you trust God? Do you have such a relationship with Him and such confidence in Him that you believe He is with you always even though you do not see the evidence of His presence and His power?  It isn’t easy to trust God in times of adversity.We continually encounter hardships. People disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. But God is constant and compassionate.

Your not alone……

We are not alone. He cares. Against all reason, the transcendent God loves us so much that He has committed Himself to us.

That’s why Paul could proclaim, “but in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created the, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37 – 39).

God has entrusted to us by great deal. He knows that we can do all things by his grace, so He’s trusted in us to trust in Him. Yet He knows our fears as well, otherwise He wouldn’t assure us often of His purpose and His presence.

Your not alone…..

We feel hurt and alone – God assures us He cares.

We feel angry and resentful – God provides wisdom and strength.

We feel ashamed – God grants forgiveness and comfort.

We feel anxious – God promises to supply our needs.

May He give us the ears to hear, hearts to trust, and minds to rest in Him. Our God is uniquely and ultimately trustworthy!

So today!

I Gird Myself Today With The Power of God:

God’s strength to comfort me,

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hands to lead me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me……

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Perfect Trust
Perfect Trust by Charles Swindoll

THE CRY OF LONELINESS | Christian Book Review

Christian Book StoresThe fourth word that Jesus uttered was a word of anguish of loneliness addressed to the Father. It is found in Matthew 27:46 – “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’”

Max Lucado gives the following account in his book titled No Wonder They Call Him Savior.

“The summer of 1980 in Miami was nothing to smile about. The Florida heat scorched the city during the day and baked it at night. Riots, lootings, and racial tension threatened to snap the frayed emotions of the people. Everything soared: unemployment, inflation, the crime rate, and especially the thermometer. Somewhere in the midst of it all, a Miami Herald reporter captured a story that left the entire Gold Coast breathless.

It was the story of Judith Bucknell. Attractive, young, successful, and dead.

Judith Bucknell was homicide number 106 that year. She was killed on a steamy June 9th evening. Age: 38. Weight: 109 pounds. Stabbed seven times. Strangled.

She kept a diary. Had she not kept this diary perhaps the memory of her would have been buried with her body. But the diary exists; a painful epitaph to a lonely life. The correspondent made this comment about her writings: ‘In her diaries, Judy created a character and a voice. The character is herself, wistful, struggling, weary; the voice is yearning. Judith Bucknell has failed to connect; age 38, many lovers, much love offered, none returned.’

Her struggles weren’t unusual. She worried about getting old, getting fat, getting married, getting pregnant, and getting by. She lived in stylish Coconut Grove (Coconut Grove is where you live if you are lonely but act happy).

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Judy was the paragon of the confused human being. Half of her life was fantasy, half was nightmare. Successful as a secretary, but a loser at love. Her diary was replete with entries such as the following:

‘Where are the men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food. . . . I would like to have in my life, once before I pass through my life, the kind of sexual relationship which is part of a loving relationship.’

She never did.

Judy was not a prostitute. She was not on drugs or on welfare. She never went to jail. She was not a social outcast. She was respectable. She jogged. She hosted parties. She wore designer clothes and had an apartment that overlooked the bay. And she was very lonely.

‘I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up.
What about me! What about me!’

Though surrounded by people, she was on an island. Though she had many acquaintances, she had few friends. Though she had many lovers (fifty-nine in fifty-six months), she had little love.

‘Who is going to love Judy Bucknell?’ the diary continues. ‘I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.’

A clear message came from her aching words. Though her body died on June 9th from the wounds of a knife, her heart had died long before. . . from loneliness.

‘I’m alone,’ she wrote, ‘and I want to share something with somebody.’”

The anguish of loneliness.

It is experienced by the abandoned child. The person who is divorced. The person in the nursing home. Maybe you experience it in the empty home. The empty mailbox. The long days. The longer nights. A one-night stand. A forgotten birthday. No personal emails – just junk and business.

Maybe you have been spared this cruel cry. Oh, you have been homesick or upset a time or two. But despair? Far from it. Suicide? Of course not. Be thankful that it hasn’t knocked at your door … yet. Pray that it never will.

But for many, loneliness is a way of life. The sleepless nights. The lonely bed. The distrust. The fear of tomorrow. The unending hurt. When did it begin? In your childhood? At the divorce? At retirement? At the cemetery? When the kids left home?

Maybe you, like Judy Bucknell, have fooled everyone. No one knows that you are lonely. On the outside you are packaged perfectly. Your smile is quick. Your job is stable. Your clothes are sharp. Your calendar is full. Your talk impressive. But when you look in the mirror, you don’t fool yourself.

Or maybe you don’t try to hide it. Maybe you have always been outside the circle looking in, and everyone knows it. Your conversation is a bit awkward. Your companionship is seldom requested. Your clothes are dull. Your looks are common. Ziggy is your hero and Charlie Brown is your mentor.

Am I striking a chord? If I am, if you sighed in understanding, I have an important message for you. The most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in history came not from a homicide victim or a prisoner or a widow or a patient. It came from a cross on a hill, from Jesus.

“My God, my God!” he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Never have words carried so much hurt. Never has anyone been so lonely.

Leviticus 16 is a passage of the Law of Atonement. It describes God’s Law to the Israelites of how to make an offering and sacrifice for the sins of the people. Remember, this is before Jesus comes to be our final sacrifice. It is complicated and ugly. In vs. 21 and 22, after much blood has been shed of animals in sacrifice, a live goat is taken. The high priest lays his hands upon the live goat and confesses the sins of all the people of Israel and transfers them to the head of the live goat. It is then sent away into the wilderness alone with all the sin upon itself. It is alone. It cannot be among the people. It is forsaken. It is cursed by God. The people would be
relieved. God would be appeased.

The temporary sacrifices described in Leviticus 16 are only a shadow of what was to come in Jesus. Hebrews teaches us that these sacrifices could not remove sins. They were only a lesson of what was to come – a lesson of our great need for forgiveness that Jesus alone provides.

Hebrews 10:1-4 – “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Hebrews 7:26-28 – “He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.”

And because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this result.

Hebrews 10:19-25– “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one
another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Because of the blood of Jesus – we can come boldly into the presence of God … in relationship. We are not alone. And we are commanded to be together as the body and not neglect that – not to live life alone but together.

We will never have to experience the greatest loneliness – eternal separation from God. But Jesus did. On the cross, a moment came when he was overwhelmed by the loneliness, being forsaken by the Father with whom he had experienced eternal closeness. He was separated from him. But for you and I he willingly endured this. He took all of our sin upon himself and God had to forsake him. He was the true, the only, the final sacrifice for our sin. He seemed to be able to take so much. He took the betrayal without complaint. He endured the trials 3without defending himself. He took so much beating and physical torture before he even came to the cross and was silent. He carried his own instrument of cruel death without complaint. He was crucified and still expressed his concern and care for others. But then something happened that he could not be silent about.

I want to go back to how Max Lucado describes this moment. “And now on Skull’s hill, the sinbearer is again 4191512_largealone. Every lie ever told, every object ever coveted, every promise ever broken is on his shoulders. He is sin. God turns away. The despair is darker than the sky. It is more than Jesus can take. He withstood the beatings and remained strong at the mock trials. He watched in silence as those he loved ran away. He did not retaliate when the insults were hurled nor did he scream when the nails pierced his wrists. But when God turned his head, that was more than he could handle.

‘My God!’

The wail rises from parched lips. The holy heart is broken. The sinbearer screams as he wanders in the cosmic wasteland. Out of the silent sky come the words screamed by all who walk in the desert of loneliness.

‘Why? Why have you forsaken me?’

Why did Jesus do it? Oh, I know, I know. I have heard the official answers. ‘To gratify the law.’ ‘To fulfill prophecy.’ And these answers are right. They are. But there is something more here. Something very compassionate. Something yearning. Something personal. What is it?

I may be wrong, but I keep thinking of the diary. ‘I feel abandoned,’ she wrote. ‘Who is going to love Judith Bucknell?’ And I keep thinking of the parents of the dead child. Or the friend at the hospital bedside. Or the elderly in the nursing home. Or the orphans. Or the cancer ward. I keep thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry, ‘Why?’

And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I imagine him holding out his nail-pierced hands showing that he who also was once alone, understands.”

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Study 2 of The Book of Joshua|She’s Not The Girl She Used To Be

downloadRead Joshua 2:1-24

And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

There once was a rather rough, uncultured man who for some reason fell in love with a beautiful vase in a shop window. Eventually he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. There it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would not do. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed. When you put Christ on the mantel of your heart, your whole life is transformed.

  • It is this kind of transformation we witness here in the second chapter of the book of Joshua.
  • As the Israelites were about to enter Canaan and claim their promised land, the first city they would have to face was the great walled city of Jericho.
  • If they could take this city, they could easily split the country in two and then move from there to conquer the north and the south.
  • Before they go about the business of defeating Jericho, Joshua sends spies to the city to gage the mood of the people and to see whether or not they were ready for war.
  • When these spies entered Jericho, they went to the home of a harlot. Why? Well, the sight of men entering a harlot’s home would not attract too much attention. Now would it?
  • What they found when they entered the home of Rahab must have come as quiet a shock to these two men. They found a woman who had been changed by the power of God. They met Rahab, but found out that she wasn’t the girl she used to be!

For us, Rahab is a picture of the power of the Lord Jesus to transform any life that comes to Him by faith.

What we will see today is how the Lord takes sinners who will place their faith in Him and changes them by His power and grace

RAHAB THE CALL GIRL

Verse 1 describes Her Spiritual Condition – Rahab was a harlot. Her’s was a depraved and wicked life. She is a picture of every person who is lost in sin this morning. You see, you may not be a harlot, but if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then you are lost in sin and need to be born again! It is sad but true, all are sinners

It also describes Her Spiritual Condemnation – She lived in a city that was slated for destruction! God had already determined that Jericho would fall! I’m sure the people felt pretty confident and reasonably safe behind the walls of their city, but God had already passed sentence upon them and they were doomed to destruction! The people of Jericho may not have felt that they were in great danger, but they were doomed nonetheless!

So it is with the sinner this morning! The lost person may feel secure today and may not believe that he is in any danger. However, the Bible tells us that the lost are condemned already, John 3:18

Then we see God’s Spiritual Compassion – Notice verse 10. Rahab tells the spies that they heard of what happened in Egypt and of the kings thy have defeated along the way. Well, it had been 40 years since they left Egypt. God had spared the city for that amount of time, and still they had several more days before judgment came to them. Rahab had experienced the grace and patience of God in giving her time to come to faith in Him.

Friend, how many years has the Lord given you? How many times has He knocked on your heart’s door? How many times has He called you to faith? You that are saved, how many times did the Lord call before you responded in faith.

RAHAB THE CONVERTED GIRL

Verse 10-11 She Heard The Word – Rahab heard about the God of Israel. It was a message of judgment that she heard, but it introduced her to the true and living God. The message that came was to her a message of life!

The message is the same today. That message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time

Verse 9-11 She Heeded The Word – Not only did Rahab hear the message, but she heeded it as well. This message produced a response of faith in the heart of Rahab. The fact that she believed the message is proven by what she says about God. In verse 9, she calls Him “the LORD”, using His covenant Name Jehovah. In verse 11, she expresses her faith in Him as THE God of Heaven and of earth. I verse 12, she again expresses her faith in Him as she calls God to witness the pact she is about to make with the spies. Even Heb. 11, the great Hall of the Faithful, in verse 31 tells us of the faith of Rahab. She heard the message and she acted on it in belief.

RAHAB THE COMPLETED GIRL

By the way, He has no respect of persons, therefore, what He did for Rahab, He can do for you. He used her in a mighty fashion. He can use you as well!)

Verse 12-22 The Proof Of Her Completion 

In Verse 1-7 She Labored For The Lord – One of the surest proofs that Rahab was genuinely converted is the fact that she involved herself with the work of the Lord. She hid the spies and covered up for them. We cannot condone her lie. Even James uses her as an example of the believer who proves their salvation by the works of their life, James 2:25.

My friends, we can like it or not, but the truth of our profession is proven by the work of our life, James 2:18! You see, we can say anything we like, but what we really are is proven by what we do! The fruit of your life proves the root of your life – Matt. 7:20

She also Loved The Lost – Notice that Rahab is concerned about others in her family who are in danger as well.

The Payoff Of Her Completion – Because she placed her faith in the Lord God of Israel, she obtained some precious possessions. Notice how God took this former harlot and blessed her new life with the richest of His blessings. She Found A New Family – She went from being part of judged nation to being part of a holy nation! She Found A New Family – Rahab was taken from the house of shame and wound up in the hall of fame. This woman became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, she was David’s great-great grandmother and she was the mother-in-law of Ruth. Josh. 6:20-25 She Found A New Freedom – Because of her faith she was spared from the destruction that overtook her city. By the way, all those in her house were spared as well! When the walls of Jericho fell down flat, there was apparently one section that remained standing. It was the section that held the house of Rahab. It was a place that was marked by a scarlet rope that hung from her window, v. 18.

What a picture is given here. And, just as Rahab’s home was marked by a scarlet rope, v. 18 so our life is recognized by God because of the blood of Jesus that has been applied to our souls by faith. That rope told Israel that Rahab believed God and was to live. The blood of Jesus tells the Father that we have trusted His Son and that we, too, are to be spared! Folks, it is the blood that makes the difference! I Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5.)

It was the blood of a lamb that spared the firstborn in Egypt when the death angel passed through the land. It is the blood of Jesus that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell for each of us this morning!)

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Do the Hard Things

hard thingsIn life you have to do the hard things. Doing the hard things will cause you to appreciate that which is easy.

You have to make the call you’re afraid to make. You have to get up earlier than you want to get up. You have to give more than you get in return right away. You have to care more about others than they care about you. You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore. You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter. You have to lead when no one else is following you yet. You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is. You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have. You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off. You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option. You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.” You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot. You have to try and fail and try again. You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath. You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you. You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled. You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong. You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

 christ strengthens me

You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success. The hard things are the easiest things to avoid.

To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you. The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.  Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

Serve the Lord with Gladness

Serve the Lord with Gladness.
Serve the Lord with Gladness.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalms 100

Here, in the opening words of Psalm 100, we read an exclamation of joy on the part of the psalmist in his own service of God. It is exhibited in his desire that ‘all lands’, that is Gentiles as well as Jews, would come to know the joy of the Lord. The Psalmist starts out by saying Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands, this means to raise a shout, give a blast to split the ears. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, we should be able to make some noise because we have been redeemed. This morning we want to focus our attention on verse 2 this little phrase “Serve the Lord with gladness.” This will be our overarching theme for 2014 “Serve the Lord with Gladness.” This word serve is translated differently in other translations. Most translations use the word “worship” here. “Worship the Lord with gladness.” This is significant; the Hebrew word for serve is (aw-bad’) verb – worship, become a slave. The Psalmist is saying to serve is to worship and to worship is to serve. We might as well stop right here because there are many people who come to church and don’t want to serve:

  • They have excuses as to why they can’t serve or they don’t want to serve because they want recognition and titles.

That’s why the writer didn’t just say serve, but he said “Serve the Lord.” What does it mean to “serve the Lord?” Some view serving the Lord in a restricted manner; to serve the Lord is to do church-related work. They wrongly divide life into two categories, the sacred and the secular. The Christian should view all of life as spiritual. All work, whether in the church or in the ‘secular’ workplace, is spiritual in nature. So he goes on and says “Serve the Lord with Gladness.” This is when a lot of us say uh’oh. We will serve but how many serve the Lord with gladness? As a matter of fact the question should be asked what is it to serve the Lord with gladness? Serving the Lord with gladness describes the manner in which the people of God enjoy themselves as they live out their lives for God’s glory in God’s presence. Eph 6:Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; So let’s talk about glad service. In the first place serving the Lord with Gladness is very rare. Look at the faces of those who profess to serve God: I heard a story about a little boy who had just become a Christian and sat on a bench next to an old man who looked somber, grave and gloomy. The little boy said to the man, “Sir, do you need to get saved?” The man said abruptly, “I’ll tell you I’ve been a deacon in this church for over 30 years and then Chairman of the Deacons for 15 years.” The little boy responded, “Sir, it don’t matter what you’ve done, Jesus loves you and He’ll still save you!” There was another story about two farmers. One was a pessimist, the other an optimist. The optimist would say, “Wonderful sunshine.” The pessimist would respond, “Yes, but I’m afraid it’s going to scorch the crops.” The optimist would say, “Fine rain.” The pessimist would respond, “yes, but I’m afraid we’re going to have a flood.” One day the optimist said to the pessimist, “Have you seen my new bird dog? He’s the finest money can buy.” The pessimist said, “You mean that mutt I saw penned up behind your house. Didn’t look like much to me.” The two went hunting with the dog the next day. They shot some ducks. The ducks landed in the pond. The optimist ordered his dog to get the ducks. The dog obediently responded and instead of swimming in the water the dog walked on top of the water, retrieved the ducks, and walked back on top of the water with the ducks. The optimist turned to his friend and said, “Now, what do you think of that?” The pessimist replied, “Hmm, he can’t swim can he?” Sometimes we leave the service depressed instead of encouraged! We walk around as if we have been baptized in lemon juice. So why is this gladness so rare in the service of the Lord?

  • Sin – There is a remedy for it.
  • The presence of earthly sorrow – There is encouragement for it.
  • Misunderstandings of the Bible! Must work our way to heaven! The Pharisees never really had joy!

In the second place serving the Lord with Gladness is reasonable. The first question should be asked is why? The psalmist said in verse 3Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” You ought to know Him that “He is the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” That’s why in verse 4 you ought to be able to “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” just on the merit that He is God and you’re not your own. The writer say’s wait a minute just in case you have an excuse to say that I don’t understand what you mean that He is God in verse 5 I will make His characteristics plain for you “For the Lord is good – Only those who personally know God can understand His goodness, his mercy is everlasting – Loving-(1 John 4:10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and his truth endureth to all generations – Faithful- Our God is a covenant-keeping God. Finally, Serving the Lord with Gladness yields an invitation. Look at verse 2 Serve the Lord with gladness : come before his presence with singing. You have to understand these statements. In the KJV a colon is used between them.  A Colon is used before a list or an explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself. Think of the colon as a gate, inviting one to go on: The NIV has a Semi-Colon But with a semicolon there you get a pleasant little feeling of expectancy; there is more to come; read on; it will get clearer. Some of you have translations with explanation marks meaning the two statements are emphatic. Be that as it may, the two go together. Serving the Lord with Gladness is the key or invitation to be in His presence. Some of you may say well I’m already in His presence. I tend to agree but how are you in His presence? You see God is in our Presence because he is ever present but how many are really in His presence. Serving the Lord with Gladness is an invitation to go beyond the veil to enter in worship in the Holy of Holies. I’m not just talking about His presence I’m talking about His dwelling with you and you dwelling with Him, in you and with you. His Shekinah Glory! Why is this an invitation? Because you are know more like the Lord Jesus then when you serve with gladness. That’s why Paul said let this mind be in you which also is in Christ Jesus Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Moving Forward Not Backward|“Example of Focus”

focus

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:51-62

So much of Jesus’ life and ministry, hinges on what we see in Luke 9:51, which says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up,” That is, returned to heaven. This is after his death, burial, resurrection, ascension that he ultimately would be taken back up to heaven where he had come from as God. “He,” Jesus, “set his face to go toward Jerusalem.”

For Jesus, this is that day. That day is the day when you stake your claim, “This is who I am, this is where I’m going, and this is what I’m doing. I’m resolute in this decision. I cannot be dissuaded. I am committed to see this through to completion.”

And he is going to Jerusalem, and this is for the purpose of his crucifixion. This is Jesus, setting his eyes ultimately toward the cross, where he would go to atone for the sins of the world, dying in our place for our sins as our Savior and God.

Today we’ll see one people group, the Samaritans, and then three individuals, and how they respond and react to Jesus.

So the first thing we learn is there’s a group called the Samaritans, and they have their tribe before Jesus, and it has to be Jesus before tribe.

Luke 9:52  52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Now let me explain to you Samaria. These people were kind of Jews. They had intermarried with pagans, and they established their own temple, their own Bible, their own religion, their own theology, and their own pastors. And the Jews didn’t know what to do with these people, so what would happen is, as God’s people journeyed from Galilee to Jerusalem, they would just walk around Samaria.

And so Jesus doesn’t walk around Samaria, he walks through Samaria, and he sends messengers ahead of him, and here’s why. A lot of these towns are very small, dozens, hundreds of people. And Jesus is with quite a large entourage. It’s him, plus the twelve plus the seventy plus, and been able to find him and come along for the ride. So you’re looking at, I don’t know, eighty, a hundred plus people. And if you’re a village of forty or sixty people, you don’t have a Hotel.

So messengers would be sent in advance, “Hey, Jesus is coming. There are a lot of us. Do you guys have any food to eat or place to sleep, or is there a way we could purchase supplies and take care of the ministry team around Jesus, the apostles (kind of like his pastors), the seventy (kind of like his deacons)?” They’d say, “No, we can’t accommodate that many.” “Okay, then we need to roll into the next town, and we need to figure out where we’re going to lodge, and how we’re going to feed people, and make preparations.”

So they roll into Samaria, “Jesus is coming and here’s what’s going on.” And the Samaritans said, “You know what? We really don’t want Jesus, because if he’s determined to go to Jerusalem, that mean he’s not going to validate our tribe.” See, the Samaritan people were a religious group, a political group, a racial group, a cultural group, a social group. They were a tribe. They were like people who, today, have all of their life and identity wrapped up in some tribe or grouping.

They said, “Well, we’re willing to have Jesus, providing he joins our tribe. He needs to validate our theology. He needs to go to our temple. He needs to support our leaders. He needs to reinforce our theology. He can’t go to Jerusalem. That would show the world that Jerusalem, and not Samaria, is where God wants to begin his redemptive work. That would show that their interpretation of the Bible is right and ours is wrong. Rather than repenting, we’ll reject Jesus.” And what they do is they put their tribe above Jesus. They’re willing to have Jesus, providing he will support them, and he won’t.

Let me ask you, what is your tribe? Who’s your group? What’s your identity? 

And the truth is this is how a lot of people work. They want Jesus in their tribe on their terms, and he comes and says, “No, I’m God. You don’t tell me to follow you, I tell you to follow me. I don’t join your team, you join mine.” You say, “I like Jesus, and I’m totally fine with him, providing he does what I tell him, providing he supports what I already believe.”

But what if Jesus doesn’t support your political party, your cause? 

This is why even religions like to try and stick Jesus on their team.

And when this message gets to the Samaritans, they’re like, “He’s going to Jerusalem, and he wants us to follow him? We have a totally different agenda and ideology. Jesus can either submit to us or leave.” They lose the blessing of enjoying friendship, fellowship with Jesus.

Some of you have done that. You say, “I’m fine with Jesus, as long as he doesn’t act like he’s God, Lord, in charge.”

Please don’t do that. The Samaritans did. God came to earth, walked through Samaria, the place where nobody else wanted to go. He extended a hand of friendship, and they rejected it.

So two of his disciples decide, “Let’s call fire down from heaven,”

Now I’ll tell you what I like about this, these guys don’t lack confidence. They just think, “We can just call down fire from heaven,” which that’s sort of a big assumption. They don’t even tell Jesus, “Hey, we think you should call down fire from heaven.”

Jesus says, essentially, this: “It’s not time.” Right, there is a season, a time for condemnation, but this is a season and time for salvation. Jesus is saying, “Look, I’m going to Jerusalem. I’m going to die on a cross. I’m going to suffer. I’m going to atone for sin. You guys can come back to Samaria,

See, as long as you’re alive, there’s a chance, and yeah, the Samaritans blew their opportunity. They didn’t have a right sense of urgency, but Jesus is not to be dissuaded. 

As he’s continuing his journey, we then see three people come up and have very interesting conversations with Jesus, and like the Samaritans, each has this error of putting someone or something ahead of Jesus, and they’re happy to have Jesus provided he’s in second place. As long as he’s not first priority, as long as he’s not first treasure, first love, first commitment, he’s welcome to be somewhere in the list of priorities, but not in front.

And so we see this with a man who has comfort before Jesus. And the truth is, it’s always Jesus before comfort.

Luke 9:57–58, 57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Before you sign up to follow me, let’s make it clear that it’s not going to be easy. I’m a homeless guy whose flat broke, going to get crucified. You ready to sign up to follow me wherever I go?

See, some of you, you live under this myth that if you walk with Jesus, everything’s going to be great. However, it’s not always great in the since that its easy but God gives you the peace, strength and grace you need to walk with Him.

Secondly, another man comes to him, and his issue is that he has security before Jesus, and it’s always Jesus before security.

Luke 9:59–60, 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Now these next two guys, they’re going to use the same language. They’re both going to say, “Jesus, I want follow you, but first, let me do this.” What they’re saying is, “Jesus, I want following you to be my second priority.

So what is going on here? Well, let me give you some cultural background that I think the original hearers would have understood the context in a way that we don’t.

In that day, it was very much expected of children to honor their mother and father, based upon the Ten Commandments’ exhortation to do so. And as your parents got older, you’re supposed to look after and care for them. And as they were dying, you were definitely supposed to be there for them. And when they died, there were very strict and orchestrated procedures by which you were to prepare their funeral and their burial, certain music and meals and gatherings and clothing and wailers; and this is a big event. This encompasses the family. This takes days. The whole neighborhood, the whole village is invited. This is a very big deal.

And what I can infer from that is that when he says, “Jesus, I totally want to follow you, but first, let me go bury my dad,” number one, his dad’s not dead or even dying. If his dad were dying, where would he be? With his dad. If his dad were dead, where would he be? At the funeral, overseeing the affairs of the family. Or asking Jesus to heal him.

And for that man, I believe, it is security over Jesus. He wants the approval of his family, and he wants his inheritance more than Jesus. And it has to be Jesus above security.

How about you? See, some of you are like that, you’re like, “I will totally, wholeheartedly, passionately follow Jesus once I’m out of college. And I would ask you, what security is more important for you than Jesus?

Lastly, another guy comes to him, and he wants to have the past in front of Jesus, and it is always Jesus before our past.

Luke 9:61–62, 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Now, in this instance, this man says to Jesus, I want to go home, and I want to talk to my family, and I want to let them know.”

Jesus knows this man’s heart. We’ve seen repeatedly that Jesus knew their thoughts or Jesus knew their heart. He knows what’s going on.

He knows if this guy goes back, he’s never; he’s never going to move forward.

See, some of you are like that, you’re like, “Oh, but before I go forward, I want to go back.” You know, “I want to go back to the frat and finish off my year. I want to go back to my buddies and go do stupid things and drink some more. I want to go back to my old lifestyle. I want to go back to sleeping with those people. I want to go back to those proclivities, back to that spiritual—I want to go back for a little bit, hang out in that lifestyle and, yeah, then I’m going to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus.” “No, don’t go back, you’ll never go forward.”

But Jesus is our Example

Jesus has got his hand on the plow. He’s got his face set toward Jerusalem, that’s what we read, and he is just pressing forward to the cross. He’s not looking back. He’s not saying, “Boy, I remember when my life was easier. I remember when I didn’t get criticized. I remember before I started preaching and teaching publicly and casting out demons, boy, the good ole days.” He doesn’t look back at all. It’s forward to the cross.

And Jesus plows his row in a straight line, and he picks up this analogy and he says, “Your life is like a field, and God has apportioned to you a row to plow. And you need to put your hand on the plow, and you need to set your eyes toward the New Jerusalem that will be coming down out of heaven,” the one the ascended Jesus is preparing for us right now. And just like he plowed a straight line right into Jerusalem, we need to plow a straight line right into the New Jerusalem, and not be looking back.

Eyes forward, hands on the plow, feet always moving, working hard, doing our best till we see him face-to-face. And what he says is, “If you don’t do that, you’ll take your hand off the plow. You’ll stop plowing or you’ll look back.” What he says is, “You can’t plow a straight row looking back, you can’t.” It’s a great analogy.

Moving Forward Not Backward |“What do you have in your hand?”

Moses Staff
Moses Staff

10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.

11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?

12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

In this scripture God’s people were being chased by Pharaoh’s army and only the Lord new what it would take to deliver His chosen people from slavery. Before them was the Red Sea and behind them came Pharaoh and his army and chariots with bad intentions. Between them and the Egyptians God had placed a hedge of protection through the Angel of the Lord

We see that He protects His people. He did it with the Egyptians, He did it with Job and He also does it with us.  Satan himself said to the Lord ;( Job 1:10) “Has thou not made a hedge about Job and his house and all that he has, on every side?”  Thessalonians 3:3 says that; “The Lord will strengthen and protect us from the evil one.”

Ultimately they got the victory in spite of Pharaoh’s great army and chariots. And there is also a victory for us if we face every day with the attitude that we are going forward and we will not back up or give up, no matter the cost.

Moses told them in verse 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” But God turned around and said in verse 15 “And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”

What does it take to move forward?

First it takes knowing and understanding that we are heading to something better. Where we are now is only temporary. This is not our final destination.  Heaven is our goal not the things that this world has to offer. Jesus said; “I go and prepare a place for you so that where I am you may be also.” We have to learn to move out of your place of comfort. They were comfortable in Egypt, they were used to living as slaves, and they were used to settling for the left over. Verse 12 reads  Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

In the second place Moving forward involves a change of attitude. They had developed a slave mentality. Verse 11 reads Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?
12 “Didn’t’ we tell you in Egypt to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians?”  People of God sometimes get accustomed to their worldly surroundings.  We sometimes become accustomed to not receiving the promises of God. We get used to the hand downs even if it’s not the best that the Lord has for us.  God says that; “You are the head and not the tail”, “above and not below”,” Victorious and not the victim”.” Blessed in the city and blessed in the field”, “blessed going in and going out”.

 Finally, Moving forward involves Faith in God and putting to use what He has placed in your hand. Verse 16, God said to Moses; “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the waters so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. Notice that the only thing that Moses had was Faith in what God had promised and a stick. What has He given you to move yourself and lead others to their destiny? Perhaps a talent; singing, playing an instrument, fixing something or trade like carpentry or repairing cars or landscaping. It doesn’t matter what it is but use it for the Glory of the Lord. Perhaps a Spiritual gift such as; teaching or preaching or interceding for others or encouraging others.  Whatever it is, put it to use in the Kingdom of God. It will not only push you forward but others also. Use what you have and add faith to it. We need to put our faith in the word of God not anything else. The Hebrew writer said this:

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Moving Forward Not Backward |“But This One Thing I Do”

imagesBrethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

So often we talk about doing things different. As a matter of fact this month were talking about moving forward and not backwards. But the question remains is what can I do to move forward and not backwards.

Last week Paul reminded us to: Be careful of the company you keep, Put know confidence in the flesh and Realize that you haven’t made it yet.

You see it is one thing to have someone tell you what to do, but it’s another thing for someone tell you what they do from experience not move backwards.

So Paul reiterates that, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:

  • he had not attained to perfect knowledge,
  • was not come to the mark, had not received the prize, or laid hold on eternal life;
  • though he had received so much grace, and such gifts, as had qualified him for an apostle;
  • and he had been so many years in that office, and had so great a knowledge in the mystery of the Gospel,
  • and had labored in it more abundantly than others, and with great success;
  • and even though he had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard unspeakable words, not lawful to be uttered, 2 Corinthians 12:2,
  • yet he had no such opinion of himself, as if he was perfect:

Paul say’s I’m not perfect! Can I tell you something? You’re not either.

But Paul goes on to say “but this one thing I do.” Doesn’t Paul make it simple for us? He say’s I just do one thing. Whatever gifts, graces, or honors I may have received from Jesus Christ, I consider everything as incomplete till I have finished my course, got this crown, and have my body raised and fashioned after his glorious body.

This statement means “EN” in the Greek and is translated one – primary thing. Paul is saying this is the concern, as it is the sole business, of my life. This one thing that I do encompasses three action steps:

Paul stars out by saying the first step is forgetting those things which are behind. Forgetting is a verb – present middle and it means to lose out of mind. We are not talking about precious memories here. We are talking about those past things that would hinder you from moving forward. Paul is saying my conduct is not regulated nor influenced by that of others; I consider my calling, my Master, my work, and my end.

The connotation is a race and you can’t win a race looking behind you. Looking back is sure to end in going back (Lu 9:62): And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Look at Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26) But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Because the children of Israel were looking back it took them forty years for a two week trip.

Paul’s second step is reaching forth unto those things which are before. Reaching – verb – present middle and it means to stretch (oneself) forward upon. I stretch with my all untoHebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

I’m reaching to those things – to perfection of knowledge, holiness, and happiness. The metaphor is taken from runners in a race, who did not stop to look behind them, and see what way they have run, and how far they are before others, but look and move forwards, and stretch themselves out to the uttermost, and run with all their might and main to the mark before them; and so the apostle did in a spiritual sense. With hand and foot, like a runner in a race, and the body bent forward. The Christian is always humbled by the contrast between what he is and what he desires to be.

In the last place Paul takes us to step three, he say’s “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says I press, Can’t no body do this for me. To Press is to pursue something. In Paul’s case it was Christ. He said I am pursuing toward something. Toward gives me the aim.

The aim is Christ because in Him is the prize of the high calling of God. The allusion is to the white line, or mark, which the runners in the Olympic Games made up to, and to which he that came first received the prize; “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” the incorruptible crown; the crown of life, righteousness, and glory, that fadeth not away, That high calling is the heavenly calling.

We are all running a race to something or from something. The Christian race is running to Christ Jesus in which He receives us with open arms into the place that He has prepared just for us.