HOW THE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN | The Book of 1 Kings 19:1-4

ProgramPage_MightyFallenWe have followed the prophet Elijah through many valleys and across a few mountain tops. He has been at the lowest of lows and he has enjoyed the highest of highs. He has witnessed the power of God on a personal level and on a national level. We have seen him as the Student Servant and the Champion Soldier. In this chapter we will meet the Depressed Saint. In chapter 17 we saw his humility. In chapter 18 we saw his heroism. In chapter 19 we are confronted with his humanity. We are given startling evidence of this by the words James used concerning Elijah, “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are“, James 5:17.

In essence, what we see here is a picture of a man who has pushed himself beyond his physical and emotional limits. Elijah is in a period of depression. In this chapter, we are allowed to see a side of Elijah that both shocks us and helps us.

It shocks us when we realize that great men and women go through periods of deep, dark depression. For instance, Winston Churchill said, “Depression followed me around like a black dog all of my life.” A young lawyer in the 1800’s suffered such a deep depression that his friends did everything they could to keep all razors and knives away from him. He wrote these words, “I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not.” This lawyer later became the 16th president of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln. Even a man by the name of Charles Spurgeon was given to periods of depression. History tells us that there were times when Spurgeon would be so depressed that he would refuse to leave his home to go to church. On more than one occasion, his deacons had to come and physically carry their pastor to the pulpit.

While these accounts shock us, they also serve to help us. How? They remind us that depression is a common experience. It is something that often happens in life. In other words, if you go through a time of depression, you are not alone.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s look at this account from the life of Elijah and think about the subject, How The Mighty Are Fallen. What happens when depression comes and how can we handle it?

In these first four verses of this chapter, we will witness THE MISERY OF THE PROPHET

  1. V. 1-3aWE SEE ELIJAH RUNNING

A. After the great events on Mount Carmel, Ahab returns home to his wife Jezebel. She is, no doubt, waiting to hear the news that her prophets wrought a great victory. After all, she probably saw the fire fall from Heaven and now she see the rain. She must believe that Baal is responsible for all these things. Instead of good news, Ahab tells her that it was Elijah who won that day and that he has even slain her priests! When she hears this, she is infuriated! She takes matters into her own hands and decides that Elijah must die!

(Ill. I just want to interject a few thoughts right here. Jezebel is a typical domineering woman. Her actions prove this to be true.

  1. First, she made all the decisions in this matter.
  2. Second, she performed Ahab’s job her way.
  3. Third, she used scheming and intimidation tactics when she saw her puny little husband beginning to cave into the pressure.
  4. Ahab, on the other hand is a true henpecked husband. He may have been the king, but Jezebel wore the crown in that castle! She was the boss, he was her puppet!)

(Ill. Besides this, Ahab paints another picture for us. He had been confronted with the truth that God was greater than Baal. He knew that, like the people of Israel, he should fall before the Lord in humble repentance. Yet he refuses to do so. When he arrives home, he even refuses to give God the credit for what transpired on Carmel, v. 1. He gives all the glory to Elijah!

B. When Jezebel hears the news that Elijah has slain her prophets, she sends him a warning that she is going to have him put to death.

  • Instead of standing, like he did before Ahab and the prophets of Baal, Elijah tucks tail and runs away.
  • After all he had already faced: the dry brook, the empty barrel, the dead boy, the prophets of Baal and the lack of rain; and after all that he had seen the Lord do: close the heavens, replenish the barrel, raise the boy, consume the sacrifice, enable the prophet to destroy the false prophets and to run to Jezreel – it seems that Jezebel was a nothing, a non-problem.
  • Yet, Elijah does that which is irrational and runs away.
  • He doesn’t just leave Jezreel, Elijah runs due south almost 125 miles. He actually left Israel and ran all the way to the southern border of Judah. He went as far as he could so that he might avoid the reach of one woman!

(Ill. His behavior is irrational, but that is one of the effects of depression on the human mind. It causes the sufferer to think in ways that are not normal. Depressed people often do things that defy logic and description. Yet, to them, their actions make perfect sense.

  1. We See Elijah Running
  2. V. 3b-4aWE SEE ELIJAH RETIRING

A. Elijah leaves his servant at Beersheba and goes alone another day’s journey into the wilderness. Sits down under a juniper tree, throws in the towel and asks God to take his life.

B. Elijah displayed some characteristics in this event that show us that his thinking was anything but rational. Elijah is at the end of himself and it shows.

Note these warning signs.

  1. Elijah cut himself off from those close to him, 3. As a result, he felt all alone. However, notice that this is irrational thinking. God still had 7,000 who had not bowed to Baal in Israel, v. 18. Elijah never sought them out.
    1. (Ill. One of the worse effects of a depressed spirit is the desire to separate oneself from every one. Many people who become discouraged have a tendency to develop an “I’m all alone” or a “Nobody understands” mentality. Yet, the fellowship of the church is so important, 10:25! Even if the people at church don’t understand what you are going through, at least they can pray with you and be a friend to you! You need people around you!)
  2. Elijah took his eyes off the Lord and focused instead on his own circumstances, 3. (and when he saw that) When we leave God and His power out of the picture, we are in trouble. (Ill. Peter – Matt. 14:28-31. We must learn to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus
  3. He stopped interceding for others and started requesting for himself, 4. This was the first time Elijah had prayed for himself. He had forgotten that he was the prophet to Israel. His attention is full of himself.
    1. (Ill. When we become so self-conscious that it dominates our thinking, we are in trouble spiritually. When we get to the place where everything is about “me”, we need to check up. Someone is in trouble and on the verge of a time of discouragement and depression. We must always strive to be God-conscious.)
  4. Elijah adopted an attitude that said, “Life is hopeless.“, 4. Elijah said, in effect, “I’ve had it! I quit!” He sat down and he gave up. Elijah felt that life was no longer worth living. As long as we can remember that there is hope, we can make it through. May we never forget that God is still on the throne, and no matter how bad things become, God is in control! He knows where we are and what we are facing. He will see us through! As long as there is a God in Heaven, there is hope for you – Rom. 8:28; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17.  (Ill. Job – Job 23:10!)  Elijah gave up on life, on ministry and on God.
  5. Elijah claimed that he wanted to die, v. 4. Many people who are depressed have these types of thoughts. However, most are irrational as were Elijah’s. If he really wanted to die, why didn’t he just stay in Jezreel and let Jezebel take care of it for him? Again, this is just more evidence that he is thinking very irrationally.
  6. We See Elijah Running
  7. We See Elijah Retiring
  8. V. 4bWE SEE ELIJAH RATIONALIZING

A. Elijah attempts to rationalize his request for death by saying that he was no better than his fathers. The question I have is “Who told him that he was better in the first place?” Apparently, Elijah had come to believe that he was something special. After all, hadn’t God used him in a great way? Hadn’t he trusted God and seen the impossible done time and again? Yes he had, but he was no better than anyone else. It seems to me that Elijah must have thought that Ahab and Jezebel would repent when they saw what God did.

What is Elijah’s problem? Pride! He was guilty of believing his own press! He was caught in the backwash of a great victory and he may have felt as though he were invincible.

B. Ill. When we consider the great ministry enjoyed by Elijah, we may wonder what got him into this shape. I think there are two primary reasons why Elijah ended up under that juniper tree asking God to take his life. These are the same two reasons that can lead to serious problems for you and me if we do not heed the warning signs.)

  1. Elijah Is Physically Exhausted– Think of the activity on Carmel and of his flight into the wilderness. This man is totally exhausted. The Lord knows this and therefore He does not rebuke Elijah for sleeping.  Rather, God refreshes the prophet and allows him to sleep and to rest,  5-7.
    1. (Ill. These bodies were not designed to be pushed constantly. The Lord set this thing up so that man could have a day of rest,Mark 2:27; Even the Lord Jesus Christ took time away from His work to rest His body, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”, Mark 6:31. That’s why I say if you can take a vacation, take it!
  2. Elijah Is Emotionally Spent– This man is drained from the ministry he has been performing. He has been giving out constantly. He is emotionally drained.
    1. (There is an old Greek saying that goes “You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.” There are times when you and I must unstring ourselves and relax.

 

Remember what He said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.“, Matt. 11:28“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”Heb. 13:5; “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.“, 1 Pet. 5:7.

 

EMPTY BARREL GRADUATE SCHOOL | The Book of 1 Kings 17:8-16

Elijah: Obedience in a Threatening World
Elijah: Obedience in a Threatening World

Elijah holds in his hand a diploma from Dry Brook University. He has trusted God to take care of him even in the most desperate of situations. He trusted God to send the ravens to feed him, and he trusted God to supply his water using the little brook Cherith. He watched as God met his needs day in and day out. He also watched as God allowed his brook, the only source of water he had, to dry up before his eyes. Surely, enduring this kind of trial would count for something! Surely, things would get better for the prophet now!

Yet, when God speaks to Elijah, it is to send him into another difficult situation. You see, the prophet’s training isn’t over just yet. God is creating a man of God! Elijah may have graduated from Dry Brook University, but now he is about to enroll in Empty Barrel Graduate School. At Cherith God broke the prophet’s flesh: He taught Elijah to depend on God. At Zarephath, God will break Elijah’s pride. Here, he will learn that God, not Elijah calls all the shots of life. He will learn that things are never like they appear. He will learn that God can use the humblest of means to train His children for His glory.

Remember, God intends to use this man in a mighty way! When we get to chapter 18, we will see why God put the prophet through such rigorous training. God is building a man of God!

Now, with that in mind, there are times when it seems that our trials come back to back to back to back. That is, it seems that before one trial can end, another begins! When these times come, we may be tempted to question the Lord as to what He is doing. Simply stated, God is getting you in a position where He can use you in a greater way. I will remind you that before He can mold us, He must first melt us! After all, God’s goal for every saint of God is that we be made into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:“, Eph. 4:13.

Therefore, let’s join the prophet Elijah as he continues his training at Empty Barrel Graduate School. There are lessons here that we can glean from as well. These lessons will help us when we face our times of testing.

I. V. 8-11 A FRESH PATH

A. V. 8 The Call – As Elijah sat there beside that dried up brook, it must have felt like he had been abandoned by God. Have you ever felt that way? It is a terrible feeling! However, God had not forgotten about Elijah! God knew exactly where he was. God knew all about that dry brook and God had something else in mind for the man of God!

    • Let me just remind you that the dried brooks of life are merely those things which God uses to move us along in His will.
    • (Ill. There is a lesson here for us, and it is a hard one to swallow! That lesson is this: genuine faith waits for God to reveal His plans. It will sit by a dried up brook forever, even if it means death, waiting on the will of God to be revealed.
    • Friends, this is where we get into trouble! We have this tendency to run ahead of God and take matters into our own hands. Yet, God’s will is that we learn to wait on Him, even when He doesn’t move on our schedule!
    • If your brook is dry this morning, do not fear! God has not forgotten about you. He knows just where you are and when the time is right, you will hear His voice calling you to a fresh arena of service! “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

B. V. 9a The Command – when the Lord does speak to Elijah, He commands him to go to Zarephath. This is a strange command considering the fact that Zarephath is in a Gentile nation. It is country of Jezebel. It is a land of idolaters. It is a wicked place filled with wicked people. Yet, that is exactly where the Lord sends His prophet! To top it off, to get to Zarephath from Cherith will force Elijah to march over 100 miles through territory ruled over by King Ahab, who is looking for Elijah everywhere. It seems like this command of the Lord makes no sense at all! Of course, one of the reason for sending Elijah to Zarephath was to vividly illustrate the impotence of Jezebel’s wrath and power!

    • (Ill. Again, there is a lesson for us in this verse: Often, the life of faith will lead through difficult pathways. Folks, God never promised that this way would be an easy way. Job 14:1; Job 5:7; John 16:33. Yet, that is the path of faith! Yet, even when the command of God makes no sense, faith simply obeys God without regard for the consequences, v. 10! You can see this truth displayed throughout the Bible.
      • Noah and the ark – Gen. 6
      • Abraham and Isaac – Gen. 22
      • Daniel and the 3 Hebrews – Dan. 1

C. V. 9b The Challenge – Notice that again Elijah is told to “dwell there“. He is to go to Zarephath and stay there until he receives new instructions from the mouth of the Lord.

    • However, the real challenge is in what God told the prophet next, “behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” That must have been a serious blow to the pride of the prophet.
    • Instead of God telling Elijah, “I have a widow over there in Zarephath and I want you to go take care of her.” God says, “Elijah, I am sending you to another place of testing where you will have to look to me for all you receive, every day.”
    • For Elijah, Zarephath was a place that would live up to its name. The name Zarephath meanssmelting furnace, or refining“. It refers to the furnace into which metal is placed so that it can be heated up and have any impurities removed. Cherith was the place where Elijah had been cut off and cut down. Zarephath would be the place where he would be refined. It would be here that the last vestiges of Elijah’s pride and self-reliance would be stripped away.
    • (Ill. We are a self-reliant people aren’t we? We always want to believe that we can “handle it” ourselves. We would like to think that we are in control of our lives and that we are calling all the shots. However, when the Lord begins to work in your life to reveal Himself in you more clearly, He will send you to a Zarephath where you have to depend on nothing but Him. When you have been brought to the place where you can lean on nothing but God, He has brought you to the greatest of places that life can afford. For it is in that place that you will learn Who is in control. That is the challenge we all face in our faith life. We all face the challenge of getting to the place where we are trusting God and Him alone for all the needs we have in life! That is where He wants each of us, “The just shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:17.)

D. V. 10-11 The Comfort – When Elijah receives this command, he does not hesitate, he just gets up and goes where God tells him to go. When he arrives at Zarephath, he sees “the” widow picking up sticks.

    • (Ill. There is a lesson here as well. Our God is a God Who works on both ends of the line. Let me illustrate. When Jacob and his sons needed food, God provided a Joseph in Egypt. When the children of Israel sent their spies to Jericho, God gave them a Rahab. When the Jews faced a Haman, God raised them up an Esther. When an Ethiopian Eunuch needed salvation, God sent him a Philip. The point is this: When your time of need arises, rest assured that your Father has already gone ahead to spread the table of provision in your behalf, Phil. 4:19.)

IA Fresh Path

II. V. 12-15a A FANTASTIC PROMISE

A. V. 12 A Doubt – When Elijah asks the widow for a cake of bread, her fear is brought to the surface. God had already commanded her to care for His prophet, v. 9, but she is trapped is the fear of faithlessness. She has her eyes on the circumstances and not on the God Who controls the circumstances!

    • (Ill This is the place where many people are living this morning! When we look at our problems and our needs, we feel like we are trapped in a hopeless situation. We are guilty of looking at the problem and not at the Provider! As much as Elijah was sent to Zarephath for his benefit, he was also sent for the benefit of this widow. She needed to learn the value of faith in God.
    • My friend, are you trapped in doubt this morning? Does it appear that your situation is hopeless and that you are helpless to do anything about it? The answer lies in looking beyond your problem and getting your eyes on the Provider,
    • (Ill. It must have been a discouragement to Elijah to hear the widow express her lack of faith. If he had focused on first impressions instead of on the word of God, then he might have lapsed into despair. However, he believed God more than he believed even what he saw! Real faith knows that God is greater than what the eye can see. Real faith knows that God can make the impossible possible, Heb. 11:1!)

B. V. 13-14 A Demand – When Elijah hears the widow’s sob story, he makes what appears to be the coldest demand in the Bible. He tells her to go ahead and fix her last supper, but to feed him first! On the surface this appears harsh and cruel, but it was, in fact, a plea for faith and surrender to the will of God.

    1.  Involved Encouragement – “Fear not!” Elijah comforts her heart in this matter. She is told that she can trust God.
    2.  Involved Enlightenment – “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel.” She gets a direct word from God concerning her situation. She has God’s word that she will be taken care of.
    3.  Involved Excitement – “Neither the barrel of meal nor the cruse of oil will fail until God sends rain upon the earth. This widow hears the news that she is about to be center stage for a miracle designed to care for God’s man. She is about to be caught up in a manifestation of the power of God.

C. V. 15a A Decision – When this widow heard the word of God, she went and did as Elijah had commanded her. It must have took great faith to use the last little bit of meal she had to prepare bread for a total stranger. Yet she did it by faith!

    • (Ill. This is the place that God wants to bring us all to. He wants His Elijahs and His widows to learn to trust Him in every circumstance, regardless of what outward appearances may suggest.
    • (Ill. God wants us to get to the place where we can give it all away!
  1.  A Fresh Path
  2.  A Fantastic Promise

III. V. 15-16 A FABULOUS PROVISION

  • (Ill. The Bible tells us here that until the rains returned to the earth, the meal barrel and the jar of oil did not run out. Every time the widow went to get meal and oil to prepare a meal, there was more to be used. When she decided to bake that cake for Elijah, she traded the certain for the uncertain and received the impossible in return!)
    1.  The Grace Of It – Because this widow took God at His Word and prepared bread for Elijah, God allowed the widow, the widow’s son and Elijah to enjoy plenty while all around them hundreds starved to death.
    2.  The Greatness Of It – For years, until it rained, every meal time was a miracle. He can take the little that is dedicated to Him by faith and multiply it to enormous proportions! (Ill. The 5 loaves and 2 fishes fed a multitude – John 6:5-13.)
    3.  The Glory Of It The glory of this story resides in this fact: that barrel of meal and that cruse of oil were never full! Elijah and the widow were taught to live day by day. Everyday she scraped the bottom of the barrel and everyday there was just enough meal to fix their food. Everyday she watched the last drop of oil drip from that jar, but the next day there was always more. The glory in the story lies in the fact that Elijah and the widow were taught to trust God day by day! As the days passed, their faith was strengthened as they saw the Lord provide!

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Good Advice from an Old Soldier | The Study of Joshua 23:1-8

Good Advice When You Need It Most
Good Advice When You Need It Most

Verse one of our text tells the story. Israel has acquired the land that God had promised them and their faithful leader, Joshua, is old and is preparing to die, v. 14. Before he leaves them, however, he has something to tell them about serving the Lord. To do this, he calls two meetings. The first, in chapter 23, is held with the elders and leaders of the people. The second, recorded in chapter 24, involves all the people of Israel.

As Joshua, the faithful old soldier, prepares to break camp:

  • He wants to encourage Israel to stay the course for God. He knows that the old guard, that is, those who knew Moses and Joshua are swiftly dying off. He knows that a new generation is coming along that did not see all the miracles and all the wonders of the Lord in their midst. Before he dies, he just wants to remind them of the God they serve.

In these 2 chapters, there are some valuable lessons for us as well. We live in a day when many have forgotten about the glory and power of God, and those who have known about such things are becoming fewer by the day. We need to be reminded of the power and glory of our God. Our children need to be exposed to His power!

These verses tells us what we need to know this morning about keeping God’s work alive.

Let’s look in on the scene as Good Advice comes from an Old Soldier.

I. 23:1-8 JOSHUA’S CONCERN

(Ill. As Joshua nears the time of his departure, he sees some things beginning to happen in the lives of the people of Israel. He sees things that he does not like. So, like any good leader, he feels duty bound to point out these things to the people before he departs.)

(Ill. Joshua had the same duty that preachers of the Word have in our day. When we see error in the lives of people, we have a duty before God to tell people about those errors. Why? Because we love them and only want God’s best for their lives.)

There are three things that Joshua fears:

A. V. 6 He Fears Complacency – Joshua is afraid that the people of Israel might begin to take the Law of God for granted. He fears that they might become complacent in their walk with the Lord and begin to let things slide in their lives. Sadly, he was right, this is exactly what they did!

(Ill. It is my conviction that the sin of complacency is one of the most common sins there is among the people of God! We have allowed ourselves to adopt a Laodicean attitude – Rev. 3:14-22. We have allowed ourselves to be satisfied with our spiritual condition and as a result, we are allowing thing to go unchallenged in our lives that are leading us away from God and deeper into sin! We are neither hot nor cold.

(Ill. This is a genuine situation in the lives of many people today! Many here at Gilead have been bitten by the complacency bug. No longer do people strive to serve the Lord, win the lost and live holy, consecrated lives to the glory of God. Instead, we are self-satisfied and sure that we have arrived spiritually! That, my friends, is a dangerous condition to be in!)

B. V. 7 He Fears Compromise – Another fear Joshua possesses is that the people of Israel will decide to follow the dead God’s of Canaan. He fears that they will compromise their standards and bow down to idols. Again, it is as if the man could see into the future! What he was afraid would happen, did happen!

(Ill. What about us? Aren’t we just as guilty as the Israelites? Have not the people of God given their affection to other gods? Certainly, many worship the gods of self, success, materialism, career, etc. The truth is, many are guilty of compromise in their lives. We allow ourselves to indulge in activities that we know God disproves of. We do things that we know are wrong and try to justify it by saying, “Well, so and so does it!” All the while we smile and sing, “Oh how I love Jesus!” You have compromised you standards to the will of the flesh! Remember 1 Thes. 5:22? “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”)

C. V. 8 He Fears Commitment – It is not that Joshua fears that they will be committed to the Lord. Rather, he fears that their commitment will become slack and that they will not cleave to the Lord as they should.

I. Joshua’s Concern

II. 23:9-24:24 JOSHUA’S CHALLENGE

(Ill. In this section, Joshua challenges the elders and the people to observe certain truths concerning God. His challenge is for them to look at what the Lord has done and is doing in their lives. If they will just consider the Lord, they are more likely to live the right kind of lives!)

A. 23:11-13 To Consider God’s Wrath – While there are many challenges given here, the primary idea that Joshua is trying to convey is this: If you will serve the Lord, He will bless you. If you disobey Him, He will chastise you!

(Ill. This challenge still applies to the people of God today. That admonition is very simple: You play; you pay! As a child of God, you have two possible ways of living your life. You can either live it within the confines of God’s will and be blessed, or you can live it outside the will of God and be chastised,

B. 24:1-13 To Consider God’s Works – In this section, Joshua reminds the nation of all the many great things the Lord has done for them. His challenge is for them to remember all the works of the Lord on their behalf. If they will remember His goodness, they will be more likely to serve Him faithfully.

(Ill. The works of the Lord on our behalf are a great motivator for service! When we stop to think of all He has done, it should challenge us to go deeper in our relationship with Him. Think of: how He died; how He loved us when we were lost; how He came to us in our sins; how He called us unto Himself; how He saved us when we asked Him to; how He forgave all our sins and failures; how He adopted us into His family; how He has promised us a home in Heaven; how He has met our needs; how He has blessed our lives; how He has never left us nor forsaken us, even though, at times, we have forsaken Him. Think on His greatness and goodness toward you. Let those things be the motivator for you to renew you relationship with Him this morning!)

C. 24:14-18 To Consider God’s Will – Joshua tells the people that it is the Lord’s will for them to clean up their lives and to serve the Lord faithfully. He makes the statement that he and his family will do just that, v. 15! The people respond by expressing their desire to serve God because of His greatness and His blessings!

(Ill. Notice Joshua’s attitude toward the situation, v. 15. He tells them what they should be doing, then he tells that regardless of what they do, he is going to serve God! What a lesson for us as individuals!

D. 24:19-24 To Consider God’s Witness – Joshua makes a strange statement to the people. He tells them that they cannot serve the Lord! His meaning is clear. He is reminding them that the Lord witnesses their lives and they cannot have things both ways. That is ,they cannot serve the Lord on the one have hand, and serve false God’s on the other

I. Joshua’s Concern

II. Joshua’s Challenge

III. 24:25-33 JOSHUA’S COVENANT

A. 24:25-28 It Involved A Great Stone – Before Joshua dies, he erects a great stone as a monument to the fact that the people have sworn to follow the Lord. Thereafter, whenever they passed by that place they would remember their oath and be certain that their lives were pleasing to the Lord their God.

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VALUABLE LESSONS FOR THE DAY OF BATTLE | The Book of Joshua 10:6-14

In the book of Joshua 10:6-14 we learn “VALUABLE LESSONS FOR THE DAY OF BATTLE.”

"The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31).
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

Chapter 10 opens with 5 of the kings of Canaan joining forces to attack Gibeon because they had made a peace treaty with the people of Israel. These 5 kings didn’t know it, but they were playing right into the hand of Joshua. Now, instead of having to pick them off one at a time, they came together and he was able to defeat them all together. If you remember our last study in this book, the Israelites had been tricked into making a peace treaty with the people of Gibeon. Now, it is time for Israel to make good on their promise to protect the Gibeonites. For Israel it is just another battle in the conquest of the Promised Land, but for us, it is a vivid picture of the Christian life.

You see, battles are a reality in the life of the child of God, but we never have to face them alone, Heb. 13:5Matt. 28:20. In the day of battle, we have the promise of help from One Who is “an ever present help in a time of need“, Psa. 46:1. My duty this morning, as we consider chapters 10 and 11 of Joshua, is to remind you that our lives will be filled with battles. However, these battles are not really physical battles, neither are they battles with other people. Our battles are spiritual battles, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph 6:12. Therefore, our weapons must be spiritual as well. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) ”2 Cor 10:4.

With that in mind, let’s join Joshua and the armies of Israel as they fight the good fight of faith. As we observe them in their day of battle, there are some very special lessons that we can learn that will help us when we face the day of battle. Allow me to share these thoughts with you as we preach for a while on Lessons For The Day Of Battle.

I. V. 6-15 A LESSON ABOUT THE SAVIOR

(Ill. In these verses, Israel is about to honor the peace treaty they have made with the Gibeonites. They are going to keep their word and help these people fight those kings that have risen up against them. As they prepare for battle, the Lord comes to them with the promise of help and of victory. God is about to fight for His people!)

(Ill. This section represents the supernatural aspect of our battles. There are times when the Lord just comes to your aid and fights the battle for you. There are times when He moves in power and miracles are worked in your life. Such a time is pictured here. There are three precious truths that are revealed here about our Savior in the day of battle.)

A. V. 8 He Gave His Peace – Notice the words in verse 8, “Fear them not!” God’s challenge to His people was for them not to fear the enemy. God was just reminding Joshua that He was still in control of the situation!

(Ill. May I remind you this morning that He is still in control? He is still on the throne and He is still the Prince of Peace. For those who will walk by faith and not by sight, the Lord still gives peace that passeth understanding, Phil. 4:7.

(Ill. Please remember that the Lord didn’t save you for you to be agitated and worried. He doesn’t mean for you to tremble in fear when the enemies of the Lord approach. When the day of battle comes in your life, the Lord will give you peace, if you will lean on Him, Pro. 3:5-6. As God’s children, we need to remember that everything that happens in our lives had to pass first over God’s desk and it received His stamp of approval, Rom. 8:28.)

B. V. 8 He Gave His Promise – The Lord didn’t stop with just a word of encouragement, He also gave them the promise of absolute victory!

(Ill. I would like to say that I still believe the Lord never saved you for you to be defeated! When He saved you, He did so with the promise that you could walk in His victory – 1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 8:37. That doesn’t mean that every situation in life will work out the way you want it to, but it does mean that God will enable you to live above your circumstances and share in His victory over the world, the flesh and the devil!)

C. V. 9-14 He Gave His Power – In these verses, we see a mighty demonstration of the power of the Lord in the life of Israel! He moved in 2 ways.

1. V. 11 In The Hail – “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” Job 38:22-23

2. V. 12-14 In The Heavens – Here we see the Lord perform the greatest miracle ever recorded in regard to the physical world. God stopped the sun in the heavens and extended the daylight hours for Joshua and his army to finish the battle.

 (Ill. What does this mean for us? Well, there are times when the Lord will supernaturally intervene in your life and He will fight your battles for you. I have seen people healed of disease. I have seen drunks saved and sobered immediately by the power of God. I have seen drug addicts immediately released from the power of drugs and made clean. I have seen lives changed in miraculous ways by the supernatural intervention of God. I have seen the Lord move in response to the need of His child and move any mountain that needed to be moved to get them what they needed. That is our God!

Please understand, He doesn’t always move like that.

I. A Lesson About The Savior

II. V. 16-27 A LESSON ABOUT THE SAINTS

(Ill. If the first section pictures the supernatural aspect of our battles, then this section portrays the personal aspect of the battles we must fight in life. You see, God gave them a great victory through His mighty power, but there was still more of the battle to be fought. In these verses, we see Israel, not the Lord, engaged in the battle! There is a lesson here for the saints of God!)

A. V. 16-18 We Must Control Our Enemy – Notice that these five kings tried to hide themselves in a cave. When they were discovered, Joshua ordered the cave to be sealed up, thus preventing the kings from escaping. This is a picture of control.

(Ill. When you got saved God changed you! However, your old, sinful nature is still alive and well! That’s right, that part of you that loves sin and the world is still active. If you don’t believe, just stick around a few more days and you will see! Just like these kings, our enemy, the flesh, hides itself within us and runs out into the open from time to time to cause us trouble

(Ill. It is important to note that part of the Fruit of the Spirit is “temperance“, Gal. 5:23. This word literally means “self-control“.

B. V. 22-25 We Must Confront Our Enemy – Notice that after the battle had been won, Joshua came back to that cave and brought these kings out and humiliated them by having his princes place their feet upon their necks. He confronted them openly and publicly pronounced the victory over them.

(Ill. Spiritually speaking, we need to do the same thing. Every person in this room knows what kings hide in your life. You know about your secret sins and those problems you have with the flesh. The only way for you to get absolute, permanent victory over these things is for you to confront them. I mean, you need to drag them out of their hiding place and lay them out before the Lord, place your foot on their necks in the name of Jesus and proclaim the victory over them this morning! You will never prosper as a child of God until your sins are handled God’s way, Pro. 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.“)

C. V. 26-27 We Must Conquer Our Enemy – In these verses, we see Joshua take a step that ensures the victory of these 5 kings. He puts them to death!

(Ill. I just want to remind you that your flesh is good for nothing! Your old sinful nature and your fleshly lusts are good for nothing other than the fires of judgment and hell. The only way for you to walk in victory before the Lord is to put you flesh to death! It must die daily, or it will keep you from walking in power and victory, Col. 3:5.)

(Ill. Note Paul’s attitude toward life, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.Gal 2:20.)

I. A Lesson About The Savior

II. A Lesson About The Saints

III. 28-11:23 A LESSON ABOUT STEADFASTNESS

(As we move into the latter part of chapter 10 and all of chapter 11, we see Israel completing the central campaign and we see them fighting both the southern and the northern campaigns as well. We have looked the supernatural aspects of our battles as well as the personal aspect of our battles. In these verses, we will see the temporal aspect of our battles. By that I mean that they must be fought, but they will not last forever. Just as Israel obtained a state of rest, we too will rest from the battles of life. But, until then, allow me to encourage you to steadfastness in the fight! Three quick truths here.)

A. V. 28, 35 We Must Fight Daily – Please note that the battles Israel fought seemed to come day by day. Theirs was a life of battles!

(Ill. The same is true for the child of God. Our battles will confront us daily. Therefore, we must arise each day with the willingness to fight our battles faithfully for the glory of God!)

(Ill. Let me say this to those who may be waiting on easier times to begin serving the Lord. You may never have an easier time! You and I are not promised one more day upon this earth. The only day I have to fight my battles is today. Tomorrow may never come for me! Therefore, let me say to you that if you have something to do for the Lord, do it today! If you have something to give to the Lord, give it today! If there is someone you need to tell about Jesus, tell them today! Tomorrow may never dawn on you! James 4:17!)

B. 11:18 We Must Fight With Determination – This verse tells us that Joshua fought his battles for a long time. This tells me that this man had determination!

(Ill. That is a quality that needs to be developed by all the children of the Lord! Too many are quitting in our day! Too many are throwing in the towel and giving up the fight. We need some people who will vow before the Lord this morning that come what may, they will stand for Him and will be in His service all the way until the end. That is the command we have from Paul, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor 15:58)

 

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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.