Archive for the ‘Joshua’ Category


Importance church covenantA mere two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers inked a new, two–year, $45 million guaranteed deal with power hitter Manny Ramirez, the slugger got hit with a 50–game suspension for using a banned performance–enhancing substance. The reason, a “Behavior” clause written into his contract. The 50 game suspension will save the Dodgers 8 million dollars.Manny Rameriz

Earlier this year Kellogg’s backed out of an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps because of a “Behavior Clause” they had written into the contract. You know them as “Morality Clauses”, but because of changing morals, they have become specific “behavior” clauses.

There was once a time when an advertiser could get an agent to agree to the following clause: “If [Celebrity] has committed any act that offends the community or any segment thereof and/or public morals and decency, such behavior shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement incapable of cure, and if in [Advertiser’s] sole judgment such breach is likely to cause a diminution in the value of the [Advertiser’s] commercial association with [Celebrity], then [Advertiser] shall have the right, in addition to any other rights [Advertiser] may have as a result of such breach, to immediately terminate this Agreement on written notice to [Celebrity]. In such event, there shall be no further compensation payable to [Celebrity] and such termination shall not limit or effect any other rights [Advertiser] may have against [Celebrity] under this Agreement on account of such termination.”

Phelps breaks Behavior ClauseHowever, society’s views of morality have changed, so contracts have gotten to be very specific as regards the “behavior” of the celebrities. With Michael Phelps, public drug use was clearly prohibited.

These behavior clauses have even entered the world of Big Banks and Big Business. The latest banking crisis underscored the importance of not appearing greedy in the face of massive government bailouts at taxpayer expense. The government refused to give “Bailout Funds” unless certain behavior standards were met. Corporate executives lost their jobs and had their pay cut because of lavish extravaganza’s and exorbitant bonuses while Americans saw Billions of dollars in savings wiped out. Now the excessive compensation and perks of CEO’s is under scrutiny of enraged shareholders.CEO Behavior Clause

In the sports world, in the corporate world, in the banking world, how we behave and act is very important, so important that people lose millions when they fail to live up to certain standards.

AIG Bailout and BonusesEven in the church, our behavior is important.  George Barna has become well-known because of the extensive research and surveys he conducts. He has noticed some alarming trends in the church, particularly in regards to our “Biblical World view”. A Survey published in March of this year produced these results:

For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.Biblical Worldview

The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.

Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:

  • One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
  • Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
  • Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
  • Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
  • A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
  • Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.

troubling change in churchesGeorge Barna, who has directed this tracking research since the early Nineties, pointed out, “There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”Biblical_Worldview

Now why would any born again, saved child of God be anything less than 100% when it comes to a Biblical Worldview? I would guarantee that even in our church there are some members who would not score very high on Barna’s poll.

Why have Christians become so watered down when it comes to standards and behavior? Today you have more divorces in the church than in the world; you have believer’s living together; you have leaders of the church struggling with pornography and even getting divorced; you have homosexuality as an accepted behavior, even in many churches.

Should the church be held to higher standards of behavior? Should a church have a “behavior” clause for their members? Or should we concentrate only on our beliefs?

My Experience at Prairie Baptist Church.

Prairie Baptist churchI mentioned last week that my parents marriage was probably saved because they got involved and became members of a Bible teaching and preaching church. It was American Baptist and it was the early 1960’s. But by the time I was in ninth grade (1967) we started to have interesting discussions in youth group. Drug use – is it really wrong? The Bible – is it always right? Hell – is it literal or figurative? Sex before marriage – it it OK. But didn’t really try to present the definitive answer from the Word of God.

The one on Hell really was the last straw for my parents, plus the type of behavior our older youth we getting involved in. My parents became very concerned about what I was learning, but even more so for the type of behavior some of our youth were allowed to engage in. Standards were lacking, not even taught. The Bible was watered down and not taught as absolute.

James warns us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Js 1:26).

In other words, if you profess to be a Christian, but you don’t live a changed life, you should take no comfort in your faith. In fact, the reality is that your faith (religion) should influence your behavior. If it does not, it is a sham, it is powerless. The reason the churches must demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives is evident in what is really happening in America.

Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

Seve  Faith TribesIn this new book by George Barna, Mr Barna sees seven different faith groups that are influencing America. The two largest are of the Christian ‘tribe’. He distinguishes the tribes in this way: Casual Christians represent 66% of the adult population of the U.S. (The percentage of the adult population represented by the other half-dozen tribes included 16% who are Captive Christians, 2% Jews, 2% Mormons, 2% Pantheists, one-half of 1% Muslims, and 11% Skeptics.) Here are some of his answers to questions some have posed:

Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?

Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented changes could occur.

Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?

Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.

Causual Christian vs Captive ChristianBarna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.

Why is it imperative that we reach out to casual Christians and impress upon them to become Captive Christians, (I CALL THEM COVENANT CHRISTIANS)?

Here is the Real World the Church is facing:

Sex Profanity Steal Lie Gossip Moral SinsAmerican society has become more intrigued by moral issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that 55% of adults discuss moral issues with others during a typical week. But a nationwide survey by The Barna Group indicates that Americans have also redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives.

A 2008 survey by The Barna Group asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included looking at pornography, using profanity, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. Of those surveyed:

  • Twenty-eight percent had used profanity.
  • Twenty percent had gambled.
  • Nineteen percent had viewed pornography.
  • Twelve percent had gossiped.
  • Twelve percent had gotten drunk.
  • Eleven percent had lied.
  • Nine percent had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married.
  • Eight percent had retaliated against someone.

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.

For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).

According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.

“We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.

“The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”

  • Head Belief is no good. Being a Casual Christian is NO GOOD! Only a Heart Belief that changes your heart and produces right behavior does good.
  • This is what Jesus taught was the foundation for building you life, building the church.

Wise man and Foolish ManLook at Luke 6:45-49

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:45-49MATT_7_24C

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27

Morality Rooted in Heart BeliefsJesus says it doesn’t matter what you believe in your mind. Your belief will only produce change when it comes from a changed heart. But a changed heart will always bring forth a changed life. Belief’s only have power if they change the way you live. The reason there is so little difference between sinners and saints is because the great majority of believers that think they are born again are not!

You can stand up here and confess your belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, that he was buried and rose again. You can even go forward and confess Jesus before men, be baptized, but if your heart isn’t changed, and that change starts to show in the way you live and obey the WORD of GOD, you are still in your sins, you are still on your way to Hell.

John says “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3).

In Short, How We Live Matters. How We As A Church Lives Matters.

By  the way, we do have a behavior clause in our Church Constitution.. It is called our “Church Covenant”

WHAT IS A ‘CHURCH COVENANT’?

What is Church CovenantBrethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Galatians 3:15

Purpose of CovenantThe Purpose of a Church Covenant is Five-Fold

  1. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A PROMISE - a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
  2. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SUMMARY OF HOW WE AGREE TO LIVE.  While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live.  It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
  3. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
  4. A CHURCH COVENANT IS AN ETHICAL STATEMENT.  Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii).   One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.”  A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives.  Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
  5. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A BIBLICAL STANDARD. A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.  As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and we challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.

WHERE DO COVENANTS COME FROM?

Now that we know what church covenants are, where do they come from?  Well, not from the Bible – not, at least, in the sense of being able to turn to the Book of Covenants chapter 3.  But we do see examples of covenants both in the Old and the New Testaments – covenants between God and man, and between man and man.  Moses gives a covenant from God to the people of Israel.  Ezra and Nehemiah do so as well.   And in the NT we find that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is the new covenant in Christ’s blood”.   Primarily, church covenants come from the understanding that churches are to be composed of people who are truly born again.  This is what we call regenerate church membership.

In the 16th century, men and women of deep conviction broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to form congregations who understood the importance of the doctrine known as justification by faith alone in Christ alone.  No longer did baptism or membership bring supposed new life.  Joining and being part of a church was no longer a civic duty or just part of growing up.  It was becoming what it was always intended to be – a response of faith to the truth of the gospel.  And in this response of faith we gain the most amazing callings: children of the living God, ambassadors of Christ, a royal priesthood; we become the bearers of God’s name in the world.  Listen to God’s word on this issue.  “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezek 36:23).  We are called to be living witnesses of God’s holiness!

How Important is Keeping Our Church Covenant?

church-covenantA friend of mine was called to pastor a Baptist church in a small town south of Oklahoma City in 1989. Not long after he was there an acquaintance in the community pulled him aside at a restaurant and asked him if he knew. He said “knew what”. His acquaintance said “Did you know the chairman of the deacons is a homosexual?” He confessed his surprise and then went to the deacon, who confirmed what evidently everyone in town knew. When he then brought it before the deacons, they said they knew, but didn’t see the problem.  He then approached the entire church, and they were OK with it. So, he resigned.

In the last church I pastored, we had developed a nice worship team lead by a couple of talented gals. One day I went and visited with a family that had been there the Sunday before. They enjoyed the church, but they wanted to know why one of these gals was leading the music. The reason was that he confessed going into the local bar (Wally’s) and this gal was a bartender there. He just thought it strange that she could be a bartender and lead church music on Sunday.

I told him that I would check into it. Sure enough, it was the truth. I talked with her and pointed out our church covenant, and said that she would have to chose what she wanted to do, serve liquor or serve on the praise team. She said she considered the bar her mission field, really enjoyed what she was doing, and so she resigned from leading music. Of course her friends resigned as well. They eventually left the church. Did it cause some pain? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. O, by the way, this same gal had wanted to meet with me to see if I thot it was ok to divorce her husband, simply because he didn’t communicate with her very well.

She no longer works at the bar, and we are still friends, and she is still married. By the way, Dennis Queen a few years later was able to lead that deacon to the Lord. He just this year preached his funeral.

All across the country church denominational leaders are being attacked by people pushing to allow homosexual pastors. Several denominations have split because they decided to allow such as pastors.

Churches must make a choice as to how they will believe and act towards each other and the world. Any church can act like a church, can talk like a church, but in their heart, there is no Power of God to live godly lives in the dark, in the areas where people aren’t looking.

Jesus cares that we live Holy Lives, that we walk in the Power of the HOLY Spirit.

Christianity is about living a different kind of life, not just talking about different kinds of concepts.

The church is called to live and act differently.  In agreeing to a church covenant, one is agreeing to be held accountable by a body of believers.  Likewise, one is agreeing to hold a body of believers accountable.  To hold accountable simply means “to take responsibility for.”

A CHURCH COVENANT, VOID OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY, IS A WORTHLESS DOCUMENT.

Scripture highlights our need for accountability.

  • Read Matt 18:15-17 – We do not have a license to sin.  More than that, if we do keep on sinning, we risk proving that we have not been given new life from God.  Matthew 18 gives us instruction about what to do with a persistently unrepentant sinner.
  • Read 1Cor 5 – If the Corinthian congregation allowed this man to remain a member of the church, he (and others) may get the wrong impression that his sexual immorality is consistent with what it means to be a Christian.  Weaker members of the body will be confused and hurt as well.  And the church will risk losing her reputation in the local community.

There will always be sin in the church because we all sin.  What we are talking about is how to deal with people whose lives are characterized by sin, people who agree with their sin against God and His Word, and who try to rationalize their sin instead of pleading before God for forgiveness.  The purpose of such accountability is not to judge people worthy of hell-fire – that’s never been the church’s role.  It’s to protect them from deceiving themselves about their own spiritual state, to protect the corporate witness of the church from being smeared by the non-Christian behavior of professing believers, and to restore the disobedient person to right relationship with God and warm fellowship with the church.

What then should we expect out of a church covenant?  Expect it to be Biblical – based 100% upon Scripture.  Expect it to be focused on the whole body of believers – it should be corporate not private.  And expect it to be clear and easy to understand by all who desire to join this fellowship.

The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live.Joshua renews covenant

Why is this important? Just as Joshua led his people to affirm their following God’s Word, so I believe church’s should regularly affirm their allegiance to their Church Covenant. I believe a church should periodically have a Covenant Service. I believe it should be read at every communion service. The Covenant should be the binding and empowering force of every church.

Whenever people want to join our church, they should be willing to affirm our Covenant.

By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.

  • First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
  • Second our church covenant should be a comfort.

1. Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard. It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of other believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part.  This is serious responsibility.  Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.”  This challenge is a serious thing.

2. This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians.  Our church covenant is also a comfort. A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully.  The comfort is that by joining a church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down.  You have Christians who are committed, before God, to walk with you, pray with you, serve you.  You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort you to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear.  This is our ideal, our vision, what we strive for.

“A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Here is the “Champions Covenant” for our church. The numbers correspond to verses listed at the end:

The Champion’s Covenant

Introductionchampionscovenant_

B elieving that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ” and believing further that the local church is the extension of the Body of Christ and can only be joined by those already “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

  • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, sought and received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one-and-only Savior and Lord.
  • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Promises

Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

  • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ1,5; and for His sake love2, accept3, and forgive4 each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
  • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will6; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling7; and to work to prevent division in the body8.
  • love_one_another_To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another 9, bearing one another’s burdens10, encouraging one another11, exhorting one another12, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, , teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another,  being kind and tenderhearted to one another.13
  • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen, and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.14-21
  • To practice Biblical stewardship22 of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
  • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct24,25, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
  • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible26, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
  • To flee sexual immorality27; to shun pornography28; to reserve sexual activity solely for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage30;  to not initiate a divorce, unless the spouse decisively and physically deserts the relationship, commits repeated, unrepentant adultery, is guilty of protracted, unrepentant life-endangerment, or is guilty of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child or minor.31
  • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
  • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
  • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity32, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society33.
  • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth34and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Protection:

We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary, in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church35. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.36

If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

The Blessing

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.37

PPBC-Champions Covenant

1brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

2and this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 john 3:23

3 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

4and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

5if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:7-10

6hard waybut now hath god set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but god hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:18-27

7neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10

8that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

9but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy ghost, Jude 1:20

10bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

11not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

12but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

13And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

14 for we are the circumcision, which worship god in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

15 and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

16study to shew thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 timothy 2:15 till I come; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

17not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

18I speak as to wise men; judge ye what i say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

19now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, i would not have you ignorant. 1 Corinthians 12:1

20go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

21for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10 But  grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of  eternity. Amen. 2 Pet 3:18

22moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2 as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god’s varied grace: 1 peter 4:10 Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are god’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17

23then came peter to him, and said, lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Matthew 18:21

24when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 peter 3:2 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:8 let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

25for this is the will of god, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not god: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For god hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but god, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

26not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 1 timothy 3:3 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 1 timothy 3:8 (no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 timothy 5:23 older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, Titus 2:3 and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; Ephesians 5:18 for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of god; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7 who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 or do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit within you, whom you have from god? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19

27flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

28for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. Matthew 15:19-20

Focus on the Family studies that have found that 43% of families say pornography is a problem in their home. And while she acknowledges that the spot has some fun at the porn-consumer’s expense (the last joke in the ad is about the porn-buyer’s mom finding out what he’s purchasing), she says that “many of these people’s experiences with pornography is not funny. Some of their families have been devastated by it.”

29likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9

30now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

31and Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore god has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from god, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:6-16 then said he unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:1-2 husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

32in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

33and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

34so then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of god. Romans 8:12-14 but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 if we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Galatians 5:25

35obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 giving thanks always and for everything to god the father in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16

“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then peter came up and said to him, “lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:15-22

36For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

37The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14

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Stone of WitnessWe have traveled back in time through the eyes of Joshua. It is now time for him to pass on to his eternal reward. Over the last four months we have seen that of ultimate importance to God is the inheritance He has promised His Son. The journey of the Hebrew children is for our example to learn all about claiming this inheritance arm in arm with our elder brother. For when you come to Christ as your Savior, not only are you made an heir of all that He has, you are made a joint-heir. He can not enjoy the inheritance without us.

So we must join in the Battle for the inheritance for our King!

This battle is not a physical battle, one requiring brute strength and weaponry, but it is a spiritual battle, one requiring the Presence and Power of the Spirit of God.

Joshua is the very picture of the man of God unite, guided, filled and controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Every time Joshua followed His leading, there was victory. Every time he relied on his own strength, their was defeat. Joshua is the Christians Guidebook to Victory in the Christian Walk.

This will be the last message in our series from the book of Joshua, but the lessons here build and expound upon the lessons of the entire book.

God values one character quality above all others. He saw this quality in Abraham and that is why He called him even though he was an idolater living in a wicked town and wicked country.

  • For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. Genesis 18:19

Can anyone guess what that quality is? FAITHFULNESS

  • Adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, cause, or idea; loyal.
  • Worthy of trust or belief;
  • reliable.
  • Synonyms: faithful, loyal, true, constant, fast, steadfast, staunch
    These adjectives mean adhering firmly and devotedly to someone or something that elicits or demands one’s fidelity. Faithful and loyal both suggest undeviating attachment

Faithful GodFaithful God

Joshua 21:43-45 :And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

  • Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; Deuteronomy 7:9
  • And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, Nehemiah 1:5

Writer and speaker Lewis Smedes says: Yes, somewhere people still make and keep promises. They choose not to quit when the going gets rough because they promised once to see it through. They stick to lost causes. They hold on to a love grown cold. They stay with people who have become pains in the neck. They still dare to make promises and care enough to keep the promises they make. I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God. What a marvelous thing a promise is! When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay. When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and controls at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.When a person makes a promise, she stakes a claim on her personal freedom and power.
When you make a promise, you take a hand in creating your own future. Citation: Lewis Smedes, “The Power of Promises,” A Chorus of Witnesses, edited by Long and Plantinga (Eerdmans, 1994)—Perfect Illustrations

Application: You must decide within your own heart if God is truly faithful to His Word. Can you trust your life to God?

A man was hiking along a narrow mountain trail when he stumbled and started over the side of a cliff. Just before he hurtled over the side he reached out and grabbed a scrubby little bush which managed to stop his fall. He knew he could not hold on for very long, plus the bush looked as if it was about to tear from its roots. In terror he called out: “Is anyone up there” All of a sudden he heard a deep booming voice; YES! Can you help me he cried out. YES, But only if you believe! He said I believe I believe. The deep booming voice said “LET GO”. The man thought to himself and then cried out “Is there anyone else up there?

  • 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, Hebrews 6:1

Faithful Leadership Faithful LEADERSHIP

We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or tire…give us the tools and we will finish the job.” Winston Churchill.  We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt. While Joshua certainly made his mistakes along the way, he was faithful to finish the job he had been given. He led those stubborn selfish Jews to conquer a country wherein dwelled 7 mighty people groups. He did it with a people who were not warriors by training, and he did it against overwhelming numbers and weaponry. Plus he did it to trained warriors who had every advantage of place and position.

Joshua 22:1-6 : At that time Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you and have obeyed my voice in all that I have commanded you. You have not forsaken your brothers these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of the Lord your God. And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers, as he promised them. Therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.

One promise he had made to the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh was that if they fought with their brothers, then they could have the choice plains on the other side of the Jordan River. They had kept their word for over seven years, and now it was time to return to their families and land. They had fought with their brothers.

Application: We have the Holy Spirit as our faithful leader and companion.

Faithful FamiliesFaithful Families

Joshua 22:10-34 :

  • Behold, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built the altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel.” And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.

  • Therefore we said, Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the Lord.”’ And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, ‘Behold, the copy of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.’ Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away this day from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!”

  • Today we know that the Lord is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the Lord. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the Lord.”

  • The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar ‘ED’ Witness, “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”

Families fight. Often that fighting brings something we call walls of separation. Communication is the most important thing we can do as a family. Even when someone is acting unruly, even crazy.

Some of you may have heard the name Helen Keller ( the blind lady who did something ), perhaps you’ve seen the movie “The Miracle Worker” based on her life. There was even a remake, though I think the original black & white captured the true feel of the time which she lived. I believe Helen’s story wasn’t even the “real” miracle, and only once was it alluded to in the movie. Her teacher was asked how she was so sure that the intense, sometimes harsh, unrelenting treatment towards Helen could possibly help. To which Miss Sullivan quickly replied, “Because I’ve been there.”
And that is the true miracle. You see, many years before, this young girl stricken with a rare illness was abandoned along with her younger brother and sent to what was then an insane asylum. The young girl known as “Little Annie” was locked in the basement dungeon. The doctors felt she was hopelessly insane and there was nothing they could do for her.
An old nurse started taking her lunch into the dungeon and eating outside Annie’s cage. She felt perhaps she could communicate some love and hope to the little girl, but Annie gave no indication that she was even aware of her presence.
One day the elderly nurse left some brownies outside the cage and upon returning the next day saw they were gone. From that day on the nurse would bring brownies and soon the doctors began to notice a change in Little Annie. She was eventually moved upstairs and over time this “hopeless girl” was told she could leave the institution. That little girl was Anne Sullivan.
She did not leave right away, instead she decided to stay and help others until she was asked to help another little girl named Helen. Yes…Helen Keller influenced millions of people all over the world, she graduated college, learned to read and write, to speak and was even an entertainer on stage. One of my favorite quotes from Helen is: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Communication is the way we have vision!

Faithfulness requires ObedienceFaithfulness Requires Obedience

Joshua 23:5-10 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; …But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. …One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.

Application: God says do not stray too far to the left or the right. Stay on His path.

A few centuries before Christ a man named Alexander conquered almost all of the known world using military strength, cleverness and a bit of diplomacy. The story is told that Alexander and a small company of soldiers approached a strongly fortified walled city. Alexander, standing outside the walls, raised his voice and demanded to see the king. When the king arrived, Alexander insisted that the king surrender the city and its inhabitants to Alexander and his little band of fighting men.

The king laughed, “Why should I surrender to you? You can’t do us any harm!” But Alexander offered to give the king a demonstration. He ordered his men to line up single file and start marching. He marched them straight toward a sheer cliff.

The townspeople gathered on the wall and watched in shocked silence as, one by one, Alexander’s soldiers marched without hesitation right off the cliff to their deaths! After ten soldiers died, Alexander ordered the rest of the men to return to his side. The townspeople and the king immediately surrendered to Alexander the Great. They realized that if a few men were actually willing to commit suicide at the command of this dynamic leader, then nothing could stop his eventual victory.

Are you willing to be as obedient to the ruler of the universe, Jesus Christ, as those soldiers were to Alexander? Are you as dedicated and committed? Think how much power Christ could have in our community with just a portion of such commitment.

Faithfulness Requires No CompromiseFaithfulness REQUIRES NO COMPROMISE

Joshua 23:11-16 : 11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. 12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: 13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. 15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

Faithfulness Total CommitmentFaithfulness Requires Total Commitment

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:14-15

Faithfulness Requires DependenceFaithfulness Requires Total DEPENDENCE

Joshua 24:16-28

  • And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. ….
  • And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.

Devotion (Josh. 24:19-28). When the former generation had met the Lord at Mount Sinai, they had said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Ex. 19:8, nkjv). But a few weeks later, they were worshiping a golden calf! Joshua knew that it was easy for the people to promise obedience to the Lord, but it was quite something else for them to actually do it. His stern words were meant to curb their overconfidence and make them look honestly into their own hearts (Josh. 24:19).
Israel was “married” to Jehovah, and He would not tolerate any rivals in their hearts. He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5) and a holy God, and He could never permit them to be divided in their loyalty. Just as a husband and wife are faithful to their marriage vows and jealously guard their mate’s affection, so Israel and the Lord had to be faithful to each other.—Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament

Faithfulness requires a Life Dependent upon God’s Power and God’s Word.There is no room for self-confidence. There will always be something you lack.

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. Luke 18:18-28

Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Luke 18:28-30

Victory & Inheritance follows this same principle that Jesus said involves Eternal Life.

We must realize that we all lack one thing. There is always one area in our life that we cannot overcome. There was one area of Gaza that the Israelites could not overcome. There was one area in this rich young rulers life that he was not able to let go of.

The lesson to learn is not how many things have you overcome, but is there one particular thing you can not overcome. God allows this one area to convince you of your inability.

Joshua could see through their words. Jesus could see through Peter’s words. If you boldly claim to be such and such, or do such and such, there is the temptation that byou will rely on your own strength. There must be the constant awareness that there is always one thing we lack.

Salvation is impossible with man. Eternal life is impossible. Victorious Living is impossible

God echoes Joshua’s verdict-You are Unable

We weep over our failure, over a habit we cannot break, but God wants you to praise Him for your inability! God wants you to realize your inabilities. How many times will you fail 3, 30, 300 before you give up and say God, this has to be by you! We must yield our confidence to Him and let go!

A young woman expresses it this way. When Satan comes knocking with a temptation, I used to push hard against the door and say no don’t come in, but before long he would get in. Now, when Satan knocks, I simply say Jesus, would you go answer the door? As soon as the devil sees Jesus, he says, sorry, I must have knocked at the wrong door.

You must realize your inabilities, and let go of any attempts to do things in your own way, and strength.

Have you ever argued with a friend over who was going to pay for something. It could be a meal, a gift, anything.

I’ve even seen some people throw the money at someone because they refused to take it. Imagine you insist on paying for something but your friend refuses. You argue back and forth, but he insists. Well, you get ready to go, so you throw the money on the table and walk away. But you keep looking to see if he picks it up. Then you wonder if he just walks away and leaves it there. Maybe someone else gets it.

But what would happen if you simply left the money there and forgot about it. You simply didn’t care. Your friend would probably pick it up.

This is the way God is about our problems. As long as we care about something, about trying to solve it ourselves, or take care of it ourselves, God will let us. He won’t pick the problem up. But if we really let go and say, God, I don’t care what happens. Its yours. God will certainly take over!

Let Go and let God take over!

stone-of-witnessAnd Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. Joshua 24:27

The Holy Spirit is our witness. He knows when you deny your God.He knows when you walk in your own strength.

God is Faithful to those who enter into the Covenant of Blood with His Son Jesus Christ. Will you be faithful to Him in return. Such faithfulness requires Obedience, No Compromise, Total Commitment, and Total Dependence. What doe the Stone say about your Faithfulness?


City of RefugeFrom the early beginning of the world God made provision for those who shed innocent blood.

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” Genesis 9:6

You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” Numbers 35:33-34

The nearest relative of the murdered man was usually the one who executed judgment. But even then God made provision for overreaction. So to prevent undue haste in reaction to murder, God made provision for the accused person to flee to the Tabernacle and lay hold of the altar. No one could be taken from the altar without an examination, and if it was found that the murderer had planned to kill the man, then he was taken from the altar and slain; otherwise his life was spared. (Ex. 21:13,14)

After the children of Israel entered the promised land, six cities were set apart as cities of refuge. These were conveniently located, three on each side of the river Jordan. (Joshua 20:2,7,8) The cities were on elevated ground, and could be seen at a distance.

God Establishes RefugeGod set rules for these cities of refuge. Joshua 20:3-6 & Numbers 35

  1. Refuge was for one who had killed accidentally or unintentionally. If the trial showed him to have killed purposely, he was a murderer and must be put to death (Numbers 35:15-21).

  2. The roads leading to these cities were always to be kept in good repair, that the one fleeing before the avenger of blood might not be hindered in his flight. (Deut. 19:3)

  3. Coming to the gate of the city, he would tell his case to the elders. Gates of those cities were places of city government. The elders would hear the fugitive’s story and give him a place of safety in the city.

  4. The avenger of blood—the relative of the slain one who inherited his property and had the right to kill his murderer—could not touch the fugitive while in the city of refuge.

  5. The accused would be brought to trial before the congregation—a court made up of representatives of the people.

  6. God Establishes Refuge2If judged a willful murderer, he would be slain by the avenger of blood.

  7. If judged innocent of intent to kill, he was given safe asylum in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest.

  8. If he was found out of the city, the avenger of blood was allowed to kill him (Numbers 35:26-28).

  9. At the death of the high priest, the man was to return to his home, the case closed.

  10. These rules applied to all, Israelite and stranger alike.

God establishes Refuge3The cities of refuge served as a protection for only those who had slain a person without malice or forethought. The cities of refuge were cities belonging to the Levites, thus those confined within were under the best influence. They were associated with the religious teachers of Israel, and had every opportunity to reform their lives and establish righteous characters.

The Cities of Refuge Reveals God’s PURPOSE

Nehemiah 9:17 “They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.”

God desires that we live according to His desire His Word, and not by man’s ideas of what is right and wrong. God delights in JUSTICE (mishpat) and the requires things set in order, made right.

Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”

Cities of Refuge RevealThe Cities of Refuge Reveal God’s POWER

But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. Exodus 21:13-14 King James: “but God deliver him into his hand”

Life is indeed precious to Almighty God. We can cry “why did God let this happen” when a loved one is accidentally killed, for that is exactly what happened. God delivered them into his hand.

  • When someone falls asleep at the wheel, or has a heart attack at the wheel and their car or truck swerves into the oncoming lane, killing one or more persons, God delievered those people into their hand.
  • When a stray bullet strikes a Mom on her way home from Starlight, God delivered her into the bullets hand.
  • We will never realize how powerful and awesome God truly is while clothed in mortal flesh. But God says in His word, there are no accidental deaths. God is at work 24/7.

My times are in Your hand” Psalms 31:15
“Unto God the Lord belong the issues from death” Ps. 68:20
“The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. 1 Samuel 2:6

The gates of the grave open unto none except at the command of the Most High, and when He gives the word none can withstand it.

The Cities of Refuge Reveal God’s Priority

City_of_RefugeBy limiting the time of his banishment by the high priest’s death, honor was put upon the priesthood—as it had been in selecting those cities, for they all belonged to the Levites. “The high priest was to be looked upon as so great a blessing to his country, that when he died their sorrow upon that occasion should swallow up all other resentments” (Matthew Henry).

Judging of these matters was the responsibility of the Levites, God’s Servants, not some man made government.

The instruction in regard to the cities of refuge was but a part of the great system of Levitical laws and ceremonies which taught the simple truths of the gospel of Christ. Tyndale says that “while there is a ‘starlight of Christ’ in all the Levitical ceremonies, there is in some so truly the ‘light of the broad day,’ that he can not but believe that God had showed Moses the secrets of Christ and the very manner of His death beforehand.” Dr. Adam Clarke says the whole gospel could be preached from the particulars given of the cities of refuge.

  • In Philippians 3:9, where the apostle, after announcing and then renouncing all his natural advantages as a Hebrew, counting them but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, expresses the desire that he might be “found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
  • Hebrews refers to God’s Refuge in Chapter 6 verse 18: speaking of those who have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18), i.e. in the Gospel: reminding us of the prayer of David, “Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto Thee to hide me” (Ps. 143:9)

Comparison of the Cities of Refuge with Jesus Christ:

Refuge-type-of-Christ

The Very Names of the Cities of Refuge Picture Jesus Christ.

  • Kadesh signifies “holy,” and Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God, is made unto the believer sanctification as well as righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30)—how deeply suggestive that this is the first mentioned, that in the Redeemer we have a sanctuary of holiness.
  • Shechem means “shoulder,” which is ‘the place of strength (Isa. 9:7) and of safety (Luke 15:5)—under the government of Christ the believer finds security.
  • Hebron means “fellowship,” and through Christ His people are brought into communion with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.
  • Bezer means “a fortified place” and “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble” (Nah. 1:7); therefore “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust” (Ps. 91:2).
  • Ramoth means “height” or “exaltation”: in Christ we are elevated above the world, made to sit in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).
  • Golan means “exultation” or “joy,” and “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:11).

Refuge - Gods Purpose for ChurchThe Cities of Refuge Reveal God’s Purpose for the Church

1. Appointed

Just as God appointed Christ to be the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), so did God appoint the church to be Christ’s body here on earth:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, Colossians 1:24.

And through the church the gospel is preached, through the church God’s power and wisdom is revealed to rulers and authorities in heavenly places. “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord”, Ephesians 3:8-11

2. Shelter

Cities of RefugeThe one who kills someone was to immediately seek shelter in the city of refuge.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19

God provides a shelter from the avenger in the church. Likewise, the church is to be a shelter from the world, and the corruption that is in it.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8


“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

3. Visible

church is visible light of GodThe cities were all atop a hill, visible for miles.

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

“God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

4. Clear Purpose

city of refugeThe road to the city was plainly marked out.

  • “Thou shalt prepare thee a way . . . that every slayer may flee thither (Deut. 19:3). Jewish writers say it was a law in Israel that one day in every year there were persons sent to repair the roads leading to them, to remove all stumbling-stones which might by time have fallen in the way, and to see also that the signposts which were set up at every corner leading to the city were carefully preserved, and the name Miklac (that is, refuge) legible upon them.

Jesus commands to His church were very simple:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

5. Humility

Only those who did not intentionally murder were given refuge.

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:36-38

The church is not a place for those who continue in sin. The cross of Christ is the Cornerstone of the church and we must continually die daily to what we want and live for what Christ desires. There is no place for pride, flesh or continual sin against Christ in His body.

6. Abide

cities of refuge 3The one seeking refuge had to depend upon the city of refuge for his safety. He HAD to stay within the confines of the city walls.

The cities were all the home of the Levite Priests. They were to abide in their care. The church is the body of Christ. We must depend upon the church for guidance, for strength. It is to be a place of healing and edification.

7. Non-Exclusive

Church is a refuge for allThe City of Refuge was open to all, even gentiles that recognized its authority. The church is to have a witness so that anyone hurting or seeking a new life would find refuge in the authority and power of Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION

The Jews were to possess their promised land, representing the blessed and abundant life with God. They were to rid the land of the world, the ungodly influences that would try to steal their affections from God. The Cities of Refuge meant that people should seek refuge within their own people and not have to run to the world.

Worldliness a Heart Matter

Christ reveals that the heart of any matter is a matter of our heart.

The thing which is to distinguish the church is the presence of Jesus Christ and thus the absence of the world and all worldly influence.

Now most of us think of worldly influence as being something we can see: tattoos, piercings, spiked hair, drugs, bad language, stealing, disrespect, hatred, fleshly sins. But Jesus Christ reveals that worldliness is an attitude: Let’s look at Mt 5:21-26

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:21-25

Jesus says that you don’t have to literally kill someone to be a murderer. All you have to do is dishonor them in your heart by insulting them or by belittling them! Your RIGHT heart attitude toward your brothers and sisters is so essential that God doesn’t even want your offering until you go and clear up your attitude toward your brother.

What is WorldlinessWhat is Worldliness?

This world is under the temporary control of Satan. Jesus secured all authority over Satan by defeating him. He has given that authority to the church. The Kingdom of Jesus is not of this world, it is not in food and drink, it is invisible, because it is in our heart, our soul.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:18

Following Christ does not mean you follow a set of rules, but you abide in the Savior. It requires a dependant, living relationship.

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. John 17:16

Likewise, to follow Satan does not mean following a set of rules, but just the opposite, you do what you want. It too is the reflection of your heart attitude.

James 4:1-12

  • You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

Following Satan means you follow your own way, you are worldly, you are an enemy of God. God required that the Jews destroy the Canaanite inhabitants, because if left there, they would influence their hearts and cause them to leave God.

From James we see the heart condition of worldly people.

  1. Quarrel
  2. Lack self-control
  3. Covetousness
  4. Proud
  5. Selfish
  6. Unfaithful Heart
  7. Friendly to the World
  8. Double-minded
  9. Speak evil of others
  10. Judge their brothers

Worldliness is revealed THROUGH our speech.

The way we talk about others reveals whether our heart is worldly or Godly.Worldliness revealed by what we say

The solution from James is to humble yourself and return to God, to realize Satan’s influence on your life and flee him, cleanse your hands, purify your heart, wait on God to lift you up rather than trying to exalt yourself. Realize how your heart attitude has offended God, realize that you must mourn and weep because you realize the severity of your sin.

So the thing which is to distinguish the church is the presence of Jesus Christ and thus the absence of the world and all worldly influence.

HOW DO WE BECOME WORLDLY?

How do we become worldlyRomans 1 provides a glimpse into a worldly heart. I believe that we are born with an innate awareness of God. A child has no trouble understanding that there is a God who made them, who loves them, who watches them. Somewhere down the line we get too smart, and self reliant.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:21-22

When confronted with God and what he expects, we turn our back.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28

How does a Christian become worldly? – You act like the world! Look at how worldly people become more worldly…

  1. Dishonorable-you do not practice God’s Honor principles that we went through at the beginning of the year.
  2. Refuse to acknowledge God as God over a situation in your life. You leave God out, either because you are bitter over what’s going on, or because you don’t want to follow the commands of Christ.
  3. Lean on your own understanding-debased mind, reprobate mind- A worldly persons mind is turned upside down. The things that are wrong and shameful are ok. You justify what you do as being practical, logical.
  4. Your life begins to exhibit unrighteousness:

Unrighteous Behavior: evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.Not only that, but Christians who are becoming worldly will condone such practices in other Christians.They condone such practices in other Christians. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

A Worldly Christian is one whose heart and mind is not in obedience to God’s Word by intent. You know what Christ says but you chose to ignore it or not do it. Furthermore, a worldly Christian is intentional in their practices.

How to become GodlyThe Choice is to have a Godly Walk or a Worldly Walk

Ephesians 4:1-3

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Who Lives in You! Your Godly walk will demonstrate the following attitudes:

  1. Humble
  2. Gentle
  3. Patient
  4. Bearing Love [Bearing – anecho Spoken of persons, to bear with, have patience with in regard to the errors or weaknesses of anyone —CWSD]
  5. Eager for Unity in the Spirit

Do Not Walk as the Worldly Walk! Eph 4:14-32 Worldly Walk is like this:

  1. Darkened in their understanding
  2. Hardhearted Alienation
  3. Callous
  4. Given to sensuality
  5. Deceitful desires corrupt them.

Key is to PUT ON THE NEW MAN!

put on the new man in christ1How do you know you have put on the new man? Not by the things you do, but by your speech, the things you say about others is what reveals your heart!

  • Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Ephesians 4:15
  • Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32

Now why does the way you talk about others reveal whether you are worldly or not? Look at Matthew 12:34-37

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37

search me and know my heartThe Way you speak about others reveals the condition of your heart! Colossians 3:8

  • But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:8-14
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

First Worldly ChurchThe First Worldly Church

Look at what Paul thought of the First Worldly Church at Corinth: 2 Cor. 12:20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

hostility – strife, self ambition is the gr eritheía; gen. eritheías, fem. noun from eritheúō (n.f.), to work for hire, usually in the mid. voice, used in a bad sense of those who seek only their own. Contention, strife, rivalry. It represents a motive of self-interest “seeking to win followers,” “factions,”, —Complete Word Study Dictionary, The

Whisperer <G5588>: ψιθυριστής, psithyristēs ψιθυρισμός, psithyrismos; “a whispering,” is used of “secret slander” in 2 Cor. 12:20 . For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 2 Corinthians 12:20

Backbiter is katalalos,. synonomous with whisperer. The only distinction is that one is in secret, the other is open. But bottom line is they are evil speaking of another.

  • Backbite stabs em in the backPaul is fearful that when he gets to Corinth he will find the church there with contentions, backbitings, whisperings.
  • We see the same two words mentioned back in Romans 1:30. NKJV: evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God,
  • Katalalia is also used in 1 Peter 2:1-3. The King James translated “evil-speaking” while most others use “slander” “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 1 Peter 2:1-3

Synonymous with slander or evil speaking is the greek word blasphemia, which we get blasphemy from.

blasphemous or a blasphemer. Blasphemy, verbal abuse against someone which denotes the very worst type of slander mentioned in Matt. 15:19 with false witnesses; wounding someone’s reputation by evil reports, evil speaking. See Mark 7:22; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; 1 Tim. 6:4 [cf. 2 Pet. 2:11]; Jude 1:9 (blásphēmos , a blasphemer); —Complete Word Study Dictionary, The

Why would slander and evil speaking be a form of blasphemy?

When you slander someone, when you speak evil of someone, you are committing blasphemy against a creation of God.

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:18-19

Such shedding of blood not only defiles the conscience of the murderer, who is thereby proved not to have eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15), but also pollutes the land in which the crime was committed, being abominable to God and to all good men.

  • Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15
  • If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21
  • Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:1-5

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. Psalms 15:1-5

What prevents the the church from being a Place of Refuge?

When you Grieve the Spirit of God!

grieve the holy spirit by our speechAnd do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-32

SO What DO I DO?

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:5-12

James tells us how to get rid of worldly attitudes and worldly ways:

  1. Submit to God – God’s ways must be supreme

  2. Resist the devil – this is a constant spiritual warfare

  3. Cleanse your hands – confess sin and do some spiritual scrubing.

  4. Purify your hearts – Give all your affections, needs, desires to God. Love Him with ALL your heart. Confess those secrete desires and inadequacies that prompt your worldliness.

  5. Be wretched and mourn and weep – take time to discover how your sin has hurt God. Take time to cry for your worldliness. Take time to hold on to the altar and weep for your sin.

  6. Humble yourself before the Lord – Realize your nothingness before Him. Realize that there is no room for pride in your life. Lay everything before Him.

  7. Wait for Him to lift you up.

  8. In the mean time, stay on constant guard against judging and speaking evil of others.

Church is to be a RefugeIf you want our church to be a place of Refuge for the fallen, for the hurting, for the weak, for the oppressed, then we must take the worldliness and cast it off. We must speak from hearts of love, hearts that are being obedient to Jesus Commands.

We must put on the new self in Jesus Christ. We must root out worldly hearts and attitudes from the Church and put on Jesus Christ, our Rock, our Refuge!

There are fallen who need a place of refuge. Jesus has given three commands that address our relationships with those that offend or hurt us:

Be Reconciled Matthew 5:24–25 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Judge Not Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Go To Offenders Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Walk Talk Worthy of your callingIf we practice these commands in the spirit of forgiveness we will live by Ephesians 4:32  “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”


A man asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, “It’s just like a single second of your time, my child.” So the man asked, “And what about a million dollars?” The Lord replied, “To me, it’s just like a single penny.” So the man gathered himself up and said, “Well, Lord, could I have one of your pennies?” And God said, “Certainly, my child, just a second.”

Joshua How Long a SLackerWe Americans are known for being impatient. From the very first time your child says “How Long Before We Get there?” – To your husband asking “how long will your mother be staying” we are always occupied with time and how long something takes. By the way if your mother in law is Jewish, you can ask her: kama z’man tish’hu kan? כַּמָּה זְמַן תִּשְׁהוּ כָּאן? (How long will you be staying?)

Everything about America is hurry hurry hurry. We have more time saving gadgets, we even have the internet on our phones so we can be instantly in contact with each other. Still everyone always seems tobe in a hurry, and everyone complains of not having enough time.

However, there is a counter-culture at work in America. It’s called the Slacker Movement. FYI: Slacker: One who shirks work or responsibility.Slacker Movement

The thinking goes that slacking allows more of your creative energy to flow out. You take more time to enjoy life, have fun. You take the easy way out in anything you do. There was even a movie that presented this philosophy. The real you comes out, and you spontaneously express yourself in whatever you see and do and feel. You are more relaxed, you feel great so you make the world a better place to be.

When a slacker lies happily on his couch thinking about what will make him and the rest of the world successful and happy, the world is immediately a happier place. His happiness radiates out like ripples in a pond, creating a happier, successful world. Supposedly, there is actually “Good Slacking”:

Slacking has evolved into an approach towards society, projects, and perhaps even life for those fully absorbed into the slacker movement. Slacking is now about harnessing the simple approach to complex situations. Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” the modern slacker presented with a complex situation will oftentimes examine what is already available,  assemble the provided basic components, and arrive at a solution – usually delivering a viable answer with increased efficiency, minimal fuss, less aggravation, and sometimes even decreased cost.

But Most Slacking is Just Laziness

Join Slacker MovementAnyone anxious to join the Slacker Movement? Lots of Cool Parties and Conventions where all you do is drink. Comes with a really cool T Shirt. You say no thanks? Are you Sure? What if we find out there is a bit of slacker in all of us? As we continue our journey with Joshua, we find that the book is getting boring. In fact, when you start reading in Chapter 15, you start skipping ahead, and you say “How Long” does this go on? What is happening is the division of Canaan to the Hebrew Families.Joshua Down to Business

Chapter 15 details the Tribe of Judah

Joshua 15:1 (KJV) This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.

Joshua 15:13-14 (KJV) And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

Chapter 16 details Joseph’s Children, esp Ephraim

Joshua 16:1 (KJV) And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel,

Chapter 17 details the Tribe of Manasseh

Joshua 17:1 (KJV) There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

Chapter 18 details the remaining tribes

Joshua 18:1 (KJV) And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

There the allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north, south, east, and west, to the different tribes. But “the tabernacle of the congregation was also set up there,” and its removal therefore must have been made or sanctioned by divine intimation (De 12:11). It remained in Shiloh for more than three hundred years (1Sa 4:1-11).—JFB

Joshua 18_3 He is PerturbedAll of a Sudden We find Joshua sounding pretty PERTURBED!

Joshua 18:2-3 (KJV) And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

Why Did Joshua Talk to them this way?

Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Ephraiam, and Judah had made their requests. They had been given their land by choice or by lot. But the remaining seven tribes-Benjamin, Zebulin, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Simeon, and Dan–were being a little too slow.

The language of Joshua is quite harsh and implies that they are openly dishonoring God’s commands.

Joshua is clearly perturbed that they seem to have settled down near Shiloh and are making no overt attempt to continue the conflict and subdue their own land.

Sure there could be simple explanations for the delays, moving to Shiloh, caring for wounded, harvest, livestock, but Joshua being in tune with the Holy Spirit (as he represents the Believer filled with the Holy Spirit)

Joshua is a Picture of the Holy Spirit

Why Do I say Joshua is an example of a believer filled with the Spirit? Because at the beginning Joshua united himself with the Captain of the Hosts of God. He demonstrates that the battle for our inheritance is not by our strength or power, but by the power of God’s Spirit. Joshua is acting as the Holy Spirit does in our lives. He gets busy in the life of God’s Children, and He starts moving us along.

Now what probably happened is this:

Joshua got busy preparing to move and set up the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Everyone got busy, plus they had been on a frenetic pace for at seven years.

One day he heard about Caleb’s great victory over the three sons of Anak, and in the midst of rejoicing he looked out and everybody was just having a big ol cook out, relaxing and playing frisbee and volleyball. Then it hit him, these people are getting comfortable here. They are starting to IGNORE God.

But Joshua was too much alive to the duty laid on him by the Lord to let matters continue in that state; and accordingly, since a general conquest of the land had been made, he resolved to proceed immediately with the lot, believing that when each tribe should receive its inheritance, a new motive would arise to lead them to exert themselves in securing the full possession. God never wants us to get too content in this world. He always wants us focused on the battle, upon His Glory and Purpose.

The churches of America fell asleep in the 50’s and 60’s. Life was good. The WW was over, economic prosperity was going great, tithes were rolling in, big churches were being built, but the old devil was working overtime. All of a sudden, prayer and Bible reading were out, sex and drug education were in, and abortion was government funded. Our great Nation was set on a course that we are living in today. We got slack!

That is what Joshua was reacting too, a slackness in spirit in the people, a contentment with the status quo. But their inaction was in direct violation of God’s Goals and Instructions.

Why do we need to go to church? Why do we read our Bible? Because we are all slackers at heart! We usually don’t want to do anything that involves conflict, confrontation, obedience to the difficult commands of Christ.

But Jesus said: “Why do you call me Lord Lord, and do not the things that I say?

Being a Christian is a RELATIONSHIP and NOT a RELIGION!

It’s very much like a marriage relationship…

Relationship Not a ReligionI can tell my wife I love her. O honey I love you so much. You are the cutest little thing! Oh you just make me all tingly inside! But if I just lay around and don’t help with chires, just lay around and don’t go to work, or worse yet, just leave and don’t tell her where I’m going, stay out all night carousing… Does it make it ok if I come home at four in the morning and go: “Oh honey, I just missed you so much! I love you so much!”

NO. In fact, I would be lucky if my wife even tolerated that behavior for a week.

You can use the same analogy about your conduct at work, at school, with friends. Words and smiles and high fives only get you so far. Pretty soon you have to back up your words with actions!

That is our God! That is our Savior! He did not sacrifice His perfect Blood so you could say I love you so much, come into my heart, be my Savior, and then just go out and do whatever you want, whenever you want, with who ever you want! No, You have been redeemed, bought out of the slave market so that you can be HIS Treasured Possession, His workmanship!, before ordained for good works! (Eph 2:8-10)

How Lons od ScriptureIn Order to Understand the Importance of Not Being A Slacker when it comes to God, we must understand the way God Works. To do that we must analyze and understand the  “How Long’s” in Scripture:

The “How Longs” in God’s Word take three different forms:

  1. Man talking to Man

  2. Man talking to God

  3. God talking to Man

Now understand this word that Joshua uses-rāp̱āh: it means to become slack, to relax, cease, to become discouraged, weak, feeble, disheartened, let go, forsake, abandon. It can also be used to imply laziness or complacency.

  • The Pharaoh used this word to justify his mean treatment of the Jewish slaves (Exodus 5:8,17)

  • Proverbs 18:9 (KJV) He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

  • Understand that Slackers are brothers to the destroyer, the corrupter!

Man to Man

  • Job 8:2, ‘How long will you speak these words?’
  • Job 19:2 ‘How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? ‘
  • Psalm 63:3, ‘How long will you imagine mischief against a man?’
  • Proverbs 6:9 ‘How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?’

Face it, we get weary of trouble makers, people who cause problems, people who never seem to get their life on track. We complain about the wicked,we complain about people not doing work when we are doing all the work. How many times have you become weary of all the horrible things that people do to good people, even their children, even their family? We live in a very messed up world.

This prompts us to ask “HOW LONG?” to God.

Man to God

  • Psalms 6:3 (KJV) My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
  • Psalms 13:1 (KJV) How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
  • Psalms 35:17 (KJV) Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
  • Psalms 79:5 (KJV) How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
  • Psalms 89:46 (KJV) How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?
  • Psalms 94:3 (KJV) LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?
  • Revelation 6:9-10 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Cry Out HOW LONG GODWe take our complaints to God, we think He is leaving us in our problem far too long. We think he is letting the lions chew on us a little too long. We think He is hiding himself from us, not listening to our prayers. We think He is letting the suffering of the righteous go on too long. There is too much suffering in this world.

God means our complaints to cause us to look at Him, to see Him at His throne. He wants us to submit our petitions before the throne, to plead our case.


UNDERSTAND GOD”S PRAYER PROTOCOL

Prayer Protocol with GodThe truth is, we must each learn that God is Sovereign. God is King. He has a well ordered throne. There is a protocol involved when we pray before the throne.

Pray through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

  • Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Hebrews 10:19-20

Pray in Confidence in His Righteousness

  • And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Hebrews 10:21-23
  • Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Pray in the Power of the Name of Jesus

  • Ephesians 5:20 (KJV) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • Phil 2:10 At the Name of Jesus every KNEE Shall Bow.
  • Acts 4:12 No other Name under heaven whereby men may be saved

But does that mean you don’t plead with God? NO. Sometimes We Must plead…

Luke 18:3-8 (KJV) And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Expectation: Faith hears the voice of the Beloved, and says, ‘Make haste;’ it hears His ‘Behold, I come quickly!’ and it says, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus!’ We ‘look for and hasten (unto) the coming of the day of God’ (2 Peter 3:12).

  • REMEMBER GOD PROMISES TO BE WITH US (Joshua 1:5) “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”

BUT REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS EXPECTATIONS FOR OUR LIFE TOO!

Gods ExpectationsWe must always remember that our Relationship With God Comes With Certain Expectations… God looks at your relationship with Him and asks… HOW LONG?


God to man.

  • God to Pharoah- Exodus 10:3, 16:28, How long will you refuse to humble yourself?’
  • Numbers 14:11 (KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
  • Numbers 14:27 (KJV) How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
  • 1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
  • Proverbs 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
  • Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
  • Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
  • Jeremiah 12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
  • Matthew 17:17 (KJV) Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

God is:

  1. Long-suffering. ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’
  2. He is the infinitely patient God, as such most unwilling to smite. He speaks in pity to the sinner, ‘how long will you not be saved?’—like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.
  3. Pleading, but Never Forces Your Obedience.Loving. It is not at random that God says, ‘How long?’ His are not mere words of course. ‘It grieves Him at His heart.’ Every moment’s continuance in unbelief is vexing and grieving the Spirit.
  4. Warning. As He warned the judges and princes in Israel, so does He warn us. How long will you deal unjustly? He said to them. How long will you persist in your unrighteousness and unbelief? He says to us. The day of grace is ending. The day of wrath is coming. Be warned. Flee from the wrath to come!
  5. MOST OF ALL God is NO PUSH OVER!

I have often heard somone who is back-slidden, or living in sin ask me, “why doesn’t God just send me a sign… why doesn’t He send a lightning bolt to wake me up and get me to do right?” But it is not up to God to Force us to Obey. God is after your heart, after your devotion, he is not building robots.

Sometime He brings us Goodness:

  • Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Sometimes He uses Fear:

  • Jude 1:21-23 (KJV) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:15 (KJV) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

But through it all, God asks each of us, “How Long are you going to slack off from Your Relationship With ME?

  • How long are you going to slack off making a decision to put off coming to Jesus Christ?
  • How long are you going to slack off from putting God first in your life.

How to Claim InheritanceSure, you have tons of excuses. The demands of your job, demands of your family, demands for yourself. Fear of this fear of that. But God calls it what it is-laziness, slothfulness, lack of concern for His Word, apathy toward the eternity of your loved ones, lack of love for your loved ones. What kind of relationship does God require with us?

Jesus said there are really only 2 commandments you need to follow:

  • Mark 12:30-31 (KJV) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

HOW CAN WE CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE, OUR ABUNDANT LIFE IN CHRIST? HOW DO WE HAVE A MARK 12:30 RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?

Sigmund Freud’s favorite story was about the sailor shipwrecked on one of the South Sea islands. He was seized by the natives, hoisted to their shoulders, carried to the village, and set on a rude throne. Little by little, he learned that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, king for a year. He liked it until he began to wonder what happened to all the former kings. Soon he discovered that every year when his kingship was ended, the king was banished to an island, where he starved to death. The sailor did not like that, but he was smart and he was king, king for a year. So he put his carpenters to work making boats, his farmers to work transplanting fruit trees to the island, farmers growing crops, masons building houses. So when his kingship was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance. It is a good parable of life: We’re all kings here, kings for a little while, able to choose what we shall do with the stuff of life.—Illustrations Unlimited

Priorities & Focus:

  • “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:19-20).
  • And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” Colossians 3:23-25

1. God’s Inspired Word is the Final Authority for my Life

Bible is Final AuthorityLike Joshua led the Hebrews to do at Shechem, Mt Ebal Mt Gerizim , to embrace the blessings and the cursings of God’s Word. The were setting forth God’s Word as the Final Authority for their life. They were embracing the Blessing Power of God’s Word, but at the same time they were acknowledging the power to curse, to wall them up in the way.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Psalms 19:7-11

This means you are going to commit daily to reading the Word. You are going to make being in God’s Word your number one priority each day.

2. SURVEY YOUR LIFE


Joshua 18:4-6 (KJV) Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me. And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north. Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

Survey Your LifeMake a list of your needs, the needs of your wife, the needs of your children. Learn to think in character qualities. List your assets, list your debts, list your concerns list your fears, list your health problems. List those loved one in your life that you don’t know where they will spend eternity

3. COMMIT IT ALL TOTALLY TO GOD

that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.”

commit all totally to GodTake your list, commit it all to God. Give Him all your expectations. Don’t be envious of what you don’t have. Understand God has different expectations for each of us. Count on Him to bring His will to pass

  • We are a Living Sacrifice – Rom 12:1,2
  • My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalms 62:5-8

4.By Faith to Go Forth in the Power of His SPIRIT

Power of the SpiritThen he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

  • The Inheritance is conquered by God, because we can claim none of the glory before Him. Romans 11:36 – of Him, through Him and unto Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.

  • He will show us our life, and only that which we have allowed Him to accomplish will last for eternity. He alone is our silver and gold!

  • Are YOU READY TO STOP SLACKING FOR GOD? ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO HIM TODAY!


Caleb climbing mountains killing giantsLet us consider a man with extraordinary faith. Faith that enabled him to claim a mountain, and continue killing giants. Perhaps we will be encouraged by his faith, and God may open our eyes to what He wants to do in our life.

The Conquest of Canaan continues in Joshua 10:28. Here we find the battle continuing that was begun on the longest day in earth’s history. The day the God made the sun stand still. The Southern Conquest continues. Then in Joshua 11 we find that the Northern Conquest takes place when some kings think they can take Joshua and his men out. Even though they have superior forces and weapons, they are no match for the God of Jehovah. In Joshua 11: 6 God gives special instructions to Joshua. He tells him to hough the horses. The Hebrew word is ‏עָקַר‎ (ʿāqar). Modern translators use the word “hamstrung”.

What does it mean to hough a horse?

Houghing the horses is done by cutting the sinews and arteries of their hinder legs, so that they not only become hopelessly lame, but bleed to death. The reasons for this special command were that the Lord designed to lead the Israelites to trust in Him, not in military resources (Ps 20:7); to show that in the land of promise there was no use of horses; and, finally, to discourage their travelling as they were to be an agricultural, not a trading, people.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

HamstrungWhy did God give this strange command? After all, the Jews could benefit from having horses. They would make them stronger and more effective fighters.  Joshua was destroying the enemy and the enemies devices for war, but they were to rely on GOD for their Victory, not their own abilities. Furthermore, God had called the Jews to possess Canaan, to enjoy the bounty of her soil. He wanted them to settle down, not continue traveling, which horses would have encouraged. Horses would have also encourage trade, and open the Jews to the influences of the world, influences that God was having them destroy. Horses could also fall into enemy hands. No, God had specific reasons for hamstringing the horses. God wanted them to obey and not question His instructions. God wanted them to rely wholly upon Him. This is the lesson from Caleb. Caleb is in stark contrast to the Jews who perished in the wilderness. They were hamstrung because of their unbelief, because of the influence of Egypt. Caleb represented man in the FULLNESS of God’s Strength, man unhindered by the world, by Satan, because Caleb WHOLLY FOLLOWED GOD!

So the subject of being Hamstrung applies to our own walk with Christ. God wants us to know the strength of following Him, a strength and vitality that Caleb experienced throughout his life. While the rest of the Jewish men were dying in the wilderness, Caleb remained strong and vibrant. He is a picture of what Christ promises to all those who follow Him. He promised an Abundant Life. Instead of walking victoriously, and hamstringing our enemies, we are often hamstrung by the accusations of Satan.

SATAN IS OUR ACCUSER

Satan Accuser Rev 12_10Satan is an Accuser in this age of grace. His work is to accuse the brethren, to cause defeat and discouragement to loom over our lives. He does not want us to see and know and revel in the power of God to bring victory! When the accusations of Satan become so large that we are defeated, we are allowing our  failures and transgressions to become GIANTS that block our seeing Him who is invisible. Satan’s accusations cause us to focus on our failures and inadequacies rather than on the AWESOME POWER OF ALMIGHTY GOD! We must not allow Satan to Hamstring us!

The greatest day in the history of the world is described in Revelation 12:10: “the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” 1 John 3:8 assures us that Jesus Christ came for this purpose: “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus rendered Satan POWERLESS. He hamstrung Satan. There is no reason a born again Christian should listen to Satan’s accusations, or be defeated by his wiles. Satan has been rendered powerless. We must learn to focus upon the POWER of GOD in EVERY situation we face.

Joshua 12 lists the conquests of Moses and Joshua. Joshua 13 – Joshua Is Getting Old, Time to Divide the Land. Joshua 14 – Time for Caleb to Collect

Notice especially Joshua 14:6-15

What Kind of Man Was Caleb?

Faith of CalebNumbers 14:24 (KJV) But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

How do you recognize someone with “another spirit”? The Hebrew pictures an “excellent spirit or wind”. It has the meaning of BREATH. Caleb was a breath of fresh air, that cool gentle breeze in the midst of a scorching desert. One who has “another spirit” is one whose spirit is in touch with God, regardless of the heat of the situation you face. One who has another spirit is like the mighty tree whose leaves do not wilt no matter how severe the heat and drought become. You know someone has another spirit:

  • When your spirit is in touch with God!
  • When you see and believe God is
  • When God’s Spirit within you is influencing your 5 other senses-sight, touch, smell, hearing, seeing.

GOD SENSE

Caleb looked at the same things the other 10 spies looked at, yet he ran everything through his “GOD SENSE”. Sure, those giants were huge. Sure the walls were high and thick, but Caleb wasn’t controlled by his physical senses. He was controlled by his God-Sense. He knew God would give them the victory. Caleb had another spirit, an excellent spirit, and it controlled his life, gave him a fountain of youth, gave him a faith that was remarkable. If you are in the majority, as were the 604,998 other men (between ages of 20 & 60) that day, you will look at problems with only your five senses, and you will have three reactions:

Defeat & Discouragement

Numbers 14:1-The people wailed and wept.

Oh no, mudpreacher, I don’t do that. No, but perhaps you show it in another way. Instead of openly showing your defeat and discouragement, you internalize it. You give up on believing God. You give up on having any enthusiasm for God. Your resolve is diminished, your shoulders become stooped over a bit more, your work for the Lord becomes less and less.

Another way is you limit what you will do for the Lord. Serving others, being a friend, helping people, you are all into that. But doing anything that is outside your comfort zone, even asking friends if they know for certain they will live with God in eternity, no, that is too difficult. You end up doing just enough to be considered a good Christian, but Satan has taken the joy of your salvation away. He has you in that mediocre walk, that walk that does not impact the giants and problems that you will face.

Complaining Spirit

Numbers 14:2-the people murmured

Spirit is breath. The words you speak reveal the spirit of your heart. Words of encouragement, words of joy, words of praise, words of hope, trust, these are the BREATH of another spirit. Words of complaint, murmuring, disgust, impatients, negative these reflect a wrong spirit, a self-sense spirit.

Fail to Believe God

Numbers 14:9 Only rebel not, neither fear

What most people don’t understand, is that failure to believe what God has said is actually rebellion against God. Fearing the enemy when He has told you that you will have victory is slapping God in the face and saying I don’t believe you. You are allowing your flesh, your senses to override what God’s Word says. Ignorance of God’s Word is just as much rebellion as out and out disobedience.

You are in rebellion to God if you ever find yourself saying:

  • I know I should but…
  • He knows my heart…
  • He made me this way so…
  • I’m not hurting anyone…
  • I need my sleep…
  • Just this one time won’t hurt…

Anytime you offer up an excuse for not doing what His Word is telling you to do is REBELLION. Anytime you offer up an excuse for doing something contrary to what His Word is telling you is REBELLION.

CALEB FOLLOWED THE LORD FULLY

Caleb Another SpiritGod doesn’t enjoy halfway Christians. He delighted in Caleb because he followed the Lord “fully”, “wholly”. The phrase is actually two Hebrew words: ʾaḥar – the hind part, behind,and mālâ, to be filled up. God used mālâ to describe the earth when it was filled up with violence (Gen 6:13) Elijah used it to tell the widow women to fill up the vessels with oil. 2 Kings 4:6Dinozzo-Gibbs-On-Your-Six-Boss

Caleb was filled up with the hind part of God. He kept so close! He had another spirit! He was always going “I’m on your Six, Boss!” (as Tony DiNozzo tells his N.C.I.S. boss, Leroy Jethro Gibbs). To be filled with the Spirit of God means you are so dependent upon Him he can’t shake you! You are in his rear view mirror all the time! Like you’ve jumped on his back and nothing can shake you off!

Caleb was a Man of EXTRAORDINARY Faith

  1. Carrying Faith
  2. Climbing Faith
  3. Conquering Faith

I. CARRYING Faith

Joshua 14:10-11 (KJV) And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

Caleb Carrying FaithThere are certain memories that you always have. Caleb would always remember those grapes. He would always remember the sweetness of the juice, the way they exploded in his mouth, juice running down his beard. He was so excited to taste the bounties of the promised land. For two years they had been eating manna and quail. Now this! He wanted it so badly. He wanted this land. Joshua and Caleb just had to show the people, so they cut down a cluster of grapes so large it took both of them to carry. They just knew the people would get excited about this wonderful land God wanted to give them. He could hardly believe his ears as the people listened to the descriptions of the giants and the walled cities. Can’t you see these grapes! Can’t you see that God is with us. Instead, the people decided to listen to the 10 rather than the 2. They let their fears, their apathy, their unbelief rule their wills. They decided not to go into the land.

Caleb-Grapes of escholCaleb had Carrying Faith. Faith that could carry his soul the next 45 years. Faith that could carry his family. Faith that could keep his spirit on the back of God, even though all those around him were complaining, murmuring, ignoring the power of God. Caleb had another spirit in Him, That spirit gave him faith that carried him through any discouraging situation. During those forty years I suppose that there were many chances for Caleb to become discouraged, to think he would never see the Promised Land again. After all, his friends were dropping like flies. The complaining continued, the manna continued. I can imagine everyday would say to Caleb, “Oh, brother Caleb, isn’t it terrible out here in this wilderness! It is so hot — it’s 118 degrees today!” But Caleb was a man of another spirit. He had another focus. He had GOD SENSE controlling his vision! Caleb would say, “I really hadn’t noticed. I guess it is pretty warm, but I was thinking about those grapes of Eschol that I saw. And I was thinking about the city of Hebron. Our father Abraham liked that place, and I like it. That’s where I am going.”

Caleb, even in the wilderness, could think of the future. He had a great hope. It kept him young. Those forty years in the wilderness killed off the rest of the crowd, but they didn’t do a thing to him but make him healthy. They grew old, and he grew young. The giants in the Promised Land made the others tremble — they thought of themselves as grasshoppers. But Caleb thought of God. There was freedom from fear in the heart of this man. As Martin Luther said, “One with God is a majority.” God was bigger than the giants.

Look at John 15:7-12

abide-in-christIf you are lacking in carrying faith, perhaps you are not centering your life upon the right things. Jesus said to abide in Him, and you will have fruit and joy and love. But the basis for that abiding is obedience, obedience to his commands. What are you disobeying Jesus Christ in? Is your love for Him full? Is your Joy in Him full? Then you are disobeying Christ, and you will not have faith to carry you through the storms of life. Instead of feasting on the monster fruit of God, you are starving on Gerber’s processed baby food.  How is your Love for God, How is your Enthusiasm for God, How is your Spirit for God? Are you Following Him WHOLLY! Do You Have Carrying Faith? Are your Carrying anyone Closer to God!

II. CLIMBING Faith

Joshua 14:12 (KJV) Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day…

Caleb Climbing FaithCaleb is now eighty-five years old, and yet he can say that he is as strong as the day Moses sent him into Canaan as a spy! What he was really saying is that he was still able to tackle any problem same as when he was a young man. His power from God had not diminished, in fact, if anything, he had grown stronger! Most people when they get older, look forward to retiring. They don’t want the stairs anymore, the two stories. They want everything on one level. They want to live in the valley. They don’t want anything too difficult.

When Caleb stepped forward to claim any land he wanted, he chose Hebron. He chose the Hebron mountain area, about 3500 feet above sea level. Why? Because he wasn’t through climbing in his life. He had not accomplished all his goals. He was still pressing upward for the prize of the high calling in Jesus Christ.

Caleb reminds me of Adoniram Judson, the missionary who spent twelve years in Burma without a convert. The board that sent him out didn’t sense the situation nor what a tremendous missionary they had in Judson; so they wrote him a very diplomatic letter, suggesting that he should come home. They asked him what the prospects in Burma were for the future. His reply was, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” His confidence in God was the reason he could stay in the wilderness of Burma all those years. Although he suffered a great deal and it took a long time for revival to break out, it finally did. His time was well spent. Today, in Burma, there are Christians thriving becasue of the work of Adoniram Judson. In 2013 they will have a huge 200th anniversary celebration.

Are you enjoying all the spiritual blessings that God has for you today? You say, “I have lots of trouble.” I know that Christians have many troubles in the course of their lives. My heart goes out to them.  But I always think of the testimony of a wise old saint who said his favorite Bible verse was, “It came to pass.” When puzzled people asked him what he meant by that, he replied, “When I get into trouble and problems pile up, I turn to my verse and know my troubles have not come to stay; they have come to pass.” We can complain all day long, but that will only hamstring our walk. We need to focus on God, His Hope for us, His Future for us! These things will pass! Our Victory is Promised!

Press-toward-the-MarkCaleb for forty years followed fully the Lord his God. Everyone else around him was dropping dead, was complaining, getting bit by snakes, getting swallowed by the earth, but old Caleb kept on following fully his Lord. He was thinking about going mountain climbing. He was still pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus!

In this life you are either running a winning race or you are falling down in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:1-11 (KJV) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

There are five reasons why we are overcome in the wilderness: we lust after evil things, we have idols before God, we commit fornication, we tempt Christ (fail to Honor Him), we murmur. These all could have infected the spirit of Caleb. These all could have overcome him in his walk toward the blessing of God, but NO, Caleb had ANOTHER SPIRIT, He Had God Sense, He focused on Him who is INVISIBLE, but ALL POWERFUL!

Caleb kept on drinking from the Rock. He kept on thinking about those grapes. He kept on thinking about his land. He looked forward to climbing. After all, He was on the Boss’s Six!

  • Do you still have goals for Christ?
  • Are you still climbing towards him,
  • Or are you coasting, getting by, just doing what you have to.

Watch out. If you are not climbing, you will get overthrown.

Caleb followed God fully. This is why Caleb chose Hebron.

Hebron means fellowship, it means fullness, and it means fruitfulness. So Caleb was saying, “Joshua, I want that mountain that represents fellowship with God; I want to walk with God. I want that mountain that represents fullness; I want everything that God has for my life. I know there are some giants left, but that is no problem when I am on the back of God!

Have you heard of the man who was mountain-climbing in the American Rockies, along a very rugged track. Suddenly he slipped, falling over a cliff. He grabbed the roots of a tree and hung there. When he got his breath back he looked down and saw an enormous drop. If he fell, he’d certainly be killed. Looking up, the cliff top was so far above him he couldn’t climb back. In desperation, although he knew he was alone, he cried out ‘Is anyone up there?’ He was startled to hear a booming voice say ‘Yes!’ ‘Can you help me?’ ‘Yes’ came the response. ‘What must I do?’ The voice answered ‘Let go!’. There was a long pause, then finally the man called out ‘Is anybody else up there?’

Someday we will be rewarded. We will not be rewarded according to the great amount of work done for God, nor according to our prominence and popularity. The important thing will be — did we wholly follow the Lord?

Oh, that God’s people would learn today that the most important thing in this life is to wholly follow the Lord! Caleb, man of God that he was, took Hebron. There were giants there, but he said, “That’s the place I want. That’s the very best spot!” Oh, that you and I might keep climbing toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

III. Conquering Faith

Caleb Conquering FaithWhy did a man 85 years old pick a place like Hebron? It was mountainous, it was rocky, it was controlled by not just one giant, but by his three giant sons. But that was why he wanted Hebron. He wanted to PROVE the POWER of GOD! “Bring them on,” says Caleb. “They’re no match for the LORD!” Forty-five years before he had promised, “Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us” (Numbers 14:9). Now he had a chance to prove it as leader of “the men of Judah”. The giants represent the enemies of Conquest, and Caleb is ready for them

Fear looks at the problems, faith claims the opportunities. Caleb had GOD SENSE! Sure the giants are big, their strength superhuman, their reputation terrifying. We may be like grasshoppers, but there is none mightier than EL GIBBOR! Faith filters every giant through the Power of God! There is no trick to Conquering Faith. If you believe Jesus saved you by His blood and He lives in your life, then you have experienced conquering faith.

In Luke 17 Jesus says we should forgive someone who sins against us seven times in one day! The disciples ask – reasonably enough we might think – for more faith to do this. Jesus brushes off the request, saying, in effect, ‘What you need isn’t more faith, but using the faith you already have! Your problem isn’t faith or the lack of it, but obedience!’

To grow stronger, you don’t need a muscle transplant, but to exercise the muscles you have! Trust and obey says the old hymn – and it’s still true.  They think of possibilities. Just as Augustine wrote the biography of sin in four words: a thought, a form, a fascination, a fall, so faith begins with your thoughts of faith.  We need to exercise our GOD SENSE and see His Power. We need to believe His PROMISES! We must unite our FAITH with the VISION of GOD ALMIGHTY! We must BREATH ANOTHER SPIRIT through our lives: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil.4:13). “I am more than a Conqueror through Him who loves me!” (Rom 8:37)

See What Caleb Did at 85: “From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites — Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai — descendants of Anak” (Joshua 15:14).

Why does the Scripture give their names? Because their names were well known; the giants were what legends are made of. You only name great opponents, and these giants were great enemies with great reputations to match. But Caleb fearlessly drove them out. Doubtless the story was told again and again around the campfires, “Do you remember when Caleb….”

Just How Big were the sons of ANAK?

Anak was How BigCaleb said in Numbers: “Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us:

  • Caleb said, these giants won’t be the means of our defeat but of our growth.  We’re gonna eat their lunch!  He bellied up to the table and said, please pass the Anakim, Breakfast of Champions!
  • Why did your momma make you eat your spinach?  Because it was good for you.  “But I don’t want to!”  But you should, it will make you strong.  God says, eat your Anakim!
  • We need heroes. We need to know those who have gone before and have conquered the giants of life.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith….” (Hebrews 12:1-2a, KJV)

You can view life as a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

Granny BrandDr. Paul Brand, (Pioneering physician in the field of leprosy), was raised in India. His parents were missionaries there. In his book, “In His Image,” he writes about his mother.

His mother, Evie “Granny” Brand had just lost her husband. Their mission term was up for renewal. A widow, 68, she was seeking another term. She actually took no support from the organization, becasue she lived off an inheritance. But the board said it made no sense to appoint a sixty-eight year old woman to another five year term.

Evie did not see it that way. Years ago, she and her husband Jesse had vowed to reach five mountain ranges with the gospel. Four still had to be reached. Evie felt that God intended for her to fulfill that vow. She saw one last chance. “Please just send me back for one year,” she pleaded. “I promise not to make any more trouble. At the end of one year I will retire.”

Reluctantly the board agreed. Had they known Evie’s secret plan, they would surely have refused. When her year with the mission ended, fellow missionaries gathered to wish her goodbye. Then came the shocker. Evie gleefully informed them that she was retiring from the mission– retiring to take up independent work in the mountains. She would fulfill the promise that she and Jesse had undertaken years before. Protests and warnings fell on deaf ears.

Paul BrandRejoicing, seventy-year-old Evie began to fulfill Jesse’s dream. Everyone called her “Granny,” now, but she felt young. She traveled from village to village, riding a hill pony, camping, teaching, and dispensing medicine. She rescued abandoned children. The work was hard because her body was thin now. Life became even more difficult when she was dropped by her carriers and whacked her head on a rock. She never completely recovered her balance after that. She took to walking with bamboo canes in her hands. Yet the face that she turned upon the world was full of joy and laughter. “Praise God!” she exclaimed continually.

Despite broken bones and fevers, she labored on. In fifteen years, she almost eradicated Guinea worm from the Kalryan range. (Guinea worms grow several feet long under a person’s skin.) Through her efforts, the five ranges were evangelized, and a mission work planted on each. She added two more ranges. “Extraordinary,” said people. Granny insisted it was all God’s doing.

Whether on her mountains or off, she proclaimed Christ. In a hospital with a broken hip, she scooted on a carpet from room to room and talked to the other patients. She painted landscapes for them. Her bones knit in record time and back she went to the mountains to fight marijuana growers. Her son Paul visited her and found her looking not older but younger. “This is how to grow old,” he wrote. “Allow everything else to fall away, until those around you see just love.”

Granny-Brand2When she was 75 years old, she was still walking miles every day, visiting the villages in the southern part of India, teaching the people about Jesus. One day, at age 75, she was travelling alone & fell & broke her hip. After two days of just lying there in pain, some workers found her & put her on a makeshift cot & loaded her into their jeep & drove 150 miles over deep rutted roads to find a doctor who could set the broken bones.

But the very bumpy ride damaged her bones so badly that her hip never completely healed.

Paul Brand wrote: “I visited my mother in her mud-covered hut several weeks after all of this happened. I watched as she took two bamboo crutches that she had made herself, & moved from one place to another with her feet just dragging behind because she had lost all feeling in them.”

He said, “At age 75, with a broken hip, unable to stand on her own two legs, I thought that I made a pretty intelligent suggestion. I suggested that she retire.” He said, “She turned around & looked at me & said, `What value is that? If we try to preserve this body just a few more years & it is not being used for God, of what value is that?’”

So she kept on working. She kept on riding her donkey to villages until she was 93 years old. At age 93 she couldn’t stay on her donkey anymore. She kept falling off. But she didn’t stop preaching. Indian men would carry her in hammocks from one village to another. And she continued to tell people about Jesus Christ until she died at age 95.

Paul Brand writes, “My most vivid memory of my mother is of her propped up against a stone wall as people are coming to her from their homes, schools, & places of work. I can still see the wrinkles in her face, & her skin so tanned by the weather & the heat. “I saw her speaking to those people. I looked at them & saw the sparkle in their eyes, & the smiles on their faces. And I saw them deeply moved by the message of God’s love, spoken by this old woman. I knew what they saw was not an old woman who had passed her prime, but a beautiful person bringing tidings of love straight from heaven.”

When her son, Paul visited her in the mountains, he found her looking younger. Her smile, brighter than ever, made the difference. “This is how to grow old,” he wrote. “Allow everything else to fall away, until those around you see just love.”

Granny tore some ligaments and had to go to the plains for treatment. Before she could return to her beloved mountains, her speech became jumbled and her memory failed. Seven days later, on this day, December 18th, 1974, she died. The next day her body was taken back to the hills and laid beside Jesse’s while a multitude wept. The woman who had been declared too old for India had carried on for 24 more years, working almost to her day of death.

We Need Heroes Like CalebAre you Wholly Following the Lord God?

We need more Caleb’s. We need Heroes who exercise their God Sense, who can visualize God’s Power, Power to Keep on Carrying, Power to Keep on Climbing, Power to Keep on Conquering!

Would you tell God each and every day “I’m on your six, Boss!”