Archive for June, 2009


The Great Con in JoshuaWe’ve all heard the word “con”. There are many synonyms: bamboozle, bilk, bluff, bunco, cajole, cheat, chicane, coax, crime, deception, double-cross, dupe, flimflam, fool,  fraud, gold brick, graft, gyp, hoax, hoodwink, hornswoggle, humbug, mislead, mockery, rip off, rook, sweet-talk, swindle, take in, trick, wheedle. Today we will look at the great Gibeonite Con and how Joshua overcame it with wood and water.Con Tweedle Hoodwink

The Leagues we make can be dangerous. They can be destructive. Perhaps you have heard the term “In League With the Devil?” Just so you will be relieved, here is a headline straight from the news:

Procter & Gamble Not In League With The Devil

Not in League with the DevilMarch 21, 2007: Procter and Gamble does not worship Satan, according to a court ruling that revolves around a decades-old urban myth targeting the world’s biggest consumer goods company. P&G said March 19 it had won $19.25 million in a civil suit brought against four former distributors of direct-selling company Amway who were accused of spreading false rumors.

On March 16 the Salt Lake City jury award represents the latest in a long line of court battles between P&G and Amway over the devil-worshipping claim, which has taken on new currency in the Internet era. “This is about protecting our reputation,” said Jim Johnson, P&G chief legal officer.

The former distributors were accused of rehashing a rumor that dates from at least 1981, to the effect that P&G is in league with the Devil. According to the false urban legend, the global company’s logo contains a “666” symbol, its bosses have appeared on television talk shows to declare their love of Beelzebub, and part of its profits go to the Church of Satan.

Amway has itself been forced to debunk accusations that its business model amounts to little more than a “get rich quick” pyramid-selling scheme. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

League:  To join in a league; to cause to combine for a joint purpose; to combine; to unite; as, common interests will league (Bowling League, Baseball League)

I know that none of you has knowingly and willingly made a league with the devil. But I would venture that you entered into a contract, a friendship, perhaps a marriage, that turned out to be destructive and detrimental, or at best that you regretted. Hopefully you have healed and come to see how God worked the character of Christ through your mistake. If not, then listen carefully toward the end of this message.

The truth is that a dentist’s mistake is pulled out, a lawyer’s mistake is imprisoned, a teacher’s mistake is failed, a printer’s mistake is corrected, a pharmacist’s mistake is buried, a postman’s mistake is forwarded, and an electrician’s mistake can be shocking. The novelist Joseph Conrad wrote, “It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.”

If you are going to do anything in this life, you will make mistakes. This is exactly what happened to Joshua and the leaders of Israel. They made a serious mistake that threatened their inheritance. But they overcame it, and we will learn how.

  • If thou hast never been a fool, be sure thou wilt never be a wise man. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray (English novelist)
  • “Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” ~ Sacha Guitry
  • “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon, English preacher
  • “There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man.” Aristotle

Have you ever signed a contract and then regretted it later?

Regret Signing a ContractContracts come in different forms. There is the obvious contract such as a real estate or auto purchase contract. There is the financing note contract. There are also less obvious contracts. A Wedding license is a contract that both bride and groom must sign to give them legal standing in the state in which they live. A credit card receipt is a contract stating you will pay for the items you received. A sales receipt is a contract that states you received these items for such and such an amount. Behind all purchases is a warranty contract unless you buy something “as is”. There is not much that you bring into your home that does not have some sort of contract attached to it.

Groceries, Furniture, Electronics, Toys, Cable Service, Phone Service, Utility Service, all come with agreements or contracts, whether implied or written. In the Old Testament, when you invited someone into your home to dine with you, it implied a contract or agreement that meant you were providing hospitality to them. That agreement of hospitality meant that what is yours is theirs.

Marriage was never entered into lightly, because it involved the uniting of two families. That meant that the cultures, practices, religious observances were being united. It was a serious thing to marry someone of a different race or culture, because it could involve conflicts within the family.

Even at our church we have a contract, which we call our Church Covenant. When you join this church you are agreeing to abide by our church covenant. As Pastor I am charged with upholding this contract, and along with leaders, enforcing this contract.

We talk about the good ole days, when a man’s word was his bond. Yet with God, there has never been a change in that adage. With God, our Words are important. We will be judged for every idle word that comes from our mouth. God holds you to every thing you have told Him you would do. That is why many Christians suffer from guilt-because of not following through on what we say to God.

That is why God says to never use His name in Vain. Most of us think that means not to say a certain phrase. But actually it means to never use His name lightly, without purpose, or meaning. When we say the name of God, it is with reverence and love and the utmost respect.

Our words mean everything to God. Our words can bring health to our body, our words can bring death. With our words we confess Christ as Lord.

I think we all have horror stories of what happened to us when we signed something or said something we shouldn’t have, or perhaps not thought it through clearly, or rushed into, or didn’t read the fine print. I remember buying a home in 1997 and thinking I had a fixed rate loan and then two years later getting a big increase in my mortgage payment. Boy was I mad. Then there were those internet stock days when all these hot IPO’s were coming out and if you could just buy a few of the IPO shares you could turn around and make a killing. Well, when you purchase stock you are entering into an agreement. I entered into one of those agreements only to wish I hadn’t because the stock tanked.

Eye Irritants and Thorns in the sideJoshua 9 reveals a horror story that happened to Joshua and the leaders of Israel. If this had happened in America they would have taken the people to court and proved fraud. They would have gotten out of their league with the enemy.

God doesn’t abide by man’s laws. If you want to live your life by man’s laws, go ahead, but you are being a FRIEND OF THE WORLD. Being a friend of the world is being an enemy of God. This is what made Joshua’s League with the Gibeonites so dangerous. This simple league, this little agreement meant that the warning of God would come to pass:

Numbers 33:50-56 (NKJV) Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.'”

Deuteronomy 7:1-4 (ESV) “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

Agreements, Leagues, Contracts, Church Membership, can affect our lives and livelihood, our friendships, our walk with God, our inheritance, our eternity. God wants us to make the Right Agreements. He wants us to enter the Right Leagues. This is His purpose in wanting Joshua to destroy all the inhabitants, and destroy all their idols. But when we mess up, God can use our mistakes for His Glory!

David made Right AgreementsDavid was not permitted by God to build the temple. His hands were bloody. So Solomon built the temple. Yet his father David made all the treaties, agreements that gave Solomon all the materials he needed to build a glorious temple. Dad’s, your friendships, your agreements, your work habits, will leave an impression and imprint on the lives of your children. Wrong friendships can result in harm. Witness child abuse at the hands of boyfriends, step fathers, even day care centers. We must guard our families against the evil and the corruption that is in this world.

If you doubt the way God listens to what we promise, and how he holds us to it, consider what happened in Israel several hundred years after this League with the Gibeonites:

God holds us to our word2 Samuel 21:1-6 (ESV) Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

I want us to look briefly at what Joshua did wrong in making this ungodly League. Then I want to look at what Joshua did in order to turn this league into good for Israel, and see the lessons that we have for our lives, in turning bad decisions into good for our families.

Cons require Props and wordsGreat Cons Require Two Things:

  1. Deceptive Props (Bait)
  2. Deceptive Words (Con)

The Gibeonite Props:

Gibeon was located only twenty-five miles from the camp of Israel at Gilgal and was on Joshua’s list to be destroyed. In Deuteronomy 20:10-20, God’s law stated that Israel must destroy all the cities in Canaan. If after the conquest Israel was involved in other wars, they could offer peace to cities that were outside the land. (See also 7:1-11.) Somehow the Gibeonites knew about this law and decided to use it for their own protection. Since the enemy knows how to use the Word of God for their own purposes, God’s people must keep alert (Matt. 4:5-7).

Gibeonite PropsThe Gibeonites assembled a group of men and equipped them to look like an official delegation from a foreign city. Their clothing, food, and equipment were all designed to give the impression that they had been on a long and difficult journey from a distant city.

  • Satan is a counterfeiter and “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14; niv). He has his “false apostles” and “deceitful workmen” (v. 13, niv) at work in this world, blinding the lost and seeking to lead believers astray. It’s much easier for us to identify the lion when he’s roaring than to detect the serpent when he’s slithering into our lives.
  • We allow ourselves to get into wrong agreements because of greed, desire for fame, desire for popularity, desires of the heart that are not honoring to God.
  • The enemy knows our weaknesses, just as the Gibeonites knew that if they could trick the Israelites into making a covenant with them, they would have to honor it according to God’s commands.

What the Gibeonites said (Josh. 9:6-13).

Gibeonite WordsSatan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), and human nature is such that many people find it easier to tell lies than the truth. With tongue in cheek, the American political leader Adlai Stevenson said, “A lie is an abomination unto the Lord—and a very present help in trouble.” The Gibeonites told several lies in their attempt to get out of trouble.

They lied about their origin.

  • They said they were “from a very far country” (Josh. 9:6, 9) when they actually lived twenty-five miles away.

I have to tell one story about Christians. I would never hide the fact that I was a Christian businessman and that my company had been given to the Lord. But I never made that the basis for why you should do business with me. I have had people in the past approach me about buying this or that, and want me to extend credit without the proper reference check. They even dropped names of good Christians I knew. I remember one guy in particular that got me to extend about 600 in credit for hose (when I was at Tompkins Industries). He went on and on about being a great Christian. But he never paid his bill. In fact, we could never find him. To even try to collect.

  • My caution to you: if someone wants you to do business with them, invest with them, give them money because they are a Christian, be doubly wary. They may be lying about their origin.

They lied about their clothing and food

  • “This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is” (v. 12, niv).

Words alone could not deceive the Jews. Everything about their clothing, their property and provisions had to look the lie. Con men know they have to look the part, act the part, talk the part. They take great care to look exactly as they think you expect you to look. They will arrange all the props to be exactly as they think you would want them to be.

They lied about their purpose

  • called themselves “your servants” (vv. 8, 9, 11),

In reality they were the enemies of Israel. But they puffed up Joshua by caliming to be his servants. Note: I have never been to a time-share presentation where the presenter did not pretend to be my closest friend. I even had one guy take me by his home and met his wife and kid. They try to establish that connection that makes it difficult to say no. The Gibeonites were doing just that by twice saying they wanted to be their servants.

They lied about wanting to Follow God

  • “because of the name of the Lord your God.  For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt”

When they said they had come “because of the name of the Lord” (v. 9), it was blasphemous. Con men, Satan, have one thing in common: they have no conscience when it comes to God. They will blaspheme, they will lie, they will excuse. Bernie Madoff, who could receive up to 150 years for the billions of dollars he conned people out of, requested only 12 years. His lawyer said this should be sufficient.

WHY THE CON SUCCEEDED

Joshua 9:14-15 (ESV) So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

The Con Succeeded because of two things:

  1. The Pride of Life
  2. The Prayerless Flesh

The Pride of Life

Pride of LifeDid success go to their heads? In spite of all the alarm bells sounding, Joshua and the leaders bought the con and made a covenant with the strangers. Their ego got in the way. Their recent successes had gotten into their head.

Struggling actors that all of a sudden make it big, child actors used to having their way, average Joes that when the lottery, anyone who starts to get attention because of some success, they are all prey for the devil, for con men, for being defrauded.

The sad news is that 1 in 3 lottery winners are in serious financial trouble or even bankrupt within 5 years. Why? The suddenly wealthy often never learn to manage their money. Financial windfall coupled with reckless buying and no concept of money almost always leads to trouble. This is especially true for people who decide to use their winnings to create a new business, said Birke, a psychologist on retainer with Lexington Wealth Management.

Andrew Jackson “Jack” Whittaker was already a millionaire when he won the multistate Powerball lottery in December 2002. At 55 years-old, he was president of a contracting firm in West Virginia; he had a beautiful family, a big house, and drove a Lincoln Navigator. On December 25, 2002, Whittaker became the biggest single lottery winner in US history, winning a $314.9 million jack pot. His initial expenditures consisted of building churches and beginning a foundation for the less fortunate. But things spiraled out of control, very quickly.

Whittaker was robbed numerous times, once of more than $500,000 at a strip club. He became a heavy drinker. He and his wife divorced. He was accused of bouncing checks at Atlantic City casinos. And then to make matters even worse, his granddaughter Brandi, whom Whittaker bought four cars for and was very close to, was found dead of a drug overdose. A drug problem that was easily funded with the $2,100 per week allowance he gave her.

The Gibeonites kept saying “We are your servants” We heard what mighty things Your God has done. You guys are amazing, you are rock stars and we want to be in your entourage! Joshua and his men bought the deception.

The Self-Sufficient Flesh

Self Sufficient Flesh ColumboJoshua had just renewed the commitment to God, and yet at the very first test, He didn’t go to God. He figured he could handle this decision on his own.

I loved to watch Columbo. He always played dumb, he always asked dumb questions, he always acted as if he was a bumbling fool. He would always catch the criminal off-guard. They thought they were smart enough to get away with it, they thought this stupid detective could never figure it out, so they let their guard down. He always got them in the end.

When ever you think you’ve got this life figured out, you don’t need God, you get up without praying, with out reading the word, you are letting your self-sufficent flesh run your life.

God calls this evil. He says in Jeremiah 2:

Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) “my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

You don’t just commit one evil, you commit two. The first evil is to forsake “Relinquish, Let Go” You literally let go of God. You rely on yourself. But the second evil is when you use this self-sufficient flesh to live your life. Your plans, your job, your house, your contracts. The things you do become “YOUR WORK” your hollowed out cistern. God says, it is full of holes.

For the leaders to make that covenant, to sign that agreement, to make that league without first going to the Lord was committing evil in the sight of God. As Christians we are to abide in Christ. We are to cling to the branch. When we make any agreement, sign a contract, without checking with God, we are committing evil, we are “letting go” of God, and beyond that, we are hewing out cisterns of our own making.

I have even had a timeshare salesmen tell me they are going to go get some coffee so they can give Lydia and I time to pray about it.

The thing that God wants us to understand is that He wants to be involved in the minutiae of our life. He wants us to depend upon Him, even when it comes to signing contracts, making agreements with others, even in our friendships. There is nothing too small for you to depend upon, and nothing too small to trip you up.

The Challenge is to Walk by Faith and Not by Sight.

After listening to the strangers’ speech and examining the evidence, Joshua and his leaders concluded that the men were telling the truth. The leaders of Israel took the “scientific approach” instead of the “spiritual approach.” They depended on their own senses, examined the “facts,” discussed the matter, and agreed in their conclusion. It was all very logical and convincing, but it was all wrong. They had made the same mistake at Ai (chap. 7) and hadn’t yet learned to wait on the Lord and seek His direction.

Proverbs 3_56The will of God comes from the heart of God (Ps. 33:11), and He delights to make it known to His children when He knows they are humble and willing to obey.

We don’t seek God’s will like auto buyers considering different options, but like servants who listen for orders. “If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know” (John 7:17, TLB) is a basic principle for victorious Christian living. God sees our hearts and knows whether we are really serious about obeying Him. Certainly we ought to use the mind God has given us, but we must heed the warning of Proverbs 3:5-6 and not lean on our own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

The Rest of the Story

The story doesn’t end here. Soon someone spilt the beans and the Israelites discovered they had been duped. They immediately set out to find out if it was true.

Joshua 9:16-23 (ESV) At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”

WoodCutters and WaterBearersThe army wanted to wipe out the deceivers, but the leaders said no, we must honor our word or run the risk of receiving God’s wrath. They told them to let them live, and the army grumbled. But here is what they did. Since they said “we are your servants” they gave them what they said. From that day forward the Gibeonites, these mighty soldiers as we see in chapter 10, would be woodcutters and waterboys.

You say that was tough, that was mean. While it may be mean it certainly was wise on the part of Joshua and the leaders.

Remember how God had warned them that if they let any Cannaaites live they would become thorns in their side. They would draw their hearts away from God. Well, by making the Gibeonites wood cutters and water bearers, Joshua was making sure it did not happen that way.

The Death of the Wood Cross, The Living Water of the Word.

Satan wants to deceive us to get us away from God. The only way to maintain a heart that keeps true to God is to apply two things to it: The death of the Cross and the Living Water of the Word.

Wood is kind of scarce in Canaan. You have to work hard to get it. And yet wood was needed constantly for sacrifices. The wood was set on the altar and lit on fire to consume the sacrifices. The wood is a picture of the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is on the Cross that our mistakes, our sins have been nailed and forgiven. It is on the cross that we die to self, die to pride, and live to Jesus Christ.

Water was needed in daily worship. Water was needed to was the blood away, it was needed to cleanse people coming to worship. It was needed for life itself.

So too we must depend upon the Word of Life, the Word of Living Water that washes us and cleanses us and brings life to our spirit and soul.

Jesus Carried the Wood and Bears the Water of Life

Jesus Carried the Wood and the WaterWhen Joshua discovered their deception and confronted them, he said “Now therefore you are cursed”. But by making them woodcutters and water bearers, he was giving them a way to escape the curse of Satan.

By making them wood cutters and water bearers, Joshua was guaranteeing that they would constantly be exposed to the worship of this Awesome God, this Powerful God that they had expressed an interest in. Their hearts would become converted and cleansed by the sacrifices and the testimony of the Word!

We are going to make mistakes. We are going to get conned now and then. We are going to give into pride, into the flesh. But we must become servants to the wood and to the water. We must give our hearts and lives to the Cross and to the Word!

I encourage parents with children to enter into agreements when it comes to dating standards, driving standards, friend standards. Do it before the need arises, do it based upon what your child believes is reasonable. Involve them in the process, and then get them to agree to it, and sign on the dotted line. That way when they are tempted to do something they shouldn’t, you both can get out the agreement and say here- this is what we agreed upon, and here are the consequences.

God has a similar agreement with us. We really had no part in drafting it, but the consequences of disobedience are well stated. We call it the Law, the Ten Commandments. Most of us know most of them, but, don’t really give them much thought.

But I think we need to bring the Ten Commandments into the Age of Grace, and see them through the eyes of the woodcutters and water bearers.

Overcoming the Devil and the World With Heart Agreements:

Gueards against the Great ConHere is a modern application of the Ten Commandments:

1. “You shall have no other gods before me.” = The Bible is the Inspired Word of God and the final authority for my life.

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” = My purpose in life is to seek God with my whole heart and to build my goals around his priorities.

3. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” = My body is the temple of God and must not be defiled by the lusts of the flesh.

4. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” = My church must teach the foundational truths of the Bible and reinforce my basic convictions

Guards against the Con 25. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” = My children and grandchildren belong to God and it is my responsibility to teach them scriptural principles, Godly character, and basic convictions.

6. “You shall not murder.” = My activities must never weaken the Scriptural convictions of another Christian.

7. “You shall not commit adultery.” = My marriage is a life-long commitment to God and my marriage partner.

8. “You shall not steal.”  = My money is a trust from God and must be earned and managed according to Scriptural principles.

9. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” = My words must be in harmony with God’s Word, especially when reproving and restoring a Christian brother.

Guards against the Con 310. “You shall not covet” = My affections must be set on things above, not on things in the earth.

Blessing of the Water with the Cross

Hold the Cross Up HighEach year at Epiphany, the Greek Church performs the “Blessing of the Water”. An Orthodox priest throws a wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first toretrieve the cross. Along with Blessing the Water, the victor reeives a special blessing for good health all year long. Here the winner, Evaggelos Kargiofilis, holds up the wooden cross during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Greece’s northern port city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. He is holding high the Croos of Christ. He is living large in the Living Water.

Are you holding high the wooden Cross of Christ? Are you dying to self and living to Jesus your Lord? Are you Living Large by the Living Water? Only by bearing the cross and the water will you overcome the deception and wheedle’s of the devil and the world.

Are you zealous of God? Do you love Him with all your heart and soul and strength?

Is there anything in your life which you are putting before God? We make all kinds of compromises with the world, with our possessions, with our desires. We allow them into our lives, and before long, they have stolen our love for God.

1 John 2_15-17Do you desire the Cross above all? Do you desire the Living Water above all?

1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

If there is any love of the world in your heart, it robs you of your love for God. Any of these cravings of the flesh, of our eyes, of our boasting do not come for God, but is the great Con of the Devil. He is enticing your heart to make a leagu with him, and with his stuff. All this stuff is only for a moment. Only the man who does the will of God will live for ever.

The will of God is that you come to the Cross and carry the wood, that you die daily to the world, and live daily with a heart totally in love with God. That love leads you to the Living water of His Son, the word of God. Do you love Jesus this morning. Are you in love with His Word? Does He live in your heart and life?


mediocre livesWe need to grasp the amazing truth that God has made ME His dwelling place. David and most of the Old Testament saints sought to make God their dwelling place (Ps 91:9). They would never had considered even the thought that Jehovah dwelled within them. He was too awesome, too dreadful, too holy to dwell in human flesh.

1Corinthians3_16This is the wonder of grace. Because Jesus could dwell in human flesh and satisfy the wrath of God against our sin, we experience in REALITY what the Old Testament saints could only imagine. The veil is torn and now we not only have access to God through the blood of Jesus Christ, but Jehovah God Himself dwells in us. Paul exclaimed “Know ye not you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16).

God-Dwells-in-MeIf we fail to grasp this truth, that God dwells in us, we will live our lives in mediocrity, our behavior, our speech, our thoughts unmoved by His presence. Once we are awakened to this revelation, we will take the steps that the Corinthian church did, and remove those things that are unpleasing to the Holy Spirit. We will no longer accept a mediocre Christian life. The Spirit of God lives in me! His Holiness dwells in me! How will I walk and talk to show forth this truth to my friends and family? DO YOU SEE THE POWER OF THIS TRUTH? Kneel before the Father and ask that He reveal this life-shattering truth to your spiritual heart. May you see that God dwells IN YOU!

Prayer: Father, reveal this truth to my heart, that YOU LIVE IN ME! May I never accept a mediocre life, for YOU are so AMAZING!

From Pathway of Blessing


Fathers Men of GodBelieve it or not, God thinks Fathers are important. God will never allow test tubes to replace Fathers. Fathers are absolutely essential in God’s overall plan of providing an inheritance for His Son. We are in a tragic Cultural War, one which relegates the Father to the role of bumbling idiot. God sees Christian Fathers as a Fighters, Infantry Soldiers in the Battle for the Inheritance for His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Wish You Were Here”

Kendall Phelps will never forget the morning when a picture popped up on his computer in his Silver Lake, Kansas, high school classroom. There stood Chris, his oldest son, in desert camouflage in front of a bombed-out building in Baghdad. He was holding a sign written on the back of a discarded MRE carton: “DAD, WISH YOU WERE HERE. SEMPER FI!” Kendall, a retired Marine, rushed across the street to the elementary school where his wife, Sherma, teaches fourth grade. She had already received the same photo via e-mail and, in a spasm of giddy relief, was printing out copies to post at the church and all over town. Chris had not been heard from since just after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom a month earlier. Kendall’s elation that his son was all right momentarily erased his disappointment over not being in Baghdad himself. “Kendall is a Marine and a dad,” explains Sherma. “He could not stand it that he was not over there with Chris, fighting side by side, protecting his son.”

In January 2005, against all odds, Master Gunnery Sgt. Kendall Phelps, 58, and Maj. Christopher Phelps, 35, deployed to Iraq together for a seven-month tour in the newly formed 5th Civil Affairs Group based in Fallujah. Ever since the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, tragically died when their cruiser was sunk in World War II, the U.S. military has been reluctant to deploy immediate family members in the same company. No one can remember a Marine father and son serving together. The mission of the 5th Civil Affairs Group is to facilitate the reconstruction of Al Anbar province, an area riddled with suicide bombers and insurgents. Chris, a team leader, is working with the Iraqi police, firefighters and contractors on rebuilding the infrastructure. His dad will use his 30 years of teaching experience to help establish new schools. They both know it won’t be easy. “It will be hot and nerve-racking and people are going to die,” says Chris. “My buddies say civil affairs is the most dangerous job in the Marine Corps right now. But I also think it’s going to be gratifying to get that grid system up and water pumping.”

“When I asked him why,” says Chris, “he said, ‘I want to make a difference. I’m a Marine.’ For me, there were no more questions. I understood. As a Marine, you feel your time is never over.”

Christian Fathers, your time is never over. We are always at war, a war that impacts Eternity. God Needs us to make a difference. God needs us to be different. God needs us to focus on Eternity, on the inheritance for His Son.

An Army brat was boasting about his father to a Marine brat:

“My dad is an engineer. He can build anything. Do you know the Alps?” “Yes,” said the Marine brat. “My dad built them.”
Then the Marine kid spoke: “And do you know the Dead Sea?” “Yes.” “My dad killed it!”

The Fathers of Israel were Fighters. They were fighting to take possession of a land they could call their own. After centuries of wandering, being enslaved, they wanted to provide their families with a permanent home, a place they could settle down and start spreading roots.

Their Fathers Made the Wrong Decision

Their fathers before them had witnessed a mighty miracle in the parting of the red sea and the destruction of Pharoah’s army. They had witnessed the victory over the Amalekites. They had seen God miraculously provide manna from heaven, water from a rock. Yet their fathers failed to give their hearts and minds to the awesom God who worked these mighty acts. In fact their fathers all perished in the wilderness, as God told them they would. They were fighters, but failed to become Mighty Men of God because of their heart belief.

FightingFathersFaceDecisionNow the sons were fathers, and these fathers too were witnessing mighty acts of the awesome God known as Jehovah. They witnessed the mighty miracle of the parting of the Jordan River. They witnessed the walls of a mighty city fall down with just the blowing of Rams horns and shouting of God’s people. They shared in the foolish defeat at Ai, and then the mighty victory over both Ai and Bethel. Joshua knew that the time was right for turning these Fighting Fathers into Mighty Men of God. Only as Mighty Men of God would the total inheritance be claimed. SO Joshua led them to the Valley of Decision at Shechem.

BY NOW THE MESSAGE WAS RINGING LOUD AND CLEAR IN THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS. THEY MUST MAKE A DECISION, A DECISION THAT WAS TO MARK THE REST OF THEIR LIVES, A DECISION THAT WAS TO MARK THE LIVES OF THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. That decision involved their HEARTS.

THEIR FATHER’S FAILED TO HAVE A HEART BELIEF IN THE TRUE GOD

FathersWrongBeliefSystemWhen it came time for their fathers to make such a decision, here is what they said:

  • Exodus 24:3 (NASB) Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!”

In fact they said it again:

  • Exodus 24:7 (NASB) Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

But they were just mouthing words without embracing them in their hearts and lives. Look what happened a month or so later:

Exodus 32:1-6 (NKJV) Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Instead of obeying this awesome Jehovah who had done these mighty miracles, they fashioned their own god, and blasphemed the true God by saying this golden cow had led them from Egypt. Then they made an altar to this new god, and made sacrifices and feasted before their new god. Their fathers rejected the God of Creation and worshipped a god of their own making. As a result, many died that day, but they all died in the wilderness over the next 40 years.

Hearts_farfromGodTHEIR HEARTS WERE FAR FROM GOD:

Isaiah 29:13 (NLT) And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

JESUS SAW THE SAME IN THE PHARISEES:

Mark 7:6-7 (NLT) Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’

The Hebrews wanted a god they could see and follow, so they quickly abandoned the God of Moses for a golden calf. The God of Moses was invisible, powerful, but scary and impersonal. The Golden calf they had seen in Egypt, they could see it and admire it, it wasn’t scary, it was a lot of fun. They could be themselves around it. It wasn’t too demanding. Men are constantly fashioning gods they like, gods that fit their lifestyle. This is why Jesus came into this world, to show us that god is not found in something we make, something we do, or some place we attend. God is found in Jesus Christ.

JEWISH WORSHIP BECAME DEAD & IMPERSONAL -THE TRADITIONS OF MEN.

John 5_40 refuse to come to JesusBy the time of Christ, the Jews had made the worship of God an impersonal. Lifeless, burdensome affair. It did not require heart belief, only tedious attention to rules. Obeying tradition was enough to affirm you were a child of Abraham. Tradition alone was enough to give you the hope of God’s Blessing. So Jesus cried out on the steps of the Temple:

John 5:38-40 (ESV) and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

God desired His People to walk before Him in the Power of a Real Relationship with a Real and Living Eternal God. In order for that to happen they had to believe His Word Gives LIFE (BLESSING). Joshua had been charged by Moses to renew the people’s covenant with God as soon as they were able to in Canaan. Joshua was charged with making sure these Fighting Fathers gave their hearts over to God’s Way of Life.

HEART BELIEF SYSTEM

Heart Belief System1HeartBeliefSystem_2God realizes that our actions are influenced by our Heart beliefs. This Covenant is a foundational commitment to embrace the Sayings of God as our belief system. His expectation is presented in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. Embracing those beliefs marked the day that the Hebrews became the children of God most high.

The Day The Jews Became God’s Chosen People.

Day Jews Became Gods PeopleDeuteronomy 26:16-19 (NKJV) “This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.”

The Basis for them being the people of God was their HEART belief in God’s Belief System, as expressed in His Law. They were to walk in His ways, obey His statutes and commands, and listen and obey His voice. If they embraced God’s Belief System, He would set them high above all nations., and make them a holy people unto Himself.

The decisions we make as to Who’s word we follow and believe in will effect our life, our future, and our families future. It will effect our eternal inheritance. If say you will obey God, but don’t build your life upon and around His Belief System, your heart will be far from God. You will perish in the wilderness. You will not enter into His Rest, His inheritance. You may even go to church, tithe, pray, but your heart is far from Him. You do your own thing through the week because you don’t have His Belief System in your heart!

THE WINNING HEART BELIEF

Winning Heart BeliefIn order to become Winners, Conqueror’s of Canaan, these Fighting Fathers must embrace the Winning Heart Belief. So Joshua led these Fighter Father’s to embrace God’s Belief System. Here is how He did it: He Took them on a 20 mile march to Mt Ebal & Mt Gerizim.

COMMANDED BY GOD & MOSES

While Moses was still with the people, before they crossed the Jordan, it had been commanded that they should meet at Ebal and Gerizim when they came into the land. (Deut. 11:29-32) It had also been commanded by Moses (Deut. 27) how great stones should be set up in Mount Ebal and plastered with plaster and on them should be written all the words of the law – the Ten Commandments (R. 662) -very plainly. These very stones or others set up near by should form an altar on which sacrifices should be offered. Six tribes had been named which should stand on either mountain, and curses had been given which the Levites should recite to the people with a loud voice. To each curse the tribes on Mount Ebal should answer, Amen; and as blessings were recited, the tribes on Mount Gerizim should say, Amen.

MT EBAL AND GERIZIM

Gerizim Ebal AmphitheaterStanding by the altar, Joshua or the Levites read the law with a loud voice, and the people answered from the mountain sides. “Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of his way,” and from the people on Mount Ebal came, “Amen.” And so with other curses. And after each blessing, came “Amen” from the people on Mount Gerizim. It was very solemn and sacred, for the people were promising the Lord that they would keep His laws in the land that He was giving them.

The place appointed for this meeting is most remarkable. Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south stand facing each other. Shechem lies in the valley between as it slopes westward. At the highest point in the pass, east of Shechem, there is a hollow like an amphitheater in the face of each mountain. They seem made by nature for the tribes, six on either side. Joshua, with the elders, officers, and judges, stood by the ark, probably in the valley between. There he read the law, and the tribes from one side of the valley and the other responded to the blessings and the curses. You probably wonder how all those people were able to hear the words of Joshua. Wonder no more:

An article on bibleplaces.com refers to an experiment conducted in the 19th century by J.W. McGarvey, during his tour of the Holy Land . He describes how these two mountains face each other with their slopes being about one mile apart, with the Biblical city of Shechem lying between them. On the side of both mountains there is a deep semicircular recess, which form two natural amphitheatres, where voices can carry for considerable distances. For his experiment, McGarvey stood between the two mountains, in the place where the Levities and the people of Israel would have stood. He said that there would have been enough space for 600,000 Israelites and their families. One of his two companions climbed halfway up Mt. Ebal , and another climbed halfway up Mt. Gerizim . Each evidently stood within the two natural amphitheatres, where they could each represent six tribes for the blessing and the curse.

The author read the blessings and the curses, and his two companions responded with, “Amen”, as Moses had instructed. The companion on Mt. Gerizim could hear the author clearly, and his response could also be heard clearly. The companion on Mt. Ebal could hear the voice of the author, but had difficulty distinguishing the words because of trees and terracing on the mountainside, which affected the acoustics. McGarvey suggested that if Joshua had a loud voice, he could have easily been heard by the whole the whole people of Israel , even without the Levites repeating his words.

This experiment shows that God chose the best place in the land to conduct this ceremony of renewal of the covenant, so all the congregation of Israel could hear the words of the Law clearly, and agree to them. The natural amphitheatres do not work so effectively today because of recent building development, but still show clearly in photographs and aerial mapping.

blessingorcurse1Imagine the scene as over two million people responded to Joshua:

‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’
And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’ ‘
Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

joshua altarAccording to Deuteronomy 27-28, the altar was built on the mountain of cursing, Mount Ebal.  We need the covering sacrifice exactly at the point where our sin and failures are revealed and God’s curse is pronounced on our sin.

LIFE OR DEATH

There is a Principle that rings throughout the Bible, and we see it come to the forefront when Joshua leds these Fighting Fathers to renew their covenant with God. There is no middle ground with God, there is only Life or Death. And as far as God is concerned, you are either dead in sin, or dead to sin, but alive to God. There can be no life without death. You must die to sin and what you want, and Live to what God wants. It’s either God’s belief system or your whatever belief system you make up on your own. You chose what you want to have upon your life. On this day they were acknowledging the Power of God and His Word, His Belief System. They were embracing His Word for their lives, to be their belief system for life.

  • They were professing their death to the way of the world, the way of the flesh, and confessing that they were alive to the Life of God.
  • They were acknowledging the Rewards that come from Living unto God!
  • They were also acknowledging the  Penalties that come from turning you back on God’s Belief System.
  • That Word and how they obey it will determine either blessing or cursing upon their life, their children’s lives.

What Turns a Father into a Man of God?

What Makes a Father a Man of GodGod wants Fathers who will be Men of God, Men whose Hearts are firmly planted in God’s Word. Joshua’s actions revealed why God chose him to lead these Fighting Men to become Mighty Men of God. From his actions in JOSHUA 8:30-35, we see what makes a Father a Man of God.

Men of God Incorruptible1 Corinthians 9:25 (KJV) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Men of God are Sound2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (Self control, disciplined)

Titus 2:1-2 (NKJV) But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;

2 Timothy 1:13 (NKJV) Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Men of God are CompleteJames 1:4 (ESV) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Revelation 3:2 (ESV) Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

Men of God are SacrificialOur Eternal Father loved us so much that he gave the ultimate sacrifice-His Son.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

1 Peter 2:5 (NKJV) you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT

Fathers Renew You Commitment to GodFathers, every so often we need to renew our commitment to having God’s Belief System in our heart. We need to check out our heart to see who and what we love. We need to examine it for false god beliefs, selfish loves. DO WE LOVE OUR GOD? We need to see if we are still standing firm in one spirit with Jesus Christ, with one mind locked sude by side for the faith of the gospel of our Savior.

Lance Corporal Jeffry Nashton – Terrorist Attack 1983

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2008 – Twenty-five years ago, Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Nashton lay broken, burned and blind in a military hospital bed in Germany, the victim of a brutal terrorist attack that nearly killed him.

(a terrorist slammed a truck loaded with explosives into a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 23, 1983.)

Faithful Fathers Godly MenGeneral PXKELLEYGeneral P.X. Kelley, Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), went to the hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany to visit wounded Marines. One Marine, LCpl Jeffrey Nashton, USMC, was wired up for sound, covered by tubes, unable to speak, fighting to stay alive. The general came to pin on the Purple Heart. Nashton could not see or speak, and could barely hear. General Kelley knelt beside his bed, and Nashton reached out with his hand and rubbed over the general’s stars. Counting four, he managed a grin. He motioned for something with which to write. He received a pen and paper, and wrote, “Semper Fi,” and gave it to General Kelly. The general is reported to have wept.

Kelley would later send the four gold stars Nashton touched to Nashton along with a special commendation. You might recall I mentioned LCpl John L’Heureaux earlier who was working as a forward observer on the roof when it crashed down. He was in the bed next to Nashton when General Kelley came. Mike Toma, whom we mentioned earlier as one of the first to be rescued, was under the debris next to Nashton. A mutual friend, LCpl. Bill Sanpedro was dug out and flown to Germany, but died on the way.

lebanon PostAttackHNashton suffered a fractured skull, shattered cheekbone, eyebrow and right eye orbit, crushed arms, a broken left leg, bruised right leg, two collapsed lungs, burns on his arms and back, and internal bleeding, not to mention the psychological impacts. Incredibly he survived and returned to active duty in January 1984, just two months later.

The two Marines, now both retired, met again yesterday, this time on a grassy knoll under a clear, blue fall morning sky at Arlington National Cemetery’s section 59. The section is dotted with the white headstones of those who died in the terrorist attack.

Nashton, Kelley, and about 100 friends and family members, along with a handful of survivors, gathered at the cemetery for the White House Commission on Remembrance’s 25th annual tribute to the 241 Americans, mostly Marines, who died that day. The attack was part of a coordinated attack in which another suicide bomber crashed into a French military compound at the same time. Fifty-eight French soldiers died.

Faithful Men 2 Timothy2Nashton was one of three Marines in his unit to survive the attack that morning. His unit was part of the 1,800 Marines serving in Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping mission.

Kelley, who traveled to Beirut in the aftermath of the bombing, said he later took off the four stars that Nashton touched that day. He had them mounted in a shadow box inscribed with the Marine Corps motto, and he presented them to Nashton as he recovered at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“In my heart of hearts he deserved those four stars more than I did,” Kelley said.

SEMPER FIDELIS-ALWAYS FAITHFUL.  These words come from a heart belief, a belief that does not change regardless of the circumstance. Just as Chris said:

“When I asked him why,” says Chris, “he said, ‘I want to make a difference. I’m a Marine.’ For me, there were no more questions. I understood. As a Marine, you feel your time is never over.”

So too, Christian Fathers who have become Men of God because of their HEART BELIEF will be ALWAYS FAITHFUL. Their time is never over. Once you give your heart to God, there is no turning back. The battle for God’s inheritance will ever be before you.

SemperFiCling_largeMighty Fathers of God need to adopt the motto of Semper Fi. We need to be ALWAYS FAITHFUL to Jehovah God, and to His Son Jesus Christ. Semper Fi.


Ai Ai AiMy favorite Mexican song is Cielito Lindo. There is a line goes “Ay, ay, ay, ay canta y no llores Porque cantando se alegran, Cielito Lindo, los corazones” (ENGLISH: Ay, ay, ay, ay sing and don’t cry because singing will make happy, heavenly pretty, the hearts). It has a catchy tune, lifts my spirits, but when Joshua first heard about what happened at AI, he might have used different words: “AI AI AI AI, man we’ve got troubles! No pretty sky no singing wives will fill our heart with joy.”

Ai Ai GasaNot to make light of what happened at AI, but I find it interesting that there is a line of women’s designer clothes with Ai in their name. Ai Ai Gasa is a Brooklyn-based clothing line cut from recycled umbrellas. Umbrella’s are found, plucked, stripped, washed, cut and styled. Then they fashion them into puff-a-lump forms. (I wonder if they are water proof?)

Well, when Joshua heard the report of the defeat at AI, he probably felt as if he had been plucked, stripped, washed and cut. The wound went deep into his soul.

Joshua’s Reaction to Defeat

Joshua reacted to defeat of Ai“Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. (Joshua 7:6)

The MAAL MAAL

From the great victory of Jericho it was only a twelve mile journey for Israel to find defeat at AI. It was a stronghold of the ungodly Amorites. The scenery is beautiful, with mountains nearby. It was between AI and Bethel that Abraham pitched his tent and offered sacrifices to Jehovah God. Now it was a city full of debauchery, witchcraft and idol worship.

Israel did a maal maalWhat happened? Israel did a māʿal maʿal. Specifically Achan did a maal maal. Ezekiel 18:24 explains the maal maal principle: “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, (maal maal) and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” In almost all the biblical references māʿal is used to designate the breaking or violation of religious law as a conscious act of treachery. The victim against whom the breach is perpetrated is God.—TWOT

Achan broke faithAchan deliberately broke faith with God, but Joshua 7:1 indicates that when one is allowed to do it, they all shared in the breakage of faith.

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things; for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things; and the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel. (Joshua 7:1)

ACHAN SINNED (MAAL MAAL)

Achans downward descentNow we have all heard how Achan sinned. He got hooked by something he saw. Some beautiful garment caught his eye. It got him to thinking and desiring, and then he saw some silver and gold. So he took it. Sin always has a hook. Sin always has something to grab you with. With Achan the hook was how great he would look wearing the forbidden garment. With Eve it was how great the forbidden fruit would taste. With David it was how tantalizing it would feel to be with such a beautiful woman. With Esau it was how great the stew would taste when he was so famished.

Satan hooks us to break faithThere is always a Hook that Sin grabs us with. Successful salesmen look for something that will hook you. They watch your face to see how you react to different spiels. Drug dealers try to hook young people with freebies. Satan wants to hook us and lead us to make that decision to break faith. Achan did just that, but the Word of God says THAT ALL ISRAEL BROKE FAITH.

We realize that Israel was complicit in Achan’s sin when we analyze the reasons they suffered defeat at AI. God’s anger waxed hot, because He saw something in Israel that was going to cause problems down the road. They needed to learn a collective lesson if the Nation of Israel  was going to KEEP THE FAITH.

The victory at Jericho was fresh on the people’s minds as Joshua, being a good general, sent men to spy out the next strong city. But what is not mentioned is whether Joshua was in communication with the Captain of the Hosts as he was at Jericho. I believe the results indicate that he was not.

ai ai CaptainThe spies reported that Ai would be an easy prize. Three thousand men would be more than enough to  take this small village. Any more would be a waste of manpower. No problem they reported to Joshua. The problem is that Joshua listened to his spies instead of listening to the Captain of the Host. Instead of Joshua going to the Captain and requesting new orders, and saying “AI AI Captain”, he listened to his spies, and as a result ended up shouting “AI AI AI Have We Got Trouble!”

WHO YOU SAY AI AI TO OFTEN DETERMINES THE MESS YOU FIND YOURSELF IN.

I did not get my driver’s license until I was almost 17. It was February 1970, and I was driving my aunts 1959 Oldsmobile. My Dad had let me drive it to a Forensics tournament. On the way home the guys who were with me suggested stopping and getting some beer. I knew I shouldn’t do it, my dad had said strictly to drive there and back home ONLY. But I decided to go with the flow and let one of the guys buy some beer. When he got back in, everybody started drinking the beer (except me of course). Well, they were kidding around and somebody dropped a bottle on the backseat floorboard, and all 12 ouces of beer spilt out. Beer has a very distinct odor, and my car was full of it. I was yelling, we had nothing to clean it us with. It made a big mess. When I got home I tried to clean it up, but the smell was real strong. Needless to say my dad somehow figured out that I had spilled beer in my car and I got into serious trouble. When you say AI AI to the wrong people, it will lead to trouble.

Joshua found himself in serious trouble because he did not say “Ai Ai” to His Captain.

DEFEAT AT AI

“And the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.” Joshua 7:5

  • Even though the spies said they were few in number, the few was able to rout the many, and death was the result.
  • Few with God can turn the world upside down. Many without God can be as ineffective as a lifeless corpse. The difference is who is doing the fighting.

In this case, God wanted His people to learn a priceless lesson. This Lesson Involved The Ground Rules For Success In Living A Victorious Life. The Marching Orders for Success Mean Depending Upon God for EVERYTHING! Even Little Ai’s!

Most of us live a boring life. Sure, we fill our days with busyness, but for the most part our lives would never make an exciting reality TV show. Occasionally we may encounter a Jericho demanding an awesome display of God’s power, but most of the time we are facing little problems like AI. The problem with facing little problems is that we think we can handle them ourselves. We don’t bother God with the mundane, we figure He wants us to handle it on our own.

Lords PrayerThe Disciples were intrigued because Jesus seemed to pray a lot. Imagine, the Son of God prayed a lot. They said, Teach us to pray. What in our lives is so important that we should pray all the time? He gave them this simple prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever.

I don’t know about you, but daily bread is pretty mundane. Most of us don’t pray about grocery shopping. Most of us don’t pray about a pay check (unless of course you are out of a job). But the impact of the Lord’s prayer is that we need to pray constantly about the will of God in our lives, about His provision for our lives, about His deliverance (Victory) for our lives, and about His Protection for our lives. God wants to be involved intimately in our mundane, ho hum, boring everyday lives. God says that our lives make a really exciting reality show, and He wants to be the director!

The problem with living the Christian Life, is that when you deal with the mundane in your flesh, you are weakening your hearts love for God. You are weakening your FAITH walk and run the risk of getting weak hearted. Another way of saying weak hearted is hard hearted. A hard heart is a weak heart, for both are distant from the POWER of GOD!

As the result of failure in dealing with the mundane, the Israelites suffered a horrible defeat and Joshua records: “The hearts of the people melted and became as water.”

When we fail to have victory in the Mundane affairs of life, we lose faith, we lose our heart, we become weak as water. We become in our own mind too weak to fight our way out of a wet paper bag. Even the smallest defeat can lead you to despair to even questioning what God is doing with your life.

See The Cry Of Joshua And Listen To His Despair:

Defeat in little things causes despairHe fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the sun went down. He was bowed down with shame and sorrow. The success he had so recently gloried in was stripped from his memory; and the dark storm cloud of defeat threatened the whole host. The great cause of which he was the leader would fail unless this tide of defeat could be speedily rolled back and the cause of so great a disaster be discovered.

Why are Christians living defeated lives?

Defeated ChristianWhy do we spend most of our time in the wilderness valley instead of rejoicing on the mountain top? You say sin, not reading Bible, not going to church etc. But I believe that what Israel did is exactly the reason we are defeated. The reason we aren’t living victoriously is because WE are trying to do the living. God warned Israel of the danger of living our life in our own strength through the original Mudpreacher: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

This is what Achan and the Hebrews did to enter the Valley of Trouble and Defeat:

1.  Pride.

Pride goes before fallJust as the spies thought, we think. We live our daily lives thinking, “I can do this, no big deal. I know how to do my job, I know how to drive, I know how to budget, I know how to do most of the things I do to live.” So we aren’t in constant communication with the Captain. We don’t think we need His marching orders for how to eat a bowl of shredded wheat.  We figure God has the big stuff taken care of, we can handle the little stuff. Scripture states that by HIM ALL THINGS CONSIST!

The Victory of Jericho was because they had no confidence in their flesh. They had total confidence in God! We will only continue to have victory if we continue to have no confidence in the flesh. If we rely only on ourselves for the mundane, soon we start to think that everything we have accomplished is because of what we did.

Imagine a woodpecker working on a tree when lightning strikes and splits the tree in half. He goes over to his friends and says come see what I did. Totally impressed, they say, lets see you do it again. He starts to work on another tree and hours later, nothing has happened. He ignored the fact that a Greater Power than he was at work!

Our temptation when blessed so much is to think that we somehow are responsible for our situation. God warns: 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” The Proud heart will soon discover the Valley of Trouble.

2.  Presumption.

Presumption of victory Mohammed AliThey presumed that God was with them, that He would always be with them because they were His chosen children.

It’s not the Jerichos that defeat most Christians…it’s the Ai’s. We don’t get tripped up by the huge crises. It’s the little molehills that cause us to fall. We thought we could handle them. “No Problem”. Solomon wrote: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Songs 2:15)

In 1961 Boxing Champ Mohammed Ali was preparing to fight Joe Frazier.  He said, “There’s not a man alive that can whip me.  I’m too smart, I’m too pretty, I’m the greatest, I’m the king.  I oughta be a postage stamp…it’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.”

The next night Frazier beat his brains out.  Why?  Because there’s a difference between confidence and presumption. When we don’t look to God for every aspect of our life, we are just as guilty of presumption as the Hebrew’s.

There’s no power of Satan too great for us to overcome in the power of the Spirit of God…but there’s no power of Satan so small that we can overcome it in the power of our flesh.

Israel shared nationally in the guilt of Achan’s sin because of their pride and presumption…

3.  Prayerlessness.

PrayerlessnessJoshua didn’t pray about Ai.  He never consulted the Captain. Because as soon as he did get around to praying God showed him what was wrong. If he had prayed before God would have showed him the sin before and they would not have been defeated.  God has a prescription for America today, and we need to take it before it’s too late!

We do the exact same thing.  We wait  until we make a mess of things and then we go to prayer.  Prayer should be our first thought, not our last resort.  Most of our failures are prayer failures.  Prayerlessness opens our lives to providing a safe harbor for sin.

Pride is the father of presumption and the grandfather of prayerlessness. The Pride, Presumption and prayerlessness are seen in the life of Achan, the man whom you can say was responsible for the death of 36 fellow countrymen.

  • His pride led him to defy the direct Command of Joshua, not to take any of the cursed good of Jericho.
  • His presumption led him to keep his sin quiet and hide the contraband under his tent. He presumed no one would know, that his sin would go unpunished.
  • His prayerlessness led to the separation of his family and possessions from the inheritance of God. He and his family and all his possessions were tragically stoned and burnt.

We look at what happened and say that is so unfair! Look Achan confessed. He knew he had done wrong. Can’t you give him another chance? What about his family. They didn’t do anything wrong.

I will say it over and over until you realize the truth of God’s Word. This life that we have been given is a gift from God. Our lives are not about us and what we want and what God owes us. Our lives are about God and what He wants and what we owe God. God has given us everything. We owe our very existence to Him. Our existence is about His inheritance, what He is giving His SON. If we refuse to follow His Son, if We refuse to follow God and depend upon God, then we will get whatever we deserve.

God’s mercies are new every morning, but His Law will exist for all eternity. If Achan had simply obeyed at Jericho, he would have been able to take spoil from Ai. He simply couldn’t wait. He had to be in charge. When we choose to be in charge of our lives we are an enemy of God. We are robbing God of His inheritance.

Achan loses his inheritanceEven though Achan confessed, his deliberate sin caused the loss of the inheritance of his family. The servants who stoned the prophets and killed the son of the vineyard owner were cast into outer darkness for eternity. The choices you make in this life will vibrate on the chords of eternity. You are either following God in claiming His inheritance, or you are robbing God of His inheritance. You make the choice. You have no one to blame. When you allow pride and presumption and prayerlessness to run your life, you are influencing you family, your descendants. You are working to rob them of their inheritance.

If you want to live in Victory, you must depend on the leadership of God for every aspect of your life. God is Captain of all of your life or he isn’t your captain at all. You have no one to blame but yourself. The entire nation of Israel suffered because of one man’s sin. Yet his sin exposed their sin. God had to set things aright, which is the meaning of mishpat (JUSTICE). He did that by destroying the inheritance of Achan.

What have you traded your inheritance for? Esau did it for a bowl of pea soup. Achan did it for a fancy garment and some silver and gold. Judas did it for 30 pieces of silver.

What is your pride? What presumptions guide your life? Are you in constant communication with the Captain?

You will find yourself crying “AI AI AI What trouble I’m in”, when you are not daily saying “AI AI Captain”.

OUR STORY DOES NOT STOP AT DEFEAT, JUST AS THE BELIEVER’S LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO WALK IN DEFEAT!

FOCUS ON THE VICTORY

Running and looking unto JesusHere is the amazing thing about God. God always want us to focus on the Victory. He never wants us to brood over our defeats. He wants us to be Hebrews 12:1&2 Christians. He wants us to see the great cloud of witnesses who have shared in the Victory of the Risen Christ. He wants us to see them waving their arms, cheering us on. He wants us to lay aside the sin and the weights that try to trip us up. He wants us to FOCUS on Jesus, because He is the one who began our faith walk and He will finish our faith walk! God is faithful! God is true! God wants us to GET UP and say AI AI Captian! Instead of looking at ourselves and our Pride, God wants us to Focus on the Jesus and His Promises

4.  Promises Instead of Pride

It’s one thing to suffer a defeat, but it’s quite another to let that defeat define your life. God wasn’t going to stand for a defeatist attitude. He IMMEDIATELY SAID:  “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? (Joshua 7:10)

God says to all Christians walking in defeat:

Focus on the PromisesSTAND UP STRAIGHT, BRUSH OFF YOUR CLOTHES, WASH YOUR FACE, BRUSH YOUR TEETH, START ACTING LIKE MY SON! START ACTING LIKE I AM IN YOU! (Christ in You, the Hope of Glory!) Then he told Joshua to take care of the problem.

Sometimes we need to search our hearts, sometimes we need to examine our walk. But we are never meant to stay there. We are never meant to brood over our mistakes. God is God of the Living. God is God of the Inheritance. Christ lives in each of us and Jesus Christ is not a Loser. He has never known defeat. Even in death He is the Victor!

God tells Joshua to focus on the Promise and Power of God. Say “AI AI CAPTAIN!”

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. (Joshua 8:1 (NIV)) I have given you the victory. You Just need to learn to rely on me!

When we strip away our pride and confess our sin, when we humble ourselves before Almighty God, He lifts us up, brushes us off and say “NOW COME ON AND ENJOY MY VICTORY THAT IS WAITING FOR YOU!”

5.  Follow God’s Plan instead of Presuming

Follow Gods PlanThen the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.” Joshua 8:1-2 (NLT)

God has a plan, he always does. That Plan is us becoming like Christ. “For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) God has a plan of victory already marked out for us. We simply get up each day and say, “Captain, here I am reporting for duty! What are my orders today?” When He tells you, you snap to attention and salute saying “AI AI CAPTAIN!”

Joshua followed the Captains plan to a T. They laid the ambush out, and at the time appointed he held out the javelin banner, signaling the other men to burn the city. Joshua kept the javelin raised high, until the inhabitants were slain, the victory assured. In Man’s plan, they suffered a horrible defeat by a tiny foe. In God’s Victory, they got a bonus city-Bethel. When God is allowed to work He always does more than we even expect or imagine. That is the Power of God when we follow His plan!

6.  Prayer and Worship instead of Prayerlessness

“At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal.”(Joshua 8:30) Joshua had all the people offer sacrifices to God. They worshipped, they prayed. They acknowledged their total dependence upon Him!

Prayer and Worship by JoshuaHave you allowed pride and presumption to lead you into a prayerless powerless defeated life? Is God not a part of your daily life? Are you not following the Captain even in the mundane things of life? Do you think you’ve got it handled. You are setting yourself up for defeat. You will encounter your Ai.

The Captain of the Host stands at the door of your life, and He says open up. I have so many Promises for your life. I promise with me as your Captain you will have victory. You will drink from a fountain and never be thirsty. I have so many Plans for your life, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. You just need to say AI AI each and every day, no matter how boring you think things are. You need to make me part of your everyday life. You need to communicate with me, pray with me, worship me. I came to give you an abundant life! But you must abide in me!

The Choice is yours. You can live your life as your own boss, but one day you will cry out “Ai Ai Ai Ai Have I Got Trouble!”

Valley of HopeBut God Promises, if you seek Him, he will turn the valley of trouble into a place of feasting and rest. “The Valley of Achor (will be) a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me.” (Isaiah 65:10)

He promises to turn the valley of trouble into the door of HOPE, and to give you abundant vineyards. “And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” Hosea 2:15

When you say “Ai Ai Captain”, he turns the valley of Trouble into the Valley of Hope and Blessing!



Jesus holding childIn Revelations we see a Jesus much different from the Jesus pictured in the Gospels.

“The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.” Revelation 1:14-15 (ESV)

Gospels Revelation
Savior King
Love Majesty
Gird about His Waist (for Service) Gird about His chest (for War)
Mild Eyes (Melt a fishing Peter) Fiery Eyes (Strike John Down)
Gentle Voice (Calls His sheep) Terrible Voice (Sound of roaring waters)
Mouth – Gracious Words of Life Mouth – Two Edged Sword strikes death
Feet – dusty from seeking sinners Feet – polished bronze prepared for judgment

Jesus as pictured in Revelation 1

CHRIST IS OUR COMING KING AND JUDGE

To know Jesus as the Lamb of God and Savior of the world is needful. But let us never forget that Christ is our coming King, coming to judge the world. When we see Him as Savior, we declare “How Lovable” and embrace Him. When we see Him as Coming King, we cry “How Horrible” and fall at His feet.king of kings lord of all

While it is our love He seeks, it is our Reverence and Worship that He will demand. “Every knee will bow, every tongue confess.” Do you know the True Christ, our Coming King and Judge? Will you be ashamed at His coming because He is not your Lord?Kneel salvation

Prayer: Father, allow me to see your Son as My King. May I worship before His majesty as I confess Him Lord of my life.

From: Pathway of Blessing