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?

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