Archive for the ‘Joshua’ Category


Battle is the LordsFollow me to glimpse a scene where we find a teenager too young to enlist in the Army. He is bringing a care package for his brothers when he witnesses a disturbing sight. The entire Army of mighty men is cowering in fright because of one enemy soldier. The taunting of one enemy soldier has brought the Army of God to their knees in fear. Then this young boy gets riled up and wants to fight this enemy soldier. He goes out to face him, and the enemy soldier known as Goliath makes fun of the young boy. “Am I a dog that come at me with sticks”

This young boy called David makes an amazing statement that we would be well to understand:

David warns Goliath1 Samuel 17:46-47 (NKJV) This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

The Battle Belongs to the Lord! The Battle Belongs to the Lord. Petra sings a song:

In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land
The battle belongs to the Lord
No weapon that’s fashioned against us shall stand
The battle belongs to the Lord

Mine Eyes Have Seen the ComingAs we celebrate Independence Day, our Journey through Joshua brings us to Joshua 10, providing us a glimpse at the longest day in the history of this world. At the end of that hard day of fighting we can well imagine Joshua and his men breaking out in this song:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

Our God is Marching On

Moses God El GibborJoshua 10 reveals the truth that we had better learn to grasp in our life, the truth that David learned even in his youth, a truth that America used to embrace: The Battle is The Lord’s. We can say God is Loving and merciful and forgiving, but unless we realize that God is El Gibbor God the Mighty Warrior, we will never truly understand the nature of God.

We first see God called El Gibbor in Deuteronomy 10:17. Moses in Deuteronomy 9 & 10 is preparing His people for their crossing into the promised land. He is reminding them of all God has done over the past 40 years. The way He miraculously delivered them from Egypt and how he sustained them in the desert wilderness. He recounts how God gave him the 10 commandments, not once, but twice. He reminds them of His covenant with them and how they must submit and not be stiff-necked. For the Lord our God is God of Gods and Lord of Lords, MIGHTY (Gibbor) and Awesome. (Deut 10:17)

Battle is the Lords MosesWhen Israel started to stray from the Lord after they had entered the promised land, Judges 2:15 reveals “Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.”

If America does not return to our Confession and Belief in “One Nation Under God” we run the risk of finding ourselves fighting against God and suffering defeat in our battles, causing great distress here at home. This may already be the case as you examine the results of our battles since the Vietnam War.

One Nation Under GodThe Battle is the Lord’s and God is always on the winning side. God is the winning side.

When we get in step with El Gibbor, we will find that He is the Mighty Warrior, and no foe, no problem, no obstacle is too great for Him to defeat.

  • MOSES Declared to the Hebrews “…Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”     [Exod 14:13,14]
  • MOSES told Joshua: “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle…let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deuteronomy 20:1-4
  • Deborah told Barak:  “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.”
  • Jonathon told his armor bearer: 1 Samuel 14:6 (NLT) “the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
  • Jahaziel the son of Zechariah told King Jehoshaphat: [2 Chronicles 20:15] “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
  • David wrote: [Psalms 24:7-10]  Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!
  • Solomon wrote: [Proverbs 21:31] The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
  • King Hezekiah said this about the King of Assyria: [2 Chronicles 32:8] With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”
  • Isaiah wrote: [Isaiah 42:12-13] Let the whole world glorify the Lord; let it sing his praise. The Lord will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies.
  • King Asa Cried Out: “LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.”   II Chronicles 14:11
  • Paul wrote: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ… II Corinthians 2:14

This world thinks they can beat Him, in fact they shout that He is dead, He is asleep, He’s just an old man. Powerless, sitting in the rocking chair, but oh no, El Gibbor is still His name!

Psalms 2:1-6 (NLT) Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”

We See the Awesome Power of El Gibbor in Revelations, where God reveals the Final Chapter:

John Jesus Coming Warrior KingThe Apostle John knew Jesus as his Loving Savior, but when He saw Jesus as the Coming Judge, the Coming King, the Coming Warrior, John fell at His feet as though dead. God is indeed EL GIBBOR, our mighty warrior, and we need to fall at His feet daily and confess our need for Him to Fight the battles that we face.We need to make sure our enlistment papers are in order, that our service record is clean , and our duty roster has been performed. He is the Mighty Warrior, and we want to be on His Winning side.

  • Revelation 16:14 (NLT) They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty.
  • Revelation 16:16 (NKJV) And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
  • Revelation 16:21 (NKJV) And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
  • Revelation 19:11-21 (NKJV) Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Isn’t it encouraging to know how the story ends? Sometimes we get so down because of the struggles we are facing that the power of God seems as a fable. But let’s see what the Lord wants us to grab hold of. Travel back with me to a day almost 3400 years ago. A War is being waged, a war of Righteousness, a GOD WAR that will determine the homeland for God’s Chosen people, the Jews. Joshua and his men have made a league with the Gibeonites, a league which obligates them to defend them if the need arises. Joshua 10 finds the Need Arising, and arising suddenly.

The Canaanite Strategy

Five Kings War on GibeonNow it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. (GIBBORIM) Joshua 10:1-2 (NKJV)

The men of Gibeon, who were great warriors (gibboriym), knew that YHWH was Israel’s shield and defender. The Gibeonites called upon the name of the Lord, and sent word to Joshua. The King of Jerusalem despised what the Gibeonites had done. This peace treaty was a sign of weakness to the Canaanites, and if not punished, would encourage other people to capitulate to the Jewish forces. So the King of Jerusalem Adoni Zedek, decided to act. This alliance could not be tolerated.

Gibeons Plead for HelpThe Gibeonites were known as the Gibborim, Mighty warriors. Their treaty by deception was a sign that the Jews were superior in force. Adoni Zedek, the king of Jerusalem reasoned that the best way to defeat Israel was to attack Gibeon. This would put Israel and YHWH to the test. Would Israel fight to defend its new ally when the Israelites themselves had wanted to kill the Gibeonites because of their act of deception? Would YHWH actually fight for a Hivite tribe like the Gibeonites, who were destined for destruction? Such an attack by the five kings would also make Gibeon an example to all those other Canaanite tribes and cities who may have been considering defecting to the Israeli cause. It was a WIN WIN decision.

So, we read in verses 3-5, “Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.”

The coalition of five Amorite tribes now begins to take shape as Adoni-zedek, recruits Amorite soldiers from four other city/tribes. These five kings will form an alliance and together attack the Gibeonites. A combined Canaanite army soon marched on Gibeon and surrounded the city, laying siege.

God Wants to Show His Power

Joshua to the RescueLittle did Adoni-Zedek know he was doing exactly as God wanted. This would work for quick victory for Joshua and his men. Instead of having to attack five separate cities at five separate times, God got the five kings to assemble together out in the open, where they were easy prey for Joshua’s men. That Adoni-zedek’s plan put the new Israeli-Gibeonite peace treaty to the test becomes clear in verse 6.

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”” Joshua 10:6 (NKJV)

When Joshua entered into a treaty with Gibeon, the Israelites pledged to defend Gibeon, even as the Gibeonites pledged their loyalty to YHWH and his covenant mediator, Joshua. When the Amorite coalition moves against Gibeon, the Gibeonites invoke their treaty with Israel with great urgency–the phrase “don’t forsake your servants” really means something like “please don’t abandon us!” In effect, the message to Israel from Gibeon was hhhheeeellllpppp!

Joshua Responds

Joshua  knew he had to honor his word, but before he left, he checked in with the Captain. The Captain of the Host said: Don’t hesitate Joshua, for I have already won this battle. They are as good as dead.”

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. Joshua 10:7-9 (NKJV)

So Joshua assembled the warriors, and his mighty men of Valor, and went on a forced all-night march up the foothills to Gibeon. It was 25 miles, it was uphill from the plains of Gilgal, but the army made it before dawn and was able to come upon the forces in a surprise attack.

Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. Joshua 10:9-10 (NLT)

Joshua Pursues Five KingsWhen we read that “the Lord threw them” (the five Amorite kings), “into a panic,” we should notice that this has a two-fold reference. The first thing indicated by the passage is that the LORD was with Joshua in such a way that he blessed Joshua’s surprise attack. When the armies of Israel show up unexpectedly and in force, the Amorites obviously panicked at the sight of Joshua’s men where they had not expected them. Since the Lord works through means, this is, in part what caused the Amorite panic. Yet God gets all the credit, giving Joshua wisdom and his men strength to fight the battle after marching all night. Joshua’s men totally defeated this Amorite coalition, driving them down the important trade route (the “way of ascent”) as far as Makkedah which is another twenty miles or so. No doubt, Joshua and the soldiers of Israel fought brilliantly and bravely. The Amorite army was in full retreat. Joshua’s training of the army and his tactics are superb, but without God’s blessing this victory would not have happened. God also directly intervened, sending a powerful hailstorm which killed more Amorites than did the Israelite soldiers. The very fact that the Amorite armies fled so far so fast is indicative of the shear panic that went through the ranks. Not only did the Israelite army outmaneuver the Amorite armies catching them by complete surprise, but a sudden hailstorm killed many, as soldiers caught out in the open facing gigantic hailstones would have no place to find shelter. This time it was the Amorites who broke and ran. After this amazing victory, no one in Canaan would remember Ai. It was clear to all that God was on Israel’s side. While not yet complete, the victory was stunning. God is the LORD. He is Israel’s shield and defender and gives his people the victory.

You see, battles are a reality in the life of the child of God, but we never have to face them alone,

Heb. 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”; In the day of battle, we have the promise of help from One Who is “an ever present help in a time of need”, Psa. 46:1.

Our lives will be filled with battles. However, these battles are not simply physical battles, neither are they battles with other people. Our battles are spiritual battles, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph 6:12. Therefore, our weapons must be spiritual as well. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) ” 2 Cor 10:4.

To Find the Spiritual Truth of Joshua 10 we must Realize the Following:

Gods Peace is Ours1.God’s Peace is Ours

  • Vs 8 Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands;
  • Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands Vs 8.
  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
  • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace … take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
  • For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
  • And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Colossians 3:15
  • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.No matter the battle, the struggle, the testing, a child of God can experience the peace of God that surpasses human ability and understanding. 2 Timothy 1:7

Does God ever worry? Does God ever get anxious? Is ANYTHING too hard for God? Is this world too much fro God to deal with? Does He sulk in the corner of His room wringing his hands saying O NO What am I Going to DO? Peace is the confident assurance that God is in control. We have no need to fear if we believe God is in control.

Gods Promises are Ours2.God’s Promises are Ours

  • I have given them into your hands. Joshua 10:8
  • But thanks be to God, who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
  • No, in all these things we are more than CONQUERORS through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
  • COUNT IT ALL JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, James 1:2-3

Gods Power is Ours3. God’s Power is Ours

When El Gibbor is leading the way, He provides amazing power. Nothing is too hard for him.

1.  Super Strength

He Gives Joshua’s army strength to battle even though they have been on an uphill march all night.

Gods Power - Super Hail2.  Super Hail

  • Job 38:22-23 (ESV) “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?
  • Revelation 16:21 (ESV) And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

3.  Super-Natural Power

Gods Super Power Sun Stands StillJoshua says to God in front of all Israel: Joshua 10:12 (ESV) “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”God performed the greatest act imaginable. God stopped the earth from spinning anto allow the daylight to continue 12 more hours.

a) This is the language of observation. (We all speak of the sunrise and the sunset. We do not use technical, scientific language to describe the things we observe all around us.) Very literally, the sun hung at the zenith of the sky for about a whole day!

b) Ancient history supports this claim. (The Chinese, the Babylonians, The Incas, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and other ancient cultures all record the existence of a long day, which occurred about this time.)

c) The calendar supports it. Using an ancient Chaldean calendar system, which was built around lunar and solar eclipses, it is possible to count forward to this day and find that this day fell on Tuesday July 22. However, if we count backward, using our system of reckoning days, we will find that this event happened on July 22, a Wednesday. Is there a problem? No, just the fact that an entire day is missing either way you go. Verse 13 tells us where that missing day went!

d) Some will surely counter, “But mudpreacher, this violates all the laws of nature!” I want to remind you that there are no laws of nature! There are only the laws of God which govern nature! We need to remember Who made this world. If He can create it, then surely He can control it!)

e) The bottom line is this, God wanted these people destroyed, so He did what He could do to see they finished the job. God gave them all the daylight they needed to get the job done!

Power to Proclaim GospelWhat does this mean for you and me? If you expect God’s Power to help you work harder or golf better or play football better, drive longer, drive faster, you are going to be disappointed. God promises His power to do the Job He has appointed for you.

  • With Joshua, it was getting rid of the evil people so they could take over Canaan as God’s Inheritance.
  • With you and I, it is in providing an inheritance for His Son.

There is Super Power given to those who PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL.

  • Luke 24:49 (ESV) And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
  • Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Power to Live Victorious LifeThere is super power given to live a VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE as a witness to others.

  • Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
  • Ephesians 3:16, 20  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being… Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Power for Hope in Times of DiscouragementThere is Super Power to give you hope in times of DISCOURAGEMENT

  • Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:4  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Now there may be times when God shows his supernatural power in your life, but it will always be for the purpose of your witness and His testimony. It will never be for your own personal use or personal profit or personal boasting. God has the power to free people from drugs, from sexual bondage, from homosexuality, from anger, from bondage to sin habits. Sometimes that freedom comes in a flash, yet even on this long day, a day of amazing displays of God’s power, there were thing’s that required decisive human effort, effort that took time and human energy.

The PEACE, PROMISES AND POWER of God is Manifested in our Lives in the Following 4 Ways:

Power to Prevail1.  Power to Prevail

Joshua 10:19-20 (ESV) Pursue your enemies; attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.” When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities,

We have to align ourselves with God in order to battle enemies and trials and temptations. These battles will require a commitment on our part to do what we must to see the victory.

  • Elisha had to lay aside everything in order to follow after Elijah.
  • Peter, even with his failures, had to lay aside his selfish desires in order to feed the people.
  • Paul had to lay aside his Jewish training in order to pursue after Jesus Christ.

Joshua and his men could not content themselves with the men killed at Gibeon. They had to keep on pursuing them until they were ALL killed.

You cannot be content with going half-way for God. You must commit to going all the way, even as far as makkedo. You must cleanse your life of all the enemy, all the world. It must be a relentless pursuit for your life. Paul said I keep my body under, I buffet my body like a boxer beats his foe.

Power to Control2.  Power to Control

And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them,Joshua 10:17-18 (ESV)

Learn to Control the Enemy

In order to be mighty men and women of God, we must have hearts that are in love with God. Our hearts must be given to God. Our hearts must be undivided in our devotiuon to God. Satan and this world wants to steal your hearts affections. It wants to divide your hearts love. We must capture every imagination of our heart that exalts itself against God. We must set sentries at the door of our heart to keep the enemies at bay.

  • Guard the Heart for Out of it are the Issues of Life
  • Picture Your Heart as a Living Thinking Organ with Various Gates and Chambers
  • Each Gate Must Have a Guard Watching It.
  • The Sentries are the Powerful, Living Rhemas of God.
  • If you have heart guards of precise Scriptures standing at the doors of your heart, you will be able to take captive every thought and temptation.
    • Jesus Demonstrated This.
  • Before Nehemiah rebuilt the walls, the enemies came and plundered the people at will.
  • When Nehemiah began his Rebuilding Program there was Much Opposition
  • Nothing Stopped him from Securing the City and Placing Guards at the Gates.
  • Scriptures Guard Your HeartYou Should Memorize Scriptures in Order to Challenge and Reject Every Wrong Thought that Approaches Your Heart.

Guard your Heart with the Word

Unlocked Gate Destroys HeartIf you fail to guard the gates of your heart…The Tragedy of the Un-Locked Gate of Constantinople…

The Turkish frontal assaults on the walls were all repulsed with heavy casualties and the Turkish attempts to undermine the walls were all countered and abandoned. Mehmed’s offer to lift the siege, if he was given the city, was rejected. On 22 May, the moon rose in eclipse prophesying the fall of the city and a few days later Constantine received news that no Venetian relief fleet was coming. After midnight of the 29, the Ottoman army attacked the walls. The first wave of irregulars was thrown back. The second Turkish wave of Anatolians managed to breach the Blachernae section of walls. The defenders pushed back the Anatolians and managed to hold out against the Sultan’s elite Janissaries. During the fighting, the Genoese commander, Giovanni Giustiniani was fatally wounded and retreated to his ships with his men. The Emperor and his men continued to hold off the Turks until the Turks discovered an unlocked gate upon which they flooded into the city. Constantine reportedly fell leading a charge against the invaders, though his body was never found. The last defenders were subdued and the Turks proceeded to loot the city.

This battle marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, an empire which had lasted for over 1,100 years. The city’s fall was a massive blow for Christendom. Pope Nicholas V ordered an immediate counter-attack, but his death soon after marked the end of the plan. Mehmed made Constantinople his capital and proceeded to conquer the last two Byzantine states, the Despotate of Morea and the Empire of Trebizond. Many Greeks fled the city and migrated to other parts of Europe, in particular Italy. This move is thought to have helped fuel the Renaissance. The Fall of Constantinople is seen by some scholars as being a key event in leading to the end of the Middle Ages, and some mark the end of the Middle Ages by this event.

Power to Confront3.  Power to Confront

Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” Joshua 10:22-25 (ESV)

God Gives Us The Power To Confront Our Enemies

Notice that after the battle had been won, Joshua came back to that cave and brought these kings out and humiliated them by having his princes place their feet upon their necks. He confronted them openly and publicly pronounced the victory over them.

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

Four ministers were admitting their secrets sins one day.
1st – battled lustful thoughts and desires
2nd – struggled with gambling
3rd – had a secret addiction to alcohol
4th – could hardly wait to leave. His sin was gossip.
We may laugh at the story but the problem of “secret” sins is no joke. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Of all sinners the man who makes a profession of religion and yet lives in iniquity is the most miserable.”

Power to Conquer4.  Power to Conquer

Joshua 10:26-28 (ESV) And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day. As for Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Reckon Your Enemies as Dead

  • Romans 6:11 (KJV) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

It all boils down to who’s will has the priority in your life: your’s or God’s. Which is it for you? How does one do this? “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Cor 10:5

Eventually, the battles of life will be over, the long day will be finished and we who are saved will go home to Heaven to rest in that glorious place. In the meantime, however, there are enemies and there are battles that must be fought. We can either fight them with our own weapons and LOSE, or we can fight them the way the Lord has shown us and WIN. Which would you rather have: defeat or victory?

I don’t know what you are fighting today, but I know Who can help you with that battle. Bring that thing to Jesus and let Him get you safely through the fight.

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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?


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!


Walls Came tumbling down“Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho Jericho; Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.”

walls came tumbling down2Do a Google search on “the walls came tumbling down” and you get everything from Martin Luther King and the fall of racial barriers, the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism, Madonna dumping the Record Industry for a 120 Million dollar deal with Live Nation, to the song by Def Leppard. Evidently God doesn’t know how to make His miracles pop up first in the Google search engine. No matter, regardless of popularity on search engines, GOD IS IN THE DEMOLITION BUSINESS. WHEN YOU NEEDS WALLS AND STRONGHOLDS TORN DOWN, CALL 1-800-WALLFALL

Jericho AncientJericho was a massive walled city for 1400 BC. Considered impenetrable, unbridgeable. They had a spring inside the walls for water. They had just completed the barley harvest so food was plentiful. Joshua 6:1 says the city was shut up inside and outside. They were anticipating a long siege. Then the Lord says something astounding to Joshua in verse 2: “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.” The walls had already come tumbling down in the mind of God! Joshua couldn’t see it! That is Faith-seeing the invisible, seeing the impossible!

GOD CHALLENGES US TO BELIEVE THE IMPOSSIBLE!

God challenge believe impossibleIn order to Claim our Inheritance and Rest in God, we have to tear down Walled Strongholds! Have you ever looked at something in your life and wondered how you were going to get through it? Have you ever encountered a wall in a relationship, in your family, at work, in church, in life? Walls are Strongholds.

WALLS  CAN STOP US.

Job 19:8 (ESV) He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths.

Numbers 22:24-26 (ESV) Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again. Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left.

Walls are dangerousWALLS CAN HURT US

1 Samuel 18:10-11 (ESV) The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

WALLS CAN SHAME US

1 Samuel 31:8-10 (ESV) The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.

WALLS CAN LEAD US TO SIN

2 Kings 3:27 (ESV) Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

WALLS CAN HIDE SIN & ABOMINATIONS

Ezekiel 8:7-13 (ESV) And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

WALLS CAN LEAD TO IMPRISONMENT

Lamentations 3:7 (ESV) He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;

WALLS CAN DESTROY FRIENDSHIPS & FAMILIES

Proverbs 18:19 (NLT) An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.

WE BUILD STRONGHOLDS BY PRIDE

Amos 6:8 (ESV) The Lord God has sworn by himself, declares the Lord, the God of hosts: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

HOW DO WE REACT TO WALLS & STRONGHOLDS:

IGNORE OR WHITEWASH IT

React to StrongholdsEzekiel 13:10-16 (ESV) Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God.

TRY TO GO AROUND IT

The enemy, the problem is still there. They are always strategically placed. They will trip you up in the future. If it is a stronghold of hidden sin, it will be revealed. Your Sin will come to Light

TRY TO DEAL WITH IT YOUR IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH

Look at what happened at AI. Look at what happens when you try in your own strength to kick a habit, or struggle with a problem sin. Even Paul discovered that self effort is futile (Romans 7)

TO CLAIM GOD’S INHERITANCE, WE MUST DEAL WITH THE STRONGHOLDS.

Strongholds rob inheritanceStrongholds will rob us of our inheritance. One of the greatest example of generational strongholds was conducted in 1900.  A.E. Winship tracked down fourteen hundred of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards a pastor and university president and Max Jukes, he published his study of the Edwards children in contrast to the Jukes children. (From a Study JUKES-EDWARDS: A STUDY IN EDUCATION AND HEREDITY BY A.E. WINSHIP, LITT.D. HARRISBURG, PA.: R.L. Myers & Co.1900.)

Jonathan Edwards:  Born 1703

A man of God and married to a woman of like character. He was 24 and she was 17. On their wedding night they committed their marriage to the Lord. Their descendants included: 300 clergymen – some missionaries and theological professors. 100 professors. 100 attorneys. 30 judges, 1 dean of a law school. 60 physicians, 1 dean of a medical school. 3 mayors of large cities. 60 authors of fine classics. 14 presidents of universities. 3 State Governors. 1 Controller of the US Treasury. 1 Vice-President of the USA.

Max Jukes:  Born 1700

A non-believer, who married a woman of like character. She lacked principle, among other indecencies, including the occult. Of their 1200 descendants –  310 were professional vagrants. 440 wrecked their lives through debauchery. 130 went to jail – 7 for murder, average sentence: 13 years. More than 600 became alcoholics. 60 were habitual thieves. 190 became public prostitutes. 20 became tradesmen, 10 of whom learned their trade in prison. That descendancy cost the state of New York $1,250,000. 

TO CLAIM THEIR INHERITANCE: THESE MEN HAD TO TEAR DOWN STRONGHOLDS

  • Jacob: Had to meet Esau
  • Jesus: Went to Samaria, Healed Gentiles, had to go to the Cross.
  • The disciples Fear was met head on by the Holy Spirit. In the face of persecution they said “we must obey God rather than man.

Tear down StrongholdsStrongholds of quarrels, pride, and selfishness will rob the church of God’s inheritance if not MET HEAD ON!

Paul: Euodia & Syntyche: Philippians 4:2-3 (NLT) Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.

Apostle John: Going to confront Diotrephes. 3 John 1:9-10 (NLT) I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.

HOW GOD DEALS WITH WALLS: DIVINE POWER

  • Power to Go Over the Wall

Divine Power strongholds2 Samuel 22:30 (ESV) For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. Psalms 18:28-29 (ESV) For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

  • Power to Destroy the Stronghold

Jeremiah 51:58 (ESV) “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”

2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

God doesn’t want us to avoid or run away from problems. He wants us to know His Divine Power to tear down walls. Psalms 89:40 (ESV) You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. God wants these stronghold torn down because He wants to be our stronghold. God will not share affections. He is a Jealous God. He desires to be the one we depend upon.

God Must Be Our Only Stronghold

Psalm 94_22 StrongholdGOD WANTS TO BE OUR ONLY STRONGHOLD. ANY STRONGHOLD THAT IS NOT OF GOD IS A CHALLENGE TO HIS AUTHORITY, HIS INHERITANCE, HIS REST FOR OUR LIFE. Psalms 27:1 (ESV) The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? God COMMANDED JOSHUA TO DESTROY THE STRONGHOLDS OF CANAAN. JERICHO WAS FIRST. Isaiah 23:11 (ESV) He has stretched out his hand over the sea; he has shaken the kingdoms; the Lord has given command concerning Canaan to destroy its strongholds. God knew that if these Canaanite strongholds were not destroyed, they would HINDER the Hebrews from gaining ALL of their inheritance, then they would ROB the Hebrews of future inheritance, and finally they would STEAL the Hebrew’s away from total devotion to Jehovah God.

Need To Battle Strategy2In order to tear down and destroy strongholds, God has a “Need To” Battle Strategy. But it does not work if you don’t see your “NEED TO”

God presented Joshua with His Need To Strategy, one which He presents to us. But very few Christians walk in Victory, free from strongholds that are robbing our inheritance. Christians are very boisterous about their great lives (look at facebook) but plain facts reveal another story. Divorce is as prevalent in the church as without. Drugs and Prescription Drugs are as common place among Christians as the world. Christians have strained family relationships just like the world. Christians have just as bad a problem with money and debt as the world. Christians struggle with depression, despair, defeat just like the world.

Jericho stands for all those things we can’t get victory over on our own but will hurt others and destroy our walk and our inheritance if we don’t.

These are the things that we hide in our lives: our fears, defeats, anxieties, petty envying and outright deceit. God knows there is only one solution: lead them into battle against them. We live in a pretend age. And so marriages are falling apart but we pretend things are normal such as marriages falling apart. They pretend their families are fine when in fact the parents and children are in a constant state of war.

We live by ignoring our failures. We hope that they will never get big enough to erupt the normalcy of life. God knows better. If crossing the Red Sea or Jordan River stand for salvation, taking over the land of Israel represent sanctification: the process where God’s people are freed from their sins and find the fullness of life in living God’s way.

The Israelites had been in the wilderness for so long that they NEEDED TO EXPERIENCE THE MILK AND HONEY OF CANAAN! GOD WANTS YOU TO GET TO THE PLACE WHERE YOU ARE NOT CONTENT WITH A MEDIOCRE WALK, A MEDIOCRE WITNESS, A MEDIOCRE LOVE FOR Him. HE WANTS YOU TO DESIRE HIM TO BE YOUR ONLY STRONGHOLD, YOUR ONLY GOD.

GOD is out for victory and success. He desires both to show His power and bring grace to our lives. He leads them straight into the hard battles and will do it in our lives too. When a person becomes a Christian, he will often face some big sudden challenges. He should not fear. God is with you to show Himself great. If they are not rightly dealt with at the beginning when our faith is strong, then it takes a long time to work them through.

Many of us do not understand how deceit, lies, fears, anxieties, lusts and anxieties are chains about our lives. We have grown so used to them that we just get use to them. God wants to give us genuine freedom from their influence in our lives.

The world boasts of freedom and choice, but are they not enslaved by their very desires? This is what Peter the apostle saw in the world around him, “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:18, 19, NASB).

DO YOU HAVE A “NEED TO” IN YOUR LIFE?

Need to Battle StrategyHow Did God Give Joshua Victory over this Stronghold? Joshua and His people followed God’s “NEED TO” Battle Strategy!

1.  Need to Depend Upon the Lord

Joshua 5:15 (ESV) And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

  • No Room for Pride
  • No Allowance for your ability
  • Nothing of the flesh allowed
  • He is Holy, He is without compare
  • We Must Sacrifice our will – make ourselves Holy by doing as He desires.
  • The Lord Must be Central in ALL our undertakings. Look at the position of the Ark

2.  Need to Obey

Joshua 6:3-5 (NKJV) You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Imagine you are a mighty soldier. You have experienced some mighty battles against some mighty kings on the other side of the Jordan. You are a man of action, a man of battle skills. Joshua tells you to get in column and start marching around the city. And you cannot speak, you simply march. The city was only about 11 acres. The march of 600,000 men would have taken only about 45 minutes to an hour at the most. The march to Jericho and back took longer. The first couple of days were OK, everyone was obedient. But by the sixth day, I can just imagine the guys were getting antsy. They were having a hard time figuring out what was going on.

Strongholds are not destroyed all at once. There is the behind the scenes work of God! We must obey God even when it seems crazy.

  • Going to church
  • Tithing
  • Going to someone you have wronged.
  • Showing Honor even when they don’t deserve it.

There are things we need to do in order for God to work His timing and His power to tear down strongholds in our lives.

In Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbala tells of amazing transformations in the lives of people with horrible strongholds. One of those stories (page 40 and following) contains a letter from Roberta, who tells of her terrible battle with drugs and depression.  When she “finally hit bottom,” (HIV Positive) she drove to the Brooklyn Tabernacle and cried to God to save her.  Her experience with God has had its ups and downs, including a relapse. Sometimes the strongholds need more “need to”. She persevered in obedience, despite being near death more than once.

Cymbala tells of the time that Roberta was asked to give her testimony before the church.  Her father was present that night.  The story that this young woman had to share, Cymbala says, was not a pretty one, and certainly not one that a father would smile in pride to hear coming from his daughter’s lips.  As she came to the most disturbing parts of her story, Roberta stopped, looked at her father, and said with tears in her eyes, “Daddy, I know this is hard for you to hear.  But I have to say it, because it shows how Jesus can forgive the worst in a person’s life.”

3.  Need to Quietly Wait

1 Thessalonians 1:8 (NASB77) For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.

Americans are not very patient. God is the God of eternity. He sees things that you and I can not even imagine. Strongholds are not built in a day. Some are built up over years. God will take us through many things before He believes we are ready to tear down a stronghold. Always Give God one more day to show His Power. Never never put time restraints on God. Never lose heart at the trials and afflictions that God allows to tear down strongholds. You’re learning to patiently wait upon God will be taken with you into eternity, for Paul says afflictions work an eternal weight of glory! Focus on that which you cannot see, on eternity!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Patient waiting displays FAITH, which is more precious than gold! 1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

4.  Need to Believe

Jim Cymbala and ChrissyDo you even believe God can do mighty things in your life. Have you given in to Satan’s lies and stopped looking for miracles from God? Are their situations you have stopped praying for because you figure God doesn’t care? Is God asking you to march around a few more times and you are giving up, tired of this nonsense?

From an Interview with Jim Cymbala:

Q: You also experienced some times of real personal crisis as the church matured, didn’t you?

A: My oldest daughter, Chrissy, drifted away from God when she was a teenager, and a wall went up. We lived through a 30-month nightmare. We tried everything—begging, crying, yelling, trying to use money to manipulate her, sending her away to a better environment. Nothing worked. At one point she was away from home for about three months, and we weren’t sure where she was. The Lord impressed on me not to seek any more contact with her but to give myself to prayer. This was just before Thanksgiving. We had a very difficult Christmas, but we learned things about prayer and trusting God that I had never learned before.

When February came, I was in the prayer meeting on Tuesday night talking about the Book of Acts and how the Holy Spirit alone can produce boldness in us. You can’t teach boldness; it’s something the Holy Spirit produces. As we were praying for one another, a girl in the church sent up a note to me saying that she believed we were supposed to pray for my daughter. I called one of my associates to the pulpit, and he prayed. The whole church began to pray. It was like being in a labor room with a woman giving birth. I can’t describe it any other way. I had not made a big thing about it in church because I felt that people had their own problems. I couldn’t make myself the center of attention. But this night, we really prayed! The intensity was overwhelming.

The next morning when I was shaving, Carol came into the room and said that Chrissy was there. She was on her knees weeping, and she said, “Daddy, I’m so sorry. I’ve sinned against God, myself and you.” She drew herself up to me, put her head on my chest and asked, “Who was praying for me last night? God woke me up in the middle of the night with a dream where I saw myself heading toward this pit that had no bottom. I was racing toward it, and at the last second He stopped me. And instead of yelling at me, He put His arms around me, and I knew He loved me!”

Chrissy is now in her 30s and married. She and her husband have three beautiful children. God totally transformed her, and it was through the power of believing prayer.

5.  Need to be Enthused

When the Priests were blowing the Rams Horn, they were doing it with all their might. When the People Shouted they did it with all their might. They loved the Lord. He ENTHUSED them He energized them!

Two pastors’ wives sat mending their husbands’ pants. One of them said to the other, “My poor John, he is so discouraged in his church work. He said just the other day he was considering resigning. It seems nothing goes right for him.”

The other replied, “Why, my husband was saying just the opposite. He is so enthused, it seems like the Lord is closer to him than ever before.”

A hushed silence fell as they continued to mend the trousers; one patching the seat and the other the knees. —Illustrations Unlimited

6.  Need to be Fearless Warriors

They had to go in and destroy the people. There were children, but God said destroy them. We Need to be Like Billy Sunday:

I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!” –  Billy Sunday

7.  Need to Guard the Stuff

Joshua 6:9 (ESV) The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually.

Rear Guard Follows the ArkThe tribe of Dan guarded the stuff in the Wilderness Wanderings: NUMBERS 10:25 Then the standard of the camp of the sons of Dan, according to their armies,  which formed the rear guard for all the camps, set out, with Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai over its army,

Basically, ʾāsap refers to “bringing objects to a common point.” Gathering Food as at harvest time, Gathering all the supplies. The rear guard is not an exciting job, but you must do it, or you run the risk of having all your supplies stolen and plundered. Then how could you keep on fighting?

God is our Rear GuardIsaiah 58:8 says God will be your rear guard. He will guard your stuff, if you keep true to the battle. But I also like to thank that there is always a place in the Lord’s Army. No matter how old you are, how achy you may feel, you can be a guard –guarding the stuff. As we’ve seen in Ephesians, a Warriors weak point is always his back. Roman soldiers would usually have a buddy who would cover his back. Infantrymen are always molded into a unit with the credo to watch each others back. The rear guard is usually your prayer warriors, your people who have faith in an awesome God to protect the stuff. Front line warrior need someone praying for them, watching their back.

God Calls us to See our Victory

The Holy Spirit is speaking to our heart (if we are His) and He wants us to see the VICTORY we have in Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians we learn: We are His Sons, we are accepted in the Beloved, in Christ we have obtained an inheritance, in Christ we have Mighty Power-the same power that raised Jesus from the grave. In Christ we share in the Dominion He has over all things!

This is why Paul prays for us:

Ephesians 3:16-21 (ESV) that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Do You want to be filled with ALL the FULLNESS of GOD?!, Then knock down these foreign worldly strongholds that ROB God of His place in your Life. GOD Must be our Stronghold. God Must be our Rear Guard.

TO MAKE GOD OUR STRONGHOLD,

Light the Fuse God Stronghold1. REFUSE – WE MUST REFUSE THE WORLD, WE MUST REFUSE THE FLESH

Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV) Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

2. INFUSE – Then we infuse our heart & minds with GOD

Ephe 4:23 -and  to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

Put on the New Life – new heart attitude, new speech, new honor for authorities, honor for family relationships, honor for your employer.

Whole Armor or Holey armor3. ENTHUSE – GET THE BATTLE GEAR ON!

The Whole Armor, not just part. Make sure it passes inspection by the Captain of the Host! Some of us have nice looking helmets, but we don’t have the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, our swords are looking real bad, our shields of faith are looking like swiss cheese, our sandals of the gospel of peace are falling apart.

A well dressed and well equipped army is an enthusiastic army. INFUSED WITH GOD SHOWS IN ENTHUSIAM FOR GOD AND HIS CAUSE!

ARE YOU READY TO SHOUT?

Shout for VictoryGod wants us to believe He can do the Impossible!

WE NEED TO GO AFTER GOD AND HIS INHERITANCE FOR US! The VICTORY is OURS! DO we see our “NEED TO” remove worldly strongholds? Are we willing to make God our Stronghold?

“Let’s quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ. If you want to drive the devil out of the world, hit him with a cradle instead of a crutch. Billy Sunday