Posts Tagged ‘presumption’


Discipleship Leads to the Battlefield

Former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes. The cobbler asked young Reagan, “Do you want square toes or round toes?” Unable to decide, Reagan didn’t answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days. Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, “Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready.” When the future president did so, he found one square-toed and one round-toed shoe! “This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you,” the cobbler said to young Ronald. “I learned right then and there,” Reagan said later, “if you don’t make your own decisions, someone else will.” Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 16.

Discipleship begins with a decision. Discipleship continues with that same daily decision. If you fail to make that decision, this world makes it for you, and you will find yourself far from the Discipleship path.

The decision you must make and continue to make is, “what is the most important thing in my life?” Ask yourself, What am I building my life around? What is so important to me that I want to learn and understand everything about it? You may answer, “many things”. But at each of our lives there are some core values that are more important than anything else.

Millions of people went shopping the past couple of days. Most of them studied the adds, went on-line to find out where the best deals were. The media says we wait all year for this time, as if our Christmas depended upon it.

That is the influence of the world, of Babylon. Christmas is no longer about Jesus Christ, about salvation, about a supernatural life that He gives. Christmas is about getting the best deals on stuff that most people will throw away in a few years.

The elevation of “Black Friday” required a decision on the part of a small number of people, and because the rest of us were silent, the decision was made for us. We allowed ourselves to be influenced and so now many Christians are our Thanksgiving Day looking for bargains. And while Thanksgiving is not an official “Biblical” Holiday, it is in danger of becoming a non-day, overtaken by the commercialism of Christmas.

The same thing happened with the blue laws (stores not open on Sunday-to honor the Lord’s Day) a few years back. A small group of people decided the blue laws were archaic, and because Christians did not object, people no longer see the harm of shopping and eating on Sunday. Now we even have school and sports activities on Sunday. The disrespect for the Lord’s Day has continued to the extent that we now have a generation of children growing up who know nothing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We now have to remind people of the real reason for Christmas.

Discipleship indeed begins with a decision, but failure to maintain that decision can disqualify you from the discipleship path. You must decide that God is more important than anything and everything in your life. He is so important that you want to learn everything about Him. You want to even understand Him, what He delights in, how He works.  Everyday you must choose to make God the most important person in your life. So important that He changes the way you do life.

  • Discipleship begins with a decision to seek the heart of God!
  • Discipleship continues when you decide to allow His heart to affect the desires of your heart.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (ESV)

An Insight into “seek”

Yet the LORD set (hasaq) his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Deuteronomy 10:15 (ESV)

Set (& Seek) is the word hasaq. It literally means to bind oneself to. It pictures a man who has become attracted to a captive woman or slave and now he wants to bind himself to her in marriage. It is a binding of the heart to one whom is the object of your desires.

God chose Abraham and set His heart on him. God delighted in him to the point he bound Himself to him in a covenant that could not be altered. That covenant bound God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His delight progressed from one of God/subject to husband/wife, bound by covenant.

hāšaq: A verb meaning to be attached to, to love, to delight in, to bind. Laws in Deuteronomy described the procedure for taking a slave woman to whom one has become attached as a wife (Deut. 21:11). God’s binding love for Israel is described as unmerited love (Deut. 7:7)[1]

David made Decisions

  1. David wanted his life to matter so he chose to be a tree planted besides (God’s) living waters. (Ps 1)
  2. David did not want to live a life as worthless thorns, or worthless chaff. (Ps 1, 2 Sam 23:1)
  3. David wanted to live a life that mattered now and for the future.
  4. David decided to bind himself to this Yahweh in whom he trusted and loved. (Ps 25:5)
  5. Because of his decision, David found himself smack dab in the middle of a battle, and so will you.

David v. Goliath

This battle is a favorite Bible story for little children.  The story has been familiarized to the point that it loses its impact. It has become a cartoon. The significance of David finding himself on the battlefield as a young man, so soon after his decision to follow God, is that we will all face ‘giants’ on the battlefield as soon as we decide to become a disciple in the true sense!

Our Heart is  the Battlefield

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

David understood this and instructed his son Solomon:

Now devote (give-from נתן (nathan) your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 22:19 (NIV)

Nāthan נתן: A verb meaning to give, to place. This verb is used approximately two thousand times in the Old Testament; therefore, it is understandable that it should have a broad semantic range[2].

Discipleship begins with the Decision to ‘Give’ your Heart to God

Solomon likewise said, “Give me your heart”. Give (nathan) me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways.  Proverbs 23:26 (NASB)

As a young man, David did just that, and God took notice.

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:14 (ESV)

King Saul

Saul was the people’s choice for King. He had all the outward appearances of a King. He was tall, dark and handsome. He was strong and a forceful leader. Yet there was something wrong with his heart. His heart is described in 1 Sam 15:22:

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (ESV) And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion (meriy) is as the sin of divination (witchcraft-qesem-lumped with child sacrifice in Deut 18:10), and presumption (pāsar) is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Even though Saul was a King of Israel, even though he was a “Christian” so to speak, his discipleship took a wrong turn somewhere, and Samuel reveals those decisions that disqualified Saul .

Three Decisions Disqualify from Discipleship

1. We Stop Listening to God

  • “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Psalm 81:11-13 (ESV)
  • Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Ecclesiastes 5:1 (ESV)
  • I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:4 (ESV)
Who we listen to gets us into trouble

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Genesis 3:17 (ESV)

Who has your ear? Who do you spend the most time listening to? How much time do you spend in the Word, or in prayer? To listen often leads to obey. Are you most influenced by what the world teaches? Are you listening to what God says?

We are influenced by what we listen to and watch. What else would drive a sane person to camp out for Black Friday specials? 25 years ago something like that would be considered insane!

2. We Tolerate a Rebellious Spirit

King Saul: For rebellion (meriy) is as the sin of divination (witchcraft-qesem-lumped with child sacrifice in Deut 18:10),

Moses to the Israelites: For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! Deuteronomy 31:27 (NIV)

meriy: A masculine noun meaning obstinacy, stubbornness, rebelliousness. The term consistently stays within this tight semantic range and most often describes the Israelites’ determined refusal to obey the precepts laid down by the Lord in His Law or Torah. This characteristic attitude was a visible manifestation of their hard hearts[3].

Qesem is generally forbidden[4] (Deuteronomy 18:10 (ESV) There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer),

We associate rebellion with out and out disobedience. We excuse some behavior as excusable. I don’t have time, I have so much stress, I have to have some me time or I’ll go crazy. We don’t classify selfishness as rebellion. In fact, we accept selfish behavior as normal. But God calls selfishness rebellion. It is no different from the sin of witchcraft, or the sin of child sacrifice. King Saul simply made a decision based upon what he thought was best. It was a rational, understandable decision. He even had God in mind when he made it. But God calls it rebellion, for it was a self-motivated decision.

  • Do the actions of your life reveal a rebellious spirit in your heart?

3. We Presume Upon God

Samuel said to King Saul: “presumption (pāsar) is as iniquity and idolatry”.

pāsar: A verb meaning to peck at, to press, to push. It indicates a literal physical push against someone (Gen. 19:9); In a negative sense, it refers to rebellion against someone, arrogance (1 Sam. 15:23)[5].

Presumption pushes God out of the way and does what it wants. Or worse yet, it presumes that God is not watching, or God does not care, and then goes its own way. Or worse yet, it presumes since you are of Abraham, or a Jew, (or a Christian) that you have a lock on God, and He will excuse your actions.

Christians presume upon God when they think God automatically excuses their sin or their laziness or their lack of prayer or whatever simply because he knows ‘I’m human’. Or simply because Jesus died for me on the cross. That is such pride and arrogance. With an attitude like that I would be concerned about the true state of my soul. How can God live in me, and I steal from Him by ignoring him or excusing my fleshly actions. I am no better than the money changers who presumed they could steal from the people because they were doing it in God’s Temple!

  • Are the presumptions of your daily life pushing God away?

When King Saul pushed God aside, God pushed him aside. He found a young man who had made a decision to set his heart upon God, to incline his heart on those things that God delighted in.

And the next thing you know, this young man is in the midst of a battlefield. He has another decision to make. There is a Giant facing the armies of Israel, and they are all afraid. For 40 days this Giant has been taunting them, and the men of Israel were losng their resolve for God. Onto this battlefield in the Valley of Elah steps a young disciple, and he provides us insight into beginning our discipleship journey with God, insight that will insure victory!

I.  Discipleship Requires Confidence in Who You Are!

A.  Experience The Daily Rush Of The Spirit Of God

1 Samuel 16:12-13 (ESV) Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

  • David was very aware that the Spirit of God was within him!

Even throughout his sin with Bathsheba, the Holy Spirit was with him. David desired the rush of the Holy Spirit so much that he dreaded its departure.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11 (ESV)

B. Experience The Daily Affection Of God For You.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV)

God has anointed us and put His seal upon us-the Holy Spirit is the proof of His covenant with us. Because of that covenant sealed by the Blood of Christ, we know that God has set his heart and eyes upon us, that His love is steadfast and unfailing, that His love is renewed to us each and every morning!

C. Experience What God Desires for You

God has an intentional plan for our lives with Him, and He wants us to realize what it is. He never sets His heart upon someone capriciously.

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, (6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6 (NKJV)

God is grooming us to be Priests and Kings. We have a higher calling, one which places responsibility upon us. Everything we experience is designed by God to train us to be a King or a Priest. But it is not dependent upon our ability, but upon the covenant which Jesus Christ has bound Himself to us.

His covenant means that we have confidence in Him and His provision whenever we face a giant…

(14) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

II. Discipleship Requires Confidence in Who God is!

A. There Is Always A Goliath Between You And God

We all know about Goliath. He was Big, Bad and Bronze! Oh, you never noticed the bronze part? You should, for therein lies the understanding of this battlefield.

Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? 1 Samuel 17:8 (NKJV)
And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.  1 Samuel 17:10-11 (NKJV)

Bronze speaks of judgment.

In Numbers 21:9, Moses puts a model of a snake, made from brass (or bronze?) on a pole, and when the people looked at it they were delivered from the poisonous bites of the snakes that had infested their camp as a result of their own sin.

In the blueprints for the Tabernacle of Moses, the altar on which sacrifices were burnt was made of bronze. Bronze is the place in which your sacrifice meets the heat of fire  (judgment) and is consumed by it.

The giant Goliath, whose height was 6 cubits, and he had 6 pieces of armor; his spear’s head weighed 600 shekels of iron. If you thought it was related to 666, you are kind of right. Now, let’s look at the armor.

  • Helmet of bronze: His mentality was of judgment.
  • Breastplate of Bronze : a heart of judgment.
  • Leg Armor of bronze : Standing in judgment.
  • Coat of bronze mail : Surrounded by judgment.
  • Spear shaft of bronze : Weapon of judgment.

Goliath is a picture of Satan and all of his judgments against man. Our sins, our lusts, our failures, our weaknesses. These are all that Satan uses to condemn us and prevent us from seeing that we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. Fear is the great disciple killer!

  • Fear keeps us mired in the mud of our human weakness and sin.

The Tabernacle

There is not a single bronze item in the innermost part of the Tabernacle. Sure there is the bronze altar, the bronze water dish, etc, but all of that is outside, in the court.

Inside the Holy of Holies, everything is made of Gold. Gold speaks of divinity, of purity. Christians are forever covered with gold. Where? look at the walls. The bible says to have wooden boards with “hands” at the bottom, which fit perfectly into the silver bases and are made to stand upright (Ex. 26:15-18; 36:21-22). The silver is a picture of Jesus Christ, our Savior. See the beauty of it?

  • The way for humanity to stand upright in God’s presence is to be placed in redemption.

There were also five (cross-members) bars for each side of the Tabernacle (Ex. 26:26,27; 36:31,32). The middle bar of the five was to pass through the centre of the boards from one end to the other (Ex. 26:28; 36:33). All the bars and rings were overlaid with gold (Ex. 26:29; 36:34). The number 5 speaks of Grace. The middle bar, passes through the board. and the bible says that the wood is also covered with gold, every inch is covered.

Here is the picture: You (wood), covered with Holiness( Gold) inside and outside, made to stand in Redemption ( silver), and as a result, not a single bit of your sin (wood) can be seen in God’s presence.

We MUST have Confidence in Who God is and What He has provided for us in order to defeat these Giants!

David, A Man Who Knew Who He Was, And Who He Followed.

Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:32 (NKJV)

David knew the value of a strong heart. Soldiers weak in heart are of no use on the battlefield. They are of no value to the King, or to God. Disciples are strong of heart for they seek the heart of God!

B. True Disciples Know The Battle Has Already Been Won

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV) Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

  1. For 40 days Saul had taunted the soldiers of Israel. (1 Sam 17:16)
  2. Jesus fasted for 40 days…

…Until his flesh was totally weak, and beginning to consume itself. It was only then that He faced Satan, for he wanted nothing ot the flesh to present in defeating Satan. No, Jesus would defeat Him by the power of the Word of God, with no tainting of the flesh.

(4) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. (5) Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 (ESV)

III. Discipleship requires tested armor!

So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. 1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NKJV)

1. No Pretend Disciples.

You don’t go to battle by pretending to be a mighty armored warrior. You must begin winning little battles with the weapons you have and can use.

David had faced lions and bears out in the field. He fought against them with weapons he was familiar with. Disciples don’t come to church with their super Christian armor on. Disciples don’t try to impress one another. Disciples are schooled in battle where you work, where you live.

2. Only Real Disciples

You face Goliath’s at work. He may be a she, and tell you what to do. He may be a fellow worker who wants to influence you to do this or that. You face Goliath’s at home. He may be a loved one that battles your emotions, that hurls those darts that get so personal. There is no pretend on the battlefield. Pretenders are casualties of war. Disciples must learn to slay Goliath with the weapons and armor that they are familiar with. We battle the flesh at home, work, play, and most of all in the desires of our heart.

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 (ESV)

IV. Discipleship Requires the Grace of God

David picked up 5 stones

Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:40 (ESV)

Five is the Number for God’s Grace

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. This is very significant. Not because God chose Abram or because God endowed upon him his grace, but, the change was made by inserting in between his name the fifth letter of the alphabet h (Hey).

Back to the Tabernacle:

The brazen altar in the Court of the tabernacle was FIVE cubits long, FIVE cubits wide, and it had FIVE vessels connected with it (Exodus 27:1-3).  The COURT which was FIVE cubits high, “The LENGTH of the court shall be a HUNDRED cubits, and the BREADTH  FIFTY everywhere, and the HEIGHT  FIVE cubits of fine twined linen” (Ex.27:18).  Grace shuts in the believer on every side.

David Killed the Giant

When David went to fight with the Goliath, he chose five smooth stones. These five stones pictured God’s grace, as David needed only one, the one with Divine Power.

How is Your Heart?

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)

Discipleship begins with a decision to bind your heart to God’s Heart. Discipleship takes place when God’s Heart affects the desires of your heart. We only have access to the divine power as we seek to listen and obey, and when our obedience matures.

ONGOING BATTLE

There will be an ongoing battle for your heart. Goliath is lurking out there, and he wants to bring fear and distrust into your heart. If he does, he will ruin you for the battlefield. He’ll either distract you, lead you to stop listening, tolerate rebellion, and even fool yurself into presuming upon God.

No matter what Goliath does, his end game is to disqualify you from being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. He wants to render you worthless and ineffective.

How is your heart? Do you desire to know this awesome invisible God? Do you live and breathe Jesus Christ? Or have you failed to defeat Goliath, and find your Christian walk ineffective? Have you even pushed Christ aside this week? Or have you slain a few Goliath’s through His grace?


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” ‏חָשַׁק‎”

[2] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 761.

[3]Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, .

[4] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “2044: ‏קָסַם‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 805.

[5] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book,

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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!


peter-freed-from-prison-by-pier-francesco-mola-1612-1666In Acts 12:14 the lowly maid is sent to answer the persistent knock outside the gate. The disciples are obviously fearful of the recent aggressive persecution undertaken by Herod. She is so excited to see Peter that she runs in to tell the disciples, forgetting to open the gate and allow Peter in. The disciples, the ones who months before preached boldly in the Temple about the “power of God” to raise Jesus from the dead, hear the ramblings of the maid and pronounce her “Mad”. These great disciples and apostles, men who turned the world upside down with their faith in God, doubted the results of their own prayers. How could Peter have escaped from such a prison?

How can modern day disciples presume to have faith greater than the apostles? I do pray in faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God. But I never pray with the presumptuous pride of a voice that believes it can command God. God is God alone. Only He does Wondrous things. How dare I bother Him with petty requests when He has an entire Universe to Rule?

I dare because His Son lives in me, and the life I now live I live by the faith of Jesus Christ. When I pray the Words of His Son, they are the Words that arrest the attention of Almighty God! They are the Words that grab God’s Heart!prayer_3

Pray for Peter to be freed, but wait upon God to reveal His will. Never presume that our will must be His! After all the apostles prayed that James would be freed too!

If I abide in Christ, and His Words abide in me, then I may ask whatever I wish, and He will accomplish it for me (John 15:7 mud version)

Prayer: Enable me to pray with the faith of your Son, and may His Words become my prayer to you. May your will be done in and through my life, just as it is in heaven. Remind me to always open the gate to see your answer to my prayers.

From Pathway of Blessing