Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Praise, Power and Peace In the Psalms #3: All in Thee Psalms 31

All In Thee Text: Psalms 31

 
Introduction: Let me tell you about a young man I met in a nursing home in Texas, his name was Thomas. Thomas was in his early thirties, he would come to our Bible studies we had each Thursday. I got to know Thomas and found out why he was the youngest resident in the nursing home. At one time, a few years earlier, he had been a healthy man with a young wife and a 5 year old son. He ran his own business and owned his home. He was doing well enough financially that he had already paid off his home. He had a new car, a new boat and a new Harley Davidson motorcycle, which he often rode without bother to wear a helmet and sometimes after drinking a few beers.
 
On one of those occasions, Thomas lost control of the bike and crashed into a telephone pole. His unprotected head head took a direct hit. When I knew him you could still see the imprint of the pole in his skull, it had been caved in and had healed that way. He was rushed to the hospital after the accident and there on the operating table eight times his heart stopped and he had to be resuscitated. As a result of the accident Thomas, lost most of his mental abilities, if you met him you would think he was mentally handicapped with the mind of a 10 or 12 year old, yet he still had all his memory of what he had lost. The operations, rehabilitation, and nursing home costs had taken everything away from him. He lost his job, his home, his car, his boat and of course the motorcycle was already gone. His wife had left him and had taken his son. The one thing that had happened that was good in Thomas’ life is that in that nursing home, after his accident, he had found the Lord and become a child of God. I remember wanting to ask Thomas a question. I wanted to ask, considering all that he had lost and the one thing he had gained, how He felt about his life. I was really afraid of the answer that he might tell me how bitter he was and how much he wished God had just let him die. But one day I did ask and Thomas looked up at me from his wheelchair and said, “Better now than before.”
How can someone come through great difficulty and pain, and come to that conclusion? Can we like my friend, Thomas know that because God is with me, it will always be better now than it was before.” Turn to Psalms 31. This was the Palms that Thomas would ask me to read every time I wheeled him back to his room. It was his favorite Psalms because it described his own experiences with God. So turn to Psalms 31 and let us look at another person, David The King of Israel, who understands this truth.
 

Trust In Thee Psalms 31: 1-8

Psalm 31:1-8 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. 
 

David looks to God’s past help.

His plea in verse 1-5. In Thee do I put my trust.
 
Not in a cause or a mantra or an idea but in the person of God and in the promises of God.
He says, Thou art my strong Rock and fortress. For thy names sake lead me and guide me. Thou art my strength.
 
Why could David put his trust in God now?
Because in the past he had committed his spirit, his soul, into God’s hand.
The word commit means to deposit or leave in owns care, to give in trust or charge, to place in another’s custody.
 
In other words, David completely gave himself over to God. He deposited himself, all that he was and all that he was going through, into the First Universal Trust Company of Jehovah.
He knew that God had redeemed him. He belonged to God because he had been purchased by God’s love. David had been bought back, repurchased from sin to serve God.
 
Because of God’s care and deliverance in David’s past, he was not afraid to trust God even more, now in the present in an even worse situation.
 

Will You Trust God Today?

We must do as David did, commit ourselves, deposit ourselves in the care and keeping of God.
When I deposit money in my bank I believe that what I have placed there is safe, I don’t worry about that money. It is safer there than it would be if I had kept it with me. To make through our present troubles I must deposit myself, my worries, my fears, my failures into God’s hands. Those worries, fears, doubts, troubles, pain and guilt all must be committed to God. He will take care of those things better than I ever could.
 
This begins for us, as it did for David, at redemption. You have been redeemed, bought back, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for us on Calvary.
 
1 Peter 1: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
He has paid the price with his own life’s blood. We must accept his death in our place and accept the gift of forgiveness? My soul and my eternity must be committed to God. I must Trust In Thee.
 

Illustration: Hosea and Gomer, redemption of a runaway wife and slave.

Transition: David could trust God now in his troubles, because in the past he had committed himself to God and had experienced the redemption of God. After declaring that trust, he next calls our to God For Mercy From Thee.
 

Mercy From Thee Psalms 31:9-18

Psalm 31:9-18 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed. I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
 

David Intensifies His Plea for Help

He calls out Oh, God have mercy on me. Vs. 9
 
He says, troubles have caused his strength to utterly collapse. Vs 10-12
Yet in that terrible weakness, that collapse of David’s own strength, he has been brought to the place where he calls out to God for mercy Vs. 14-15
 
He says, “My times are in your hands.” David sees his life’s boundaries completely in God’s hand Vs 15. He understands that God’s help, at that moment, will determine his life or his death.
 

Will Trouble Drive Us Deeper or Away from God’s Love?

One reason God allows trials and troubles is that we might become weak in ourselves but strong in Him.
We see this in Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 
I must choose whether my pain and troubles drive me away from Jesus or if instead my suffering drives me into the arms of Jesus. For it is there, in the arms of our Savior that we will find comfort and help from the One who suffered for us all.
 
It is Jesus who truly knows suffering, Jesus who took on the pain of the world, was tortured, persecuted, tormented, humiliated and died on the cross willingly embracing that pain. He endured separation from His Father, as our sins were place upon Him. He cried out, “Father, what hast thou forsaken me? Jesus understands the sorrows, fear and hurt I’m going through and it is to, not away from Jesus, I must flee. In His love, I will find solace for my scars, peace for my pain and comfort for my cares.
 
May my troubles bring me to the place where like David I accept and find hope saying “Dear God, my life’s boundaries are in your hand. It is only by you that I live or die and I am strengthened in that knowledge.”
 

Illustration: Poem, Pressed Out.

Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length. Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength; Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul, Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll; Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends, Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends. Yet, Pressed into loving the staff and the rod, Pressed into knowing no helper but God; Pressed into liberty where nothing clings, Pressed into faith for impossible things, Pressed into living a life in the Lord; Pressed into living a Christ-life out poured! - Walter B. Knight
 
Transition: So we see that we must put our trust in God, we must call out for His mercy in our time of pain and trial and what we do next may come as a surprise. Once again we look at David’s example and we see that he began to praise his God. 
 

Praise Unto Thee Psalms 31:19-24

Psalm 31:19-24 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. 
 

David Praises God for his Deliverance Even Before it Comes

Even before he experiences the help he so desperately needed, David praises God for it.
He says in vs 19, That that help is already laid up, it is already available to them that fear (worship, reverence) God.
 
Notice also he says, “Which thou hast wrought” in the past tense. In other words it is already finished, its already stored up and just waiting to be poured out to God’s people.
 
I remember a song that a long gone Baptist preacher used to sing. His name was Lester Roloff and he pastored and ran a children’s home down in Corpus Christi, Texas. I don’t remember all the song but I do remember his crackling, gravely voice singing the chorus, “Hold on a littler longer, hold on a little stronger. The testing of the Lord are pure gold. He’ll take your through the fire. He’ll drive out the dross and mire. Hold on a little longer, hold on. The answer that you’ve prayed for it’s on its way and paid for. Hold on a little longer, hold on.”
 
David goes and makes the profound statement of faith, “Thou, shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence.” What can you say about a phrase like that except only the Holy Spirit could have inspired such a beautiful phrase and, “Please, Oh Lord, let me know it’s reality in my life.”
David even admits even his doubts when he was praying, he says, “In my haste,” but even that was not enough to stop the loving kindness of God.
 
He concludes in vs 23-24 Love the Lord all ye his saints be of good courage, and he shall strengthen you heart.
 

Will we Praise Him Until His Help Comes?

Do we trust him that much? We should, he has proven himself in the past. He has shown himself to be stronger even than our doubts. He has never forsaken His own and has promised to always be with us.
 
Will you this morning, love Him. Weill you be of good courage? For if you will then just as it was for David it will be for us and we will experience the strengthening of our heart.
If we can praise Him in the midst of our doubts, trust Him in the midst of our pain then like Paul we can say,
 
Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
 
Reckon means reconciled, Paul looks at both sides of the ledger, the deficits and the deposit and concludes there is no comparison. He looks at back at his own life at the deficits of pain, sorrow, deprivation, troubles, discrimination and suffering, and he compares those to the deposits of forgiveness, joy, peace, eternal life in heaven and a friend who stays closer than a brother in Jesus Christ, and he says there is no comparison. In fact, it is not ever worthy to make this comparison. All that God gives overwhelms all that the world takes. All that God blesses us with completely covers all that the world curses us with. Eternal life has overtaken eternal death, grace has defeated unbelief and mercy has extinguished judgment. How can I do anything but praise God even in the midst of my troubles and pain? 
 

Mike Hilliard Feeling Sorry for Me

I began by telling you about Thomas a young man in a nursing home, whose life had been torn apart but after that destruction he found the Lord and it was “better now than before.” Let me conclude this sermon my telling you about Mike Hillard. Who died of cancer at only 23 years old. His family were members of our church. Attended pretty regularly but not every service. Good people, who loved the Lord but not what I would describe as really dedicated to the Lord’s church or work. This family had a history of cancer, a mother who had contracted it, an aunt and now just as his adult life was starting Mike. He went into the hospital, received the treatments, came home and the doctors even said his cancer was in remission, for a about a year or so. But then it returned, and it was aggressive, and Mike was put in the hospital and told he would not go home again. It was devastating to his family that had already suffered so much loss from this disease. I was a youth pastor at the time and I would go with my pastor, who was also my uncle to visit Mike on his deathbed.
 
It was a hard visit for me to make as a young pastor, mostly because at that time Mike and I were the same age. And I wondered if Mike felt it was unfair that I should be healthy and with a wife and my children going to college while he was struggling to breathe. I remember telling my uncle maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe it would make him feel worse.
 
My discomfort might have shown on one of those visits because Mike looked at me and said in his now halting breaths, “I feel sorry for you.” Well that was not what I thought he was going to say. I really had no idea why he would say that, so I asked him, “Why would you feel sorry for me?” He looked at me, took a deep breath, smiled and said, “Because I’m going to see Jesus before you.”
I had 2 years of Bible college behind me at the time and Mike didn’t even go to Sunday School most weeks, but that day, Mike knew more about Jesus laying on that hospital bed than I knew after two years of studying books. He knew because in his pain, sickness and doubts, he had committed himself in trust to God and he had experienced God hiding him in the secret of His presence. He could praise God even in his dying because he knew God had laid up eternal life for him and suffering can’t compare to salvation, cancer can’t compare to contentment and 20 years on earth can’t compare to eternity in the glory of heaven.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Praise Power and Peace in the Psalms #1 - Experiencing God Psalm 18

Experiencing God

Text: Psalms 18:30-43

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Introduction: A woman had a parrot that had picked up some dirty language.  She scolded it, she threatened it but it wouldn’t clean up it’s language.  Finally, she told the parrot, “If you cuss one more time I’m going to throw you in the freezer until you learn not to talk dirty.”  A few minutes went by and then the parrot let our an expletive.  The woman grabbed the bird, opened the freezer and tossed him in.  About 10 minutes later she opened the door. “Are you ready to talk politely?” she asked.  The poor birdie his feathers covered with frost and icicles hanging from his beak stiffly shook his head yes.  The woman picked up the cold bird and set him on his perch.  The bird said, “Can I ask you something?”  the woman said OK.  “What in the world did that turkey do to get thrown in there?”  The experience made a lasting impression on the parrot.

    Some things are best learned by experiencing them. We can read about God, talk about God, discuss whether he exists and what He is like, but to truly know God you must experience Him. Experiencing God might give us a taste of what heaven is really going to be like, and how exciting earth is supposed to be to the child of God.  But how can I experience God this side of Heaven? And I really need to experience Him before heaven. What is required in my life so that God is real to me and capable of changing my world through me.

Experiencing God’s Completeness Psalms 18:30-32


As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.  For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?  It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect..

David Is Complete in God's Fullness


 David says, “As for God, His way is perfect. What does he mean by that? What was David saying about God and his relationship with Him? The Hebrew word translated perfect here is the word, Taw-meem:  it means complete, full, perfect, whole. David is saying that God is everything he needs. In his relationship with God, in God Himself David lacks nothing. God has met all his needs and there is not part of him that is not filled with the fulness of God.

 So how did David come to this understanding? How did he find God's fullness? If we look back in Psalms 18 to verses 16 and 17 we find the key.

Psalm 18:16-17  He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.  He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. 
 Davids says in vs 16  that he was like a man caught in a flood. In vs 17  he was a man utterly defeated by his enemies. It was at those times of complete defeat that David experienced the completeness of God. Like a man being swept away in a flood, David reaches out and takes the hand of God. Like a man about to be destroyed in battle he calls out for a champion stronger than himself.

He gives up, he looks up and is filled up by the power of God.
Then and only then can David come to vs. 32 and write, “He maketh my way perfect.” David  experienced the fullness of God when he was emptied of himself.

 Do We Want to Be Filled?
 Can I experience God's fullness as David? The answer really isn’t yes or no but am I willing to experience God that way? Am I willing to do what David did to get there?

 Notice the progression of David's experience with God.
Only God could save him  vs 16 & 17
Only God could teach him vs 30
Only God could shield him vs 30
Only God was God vs 31
Only God would protect him forever  vs 31

We often believe that we come to a greater relationship with God based upon our abilities and power. We think that after a lifetime of experience and sacrifice, we will stand before God worthy of His love, strength or mercy.

Yet in reality, this journey, with its end in the perfection of God, begins with our defeat and our calling and reaching out to God as our champion. The only one who can save me. I must quit struggling in my own power and surrender to God as the Sovereign of my life and soul.
This is how we must be saved from our sin, by realizing I cannot save myself and calling out to God to save me through His Son Jesus Christ. This is also the way we grow in our relationship with God, by giving up on ourselves but trusting in Him.

How much you experience God, will be measured by how much you are willing to surrender to God. How much of my life? How much of my time? How much of my love?

Amplification: A glass filled or a glass empty.
Here is the simplicity of this truth.  We are like a glass which is filled with ourselves.  Our dreams, our hopes, our desires, our goals, our strength our abilities, our power, our love, our sin, our failure, our goodness our victories.  We are so filled with ourselves that there is no room for the fullness of God in our life.  The more I can empty myself, just like a glass of stale water being poured out, the more room for God to fill me with “living water springing up into everlasting life.”  And when I am completely emptied through the defeat and destruction of my own power, then I will fully experience God.

Illustration:  Poem “Unto Myself”
Fearing to launch on “full surrender’s tide,
I asked the Lord where would its waters glide
My little boat, “To troubled seas I dread?”
“Unto Myself,” He said.

Weeping beside an open grave I stood
In bitterness of soul. I cried to God;
“Where leads this path of sorrow that I tread?”
“Unto Myself,” He said.

Striving for souls, I loved the work too well:
Then disappointments came; I could not tell
The reason, till He said, “I am thine all’
Unto Myself I call.”

Watching my heroes - those I loved best-
I saw them fail; they could not stand the test,
Even by this the Lord, through tears not few,
Unto Himself He drew.

Unto Himself! No earthly tongue can tell
The bliss I find, since in His heart I dwell;
The things that charmed me once seem all as naught;
Unto Himself I’m brought.

Transition:  By complete surrender David begins to travel down  a path at the end of which he is finds fulfillment in his relationship with God. The next part of the process David describes is the completeness of God's gifts.

Experiencing Gods Gifts  Ps. 18:33-36

He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.  He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.  Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.  Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

God Supplied David with everything needed.

 Conviction of Destination vs 33
 My feet like hind's feet- surety of step
 Setteth me upon my high places- surety of destination
 Information and Concentration vs 34
 
Teacheth my hands to war - Knowledge to fight
Bow of steel is broken - Strength to use the knowledge.
 
Protection of Relation by God's Condescension vs 35
 Shield of salvation - protection of eternal salvation
 right hand holds me - security of relationship
 thy gentleness has made me great - greatness through God's coming down to David's level.
 
Progression vs 36
 Enlarged my steps under me - the assurance of God's watchcare in our walk of life.

 Will We Accept The Gifts of God?

 Has God blessed your feet?  Are you sure of how your walking and where your walking?
 Has God blessed your hands?  Learning from God's word how to fight the battles of life?
 Has God blessed you in safety?  Do you trust the shield of salvation?  Do you trust in the hand of God to protect you?  Are you great in your greatness or in the gentleness of God toward you?

 Has God blessed your confidence, your growth?  As you walk, wherever you go do you sense God enlarging your foundation so that you do keep going onward and upward?
 If you have not been completed by the Gifts of God, it may be because you haven't by faith accepted them.

Look at the Gifts of God to Us
The Word of God - Hebrews 4:12   For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Armor of God - Eph 6:14   Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  15   And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16   Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  17   And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The Spirit of God - 2 Tim 1:7   For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

The Voice of God - Luke 21:15   For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

The Fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5: 22   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  23   Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  24   And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The Keys of the Kingdom - Matt 16: 19   And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
These are God’s gifts, now will you pick them up and use them?

Illustration: Moses' staff turns into a serpent by Gods power.

Moses' reaction was to run from it, but God's commanded him to pick it up and use it. God’s gifts to us are much like the staff of Moses, God has provided what we need to be complete in him but too often we are afraid to take them up. You accept the gifts of God when you begin to use the gifts of God.

Transition:  At that point where I am willing to pick up and use God's gifts, then begins the final step, Complete in God's Victory.

Experiencing God's Victory   Psalms 18:37-43

I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.  I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.  For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.  Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.  They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.  Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.  Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.

David Destroys His Enemies Through God's Power

Once again notice the progression of David’s victory, in vs 37, He pursued the enemy. He overtakes the enemy. He then completely destroys the enemy.
He praises God for the victory in vss 39-40. He exclaims, “You have clothed me with strength. You have subdued those against me. You have given me the necks of my enemies. That I might destroy them.”

Do we really want to win with God?
First I must pursue,
Determine where and who the enemy is in my life - Fear, Apathy, Ignorance, Sin
What is defeating you?

Next I must overtake, not be overtaken.
Must be willing to go on the offense with my enemy.
Make a conscious, active, decisive commitment to begin the fight.

Then I must destroy the enemy.  How? Just as David did, in the power of God. It must be God's strength, God's subjugation, it must be God's exposing the enemy's necks, but

I must deliver the final killing blow.
Am I willing ultimately to rid my life of this enemy?  Once and for all completely.
You see this is often the problem, this final stroke. I think it is a problem for us because what God has called an enemy in my life and relationship with Him, I used to call a friend, something or someone I enjoyed, loved or thought I needed.

Illustration:  Joshua killing the 5 kings while the army stood on necks. Joshua 10:22-26
God commanded the Children of Israel to completely annihilate all the cities of Canaan.  Why was God so cruel? Because the sin of the Canaanites was so great that to leave any trace behind would be to allow it to survive and later to flourish. This is exactly what happened, because they would not completely wipe out the enemy, the enemy returned and ultimately destroyed them and their relationship to the God who saved them.

We must be willing to put the sword to the neck of those thing in our life that keep us from God and too many times I am not.

Conclusion

David’s experience of God.
David was the greatest king Israel ever had.  In spite of his sin, failures and disappointments he was always able to find everything he needed in his God.  David could always say "He maketh my way perfect" because he when it was time, he completely surrendered, trusted the completeness of God's gifts and fought for complete victory over his enemies.    

What about you?  Have you experienced the completeness of God in your life?  Have you completely surrendered to God?  Are you using the power of God's gifts?  Are you willing to confront, fight and destroy the enemies which God will subdue in your life?
Are you willing and wanting to experience God in your life?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Freedom In Christ John 8


Freedom In Christ

Text: John 8

Key Verse John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free



Introduction:

The Truth
"Doc," said Frank, "if there is anything the matter with me, don't scare me half to death by giving it a long name; just tell me what it is in plain English." "Well," said the doctor, "to be frank with you, then, you are just plain lazy."

"Thank you, doctor," sighed the patient with relief; "now give me a big, long name for it, so I can go home and tell my wife."

That man didn’t want to acknowledge his true condition. He is much like the people in our passage today, they refused to acknowledge their condition before Jesus as people held in bondage to sin and needing an emancipator.

There was a time when our nation did  see that it was in bondage to a King and another country that had become tyrants, it is that day we are commemorating today and on Independence day, July the 4th.

Declaration of Independence.  After all the reason for independence the concluding paragraphs says….

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.
That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

At the point of that declaration our country became a free country.  There were still many battles to fight and a war to win but we were now a free people.

Have you ever considered the need for a declaration of freedom in your own lives?  Can we recall a day, a time, a place, where we went from bondage to freedom? Some may say, "Set Free?  We aren't slaves. We are free people, we are Americans."   But the slavery I'm speaking of is so much a part of us it isn't recognized as slavery.  It is a slavery we are born into, it is a slavery we can’t escape by fighting a war are following the underground railroad. This slavery is who we are even if we don’t know that we are in bonds.

Jesus dealt with this type of slavery in John 8.  Turn to verse 30 and listen as Jesus will point us to the One Way of Freedom.

All or Nothing Believing   John 8:30

As he spake these words, many believed on him. 

To Those who had believed


Jesus, addresses the Jews who seemingly had believed in him. There is no difference in this word in the Greek that would tell us their belief was something different than the belief in John 3:16 but though the word is not different the proof of their belief is vastly different.
So What had these Jews believed? Let’s look back in to the context of what Jesus had just been teaching in John 8:12-30

Jesus is the Light, The revelation of God Vs. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Jesus was from Heaven, from God Vs 23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Jesus would be lifted up by them. Vs. 28  Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

Have you believed the same way?


You accept the claims of Christ. That He was God's Son, that he was Messiah, that he was the rightful King of Israel. You accept the historical Christ. That He was virgin born, that He turned water to wine, that he healed the sick, that he raised the dead. You believe he died on the cross, you believe that he rose again.

Yet your belief only involves your head and not your heart, your mind but not your life. It is a belief in someone who is no more real to you now than George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.  Great men who did great things but not alive today not able to change lives and history now. A belief like that cannot save you, it cannot set you free. It cannot really save you because before you can be saved you must realize that you are lost. Before you can be free you must understand that you are bound by sin.

Blondin crossing Niagara Falls on a Tight rope


A huge crowd was watching the famous tightrope walker, Blondin, cross Niagara Falls one day in 1860. He crossed it numerous times—a 1,000 foot trip, 160 feet above the raging waters. He asked the crowd if they believed he could take one person across. All assented. Then he approached one man and asked him to get on his back and go with him. The man refused!

You see mental assent or even verbal assent is not real belief. In order to really believe in the tightrope walker’s ability, the believer had to put himself in the power of the man holding the wheelbarrow. The difference between us and this illustration is that we are already in the wheelbarrow and it is about to pushed out on the line and we must really believe before it is too late. You are going to go you only choice is going alone or letting Jesus take control.

Transition: What did Jesus tell those who "believed" in John 8?
They must continue in His word.  They must be disciples.

Acid Test of Believing John 8:31-32


Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

True Belief Meant Continuing in His Word.


Continuing was the acid test of profession. Notice the singular "word" not words.  This is the Greek word we are familiar with, Logos. In this context Jesus is saying true faith, really believing in Me, means continuing in everything that he teaches and everything that He is. It is all or it is nothing.

No picking and choosing, all. We cannot be like the Bible, Thomas Jefferson's made when he removed all the miracles of Christ from the New Testament and left just the man but not God. We must believe in Jesus as He says not as we wish or we can change to fit our concept of Him.
Then Jesus goes on, because they continued in the word, they would truly be disciples and as disciples, they would know the truth and the truth would make them free.

Not truth in a general sense but truth as God’s truth. Truth as God revealed it to Israel by the prophets and truth as it was not being revealed in the person of Jesus the Christ. The truth He says that held the key to real freedom, the truth that would make them free.

True freedom meant being a true disciple, a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
And the Jews who professed their belief are confronted with this paradox, to be free they must become slaves, servants to Jesus.

Here was the acid test. Believing, meant trusting not just with their mind but with their mind, heart body and soul. It meant believing it with their life by giving that life to Him and being His follower.
Scripture: Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Are We Followers or False Professers?


The world is filled with people who say they are Christians. 
By this they mean they believe in Jesus Christ. But their actions reveal that they cannot be Christians for they do are not committed to Christ, they have not continued in His Word.

Examples
History is filled with examples of men who murdered, stole and deceived all in the name of Christ.
Constantine was the first so called "Christian" Emperor.   He claimed to see a vision of a burning cross and the words "With this conquer."  He then called himself a believer and ordered his men to march across the Tiber River thus baptizing them.  From that seed sprung the fruits of of a pagan/ Christian hybrid that many who call themselves Christians believe in, but they know no more about Christ than did Constantine or the Jews in John 8.

A few years ago in Northern Ireland people who called themselves Christians were planting bombs and killing other people who called themselves Christian.
Here in the south 50 or 60 years ago people who called themselves Christians would bar other Christians from attending the same church unless they sat in the back segregated from those who had a different skin color.

Let me say emphatically, those were not Christians in the sense of being a follower of Jesus, not based upon what we read in John 8. They professed to believe but they did not continue in Christ's Word. They were not willing to become slaves in order to be made free.
Jesus said it is not a verbal or mental assent that marks you as a Christian, it is the commitment the always follows true belief in Jesus the Son of God. Commitment to follow Him and commitment to trust His Word.

Nor are we truly believers when we can pick and choose what we will believe about the person of Christ.

He must be both God and man, King and servant, dead once but today alive.He must be virgin born of Mary, He must be the one who turned water to wine, He must be the one who walked on water, multiplied the loaves and fishes, healed the sick, and raised the dead.He must be the one who died on the cross for my sin, He must be the one who was buried in Joseph's tomb, he must be the one who bodily rose from that tomb and then ascended back into heaven.  He must be the one who even now sits at the right hand of God waiting to return and claim His kingdom. He must be the one who sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  He must be the one who appeared to Paul on the Damascus road.  He must be the one who freed Peter from prison.  He must be the one who appeared as Alpha and Omega to John on the Isle of Patmos. He must be the one who touches my heart.  He must be the one who calls my name and shows me He is real.  He must be Lord of creation and Lord of my life.

Illustration: Ghandi refuses Christianity


A deplorable incident occurred in the life of Mahatma Ghandi. He said in his autobiography that during his student days he was interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by reading the gospels, he seriously considered becoming a convert. Christianity seemed to offer the real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. One Sunday he went to a church to see the minister and ask for instruction on the way of salvation and other Christian doctrines. But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused him a seat and suggested that he go and worship with his own people. He left and never went back. "If Christians have caste differences also," he said to himself, "I might as well remain a Hindu."

Transition: Reaction of those Jews who believed

When they heard what Jesus said Do you know what they reacted to? It was the word free. They did not think they were slaves.

Antidote to Slavery is Believing John 8:33-37

They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

They Refuse To See Their Chains


"We are not in bondage to any man"
They said they were free from political slavery, they were their own people.
In reality they were under the subjugation of the Roman Empire and had no freedom whatsoever.  In less the 40 years from this day the Romans would come and destroy the city of Jerusalem because they would try to assert their imagined freedom.
But Jesus wasn't speaking of political freedom.  He told them "whoever commits sin is the servant of sin."

In reality, they were not free politically nor were they free spiritually, but the freedom through truth Jesus spoke of was not political but spiritual freedom.

The answer to spiritual slavery was Jesus.  "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." 
Freedom was through Him and Him only. Only by knowing and following Him could they really be free.

John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the father but by me."
Acts 4:12  " Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Jesus confirms that they are Abraham's seed but tells them it means nothing and that is proven because they are trying to kill him. 

Why?  Because His Word, His truth, His declaration of Himself and of salvation, could find no place in them. It could not penetrate their traditions, their pride, their arrogance or their blindness to remedy their own lost condition and slavery to sin and set them free.

Have You Seen Your Chains?


Until we come to Christ we are slaves just like the Jews.
We are slaves to others, to the people around us, to their expectations, to their opinions, to their acceptance or rejection of us. I am a slave to my laziness, a slave to my bitterness, a slave to my ambition, a slave to my ego, a slave to my shyness, a slave to my bad habits, a slave to my physical body with all its ailments and weaknesses.

And all this true because at the root of it all, we are slaves to sin
Jesus says in verse 34, He who commits sin is the slave of sin. Are any of us exempt from that statement? No, because we have all experienced the slippery slope of sin.  With each act it becomes easier to commit the next.  Every time I give myself to it, it gains more control over me.  Until I realize I was never in control at all. I am the slave of sin.

"Sin, like the worst narcotic, is habit forming." A.T. Robertson.

I'm a slave, we are all slaves and the only way to find freedom is in Jesus Christ.
John 8:35-36 35  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

What We Must Do To Be Free?


We must commit ourselves to Jesus Christ. Our heart, body, soul, mind and strength, the whole man must be given to our Lord and savior Jesus.  It is all of us or none of us.

Example: John 13:8 Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet. “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."

Let the Word find lodging in our hearts.
The Word of God (All Scripture)
The Words (teaching) of Jesus
And God the Word Incarnate, (Jesus)

Illustration: Matthew 13 the sower and the seed.  


You choose which soil is your heart.
Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4  And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6  And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13: 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Which soil is your heart this morning, hard packed wayside soul, stony hearted soil, a heart crowded with the things of this world or a heart like good ground, tilled, turned and ready to accept the word deep within and commit yourself to the sower, Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: 


Are you free today? Would you be set free today? Then the words of Jesus are clear, If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” It is not a time for a mere mental assent to His existence. It is not time for a profession of belief that doesn’t come from your heart. To be set free you must see your chains and commit yourself to the Son of God who will set you free, free indeed!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Men of Faith #4: Joshua Man of Submission Joshua 5:13-6:15


Men of Faith #4: Joshua Man of Submission
Text: Joshua 5:13-6:15



Introduction
On some air bases the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle.  One day on just such a field the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"

The tower responded, "Who is calling?"

The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"

The tower replied "It makes a lot of difference.  If it is an American Airlines Flight, it is 3 o'clock.  If it is an Air Force flight, it is 1500 hours.  If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells.  If it is an Army aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3.  If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon.  If it's National Guard, it's still a couple of hours until quitting time."

The air traffic director in the tower knew that who you are talking to makes all the difference. As we continue our series on Men of Faith, in our passage today Joshua is going to learn who he is talking to when he goes out of the camp to survey and plan the upcoming battle for the city of Jericho, one of the oldest and best defended cities in all of Canaan.

We can imagine the scene as Joshua, at the beginning of chapter 5, having reaffirmed the covenant by having all the uncircumcised males that had come out of Egypt or been born in the wilderness circumcised and the army needing time to recuperate, so Joshua the leader of the Israel takes a day to plan.  He goes outside the camp, perhaps on a hill and looks upon Jericho, some say it was the oldest city in all the earth. Archeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950s found a city that dated back to 9250 BC. With stone walls and ramparts the armies of Israel had no real way to take the city. Perhaps to think this through, perhaps to pray Joshua goes outside the camp and look at Jericho, but then instead of finding a battle plan he finds the Captain of the Lord’s host. 

Walking With God

Joshua 5:13-6:5 13  And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?  And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?  15  And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Joshua 6:1-5  1  Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2  And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.  3  And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.  4  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.  5  And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. 

Victory in Submission

Joshua is confronted by an armed man just a short distance away from the enemy city he would soon be fighting. The man stands before Joshua with a drawn sword, the Bible says against him, this means the armed man was standing in challenge to Joshua and Joshua approaches and asks the question, Are you for us or for our enemies? The man instead of answer tells Joshua he is asking the wrong question. He says, “No, but as Captain of the Host of the LORD am I now come. The word LORD you will notice is in capital letters in your KJV showing that the word this man used was the personal name of God, the name that Moses had heard at the burning bush, the name that meant I AM. The man who stands before Joshua says I am the Captain of the army of Jehovah. 

 

When Joshua hears this, he falls on his face in worship and tells his captain, “What is your command to me?” The Captain tells him to remove his shoe for the place you stand is holy and Joshua does as the Captain tells him. 

 

Who exactly is this captain and why does Joshua show him such honor? What do we know about him from these two verses?

 

We know that he is the Captain of the Army of God. We know that Joshua falls before him and that the Captain does not tell him not to do so. We know that Joshua is told to remove his shoes for the ground he stand upon is holy. 

 

When we look in out Bible we find that only one person fits the events described here. In revelation we read that Jesus mounted on a white horse will one day lead the host of heaven to destroy the army of the Anti-Christ with the sword of his Word. We know that the Captain received worship from Joshua and that only God is worthy of worship and that when John in Revelation fell at the feet of an angel he was told, “See that thou do it not.” Finally, the greatest element of knowing who this truly is lays in the first command given to Joshua, “Take off your shoe for the place you stand is holy.” This is the exact command that was given to Moses as he stood before the burning bush and was commissioned by God to go and free His people from Egypt. It should not be hard for us then to realize that this is not just and angel, not just a supernatural warrior, not just a special messenger from God but that this is Jesus, the Son of God, very God of very God, God in the flesh. Here he appears to Joshua in a pre-incarnate theophany as the Captain of the Army of Jehovah. 

 

Joshua then listens as his Captain, his Savior, his God tells him how Jericho is going to be taken. 

 

Victory in Kneeling

I see a tremendous lesson, an application for our own lives that we must comprehend if we are to find victory in the battles of our life. Just like Joshua before we can have victory we must truly know who Jesus is and we must bow ourselves before Him and listen as He gives us the victory. 

 

The 3 R's of Submission

Relationship - Do we really know God "face to face?"

Only a personal knowledge of God will create the patience, the trust and the love needed to wait on God's victory. You will not be able to obey or trust one who you do not know. Faith, God’s word says, comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You better know when you hear Him who speaks to you from the Word of God. 

 

Reverence - After our relationship comes our reverence, our worship of God. Where do you find yourself in the stages of worshipping God?

Are you just seeing God, as Joshua did when he was confronted by Captain with the drawn sword? And believe me if you are really seeing Jesus then Jesus will always stand to confront you. It might be to confront your unbelief, or to confront your stubbornness, or even your pain and sorrow but Jesus always stand waiting for us to give up something to Him.

After seeing then we must hear God, especially at times of challenge in our life. Like Daniel, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter or any of the great heroes of scripture, God speaks to us in the times of our greatest challenges but we must be willing to hear.

Once we hear God then we must bow before Him. No other action can be contemplated nor given once we know God’s voice, once we hear His command we must submit. We must bow our will, our plans, our future and give ourselves to him. Like Joshua we must say, “What saith My Lord to His servant?”

Then and only then, after submitting will we experience the Holiness of God. After Joshua had submitting himself, then Jesus said, “the place you stand is holy.” If you would truly know the power of the holiness of God then you must give yourself wholly to God. 

 

Response - The final aspect of real worship, of truly meeting with God is in our response- If meeting with God does not set you on a course of action, does not change us and move us in a different direction, does not drive us to repentance, then have we really met with God at all?

Until we see him, hear him, bow before him and experience Him in his holiness we will find the full victory of God in our lives.

Isn’t that what God himself says in Psalms 46:10-11 Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

 

Illustration:

I don’t want to be like the Hebrews the base of Mt. Zion who refused to come close enough to the mountain to even hear the Word of God but stood at a distance hearing the thunder and lightning but filled with fear instead of longing to worship and meet with their God. No, I want to be like Moses who ascended the heights and begged of God Almighty, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” I then want to hear Him say to me as he did to Moses, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:..” Exodus 33:21

 

Transition: that rock is Jesus Christ and through Him I can behold the glory of God. Joshua experienced Jesus as the Captain of the Army of Jehovah and in the experience he was able to wait for God to bring the victory.


Waiting For God Joshua 6:10-6:14

10  And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.  11  So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. 12  And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13  And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 14  And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.

Waiting To Win

Jesus had given very specific instruction to Joshua and he relayed them to the Hebrews, Six days exactly of marching and trumpets. There was to be no shouting until the seventh day and on the seventh day they were to truly shout. For on the seventh day and only on the seventh would the walls fall if they had done as they were commanded. To change the time frame, to chang e the order of the march, to change when to shout or how many times to march around the city, would have meant failure, ridicule and shame.

The army of Israel had to learn to wait on God if they were to have victory over the enemies of God in the promised land. 

 

Waiting or Stalling

I once knew a missionary who never went on deputation. He went to Bible college. He told us he was called, but he never went to the Lord’s churches sharing that call and burden. He would tell me.  “I’m waiting on God for the right time.”  That kind of waiting on God is not what we see happening in Joshua chapter 6. If we are not careful we can be those Christians who spend their entire existence sitting on their comfortable pews, in their comfortable churches, supported by their comfortable jobs because they’re “waiting on God.” That’s not waiting on God that is stalling instead of serving God.

 

Listen, waiting on God never means inactivity. Waiting on God means active involvement in doing that which God has commanded us to do. God’s Word is filled with actions that we should be doing in his service. When we wait on the Lord, we wait for the victory but not for the fight. We fight until we see the victory God has promised and will provide. 

 

Isaiah 40:31 They that wait upon the lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary they shall walk and not faint.

 

I know some of you are saying “Yes, but it’s hard to fly with the eagles when you surrounded by turkeys.”  (No don’t look around.) Well this morning God says “Get your eyes off the turkeys and put them on Me!

 

You want to know the secret of waiting on God? The secret or the ability to wait upon the Lord is found when we realize that through Him the victory is already ours. It is not something we are going achieve in our own power but something we will see through the eyes of faith accomplished by the power of God. 

 

Illustration: Knowing the Victory is Ours

There was a Glasgow professor named MacDonald who, along with a Scottish chaplain, had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines. They were put in a prison camp. A high wire fence separated the Americans from the British, and the Germans made it next to impossible for the two sides to communicate. MacDonald was put in the American barracks and the chaplain was housed with the Brits.

Every day the two men would meet at the fence and exchange a greeting. Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, something more precious than food in a prison camp. Every day, MacDonald would take a headline or two to the fence and share it with the chaplain in the ancient Gaelic language, indecipherable to the Germans.

One day, news came over the little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks.

Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. When the German guards finally heard the news three nights later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, Brits and Americans walked out as free men. Yet they had truly been set free three days earlier by the news that the war was over.

With Christ as our Captain, he has already won the battles of our life.  The battles with finances, won! The battle with sinful habits, won! The battle with this world stealing our children won! Whatever the battle is it is won already in the power of Christ and now wait not for our own power to win battles that are already over but we simply wait to see victory declared. We need to be like these POWs and start acting living in victory until we see the gates flung open wide.

Transition:

We have seen Joshua walk with God, we have watched as he waited for God those seven days of marching and now go to verse 15 of Joshua 6 and see as Joshua wins by God. 

 

Winning By God Joshua 6:15-16

15  And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.  16  And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.

Not the Army but God

It was God that had prepared the enemies hearts. It was God who had protected the spies through his providence of a harlot name Rahab. It was God the son, Jesus, the Capain of Jehovah’s army that had planned the attack. And finally, it was God that paved the way into Jericho with a fallen wall, turning their greatest obstacle into their greatest opportunity.

 

Not Us But Him

One final application I wish to make this morning, when it comes to our battles, our obstacles, our faults and our failures, if we are to ever win against these things then we must believe that it is not by us that victory will come but it will be by Him. 

 

If we are experience victory over Satan and this world then we must follow our Captains commands. Too often we fail because we start to march around our Jerichos but then quit before the 7th day, or we shout when we are to be silent or we forget to blow the trumpets, or for some they refuse to march at all. The victory that is promised to us in God’s power is turned to defeat because we didn’t fight as God has commanded.

 

Sometimes we miss victory because we are fighting in our own power and not His. We only want God to open the Gates of Jericho so we can finish the battle or we only want God to give us a boost over the wall instead of waiting for him to knock the walls down flat. We claim to be fighting for God but we do it in our own power and seek our own glory, not His. We need to learn that God will not be a member of your supporting staff. He is not on our advisory council of life. He is the Captain who plans the battle, leads the charge and then plants the conquering flag in the heart of the defeated city. 

 

We need to find God’s power and God’s victories in our life this morning. How many ancient defended cities of Jericho have fallen in your life by the God's power? Has that well defended sinful habit been conquered? Has that impregnable broken relationship been healed? Has your walled and hardened heart towards others been changed? 

 

If you are not able to count victories in your life, on your job, in your home, in your relationships and in your church, Why not? Can God be defeated? Has He not made great and precious promises to us as his children in His Word?  Then where are the promised victories? Perhaps you have been fighting without truly seeing him, hearing him, submitting to him and experiencing Him. Perhaps you have been stalling instead of truly waiting. Perhaps you have not found his power but have been depending on your own strength therefore you have also not found His victory.

 

Psalms 20:7 -8 Some trust in horses and some in chariots but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen and stand upright.

 

We want to be in the latter group that remember the name of the LORD or God. We want to rise and stand upright in the victories that submitting to God brings. 

 

The Pastor and the prisoners

Colin Chapman, in the book, “The Case for Christianity,” quotes Ugandan pastor Festo Kivengere's account of the 1973 execution by firing squad of three men from his diocese: 

 

February 10 began as a sad day for us in Kabale. People were commanded to come to the stadium and witness the execution. Death permeated the atmosphere. A silent crowd of about three thousand was there to watch. I had permission from the authorities to speak to the men before they died, and two of my fellow ministers were with me. 

 

They brought the men in a truck and unloaded them. They were handcuffed, and their feet were chained. The firing squad stood at attention. As we walked into the center of the stadium, I was wondering what to say. How do you give the gospel to doomed men who are probably seething with rage? 

 

We approached them from behind, and as they turned to look at us, what a sight! Their faces were all alight with an unmistakable glow and radiance. 

 

Before we could say anything, one of them burst out: "Brother, thank you for coming! I wanted to tell you. The day I was arrested, in my prison cell, I asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart. He came in and forgave me all my sins! Heaven is now open, and there is nothing between me and my God! Please tell my wife and children that I am going to be with Jesus. Ask them to accept him into their lives as I did." The other two men told similar stories, excitedly raising their hands which rattled their handcuffs. 

 

I felt that what I needed to do was to talk to the soldiers, not to the condemned. So I translated what the men had said into a language the soldiers understood. The military men were standing there with guns cocked and bewilderment on their faces. They were so dumbfounded that they forgot to put the hoods over the men's faces! The three faced the firing squad standing close together. They looked toward the people and began to wave, handcuffs and all. The people waved back. Then shots were fired, and the three were with Jesus. 

 

We stood in front of them, our own hearts throbbing with joy, mingled with tears. It was a day never to be forgotten. Though dead, the men spoke loudly to all of Kigezi District and beyond, so that there was an upsurge of life in Christ, which challenges death and then defeats it.

 

Conclusion:

Who is your Captain today?   Have you stood like Joshua facing the challenges of life and heard the voice of Jesus?  Have you spoken to Him?  Have you bowed before Him?

It could begin right here with your response to His always present challenge, with sword drawn Jesus stands before and says, “As Captain of the Hosts of Jehovah, I am come” How will you answer his challenge? Will you stand with your sword drawn in defiance to God or will you fall on your face and put off your self and experience the holiness of God?