Going For the Mountain (Senior Saints Sunday 2021)Video Link
MS Doc Link
Text: Joshua 14:6-15
Introduction: Triple threat
Sunday. We are celebrating our Senior Saints, the 5th anniversary of my and LeeOra’s ministry here at Calvary and next
week is Thanksgiving and we always want to give
thanks to the Lord for His blessing in our lives, families and church.
I want to focus my sermon on our Senior Saints. We are going
to give thanks and honor them today for their faithful service for our Savior. The
Bible is filled with stories of faithful servants for the Lord. It is a book
filled with men and women who history, time and eternity recognize as great and
notable men and women. One of the interesting thing about many of these heroes
of the Bible is their age. God’s service has no age requirement nor age limit,
many of the greatest servants of the Lord were also some of the oldest.
Ages of Bible characters. Moses, Aaron and Miriam were all over
80 when they began the work to bring Israel to the Promised Land and over 120
when they arrived at the border. Joshua would have been over 68 when he began
the campaign to conquer the land. And never forget that Colonel Sanders was 80
when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken.
So let me tell you a story that illustrates why old people can
be a lot smarter and tougher than you think. “The Game”
On an overseas flight, a lawyer and an senior citizen were in
adjoining seats. The lawyer asked the senior if he’d like to play a little
game. The older man was tired, and he told the lawyer he only wanted to sleep. But
the lawyer insisted the game was a lot of fun and he would give 20 to 1 odds if
the senior would play.
“Here’s how it works,” he said. “I’ll ask you a question. If
you can’t come up with the answer, you just have to give me a dollar. Then it’s
your turn to ask me one. But if I can’t answer it, then I have to give you
The senior figured it’d be worth a dollar just to get to
sleep, so he agreed to play. The first question from the lawyer was “How far
apart are the earth and the moon?”
The old guy didn't say
a thing, he just reached for his wallet, grabbed a dollar, and gave it to the
lawyer. Then he said, “Okay, my turn. What walks upstairs backward and comes
downstairs forward?” After pausing for a moment he then closed his eyes and
took a nap.
The lawyer was stumped. He thought and thought. He tried to
remember all the riddles he knew. He searched every corner of his brain. He
even cheated and asked the flight attendants and other passengers and pulled
his smart phone and googled it, but nothing. Finally he gave up. He woke up the
older man and said, “I can’t figure it out, here’s your twenty.” The senior
stuffed the twenty in his coat and turned to go back to sleep..
But the lawyer said, “Now wait a minute. I have to know. What
walks upstairs backward and comes downstairs forward?” The senior got out his wallet, gave the
lawyer a dollar, and then went back to sleep. The moral of the story is don’t
mess with an old guy who wants to take a nap.
Now let's turn to Caleb. As a younger man, along with Joshua,
they were the only two who came back after spying out the Promised Land and
said, “We can win.” He was probably in his late 30s if not 40’s then but I want
us to consider Caleb at the end of the conquest of Canaan. He along with Joshua
and the Hebrew Army, have conquered the Promised Land. It may have been
promised but Caleb knew it was not gifted. It was deeded to them by God but
they had to claim their heritage. Now after 40 year in the wilderness, Caleb
comes to Joshua as the land is being divided. He has the right to expect some
special treatment. He was one of the faithful spies, he has been at Moses and
Joshua’s side for 50 years or more. No one would think anything of it, if Caleb
requested the most well watered verdant valley in all of Israel as his reward,
but instead, this now 80 year old hero, asks for a mountain filled with giants.
That is a super senior saint. And I can’t think of a better subject for our
senior saints Sunday.
Throughout the life of Caleb there is one great trait that we
see exhibited over and over. Caleb is a man of faith. That is a lesson that is
greatly needed at all stages of life from 8 to 80. At any stage of life we can be confronted by crises
and battles and it will take the courage of faith to go forward into the fight.
We need people like Caleb, who by faith, claimed a mountain filled with giants and
then won that mountain.
Caleb’s Faith: The Commitment - Joshua 14:6-9
Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's forever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
Caleb's Faith Began In Obedience
The First thing I see in Caleb’s request to Joshua is the key to his faith. It is found in his obedience to God. An obedience that is demonstrated in three ways.
First, Caleb’s obedience was a full commitment to God -
Joshua 14:8 I wholly followed the LORD my ,
2nd Caleb’s obedience was clear and evident to others
Joshua 14:9 Moses sware…thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
3rd, Caleb’s faith was not daunted by seemingly impossible difficulties. When they found out about the giants in the land, his response was…
Numbers 13:30 “Let us go up and possess it”
People of Faith are Committed
The first lesson you must learn about faith is that it is one act of obedience built upon another act of obedience. One commitment leads to a greater commitments.
In this case faith is a kind of deductive learning. We move from the general to the specific, from general obedience that applies to all to specific acts of faith that only deal with us. We move from just living the Christian life to fighting in the battles and crises of our own life. and if you can't be obedient in the small things, like church attendance, or tithing or praying then you will not be able to handle the real battles of faith that come in all our lives. You can't claim the mountain filled with giants if you did not obey God at the border of the Promised Land!
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Romans 1:17 tells us that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
Faith is a learning, growing part of our spiritual life, it begins in small acts of obedience then grows to great deeds of faith in the spiritual battles of our life.
Romans 10:17 Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God
Faith is based upon hearing God's word, and then acting upon what we hear.
The key to faith is committing to be obedient to the commands of God, no matter the cost, fear, risk or difficulty of the task.. You will never be faithful, never, until you first commit to be obedient.
Illustration: The Three Hebrew Children
Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
This was the first time they had been in a fiery furnace. But not the first time they had obeyed God. They could not know exactly what God would do, but they absolutely knew exactly what they would do. They would obey God!
So the key to faith, heroic faith is obedience and commitment, if we could count that as a lesson learned today, we could say that today was a good day in the Lord’s house. However, we can’t count it as a finished sermon, because I’ve got two more points. For the next one we have to go back to beginning of the Exodus when Caleb was a much younger man and first met Moses.
Caleb’s Faith: The Foundation Exodus 3:8
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Caleb’s Faith Built On God's Will
This passage is first heard by Moses during his experience at the burning bush. He had fled Egypt for killing a slaver overseer, who was beating his kinsmen. It has been 40 years since he ran away that day. He had a new life, a new family a new outlook. He is now 80 years old and suddenly, God is commanding him to return to Egypt to the old life and challenge the Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”
This statement in Exodus 3:8, is Moses’ commission and when the Hebrews are told this is what Jehovah has said, this is the will of God, then it becomes the foundation of their faith. For Moses, Joshua and Caleb, everything they will do from this point forward, is based upon what God had spoken through Moses.
Caleb also had God’s promise through Moses to him personally. He had moved from general faith for all the people of God to that which was specific to him.
In Numbers 14:24 – The Lord spoke through Moses and said, “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
This was the promise, the foundation Caleb now stood upon as he came before Joshua to claim his mountain. It was the reason he believed that if God was with him, then he could take a mountain filled with giants protected behind fortified city walls.
This bring us to our next application about faith. …
People of Faith Know God's Will
You can’t have faith, real mountain moving, mountain claiming, mountains conquering faith, unless that faith is based upon God’s will.
Now God’s will is not vague or hard to comprehend. It is not an emotional feeling or a dream or a vision. Nor is God’s will determined by circumstances you encounter in your life. Let me go a little further and state that we are to pray for God’s will to be done but we are not instructed to prayer for God’s will to be revealed because it has already been revealed here in God's written word.
Not it is true that many people believe that God leads us by the signs, circumstance, open and closed doors of life or feelings and emotions.
But I think they are a little like the country boy who was out plowing on his daddy’s farm. He stopped in the middle of the field and was overheard praying, “Oh, Lord. This cotton field is big and so full of rocks, it’s hot , this ol’ tractor ain’t got no air-conditioned and I am so tired. Lord, I think I’ve been called to preach.”
To be able to claim mountains climb mountains, and conquer mountains, you must know and believe that God’s will is revealed in His Word.
Deut 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Romans 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
Deut 30:11-14 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
So, what was God's will for Israel? Go, conquer the land, and possess it. That is what Caleb knew and that is what he did. That is what his faith was founded upon.
Then what is God’s will for the Church? It is not any harder to know than what God told Moses. Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
It is simply “Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach.
What about God's will for me? Here is a quick list from 1 Timothy, that we can spend a lifetime trying to fulfill. (Ready for another sub-sermon? Here we go 4 S’s of God’s Will from the epistles to Timothy)
Be Saved 1 Tim 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Be Strong 2 Tim 1:7-8 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Be Separate 2 Tim 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Be Studious 2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
What we see is that God’s will is revealed and built upon God’s Word, when I know God’s Word, I know God’s Will and when I know God’s will I have a sure foundation for my faith. God’s Word must be the foundation of my faith or it will not stand.
Illustration: Jesus Himself Holds His Word as Paramount in our lives
When Jesus warned his followers about the end of this age in the book of Luke, this is what He told them to give them strength and comfort. Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
So far, what we have seen in the life of Caleb so far is words, good, powerful words but it requires more than words to prove faith. It requires deeds to give evidence of faith. As James 2:18 said, “…shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
Caleb’s Faith: The Test - Joshua 14:11-12
As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. (that means I’m can start the fight and you better believe I can finish the fight.) Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
Caleb's Faith Tested on Mt Hebron
Because of His commitment, because he believed God’s Word, Caleb was established in faith and that faith grew and that strong faith meant that after 40 years fighting and surviving in the wilderness, Caleb was still strong. He claims he is as strong as when they first began the journey. And he is willing to prove it.
Caleb has claimed the hardest possession in the land, Kirjatharba. That name literally means the city of Arba. Arba who was a giant and this city was his home and all his large family of very large warriors lived there behind high thick walls. But Caleb says, “Give me that giant mountain, with that giant city at the top, filled with giant people behind giant walls. I am strong enough to conquer it in the name of the Lord!”
The Bible says in Vs. 13-15 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh, Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.
This is the highest city in Palestine, this is the very place the spies looked at and said, “We are as grasshopper in their sight.” Caleb with his action said, “You got it wrong we are not grasshoppers, we are giant killers. Give me that Mountain and I’ll prove it.”
Years later in this same mountain, after Caleb had conquered the giants, David who killed the giant Goliath, would be crowned King of Judah and King of Israel. The city of Kirjatharba went from a fortress of enemy giants to Hebron, the footstool of a conquering King, and it began with the faith of Caleb.
Let me give you this last maxim for mountain conquering faith.
People of Faith Are Battle Hardened
Faith is our most important spiritual muscle, it is a spiritual skill and like all muscles and skills, it must be put to use in order to become strong.
Paul says we need to understand, we are in a battle. Ephesians 6:12-13 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Jesus didn’t hide this truth, he also warns us of the battle. John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
So it comes down to this reality regarding strong faith. If there have been no fierce battles then there can be no strong faith. The battles of life for a Christian are fought with the shield of faith and if you haven’t or are afraid to enter into those battles, then you can't possibly handle your shield. No wonder so many Christian's fail the crucial tests of life, they were never willing to go to battle for the Lord.
Conclusion: The Faith of Adoniram Judson and his family.
Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann were missionaries to Burma, they endured unbearable hardships trying to reach the lost for Christ. They lost several children, to small pox, disease and malnourishment. When Burma went to war against Britain, Adonirom was thrown into Ava Prison, and for 17 months was subjected to horrific mistreatment. Adoniram was bound during nine months of this period with three pairs of fetters, suspended with his feet higher than his head so that this weight was centered on the small of his back at all times. He suffered from fever, intense heat, hunger, repeated disappointments when denied realease and cruel punishment by the pagan keepers. On one occasion, pitifully weak and emaciated, he was driven by whip in chains across the burning tropical sands, until, his back was lacerated and his feet covered with blisters. He fell to the ground and prayed for a speedy death. The stench of the prison place was terrible, with vermin crawling everywhere, and men rotting in their own filth and disease. Judson would have died then except for the tender, persistent ministrations of his wife Ann. Bribing the jailer, under cover of darkness, she crept to the door of Judson’s den, bringing food and whispering words of hope and consolation. He was finally taken from the prison in order to serve as a slave to the Burmese government interpreting for the peace treaty with Britain. During this time he lost all contact with Ann. When he was finally released he found Ann and his only living child living in a hut with a kind native woman, who was nursing their baby as Ann lie dying in a nearby cot. Sickness had left her unable to care for herself or her baby. Even her hair had fallen out leaving her bald and almost unrecognizable as the beautiful woman who had left American with her husband years ago. Now Adonirom cared for his wife and with a Christian doctor who at one time had been imprisoned with Judson, Ann was nursed back to life from the very edge of death.
As a result of the almost 2 years of imprisonment and beatings Judson wore the livid, ugly marks made by the beatings of the rods and rubbing away of his skin by the chains. Still wanting to win the lost in this truly God forsaken land, Adonirom asked for permission from a new ruler to enter another province where he might resume preaching the Gospel. The godless ruler denied his request, giving this reason, "My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary might say, but I fear they might be impressed by your scars and turn to your religion!"
But that was not the end of the battle for Judson. He continued to fight despite terrible cost to himself and his family. His first wife Ann died of a fever, alone while he was off doing God’s work. Three months later he buried his third child next to her grave. He remarried a widow, Sara Boardman, whose missionary husband had come to help in the Burmese work and had also died due to the disease and climate. They had eight children during eleven years of marriage, three of those babies died at an early age. Sara also died in 1845 while trying to return to America for her health.
Judson returned to America after 38 years on the field for his first and only furlough. He was met with huge crowds and great interest about the work, which had been peaked by a book written by Ann and the work of Luther Rice who had been faithfully raising support and interest for the work in Burma since he and Adonirom had set out together as young men for India.
While in America he married Emily Chubbock, who was a brilliant Christian writer. They sailed back to Burma. He finished a Burmese-English dictionary, printed tracts and continued to preach and oversee the mission work. In 1850, after just 3 years back in Burma, Judson and Emily were both very sick. He was carried by stretcher onto a ship to return back to America while Emily recuperated on the coast. He died enroute back home and was buried at sea. Emily lived only until 1854 before she also died.
Though there was not a great deal of success during his lifetime, thirty years after the death of Judson, his three wives and several children, the native work which he started numbered 7,000 converts and 63 churches. There was a Bible translation in Burmese, the first of its kind. The working staff over which he had oversight during his life now consisted of 163 missionaries, native pastors and assistants. There was a publishing house, schools where natives were taught to read, and testimonial in the thousands of the value of his and his family’s life works. One hundred years later, on the anniversary of his death, Burma had some 200,000 Christians and American mission work was inspired as it never had been before to reach lost souls on the foreign missions field.
Most would have quit but Judson, Ann, Sara and Emily along with their children would not and did not. They had made the commitment to obey, they knew God's will and their faith was strengthened by battle.
Shortly before his death Adonirom Judson wrote: I am not tired of my work, neither am I tired of the world; yet, when Christ calls me home, I shall go with gladness.
In spite of
sorrow, loss, and pain,
Our course be onward still;
We sow on Burma’s barren plain,
We reap on Zion’s hill.