Joshua 1:1-9 and Numbers 13 and 14
C.S. Lewis put God on trial for almost seven years every saturday morning in the Cambridge halls of Oxford University. One of his greatest books came out of that search of seven years called "Mere Christianity. He came up with three arguments.
Either God is the greatest liar the world has ever known, making Him worse than satan; or He is the greatest lunatic ever born, and He thinks He really is God; or He is the Lord of all creation and of man. Liar, lunatic, or Lord. But where did it come from? It came from the tutilage of J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of them wrote books later in life written for people who may never come to Church, but may still hear the gospel. That was the whole pupose in writing these books. If you looked at the imagery going on, you would realize the entire history of the world was being retold, in a way, through fantasy.
Men, many of us in our society have lost their way. I think the reason families have fallen apart is because we have not done enough to win these men, and to lead them. So I'm going to ask you today to think about being courageous. I'm going to ask you today to enlist in God's army. We are talking about Joshua today. 39 1/2 years of combat - that's what God called Joshua to be.
Men, you are fathers. You are made in the image of God, your Father. You have a job to do; father the homeless, father the one who has lost a father, father your own, father a generation of young men that need to hear the call. Let us get into the message this morning looking at Joshua 1:1-3:
"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide. 'Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses."
Men, ladies, we need to tread this good earth, and wherever we tread, God will not only be with us, He will redeem with us where we tread. That's what it means to take the land, and to enter into the rest (verses 4-9):.
"Your territory will extend from the desert of Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates - all the Hittite country - to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Three commands, three "I am"s. All of the Trinity stands at our beck and call, by the power of the Spirit within us, to walk this good earth, and to win it back for the Lord. Time to prove your metal, Joshua and Caleb. Here are your orders. Go scout, reconnoiter, map it out, secure proof of what you see, and report back. Dodge the enemy. Don't let him see you.
God is calling us to enlist in His army as Christian soldiers, and follow Him in full obedience, unwavering in our faith, no matter what we encounter. God is commanding us men to give a true testimony and witness to God's chosen people If we are going to stand up in this community, we need to be giving a witness, that is, with our actions, our deeds, and our words. Speak with your mouth, and do by your action, imitating what Christ did. Remember, the Son of man came to seek and save lives, and He came to serve. So first, we have to give a testimony and a witness. Now, here's the deal men. If we do that, we better be accountable. Because, if we fall, whose good name will we let fall? Not ours, but Christ Jesus.
God is commanding us men to lead our families and God's chosen people in courage and in faith. Our secular humanist society would get us so that we are so equal that everything men can do, women can do. Has anyone noticed that will never be possible? For most men, we can do one thing well if we do one thing at a time. Ladies, how about six, seven or eight. We have one job, men: to be leaders. Do not let society rob you of being the leader in your home. That doesn't mean tyrannical! That doesn't mean you're a dictator. It means you're the servant leader. You represent good. You represent Christ himself. We should be willing to give our lives for our wives and our children. I don't just mean physically. Stop letting society rob you, men, of your leadership.
Now masculinity, without the Spirit of God, is toxic. When masculinity and spirituality go side by side and it's tempered, there is love and there's also strong leadership. How many of us see that the trail of despair is all that captures society today? The culture of death. We hear the report of the majority and not the report of the minority. What do I mean by that? We're not hearing from the Christians.
What we believe about God's character, what we know of His faithfulness, what we know of His ability, that will dictate how faithful we are. That will dictate our actions. If we think God doesn't answer prayer anymore, if we think God doesn't do miracles anymore, I'm here to tell you that God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever. The One who could lead Joshua to 39 years of victories is the same One who will lead us in victory today. Do you believe nothing is impossible with God? God just wants you to show up. And God will use you. You'll be amazed at what He does through you. You will be amazed at how He accomplishes what He's about to do. It never ceases to amaze me.
It takes all of us, living lives of holiness and transparency, living lives that are courageous. When we all do it, there will be a power that goes out from us and from this place that nothing can stand against. I'm asking you not only to enlist, but to do your very best for Christ. I'm asking you to follow His orders day and night. I'm asking you to do it with excellence and with courage. In Joshua's day, they were led by the Spirit of God, moment by moment. DId they win, community by community, and bring the Word of God wherever they went? You bet.
Do you know what? They also brought a healthy fear. Sometimes we don't fear the Lord enough. Awe, respect. We are just a dim reflection of Him at best. Folks, because of what Jesus Christ did, we walked into the Holy of Holies. We don't walk into the presence of God; the presence of God lives in us. Where does that courage come from when you stand there? From Him. You're scared. I get it. I am too. If you saw the ten plagues, you'd have awe and you'd have respect.
Our actions and our leadership in the face of adversity will influence others' faith and trust in God. It will. People can lose faith and hope, and then they see you helping just one person and that person finding peace; and you can't imagine what happens to the people who see that event. You can't imagine how they rally. I see the fear in your eyes, the fear that would take me. But not this day! Our faithful response to God's leading influence the depth and strength of our advancement or retreat of God's Kingdom on earth. How we lead, how we influence, will either advance the Kingdom of God or it won't. If we want to advance the Kingdom of God, we will let God lead, and we will advance it further than ever before.
The media, the whole world has Christians afraid to open their mouths. Open it! How many people did Paul influence from jail? Who knows? Rebel against being quiet. You have an order from God to open your mouth. Do it peacefully, lovingly, but open your mouth. Do not be silent. Respond in faith as courageous Godly men. If you stand for Jesus, guess who will come against you? Everybody who doesn't.
Of the original people who went into the desert for 40 years, only the families of Caleb and Joshua made it through. The other 2 million people perished. Wow! Have you seen God's glory? Does God's glory live within you? Then we are without excuse.
Those who do not believe and trust in the Lord will not enter into their inheritance. If we are obedient, we get heaven, we get to see God in person, the big guy. If there's one thing a soldier has to be it's loyal. Every order has to be followed to a tee. Do you know Caleb got a whole piece of the land that even Judah didn't get. The hill of Hebron was his home, along with the servant Joshua. The lives of two great men demonstrate two Godly timeless truths.
If we believe and obey God's Word and His Will for our lives, then we will receive God's blessing. How? In our personal lives first. men and women, each of us; then in our families; then in the life of this Church. Then in the life of our community all around us; Then even to the ends of the earth. Joshua fulfilled his mission all 39 years to perfection. It is possible to make it through this life, and do it well.
As we get older, finishing well is what is important. You cannot retire from God's work. Wherever you go, you are enlisted in the army of God. You are called to continue until the day God takes you to Himself. The retirement plan is beautiful. Let me tell you about it. It is a land flowing with milk and honey, full of riches beyond your wildest dreams; it is a land always present; it is a land always in one another's presence. It is a land where worship and praise never end, where God will wipe every tear from your eye. So if you want to retire, retire when He calls. As long as you are here, I'm going to ask you to stay enlisted. Is that ok?
Seven commands and seven blessings:
1. If you place God first and alone in your life, you will have the blessing of eternal life.
2. If you place your trust in God alone, you will have the blessing of peace. Because your trust is not an earthly thing, it's in God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
3. Tell others of God's goodness. Be a blessing of encouragement to others. Encourage others to keep the faith. Be a blessing of assurance in your faith, and they will have assurance in their faith.
4. Spread the good news of God in the community, and you will be a blessing of hope. You will give them the chance to begin to know who you know.
5. Live the life of holiness. Live it so that no one can say one bad thing about you, and you will be a true disciple; you will have the blessing of following.
6. Do not fear anyone except God. Fear Him who made the body and the soul. The world will rob you of your future if you do not stand up and say, I will go in there and help that person. This church has a right to help anybody as long as we are willing to dig deep into that pocket that God has filled with His gold, and from this heart that He has enriched by His Spirit. Offer salvation to whoever we see. We will stand as the honor guard of a king.
7. Let us men be courageous before God our Father. Let us men lead and serve our families with the love of God our Father. Strong really comes from love. Let us men lead and serve God's chosen people within His Chruch. Let us men lead and serve His wayward and broken people in His community. Let us together, men and women, follow obediently our Commander and our Savior, God. Let us together help to build His community here on the earth in our homes, in our community, and in our world. Let us together be His courageous people, witnessing to the powerful and mighty God we love and serve. With Him nothing is impossible.
I want to recall those fateful words in Joshua 24 verses 14-15;
"Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."