Joshua: “Winning Edge”

Joshua • “Winning Edge”

Joshua 23:1-16

December 11 – 15, 2017

 
When you drive in a heavy downpour of rain or in a blizzard you better drive with an extra sense of focus and attention to detail. Several years ago we were traveling up to Iowa and hit a blizzard/ice storm about Oklahoma City. There is nothing but a barbed wire fence between OKC and the North Pole…I’m sure of it. For next several hours, we drove at 25 to 30mph across Oklahoma and Kansas until we were able to get north of the storm’s path. Driving like that for that long was some of the most difficult driving I have ever done because I was continually driving on edge. My body was tense and my focus on the road was concentrated because I could not relax for one moment until we cleared the storm. When we finally did, I continued to drive on edge until we arrived home because it was difficult to unwind. Have you ever experienced that kind of driving? I bet you have.

 

When it comes to winning, you will hear coaches talk about the importance of playing with an edge. They want their teams to be physically prepared and mentally focused with attention to detail, but even more than that, they want them playing with an intensity that doesn’t let up until the game is won. Intensity in competition is sought by athletes and desired by coaches. An intense athlete performs with purpose, single mindedness, and laser focused energy. Regardless of whether the intensity comes from inner motivations or from the coach’s pre-game pep talk, what they desire is a “Winning Edge.”

 

For you to win God’s way, you have to find that Winning Edge in your walk with the Lord.

This week in the life of Joshua you will find Joshua encouraging the leaders to demonstrate a winning edge.

1 A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, 2 Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. 3 And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. 4 Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5 The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. 6 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7 that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8 but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10 One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. 12 For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you. 14 “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15 But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.” Joshua 23:1-16

 

As you can tell, Joshua gathered the leaders for some parting words of encouragement. He had faithfully followed the Lord and led Israel well for many years and now he is preparing “go the way of all the earth…” Joshua is preparing to die. Parenthetically, this is a good place to encourage all of you to make sure you have all your preparations done for the end of your life. No one knows the day or hour of death, but it comes to us all…sometimes in season and sometimes out of season.

 

By the way, have you made preparations for:

  • A Last Will and Testament – decisions about who gets your ‘stuff’ when your life is over?
  • Durable Power of Attorney for HealthCare – who will speak for you when you can no longer speak for yourself
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances – who will manage your finances when you can no longer speak for yourself
  • Directives to Physicians – Instructions regarding ‘Do Not Resuscitate” whether or not in a medical facility. How much extraordinary effort do you wish to be made on your behalf.
  • Planning your Memorial service – making decisions and plans in advance keep your family for having to make emotional decisions at the last.
  • I encourage you to get a copy of ForeTalk Seminars …see https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BEPN9ZI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

It’s all about taking care of tomorrow today.

 

ForeTalk is about life affirmation, taking control of and directing your future. There are a number of significant events in life that you know will occur. You can simply drift without direction, or you can discuss, prepare and plan for their arrival by taking care of tomorrow today.

 

That’s what Joshua was doing here. Chapters 23 and 24 make up the final words of this great leader. We’ll look at chapter 24 next week. This must have been a powerful and poignant moment for this great leader as he prepared to transition leadership of the nation to the next group of leaders that God had put in place.

 

In this address, Joshua reminded them of all that the Lord had done for them in the past. Read it again in verses 3-4 and 9-10. He reminded them of what the Lord had planned for them in verse 5. It became clear in verse 4, what the Lord had done in driving out many nations, there were still some nations remaining in the land that needed to be removed. Remember a few weeks ago that the Canaanites persisted in the Land and Israel relaxed, gave up trying to remove them and let them stay. Israel had lost its edge. Israel had some work to do in purifying the land as God wanted them too. Joshua’s charge to the leaders was filled with pastoral care. He wanted the best for them and the nation as they continued to possess the Promised Land.

 

MONDAY: The Primary Focus Of This Charge Was To Tell Them How To Claim And Retain The Promised Land.

How can you know that? Look in the final few verses, 14-16, Joshua reminded them of God’s faithfulness to His promises. However, don’t overlook the words of warning given in verses 15 – 16 if they “transgress the covenant.”

15 But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.” Joshua 23:15-16

 

These words were a grim reminder of the blessings and curses promised by God in Deuteronomy. Two times in these verses Joshua called the Promised Land a “good land.” Through these words of encouragement and words of warning Joshua was telling them how to both claim and retain the land. But there’s a little more than that…Joshua wanted them to know how live and enjoy the good land that God had given them. This was the land that they always wanted to dwell in. This was the land that was first promised to Abraham and that promise was being fulfilled through his descendants. This was the land flowing with milk and honey and Joshua wanted them to know how to live abundantly in the good land the Lord had given them.

  • Do you know that this land, this Promised Land that the Lord has given to you to follow Him is a good land?
  • Do you know that the Lord wants you to know how to live abundantly in this good land?
  • Do you know that the Lord wants you to enjoy living here?

 

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” I think that’s important because many people have a perception that God is an atomic killjoy…that He sits on His throne in heaven establishing rules for you to follow so that you won’t have any fun in this life. But, that perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. He wants us to enjoy life and live abundantly in the good land where you live, where you work, and where you play. Joshua wanted his people to know how live and enjoy the good land that God had given them.

 

What was the key to retaining and enjoying the good land? The answer to that question is important because not knowing it could cause God to remove them from the land. What was the key for both then and for now? A Winning Edge. If they didn’t maintain a winning edge, then they would lose, a point Joshua made crystal clear. Losing was a real possibility. For you to win God’s way and enjoy the life that God has given to you in our Promised Land, then you must take a lesson from the Israelites who gave us a bad example. Just like Joshua urged his people to maintain a winning edge, so must you and I or we will suffer the same fate that the rebellious people did in the aftermath of Joshua’s day. How can you be sure you don’t repeat their mistakes?

 

Living the Word Applications: You Maintain A Winning Edge By…

 

TUESDAY: Faithful Obedience v. 6, 13.

6 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left,”

 

Where did he see this concept of an ‘edge’? It’s right here. Joshua called them to faithful obedience, “turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor the left…” In following the Lord, you will walk daily on this edge of being influenced by the world to the right or the left away from God’s Word. When the children of Israel let their guard down they were influenced by the people of the land and the consequences were removal from the land. No wiggle room. Look at verse 13.

13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.

 

If they relaxed their attention to God’s Word then, there were dire consequences to pay. Immediately after Joshua died, the cycle began repetitively. At least thirteen examples are included in the Book of Judges alone, and in the history of apostasy that caused both Israel and Judah to be carried off into captivity. It seems that they could never learn from their own history. Disobedience to God’s plan and provision always carried stiff penalties…always…then and now.

Does that sound like enjoying life? Does that sound like abundant life in the land? NO! The same thing will happen to you if and when you turn to the right or left from God’s Word. The way to enjoy life is to be passionately and fearlessly faithful to obey God’s Word.

7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. Joshua 1:7

 

If you are going to maintain a Winning Edge, you must demonstrate faithful obedience. Are there places in your life where you compromise obedience? Think carefully, there are dire consequences for you and for our culture and our nation if we fail. This is an urgent call to fidelity to God.

 

WEDNESDAY: Lean Away and Lean Into… v. 7-8.

In verses 7-8, Joshua mentioned “not mixing” with the nations, but “clinging to the Lord your God…”As you walk this edge of following the Lord, you are in the world that pummels you with influences that will tear you away from following the Lord.

 

Joshua called his people to separate from the influence of the people or to lean away from them and to lean into the Lord. In verse 8, the word “cling” meant to epoxy yourself to something and in this case it meant to epoxy yourself to the Lord. In other words, you lean away from the world and its influences and lean into the Lord. You must be leaning into the Lord or clinging to Him so tightly that nothing in the world comes between you and Him. Is there anything or anyone that has come between you and your relationship with the Lord? For you to maintain a Winning Edge you must lean away from the world and lean into the Lord no matter what.

 

THURSDAY: Love the Lord…First v. 11.

11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.”

 

Loving the Lord was the primary command the Lord always gave His people.

4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Deuteronomy 6:4-6.

 

Loving the Lord was the primary command that Jesus gave to people as the greatest commandment.

37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

 

The primary problem that all people have with the Lord is a love problem. You love this world and the things of this world more than the Lord. The problem of the church at Ephesus in Revelation was “You have left your first love.” Joshua said for you to maintain a Winning Edge you must love the Lord first. You cannot relax in pursuit of loving the Lord. You must continue to grow in your love for the Lord. How can you measure your love for the Lord? How can you know He is first? Jesus answered that question for you.

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21

Hear me carefully, there is no such thing as being a little pregnant. Either you are or you are not. You will either love God through your faithful obedience…leaning away from the world and leaning into the Lord or you will not. Will a careful review of how God dealt with Israel from Egypt to the end of Israel in AD 135 be enough to keep you scared straight? It better, your life and our culture depend on it.

 

The people of Israel were given warning after warning and sign after sign, and they always leaned away from God. They made up elaborate schemes pretending to honor and follow God until He finally said ENOUGH.

 

It that happened to those He chose as His special people, what do you think will become of us if you and I don’t take seriously the command to Love God with all your hearts and lives?

 

FRIDAY: Remember The Integrity Of The Promiser…God v. 14.

To wrap up this week and to both encourage and remind you of the consequences of disobedience, see again v. 14. Joshua reminded the leaders that “not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you.” He said as they entered the land, “If you obey me, then you will experience success and enjoy the fruits of the Promised Land.” Big IF!

 

Have you ever watched an infomercial, like “Flex Seal,” for instance, and hesitated to purchase the product because you weren’t sure you could coat a screen door in the bottom of a boat and not sink? Isn’t your confidence in a promise based on the integrity of the one guaranteeing fulfillment? I’ve never bought any FlexSeal, so I don’t really know if it works. If I could buy it at a big box store where I could take it back, I might give it a try. The hype of the infomercial just makes me skeptical, in spite of “Wait, there is more!”

 

God cannot lie. God always keeps His promises. Remember the integrity of the Promiser…God. You will enjoy life in this good land by maintaining a Winning Edge because of the integrity of the Promiser.

 

Satan began the process of calling God a liar in the Garden of Eden and he continues to do the same today. Please make your decisions about Winning God’s way based on the promises of God and not on anything else…period. Get your Edge and keep it all the time.