Joshua: Winning Faith

Joshua • “Winning Faith”

Joshua 2:1-24

October 2-6, 2017

 
Have you ever wondered how you can please God? I have found that most people that believe in God struggle with the question, “

How can I please God

?” Here’s the answer to that question.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

 

This verse tells us that the key to pleasing God is faith because it is through faith that we believe that He not only exists but that we draw near to Him. The most basic component of a relationship with God is faith. The title of this week’s study is “

Winning Faith

.”

 

How Can You Make God Happy?

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-make-god-happy-701961

(An adaptation from Jack Zavada 2014)
On the surface, this seems like a question you might ask before

Christmas: “What do you get the person who has everything?” God, who created and owns the entire universe, doesn’t really need anything from you, yet it’s relationship we’re talking about. You want a deeper, more intimate friendship

with God, and that’s what he wants too.

 

Jesus Christ

revealed what you can do to make God happy:

37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39, NIV

 

Pleasing God By Loving Him

An on-again, off-again effort won’t do. Neither will a lukewarm love. No, God wants you to give him your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind.

 

You’ve probably been so deeply in love with another person that they constantly filled your thoughts. You couldn’t get them out of your mind, but you didn’t want to try. When you love someone passionately, you put your whole being into it, down to your very soul.

 

That’s the way

David loved God. David was consumed by God, intensely in love with his Lord. When you read the Psalms

, you find David pouring out his feelings, unashamed of his desire for this great God:

49 I love you, O Lord, my strength … Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O Lord; I will sing praises to your name. 50 He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

Psalm 18:1, 49-50, NIV

 

At times David was a shameful sinner. All of us

sin, yet God called David “a man after my own heart” because David’s love for God was authentic. You show your love for God by keeping His Commandments

, but all of us do that poorly. God sees your meager efforts as acts of love, just as parents appreciate their child’s crude crayon portrait of them.

 

The Bible tells us God looks into our hearts, seeing the purity of our motives. Your unselfish desire to love God pleases him.

 

When two people are in love, they look for every opportunity to be together as they delight in the process of getting to know each other. Loving God is expressed in the same way, by

spending time in his presence—listening for his voice, thanking and praising him, or reading

and contemplating his Word.
You also make God happy in how you respond to his

answers to your prayers. People who value the gift over the Giver are selfish. On the other hand, if you accept God’s will

as being good and right—even if it appears otherwise—your attitude is spiritually mature.

 

Pleasing God By Loving Others

God calls us to love one another, and that can be hard. Everyone you encounter is not lovable. In fact, some people are downright nasty. How can you love them?

 

The secret lies in “

love your neighbor as yourself

.” You are not perfect. You will never be perfect. You know you have faults, yet God commands you to love yourself. If you can love yourself despite your faults, you can love your neighbor despite his or her faults. You can try to see them as God sees them. You can look for their good traits, as God does.

 

Again, Jesus is our example of

how to love others. He was not impressed by status or appearance. He loved lepers, the poor, the blind, the rich and the angry. He loved people who were great sinners, like tax collectors

and prostitutes. He loves you too.

35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John

13:35, NIV

 

You cannot follow Christ and be haters. The two do not go together. To make God happy, you must be radically different from the rest of the world. Jesus’ disciples are commanded to love one another and forgive one another even when our feelings tempt us not to.

 

Pleasing God By Loving Yourself

A surprisingly large number of Christians do not love themselves. They consider it prideful to see themselves as worthwhile.

 

If you were raised in an environment where humility was praised and pride was considered a sin, remember that your worth comes not from how you look or what you do, but from the fact that God loves you deeply. You can rejoice that God has adopted you as one of his children and nothing can separate you from his love.

 

When you have a healthy love for yourself—

when you see yourself how God sees you—you treat yourself with kindness. You don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake; you forgive yourself. You take good care of your health. You have a future filled with hope because Jesus died for you

.

 

Pleasing God by loving him, your neighbor, and yourself is no small task. It will challenge you to your limits and take the rest of your life to learn to do well, but it’s the highest calling any person can have.
 

 

 

MONDAY: For You To Win God’s Way You Must Demonstrate A Winning Faith In This World.

But what are the qualities of a winning faith? Within the verses of this chapter, you will discover a winning faith in the most unlikely of places.

1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land. 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land. 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. 8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men said to her, Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you. 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.

Joshua 2:1-15

 

David M. Howard is professor of Old Testament at Bethel Theological Seminary. In his New American Commentary on Joshua he opines: You might suspect that these spies had a sinful motive in showing up at the house of Rahab, but the grammar of this passage does not point in that direction at all. It was not uncommon for homes like Rahab’s to be inns or taverns for others to gather. Therefore, it would have been a logical place for the spies to gather information about their investigation into the Promise Land.[i]

 

Also, it may have been there that the spies were noticed by others and their presence reported to the King. Moving beyond these details, you arrive at the central truth of this chapter and that is the

winning faith of Rahab demonstrated in verses 6-11. Take note of some of the qualities of a winning faith

.

 

 

 

TUESDAY: Qualities of Winning Faith

Quality #1: The confession of her faith v. 8,11.

She confessed that she knew the Lord had given the land into the hands of Israel because their hearts melted at hearing of the miracle of the Red Sea and the conquering of the Amorite Kings. But then in verse 11 she says, “

Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath

.” For her to make this confession she acknowledges that the Lord God is the only true God. The phrase “in the heavens above and earth beneath…” is only found three other times in the OT. In Exodus 20:4 and Deuteronomy 5:8 it is declared in denouncing idols.

8 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Deuteronomy 5:8

 

Here is a confession of the exclusivity of God.

39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

Deuteronomy 4:39

 

In this confession, she was denouncing idols in an idol worshiping culture and confessing that there is only ONE true God, the God of Israel. Her confession of faith agreed with God’s confession of Himself. People in our world today have a lot of opinions about God, but do their opinions agree with what God has confessed about Himself in His Word?

 

You see it’s not merely important that we have a confession of faith

about God

, but the importance is that our confession agree with what God has confessed about Himself. The people of the Promised Land had a lot of opinions about gods, but they didn’t agree with what the Lord God confessed about Himself. That brings me to the second quality of her faith…

 

Quality #2: The strength of her faith v. 8-11.

 
Two times in our passage Rahab mentions the effects the power of the Lord had on the hearts the people in the land. She said in verse

8fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.

 

In verse 11 she confessed,

11our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you,”

The hearts of the people in the land melted not into faith in the Lord but into rebellion against the Lord. However, Rahab’s heart melted into a submissive faith in the Lord. She demonstrated a strength of faith in the Lord because she was the only person in the entire land of Canaan who turned to the Lord.

 

Think about that for a moment. The entire nation heard what the Lord had done at the Red Sea and in conquering the Amorite Kings, but she was the only one who heard and placed her faith in the Lord. In a Canaanite culture that worshiped multiple gods and idols, she turned away from idols to serve the ONE true and living God. ONE lady standing for the Lord in a pagan land. That is strength of faith because she was willing to stand alone. There might be some who would say something like, “

Her faith was superficial and circumstantial because she was trying to save herself when Jericho was destroyed.”

However, her faith was sincerely strong NOT circumstantially superficial. We know that because of the third quality…

 

 

Quality #3: The Works Of Her Faith v. 3-7; 16-18.

The key passage for this week says she protected the spies and sent them safely out of the city by lowering them down a rope from her window. In doing so, the spies told her to hang a scarlet cord out the window and any in her house would be saved from destruction. When she confessed her faith and demonstrated her strength of faith in the Lord, she identified herself with the Lord and His people Israel. She was not only saying, “

You are my God,” but also “Your people are my people.” To identify with God’s people Israel was to identify with God and to leave the people she had known her entire life. Her protection of the spies put her life at risk for faith in the Lord and protecting His people. In fact, Rahab is mentioned in the New Testament Book of James as having an authentic faith

, and she was in the lineage from Boaz to Obed to Jesse to David and ultimately to Jesus, himself. Not possible unless she had genuine faith…winning faith.

 

James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, wrote his New Testament letter to combat superficial faith and one of the major qualities he said that was indicative of true faith was that it works itself out in the way we live. Listen to what he wrote of Rahab.

25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2:25-26

 

In no way was James saying that you can be saved by works…in fact it is the opposite. The word “

justified” that means declared right with God

, is in a tense that emphasizes something that happened in the past that continues into the present. Rahab was right with God and continued in the present through her works…receiving the messengers and sending them safely out another way.

 

True faith moves beyond confession to working itself out in the way we live.

A winning faith works. Rahab demonstrated three qualities of a winning faith so what do they mean to YOU so you can win God’s Way?

37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39, NIV

 

NOW WHAT?

What do these qualities mean to you so that you can win God’s way?

 

Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning faith by…
 

 

WEDNESDAY: Personalizing Your Faith v. 8.

The name of God that Rahab confessed in verse 8 and verse 11 was the name יְהֹוָה “

Yahweh.” This was the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush indicating the personal relationship He would have with Moses and the nation of Israel. Rahab knew this name “Yahweh” and had a personal faith in Him. A winning faith is one that is personal between an individual and the Lord God. It moves beyond believing because my parents believe or my friends believe to believing because I believe. It moves beyond Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world to Jesus dying on the cross for me and I needed Him to. Have you personalized your faith?

A winning faith is personal.

 

Some of us teach

Kids Beach Club Bible

on Tuesday afternoons. Each week we encourage these precious kiddos to understand the simple basics of personalizing their faith:
  • All of us are sinners and cannot get to God on our own.
  • God sent His son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sin. He died in our place.
  • God calls all of us to accept the gift of Jesus’ death and to confess that He is in charge of our lives once we accept Him
  • Finally, God intends for us to live like we believe in Him…to love Him, to love others and to love ourselves as He does.
  • In the vernacular, it’s put your money where your mouth is, don’t just tell me about your faith…show me.

 

 

THURSDAY: Standing Alone v. 8-11.

Rahab’s faith was so personal that she was willing to stand alone in a culture that believed in many gods and many paths to those gods. In our culture today people believe that there are many religious pathways to God. But winning faith is one that is so strong it is willing to stand alone in a culture that is against the truth of God. A winning faith that stands alone and confesses faith in God that is in agreement with what God has confessed about Himself. He is the One true God and there is one way to Him and that is faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Let me ask you this…in how many of these situations would you be willing to stand alone:

  • You are a Christian in a trade that caters to the public and are approached by a same-sex couple wanting you to provide wedding services. Would you stand alone?
  • You bring your Bible to the workplace and are told to leave it home? Would you stand alone?
  • You wear a shirt with a Christian fish or cross on it to school and are asked to take it off or turn it inside out? Would you stand alone?
  • You employ enough people that the government wants you to provide birth control including the ‘morning after’ pill to your employees against your beliefs. Would you stand alone?

 

The lawyers for the Christian owners of a Minnesota video-services company are firing back after a federal judge there called the couple’s efforts to limit their wedding work to heterosexual couples “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

Carl and Angel Larsen operate Telescope Media, a video business that the Larsens want to include wedding videos. But they have a problem in the recently amended Minnesota Human Rights Act, which forbids businesses to treat people differently based upon “race, color, national origin, sex, disability (or) sexual orientation.”

 

Violation of the Human Rights Act could result in fines as high as $25,000 per incident.

The Larsens launched a pre-emptive lawsuit that was rejected last week by federal Judge John Mannheim, who wrote that the effort by the Larsens to film weddings but decline requests to video same-sex ceremonies was “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

 

The Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, is representing the Larsens. Senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs told WND and Radio America that Judge Tunheim’s rationale is way off base.

“That comparison is entirely false. The Larsens do not discriminate based on of any status,” Scruggs explained. “They are willing to serve all people, including people of all different sexual orientations. They just can’t promote messages they disagree with and events they disagree with. That’s a common-sense distinction.” He said the judge’s disturbing language did not stop there.

 

“The court acknowledged that this law was raising First Amendment concerns yet said that was only an ‘incidental burden’ on the Larsens’ First Amendment rights, when they are compelled to create and promote videos of a same-sex wedding ceremony,” Scruggs said.

 

“That is a direct assault on the First Amendment,” he added. “We’re hopeful that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the appellate court, will be receptive of our arguments to protect the Larsens’ rights.”

Scruggs said a bedrock American constitutional principle is at stake here.

 

“All Americans should have the right to choose what messages they promote or the messages they don’t promote,” he said. “It is a great burden on our clients’ freedoms for the state to come in and say, ‘You’ve got to create from scratch a video that promotes and honors a same-sex wedding ceremony.”

 

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2017/09/u-s-christians-alarming-choice-betray-faith-or-close-your-businesses/#O9ddTOvaAPP0H5ch.99

 

This is not unique or exhaustive, but a real world example of what others have had to do to stand alone.

 

 

FRIDAY: Working Out Your Faith…Caring for People v. 16-18.

Rahab worked out her faith by caring for the spies. You might think, “Well that’s a pretty simple thing to do” but consider this; she took great risk in caring for those spies because she could have been killed for hiding them from the King and his men. As Christ followers, caring for people is mentioned several times in the New Testament as a sign of real faith.

15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:15-17

 

As you encounter people with needs, work out your faith by meeting their needs. The book of James challenges you in several areas of working out our faith. Read through this little book and let speak to you about developing a winning faith that works out. A winning faith works itself out by caring for the needs of people.

 

In closing, I want you to turn your thoughts back to Hebrews 11:6 that says it is faith that pleases God. In this chapter, God’s Word describes for us several people who lived by the kind of faith that pleased God. Rahab worked out her faith by taking the risk of helping the spies.

31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31

 

Just some food for thought:

  • Do you have clothes you never wear that someone else could use?
  • Do you have an elderly neighbor who could use some help mowing the yard?
  • Have you gotten the names of service men/women who could use a card of encouragement and a care-package of cookies in far away places?
  • Have you called the church office to see if there is anyone on whom you could make a call in the hospital?
  • Is there someone in the nursing home who could use a hug today?
  • Have you volunteered at Grace Bridge?
  • Did you pick up the tab for a first responder’s lunch?
  • Did you write a thank you note to the church staff?
  • Can you offer a ride to the store for a homebound person?
  • Have you made “monster cookies” (Google it…they are scrumptious) and put them in plastic tubs to take to neighbors you do not know?
  • Have you participated in First Connect and Can We Talk?
  • Please feel free to add to the list.

 

Winning Faith really is about PUT UP or SHUT UP. Don’t just tell me about your faith,

show me

.

 

That’s a winning faith that pleases God.

 

[i] Howard, David M. The New American Commentary: Joshua.

Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. Volume 5. 98-99.

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